I will take a wild guess that if you have either looked at your team’s roster or consumed any amount of fantasy football content this week, you are already aware of the terrors challenges that Week 7 may bring to your lineup with six teams on byes. One response would be to just freak out and not set your lineup, but unless you want to lose your matchup and/or be ridiculed by your league mates, I would not recommend it. Every fantasy team has to endure bye weeks and injury-related adversity to some extent, so you might as well seek to find crafty ways to improve your roster among all the scrambling.
I am not simply talking about finding replacements for your regular starters during bye weeks or injury absences; that is just a fundamental thing you have to do. Where you can really take advantage during the madness of these weeks is in free agency/ waivers (monitoring which players other teams have to drop during roster crunches), trades (sending players that have not had their bye week yet in exchange for players who have), and stashing (picking up players on bye weeks or IR who are returning soon). Stay positive, stay focused, and let’s go get a W in Week 7!
* Players marked with an asterisk below can also be found in the priority waiver wire adds article referenced at the end. If anyone featured below is at risk of not playing or is relegated to a bench role late in the week, I will do my best to keep you all updated on Twitter (@BrandonMillerFB). All players below are under 65%-rostered as of 10/20/21.
* D’Ernest Johnson (RB, Cleveland Browns)
Cleveland’s backfield (and offense as a whole) has fought a war of attrition all season that continues to take a toll on its go-to playmakers. In part due to a quick turnaround Thursday night game, the Browns will be without notables Baker Mayfield, Kareem Hunt, Nick Chubb, and likely both Odell Beckham Jr and Jarvis Landry. Basically, backup QB Case Keenum will attempt to drive a car without a steering wheel or brakes; not ideal. However, the motto has always been “next man up” whenever injuries occur in the NFL, and all signs point to that being D’Ernest Johnson this week.
I think it would be fair to assume that Cleveland’s offense will not be as effective in Week 7 given all the absences, so one must temper expectations for Johnson performing as a direct 1:1 replacement for Chubb or Hunt. He will also have Demetric Felton to contend with for touches out of the backfield, though Felton has essentially been a WR to this point with zero carries vs nine targets so far. Despite the doom and gloom picture I just painted of the Browns, all that is to say Johnson is worth a shot in your lineup this week and potentially beyond. Especially with all the injuries, I think Cleveland will stick to a conservative, run-first approach (Keenum’s gunslinger reputation, be damned) that will afford Johnson somewhere in the neighborhood of 14+ total touches. I would slot him behind only Devontae Booker from the list below.
* Alex Collins / Rashaad Penny (RB, Seattle Seahawks)
Sometimes there are simple “set and forget” streamers who you add, immediately slot into your lineup, then do not think about again until their game is in motion. Most of the time, however, finding true difference-makers requires a blend of elbow grease, risk tolerance, and plain old luck. With the full spectrum of injury designations in their backfield and a Monday night game to cap off the week, the Seahawks backfield perfectly fits the latter group.
We know that would-be starter Chris Carson (neck) will not play until at least Week 10; everything else in this backfield is still a bit of a mystery. Alex Collins would be a solid bet to carry the load after his Week 9 performance (20 carries, 101 yards, TD), but hip and glute injuries sustained during the game have put his status in question for Monday night. If he is inactive, I would expect some combination of Rashaad Penny, DeeJay Dallas, and Travis Homer to split the touches, with Penny having the best chance to take the job and run with it (no pun intended) if he “pops.” In my opinion, the play is to roster both Collins and Penny while monitoring their status leading into the weekend.
Other names to consider (in order): Devontae Booker (61% Yahoo), J.D. McKissic, Khalil Herbert, Michael Carter, Damien Williams (check status), AJ Dillon (62% ESPN), Latavius Murray (check status), Mark Ingram II, Devonta Freeman, Nyheim Hines, Kenneth Gainwell, David Johnson, Rhamondre Stevenson, Kenyan Drake, Sony Michel, Demetric Felton, Ty Johnson, Le’Veon Bell, Giovani Bernard, Ronald Jones II, Jeremy McNichols, Trey Sermon, Salvon Ahmed, DeeJay Dallas, Malcolm Brown, Ty’Son Williams, Chris Evans, Jerick McKinnon, Samaje Perine, Marlon Mack, Brandon Bolden.
* Christian Kirk (WR, Arizona Cardinals)
I have already talked up one Cardinals pass-catcher this season (Rondale Moore, Week 3) and there is a good chance there will be even more after Christian Kirk this week. There is no denying the consistent production and explosiveness of Arizona’s offense so far. A big part of that is, for one, overall good fortune with health to this point, but also the weapons they have accumulated at RB, WR, and most recently at TE with the signing of Zach Ertz.
Although this was supposed to be Kirk’s section, the more universal sentiment I want to communicate is that you could apply many of the aspects that make him appealing to others in this offense. Even if the target split continues to be broken up into several nearly identical parts behind DeAndre Hopkins and results in some inconsistency throughout the season, I think Kirk (31 targets), A.J. Green (32), and Rondale Moore (28) can all be useful on any given week. Of that WR trio behind Hopkins, I would consider Kirk as the most consistent, Moore as the most explosive, and Green as the most likely to get a red zone TD.
Marquez Callaway (WR, New Orleans Saints)
As recently as last season, it would have been unthinkable not to roster whoever was listed as WR1 on the Saints depth chart, yet here we are with Marquez Callaway (roughly 40% rostered in ESPN and Yahoo as of 10/20/21). To be fair, it is unreasonable to expect him and Jameis Winston to immediately form a lesser but still productive version of the mega-successful Drew Brees > Michael Thomas duo fantasy managers are so accustomed to seeing. Even those with moderate expectations for Callaway may have dropped him after his slow start or during New Orleans’ Week 6 bye.
It is possible that Alvin Kamara continues to pace the Saints in targets (22 vs Callaway’s 21) until Thomas returns from a lingering ankle issue, but it is also possible that Callaway and Winston showed us a sign of what is to come the last time they played in Week 5 (four catches, eight targets, 85 yards, two TDs) and will be even more in-sync coming out of the bye against Seattle’s secondary. Per Ian Rapoport, Thomas is still “a few weeks away” from returning and will naturally need to get into “game shape” without any setbacks before playing regular snaps. That means Callaway may be granted several additional weeks as the Saints WR1, already has his bye out of the way now, and plays with a QB who still loves to sling it even if Sean Payton has coached some of the “YOLO” out of his passing attempts.
Other names to consider (in order): Sterling Shepard (62% Yahoo, top streamer if available), Henry Ruggs III (60% Yahoo), Darnell Mooney, Tim Patrick, Mecole Hardman, Rondale Moore, Hunter Renfrow, A.J. Green, Robby Anderson (61% Yahoo), DeVante Parker, Amon-Ra St. Brown, Rashod Bateman, Brandon Aiyuk, T.Y. Hilton, Van Jefferson, Nelson Agholor, Jamison Crowder, Bryan Edwards, Zach Pascal, Kadarius Toney (check status), Kendrick Bourne, Jarvis Landry (stash, 63% Yahoo), Jalen Reagor, Adam Humphries.
* Ricky Seals-Jones (TE, Washington Football Team)
On one hand, I would love to brag on how I knew about Ricky Seals-Jones before he became a viable TE streamer. On the other hand, the only reason I knew of him was because of his unique and awesome name, but I never actually considered him a realistic option until now. So yes, I am saying that you can now pick up and start someone who has a cool name, is fantasy-relevant, and plays at a position lacking reliability in his range (borderline TE1/TE2). Although Seals-Jones lacks a consistently productive NFL track record and plays in a mediocre at best Washington offense, he appears to have essentially taken over as a 1:1 replacement for Logan Thomas’ high-volume role (at least in TE terms). RSJ has seen nine and six targets the past two weeks, so TE-needy teams would be wise to follow the targets and ride this out until Thomas is back.
Other names to consider (in order): Hunter Henry, Zach Ertz (top season-long add), Mo Alie-Cox, Evan Engram, C.J. Uzomah, Robert Tonyan, Cole Kmet, Ross Dwelley, Jonnu Smith, Gerald Everett, David Njoku, Anthony Firkser, Austin Hooper, O.J. Howard, Jack Doyle, Tommy Tremble, Hayden Hurst, Cameron Brate, Will Dissly.
Accountability is everything, so here’s a quick look back at last week’s recommendations
Darrel Williams (RB, Kansas City Chiefs): If you were unable to acquire Williams before last week, you likely missed your window as he rushed 21 times for 62 yards and two TDs along with three catches for 27 yards. He is a solid weekly RB2 until Clyde Edwards-Helaire returns.
Devontae Booker (RB, New York Giants): Booker tallied 16 touches (12 carries, four catches) for 69 total yards last week and is still just 61% rostered in Yahoo, so there is a chance you can still scoop him up for this week’s matchup while Saquon Barkley remains sidelined.
Kadarius Toney (WR, New York Giants): Things were looking peachy for Toney streamers on the Giants’ opening possession as he hauled in three catches for 36 yards and was seemingly on his way to a super target-filled day if nothing else. We were then reminded that the Giants cannot have nice things when Toney (ankle) was ruled out for the remainder of the contest. It might be tough to roster him considering the injury and any bye weeks in your lineup, but he is a legit playmaker when healthy, so keep him on speed dial.
Henry Ruggs III (WR, Las Vegas Raiders): Per FantasyData, Ruggs possesses the longest average target distance in the league (18.75), which makes sense when you see stat lines like the one he put up last week (three catches on four targets for 97 yards and a score). You love the 97 yards + TD and you hate the measly seven total targets over the past two games. I would stop short of calling him an every-week starter due to the concerning target volume, but he is capable of winning you weeks when those big plays connect.
Hunter Henry (TE, New England Patriots): Henry may not graduate into this article’s “Notable TE Alums” group just yet after a two-target performance, but the 12.5 yards/catch and TD were nice to see. I would say he is neck and neck with RSJ this week in terms of streaming appeal.
Make sure to check out AJ Passman’s priority waiver wire adds article every Tuesday for more insights on who you should be submitting claims for heading into each Wednesday. Good luck in Week 7!
(Photo by Kevin Abele/Icon Sportswire)