Week 7 Do Not Drop List - Don't Panic On The Pack

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This list is ordinarily exclusively about the players who are popular drop considerations from week-to-week who nevertheless have enough value to hold if you have the roster flexibility. I’m going to break format ever so slightly this week to discuss a group of players who I want to caution against selling low, and that group of players is essentially every fantasy-relevant, still-healthy Green Bay Packers. With fantasy’s number one overall scorer in 2016 Aaron Rodgers, going down with what is likely a season-ending injury, a shroud of negativity is pulled over all of the other players that ordinarily share the field with him. Selling them under these circumstances is selling them at what I believe is their absolute lowest value.

As a Redskins fan, I got my first look at third-year pro Brett Hundley in 2017 in the Preseason Week 2 contest between Green Bay and Washington, in what was an absolutely miserable performance by the Redskins starters. They logged three consecutive three-and-outs on offense and were compelled to leave their starters in the game for the entire first half. Aaron Rodgers and the Pack, however, were in midseason form, taking their first possession 75 yards on 17 plays for a touchdown, earning Rodgers an early exit from the exhibition contest. This cleared the way for a big dose of Brett Hundley against the Redskins starting defense. Although he was sacked on the way to a three and out on his first opportunity, he impressively went 4 for 4 on a seven-play, 73-yard touchdown drive on his next chance. In all, Hundley went 9/10 for 107 yards and a TD on the afternoon. For the entire preseason, Hundley went 48/76 for 482 yards, three passing TDs, one interception, and a pair of rushing scores.

The perception in fantasy land is likely to be that the Packers offense will quickly and conclusively descend to dumpster fire status. This is because all most people have seen of Hundley is his three-pick day against a tough Minnesota defense in a game that he did not prepare to start. Fantasy owners routinely underestimate guys like Hundley. He’s not an Aaron Rodgers substitute, but Jacoby Brissett isn’t an Andrew Luck substitute either. I expect Hundley to be better than you think. If the Packers offense is a house on fire, there still might be valuable assets to pull from the flames.

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Do Not Sell Low - Green Bay Packers

Jordy Nelson, Wide Receiver

There’s no doubt that losing Rodgers has severely diminished his expected fantasy output over the rest of the season. His rapport with Rodgers is well documented. Last time his quarterback missed significant time with a collarbone injury, Jordy’s production was essentially cut in half. The hyenas who will come to buy him off of you will likely play up that narrative. Don’t let them- at least not until we see what the Hundley to Nelson connection looks like.

Davante Adams, Wide Receiver

It’s probably more of a gut call than anything else, but I really liked the ‘streetball’ element of the lone TD pass that Hundley threw on Sunday, on a bit of a broken play to Adams. I was an Adams doubter coming into 2017, but he has proven me wrong with Rodgers at the helm. I’m not going to bet against him playing above expectations with Hundley under center.

Randall Cobb, Wide Receiver

I’m less optimistic about Cobb with Hundley under center than I am about the other two, but Cobb is still too valuable to cut loose in an effort to be ahead of the curve. He runs a TE-esque route tree and could be an effective safety valve for a young QB. I’m betting on him to play the role of Hundley’s safety valve receiver instead of Martellus Bennett, who I think drops to the streamer class at TE.

Ty Montgomery, Running Back

Nursing broken ribs, and having just missed a TD in Sunday’s loss, the box score leaves much to be desired. It’s worth considering the possibility that Montgomery’s unique skill set can only fully be unleashed by Aaron Rodgers, but nonetheless there are so many factors that have conspired to drive his stock down to the basement, that it’s just the wrong time to sell.

Aaron Jones, Running Back

In a suddenly, presumably far less explosive offense, the presumptive backup running back is probably going to be a cut candidate for a lot of teams. I actually think this is a strong ‘hold’ situation. As I mentioned with Montgomery, the connection that Rodgers had with a running back so adept at pass-catching is likely going to be impossible for Hundley to approximate. Though the offense figures to be less efficient under Hundley, there’s a chance the backfield volume distribution is reevaluated going forward. Playing within Hundley’s skill set could mean a greater proportion of snaps for the more traditional RB as opposed to the converted WR. It already pretty safely figures to be a more conservative offense in general. I’m still very excited about Aaron Jones.

While I’ve done my best to argue the strongest case to keep all of these Packers assets on your roster in a vacuum, my final point, intentionally omitted from the above, is that the Packers have a home date against a Saints team that is coming off of an absolute marathon 52-38 win over the Lions that seemed to last six hours. While the Saints have been much better on defense in their last two games than the absolute sieve we’ve grown accustomed to seeing, the situation is ripe enough for Hundley, with a full week of preparation as the starter, to give you a representative look at what this offense might be going forward. Even if I’m going to sell my Packers eventually, I’m not doing so until I see this Week 7 matchup.

 

Do Not Cut - Quarterbacks

Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons

I admit it looks bad. I concede that quarterback is the deepest position in fantasy. No doubt there are fantasy owners out there who have made up their minds that Matt Ryan is no longer a must-hold. They might not even be wrong. Fortunately enough, however, Ryan gets the reeling Patriots defense in Week 7, currently giving up the most points to the quarterback position. It’s a get right spot for fantasy’s #2 overall quarterback from a season ago. If Ryan still can’t make it happen against New England, we can think about pressing the panic button. I expect we’ll have a different outlook on Matt Ryan coming out of this Super Bowl rematch than we did going in.

 

Do Not Cut - Running Backs

Mike Gillislee, New England Patriots

It is easy to see the writing on the wall with Gillislee. He isn’t used in the passing game. He isn’t getting the kind of snaps you want to see from a “starting” running back. He hasn’t scored a touchdown since Week 2. With a lost fumble in Week 6 against the Jets, he landed in the doghouse and subsequently surrendered his goal line work to Dion Lewis. These are all pretty good reasons to be down on Gillislee, yet when this New England team is right, positive game script is a staple in the second half of games. I’m not assuming that Dion Lewis’s ascension to 'big back' duties is a permanent change. I’m still betting on Gillislee playing the LeGarrette Blount role for the bulk of the season’s second half and I seriously doubt we’ve seen his last multi-TD game of 2017.

Andre Ellington (PPR Only), Arizona Cardinals

I think it’s easy to see what Adrian Peterson did for the Cardinals this week and imagine that he’s going to simply seize every bit of workload available until the return of David Johnson. The important thing to remember, though, is that Arizona jumped out to a massive lead in the first half of this game and the team was never chasing points. The workload of a satellite/third down/receiving back is one that is vulnerable to game script. Ellington had been too productive to this point to simply assume that he’s going to be shut out going forward. This was a bad one game sample, but Ellington averaged almost 16 PPR points per contest in his previous three. I’m not letting go just yet.

 

Do Not Cut - Wide Receivers

Terrelle Pryor, Washington Redskins

On the merits of his play thus far, I can understand kicking Pryor to the curb. If he had been drafted in the 12th round or picked up as a free agent, the cut almost certainly would have happened weeks ago. I know I’m not going to talk anyone in a 10-team league into holding tight with Pryor. The case that I’m going to make is simply that Kirk Cousins is playing really good football right now, but he’s doing so without getting essentially anything out of the wide receiver position. The season high for a Redskins WR in receiving yards through five games is Pryor’s 70 yard effort in Week 1. Until I see Pryor’s snaps legitimately threatened by the other WRs on the Redskins roster, I’m not bumping him from my overall top 50 WRs going forward. I understand that in a certain depth of league this is far too faint of praise to be an adequate argument for keeping him on your roster, but the barometer I’m using is that there are a couple of leagues I’m playing in where I’d be excited to pounce if I see him dropped. I’m sticking to my tepid endorsement.

Cooper Kupp, Los Angeles Rams

It’s been an up and down season for the rookie. Admittedly, his outlook inspired a lot more optimism in the early part of the season with the Rams scoring 35.5 points per game as a team through their first four games. Kupp managed two games of at least 60 yards and a TD during that span, but has since caught just five balls for 79 total yards over his last two. It might be that the Rams were unsustainably hot, played a handful of especially favorable matchups, or that Jared Goff has simply regressed, but I am choosing to place a vote of confidence in Sean McVay and believe that the early success that the Rams enjoyed on offense was not a fluke. There’s a very good chance that this week against the Cardinals, who just surrendered 300 yards and three touchdowns to Ryan Fitzpatrick, and are allowing the fifth most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers, is a spot where Kupp tops double digits in standard formats for the third time this year.

 

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