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Start ‘Em or Sit ‘Em

Week 7 Start 'Em or Sit 'Em

by Nick Mensio
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

Happy Week 7, everyone. Start ‘Em or Sit ‘Em is geared toward season-long leagues but can also be used for daily fantasy purposes, as these are players I’ll likely have some exposure to over the weekend.


Start of the Week: Marcus Mariota at Browns: Mariota missed Week 5 with a hamstring injury suffered midway through the Week 4 blowout loss to the Texans, but he ended up missing just one game and was back under center this past Monday night against the Colts. Things started slow, and Mariota clearly wasn’t 100 percent, as he completely avoided running out of the pocket. But Mariota did carve up the Colts by night’s end, throwing for 306 yards and a score, finishing as the QB13 for Week 6. He was able to avoid setbacks and is practicing in full for Week 7. The Browns have been a weekly eruption spot for quarterbacks. They’re 29th in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks and, along with the Patriots, have given up the most touchdown passes (14). Cleveland is dead last in Football Outsiders’ pass-defense DVOA, but third against the run. This is the definition of a pass-funnel defense. The Browns have yielded the QB4 (Jacoby Brissett), QB3 (Andy Dalton), QB14 (Josh McCown), and QB2 (Deshaun Watson) finishes over the last four weeks. Mariota is arguably better than all four of those quarterbacks. Tennessee’s implied team total of 26 points is the fifth-highest of Week 7 and the second-highest outside of the ATL-NE and WSH-PHI games on Sunday and Monday nights. Mariota will be popular in daily leagues and should be penned in season-long lineups.


Tyrod Taylor vs. Bucs: Just like last year, Taylor has significant home-road splits. In two starts at home this season, against the Jets in Week 1 and Broncos in Week 3, Taylor has completed 66.7% of his passes for 437 yards and a 4:1 TD:INT mark. He averages 8.09 YPA at New Era Field and even runs the ball more, with eight rushing attempts per game at home. On the road, against the Panthers, Falcons, and Bengals, Taylor completes 59.8% of his passes for 157.7 yards per game and a total of two touchdowns. In the two home games, Taylor was the QB6 and QB17. (He only scored one more fantasy point in the QB6 game than the QB17 one in what was a monster Week 3 across the league.) Coming off the bye week, the Bills are back at home against a Bucs pass defense that has allowed the second-most fantasy points to quarterbacks and is 31st in pass-defense DVOA. Carson Palmer just hung 283 yards and three touchdowns on the Bucs last week, finishing as a season-best QB4 for Week 6. He did it on just 22 pass attempts. Tampa Bay also allowed Eli Manning to finish as the QB4 in Week 4, and Case Keenum was the QB3 in Week 3. Keenum’s big game was also a road outing for the Bucs. Taylor is super cheap in daily leagues and is a strong streaming option in season-long formats for those who just lost Aaron Rodgers or have Deshaun Watson or Matthew Stafford on bye weeks. Taylor has a good shot at a top-10 fantasy finish.

Jared Goff vs. Cardinals: After a hot start to the year that saw Goff manage a trio of top-14 fantasy weeks, the sophomore has predictably struggled in back-to-back dates against the Seahawks and Jaguars in Weeks 5-6. Goff completed just 11 passes against Jacksonville in a win last week after throwing no touchdowns and two picks in Week 5 against Seattle. Things get a tad easier Sunday in London. Arizona has been getting picked apart by quarterbacks. The Cardinals are 28th in fantasy points allowed to the position and 24th in pass-defense DVOA. They’ve been really bad against the pass but ultra-stout against the run, checking in at No. 4 in run-defense DVOA. Picking on the Cardinals’ pedestrian corners not named Patrick Peterson has been the way to beat them. Ryan Fitzpatrick came on in relief last week for the Bucs to throw for 290 yards and three scores as the QB6. Dak Prescott and Carson Wentz have also had top-10 weeks against Arizona in the past month. The 47.5-point total for Cardinals-Rams is the third-highest of the week. There’s enough signs pointing to Goff being a streaming option in 12- or 14-team leagues.

Matt Ryan at Patriots: Ryan was listed in this exact same space last week coming out of the bye for a home game against a bad Dolphins team. He flopped badly with just 248 yards and a 1:1 TD:INT mark as the Falcons lost a second-straight home game to an AFC East opponent coming off a Week 4 defeat at the hands of the Bills. Ryan has been awful through five games and currently sits as the QB23 in fantasy points per game. 49ers rookie C.J. Beathard scored as many points in less than a full game last week against the Redskins as Ryan averages per week. Last year’s MVP is too good to be playing this badly, though surely new OC Steve Sarkisian’s offense is playing a big role in the struggles. Atlanta isn’t getting the ball to Julio Jones, and the Falcons’ only other real weapons are running backs Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman. It’s hard for Ryan to score points if Jones isn’t doing anything. Coach Dan Quinn said after the Week 6 loss that they have to get the ball to Jones more moving forward, and Week 7 against the Patriots presents a great get-right spot. New England is 32nd in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks and 30th in pass-defense DVOA. No team has allowed more yards or touchdowns through the air. Ryan will surely want to get up for this Super Bowl rematch, and Falcons-Patriots has the highest total of the season thus far at 56 points. Atlanta’s implied team total of 26.5 points is the second-highest of Week 7.

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Carson Palmer vs. Rams: Palmer is coming off his best game of the season, carving up the Bucs for 283 yards and three touchdowns on 22 pass attempts as the overall QB4 for Week 6. The Cardinals jumped out to a 28-0 lead at halftime and squatted on the ball with new No. 1 back Adrian Peterson much of the second half, giving him 26 carries. Prior to last week, Palmer had been averaging 49.4 drop-backs per game. Unusual circumstances like that four-touchdown lead led to Palmer not having to throw the ball as much, but the addition of Peterson also plays a role, so that Arizona doesn’t have to throw the ball a league-high 71% of the time like it did Weeks 1-5. This is still likely to be a pass-first offense, but Week 7 against the Rams presents another opportunity for the Cardinals to ride Peterson. The Rams are dead-last in fantasy points allowed to running backs and 17th against quarterbacks. They’re sixth in pass-defense DVOA and 22nd against the run in Football Outsiders’ metrics. With two dates against the Rams and one each with the Seahawks, Texans, and Jaguars over the Cardinals’ next six games, Palmer’s window of streaming appeal may have closed with his big game against the Bucs. Palmer has had just one top-10 fantasy performance.

Jacoby Brissett vs. Jaguars: Brissett has started five games this season and has three top-14 finishes with one top-five week. He’s been on the streaming map for the past few weeks. Brissett looked in the first half to be on his way to another big game this past Monday night in Tennessee. He was 12-of-19 at the break for 119 yards and a score. He should have had two touchdowns, but Donte Moncrief dropped an 18-yarder in the end zone. Brissett then came out of the locker room to go 9-of-18 for 93 scoreless yards as the Colts blew another lead. For as admirable as he’s filled in, Brissett isn’t a usable quarterback this week against Jacksonville. The Jaguars are No. 1 in fantasy points allowed, No. 1 in pass-defense DVOA, and have picked off a league-best 10 passes. Even at home, in the Lucas Oil Stadium dome on the fast track, it’s still really hard to make a case for sophomore Brissett. His rushing ability at least raises his floor but not enough with the Colts implied to score just 20.5 points in a game with a 44-point total that should be dominated by both rush attacks.

Philip Rivers vs. Broncos: After an 0-4 start, Rivers has guided the Chargers to back-to-back wins while throwing for 527 yards and four touchdowns against the Giants and Raiders. Rivers has been up-and-down through the first six weeks and now gets his second matchup with the Broncos. Week 1, in Denver, Rivers tossed three touchdowns, but threw for just 192 yards, while finishing as the QB11 for the week. That’s a respectable finish for Rivers, who has struggled badly in recent years against Denver. A year after finishing No. 1 in pass-defense DVOA and 21st against the run, the Denver defense has flipped a switch at 18th in pass-defense DVOA and No. 1 versus the run. Those numbers can be a bit deceiving; Denver is still 12th in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks, sixth in pass yards allowed per game, and No. 1 overall in total defense. It’s not a good spot for Rivers. This game’s 41-point over-under is the fifth-lowest of the week. Expect both offenses to run the ball.


Start of the Week: C.J. Anderson at Chargers: Anderson was a huge disappointment last week as a huge home favorite. The Broncos entered Sunday night as 12-point favorites but ended up losing handily to the Giants. Anderson got just nine carries, producing only 17 yards on them. He played a season-low 46.9% of the snaps with the Broncos trailing by double-digits much of the night. That should correct itself Sunday against the Bolts. This one has a 41-point total, one of the lowest of Week 7, and a one-point spread, suggesting it’ll be close with both offenses leaning on their run games. When these two teams met in Week 1, Anderson amassed 88 total yards on 21 touches. He has seen at least 20 carries in 3-of-5 games. No team has allowed more rushing yards to running backs than the Chargers, who are 20th in fantasy points allowed to running backs and 28th in run-defense DVOA. Opposing backs are ripping off 5.18 YPC against the Bolts. Marshawn Lynch averaged a season-best 4.8 YPC against the Chargers in Week 6; Wayne Gallman and Orleans Darkwa combined for 126 yards and a score on 19 carries in Week 5; and LeGarrette Blount had his lone 100-yard game of this season with 136 yards on 16 carries in L.A. in Week 4. Don’t bail on Anderson after his down Week 6. He’s likely to be extremely low-owned in daily leagues.


Frank Gore vs. Jaguars: The oldest active running back, Gore has been the definition of average in his age-34 season. He has rushed for at least 42 yards but no more than 57 in every game this season. Gore has been in the 40s in 5-of-6 games and saw between 10-14 carries in all five of those. He has found the end zone in 2-of-3 home games and is currently the RB25 in PPR leagues, averaging a hair over 10 fantasy points per week. A home date with the Jaguars looks like a potential blowup spot for Gore. Jacksonville is 21st in fantasy points allowed to running backs and 31st in run-defense DVOA. Only the Chargers have yielded more rushing yards to running backs. The way to beat this Jaguars defense is on the ground. For as bad as they are against the run, they’re as good against the pass, checking in at No. 1 in pass-defense DVOA and No. 1 in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks. Gore isn’t a true workhorse at this stage of his career, but he gets a consistent 12-15 carries a week and could flirt with 18-20 this Sunday, especially with preferred third-down and short-yardage RB Robert Turbin done for the year with an arm injury suffered late in Week 6. Gore is going to be trusted in the situations Turbin played in because rookie Marlon Mack has been dropping too many passes and can’t protect the quarterback. Gore is a solid RB2 for Week 7.

Tevin Coleman at Patriots: The New England defense has been so bad, and we need to find playmakers to attack it. Coleman fits that criteria. He’s very clearly the No. 2 back in Atlanta to top dog Devonta Freeman, but Coleman still gets enough touches to make things happen in the open field. He’s averaging 10.4 touches per game and has produced 295 total yards and a pair of scores. Nothing to write home about by any means, but this is the exact situation Coleman owners want to plug him into lineups. The Patriots are 29th in fantasy points allowed to running backs and have surrendered the second-most catches for the most yards and most touchdowns to the position. New England is 28th in DVOA against running backs in the pass game. Coleman can score from anywhere on the field. This game’s sky-high 56-point total is by far the highest of Week 7. Coleman scored a receiving touchdown against the Patriots in last season’s Super Bowl.

James White vs. Falcons: Over the past four weeks, White is tied for third with Le’Veon Bell in targets per game among running backs at 7.25. And on the year, White’s 33 grabs are second to Christian McCaffrey’s 37. White isn’t your traditional “running back” at all with more catches than carries (23), and he’s seen more than three carries in a game just two times out of six. While Mike Gillislee’s role has come into question a bit recently, White remains steady as the preferred option in the Patriots’ pass game. He’s currently the RB19 in PPR leagues. Atlanta is 19th in fantasy points allowed to running backs and 18th in DVOA versus pass-catching backs. We all know what happened last time these two teams met in the Super Bowl. White had the game of his life, posting a 6-29-2 rushing line, while catching 14-of-15 targets for 110 yards and a third score. A great deal of that came in comeback mode in the second half, but this one has huge shootout potential with a massive 56-point total and three-point spread. The Patriots’ implied total of 29.5 points is the highest of the week.


Tarik Cohen vs. Panthers: Box-score lookers will see that Cohen rebounded to score double-digit fantasy points last week against the Ravens, but a huge chunk of those points came on a totally fluky 21-yard touchdown pass to Zach Miller. It goes without saying that odds are it will be Cohen’s only touchdown pass of his career. Cohen also saw a season-high 14 carries but did nothing with them, averaging a pitiful 2.3 YPC. He was targeted just three times on a day when Mitchell Trubisky threw the ball only 16 times. The 15 touches are really nice for Cohen, but his snap rate remains in the gutter. He played just 32.5% of the plays last week and has been in on that exact same percentage of snaps over the past four weeks after playing 51.9% in Weeks 1-2. Jordan Howard has established himself as the focal point of the offense. Cohen is a 5’6/181 satellite back in an offense that has averaged 20.5 pass attempts in two games with Trubisky. The Panthers have struggled against pass-catching running backs, allowing the third-most receptions to the position, but Cohen isn’t on the field enough for him to be trusted as even a FLEX option in PPR formats. The 40.5-point total in Panthers-Bears is the fourth-lowest of Week 7.

Buck Allen at Vikings: Allen’s carry numbers have been all over the place. He has two games with 21 rushing attempts, and three with 10 or fewer. The Ravens refuse to commit to Allen as a lead back, instead preferring Alex Collins or Terrance West, and letting Allen work in the pass game. That’s all fine and dandy but it keeps Allen’s floor somewhat low. His catch numbers have dipped three-straight weeks. Allen now gets a real tough road spot against a Vikings defense that stamps out opposing running backs. Minnesota is No. 2 in fantasy points allowed to running backs and No. 5 in run-defense DVOA. Only three teams have allowed fewer receptions for fewer yards to running backs than the Vikings. Athletic linebackers Eric Kendricks and Anthony Barr have both received good marks from Pro Football Focus for their coverage. This same defense absolutely engulfed Packers RBs Aaron Jones and Ty Montgomery last week, holding the duo to 73 scoreless yards on 25 touches. The two backs combined to catch just two passes for three yards on seven targets. The Ravens’ 17.25-point implied team total is tied with the Giants for the lowest of Week 7.

Orleans Darkwa vs. Seahawks: Darkwa had a career night against the Broncos last Sunday, rushing for 117 yards on 21 carries. He was the first running back to run for 100 yards against Denver this season, a run defense that is No. 1 in Football Outsiders’ DVOA. It’s fair to wonder if the Broncos were taking the Giants too lightly after they lost Odell Beckham and Brandon Marshall to season-ending injuries the previous week. The G-Men installed a run-first attack with Eli Manning attempting a personal 10-year-low 19 passes. Darkwa has looked solid in limited action this season, averaging 5.7 YPC, which is far better than Weeks 1-4 starter Paul Perkins has done. Darkwa figures to remain the starter and was the hottest waiver-wire add this week among running backs. But I’m just not yet willing to trust him as a fantasy starter coming back home against a Seahawks defense that will be off its bye week with DL Michael Bennett rested after a Week 5 foot injury. Seattle is 11th in fantasy points allowed to running backs but a concerning 26th in run-defense DVOA. Carlos Hyde shredded them earlier in the year, but the Hawks bottled up Todd Gurley the game ahead of their bye. I’d prefer to see Darkwa do it again before committing to him as anything more than a low-end RB3.


Start of the Week: Terrelle Pryor at Eagles: Pryor has been a colossal fantasy bust to this point, currently sitting as the overall WR59 in PPR leagues, after being drafted as early as the third round of fantasy drafts this summer. He’s yet to top 70 yards in a game and has just one touchdown on a badly-defended deep ball against the Chiefs in Week 4. Since seeing 11 targets in Week 1, Pryor has averaged 4.5 targets per game. That’s just not cutting it, and owners are understandably frustrated as the offense seems to work through Chris Thompson and the tight ends. However, the Eagles have long defended tight ends and running backs well, while struggling badly with perimeter receivers. This is a breakout spot for Pryor, who continues to lead Redskins receivers in snaps. Philadelphia is 28th in fantasy points, 31st in yards, and 32nd in catches allowed to opposing receivers. The Eagles have allowed the fourth-most 40-plus-yards pass plays. No. 1 CB Ronald Darby remains out with an ankle injury, and fill-in top outside CB Jalen Mills has been getting whooped in coverage. Mills is currently Pro Football Focus’ No. 104 cover corner out of 112 qualifiers and has surrendered three touchdowns, tied for fourth-most among those 112 corners. The 48.5-point total in Redskins-Eagles is the second-highest of the week. Both offenses can light it up through the air, so this has some serious shootout potential. It’s starting to become now or never for Pryor.


Rishard Matthews at Browns: It was tough deciding between Matthews and Eric Decker on who to write up in this space. Both are strong plays, but I opted for the more consistent Matthews. Decker is coming off his best game of the season this past Monday night against the Colts, setting new season-bests in targets (9), catches (7), and yards (88). He’s still yet to find the end zone after being one of the most prolific touchdown scorers over the past few seasons. Matthews, on the other hand, was targeted a season-low four times versus Indianapolis, but still managed to corral all of them for a respectable 69 yards. He’s topped 50 yards in 3-of-6 games and was oh-so-close to scoring his second touchdown before falling out of bounds inside the five-yard line to set up DeMarco Murray’s short score. Matthews’ 42 targets lead the Titans, and he’s seen at least six in 4-of-6 games. Tennessee now gets a Cleveland pass defense that has been killed through the air. The Browns are dead last in pass-defense DVOA and dead last in DVOA versus No. 1 receivers. Top CB Jason McCourty is Pro Football Focus’ No. 1 cover corner out of 112 qualifiers and just checked DeAndre Hopkins, though Hopkins did score a touchdown. The good news for Matthews is McCourty doesn’t seem to travel and shadow No. 1 receivers, so he’ll see both of Matthews and Decker. Jamar Taylor covers the other side, and Taylor is PFF’s No. 93 cover corner while quarterbacks have a near-perfect 143.9 passer rating while targeting Taylor. The Titans are going to score points, and we want pieces of this offense. Matthews is a strong WR3 play with a decent floor on a team implied to score 26 points.

Robert Woods vs. Cardinals: Woods has reeled in at least five passes in 3-of-4 games over the past month and leads the Rams in targets with 37 on the year, averaging 6.2 per game. That’s not great volume at all, but Woods has topped at least 65 yards in three of the past four and is settling in as the top option on the outside with Sammy Watkins drawing blanket coverage from opposing No. 1 corners. That will again be the case on Sunday in London. Watkins will almost surely be shadowed by Patrick Peterson, while Woods gets to work against the likes of Justin Bethel and washed-up Tramon Williams. Bethel has started each of the first six games, but he’s been getting flamed in coverage, so coach Bruce Arians is considering a switch to Williams. Bethel has allowed a league-high six touchdowns in his coverage and is this year’s No. 104 cover corner at Pro Football Focus. Last season with the Browns, Williams was PFF’s No. 102 cover corner before getting released in the offseason. Both present plus matchups for Woods, and Arizona is 30th in fantasy points allowed to receivers. The Cardinals check in at 24th in pass-defense DVOA, but fourth against the run. The way to attack them is through the air at non-Peterson defensive backs. Both Woods and rookie Cooper Kupp are on the radar as WR3/FLEX plays in 12-team leagues with a 47.5-point Vegas total.

Nelson Agholor vs. Redskins: I very much recall completely roasting a guy over summer in Rotoworld’s first-ever Facebook Live mock draft who drafted Agholor as his WR3 in a 12-team league. Well, I’m the one eating crow right now. Agholor is currently the WR19 in PPR leagues through six weeks and already has more touchdowns (4) in six games than he had in his first 28 as a pro (3). Agholor is on pace to shatter his previous career-bests across the board and is third on the Eagles in targets. Running 86.3% of his routes out of the slot, Agholor will see a ton of Redskins CB Kendall Fuller on Monday night. Fuller is Pro Football Focus’ No. 6 cover corner but hasn’t seen anyone worth his salt, going up against guys like Trent Taylor, Albert Wilson, and Seth Roberts. Agholor faced these Redskins in Week 1 and caught a 58-yard touchdown on a busted play on his way to a final 8-86-1 line. Agholor was the WR8 that week. The Redskins are fourth in fantasy points allowed to receivers and 10th in pass-defense DVOA, but top CB Josh Norman (ribs) remains out as a huge loss. The Eagles will be the defense’s first real test sans Norman after playing the hapless 49ers in Week 6. In a game with a 48.5-point total, I’d be fine with Agholor as my WR3/FLEX.


T.Y. Hilton vs. Jaguars: Hilton was another huge Week 6 disappointment. Facing the Titans’ bottom-barrel pass defense, Hilton managed just one catch for 19 yards on four targets. He was invisible after the first quarter while Jacoby Brissett peppered Jack Doyle and Donte Moncrief with passes. Hilton has had two monster games, both coming at home in soft spots against the Browns (7-153-1) and 49ers (7-177), but has otherwise been shut down. Hilton has massive home-road splits throughout his career, and this Week 7 date will be on the fast Lucas Oil Stadium turf. However, the Jaguars bring their top-notch pass defense to town. Jacksonville is No. 1 in pass-defense DVOA and No. 2 in fantasy points allowed to receivers. Hilton figures to see plenty of A.J. Bouye and Jalen Ramsey on the outside. Both are top-seven cover corners at Pro Football Focus. Whenever Hilton moves inside to the slot, he’ll get a bit of a breather against CB Aaron Colvin, but Colvin has been good in his own right, checking in as PFF’s No. 48 cover corner out of 112 qualifiers. He’s yet to allow a touchdown in his coverage. This is a spot to avoid Hilton and Moncrief if your roster allows it.

Tyrell Williams vs. Broncos: Williams has had exactly one big game this season, and it came in a predictable blowup spot at home against the Eagles in Week 4, when Williams hung a 5-115-1 line on Philly with a 75-yard touchdown. In this other five games, Williams has averaged three catches for 34.4 yards and no scores. The Gazelle was a fantasy darling in 2016, but things have gotten crowded with the return of Keenan Allen and selection of first-rounder Mike Williams. With Mike making his season debut last week, Tyrell was the loser. He played just 67.7% of the snaps after being in on 90.4% of the plays Weeks 1-5. Mike’s snap count is expected to rise to around 20 this week against the Broncos, which is already a tough matchup. Tyrell managed a 5-54 line against Denver in Week 1, but the Broncos are still No. 7 in fantasy points allowed to receivers. Losing snaps and facing a tough pass defense in a game with a low total, it’s no thanks for me on Tyrell.

DeSean Jackson at Bills: Jackson has seen at least six targets in every game this season, which gives him a nice floor, but he has topped 40 yards just twice. He scored a very rare red-zone touchdown from four yards out last week against the Cardinals to buoy a 38-yard effort. Jackson now gets a Buffalo pass defense that is third in DVOA and coming off its bye week. The Bills are 12th in fantasy points allowed to receivers and have yielded just two touchdowns to the position. Buffalo has used first-round rookie CB Tre’Davious White to chase opposing No. 1 receivers, so he’ll likely see a lot of Mike Evans on Sunday, while Jackson works mostly against E.J. Gaines on the other side. White is Pro Football Focus’ No. 4 cover corner, and Gaines checks in at No. 28 out of 112 qualifiers. Gaines has yet to allow a touchdown, and his 41.0 passer rating against is fourth-best among qualified corners. Especially if Ryan Fitzpatrick is under center, Jackson is tough to trust this week. He’s fine for daily tournaments and touchdown-heavy leagues for his ability to break a long one at any moment, but there are better options in PPR formats than Jackson.


Start of the Week: Delanie Walker at Browns: After catching 13 touchdowns the previous two seasons with Marcus Mariota, Walker has yet to find pay dirt through the air through six weeks. He’s currently the TE11 in PPR points per game, and that is really buoyed by a rushing touchdown on a jet sweep against the Jaguars back in Week 2. Walker has topped 31 yards receiving just one time in the past four weeks. His two red-zone targets trail both Eric Decker and Rishard Matthews, who each have four. The Titans tried to get the ball to Walker in the end zone last week against the Colts, but Mariota was forced to throw it high into the stands. The Titans, after being No. 1 in red-zone touchdown percentage (72%) in 2016, are currently 25th in that category this year at 46.67%. But Week 7 offers a prime get-right spot. Cleveland is 31st in fantasy points allowed to tight ends and 31st in DVOA against the position. No team has allowed more catches to tight ends. Walker’s targets have been there at 6.5 per game, good for seventh at his position. The Browns have been so horrific against the pass that all important Titans pass catchers are in play as fantasy starters.


Hunter Henry vs. Broncos: There’s been a shift toward Henry at tight end for the Bolts. In Weeks 1-4, Antonio Gates played 59.3% of the snaps compared to 53.7% for Henry. In the two games since, Henry has been in on 79% to Gates’ 54.5%, and the Chargers have won both games. In those two games, Henry has seen a total of 15 targets, turning them into a combined 8-132-1 line. Henry has reestablished himself as a legit TE1 after a pair of zero-target weeks in the first three games. Henry now gets a Broncos defense that is 27th in fantasy points allowed to tight ends. Due to their strong cornerback play, the Denver defense tends to funnel everything inside to the tight ends and running backs. While the Chargers’ receivers are significantly downgraded in this matchup, it’s very much a spot to stream Henry. Evan Engram (TE3), Charles Clay (TE6), and Jason Witten (TE1) have all had top-six finishes against Denver’s defense through five games.

Jack Doyle vs. Jaguars: Returning from a concussion last week against the Titans, Doyle was able to corral a short touchdown but could have had an even bigger night if not for a couple bobbled passes and a lost fumble. He was still able to turn his 11 targets into a fine 7-50-1 line. And Doyle’s 7.67 targets per game over the last four weeks is fourth among all tight ends. Much like the Broncos defense mentioned above, the Jaguars’ elite cornerback trio tends to force a lot of balls inside to tight ends. Jacksonville is 21st in fantasy points allowed to the position. Rams rookie TE Gerald Everett caught a short touchdown in Jacksonville last week; Austin Seferian-Jenkins managed a 4-46 line in Week 4; Ben Watson caught a touchdown Week 3; Delanie Walker went for a season-high 61 yards in Week 2; and C.J. Fiedorowicz had 46 yards on 24 snaps before leaving with a concussion in Week 1. This defense is vulnerable to tight ends, and Doyle is one of the best they’ll have faced to date. Doyle is a very reliable back-end TE1 with some touchdown upside.

Kyle Rudolph vs. Ravens: In two games since Dalvin Cook (knee) went down and Stefon Diggs tweaked his groin, Rudolph has seen nine targets in each contest. He has turned in receiving lines of 6-45-1 and 5-47-0 in those games. Rudolph appears to have righted the ship after a dreadful first month of the season. And with Diggs not practicing Wednesday and looking very doubtful for Week 7, Rudolph should again be heavily involved in the pass game. The Ravens are 30th in fantasy points allowed to tight ends, and only the Giants have given up more touchdowns to the position. Zach Miller caught a touchdown against the Ravens last week; Marcedes Lewis caught three of them in Week 3; and David Njoku caught one in Week 2. Anytime the Vikings are in the red zone and close to the scoring box, Rudolph is a focal point. He’s a great bet for a score with a high ceiling.


Martellus Bennett vs. Saints: Bennett has been in plenty of good spots through the first six weeks, but he’s yet to take advantage of any of them and remains without a touchdown. After seeing over five targets per game in Weeks 1-4, Bennett has been targeted a total of six times the past two. Even in a theoretically solid spot against the Saints at Lambeau this Sunday, Bennett just can’t be trusted t produce. The Saints are 20th in fantasy points allowed to tight ends, but they’ve allowed the fewest catches to the position. In the red zone for the Packers, there are too many mouths to feed, from Davante Adams to Jordy Nelson, so Bennett tends to take a back seat. At this point, we need to see it happen for Bennett before we can believe it.

Jason Witten at 49ers: Witten had a solid game against the Packers ahead of the bye with an 8-61 line on 10 targets. But before that, Witten totaled two catches for 12 yards in the two previous games combined. Those were both tough matchups against the Rams and Cardinals, and Witten gets another difficult one against an NFC West opponent on Sunday. The 49ers have allowed the fewest fantasy points to tight ends and are No. 1 in DVOA versus the position. San Francisco is one of six teams yet to allow a touchdown to a tight end, shutting down Jimmy Graham and Jordan Reed along the way. The Niners are much more beatable on the perimeter.

Zach Miller vs. Panthers: Miller has had a fine opening month-and-a-half, checking in as the current TE11 in PPR with a pair of touchdowns. The yards, however, have just not been there. He’s yet to top 45 yards in a game, and the 21-yard touchdown last week against Baltimore was as fluky as it gets on a pass from RB Tarik Cohen. On top of that, the Bears are averaging just 20.5 pass attempts per game in Mitchell Trubisky’s two starts. There’s just not enough volume in this pass offense. Jordan Howard is the only fantasy asset. Carolina has allowed the fifth-fewest catches for the fourth-fewest yards to opposing tight ends.

Nick Mensio

Nick Mensio has been covering the NFL for NBC Sports Edge since 2012. He can be found on Twitter at @NickMensio.