Time flies when you're having fun, as the old cliche goes, but you don't need to have been enjoying yourself to notice how quickly we got to Week 7 of the NFL season.

Fantasy managers who have enjoyed strong starts may already be casting their eyes towards the playoffs and a run at the title.

Meanwhile, those owners who are mired near the bottom of their league might be wondering where it all went wrong and paying a dwindling amount of attention to their line-up.

Either way, there are plenty of players with matchups this week who can help deliver a win for your squad. Stats Perform looks at four offensive players and a defense who are primed to make a significant impact in Week 7.

 

Quarterback: Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons @ Miami Dolphins

The Falcons have had the bye week to rest after their win over the New York Jets in London and now get the chance to exploit another vulnerable AFC East defense.

They face a Dolphins team that will be playing only seven days removed from their game in the United Kingdom, and a defense that gave up 319 passing yards in their loss to the lowly Jacksonville Jaguars.

Ryan has two 300-yard games to his name this year and has thrown for multiple scores in every game after drawing a blank in the season opener.

Atlanta and Miami look like two teams heading in different directions, expect Ryan and the Falcons to take advantage and the 2016 MVP to record a big fantasy day.

Running Back: Chase Edmonds, Arizona Cardinals vs. Houston Texans

Edmonds has been something of a frustrating case so far this season.

He is averaging six yards per carry but has not consistently received the workload to be a viable fantasy option.

That looks likely to change this week when the unbeaten Cardinals face the 1-5 Texans, who are allowing 4.74 yards per rush attempt, the fifth-worst average in the NFL.

With the Cardinals widely expected to get out to a big lead in a hurry, Arizona should be able to take the pressure off Kyler Murray and lean on their backs if the game gets out of hand, meaning Edmonds could be in store for plenty of garbage time yards.

Wide Receiver: Ja'Marr Chase, Cincinnati Bengals @ Baltimore Ravens

Chase is a fully fledged fantasy darling having exploded out of the gates as a rookie for 553 yards and five touchdowns.

He might be expected to hit a block in the road against a Ravens defense that only gave up six points to the Los Angeles Chargers last week.

However, Chase is tied for the league lead with eight receiving plays of 25 yards or more and only six teams have allowed more passing plays of 20 yards or more than the Ravens (24).

Keep the faith and look for Joe Burrow and Chase to connect on at least one big one to vindicate his starting spot in fantasy line-ups.

Tight End: Dallas Goedert @ Las Vegas Raiders

With Zach Ertz out of the picture following his trade to the Arizona Cardinals, expect a bump in targets for Goedert, who is averaging 14.4 yards per reception this season.

That increase in his share of the workload could hardly come at a better time for Goedert fantasy owners, as he and the Philadelphia Eagles travel to visit a Raiders team allowing the most fantasy points per game to opposing tight ends.

Defense: New England Patriots vs. New York Jets

This one isn't too difficult. The Jets have committed nine giveaways this season, tied for sixth-most in the NFL, and four of those came from Zach Wilson interceptions against the Patriots at MetLife Stadium in Week 2.

Wilson and Co. have got themselves in the win column since then, but there is nothing to suggest that a Jets offense still without left tackle Mekhi Becton should succeed in avoiding turnovers in this week's return fixture in Foxborough.

The Philadelphia Eagles have traded three-time Pro Bowler Zach Ertz to the Arizona Cardinals.

The 30-year-old tight end forged what the team described as a "special legacy" in an eight-year spell in Pennsylvania that included winning Super Bowl LII.

Ertz joined the Cardinals in exchange for a fifth-round draft pick in 2022 and rookie cornerback Tay Gowan, it was confirmed on Friday.

Ertz's defining moment for the Eagles came in the Super Bowl defeat of the New England Patriots three years ago, his 11-yard catch and drive for the end zone late in the fourth quarter helping to secure a 41-33 victory.

A second-round pick in 2013, Ertz made an NFL-record 116 receptions in 2018 and is second only to Harold Carmichael for catches in Eagles history, making 579 in the regular season and 33 in the playoffs.

He signed off in style on Thursday, scoring a touchdown in the 28-22 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Lincoln Financial Field in what proved to be his final appearance for the franchise.

"Zach Ertz built a special legacy in Philadelphia," said chairman and CEO Jeffrey Lurie. "Talented, tough, and passionate, he helped to establish our team's culture and played a vital role in our success over the years.

"Zach created so many memories that will live on forever, from setting numerous franchise and league records, to reaching across the end zone for the game-winning touchdown in our first-ever Super Bowl Championship. He will always be a member of the Eagles family, not only because of what he accomplished on the field, but also because of the wonderful person, dedicated leader, and exemplary role model that he was for nine seasons in Philadelphia. We wish Zach and [wife] Julie nothing but the best."

The Cardinals, top of the NFC West after a 5-0 start, welcomed Ertz as a "talented replacement" for Maxx Williams, who is out for the rest of the season with a knee injury.

Tom Brady had no problem with his thumb as the superstar quarterback guided the Tampa Bay Buccaneers past the Philadelphia Eagles 28-22 on Thursday.

All eyes had been on Brady pre-game after the seven-time Super Bowl champion hurt his thumb in last week's rout of the Miami Dolphins.

But Brady looked fine on the road in Philadelphia, where the 44-year-old threw two touchdowns as NFL champions the Buccaneers held off the fast-finishing Eagles.

"I feel great, awesome," said Brady, who finished 34 for 42 for 297 yards, two touchdowns and an interception without being sacked.

"It's football season, so I'm just prepared to play football. I feel great, I really do."

It was Brady's 10th career win on three days' rest, breaking a tie with Hall of Famer Peyton Manning for the most by any quarterback since the 1970 merger.

Brady's performance helped the Buccaneers – who lost Richard Sherman to injury in the opening half having played without Rob Gronkowski – win their third straight game as they improved to 5-1 for the season.

It marked just the fifth time in franchise history the Buccaneers have won five of their first six games. In each of the other four – including the 2002 Super Bowl campaign – they went on to make the playoffs.

The Buccaneers had to withstand a rally from the Eagles, who were 28-7 down before fighting back to close within six points of the visitors.

"It was a good win. You know, it's tough to win on the road. Obviously, we didn't play our best, so we gotta get back to work," Brady said.

"We gotta good little break here, use it and get back to work, see if we can get better."

Tom Brady and Super Bowl champions the Tampa Bay Buccaneers won their third consecutive game after outlasting the Philadelphia Eagles 28-22.

Brady threw two touchdowns as the in-form Buccaneers held off the fast-finishing Eagles, who fought back from 28-7 down in Philadelphia on Thursday.

Despite playing without star Rob Gronkowski and losing cornerback Richard Sherman to a hamstring injury early in the first quarter, the Buccaneers survived to make a 5-1 start to the season for the first time since 2005.

Brady – playing with an injured thumb – made a red-hot start on the road, tossing touchdown passes on Tampa Bay's first two drives while going 11-of-12 passing for 121 yards.

The seven-time Super Bowl winner finished 34 for 42 for 297 yards, two touchdowns and an interception without being sacked.

O.J. Howard and Antonio Brown caught passes from Brady in between Jalen Hurts' TD throw to Zach Ertz for the Eagles in the opening period.

The Buccaneers took a 21-7 lead into half-time courtesy of Leonard Fournette's two-yard run and he stretched the lead with less than six minutes remaining in the third quarter after another run.

Hurts – who finished 12-of-26 passing for 115 yards, one touchdown and an interception while he rushed for 44 yards on 10 carries – tried to spark a comeback for the Eagles, rushing for two TDs having last week become the first quarterback with two rushing touchdowns in a win for Philadelphia since Mike Vick in 2010.

But Brady and the Buccaneers held on to continue their quest for back-to-back Super Bowls.

Rob Gronkowski will again be missing for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' clash against the Philadelphia Eagles on Thursday. 

Five-time Pro Bowler Gronkowski suffered a rib injury in the Week 3 defeat to the Los Angeles Rams, forcing him to miss games against the New England Patriots and the Miami Dolphins. 

The 32-year-old has not practiced all week and will play no part in Thursday's contest in Philadelphia, the team confirmed. 

The tight end had been a key offensive weapon for the Bucs prior to his injury, with 16 receptions for 184 yards and four touchdowns.

Defensive starters Lavonte David and Antoine Winfield Jr. have also been ruled out of the game at Lincoln Financial Field. 

Center Ryan Jensen (hip), edge rusher Jason Pierre-Paul (shoulder/hand) and defensive end Patrick O'Connor (calf), meanwhile, were all listed as questionable in Wednesday's injury report. 

Quarterback Tom Brady has been dealing with a thumb injury but is set to lead the Tampa Bay offense as the Bucs look to move to 5-1.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers superstar Tom Brady admitted his right thumb is a "little bit sore" but feels he "should be fine" for the Super Bowl champions' clash with the Philadelphia Eagles.

Brady hurt his thumb after throwing five touchdown passes to fuel the Buccaneers' 45-17 rout of the struggling Miami Dolphins in the NFL on Sunday.

Against Miami, Brady threw for 411 yards with five touchdowns and no interceptions – it was the first time in the 44-year-old's illustrious career that he had thrown for 400-plus yards with five touchdowns and no interceptions, becoming the 14th quarterback in the Super Bowl era to accomplish the feat.

As the Bucs (4-1) gear up for Thursday's battle against the Eagles (2-3) in Philadelphia, seven-time Super Bowl champion Brady provided an update on his fitness.

"I think it's just a little bit sore, but I expected it to be. But I think I should be fine for Thursday," Brady said.

"There's no serious injury at all. It's more just discomfort, but I think that should be gone here in the next day or two.

"This is just, you play a game, you get hit -- you deal with bumps and bruises over the course of the year. It just so happens that this bruise is on my hand.

"I'm just trying to be preventative and precautious and be smart -- it's been less than 48 hours since it happened -- so it's not like it's had five or six days to do its thing. But I feel confident that I will go out there and do what I need to do."

Tampa Bay have scored 45 or more points in five of their last 15 games dating back to last season. In the 698 games in franchise history prior to that, the team only had five total games with 45 or more points, according to Stats Perform data.

Christian McCaffrey appears likely to return to the Carolina Panthers' line-up against the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday.

Though McCaffrey was limited in practice for the second consecutive day, the running back said he "definitely" believes he has a chance to play after leaving Carolina's Week 3 win over the Houston Texans with a hamstring injury. 

Panthers head coach Matt Rhule said Carolina will likely wait until Sunday to make the final call but McCaffrey is eager to return after missing 13 games last season with multiple injuries. 

"Yeah, definitely," McCaffrey told reporters. "We'll take it to Sunday and see how it goes from there. But I feel really good."

The Panthers rushed for 113 yards in McCaffrey's absence last week, slightly above their season average going in, but suffered their first loss of the season to the Dallas Cowboys. 

If McCaffrey is ruled out for Sunday, the men who replaced him against the Cowboys – Chuba Hubbard, Royce Freeman and Rodney Smith – will be ready to carry the load again. 

But getting McCaffrey back as an all-around weapon for quarterback Sam Darnold would be a significant boost. 

"Any time you have the opportunity to have 22 on the field, that changes a lot of things," said offensive co-ordinator Joe Brady.

The 2019 All-Pro selection kept his remarks about his status brief, but McCaffrey did have some thoughts when asked about being injured in a Thursday night game. 

"It's extremely frustrating," he said. "I don't prefer Thursday night games. You go through a lot in a football game. And you really get two days to recover, and one of those days is a travel day.

"You get two days to recover; you get on a plane, you go to a hotel, you're playing a football game. It's tough, but it is what it is.

"It's part of the game, but obviously frustrating."

Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid enjoyed a record-setting homecoming in Philadelphia after becoming the first coach in NFL history to win 100 games with two teams.

Reid saw his Chiefs take down former team the Eagles 42-30 on his return to the place where it all began on Sunday.

The 63-year-old spent 14 seasons with the Eagles, where he started his head coaching career in 1999 and compiled a 140-102-1 record (including playoffs) with a trip to the Super Bowl following six NFC East championships.

After leaving at the end of the 2012 season, Reid was appointed by the Chiefs in 2013 and he has since delivered a Super Bowl to Kansas City – Super Bowl LIV.

"The people here have been phenomenal since I got here," Reid said after the Chiefs moved to 2-2 for the season, having lost their previous two matches.

"My room was loaded with food so it was good to have a cheesesteak and a lot of other things. It's good to be back."

Asked if his Philadelphia return made him emotional, Reid – who was hospitalised following the Chiefs' loss to the Los Angeles Chargers last week – added: "I'm pretty good. You want me to cry up here?"

Kansas City star Patrick Mahomes threw five touchdown passes to fuel the Chiefs in Week 4 and he revelled in Reid's achievement.

"It was definitely exciting to get him that win," Mahomes said. "We were due to get him that win, it had been a couple of weeks now, but I’m glad we got to do it in Philadelphia and around where he kind of came into his own.

"And now he's in Kansas City, and it's a good thing he's here with us."

LeSean McCoy will bring an end to his 12-year NFL career as a member of the Philadelphia Eagles on Friday. 

The Eagles selected McCoy in the second round of the 2009 draft and he will sign a one-day contract so he can finish his career with Philadelphia. 

McCoy spent four years with the Buffalo Bills after leaving the Eagles in 2014 and won back-to-back Super Bowls with the Kansas City Chiefs and Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the previous two seasons. 

"After 12 years in the NFL, I've decided to retire an Eagle because this is home to me. I still have that green inside my heart," McCoy said in a statement. 

"There are times when I'd see the Eagles on TV, and it just felt weird not wearing that uniform. I instantly think back to all of those big games and the roar of the fans; I've just always seen myself as an Eagle. It's only right to come back home and retire an Eagle." 

McCoy will be honoured at Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday when the Eagles take on a Chiefs side overseen by his long-time coach in Philadelphia Andy Reid. 

"I've been texting with him all week. I'm so thankful for him. He took a shot on a 20-year-old kid who people said wasn't big enough, wasn't explosive enough. I thank him so much for that," said McCoy. 

"We've always maintained a strong relationship. I love him. When he left, it was very tough for me because of my belief in him. It all worked out. He helped me get a championship. He's doing great things in Kansas City. I'm happy I'll be able to see him as well as the coaches and trainers and former teammates." 

McCoy became the Eagles' all-time leading rusher (6,792 yards) during his six seasons in Philadelphia. 

The six-time Pro Bowler and two-time All-Pro selection set single-season franchise records for the Eagles with 17 rushing touchdowns in 2011 and a league-leading 1,607 rushing yards in 2013. 

Jalen Hurts took ownership after the Philadelphia Eagles crashed to a poor 41-21 loss at NFC East rivals the Dallas Cowboys on Monday Night Football.

Quarterback Hurts completed 25 of 39 passes for 326 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions, adding 35 yards from nine carries on the ground.

Much of his production, though, came with the game out of reach. The Cowboys led 27-7 just a minute into the second half when Trevon Diggs intercepted Hurts for a pick-six and the Eagles ultimately fell to 1-2.

"I didn't execute and I didn't do a good enough job of leading," said second-year pro Hurts after the game. 

"I didn't do a good enough job of running our offense and doing the things that I need to do. This one is on me.

"I like to see me play better, that is something I can control. I'll learn from this.

"I learn from it and move on. I take responsibility for how this game went. I'm learning from it and we're gonna be a better team from it. I believe that."

The Eagles now have a short week before a difficult home game on Sunday with the Kansas City Chiefs.

They will face Patrick Mahomes and a Chiefs team who have the same record, reeling with a point to prove after losing consecutive games to the Baltimore Ravens and Los Angeles Chargers.

"We're on a short week and no one's going to feel sorry for us," added Eagles coach Nick Sirianni.

"The Chiefs aren't going to feel sorry for us. We got to rest our bodies, get our bodies right.

"We're going to have to watch this tape on the way home, get the corrections to our guys written down, and they're going to have to look at them on their own because we're going to have to be moving on to the Chiefs really quick."

While Hurts led an impressive offensive showing in Week 1 against the Atlanta Falcons, the Eagles are yet to get much production from their pass-catchers.

Quez Watkins – who has caught all seven of his targets for 186 yards – is the Eagles' receiving yards leader but that total is good enough for just 37th in the NFL through three weeks.

Dak Prescott loved his home return with the Dallas Cowboys on Monday and felt his three-touchdown display continued a career-best run of form.

Quarterback Prescott sustained a compound fracture and dislocation to his right ankle in Week 5 in 2020, keeping him out of the rest of the year.

The two-time Pro Bowler had been setting a record-breaking pace, his 1,690 passing yards through four weeks comfortably the most by any player over the same period since 1960 – although the Cowboys went 1-3.

Fit again for the start of this season and now tied to a four-year, $160million contract, Prescott has returned in similarly impressive fashion.

His 403 passing yards and three TDs in the curtain-raiser against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers came in a losing effort, but a slightly more modest Week 2 performance contributed to victory against the Los Angeles Chargers.

On Monday, against NFC East rivals the Philadelphia Eagles, Prescott completed 21 of 26 passes for 238 yards, three scores and no interceptions in a 41-21 win he described as "definitely special", in front of home support for the first time since his injury.

The 28-year-old's primitive passer rating for the year is at a career-high 110.1, and he feels he is reaching new heights in 2021.

"I said it earlier in the year, and I'll say it again: I think just getting hurt last year and having to sit back and watch football, [he gained] a different perspective and just different ways people play this game," Prescott said.

"Going back, the experience obviously has helped but just studying and preparing myself and then all the work that I've put in just to get back healthy, not only the leg but the shoulder... I feel like I'm playing the best I've ever played."

Dallas now lead the division with a 2-1 record, and coach Mike McCarthy feels Prescott is benefiting from leading a more competitive team this year.

While the QB has completed at least 80 per cent of his passes in the past two games (85.2 versus the Chargers, 80.8 against the Eagles), the Cowboys have also put up more than 150 rushing yards on each occasion (198 and 160).

Ezekiel Elliott has run for three TDs across those games, while Dallas' 139.3 rushing yards per game across the year rank fourth in the NFL.

The last team to complete 80 per cent of their passes and rush for 150 yards in consecutive games were the 1984 San Francisco 49ers, led by Joe Montana.

McCarthy said: "I think [Prescott] is clearly playing better now [than last year], in my opinion.

"Last year, we were in track meets. This is a clearly a different football team than last year. You're seeing three games where I felt like we've been very complementary both on offense and defense.

"He's doing a lot in the run game as far as handling the checks and things like that. Yeah, I feel like he's playing better this year than last."

The San Francisco 49ers are 2-0 after a win over the Philadelphia Eagles defined by resilience and a desire not to fold with their backs against the wall.

San Francisco's defense found itself very much against the wall with just under six minutes remaining in the second quarter after Jalen Hurts' 91-yard completion to Quez Watkins put the Eagles inside the red zone with a chance to extend their lead to 10-0.

However, the Niners stopped the Eagles four times from inside the five-yard line to force a turnover on downs, with quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo subsequently leading a 12-play, 97-yard drive that finished with a touchdown to Jauan Jennings to give San Francisco the half-time advantage.

That proved the turning point in a hard-fought 17-11 win for the Niners, who controlled the game thereafter and held the Eagles out of the endzone until a late Hurts touchdown and a successful two-point conversion gave Philadelphia a glimmer of hope.

Defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw, who blocked a field goal on his return from a knee injury, said afterwards: "I think they folded before we did. And I didn't think we were going to fold at all."

Garoppolo and the offense finally got things going after three successive three-and-outs to start the game, the first time that has happened with Kyle Shanahan as head coach.

Despite their early struggles, there was never any panic on the San Francisco sideline, the 49ers rewarded for their composure as they won back-to-back games on the east coast for the second successive year having again stayed at The Greenbrier in West Virginia to adapt to the change in time zone.

"Honestly, it was calmer than I expected," said Garoppolo. "Guys weren't freaking out, it was a tough defense, we knew that going into the game it was going to be a grinder type of game, away game coming off the week in West Virginia, there was a lot of things going against us but guys stayed the course and that's what you want to see with guys.

"We're a resilient group and when we play together like that's when we're playing good.

"When you can win different ways like that it makes for a good team. I've been around this league for a while now, teams that can win in different ways whether it's offense, defense, special teams stepping up that makes for a good team."

Reinforcements may be needed on offense at the running back spot, with three players at that position suffering injuries. Elijah Mitchell was able to return from a shoulder injury that the Niners hope is just a stinger, but the severity of JaMycal Hasty's ankle problem is not yet known while Trey Sermon suffered a head injury on debut.

"He said he was good enough to come back in, so that's when you think it's a stinger, but until you have time to go and get an MRI and stuff like that, you never know," Shanahan said of Mitchell.

"But we're hoping it was just a stinger. You usually feel good about it the way he was talking and the way he was able to come back in the game."

Having already lost Raheem Mostert for the season, the Niners will hope to have at least one of their top three backs ready when they host the Green Bay Packers on Sunday and attempt to move to 3-0.

Going into the 2021 season, few observers had the Philadelphia Eagles as NFC East favourites. After they dispatched the Atlanta Falcons 32-6 in Week 1, it is fair to wonder whether the last team to beat Tom Brady in a Super Bowl were underestimated. 

Yet Philadelphia's second game under new head coach Nick Sirianni is likely to be significantly tougher than their first, which came against a Falcons team caught in transition with Atlanta fighting the prospect of a rebuild staring them in the face. 

In Week 2, the Eagles face the San Francisco 49ers, seen by many as Super Bowl contenders, a status vindicated by the first 55 minutes of their performance in a victory on the road against the Detroit Lions. 

The Niners led 38-10 and 41-17 at Ford Field, but the final margin of victory was a much tighter 41-33 as the Lions staged a late rally after San Francisco had brought in its backups on defense with the game seemingly in hand. 

Philadelphia may see that as a reason to be confident they can move the ball on San Francisco. However, the Eagles' defense must be wary of a Niners offense that exploded for 8.04 yards per play in the opener, exploiting a weakness that was all too apparent in the Atlanta game. 

While the Eagles' defensive line dominated matters when it came to rushing the passer, it was consistently moved off the ball in the run game, the Falcons averaging 4.77 yards per carry, the eighth-best mark in the NFL in Week 1. 

San Francisco was slightly behind that average with 4.68 as the Kyle Shanahan offense, notoriously ultra-friendly to running backs, allowed sixth-round rookie Elijah Mitchell to rush for 104 yards and a touchdown after starter Raheem Mostert went down with a knee injury. 

The ground game is pivotal to the 49ers' success on offense as it sets up a play-action passing attack that arguably does a better job of opening the middle of the field than any other in the NFL. 

Atlanta found early success against Philadelphia in that area too, as the Eagles linebackers played aggressively in getting downhill to guard the threat of the run, and it is fair to assume Shanahan and the Niners will do a far superior job of taking advantage of such openings than the Falcons did during their dismal showing. 

Mostert is now out for the season having elected to undergo surgery on his knee but that does not lessen the need for the Eagles to slow down Mitchell, whose yards after contact per attempt average of 3.15 was second only to his team-mate's 7.5 on two carries in Week 1. Rookie third-round back Trey Sermon will be active for Week 2; his 2.77 yards after contact per attempt for Ohio State were sixth in the Power 5 last year. 

By the same token, San Francisco must have a keen focus on stopping Philadelphia's ground game, which was third in the league with 5.58 yards per carry last week, after the 49ers' run defense put on a disappointing display versus Detroit. 

Indeed, the Lions averaged 4.83 yards per attempt (seventh-most in the league) as the absence of Javon Kinlaw from the defensive line proved telling for the 49ers. 

Kinlaw has practiced in a limited capacity this week and his presence as a defender who can soak up double teams on the interior of the line should serve as a boost to DeMeco Ryans' group. 

Yet there will still need to be improvements from the players behind the line for San Francisco to stiffen its run defense, the Niners' linebackers having had clear issues plugging the wrong gaps in the win over the Lions. 

Should they fail to make those strides, that will make life harder on a defense that has historically struggled to contain mobile quarterbacks on the zone-read plays that Jalen Hurts and the Eagles will look to attack them with on Sunday. 

It's a passing league and two fearsome sets of pass rushers and a collection of exciting receiving options will surely have plenty of bearing on how this intriguing NFC matchup plays out. But, in the end, it is a game that may come down to which defense can stem the tide on the ground

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