With week 7 in the books, the fantasy season is over halfway done and most leagues have only six games left in their regular season before fantasy playoffs begin. Every week is critical from here on in and your bench needs to be as strong as possible to give yourself the best chance to win, week in and week out. Teams relying on players from the Cowboys or Ravens need to have a plan for reserves this week as those teams are on bye.
One thing to note as we get into late October is to watch the weather reports in outdoor, cold weather environments. Inclement weather is generally the bane of fantasy football, leading to significantly less passing and less total downs overall. Your free safety or pass rush specialist isn’t going to be any good in those games so plan ahead. Games played in Green Bay, Buffalo, New Jersey, New England, and Pittsburgh among others should be firmly on your watch list.
It was a spotty week for production from recommendations last week. Najah Goode lasted 3 snaps with no production before exiting Jacksonville’s week 7 win over the Bengals with a foot injury. Quincy Williams took over for him but was a non-factor with only 2 solo tackles. David Mayo put up a passable fantasy day with 3 total tackles, a PD and a sack on 41% usage. His utilization continues to drop to the point where I’m not comfortable playing him week-to-week. Alec Ogletree scored well in tackle leagues with 8 total tackles on every down usage against the Cardinals. As expected, Jayon Brown did not suit up against the Chargers. Rashaan Evans led the Titans with 10 total tackles on 97% usage whereas Wesley Woodyard scored 6 total tackles and a forced fumble on 89% usage in his spot start.
CJ Mosley NYJ LB – 3-4 ILB Value: LB1
Late last week, Mosley declared himself good to go against the Patriots and was indeed cleared to go on Monday against the Patriots despite only some individual drills and one limited practice on Saturday. Mosley hasn’t played since a monster week one performance with a groin injury. There isn’t much to think about here. Mosley has been a solid LB1 with the Ravens previously and his lone game with the Jets was LB1 worthy also. In shallow leagues where his ownership has dropped in the wake of his injury, you need to grab Mosley and seriously consider starting him over who you have currently. The Jaguars face the Jets in week 7 and have afforded an average of 16 fantasy points per game to the top off-ball LB they’ve faced this year.
Darius Leonard IND LB – 4-3 MLB Value: LB1
Similar to Mosley, sophomore Colt Darius Leonard returned from injury in week 7 with his ailment a concussion. Leonard resumed his scoring ways with 10 total tackles and an interception in a win over the Texans on full-time usage. It was Leonard’s first game in almost a month. Similar to Mosley, Leonard is only an option in shallow leagues where owners wouldn’t have been able to wait on him. If he’s available, grab him regardless of who you have at LB. Leonard has overall LB1 potential when healthy and is almost matchup proof given his past production. For posterity purposes, the Colts host the Broncos in week 8.
Josh Bynes / LJ Fort BAL LB – 3-4 ILB Value: LB3
Digging a little deeper here, the Ravens have had some issues at inside linebacker of late. Patrick Onwuasor has missed the last 2 weeks with an ankle injury and Kenny Young was shipped away to the Rams for cornerback Marcus Peters. Former Cardinal Josh Bynes and former Steeler LJ Fort were brought in to help stabilize the linebacking corps. Against the Seahawks in week 7, Bynes logged 8 total tackles on 75% usage whereas Fort logged 6 total tackles and a sack on 78% usage. With the Ravens on bye this week, there’s a decent chance that Onwuasor returns to his high volume role but one of these guys should be able to keep his role. With both of them a street free agents a couple weeks ago, their ownership (and the corresponding price to acquire) is very low.
Nate Gerry / Kamu Grugier-Hill PHI LB – 4-3 MLB/OLB Value: LB2 – LB3
With Zach Brown unceremoniously cut after his Kirk Cousins comments following by terrible play against the Vikings and Nigel Bradham missing time with an ankle injury, 2017 fifth-round pick Nate Gerry and Kamu Grugier-Hill were thrust into higher volume roles within the Eagles defense to decent fantasy production. Gerry logged 11 total tackles on fulltime usage and Grugier-Hill scored 4 total tackles on 84% usage. Gerry is easily the first choice of Eagles LBs to deploy against their week 8 opponent, the Buffalo Bills but desperate owners in deep leagues might consider Grugier-Hill.
Defensive Lineman Plays
It’s rare that a recommendation scores a touchdown. While I won’t be so callous as to try to take credit for it, it is a welcome sight at a position that typically struggles to present usable options mid-season or later. Yannick Ngakoue was the guy that made me look smart with 2 solo tackles and a pick-six against the Bengals on 90% usage, leading all Jaguars defensive linemen. Josh Allen also came through with 2 solo tackles and a sack on 54% usage in the same game. Jerry Hughes disappointed owners that started him with only a fumble recovery on 60% usage. The Dolphins were surprisingly solid in pass protection in week 7, allowing only one sack to Ed Oliver.
Pittsburgh Defensive Linemen – 3-4 DL Value: DL1 – DL3
Despite a remarkably solid performance in pass protection against the Bills in week 7, the Dolphins are likely to be in over their head in week 8 when they visit the Steelers. Cameron Heyward is the top option for would-be owners to deploy but is also the most owned. In leagues with an Edge defender that can slide TJ Watt in here, he is also a top option. Deeper leagues will need to consider Tyson Alualu, the replacement for Stephon Tuitt who is out for the year with a pectoral injury. Javon Hargrave is a darkhorse play with some sack appeal in DT-required leagues.
Jadeveon Clowney / Brandon Jackson SEA DE – 4-3 DE Value: DL1 – DL2
No Seattle defensive end has been amazing this year but of them, Clowney has been the best. Ezekiel Ansah is injured with an ankle ailment that caused him to miss week 7 so Rasheem Green and Brandon Jackson have backfilled. Seattle visits the rapidly imploding Falcons who are likely to be without Matt Ryan, who is expected to miss the game with an ankle injury. The Falcons offensive line woes have been well documented and turning to backup quarterback Matt Schaub is unlikely to improve the situation. I see this one getting ugly and the Seahawks defensive line would be the ones to benefit.
Defensive Back Plays
It was a tough week for defensive back recommendations this past week. A chest injury left Reshad Jones unable to play in week 7. He remains a solid option provided that he is healthy. Clayton Geathers returned to the lineup for the Colts but did not get a full complement of snaps at 57%, splitting with George Odum. That usage left him with only 3 solo tackles for the contest against the Texans. Taylor Rapp was the lone star of the bunch with 6 total tackles on 100% usage against the Falcons. Rapp figures to be a full time start going forward so I’d start him with confidence if you have him.
Troy Apke WAS S – 3-4 FS Value: DB2 – DB3
Week 3 recommendation Montae Nicholson left the Redskins’ Week 7 game against the 49ers with an ankle injury. That ankle injury is bad enough that Nicholson has been reported as wearing a walking boot. Stepping into the lineup in his stead was 2018 fourth-round rookie Troy Apke. The former Nittany Lion logged an impressive 6 total tackles along with an interception on only 55% of the snaps. Washington visits the Vikings in week 8 and Apke would be expected to receive the start at free safety. His ownership is virtually nil so you should be able to grab him if you have the FAAB to get him.
Chauncey Gardner-Johnson NOS CB/S – 4-3 CB/FS Value: DB2 – DB3
The Saints secondary is running into a few issues with slot corner PJ Williams getting suspended for 2 games prior to week 7 for violations of the personal conduct policy and now Eli Apple expected to miss week 8 with a knee injury. 2019 fourth-round pick Chauncey Gardner-Johnson drew 91% usage in week 7 with Williams out. He turned in 7 solo tackles and 2 PDs with that usage. Truth be told, slot corner fantasy production is among the most volatile in IDP but the numbers look good, especially in corner-required leagues. The Cardinals host the injury-riddled Saints in week 8, which isn’t the best matchup at first glance but no less than ten corners have scored double-digit fantasy points against the Cardinals this year so there is definitely potential.
Patrick Peterson ARI CB – 3-4 CB Value: DB2 – DB3
Patrick Peterson returned to the Cardinals lineup from suspension and immediately made his presence felt. He scored 7 solo tackles, a forced fumble and a sack on 100% usage. The Cardinals face the Saints in week 8 who are likely to continue to feed Michael Thomas the ball as the wideout currently leads the league with over 11 targets per game. Peterson figures to be involved in the coverage of Thomas for a large chunk of the game. Peterson is a plus play for all formats but even higher value in corner-required leagues.