Thursday Night Football provided fireworks once again as the Raiders and Chiefs kicked off Week 7 of the 2017 NFL season. This AFC West slugfest featured seven touchdowns, four field goals, one ejection, and three plays with 0:00 on the game clock before the contest was decided. After Michael Crabtree came up with a walk-off touchdown reception, the Oakland Raiders watched kicker Giorgio Tavecchio boot the final point through the uprights to give Oakland a 31-30 win over the Kansas City Chiefs.
The theme throughout the evening was the reemergence of Oakland wide receiver Amari Cooper, who traded silver and black for red leather and zippers, rising from the dead like he was in the Thriller video. After a respectable Week 1 performance, Cooper hit the dumps and caught just 13 passes on 26 targets for 84 yards TOTAL in weeks 2-6. That five-game slump was quickly busted on Thursday night, as Derek Carr fed Cooper early with the duo connecting for two first quarter touchdowns. Carr maintained laser focus on the third-year receiver, chucking a staggering 19 passes in Cooper’s direction. The 19 targets were a healthy dozen more than any other Raiders player received in the game, and Cooper was able to haul in 11 of those passes for 210 yards and the pair of scores. Cooper did continue his battle with drops, but the electric performance was extremely encouraging for a top-flight player that had disappointed through six weeks.
The Oakland backfield was in a bit of disarray after Marshawn Lynch bolted onto the field and shoved a referee during a scrum in the second quarter. Lynch was given the boot, leaving Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington to handle the Oakland rushing work. The two backs were given nearly identical workloads, with Richard tallying 76 total yards compared to 40 for Washington, while Washington was the responsible for the lone Raiders’ rushing touchdown of the evening. Richard should be the priority pickup over Washington in this backfield moving forward, but both players will likely see a rotation setup if Lynch faces suspension for this incident.
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On the Chiefs side of the ball, Kareem Hunt did Kareem Hunt things on Thursday night, and the rookie has still yet to play an NFL game in which he hasn’t topped 100 total yards. Hunt turned 18 carries into 87 yards to go with 30 receiving yards on four grabs, although he failed to find the end zone for the fourth straight games. Touchdowns will come. Patience, young grasshopper. Alex Smith had a nice night, throwing for 342 yards and three touchdowns as he spread the ball around to his bevy of weapons. Tyreek Hill roasted through the Oakland secondary for 125 yards and a touchdown on eight targets, and has yet to see less than six targets in a game this season. Chris Conley ruptured his Achilles’ in Week 5, and it has been Demarcus Robinson leading Kansas City receivers in snaps in consecutive weeks. Robinson saw eight targets on Thursday and caught five of them for 69 yards in a solid effort while playing 61 of 62 snaps.
Chiefs at Raiders Quick Slants
Travis Kelce scored his third touchdown of the season but totaled just 33 yards on four catches. Kelce will remain a top-level TE1 going forward. … Jared Cook snagged six of seven targets for 107 yards on Thursday night and is a great bye week filler in coming weeks with the tight end position looking sketchy. … Michael Crabtree caught only three passes on the night, but did corral the game winning score. Crabtree should bounce back nicely in coming weeks, as Amari Cooper won’t see 19 targets every game. … Derek Carr looked to be in much better shape this week than in Week 6 while recovering from a back injury. Carr racked up 417 passing yards and three touchdowns, and can be welcomed back into the circle of trust as a bye week quarterback option as the season continues.
In Other News…
Derrick Henry put a memorable stamp on the end of the Monday Night football game last week and it appears that more production could be on the way from the Tennessee bruiser. Fellow Titans running back DeMarco Murray (hamstring) missed practice on both Wednesday and Thursday, and even coach Mike Mularkey announced contingency plans for the team if Murray sits out Tennessee’s Week 7 game at Cleveland. After being largely ignored in the Tennessee backfield in Weeks 4 and 5, and seeing just 35% of the Tennessee backfield snaps during the season’s first five weeks, Henry led the Titans with 131 impressive rushing yards and a score on 19 carries in Week 6. Just because Henry hasn’t been handed a plentiful workload in Mike Mularkey’s offense early in his career, please do not forget that Derrick Henry is an absolute monster. You saw his speed on Monday night’s 72-yard score, and the man is listed at 6’3”, 247 pounds. He is enormous. If DeMarco Murray does miss Week 7, which could certainly happen with Tennessee looking at a Week 8 bye, Henry will warrant RB1 consideration and is an auto-start in fantasy leagues of all shapes and sizes.
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Injury News and Notes
Leonard Fournette (ankle) missed practice again on Thursday, but reportedly still expects to suit up on Sunday. This situation will need monitoring as Sunday approaches. … Stefon Diggs (groin) did not practice on Thursday, which means he will remain in a cozy spot on fantasy benches again this week. … Kelvin Benjamin (knee) hasn’t seen the practice field this week. Devin Funchess should be a nice start this week in Benjamin’s assumed absence. … Jameis Winston (shoulder) is expected to be more involved in Tampa Bay’s practice on Friday, so check back for an official update on Winston’s status as the weekend arrives. … Matt Forte (knee, toe) practiced in full on Thursday and will be ready to play this week alongside Bilal Powell (calf), who is expected to return to the field on Sunday. … Jordan Matthews (thumb) is back at practice but appears to be a risky play in Week 7 as he attempts to make an extremely quick return from the hand injury. … DeVante Parker (ankle) missed another practice on Thursday and will likely miss Week 7. Jarvis Landry will hog targets from Jay Cutler in the meantime. … Willie Snead (hamstring) was limited on Thursday but will still be a dicey bet in Week 7. … Rob Kelley (ankle) practiced on Thursday in limited fashion and looks like a decent bet to play on Monday night.
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