Let's move to improve in Week 7! Utilizing ESPN's metrics database and some assistance from stats ace Kyle Soppe, I'm here to help you win in fantasy and at the books.
Pick: Trevor Lawrence over 15.5 rush yards (-117)
Struggling marquee QBs (a la Russell Wilson, Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady) have dominated fantasy headlines. The hand-wringing only figures to grow with three of FF's top 10 producers (Josh Allen, Jalen Hurts, and Kirk Cousins) all on bye. While Trevor Lawrence has disappointed for three straight efforts, he's in line for sneaky production ... even against a white-hot Giants squad.
Jacksonville's backfield has leveled out over the past two weeks. As Travis Etienne's snaps have increased, so has Lawrence's rushing production (he's gone over 20 rushing yards in back-to-back efforts). That's because Etienne's versatility stretches the field and pulls defenders away from the backfield, allowing Lawrence to advance the ball with his legs.
No one loves a blitz like Wink Martindale. Lawrence has, thus far, handled such pressure well, managing a top-six completion percentage (67.3%) when blitzed. Hooray for good decisions! Assuming the Giants bring the heat and simultaneously account for the Jaguars' pass-catching threats, Lawrence has the know-how and mobility to successfully rely on his legs. Both Justin Fields and Lamar Jackson managed five rushing attempts for over 45 rushing yards when blitzed by the Giants. It's a good recipe!
It seems as though Doug Pederson is interested in utilizing Lawrence's sneaky athleticism. It may not win Jacksonville the game on Sunday, but it should help Duval's QB manage low-end QB1 numbers in Week 7.
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Pick: Marcus Mariota over 0.5 INTs (-103)
Mike Zimmer exits the league and Arthur Smith fills his run-loving loafers. Marcus Mariota has three more passing scores (6) than he does rushing TDs (3) and the same number of INTs (4) as Josh Allen (but 102 fewer pass attempts).
The ground-and-pound formula might have led to a Week 6 upset over San Francisco, but there's no way Atlanta is coming away with a W at Cincy without Mariota putting the ball in the air. Team QBs facing the Bengals have each cleared 30 pass attempts (with the exception of Joe Flacco in Week 3, who recorded 28 pass attempts in a 27-12 loss) regardless of a win or a loss. The Falcons are 6.5-point underdogs. Mariota better start warming up his shoulder.
Since 2019, QBs are nearly 37% more likely (per pass) to throw an INT when trailing than when leading. Mariota is not immune to the trend, as he has recorded 12 INTs in the 12 games in which he's lost and had to lob more than 25 passes. Additionally, Mariota has thrown a pick in each of the past three games in which his defense allowed over 21 points. The Bengals have an implied total of 27 points.
All of that bodes well for the Bengals defense (ranked sixth per ESPN consensus), Cincy's odds of covering and the over on the above prop.
Pick: Brian Robinson Jr. over 13.5 carries (+106)
Field Yates and I lamented the Commanders backfield on the Fantasy Focus Football Podcast earlier in the week, admitting that the RBs were difficult to rank. That gnawed at me. So I did some digging, and I think Robinson is the favorite to lead the group. I decided to move him inside my top 30, with Antonio Gibson and J.D. McKissic more than 10 spots behind.
Robinson debuted in Week 5, recording a snap share of 27.6% and nine carries. Those numbers nearly doubled four days later in a prime time slog at Chicago (48.1% snap share, 17 carries). Consequently, Gibson's snap share dropped from 32.8% in Week 4 to a season-low 27.8% in Week 5. The Memphis product has carried the rock a total of eight times (no red zone touches) over his last two outings while drawing four looks in consecutive efforts. Robinson is clearly the guy. In fact, he was the only back to touch the ball in the first quarter of last Thursday's showing. His attempts additionally made up seven of the team's 10 rushes in the first half.
Game script doesn't heavily favor Robinson, as the Commanders are 4.5-point underdogs. However, the Packers are the sixth most run-on defense in the league, as opposing backfields are averaging 22.6 rushing attempts per contest when facing Green Bay. Given the split between Robinson and Gibson (McKissic has managed just two totes since Robinson entered the equation), the rookie should clear the above line and post upwards of 15 carries.
Cleveland Browns at Baltimore Ravens (-6.5, 45.5)
Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore
Pick: Kareem Hunt over 35.5 rush yards (-117)
The Browns backfield hasn't been messy over the course of 2022, but it was last Sunday. One bad showing is enough to make fantasy managers panic. But I'm not terribly concerned. Nick Chubb remains a top-10 option while Kareem Hunt figures to return to flex form. Cleveland's offensive game plan is evident, and the data soundly suggests a running back rebound. I've gotten more questions about Hunt, so that's the back I'm focusing on here.
Hunt cleared 45 rushing yards over the first five games of the season before hitting a wall last Sunday versus the Patriots. Chasing a 23-point deficit obviously limited Hunt's chances of touching the ball. Game script could go sideways again at Baltimore, but I don't think it will. There's no way the Browns don't play keep-away against a division rival helmed by Lamar Jackson. In fact, even accounting for last week's dud, Cleveland ranks second in time of possession on the year.
Furthermore, the Ravens are a known opponent and the Browns traditionally play them tight. In Cleveland's past 10 divisional games, seven have been decided by six or fewer points. And the Browns actually won two of the three remaining one-sided affairs. This doesn't figue to be a blowout, which should translate into meaningful touches for Hunt.
The matchup isn't as scary as you might initially believe, either. The Ravens are excellent at limiting yards per carry on first down (4.0 yards). On second and third downs, however, Baltimore eases up, allowing 5.7 yards per carry. Coincidentally, the majority of Hunt's attempts come on second and third downs (34.7%), increasing his odds of chunk gains.
This one hits like that kombucha meme. Prepare for the Browns backfield to bounce back.
Houston Texans at Las Vegas Raiders (-7, 45.5)
Sunday, 4:05 p.m. ET, Allegiant Stadium, Las Vegas
Pick: Davante Adams over 81.5 receiving yards (-125)
This feels high, especially on the heels of a season-low seven targets in Week 5. Yet Adams has gone over 100 yards in three of the Raiders' five outings this season. Coming off a bye -- and probably angry about a few things -- Adams should roll. He's my WR3 for the week and I'm projecting a 7-90-1 stat line.
The Texans have been generous to opposing wideouts, allowing four WRs to cross 100 yards in five games. That list includes Courtland Sutton, Michael Pittman, Mike Williams and Marvin Jones. I mean, if Marvin Jones can do it then let's go Davante! It's also worth mentioning that Houston struggles to defend deep looks, allowing the ninth-highest completion percentage on balls thrown over 20 yards.
You know who's great at coming down with deep shots? You guessed it.
Additionally, Adams is averaging 10.6 looks per contest (including the aforementioned Week 5) while managing a career-high aDOT (11.5). The fact that he's also the No. 1 ranked receiver in red zone targets (13) and No. 2 in total TDs (5) doesn't directly help this particular prop, but it might encourage you to consider some SGP action.
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