We made it through the bye-nado/bye-pocalypse/whatever else you wanted to call Week 7 of the Fantasy Football season. With 12 of the 13 games for the week in the books, nine of them were decided by double-digit scoring margins. 11 of 24 teams so far failed to reach 20 points in their games, and yet despite that, it ended up not being a terrible week for Fantasy.
I took an early look at the top waiver-wire options for Week 8 Sunday night, and Heath Cummings tried to separate fact from fiction about the biggest storylines coming out of Sunday's games in his Believe It or Not column here. To finish up our Week 7 recap, here are my biggest winners and losers, takeaways, and one number to know from every game Sunday.
Titans 27-Chiefs 3
- One big takeaway: Patrick Mahomes left this game after being checked for a concussion, but even after he was cleared to play, he was held out. He scored 7.7 points in this one, marking just the second time in his career he has scored in single digits in Fantasy points -- he also left the other game with an injury. This offense has just looked a little off, and while it hasn't really impacted Mahomes' Fantasy production -- at least prior to this week -- it's clear that they aren't quite clicking. You've gotta assume they'll click in Week 8 against the Giants.
- Winner: A.J. Brown. Brown's season got off to a bad start way back in training camp when he was dealing with soreness in his knees. Then he suffered a hamstring injury in Week 2 and just didn't look right for the first game and a half back. Something clicked at halftime in Week 6 and then he dominated in Week 7, catching eight of nine targets for 133 yards and a touchdown. Injuries remain a real concern for Brown -- he did have surgery on both knees this offseason, after all -- but he's healthy right now, and he's one of the best players in Fantasy.
- Loser: Darrel Williams. It's sort of unfair, because the situation was so bad for Williams this week, but if we're going to praise him for getting the kind of work Clyde Edwards-Helaire never did in Week 6, we've gotta acknowledge his disappointing showing this week. Williams still played nearly 70% of the snaps in this one -- more during the first three quarters -- so he's going to be worth starting moving forward, but his situation isn't necessarily enough to make him a top-12 RB or anything.
- Number to know: 48.2%. That was Julio Jones' snap share in the first three quarters. His production (two catches, 38 yards, four targets) was disappointing, but it's no surprise that he was worked in carefully given his hamstring issues. I still believe in his long-term potential if he can get to 100%.
Bengals 41-Ravens 17
- One big takeaway: Devonta Freeman had 12.9 PPR points in this one, but he had just 39 yards from scrimmage, and that was the best of any RB here -- Freeman, Ty'Son Williams, and Le'Veon Bell combined for 77 yards while splitting 11 carries and seven targets between them. Freeman led the group in snap rate at 39%. You can go ahead and drop any of the Ravens running backs with their bye coming up in Week 8.
- Winner: Joe Burrow. Ja'Marr Chase has received the headlines -- and we'll have more about him shortly, don't worry -- but it's worth noting that Burrow seems to have taken a step forward alongside him. He completed 23 of 38 passes for 416 yards with three touchdowns Sunday and is now up to 9.2 yards per attempt with 17 touchdowns and eight interceptions in seven games. The interception rate is a touch too high and his touchdown rate probably isn't sustainable, if you want to nitpick, but the Bengals have also trusted him to throw 38 passes in two of the past three games after limiting his exposure early on. I don't quite know if Burrow is a top-12 QB the rest of the way, but he's really close at this point.
- Loser: Tyler Boyd. I don't know if you should drop Boyd, but you can. In five games with both Chase and Tee Higgins healthy, Boyd has just 28 targets after Sunday's seven-target game. Save for one season back in 2018, Boyd has never averaged better than 7.6 yards per target, so he needs volume to really be Fantasy relevant, and he isn't getting that -- and I don't think there's any reason to think that is going to change without an injury to Chase or Higgins. Is it worth using a roster spot during bye weeks on a guy who is effectively a WR handcuff?
- Number to know: 754. That's how many receiving yards Chase has through his first seven career games, 112 more than the previous record for a rookie. It's also the 30th most any player has had in the first seven games of a season ever, and only seven of those players had more than Chase's six touchdowns. We're not just witnessing one of the best starts to a career ever -- this is a historic start for any player. Chase has 35 targets in his last four games, and I'm not sure there are more than four wide receivers I'd rather have the rest of the season. And there may not be any I'd rather have in a Dynasty league right now.
Packers 24-Washington 10
- One big takeaway: It's going to be interesting to see what Washington does at quarterback when Ryan Fitzpatrick is healthy. Taylor Heinicke is a pretty intriguing Fantasy QB -- he rushed for 95 yards in this one! -- and we've seen hints that they may want to keep him as the starter if he can hack it, but they've scored just 45 points in their three-game losing streak. Fitzpatrick could be back this week.
- Winner: Terry McLaurin. The previous couple of weeks had been rough for McLaurin, and he may end up better off in the long run if Fitzpatrick does return as the starter. However, McLaurin's upside can shine through under any circumstances, and you have to ride the ups and downs that come along with him.
- Loser: A.J. Dillon. With the Packers winning by 14, there should have been an opportunity for Dillon to put up some decent numbers, but the Packers ended up giving as many carries to Kylin Hill as to Dillon. That probably won't be a thing moving forward, and it's worth noting they played just 53 offensive snaps in this one, but it was still disappointing given Dillon's growing role of late. Though I guess Aaron Jones' six carries might have been even more disappointing.
- Number to know: J.D. McKissic out-snapped Antonio Gibson 45 to 29. This game set up perfectly for McKissic, as the Football team trailed for much of the game, so his 9.6 PPR point game was a pretty big disappointment. The process was right, even if the production didn't end up being there. McKissic is still the better play when Washington is projected to lose big.
Falcons 30-Dolphins 28
- One big takeaway: Is Cordarrelle Patterson the lead back in Atlanta? He just may be, or at least, that's how they used him Sunday. Sunday led the team in carries with 14, while Mike Davis had just four, but it's not like Davis just didn't play at all -- he logged 38 snaps. Patterson played 46, albeit with just 21 of them lined up in the backfield, which actually clouds the whole idea of "lead back" a bit. Of course, the fact of the matter is, the Falcons used him as their primary rusher and had him split out wide or in the slot 24 times, so who really cares how often he was in the backfield? The point is, the Falcons view him as one of their most important playmakers, ahead of Davis. That's a big deal, even if the carry split may not be as pronounced every week moving forward.
- Winner: Mike Gesicki. It's going to be interesting to see what the Dolphins do when their full complement of receivers is available, because Gesicki played just 39% of the snaps in the team's first game but has been over 64% in all six games since. He's a tight end in name only in this offense, but with Will Fuller and DeVante Parker coming back eventually, is his role secured? It should be coming off his seven-catch, 85-yard performance Sunday; he is averaging 6.2 catches and 71.2 yards on eight targets per game since Week 1. It might be worth considering selling high on Gesicki in case his role does shift, but it's so hard to find good tight ends, you might as well just ride him until the wheels come off.
- Loser: Calvin Ridley. I just don't really know what to do with Ridley. He's clearly the No. 1 receiver for the Falcons, leading the team in routes run and targets (10) this week. However, he and Matt Ryan just haven't really been able to sync up, especially down the field -- Ridley was just third in air yards on the team Sunday. I don't buy the idea that he is overmatched as a No. 1 receiver without Julio Jones, but even if you do, shouldn't the success of Kyle Pitts be helping him overcome that? I just have to move forward with Ridley as a must-start wide receiver and just hope his huge role -- 52 targets in five games -- will lead to elite production eventually.
- Number to know: 10.8. That's how far down the field Kyle Pitts' average target travels this season, tops at the position among players with at least 13 targets -- Pitts has 44 of them. He is third among tight ends in receiving yards despite playing just six games, and he's well on his way to setting the rookie tight end record for receptions and yards. He might be the No. 2 tight end for the rest of the season; he might be No. 4 or 5. But he's a superstar, a must-start player, and one of the biggest edges you can get at the position.
- Also … I didn't even mention Tua Tagovailoa here, and that is an obvious oversight. With questions about his future with the team swirling, Tagovailoa played very well, completing 32 of 40 passes for 291 yards with four touchdowns. He also threw a couple of ugly interceptions, so he's still a work in progress, obviously, but Tagovailoa has been solid since coming back from his injury. Nonetheless, it's hard to shake the feeling that he may not be long for the 1-6 Dolphins.
Patriots 54-Jets 13
- One big takeaway: The Jets really don't look much better than they did this time a year ago, which is more than a bit concerning, no? Adam Gase was a disaster, and Robert Saleh and his staff are trying to dig out of a big hole, but they've actually dropped from 15.2 to 13.3 points per game so far. It's hard to find much to be optimistic about right now.
- Winner: Damien Harris. I've been pretty skeptical about Harris' Fantasy appeal in the newsletter, but credit where it's due, this was a great game, with 106 rushing yards and two touchdowns. This was Harris' second game as a top-12 RB in 17 starts, and there are still reasons to think he's not a great option moving forward -- only 14 carries and two targets in a 54-13 win? -- and I wouldn't mind trying to move Harris to an RB-needy team after this. But, it was a heck of a game.
- Loser: Hunter Henry. He ended up with double digits in PPR points thanks to yet another touchdown, but Henry is decidedly not one of the tight ends I feel confident in starting right now. Maybe the shoulder injury that forced Jonnu Smith from the game might change how I feel, but this is two games in a row with just two catches for Henry, who has just one game with more than 42 yards for the season. Four games in a row with a touchdown will make anyone Fantasy relevant, but it's hard to keep that up in a middling offense. See if you can trade him for something useful.
- Number to know: 72.1%. That was Michael Carter's snap share in this one, by far the highest of his career to date. He had 11 of the team's 16 RB carries and led the team with nine targets, eight catches, and 67 yards in this one. If he's going to get that kind of workload every week, Carter is going to be a viable starting option even in arguably the worst offense in the league.
Giants 25-Panthers 3
- One big takeaway: Leaving Adam Gase's presence didn't fix Sam Darnold. Darnold was so bad in this one he got benched for P.J. Walker, and while there doesn't seem to be much risk of that happening again -- Matt Rhule told reporters after the game he was searching for a "spark" and that Darnold will start in Week 8 against the Falcons. That's a great matchup, but is it one you can feel comfortable starting Darnold against after he face-planted against the Giants? It's best to avoid him at this point.
- Winner: There's not much positive to take from this one, honestly. The Panthers are kind of a disaster right now thanks to Darnold, while the Giants are missing basically every player who might matter for Fantasy in two weeks time. At least they didn't suffer any more injuries, so I'll say the Giants training staff are winners!
- Loser: Robby Anderson. You've gotta wonder how long the Panthers can keep making him a focal point of the offense given the results they're getting. Over his last three games, Anderson has 55 yards on eight catches and 27 targets, and he's now caught just 36.7% of his passes through the first second games. People are going to let themselves fall for the targets, believe Anderson has to be better moving forward, and maybe he does, but I'm not sure I want to keep chasing it at this point.
- Number to know: 11. D.J. Moore is averaging 11 PPR points per game over his last three, less than half of the 22.4 he averaged through the first four games. He's being held back by Darnold's poor play, but I still view him as a must-start Fantasy option -- it's not like he's been bad, even during this stretch. It's just been disappointing after it looked like he might be truly breaking out.
Rams 28-Lions 19
- One big takeaway: Credit to the Lions, who came out in this one looking to win, rather than not lose. Say what you want about Dan Campbell, but the guy is not going to rest on his laurels while the losses rack up. They went for an onside kick after scoring on the opening drive and successfully pulled off two fake punts. It didn't work, of course, but credit for being bold. For our purposes, the best way that manifested was with D'Andre Swift getting involved early and often, as he had 16 touches and 118 scrimmage yards through the first three quarters of the game -- he had averaged 11 touches in the first three quarters through the first six games. More of that, please.
- Winner: Cooper Kupp. Kupp is off to one of the best starts to a season in Fantasy history, and Sunday was his fourth game with multiple touchdown catches in his first seven. Davante Adams led the NFL with five such games last season, just to get a sense of the pace Kupp is operating at. He entered the game fourth in the league in target share at 34%, a mark that actually went down with 13 targets Sunday. He's the focal point of one of the best offenses in the league, and while he probably won't keep up his current pace -- which would see him put up 136 catches, 1,965 yards, and 19 touchdowns -- he's clearly one of the two best WR in the league for Fantasy, and he might not be No. 2.
- Loser: Amon-Ra St. Brown. I would have to watch the game again to see if Jalen Ramsey shadowed St. Brown or something, but … I would be pretty surprised if the Rams actually did that. Brown had 23 targets in his previous three games, so it was weird to see him held without a target despite running a route on 30 of 39 pass plays, but it highlights that there is neither a particularly high ceiling nor any kind of real food with him. If he's on your roster, he should probably be the first guy you can drop.
- Number to know: 88.5%. That's Darrell Henderson's snap share from this one. He has played 80% of the snaps or more in four of six games and is a must-start Fantasy RB as long as he is healthy, even if he wasn't great in this one.
Cardinals 31-Texans 5
- One big takeaway: It's really worth asking whether the Cardinals do, in fact, have too many mouths to feed. DeAndre Hopkins got nine targets on Kyler Murray's 28 pass attempts, which left room for no more than five targets for anyone else. Considering that this is an offense with five Fantasy relevant pass-catchers besides Hopkins, that's a problem. It wasn't really a problem for Zach Ertz or Christian Kirk in this one because they both scored, but with touches being spread as widely as they are in this offense, it makes trusting anyone besides Hopkins a bit tricky.
- Winner: Chase Edmonds. The past few weeks had been pretty concerning for Edmonds, who had just 10 carries and six catches between Weeks 5 and 6 after averaging nearly 12 carries and five catches per game in the first four. It coincided with a shoulder injury, but Edmonds was off the injury report for this game and, lo and behold, got a season-high 15 carries in this one along with three targets. Edmonds is the primary pass-catching back here, but if he's behind James Conner on the rushing hierarchy, it's harder to trust him, so this was a good sign. Now, can we please get my guy a touchdown? He has 95 touches without one right now.
- Loser: Davis Mills. It's unfair to put everything that is wrong with the Texans offense on Mills right now, but the Texans have failed to score a touchdown in three of his five starts -- and they had just one touchdown in one of the others. Unless they really think he might be the quarterback of the future, you have to think they'll go back to Tyrod Taylor when he's able to play through his hamstring injury. That could be as soon as Week 8 against the Rams, and you have to think they'll consider it. That would be good news for Brandin Cooks' value.
- Number to know: 32.1%. That was Hopkins' target share in this one, up from 21% coming into the game. That matches his high for the season, and he'll need to be a lot higher than 21% to remain a high-end Fantasy WR moving forward unless he just keeps scoring a touchdown once every five catches or so. That would be tough to do.
Buccaneers 38-Bears 3
- One big takeaway: The Bucs offense is incredible, of course, but the Bears offense might be just as bad as the Bucs are good. I don't know if Justin Fields just isn't ready to be an NFL quarterback, but I do know that Matt Nagy isn't doing him any favors with his play calling and offensive philosophy. I just don't see how you can be confident about this offense turning things around at any point. There just haven't been many reasons to be optimistic.
- Winner: Khalil Herbert. It's fair to wonder if Damien Williams' limited role (three carries, one target) may have been related to the fact that he was just coming back from COVID and may not have been fully up to where he needed to be with regards to his conditioning. However, it seems undeniable that Herbert has played himself into a significant role moving forward after rushing for 100 yards on 18 carries against the best rush defense in football. He also showed some pass-catching chops in this one, hauling in all five passes thrown his way for 33 yards. He might be ranked as a top-24 RB in Week 8 against the 49ers, and the question now is whether he'll be able to play himself into a role even when David Montgomery is healthy. That likely won't be until after the team's Week 10 bye, so Herbert has a bit of runway here, albeit with a tough schedule.
- Loser: Justin Fields. Whether Fields just isn't ready or the offense is holding him back -- or, more likely, a combination of the two -- it's basically impossible to find anything positive to say about how the rookie has played so far. He's averaging just 6.4 yards per attempt with two touchdowns and five interceptions in his five starts. He's also fumbled five times and has nearly as many sacks (20) as rush attempts (23) -- and has lost more yards on his sacks, to boot. With matchups against the 49ers, Steelers, and Ravens over the last three games, I'm not sure anyone on this offense is more than a low-end starter at their position.
- Number to know: 183.5. That's how many yards Mike Evans and Chris Godwin have averaged in two games without Antonio Brown -- 180 combined in one, 187 in the other. With Brown active, they've averaged 129.8 between them. There's still plenty of room for all three wide receivers to thrive in this offense, obviously, but when all three are active, it's hard to expect all three to be great -- and it's hard to predict which one won't be in any given week. You just start all three every week they are healthy.
Raiders 33-Eagles 22
- One big takeaway: Both running back starters were injured in this game, and they were replaced by committees. With Josh Jacobs out for the second half, Kenyan Drake played 15 snaps and Jalen Richard had 12 for the Raiders; Kenneth Gainwell played 22 snaps while Boston Scott had 20 in the second half after Miles Sanders' absence for the Eagles. The Raiders are on a bye in Week 8 and Jacobs could be back after that, but the Eagles have a great matchup against the Lions with no clear lead back. My assumption is Gainwell will be the lead back if Sanders misses time, but nearly all of his second-half snaps came in the passing game, while Scott had more carries -- including near the goal line on one drive. It may be tough to trust anyone in this backfield, though Gainwell may still be an RB2 in the rankings against such a good matchup.
- Winner: Foster Moreau. It's not clear at this point if Darren Waller's ankle injury is likely to linger past the team's Week 8 bye, but Moreau made a convincing case that he could be a solid contributor if given the opportunity, catching six of six targets for 60 yards and a touchdown. I don't think he'll really get that opportunity if Waller is healthy, but it's worth keeping him in mind moving forward, either as an injury replacement or if he ever leaves the Raiders.
- Loser: Henry Ruggs III. Ruggs has been a decent Fantasy option this season, but I just haven't been able to take him seriously as a starting-caliber receiver because of his low volume of targets. He has just 11 over the past three games now and is on pace for just 87 over the full 17-game season. His big-play potential means he can put up numbers even in a small volume, but I think there are probably going to be more misses than hits moving forward. He's still more of a bye-week or injury replacement in my eyes.
- Number to know: 20.9. That's the fewest points Jalen Hurts has had in a game in six point-per-pass touchdown leagues. Criticize him for it coming in garbage time or that he's not actually a good real-life quarterback, but if you're letting that influence how you view him as a Fantasy option, you're doing yourself a disservice.
Colts 30-49ers 18
- One big takeaway: It's tough to take too much away from this one given the stormy conditions it was played in. There were seven fumbles and two interceptions, which makes it awfully hard to learn much for games where the elements won't be such a big factor.
- Winner: Elijah Mitchell. Mitchell ran the ball 18 times for 107 yards and a touchdown, the third time in four games he has had at least 17 carries. His role seems pretty clear, and the return of Jamycal Hasty didn't impact him much -- Hasty took on much of the passing situations. Mitchell seems like a pretty good bet for 15-plus carries, though with little usage in the passing game most weeks. That puts him in the Damien Harris or Zack Moss range among low-end RB2s, although I do like his situation more than Harris or Moss.
- Loser: Brandon Aiyuk. There's been a lot of consternation among Fantasy analysts and players around Aiyuk's usage, with plenty of ire being sent Kyle Shanahan's way. And I get it, what with Shanahan seemingly benching Aiyuk early in the season in some kind of motivational ploy. But here's the thing: Aiyuk has played at least 71% of the snaps in three of the last four games and is right around there in route share as well. He's seeing the field plenty, so it's harder to keep pinning this on Shanahan. He has earned just 14 targets over the last four games, turning them into eight catches for 88 yards. The thing that nobody seems to want to admit is that Aiyuk just doesn't seem to be playing that well right now. He certainly isn't playing in a way that demands more targets.
- Number to know: 35%. Samuel was targeted 11 times on 27 pass attempts Sunday pushing his target share to 35% for the season, matching Davante Adams for the league lead. He's been a top-five WR this season for Fantasy, and I think he belongs in the discussion for the 8-12 range moving forward -- the pending return of George Kittle and the possible move from Jimmy Garoppolo to Trey Lance at QB are the only reasons to be skeptical at this point.