NFL Week 7 Fantasy Football Takeaways: Shifting values for 30+ players

Fantasy football Week 7 is nearly over, but don't move on quite yet. What are the biggest impacts of Sunday's games?

One quarterback was pulled due to poor play. Another was knocked out with a knee injury. And one of the top quarterbacks of his generation was concussed in a shocking blowout loss. We knew Week 7 fantasy football would be challenging with six teams on bye. But for many of us, this weekend required taking some risks and holding our breaths. Now, as always, let’s make sense of what just happened and how it might shape our thinking heading into Week 8.

NFL Week 7 Fantasy Football Takeaways | Early slate

Here are the most notable fantasy storylines from Sunday’s early slate.

Packers vs. Washington

AJ Dillon fumbled twice, losing one in Green Bay territory. He was an RB4 and elite handcuff entering yesterday. Now, he’s an RB5 with a yellow flag. Thursday’s contest against Arizona will help us assess how this flop might impact his value going forward. Allen Lazard was No. 2 in targets for the Packers, filling out a fantastic 5-60-1 receiving line. I hyped him Sunday morning on PFN Twitter Spaces as a terrific flier. He’ll continue to be a situational streamer.

If you have Antonio Gibson, it won’t get any easier. Those who subscribe to the PFN newsletter already knew that yesterday morning. In the next three weeks, he’ll face the Broncos and Bucs with a bye sandwiched in between. His upside remains great when healthy. But in the near term, we probably won’t see anything close to that upside.

Titans vs. Chiefs

A.J. Brown shook off several days of food poisoning to return to greatness. It won’t always be this easy (they played Kansas City, after all). But Brown is officially back to his normal self. The question is whether Julio Jones can compete as the No. 1, as we saw in Week 2 (6 catches for 128 yards).

One of the biggest football stories of the day also caps one of the biggest football stories of the season. Patrick Mahomes got knocked out with a concussion (he’s expected to be okay for Week 8), had 0 touchdowns, and made it six games in a row with at least 1 interception. The Chiefs are now 3-4, and with upcoming matchups against the Packers and Cowboys, there is a real chance they could enter their Week 12 bye with a losing record.

Dolphins vs. Falcons

I pushed Tua Tagovailoa as a major QB bargain yesterday, and he came through. The offense is not the problem for the Dolphins, especially when considering 50-75% of their top wideouts have been hurt recently. The issue is Miami’s atrocious defense, which is actually good news for those rostering Tagovailoa, who threw for 125 yards and 2 TDs while playing catch-up in the game’s final 13 minutes. That’s a recipe for success.

Meanwhile, Kyle Pitts’ fantasy outburst last week could have been explained away by the absence of Calvin Ridley and Russell Gage. Yesterday, he proved it was no fluke. We all knew Pitts was special this summer. But he’s now starting to exceed lofty expectations.

Patriots vs. Jets

Early in this game, I joked on Twitter that the Jets were trying to keep the contest within 50 points. If the game had gone a few more minutes, they might not have. New England didn’t need Rhamondre Stevenson, as Damien Harris, J.J. Taylor, and Brandon Bolden one-upped the Ravens backfield’s Week 6 performance by scoring 5 touchdowns on 211 yards. If Stevenson remains inactive going forward, Bolden would be on the streaming radar.

Zach Wilson suffered a knee injury, while backup Mike White played surprisingly well aside from his 2 interceptions in the third quarter. White led the Jets on two touchdown drives and could get more starts depending on Wilson’s status. For now, while White would be a downgrade for a Jets franchise that pinned its preseason hopes on Wilson, it would be neutral from the standpoint of Corey Davis’ future fantasy production.

Giants vs. Panthers

This did not go as expected, at least from my limited vantage point. The game could have gone either way until late in the third quarter. Daniel Jones played just well enough, and Darius Slayton stepped into the de facto No. 1 receiver role. But when Saquon Barkley, Kenny Golladay, Sterling Shepard, and Kadarius Toney return, nearly everyone who performed well today will be relegated to bench duty.

Sam Darnold’s once-promising start to the season has turned into a nightmare. It’s unclear what direction Carolina will go. The team surely regrets picking up his $18.9 million option in April before he’d even taken a snap in a Panthers uniform. Tangentially, keep an eye on Christian McCaffrey’s health. Last year, I urged managers to trade him when Carolina’s playoff hopes vanished, as there would be little reason for the Panthers to start their franchise RB in meaningless games. We could see a repeat this year during the fantasy playoffs.

Ravens vs. Bengals

Another outcome I never anticipated. Baltimore’s running backs combined for 29 yards on the ground and 48 in the air. While Devonta Freeman seems like the best option, this depth chart has not settled. And Rashod Bateman tied Marquise Brown with 80 receiving yards but needed 8 fewer targets to get there. This battle will have a meaningful impact for fantasy managers, as Bateman has the skill set to overtake Brown at some point.

For Cincinnati, is this the first time in NFL history a receiver has had 15 targets (Tee Higgins) while his teammate had more than 200 receiving yards (Ja’Marr Chase)? Statistical oddities aside, Chase is an extraordinary talent, period. I thought Higgins’ return would lower Chase’s ceiling. Apparently, I was very wrong.

NFL Week 7 Fantasy Football Takeaways | Late slate

Here are the most notable takeaways from Week 7’s late afternoon and evening slate.

Raiders vs. Eagles

The good news for those rostering Josh Jacobs is that he finally averaged more than 3.4 yards per carry while scoring his fifth touchdown in five games. The bad news is that a chest injury sidelined him for nearly half the game. The painfully underutilized Kenyan Drake shined in Jacobs’ absence. After their Week 8 bye, the Raiders’ backfield situation could be as muddy as ever.

Meanwhile, the Eagles also lost their starting running back in the first half, as Miles Sanders exited with an ankle injury. There is no obvious RB handcuff in Philadelphia, and Kenneth Gainwell’s lost fumble could have marred his day if not for an earlier touchdown. He out-touched Boston Scott 9-8, though Gainwell saw 6 more targets. If Sanders is not ready to face Detroit next weekend, Gainwell will be a popular RB3 flier.

Rams vs. Lions

Cooper Kupp has had double-digit targets in all seven games this season. For context, he had double-digit targets in only three games all last season. Meanwhile, Robert Woods has had 7+ targets only twice this year vs. 11 times last year. And that pretty much sums up the divergent fantasy paths of these two perennial must-start WRs.

Jared Goff’s return to Los Angeles actually wasn’t that bad until the end. With a little over five minutes remaining, he had 249 passing yards and a touchdown and was knocking on the doorstep of the Rams’ end zone. Then he threw 2 picks on his final 5 attempts to seal Detroit’s fate. Most notably, Kalif Raymond took another step forward with a 6-115 receiving line while ascending rookie Amon-Ra St. Brown never got a look. It seems clear that the only steady offensive contributors are D’Andre Swift and T.J. Hockenson.

Cardinals vs. Texans

There’s a lot to unpack with the 7-0 Cardinals, including the instant impact of the newly acquired Zach Ertz. But most notable to me is Kyler Murray’s lack of running. Last year, he averaged 8 carries for 51 rushing yards per game. This year, it’s 6 carries for 18 rushing yards. That’s more than 3 fantasy points per game, which adds up over the course of a season. While Murray remains elite, his muted running game has kept him out of the top spot.

For Houston, it’s hard to pull out anything notable from yesterday’s blowout loss, except that Mark Ingram rushed for 9 yards on 6 carries, lowering his yards per carry to 3.2 in 2021. No longer the passing-game threat he once was, Ingram took a backseat to David Johnson, whose 3.9 yards per carry looks Hall of Fame-esque by comparison. With 19 receptions on the year, Johnson could overtake Ingram for the 1A backfield role — if you’re desperate for an RB5 dart throw.

Bucs vs. Bears

With Antonio Brown and Rob Gronkowski out and O.J. Howard hobbled, Tom Brady made sure Mike Evans and Chris Godwin were well fed. Admittedly, I thought temporary No. 3 WR Tyler Johnson would get more attention, but he finished a very distant third in the yardage column. And in the backfield, Ronald Jones finally got going, though there’s no reason to think Leonard Fournette’s grip on the starting role has loosened.

I’m one of the random people who pleaded on Twitter this summer to give Justin Fields the starting job — shows what I know. Fields has been a fantasy disaster, and the way he’s being utilized has been disastrous. On the plus side, they’re letting him run more. On the downside, he doesn’t look close to NFL-ready. Looking ahead to Chicago’s remaining schedule, there aren’t many opportunities to right the ship before 2022.

Sunday Night Football

What storylines came out of SNF in Week 7?

49ers vs. Colts

When Raheem Mostert broke through in 2019 while playing on his fifth NFL team in five seasons, people appropriately wondered, “Where has this guy been?” Years from now, we might have wondered the same thing about sixth-round rookie Elijah Mitchell — if Mostert hadn’t gotten hurt Week 1, opening the door for the 23-year-old to look like a No. 1 back. Mitchell is a bright spot compared to a mostly stagnant passing game, and he appears to have a firm hold atop the depth chart.

With the NFL trade deadline eight days away, many eyes are on Marlon Mack. As Jonathan Taylor continues to produce like a top-three fantasy RB, the 2-5 Colts have no reason to keep Mack, who will be a free agent after this season. Mack could have an immediate fantasy impact on a few teams, including Houston, Kansas City, and New Orleans. If you need a decent RB, there are worse dart throws than picking up Mack and hoping he lands somewhere fantasy-friendly.

BJ Rudell is the Fantasy Football Director for Pro Football Network. You can read all of BJ’s work here, listen to him on PFN’s Fantasy Football podcast, and check out his contributions in PFN’s free fantasy newsletter. Give him a follow on Twitter: @BJRudell.