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Fantasy power rankings: This is no ordinary Joe

Week 7’s highest projected scoring game comes in a meeting between two of the best teams in the AFC. The Chiefs got their first loss of the season last week against New England, but not for lack of trying. They came roaring back after a slow start and only lost by a late field goal. The Bengals have two troubling losses to good teams this year in Carolina and Pittsburgh but are good enough on offense to hang with anyone. The two will meet up in an “everyone in the pool” -style game for fantasy football.

Joe Mixon has good odds to finish as the top-scoring back in Week 7. A week after Sony Michel trampled them, the Chiefs run defense will have to contend with Mixon, and his 11 targets and 85 percent share of his team’s rush attempts over the last two games. Mixon is operating on a true workhorse level right now, locked-in RB1 usage. With his workload secure, he’ll run through a defense that allows 5.32 yards per carry and the second-most catches (46) to running backs.

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Joe Mixon has every ingredient to mix up a top-scroing RB1 line in Week 7 (AP Photo/Frank Victores)

The Chiefs middle of the field defense could also be exploited by C.J. Uzomah. The Bengals clear starter at tight end, he ranked fifth at the position in total air yards last week (68) and third in routes run (38) while taking 65.8 percent of his snaps in the slot. He’s a TE1 play this week against a Chiefs team allowing the most yards (550) to the position.

2. New York Giants (1-5) at Atlanta Falcons (2-4)

A meeting of two poor teams with subpar defenses but loaded skill-position spots is the perfect melting pot for fantasy success. The Falcons can be trusted at home to make bank. They’ve cleared 30 points in each of their four games in Atlanta. The Giants offense is not at all in the circle of trust but the Falcons defense is so poor, it should allow the unit to look more like the group that finally amassed 30 points for the first time since 2015 just weeks ago. Even secondary players like Evan Engram (set to return) and Sterling Shepard should find success in this potential shootout.

adjusted line yards and top-8 in quarterback hits allowed. However, the Falcons don’t provide much pass rush and cede 4.51 yards per carry and an NFL-high 53 catches to running backs.

Ito Smith is clearly in focus as a flex play. He is legitimately good and makes defenders miss. He has three touchdowns in as many weeks and continues to show why the team wants him to have a place in the backfield with Devonta Freeman now on IR. Tevin Coleman has not really added much to his touches, falling under 3.7 yards per carry in every game since Week 3. He’s never too much of a threat for passing game work either, as he’s had four catches or fewer in all games this season. The Giants have allowed nine total touchdowns to running backs this season, tied with the Chiefs for second-most in the NFL.

3. Cleveland Browns (2-3-1) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-3)

18 percent over expectation against Atlanta, per Next Gen Stats; the best among Week 6 passers. His viability keeps the offense afloat but he also spreads the ball around. Nine players caught a pass and no one saw double-digit targets.

The Buccaneers have allowed nearly every wideout they’ve faced to slice them up and down the field this season. No receiver needs a slump-buster more than Jarvis Landry. He has not cleared 70 yards in any of Baker Mayfield’s three starts despite seeing 10 targets in each contest. Landry still ranks top-10 with a 27 percent share of his team’s targets. Positive regression should hit this week in Tampa and Landy makes for a fine buy-low and DFS contrarian play.

4. Los Angeles Rams (6-0) at San Francisco 49ers (1-5)

explosive pass play rate allowed. The team has fatal flaws defensively amid injuries in the secondary.

With slot maven Cooper Kupp set to miss a few weeks, Robert Woods will slide inside to replace him for the time being. That will bring Josh Reynolds into the starting mix at right wideout. Woods will get a juicy matchup with the non-Richard Sherman defenders in the 49ers secondary. Teams have completely avoided the future Hall of Famer at left corner this season. Sherman has been targeted on just eight percent of his routes covered, the lowest rate among all cornerbacks. With Reynolds likely doing battle with Sherman, he is a risky deep sleeper play. Woods could be in line for one of his best games of the season as a primary slot receiver, while Brandin Cooks at left wideout could torch Ahkello Witherspoon.

5. Chicago Bears (3-2) at New England Patriots (4-2)

The Bears are 2.5-point home dogs against the Patriots despite showing offensive firepower in each of their last two games. New England has found their groove again, crushing the Dolphins and Colts before handing the high-flying Chiefs their first loss. Chicago being spotted less than a field goal shows the respect they’ve earned this year. What will be interesting is whether the Bears continue with a spread offense based around Tarik Cohen or try to control the clock with Jordan Howard. The last two weeks it’s been all the latter.

Cohen leads all running backs to have played three-plus games this year with 18.2 percent of his snaps taken in the slot. He’s also been targeted on 28 percent of his overall routes run this year. Howard has been, whether by design or by circumstance, not much of a factor with 25 carries and no catches in the Bears last two games. Allen Robinson was downgraded to a DNP at practice on Thursday and his availability would impact the Bears options when trying to spread the field. This game should get high-scoring and potentially push its total, which dropped slightly from the 50 it opened up as.

6. New Orleans Saints (4-1) at Baltimore Ravens (4-2)

The Saints have rattled off four straight wins since getting upset by the Bucs in Week 1. The Ravens let the division-rival Bengals and Browns get the best of them in two contests, but have otherwise looked like a true contender in the AFC. We get your classic defense vs. offense matchup in this spot. The Ravens are No. 2 in adjusted sack rate this year, allow the second-fewest passing yards per game and give up a league-low 73.1 passer rating. You can’t run on them either, as they give up just 3.58 yards per carry and the fewest (85.5) total yards to running backs. With the Saints outside of the dome, it will take the best possible effort from their star players to secure this one.

Two factors should help Drew Brees and company: using Michael Thomas in the slot and Alvin Kamara as an outlet receiver. Thomas already leads the NFL by seeing a target on 33.9 percent of his routes run from the slot. Lining up there would put him in the crosshairs of Tavon Young, who is the lone Ravens corner to allow a passer rating north of 89 (119.3) this year. Despite his one-week blip and a bye, Kamara still ranks seventh in the NFL in routes run and third in receiving yards among running backs.

Following the targets and air yards volume didn’t lead to fantasy success with John Brown last week, as the positive regression truck backed up for his teammate Michael Crabtree instead. However, Brown’s bounce back game could come in this spot after just 6-81 over his last two games. As the Ravens primary right wide receiver, Brown will run most of his routes against Ken Crawley, who has been one of the worst corners in the NFL this season. Teams have dunked on Crawley to the tune of 15.4 yards per catch, four touchdowns and a 141.7 passer rating, per PFF.

7. Carolina Panthers (3-2) at Philadelphia Eagles (3-3)

The Panthers travel farther up the east coast one week after a bad road loss to Washington. Carolina barely escaped losing to the Giants back in Week 5, so it’s fair to wonder just how good this team really is. Their biggest issue in Week 6 was getting down early, as a fumbled punt by D.J. Moore and some mashing Adrian Peterson-runs led to two quick-strike passing touchdowns from Alex Smith and a 14-0 deficit. The Panthers have been run-heavy this year and haven’t shown the stripes of a team that can play well from behind. How the script of this contest unfolds will be dictated by who wins the battle up front.

expected completion percentage is 62.8 percent which is up from prior seasons (league-low 54.6 percent in 2016) but is still eighth-lowest in the NFL this year. However, unlike previous years, he’s outperforming it by 3.1 percent (sixth-best among QBs). Carolina has the skeleton of a good pass game but they need big plays. Week 7 presents a solid opportunity for them to chase such plays. The Eagles rank 20th in allowing explosive passing plays and have bled production to wideouts, giving up the second-most yards (1,197) and most receptions (96) to the position. Not only should Devin Funchess be in position to have a big game but please, Carolina, let your exciting young receivers play. The Panthers stuck with D.J. Moore through two costly mistakes last week, using him on 45 percent of the snaps but they rolled out Curtis Samuel on a measly three plays after a strong Week 5 showing. That needs to change.

8. Tennessee Titans (3-3) “at” Los Angeles Chargers (4-2)

Corey Davis has the volume of a WR1 but plays in a far too dysfunctional of an offense to be considered as anything more than a possible WR3 option. His 39 percent share of his team’s air yards is fifth-highest among wide receivers and his 30 percent target share is fourth-highest. With a non-functional quarterback and broken offensive environment, Davis just can’t consistently turn that into production. He’ll likely draw shadow coverage from Casey Hayward, who is beginning to turn his 2018 season around. Hayward allows a 130.1 passer rating into his coverage, well north of the 53.4 and 58.6 marks that made him a Pro Bowler in his first two seasons with the Chargers. However, over the last two weeks, he’s shadowed Amari Cooper and Antonio Callaway and allowed a measly three catches for 19 yards. He might just be back.

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Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers is playing some of the best football at the position this year. (AP Photo/David Richard)

9. Minnesota Vikings (3-2-1) at New York Jets (3-3)

The Jets welcome the Vikings here in Week 7 and are getting 3.5 points at home. New York dropped 42 on the Colts last week on the back of Sam Darnold’s best game of 2018. He figures to slow down against a Vikings pass defense that has allowed fewer than 290 passing yards to every opponent outside of the Rams TNF eruption against them.

explosive pass rate allowed. If their defense continues to duffer lapses in the vertical game, Darnold could keep up his hot streak.

10. Detroit Lions (2-3) at Miami Dolphins (4-2)

Not only is does this game come with the seventh-highest total of the week at 47 points, the Dolphins are getting a mere 2.5 points at home to the Lions. Of course, the record-gap here keeps the game close, but Vegas also appears to be buying into Brock Osweiler as a non-disaster replacement. The veteran came in last week and posted 380 and three scores with a pair of picks. That looks nice but it’s worth noting that 268 of his passing yards came after the catch against the Bears. Those big plays will be tough to replicate. While Detroit doesn’t have a great record, they’ve flashed on both sides of the ball. They really came on defensively as they inched toward their bye and the team leads the NFL with a 10.9 adjusted sack rate. If the team brings that heat to Miami, Osweiler could easily turn back into a pumpkin.

Both backfields will be in focus. Kerryon Johnson needs to be the Lions clear do-it-all lead back, ranking eighth in the NFL in rushing success rate among backs with 40 plus carries. Unlike the other two members of his backfield, he can contribute in both the run and pass game, so he’s not a total tipoff to the defense. The Dolphins have been run on 177 times this year, fourth-most in the NFL.

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Kerryon Johnson should be the Lions lead back — the question is, will he be? (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

Frank ripped off a 100-yard effort against the Chicago Bears vaunted defense in Week 6 and has actually been sneaky good all season. According to Sharp Football Stats, Frank Gore actually ranks No. 3 just behind Todd Gurley in rushing success rate in 2018. Gore should lead the team in carries against a Lions team that allows the third-highest yards per carry figure this year at 5.2 a pop. At the other end, Kenyan Drake has started to see steady passing game work, earning 17 targets and running 54 routes over his last two games. Drake is a volatile flex play but the Lions allow 10 yards per catch to running backs.

11. Houston Texans (3-3) at Jacksonville Jaguars (3-3)

T.J. Yeldon’s carries have been on the decline in each of his last three games but he’s still running well, averaging over five yards per carry in his last two. The issue has been game scripts, as Jacksonville has lost their last two contests by a combined 49 points. Yeldon’s receiving work offers a pretty solid floor to count on, as he’s averaged 5 catches for 48 yards dating back to Week 3. With Jacksonville a five-point favorite over a broken Houston team, he has good odds at a 100-total yard effort here in Week 7.

12. Buffalo Bills (2-4) at Indianapolis Colts (1-5)

13. Dallas Cowboys (3-3) at Washington Redskins (3-2)

Washington currently sits atop the NFC East with a .600-win percentage, while Dallas is tied with Philadelphia at 3-3. Neither of these teams is a proven entity just yet but both come into Week 7 off resounding wins over Carolina and Jacksonville. These division rivals approach playing offense quite similarly. Dallas and Washington are two of the slowest teams, ranking bottom-eight in pace (seconds per play). Washington ranks 24th in pass play percentage (55.8 percent) and Dallas ranks 31st (52.5 percent). This game opened with the second-lowest total (42) of Week 7, which seems like a safe bet, and it might be done in two and a half hours. Don’t go chasing too many big offensive performances in this spot, despite some solid numbers from each passing game in Week 6.

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