Start ‘Em Sit ‘Em Week 7
Start ‘Em Sit ‘Em Week 7
The Byepocalypse is among us. What’s worse is that week 6 was absolutely brutal on the injury front. In one week, we lost Christian McCaffrey, Deebo Samuel, Justin Fields, David Montgomery, and Trevor Lawrence to injuries. Some managers are now panicking, unsure of what to do in week 7, a week that was already going to prove difficult, with six teams on bye, and now, for some, feels impossible. There’s no sugarcoating it. If you have been impacted by these injuries and have players on bye, week 7 is going to be tough. Still, there are some players that, whether on your bench or the waiver wire, could provide enough upside to give you some hope. They may not be as good as the players you’ve lost, but they’re worth giving a chance.
Week 7 Starts
Start Stat Percentage, via Sleeper
Jordan Love (QB)
Green Bay Packers vs. DEN (3% Start)
Admittedly, this one is a bit of a stretch. Over the last couple of weeks, teams have begun to expose the weaknesses in Jordan Love’s game. In week 5 (before the Packers went on bye) Love performed poorly in what should’ve been a plus matchup, completing 16 of 30 passes for 182 yards, no touchdowns, and three interceptions. He did add 37 yards on the ground but still only managed 4.98 fantasy points in the contest. Throwing Love into your lineup comes with a certain amount of risk but, in week 7, it could be worth it, as this matchup might be the best Love sees all year. The Broncos are bottom three against the pass, so if Love doesn’t produce this week, we will have confirmation that his early season success was a mirage, and Love will find himself on every weekly hate list. But, if you’re one of those managers scrounging for a streaming option in week 7, there are worse places you could look.
Sam Howell (QB)
Washington Commanders vs. NYG (17% Start)
I am fully aware that both of my quarterback suggestions could look foolish a week from now, but except for one very bad week, Howell has managed to produce in 2023. In four of six games this season, Howell has scored 20+ fantasy points, and is attempting over 35 passes a game, averaging 250 yards and 1.5 touchdowns. Howell has thrown six interceptions, but four came in one game. Howell has also been the most consistent fantasy producer on the Commanders due to a desire to spread the ball around. It’s impossible to know in any given week which pass catcher will be the leading receiver on the team, but none of that matters for Howell because he continues to rack up points no matter who catches his passes. The Giants did hold the elite talent of Josh Allen to under 20 fantasy points, but I’m still not convinced their defense is that good. They are still middle of the pack against quarterbacks and, in a game that could stay close, we should see another 30+ pass attempts, making Howell a viable streamer that screams upside. He may not win you the week, but he also shouldn’t lose it for you.
Brian Robinson (RB)
Washington Commanders vs. NYG (52% Start)
Robinson has had a bit of an up-and-down season but there have been more highs than lows and, minus an outing against the Bears that surprisingly saw Chicago get off to an early lead, Robinson has taken advantage of favorable matchups. Even in contests against tough run defenses like Atlanta and Philadelphia, Robinson saved his fantasy day by finding the end zone, something he has done five times this year. In four of six contests, Robinson has been a top-15 fantasy running back. He hasn’t always been the most efficient runner, averaging less than four yards per carry four times, but in games that have remained competitive, the volume has mostly been there for him. That should continue to be the case in week 7 against a Giants team that will once again be led by journeyman quarterback Tyrod Taylor. The Giants are also the second most generous defense to opposing running backs, allowing over 147 yards and 23 fantasy points per game to the position in half-PPR formats. Robinson is still the lead back for the Commanders, with teammate Antonio Gibson finding it hard to get on the field in close games. Count on Robinson to finish in the neighborhood of a mid-range RB2.
Denver Broncos vs. GB (39% Start)
The Denver Broncos are 1-5 on the season, having looked completely lost at times on both sides of the ball. Starting anyone on this offense in fantasy takes a leap of faith that most of us can’t stomach, but in week 7, if you can find the courage, getting Williams into your lineup could lead to some solid production. It is an understatement to say that Williams hasn’t been what managers were hoping when they drafted him, but as someone coming back from a major injury, taking time to get up to speed should’ve been expected. Through six games, Williams has failed to to produce a double-digit outing and, through the first four weeks, it looked like the writing was on the wall for rookie Jaleel McLaughlin to surpass him as the lead back. After week 6, I’m not sure that is the case. McLaughlin will still see work, and it could develop into a two-headed committee, which would be bad for the fantasy value of both running backs, but against a stout Chiefs run defense, Williams managed over five yards per carry and looked more explosive and elusive than he has all season. Williams has yet to make his way into the end zone, but that could all change in week 7 when he faces a Packers run defense that is bottom five. If the Packers manage to get ahead early by two scores or more, Williams could be game-scripted out of this one, but I don’t see that happening. Williams is a solid RB2 this week.
Marquise Brown (WR)
Arizona Cardinals vs. SEA (63% Start)
Through the first six weeks of the season, Marquise Brown has managed 13 or more half-PPR points four times, all while catching passes from quarterback Joshua Dobbs who, to be fair to Dobbs, has been better than expected but is far from an elite-level talent. Brown has also seen 10+ targets in four of six contests and has three touchdowns on the season. He is the clear #1 wide receiver on this team and, with no James Conner for at least three more weeks, is easily the most talented offensive weapon. Brown’s ceiling will be capped as long as Dobbs is his quarterback, but he may also have one of the safest floors at the position, making him a good weekly mid-range WR2. He now gets to go up against a Seahawks defense that is bottom three against receivers, allowing 28 fantasy points per game to the position. The Cardinals’ defense has looked good enough this season, and Geno Smith has looked mediocre enough, to have confidence in this being a close contest and with Dobbs attempting fewer than 30+ passes just once in 2023, there should be plenty of volume for Brown. Another 13-16 fantasy points this week is likely, making him someone who should be in more than 63% of lineups.
Rashee Rice (WR)
Kansas City Chiefs vs. LAC (19% Start)
I understand the logic behind Rice’s starting percentage. It has been impossible to know which pass catcher on this team, other than star tight end Travis Kelce, will produce. If the Chiefs are smart though, they will begin to get Rice more involved in this offense. Rice has looked like the cream of the crop of this receiving core for a few weeks now on limited usage. The Chiefs offense has underwhelmed through six weeks, so getting their young, rookie wide receiver more snaps might be just the spark this offense needs to begin looking like one of the best offenses in the league. If there were ever a week to find out if Rice can handle a larger piece of the pie, it would be week 7 when they face a Chargers defense that allows the most fantasy points (32 per game) to opposing wide receivers. For Rice to get more snaps, it will have to come at the expense of other wide receivers, but with Kadarius Toney, Sky Moore, and Marquez Valdes-Scantling as the other options, it should be an easy move to make. Much like the Broncos’ Marvin Mims, Rashee Rice has done nothing but impress when given the chance. Putting him in your lineup requires some faith that the Chiefs have noticed what we all have and will decide to give Rice more work. That may not happen, but it should, and on a week without Ja’Marr Chase, CeeDee Lamb, and Adam Thielen, I’d be willing to take the chance.
Luke Musgrave (TE)
Green Bay Packers vs. DEN (2% Start)
Rookie tight ends are historically hard to trust in fantasy football, and yet, I’m recommending two of them this week as potential starters. Over the last three weeks, Musgrave has seen his involvement in this offense grow, seeing at least seven targets in two of those three contests, and in week four, he left early with a concussion, so it’s hard to evaluate that week. His usage makes sense with a quarterback who is in his first full season as a starter. Musgrave has become a reliable security blanket for Jordan Love and should continue to be so. I expect the Packers to try to get wide receivers Romeo Doubs and Christian Watson more involved, but I don’t think that will hamper Musgrave. The Broncos are dead last against tight ends, allowing over 10 fantasy points per game to the position. Musgrave was a talented prospect coming out of college and should continue to develop. He’s in a great spot in week 7, against a vulnerable defense. There aren’t a lot of tight ends on bye in week 7 who were drafted as starters, but if you have been starting Jake Ferguson or Dalton Schultz the last few weeks trying to capitalize on some touchdown upside, Musgrave could be a great fill-in this week.
Michael Mayer (TE)
Las Vegas Raiders vs. CHI (2% Start)
Mayer is owned in only 12% of leagues, but that should change after waivers go through this week as many owners continue to try to find a consistent solution at the position. In week 6, Mayer saw his highest snap percentage of the season, the most targets he’s seen, and saw his production spike as a result. Mayer’s six catches for 75 yards were good enough for 10 half-PPR points and a top-5 tight end finish. Prior to week 6, Mayer had not seen more than three targets in any game, but there were reports that the Raiders were planning to get him more involved. That became a reality in week 6 and should continue in week 7 against a flailing Bears team that is middle of the pack against tight ends. With Justin Fields likely missing this game, the Bears’ offense could produce a lot of three-and-outs, which means more offensive possessions for the Raiders and more opportunities for Mayer. It does need to be said that starting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo also sustained an injury in week 6 and could miss week 7, which means Mayer would be catching passes from either Brian Hoyer or rookie Aiden O’Connell. He should still see plenty of usage, though, and has as good of a chance as anyone this week to find the end zone. As a bye week replacement, Mayer is a solid option.
Week 7 Sits
Russell Wilson (QB)
Denver Broncos vs. GB (21% Start)
The truth is there are not many top options that I would steer clear of this week at the quarterback position so finding an option to recommend sitting that the majority wasn’t already sitting has proven difficult. Still, Wilson is the closest thing to it, so I’ll go with him. Wilson is being started in over a fifth of fantasy leagues, but unless you are desperate at the position because you lost Fields or Lawrence due to injury or Burrow or Stroud because they’re on bye, I’d stay away from Wilson this week. Wilson is currently the QB10 on the season, but it has been ugly to watch him get to that point. Yet, he has scored at least 16 points in every game but one this season, surpassing 20 points three times and 30 points once (although those 30 points relied heavily on a broken coverage for a 60-yard touchdown pass to Marvin Mims and a flukey Hail Mary that went for 50 yards and another score.) His production has been good, but in week 6 against the Chiefs he was exposed, only managing 8.9 fantasy points. Now he gets a tough matchup against a Packers defense that is top 10 against opposing quarterbacks. Depending on your specific situation, Wilson might be the best streaming option out there, but I’d be sifting through the waiver wire before I committed to Wilson in week 7.
Zack Moss (RB)
Indianapolis Colts vs. CLE (44% Start)
The Zack Moss Experiment (as we know it) may be coming to an end as early as week 7. Moss has been an absolute revelation this season, coming out of nowhere to average over 19 points per game and finishing outside the top 10 at the position just once. Moss also has five touchdowns in as many games and has been thrust into one of the bell cow roles in the NFL. Yet, it might be time to sell high on Moss. The majority of Moss’s damage has been either without Jonathan Taylor in the lineup or with Anthony Richardson (a running quarterback who opens lanes up in the run game) or both. Now Richardson is injured and contemplating season-ending surgery while, at the same time, Taylor is getting more acclimated with the offense. In week 6 Moss saw 50% of the snaps compared to 42% for Taylor. The week before Moss saw an 80% snap share, while Taylor saw just 15%. Taylor also saw the same number of touches in week 6 after being out-touched by Moss 25-7 in week 5. Things are trending in the wrong direction for Moss. Week 7 could be when we see Taylor take control of this backfield. Even if it doesn’t quite happen this week, the Browns are not an easy matchup, allowing just 79 yards per game to running backs. With Mixon, Pollard, Hall, Henry, and even Hubbard (who looked good in week 6) on bye, you may have to rely on Moss this week, but if you have any safer option on your bench, I’d roll him out.
Rachaad White (RB)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. ATL (56% Start)
To be honest, I’m surprised that White is being started in over half of fantasy leagues, but that is likely a product of the state of the position rather than any confidence in the talent of White. In five games, White has managed double-digit points in just one game. The fact that it was against the Bears should tell you all you need to know about how White’s fantasy season has gone. Other than that week 2 contest against Chicago White has failed to surpass four yards per carry in any game. The one positive for White is that for a majority of the season he has dominated touches in this backfield. In week 6, Ke’Shawn Vaughn did see nearly as many carries as White, but that is not concerning because Vaughn saw a 21% snap share compared to 79% for White. White is still the clear lead back in Tampa Bay. The issue is there isn’t much value in being the lead back in Tampa Bay. To be fair to White, he has had one of the toughest schedules of any running back. Other than the Bears, White has had to face the Vikings, Eagles, Saints, and Lions, all of whom are top 6 in fantasy points allowed to running backs. Things don’t get any easier in week 7 as he goes up against a top-3 unit in the Falcons. White’s lack of efficiency, combined with his matchup, makes him an easy fade, even in a week that sees six teams on bye.
Michael Pittman (WR)
Indianapolis Colts vs. CLE (77% Start)
In week 6 against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Pittman saw 14 targets, catching nine for 109 yards, resulting in 15.4 half-PPR points and his best output on the season since week 1, which also happened to be against the Jaguars. Still, he should find his way to your bench this week. Gardner Minshew will be starting for the foreseeable future in place of the injured Anthony Richardson. If reports are to be believed that Richardson is seriously considering season-ending surgery, Minshew could be distributing the ball for the Colts for the rest of the season. This should force a downgrade of all the Colts pass catchers. If you look at the final stat line for Pittman, you may be encouraged, but if you look deeper at Minshew’s performance, there is cause for concern. Against the Jaguars, Minshew threw a whopping 55 times but only completed 33 passes for 329 yards, one touchdown, and three interceptions. That type of performance doesn’t inspire confidence. As Jonathan Taylor becomes more involved, the Colts will rely less on Minshew’s arm, which means fewer opportunities for Pittman and the wide receivers. Pittman should remain the top option, but I’m not sure how much that matters in a matchup against a Browns team allowing the fewest points to the position. The Browns are one of the best overall defenses in the league, and they should be successful in shutting down the passing game as they have been all season, making Pittman more of a low-end flex than a solid WR2 this week.
Mike Evans/Chris Godwin (WR)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. ATL (67%/69% Start)
You may not be aware of this, but the Atlanta Falcons have been very good on defense through six weeks. They are top 10 against the run and top five against the pass in 2023, and the main reason (if not the only reason) the Falcons find themselves with a 3-3 record. Baker Mayfield, on the other hand, has been inconsistent at best, and while I believe in the talent of Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, having Mayfield under center against this defense does not make me hopeful about they’re ability to produce. The Falcons have allowed the fifth-fewest fantasy points to opposing wide receivers and, while Evans and Godwin both see a lot of targets in the Buccaneers passing game, the quality of those targets often leaves something to be desired. The Falcons don’t get a lot of sacks or force many turnovers, and yet, they have been effective in shutting down their opponents’ passing game. The Falcons are giving up just 179.2 yards per game through the air and have only allowed two quarterbacks to throw for more than one touchdown. You may not be able to sit either of these wide receivers. If that’s the case, I’m hard-pressed to say which is the better of the two. Evans has the better touchdown upside (with three touchdowns to Godwin’s zero) but Godwin has been the more efficient receiver (catching nearly 73% of his targets compared to just under 59% for Evans.) I might lean toward Godwin in this one (especially in PPR) but I’m not expecting great stat lines from either this week. Proceed with caution.
Sam LaPorta (TE)
Detroit Lions vs. BAL (71% Start)
Recommending sitting LaPorta could end up backfiring on me, but (to borrow a phrase I recently heard) Sam LaPort-a-potty had the worst game of his short career in week six, and in week 7 things do not get easier. Against the Buccaneers (a top 8 unit in fantasy points allowed to tight ends this season) LaPorta only managed to squeeze out four catches for 36 yards and no touchdowns, resulting in 5.6 half-PPR points; not what you want from a player that sees 11 targets on the day. The good news is that he did see 11 targets. The volume is there and should continue to be, but as a rookie at an unpredictable position, you will likely have to put up with some—well—unpredictability. Now he faces a Ravens defense that is among the best in the league. While they’re top-12 against the run, they are top-2 against the pass. They have been especially stingy to opposing tight ends, ranking first in the league and allowing just two fantasy points per game to the position. That’s right. Two points. Unless you waited on tight end and drafted LaPorta late, he likely isn’t who you drafted to be your starter. If that’s the case, I would try to pivot away from LaPorta, making him a clear #2 option.
A die hard Bears fan and fantasy sports fantastic, T.J. Besler earned his journalism (and theatre) degree from The University of Iowa. When he isn’t busy writing parodies for his YouTube channel Parodies for Charities he can be found either on stage performing or doing all things fantasy football related. Besler has traveled to nearly all 50 states either for work or leisure, and is grateful to everyone who has helped him along the way, especially his lovely wife Elsa, without whom much of this would not be possible. BEAR DOWN!