Fantasy Football: Week-Ahead Stash Candidates for Week 7

Even with the Steelers on a bye, their defense is worth a stash with an upcoming matchup against Miami. Who else should you add before Week 7?

Fantasy football is all about being a step ahead of your competition, and this weekly column aims to help you achieve that in a couple of ways.

First, I will identify players who could ultimately provide some value for your teams before they become hot waiver-wire adds. This will save you from spending an exorbitant amount of your free agent acquisition budget (FAAB) or using a high waiver priority on them, ultimately allowing you to save each of these for when you most need it.

Second, I'll dig through the data and player trends to illustrate why these players will be worth taking up a spot on your roster. I'm going to try to find the diamonds in the rough that inevitably emerge each and every year so that you don't have to sweat over whether or not you claimed them on waivers -- because you will already own them!

My goal each week is to provide you with starting and flex-caliber players at each of their respective positions. That means I'm looking for top-12 quarterbacks, tight ends, and defenses, and top-36 running backs and wide receivers. If I've done that, then I've done my job.

So let's take a look at this past week!

Player Positional Ranking Half-PPR Points
Gardner Minshew 26th 5.6
Mohamed Sanu 56th 4.4
Phillip Dorsett DNP 0
Chris Herndon DNP 0

It wasn't a great week as Minshew Mania came to a screeching halt as Gardner Minshew posted his first game under 16 fantasy points all season. Meanwhile, Mohamed Sanu was the odd man out in a scoring frenzy between the Atlanta Falcons and Arizona Cardinals. The other two, Phillip Dorsett and Chris Herndon, both missed the week due to injury, which is near impossible to predict two weeks out.

Matthew Stafford, QB, Detroit Lions

ESPN Ownership: 50%

Coming off of a less-than-spectacular Monday Night Football performance, Matthew Stafford is quietly having a decent fantasy year as he ranks 11th in points per game for quarterbacks. So far this year, Stafford has scored at least 16 fantasy points in three of five games and has never posted fewer than 11 fantasy points.

Contributing to his fantasy success has been his solid efficiency. His current interception rate of 1.2 percent is the lowest of his career. He's thrown double-digit picks in each season of his career, but he's only thrown two picks so far this season. Stafford also ranks seventh among quarterbacks in Passing Net Expected Points per drop back (0.23), ahead of elite passers such as Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers. Additionally, if Stafford were to continue his mark of 8.0 passing yards per attempt through the rest of the season, it would be a career high for the 11-year veteran.

In a couple weeks, Stafford and the Detroit Lions will get to host the New York Giants, who are allowing the fifth most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks. Lots of fantasy owners will be looking for bye-week replacements for Lamar Jackson and Dak Prescott, and Stafford can be your guy.

Jamaal Williams, RB, Green Bay Packers

ESPN Ownership: 26%

We're at the point in which Jamaal Williams needs to be taken seriously and viewed as more than just a handcuff to Aaron Jones. While his value would spike tremendously if Jones were to go down for an extended period of time, Williams has still been able to provide some solid fantasy production even with Jones on the field.

In the past three games that Williams played in full, he has averaged 11.6 rush attempts per game and 3.6 targets per game. In those same games, Jones has averaged only three more carries per game and one more target per game. While Jones has a slight edge, the usage between the two is fairly even.

In Week 8, the Green Bay Packers will visit Arrowhead when they play a Kansas City Chiefs team on Sunday Night Football. The Chiefs currently allow the fifth most fantasy points to running backs, largely due to the 162 rushing yards per game that they allow to opposing offenses. You can be sure that, even in a limited role, Williams will have an opportunity to thrive.

Auden Tate, WR, Cincinnati Bengals

ESPN Ownership: 21%

The Bengals haven't provided much in the way of fantasy production so far this year. With A.J. Green continuing to miss time and John Ross getting sent to the IR, someone has had to step up in the passing game. That's where Auden Tate comes into play as one of the lone bright spots for the Cincinnati Bengals.

Over the past four games, Tate has averaged 8.5 targets per game, including two games with double-digit targets. What's more impressive is his usage in the red zone. Tate is tied for fourth in the league in red zone targets with eight -- unfortunately this has turned into just four receptions and a single touchdown. One can hope that some positive regression comes Tate's way with continued red zone usage.

Meanwhile, the Bengals will get to visit the Los Angeles Rams, who just lost Aqib Talib and John Johnson to IR and traded away Marcus Peters. They did trade for Jalen Ramsey, but the Rams should still be considered a favorable matchup for fantasy purposes against passing attacks. Even if Green comes back by Week 8, which is no guarantee, the Bengals pass it so much (71 percent pass rate) that they can support several receiving options.

Darren Fells, TE, Houston Texans

ESPN Ownership: 9%

After losing another top option to injury in Will Dissly, the tight end landscape remains in complete disarray. Fantasy owners are scrambling yet again to find a replacement player who they can plug their lineups. So this week I present to you Darren Fells of the Houston Texans.

Fells has made a name for himself as the fifth overall tight end in half PPR leagues over the past four weeks on the back of three touchdowns across those games. Further proof of his increased usage in the offense is that he's played at least 62 percent of the teams' snaps over that same four-week stretch. He's also third on the team in targets behind the team's two main weapons in DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller.

Nobody should ever root for injury, but if Jordan Akins, the Texans' other primary tight end, were to go down, it would open up a huge opportunity for Fells. Akins has only two fewer targets than Fells on the season and averages just seven fewer snaps per game.

It also helps tremendously that Deshaun Watson is playing at an MVP level, and that should be especially true when Houston gets to host the Oakland Raiders in Week 8. Oakland is currently allowing the sixth most fantasy points to the tight end position, so expect Fells to continue to thrive in his new role.

Pittsburgh Steelers, D/ST

ESPN Ownership: 30%

Defensive streaming in fantasy football is all about the matchup more than anything, and that was proven this past week when even the Washington D/ST posted a respectable fantasy day against the Miami Dolphins. Fortunately, the Pittsburgh Steelers draw that same matchup in Week 8 as they host the Dolphins on Monday Night Football.

To put into perspective how favorable the matchup is against the Dolphins, it's important to note that Miami has yet to allow fewer than 10 fantasy points to an opposing defense. Furthermore, each of those defenses have finished in the top 10 for the week.

It's also a perfect matchup for the Steelers in terms of their pass rush versus a terrible Miami offensive line. In their last three games, the Steelers have averaged 4.7 sacks per game while the Dolphins have allowed 4.3 sacks per game.

The Steelers are currently on their bye, which makes it even more likely that they're available in your league. No matter who is under center for the Dolphins, you'll want to make sure you can secure the Steelers D/ST to provide you with an advantage in Week 8.