Saturday, October 23, 2021

Week 7 Fantasy Football WR Start'em, Sit'em

The decision on which player to start, or sit, largely comes down to the options on your roster (and/or possibly the players available on your league's waiver wire).

As an example, Jaylen Waddle is listed below as a "start" for Week 7. And I'd certainly be comfortable going into Week 7 with him as one of my starting receivers.

Then again, Waddle may be a "sit" for your team.

In other words, if you roster Calvin Ridley, Chris Godwin and Waddle and start only two receivers, you should start Ridley and Godwin and, in turn, bench Waddle.

For a more direct answer on whether we would start Player X over Player Y, check our Week 7 Fantasy Football Rankings. Instead of making those direct comparisons, the goal here is to highlight players that we like, or dislike, for the week.

Week 7 Fantasy Football WR Start'em

Jaylen Waddle, Miami Dolphins (vs. ATL)

Waddle had the best game of his young career last week in London. The first-round rookie converted 10-of-13 targets into a career-high 70 yards and scored his second and third NFL touchdowns.

Especially if DeVante Parker misses another week, Waddle should be peppered with as many targets as he can handle. The Atlanta Falcons have allowed the ninth-most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers this season.

Brandin Cooks, Houston Texans (at ARI)

Cooks had nine catches for 89 yards on 13 targets in Week 6 against the Indianapolis Colts. It was the third time this season that Cooks had nine catches and double-digit targets. Heading into Week 7, Cooks ranks fifth amongst wide receivers in receptions (40), eighth in targets (57) and 11th in receiving yards (481).

The Texans are this week's biggest underdog (18 points), so while their implied total is lowest of the week, the team should be throwing often and Cooks is a target hog (32.76% share). Even if Cooks fails to score his second touchdown of the season, the volume alone keeps him in the WR2 mix.

Sterling Shepard, New York Giants (vs. CAR)

Shepard left Week 3 early as he played only 34% of the team's snaps that week and then missed the next two games. In his other three games (90%-plus snap rates), Shepard had 7/113/1 on nine targets (Week 1), 9/94 on 10 targets (Week 2) and 10/76 on 14 targets (Week 6).

If we only look at the three weeks where Shepard played a full complement of snaps, he scored the ninth-most half-PPR fantasy points. In addition, he was tied with Adam Thielen for the most receptions (26), tied for fourth in targets (33) and was sixth in receiving yards (283) over that timespan.

Jakobi Meyers, New England Patriots (vs. NYJ)

Meyers has a minimum of four catches and five targets in all six games this season. While he has yet to catch a touchdown in his NFL career, Meyers entered Week 7 with the 12th-most targets (52) and 11th-most receptions (36).

Even though he was quiet in his first matchup (4/38) against the New York Jets this season and the Jets have allowed the second-fewest fantasy points to opposing receivers this season, a couple of their games were against teams missing their best receivers. For example, they played the Falcons without Calvin Ridley, the Titans without A.J. Brown and Julio Jones, etc.

In a week with six teams on bye, Meyers consistent volume makes him at least a low-end WR2.

Week 7 Fantasy Football WR Sit'em

Tyler Boyd, Cincinnati Bengals (at BAL)

In Week 4, Boyd had nine catches for 118 yards on 11 targets (34.38%) target share. That game actually extended Boyd's streak of 30% target shares to three games. Since then, however, it's been a much different story.

Boyd had 4/24 on five targets (13.51%) and 1/7 on three targets (10.34%) in Weeks 5 and 6, respectively. What changed in Week 5? Tee Higgins returned from a two-game absence. Over the past two weeks, Boyd (eight) is a distant third among the team's wide receivers in targets behind rookie Ja'Marr Chase (16) and Higgins (13).

Especially against a top-five defense at limiting opposing fantasy wide receivers, it'll be difficult for the Bengals to support three viable wide receivers. Boyd is just outside my top 36 fantasy wide receivers in Week 7.

Brandon Aiyuk, San Francisco 49ers (vs. IND)

Through five games, Aiyuk has eight catches for 90 yards and a touchdown on 15 targets. The second-year receiver had more receiving yards in four of his final seven games played as a rookie.

On a (moderately) positive note, Aiyuk has a 14% target share or better in two of his past three games. If that number continues to trend upward, he would eventually beocme startable again. That said, he has finished outside of the top-75 fantasy wide receivers in four of five weeks. Given his low floor, fantasy managers are wise to continue to take a wait-and-see approach.

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