Week 7 Preview: Sleepers are Lurking

Friday, Oct 20, 2023 at 12:50 pm ET

The NFL season is like time: it doesn't stop for anyone. As soon as you're comfortable with Kyren Williams taking over the Rams backfield, he and his backup both get hurt, and Zach Evans will step in as the likely lead back. This will be a weekly occurence, so finding sleepers early keeps you from having to fight through waivers for injury replacements.

Sleeper is a relative term. There are very few true SLEEPERS who come from obscurity in this age of information and countless hours spent combing through rosters. A sleeper in 2023 is more of a player with reason to expect an expanded role, like being inserted into the starting lineup or stealing a share of touches in the backfield.

As we preview Week 7, I'll point out sleepers who could be big players this week and/or in the near future. You've heard most of these names, but I'll explain why they could be better fantasy performers moving forward.

Players not listed here are either somewhere in the middle or not fantasy relevant. Be sure to check the weekly rankings to help make decisions between players.

No Explanation Needed

These are weekly starters who are expected to do their thing.


Player Opponent Opponent Rank: Fantasy Pts Allowed Projected Points (Rank)
Josh Allen, BUF New England Patriots 5th 20.5 (4th)
Lamar Jackson, BAL Detroit Lions 13th 20,8 (3rd)
Tua Tagovailoa, MIA Philadelphia Eagles 27th 19.4 (5th)
Jalen Hurts, PHI Miami Dolphins 26th 23.5 (1st)
Patrick Mahomes, KC Los Angeles Chargers 32nd 23.0 (2nd)
Justin Herbert, LAC Kansas City Chiefs 8th 18.2 (6th)
  • Dolphins vs Eagles Sunday night should be a ton of fun, and Hurts and Tua could both easily be top-five quarterbacks this week. Mahomes might be the player to beat for the top spot.


Player Opponent Opponent Rank: Fantasy Pts Allowed Standard Projected Pts (Rank) PPR Projected Pts (Rank)
James Cook, BUF New England Patriots 17th 9.7 (17th) 11.7 (20th)
Brian Robinson, WAS New York Giants 28th 10.2 (15th) 11.8 (T-18th)
Saquon Barkley, NYG Washington Commanders 13th 12.5 (9th) 15.7 (10th)
Josh Jacobs, LV Chicago Bears 29th 13.5 (4th) 16.6 (T-3rd)
Bijan Robinson, ATL Tampa Bay Buccaneers 6th 12.7 (8th) 16.2 (T-5th)
Kenneth Walker, SEA Arizona Cardinals 30th 14.3 (3rd) 16.1 (T-7th)
Isiah Pacheco, KC Los Angeles Chargers 21st 12.4 (10th) 14.8 (11th)
Raheem Mostert, MIA Philadelphia Eagles 2nd 13.2 (6th) 16.1 (T-7th)
D'Andre Swift, PHI Miami Dolphins 20th 12.9 (7th) 16.1 (T-7th)
Christian McCaffrey, SF Minnesota Vikings 9th 15.3 (1st) 18.5 (2nd)


Player Opponent Opponent Rank: Fantasy Pts Allowed Standard Projected Pts (Rank) PPR Projected Pts (Rank)
Stefon Diggs, BUF New England Patriots 14th 13.7 (3rd) 19.4 (10th)
Amon-Ra St. Brown, DET Baltimore Ravens 3rd 12.1 (6th) 17.6 (6th)
Davante Adams, LV Chicago Bears 20th 11.6 (7th) 16.2 (7th)
Cooper Kupp, LAR Pittsburgh Steelers 29th 15.0 (2nd) 20.5 (2nd)
Puka Nacua, LAR Pittsburgh Steelers 29th 10.7 (10th) 15.1 (10th)
Keenan Allen, LAC Kansas City Chiefs 8th 12.5 (5th) 18.2 (5th)
Tyreek Hill, MIA Philadelphia Eagles 28th 16.5 (1st) 22.0 (1st)
A.J. Brown, PHI Miami Dolphins 21st 13.6 (4th) 18.3 (4th)
Brandon Aiyuk, SF Minnesota Vikings 27th 11.3 (T-8th) 15.3 (9th)
DK Metcalf, SEA Arizona Cardinals 25th 10.5 (11th) 14.5 (10th)
  • You're going to see a lot of Lions listed as players to sit this week, but I can't go that far with St. Brown. He has been below 13th among receivers just one week in PPR and twice in Standard (while also missing Week 5).
  • Jakobi Meyers is very close to being on this list. Jimmy Garoppolo is out, and that's probably the only thing holding me back from including him against a pourus Bears defense. Meyers has outplayed Adams in three of the five games he's been active and should be in your lineup this week, even with a backup QB.


Player Opponent Opponent Rank: Fantasy Pts Allowed Standard Projected Pts (Rank) PPR Projected Pts (Rank)
Travis Kelce, KC Los Angeles Chargers 8th 13.2 (1st) 19.6 (1st)
Darren Waller, NYG Washington Commanders 18th 7.3 (T-7th) 11.3 (8th)
T.J. Hockenson, MIN San Francisco 49ers 5th 9.2 (3rd) 14.7 (3rd)
Mark Andrews, BAL Detroit Lions 26th 10.3 (2nd) 15.0 (2nd)
  • Tough matchups for Kelce and Hockenson, but they are each the top pass-catching option on their team right now.


These are mid-to-low level players who are worth looking at this week.


Player Opponent Opponent Rank: Fantasy Pts Allowed Projected Points (Rank)
Brock Purdy, SF Minnesota Vikings 24th 17.0 (9th)
Daniel Jones, NYG Washington Commanders 30th 13.2 (21st)
Jordan Love, GB Denver Broncos 31st 17.4 (8th)
  • Jones missed Week 6 with a neck injury and might not play Week 7, but he is a fantasy starter if he's out there. The risk of re-injury is always scary with a player in your lineup; Washington has been terrible against the passing game, though, and has allowed the second-most rushing yards to quarterbacks. If jones is out, Tyrod Taylor is a really deep streaming option.
  • Love won't have many better matchups than Week 7 against Denver. His receivers just missed being listed, but Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs are both players to consider for your WR2/WR3/flex spots.


Player Opponent Opponent Rank: Fantasy Pts Allowed Standard Projected Pts (Rank) PPR ProjectedPts (Rank)
Aaron Jones, GB Denver Broncos 32nd 11.0 (12th) 14.0 (12th)
Javonte Williams, DEN Green Bay Packers 27th 9.3 (19th) 11.4 (21st)
Rhamondre Stevenson, NE Buffalo Bills 23rd 9.6 (18th) 12.3 (15th)
Jerome Ford, CLE Indianapolis Colts 24th 9.9 (16th) 11.9 (T-16th)
Zach Evans, LAR Pittsburgh Steelers 27th 7.4 (T-25th) 8.7 (T-27th)
  • Jones is dealing with an injury that has cost him all but two games this season. He hopes to be back for Week 7 against a Denver team I'm going to keep picking on. AJ Dillon is a RB2/flex player if Jones is out.
  • Williams returned last week after missing Week 5 with injury, and Jaleel McLaughlin performed very well in the game-plus that Williams missed. Williams should get the most work, but both players will see the ball and can be considered for your flex spot.
  • Ford split time with Kareem Hunt last week and out-produced him in yardage. Hunt scored a touchdown and had the better fantasy week, though, and these players are likely to split the touches moving forward. They are both flex options with Ford a possible RB2.
  • With both Kyren Williams and Ronnie Rivers expected to miss Week 7 (and maybe longer), it looks like Evans will lead the backfield for the Rams. Los Angeles has shown the ability to excel running the ball with a number of backs under Sean McVay, so Evans is a high-level sleeper and RB2/flex player this week.


Player Opponent Opponent Rank: Fantasy Pts Allowed Standard Projected Pts (Rank) PPR Projected Pts (Rank)
Jaylen Waddle, MIA Philadelphia Eagles 28th 11.3 (T-8th) 15.4 (8th)
DeVonta Smith, PHI Miami Dolphins 21st 10.0 (14th) 14.1 (T-13th)
Kansas City Chief Receivers Los Angeles Chargers 32nd N/A N/A
New York Giant Receivers Washington Commanders 31st N/A N/A
Deebo Samuel, SF Minnesota Vikings 27th 7.9 (34th) 10.5 (38th)
Marquise Brown, ARI Seattle Seahawks 30th 9.3 (23rd) 13.4 (19th)
Drake London, ATL Tampa Bay Buccaneers 26th 8.2 (30th) 11.8 (29th)
Tyler Lockett, SEA Arizona Cardinals 25th 9.9 (T-15th) 13.7 (17th)
Terry McLaurin, WAS New York Giants 22nd 9.5 (20th) 13.3 (T-20th)
  • Waddle and Smith are close to weekly starters but just a half-step below in my eyes. They should get plenty of chances facing each other in an explosive game.
  • Kansas City plays by different rules with their roster it seems, and that's most true at wide receiver. Skyy Moore, Rashee Rice, and Kadarius Toney all have intrigue and have taken turns as the "top" receiver, though no one is ever truly a WR1 (that's Kelce). The Chargers have given up the most fantasy points per game to wide receivers, and each of those three players is a reasonable WR3/flex player this week. I see each of these three as great sleepers and players who could become a weekly WR3 options.
  • The matchup for the Giants is as good as for the Chiefs, but New York doesn't have any players that stand out at receiver. Waller is the top guy, like Kelce in KC, but Wan'Dale Robinson and Darius Slayton are deep streaming options if you're desperate.
  • Samuel is dealing with an injury but has a great matchup if he plays.
  • New Orleans plays Thursday, so I won't mention Rashid Shaheed here, but he's a big play waiting to happen and one of my favorite sleepers since Week 1. The Saints find ways to get him the ball (as they do with Taysom Hill), and he has been somewhat consistent as a WR3 player.


Player Opponent Opponent Rank: Fantasy Pts Allowed Standard Projected Pts (Rank) PPR Projected Pts (Rank)
Luke Musgrave, GB Denver Broncos 32nd 5.5 (T-13th) 8.9 (13th)
Pat Freiermuth, PIT Los Angeles Rams 30th 6.1 (10th) 9.4 (10th)
Michael Mayer, LV Chicago Bears 22nd 4.6 (T-21st) 7.3 (T-21st)
  • Musgrave has the best tight end matchup this week and is a clear top-10 option to me.
  • Freiermuth has been dealing with an injury but looks like he will play.
  • Mayer was the biggest tight end name in this year's Draft and not a sleeper, but some probably forgot about him as Musgrave and Sam LaPorta have had bigger rookie seasons. Mayer had 75 yards in Week 6, and this might be the last time you can grab him as a free agent. He's a quasi-sleeper.


These players have tough matchups, lack of volume, or something else holding them back this week.


Player Opponent Opponent Rank: Fantasy Pts Allowed Projected Points (Rank)
Kirk Cousins, MIN San Francisco 49ers 3rd 15.8 (14th)
Russell Wilson, DEN Green Bay Packers 9th 16.6 (T-10th)
Jared Goff, DET Baltimore Ravens 2nd 15.9 (13th)


Player Opponent Opponent Rank: Fantasy Pts Allowed Standard Projected Pts (Rank) PPR Projected Pts (Rank)
Alexander Mattison, MIN San Francisco 49ers 10th 9.2 (20th) 11.9 (T-16th)
Jonathan Taylor, IND Cleveland Browns 8th 10.6 (13th) 12.9 (14th)
Zack Moss, IND Cleveland Browns 8th 7.6 (24th) 9.1 (24th)
Austin Ekeler, LAC Kansas City Chiefs 5th 14.4 (2nd) 19.4 (1st)
Rachaad White, TB Atlanta Falcons 7th 9.1 (21st) 11.8 (T-18th)
Najee Harris, PIT Los Angeles Rams 11th 8.7 (22nd) 10.5 (23rd)
  • Taylor has been back two weeks: Moss out-touched him 25 to seven in Week 5, then they split touches at 13 apiece last week, with Moss scoring a touchdown and gaining 59 total yards (64 yards for Taylor). A split backfield is likely to continue, but a phenomenal Cleveland defense is lurking in Week 7. Anthony Richardson's season-ending surgery will make things harder for the running game moving forward.
  • Ekeler is usually a must-start, but he struggled last week in his return from a high ankle sprain, and players usually take multiple weeks before playing like themselves after returning. The Chiefs' defense is tough on everyone and limits running backs in the passing game (fifth-least receiving yards allowed to backs).
  • Harris has been unproductive. He hasn't scored a touchdown and has topped out at 65 total yards other than a 103-yard Week 4. His backup Jaylen Warren isn't a sleeper, but he could take over as the true starter by the end of the season. It's worth seeing if Warren can be acquired through free agency or (more likely) trade.


Player Opponent Opponent Rank: Fantasy Pts Allowed Standard Projected Pts (Rank) PPR Projected Pts (Rank)
Michael Pittman, IND Cleveland Browns 1st 8.8 (26th) 13.1 (24th)
Jameson Williams, DET Baltimore Ravens 3rd 4.6 (T-57th) 6.4 (T-58th)
Diontae Johnson, PIT Los Angeles Rams 4th 7.3 (38th) 10.7 (37th)
George Pickens, PIT Los Angeles Rams 4th 8.6 (28th) 11.6 (30th)
Mike Evans, TB Atlanta Falcons 7th 10.3 (12th) 14.2 (12th)
Jerry Jeudy, DEN Green Bay Packers 8th 8.1 (31st) 11.4 (T-31st)
Courtland Sutton, DEN Green Bay Packers 8th 8.0 (T-32nd) 11.1 (33rd)
Jordan Addison, MIN San Francisco 49ers 10th 8.7 (27th) 12.4 (27th)
  • Williams had 53 yards and a touchdown last week, his second game back from a gambling suspension. He will probably be a big part of the offense moving forward, but the Ravens are so good against the pass. Wait for a better matchup.
  • Johnson may return from an injury, but he and Pickens have a tough matchup against LA. Quarterback Kenny Pickett has struggled to find a rythm, and that's likely to continue against what has been a very good Rams defense.
  • Addison had three catches for 28 yards in Week 6. One of those catches was a touchdown, but much more was expected against Chicago with Jefferson out. The 49ers won't make anything easy, and it's easy to see Addison failing to even match last week's performance.


Player Opponent Opponent Rank: Fantasy Pts Allowed Standard Projected Pts (Rank) PPR Projected Pts (Rank)
Sam LaPorta, DET Baltimore Ravens 1st 7.7 (6th) 11.7 (6th)
Hunter Henry, NE Buffalo Bills 2nd 5.0 (T-17th) 7.8 (19th)
Kyle Pitts, ATL Tampa Bay Buccaneers 4th 6.6 (9th) 9.8 (9th)
Jonnu Smith, ATL Tampa Bay Buccaneers 4th 5.1 (16th) 7.9 (18th)
Zach Ertz, ARI Seattle Seahawks 6th 4.8 (19th) 8.2 (16th)
Tyler Higbee, LAR Pittburgh Steelers 7th 5.5 (T-13th) 8.7 (14th)
  • LaPorta is essentially a must-start player, but the Ravens have given up over 20% less points per game to tight ends than second-place Buffalo. There's a chance for volume and a score, but it's worth looking to see if you have another tight end option, which some won't.
  • Henry has fallen off the fantasy map after the first two weeks, and it's hard to see him as a starter anytime soon. Mike Gesicki hasn't done much better in his attempt to secure a role.
  • Pitts and Smith were both listed here last week but each had at least 36 yards and a touchdown. Tampa is even tougher on tight ends than Washington last week, so I'll recommend sitting them again. Smith has seemingly come out of nowhere with at least four catches and 36 yards every week.

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