Fantasy Football Predictions
Following a one-week hiatus due to Fall Break at my daughters’ school, Bold Predictions is back for Week 7 of the fantasy football season. It’s the first week of the four-team bye portion of the NFL schedule, with a number of fantasy assets taking the week off in Green Bay, Pittsburgh, and Seattle. The Raiders are also a bye this week but let’s be honest, there aren’t a lot of fantasy implications there. Regardless, bye weeks can have a major impact on fantasy lineups and make the identification of valuable replacement players all the more important.
With that in mind, the below projections are meant to highlight sleepers and lesser-owned players who could put you over the top in season-long and DFS contests, or guide you toward fading a popular fantasy option who is poised to disappoint. Questions about our bold predictions or your own weekly lineups are encouraged and appreciated via the comments section or on Twitter.
1. Tarik Cohen is an RB2 this week
Don’t look now, but Chicago has one of the league’s hottest offenses over the last three weeks. In that time, the Bears rank second in points per game at 38.0 and are third in total yards per contest at 475. It’s a small sample size and favorable matchups have certainly helped, but my biggest takeaway is the ability of rookie head coach Matt Nagy to take advantage of good situations on the offensive side of the ball. Cohen has been a big part of the offensive surge with an average of 147.5 total yards from scrimmage and a touchdown in each of Chicago’s last two games, and his 32 touches over that period demonstrate that the Bears are making a point of getting the ball in his hands. He should keep the momentum rolling this week in what is likely to be another high-scoring affair with New England. The Patriots have been gashed by pass-catching running backs this season, including Kareem Hunt and Nyheim Hines in recent weeks, with New England giving up the fifth-most receiving yards to the position in 2018.
2. Jermaine Kearse will be a WR3 in PPR leagues
A Jets receiving corp that was hardly rich with talent to start with is getting remarkably thin following a high ankle sprain for Quincy Enunwa in Week 6 and a groin injury to Terrelle Pryor. Enunwa has already been ruled out for this weekend and Pryor is trending in the same direction after missing practice during the week and garnering a doubtful tag. All of which leaves Kearse in a position to dominate targets from Sam Darnold in Week 7. After Enunwa left the game during the first half last Sunday, Kearse went on to have a nine-catch, 94-yard receiving day on a team-high 10 targets. Robby Anderson will continue to be the deep threat for New York, but Kearse should see the most volume and is a good bet to lead the team in receptions. After being among the league’s best in limiting receiving yards in 2017, Minnesota is allowing the eighth-most per game this season.
3. Greg Olsen will be a fantasy bust
A lot of fantasy owners were excited to see Olsen back on the field last Sunday for the first time since a Week 1 foot injury, but the former All-Pro tight end continued a multi-year run of lackluster production. In his last 10 regular season games dating back to the final week of the 2016 season, Olsen has averaged just 2.6 receptions for 29.4 yards and he’s scored only one touchdown over that stretch. While he continues to be among Cam Newton’s top targets when on the field, foot injuries have sapped Olsen’s productivity and left him a shell of the player he once was. Philadelphia has been a bottom-10 defense in terms of stopping the pass this season but the Eagles have actually fared well against opposing tight ends, allowing the fewest receptions (just 19 in six games) and fourth-lowest fantasy points per game to the position.
4. C.J. Uzomah is a TE1 this week
On the flip-side of the tight end coin, Uzomah has the position all to himself in Cincinnati with Tyler Eifert on IR and Tyler Kroft out with a foot injury. Through the first six games of 2018, the position has accounted for an 18.6% target share in the Bengals passing game and Uzomah saw seven targets last week, trailing only A.J. Green and Tyler Boyd. He turned that opportunity into six receptions and 54 yards, and the third receiving option in what has been one of the league’s highest-scoring offenses this season is going to have potential fantasy value. That is all the more true this week with a favorable matchup against a porous Chiefs defense that gives up the most total yards per game in the NFL, including the most receiving yards to opposing tight ends. In a game with the highest over/under of the week at 58.5 points, Uzomah presents a great opportunity to get exposure to what is likely to be a plethora of fantasy goodness.
5. Baker Mayfield will be a QB1
In three starts since taking over for Tyrod Taylor, Mayfield has one two-touchdown game, one 300-yard passing effort, and one dud performance. The poor outing came last week against the Chargers and may have left a bad taste in the mouths of fantasy owners, but Mayfield has generally looked pretty good in his rookie season and draws the ultimate get-right opponent in Week 7. The Buccaneers are giving up the most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this season, including a league-high 16 passing touchdowns in five games. Mayfield has the fourth-most pass attempts in the NFL over the last three weeks and that volume should serve him well against a Tampa Bay defense that has yet to hold an opposing quarterback under 330 yards passing in any game this season. With an ideal matchup, Mayfield has a shot at 300+ yards and multiple touchdowns.
6. Taylor Gabriel is a WR2 this week
On the heels of back-to-back 100-yard games, Gabriel currently leads Chicago in receptions and receiving yards on the season, and his 22 targets over the Bears last three games also leads the team. The aforementioned surge in offensive production from Mitch Trubisky and company in recent weeks has elevated Gabriel’s production to near-WR1 levels, and he should see continued success in Week 7 against New England. The Patriots allow the thirteenth-most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers on the year and have demonstrated the greatest weakness in slowing down the opponent’s deep threat, as illustrated by Tyreek Hill’s 142-yard, three-score performance last week. Gabriel may not be on the same level as Hill in terms of speed and athleticism (few are), but Chicago will likely be airing it out in an attempt to keep pace with Tom Brady and the Patriots offense and Gabriel is poised to capitalize on that game script.
7. Marlon Mack will be an RB2
Mack has been dogged by a hamstring injury throughout 2018, but finally was able to practice without limitation ahead of Week 6. The result was a 12-carry, 89-yard performance in which Mack received more than double the touches of any other Colts running back. He is clearly the preferred option for early-down work in an Indianapolis offense that has bounced back this season despite a myriad of injuries to skill-position players, and Mack draws a favorable matchup this week against a Bills defense that is allowing the thirteenth-most fantasy points to opposing rushers. The Colts lead the league in pass attempts and are in the bottom-five in carries, but are favored this week at home in a game with one of the lowest projected point totals of the Week 7 slate. Look for Indianapolis to give Andrew Luck’s surgically-repaired shoulder a bit of a rest in this one, relying on its defense versus a very poor, Derek Anderson-led Bills offense and leaning heavily on Mack in the running game.
8. Deshaun Watson belongs on fantasy benches this week
Despite playing behind an atrocious offensive line, Watson has generally lived up to his fantasy QB1 billing this season in a return from last year’s ACL tear. But there have been some bad performances along the way, including a 177-yard, one-touchdown outing last week with two interceptions and just two yards rushing from the typically-mobile Watson. In Week 7, he draws a matchup with a Jaguars defense that is down in terms of its lofty standards set in recent years but remains one of the league’s best. Even after conceding a big day to Dak Prescott last week, Jacksonville is still giving up the third-fewest fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks on the year, including a league-low 187.8 passing yards per game allowed. Perhaps most daunting for Watson this week is the Jaguars 8.7% adjusted sack rate, fourth-best in the NFL, while Houston has allowed a league-worst 65 quarterback hits through the first six games of the season, more than 23% higher than any other team. This is a week to put Watson on your fantasy bench and look to more favorable matchups down the road.
Thanks for reading