Wed Oct 20 11:40pm ET
By DAN GREENSPAN
Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford, left, passes under pressure from Seattle Seahawks defensive end Rasheem Green (94) during the first half of an NFL football game, Thursday, Oct. 7, 2021, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Los Angeles Rams' Cooper Kupp, second from right, celebrates his touchdown with quarterback Matthew Stafford (9), second from left, during the second half of an NFL football game against the New York Giants, Sunday, Oct. 17, 2021, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford calls from the line of scrimmage during the second half of an NFL football game against the Seattle Seahawks, Thursday, Oct. 7, 2021, in Seattle. The Rams won 26-17. (AP Photo/Craig Mitchelldyer)
THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. (AP) While winning mostly eluded Matthew Stafford during his 12 seasons with Lions, the quarterback still has positive feelings about his time in Detroit, even after his career was rejuvenated by a trade to the Los Angeles Rams.
Going into his first game against the franchise that drafted him first overall in 2009, Stafford doesn't want to jeopardize those good feelings. He rejected the suggestion that his early success with the Rams means he did not receive adequate support from the Lions.
''I know when I was in Detroit, everybody was doing everything we could to try and make the team as good as we could, myself included,'' Stafford said Wednesday. ''I'm in a new place now. I'm here in LA, lucky to be surrounded by the people I'm surrounded with, no doubt. I'm just trying to make the most of my opportunities and win as many games as I possibly can.
''Appreciate my time in Detroit, appreciate all the players I played with, all the coaches that coached me and everybody else on our team. But I don't spend too much time thinking about it or reading that narrative, to be honest with you.''
Stafford has thrown for 1,838 yards with 16 touchdowns and four interceptions in leading his new team to a 5-1 record. He has formed one of the most dynamic partnerships in the NFL with receiver Cooper Kupp, while still featuring the likes of Robert Woods and tight end Tyler Higbee. Stafford is thriving behind an offensive line that looked average last season and has been sacked just six times.
Compare that to the struggles in Detroit for Jared Goff, the other piece of the enormous offseason trade between the Lions and Rams. A lack of viable targets on the outside has forced Goff to rely mostly on tight end T.J. Hockenson and the Lions' running backs. Having to play from behind has left Goff vulnerable to the pass rush, and he's been sacked 15 times in six games - all losses.
Stafford isn't focused on any such contrasts.
''I know I'm surrounded by great players and coaches that are that are really smart and have a clear vision, and we go from there, so I don't want to sit here and compare my time at Detroit to my time here,'' he said. ''I've only been here a few weeks, just trying to make the most of it and play as good as I can.''
Stafford also expressed relief that there wasn't any acrimony in his departure from Detroit.
''I can see how it'd be very easy for people to feel the other way, and for people to take some happiness in any kind of success than any former player is having away from their building is really just a testament to them as well,'' he said. ''I mean, that's the kind of people they are in Detroit, great people, you know, both in the organization and in the city itself, so I really did enjoy my time.''
Stafford insists his focus this week is on preparing to play, even with the Lions on the opposite sideline. That means recognizing some familiar faces when breaking down film. The young secondary that used to test Stafford in practice will now be trying to pick him off on Sunday.
There was a note of pride in Stafford's voice as he discussed the improvement he noticed in Lions cornerback Amani Oruwariye and safeties Tracy Walker III and Will Harris.
''I think of Amani on the outside, like used to practice against him all the time and you could see that potential in there. And now you see him on Sundays doing it for real and playing great. It's fun to see that,'' Stafford said.
''Same with Tracy, same with Will Harris, those guys that I've practiced against a lot, and to watch them elevate their game and continue to progress and get better and better is fun for me to see. It'll be a challenge for us this week.''
NOTES: Rookie WR Tutu Atwell is likely to return kicks after RB Jake Funk (hamstring) was put on injured reserve. ... RB Sony Michel did not practice because of a shoulder injury, but coach Sean McVay expects him to play. ... LT Andrew Whitworth and OLB Terrell Lewis got the day off for rest.
Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Robert Woods hasn't been the elite fantasy option we've come to known from recent seasons, but he's still a solid flex option in Week 7 against the Detroit Lions. Woods scored his third touchdown of the season in Week 6 and he's currently averaging just under 60 receiving yards per game. He's still averaging over seven targets per game and has 18 more than the third option on the team. Woods has a good matchup against a bad Lions secondary, and he should still be a flex option for this week.
Los Angeles Rams tight end Tyler Higbee has been fading over the last few weeks, and he remains a TE2 option in Week 7 against the Detroit Lions. There are multiple fantasy tight ends that are out this week on bye, and that bumps up the viability of Higbee. Higbee has seen at least five targets in four out of six games this season, and he's recorded at least 36 receiving yards in those same games as well. The Lions allow an average of 10.5 fantasy points per game to opposing tight ends, and with Higbee playing nearly all of the tight end snaps for the Rams, he has some playability this week.
Los Angeles Rams kicker Matt Gay has been quite consistent this year, and he remains a safe play in Week 7 against the Detroit Lions. Gay has made 31 of his 33 kicking attempts this year, and the only reason he doesn't get put higher in the weekly kicker rankings is because of his offense's efficiency. He's kicked 12 field goals compared to 21 extra points. When the Rams have the ball, they're generally scoring touchdowns. In Week 7, the Rams draw the Lions, who have given up at least 19 points in all six games this season, and they've allowed 34 or more points in three of six games. Gay has a very high floor and should be a safe play in fantasy lineups against the winless Lions.
Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford is the QB9 after six weeks, and he can easily move up the rankings in Week 7 against the Detroit Lions, where he spent the first 12 seasons of his career. Stafford is averaging over 300 yards and 2.7 passing touchdowns per game this season, and the Rams offense has been really clicking all year. The Lions have done a surprisingly decent job of containing quarterbacks in fantasy this year with games getting out of hand and offenses running on them. Even in a game against the New York Giants in Week 6 where the Rams blew out their opponent, Stafford still had over 250 yards and four passing touchdowns. In a revenge spot against his old team, Stafford is a strong start this week.
Los Angeles Rams running back Darrell Henderson Jr. has been one of the most consistent running backs in fantasy football this season, and that consistency should continue in Week 7 against the Detroit Lions. In four complete games, Henderson has run for at least 70 yards and he's scored a touchdown in four out of five games overall. The Lions have been the worst defense in the NFL against running backs for fantasy. They're allowing an average of 33.5 PPR points to opposing running backs this year, due in large part to their 12 total touchdowns allowed, which is the most in the league. If you have Henderson on your roster, he should be in your lineup this week.
Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp is on another planet for fantasy wideouts entering Week 7 against the Detroit Lions. Kupp's 152.8 fantasy points in PPR setups are 15.1 more than any other wideout. He has a 47-point cushion between him and the WR12 on the year. Kupp leads the Rams with 68 targets, which is 24 more than any other Rams pass-catcher, and he has seven of the team's 16 receiving touchdowns. The Lions have only given up four touchdowns to opposing wideouts this year because they've been very forgiving to opposing running backs. Regardless of that, you're starting Kupp with confidence this week.
New Orleans Saints kicker Brian Johnson is not worth starting in Week 7. The Saints added Johnson this week after Cody Parkey was placed on injured reserve. The team's original starter, Wil Lutz, started the season on injured reserve with a core muscle injury. Johnson is now the fourth kicker New Orleans will start this season. The 22-year-old rookie went undrafted out of Virginia Tech. In four seasons at Tech, he went 54-for-71 in field goals and 131-for-131 in extra points. Once Johnson starts for the Saints, it will be his first kicking action in the NFL. Therefore, it's not worth starting him as he's not proven yet.
The New Orleans Saints defense is a strong play in Week 7 against Seattle. The unit has eight sacks, nine picks, and three forced fumbles on the season. Meanwhile, the Seahawks have lost starting QB Russell Wilson to a finger injury and are starting backup Geno Smith. Smith hasn't been terrific in two games thus far, posting 209 yards with a score in Sunday's loss to the Steelers. He also lost a costly fumble that sealed the game for Pittsburgh. The Saints' defense is potent enough to cause some mistakes from this offense, meaning they are worth the start.
Detroit Lions DT Da'Shawn Hand (groin) was designated to return from the Reserve/Injured list Wednesday, Oct. 20.
New Orleans Saints tight end Adam Trautman is not a viable fantasy play in Week 7. Though the TE posted his best season numbers in Week 5 (2/43/0), he has been underwhelming overall in other games and has shown no consistency. The 24-year-old's next best total was when he posted three receptions for 18 yards in Week 1. With such a small and inconsistent role on this offense, there are better options to start at TE than Trautman.
New Orleans Saints wide receiver Tre'Quan Smith is not a viable fantasy play in Week 7 if active. The WR has been dealing with a hamstring injury since training camp and has been on injured reserve since. Nevertheless, the WR is set to be taken off injured reserve and could return for Week 7. He would provide a huge boost to a rather inexperienced and unproven receiving group. Nevertheless, Smith may be eased into action if he plays and it's unclear how he would perform in his first game back. As a result, it's best to wait and see how he does before starting him.
New Orleans Saints wide receiver Marquez Callaway is a flex option at best in Week 7 against the Seahawks. The 23-year-old posted his best numbers of the season in Week 5, four receptions for 85 yards and two scores on eight targets. With Michael Thomas (ankle) set to return soon and Tre'Quan Smith (hamstring) possibly returning on Monday for the Week 7 contest, Callaway may not be fantasy-relevant in just a few weeks. However, for Week 7, the WR remains in the flex tier as the Seahawks allow the 10th-most fantasy points to wideouts, and Smith may be eased into action if active.
New Orleans Saints quarterback Jameis Winston is a QB2 at best in Week 7. The QB is coming off a decent game in Week 5 in which he threw for 279 yards and four scores. Nevertheless, the 27-year-old has been streaky this season, which reflects his entire NFL career. The problem with Winston as a fantasy player is you don't know which version you will get any given week. The Seahawks are average against fantasy quarterbacks, so Winston is certainly in the streaming tier if you need options. Just be aware of the risk/reward that comes with playing a QB that can be streaky.
New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara is a solid RB1 against Seattle. Kamara is coming off a stellar performance in Week 5 where he posted 16 carries for 71 yards and a score along with five receptions for 51 yards and a score on eight targets. The RB has at least 71 rushing yards in four of five games this season and him being the focal point of the offense means there will be no shortage of touches. The Seahawks allow the third-most points to fantasy RBs, meaning Kamara has a chance to stuff the stat sheet.
The Denver Broncos defense hasn't been very good for fantasy purposes since their three-game winning streak to start the season against inferior competition. They've gone 0-3 since then and just allowed a season-high 34 points to the division-rival Las Vegas Raiders. But they'll catch a break on Thursday night against the Cleveland Browns, who will be without both starting running backs in Nick Chubb (calf) and Kareem Hunt (calf) and starting quarterback Baker Mayfield (shoulder). Oh, and top receiver Odell Beckham Jr. (shoulder) might be limited or out altogether. Elsewhere, left tackle Jedrick Wills (ankle) hasn't played since Week 4 and right tackle Jack Conklin (knee) hasn't played since Week 5. Pass-rusher Von Miller, who hasn't had a sack in two games, could make some noise. Denver's D should be a top-10 fantasy option on the short week.
Denver Broncos kicker Brandon McManus enters Thursday Night Football against the Cleveland Browns as the No. 10 kicker in terms of overall fantasy points. He's gotten there by making all 12 of his field-goal tries and all 12 of his extra points through the first six games of the season. McManus will be looking to stay perfect in Week 7 against a Browns defense that has allowed 84 combined points to the Los Angeles Chargers and Arizona Cardinals in the last two weeks. Denver's offense isn't nearly as explosive as those two teams, but they should be able to get McManus into position for at least a few opportunities. Denver has also struggled in the red zone to punch the ball into the end zone, too, which could lead to more field-goal tries. The 30-year-old remains firmly in the streaming picture at the position in fantasy this week.
Free-agent CB Desmond Trufant (Saints) signed with the Las Vegas Raiders Wednesday, Oct. 20. Terms of the contract were not disclosed. The team also placed S Roderic Teamer (undisclosed) on the Reserve/Injured list.
Denver Broncos wide receiver Tim Patrick enters the Week 7 matchup against the Cleveland Browns on Thursday night looking for his fourth touchdown of the season. Patrick hauled in three of his six targets in last weekend's loss to the Las Vegas Raiders for 42 yards and his third touchdown of the year. The 27-year-old was well behind both Courtland Sutton (14) and Noah Fant (11) in targets, and that will likely continue to be the case for at least one more week with Jerry Jeudy (ankle) slowly nearing a return. Patrick has some of the best hands in the NFL and is as reliable as they come, but he averages just 10.1 yards per target and doesn't have a ton of fantasy upside as a WR3/flex, even in a good matchup against a Cleveland secondary that has been very generous to pass-catchers in 2021.
Los Angeles Rams RB Sony Michel (shoulder) did not participate in practice Wednesday, Oct. 20.
Fantasy Spin: Fantasy players can keep an eye on the situation to see if Michel will be available in Week 7. He will see a decent amount of carries if he plays and could be a flex option in some deeper leagues because of the matchup.