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Fantasy Football Risers and Fallers - Week 7

Whether due to their own play, the play of others, or injuries, players' stock increases and decreases on a weekly basis. Perhaps more than any other, the NFL is a league that experiences ups and downs at a rapid pace. With only 16 games, there’s little room for error and seemingly endless opportunities for improvement. The same goes for fantasy football; managing rosters effectively is key to winning that championship.

Throughout the season, players get hot and see an increased role while others struggle and fight to stay relevant. Experienced fantasy players know this happens every year. In this weekly column, we’ll showcase those who have taken important steps forward and those who have taken steps back.

These are the key risers and fallers heading into Week 6 of the NFL season.

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Week 7 Risers

Kyler Murray (QB, ARI)

At the risk of overreacting to what happens against the laughably bad Falcons' defense, it might be happening with Kyler Murray. He has looked much more composed over the past two weeks and is quietly up to QB7 on the season. Murray's lowest output has been 16 fantasy points, which gives up, not unexpectedly, arguably the highest floor among fantasy quarterbacks. Weeks 9 and 11 against the 49ers are the only blips on an otherwise extremely favorable rest of season schedule. We knew he'd be a QB1 because of the rushing floor, but we may be on the verge of Kyler Murray: elite QB1.

Hunter Henry (TE, LAC)

"Has a shot to return." "Will be limited." "Catches eight of nine targets for 100 yards and two touchdowns." Well, that escalated quickly. Hunter Henry stormed back into action and looked completely dominant. While he's not going to score two touchdowns every week, Henry sure looks like a top five tight end going forward, which is huge for his fantasy owners that stuck with him given the decrepit state of the position. If Henry can do that in a game where the Chargers looked like a team that had never played football before, imagine what he can do when they actually look competent?

Tyreek Hill (WR, KC)

He's baaaaaaaaaaaack. If you only looked at the box score, you would think that Tyreek Hill did typical Tyreek Hill things with a 5-80-2 line. That wasn't the case. Both of his touchdowns came with no yards after the catch and on the first one, he straight up Mossed two defenders. Hill returned and everyone else went back to being second fiddle in this passing game, including Travis Kelce. Hill is the unquestioned top target for Patrick Mahomes and you have to think better days are ahead for Mahomes, who, by his standards, has been struggling for the past couple weeks. In a season where every big seven wide receiver not named Michael Thomas has been a bust, it is a welcome sight for Hill to be a locked in top five wide receiver going forward. I know this isn't a trade column, but I would value Hill as the overall WR1 rest of season. Do with that what you will.

Stefon Diggs (WR, MIN)

How quickly things change in the NFL. Except, nothing actually changed for the Vikings. Stefon Diggs is the unquestioned WR1b on a team with only two viable pass catchers. Diggs is immensely talented. Eventually, regression was going to hit and boy did it ever. Diggs ripped off 167 yards and three touchdowns on seven receptions. The Vikings torched the Eagles. All is right with the world. Other than Week 8 against Washington, the Vikings' schedule looks to be filled with competitive games, which is good for their prospects of throwing more. Diggs is back to being a fantasy WR2.

Tevin Coleman (RB, SF)

Everything is going right for Tevin Coleman right now. He returned relatively quickly following a high ankle sprain. He looks as explosive as ever. The 49ers are currently the best team in the NFC. They have an elite defense, which keeps game script in the running backs' favor. Coleman is the unquestioned goal line back and lead back. He handled every goal line carry last week while Matt Breida saw none (which is in line with Breida's lack of usage at the goal line even when Coleman was out) and Coleman played 55% of the snaps to Breida's 36%. This is still a two man backfield and Breida is the preferred passing down back, but Coleman is the lead back in one of the best situations.

Devonta Freeman (RB, ATL)

Quietly, Devonta Freeman has been a rock solid RB2 this season. After back to back 18 fantasy point performances, Freeman finally had an elite RB1 day with 26.8 points. Freeman is still ceding goal line work to Ito Smith, but Freeman is making up for it with his receiving. He only saw three targets, but he caught all of them and scored twice. That won't happen every week, but as long as Freeman is healthy, he is a rare reliable running back in a strange 2019 season.


Week 7 Fallers

Jared Goff (QB, LAR)

I think Jared Goff just isn't that good. The 49ers have an elite defense, but it's not as if they're impenetrable. Goff seems to have a game or two like this every season where he just can't complete passes at all. Goff was in the Super Bowl last year and he threw for just 78 yards in a full game. How is that possible? I am not going to rail on Goff much harder than this: if he can't go into Atlanta and shred the Falcons' embarrassment of a pass defense, you will see him on the cut list next week.

Travis Kelce (TE, KC)

It is long past time for Travis Kelce to appear here. He was largely drafted at the 1/2 turn to be a WR1 at the tight end position. Anything less than that makes him a bust. Kelce has been a good tight end, but nowhere near worth a top pick. The targeting is there, but that's about it. Kelce has one touchdown through over a third of the season. He's topped 100 yards receiving just once. For context, at this point last season, Kelce had three 100 yard games and three touchdowns. You're never benching Kelce, but he's not this elite difference maker at the position he was drafted to be.

JuJu Smith-Schuster (WR, PIT)

It can't get much worse than one catch for seven yards (although Week 5 Mike Evans would beg to differ). JuJu Smith-Schuster does have some hope with Mason Rudolph returning after their Week 7 bye, but he was drafted to be a mid-low WR1 with overall WR1 upside. I saw more than one person predict JuJu would be the highest scoring fantasy receiver. At this point, he's not even a must start. He's consistently put up low WR2 numbers with two mega duds mixed in and two of his WR2 weeks were bolstered by a fluky splash play. JuJu has gone from WR1 to "should I even start him?"

Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler (RBs, LAC)

Before Melvin Gordon ended his holdout (back when the Chargers were actually a good offense), Austin Ekeler was an RB1. With Gordon back, we have two RB3s. Gordon is nowhere near reclaiming his old job. This is a timeshare. Gordon had 21 touches to Ekeler's eight, but the snap count was 60% Gordon, 45% Ekeler. They are splitting snaps and with Gordon's pathetic play, it is difficult to envision him pushing Ekeler down any more. Those who gambled on Gordon in the fourth or fifth round were smiling ear to ear when he returned way sooner than expected, but so far, Gordon has barely been worth a flex play.

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