Week 7 of the fantasy football season is upon us, and this marks the halfway point of the season. Some fantasy owners are struggling to stay in the playoff hunt, while others are coasting along. (Odds are if your team is 0-6 and you’re basically out of it, you’re not reading this column).
This is the first week with four teams on bye (instead of two) and many players, especially wide receivers are dealing with injuries. Filling out a roster is going to be tough, and fantasy owners should be sure to check the waiver wire in case a solid player has been dropped and might be available. With injuries comes opportunity for other players, however, and that is what fantasy owners should be looking for.
Please note 5 Up/5 Down is a guide on players that should exceed or fall below their rank this week. This is based on past performance, injury status and matchup. This is not a start/sit column, but rather a guide. You also can see how my Week 6 calls turned out at the bottom.
Teams on bye: Green Bay, Oakland, Pittsburgh, Seattle
Baker Mayfield, QB, Cleveland Browns
Mayfield has a great matchup and a great upcoming schedule. However, the problem is that he doesn’t have great options. Tight end David Njoku should have a good game here as well, but the wide receivers are struggling. Jarvis Landry is the best option, as Rashard Higgins in injured and Antonio Callaway has had issues with drops. Mayfield should be able to exploit Tampa Bay's defense, which has allowed at least three touchdowns to four of the five quarterbacks the Buccaneers have faced this year. He’s ranked No. 13 but could crack the top 10.
Frank Gore, RB, Miami Dolphins
Gore looked really good in Week 6 against what was a tough Bears defense. He had 15 carries for 101 yards (compared to Kenyan Drake’s 13 carries for 57 yards). While Gore is seemingly ageless, he should have another good matchup in Week 7. The Detroit Lions allow the third-most fantasy points to opposing running backs. While Drake will still be in the picture, if the split is even again, Gore might be able to do more with his carries. He’s ranked No. 33 but is a solid flex option.
Raheem Mostert, RB, San Francisco 49ers
Fantasy owners were surprised (and angry, perhaps) when Alfred Morris was given one touch and Mostert had 12 carries for 87 yards. While the 49ers have said this was part of the game flow, Mostert was clearly better at the position than Morris. Mostert is ranked No. 49 this week, barely cracking the top 50. While he is a deep league option only (or DFS play), Mostert should finish as a RB3/flex.
Taylor Gabriel, WR, Chicago Bears
After Allen Robinson did not practice on Thursday, Gabriel’s stock shot up even higher than it was before. Gabriel has had at least 100 yards in the past two games, and he has found the end zone once. He has at least four receptions in every game so far. When Kansas City played the New England Patriots in Week 6, Tyreek Hill proved to be too much for the Patriots' defense. Hill is a quick, shifty target and Gabriel is in a similar mold. The Patriots will likely have a tough time covering Gabriel (ranked No. 29) and Tarik Cohen.
Austin Hooper, TE, Atlanta Falcons
Hooper has had back-to-back games with nine receptions. He’s had more than 70 yards in each of those games and he scored a touchdown in one as well. With both Mohamed Sanu and Calvin Ridley banged up (and likely facing questionable tags heading into Monday night’s game), Hooper can easily step up and become a key target for Matt Ryan. He’s ranked No. 9 and is a TE1 who may finish higher than that.
Cam Newton, QB, Carolina Panthers
Newton is ranked No. 4 this week, but he faces an Eagles defense that has shut down some opposing quarterbacks. They held Eli Manning and Matt Ryan to under 300 yards and no touchdowns, and only allowed Andrew Luck and Kirk Cousins to throw one touchdown apiece. While Newton has scored three rushing touchdowns himself, it is still a tough matchup for him. He’s a QB1, but he’s not in the top five.
Mark Ingram, RB, New Orleans Saints
The Baltimore Ravens have only allowed one running back to score a touchdown this season (Royce Freeman in Week 3). They are allowing the second-fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs. Ingram had a great Week 5, scoring two touchdowns in his first game back from suspension. However, this may have been a “welcome back” game and Alvin Kamara will regain control of the Saints' backfield. Ingram is ranked No. 13 but is only a low RB2.
DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Houston Texans
The Texans play the Jaguars in Week 6, who allow the fewest fantasy points to opposing wide receivers. With Will Fuller and Keke Coutee also taking away targets, Hopkins is not a top 10 WR option (although he’s ranked No. 7). Hopkins will likely see a lot of top cornerback Jalen Ramsey. Although Ramsey has been beaten, it’s going to be a tough day for Hopkins. He’s playing through a foot injury, also, which has caused him to miss practice time this week. Hopkins is merely a WR2 this week.
Keelan Cole, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars
The biggest problem with the Jaguars' receivers is that the offense cannot support two top pass catchers. It’s anyone’s guess to see which receiver will be the top wideout each week. Cole had 10 targets in Week 5, but then only five in Week 6. He’s only had one touchdown on the year and one 100-yard game. In the past four weeks, he hasn’t had more than five receptions in a game. He also has 40 yards or fewer in three of those games. He’s ranked No. 35 this week, but should finish below that, especially given that the Texans are in the bottom five in terms of fantasy points allowed to opposing wide receivers.
Eric Ebron, TE, Indianapolis Colts
Ebron has been banged up and missed some practice time, but he’s been healthy enough to play. However, this week T.Y. Hilton should be back. While Andrew Luck does use Ebron in short-yardage situations, having his biggest weapon returning will take targets away from Ebron. He’s still a TE1, especially with four teams on bye, but he likely won’t be the No. 4 tight end this week.
Full Disclosure for Week 6
5 Up (3/5)
Jameis Winston, QB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Ranked: 9, Actual: 1)
Nyheim Hines, RB, Indianapolis Colts (Ranked: 31, Actual: 42)
Tarik Cohen, RB, Chicago Bears (Ranked: 38, Actual: 8)
Chester Rogers, WR, Indianapolis Colts (Ranked: 72, Actual: 25)
Niles Paul, TE, Jacksonville Jaguars (Ranked: 29, Actual: left game with injury)
5 Down (5/5)
Philip Rivers, QB, Los Angeles Chargers (Ranked: 13, Actual: 20)
Jordan Howard, RB, Chicago Bears (Ranked: 12, Actual: 41)
Aaron Jones, RB, Green Bay Packers (Ranked: 21, Actual: 45)
Doug Baldwin, WR, Seattle Seahawks (Ranked: 26, Actual: 30)
Trey Burton, TE, Chicago Bears (Ranked: 9, Actual: 11)
— Rankings by Sarah Lewis, who is part of the Athlon Contributor network and lives, eats, and breathes fantasy football. Have a fantasy football question? Send it to her on Twitter @Sarah_Lewis32.