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Expert fantasy football advice: Week Seven starts & sits

Quarterback

Start

Brett Hundley, QB, GB — Hundley will start at QB for the Packers with Aaron Rodgers hurt. Hundley will face a Saints team that has been surprisingly annoying to pick on at times. Their defense is improved, and that's had a somewhat exponential impact, allowing the Saints to play more ball control and limit plays for the opposition.

With all that said, there's been some positive line movement towards the Packers throughout the week, and their team total of 22 is respectable, albeit much lower than it would have been with Rodgers at the helm. Hundley steps into a pretty good overall situation, playing at home with a healthy set of skill players around him: Jordy Nelson, Davante Adams, Randall Cobb, Ty Montgomery, Aaron Jones, and Martellus Bennett are all arguably above league average at their respective positions.

We've buried the lede here, though. The most important aspect of Hundley's fantasy value is going to be his legs. Hundley is a phenomenal athlete, featuring speed and agility that has him rating in the 98th percentile of Player Profiler's SPARQ-x metric. At UCLA, Hundley ran for 1,747 yards and 30 TDs over his three seasons. If the strong supporting cast allows Hundley to post anywhere near league average passing statistics, his legs will give him the extra boost to put him in the Top 10-15 fantasy QB scorers.

Sit

Philip Rivers, QB, SD — Rivers is the start/sit poster child, often waffling between startable or not based on weekly matchups. This is a clear matchup to plaster Rivers to your bench. The Broncos have an incredible secondary and pass rush, ranking seventh and first in those categories respectively by Pro Football Focus. Not surprisingly, we can use the RotoViz game splits app to show the large negative impact that the Broncos defense has had on Rivers since 2015:

Running Back

Start

Alvin Kamara, RB, NO — Kamara has emerged as an every week starter in seasonal formats, especially in seasonal leagues. Kamara's gaudy contributions as a pass catcher for New Orleans should not come as any surprise; he rated in the 90th percentile in Player Profiler's College Target Share metric. Kamara features just enough speed/burst/size that he can be mixed in as a secondary rusher.

Low and behold, that's exactly what has happened for Kamara in New Orleans. Kamara has only played 37 percent of his team's snaps this season (up to 42 percent last week with Adrian Peterson gone), but he's received a target on 26 percent of those snaps and a rush attempt on 21 percent of them. Kamara has the most targets per snap of any Saint.

The Saints are fourth in points per game and Top 10 in receiving TDs on the season, despite already having their bye week. This week they possess one of the highest team totals of the week at 26. When you start throwing this type of TD equity the way of Kamara, even if he is not the goal line back, it gives him a nice ceiling to complement the floor that his rushing and receiving combination creates.

Sit

Tarik Cohen, RB, CHI — Last week was a good week for us on the "Start" side of the equation, but the "Sit" side of the equation went about as poorly as possible with Adrian Peterson having a huge day and Will Fuller continuing to defy the odds with his TD rate. Let's see if we can get back on track this week.

Cohen, like Kamara, has had fantasy success this season as a receiving back. Unlike Kamara, Cohen lacks athleticism, outside of straight line speed, which isn't even that great for his size (5'6, 179 pounds). Speaking of that size, it hurts Cohen's upside since it's tough to anticipate extra work coming between the tackles or by the goal line, something the 214 pound Kamara can offer.

The biggest issue with Cohen, however, is his recent volume. He's accumulated just a total of 12 targets over the past four weeks after receiving 21 his first two weeks. The target volume was unsustainable, to begin with, but a combination of very run heavy Chicago gameplans and the presence of Benny Cunningham (stealing some targets) has squashed the floor/upside combination for Cohen.

Wide Receiver/Tight End

Start

Hunter Henry, TE, SD — Let's spotlight the tight end position here this week. Hunter Henry was the most efficient WR for the Chargers last year, leading the team in yards per target at 9.09. He trounced Antonio Gates (5.89), but for loyalty or whatever reason, the team has been hesitant to make Henry the clear starter at TE.

That has begun to change. Here are Henry's snap percentages from Weeks 3-6: 56.16, 61.4, 75.64, and 83.06. While Gates is still managing to find his way on the field nearly half the time, the team is finding ways to get Henry on the field and to utilize him when he is on the field. Henry has 15 targets over the past two weeks and has been efficient once again this season (9.12 YPT).

Now, the matchup with the Broncos is unfavorable on the whole, as outlined at the QB position. However, Henry's increasing volume and historical efficiency make him a back-end TE1 in seasonal leagues and DFS tournament option. It's also important to recognize that empty volume can lead to good DFS days for pass catchers, even if the QB's fantasy prospects suffer in the process. Finally, while Denver is a tough macro matchup, from a micro perspective it could actually funnel volume to Henry. The Broncos are incredibly tough at defending outside WRs, and as a result, they've allowed the fourth highest target rate to the TE position.

Sit

Martellus Bennett, TE, GB — Fantasy football can be a funny game, huh? Here we are recommending to start a TE and sit his QB with Henry, and now advising to sit a TE playing with a QB designated as a start. Why? It all comes down to expectations and deciphering how points are going to be accumulated.

For Bennett, his DFS salary is higher than other cheap options, and he clearly lags behind the Top-12 TE options you'd want to utilize in seasonal formats. Bennett struggles to achieve a high market share of targets (15.5 percent on the season). With Rodgers, he is able to make up for that with efficiency, overall team pass volume, and TD equity. All three of those take a hit with Hundley at the helm. We're expecting fewer points for GB, a tighter Run/Pass split both in and out of the red zone, and reduced team yards per pass attempt.

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