NFL Week 7 Intel Report

We’ll do the Monday Night Game later tonight after it ends. But included here: replacements for Kenyan Drake, Odell Beckham and Chris Carson; is Mike Evans in trouble? The Cowboys’ offensive collapse; the Bills come back to Earth; Is D’Andre Swift taking over in Detroit?

  • First up, the injury report: Chase Edmonds immediately becomes the top waiver wire pickup of the week. Kenyan Drake’s ankle injury certainly looked bad, you could just tell by looking at his face that he was in extreme pain. But apparently the X-rays came back negative, meaning no broken bones. Drake will probably miss several weeks. Edmonds, if he’s available, is a huge pickup. He’s going to get all of Drake’s work plus probably retain his own passing-down work. With Drake out Edmonds is an RB1.
  • Next on the injury report: Odell Beckham. He tore his ACL and is out for the season. Jarvis Landry‘s value goes up, as does Rashard Higgins, who had 6 catches for 110 yards against Cincy. Browns TE Harrison Bryant looks like he might be worth a pick up, but keep in mind Austin Hooper missed the game with appendicitis, so keep that in mind with Bryant.
  • Carlos Hyde filled in well for Chris Carson after Carson left the game with a “mid-foot sprain.” Hyde finished with 15 carries for 68 yards and a TD, plus 3 receptions for 8 yards. Ian Rapoport says Carson is now “week to week” and “will miss some time.” So go out and grab Hyde, especially because third-string RB Travis Homer also hurt his knee in the game. Hyde should be in line for a big workload, if only for just week 8.
  • Tyler Lockett went absolutely bonkers against the Cardinals, much to the dismay of DK Metcalf owners everywhere. Lockett finished with the best fantasy game of the season thus far, 53.0 PPR points: 15 catches on 20 targets for 200 yards and 3 touchdowns. Metcalf, on the other hand, only had 2 catches on 5 targets for 23 yards. You had to assume a game like this was coming for Metcalf. His efficiency was absolutely incredible through the first five games of the season, and at some point he had to come back down to earth. But I am still not worried about him going forward–the Cardinals have some good playmakers in their secondary (Patrick Peterson and Budda Baker) who were able to keep Metcalf in check, which was a major reason Lockett was able to go off. Although Peterson did not exactly shadow Metcalf, and he was sometimes covering Lockett (including on 2 of Lockett’s TD catches), he was mostly assigned to Metcalf, leaving Lockett to abuse Dre Kirkpatrick. I think this game was a reminder that Lockett is still the #1 in Seattle and that he generally has a higher ceiling than Metcalf. I am still high on Metcalf ROS, however. Both guys are good receivers playing with possibly the best QB in the league. Don’t overthink this.
  • We now have a sample size of 4 games in which Mike Evans and Chris Godwin are both on the field at the same time, and the prognosis for Evans owners is not good: 6 total catches combined in all the games Godwin has played. Despite missing three games this year, Godwin clearly has a much better connection with Brady than Evans does. He had 9 catches on 9 targets for 88 yards and a TD, plus he was tackled on the one-inch line on what should’ve been his second TD of the game. Godwin and Scotty Miller tied for the team lead in targets with 9 apiece, while Gronk had 8, and Leonard Fournette had 7. Evans only had 2 targets, catching both for a total of 37 yards.
  • Brady is 4th in the league in passing attempts with 268 through 7 games, which comes out to an average of 38.3 per game. So you’d assume there are enough targets to go around so that Godwin, Evans, Gronk and the running backs can all be viable fantasy-wise. But the problem for Evans is, Scotty Miller is taking a decent amount of targets, too. He had 9 against Vegas and has 32 total through 6 games played. Evans has 39 in 7 games. It’s entirely possible this is due to Evans’s ankle not being 100%, plus him drawing double coverages and leaving Miller to feast in one-on-one matchups. You have to assume that when Antonio Brown is on the field he will take most, if not all, of Miller’s targets, but I also think another side-effect of AB could be that it will leave Mike Evans in one-on-one matchups more frequently. The conventional wisdom is that if Evans isn’t fantasy-relevant with Godwin on the field, he’s going to be even worse with both Godwin and AB on the field at the same time. But it’s possible that AB opens the field up for Evans and enables him to catch more deep passes in one-on-one coverage.
  • Diontae Johnson owners probably benched him this week, figuring he would have to prove he could stay healthy for a game before putting him back in the starting lineup. It made sense given that they had been burned by him twice in recent weeks. So of course he goes off for 29 points including 2 TDs. Ben clearly loves this guy, as he gave Johnson 15 targets, which Johnson was able to turn into 9 catches for 80 yards and of course two TDs. Some analysts were critical of the fact that Johnson was only able to turn his 15 targets into 80 yards, but this guy is still developing chemistry with Big Ben. Remember, this is only Diontate’s third full game with Big Ben as his QB. Plus, it’s not like Juju was significantly more efficient than Johnson: Juju, after an abysmal 2 catches for 6 yards performance against the Browns in week 6, roared back to fantasy relevance with 9 catches for 85 yards on 14 targets against the Titans.
  • Johnson and Juju dominated the targets in that Steelers offense, which was bad news for Chase Claypool owners. Claypool only had one catch on one target for -2 yards, for a pathetic 0.8 PPR points. I think most of us figured that though Claypool’s two huge games came with Diontae Johnson out, he had at least earned himself a consistent role in that offense going forward. Well, apparently not. We’ll see going forward how the Steelers manage to keep all three of their top wide receivers involved, but the recent history of this team would indicate the third WR is usually the odd man out. But right now it looks like Diontae and Juju are at the top of the pecking order, while Claypool is a distant third when Johnson is healthy.
  • James Conner had a modest day fantasy-wise, but he probably should’ve had two TDs. Sometimes you just don’t get the breaks to go your way. He’ll be just fine going forward.
  • As for the Titans, Ryan Tannehill had a good-not-great day against the league’s best defense. Tanne-thrill will be just fine going forward. AJ Brown had 6 catches for 153 yards and a TD, including a 73-yard catch and run in the third quarter. This dude is a home-run hitter. I would not be worried about him at all. Derrick Henry had a modest day–20 carries for 75 yards and a TD, 2 receptions for -3 yards, a total of 15.2 PPR points. But it was also against the best run defense in the NFL.
  • The Cowboys are a complete disaster. They just got boatraced 25-3 by the Washington Football Team and it looks like their offense has gone from a fantasy goldmine to a fantasy wasteland. Zeke Elliott, who has been one of the most rock-solid fantasy RBs since entering the league in 2016, is now a non-factor. He had 12 carries for 45 yards, and 1 catch for 6 yards, finishing with just 6.1 PPR points. It was by far his worst game of the season, even worse than the Monday night disaster in which he fumbled twice. Judging by his fantasy scoring record on Pro Football Reference, this was the third-worst fantasy performance of Zeke’s entire career (63 games total).
  • As for the Cowboys’ pass catchers: CeeDee Lamb, who came into this week as the WR10 overall in PPR, had zero catches on five targets and finished with 0.1 fantasy points–just one rush for one yard. It was by far his worst game of the season. Michael Gallup only had 2 targets, catching none of them and posting a bagel for the week. Amari Cooper fared better than those two, putting up 15.5 PPR points for the week: 7 catches on 7 targets for 80 yards plus a rush for 5 yards. It’s true that Andy Dalton was knocked out of the game with a concussion in the third quarter, but prior to that point he was only 9/19 for 75 yards with a pick. You cannot trust any of these Cowboys receivers if that’s the kind of numbers their passing game is generating. Third-stringer Ben DiNucci replaced Dalton in the third and only completed 2/3 passes for 39 yards. This is not a fantasy-relevant offense anymore. When Dak Prescott went down with his horrific injury, everyone thought he had just cost himself tens of millions of dollars. But the way this offense has looked without Dak, I think Dak actually earned himself a massive contract. I was a Dak Doubter™ until this week. I am now a Dak Believer™. That offense is completely and totally worthless without him under center.
  • With Zeke’s season taking an abrupt nosedive, it now appears that at half of the top-10 fantasy draft picks are essentially busts. McCaffrey has been out for five weeks and counting, Saquon is out for the season, Zeke has fallen off a cliff, Michael Thomas has played one game (in which he only scored 4.3 points) and is apparently turning into a problem in the locker room, Clyde Edwards-Helaire is now in a time-share backfield with Lev Bell. There’s still hope for CMC, Zeke and Thomas to turn it around this season, however.
  • It gets even worse when you look at the top running backs drafted. On top of those guys just listed in the previous bullet point, Miles Sanders is hurt again; Ekeler is injured; Joe Mixon just missed the game against Cleveland and may miss next week as well; Nick Chubb sustained a 6-8 week injury in week 4; Kenyan Drake just went down. Aaron Jones did miss this week’s game against Houston but his injury is not considered to be serious. It’s a bloodbath out there for running backs.
  • Speaking of which: James Robinson is now the overall RB2 in PPR. He would have been incredibly valuable even had so many of the top running backs not gotten injured, but the fact that you probably got him for free and he is now the overall RB2 more than halfway through the fantasy season solidifies him as one of the best waiver wire pickups ever. He is an every-week must-start.
  • Is D’Andre Swift taking over the Detroit backfield? Now he didn’t have a great game against Atlanta (a modest 14.8 PPR points–9 carries for 27 yards, 1 TD, 4 receptions for 21 yards on 5 targets) but fantasy owners have got to be encouraged by what they’re seeing from him in the two weeks since Detroit’s bye. According to SB Nation, Swift got 45% of the Lions snaps at RB, up from his 38% last week. Adrian Peterson had 31%, Kerryon Johnson had 23%. Kerryon had zero carries and zero receptions, so it now appears to be a two man show in that backfield consisting of Swift and AP. Peterson had 11 carries to Swift’s 9, yet Peterson only had 29 yards on those 11 carries, meaning he actually had a lower YPC than Swift. Plus Swift turned his goal-line area carry into a TD from the 3 yard line, while Peterson was unable to find the end zone on his lone goal-line carry, also from the 3.
  • While it is encouraging that Swift is now leading the team in snaps, he’s not really translating that into significantly more touches than Peterson. Swift had 13 touches on 28 snaps, while Peterson had 12 touches on 19 snaps. For this reason I’m not fully aboard the D’Andre Swift hype train. I love his talent and have been a fan of his since his Georgia Bulldogs days, but Adrian Peterson caps his upside quite a bit. Swift’s fantasy output in week 7 was largely due to him getting a TD. He’s still very much TD-dependent at this point. Things look to be trending in Swift’s direction, but it’s unlikely the team will phase Peterson out entirely. Swift owners want to see him in the 14-16 carries per game range in order for him to be a potential league-winner. Obviously he’s still flex-worthy and startable–after all he’s the RB22 in PPR currently.
  • Justin Herbert is a star already. He is on pace to have the greatest rookie QB season ever in terms of TDs and passing yards–better than Andrew Luck, better than Peyton Manning, better than anyone ever. This is the last week he will be available on your waiver wire, but more likely he’s already been picked up. This week just confirmed it: he’s the real deal.
  • Todd Gurley had two TDs, but he didn’t even want to score the second one. He is now a TD Dependent RB, but until he stops scoring TDs, I would not worry about him. He currently has 7 on the year, and in the two games he didn’t find the end-zone (week 2 vs. Dallas, week 6 vs. Minnesota) he had 6.1 and 9.7 PPR points respectively, by far his two worst games of the season. You’re going to need the TDs out of him in order for him to have a good day. It’s as simple as that. He’s the RB8 on the season.
  • Julio Jones had a typically solid Julio Jones day. 8 catches on 9 targets for 97 yards, for 17.7 PPR points. He’s got a fantastic floor and obviously has significant upside when he manages to get a TD. Calvin Ridley had 19.9 points but on 5 catches (7 targets) for 69 yards and a TD. Ridley has a knack for finding the end zone, but he is more reliant on TDs than Julio is. Falcons tight end Hayden Hurst seems to have finally found his stride in Atlanta. He had 6 catches for 68 yards plus an incredible hurdle of a Lions defender. People may have given up on this guy earlier in the season but he looks to have figured it out with Matt Ryan and now has a decent floor, which is very rare for a tight end. Plus they were in a neutral game script, so you have to be pretty happy with all of the Falcons’ main pass-catchers from top to bottom.
  • The Bills almost lost to the Jets and Devin Singletary only had 6.7 PPR points–8 carries for 29 yards, 2 catches for 18 yards. Zack Moss had a better game than Singletary, going for 10.2 PPR points–7 rushes for 47 yards, plus 3 catches for 25 yards. Now, Singletary did get 5 targets to Moss’ 3, and he did lead the backfield in snaps 54% to Moss’ 47%, but Moss was way more efficient with carries. I think at this point you’d still have to say Singletary is slightly ahead of Moss, but it’s not by much. I don’t think it was a coincidence that Singletary had his fewest rushing attempts of the season. The Bills are a team that appear to be heading in the wrong direction, and so is this backfield. Does not appear to be a ton of value back there. As for QB Josh Allen, who got off to a red-hot start going for 28.1, 34.5, 31.2 and 25.3 in his first four games, has now gone for 16.2, 15.0 and 16.3 in his past three. However, one bright spot on Buffalo’s offense was Cole Beasley, who had 11 catches on 12 targets for 112 yards against the Jets. This guy is the WR19 currently and is still only rostered in 41.8% of ESPN leagues. He has only had one game this season under 10 PPR points, and it was 9.8 in week 1. This guy will get you between 10-20 points in PPR reliably, and I don’t understand why he’s still flying under the radar. It helped a lot that John Brown was out of that game, which bumped Beasely up in the pecking order, but Beasley has still showed an ability to produce with a decent floor even when Brown is healthy.
  • Nelson Agholor had 5 catches on 9 targets for 107 yards and a TD in the Raiders’ 45-20 loss to Tampa. He has had at least 14 PPR points in his past three games, although he has also had TDs in all three of those games. His production has been dependent on getting TDs, but he has also seen his target share increase as of late. He tied with Darren Waller for the team lead in targets. Given that Agholor has been around a while, I’m not going to sit here and say he’s breaking out and turning into an elite player, but he could very well be the second-best pass catcher on the Raiders behind Waller. I think Agholor is definitley worth a pick up in fantasy.
  • I am completely out on the New England Patriots. I want nothing to do with any of their players. Cam Newton I’m sure will bounce back–he had a pathetic -0.3 fantasy points this week throwing for just 98 yards and 3 INTs against the 49ers. But he just did not look good. Nobody on that offense could get anything going. Brady had this team 12-4 last year and everyone thought he was washed up because his passing numbers were not great. Brady defenders said he had a terrible supporting cast, yet this was derided as “making excuses.” Well, now we’re seeing just how little Brady had to work with last season. For the 2018 and 2019 seasons, Brady was the Patriots’ entire offense. Their offensive personnel right now consists of the same guys Brady had to work with last year and in the 2018 Super Bowl year. The only difference is last year the Patriots had Sanu and this year they have Harry. Brady elevated that offense way beyond its true skill level. Now that we see what that Patriots offense looks like without Brady, it’s pretty obvious that he was the one holding that team together during his last few years there. As much of a genius as Belichick is, if you don’t have great players, you’re not going to win many games.
  • 49ers RB Jeff Wilson Jr. would have been one of my top waiver wire picks after running 17 times for 112 yards and 3 TDs, but he had a high ankle sprain at the end of that game and probably won’t see the field for several weeks.
  • The Jets’ La’Mical Perine had 13.5 PPR points but most of that was due to a TD he got. He split carries evenly with Frank Gore. I am completely out on the Jets still, I want nothing to do with their offense. If you’re desperate, however, you could probably do a lot worse than Perine.
  • Randall Cobb had 8 receptions on 10 targets for 95 yards against the Packers. He’s ranked as the WR33 in PPR and is only owned in 13.7% of leagues. His reception numbers have been all over the place from game to game, but I would absolutely try to pick this guy up. He’ll give you depth and provide a solid floor, and that offense is far more attractive since the O’Brien firing.
  • If you don’t have one of the top 4 TEs (Kelce, Kittle, Waller, Andrews) and you find yourself streaming the position, don’t be afraid to drop guys from week to week. While the prevailing view in the fantasy community is that tight end is a wasteland, this week you could have found tremendous value out there on the waiver wire. There were at least 7 tight ends that scored over 10 PPR points despite being under 10% ownership in ESPN leagues: Harrison Bryant, Logan Thomas, Richard Rodgers, Albert Okwuegbunam, Tyler Kroft, Drew Sample and David Njoku. I’m kicking myself for holding on to Tonyan in my belief that there’s almost zero production at TE outside of the top four. It turns out that there were 14 guys available on my waiver wire that had better days than Tonyan, who went for just 5.2. I would say there’s enough consistent depth at the TE position that you really don’t need to roster a backup if you own one of the top 4 guys. And I would not at all be afraid to stream the position if I didn’t have one of the top four guys.

Octavian

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