Betting the Spread: NFL Week 7 – A Winning Week

by Shervon Fakhimi · Betting & Props

This is Betting the Spread: NFL Week 7! What’s that, another winning week? We were on a roll before a 6-9 outing in Week 5, but a 7-6 performance in Week 6 has us back in the winner’s circle. We still need to improve on our 37-49-2 record on the season but progress is gradual. Last week’s slate looked great. This week? Not so much. But football is going to be played this weekend, which means it must be dissected and analyzed. Let’s get another winning week in Week 7!

(Lines Provided by PlayerProfiler EDGE)

Green Bay Packers (-4.5) vs Washington Commanders

Over/Under: 41.5

Pick ATS: Green Bay Packers

When you thought things couldn’t get worse for Terry McLaurin at the QB position, it did. Carson Wentz isn’t giving McLaurin the love his previous QBs were. McLaurin’s 16.4-percent target share ranks No. 57 among wide receivers. His 15.5-percent target rate ranks No. 83. Even the targets he is getting aren’t moving the needle. McLaurin’s target quality rating ranks No. 27 at receiver, and his 7.4 target accuracy is No. 50. But Carson Wentz injured a finger on his throwing hand and will miss 4-6 weeks. Enter Taylor Heinicke. Is Taylor Heinicke good? Not really! I thought Wentz was going to be an upgrade entering this season.

But the good news is, Taylor Heinicke at least throws Terry McLaurin the ball. Granted, Curtis Samuel nor Jahan Dotson were around last year, but if you exclude the game that Heinicke missed in Week 15 last year, McLaurin’s target share was a robust 24.2-percent. It’s not unreasonable to expect a bump in volume, especially if Jahan Dotson continues to sit with lingering hamstring woes. But, Green Bay did unleash Jaire Alexander as a true shadow corner to pester Garrett Wilson. Wilson finished with eight yards on one reception last week. McLaurin is a risky start, but I usually trust the talent in these situations and think a boost in volume should keep McLaurin viable. But he is not a must-start by any means.

Terry McLaurin Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile

Atlanta Falcons vs Cincinnati Bengals (-7)

Over/Under: 47.5

Pick ATS: Cincinnati Bengals

Kyle Pitts scored his first NFL touchdown on American soil last week! Throw a damn parade! The problem is I’m not sure Atlanta’s offense will allow for an encore. If it weren’t for the Chicago Bears dismissing the notion of throwing the ball entirely, the Falcons would be by far the least pass-happy offense in the NFL.

The Falcons have thrown the ball 137 times this season. Only the aforementioned Bears (115) and Titans (130) have thrown it less, and the Titans have played one fewer game. Cincinnati’s defense ranks No. 8 against the pass according to Football Outsiders’ pass defense DVOA metric but No. 16 in run defense DVOA. As much as we want Tyler Allgeier to happen, he’s getting almost nothing in the receiving game (two targets in six games) and is splitting carries with Caleb Huntley. Since Week 4, Allgeier has 38 carries. Huntley has 34 carries. No one on this offense needs to be started until a running back distances himself from the other, or the Falcons throw more. It’s unfortunate to see talents like Pitts, Drake London, and Allgeier muted by their own team, but that’s what’s happening.

Kyle Pitts Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile

Detroit Lions vs Dallas Cowboys (-7)

Over/Under: 49

Pick ATS: Dallas Cowboys

I hope you held Dak Prescott. He was a full participant in practice, and he looks like a great start in his return. The Lions rank dead last in Football Outsiders’ pass defense DVOA metric and second-to-last in run defense. The Tom Savage corollary has more than kept CeeDee Lamb afloat. He currently ranks first among receivers in target share at 33.3-percent. But this could be a nice get-right game for Michael Gallup and Dalton Schultz (if Schultz returns). Gallup now has three games under his belt to work off some rust that comes with returning from a torn ACL. With Prescott under a center, those targets are likely going to be a little more spread out, though Lamb will still get his. I think Gallup and every Cowboy, even Noah Brown in deeper leagues, make for a solid start against this Lions’ defense.

Michael Gallup Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile

Indianapolis Colts (+2) vs Tennessee Titans

Over/Under: 42.5

Pick ATS: Indianapolis Colts

Jonathan Taylor was limited in practice on Wednesday with his lingering ankle issue. Nyheim Hines (concussion) and Week 6 breakout hero Deon Jackson (quad) were full participants. We’ll have to monitor those practice reports, but I wonder if the targets thrown in the running backs’ direction will continue and even extend to Taylor. Hines had 17 targets through the first three weeks of the season. Taylor had 13.

Deon Jackson had 14 in the last two weeks alone. With the state of the Colts’ offensive line, there might not be a choice. 20-percent of Matt Ryan‘s targets have gone to running backs. That seems like huge news before Jonathan Taylor returns. Taylor ranks No. 8 in opportunity share at 77-percent, but he also ranks No. 6 in route participation (59.1-percent) and No. 16 in routes run (91). Taylor hasn’t been known as a pass-catcher, but he might be forced into that role to keep this offense afloat. He looks like a buy-low candidate before he returns to play, which could very well be this week.

Jonathan Taylor Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-13) vs Carolina Panthers

Over/Under: 40.5

Pick ATS: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Speaking of poor offensive lines, Tampa Bay’s hasn’t held up very well either. The Buccaneers rank No. 28 in ESPN’s pass block win rate metric. The only teams worse are the Bengals, Commanders, the Colts as mentioned earlier, and the Cowboys. As a result, Tom Brady has had to dump it off frequently. His 7.7 air yards per attempt rank No. 20 among quarterbacks. Chris Godwin has been a big beneficiary. He has 28 targets over the last three weeks which is more than Leonard Fournette (24) and Mike Evans (22). Godwin has yet to truly burst on the scene as he continues to come back from his torn ACL. He’s averaging 71.7 yards per game in the last three weeks.

Godwin’s averages in the last three games extrapolate to a 159-108-1,218 season over 17 weeks. He too looks like a buy-low candidate but so too does Russell Gage. Julio Jones is hurt yet again, and we’ve already seen Chris Godwin suffer a setback this season from a health standpoint. Gage might have been dropped, but he’s one of the rare wide receiver handcuffs alongside Khalil Shakir and Greg Dortch. That could be a major difference-maker in the event they’re thrust into more work. Buy Chris Godwin, but also add Russell Gage.

Chris Godwin Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile

New York Giants vs Jacksonville Jaguars (-3)

Over/Under: 43

Pick ATS: Jacksonville Jaguars

Christian Kirk lit the world on fire the first few weeks of the season, but Zay Jones hasn’t been a slouch either. Those two have played five games together this season. Kirk held the edge in targets in two of those games. Jones also held the edge in targets in two games. And, they tied each other last week with five apiece. In fact, in the five games the two have played together, Jones actually holds the lead over Kirk in targets 37-to-35. Their other metrics are remarkably close to one another. Kirk has a 22.6-percent target share. Jones? 21.5-percent. Kirk’s target rate sits at 26-percent. Jones’ is at 25.2-percent. Kirk has a 2.05-yard target separation. Jones’ is 2.22. I believe Kirk to be the superior player, but Jones is no slouch either. There’s no reason for Jones to be rostered in only 33-percent of leagues on Sleeper while Kirk is rostered in 92-percent and is started in 71-percent. If he’s available in your league, add Zay Jones. Heck, he’s even a solid start this week too.

Zay Jones Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile

Cleveland Browns vs Baltimore Ravens (-6.5)

Over/Under: 45.5

Pick ATS: Baltimore Ravens

Why is Donovan Peoples-Jones available in 67-percent of Sleeper redraft leagues? I have a hard time wrapping my head around why. He’s accumulated at least 50 yards in four of Cleveland’s six games this season. Amari Cooper has done so in only three games. His metrics don’t jump off the page, though. He’s No. 36 among wide receivers in targets (36), No. 32 in air yards (415), and No. 37 in average depth of target (11.5). You’d think someone with an 87th-percentile speed score would be used more downfield, but he’s had to adapt with Jacoby Brissett at quarterback. It is encouraging to see that the Browns trust him to win in short to intermediate areas as well as winning deep, which he’s proven he can do. 

Donovan Peoples-Jones Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile

Last year, his average depth of target was 14.7 yards which ranked No. 4 among receivers. Deshaun Watson (AKA The Nasty Man) is halfway through his suspension, but his return in Week 13 will lift this entire Browns offense, Peoples-Jones included. The Ravens allow the most points to wide receivers, but that could also be inflated by Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle‘s destruction of their secondary in Week 2. Baltimore ranks No. 10 in Football Outsiders’ pass defense DVOA. Peoples-Jones is a fine start this week, but his value could grow in the not-too-distant future.

New York Jets (Pick ‘Em) vs Denver Broncos

Over/Under: 38

Pick ATS: New York Jets

Nathaniel Hackett: what the hell? Again. Melvin Gordon started the game against the Los Angeles Chargers last Monday but was banished to the bench in the middle of the game for no great reason? He’s said that Gordon will start this week against the Jets, but I’m not buying it. You know the phrase ‘actions speak louder than words,’ right? Well, until Hackett proves he’ll play Gordon, I’m not starting him if I have him. Or, quite frankly, anybody on the Broncos except for Courtland Sutton. Greg Dulcich, the Broncos’ rookie tight end, is worth adding in just about every league and can be started in deeper leagues as well, but that’s it. No one else until this offense finally figures it out.

Melvin Gordon Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile

Houston Texans (+7) vs Las Vegas Raiders

Over/Under: 46

Pick ATS: Houston Texans

The Raiders’ defense ranks No. 30 against the pass according to Football Outsiders’ pass defense DVOA metric. Brandin Cooks has not been what anybody expected him to be during draft season, but this is a prime bounce-back spot coming off a bye week. He still is No. 19 in target share with a 25.9-percent piece of Houston’s pass-game pie and No. 22 in target rate (26.4-percent). He’s going up against Amik Robertson who ranks No. 64 in PlayerProfiler’s cornerback rankings. Cooks has only two double-digit games in PPR formats this season, but he should make this week a third. Nico Collins and his 15.1 average depth of target (No. 11) is a worthwhile upside bet filling in for bye weeks too.

Brandin Cooks Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile

Seattle Seahawks (+5) vs Los Angeles Chargers

Over/Under: 50.5

Pick ATS: Seattle Seahawks

The Seahawks’ offensive DVOA rests at No. 4 in the NFL. The Chargers rank No. 12 according to Football Outsiders. The Seahawks’ defense, however, ranks No. 22. However, that rank is buoyed by the Seahawks holding the Arizona Cardinals to nine points. Only two teams have failed to score more than 20 points against the Seahawks: the Cardinals and Denver Broncos. Yes, offensive gurus Kliff Kingsbury and Nathaniel Hackett could not crack the code of Seattle’s rebuilding defense. Outside of those two games, Seattle has given up at least 27 points in every other game and has averaged 34.5 points allowed.

Now, they take on Justin Herbert, Austin Ekeler, Mike Williams, Gerald Everett, and potentially Keenan Allen. I know the Chargers’ offense didn’t look great against the Broncos, but I’m expecting a bounceback. Scoring has been down in the NFL this season, but three of Seattle’s last four games have hit the over amidst the Geno Smith renaissance. I think this over hits as well. I also think any Seahawk or Charger needs to be started. Smith, Kenneth Walker, D.K. Metcalf, Tyler Lockett, and all the aforementioned Chargers. Start them all.

Justin Herbert Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile

Kansas City Chiefs (-2.5) vs San Francisco 49ers

Over/Under: 48.5

Pick ATS: Kansas City Chiefs

Remember when every fantasy analyst in the world told you to sell high on Clyde Edwards-Helaire? Hopefully, you did. Without the touchdowns, or the random big play or two he normally doesn’t provide, Clyde has been a ginormous dud for fantasy. If there were a more extreme way of saying ‘falling back to Earth,’ that’s what Clyde has done the last two weeks. After scoring in double-digits the first four weeks, he hasn’t met or exceeded double-digits the last two weeks combined. He’s out-snapped Jerick McKinnon once in six weeks. Though last week was the first time he didn’t accumulate at least ten touches in a game, he’s only exceeded ten carries once in six weeks. He’s a boom-or-bust flex option every week, nothing more. Against the No. 1 run defense according to Football Outsiders’ run defense DVOA metric? I’ll pass. Sit him.

Clyde Edwards-Helaire Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile

Pittsburgh Steelers (+7) vs Miami Dolphins

Over/Under: 45.5

Pick ATS: Pittsburgh Steelers

Kenny Pickett is my favorite QB streamer this week for those without Josh Allen or Jalen Hurts. Yes, he first needs to pass concussion protocol, but if he does (he practiced fully on Wednesday and Thursday), it’s hard not to like this matchup. The Dolphins rank second-to-last in pass defense DVOA. Quarterbacks have averaged 18.5 points per game against the Dolphins. That includes Mac Jones scoring just 8.52 points and *excludes* the 20.9 points Lamar Jackson scored on the ground against the Dolphins. Pickett is completing 66-percent of his passes and ranks No. 5 among quarterbacks in deep ball completion percentage (50-percent), No. 2 in pressured completion percentage (54.5-percent), and No. 8 in play-action completion percentage (69.2-percent). His receiving corps is impeccable. The Dolphins’ secondary is still banged up. Pickett has 4.73 wheels and adds mobility as well. You can do a lot worse than Kenny Pickett this week.

Kenny Pickett Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile

Chicago Bears (+9) vs New England Patriots

Over/Under: 40

Pick ATS: Chicago Bears

Justin Fields is another quarterback you can play. Yes, Bill Belichick totally stifles young quarterbacks, but it might not matter for fantasy with Fields’ rushing. Fields has 282 rushing yards through six weeks this season. He’s on pace for 799 yards or 47 yards per game. 47 yards has been Fields’ floor lately. Since Week 3, Fields has rushed for at least 47 yards in every game and scooted for 88 yards last week. His pace from the last four weeks comes out to 994.5 yards. The Bears don’t throw at all, but Fields’ rushing should keep him viable this week even against the mastermind Bill Belichick.

Justin Fields Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile

Bye Weeks: Buffalo Bills, Los Angeles Rams, Minnesota Vikings, Philadelphia Eagles

This is a great week to stash players on explosive offenses that might have been dropped. Here are a few:

James Cook, Buffalo Bills (rostered in 34-percent of Sleeper Leagues)

Zack Moss was inactive last week, and Cook is averaging 5.83 yards per touch this season. Unlikely he supplants Devin Singletary, but he’s a surefire fantasy starter if something happens to Singletary.

James Cook Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile

Isaiah McKenzie, Buffalo Bills (42-percent)

He’s still the starting slot receiver for a Josh Allen offense, which makes him a flex play every week.

Khalil Shakir, Buffalo Bills (5-percent)

At worst, he’s the best wide receiver handcuff in fantasy on the best offense in the NFL, and it’s more than possible he takes Isaiah McKenzie‘s job.

Khalil Shakir Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile

Van Jefferson, Los Angeles Rams (12-percent)

800 yards last year, and the Rams’ offense needs a field stretcher badly.

Kyren Williams, Los Angeles Rams (21-percent)

A faster 40-time (4.65) would’ve seen Williams drafted earlier. Williams was supposedly slated for a big role in Week 1 before spraining his ankle on special teams. Jourdan Rodrigue of The Athletic speculates that Williams ‘figures have to a big role when he’s back.’ Also, it’s worth remembering that Williams got a lot of work with the starters in training camp while Cam Akers and Darrell Henderson both were tending to hamstring injuries.

Kyren Williams Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile

KJ Osborn, Minnesota Vikings (12-percent)

Osborn is similar to Shakir, but Osborn doesn’t have Josh Allen.

Irv Smith Jr., Minnesota Vikings (42-percent)

Smith Jr. has at least four targets in every game but Week 1, where Minnesota eased him back into action. Tight end is a wasteland, but Smith will get you something every week.

Kenneth Gainwell, Philadelphia Eagles (26-percent)

At some point, the Eagles will play their version of Tony Pollard more. In the meantime, he’s still the third-down back on the best offense in the NFC.

Kenneth Gainwell Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile

Quez Watkins, Philadelphia Eagles (3-percent)

This is more so for deeper leagues, but he’s similar to McKenzie, Osborn, and Shakir with the shot of a big touchdown every week.

Philadelphia Eagles D/ST (56-percent)

I try to exclude defenses and players rostered in more than 50-percent of leagues, but here are the quarterbacks the Eagles play the next four weeks: Kenny Pickett, Davis Mills, Taylor Heinicke, and Matt Ryan. If you play in leagues with defenses and have a roster spot open, this is one scenario where it makes sense to roster multiple.