Week 6 was not fun. Scoring was down across the NFL. Accordingly, fantasy football scoring was down as well. But that was just the beginning. Injuries continued to come fast and furious, impacting a lot of high-level stars. Christian McCaffrey, David Montgomery, Justin Fields and Kyren Williams all suffered some sort of physical issue during their games last week. And that’s still just the start of our troubles.
To make matters much worse in Week 7, six teams are on a bye. That includes multiple offenses with key fantasy pieces like the Bengals and the Cowboys. Times are going to be tough in these fantasy streets. You probably take little solace in the idea that plenty of your league mates will be struggling to fill their lineups along with you. But if that helps you sleep better a night … do what you must.
- NFL Fantasy 2023 Start 'Em, Sit 'Em: Quarterbacks for Week 7
- NFL Fantasy 2023 Start 'Em, Sit 'Em: Running backs for Week 7
- NFL Fantasy 2023 Start 'Em, Sit 'Em: Wide receivers for Week 7
- NFL Fantasy 2023 Start 'Em, Sit 'Em: Tight ends for Week 7
- NFL Fantasy 2023 Start 'Em, Sit 'Em: Defenses for Week 7
- NFL Fantasy 2023 Start 'Em, Sit 'Em: Kickers for Week 7
In the meantime, the sleepers list is back again to help right the wrongs that the game of football naturally delivers. Or at the very least, help you fill some empty roster sports. Here are some names.
Sam Howell is currently the QB13. Read that again. Sam Howell, the starting quarterback of the Washington Commanders, is the 13th-highest scoring quarterback in fantasy football. This isn’t to suggest that he’s elite. But it does point out that he’s exceeding the expectations most fantasy managers had for him entering the season. Oddly, there’s not much rhyme or reason to how it’s happened, since every Howell game has been a little different.
This week, he faces a Giants defense that has improved recently (ask anyone who started Bills players last week) but is still one of the NFL’s worst-ranked defenses. The unit has allowed multiple TD passes in three of six games. Howell is going to take sacks — the Commanders have surrendered more than any other team — but he’s proved to be resourceful with both his arm and his legs. That’s enough to make him worthy of a stream or a two-QB start.
Daniel Jones was sidelined for the Giants’ Week 6 game with a neck injury. He hopes to be ready to go for this week’s game against the Commanders, but he has yet to be cleared for contact. It’s been an awful season for Jones, and backup Tyrod Taylor was able to move the offense in his absence. Nonetheless, Mr. Dimes should be reinstalled as the starter when he’s healthy enough to be on the field. If he plays, this will be the best matchup he’s had since Week 2.
In Week 2 against the Cardinals, Jones posted more than 30 fantasy points. He has 24.32 points in his other four games combined. Now he’ll face one of the NFL’s worst defenses in the Commanders, who just allowed 307 yards and two touchdowns to Desmond Ridder. (In fairness, Washington also had three picks.) New York might not have the same caliber of pass catchers the Falcons do, but Jones is also more of a runner than Ridder. On balance, Jones is set up for one of his better fantasy weeks. He should be considered a high-end QB2 this week if he’s eligible to play.
Jordan Love was putting up quality fantasy numbers early in the season, even if we weren’t totally sure how he was doing it. His recent performances have been less exciting. The Packers quarterback has tossed five interceptions in his last two games. In Week 5, he scored fewer than five fantasy points in the loss to the Raiders. However, there are two reasons to be optimistic. The first is that Green Bay is coming off a bye.
The second is … well, the Broncos. Denver’s defense put up more of a fight last week in a divisional bout with the Chiefs. That doesn’t mean we suddenly fear them. This still looks like the worst unit in the NFL. Until the Broncos prove for a few weeks in a row that they can stand up to opposing offenses, we’re starting our players against them. In a week with so many quarterbacks missing, Love has the potential to be a low-end QB1.
In Week 6, we saw all three Broncos running backs in the lineup at the same time. One thing was clear: Jaleel McLaughlin isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. The undrafted rookie had well-rounded utilization, leading the backfield in snaps, finishing just behind Javonte Williams in carries and even with Samaje Perine in targets. He’s looked explosive every time he’s had the ball and could be forcing a changing of the guard sooner than later.
Now he takes on a Green Bay run defense allowing more than 140 rushing yards per game. Make no mistake, this is very much a split backfield. The upside for McLaughlin is that he appears to be getting the most work of anyone in the group. He’s also getting a good look at the short-yardage opportunities as well as some chances inside the 5-yard line. Game script shouldn’t be a major issue, so McLaughlin should be in play as a flex option.
Roschon Johnson missed last week’s game against the Vikings while in concussion protocol. That was unfortunate because it was a good matchup, one that D’Onta Foreman exploited for 65 yards. As of this writing, Johnson is still in the protocol. Hopefully, he’ll be able to go Sunday because there’s another plus matchup waiting in Week 7.
The Raiders have been the cure to what ails struggling running backs. Two weeks ago, they allowed 76 yards and a touchdown to the uber-inefficient AJ Dillon. Last week, they surrendered 80 scrimmage yards and a rushing score to the scuffling Rhamondre Stevenson. With Justin Fields missing time with an injured thumb, the Bears will have to lean more heavily on their running backs. That gives Johnson low-RB2 upside. For folks in deeper leagues, it also puts Foreman back into play as a possible flex option.
Michael Wilson’s production has been inconsistent this year, to say the least. That’s not surprising. He’s a third-round rookie playing with a journeyman quarterback on a team expected to be in the running for the No. 1 overall pick. It was always going to be a roller coaster. But there are plenty of encouraging signs. He’s playing nearly a full complement of offensive snaps. He’s heavily involved in route participation. And Josh Dobbs talked about the importance of getting Wilson involved in the offense. In Week 7, Wilson and the Cardinals take on a Seahawks secondary that has been leaky against wide receivers. Four wideouts have gone over 100 yards against Seattle. Six have posted at least 80 yards. In what could be a pass-happy contest, Wilson should be a flex option for managers in deeper leagues.
DEEP SLEEPER …
I will admit to a small bit of perverse joy in trying to figure out which Chiefs receiver is going to show up in any given week. That game might get less challenging if Rashee Rice continues to assert himself as Patrick Mahomes’ second option after Travis Kelce. But for as long as that title is still up for grabs, we’ll continue to spin the roulette wheel.
Who better to lean on than Kansas City’s bona fide deep threat going against a lackluster Chargers secondary? Last week, the Bolts were humbled by a Cowboys passing game that had previously been unable to get going this season. CeeDee Lamb had his best game since Week 2. Brandin Cooks had his best game all season. Justin Watson isn’t close to being the top target in the Chiefs’ passing game. But he’s the deep threat who can put up decent numbers with just a couple of catches. He’s a risk-reward play but should get some flex looks in deep leagues if his recent elbow injury doesn’t keep him sidelined.
It feels like Luke Musgrave has been on the verge of a true breakout for weeks. After a 10-point outing in Week 3, he suffered a concussion in Week 4 but rebounded in Week 5 with a decent game. Now he’s back after the bye with another opportunity to launch himself into the next tier of fantasy tight ends.
I’m not sure if you’ve heard, but the Broncos’ defense is bad. Even if you take out the 70-point embarrassment against the Dolphins, things have been bleak for Denver. It is currently the most forgiving team against fantasy tight ends, allowing nearly 16.5 points per game to the position. With Musgrave’s 15 percent target share (17 percent if you omit the game he left early), he should see plenty of looks. The rookie has low-end TE1 potential this week.
DEEP SLEEPERS …
I’m going to level with you. I nearly put Taysom Hill in this space. Last week, Hill was tied for the team lead in receptions and has a surprisingly high targets per route run percentage on the year. The issue is that while he gets offensive snaps every week, his actual usage is too sporadic to count on — even for a sleepers column. So, the prudent thing is to pivot to a true tight end in Foster Moreau.
Moreau isn’t running a ton of routes. He had a season-high 14 in last week’s game against the Texans and had four targets on those routes — a 29 percent rate. He might not be on the field a ton, but he’s getting targeted when he is. Now he gets to face a Jaguars defense allowing the seventh-most fantasy points per game to tight ends. Moreau is a low-TE2 with upside if he can find the end zone.
Last week, I had Cade Otton in this space for his matchup against the Lions. He finished with one catch for 15 yards on two targets. Not great, Bob. Admittedly, it was an awful day for Baker Mayfield, and his pass catchers all struggled as a result. Those are the things that happen on occasion. Fantasy football is a little bit science and a little bit art. And sometimes art is messy.
But we’ll try to apply science (or something akin to it) again in Week 7. For all their improvement on defense, the Falcons have still been leaky against tight ends. Four players at the position have tallied double-digit fantasy points against Atlanta in the first six weeks. That might be a tall task for Otton, considering his usage in the Bucs’ offense. But all it takes is an end zone target to get within the ranks of the weekly TE1. Otton is a TE2 this week who can be streamed if you’re in need.
Here’s the thing about the Giants’ offense … it’s bad. Big Blue looked a little better last week with Tyrod Taylor at the helm, but 1) they scored just nine points in a loss, and 2) it looks like a limited-time engagement if Daniel Jones returns this week.
Regardless of who’s in at quarterback, the Giants have been anemic on offense. They’ve scored a league-low 71 points with just five offensive touchdowns. New York has also surrendered the second-most sacks while turning the ball over eight times this season. Washington’s defense has been on the struggle bus recently, so this could be an interesting experiment — the stoppable force against the movable object. Let’s see who wins.
I have Sam Howell, Daniel Jones and the Commanders’ defense as sleepers this week. Now I’m including the Giants D/ST?! Yeah, I’m expecting nuttiness from this one. I mentioned above that the Commanders have given up the most sacks in the NFL. Howell has continually been fleeing the opposition when he drops back to pass. Washington isn’t going to magically fix that in a week.
Combine that with a Giants defense that has turned into a takeaway machine lately. After not forcing a turnover in the first four weeks of the season, Big Blue has forced five turnovers in the past two weeks. That adds up to the potential for a nice streaming game — if you choose to live your fantasy football life that way.
Marcas Grant is a fantasy analyst for NFL.com and a manwho thinks he might be going overboard on eating yogurt. Send him your fanatical diet ideas or fantasy football questions on Twitter @MarcasG or TikTok at marcasgrant.
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