Week 7 of the fantasy football season featured plenty of notable performances. What should we make of them? Matt Bowen and Tristan H. Cockcroft are here with analysis on the biggest performers -- and duds -- of the week.
Marvin Jones Jr. has four TDs against the Vikings
Only three players since at least 1950 have scored as many as four receiving touchdowns in a game multiple times in their careers: Jerry Rice, Sterling Sharpe and now Jones, who amassed 24 of the Lions' 30 points in their 42-30 loss and scored 43.3 PPR fantasy points, the second most in his career behind only the 44.2 he scored in Week 8 of the 2013 season. Unfortunately, a limited number of fantasy managers benefited from the performance, as he was started in only 27.7% of ESPN leagues, those decisions perhaps driven by a below-average-to-difficult matchup against the Vikings.
Jones scored a pair of goal-line touchdowns against Xavier Rhodes, though, which bodes well for Jones' potential to also step up facing Janoris Jenkins -- though Jenkins' 2019 has been far from stellar -- and the Giants in Week 8. In fact, Jones has back-to-back outstanding matchups, if you include his Week 9 assignment against a Raiders team that served up 49.2 PPR fantasy points to the Packers on Sunday. -- Cockcroft
Tristan hit on the favorable matchups for Jones coming up, which are going to bump the Lions wide receiver up in my ranks. But I'm looking at Jones' red zone production Sunday as another reason to give him a boost back into the WR2 discussion. All four of his touchdowns were inside the 20-yard line, with three grabs on isolation throws that allowed both Jones and quarterback Matthew Stafford to manipulate coverage. Those are specific matchups the Lions wanted with the ball in critical field position. -- Bowen
Lamar Jackson has a big game on the ground
For the third time already this season (and fourth time in his young career), Jackson rushed for at least 100 yards. His three such games this season are tied for the most by any quarterback since at least 1950, and the four such games in his career are tied for second-most behind only Michael Vick's 10. The result in fantasy terms was 23.3 points, giving Jackson a 175.6 total and the season lead among quarterbacks.
Jackson's bye comes at an opportune time, as he had a total of 47 rushing attempts the past three weeks, so he could probably use the rest. His schedule after that does have some tough matchups -- the Patriots in Week 9, 49ers in Week 13 and Bills in Week 14 -- so don't expect him to keep up what is a more-than-400-point pace.
Still, Jackson's performance to date has solidified his weekly QB1 status, thanks to his high weekly statistical floor due to his rushing success. -- Cockcroft
Kirk Cousins has another great day
Against a Lions defense I really like on film, Cousins racked up 337 yards and four touchdowns. That gives the Vikings QB three straight games of more than 300 yards passing, with 10 touchdown throws and only one interception during that stretch. He is generating the majority of this high-end production off play-action, a key part of a Minnesota offense that is now really focusing on using the backfield run action to create big-play opportunities for Cousins on deep post routes and crossers.
I don't see that changing in Week 9 on Thursday night versus the Redskins' defense, which should put Cousins in the QB1 mix for deeper leagues. -- Bowen
Aaron Rodgers looks like ... Aaron Rodgers
There he was, the week-winning version of Rodgers that fantasy managers have known for years. By scoring 43.8 fantasy points, tops among all players in Sunday's 1 p.m. ET games, Rodgers enjoyed the third performance of his career worth 40-plus points. That's more than any other quarterback has had since at least 1950. He's one of the position's most trustworthy in a season that has seen some significant injury losses, though he shouldn't be expected to be nearly this productive during a tough upcoming five-week stretch (@KC, @LAC, CAR, bye, @SF). -- Cockcroft
Darren Waller's breakout campaign continues
Waller set a new personal best with 31.6 PPR fantasy points. That gives him 105.2 for the season, a total exceeded by only 16 other tight ends through their teams' first six games of any season since 1950. To emphasize how incredible the volume Waller has seen is: His 44 catches are third-best by a tight end utilizing the same criteria. It's hard to believe that he was started in only 60.3% of ESPN leagues in Week 7. -- Cockcroft
Tristan hit on the volume with Waller. It's ridiculous. But we shouldn't be surprised, given how Jon Gruden features the tight end in this offense. Waller is a three-level route runner who displays wide receiver traits at the position. With a matchup versus the Texans in Week 9, give me Waller as a high-end TE1. -- Bowen
Chase Edmonds breaks out
Rostered in only 28.5% of ESPN leagues -- and started in just 4.5% -- Edmonds diced up the Giants' run defense, posting 126 yards rushing and three scores on 27 carries in place of the injured David Johnson. With Kliff Kingsbury using four-wide-receiver personnel and spread sets, which gave Edmonds a very light run box to work against, the Cardinals' running back showcased his electric burst to get through the hole with speed.
Edmonds needs to be rostered in every scoring format. And if Johnson is down next week, Edmonds is going to enter that RB1/RB2 discussion versus the Saints. -- Bowen
Here's what caught my eye: Edmonds played 58 of 61 (95%) Cardinals offensive snaps, meaning he was on the field for all of them except the three Johnson played, a surefire sign of Kingsbury's confidence in the youngster. You rarely see a running back not named Christian McCaffrey, Todd Gurley II, Ezekiel Elliott or David Johnson get that much playing time. -- Cockcroft
Brandin Cooks: In a matchup versus the subpar Falcons defense -- one Cooks should have exploited -- the Rams' wide receiver caught just four of seven targets for 59 yards. Cooks has produced only one game with more than 100 yards receiving this season, and his only TD grab came in Week 2. Given the Rams' inability to get the play-action game going and the lack of vertical production in this offense, Cooks continues to disappoint as he approaches yet another quality matchup versus the Bengals' defense in Week 9. -- Bowen
Josh Jacobs: In Week 5, Jacobs posted 123 yards and two touchdowns against the Bears' top-tier defense. On Sunday, coming off the bye, Jacobs dropped 121 yards on the Packers. The volume is starting to rise (47 carries in his past two games), the red zone touches are there, and we are seeing what Jacobs brings to a balanced Raiders offense. He can be decisive as a downhill runner, and the juice is there to rip off big plays. With that kind of volume and the run game fit for Jacobs in Oakland, you can lock in the rook as a midlevel RB2 in Week 8 versus the Texans. -- Bowen
Saquon Barkley: Barkley's 17.0 PPR fantasy points in his return to the lineup on Sunday are far from eye-popping, but they continued his consistently start-worthy level of performance so far in the NFL. He has 450.9 points through 20 career games, a total exceeded by only five players since at least 1950: Patrick Mahomes (514.2), Edgerrin James (472.7), Alvin Kamara (456.5), Odell Beckham Jr. (452.7) and Eric Dickerson (451.5). -- Cockcroft
Matt Ryan: Keep close tabs on Ryan's leg injury during the practice week, as an extended absence could have a dramatically adverse impact on Atlanta's offense. His performance, even injury-shortened, was among the week's most disappointing, as his 2.6 fantasy points represented the third-fewest in his 181 career NFL games (all starts).
Ryan lingered into this game deep into the fourth quarter and failed to deliver the kind of fantasy production that his managers were getting from him late in games previously. He entered Week 7 with an NFL-leading 65.7 fantasy points in the fourth quarter and beyond, 15.8 more than anyone else. -- Cockcroft
Kenny Stills: With Will Fuller leaving the game with a hamstring injury, Stills caught four of five targets for 105 yards in the loss to the Colts (26.3 yards per catch). If Fuller can't go in Week 9 versus the Raiders, I'll take Stills as an upside WR3 in the lineup. Remember, this Houston route tree is loaded with vertical passing concepts that will cater to Stills' speed and deep ball ability. -- Bowen
Melvin Gordon starting slowly after holdout: Gordon has averaged fewer than 3 yards per carry in each of his three games since he ended his holdout following Week 4, marking the first time in his career that he has had a streak that lengthy. He was held under 10 PPR fantasy points for the third consecutive game -- he scored 8.9 -- for the first time in his career. His fantasy managers will understandably ask whether his lengthy absence has had an adverse impact upon his production, but Gordon has been fortunate in that the Chargers continue to prefer him to Austin Ekeler, despite the latter's 248 yards and three rushing scores on 69 carries between the tackles this season.
Gordon's Week 8 matchup against the Bears is no more favorable, and we might be nearing the point when the team considers a shift in rushing strategy. He might be locked into an RB2's ceiling. -- Cockcroft
David Montgomery: Going into the season, I tagged Montgomery as a good fit for Matt Nagy's offense in Chicago. I drafted him in a couple of leagues, too. I like his pro running style, plus the upside I saw on his college film as a receiving target. But after six games as a rookie -- in a really poor Bears offense that lacks quality QB play with Mitchell Trubisky -- Montgomery has been a fantasy bust. On Sunday, in a home loss to the Saints, Montgomery gave away a fumble while producing 19 total yards on just four touches.
With a season high of 67 yards rushing back in Week 3 versus a subpar Redskins team, plus only one explosive run (run of 15 yards or more) on his rookie record this season, Montgomery has totaled a lowly 52.6 fantasy points this season. I don't see an immediate fix for this Bears offense, given the continued struggles of Trubisky in addition to a run game that is almost nonexistent at this point. -- Bowen