9:30 AM ET London Game
NY Giants vs. Los Angeles
Vegas Projected Score: Giants 23.25, Rams 20.25
After finally getting their passing attack going in the second half of last week's win over the Ravens, the Giants head to London to take on an injured and ineffective Rams secondary that gave up last week's QB4 finish to Matthew Stafford. New York's inability to run the ball will continue to buoy Eli Manning's volume, while Odell Beckham enters another blowup spot after L.A.'s secondary resurrected Golden Tate (8-165-1) last week. I'm not quite ready to declare Manning all the way back, but he certainly offers upside in Week 7. That upside is entirely tied to OBJ's weekly performances, of course. As Beckham goes, Eli goes. ... Although the Rams’ run defense hasn’t been quite as stout lately due to up-front injuries, the Giants' running game remains a situation to avoid. Rashad Jennings retook lead back duties against the Ravens, but he managed 35 yards on 13 touches and did more to block the fantasy viability of previous PPR asset Bobby Rainey than carve out his own value. Rainey finished with eight touches against Baltimore, while rookie Paul Perkins mixed in for four. On the season, the Rams rank No. 11 in run-defense DVOA and are allowing just 4.3 catches per game to running backs. They are also getting back DE Robert Quinn (shoulder). Going forward, there is no light at the end of the tunnel for the Giants’ backfield.
Manning's Weeks 1-6 targets: Odell Beckham 61; Sterling Shepard 41; Victor Cruz 33; Will Tye 22; Rainey 20; Larry Donnell 18. ... Rams top CB Trumaine Johnson (ankle) will miss at least one more game, setting up OBJ to feast on Troy Hill and E.J. Gaines. Los Angeles has allowed an NFL-high 94 receptions to enemy wide receivers, in addition to the fifth most yards (1,138) and touchdowns (8). Even when playing at their peak, Rams DC Gregg Williams' defenses have long been prone to back-end breakdowns and coverage busts. Assuming good health, I like Beckham to have another big game. ... Shepard has been held to 30 yards or fewer in three straight weeks and has just two red-zone targets, making him a poor bet for weekly touchdowns. He also has the toughest Week 7 matchup in the Giants' pass-catcher corps against serviceable Rams slot CB Lamarcus Joyner. ... Cruz's matchup isn't challenging, but he has topped 50 yards in just 2-of-6 games and is scoreless in five straight. I do like Cruz's chances of outscoring Shepard this week if you're trying to decide between the two. ... Donnell returned from his concussion in last week's win over Baltimore and drew a season-high seven targets, but he continued to share snaps (49%) with Tye (34%) and rookie Jerell Adams (16%) in the Giants' tight end committee. The Rams have allowed the NFL's seventh fewest receptions (21) and yards (213) to tight ends. Donnell is a low-floor, low-upside streamer.
Todd Gurley has consistently failed to capitalize on favorable matchups all year, but he gets another unimposing one against a Giants team that has played mediocre run defense by conceding a combined 77-326-4 (4.23 YPC) rushing line to opposing running backs over its last three games. Even with Benny Cunningham (hamstring) back in the lineup last week, Gurley drew four targets against the Lions and handled 18-plus touches for the sixth straight game. While expectations for Gurley's upside should have been scaled back several weeks ago, his usage is reliable enough to make Gurley an every-week RB2 in season-long leagues. ... Although the Giants can't rush the passer and have dealt with myriad secondary injuries, only 1-of-6 quarterbacks to face them has finished inside the top-12 fantasy passers. Just as erratic on the field as he is in the box score, these are Keenum's weekly fantasy finishes in chronological order: QB32 > QB28 > QB17 > QB8 > QB26 > QB2. I'm fine with Keenum in two-quarterback leagues, but I always have a hard time justifying him as a QB1 streamer.
Keenum's Weeks 1-6 target distribution: Tavon Austin 49; Kenny Britt 40; Lance Kendricks 31; Brian Quick 23; Gurley 20. ... A surprisingly popular Week 6 DFS play, Austin proceeded to produce 26 scoreless yards on six touches. Despite truckloads of targets, Austin has finished as a top-45 PPR receiver in just 2-of-6 games with one top-20 week. It should be noted that the Giants have struggled to defend slot receivers, yielding 4-78-1 to Jamison Crowder, 5-54-1 to Willie Snead, 8-65 to Cole Beasley, and 9-108 to Randall Cobb. ... Britt went off against the Lions (7-136-2) and has been a quiet floor play for an extended stretch, clearing 60 yards in 5-of-6 games and 7-of-9 dating back to 2015. Britt is usually an underrated WR3 option, although his Week 7 matchup is tougher against Giants RCB Janoris Jenkins, who has Pro Football Focus' No. 15 coverage grade among 111 qualified cornerbacks. ... Third receiver Quick has topped 50 yards in three straight games and set another season high in playing time (69%) in last week's loss to Detroit. Best viewed as a WR4/flex, Quick is worth a look in deeper-lineup leagues for owners in bye-week binds. ... I wish I would have taken Kendricks more seriously in last week's date with the Lions. He delivered 5-34-1 on a season-high eight targets and is back in play as a low-end streamer against a Giants defense that has allowed the NFL's 13th most catches to tight ends (30).
Score Prediction: Rams 23, Giants 20
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1:00 PM ET Games
New Orleans @ Kansas City
Vegas Projected Score: Chiefs 28.5, Saints 22
The Chiefs emerged from their Week 5 bye playing run-heavy offense, limiting Alex Smith to 23 dropbacks while finishing with 40 run plays in a 26-10 road rout of the Raiders. It is a formula Kansas City should execute again versus a New Orleans defense that can't stop the run, surrendering a combined 121-547-10 (4.52 YPC) rushing line to enemy backs. The Saints have allowed a whopping 11 all-purpose touchdowns to RBs in only five games. After pacing the Chiefs in touches (26) and snap rate (63%) coming off the bye, lead back Spencer Ware is a locked-in RB1 play against the Saints. Jamaal Charles logged only 11 touches on 23% of the Week 6 snaps and showed up questionable on Friday's injury report with swelling in his surgically-repaired knee. Charles is a dicey flex play in season-long leagues. ... Smith is still worth QB1 streamer consideration against a Saints defense that has given up top-12 quarterback finishes in 4-of-5 games, doesn't rush the passer, and trots out pre-season backups at every cornerback spot. While a run-heavy approach is clearly Kansas City's best and preferred means of attacking New Orleans, this is a game where the Chiefs should live in the red zone and provide Smith with touchdown-scoring chances. Smith ranks seventh in the NFL in red-zone passes per game (5.2), but he has converted only 5-of-26 attempts (19.2%) into touchdowns, a statistic that looks poised for some positive regression.
Smith's Weeks 1-6 targets: Jeremy Maclin 40; Travis Kelce 32; Chris Conley 27; Ware 19; Albert Wilson 17; Tyreek Hill 16. ... Maclin's increased slot role and almost nonexistent red-zone usage have been his biggest obstacles during a frustrating five-game start. Maclin has just two red-zone targets and zero targets inside the ten-yard line. In season-long leagues, we need to downgrade Maclin to a low-upside WR3 option until further notice. Maclin's Week 7 matchup remains appealing against a Saints defense that has yielded 80-plus yards to seven different receivers in five games. ... In its last two games, New Orleans gave up 4-61-1 to Hunter Henry and 9-117-1 to Panthers tight ends. While the Chiefs' run-first ways are a concern for Kelce's ceiling -- he wound up blocking on 64% of his Week 6 snaps -- this is certainly a plus matchup, and Kelce has maintained a stranglehold on red-zone targets with a team-high eight. ... Conley came up small (3-26-0) in last week's prime matchup with the Raiders and has cleared 50 yards in just 1-of-5 games while failing to hit pay dirt in all five. Even in favorable draws, Conley is nothing more than a Hail Mary dart throw as a vertical receiver in a decidedly non-vertical offense.
Whereas Drew Brees has posted top-five weekly finishes in 8-of-11 (73%) home games since the beginning of last season, he has finished inside the top-ten fantasy passers in just 1-of-9 (11%) away games during that stretch. Brees' weekly finishes through two road games this year are QB21, QB22 versus QB2, QB3, QB1 at the Superdome. Although the Chiefs have struggled to generate pressure and have some holes in the secondary, just 1-of-5 quarterbacks to face them has finished better than the weekly QB19. Brees is a Week 7 fade in DFS and an overrated season-long start. From a betting standpoint, I would hammer the under on this game’s 50.5-point Vegas total. Based on Kansas City’s run-game dominance, I’m not optimistic the Saints will have the ball much. I think the Chiefs’ D/ST is a sneaky DFS tournament play. ... The best matchup in New Orleans' offense goes to Mark Ingram against a Chiefs defense that has been pounded for a combined 116-551-3 (4.75 YPC) rushing line by running backs and lost RE Allen Bailey (pectorals) to I.R. last week. Ingram's continued loss of targets and snaps to Travaris Cadet and Daniel Lasco is frustrating, but Ingram offers a safe floor with touch totals of 19, 24, and 18 over his last three games. Ingram is a quality RB2 play.
Brees' targets with Willie Snead active this year: Brandin Cooks 33; Snead 25; Coby Fleener 24; Michael Thomas 23; Ingram 16; Travaris Cadet 15; Brandon Coleman 9. ... Cooks runs routes all over the formation and therefore won't get stuck in Chiefs LCB Marcus Peters' coverage. More concerning for Cooks are his home-road splits; he has scored just 4 of his 16 career touchdowns in away games and averages 52.3 receiving yards per game on the road compared to 83.2 yards at home. In season-long leagues, I'm viewing Cooks as a WR1 at home and a WR2/3 on the road. ... Snead will draw the least of Peters and gets the top matchup in New Orleans' pass-catcher corps against burnable slot CB Steven Nelson. Snead has seen target totals of 9, 8, 7 in his three healthy games this year and is a passable WR3 play. ... Thomas is likely to draw the most of Peters outside. Thomas' fantasy value is derived almost entirely from his touchdown-scoring prowess with a score in three straight games and the most red-zone targets on the Saints (6) but zero games above 80 yards. Thomas looks like a touchdown-or-bust WR3/4 option. ... Fleener gets the worst Week 7 matchup among New Orleans pass catchers against a Chiefs defense that stymies tight ends with SS Eric Berry's man coverage. Kansas City has yielded the NFL's second fewest receptions (15) and fourth fewest yards (162) to tight ends. Fleener's stat lines on the road this year are 2-29-0, 3-19-0 compared to 1-6-0, 7-109-1, and 6-74-1 at home.
Score Prediction: Chiefs 27, Saints 17
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Indianapolis @ Tennessee
Vegas Projected Score: Titans 25.25, Colts 22.75
DeMarco Murray should be this week's most popular high-priced DFS running back play against a Colts defense that has surrendered a combined 132-653-5 (4.95 YPC) rushing line to enemy RBs and busted Lamar Miller's five-week slump in primetime last Sunday night. Murray has touch counts of 21, 27, 32, 21 over his last four games and played a whopping 95% of Tennessee's Week 6 snaps with Derrick Henry continuing to fade away. Indy’s run defense is further weakened by the loss of stud DE Henry Anderson (knee). ... Marcus Mariota has posted consecutive top-five fantasy finishes keyed in part by increased rushing usage. Mariota has seven rushing attempts in back-to-back games, and the Week 6 emergence of Kendall Wright as a vertical presence added another much-needed dimension to Tennessee's offense. Entirely devoid of pass rush, the Colts rank 30th in the NFL in sacks (8) and have given up three straight top-16 fantasy quarterback weeks: Brian Hoyer, QB5; Blake Bortles, QB3; Brock Osweiler, QB16. I am viewing Mariota as a high-floor, high-upside fantasy start and very much playable in DFS. Mariota finished as the QB9 in last year's Week 3 start against Chuck Pagano's Colts defense. Among quarterbacks with at least 20 red-zone pass attempts, Mariota is No. 7 in red-zone completion rate (60.9%) and has the NFL’s second best red-zone passer rating (113.8) behind only Matthew Stafford (119.3) since the beginning of last season.
Mariota's targets with Delanie Walker in the lineup this season: Tajae Sharpe 32; Walker 29; Murray 24; Rishard Matthews 19; Andre Johnson 18; Kendall Wright 13. ... Sharpe has been held under 50 yards in five straight games and is in danger of losing playing time after coach Mike Mularkey admitted Monday the rookie has "taken a step back." Sharpe is droppable in re-draft leagues. ... This should be an easy bounce-back spot for Walker against a Colts defense that was creamed for 9-116-1 by Texans TEs last week. On the season, opponents are 33-of-38 for 397 yards and two touchdowns targeting tight ends against Indy. Walker is the squeaky wheel. ... Wright led the Titans in Week 6 targets (9) and receiving (8-133-1), but logged only 35% of the snaps -- not much different from his Weeks 4-5 playing time (33%). Wright is pretty clearly Tennessee's most talented receiver, but he will be a risky WR3/flex until we see his role expand. ... Johnson (55%) and Matthews (40%) also remained rotational receivers in last week's win over the Browns, with both out-snapping Wright but technically playing behind Sharpe. This is a four-way wideout committee that is tough to trust for consistent production and usage.
A Titans defense that overachieved in its first five games got shredded last week by rookie Cody Kessler for a surprise QB9 finish on the strength of 336 passing yards and two scores. Tennessee still sacked Kessler six times and hit him on a whopping 12 occasions, and poses a difficult draw for Andrew Luck. The Titans rank No. 10 in pass-defense DVOA and No. 5 in sacks (19). Still, Luck has been able to overcome tough matchups with sheer playmaking ability, and this game offers sneaky shootout potential with Tennessee likely to have offensive success against Indy's defense. For streamer purposes, the Titans' D/ST remains very much in play against a Colts offense that has allowed a league-high 23 sacks. The Colts will be without LG Jack Mewhort (triceps), a big concern versus Titans gap-shooting DT Jurrell Casey. ... Although Frank Gore is never a good bet for a truly big week, he is averaging 20.3 touches per game over the last month and has posted his most efficient rushing efforts of the season in back-to-back weeks. The Titans gave up little to the Browns' running game last week, but they have surrendered a combined 73-306-2 (4.19 YPC) rushing line to running backs over their last four games and from that standpoint look like a fairly unimposing foe for Gore. Gore is a high-floor, low-ceiling RB2/flex option every week. It should be noted that ineffective passing-game specialist Josh Ferguson played a season-low 11% of the Week 6 snaps.
Luck's targets with Donte Moncrief inactive for the past four games: T.Y. Hilton 41; Ferguson 18; Dwayne Allen 17; Chester Rogers and Phillip Dorsett 15; Jack Doyle 14; Gore 12. ... Hilton had his quietest game of the season (3-49-0) in last Sunday night's loss to Houston, but he still led the Colts in targets (9) and is a strong bounce-back bet against a Titans defense that got ripped up by Terrelle Pryor (9-75-2) in Week 6. Hilton will run most of his routes at Titans slot CB Brice McCain, who has been beaten for touchdowns by Pryor, Seth Roberts, and Anquan Boldin. ... Rogers is running most of his routes at right corners, where he would draw Titans top CB Jason McCourty. That may change with Dorsett (foot, hamstring) out. The Titans’ corner to attack is LCB Perrish Cox. Rogers is very much on the dart-throw radar. … As Allen exited last Sunday night's loss with a first-quarter ankle injury, Doyle took over as the Colts' primary tight end and logged 90% of the snaps, turning four targets into a 4-53-1 receiving line. Albeit a textbook dad runner, Doyle makes for an attractive Week 7 streamer and low-cost DFS punt based on opportunity and touchdown-scoring potential in a game where Titans DC Dick LeBeau's defense is sure to be much more concerned with containing the speed of the Colts' wideouts. At 6'5/254, Doyle is easily the Colts' most imposing red-zone option over Hilton (5'10/183), Rogers (5'11/185), and Quan Bray (5'10/183). We may see the Colts go heavy on two-tight end sets involving ex-basketball player Erik Swoope.
Score Prediction: Titans 27, Colts 23
Minnesota @ Philadelphia
Vegas Projected Score: Vikings 21.25, Eagles 18.75
Vikings-Eagles has the appearance of a low-scoring defensive slugfest in Sam Bradford's return to Philly. Although Weeks 5-6 opponents Matthew Stafford (QB11) and Kirk Cousins (QB13) were able to eke out productive fantasy performances against the Eagles on the strength of early-game red-zone scores, Stafford and Cousins were limited to 180 and 263 passing yards respectively and by no means shredded DC Jim Schwartz's defense. Bradford's weekly finishes through four starts as a Viking are QB12, QB24, QB16, QB9. Against an Eagles team that ranks No. 5 in pass-defense DVOA, Bradford is best viewed as a two-quarterback-league play only. ... The Eagles have sprung run-defense leaks since their Week 4 bye, yielding a combined 48-289-1 (6.02 YPC) rushing line to enemy backs over their last two games. I think Philly's run defense is better than those small-sample numbers suggest, but they do provide some Week 7 hope for Jerick McKinnon, whose chronological touch totals were 17 > 21 > 21 before the Vikings' Week 6 bye. McKinnon's fantasy results are destined for inconsistency behind a poor run-blocking line and with Matt Asiata vulturing goal-line and passing-game work, but McKinnon offers bankable volume and big-play ability when he can find space. I’m approaching him as a boom-bust RB2 option in Philadelphia. Asiata remains a touchdown-or-bust flex play.
Bradford's targets with Stefon Diggs in the lineup this year: Kyle Rudolph and Diggs 25; Adam Thielen 12; McKinnon and Charles Johnson 8; Cordarrelle Patterson 7; Asiata 4. ... Held out of Week 5 and rested during the Week 6 bye, Diggs should be near-fully recovered from his early-season groin injury. Indeed, Diggs was a full participant in Friday's practice. Although wide receiver matchups always look good on paper against the Eagles' sub-par cornerback corps, only three opposing WRs (Antonio Brown, Alshon Jeffery, Pierre Garcon) have dropped 70-plus yards on Philly through five games. Diggs remains a strong WR2 play in a game where he should not struggle to get separation. ... Rudolph's matchup is tougher against an Eagles defense that has allowed league lows in catches (10) and yards (102) to tight ends, though Philly did give up a 13-yard score and a 37-yard gain to Vernon Davis last week. Rudolph's usage has been reliable with seven-plus targets in 4-of-5 games. ... Vikings complementary receiver production is tougher to figure. Patterson played a season-high 61% of Minnesota's snaps in Week 5 before the bye, while slot man Thielen started in place of Diggs and went off (7-127-1) against the Texans. Johnson has been phased out. We may see more of first-round pick Laquon Treadwell coming off the open date. I want to see how things shake out in this wideout corps before making weekly fantasy investments into anyone behind Diggs.
Suddenly-struggling rookie Carson Wentz gets a brutal Week 7 matchup against the Vikings, who have held each of their last nine opponents to 17 points or fewer while shutting down Cam Newton (QB16), Aaron Rodgers (QB20), Eli Manning (QB26), and Brock Osweiler (QB25) all in a row. Minnesota's ability to generate overwhelming pressure is concerning for a Philly offense that is missing RT Lane Johnson (suspension) while allowing Wentz to absorb eight sacks and 14 hits against the Lions and Redskins in Weeks 5-6. Fill-in RT Halapoulivaati Vaitai was a disaster in last week's loss to Washington. Wentz is a weak bet in two-quarterback leagues. ... The Vikings also eliminate running games, holding enemy backs to a combined 88-309-1 (3.51 YPC) rushing line. The Eagles' backfield devolved into a four-way timeshare in last week's loss to Washington, with Ryan Mathews (9 touches), Darren Sproles (5 touches), Wendell Smallwood (5), and Kenjon Barner (2) all seeing work. Sproles looks like the best bet of the bunch against a Minnesota defense allowing 5.2 receptions and 54 receiving yards per game to opposing RBs, but Sproles has reached double-digit touches in just 1-of-5 games. Ultimately, it's hard to imagine trusting any Eagles running back this week.
Wentz's targets with Zach Ertz in the lineup this year: Jordan Matthews 25; Nelson Agholor 16; Ertz 13; Sproles and Dorial Green-Beckham 10; Josh Huff 6; Mathews 5. ... As Matthews mainly runs slot routes and Xavier Rhodes doesn't travel inside, J-Matt (6'3/212) will spend most of this game in the coverage of slot CB Captain Munnerlyn (5'9/192). With 65-plus yards and/or a touchdown in 5-of-5 games, Matthews is a high-floor WR3 play in a game where he should see more targets than usual because Philly is unlikely to run the ball successfully on Minnesota's front and the Eagles' perimeter receivers won't win against the Vikings' outside corners. ... Yet to clear 65 yards once through 18 NFL games, Agholor is safe to ignore against Rhodes and ageless LCB Terence Newman. ... The Vikings have checked Delanie Walker (3-42-0), Jared Cook (4-31-0), Greg Olsen (6-64-0), Will Tye/Larry Donnell (4-43-0), and C.J. Fiedorowicz/Ryan Griffin (6-69-0). This is a bad matchup for Ertz, who has drawn target totals of 3 and 3 since returning from injury two games ago. ... Green-Beckham appears to have earned a permanent spot in the Eagles' two-receiver sets opposite Agholor, logging 81% of the team's Week 6 snaps. While not playable against the Vikings, Green-Beckham remains on track to become a factor later this season. The Eagles play their next three games against the Cowboys, Giants, and Falcons.
Score Prediction: Vikings 20, Eagles 14
Cleveland @ Cincinnati
Vegas Projected Score: Bengals 27.75, Browns 17.75
A bankable target for streamer quarterbacks all season long, the Browns visit Cincinnati having yielded the NFL's second most touchdown passes (16) and multiple TD passes in 14 of their last 15 games. Each of the last four quarterbacks who have faced Cleveland -- Ryan Tannehill, Kirk Cousins, Tom Brady, and Marcus Mariota -- have thrown for three touchdowns. The Browns' secondary is further weakened by the year-ending loss of FS Jordan Poyer (kidney) and top CB Joe Haden's (groins) doubtful listing. Andy Dalton has been a fantasy disappointment in the absence of Tyler Eifert (back, ankle), but this is the best matchup he'll get in 2016. Eifert did practice on a limited basis Wednesday and Thursday and might be able to contribute as a spot player against the Browns. ... Still playing stout run defense, Cleveland has held enemy backs to a combined 157-605-5 (3.85 YPC) rushing line and limited DeMarco Murray to 65 yards on 21 carries (3.10 YPC) last week. Positive script may buoy Jeremy Hill's workload, but he is a touchdown-dependent RB2/flex option in a worse match than it appears. Hill (26%) has been severely out-snapped by Giovani Bernard (71%) over the past two games. ... Gio remains the higher-floor play in Cincinnati's backfield, but his committee usage and low TD probability always render him a low-ceiling fantasy option. Whereas the Browns have allowed the NFL's fourth most run plays (177), only four teams have allowed fewer running back catches (22).
Dalton's 2016 target distribution: A.J. Green 62; Brandon LaFell 37; Gio 35; C.J. Uzomah 29; Tyler Boyd 28. ... The Browns are a pass-funnel defense and will be without their top cover corner and free safety. All in on Green. ... LaFell is in play this week in leagues where you can start four or more receivers. He is playing over 90% of the Bengals' snaps and leads the team in red-zone targets (7) and targets inside the ten-yard line (3). As alluded to above, Cleveland is a complete sieve in the secondary. ... Boyd's playing time is up and he set a season high in receiving yards (79) in last week's loss to New England, but he has topped five targets just once in six games and has yet to hit pay dirt on the year. ... Uzomah failed (1-6-0) as a Week 6 streamer, but he played 71% of the Bengals' snaps and gets another great matchup against a Browns defense yielding league highs in catches (47) and yards (562) to tight ends. I still prefer Vernon Davis, Jack Doyle, and Cameron Brate over Uzomah this week. If Eifert finally plays, we can upgrade Dalton’s fantasy outlook and ignore Uzomah. Despite the gorgeous matchup, I would want to see Eifert handle a large complement of snaps before trusting him in fantasy after so much missed time and setbacks with his health. There is no chance Eifert would be anywhere near a full-time player in his first game back, something coach Marvin Lewis has stated publicly.
Continuing to perform above expectation as the Browns' now-locked-in starter, Cody Kessler took advantage of a Titans defense that sold out to stop the run in last week's QB9 finish. Kessler picked apart Tennessee in the short and intermediate range and hit Gary Barnidge on a 43-yard deep ball, showing an ability to threaten in the vertical game as well. Four of the last five quarterbacks to face the Bengals have finished as the QB13 or better (Ben Roethlisberger, QB13; Trevor Siemian, QB1; Dak Prescott, QB13; Tom Brady, QB3). While Kessler's matchup looks sneaky good on paper, the likely absence of or limitations on top playmaker Terrelle Pryor (hamstring) are a major concern for Kessler's fantasy outlook. ... Having lost difference-making LG Joel Bitonio (foot) for the season and regularly falling victim to negative game script, the Browns' interior rushing attack has fallen apart over the last two weeks. Isaiah Crowell gets another tough draw against a Bengals defense that has held running backs to a combined 86-282-1 (3.28 YPC) rushing line with the exception of Week 5 at Dallas. Cincinnati has given up the seventh most catches (33) to backs, suggesting this game sets up better for Duke Johnson. I'm approaching Crowell as a dangerously low-floor flex play against the Bengals, and Johnson as a serviceable RB2/flex in PPR leagues. Johnson has at least five targets in 5-of-6 games, while Crowell is averaging just 2.2 targets per game.
Kessler's Weeks 3-6 target distribution: Terrelle Pryor 38; Johnson 21; Gary Barnidge and Ricardo Louis 17; Andrew Hawkins 13; Crowell 9. ... Pryor's target totals in Kessler's three full games played are 14, 9, 13. Bengals CBs Dre Kirkpatrick, Adam Jones, and Darqueze Dennard all have negative coverage grades from Pro Football Focus. With four touchdowns over his last four games, Pryor has played himself into every-week WR2/3 treatment when healthy. Unfortunately, Pryor missed every practice this week with a hamstring injury and appears to be on the doubtful side of his questionable tag. ... The Bengals have given up the NFL's 12th fewest receptions (25) to tight ends, while Barnidge still has zero red-zone targets this year. If Pryor plays, Barnidge is a low-ceiling fantasy option due to his low touchdown probability. I would significantly upgrade Barnidge’s fantasy outlook if Pryor can’t go, however. Barnidge would become Kessler's No. 1 passing-game option and a legitimate cash-game play in DFS. ... A 4.43 speedster out of Auburn, Louis has earned the primary job in two-receiver sets across from Pryor, logging snap rates of 71% and 81% the past two weeks. Louis set season highs in targets (9), catches (5), and yards (65) in last week's loss to Tennessee. Ahead of more highly-touted Rashard Higgins and Jordan Payton on the depth chart, Louis is worth a look in Dynasty leagues. Louis isn’t long for the starting role, however, with Corey Coleman (hand) due to return shortly.
Score Prediction: Bengals 28, Browns 17
Washington @ Detroit
Vegas Projected Score: Lions 25.5, Redskins 24
A top-14 fantasy quarterback in four of the past five weeks, Kirk Cousins draws a juicy matchup at Ford Field, where the Lions have allowed a league-high 17 touchdown passes and rank No. 31 in pass-defense DVOA. Detroit has yielded multiple TD passes in 6-of-6 games, while 5-of-6 quarterbacks who have faced them have finished as the QB12 or better. Case Keenum dropped the QB2 finish on the Lions last week. Due to top passing-game weapon Jordan Reed's (concussion) continued inactivity, however, I like Cousins as more of a floor play than upside option this week. ... Coming off a shocking 16-135-1 demolition of the Eagles, Matt Jones also has a plus draw against the Haloti Ngata-less Lions, who rank No. 26 in run-defense DVOA and yielded a combined 98-512-0 (5.22 YPC) rushing line to opposing backs in Weeks 2-6. Jones has 16 or more touches in four straight games, and his 13 red-zone carries easily lead the Redskins over Rob Kelley (3) and Chris Thompson (2). Jones is an upside RB2 play against the Lions. Thompson logged a season-high 12 touches in last week's win over Philly, but totaled only 66 yards and is averaging just 44 total yards per game.
Davis logged 97% of Washington’s Week 6 snaps with Reed sidelined, showing big-play ability on a 37-yard reception and hauling in a red-zone score. Davis only saw four targets against the Eagles' tight end-stingy defense, a statistic that should rise in the best-case-scenario matchup for a tight end. The Lions have allowed a league-high seven touchdown passes to tight ends. They have yielded the NFL's seventh most receptions (33) to the position. Davis, Cameron Brate, and Jack Doyle are this week’s top tight end streamers. I think I am talking myself into Davis as the best bet of the group. … Pierre Garcon set season highs in targets (11) and receiving yards (77) in Reed’s absence last week and gets another great matchup against a Lions defense permitting the NFL's ninth most catches (82), eighth most yards (1,090), and third most touchdowns (9) to opposing wide receivers. I'm usually not a fan of Garcon in this space, but his opportunity and matchup can't be ignored. He's a strong WR3 option. … DeSean Jackson has lived up to his reputation as a boom-bust player all season, hitting in some favorable matchups and busting in others. This is another prime draw, but I'm not sure Jackson's outlook changes significantly because of it. The upside is certainly there. ... Jamison Crowder will continue to operate as the Redskins' slot receiver. His snaps reached a four-week high 77% in Reed's absence last week. The Lions have had all kinds of trouble defending the slot with Quandre Diggs mired in a sophomore slump.
Matthew Stafford has repeatedly gotten away with quality fantasy performances by throwing short touchdown passes. He runs into another tough matchup against the Redskins in Week 7. Ranked No. 11 in pass-defense DVOA, Washington has yielded just three passing scores over its last five games and hasn't allowed a top-15 fantasy quarterback since Ben Roethlisberger dropped the QB10 finish on them in Week 1. Dak Prescott (QB16), Eli Manning (QB18), Cody Kessler (QB24), Joe Flacco (QB19), and Carson Wentz (29) were stymied by the Redskins in the meantime. Detroit's pass dependency remains a major boon to Stafford's weekly outlook, but I think he is an overrated play in this spot. ... The Lions have shown very little ability to forge a successful running game regardless of which back they have used in a given week. Theo Riddick's (ankle) will again be inactive, while rookie inside runner Dwayne Washington (foot/ankle) finally appears set to return. Zach Zenner led the backfield in Week 6 touches (16) and snaps (77%), but his role will diminish with Washington back. Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press tweeted Thursday that he expects Zenner and Washington to “split the reps pretty evenly.” At least until Riddick returns at full strength, I'm putting a full fantasy fade on the Detroit backfield regardless of matchups.
Stafford's Weeks 1-6 targets: Marvin Jones 47; Golden Tate 41; Anquan Boldin 37; Riddick 32; Eric Ebron 25. ... Battling nagging injuries and getting caught up in a spread-the-wealth passing game, Jones has drawn descending target totals of 8 > 7 > 5 > 6 over the last month. Jones is also the likeliest Lions receiver to see the shadow of Josh Norman, who has PFF's No. 9 coverage grade among 112 qualified corners. Jones is a shaky WR2/3 play in this game. ... Capitalizing on Ebron and Riddick's inactivity and a matchup with Rams second-year UDFA corner Troy Hill, Tate (8-165-1) finally came to life in Week 6. This week, Tate seems likely to run most of his routes at struggling Redskins RCB Bashaud Breeland. Riddick and Ebron's continued absences render Tate a respectable WR3 play. ... Taking on a bigger role with Jones playing poorly, slot man Boldin has four-plus catches in five straight games and he has scored three times during that span. While Boldin offers zero big-play ability -- he is averaging 8.4 yards per catch -- he is tied with Jones for the team lead in red-zone targets (6), and Boldin's four targets inside the ten-yard line rank second behind Jones' five. Boldin is probably going to bust if he doesn't score a touchdown, but his matchup is good against a Redskins defense that struggles to defend slot receivers, evidenced by Sterling Shepard (5-73-1), Eli Rogers (6-59-1), Cole Beasley (5-75), and Jordan Matthews' (3-75) solid games against them.
Score Prediction: Redskins 24, Lions 21
Oakland @ Jacksonville
Vegas Projected Score: Jaguars 24.75, Raiders 23.75
Hosting the sieve-like Oakland defense coming cross country for a 1pm ET affair, this looks like a now-or-never game for Blake Bortles, who has finished above QB15 in just 1-of-5 games and once again flopped (QB21) in last week's seemingly favorable draw against the Bears. The Raiders don't rush the passer and have allowed a league-high 28 completions of 20-plus yards, which theoretically plays to the theoretical strengths of Jacksonville's theoretically big-play offense. Based on his horrific to-date performance, Bortles can only be viewed as a boom-bust fantasy option with some long-shot DFS tournament appeal. Bortles’ outlook is worsened by injuries to LT Kelvin Beachum (foot) and RT Jermey Parnell (hip). ... The Jaguars' backfield returned to fantasy quagmire status in last week's win over the Bears. T.J. Yeldon logged 62% of the snaps to Chris Ivory's 40%, but was out-touched by Ivory 13 to 7, and Ivory punched in a one-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter. Even against a Raiders team that ranks 29th in run-defense DVOA, I'm not sure how you could put any trust in a Jaguars running back this week. Yeldon and Ivory are low-ceiling, low-floor flex options.
Bortles' Weeks 1-6 targets: Allen Robinson 47; Allen Hurns 38; Marqise Lee 30; Yeldon 25; Julius Thomas 21; Marcedes Lewis 11. ... The Raiders have allowed the NFL's sixth most catches (86) and a league-high 1,230 yards to opposing wide receivers. Much like Bortles, it's getting to be now-or-never time for Robinson, who has yet to clear 75 yards on the season. Likely to be low owned as much of the public chases Julio Jones, A.J. Green, and Mike Evans, Robinson is an attractive Week 7 DFS tournament play. ... Running most of his routes in the slot this year, Hurns' big-play potential is diminished and his volume has been wonky with target totals of 5, 10, 8, 4, 11 through five games. Even in plus matchups, Hurns is a borderline WR3 play in season-long leagues. ... Thomas' target totals are 5, 7, 5, 4. The good news is the Raiders have allowed the third most receiving yards (425) to tight ends. In theory, this should be an opportunity for Thomas to get off the schneid. On Thursday, I liked hearing that OC Greg Olson wants to get Thomas “more involved.” He is the squeaky wheel this week. ... One not-talked-about factor limiting the Jaguars' top-dog receiving production is the emergence of Lee as a contributor. He has four or more receptions in four straight games and led the team in Week 6 catches (6). For PPR owners in desperate spots, Lee is worth a look in leagues where you start four or more wideouts.
Derek Carr's Week 6 flop (QB28) can be attributed to the Chiefs' time-of-possession dominance (37:23) and Oakland's inability to move the ball into the red zone, where they did execute on their lone trip. The Raiders shouldn't run into similar problems against the Jaguars, who rank 29th in the NFL in possession time and don't look capable of running the ball down Oakland's throat like Kansas City did. Although Jacksonville has played solid pass defense overall this year, the Jags did give up top-ten fantasy finishes to Aaron Rodgers, Philip Rivers, and Andrew Luck, 21 straight completions to Joe Flacco, and over 300 yards to Brian Hoyer last week. Still the No. 6 overall quarterback in fantasy, I'm sticking with Carr as a solid QB1 play. ... Neither DeAndre Washington nor Jalen Richard separated himself during Latavius Murray’s (toe) two-week absence, and it now appears Murray will try to play against the Jags. This backfield will likely return to a fantasy value-less four-way RBBC with short-yardage specialist FB Jamize Olawale also involved.
Carr's Weeks 1-6 targets: Amari Cooper 60; Michael Crabtree 48; Seth Roberts 28; Clive Walford 21; Richard 17; Washington 13; Murray 11. ... Cooper will run most of his Week 7 pass routes at rookie RCB Jalen Ramsey, who started the season hot but gave up over 100 yards in Week 5 against the Colts and most of Alshon Jeffery's 7-93 receiving line last week. Cooper has nine or more targets in 5-of-6 games and over 120 yards in consecutive weeks. ... Crabtree gets a slightly tougher draw against LCB Prince Amukamara, whom Pro Football Focus has graded as the Jaguars' top cover corner. Amukamara is by no means a shutdown corner, of course, and Cameron Meredith (11-113) joined Jeffery in ripping up this Jacksonville secondary last week. Crabtree remains a solid WR2/3 play in season-long leagues. ... The Jaguars held Packers tight ends to 2-29-0 in Week 1, Chargers tight ends to 3-15-1 in Week 2, Ravens tight ends to 6-42-0 in Week 3, Colts tight ends to 3-26-0 in Week 4, and Bears tight ends to 6-36-0 in Week 5. Walford played only 53% of the Raiders' Week 6 snaps and can be ignored as a streamer.
Score Prediction: Raiders 27, Jaguars 24
Buffalo @ Miami
Vegas Projected Score: Bills 23.5, Dolphins 20.5
Winners of four straight -- all in convincing fashion -- the Bills visit Miami tentatively expected to be without LeSean McCoy, who is nursing a hamstring injury that beat writers say had him moving around "gingerly" during a Friday practice where McCoy himself admitted he did "very little." One beat writer told me he expects McCoy to either be inactive or active in a reduced role. Buffalo will likely turn to scrappy Mike Gillislee as its Week 7 lead back. Although he is not an exceptional talent, Gillislee benefits from an inherently productive Bills run-game unit engineered by a dual-threat quarterback with a strong run-blocking line. Gillislee has averaged 6.0 yards per carry through 11 games as a Bill and is functional or better in the passing game. Rookie grinder Jonathan Williams should be No. 2 through the running back rotation, and Reggie Bush third. Ranked No. 24 in run-defense DVOA and allowing an AFC-high 32.7 rushing attempts per game, the Dolphins present a great matchup for Gillislee as a plug-and-play RB2. Gillislee logged 24 touches on 65% of the snaps when McCoy missed Week 17 last year with an MCL injury. Even if McCoy is officially active for Sunday's game, I think Gillislee will be playable as an upside flex. … The outlooks for both Gillislee and Tyrod Taylor are enhanced by the Dolphins' year-ending loss of do-it-all SS Reshad Jones (shoulder), who was Pro Football Focus' No. 3-graded safety among 86 qualifiers. ... Taylor turned in his second top-12 fantasy finish of the season in last week's win over San Francisco and is averaging 50 rushing yards per game over the last month. The Dolphins have one of the NFL's weakest cornerback units and bring middling pass rush, ranking 16th in sacks (12). Taylor is a solid QB1 streamer who may take on more of a playmaking role with McCoy hobbled.
Saturday Update: CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora reported Saturday evening that "signs are pointing to" McCoy "at least playing in a limited role Sunday," and McCoy "is expected to be active." While McCoy will stay playable in season-long leagues if pre-game reports remain positive, this is shaping up as a situation to avoid in DFS beyond tournament dart throws. I still think there's a good chance Gillislee out-touches McCoy in Miami.
Taylor's target distribution with Sammy Watkins (foot) out for the last month: Robert Woods 30; Charles Clay 21; Marquise Goodwin 20; McCoy 15; Walter Powell 6; Justin Hunter 3; Gillislee 2. ... Woods spent Wednesday and Thursday in a protective boot, nursing an injured foot. Woods is listed as doubtful and almost certainly will not play. ... Clay has five catches in three straight games and will be leaned on more heavily in Woods' absence. The Dolphins are yielding the 12th most fantasy points to tight ends. It’s also a #RevengeGame for Clay, who began his career with Miami. Clay appears to be flying under the radar as a strong Week 7 fantasy play. ... Hunter played a season-high 58% of Buffalo's snaps in Week 6 and has scored a touchdown in consecutive games. I would expect Hunter and Goodwin to start in two-receiver sets with Walter Powell manning the slot. Against arguably the NFL's worst cornerback corps, Hunter is the best fantasy option of the group if you can stomach his goose-egg floor.
Fantasy outlooks are more bleak on Miami's side, where Ryan Tannehill faces a Bills team that has allowed a league-low three touchdown passes six games in. Against a far worse version of Rex Ryan's defense last year, Tannehill managed weekly finishes of QB19 and QB24. Dating back to November of 2015, Tannehill has thrown multiple touchdown passes in just 3-of-11 games. Tannehill is a poor two-quarterback-league play. ... The Bills have continued to play shutdown run defense, holding enemy backs to a combined 137-472-6 (3.45 YPC) rushing line and rendering Carlos Hyde (14-52-0) a Week 6 fantasy bust. Although Jay Ajayi was a hot waiver-wire pickup following last week's unforeseen 25-204-2 explosion against Pittsburgh, he is a risky RB2 bet in this matchup. I would also expect to see Arian Foster's role grow as he gets healthier coming off groin and hamstring injuries. Foster only played 16% of Miami's Week 6 snaps.
Tannehill's target distribution over the last month: Jarvis Landry 34; DeVante Parker 19; Kenny Stills 15; Damien Williams 9; Ajayi and Kenyan Drake 5. ... Landry posted catch totals of 8 and 10 in last year's two Bills meetings. Slot man Landry's weekly workload is solidified by the Dolphins' utter lack of a tight end depth chart, and he has caught at least seven passes in 5-of-6 games this year. ... Whereas Landry (6’0/205) will square off with diminutive Bills slot CB Nickell Robey-Coleman (5'7/169), Parker gets a tougher Week 7 draw on the perimeter against press-man CBs Ronald Darby and Stephon Gilmore. Ranked No. 2 in the NFL in sacks (20), Buffalo should be able to get a lot of pressure on Tannehill, limiting his ability to go deep. This looks likely to be another quiet game for Parker. ... Stills appears safe to ignore with target totals of 3, 1, 3 over his last three games.
Score Prediction: Bills 23, Dolphins 17
Baltimore @ NY Jets
Vegas Projected Score: Jets 20.75, Ravens 19.75
A top-15 fantasy quarterback in just 1-of-6 games so far this year, Joe Flacco gets his best matchup to date against the Jets' pass-funnel defense, which has allowed top-15 quarterback finishes in 5-of-6 games while giving up the second highest yards-per-attempt average (8.8) in football with a combined 13:2 TD-to-INT ratio against. If Flacco is going to have a big week this year, this is as good a bet as any to be it. Shoulder soreness kept Flacco out of Wednesday and Thursday's practices, but he participated fully on Friday and should be all systems go. ... Terrance West took further control of the Ravens' backfield in Week 6, logging season highs in snap rate (60%), touches (27), and targets (6). Rookie Kenneth Dixon mixed in for just three touches on 12% of the downs. West's matchup is inarguably difficult against a Jets team that ranks No. 5 in run-defense DVOA, but his usage is looking bankable at this point. West is a volume-based RB2 play in season-long leagues. His outlook gets an uptick with Jets DE Muhammad Wilkerson (ankle) not expected to play.
Flacco's targets with Steve Smith Sr. (ankle) out last week: Dennis Pitta 10; Mike Wallace 9; Breshad Perriman 8; West, Kamar Aiken, and Kyle Juszczyk 6; Dixon 2; Crockett Gillmore 1. ... Pitta managed 36 scoreless yards on his ten Week 6 targets but finally got red-zone love, drawing four targets inside the Giants' 20-yard line after seeing zero red-zone targets in Baltimore's first five games. The Jets have given up the NFL's seventh most receptions (33) and yards (390) to tight ends. Pitta looks like a high-floor fantasy investment this week. ... Wallace has drawn nine or more targets in three straight games and is Baltimore's safest bet to exploit a Jets defense that has allowed the league's second most 40-plus-yard completions (8). Wallace is an upside WR3. ... An intriguing Week 7 dart throw is Perriman, who established season highs in snap rate (67%) and targets in last week's loss to the Giants and has come up just short of several big plays early on. Perriman blazed an absurd 4.26 forty at his 2015 Pro Day and will square off with slow-footed LCB Darrelle Revis and RCB Marcus Williams, who went undrafted in 2014 after running 4.57 coming out of North Dakota State. ... Although slot man Aiken's playing time jumped to 78% in last week's absence of Smith, Aiken finished tied for fourth on the team in targets. Aiken also has a plus Week 7 draw, but the Ravens have shown no urgency to feed him the ball this season.
Desperate to get anything going on offense, the 1-5 Jets benched Ryan Fitzpatrick and are turning to Geno Smith, an erratic turnover machine with a career 57.9% completion rate and 27:36 TD-to-INT ratio. As the Jets' running game has hit the skids and the Ravens rank No. 1 in run-defense DVOA, Baltimore should be able to render New York's offense one dimensional and force Geno to throw. Even without OLBs Terrell Suggs (biceps) and Elvis Dumervil (foot), the Ravens' D/ST is an attractive Week 7 play. ... Bilal Powell (73%) continued to out-snap Matt Forte (38%) in last week's loss to Arizona and appears likely to do so again this week. Whereas the Ravens eliminate ground games, they have allowed the NFL's seventh most receptions (33) to running backs. Playing in virtually all third-down situations and whenever the Jets fall behind, Powell has out-targeted Forte 27 to 12 over the last month. It's hard to imagine starting Forte in fantasy at this point. Despite the increased playing time, Powell has barely paid dividends, either.
Brandon Marshall is in a spot similar to Odell Beckham's last week, offering immense target upside in a game where his offense simply has no shot at running the ball on Baltimore. Marshall's matchup will improve greatly if Ravens top CB Jimmy Smith (concussion) can't play. Beckham didn't blow up until after Smith exited last week's game. Geno’s insertion isn’t necessarily bad news for Marshall, who was targeted a whopping 18 times when Geno played almost all of the Jets’ November 1 game in Oakland last year. ... Quincy Enunwa has somehow been less effective and seen less volume in the absence of Eric Decker (shoulder) and should be benched in season-long leagues unless something changes. ... Seventh-round rookie Charone Peake came out of nowhere to draw ten targets in last week's loss to Arizona, catching five for 43 yards on 55% of the snaps. It was a likely byproduct of Marshall drawing Patrick Peterson's shadow. Peake and Robby Anderson are the Jets' Nos. 3 and 4 receivers.
Score Prediction: Jets 17, Ravens 16
4:05 PM ET Games
Tampa Bay @ San Francisco
Vegas Projected Score: Bucs 24.25, 49ers 22.25
Allowing an unruly 37 points per game over the past five weeks, the 49ers make for an ideal get-right opponent for Jameis Winston coming off his Week 6 bye. San Francisco has yielded top-12 fantasy quarterback finishes in four of its last five games and is allowing opponents to rack up 69.3 offensive plays per game, the league's third highest clip. I like Winston as an upside QB1 play in season-long leagues and a tournament option in DFS. ... The 49ers have permitted a 100-yard rusher in five straight games, from Fozzy Whittaker in Week 2 to last week's laughably predictable demolition by LeSean McCoy. The rushing line San Francisco has allowed to enemy running backs (155-839-9, 5.41 YPC) during that five-week stretch is downright comical. The Buccaneers showed a willingness to ride Jacquizz Rodgers hard in their Week 5 upset of the Panthers, giving him 35 touches on a whopping 93% of the snaps. This is Quizz Rodgers we're talking about here, but there is a legitimate case to be made for him as an RB1 play based on usage and matchup. Rodgers is severely underpriced on DFS sites and a cash-game lock there.
Winston's Weeks 1-5 target distribution: Mike Evans 60; Adam Humphries 31; Cameron Brate 28; Rodgers 10. ... Evans leads the NFL in targets per game (12) and gets another boost from the Bucs' loss of Vincent Jackson (knee). Last season, Evans saw a 5.2 target-per-game increase in the six games Jackson missed. Football Outsiders assigns DVOA ratings for specific positions and has the 49ers rated dead last against No. 1 receivers. Evans is cash-game viable in DFS this week. ... The Niners have also struggled against slot receivers, conceding stat lines of 8-164-1 to Doug Baldwin, 3-66 on 4 targets to Cole Beasley, 6-81-2 to Larry Fitzgerald, and 5-44-1 to Robert Woods over the last month. Bucs slot man Humphries should also see a boost in the absence of V-Jax, drawing more targets and playing more snaps. Humphries is worth a look in PPR leagues where you can start four or more wide receivers. ... The Bucs' new third receiver will be Cecil Shorts, an injury-riddled journeyman with zero fantasy appeal. ... Along with Jack Doyle and Vernon Davis, Brate is one of this week's top tight end streamers. Brate has played 79% of Tampa Bay's snaps over their last three games, drawing 21 targets. His five red-zone targets rank second on the Bucs behind Evans' six, and Brate leads the team in targets inside the ten-yard line (3). Brate has also flashed some big-play ability, hauling in a 15-plus-yard reception in every game this year. The 49ers are allowing the NFL's 11th most fantasy points to tight ends, including the eighth most yards (380).
As expected, Colin Kaepernick struggled with ball placement and decision making in his first start under Chip Kelly, but he found Torrey Smith for an (underthrown) 53-yard touchdown and showed explosiveness with his legs (8-66) en route to a fantasy QB15 finish. More will be asked of Kaepernick in the absence of Carlos Hyde (shoulder). Week 7 opponent Tampa Bay has allowed top-12 fantasy quarterback finishes in 3-of-5 games, the two exceptions being Case Keenum and Panthers backup Derek Anderson. Kap's running ability gives him a floor and this matchup gives him a ceiling. It may not feel comfortable, but Kap is very much in play as a QB1 streamer and should be locked into two-quarterback-league lineups. ... The Bucs have held opposing backs to a combined 130-482-6 (3.71 YPC) rushing line and only 3.6 receptions per game. They are also getting back dominant DT Gerald McCoy from a multi-week calf injury. Kelly has indicated the 49ers will replace Hyde with a three-man committee of Mike Davis, Shaun Draughn, and DuJuan Harris. More likely, the 49ers will lean on Kaepernick to key their rushing attack. 2015 fourth-round pick Davis would be the best option if you're forced to choose a 49ers running back this week. Draughn is the best bet for passing-game work.
Kap's Week 6 target distribution: Torrey Smith, Jeremy Kerley, and Quinton Patton 7; Davis 3; Vance McDonald 2; Rod Streater and Draughn 1. ... Smith has a volatile skill set and the 49ers' erratic quarterback play makes him even more volatile, but Smith's matchup is favorable against a Bucs secondary that has allowed nine touchdown passes to enemy receivers in five games, including stat lines of 6-94-1 (Demaryius Thomas), 8-88-1 (Emmanuel Sanders), 6-81-1 (Larry Fitzgerald), 5-82-1 (Tavon Austin), 5-80-1 (Mohamed Sanu), 4-66-1 (Julio Jones), 2-78-1 (Jaron Brown), and 2-53-1 (Brian Quick). Smith's big-play upside gives him fantasy appeal if you can live with his goose-egg-low floor. ... Slot man Kerley was predictably ineffective (2-12-0) with Kaepernick at the helm and isn't worth owning in 14-team season-long leagues. ... Patton has played in 42 NFL games and has never gone above 70 receiving yards. He's gone above 60 once. ... McDonald (49%) continued to share playing time with Garrett Celek (44%) in Week 6 and has no value.
Score Prediction: Bucs 30, 49ers 23
San Diego @ Atlanta
Vegas Projected Score: Falcons 30, Chargers 23.5
Fresh after a ten-day layoff following their Thursday night win over Denver, the Bolts head to the Georgia Dome for a probable shootout. Philip Rivers has an enticing matchup against a Falcons defense that has allowed top-five fantasy quarterback finishes in 4-of-6 games, ranks 23rd in sacks (11), and has coughed up the NFL's third most passing TDs (14). ... Continuing to log extreme-volume usage, Melvin Gordon handled 27 touches on 79% of the Chargers' Week 6 snaps and appears set up for another solid game against an Atlanta defense that has given up a crisp 87-375-4 (4.31 YPC) rushing line to running backs over its last five games in addition to an NFC-high 52 receptions to the position this year. Gordon's rushing efficiency (3.39 YPC) leaves a lot to be desired, but his workloads don't. He has at least 17 touches in five straight games and leads the NFL in red-zone carries (27), carries inside the ten-yard line (13), and carries inside the five (7). That makes Gordon an every-week RB1 in season-long leagues.
Rivers' targets since Keenan Allen tore his ACL: Travis Benjamin 43; Tyrell Williams 36; Dontrelle Inman and Hunter Henry 25; Gordon 20; Antonio Gates 17; Dexter McCluster 8. ... I'm not sure we'll see Desmond Trufant shadow in this game because the Chargers' receivers move around so much and they lack a clear No. 1 option. Atlanta has yielded the NFL's third most completions of 20-plus yards (21), which plays to the strengths of big-play threats Benjamin and Williams. Both are upside WR2s. Williams continues to be the better bet for touchdowns, leading San Diego in red-zone targets (9) and targets inside the ten-yard line (4). ... Henry's snap rates are 83% and 68% over the past two weeks. He led the Chargers in Week 6 targets (8) and is a rare every-week TE1 as a rookie. The Falcons gave up 5-64-2 to Bucs TEs in Week 1, 10-74-1 to Raiders TEs in Week 2, 7-109-1 to Coby Fleener in Week 3, 8-95-1 to Panthers TEs in Week 4, and 7-97 to Seahawks TEs last week. ... Gates drew six targets on 47% of the snaps against the Broncos last Thursday. He hasn't topped 30 yards in a game yet this year and is entirely touchdown-or-bust. ... Inman has drawn fewer than five targets in 5-of-6 games and is waiver fodder in 14-team leagues.
Matt Ryan emerged from his brutal Weeks 5-6 road trips to Denver and Seattle with impressive QB15 and QB10 finishes and has ranked as the QB15 or better in all six games. In Week 7, Ryan draws a road-tripping San Diego defense that is missing top corner Jason Verrett, slot CB Brandon Flowers (concussion), and OLB Jerry Attaochu (ankle), and has conceded 300-plus passing yards and multiple touchdown passes in 4-of-6 games. Ryan is a top-two QB1 play in this surefire high-scoring affair. ... Devonta Freeman has out-touched Tevin Coleman 56 to 27 over the past three weeks. Coleman still logged 46% of the Falcons' Week 6 snaps and remains squarely in play as an RB2/flex against a Chargers defense that has conceded a league-high 54 receptions to running backs. San Diego has been stouter on the ground, holding opposing backs to a combined 115-440-7 (3.83 YPC) rushing line. Still, this is an up-tempo game where it's quite possible that both Freeman and Coleman eat. Freeman has the safer floor with 15-plus touches in 6-of-6 games and the higher touchdown probability with more red-zone carries (16, 11), carries inside the ten-yard line (8, 5), and carries inside the five (4, 2) than Coleman through six weeks.
Ryan's Weeks 1-6 target distribution: Julio Jones 50; Mohamed Sanu 36; Jacob Tamme 26; Coleman 23; Freeman 22; Aldrick Robinson 12. ... Julio is averaging ten targets per game over the past three weeks and now takes on the Verrett-less Bolts, who figure to counter him with Casey Hayward. Although Hayward has been excellent this year, he stands 5'11/193 to Julio's 6'3/220 and isn't even close to Jones by any athletic standard. I expect Julio to be a popular DFS play. ... Sanu caught a red-zone score in last week's loss to Seattle, but he has failed to reach 50 yards in five straight games. The likely fast-paced and high-scoring nature of this game does give Sanu some appeal in PPR leagues where you can start four or more receivers. Sanu seems to have overcome his early-season shoulder injury, logging 78% of Atlanta's Week 6 snaps and a season-high ten targets. Sanu runs most of his routes in the slot, where Chargers slot CB Craig Mager has received a negative PFF coverage grade in 4-of-5 games. ... Tamme has drawn target totals of 4 > 2 > 3 the past three weeks, a concerning development for his streamer viability. Tamme was out-produced by No. 2 tight end Levine Toilolo (3-69-1) last week. San Diego has been bad against tight ends, but I'm looking elsewhere until/unless something changes.
Score Prediction: Falcons 34, Chargers 28
DFS Players: Chargers at Falcons 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.
4:25 PM ET Game
New England @ Pittsburgh
Vegas Projected Score: Patriots 27, Steelers 20
The Steelers played four weeks without Ben Roethlisberger (knee) last year, in them producing just 20.5 points per game. Landry Jones was abysmal in his Week 7 spot start, going 16-of-29 passing (55.2%) with three turnovers. Jones had a four-interception game this preseason. The Patriots are this week's top streamer D/ST. ... Le'Veon Bell still delivered in Ben's four missed games on yardage totals of 150, 127, 88, 137. Bell's scoring probability is reduced on a Jones-quarterbacked team that is unlikely to spend nearly as much time in the red zone, but Le'Veon should be the clear-cut focal point of the offense. From a matchup standpoint, I would not be surprised if Bill Belichick took an approach similar to his "Bullseye Gameplan" to harass Marshall Faulk in Super Bowl 36, hitting Faulk on every snap he took. Faulk still emerged from that game with 130 total yards, of course, and Le'Veon should remain a staple in all season-long fantasy lineups. He will be criminally low owned in DFS this week and makes for an intriguing tournament play there.
Expectations need to be scaled back significantly for the entirety of Pittsburgh's passing game with Jones under center. OC Todd Haley's playcalling is certain to be far less aggressive. Antonio Brown managed receiving lines of 5-42-0, 3-45-0, 3-24-0, 6-124-0 in Ben's four 2015 missed games and needs to be downgraded to a WR2/3. ... While Brown remains playable in season-long lineups, the Steelers' complementary pass catchers are not in an offense that will be much less efficient. Wholly reliant on Roethlisberger's deep-ball prowess, Sammie Coates has a scary-low floor without him. Jesse James was a touchdown-or-bust tight end to begin with and now is less likely to score. Eli Rogers is a part-time player who hasn't topped five targets since Week 1.
The QB1 and QB3 finisher in two games since returning from suspension, Tom Brady should make quick work of a Steelers team that ranks No. 21 in pass-defense DVOA and can't rush the passer, ranking 30th in sacks (8) and 27th in quarterback hits (25). I expect Brady and OC Josh McDaniels' plan to be to push the pace in no-huddle for the early part of this game and pour points on Pittsburgh before salting away the clock in the second half. ... In PPR leagues, James White has posted RB20 and RB6 weekly finishes since Brady returned, drawing 15 targets and logging 24 touches. The Steelers have surrendered the NFL's third most catches (37) and receiving yards (386) to enemy backs. ... LeGarrette Blount has handled touch totals of 18 and 15 in Brady's two games played, hitting pay dirt in both. Badly missing DE Cameron Heyward (hamstring) up front, Pittsburgh has been throttled for a combined 95-484-5 (5.09 YPC) rushing line by running backs over the last month and gave up a career game to Jay Ajayi last week. This is a #RevengeGame for Blount, who was cut by the Steelers in 2014 and is making his first trip back. My guess is this will be a "Brady Game" early that eventually turns into a "Blount Game." I like Blount as an RB2 play in season-long leagues and a high-upside DFS tournament option.
Brady's Weeks 5-6 target distribution: Julian Edelman 17; Rob Gronkowski 16; White 15; Martellus Bennett 13; Chris Hogan 6; Danny Amendola 4; Malcolm Mitchell 3; Blount 2. ... The Steelers benched slot CB Sean Davis in Week 6, inserting rookie Artie Burns outside and moving veteran William Gay to slot corner. They proceeded to give up 7-91 to Dolphins slot man Jarvis Landry. Edelman is running nearly half of his pass routes in the slot and should be able to bust his slump in this matchup. ... Full-steam ahead for Gronk and Bennett against a Pittsburgh defense allowing the NFL's seventh most receptions (33) and ninth most yards (370) to tight ends. It should be noted that Bennett's snap rates (98% > 79% > 69% > 56%) have been dropping for the last month with Gronkowski healthy. Bennett still has five or more catches in each of Brady's starts and makes for a solid low-end TE1 in season-long leagues. Bar none, Gronk is the best tight end play on the board this week. ... Hogan's target totals are 5 and 1 with Brady under center, and Hogan hasn't topped five targets since Week 2. While Hogan is a useful perimeter playmaker in the Patriots' offense, his low-volume usage suggests Hogan can only be viewed as a boom-bust WR3/flex.
Score Prediction: Patriots 30, Steelers 13
Sunday Night Football
Seattle @ Arizona
Vegas Projected Score: Cardinals 22.75, Seahawks 20.75
After a frustrating Week 6 game where Russell Wilson moved the offense efficiently against Atlanta but was "vultured" relentlessly by Seattle's running backs in scoring position, Wilson gets a tougher draw versus a Cardinals club that ranks No. 1 in pass-defense DVOA and No. 3 in sacks (19). Through six games, only two quarterbacks who have faced Arizona have finished above QB19. The silver lining is Wilson has historically played well against the Cardinals' man-coverage defense with QB6, QB16, QB1, and QB9 finishes in these clubs' last four meetings. I'm riding with Wilson in season-long leagues and viewing him as a tournament play in DFS. ... Christine Michael also gets a difficult Week 7 matchup against a Cardinals defense that has held enemy backs to a combined 57-143-1 (2.51 YPC) rushing line over the past three weeks. With touch totals of 21, 22, 23 over his last three games, Michael does offer a reliable workload in a game where Seattle's defense should keep the score close, allowing OC Darrell Bevell to keep feeding his explosive feature back. Passing-down specialist C.J. Spiller has yet to carve out a concerning role, logging just four touches on 23% of the snaps in last week's win over the Falcons. Michael remains a borderline RB1 play in season-long leagues.
Wilson's targets coming off Seattle's Week 5 bye: Jimmy Graham 9; Spiller 6; Doug Baldwin, Tyler Lockett, and Jermaine Kearse 5; Michael 3. ... Baldwin will run most of his routes inside versus Cardinals slot CB Tyrann Mathieu, who got dusted by Jeremy Kerley (8-102-1) in Week 5 before rebounding against Quincy Enunwa (3-42-0) in Week 6. Patrick Peterson's perimeter presence should still funnel action into the slot, improving Baldwin's chances of rebounding from last week's 4-31-0 clunker versus Desmond Trufant, who chased him inside. Baldwin is a solid WR2 play this week. ... Lockett's snap rate jumped to 64% coming off the bye, but he hasn't exceeded five targets in a game since Week 1 and will likely see Peterson for a large chunk of Sunday night's game. Lockett is a WR4 in season-long leagues until his usage and/or production rises. ... Kearse has zero 60-yard games and zero touchdowns on the year. ... Averaging 100.7 yards per game over his last three, Graham gets his toughest to-date challenge against a Cardinals defense yielding the NFL's third fewest catches (16) and second fewest yards (132) to tight ends. Still, the Seahawks have been very proactive about pushing targets in Graham's direction this year, treating him like a true No. 1 pass option. He should be able to overcome an unideal matchup.
Morphing into a power-run offense as acknowledged this week by coach Bruce Arians, the Cardinals attacked the run-tough Jets with a David Johnson-heavy approach in last Monday night's win, featuring an even 35:35 run-pass balance with Johnson as the offensive focal point. Johnson gets another theoretically tough matchup Sunday night against Seattle, which has limited running backs to a combined 96-316-2 (3.29 YPC) rushing line and just 4.2 catches per game. As has been stated in this space time and again, however, matchups do not matter for all-purpose usage monsters like Johnson, who has totaled 110-plus yards in seven straight games dating back to January's playoffs and leads the NFL with eight rushing scores. Johnson remains an elite RB1 in season-long leagues and a contrarian DFS tournament play as a potential Sunday night hammer. ... Short on velocity with limitations being placed on his volume, Carson Palmer simply isn't the same passer he was last year. He has finished as a top-ten fantasy quarterback in just 1-of-5 games this season and now takes on a Seahawks defense that has yielded four touchdown passes through five weeks with only one multi-touchdown-pass effort allowed over its last 13 games. Out of practice on both Wednesday and Thursday with a hamstring injury, Palmer is nothing more than a two-quarterback-league option for Week 7. It seems like his body is breaking down.
Palmer's targets this season: Larry Fitzgerald 45; John Brown 40; Michael Floyd 31; Johnson 27; Jaron Brown 17. ... Slot receivers aren't getting it done against Seattle, which has held all of Jarvis Landry (7-59-0), Tavon Austin (5-50-0), Jeremy Kerley (2-24-0), Quincy Enunwa (6-60-0), and Mohamed Sanu (5-47-1) to 60 yards or fewer. Cards slot man Fitzgerald did drop stat lines of 10-130-0 and 6-55-1 on the Seahawks last year, and will avoid Richard Sherman on most of his snaps Sunday night. Still, I would reduce expectations for Fitzgerald in a difficult draw with the Cardinals more intent on playing run-first football and Palmer nursing injury. Fitz is a WR2/3 in season-long leagues. ... John Brown is dealing with pain in his legs stemming from a sickle-cell trait, a scary situation that has him listed as doubtful on the injury report. He won't play. ... Jaron Brown seems likely to play, but he is listed as questionable with a knee injury and may have to play with a brace on his leg. I'm passing. ... Injuries to the Browns should spike Floyd and J.J. Nelson's playing time on Sunday night. Sherman and RCB Deshawn Shead have been outstanding this season, however, and the Cardinals' passing game as a whole is tough to trust in a bad matchup with their quarterback struggling and ailing.
Score Prediction: Seahawks 23, Cardinals 20
Monday Night Football
Houston @ Denver
Vegas Projected Score: Broncos 24, Texans 16.5
Whereas the road-tripping Texans are coming off a home-game primetime win, the home-returning Broncos are following up back-to-back losses on 11 days rest following their Thursday night defeat in San Diego. Facing a quarterback whose strengths and weaknesses they know all too well, this is a get-right spot for the Broncos as a team and a home-run spot for their fantasy D/ST. It couldn't set up worse for Brock Osweiler. ... Coach Bill O'Brien should realize full well how badly this game could go for Osweiler. In an attempt to hide their quarterback, the Texans need to hammer Lamar Miller against a Denver run defense that has disappointed in some respects, ranking No. 16 in DVOA with the NFL's 16th most rushing yards (520) yielded to enemy backs and the fifth most receiving yards (303) allowed to the position. Miller has at least 22 touches in 5-of-6 games this year and can still be counted on as a volume-based RB2 play.
Osweiler's targets with Will Fuller healthy this year: DeAndre Hopkins 42; Fuller 40; Ryan Griffin 25; Jaelen Strong 20; Miller and C.J. Fiedorowicz 17. ... The Broncos have allowed just two enemy receivers to clear 60 yards six games in, and they haven't let a wideout score a TD since Week 1. This is a thoroughly brutal matchup for both Hopkins and Fuller. I am forced to start Hopkins in one season-long league and am worried about it. I'm benching Fuller where I own him. ... Hunter Henry and Antonio Gates combined for an 8-99-1 receiving line against the Broncos two Thursday nights ago, perhaps providing some hope that Fiedorowicz's hot run can continue. Fiedorowicz has drawn 20 targets over his last three games, scoring twice during that span. Overall, Denver has allowed the NFL's 15th most catches (30) and 14th most yards (347) to opposing tight ends. I prefer Cameron Brate, Jack Doyle, and Vernon Davis as Week 7 streamers over Fiedorowicz, but he is getting enough usage to at least warrant discussion in a game where the Texans will struggle to get completions to their wide receivers.
C.J. Anderson resumed dominating snaps (78%) and touches (14) over Devontae Booker (21%, 7) in Denver's Week 6 loss to San Diego, but Booker out-produced Anderson 46 to 37 on the ground on five fewer carries and coach Gary Kubiak stated this week that Booker deserves more involvement. While Anderson's superior blitz-protection skills will likely keep him atop the depth chart, I would not be surprised if this backfield became an even timeshare in terms of workload going forward. Anderson has failed to reach 3.8 yards per carry in five straight games. Booker is averaging 4.74 YPC on the season. While the matchup is favorable against a Houston run defense that ranks 25th in DVOA, Anderson is fast devolving into a low-end RB2/flex play. Booker is worth a look as a desperation flex in deeper leagues. ... Houston's defensive strength is versus the pass, where they rank No. 7 in pass-defense DVOA and No. 7 in sacks (16). Trevor Siemian has finished as the QB17 or worse in all but one of his five starts. Just a game-managing caretaker with a tough Week 7 matchup, Siemian is a weak two-quarterback-league option.
Siemian's 2016 target distribution: Emmanuel Sanders 37; Demaryius Thomas 33; Anderson 19; Jordan Norwood 14; Virgil Green 12; Bennie Fowler 11. ... Sort of a poor man's version of the Broncos defensively, the Texans have allowed just three 70-plus-yard games to opposing wide receivers through six weeks. Houston is yielding the NFL's eighth fewest catches (65) and seventh fewest yards (857) to wideouts. They did lose stud RCB Kevin Johnson (foot) for the season, which will certainly sting. Still, this is an unideal matchup for Thomas and Sanders, who are playable on talent alone in season-long leagues but would both be tough to project for big Week 7 games. ... Green's target counts through three starts are 5, 4, 3. He hasn't cleared 50 yards or scored a touchdown in any of them and is hard to take seriously as a streamer regardless of matchups.
Score Prediction: Broncos 23, Texans 13