Fantasy Overview, Week 7

Get yourself caught up on what's going on in the league as we enter Week 7 of the NFL season. Here's my take on the fantasy landscape around the league and how you can benefit. 

Let's take a look at which position players are HOT over the last three weeks (PPR scoring). I'll share my thoughts on certain players who should sustain success and those who may drop over the next few games. 

QUARTERBACK TOP 15 (WEEKS 4-6)

expect success to continue

The Top 5 for the most part, should stay in the Top 10 in the coming weeks, even Philip Rivers. The Chargers have a home game vs. Denver this week which isn't the best matchup, but we saw Eli Manning dissect the Broncos on Sunday Night. I'm not going out of my way to promote Rivers, but the following week he'll be at New England, which has been the most favorable matchup for quarterbacks this season. 

Deshaun Watson has earned his spot at the top and I don't see him falling out of the Top 6 anytime soon. His rushing ability and the weapons he is developing on offense makes him difficult to bench, even in games that aren't in his favor. We'll see how matchup proof he is in the next few games as he'll have battles at Seattle and at Los Angeles (Rams) in two of the next three games after this week's bye. 

Alex Smith and the Chiefs should rebound after the loss to Pittsburgh, who just seem to have their number. Smith is in the midst of a career year and he'll be tested with some tough games coming up. At Oakland, home vs Denver and at Dallas. These are all winnable games for the upstart Chiefs, but I can see them being challenged. I would not be surprised to see Smith drop a few notches down the rankings, but he's a Top 10 quarterback in my mind moving forward. 

Cam Newton appears to be back to form after offseason shoulder surgery slowed him in the first quarter of the season. Carolina has a favorable schedule going forward with more positive matchups than negative ones. The next three, include games at Chicago, at Tampa Bay and home vs. Atlanta. If Carolina can figure out their ground game, it will help Newton's chances of having more of a balanced attack, which ultimately will be better for his fantasy stock.

Carson Wentz may be one of the biggest surprises at the quarterback position this season. The Eagles are playing well on both sides of the ball and Wentz has taken a giant leap forward in his second year. His level of play has improved dramatically and it's showing in his fantasy ranking. 

Tom Brady, Dak Prescott and Kirk Cousins should keep their rank in the standings or see an increase. I don't see them dropping off anytime soon. 

Candidate for climbing into the Top 15 - Tyrod Taylor. The Bills will host the Buccaneers and Raiders before traveling to New York (Jets). Taylor is on the cusp of being a legit fantasy start, especially this week coming off a bye, facing the Buccaneers who allow the second most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks. Only New England is worse. 

LOOK FOR A DECLINE IN THE COMING WEEKS

I'm not sold on Carson Palmer or Eli Manning and a lot of my disinterest stems from their intermittent offensive line play. I have been impressed with Manning's ability to release the ball quickly recently, but in doing so, the longer pass plays are few and far between. Palmer has struggled against strong defensive fronts, which tells me any given week he could struggle. I don't see him staying in the Top 10 long term. 

Jameis Winston is battling a shoulder injury that might shelve him this week. If so, it would definitely move him further down the ranks, but I have not been high on him up to this point. He has been inaccurate on several throws, especially those over 20 yards and he has made some questionable decisions that resulted in 7 interceptions. His athletic ability has kept him afloat for the most part, but the needle is pointing down rather than up for me regarding Winston. 

running back TOP 20 (WEEKS 4-6)

Current state of the union

The Top 4 listed above seem to be a permanent fixture in the Top 5 rankings, not just in the last three weeks. Kareem Hunt, who is 7th in this span, hasn't produced like he did in the first quarter of the season. He's a mainstay in the Chiefs offense, both as a rusher and receiver, which makes him a hot commodity. Hunt has not produced a touchdown in the last three games but he's still a Top 10 running back in that span. Teams will be looking to stop him, and the Chiefs have some tough matchups coming up. Home vs. Denver, at Dallas, home vs. Buffalo and even the games at New York (both Giants and Jets) could be a struggle if their defenses continue to play well. I imagine Hunt will stay near where he is now, but I would not be shocked if he drops off some.  

Only Antonio Brown, James White and Larry Fitzgerald have more receptions than Christian McCaffrey in the last three games. The Panthers rookie back is on pace to exceed 90 receptions this year, which only a handful of rookies have done before (see image below). From a PPR stance, McCaffrey has been worth his draft position, especially thanks to two straight games with a touchdown. If he can find a way to break some big plays he'll be able to stay in the Top 12-15. Scoring will help keep him there as well. His stock is high right now, which leads me to believe he won't be able to sustain his place among the ranks. Top 15-20 seems more like his sweet spot. Rinse and repeat with Duke Johnson Jr

Jerick McKinnon is a slightly different animal, because he has shown that he can be a legitimate rusher along with being a solid receiving back. He's also getting into the end zone (three scores in the last three games), which helps his current stock. I don't see him sustaining that level of success. Top 20-15 seems more like his ceiling going forward. 

Lamar Miller has two touchdowns this year (both occurred in the same game - Week 4 vs Tennessee) and he's 7th among running backs in total rushing and receiving yards. Miller has exceeded 80 total yards in every game but one this season. In short, he's consitently putting up strong numbers week after week, despite only two touchdowns. The Texans offense and their proppensity to score points adds to Miller's value, but I still feel like D'Onta Foreman is one big play away from commanding more playing time. I expect Miller to drop off some, but still be a Top 15 back. 

The Saints have two legit fantasy backs in Mark Ingram II and Alvin Kamara, especially in PPR format. Now that Adrian Peterson is out of the picture, the Saints duo can concentrate on being a big piece of the Saints offensive game plan. I expect both to take a leap forward in the rankings and at worst, stay at their current position. New Orleans had their bye week and they have one of the better schedules in the league going forward. 

Jordan Howard has been playing well lately and figures to be moving up rather than down in the coming weeks. He's a staple of the Bears offense and as long as he's doing well, the Bears will be competitive. 

New England backs are still a work in progress and with Rex Burkhead (rib injury) coming back soon, the Patriots backfield only gets more muddy. Dion Lewis has seen an increase in snaps lately, but he has only two receptions in the last two games (6 total this year). James White is still the primary receiving back. His 33 receptions leads the team and he trails only Christian McCaffrey (37) for the most receptions by a running back. I still see White having a role with team, but that could get slowed with Burkhead's return. I can see him (Burkhead) getting a chance at some point, but for now, White is the back to own in New England. 

At some point we need to start talking about Derrick Henry. DeMarco Murray seems to be wearing down as nagging injuries and ailments continue to slow him. Henry is going to be a big fantasy producer at some point. The only question is when? If Henry continues to play well and be more reliable than Murray, that time could be now. 

wide receiver top 20 (WEEKS 4-6)

State of the union

At first glance I see only three wide receivers in the Top 20 of this list who have played 10 years or more. Larry Fitzgerald, Jordy Nelson and Danny Amendola. It's a younger man's game and that's evident by the 11 wide receivers in the Top 20 who are five-year veterans or younger. Who would've thought that Will Fuller V, Devin Funchess and Nelson Agholor would be in the Top 25 let alone the Top 12. Obviously this is only a view of the last three weeks, but all three are complimentary fixtures in their respective offenses. The ebb and flow of the season will eventually iron these players out, but it's difficult to think either will fall below the Top 25 based on their team's play and how each player is featured in their offense. Funchess may be the one who drops out (once Greg Olsen returns in mid-late November), but even he has made big strides in his third year. If Cam Newton continues to excel closer to his 2015 form than his 2016 form, Funchess will find a niche. 

As good as Deshaun Watson has been, I don't see Houston sustaining two top 10 wide receivers in DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller V. Both receivers have scored five touchdowns in the last three games. I don't see that level of production continuing, but they won't fall off the wide receiver rankings either. As long as the points keep flowing, the Texans receiving duo should continue to produce, but I'm not so sure that will happen. Teams will scheme to stop Watson and the schedule is going to get a bit tougher after the bye with road games at Seattle and Los Angeles. It's possible that Houston's level of play will stay close to what it is now, but a drop off, even if slight, seems imminent. Fuller has had an amzing three game stretch, but it would be a huge surprise to see him sustain that level over the next three games. 

The loss of Aaron Rodgers is going to have a negative effect on Jordy Nelson and Davante Adams. I don't see Brett Hundley winning games with his arm, like Rodgers can, but I also don't think he'll be void of making plays. Nelson, Adams and the Packers offense may not put up the same number of points, but they will make plays here and there, just not as consistent as they would if Rodgers was under center. I can see both hovering around the Top 30-20 range with Nelson being the better of the two. 

Julio Jones and Michael Thomas should rebound in the coming weeks. Both have had their bye week, both have a capable quarterback and both have a favorable remaining schedule. 

Adam Thielen, Pierre Garcon and Keenan Allen each have 33 receptions or more with 1 or fewer touchdowns. They are due to come alive sooner rather than later. Demaryius Thomas can be added to that list (28 receptions in one fewer game). 

Wide receivers with 200+ yards receiving in the last three weeks

tight End Top 15 (WEEKS 4-6)

State of the union

Tight end consistency is difficult to find. Success seems to come in waves for the most part with only a few dominant performers like Zach Ertz, Travis Kelce and Rob Gronkowski this season. The lastest group to have success is the above group led by Cameron Brate, with surprising performances from Ed Dickson, Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Hunter Henry and George Kittle

Who can sustain the success? Cameron Brate's three game stretch has bumped him into the Top 3 for the season, despite playing in one less game than the others. I have a feeling his success could be sustained this year. His usage and success in the red zone is a big reason why. Austin Seferian-Jekins is another player who is leaping up the ranks. Since he returned from suspension in Week 3, Seferian-Jenkins leads the Jets in targets (29), receptions (23) and receiving touchdowns (2). A flash in the pan player usually doesn't go away with that amount of involvement unless an injury strikes. Look for Seferian-Jenkins to continue to be a fantasy threat moving forward. 

Hunter Henry has played well over the last few games, thanks to two touchdowns in that span. Unlike Seferian-Jenkins, Henry is fourth on the team in targets (18) and receptions (10) despite seeing an increase in production. In short, he has not displayed the characteristics necessary to think his level of play will be sustained. 

Tyler Kroft is one to watch now that Tyler Eifert is on IR with a back injury. Kroft is second on the Bengals in targets (16) receptions (13) and receiving touchdowns (2) in the Bengals last three games. A possibility remains open for Kroft to secure a key role in the Bengals offense moving forward. Andy Dalton has looked towards his tight ends often, which bodes well for Kroft's chances of sustaining fantasy relevance in the next few weeks.

The injuries in the Giants receiving corps have opened the door for Evan Engram to thrive. Given the current state of the Giants, Engram could find himself being one of the team's top 2 targeted receivers going forward. As a result, his stock should rise and could land him in the Top 6 at season's end. 

 

Questions, suggestions and comments are always welcome to haseley@footballguys.com