Should You Start Jeff Wilson Jr. or Ezekiel Elliott in Fantasy Football Week 7?

Should You Start Jeff Wilson Jr. or Ezekiel Elliott in Fantasy Football Week 7?

Heading into Week 7 with six teams on a bye, fantasy football managers are left scrambling for options to start. With some big names missing, many fantasy managers are left wondering which backup RBs could be valuable options this week for those final starting RB or Flex spots.

Two such names to consider are Miami Dolphins returning RB Jeff Wilson Jr. and New England Patriots RB Ezekiel Elliott. Neither is expected to be their team’s starter in Week 7, but can either or both provide an option worth utilizing this week?

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Jeff Wilson’s Fantasy Outlook This Week

Wilson was expected to be the 1B to Raheem Mostert for the Dolphins this season. However, an injury ahead of the season delayed his start to the year. Wilson was placed on the injured reserve on Aug. 31 with “a midsection injury compounded by some finger issues,” according to head coach Mike McDaniel.

That absence opened the door for someone else to claim the spot alongside Mostert in this backfield. De’Von Achane didn’t just walk through that door, he ran through it so hard the doorframe is now on the floor and the door is in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. However, Achane is now on the IR himself; Wilson was activated from the IR this week.

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Usually, when a player returns from the IR, there are concerns about the ramp-up time. However, Wilson was a full participant all week at practice after McDaniel told reporters on Wednesday he was ready last week but there was not an open roster spot for him.

“There was no setback. It was more big-picture, whole-team, limited roster on game days. You have to take it up with the league on that one, but he’s doing great and he was ready to go. And really, I’ve never had issues with players chomping at the bit and then being like, ‘All right, you have to wait.’ It just means he’s going to be hungrier and I think we’ll all benefit from when that time comes.”

In terms of the role that Wilson might play, there are some moving parts. Mostert has led the backfield this season with 75 carries for 429 yards and nine touchdowns, adding 145 receiving yards and two receiving touchdowns. Mostert is averaging 15.8 opportunities per game, but there have still been opportunities for others to make plays.

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We saw Achane playing that 1B role that Wilson has so handily occupied in Weeks 2, 3, and 4. In that period, he carried the ball 37 times for 455 yards with five touchdowns. He also saw 10 targets which he turned into 63 yards and two touchdowns. Wilson may not be as explosive as Achane, but he should be in line for somewhere in the region of 10-15 touches this week if he is in that 1B role.

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Salvon Ahmed and Chris Brooks shared that role last week, but the expectation is that Wilson would be more likely to dominate that secondary role than a split. However, the Dolphins may decide to utilize Ahmed to avoid putting too much on Wilson in his first game back.

Ezekiel Elliott’s Fantasy Outlook This Week

Regarding the role Elliott may play this week, there is somewhat less guesswork involved. We have seen six weeks of this Patriots offense and how their split will work. Rhamondre Stevenson is the starter, and Elliott is the secondary option.

However, that does not mean Elliott cannot have fantasy value. He has had at least five carries in every game this season and has seen more than 10 opportunities in half of the games. Last week, he found the end zone for the first time after Stevenson left the game with an injury.

Through those six games, Elliott is averaging 8.2 carries, 32.2 rushing yards, 2.67 targets, 2.2 receptions, and 9.8 receiving yards per game. Those numbers are not exciting, but the floor is not to be sniffed at either. In half-PPR or PPR scoring, Elliott has scored more than five fantasy points in four of five games.

Five fantasy points is not going to set the world alight, but when you are scrambling in a bye week, it is a nice little return. Elliott’s role is not an unknown, and with Stevenson struggling this season, he could be in line to pick up more and more work as the year goes on.

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Which of the Backup RBs Should You Start?

In the Pro Football Network Start/Sit Optimizer, PFN’s Consensus Rankings say that Elliott is the player to start. His projected 7.7 points include a projection of 34.3 rushing yards, 1.0 receptions, and 5.3 yards. That doesn’t seem like a big stat line, but it just outperforms the consensus projection for Wilson (7.5 points).

Personally, I do not see it the same way. Elliott is playing in a struggling offense, so despite facing a team allowing the second-worst number in terms of rushing yards per attempt (5.4), we could easily see the Patriots RBs continue to struggle. Additionally, the Bills’ offense has the potential to build up a lead, which could see New England needing to lean heavily on the passing game to try and catch up.

Meanwhile, Wilson comes back into the league-leading offense that has seen running backs score 16 rushing touchdowns and four receiving touchdowns while leading the league in yards per rush attempt (6.5). Even if Wilson has just five touches to Elliott’s 10, Wilson has more than a chance to be twice as efficient in terms of fantasy point return.

It would be a surprise not to see Wilson have a similar role to that of Brooks and Ahmed last week (six carries). Meanwhile, there is every chance he could see the 10-15 touches that Achane was getting when healthy. I am taking that upside in Week 7.