The Week 7 NFL slate means fantasy owners will be without the services of some of the league’s top star power.
Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay wide receiver Davante Adams and Pittsburgh wide receiver Antonio Brown have accumulated at least 100 fantasy points apiece in PPR standard scoring leagues this season. None will be available, as the Green Bay Packers, Oakland Raiders, Pittsburgh Steelers and Seattle Seahawks all have byes.
To help you prioritize your waiver targets, we’re updating our top free agents after each round of games every Sunday this season. What follows are the top early targets from the 1 p.m. games, as well as the Thursday night game.
Most of these players should be available in at least 30 percent of leagues using a 12-team, point-per-reception, or PPR, scoring format. So if you see one of these guys on your wire, you are going to want to put in a claim for this week.
(UPDATE 10/16) Ito Smith, running back, Atlanta Falcons (available in 92 percent of leagues)
With Devonta Freeman heading to injured reserve, Ito Smith becomes a must-add, but the judge has been serving up justice this season.
He doesn’t put up big yardage, but the guy gets into the end zone. During Sunday’s game, the fourth-rounder became the first rookie in franchise history to rack up a rushing touchdown in three consecutive games. He finished with a career-high 11 carries in the win.
Smith has seen action in all six games. Entering this weekend’s slate, Smith had caught all eight of his catchable targets, according to Pro Football Focus. Among rookies, only Kerryon Johnson, Nyheim Hines and Saquon Barkley had accumulated more receiving yards.
Smith has put up at least seven points in standard scoring leagues over the last three games, making good use of his newfound place in the Falcons’ offense.
Smith next gets to face the New York Giants defense, which has allowed opponents to score on 47 percent of team drives this season, the second-highest rate in the league and ranks in the bottom 10 in yards allowed per rushing attempt. Only five teams have allowed more rushing touchdowns than the Giants.
C.J. Uzomah, tight end, Cincinnati Bengals (available in 86 percent of leagues)
First, Tyler Eifert went out with a broken ankle. Then, Tyler Kroft went down with a broken foot. Luckily, there weren’t any more players with the first name of Tyler to suit up on the line.
There may be a tight end curse in Cincinnati, but Uzomah figures to be the guy who will reap the rewards in the short term. Cincinnati is in the midst of a four-year high in tight end target percentage at 18.9.
His previous career high for single-game receptions was five, but Uzomah tied a team high with four (for 36 yards) by halftime on Sunday.
Entering this weekend, Uzomah’s season-high in fantasy points was 7.9, but that figures to spike given that he’s now the starter.
This Sunday, Uzomah gets to face the Kansas City Chiefs defense, which is among the nine worst in the league in drive score percentage (41.5 percent). Only one defense has contributed fewer points this season. The Chiefs have allowed more passing first downs (90) than any other team and rank in the bottom 10 in the league in net yards allowed per pass attempt (6.9), which sets the stage for a breakout performance by Uzomah.
Sam Darnold, quarterback, New York Jets (available in 94 percent of leagues)
Darnold had a career-high three passing touchdowns in Week 5 against Denver, then followed it up by leading the Jets to a roundhouse kick of a victory over the Indianapolis Colts.
The rookie was dazzlingly efficient, completing 24 of his 30 throws for 280 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
Darnold next gets to face the Minnesota Vikings defense, which has allowed 10 passing touchdowns this season and has allowed opponents to score on 43.9 percent of team drives this season, the fifth-highest rate in the league.
Tyrell Williams, wide receiver, San Diego Chargers (available in 97 percent of leagues)
Williams has gone berserk over the last three games, racking up at least three receptions for 48 yards in each outing. On Sunday, he put up the best game of his career: Three receptions for 118 yards and two touchdowns.
There’s perhaps no receiver in the league having a better season when it comes to catch rate on tight-window throws.
The Chargers, as they’ve been known to do, have targeted wide receivers at a rate higher than any other team in the league (72.3 percent).
Plus, when it gets down near the goal line, the Chargers are prone to pass; only four quarterbacks have attempted more throws inside the 10-yard line than Philip Rivers.
This Sunday, Williams and the Chargers take on the Tennessee Titans.
Albert Wilson, wide receiver, Miami Dolphins (available in 94 percent of leagues)
Wilson shredded the Chicago Bears’ vaunted defense in Sunday’s 31-28 overtime victory.
Wilson — who finished with six receptions, 155 yards and two touchdowns — became the first Dolphins player since 1994 to put up at least 150 receiving yards and two receiving touchdowns in a game, according to ESPN Stats and Information.
The fifth-year player has had at least four receptions and six targets in three consecutive games. On Sunday, he accounted for a season-high nine targets and showcased flashes of why the franchise sought his help to replace Jarvis Landry.
There’s perhaps no receiver in the league who forces missed tackles at a higher rate than Wilson.
Wilson and the Dolphins next play the Detroit Lions, which has one of the worst pass defenses in the league.
Cole Beasley, wide receiver, Dallas Cowboys (available in 91 percent of leagues)
Beasley seemingly subsists on a diet of 5-yard routes.
But look at his nine-catch, 101-yard, two-touchdown performance Sunday. It shows what he can do if the Cowboys don’t establish the run game. Mind you, his best game of the season just came against one of the league’s top-rated pass defenses.
Beasley has registered at least five targets in four of his six games this season, and ranks among the 40 best receivers in Defense-adjusted Yards Above Replacement and Defense-adjusted Value Over Average.
Beasley and the Cowboys next play the Redskins, whose pass defense is above average to elite. But given that Beasley’s season-best performance came against the Jaguars, it’s safe to say that the level of competition won’t be too high for him to meet.
Indianapolis Colts defense
Just hear me out.
Allowing 37 points in each of the last three games is suboptimal. But there’s a case to be made that owners this season should simply pick up whichever defense is scheduled to face the Buffalo Bills in a given week.
In Week 7, that’s the Colts.
Entering this weekend, Buffalo was allowing the most points to fantasy defenses: An NFL-high 1.4 interceptions and 4.4 sacks. In a 20-13 loss to the Houston Texans, Josh Allen was sacked twice and Nathan Peterman threw two interceptions, including a pick-six with 1:23 remaining, which all but decided the game.
There’s simply no offense in the league like that of the Bills; one that appears destined to implode on every given play. They’re the embodiment of Murphy’s law.
It’s true that the Indianapolis Colts are not a very good football team. It’s also true that the Buffalo Bills are a far worse one, especially on the offensive side of the ball.
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