2021 Fantasy Football Targets & Touches Week 7

by Cale Clinton
2021 Fantasy Football Targets & Touches Week 7

Welcome back to the Week 7 edition of the Targets & Touches series for the 2021 Fantasy Football season.

After a brief unexpected hiatus, we're back in full swing. Nothing makes sense anymore. The Cleveland Browns barely have any healthy players on offense. The Seattle Seahawks season looks all but finished after the loss of Russell Wilson. Like everyone predicted this preseason, the Cardinals and Bengals currently sit atop their respective conferences.

At this point in the season, we're using the Targets & Touches series to find any possible holes to fill for your team. When you mismanaged all your top talent in your Fantasy draft and only just realized your best players all have the same bye week, this is the place you can go to salvage your week. These guys may not be weekly home runs, but they'll help you plug a hole in a pinch.

As always, let's state our sources up top. All metrics on run/pass frequency, yards/game or attempt, or attempts per game come from Team Rankings. All snap counts and target shares come from Fantasy Data. Any Fantasy rankings, ownership percentages, or target numbers come from FantasyPros in a Half-PPR scoring format. All references to EPA/play can be found on Ben Baldwin's Box Score plug-in on RBSDM. Anything else in the article will be directly linked to.

2021 Fantasy Football Targets & Touches Week 7

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Running Backs

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Brandon Bolden, New England Patriots (owned in 7.3% of leagues)

I get it. It's hard to even think about working with the New England Patriots backfield. Year in and year out, there's always a new face or a committee situation taking touches and touchdowns away from the guy you have on your roster. Even this year, Damien Harris has been hit-or-miss, while J.J. Taylor and Rhamondre Stevenson have yet to see consistent RB2 touches.

However, one back in the Patriots running back room has seen consistent usage week in and week out. Brandon Bolden is the only back other than Damien Harris who has seen at least a 20% snap share since Week 4. Bolden is also very involved in the passing game, easily generating the most targets from running backs.

Bolden is the longest-tenured player on this Patriots offense. He knows this system better than anyone and has managed to stick around this long. Belichick trusts him over the young trio they currently boast back there. It's not the sexy move to make, but FantasyPros lists Bolden at RB35 between Weeks 4 and 7. You're definitely working with worse players than that somewhere on your team.

Kenneth Gainwell, Philadelphia Eagles (36.7%)

[pickup_prop id="14089"]

Kenneth Gainwell's been a bit of a Fantasy darling over the last few weeks. The fact that Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni announced that Miles Sanders would be a week-to-week decision with doubt on this Sunday's status should make Gainwell all the more enticing.

The reason I say go with Gainwell over someone like Boston Scott is Gainwell's established a role in this Eagles offense. Gainwell has been integrated as a pass-catcher. In the last two weeks of play, Gainwell has nine total receptions for 90 yards.

Gainwell also sees a sizeable portion of the snap count. Every week, Gainwell gets at least a 20% snap share, with most weeks easily topping 30%. Last week, when Sanders left after just 12 snaps, Gainwell took the lion's share of the load. His 35 snaps accounted for a 50.7% share. Boston Scott, on the other hand, had 23 snaps, his first game with more than 10 snaps this season.

Wide Receivers

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Darnell Mooney, Chicago Bears (48.4%)

So, the Chicago Bears...aren't great. Justin Fields has had his highs and lows, but the problems extend far beyond rookie woes. Offensive mastermind Matt Nagy has this team ranked 30th in offensive EPA/Play, per Ben Baldwin's RBSDM. David Montgomery has been sidelined on the IR. Allen Robinson, in what was supposed to be a booming contract year on the franchise tag, looks like a shell of his former self.

Without Robinson operating at maximum potential, look to Darnell Mooney for potential production. Mooney has out-targeted Robinson 44 to 40 on the season; 18 to 16 if you only count the last three games. Mooney's 18 targets in the last three games have translated to 10 receptions for 119 yards and a touchdown. That's good for WR41 in half-point PPR leagues over that span. Considering this came against the Raiders, Packers, and Buccaneers, those aren't the best secondaries to under-perform against, but a WR1 is a WR1.

While the Bears do spread it around in the passing game, the Bears only have three pass-catchers with a target share above 15% in the last three games: Mooney (23.7%), Robinson (21.1%), and Cole Kmet (19.7%).  With Robinson underperforming and Kmet a highly sought-after tight end, pick up Mooney on the cheap.

K.J. Osborn, Minnesota Vikings (8.8%)

The Minnesota Vikings are on the up and up, winning three of their last four games. Kirk Cousins is dealing, Dalvin Cook is doing his thing in the backfield, and the Adam Thielen/Justin Jefferson tandem is firing on all cylinders. One of the biggest things going for the Vikings is their ability to constantly find new guys to turn to game after game.

Alexander Mattison burst onto the scene against the Seahawks. Tyler Conklin has picked up the slack since taking over starting duties. K.J. Osborn, on the other hand, hasn't been a one-hit-wonder. He's slowly becoming a more consistent option in Minnesota's passing attack.

Osborn entered the bye week with one of his best performances of the season, catching 6 receptions for 78 yards and a touchdown on 7 targets. Osborn's target numbers have fluctuated throughout the 2021 season, but he has posted two 7-target outings in his last three games. Over the last three weeks, Osborn ranks third on the team with 12 receptions and a 16.1% target share.

Tight Ends

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C.J. Uzomah, Cincinnati Bengals (22.1%)

Don't look now, but the Cincinnati Bengals sit atop the AFC. The Joe Burrow-to-Ja'Marr Chase connection looks every bit as lethal as their days in LSU. Chase is drawing extra attention, freeing up one-on-one options for other receivers and lightening the box for Joe Mixon to run in.

Some options have really flourished in this new-look Cincinnati offense. C.J. Uzomah has dominated in recent weeks, catching 13 of 14 targets for 217 yards and five touchdowns since Week 4. Uzomah's TE2 over that four-week time span. He's also coming off his a strong game in Baltimore, posting three receptions, 91 yards, and a pair of touchdowns on three targets this past Sunday.

There's gotta be a catch, right? There's always a catch with seemingly surefire free-agent targets like Uzomah.

Targets are a huge problem in this offense for Uzomah. Ja'Marr Chase (51 targets), Tyler Boyd (45), and Tee Higgins (43) run this offense. Uzomah doesn't sniff their totals, having just 19 targets on the season--three more than Joe Mixon. Week 4 was his best week of the seasons, but his six targets came in the absence of Higgins.

It's obviously interesting to see a tight end with 19 targets post five touchdowns. That can't be sustainable, though. There are situations like the dots play above where the Bengals scheme Uzomah into good one-on-one situations. But now that play's on film. Those are fewer and further between. He's interesting to pick up in deep leagues, but this feels more like a sell-high candidate if you own him in more typical leagues.

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