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Inside the Matchup
Week 7
10/18/17; Updated: 10/20/17

By: Andy Swanson | Jason Katz | Nick Caron | Jake Gordon





- Green highllight indicates plus matchup (top eight)
- Red highlight indicates negative matchup (bottom eight)

Chiefs @ Raiders - (Caron)

Passing Game Thoughts: The Kansas City offense has been one of the league’s most surprising stories so far this season but the lone undefeated team fell at home this past week to the Steelers. While the Pittsburgh defense has been off-and-on over the past couple of seasons, the truth is that they seem to have the Kansas City offense figured out, having allowed an average of just 14 points per game to them over their past three games stemming back to the beginning of 2016. It’s easy to think that other teams will quickly follow what the Steelers were able to do schematically but not many other teams are equipped to do so. One team that seems to have been able to figure out the Kansas City offense as of late, however, is the Raiders, who conceded just one passing touchdown to Alex Smith in their two games against him in 2016. The Chiefs did win both games fairly handedly so it’s certainly possible that Smith could’ve done more if the pressure was on him to do so, but he simply didn’t need to.

In 2017, Smith has been one of the league’s premiere quarterbacks, particularly getting the ball to tight end Travis Kelce who has caught at least four passes in all but one contest and remains one of the elite options at his position. Wide receiver Tyreek Hill has also caught four or more receptions in every game this season and while he hasn’t caught a touchdown since Week 3, he’ll continue to be a high upside WR2 with a safe floor given his impressive efficiency on the targets he’s been getting.

OAK FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.20
OAK FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.10
OAK FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.25
OAK FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.16

Running Game Thoughts: Kareem Hunt continues to make a claim to be not only the 2017 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year but also perhaps the Fantasy Football MVP as he compiled another nice fantasy day this past week despite the first negative game script that his team has seen this season. Hunt’s rushing productivity was surprisingly low as he rushed for just 21 yards on nine attempts against the Steelers in Week 5 but his usage in the passing game was critical to his fantasy production as he caught five of his six targets for 89 yards, putting him over 100 scrimmage yards for the sixth consecutive game. He has not been below that 100-yard milestone in any single game yet to start his career. Hunt’s ability to make plays as both a runner and as a receiver makes him one of the safest plays in all of fantasy football as he seemingly will not be denied the ball no matter the numbers on the scoreboard. This week Hunt will be on the road but he’ll get an Oakland defense that just got run over and through to the tune of 150 scrimmage yards and two scores by Melvin Gordon. They did add NaVorro Bowman this week but he won’t likely be fully integrated into the defense on a short week. Either way, Hunt is once again among the top plays in all of fantasy football.

Value Meter:
QB2: Alex Smith
RB1: Kareem Hunt
WR2: Tyreek Hill
TE1: Travis Kelce
Bench: Charcandrick West, De’Anthony Thomas, Albert Wilson

Passing Game Thoughts: Derek Carr might not be at full strength but he’s gutting it out and trying to keep the Raiders in the playoff hunt. Unfortunately fantasy owners haven’t been getting anywhere near what they’ve been hoping for out of Carr and especially not out of wide receiver Amari Cooper who has now failed to reach even 35 receiving yards in five straight contests. The fall from grace for Cooper has been brutal and it’s come time to strongly consider benching him for even top-30 options at the position. The upside is still there but until he and Carr start clicking, there just isn’t much to be optimistic about. He’s seen six or fewer targets in four of his past five games and he hasn’t scored a touchdown since Week 1, making him one of the biggest busts in all of fantasy football so far this season.

Carr’s favorite target continues to be Michael Crabtree who has compiled impressive fantasy numbers and did so even when Carr was out with an injury. Crabtree has caught exactly six passes in four of his first five games, including five total touchdown receptions. Tight end Jared Cook remains a player to watch but is simply among the group of many players at his position who is essentially touchdown-dependent for fantasy production. That’s unlikely to happen this week as he’ll face a Chiefs defense that has not allowed a single receiving touchdown to an opposing tight end this season and that includes games against Rob Gronkowski, Zach Ertz, Antonio Gates, Hunter Henry and Jordan Reed. Crabtree is unfortunately the only strong play in this offense as he’ll be up against a Kansas City defense that has given up the second-most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers so far this season, including some big games to opposing WR1’s.

KC FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.12
KC FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.19
KC FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.2
KC FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.23

Running Game Thoughts: Although he had his second-best rushing day of the season, Marshawn Lynch has been a bust for fantasy purposes as he has now failed to exceed even 12 fantasy points in any game this season. Much of that, of course, is because he has essentially been non-existent in the passing game which does certainly does not help his floor as it does for many other backs. Perhaps no other RB1 in the league is used less in the passing game than Lynch and that doesn’t appear to be changing anytime soon as he has still not been targeted even three times in any game so far this season. With that being the case, Lynch is essentially a touchdown-or-bust type of player whose upside is fairly limited due to the overall mediocrity of the Oakland offense. The Chiefs did get abused by Le’Veon Bell this past week but Lynch is no Bell at this stage of his career and Kansas City has mostly been very good against opposing running backs. No other back that the Chiefs have played this season has gone over 90 total yards in a game and they’ve only given up two total touchdowns to running backs over their past five contests. There may be better matchups ahead for Lynch, but this is not a great one and he should really only be trusted as a Flex play or perhaps a low-end RB2 in non-PPR formats.

Value Meter:
QB2: Derek Carr
WR1: Michael Crabtree
Flex: Marshawn Lynch, Amari Cooper
TE1: Jared Cook (low-end)
Bench: DeAndre Washington, Jalen Richard, Seth Roberts

Prediction: Chiefs 24, Raiders 16 ^ Top

Cardinals @ Rams (London) - (Caron)

Passing Game Thoughts: Carson Palmer statistically couldn’t have been much better than he was in Week 6 when he annihilated the Buccaneers defense to the tune of 283 yards and three touchdowns on 18-of-22 passing. His one real mistake ended up being an interception but Palmer’s fantasy owners still have to be very optimistic that he and the Arizona offense seems to have new life after the addition of Adrian Peterson. More importantly, Larry Fitzgerald is back into his groove of being a WR1 in PPR leagues as he’s now pulled in double-digit receptions in two of his six games while also catching three touchdowns in his past four contests. Few players in the league see more targets than Fitzgerald which makes him a very safe option in almost any matchup. Unfortunately the rest of the receivers in this offense are extremely difficult to predict as Jaron and John Brown, along with J.J. Nelson, have all seen their numbers fluctuate greatly from game to game. Fantasy owners could justify putting any of them into their lineups as a WR3/Flex, especially in non-PPR formats, but they’re all capable of producing zeroes in if things don’t go well. The Rams defense has had a fairly easy schedule in regards to opposing quarterbacks but Palmer and the Cardinals should be able to find space to make some plays in this one, particularly if the game becomes a bit of a shootout as many believe it could.

LAR FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.16
LAR FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.1
LAR FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.24
LAR FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.22

Running Game Thoughts: The haters were in full force when Adrian Peterson signed with the Cardinals this past week but the veteran showed that he still has something left in the gas tank when he exploded with a monster performance in the first game with his new team. Peterson’s 134-yard, two touchdown performance was his best single-game fantasy day since Week 11 of the 2015 season and the 26 carries he saw gives us plenty of reason to be optimistic about his fantasy outlook going forward this season. In fact, Peterson’s huge day could’ve been even bigger if not for a long run being called back due to a holding call. If that isn’t enough to convince you to get Peterson into your lineup this week, consider his opposition. The Rams have given up by far the most fantasy points to opposing running backs so far this season. Not only have they given up the most yards-from-scrimmage to the position, but they’ve also given up the most touchdowns. Andre Ellington (quad) should see more work in this game than he saw a week ago but he is a risky play given the amount of snaps Peterson is playing. Still, in a PPR, you could do worse than Ellington as a Flex play. Ellington is battling injury so check inactive reports Sunday to make sure he’s on the field.

Value Meter:
QB1: Carson Palmer (low-end)
RB1: Adrian Peterson
WR1: Larry Fitzgerald
Flex: Andre Ellington (PPR), John Brown, Jaron Brown, J.J. Nelson
Bench: Kerwynn Williams, Jermaine Gresham

Passing Game Thoughts: Jared Goff got off to a strong start to the season but he’s since cooled off a bit over the past two weeks, throwing for just 410 yards and one total touchdown over that span with two interceptions. Some of that has been due to the effectiveness of the Rams running game but it’s also true that no Rams receiver has been able to create a consistent connection with Goff. The best option at the moment seems to be Robert Woods who hasn’t seen such a dramatic fluctuation from week to week, but he has also not even scored a touchdown yet this season. Cardinals shutdown cornerback Patrick Peterson is dealing with a quad injury that did prevent him from covering Mike Evans as often as the team would’ve liked him to, but with Peterson likely to be lined up on Sammy Watkins for much of the afternoon, look for Woods and possibly slot receiver Cooper Kupp to do some damage in this matchup against the Cardinals.

ARI FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.5
ARI FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.26
ARI FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.3
ARI FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.9

Running Game Thoughts: A strong candidate for NFL Comeback Player of the Year, Todd Gurley continues to produce huge numbers in this newly revitalized Los Angeles offense. He’s gone over 95 yards from scrimmage in all but one contest this season and he’s touching the ball as much as any back in the league, both as a runner and as a pass-catcher. While the Cardinals have done a good job of preventing rushing yardage this season, this still looks like a game where Gurley could produce decent enough numbers to be a solid RB1 for fantasy purposes. As long as he’s touching the ball as much as he is, Gurley gives fantasy owners one of the highest point floors of any back in the league.

Value Meter:
QB2: Jared Goff
RB1: Todd Gurley
Flex: Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp
Bench: Sammy Watkins, Tavon Austin, Gerald Everett, Tyler Higbee

Prediction: Rams 30, Cardinals 27 ^ Top

Cowboys @ 49ers - (Caron)

Passing Game Thoughts: The Cowboys have faced an onslaught of some of the best secondaries in the league to start the season and this is one of the best matchups that Dak Prescott has seen all season. The 49ers have given up 22 or more fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks in four straight contests, and that includes opponents like Jacoby Brissett, Kirk Cousins, Jared Goff and Carson Palmer – not exactly the who’s who of fantasy superstars. Dez Bryant has been decent so far this season but this seems like the kind of matchup that he could truly exploit. The 49ers have already given up four 100-yard days to opposing wide receivers and Bryant is still looking for his first. Either way, he’s one of the stronger bets to get into the end zone as he is consistently one of the most-targeted players in the league when his team gets into the red zone. Tight end Jason Witten has been wildly inconsistent in terms of production so far this season but his value in PPR formats is in the fact that the Cowboys consistently find ways to get him the ball despite his physical limitations at this point in his career. He’s a low-upside, high-floor PPR option at a tight end position that is void of many other players like that. The other receivers in this offense, namely Cole Beasley, Terrance Williams and Brice Butler, are not being targeted enough to be trustworthy assets even in decent matchups like this one. Particularly Beasley is not a great option in this game as the 49ers have actually done a fairly good job of containing opposing slot receivers so far this season.

SF FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.9
SF FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.2
SF FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.11
SF FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.32

Running Game Thoughts: Thanks to lawyers and the legal process, Ezekiel Elliott has escaped his suspension yet again and will be active in Week 7. The matchup looks great on paper and Zeke is definitely a RB1 but it’s worth noting the Cowboys offensive line has actually been quite bad at run blocking this season. After being one of the best units in the league over the past few seasons, the Cowboys offensive line is no longer opening up holes that a semi-truck could roll through. That alone could limit the upside of Zeke a bit. Still, this is a great spot for the Cowboys running attack against a 49ers defense that has given up the second-most fantasy points per game to opposing running backs so far this season and is now without perhaps its best run defender, NaVorro Bowman, who was released by the team this past week.

Value Meter:
QB1: Dak Prescott
RB1: Ezekiel Elliott
WR1: Dez Bryant
TE1: Jason Witten (PPR)
Flex: Terrance Williams
Bench: Cole Beasley, Brice Butler

Passing Game Thoughts: Now 0-6, the 49ers have seemingly decided to give up on trying to compete this season and instead begin analyzing their future by giving young players a chance to get on the field. That cannot be more evident than the team’s decision to move on from veteran Brian Hoyer and to rookie C.J. Beathard. Beathard got his first bit of playing time this past week, replacing Hoyer in the 49ers’ loss to the Redskins. Beathard showed some signs of life as he threw for 245 yards and a touchdown, but he did also throw an interception and he only completed 52.8 percent of his passes. Still, he did what fantasy owners can only hope for by targeting the team’s best receiver, Pierre Garcon, a good bit; before throwing a late-game touchdown pass to Aldrick Robinson. The Cowboys defense is certainly beatable and Garcon is worth a spot in most lineups but Beathard is probably not far enough along that fantasy owners should be relying on him in their lineups this week.

DAL FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.10
DAL FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.11
DAL FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.8
DAL FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.20

Running Game Thoughts: After a silly and hard-headed benching of Carlos Hyde in Week 5, Kyle Shanahan seemingly came back to his senses in Week 6 as he got the ball in Hyde’s hands 18 times in the 49ers’ close loss to the Redskins this past week. While he wasn’t particularly effective with his rushing attempts, averaging just 2.2 yards per carry on the day, Hyde was able to salvage his fantasy day by getting into the end zone twice and catching five passes for 47 yards. Hyde’s usage in the passing game has been one of the big changes that we’ve seen in the Shanahan era and it certainly helps boost his floor in PPR formats. The 49ers aren’t likely to win many games this season so being able to catch passes could be a hugely valuable asset for fantasy purposes going forward. Hyde will now face a Cowboys defense that has given up a 100-yard rusher in three of their first five games this season – the only opponents that didn’t have a 100-yard rusher against the Cowboys were the Giants in Week 1 and the Cardinals without David Johnson and prior to Adrian Peterson. Hyde is a great fantasy option at home this week as he’ll likely be the focal point of the San Francisco offense in this contest.

Value Meter:
RB1: Carlos Hyde
TE1: George Kittle (low-end)
Flex: Pierre Garcon
Bench: C.J. Beathard, Matt Breida, Marquise Goodwin, Aldrick Robinson, Trent Taylor

Prediction: Cowboys 23, 49ers 20 ^ Top

Broncos @ Chargers - (Caron)

Passing Game Thoughts: His final fantasy numbers weren’t all that bad because he was able to attempt 50 passes but make no mistake about it – Trevor Siemian was terrible on Sunday night in the Broncos’ surprising blowout home loss to the Giants. While it’s true that the New York secondary is quite talented, that alone can’t excuse what was perhaps the worst start of Siemian’s career. To make matters worse, Siemian will now be without wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders in the near future as the receiver recovers from injury, leaving only Demaryius Thomas as the lone viable fantasy option in this Denver passing game. The positive thing for Thomas owners is that, with Sanders out, Thomas’ targets should hypothetically go up. Of course, the Chargers defense will know that and could key in on taking Thomas away in this game, but they’re not really equipped to do that given all the injuries they’ve suffered.

LAC FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.22
LAC FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.13
LAC FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.7
LAC FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.30

Running Game Thoughts: In a week of some tremendous performances, few players disappointed more than C.J. Anderson in Week 6 who was seemingly set to have a monster game against a bad New York run defense. Anderson rushed for just 17 yards on nine carries while catching zero passes and failing to score. The negative game script and defensive game-planning certainly didn’t help Anderson’s case, but that performance is an example of what’s possible out of a player like Anderson who doesn’t necessarily have the physical talent to make big plays with his own raw skills. This week, though, he’ll get a Los Angeles defense that has given up a league-most 809 rushing yards to opposing running backs on the season. It’ll be hard for fantasy owners to forget about the garbage he left on our doorsteps in Week 6, but if you’re not going to play him in this matchup, when will you? Start him against the Chargers and hope that Trevor Siemian’s bad play doesn’t put the Broncos in an early deficit this week.

Value Meter:
RB1: C.J. Anderson (low-end)
WR2: Demaryius Thomas
Bench: Trevor Siemian, Jamaal Charles, Bennie Fowler, A.J. Derby

Passing Game Thoughts: Keenan Allen failed to live up to some lofty expectations in Week 6, but a five catch, 45-yard day is not necessarily terrible in PPR formats. That type of performance is about Allen’s floor as long as he stays healthy, which really makes him an interesting play even in what is a very difficult on paper. The Broncos haven’t allowed a single opposing receiver exceed even 65 yards against them in a game this season and certainly the pass defense was not the reason the Broncos fell to the Giants in Week 6. Still, Allen’s high target share on a week to week basis makes him a viable WR2 in this matchup. Unfortunately, the other wide receivers in this passing game, including rookie Mike Williams, should not be trusted in this contest. In fact, the only other player in the passing game who should be on fantasy radars against the Broncos is tight end Hunter Henry. Henry has seen his target share continue to creep up and Denver has struggled to shut down opposing tight ends in recent weeks.

DEN FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.21
DEN FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.32
DEN FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.26
DEN FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.6

Running Game Thoughts: Melvin Gordon continued his ascension toward becoming one of the best fantasy players in the entire league this past week as he compiled an impressive 150 total yards of offense, scoring both as a runner and as a receiver, in the Chargers’ Week 6 victory over the Raiders. Gordon has now scored a whooping seven touchdowns in six games this season and 19 in his past 20 games going back to the start of the 2016 season. Gordon is one of the few true “bell cow” backs who plays almost every snap for his team and that gives him not tremendous upside but also a great floor. His production against the Broncos has been excellent since the start of 2016, too. He compiled an impressive 249 total yards in two games against the Broncos in 2016 and got into the end zone with 79 total yards when these teams squared off back in Week 1. Gordon is one of the top plays in fantasy football, especially against a reeling Denver run defense that just got humiliated by Orleans Darkwa on Sunday Night Football.

Value Meter:
QB2: Philip Rivers
RB1: Melvin Gordon
WR2: Keenan Allen
TE1: Hunter Henry
Bench: Tyrell Williams, Mike Williams, Antonio Gates

Prediction: Chargers 23, Broncos 20 ^ Top

Saints @ Packers - (Swanson)

Passing Game Thoughts: Drew Brees is quietly having a mediocre season by his standards with 21.3 fantasy points per game, the second-fewest points since his first season with the Saints in 2016. Part of his decline can be attributed to a tough opening week on the road against Minnesota, while negative game scripts created by a surprisingly strong defense has reduced the necessity for the 38-year-old future first-ballot Hall of Famer to throw the ball. At an average of 36 pass attempts per game, Brees is on pace for roughly 575 attempts on the season, nearly 100 less than he threw in 2016.

Although he currently ranked 12th in points per game, Brees owners should feel comfortable starting him this week against a Packers defense that has allowed the 17th-most points to opposing quarterbacks, and the Brett Hundley-led Packers offense could provide some short fields for the Saints offense. On the same note, the Saints defense could once again limit the need to Brees to pass the ball excessively, and the two-headed ground attack of Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara could also restrict Brees’ scoring.

Second-year wide receiver Michael Thomas has been one of the fantasy assets hurt by the reduction of pass attempts by Brees and negative game scripts, with the former Ohio State Buckeye failing to reach the century mark in any game this season. Thomas enters Week 7 ranked as the 19th wide receiver at 8.8 FPts/G, with two receiving touchdowns and 321 yards on 43 targets. Assuming this game does not get out of hand with special teams or defensive scores, Thomas should be in line for his best game of the season against a banged-up Green Bay secondary.

Injuries to an already struggling Packers secondary are positives for Brees and the passing game, as starting cornerbacks Davon House and Kevin King were inactive last week against the Vikings, along with starting safety, Morgen Burnett. In addition, cornerback Quentin Rollins suffered a season-ending Achilles injury and was placed on IR on Monday.

GB FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.17
GB FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.9
GB FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.15
GB FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.31

Running Game Thoughts: Mark Ingram delivered his best game of the season with Adrian Peterson no longer in the picture, with 114 yards and two scores on 25 carries, along with five catches for 36 yards. The 27-point performance against the Lions vaulted Ingram up to 14th on the season at 11.3 FPts/G, just behind Aaron Jones and Carlos Hyde. Rookie Alvin Kamara also benefitted from the departure of Peterson with 10 carries for 75 yards, both season highs for the first year player from Tennessee.

Both players are excellent plays against the Packers defense that ranks ninth in fantasy points allowed to RBs. Six different running backs have posted double-digit point performances against the Pack in the past five weeks, highlighted by Jerick McKinnon’s 21.9 point game last week in Minnesota.

Value Meter:
QB1: Drew Brees (Elite)
RB1: Mark Ingram (Low-end)
RB2: Alvin Kamara (Mid-Range)
WR1: Michael Thomas (Elite)
TE2: Coby Fleener (Low-End)

Passing Game Thoughts: Aaron Rodgers suffered a fractured collarbone against the Vikings on Sunday and will require surgery that will likely cost him the rest of the regular season. Former UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley assumes the role as starting quarterback for the Packers, with head coach Mike McCarthy telling reporters on Monday that the team has no intention of bringing in a free agent like Colin Kaepernick to compete for the job.

Hundley completed 19-of-34 passes for 157 yards in reserve of Rodgers last week, with one passing touchdown and three interceptions. Not exactly an impressive debut for the 24-year-old former fifth-round pick in the 2015 NFL draft, but facing the Vikings in an emergency role is not the easiest of duties.

It remains to be seen if Hundley can play well and join Deshaun Watson, Dak Prescott, and Carson Wentz as young quarterbacks who developed into fantasy relevant players at a very young age. Until we have more information, Hundley should be considered a start in two-quarterback leagues, and the wide receivers for Green Bay need to be downgraded at least one tier.

Davante Adams was the recipient of nearly 30% of the throws from Hundley against the Vikings, while Jordy Nelson was second on the team with 27% of the targets. Randall Cobb was the most significant loser last week when Rodgers went down, as Hundley looked his way just 9% of the time.

On a positive note for Green Bay skill players in the passing game, three quarterbacks have thrown for over 300 yards and three scores this season against the Saints, highlighted by a 447/3 line by Tom Brady Week 2. Only a rusty Cam Newton and jet-lagged Jay Cutler have failed to score at least 25 points against the New Orleans defense that ranks sixth in fantasy points per game allowed to opposing QBs.

To continue the recent string of success of QB’s facing the Saints, Hundley will need to protect the ball and limit turnovers. Hundley threw three picks last week against the Vikings, and the Saints are tied for fourth for the most interceptions forced this year.

NO FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.6
NO FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.17
NO FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.6
NO FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.13

Running Game Thoughts: As expected, Aaron Jones and Ty Montgomery shared the rushing duties fairly evenly in Monty’s first game back from a rib injury. Neither player did much with their carries against a tough Minnesota defense that was stacking the box against Hundley. A similar equal distribution of carries should be expected in this game, and it would not be surprising to see New Orleans load the box and force Hundley to beat them outside.

The Packers enter Sunday’s game ranked fourth in the league for the most pass attempts per game at 65%. With Rodgers on the shelf and an inexperienced QB under center, head coach Mike McCarthy may attempt to be more balanced in hopes of limiting the mistakes of his young QB, while trying to keep Drew Brees and the Saints offense off the field.

Regardless of how McCarthy attacks the Saints defense, injuries to three of the five starting offensive linemen for the Packers will make winning the game difficult. Left tackle David Bakhtiari aggravated his hamstring injury against the Vikings, right tackle Bryan Bulaga suffered a concussion and is still in the concussion protocol, and starting guard Lane Taylor suffered a knee injury that may keep him out for a while.

Value Meter:
QB2: Brett Hundley (Low-End)
RB2: Aaron Jones (Low-End)
RB3: Ty Montgomery (High-End)
WR2: Jordy Nelson (Mid-Range)
WR2: Davante Adams (Low-End)
WR3: Randall Cobb (High-End)
TE2: Martellus Bennett (Low-End)

Prediction: Saints 31, Packers 24 ^ Top

Ravens @ Vikings - (Swanson)

Passing Game Thoughts: Joe Flacco and the Baltimore passing offense has been nothing short of pathetic through the first six weeks of the NFL season, as Flacco ranks 37th among quarterbacks in points per game at 11. He has as many passing touchdowns (4) as Kevin Hogan and Brian Hoyer - two quarterbacks who were benched last week after dismal performances, and he ranks deep last in completions of 15 yards or more among qualified passers. Even with a home matchup against a beatable Bears secondary, Flacco completed just 58% of his passes for 180 and two interceptions as Chicago upset Baltimore at M&T Bank Stadium.

Flacco’s deficiencies and an inability to stay healthy has relegated Jeremy Maclin (shoulder) to a weak flex play in deep leagues. Mike Wallace (back) has flashed some value with two consecutive double-digit games in Weeks 4 & 5, only to follow up with a 3/30 turd against the Bears. Sure, it is possible that Wallace or Maclin score a touchdown this week against the Vikings, by they are risky, touchdown dependent plays that should be avoided.

Starting any Ravens pass-catching skill players is a risky proposition regardless of the matchup, but starting them on the road against the Vikings is borderline crazy. Minnesota has allowed two touchdowns to opposing wide receivers at home, with DeSean Jackson and Davante Adams each reaching paydirt this year. But no opposing WR has reached the century mark, including stud wideouts Mike Evans, Michael Thomas, Antonio Brown, or Jordy Nelson.

MIN FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.27
MIN FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.31
MIN FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.12
MIN FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.15

Running Game Thoughts: Alex Collins and Buck Allen were successful in running the ball last week against the Bears as the only bright spot in the Ravens otherwise abysmal offense, with the RB tandem combining for 123 yards on 25 carries. They may find it more difficult to average five yards per carry against Vikings defense that has allowed the second-fewest points to opposing running backs.

Detroit’s Ameer Abdullah is the only running back to score a rushing touchdown against the Vikings, and no RB has reached the century mark. Le’Veon Bell, Jordan Howard, Ty Montgomery, Mark Ingram & Alvin Kamara, and Abdullah have all failed to reach 100 yards on the ground against Minnesota.

With a negative game script possible and the fact that Collins has yet to catch a pass out of the backfield or earn a red zone carry (52 carries this season without a red zone touch), starting Collins is a risky proposition. Of the two, Allen is more of an attractive play because of his use as a receiver and the likelihood of the Ravens chasing points.

On a positive note for Ravens running backs, starting linebacker Anthony Barr missed practice on Wednesday with a concussion and ankle injury, while stellar run support safety Andrew Sendejo was limited with a groin injury.

Value Meter:
QB3: Joe Flacco (Low-End)
RB2: Javorius Allen (Low-End)
RB3: Alex Collins (Low-End)
WR2: Jeremy Maclin (Low End)
WR4: Mike Wallace (Low-End)
TE2: Ben Watson (Low-End)

Passing Game Thoughts: Aside from his career-best 369-yard, three-touchdown game Week 3 against Tampa Bay, Vikings quarterback Case Keenum has been a No.2 quarterback this season at best, with four games of one passing touchdown or less. His 239/1/1 line last week against the Packers was a huge disappointment considering the Packers were decimated in the secondary with injuries and the Vikings were playing at home.

If Keenum was incapable of putting up No.1 QB stats against a defense using third and fourth-string cornerbacks, it is hard to imagine how he will be able to do well against a Baltimore defense that ranks 25th in points allowed to QBs. If you throw out the flukey four-touchdown game Blake Bortles posted against the Ravens in London Week 3, no QB has managed to throw for more than 216 yards and a score against the Ravens this year.

On the injury front, Keenum’s top wide receiver Stefon Diggs did not practice on Wednesday and is questionable once again this week with a groin injury. Fellow wide receiver Michael Floyd did not participate in practice yesterday as well, and staring center Nick Easton sat out with a calf injury.

BAL FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.25
BAL FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.6
BAL FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.30
BAL FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.3

Running Game Thoughts: Jerick McKinnon posted his second-consecutive 20-point game in the post-Dalvin Cook era of 2017 Vikings football, while Latavius Murray looked slow and ineffective with 15 carries for 28 yards. McKinnon is the back to own and should be the focal point of the Vikings offense once against this week, as the Ravens are more susceptible against the run than the pass, allowing the sixth-most fantasy points to RB’s this season.

Leonard Fournette, Le’Veon Bell, Marshawn Lynch, and Jordan Howard all scored touchdowns this season while posting double-digit fantasy points against the Ravens defense, highlighted by a 30.6 point performance by Bell Week 4.

The Ravens will get a shot in the arm with the likely return of defensive tackle and run stopping stud Brandon Williams, who was a full participant in practice (foot) on Wednesday and looks to be on track to play Week 7. William’s return to the middle of the defensive line and the possibility of Easton missing the game makes running the ball up the middle a challenge for the Vikings, thus limiting Murray’s value even more.

Value Meter:
QB2: Case Keenum (Low-End)
RB1: Jerick McKinnon (Low-End)
RB4: Latavius Murray (Low-End)
WR2: Adam Thielen (Low End)
TE1: Kyle Rudolph (Low-End)

Prediction: Vikings 24, Ravens 10 ^ Top

Panthers @ Bears - (Swanson)

Passing Game Thoughts: After a slow start to the season that included a shocking three-interception game at home against the Saints, Cam Newton has been a fantasy stud over the past three weeks with three games of at least 29 fantasy points. In those three games, Newton has thrown for an average of 303 yards, while increasing his rushing attempts and rushing production compared to his first three games. With ten carries for 71 yards and a score last week against Philly, Newton looked like a version of his old self when he rushed for 636 yards and 10 scores back in 2015.

A prime beneficiary of Newton’s increased passing stats is Devin Funchess, who has emerged as a viable fantasy play with three touchdowns in his last three games. The former Michigan Wolverine struggled a bit last week against Philly (3 catches for 36 yards and zero touchdowns on nine targets), but a knee injury that forced Kelvin Benjamin from practice on Wednesday could bode well for Funchess owners.

Newton’s matchup this week isn’t choice, as the Bears have been fairly tough against opposing quarterbacks (26th fewest points per game), with Aaron Rodgers as the only quarterback to throw for more than one touchdown. If you take away Rodgers’ four passing touchdown performance Week 4, the Bears would rank just behind Jacksonville as the stingiest unit against opposing QBs.

On the injury front, center Ryan Kalil worked in a limited practice on Wednesday and looks like he might return to the field after sustaining a neck injury Week 1 against the 49ers. Kalil’s return to the middle of the Panther offensive line would be a big boost to both the passing and running game for Carolina.

CAR FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.19
CAR FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.29
CAR FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.14
CAR FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.17

Running Game Thoughts: Rookie Christian McCaffrey could be in line for a big game as opposing running backs have found success this season against a Bears unit that has allowed the 18th-most fantasy points to RBs. McCaffrey ranks No.1 among all running backs with 24% of his team’s receiving targets, with just over 90% of his total fantasy points coming from the passing game. Le’Veon Bell, Tevin Coleman, and Jerick McKinnon have all found success as a receiving RB against the Bears, and McCaffrey could earn more carries this week with Jonathan Stewart somewhat limited with an ankle injury.

Even if Stewart can play on Sunday, his value this season as a touchdown-dependent tailback (TD dependent yet has not scored a rushing TD) has been greatly diminished with the resurgence of Newton in the ground game.

Value Meter:
QB1: Cam Newton (High-End)
RB2: Christian McCaffrey (Low-End)
RB3: Jonathan Stewart (Low-End)
WR2: Kelvin Benjamin (Low-End)
WR2: Devin Funchess (Mid-Range)
TE2: Ed Dickson (Low-End)

Passing Game Thoughts: As the 35th ranked quarterback in fantasy points per game, rookie Mitchell Trubisky is not someone you would want to start in any matchup at this point in the season. The second-overall pick from UNC continues to have the reigns held tightly by head coach John Fox, as the Bears focus on a rushing-centered offense that produced a whopping 50 rushing attempts last week against Baltimore.

Trubisky threw the ball just 16 times against the Ravens, completing eight passes for 113 yards and a score. A nice bonus for owners in two-quarterback leagues is the fact that Trubisky’s athleticism as a runner has been on full display, with four rushes for 32 yards last week.

The matchup for Trubisky is favorable, with the Panthers allowing their last four opponents to post double-digit fantasy points, highlighted by Carson Wentz’s 222/3 line last week. But the Bears simply do not throw the ball enough to take advantage of the matchup, and no pass-catching Bear outside of tight end Zach Miller is worthy of a start until Trubisky is able to open up the offense.

CHI FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.26
CHI FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.18
CHI FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.19
CHI FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.18

Running Game Thoughts: Second-year back Jordan Howard avoided the sophomore slump that can plague young players who break out in their rookie season, with 13.2 fantasy points per game fueled by the fourth-most attempts of any running back. Howard and backfield mate Tarik Cohen combined for 50 carries in last week’s win over the Ravens, and a similar run-heavy game plan is likely this week against Carolina.

The matchup for Howard and Cohen is not as attractive as last week, as the Panthers rank 29th in points per game (Baltimore ranks 6th). Only Alvin Kamara, Zach Zenner, and Dion Lewis have managed to score a touchdown against the Panthers, and no player has rushed for more than 67 yards in a game.

Despite the problematic slate, you are starting Howard every week regardless of the matchup, and he should be in your lineup this week due to the likely volume he will receive. Cohen returns to a possible flex play with Benny Cunningham limited by a hamstring injury and the fact that the Panthers have allowed the third-most catches to running backs this season.

It should be noted that stud linebacker Luke Kuechly did not participate in Wednesday’s practice and could miss this game with concussion symptoms. If Kuechly is out, Howard and Cohen receive a hefty bump.

Value Meter:
QB2: Mitchell Trubisky (Low-End)
RB1: Jordan Howard (Mid-Range)
WR4: Kendall Wright (Low-End)
TE2: Zach Miller (High-End)
Flex: Tarik Cohen (Mid-Range)

Prediction: Panthers 24, Bears 21 ^ Top

Titans @ Browns - (Swanson)

Passing Game Thoughts: At just over 20 fantasy points per game, Marcus Mariota enters Sunday’s matchup against the Browns as the 15th ranked fantasy quarterback. The former second overall selection in the 2015 draft has struggled somewhat as a passer, with four interceptions and only four touchdown passes in five games. But he has already set a new career mark for rushing touchdowns with three and is well on his way to setting career highs in rushing yards and rushing attempts.

As you might imagine, throwing four touchdown passes in five games limits the fantasy production of the skill position players on the roster. Tennessee wide receivers rank 27th in fantasy points scored, with Rishard Matthews and Taywan Taylor as the only two wide receivers to score a touchdown or post a double-digit game.

Despite his inability to covert targets into meaningful fantasy production, the Titans continue to feature tight end Delanie Walker in the passing game and with an occasional jet sweep. Walker is on pace for over 100 targets, but he has yet to catch a touchdown pass, and he looks primed to post his second-worst yardage total since joining the Titans in 2013.

Mariota owners should be salivating with this week’s matchup as a chance for their quarterback to post a season-high in touchdown passes, as the Browns are tied with the Patriots for the most TD passes allowed on the season. Although he hasn’t posted a top-20 TE game in the past three weeks, Walker should get back on track as well against a Browns team that is second in points allowed to opposing tight ends.

CLE FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.4
CLE FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.24
CLE FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.16
CLE FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.2

Running Game Thoughts: DeMarco Murray looks to be a bit questionable for Sunday’s game after failing to practice on Wednesday and Thursday. Head coach Mike Mularkey was quoted on Tuesday stating that Derrick Henry is his team’s closing running back and will continue to spilt time. If Murray is out completely, Henry will vault into No.1 RB consideration.

Henry enters Sunday’s game after a career-high 19 carries for 131 yards and a score against Indy Week 6. Certainly an impressive performance for the second year player, but it should be noted that his 72-yard touchdown scamper in the closing minutes of a decided contest buoyed his stats for the game. Without the run against a defense that quit on the play, Henry’s stat line would have been 18 carries for 59 yards for a 3.2 YPC average.

Another thing to consider is the common narrative in 2016 that you always start your running backs against the Browns, as Cleveland is a sieve when it comes to allowing rushing yards and scores. That is not the case in 2017, with the Browns allowing the 24th-fewest points to opposing RB’s and only one rushing touchdown in six games.

Value Meter:
QB2: Marcus Mariota (High-End)
RB2: Derrick Henry (High-End)
RB3: DeMarco Murray (Injury Concern)
WR2: Rishard Matthews (Low-End)
WR4: Eric Decker (High-End)
TE1: Delanie Walker (High-End)

Passing Game Thoughts: Someone needs to review Hue Jackson’s contract to see if he gets a bonus for setting an NFL record for quarterback changes, as the second-year head coach once again has benched Kevin Hogan for rookie DeShone Kizer. Hogan was dreadful against the Texans last week, completing just 20-of-37 passes for 140 yards and a touchdown. He threw three interceptions while getting sacked four times against a Texans defense decimated by injury.

Kizer has not been much better, completing less than 50% of his passes this season, with touchdown passes and nine interceptions. With Tennessee likely taking an early lead and forcing Kizer to pass extensively in the second half, it would not surprise me to see Kizer add to his interception total.

The return of Kizer to the passing game should improve the fortune of running back Duke Johnson, the best receiving option on the team and the only receiving threat on the team worthy of a fantasy start. With Hogan under center, Johnson saw a significant reduction in targets and yardage from his seven target average under Kizer.

Richardo Louis continued his recent streak of getting six or more targets, but he appears to be just another flash in the pan and should be only considered as a flex play in the deepest of leagues. Some owners might get tempted to start Louis against a Titans defense that has allowed the tenth-most points to opposing WRs this season, including the only big game for mega-disappointment Amari Cooper. The matchup indeed appears to be attractive, but the fact that Louis has yet to reach pay dirt makes him a bit of a risky play.

TEN FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.8
TEN FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.20
TEN FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.10
TEN FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.21

Running Game Thoughts: Jackson made headlines this summer when he said that it “pained” him when he realized how much he underutilized Isaiah Crowell last season in the ground game. The fantasy community bought into the hype and Crow became a favorite breakout candidate for many writers (lucky for me, I did not jump on this bandwagon). Not only are Browns fans and Crowell owners sick with the fact that Crow has yet to receive more than 17 carries in a game, he has yet to score a touchdown in 2017, and he is averaging a pedestrian 4.4 per tote.

A big reason why Crowell has still not been utilized as a true workhorse back is the fact that Cleveland has led in only one game this season. It is hard to give a running back 20 carries in a game in which you trail, which is why Johnson continues to be the back to own and play in Cleveland.

The Titans rank 20th in fantasy points allowed to opposing backs, with four combined rushing and receiving touchdowns allowed on the season. If forced to pick which Browns back will score, my guess would be Johnson based on the likely negative game script. But owners who used a third or fourth round pick on Crow may not have better No.2 RB options, and he will get at least 12 to 15 carries in this game.

Value Meter:
QB2: DeShone Kizer (Low-End)
RB2: Duke Johnson (Low-End)
RB3: Isaiah Crowell (Mid-Range)
WR4: Ricardo Louis (High-End)
TE3: David Njoku (High-End)

Prediction: Titans 34, Browns 10 ^ Top

Bengals @ Steelers - (Swanson)

Passing Game Thoughts: Andy Dalton and the Bengals return from the bye week with a tough road divisional matchup against the Steelers, a team that Dalton has struggled against in his career (only one top-12 performance against Pittsburgh in 11 games). The red rifle will not have his TD scoring tight end Tyler Eifert for the rest of the season after the team placed the oft-injured TE on injured reserve after back surgery, leaving A.J. Green and a stable of three running backs as the main skill position players for Dalton.

The Steelers have been excellent against the pass this season, limiting opposing quarterbacks to just 13.3 points per game (second best behind only Jacksonville). The stats for Pittsburgh are a bit skewed based on the fact that the Steelers have played some pretty poor quarterbacks, but you can’t argue against allowing just four passings touchdowns in six games.

With Dalton’s past struggles against Pittsburgh and the Steelers success this season, especially at home, Dalton is a fringe play in even the deepest of leagues. But that does not mean that you need to sit A.J. Green, Dalton’s stud wide receiver that has been able to work past Dalton’s struggles for three top-5 performances in his last four games against Pittsburgh.

PIT FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.31
PIT FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.7
PIT FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.32
PIT FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.27

Running Game Thoughts: The three-headed monster that is the Cincinnati running back committee ranks 20th in team rushing heading into the Week 7 matchup against Pittsburgh, with only one rushing touchdown between Jeremy Hill, Giovani Bernard, and Joe Mixon.

Mixon is the volume leader of the group and clearly the most talented back, but he has been close to bust-worth with his 2.8 YPC average on 67 attempts. If he continues to struggle, it would not be surprising to see Marvin Lewis lean more heavily on Hill and Bernard.

Lewis will need to get production from his run game if he has any hope of winning this game and beating the Steelers on the ground has been the recipe for success for other teams. Pittsburgh ranks seventh in fantasy points allowed to opposing backs, highlighted by a breakout 22/181/2 game by leading rookie of the year candidate, (I do love Kareem Hunt as well) Leonard Fournette.

The two teams that have beaten the Steelers this season are Jacksonville and Chicago, two teams who relied heavily on the run and shut down Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh passing game. Lewis certainly knows this and will try to run the ball like crazy on Sunday. It remains to be seen if Mixon, Hill, and Bernard can provide enough production to make the strategy work again.

Value Meter:
QB2: Andy Dalton
RB2: Joe Mixon
RB3: Giovani Bernard
WR2: A.J. Green
TE2: Tyler Kroft

Passing Game Thoughts: Ben Roethlisberger’s poor play this season, even at home, has derailed the narrative that you always play Big Ben in home games. In two home games, albeit against tough defenses like Minnesota and Jacksonville, Big Ben has just one passing touchdown and five interceptions. Roethlisberger has a history of struggling against the Bengals and Marvin Lewis’ defenses, with just five total touchdowns combined in his last four games against Cincinnati.

To make matters worse for Big Ben and his chances of bouncing back to his old form, three starting offensive lineman missed practice due to injuries, including starting center Maurice Pouncey, who is dealing with a chest injury.

It is somewhat of a head-scratcher that Big Ben can rank 23rd in fantasy points per game, yet Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell each rank in the top five in their respective positions. Brown is a must-start regardless of the matchup, although expectations should be tempered because his two worst games of the 2016 season came against the Bengals.

CIN FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.28
CIN FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.28
CIN FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.28
CIN FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.29

Running Game Thoughts: Le’Veon Bell continues to be an elite blue chip fantasy play based on his supreme talent and excessive usage in both the running and passing game. Bell leads the league in carries with 134 attempts for 500 yards and four rushing touchdowns, and his 30 receptions for 156 yards puts him at third among running backs, behind only Christian McCaffrey.

With Big Ben’s struggles, Bell will continue to get heavy usage as a runner and a receiver this week against the Bengals, a team that has had some limited success in keeping Bell from having blowout games against them over the past two seasons. Bell rushed for 93 yards on 23 carries and no touchdowns against Cincinnati in his one game last year, and he suffered his season-ending knee injury on October 17th against the Bengals in 2015.

Despite his recent history against the Bengals and the fact that Big Ben is trying to find his groove, Bell is a must start after scoring double-digit points in each of his last four games, while receiving an amazing 30 touches per game during that span.

Value Meter:
QB1: Ben Roethlisberger (Low-End)
RB1: Le’Veon Bell (Elite)
WR1: Antonio Brown (Elite)
WR3: Martavis Bryant
WR3: JuJu Smith-Schuster
TE2: Jesse James (High-End)

Prediction: Steelers 21, Bengals 14 ^ Top

Jaguars @ Colts - (Gordon)

Passing Game Thoughts: Jacksonville is averaging a whopping 169.7 passing yards per game in 2017. The sample size is now six games, almost half the fantasy season. That stat alone makes any Jags pass catcher a risky play for fantasy purposes. However, the allure of playing against one of the best matchups in the league and the potential loss of Marqise Lee this week gives Allen Hurns’ fantasy stock a pulse for Week 7. I’m still not convinced this offense will need to throw the ball much in this game to warrant playing Hurns. Last week’s box score shows a quarterback being coached to simply dump off to the running back instead of taking chances down the field. Lee is off the fantasy radar after failing to log a practice through Thursday as he copes with a knee injury sustained a week ago. Marcedes Lewis, Arrelious Benn and Keelan Cole would benefit should Lee sit out this week but none are worth gambling on. Philosophically, the Jags are not going to throw the ball as often as other teams so look elsewhere for your receiving needs.

IND FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.3
IND FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.3
IND FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.9
IND FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.7

Running Game Thoughts: It’s a great week to start Jacksonville running backs. Playing in a favorable matchup on a team that has favored the running game usually leads to success for fantasy owners. There is a potential fly in the ointment this week with Leonard Fournette missing practice time due to an ankle injury. He suffered the injury during last week’s game so you can bet the team is going to give him all week to recover. Fantasy owners should consider him a game-time decision and hope for the best. Chris Ivory would take on almost all rushing duties if Fournette can’t go. In this scenario he is a must start in all formats including DFS. Ivory enjoyed one of his best games in Week 6, leading the team in receptions! That potential development is worth watching closely to see if it continues. Ivory has been doing well in short sample sizes but if the team finds more ways to get him the ball, he could become a weekly flex option in standard formats. Even in a backup role, I think there is enough to like about Ivory’s chances at putting up fantasy points to make him a flex option so get him into your lineup.

Value Meter:
RB1: Leonard Fournette (if he plays)
Flex: Chris Ivory
Bench: Everyone else

Passing Game Thoughts: The Colts acknowledged Andrew Luck had a “setback” with his recovery from shoulder surgery this week. His return to the field in 2017 is in jeopardy and it is very difficult to paint a picture where he can help fantasy owners this year. Drop him in single season formats and use the extra roster spot on that player you had been keeping your eye on for the past couple of weeks. Jacoby Brissett has proven to be a far superior stopgap solution over Scott Tolzien. Thank your luck stars the team didn’t try and stick with Tolzien for an entire year. The youngster from N.C. State is giving the Colts passing game a little life these days but that doesn’t mean the Colts’ passing game is great for fantasy owners. There is more to like but Brissett is still cutting his teeth. Brissett has played better in his three home games this year so there is some hope that he can be productive against the Jags in Week 7. However, Jacksonville might have the NFL’s best pass defense right now and I’d think long and hard about trusting a young quarterback to deliver the goods if I owned any Indianapolis player. Jack Doyle had a nice return to the lineup and tight ends tend to have success when paired with young quarterbacks The Jags have allowed the twelfth most fantasy points (standard scoring) to tight ends compared to second fewest to wide receivers.

JAC FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.32
JAC FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.12
JAC FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.31
JAC FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.12

Running Game Thoughts: No matter how average or bad the passing game plays any given week; Frank Gore collects his typical yards. In a year that has seen plenty of running backs get hurt or suffer from poor play of the offense, Gore has posted solid RB3 numbers stay afloat. He’s not a RB2 this week, but if you need a guy due to bye weeks he’s good for about 50 yards and maybe tacks on a point or two in the passing game. It’s not sexy, but it isn’t ugly either. Marlon Mack got squeezed in a back and forth affair on Monday night. That will change now that Robert Turbin was placed on IR (arm). In a pinch, Mack might turn out to be an OK flex start in deep leagues. If the Colts get behind early or it becomes a large deficit, the Colts may choose Mack over the ageless Gore to run out the clock.

Value Meter:
RB2: Frank Gore
TE1: Jack Doyle
Flex: Marlon Mack
Bench: Jacoby Brissett, T.Y. Hilton, Donte Moncrief

Prediction: Jaguars 20, Colts 6 ^ Top

Jets at Dolphins - (Katz)

Passing Game Thoughts: Josh McCown threw for a season high 354 yards last week. It was against the Patriots laughably poor secondary, so it comes with a grain of salt, but McCown can still play. For perspective, the Jaguars would be a legitimate Super Bowl contender with Josh McCown. He is a viable streaming option in the right matchup. The biggest takeaway from last week is the arrival of Austin Seferian-Jenkins. We saw it coming as soon as he returned in Week 3, but he has now officially entered the circle of trust at the TE position (which is incredibly small this year). ASJ saw 11 targets last week, catching eight of them for 47 yards and two touchdowns. Yes, I know the official stat line says 8-46-1, but you and I both know that he did not fumble that ball through the end zone. ASJ is a legit TE1 and should be owned and started in almost all leagues. He is a far more reliable option for McCown than either Jermaine Kearse or Robby Anderson. Kearse and Anderson had similar games last week, totaling 79 and 76 yards on four receptions respectively, but Kearse did it on four targets; Anderson had 12. Kearse could be useful as a big play hopeful on a bye week, but neither him nor Anderson are even must owns in fantasy.

MIA FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.24
MIA FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.23
MIA FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.18
MIA FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.14

Running Game Thoughts: With Bilal Powell out, Matt Forte returned and this is the closest he’s looked to Chicago Bears Matt Forte since he joined the Jets. Forte doesn’t have it anymore so he can’t do much on the ground (9-22), but he caught all eight of his targets for 59 yards. If Powell can’t return this week, Forte is a viable PPR flex option. However, Powell practiced on Thursday and appears to be trending towards playing. Elijah McGuire was out-snapped and outplayed by Forte last week. McGuire had a near identical line to Forte on the ground (one more carry, same yardage total), but didn’t catch a pass. McGuire also failed on his only goal line opportunity. He can be dropped everywhere. The Dolphins just allowed Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman to rush for 5.5 ypc so the Jets should be able to move the ball on the ground, but if Powell returns, this backfield will be an unusable three-headed monster.

Value Meter:
QB2: Josh McCown
TE1: Austin Seferian-Jenkins (mid-range)
Flex: Jermaine Kearse
Bench: Bilal Powell, Elijah McGuire, Matt Forte, Robby Anderson

Passing Game Thoughts: Jay Cutler threw two touchdowns last week but managed just 4.6 yards per attempt and totaled 151 yards. With DeVante Parker out with a sprained ankle, almost half of Cutler’s passes was directed towards Jarvis Landry. Landry caught eight of 14 targets for 62 yards and a touchdown. He remains an incredibly high floor PPR option. The Jets are by no means an imposing foe, but the last time these two teams played, the Dolphins did not score any points until 0:00 was on the clock. I expect a better effort this week and Landry should be his usual WR2 self, especially given that it does not look like Parker will be able to return just yet. Kenny Stills assumed the starting role opposite Landry and although he scored a touchdown last week, he only saw four targets. There isn’t much to see here beyond Landry.

NYJ FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.14
NYJ FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.5
NYJ FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.17
NYJ FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.8

Running Game Thoughts: Jay Ajayi had the quietest 130 yards rushing I’ve seen in quite some time. I just feel like no one mentioned it, but he is a big part of why the Dolphins were able to win. However, despite averaging a season high 5.0 ypc last week, Ajayi is still at just 3.8 ypc on the season and he’s yet to score a touchdown. Last week was also his first game without catching a pass. I think it’s safe to assume Ajayi vastly outperforms his 11 carry 16-yard effort against the Jets in Week 3. I want to say being at home will help, but both of Ajayi’s 100-yard rushing games have come on the road. Regardless, expect a much better effort from the Dolphins this time around.

Value Meter:
RB2: Jay Ajayi
WR2: Jarvis Landry
Bench: Jay Cutler, Julius Thomas, DeVante Parker (ankle), Kenny Stills

Prediction: Dolphins 17, Jets 13 ^ Top

Bucs at Bills - (Katz)

Passing Game Thoughts: Heading into a matchup with what has been one of the best pass defenses of 2017, Jameis Winston is nursing a sprained AC joint in his right shoulder. His status remains up in the air but I do not expect Winston to play. Last week, Ryan Fitzpatrick had a typical Ryan Fitzpatrick outing – multiple touchdowns and multiple turnovers. Mike Evans, DeSean Jackson, and Cameron Brate all scored touchdowns as Fitzpatrick moved the offense just as well, if not better than Winston. Brate has caught at least four passes and scored in four consecutive games. He is a locked in TE1 as O.J. Howard is relegated to blocking duties. Evans caught a break with Patrick Peterson exiting with a quad issue and was able to salvage his fantasy day with a 37-yard score.

Although the Bills are an imposing matchup, Evans should have a much easier time this week. Jackson hasn’t caught more than five passes in a game yet but still has big play potential making him a boom or bust WR4 that has been lucky enough to sort of “boom” more weeks than not thus far. Regardless of who plays QB for the Bucs, he will not be someone you want in your lineup, while paradoxically, Evans and Brate are must starts as you never bench Evans and there aren’t enough reliable TEs to bench Brate.

BUF FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.29
BUF FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.25
BUF FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.21
BUF FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.28

Running Game Thoughts: Doug Martin only touched the ball 15 times last week as he was a victim of game script with the Bucs trailing for the entire game. Charles Sims is still being used on passing downs over Martin which is a mystery to me. Martin should be in on every snap unless he’s tired. Martin was able to save his fantasy day with a touchdown and is averaging 4.7 ypc on his first 27 carries to start the season. Whether it’s Winston or Fitzpatrick at QB, the Bucs are unlikely to be in catch up mode to the point where they have to abandon the run, allowing Martin to remain part of the game plan. He should see the ball upwards of 20 times and is looking like one of the better bargains of draft day. Jacquizz Rodgers is completely irrelevant and does not need to be owned as anything more than Martin’s handcuff.

Value Meter:
QB2: Jameis Winston
RB2: Doug Martin (high end)
WR1: Mike Evans (mid-range)
TE1: Cameron Brate (mid-range)
Flex: DeSean Jackson
Bench: Jacquizz Rodgers, Charles Sims

Passing Game Thoughts: Regardless of the matchup, Tyrod Taylor is probably going to get you a little under 200 yards passing and a touchdown. He has yet to rush for a touchdown this season, which is due to change eventually, especially given how depleted his receiving corps is. Jordan Matthews still doesn’t appear ready to return despite his return to limited practices Wednesday and Thursday and the Bills lost Charles Clay the week before the bye, leaving Andre Holmes and Zay Jones as Taylor’s top options. The Bucs just got lit up by the all-2008 squad so the opportunity is there for Taylor to have his first big game of the season. Unfortunately, Jones sports an undesirable 21.7% catch rate and he and Holmes have a combined 11 receptions on the season. While the matchup is favorable, the Bills are likely to lean heavily on the running game.

TB FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.2
TB FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.16
TB FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.1
TB FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.25

Running Game Thoughts: LeSean McCoy heads into Week 7 without a touchdown on the season. This week as good of a time as any for that to change after the Bucs just got shredded by the ghost of Adrian Peterson in a vintage 26 carry 134-yard performance. Shady is averaging a career worst 3.2 ypc, but is getting by on sheer volume. He is currently on pace for over 275 carries, not to mention his heavy involvement in the passing game. McCoy has 27 receptions over his first five contests. He should continue to be the Bills’ leading receiver as they don’t really have anyone else. Shady could easily eclipse 25 touches this week and is locked in as a strong RB1 play. Mike Tolbert has been on the field more than Shady owners would like him to be, but it’s probably for the best that the Bills aren’t completely running McCoy into the ground. There are plenty of touches to go around but Tolbert does not have any standalone fantasy value.

Value Meter:
QB2: Tyrod Taylor (high end)
RB1: LeSean McCoy (high end)
Bench: Nick O’Leary, Charles Clay (MCL), Jordan Matthews (thumb), Zay Jones, Andre Holmes

Prediction: Bills 24, Bucs 20 ^ Top

Seahawks at Giants - (Katz)

Passing Game Thoughts: The bye came at the perfect time for Seattle as star WR Doug Baldwin needed it to get back to 100%. Baldwin has barely been startable this year outside of his lone quality performance Week 3 at Tennessee (10-105-1). Other than that, he’s caught more than four passes just once and in that game where he caught six balls, he only amassed 63 yards. Hopefully, the week off will serve to get Baldwin and the Seahawks’ passing offense back on track. Baldwin should avoid Janoris Jenkins as he runs many of his routes out of the slot. Russell Wilson is healthy, but he’s still not producing at an elite level. He lit up Tennessee and Indianapolis, but completely flopped in his other three games. For a consensus top six QB1, Wilson has an awful lot of single score games. He needs to start stringing together multi-touchdown outings before we can truly trust him again.

The Giants defense looked very pedestrian until last week’s demolition of the Broncos, but even in a dominant performance, Demaryius Thomas still couldn’t be stopped. Wilson is obviously far better than Trevor Siemian and is capable of beating any matchup. It is not the Giants defense that I fear in Wilson and Baldwin, but the players themselves. They simply need to produce. Jimmy Graham can help as well. He still doesn’t look like he cares, but he did catch a touchdown two weeks ago. That helped hide the fact that he only totaled 37 yards receiving. Graham is not a must start TE, but the Giants have given up the most fantasy points to the position so I’m choosing to be cautiously optimistic.

NYG FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.11
NYG FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.15
NYG FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.27
NYG FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.1

Running Game Thoughts: I have no idea why Eddie Lacy is on an NFL roster, let alone receiving snaps. C.J. Prosise might return this week but Pete Carroll thinks Prosise will return every week. Even if he does, he’ll probably just get hurt again. Then there’s Thomas Rawls and J.D. McKissic. This is at least a three-way timeshare, if not a four-way timeshare meaning no one in this backfield can be trusted. This is just an avoid across the board.

Value Meter:
QB1: Russell Wilson (mid-range)
WR2: Doug Baldwin (giving him the benefit of the doubt)
TE1: Jimmy Graham (low-end)
Bench: Paul Richardson, Tyler Lockett, All Seahawks RBs

Passing Game Thoughts: I would have been way more bullish on the Giants offense last week if I knew Ben McAdoo was giving up play calling duties. That’s huge for the prospects of Eli Manning and his only remaining pass catcher, Evan Engram. I criticize coaches all the time for trying to get too cute by using their best players as decoys when they should really just draw up plays to get the ball in the hands of the playmakers. Credit to the Giants for doing just that. The offensive game plan last week was clearly to throw the ball to Evan Engram. It worked. Engram caught five balls for 82 yards and a touchdown that was a designed wipe play that worked to perfection. Engram is one of the most impressive physical specimens to ever play the TE position. Rookie TEs should not be this good but Engram is simply a freak. With Odell Beckham and Brandon Marshall done for the season and Sterling Shepard still nursing his own ankle injury, Engram will remain the focal point of the passing attack for now and probably the rest of the season. He projects as an elite TE1 the rest of the way.

As for the actual WRs, Roger Lewis and Tavarres King played the most snaps last week, but neither was heavily targeted. There’s no benefit in guessing whether one of them will be featured this week. Shepard practiced Thursday and may return Sunday, but he will certainly not be 100% just yet. Shepard was already poised to overtake a cooked Brandon Marshall in target share so he will be second guy in the passing attack if he plays. Seattle boasts an excellent secondary, though so this offense will once again funnel through Engram.

SEA FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.30
SEA FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.22
SEA FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.23
SEA FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.19

Running Game Thoughts: Ben McAdoo had no choice but to not give the ball to Paul Perkins last week as Perkins was out with a rib injury. Orleans Darkwa handled himself well enough, posting his first career 100-yard rushing game, beating his previous single game high of 69 yards (the week before) by 48 yards. He saw 21 carries to Wayne Gallman’s nine. Shane Vereen has become an afterthought, but is still the Giants best pass blocker. With Darkwa and Gallman handling the early down work just fine, there is simply no reason for Perkins to be active ever again. Assuming that is the case this week, Darkwa has a difficult matchup, but should still see enough volume to be fantasy viable. Gallman and Vereen, on the other hand, are just complementary players.

Value Meter:
QB2: Eli Manning
TE1: Evan Engram (high end)
Flex: Orleans Darkwa
Bench: Wayne Gallman, Shane Vereen, All Giants WRs

Prediction: Seahawks 23, Giants 17 ^ Top

Falcons at Patriots - (Katz)

Passing Game Thoughts: The Matt Ryan regression is in full effect, coming off his anomalously efficient year as an elite fantasy QB. He has yet to reach 20 fantasy points in a single game even in six-point passing touchdown leagues. Ryan’s regression has taken a toll on Julio Jones, who, while not as elite as he’s been in years’ past, is still performing at a high level. Jones is top 25 in target separation and hasn’t dropped a pass yet. For some reason, Jones still doesn’t have a touchdown and is not amongst the leaders in targets. He has just 37 on the season, which is less than Odell Beckham, who didn’t even play in two games and was injured during a third.

The Patriots have been the league’s worst pass defense, allowing a 300-yard passer in every game. Ryan’s struggles shouldn’t matter – he should throw for 300 yards this week. Bill Belichick will try and erase Jones, but it’s time for the Falcons to accept that their offense needs to run through him and target him relentlessly. With nothing behind Jones at WR and Austin Hooper operating as the second best pass catcher (not counting the running backs), Jones should see heavy volume in a high scoring affair. Hooper is worth mentioning as a TE2 trending towards being a TE1. He’s seen 16 targets over his past two games and the Patriots struggled with Austin Seferian-Jenkins last week.

NE FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.1
NE FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.4
NE FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.4
NE FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.4

Running Game Thoughts: Tevin Coleman has been the model of consistency this season, which is a stark contrast from his boom or bust nature in 2016. Coleman has hovered around 10-12 fantasy points in every game. Devonta Freeman is still the primary back and is averaging 15.8 carries per game, right about where we expected him to be. He’s also added at least two receptions in every game. Both Freeman and Coleman would be better for fantasy without the other, but even together they are both strong weekly plays in their respective roles. Freeman has five touchdowns in five games and is a good bet to add to that total this week.

Value Meter:
QB1: Matt Ryan (because everyone is a QB1 against the Patriots)
WR1: Julio Jones (this is the week)
RB1: Devonta Freeman (mid-range)
RB2: Tevin Coleman (low end)
TE2: Austin Hooper
Bench: Mohamed Sanu, Taylor Gabriel

Passing Game Thoughts: Tom Brady is a walking argument in favor of the wait on a QB strategy. Brady has been great this year. But he hasn’t given you that weekly edge you’d expect from Tom Brady. The reality is that Brady is done being super elite. He’s still a very good QB, but the chinks in the armor are starting to show. He’s missing throws he never used to miss. His velocity looks a little slower and he’s taking more hits. I’d compare Brady to 2014 Peyton Manning. He’s not completely finished like 2015 Manning, but you can see the decline.

Brady is still an excellent option in this expected high scoring affair, which should also provide a bounce back opportunity for Chris Hogan, who had been incredibly consistent up until his one catch 19-yard game last week. Hogan had scored in four straight up until that point. Meanwhile, the connection between Brady and Brandin Cooks seems to be growing. Cooks had a bad drop last week, but he ended up with six catches on nine targets for 93 yards. The boom is coming. Rob Gronkowski had another day at the office with 83 yards and two scores. He’s healthy, and therefore, he’s the biggest positional advantage in fantasy. Danny Amendola also had a down game last week with just 3-40. The entire Patriots passing attack should be better this week. Perhaps Brady will remind us how the Falcons managed to blow a 25-point lead last February.

ATL FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.23
ATL FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.14
ATL FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.22
ATL FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.26

Running Game Thoughts: Dion Lewis started last week and was already looking to be ahead of Mike Gillislee before Gillislee committed the irredeemable act of fumbling. The truth is Gillislee isn’t all that good and is completely one-dimensional. Lewis and James White can do what Gillislee does reasonably well while both being infinitely better in the open field. They can also catch passes, which Gillislee cannot. The Patriots threw the ball 38 times last week against just 24 runs. They will remain pass heavy, which is fine for Lewis and White anyway. Although Lewis didn’t catch a pass last week, White caught four of seven targets for 22 yards. He was the key cog in the Patriots’ Super Bowl comeback and the Falcons surely haven’t forgotten. They will likely key in on stopping him, but it may not matter. I wouldn’t put it past Belichick to try and stick it to the Falcons again by beating them the same way they did last time. I can no longer endorse Gillislee as even a touchdown hopeful starting option and I’m not quite there yet with Lewis. White remains the only back to trust to any degree.

Value Meter:
QB1: Tom Brady (high end)
RB2: James White (PPR)
WR1: Brandin Cooks (low end)
WR2: Chris Hogan (mid-range)
TE1: Rob Gronkowski (the top option as always)
Flex: Danny Amendola
Bench: Mike Gillislee, Dion Lewis

Prediction: Patriots 37, Falcons 31 ^ Top

Redskins at Eagles - (Katz)

Passing Game Thoughts: After a bit of a slow start, Kirk Cousins now has multiple touchdowns in three straight games. He has another excellent matchup Monday night in Philly as he seeks to avenge the Redskins Week 1 loss. Most surprising about Cousins’ recent ascension back to the QB1 ranks is that he’s done it without really throwing to his best pass catchers. Aside from his fluky long touchdown against the Chiefs, Terrelle Pryor’s stat lines have been Amari Cooper-esque. Over his last four games, Pryor hasn’t caught more than three passes and although he had 70 yards against the Chiefs, his other three totals in that span were 31, 19, and 23.

Somehow, Jordan Reed has been worse. He’s been banged up, but he’s also been terrible. Reed hasn’t topped 48 yards in a single game this season and his snap count is significantly lower than it was when he was fully healthy last year playing 85-90% of the snaps. Reed is essentially a part time player that is treated like just another guy in the offense so it seems his elite difference-making days at the TE position are over. I’m not saying you should drop him, but merely pointing out that you can. If you were someone who drafted Evan Engram or Cameron Brate or picked up Austin Seferian-Jenkins and you don’t want to roster two TEs, I would cut Reed before those two without even thinking twice. Reed saw his season high of eight targets against the Eagles Week 1. Best case scenario is he sees that again and potentially finds the end zone. Jamison Crowder has 17 catches for 121 yards on the season. Over his last two games, he has four catches for eight yards. Let him go. Josh Doctson has a chance to emerge as this team’s top receiver, but he’s not a startable option just yet.

PHI FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.7
PHI FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.30
PHI FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.5
PHI FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.24

Running Game Thoughts: Samaje Perine has looked just like Rob Kelley in Kelley’s absence – that is – slow and lumbering. Perine does not resemble the explosive player we saw in college. With Kelley back this week, Perine will return to a bit role, seeing only a handful of snaps. Kelley will once again be a volume based/touchdown dependent RB3. The only RB you want is still Chris Thompson, who was treated like a feature back last week with 16 carries to go along with four receptions. Thompson is still more receiver than running back, but it does look like his fantasy value is going to be stable going forward. He is essentially a better version of 2016 Theo Riddick. Thompson had 52 receiving yards and a touchdown against the Eagles Week 1 on just eight total touches. Expect that number to be closer to the 12-15 range with Kelley back and even higher if Kelley were to reinjure himself or be a surprise inactive. Thompson has been an RB1 this season and although that is unlikely to continue, he is a locked in high floor RB2 play every week at this point.

Value Meter:
QB1: Kirk Cousins (mid-range)
RB2: Chris Thompson (mid-range, PPR bump)
WR3: Terrelle Pryor
TE1: Jordan Reed (low end)
Flex: Rob Kelley
Bench: Samaje Perine, Jamison Crowder, Josh Doctson, Vernon Davis

Passing Game Thoughts: Carson Wentz has thrown for over 300 yards in half of his games this season. That started in Week 1 against the Redskins. Wentz has thrown a touchdown in every game and multiple scores in four of them, again, including Week 1. He’s been a locked in QB1 and there’s no reason to expect that to change this week. He’s been doing it primarily by targeting Zach Ertz, who has 81 yards or a touchdown in every game this season. Ertz has been the most consistent tight end this season and, at this point, Gronk is the only TE I’d prefer over him. Ertz caught all eight of his targets in Week 1 for 93 yards. He’s as strong of a play as ever this week.

Alshon Jeffery could get a bit of a break if Josh Norman sits, but Norman returned to a limited practice Thursday. With this game on Monday night, we won’t have much clarity on this before at least Sunday. Norman held Jeffery to just 38 yards on three receptions in Week 1. Jeffery has yet to post a 100-yard game and is only catching 50% of his targets. He has still been a startable option in more than half his game, but his status this week largely hinges on Norman’s health. He is still severely out-targeting Nelson Agholor, who, I contend, still isn’t good at football. I’ve backed off my stance that he shouldn’t be in the NFL, but Agholor is not actually playing well. He has caught multiple long touchdowns and scored in four of his six games. It is not sustainable. If you are starting Agholor with confidence, you are going to be disappointed.

WAS FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.15
WAS FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.21
WAS FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.29
WAS FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.5

Running Game Thoughts: LeGarrette Blount continues to not be totally useless, which, admittedly, is what I thought he would be this season. Blount is somehow averaging a career high 5.57 ypc and has been posting useful fantasy days without scoring touchdowns and without catching passes. The latter is never happening, but the former should increase. Even though I was incredibly low on Blount, I certainly expected him to have more than one rushing touchdown through six games. His Week 1 performance against the Redskins was his worst of the season (14-46) excluding his Week 2 performance where he didn’t touch the ball. Wendell Smallwood looks poised to return this week, only further complicating things between him, Corey Clement, and Kenjon Barner. Somehow, Blount is the only member of this backfield with any stability. The rest can be ignored.

Value Meter:
QB1: Carson Wentz (mid-range)
WR2: Alshon Jeffery (low end)
RB2: LeGarrette Blount (low end)
TE1: Zach Ertz (high end)
Bench: Nelson Agholor, Wendell Smallwood, Corey Clement, Kenjon Barner

Prediction: Redskins 28, Eagles 24 ^ Top