Stars of Week 7

QB: Justin Herbert, LAC: 27-43, 347 yards, 3 TDs, 0 INTs, 9 carries, 66 yards, 1 TD)

RB: Jeff Wilson, SF: 17 carries, 112 yards, 3 TDs

WR: Tyler Lockett, SEA: 15 catches, 200 yards, 3 TDs

TE: Harrison Bryant, CLE: 4 catches, 56 yards, 2 TDs

We’ve got a fascinating leaderboard this week, with two names coming out of left field, a burgeoning rookie star at QB and perhaps the most underrated WR in football. The Los Angeles Chargers have struggled to establish a fan base in their new home, but young franchise QB Justin Herbert will lend a major hand in changing that. Herbert continues to stick throws in tight windows amidst pressure, and he’s also flashed a bit as a runner. Herbert will straddle the QB1/QB2 border going forward based on matchups – outstanding for a rookie signal caller. 

Those of you who started 49ers’ RB Jerick McKinnon this past week, my condolences. Kyle Shanahan played a very Belichickian trick on the fantasy world, having preplanned for McKinnon to take it easy on Sunday, without sharing his news with us. So what happened instead? Next-in-line RB Jeff Wilson took the lead chair for the game, ravaged the Patriots for 112 rushing yards and 3 TDs, hurt his ankle and will now be on the IR. Wilson stepped in like a hurricane, did his damage and left the scene. An incredible performance, but with his injury, and the likelihood that other injured 49er RBs will return soon, Wilson is unfortunately not add worthy.

A Seahawks WR has taken the league by storm this year. Yes, DK Metcalf has been a beast. But this past Sunday, it was veteran WR Tyler Lockett who starred. No QB-WR combo is in sync quite like Russell Wilson-Tyler Lockett, as they navigate the corners of the field and the end zone unlike any other duo. Lockett hit the 200 yard receiving mark and found the end zone thrice in a riveting performance against the Cardinals. While Lockett had been quiet the previous two weeks, any concerns about the stud WR should be quieted for good. He’s a weekly starter in fantasy leagues…bar none.

The second performance to surprise comes from Cleveland, where rookie tight end Harrison Bryant stepped in for an injured Austin Hooper and held the fort down for the Browns, finding the end zone twice against the Bengals. We’ll take a closer look at Bryant below. 

Week 7 Takeaways – A Closer Look

Each week we take a closer look at a handful of performances and sort out what such performances mean going forward.

- Chase Edmonds, RB – ARI: 5 carries, 58 yards, 0 TDs (7 catches, 87 yards, 0 TDs)

Analysis: The Cardinals and Seahawks played a thriller on Sunday Night Football, with too many crazy stories to recount here. But perhaps the most important story to impact the fantasy football world is the injury to Cardinals RB Kenyan Drake, who will be out multiple weeks with a hurt ankle. Yes, that means it’s now Chase Edmonds SZN! If you think back all the way to 2019, you may remember Cardinals’ RB David Johnson suffering an injury mid-season, only for Kenyan Drake to step in and take the job for good. Not saying that Drake will be Wally Pipp’d by Edmonds, but it’s not out of the realm of possibility. Watching both RBs, Edmonds has more juice, and in my mind is the better RB. Edmonds has averaged over 6 yards per carry in 2020, albeit over just 29 snaps. But regardless of the short sample size, his burst is real. He’s also a fantastic pass catcher out of the backfield. For those of you who own Edmonds already, he’ll slot in as a low end RB1 / high end RB2 when the Cardinals return to play in Week 9 (they have a bye this coming week). If you’re in one of the ~ 37% of leagues where Edmonds remains available, he’s immediately the top waiver add for the week – place a claim in for him now.                        

- Cole Beasley, WR – BUF: 11 catches, 110 yards, 0 TDs

Analysis: The Buffalo Bills had to rally to come back and defeat the lowly New York Jets, who remain the league’s only winless team. QB Josh Allen led the team on 6 scoring drives, albeit none of those drives resulted in finding the end zone. Ultimately a win is a win, so kudos to the Bills for getting it done. While Stefon Diggs has been Allen’s primary weapon in the passing game, don’t sleep on veteran wide receiver Cole Beasley. The ninth year pro had a whopping 11 receptions on 12 targets, crossing the century mark in yardage. Beasley has very quietly had a solid year – he sits at 39 receptions, 470 yards and 2 TDs through 7 games. Most indicative of sustainability of performance, he’s been targeted at least 6 times by Allen in all but one game so far.  Sure, Beasley’s seasonal numbers won’t blow you away, but with injuries, byes and covid protocols keeping players out of games, a player like Beasley could be of help for those of you who are thin at WR. Beasley’s value pertains much more to PPR leagues, as he’s a volume catcher. You should view Beasley as a low end flex play in deeper (i.e. 12+ teams) PPR leagues. Beasley’s more of a WR4 in standard leagues, but can still help you if you’re in a pinch.

- Antonio Brown, WR – TB:  Debuts week 8 

Analysis: Usually we take a look at a specific game performance for a player or a position group, but this week we’ll look at the imminent arrival of a key player and the impact he’ll have on a team’s receiving corps. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have looked magnificent on offense the last few weeks, with Tom Brady looking like his GOAT self, Ronald Jones handling first chair rushing duties with aplomb, Gronk looking more like his old self and the WR group taking turns finding the end zone. Well, the Bucs are about to get even more interesting, as the team ‘won’ the sweepstakes for mercurial WR Antonio Brown. We’ll leave AB’s psychological analysis for others, but strictly from a football standpoint, the Bucs are adding a star WR. With one more mouth to feed though, it’s clear that Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Scotty Miller and Gronk – the primary pass catchers – will each be impacted. How will it shake out? Let’s start with AB. He’ll immediately join Evans and Godwin in the starting lineup, with Godwin manning the slot. There’s no reason to believe that AB will exhibit any loss in his excellent route running ability, and with weapons galore for defenses to account for, he’ll get open without much issue. Expect something along the lines of 6 catches and 60 receiving yards per game on average, with 4 TDs over an 8 game span. That would equate to solid WR2 numbers. From the slot, Godwin should continue to post consistent numbers, hauling roughly 5-6 passes as well per game. That’ll slot Godwin in as the lower end WR2 (pun intended). As we move over to Evans, I have more concern. He’ll remain a deep threat and a jump ball artist by the goal line, but Evans already has 7 games with 2 or less receptions. AB’s arrival does nothing to help with his erratic performances. So…Evans will continue to be inconsistent and have the highest ceiling / lowest floor of the group, with more low scoring games than high. He moves to a high end WR3 / flex for me due to the volatility. Scotty Miller probably loses the most out of the group, as he becomes the team’s fourth WR and will likely only have fantasy value moving forward if one of the big three misses a game. We’ll wrap this up looking at Gronk, who has had a resurgence over the last two games. Look for his targets to be cut just slightly, and his value will be as a borderline low end TE1 / high end TE2 dependent on matchup. 

- Rashard Higgins, WR – CLE: 6 catches, 110 yards, 0 TDs

Analysis: While the Browns won their game against the Bengals, they also suffered a huge loss – star WR Odell Beckham suffered a season ending injury and will miss the rest of the season. Obviously you can’t replace someone of Beckham’s stature mid-season, but not all is lost. Just wait and see, but the Browns may become the benefactor of the Patrick Ewing theory. If you’re not familiar with the Ewing theory, Bill Simmons theorized that when certain stars (notably those who require a lot of attention) are no longer available, the rest of the team’s players more than make up for the star’s absence, and the team actually improves as a whole. While just a tiny sample size, QB Baker Mayfield went on a terror in the second half against the Bengals, going 17-of-18 for 252 yards and 4 TDs (all without Beckham). While the one half does not a season make, there’s a reasonable thought that Mayfield will feel less pressure to force throws to Beckham, and instead will be free to spread the ball around. Insert veteran WR Rashard Higgins, who caught 6 balls for 110 yards to lead the Browns’ receivers this past Sunday. Other than Jarvis Landry, the Browns don’t have much outside of Beckham at WR. So Higgins, who’s a good route runner and showed solid chemistry with Mayfield, will elevate to a starting role, and will join Landry, Kareem Hunt and the tight ends as the target of Mayfield’s passes. The key here is that Higgins will have perhaps the most important asset for fantasy purposes…opportunity. Beckham’s injury has opened the door for Higgins to take over. If you need a WR, Higgins should be a top waiver add for you.  

- Harrison Bryant, TE – CLE: 4 catches, 56 yards, 2 TDs

Analysis: Cleveland Browns’ starting tight end Austin Hooper sat this past weekend due to illness, and the team gave rookie Harrison Bryant the starting nod, as opposed to the better known David Njoku. The fourth round product out of Florida Atlantic, Bryant showed off his smooth hands against the Bengals, hauling in two TD passes from QB Baker Mayfield in the comeback win. While Hooper’s absence will likely be a short one, this doesn’t mean the end of Bryant as a part of the offense. As mentioned above, WR Odell Beckham Jr. suffered a season ending injury. The phrase “it takes a village” will apply here, as the team will need to rely on the aggregate to help make up for Beckham’s absence. Coach Kevin Stefanski is no stranger to operating in 12 personnel (meaning one RB, two TEs and two WRs), so there’s room for Bryant to make hay as well. Will Bryant make enough hay for fantasy leagues? That’ll be a tough sell in games where Hooper plays, so he’ll be more relevant in very deep leagues (think 16+ teams). But to the extent Hooper misses any additional games this year, keep Bryant on your speed dial as a tight end fill-in. 

Rapid Fire Pickups 

Each week we throw out potential free agent pickups from each position for deeper leagues, in each case 1) someone who has NOT been featured above, and 2) a player available in more than 50% of leagues. 

QB: Teddy Bridgewater, CAR (facing ATL!)

RB: JaMycal Hasty, SF (likely to serve as early down RB vs Seahawks)

RB: Zack Moss, BUF

WR: Sterling Shepard, NYG (schedule eases up after TB next week)

WR: Darnell Mooney, CHI

TE: Richard Rodgers, PHI