News & Analysis

Week 7 fantasy football start 'em or sit 'em

Nov 5, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; Indianapolis Colts wide receiver T.Y. Hilton (13) celebrates his touchdown during the first quarter against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Shanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports

With another week behind us, and some more fresh stats to analyze, I’m here to help you with your toughest fantasy football start/sit decisions of the week for Week 7.

Note: If you don’t see one of your players mentioned below, please refer to our PFF Fantasy staff rankings.

Shallow leagues

Start

Evan Engram, TE, New York Giants (vs. ARI)

This one couldn’t be any easier — Engram is your No. 1 no-brainer must-start play of the week. He leads all tight ends in expected fantasy points per game (15.6) and targets per game (9.6), and ranks third in fantasy points per game (16.6). Meanwhile, Arizona has given up the most fantasy points per game to opposing tight ends — a staggering 24.7, 6.6 more than the next-closest defense, and more than twice as much as the league average rate. There are only seven instances of a tight end reaching at least 25.0 fantasy points in any game this year, and Arizona has been responsible for four of them. Engram should be the next tight end to join that list.

Josh Allen, QB, Buffalo Bills (vs. MIA)

Allen averages 24.8 fantasy points per game across his last 11 games. For perspective, Patrick Mahomes averages 23.8 over that same span. If we exclude Allen’s two games against New England over this stretch, he’s hit at least 19.0 fantasy points each week, averaging 27.0 fantasy points per game. He’s also especially beat up on bad defenses throughout his career, averaging 29.2 fantasy points per game across five career games against bottom-10 fantasy defenses. In all other games, he averages just 16.5 fantasy points per game. This week, he gets a matchup that couldn’t be any better, especially for him. Miami ranks dead-last in fantasy points allowed per dropback, opposing passer rating, and pressure rate.

Leonard Fournette, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars (@ CIN)

Among running backs, Fournette ranks second in snaps (365), third in carries (115), and sixth in targets (35). He ranks second among all players in XFP per game (18.7), but just ninth in actual fantasy points per game (18.2). This is partly due to a tough schedule to start the year, and with unideal gamescript, but that should begin to change, and starting with this week’s matchup against the Bengals. Cincinnati has allowed the most fantasy points per game to opposing running backs, and by a wide margin (47% more than the league average rate). They rank third-worst in yards allowed per carry (5.06), and second-worst in both rushing and receiving fantasy points allowed. As 3.0-point favorites in a dream matchup, Fournette should be valued as a top-three option this week.

T.Y. Hilton, WR, Indianapolis Colts (vs. HOU)

Hilton comes out of the bye fully healthy and ranking eighth in fantasy points per game (17.8). In 15 career games against Houston, Hilton averages a staggering 103.2 yards and 19.6 fantasy points per game. The odds look good for a similar type of performance this week. Houston is giving up the second-most fantasy points to right wide receivers and the second-most fantasy points to wide receivers on short passes. That’s ideal for Hilton, who primarily lines up to Jacoby Brissett’s right and has scored 63% of his fantasy points on short passes.

Julian Edelman, WR, New England Patriots (@ NYJ)

Quietly, Edelman is seeing high-end WR1 volume, ranking fifth among wide receivers in XFP per game (16.9). With Rex Burkhead, Josh Gordon, and Phillip Dorsett all banged up, volume should be good again this week, and given the matchup, he should be able to do a lot with it. The Jets rank bottom-seven in schedule-adjusted fantasy points per game allowed to WR1s. They rank bottom-seven in fantasy points per game allowed to wide receivers on short passes. And they rank bottom-10 in fantasy points per game allowed to slot wide receivers. When Edelman played the Jets in Week 3, he saw 10 targets and totaled 19.2 fantasy points, and in just two quarters of action (before exiting with an injury).

Sit

Robby Anderson, WR, New York Jets (vs. NE)

Everything about this matchup is brutal for Anderson. New England’s secondary has seen the most deep passes this year, but they’ve allowed the fifth-fewest fantasy points on deep passes. Keep in mind, 44% of Anderson’s fantasy points have come on deep passes. Per our WR/CB matchup chart, Anderson will also draw shadow coverage from potentially the league’s best cornerback — Stephon Gilmore. Gilmore has helped hold Anderson under 25 yards in each of their last four meetings. He’s an easy bench this week.

Kirk Cousins, QB, Minnesota Vikings (@ DET)

Through the first four weeks of the season, Cousins averaged 11.3 fantasy points per game. Over the last two weeks, he averages 24.4 fantasy points per game. This week, against the Lions, I’d expect a performance closer in line to what we saw from him to start the season. Detroit ranks 12th-best in schedule-adjusted fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks, but they rank eighth-worst in yards allowed per carry. This smells like another Dalvin Cook game.

David Montgomery, RB, Chicago Bears (vs. NO)

If Montgomery couldn’t get it done against Washington or Oakland, there’s little reason to think he can do much of anything this week. Montgomery ranks just 37th in fantasy points per game (10.1), and third-worst in yards per carry (3.26). Meanwhile, for the second-straight season, the Saints rank top-six in fantasy points per game allowed to opposing running backs.

Medium-sized leagues

Start

Michael Gallup, WR, Dallas Cowboys (vs. PHI)

Gallup currently ranks 11th in XFP per game (15.2) and 12th in fantasy points per game (17.2). For the third consecutive season, Philadelphia is giving up the most fantasy points per game to outside wide receivers, and this time by a whopping 30% more than the next-closest team. On top of that, they’re also giving up the most schedule-adjusted fantasy points per game to opposing WR2s. Don’t over-think this one. Regardless of whether Amari Cooper plays, Gallup is an easy must-start.

Tevin Coleman, RB, San Francisco 49ers (@ WAS)

Last week, in a three-way committee, Coleman was granted 18 of 35 carries, three of seven targets, 16 of 29 routes, and all eight of the team’s running back opportunities inside the 20-yard line. As a percentage it’s not that impressive, but in terms of raw volume, he ranked behind only Ezekiel Elliott in XFP (24.2). He should see similarly good volume, and even better production this week — San Francisco is favored by 10.0, and Washington is giving up the third-most schedule-adjusted fantasy points per game to opposing running backs. I’d start Coleman as a high-end RB2.

D.J. Chark, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars (@ CIN)

Chark flopped in a tough matchup last week but still ranks fifth in fantasy points per game (18.8). I have some reservations with Chark long-term — he ranks just 29th in XFP per game (12.8) — but he’s an easy must-start this week, against a Cincinnati defense that will be without its two starting perimeter cornerbacks.

Mark Andrews, TE, Baltimore Ravens (@ SEA)

Although Engram is the clear No. 1 tight end play of the week, Andrews isn’t too far behind. Despite battling injuries, Andrews has seen between seven and nine targets in all six games this year. This week he gets a Seattle defense that’s given up the second-most schedule-adjusted fantasy points per game to opposing tight ends.

John Brown, WR, Buffalo Bills (vs. MIA)

Brown ranks 28th in fantasy points per game (14.7) but is seeing low-end WR1 volume, ranking 11th in XFP per game (15.2) and fifth in air yards per game (121.2). He has an ideal matchup this week, against a Miami defense that is giving up the second-most fantasy points per game to wide receivers on deep passes, while also ranking fourth-worst in schedule-adjusted fantasy points per game allowed to opposing WR1s. Even if Xavien Howard plays, I wouldn't be worried — he runs a 4.58-second 40 (compared to Brown’s 4.34) and ranks fourth worst of all starting cornerbacks in fantasy points allowed per route in coverage (0.37).

Sit

Sam Darnold, QB, New York Jets (vs. NE)

Throughout his 15-game career, Darnold averages 18.8 fantasy points per game at home, only 9.6 on the road. And, well, he's at home this week. That’s the good news, which is still vastly outweighed by the bad. New England is giving up a league-best 5.5 fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks. Their 42.6 opposing passer rating leads the league and would be the best mark in over 15 years.

Corey Davis, WR, Tennessee Titans (vs. LAC)

With a new quarterback under center, things are looking up for Davis long-term. But not in the short-term. We’re expecting Casey Hayward — our No. 1 graded cornerback since 2017 — to shadow Davis this week. Davis was held to just 10 yards on seven targets when these two teams faced off last year. This season, Hayward has held Marvin Jones, DeAndre Hopkins, and Courtland Sutton to a combined 3.2 fantasy points.

Adrian Peterson, RB, Washington Redskins (vs. SF)

In a perfect Week 6 matchup, Peterson turned 25 touches into 136 yards. This week, he gets a worst possible matchup, as 10-point underdogs against a 49ers defense that has given up the fewest fantasy points per game to opposing running backs.

Deep leagues

Start

Jamison Crowder, WR, New York Jets (vs. NE)

In each of Darnold's two starts, Crowder led the team in XFP. He averages 18.8 XFP in these games, which, for perspective, would lead the position. Although he’s seeing terrific volume, he still has a brutal on-paper matchup against a Patriots defense that has given up the second-fewest fantasy points per game to enemy wide receivers. It’s true that the Patriots are a tough matchup on the whole, but they’re most vulnerable to slot wide receivers. In terms of fantasy points, 32% of the receiving production they’ve allowed has gone to slot wide receivers, which ranks third-most among all defenses. Expect heavy volume for Crowder again this week, and enough to make him worthy of a start as a mid-range WR3.

Frank Gore, RB, Buffalo Bills (vs. MIA)

In typical Gore fashion, he hasn't done much to write home about, but he has been dependable, recording at least 16 touches and 65 yards in each of his last four games. In a dream matchup this week, he should be started as a borderline-RB2. The Dolphins are giving up the most rushing fantasy points per game to opposing running backs (21.0), along with 4.81 yards per carry (sixth-most). Gore is also the team’s primary goal-line back — handling all six of the team’s running back opportunities inside the 5-yard line — which should come in handy this week. Buffalo has an implied point total of 28.5, tied for most on the week, and their highest since 2000. Favored by 17.0, we also shouldn’t see too much of scatback Devin Singletary.

Daniel Jones, QB, New York Giants (vs. ARI)

If looking for a Week 7 streamer, consider Jones, who jumps from QB27 in my rankings last week to QB12 this week. After back-to-back tough matchups, Jones gets a near-perfect matchup this week, and this time with at least some of Evan Engram, Sterling Shepard, and Saquon Barkley on the field. Arizona is giving up the most fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks, while also ranking second-worst in opposing passer rating (121.8).

Auden Tate, WR, Cincinnati Bengals (vs. JAX)

Tate has scored at least 11.0 fantasy points in three of his last four games. Over this span, Tate totals 55.5 XFP (13.9 per game), which ranks ninth-most among all wide receivers and just 4.3 XFP behind Tyler Boyd. Boyd gets another tough matchup this week, against a Jaguars defense that has ranked top-10 in fantasy points per game allowed to slot wide receivers in each of the last three seasons. This should help funnel more work towards Tate, like it did last week, to the tune of 12 targets and 91 yards. With A.J. Green still out, consider Tate a borderline WR3 against the Jalen Ramsey-less Jaguars.

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