Bye weeks continue in Week 7, but most fantasy managers are dealing with even more injury news than the week prior. The game continues to change on a dime. Identifying risers and fallers to help guide difficult lineup decisions can help keep our teams on the right path toward the playoffs. As always, I’ll also name one player on the hot seat. If they don’t turn things around soon, we may be sending them to free agency.
Week 7 Risers, Fallers, and Who is on The Hot Seat
Rashee Rice, Wide Receiver, Kansas City Chiefs
After spending most of the summer debating between Skyy Moore, Kadarius Toney, and even Justyn Ross to be the breakout wide receiver on the Chiefs, it’s rookie riser Rashee Rice that fantasy managers can trust the most this season. It’s a given that tight end Travis Kelce remains Patrick Mahomes’ favorite target in the passing game. Even after missing Week 1, Kelce leads the team with 46 targets.
Second in Chiefs targets is Rashee Rice. His 28 targets aren’t independently impressive, but consider Mahomes has targeted at least 10 different players in every game this season. Consider, too, that Rice has played the fourth-most snaps amongst Chiefs wide receivers. He has five or more targets as well as 11.0 or more fantasy points in four of six games this season.
On deck is a Week 7 home bout with AFC West rival the Los Angeles Chargers. Rashee Rice might have his best game yet as the Chargers’ defense allowed the most points to opposing wide receivers this season. Especially with six teams on bye in Week 7, Rice is a no-brainer to plug into your starting lineup.
Michael Mayer, Tight End, Las Vegas Raiders
Another rookie riser to consider adding to your roster is Michael Mayer. His Week 6 break out performance should be a sign of things to come. Mayer’s six targets, five receptions, and 75 yards from Week 6 are all season-highs. Over the last two weeks, Mayer has 114 total yards, 61 of which are yards after the catch. After dominating in playing time with 81% of offensive snaps last week, Mayer will look to carry this momentum into Week 7.
His next five matchups against the Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions, New York Giants, New York Jets, and Miami Dolphins present an opportunity to set and forget the tight end position in your lineup for about a month. Additionally, Mayer likely remains a top target for quarterback Brian Hoyer as he fills in for Jimmy Garoppolo (back) for the unforeseeable future. With defenses having to plan against Josh Jacobs on the ground, and try to find a way to stop Davante Adams through the air, Mayer should draw some nice matchups starting in Week 7.
Dak Prescott, Quarterback, Dallas Cowboys
I realize I’m including Prescott, who is on a bye in Week 7, as a riser so it doesn’t do anyone any good for this week’s matchup. However, it’s important to mention Prescott after a dreadful start to this season. From Weeks 1 to 5, Prescott ranks as QB24 on a points-per-game basis. That’s behind guys like Jimmy Garoppolo, Joshua Dobbs, and even Desmond Ridder. In Week 6, Prescott erupted for 24.9 points, finishing as the overall QB1 for the week. His 40 rushing yards were just shy of his highest production on the ground since his 2020 season-ending leg/ankle injury. He even left players in the dust on his way to a 18-yard touchdown run.
For those fantasy managers who may have lost Anthony Richardson, are waiting for the return of Justin Fields, or are streaming their way through the 2023 season, go get Dak Prescott. For the remainder of the fantasy football regular season, ALL of Prescott’s matchups are against teams in the top half of the league in points allowed to opposing quarterbacks. That includes one with the Washington Commanders (3rd) and two matchups with the Philadelphia Eagles (6th). If Dak continues to mix in a few runs week-to-week in these matchups, his points per game average will look a lot like last week than it did for the first five this season.
Dameon Pierce, Running Back, Houston Texans
Even if Dameon Pierce wasn’t on a bye in Week 7, I’m finding it hard to trust him any week moving forward. He’s a faller after averaging less than 9.0 fantasy points per game so far this season. That includes four of six games with single-digit scoring. To make matters worse, most fantasy managers probably started Pierce through the first three weeks. He scored his only touchdown of the season in Week 3. That probably gave managers the confidence to keep starting him only to be disappointed by the 8.13 points per game since.
Pierce does come out of his Week 7 bye into a dream matchup against the Carolina Panthers. They’ve allowed a league-high 11 rushing touchdowns to opposing running backs in just six games. Pierce also has a few more juicy matchups down the stretch but arguably has the worst fantasy playoff schedule amongst all running backs. Two matchups with the Tennessee Titans in Weeks 15 and 17 with a game against the Cleveland Browns in between. These two defenses have allowed six total touchdowns to running backs this season. Given the running back landscape, if Pierce goes off against Carolina (as he should) coming out of his Week 7 bye, I would look to sell as high as you can.
Zach Ertz, Tight End, Arizona Cardinals
Placing Zach Ertz on the faller list ahead of Week 7 is simply a sign for anyone who has him on their roster to send him to free agency. He no longer presents weekly TE1 upside. After logging 30 targets over the first four weeks of the season, Ertz has nine total in his two most recent games. The Arizona Cardinals’ offense as a whole has taken a nosedive as of late. After an average of 22 points scored per week in the first four games, they’re down to an average of 14.5 points per in their last two, as well.
Most importantly, Zach Ertz played fewer snaps than tight end Trey McBride for the first time this season in Week 6. McBride caught two more passes for 40 more yards, though neither tight end, nor any Cardinal, found the end zone. If the entire Cardinals team continues to fall, Ertz, who’s on an expiring contract, could end up finishing the season on a different team. In this hypothetical scenario, he could return back on the fantasy radar as a weekly start consideration.
Jerry Jeudy, Wide Receiver, Denver Broncos
I’m not even sure Jerry Jeudy qualifies as a fantasy football faller. That would imply that he was thought highly of at any point this season to be here now. Granted, Jeudy did get off to a slow start due to a hamstring injury suffered late in training camp back in August. However, in five games from Weeks 2 through 6, Jeudy has logged at least five targets in every game. The bad news is he’s averaging just under 45 yards per game. To twist the knife just a little bit more, Jeudy hasn’t scored a touchdown yet while teammate, Courtland Sutton, has scored four, one in four of his six games.
It’s impossible to trust Jerry Jeudy in lineups prior to the Denver Broncos’ much-needed Week 9 bye. He gets the Green Bay Packers in Week 7 followed by the Kansas City Chiefs. The Tuesday after Week 8 ends, though, is the NFL Trade Deadline. Jeudy’s name has already been floated out there as a potential moving piece. Depending on if he’s moved and where he lands, I may be adding Jeudy to a future riser list. Until then, he’s best kept on benches until we see something from him worth starting.
The Week 7 Hot Seat
Christian Watson, Wide Receiver, Green Bay Packers
Admittedly, Christian Watson isn’t a player I was targeting too heavily ahead of this season based on his Average Draft Position. I was excited for him last year after getting drafted in the second round and heading to an Aaron Rodgers led team that just traded away Davante Adams. However, since then, Jordan Love has taken over at quarterback and the Packers spent two more second-round picks on a wide receiver, Jayden Reed, and receiving tight end, Luke Musgrave. That was always going to complicate things.
After missing the first three weeks of the season, managers who spent high draft capital on Watson finally got him back in Week 4. He caught just two of four targets but did find the end zone. He followed that up in Week 5 with a 91-yard performance on three catches, one of which was a 77 yard bomb that would’ve been a touchdown if Watson wasn’t horse collar tackled. In two games thus far, Watson continues to be more a boom-or-bust player.
Christian Watson is on my Week 7 hot seat because he’s disappointing thus far, but does have a chance to shine over the next few weeks. If he doesn’t, he will relegate himself to a big play or touchdown-dependent flex play. That’s not quite the WR2 or WR3 many fantasy managers believed him to be entering the season. In Week 7, he faces a Denver Broncos team that’s allowing 33.3 points per game, the most in the league. Then he gets a Minnesota Vikings secondary allowing the most receptions and third-most yards to wide receivers. If he doesn’t stand out amongst a large group of Packers pass catchers in these matchups, then I don’t know when he will.