News & Analysis

Fantasy Football Week 7 Recap: Davante Adams and Tyler Lockett erupt; Justin Herbert QB1

Oct 25, 2020; Inglewood, California, USA; Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert (10) throws against the Jacksonville Jaguars during the first half at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Week 7 of the NFL season is nearly complete, with just one, single Monday Night Football game remaining (I miss the double-headers as well). But the 12 games from Sunday's slate have already provided us with enough new information (and injuries) to start considering fantasy football action items as we head into Week 8.

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Keep in mind that scheduled bye weeks continue this week with the Arizona Cardinals, Houston Texans, Jacksonville Jaguars and Washington Football Team all taking a rest. 

Let’s dive into Sunday's action with an eye toward improving next week. I'll hit on snap counts, routes run, goal-line usage, targets and target shares to make sure we're ready to roll as waiver deadlines approach on Wednesday and Week 8 sit/start decisions loom. Consider this an introductory course to finding the edge in Week 8.

GREEN BAY PACKERS @ HOUSTON TEXANS

Welcome back, Davante Adams! The Green Bay Packers’ WR1 went nuclear after a down week against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He posted a career-high 196 receiving yards on 13 receptions. 

Aaron Rodgers also enjoyed a bounce-back performance, throwing for 283 yards and four touchdowns. Jamaal Williams filled in admirably for the injured Aaron Jones, finishing his day with 23 touches for over 110 yards from scrimmage and a score on the ground. 

Despite the encouraging “coach speak” about A.J. Dillon being able to shoulder a heavier workload, the rookie saw only five carries for 11 yards. 

Marquez Valdes-Scantling saw only two targets and has been too inconsistent to trust moving forward, even in great matchups. He has four dropped passes this season, which leads the Packers.

This was a potentially blow-up spot for David Johnson, but the running back wasn't able to muster much fantasy production. Johnson is still seeing 18-plus touches per game, but his explosiveness and upside just aren’t there to provide any kind of week-winning upside. 

Will Fuller was bailed out on a late garbage-time touchdown to salvage his fantasy day, but his poor performance overall can be chalked up to the matchup with Jaire Alexander, who has been one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL this season. 

DALLAS COWBOYS @ WASHINGTON FOOTBALL TEAM

Well, this was hardly a game worth watching, to be honest. The Dallas Cowboys’ offensive woes continued with Andy Dalton under center and their offensive line was outmatched against Washington's defensive line. 

In the Week 7 mailbag, I was asked about how to view the Dallas offense moving forward. Basically, my response was that every player needs to be downgraded. We saw that play out in Week 7, with Amari Cooper posting a WR2 performance and every other player essentially failing to contribute in any way. 

The Philadelphia Eagles and Pittsburgh Steelers are the next two teams that Dallas faces — outside Ezekiel Elliott and Cooper, all Cowboys need to be benched. 

Elliott managers should also welcome trade offers, because this situation doesn’t seem like it’s going to improve any time soon. Per PFF’s strength of schedule tool, Dallas has the most difficult schedule left for fantasy running backs. 

Terry McLaurin got it done against an atrocious Dallas Cowboys’ secondary. Had it not been for a catch just short of the goal line, McLaurin’s touchdowns would have been #twiceasnice. 

Still, nobody is going to complain about seven receptions for 90 yards and one touchdown on 11 targets.

I was high on rookie Antonio Gibson entering this game — I expected that for the first time all season, the dynamic running back would be able to churn out yardage while the team was winning. That’s exactly how the game shook out.

Oct 25, 2020; Landover, Maryland, USA; Washington Football Team running back Antonio Gibson (24) celebrates with offensive tackle Morgan Moses (76) Washington Football Team offensive tackle Cornelius Lucas (78) after scoring a touchdown against the Dallas Cowboys during the first quarter at FedExField. Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Gibson saw a season-high in carries (20) for 128 rushing yards and posted a PFF rushing grade of (90.2) — by far his highest grade of the year.

The only concern with Gibson was that he zeroed in the passing game (eight routes, one target) and played just one fewer snap than J.D. McKissic. But the touches are what matters the most, and Gibson dominated the veteran in that capacity (20 vs. 7.)

Peyton Barber also had 10 carries — for an underwhelming 34 yards — but that’s only because of the game script. 

The Washington Football Team has a bye week next and then a date with the New York Giants in Week 9. We see teams lean on their rookies more after bye weeks, so consider AG a buy-high candidate who has league-winning upside. 

BUFFALO BILLS @ NEW YORK JETS

La’Mical Perine tied Frank Gore in carries (11), but Perine led in snap share (70%), routes run (16) and targets (three). This is a clear indication that, at least for now, the Jets are willing to see what they have in their fourth-round rookie running back.

In his first NFL game, rookie Denzel Mims commanded six targets and led the team in receiving yards (42). Nothing crazy, but it’s worth monitoring because he outperformed Breshad Perriman, who figured to be the No. 1 option after last week’s eight-target game.

Still, the slot receiver in this offense seemingly always gets peppered with the targets (Braxton Berrios, eight targets), so it’s still going to be the Jamison Crowder show when he returns.

Devin Singletary kept up his end of the bargain as a “sit” call I made this week — Singletary owners need to be concerned about the recent lack of fantasy points. He barely out-snapped Zack Moss (54% to 47%), and they split touches equally at 10 apiece. 

Moss should be a popular candidate to target on the waiver wire ahead of Week 8 against the New England Patriots, who have struggled against the run as of late. 

Josh Allen’s offensive production has faltered, and one can only wonder how much this offense misses John Brown. Over the past three weeks, Allen has not surpassed 17 fantasy points, which dates back to the timing of Brown’s initial injury. 

Gabriel Davis stepped into the Brown role in three-receiver sets but saw only three targets. Allen much preferred targeting Cole Beasley and Stefon Diggs — the duo combined for 23 targets. 

CAROLINA PANTHERS @ NEW ORLEANS SAINTS

It looks like the “Mike Davis is just as good as Christian McCaffrey” take has lost its luster over the past two weeks. He has scored just under 12 fantasy points in the past two weeks but should have at least one more productive outing in him against the Atlanta Falcons in Week 8.

D.J. Moore is in prime sell-high territory after his third-straight game with 93 receiving yards. That’s because he had fewer targets than both Robby Anderson (eight) and Curtis Samuel (seven). Last week, Moore's huge 11-target game coincided with Samuel being inactive.

Samuel’s involvement lowers Moore’s weekly floor, which could be a serious detriment to his long-term fantasy outlook. Also, consider that McCaffrey is coming back — he will demand a high target share — and Anderson isn’t going away. If anything, should an Anderson owner believe Moore is the team’s true No. 1, this would be the time to target him in a trade.

The surprise of this game was the emergence of wide receiver Marquez Callaway. He led the team in targets (nine) and receiving yards (75) in the absence of Michael Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders. He did leave the game with an apparent leg injury, but he surely looks like the Saints’ wide receiver to own going forward should Thomas/Sanders remain sidelined.

It seems he may have leapfrogged Tre’Quan Smith in the target pecking order — over the Saints' past two games, Callaway has seen 14 targets versus Smith’s seven. One of those games came with Sanders in the lineup.

Jared Cook was more-or-less an afterthought in the offense but made his day with an early touchdown grab. But only four targets in a Sanders-less offense is not going to work every week. 

PITTSBURGH STEELERS @ TENNESSEE TITANS

Diontae Johnson is the No. 1 wide receiver on the Pittsburgh Steelers. At least, when he is healthy. Johnson returned to the lineup after a two-game hiatus and proceeded to have a monster day: two touchdowns, 80 receiving yards and nine catches on a whopping 15 targets. 

Johnson’s return shifted attention away from rookie Chase Claypool, who only saw one target. The silver lining remains for Claypool: He still ran more routes than James Washington — plus, Johnson exited the game with another injury. 

Oct 25, 2020; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Diontae Johnson (18) flips the ball as he scores against the Tennessee Titans during the first half at Nissan Stadium. Credit: Steve Roberts-USA TODAY Sports

Johnson has hardly been lucky when it comes to injuries, so if he misses Week 8 against Baltimore, Claypool would be a locked-and-loaded WR2. 

JuJu Smith-Schuster enjoyed a renaissance of sorts himself in Week 7, with 15 targets, nine catches and 80 yards, but this is a clear window to sell high. The matchup versus Baltimore isn’t great and we can’t expect Claypool to be as uninvolved as he was in Week 7 moving forward. 

It also took Ben Roethlisberger a season-high 49 passing attempts to get Smith-Schuster over 15 fantasy points for the first time since Week 1. 

Jonnu Smith only ran 15 routes on Sunday, which was his lowest total in a full game this season. Smith was coming off an injury, so the team could have just been easing him back into action. But this was also the first game  since Week 1 that all three of the top Titans wide receivers (A.J. Brown, Corey Davis and Adam Humphries) were healthy. 

Smith will never be a 10-plus target guy, but he'll have more productive outings ahead in better matchups weeks further removed from injury. He is an easy buy-low candidate ahead of a dream spot against the Cincinnati Bengals

CLEVELAND BROWNS @ CINCINNATI BENGALS

Odell Beckham Jr.‘s injury looks like it could potentially sideline the him for at least a few weeks. In his absence, it was Rashard “Hollywood” Higgins who stepped up in relief, hauling in all of his six targets for 110 receiving yards.

Higgins will surely be a waiver wire target, as this is not the first time we have seen him produce in a starting role with Baker Mayfield. He has two touchdown receptions since Week 5 and a career 129.4 rating generated on passes from Mayfield since 2018. 

The other noteworthy standout for the Browns was rookie tight end Harrison Bryant, who caught two touchdown passes. Bryant was announced as the starter over David Njoku before the game. and that’s how the usage played out.

Bryant played 75% of the team’s snaps (Njoku, 58%) and ran 17 routes (Njoku,12). He is the clear TE1 as long as Austin Hooper remains sidelined, which means he will be on the TE streaming radar in Week 8 when the team takes on the Las Vegas Raiders

In their last two games, the Raiders have allowed an average of 22 fantasy points to the opposing team’s top TE. 

In the absence of Joe Mixon, Giovani Bernard operated as the team’s true workhorse. He out-touched Samaje Perine (18 vs. two) and played 75% of the team’s offensive snaps. The receiving work led him to a productive fantasy outing (five receptions for 59 yards and a TD).

Tyler Boyd led Bengals receivers in targets (14), followed by A.J. Green (13) and Tee Higgins (six). Boyd continues to be the most reliable of the three receivers with his mismatches out of the slot. 

But don’t overlook Higgins amid Green’s recent resurgence. Higgins still had 100-plus air yards and came down with a receiving touchdown. Look for all three WRs to be solid volume plays along with quarterback Joe Burrow next week against the Titans. 

The Bengals rank near the top in the NFL in pass attempts per game (42 per game), and the Titans’ defense ranks near the top in passing attempts allowed (40 per game). 

DETROIT LIONS @ ATLANTA FALCONS

The time to sell high on Todd Gurley II is quickly approaching its deadline. The Atlanta Falcons’ running back buoyed his fantasy production on two touchdowns — his work as a rusher surely wasn’t getting it done. He earned an abysmal PFF rushing grade of 37.3, averaging under 3.0 yards per carry for the second straight week.

He was seldom used as a pass-catcher (two catches for 19 yards). His streak of favorable RB matchups will end after Carolina in Week 8.

Reports surfaced that the Lions planned on expanding D’Andre Swift’s role after his breakout game in Week 6. This “expanded role” led to the rookie seeing 44% of the team’s snaps and earning 13 touches. These marks were both higher than Adrian Peterson, who played just 31% of the team’s snaps and saw 12 touches. 

Kerryon Johnson saw zero touches in this game, so hopefully this will be just a two-man backfield moving forward, with Swift delivering weekly RB2 production.

JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS @ LOS ANGELES CHARGERS

Justin Herbert is a must-start QB moving forward. After averaging 27 fantasy points per game before the team’s bye week, Herbert came out and absolutely lit the Jacksonville Jaguars’ defense on fire to the tune of 38.5 fantasy points.

Keenan Allen continued his insane streak of seeing double-digit targets with Herbert under center, but it was at the expense of Mike Williams, who saw just three targets. 

Oct 25, 2020; Inglewood, California, USA; Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen (13) runs the ball against the Jacksonville Jaguars during the second half at SoFi Stadium. Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Justin Jackson was ranked ahead of Joshua Kelley by most rankers heading into Week 7, but this continues to be a 50/50 split. Kelley just edged out Jackson is snap share (46% vs. 39%), but out-touched him 17 to 10. 

Kelley’s pass-game usage is encouraging for his potential going forward — if he can see consistent work as a receiver in addition to early-down carries, he can be a reliable RB3/FLEX on most weeks. 

James Robinson needs to be shipped off now. He is coming off his best game to date, but this Jacksonville Jaguars offense is not heading in the right direction. Gardner Minshew has struggled in recent weeks, which could lead Robinson into another production lull like he had Weeks 4-6. 

Minshew’s struggles are also killing D.J. Chakr Jr. because he just can’t throw accurately. Over the past two games, Minshew’s completion percentage on passes to Chark is a meager 38.1%. 

SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS @ NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

The 49ers’ backfield never ceases to amaze me. A week after JaMycal Hasty and Jerick McKinnon were the two lead dogs, Jeff Wison Jr. got the majority of work (19 touches, 57% snaps played).

Had it not been for a high ankle-sprain injury that knocked out Wilson, he would have likely seen even more action. 

Regardless of his availability, it’s going to be tough to trust McKinnon going forward after he saw only three touches even after Wilson’s injury. Hasty finished with 10 touches, so he’s the most probable candidate to carry the load in Week 8. That’s not even factoring in the possibility Tevin Coleman returning.

The entire Patriots’ offense was put on notice after last week’s loss to the Broncos, but after a second-straight performance, there’s nobody here you can play with confidence. 

Cam Newton was benched after poor play, so I can’t imagine playing him in Week 8 until we see improvement in this offense. Damien Harris led the backfield in touches (13), so there’s a chance he could be used in a pinch against a suspect Bills run defense in Week 8.

N’Keal Harry left the game with a head injury. In his place, Jakobi Meyers injected a semblance of life in the offense. He led the team targets (six), receptions (four) and receiving yards (60). Julian Edelman also left the game, so Meyers could become a waiver-wire option solely based on opportunity. 

KANSAS CITY CHIEFS @ DENVER BRONCOS

Le’Veon Bell made his Kansas City Chiefs debut in Week 7 and played 33% of the team’s snaps. This was what we expected to see from Bell, who also saw six carries — two fewer than Clyde Edwards-Helaire.  

It’s hard to draw exact conclusions from a game in a snowstorm, but expect Bell’s role to only grow in the offense. He ran well on his limited carries (6.5 yards per attempt) and ran 11 routes, although he wasn’t targeted.

Don’t be swayed by the Mecole Hardman stat line of a team-leading 57 receiving yards — he is still playing behind Byron Pringle and Demarcus Robinson. His outlook isn’t going to improve with Sammy Watkins’ return impending. 

Drew Lock looks to have a real connection with Denver Broncos’ rookie tight end Albert Okwuegbunam, who for the second straight week was heavily targeted.  He led the team with seven targets, one more than starting tight end Noah Fant

It will be hard to buy into Albert O considering he ran a fraction of the routes and played in under half of the team’s snaps. Wide receiver Tim Patrick left the game with an injury, so if there are targets up for grabs, it looks like the rookie tight end would be atop the list to see an expanded role in the passing game.

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS @ LAS VEGAS RAIDERS

It was a great day for all the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ offense skill players not named Mike Evans. He led the team in routes but ended the day with just two catches on two targets. 

Usually, this would present a buy-low opportunity to acquire a player of Evans’ caliber on the cheap, but it would need to be a bottom-dollar deal. Antonio Brown’s addition to the team can’t make Evans’ situation any better. In Week 9, Evans draws James Bradberry who has had his number in recent matchups between the two. 

It's worth sending feelers out for Evans because he is still running a high volume of routes and seeing high-value targets — downfield and in the end zone. 

Oct 25, 2020; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Leonard Fournette (28) is tackled by Las Vegas Raiders free safety Erik Harris (25) during the first half at Allegiant Stadium. Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Leonard Fournette made his return to the starting lineup in Week 8 and completely took over the pass-catching duties. LeSean McCoy didn’t play a single snap and Fournette played a higher percentage of snaps than Ronald Jones (55% vs. 43%). 

This wasn’t an example of Fournette cleaning up in mop-up duty — he and Jones were both getting work throughout the game. In fantasy football, we need running backs to offer pass-game usage, and it’s hard to not bump up Fournette’s prospects for the rest of the season based on his seven targets in Week 7. 

It was a tough game for Josh Jacobs, but his matchup was one of the worst against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ stout run defense. He still led the RBs in routes run, targets, snaps and carries, which makes him an easy buy candidate to target in trades. 

Henry Ruggs III had just four targets and two catches, which was a surprise to me. Most teams involve their rookies more after a bye week, but that wasn’t the case with Ruggs. But at least some of his peripheral numbers look good. 

Only Nelson Agholor played more snaps and ran more routes than Ruggs among Raiders wide receivers, and Agholor isn’t going to see 10 targets every game. Those targets should fluctuate their way toward Ruggs, and that could happen in Week 8 against the Cleveland Browns.

The Browns have been destroyed by wide receivers in fantasy — specifically by slot receivers. In Week 7, Ruggs had two targets from the slot, averaging 30 air yards per target. There’s a big play coming. 

SEATTLE SEAHAWKS @ ARIZONA CARDINALS

WHAT A GAME. Tyler Lockett erupted for 200 receiving yards on 15 catches and three receiving touchdowns. This amazing effort did come at the expense of D.K. Metcalf, who finished with just two catches for 23 yards. The second-year receiver couldn’t free himself from Patrick Peterson’s shadow coverage.

Chris Carson was dinged up at the end of the first half, and Carlos Hyde took over, playing 56% of the snaps in the second half. Should Carson be forced to miss time, Hyde would be the immediate add off the waiver wire.

Kenyan Drake was also hurt late and carted off. In his absence, Chase Edmonds stepped up big time as a receiver. 

He finished with seven receptions for 87 receiving yards, further cementing his value to the team as a pass-catcher who can also work as an effective rusher if given the opportunity. Edmonds has a three-down skillset and would be in the RB1 consideration if Drake is forced to miss game action. 

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