Duke Johnson, Taylor Gabriel and other fantasy NFL sleepers for Week 7

Jay Asser 20/10/2018
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Here are five players who you can pluck off your bench or waiver wire and insert into your starting lineup for this weekend’s games.

DUKE JOHNSON

Even before Carlos Hyde was traded away this week, Johnson was a worthy flex play thanks to his role in the passing game. But with Hyde gone, Johnson’s workload could be even bigger if he gets more chances on early downs.

He’ll face a Tampa Bay Buccaneers defence that is allowing the seventh-most fantasy points to running backs.

TAYLOR GABRIEL

Gabriel’s past two performances should be reason enough to get him in your lineup this week. He was the the model of efficiency in those games, hauling in all 12 of his targets for 214 yards and two touchdowns, and on Sunday he should have a positive game-script to work with against New England as the Bears are expected to be chasing points.

of the game at Hard Rock Stadium on October 14, 2018 in Miami, Florida.

ELI MANNING

Whether it’s in real life or fantasy, Manning doesn’t inspire confidence. But leave your hesitations at the door this week with the Atlanta Falcons’ leaky defence on the menu.

Atlanta are giving up the second-most fantasy points to QBs this season, and have been particularly vulnerable against pass-catching backs. Good luck stopping Saquon Barkley.

C.J. UZOMAH

Injuries have paved the way for Uzomah to be fantasy relevant after starting tight end Tyler Eifert broke his ankle and back-up Tyler Kroft suffered a broken bone in his foot.

Whether you need a short-term streamer or a tight end with staying power for the rest of the season, Uzomah is an intriguing option, especially against the Kansas City Chiefs defence this week.

FRANK GORE

An ageless wonder, Gore continues to produce at the age of 35. The veteran running back has led the Miami Dolphins in carries each of the past four games and is coming off his best outing of the season, in which he tallied 101 rushing yards on 15 attempts.

Start Gore with confidence as a flex or low-end RB2.

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Poor coaching has held Josh Rosen and Arizona Cardinals offence back

Jay Asser 20/10/2018
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Josh Rosen hasn’t exactly set the world on fire in his rookie season, but he and the Arizona Cardinals offence as a whole have been let down by uninspired coaching.

Arizona’s offensive struggles continued in the 45-10 shellacking at the hands of the Denver Broncos on Thursday, in which the Cardinals became the first team since the 2005 Houston Texans to fail to top 270 total yards in seven straight games.

Rosen also became the first rookie quarterback in NFL history to throw two pick-sixes in the first quarter, while finishing with five turnovers in total (three interceptions and two fumbles).

Needless to say, Arizona are in desperate need of a change, which is why Mike McCoy was fired as the offensive coordinator on Friday.

While it’s fair lay some of the blame on the Cardinals players for failing to execute on the field, the coaching staff deserves much of the criticism for not putting them in much of a position to succeed.

For one, Arizona were fine with Rosen taking a beating by asking him to drop back over and over again despite trailing by 35 points near the end.

He’s also being asked to direct a passing game that isn’t taking advantage of one of its best weapons, with running back David Johnson almost strictly being used as a between-the-tackles runner.

Johnson, who had 80 receptions on 120 targets for 879 yards in 2016, has been thrown to just 30 times through seven games and has barely been lined up outside of the backfield.

Using Johnson more creatively could open up the rest of the offence and allow them to move the ball better, while taking pressure off Rosen.

That should be the focus of new offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich, who has been promoted from quarterbacks coach after playing nine seasons in the NFL as a quarterback himself.

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Pressure on Denver Broncos to buck losing trend against Arizona Cardinals

Jay Asser 17/10/2018
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It’s do-or-die time for the Denver Broncos.

Heading into Thursday night’s match-up with the similarly reeling Arizona Cardinals, Denver have run out of any margin for error.

Coming off four straight losses, the Broncos are not only in danger of falling into an insurmountable hole in terms of the AFC playoff picture, but are heading towards back-to-back losing seasons for the first time since 1972.

Head coach Vance Joseph is on the chopping block. General manager and franchise legend John Elway has been vocal about the team’s disappointment.

Beating the Cardinals may not turn around Denver’s season, but in the context of everything that’s happening with the Broncos, it is a must-win.

Especially after Von Miller guaranteed a victory with a bold proclamation on Tuesday, saying: “I wouldn’t say it’s a must-win, but we’re going to kick their a**, though.”

If Denver are going to play better, it’s going to have to start with Miller and the run defence.

The unit became the first defence in league history to allow a 200-yard rusher in consecutive weeks after Isaiah Crowell burned them for 219 yards and Todd Gurley gashed them for 208.

In total, the Broncos have surrendered an eye-popping 593 rushing yards the past two games, and on Thursday they get one of the best running backs in the league in David Johnson.

Fortunately for Denver, the Cardinals have had the worst ground game this season, ranking dead last in yards per game (64.0) and yards per attempt (3.2).

With quarterback Case Keenum under heavy scrutiny, the Broncos could focus on the run on the other side of the ball as well.

Denver should look to put the ball in the hands of their rookie ball-carriers Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman to attack Arizona’s defence, which is allowing the most rushing yards per game (151.2) after the Broncos.

That would help take the pressure off Keenum, who is tied for the league lead in interceptions with eight.

The coaching staff will have to call a better game than they did the past three weeks, when they’ve dialed up 125 passes to just 54 runs.

More than just a change to their record, Denver have their pride and potentially jobs on the line in Thursday’s encounter.

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