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Usage Notes: Week 7

By Kevin Scott | 10/26/21 |

It was a challenging week in fantasy football land, with several important teams on bye, as well as the injuries that continue to pile up and wreak havoc. For those teams that weren’t on bye, let’s jump into the primary positions to see what we can learn.

Below I will give some ideas for players to acquire, bench, or cut, hopefully giving you clarity on some ways to move forward and continue your march toward the fantasy playoffs.

D'Ernest Johnson

Running Back

  • Although Melvin Gordon continues to barely edge Javonte Williams in snap share (58% to 42% on Thursday), Williams got far more work in the passing game this week. He got 7 targets and caught 6 for 32 yards and a touchdown, while Gordon saw 3 targets and caught 2 for 14 yards. Overall, however, the split continues to be nearly even, making it difficult to start either player. Williams is more dynamic, so if he starts playing on 55-60% of snaps or more, he will become a nice weekly option.

  • DíErnest Johnson took over for both Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, playing the role of workhorse back in Week 7. He played on 69% of snaps and got 24 touches, taking them for 168 total yards and a score. If Chubb and Hunt remain out for Week 8, Johnson is a must-start option. Even if Chubb returns, Johnson will likely split snaps with him and will remain a solid starting option until Hunt returns.

  • Demetric Felton was the No. 2 back for Cleveland on Thursday night, playing on 31% of snaps. He only got 2 carries and 3 targets, though, showing that the coaches do not trust the rookie as much as they trust DíErnest Johnson. He should be avoided unless desperate.

  • Joe Mixon played on 54% of snaps and Samaje Perine played on 48% and both were effective. Perine returning from the Covid-19 list relegated rookie Chris Evans to the bench, and with Perine playing so many snaps on a good offense he needs to be rostered everywhere. They both finished with 12 touches, although Perine got the only target and had more total yards. I think moving forward, Mixon will play more like 65% of snaps, so if he is on my roster Iím not freaking out about Perine. But, Perine definitely has value.

  • In the messy Baltimore running back room, Devonta Freeman got 40% of snaps, LeíVeon Bell got 30%, and TyíSon Williams got 29%. None should be started moving forward, until one starts getting more than 50% of snaps.

  • Antonio Gibson played on only 42% of snaps on Sunday, recording under half of snaps for the second straight week. J.D. McKissic played on 64% of snaps, leading the way in snaps for the second straight week. It appears the Washington coaching staff has decided that with Gibsonís stress fracture, they need to limit him to keep him healthy. This is terrible news for those who have him on their rosters, and there is very little to be done at this point. He is worth playing in good matchups, but otherwise should be benched if possible, until something changes. McKissic is a weekly flex option going forward.

  • It was a very strange week for the Packers backfield in Week 7, as Aaron Jones played on 73% of snaps but got only 6 carries (19 yards). He did receive 5 targets and caught all 5 for 20 yards, but the 11 touches are not what youíre looking for from Jones. It wasnít because AJ Dillon was more involved, as he got only 4 touches on 23% of snaps. It appears the Packers were able to salt away the game with short passing and chose to avoid the strong Washington front. I wouldnít worry too much about this for future weeks.

  • Cordarrelle Patterson played on the most snaps of any skill-position player for the Falcons, at 73%. He has clearly taken over the lead back duties for the Falcons; although Mike Davis played on 60% himself, he received only 4 total touches. Patterson got 16. Head coach Arthur Smith built his offense in Tennessee around a freak of nature in Derrick Henry, and he also sees some special characteristics in Patterson. I look for him to take over the lead-back role for the rest of the season, as they made this shift coming out of the bye. I would try to acquire Patterson if you are able to, as he could be a huge boost to your team down the stretch.

  • Myles Gaskin looked like the clear-cut starter again in Week 7, continuing the strange flip-flop game weíve been playing all season. It is hard to know what the coaches are thinking, and why they only involve him around half the time, and it will make it tough moving forward to know when to start him. But this week he played on 63% of snaps and dominated the running back touches with 19. Salvon Ahmed (30% of snaps) got 9 touches, and Malcolm Brown (7%) got 4 and was injured in the game. It makes sense for Gaskin to be their starter, so Iíd look to acquire Gaskin if heís still cheap due to a frustrated owner. On his 19 touches he produced 77 yards of offense and a score.

  • Michael Carter played by far his highest snap share of the season on Sunday, 72%. His previous high was in Week 5, 52%. The coaches have realized he is their best back and have decided to give him the starting role. The upside is still limited due to the terrible Jets offense, which is now without its starting QB for about a month. Still, Carter showed why he can still have value, even in a blowout, as he led the team in targets with 9, catching 8 for 67 yards. He should be a very useful option if you have running back injuries, or as a Flex in good matchups.

  • Ty Johnson only played on 32% of snaps, but he also was very involved in the passing game, catching 6 of 7 targets for 65 yards. The Jets backup QB Mike White, a 5th-round pick in 2018, likely prefers to throw to backs as they are easier reads. This could make Johnson a desperation flex play over the next few weeks.

  • J.J. Taylor was the backup to Damien Harris in Week 7 (10 touches on 26% of snaps), with Rhamondre Stevenson again inactive. We just donít know what Belichick is going to do, so itís better to leave all of these backs except for Harris on the wire unless you are in very deep leagues and are desperate.

  • Devontae Booker continues to be effective in place of Saquon Barkley. He played on 82% of snaps and got 16 touches for 66 yards and a score. He is a fine spot start at running back or flex until Barkley is back.

  • Darrynton Evans got his first action of the season for the Titans. He only played on 6 snaps, but he got 2 carries and 2 receptions. He is likely to work in more as we go along, making him a nice addition for running back-needy teams.

  • Jamaal Williams was effective on Sunday, rushing 12 times for 57 yards, but he played on only 20 snaps (29%). Meanwhile, DíAndre Swift played on 52 snaps (75%) and got 13 carries (48 yards) and an eyebrow-raising 10 targets (8-96-1). Swift is an every-week starter and Williams is a desperation running back play.

  • Darrell Henderson only produced 64 yards of total offense and only got 18 touches, but he played on 88% of snaps. The Rams just decided to pass more than run in this one, and it worked. Henderson remains an excellent weekly option.

  • Miles Sanders (ankle) was off to his best start of the season on Sunday, so it makes sense he was injured and left the game in the first half. He just canít win this season, and now he is likely out a couple games. I would not drop him due to the terrible lack of options at running back this season, but you are certainly frustrated if heís on your roster. Kenneth Gainwell could be a decent stand-in, even though the Eagles still do not run the ball nearly enough. He is very involved in the passing game, so he is worth a strong bid if he is on your wire. Boston Scott came in and had 8 touches and a score as well, so he is worth a lower bid.

  • Josh Jacobs was injured in the same game, leaving early in the second half after getting 9 touches and producing 68 yards of offense and a score. Kenyan Drake took over the No. 1 role and ended up playing on 39% of snaps. He got 17 touches and produced 79 yards of offense, with a score. Drake will be a very nice option against the Giants in Week 9, if Jacobs is out after the Raiders bye.

  • The merry-go-round continues in the Houston running game, and in Week 7 it was David Johnson getting the most work. He played on 54% of snaps and got 12 touches, including 5 receptions on 6 targets. He only produced 52 yards of offense, but the 5 receptions are noteworthy for PPR leagues. I would not play him unless totally desperate, as they will probably change course again next week.

  • Chase Edmonds took over the starting job again in Week 7, after struggling with an injury over the past two weeks. He played on 69% of snaps, while James Conner played on 30%. This is the split we were seeing early in the season, so itís apparently what the coaches want to do if possible. Edmonds got 16 touches (90 yards) and Conner got 10 (64 yards and a score). Because Conner is getting the goal-line work for a good offense, he remains a weekly starting option.

  • Khalil Herbert played on 77% of snaps, while Damien Williams played on only 17%. Herbert looks to have clearly taken over the lead back role while David Montgomery is out. He may be playing well enough to continue getting touches even after Montgomery is back. On Sunday Herbert got ran for 100 yards on 18 carries, excellent against the stout Bucs front. He also caught all 5 of his targets for 33 yards. Herbert needs to be picked up everywhere if he is on your wire, in case he remains involved for the rest of the season.

  • Jonathan Taylor played on 69% of snaps on Sunday night, his highest snap share of the season. It looked early in the season like Nyheim Hines might stay very involved, but Hines only got 9 touches on 28% of snaps. Taylor got 22 touches and produced 110 yards of offense, with a touchdown. It looks like Taylor will be a trustworthy option the rest of the way, pending health. Hines should be avoided, as heís just not involved enough in the offense.

  • Elijah Mitchell played on 66% of snaps and got 18 carries, which he took for 107 yards and a score. JaMycal Hasty was the only other back to see a touch, and he got 3 carries and 3 receptions for 16 total yards. I do not know why the 49ers are refusing to play Trey Sermon, but it appears it is not going to change. He should be dropped except in very deep leagues and perhaps dynasty leagues, but I do not anticipate he will see the field unless there are injuries.

  • Alvin Kamara was heavily involved in the passing game. He got 11 targets, a 31% target share, and caught 10 for 128 yards and a score. Be aware that the Saints have had a hard time on offense overall, and Jameis Winston has not looked good. Things might go south for Kamara once Michael Thomas returns, if they look to change their identity on offense. But for now, Kamara has been a safe play.

  • We have another three-way time share in Seattle at the moment, with Alex Collins, Rashaad Penny, and Travis Homer all playing less than 40% of snaps on Monday night. Thatís not even counting DeeJay Dallas, who played one offensive snap. Itís a mess, and the Seahawks look like a mess on offense overall. Avoid all of their players if you can.

Wide Receiver

  • Jarvis Landry returned in Week 7 from injury and played on 54% of snaps. He led the team in targets and finished with 8, catching 5 for 37 yards. He continues to garner more targets than Odell Beckham Jr. whenever he is on the field. Beckham, despite playing on 61% of snaps, only got 6 targets and caught only 2 for 23 yards. In this low-volume passing game, neither player is a good option unless you are desperate during the upcoming bye weeks.

  • JaíMarr Chase played on virtually every snap for the Bengals, until they pulled their starters in the blowout win over the Ravens. He received 10 targets, a 26% target share, and caught 8 of them for 201 yards and a score. He is an every-week must-start player.

  • Meanwhile, Tee Higgins received a whopping 15 targets himself, good enough for a 39% target share! He caught only 7 of them for 62 yards, but he is starting to click again with Burrow and should be a nice starting option the rest of the way in what is looking like an explosive offense.

  • In his second week active, Rashod Batemen played on 63% of snaps and again received 6 targets, catching 3 for 80 yards. Marquise Brown still was clearly the top option in the passing game (5-80-1 on 14 targets), and played on 86% of snaps. But donít miss that Bateman has certainly taken over the No. 2 receiver role. He should push for more snaps and targets as we go along.

  • Allen Lazard was involved for the second straight week, catching 5 of 6 targets for 60 yards and a score, on 91% of snaps. Until Marquez Valdes-Scantling returns, he should be a decent flex option, particularly for those hurting with bye week and injury issues.

  • In his return from injury Russell Gage played on 63% of snaps and got 6 targets, catching 4 for 67 yards and a score. He outproduced Calvin Ridley, despite Ridley playing on 73% of snaps and getting 10 targets (4-26-1). I continue to say I would wait for Ridley to have a big week and then try to move him, as he is not the same player without Julio Jones on the other side of the field. Gage should be a nice weekly flex option against weaker defenses.

  • Jaylen Waddle played on 84% of snaps and got 8 targets, catching 7 for 83 yards. Pay close attention to any shifts in the offense when Will Fuller and DeVante Parker are healthy, but for now I recommend starting Waddle every week, particularly in PPR leagues. Since he hasnít had a really huge week yet, he is also a nice trade target.

  • Elijah Moore played on 57% of snaps and got 6 targets, but he only caught 1 for 13 yards. He did get a rushing opportunity and took it 19 yards for a score. With the poor quarterback play for the Jets, Moore is likely in the midst of a lost season. He can be dropped in redraft leagues, but he is certainly a hold in dynasty leagues.

  • Robby Anderson continues to play almost every snap and get targets, but Sam Darnold has been awful of late. Anderson got 9 targets in Week 7 but caught only 3 for 14 yards. He has to be benched or cut in all leagues, until something improves with the Carolina offense.

  • Julio Jones played on only 43% of snaps on Sunday, likely still dealing with a hamstring issue. He got only 4 targets, catching 2 for 38 yards. If he is on your roster, you have to hope he will work his way into more targets as he gets healthier.

  • Kalif Raymond has become the No.1 receiver in Detroit. He played on 81% of snaps on Sunday, leading all Detroit skill-position players, and got 8 targets. He caught 6 for 115 yards. He needs to be added in all leagues, since it appears he is clearly going to stay involved for an offense that will trail almost every week.

  • Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods both played on 97% of snaps. Kupp got 13 targets (10-156-2) and Woods got 6 (6-70). Both players are effective, but Kupp is earning more targets and is producing incredibly well. Kupp is a WR1 and Woods is a WR3 for now, until he starts earning more targets on a weekly basis.

  • It is impossible to trust any Raiders wide receiver, except possibly Hunter Renfrow in PPR leagues (if youíre happy with 12 points). Henry Ruggs III played on 71% of snaps but only got 4 targets (4-24) and Bryan Edwards played on 89% of snaps and also got 4 targets (3-43-1). Iíd avoid both the rest of the season unless desperate.

  • Brandin Cooks only caught 5 passes for 21 yards, on 7 targets, despite playing on 95% of snaps. He is not worth a start against solid or good defenses.

  • All four Cardinals receivers played on over 50% of snaps, with Rondale Moore hitting 52%. This is worth noting, even though the involvement of all four will keep any of them from consistent weekly production, aside from DeAndre Hopkins.

  • Allen Robinson and Darnell Mooney continue to disappoint, and they cannot get on the same page with rookie Justin Fields. They played on 94% and 86% of snaps, but only received 4 and 5 targets, respectively. Neither got to 40 yards receiving. I am benching both players wherever I have them rostered until something big changes in Chicago.

  • Michael Pittman Jr. played on 91% of snaps in Week 7, and led the way in receiving for the Colts, catching all 4 of his targets for 105 yards and a score. His upside is limited because of the low-volume passing offense of the Colts, but he has shown he is an excellent receiver with great ball skills. Still, even without T.Y. Hilton in the game, Pittman only managed a 15% target share, as the Colts love to spread the ball around. Pittman is only a flex option moving forward.

  • Deebo Samuel played on 48 snaps (86%) and Brandon Aiyuk played on 40 (71%). However, Samuel was the centerpiece of the passing offense (7-100-1 on 11 targets) and Aiyuk saw only one target. I do not know why this is happening, or whether to blame Jimmy Garoppolo, Kyle Shanahan, or both. But Aiyuk cannot be started in any circumstances, and should only be rostered in very deep leagues, until something changes.

  • DK Metcalf got a 23% target share on Monday night, which is fine. But that equated to only 5 targets, as Geno Smith threw it only 22 times. If Metcalf had not caught the long touchdown, it would have been a crushing game for those who roster him, sort of like it was for those who have Tyler Lockett. Iíd recommend pivoting away from Lockett if you can, until Russell Wilson returns. He finished with 2 catches for 12 yards, on only 3 targets (14% target share).

Tight Ends

  • Noah Fant played on 90% of snaps and tied for the team lead in targets with 7. Even though he only caught 5 for 39 yards, his heavy involvement bodes well for his upside the rest of the season. Pay close attention to what happens to his snaps once Albert Okwuegbunam returns.

  • C.J. Uzomah only got 3 targets on Sunday but he made them count, catching all 3 for 91 yards and two touchdowns. He is not commanding a large target share, meaning that he will have very poor weeks. But he is playing well and in a dynamic offense, meaning you could do a lot worse than Uzomah at tight end.

  • Ricky Seals-Jones again played on 100% of snaps and had another productive game, catching 6 of 7 targets for 51 yards. He will remain a very nice weekly play while Logan Thomas is out.

  • Robert Tonyan finally got involved again in Week 7, playing on 68% of snaps and catching 4 of 5 targets for 63 yards and a score. He will be a weekly boom-bust option at tight end, but remains worth a roster spot in every league due to his potential for big weeks and the lack of elite options at the position.

  • Kyle Pitts continues to impress early in his career. On 67% of snaps, he got 8 targets, a 25% target share. He caught 7 of them for 163 yards. He should be started every week.

  • Mike Gesicki has also become one of the best weekly options at tight end this season. He played on 82% of snaps and caught 7 of 8 balls for 85 yards and a score. There were fantasy analysts saying to drop Gesicki after his poor Week 1, and I hope you didnít listen. He has become a dominant force for this offense, despite their struggles in the standings. He should be started every week.

  • Hunter Henry played on 79% of snaps, while Jonnu Smith (shoulder) played on only 22%. This struggle for the top of the tight end depth chart appears to be over. Smith can be dropped except in very deep or tight end-premium leagues, and Henry is a weekly starting option. However, the Patriots change game plans and approaches more than any other team, so donít count on Henry having a productive game every week.

  • Tyler Higbee played on 100% of snaps and got 8 targets (5-46). He is not producing huge numbers but is involved for a good offense and is on the field a ton. He is a top-10 option at the position due to his snap share and upside.

  • Dallas Goedert got what fantasy managers had been pining for, playing on 93% of snaps. He did not do much with those snaps, catching 3 of 5 targets for 70 yards. But bigger days are likely ahead for him if Jalen Hurts can keep improving.

  • Foster Moreau had a nice Week 7 with Darren Waller out, catching all 6 of his targets for 70 yards and a score. Derek Carr simply likes throwing to the tight end. Waller should be back after the Raiders bye, so I would not bother picking up Moreau.

  • Zach Ertz played on only 49% of snaps but was second on the team in targets with 5 (3-66-1). He will have very quiet weeks since the Cardinals do not use the tight end much, but he is also a worthy starting option since there are very few clear starting options at the position.

  • Cole Kmet played on 89% of snaps on Sunday and led the team with 6 targets (5-43). It is not advisable to play any Bears right now, but if I had to play one, it might be Kmet on teams without a top tight end. He seems to have a nice connection with Fields and is playing basically all the snaps.

  • Without Rob Gronkowski available, O.J. Howard and Cameron Brate split snaps, with Brate playing on 55% and Howard on 51%. They got 7 targets between them but only caught 1 of them. Neither is worth rostering going forward, even in deep leagues.

  • Itís extremely hard to trust any Saints players other than Kamara, but Adam Trautman did play on 86% of snaps on Monday night, and caught all 3 of his targets. No Saints player had more receptions than Trautman except Kamara, so at least he is a part of the game plan to some extent. He could be a desperation play if your starter is on bye.

  • The Seahawks are trying to get Gerald Everett involved, but they are simply struggling mightily on offense without Russell Wilson. Everett did get a carry, which he took for 12 yards, and also got three targets, which he caught for 11 yards. There just isnít much meat on the bone here. Still, keep Everett in mind for the stretch run, when presumably Wilson will be back under center.

Kevin Scott is a fantasy pro who has made over $100,000 playing fantasy football. Catch his podcast "Grinding the Data" and you can follow him on Twitter @kevinscottff.