A host of fantasy football studs fall victim to the line six-team bye of the season, making it even more difficult than usual to decide who to start. With some many usual starters out, identifying sleepers is critical. We’ve identified some under-the-radar guys with starting potential, and whether these players are on your roster or sitting on the waiver wire, they have sneaky upside to give you an edge. Damien Williams and J.D. McKissic are the types of players on the start ’em, sit ’em bubble this week, but we like their chances enough to put them on our Week 7 fantasy sleeper list.
It’s also worth noting that any of our selections could bust this week. We’re taking some chances here, as we don’t want to say anyone too obvious. A list of easy choices wouldn’t do anyone any good. You aren’t going to start the guys below over consistent, proven producers, but you’re probably not searching for fantasy sleepers if your lineup is set. However, even if that’s the case, our sleepers list can help you find value in DFS, as the prices of these players should be affordable.
In Week 6, we were on the plus side of things with our sleeper picks. Our headliners were Tua Tagovailoa and Darrel Williams, both of whom finished in the top 10 at their positions. As gross as tight end can be, we picked Hunter Henry, Jared Cook, and Ricky Seals-Jones, all of whom scored a touchdown. Our other notable wins were Cole Beasley, Teddy Bridgewater, and Carson Wentz. Latavius Murray saved us from shame by scoring a touchdown. The Packers and Vikings defenses finished in the top-12, while Miami fell just short.
Now — the bad. Michael Pittman Jr. and Kenny Gainwell were the only guys we can say flat-out busted. Allen Robinson was underwhelming but he did give you something compared to his previous weeks. All things considered, it was a solid week, so let’s try to do it again.
Week 7 Fantasy Sleepers: Running backs
James Conner, Cardinals vs. Texans (Jackson Sparks). The Cardinals should dominate this game, and that means a ton of work for Conner down the stretch. He’s been the guy in the Arizona backfield when the games get out of hand and has put up five rushing touchdowns this season.
J.D. McKissic, Washington @ Packers (Vinnie Iyer). Antonio Gibson is hurting, and WFT is facing another potent offense with a linebacker-suspect defense. Washington is guaranteed to be trailing and will need a lot checkdown passing to a running back.
Damien Williams, Bears @ Buccaneers (Matt Lutovsky). Williams missed last week while on the COVID/reserve list, and backup Khalil Herbert shined in his absence. It’s tempting to think Herbert will handle the bulk of the playing time again, but if Williams is back, expect him to have a bigger impact this week. Tampa boasts the No. 1 run defense, but it allows the second-most receptions (7.5), fifth-most receiving yards (52), and most TDs (0.5) per game to RBs. Williams should get more playing time in the second half and be able make an impact through the air, especially in PPR leagues.
Week 7 Fantasy Football Sleepers: Quarterbacks
Tua Tagovailoa, Dolphins vs. Falcons (Sparks). Tua was the QB10 in fantasy last week, throwing for north of 300 yards on 47 attempts. The two touchdowns to Jaylen Waddle were also nice to see, as they built on their strong connection. If DeVante Parker (hamstring) plays, we like this pick even more, but we like his chances either way with Waddle and Mike Gesicki against a Falcons’ secondary that has seemingly been poor for years.
Justin Fields, Bears @ Buccaneers (Iyer). There are signs he’s being let loose for regular passing volume and running more, and the matchup is good because the rookie will need to throw a ton to wideouts with great matchups.
Jameis Winston, Saints @ Seahawks (Lutovsky). It’s entirely possible Winston spends most of Monday night handing it off and watching Alvin Kamara run wild, but the Seahawks pass defense (28th) is nearly as bad as its run defense (30th). Winston can connect on a few big passes, and there’s a good chance he tosses at least a couple touchdowns, too.
Week 7 Fantasy Football Sleepers: Wide receivers
Marquez Callaway, Saints @ Seahawks (Sparks). New Orleans is coming off a bye, so perhaps Sean Payton will open the passing offense and let Jamies Winston take deep shots to Callaway against a bad Seattle secondary. With Michael Thomas (ankle) still out, Callaway remains the No. 1 WR here. He trails only Alvin Kamara in targets this year and saw a season-high eight targets and two touchdowns in Week 5. This could be the breakout we’ve all been waiting for.
Robby Anderson, Panthers @ Giants (Iyer). His late breakthrough against the Vikings will carry over into this matchup back at MetLife Stadium with Sam Darnold, as he does more good work away from D.J. Moore (and James Bradberry).
Allen Lazard, Packers vs. Washington (Lutovsky). The production hasn’t matched the snap share for Lazard this year. He’s played at least 65 percent of snaps in every game, including at least 85 percent in each of the past two contests. It seems like only a matter of time before he gets more targets and more catches. He started to inch toward a breakout last week when he saw a season-high five targets and caught his first score of the year. Against Washington’s last-ranked pass defense, this could finally be the week he goes off.
Week 7 Fantasy Football Sleepers: Tight ends
Ross Dwelley, 49ers vs. Colts (Sparks). Dwelley steps in for George Kittle (calf) and has a chance to make some noise early. Indianapolis has given up the fourth-most points to fantasy TEs, and the target competition is wide open behind Deebo Samuel. We’ve seen Kittle’s backups be productive in the past when he’s been out, so why can’t Dwelley?
Mo Alie-Cox, Colts @ 49ers Iyer). He’s starting to be trusted in key situations by Carson Wentz every week, and there’s a good chance he scores again.
Cole Kmet, Bears @ Bucs (Lutovsky). Kmet is tough to trust given his lack of production all year, but he’s played a good amount of snaps every week, and with nine targets the past two games, he’s starting to get more involved. The Bucs allow the fifth-most FPPG to TEs, so he has a good chance of getting some garbage-time stats here.
Week 7 Fantasy Football Sleepers: Defense
New York Jets @ Patriots (Sparks). In the first meeting between these two teams, New York’s defense actually played fine. It allowed just 260 yards of total offense, but Zach Wilson’s four interceptions put the Jets in awful spots. They’ve had a week off to prepare and have more talent on defense than you might think, including a defensive line that can outmatch the Patriots up front. Robert Saleh is a strong defensive mind, so the Jets’ stop-unit should be ready to go against a pedestrian Pats’ offense.
Philadelphia Eagles @ Raiders (Iyer). They will get some sacks and takeaways with that strong inside pass rush and outside coverage.
New York Giants vs. Panthers (Lutovsky). Sam Darnold is back in his old stomping ground — you know, the stadium in which he “saw ghosts” on a Monday night in 2019. Most homecomings are viewed as a positive, but that might not be the case for Darnold, who’s turned into the bad version of himself over Carolina’s past three games (six INTs). The Giants haven’t done much this year, but this could be the game they break out.