Another week of the NFL season is in the books, and there is no shortage of fantasy football news to digest.
Each Tuesday during the season, ESPN fantasy analyst Eric Moody will ask our NFL Nation reporters what to make of the fallout after games are played and the most pressing questions heading into the weekend. Who is primed for a big performance, who is impacted by injuries and what roles might change? Here’s what our crew had to say about some of the biggest storylines after Week 6’s action as we head into Week 7.
If Christian McCaffrey (oblique) and Deebo Samuel (shoulder) are out in for the San Francisco 49ers in Week 7, which players (besides Brandon Aiyuk) will pick up the slack?
The good news for the Niners is that — at least initially — neither injury seems to be a long-term thing. Samuel is day-to-day and coach Kyle Shanahan even offered hope that McCaffrey will be available against the Vikings, too. With that said, if McCaffrey can’t go, expect Elijah Mitchell and Jordan Mason to get the bulk of the carries. Mason has been better and healthier this year, but Mitchell’s track record of success is a bit longer. Which means it could go back to the hot hand approach if McCaffrey is out. If Samuel has to miss Monday night, expect tight end George Kittle to add more targets to complement AIyuk. — Nick Wagoner
What did we learn Sunday about how the Arizona Cardinals‘ RBs will be used in James Conner‘s absence?
We learned that Arizona will truly be a running back by committee team until Conner is back. Three running backs, a quarterback and a receiver all had carries in Sunday’s loss to the Rams, and that type of distribution is expected to continue this week in Seattle. — Josh Weinfuss
If Chicago Bears QB Justin Fields is unable to play in Week 7, how much will that impact DJ Moore‘s production?
Moore was targeted eight times against Minnesota, and six of those passes were thrown by backup quarterback Tyson Bagent in the second half. Bears coach Matt Eberflus does not believe the team needs to simplify the playbook for Bagent in the likely event he starts the Raiders game over Fields (doubtful with a dislocated thumb), but scheming some easy throws for the undrafted free-agent rookie will be paramount. With the chance to lead a potential game-winning drive, Bagent underthrew Moore and was intercepted, but what he saw — Moore facing single coverage down the sideline — and how he viewed the situation should mean that the targets for Chicago’s No. 1 wide receiver will continue to come, no matter who is at quarterback. “DJ Moore, one of the best receivers in the world, one-on-one, any time we can get that we like it,” Bagent said. — Courtney Cronin
Were the Week 6 touches split for Jerome Ford (19) and Kareem Hunt (15) a sign of things to come for the Cleveland Browns‘ backfield?
The Browns have used the word “committee” to describe their backfield. So it’s fair to assume that both Ford and Hunt will get continue to get their share of carries moving forward. The Browns have struggled to consistently run the ball since Nick Chubb‘s injury. The question is whether Cleveland can run the ball effectively with any of its backs, especially when QB Deshaun Watson returns. The schedule eases up a bit in the coming weeks. That could help jumpstart both Ford and Hunt’s fantasy values. — Jake Trotter
If Detroit Lions RB David Montgomery (rib) is unable to go this week, is Craig Reynolds poised for a big workload, or do you anticipate Jahmyr Gibbs will return from his hamstring injury?
Gibbs’ hamstring situation is a tricky one. He hasn’t suited up or practiced for the past couple of weeks, so the status of his hamstring injury is still in limbo. But, if Gibbs or David Montgomery aren’t able to play, Reynolds would definitely get the heavier workload. Detroit’s ground attack was nonexistent in Tampa, with Reynolds getting 10 carries for 15 yards and the Lions finishing with a season-low 40 rushing yards after Montgomery exited during the first half after hurting his ribs. However, Reynold did deliver a massive block to set up a touchdown for receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown during the second quarter, and he has proven his toughness. In 2021, Reynolds started two games due to injuries and rushed for 195 total yards over a back-to-back stretch. — Eric Woodyard
How much will the production of Las Vegas Raiders WRs Davante Adams and Jakobi Meyers be affected if Jimmy Garoppolo misses time?
If you project how Aidan O’Connell and Brian Hoyer used them in their respective outings (O’Connell for the entirety of the Chargers game and Hoyer for the second half of the Patriots game), Adams’ opportunities would go up, while Meyers’ would go down. Consider: Adams was targeted a combined 15 times by O’Connell and Hoyer while Meyers got just six targets by the duo. Throw in the ascension of rookies Tre Tucker and Michael Mayer, and the ball may actually be spread around more. — Paul Gutierrez
Considering Salvon Ahmed‘s Week 6 involvement, how could Jeff Wilson’s return impact the Miami Dolphins‘ running back by committee?
Considering Raheem Mostert‘s production in Week 6, the Dolphins’ backfield is trending toward a workhorse scenario if he keeps it up. Ahmed provided relief throughout the game and in garbage time but still projects as a touchdown-dependent, pass-catching back. Jeff Wilson Jr. could make things interesting in short-yardage situations, however, so don’t be surprised if he vultures a touchdown or two from Mostert once he returns. — Marcel Louis-Jacques
Is Tampa Bay Buccaneers RB Ke’Shawn Vaughn a legitimate threat to Rachaad White‘s playing time long term?
I mean, at this point, the Bucs can’t get anybody to run the ball consistently, and it stems beyond just the running backs. But I’d look at it more as White is the lead back and Vaughn is working his way into the No. 2 role, although it’s extremely baffling, as Sean Tucker has been more of an afterthought the last two games despite being faster than Vaughn and producing a lot more during his opportunities in the preseason. — Jenna Laine
If Tennessee Titans QB Ryan Tannehill misses time with his ankle injury, how will the offensive approach change with Malik Willis under center after the bye?
Willis averaged 16 pass attempts per game in three starts last season. If Willis is under center the Titans will lean on Derrick Henry and the rushing attack a lot more heavily. Henry has two games with 20 or more carries this season. That number will increase if Tannehill isn’t available. Offensive coordinator Tim Kelly will use some designed runs as well to take advantage of Willis’ playmaking ability. Expect to see some read/option concepts when they do pass the ball to get Willis to make quick decisions with the football. — Turron Davenport