Fantasy News & Analysis

NFL Week 7 DFS Cheat Sheet: Five recommended plays for all contests

2RT0TKB Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes runs the ball during the first half of an NFL football game against the Detroit Lions Thursday, Sept. 7, 2023, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

• QB Patrick Mahomes (78.8 PFF passing grade), Kansas City Chiefs vs. Los Angeles Chargers: Mahomes’s depressed expected rostership rate creates a rare leverage opportunity.

• TE Travis Kelce (89.1 PFF receiving grade), Kansas City Chiefs vs. Los Angeles Chargers: Kelce has scored more than 30.0 half-points-per-reception (PPR) points in two of his last four games against Los Angeles.

• Dominate your fantasy league in 2023: For up-to-date fantasy draft rankings and projections, check out PFF’s fantasy rankings tool!

Estimated reading time: 8 minutes

Daily fantasy sports (DFS) lineups require smart matchups analysis and rostership leverage opportunities to succeed. The analysis below details five fantasy assets capable of gaining significant leverage on the field.

WR:CB Matchup Chart

WR Christian Watson, Green Bay Packers @ Denver Broncos – $6,600 on FanDuel

Watson (62.0 PFF offense grade) returns from the team’s Week 6 bye fully healthy for the first time since suffering a preseason hamstring strain. He faces a Denver defense allowing the third-highest wide receiver catch rate (76.3%) and the third-most yards allowed per wide receiver-coverage snap (9.93) among NFL teams.

Watson’s 10.4% expected rostership rate ranks just the 13th-highest in PFF’s ownership projections, surprisingly creating both cash-game and GPP-tournament leverage. Week 6’s six-team bye week eliminates three half-PPR WR1s and two WR2s from the player pool, creating abnormally high expected rostership rates within the wide receiver position’s elite tier.

Watson’s $6,600 FanDuel salary is $3,100 below the positional maximum

PFF’s OL/DL matchup chart gives Green Bay a 28.0% pass-blocking matchup advantage rating, No. 3 on the week. Among 32 NFL quarterbacks with at least 75 pressure-free dropbacks, Green Bay quarterback Jordan Love’s (61.0 PFF passing grade) 4.5% big-time-throw rate ranks No. 11 and his 42.7% past-the-sticks throwing rate ranks No. 7.

FanDuel implies Green Bay will score a fantasy-friendly 23.25 points.

Watson operates as Green Bay’s offensive focal point despite his recent physical limitations. Among 96 NFL wide receivers with at least 25 first-read-target receiving snaps and 10 first-read targets, Watson’s 40.0% first-read target rate trails only Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp (89.8 PFF receiving grade).

Watson’s receiving data among 107 NFL wide receivers with at least 45 receiving snaps and 10 targets:
NFL WR Receiving Christian Watson
PFF Receiving Grade 61.7 (No. 63)
Target % – YPRR 22.4% (No. 33) – 2.37 (No. 16)
aDot – Yards/Reception 20.6 (No. 3) – 23.2 (No. 2)
Yards After Catch/Reception 11.4 (No. 1)
15+-Yard Pass Plays % 40.0% (T-No. 26)
20+-Yard aDot % 36.4% (No. 8)

Denver head coach Sean Payton frequently assigns No. 1 cornerback Pat Surtain II (66.1 PFF coverage grade) shadow coverage on opposing No. 1 wide receivers, but Denver’s overall defensive ineptitude proves too much for Surtain II to overcome — three of Surtain II’s four shadowed wide receivers averaged more than 2.25 yards per route run (YPRR) against Denver.

Watson is a half-PPR WR1.

QB Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs vs. Los Angeles Chargers – $9,200

Mahomes (78.8 PFF passing grade) is a Week 7 leverage play in cash games and GPP tournaments. He bears a 9.7% expected rostership rate in PFF’s ownership projections, just the sixth-highest at the position, and his $9,200 FanDuel salary is only $200 ahead of the field. Mahomes is an elite QB1 playing in FanDuel’s second-highest totaled game at 47.5 points against Los Angeles’ accommodating secondary.

FanDuel implies Kansas City to score 26.5 points.

PFF’s OL/DL matchup chart gives Kansas City a 24.0% pass-blocking matchup advantage rating, No. 5 on the week.

Mahomes should be stacked with both tight end Travis Kelce (83.1 PFF offense grade) and wide receiver Rashee Rice (81.0 PFF receiving grade), whose exciting Week 7 opportunity is detailed in WR/CB Matchups to Target and Avoid.

Since returning Kelce (hyperextended knee/bone bruise) to the lineup in Week 2, Mahomes ranks No. 5 in adjusted completion rate (79.9%) and No. 12 in yards per passing attempt (7.3) among 32 NFL quarterbacks with at least 75 dropbacks.

Los Angeles’ secondary ranks No. 28 in yards allowed per coverage snap (5.22) and No. 30 in explosive pass plays allowed rate (12.2%). All three starting cornerbacks allow at least 1.35 yards allowed per coverage. The unit is lowlighted by No. 2 perimeter cornerback Michael Davis (41.2 PFF coverage grade) whose 1.80 yards allowed per coverage and seven explosive pass plays allowed both tie for the eight-highest among 66 NFL perimeter cornerbacks with at least 66 perimeter-coverage snaps.

Los Angeles safety Alohi Gilman (70.8 PFF coverage grade) evidently suffered a Week 6-practice toe injury after rehabilitating a multi-week heel injury. He is unlikely to play, reducing Los Angeles’ ability to stymie Mahomes’ downfield passing.

Mahomes is a high-end QB1.

TE Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs vs. Los Angeles Chargers – $8,500 on FanDuel

Kelce (89.1 PFF receiving grade) faces a Los Angeles defense surrendering a 17.9% explosive pass plays allowed rate to opposing tight ends, the fifth-highest in the league. Kelce has finished as a top-three half-PPR tight end in three-of-four 2021 and 2022 games against them, twice clearing 30.0 half-PPR points. He is a safe option for both cash games and GPP tournaments.

Kelce’s 16.3% expected rostership rate leads PFF’s tight end ownership projections by 3.4%.

PFF’s TE matchup chart gives Kelce a 50.0% receiving matchup advantage rating over Los Angeles linebacker Eric Kendricks (58.4 PFF coverage grade), although teammate Kenneth Murray Jr. (54.9 PFF coverage grade) maintains a slight tight end-coverage-snap edge following Kendricks’ return from an early-season hamstring strain. Among 41 NFL linebackers with at least 25 tight end-coverage snaps, Murray Jr. ranks outside the top 25 in catch rate allowed (83.3%, No. 26), yards allowed per coverage snap (2.00, No. 32) and explosive pass plays allowed rate (7.1%, No. 37).

Kelce’s receiving data when facing Los Angeles in 2021 and 2022:
TE Travis Kelce vs. LAC Rec./Tgt. – Yards – TD Half-PPR Points (Rank)
Week 2, 2022 5/7 – 51 – 0 7.6 (TE15)
Week 11, 2022 6/10 – 115 – 3 32.5 (TE1)
Week 3, 2021 7/11 – 104 – 0 13.9 (TE3)
Week 15, 2021 10/13 – 191 – 2 36.1 (TE1)

Los Angeles’ two-time first-team All-Pro safety Derwin James Jr. (60.9 PFF coverage grade) was active for all four contests. Kelce has caught two-of-four targets for 23 receiving yards and one touchdown on 17 total primary coverage snaps against James Jr.

Kelce remains the NFL’s most prominently featured tight end. His 39.0% first-read target rate ranks No. 1 among 31 NFL tight ends with at least 75 such receiving snaps and is the only per-route first-read target rate to clear 27.0%. Among 33 NFL tight ends with at least 100 receiving snaps, Kelce’s 2.40 YPRR is the only per-route yardage rate to clear 2.00.

He is a slate-breaking half-PPR TE1.

WR Wan’Dale Robinson, New York Giants vs. Washington Commanders – $5,600 on FanDuel

Robinson (67.5 PFF receiving grade) has quietly assumed No. 1 pass catcher duties since returning from ACL reconstruction, earning a team-high 29.6% first-read target rate in Weeks 3-6. FanDuel users should primarily use Robinson as a GPP-tournament leverage play, but his $5,600 salary and 6.5% expected rostership rate also allow easy cash game lineup configurations. Washington’s secondary is on slippery footing following first-round rookie cornerback Emmanuel Forbes’ (43.8 PFF coverage grade) Week 6 benching and No. 1 cornerback Kendall Fuller’s (82.9 PFF coverage grade) Week 6 knee injury.

The uncertainty around New York quarterback Daniel Jones’ (58.9 PFF passing grade) neck injury could further depress Robinson’s FanDuel usage but the shifty route runner will have a featured role no matter who is under center.

Robinson logged a season-high 25.7% pre-snap alignment perimeter rate in Week 6, producing a 75.0% first-read target rate when lined up wide-right. He caught three-of-three such passes for 28 receiving yards (7.00 YPRR), signalling featured usage whenever Robinson leaves the slot. The usage excitingly gives Robinson access to Washington’s recent slot-to-defensive-left cornerback convert Benjamin St. Juste (51.6 PFF perimeter-coverage grade) and fill-in slot defensive back/special teams player Danny Johnson (56.1 PFF slot-coverage grade).

PFF’s WR/CB matchup chart gives Robinson a good 79.7 receiving matchup advantage rating over Johnson.

Among 82 NFL perimeter cornerbacks with at least 35 perimeter wide receiver-coverage snaps, St. Juste’s 5.29 yards allowed per coverage snap and 17.1% explosive pass plays allowed rate both rank dead last. His 80.0% catch rate allowed ties for No. 78.

Robinson’s 3.4-yard average depth of target makes him the ideal player to help negate New York’s -52.0% pass-blocking matchup advantage rating, the second-worst on the week in PFF’s OL/DL matchup chart.

Robinson is startable as a borderline half-PPR WR2/3 with high-volume upside.

RB Kenneth Walker III, Seattle Seahawks vs. Arizona Cardinals – $8,800

Walker (75.4 PFF offense grade) has Week 7 overall RB1 potential against Arizona’s saloon-door run defense. He should be a featured player in both cash-game and GPP-tournament lineups.

Walker III’s positional competition is thin, with five top-24 half-PPR running backs on bye. His $8,800 FanDuel salary is $600 short of the positional maximum and his 17.7% expected rostership rate ranks No. 4 among running backs in PFF’s ownership projections.

Seattle is a 7.5-point FanDuel home favorite signalling a run-heavy game script for Seattle’s offense. Walker III’s rushing volume is likewise reinforced by No. 2 running back Zach Charbonnet’s (75.6 PFF offense grade, hamstring strain) likely absence.

PFF’s OL/DL matchup chart gives Seattle a 16.0% run-blocking matchup advantage rating, No. 2 on the week.

Walker III’s tackle-breaking ability will play a key role in his Week 7 successes.

Walker III’s rushing data among 33 NFL running backs with at least 50 rushing attempts:
NFL RB Rushing Kenneth Walker III
PFF Rushing Grade 78.4 (No. 12)
YPC 4.2 (No. 14)
Missed Tackles Forced – MTF/Rush Att. 25 (T-No. 3) – 0.3 (No. 3)
Yards After Contact/Rush Att. 3.3 (No. 9)
1st-Down and/or TD-Gained % 25.3% (No. 11)
10+-Yard Run Plays 9 (No. 8)

Walker III adds a 100.0% catch rate, No. 1 among 36 NFL running backs with at least 75 receiving snaps, and 1.23 YPRR, tying for No. 9.

Arizona’s run-defense data among NFL teams:
NFL Team Run Defense Arizona Cardinals
PFF Run-Defense Grade 51.1 (No. 29)
Average Depth of Tackle 4.42 (No. 26)
Tackles For Loss/No Gain 19 (T-No. 28)
Missed Tackles 27 (T-No. 22)

Walker III is an elite FanDuel RB1.


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