There are so many twists and turns to an NFL Sunday that it's hard for fantasy football managers to keep up with everything. This column is designed to help, providing you with all of the storylines you need to know from Sunday's action in order to kick-start your research for all of the Week 8 games that lie ahead.
All stats are courtesy of ESPN Stats & Info, except where noted.
In a win over the defending AFC champions, Ryan Tannehill put on a breathtaking performance. The quarterback completed 21 of 27 passes for 270 yards, a touchdown and an interception. In addition, he scored on a 2-yard run. Overall, the Chiefs defense had prioritized stopping the run, which ultimately benefited Tannehill. He has averaged 19.4 fantasy points per game this season and the Titans will face the Colts next week. While Tannehill can continue to be used as a QB2, Tennessee's schedule does tighten up in the coming weeks with contests against the Rams, Saints and Patriots before their Week 13 bye.
Against the Chiefs, Derrick Henry displayed his versatility. He ran 29 times for 86 yards and caught two passes for 16 yards. More excitingly, he also threw a 5-yard TD pass. Henry joins LaDainian Tomlinson (2005) as the only players to have scored at least 10 rushing touchdowns and thrown a passing score during his team's first seven games of a season since the start of the Super Bowl era. Henry is averaging 21.35 points per game this season and this trend should continue. He is a top-tier RB1 in fantasy leagues.
A game with a 57.5 projected point total saw A.J. Brown deliver for fantasy managers. He looked healthy and rewarded those who had either traded for him or were patient with his slow start. Patience is a virtue, and the rumors about Brown's demise have been greatly exaggerated. On nine targets, Brown caught eight passes for 133 yards and a touchdown. The combination of his projected target volume, his rapport with Tannehill, and the Titans' schedule for the rest of the season suggest Brown could finish as a top-five fantasy receiver.
Atlanta Falcons 30, Miami Dolphins 28
This was Matt Ryan's best performance of the season. In the game against the Dolphins, he went 25 of 40 for 336 yards, two touchdowns and just one interception. In his last four games, Ryan has thrown for 1,204 yards and 10 touchdowns. There is no denying that he is a criminally underrated player and is effectively executing head coach Arthur Smith's offense. Ryan is now tied for the 7th-most game-winning drives in NFL history (40) with John Elway. He'll carry this momentum into a home game against a struggling Panthers team next week. Despite losing their top two receivers, the Panthers gave up 203 passing yards and a touchdown to Daniel Jones. You can just imagine what Ryan will do to them.
Despite a slow start to his rookie season, Kyle Pitts is really starting to shine. On Sunday, five of his seven receptions were for at least 20 yards. Overall, Pitts had 163 receiving yards on the day. Throw in the performance of a certain Bengals rookie (see below) and you get the first time two players under the age of 21 have had 150-plus receiving yards in the same week. Pitts should be a top-three fantasy tight end for Week 8.
Russell Gage's return to the Falcons after a long injury layoff was well worth the wait. After having been sidelined since Week 2, the receiver caught 4 of 6 targets for 67 yards and a touchdown. As of Sunday's slate of NFL games, Gage was rostered in only 9.9% of ESPN leagues. That percentage is certain to increase this week.
Joe Burrow completed 23 of 38 passes for 416 yards, three touchdowns and an interception against the Ravens. He has now thrown 17 passing touchdowns, which is one behind Boomer Esiason's 1988 total through the first seven games. Esiason won the Most Valuable Player award for that season. With the Jets defense coming off a game where they allowed 307 passing yards and two touchdowns to Patriots QB Mac Jones, Burrow is firmly on the QB1 radar.
Over the last three games, Lamar Jackson has a passer rating of 107.9. The only quarterback with a higher rating is Josh Allen (113.6). On 15-of-31 passing, Jackson threw for 257 yards and a touchdown. Additionally, he ran for 88 yards on 12 attempts. It was surprising that the Ravens' offensive line allowed Jackson to be sacked four times. That's the most sacks Baltimore has allowed in any game this season. Jackson and the Ravens will regroup during their bye week and look to bounce back against the Vikings, Dolphins, and Bears. The rest of Baltimore's schedule is quite QB friendly.
Many managers will look at Tee Higgins' stat line and focus only on his seven receptions and 62 receiving yards. What caught my attention was his 15 targets. There will be a lot of attention focused on Ja'Marr Chase, whose stellar 201 receiving yards are rightly earning him accolades. Still, Higgins should not be overlooked. Over the last three games (since his return from injury), he has accumulated 28 targets. Higgins is a WR3/flex play each and every week.
Los Angeles Rams 28, Detroit Lions 19
In this contest, Matthew Stafford became the 7th-fastest quarterback to reach 300 passing touchdowns. He's also just the ninth quarterback to record 300 passing yards and three passing touchdowns against a former team -- and the first since Peyton Manning did it back in 2013. Stafford still gets to play the Texans, Titans and 49ers prior to Detroit's bye week.
D'Andre Swift can both run and catch, so he'll be involved in the offense, regardless of whether the Lions are leading or trailing. In Week 7, he rushed 13 times for 48 yards and caught eight passes for another 96 yards and a touchdown. Swift's fantasy stats as a receiver alone this season would rank him higher than any other Lions player, save for QB Jared Goff. Let that sink in. Swift is a high-end RB1.
Cooper Kupp is the only receiver in the Super Bowl era to have 800-plus receiving yards and nine-plus receiving touchdowns in his team's first seven games of a season. He caught 10 of 13 targets for 156 yards and two touchdowns on Sunday. Considering Kupp's ADP this summer, he's more than shaping up to be a fantasy-league winner.
Tom Brady competed 20 of 36 passes for 211 yards and four touchdowns against the Bears, becoming only the third player in NFL history with at least 200 completions and 20 touchdown passes in his team's first seven games. Peyton Manning (2013) and Andrew Luck (2018) are the others. Brady is a matchup proof QB1.
The only bright spot offensively for the Bears was Khalil Herbert. On Sunday, he had 18 rushes for 100 yards and five receptions for 33 yards. Until David Montgomery returns, Herbert will be the Bears' No. 1 running back.
The absence of Antonio Brown opened the door for Chris Godwin to have a monster game. He caught 8 of 11 targets for a season-high 111 yards and a touchdown. However, Mike Evans did even better, catching 6 of 10 targets for 76 yards and three touchdowns -- including the milestone 600th TD pass of Brady's career.
Terry McLaurin remains underrated. According to Pro Football Focus (PFF), he has reeled in a total of 10 contested catches over 20 air yards in length.
Damien Harris had a career day, with 106 rushing yards and two touchdowns.
Myles Gaskin rushed for 67 yards on 15 carries and added four receptions for 10 more yards and a touchdown in the Dolphins' crowded backfield.
C.J. Uzomah has tallied 64.7 PPR fantasy points over the past four weeks, third-best among tight ends. However, according to Tristan H. Cockcroft, a full 16 other tight ends had more targets than Uzomah's 14 during that same span.
Calvin Ridley has been targeted at least 10 times in each of his last four games, but has only accumulated 230 receiving yards.
Marquise Brown was targeted 14 times on Sunday. His 566 receiving yards in seven games is more than DeAndre Hopkins, Justin Jefferson, CeeDee Lamb, Stefon Diggs and DK Metcalf. Brown's six touchdowns ties him for third in the league.
Derek Carr completes 31 of 34 passes, good for 91.2%. That's the second-highest rate for any quarterback in NFL history with at least 30 passes. According to PFF, he leads the league with 693 passing yards on deep passes (30-plus air yards). Carr's remaining schedule is very fantasy-friendly.
Zach Ertz caught three passes for 66 yards and a touchdown. He is just the second player since 1970 to score a touchdown for two different teams in consecutive weeks.
The RB job in San Francisco is firmly held by Elijah Mitchell. With 107 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries and playing on 66% of snaps, he's shaping up to be a fantasy-league winner.