Week 7 in the NFL is already upon us as the season flies by at an exciting pace on the field and on FanDuel. Player prices continue to shift as performance data streams in each week, with 41 players rising or falling by at least $500 in FanDuel salary from Week 6 to Week 7. The changes are particularly heavy at the defense position with eight defenses moving by at least $300 in salary from last week and with two defenses breaking the $6,000 salary mark for the first time all year. As always as the season progresses it becomes harder to find great value bargain plays, but without fail there are a handful of cheap success stories each week and this week will be no different.
This article will highlight three undervalued players and one super cheap option to consider at every position this week. The list will only include players if they fall below the following salary levels by position:
QB – 3 Players under $7,000 & 1 Freebie under $6,000
RB – 3 Players under $6,000 & 1 Freebie under $5,000
WR – 3 Players under $6,000 & 1 Freebie under $5,000
TE – 3 Players under $6,000 & 1 Freebie under $5,000
K – 3 Players under $5,200
D – 3 Players under $5,200
1. Eli Manning, NYG v. MIN ($6,800) – Stop the presses, Eli Manning is the number one bargain quarterback in Week 7. Sure Eli is having a truly dismal season with nine touchdowns against an unfathomable 15 interceptions through six games, also being sacked 16 times and losing two fumbles. And sure, the Giants’ quarterback is on pace to throw 40 interceptions and lead his team to a winless record this year. But, despite all of that Eli is currently fifth in the NFL in passing yards and 10th in passing touchdowns. Popularity, or lack thereof, is an important characteristic to look beyond when building a FanDuel lineup, particularly in the case of Manning. After all, it’s not the name that generates fantasy points, it’s the stats that the player accumulates on the field. And this week Eli should have no problem racking up plenty of points to make him a bargain at his price against the middling Minnesota Vikings secondary, which has allowed 13 passing touchdowns against seven interceptions and 10 sacks. Even if he does add to his monumental interception total, it’s hard to believe that the G-men won’t be serving up some salsa in the end zone in Week 7.
2. Alex Smith, KC v. HOU ($6,300) – Smith was a huge bust in Week 6 for many FanDuel users, including myself, as he managed to complete just 45.2% of his passes for a measly 128 yards and no touchdowns against an uninspiring Oakland defense. Aside from the inefficient completion rate, it’s safe to blame Jamaal Charles and the KC defense for much of Smith’s invisible stat line as they both made it unnecessary for Smith to air it out with any regularity or importance. Still, Smith did manage 29 more rushing yards and surpassed his previous career high with a respectable 190 rushing yards on the season. Couple that with the fact that Smith is unlikely to have another game that bad all year, and his continually low FanDuel salary, and you’ve got a bargain quarterback that could easily put up enough points to match pricier options in a game where the Chiefs should dominate the Texans. Another big game should be in store for Charles on the ground, but he’s also been targeted 8-10 times in the passing game each of the last five weeks and if he takes one or two of those passes into the end zone this week, Smith could end up having a very nice game.
3. Ryan Tannehill, MIA v. BUF ($6,600) – Tannehill is likely under the radar of most FanDuel users as he is coming off of a bye week, has fairly pedestrian numbers on the year, and plays for a team that has yet to really establish an offensive identity. Countering those facts are positive signs from Tannehill in his chemistry with Mike Wallace, a consistently successful connection with tight end Charles Clay, and a juicy matchup against a soft Buffalo secondary. That sounds like just the kind of sneaky play that could make Tannehill a factor in tournament lineups. His season stats aren’t much to look at, but considering he’s already had his bye week, the 1,383 yards for six touchdowns and five interceptions are a bit misleading. This is the easiest matchup Tannehill has had yet this season and although his upside is more limited than some of the high-priced QBs, there’s a good chance he will deliver a solid game for his price against the banged up Bills.
Freebie: Josh Freeman, MIN @ NYG ($5,000) – Freeman gets a gift of a matchup in what will be his first start for his new team. The fact that the Giants’ defense is criminally deficient is no breaking news, but the numbers show just how bad they’ve really been. Through six weeks, the Giants have given up 14 passing touchdowns against just four interceptions and only five sacks. They’ve also allowed 209 points, which is 11 more than the Jaguars have allowed and 30 more than the next worst team in Philadelphia. The Giants managed to end their streak of allowing 30 or more points at five weeks after holding the Bears to “only” 27 in Week 6. They may be able to manage the same feat again in Week 7, but it would be surprising if the Vikings aren’t able to score at least three times against the crew that New York has been trotting out. A couple of those touchdowns could easily go to Adrian Peterson, but Freeman should be able to move the ball through the air and end up with a nice pile of points to dwarf his miniscule price.
1. Joseph Randle, DAL @ PHI ($5,500) – Randle is expected to be the starting running back for the Cowboys in Week 7 after DeMarco Murray went down with a knee injury in Week 6. Randle is a bit of an unknown commodity being a rookie who was drafted in the fifth round, but with opportunity comes fantasy points and Randle should have plenty of both against the Eagles. What Randle did with the 11 carries he got in Week 6 is pretty lackluster with just 17 yards, good for a laughable 1.5 yards per carry. But, with a week of first-team practice reps under his belt and a more defined role in the offense this week, Randle should be able to come closer to the 4.0 yards per carry that Philadelphia is allowing this year. Cowboys backs often get chances to find the end zone, as both Randle and Murray did in Week 6, and with a lot of points expected in this game there could be some good work in store for the temporary number one.
2. Brandon Jacobs, NYG v. MIN ($5,500) – Jacobs enjoyed an explosive renaissance in Week 6, racking up 106 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 22 carries. It was more than just his numbers that looked good, as the bruising back ran through dozens of tacklers and reminded fans why he was always considered so menacing in the brief stints of good health he enjoyed in past seasons. After all, this is the same guy who scored 15 touchdowns in 2008, and when he’s on the roster it’s easy to answer the question of who the Giants will look to near the goal line. Sure he’s 31 years old, but age hasn’t cost him his strength yet and as long as he remains healthy and the Giants have no other options, Jacobs should continue to be productive as he digs for extra yardage on every carry. Minnesota has been susceptible to the run, and the Giants appeared much more committed to the running game last week, which makes Jacobs look like a top cheap option in Week 7.
3. Ryan Mathews, SD @ JAC ($5,800) – Mathews has been a frustratingly inconsistent running back for some time now, but with up-and-down players it is often the matchup that can inform whether this week will be up or down. There are few juicier matchups than Jacksonville, a team that has allowed 4.8 yards per carry and seven rushing touchdowns through six weeks. The Jaguars also have a tendency to get blown out, which can result in a lot of garbage carries for opposing runners. Although Mathews has Danny Woodhead to contend with in his team’s committee, Mathews is the one coming off a 22-carry 102-yard day in Week 6, and has a good shot at getting his first rushing touchdown since October 7th, 2012.
Freebie: Zac Stacy, STL @ CAR ($4,900) – Stacy continued to see the lion’s share of carries in the St. Louis backfield and do well with them as he ran the ball 18 times for 79 yards, or 4.4 yards per carry, in Week 6 as the Rams blew out the Texans. The St. Louis defense did much of the work, meaning that aside from the three touchdowns thrown by Sam Bradford, there was little scoring done on the offensive side as the team ended up with just 117 passing yards and 99 rushing yards. Still, it was good to see Stacy get almost all the work the team did on the ground, and to see him maintain a strong average of 4.9 yards per carry so far this season. Carolina is not an easy team to run on, allowing just 3.8 yards per carry and only two rushing touchdowns this year, but Stacy is in position to produce quite nicely for his price.
1. Alshon Jeffery, CHI @ WSH ($5,900) – Jeffery followed up his amazing two-week run of 325 receiving yards and two touchdowns across Weeks 4 and 5 with a total dud in Week 6, catching just one pass on five targets for 27 yards. Little has changed, however, in Chicago to suggest there’s any reason to ignore the 24 targets Alshon received in Weeks 4 and 5, and with his price dipping back under $6,000 he is a great play this week against Washington’s porous defense. Jeffery is 19th in the league in receiving yards on the season and has been targeted the same number of times as Wes Welker and Reggie Wayne. Whether he maintains those numbers after this week depends primarily on if Jay Cutler’s favorite target in Brandon Marshall is left open or single-covered enough to dampen Jeffery’s appeal . Even if that’s the case, Washington has given up 10 passing touchdowns against just three interceptions, and there should be plenty of damage done through the air to allow multiple Bears receivers to have productive games.
2. Julian Edelman, NE @ NYJ ($5,700) – Edelman has been quiet the last two weeks as various parts of the New England offense have begun to get healthy and disrupt his early season target dominance. Still, Edelman was targeted 11 times last week and with Rob Gronkowski and Danny Amendola questionable to play in Week 7, there should be another dozen targets available for Edelman against the Jets. Tom Brady has started to develop some chemistry with Kenbrell Thompkins, but Edelman is the guy who continues to fill the void of Wes Welker, particularly in games where Amendola is unavailable. With the Jets shutting down opposing run games all year and keeping games close, Brady should be throwing quite a bit and Edelman is likely to see more of those passes come his way than any other New England receiver. I think he is also a good bet to find his way into the end zone for the first time since Week 1, making him a fantastic play at his freshly lowered price.
3. Greg Jennings, MIN @ NYG ($5,900) – Jennings has quickly disappeared into obscurity after leaving Green Bay for Minnesota, with only one useful performance so far this season. Of course it would be difficult for any receiver to remain relevant with a carousel of amateurs lobbing passes their way. Jennings has gone from catching darts from Aaron Rodgers to juggling pancakes from Christian Ponder and Matt Cassel. Now he gets to find out with the rest of us if Josh Freeman can reinvent himself overnight and once again become the quarterback that he was in 2010 and showed hints of being in 2012. I’m not sure we’ll be able to judge that after one game against a roll-over defense like the Giants, but the possibility of a big day for the new quarterback and his most well-known receiver exists in theory.
Freebie: Keenan Allen, SD @ JAC ($4,500) – Allen followed up his big game in Week 5 with an even bigger game in Week 6, running his two-week totals to 15 catches on 21 targets for 222 receiving yards and two touchdowns. Those numbers are easily enough to keep him on this bargain list for the second week in a row, particularly with his FanDuel price seemingly stuck at $4,500. That price will likely go up quite a bit next week if Allen goes for the three-peat, so this might be your last chance to get him at such a low price. All signs point to another fine day from the young Charger as the Jaguars defense offers little opposition and the San Diego offense prefers to take to the air when it comes to attacking their opponent’s end zone. As good a play as Allen was last week, I like him even more this week, as Philip Rivers should move the ball enough to keep all of his receivers involved. While San Diego could go up big early, Jacksonville has shown that with Chad Henne they can at least move the ball enough to keep their opponent from entering the victory formation at halftime. That could be particularly true against San Diego’s shabby defense, which could allow Allen to stay relevant late into the game.
1. Jermichael Finley, GB v. CLE ($5,900) – Jermichael has been on this bargain tight end list on a regular basis this year and has yet to really do much to justify his presence. That might change this week as he takes the number one bargain TE spot for the first time. Green Bay has been absolutely ravaged by injury the last couple of weeks and particularly at wide receiver, losing Randall Cobb for all or most of the rest of the season and James Jones for what looks like a week or two. That leaves Jordy Nelson and a blank space (likely to be filled by unheralded rookie Jarrett Boykin) on the Green Bay receving depth chart. With Nelson likely to be the focus of Cleveland’s capable defense, that leaves Finley as the likely recipient of the most targets he’s seen all year. There has been talk of him lining up at wide receiver this week, which could mean even more opportunities. Aaron Rodgers is coming off of a dull performance in Week 6 and is likely chomping at the bit to prove that he can deliver a strong game without his best weapons. I like Finley to see his first double-digit target game of the year and reach the end zone for the first time since Week 2.
2. Charles Clay, MIA v. BUF ($4,900) – Clay moves up from the Freebie spot on the bargain list, where he’s been spending quite a bit of time, despite his price remaining below $5,000. Aside from Finley, I think Clay is the next best tight end play under $6,000 and should have a nice game in Week 7 for the same reasons I listed for Ryan Tannehill above. Clay has gotten six or seven targets each week this season and has caught 74% of them and scored two receiving touchdowns and one rushing touchdown. Already having the best season of his career, the Miami tight end has been more consistent than most at his position, which is a nice change of pace to the huge swings seen from game to game by most tight ends. When you think about the Miami passing game there’s not a lot to get excited about, which actually helps Clay’s chances to remain involved and compete for touches in the red zone. If you want to spend at other positions, taking Clay can be a great start at building up some extra salary cap space while still fielding a player with consistency and upside.
3. Kyle Rudolph, MIN @ NYG ($5,600) – Rudolph is another guy who has made a couple of appearances on this bargain list, as there seems to be about the same pool of tight ends to choose from in the $5,000 – $6,000 range. That’s mainly due to the inconsistency displayed by tight ends in that price range as they alternate from disappointing to surprising. Well, Rudolph was a surprise in Week 6 after sleeping through the season’s first five weeks as he caught nine of 11 targets for 97 yards and a touchdown against Carolina. Many of those targets came in garbage time, so we shouldn’t get too excited about Rudolph’s newfound involvement, but it is good to see that he produced when given the opportunity. The Giants are allowing 10.8 fantasy points per game to opposing tight ends, the sixth worst mark in the league, so Rudolph has a decent shot at stringing together two good games in a row.
Freebie: Garret Graham, HOU @ KC ($4,800) – Graham was a major disappointment, along with the rest of the Texans, in a Week 6 blowout loss against the Rams. With Owen Daniels out, Graham was expected to step out of his bit role and into the spotlight as one of Matt Schaub’s primary targets. Unfortunately that didn’t go as planned, with Schaub exiting with an ankle injury and Graham catching just two of four targets for 25 yards. Not a good game by any standard, and particularly considering that Graham had scored three touchdowns in the season’s first three weeks with a much smaller role. Well, as with all players it’s important to not weigh any one game too heavily, and the same reasons I liked Graham last week are there again this week. That is except for the matchup, where the Chiefs are allowing just 2.2 fantasy points on average to opposing tight ends. It may be tough for Houston to score much at all this week, especially with Case Keenum the likely starter at QB, but passes will be thrown and Graham could get enough touches this week to earn him the value play status he hoped to achieve last week.
1. Blair Walsh, MIN @ NYG ($5,100) – Walsh comes down in price from $5,400 to $5,100 this week in time for a juicy matchup against the Giants. When it comes to choosing a kicker, it can be tough to find convincing reasons to play a particular guy. One thing that is certain is that a team that scores a lot of points will inevitably give their kicker more opportunities at either field goals or extra points than a team that doesn’t score. The Vikings aren’t exactly a powerhouse, but against the Giants they should be able to score as the rest of the league has done so easily. That makes Walsh, who is 9-10 on field goals and 2-2 from 50+ this year, a very solid play.
2. Nick Novak, SD @ JAC ($5,100) – Novak has been a pretty valuable kicker this year with double digit points in three different weeks, including last week. As with Walsh, the matchup helps here as San Diego should put up plenty of points against Jacksonville, giving Novak chances at points on a regular basis. Novak is 13-15 on field goals and 1-1 from 50+ this year, which indicates he will do well with the chances he does get.
3. Dan Bailey, DAL @ PHI ($5,000) – Bailey seems perennially destined to remain on the bargain kicker list as his price always seems to remain at $5,100 or lower despite being a solid scorer on a fairly regular basis. Bailey also has three double digit scoring games this year and has made 10-12 field goal attempts and 2-3 from 50+. Dallas often struggles at finishing the job in the red zone, which is where they should be often against Philadelphia this week, giving Bailey a good shot at another double digit game in fantasy points.
1. Minnesota Vikings, MIN @ NYG ($5,100) – There’s no two ways about it; the Vikings have been bad on defense this year. In fact, just like the Giants they have allowed at least 27 points to every team they’ve faced this year. They’re also coming off a terrible -3 fantasy point effort against the Panthers. That said, they haven’t faced the Giants yet this year. I don’t expect a shutout, or anything close to one, but even if the Giants put up 27 points there are several scenarios where Minnesota can outproduce their FanDuel price. The unreliable offensive line of the Giants has allowed 16 sacks, which should allow Minnesota to build on the 10 sacks they have already this year. The Giants have thrown a league-high 16 interceptions and there’s no reason to think Eli won’t donate a couple more to pad the Vikings’ current total of seven interceptions. And with the Giants’ only options at running back being Brandon Jacobs and Peyton Hillis, it should be possible for the Vikings to focus on defending runs up the middle and better their season average of 4.0 yards per carry.
2. Cleveland Browns, CLE @ GB ($5,000) – Cleveland has made this bargain defense list several times this year as their reputation for incompetence has kept their price deflated despite a strong start to the season for their defensive unit. Cleveland already has an impressive 19 sacks and has allowed just six passing touchdowns against five interceptions. Even more impressive has been their run defense, which has held opposing rushers to just 3.5 yards per carry, despite some issues protecting their goal line. Green Bay is not a matchup you usually want for a defense, but with their significant injuries and current flux on offense, the matchup isn’t quite as bad as it looks at first glance. The Packers have allowed Aaron Rodgers to be sacked 14 times, and with replacements running routes this week he could go down often if miscommunication and lack of familiarity become a factor.
3. New York Jets, NYJ v. NE ($5,100) – Just like Cleveland versus Green Bay, the Jets versus New England is not a matchup that would traditionally make for a good play on FanDuel. Still, with prices for almost every usable defensive unit shooting up this week, the Jets are left as the best defense priced under $5,200. With a better matchup they would have topped this list, but even against the Patriots they should be able to suppress the run and pressure the quarterback. The Jets have 20 sacks already this year and Tom Brady has gone down 16 times, numbers that indicate the mean green pass rush could be in for another fine day. The Jets do struggle at defending the pass, with 10 touchdowns allowed versus just one interception, but with several Patriots receivers banged up and the Jets allowing a league-best 3.0 yards per carry on the ground, New York’s defense has a good chance to successfully contain New England and lead their team and yours to victory on Sunday.