Fantasy Football Week 7 wish list: Can Antonio Brown still be a star?

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Week 7 Rankings: Standard | PPR

The running back position is a mess, multiple starting quarterbacks are injured, and roughly half of our preseason top-10 wide receivers are looking like busts right about now. Nearly half of the season is in the books, and so much is still up in the air, let’s look at the biggest questions I want answered this week.

Can
Antonio Brown
still dominate without
Ben Roethlisberger
?


Brown Bears
has been arguably the NFL’s best wide receiver over the last four seasons, and he has continued his strong play this season, leading the NFL with five touchdown passes while ranking second in Fantasy points per game at the position. However, he has never caught a touchdown pass from anyone but Roethlisberger in his career, and he really struggled in the four games Roethlisberger was unable to play last season, averaging 58.8 yards with no scores on 4.3 catches per game.

That isn’t to say Brown is a product of Roethlisberger, any more than we could say Roethlisberger is a product of Brown. Both are supremely skilled players who benefit from each other’s presence. At least this time, Brown and
Landry Jones
have some experience playing together from last season, which could prove valuable. Still, it’s hard to view Brown as one of the top receivers in the game as long as Roethlisberger is out.

My recommendation: You can’t bench Brown, but you need to prepare for a few disappointing weeks.

Who will get the backfield work for the
Green Bay Packers
?

While it hasn’t been confirmed, it sure doesn’t sound like
Eddie Lacy
is going to be able to play this week. Wide receiver
Ty Montgomery
lined up in the backfield 21 times in Week 6 and caught a bunch of passes from
Aaron Rodgers
, but the Packers added
Knile Davis
via trade and
Don Jackson
from the practice squad to provide help in the backfield. The question is, will either see enough playing time this week to be worth using Thursday against the Bears? I’m pretty skeptical, and either way, figuring out which one might seems like too much of a headache.

My recommendation: Montgomery could have some appeal in PPR leagues, but I would rather avoid the whole situation until we see who gets what kind of playing time. .

Can the Saints keep rolling on the road?

The Saints offense put up 41 points on the Panthers in Week 6 and, though they did it in a sort of frustrating way — a
Coby Fleener
rushing touchdown? Really? — it was nice to see
Drew Brees
tear apart a defense after he managed just 191 yards in Week 4 against the Chargers.

When they are in the friendly confines of the Superdome, you can feel pretty comfortable starting
Brandin Cooks
,
Willie Snead
and
Michael Thomas
as well as Fleener, because Brees is so good he can support all of them. On the road, however, their offense has never played as well, and Brees is averaging just 219 passing yards in two previous road games this season. This is a pretty tough matchup, which puts those Saints’ position players in some doubt.

My recommendation: It’s nearly impossible to justify sitting Brees, but everyone else is a question mark. Cooks and Fleener are probably the easiest to start, with Thomas and Snead more like Flex plays.

Which Chiefs’ running back will get the work?

We thought last week would be when
Jamaal Charles
took the job back from
Spencer Ware
, but Ware had other thoughts. Charles ultimately played just 15 snaps to Ware’s 40, while Ware racked up 131 yards on the ground and 32 through the air, and just generally looked like the much more effective runner. Maybe Charles will break through as he gets more and more comfortable playing on his surgically repaired knee, but at this point, Ware looks like the back to own in Kansas City.

My recommendation: Charles could still emerge as the go-to guy and is worth starting against the Saints, but Ware looks like a must-start.

Can
Golden Tate
build on his breakout?

I was pretty much done with Tate, who earned a mid-game benching a few weeks back and hadn’t topped 41 yards all season entering Week 6. So, of course, he went off for one of the best games of his career, hauling in eight of 10 passes for 165 yards and a score in Week 6, his first 100-yard game since 2014. That kind of upends what we’ve come to expect from Tate, who has fallen on hard times since his huge 2014 season.

Tate did much of his damage last week after the catch, which has been a typical sight in a Detroit offense build more on short, quick passes than just about any in the NFL these days. However, Tate and
Matthew Stafford
did connect for 61 yards on a go route in the third quarter Sunday, a route that has become more part of Tate’s game this season; he has already been targeted on seven such routes, after just eight all last season. Tate has been held in check for far too long, but the Lions may be letting him get loose now.

My recommendation: Tate is still a risky play, but it’s going to be hard to bench him after leaving all those points on the bench last week. .

Can
Geno Smith
give the Jets anything?

It would be hard to play worse than
Ryan Fitzpatrick
has this season. With five touchdowns to 11 interceptions, Fitzpatrick’s benching this week was well deserved. On the other hand, Smith has averaged just 6.8 yards per pass attempt in 29 career starts, with more interceptions (36) than touchdowns (27), so we’re about to find out if a quarterback can play worse than Fitzpatrick.

At this point,
Brandon Marshall
is the only player on this Jets’ offense you definitely want to start, and even he has to be a question mark with his numbers down across the board. He has never really played with Smith, so we don’t know what their rapport looks like. Let’s just hope Smith can get him the ball.

My recommendation: Start Marshall vs. Baltimore, and nobody else on this offense.

Can the Cardinals’ passing game get on track?

The Cardinals featured the most efficient passing offense in the NFL last season, as they led the league with 7.8 yards per dropback. That allowed them to finish second in the NFL in passing yards despite the 20th-most pass attempts overall. That trend has reversed itself so far this season, as they are actually sixth in pass attempts through six games and just 15th in passing yards.

The absence of
Carson Palmer
for one game helps explain some of that, but not all — Palmer’s completion percentage, touchdown rate, interception rate and yards per attempt have all moved in the wrong direction this season. The Cardinals haven’t had one reliable Fantasy receiver as a result.
Larry Fitzgerald
comes closest — and he has three games with six or fewer Fantasy points — but a matchup against the Seahawks isn’t going to help.

My recommendation: I’m not even sure if Fitzgerald is worth starting this week, but he would be the only receiver I can even think to start. This might be a stay-away game for everyone but
David Johnson
in Arizona.

Can
C.J. Anderson
keep his job?

Anderson has totally dominated playing time for the Broncos overall, outsnapping
Devontae Booker
284 to 98 through six games. However, the share has been a bit more equal lately, as Booker has given the Broncos’ a spark in the running game they have mostly lacked since Week 1 with Anderson. Anderson did outsnap Booker 57-15 in Week 6, but Booker still outgained him on the ground 46-37.

Anderson got off to a slow start last season before dominating in the second half of the season, but he ceded plenty of playing time to
Ronnie Hillman
, making both Fantasy relevant. If Booker can keep carving his role out, we could see yet another timeshare in Denver, with bad consequences for Anderson’s Fantasy value.

My recommendation: You probably don’t need to sit Anderson — or start Booker — in Week 7, but Anderson probably isn’t a must-start RB anymore either.

Can
Melvin Gordon
keep finding the end zone?

Gordon’s breakout season has been fueled by a propensity for the end zone, as he ranks fifth among all running backs in Fantasy points but just 14th in rushing yards. Gordon is receiving a healthy workload, but he really hasn’t proved he can be a consistent Fantasy option without getting into the end zone. He has fewer than 80 all-purpose yards in four of six games so far.

If the Chargers’ offense can keep humming — third in points per game — Gordon has a chance to keep finding the end zone. If things start to go south, Gordon could tumble down the RB rankings. He currently sits at just 3.4 yards per carry, with just one reception over the past two games.

My recommendation: You can’t sit a running back who gets nearly 20 touches per game, but Gordon certainly looks like an obvious sell-high.

Can
Allen Robinson
get the big plays?

Robinson is really lucky
DeAndre Hopkins
is around and was drafted ahead of him because he would be getting a lot more heat for his slow start if not. Robinson is on pace for nearly 500 fewer yards than he managed in his breakout 2015 campaign, and he doesn’t really have a changed role to blame like Hopkins does. Robinson is on pace for 150 targets after garnering 151 of them last season, but has seen both his catch rate (51.1 percent) and yards per catch (12.0) drop.

Robinson made his impact felt in a big way as a deep receiver, hauling in 19 of 46 targets more than 20 yards down the field, for 672 yards and three touchdowns. This season, however, he has caught just one such pass for 35 yards and no scores.
Blake Bortles
hasn’t played well, which is hurting Robinson, but he needs to start making some plays down the field.

My recommendation: It’s hard to sit someone like Robinson because he only needs one play to make you regret it.



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