Fantasy Football: 5 Things We Learned in Week 7
Week 7 was a rainy, miserable week for a whole bunch of NFL teams -- and a whole bunch of fantasy players.
Things started out on the wrong foot on Thursday Night Football, and only got sloppier from there. A weekend of downpours led to some strange game scripts, and a series of unfortunate injuries have changed the fantasy landscape yet again. We're now halfway through the regular season for most fantasy football leagues, and there's a lot of information to process before your Week 8 matchups. So without further ado, here are 5 Things We Learned in Week 7.
Mahomes and Ryan are Down
Mahomes had already been moderately banged up entering Thursday night's tilt against the Denver Broncos. He had been struggling through a nagging ankle injury over the past couple of weeks, but the unthinkable happened in the second quarter -- Mahomes dislocated his kneecap. Early reports convey a relieving sense of optimism towards the injury, but we will all be feeling the repercussions of the injury in fantasy football for at least a few weeks by most estimations. The Kansas City Chiefs won't be the same superpowered offense without Mahomes, regardless of whether it's Matt Moore or Chad Henne at the controls. Moore held down the fort admirably in place of Mahomes on Thursday night -- even connecting with Tyreek Hill for a score -- but we have to downgrade every member of that offense for as long as Mahomes remains sidelined.
On the other hand, we've had much less time to digest what happened to Matt Ryan in the Atlanta Falcons embarrassing loss to the Los Angeles Rams Sunday afternoon. Early reports believe Ryan suffered a sprained ankle -- he'll undergo an MRI later today -- and even that he has a chance to suit up in Week 8, but with the Falcons' bye coming up in Week 9 they might decide to rest Ryan in what's already become a lost season. Like with the Chiefs, we have to downgrade every fantasy-relevant player on the Falcons if Ryan misses any time. Matt Schaub did complete all 6 of his attempts for 65 yards and a touchdown while filling in, but we can't rely on him to produce 300-plus yards each week like Ryan was doing.
Week 7 was a rough week for quarterbacks in what has already been a rough year for quarterbacks.
David Johnson Might be Losing his Job
David Johnson was "healthy" in Week 7 and finished with just 0.20 fantasy points. He had the first carry of the game and then just disappeared. He finished the game with three total offensive snaps.
So now we have to talk about Chase Edmonds, who stole the entire show on Sunday. Edmonds went berserk against the New York Giants defense, totaling 126 rushing yards and 3 touchdowns on 27 carries while adding another 24 yards on 2 receptions. He was utterly dominant, routinely ripping off chunk gains and evading tacklers. He seemed literally unstoppable to start the game with 20-yard rushing touchdowns on back to back drives. While he only reeled in 2 of his 4 targets, his 24 receiving yards nearly led the entire team in receiving yardage in a week where Kyler Murray barely threw at all.
In short, Edmonds did everything you would expect David Johnson to do -- and more. Even if Johnson is fully healthy heading into Week 8, it's no guarantee that he'll assume his old workhorse role in this offense. Chase Edmonds is playing his way into the starting running back job for the Arizona Cardinals.
The Chargers Were Better Without Melvin Gordon
Through the first four weeks of the season, Ekeler averaged over 100 yards from scrimmage per game and had a total of 6 touchdowns. Melvin Gordon saw Ekeler tearing it up, realized he had close to zero leverage behind his holdout, and returned for the Chargers' Week 5 game against the Denver Broncos. The team then proceeded to give the Broncos their first win of the season, and lost the two games since then to backup quarterbacks. And it's all Gordon's fault.
That was a little hyperbolic -- it's not Gordon's fault that the Chargers seem obsessed with the idea of running him into brick walls. Through the first four weeks of the season, Ekeler was averaging 0.02 Rushing NEP per rush and had a solid Rushing Success Rate of 48.21%. NEP and Success Rate are numberFire metrics that use historical down and distance data to measure how much value each play on a football adds or subtracts from their team's expected points total -- you can read more about those metrics and others in the terms glossary. In the three games since he returned, Gordon has averaged -0.45 Rushing NEP per rush and an abysmal 22.22% Rushing Success Rate. He's been markedly worse than Ekeler was in the same role.
Meanwhile, Ekeler has still found a way to ball out despite spending less time on the football field. He's been an absolute stud in the receiving game, averaging 72.7 receiving yards per game since Gordon's return -- his 218 receiving yards lead all running backs over that span of time.
It's no secret that the Chargers' offensive line is a disaster right now, but even in that situation, Ekeler is out-performing Gordon. If the Chargers want to have a shot at making the playoffs this year, they'll need to give Ekeler back the starting job.
Kerryon Johnson is in Danger of Missing Time
Kerryon Johnson has been having a pretty solid sophomore season. Until this week, he had been averaging 17.4 carries per game and almost 2 receptions per game. The Detroit Lions have been a surprisingly good team, and Johnson has been a critical part of their game plan -- he was instrumental in the team's near-victory over the Chiefs in Week 4.
But Johnson left Week 7's match against the Minnesota Vikings with a knee injury after just five carries and did not return. We don't have much insight about the injury as of this writing, but Johnson remained on the sidelines wearing a knee brace and walking with a limp during the game. It's hard to say at this point how much time Johnson will miss, but we can say with relative confidence that Ty Johnson is Kerryon's primary backup should he miss extended time.
After Kerryon left, Johnson handled 10 carries to J.D. McKissic's 5 while out-targeting the former Seattle Seahawk 4 to 3. More importantly, the Lions looked to Ty in the red zone, not McKissic, making Johnson the back to own should Kerryon miss any time.
A sixth-round pick out of Maryland in this year's NFL Draft, Ty Johnson offers tantalizing speed at the running back position -- his 4.45-second 40-yard dash at the combine measured in the 92nd-percentile. He was a big-play machine in college, and could have a chance to flash his playmaking chops against a Giants defense that just made a fellow backup running back in Chase Edmonds look like Barry Sanders. He'll be one of the biggest priority pickups on waiver wires this week.
Tannehill is Turning it Around in Tennessee
The Tennessee Titans benched their former first-round draft pick Marcus Mariota during last week's embarrassing loss to the Broncos, and it looks like they made the right call -- at least after one week, that is.
Ryan Tannehill reinvigorated a near non-existent Tennessee passing attack on Sunday, throwing for 312 yards and 2 touchdowns while completing 23 of his 29 pass attempts. Tannehill's 312 yards were more than Mariota had passed for in a single game since Week 4 of the 2018 season, and was a mark Mariota had topped just 4 times in his career.
As a result, it was a great week for the Titans' entire receiving corps. Corey Davis caught 6 of his 7 targets for 80 yards and a score, while Jonnu Smith and A.J. Brown each topped 60 receiving yards. And the receivers weren't the only ones who benefitted -- Derrick Henry ground out 90 rushing yards and a score on 22 carries while notching another 18 yards off of his only target. The whole offense thrived following the change at the quarterback position.
Ryan Tannehill should now be firmly on the map as a quarterback streamer for the rest of the season -- especially next week against a struggling Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense. His presence boosts the value of all of your Titans' players.