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Fantasy Football Week 7 sleepers

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We’re a third of the way through the season, Fam! That means 11 more weeks of genius tinkering. Of course, the most dedicated and passionate managers find zeal in exploring the concepts and happenings occurring under the radar. While some weeks your roster may allow for snoozing on sleepers, it’s always beneficial to keep tabs on emerging trends and players. This weekly column is for those who understand the satisfaction of digging deep.

All of the listed players are rostered in under 60 percent of Yahoo leagues (at time of writing) and/or are a significant value in our daily game. They’re not the obvious picks, and they’re not without their risks … but that’s what makes them so intriguing.

Last week … Taylor morphed into Tyler Heinicke, Rondale Moore was less, and Donald Parham was out-produced by Jared Cook. Overall, however, my picks came through. Carson Wentz delivered on the floor I promised, Darrel Williams owned the goal line as I said he would, and RSJ posted top-six numbers. Additionally, your girl kept you ahead of the curve on Rhamondre Stevenson, who has another plus matchup this Sunday.

On to Week 7!

Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Miami Dolphins (45% rostered, $26)*

Returning from a rib injury, the 2020 fifth overall pick brought a much-needed spark to the Phins offense. Tua threw for 329 yards and 1 score, completing 70 percent of his (season-high 47) pass attempts. Despite a lone interception, the Alabama product closed out Week 6 with top-12 fantasy numbers. The matchup versus Jacksonville was certainly favorable, but the schedule stays soft for another week.

Tua will host a Falcons squad this Sunday that has not only allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to opposing QBs but has also recorded just one INT and 9 sacks on the season. It’s unclear if DeVante Parker (shoulder) or Preston Williams (groin) will be back (Will Fuller remains sidelined with a broken finger until at least Halloween), but Tua proved last week that he could produce with limited options (Jaylen Waddle and Mike Gesicki) against a bad defense.

*En caso de que …

At the time of writing, Tua is still very much the Dolphins starting QB. The rumor mill, however, has been churning. Because we’re on the precipice of a byepocalypse, I wanted to give you a few more names in case this three-way trade actually goes down and blows up your fantasy plans:

Sam Darnold, QB, Carolina Panthers (57% rostered)

This game is likely to get ugly (O/U 43.5) and Darnold has struggled over the last three weeks. His Week 7 matchup, however, is plus. The Giants are the 22nd-ranked pass defense per DVOA and the team has recorded the fifth-fewest sacks (10) on the season. That should at least alleviate some pressure for Darnold and give him time to settle. He’s the Yahoo consensus QB12.

Mac Jones, QB, New England Patriots (27% rostered)

As 7-point favorites, it’s unlikely that Jones will pass enough to post fantasy favorable numbers. Coming off a bye and with an extra week to prepare, however, the Jets could put together a game plan that creates more back-and-forth than it did a month ago. Jones is the Yahoo consensus QB20.

Davis Mills, QB, Houston Texans (2% rostered)

Absolute desperation.

The good news is that a negative game script (+17) in tandem with the Cardinals explosive offense is going to keep Mills throwing the ball. He’s definitely going to take a handful of sacks and turn the ball over a few times, but he’s also likely to air it out in the process.

JD McKissic, RB, Washington Football Team (56% rostered, $16)

A former college receiver, McKissic is coming off of a career season in which he caught 80 balls (second only to Alvin Kamara, who recorded 83) for 589 receiving yards. He’s not on pace to beat those numbers in 2021, but he is averaging nearly 5 targets per game (RB8) and should see more aerial opportunities with Washington’s pass-catchers dinged up.

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As the team’s RB2, he’ll also carry the rock more if Gibson can’t suit up on Sunday. McKissic logged a season-high number of snaps (35), carries (8), and targets (10) with Antonio Gibson (shin) in-and-out of last Sunday’s game.

A matchup against Green Bay should keep the whole of McKissic’s skill set busy. Not only are the Packers a bottom-three-ranked run defense (per Football Outsiders Defensive DVOA), but Washington also figures to pass a lot as 9.5-point underdogs. Whether it’s on the ground, through the air, or both … McKissic’s potential workload deserves top-20 consideration.

Bonus RB: Jaret Patterson, RB, Washington Football Team (7% rostered, $10)

Assuming Gibson sits on Sunday, Patterson could pop. Undrafted out of Buffalo, the rookie is an elusive player with excellent balance and vision. He lacks size (5-foot-6 and 195 pounds) and speed (4.64) but the dude is slippery. He could rip off a few long runs on early downs versus a Packers run defense that’s allowing a YPC of 4.5 to opposing rushers. Maybe even record his first NFL score. On a week with six teams on bye, Patterson is a reasonable flex play.

Marquez Callaway, WR, New Orleans Saints (39% rostered, $18)

I really don’t like recommending a player that’s averaging fewer than three catches per game, but here we are. The volume is not bountiful but the opportunities are, at least, high-value. With three scores on the season (WR15) and averaging 17.1 YPR (WR13), Callaway is converting when it counts.

Marquez Callaway #1 of the New Orleans Saints
What Marquez Callaway lacks in volume, he makes up for in execution. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

He’s also the Saints WR1 and behind only Alvin Karma in total looks. Callaway should continue to lead the receiving corps again in Week 7. Tre’Quan Smith (hamstring) has been designated to return from IR, but it’s not clear if he’ll play on Sunday. Even if he does, there’s likely to be some rust. Meanwhile, Michael Thomas (ankle) is still “a few weeks away.”

That bodes well for a rested Callaway in a matchup against the Seahawks' bottom-five ranked receiving defense. It’s a volatile play, but Seattle gives up at least one score to a WR each week. Given the narrow usage tree, that “one” should go to MC.

Amon-Ra St. Brown, WR, Detroit Lions (18% rostered, $14)

The reluctance to invest in Detroit hasn’t only been about the quality of the team but also because (outside of Swift and Hockenson) managers weren’t sure where to invest. Over the past three weeks, however, St. Brown has emerged. The rookie has averaged 7.6 looks per game since the start of October and recorded a snap share of nearly 80 percent in back-to-back outings. With Tyrell Williams’ return seemingly “off in the distance” and Quintez Cephus (collar bone) on IR, St. Brown figures to remain Jared Goff’s third option in the passing game.

Anthony Lynn may not want to air it out on the regular but the game script is forcing Goff to throw the ball 40 times a game. Week 7 at the Rams figures to be no different, as the Lions are 15.5-pt underdogs in a matchup that Vegas anticipates being high-scoring (50.5).

While the headlines figure to feature the dueling QBs in their respective revenge games, this is also a homecoming for St. Brown, who attended USC. As a Trojan, Brown made an immediate (60-750-3 as a true freshman in 2018) impact and became a regular producer. He’s a crisp route runner with natural hands, excellent body control, and an uncanny ability to slip past defenders after the catch.

Those skills are understandably difficult to showcase as a slot receiver on a bad team averaging 8.5 yards per reception, but this play is about quantity, not quality. Everything from the opportunity to the points to the motivation is there for a season-high performance from the rookie. He’s a flex in PPR-friendly formats.

C.J. Uzomah, TE, Cincinnati Bengals (13% rostered, $15)

The 4-2 Bengals are stacked with pass-catching talent and led by a QB determined to take advantage of his situation. The downside of that is inconsistent production. Still, Uzomah is consistently running routes (22.7/gm), gaining YAC (104, TE11), and scoring touchdowns (3, TE4).

Admittedly, Uzomah had his biggest day without Tee Higgins in the lineup (Week 4). However, he found the end zone again in Week 6 at Detroit and with the rest of the receiving corps healthy. I think he’ll score again on Sunday at Baltimore. The Ravens have allowed the third-most fantasy points to opposing tight ends, giving up 4 TDs (including this one to Jared Cook last week) on the season.

Dig deep with Liz on social @LizLoza_FF

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