Fantasy Football Week 7: Thursday Night Football preview, Kenyan Drake trade rumors, Saquon Barkley's return

 cbssports.com  10/17/2019 16:47:00 

The Broncos and Chiefs are set to face off on Thursday Night Football, with the Chiefs looking to stop a two-game slide that has seen Patrick Mahomes look positively mortal. And he won't have the help of one of his best weapons in the matchup becauseSammy Watkins has been ruled out with a hamstring injury.

The injury report for the Chiefs is pretty clear otherwise, with Tyreek Hill (shoulder) and Patrick Mahomes (ankle) both practicing in full all week. Mahomes' ankle has clearly been an issue for him in recent weeks, and there have been moments where he hasn't seemed to be able to step into throws fully, something that has clearly impacted his accuracy.

The bigger issue for the Chiefs is the absence of two-fifths of the starting offensive line yet again asEric Fisher and Andrew Wylie remain out due to their injuries. Against a Broncos pass rush featuring Von Miller and Bradley Chubb and a hobbled Mahomes, that could be another impediment to getting the offense back on track  and the Vegas line for the game has dropped by 2.5 points, while the spread has moved 2.5 points in the Broncos' favor, so the bettors seem to view things pretty similarly.

On the Broncos side of things, injuries shouldn't be an issue, as they enter the game with just one player ruled out and another questionable. Not included among them are veteran wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders, who practiced in full and shouldn't be limited by his knee injury. Sanders has just one catch over the past two games, so he'll be tough to trust for Fantasy, though if the Broncos do end up chasing points, he could be in line for an increased role.

The Broncos would probably prefer not to have to rely on the passing game, of course. The Chiefs have lost the time of possession battle by pretty significant margins over the past three games, so the Broncos would love to be able to ride Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman this week. The Chiefs are allowing the sixth-most Fantasy points to opposing running backs this season, including a whopping 136.3 rushing yards per game (second only to the Dolphins), so expect Freeman and Lindsay to be the focal points for the Broncos.

Here's the rest of the news you need to know heading into the final few days of Week 7 preparation:

Kenyan Drake is on the trade block

The Dolphins have been unwilling to commit to Drake over the past few years, much to the consternation of the Fantasy community, and it looks like that relationship could be coming to an end. The Dolphins have had trade talks about Drake, according to Ian Rapoport, and would trade him if the right offer presented itself. The team has had no extension talks with Drake since training camp, and Drake reportedly would welcome a change as well.

Drake saw 61% of the team's snaps in Week 6, and that's right around where he has been all season. He had 10 carries for 40 yards and added six receptions for 30 yards in a great matchup against Washington, but for the most part the offense has prevented anyone from making much of a Fantasy impact. Drake can be a solid playmaker, especially in the passing game, but has now struggled to gain the trust of two different coaching staffs in Miami. It would be nice to see him land somewhere via trade where he can make an impact, but it's unlikely we'll see Drake turn into a Fantasy difference maker, either in Miami or elsewhere.

Saquon Barkley and Evan Engram are on track to return

It seems all but certain that Barkley and Engram will be able to play Sunday. Both were full participants in practice Wednesday, as Barkley works his way back from a three-game absence due to his high-ankle sprain, while Engram comes back from one game missed with a knee injury.

"It's gonna be good getting back out there,'' Engram told the New York Post. "I was pretty down about missing last Thursday and I'm definitely really hungry and excited about getting back out there. It's gonna be fun. I'm gonna be a kid in the candy shop again."

The candy shop should have plenty of sweets for Engram, as the Cardinals have been abysmal at defending tight ends this season. Of course, the Cardinals rank 29th in the NFL in points allowed at 28.5 per game, so they've been pretty terrible defending everyone, not just tight ends. Their high pace also allows opposing offenses more opportunities, as they have had the third-most plays run against them this season.

Assuming they avoid any kind of setback Thursday or Friday, Barkley and Engram should be locked in as must-start Fantasy options in all formats for what should be a fun game this Sunday.

The Packers WR corps is beat up

The Packers didn't actually practice Wednesday, but their participation report still listed Davante Adams (toe), Marquez Valdes-Scantling (ankle/knee), and Geronimo Allison (concussion/chest) as not having participated. The Packers decision to sign Ryan Granton Wednesday makes a lot more sense. We'll have to keep a close eye on this one, though at this point I would certainly be surprised if Adams is healthy enough to return; it still sounds like that toe is going to need more time.

In the event of the absence of one or more of these players, the most interesting option on the Packers has to be Allen Lazard, who caught four passes for 65 yards and a touchdown in his first extended playing time in Week 6. Aaron Rodgers reportedly pushed the coaching staff to get Lazard on the field, a sign that the undrafted free agent has already earned his quarterback's trust. Even when healthy, the Packers could stand to have more playmakers in the passing game, so it will be interesting to see if Lazard can become the next out-of-nowhere contributor in a Rodgers offense.

Amari Cooper was unable to practice

All signs point to Cooper being legitimately questionable for Week 7, and another sign came in the form of Cooper missing practice Wednesday. He is dealing with a bruised thigh, though thankfully no structural damage. He is considered day to day, according to coach Jason Garrett, but there aren't that many days left before the Cowboys play against the Eagleson Sunday night. Randall Cobb also sat out practice with a back injury, so Michael Gallup could be looking at another game as the focal point of the passing game, and he had just four catches for 48 yards against the Jets in Week 6 with Cooper missing much of the game.

Here's the rest of the news you need to know about:

  • Todd Gurley (quad) is making progress ... Gurley was back at practice on a limited basis Wednesday, with coach Sean McVay telling reporters he is optimistic about Gurley's chances to return to action in Week 7 against the Falcons. That would be great news for Fantasy players, because Gurley would be an obvious must-start option against a weak Falcons defense. If he cannot play, Malcolm Brown's injury means Darrell Henderson remains a must-stash option who could figure into the game plan even if Gurley plays.
  • Marquise Brown (ankle) missed practice & Brown is considered day to day, and coach John Harbaugh did tell reporters Brown will play if he is able to get back to practicing. Brown did not practice at all last week, and at this point has to be viewed as a long shot to play in Week 7 against the Seahawks.
  • A.J. Green (ankle) did not practice & It's not clear if this means Green had a setback, as he was able to practice in a limited fashion ahead of Week 6, but it's not a great sign for Green's chances of returning in Week 7. Even when Green does get back from his training camp surgery, you'll probably want to give him a week to get acclimated before starting him for Fantasy, meaning it might be a few more weeks still before you can truly trust him.
  • Devin Singletary (hamstring) practiced in full & The Bills have a dream matchup in Week 7, and it looks like Singletary will be available to take advantage. He was close to returning before the team's bye, so the extra time should put him at 100%. He'll be the backup to Frank Gore, but given that the Dolphins have allowed nine running backs to score double digits in Fantasy points in five games, that doesn't necessarily mean Singletary isn't a possible starting option.
  • Rashaad Penny (hamstring) is expected to play & Penny was a somewhat surprising inactive for Week 6 due to the injury, but he was not even on the practice report with the injury Wednesday, so we should see him back out there this Sunday against the Ravens. However, he has a season high of just 10 carries, so don't expect huge production from him; Chris Carson is locked in as the No. 1 back here.
  • The Saints signed Zach Zenner & This doesn't seem like a good sign for Alvin Kamara's chances of continuing to gut it out with this high-ankle injury, and that might not be the worst thing in the world. Kamara just hasn't been himself recently, totaling just 93 rushing yards and 77 receiving yards with no touchdowns over the past two games. Maybe he could use a get-right week. We'll obviously have to keep a close eye on this one, though you wouldn't want to use Zenner even if Kamara is inactive  Latavius Murray should see a huge work load against the Bears, however.
  • Chris Thompson is dealing with turf toe & This is the same injury that has already cost Davante Adams two games, though Thompson's injury was classified as a "mild" case, per Ian Rapoport. Still, it would be pretty surprising if Thompson is able to play in Week 7, which means we should see a lot of Adrian Peterson, perhaps with Wendell Smallwood stepping in as the pass-catching back.
  • Mitchell Trubisky (shoulder) is "cautiously optimistic" for Week 7 & That was coach Matt Nagy's take on Trubisky's chances of playing Sunday against the Saints. Trubisky was able to practice Wednesday, but some of the first-team reps this week will continue to go to Chase Daniel just in case. Still, Trubisky shouldn't be someone you are relying on for Fantasy anyway, and his presence or absence doesn't really impact the team's position players too much either way.
  • Raiders brought in RBs to work out & It's not exactly clear what the Raiders are looking for in working out LeGarrette Blount and Bo Scarbrough, though both are bigger backs than anyone on the team's roster. Still, this should in no way represent any kind of threat to Josh Jacobs' viability.
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