Fantasy Football: 5 Bold Predictions for Week 7
One of the things that makes fantasy football so captivating is the variance. Derrick Henry was the RB1 in all of fantasy in 0.5 PPR in 2020, but Henry himself only had three weeks as the top fantasy scorer. That means, on individual weeks, some very strange players may lead the league in fantasy points at their positions.
That opens the door for some room to be "spicy" and make some fun predictions. In a landscape increasingly set ablaze by "hot takes," it can be difficult to understand the difference between a bold prediction -- based on a particularly strong spot for a team or player -- and a senseless take with the prayer of becoming correct based on variance.
Let's shoot for the former with five interesting spots to target during this weekend's NFL games.
(All predictions are for half-PPR and FanDuel scoring for quarterbacks.)
1. Matt Ryan and Tua Tagovailoa Posts Dueling Top-15 Quarterback Games
With five spreads of a touchdown or greater across 13 total Week 7 NFL games, it will be more difficult to find tight games than normal.
The Miami Dolphins and Atlanta Falcons should provide one. Their 2.5-point spread is the closest on the weekend slate, and it comes with a healthy, 52.5-point total as well. Tight spreads with totals are great for quarterbacks, and two capable ones enter this content. As usual, Matt Ryan is calling signals for Atlanta, and Tua Tagovailoa is healthy again for Miami.
These opposing secondaries have been -- without exaggeration -- two of the worst in the league. Miami is allowing 0.39 Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) per drop back, which is the second-highest mark in the NFL behind Detroit. Atlanta's secondary is perenially bad, which makes their 0.29 mark in the same category (fifth-worst in the NFL) not surprising, either.
Unlike many of the poor secondaries this weekend that may let things get out of hands, these "Spider-Man meme" defenses should be forced to try all game. That is great news for Ryan and Tua and in plus matchups, but especially Ryan against a Dolphins' defense that just played in a different country.
The best environment of the day should net two top-15 passers in Week 7.
2. Derrick Henry Eclipses 200 Rushing Yards
It's a little absurd to predict an NFL running back for 200 yards entering a game, but it's even more absurd that doing so may not even be bold in this one situation.
Derrick Henry continues to mash opposing defenses at a record-setting pace. Henry's 162 carries through six weeks is a pace that would shatter the 16-game NFL record, but the additional 17th game makes it a near certainty he will set a new NFL top mark. Overall, Henry is seeing 33.0 adjusted opportunities (carries plus double targets) through six games, and that is the top mark in the NFL.
His 94.1% rush share is what makes this prediction possible and plausible. If Patrick Mahomes can score points to keep up (going to say yes there), Henry should continue to dominate the backfield on what is the very worst rush defense in the NFL. Kansas City is allowing 0.18 Adjusted Rushing NEP per carry to opposing running back, which is almost double the next highest squad (Green Bay; 0.11).
Henry is on one of the best streaks of his already-prolific career, and now he takes his monstrous workload into the best possible matchup for a back. numberFire's projection of 108.7 rushing yards is just a median one, but it still feels criminally low for "King Henry".
3. Chuba Hubbard and Devontae Booker Match McCaffery and Barkley's Per Game Averages
McCaffery is averaging 16.8 half-PPR points per game, and Barkley is averaging 11.5 per game. Those are both achievable marks for their backups and handcuffs that continue to see an elite workload.
Chuba Hubbard has had the unfortunate draw of replacing CMC, but he should continue to get the overwhelming share of opportunities. Hubbard drew 16 of 17 running back carries in Week 6, but his total was limited by Carolina's negative game script. Considering Matt Rhule wants to establish the run (and avoid Sam Darnold), Hubbard should get all the work he can handle against a Giants' defense that has allowed the third-most Rushing NEP per carry (0.09) in the NFL.
As for Devontae Booker, it is not definitive that Barkley misses Sunday's contest, so this prediction stands as a "no contest" if Barkley makes a miracle return. If Barkley is out, though, Booker should have more success than he did in Week 6. Booker handled 12 of 15 running back carries in an exclusively negative script. He only ceded three to Elijhaa Penny when the game was out of hand, and Booker still played 71.2% of the overall snaps.
The Panthers' run defense has been equally as poor as New York's (0.09 Rushing NEP per carry), which should put both backs in a position to exceed the original starters' per-game marks as top-tier starts again this week.
4. Ricky Seals-Jones Posts Double-Digits Again
Waiver wire darling Ricky Seals-Jones delivered on his strong matchup against the Chiefs, and he gets another tremendous one this weekend.
The Packers are allowing the sixth-most adjusted fantasy points to tight ends this season, and it has come from a variety of calibers of tight ends. Sure, they were torched by George Kittle and T.J. Hockenson, but Juwan Johnson caught a pair of touchdowns against them as well, and Cole Kmet was four yards short of Chicago's leading receiver in Week 6.
Seals-Jones probably falls somewhere -- in terms of ability -- between each pair. He has played all but one snap the past two weeks, and that means he will be on the field plenty to take advantage of this matchup. He's commanded a 17.7% target share from Taylor Heinicke in that time -- more than respectable for his position.
In a plus matchup, and with Washington suffering a myriad of injuries to skill players, there is a clear path that the big man can exceed 10 half-PPR points again on a Green Bay defense missing Jaire Alexander.
5. The Giants DST Finishes Outside the Top-15 Defenses
The Giants are going to be a popular streaming option this week, but it is essentially just because of Sam Darnold.
Look, there is no doubt Darnold is struggling. Darnold has stumbled to a -0.33 Passing NEP per drop back mark in the past two combined weeks. However, this is still the QB11 in most formats, and there is a clear reason for the two down weeks -- his matchups.
Philadelphia has allowed 12th-fewest Passing NEP per drop back (0.12) to opposing quarterbacks, and Minnesota (0.00) has allowed the 4th-fewest in that same category. Many passers have struggled with those matchups, and just about no quarterback has struggled with the G-Men.
New York is allowing the fifth-most (0.30) Passing NEP per drop back to opposing quarterbacks. They also have only generated just a 28% pressure rate this season -- fifth-worst amongst teams playing this week. In short, Darnold should be much more comfortable against a team that has recently allowed Dak Prescott and Matthew Stafford to go nuts against them.
The Giants' defense hasn't eclipsed 6.0 fantasy points this season, and they should not be a priority target in Week 7, either, just because of a quarterback that has struggled in two below-average matchups.