Tuesday - Jan 22, 2019

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LIKE/DISLIKE: Week 7

LIKE

Carson Wentz, QB, Philadelphia Eagles

Since returning from the knee injury that sidelined him for the first two games, Carson Wentz is on track to duplicate his phenomenal 2017 season and once again finish as one of the best fantasy quarterbacks in 2018. Wentz has thrown for at least 275 passing yards, two touchdowns and has totaled at least 20 fantasy points in each of the last three weeks. He hasn’t thrown an interception since Week 3 and is just beginning to scratch the surface regarding his potential.

Losing Jay Ajayi to a torn ACL is a somewhat significant loss for the Eagles offense. The more important thing to note with Ajayi’s injury is that it’s going to force the Eagles offense to rely on Wentz to air it out more often than he may have if Ajayi were on the field. In the fantasy world, that is music to his owners’ ears because it’s going to translate to mid to high-level QB1 fantasy numbers for this third-year player out of North Dakota State. Fantasy owners took a chance on Wentz this summer considering he was returning from a significant knee injury and was scheduled to miss a few weeks as he was still recovering. That chance is looking to be a wise decision, so keep Wentz locked into your starting quarterback spot for the duration of the season and enjoy the stable supply of fantasy points that comes with having him in that spot.

David Johnson, RB, Arizona Cardinals

In case you haven’t been paying attention, David Johnson has sneakily been producing low to mid-level RB2 numbers consistently over the last four weeks. After managing just 6.4 PPR points back in Week 2, Johnson has tallied 16.1, 18.2, 21.1, and 13 PPR points over the last four weeks and enters Week 7 11th in PPR fantasy points among running backs.

Admittedly, I’ve been a member of the David Johnson fan club since he entered the league in 2015. I was the guy to draft Johnson in the late rounds of every one of my drafts in 2015 and was all-in on the type of player and amount of potential he had as a running back coming out of Northern Iowa. His 2016 season was one of the best seasons all-time for a running back. To put that 2016 season into perspective, here’s a stat for you: Since 2000, four RB’s have had at least 700 rushing yards, 800 receiving yards, 13 total touchdowns in a single season. They are Marshall Faulk (2000), Steven Jackson (2006), David Johnson (2016) and Alvin Kamara (2017). Yeah, he was that good in 2016. The point I’m trying to drive home with this history lesson is there is no way, shape or form that Johnson has lost a step, or is not the same running back he was two years ago. Spare me with that nonsense. The Arizona Cardinals are currently one of the worst-run franchises in the NFL and are a complete dumpster fire at the moment. Steve Wilks and Mike McCoy have no business running a football team and are crazy to not feature Johnson as a receiver out of the backfield. Don’t even get me started with the fact that Larry Fitzgerald has seen five or fewer targets in four of six games this season.

Johnson hasn’t put up the type of fantasy numbers his owners expected of him when they drafted him as a top-five overall pick, but he hasn’t been atrocious either. A 3.2 yards-per-carry on 92 rushing attempts is well below his standards, but when an offensive coordinator solely runs the balls between the tackles and does not attempt to give him a toss or a pitch to let him use his speed and get to the outside, what can he do? His six total touchdowns are what is keeping him in the mid-level RB2 conversation, so if he can start to be more effective with his carries and start seeing more targets out of the backfield, his fantasy value will go up. A Week 7 Thursday night matchup against a horrendous Denver Broncos defense that has allowed 550 rushing yards on 68 rushing attempts (an average of 8.1 yards-per-carry) over the last two weeks is the perfect opportunity for DJ to have a field day on the ground and produce high-end RB1 numbers for his fantasy owners. Consider him a mid-level RB2 for the time being with mid-level RB1 upside if somehow, someway, the Cardinals coaching staff decides to feature him early and often going forward.

Saquon Barkley, RB, New York Giants

This kid is special. We can debate whether or not selecting a running back over a quarterback was the best decision for the Giants organization, but what we care about here is fantasy value, and Saquon Barkley’s is astronomically high right now. He has been somewhat overshadowed by the incredible performances of Todd Gurley, Melvin Gordon, and Alvin Kamara, but make no mistake, this rookie out of Penn State is among the best at the running back position in fantasy football.

Only two running backs in the entire NFL have totaled at least 22 PPR fantasy points in every game this season. One of them is Todd Gurley (of course), the other is Saquon Barkley. He is averaging a remarkable 5.2 yards-per-carry on 84 rushing attempts through six games. He leads all running backs in receptions (40), receiving yards (373), and enters Week 7 having the third-most PPR fantasy points among running backs.

Don’t be concerned about his value in regards to the struggles of Eli Manning. As long as Eli can throw short, check-down passes to Barkley, he’ll do the rest with his legs and continue to make phenomenal plays with his legs. Barkley has an innate ability to cut on a dime and change direction in a heartbeat, while still keeping his break-away type of speed and physically imposing style intact. A Week 7 trip to Atlanta to face a Falcons defense that has allowed the most receptions (53) and second-most receiving yards to opposing running backs (425) through six weeks is a highly favorable matchup, so keep Barkley locked into your RB1 spot for the duration of the season and enjoy his elite production on a week-to-week basis.

Julio Jones, WR, Atlanta Falcons

For all the slack he gets for not scoring touchdowns, the discontentment regarding Julio Jones has gone too far. Yes, he seems to be allergic to the end zone, but he’s still been producing as the elite, top-five wide receiver he was drafted as. Jones has tallied at least five receptions, 60 receiving yards in every game this season, and has gone over 26 PPR fantasy points in three of six games. If he keeps up his current pace of 20.3 points per game, he’ll finish with 324.8 PPR fantasy points at the end of the season. In 2017, those 324.8 points would have been first in the NFL among wide receivers. Yes, I’m aware that there are receivers out there that are set to break all kinds of records, but the point is, Jones is well on his way to finishing as a top-seven fantasy wide receiver for the fifth consecutive season. Don’t take him for granted, seriously. Appreciate his pure dominance and always remember that patience is a virtue when it comes to his lack of scoring touchdowns. Think of it this way, Jones is currently sixth in PPR fantasy points among wide receivers through six weeks, and if he had three touchdowns, he’d be the 4th best receiver heading into Week 7. His ceiling is massive and his floor is as high as ever.

The Falcons Week 7 opponent, the New York Giants, have done an excellent job defending the wide receiver position thus far.  DeAndre Hopkins and Michael Thomas combined for ten receptions for 133 receiving yards in Weeks 3 and 4, but the Giants have also played the Cowboys, Jaguars, Panthers, Eagles in four of their six games. None of those teams have what I’d call “elite” wide receivers. The Falcons have a potent passing attack and should have no problem carving up the Giants defense on Monday Night Football this week.

About Evan Reardon

An avid Boston sports fan, Evan has been a Patriots and NFL fan since the 1990's. Fantasy football runs in his family. He grew up in the 90's watching his father and uncles play in a 6-team, Touchdown-only league. He has been playing fantasy football since the early 2000's and has been writing fantasy sports content since 2014.