Week 7 Start ‘Em or Sit ‘Em


Start ‘Em or Sit ‘Em is geared toward season-long leagues but can also be used for daily fantasy purposes.

QUARTERBACK

Start of the Week: Aaron Rodgers vs. Washington — The overall QB15 on the season, Rodgers is coming off a season-low 23 attempts last week in a clock-melting NFC North battle with the Bears. He still dazzled with a pair of passing scores on 8.48 yards per attempt and a rushing score to go with it, but Rodgers is 23rd in the league in pass attempts in an offense that plays at the sixth-slowest pace and runs the 10th-fewest plays. There just isn’t a ceiling to be had in such a mundane, deliberate offense. But this looks like one of those weeks where Rodgers can pop up for a big score. The Football Team is dead last in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks, dead last in touchdown passes surrendered, 28th in pass-defense DVOA, and 31st in opponent plays per game. The last five quarterbacks to face this defense have bagged top-seven fantasy weeks, including Patrick Mahomes’ 397 yards and two touchdowns last week after Jameis Winston went for 279 yards and four touchdowns on 30 attempts the week before. Rodgers will likely settle in closer to Winston’s 30 attempts than Mahomes’ 47, but there’s still plenty here for a blowup game. Green Bay is implied to score a hefty 28 points this week.

Starts

Matt Ryan at Dolphins — The QB18 on the year, Ryan and the Falcons are coming off their bye following a London win over the Jets in Week 5. Unlike the Falcons, the Dolphins are coming back stateside for another game after losing to the previously winless Jaguars last week in London. Typically, teams get their bye after going overseas, but Miami is back on the schedule. Ryan has tossed multiple touchdowns in four straight games and hasn’t thrown an interception since his three-pick Week 2. He’s averaging a robust 40.8 pass attempts per game with Atlanta playing at the 11th-fastest pace and running the eighth-most plays per contest. With high-priced Dolphins CBs Xavien Howard (shoulder, groin) and Byron Jones (Achilles’, groin) banged up at the moment and the Falcons welcoming back both Calvin Ridley (personal) and Russell Gage (ankle) to full practices this week, Ryan has his full arsenal against a Miami team ready to quit on its season. The Dolphins are 23rd in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks, 26th in pass-defense DVOA, 25th in adjusted sack rate, and 29th in opponent plays per game. Look for Ryan to have a clean pocket and time to throw as a back-end QB1 this week.

Sam Darnold at Giants — We’ve seen two different Darnolds through six weeks. The one that looked reborn and picked on inferior competition in Weeks 1-3 and then the turnover-prone one that reverted to Jets form the last three weeks. Weeks 1-3, Darnold was fantasy’s overall QB12 and turned the ball over just two times against the Jets, Saints, and Texans. Over the last three weeks, Darnold has tossed six interceptions with a lost fumble and just four touchdown passes with two rushing scores while averaging just 5.85 yards per attempt. He’s still been the overall QB15 in that span, but Darnold’s play has left the Carolina coaching staff questioning its offensive strategy. While Darnold’s arrow has been pointing down in recent weeks, this looks like a prime bounce-back spot. The Giants are 28th in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks, 22nd in pass-defense DVOA, 23rd in adjusted sack rate, and 25th in opponent plays per game. Darnold can beat bad defenses, and this qualifies as one. Expect the Panthers to lean on Chuba Hubbard against the Giants, but Darnold’s matchup is too easy to overlook in a week with so many quarterbacks on bye. Darnold is a fringe QB1 play and locked-in two-QB option.

Derek Carr vs. Eagles — In his first game following Jon Gruden’s resignation, Carr attempted just 27 passes against the Broncos last week but completed 18 of them for a career-high 12.63 yards per attempt en route to 341 yards and two touchdowns. He posted the overall QB11 week and is the QB16 on the season. New play-caller OC Greg Olson made heavy use of play-action last week, and Carr made the Denver defense pay. After being scared to throw deep for years, Carr has attempted a league-high 41 passes of 20-plus yards and is Pro Football Focus’ No. 6-graded deep-ball passer. Carr has unlocked Henry Ruggs, who is well on pace to destroy his rookie-year output. The Eagles are 11th in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks and 12th in pass-defense DVOA, but they’re 26th in opponent plays per game and the offense is 31st in average time of possession. The Raiders are going to have the ball a ton Sunday with Jalen Hurts’ inability to sustain drives. This game’s 48.5-point total is the week’s third-highest.

Sits

Joe Burrow at Ravens — Burrow matched his season-high with three touchdowns against the Lions last Sunday en route to the QB8 fantasy week, but he’s posted just one 300-yard passing game on the year and has topped 30 pass attempts in a game just twice. He’s also not using his legs at all, averaging 7.3 rushing yards per game. Burrow now gets the division-rival Ravens fresh off eliminating Justin Herbert, holding him to season-lows in passing yards (195), touchdowns (1), and yards per attempt (5.0) as the overall QB22 last week. Three of the last four quarterbacks to face this Baltimore defense have finished as the QB20 or worse. The Ravens are No. 10 in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks, 15th in pass-defense DVOA, 14th in adjusted sack rate, and No. 9 in opponent plays per game. Meanwhile, the Bengals are 27th in plays per game and dead last in offensive pace. Coach Zac Taylor is coddling Burrow and running the ball at the league’s eighth-highest rate. This game’s 46.5-point total is the third-lowest of Sunday’s main slate with Cincinnati implied to score just 20.25 points.

Daniel Jones vs. Panthers — Beaten and battered by the Rams last week after being concussed in Week 5, Jones gets another tough test against a Panthers unit that is top-10 in sacks and QB hits, No. 7 in pass-defense DVOA, and No. 3 in opponent plays per game. Jones will also be without WRs Kenny Golladay (knee) and Kadarius Toney (ankle) and RB Saquon Barkley (ankle) while Evan Engram (calf) and Sterling Shepard (hamstring) were added to the injury report Thursday. The offensive line has already been wrecked by injuries and lost LT AnDrew Thomas last week to injured reserve. Jones could be throwing to guys like John Ross, Collin Johnson, Darius Slayton, and Kyle Rudolph this weekend. Not a recipe for success. In a game with a 42.5-point total, the Giants are implied to score just 20 points at home.

Tua Tagovailoa vs. Falcons — In his return from I.R. with a ribs injury, Tagovailoa went to London and completed over 70.2% of his 47 pass attempts against the Jaguars for 329 yards and two touchdowns while rushing for a season-best 22 yards en route to the QB10 week. But a mind-numbing late-game interception helped lead to a Miami loss to the previously winless Jaguars, and rumors are now swirling that the Dolphins are trying to strike a trade for Deshaun Watson. Tagovailoa’s job is very much in question. This week’s matchup with the Falcons isn’t tough by any means, with Atlanta checking in at 24th in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks, 30th in pass-defense DVOA, and 20th in adjusted sack rate, but the Dolphins are 21st in plays per game and 28th in time of possession. It will be interesting to see how Tagovailoa fares with the Watson whispers getting louder by the week. Tagovailoa is more of a two-QB play for me.

RUNNING BACK

Start of the Week: Miles Sanders at Raiders — Sanders has out-snapped rookie backfield mate Kenneth Gainwell 93-28 the last two weeks and is coming off a season-high 83% snap share last week against the Bucs, but neither of these running backs is doing very much in fantasy with Jalen Hurts dominating the rushing output. Hurts has 14 carries to Sanders’ nine in the red zone, and Hurts has scored five times on the ground to Sanders’ zero. Sanders is the overall RB38 on the season but has some easier matchups on the docket. And it starts with the Raiders. Vegas is 20th in fantasy points allowed to running backs and 27th in opponent plays per game. Speaking Monday, coach Nick Sirianni admitted, “There’s no doubt we’ve gotta get the ball to Sanders more.” After averaging 16.5 touches per game Weeks 1 and 2, Sanders is seeing 10.5 per contest the last four weeks with three single-digit carries games in that span. Sanders has dates with the Raiders, Lions, and Chargers the next three weeks. He’s in a great spot to bust his slump as long as Sirianni follows through and Hurts can sustain drives.

Starts

Mike Davis at Dolphins — Davis is purely a volume play during a week with so many solid fantasy running backs on bye. He’s not nearly the playmaker teammate Cordarrelle Patterson is, but Davis is seeing 4.8 targets per game to raise his fantasy floor. He’s scored in back-to-back games and is fantasy’s overall RB29 on the year. Davis draws a Miami defense that is 31st in fantasy points allowed to running backs, 19th in run-defense DVOA, and 29th in opponent plays per game. Davis has touch counts of 18 > 16 > 16 > 15 > 15 this season while playing 66% of the snaps. That sort of playing time and volume shouldn’t go unnoticed, and coupled with facing a bad defense, it puts Davis squarely in the RB2 mix with six teams off this week.

AJ Dillon vs. Washington — With Aaron Jones battling a bit of an ankle issue the last few weeks, Dillon’s touches and playing time have been on the rise. Jones is still a lock-and-load RB1 with massive touchdown potential. He’s third in the NFL with 22 red-zone carries, and 10 of those have come inside the 10-yard line. But Dillon has shown he has some standalone value as an RB3 with double-digit touches in three straight games. He’s the overall RB26 in that span. Washington has fared much better against the run than pass defensively, but with the Packers installed as 7.5-point home favorites, game script favors Dillon, who has handled the vast majority of his touches with the Packers leading on the scoreboard. Dillon’s emergence gives the coaching staff an opportunity to give Jones more plays off and save him for the stretch run and playoffs. With the state of the running back position this week, Dillon is a top-25 play.

James Conner vs. Texans — Conner is averaging just 3.4 yards per carry but has punched in five short touchdowns over the last four weeks and is eighth in the NFL with 17 red-zone carries and third with 11 totes inside the 10-yard line. Conner has converted 5-of-6 inside-the-five carries for touchdowns. We have a clear picture of this backfield. Chase Edmonds is the guy between the 20-yard lines and in the passing game with 30 targets, and Conner is the preferred back in the red zone, at the goal line, and in clock-killing mode when the Cardinals have a lead. Conner’s success at the goal line has him as the current RB24 in fantasy. Favored by 18 points at home, this looks like a dream spot for Conner to handle 18-plus carries. The Texans are 25th in fantasy points allowed to running backs and 29th in run-defense DVOA while allowing a whopping 5.18 yards per carry to the position. Conner has multi-touchdown upside in this one.

Sits

Myles Gaskin vs. Falcons — Malcolm Brown was removed from the game plan against the run-stingy Bucs in Week 5 but returned to the lineup last week in London against the Jaguars. Despite Gaskin setting season highs in playing time and targets while catching two touchdowns the week before, the coaches got all three backs involved again in Week 6. None of these guys can be trusted for fantasy. Gaskin is third among running backs in targets and just needs one of Brown or Ahmed to disappear to become fantasy-relevant again. But here’s how the snaps and touches played out against Jacksonville last week: Gaskin (36%, 7), Brown (36%, 6), and Ahmed (28%, 8). A three-man RBBC in a bad offense is off limits in fantasy lineup decisions.

Khalil Herbert at Bucs — David Montgomery (knee, I.R.) is expected to miss at least a couple more games. With Montgomery and Damien Williams (COVID) out in Week 6, Herbert dominated the backfield work, playing 89% of the snaps and seeing 22 combined carries and targets, and cashed in with an early touchdown. Herbert has earned at least a 50-50 role alongside Williams for however much longer Montgomery is out. And it’s notable that Williams remained on the COVID list Thursday. Herbert could be headed for another heavy workload. The matchup, however, is really brutal. The Bucs are No. 1 in fantasy points allowed to running backs and No. 5 in run-defense DVOA. Teams are averaging just 11.3 rushing attempts per game against Tampa Bay. If Williams has to miss another game, Herbert’s stock gets a boost purely from a volume standpoint, but the individual matchup and game script just aren’t very good with the Bears headed on the road as 13-point underdogs.

Jamaal Williams at Rams — I had Williams as a start last week and even used him in some of my own fantasy lineups. The expectation was the Lions were at least going to compete with the Bengals at home, but instead they got blown out by 23 points, and Williams turned a season-low five touches into just nine scoreless yards. The Lions losing every week has greatly benefitted D’Andre Swift with him racking up a ton of his fantasy production in the second halves of games. This looks like another one of those with Detroit headed to L.A. as 15.5-point dogs.

WIDE RECEIVER

Start of the Week: Robby Anderson at Giants — This feels dirty after Anderson turned 11 targets into 11 yards last week against the Vikings, though he was able to find the end zone on one of his three catches. Anderson has been one of the biggest disappointments at the position through six weeks as the overall WR60 and is admittedly frustrated with his lack of production. The peripheral numbers have been strong, though, with the Panthers ticking up Anderson’s playing time the last three weeks and feeding him 29 targets in that span. Terrace Marshall is now sidelined with a concussion, and Anderson gets a date with a Giants unit that is 26th in fantasy points allowed to wide receivers, 22nd in pass-defense DVOA, and 25th in opponent plays per game. With such a narrow target tree sans Marshall and Brandon Zylstra (I.R.), Anderson should see eight-plus targets as the second fiddle to D.J. Moore in this one.

Starts

Henry Ruggs vs. Eagles — Ruggs’ 22.3 yards per catch leads the league, and he’s already six catches and seven yards away from his total output as a rookie. The sophomore has at least 51 yards and/or one touchdown in five straight games and looks like an upside WR2 this week against a Philadelphia defense that is 26th in opponent plays per game. Derek Carr has shown much more of a willingness to challenge defenses deep with a league-high 41 pass attempts of 20-plus yards. The Eagles cover outside receivers well, but Ruggs’ speed is unmatched, and OC Greg Olson’s use of more play-action last week should give Carr some chances to hit Ruggs deep. This game’s 48.5-point total is the third-highest of the week.

Jakobi Meyers vs. Jets — Meyers’ 52 targets on the season are 23 more than the next closest Patriots player. He nearly snapped his career-long touchdown-less streak last week against the Cowboys, but Meyers had the touchdown negated by a penalty. Sheer volume keeps Meyers stapled to fantasy lineups as a passable WR3 facing a New York defense that is 30th in opponent plays per game. The Jets are 23rd in pass-defense DVOA but No. 4 in fantasy points allowed to wide receivers. They’ve faced the Calvin Ridley-less Falcons and A.J. Brown- and Julio Jones-less Titans the last two times out. Meyers saw six targets against the Jets Week 2.

Darnell Mooney at Bucs — Mooney has out-targeted Allen Robinson 28-25 since Justin Fields took over under center, and Mooney leads the team in catches and yards on passes from Fields. Chicago’s top deep threat, Mooney draws a Bucs secondary that is 30th in fantasy points allowed to wide receivers and will be without new CB Richard Sherman (hamstring) in this one after starting CBs Carlton Davis and Sean Murphy-Bunting have already been placed on I.R. With the Bears as 13-point road underdogs, Fields is expected to set a new season-high in pass attempts. A gifted deep ball-thrower, Fields should have Mooney in his sights all afternoon.

Sits

Tyler Boyd at Ravens — With Tee Higgins back the last two weeks, Boyd’s targets have evaporated in the Bengals’ run-heavy, slow-paced offense. Working out of the slot, Boyd needs volume to sustain fantasy production. And he’s not getting that right now with four targets per game and 31 scoreless yards the last two weeks. He’s now getting a Baltimore defense that is No. 5 in fantasy points allowed to wideouts. Boyd has also struggled to produce in recent games against the Ravens, who seem to have his number with Marlon Humphrey in the slot. Boyd is a low-floor, low-ceiling WR4 with the Bengals implied to score just 20.25 points.

Brandon Aiyuk vs. Colts — Aiyuk’s playing time is back to normal as the 49ers’ clear No. 2 receiver, but he’s seen more than four targets in a game just once this season and has yet to top 37 yards. Deebo Samuel has out-targeted him 35-11 in games started by Jimmy Garoppolo. In a game featuring two of the league’s more run-heavy offenses with expected rain showers, this looks like a spot to avoid 49ers pass-catchers not named Samuel. This game’s 43-point total is the third-lowest of the week.

Mecole Hardman at Titans — After catching 9-of-12 targets in comeback mode and garbage time in the Week 5 loss to the Bills, Hardman was hyped as a fantasy play last week against Washington. He predictably flopped with a scoreless 4-62 line on five targets with the Chiefs beating the brakes off Washington in the second half. Hardman is merely fighting for scraps behind Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce in the passing game, and even Darrel Williams saw just one fewer target than Hardman last week. The matchup with the Titans looks easy on paper, with Tennessee 31st in fantasy points allowed to wideouts, but Hardman just doesn’t look like a good football player and has long struggled to produce when both Hill and Kelce are in the lineup.

TIGHT END

Start of the Week: Dallas Goedert at Raiders — With Zach Ertz traded to the Cardinals, Goedert has been the most-hyped tight end of the week in fantasy. He’s now poised to handle all the tight end work in Philly, and GM Howie Roseman even seemingly admitted that they need to see what Goedert can do as a full-time player at the position before extending his contract. Goedert and Jalen Hurts have been in sync all year, with Goedert catching 15 of his 19 targets and scoring two touchdowns. He now gets a Vegas defense that is 27th in fantasy points allowed to the position and has surrendered the second-most catches to tight ends. This game’s 48.5-point total is one of the highest on the board and is one we should attack in fantasy.

Starts

Hunter Henry vs. Jets — Henry has scored in three straight games and is averaging five targets per game in that span. That’s enough to keep Henry on the streaming map against a Jets unit that is 23rd in fantasy points allowed to tight ends with Henry playing 71% of the offensive snaps compared to 58% for Jonnu Smith. Henry has filled the pass-catching role.

Zach Ertz vs. Texans — The Cardinals made the trade for Ertz after he went 4-29-1 on six targets across 89% of the snaps last week against the Bucs with Dallas Goedert sidelined with COVID. In Arizona, Ertz gets to be the unquestioned starter after Maxx Williams’ season-ending knee injury. And Ertz’s first date is with a Texans defense that is dead last in touchdowns and fantasy points allowed to tight ends. Arizona has the highest team total of the week at 32.5 points.

Robert Tonyan vs. Washington — Tonyan has been one of the biggest busts at the tight end position, producing 10 yards or fewer in 5-of-6 games despite playing 61% of the snaps. He’s a distant third on the team in targets behind Davante Adams and Aaron Jones, but this looks like a possible ceiling game for Tonyan. Washington has allowed the 10th-most catches and sixth-most yards to tight ends. The Football Team defense is 31st in opponent plays per game, which should give Aaron Rodgers an opportunity to get his secondary weapons more involved.



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