- Arizona Cardinals WR DeAndre Hopkins and Rondale Moore both appear set up for plenty of fantasy success Thursday night against a banged-up Saints secondary.
- Dallas Cowboys WR Michael Gallup could experience a blowup performance against the Lions’ every-leaky secondary with Dak Prescott expected back under center.
- Detroit Lions WR Amon-Ra St. Brown is healthy and should once again be treated as a weekly upside WR1 in full-PPR formats.
Estimated reading time: 30 minutes
Week 7 is here! It’s truly a great day to be great.
What follows is a fantasy football-themed breakdown of each and every wide receiver and tight end group. The following seven categories will be analyzed for all 28 teams playing this week:
- Week 7 WR Fantasy Rankings: Where the wide receiver falls in my fantasy ranks. Updated ranks can be found throughout the week on PFF.com as well as the new PFF app.
- WR Usage: Every team’s top-three wide receivers in terms of last week’s route rate alongside their season-long marks in targets per route run and yards per route run.
- Week 7 Matchup: Opponent’s rank in PPR points allowed to opposing wide receivers as well as their team PFF coverage grade. Higher numbers are better for wide receivers; “32” illustrates the worst defense in a given category, and “1” is the best.
- Shadow Matchups: Denotes whether or not any wide receivers are expected to be “shadowed” by a specific cornerback.
- Week 7 TE Fantasy Rankings: Where the tight end falls in my fantasy ranks. Updated ranks can be found throughout the week on PFF.com as well as the new PFF app.
- TE Usage: Every team’s top-two tight ends in terms of last week’s route rate alongside their season-long marks in targets per route run and yards per route run.
- Key question: One key question for every team that is on my mind.
JUMP TO A TEAM:
- Week 7 WR Fantasy Ranking: DeAndre Hopkins (WR17), Rondale Moore (WR27), A.J. Green (WR66)
- WR Usage: Rondale Moore (98% routes, 0.18 targets per route run, 1.07 yards per route run), Marquise Brown (94%, 0.23, 1.79), A.J. Green (70%, 0.13, 0.34)
- Week 7 WR Matchup: NO: 27 in PPR per game to WR, 19 in PFF coverage grade
- WR/CB Shadow Matchups: None.
- Week 7 TE Fantasy Rankings: Zach Ertz (TE5)
- TE Usage: Zach Ertz (91% routes, 0.2 targets per route run, 1.22 yards per route run), Trey McBride (19%, 0.11, 0.86)
Key question: What should fantasy managers expect from DeAndre Hopkins in his first game back from suspension?
On the one hand, Hopkins’ 2021 demise was a bit overstated. The ex-Texans veteran receiver worked as the overall WR12 and WR17 in PPR points per game in Weeks 1-7 prior to injuring his hamstring.
On the other, history tells us that his status as a 30-year-old isn’t ideal, and his marks in PFF receiving grade (81.1) and yards per route run (1.78) were each his lowest since 2016. Yes, Hopkins was playing through a rib injury and in pain during basically all of 2021. Also yes, these are the sorts of things that we should probably expect to happen more frequently for the league’s relatively more elderly receivers.
Ultimately: Nuk caught some (fantasy) good luck with Marquise Brown (foot) out indefinitely. Hopkins’ largest issue last season was usually volume: He averaged just 6.7 targets per game in Weeks 1-7 after seeing a whopping 10 targets per game in 2020. Brown’s average targets per game this season: 10.7.
It’s not a guarantee that Hopkins immediately gets back to seeing double-digit targets on an every-week basis, but the Cardinals also might not really have a better option to help jumpstart this offense. The No. 31 ranked offense in EPA per play in the first half — yet No. 1 in the second half — Arizona needs to establish some level of consistency in their offense as a whole; don’t be surprised if both Hopkins and (to a lesser extent) Rondale Moore serve as the focal points of a group set up well against an already mediocre Saints secondary that will also continue to be without CB Marshon Lattimore (abdomen, out).
- Week 7 WR Fantasy Ranking: Drake London (WR26), Olamide Zaccheaus (WR58)
- WR Usage: Drake London (100% routes, 0.31 targets per route run, 2.23 yards per route run), Olamide Zaccheaus (88%, 0.17, 2.58), Bryan Edwards (41%, 0.09, 0.27)
- Week 7 WR Matchup: CIN: 9 in PPR per game to WR, 8 in PFF coverage grade
- WR/CB Shadow Matchups: Drake London vs. Chidobe Awuzie.
- Week 7 TE Fantasy Rankings: Kyle Pitts (TE6)
- TE Usage: Kyle Pitts (82% routes, 0.25 targets per route run, 1.67 yards per route run), Parker Hesse (41%, 0.08, 0.68)
Meh. London looked like the position’s next-big thing with three top-36 finishes in the first three weeks of the season, but he’s fizzled out with WR76, WR55 and WR49 finishes over the past three weeks. Pitts has posted PPR TE35, TE28, TE6, TE41 and TE12 finishes in his five healthy games.
Meanwhile, Arthur Smith and the Falcons are fielding a top-10 offense whether you like it or not. This is true in terms of points per game (24.3, No. 9), EPA per play (+0.031, No. 7), PFF team offense grade (78.1, tied for No. 3): Atlanta has been moving the ball efficiently all season long, fantasy football aspirations be damned.
It’s awfully interesting just how unique this group has been this season:
- Pass-play rate in non-garbage time situations: 46.9% (No. 32)
- Play-action rate: 47.6% (No. 1)
- Pistol formation rate: 37% (No. 1)
- 2+ RB formation rate: 31.9% (No. 1)
Whether this Falcons offense continues to work this well for 17 games remains to be seen, but for the time being it’s tough to be anything other than impressed with the early results. Unfortunately, this means that neither London nor Pitts should necessarily be counted on as must-start fantasy options at the moment.
This is especially true this week for London, might just have a tough shadow matchup on his hands. Awuzie is PFF’s ninth-highest-graded cornerback in coverage and is a big reason why the Bengals have allowed the 10th-fewest PPR points per game to opposing wide receivers this season.
- Week 7 WR Fantasy Ranking: Devin Duvernay (WR36), Tylan Wallace (WR73)
- WR Usage: Devin Duvernay (81% routes, 0.17 targets per route run, 1.71 yards per route run), Demarcus Robinson (75%, 0.14, 0.64), Tylan Wallace (19%, 0.17, 0.72)
- Week 7 WR Matchup: CLE: 21 in PPR per game to WR, 20 in PFF coverage grade
- WR/CB Shadow Matchups: None.
- Week 7 TE Fantasy Rankings: Mark Andrews (TE2)
- TE Usage: Mark Andrews (97% routes, 0.29 targets per route run, 2.32 yards per route run), Isaiah Likely (33%, 0.17, 1.06)
Key question: Has Mark Andrews been the NFL’s best tight end this season?
Pretty close. Andrews only trails Travis Kelce in receptions, receiving touchdowns and fantasy points alike, while his average of 2.32 yards per route run actually leads the position among 58 qualified players at the position.