Sat Oct 24 11:01am ET
By CHARLIE WIEGERT
An interesting way to look at Week 7 in most leagues is that you are halfway finished with your regular season. Most leagues playoffs start Week 13 or 14, so this is a good time to take a serious look at your roster and ask yourself, can this team make the playoffs? If not, it’s time to start making trade offers. And be proactive with the waiver wire. With a lot of bye weeks coming, look ahead a week for someone you’ll need to cover, rather than wait and hope you get the player you want that someone else in your league could also be targeting. An example this week is Indianapolis tight end Trey Burton, who is on a bye. Not many team owners go after players on a bye, but next week he could draw a lot of interest as he’s become one of Phillip Rivers favorite targets. And if your in a FAAB league, you can get him with a low bid this week, but it will take a higher bid next week.
The four teams on the bye this week are Minnesota, Miami, Indianapolis and Baltimore. The COVID watch is on in Las Vegas, where their offensive line has lost one starter already and they await tests from the other four. Their game with Tampa has been moved from Sunday night to Sunday afternoon because the NFL did not want to risk not having a prime time game on Sunday night. So obviously the NFL has serious concerns about the game happening. A possibility of the game getting moved to Monday or Tuesday also exists. If the game is played and the Raiders are without some of their starting offensive line, I wouldn’t want to be David Carr. Tampa already will challenge them and without some key players, I’m not sure Jon Gruden will have enough tricks up his sleeve to keep the Raiders in the game.
This is good time to look at the defenses allowing the most fantasy points at each position again and some players who might be good plays this week.
Quarterback: Atlanta, Buffalo, Minnesota, Seattle and Dallas. Matt Stafford against the Falcons, who have given up over 300 passing yards every game, should be good.
I can’t really recommend Joe Flacco against the Bills (or anybody else for that matter), and the Vikings are on a bye. Red hot Kyler Murray has a key matchup with division rival Seattle. And Kyle Allen gets to exploit the Dallas defense.
Running Back: Houston, Carolina, Jacksonville, New York Jets and Green Bay. Houston and Green are playing each other, so you’d expect two of the five teams giving up the most points to have a lot of rushing, right? Aaron Jones should have a huge game. As a side note, Houston shutdown corner Bradley Roby will be shadowing Devante Adams, so Aaron Rodgers will be happy to let Jones be a workhorse in this one. On the other side, David Johnson will try to keep the Packers off the field as he runs the ball for the Texans.
I’m more of a believer in Justin Jackson than Joshua Kelley, but both Chargers running backs could approach triple digits against the Jaguars. And since the Jaguars pass defense leaves a lot to be desired, Jackson should have the better day. Buffalo gets the Jets weak rushing defense, making Devin Singletary a strong play. And Josh Allen could get more rushing yards than passing yards in this one. Plus, it’s a great spot to give rookie Zack Moss a chance to show breakaway skills.
Wide Receiver: Washington, Chicago, Los Angeles Rams, Carolina and Kansas City. I always find it interesting that the teams giving up the most fantasy points to quarterbacks are not also giving up the most fantasy points to wide receivers. One has to assume a lot of the points to quarterbacks are coming from passing to running backs and tight ends, or running the ball.
So the Red Rifle will hope to get Dallas going by passing the ball to CeeDee Lamb and Amari Cooper, and perhaps a long ball to Michael Gallup. All are better choices than having Ezekiel Elliott fumble the ball away.
The Bears and Rams matchup features two of the top three teams giving up points to wide outs. Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods should be busy for the Rams, and Allen Robinson will be Nick Foles favorite target.
New Orleans gets to feast on Carolina’s weak passing defense, so this would be a great spot for the return of Michael Thomas. But a bulky hamstring has him out, giving Emmanuel Sanders another week to be the main man. But Sanders just tested positive for the bat virus, putting him on the bench. So if you’re looking for a sleeper, Tre’Quan Smith becomes one starter and either Deonte Harris or Marquez Callaway the other. Not what Drew Brees was hoping for.
Tim Patrick should be busy for the Broncos as they play catch up with the Chiefs, making him a good play.
Tight End: Buffalo, Atlanta, New Orleans, Philadelphia and Washington. It’s really hard to recommend a Jets player, but if they do find some success against the Bills, Chris Herndon could be the one to do it.
T.J. Hockenson should exploit the Falcons. Other than Kelce and Kittle, I think Hockenson could lead tight ends in fantasy points this week and is a great value in DFS.
I can’t recommend Panthers Ian Thomas against New Orleans after he was catchless last week against the Falcons (and makes me wonder if the Falcons might also stop Hockenson).
Logan Thomas practiced in full Friday, so the Washington tight end is good to go against a Dallas defense that struggles against tight ends (well, against everyone).
NFL football always reminds me how unpredictable it can be sometimes. Last week, the Minnesota Vikings should have had their best offensive production of the year against a porous Falcon team that just fired their coach and GM. If it wasn’t for some easy yards in mop-up time after the game was decided, it could have been one of their worst. And Big Ben should have had a huge game against the Browns, but the Browns rolled over early so there was no need for him to be passing. That’s what keep it’s it interesting for us, I guess!
Have a good Week 7!
Charlie Wiegert was the sixth person to be inducted in the Fantasy Sports Hall Of Fame in 2001. He is a founder of CDM Fantasy Sports and Fantasy Sports Trade Association. He has been playing and winning fantasy baseball leagues since 1984. If you have any questions for Charlie, email them to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @GFFantasySports.
Five Hot Plays: Week 12
For the second straight day, Chicago Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky (shoulder) practiced in full on Thursday, while Nick Foles (hip) did not practice. Head coach Matt Nagy hinted on Wednesday that Trubisky was on track to start in Week 12 against the division-rival Packers, and that is even closer to happening with Foles still unable to practice. It's not like Foles has been good since replacing Trubisky in Week 3. While neither QB is more than a low-end QB2 in superflex leagues in this stagnant offense, but at least Trubisky can offer fantasy managers a little something with his legs. The Packers Defense has also allowed the sixth-fewest fantasy points per game to signal-callers, so whoever starts under center for Chicago won't be a great fantasy option. Trubisky threw for 562 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions in two games against Green Bay in 2019.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers center A.Q. Shipley (neck), who has been filling in as a starter the last two weeks, may be dealing with a career-ending neck injury, according to head coach Bruce Arians. Shipley left the Monday night loss to the Rams in the fourth quarter. It's bad news for a Tampa offensive line that is already without starting left guard Ali Marpet, who has missed three games with a concussion. Starting center Ryan Jensen was moved to left guard because of Marpet's injury after Joe Haeg struggled in the blowout loss to the Saints. Left tackle Donovan Smith (ankle) also missed practice this week. It's something to watch for quarterback Tom Brady's protection heading into Week 12 in their contest against the Chiefs.
Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver D.J. Chark Jr. (ribs) did not practice on Thursday for the second straight day. Chark is now in danger of sitting out in Week 12 against a vulnerable Browns Defense unless he gets in at least a limited practice on Friday. As of right now, the 24-year-old should be considered a shaky WR3/flex with quarterback Mike Glennon making his first start under center since 2017 with the Bears. If Chark is unable to suit up on Sunday, it'll boost the values of Keelan Cole, Chris Conley and rookie Laviska Shenault Jr. (if he plays). But the bottom line is it's tough to trust any Jacksonville pass-catcher with the team on their third starting QB in 2020. Running back James Robinson is the team's only real safe fantasy play against Cleveland.
The Los Angeles Rams placed linebacker Micah Kiser (knee) on Injured Reserve on Thursday. Kiser has been really solid on the interior of the Rams Defense this year, recording 77 tackles (44 solo), three passes defensed and one forced fumble in nine games this season. The 25-year-old from Virginia suffered the knee injury in the Monday night win over the Buccaneers. While LA will miss his presence for at least the next three games, their defensive unit as a whole should remain fantasy relevant. The Rams defense should be considered a top-five fantasy unit this weekend against the division-rival 49ers and backup quarterback Nick Mullens.
Atlanta Falcons running back Todd Gurley II (knee) and tight end Hayden Hurst (ankle) were held out of practice for the second straight day on Thursday. Fantasy managers definitely don't want to see Gurley and a knee injury mentioned in the same sentence. He played a season-low 36 percent of the snaps in Week 11, too, and has a well-documented history with knee issues. He'll need at least a limited practice on Friday to have a chance at facing the Raiders in Week 12. Whoever is the team's primary back, though, will have some upside against a Raiders defense that has allowed the fourth-most fantasy points per game to running backs. Gurley owners might want to run to the waiver wire and add Brian Hill right now. Hurst had no catches last week and is in danger of missing Sunday's game. If he cannot play, Luke Stocker and Jaeden Graham would split repetitions at the tight end position for Atlanta. Hurst is a very shaky low-end TE1 at this point.
Atlanta Falcons wide receivers Julio Jones (hamstring) and Calvin Ridley (foot) were limited in practice on Thursday. The Falcons announced earlier this week that Jones would be a game-time decision in Week 12 against the Raiders, but the good news is that he's been limited in two practices this week. However, he played only 22 snaps in Week 11 as he continues to play through nagging injuries. We'd say he's on the right side of questionable, but the 31-year-old All-Pro receiver should be viewed as a shaky WR2/3 if he continues to be limited. Ridley should be fine to play and has clear WR1 upside if Jones is limited again or out entirely against Las Vegas. The Raiders have allowed five receivers to go over 100 yards receiving this year, setting up Ridley as a must-start this weekend.
The Buffalo Bills did not practice Thursday, Nov. 26, and the following participation reports are estimations. WR John Brown (ankle) did not participate. OG Cody Ford (ankle) and QB Jake Fromm (non-injury) were limited. DE A.J. Epenesa (concussion), DE Jerry Hughes (back), RB Taiwan Jones (hamstring), TE Dawson Knox (hamstring) and CB Josh Norman (illness) were full participants.
Denver Broncos head coach Vic Fangio said that backup quarterback Jeff Driskel will be put on the team's Reserve/COVID-19 list. It's unclear if Driskel actually tested positive for the virus, but either way, he's unlikely to be active as a backup in Week 12 against the Saints. Even if Driskel were active on Sunday, he'd likely be the third QB behind starter Drew Lock and Brett Rypien. Driskel made one start for the injured Lock earlier this year in Week 3 against the Buccaneers, going just 17-for-30 for 176 yards with a touchdown and an interception. If Lock were to miss any more time in 2020 with an injury, it would likely be Rypien getting the start over Driskel under center for Denver.
The Denver Broncos Defense played a huge part in the Week 11 upset win over the Dolphins, sacking rookie quarterback Tua Tagovailoa six times and recording an interception to hold Miami to 13 points. They'll face a Saints team this weekend without future Hall of Fame quarterback Drew Brees, but that might actually be a bad thing. New Orleans' offense still remains plenty explosive, and Taysom Hill and his versatility under center will present headaches for this undermanned Denver defense. Opposing defenses have scored the fourth-fewest fantasy points per game against the Saints this year. The Broncos D ranks 19th in the league in overall fantasy points and have allowed 30-plus points in four of the last five games. Don't expect them to surprise fantasy managers for two straight weeks.
Denver Broncos kicker Brandon McManus ranks ninth in the NFL with a 95.2 percent field-goal percentage in 10 games this year, missing just one of his 21 field-goal attempts. He's also missed just one of his 19 extra-point attempts. McManus hasn't missed a kick since missing an extra point in Week 7 against the Chiefs. The only field goal he missed was from 50-plus yards. But the 29-year-old with a big leg has been just a fringe fantasy starter because of Denver's inconsistent offense. It helps that he'll be kicking in the high altitude of Denver again in Week 12 against the Saints, but New Orleans' defense has allowed 19 field-goal tries this year, which is tied for 16th in the NFL. The Broncos most likely won't be able to settle for field goals against the Saints offense.
Denver Broncos QB Jeff Driskel on Thursday, Nov. 26, will be placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list.
Denver Broncos rookie wide receiver K.J. Hamler has 26 targets in the last three games, which he has turned into 14 catches for 160 yards. Hamler has seen his role increase in the last three weeks, but he has only one touchdown in his rookie season and 25 receptions for 275 yards in eight total games. The 21-year-old from Penn State has seen more production out of the slot and has big-play upside, but Denver is using him as more of a chain-mover than a deep threat. In this inconsistent offense as the third wideout behind rookie Jerry Jeudy and Tim Patrick, it's hard to put much faith in Hamler in single-year fantasy leagues. He'll be a WR4/flex in deeper leagues against New Orleans this Sunday.
The Houston Texans have declared OT Charlie Heck, WR Kenny Stills, WR Isaiah Coulter, RB Cullen Gillaspia, LB Nate Orchard and QB Josh McCown inactive for Week 12.
Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald has tested positive for COVID-19 and will miss Week 12 against the Patriots, according to sources. It's a bad time for this to happen, since Fitzgerald had at least 54 yards in three of his last four games and led the Cardinals with 10 targets in Week 11's loss to the Seahawks. DeAndre Hopkins will still have a tough test against All-Pro cornerback Stephon Gilmore on Sunday, but Fitz's absence should open up more targets for Christian Kirk, Andy Isabella and others. Kirk should see the biggest boost from Fitzgerald's absence against a Patriots Defense that hasn't been nearly as strong as in years past. Kirk will have WR2 upside this weekend.
Denver Broncos wide receiver Tim Patrick had his third 100-yard game of the season in last week's win over the Dolphins, and he's been incredibly efficient considering quarterback Drew Lock's struggles in his first full season as the starter. The Saints Defense, Denver's Week 12 opponent, has been more vulnerable through the air than on the ground this year, but their overall defense ranks third in the league. The Broncos should be forced to pass more than they'd like in this one, which is good news for Patrick and the Denver wideouts. The 27-year-old has impressed in 2020, but he's still more of a WR4/flex in this inconsistent offense while going up against strong cornerbacks Janoris Jenkins and Marshon Lattimore.
Arizona Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald (illness) tested positive for COVID-19 and is out for Week 12.
Fantasy Spin: The New England Patriots are a midrange matchup. Christian Kirk has been boom or bust, but he has caught 18 balls over the last four games. With Fitz out, he could be in line for more. He's an elite WR3 or possibly a low-end WR2 in PPR.
Denver Broncos running back Phillip Lindsay and the team's running game showed some much-needed life in the surprising Week 11 win over the Dolphins. Lindsay saw 16 carries (one more than teammate Melvin Gordon) and ran for 82 yards. In Week 10, he had just four rushing attempts for a measly two yards against the Raiders. The 26-year-old is still averaging a healthy 5.4 yards per carry on 73 attempts this year, but he's splitting the offensive snaps nearly evenly with Gordon, limiting his opportunities. And on top of it, he's facing a Saints Defense on Sunday that has been the stingiest against RBs in fantasy all year. Considering that the Broncos will likely be trailing in this one and that Lindsay has just eight targets (two catches) all year, he's an uninspiring RB4 that should be left on benches in 12-team leagues.
Denver Broncos running back Melvin Gordon III got back into the good graces of his fantasy managers in Week 11 by rushing 15 times for 84 yards and two touchdowns in the win over the Dolphins. But those expecting back-to-back solid performances in fantasy might be disappointed. He'll be facing a Saints Defense that has allowed the fewest fantasy points per game to opposing running backs in 2020. On top of that, Gordon saw just 50 percent of the offensive snaps last week, meaning that he'll have to continue to capitalize on his opportunities against a much stouter run defense in New Orleans. Gordon does contribute more through the air, but the Saints have allowed a league-low five total TDs to RBs this year. Gordon's ceiling should be lowered this week as more of an RB3/flex.
The Detroit Lions have declared WR Kenny Golladay, DE Austin Bryant, CB Jeff Okudah, RB D'Andre Swift, DE Da'Shawn Hand, CB Mike Ford and WR Danny Amendola inactive for Week 12.
Detroit Lions rookie running back D'Andre Swift (concussion) has officially been ruled out for Thursday's Thanksgiving game against the Texans. It'll be the rookie's second straight missed game and will leave Detroit's backfield to veteran Adrian Peterson and Kerryon Johnson. Peterson started last week against the Panthers and then split touches with Johnson. They weren't effective at all in the shutout loss, though, with Detroit rushing for 40 yards total in the game. Houston's defense has allowed the second-most fantasy points per game to running backs, so the duo should be more effective, but they are both low-ceiling RB4/flex plays in deeper leagues while they share the workload minus Swift.