2022 Fantasy Football Week 7 Sleepers Heat Check

by Malcolm McMillan
2022 Fantasy Football Week 7 Sleepers Heat Check

Week 7 of the 2022 NFL season is here! This means it's time for the 2022 Fantasy Football Week 7 Sleepers Heat Check!

This week on The Lateral Show we covered a bunch of wide receivers. Herms and I discussed guys who moved teams like Robbie Anderson, guys who may move teams like Chase Claypool and guys who could become the top wide receiver on their team like Wan'Dale Robinson.

Okay, we didn't talk about guys like those, we talked about exactly those guys and a couple of others. So make sure to check it out to get an edge over your league mates.

Also, make sure to read this article so you know exactly whether or not to roster these three fantasy football sleepers.

2022 Fantasy Football Week 7 Sleepers Heat Check

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Week 6 Heat Check Recap

In the 2022 Fantasy Football Week 6 Sleepers Heat Check I said to go get Alec Pierce, to stay away from Russell Gage and to maybe stream Robert Tonyan if you're desperate. Well, two out of three ain't bad. Alec Pierce finished half-point-per-reception (half-PPR) scoring WR23 in Week 6 and continues to be a significant part of the Indianapolis Colts passing attack. Russell Gage, unfortunately, continues to not be a significant part of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers passing attack, finished half-PPR WR61.

The one I got wrong was Robert Tonyan, who finished half-PPR TE5 in Week 6. Tonyan greatly outperformed expectations against the New York Jets in Week 6, and until Green Bay finds an elite wide receiver, Tonyan may continue to have an impactful role. If the Packers tight end is still available on waivers he's definitely worth a stream this week against the Washington Commanders regardless.

As always, I covered my methodology for the Heat Check in the Week 1 article, so read that if you want to know how the Heat Check is done. The only difference this week is our sample size is strictly Week 4 to Week 6 of the 2022 NFL season.

Quarterback

Jimmy Garoppolo, San Francisco 49ers

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I have multiple Jimmy Garoppolo jerseys. His performance against the Tennesee Titans in Week 15 of the 2017 NFL season is actually why I'm a San Francisco 49ers fan. I say all this so you can believe me when I say I've also been one of the quickest to recommend not putting Jimmy Garoppolo in your starting lineup. Well, at least not since he tore his ACL in 2018.

The experts also agree with me. Garoppolo sits at QB13 in FantasyPros Week 11 expert consensus rankings (ECR) and is all the way down at QB27 in FantasyPros rest of season ECR. While that ranking may be a bit low even for my taste, it does highlight a hesitancy among experts to crown Garoppolo as a fantasy football starter.

Here's the thing: the numbers say we're wrong. Over the past three weeks, Garoppolo has been the QB11 scoring 16.94 points per game (PPG). That was better than Lamar Jackson (QB12) and Justin Herbert (QB17) over that same period and nobody questions if they're starters. So are we all wrong?

Jimmy Garoppolo 2022 Fantasy Football Week 7 Sleepers Heat Check

While the heat check focuses on a strict three-week period, I wanted to look at the prior three-week period to see how the season has ebbed and flowed. Sure enough, Jimmy Garoppolo's 16.94 PPG over the past three weeks of the 2022 NFL season would have been good for just QB14 over the first three weeks of the season. That's not bad, but its not quite starting caliber.

Still, maybe Garoppolo is just heating up, so let's go back to the past three weeks. Garoppolo has definitely started getting up a bit, with five touchdowns and just two interceptions. He even threw it 41 times in a Week 6 loss to the Atlanta Falcons, which is 11 more attempts than he's thrown for in any other game this season.

Ultimately, Garoppolo's success will come down to the arrival of Christian McCaffrey and how McCaffrey impacts the Niners offense. If McCaffrey continues to demand five to six targets per game, that's more chances for Garoppolo to boost his passing touchdown numbers. Garoppolo will definitely need it since he adds nothing with his legs. But if Shanahan leans on McCaffrey as a runner, it will lower Garoppolo's ceiling to the point where he isn't viable.

You can stash Garoppolo, for now, to see what happens, but he probably finishes the season just outside the Top 12 at the quarterback position. If you want a ceiling play, he isn't it.

Wide Receiver

Donovan Peoples-Jones, Cleveland Browns

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Can you smell what the Browns are cooking? Don't look now but Donovan "The Peoples" Jones has quietly been a Top 36 wide receiver in half-PPR over the past three weeks. That's good enough to be a fantasy starter in a lot of fantasy football leagues. He's also been the clear WR2 in the Cleveland Browns depth chart so far this season, with 27 more targets than David Bell.

Despite the clear love from Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski and offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt, Peoples-Jones is getting no love from the experts. He is currently the WR49 in Week 7 half-PPR ECR and WR76 in rest of season ECR. Clearly, something doesn't add up here.

Donovan Peoples-Jones 2022 Fantasy Football Week 7 Sleepers Heat Check

The Cleveland Browns offensive numbers are really interesting. They score a fair amount of points, they have produced the fifth most yards of any team and they run a ton of plays. The issue is they don't pass the ball a lot despite all this offensive output. The Browns are just 16th in passing attempts and just 22nd in yards.

They also don't produce a ton of touchdowns through the air. They have just six passing touchdowns so far this season, which is just one per game. This hurts Donovan Peoples-Jones because its this lack of touchdowns that is preventing him from breaking into the Top 24 fantasy wide receivers. The targets are there — for the most part.

One place the targets are not is in the red zone. Over the past three weeks, Peoples-Jones has seen just two red zone targets and caught none of them. What's even worse is he's been just the fourth most popular target for quarterback Jacoby Brissett in that period. Granted, the target quality Peoples-Jones has seen is just 47th according to PlayerProfiler and the target accuracy is even worse. But Brissett probably won't go away until Deshaun Watson comes back from suspension in Week 13. If you can hold Peoples-Jones on your bench for that long, he's worth a flyer due to his target share. But chances are you probably can't wait that long.

Tight End

Daniel Bellinger, New York Giants

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Daniel Bellinger wasn't on most fantasy football managers' radars this draft season. Even for someone who does full rookie rankings, I only had him as my TE5 in the 2022 rookie class, though he did go up a couple of spots after the New York Giants took him in the fourth round.

Fast forward to Week 7 and Bellinger has secured the starting tight end job for the Giants. Even more importantly, he's been performing like a startable fantasy football tight end. Over the past three weeks, Bellinger has scored 8.5 half-PPR PPG. That's been good enough for TE13 in half-PPR PPG and TE11 overall in half-PPR.

The experts though, think very little of the top-producing tight end of the 2022 rookie class. He currently is TE15 in Week 7 ECR and TE24 in rest of season ECR. So are the experts just slow to accept a rookie tight end can be a fantasy football starter? Or are they right to be cautious?

Daniel Bellinger 2022 Fantasy Football Week 7 Sleepers Heat Check

Okay, so Daniel Bellinger does not get a ton of targets. The best he's done over the past three weeks was five targets in Week 6. That was good enough to be tied for 15th among tight ends. This guy isn't Mark Andrews averaging 9.5 targets per game and he won't be this season. Maybe in the future (though I doubt it) but definitely not in 2022.

However, that doesn't mean Bellinger doesn't get valuable targets in the New York Giants offense. Over the past three weeks, he's actually led the Giants in red zone targets along with Darius Slayton. Last week, those red zone targets paid off and he scored his second touchdown in as many weeks. The other one was a surprising two-yard run against the Green Bay Packers in Week 5. Not complaining about that though; it's promising to see head coach Brian Daboll trust Bellinger in multiple facets of the game.

Could Week 6 have been a sign of things to come? Maybe. A 94% snap share with five targets (two in the red zone) can definitely produce borderline starting fantasy tight end numbers. Unfortunately, I think in this Giants offense that probably represents Bellinger's likely ceiling.  You can stream him, especially in Week 8 against the Seattle Seahawks, but don't expect elite production.


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