Arian Foster out for the year
Arian Foster tore his achilles in Week 7 and is reportedly out for the season. We have seen Alfred Blue dud his way to only 49 yards in 14 carries in his first two games before his 31/139/1 slash in Week 3 over a terrible Buccaneers defense. Blue may be the starter in Week 8, hosting the Titans, but beware of Chris Polk, who has had 12 targets since Foster debuted and nine in the weeks when Blue was the starter. Polk is the Texans back I would prefer to own, especially in PPR, though both should be owned by Thursday.
Welcome to the show, Mike Evans
Mike Evans (8/64/1) is healthy and showing why so many analysts were bullish on him in the preseason to keep him in their top-12s. His 12 of Jameis Winston's 29 targets were not flavor of the week stuff; Winston is a struggling young QB who is learning where his bread is buttered. This is great for Winston's value, as all we need for him to be a legit bye week replacement is that he force-feeds Evans. The only two weeks where Evans has scored double digit fantasy points were the two weeks he saw more than eight targets.
And the winner of the Cowboys backfield carousel is
Christine Michael Darren McFadden
Before Week 1, I said that Darren McFadden is the starting RB behind one of the best lines in football. It only took seven weeks for that to be lucky-true. Joseph Randle was awful and got benched early in Week 7, which was totally predictable. We knew that McFadden had secured Lance Dunbar's role as the passing downs back, but his 31 touches for 162 yards against a decent Giants run D was a shock.
Christine Michael's six touches for 19 yards was irrelevant; he's simply a spell. His catch was on a busted play where he was the blocking back on a play where New York didn't blitz. McFadden is the only startable Cowboys back right now, but won't crack my top-20, only because his health is more a concern than others, despite all RBs being of high injury risk.
DeAndre Hopkins is still the #1 WR in fantasy
A bad 6/50/0 slash for DeAndre Hopkins in a good Week 7 matchup, but still got 12 targets his way. The defense is bad and they cannot trust their backfield, so the Texand should keep throwing and throwing often. Expect Hopkins to keep getting fed for the best opportunity situation in the NFL.
Todd Gurley is a monster
It is very hard to make the case against Todd Gurley (19/128/2; 4/35/0 in the pass game) as a top-5 RB. He cannot play the Browns every week, yes, but Jeff Fisher knows his team cannot throw the ball and is feeding Gurley over 20 times every week. A week ago, we would have definitely traded him for the recent low efficiency of Adrian Peterson or Matt Forte, but he is becoming so safe that we have to question than and stand pat.
Sell high on Charcandrick West
Charcandrick West (22/110/1) broke out in a huge way with no Jeremy Maclin on the field and dominated the snap count over Knile Davis (1/2/0). The starting job is definitely West and he should be owned in all leagues, but there is too much risk in starting him behind this line on a team where their defense is such a liability to force them to abandon the run. There will be more big games for West sprinkled through the rest of the season, but good luck knowing when to start him.
West's value may be peaking this week. Week 8 could have the Chiefs too far behind to run against the Lions, who should throw all over KC, and no one will want West going into his Week 9 bye, even if Week 8 is respectable. Fantasy owners have short memories and won't want him for his Week 10 game in Denver, either. Where we can't move him this week, he should just be stashed for his Week 11 game in San Diego.
Tread lightly with Stefon Diggs
Stefon Diggs (6/108/1) was great for us where we grabbed him in waivers and plugged him in, cheaply, to our DFS lineups. He now has nine targets in each of his first three games with 87, 129, and 108 yards, adding his first TD this week. These are elite WR1 numbers which cannot be expected consistently from a Vikings pass game.
His last two opponents, the Lions and Chiefs, are among the worst against WRs, and Adrian Peterson is in a big slump. We can't really bench Diggs any time soon, and is probably a WR2 with some nice matchups, rest of season. But where we are deep at WR, we should be trying to deal him for top-20 value at RB.
Dan Campbell is making Miami the fantasy gold we expected in the preseason
The Dolphins are back to fantasy trustworthiness again. Rishard Matthews (3/75/1) was the early game target and Jarvis Landry (5/83/2) got his later. The concern is with Ryan Tannehill (18/19, 282 yds, 4TDs). Both Matthews and Landry made TDs with long runs after the catch against a terrible Texans defense, and it is difficult to trust a weak-armed QB who needs his WRs to make plays with their feet.
Great to see the Fins not playing boring football, though. They are throwing fast and often early and getting Lamar Miller (14/175/1; 3/61/1 in the pass game) into space at all points of the games. Miller also padded Tanny's numbers with his feet.
Miller is obviously the most coveted piece of this puzzle, as he can expect 15 touches per game. Matthews then Landry are still WR3s with great upside every week. Matthews now has at least 85 yards and/or a TD more in five of six games; but Landry's target volume is a concern, going from double digit targets in each of the first four weeks to only nine over the last two. Tanny should probably be owned as a potential bye week replacement, but we should still be able to find more upside when we need a QB2.
Marshawn Lynch is the only Seahawk we want on our roster
Where we couldn't sell high on Jimmy Graham (2/31/0) after his Week 6 performance, we should be cautious to start him. No passing weapon of Russell Wilson (18/24, 235 yds, 1 TD, 2, INTs) has ever maintained fantasy relevance through a season and we cannot expect it to begin now. Even Wilson is becoming droppable in 10-team leagues, as the sacks are turning into turnovers instead of rushing TDs.
Marshawn Lynch (27/122/1) looks as healthy as he can be. He is back to being the bellcow we can expect rest of season. Thomas Rawls only played 11 snaps in a game where Seattle controlled from start to finish. Lynch is a stud again--easily top-10, maybe top-8. The only concern is his average schedule which becomes a tough playoff schedule and Seattle's ineptitude to block and tackle which keeps popping up this year, but Lynch has a long history of being matchup-indifferent.
Sell high on Danny Amendola
You won't get a top-20 RB or WR for Danny Amendola (8/86/1), but he can be packaged to sweeten a deal for one. Amendola largely benefitted from Julian Edelman (5/54/0) being blanketed by Darrelle Revis and Brandon Lafell limited to 72% of the snaps, despite the Patriots only calling five runs to the backfield all game against a staunch Jets run D. Amendola should be stashed if he is available, but take advantage of what could be his peak value after two straight great weeks.
Jordan Reed is the only Washington player we can start
When Jordan Reed (11/72/2) is healthy, he is a top-5 volume TE with endzone potential. He is the only one who can shine in this offense. Alfred Morris (6/5/0) is probably in the doghouse for good and should not be on any roster except as a 14-team league handcuff, so Matt Jones (9/29/0) should be owned in all leagues, but don't put too much trust in his three catches. Chris Thompson missed Week 7 due to injury and should return to his role as the passing downs back.
Julio Jones is Julio Jones again
Julio Jones (9/92/1) is healthy and got 17 of Matt Ryan's passes thrown to him in Week 7. He is the #2 WR in fantasy, rest of season. No more worries.
Is Amari Cooper matchup-proof?
Amari Cooper (5/133/1) put on an athletic display over a Chargers defense which was shutting down #1 WRs to this point. A lot of credit should go to Derek Carr, who is forcing Cooper the ball. A QB who trusts a WRs talent over matchups and situations keeps talent like this in the top-15.
Buy low on Jets
Chris Ivory (17/41/0; 2/12/1 in the pass game) and Brandon Marshall (4/67/0) had down weeks because the Patriots are really smart. They are still the focal points of a strong offense and should be treated as top-8 at their positions, rest of season.
Calvin Johnson is a low-volume WR1
Calvin Johnson (5/86/1) has had five catches in ever game but Week 1 and has scored in two straight weeks. The run game is still putrid, so we should expect his volume to go up. The Vikings are among the slowest teams in the NFL, so his volume should rise with the pace of other opponents to top-5 value.
Why Cam Newton is a top-3 QB
Cam Newton can throw for less than 200 yards with three INTs and still crack 15 fantasy points. You cannot find that in any other QB. Aaron Rodgers with ten games remaining will slip ahead of Newton in the rankings, but Cam is still QB3 with this safety.
The Panthers offense is silly. There is no explanation for any of it, but this keeps Cam's floor above everyone but Rodgers and Tom Brady from week to week.
Odell Beckham, Jr. (4/35/0) is not in a sophomore slump. He only had six targets and Eli Manning has been bad. It could be that his hamstring is slowing him down for now. His schedule is great and is now a fantastic buy low candidate with an awesome schedule ahead, but not sure I want any other Giants on my rosters, other than Shane Vereen as an RB4 in PPR.
The case for Manning as a QB1 is legit because of this schedule and the fact that the Giants cannot run, but he is a high-end streamer against the Saints in Week 8 behind Andy Dalton at Steelers and Philip Rivers at Ravens. Jay Cutler vs. Vikings, Brian Hoyer vs. Titans, and Matthew Stafford at Chiefs are really close, though.
The Bills are hard to trust without Tyrod Taylor. I prefer to throw London games away. Great to see LeSean McCoy (18/68/0) get 100 total yards in 20 touches, though. Robert Woods (9/84/1) was simply an LOLJAGUARS thing with Sammy Watkins and Percy Harvin inactive.
Jordan Matthews is clearly in a sophomore slump. Despite seven targets, he had another dud (3/14/0) and it isn't all Sam Bradford's fault. Balls are just bouncing off of his hands. Trading him for Rishard Matthews and a handcuff is not a terrible idea, if only for trustworthiness. Since Jordan's 16/182/1 over the first two weeks, he has neither cracked 60 yards nor scored a TD. This is contributing largely to Demarco Murray (18/65/0) retaining value, who had 20 touches against a good run D.
The Raiders are not a good pass defense and San Diego is bad, but we can at least continue to trust Keenan Allen (9/89/0) for double digit targets and whomever is the starting TE to get catches and TDs. Melvin Gordon is entering the doghouse as he only had seven of the game's 21 for the team. Danny Woodhead (11/75/2 in the pass game) is back to being a PPR beast with Gordon phased out and their defense forcing them to abandon the run.
The two are so bad at defense. Brandon Cooks (6/81/0) got his 13 targets to give us faith again, but couldn't do much to make him more than a WR3 in PPR and still unstartable in standard leagues. T.Y. Hilton (4/150/2) had a ridiculous fantasy day, but only had four catches in 15 targets. Just too much weirdness.
The only takeaway is the continued weight on Mark Ingram (14/143/1), who is still among the most trusted RBs in the league. And that, with his play, continues to make him a hot asset as a top-10 RB1.
Pick up Ahmad Bradshaw
Frank Gore (9/43/0; 5/32/0 in the pass game) had an awesome matchup and played better than his stat line, but is being limited by his team's ineptitude. He and Ahmad Bradshaw split the snaps 31:29, as Bradshaw is more trusted as a blocker. A return to Bradshaw as a PPR-relevant may be on the horizon. Chuck Pagano has his back against the wall and more plays to Bradshaw may become a change for the sake of change.
Troll the Vikings and Lions when streaming TEs
Eric Ebron (5/89/1) scored another TD and that was totally foreseeable from how the Lions attacked the Vikings in Week 2. Ebron is a talent, but is hard to trust. What we can trust every week is a strong TE performance against Minnesota. The Vikings came into the week giving up over 60 yards per game to TEs. Kyle Rudolph (2/10/1) had a bad game, but it was the fifth TD Detroit has given up to a TE.
Stats via Pro-Football-Reference.com.