9:30AM ET Game (London)
Buffalo vs. Jacksonville
The 41-point Vegas total on Bills-Jags is Week 7's lowest, with Buffalo listed as a four-point favorite. Although Jacksonville's offense has flashed explosive potential this year, an 18.5-point team total is concerning for Jaguars players. ... With T.J. Yeldon still nursing a groin injury and the Jags facing a Bills defense holding opposing backs to 3.95 yards per carry, Jacksonville's offense is likely to be rendered one dimensional at Wembley Stadium. This scenario had poor results in a much easier matchup last week, as Blake Bortles was picked off three times by the Texans, including S/CB Dre Hal's 31-yard, fourth-quarter pick six. Whereas quarterbacks with quick release times like Tom Brady, Andy Dalton, and Eli Manning have had success against Buffalo's defense, passers more willing to hold onto the ball like Andrew Luck and Marcus Mariota have struggled versus Rex Ryan's group. Luck ranks 24th among 31 quarterbacks in Pro Football Focus' "time-to-throw" charting, while Mariota is 22nd and Week 7 opponent Bortles is 23rd. Brady, Eli, and Dalton are all top five. Fire up the Bills' D/ST this week. ... Toby Gerhart and Denard Robinson shared time in Jacksonville's backfield last week, with Gerhart logging a 63% snap rate and 12 touches compared to Shoelace's 34% clip and 10 touches. Yeldon returned to a "limited" practice on Thursday and has a chance to play, but won't be more than a low-end RB2 option at less than full health in a daunting matchup with a low-scoring projection.
Bortles' target distribution since Julius Thomas returned from a finger injury two weeks ago: Allen Robinson 21; Bryan Walters 16; Thomas 15; Allen Hurns 13; Yeldon 6; Gerhart 4; Shoelace 3. ... Thomas led Jacksonville in Week 6 targets (13) and gets a plus Week 7 draw against a Bills defense allowing the tenth most catches to tight ends. In a game where the Jaguars will likely have to throw to move the ball, Thomas is a high-end TE1 start. ... RCB Stephon Gilmore's stingy perimeter play has allowed the Bills to contain Odell Beckham (5-38-0) and A.J. Green (4-36-0) in recent weeks. Buffalo did give up 9-95-1 to Marvin Jones and a combined 8-82-2 to Rueben Randle/Dwayne Harris in those games. Julius is the best fantasy option in Jacksonville's pass-catcher corps this week, but Hurns remains in play as a WR3. ... While Robinson's matchup looks difficult on paper, OC Greg Olson has done a good job of scheming him easy catches on top of utilizing Robinson as a downfield playmaker. In season-long leagues, Robinson is an every-week WR1/2. ... Running slot routes in place of Marqise Lee (hamstring), Cornell grad Walters piled up a dozen targets in last Sunday's loss to Houston, securing eight for 87 yards. A sixth-year journeyman, Walters had never before seen more than five targets across 25 career games.
The Bills' Week 7 team total is 22.5 against a Jaguars defense permitting the second most points in the league. The strongest fantasy option on Buffalo's side is LeSean McCoy, who returned from his hamstring injury last Sunday to drop 94 total yards and a touchdown on the Bengals, averaging 5.29 yards per tote. McCoy looked all the way back to 100%, dusting second-level defenders on an early-game 33-yard zone run and dominating the workload as Dan Herron siphoned only two touches and Anthony Dixon didn't get the rock. McCoy is a legitimate RB1 play against Jacksonville's up-and-down run defense, which has ceded 264 yards and two TDs on 62 carries (4.26 YPC) to Bucs and Texans RBs over its last two games. ... The Bills will hold out Tyrod Taylor (MCL) through their Week 8 bye, giving E.J. Manuel another start. The good news is the Jaguars' pass defense is atrocious, ranking 31st in Football Outsiders' DVOA while allowing Jameis Winston, Matt Hasselbeck, Tom Brady, Ryan Tannehill, and Brian Hoyer to combine for a 9:0 TD-to-INT ratio over the last five weeks. The bad news is Manuel isn't very good -- reaffirmed in last week's tentative, scattershot performance against Cincinnati -- and will be without Sammy Watkins (ankle) and Percy Harvin (hip). The matchup keeps Manuel in play as a streamer option with Aaron Rodgers, Andy Dalton, and Jay Cutler on Week 7 byes.
Manuel's target distribution last week: Charles Clay 13; Robert Woods 6; Chris Hogan, Watkins, and Chris Gragg 5; McCoy 4; Herron 2. ... Amid so many wideout injuries, OC Greg Roman has force fed designed plays to Clay, who now ranks second among NFL tight ends in targets. Expect another high-volume game against the Jaguars' Cover 3, which is vulnerable over the middle and up the seams. Jacksonville is allowing the ninth most yards to tight ends. ... Possession receiver Woods and slot man Hogan will operate as Buffalo's top-two wideouts in London. Although neither offers much big-play ability, it is conceivable both Woods and Hogan catch five-plus passes based on sheer opportunity. Woods has the higher-profile resume, but Hogan is better at getting open. They're both PPR punt plays for fantasy owners in bye-week binds.
Score Prediction: Bills 20, Jaguars 17
1:00PM ET Games
Tampa Bay @ Washington
The Bucs return from their bye as 3.5-point dogs in Washington, and with a team total under 20 points. ... Although their record stands at 2-3, the Bucs have played competitively in three of their last four games, mainly on the strength of their rushing attack. Doug Martin has 250 yards and three TDs on his last 53 carries, averaging 4.72 yards per tote. Meanwhile, the Redskins' once-stout run defense has begun to crumble, coughing up a combined 66-346-2 (5.24 YPC) rushing number to Jets and Falcons RBs over the last two weeks. Martin should return RB1 value if Tampa can keep this game close and feed its lead runner. ... Even with Martin on fire, OC Dirk Koetter has insisted on keeping change-up back Charles Sims involved. Sims is averaging 10.2 touches per game with chronological snap rates of 49%, 49%, and 39% before the open date. Owners in severe bye-week binds may want to give Sims a look as a PPR flex. Sims is on pace for 45 catches. ... Jameis Winston is a passable two-QB-league starter against the Redskins' injury-ravaged pass defense. Last week, erratic Jets passer Ryan Fitzpatrick produced a top-four fantasy quarterback week against these same Skins. Opponents have a combined 9:3 TD-to-INT ratio versus Washington, which ranks 17th in sacks (12) and 20th in QB rating allowed (93.4). Winston's outlook is upgraded by Mike Evans' likely improved health coming off the bye.
Winston's target distribution since Evans came back in Week 2: Evans 33; Vincent Jackson 28; Sims and Louis Murphy 14; Martin 10; Brandon Myers 9. ... The Redskins' secondary injuries finally caught up to them in last Sunday's blowout loss to the Jets as Brandon Marshall (7-111-1) went off and Eric Decker (4-59-1) would've had a much bigger day if not for two drops and a long catch at the end of which Decker was tackled at the one-yard line. Evans missed much of camp with a hamstring injury -- contributing to his slow start -- but should be at 100% following the bye. He warrants high-end WR2 treatment in season-long leagues and is an extreme-upside DFS tournament play. ... With Austin Seferian-Jenkins (shoulder) still on the shelf, V-Jax should continue to be viewed as a quality WR3 with weekly WR2 upside. Jackson, however, has a more difficult Week 7 draw than Evans, as V-Jax is likely to run most of his routes at sturdy Redskins LCB Bashaud Breeland. Evans will mainly draw either banged-up RCB Chris Culliver (knee) or burnable fill-in Will Blackmon. ... Manning the slot this season, Bucs third receiver Murphy logged Weeks 3-5 snap rates of 64%, 65%, and 36%. Murphy tends to play less when Tampa Bay is involved in close games or leading. Scoreless on the season with two games above 30 yards, Murphy would be a weak bye-week replacement for owners desperate for WR3 options.
As 3.5-point home favorites in a game with a 42.5-point Vegas total, the Redskins' team total is 23. I'm very interested to see how Washington plans on scoring that many points. Maybe they'll get there with their defense? ... The Redskins' coaching staff does not trust Kirk Cousins to make difficult throws, and it is most visible in third-and-long situations, where play calls tend to involve draws, screens, and short dump-off-type plays that regularly lead to punts. Cousins has had plenty of plus matchups this season (vs. MIA, @ NYG, vs. PHI, @ ATL) and has failed to deliver in almost all of them, finishing above the weekly QB20 just once through six games while failing to post a single multi-touchdown week. Even against a Bucs team that ranks 24th in Football Outsiders' pass-defense DVOA, game-manager Cousins is a tough sell as more than a low-end two-quarterback-league start. ... The Redskins appear likely to be without passing-game specialist Chris Thompson (back), setting up Matt Jones for more targets than usual against the Bucs. Jones will continue to share early-down work with Alfred Morris against a Tampa Bay team that ranks 11th in run-defense DVOA and has held opposing RBs under 4.00 yards per carry. If Thompson is declared inactive, Jones would become a better flex option. Morris (3.49 YPC) has not played well enough for serious fantasy-start discussion.
Cousins' target distribution with Jordan Reed in the lineup this year: Pierre Garcon 35; Reed 34; Jamison Crowder and Ryan Grant 20; Chris Thompson 16. ... Quiet the last two weeks, Garcon is an underrated WR2 play against a Tampa defense that was torched by Allen Robinson (7-72-2), Allen Hurns (5-116-1), and DeAndre Hopkins (8-101-1) in two of the three games before the Bucs' bye. ... As noted this week by ex-Rotoworlder Adam Levitan, Reed was on a 134-target pace before going down in Week 4. Rob Gronkowski led all NFL tight ends in targets with 130 last season. Although the Bucs have been statistically stingy in tight end coverage this year, this is a situation to avoid overthink. Lovie Smith's Tampa 2 is inherently vulnerable to routes that tight ends run, and Reed is a top-five TE1 play whenever he dresses. ... After assuming No. 2 pass-option duties in Reed's absence, Crowder's usage could lessen a bit with Reed back in the fold. Crowder averaged five targets per game when Reed played in Weeks 1-4, compared to 8.5 in Reed's two missed games. Crowder has earned an every-week role at slot receiver in the Redskins' offense, but he now becomes more difficult to forecast for high-volume games.
Score Prediction: Buccaneers 20, Redskins 17
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Atlanta @ Tennessee
Relishing a ten-day layoff following their first loss last Thursday night against the Saints, the 5-1 Falcons are 4.5-point road favorites in Nashville with a robust team total of 26 points. This game sets up beautifully for No. 1 overall fantasy back Devonta Freeman, taking on a Titans team that ranks dead last in Football Outsiders' run-defense DVOA and was touched up for 19-113-1 by Lamar Miller last week. ... Although Tevin Coleman flashed his straight-line speed on 18- and 17-yard runs against Atlanta, he also lost a fumble and finished with four carries. Since returning from a rib injury two games ago, Coleman's snap rates are 11.1% and 10.8%. Coleman should stay rostered in 12-team season-long leagues, but he's merely an RB4 stash and/or handcuff for Freeman owners. ... Tennessee's defensive strength is in the air, ranking No. 6 in pass-defense DVOA with a 9:6 TD-to-INT ratio against and 15 sacks, eighth most in football despite an early-season bye. While I don't doubt the Falcons will generate consistent offense against the Titans and set up scoring chances, this game sets up better for them to do so with a high-volume rushing attack. On pace for just 21.3 touchdown passes, Ryan has been a major statistical disappointment this year. He is fantasy's QB18 overall in points per game.
Ryan's Weeks 1-6 target distribution: Julio Jones 72; Freeman 41; Leonard Hankerson 39; Jacob Tamme 25; Roddy White 21. ... Although the matchup may not appear ideal on paper, more important for Julio is the state of his hamstring, which Jones had time to rest extensively following last Thursday's loss. As Julio is coming off three straight slow games by his standards, he figures to go lower owned than usual on DFS sites and makes for an especially attractive tournament play. With RCB Perrish Cox (hamstring) expected to miss Week 7, the Titans will turn back to fantasy moneymaker Blidi Wreh-Wilson for a significant role. ... Hankerson has shown the ability to produce big box scores as Atlanta's No. 2 wideout, but he also offers a scary floor with 4-of-6 games under 50 yards. Hankerson leads the NFL in drops (7) and is most appropriately valued as a boom-or-bust WR3/flex. ... Increased involvement for Tamme and White has also factored into Hankerson's ups and downs. Ultimately, all three are role players fighting for usage scraps behind offensive foundation players Freeman and Jones. For fantasy owners in search of Week 7 streamers, Tamme might be worth a longer-shot look. Tamme has logged 75% of Atlanta's offensive snaps since returning from an early-season concussion, and the Titans are permitting the sixth most fantasy points in the league to tight ends. Tennessee gave up a combined 7-63-2 line to Dolphins TEs Jordan Cameron and Dion Sims last week.
Coming off a 38-10 blowout loss to the Dolphins, the Titans are in rough Week 7 shape. Marcus Mariota (MCL) has been ruled out, while Tennessee lost C Brian Schwenke to a year-ending leg fracture against Miami. RT Jeremiah Poutasi was benched after getting beaten like a drum by Cameron Wake. Tennessee's team total is 21.5 against Atlanta. ... The good news is the Titans' offense won't have to change much with Zach Mettenberger at the controls. Mariota has been utilized as a pocket passer as opposed to a dual threat, and Mettenberger has a good enough arm that Tennessee's passing game won't lose dimensions. Ranked 20th in pass-defense DVOA and tied for last in the league in sacks (7), the Falcons offer a plus matchup for opposing quarterbacks. Mettenberger is a sneaky streamer and DFS play. He is willing to challenge vertically and outside the numbers, and posted three multi-touchdown games across six starts last season. ... The Titans' backfield offers very little fantasy intrigue regardless of matchup. Bishop Sankey's role continues to be scaled back, while Antonio Andrews (2.89 YPC) has proven incapable of churning out consistent three- and four-yard gains. Dexter McCluster might be worth a look for PPR owners in major bye-week crunches. Passing-game specialist McCluster has logged at least eight touches in three of Tennessee's last four games and could dominate Week 7 snaps if the Titans fall behind, which seems likely.
The Titans' target distribution this season: Kendall Wright 31; Delanie Walker 29; Harry Douglas 23; Justin Hunter 16; Sankey and Anthony Fasano 14; McCluster and Dorial Green-Beckham 1. ... Wright's stat lines were 3-53-0, 4-53-0, 4-70-0, 1-28-0, and 7-132-1 in his five appearances with Mettenberger starting last year. Wright does have a plus Week 7 matchup against burnable Falcons slot corner Phillip Adams, but is best approached as a mid-range WR3. ... 34-year-old Ben Watson (10-127-1) tore Atlanta's defense to shreds on Thursday Night Football last week. Here are Walker's stat lines when he played with Mett in 2014: 4-37-1, 3-37-0, 5-155-0, 1-6-0, and 4-27-0. Walker is a low-end to mid-range fantasy TE1 in Week 7. ... Green-Beckham set season highs in snap rate (41%) and targets (6) in last week's loss to the Dolphins, and should see his playing time rise further with Douglas (ribs) not expected to play. Unfortunately, DGB and Hunter project to run a ton of routes at Falcons shutdown LCB Desmond Trufant. Fantasy owners willing to roll dice on Green-Beckham will have to hope he capitalizes on the chances he gets against weaker RCB Robert Alford. Ultimately, Green-Beckham is a hail-mary WR3 play.
Score Prediction: Falcons 27, Titans 20
New Orleans @ Indianapolis
Saints-Colts has the highest Vegas total of Week 7 at 52 points. ... Back from a ten-day layoff following their upset of the Falcons two Thursday nights ago, the Saints carry a Week 7 team total of just under 24 as 4.5-point road dogs in Indy. New Orleans gets back studly LT Terron Armstead (knee) after a two-game absence, while Drew Brees got to rest his previously ailing shoulder. ... Although the Saints' personnel prevents them from consistently testing deep, Brees has produced as a dink and dunker since returning from injury three games ago, completing 89-of-123 passes (72.4%) for 1,006 yards (8.2 YPA) and a 5:1 TD-to-INT ratio against Dallas, Philly, and Atlanta. Brees has masked some of his declining efficiency with sheer volume, ranking second in the NFL in pass attempts per game. 30th in sacks (8) and 26th in pass-defense DVOA, the Colts lost difference-making FS Mike Adams to a hamstring injury in last week's loss to New England. Brees is a quality QB1 play in a probable shootout beneath the Lucas Oil Stadium roof. ... A solid run-defending team up until Week 6, the Colts were exposed a bit by Dion Lewis and LeGarrette Blount for 114 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries (5.70 YPC) on Sunday Night Football. Even if this still isn't an ideal matchup, Mark Ingram's weekly workloads keep him entrenched as an every-week RB1. He's hit or exceeded 17 touches in five of the Saints' first six games, also ranking third among running backs both rushing touchdowns (4) and catches (27). ... C.J. Spiller has been a major disappointment so far in New Orleans. His touches seem to be telegraphed; defenses are easily sniffing out screens and other theoretically space-creating plays the Saints design for him. Spiller's weekly touch totals as a Saint are 4, 3, 7, 6, and 7. Albeit with big-play potential, Spiller is a dangerously low-floor flex option.
Brees' target distribution over his last three starts: Brandin Cooks and Willie Snead 22; Ben Watson 20; Spiller 14; Ingram 13; Marques Colston 10; Josh Hill and Khiry Robinson 8; Brandon Coleman 3. ... Whereas Cooks will run most of his routes at perimeter press corners Vontae Davis and Greg Toler, Snead primarily shuttles between the slot and the right side of the Saints' formations. Snead will get more chances against LCB Toler and slot CB Darius Butler and is the favorite to lead New Orleans in Week 7 catches. ... Although expectations have been severely diminished for Cooks, he still warrants WR3 treatment in season-long leagues as a good bet for 8-10 targets in a potential shootout game. ... Seeing as Watson's previous weekly target totals were 5, 4, 4, 3, and 5 entering last Thursday night's win over Atlanta, his 12-target, 10-127-1 performance looks like an obvious outlier. But it's also possible Sean Payton has realized his weak wideout corps simply isn't getting it done, and so the Saints' tight ends will get more usage going forward. Either way, Watson warrants a long look for TE1 streamers in a projected high-scoring affair against an Indy defense permitting the 12th most catches and 10th most yards to tight ends. ... Watson's increased role may have also been a function of Colston's (shoulder) absence against the Falcons. Colston is tentatively due back this week, but the 32-year-old is scoreless in five appearances this season, and has topped 50 yards just once.
In a likely high-scoring game against a bad defense, the Colts have a juicy team total of over 28 points. On paper, this is a great spot to tee up Andrew Luck in DFS and season-long leagues. Weak in the secondary, absent of pass rush, and often schematically overmatched, the Saints have an 11:2 TD-to-INT ratio against and are allowing 8.6 yards per pass attempt, the second highest clip in the league. Although Luck's ball placement was a bit more erratic than usual in his first game back, he did pile up three touchdown passes and over 300 yards while avoiding turnovers in Week 6 versus New England. His health should be better this week. ... While Frank Gore failed to hit pay dirt against the Patriots, he did peel off 94 total yards on 15 touches and now ranks seventh among running backs in PPR points over the last month. At age 32, Gore is averaging a robust 4.53 yards per carry. At worst, he's an every-week RB2 play and an especially attractive one this week against a Saints defense that was gashed by Eagles and Falcons running backs for 323 yards and three touchdowns on 50 carries (6.46 YPC) in Weeks 5-6. ... Already locked in as Gore's handcuff, Ahmad Bradshaw logged nearly 24% of the Colts' snaps against the Patriots, sprinkling in for five touches. While he is not an immediate threat to Gore's lead back job, Bradshaw could carve out flex value as he rounds into football shape, and is likely to eventually take over as Indianapolis' passing-down specialist. Bradshaw should be owned in all season-long leagues as a candidate for legitimate RB1 value if Gore went down.
Luck's target distribution this season: Donte Moncrief and T.Y. Hilton 37; Andre Johnson 24; Phillip Dorsett 16; Coby Fleener 13; Gore and Dwayne Allen 9; Bradshaw 1. ... Moncrief's stat lines in Luck's four starts are 6-46-1, 7-122-1, 4-32-1, and 6-69-1. Moncrief is seeing legitimate WR1 usage when Luck plays and producing like one, too. Moncrief is a huge-upside fantasy play against Saints RCB Brandon Browner, who ranks dead last among 109 qualifiers in PFF's cornerback grades. ... Hilton's receiving lines when Luck starts are 7-88, 4-45, 4-94, and 6-74-1. His weekly ceiling seems to be curbed by Moncrief's year-two emergence, but Hilton remains a fringe fantasy WR1/2. More concerning for Hilton's outlook against the Saints is the likelihood he runs most of his routes at feisty LCB Delvin Breaux, easily New Orleans' top cover man. ... Very briefly sparked by Matt Hasselbeck, Johnson crashed back to Earth in last Sunday night's loss to New England and now holds stat lines of 4-24, 3-27, 0-0, and 3-35 with Luck. Johnson may need a Moncrief or Hilton injury to come back into play as a viable fantasy starter. ... The Saints are allowing the fourth most fantasy points in the league to tight ends, but Fleener and Allen have so far worked to cancel each other out of TE1 discussion. Fleener's numbers are 1-5, 0-0, 2-9, and 3-20 in Allen's four games played. Allen's numbers are 3-17-1, 1-21, and 3-23.
DFS Players: Saints at Colts is the RotoGrinders Matchup of the Week. Some of RotoGrinders' top NFL minds break down this game from every angle and help prepare you to set winning lineups this weekend in daily fantasy football.
Score Prediction: Colts 30, Saints 24
Minnesota @ Detroit
The Vegas total on Vikings-Lions is 44.5 points with visiting Minnesota installed as a 2.5-point favorite. The Vikings' team total is 23.5. ... In the fantasy community, expect some recency bias-driven pullback on Adrian Peterson following his Week 6 letdown game (26-60-0) in Kansas City, which could create DFS value opportunities. The Lions are permitting the seventh most fantasy points to running backs, including nine rushing TDs through six games. Peterson went off when these clubs played in Week 2, flaming Detroit for 192 total yards and 4.62 YPC while flukily getting vultured at the goal line by FB Zach Line and Teddy Bridgewater on one-yard rushing scores. Peterson is arguably fantasy's top running back play this week. ... Although Bridgewater has been a major fantasy disappointment this season -- failing to take the year-two leap many anticipated -- Teddy's Week 7 matchup is hard to ignore from a streaming standpoint. Bottom three in pass defense per Football Outsiders' DVOA metric, the Lions have been eviscerated by opposing quarterbacks to the tune of 138-for-187 passing (73.8%), 1,692 yards (9.05 YPA), and a 10:3 TD-to-INT ratio. With Aaron Rodgers, Andy Dalton, and Jay Cutler all on byes, Bridgewater belongs in the top-12 conversation among quarterbacks this week.
Bridgewater's target distribution over his last two games: Stefon Diggs and Mike Wallace 19; Kyle Rudolph 9; Adam Thielen 8; Peterson 7; Jarius Wright 3. ... 6-foot, 195 with 4.47 wheels, Diggs was a revelation in Weeks 4 and 6, registering stat lines of 6-87 and 7-129. Diggs made his first start in last week's win over the Chiefs, logging an 82% snap rate and showing outstanding separation skills while drawing Antonio Brown comparisons from teammate Wallace. Although coach Mike Zimmer has been noncommittal, the game tape shows Diggs has earned a place in two-wide sets ahead of Charles Johnson. After practicing with the ones on Friday, Diggs should be viewed as a WR3 with WR2 upside in this plus draw. ... Although Wallace's straight-linish, vertical-oriented skill set has rendered him a mismatch for Bridgewater's timing-and-rhythm game, this week's matchup keeps Wallace in the WR3/flex hunt. Per PFF's charts, Lions RCB Rashean Mathis and LCB Darius Slay have given up the 17th and 18th most yards among 109 qualified cornerbacks this season. Mathis and Slay have begun playing better recently, however, and they did hold Wallace to a 3-38-0 number in Week 2. Wallace isn't a terrible Week 7 play, but Diggs has passed him as the superior bet. ... Lightly targeted in the Vikings' run-based offense, Rudolph is still worth a look as a streamer facing a Lions defense permitting the eighth most fantasy points to tight ends. Rudolph posted his best stat line of the season against Detroit in Week 2, going 5-30-1 on six targets.
As 2.5-point home dogs against Minnesota, Detroit's team total is low at 21 points. ... A Lions offense that can still create big passing plays but can't run the ball matches up poorly with a Vikings defense that ranks top 14 against the pass per DVOA, but 26th against the run. The way to attack Minnesota is with a power running game. The Lions don't have that in their repertoire. ... Matthew Stafford has faced the Vikings three times since Mike Zimmer took over as head coach. Stafford's results have been pedestrian, combining to complete 68-of-114 throws (59.6%) for 624 yards (5.47 YPA) with a 4:1 TD-to-INT ratio. Even as he returns from a monster four-touchdown game versus Chicago, Stafford is an underwhelming QB1 option in a far tougher Week 7 draw. ... After benching him for fumbling in Week 5, the Lions turned back to Ameer Abdullah as their nominal starter in last week's win over the Bears. Abdullah still played only 43% of Detroit's snaps, managed 69 total yards on 17 touches, and fumbled again in the third quarter, this time recovering his own loose ball. Abdullah has proven to be a shaky flex option as a rookie, and things aren't necessarily trending up. ... Theo Riddick saw more playing time after Abdullah's latest fumble, finishing with a 52% snap rate and 78 yards on ten touches versus Chicago. Riddick is a useful real-life player, but offers minimal flex appeal as a poor bet for weekly touchdowns. He's a low-end option in PPR leagues only. ... With Zach Zenner (ribs/lung) lost for the season, the Lions figure to try to restore Joique Bell as their between-the-tackles runner. Bell has looked entirely out of gas in his age-29 campaign, gaining 22 yards on 20 carries. He's perhaps worth a speculative pickup in 14- and 16-team leagues.
Stafford's target distribution this year: Calvin Johnson 59; Golden Tate 48; Riddick 36; Lance Moore 26; Eric Ebron 23; Abdullah 20; Tim Wright 9; Bell 5. ... Megatron went 10-83-1 when the Lions faced the Vikings in Week 2, piling up most of his production against struggling Vikings RCB Xavier Rhodes. With his schedule finally beginning to loosen up, Johnson deserves every-week WR1 fantasy treatment. ... Tate posted a 6-80 receiving line in the aforementioned Week 2 meeting, and has at least five catches in four of his last five games. Tate is a quality WR3 play in PPR leagues, and a low-upside, fringe starter in non-PPR. ... Even against a Vikings defense surrendering the ninth most fantasy points to tight ends, the smartest approach for fantasy owners to take in Ebron's return is to put him on a wait-and-see week as he returns from a two-week knee injury. Averaging under 45 yards in his four healthy games this year, Ebron is just barely a worthwhile TE1 even when he's known to be at 100%. Ebron's return will lessen the playing time and likely the production of third receiver Moore and fill-in tight end Wright.
Score Prediction: Vikings 23, Lions 20
Pittsburgh @ Kansas City
The 1-5 Chiefs go back home Sunday after a pathetic offensive effort in last Sunday's loss at Minnesota, wherein Kansas City was scoreless until a fourth-quarter field goal and screen-pass TD to Albert Wilson. Dating back to Week 5, the Chiefs have one touchdown on their last 19 drives. Now embarrassingly 2.5-point home dogs against the Landry Jones-quarterbacked Steelers, Kansas City's Week 7 team total is barely north of 21. ... Jamaal Charles "replacement" Charcandrick West played 69% of the Chiefs' snaps in his first NFL start against the Vikings, but managed 39 total yards on ten touches and lost a fumble, after which West was immediately benched. Knile Davis mixed in for six touches on 31% of the snaps. In Week 7, Kansas City's RBBC will take on a Steelers team that ranks top five in Football Outsiders' run-defense DVOA and is limiting enemy running backs to 3.51 yards per carry with zero rushing touchdowns on the year. ... Even against Pittsburgh's typically leaky pass defense, Alex Smith can be written off as a anything more than a desperate two-quarterback-league start. The Chiefs are going to struggle to score points in the post-Charles era, and No. 1 wideout Jeremy Maclin (concussion) is not expected to play.
Friday Update: Things appeared grim for Maclin when he failed to practice on both Wednesday and Thursday. ESPN's Ed Werder, however, is reporting that the Chiefs expect Maclin to play. Averaging 9.3 targets per game, Maclin is a no-brainer WR2 start against Pittsburgh's weak cornerback crew. Maclin's availability would boost Smith's outlook as a streamer and two-quarterback-league option, while diminishing expectations for the rest of Kansas City's pass-catcher corps.
Perhaps Maclin's expected absence will finally convince Smith and Andy Reid that Travis Kelce is a player worth featuring and scheming the ball to on offense. Pittsburgh is allowing the third most fantasy points in the league to tight ends, including the third most receptions and fourth most yards. Kelce makes for an interesting play in DFS tournaments with seemingly everyone on Antonio Gates this week. ... If Maclin is indeed unable to pass concussion protocol, the Chiefs will trot out Albert Wilson, Chris Conley, and Jason Avant in three-receiver sets. Conley is big (6'2/213) and fast (4.35), but has managed to secure just 7-of-18 targets this season. He would be the highest-upside dart throw among K.C. wideouts, but probably has the lowest floor. ... Wilson is a poor man's Kendall Wright at 5-foot-9, 202 with 4.43 jets. If Maclin is out and I'm wanting to start a Chiefs receiver, I'm going with Wilson against the Steelers. A second-year UDFA out of Georgia State, Wilson topped 50 yards in three of Kansas City's final four games last season and runs routes where ultra-conservative Smith is comfortable throwing the ball.
Barring a surprise return to the lineup by Ben Roethlisberger (knee) -- which does remain a possibility -- the Steelers plan to start Landry Jones against the Chiefs. Although Jones filled in admirably off the bench in last week's upset of Arizona, there is a much larger amount of data derived from college tape and preseason performance that suggests Jones is a better target for fantasy defenses than QB1 streamers. Jones looks the part standing in the pocket and can put plenty of mustard on throws, but he has Gabbertian tendencies when pressured. The Chiefs' D/ST is an underrated Week 7 play. ... Jones is still an upgrade on Michael Vick in that he is at least sometimes willing to push the ball outside the numbers, keeping defenses honest. This should assist Le'Veon Bell, who will remain Pittsburgh's offensive centerpiece regardless. Bell leads the league in runs of 20-plus yards (6) despite missing the first two games of the season on suspension. Le'Veon has handled at least 24 touches in each of his 2015 appearances.
Although quarterback play remains a major concern for Martavis Bryant's outlook, fantasy owners should be encouraged by his usage in last week's 2015 debut. The Steelers drew up an early end-round to Bryant, gaining eight yards, while Bryant's eight targets tied for the team lead and he logged 62% of Pittsburgh's snaps, more than "starter" Markus Wheaton (59%) and Darrius Heyward-Bey (28%). Bryant wasn't only running go routes; his 88-yard touchdown catch against the Cardinals came on a slant versus Tyrann Mathieu. Jones' under-center presence keeps Bryant in the boom-or-bust WR3 realm, but his upside is not diminished. ... The Chiefs have allowed a league-high ten receivers to clear 80 yards against them so far this season. That's the extent of the rosiness on Antonio Brown's outlook, unless Roethlisberger comes back. Brown was all but eliminated by Patrick Peterson in last week's game against Arizona, managing 24 scoreless yards on eight targets. He is at best a WR2 option with Steelers backups at quarterback. ... Heath Miller has operated as a blocker more than pass catcher in each of Pittsburgh's last three games. Expect that to remain the case on Sunday as the Steelers attempt to slow down Chiefs OLBs Justin Houston and Tamba Hali while trying to compensate for LT Kelvin Beachum's (ACL) year-ending loss.
Score Prediction: Chiefs 17, Steelers 13
Cleveland @ St. Louis
The Rams come off their bye as six-point home favorites in a game with a 42-point Vegas total. St. Louis' team total is 24 versus the Browns. ... Todd Gurley is a top-five RB1 start this week. Having totaled over 150 yards in each of his last two games while averaging 6.22 yards per attempt, Gurley has separated himself from St. Louis' early-season committee by handling 88% of the Rams' carries since halftime of Week 4. For perspective, current NFL rushing attempts leader Matt Forte has only logged 81% of the Bears' carries. Locked in as a workhorse, Gurley should eviscerate the Browns. Cleveland ranks 31st in run-defense DVOA and is permitting 5.19 yards per carry to running backs. DFS players should strongly consider pairing Gurley with the Rams' D/ST as a correlation play. ... Because they're very likely to run the ball voluminously and effectively on the Browns, the setup of this game perfectly suits the Rams' goals on offense. Expect game-managerial usage for Nick Foles, who hasn't cleared 200 passing yards since Week 1 and has thrown multiple touchdown passes in just 1-of-5 games.
Foles' target distribution on the year: Jared Cook 28; Tavon Austin 25; Kenny Britt 22; Benny Cunningham 19; Stedman Bailey 17; Gurley and Brian Quick 3. ... Cook hasn't cleared 50 yards since Week 1 and is scoreless over his last eight games dating back to 2014. ... Officially a regular on offense after being a part-time player his first two seasons, Austin logged an 82% snap rate in the two games before St. Louis' open date. He parlayed eight touches into 116 yards and two touchdowns in the first, but managed 28 scoreless yards on five touches in the second. Austin is a low-floor Week 7 flex option with some upside against the Browns. ... Britt's target totals through five weeks are 3, 4, 10, 1, and 4. He has goose egged in each of his last two games, despite playing the same amount of snaps as Austin. It would not be surprising if the Rams emerged from their bye giving Quick playing time at Britt's expense. ... Slot man Bailey has quietly been St. Louis' most consistent receiver in recent games, but Bailey only plays in sub-packages and the Rams may not use many sub-packages against the Browns if Gurley is able to dominate in heavier formations. Ultimately, none of St. Louis' pass catchers have bright Week 7 outlooks in a game where Foles may not have to throw more than 20 passes to get a win.
As six-point road dogs at the Edward Jones Dome, the Browns' team total is 18 points. This game lays out poorly for Cleveland's chances of generating offense against a Rams defense that seemingly plays faster on their home turf. ... St. Louis is most stingy against the pass, stymieing Aaron Rodgers, Carson Palmer, Ben Roethlisberger/Michael Vick, Kirk Cousins, and Russell Wilson to a combined 128-of-174 passing for 1,277 yards (7.34 YPA) and a 5:5 TD-to-INT ratio in its first five games. Despite an early-season bye, the Rams rank third in the NFL in sacks (19). Coming off a three-turnover game versus the similarly stout Broncos, Josh McCown is better viewed as a target for the Rams' fantasy defense than as a QB1 streamer. ... Recovered from a high ankle sprain, Robert Turbin made his Browns debut in last week's loss to the Broncos, playing 21% of Cleveland's offensive snaps and logging ten carries. While those numbers seem relatively insignificant in fantasy terms, the fact that the Browns' backfield may now become a three-way timeshare certainly has statistical implications. Isaiah Crowell went nowhere on his 13 touches. Duke Johnson finished at 12 touches while missing late-game snaps with what was feared to be a concussion. Johnson also got beat for a sack allowed in pass protection by Broncos ILB Brandon Marshall. Johnson has established himself as the best PPR bet of the trio, but ultimately this is a fantasy situation to avoid beyond desperate flex-play scenarios.
McCown's target distribution in Weeks 3-6: Travis Benjamin 45; Gary Barnidge 35; Johnson 25; Andrew Hawkins 22; Taylor Gabriel 17; Brian Hartline 11; Crowell 7. ... Seeing monster target totals of 10, 10, 12, and 13 over his last four games, Benjamin has settled in as an every-week fantasy WR2 regardless of matchup. Sometimes aggressive to a fault, Rams DC Gregg Williams' defense is prone to occasional coverage busts. 4.36 speedster Benjamin would be Cleveland's best bet to capitalize on a back-end breakdown. ... The Rams have historically played stout tight end coverage, in large part due to rangy, long-armed WLB Alec Ogletree's presence. Ogletree, however, fractured his ankle and fibula in Week 4 against the Cardinals. St. Louis promptly permitted a career-high six catches to pedestrian Packers TE Richard Rodgers in the very next game. Currently the No. 2 overall fantasy tight end behind only Rob Gronkowski, Barnidge is an every-week fantasy TE1 with an improved Week 7 matchup based on Ogletree's absence.
Score Prediction: Rams 24, Browns 17
Houston @ Miami
Seemingly sparked -- at least temporarily -- under interim coach Dan Campbell, the Dolphins return from a 38-10 road spanking of the Titans as four-point home favorites versus Houston. Miami's team total is just over 24 points. ... The most promising takeaway from Campbell's first game was a renewed commitment to the running game. Lamar Miller was fed relentlessly early, piling up 15 first-half touches and finishing with a season-high 21 after averaging under 12 per game prior to Miami's Week 5 bye. Ranked No. 21st in Football Outsiders' run-defense DVOA, the Texans have allowed 299 yards and five touchdowns on 74 carries (4.04 YPC) to opposing running backs over the last three weeks. This is an average to above-average matchup for Miller, who is trending back toward high-end RB2 value in the Dolphins' revised offense. ... Still, the best way for the Fins to build a lead Sunday may be through the air; the Texans' underachieving pass defense ranks 19th in DVOA and 27th in the league in sacks (9). It will also be missing RCB Kareem Jackson (ankle) against the Dolphins. Although Ryan Tannehill has ultimately had a disappointing start to the year, he has thrown multiple touchdown passes in four straight games and makes for an attractive streamer in favorable matchups like this.
Tannehill's target distribution after the bye: Jordan Cameron 8; Rishard Matthews 6; Jarvis Landry and Dion Sims 4; Miller 3; Kenny Stills 2; Greg Jennings 1. ... The Fins made an obvious effort to get Cameron going down the seams against the Titans, but he rewarded them with just 3-30-1 receiving, repeatedly failing to win in contested situations and letting two of his eight targets get intercepted. Cameron's heavy involvement still bodes positively as Miami faces Houston, which is yielding the tenth most fantasy points to tight ends. Cameron is a quality, if low-end TE1. ... Whereas Joe Philbin's staff played weekly games with Matthews' playing time, Campbell's staff made him a 90% player in Week 6. Matthews responded by corralling 6-of-6 targets for 85 yards, dusting Titans LCB Jason McCourty and RCB Blidi Wreh-Wilson both for 20-plus-yard catches. With three games over 80 yards to his name already this year, Matthews is an underrated WR3 option facing a Texans defense missing the aforementioned Jackson and dealing with multiple injuries at safety. ... Although his target total (4) was a season low, Landry played a team-high 94% of Miami's snaps coming off the bye and hit pay dirt on a 22-yard end-around run. Landry will do battle in the slot Sunday with Texans rookie Kevin Johnson. ... Stills got the Week 6 start over Jennings, but logged an underwhelming 40% snap rate and saw two targets. Jennings' playing time was reduced to 14%, while rookie DeVante Parker didn't play until garbage time of the blowout victory. Parker can be dropped in most 14-team leagues.
The Texans trek to Sun Life Stadium as four-point underdogs with a team total of just over 20 points. ... A Dolphins defense that appeared lifeless under Philbin and ex-DC Kevin Coyle suddenly came alive in last week's win over Tennessee, sacking Marcus Mariota five times in the first two quarters, wiping out the Titans' running game, and forcing four turnovers. New Dolphins DC Lou Anarumo effectively simplified Miami's playbook with the intent of "attacking" rather than "thinking." Although Brian Hoyer deserves credit for performing well in spot duty this season, he's going to be in a lot of trouble if the Dolphins' defensive line keeps playing to its talent level. Despite impressive to-date statistics, Hoyer is best viewed as a two-quarterback-league starter only and a dicey QB1 streamer. ... Miami's run defense has been up and down through five games, ceding big rushing lines to Alfred Morris (25-121), Chris Ivory (29-166-1), and Karlos Williams (12-110-1), while holding T.J. Yeldon (25-70) and Tennessee's backfield in check. This should not be viewed as an overly imposing matchup for Arian Foster, who has 51 touches and 230 all-purpose yards over his last two games. Foster is an RB1 every week.
Hoyer's target distribution this year: DeAndre Hopkins 46; Cecil Shorts 21; Foster and Keith Mumphery 12; Nate Washington 10; Chris Polk 8; C.J. Fiedorowicz 6; Garrett Graham 4; Jaelen Strong 3. ... Running routes on each side of the formation, Hopkins will get chances against both LCB Brent Grimes and RCB Jamar Taylor. Grimes has been as steady as ever, but rarely travels with opposing No. 1 receivers. Taylor is 84th among 110 qualified cornerbacks in PFF's coverage grades. Having drawn double-digit targets in every game this season, Hopkins is the top-scoring wideout in all of fantasy football. ... The Texans have ruled out Shorts (hamstring), setting up Washington for a potentially high-volume role as he returns from his own hamstring injury. Before going down, Washington saw eight or more targets in each of Houston's first three games. Washington is obviously not a sexy option as a 32-year-old journeyman, but he is a savvy route runner with some big-play chops. Particularly on the off chance Grimes does shadow Hopkins, Washington could pay dividends as a bye-filler WR3 in fantasy leagues.
Score Prediction: Dolphins 24, Texans 20
NY Jets @ New England
The so-far unstoppable Patriots offense gets its toughest test to date against the Jets' No. 1-ranked defense. As nine-point favorites in a game with a 48.5-point Vegas total, New England still has an attractive team total of nearly 29. ... The Patriots figure to attack the Jets' man-coverage, high-blitz-percentage defense with their usual up-tempo, quick-strike passing offense, getting the ball out of Tom Brady's hands quickly in an effort to negate New York's pass rush and ultimately tire out Todd Bowles' group. Expect a high-volume game from Brady flush with man-beating concepts like stacks, bunches, and motion designed to get Rob Gronkowski, Julian Edelman, and Dion Lewis free. ... Whereas the Pats' last three games arguably set up better for LeGarrette Blount, Lewis is more likely to dominate backfield snaps against the Jets. Lewis is capable of beating linebackers man to man and should be funneled the ball in space on quick-hitting routes. On the season, New York has limited opposing RBs to 299 yards and just one touchdown on 99 carries (3.02 YPC). Blount is more of a low-floor RB2 option this week. Quietly leading the Patriots in passing-game targets since their Week 4 bye, Lewis is locked-and-loaded RB1.
Brady's target distribution since New England's bye: Lewis 17; Edelman 15; Danny Amendola 12; Gronk 10; Keshawn Martin 4; Scott Chandler 3; Blount 1. ... Gronk's target totals (5, 5) have disappointed since the open date, but he could be the key to passing success against a Bowles-coached defense, which gave up huge sums of tight end production in Arizona due in large part to its reliance on blitzes that leave open the middle of the field. ... Edelman is averaging 11.4 targets per game and has seen double-digit looks in all but one week this year. Darrelle Revis' potential shadow coverage lowers Edelman's ceiling, but he should remain a high-floor option in season-long leagues. ... We could see a bit more than usual of Amendola against the Jets because he can beat man coverage in the slot. Amendola had a big game (7-105) in last Sunday night's win over Indy, another man-coverage team. While Amendola's usage is unreliable week to week, he is worth a look for PPR owners in bye-week binds. ... Brandon LaFell (foot, PUP) returned to practice this week and has a chance to play against the Jets, although he may need a week or two to get back into true football shape. LaFell's return would likely eliminate the playing time of Martin, who logged snap rates of 85% and 54% in Weeks 4 and 6. LaFell should be stashed in 12-team leagues.
The upstart, 4-1 Jets visit the Patriots as nine-point dogs with a team total under 20. This is a game that could get ugly for New York if OC Chan Gailey's offense can't stay committed to its rushing attack. ... The running game is indeed the way to beat New England, which ranks 29th in run-defense DVOA and has surrendered 467 yards with three TDs on 103 carries (4.53 YPC) to running backs. Chris Ivory enters this game ranked third in the NFL in rushing despite a missed game and an early-season bye. He's averaging over 130 total yards per game and 5.54 yards per carry. In front of Ivory, FB Tommy Bohanon's punishing lead blocks particularly stood out on game film in last week's drubbing of the Redskins. In last year's two Jets-Patriots games, Ivory amassed 160 yards and a touchdown on 32 runs (5.00 YPC). So long as the Jets don't let this one get out of hand early, Ivory should have success on a big workload. The possibility of negative game flow does give Ivory a worrisome floor. ... Ryan Fitzpatrick has faced a Bill Belichick defense seven times in his career, going 1-6 with a 13:17 TD-to-INT ratio. Fitzpatrick has thrown at least one pick in every game this season and becomes especially turnover prone when the Jets trail. Even as he returns from a strong effort against the Redskins, FitzMagic is better approached as a quarterback to attack with the Patriots' D/ST than as a reliable streamer.
Fitzpatrick's target distribution in Eric Decker's four games played this year: Brandon Marshall 39; Decker 26; Bilal Powell 11; Chris Owusu 9; Ivory 8; Devin Smith 6. ... Sitting on a four-game streak of 100-plus receiving yards, Marshall has been a target monster regardless of game script. Marshall is likely to be shadowed by Patriots CB Malcolm Butler, who stands 5-foot-10, 187 to Marshall's 6'5/229 and has allowed a touchdown pass in four of the Patriots' first five games. ... Decker has hit pay dirt in each of his four appearances this season, and would've had a far bigger Week 6 if not for two dropped passes and a 35-yard gain at the end of which Decker was tackled at the one-yard line. Whereas Marshall has been game-flow proof, Decker would be more likely to benefit if the Jets fell behind the Patriots, who lost No. 2 corner Tarell Brown (foot) to injured reserve last week. Decker's outlook may also improve slightly after third receiver Quincy Enunwa was slapped with a four-game suspension this week. Like Decker, Enunwa has been playing a ton of snaps in the slot. This year's No. 23 overall receiver in fantasy points per game, Decker is an underrated WR2 start against the Patriots.
Score Prediction: Patriots 27, Jets 20
4:05PM ET Game
Oakland @ San Diego
Back home after a near upset of the Packers at Lambeau, the Chargers host the Raiders as four-point favorites in a game with a 47-point Vegas total. San Diego's team total is strong at 25.5 points. ... Engineering a consistently high-volume and shotgun-based passing attack, Philip Rivers enters Week 7 leading the NFL in passing yards -- by more than 350 -- and as the No. 4 overall fantasy passer. Rivers is a top-shelf fantasy QB1 against an Oakland team that ranks 23rd in Football Outsiders' pass-defense DVOA and has surrendered multiple touchdown passes to the opposing quarterback in four of its first five games. Rivers' matchup is upgraded by the Raiders' loss of LE Justin Tuck (torn pec), a top-11 defensive end among 51 qualifiers in PFF's grades. ... This is another game that sets up better for Danny Woodhead than Melvin Gordon, and not just because Gordon was benched last week for fumbling twice against the Packers. Oakland has played stout run defense, holding opposing RBs to 413 yards and three touchdowns on 110 carries (3.75 YPC). The best way to attack the Raiders is via the pass, and Woodhead's obvious strength is the passing game, ranking third amongst running backs in receptions (27). Oakland is yielding an average of over six catches per game to enemy backs. ... Gordon has fumbled four times this year -- losing three -- and may begin losing early-down work to Branden Oliver. Still scoreless on the season, Gordon's yards-per-carry average stands at 3.83. He's reached the point of being virtually unusable in 10- and 12-team fantasy leagues.
Rivers' target distribution since Antonio Gates returned: Gates 27; Keenan Allen 25; Malcom Floyd 16; Woodhead 14; Gordon, Dontrelle Inman, and Ladarius Green 9. ... Gates' snap rate spiked from 57% in his debut to 76% in last week's loss to Green Bay. He's led the Chargers in targets in both games. Oakland is a sieve to tight ends, ceding receiving lines of 9-104-2 (Tyler Eifert), 5-88-2 (Crockett Gillmore), 6-105-1 (Gary Barnidge), and 11-83-1 (Martellus Bennett) in four of the first five weeks. With Allen nursing a hip-flexor injury, Gates is this week's No. 2 tight end play behind Rob Gronkowski. ... Although his effectiveness is a question mark, Allen is expected to play through his hip injury. By any measure, the Raiders have the NFL's worst secondary play with fantasy moneymaker David Amerson taking over opposite every-week burn victim LCB D.J. Hayden, and Neiko Thorpe entering in nickel sets. T.J. Carrie has been moved to safety. ... Floyd is coming off his most productive game of the season (5-95), but got 50 of his yards on a blown coverage by Packers FS Ha Ha Clinton-Dix on a third-and-long play. On the season, Floyd is averaging three catches for 52 yards per game. ... Stevie Johnson (hamstring) has resumed practicing and appears poised to play against Oakland. Johnson will primarily do battle with Hayden, who covers the slot in sub-packages. Johnson is a quality WR3 option in this favorable draw. ... The Chargers have kept Green involved amid Gates' return, but it's fair to question whether that might change with Johnson back, giving San Diego the ability to focus more on three-receiver sets and fewer two-tight end packages. Green is a risky TE1 streamer, albeit with some upside against the leaky Raiders.
As four-point road dogs coming off a Week 6 bye, the Raiders' team total at San Diego is 21.5 points. ... Benched in back-to-back second halves before the open date, Latavius Murray makes for an extreme-upside if risky Week 7 fantasy start against a Chargers defense permitting the most fantasy points in the league to running backs, including 5.43 yards per carry and nine all-purpose touchdowns through six games. With Packers backup James Starks (10-112-1) latest to join the list, San Diego has allowed a top-ten fantasy week to six different RBs this season. Concerns on Latavius include the Raiders' commitment to him as a feature runner and game flow that could affect Murray's workload if Oakland falls behind. ... Whereas Murray's matchup is gorgeous on paper, Derek Carr's looks a bit more mediocre against a Chargers pass defense that ranks 15th in DVOA. San Diego does have a 10:4 TD-to-INT ratio against, however, and has generated sub-par pass rush, ranking 20th in sacks (11). It should be noted that Carr enjoyed one of the best games of his career so far against Chargers DC John Pagano's defense in Week 6 last year, throwing four touchdown passes and torching San Diego on downfield shot plays. Carr's supporting cast is much better this season. In a game with sneaky shootout potential, Carr is an underrated streamer and is sure to go low owned in daily fantasy tournaments.
Carr's target distribution this year: Michael Crabtree 42; Amari Cooper 40; Murray 17; Marcel Reece 15; Mychal Rivera 12; Seth Roberts 11; Roy Helu 8; Andre Holmes 7. ... Working against Carr and his receivers is San Diego's stingy wideout coverage. The only three wideouts to have cleared 50 yards against the Chargers this year are Jeff Janis (2-79), Travis Benjamin (6-79-0), and Markus Wheaton (1-72-1). Working in Cooper and Crabtree's favor is the expected absence of FS Eric Weddle (groin), a field general in Pagano's defense. The best matchup in Oakland's pass-catcher corps goes to Crabtree, who is running most of his routes at left cornerbacks and will mainly take on LCB Brandon Flowers, San Diego's leakiest cover man. Cooper remains an every-week WR2, but on paper his Week 7 draw is tougher against feisty RCB Jason Verrett. Whereas Flowers is 107th among 109 qualified corners in Pro Football Focus' coverage grades with five touchdowns allowed, Verrett has allowed zero scores and is 24th in coverage.
Score Prediction: Chargers 27, Raiders 24
4:25PM ET Game
Dallas @ NY Giants
The Cowboys return from their Week 6 bye having made several lineup changes and as 3.5-point underdogs against the G-Men. Dallas' team total is 21 points. ... Although Joseph Randle may continue to make nominal starts, indications from media reports and those familiar with the team are that Christine Michael will get a legitimate chance to supplant Randle as Dallas' lead back after the open date. While Michael's true workload remains a mystery -- particularly in a game where the Cowboys project to trail -- his matchup is attractive on paper against a Giants team that began the year playing stout run defense, but has regressed recently. In its last two games, New York served up 255 yards and two TDs on 56 carries (4.55 YPC) to 49ers and Eagles RBs. And after the Giants' Monday night loss to Philadelphia, Michael will get them on a short week. C-Mike is a boom-or-bust flex option. ... Randle's role is murky after he managed 3.91 yards per carry and earned just a 41% snap rate in the opening five games. Randle has always been best utilized as a low-volume, change-of-pace runner. ... While the spotlight will be on more-ballyhooed Michael, Darren McFadden would stand a good chance of outscoring him this week should Dallas fall behind. Having replaced Lance Dunbar (ACL) as the Cowboys' pass-game specialist, McFadden led the backfield in snaps (43%) and total yards (76) when Dallas fell behind New England before the bye, racking up nine receptions. McFadden is firmly on the flex radar in PPR leagues and arguably has a higher floor than Michael, whose usage is much more dependent on the Cowboys staying competitive against the Giants and/or nursing a lead.
The Cowboys have turned to Matt Cassel over Brandon Weeden in hopes that Cassel will prove a more effective game manager while Dallas seeks to recapture its ball-control success. Beyond a strong offensive line, Cassel has scant talent around him with Dez Bryant (foot) not yet medically cleared for return. Cassel is 33 years old and on his fifth NFL team. Tony Romo (collarbone) is out until Week 11. ... Whereas Weeden seemingly played in a shell, the Cowboys are hopeful Cassel will be more aggressive in the intermediate sections and take some shots downfield off play action. Still, the lone Dallas pass catcher worth serious Week 7 fantasy-start discussion is Jason Witten taking on a Giants defense permitting the fifth most fantasy points in the league to tight ends, including an NFL-high 41 receptions. New York is vulnerable to the position due to its weak safety play and slow-footed linebackers. As Cassel continues to get up to speed in Dallas' offense following his September 22 acquisition from the Bills, Witten figures to serve as the journeyman's safety-valve target. ... Amid quarterback change in a theoretically run-devoted offense, you're on your own trying to forecast the likes of Terrance Williams and Cole Beasley's weekly outputs. Beasley runs higher-percentage routes close to the line of scrimmage and offers a higher PPR floor than Williams. Williams has more big-play ability, but will be at goose-egg risk with limited separation skills and a new face under center.
Coming off a blowout loss in Philadelphia, the Giants return home as 3.5-point favorites with a solid team total of 24.5 points. ... No longer able to play keepaway due to their shortage of offensive talent, the Cowboys' defense was exposed in its last three games. In Weeks 3-5, Matt Ryan, Drew Brees, and Tom Brady combined to complete 77-of-104 throws (74%) for 919 yards (8.84 YPA) and a 6:0 TD-to-INT ratio against Dallas. The Cowboys' personnel has improved with the returns of RE Greg Hardy, MLB Rolando McClain, and nickel DE Randy Gregory, but DC Rod Marinelli's unit remains extremely deficient throughout the secondary and vulnerable when it's forced to log heavy field time. Albeit not a top-shelf QB1 this week, Eli Manning is worth firing up as a top-ten quarterback play. ... The Giants' value-draining, three-way backfield continued to show no signs of going away in last Monday night's loss to the Eagles. Lead back Rashad Jennings handled a season-high 16 touches, but logged his usual 46% snap rate and hesitated on a critical fourth-down short-yardage run before getting thrown for a loss, and also lost a fumble, miscues that never sit well with coach Tom Coughlin. Andre Williams siphoned five carries and went nowhere. Even with the G-Men in catch-up mode, Shane Vereen touched the ball just five times and gained six yards on a disappointing 40% snap rate following his big Week 5. The Giants' RBBC needs to be avoided wherever possible.
Manning's target distribution over the last month: Odell Beckham 40; Rueben Randle and Larry Donnell 25; Dwayne Harris 19; Vereen 15; Jennings 12. ... Beckham has hit pay dirt four times through three career meetings with Marinelli's defense, which has gotten predictably poor play from LCB Brandon Carr and RCB Morris Claiborne this year. Both have negative PFF grades and are allowing passer ratings of over 100.0 on throws into their coverage. Despite entering with hamstring concerns, OBJ played all but two snaps in last Monday night's loss to Philadelphia, catching seven balls and scoring his fourth touchdown of the year. ... As complementary players in New York's passing game, Randle and Donnell have both been hit-or-miss fantasy options and will likely stay that way. Battling his own hamstring woes, Randle's tape was ugly against the Eagles. He clearly was not playing at full speed and finished with 44 scoreless yards on six targets. ... Donnell's three stat lines against Marinelli's defense dating back to last season are 3-21-0, 7-90-0, and 2-24-0. This year, Dallas is permitting the sixth fewest fantasy points to tight ends. ... Harris would become a fantasy asset if Beckham or Randle missed time, but as is he's a rotational slot receiver and no higher than fourth in the pecking order for targets. With both Beckham and Randle in the lineup on Monday night, Harris saw four targets and caught two passes for 18 yards. In coverage, Harris can expect to primarily see Corey White, who recently replaced ineffective Tyler Patmon as Dallas' slot corner.
Score Prediction: Giants 24, Cowboys 20
Sunday Night Football
Philadelphia @ Carolina
Pitting the 5-0 Panthers against 3-3 Philadelphia, Sunday night's game has a 46-point Vegas total with host Carolina favored by three. The visiting Eagles' team total is 21.5. ... I like the under on this game and will be avoiding most Philly players. Although Sam Bradford's box scores can continue to offer fantasy value based purely on volume -- the Eagles have run over 80 plays in back-to-back games and Bradford is eighth in the NFL in pass attempts -- his poor on-field play finally bubbled to the surface in last Monday's win over the Giants, resulting in three interceptions and a season-low 61.3 QB rating. The Panthers rank No. 3 in pass-defense DVOA, holding opposing passers to a combined 5:8 TD-to-INT ratio. As Bradford has ten turnovers in six games, Carolina's D/ST is a recommended Week 7 fantasy play. ... Despite Ryan Mathews' out-performance of him on the field, the Eagles have stayed committed to DeMarco Murray as their feature back. Handling RB1-caliber volume, Murray has 25 or more touches in back-to-back games, hitting pay dirt in both. Even against a Panthers defense limiting opposing RBs to 3.61 yards per carry, Murray's usage makes him a must-start in fantasy. ... Whereas a healthy Murray has re-asserted himself as Philadelphia's foundation runner, Mathews' touch totals have dipped to 5, 11, and 10 over the last three games. Mathews is merely an RB4 stash in need of another Murray injury to become start-able. ... In a similar boat to Mathews, Darren Sproles' touch counts the past three weeks are 4, 6, and 3. I'd expect to see Sproles' usage rise when the Eagles face defenses that predominately utilize man coverage. The Panthers play zone.
Bradford's target distribution this season: Jordan Matthews 56; Zach Ertz 34; Sproles 26; Murray 24; Riley Cooper 23; Nelson Agholor 17; Miles Austin 15; Josh Huff 14. ... Matthews' continued failure to produce big games in prime matchups is frustrating to say the least. Better viewed as a low-end WR2 than the WR1 he looked to be early in the season, J-Matt gets yet another good-looking draw in Week 7 against Panthers slot corner Bene Benwikere, to whom Pro Football Focus assigned a negative coverage grade in four of Carolina's first five games. The Eagles' banged-up group of rotating perimeter wideouts will have a tougher time against shutdown Panthers LCB Josh Norman and sturdy RCB Charles Tillman. It is worth noting that Matthews went 7-138-2 when the Eagles played the Panthers in Week 10 last season. ... Seahawks TEs Jimmy Graham and Luke Willson did well to exploit voids in Carolina's zone defense last week, combining for a 9-156 receiving number on 13 targets and winning contested balls against slow-footed safeties Kurt Coleman and Roman Harper. The Panthers gave up scant production to tight ends in their first four games, but their personnel always suggested they'd be susceptible to the position. A part-time player to begin the season, Ertz's snap rates have climbed to 63% and 87% over his last two games. With Martellus Bennett and Tyler Eifert on byes, Ertz is a top-ten fantasy option amongst tight ends this week. Ertz's matchup is boosted slightly by the absence of SLB Shaq Thompson (knee), whom the Panthers often use to cover the flats. Ertz could see another bump in usage with Agholor (ankle) not expected to play and Cooper's (knee) status in doubt.
Favored by three at home, Carolina has a team total of 24.5 against the Eagles. I'm banging the under on this game in what I expect to be a defensive slugfest. ... Cam Newton has shown signs of playing matchup-proof football, finishing as the overall QB4, QB3, QB14, and QB9 across his last four starts. Cam got very little going in Seattle last week before a pair of fourth-quarter touchdown drives, however, the second of which ended in a highlight-reel 26-yard TD pass to Greg Olsen. This week's matchup is even tougher against an Eagles team that ranks No. 5 in pass-defense DVOA and No. 2 against the run, and forced Newton into four turnovers on top of a whopping nine sacks when these clubs met in Week 10 last year. Cam has earned every-week WR1 treatment in season-long leagues, but my guess is he has a slower game than usual against a very underrated Philly defense that can dominate up front. ... Jonathan Stewart's fantasy owners should be encouraged after he scored on a pair of traditional goal-line carries against the Seahawks. He'll need easy TDs to pay off in brutal matchups like this. Eliminating rushing attacks, Philadelphia's dominant defensive line has held enemy RBs to zero touchdowns through six games and a 3.57 yards-per-carry average. Owners trying to start J-Stew this week will have to hang their hats on his workload and scoring potential. He won't gain many yards.
Newton's target distribution coming off the Panthers' Week 5 bye: Olsen 11; Devin Funchess 6; Ted Ginn, Ed Dickson, and Jerricho Cotchery 4; Corey Brown 3; Fozzy Whittaker 2; Stewart 1. ... Week 7 skepticism is advised on every Carolina skill player save Olsen, who is leading all NFL tight ends in targets per game (9.0) and will do battle Sunday night with a Philly defense yielding the seventh most catches in the league to the position. Olsen went 6-119 when the Panthers and Eagles played last season. ... Carolina maintained its four-way WRBC after the open date, playing Funchess on only 27% of the downs, Ginn on 71%, Cotchery on 39%, and Brown on 84%. While every now and again one of them will produce a decent game, I think we pretty much know at this point that trying to chase Panthers wideout points is a waste of time. Funchess, by the way, had a horrific day in last week's upset of the Seahawks, securing just 2-of-6 targets for 24 yards, and dropping three passes. Funchess has as many drops as catches this year (5).
Score Prediction: Eagles 17, Panthers 14
Monday Night Football
Baltimore @ Arizona
The Vegas total on Ravens-Cardinals is 48.5 -- second highest of Week 7 -- with Arizona listed as a 7.5-point favorite. Things obviously don't always happen like they're supposed to, but this is a game where the Cards should paste Baltimore with their passing game. Arizona's team total is highly attractive at 28 points. ... A Ravens defense that can't rush the quarterback and ranks 22nd versus the pass in Football Outsiders' DVOA has allowed top-eight QB1 weeks to Colin Kaepernick, Josh McCown, Andy Dalton, and Derek Carr. Baltimore has an 11:3 TD-to-INT ratio against and is allowing 8.2 yards per pass attempt, the NFL's fourth highest clip. Coming off a frustrating one-score, two-pick game at Pittsburgh, Palmer is a classic bounce-back target returning home in a beautiful matchup. He's my No. 1 quarterback play for Week 7. ... These were the Cardinals' running back playing-time percentages in last Sunday's loss to the Steelers: Chris Johnson 54%, David Johnson 32%, Andre Ellington 12%. Chris managed 45 scoreless yards on a team-high 15 touches, while David only touched the rock four times and Ellington had three. On Monday Night Football, Arizona's backfield will take on a Baltimore defense that has yielded just 3.54 yards per carry and two rushing touchdowns to opposing RBs through six games. Johnson is an every-week RB2, but his rotating backups are very tough to trust.
Palmer's target distribution over the last month: Larry Fitzgerald 37; John Brown 33; Michael Floyd 23; David Johnson 14; Jermaine Gresham 8; Darren Fells 7; Chris Johnson 6; Ellington 3. ... Permitting the second most fantasy points to wide receivers, the Ravens have coughed up stat lines of 10-227-2 (A.J. Green), 5-94-1 (Marvin Jones), 9-111-1 (Michael Crabtree), 7-109-1 (Amari Cooper), 5-102 (Anquan Boldin), 3-96-1 (Torrey Smith), and 6-83 (Travis Benjamin). All three of Arizona's wideouts are in plum Week 7 spots. ... The Ravens have especially struggled to stop the long ball, coughing up the NFL's third most 20-plus-yard completions and a league-high seven pass plays of 40-plus yards. It can't help that Baltimore lost FS Kendrick Lewis to a knee injury last week. This matchup plays directly into the hands of 4.34 burner Brown, who ranks third in the NFL in 40-plus-yard catches. ... It's difficult to say exactly which cornerback each Cardinals wide receiver will square off with Monday night because they all move around a fair amount, and Baltimore's secondary has experienced so many injuries and performance-related benchings that we can't be certain who'll be playing corner or where for the Ravens. We do know Fitz is currently the overall fantasy WR2, and an outstanding Week 7 play against one of the NFL's worst pass defenses. ... Floyd hit pay dirt for the first time this season in last week's loss to Pittsburgh, and narrowly missed on several other would-be touchdown chances. Floyd also established season highs in snap rate (75%) and targets (8). Nearing full-time participation in Arizona's high-octane offense again, Floyd is an underrated WR3/flex against the Ravens.
At the opposite end of the spectrum is Baltimore, which sports a team total of 20.5 and may struggle to get there, as the Ravens' offense matches up poorly with the Cardinals' defense. Very much capable of stamping out opposing rushing attacks, Arizona ranks No. 3 in Football Outsiders' run-defense DVOA and is holding opposing RBs to 3.72 yards per carry with just one rushing touchdown through six games. Where Justin Forsett might be able to pay RB2 dividends is in the passing game; Arizona is allowing the eighth most receptions to running backs, while Forsett is on pace for a career-high 62 catches. ... Considering all of their injuries, the Ravens have done incredibly well to rank ninth in the NFL in points scored and ninth in offensive yards per game under first-year OC Marc Trestman. I think the bottom might fall out on Baltimore's offense Monday night. A top-seven team in pass-defense DVOA, the Cardinals lead the NFL in interceptions (11) and permit the league's fifth lowest yards-per-pass-attempt average (6.5). Arizona's run-defense personnel is capable of rendering Baltimore's offense one dimensional, while Patrick Peterson's lights-out coverage is likely to put clamps on Steve Smith. Fantasy owners should be excited to play the Cardinals' D/ST and avoid Flacco at all costs.
Flacco's target distribution with Smith Sr. in the lineup this year: Smith 57; Forsett 27; Kamar Aiken 26; Crockett Gillmore and Marlon Brown 19; Maxx Williams 18; Kyle Juszczyk 11. ... Finally playing up to his reputation, Peterson holds a top-12 pass-coverage grade among 109 qualified cornerbacks in PFF's ratings while consistently shadowing enemy top wideouts. Most recently, Peterson held Antonio Brown to 24 yards on eight targets, while Martavis Bryant went berserk. Smith has earned every-week WR2 treatment in season-long leagues, but don't be surprised if he fails to pay off on Monday night. ... Owners in bye-week crunches should give Aiken a long look as a WR3 play. Recent No. 2 receivers to face Arizona include Bryant (6-137-2), Golden Tate (8-74 on eighteen targets), and Tavon Austin (6-96-2). While Aiken is not nearly as gifted as most of those players, there is ample reason to believe he could exceed expectations in this particular matchup. ... Gillmore went off in Week 2 against the Raiders, but has failed to top 40 yards in each of his other three appearances and has not seen more than six targets in any of his 2015 games. The Cardinals allow the fewest fantasy points in the league to tight ends.
Score Prediction: Cardinals 30, Ravens 13