Week 7 Recap: Beyond the BoxScore
So much for Matt Ryan struggling without his top two wideouts. He was nearly flawless against the Buccaneers, completing 20 of 26 passes for 273 yards, three touchdowns and no turnovers. Of course, Tampa Bay's nonchalant defense helped. Harry Douglas hauled in all seven of his targets for 149 yards and scored a 37-yard touchdown on which neither cornerback Johnthan Banks nor safety Dashon Goldson seemed interested in covering him. Jacquizz Rodgers and Jason Snelling split the carries, but Rodgers added eight receptions and scored twice. He will be a worthy flex option for as long as Steven Jackson is out.
At least Mike Glennon knows where his bread is buttered. He sent 22 passes toward Vincent Jackson, and you better do something big when you get 22 targets. Jackson did, as he gained 138 yards and scored twice. He made a ridiculous one-handed catch over Falcons cornerback Asante Samuel on his way to a 59-yard touchdown in the second quarter. Glennon has kept Jackson in must-start territory. Doug Martin's underwhelming season got even worse on Sunday. His 54 yards on 12 touches is one thing; the bigger story is that he left this game during the third quarter with a left shoulder injury and did not return. X-rays were negative, but he will undergo more tests on Monday. Martin left the stadium with his arm in a sling. Sleeper tight end Tim Wright caught just two passes for 16 yards and played on only about half of the snaps.
Update: Martin is out for the season with a torn labrum. Mike James (who carried the ball 14 times for 45 yards and caught three passes for 8 yards against Atlanta) is now Tampa Bay's lead running back.
The offensive stars in this game mirrored each other. The top wideouts for each squad dominated. A.J. Green and Calvin Johnson each posted 155 yards and got into the end zone. Johnson actually scored twice, adding a couple of fancy dunks over the crossbar at the end of them for emphasis. Johnson's second touchdown was vintage Megatron. Matthew Stafford scrambled around and hurled a prayer downfield just as he was about to get leveled by Bengals defensive end Michael Johnson. Calvin launched up between three defenders in the end zone and, of course, came down with the ball. Go watch that highlight and then swear you will never, ever think about benching Calvin Johnson when he's active.
Andy Dalton and Stafford each threw for well more than 300 yards and three touchdowns. However, the top running backs for each team left their fantasy owners wanting more. I guess Reggie Bush's 94 yards from scrimmage are OK, but the Bengals gave Giovani Bernard just seven carrries and he gained 27 yards; he added five catches for 32 yards. BenJarvus Green-Ellis received more carries -- 10-7 -- and rewarded his team with a mighty 2.4 yards per carry average. Overlooking the young, multi-talented Bernard for the slogging Green-Ellis is never a good look for Cincinnati. The Bengals' running game has a very tough matchup next week against the Jets.
On the defensive side of the ball for the Bengals, cornerback Leon Hall tore an Achilles tendon and is out for the year. Thus, opposing quarterbacks should find the going a little easier against Cincy's defense.
Speaking of frustrating running back committees, the Bills played the Dolphins in Week 7. Mike Wallace said earlier this week that his team had to run if they wanted to win more games. Overall, the Dolphins put up some solid numbers on the ground -- 25 carries, 120 yards -- but for fantasy purposes, it was another week of tearing your hair out if you started Lamar Miller. You saw the explosiveness as he zoomed up the middle for a 30-yard gain on just his third carry of the game. The Dolphins didn't stick with Miller; Daniel Thomas saw more carries. Unfortunately for Miller's owners, Thomas averaged 5 yards per carry and didn't really give the coaches a reason to pull him, even though Miller's run was the most impressive by either player on Sunday. It appears that the bye week did nothing to help Miller's cause; he is stuck in an even committee, and maybe we need to stop wondering when he will finally break out. It may not come this season without an injury to Thomas.
C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson spent most of the first half seeing which one could end more plays limping off the field. Spiller's ankle injury was clearly bothering him all day, and Jackson aggravated a knee injury early on, but at least he scored another short touchdown. Spiller has scored more than eight fantasy points just once since Week 2, and no matter what he says about feeling better, he certainly didn't look healthier on this day. The Bills don't go on bye for another four weeks, but it's clear that Spiller needs some time off. He aggravated his injury on a play where he went completely untouched, and he doesn't show his normal burst. Perhaps the Bills should sit him for a week. I've wanted to believe in Spiller's upside, but his fantasy owners should probably sit him as well until he gives you a reason to play him.
Brandon Gibson caught two touchdowns. Don't chase it.
Rob Gronkowski is back. Oh, yes, he is back. Tom Brady looked for his tight end early and often as Gronk ended up with eight catches on 17 targets for more than 100 yards. He didn't score, but he came close. He lost a possible touchdown pass in the sun, and he couldn't haul in another possible score with one hand as he was running free in the red zone with no defenders in front of him. Maybe best of all, Gronkowski took some hits and landed numerous times on his surgically repaired forearm. He came out no worse for wear.
However, it was another sub-par day for Brady. The Jets' defensive front, especially defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson, made Brady very uncomfortable in the pocket for most of the afternoon. The return of Gronkowski will undoubtedly help, but in his past three games, Brady has thrown one total touchdown and has averaged just 231 yards. He should be outside of the top 10 at quarterback ahead of Week 8's matchup versus the Dolphins. Stevan Ridley saw a near 60-40 split in the carries with Brandon Bolden. The good news is Ridley averaged 4.5 yards per carry and scored another touchdown. The presence of Bolden in this backfield keeps Ridley in flex range only, but at least he recorded a very useful fantasy line in what will probably be his toughest matchup for the rest of the year.
Chris Ivory doesn't need any help getting hurt again, but the Jets sure seemed to be pressing that issue on Sunday as Ivory was given 34 carries. His previous single-game career-high was 23. He gained only 104 with all of that work, so it's not a great yard-per-carry average, but the amount of opportunity puts Ivory on the flex radar immediately. Meanwhile, Bilal Powell handled just three carries, and head coach Rex Ryan said after the game that it was all part of the game plan. That is very Belichickian of Ryan. I wouldn't drop Powell just yet in 12-team leagues, because Ivory won't get this much work every week and he is injury-prone. But Ivory should be a popular add this week. He seems like a lock for at least fifteen carries per week for as long as he can stay on the field. That is, unless he doesn't fit into a specific game plan.
The assumed highest-scoring game of the week turned into a snoozer for most of the first half. The first points weren't put on the board until a Dan Bailey field goal at the 3:17 mark of the second quarter.
The Eagles were just stuck in the mud the entire day. LeSean McCoy had his worst game of the season and barely averaged three yards per carry. DeSean Jackson gained just 21 yards and would have caught a 30-yard touchdown if not for a great play by Cowboys rookie safety J.J. Wilcox. Nick Foles, a top-10 fantasy QB this week, was all out of sorts. He missed a wide-open Jason Avant for an easy touchdown, which was then almost turned into a freak turnover. He averaged a ghastly 2.8 yards per pass attempt and left the game early due to a possible concussion. It was a stunning display of ineptitude. Rookie Matt Barkley replaced Foles, and his second pass was intercepted. Fortunately for Barkley, it was negated by a Cowboys penalty. Unfortunately for Barkley, the three interceptions he threw later in the fourth quarter were not negated. Hurry back, Michael Vick! The Cowboys' defense shouldn't be playing this well considering all of the injuries they have incurred, but this squad has now shut down the Redskins' and Eagles' passing offenses in consecutive weeks. Maybe we need to start taking them more seriously or is this a fluke?
Joseph Randle is what I thought he was: very mediocre. Against a soft defense, the rookie could barely get what was blocked. The usage is encouraging -- 22 touches -- since DeMarco Murray will probably miss multiple games. But Randle is just a flex play. Hopefully he won't get vultured at the goal line by Phillip Tanner as he did on Sunday. There's no doubt now that Terrance Williams is the Cowboys' No. 2 wide receiver. He saw seven targets to Miles Austin's three, and he caught another touchdown. Cole Beasley also saw seven targets and caught six passes. He is worth watching in PPR leagues. A comparison to the likes of Danny Amendola and Wes Welker is low-hanging fruit, but yeah, he looks like those guys. Dez Bryant could have had a bigger day than 110 yards, but the Eagles seemed more content with holding and interfering him for most of the game.
Three touchdowns from Matt Forte is acceptable as he continues to thrive in Marc Trestman's offense. But three touchdowns from Roy Helu? Sorry, Alfred Morris owners. Two of the touchdowns came from inside the 5-yard line. Those carries will go to Morris on most days, but Helu was fortunate to be caught in the Redskins' "turbo" offense. This is not a repeatable performance, but Helu has been decent in recent weeks. He earned double-digit touches and gained at least 70 yards from scrimmage in Week 5 and 6. You could definitely do worse if you need a bye-week running back.
Bears quarterback Jay Cutler left this game in the second quarter with a groin injury. We will know more about the situation after a Monday MRI, but the fact that the Bears signed quarterback Jordan Palmer shortly after the game hints that this probably isn't just a minor strain. Josh McCown finished the game and had a hard time connecting with Brandon Marshall. At least Alshon Jeffery topped 100 yards. The Bears are on bye in Week 8.
Another solid rushing week from Robert Griffin III as he gained 84 yards on 11 carries . His accuracy seems to be a work in progress -- he threw a sinker to a wide-open Logan Paulsen in the end zone that should have been an easy touchdown toss -- but his improved trust in his legs is awesome to see. He has a chance to be an absolute fantasy dynamo in the second half of the season. Tight end Jordan Reed is the truth, kids. He caught all nine of his targets for 134 yards and a touchdown. He can line up all over the field and catch the ball on a variety of routes. He's just another outstanding athlete playing the tight end position. He needs to be owned in all leagues and perhaps started unless you have an elite option in front of him. Reed's breakout is fantastic news for RG3 as this offense is starved for a dependable second receiver behind Pierre Garcon. Reed is definitely that guy right now.