2020 Fantasy Football: Week 7 Loves and Hates
Last week, we made our picks at each skill position for a guy we would love (definite starts or steals in a daily lineup) and a guy we would hate (not trust, consider benching despite high expectations). As usual, we will review our picks from Week 6 to see how we did and identify anything we learned from watching our picks take the field. Then, we will give you the names to look out for while setting your Week 7 lineups.
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Week 6 Review
My Week 6 loves and hates can be viewed here. Here are self-evaluations of those picks, with grades for myself in parentheses. Last week, the only A I gave myself from Week 5 was at WR. How did I fare this week?
My QB love for Week 6, Gardner Minshew II, left much to be desired early on in the game and has progressively been getting worse at finding his targets with accuracy throughout the season. He dipped in completion percentage again to a season-low 56.8% on the game and turned the ball over twice.
However, with the Jaguars defense putting the game out of hand early on in the Detroit Lions’ favor, Minshew picked it up for his fantasy owners, throwing a touchdown and rushing for a touchdown carry, providing a somewhat-decent game from a fantasy perspective. Minshew’s outlook is not necessarily getting much brighter going forward as turnovers have been an issue for him. Garbage-time Gardner might just be the new MO for owners of The Stache.
My QB hate for Week 6, Teddy Bridgewater, did not disappoint me one bit, putting up his worst overall performance of the season under center. I dropped a bold prediction with my pick that Bridgewater, who came into the week completing passes at a 73% rate and seldom turning the ball over, would throw for a season-low 60% on passes and turn the ball over three times.
He finished the game with a 55.2% completion rate, a season-low 216 passing yards, no touchdowns, and 2 interceptions. Essentially perfection with the pick. The lesson — the Chicago Bears defense continues to be daunting in the passing game, second to only the Indianapolis Colts in fantasy defense against quarterbacks.
Running Back (A-)
Myles Gaskin, my Week 6 RB love, was reliable in a Miami Dolphins win against the absolute comedic showcase that is the New York Jets. He put up his most efficient rushing game (5.1 yards per carry) since he became the main man in Miami in Week 3, tallying a season-high 91 rushing yards.
In PPR formats, Gaskin continues to be a nice option at FLEX or sometimes an RB2, where he has registered between 3 and 6 catches for between 22 and 36 yards every week and in Week 6, he produced similarly in the passing game, finishing amongst the top running backs in PPR scoring despite not scoring a touchdown. I’ll deduct some points in my self-evaluation for not hitting on my bold take; instead of using Gaskin to reach the end zone twice as I predicted, Ryan Fitzpatrick threw touchdowns to Preston Williams and two back-up tight ends to rip into the Jets.
As for my Week 6 RB hate, Aaron Jones, it takes a bit of guts to pick a top 3 running back in all formats to bust. The hates are to be interpreted as guys you should stay away from in daily lineups or not expect much from even when you are forced to start him. Clearly, Jones should have been a unanimous start given the draft stock you put into him. However, he did exactly what I feared — despite scoring a touchdown, he was stymied by the formidable run defense of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and finished outside the top 10 amongst Week 6 running backs.
In a game that I thought would be the return of the connection between Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams, the Bucs just completely embarrassed the previously-undefeated Packers and Jones was in the middle of it. He came into the game as the fourth-best runner in efficiency but in Week 6, he rushed at only 1.5 yards per carry and provided a season-low 41 scrimmage yards. Don’t be too worried if you own Aaron Jones in a season-long league, though. He has scored in every single game for the Packers this year so far and he has the talent to bounce back from a game where the Packers offense as a unit looked atrocious.
Wide Receiver (C)
Yikes. With this year’s breakout Pittsburgh Steeler being Chase Claypool, coming into a matchup against the Cleveland Browns secondary that was allowing the second-most fantasy PPR points to wide receivers, I thought it was JuJu Smith-Schuster’s time to bounce back and shine to lead that Steelers offense. Instead, Big Ben turned to Chase Claypool and James Washington more than JuJu, as he was held to 2 catches for 6 yards on 4 targets, all season lows. If you invested a lot of draft stock in JuJu Smith-Schuster, it might be time to start adding more depth at wide receiver so you don’t have to pray to the gods that JuJu does his job every single week.
My hate pick at wide receiver, Amari Cooper, was making me look like a genius, getting shut down for 3 quarters and appearing for just one 7-yard catch in the first half. However, the Cardinals undressed the Cowboys quickly on Monday Night Football, turning the fourth quarter into premiere garbage time. With the Cardinals in prevent mode, Cooper gave his fantasy owners one final push and won some matchups for them with a touchdown catch to top off his 7-catch, 79-yard performance. Give me a break, I thought it would be a better game than that.
Tight End (B-)
When I picked former first-rounder T. J. Hockenson as a love for tight end this week, I predicted he would have his best fantasy game of the season. Instead, he only caught 2 passes for 17 total yards. One of them was for a touchdown, though. Hockensen’s targets have been steady, suggesting somewhat of a decent floor, especially in standard scoring, but a discouraging ceiling. He has now caught 3 touchdowns on the season — only four tight ends have more receptions in the end zone.
I also placed the Rams tight end committee of Tyler Higbee and Gerald Everett on my hate list for Week 6. Indeed, neither were able to put up great fantasy numbers against the tough 49ers defense. The split targets and haven’t been consistently productive. Higbee did play decently well, catching 3 passes for 56 yards, but it’s clear that without finding the end zone, it’s far from safe to own a Rams tight end at this point. All 3 of Higbee’s touchdowns came in Week 2 and Gerald Everett has scored only one touchdown on the season — via the run.
Week 7 Loves & Hates
I did a lot better this week, so let’s run this back and try to help you set your lineups. Here are the names to look out for at each skill position for Week 7.
Week 7 Quarterbacks
Love: Tom Brady (TB)
The Las Vegas Raiders are one of the worst defenses in the NFL throughout the roster. They are horrible defending the pass and somehow even more pitiful against the run. The Buccaneers, coming off their most impressive game as a team in Week 6, have scored 15 of their 21 touchdowns via a Tom Brady pass and will look to scissor up the Raiders again in Week 7.
With Mike Evans and Chris Godwin both healthy as of now and Rob Gronkowski finally looking like himself in Week 6, Brady has no excuse to not go off. Be sure to start him in your lineup — he has an upside of 4 touchdowns or even higher.
Hate: Jimmy Garoppolo (SF)
TB12 and Jimmy G as my love and hate picks, respectively, as a Patriots fan — I’m getting spicy today. Some of you might be Jimmy believers, others not; this pick is mainly a PSA to not get carried away by Garoppolo’s solid Week 6 fantasy performance against the Los Angeles Rams, one of the best passing defenses in the NFL this season.
Garoppolo’s roller-coaster season poses little upside in Week 7 against his former coach, Bill Belichick, whose last encounter with 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan came in the historic “28-3” Super Bowl. Despite missing regular practice for 2 weeks, the Patriots defense remained fairly stable in Week 6 and coming into this week, they are a top 10 defense in fantasy points against quarterbacks and have allowed the second-fewest passing yards in the NFL. In Week 7, stopping their former backup to Brady should be lightwork for the Patriots defense. Stay away from starting Jimmy this week.
Week 7 Running Backs
Love: Chase Edmonds (ARI)
Kenyan Drake owners are out in full force after his 2020 breakout in Week 6. Granted, most of it was aided by a runaway touchdown in garbage time that turned some matchups upside down. Take a look at how running committees have produced against the Seattle defense this season. It’s simple — the Seahawks can’t defend the pass to save their life, particularly to wide receivers, but they can stifle the opposition’s primary running back.
With Drake as the starter and the Cardinals needing more help in the passing game for Kyler Murray to bounce back in what is set to be a possible NFC playoff preview, Edmonds provides exactly that value and a chance at RB2 or FLEX upside, especially in PPR formats.
Hate: Clyde Edwards-Helaire (KC)
Clyde owners have had themselves quite an eventful week. First, you hear the news of Le’Veon Bell signing with the defending champions. Then, you watch Clyde put up his best fantasy performance of the season despite having a touchdown robbed from him via a bogus penalty. So you think to yourself — is Clyde establishing himself as the alpha-male and going to tell Bell who is boss around town?
Clyde Edwards-Helaire took advantage of light boxes (6 or fewer defenders), which he saw on 18 of his 26 carries (69%).
— Next Gen Stats (@NextGenStats) October 20, 2020
Calm down on all accounts. Not to take anything away from the talented product of LSU but the Bills defensive line may as well have not shown up to the stadium on “Monday Evening Football.” Gift-wrapped holes for Clyde to glide as the Chiefs easily established their run game early on was all there was to it.
Even if Le’Veon Bell is not a factor in the Chiefs offense right away, the stellar performance put up by the Chiefs offensive line that aided Edwards-Helaire to a season-best 6.2 yards per carry is not sustainable, especially since they aren’t getting noticeably healthier this week. Factor in the possible touches for Bell in his Chiefs debut against a tough Denver Broncos run defense (third-best against fantasy running backs) and you have yourself bust potential for Clyde and a stay-away in daily lineups.
Week 7 Wide Receivers
Love: Jamison Crowder (NYJ)
I recently polled my followers asking if I was the only one that thought Jamison Crowder was the most underappreciated offensive player in the NFL. Clearly, I was not.
Great player on arguably the worst organization in the #NFL right now. Instead of demanding a trade, causing drama in the locker room, or sitting out like a diva, he does his job well every week.
Is Jamison Crowder the most underappreciated offensive player in the NFL right now?
— Ahaan Rungta (@AhaanRungta) October 18, 2020
On the surface level, this looks like a tough matchup. The Bills are an above-average fantasy defense against wide receivers and Crowder will be matched up with one of my favorite defensive players in the NFL — cornerback Tre’Davious White. However, I’m using my Week 6 experience with garbage time to learn a lesson; the value of Crowder after this game inevitably gets out of hand is ridiculous.
The New York Jets are bad. The Buffalo Bills are great. I expect Joe Flacco to be spamming Crowder in hurry-up mode as soon as the third quarter after the Jets are down at least two scores. The PPR stocks are through the roof, make sure you start Crowder and consider him as a daily lineup steal.
Hate: DJ Chark Jr. (JAX)
Chark owners, I feel you. You’ve gone through a lot of emotions already and the season ain’t even half-way complete. Let me make the job easy for you this week. Just bench the man and save yourself of the stress. In my Week 6 review above, I mentioned Minshew’s inability to consistently hit accurately on passes and that has continued to be the case, especially on the deep ball.
For a guy whose fantasy production usually relies on the deep ball, the matchup is just obscenely discouraging here. The Chargers defense is rock-solid and if there’s something they do at an elite level, it is prevent the big play. Coming into Week 7, the Chargers defense is the fourth-best at conceding explosive pass plays (6%). Not much upside for Chark and right now, it’s just tough to put your fate in the hands of Minshew making plays deep.
Week 7 Tight Ends
Love: Austin Hooper (CLE)
You hear all the noise of the return of David Njoku and how he may or may not want to leave town or the reports may or may not be false? For fantasy football, we’re looking for certainties. Austin Hooper has been just that recently, catching exactly 5 passes in each of his last 3 games. He comes into Week 7 drawing the eleventh-most targets amongst tight ends, despite only drawing 10 targets in his first three games.
Despite a slight rib injury scare for Baker Mayfield, the former #1 overall pick will still start and if anything, that should work to Hooper’s advantage who catches some of the shorter passes instead of the deep balls that generally go in the direction of Odell Beckham Jr. or, sometimes, Jarvis Landry. Now is the time for Hooper to shine against a Bengals defense that has no idea what they are doing against the pass and are a bottom 10 fantasy defense against tight ends.
Hate: Jared Cook (NO)
Facing an above-average defense against tight ends but abysmal (third-worst in PPR) defense against running backs in the Carolina Panthers, Jared Cook relies on touchdowns and the occasional big play to be fantasy-relevant. This is the textbook situation for Alvin Kamara to be the RB1. With still some uncertainty surrounding the Michael Thomas situation, perhaps you see an uptick in targets for Cook but the lack of attention he seems to get from Drew Brees in 2020 is enough for me to not invest any daily lineup stocks in Cook and I will likely not encourage anybody to even start him in their regular fantasy lineups.
How did I do this week on these picks? Last week was the week of the backup tight end — who are your surprise studs for Week 7? Did I sleep on anybody? Holler at me if you own any of the players above and make sure to check out the rest of our NFL Week 7 Slate of Analysis.
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