Depending on your league’s playoff format, we are exactly half way through the fantasy football regular season. No matter where you currently sit in the standings, there is still plenty of time to climb out of a hole, bolster your lead on top of the leaderboard, or anything else in between.
So, let’s get into some strategies.
For those sitting at the top of your league — likely in the 5-2 to 7-0 range — congratulations on a strong start. But just because you sit at the top of your league in the last week of October does not mean you will be raising your league’s championship trophy in January. There is work to do.
First things first, find and pickup your best running back’s handcuff. We’ve already seen backup running backs forced into starting roles as starters such as Christian McCaffrey, Dalvin Cook, Saquon Barkley, Nick Chubb, and more have all missed time due to injuries. Finding a true workhorse running back is already one of the toughest things to do in fantasy football, so don't let an injury to your star completely derail your season. For those Dalvin Cook owners, pickup Alexander Mattison. For those with Aaron Jones, pickup A.J. Dillon, and so on. You can never be too safe.
Also, for those winning games, perhaps you can afford to start looking ahead to the playoffs. You likely have several players on your bench that would be starters on struggling teams, so perhaps swap those for an obvious upgrade, a player with an easy playoff schedule (Dallas wide receivers), or someone who is currently on injured reserve (Michael Thomas). Or even better, someone who falls into both categories (David Montgomery).
Moving on to the teams in the middle of the pack (three to four wins). If I had to make one guess about your team it is that you have the most points scored against you in your league as of now. It happens. While it may be frustrating, it’s just time to start scoring more points as well.
Accumulating a handful of wins likely means you drafted well and have a solid roster, but just may have missed one or two big moves — like drafting Robert Woods or Brandon Aiyuk over Cooper Kupp or Deebo Samuel, respectively. Again, it sucks, but move on. Try to trade a few of those depth pieces to a team below you in the standings for their star.
On the waiver wire, be active. Look for players who have high volume (targets, red zone snaps, routes run, etc.) with favorable matchups going forward. Patch some of those holes in your lineups and play those guys. You have a chance to either move right into the playoff picture, or fall quickly into last place, so be smart and let’s do the former.
Now, for those at the bottom...
Do not be the owner to finish last — especially if you have a league punishment — and do not be the owner to stop checking their lineup! It doesn't look promising, but maybe — just maybe — there is some hope to squeak into the playoffs.
So, how? Well, start by trading your best player. Sounds like a bad plan, but you need an influx of talent all over your roster. If you can trade your leading scorer for two or even three starters, it’s a no brainer. Additionally, if you're hoarding an extra quarterback, kicker, or defense currently, drop them. Pickup the top waiver wire additions every week and start them as needed for as long as they provide value. Once their value runs dry, drop them for next week’s top addition. When setting your lineup, play players with a high weekly upside in a favorable matchup or perhaps filling in for an injured starter. Get creative, you have nothing else to lose.
As we enter Halloween weekend, it will not be as spooky as last week for managers shuffling bye weeks. In Week 8, just the Baltimore Ravens and Las Vegas Raiders will be on bye. Now that you know what needs to be done to your roster, let’s look at some specific takeaways from Week 7 that should peak your interest.
Cordarrelle Patterson is legit... Cordarrelle Patterson has taken the fantasy world over this year, but he was doing so playing limited snaps and operating behind Mike Davis. We noted two weeks ago that the Falcons’ timeshare in the backfield started to swing in Patterson’s favor Week 5 in London, and that their usage of the backs in Week 7 after the team’s bye could be telling on how they plan to operate for the rest of the season.
For those with Patterson — lucky you.
In Week 7, Patterson had 46 offensive snaps compared to Davis’ 38. Patterson played 31 pass snaps and 15 rush play snaps, while Davis played 32 pass snaps and had only six rush play snaps. In the red zone, Patterson had five rush snaps — scoring a three-yard touchdown — and two pass snaps, running routes on both. As for Davis in the red zone, he had just two rush plays and three pass plays, running a route on just one. For now, this is Cordarrelle Patterson’s backfield.
So long... For Odell Beckham Jr., Robby Anderson, and Rondale Moore, the time has come. Save yourself and let them go. Due to Beckham’s injury concerns and lack of red zone usage (three targets, zero catches), he just isn't trustworthy. ... Despite seeing an increase in targets lately, Anderson continues to just be a non-factor in Carolina's offense this year. Now with question marks around Sam Darnold, Anderson is an even riskier option. ... In Arizona, Rondale Moore has taken a back seat to both A.J. Green and Christian Kirk. Green has played a starter’s share of snaps lately while Kirk continues to out play Moore out of the slot. For now, the rookie is fourth on the depth chart.
No Allen or Adams... As Davante Adams will miss Thursday nights game after landing on the Covid-19/reserve list, the Packers will turn to Randall Cobb against the Cardinals. As Allen Lazard seemed to be the next man up — especially after seeing a 23.8 and 17.6 team target percentage the last two weeks (up from just over a six percent target share the first five weeks of the season) — he too was placed on the Covid-19/Reserve list on Tuesday. Good thing Aaron Rodgers was able to force Randall Cobb back into town, as the veteran will likely operate as Green Bay’s top receiver Thursday. He is a volume based WR3/FLEX play in a potential shootout with Arizona. Marquez Valdes-Scantling could also be an intriguing play for desperate managers, if he is activated off the IR, while Robert Tonyan should also see more work his way.
C.J. Uzomah’s breakout... Over the past four weeks, Uzomah has been the third highest scoring tight end in fantasy football — largely due to finding the end zone five times. The interesting stat however, is that only one of those touchdowns came in the red zone -Uzomah’s only target in that area over the past month. Uzomah falls behind the Bengals three leading receivers in term of targets, but he is almost always on the field and always running pass routes. He has been extremely successful in open field passes and if his red zone usage increases going forward, he could be in for serious TE1 production.
Eagles backfield... As Miles Sanders is now week-to-week with an ankle injury, as eyes on the waiver wire will fall to Kenneth Gainwell and Boston Scott. Once Sanders departed, Philadelphia often deployed Gainwell in passing situations (24 pass snaps to Scott’s 12), while Scott out-snapped Gainwell in rushing plays while seeing more carries. As the Eagles have been reluctant to run the ball this year, even with Sanders, it seems like Gainwell will be the guy in pass heavy game scripts. However, a date with the Lions this week could lead to the opposite, making Scott perhaps the better Week 8 play.
Coming off a bye... Managers may look over a player just coming off a bye week, making it the perfect opportunity for you to strike a deal for cheap. This week, look at wide receivers Laviska Shenault and Michael Gallup. Shenault saw 10 targets in Jacksonville’s last game before the bye, as he continues to operate as the No. 2 receiver. He also has an extremely receiver friendly schedule the rest of the season, making him an intriguing option for your playoff roster. Gallup on the other hand is set to return off the injured reserve. Gallup was heavily used in Dallas’ high power offense before getting hurt in Week 1, while also featuring a friendly schedule from Weeks 13-17.
Antonio Gibson’s future... Gibson’s recent shin injury has derailed his fantasy value over the last two weeks. Despite still pilling up 16 touches, he was out-snapped by J.D. McKissic 45 to 29 and did not play over the last 17 minutes of Sunday’s game. While the highly drafted back has been frustrating owners, better days could be ahead. A Week 9 bye — and maybe sitting out this week against Denver — will hopefully allow for Gibson’s shin to heal for the stretch run, where he has five favorable matchups from Week 12 on. He could be another strong buy-low candidate with the playoffs in mind.
Seattle’s backfield struggles... As Chris Carson remained out due to a neck injury, it was a four man backfield for Seattle Monday night. While that may sound like a nightmare, Alex Collins and Rashard Penny are still worth a grab with Carson out. Despite both being extremely ineffective against the Saints stout run defense, Collins still totaled double digit carries for the fourth straight game, while Penny played the more snaps (eight rush snaps and 12 pass snaps to Collins’ 18 rush snaps and four pass snaps). In a highly favorable matchup against the Jaguars’ next weekend, both should be in line for better performances.
Kick the tires on Kelce... With just one touchdown over his last five games, Travis Kelce hasn't been putting up the obscure numbers we are use to as of late. If a Kelce-owner is overreacting to this and how bad the Chiefs have looked overall as of late, take advantage of it. Kelce is still the clear-cut TE1 in fantasy football and still paces the team in routes run, targets and catches. His schedule should also ease up over the course of the season, which should allow him to get back to his 20-plus point days. If you can package someone like Mark Andrews or Mike Gesicki in a swap for Kelce, do not hesitate.
That is all for this week’s recap. Leave a comment below or reach out on Twitter @iambrianhines if you have any questions about your fantasy team!