Waiver Wire Watch: Week 7 Targets

Waiver Wire Watch: Week 7 Targets

It seems like the season started yesterday, but here we are, on the precipice of the halfway mark of the fantasy regular season. And what a regular season it has been, what with all the scoring and stuff. Scoring, you say? Indeed! I dug all the way back to 1932 and found we are on pace to see the highest scoring fantasy season ever for quarterbacks. At 37.6 total PPG—I’m talking the average combined scoring for both quarterbacks in the average game—nothing else comes close. 2015 tries but falls short at 33.6 PPG, some 12% behind the current seasons’ pace. From a pure passing perspective, so no rushing stats or fumbles, the 10 best fantasy seasons for quarterbacks have all occurred the last 10 years. I’m not surprised, but it is still striking to see in print.

Have running backs enjoyed the same success? In a word, yes. Due to the limitations of Pro Football Reference, which I used for both the quarterback data and the data just below, I turned to my personal database, which goes back to 2006. That’s really all the info we need, as running backs (almost) mirror quarterbacks, increasing their fantasy output nearly every season the last 13 years. This leaves 2018 as king, with it playing host to a robust 50.2 PPR PPG. 2008 comes close, checking in at 48.7.

As expected, PPR leagues are benefitting greatly from all the passes being tossed around: running backs are averaging 11 catches per game, a full half a reception more than 2015’s previous high-water mark of 10.5. Thankfully, all this pass game work is keeping the position afloat. When you look purely at rushing numbers, 1950’s all-time-best 46.5 PPG crushes 2018’s 11th worst per-game figure of 31.

When we lump running backs in with wide receivers, tight ends and anybody else to snag a ball out of the air, we reach an utterly jaw-dropping total of 124.2 PPG. That blows a second-best 2015 (116.04) out of the water.  

This truly is a special time to be a fantasy owner.

As interesting as all that may be, unless we act on the info, it’s not all that useful. Fortunately, the reaction we should be having is obvious: it’s time to adjust our expectations of what constitutes a QB1, WR3 and everything in-between, above and below. That sounds easy enough, but unless you are consciously rewiring how you view a 10 PPG wide receiver or 17 PPG quarterback, you are doing yourself, and your roster, a disservice.

With all that said, let’s talk waivers, shall we? For the first time this year, we are missing four teams. Three of them, the Packers, Steelers and Seahawks, feature rosters with a plethora of weekly fantasy starts. Even the vacationing Raiders has a few players many owners rely on. Waivers are as important this week as they have been all year.

As usual, a bit of housekeeping to get us started:

Throughout this series, we will be using PPR scoring, a $100 FAAB budget and a 50% threshold for player ownership. The intro to Week 1’s edition of Waiver Wire Watch (WWW) goes into far more detail about that. Please also use the linked sources to take a moment to familiarize yourself with Josh Hermsmeyer’s air yards and our own Schedule-Adjusted Fantasy Points Allowed (aFPA) metrics. I’m going to be using AirYards.com and aFPA more and more as the year goes on. As always, John Paulsen will edit this piece and reorder/adjust the prices as necessary.

Quarterbacks

Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens

Joe is back! After a brief hiatus from WWW, the veteran makes his triumphant return. Ignore the 23.1 total points the last two weeks and look at his Week 7 opponent. Spoiler: It’s the Saints. Spoiler number two: their pass defense is bad, ranking among the five best matchups according to aFPA. Fire up Flacco as a borderline QB1 for this week only.

C.J. Beathard, San Francisco 49ers

I am a little shocked to be writing about Beathard this week. I don't know how to avoid it, though, what with his 18.8 PPG on the season. To give you some perspective, Andy Dalton is at 18.7 PPG and currently occupies the number 13 slot in quarterback scoring. OK, look...I don't think Beathard is a borderline QB1, but I do think his coach is a genius. I also think he has underrated weapons around him and should have opportunity aplenty considering how bad the 49ers defense is. This week they face a Rams team that has been a decidedly middle of the pack opponent for opposing passing games. Beathard should be a solid, high-volume QB2.

Still Worth a Look

Baker Mayfield may not be lighting fantasy scoreboards on fire just yet, but he gets an insanely good matchup this week, as the Buccaneers are allowing a positively absurd 28.1 PPG to quarterbacks. The game opened at lofty 48.5 point total in Vegas, so be prepared for a shootout.

Has Mitch Trubisky arrived? A game after he led NFL quarterbacks in fantasy scoring by tossing six touchdowns, he was the fourth highest Week 6 scorer at the position as of Monday morning. His 316 yards and three touchdowns through the air were supplemented by 47 rushing yards, bringing him up to 164 on the season, good for the fifth highest total among quarterbacks. Week 7 brings the Patriots, who are allowing the 10th most points to quarterbacks this season.

Blake Bortles is not a great NFL quarterback and lost a bit of fantasy steam this past Sunday by scoring only 10.2 points. That marks the third time this season Bortles has failed to top the 13.2 point mark. Of course, in his other three games, he has averaged 25.8. Your guess is as good as mine which Bortles shows up against the Texans this week, but do keep in mind he has one of the highest ceilings among quarterbacks you’re likely to find on the wire.

Missed the Cut

I’m not overly tempted by Dak Prescott’s (32% owned) 29.5-point Week 6. He failed to reach the 30-attempt threshold for the fifth time in six games, limiting his upside in weeks he doesn’t manage to score 14.2 points with his feet. So, like, all the rest of them.

Case Keenum (20% owned) had his second straight strong fantasy outing on Sunday. I didn’t see much of the game personally, but reports are he played poorly, something he also did Week 5. On a short week against an Arizona team that’s been especially stingy to opposing quarterbacks, Keenum isn’t a guy I’d want to start unless I was desperate.

Running Backs

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