The chances are your fantasy roster looks vastly different heading into Week 7 than it did when you drafted it in the preseason. Injuries have ravaged the NFL this season. And, by extension, fantasy football as well. The latest victim is Aaron Rodgers, who will need surgery to repair his broken collarbone.
That puts Brett Hundley in the driver's seat in Green Bay, which is an obvious downgrade for Packers skill players like Jordy Nelson, Davante Adams, Aaron Jones, and T.Y. Montgomery. Nelson may be the safest bet of the bunch as a security blanket for Hundley, but time will tell. Hundley could be the next Tom Brady for all we know, but then again, he could just as easily be the next Kevin Hogan.
In other QB news, Andrew Luck is not practicing, and his timetable for return from shoulder surgery is now unknown. If you've been holding on to Luck, feel free to cut him now. The Colts are 2-4, and have one of the worst defenses in the NFL this season. There's really no reason for the Colts to play him this season, and my guess is he won't be worth using in fantasy leagues even if he does see the field before the season is over.
You can hold T.Y. Hilton since there isn't likely anything better on the waiver wire, but Donte Moncrief hasn't shown much more than WR3/4 value through six weeks of the season. Jack Doyle is a TD-dependent TE, like most of them are. But he's seen 34 targets this season, which is the 2nd-most on the Colts roster behind Hilton's 41.
Matt Ryan – Falcons: Matty Ice hasn't been the fantasy QB we had hoped for this season, hitting Week 7 as the 26th-ranked fantasy QB. His 271.4 YPG passing are 5th in the NFL, but his 1:1 ratio of touchdowns to interceptions (6 of each) are killing his fantasy numbers.
With that said, this is the perfect week for Ryan and the Falcons passing attack to get back on track as they head to Foxboro to take on the Patriots and their NFL-worst defense. The Patriots give up an average of 28.4 PPG to fantasy QBs, which is 4.1 points more than the next closest team, the Buccaneers.
Four points is big in fantasy football, and I am looking for elite fantasy numbers from Ryan this weekend.
Tyrod Taylor – Bills: Taylor is another QB who hasn't really been that great in fantasy football terms, averaging just 182.0 YPG passing. But he does have 6 touchdown passes to just 2 interceptions, and has tacked on an additional 121 rushing yards for fantasy owners.
This week he takes on the Bucs, and their 2nd-worst pass defense (301.6 YPG allowed). WR Jordan Matthews could possibly play this weekend, but I wouldn't hold my breath for a meaningful impact even if he does suit up. Even without Matthews the numbers are in Taylor's favor, and I would consider him as a streaming option if you are starting Matthew Stafford, Deshaun Watson, or just lost Aaron Rodgers.
Ezekiel Elliot – Cowboys: Elliot has been good this season, but not great. He has two 100-yard games under his belt so far, with two more over 80 yards, but one game with 8 yards on 9 carries. All told, Elliot is ranked as the 7th-best fantasy RB with 393 rushing yards, 134 receiving yards, and 3 TDs.
Elliot was granted another injunction from his NFL suspension, making him available for at least this week. Beyond that, his status is about as clear as Mississippi river water! The 49ers have the 4th-worst defense against fantasy RBs, making him one of the more elite RBs this weekend.
Jerick McKinnon – Vikings: McKinnon is clearly the lead back for the Vikings after gaining 99 total yards and 2 TDs in Week 6, adding to his 146 total yards and a touchdown in Week 5. Latavius Murray is in the mix, but McKinnon has outplayed him in every way.
The Vikings are at home this week against the Ravens, and their 6th-worst fantasy RB defense (21.6 PPG allowed). So far the Ravens have given up 747 rushing yards, 266 receiving yards, and 4 TDs to running backs this season. McKinnon is a solid RB2 with possible upside into the RB1 rankings.
Marqise Lee – Jaguars: A lot of people won't play him this weekend because his season-high in yards is 83, and he hasn't scored this year. On top of that, the Jaguars are clearly a running team behind Leonard Fournette. With that said, I am playing Lee this weekend in several of my personal leagues.
Fournette twisted his ankle, but is expected to play this week. The Colts give up 24.1 PPG to fantasy WRs, 9th-most in the NFL this season. In that, they have given up 1,178 receiving yards to WRs, which is the 3rd-most in the NFL. The only reason they aren't ranked lower overall is due to the 4 TDs allowed to WRs, which is tied for 4th lowest.
Lee clearly holds more value in PPR leagues than in standard ones. He also has to deal with Blake Bortles in terms of targets. Even with Hurns possibly stealing his TD chances, Lee is clearly the best bet for targets, receptions, and yards of the two this weekend.
Adam Thielen – Vikings: Thielen has been a PPR beast this season, averaging 8.8 targets, 6.3 catches, and 81.5 yards per game. Last week he was the go-to guy in the passing game with Stefon Diggs out, racking up 13 targets, 9 receptions, and 97 yards. He didn't score, but he did finish ranked 13th for fantasy WRs in Week 6.
Diggs didn't practice last week, and has already missed Wednesday's practice this week. With Diggs looking like a longshot to play in Week 7, Thielen is in line for another target-rich game against the Ravens. Like Lee, Thielen has more PPR value than standard value, but he is worth a play regardless of the format.
Evan Engram – Giants: Engram needed to step up in Week 6 after the Giants lost virtually all their WRs due to injury. The rookie reeled in 5 of 7 targets for 82 yards and a touchdown in an upset win over the Broncos, on the road!
Engram and his owners are looking to build on last week's success as the Giants host the Seahawks. Seattle still has a tough defense, but they are no longer the same Legion of Boom that some fans might be used to. They've given up 303 receiving yards and a touchdown to TEs this season, numbers good enough for 7.3 PPG. That may not sound like a lot, but it's almost right in the middle for the NFL.
The Giants have to throw the ball to someone, and Engram is about the only healthy guy on the field these days. He is a good bet to see at least as many targets this week, and is certainly a red zone threat if the Giants can make it that far down the field.
Jacksonville Jaguars defense: There's not many bad things you can say about the Jaguars defense this season. They're ranked #1 in interceptions (10), #1 in sacks (23), #1 in opposing QB rating (60.0), tied for #2 in passing TDs allowed (4), and #3 in passing yards allowed (166.0 YPG).
This week they take on a Colts offense that is lost without Andrew Luck at QB. Jacoby Brissett is a bit of a dual-threat QB, but he isn't a QB that is going to make plays and disrupt a defense's game plan. As long as the Jaguars defense doesn't come out flat, I expect nothing less than elite level fantasy numbers from them.
When you look at IDP leagues, Telvin Smith and Myles Jack are ranked #1 & #2 at LB; Calais Campbell is a top-5 DL; Dante Fowler Jr. is a top-10 DL; Tashaun Gibson is in the top 10 for DBs, while Barry Church is in the top 25. Jalen Ramsey is a shutdown corner, but QBs aren't throwing his way as much anymore because of it. His contributions don't translate into fantasy numbers, but he is one of the elite DBs in the NFL.
Brett Hundley – Packers: I wouldn't have thought I would need to warn people about jumping on Hundley's bandwagon too quickly, but here I am. Hundley has been added in 10 percent of fantasy leagues in the last day alone, which is a MONSTEROUS number when you consider how many fantasy leagues are out there.
Hundley has a total of 6 games under his belt in the NFL, attempting just 44 career passes but throwing 4 career INTs and just 1 TD. Obviously the sample size is too small to make a realistic projection. However, a 4:1 figure isn't the number you want to see when you look at INT:TD ratio.
Hundley has a high-caliber supporting cast around him, but you can't trust a 24-year-old kid who was thrust into NFL action due to injury. The Saints defense looks much improved, and they are sure to pressure Hundley early and often in his first career start.
Jameis Winston/Ryan Fitzpatrick – Buccaneers: Winston is dealing with a sprained AC joint in his throwing shoulder, an injury that knocked him out of Week 6 early in the first quarter. He was "limited" in practice on Wednesday, but what he did exactly isn't clear. Winston is expected to ramp up his activities by Friday, in an effort to see if he can play on Sunday. If he can't go, Fitzpatrick will step in for a spot start.
The Buccaneers are on the road this week, taking on a Bills team fresh off their bye. The Bills have given up the 3rd-fewest fantasy points to QBs this season at a stingy 14.4 PPG. Fitzpatrick was able to throw for 290 yards and 3 TDs against the Cardinals in relief last week, but he also threw 2 INTs, which accounts for 1/3 of their total interceptions this season.
Regardless who the QB is, the matchup is not in their favor. You can consider a streaming option like Tyrod Taylor, Andy Dalton, or maybe Blake Bortles if you want to swing for the fences.
Melvin Gordon – Chargers: Not much has gone right for the Chargers this season, from empty seats in a soccer stadium to a 2-4 record heading into Week 7. Melvin Gordon has scored 7 touchdowns this season, which is the main reason he's ranked #5 for fantasy RBs right now. His 96.3 total YPG so far this season are an 11.6 percent drop from the 108.9 YPG he averaged last season.
Gordon managed just 79 total yards when he played the Broncos in Week 1, but he did score. The Broncos are coming off an embarrassing loss at home to the previously winless Giants, and are sure to want to make a statement this week. Gordon popped up on the injury report Wednesday with a shoulder injury, but it is likely nothing to worry about.
Gordon was drafted as your RB1, but I'd consider him more of a RB2 this week if you can. Maybe you were lucky enough to get Jerick McKinnon or Adrian Peterson, allowing you to deal with possibly lower fantasy stats for Gordon this week.
Mike Gillislee – Patriots: I had high hopes for Gillislee when the Bills declined to match his FA offer sheet with the Patriots. The hope was that he would essentially fill the void left by LeGarrette Blount's departure. Instead, his production has been what we have become used to in a Bill Belichick offense, with totals ranging from 45 yards and 3 TDs in week 1, to a 13-snap, 44-yard effort in Week 6.
It's hard to cut Gillislee because there is likely nothing worth grabbing off the waiver wire, and you just never know when he will have another 3-TD game. But because you don't know when he will be involved in the game plan, it is impossible to play him as anything more than a bye-week filler.
The Falcons are a middle-of-the-road defense when it comes to shutting down fantasy RBs (19.4 PPG allowed, 14th-most in NFL), but it is also worth noting that they've only given up 2 rushing TDs to RBs this season. Gillislee is a true dart throw if you are brave, or desperate, enough to play him.
T.Y. Hilton – Colts: As I mentioned in the opening, Hilton's prospects for this season took a huge hit this week when Luck had a setback in his recovery from shoulder surgery. Brissett is not the worst back-up QB in the league, but he isn't someone that will step in and make skill players around him shine.
Add to his QB problems the fact that he is taking on the Jaguars elite secondary, and you have a recipe for disaster this weekend. It is possible he has some kind of flukishly good game this week, but I certainly wouldn't bet my season on it.
Willie Snead – Saints: Snead saw his first action of the season in Week 6 after missing games 1-3 due to a suspension, then being inactive in Week 4 with a hamstring injury (bye in Week 5). He was a disappointment to owners who played him by hauling in just 1 catch (3 targets) for 11 yards, and no touchdowns.
It usually takes a player 3-4 games to get right after a hamstring injury, and you have to account for his 3-game suspension. Adding both together, you can see where Snead is likely not going to produce fantasy numbers until maybe Week 9 when he takes on the Buccaneers. Be aware, and beware.
Ed Dickson – Panthers: Dickson had a career game in Week 5 when he racked up 5 catches and 175 receiving yards against the Lions. Fantasy owners rushed to the waiver wire to try and catch lightning in a bottle by adding Dickson and throwing him in their starting lineup. He responded by hauling in 4 catches for 36 empty yards in Week 6.
The Bears have been surprisingly solid against fantasy QBs this season, holding them to just 16.3 PPG, the 8th-fewest in the NFL. Cam Newton has been about even money with 9 TDs and 8 INTs, and his 246.0 YPG passing are 13th in the NFL. Newton has all the stats of a very average NFL quarterback, but a name that makes people view him as elite.
Dickson is the 4th-most targeted person on the Panthers with 22 so far this season, but 17 of them have come the previous three games. He's more of a TE2 that hasn't caught a touchdown since Week 6 of 2016.
New England Patriots defense: I have no idea why the Patriots' league-worst defense is still owned in 58 percent of Yahoo leagues, 79.4 percent of NFL.com leagues, and 52.8 percent of ESPN leagues. Even if you consider that fantasy doesn't always mirror reality, the Patriots are just as bad in fantasy scoring with as little as 5 total points this season on ESPN.
It doesn't help that the Patriots play the Falcons and their potent offense this week, only further hurting their chances of providing a return on their owners' investment. You could do better by playing almost ANY other defense in the NFL over the Patriots, so why aren't you?