Week 7 of the fantasy football season is finally here, and the Rotoworld crew has everything you need leave the weekend with a win. Patrick Daugherty answers your lineup questions with his Week 7 Rankings, Nick Mensio tells you who to start and who to fade in Start ‘Em or Sit ‘Em, and Evan Silva breaks down every matchup in his award-winning Matchups Column.
As for me, I am here to shed some light on the most important injury situations facing fantasy owners heading into the weekend. The sister resource to this column is the Rotoworld News Page, which will have every single inactive and all the late-breaking news up to kickoff and beyond. I also tweet about football (and wrestling) at @notJDaigle.
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Titans @ Chargers
(Friendly reminder this game is scheduled for 9:30 AM EST, so be sure and have your lineups set before lying down for the evening).
*The Titans aren’t dealing with too much on the injury front, having just LG Quinton Spain (shoulder) and S Kenny Vaccaro (elbow) slapped with the questionable tag. LBs Derrick Morgan (shoulder) and Will Compton (hamstring) were ruled out.
*Travis Benjamin (foot, questionable) is expected to return after getting in a full practice on Friday. Mike Williams notably played 53% of the Chargers’ offensive snaps with Benjamin healthy in Week 1 but hasn’t played fewer than 63% since he’s been out. Williams would need to be downgraded if Benjamin is officially declared active Sunday morning.
Browns @ Buccaneers
*The Browns were already forced to play their third corner opposite Denzel Ward due to Terrance Mitchell’s (arm, injured reserve) absence, but now they’ll be without CB E.J. Gaines (concussion, out), too. Assuming Mike Evans gets Ward’s typical shadow treatment, that frees up either DeSean Jackson or Chris Godwin on the opposite side. With Rashard Higgins (knee) still out, rookies Antonio Callaway and Damion Ratley (6/82 Sunday) will again play as many snaps as they can handle behind Jarvis Landry. Landry is arguably a PPR WR1 against the Bucs’ dead-last pass defense DVOA, with Callaway and Ratley both filing in as WR3/FLEX options. All three make for tremendous DFS options given their lowly prices across sites.
*In Nick Chubb’s first start post-Carlos Hyde trade, the Bucs will be without elite defensive linemen Vinny Curry (ankle) and Gerald McCoy (calf). McCoy in particular is Pro Football Focus’ No. 12 interior defender among 169 qualifiers in run defense. Given the defensive losses on both sides, this matchup is destined for fireworks back and forth.
Patriots @ Bears
*The Pats continued their long-running gag of listing all of Friday’s limited players as ‘questionable’ for Sunday. It’s all smoke and mirrors. Starting RT Marcus Cannon (head), however, will be out.
*Khalil Mack’s (ankle, questionable) absence was worrisome to start the week, but he finally got in a limited session Friday. He’s still truly a question mark for this pivotal matchup, especially since he looked slower to the untrained eye playing through his ankle injury just last week. Allen Robinson (groin) is also questionable, but he’s expected to play after getting in two limited practices. Taylor Gabriel is arguably the receiver you want in this matchup even if Robinson suits up given that the former has just four fewer targets than Robinson (38-34) on the season and five more in Chicago’s last three games (22-17).
Bills @ Colts
*Rather than going back to Nathan Peterman, the Bills comically signed QB Derek Anderson off the streets and immediately named him as the interim starter in place of Josh Allen (elbow, out). Oddly enough, there’s a legitimate case to be made that Anderson stabilizes this offense. LeSean McCoy’s floor is actually heightened sans Allen since the No. 7 overall pick currently leads the Bills in rushes inside the 10- (5) and five-yard (2) lines.
*T.Y. Hilton (chest, hamstring) was a full participant in practice this week and removed from the team’s injury report. He’ll start and immediately move back into WR2 territory alongside Chester Rogers and Eric Ebron with Ryan Grant (ankle, out) and Jack Doyle (hip, out) unavailable. Robert Turbin (shoulder) is also out but only accounted for four carries on 13 snaps with Marlon Mack back in the lineup Sunday.
Texans @ Jaguars
*DeAndre Hopkins (foot), Will Fuller (hip), and rookie Keke Coutee (hamstring) were all limited throughout the week but were still removed from the injury report Friday. All three will play. Fuller’s usage still needs to be monitored as he’s averaged only 4.5/42/0.5 in two full games with Coutee active.
*Leonard Fournette (hamstring) and Carlos Hyde (trade) will both be inactive Sunday, leaving one more game for T.J. Yeldon to command a majority of backfield touches. Yeldon and newly signed Jamaal Charles were the only active running backs for Jacksonville last week, which led to Yeldon handling eight carries on 31-of-48 (65%) snaps before game script got out of hand. Charles played 17 snaps, but he’s no threat to Yeldon. In fact, three of Charles’ five carries came in the fourth quarter with the Jags trailing by 30. Yeldon is a low-end RB2 for at least one more week. The TE Gods refused to allow us even James O’Shaughnessy (hip), who’s been ruled out. That leaves David Grinnage as the next man up in Jacksonville’s TE pecking order. He has only two blurb entries on our Player News page.
Vikings @ Jets
*Without Dalvin Cook (hamstring) last week, Latavius Murray stepped in and accounted for 24-of-27 backfield carries on 58-of-71 (82%) snaps. Cook is out again Sunday, propelling Murray back into a touchdown-dependent RB2 against New York’s No. 16 rush defense DVOA.
*Both Quincy Enunwa (ankle, out) and Terrelle Pryor (groin, doubtful) didn’t practice throughout the week and aren’t expected to play, leaving the Jets with Robby Anderson, Jermaine Kearse, and Andre Roberts in 3-WR sets. Anderson has shown big-play ability the past two weeks with Enunwa ailing, totaling 162 yards and two scores on just six receptions in that stint, but he’ll be dealt the tougher matchup against Xavier Rhodes on the outside. That leaves Kearse, who’s averaged a 79.2% slot rate the last three games, as the safer option with a higher floor. The slot, of course, is where Enunwa received 22 of his team-high 34 targets during the Jets’ first four contests. Kearse should morph into a high-floor WR3/FLEX option peppered with catchable low-aDOT targets while Enunwa is sidelined. Starting corners Trumaine Johnson (quad, doubtful) and Buster Skrine (concussion, out) were also unable to practice all week, likely thrusting backup slot CB Parry Nickerson into his third consecutive start. Nickerson allowed 15/169/2 on 19 targets the last two games while playing 76.1% of his snaps from the slot — the same area Adam Thielen has run 60.6% of his routes from this season. Isaiah Crowell (foot) is also listed as 'questionable', but followed the same practice routine as he did last week before playing (hobbled).
Lions @ Dolphins
*Theo Riddick (knee, out) has quietly compiled the fourth-most targets for the Lions, leaving ample opportunity in the passing game for whomever takes his place. One of the Lions’ best beat writers suggested the team would simply make Ameer Abdullah, who hasn’t played a snap all year, active and allow him to run free in Riddick’s third-down scat-back role. That’s a possibility, as is finally allowing Kerryon Johnson the additional touches given that he’s obviously the best athlete among Detroit’s backfield. Hopefully Matt Patricia did some soul-searching over the bye week and returns with something other than irrational coaching, but Johnson can’t be considered anything more than an RB3/FLEX in Riddick’s absence until proven otherwise.
*CB Bobby McCain (knee, questionable) and DE Cameron Wake (knee, questionable) got in a full practice on Friday and should return Sunday. Miami has typically assigned premier CB Xavien Howard to one receiver, but he’ll likely stick to the outside and cover either Marvin Jones or Kenny Golladay in this one. Howard has played just six slot snaps all year, giving Golden Tate (73% slot rate) the best matchup among Detroit’s big three wideouts.
Panthers @ Eagles
*After getting in a full session on Friday, Greg Olsen (foot) is all systems go.
*CB Sidney Jones (hamstring) and S Corey Graham (hamstring) didn’t practice throughout the week and were ruled out Friday. The Eagles still hold the No. 10 pass defense DVOA despite struggling mightily to cover receivers.
Saints @ Ravens
*Top CB Marshon Lattimore (concussion) practiced in full Friday. He’ll play. Without Ted Ginn (knee, injured reserve) for the foreseeable future, though, explosive rookie Tre’Quan Smith need be prioritized on waivers where applicable. The Saints’ receiver snaps without Ginn in Week 5 were dispersed among Michael Thomas 51, Smith 44, Cam Meredith 30, and Austin Carr 14; routes were Thomas 30, Smith 28, Meredith 19, Carr 5. Outdoors against Baltimore’s stout secondary is admittedly a rough matchup for all of New Orleans’ wideouts, but Smith will be a WR3 any time the Saints play in the dome.
*Outside of backup CB Marlon Humphrey (thigh, questionable), the Ravens are relatively healthy.
Cowboys @ Redskins
*Sean Lee (hamstring) practiced in full at week’s end and is expected to play. With Tavon Austin (groin) doubtful, note Michael Gallup ran a team-high 29 routes on a season-high 59-of-73 snaps last week.
*Washington’s bevvy of injuries continue as Jamison Crowder (ankle, out) and Paul Richardson (shoulder/knee, doubtful) are not expected to play. On top of that, RBs Adrian Peterson (ankle, shoulder) and Chris Thompson (ribs) are questionable. Maurice Harris has been the primary beneficiary among Washington's slew of injuries the past two weeks, totaling 12 targets and 65 routes on 93 snaps in the Redskins' ailing receiver corps. Given his low volume but high on-field usage, Harris remains strictly a six-team bye-week filler or stone minimum DFS cash game flier. Third-down back Kapri Bibbs ran a backfield-high 19 routes on 26 snaps ahead of Samaje Perine (8, 11%) Sunday and is (only) worth considering if both Thompson and Peterson are ruled out.
Rams @ 49ers
*With Cooper Kupp (knee) ruled out, Josh Reynolds is expected to start on the outside, inevitably pushing Robert Woods to the slot. Reynolds ran 21 routes on 46 snaps (62%) once Cooper exited last week and should seamlessly transition into Woods’ outside role. He’s undeniably a viable WR3 and cheap DFS cash-game filler just by being the No. 3 wideout on an explosive attack that’s used 11 personnel (3-WR) on a league-high 95% of offensive snaps. With coach Sean McVay being arguably the smartest offensive mind in the league, though, there’s a legitimate chance he sacrifices Reynolds to the wolves on the left side the field, where Richard Sherman (calf, questionable) has lined up on 254-of-309 (82.2%) defensive snaps. Sherman has roamed to the slot on just eight snaps this season, making Woods and Brandin Cooks the better DFS tournament plays.
*George Kittle (knee), Matt Breida (shoulder, ankle), LT Joe Staley (knee), C Weston Richburg (knee), and RG Mike Person (knee) were all removed from the injury report Friday. Upgrade the Rams’ receiving corps if a number of Jimmie Ward (hamstring, doubtful), Ahkello Witherspoon (concussion, questionable), and K’Waun Williams (illness, questionable) are ruled out prior to kick-off.
Bengals @ Chiefs
*John Ross (groin) was a full participant in practice throughout the week and will return to his limited role behind A.J. Green and Tyler Boyd. With Tyler Kroft (foot) still out, C.J. Uzomah remains a strong TE1 for his inevitable usage alone. He played 56-of-62 (92%) snaps and ran a route on 38 of Andy Dalton’s 45 dropbacks without Kroft last week.
*OLB Justin Houston (hamstring) will get a few additional hours of rest since this one doesn’t kick off until later, but he notably hasn’t practiced all week. He’s closer to doubtful.
Giants @ Falcons
*Atlanta’s injury-riddled defense could return DE Derrick Shelby (groin, questionable), and DT Grady Jarrett (ankle) as early as Monday. The same can’t be said for Devonta Freeman (groin, injured reserve), who’s likely out for the year. Expect a timeshare between Tevin Coleman and Ito Smith similar to Sunday’s moving forward, as Coleman just slightly edged out Smith in both snaps (38-31) and routes run (20-15). The real news here, though, is Calvin Ridley’s (ankle) and Mohamed Sanu’s (hip) lingering ailments from last week. Both were slapped with the questionable tag and are legitimate question marks for Monday night. If lacking receiver depth, it’s possible (and perhaps even wise) for Ridley and Sanu owners to nab Justin Hardy off waivers and keep him on standby as a potential Monday night pivot. As the next man up, Hardy (3/33) stepped in for Ridley and saw seven targets on 36-of-67 offensive snaps Sunday.