Week 7 of the 2022 fantasy football season was highlighted by big games by Joe Burrow, Gus Edwards, Travis Etienne Jr. and Ja’Marr Chase. Which developments from the week are worth reading into? Matt Bowen and Tristan H. Cockcroft offer their analysis.
Burrow raises the bar
Joe Burrow might’ve started the season slow, relatively speaking, but has really turned things on the past three weeks, scoring a rushing touchdown in each, and posting his fourth career 30-point fantasy performance in Week 6 (32.50), followed by his fifth and a career-best 39.24 points on Sunday. Sure, the matchup against a Falcons team thin on depth and missing A.J. Terrell for a portion due to injury leaned extremely favorably, but so does all of Burrow’s schedule until the fantasy playoffs. Five of his next six opponents have seen quarterbacks exceed their seasonal averages by 1.88 fantasy points or more, so this is an ideal time to lock him in as at least a weekly top-six positional choice. Burrow has silenced any doubters who thought he couldn’t repeat last year’s magical run. — Cockcroft
CMC era starts in San Francisco
In his first game with the 49ers, Christian McCaffrey posted 62 total yards on 10 touches in the Week 7 loss to the Chiefs. But we know that role with CMC will develop quickly in Kyle Shanahan’s offense; more volume, creative deployment and receiving targets. McCaffrey is a difference-maker who can be set up with Shanahan in the route tree while producing on the ground in one of the league’s most heavily schemed run games. Given that expected bump in run/pass game touches for CMC, I expect George Kittle, Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk to all see a slight dip in overall usage. And the days of Deebo logging eight rushing attempts could be done. With a Week 8 matchup versus the Rams, and a full week of practice in San Francisco, McCaffrey will be back in the RB1 ranks. — Bowen
All aboard the Gus Bus
With 16 carries – and 18.6 PPR points — in the Week 7 win over the Browns, including two rushing scores in low red zone, Gus Edwards‘ role as Baltimore’s lead back is pretty defined here with J.K. Dobbins on IR. Yes, there is always going to be more non-PPR upside with Edwards due to his lack of pass game usage. We know that. But fantasy managers should be confident moving forward with Edwards given the workload we saw on Sunday, and his overall offensive fit in the Ravens’ heavy gap (or power) run system. He’s a downhill runner with straight-line juice. Edwards will be in my Flex/RB2 rankings for the Week 8 game versus the Bucs defense. — Bowen
What struck me most about this game was that Edwards, in his return from September 2021 ACL reconstructive surgery, was being heavily used early in this game, at one point near halftime having played half the snaps with the lion’s share of the rushing attempts. Remember, this Browns defense has been bad against the run, and sure, the final score says the game was tightly contested enough that it made sense to consistently use your best players, but I consider it a big confidence play for the Ravens to lean on Edwards to the extent that they did. I’m with you, Matt — having seen it, I feel a lot better about trusting him as an RB2/flex going up against a much tougher Buccaneers defense. — Cockcroft
Etienne takes the lead in Jacksonville
Did we just watch Travis Etienne Jr.’s breakout game? After spending the entirety of the year in a partnership with James Robinson, if not as Robinson’s clear backup in the early weeks, Etienne played 83% of the offensive snaps, handled 14 of 21 carries and ran 21 routes while seeing five targets. Robinson, meanwhile, had one target and zero rushing attempts, after having delivered forgettable outputs the three weeks prior. Etienne’s speed was evident in this one, as he had a pair of runs clocked 20-plus mph, resulting in 49- and 15-yard gains, as he began inching toward his considerable upside. This was the game in which he locked in weekly RB2 status. — Cockcroft
Tristan, Etienne simply looks more explosive than Robinson. And it starts with his short-area burst, which allows Etienne to attack open creases of daylight. I agree on making Etienne a weekly RB2 here, also. Run and pass game usage, with the ability to create explosive plays. — Bowen
Walker already an RB1?
Kenneth Walker III, RB, Seattle Seahawks: The rookie is for real. And if you drafted Walker, you now have a true lead back in this Seattle offense. Walker cooked up the Chargers run defense in Week 7, posting season highs in PPR points (28.8), carries (23) and rushing yards (168). Plus, with two rushing scores, Walker has found the end zone in three straight games. The volume is there, and so is the big play juice, as Walker ripped off a 74-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter. He can play with power and attack the perimeter, too. Good vision. And the lateral quicks pop. With a Week 8 game versus the Giants, I have to put Walker into the RB1 mix. — Bowen
Carolina’s new-look backfield
Chuba Hubbard got the start and the first touchdown of Christian McCaffrey‘s co-replacements, but D’Onta Foreman finished things off nicely in what was a shocking 21-3 upset of Tom Brady‘s Buccaneers. In the process, both Foreman (16.5 PPR fantasy points) and Hubbard (15.3) delivered fantasy-relevant point totals, which ultimately are now the second- and third-best individual games against a Buccaneers defense that has been one of the best against the run during the Brady era. Foreman’s strong finish capitalized on Hubbard’s early exit due to an ankle injury, and if that lingers, it’d make the decision easy as to which gets most of the run and is most fantasy-worthy, but Foreman is my pick regardless of Hubbard’s Week 8 status. He had each of the Panthers’ two best rushing gains, going by both expected rushing yards as well as top speed (both per Next Gen Stats), including a critical 60-yard gain that set up Hubbard’s touchdown. Expect some sharing of the chores in the short term, capping their value in the matchups-dependent, flex-play category, but Foreman is still the one I want if pressed to pick between them. — Cockcroft
Tristan H. Cockcroft breaks down the Panthers’ running back room from a fantasy perspective.
Dak Prescott, QB, Dallas Cowboys: His first game back following his thumb injury wasn’t anything spectacular for our purposes, but merely having him back on the field was a great thing from a long-term perspective. Prescott scarcely ran in this one, with only one true rushing attempt (the remainder were kneels at game’s end), and attempted just 25 passes as the running backs were the predictable focus against an all-around bad Lions defense. Consider it a small step toward his return to his former top-eight positional self in fantasy, though I suspect it might take until after the Cowboys’ Week 9 bye before we see him truly round into form. — Cockcroft
Tristan H. Cockcroft details what fantasy managers should expect from Dak Prescott the rest of the season.
Ja’Marr Chase and Tyler Boyd, WR, Cincinnati Bengals: These two played a huge part in Burrow’s career day, as Chase delivered his second consecutive multiple-touchdown as well as 30-PPR-point fantasy performance, while Boyd scored 29.5 points of his own. Chase continued to flash his top-shelf talent, dominating a Falcons defense that has performed poorly to date but also lost cornerback A.J. Terrell to a hamstring injury early. About the only thing standing in Chase’s way of a top-three positional finish is the competition for targets on his own roster, but as mentioned with Burrow, the Bengals’ schedule is extremely fantasy-friendly for the next two months. Boyd, meanwhile, should be more unpredictable week over week, generally standing out for fantasy performances when facing defenses weak at containing slot receivers. — Cockcroft
Josh Jacobs, RB, Las Vegas Raiders: He’s in the midst of a massive hot streak, exceeding 30 PPR fantasy points for the third consecutive week, the first running back to do that since Todd Gurley in 2018 (Weeks 5-8) and first overall player since Davante Adams in 2020 (Weeks 7-9) — and bear in mind that those are three of the four such instances that Jacobs has had in his entire career. Jacobs’ 36.5 points in Week 7 set a new personal best, as he continued to establish the Raiders’ backfield as entirely his, something that was in a bit of doubt entering the year. With the Raiders’ offense potent enough to keep him in the 20-carry weekly mix, he might well be able to finish the year with a top-five positional point total. — Cockcroft
Daniel Jones, QB, New York Giants: Jones dropped a season-high 28.2 fantasy points on the Jags’ defense in Week 7. And, again, it was the rushing totals that pushed Jones past the 20-point mark for the second time this year. The Giants quarterback carried the ball 11 times for 107 yards, including a rushing score. In my opinion, this New York offense is at its best when Jones is deployed as a runner on designed carries, or when he can use his legs off boot and second-reaction. But given the low throwing volume for Jones in this Giants system (only six touchdown passes on this season), can we count on consistent rushing numbers? I still see Jones as a matchup-dependent streaming option, and he has a pretty good slate coming up with a road trip to Seattle in Week 8, a bye, and then home games versus the Texans and Lions in Weeks 10 and 11. — Bowen
Tom Brady, QB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: For the fifth time this season, Brady failed to post more than 15 PPR points. And we thought this was a good matchup for the veteran quarterback versus Carolina. Yes, Mike Evans dropped a deep ball throw that would have led to a walk-in score. We all saw that. But we can’t sit here and not address a Bucs offense (and pass game) that looks very disjointed at this point. Brady has now thrown a total of two touchdowns in his past three starts, and his overall throwing efficiency has taken a hit during this stretch. Plus, Brady has to turn around (on a short week) to play the Ravens this Thursday night. Baltimore will target this Tampa offensive line with pressures and stunts. At this point, Brady is at best a fringe QB1 in Week 8. — Bowen
Tristan H. Cockcroft advises fantasy managers on how to handle Tom Brady.
AJ Dillon, RB, Green Bay Packers: I can’t figure out the lack of usage for Dillon, given his skill set at the position. The Packers running back registered just four carries for 15 yards (with no receptions) in the Week 7 loss to Washington. And with 1.5 PPR points in this one, it marks Dillon’s sixth straight game with less than 10 PPR points. That’s rough. — Bowen
New York Jets running backs: Breece Hall was off to a solid start on Sunday, well on his way to extending a streak of three straight games with a touchdown (he did extend that one to four) and 19-plus touches, until a knee injury late in the second quarter prematurely ended his day. That the Jets ruled Hall out so quickly was ominous, and there’s every reason to think he’ll miss time, especially with the team’s bye upcoming in Week 10. Outside of a 37-yard reception shortly after Hall’s departure, Michael Carter failed to impress in relief, though he’ll certainly get almost all of the rushing work for so long as Hall is absent. Carter, available in roughly 30% of ESPN leagues, should be added everywhere, though Hall’s injury comes at a rough time for the team, with Zach Wilson struggling mightily and the team now facing the Patriots, Bills and Patriots in its next three games surrounding the bye. This will be an offense to fade during that stretch. — Cockcroft
Mecole Hardman, WR, Kansas City Chiefs: Hardman checked in with a season-high 28.0 PPR points, logging 60 total yards (on six touches) with three touchdowns in the Week 7 win over the 49ers. While he needs to see a bump in total offensive volume to be considered a weekly play in fantasy lineups, his usage as a horizontal stretch option Sunday (fly sweeps), plus three straight weeks of PPR production, puts Hardman on the radar in deeper leagues or as a top streaming candidate. — Bowen