Fantasy Football Believe It or Not: Can Falcons thrive without Matt Ryan? Plus, new No. 1 WR around the league
Heath Cummings breaks down Week 7's biggest news and helps you process it, beginning with Matt Ryan's ankle injury and the potential emergence of some new top options.
Every week I start this off by talking about the crazy things that happened on Sunday. There's not enough room in the lede for all the crazy stuff from Week 7. So I'm going to leave Chase Edmonds and Latavius Murray out of this week's Believe It or Not. What they did was wild, but we all know what happens once David Johnson and Alvin Kamara are healthy.
What we don't know is whether Kenny Golladay or D.J. Chark are going to reclaim the No. 1 role in their respective offenses. We also don't know know what the Falcons looks like without Matt Ryan. And I'm starting to wonder if we know what to do with Mark Ingram.
Let's break it down in this weeks Believe It or Not.
The Falcons are sunk without Matt Ryan.
Ryan left Sunday's game with an ankle injury and was seen leaving the stadium in a walking boot. At this point the rational assumption is that he'll miss at least one week. The second rational assumption you should make is that the Falcons' Fantasy value is shot until Ryan returns.
Matt Schaub threw 100 passes from 2014 through 2018. His last season as a a starting quarterback he threw more interceptions than touchdown passes. This is awful news for Julio Jones, Austin Hooper, and Calvin Ridley. It may be even worse for Devonta Freeman, who was already struggling to find room to run.
You should do your best to avoid starting Falcons until Ryan returns.
Verdict: Don't believe it.
Don't get me wrong, this might not be pretty. But there's absolutely no way you're doing anything besides starting Jones and Hooper at the very least. Hooper actually scored his touchdown on a pass from Schaub, and Jones is an elite receiver who is likely to be peppered with targets. At the very least he should enjoy success in garbage time.
I'd be very worried about Freeman for sure. This offense could struggle to score points and they couldn't open up holes even with the threat of the deep ball. Ridley looks even more like a boom-or-bust due to his limited targets, and Mohamed Sanu might even be droppable.
Just don't overreact to this. Jones and Hooper are must-start no matter who is under center. Besides, we don't know for sure that Ryan is going to miss Week 8.
Jones exploded on Sunday for four touchdowns and actually dropped a fifth. It was a dominant performance that elicited memories of his top-five season in 2017. A top-five season is something (along with a four-touchdown day) Kenny Golladay has never produced. Jones now has more catches, yards and touchdowns than Golladay on the season and looks a lot like the team's No. 1 receiver.
Verdict: Don't believe it.
Jones did an outstanding job taking advantage of the coverage being rolled towards Golladay. But this was only the second time all season Jones has out-targeted Golladay, and he had one touchdown coming into Week 7. Golladay is the No. 1 receiver on the Lions and he'll only be helped by Jones' Week 7 performance. I still like Golladay as a No. 2 receiver with upside each week, and Jones will remain a boom-or-bust flex.
Westbrook didn't catch four touchdowns like Jones. In fact, he dropped another one. But that doesn't change the fact that he led the Jaguars in targets once again. D.J. Chark has now been below 60 yards in three of his past four games while Westbrook is moving the other direction. We thought Westbrook would be the best Jaguars receive before the season and that looks correct now.
Verdict: Believe it.
This probably seems strange because Chark has still vastly outperformed Westbrook, but that's largely on the back of two enormous weeks. Westbrook now holds a six-target lead over Chark and has at least eight targets in four of his past five games. Maybe most importantly, Nick Foles is supposed to start practicing this week.
I don't know for sure that Foles will get his starting job back when he's ready, but he definitely fits better stylistically with Westbrook than he does Chark.
Over the rest of the season I'd expect Chark will have more monster games but Westbrook will be the target leader and the more consistent starter in PPR.
Aaron Rodgers is back as a top-three quarterback.
It seems like Rodgers may have seen out Fantasy rankings the past couple of weeks and didn't like them. After a slow start to the season he exploded in Week 7 for 429 passing yards and five touchdowns. He even ran for another. That performance was enough to vault him up to seventh for the season at quarterback and two of the guys ahead of him (Ryan and Patrick Mahomes) are injured.
You should view him as one of the elite options moving forward.
Verdict: Don't believe it.
Not yet, at least.
For one, it was the Raiders. For two it was at Lambeau.
The Raiders had already allowed monster days to Patrick Mahomes and Jacoby Brissett this season, so lighting them up shouldn't change too many minds. And Rodgers still has just one touchdown pass in two road games. If Rodgers lights up a bad Chiefs secondary at Arrowhead in Week 8, I'll start taking this threat more seriously.
But the biggest problem with Rodgers' return to the throne may just be the guys currently sitting in it. I don't know what he could do to make me prefer him to Russell Wilson, Lamar Jackson, Deshaun Watson or Dak Prescott at this point. This is especially true when you remember Rodgers faces the Bears and Vikings in Week 15 and 16. I'd be awfully tempted to try to sell.
Mark Ingram is a touchdown-dependent flex in PPR.
After the first three weeks of the season Mark Ingram looked like a top-10 running back. He had 257 rushing yards and five touchdowns. He'd even caught four passes in his most recent game against the Chiefs. We probably should have paid closer attention to the fact he'd faced the Dolphins, Cardinals and Chiefs.
Since that Week 3 game Ingram has yet to top 75 total yards in a game. He's only been good in Fantasy when he's scored. And we have very little reason to believe that's going to change.
Verdict: Believe it.
To be a must-start running back I want either huge volume in the running game or heavy involvement in the passing game. I'm not sure Ingram will have either moving forward. He only has two games this season with more than 14 carries and that game against the Chiefs was his only game with more than three targets. In four of his seven games he has fewer than 10 receiving yards.
If you can't count on anything in the passing game it's going to be hard to count on Ingram as more than a flex in PPR.
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