Fantasy Football Start/Sit Week 7: Start Brian Robinson, Allen Lazard; Sit Jamaal Williams, Curtis Samuel
Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images. Pictured: Brian Robinson.
A number of shocking things have happened over the first six weeks of the NFL season, and setting fantasy lineups might be a serious chore with the sheer number of injuries and befuddling situations.
Whether you're 6-0 and cruising toward the playoffs or 0-6 and playing to avoid a last-place punishment, stay diligent on the waiver wire, send trade offers and make savvy start/sit decisions. There's way too much football left to get complacent or give up.
Below are some players at each position you should start in Week 7, as well as some players you should consider sitting based on matchups, injuries and trends.
Week 7 Start 'Em
Quarterbacks to Start
Geno Smith, Seahawks (at Chargers)
Phenomenal from Weeks 3 to 5, Smith was the QB2 behind only Josh Allen over that span. Unfortunately, he was a dud in Week 6 against the Cardinals right after everyone went out and burned their top waiver priority on him.
He completed 20-of-31 attempts for 197 yards, zero touchdowns, zero interceptions and rushed six times for 48 yards. He was only the QB19 for the week, but still finished above Aaron Rodgers and Justin Herbert.
Despite that game, Smith remains the overall QB7 on the season behind Allen, Lamar Jackson, Jalen Hurts, Patrick Mahomes, Joe Burrow and Kyler Murray — not bad company to be in.
I am ready to get hurt again with Smith, who I think can bounce back this week on the road against the Chargers. Los Angeles has allowed the 13th most fantasy points to quarterbacks, making them an above-average matchup this week. Smith is a low-end QB1 with four teams on bye.
Jimmy Garoppolo, 49ers (vs. Chiefs)
I talked about Garoppolo last week as a bye-week streamer against the Falcons' porous defense. He performed well once again and was the QB9 for the second week in a row, completing 29-of-41 attempts for 296 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.
Garoppolo isn't the sexiest name for fantasy (at least on paper), but he has a high floor and gets the job done. I love his matchup this week against the Chiefs, whose defense ranks bottom five in pass DVOA according to Football Outsiders.
The unit has allowed the sixth most passing yards per game and the third-most fantasy points to quarterbacks this year. Garoppolo is a fine streaming option for Allen, Hurts, Stafford or Cousins managers and he should once again flirt with low-end QB1 numbers.
Wide Receivers to Start
Allen Lazard, Packers (at Commanders)
Lazard has been the most consistent Packers fantasy player this year and is inching into must-start territory.
After missing the first game of the year, he has been rock solid (WR9 since Week 2) and has scored four times in five games. He caught 4-of-9 targets for 76 yards and a touchdown last week in the Packers' second consecutive home loss to a team from the Meadowlands.
Lazard is the only Green Bay player I feel comfortable starting on a week-to-week basis. I feel extra good about him against the Commanders, whose defense has allowed the fifth most fantasy points to wide receivers this year.
Washington's secondary looked weak even against Chicago's anemic passing attack, allowing Dante Pettis and Darnell Mooney to both have good fantasy days. Lazard is a high-end WR2 with upside in what should be a good get-right game for Aaron Rodgers.
Brandin Cooks, Texans (at Raiders)
Cooks has been up-and-down this season, largely due to the Texans' quarterback struggles. He was a flop in Week 5 against the Jaguars, catching 4-of-6 targets for 20 yards.
The good news: Cooks has an 85% snap participation rate and a near 26% target share. He is averaging 8.4 targets per game and is in a nice bounce-back spot this week coming off of a bye.
He should be well rested facing off against the Raiders, who rank bottom three in pass DVOA and is allowing the 11th most fantasy points to wide receivers. Cooks is a low-end WR2 in a favorable matchup.
Diontae Johnson, Steelers (at Dolphins)
Johnson snuck into my sit column last week due to the tough matchup against the Buccaneers. The Steelers actually showed up (and won), though Johnson was held to five catches for 28 yards in the affair. The production was not ideal, but he remains the team's WR1 with a 91% snap participation rate and a 28% target share.
Johnson is back in my good graces this week against the Dolphins, whose defense ranks 31st in pass DVOA and has allowed the eighth most fantasy points to wide receivers. Consider him a WR2 in this plush matchup.
Michael Gallup, Cowboys (vs. Lions)
Gallup is probably my spiciest start this week coming off an abysmal performance against the Eagles. He has done little since his lone touchdown in his season debut in Week 4 against the Commanders.
I believe there is reason for hope for Gallup moving forward with star quarterback Dak Prescott slated to return in a plus matchup against the Lions.
Detroit's defense ranks last in pass DVOA, having allowed the seventh most passing yards per game and the ninth most fantasy points to wide receivers. Gallup is a fringe WR3/flex play with upside.
Running Backs to Start
Brian Robinson Jr., Commanders (vs. Packers)
Robinson showed glimmers of greatness in his second NFL game. He had 17 carries for 60 yards and scored his first career touchdown in Week 6 against the Bears, finishing as the RB17 in half PPR. He out-snapped Antonio Gibson 27 to 15 and out-touched him 17 to 8 in the game.
The Packers' run defense has been atrocious this season and ranks last in rush DVOA. They have allowed the sixth most rushing yards per game and the 12th most fantasy points to running backs this year having just been torched by Jets rookie Breece Hall.
Robinson could break out in this spot and is a low-end RB2 based on matchup and volume.
Kenyan Drake, Ravens (vs. Browns)
Drake had his best game of the season by far last week against the Giants. He recorded 10 carries for 119 yards and a touchdown and added a reception for eight yards, finishing as the RB5 in half PPR. This was his best fantasy performance since (coincidentally) Week 6 against the Broncos last year and his first 100-yard rushing game since Week 10 of 2020 against the Bills.
He was utilized heavily in the second half after starting running back J.K. Dobbins was sidelined with knee discomfort related to the turf at MetLife Stadium. This situation warrants concern, as Dobbins spent the entire 2021 season recovering from a torn ACL and has now missed back-to-back practices.
This week, the Ravens face the Browns in what could be a consequential AFC North matchup. Cleveland's defense ranks 30th in rush DVOA and has allowed the third most fantasy points to running backs this year.
The unit was torched by Rhamondre Stevenson in Week 6 and Austin Ekeler and Joshua Kelley in Week 5. Drake is a high-end RB2 week if Dobbins sits, the probability of which increases with each missed practice.
Travis Etienne Jr., Jaguars (vs. Giants)
It pains me to say that James Robinson season may be officially over.
Etienne's usage has been creeping upwards (at the expense of Robinson), which has, in turn, translated to fantasy production. The Year 2 back, who did not play at all in his rookie season, posted his second 100-scrimmage-yard game in a row against the Colts and finished as the RB19 in half-PPR scoring. Meanwhile, Robinson finished as the RB30 and was out-snapped by Etienne for the third week in a row.
Both could end up being fantasy-relevant this week against the Giants, who have allowed the fifth most rushing yards per game this year and rank bottom five in rush DVOA. If I had to pick one, Etienne is a no-brainer RB2 start based on his workload of late.
Tony Pollard, Cowboys (vs. Lions)
Pollard has been up-and-down this season, finishing anywhere from RB70 to RB3 in half-PPR scoring.
He struggled (as predicted) last week against the Eagles and logged 13 touches for 52 all-purpose yards and finished as the RB28 for the week. Ezekiel Elliott had the better game and recorded 14 touches for 86 scrimmage yards and a touchdown.
As much as it would please fantasy managers to see the Cowboys commit to either Pollard or Elliott, that just does not seem likely barring an injury.
Elliott is a must-start, though Pollard should also have a nice day splitting work against the Lions' flimsy defense. Detroit ranks second worst in both rush DVOA and fantasy points allowed to running backs this year, and last in rushing yards allowed per game.
The return of quarterback Dak Prescott should be an additional boost for the entire Dallas offense. Start Pollard as a high-end RB3/flex in Week 7.
Tight Ends to Start
Gerald Everett, Chargers (vs. Seahawks)
Despite a couple of down performances in Weeks 5 and 6, Everett is the overall TE8 this year in half-PPR scoring. He hauled in 5-of-7 targets for 29 yards last week against the Broncos and finished as the TE24 for the week.
This should be a good rebound spot against the Seahawks, whose defense ranks bottom seven in pass DVOA and has allowed the most fantasy points to tight ends. Much of that came from Taysom Hill's explosion in Week 5, though Seattle has been undeniably permeable against the pass.
Everett is a low-end TE1 once again with four teams on bye.
David Njoku, Browns (at Ravens)
I feel it is an indictment on the state of the tight end position that Njoku is the TE7 in half-PPR scoring. In fairness, he has been targeted frequently and is averaging 6.8 targets per game in the last five weeks.
He caught 3-of-6 targets for 58 yards in the Browns' awful showing against the Patriots and was the TE16 for the week.
As one of Jacoby Brissett's top targets, Njoku lands squarely in the low-end TE1 category against the Ravens' middle-of-the-road pass defense.
Defense to Start
Jets D/ST (at Broncos)
This is not a typo. I am, in earnest, recommending starting the Jets defense, which is the DST7 through six games. The unit was strong against a hapless Steelers team and a Skylar Thompson-led Dolphins team and finished as the DST5 and DST8 in Weeks 4 and 5, respectively. They were not expected to be a strong start last week against Aaron Rodgers and the Packers, however, and shocked many by finishing as the DST1. The unit recorded one fumble recovery, four sacks, one touchdown and held Green Bay to just 10 points at Lambeau Field.
Their recent success has been due in no small part to rookie cornerback Sauce Gardner, who has contributed to the team's 10 takeaways this year (tied with the Falcons, Vikings, Steelers and Seahawks for the fifth-most in the NFL). They get a juicy matchup against a struggling Broncos team, which may be without Russell "Let's Ride" Wilson, who is nursing a hamstring injury. Even with Wilson, the team has averaged an NFL-low 15.2 points per game, making the J-E-T-S a top 12 play in Week 7.
Week 7 Sit 'Em
Quarterbacks to Sit
Jared Goff, Lions (at Cowboys)
Goff has showed glimmers of fantasy relevance behind the Lions' top-notch offensive line and has been startable in the right matchups. He was the QB8 in Week 2 against Washington and the QB1 in Week 4 against Seattle. He struggled, however, against the Eagles, Vikings and Patriots, two of which have top six pass defenses according to Football Outsiders' DVOA.
This is not one of those matchups, as I expect Goff to struggle once again with Dallas' third-ranked pass defense (DVOA) on deck. The Cowboys have allowed the fourth fewest passing yards and eighth fewest fantasy points per game to fantasy quarterbacks this year.
Goff will likely be on the run against Dallas' front seven and could throw a pick or two with Trevon Diggs lurking in the secondary. He is a QB2 with major bust potential.
Russell Wilson, Broncos (vs. Jets)
Wilson is a sit until further notice.
He has finished as a top-12 quarterback just once all year (Week 4 vs. Las Vegas), which was his lone multi-touchdown game through six weeks. He struggled again against the Chargers and completed 15-of-28 attempts for 188 yards and one touchdown, also tacking on 23 yards on the ground.
The fact that Wilson isn't even a start against the Jets with four teams on bye should be a testament to how bad he has been. He is the QB17 through six weeks with just five passing touchdowns in six games.
I don't know if it's the coaching, the change of systems or the altitude at Mile High, but Wilson just looks dangerously bad. He falls well outside of the top 12 this week against the Jets, whose defense has actually been shockingly good of late, most recently holding four-time NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers very much in check.
Wide Receivers to Sit
D.J. Moore, Panthers (vs. Buccaneers)
I had cautious optimism that Moore would actually be okay with P.J. Walker under center.
The wideout had done well in the past opposite the former Houston Roughneck, but Moore was still a complete flop in Week 6 in Los Angeles. He caught 3-of-7 targets for seven yards and was the WR73 in half PPR.
Baker Mayfield is apparently practicing this week, though it's unclear if he or Walker will start. Frankly, it doesn't matter.
Moore is not quarterback-proof and will likely stack up poorly against Tampa Bay's defense. The Buccaneers rank top four in pass DVOA and have allowed the seventh fewest passing yards. Moore is a low-end WR3 with a nonexistent floor until the Panthers improve their QB play, which could be on hold until after the 2023 NFL Draft.
Garrett Wilson, Jets (at Broncos)
I recommended sitting Wilson last week and will continue to do so — even amid news that fellow receiver Elijah Moore requested a trade.
It legitimately saddens me that the return of Zach Wilson has rendered almost all of the Jets' pass-catchers unstartable (save Breece Hall). The wildly talented rookie from Ohio State looked stellar through three weeks with Joe Flacco under center and was the WR15 in half PPR.
He is the WR77 since Wilson took over and I doubt that ranking will improve after the Week 7 matchup in Denver. The Broncos' pass defense — led by second-year cornerback Patrick Surtain II — rank No. 1 in pass DVOA. They have allowed the fifth fewest passing yards per game and second fewest fantasy points to receivers this year.
Factoring in the poor QB play and brutal matchup, Wilson is a firm sit.
Darnell Mooney, Bears (at Patriots)
Mooney has shown faint signs of life since Week 4. He has at least 52 receiving yards in each of his games since and is the WR30 in half PPR, a marked jump from Weeks 1-3 when he was the WR114.
I may be on an island, but I do think there is cause for optimism about the Bears' passing attack (namely Justin Fields), which really could not get any worse than how it started the year. That said, I expect Fields and his pass-catchers to struggle against the Patriots, whose defense ranks top six in pass DVOA.
I would suggest hanging on to Mooney if you have the roster space, as I do think he will be fantasy relevant in the right matchups. He is firmly outside the WR3 tier, however, in this tough Week 7 matchup.
Curtis Samuel, Commanders (vs. Packers)
Samuel started the season hot — especially in PPR formats — and was the WR10 through three weeks. Since Week 4, however, the Commanders' offense has been on a decline and Samuel is the WR63 in half-PPR scoring.
He was a complete flop in Week 6 against the Bears and tallied two catches for six yards. Things probably won't get better for him this week with Taylor Heinicke filling in for the injured Carson Wentz.
Green Bay has allowed an NFL-low 164 passing yards per game and the seventh fewest fantasy points to wide receivers. I expect all Washington pass-catchers to struggle and for Ron Rivera's squad to lean heavily on the run, where the Packers are weakest. Samuel is a risky WR3 with downside.
Running Backs to Sit
Jamaal Williams, Lions (at Cowboys)
Williams has been a waiver wire savior this season. He performed well even with D'Andre Swift on the field and was the RB8 in half PPR through the first five weeks before the Lions' bye week.
Swift has logged two limited practices this week and had the bye week to recover from ankle and shoulder injuries. Assuming he plays, Williams is a firm sit in Dallas.
The Cowboys have allowed the sixth fewest fantasy points to running backs and Swift will eat into Williams' workload if healthy. The game script will likely be unfavorable to the run, as the Lions are touchdown underdogs heading into the weekend.
If Swift suffers a setback and sits, Williams would be a low-upside RB2.
Melvin Gordon III, Broncos (vs. Jets)
It has been quite the confusing situation in Denver ever since star running back Javonte Williams tore his ACL. Gordon was the incumbent starter with Williams out for the year, but he has struggled with ball security issues.
The veteran leads all running backs with four fumbles through six games and was ostensibly benched in the second half of the Broncos' Week 6 matchup against the Chargers in favor of Latavius Murray.
Murray out-snapped Gordon 27 to 9 and out-touched Gordon 16 to 3 and was the RB25 for the week in half PPR. Hackett claims that Gordon, who was clearly frustrated with his usage, was not benched and insists that he will start this week, though I have difficulty trusting anything the Denver coach says at this point.
This could be a "squeaky wheel" game where Gordon gets fed to placate his frustrations; it's equally possible that Gordon is outright benched.
I have little to no faith in any of the Denver RBs, especially with Russell Wilson dealing with injuries and playing terribly when healthy. I would sit Gordon in light of this uncertainty and bust potential.
Antonio Gibson, Commanders (vs. Packers)
Gibson has been trending in the wrong direction for weeks.
He was gifted the opportunity (once again) to run away with the RB1 job after rookie Brian Robinson Jr. was shot. Gibson's best game of the season came in Week 1, when he tallied 21 touches for 130 scrimmage yards and was the RB12. He was the RB15 in Week 2, which was his last week finishing top 24 at the position.
The snap counts tell an even more worrisome story: Gibson participated in 64% of snaps in Week 1, 54% in Week 2, 44% in Week 3, 41% in Week 4, 32% in Week 5 and a season-low 26% in Week 6.
He was out-snapped by Robinson 27 to 15 last week and could be relegated to returning punts soon. Even in this plus matchup against the Packers' exploitable run defense, Gibson falls outside the RB3 tier and is a firm sit.
Chase Edmonds, Dolphins (vs. Steelers)
Edmonds bounced back ever so slightly in Week 6 following his Week 5 goose egg against the Jets. He saw two carries for three yards and caught two passes for 28 yards and finished as the RB40 in half PPR while Raheem Mostert was the RB35.
It was his best fantasy performance and highest snap participation rate since Week 3. This is not enough to let Edmonds out of the dog house, even with quarterback Tua Tagovailoa returning.
The Steelers have been permeable against the pass, but have been above average against the run, ranking 10th in rush DVOA. The matchup and timeshare with Mostert are enough to scare me away from Edmonds until further notice.
Tight End to Sit
Hunter Henry, Patriots (vs. Bears)
Henry was one of my sleeper targets entering the year after a banner season in which he caught a career-high nine touchdowns.
He has been disappointing thus far, but finally found the end zone in Week 6 against the Browns. He caught 4-of-7 targets for 61 yards and was the TE4 in half-PPR scoring.
I am concerned about chasing touchdowns in this situation, especially with Jonnu Smith returning last week from a two-game absence. He was targeted twice and hauled in a monster, 53-yard catch.
The Bears are not the easiest matchup, especially for tight ends. Chicago has allowed the sixth fewest fantasy points to the position this year and are above average against the pass. Henry is nothing more than a touchdown-dependent, desperation play.
Mike Gesicki, Dolphins (vs. Steelers)
If you look up "boom or bust" in the dictionary, you'll find a picture of Mike Gesicki.
He has the same number of games with one fantasy point as he does with double-digit fantasy points in half PPR. He popped off in Week 6 against the Vikings and caught 6-of-7 targets for 69 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
The tight end position is notoriously touchdown dependent, though Gesicki is next level. I would not trust him against the Steelers, who have been surprisingly tough against TEs this year, having allowed the ninth fewest fantasy point to the position.
Defense to Sit
49ers D/ST (vs. Chiefs)
Entering Week 6, the 49ers were the DST1 and had not allowed more than 19 points in a game (which happened Week 1 in Chicago on a turf that resembled a slip and slide). However, their defense truly struggled for the first time in Week 6 and allowed a season-high 28 points to the Falcons.
They could struggle even more against a Chiefs team that ranks top six in yards per game and has scored a NFL-high 29.8 points per game. They are a matchup-based sit.