Week 7 Fantasy Football Recap: 6 Most Important Players to Analyze
It wasn't as crazy as Week 6, but some insane point totals put up by some Saints, Bucs, and Titans players still made this an interesting week in Fantasy Football. As always, here are some of the key names to know, how they performed in comparison to numberFire's expectations, and what to expect from them in the next couple weeks.
Locked on Target, Sir
Aaron Rodgers - Green Bay Packers
Week 7 Final Points: 25 (#3 QB)
numberFire Projected Points: 20.85 (#2 QB)
He's baaaaack. And numberFire knew it would happen.
Even going up against numberFire's #9 opponent-adjusted defense, we knew that Rodgers would not have any trouble in Week 7. Rodgers has now had two of his best games on the season against two different top ten defenses, and that bodes well going forward for his owners. Of the Packers' next six games, five come against teams that are ranked 14th or lower in defensive efficiency, and the one that isn't (Arizona) doesn't look like the same team they were at the beginning of the season.
For Rodgers, that means a lot more of the Discount Double Check move (or Touchdown Dance if you prefer to be generic and boring). Current early estimates see his Week 8 projected score at 22.36 fantasy points (FP) against Jacksonville. And for the rest of the season, our current projections have him no lower than 19.09 points (Week 15 vs. Chicago) the rest of the way.
Victor Cruz - New York Giants
Week 7 Final Points: 19 (#3 WR)
numberFire Projected Points: 15.28 (#1 WR)
You may be able to argue that he wouldn't have had nearly as good of a day without that game-winning 77-yard aerial assault that finally caused the D.C. metro area to burn their "D.C. Edition!" ESPN the Magazines. You would also be right; he only had 54 yards and no touchdowns otherwise. But those targets... you just can't argue with how much he's seeing the ball.
Eli Manning threw to Cruz a team-leading 11 times on Sunday, or 27.5% of his overall throws. And strangely enough, that's one of the least Cruz has been thrown to in recent weeks. Against San Francisco Week 6, that proportion was an outrageous 46.4% all Manning throws. In Week 4, he saw the ball 31.7% of the time. Week 2, that number was 33%. And he has not registered lower than eight targets in a single game all season. Even with a healthy Nicks in the lineup, Cruz is still getting his looks. With three straight bottom-half of the NFL defenses in Dallas, Pittsburgh, and Cincinnati coming up, don't expect to get that salsa music out of your head any time soon.
Where Did That Come From?
Chris Johnson - Tennessee Titans
Week 7 Final Points: 31 (#1 RB)
numberFire Projected Points: 12.08 (#8 RB)
He's baaaaack. And numberFire knew it would happen.
OK, well kind of. Not like we knew about Aaron Rodgers, at the very least. Trusting CJ2K is a hard thing to do, but we had him squarely as a "must start" for Week 7 as our #8 RB. On that end, we were one of the very few in the "likes him more" category.
This particular performance may have as much to do with the Bills' #31 opponent-adjusted defense as it does with Johnson, but I would still trust him based on the past couple of weeks. The Colts' #25 opponent-adjusted defense awaits, although two tough games against strong run defenses in Chicago and Miami await. But as long as the rest of the backs look like Johnson did at the beginning of the season (Jamie Harper had eight yards on seven carries, although two went for TDs), CJnow1K will get his quantity moving forward.
Vincent Jackson - Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Week 7 Final Points: 27 (#1 WR)
numberFire Projected Points: 9.78 (#15 WR)
Target practice has never been the issue for Jackson: his 60 targets entering Week 7 were 10th in the NFL, and he had 24 more than fellow receiver Mike Williams entering the week. The problem with Jackson has always been whether he'll actually catch the balls thrown his way. At a 45% catch rate so far this season, it surely did not seem that way.
But in Week 7, we saw... well, more of the same, actually. Jackson finished the game with a 50% catch rate on 14 targets, pretty much the exact same as what we've seen from him this season in both categories. The difference this time, though, was the come-from-behind long ball. After only having two catches for 33 yards in the first half, the Bucs were forced to air it out to come back, and Jackson was the beneficiary. Catches of 95 and 38 yards in the second half padded his score and allowed him to become this week's #1 receiver.
However, I would not count this high point total as a recurring theme moving forward. The Saints had the dead last defense in opponent-adjusted efficiency coming into this week. As long as Jackson continues his trend of Grab-Machine catching, these big games won't come that often.
But You Were Supposed To Do So Well!
Ben Roethlisberger - Pittsburgh Steelers
Week 7 Final Points: 13 (#13 QB)
numberFire Projected Points: 19.53 (#3 QB)
After hyping up the Steelers' penchant for throwing the pass before yesterday's game, Big Ben goes out and throws the ball only 55% of the time in Pittsburgh's win over Cincinnati. That's not a bad percentage for fantasy owners, but his "Reach for the stars!" expectations might have to be tempered a little going forward.
The problem for Roethlisberger was not his completion percentage (73%) or his running game for once (Dwyer had 122 yards on the ground), but rather his inability to throw the ball downfield. Two of his top three receiving targets, Heath Miller and Mike Wallace, had a yards per catch average in single-digits (Miller at 8.8 and Wallace at 6.5). Lead receiver Antonio Brown wasn't much better; he was at 13.7 yards on the day. The longest completion for Roethlisberger total was only 31 yards, and he only had three completions of longer than 20 yards on the game.
Perhaps Big Ben Bandwagoners should be worried. His 7.51 yards per attempt was only his fourth-highest on the season, exactly in line with his season average. But Roethlisberger has still not put up a game over 9.08 yards per attempt so far this season, and his two games against defenses ranked in the top half of the league have resulted in yards per attempt averages of 6.13 (Denver) and 5.79 (Philadelphia). Each of Pittsburgh's next two games (the Redskins and Giants) are against defenses ranked #14 or higher in our opponent-adjusted rankings.
Ray Rice - Baltimore Ravens
Week 7 Final Points: 5 (#29 RB)
numberFire Projected Points: 14.53 (#3 RB)
Don't freak out. Entering Week 6, the Ravens had rushed the ball on roughly 40% of their offensive plays. In Week 7, due to falling behind early, that number plummeted to only 22%. Against teams that don't get up by 26 at halftime, that proportion is not going to stay nearly as high.
Don't freak out. Rice's 54 all-purpose yards is his lowest amount since Week 13, 2010 against the Steelers. Before this game, his lowest combined rushing and receiving total this year had been 96 yards against the Browns. And he has been able to perform against solid defenses (both Philadelphia and Cleveland were in the top ten when Baltimore played them).
Don't freak out. After their bye, the Ravens face three straight defenses currently in the bottom half of the league in Cleveland, Oakland, and Pittsburgh. They do not face another top-ten defense until Week 15 against Denver. The schedule looks good for Ray Rice to get back on track quickly.