No real intro this week except to say thanks to our Editor-in-Chief, JJ Zachariason, for ably filling in for me last week while I was in Mexico not drinking the water. For the record, Chichen Itza is amazing. If you get a chance to go, do yourself a solid and make it happen. You won’t regret it.
Seahawks 34, Cardinals 22
Nothing like starting the recap off with a game that gives us almost nothing interesting to talk about. I’ll hit the high points.
- Larry Fitzgerald has two bad hamstrings. He is not creating separation and until he is healthy, it is going to be a boom-or-bust situation. Start him at your own risk.
- It is too difficult to know which Seattle wide receiver will do what in a given week. The impending return of Percy Harvin won’t help that. This is a situation to avoid.
- I am not reading anything into Rob Housler’s solid game. Considering how non-existent he has been, even if it's been because of injuries, I need to see more before he enters the TE2 discussion.
- Until Bruce Arians realizes what we all already know, Andre Ellington is nothing more than a bench stash. If he ever gets on the right side of the touches split, he has flex appeal, especially in PPR leagues.
Buy: Russell Wilson as a legit QB1 for the rest of the season (ROS).
Sell: Rashard Mendenhall. He is awful, the line is awful, the way they use him is awful. Not butterscotch candy awful, but close.
Hold: Michael Floyd has really come on as a potential WR3 in PPR.
Falcons 31, Buccaneers 23
Harry Douglas is not a particularly good football player. From our friend Evan Silva over at Rotoworld, “Douglas has started six games over the past three seasons. His stat lines: 5-68, 5-48, 2-57, 4-62, 4-51, and 1-3. No TDs.” This was a lot of fun for those of us who were forced to play him this week, but it is an aberration. Don’t get excited.
The big news on the other side of the ball was Doug Martin leaving with a bum shoulder. He seems to think he is going to be OK and X-rays were negative, but nothing definitive has been said. Tampa Bay is on a short week, so approach this situation with caution. Mike James is the guy to snag, but Tampa has Carolina on Thursday night, which isn’t exactly a great matchup.
Buy: Mike Glennon’s ability to maintain the value of the Buccaneers skill players.
Sell: Harry Douglas as anything more than an uninspiring WR3, especially once Roddy White returns.
Hold: Tony Gonzalez had a poor game, but he was blanketed all day, especially in the red zone. Gonzo no longer possesses the physical skills necessary to beat this sort of coverage, but assuming White comes back reasonably soon, things should open back up for him.
Bengals 27, Lions 24
These two teams were so similar in what they did, so I'm going to save time and make generic statements that cover both (this should be fun).
Number 1 Wide Receiver had a great game with many catches, yards, and touchdowns. After posting some so-so games here and there, he is a top option for the rest of the season.
The dynamic pass-catching running back had a bit of a quiet day, but should still be a trusted start week in and week out.
It was a big day for Quarterback with three touchdowns and more than 350 yards through the air.
Buy: Andy Dalton in good matchups. But avoid him like you avoid your halitosis stricken aunt at your cousin’s wedding if he faces a reasonable pass D.
Bonus Buy: Matt Stafford is having a very nice year. Better than most are giving him credit for, Stafford could finish as a top five (or higher) quarterback.
Sell: BenJarvus Green-Ellis as a weekly flex play. He has value in deeper leagues but is simply too inconsistent to trust.
Hold: Kris Durham. I know it feels gross, but he seems to be at least a bye-week fill-in for PPR leaguers. The targets are there and he has 12, 16.3, and 9.1 PPR points the last three weeks (9, 8.3, 4.1 in standard).
Bonus Hold: The Bengals defense has lost Leon Hall for the season to a torn Achilles. Losing their best cornerback has potential to disrupt their secondary in a significant way. The Jets are not likely to challenge the secondary too much this coming week, but the situation should be monitored.
Bills 23, Dolphins 21
The Bills are a long way away from their Week 12 bye and have several tough matchups upcoming. Because of this and because C.J. Spiller is clearly not healthy, I think it is time to give him the Roddy White treatment by sticking him on your bench until we see something positive. Unless news comes out that he looks good in practice this week, if you have a reasonable option to play over him, go for it.
I’ll say the same thing about Thad Lewis that I said about Mike Glennon above: He seems to be capable of doing enough to keep the Bills skill player’s value afloat. For a team’s fourth option at quarterback, that seems pretty reasonable.
The Dolphins had basically the same game they have all year on offense. Brian Hartline and Mike Wallace were fine, Ryan Tannehill was good enough, the running back situation was messy - this is exactly what we have come to expect from Miami.
Buy: Brandon Gibson as more than just a bye week fill-in. He has scored at least 10.9 points in PPR leagues in five of six games this year and is even showing a little standard league value (seven or more points in four games). His skills are meh, but Tannehill trusts him and is showering him with targets (eight or more in four games).
Sell: C.J. Spiller until he is healthy.
Hold: WR3’s abound. Mike Wallace, Brian Hartline, and Stevie Johnson all have similar value but none are separating themselves from the pack.
Jets 30, Patriots 27
Remember when Tom Brady was awesome? Yeah, me too. Amid all the (justifiable) running back bust talk this season, Mr. Brady has somehow eluded hatred from the fantasy community. And while this game was the one that was supposed to change his fortunes, as Rob Gronkowski made his very successful return to the field, it didn’t really turn out that way. It seems almost impossible, but Brady didn’t throw for a touchdown for the second time in three games after nearly breaking the record for consecutive games with a TD pass. It is hard for most people to bench him, but if you also own Philip Rivers, Russell Wilson, or another such player, it is time to seriously consider it. It may feel dirty, but you should be willing to consider letting him have a big game on your bench before you get back into the Brady Business.
Coming into this game, Chris Ivory had 34 carries for 115 yards on the season. In Week 7 alone he had 34 for 104. At the post game presser Rex Ryan said it was a game plan thing, as the Jets attempted to take advantage of a depleted Patriots run defense (they are down two DTs and an MLB). How this carries into next week is anybody’s guess, but with a trip to Cincinnati and their stout front seven, you have to think Bilal Powell will get more work as the Jets dial up a few more passes.
Buy: Stevan Ridley had a nice game in limited carries versus a tough run defense. He has clearly overtaken LeGarrette Blount and with Gronk back, who is a very good blocker, running lanes should open. His arrow is pointing up.
Sell: Over the first four games, Kenbrell Thompkins averaged 9.75 targets per contest. Since then he has averaged 5.3. He is a touchdown-dependent rookie who is on a team with a healthy Gronk, who figures to steal a ton of those red zone looks. Thompkins is droppable in 10 (and probably 12) team leagues and should be benched in all others until further notice.
Hold: Your Gronk teddy bear. He is good at football and cuddling.
Cowboys 17, Eagles 3
20 total points? Really?
And that’s all I’ve got to say about that.
Buy: Terrance Williams as a guy that should be owned, if not started, in all leagues. Miles Austin is cooked, creating opportunity. If the Dallas offense can get rolling again, Williams has eventual WR3 upside.
Sell: Nick Foles, Miles Austin, Riley Cooper, and Zach Ertz. Foles probably ended his Eagles career with this performance, Austin is either not healthy or just plain used up, Cooper had no value before Foles and likely won’t after, and Ertz is not a part of this offense.
Hold: Both offenses. The Cowboys do this every year. Wait it out. The Eagles had a bad game. Be patient.
Redskins 45, Bears 41
The Bears are quickly becoming the most injury-plagued team in the NFL. Their defense is decimated, adding Charles Tillman (again) and Lance Briggs to the injury list in Week 7. The Bears didn’t update their status after the game and are on a bye in Week 8, so details will likely be sparse for now. If either misses time, it makes the Bears defense an even more attractive target for matchup plays.
Speaking of injuries, Jay Cutler left late in the second quarter with a groin issue. Again, the Bears have not said anything, but reports indicate they are very worried. Josh McCown looked good in his absence, but Washington is not exactly the ’85 Bears defensively. I have a column scheduled to come out later this week where I will talk about this exact situation in great detail, so keep an eye out.
The Redskins had a dynamite day on offense. RG3 looked fully back and the running backs had their way with the tattered Bears D. It was the type of game that can launch a team into the second half. Perhaps the biggest performance came from rookie tight end, Jordan Reed. He looked fast, physical, and showed good hands. But before we anoint him the next Julius Thomas, there is one caveat: He was incredibly, unbelievably wide open on nearly all of his catches. It was stunning to see how freely he was running over the middle of the field. I think there are legitimate TE1 possibilities here, but this is very likely his best game of the season by a good margin.
Buy: Redskins offense.
Sell: Bears defense as good in any facet.
Hold: Bears offense until we know more about Cutler.
Panthers 30, Rams 15
The Rams receiving options were pretty much unstartable already, and that won’t change much with Sam Bradford reportedly suffering a torn ACL. Rookie Zac Stacy could be the greatest beneficiary of the injury as it stands to reason they will lean on the run game more. Stacy has been solid, if unspectacular in his three starts. He is a flex play going forward.
In Bradford’s absence, Kellen Clemens will take the snaps. He has had an unremarkable career thus far, but it isn’t as though he will be replacing greatness. It is hard to believe this change does much of anything to the value of any Rams receiving option.
Buy: Cam Newton continues to look fantastic as of late. Patient owners are being rewarded with some great play. We like him as a top-five passer the rest of the way.
Bonus Buy: This post-game interview from Steve Smith. It is fantastic. Really, really fantastic.
Sell: Now might be the time to bail on DeAngelo Williams. His play is slipping as the season progresses and Jonathan Stewart is reportedly close to a return.
Hold: Steve Smith has had an undistinguished 2013 but does have 10 receptions on 13 targets for 90 yards and two touchdowns the past two weeks. Along with Cam, he could be heating up.
Chargers 24, Jaguars 6
Nobody wants to read about this game. Limericks were a hit a couple weeks back, so let’s try some Haiku’s.
An old quarterback
Runner made of glass
Starting to have an impact
Poor game always lurks
Old man called Jones-Drew
Power and speed in past life
Feet of heavy stone
Jaguars roam jungles
These felines are but kittens
Letting namesake down
Buy: Ryan Mathews? I mean, I guess he is a flex play. Just remember that three weeks ago he had eight yards.
Sell: Eddie Royal, Maurice Jones-Drew. Selling for different reasons, but I don’t want either on my team (and Royal doesn’t even belong on rosters).
Hold: A match to some incense and read some poetry. It is good for the soul.
49ers 31, Titans 17
Wouldn’t you know it? I wrote a column ragging on Chris Johnson and he rewards me with his best game of 2013. Why not? Regardless, my opinion is unchanged.
I said in this space a few weeks ago that Colin Kepernick was a young player bound to have rough stretches. The last couple weeks have been a solid reward for those who were patient. And with a game against the Jags next week, you should expect to see things keep rolling, especially if he keeps running.
Buy: Kendall Wright as a solid WR3 in PPR leagues. He has been very good all season, finally starting to capitalize on his talent.
Sell: Chris Johnson (you knew I was going to say that).
Hold: Anquan Boldin. It was nice to see him post a decent game after a couple stinkers. It seems like the consistency may be hard to come by, but the Jags lurk in Week 8, so expect good things.
Packers 31, Browns 13
How Jason Campbell hasn’t gotten a shot in Cleveland, I will never know, but I assume it has something to do with Brandon Weeden having pictures of Coach Chud driving a golf cart wearing only a Carmen Miranda hat. The (surprisingly) good news is that Jordan Cameron has been just fine when the former Oklahoma State quarterback starts, averaging over 12 points per game. Josh Gordon has had a tougher go of it, but he fared fine in 2012 with Weeden under center. So, while I am not panicking, I do think some concern is warranted, especially where Gordon is concerned. The top-15 ceiling he displayed with Brian Hoyer seems to be wishful thinking.
Eddie Lacy continues to climb the ladder into RB1 territory. If you’ve been reading me long, you know I love him like that weird kid in study hall loves sharpening his pencil. Lacy’s skills are a perfect complement to the Packers high powered offense. It should be a great marriage for years to come.
Buy: Eddie Lacy as a RB1 ROS.
Bonus Buy: I like Fozzy Whittaker. I thought the Chargers should have given him a longer look this year, perhaps releasing Ronnie Brown instead. Now a Brown, Whittaker is more quick than fast, can catch the ball out of the backfield, and is seeing more and more snaps, especially on passing downs. Not addable in 10- or 12-team leagues, he is purely somebody to keep in mind if you play in a 14-plus teamer or dynasty league, especially if they use PPR scoring.
Sell: For the fifth consecutive week, the Browns running game.
Hold: Jarrett Boykin. He had a great game, but we will need to see him operate in the offense with James Jones back on the field. If he isn’t owned, pick him up, but bye week needs permitting, maybe give it another week before you stick him in your lineup.
Chiefs 17, Texans 16
Case Keenum comported himself quite well in his first NFL start, especially considering the caliber of defense he faced. It got a little ugly at times in the second half, but there were signs of potential goodness. With Matt Schaub likely healthy after their Week 8 bye, it will be interesting to see how the Texans handle this situation. In my opinion, Schaub is better for their skill player’s fantasy value, but I’m assuming Gary Kubiak won’t take that into consideration.
Arian Foster left the game with a reaggravation of his hamstring pull. We won’t know much until after their Week 8 bye, but if he can’t go, Ben Tate will likely provide about 90 percent of what Foster does on a weekly basis.
Kansas City is very good, but Alex Smith is going to end up biting them in the behind at some point.
Buy: Jamaal Charles as the number one running back in all the land at year’s end.
Sell: Arian Foster staying healthy for any sort of extended period.
Hold: Texans receivers.
Steelers 19, Ravens 16
Front seven holds ground
Blockers not opening holes
Ravens Rice useless
Awful game to watch
Waste of time to write about
Skip to buy/sell/hold
Buy: Le’Veon Bell as a solid, every-week RB2. The Steelers may be bad, but their schedule is the opposite. With juicy matchups against Oakland, New England’s decimated front seven, and the Bills the next three weeks, Bell is going to have plenty of room to run.
Sell: Ray Rice. He says he is healthy. If true, that is a bad sign. I just sat down and watched all his carries from this game and can confirm what others are saying: he is very slow to the hole (when their brutal line actually creates one). It could be that he aged suddenly, but I reckon that hip flexor is more of an issue than he is letting on. The reason is inconsequential because the fact is that he is not a good player right now. I’ll give the same advice here I did for C.J. Spiller above: If you can find a reasonable replacement, don’t be afraid to sit him and wait for his health to come around.
Hold: Following a torrid start to 2013, Torrey Smith has had a couple bleh games. Chalk it up to two tough matchups (Ike Taylor and Sam Shields are both very good cover corners) and move on.
Colts 39, Broncos 33
Twitter was abuzz Sunday night with talk of Peyton Manning’s arm strength. Following the awkward hit he took on the play that resulted in a safety, Eli’s older brother looked as bad as he has since last year’s playoff loss to the Ravens. His passes had no zip and were almost mostly ducks. As ever, Manning somehow pushed through, bailing Wes Welker owners out late and giving the Colts a scare at home. My number one storyline for Week 8 will be how Manning’s arm looks.
Reggie Wayne left the field late in the fourth following a non-contact injury to his right knee. The Colts are calling it a sprain, but still plan an MRI. We should all be holding our breath as any sort of tear may end the career of one of the best players of the 2000’s and would be a massive blow to the Colts offense.
I am unintentionally making a name for myself as a ardent defender of Trent Richardson. I had planned a longer column on this, and may still get there, but for now I will reiterate my opinion here in brief.
Richardson undeniably has elite skills in terms of size, speed, power, and acceleration. When he hits a hole hard, he is very difficult to tackle without help. He catches the ball well when given the opportunity and is not a liability in pass protection. None of this has changed from last year or during his time at Alabama.
Despite middling results, I personally thought Richardson had his best game in a Colts uniform on Sunday night. Through the first three plus quarters he looked as decisive (more on this in a moment) as I have seen him all season. The issue, at least in this particular game, was not Richardson; it was the Broncos run defense. Donald Brown, who has had some success as of late, was also bottled up, logging 11 carries for 23 yards (Richardson had 14 for 37). According to the numberFire metrics, Richardson has been a bottom 20 running back this season.
Prior to this game, the former Alabama standout has looked tentative behind the line of scrimmage. This was an issue at times last year as well, but to a lesser degree. I am not a scout or coach, so I won’t speculate as to why this is happening or how to fix it, but I do believe it is something than can be coached. Whether coaching helps Richardson turn that corner, only time will tell.
If the Colts come out of the bye and Richardson has poor outings against the now Brian Cushing-less Texans (he tore up his knee against the Chiefs) and sieve like-Rams, I’ll bail for the rest of 2013. But until then let’s all keep this in mind: In his first 12 games after being traded to the Seahawks, Marshawn Lynch posted 573 yards and 3.47 yards per carry (YPC). In his first seven games he had 3.1 YPC and in his first five he posted 2.93 YPC. Last I checked, Lynch turned out just fine. So let’s not hold a funeral for Richardson’s fantasy value quite yet.
Buy: If Reggie Wayne misses any time, T.Y. Hilton should see a huge uptick in output. An interesting add would be LaVon Brazill, a talented but troubled 24-year-old receiver. He would likely slide into Hilton’s role if Wayne is out.
Sell: Jim Irsay. I don’t care what he meant with his little diatribe this week. That guy spends way too much time garnering attention for himself. Stay in the background where owners belong.
Hold: Your breath and pray Manning’s arm is OK.