It’s time for our Week 7 Starts and Sits! Remember we’ll do our best to predict outcomes based on what’s given to us. That’s diving into the numbers, digging through the juicy matchups, examining trends, watching the film, and collecting data that should lean towards certain players being better starts than others. While it won’t always play out that way, fantasy is a game of what’s most “likely” to happen and we need to attack it that way.
Every week we try to make some of your decision-making easier with what we’ve collected, but ultimately it’s your call on what you want to do with your team. I’ll try to avoid the slam-dunk stud plays and focus more on players you’re teetering with putting in your starting lineups. We’re going to discuss Quarterbacks, Running Backs, Wide Receivers, and Tight Ends on each week’s slate, and I hope that we can win you the week!
Now, let’s do it.
Quarterbacks to Start:
Matt Ryan | Atlanta Falcons: While Matt Ryan may be QB24 on the season, he’s actually been playing a lot better as of late. He was QB12 in Week 5 and scored at least 19.3 fantasy points in three of his last four games, scoring at least 21.6 in each of his last two. Atlanta ranks second in the NFL in passing attempts per game at over 41 per game and getting to face a Miami secondary that has been depleted.
As of right now, Miami could be without Xavien Howard and Byron Jones who are both Pro-Bowl players, and make this game even easier for Matty Ice. Ryan also gets Pro-Bowl WR Calvin Ridley back for this game, which doesn’t hurt either. The Dolphins have given up the ninth-most fantasy points to quarterbacks this season and tied for the fourth-most passing touchdowns allowed to said position. Ryan should be throwing the ball all over the yard in this matchup.
Tua Tagovailoa | Miami Dolphins: Very rarely do I put mediocre quarterbacks facing each other in the same game as both starts, but here we are. Tua Tagovailoa re-entered the Dolphins lineup in Week 6 and looked as good we could have hoped for. He threw for 329 yards and two touchdowns while navigating the pocket well and being decisive with his throws. His 22.36 fantasy points were good enough for QB10 in Week 6 and he’s looking to build upon that this week against a poor Falcons defense.
This poor Falcons defense gives up the eight-most fantasy points per game to quarterbacks at 22 per game. The Dolphins have also been absent of any running game (sorry Myles Gaskin owners) and rank 31st in terms of PPR fantasy points per game with their collection of running backs as a whole. This has led to the highest pass rate overall and the second-highest neutral game script pass rate in the league. Tua should be an awesome play this week.
Derek Carr | Las Vegas Raiders: It’s time to come clean: I have been a Derek Carr non-believer for most of his career. I didn’t see the “it” factor that you need to have as a franchise quarterback and he was someone I didn’t love whether it was real football or fantasy. So far this season, Carr has helped erase that narrative as he’s second in the league in passing yards and ranks at QB14 on the season. This all with a career-high in yards per attempt which is helping net this Raiders offense some big plays.
Carr faces an Eagles secondary that has been stingy to opposing wide receivers, but have allowed quarterbacks to throw 12 touchdowns this season (tied for fourth-most) and allowed Dak Prescott, Patrick Mahomes, and Tom Brady to each score at least 21 fantasy points against them in three of their last four matchups and are middle of the pack in terms of explosive passes allowed. I think Carr could be a sneaky-good play this week.
Quarterback to Sit:
Joe Burrow| Cinncinati Bengals: Joe Burrow looks to finally be hitting his stride, as he’s thrown for multiple touchdowns in every game this season and scored 20 or more fantasy points in three straight games. This has boosted Burrow back into QB1 territory. So why are we fading him?
The Baltimore defense looks to be coming into its own, having shut down Justin Herbert to 12 fantasy points last week. They did so with many different schemes that Herbert was not used to seeing. If you remember last season, Burrow in his one start against them did not play well as he threw for under 200 yards passing with no touchdowns and an interception. At Ravens stadium where it’s been nearly impossible for opposing teams to win this season, I don’t have as much faith in Burrow in this matchup.
Running Backs to Start:
James Conner | Arizona Cardinals: While many will be plugging in Kyler Murray and DeAndre Hopkins in this revenge game narrative against the Texans (as they should), I’m looking at what could be a player that might go under the radar here in James Conner. Houston has allowed a running back to score in three straight games and just gave up an absolute monster day to Jonathan Taylor in Week 6. Conner meanwhile, is averaging over 15 touches a game, scored six rushing touchdowns (including three of his past four games), and ranks in the top 10 in RedZone carries in the NFL.
Still not sold yet? The Texans, are giving up 141.3 yards per game on the ground this season, given up tied for the third-highest amount of rushing touchdowns (6), and have given up 26.1 PPR fantasy points per game to running backs. James Conner could be in for a big day in what could be a blowout for the Cardinals.
Rhamondre Stevenson | New England Patriots: Start Damien Harris. That needed to be said before we go any further with talking about Stevenson. Harris should be expected to get the bulk of the rushing work and go against Jets team that has given up the most PPR fantasy points per game to running backs this season. I want to dig a little deeper here and say if you’re hurting with running back byes and you have Stevenson, you should fire him up this week.
Stevenson burst on the scene last week in this passing game, landing 15% of the targets while running the most routes of all the Pats running backs last week. The Jets are allowing the highest target share to the position this season. This same Jets team just allowed James White to have a 21% target share in Week 2. I think Stevenson makes sense as he’s seemed to capture the “James White role” last week and could be a good PPR flex this week.
J.D. Mckissic | Washington Football Team: At the writing of this article, Antonio Gibson has not practiced and is questionable for Washington’s game against the Packers on Sunday. The Packers already project as more than a touchdown favorite and Washington is expected to be playing from behind much of this game. While the Packers actually are decent against opposing running backs, allowing less than 24 PPR fantasy points per game, they’ve actually allowed tied for the second-most receiving touchdowns to opposing running backs. That bodes well for J.D. Mckissic.
In research done by Numberfire’s JJ Zachariason, Mckissic has accumulated 15% of Washington’s targets since Week 1 and already had three top 15 PPR RB performances this season. He’s also scored at least 16.9 PPR points in three of his last five games. If Gibson doesn’t play McKissic goes from a solid flex play to potentially an RB2 for this week.
Running Back to Sit:
Devontae Booker | New York Giants: In what is expected to be an ugly game between the Giants and Panthers this Sunday, Booker is someone who I’d expect to fit the narrative of the afternoon. While Booker has been serviceable the last two weeks, totaling 19 and 16 touches for back-to-back games with double-digit fantasy points, I wouldn’t expect the same against this defense.
Carolina has been incredibly stingy against the run this season, giving up less than 15 fantasy PPR fantasy points per game to opposing running backs and allowing two TOTAL touchdowns this season to the position. Booker will see volume, but I’d try to look elsewhere if you can.
Wide Receivers to Start:
Sterling Shepard | New York Giants: While I may not be as confident with this call as I would be with a full complement of Giants weapons in this game, that definitely is not the case. The Giants are expected to be missing Kenny Golladay, Saquon Barkley, and potentially Darius Slayton this week, as well as having electric rookie Kadarius Toney already ruled out. While Toney looked great on the first drive against the Rams, it was Shepard who stepped up in his absence with a whopping 14 targets!
After Shepard’s 10 catch effort last week, he gets to face a Carolina defense that’s starting to become more susceptible to opposing wideouts recently, despite ranking 22nd in PPR fantasy points per game allowed to opposing wide receivers. The “Bye-nado” that is occurring in Week 7 has left many with less consistent options than Shepard, who has at least seven catches and 76 yards in the three full games he’s started and completed this season. Shepard should be a fine play this week.
Darnell Mooney | Chicago Bears: Let’s not ignore the elephant in the room. The Bears will most likely be blown out in this game. They’re facing a Buccaneers team that let’s face it, is a lot better in what seems like all facets of the game than the Bears right now. For how bad running backs are against Tampa Bay, receivers have not encountered that same problem. Tampa Bay has given up the eighth-most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers this season at 41 PPR fantasy points per game while allowing the fourth-highest completion percentage to opposing quarterbacks.
Mooney has become the favorite target for new quarterback Justin Fields as he’s seen nearly a 30% target share since Fields became the full-time starter. Over Mooney’s last three games he’s seen 20 targets alone. This is a game expected to have the Bears in a very negative game script and should allow Mooney to be fantasy-relevant the entire game. I’d expect him to get into the endzone this week.
Rashod Bateman | Baltimore Ravens: Say hello to Mr. Bateman! While he didn’t come out with much fanfare in Week 6 (four catches for 29 yards) there was some important data we can take away. Number one was that he was tied with Mark Andrews for the team lead in targets (6) and dropped a ball that could’ve allowed him to walk in for a long touchdown. Bateman also out-targeted Hollywood Brown, playing fewer snaps.
After getting his feet wet, Bateman gets to face a Bengals team that ranks in the middle of the pack against opposing wide receivers, allowing 37.6 PPR fantasy points per game. While the Bengals aren’t a dynamite matchup, Bateman seems to be the alpha in the offense (going back to how he looked in the preseason as well) and I think he makes it known this week against the Bengals.
Wide Receiver to Sit:
Corey Davis | New York Jets: The opposing number one wide receiver against a Bill Belichick-coached team always scares me. The Patriots defense as a whole has only allowed three touchdowns to wideouts lined up at the “X” all-season where Corey Davis plays.
If you go back to Week 2, Davis was already shut down by this team when this Patriots team limited him to just two catches for eight yards. A total of 2.8 fantasy points. Not much analysis is needed here, look for other players besides Davis if you’re forced to play any Jets.
Tight End to Start:
C.J. Uzomah | Cincinnati Bengals: I’m staying away from Zach Ertz here because I know he’ll be a fixture in many articles and lineups. Let’s go someone a little more under the radar. The Baltimore Ravens have allowed the most targets (64) and the most catches (43) to tight ends so far in 2021. They also rank the 2nd-highest in terms of touchdowns allowed (4) tied for first in PPR fantasy points per game allowed to the position at 17.2.
This all lines up for C.J. Uzomah to have a good day against this Ravens secondary that’s going to be focused on stopping the elite group of wide receivers Cincinnati possesses. Uzomah should be a great streamer for those hurting hard during the rough Week 7 bye week.
Tight End to Sit:
Cameron Brate | Tampa Bay Buccaneers: In an offense that has four players between a 10-20% target share, it’s already a shot in the dark that any of those four players have the week you hope for when playing them. The usual starting tight end Rob Gronkowski, ranks 5th on the team with just over a 9% share. Cameron Brate? Well, he’s down at 5.7%. That’s behind Gio Bernard and Tyler Johnson.
Add in the fact that O.J. Howard has been worked back into the mix (he caught a TD in Week 6) and that the Bears have only allowed 8.9 PPR fantasy points per game to tight ends with just one touchdown all season, I’ll pass and look elsewhere for my tight end this week.