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Fantasy football: Week 7 start ’em or sit ’em

Bears tight end Zach Miller celebrates after scoring

Bears tight end Zach Miller celebrates after scoring a touchdown in the first half of a game against the Ravens, Sunday, Oct. 15, 2017, in Baltimore. Credit: AP / Nick Wass

Brett Hundley, Green Bay Packers QB

vs. New Orleans

It’s impossible to replace arguably the best quarterback in the league, but that’s the task for Hundley after Aaron Rodgers suffered a broken collarbone last week. The third-year quarterback out of UCLA completed 18 of 33 passes for 157 yards, a touchdown and three interceptions after taking over in the first quarter last week. Hundley’s played in just six games in his career, mostly when the game was in hand. Tthe Packers’ offensive line is banged up, but he has an otherwise loaded offense with Jordy Nelson, Ty Montgomery and Davante Adams all healthy. It’s also a favorable matchup against a Saints defense that’s 28th against the pass. Hundley’s a low-end QB2 this week.

Case Keenum, Minnesota Vikings QB

vs. Baltimore

Teddy Bridgewater said Thursday that he “definitely” believes he’ll play this season after dislocating his left knee and tearing his ACL more than a year ago. Bridgewater practiced Wednesday, but there’s still no timeline for his return, meaning Keenum still is the Vikings’ quarterback. Keenum, who has started four of six games with Sam Bradford out with a knee injury, has been a dependable fill-in. He’s thrown for 1,134 yards with five touchdowns and an interception in five games. The Ravens have allowed the fourth fewest fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks, so the Vikings may lean on Jerick McKinnon and the run game, especially if Baltimore’s best run stopper Brandon Williams remains out with a foot injury. With Keenum’s pass attempts expected to be way under his 31.8 average, he’s a low-end QB2.

Frank Gore, Indianapolis Colts RB

vs. Washington

At 34, Gore has managed to average a respectable 8.5 fantasy points per game, and though he leads the struggling Colts’ run game with 288 yards, he’s averaging a career-low 3.4 yards per carry. The Colts have continued to give Gore the bulk of the carries over rookie Marlon Mack, who’s averaging 4.8 yards per carry, and that trend should continue. But head coach Chuck Pagano and offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski both said this week that they need to get Mack the ball more, especially with Robert Turbin expected to miss the rest of the season with an elbow injury. While Gore’s still the man in Indy, it’s a tough matchup against a Washington defense that’s eighth against the run. Gore’s a flex play this week.

Orleans Darkwa, New York Giants RB

vs. Seattle

The Giants needed the run game to step up against the Broncos on Monday night with their three best receivers out. And step up it did with Darkwa leading the charge. The fourth-year back rushed for a career-best 117 yards on 21 carries to lead the Giants to their first win of the season. It was an unexpected performance, especially because the Giants had given rookie Wayne Gallman the bulk of the carries the previous two weeks. Sterling Shepard is questionable this week, but with Odell Beckham Jr. and Brandon Marshall out for the season, the Giants likely will continue to go run-heavy. The Seahawks’ defense is 26th against the run, but Darkwa already managed to run all over the No. 2 rushing defense last week. He’s a solid RB2 this week.

Mike Gillislee, New England Patriots RB

vs. Atlanta

After his strong start to the season — 114 yards and four touchdowns in his first two games — Gillislee has been fairly quiet. He’s rushed for 176 yards and hasn’t scored. The Patriots have a lot of depth at running back with Gillislee, James White and Dion Lewis, and with a split workload, it’s hard for fantasy owners to rely on any one guy. Gillislee’s best shot at a big fantasy day is to get in the end zone, but the Falcons have allowed just two rushing touchdowns. Gillislee’s a flex at best.

Devin Funchess, Carolina Panthers WR

at Chicago

Funchess has become a big part of the Panthers’ offense since Kelvin Benjamin left with a knee injury against the Saints in Week 3. Benjamin hasn’t missed anymore time, but Funchess has seen his targets increase. He had a career-high 10 targets in that Week 3 game and has been targeted at least eight times the last four weeks. In that span, he has 21 catches for 217 yards and three touchdowns. The Bears have the No. 8 pass defense, but they’ve allowed 24.7 points per game. Funchess is a WR3.

Jermaine Kearse, New York Jets WR

at Miami

While Robby Anderson has been Josh McCown’s top target, it’s Kearse who leads the team in receptions (26), receiving yards (299) and touchdowns (three). In the Jets’ first meeting against the Dolphins this season, he had just three catches for 42 yards, and that was on just three targets — his fewest in a game this season. The Dolphins could be without two starters on defense in cornerback Xavien Howard and defensive end Andre Branch, both of whom are listed as questionable. Miami already allows the seventh most fantasy points to receivers, making Kearse a solid WR3.

Marqise Lee, Jacksonville Jaguars WR

at Indianapolis

Since Allen Robinson went down with a torn ACL in Week 1, Lee has emerged as the Jaguars’ most dependable receiver. He jumped into the starting lineup in Week 2 and leads the team with 20 catches for 291 yards in five games. With the inconsistent Blake Bortles at quarterback, though, the Jags have gone with a run-heavy attack (54-46 run-pass ratio) led by rookie Leonard Fournette, so Lee’s a hit-or-miss fantasy option. The Colts’ defense has given up the third most receiving yards behind only the Patriots and Chiefs. This could be the week to take a flier on Lee as a flex.

Austin Hooper, Atlanta Falcons TE

at New England

It’s taken Hooper a bit longer than expected to get going, but he seems to have found his stride. His big Week 1 where he had two catches for 128 yards and a touchdown still is an outlier, but the last two weeks have been a vast improvement from Weeks 2 and 3 where he had just three catches for 16 yards. Hooper has 12 catches for 98 yards in his last two games. The Patriots rank last in overall defense and passing defense and have given up the fourth most fantasy points to tight ends. He’s a viable TE1.

Zach Miller, Chicago Bears TE

vs. Carolina

Miller has scored a touchdown in consecutive weeks thanks to a trick play where running back Tarik Cohen hit the veteran tight end in the end zone with a perfect 21-yard pass in a win over the Ravens. While it was Cohen who threw the TD pass to Miller last week, rookie quarterback Mitch Trubisky has provided a spark to the Bears’ offense since taking over as the starter in Week 5. The Panthers’ defense ranks seventh against the pass, but it’ll be without one of the league’s best tacklers in Luke Kuechly, who is out with a concussion. Miller’s been right on the edge of TE1 status most of the season, but Kuechly’s absence puts him over the edge.

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