After an ugly, yet thrilling NFC East matchup on Thursday Night Football where the Eagles took over first place in the division, the Week 7 NFL Sunday slate posed storylines that frustrated several fantasy football owners and got several others jumping out of their seats. We’ve got every relevant fantasy headliner ahead of Monday in this week’s wrapup. As usual, note that all rankings refer to Week 7 sans Monday Night Football, given that this report is going up on Monday morning.
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Week 7 Quarterback Storylines
It was a Sunday of extremes for quarterbacks around the NFL, the good, the bad, and the pathetic.
- Andy Dalton, the man up to back up Dak Prescott’s gruesome season-ending injury, was helped off the field after a dirty hit to the head. Ben DiNucci got the work under center to end the game. With the state of the Cowboys offensive line, it remains to be see if either Dalton or DiNucci, regardless of health, should be considered fantasy-relevant. With the historically pathetic state of the Cowboys defense, it might be worth holding on to the Cowboys starting quarterback in very deep leagues, but you should not rely on either moving forward given their schedule consisting of some tough matchups.
- Through one quarter, Baker Mayfield had more interceptions (1) and injured teammates (2, both on the interception play) than passing yards (0). He responded by finishing the game completing a season-best 78.6% of his passes along with 5 touchdowns in a shootout against the Cincinnati Bengals. It was, by far, his best fantasy performance of the season as he finished as the QB4 of Week 7.
Despite the thrilling victory, the celebrations were with an undertone of concern as one of the injured players was Odell Beckham Jr., who has reported been diagnosed with a torn ACL and is thought to be out for the season. As for Mayfield, he managed to put in all that work for his fantasy owners without completing a pass to Beckham so he still poses fantasy value, even in one-quarterback leagues, but owners should play the matchups and not trust his production with a blindfold.
Best passer rating through week 6:
Russell Wilson – 129.8
Derek Carr – 115.9
Ryan Tannehill – 113.5
Patrick Mahomes – 110.1
Aaron Rodgers – 109.7
Ben Roethlisberger – 109.1
Josh Allen – 108.0
Deshaun Watson – 107.6
Justin Herbert – 107.1
Drew Brees – 102.7
— NFL Stats (@NFL_Stats) October 21, 2020
- The highly-anticipated matchup between the undefeated Pittsburgh Steelers and Tennessee Titans contained perhaps the most intriguing quarterback matchup from a fantasy perspective. Through one quarter, Ryan Tannehill had 0 passing yards and Ben Roethlisberger looked like the superior quarterback, often just toying with the Titans defense.
BIG BEN IS UNREAL 😱
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) October 25, 2020
Yet, in a thrilling game where the Titans played from behind for four quarters, Tannehill finished with the better fantasy numbers of the two quarterbacks on Sunday. Tannehill finished a run-of-the-mill 18/30 passing (a season-low in completion percentage) for 220 yards but with no turnovers and 2 touchdowns, he still met his projections. On the other hand, Roethlisberger, who came into the game with 11 passing touchdowns and only 1 turnover in 5 games, finished the game throwing for 268 yards on a season-high 49 pass attempts and 2 touchdowns but turned the ball over 3 times.
It is noteworthy that one of Roethlisberger’s turnovers was an arm punt to end the first half. Coming into Week 7, Roethlisberger was 27th amongst qualified quarterbacks in average depth of target (intended pass yards per attempt). A small ball quarterback that shines at ball security, you should value Big Ben’s floor especially in leagues that heavily penalize turnovers.
- Justin Herbert and Joe Burrow continue their epic competition as best quarterback of the rookie class and in dynasty leagues, both are excellent options. In Week 7, they showed why.
Against the lackluster secondary of the Jacksonville Jaguars, Herbert threw for a career-high 347 passing yards and scored 4 touchdowns for the second straight game, three via air and one on the ground. Herbert’s 9 rushes also combined for 66 yards and he finished as the QB2 of the week.
Joe Burrow was part of the Ohio shootout against Baker Mayfield and found multiple responses late in the game. Despite an interception and a fumble to his credit, Burrow used his grit at the goal-line to rush for a touchdown and used a season-high 74.5% completion rate to muscle 406 passing yards for the best fantasy performance of his rookie campaign, finishing as the QB5 of the week. Burrow’s explosions display his ultra-high ceiling as this is already his second game with at least 3 passing touchdowns. However, his turnover potential and lack of success against some of the league’s elite defenses shows that you should take Burrow hype with a grain of salt against tough matchups. He faces the Tennessee Titans in Week 8.
- Cam Newton put on a disgusting display of quarterback play against the formidable defense of the San Francisco 49ers. His 60% passing, 15 pass attempts, and 117 scrimmage yards were all season lows and he threw 3 interceptions before being benched in the massacre for Jarrett Stidham. This was Newton’s first game of the season where he played but went without a touchdown. Ever since the former MVP tested positive for COVID-19 ahead of Week 4, he has looked far from sharp. However, in deeper leagues where the quarterback position isn’t free real estate, owners should not give up on the fantasy upside of Newton. With some favorable matchups coming up, one must believe that New England will figure out how to piece together an offense like they did in the first two weeks of the season and with Newton’s two-way potential of scoring, now is not the time to throw him away for scraps.
- On the very day that the New England Patriots saw some of the ugliest football they have seen in the Bill Belichick era, Tom Brady reminded the world that at 43 years old, he’s still got it. I picked Brady as my love of the week at the quarterback position and as he’s often done in my fandom of the Patriots, he made me look like a genius.
Earlier in the week, he pushed for the Super Bowl-contending Tampa Bay Buccaneers to go out and get another weapon to dunk on opposing defenses. They did just that by acquiring Antonio Brown. But before Brown arrived with the team to suit up for a game, Brady put up MVP stats against a Raiders defense that leaves much to be desired.
It is clear that Brady owners shouldn’t be too worried about their starting quarterback but if you’re going to sell quarterbacks and you have an excess of them in a 2-QB league, now might just be the time to seek some spicy offers. Don’t be too pushy about it though, he might just have even more help as soon as Week 8. His 73.3% completion rate was the highest of the season and his 369 passing yards was tied for a season-high. He tallied 5 touchdowns for the second time this season, but this time with no turnovers. The result was his best fantasy performance of the season and the QB1 of Week 7.
Week 7 Wide receiver explosions
We’ve seen several explosions in fantasy football this season already, especially with the high volume of top-tier talent lost due to injury and defenses allowing big plays at an alarming rate, heavily thanks to the lack of a preseason. Week 7 took the explosions to another level at the wide receiver position.
- Many well-known names couldn’t live up to their potential this week, either via dropped catches or an aversion to the end zone — “unlike Agholor.” With the Las Vegas Raiders playing behind early against Brady’s Bucs, Derek Carr needed a go-to wideout and on Sunday, it quickly turned out to be Nelson Agholor, who has now put up three straight solid fantasy games despite being unowned in a majority of leagues. None of his games were better than his Week 7.
For the first time this season, Agholor was targeted more than 4 times. He made 5 catches on 9 targets for 107 yards and scored his fourth touchdown of the season. Agholor now averages 19.5 yards per catch and has an obvious touchdown upside. Set to face an untrustworthy Browns secondary in Week 8, Agholor will be a top waiver priority option this coming week.
- On Thursday Night Football, Sterling Shepard made his return to the New York Giants from his toe injury. In his third game of the season, he put up his best fantasy performance thanks to 6 catches on 8 targets and finding the end zone for the first time this season. It remains to be seen if Shepard can be trusted to start in your lineup moving forward; it would be advisable to play it by the ear for now as we have seen too little of the Shepard return to realize if he has upside without scoring.
- I feel like I mention the Pittsburgh Steelers wideout situation every week — that’s because the only undefeated team left in the NFL isn’t afraid to use a new go-to guy every day in their offense. In Week 7, it was Diontae Johnson who has been an all-or-nothing guy in 2020. He put up his best fantasy performance of the season via 80 yards on 9 catches on 15 targets and his second and third touchdowns of the year. Johnson also suffered an ankle scare late in the game but it will likely not affect his Week 8 status. Still, it is unclear if Johnson should be a start for you going forward. So far, his floor has been the bench but his ceiling was achieved in Week 7; he finished as the WR3 of the week in PPR formats.
- Did you get the memo? Davante Adams is good at football. He found a way to top his Week 1 explosion against Minnesota by dropping a 40-bomb in PPR formats before the fourth quarter. He was the leader of the Aaron Rodgers Week 7 bounceback showcase with a season-high 196 receiving yards on 13 catches (16 targets). He has scored four touchdowns on the season — two in Week 1 and two in Week 7.
- And yet somehow Adams was not the WR1 of the week. In a season where Russell Wilson is currently the betting favorite to win the NFL MVP award, D.K. Metcalf has been the breakout sophomore that has led the receiving core of the Seahawks. But in a berserk Sunday Night Football game, for most of the night, Metcalf’s best play of the game was a freakishly athletic run-down tackle.
While Metcalf finished with a season-low 2 catches and 23 passing yards and no scores, Tyler Lockett reminded the world how good he is and in several matchups where his fantasy owners gave up on the week, Lockett said “not so fast.” He put up 200 yards on 15 catches and 20 targets and 3 touchdowns and in PPR formats, his 50-bomb was good enough to take the WR limelight away from Davante Adams and be the #1 WR of Week 7. In the Seahawks’ first loss of the season, Lockett’s 3-touchdown game was his second such performance of the season. If that’s not the definition of boom, I don’t know what is.
Others that turned heads
Your bonus plays of the week that were too good to leave out of the regular wrapup.
- Rob Gronkowski might be officially back. After five weeks of fantasy irrelevance, Gronk scored a touchdown in a second straight game and got exactly 5 catches on exactly 8 targets in back-to-back games. He has put up 140 yards in his last two games and is back to being a jump ball threat for his buddy Tom Brady. Gronkowski finished as the TE2 of Week 7 in PPR formats.
- The PPR TE1 you ask? After Austin Hooper, my love pick for Week 7 at tight end, was ruled out unexpectedly due to appendectomy, a Cleveland Browns tight end still dominated the charts and finished #1 at the position in Week 7. Despite David Njoku scoring a touchdown, it wasn’t him. Harrison Bryant was fantasy-relevant for the first time this season by putting up 56 yards on 4 catches, two of which were in the end zone.
- For the first time this season, I am giving a shoutout in my weekly wrapup to a defense/special-teams unit for fantasy football. In the NFL’s first snow game of the season, the Chiefs, already a well-coached defense who have showed out against some solid NFL teams, took advantage of the banged up Broncos in the inclement weather and welcomed Le’Veon Bell to the Chiefs by sacking the quarterback 3 times, recovering 2 fumbles, picking 2 interceptions, and scoring themselves 2 times. The Chiefs were the #1 D/ST on the week and allowed Mahomes to not have to put up fantasy numbers at all.
What do you think were the biggest storylines of Week 7? Who were the underrated studs of the wild week? Who won you or lost you your matchups this week? We’re coming at the half-way mark of the fantasy football season soon — already.
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