Welcome to Week 7 of Lessons Learned! In this article, we break down ten important takeaways from the prior week in fantasy football, and what they could mean for your lineups moving forward.
If you learned anything from Week 7 that you think we should know, send us a comment or shoot me a tweet @FantasySensei! Without further ado, let’s dive into the fantasy classroom.
1. Josh Gordon is Quickly Approaching WR1 Territory
As the resident Josh Gordon truthers among the FantasyFootballers writers crew, I can’t say I’m entirely unbiased here, or that I haven’t been waiting for this day like a wee child for the first day of summer. What I can say is this: Josh Gordon is back, and he’s on the express train to fantasy stardom.
Gordon’s snap counts have risen dramatically, from 22% in his first game in New England to 95% last week against the Bears. His 16 combined targets over the past two games are second on the Patriots to only James White, and he leads the team in receiving yards over that span. Perhaps more importantly, the tape shows that Brady and Belichick trust Gordon and are adamant about getting him the ball down the field, near the end zone, and despite whatever level of coverage the opposing team throws at him. Gordon is an excellent buy-low option, as the fantasy numbers aren’t quite telling the whole story yet. Gordon is a WR2 rest of season with legitimate WR1 upside in this offense.
2. Mitchell Trubisky is a Bit of a Fantasy Mirage
It seems counterintuitive to talk bad on a QB averaging 41 fantasy points in his past 3 games, but here goes. In the words of “Trubisky truther” Jason Moore, young Mitchell is not a great quarterback. Yes, he laid six touchdowns on the Buccaneers … but it’s the Buccaneers. Eli Manning could drop a 30-burger in fantasy against this defense (hint: he plays them in Week 11). And as for last week, 81 rushing yards and a rushing TD — especially in the wild way he got them — are not going to be an everyday occurrence for Trubisky.
Don’t get me wrong, the mobility helps provide a floor that Mitchell might not otherwise have. But don’t forget that he also completed 52% of his passes, threw a pair of poor interceptions, and posted a 69.8 passer rating last Sunday. And while this week’s matchup with the Jets isn’t bad, Trubisky plays the Bills, Lions (twice), and Vikings over the following 4-week stretch. Expect to see him come back to earth a bit, and certainly don’t expect an every-week QB1 moving forward.
3. The Return of the (Marlon) Mack
Mamma Mia! Marlon Mack made magnificent music … uh … shoot, I’m out of m’s. Suffice it to say, Mack absolutely tore it up against the Bills last week, to the tune of 159 scrimmage yards and 2 total touchdowns. Mack now has 31 carries for 215 yards on the ground alone since his return in Week 6 and has exploded back into fantasy relevance.
Mack wrested away 56% of the snaps last week and figures to build on that, at least in any week with a favorable game script. The Raiders in Week 8 are certainly that, and I would argue that the Colts can be competitive in every game left on their schedule. Yes, that even includes two matchups with the Jaguars, who are much more beatable through the run game (and currently look like the worst team in this division). Mack is a risky investment but has high-end RB2 upside from week to week.
4. Matt Patricia is Reading Lessons Learned
In the Week 5 Lessons Learned, we sassed head coach Matt Patricia for his obstinate denial of Kerryon Johnson‘s clear and present talent. Apparently, Patricia read the article over Detroit’s bye week, as he came out and fed Kerryon to the tune of 21 touches for 179 scrimmage yards against the Dolphins. And if Patricia can change his mind, so can we.
Seriously though, it seems (albeit in the absence of Theo Riddick), that Patricia has noticed the explosive rookie wasting away on his bench and made an adjustment. Sadly, LeGarrette Blount still got the goal line work on Sunday (and capitalized with a touchdown, as he is wont to do). That part of the backfield breakdown may never change. But if Kerryon is getting this kind of work between the 20s, he can finally provide the RB2 value fantasy owners have dreamed of.
5. The Jets Air Attack is Ironically Grounded
At various times this season, we’ve tried getting excited about Quincy Enunwa, Robby Anderson, Jermaine Kearse, and even Terrelle Pryor. And, in one fashion or another, they’ve each proceeded to ruin all our hopes and dreams (especially Andy Holloway’s).
It certainly doesn’t help that Sam Darnold has regressed from an opening week hero to a 3-pick, 34.4-passer rating fantasy reaper. It’s also tough for anyone to have value when 12 different players are earning targets, as we saw from the Jets last week. For goodness sake, guys named Andre Roberts, Neal Sterling, Deontay Burnett, Eric Tomlinson, and Charone Peake earned targets last week, and several of them caught more passes than Kearse. This is officially a fantasy wasteland — don’t get caught with one of these players in your lineup anytime soon.
6. Christian McCaffrey is in a Funk
I know you McCaffrey owners don’t want to hear it, but CMC is struggling for fantasy purposes. After a monster Week 3, McCaffrey has seen his carries decrease weekly (to 7 last week). He has only scored a single touchdown all season (back in Week 5), and since his 14-reception bonanza in Week 2, is only averaging 5 catches per game.
And if you’re expecting a bounce-back in Week 8, don’t. He’s facing a Ravens defense allowing the 2nd-fewest scrimmage yards and 3rd-fewest receptions to running backs on a per game basis. After that, the schedule lightens up considerably, so consider trading for him post-Baltimore. But keep in mind that the lack of touchdowns may be a season-long reality that keeps him outside the RB1 range we’d hoped he would crack.
7. O.J. Howard is a Second-Tier Tight End
For now, the Bucs tight end has not yet broken into the Kelce/Ertz/Gronk stratosphere. But past those three, I’d be as likely to take O.J. Howard as just about anyone. He has logged 54+ receiving yards in every game outside Week 4 (when he suffered the MCL sprain), largely thanks to a beastly 17.6 yards per reception (6th-highest among players with at least 30 targets).
We know Jameis Winston loves his tight ends, and I expect Howard to continue stealing the primary pass-catcher snaps from Cameron Brate, as he did over the course of last season. Getting a guaranteed 4+ catches for 50+ yards with a touchdown every couple games is absolute gold at the tight end position. Get Howard now, wherever, and however you can.
8. The Ravens Defense Is Now The #1 Fantasy-Wrecker
Last year it was the Jaguars. In years past it was the Broncos. Now it’s the Ravens. As we mentioned briefly with McCaffrey, this defense is an absolute killer of fantasy goodness. They faced their toughest test of the season in last week’s matchup with the Saints and came out on top. Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas saw their days salvaged by touchdowns, but Thomas only managed 69 receiving yards, Kamara and Ingram combined for only 96 yards on the ground, and even the currently incomparable Drew Brees only managed 212 passing yards.
Most of the time, you have to start your super-studs regardless. But with the way this defense is playing, I’m open to sitting typical every-week starters whenever they face Baltimore. That might even include McCaffrey, Ben Roethlisberger, and JuJu Smith-Schuster, and possibly even A.J. Green over the coming weeks.
9. Todd Gurley Has Reached Untouchable Status
We covered Gurley back in Week 1, but after seven weeks of utter dominance, he has made the Lessons Learned again. Gurley is currently on track to break LaDainian Tomlinson‘s 2006 fantasy points record in both non-PPR and half-PPR scoring and has currently scored more real-life points (88) than the entire Bills offense.
At the level he is producing, Gurley is now nigh-untradeable. Even if you got an elite combo offer like Kareem Hunt and DeAndre Hopkins, Hopkins would have to outscore the receiver he’d replace in your lineup by upwards of 8-10 points per week to return value. Unless you’re starting someone like Willie Snead or Nelson Agholor, that’s unlikely. Build a half-decent team around Todd Gurley and he’ll likely win you the fantasy championship.
10. Julio Jones Will Never Catch Another Touchdown
It’s been 332 days since Julio Jones last caught a touchdown. Back then, Saquon Barkley was still at Penn State, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle were unwed, and the words Yanny and Laurel had absolutely no relationship whatsoever. Jones has caught 73 receptions for 1,193 yards since that fateful day, and not one of them has concluded in the end zone.
Okay, so this one is less of a lesson and more of a sarcastic observation intended to ease the pain of Julio’s TD-drought with witty banter. The reality is, Julio will catch a touchdown again, probably this season, and very possibly in the next week or two. If his owner is frustrated, buy ASAP. And if that owner is you, don’t fret. What goes down, must come up. I think.