A top fantasy running back injured? a breakout star down too.... what should you do now?
By Martin Richardson
Another week, another set of injuries to make waivers and fantasy football trades a must going into week 7. With Kyren Williams looking likely to miss some time, and Christian McCaffrey yet to practice this week, some fantasy players will be scrambling to claim at least one back up option, or trading in order to stay relevant in their league. What we did see from some teams made people excited about their lineups: with Kareem Hunt rolling back the years with a touchdown performance for the Browns, AJ Brown getting another 100+ yards for the Eagles and Travis Etienne having another two-touchdown game in consecutive weeks. It all made for another dynamic week for fantasy players.
Can week 7 top it? Possibly. With big teams and big fantasy players on bye weeks, it looks like the waiver wire may be as important as ever. Let’s dive in…
RAMS RB: ZACH EVANS
Let’s start with the one that hurts the most for me. It’s becoming a bit of a habit now, isn’t it? Running back goes down injured, let’s look at the next man up. In this case it’s the slight injury to Fantasy Football saviour Kyren Willliams. I have never been so happy to pick up Williams on waivers and him be such a good replacement for the injured Nick Chubb. But, after a monster second half performance where he ran for over 150 yards and a touchdown, Williams is carrying an injury that will see him miss at least a week, but with a week 10 bye week looming, an extended period of time out could be on the cards. Which pains me as he has carried my fantasy team recently!
Nevertheless, in a McVay offence, if your face fits, you’re going to be able to plug in and play almost instantly. Cam Akers couldn’t get going, so up-stepped Williams. Williams is injured, so up-steps Zach Evans.
What are the Rams, and fantasy players getting with Evans then? He didn’t take part in the combine due to an injury, which meant he perhaps dipped down the draft boards of some teams. What is clear is that he could be a bit of a steal for the Rams when they picked him up with 215th pick in the 2023 draft. With 10 total touchdowns at Ole Miss in 2022, nearly 1000 yards rushing and over 100 yard receiving, Evans has the potential to step it up this week in against the Steelers who rank 26th on defence when dealing with running backs.
I tell you what, writing that has made me incredibly jealous of whoever picks him up on waivers. I know I won’t even get close to claiming in my league.
If you’re like me, knowing you’re not getting one of the top waiver claims available, what other avenues could you go down to help you fantasy football championship charge?
JEFF WILSON JR
Finally back of injured reserve, Wilson Jr is expected to play in the tough match up against the Eagles, but when it comes to the Dolphins, anything can happen this season. Who would have had Raheem Mostert collecting 11 touchdowns this season already, and a rookie who was on track to break records before an untimely injury? Let’s not forget, that last season he was very productive pre and post trade to the Dolphins, with just shy of 900 yards and 5 touchdowns, averaging 4.9 yards a carry in 2022. I think its fair to say that Wilson presents a very interesting waiver pick up, with him only on 50% of rosters at the moment.
This is more of a situational pick up; and by that I mean the Chiefs are playing the Chargers and I think this could be a very one sided affair. Rice has looked solid for MVP candidate Mahomes with two touchdowns on the season and several games with over 50 yards. He could well be a solid waiver wire pick up if you are in need of a flex. Add to the mix that in week 8 the Chiefs play the Broncos, I would certainly be stashing him if I could.
Gardner Minshew threw the ball a whopping 55 times on Sunday, and this bodes very well for Colts WRs. However, Alex Pierce looks likely to miss the next game and that opens the door for someone like Josh Downs. Michael Pittman can’t get all the targets, so up steps Downs into the WR2 discussion. His targets are on and upward curve over the last few weeks, culminating last week with a touchdown against the Jaguars. I’d look to add him to your team if he’s available, and with only 33% of teams rostering him, you’ve got a great chance of snagging him.
My Mulligan of the week: the fall of the undefeated…
Should we all panic now that the 49ers and the Eagles lost a game and are now 5-1? Absolutely not. Which is why they both get a mulligan going into this week. They are both still NFC powerhouses and I would certainly look for the 49ers to get right against the Vikings even if Deebo Samuel and Christian McCaffrey are not 100%.
But the Eagles are playing the Dolphins and that poses an interesting matchup.
For Fantasy football, this could be a perfect game, unless you have their defences. Hurts threw three uncharacteristic interceptions but still managed to throw 280 yards to Brown and Smith. And he’s always good for a Brotherly Shove every now and again.
As for the Dolphins, they are a fantasy managers, well, fantasy. Tua and Hill have been electric all season and with touchdowns creeping into Waddle’s game, you do wonder if they’ve hit top gear yet. Hill nearly has 1000 receiving yards and it’s just week 7. Tua has 14 touchdowns already, which is more than 15 teams in the NFL. And let’s not forget the run game: Mostert has 11 touchdowns and he now comes up against a mean run defence, so that should be interesting to see how it shapes up.
Fantasy Football worry: The Tampa BAy Buccaneers
Yes, it’s taken seven weeks before I’ve caved and written about my beloved Buccaneers. All it took was a shocker of a performance against a dominant Detroit Lions team. And it was a dominant showing for one of the best NFC teams.
The 3-2 Buccaneers have a total of 9 touchdowns on offence. To put that into perspective, the Patriots have 8, the Falcons have 10 and Raheem Mostert has 11. This is not an offence that is working and as we have seen so far, they are found out real quick if they come up against a really competent team.
I want to focus on one of the biggest issues with the Buccaneers- their run game. It just doesn’t exist. Apart from one game against the up-and-down Bears, Rachaad White has not been the RB1 that the Bucs need on offence. He has one game above 70 yards rushing and in that same game he had 30 yards receiving, with a touchdown to complete the performance. Aside from that, he and the Buccaneers have struggled to move the ball on the ground, with constant one and two yard gains, leaving Baker Mayfield no option but to throw the ball from 3rd and long situations.
So that must mean that the receivers are getting the ball because they’re having to adapt mid game? Not really.
Mike Evans does have 3 touchdowns but only 40 yards in the past two games against the Saints and Lions. It was made very clear in the media that Evans was going to see out his contract year with a chip on his shoulder after not getting that new deal before week one. But he isn’t exactly helping his case with so little production this season. He has such varied target numbers as well: ranging from 10 against Vikings and Eagles, to 3 against the Saints; making Evans such a hot and cold fantasy football starter.
Which means Chris Godwin is getting the ball more? Not really. He has no touchdowns but he’s beginning to be used more in the offence to get the team moving downfield, with 191 yards in his last two games. Like Evans, Godwin has one game where he has over 10 targets, and all others much lower, making it hard to trust him in the dog days of bye weeks for fantasy line ups.
Tight End Cade Otton only has one game above 20 yards, where he was targeted 6 times, and a single touchdown to his name this season in the same game which was the Bears. Read into that what you will.
What is really clear is that the Bucs need to find some way to get the ball moving. Post bye week, the Bucs have the Falcons, Bills and Texans, none of which are easy games. And we’ve already seen what two good teams (the Eagles and Lions) can do to the Buccaneers offence. To come away with two wins from those three is what would have been great, but I would argue it’s a must now if the Bucs want to get back on track.
Perhaps I am hoping to manifest this postive change as I have recently been worried about the Bengals and the Cowboys, both of whom have taken a positive turn in results and the likes of Chase and Lamb are looking like what was hoped in the fantasy draft season. Fingers crossed I am three for three!
A Yorkshireman living in Lancashire, Martin is a massive NFL fan but his heart belongs to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Also a huge Fantasy Football enthusiast and spends far too long crunching the numbers! Follow him at @MRBucsFan31