Week 5 was an all-time great Fantasy week. Week 6 wasn't too bad. Week 7 was best summed up by the San Francisco-Washington mud bowl: It was an unproductive mess. Across the league, several players left games early, several more underperformed and with key players on byes, Fantasy scores were down.

Not all was bad. Aaron Rodgers went off, as did Marvin Jones. Chase Edmonds couldn't have been more effective in his first shot as a lead back. We had a few peak performances, but otherwise, plenty of mediocrity. 

The boom-or-bust dichotomy was perhaps best summed up at running back, and specifically by the green zone touches accumulated in Week 7. Dalvin Cook and Sony Michel had six each, matching the single-game high for any back in 2019, while five other backs — Melvin Gordon, Josh Jacobs, Todd Gurley, Leonard Fournette and Latavius Murray — had five, with varying levels of success. Then no other back in the league had more than two. 

There were five backs who finished with 25-plus PPR points, then no more over 20. Just 16 hit double digits — Vikings fullback C.J. Ham caught a touchdown and his 8.4 PPR points were good enough to make him an RB2 on the week. 

Let's sort it all out.  

Data is typically courtesy of Pro Football Reference, RotoViz, the RotoGrinders Premium Usage App, airyards.com or PFF. Always feel free to hit me up on Twitter @YardsPerGretch with any questions about anything I covered or to ask my thoughts on something I glossed over. That is some of my favorite feedback, because sometimes it's something I've missed.

Here are some important statistical acronyms to know for Stealing Signals:

Green Zone - Inside the opponent's 10-yard line.
HVT - High-Value Touches: for running backs, all receptions and all touches inside the 10 yard line. 
TRAP - Trivial Rush Attempt Percentage: for running backs, the percentage of all touches that are not high-value touches.
WOPR - Weighted Opportunity Rating: a metric created by Josh Hermsmeyer, it balances team share of targets and team share of air yards. Because a player's WOPR is a share of his team's overall opportunity, it's important to consider team volume as additional context. 
RACR - Receiver Air Conversion Ratio: also created by Hermsmeyer, RACR is calculated as total receiving yards divided by total air yards. Similar to yards per reception or yards per target, but per air yard instead.

Week 7
Week 7
Chiefs 30 - Broncos 6

This season feels cursed. 

Quarterback is the most important position in sports, and Fantasy is wildly reliant on it. First it was Andrew Luck, who retired after his body failed him. Then Cam Newton and Drew Brees and Ben Roethlisberger got hurt. Sam Darnold got mono. For every Gardner Minshew uncovered, there are five Chase Daniels replacing injured starters.  

But at least we had Patrick Mahomes. The old adage is there aren't 32 people in the world good enough to play quarterback at an NFL level, but in just 24 career starts Patrick Mahomes has already established he plays it at a level that makes one wonder whether he could someday be considered the best to ever do it. He already has one of two 5,000 yard-50 touchdown passing seasons in league history. He can throw a mile or without looking at his target, both accurately.

The injury timeline after his patella (kneecap) dislocation is close to best-case scenario, which could mean three weeks, or it could mean five because the Chiefs have a Week 12 bye. They could buy him a month and a half of recovery time until their Week 13 game on December 1 by holding him out through that date. 

What does it mean in the short-term? Matt Moore is a relatively capable backup. You start Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill while we see how things play out. LeSean McCoy is a low-end bye-week RB2 or Flex. And you probably can't start anyone else right now, with the possible exception being an eventually healthy Sammy Watkins

The situation is still Fantasy-friendly. Moore steps into a role with plenty of talent around him and one the league's most creative offensive play-callers — both were on display on a long touchdown to Tyreek Hill after Moore took over Thursday, where Hill ran a drag route then cut up the opposite side of the field that had been cleared out. That may have been a read to break it up field as Troy Aikman suggested on the broadcast, but the timing was so on point with a backup quarterback that it looked to me like something that had been practiced. 

And for as great as Joe Flacco and the Broncos made the Chiefs' defense look, it has struggled to stop teams overall, which could put Moore in passing situations. We did see more running back involvement in Week 7, with LeSean McCoy's 12 rushes setting a season high. He continued to lead the backfield and also caught two passes, but his touchdown-scoring potential takes a significant hit with the quarterback change. It's also quite notable that the Chiefs ran the ball four times in the green zone, and Darrel Williams led the backs with two attempts, while McCoy had just one and Damien Williams got the fourth. McCoy still leads the team with 10 touches in that area of the field for the season, but Darrel has six and Damien four; McCoy's only seen half of the team's opportunities down there. 

After playing just seven snaps last week, Darrel Williams was far more involved in Week 7, and Damien Williams played a season-low snap share and frankly didn't do much to look like he deserved more time, gaining 6 yards on 11 touches, many of which came in garbage time. Neither Williams is startable, though both are worth stashing where you can as potential upside Fantasy playoff options if Mahomes does return. For as frustrating as the situation has been, it's worthwhile to target backs in good offenses that utilize the position in the passing game as much as the Chiefs do. 

Hill was mostly quiet outside his long touchdown as the Broncos made him a focus. Travis Kelce led the receiving corps with an 8-6-44 line. The Chiefs had a season-low 271 yards of total offense and 191 yards of passing offense, and the overall volume getting split among the receiving weapons substantially decreases without a 5,000-yard passer under center. 

Courtland Sutton continued to be the lead receiving option for a Denver team that struggled throughout and mounted little in the way of a comeback attempt. He produced early and finished with an 8-6-87 line, but didn't have a catch in the fourth quarter as Flacco frankly quit pushing the ball downfield, taking underneath throw after underneath throw when the Chiefs backed off with their lead. Flacco also took eight sacks. 

Royce Freeman continued to be the preferred passing downs back and stretched his receptions lead over Phillip Lindsay. Lindsay started and was plenty involved, but Freeman got the rush attempt from the 1-yard line and converted for his first touchdown of the season. Lindsay had previously been dominating that work, and did come in for a similar attempt on a 2-point try. One attempt hardly qualifies as a changing of the guard, but Freeman unquestionably had the better Fantasy workload in Week 7, generating five high-value touches to Lindsay's one and easily leading in snaps. 

Noah Fant saw five targets and 91 air yards but couldn't bring in multiple catchable deeper throws, though none were what I'd describe as accurate passes from Flacco. He continues to be both involved and unproductive.

  • Signal: Damien Williams — taking a back seat; Chiefs — going to generate far less offense without Mahomes  
  • Noise: Chiefs DST — Flacco did a good job of making a below average unit look elite  
Week 7
Packers 42 - Raiders 24

Passer rating isn't a perfect stat, and Aaron Rodgers detractors may be the first to note that. Vintage Rodgers always excelled in that metric as an efficient passer with a high TD:INT ratio. And yet, Week 7 of 2019 was the first time Rodgers finished a game with a perfect 158.3 mark.

Arguably the best performance in a long career of excellence, Rodgers completed over 80% of his passes for a career-high 13.8 yards per attempt and five touchdowns through the air, plus he added a score on the ground. It was the best single-game Fantasy performance for a quarterback this year in most scoring formats. 

Among a banged up pass-catching corps, no Packer saw more than five targets; the receiving production came from big plays that exceeded opportunity. To be fair, that too was a staple of Rodgers' prime, and there's something to be said about Rodgers not needing to throw many passes because the drives were relatively quick. Incompletions lead to more pass volume.

Marquez Valdes-Scantling hauled in two deep passes on three targets, going 3-2-133-1, while running just 13 routes. While Valdes-Scantling's partial playing time was no doubt due to his health, Allen Lazard led the team in routes run with 27 despite Valdes-Scantling and Geronimo Allison both being active. Allison and Jake Kumerow — he of a 2-2-54-1 line that also included a long touchdown — both ran 23 routes, and the Packers basically had a four-man receiver rotation going. It remains to be seen how this will play out especially with Davante Adams returning at some point, but Lazard certainly looks to have earned an extended look for now. He caught 3-of-4 passes for 42 yards including a really nice 26-yard reception down to the 3-yard line, and he led the team with 61 air yards. 

Jimmy Graham finally converted another of what has been a steady stream of end zone targets all year, going 4-4-65-1 for the day. Overall, it was an unconcentrated passing attack, which would have been more of a concern had Rodgers not crushed. 

The backfield snaps were a 60/40 split in favor of Aaron Jones, which is how things went in the first few weeks of the season. Jones had a poor game in Week 6 and seemed to lose some snaps to Jamaal Williams' hot hand, but the team went back to him as their starter and lead back here. They also notably got him out in another downfield route and he made a nice catch for an early 21-yard touchdown reception, a week after dropping a wide open touchdown on a similar play. 

That usage is significant, because while running back air yards are few and far between and can generally be ignored, there is value in the downfield opportunities that do arise because the backs are often matched up on a linebacker and it's a look teams like to exploit. We saw a similar Week 7 play from Todd Gurley that resulted in a touchdown, and in the last couple weeks we've discussed how David Johnson and Miles Sanders (the league leaders in RB air yards) have scored on downfield targets. We can't bank on these targets every week, but just seeing that potential in an offense is a positive sign for a running back, and it translated for Jones. 

Williams also caught a touchdown out of the backfield, a 2-yarder on a swing pass. Both backs caught four passes, and that receiving work makes Williams a bye week Flex option, though his appeal beyond that is mostly just as a handcuff if Jones were to miss time. 

Darren Waller lost an early touchdown to a holding penalty, and his backup Foster Moreau scored on that drive instead, Moreau's second touchdown in the past three games. It looked like more of the same we've seen from Waller, with elite counting stats but no scores, until he found the end zone later, not once but twice, to finish 8-7-126-2. The red zone looks make clear his lack of touchdowns to date have just been variance and he's a locked-in top-five tight end the rest of the way. 

Josh Jacobs got banged up early but returned. I noted his huge green zone role in the intro, but he was unable to punch any of them in for a score, including back-to-back tries from the 2- and 1-yard lines on third and fourth down on the first drive of the second half. It's great to see the commitment in such a high-leverage area, and he's been getting those looks all year, but of course the Raiders don't generate as many as some teams.

Jacobs also added three receptions, but while he's been catching more passes of late, he gave up some routes this week to his backup duo relative to his route uptick back in Weeks 4 and 5 before the bye. He's not a TRAP back, but his seven high-value touches this week were probably close to his ceiling in that regard. Of course, he generates plenty of low-value touches, his 21-124 rushing line was very good and there are scenarios where he could have had multiple scores here. His workload is like a poor man's Chris Carson's or a rich man's Derrick Henry's. 

Without Tyrell Williams again, the Raiders rotated receivers heavily, as no one other than Waller ran routes on more than 50% of dropbacks. Recent trade acquisition Zay Jones was inactive, but he's not facing much competition for the No. 2 WR job. 

  • Signal: Aaron Jones — lead back, saw another downfield target (and caught this one); Darren Waller — red zone looks, had a third touchdown called back, isn't allergic to the end zone
  • Noise: Packers WR — Adams out, MVS and Allison playing limited snaps means we don't have a great read on roles, but Lazard might be moving up
Week 7
Rams 37 - Falcons 10

We're reaching the point with Gerald Everett where what was once considered a big three of Rams' pass-catchers in prior seasons can now be thought of as a big four. 

As we've covered, the Rams' team volume has been all over the place, from 117 pass attempts and 900-plus passing yards over two weeks in Weeks 4 and 5 (which raised everyone's volume and production) to just 24 attempts and 78 passing yards in Week 6 (which lowered everyone's), but we saw a pretty normal game in Week 7 with Jared Goff throwing 37 passes for 268 yards. And Everett was clearly a big part of that, leading the team with 10 targets and 147 air yards. 

Everett started the season slow, but if we look at just the past four weeks, his WOPR is second on the team, just ahead of Robert Woods and well ahead of Brandin Cooks. He got multiple downfield looks in Week 7 and for the second straight week could have had a much bigger day if Goff would've been more accurate on those. 

Behind Everett's 10-4-50-1 day, the three receivers each had seven or eight targets and no other Ram had more than one. One thing I've been hesitant to mention because it hasn't negatively impacted Cooper Kupp and it's been erratic on a week-to-week basis is that when Everett plays more, it does seem to come at Kupp's expense as the slot receiver. Kupp ran routes on a season-low 72% of dropbacks in Week 7, but that's still plenty of opportunity and I'm not changing my valuation of him based on that. Just something to keep an eye on.

Todd Gurley played his lowest snap share of the season, and it wasn't due to the blowout as he played through the penultimate drive and the Rams only went to the backups for a three-play drive at the very end. He caught the touchdown on the aforementioned (in the Green Bay section) downfield target and led the team in rushing attempts, but failed to convert any of five green zone rush attempts into touchdowns. Darrell Henderson also looked solid again, and just visually appears to be the most explosive back, but that's not really relevant to Fantasy value and it's unclear whether he'll maintain a role when Malcolm Brown returns. He's worth a stash at any rate. 

The Falcons struggled throughout, and didn't find the end zone until after Matt Ryan left with an injury that had him in a walking boot after the game. Early reports suggest he might have a shot to play Week 8, and the Falcons have a Week 9 bye so it shouldn't be more than a one-game absence if any. If he does miss, it would be a downgrade for all Falcons pass-catchers for obvious reasons (those obvious reasons being "Matt" and "Schaub"). 

Ito Smith got concussed very early and left the game, and Devonta Freeman got ejected for throwing a punch later, so the team was forced to roll with Brian Hill for most of the second half. The huge negative script meant little RB production anyway. 

But there also wasn't much passing production. Julio Jones overcame a matchup with Jalen Ramsey for a 9-6-93 line with 139 air yards. Austin Hooper caught three passes for 27 yards and a score on Schaub's lone drive in the fourth quarter, giving him 5-4-46-1 for the day. My belief that Hooper is more of a mid-range TE1 than an elite option was almost vindicated for a single week, but then it wasn't, so probably just ignore me on him. 

Calvin Ridley and Mohamed Sanu didn't do much, but now Sanu has been traded to New England, which should tighten the target tree here considerably and be a boost for Ridley and Hooper. So definitely ignore my prior takes on Hooper because they are now outdated. 

  • Signal: Gerald Everett — significant part of the passing game
  • Noise: Brian Hill — played extensively because Ito Smith and Devonta Freeman were both out
Week 7
Vikings 42 - Lions 30
  • Snap Notes: Adam Thielen: 12% (hamstring injury), Olabisi Johnson: 71% (+14% vs. previous season high), Kerryon Johnson: 14% (knee injury), Ty Johnson: 64% (+44% vs. previous season high), Danny Amendola: 71% (+13% vs. previous season high)
  • Key Stat: Olabisi Johnson — 8 targets, 90 air yards

We had more injuries in Detroit, where both Adam Thielen and Kerryon Johnson left the game early. Thielen was hurt on a 25-yard touchdown reception, his only catch of the day, but he at least scored. Johnson unfortunately didn't give Fantasy managers much.

Without Thielen, the Vikings' concentrated passing attack incorporated more weapons. Stefon Diggs was still featured and led the team with an 8-7-142 line, 66 of which came on a late play-action deep shot with the Vikings milking clock. Olabisi Johnson, who we've talked about the last few weeks as he's worked into the No. 3 role, essentially took over Thielen's role directly. He ran routes on 74% of dropbacks and while he caught just four passes for 40 yards, he saw good volume and found the end zone. He's a reasonable Week 8 option on Thursday Night Football against Washington (assuming Thielen can't play on the short week), though it's possible Minnesota goes very run-heavy in that one. 

Minnesota also incorporated their tight ends, with Kyle Rudolph and Irv Smith posting nearly identical receiving lines of 6-5-58-1 and 6-5-60. They would be weaker streaming options because both are involved. Thielen's injury doesn't appear to be major and none of Johnson, Rudolph or Smith will have much utility once he's back.

Dalvin Cook did Dalvin Cook things, rushing 25 times for 142 yards and two scores. His targets have been down the past couple games but consider that variance as he's still run plenty of routes, and is likely due to Kirk Cousins finding more success down the field. 

During last week, our podcast host Adam Aizer found some interesting stats on the Vikings' cornerbacks that suggested they've been the weak link in a mostly very good Vikings defense that he shared with our team. I mentioned I thought they could be a bit skewed by garbage time production (the Atlanta game came to mind) and thought there might be some noise there. Four Marvin Jones touchdowns later and this one's for you, Adam

Per PFF, all the cornerbacks graded poorly, so Kenny Golladay's surprisingly light game wasn't the result of one lock down option in the secondary. I haven't reviewed the tape closely, but in looking back at Jones' touchdowns he was typically in man coverage, and he was covered by three different cornerbacks on those four plays. Interestingly for a deep threat, all four of his scores were red zone plays. 

My guess is the Vikings rolled safeties Golladay's way more often than not, or the Lions just liked Jones in the one-on-one matchups he was seeing. Danny Amendola's 11-8-105 on top of Jones' 13-10-93-4 suggests the Vikings were doing something to try to take away Golladay, who went 2-1-21. This type of scheme-related one-game variance happens from time to time, and I'm considering it a one-week outlier for the Lions' passing production — we knew Jones had blowup potential, he's done it plenty throughout his career — as we have a larger sample that shows Golladay as the lead option.

After Kerryon Johnson left early, Ty Johnson was the lead back with J.D. McKissic's role staying mostly unchanged. Ty Johnson would be the player to target if Kerryon misses time.

  • Signal: Olabisi Johnson — should play full snaps if Thielen misses time; Ty Johnson — looks like lead back if Kerryon Johnson misses time
  • Noise: Dalvin Cook — lack of receiving last two games (routes on 68% of dropbacks in both); Marvin Jones — has had blowup games before, isn't suddenly Jerry Rice (this is the hard-hitting analysis you come for)
Week 7
Jaguars 27 - Bengals 17
  • Snap Notes: Seth DeValve: 60% (+19% vs. last week's season high), Ben Koyack: 52% (+33% vs. last week's season high), Josh Oliver: 30% (season debut), Alex Erickson: 94% (+14% vs. last week's season high)
  • Key Stat: Bengals — 34 of 42 targets to three main wide receivers (all three played at least 90% of snaps)

Three of Jacksonville's first six drives started inside their own 10, and that helped limit them to just six first-half points despite four drives of more than 50 yards. The other thing that limited them was getting stuffed at the goal line, as Leonard Fournette couldn't get in from the 1. 

Jacksonville pulled away from Cincinnati in the second half, though, in part thanks to a Yannick Ngakoue interception return for a touchdown. But despite just one offensive touchdown all day against a weak defense, Jacksonville did pile up 460 yards of offense. Predictably, a big chunk of that came from Fournette, who rushed 29 times for 131 yards and added two catches, but didn't reach the end zone despite five green zone touches. Fournette's workload remains extremely strong, and the difference between him and someone like Josh Jacobs is Fournette ran a route on 71% of dropbacks.

D.J. Chark was quiet for the second straight game, but it's not a major concern. All wide receivers have down games, and especially downfield threats when the air yards aren't there, and that is especially true in a game flow like Week 7, where Jacksonville was never really needing to push the ball downfield. While Chris Conley had also been quiet, he's still there, and this was a game where the few downfield shots went his way. Conley went 8-3-83 with 76 air yards while Chark went 4-3-53 with just 25 air yards. And yet, he's still tied for the 10th-most air yards in the NFL for the season. 

Dede Westbrook, the underneath option, made a lot more sense, and he racked up nine targets at an aDOT of just 6.4 and posted a 6-103 receiving line. Part-time player Keelan Cole got the touchdown on one of his two targets. Again, that reads like target variance plus Gardner Minshew not needing to push the ball downfield — Minshew's 5.8 aDOT was his lowest since the partial game he played back in Week 1, and his aDOT hasn't been lower than 7.6 since Week 2. 

With James O'Shaughnessy out but rookie Josh Oliver making his debut, the Jaguars tight end situation is one to monitor. Oliver profiles as a good pass-catcher, and ran 12 routes on 25 snaps but wasn't targeted. Seth DeValve — another athletic tight end with a pass-catching profile — ran 20 routes on 49 snaps. Ben Koyack is more of a blocker, and he ran just five routes on 43 snaps. 

I found Oliver's usage encouraging for his first game, and will be watching to see if it expands. An early third-round pick in the 2019 draft, it wouldn't be surprising if the team works Oliver into a more prominent role and he finds Fantasy relevance. 

While the Rams have started to incorporate Gerald Everett and have gone away from their prior season trends of funneling most of the volume to their three receivers, Zac Taylor's Bengals are still doing things like the Rams of old. We noted earlier this season he brought over the heavy 11 personnel usage from L.A., and box scores like Week 7 remind of when the Rams wouldn't use their tight ends.

Alex Erickson got extended run again as the third wide receiver. Here's what I said on him last week:

"Alex Erickson ran a route on 86% of dropbacks, displacing Damion Willis in three-wide sets. Willis was on early, but was seemingly benched after being called for an offensive pass interference. Neither player is Fantasy relevant."

Lazy analysis on that last sentence given the earlier-season comments about how a spot in three-wide sets in this offense can mean targets. Those are the kinds of signals we're looking for. 

While it would have been tough to play Erickson even in DFS without confirmation of the role, his 14-8-137 receiving line is mostly a reminder that things will bounce around. The last few weeks, Auden Tate has been seeing plenty of work. Tate was the short straw this week with 6-3-65, but that doesn't necessarily mean those target numbers couldn't just flip next week — all three main receivers played at least 90% snap shares.  

Meanwhile, I can't explain Tyler Boyd's disappointing 5-55 line, but 14 targets is 14 targets and I'm still buying his massive volume in the Cooper Kupp role. Outside of the 34 targets sent to those three players, the rest of the Bengals combined for eight targets. 

Three of those went to Giovani Bernard, and just two to Joe Mixon, which is more of the same for Mixon. Mixon did catch a touchdown, but Bernard ran 16 routes to Mixon's 10, and Mixon had just 4 (yes, 4) total yards on 11 touches. As I've said in recent weeks, it's the 11 touches that concern me most as even on good days there hasn't been legitimate touch upside. There's just nothing appealing about Mixon right now. 

  • Signal: Alex Erickson — full-time player in the three-wide scheme right now
  • Noise: D.J. Chark — recent lack of production (downfield targets fluctuate, but he's built a solid full-season opportunity profile to expect them to bounce back)
Week 7
49ers 9 - Washington 0

Typically, weather is overrated, especially rain. It is wind and heavy snow that can really impact a game. But then, there was this game, not helped by Washington's natural grass field. 

Case Keenum only attempted 12 passes while Washington gave Adrian Peterson 20 carries and Wendell Smallwood another five despite being shut out. Keenum's 4.1 aDOT meant a whopping 49 air yards total. So chalk up Terry McLaurin's game to that. Washington had 154 total yards with a 12/26 pass/run ratio. 

Jimmy Garoppolo and San Francisco were better in the sense that they at least threw downfield a bit — Garoppolo actually had a season-high 8.9 aDOT on his 21 passes — but they also had a massive run-heavy play split, at a 21/39 pass/run ratio. They frankly weren't very productive offensively either. Richie James had a 40-yard reception that set up their first field goal; their second came after an Adrian Peterson fumble gave them good field position; they pieced together their third field goal drive on their last possession of the game. 

Maybe the only notable things here were snap counts, as Dante Pettis played a full share with Deebo Samuel out. I'm not sure that's a clear indication he'll play over 90% of the snaps going forward — though he's been trending up for weeks — as Marquise Goodwin also barely played in this game after being evaluated for a concussion early. Kendrick Bourne also played a ton of snaps. 

Then Tevin Coleman had his largest split over Matt Breida since returning, and got the one RB green zone rush, continuing the trend of his usage in close. But it also sort of follows he'd play more in a run-heavy setup given he's been viewed as the primary ball-carrier. 

Bottom line: trying to read too much into the stats in a game played under these conditions is futile. 

  • Signal: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯  (Maybe Coleman's extra work?)
  • Noise: Everything, probably (and perhaps most notably Terry McLaurin's 4 air yards)
Week 7
Colts 30 - Texans 23

The Colts and Texans played one of the rare exciting and Fantasy-friendly games in Week 7, at least for the No. 1 wide receivers. If you're like me and have Will Fuller everywhere, it wasn't so friendly.

Fuller hurt his hamstring after just three snaps, and is set to miss multiple weeks. The Texans have a ready-made replacement in Kenny Stills, though, and Still caught 4-of-5 targets at an aDOT of 13.0 for 105 yards, indicating he'll be used that way. He ran routes on 95% of dropbacks and is a clear add if available. 

Keke Coutee also chipped in three catches on five targets but for just 25 yards at his typically-lower 6.6 aDOT. Both tight ends caught two balls on two targets.

But I'm sort of intentionally burying the lede — we got a classic DeAndre Hopkins game. On 12 targets and 123 air yards, Hopkins put up 9-106-1, and really should have had a second score. 

On a third down midway through the second quarter, Deshaun Watson tried to break free of some pressure but the play was blown dead while a defender on the ground really only had his ankle. Another hit was incoming, but Watson also released the pass just as the whistle sounded and hit Hopkins for a short touchdown. There was some talk that it was to protect Watson, but the logical conclusion of that line of thinking is blowing almost literally every passing play dead before the quarterback might get hit. Come on now. 

At any rate, Hopkins played very well, and with Fuller now out multiple weeks but Stills there to keep the deep field threatened, all the concern about him should be out the window. 

The same holds true for T.Y. Hilton, if there was any concern given his earlier injury issues. Hilton caught a short touchdown and led the Colts with 11 targets and 127 air yards, finishing with a 6-74-1 receiving. Even in a game the Colts led throughout, Jacoby Brissett threw 39 passes, his second-most of the year and a positive sign the Colts might be trusting him to do more. 

Zach Pascal caught 6-of-7 targets for 106 yards and two scores, but he ran routes on just 43% of dropbacks. The Colts didn't sway from what we've seen for several weeks now where they rotate receivers behind Hilton. Even with Parris Campbell out, Chester Rogers and Deon Cain were both very active, and that limits Pascal's upside. Unless his role changes, this will likely go down as Pascal's best game of the year, and he's not someone I'd chase on the waiver wire. 

Eric Ebron also had a big game, but a similar line of thinking holds true for him. His 5-4-70-1 was great and he'll have productive moments, but he ran just 16 routes in a higher-volume game, a season-low 38% of dropbacks. 

But this catch was ridiculous. 

The passing volume wasn't great news for Marlon Mack, but also may have been brought on by Mack finding nowhere to run, as he gained just 44 yards on 18 carries. Mack's running a decent amount of routes, but not a lot, and has a bit of a TRAP back vibe. 

But not as much as Carlos Hyde. With the Texans trailing throughout, they mostly abandoned the ground game, and Duke Johnson out-snapped Hyde considerably. Johnson saw five targets and was open for a potential short touchdown but Watson missed him. He caught just two passes and still hasn't shown enough to be worth trusting, so he's just a bench stash as mostly a handcuff. Hyde remains a TRAP back with limited upside who will be startable at times but can get scripted out in situations like this. 

  • Signal: Kenny Stills — routes on 95% of dropbacks, clear add in Will Fuller's absence 
  • Noise: Zach Pascal — routes on just 43% of dropbacks, unlikely to repeat the 6-106-2 performance without a role change
Week 7
Cardinals 27 - Giants 21
  • Snap Notes: Chase Edmonds: 94% (+54% vs. previous season high), David Johnson 5% (apparently only active for emergency, though he started), Trent Sherfield: 82% (-2% vs. season high), Damiere Byrd: 80% (+4% vs. season average), Saquon Barkley: 86% (return from injury)
  • Key Stat: Chase Edmonds — 94% snap share, 29 touches, 150 total yards (Arizona — 245 total yards)

This is not really an exaggeration: Chase Edmonds was the Arizona Cardinals offense in Week 7. After David Johnson started the game, Edmonds immediately entered and played throughout, notching a 94% snap share, rushing 27 times for 126 yards and three touchdowns and adding two catches for 24 more yards. 

Meanwhile, Kyler Murray threw for 104(!) yards, completing 14-of-21 passes. Only one player had more receiving yards than Edmonds' 24, and that was Pharoh Cooper at 29. 

That's pretty much all there was to this game for Arizona. Some of the weather that crushed Washington made its way to New York, and Arizona found something that worked on the ground and they went back to it nearly every play. Their defense cooperated, giving them short fields with three turnovers and eight sacks of Giants rookie Daniel Jones. Edmonds touched the ball 29 times while the rest of the Cardinals combined for 23 touches, three of which were kneeldowns by Murray and seven more were Murray scrambles (he had 28 rushing yards). 

Going forward, one has to imagine Edmonds will see a little more work than he typically did prior to this week, but there's almost no way he just took the job from DJ. But in terms of what we'd hope to see, there's potential here for him to carve out an Austin Ekeler-like role to DJ's Melvin (at least the 2017 and 2018 versions of those roles). 

The wide receiver snaps keep bouncing around, with Trent Sherfield and Damiere Byrd playing a bunch in Week 7 alongside Larry Fitzgerald. I didn't see or hear of an injury to KeeSean Johnson, whose snaps disappeared this week. He hasn't been very productive so it could have been a benching. Cooper and Andy Isabella continued playing limited roles. None of them did anything and when Christian Kirk is back it'll go back to him and Fitzgerald atop the target totem pole. 

Saquon Barkley returned and looked mostly healthy, playing an 86% snap share. He hobbled off at one point but returned, and after a slow start he found some room on the ground. He scored from seven yards out in the early part of the fourth quarter to finish with an 18-72-1 rushing line, but added just 8 receiving yards on three catches (five targets). 

In one of the more shocking outcomes of Week 7, Evan Engram busted against a Cardinals defense that typically can't cover tight ends. Engram lined up inline on 40 of his 58 snaps and was in the slot 15 times and out wide for three, so it's not as simple as saying "Engram's not really a tight end." But the weather wasn't great, and the Cardinals had Patrick Peterson back from suspension which may have had a positive impact on their scheme overall.

Jones took the eight sacks and wasn't able to get the ball to Darius Slayton down the field. Outside of Golden Tate's 11-6-80 it was a little production from each of Cody Latimer and Bennie Fowler and a 28-yard touchdown for No. 2 TE Rhett Ellison

  • Signal: Saquon Barkley — fully healthy; Golden Tate — second straight game with big volume (still need to see how the split shakes out with Sterling Shepard back, though)
  • Noise: Kyler Murray — 21 pass attempts, 104 yards; Chase Edmonds — that huge workload
Week 7
Bills 31 - Dolphins 21

In typical Ryan Fitzpatrick fashion, Miami went up to Buffalo and actually gave the Bills a game. The Dolphins led at halftime, then Fitzpatrick threw a back-breaking interception in the end zone in the third quarter; then Fitzpatrick cut the lead to three on an 11-yard touchdown scramble with just under two minutes left late in the fourth. It was FitzMagic at its finest, complete with the Bills running back the ensuing onside kick to win by 10.  

Fitzpatrick's willingness to sling the ball around was evident, and it's good news for DeVante Parker and Preston Williams first and foremost. Parker caught five passes for 55 yards and a score on 10 targets and 100 air yards, while Williams was more of the downfield threat in this one with 115 air yards on eight targets, and his 6-82 line was a pretty solid day considering the matchup. Those two guys both have high aDOTs for the season — Williams is at 13.1 while Parker's way up at 17.1 — and Fitzpatrick has averaged 10.6 yards of depth per throw relative to Josh Rosen's 7.9, so Fitzpatrick being under center and his connection with those two this week indicates there might be some value here. 

Mark Walton got another start and led the backfield in snaps and rush attempts, while Kenyan Drake led in routes run and out-targeted him 4-to-1. Kalen Ballage barely played again (five snaps) and yet he also got another green zone rush, converting a touchdown for the second straight week from 3 yards out. Walton got a later carry from the 4, the only other green zone touch for these backs, but Ballage is involved enough there to be a problem. As I've said, I don't mess with timeshares in bad backfields. 

Devin Singletary returned for Buffalo to a 39% snap share. In Week 1, he played a strong 68% snap share, and he got hurt in Week 2, finishing that game at 33%. Frank Gore has since taken over the backfield, so it will be interesting to see if Singletary can work his way back to a share north of 50%. 

Singletary rushed seven times for 26 yards and ran 12 routes (a far cry from the 38 he ran in Week 1) but wasn't targeted. Gore matched his 12 routes run and caught a pass, adding 55 rushing yards on 11 carries. Singletary's the only guy I'd play in this backfield, but we need to see him wrestle more of the work away from the veteran.

Josh Allen limited mistakes but also limited big plays, completing 16-of-26 passes for 202 yards and two scores, while adding 32 yards on the ground. John Brown was the top target, as would be expected, catching a 20-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter and finishing 6-5-83-1 with 105 air yards. Cole Beasley also scored, but totaled just 16 receiving yards on six short-area targets. 

Duke Williams ran a decent route share of 63% and appears to be solidified in a role, but in games like this the passing offense can't support many Fantasy-relevant statlines. Brown was the only receiver with more than 30 yards receiving.

  • Signal: Mark Walton — lead back, but a TRAP back with Drake taking passing work and Ballage green zone touches; DeVante Parker/Preston Williams — bump up with Fitzpatrick under center willing to chuck it downfield
  • Noise: Devin Singletary — hard to know whether his snap share was limited in his first game back
Week 7
Titans 23 - Chargers 20
  • Snap Notes: A.J. Brown: 61% (-4% vs. season high), Jonnu Smith: 83% (+15% vs. previous season high), Delanie Walker: 8% (ankle injury), Austin Ekeler: 59% (+14% vs. Week 6 season low), Melvin Gordon: 53% (-7% vs. Week 6 season high), Hunter Henry: 91% (+25% vs. Week 6 return from injury)
  • Key Stat: Austin Ekeler — split out wide or in the slot on 20 snaps (+7 vs. previous season high)

The Titans and Chargers played a wild one in Week 7, and Los Angeles' backfield was a huge story. 

But let's start with Tennessee. Derrick Henry went 22-90-1 and caught one pass. His touchdown came from 11 yards out and he had another carry from the 9, so technically only one green zone touch but essentially two. He's obviously their option in close, but as always his 23 touches featured a ton of low-value rushes. I shouldn't knock 108 total yards and a score, except 17.8 PPR points is not as many points as Austin Ekeler's 25.5 and Ekeler only had 12 touches, with seven HVT, so actually that's a pretty good example of why I hate TRAP backs — 17.8 points is boring and 25.5 is fun. 

A.J. Brown had a solid game with 8-6-64 but ran routes on 63% of dropbacks. I got excited a couple of weeks ago when he spiked to 74%, but he fell to 61% last week and now this. Brown and Tajae Sharpe's route percentages add up to either exactly 100% or very close to it every week, so it seems they are playing the same role in the offense. Sharpe scored late, finishing 3-2-19-1, and I'm writing all of this because I want those stats on Brown's ledger. 

Corey Davis, on the other hand, runs a full route share every week, and his 7-6-80-1 in Ryan Tannehill's first start is a positive. The team volume concerns are still there — Tannehill threw just 29 passes — but both of these wide receivers saw an uptick with Delanie Walker leaving the game very early, and if Walker misses any time, they'd make for reasonable options against Tampa next week. Jonnu Smith also played heavily with Walker out, and caught all three of his targets for 64 yards, while Adam Humphires went 4-4-4. Tannehill played an efficient game, cresting 300 yards on 23-of-29 passing, and breathed a little life into the passing attack. 

Last week, I basically promised a squeaky wheel game for Keenan Allen, and he saw 11 targets and a Week 7 high 209 air yards, but a couple of drops (or maybe not-really-drops-but-not-caught-balls-that-would-have-been-tough-catches) and Philip Rivers missing him a couple times left him with an inefficient 4-61 receiving day. The volume was a great sign, obviously. 

Behind him, Hunter Henry went for 8-6-97 with 96 air yards, which is all good, while Mike Williams had a bit of a down game at 6-4-47 with just 48 air yards. But that's most of your downfield weaponry, except... Austin Ekeler.

I mentioned the value of downfield running back targets earlier, and Ekeler won on a stop-and-go outside against a linebacker for a 41-yard touchdown reception. But he was also lined up outside or in the slot on 20 snaps overall, and saw several targets on slants. If the answer to the Chargers backfield dilemma is Ekeler out wide, that's huge for Ekeler's value. He finished with an 8-7-118-1 line that didn't require any additional rushing work, which is good because he only ran for 7 yards on five carries.

Ekeler also appeared to score the go-ahead touchdown late, only to have it reversed by replay. Personally, I didn't see an angle that definitively showed the ball wasn't across the goal line when Ekeler's backside hit the ground. Melvin Gordon would get two shots from the 1-yard line, and the first was also called a touchdown and overturned on review, though he was definitely down. Interestingly, he lost the ball after he was down but pulled it quickly back into his own arms. That's interesting, because he'd also fumbled earlier in the game, and because he also fumbled again on his next goal-line try, and this one went to the Titans, which sealed the 23-20 loss. 

Gordon finished with 29 total yards on 18 touches, and just hasn't looked like himself. And while his role seems secure — he got six high-value touches between two receptions and four green zone rushes including a short touchdown catch — he's really struggling to do much. The value of the workload wins out for now, but it's possible Ekeler starts siphoning off more work, and that may have already started. Gordon ran 27 routes in Week 6, more than Ekeler's 20, but he ran just 12 in Week 7 while Ekeler played extensively in the Chargers' comeback attempt, out-snapping Gordon overall and running twice as many routes (24). 

  • Signal: Austin Ekeler — lined up outside, played a lot in comeback attempt, Chargers finding ways to keep him on the field
  • Noise: Keenan Allen — fade the inefficiency, buy the volume
Week 7
Ravens 30 - Seahawks 16
  • Snap Notes: Mark Ingram: 51% (matches season average), Chris Carson: 89% (+5% vs. previous season high), Jacob Hollister: 51% (+15% vs. last week's debut), Luke Willson: 47% (-22% vs. last week's season high)
  • Key Stat: Lamar Jackson — 14 carries, 116 rush yards, rush touchdown

I'm going to keep harping on the same point as long as it's relevant, but as long as Lamar Jackson the runner does the type of phenomenal stuff he did in Week 7, it's pretty bad for everyone else. Quarterback runs are kind of the worst play in Fantasy, expect for that quarterback of course. No one catches a pass and the all-important running back isn't racking up touches. 

Now, in real life, it's awesome, and the Seahawks clearly couldn't stop it. But Jackson took off 14 times, which meant he only threw 20 passes. And in part because his favorite target Mark Andrews dropped three passes, he only completed nine. 

Andrews finished with a 2-39 receiving line on eight targets. He once again dominated the receiving volume with Marquise Brown out, but did little with it. Miles Boykin caught a 50-yard pass early, and finished with two catches for 55, but no one else had more than a single catch or 20 receiving yards on the day. 

And Mark Ingram? He rushed just 12 times for 46 yards, along with a catch. He'd be a bit better in these types of games if Gus Edwards wasn't there to take eight carries for 35 yards, especially since Edwards got the only green zone rush a week after getting three of four (Ingram got the fourth). Ingram got all eight of the team's green zone rushes from Week 2 to Week 5, so it's not a great sign that Edwards is involved again in that area. 

Russell Wilson threw 41 times but was uncharacteristically inefficient, completing just 20 passes and totaling just 241 yards and one score, plus an early interception — his first of the year — that was returned for a touchdown. It was as bad an interception as it gets. 

The receiving volume was fairly typical, led by Tyler Lockett and D.K. Metcalf with Jaron Brown also involved. Lockett's 7-5-61-1 was the best line, while Metcalf led with nine targets and 108 air yards but hauled in just four for 53. Brown went 6-3-60.

The tight ends were perhaps the most notable thing, as Jacob Hollister ran 26 routes to Luke Willson's 12, and Hollister now appears to be the new tight end to watch here in place of Will Dissly, though Ed Dickson looms on I.R. Hollister saw six targets but caught just three for 20 yards, while Willson had a single target and no catches. 

Chris Carson played a season-high 89% of snaps and got his typical 21 carries and caught 3-of-5 targets. He amassed just 74 total yards but his workload is only strengthening. 

  • Signal: Jacob Hollister — lead receiving tight end for Seattle, but Ed Dickson looms
  • Noise: Mark Andrews — drops were uncharacteristic, volume still there
Week 7
Saints 36 - Bears 25
  • Snap Notes: Latavius Murray: 83% (+41% vs. last week's season high), Anthony Miller: 75% (-2% vs. last week's season high), Taylor Gabriel: 58% (return from injury), Tarik Cohen: 55% (+4% vs. season average), David Montgomery: 46% (-7% vs. season average)
  • Key Stat: Bears — 54/7 pass/run ratio

New Orleans went into Chicago and took it to the Bears, and it was 36-10 until the Bears put together a fourth-quarter drive for a touchdown, managed the first successful onside kick recovery in the NFL this year, and then scored again. 

Even with Alvin Kamara out, the Saints mostly followed their blueprint. Teddy Bridgewater's 7.4 aDOT was a season high, but still featured plenty of short passing. Last week I had this to say:

"For New Orleans, it was more underneath throwing from Teddy Bridgewater, and the running back tandem and Michael Thomas dominated the production. Latavius Murray took a short pass for a long touchdown, only to have it called back, while Thomas and Alvin Kamara were the main receiving options with eight and seven receptions. 

Ted Ginn did rack up 119 air yards, and has been playing a big role with Tre'Quan Smith struggling to get healthy. There are reports Drew Brees could be back as soon as Week 8, and that will certainly change the shape of the offense in a way that could make Ginn relevant, assuming Brees is healthy enough to throw downfield."

Bridgewater went downfield to Thomas a bit, as Thomas' 11.1 aDOT was a season high for him. He racked up 122 air yards on 11 targets, posting a ho-hum (for him) 9-131 line. Ted Ginn also saw some deep shots, with a big 18.2 aDOT, but brought in just 2-of-5 targets for 48 yards. The rest of the team combined for 15 targets and just 45 air yards.

Latavius Murray was the focal point, rushing 27 times for 119 and two touchdowns, plus a 6-5-31 receiving line. Murray dominated the touches with Kamara out and racked up 10 high-value touches, tops in Week 7. This was an impressive game from all sides, but when Brees and Kamara (and I suppose Jared Cook) are back the offensive opportunity obviously changes. 

The broadcast noted that before their final two drives, Chicago had just 120 total yards. They finished with 252, but more than half of that came in the game's final five minutes, with the Saints playing off a bit. 

Mitchell Trubisky really struggled, and finished with just 251 yards on 54 attempts, a putrid 4.6 YPA. Allen Robinson got peppered, and got home late to finish at 16-10-87-1. Javon Wims caught the other score, but he returned to a part-time role with the return of Taylor Gabriel, and it was Wims' only catch. Gabriel wasn't very involved either, but Anthony Miller's elevated role stuck around, and he caught 5-of-9 targets (112 air yards) for 64 yards. 

Tarik Cohen started and ran the ball on the game's first play. The Bears came out throwing, though, and then got scripted out of running a bit, and wound up with just seven rush attempts as a team. Cohen played more snaps and ran more routes than David Montgomery for the second-straight game, catching 9-of-12 targets for a whopping 19 yards, while Montgomery caught his only two targets for 13. They combined for five carries and 16 yards. 

  • Signal: Anthony Miller — back to being a full-time player after wonky playing time early in the year
  • Noise: Bears — really struggling offensively, hard to get a read on any of it
Week 7
Cowboys 37 - Eagles 10
  • Snap Notes: Amari Cooper: 80% (left last week with injury), Randall Cobb: 47% (-25% vs. season average, missed last week to injury), Tony Pollard: 29% (-3% vs. season high), Tavon Austin: 20% (-73% vs. last week's season high), Miles Sanders: 54% (+5% vs. previous season high), Jordan Howard: 38% (-25% vs. last week's season high)
  • Key Stat: Ezekiel Elliott — 8 high-value touches

The Cowboys coasted to a win Sunday night, taking a 14-0 lead six minutes into the game after two early Eagles fumbles and pushing that to 27-7 by halftime. The Eagles got a field goal out of their first second-half drive, but it took 12 plays and nearly six minutes, and the Cowboys followed up with a 13-play drive that took over seven minutes. 

When the Eagles got the ball for the second time in the second half, it was already the early fourth quarter, and their next two drives ended with a quick interception and a quick botched snap turnover. In the end, Carson Wentz threw just 26 passes in the heavy negative script, while Dak Prescott threw just 27 times himself while protecting a lead. 

So receiving volume was down on both sides, and it was an Ezekiel Elliott game as the Cowboys' lead back racked up a 22-111-1 rushing line and six receptions on seven targets for 36 more yards. His eight high-value touches were third most on the week.

Though Tavon Austin scored on an early pitch from 20 yards out, he returned to a reserve role with Randall Cobb back in the lineup; Austin played a 20% snap share after 93% last week. Amari Cooper was basically the only productive receiver with a 5-5-106 line and 89 air yards. Austin got one target, a downfield shot. Cobb and Jason Witten had modest games, and Blake Jarwin got the receiving touchdown at the goal line.

That meant a down game for Michael Gallup, and much of that can be attributed to Dallas not needing to push the ball downfield. This was the first game where he's had fewer than 70 air yards, and he's still averaging a strong 85 per game despite the 24 in Week 7 weighing him down. Having missed time earlier in the season and coming off back-to-back down games, he's a great buy low, as he hasn't done quite enough yet this season to back up how valuable his role appears to be in this offense that will push it downfield most weeks.

Jordan Howard started, but the Eagles' inability to sustain first-half drives and negative script meant Miles Sanders actually led the backfield in snaps by a considerable margin. Sanders continues to have receiving value, but while he ran routes on a season-high 61% of dropbacks, all three of his receptions came in the fourth quarter. Boston Scott also got some work but it was all late as Philadelphia waved the white flag. 

Howard's lack of routes means he remains a TRAP back, but he also doesn't appear to be going anywhere as the early-down runner, and Sanders' lead in snaps was script-related. So while Sanders' receiving gives him more upside, there's not a ton of value in this backfield right now while we wait and see if Sanders can get consistent playing time. 

Each of Alshon Jeffery, Zach Ertz and Nelson Agholor had between 85-90 air yards on either four or five targets, and each caught only two passes for no more than 40 yards. So, decent volume, but little production. Dallas Goedert led the receiving corps with a 4-4-69-1 line and continues to play big snaps with DeSean Jackson out. 

  • Signal: Eagles RBs — pretty defined early-down (Howard) and passing-downs (Sanders) roles
  • Noise: Michael Gallup — lack of air yards; Tavon Austin — got a few high-value plays but played just 20% of the snaps
Week 7
Patriots 33 - Jets 0
  • Snap Notes: Phillip Dorsett: 88% (-4% vs. previous season high), Ben Watson: 76% (debut), James White: 54% (+2% vs. previous season high), Sony Michel: 38% (-3% vs. season average)
  • Key Stat: Sony Michel — 5 green zone rush attempts (league-high 19 for the season)

New England hammered the Jets, which makes it pretty interesting that James White played a season-high snap share while Sony Michel didn't even reach his season average. I can't pretend to make out the Patriots' backfield, but White's snaps are always a bit elevated when Rex Burkhead it out, so that's part of it. And Michel converted three carries from 3 yards or closer, doubling his season touchdown total and really cashing in on what has been a big green zone role all year. 

But the experiment with Michel running more routes seems to be fading, as he ran just seven even with Burkhead inactive. Brandon Bolden ran 14 and had four catches on four targets, while White obviously led the backfield in this department, catching 7-of-8 targets for 59 yards on his 29 routes. 

Ben Watson was active in his debut after being cut and re-signed, running routes on 60% of dropbacks and seeing five targets. He caught three for 18 yards. 

Julian Edelman was the go-to guy, of course, catching 7-of-12 targets but for only 47 yards. White actually led in receiving yards, while Phillip Dorsett and Jakobi Meyers both saw solid work but weren't exceptionally productive — Dorsett at least scored. The thing here is Josh Gordon was out and should be back soon, N'Keal Harry is practicing and could factor in, and then the team also acquired Mohamed Sanu for a second-rounder Tuesday so he will certainly be involved. Dorsett and Meyers have little value as this whole receiver group will be shaken up over the next month. 

Sam Darnold was infamously caught on mic "seeing ghosts," and he completed just 11 passes all night for 86 yards on 32 attempts, a putrid completion percentage. He also completed four more passes to the Patriots. 

There really isn't much to take away from this Jets performance. It was an obviously bad game. They stuck to their main 11 personnel, at least until the game was out of hand. Robby Anderson and Demaryius Thomas had eight and nine targets and 180 and 141 air yards, but neither was productive, obviously, if Darnold couldn't complete many passes. Crowder caught 4-of-5 underneath throws for 26 yards.  

Le'Veon Bell saw four targets but caught just one, though he rushed well. After the Jets looked great in Darnold's return, the buy window might have opened back up on guys like Bell because the Jets' schedule over the next two months gets wildly easier. 

  • Signal: Ben Watson — strong route share; Sony Michel — massive green zone role
  • Noise: Jets — they won't be this bad against their upcoming schedule