Kickoff: Sunday, October 25th at 1:00 PM ET
Location: Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta, GA
Betting Odds: ATL -3, 56.5 total via Oddsshark
Matthew Stafford (Start, low-end QB1)
Matthew Stafford isn’t anywhere near the pace he set in 2019 and has yet to throw for 300 yards in any game this season. A date with the porous Falcons’ defense seems to cure all passing ails, however. Atlanta has allowed 300 or more yards in every game this season sans Week 1 in which Russell Wilson only had 299. This is expected to be a high scoring game with plenty of offense, so starting players from either offense would be prudent in Week 7. Stafford should be a QB1 for fantasy managers this week but might trend toward the bottom of the QB1 tier. Better options are out there, but Stafford should be fine for traditional leagues and is an excellent option in leagues that allow for two or more QBs.
D’Andre Swift (Start, RB2), Adrian Peterson (Start, Flex), Kerryon Johnson (Sit)
Are we starting to see a changing of the guard at RB in Detroit? D’Andre Swift has been inching closer and closer to Adrian Peterson in snap count over the past few weeks and finally surpassed the future Hall of Famer in Week 6, perhaps for good. Swift saw 29 snaps to Peterson’s 27 and easily had his best day as a pro eclipsing 100 yards and finding the end zone twice. The exciting thing about Swift for fantasy managers is his involvement in the passing game as he has garnered at least four targets in every contest except Week 3 in which he left early with an injury. Peterson is still plenty involved in this offense, limiting Swift’s upside, but Swift should still return RB2 value for fantasy managers in Week 7.
Perhaps part of the reason Swift out-snapped Peterson in Week 6 was a minor injury that required an MRI last Thursday on Peterson’s side that showed no serious issues but the fact remains Swift looked like the better player in Week 6. Peterson is still going to have a role in this offense, but it would appear that role will be slightly smaller than it has been up to this point in the season. Peterson still has enough upside to warrant consideration as a Flex play for fantasy managers this week, but expectations should be tempered given the expanded role Swift appears to be garnering heading forward.
Kerryon Johnson seems to have become the forgotten man in Detroit as his usage has dwindled as the season has progressed. Johnson is not seeing enough touches to warrant consideration for fantasy managers and likely can be dropped as he will only have fantasy value in the event of an injury to Swift or Peterson.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Kenny Golladay (Start, WR1), Marvin Jones (Sit), Danny Amendola (Sit), T.J. Hockenson (Start, TE1)
Kenny Golladay isn’t seeing the target volume he’s become accustomed to over the past two years but he is still performing admirably for fantasy managers on a per-game basis. Golladay has scored a TD or eclipsed 100 yards in all three games he’s participated in this season and now faces an Atlanta secondary that has allowed at least 92 yards to a WR every week sans the Green Bay game in which Jamaal Williams had 95 receiving yards. Atlanta has also allowed seven TDs to WRs this season, something in which Golladay excels at getting. All these factors point to a big game from Golladay and he should easily finish as a WR1 for fantasy managers in Week 7. Start him with confidence.
Marvin Jones has become a non-factor since Golladay’s return with just six catches and 68 yards over the past three weeks. The odd thing is Jones is leading the team at snaps at the WR position every week with Golladay in the lineup. The emergence of Swift as a viable option in the passing game has certainly affected, but I don’t think anyone thought it would be at such a detriment to Jones. Until Jones becomes more involved in the offense, he should be left on the bench of fantasy managers.
Much like Jones, Danny Amendola has also seen a decrease in targets with the added weapons in Detroit’s passing game. Amendola is at least doing more with his limited targets than Jones, but it’s still not enough to warrant much of a blip on the fantasy radar. Amendola is also a bench candidate going forward unless Stafford starts involving him more.
Another player who has been responsible for the dip in the production of Jones and Amendola is T.J. Hockenson. Hockenson doesn’t have eye-popping numbers the last two weeks, garnering just 26 yards on four receptions, but he has found the end zone in each of the last two games keeping him in the conversation for fantasy managers. TEs have found success against Atlanta this season, headlined by Robert Tonyan’s breakout in Week 4 (98 yards and three TDs). Hockenson is a valuable part of Detroit’s passing game and should produce at a TE1 level for fantasy managers in Week 7. Feel free to start him without hesitation.
Matt Ryan (Start, QB1)
Matt Ryan has been serviceable (Weeks 3, 4, and 5) to very good (Weeks 1, 2, and 6) for fantasy managers, and the very good weeks correlate perfectly with a certain healthy WR. When Julio Jones has been healthy and played a full game, Ryan has a stat line of 91-of-130 (70% completion percentage) for 1,094 yards and 10 TDs against one INT. Julio is, by all accounts, healthy for the team’s Week 7 game against Detroit. This game is expected to be high scoring, making Ryan a solid choice as a QB1. Fantasy managers can roll him out with confidence in Week 7.
Todd Gurley (Start, RB1), Brian Hill (Sit), Ito Smith (Sit)
While Todd Gurley is not having the same level of success as his early days as a member of the Rams, Gurley has been a pleasant surprise for fantasy managers who took a chance on him this season. Gurley is seeing around 20 opportunities (carries and targets) per game and is turning those into about 75 yards per game and is averaging nearly one TD per game as well. Detroit has been dreadful against opposing RBs this season, allowing an average of 145 rushing yards per game, and has surrendered seven TDs to RBs over the team’s five games this season. Gurley should see enough volume against a porous defense to return RB1 numbers for fantasy managers in Week 7 and is a solid starting option.
Gurley has dominated the snaps and touches out of the backfield for Atlanta this season, relegating both Brian Hill and Ito Smith as no more than viable handcuffs in regards to fantasy football. Of the two, Hill sees a much larger percentage of the backup workload generally seeing a 2-to-1 advantage in snaps over Smith. Unfortunately for fantasy managers, neither is garnering enough opportunities to be fantasy relevant. Barring an injury to Gurley, both Hill and Smith are no more than bench fodder for fantasy managers in Week 7.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Julio Jones (Start, WR1), Calvin Ridley (Start, WR1), Russell Gage (Sit), Hayden Hurst (Start, TE1)
I touched on his importance to the passing game earlier, but Julio Jones really is a difference-maker for Atlanta and the success of the team’s passing game. The biggest knocks against Jones from a fantasy perspective is his general lack of TD receptions (59 career receiving TDs in 130 games) and his propensity for soft tissue injuries (you can view his litany of injuries here). When healthy, as he is heading into this game, Jones is almost always an auto-start and I think he falls into that category again this week. Expect a lot of offensive fireworks, making Jones a solid option for fantasy managers as a WR1 in Week 7.
On the other end of the receiving TD, spectrum resides Calvin Ridley. Ridley has amassed 22 receiving TDs in just 35 games and has consistently been a solid option for fantasy managers this season, the shutout against Green Bay in Week 4 notwithstanding. Ridley is the perfect complement to Jones and has produced even when both are on the field together. Detroit has surrendered above-average games to multiple WRs already this season, so it shouldn’t concern fantasy managers which Atlanta WR will have a good game at the expense of another. As such, Ridley is a fine WR1 option for fantasy managers in Week 7.
Despite being on the field for more than 60% of Atlanta’s offensive snaps, Russell Gage has struggled to secure a solid role in the passing game. Gage has seen five or fewer targets in each of the team’s last four games and was overshadowed by Olimade Zaccheaus during Jones’s absence. Gage is hard to trust even in a matchup as good as this one. Fantasy managers hoping for a reason to start Gage won’t find one here and he is a recommended sit in Week 7.
The arrival of Hayden Hurst in Atlanta was viewed by many to be an upgrade over his situation in Baltimore, especially given how well Austin Hooper performed as Atlanta’s primary TE in 2019. Hurst has been on both extremes of the production scale so far in 2020 with PPR scores as high as 18.2 in Week 2 against Dallas and as low as 2.8 in Week 5 against Carolina. Detroit hasn’t been too generous to opposing TEs so far this season but they have allowed two TDs to the position so TD-upside is there. I expect Hurst to be a viable option this week for Ryan and the Atlanta passing attack and he should find his way to a TE1 finish based on volume. Fantasy managers can rely on Hurst as a starter in Week 7.
Snap counts courtesy of Fantasy Data.
-Bryan Sweet (@FantasyFreakTN on Twitter)