Cooper Kupp, L.A. Rams in Store for Big Week
NFL Week 7 - It finally feels like fall. Not only has the NFL upped its teams on bye from four last week to six this week—the Bills, Cowboys, Vikings, Steelers, Chargers, and Jaguars—the weather has started to turn. The Broncos and Browns tonight, Colts and 49ers on Sunday night, and Saints and Seahawks on Monday night may see some rain, four games have forecasted temperatures in the 50s, and some have moderate to heavy winds. With so many players on bye or likely to underperform in poor conditions, it is a critical week to mind your matchups.
The following tables feature the players with the best and worst matchups of the week. Each listed player shows a true-talent (TT) ranking that represents how I would rank him with a perfectly neutral game context. Then, that ranking is adjusted by adding the context of the venue (Ven)—home and road and dome and outside—the forecasted weather (Wea), and opponent tendencies (Opp). The line beneath those rankings shows how much those contextual factors move projected PPR fantasy points. That total (Tot) number gives you a comprehensive estimate of how many fantasy points the player will score this week more or less than his typical total.
You can see our full weekly projections with projected stats, matchup adjustments and fantasy points by subscribing to FO+.
|Best Week 7 Matchups - Quarterbacks|
Players with Lions matchups sure end up on the top lists most weeks, don't they? I feel bad piling on since I love head coach Dan Campbell and since Detroit is hardly of an outlier of a poor defensive team with the 27th overall and 25th DVOA pass defense. But Matthew Stafford won't just have the benefits of an opponent that boosts passing yards and touchdowns by 37% and 59% per attempt, both the most in football. He'll have his home dome, a further increaser of yards and touchdowns by 7% and 9% per attempt. Stafford has averaged 0.8 more fantasy points per game at home than on the road in recent seasons, and while that bridges his time with the Lions—revenge game?—and now the Rams, that is a typical split for a passer with a home dome stadium. He was already a no-brainer start with six teams on bye. But with the matchup boosts, Stafford is top-five for me this week.
If your normal quarterback has the week off, know that there is a steep tier drop from Aaron Rodgers (20.9 projected points) at seventh and Teddy Bridgewater (19.6) at eighth in my weekly rankings at the position. But Bridgewater and Derek Carr are atypical top-10 weekly options that might be on some waiver wires. Carr has the more obvious plus matchup. The Eagles are an average pass defense (12th in DVOA), but they increase passing touchdown rate by 22%, and Carr draws them at home in his dome in Las Vegas. He has averaged 1.9 more fantasy points at home than on the road in recent seasons.
Bridgewater has some good and some bad in his matchup. The Browns are a top-three booster of passing touchdown rate (51%) but are neutral for passing yards and cut pass plays by 4% with a ball-control running offense. Meanwhile, the game is on the road in Cleveland where there is a 48% chance of rain and 17 mph sustained winds with gusts to 26 mph tonight. Subjectively, I'm worried that the Broncos may try to lean even more heavily on Melvin Gordon and Javonte Williams than usual in those conditions and hope that will be enough to beat a team missing its star offensive players in Baker Mayfield, Nick Chubb, and Kareem Hunt. But Bridgewater has also been more effective this season than his averages of 252 yards and 1.7 touchdowns would suggest. Those numbers are weighted down by an injury in the Ravens game that knocked him out after just 16 pass attempts. Meanwhile, Bridgewater has faced one of the most difficult quarterback schedules for fantasy points to start the season. He threw for 334 yards and three touchdowns against the Raiders last week and could have similar success facing teams such as Cleveland, Washington, and Dallas in the coming weeks.
Best DraftKings Values: Teddy Bridgewater ($900 underpriced at $5,600), Tua Tagovailoa ($700 underpriced at $5,500), Jalen Hurts ($700 underpriced at $6,900)
Best FanDuel Values: Teddy Bridgewater ($500 underpriced at $7,200), Jalen Hurts ($400 underpriced at $8,300), Tom Brady ($300 underpriced at $8,000)
If you want to spend some money at quarterback or play a Sunday-only slate, Jalen Hurts and Tom Brady look like your best bets. Hurts is a bit cheaper in DraftKings this week than he was the previous two weeks, which I assume is because of a road start against a Raiders team that is better than expected as the 17th DVOA pass defense. But I don't expect Hurts to follow the typical opponent trends with a style of play that has netted him about as many fantasy points from running (59.0) as from passing (80.2). Meanwhile, the road start should be good in this case since the Raiders play in a dome and Hurts has averaged 1.8 fewer fantasy points at home, a total that makes sense given the sometimes-difficult weather conditions in his exposed stadium in Philadelphia.
Brady does not have a plus matchup. The Bears have a standout pass defense (sixth in DVOA) made worse as a fantasy matchup by a poor run defense (23rd). Teams have their best luck by running the ball on the Bears and throw 3% fewer passes per game against them. Brady is a FanDuel value because of his $8,000 price, and it's odd because it's unique to the platform. He's only $300 less expensive in DraftKings despite a pricing structure that averages more than $1,000 cheaper for starting quarterbacks. I would start him in FanDuel and fade him elsewhere.
|Worst Week 7 Matchups - Quarterbacks|
Lamar Jackson and Joe Burrow have been QB1s through six weeks and rank as such in true talent. But both may fall a bit short of that standard in what could be a defensive-minded game against each other. The Ravens are more neutral as the 15th pass defense by DVOA and a 5% increaser of passing yards per attempt. But they cut touchdowns by 19% per attempt, and Burrow has averaged 4.3 more fantasy points at home than on the road in his career and has a particularly tough road test this week in Baltimore. Jackson may share some matchup immunity with Hurts, but the Bengals are surprisingly stout against both the pass (eighth in DVOA) and the run (fourth). They cut passing yards and touchdowns by 11% and 47% per attempt. That hardly makes Jackson a candidate to bench. He falls from fourth in true talent to six for the week, again with consideration of the six starters on bye. But he may not be the best choice for daily formats this week with prices involved.
Worst DraftKings Values: Aaron Rodgers ($800 overpriced at $7,500), Kyler Murray ($800 overpriced at $8,500), Tom Brady ($400 overpriced at $7,700)
Worst FanDuel Values: Jameis Winston ($600 overpriced at $7,500), Sam Darnold ($300 overpriced at $7,700), Ryan Tannehill ($100 overpriced at $7,600)
I mentioned Brady and Murray as having less of a DraftKings discount than I'd prefer. Well, Aaron Rodgers falls in that camp too, with a $7,500 salary that is $300 more expensive than his price has been all season. His home Washington matchup is good, but I'm not sure it's that good. Washington boosts passing yards and touchdowns by 5% and 37% per attempt, but Green Bay is not the same beneficial home venue that many of Rodgers' contemporaries have. Rodgers has averaged just 0.3 more fantasy points per game there than on the road, and the lesser conditions that likely drive that trend could be starting this week with a forecast of 50 degrees with modest winds of 12 mph.
The quarterback I would intuitively want to start because of his venue and matchup is Ryan Tannehill. He has averaged 6.8 more fantasy points per game at home than on the road in his Titans career, the biggest split among current starters. And the Chiefs increase passing yards and touchdowns by 13% and 11% per attempt. But don't overlook the fact that the Chiefs are as bad defensively against the run (31st) as they are against the pass (31st). Despite their tendency to pile on points, the Chiefs cut opponent pass plays per game. And there is little doubt how the Titans will attempt to attack Kansas City: with Derrick Henry early and often. Tannehill makes some sense as a Titans offensive stack, but he's mildly overpriced on his own merits at $7,600 in FanDuel.
|Best Week 7 Matchups - Running Backs|
Darrell Henderson has every bit of the plus matchup his quarterback Matthew Stafford does. The Lions boost rushing yards and touchdowns by 7% and 19% per attempt, and they even boost run plays by 16%, sixth-most in football. My only concern would be that if the Rams built a multi-score lead, they might pull starters and ride backup Sony Michel to a garbage-time touchdown you might otherwise assume was a possibility for Henderson. But Henderson played 82% of snaps last week despite an early lead and eventual 27-point vanquishing of the Giants. I think he is trustworthy and deserving of his matchup-boosted top-three ranking at the position this week.
I was more nervous of Darrel Williams' playing time in Week 6. Normal Chiefs starter Clyde Edwards-Helaire was and is still out with a sprained MCL, but Williams had less definitive of a workload split playing 43% versus 31% of snaps the week before alongside Jerick McKinnon. Last week eased those concerns. Williams shot up to a 72% snap share and scored a pair of touchdowns on 21 carries. The Chiefs might not be able to build the same lead and kill clock with the run on the road in Tennessee this week. But Williams was the team's preferred red zone choice even at full strength. His 3.0 expected rushing and receiving touchdowns dwarf McKinon's 0.2 and offer him a strong chance to score whether the game script gets Kansas City to the goal line or Patrick Mahomes does it himself.
Best DraftKings Values: D'Andre Swift ($1,200 underpriced at $6,000), Elijah Mitchell ($900 underpriced at $5,100), Darrell Henderson ($800 underpriced at $6,600)
Best FanDuel Values: Elijah Mitchell ($1,000 underpriced at $5,800), Miles Sanders ($700 underpriced at $5,900), D'Ernest Johnson ($400 underpriced at $5,700)
I don't know what the world is missing on Elijah Mitchell. His roster rate in traditional formats has fallen to make him a waiver wire target. And I see him as $900 and $1,000 underpriced in DraftKings and FanDuel. Yes, the 49ers face a difficult matchup in a Colts team that cuts rushing yards and touchdowns by 8% and 82% per attempt and is dramatically weaker against the pass (29th in DVOA) than the run (first) to drive passes over runs. But the 49ers are a different team in their commitment to the run. And with Jimmy Garoppolo poised to start over Trey Lance for health reasons if not for readiness reasons, Mitchell should take the bulk of the team's carries. He has had 19 and 17 of those in his two healthy games with Garoppolo. And the week before the bye, he played 68% of offensive snaps versus just 3% for Trey Sermon. The bad matchup kicks Mitchell out of RB1 consideration, but he's still my 16th-ranked running back this week even though he ranks 27th and 23rd in DraftKings and FanDuel salaries.
I wasn't enthusiastic on temporary Browns starter D'Ernest Johnson in my waiver column. I expect primary returner Demetric Felton to see more targets—he has nine on the season versus just one for Johnson. And I could even see practice squad promotee John Kelly playing a bit with both Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt sidelined. But the weather forecast in Cleveland has started to change my tune. Heavy rain and high winds increase cut pass plays and increase run plays by 10% and 4% per game. Even splitting time, Johnson could see close to 15 touches in those conditions. That's enough to make him a decent daily option among the Thursday/Sunday slate at just $5,700 in FanDuel.
|Worst Week 7 Matchups - Running Backs|
We might not know if Damien Williams can play this week until kickoff. He went on the COVID list last Thursday, and if he isn't vaccinated, he has a mandatory 10-day quarantine that will take him close to game time. But even if Khalil Herbert gets another week as basically the only back in the Bears backfield, he likely won't be the strong RB2 choice you would expect on the road in Tampa Bay. The Bucs are middle-of-the-pack in pass defense. But their myriad defensive back injuries have not put a dent in last year's top-ranked run defense unit. The Bucs are fifth in run defense DVOA this season and cut run plays by 78%, rushing yards by 17% per attempt, and rushing touchdowns by 107% per attempt. The Bears prefer to run the ball, but they may not have that option if Vita Vea and company are living in their backfield. Herbert will be playable on volume if Williams can't play. But assuming Williams can, I rank Herbert 30th at the position this week.
Worst DraftKings Values: Alvin Kamara ($800 overpriced at $8,900), Jonathan Taylor ($500 overpriced at $7,100), Khalil Herbert ($400 overpriced at $5,200)
Worst FanDuel Values: Jonathan Taylor ($1,500 overpriced at $8,800), Alvin Kamara ($900 overpriced at $9,200), Khalil Herbert ($200 overpriced at $6,000)
Alvin Kamara and Jonathan Taylor are too good and too consistent to ever sit in traditional formats. But I don't love them at their extreme prices in DFS this week. I tend to talk about domes as a passing-game benefit, but they help running backs just as much. Kamara and Taylor have averaged 5.8 and 1.8 more fantasy points per game at home than on the road since the start of last season. And both face difficult road tests this week, the former in Seattle and the latter in San Francisco. The 49ers are more obviously a tough opponent with the 12th overall defensive DVOA and as a 14% cutter of yards per carry. But while neutral with the 16th run defense DVOA and as a 1% increaser of yards per carry, the Seahawks are much worse defending the pass (24th) and cut run plays by 31% and rushing touchdowns by 14% per attempt because of it. I would look for different building blocks this week.
|Best Week 7 Matchups - Wide Receivers|
With Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods, and Christian Kirk enjoying more transparently plus matchups against the Lions and Texans, Henry Ruggs and Calvin Ridley deserve a bit of explanation. The Eagles are decent defensively against the pass (12th in DVOA), but that success is skewed toward their defense of No. 2 and slot receivers. They cut yards per target by 16% and 1% to those types of receivers but increase yards and touchdowns per target by 9% and 27% for No. 1 receivers. Top corner Darius Slay is a former All-Pro, but now 30 years old. Slay has increased his yards allowed per target from 5.7 yards in 2018 to 7.7 in 2019 and 9.9 last year. With his elite speed, Ruggs could get deep for a touchdown in the dome in Las Vegas this week.
Ridley would normally have more to fear for his cornerback matchup with Xavien Howard in Miami. But both Howard and Byron Jones have been missing time and failed to practice on Wednesday. Without those top cover defenders, the Dolphins are a top four booster of yards and touchdowns to No. 1 receivers at 28% and 115% per target. Ridley missed his team's trip to London before a Week 6 bye, but he's back in practice and poised to produce a top-five fantasy week at his position.
Best DraftKings Values: Tim Patrick ($800 underpriced at $4,900), Antonio Brown ($400 underpriced at $6,300), Calvin Ridley ($200 underpriced at $6,600)
Best FanDuel Values: Tim Patrick ($700 underpriced at $6,000), Henry Ruggs ($600 underpriced at $5,700), DeVonta Smith ($500 underpriced at $5,800)
I don't think I'd stack the Broncos with the fears I expressed of the weather in Cleveland tonight. But I wouldn't completely ignore Tim Patrick at his modest $4,900 and $6,000 price tags in the daily platforms. He has exceeded my expectations, seeing 6.0 targets per game with Jerry Jeudy out since Week 2. And his three touchdowns are mostly supported by 2.3 expected scores based on the location and air yards of his targets. Patrick is a threat to score tonight playing away from top Browns corner Denzel Ward.
Antonio Brown tends to play 45% to 65% of offensive snaps. That number suggests he is the third Bucs receiver, but his 25.0% target share the last three weeks suggests something different. It's 18th-highest at the position. Brown may not be pacing his position anymore, but his 17.7% receiving DVOA barely misses the top 10. He's still super talented and is an underrated DFS option at just $6,300 in DraftKings.
|Worst Week 7 Matchups - Wide Receivers|
At a glance, one of the poor opponent matchups of the Jets, Packers, Bengals, Saints, and Ravens does not look like the others. But while the Jets are a bottom-10 pass defense by DVOA, their broad limitations lead their opponents to build leads and run the ball to kill clock. They increase run plays by 16% per attempt. The Patriots needed just 30 pass attempts to beat the Jets by 19 in Week 2. And Jakobi Meyers has seemed particularly sensitive to game scripts for his fantasy production. He has averaged 10.3 targets per game in four Patriots losses but just 5.5 targets per game in two Patriots wins. You might have to start Meyers as a back-end WR2 in PPR formats with all the receivers on bye this week. But don't expect a double-digit target volume.
Geno Smith has looked a little more competent in relief of Russell Wilson than I would have expected. And while that enables DK Metcalf's mid-tier WR2 true talent ranking, the receiver falls further to 18th at the position this week. The 12th Man may not be the boost to the Seahawks passing game that they wanted after playing on the road in Pittsburgh last week. There is a 77% chance of rain on Monday night. Meanwhile, Metcalf will likely draw Marshon Lattimore in shadow coverage, and Lattimore is living up to his $97.6-million extension, allowing just 7.8 yards per target and 5.2 targets per game. With the matchup, Metcalf falls to 18th at the position and stands out as one of the worst values in both DFS platforms.
Worst DraftKings Values: DK Metcalf ($1,200 overpriced at $6,800), DeAndre Hopkins ($1,000 overpriced at $7,700), D.J. Moore ($900 overpriced at $7,100)
Worst FanDuel Values: Marquise Brown ($900 overpriced at $7,300), DK Metcalf ($800 overpriced at $7,400), D.J. Moore ($700 overpriced at $7,700)
I have bet against DeAndre Hopkins a few times this season and lost, but Hopkins owes more of his 13th -anked total of 99 fantasy points to his six touchdowns than he does his formerly elite target volume. Hopkins is barely in the top 40 at his position with a 20.5% target share this season. If he regresses near the red zone where his six touchdowns have exceeded his expected total by 2.0—tied for the fifth-biggest surplus at his position—Hopkins may end up a WR2 this year even with the broader success the Cardinals are having.
|Best Week 7 Matchups - Tight Ends|
Tyler Higbee has a tenuous hold on a true-talent TE1 ranking thanks to a 12.5% target share this season that is outside the top 20 at his position. He hasn't bested 40 yards in a game since Week 1. That said, I'm mostly comfortable with him in my lineup this week because I think he can score. The Lions increase tight end touchdown rate by 33% per target, and Higbee's two touchdowns this season are 1.1 fewer than expected based on his target locations. He has been unlucky this year, and the Lions are the ultimate "get right" opponent.
I don't expect a lot of 13-point days for Zach Ertz in Arizona like he had in his final start in Philadelphia with Dallas Goedert on the sidelines. Ertz should be the only tight end that matters for the Cardinals, but Maxx Williams saw just a 10.8% target share over five weeks in that role before his injury that was tied for 28th at the position. The Cardinals build their passing game around their myriad standout wide receivers. But Ertz remains a viable red zone threat, and with a plus matchup with Houston at home in the dome, Ertz flirts with TE1 status. The Texans increase tight end yards and touchdowns by 11% and 78% per attempt.
Best DraftKings Values: Ricky Seals-Jones ($700 underpriced at $3,700), Ross Dwelley ($300 underpriced at $3,000), Hunter Henry ($200 underpriced at $4,100)
Best FanDuel Values: Ricky Seals-Jones ($400 underpriced at $5,400), Hunter Henry ($0 underpriced at $5,700), Zach Ertz ($0 underpriced at $5,300)
Ertz is a decent DFS option where there are few with a fair price of $5,300 in FanDuel. But for me, this week is all about Ricky Seals-Jones in daily formats. The temporary Washington starter saw his snap share balloon from 10% to 18% in the first three weeks of the year to 93% or more the last three weeks with Logan Thomas on injured reserve. His 16.1% target share is 13th at the position the last three weeks, and with a handful of tight ends on bye, Seals-Jones lands at seventh for me this week even in a lesser matchup in Green Bay than he had last week in a pass-heavy game script against the Chiefs.
|Worst Week 7 Matchups - Tight Ends|
The Bears matchup is a poor one for tight ends. They cut tight end yards and touchdowns by 23% and 56% per target, both top-10 in football. But on its own, that matchup wouldn't knock Rob Gronkowski from my top 10 at the position. I'm just starting him lower as a temporary seventh-ranked tight end in my true talent rankings. Frankly, that includes some guesswork, but Gronk is nursing broken ribs that sidelined him the last three weeks. The Bucs have too many quality receivers for all of them to thrive in fantasy at the same time. And while that didn't stop Gronkowski from seeing 21 targets the first three weeks, I'm projecting a soft debut in Week 7 with 5.2 targets. He may need to score to return any fantasy value to speak of.
Worst DraftKings Values: Mark Andrews ($1,500 overpriced at $6,000), Rob Gronkowski ($600 overpriced at $4,800), Mike Gesicki ($300 overpriced at $4,700)
Worst FanDuel Values: Mark Andrews ($1,700 overpriced at $7,500), Rob Gronkowski ($800 overpriced at $6,500), Mike Gesicki ($300 overpriced at $6,000)
Mark Andrews is a difficult player to fade coming off of 16 catches, 215 yards, and three touchdowns the last two weeks. But he may have a harder time against a Bengals defense that cuts tight end yards and touchdowns by 16% and 65% per target. And even if not, the Ravens have started to see their injured skill talent return to the field. Rashod Bateman saw six targets and converted a new first down on all four of his catches. He could fill the team's chains-moving role that has at times defaulted to Andrews with only field-stretchers such as Marquise Brown and Sammy Watkins available at wide receiver. Andrews remains a top-six tight end for me despite the matchup, but his $6,000 and $7,500 DFS prices are up $800 and $1,200 compared to last week. That's an overreaction to an unsustainable two-game hot streak.