NFL Week 7 Fantasy Football Start or Sit Mailbag: What to Do with Cameron Meredith and Jordan Howard
- Each week we crowdsource fantasy football start or sit questions on Twitter and by email.
- Ryan Collinsworth answers six questions for Week 7, including whether Cameron Meredith or Tre'Quan Smith is the better bet.
- Plus: Jordan Howard has been ceding snaps to Tarik Cohen in recent weeks. What should you do with the veteran running back?
The Green Bay Packers, Oakland Raiders, Pittsburgh Steelers and Seattle Seahawks are all on byes this week, which should result in roster shuffling for plenty of fantasy teams in redraft leagues.
Thus the question many of us face for our deeper bench players is: Start or sit?
Each week we crowdsource fantasy football questions on Twitter at @ActionNetworkHQ and @ActionNetNFL, and by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Remember to include your league settings (standard, PPR, superflex, etc.) in your question.
Thanks to everyone who reached out with questions for the Week 7 mailbag. Let’s jump into it.
Question: Cameron Meredith or Tre’Quan Smith for the rest of the season (PPR)?
I’m all-in on Smith. In his final season at UCF, he caught 59 passes for 1,171 yards — a staggering 19.8 yards per reception — and 13 touchdowns. Taken in the third round of the 2018 draft, the rookie tore up the preseason with 15 receptions for 189 yards and a touchdown, leading the Saints in all three statistical categories.
After nursing an injured hamstring to start the season, Smith saw his first major opportunity in Week 5 starting for the injured Ted Ginn Jr. (knee). Smith caught only three passes, but they went for 111 yards and two touchdowns.
Now, with Ginn headed to injured reserve, Smith has a clear path to starter’s snaps and receiving volume for the rest of the season.
Oh yeah, and one more thing: The Saints have an excellent track record targeting skill position talent over the past several years, featuring the following first- through fifth-round picks since 2010:
Do you see the names on that list? It’s completely ludicrous. And most importantly, all of those drafted players saw ample volume for the Saints in their rookie seasons.
They didn’t require years of development; they played right away. Smith is the next in line to carry on that tradition.
Question: Antonio Callaway or Cameron Meredith for the rest of the season (half-point PPR)?
I feel I’ve made my opinion on Smith abundantly clear, which should tip you off that I’m consequently low on Meredith’s outlook. He’s dealt with nagging injuries throughout the preseason and regular season, and he’s ceded playing time to Smith even when healthy.
Callaway hasn’t exactly been impressive, either, but he possesses a couple things that Meredith does not: Game-breaking speed and opportunity.
Callaway posted a 4.41-second 40-yard dash time at the combine and has showed off his elite straight-line speed already this season. The Browns have consistently deployed him as a field stretcher, and they’ve targeted him for big plays throughout the season. He ranks seventh in the NFL in average target air yards (15.5) per Next Gen Stats. Moreover, he boasts a nearly identical air-yards market share (27.14%) to his teammate Jarvis Landry (27.26%). Although those deep targets haven’t connected reliably to start the season, they should eventually.
On top of that, Callaway has little-to-no competition for starter’s snaps. His primary competition to start the season included veterans Rashard Higgins and Ricardo Louis, both of whom are injured.
Question: Jordan Howard or Austin Ekeler (PPR)?
Dang… I mean, I know Howard hasn’t exactly set the fantasy football world on fire this season, but putting him in the same class as Ekeler?
Don’t get me wrong: I understand where you’re coming from. Howard has been ceding snaps to Tarik Cohen in recent weeks, and Ekeler has posted usage and production above expectation.
But I believe strongly that Howard’s rushing volume will improve. The Bears should lean into the strength of their defense by attempting to control the clock on the ground against the Patriots. That kind of conservative game plan bodes well for Howard’s rushing volume. He finished sixth in the NFL in rushing yards last season and second in 2016.
The Bears will find a way to get him more involved in their offense, starting this week.
Question: Adrian Peterson, Corey Clement, Dalvin Cook, Marlon Mack or Howard in PPR (need two)?
Yikes. This one’s tough.
First, Cook has since been ruled out since this question was posed. Even before that, I was still scared off by his general health. I can’t advise anyone to start him until the Vikings prove that they believe he’s 100%.
Clement is a good alternative and ranks as our experts’ 24th running back in PPR this week. However, even with the absence of Jay Ajayi, there’s still the possibility that Clement splits his workload with Wendell Smallwood. It could turn into a week-to-week guessing game to predict which of those two running backs will draw more usage.
Mack has huge potential now that he’s (supposedly) fully healthy. But he played relatively few snaps last week despite his 89-yard rushing performance and faces a Bills defense that ranks seventh in the NFL in Football Outsiders’ DVOA against the run.
Moreover, like Clement and Smallwood, we still don’t know for certain how Mack and Nyheim Hines will split the Colts’ backfield usage.
So, that leaves Peterson and Howard. Howard boasts the highest median projection among the running backs in question, and Peterson boasts the highest ceiling projection. Assuming both backs are healthy and available, start them with confidence this week.
Week 7 Fantasy Football Rankings
Question: Baker Mayfield, Mitchell Trubisky, Blake Bortles, Eli Manning or Joe Flacco — Who is the safest pick/floor? Just trying to eke out a win.
Bortles. Among the five quarterbacks you listed, Bortles boasts the highest median, ceiling and floor projections this week. He draws a matchup against a porous Texans defense that ranks 22nd in DVOA against the pass.
Bortles consistently provides sneaky rushing upside that elevates his fantasy floor. He has amassed 188 rushing yards and a rushing touchdown already this season.
Alternatively, Trubisky offers similar rushing upside, and Flacco draws an excellent matchup against the Saints defense.
Question: Do I start Joe Flacco, or stack Eli Manning with OBJ and Evan Engram on my team?
As I just mentioned, Flacco has a dream matchup against the Saints. New Orleans ranks 30th in DVOA against the pass but is first in the NFL against the run. Meanwhile, the Ravens have demonstrated a preference to pass this season and could favor it again this week.
However, Manning also has a nice matchup against the banged-up Falcons defense. Atlanta’s secondary is one of the worst in the NFL, and New York could be poised for a bounce-back offensive performance.
Manning boasts a higher ceiling projection than Flacco this week, so stacking him with your Giants receivers makes sense. If you’re already in a highly leveraged position on the Giants, you might as well capture Manning’s passing upside. If Manning and the Giants have a poor game, you’ll likely lose anyway with that much Giants exposure. But if he explodes for 300-plus passing yards, you’ll kick yourself all week for not starting him.
Go with Eli.