Each week the Noise highlights under-started names who he believes are destined to torch the competition. To qualify, each player must be started in fewer than 60% of Yahoo! leagues. Speaking as an accountability advocate, I will post results, whether genius or moronic, the following week (Scoring thresholds – QB: 18 fantasy points; RB: 12 fantasy points, WR: 11 fantasy points: TE: 10 fantasy points; .5 PPR). If you’re a member of TEAM HUEVOS, reveal your Week 7 Flames via Twitter @NoisyHuevos.
(14% started in Yahoo; DK DFS: $5,800)
Matchup: at NO
Vegas line/Total: NO -7.5, 51
For all the deserved attention Alex Smith has earned for his miraculous recovery from nine leg surgeries and a hundred-miles long journey to even walk normally again, there was Bridgewater. During a normally benign exercise in training camp 2016, his knee disintegrated — ACL tear and dislocation of the joint — a gruesome and complicated injury that instantly jeopardized his career. Through the ingenuity of modern sports medicine and Bridgewater’s rehabilitation diligence, he persevered returning to game action with the Minnesota Vikings 19 months removed from his dark day. Now moving uninhibitedly, Bridgewater has flourished, not only as a dead-eyed passer, but an opportunistic runner within Joe Brady’s air assaulting Carolina offense. His career revival is heartwarming and extraordinary, a testament to science and the QB’s never surrender attitude.
Without much fanfare, Bridgewater is stringing together a mighty fine statistical season. Boosted by the Panthers’ generous defense (34.5 attempts per game), he’s currently QB15 in total fantasy scoring, routinely landing within the QB1 ranks week-to-week. The purring Panther also ranks handsomely in several noteworthy categories including pass yards per attempt (QB9), adjusted completion percentage (QB6), play-action completion percentage (QB1) and catchable pass rate (83.1%, QB1). Whether chucking deep to Robby Anderson, intermediately to D.J. Moore or underneath to Christian McCaffery/Mike Davis, he’s performed admirably.
This week, with a number of mid-tiered passers on siesta (Gardner Minshew, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Philip Rivers and Kirk Cousins), Bridgewater is a strong streaming candidate. His opponent, New Orleans, fresh of its bye, has greatly underachieved defending the pass. Once feared DB Marshon Lattimore has allowed the highest passer rating of any corner, a perfect mark no less (158.3), to his assignments this year. Collectively, the Saints have yielded the third-most air yards per game (366.0), 3.0 passing touchdowns per contest and fourth-most fantasy points to signal callers. In a matchup sure to resemble a Fun Belt showdown, points will be plentiful.
Fearless forecast: 278 passing yards, 2 passing touchdowns, 1 interceptions, 17 rushing yards, 19.8 fantasy points
Matchup: vs. JAX
Vegas line/Total: LAC -7, 49
This batter, taking a hack at a Clayton Kershaw curveball, dug in, read the pitch and whiffed comically on attempting to predict which Los Angeles back would rise to the occasion post-Austin Ekeler hamstring shredding. Chips were stacked on No. 27, rookie Joshua Kelley. Given an opportunity to run with the gig Week 5 in New Orleans, the rookie floundered. He played on just 38.4% of the snap share, carrying the rock 11 times for a listless 38 yards. Jackson seized the opportunity, racked 20 touches, forced five missed tackles, notched a respectable 2.73 yards after contact per attempt and totaled 94 yards. Overall, he was more explosive, more reliable in the pass game and flat-out the better back.
Refreshed after the bye week, the former Northwestern standout is a highly employable RB2 in 12-team and deeper formats. When it comes to defending open-field and second-level runs, the Jags are one of the league’s friendliest. The Chargers offensive line, No. 23 in adjusted line yards, has created only a few wide holes, but Jackson has enough electricity to rip off a chunk gain or three. On the whole, the Jags have allowed 4.37 yards per carry, 156.8 total yards per game, nine combined scores and the sixth-most fantasy points to rushers. If Jackson continues to own the hot hand, expect him to flirt with the century mark in total yardage.
Fearless forecast: 15 carries, 65 rushing yards, 3 receptions, 12 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 15.2 fantasy points
Matchup: at ATL
Vegas line/Total: DET -3, 56.5
To use the Halloween candy analogy making the social media rounds in recent days, Swift, among weekly RB decisions, resembles the Milky Way. Despite his flavorful caramel center and sterling skill set, he was constantly passed over for teammate Adrian Peterson or other flex-fringe RBs. Matt Patricia and Darrell Bevell’s RBBC insistence severely reduced the kid’s once perceived top-30 RB value. Gamers, after all, are Veruca Salts: They want production and they want it NOW. Those, however, who have bided their time with the rookie had their patience rewarded last Sunday.
Keg tapped. Music cranked. Points piled. The Swift coming out party was absolutely lit last week in Jacksonville. On 38% of Detroit’s snaps, he turned cats into coats, rolling up 127 combined yards and two scores on 17 touches. Explosive and dynamic, he’s earned at least 12-14 touches per game rest of season.
For all the punches absorbed by the Falcons, their ability to defend the run is commendable. Through six games, Deion Jones and Friends have conceded a mere 3.66 yards per carry, 68.3 rush yards per game and two ground scores to RBs. They are, however, routinely exposed in short-field coverage, as pass-catching rushers have skewered them to the tune of 7.7 receptions and 54.7 receiving yards per game, the highest-mark allowed in the league. Swift, a superior pass catcher compared to Peterson and Kerryon Johnson, could excel on designed screens and dump-offs. He’ll continue to share the sugar, but in a matchup wonderfully crafted to his skill set, a homecoming of sorts for the former Georgia Bulldog, he should be viewed as a top-20 RB.
Fearless forecast: 10 carries, 44 rushing yards, 5 receptions, 32 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 16.1 fantasy points
Henry Ruggs, WR, Las Vegas Raiders
Matchup: vs. TB
Vegas line/Total: TB -3, 53.5
Running with the speed of a Pembroke corgi attempting to chase down a squirrel in open pasture, Ruggs and his 4.27 40-yard dash can really spin his little wheels. Limited to three games played due to a nettlesome hamstring, he’s logged just 11 combined targets and 12.0% of the Raiders’ overall share, but his 37.7% air yards percentage, ridiculous 21.6-yard average depth of target and 29.3 yards per catch denote his downfield explosiveness. He’s also generated ample space off the line, netting 3.00 average yards of separation per target. Whether lining up in the slot (36.9%) or outside the fleet-footed wideout typically leaves DBs choking on dust.
This week against Tampa, Ruggs runs roughshod through a Buccaneers defense allowing only 6.9 pass yards per attempt and the ninth-fewest total air yards per game. Unlike Aaron Rodgers last week, it’s doubtful Derek Carr, kept clean on 71.9% of his dropbacks, folds under persistent pressure. When lined up in the slot, the rookie sprinter should torch Sean Murphy-Bunting, arguably the weakest link in Tampa’s defensive chain. Manning the slot, the corner has conceded a 121.4 passer rating and 1.80 yards per snap. Ruggs only has 11 targets in three games, but in a contest with a sizable total, his workload ramps up. All it takes is one open-field dusting to achieve Flame status.
Fearless forecast: 4 receptions, 68 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 14.8 fantasy points
Tee Higgins, WR, Cincinnati Bengals
Matchup: vs. CLE
Vegas line/Total: CLE -3.5, 52
The fear of the unknown often leads to missed opportunities and fantasy points unrealized. Every year, especially this one, novice and veteran virtual general managers alike purposely avoid rookies simply due to skittishness. Whether because of unfamiliarity with the college game or other motivations, their ignorance places the unafraid into advantageous positions. Among first-year wideouts, Justin Jefferson, Chase Claypool, Laviska Shenault and Higgins are shining examples. He, enticing just over two deep targets per game, has accounted for 25.4% of Cincy’s air yards share. With A.J. Green partially cooked and Tyler Boyd working primarily underneath, explosive connections between Higgins and fellow greenhorn Joe Burrow will be routine.
With fantasy managers down Adam Thielen, Justin Jefferson, Marquise Brown, DeVante Parker and T.Y. Hilton this week, the youngster is undoubtedly WR3 material. Cleveland’s secondary, handicapped by a rash of injuries at safety, is a beatable unit coming off yet another bruising at the hands of Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers. This season, the Browns have allowed 7.3 pass yards per attempt, the fourth-most total air yards per game and the fourth-most fantasy points per game to wide receivers. Higgins recorded a quiet three catches for 35 yards in the first Battle of Ohio. However, in the rematch, expect him to occasionally school CB Denzel Ward, who’s given up a 109.7 passer rating to his assignments.
Fearless forecast: 4 receptions, 63 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 14.3 fantasy points
Shocker special (under 10% started)
Matchup: vs. KC
Vegas line/Total: KC -9.5, 48.5
For all the hoopla around Jerry Jeudy and, when healthy, Noah Fant, Denver’s actual No. 1 vertical weapon is the undrafted veteran from Utah. Without much fanfare, Patrick has registered 14 receptions (on 18 targets) for 257 yards and two touchdowns over his past three games. Also boasting appreciable standings in average targeted air yards (16,1, WR10) and WR22 in fantasy points per target, he’s delivered on multiple fronts. Big bodied and smooth in his routes, he maximizes his lengthy frame by shielding defenders. His long strides and soft hands have made him a QB favorite whether with Brett Rypien or Drew Lock. Steady WR2/WR3 returns should be expected over the rest of the season. No, a sativa gummy did not influence this take. Ok, maybe.
Full disclosure, Kansas City has brilliantly contained wide receivers this season. Last Monday, Stefon Diggs was only the fourth wide receiver to cross the 11-fantasy-point mark against the Chiefs in 0.5 PPR formats this season. Going toe-to-toe with Charvarius Ward, though, is an above average matchup as the DB has allowed a 133.8 passer rating and 1.45 yards per snap to his assignments.
Doubling down on Patrick in this space until fantasy players wake up and smell the stats, the unheralded wideout is a flex insertable option in 12-team leagues, at a minimum.
Fearless forecast: 5 receptions, 77 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 16.2 fantasy points
Bonus flames (under 60% started)
QB: Ryan Tannehill, TEN (Line: PIT -1.5; DK: $6,200) — Carolina Reaper with a Tabasco chaser. That’s how hot Tannehill currently is. Whether carving up defenses with his arm or legs, the passer is searing. Vaulting inside the top-six in fantasy points per game scoring, he totaled eight touchdowns (one rush) and completed an absurd 73.9% of his passes against Buffalo and Houston. A.J. Brown’s return coupled with Jonnu Smith’s steady production and repeated poundings applied by Derrick Henry has the Titans offense humming. Pittsburgh’s Steel Curtain is nearly impenetrable on the ground. As a result, Tannehill’s arm is likely to be a point of emphasis in Arthur Smith’s gameplan. The Steelers, surprisingly, rank No. 1 in most air yards per game allowed. They’ve also given up four multi-TD passers in five games. If the Titans offensive line limits cluttered pockets (Tanny 72.4% clean pocket percentage), the passer should again crack the QB top-12. (FF: 261-2-0-15-0, 19.9 fantasy points)
RB: Latavius Murray, NO (Line: NO -7; DK: $4,800) — The rumbling thunder to lightning Alvin Kamara, Murray has pushed and plowed his way to occasional resourceful numbers. His underlying profile hasn’t wowed anyone (2.63 YAC per attempt; 13.7% missed tackle percentage), but three times reaching double-figures in touches, he’s displayed some FLEX appeal. With four teams iced this week, he enters into the RB2 conversation. The Saints welcome division-rival Carolina, a team that features a dawdling run defense. This season the Panthers have surrendered 4.81 yards per carry, 158.0 total yards per game, nine combined touchdowns and the fifth-most fantasy points to the RB position. A likely 10- to 12-carry candidate, Murray crosses the chalk en route to a top-24 output. (FF: 12-52-1-1-7-0, 12.4 fantasy points)
RB: Cam Akers, LAR (Line: LAR -6; DK: $4,000) — Minister of Disinformation Sean McVay fibbed two Sundays ago. After Akers trucked Washington late, the documented liar said the rusher had earned more touches moving forward. His final line against San Francisco — 0-0-0 (1 snap). Henderson clearly owned the hot hand, but what the (expletive)? It’s a gamble, but slide the whippersnapper into your flex and statistical riches could hit the box score. Then again, L.A.’s swindler could pull another fast one. When it comes to defending the run, the Bears are more Mice than Monsters of the Midway. They’ve surrendered 4.31 yards per carry, 96.3 rush yards per game and five rushing scores to RBs. They also rank in the bottom third in second-level yards and open-field yards allowed. Roquan Smith has tallied 12 tackles for loss versus the run, but, evidenced against Ronald Jones in Week 5, he’s whiffed terribly at times. Give Akers (4.15 YAC/att, 25.9% missed tackle percentage) a chance, McVay. (FF: 10-42-1, 1-6-0, 11.3 fantasy points)
WR: Travis Fulgham, PHI (Line: PHI -6; DK: $5,400) — Those who sledgehammered piggy banks for the feel-good waiver wire story last week received an instant dividend. The former sixth-round pick, playing for his third franchise in two years, isn’t an anomaly. He’s an out-of-nowhere sensation who’s Carson Wentz’s irrefutable No. 1. In a furious comeback attempt against the Ravens, he hit the pylons for the third time in three games. Piling up 18 receptions (on 24 targets) for 284 yards and three TDs Weeks 4-6, he’s WR2 in total fantasy scoring. Equally outstanding, he’s notched a 13.1 average depth of target and ranks WR16 in yards per catch (17.4) and WR11 in contested catch rate on the year. Drawing the Giants on short rest, he’s a WR2 through and through. His primary matchup, James Bradberry (69.9 passer rating allowed), has flexed. Still, the underdog will continue to bark, loudly. (FF: 6-72-1, 16.2 fantasy points)
TE: Noah Fant, DEN (Line: KC -9.5; DK: $4,800) — If the plus-sized target returns to action after missing last week’s contest in New England with an ankle injury, he’s highly employable in a premium matchup against Kansas City. With Jerry Jeudy operating almost exclusively in the slot, the youngster should draw attention from Tyrann Mathieu presenting exploitable opportunities for Fant against softer coverage. When on the field this season, Fant has lived up to his calling cards, stretching defenses by exploding up the sideline and seam. He’s top-10 among TEs in total air yards, total yards after catch and yards per route run. In a likely voluminous game for Drew Lock he’s an unquestioned top-10 TE, assuming he’s back. (FF: 4-49-1, 12.9 fantasy points)
Bonus flame: Marquez Valdes-Scantling, GB (Line: GB -3.5; DK: $4,100) — Wilty and uncharacteristically timid, Aaron Rodgers resembled DeShone Kizer in headlights in a blowout loss to Tampa Bay. For the future Hall of Famer, a player known for his placid demeanor and shrewd decision making, it was a perplexing turn of events. Presumably unsatisfied with his performance, expect Rodgers to unleash hell on a Houston defense still picking up the pieces after last week’s Tennessee blitzkrieg. The Texans, who’ve allowed the 10th-most fantasy points to WRs, are an ideal matchup for MVS streamers. The wideout hasn’t reached double-figures in scoring since Week 1 but could benefit massively drawing Vernon Hargreaves (94.3 passer rating, 1.24 yards per snap allowed) most often in coverage. He’s No. 4 in average depth of target (18.9 yards). With Davante Adams back in the fold pulling away attention, the complement should spring loose on a deep opportunity or three. (FF: 4-66-1, 14.6 fantasy points)
Super bonus flame: Zack Moss, BUF (Line: BUF -12.5; DK: $4,200) — The Jets are renowned philanthropists. Their charitable works have resurrected the careers of so many downtrodden fantasy options. They deserve a Presidential medal for their contributions to society. Moss played on just a handful of snaps in his return to the lineup Monday versus KC, but there’s no better punching bag to amplify reps than the Jets. The Rudderless Planes, the NFL pacesetter in most missed tackles, have allowed 4.55 yards per carry, 152.5 total yards per game, eight combined scores and the seventh-most fantasy points to RBs. He’ll work in tandem with Devin Singletary, but in a game the Bills should control from start to finish, he should log multiple attempts after halftime. (FF: 12-50-1-1-6-0, 12.1 fantasy points)
Week 6 record: 5-8 (Season: 30-43)
W: Kirk Cousins, Myles Gaskin, Ronald Jones, Tim Patrick, David Montgomery
L: Alexander Mattison, Robert Tonyan, Matthew Stafford, Devonta Freeman, Raheem Mostert, Chase Edmonds, Mecole Hardman, Andy Isabella