The NFC’s two best teams lost over the weekend, and we no longer have any unbeaten teams in the NFL this season. The Miami Dolphins are our new favorites to win it all. The Cleveland Browns downed the San Francisco 49ers, and the New York Jets handed the Philadelphia Eagles their first loss of the season. The biggest news on the fantasy football waiver wire this week is that the 49ers lost Christian McCaffrey and Deebo Samuel to injuries during that loss in Cleveland. We don’t know how many games either might miss, if any, but it has fantasy managers trembling with uncertainty.
The Arizona Cardinals have landed back down to Earth with a thrashing at the hands of the Los Angeles Rams. James Connor is out injured and it’s hard to see much fantasy relevance in the Arizona backfield, so we’re steering clear. Joe Burrow may or may not be back, but the Bengals have won two in a row after downing the Seahawks on Sunday. Burrow’s stat line wasn’t awe-inspiring (24-35, 185 yards, two touchdowns and an interception) but they’re winning now at least. Over the last three weeks, Sam Howell is fourth among all quarterbacks and is averaging 21.4 fantasy points a game. He’s eighth in our well-thrown% metric and only rostered in 28.6% of leagues.
We have talked about Rashid Shaheed so often in recent weeks that we won’t repeat it again this week, but please at least roster the speedy receiver (currently rostered in 22.8% of leagues). Derek Carr’s 10.2 average air yards leads the league and Shaheed is a big reason for that.
You might have to do a lot of adjusting for Week 7 with six teams on bye weeks, so make sure you have your waiver wire pickups in the correct order of priority.
Week 7 Bye Weeks: Carolina Panthers, Cincinnati Bengals, Dallas Cowboys, New York Jets, Tennessee Titans, Houston Texans.
Fantasy Football Waiver Wire Week 7 Pickups
Zach Evans, Los Angeles Rams
- 0% rostered on Yahoo
Kyren Williams is likely out against the Pittsburgh Steelers with an ankle injury and Ronnie Rivers has sprained his PCL meaning Zach Evans is in line to carry the load for the Rams. Evans is a sixth-round rookie who has carried the ball four times in his career for 10 yards, so to speculate on his ability in a professional setting would be foolish. He rushed for 936 yards and nine touchdowns in college last season with Ole Miss.
What we can say is that only four running backs have carried the ball more than Kyren Williams this season, so Evans is likely walking into a high-volume situation. Williams is also attempting 77.8% of the Rams’ carries inside the five-yard line. Sean McVay will plan around the absence of Williams, but it still means plenty of work for Evans.
Williams is not expected to miss a lot of time with his sprained ankle but will likely miss the Steelers game. McVay said they are ‘working through’ a plan without both of his top two running backs.
“Obviously you saw Zach Evans get the first carries,” McVay said. “We’ve got Royce Freeman on our practice squad, and there’ll be some different things that we’re in the midst of working through right now.”
Tread lightly and don’t approach this like a claim that will give you a long-term starter, but if you’re in need Evans might be a lead back for the Rams for the next week or two.
Jordan Mason, San Francisco 49ers
- 18% rostered on Yahoo
The fantasy football world awaits news of McCaffrey’s oblique injury, which forced him out of the game against Cleveland. The latest is that he was getting an MRI on Monday and is considered day-to-day. It also highlighted the importance of handcuff running backs. Going into Week 6, McCaffrey was on the field for 265 of the 49ers snaps. Only Kyren Williams and Travis Etienne Jr. had seen more. Despite the talent around him, McCaffrey is the fulcrum of this offense.
Prior to last season, McCaffrey hadn’t played in every game in a season since 2019. This might be the scare the 49ers need to lean a little less on McCaffrey and that means opportunity for the rest of the backfield.
There has been no indication as to whether Elijah Mitchell or Jordan Mason will pick up the slack if McCaffrey is to miss time, and either could make sense if McCaffrey misses time because it will take more than one man to replace his production. Mason has touchdowns in back-to-back weeks now though and has one more carry in the red zone than Elijah Mitchell, who’s been slowly returning from an injury of his own.
Roschon Johnson, Chicago Bears
- 52% rostered on Yahoo
Justin Fields dislocated the thumb on his throwing hand during the Bears’ loss to the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday and is doubtful for the Bears Week 7 game against the Las Vegas Raiders. Khalil Herbert remains out and Roschon Johnson should be back for a soft two-game run against the Raiders and the Los Angeles Chargers after suffering a concussion in Week 5’s Thursday night game against the Washington Commanders.
D’Onta Foreman finished the Vikings loss with 15 carries for 65 yards while Darrynton Evans carried the ball nine times. Foreman, Evans and Khari Blasingame all caught one pass each but none of those passes gained more than two yards.
If Johnson is healthy, he should be seeing at least 15 touches next week and that means he has high-end RB2 potential. In Week 1, he touched the ball 11 times and finished as RB8 in PPR leagues but hasn’t seen that kind of usage since with Herbert emerging as the lead back. Johnson’s time is now, and if Fields misses time, they’ll lean even more heavily into the rookie.
Salvon Ahmed, Miami Dolphins
- 21% rostered on Yahoo
For all the talk of Kyle Shanahan’s system turning average players into superstars, Mike McDaniel seems to have a golden touch with running backs. Devon Achane was on pace to finish as a top-five running back before his injury. Raheem Mostert has finished inside the top 10 on four occasions this season and now it could be time for Ahmed to break out.
Chris Brooks, who was ahead of Ahmed on the depth chart before Sunday and who saw plenty of the field on Sunday hurt his ankle and looks certain to miss time. And we still don’t know about Jeff Wilson Jr.’s status for Week 7.
Ahmed had the same amount of carries as Brooks, the undrafted rookie, but Ahmed also finished with a touchdown on the ground plus a few catches for 11 yards on five targets. The Dolphins amass a comical amount of points and yards and anyone who is featured in this backfield has a chance to be relevant in fantasy leagues. Ahmed’s probably not a high-volume play for Week 7, but this offense has been able to support multiple RBs this season, and he may be the guy to complement Mostert against the Eagles on Sunday night.
Wan’Dale Robinson, New York Giants
- 18% rostered on Yahoo
Robinson has provided a spark for the New York Giants since his return from injury in Week 3 even if it has gone under the radar. Since his return, he has seen the most targets of any Giants receiver (25) with Darius Slayton seeing 19.
Robinson is coming off the back of his most productive game this season where he caught all eight of his targets for 62 yards. That came on Sunday night against the Buffalo Bills, who are giving up the 10th fewest points to wide receivers this season. They play the Commanders next week, and they are giving up the second most fantasy points to wide receivers this season.
Daniel Jones should be back next week after his neck injury and Saquon Barkley is healthy too. This offense should get back on track in the coming weeks, and Robinson’s rostered percentage will slowly start to move north in the process.
Rashee Rice, Kansas City Chiefs
- 45% rostered on Yahoo
We knew it would take a while for the Kansas City Chiefs’ receiving corps to untangle itself into something coherent. Rookie Rashee Rice is emerging as the team’s main wide receiver even if the gap between him and Kadarius Toney isn’t significant.
Rice has a couple of touchdowns in six games so far and his 28 targets lead the team among wide receivers – Toney is second with 25. Rice is averaging 3.14 yards per route run, which is 5th among wide receivers with at least 25 targets this season.
They play the Los Angeles Chargers defense, which resembles swiss chess so far this season. Rice is a flex play and should be rostered in more than 45% of Yahoo leagues even if this is and will remain a Travis Kelce-fueled passing game.
Josh Downs, Indianapolis Colts
- 33% rostered on Yahoo
Gardner Minshew suffered a rough beginning as the starter in the absence of Anthony Richardson as the Colts got blown out by the Jacksonville Jaguars. The rookie QB is said to be strongly considering shoulder surgery that would end his season prematurely. It’s Minshew now and it’s Minshew as far into the future as we can see.
Josh Downs is averaging 6.8 targets per game and saw eight on Sunday. That is the second-highest total he has seen in a game this season after he was targeted 12 times in Week 3. It’s no coincidence that Minshew started that game too.
The hierarchy is clear in Indianapolis with Michael Pittman Jr. seeing 60 targets so far, Downs is second with 41 and Alec Pierce has 22. The Cleveland Browns defense is awesome and gets an exceptional amount of pressure on opposing quarterbacks. Minshew is going to have to get rid of the ball quickly and Downs will be there for him to move the chains in Week 7 and beyond.
Jameson Williams, Detroit Lions
- 41.7% rostered on Yahoo
Was this the breakout game we had been waiting for from Jameson Williams? OK, he only caught two passes on three targets but he found the end zone and there was pure joy and a lot of relief when he caught it. We have been waiting for over a year for Williams to show up on the stat sheet in a meaningful way.
Jared Goff has thrown for 1,618 yards this season with 11 touchdowns, both of which rank fifth in the league. There is a lot of competition for Goff’s attention in this offense but Williams is a first-round talent. In Week 7, the Lions play the Baltimore Ravens, who are giving up the eighth fewest points to opposing wide receivers. It’s probably best to stash Williams for future, more WR-friendly weeks.
Jonnu Smith, Atlanta Falcons
- 15.9% rostered on Yahoo
With so many bye weeks, Jonnu Smith had to be a consideration at tight end. The Buccaneers are giving up 39.7 points a game to wide receivers but the Falcons don’t have many wide receivers. Desmond Ridder has thrown the ball to his tight ends on 197 occasions this season, a league-high 38.1% of his attempts.
If you remove Week 1 from the equation when Smith wasn’t targeted at all, Smith has 27 targets so far this year. That is tied for seventh among tight ends through six games. Kyle Pitts is fourth during that time with 29. It’s not an either/or with these two players because Pitts is more of a wide receiver than his teammate.
Desmond Ridder attempted a season-high 47 passes against the Washington Commanders and he has not thrown fewer than 31 passes since that strange Week 1 game against the Carolina Panthers when he threw 18 passes. Smith is worth a place on rosters and has starting potential now that bye weeks are causing some roster adjustment.
Michael Mayer, Las Vegas Raiders
- 3.2% rostered on Yahoo
The other rookie tight ends like Sam LaPorta and Jake Ferguson have been garnering most of the attention this year, but Michael Mayer is commanding plenty recently from Jimmy Garoppolo. Davante Adams has been nursing a shoulder injury in recent weeks and then got rocked early in the game against the New England Patriots on Sunday. He never really recovered and finished with just two catches for 29 yards.
Mayer finished with five catches for 75 yards on six targets, all of which were the highest marks of his career. It was a slow start for Mayer with just one catch in the first four weeks, but he has nine now in the last two and the Raiders play the Chicago Bears next week. The Bears are giving up the ninth most fantasy points to tight ends this season. That games is followed in Week 8 by the Detroit Lions, who are giving up the seventh most points at the position.
Luke Musgrave, Green Bay Packers
- 17.9% rostered on Yahoo
The Packers are coming off a bye and face the Denver Broncos in Week 7. They are giving up the most points to tights ends so far this season and Musgrave is due a breakout game. They were on a bye last week and will have ironed out some of the creases in the offense.
Jordan Love is attempting six red-zone passes a game, which is tied with Tua Tagovailoa, Kirk Cousins and Justin Herbert for second in the league behind Patrick Mahomes. Musgrave was part of a run at tight ends in the 2023 NFL Draft, which saw LaPorta and Mayer taken just before him. They’ve already started to make an impact. Expect Musgrave to do the same soon.