Week 7 was a good week to get your heart stomped on. I know Halloween is still a few days away but man, what a horror show. It was a nightmare weekend for the Titans, who suffered one of the most devastating last-second losses you’ll ever see. Rather than play it safe by attempting what would have been the game-tying extra point, first-year Titans coach Mike Vrabel went for broke, opting for a two-point conversion with the Chargers clinging to a one-point lead late in the fourth quarter. Predictably, the two-point try came up empty as Tennessee dropped its third straight.
Turns out, the heartbreak was just getting started. Chicago began the early afternoon slate with a nail-biter against New England. With a chance to pull even on the game’s final play, Mitchell Trubisky uncorked a Hail Mary, which somehow wound up in the unwitting hands of Kevin White. However, his path to the end zone was obstructed by a sea of defenders as Chicago’s comeback bid fell inches short. Not to be outdone, the Ravens upped the ante with a truly gut-wrenching defeat at the hands of New Orleans later in the afternoon. John Brown nearly brought the Ravens back with a late touchdown but Justin Tucker couldn’t finish the job, choosing the worst possible moment to miss the first extra point of his seven-year career (his look of anguish said it all). Brett Maher can probably relate. The Dallas place-kicker was lined up for a game-tying 47-yarder Sunday at Washington but a ticky-tack false start whistle backed the Cowboys up five yards. Maher’s next attempt from 52 yards clanked off the uprights as the Redskins held on to beat their division rival 20-17.
Even gamblers took it on the chin last week. The over would have hit in Sunday night’s Chiefs/Bengals showdown had Kansas City opted for a gimme field goal in the closing minutes (the Vegas game total was 56.5), but instead they ran it on fourth-and-four from the five-yard line (a decision Al Michaels didn’t seem to appreciate). And anyone who had Atlanta covering the spread (4.5) Monday night was on tilt when New York tacked on a meaningless two-point conversion in the closing seconds (which came after the Giants went for two and missed on their previous drive).
I know many of you are still licking your wounds from last week’s carnage (I don’t even want to know what kind of hell you encountered in your various fantasy leagues), but hey, it’s a new week. Clean slate, right? Let’s bask in our collective pain by poring over my latest Power Rankings.
Quick aside—I doubt many of you will get behind this, but I truly hope the Red Sox make this as short a series as possible, so I can get on with my life. Having your team in the playoffs is exhausting and, from a work standpoint, not great for productivity. Thank god for coffee. Here we go.
1. Los Angeles Rams
Last Week: 1
How insane a year is Todd Gurley having? So far he’s been responsible for 88 total points (14 touchdowns, two two-point conversions), which is more than the Bills have scored all season (81). Aaron Donald devoured C.J. Beathard in Week 7, dropping the second-year quarterback for an astonishing four sacks. The reigning Defensive Player of the Year now has eight takedowns on the year, which leads the league.
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2. New England Patriots
Last Week: 2
James White, a player who was going in the 11th round of fantasy drafts this summer, leads all running backs with six touchdown receptions and also ranks second in both receiving yards (380) and catches (45). White’s workload is sure to increase with lead back Sony Michel (knee) facing a multi-week absence. After being eased in his first few games, the training wheels officially came off for Josh Gordon in Week 7. He broke out for 100 yards against Chicago while seeing the field on 95.3 percent of New England’s offensive snaps.
3. Kansas City Chiefs
Last Week: 3
The Chiefs’ offense faced zero resistance against the Bengals, shredding Cincinnati’s overmatched defense to the tune of 45 points in Week 7. Patrick Mahomes packed a wallop, setting career-highs with 358 yards through the air and another 45 on the ground. The former Texas Tech Raider has now strung together six straight 300-yard passing games. Meanwhile Kareem Hunt has come alive as a receiver, turning 10 catches into 160 yards and three touchdowns over his last two outings.
4. New Orleans Saints
Last Week: 4
The milestones keep piling up for Drew Brees, who recorded his 500th career touchdown pass in Sunday’s win at Baltimore. With the victory, Brees has now defeated all 32 NFL teams. After playing second fiddle to Mark Ingram before the bye, Alvin Kamara took back the upper hand by out-touching Ingram 19-14 in Week 7. The Saints bolstered their secondary by acquiring former first-round pick Eli Apple from the Giants on Monday, which likely takes them out of the running for Patrick Peterson. New Orleans had been Peterson’s preferred destination.
5. Los Angeles Chargers
Last Week: 5
West coasters and late risers paid a steep price by snoozing through lineup lock Sunday morning as the Chargers kicked off in London (9:30 AM ET start) without the assistance of lead back Melvin Gordon, who suffered a late-week hamstring injury. Luckily for fantasy owners, he’ll have the bye week to rest up. Tyrell Williams continued his recent surge by hanging 118 yards on the Titans in Week 7. That gives the fourth-year deep threat 236 yards and three touchdowns on just seven catches (33.7 yards per reception) over his last two contests.
6. Minnesota Vikings
Last Week: 7
Adam Thielen continued his stellar start with another momentous effort Sunday at MetLife Stadium, torching New York’s depleted secondary for 110 yards on nine catches while extending his touchdown streak to four games. Some readers may be too young to remember the last time Thielen went under 100 yards receiving. Dalvin Cook’s hamstring is barking but that’s no problem for the Vikes, who still have Latavius Murray to anchor their ground attack. Latavius has packed a lot into his last two games, compiling 241 yards from scrimmage with three touchdowns during that span.
7. Baltimore Ravens
Last Week: 6
Baltimore suffered its first home loss Sunday against New Orleans. Before his game-sealing miss, Justin Tucker had made 222 consecutive extra points. That streak stretches all the way to 293 if you include his college career at the University of Texas. John Brown took the lid off in Week 7, shredding the Saints’ hapless secondary for a season-best 134 yards on seven catches. He’s up to four touchdowns for the year, which is one fewer than he had in his previous two seasons combined.
8. Carolina Panthers
Last Week: 11
Superman enthusiast Cam Newton unleashed his inner Clark Kent in Week 7, slaying the Eagles with a fourth-quarter comeback for the ages. Devin Funchess stood tall with six catches for 62 yards in the victory. The contract-year wideout has been a low-key dominator, hitting pay-dirt in three of his last four games. It’s been slim pickings for Christian McCaffrey, who has totaled just 107 yards on 32 carries (3.34 yards per attempt) since his epic 184-yard eruption in Week 3. Greg Olsen’s touchdown Sunday was his first since last year’s opening-round playoff loss to New Orleans.
9. Pittsburgh Steelers
Last Week: 9
Another week passed without any sign of Le’Veon Bell, who continues to play high-stakes hide-and-seek. The Steelers haven’t needed him with second-year stud James Conner emerging as a legitimate workhorse. JuJu Smith-Schuster has followed up an impressive rookie year with an even better sophomore campaign, tallying over 100 yards receiving in four of his six appearances. Antonio Brown will take a four-game touchdown streak into Sunday’s battle with Cleveland, who the Steelers played to a tie in Week 1.
10. Washington Redskins
Last Week: 16
With top receivers Jamison Crowder (ankle) and Paul Richardson (knee, shoulder) both sidelined in Week 7, Washington leaned heavily on workhorse Adrian Peterson, who rumbled to 99 yards on 24 carries in the victory over Dallas. The aging bell cow has been a steady presence for the Redskins, rushing for 90 yards or more in three of his last four contests. Chris Thompson’s rib injury has created more opportunities for Kapri Bibbs, who has shown a nose for the end zone by scoring in two of his last three games.
11. Green Bay Packers
Last Week: 13
Injured wideouts Geronimo Allison (hamstring) and Randall Cobb (also hamstring) had the bye to get healthy and could be back for Sunday’s game in Los Angeles. The Packers have never been bigger longshots in the Aaron Rodgers Era, opening as 8.5-point dogs to the undefeated Rams. Green Bay won’t get much of a reprieve with upcoming matchups against the Patriots (Week 9) and Vikings (Week 12), both away from Lambeau Field. Only Kansas City’s Tyreek Hill has nabbed more receiving touchdowns (seven) than Davante Adams (six) this year.
12. Chicago Bears
Last Week: 12
Mitchell Trubisky turned on the jets in Week 7, scrambling for a career-high 81 yards in a loss to New England. Trey Burton gave his fantasy owners a shot of life Sunday by supplying a season-high 126 yards on nine catches. He’s been a touchdown fiend lately, finding the end zone in four of his last five outings. Among running backs, only Saquon Barkley has logged more receiving yards (287) than Tarik Cohen (280) since Week 4. That’s even more impressive when you consider Cohen had a bye during that stretch.
13. Philadelphia Eagles
Last Week: 8
The Eagles have already lost more games this year than they did all of last season, though it’s hardly time to press the panic button, especially in a division that includes the hilariously unthreatening Cowboys and Giants. Remember when the Jay Ajayi injury was first announced and we all scurried to the waiver wire in pursuit of next-man-up Corey Clement? Well, the joke’s on us. He rushed for just six yards on eight carries while seeing fewer touches than Wendell Smallwood in Sunday’s loss to Carolina. The Eagles blew a 17-point fourth-quarter lead in that game.
14. Cincinnati Bengals
Last Week: 10
The Bengals laid an enormous egg in Week 7, laying over and playing dead as the Chiefs steamrolled them on Sunday Night Football. Andy Dalton was a no-show, turning in a season-worst 148 yards on pathetic 15-of-29 passing (51.7 completion percentage). It was a rough week for linebacker/villain Vontaze Burfict, who was injured just days after being fined $112,000 for a cheap shot on Antonio Brown. Only Adam Thielen and Odell Beckham have logged more receiving yards than A.J. Green since Week 5.
15. Houston Texans
Last Week: 21
After snoozing through the opening month, Lamar Miller finally joined the party in Week 7, thundering his way to 100 yards on 22 carries in a win over Jacksonville. DeAndre Hopkins, the NFL’s leading touchdown-getter among wide receivers last year, has continued that trend this season, finding the end zone in three of his last four appearances. With Keke Coutee’s hamstring acting up, look for Tyler Ervin to see more slot reps when the AFC-South-leading Texans put their four-game winning streak on the line Thursday against Miami.
16. Detroit Lions
Last Week: 23
After a slow start, the Matt Patricia-led Lions are finally showing signs of life. Kerryon Johnson, who was a year old when Barry Sanders retired, looks like Detroit’s next great running back. The former Auburn Tiger buried the Dolphins in Week 7, exploding for 179 yards on a career-high 21 touches in a 32-21 victory. LeGarrette Blount isn’t the only vulture residing in Mo-Town. Tight end Michael Roberts has seen just four targets over his last two games. Miraculously, three of them have gone for touchdowns.
17. Seattle Seahawks
Last Week: 17
Seattle should be well-rested coming off last week’s bye. The surging Seahawks have won three of their last four thanks in huge part to the team’s resurgent running game. After finishing 23rd in rushing yards per game last year (101.8), the Seahawks have moved up to seventh (127.8) in that category this season. Tyler Lockett’s end-zone presence has been felt with five touchdowns, the same number he had in his previous two seasons combined. We’ll see what the ‘Hawks are really made of with tough games coming up against the Chargers (Week 9), Rams (Week 10), Packers (Week 11) and Panthers (Week 12).
18. Miami Dolphins
Last Week: 15
Wide receivers are dropping like flies in Miami. With Albert Wilson (hip) and Kenny Stills (groin) sidelined for Week 8, the Fins will be forced to use DeVante Parker, who has spent the year gathering dust on Miami’s bench while complaining about his so-far non-existent role in the team’s passing game (Parker’s agent has some spicy Adam Gase takes. Spoiler: he’s not a fan). I’m sure Texans fans won’t mercilessly boo Brock Osweiler when he returns to Houston on Thursday night. Why would they boo a chronic underachiever who hustled them for $37 million? It wouldn’t make sense.
19. Jacksonville Jaguars
Last Week: 14
So let me get this straight. Bologna-loving head coach Doug Marrone finally mustered the courage to bench Blake Bortles … then decided to give him another chance in Week 8? Come on, Doug. STICK TO YOUR GUNS. Sunday’s game in foggy London town will feature the Jaguars debut of Carlos Hyde, who lasted just six games in Cleveland before the Browns shopped him for a fifth-round pick. Monday’s release put a bow on the fruitful but ultimately short-lived Jamaal Charles Era in Jacksonville. Cue Sarah McLachlan.
20. Atlanta Falcons
Last Week: 20
After squeaking out a close one against the Giants, the Falcons will enter their bye on a two-game winning streak. Matt Ryan has been electric for Atlanta, leading the league in passing yards with 2,335. He’s compiled 13 touchdown passes with no interceptions over his last five games. Austin Hooper isn’t the flashiest tight end in fantasy, but he’ll get the job done. The third-year Stanford product has impressed with 33 catches, which ranks third at the tight end position behind only Zach Ertz (57) and Travis Kelce (38).
21. Denver Broncos
Last Week: 26
Vance Joseph got to keep his job for another week after slaughtering the Cardinals on Thursday Night Football. Emmanuel Sanders did the heavy lifting for Denver, chipping in with six catches for 102 yards and two touchdowns (one receiving, one passing) in the victory. The Broncos could be enticed to move Sanders at the trade deadline along with veterans Demaryius Thomas and Bradley Roby. In other news, Denver finally pulled the plug on off-field headache Chad Kelly, who was arrested for criminal trespassing on Monday night after having a few too many at teammate Von Miller’s Halloween party.
22. Dallas Cowboys
Last Week: 18
The Cowboys finally addressed their need at receiver by acquiring Pro Bowler Amari Cooper from Oakland on Monday. He cost a king’s ransom as Dallas had to part with a first-rounder in next year’s draft. Before the Cooper trade went down, Dallas had also pursued Kelvin Benjamin and DeVante Parker. Michael Gallup finally found the end zone in Week 7, scoring his first career touchdown in a loss to Washington. Ezekiel Elliott’s 33 rushing yards in that game were his fewest since Week 2 of last year when the Broncos held him to a career-worst eight yards on nine carries.
23. Tennessee Titans
Last Week: 19
Any residual optimism left over from the Titans’ 3-1 start evaporated Sunday with a loss to the Chargers at Wembley Stadium in London. Tennessee’s offense has disappeared during its three-game losing streak, accruing just two touchdowns during that span. Dion Lewis has largely been a disappointment since his arrival in Tennessee but that didn’t stop the former Pat from delivering a vintage performance in Week 7, ripping the Bolts for 155 yards on 19 touches. Derrick Henry’s touchdown Sunday ended a six-game scoreless drought.
24. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Last Week: 25
Despite losing the turnover battle 4-1, the Bucs still eked by with a three-point win over the scrappy Browns in Week 7. Jameis Winston did his best Cam Newton impression in that game, delivering a career-high 55 rushing yards on 10 carries. DeSean Jackson’s resurgence continued with another touchdown, this one of the rushing variety, in Sunday’s overtime victory. The veteran already has more touchdowns (four) than he did a year ago (three).
25. New York Jets
Last Week: 24
Sam Darnold showed his inexperience with a cringe-worthy performance against the Vikings in Week 7, spewing four turnovers while hitting his mark on just 40.5 percent of his passes (17-for-42). He’s been intercepted a league-high 10 times this season. Jermaine Kearse got into the Halloween festivities by turning into a ghost on Sunday, putting a goose egg on the stat sheet a week after going for 94 yards on nine catches. With Bilal Powell’s season in doubt, workhorse responsibilities will fall in the hands of Isaiah Crowell.
26. Indianapolis Colts
Last Week: 29
Marlon Mack put on a clinic in Week 7, roasting the Bills for 159 yards (126 rushing, 33 receiving) and two touchdowns in a 37-5 Colts victory (scorigami!). He’s out-touched teammate Nyheim Hines by a commanding 34-11 margin over his last two outings. T.Y. Hilton looked spry in his return from a hamstring injury, delivering his first multi-touchdown game since Week 9 of last season. In fashion news, Andrew Luck dropped his Civil War aesthetic for a Sherlock Holmes get-up in Week 7. At least he isn’t trying out the Mustafa look yet.
27. Cleveland Browns
Last Week: 22
For some reason, the Browns are physically incapable of playing within the confines of a 60-minute football game. An incredible four of Cleveland’s first seven contests have gone into overtime including Sunday’s loss to the Buccaneers. The Browns dealt Carlos Hyde so they could feature Nick Chubb and the rookie didn’t disappoint, handling 18 carries for 80 yards and a touchdown in his first career start. Stonehands David Njoku has already dropped seven passes this year, second-most in the league behind Baltimore’s Michael Crabtree (nine).
28. New York Giants
Last Week: 30
Two days after I penned his obituary, Eli Manning annihilated Atlanta’s jello-soft defense in Week 7, carving up the Falcons for a season-high 399 yards with most of that output going to Sterling Shepard (5-167-0) and Odell Beckham (8-143-1). Evan Engram barely made a dent in his return from a three-week absence, accumulating just two catches for 16 yards in the Monday night loss. Don’t think I didn’t notice Odell’s water hot takes. How can OBJ be from the same state as Bobby Boucher and hate water?? What a betrayal.
29. San Francisco 49ers
Last Week: 27
A week after blowing up for 126 yards on Monday Night Football, Marquise Goodwin went back into witness protection, contributing just two catches for 24 yards in an anonymous performance against the Rams. Matt Breida’s injury woes continued as the hobbled back logged just five carries in the loss to L.A. Breakout tight end George Kittle is already up to 527 receiving yards, which is more than he had all of last season. C.J. Beathard has committed an inexcusable 10 turnovers (seven picks, three lost fumbles) in his four starts this year.
30. Buffalo Bills
Last Week: 28
The Bills summoned Derek Anderson from the golf course, enlisting him to start in place of an injured Josh Allen Sunday at Indianapolis. He looked as rusty as you’d expect, gifting the Colts four turnovers in a 37-5 loss. With LeSean McCoy concussed, Chris Ivory took the backfield reins in Week 7, delivering a season-high 81 rushing yards on 16 carries. Charles Clay, who will earn the league’s fourth-highest salary among tight ends this year, will take a 17-game touchdown drought into Monday night’s divisional tilt with New England.
31. Arizona Cardinals
Last Week: 31
Mike McCoy continued his annual tradition of getting fired midseason, losing his job after the Broncos (who axed McCoy a year ago) boat-raced the Cards on Thursday Night Football. That leaves play-calling responsibilities in the hands of newly-installed offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich, who is most known for heroically playing through a broken leg in college. Patrick Peterson reportedly wants out of Arizona and could be dealt ahead of next week’s trade deadline. He’s garnered interest from the Eagles, Jets, Patriots and Saints, among others.
32. Oakland Raiders
Last Week: 32
It’s not often you see a train wreck as all-encompassing as the 2018 Oakland Raiders. Just in the last week they’ve had to navigate injuries (Marshawn Lynch), trades (Amari Cooper) and juicy locker-room drama (Derek Carr’s delicious CryGate controversy). In the absence of Lynch and Cooper, Oakland’s offense will now be propped up by the likes of Doug Martin and Martavis Bryant, who are nobody’s idea of world-beaters. At least the Raiders can start rebuilding with three first-round picks in next year’s draft.
Biggest Jump: Lions7
Biggest Drop: Browns, Eagles, Jaguars5