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Fantasy Football: Week 7 Recap

Posted Oct 23, 2012


Three of the five biggest fantasy performances in Week 7 came from Drew Brees (37.18 fantasy points), Chris Johnson (31.80) and Vincent Jackson (27.60) -- and fantasy owners of all three were probably still disappointed.

Yes, if there's one thing fantasy owners can do, it's complain, and as great as Brees, Johnson and Jackson were last week, all three seemingly left points on the field. Brees threw for only 64 yards in the second half; Johnson was replaced twice along the goal line and watched Jamie Harper poach two touchdowns; and Jackson was tripped up and fell just short of the end zone after a 95-yard reception.

Here are a couple more for you: Houston calling a pass play on 1st-and-Goal from the one-yard line instead of giving it to Arian Foster; Oakland calling a QB sneak on 1st-and-Goal from the one-yard line instead of giving it to Darren McFadden; BenJarvus Green-Ellis running eight times for 44 yards on Cincinnati's opening drive, then coming out for one play and watching Cedric Peerman scamper for a five-yard touchdown.

There are plenty of instances like these every week, and as fantasy owners, all we can do is watch, grumble and shake our heads. In the case of Brees, Johnson and Jackson (and even Foster), they did more than about 98 percent of all other players, so owners really shouldn't complain. In the cases of McFadden and Green-Ellis, those lost opportunities were the difference between mediocre days and good days. Complain away – but just realize that your opponent can probably match you gripe for gripe.

Just because you lose your matchup doesn't mean you'll win the bellyaching contest. It's just another example of how fantasy football can be unfair. Let's do our best to sift through the luck and find some players who legitimately improved or hurt their stock at each offensive position.

Quarterback

There were five 300-yard passers last week, and it's no coincidence that four of those performances (Eli Manning, Brees, Josh Freeman and Mark Sanchez) came against the four worst pass defenses in the league (Washington, Tampa Bay, New Orleans and New England). We're at the point in the season where we can be pretty confident in which pass defenses are bad and which are good, and while that might change somewhat going forward based on injuries, the four above teams should continue to be generous to opposing quarterbacks.

Notable Riser: Matt Schaub, Texans. The Ravens' depleted defense is another one that fantasy owners can pick on in the future, and Schaub did a good job taking advantage of them last week. After throwing for 256 yards and two scores, he now has multiple TDs in three of his past five games and is ranked 14th among all fantasy QBs. His upside is generally limited, but Schaub is still a solid play most weeks.

Notable Faller: Christian Ponder, Vikings. It was a bad week for fringe starting quarterbacks, as Joe Flacco (147 yards, TD, 2 INTs) and Andy Dalton (105 yards, TD, INT) both struggled, but neither were worse than Ponder (58 yards, TD, 2 INTs). This is the second time in the past four games that Ponder has basically done nothing, and it's a stark reminder of why having an elite QB like Brees, Tom Brady or Peyton Manning is so important in fantasy football.

Running Back

Frank Gore and Trent Richardson left their respective games early because of rib injuries, and Richardson seems likely to miss at least one game in the near future. But the biggest news was Maurice Jones-Drew suffering a foot injury that could keep him out the rest of the year. At the very least, we know he's going to miss next week, which makes Rashad Jennings a must-have add if he's been dropped in your league. Jennings didn't look particularly sharp running the ball (44 yards and 21 carries), but he added a touchdown and 58 yards on seven catches, showing that he can be a legit starter in all formats.

Notable Riser: LaRod Stephens-Howling, Cardinals. It's amazing how much time and energy has been spent in fantasy circles on Arizona running backs, but after Stephens-Howling became the first back to run for more than 77 yards against Minnesota (he had 104 yards and a score), he's bound to be one of the top waiver claims this week. With William Powell only getting four carries, it looks like Stephens-Howling should continue to get the bulk of the touches -- something that seemed unlikely just last week when Powell had two more carries than Stephens-Howling. Pittsburgh's Jonathan Dwyer also looked good, getting 122 yards on 17 carries. His value isn't as high because he'll be demoted as soon as Rashard Mendenhall (Achilles') and Isaac Redman (ankle) are back, but he's likely more talented and in a better situation than Stephens-Howling when he's starting.

Notable Faller: DeAngelo Williams, Panthers. Unlike the Bills, who seem to have no problem supporting two feature backs, the Panthers don't seem to be able to support even one. Williams really got the short end of the stick on Sunday, rushing just two times for four yards. Jonathan Stewart (10-35) wasn't much better, but at least he received appreciable touches. Even worse, Mike Tolbert was the back who got the call on a two-yard TD run for the Panthers. Williams has had just eight carries for 10 yards over the past two weeks, and while the upside for more is always there, he can't be trusted in fantasy leagues right now.

Wide Receiver

It was a bad week for teams with two fantasy-relevant receivers. For Dallas, it was Miles Austin's week while Dez Bryant struggled; in Tampa, Jackson got all the love while Mike Williams couldn't get anything going; Antonio Brown stepped up for Pittsburgh while Mike Wallace had a problem with drops; Larry Fitzgerald had a bad game while Andre Roberts padded his stats in garbage time for Arizona; and Hakeem Nicks played second fiddle to Victor Cruz in New York despite a great matchup.

A few WR duos managed to both play well (Lance Moore and Marques Colston; Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb), but weeks like this are why most fantasy owners don't like having teammates.

Notable Riser: Chris Givens, Rams. With four straight games with a 50-plus-yard reception, Givens has cemented himself as one of the NFL's premier big-play guys. Obviously, you can't count on 50-yard plays every week, but Givens has as much upside as any bye-week fill-in WR out there.

Notable Faller: Brandon Lloyd, Patriots. Wes Welker only had six catches for 66 yards on Sunday, but he still leads the league in receiving yards (688). Meanwhile, after his one-catch, six-yard performance last week, Lloyd has just 407 yards and one touchdown. With Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski both healthy and the running game going strong, Lloyd is almost a luxury at this point for the Pats. He's still a premier receiver, but he'll likely continue to be inconsistent.

Tight End

As bad of a week as it was for Vernon Davis (shut out), Kyle Rudolph (shut out), Jermichael Finley (just two catches on two targets) and Scott Chandler (15 yards despite playing the worst defense at defending TEs), it was a worse weekend for Fred Davis, who's out for the season because of a torn Achilles'. Logan Paulsen (4-76) stepped up in Davis' absence, but the recently re-signed Chris Cooley will likely steal enough playing time to negate any potential value for Washington's TEs.

Notable Riser: Owen Daniels, Texans. Daniels was one of just two TEs with at least 10 targets last week, and he scored for the fourth time in his past five games. He's the third-ranked fantasy TE right now, and he's showing no signs of slowing down. Several TEs, like both Patriots and the aforementioned Vernon Davis and Rudolph, might have more upside on a week-to-week basis, but Daniels should continue to be a steady, every-week play.

Notable Faller: Greg Olsen, Panthers. Olsen caught four of five targets last week, but he managed fewer than 38 yards for the second straight game. Olsen has had just two good games out of five this season, and with the Panthers' offense sputtering in general, Olsen is a borderline starter, at best.

Thursday Preview

Buccaneers at Vikings

Stat to know: Josh Freeman has racked up 1,047 yards and seven TDs in his past three games, but all of those contests have come in Tampa. In two road games this year, Freeman is averaging just 176.5 yards and has a 3:3 TD-to-INT ratio. The Vikings are allowing just over 219 passing yards and one passing TD per game at home this year. It could be a tough night for Freeman and his receivers.

Stud: TE Kyle Rudolph (Tampa allowing second-most passing yards per game).

Matt Lutovsky is a fantasy football writer for Sporting News' Fantasy Source. You can read more of his work on the Fantasy Source football homepage.


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