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Gardner Minshew, JAX (at Cincinnati) - Minshewmania should be back in effect after it ran into a brick wall when the Saints came to town last week. The Bengals are down both starting corners and DJ Chark may be the #1 overall receiver this week. Dede Westbrook and Marqise Lee are banged up, but Chris Conley and Keelan Cole are decent downfield receivers and they should be able to keep the passing game viable when Chark isn’t the target. Minshew can also add some value as a runner.
Daniel Jones, NYG (vs Arizona) - Jones has looked like a rookie in over his head at times the last two weeks facing the Patriots and Vikings, but this week he’ll have a much easier test against the Cardinals, even with Patrick Peterson back on the field. Saquon Barkley and Evan Engram should be back and Golden Tate even flashed some downfield play ability last week. The Cardinals have been a generous defense and this game could also become a track meet with Kyler Murray taking advantage of the Giants defensive weaknesses.
Jacoby Brissett, IND (vs Houston) - Brissett and the Colts offense have had a week to rest and lick their wounds coming off of a big win at Kansas City. While they may prefer to lean on the run like they did in Arrowhead, Deshaun Watson and the Texans offense is clicking now and won’t give them the luxury of playing it conservatively. The good news is that TY Hilton always has big games against the Texans and should help Brissett have a high floor to go with the high ceiling that may accompany a more open offensive game.
Sam Darnold, NYJ (vs New England) - The Patriots defense is scary, but who exactly have they faced? A one-armed Ben Roethlisberger, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Luke Falk, Josh Allen/Matt Barkley, Colt McCoy, and Daniel Jones. Perhaps they should fear a new look Jets offense that has weapons at every level and an element of surprise and extended plays with Darnold at quarterback. He could have a field night if Adam Gase is successful getting Le’Veon Bell and Jamison Crowder in favorable matchups and Darnold finds Robby Anderson streaking deep on a play or two.
Royce Freeman, DEN (vs Kansas City) **Thursday** - The recipe to beat the Chiefs is clear - keep their defense on the field. The Broncos were actually effective at slowing down a healthy Patrick Mahomes II last year, so they should do their part against a gimpy Mahomes to keep the offense on the field. The Broncos want to be conservative and feed their talented backs anyway, so a game plan to includes 35-40 combined touches from Phillip Lindsay and Freeman intersects their strength with the Chiefs weakness.
Latavius Murray, NO (at Chicago) - Alvin Kamara may try to play even without any practice, but the team tipped their hand this week by signing Zach Zenner. Kamara might be limited or ineffective even if he does play, but with the team looking good despite the loss of Drew Brees, they can afford to let Kamara rest, possibly through the Week 9 bye. Murray looks fresh, swift, and powerful and had a long screen pass touchdown called back by penalty last week.
Frank Gore, Devin Singletary, BUF (vs Miami) - Miami has been a predictably good matchup for running backs, so it’s possible both Bills backs could be hits this week. Gore should get the carries to close out drives and the game, and Singletary is practicing in full after the bye as the team has taken it slow with his return from a hamstring injury, so he should be ready to pick up where he left off when he opened the season with explosive plays as a runner and receiver.
Darrell Henderson, LAR (at Atlanta) - Malcolm Brown is nursing an ankle injury and is probably less likely to play than Todd Gurley, who has a quad issue that kept him out last week, but allowed him to return to a limited practice on Wednesday this week. Once Gurley missed time last year, we never knew how much or how well he would play no matter what the team said. Henderson’s burst was undeniable last week and it’s not difficult to imagine the Falcons defense letting him get free for big games on the indoor fast track. Henderson’s ceiling is very high this week even if he gets limited touches.
Kenyan Drake, Mark Walton, MIA (at Buffalo) - The Bills defense is excellent but they have actually allowed a score to an opposing running back in every game this year. Ryan Fitzpatrick is going to start to make the Dolphins offense more viable. Perhaps the Dolphins will use Drake a lot to show him off for potential trade partners, or alternatively, they could keep him on ice to preserve his trade value and lean on Walton. Both are reasonable emergency plays or what the heck flex options this week in PPR leagues with strong involvement in the passing game.
DK Metcalf, SEA (vs Baltimore) - Metcalf probably will dodge Jimmy Smith this week, as Smith is looking more likely to return in Week 9 after the Ravens bye. Marcus Peters has been added, but he gives up as many big plays (or more) than he makes. This could become a high-scoring quarterback duel considering the lack of quality in this defenses this year, and Metcalf should be poised to inherit some of the red zone targets vacated by Will Dissly.
Dante Pettis, SF (at Washington) - Pettis’s snaps, targets, and routes run have all trended up in recent weeks, and now a Deebo Samuel injury could give him even more opportunity heading into a matchup with a very vulnerable Washington pass defense. They have given up 10 touchdowns to wide receivers already this year, and two multi-touchdown games.
Allen Lazard, GB (vs Oakland) - Davante Adams and Geronimo Allison appear unlikely to play in Week 7, and Marquez Valdes-Scantling isn’t 100%. Aaron Rodgers was lobbying for Lazard to get on the field and all he did was make key catches to get the Packers back in the game and outproduce every other Packers receiver in just one quarter of play. He should be one of Rodgers favorite targets again this week.
Corey Davis, Adam Humphries, TEN (vs Los Angeles Chargers) - Four of Ryan Tannehill’s first six targets upon taking over for Marcus Mariota were to Davis last week, and Davis caught three for 36 yards. Project that over a full game and all of the sudden Davis could be a viable fantasy option this week. Humphries was Tannehill’s other favorite target, catching all four balls thrown his way for 34 yards, although projecting out to a very solid PPR game over a full contest.
Mecole Hardman, KC (at Denver) **Thursday** - Sammy Watkins is a no-go Thursday night, and the Broncos should be focused on limiting Tyreek Hill, so Hardman is a natural choice as the secondary option that will go off in this game. Safeties will be focused on Hill and Hardman should be isolated in at least a few one-on-one matchups that allow his speed to be a question the Broncos defense can’t answer. Hardman was highly efficient last week with Hill in the lineup, catching all four of his targets for 45 yards, including one inside the opponent’s ten yard line.
Gerald Everett, Tyler Higbee, LAR (at Atlanta) - Everett didn’t do much in the follow-up to his career best game last week, but he was free for a long gain that Jared Goff couldn’t convert. That shouldn’t be an issue this week against the NFL’s welcome mat - the Falcons defense. Higbee has had at least three catches in each of the last three games, and he was actually the Rams leading receiver in yardage last week. The Falcons have given up three scores to tight ends in the last two weeks courtesy of fantasy studs Maxx Williams and Darren Fells. The Colts tight ends also accounted for nine receptions and 118 yards against them earlier this year.
Dallas Goedert, PHI (at Dallas) - Goedert just had his best game of the year and target peak last week, heading into a Dallas matchup that should be good for him. He had a long score called back on a phantom penalty against them last year, and scored in the other matchup. Desean Jackson should be out again this week, which will likely put Goedert on the spot as a key player in the passing game with the trust in Nelson Agholor waning.
Foster Moreau, OAK (at Green Bay) - Moreau has burst on the scene as a quality two-way tight end early in his rookie season, and with Tyrell Williams still ailing and an otherwise anonymous band of receivers, Moreau should remain a primary target against the Packers this week. He has had two good fantasy weeks in a row going into the bye and should be even more comfortable this week in an offense that will feature a two tight end set as their base personnel group.