Welcome to the first big group of bye weeks of the season.
A whopping six teams (the Panthers, Bengals, Cowboys, Texans, Jets, and Titans) are off for Week 7, and we’re feeling it in fantasy.
Within those six teams, I count at least two quarterbacks, four running backs, and six wide receivers who would otherwise be locked into your starting lineup this week. And that’s not even counting FLEX spots.
Safe to say, things are pretty bleak this week, and there’s a good chance you’re going to have to start someone who wasn’t even on your roster a month ago.
But don’t sweat.
That’s what I’m here for.
Every week I list out every fantasy-relevant player, sorted by position and bucketed into tiers with the higher-tiered players deemed more start-worthy.
These tiers are meant to reflect your typical 12-team, half-PPR scoring formats with only one starting quarterback – though the general rankings can be loosely applied to most formats.
For specific start/sit advice between two players in the same tier, refer to numberFire ’s projection model.
Any player not listed can be assumed sit-worthy in most leagues.
All betting references refer to the NFL odds at FanDuel Sportsbook. All statistics via NFL Next Gen Stats and Pro Football Focus unless otherwise stated.
Tier 1: Lineup locks
– Jalen Hurts (PHI)
– Patrick Mahomes (KC)
– Josh Allen (BUF)
– Tua Tagovailoa (MIA)
– Justin Herbert (LAC)
– Lamar Jackson (QB)
Tier 2: Probable starters
– Geno Smith (SEA) finished last week’s game with a 12.9-point outing, and he now has just one game with more than 17 fantasy points this season. That said, Smith still ranks inside the top 10 in passing success rate (50.3%), while his league-leading mark of 6.2% completion percentage over expectation helps demonstrate how elite his supporting cast is. The Cardinals have allowed the third-most adjusted fantasy points per drop-back (0.48) and the third-highest EPA per drop-back (0.10), letting Smith flirt with the top 10 in Week 7.
– Matthew Stafford (LAR) hasn’t shown the upside we’d hoped for yet, but it’s coming. The volume is certainly there – he ranks third in pass attempts per game (37.8) and leads the league in air yards per game (328.5), while LA has the sixth-highest pass rate plus pass rate over expectation (62.7%). The biggest issue has been a lack of touchdowns (six). A home date with Pittsburgh could remedy that as the Steelers have given up the sixth-most passing touchdowns per game (1.6). With no Kyren Williams, expect a heavy dose of Stafford on Sunday. He’s a safe, low-end QB1.
– Jared Goff (DET) is PFF’s highest-graded quarterback (90.4) through six weeks and slots in as fantasy’s QB6 on a per-game basis (19.9). Goff has been known the past two years for his home dominance, but last week’s QB4 showing (22.4 points) on the road suggests he’s become a borderline must-start regardless of where the game is played. An injury to David Montgomery resulted in Goff throwing a season-high 44 times in Week 6. While his matchup is tougher this week, Detroit and Baltimore combine for the fastest average pace (29.2) of the slate. Expect the Lions to rely more on Goff’s arm with Montgomery out, putting him in the QB1 conversation yet again.
– Jordan Love (GB) isn’t someone we should be afraid of in fantasy. He struggled on primetime headed into a bye week, but Love is just two weeks removed from beginning the season with four consecutive games of 19-plus fantasy points. An unsustainable touchdown rate was bound to regress, but we’ve seen what Love can do in advantageous matchups. And Week 7 is advantageous. The Broncos have allowed the most adjusted fantasy points per drop-back (0.52), the highest passing success rate (57%), and the highest EPA per drop-back (0.23).
Tier 3: On the fence
– Sam Howell (WSH) is just going to keep churning out quality fantasy performances, isn’t he? After scoring 18.3 points against the Falcons last week, Howell now ranks as the QB12 through six weeks and has been held to fewer than 16 fantasy points only once. Washington’s third-highest pass rate over expectation (7.8%) should continue to lead to plenty of opportunities for Howell against a Giants defense allowing the sixth-highest EPA per drop-back (0.05). He’s in the QB1 conversation on a weekly basis at this point.
– Brock Purdy (SF) finally had a bad game, but we’ll cut him some slack considering it came on the road against a good Browns defense. Still, I’m not thrilled about his chances of a bounce-back against the Vikings. Minnesota has an average secondary, but they’ve blitzed at by far the highest rate in the NFL (57.1%). Purdy is PFF’s 23rd-graded starting quarterback when blitzed, completing just 57.9% of his passes in the split. He’s not someone you have to sit, just temper expectations considering three of San Francisco’s most important offensive players are banged up.
– Deshaun Watson (CLE)’s status remains up in the air, but if he plays, I’m looking to start him. The Colts have allowed the fifth-highest passing success rate (50%), the eighth-highest EPA per drop-back (0.02), and the fourth-most quarterback rushing yards (162). The previous time we saw Watson, he’d just finished one of the best games of his Cleveland career in a 21.2-point week against the Titans. He’s someone to keep your eye on as Sunday inches closer, but I’d have no issue starting him if he plays.
– Russell Wilson (DEN) came back to Earth last week, scoring a season-low 8.9 fantasy points. We’ll excuse the down performance given the matchup and venue, but it doesn’t get that much better in Week 7. The Packers have allowed the seventh-fewest adjusted fantasy points per drop-back (0.32) – though they’ve simultaneously allowed a 47.7% passing success rate. It’s a neutral matchup, but not one I’m rushing out to be a part of.
Tier 4: Sit if possible
– Kirk Cousins (MIN) didn’t exactly instill a ton of confidence in fantasy managers last week that he can continue to be a QB1 without Justin Jefferson. Cousins had his worst game of the season (8.7 points) against the Bears secondary in his first game without Jefferson, finishing outside the top 20 quarterbacks for the second time in three weeks. With the 49ers coming to town fresh off their first loss, you can safely sit Cousins.
– Trevor Lawrence (JAX) is banged up, on a short week, and going against a New Orleans pass defense allowing the second-lowest passing success rate (37.6%) and the seventh-lowest EPA per drop-back (-0.22). He has yet to eclipse 19 fantasy points this season, and I’m not expecting that to change with a bulky knee brace against a good defense. Sit him.
Tier 1: Lineup locks
– Christian McCaffrey (SF)
– Kenneth Walker III (SEA)
– Austin Ekeler (LAC)
– Raheem Mostert (MIA)
– D’Andre Swift (PHI)
– Travis Etienne (JAX)
– Josh Jacobs (LV)
– Saquon Barkley (NYG)
– Alvin Kamara (NO)
– Bijan Robinson (ATL)
– Isiah Pacheco (KC)
– Aaron Jones (GB)
– Rhamondre Stevenson (NE)
– James Cook (BUF)
– Rachaad White (TB)
– Brian Robinson (WSH)
Tier 2: Probable starters
– Roschon Johnson (CHI) impressed as Khalil Herbert’s backup and now gets the chance to be a focal point of the Bears offense in a good matchup. The Raiders have allowed the second-most adjusted fantasy points per rush (0.77), the third-highest rushing success rate (48.2%), and the third-highest EPA per carry (0.05). Assuming he’s cleared, Roschon Johnson is one of my favorite starts of the week.
– Jonathan Taylor & Zack Moss (IND) are in a running back committee – at least for the time being. Moss had a higher snap share (49.3%) than Taylor (42.7%) a week ago, but they had essentially the same number of adjusted opportunities (carries + 2x targets). They each finished with at least five receptions, so there’s actually a pretty safe floor between the two, but I’m worried about this week’s matchup. The Browns have allowed the fewest adjusted fantasy points per rush (0.45) and the third-lowest RB rush success rate (33.3), so don’t expect much upside. Moss’ work will dry up eventually, so I get sitting him here, but Taylor is still a borderline must-start given the heavy bye week.
– Jerome Ford & Kareem Hunt (CLE) formed a pretty effective committee last week in a tough spot against an elite D and without their quarterback. Ford played more snaps (51.4%) and handled more rushes (17) than Hunt (37.1%; 12), but Hunt finished with more fantasy points (14.6 to 10.1) thanks to a touchdown. I prefer Ford’s volume, but either makes for a fine start this week against a Colts defense allowing the ninth-most adjusted fantasy points per carry (0.62).
– Jahmyr Gibbs (DET) is going to get his chances on Sunday with David Montgomery out. Gibbs had 21 adjusted opportunities the previous time Montgomery missed time, so Detroit isn’t shy about using its rookie when needed. Gibbs’ 14.5% target share gives him a safe floor, and he’s bound to score at some point given his 1.5 red zone rushes per game. Baltimore’s run defense is above average, but I don’t know how you’re sitting such a talented back with this much guaranteed volume.
– Alexander Mattison (MIN) has some appeal in Week 7. Last week, Mattison erased any worries about Cam Akers taking over his workload, out-snapping Akers 43-9. In Mattison’s first game without Justin Jefferson, he had a season-high 23.3% target share. That could be the key to unlocking his fantasy potential this week with the 49ers opening as big favorites. San Francisco has allowed the fourth-highest running back target rate (24.1%), providing Mattison with a high floor. He’s a quality RB2.
Tier 3: On the fence
– Gus Edwards & Justice Hill (BAL) keep flip-flopping roles. In Week 5, Hill played more snaps (37-29) and handled more adjusted opportunities (15-12). In Week 6, Edwards had more snaps (43-27) and adjusted opportunities (18-14). They’ve both getting enough volume that I’m OK throwing either into my FLEX, just don’t expect a ton of upside against a Lions defense allowing the third-fewest adjusted fantasy points per carry (0.46).
– Ezekiel Elliott (NE) scored his first Patriots touchdown last week en route to an RB18 finish (11.4 points). He would’ve been in for an even bigger day had a 74-yard receiving touchdown not been called back on a holding penalty. Elliott has been running well this season, besting starter Rhamondre Stevenson in both EPA per carry (-0.14 to -0.28) and rush success rate (42.9% to 38.5%). Buffalo has allowed the 13th-most adjusted fantasy points per carry (0.60), letting Elliott slide comfortably into FLEX consideration.
– Jeff Wilson & Salvon Ahmed (MIA) won’t both have much value as Miami’s No. 2 running back, but one of them will. Ahmed delivered in Week 6 – a late score propelled him to an RB19 finish with 10.9 points – but I’m more into Wilson. He could immediately step back into a timeshare with Raheem Mostert. The Eagles are good against the run, but the Dolphins are matchup-proof. Wilson is an easy FLEX if healthy, with Ahmed filling that void if Wilson were to miss again.
– Zach Evans (LAR) turned four carries into just 10 yards last week, but he’s got a clear path to more carries with Kyren Williams out. Evans was a highly touted high school recruit and graded well as a runner in college but didn’t offer much in the receiving game. The Rams signed a slew of veterans to bolster their depth, but Evans, their sixth-round pick, looks as if he’ll get the first chance at replacing Williams this weekend. I’d typically stay away from situations such as this, but a Steelers defense allowing the fourth-most adjusted fantasy points per carry (0.66) has my attention. You can start Evans, just don’t be shocked if he struggles.
– Javonte Williams & Jaleel McLaughlin (DEN) cut Samaje Perine out of their committee, but neither had more than 11 adjusted opportunities. McLaughlin (40.8%) actually had a higher snap share than Williams (34.7%), but Williams outrushed the rookie (10-7). There’s some upside against the Green Bay run defense. The Packers allow the fifth-highest running back rush success rate (47.7%), the sixth-most adjusted fantasy points per carry (0.65), and the seventh-highest EPA per attempt (0.01). They’re both FLEX options.
– D’Onta Foreman (CHI) has some FLEX value if needed. He finished as just the RB30 (7.2 points) last week even with 15 carries, but the matchup was tougher. He won’t get nearly as much work if Roschon Johnson returns, but the Raiders are poor enough against the run that Foreman could still carve out a serviceable fantasy day.
– Elijah Mitchell & Jordan Mason (SF) are only viable if Christian McCaffrey is ruled out. If McCaffrey were to miss this week, Mason would be my go-to. He’s healthier than Mitchell and has consecutive top-25 finishes thanks to a pair of touchdowns in the past two weeks. That said, the Vikings have been around league-average against the run, so neither would be worth starting if McCaffrey is active.
– A.J. Dillon (GB) is an under-the-radar name you could throw into your RB2 or FLEX this week. It’s a desperation play with Aaron Jones back, but Dillon was quietly solid in their previous game before the bye. He ran for 76 yards, had five red zone carries and finished with a 55% success rate. I don’t expect Green Bay to immediately give Jones 100% of the work, so there’s room for Dillon to put up numbers versus a Broncos run defense that ranks 31st in RB rush success rate (48.7%) and has allowed the fifth-most adjusted fantasy points per carry (0.66).
– Latavius Murray (BUF) split snaps nearly 50/50 with James Cook last week, getting 28 to Cook’s 30. He was given 12 carries (to Cook’s 14) and notably had four of Buffalo’s five red zone rush attempts. With Damien Harris sidelined, Murray has real FLEX appeal if he’s going to be the Bills running back inside the 20. Still, he’s likely a touchdown-or-bust fantasy option with New England having an above-average run defense.
– Craig Reynolds (DET) is a wild card. While he did get 14 adjusted opportunities on a 60.9% snap share last week, Jahmyr Gibbs is expected to return for Week 7. The most recent time Gibbs was healthy and David Montgomery was out in Week 3, Reynolds played only 29.7% of snaps and got four carries. There’s a chance the workload is split more evenly this time, but a tough matchup with Baltimore makes Reynolds really hard to trust.
Tier 4: Sit if possible
– Jaylen Warren & Najee Harris (PIT) have struggled fantasy-wise every week, but they have even less appeal against the Rams. LA ranks ninth in running back rush success rate (37.9%) but is just 13th in passing success rate (45.8%). The Rams are also slight favorites at home, so expect a pass-heavy game script from the Steelers with Pat Freiermuth and Diontae Johnson potentially returning. Warren’s 15.7% target share gives him some FLEX appeal, but I’d rather just avoid this backfield altogether.
– Tyler Allgeier (ATL) doesn’t have any upside this week in fantasy. He’s primarily used in positive game scripts, but the Falcons are slight underdogs in Tampa. Throw in that the Bucs have allowed the fifth-fewest adjusted fantasy points per carry (0.47), and there are certainly better options on your waiver wire.
– Keaontay Ingram & Emari Demercado (ARI) didn’t show me enough last week to warrant starting consideration in Week 7. Demercado led the way with 33 snaps, but he handled only four adjusted opportunities. Ingram played 26 snaps and had 14 adjusted opportunities, but he turned those into just 51 total yards. Heck, even Damien Williams got in on the action with eight carries and a target on just 12 snaps. A struggling offense featuring three running backs is something to stay away from in fantasy, especially against a Seahawks defense allowing the lowest RB rush success rate (31.7%) in the NFL.
Tier 1: Lineup locks
– Tyreek Hill (MIA)
– Cooper Kupp (LAR)
– Stefon Diggs (BUF)
– A.J. Brown (PHI)
– Keenan Allen (LAC)
– Amon-Ra St. Brown (DET)
– Brandon Aiyuk (SF)
– Davante Adams (LV)
– D.K. Metcalf (SEA)
– Chris Olave (NO)
– Jaylen Waddle (MIA)
– Puka Nacua (LAR)
– DeVonta Smith (PHI)
– D.J. Moore (CHI)
– Marquise Brown (ARI)
– Amari Cooper (CLE)
– Mike Evans (TB)
– Zay Flowers (BAL)
– Deebo Samuel (SF)
– Jordan Addison (MIN)
Tier 2: Probable starters
– Christian Watson (GB) has appeared in just two games thus far, scoring a respectable 9.5 and 10.1 fantasy points. It was encouraging to see both his snap share (45.3% to 84.2%) and target share (11.8% to 24.1%) jump between Weeks 4 and 5. Now coming off a bye and seemingly 100% healthy, Watson has a chance to deliver on the high draft capital you invested to acquire his services. The Broncos have allowed the fourth-most adjusted fantasy points per target (1.57) and the highest catch rate over expectation (11.0%) to opposing receivers in addition to their league-worst 15.5 deep yards per target. He’s a solid WR2 and a great FLEX this week.
– Chris Godwin (TB) remained productive even with Mike Evans returning to the field last week. While his target share dipped to 18.9%, Godwin still had six receptions and 77 yards, both of which were his second-best marks of his season. He’s now getting at least a 73% snap share and an 18% target share in every game with Baker Mayfield under center. The Falcons do a good job on the outside, but they struggle in the slot – good news for a guy who’s been getting 32.2% of his snaps out of the slot with Evans fully healthy. He’s got WR1 upside this week.
– Calvin Ridley & Christian Kirk (JAX) are not auto-starts this week. Ridley has been inconsistent all season, but Kirk’s been reliable outside of a poor Week 1. However, I’d be hard-pressed to play either of them if Trevor Lawrence misses Thursday’s game. If Lawrence plays, you’re probably starting both of them given the amount of byes this week – just don’t get your hopes up for a big performance from either. The Saints have allowed the ninth-fewest adjusted fantasy points per target (1.34) and yards per route run (1.41) to wide receivers.
– Terry McLaurin (WSH) bounced back in Week 7, finishing as a top 36 wide receiver for just the third time this season. Still, it was encouraging that he had a season-high 11 targets (52.4% target share), and he’s now eclipsed a 20% target share in three of his past four outings. The Giants have allowed the highest wide receiver target rate (24.2%) in the league, simultaneously giving up the second-most yards per route run (2.09). McLaurin is right on that WR2/WR3 line.
– Jakobi Meyers (LV) kept on rolling in Week 6. He posted his third top-15 performance of the season last week, snagging 5 of 7 targets for 61 yards and his fourth score of the season. However, Jimmy Garoppolo left with another injury and may not play this week. Meyers didn’t look good with Aidan O’Connell under center in Week 4 as he had just four targets. That said, the Bears are allowing the third-most adjusted fantasy points per target (1.58) and the third-most touchdowns (seven) to wide receivers, keeping Meyers on the FLEX radar.
– Drake London (ATL) has thrived in Atlanta. After setting season highs in receptions (nine), targets (12), and yards (125) last week, London has now finished inside the top 36 wide receivers in four of the past five weeks. He’s done enough to warrant a FLEX spot, but I’m worried about his upside with Desmond Ridder on the road against a stout Tampa Bay secondary.
– Tyler Lockett (SEA) has finished as the WR89, WR6, WR52, WR43, and WR22 through five games this season. Seasoned Lockett managers may be accustomed to this. His floor remains low, but he possesses legitimate WR1 upside on a weekly basis. I do think more consistency lies in Lockett’s future considering he’s earned at least a 20% target share in four of his five games and leads the team with a 22.2% overall share. With Arizona allowing the most adjusted fantasy points per target (1.63) to wide receivers, Lockett has a ton of upside this week.
Tier 3: On the fence
– Gabriel Davis (BUF) had the drop-off game we’d been waiting for last week, securing three of four targets for just 21 yards and also losing a fumble. While Davis wasn’t going to score a touchdown every game, he also won’t score 1.6 fantasy points every game. He remains a boom-or-bust option in Week 7, but should at least have a higher floor against a Patriots defense allowing the ninth-highest catch rate over expectation (5.9%).
– George Pickens & Diontae Johnson (PIT) aren’t a duo I’m putting much trust into this week. Pickens was impressive with Johnson out as he led the team with a 28.9% target share from Weeks 2-5. While Pickens was the WR13 over that span, he had a four-point game in Week 4. With Johnson back at practice, the Steelers passing attack should look a lot different. The 27-year-old has long been a strong target option for the Steelers, but Pickens has the makings of a future star. It’s hard to decipher who’s the WR1 here, but it’s difficult to trust Kenny Pickett this week. The Rams are in the top five in catch rate (53.8%), yards per route run (1.30), and adjusted fantasy points per target allowed (1.11) to receivers. Both wideouts are best viewed as FLEX options for the time being.
– Courtland Sutton (DEN) has quietly delivered four top-36 finishes in six games and slots in as the WR30 for the season. Sutton leads the team with a 21.9% target share and has eclipsed a 26% share in three of his past five games. The Packers have a solid secondary, but Sutton’s 70% end zone target share gives him a high enough ceiling to warrant a FLEX start this week.
– Curtis Samuel (WSH) has delivered three consecutive top-25 weeks thanks to scoring in three straight games. He’s getting only a 17.6% target share over that span and has just once eclipsed 20% in a single game, but the matchup is good enough to make him a FLEX option in Week 7. The Giants have allowed the highest target rate (24.2%) and the second-most yards per route run (2.09) to wide receivers. You could do worse, but don’t expect this touchdown run to continue for much longer.
– Josh Palmer (LAC) emerged as the No. 2 perimeter option in the Chargers passing game last week. Palmer had a 19.4% target share – second only to Keenan Allen and significantly higher than Quentin Johnston (5.6%). Palmer actually led all LA skill position players in snaps (59) and routes (38), so it’s clear he’s a big part of their plans going forward. The Chiefs have been among the best secondaries in the NFL, but Palmer’s newfound volume in a pass-happy Chargers offense gives him FLEX appeal.
– Michael Thomas & Rashid Shaheed (NO) fall into the same range on a weekly basis. Thomas is as consistent as they come. He’s had at least four receptions and 45 yards in every game but hasn’t finished higher than WR31 in fantasy. Shaheed has caught just four-plus passes in two games but has a pair of top-12 finishes to his name. The Jags have a decent secondary, but both New Orleans wideouts are fine FLEX plays. Just know what you’re getting into given their roles.
– Romeo Doubs (GB) should bounce back this week, but I get the concern. He was quiet in Week 5 when he caught just 1 of 4 targets for 4 yards. It’s easy to correlate that with Christian Watson’s return, but I don’t think it’s that simple. Doubs actually had his second-highest snap share (86%) of the season in that game, and we cannot ignore the 25.6% target share and three top-13 finishes from Weeks 1 through 4. The Broncos are one of the best matchups you’ll find for wide receivers, giving Doubs a ton of upside from your FLEX in Week 7.
– Wan’Dale Robinson (NYG) is racking up targets. Though he’s played just 62.8% of snaps the past three weeks, he’s second on the team with a 21.7% target share over that span. Parris Campbell has fallen out of the wide receiver rotation in New York, pointing to the Giants’ confidence in Robinson. He doesn’t have a ton of upside but provides a safe floor and gets a bump in full-PRR scoring formats.
– Kendrick Bourne (NE) played a season-high 92.9% of snaps in Week 6 and did not disappoint. Bourne had 35.5% of targets, finishing with 10 receptions, 89 yards, and 14.3 fantasy points. This is now the second time this season Bourne’s had double-digit targets. Buffalo is a tough matchup, but it has allowed the 11th-most adjusted fantasy points per target (1.45) to wide receivers. He’s worth a FLEX spot if you’re in a pinch.
Tier 4: Sit if possible
– Michael Pittman Jr. and Josh Downs (IND) are playing the Browns. Just ask Ja’Marr Chase (6.6 points), Brandon Aiyuk (9.6 points), and DeAndre Hopkins (6.3 points) what that does for your fantasy value. Cleveland has allowed the fewest adjusted fantasy points per target (0.97), catch rate over expectation (-12.4%), and yards per route run (1.16) to wide receivers this season. You can play Pittman if you’re desperate, but I’d rather sit both of Indy’s pass catchers.
– Jerry Jeudy (DEN) had his snap share drop from 89.5% in Week 5 to 65.3% in Week 6. He’s not someone I’m interested in starting, especially not against a sound Packers secondary.
– K.J. Osborn (MIN) played a team-high 51 snaps in his first game without Justin Jefferson but tied for third with a 16.7% target share. At best, Osborn is the third option in this passing game – not something I’m looking to target with Kirk Cousins playing in primetime against a stellar 49ers defense.
– Jaxon Smith-Njigba (SEA)’s time is coming. He played a season-high 72.9% of snaps in Week 6 and ran the same amount of routes as DK Metcalf (37). That didn’t translate to much production as he had his second-lowest target share (13.5%) of the year. Still, if the rookie is on the field that much going forward, he’s going to see his target share climb. The matchup is good in Week 7, but Smith-Njigba is merely a dart throw until proven otherwise.
Tier 1: Lineup locks
– Travis Kelce (KC)
– Mark Andrews (BAL)
– T.J. Hockenson (MIN)
– Sam LaPorta (DET)
– Darren Waller (NYG)
– Dallas Goedert (PHI)
– George Kittle (SF)
– Evan Engram (JAX)
Tier 2: Probable starters
– Kyle Pitts & Jonnu Smith (ATL) make up the rare tight-end duo who are both start-able in fantasy. Since Week 2, both Pitts and Smith are playing more than 64% of snaps and getting better than a 17% target share. Smith is the TE8 (8.9 points per game) and Pitts is the TE12 (7.3) over that span, so the usage is clearly translating to fantasy success. Tampa Bay has been, by far, the single-worst matchup for opposing tight ends as it has allowed the fewest adjusted fantasy points per target (0.75) to the position. However, the Bucs actually allowed the 10th-highest target rate to the position, putting both Atlanta pass catchers within starting consideration.
– Luke Musgrave (GB) was trending up prior to Green Bay’s bye after he tied his career high with six receptions and had the largest target share (24.1%) of his young career in Week 5. Like most tight ends, Musgrave is far from a sure thing. However, he’s now caught six passes and has garnered at least an 18% target share in his past two full healthy games. Denver has allowed the most yards per route run (2.08) and the highest catch rate (84.1%) to opposing tight ends this season, making Musgrave a borderline must-start in Week 7.
– David Njoku (CLE) had his worst game since Week 1 last week, but he had a 32-yard touchdown negated by a holding call. Had that not been called back, we’d probably be talking about Njoku as a must-start this week. He’s been involved as a pass catcher regardless of who’s under center and is out there on slightly more than 75% of snaps. The Colts have been stout against tight ends, but they’ve allowed them to be targeted at the second-highest rate (22.9%). That potential volume is enough to make Njoku a starter in a tough week for the position.
Tier 3: On the fence
– Cole Kmet (CHI) had just a 12.5% target share last week – his lowest mark of the season. On top of that, he ran a season-low 48.3% of routes despite playing 95.4% of snaps. There’s a possibility where Tyson Bagent uses Kmet as a safety blanket and Kmet thrives against the Raiders secondary, but I’m more inclined to believe Chicago is going to run the ball a lot. There’s upside, but Kmet’s floor is pretty low this week.
– Pat Freiermuth (PIT) said that he’ll play this week, and I’m not sure what to do. On one hand, Freiermuth has eclipsed 7 yards in just one of his four games this season and ranks sixth on the team with a 10.2% target share. On the other hand, the Rams have been one of the fantasy-friendly defenses in the NFL this season, giving up the fourth-most adjusted fantasy points per target (1.72) to the position. There’s certainly a case to play him during a bye-heavy week, just don’t be shocked if he struggles.
– Michael Mayer (LV) is our top tight-end streamer this week for a reason. The highly touted rookie set career highs across the board last week: playing 81.5% of snaps, running 71.9% of routes, and garnering a 19.4% target share. I like Mayer’s chances in Week 7. The Bears have allowed the fifth-highest target rate (20.5%) and the second-highest catch rate (83.3%) to tight ends this season, making the rookie an intriguing start.
Tier 4: Sit if possible
– Tyler Higbee (LAR) has now had 8.8% and 14.3% target shares in the first two weeks with Cooper Kupp active. With Higbee totaling a mere four receptions over that span, there just isn’t enough volume coming his way to warrant a start against a Steelers defense allowing the second-fewest adjusted fantasy points per target (0.91) to the position.
– Zach Ertz (ARI) may have lost his starting job. Last week Ertz got out-snapped (43-34) by Trey McBride for the first time all season. The veteran ran more routes (23-20) and they tied with five targets apiece, but that’s still bad news for Ertz’s fantasy prospects. There are surely better options on the waiver wire.
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