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2023 Fantasy Football: Targets, Fades for NFL Week 7

Injuries seem to be this season's overwhelming — and rather unfortunate — theme.

Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields suffered a dislocated thumb. 2021 No. 1 overall pick Trevor Lawrence sustained a knee injury. PPR phenom Christian McCaffrey suffered an oblique injury. Mid-round sleeper David Montgomery suffered a knee injury. Versatile wideout Deebo Samuel sustained a shoulder injury, and both Los Angeles Rams running backs Kyren Williams and Ronnie Rivers were injured against the Arizona Cardinals

To add insult to injury (no pun intended), Week 7 brings the first of two “bye-nados.” With six teams — the Carolina Panthers, Cincinnati Bengals, Dallas Cowboys, Houston Texans, New York Jets and Tennessee Titans — on a bye, many rosters may look quite lean. 

Below, we will break down one player at each position to target (love) and one player at each position to fade (hate) for your Week 7 fantasy football lineups based on matchups, injuries, strategies and more.

Love/Hate for NFL Week 7

Players We Love This Week

Brock Purdy (at MIN)

Brock Purdy recorded his first career loss and first single-digit fantasy performance since bursting onto the scene as the San Francisco 49ers’ starting quarterback in Week 13 of last season. He completed 12 of 27 attempts for 125 yards, one touchdown and his first interception on the road against a stout Cleveland Browns defense that has allowed the fewest passing yards this year.  

Purdy is in a good spot to bounce back this week on the road against the Minnesota Vikings, whose defense allows the 11th-most fantasy points to quarterbacks this year. We should regard him as a low-end QB1 and a legitimate streaming option for any Joe Burrow, Dak Prescott or C.J. Stroud managers in a pinch.

Zay Flowers (vs. DET)

Zay Flowers is coming off of yet another solid fantasy performance. In Week 6, the rookie reeled in six of eight targets for 50 yards and his first NFL touchdown — good enough for a WR15 finish in half-PPR scoring. This was Flowers’ fifth game with nine or more fantasy points and his third week as a top-30 receiver or better. 

The Boston College product has done a wonderful job solidifying a role in this Baltimore Ravens offense. His 48 targets through six games rank in the top 16 among pass catchers, accounting for 28.4 percent of the team's total. Flowers should be a locked-in top-24 play this week against the Detroit Lions, who have already allowed nine double-digit fantasy performances to wide receivers this year.

Jerome Ford (at IND)

Both Browns running backs performed well in the team’s upset win over the 49ers in Week 6. Jerome Ford rushed 17 times for 84 yards and caught two passes for seven yards, while Kareem Hunt rushed 12 times for 47 yards and a touchdown and caught three targets for 24 yards against a top-notch San Francisco run defense. Ford out-snapped Hunt in the contest by a count of 38 to 28 – a split that has increasingly narrowed since Hunt joined the squad in Week 3. 

Despite this, Ford should still be a trustworthy RB2 this week, even with Hunt potentially eating up some snaps and workload. The Browns take on a much less daunting opponent on the road in the Indianapolis Colts, who have allowed the 10th-most fantasy points to running backs this season and were just torched for two touchdowns by Travis Etienne Jr.

Kyle Pitts (at TB)

Rostering Kyle Pitts this season has been quite the emotional rollercoaster. In Weeks 1 through 4, the No. 4 overall pick from the 2021 NFL Draft was the TE29 in half-PPR and seemingly an afterthought in Arthur Smith’s offense. However, in the past two games, Pitts has shown signs of life and has finished in the top nine or better in both weeks.

He caught seven of 11 targets for 87 yards in Week 5 against the Houston Texans and four of six targets for 43 yards, and in Week 6 against the Washington Commanders, he had his first touchdown since Week 8 of 2022. 

One factor that could give managers pause is Desmond Ridder’s home/road split. The Atlanta Falcons play on the road this week against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, which could limit Pitts’ upside. Still, his recent success is enough to vault him back into top-10 consideration, especially with six teams on a bye.

Players We Hate This Week

Trevor Lawrence (at NO)

Lawrence has been underwhelming all year. He is the fantasy QB15 through six weeks, and his best game of the season came in Week 1 against the Colts. He performed even worse in these teams’ second meeting last week, recording a season-low 181 passing yards, two touchdowns and one interception. 

Lawrence is dealing with a knee injury on a short week and on the road against a tough New Orleans Saints defense that allows the sixth-fewest offensive points, fifth-fewest passing yards and seventh-fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks this year. If Lawrence starts, the Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback is a fringe top-12 option (even with six teams on bye) with significant bust potential.

Michael Pittman Jr. (vs. CLE)

Michael Pittman’s stock has been trending in the right direction, even with the absence of QB Anthony Richardson. Pittman caught nine of 14 targets for a season-high 109 yards last week in Jacksonville while catching passes from backup Gardner Minshew; Pittman was the WR9 in half-PPR. 

He could be a rare, volume-heavy receiver who is more immune to subpar quarterback play than most. That said, he may be unable to overcome this difficult matchup against the Browns, whose defense will be the toughest the Colts have faced. Cleveland has the No. 1 defense against fantasy receivers and has yet to allow a touchdown to a wideout this year. Pittman struggled the last time the Colts faced a formidable adversary in Week 4 against the Rams, who held him to just one catch for 15 yards. He is a boom-or-bust WR2/3 this week in light of these mitigating factors.

Alexander Mattison (vs. SF)

Alexander Mattison is making a solid case for being this season’s Mike Davis. The Minnesota Vikings running back was supposed to jump into fantasy stardom after the team moved on from longtime bell cow running back Dalvin Cook. Unfortunately, Mattison has been a disappointment for fantasy purposes — especially in light of his unrivaled status.

He posted a bland nine fantasy points in half-PPR last week against a terrible Chicago Bears defense, despite seeing 18 carries in the contest. Mattison will be difficult to start confidently this week against the 49ers, whose defense has allowed the sixth-fewest rushing yards this year. He is a low-ceiling RB2 in this unfavorable matchup.

Zach Ertz (at SEA)

Zach Ertz’s 39 targets, which account for 20.6 percent of the team’s total through six weeks, have been impressive. He ranks in the top six among tight ends in the category but has been unable to convert these opportunities into dependable production. Ertz was a dud in Week 6 against the Rams and caught just two of five targets for 22 yards, finishing as the TE24 in half-PPR.

He cannot be trusted in lineups this week in a tough road matchup against the Seattle Seahawks, who have allowed the fifth-fewest fantasy points to tight ends and are one of six teams who have not given up a touchdown to the position this year.

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