Week 7 fantasy sleeper candidates and guys who could exceed expectations

This strategy gave us Brandin Cooks and Lamar Miller, among others, a week ago, and Tyler Loechner has more breakout ideas.

| 8 months ago
(Ronald C. Modra/Sports Imagery/ Getty Images)

(Ronald C. Modra/Sports Imagery/ Getty Images)

Week 7 fantasy sleeper candidates and guys who could exceed expectations

Tapping into the unique fantasy points per opportunity data we have here at PFF to find players who have the potential to break out on a weekly basis has proven useful. Last week’s article, for example, highlighted Brandin Cooks and Lamar Miller as breakout candidates. Cooks and Miller subsequently finished third and fourth at their respective positions in fantasy points last week.

An opportunity is defined as a rush attempt or a pass route run, so PPO is calculated by dividing total points scored by carries plus routes run. This stat can help you uncover which players are too reliant on volume, and which players could become fantasy studs if they get more opportunities.

We’ll once again try to identify players who have a great opportunity to break out in Week 7. Below are some of the players who have been making the most of their opportunities or who have great matchups.

Wide receivers

Allen Robinson, Jacksonville Jaguars

Robinson currently ranks 30th among receivers in terms of fantasy points scored, which is certainly making owners who took him in the second round unhappy. Three touchdowns in the past three games have been nice, but the fact remains that Robinson is averaging just 57 yards per game.

That could change in a big way in Week 7 against the Oakland Raiders, who have given up the most fantasy PPO to opposing wideouts so far this season. If Robinson sees double-digit targets — which has happened three times in five games this year — he could have a monstrous game.

Mike Evans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Evans has been breaking out all year long — he has scored in four of five games, and he’s averaging just under 90 yards per game — but his best performance yet could come in Week 7 against the San Francisco 49ers, who have given up the ninth-most PPO to wideouts this year.

Additionally, Evans had already been commanding over 30 percent of Tampa Bay’s targets, and that number could rise now that Vincent Jackson — who had seen 15 percent of the targets — is out. And fantasy owners can bank on at least one score from Evans this week, as the 49ers have also given up 10 touchdowns to wideouts in their past five games.

Alshon Jeffery, Chicago Bears

Jeffery is ninth among wideouts with 487 receiving yards through six games, which is actually more than Antonio Brown (486). However, Jeffery has no touchdowns. Nearly 100 other receivers (95, to be exact) have scored at least once. The only other truly notable receivers without a touchdown so far this year are John Brown and Julian Edelman.

But Jeffery can get back on the right track in Week 7 against the Green Bay Packers, who have ceded the seventh-most PPO to wideouts so far this year. The Packers have also given up eight touchdowns to wideouts in their past four games.

Running backs

Jacquizz Rodgers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

With Charles Sims in IR and Doug Martin officially out again in Week 7, Rodgers gets a dream matchup against the San Francisco 49ers, who have given up the second-most PPO to running backs this year. The 49ers have given up an insane nine rushing touchdowns to running backs over the past four games.

When filling in for Martin in Week 5, Rodgers totaled 36 touches (31 attempts and five receptions) for 129 total yards, but no touchdowns. It’s unrealistic to expect that many touches from Rodgers again in Week 7, but he does appear destined for another heavy workload. This fact, coupled with the cake matchup, makes Rodgers a definite breakout candidate.

LeGarrette Blount, New England Patriots

Tom Brady’s return to the Patriots was supposed to make Blount an afterthought, and while it certainly cut into his playing time — he’s seen about 40 percent of New England’s snaps the past two weeks, compared to about 60 percent the first four games — he has still recorded 31 attempts and scored in both Brady games. In other words, he has still been a viable RB2.

That will be the case once again in Week 7, although Blount’s ceiling this week is also impressive. The Steelers have given up the fifth-most PPO to running backs through six weeks, and with Ben Roethlisberger out for the game, there’s a chance the Patriots run away with this one, leaving plenty of time for Blount to rack up the points while putting the game away.

Duke Johnson, Cleveland Browns

I’m already on the record as a fan on Johnson’s in DFS this week, and the PPO data only reinforces my positive view of him. Johnson squares off against the Cincinnati Bengals, who have given up the seventh-most PPO to running backs so far this season, including the third-most through the air. That’s significant, given that Johnson is tied for second among all running backs with 31 targets.

Tight ends

Dennis Pitta, Baltimore Ravens

Pitta has been quietly humming along this year, and he now ranks second among all tight ends with 46 targets and 34 receptions. He has not, however, scored a touchdown, so his total points scored are meager. But Pitta’s consistent use means a big game could be coming, and it might just arrive in Week 7 against the New York Jets, who have given up the 10th-most PPO to tight ends so far this year. The Jets have also given up a touchdown to a tight end in two of their past four games.

Gary Barnidge, Cleveland Browns

Even before getting Gronk’d last week, the Cincinnati Bengals — Barnidge’s Week 7 opponent — had been weak against tight ends. In games against the New England Patriots, Dallas Cowboys, Denver Broncos and Pittsburgh Steelers, the Bengals have given up 24 receptions for 351 yards and four touchdowns to tight ends.

The Bengals “held” the Miami Dolphins and New York Jets tight ends to just one collective catch for nine yards, but then again, the Dolphins and Jets don’t really have any tight ends anyway. (Seriously, the Jets have only thrown six total passes to tight ends this season.)

Jack Doyle, Indianapolis Colts

Dwayne Allen is banged up for the Colts, so it’s now Doyle’s time to shine. He played a season-high 90.1 percent of Indianapolis’ snaps last week.

Doyle has scored 0.29 PPO so far this year, which ranks eighth among tight ends who have seen at least 15 targets. Doyle has caught 20 of 23 passes thrown his way for 204 yards and three scores, and he has a decent Week 7 matchup against the Tennessee Titans, who are a middle-of-the-pack team in terms of PPO ceded to tight ends.

Below is a chart showing the top 20 players at each position in terms of fantasy PPO scored so far this season (minimum 25 percent snaps).

2016 Season PPO Leaders (min. 25% snaps)
WR   RB   TE
Player Tm. PPO Player Tm. PPO Player Tm. PPO
Tyreek Hill KC 0.5 Mike Gillislee BUF 0.76 Austin Hooper ATL 0.81
Andre Holmes OAK 0.47 John Kuhn NO 0.71 Martellus Bennett NE 0.47
Julio Jones ATL 0.45 Damien Williams MIA 0.64 Rob Gronkowski NE 0.42
Cole Beasley DAL 0.38 Tevin Coleman ATL 0.55 Vance McDonald SF 0.41
Sammie Coates PIT 0.38 LeSean McCoy BUF 0.54 Hunter Henry SD 0.38
Danny Amendola NE 0.37 Ryan Mathews PHI 0.53 C.J. Fiedorowicz HST 0.33
Darrius Heyward-Bey PIT 0.35 Jay Ajayi MIA 0.51 Levine Toilolo ATL 0.33
Antonio Brown PIT 0.33 LeGarrette Blount NE 0.47 Greg Olsen CAR 0.32
Marvin Jones DET 0.33 Isaiah Crowell CLV 0.46 Jimmy Graham SEA 0.32
Mike Evans TB 0.33 Jalen Richard OAK 0.46 Anthony Fasano TEN 0.32
Kenny Britt LA 0.33 Ezekiel Elliott DAL 0.45 Kyle Rudolph MIN 0.3
Brian Quick LA 0.33 Terrance West BLT 0.45 Marcedes Lewis JAX 0.3
Odell Beckham Jr. NYG 0.32 David A. Johnson ARZ 0.44 Jack Doyle IND 0.29
Jordy Nelson GB 0.32 Cameron Artis-Payne CAR 0.44 Trey Burton PHI 0.28
Stefon Diggs MIN 0.32 DeMarco Murray TEN 0.42 Ed Dickson CAR 0.27
A.J. Green CIN 0.31 Devonta Freeman ATL 0.41 Nick O’Leary BUF 0.27
Kelvin Benjamin CAR 0.31 Spencer Ware KC 0.41 Delanie Walker TEN 0.26
Rishard Matthews TEN 0.31 Christine Michael SEA 0.41 Jordan Reed WAS 0.25
Cordarrelle Patterson MIN 0.31 Matthew Jones WAS 0.41 Vernon Davis WAS 0.25
Larry Fitzgerald ARZ 0.3 Robert Turbin IND 0.4 Brandon Myers TB 0.25
Michael Crabtree OAK 0.3
Cameron Meredith CHI 0.3

Tyler Loechner is a lead writer at PFF Fantasy. He has played fantasy football since 1999 and has been a part of the PFF Fantasy staff since 2010. Tyler was also previously a fantasy football featured columnist at Bleacher Report.

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