Fantasy Football

NFL Fantasy Football 2021 Marcas Grant's Sleepers Week 7

When I sat down for this week's column, I was prepared to write a long preamble about Byemageddon and the roster gymnastics that some managers will need to perform to put together a functional lineup. Instead, I was hit with a mixture of anxiety and depression. A cute, fun explanation might be the anxiety of watching the Dodgers in the playoffs. The depression? Having one of my fantasy teams sit 0-6 while being riddled with injuries and showing no easy path back to competitiveness. (Yep, it even happens to fantasy analysts from time to time.) 

But when Lane Johnson and Steve Smith, Sr. can open up about their mental health struggles, it's a reminder that none of us are alone in those awful feelings. Whether it's a sense of feeling like you can never do or be enough, just know that we are all that we need to be and that there is always someone there to listen.  

In the meantime, let's dig into how you can survive Byemageddon.

Matt Ryan's time has come. At least for this week. Matty Ice was a fantasy afterthought for the first three weeks, never tallying more than 16.3 points in any contest. Things changed the following two weeks with Ryan averaging more than 25 points per game. Yes, those games were against the Football Team and the Jets. This one is against the Dolphins, who have been equally bad defensively this year. Over the past month, Miami has allowed the third-most fantasy points per game to quarterbacks. Ryan has become a matchup-based starter, and this appears to be the matchup.

After a hot start, Sam Darnold has come back to Earth. Some of it has been user error, with Darnold making some questionable throws. Some of it has been an offensive line that has struggled to protect the quarterback. Over the past three weeks, Darnold has been pressured at a higher rate than all but two other signal-callers. That shouldn't be a problem this week. The Giants have the second-lowest rate of QB pressures in the NFL. If Darnold can operate from a clean pocket, he should hopefully rekindle the magic from the first month of the season.

The buzz on Rhamondre Stevenson was that he was LeGarrette Blount 2.0. Early in the year, the only thing they had in common is that neither offered New England much production. Lately, however, Stevenson is starting to see more opportunity. His snap share has increased and he's pushing Brandon Bolden for RB2 distinction. That's especially encouraging this week against a Jets defense that is allowing the most fantasy points per game to running backs.

A.J. Dillon was expected to fill the vacant Jamaal Williams role. In the last three weeks, that belief has come to fruition. Dillon has averaged 13 opportunities (carries + targets) in that stretch, including a nearly 18-point performance against the Steelers. His burgeoning role in the offense makes him a nice sleeper candidate to start against the Washington Football Team. Washington's shockingly bad defense has been even more shockingly bad against running backs recently. In the last four weeks, only the Jets have allowed more fantasy points per game to the position. All hail Quadzilla!

I had hopes that Marquez Callaway could be a sleeper this year. It took a few weeks but it's happening. He was a non-entity in Weeks 1 and 2. Since then, he's averaged 16 points per game including a 24.5-point outburst in Week 5. He and the Saints return from the bye for a meeting with the Seahawks. If you haven't heard, the Seahawks defense is bad. That bodes well for anyone looking at starting Callaway this week. As a bonus, if Tre'Quan Smith is available, he's a nice flyer.

The Chiefs historically have been a concentrated passing game with Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce dominating the targets. This year, Mecole Hardman has entered the chat. His 35 targets are more than halfway to the career-high he set last season. While Kansas City's defense has been miserable, we still want as many parts of their passing game as possible. Why else did Fantasy Twitter light up when the Chiefs added Josh Gordon? While I won't go so far as endorsing Flash this week against the Titans, I would recommend giving Hardman a try.

I'll keep banging the Amon-Ra St. Brown drum until it becomes untenable. Last week was a tale of good and bad with five catches (yay!) for 26 yards (wut?!), but the two previous games showed signs of life. There are several quality wide receivers who have the week off, so this will be a chance to dive down your fantasy depth chart a little bit. The matchup against the Rams isn't a good one, but St. Brown's growing target share means he's at least worth a look if you need help.

Zach Ertz isn't likely to know Arizona's full playbook when he plays his first game in a Cardinals uniform. But he should be up-to-speed enough to make an impact against the horrid Texans this week. On the flipside, Ertz's departure from Philadelphia opens the door for Dallas Goedert to become a bigger part of the Eagles passing game this week against the Raiders.

Just for good measure, if you need a defense, consider the Patriots. This is less about New England's defense -- though it's been decent this year -- and more about the Jets offense. New York has forfeited the most fantasy points per game to opposing defenses this season. For the streaming persuasion, this could be your move this week.

Marcas Grant is a fantasy analyst for NFL.com and a man who hits with men in scoring position. Send him your statistical superlatives or fantasy football questions on Twitter @MarcasG or TikTok at marcasgrant.

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