Each week our gaggle of Yahoo analysts show their hands and reveal their top booms, busts and breakouts. Gaze into the crystal ball and list your picks, using the strict rules set, in the comment section below.
Among players under 50 percent started in Yahoo leagues, the loudest BOOM from Week 7 comes from ________.
Dalton – JOE MIXON. It’s been an extremely disappointing start to the rookie’s career, but after averaging 19 snaps with zero red-zone carries over his first two games, he’s averaged 33.7 snaps with six RZ rushing attempts over his past three contests, as Cincy’s switch at OC has resulted in far more action. The Bengals are coming off a bye and get a Steelers defense that’s allowed 4.7 YPC and the fifth-most fantasy points to running backs this season. This could easily go down as the last week Mixon is started in under half of leagues. [Ed Note: I suspect the low Mixon tag is partially tied to Cincinnati coming off a bye; owners just haven’t flipped the switch yet, shifted into their game-ready mode. Mixon is ranked favorably by four of five Yahooligans this week. I agree with the breakout potential here.]
Liz – MARLON MACK. NOW, I’m in. With Robert Turin, who the Colts love to use near the goal line, out for the season (elbow), Mack is bound to see more high-value touches. He’s demonstrated big-play ability and the coaching staff has talked about getting him more involved. With three goal line carries on the season to Frank Gore’s ZERO, Mack is primed for a breakout. He’s facing a Jaguars unit that has allowed the second most yards per game (145.7) and 5 rushing TDs on the season.
Scott — DION LEWIS has seen his usage increase in three straight weeks, and he’s averaging 5.6 YPC over that stretch, with a couple of touchdowns. Mike Gillislee doesn’t have a history of fumbling but the Patriots did fumble-shame Gillislee (for a while) after last week’s bobble in Jersey. And we know Gillislee is stumbling around at 3.7 YPC and doesn’t even have a target this year.
I’m generally a big James White proponent and I’ll never forget what he did in his last Atlanta meet-up, but he’s stuck at zero touchdowns this season — the explosive plays just haven’t been there. New England backfield bingo isn’t for everyone, but I see this as a Lewis game. He’s owned in just seven percent of Yahoo leagues as we go to post.
Conversely, among players started in over 50 percent of Yahoo leagues, the biggest Week 7 BUST will be ______.
Liz – TY MONTGOMERY. No Aaron Rodgers means a larger focus on the run, right? Well, yes. Except Aaron Jones is better pure runner than Montgomery. Don’t believe me? You don’t have to, but consider this. When facing BASE fronts, Montgomery has averaged 2.3 YPC. The benefit of having Rodgers under center, however, is that Montgomery has only seen a base front 30 percent of the time, and been blessed with a light front 64 percent of the time.
As good as Brett Hundley may be, he’s not Rodgers, and he’s certainly going to be tested by defenses. The Saints aren’t a shut-down unit, but they’re much improved, and they will bring the heat (did you see Cam Jordan beat up on Matt Stafford last week?) against Hundley. Montgomery, at best, reaches 70 yards from scrimmage this Sunday.
Scott — I hate to say anything negative about T.Y. Hilton, one of my favorite real-life players. But the Jaguars call this week, with two elite cornerbacks. The Jags are first in pass-defense DVOA, but 31st in rush-defense DVOA. That’s a funnel defense, friends. If the Colts are going to keep this game competitive, it will be through Frank Gore, Marlon Mack, and maybe the legs of Jacoby Brissett; not the aerial strikes through the passing game. Hilton also gets dinged for the lousy supporting cast around him; the Jags will be marking him the moment Indy gets off the bus, because there’s no other downfield threat to worry about.
Dalton – MARSHAWN LYNCH. He hasn’t surpassed 13 carries since Week 1, averaging just 10.4 over that five-game span (while totaling four catches on the year). The Raiders’ offensive line hasn’t run blocked nearly as well as expected, and Lynch hasn’t done his part either, as his longest rush of the season is 15 yards, and he ranks #89 in fantasy points per opportunity (0.57). Moreover, the Chiefs have allowed the 11th fewest fantasy points to running backs this season, so Lynch is nowhere near a must start.
Chuck a Hail Mary, the one deep player (under 15% started) you believe BREAKS OUT in Week 7 is ______.
Scott – The first thing we do with BRETT HUNDLEY is throw out his Minnesota tape. No one was going to succeed in that frame, a surprise relief appearance, on the road, against a nasty division rival. We’ll actually find something out about Hundley this week against New Orleans, off a full week of practice.
Hundley’s resume shows room for optimism. He logged three productive years at UCLA, breaking through as a 19-year-old redshirt freshman. In the preseason, he’s been outstanding — 10 touchdowns against two picks, with 59 rushing yards and two more scores mixed in. Before you laugh about preseason success having any significance, remember where it led us with Dak Prescott and Russell Wilson. Hundley has talented playmakers around him, he’s at home, and New Orleans’s defense (while improved) is not a shutdown unit. The Packers might shock the world and win Sunday; at minimum, I expect a competitive game, with Hundley easily returning value.
Dalton – ORLEANS DARKWA. The Giants’ offense came to life last week once Ben McAdoo gave up playcalling duties, and Darkwa sure looks like their new lead back after getting 6.4 YPC over the past two games. Darkwa’s breakaway run rate ranks #11 in the NFL, as 9.5% of his carries have gone for 15 yards or more, and Seattle has allowed 4.9 YPC this season (third most in the league), so he belongs in far more fantasy lineups in Week 7.
Liz — ZAY JONES. Yeah, yeah, yeah… he’s been awful. In fact, the only metric in which he has excelled is in drops: he’s fourth in the league, with 5 on the season. But the Bills don’t have many other options. Charles Clay is out (knee), Jordan Matthews is doubtful (thumb), and Deonte Thompson (formerly of the Bears) has been on the team since Tuesday. More importantly, they’re playing the Buccaneers, a unit that gave up 283 receiving yards and 3 scores to the Cardinals this past Sunday.
Watch List: Keep an eye on Bills TE2, Nick O’Leary. His snaps rose over 30 percent and his targets jumped to six (from a high of 2 in Week 1) in Week 5 with Clay sidelined. The Bucs have been staunch over the middle of the field, but Leary’s stock is rising. Coming off a bye he figures to be more involved.