Ten Things We Learned in Week 7 (Fantasy Football)

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Breathe easy Footclan, we survived the Week 7 Byepocalypse and our reward is that no teams are off next week. We can get our studs back into our starting lineups and shed the waiver wire fill-ins we needed to get through the week. There are exceptions to the rule of course (i.e. D’Onta Foreman), players who balled out and deserve a spot on your roster. Check out what we learned in Week 7 and how we can use that information moving forward as we reach the halfway point of the fantasy football season.

1. The Rams’ Puzzling Running Back Room

Congratulations to the fantasy managers who picked up Darrell Henderson and started him this week. You could have even done worse than Royce Freeman‘s 66 yards on 12 carries (just ask my dynasty team). And for those who spent FAAB on Zach Evans and his zero opportunities, we feel for you, but don’t dwell on it, cut your losses and move on. Kyren Williams has been in rare air this season, absolutely dominating running back opportunities and finding himself in the top five at the position out of nowhere. So we knew there was value to be had in this situation, we just didn’t know who would be the lead back. Based on one game, it doesn’t look like there will be one. Instead, it’s likely that Henderson and Freeman will continue to split the opportunities until Williams comes back. Freeman was more efficient with his touches, but Henderson got more opportunities with the only two RB targets and the touchdown. Next week’s matchup against Dallas doesn’t breed confidence, but with the Packers, Seahawks, and Cardinals on the schedule to follow, it’s worth rostering both of these backs with Williams on IR.

2. A Weekly Startable Chiefs WR Has Emerged

Since the departure of Tyreek Hill before the 2022 season, it’s been difficult to trust any Kansas City pass-catcher not named Travis Kelce. It’s always been one of the more perplexing questions in fantasy football, how can one of the best quarterbacks and best offenses in the NFL not support a weekly fantasy wide receiver? Sure, there were instances when Mecole Hardman, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, or Justin Watson would have a big game, but it was nearly impossible to predict when that would happen. After one and a half seasons post-Hill, it finally feels like we can start a Chiefs WR with confidence – Rashee Rice. Please don’t take this out of context, Rice is nowhere near the class of one of the best WRs in football, but I believe he can be started every week moving forward as a WR3 or flex option. The rookie has yet to break 75 receiving yards in a game, but he has three touchdowns and is gaining favor as Patrick Mahomes‘ most reliable target, proven by his nine red zone looks. He ran the third-most routes in Week 7 behind only Kelce and MVS and it was also a season high for him. The arrow is pointing up for Rice and he is worthy of a starting spot in lineups moving forward.

3. Colts RBs Continue to Split Touches

Jonathan Taylor has been back for three weeks and has yet to take full control of the job over Zack Moss. I’m starting to think that it’s not going to happen this season. Moss has played himself into the lineup and deserves the opportunities he’s getting, which is the most frustrating part for people who invested in Taylor. If Moss played poorly, it would be easy to give the bulk of the work back to Taylor but Moss has been great which hinders both players’ fantasy outputs. Taylor would be an RB1 without Moss and the latter was putting up RB1 numbers with Taylor out. If the split continues, both players fall more into the low-end RB2 category, not an ideal situation for managers who roster either of these players.

4. There’s Concern With Brian Robinson‘s Recent Usage

Brian Robinson started the year hot, compiling 261 rushing yards and three touchdowns on 61 carries through the first four games of the season. In the last three games, he’s rushed for just 64 yards and a touchdown on 24 attempts. That’s a drop off of 4.3 yards per carry to 2.7, and he didn’t even see a target on Sunday. Rookie running back Chris Rodriguez‘s touches have gone up in the last two weeks and he actually led the team in rushing yards with 31 in Week 7. There’s major concern here for Robinson moving forward, especially with matchups against the Eagles and Patriots on the horizon.

5. What is Going On With Deshaun Watson?

Deshaun Watson‘s season has been one of the strangest storylines in football this year. Not to downplay the severity of his injuries, but he was medically cleared to play a few weeks ago and didn’t end up playing due to concerns over his shoulder. Then coming out of the team’s bye week he once again didn’t suit up against the San Francisco 49ers despite the extra rest, a game the Browns won. He returned in Week 7 but left early and had to be evaluated for a concussion after taking a big hit. He cleared the league’s concussion protocol but still did not return to the game, a shootout which the Browns also won. According to an in-game sideline report, Head Coach Kevin Stefanski said they were being extra cautious with Watson’s shoulder. It’s been a baffling season for Watson and a frustrating one for managers who roster the oft-injured QB.

6. Welcome to the Party, Jahmyr Gibbs and Jaxon Smith-Njigba

It took until Week 7 and injuries to the players ahead of them, but highly-touted rookies Jahmyr Gibbs and Jaxon Smith-Njigba finally put up relevant fantasy numbers. Gibbs, getting the start for the injured David Montgomery, carried the ball 11 times for 68 yards and a touchdown. Don’t be frightened by the 11 touches out of the backfield because Detroit was playing from behind from the get-go. Instead, focus on his nine catches on 10 targets for 58 yards. It was the game fantasy managers had longed to see. With DK Metcalf out, Smith-Njigba jumped into the WR2 spot and delivered with four catches on seven targets for 63 yards and a touchdown. It would have been nice to see more targets go JSN’s way, but Seattle’s offense struggled as a whole in the second half, not the rookie’s fault. There will be more adjustments made when Montgomery and Metcalf return from injury, but hopefully, this will jumpstart both players into much-needed fantasy importance moving forward.

7. Consider Starting Taysom Hill at TE

Good ol’ Taysom Hill, always in the discussion of fantasy relevance but never rostered or started with confidence. Well, based on the last two weeks, I think it’s safe to say he belongs on fantasy rosters and is a formidable starter at the TE spot. What other tight end sees goal line rushing work or throws the ball? But even more impressive is the fact that Hill is seeing consistent targets, like a legitimate tight end! He’s logged 11 catches on 13 targets over the last two games and has 15 receptions so far this season. He had 21 total receptions in the last three years combined. Hill is a multifaceted player who belongs on a roster and can be started in a pinch, particularly at the TE spot that is so hit or miss.

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8. Cardinals’ Backfield Fluctuates Again

In last week’s column I brought up Arizona’s running back situation with James Conner out and recommended rostering Keaontay Ingram but not starting any of the RBs. So of course Ingram didn’t play one offensive snap in Week 7 and Emari Demercado handled 93% of the team’s RB carries, rushing 13 times for 58 yards. If you spent FAAB on Demercado the week before, hopefully you stuck with him, because although he didn’t register a great fantasy performance, the usage was nice to see. Damien Williams only had one carry and Rondale Moore had four, which he will continue to get as a gadget player. The matchups aren’t great the next two weeks against the Ravens and Browns, but if Conner misses an extended period of time, Demercado could be a sneaky flex option against the Falcons and Texans in Weeks 10 and 11.

9. Drake London Taking Flight

Don’t look now, but Drake London has recorded double-digit fantasy points in five out of his last six games in PPR formats, including a 21.5-point performance in Week 6. He’s seeing upwards of a 23% target share in his last four contests, as part of a much larger passing pie than last year. Desmond Ridder has attempted 140 passes in the last four games and 228 attempts through seven games. Last year’s starter Marcus Mariota had just 150 pass attempts in the first seven games of the season. This is hopefully an indication that the Falcons will continue to throw the ball more to the benefit of London and the other Atlanta pass-catchers. The next three matchups against the Titans, Vikings, and Cardinals should equate to solid fantasy production through the air, with London being the main beneficiary. That is of course at the discretion of Head Coach Arthur Smith, speaking of which…

10. Arthur Smith Really Doesn’t Care About Our Fantasy Teams

In case you didn’t realize it before, Falcons Head Coach Arthur Smith could care less about fantasy football. After his team’s Week 1 victory, he said he didn’t care that Drake London had zero receptions as long as the team won.

Well, he proved his point again in Week 7, giving no indication that Bijan Robinson wasn’t feeling well leading up to kickoff. The result was Robinson played just 10 snaps and saw one carry, much to the dismay of Robinson managers. But the Falcons still won…so be on the lookout for more fun surprises from Mr. Smith. But all should be fine in Bijan land and expect the rookie RB sensation to be back to his usual workload next week.

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