Fantasy Football: Sleeper tight end options to start in Week 7

2T2996H Cleveland Browns tight end David Njoku (85) carries during an NFL football game against the San Francisco 49ers, Sunday, Oct. 15, 2023, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

• Can David Njoku finally break out?: Njoku was one of the popular late-round tight ends in the offseason, but we’re still waiting on the sliding doors moment. Will it come this week?

Michael Mayer is looking to stay hot: The rookie tight end has two big back-to-back performances and is looking for a third against a vulnerable Chicago Bears defense.

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

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Week 6 was a disaster for our sleeper tight ends. The quartet of Logan Thomas, Tyler Higbee, Jake Ferguson, and Jonnu Smith averaged a meager 5.27 fantasy points last week, with Smith the only saving grace picking up 13.60 fantasy points. Let’s right the wrong this week. 

However, rebounding is going to be tough. According to our matchup tool, only six tight ends have matchup advantages in Week 7 – and only three of them have at least a 10% advantage. Even then, two of those players are George Kittle and Travis Kelce. Not exactly names that meet the sleeper requirements. So, we’ll dig a little deeper this week.

WR:CB Matchup Chart

Noah Fant, Seattle Seahawks

Opponent: Arizona Cardinals

Let’s kick it off with the second-biggest matchup advantage of the week and talk about Fant. The Seahawks tight end had been a pretty solid sleeper option from Week 2 until the team's Week 5 bye, averaging a sturdy 8.66 fantasy points per game. Nonetheless, a goose egg in Week 1 combined with a one-catch, nine-yard outing against the Cincinnati Bengals has Fant sitting as the TE32 in PPR. 

That makes him a little hard to trust, but Fant has an excellent opportunity to get back on the horse in Week 7 because the Seahawks take on the Arizona Cardinals. Per our Week 7 matchup tool, Fant has a 42% matchup advantage against his likely primary defender Josh Woods. Fant’s 78.7 receiving grade is fourth-best among all tight ends too. So, he is playing well, the opportunities have just been a little slim in two outings.

Fant is an even more compelling option because of his ability to create yards after the catch. Fant currently leads all tight ends with 7.8 yards after the catch per reception, and his athleticism means he’s always a threat to tack on some extra fantasy points. That could be the difference between another slow week and a solid week for Fant owners.

Michael Mayer, Las Vegas Raiders

Opponent: Chicago Bears 

It’s about time, right? Mayer was one of the most highly sought-after tight end prospects in the last few years coming out of college, but his NFL experience got off to a slow start compared to Sam LaPorta and even Dalton Kincaid. Mayer earned just two targets in his first four NFL games and posted a 50.25 average grade. Not great. 

The last two weeks have been an improvement, though. Mayer’s overall participation in the offense has increased, as he played 99 snaps in Weeks 5 and 6 compared to just 116 snaps over the first four weeks of the season. Naturally, that led to Mayer running more routes and becoming a bigger factor in the receiving game, which culminated in a big Week 6 with five catches for 75 yards leading to 12.50 fantasy points.

Mayer has a tight matchup in Week 7 against the Chicago Bears and Tremaine Edmunds. Per our matchup calculator, Edmunds has a 7% advantage against Mayer, but that shouldn’t dissuade fantasy owners. The Bears are allowing an average of 13.87 fantasy points per contest to tight ends, the eighth-most this season. 

David Njoku, Cleveland Browns 

Opponent: Indianapolis Colts

Njoku was a popular sleeper favorite in fantasy drafts over the summer. A real breakout season for him has been impending for the longest time, and despite a couple of solid games this season, we’re still waiting. Njoku is the TE22 after five games and has eclipsed 10 fantasy points just once this season —Week 4 against the Baltimore Ravensand hasn’t cracked 50 receiving yards.

The issue has been the Brown's lack of offensive consistency. They’re 30th in EPA per play and 22nd in +EPA%, which equates to an offense that struggles to create explosive plays and consistent plays. However, they’re taking on an average Colts defense in Week 7. It’s also a defense that is allowing 13.42 fantasy points per contest to tight ends.

That’ll benefit Njoku, but it’s still going to be a tough matchup for the 27-year-old tight end. Per our matchup tool, Njoku has a 16% matchup disadvantage against his likely primary defender Zaire Franklin. However, Franklin is allowing 0.24 fantasy points per route this season. Even if P.J. Walker is the starter again, Njoku is worth taking a shot on this week.

Luke Musgrave, Green Bay Packers

Opponent: Denver Broncos 

Our final choice of the week is Musgrave. The Packers' second-round pick has had three strong performances with two below-average ones sandwiched in between. The last time we saw Musgrave, before the bye, he caught six of his seven targets for 34 yards and scored 9.40 fantasy points.

He’s still yet to score his first career touchdown, but if there were any game to bank on it happening, this would be the game. The Packers take on the Denver Broncos in Week 7, and everything points to a big offensive performance. The Broncos defense is dead last in yards allowed, points allowed and EPA per play. This is a historically bad unit. 

Despite that, our matchup tool projects Musgrave to have a 10% matchup disadvantage against Josey Jewell, his likely primary defender. Fantasy owners in search of a decent sleeper choice this week should still be all over Musgrave. The Broncos are allowing more fantasy points to tight ends than any other team in the NFL. The Packers will also be looking to return to work after the bye week. This could be Musgrave’s big week.


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