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RISERS & FALLERS: Week 7

There aren’t enough words in the entire collection of Encyclopedia Brittanica for us to fully describe how absolutely crazy this season has been. The injuries keep mounting and the surprises keep flying at us like bugs at 85mph into our windshield. There’s let downs, sadness, and anger. But there’s also joy, excitement, and pleasantries. Heading into Week 7 of our suddenly very much mature 2020 season, there’s a lot for us to be on the look out for.

Giovani Bernard, RB, Cincinnati

Finally, the once useful fantasy back has a shot to reinsert himself into the fantasy fold. With Joe Mixon being ruled out, Bernard has the opportunity against the Browns to remind the world of his once promising fantasy life. There’s a chance here that Bernard could earn himself a flex role for us moving forward if he can do enough with the check down work that quarterback Joe Burrow is going to be counting on. With a very much crowded wide receiver corp and nothing resembling production from the tight end spot, Bernard could become a weekly staple in the passing attack. A letdown though would just hold the door open for Mixon to regain it upon his return. Bernard has season-long value on the line this week.

Tre’Quan Smith, WR, New Orleans

There’s a lot going wrong with the Saints’ wide receivers and it’s happening at an incredibly impressive rate. First, the best wide receiver in football Mike Thomas goes down for the vast majority of 5 weeks. In his hopefully Week 6 return, he gets disciplined for punching a teammate in practice and misses the 6th week. He’s finally able to return in Week 7 and then BOOM, he tweaks his hamstring, out again. Well, at least New Orleans has a veteran stud in Emmanuel Sanders who can shoulder the load. Sanders looked all charged up going for 271 yards and score over the last three contests. But wait, the electric Sanders was just added to the COVID list, putting him out of commission for at least this week. So, with the next man up approach, we welcome Tre’Quan Smith to the stage. Smith has been a flashy fantasy option in the past but he’s lacked the consistency to earn weekly usage. But with an 86 yard game in Week 2 and  a 54 yard game with 2 scores in Week 4, the picture of a stellar Week 7 suddenly appears quite clear. If Smith can go off for a monster game against the lowly Carolina defense, he could see himself propel up the weekly rankings as the Saints allow more time for their top two receivers to get fully healthy.

Odell Beckham Jr., WR, Cleveland

There’s no denying the fact that OBJ has been an astronomical disappointment through the first six games. Save for his freak out performance against the garbage Cowboys’ defense, Beckham has done nothing in the stat sheet. Part of that is solely on him but some of the blame also falls on quarterback Baker Mayfield‘s shoulders. Both haven’t meet expectations and both are busts to this point. But looking at the level of competition they’ve faced so far, one could argue that the hardest portion of their schedule is in the rearview mirror. Over the first six games, Beckham and the Browns have been tasked with squaring off against the likes of the Ravens, the Colts, and Steelers. And with no surprise, those have been Beckham’s worst fantasy outings. Looking ahead though, we see that the only truly great competition left for him in the regular 16 game fantasy season is the Ravens once more in Week 14. Other than that he’s got a gauntlet of appetizing opponents. Looking down the pipe we see match-ups against Cincy, Houston, Philly, Jacksonville, Tennessee, the Giants, and the Jets. There’s plenty of time for OBJ to pad his fantasy wallet and finish the season as a WR1.

Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Dallas

We’ve been warning readers since Week 1 that there will come a time in 2020 where we are hitting the panic button on Elliott. And people, we’re at Threat Level Midnight as our finger hovers above that shiny red button. Not only has Elliott lost what was looking to be the quarterback MVP of 2020 Dak Prescott, but he’s lost almost all the talent on his once elite offensive line. Would you have believed us if he told you before the season had started that Elliott would not have even one game over 100-yards rushing heading into Week 7? Probably not. While we are concerned with an expanded role coming on for Tony Pollard after last week’s case of the fumbles, we’re far more concerned that Elliott has had it too easy with humongous running lanes since being drafted by the Cowboys and now suddenly can’t function without that luxury. Elliott needs to have a good, ole’ fashioned “Zeke game” against the lowly Washington Football team. By that we mean, 20 plus carries for 125 yards a score. He owes us that much after last week’s let down.

JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR, Pittsburgh

What in the world happened to this guy? Was 2018 the outlier for his suddenly inept production? What is his role on the team? Is it the fact that Pittsburgh has two wide receivers better than him? Or has JuJu fallen out of favor with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger? Whatever it is, it’s coming to a head quickly. Smith-Schuster has to do something productive this week. No more two catch games. No more 60 yards receiving. We need 6 catches for 100 yards AND an end zone celebration. He’s gone from a WR1 to a WR3 in just five games. Another clunker here against the Titans while seeing Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool light it up would have JuJu earning WR4 status, meaning he’s barely roster worthy.

Will Fuller, WR, Houston

The knock against Fuller has always been his myriad of injuries. They have always seemed to pop up one after another after another over the years. The only wide receivers who could challenge Fuller for full fledged fragility would be Eagles’ DeSean Jackson and Alshon Jeffery. But this season, Fuller has remained injury free and thusly on pace for his best pro-season. Through six games he’s sitting at 455 yards receiving and 4 touchdowns. That includes Week 2 against the Ravens where he finished with a big, fat ZERO on the day. Could the trade of DeAndre Hopkins and his new found health stability push Fuller in unquestioned WR1 territory? The numbers certainly suggest just that but as always we continue to beg for more evidence of such. If Fuller can repeat his 2020 success in Week 7 against the Packers, it’ll be hard to argue against him an elite fantasy wide receiver.

About Patrick White

Have been with Sharks for seven years. Been printed and published. Have been copied by, faced off against, and beaten some of the fiercest competition and abbreviated outlets in football. If you read RnF and live by the old "If you're not first, you're last" mentality, you'll be just fine.