What We Learned in Week Seven (Fantasy Football)
I hated week seven, so I’m going to write a poem to creatively release all my anger and frustration:
Roses are red, violets are great, Week 7 sucked, let’s move on to Week 8.
That’s it, that’s all I’ve got. All joking aside, it really was a historically rough week. It doesn’t mean we can’t learn from it, but I’d hesitate to panic over a lot of the outcomes from this past Sunday. Here are ten things we learned in Week 7:
Patrick Mahomes matters a lot, and not just to the Chiefs
When Patrick Mahomes was down on the field Thursday night you could hear every Chiefs fan in the country panicking and holding their breath. Mahomes is a generational talent that has a realistic chance at being one of the best to ever do it, and things looked ugly right away. I don’t have Mahomes on too many fantasy teams this year, but on the few, I do it was obviously a huge blow from a fantasy perspective. Sadly, that matters very little in the grand scheme of things right now. Not only was this a blow to the Chiefs franchise and their fanbase, but it was also a blow to the NFL as a whole. Mahomes is one of the most fun players in the entire league to watch, and that was never more obvious than when Matt Moore took over the offense in the second quarter. We’ve gotten so used to Mahomes making special plays every Sunday that seeing the offense without him was a borderline comical experience. Obviously, the Chiefs are much better with Mahomes behind center, but the NFL as a whole isn’t as great without him on the field. Let’s hope he gets back as soon as his confidence would suggest.
It’s Cuffing Season
Latavius Murray, Chase Edmonds, and Wayne Gallman have all proven that a backup running back can be a huge asset in the right conditions. This is the time of year that running backs start to feel the workload a bit more than they might have in the first few weeks. We’ve already seen James Conner, Alvin Kamara, and David Johnson miss some time with injuries and if you had them on your roster you felt a sense of panic if you didn’t have the handcuff lined up already. Not every running back needs to be handcuffed, but if you own Dalvin Cook, Ezekiel Elliot, or Leonard Fournette then it’s time to roster their backups to prepare for the worst. I don’t love drafting handcuffs early on because typically running backs start to go down later in the season, and you don’t want to waste a roster spot that could be a potential breakout player, but this is the time to protect your investment. Edmonds and Murray are likely rostered already, but guys like Alexander Mattison, Benny Snell, Ryquell Armstead, and Tony Pollard are elite handcuff options that would be surefire RB1’s at worst if the guy ahead of them went down. Go grab them this week and hope you won’t need them.
Darren Waller is a Candidate For Draft Pick of The Year
Full disclaimer: I tweeted about this, so if you follow me, please accept my apology in advance for the repetition. I don’t love to take victory laps, but I can’t help it here. Back in early August, I wrote up a piece about my favorite sleeper who at the time was still a sleeper. I referred to Darren Waller as The Next George Kittle, and I feel very comfortable confirming his status as a top-five TE for 2019. Waller has been as steady as they come at the tight end position this year and he finally benefited from some positive touchdown regression in Week 7. Waller found the end zone twice and accumulated over 100 yards for the second time this season. The Raiders made it very clear how much they value him last week when they signed him to a four-year extension and brought out the Brinks truck. His combination of size, athleticism, and pass-catching ability were the main reasons I urged the FootClan to draft him in the preseason, and as of now, he’s a candidate for the top draft choice of the year given his nearly undrafted ADP. I don’t take victory laps very often, but when I do….. I prefer them to be rock solid and something I can brag about shamelessly.
David Montgomery and Joe Mixon are busts
I almost said droppable, but the running back landscape is too ugly to let go of them even if they’re completely unstartable. Joe Mixon had one of the most bizarre stat lines I’ve ever seen this week (10 rushes for 2 yards), and it’s the last straw in a long line of frustrating games. Mixon has literally been outscored on the ground by Tom Brady in their last two games. There were concerns about the offensive line going into fantasy draft season, but I don’t think even the biggest anti-Mixon drafters out there saw this type of production coming. The lack of dedication to use him in the passing game is beyond confusing, especially for someone like Zac Taylor who is supposed to be an offensive-minded coach. He’s not someone that can be in your lineup unless something significant changes, and he’s looking like one of the biggest busts of the season (alongside O.J Howard). David Montgomery is in a similar scenario in Chicago, and the outlook is just as bleak. A lot of people are complaining about Nagy’s lack of dedication to Montgomery, but facts are facts. Montgomery is only averaging 3.3 YPC and that’s not completely on him, but his output isn’t enough to demand a huge workload either. The Bears offense as a whole is confusing and frustrating, and Matt Nagy keeps saying things will change but keeps calling similar plays in a predictable fashion. Neither one of these guys can be in your lineup, and I fully expect them to be dropped in plenty of leagues this week. I wouldn’t recommend it given the scarcity at the running back position, but you simply can’t start them.
Kliff Kingsbury doesn’t care about your fantasy team
Seriously Kliff? SERIOUSLY?! YOU’RE GOING TO TELL US DAVID JOHNSON IS ACTIVE, THEN TELL US AFTER THE GAME THAT HE WAS ONLY AVAILABLE FOR EMERGENCIES?! I don’t have much more to say than what I just yelled. Kingsbury gave us the old okey-doke and ruined a lot of games for a lot of people, and there was no way around it if you were one of them. If someone like David Johnson is active, you play him. It’s that simple. Chase Edmonds made the most of his opportunity and might have forced Kingsbury to get him on the field more, especially if this injury to DJ lingers (which it seems like it’s going to). If you own Johnson in league, this was one of the most tilting things I’ve seen in a long time. Rumor has it the Cardinals are working out Jay Ajayi, which indicates that this could be a more serious injury than some expect, but it could just an insurance move for D.J Foster who backs up Edmonds. Keep an eye on the news reports this week, and make sure you hold onto Edmonds even if DJ returns because his season has been one long “questionable” tag and he’s 27 which is ancient for a running back.
The Falcons are awful
I said last week that Dan Quinn might be on the hot seat since the Falcons got torched in back to weeks, but this week I think his seat resembles the Iron Throne after Drogon burned it to the ground in season seven of Game of Thrones (if you haven’t watched it yet, you can’t be mad about spoilers). Quinn’s Falcons had a huge opportunity to win a big game against a struggling Rams team, and they went out and laid down like a puppy who found a patch of sunlight in the kitchen. They gave up over thirty points for the third straight week, and they didn’t even look ready to compete. Ito Smith was carted off the field early in the first half which was a scary scene, and Matt Ryan suffered an injury a little over a quarter later. We have yet to receive news on how serious the injury looks, but the Falcons have zero reasons to rush him back if it’s anything significant. The potential for this team to return to their 2017 form has evaporated and Quinn could be out of a job as early as tomorrow. It’s a sad situation because he’s universally well-liked and I hoped he would succeed, but at this point, their team isn’t even a threat which is a shocker given the talent on the roster.
Lamar Jackson is the most exciting player to watch since Michael Vick
It’s 2003. I’m sitting at my parents’ house in Pinckney, Michigan. I sit down on the couch, press the shiny button on my Xbox 360 and fire up Madden 2004. Naturally, I navigate to the Atlanta Falcons, set my concession stand prices and build a custom stadium, then dominate the franchise mode with one player for 365 days straight: Michael Vick. Regardless of what he went through off the field, there’s no denying how ridiculously electric Vick was as a player in Atlanta. He did things on the field we had never seen before, and worried we may never see again… until now. Lamar Jackson is one of the most fun players I’ve ever watched, and I’ve seen a LOT of football. His ability to extend a play and gain something out of nothing is truly special, and we should all be honored to watch him play. His passing statistics have come back to earth, but he’s still maintaining lights out fantasy performances because of his ability on the ground. I had a coworker playing against me in a fantasy league this week, and he told me he went to the kitchen to grab some food and came back to see me in the lead in our game faster than he could make a sandwich, all because of Lamar Jackson. The two superstars behind center in Baltimore and Kansas City are the future of this league and a dream come true for primetime TV, and I’m stoked to watch them play (most) Sundays for the next twenty years.
Aaron Rodgers is still a baller
Rodgers had the first perfect passer rating of his career this week, and boy was it a sight for sore eyes. It was a vintage Rodgers performance and he was chucking the ball all over the yard to guys I didn’t even know had roster spots in the league. The Lazard King stayed fairly quiet, but we finally got to see the MVS explosion we’ve been predicting since week one (although not many of you were starting him, I’d assume). Rodgers may not be the same guy he was five years ago, but it’s very clear that on any given week he can get his 20th kill in Call of Duty and go absolutely nuclear (that’s a joke for all my fellow nerds out there). Rodgers still only has two games this season where he finished as a top-five quarterback so it’s not like he’s an every-week starter (yep, I said that), but in the right matchups he has a higher ceiling than just about anyone. Rodgers playing at his peak is must-see-TV and a delight for fantasy owners. Once Davante Adams returns to the lineup we may see that combination win people some Week 14 playoff matchups against Washington, and I’m here for it.
Ryan Tannehill is an upgrade
The Marcus Mariota experiment has come to an end. The future of the former #2 overall pick isn’t clear right now, but one part of it certainly is: The Titans are done with him. Ryan Tannehill started their Week 7 game and led them to a particularly bizarre last-second victory. Tannehill isn’t someone that is going to change the course of a franchise, but he’s definitely an upgrade from Mariota. It’s nice to see a quarterback who’s at least willing to take some chances and throw into a tight window, which should benefit the receivers in Tennessee…. slightly. Please don’t take this as a ringing endorsement for Tannehill as a fantasy option or think I’m predicting the resurrection of Corey Davis Szn, because I’m not. It’s more about the end of an era for the Titans and Marcus Mariota. He was always a sleeper pick since he had some impressive performances in his rookie year, but it’s all been downhill since then. I would have to assume the Titans will take a quarterback in next year’s draft, and Mariota should find a home as a quality backup somewhere else. Both him and Jameis Winston have underperformed given their draft equity, and for now, it’s the Ryan Tannehill show (but I don’t blame you if you change the channel).
The Vikings pass catchers are alive
Full disclaimer: Stefon Diggs is one of my favorite players. He’s an elite route runner and has all the tools to be a top 10 receiver for years to come. For that reason specifically, I was beyond frustrated through the first four weeks and was claiming Diggs to be a sell candidate for obvious reasons. The squeaky wheels got some grease in week five, and ever since then, the passing attack in Minnesota has been strong. Diggs had a monster performance in week six and followed it up with another solid outing against Detroit this week (although he dropped a game-clinching touchdown). I don’t think Diggs is someone who you should be dying to sell anymore given the perceived change in offensive philosophy, but I wouldn’t ignore offers if people think he’s back on top of the world. The Vikings coaching staff has too long of a track record to assume they’ll completely commit to the passing game, and Kirk Cousins still has the potential to flop on any given week. Diggs is a great option for the time being but he’s a sneaky sell high if a league-mate will pay top dollar.