I originally had O.J. Howard as the bust alert at tight end in Start 'Em & Sit 'Em when it was published Wednesday afternoon. But things have changed since then in Tampa, and Howard is no longer in that category. Now, he's someone you should be considering as a starter and a sleeper for Week 7.
It was expected that Rob Gronkowski (ribs) would miss this week's game against Chicago, but we got surprise news Friday that Antonio Brown (ankle) would also be out. That should allow Howard to once again be a prime target for Tom Brady.
In Week 6 at Philadelphia, Howard had seven targets and finished with six catches for 49 yards and a touchdown. He now has 10 targets in his past two games, and Brady is getting comfortable with Howard as Gronkowski's replacement. Coach Bruce Arians said Howard is finally back after the Achilles tear he suffered in Week 4 last season.
"He was really coming on like gangbusters last year when he got hurt," Arians said this week. "And that's a hard injury to get over. It's a 12-month job. He's doing a heck of a job right now."
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His matchup in Week 7 isn't easy against Chicago. The Bears have allowed just one touchdown to an opposing tight end and kept Tyler Higbee (11 PPR points), T.J. Hockenson (eight PPR points) and Darren Waller (eight PPR points) in check.
But slowing down the Buccaneers passing attack isn't easy given Brady's plethora of weapons, including Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and Leonard Fournette. Howard is now in position to be featured with Gronkowski and Brown out, and it makes him a good streaming Fantasy tight end this week.
We'll see what happens with Howard when Gronkowski is healthy. But in Week 7, Fantasy managers should consider Howard a sleeper.
Editor's Note: Projections are provided by CBS Sports and not Jamey Eisenberg. Projected points are for PPR leagues.
- We have props for D'Ernest Johnson, replacement RBs and NFC lineup issues for Week 7 on the Fantasy Football Today podcast. Listen below and follow at Apple, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts:
Week 7 Sleepers
NO New Orleans • #2
Age: 27 • Experience: 7 yrs.
I was hoping Winston was going to get Michael Thomas (ankle) back for this game, but it appears that he's still a couple of weeks away from making his 2021 debut. But even without Thomas, Winston can still be considered a low-end starter in Week 7 against a Seattle defense that is fourth in the NFL in passing yards allowed. Ryan Tannehill, Kirk Cousins, Matthew Stafford and the combination of Trey Lance and Jimmy Garoppolo have all gone over 300 passing yards against the Seahawks. And Winston just had 33 Fantasy points at Washington in Week 5 before the Saints' bye, which included a season-high 30 attempts. Winston is a good streaming option in Week 7.
Sam Darnold QB
CAR Carolina • #14
Age: 24 • Experience: 4 yrs.
Darnold will hopefully snap out of his two-game funk in a stadium he knows well this week. The former Jets quarterback is going back to MetLife Stadium, and while he's facing the Giants, this is a homecoming of sorts. More importantly, this is a matchup he should be able to exploit since the Giants have allowed all but one quarterback to score at least 23 Fantasy points this season, and Matt Ryan had the lowest score against this defense with 19 Fantasy points in Week 3. Darnold scored at least 21 Fantasy points in each of his first four starts, and hopefully he can return to that level of production in this matchup.
SF San Francisco • #10
Age: 30 • Experience: 8 yrs.
Garoppolo is expected to start Sunday night after being out in Week 5 with a calf injury. He's worth using as a low-end starter in deeper formats and can be counted on in two-quarterback and Superflex leagues. Jacoby Brissett and Davis Mills are the lone quarterbacks who failed to score at least 21 Fantasy points this year against the Colts, who give up an average of 25.3 points to the position. Garoppolo only has one game this season with more than 18 Fantasy points, but he might not have to worry about coming off the field this week if Lance (knee) is still hurt. This could be a statement game for Garoppolo that if he plays well he should be the starter for the remainder of the season.
BAL Baltimore • #34
Age: 29 • Experience: 8 yrs.
Latavius Murray (ankle) isn't expected to play in Week 7, which is good news for Freeman. But how will the Ravens use Freeman, Le'Veon Bell and Ty'Son Williams in this matchup with the Bengals? I like Freeman the best, and he should be considered at least a flex option. He had three catches for 34 yards on four targets in the Week 5 comeback effort against the Colts. And then he had nine carries for 53 yards and a touchdown against the Chargers in Week 6. Bell and likely Williams will get touches, but Freeman deserves more chances to touch the ball. He might be my favorite Ravens running back in Week 7 -- and beyond.
James Conner RB
ARI Arizona • #6
Age: 26 • Experience: 5 yrs.
The Cardinals are favored by 18.5 points at home against the Texans, according to the Caesars Sportsbook, so there should be some touchdown and garbage-time opportunities here for Conner. I even like Conner better than Chase Edmonds in PPR, and Conner is a borderline starter in all leagues in this matchup. Houston has allowed a running back to score in three games in a row, and Conner has scored a touchdown in three of his past four games, with five total touchdowns over that span.
CHI Chicago • #11
Age: 24 • Experience: 2 yrs.
I wish this was Allen Robinson in this spot, and hopefully he delivers in this great matchup with the Buccaneers. But it's hard to trust Robinson, who has yet to top 10 PPR points in a game this year. While Robinson has struggled with Justin Fields, it hasn't been the same thing for Mooney, at least of late. He's scored at least 15 PPR points in two of his past three games. Hopefully we continue to see Fields and Mooney connect, and the Buccaneers have allowed the fifth-most Fantasy points to receivers this year. Mooney is worth using as a No. 3 receiver in most leagues.
LV Las Vegas • #13
Age: 25 • Experience: 3 yrs.
Renfrow struggled against the Broncos in Week 6 with season lows in targets (five), catches (three), yards (36) and Fantasy points (six), but he should rebound this week. Derek Carr should lean on Renfrow in this matchup, especially if the Eagles try to limit the big plays and put Darius Slay on Darren Waller or Henry Ruggs III. In three home games this year against Baltimore, Miami and Chicago, Renfrow is averaging 14.0 PPR points per game.
NO New Orleans • #1
Age: 23 • Experience: Rookie
Michael Thomas (ankle) won't play in Week 7, and we'll see if Tre'Quan Smith (hamstring) is able to go. If Smith is out then Callaway should remain the No. 1 receiver for Jameis Winston, and he had a season-high eight targets in Week 5 at Washington. He finished with four catches for 85 yards and two touchdowns, although one was a 49-yard Hail Mary. Still, with a matchup against Seattle, Callaway could be a No. 3 Fantasy receiver in all leagues. The Seahawks have allowed eight receivers to score at least 16 PPR points this year.
KC Kansas City • #17
Age: 23 • Experience: 3 yrs.
Hardman has 17 targets in his past two games, and he's combined for 24 PPR points over that span, with at least 62 receiving yards in each outing. He also has at least 12 PPR points in two of his past four games. The Titans allow the most Fantasy points to opposing receivers, including the most receiving yards (1,418) and are tied for second among touchdowns (10). You can expect Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce to get their stats in this game, but Hardman might be worth trusting as a No. 3 Fantasy receiver in all leagues.
NYJ N.Y. Jets • #82
Age: 28 • Experience: 7 yrs.
Crowder has played two games this season and scored 19 PPR points in one and eight PPR points in the other. He has 15 targets in those two games and should continue to be a go-to option for Zach Wilson this week against the Patriots. He missed the first meeting with New England in Week 2, but Braxton Berrios had seven catches for 73 yards on 11 targets in that game. Hopefully, Crowder can post a similar stat line this week, and he's worth using as a No. 3 PPR receiver in this matchup.
Tyler Higbee TE
LAR L.A. Rams • #89
Age: 28 • Experience: 6 yrs.
Higbee is due for a big game after scoring nine PPR points or less in three games in a row. He had five targets in Week 6 at the Giants and caught all five of them, but he managed just 36 yards. You want to trust Matthew Stafford's weapons this week in a matchup with his former team, and the Lions have already allowed four tight ends to score at least 10 PPR points this year. Consider Higbee a low-end starter in all leagues.
WAS Washington • #83
Age: 26 • Experience: 4 yrs.
In the past two games without Logan Thomas (hamstring), Seals-Jones has combined for 15 targets, nine catches, 99 yards and a touchdown for 24 PPR points. He should be considered a low-end starter in Week 7 at Green Bay, and the Packers have allowed three tight ends to score at least 17 PPR points this year.
Cole Kmet TE
CHI Chicago • #85
Age: 22 • Experience: 2 yrs.
Kmet finally got involved in the offense again in Week 6 against the Packers with four catches for 49 yards on five targets. It's the most targets and catches he's had since Week 1, and that was a new season-best in yards. He's still looking for his first touchdown, and maybe that happens this week against the Buccaneers, who have allowed four touchdowns to tight ends in their past four games. With six teams on a bye, Kmet could be a good replacement option in deeper leagues.
QB: Tua Tagovailoa (vs. ATL) $5,500
RB: Chuba Hubbard (at NYG) $6,100
RB: Cordarrelle Patterson (at MIA) $6,300
WR: Brandin Cooks (at ARI) $6,000
WR: Marquise Brown (vs. CIN) $5,800
WR: Jaylen Waddle (vs. ATL) $5,600
TE: Mike Gesicki (vs. ATL) $4,700
FLEX: Darrell Henderson (vs. DET) $6,600
DST: Patriots (vs. NYJ) $3,400
I'm going with a Dolphins stack here of Tagovailoa, Waddle and Gesicki, and I'm hoping for a shootout between Miami and Atlanta. It's why I'm going with Patterson on the other side for this lineup.
Hubbard is my other running back, and he has top-10 upside. And I like Henderson in the flex given his amazing matchup with the Lions.
The rest of my receiving corps is full of potential with Cooks and Brown, and I love this lineup.
QB: Matt Ryan ($7,300) at MIA
RB: James Conner ($6,500) vs. HOU
RB: Miles Sanders ($5,900) at LV
WR: Cooper Kupp ($8,800) vs. DET
WR: Calvin Ridley ($7,300) at MIA
WR: Mecole Hardman ($5,400) at TEN
TE: Kyle Pitts ($6,100) at MIA
FLEX: DeAndre Hopkins ($8,000) vs. HOU
DEF: Buccaneers ($4,400) vs. CHI
Ryan is my Start of the Week, so I'll stack him with Ridley and Pitts here. Ridley is due for a huge game, and Pitts will hopefully build off his breakout performance in Week 5 against Jacksonville in London.
I love Conner and Hardman, which you can read about in this column, and I expect this to be the breakout week for Sanders. I nearly made Sanders the Start of the Week, but opted for Ryan instead.
Kupp should stay hot against the Lions, and I like Hopkins in a revenge game against the Texans. I have confidence in this lineup to deliver a big reward in Week 7.