News & Analysis

Sunday morning fantasy football decisions: Rankings, start/sit, sleepers, and busts for Week 7

(Each week, the Sunday Study Session will feature a quick-hit look at our top fantasy football advice of the week to help you prepare for that week’s fantasy slate, as well as links to our full writeups. For last-minute research and prep, this is the place.)

A lot of what we discuss in this space is fantasy football in the macro sense, but some of the smallest decisions can make a huge difference. Lineup construction, especially the flex spot, can go a long way.

Ideally, the guys you want to start on Thursday stay healthy and are active on Sunday or Monday and it doesn’t really matter. But let’s say, just as a for instance, that you had Phillip Lindsay in your flex spot Thursday night and David Johnson as one of your starting running backs. Suddenly, Johnson is questionable for Sunday. Do you have a backup running back? Maybe your backup wide receiver would be better, but you already burned your flex spot.

It’s a small thing, but it’s still important: Especially for Thursday players, but really for anyone in your lineup, put players who play early in their locked-in lineup spots. Don’t burn your flex spot until you absolutely have to. Ideally, it’s never going to matter, but it could, and there’s no sense in handcuffing yourself for no reason.

On to the Week 7 advice.

Season-long league advice

These are the pieces that will help you build your roster and set your lineup each week. On Tuesday, Jeff Ratcliffe breaks down the best waiver claims of the week, while Scott Barrett breaks down the streaming defense candidates and Lee Sifford picks out streaming quarterbacks. Daniel Kelley looks at the players worth dropping. Wednesday is Jeff’s top 150 flex rankings, Daniel’s peek at the best and worst matchups of the week, and Scott’s Expected Fantasy Points metric. There’s also the indispensable trade value chart. Thursday, Daniel returns with his weekly sleepers and busts, while Scott Barrett breaks down the key start and the sits of the week. And finally, Jeff is back Friday with his weekly focus, taking a full look at the whole weekly slate from every angle.

Previewing the weekend in fantasy

For most of these pieces, we’ll pull a blurb to highlight and offer up a key takeaway. For this piece, though? It’s worth a full read. Beginning to end, Jeff brings the crucial info.

A snapshot of the flex rankings

9. David Johnson, ARI @ NYG (RB7) — Johnson hasn’t been the most efficient back this season, but his healthy workload keeps him locked in as a mid-range RB1.
10. DeAndre Hopkins, HOU @ IND (WR2) — He may not have had the biggest fantasy day last week, but Hopkins did rack up 12 targets.
11. Cooper Kupp, LAR @ ATL (WR3) — Look for the entire Rams offense to bounce back in a plus matchup against the Falcons this week.
12. Le’Veon Bell, NYJ vs NE (RB8) — Bell won’t have a lot of room to operate as a runner in this one, but his role in the passing game bodes well for volume.

Two starts, two sits

START John Brown in medium-sized leagues: 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.
START Auden Tate in deep leagues: 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.
SIT David Montgomery in shallow leagues: 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).
SIT Adrian Peterson in medium-sized leagues: 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.

Sleepers and busts for the week

SLEEPER: Anthony Miller: Miller has seen his playing time and involvement in the passing game gradually increase this season, peaking with Week 5’s 7 targets, 52 yards, and 76.8% snaps played.
BUST: Darren Waller: Tight ends to reach double-digit PPR points against the Packers: One. Tight ends to score a touchdown against the Packers: One. (And those weren’t even the same guy.) Waller still has elite yardage upside, but until the team puts him in more scoring situations (just 3 red-zone targets so far, no end-zone targets), he has a lower upside than you want out of your upper-level tight ends.

The best and worst matchups of the week

BEST: Jacoby Brissett: The Texans have allowed 20-plus fantasy points to four of the six quarterbacks they have faced, including a 36-point outing to Matt Ryan in Week 5. Brissett is a relatively surprising top-12 in fantasy points per game and per dropback so far this year, coming off a bye, and getting his weapons back healthy.
WORST: Aaron Jones: The only running back to top 12 PPR points against the Raiders this year was Dalvin Cook back in Week 3. No one else has reached even 60 rushing yards, and other than that game, David Montgomery’s Week 5 touchdown is the only touchdown running backs have scored against the Raiders.

Waiver claims to make

ADD Jamison Crowder in shallow leagues: The volume picked right back up for Crowder with Sam Darnold back. He doesn’t offer a high ceiling but will see plenty of targets going forward.
ADD DeSean Jackson in medium-sized leagues: It looks like Jackson is nearing a return. He’s worth stashing if he’s out there on your waiver wire.
ADD Ricky Seals-Jones in deep leagues: Baker Mayfield seems to have a good connection with Seals-Jones, who flashed upside for the Browns last week.

Players to drop

Baker Mayfield: Because he scored a rushing touchdown, Week 6 was Mayfield’s best fantasy day of the season … and it featured three interceptions, his third game of the season with two more picks than touchdown passes.
Giovani Bernard: Bernard got 63 yards in Week 1. Since then, he has 94 yards total. He hasn’t scored yet this year. He’s a lightly used backup in a bad offense.

DST streamers

Green Bay Packers: Green Bay’s defense hasn’t been as productive in recent weeks, but they still rank eighth in fantasy points per game (8.8) and ninth in points allowed per game (19.2). More impressively, they simultaneously rank fifth-best in passer rating allowed (77.0) and second-best in pressure rate over expectation.

QB streamers

Kirk Cousins: After torching the Eagles last week, Cousins should be a popular name on the waiver wire this week. With what should be a close divisional matchup in tow, Cousins makes for a great streaming quarterback option in Week 7. Our projections currently have Cousins finishing the week as the 10th-highest-scoring quarterback with 18.9 points.

Expected Fantasy Points

Kerryon Johnson: Golladay is quietly a WR1 on Detroit, but, even more quietly, Johnson should also be valued as a RB1. Through the first two weeks of the season, before the release of C.J. Anderson, Johnson averaged just 10.0 XFP per game with a 53% positional market share. Over the last four weeks, Johnson ranks third among running backs in XFP per game (19.7), with a 77% market share.

Player prop bets (from BetMGM)

Case Keenum UNDER 250.5 passing yards: Sure, you aren’t getting the best odds here, but this is an easy under with Keenum going up against a pretty good 49ers defense that currently grades out as the No. 2 unit in coverage and No. 3 passing rush.

DFS advice

Scott Barrett’s DFS Focus piece will highlight all the key daily fantasy tips and tricks from one of the industry’s best, but that isn’t all, as our team tackles the main DFS slate from every angle.

DFS weekly preview

CHALK: Leonard Fournette: Short and sweet: Fournette draws the most favorable matchup to RBs this week and has been a workhorse for the Jaguars all year.

DFS facts to know

Ravens vs. Seahawks: We were all over Chris Carson for his smash performance last week and with Rashaad Penny banged up, Carson still has the backfield all to himself. We will go right back to the well in a matchup against a vulnerable Baltimore defense that is living on reputation more than production, allowing 2.2 rushing yards before contact per attempt (third-most).

Bargains

Devin Singletary, RB, Buffalo Bills: Singletary is expected back this week and should be considered a DFS steal. His cost is very low for a guy who has averaged 12-plus PPR points per game in his two games prior to injury. Singletary faces the second-best matchup as the Dolphins are allowing 32.7 points per game to running backs.
Gerald Everett, TE, Los Angeles Rams: This continues to be a tough position to find value, but Everett gives you a good shot this weekend. Following a two-week stretch where he totaled 12 receptions for 180 yards and a touchdown, he crashed back down to earth last weekend. His price remains low, we’ve seen what his ceiling can be, and he has the second-best matchup advantage at tight end this weekend.

Locks

Kenny Golladay, WR, Detroit Lions: Golladay leads the league in end-zone targets (8) and is tied for the league-lead in red-zone targets (16) despite already having had his bye. His usage has been WR1-worthy, while his DFS salary has not kept pace, especially on DraftKings, where he’s only 18th among receivers in salary.
Jordan Akins/Darren Fells, TE, Houston Texans: In DFS tournaments, whenever possible, paying down at tight end is advisable, given the flexibility that allows you at other positions. The problem is, tight end is generally so shallow that it’s hard to find options that low. Fells (on DraftKings) and Akins (on both sites) fit the bill, though, with five combined touchdowns over the last month.

Fades

Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers: Rodgers is at $6,400 on DraftKings this week, giving him a 3x of 19.2 fantasy points … a mark he’s hit only twice this year (including one by the skin of his teeth) and five times in his last 16 games. Rodgers doesn’t offer the upside he once did.
Tyler Lockett, WR, Seattle Seahawks: In Weeks 1-3, the Ravens allowed 41.6 PPR points per game to receivers, and that even included a game against the Dolphins. In Weeks 4-6, that average dropped to 32.0. Marlon Humphrey has shadowed in each of his last four games, per our PFF shadow coverage matrix, and allowed a combined 80 yards.

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