We all know about season-long busts, but potential dud performances are waiting in the wings every week. Whether it’s because a player loses playing time, gets injured, faces a tough matchup, or is just due for a cold spell, there are a number of reasons he can disappoint. Identifying possible busts ahead of start ’em, sit ’em decisions is paramount and can help prevent you from having disastrous weeks. We’ve picked out potential Week 7 fantasy busts, such as hot waiver pickups Rashod Bateman and Rashaad Penny and more established players like Joe Burrow and Elijah Mitchell, who carry risk into their matchups.
As always, even perennial stars can bust in favorable matchups, but can be tough to call superstars “busts.” We’ll stick to naming guys on the start-or-sit bubble — not “must-starts” and not guys who are on over 90 percent of waiver wires. As mentioned above, you can’t always avoid players on this list. Sometimes you don’t have the depth to reasonably bench these guys (or you might just totally disagree with our assessments), especially in a week like this.
We had a hot Week 6 in our sleepers selections, but our bust picks were a mixed bag. We were right on David Njoku, Robert Tonyan, Ryan Tannehill, Chase Claypool, Tyler Lockett, and Ben Roethlisberger. We won’t take a W for Kadarius Toney, as he looked poised for another strong performance before he tweaked his ankle again. We were wrong about Derek Carr, Dalton Schultz, and Alex Collins, though. Technically, Devontae Booker was OK in PPR leagues, but he’d be considered a Week 6 bust in standard leagues.
Week 7 Fantasy Busts: Running backs
Chase Edmonds, Cardinals vs. Texans (Jackson Sparks). Edmonds is a bust candidate for the same reason James Conner is a sleeper — the Cardinals will dominate this game. When the Cardinals lead, they pound the rock with Conner, who’s scored five touchdowns this season. Edmonds is best suited for at least neutral game scripts when Arizona keeps passing. We don’t blame you if you start him in PPR, but he should stay on the bench in standard leagues.
Elijah Mitchell, 49ers vs. Colts (Vinnie Iyer). We have no idea what Kyle Shanahan will do with his backfield coming out of a bye, and Indianapolis’ defense is starting to assert itself up front again.
Rashaad Penny, Seahawks vs. Saints (Matt Lutovsky). Penny (calf) will seemingly come off the IR at the perfect time. Chris Carson (neck) is out and Alex Collins (hip) is banged up. If Collins is out, Penny should see 12-15 touches, but considering he plays on Monday night, fantasy owners might not know if he’s starting until they have to lock in the rest of their lineups. Also, it’s a brutal matchup, as New Orleans sports the No. 2 run defense. It’s not a bad idea to pick up Penny, but don’t count on him in this matchup even if Collins is out.
Week 7 Fantasy Football Busts: Quarterbacks
Joe Burrow, Bengals @ Ravens (Sparks). Burrow could prove us wrong here because Baltimore has given up big games from quarterbacks, including Carson Wentz. However, the Ravens just blew out the Chargers and held Justin Herbert and co. to six points. We’ve seen Baltimore’s defense be dominant in the past, and the performance against LA might be the start of just that this year.
Derek Carr, Raiders vs. Eagles (Iyer). Just when you think you can trust him, he steps into a tricky matchup against a strong inside pass rush balanced out by cornerbacks who can coax turnovers out of him and limit the big plays.
Daniel Jones, Giants vs. Panthers (Lutovsky). It’s not a terrible matchup, but Jones is still dealing with a shorthanded offense and, as we saw last week, isn’t always able to showcase his running ability. Even if you’re desperate because of byes, you should be able to do better than Jones.
Week 7 Fantasy Football Busts: Wide receivers
Corey Davis, Jets @ Patriots (Sparks). The last time these two teams met, Davis caught just two passes for eight yards. Perhaps Zach Wilson improved over the bye week, but Davis’ ceiling is extremely low here. The Jets offense hasn’t improved nearly enough to trust any Jets’ pass-catchers this week on the road in Foxboro.
Tyler Boyd, Bengals @ Ravens (Iyer). He has a decent history against them, but in the current offense, he’s a distant third fiddle to Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins. The work of tight end C.J. Uzomah is hurting him inside, too.
Rashod Bateman, Ravens vs. Bengals (Lutovsky). Bateman looked good in his NFL debut last week, catching four-of-six targets and playing 66.7 percent of snaps. However, that yielded just 29 yards. If Sammy Watkins (hamstring) returns, you can’t trust Bateman, as he’ll be the fourth option in an offense that doesn’t pass much. Even if Watkins is out again, Bateman is far from a lock to produce against a Bengals’ defense allowing the 10th-fewest fantasy points per game (FPPG) to WRs. He’s worth having on your bench, but don’t put him right in your lineup.
Week 7 Fantasy Football Busts: Tight ends
Zach Ertz, Cardinals vs. Texans (Sparks). We understand the excitement around Ertz, but there are three reasons he could bust here. For one, it’s just his first full week with the team so it could take time for him to be a factor. Secondly, this game shouldn’t be remotely close, so the passing volume will tail off early. Lastly, there are too many mouths to feed in Arizona, and Ertz will likely produce here and there, but not consistently — just like Maxx Williams did.
Tyler Higbee, Rams vs. Lions (Iyer). They don’t really need Higbee to attack this pass defense, which is actually better inside than it is outside.
Evan Engram, Giants vs. Panthers (Lutovsky). At this point, very few fantasy owners might actually be starting Engram, but he has some name value and the Giants WRs keep getting hurt, so we know the temptation is there. Don’t let it be. He hasn’t come close to producing, even with relatively decent targets, and New York has enough other options that there’s always someone else to throw to. Engram will get a random TD at some point, but don’t try to guess when that will happen.
Week 7 Fantasy Busts: Defenses
Las Vegas Raiders vs. Eagles (Sparks). The Raiders’ defense is much improved, but although the Eagles’ offense looks lifeless at times, they are garbage-time gurus. Even if the game starts out great for the Las Vegas defense, it will give up plenty of yards. Also, Philadelphia is in the top half of the league in touchdowns scored and has turned the ball over just five times this year (tied for second fewest).
Baltimore Ravens vs. Bengals (Iyer). They played a lot better last week against Justin Herbert, but Joe Burrow and the division rivals will play cleaner offense this week.
San Francisco 49ers vs. Colts (Lutovsky). The 49ers are rested and at home, and Carson Wentz is always prone to sloppy turnovers. Good recipe for a starting D/ST, right? Well, Wentz has only thrown an INT in one game this year, and Indianapolis is actually allowing the third-fewest fantasy points per game to defenses. It’s a tough week for D/STs, but there are plenty of better starting options than San Francisco.