Week 7 Recap: Beyond the BoxScore
This game wasn't as entertaining as the 12 rounds of boxing that broke out during it. There were fights all over the field throughout the day. Rams defensive end Chris Long was ejected. Rams Wide receiver Brian Quick appeared to hit someone in the face, but was allowed to stay in. Steve Smith was always at the center of these donnybrooks, to the surprise of no one. He also put on some killer jukes to score a touchdown. He would have had a second but was tackled at the 1-yard line. Ted Ginn also came down three feet short of a score, which instead went to goal-line maven Mike Tolbert. He now has four touchdowns in his last three games. He's getting about 10 touches per week and isn't doing a whole lot else with them outside of these short plunges. He's an add only for the desperate. Who knows what his role will be when Jonathan Stewart possibly returns in a couple of weeks? Elsewhere on the Panthers' offense, it was another conservative day for Cam Newton, and DeAngelo Williams was a sizeable disappointment as he averaged just 2.7 yards per carry versus one of the worst run defenses in the NFL.
As expected, Sam Bradford was not able to capitalize on his Week 6 performance in Houston -- 117 yards, three touchdowns. On a day filled with defensive touchdowns across the league, Bradford's first pass of the day was tipped and returned 45 yards by Captain Munnerlyn for a score. But a below-average performance was far from the worst news of Bradford's day. He left this game in the fourth quarter after being shoved out of bounds and falling awkwardly toward the sideline. It was reported Sunday night that Bradford has a torn ACL. Kellen Clemens (who replaced Bradford) is the team's only active quarterback right now, so St. Louis will add another quarterback very soon. Did somebody say Tim Tebow?! Don't get your hopes up.
Zac Stacy displayed more impressive balance and hard running against another stiff defense. Moreover, he caught four passes, including a touchdown. Stacy will never wow you with his numbers, but he is very serviceable for an offense looking for any kind of juice in the running game. He has gotten 20 touches in back-to-back weeks and is a worthy flex or low-end RB2, even against the Seahawks next week.
Tavon Austin had a 63-yard touchdown called back due to a penalty and lost a fumble. Nothing has gone right for him.
You have been given another week to sell high on Ryan Mathews. He racked up 110 yards on 21 carries. He looked ... fine, but this was Jacksonville. He does return after the Chargers' Week 8 bye with a cushy matchup against the Redskins, but then he gets to face the Chiefs twice, the Broncos twice, and Bengals to name a few. Plus, I feel like we're just waiting for him to break something, I'm not sure why Danny Woodhead is getting carries on the goal line, but it's happening, and he converted one on Sunday. He is an every-week flex play, even in standard leagues. Keenan Allen didn't repeat his Monday-night success from Week 6, but he was targeted from the 1-yard line on three consecutive plays just before halftime, drawing two defensive penalties. No, he didn't score -- the Chargers didn't either as Philip Rivers tried to scramble for the score, but was tackled feet short of the goal line as time expired -- but those were very telling targets. Allen also departed the game due to an undisclosed injury, but returned a short while later.
What to say about the Jaguars? Chad Henne is probably better than Blaine Gabbert, but it's close. Justin Blackmon barely missed a touchdown as he couldn't get both feet in on an attempted third-quarter score. Cecil Shorts toughed it out with his shoulder injury. He caught eight passes on 13 targets. Reserve wideout Mike Brown made a couple of big plays. Maurice Jones-Drew accomplished very little again. It was a standard outing from a very, very bad team, and they get to face San Francisco in London next week. You should keep starting Blackmon and perhaps Shorts, but the rest of this crew is not worth it.
Speaking of San Francisco, the 49ers were dominant in Tennessee. The score isn't indicative of just how badly the Titans were beaten. Jake Locker threw two scores once the blowout was in effect in the fourth quarter, but he was under duress all day. Still, it's better than having Ryan Fitzpatrick back there, and he did find Kendall Wright consistently; he brought in another nine passes for 98 yards and remains a solid WR3 in PPR leagues. Chris Johnson was held to less than 40 yards on the ground, but he made up for it by turning a simple screen pass into a 66-yard touchdown. He is not as fast as he was a few years ago, but Johnson still has good speed and great elusiveness, and these are the kinds of things that can happen when the Titans get him out in space. So pray tell why can't this happen more often? Johnson caught all four of his targets.
Colin Kaepernick is running again! He rushed 11 times for 68 yards and a touchdown that was way too easy. That's more yards than he had gained in his previous four games combined. And why can't that happen more often? The Niners' offense was all about the ground game on Sunday. Frank Gore added two scores and has posted double-digit fantasy points in all but one game this season. This didn't leave much for Vernon Davis or Anquan Boldin, both of whom finished with less than 75 yards.
I'm running out of adjectives to describe Brandon Weeden's pathetic play. I guess pathetic works. At one point, I thought the Browns had to make the move to Jason Campbell, but what good would that have done? Weeden completed 17 of 42 throws and continued to take forever to make decisions in the pocket. Jordan Cameron was basically ignored through three quarters. Then he piled up five catches and a cheap, junk-time touchdown in the fourth quarter. It all counts in the end, but that kind of production isn't exactly dependable. Josh Gordon couldn't get in on the garbage-time fun; he and Weeden could connect only twice on six targets for 21 yards. He didn't record his first catch until the fourth quarter. Granted, the wet conditions in Green Bay contributed to Gordon falling down on routes a handful of times. The Browns travel to Kansas City next week. Considering how Weeden reacts to even the slightest amount of pressure, that game has a good chance of being historically ugly.
No worries with Aaron Rodgers playing without Randall Cobb and James Jones. He could probably lose a couple more weapons and still be a must-start. Jarrett Boykin has the biggest day among the Packers' receiving corps -- eight catches, 103 yards and a touchdown. He also had a 20-yard gain called back and was tackled at the 1-yard line at the end of a 37-yard reception. However, to kind of balance that out, his touchdown did come late in the fourth quarter as the Packers had the game well in hand, but Rodgers decided to keep throwing. Jordy Nelson was held in check by Joe Haden for most of the day, but was able to slip by him for a one-yard score on a slant in the fourth quarter. Eddie Lacy put up another stellar line -- 82 rushing yards and a touchdown -- but he also showed his versatility by catching five passes. He had just three catches for the year coming into Week 7. He'll be a RB1 for Week 8 against the Vikings.
Jermichael Finley's Sunday started off with one of the highlights entire weekend, bowling over four Browns defenders for a powerful 10-yard score. However, he had to be stretchered off the field early in the fourth quarter after taking a shoulder to the head. It was reported that he has feeling in all of his extremities, but he remained in intensive care at a local hospital as of Monday morning. Doctors are monitoring his status. He has not undergone surgery yet, and his status is uncertain.
Through three quarters, Case Keenum did not look like a quarterback making his first career regular-season appearance against one of the best defenses in the league. In fact, that defense couldn't touch him in the first half, and when there was pressure, Keenum did a nice job of evading it while continuing to look down the field. He made mostly smart throws, and the pretty rainbow toss for a 29-yard touchdown to DeAndre Hopkins was his best. The Chiefs' defense finally started breaking him down in the fourth quarter, sacking Keenum four times and causing a turnover. But I think the Texans had to be largely pleased with what they saw out of Keenum. In all, he completed 15 of 25 passes for 271 yards and a score. Andre Johnson still didn't score, but he didn't suffer much either, catching four passes for 89 yards. Keenum's performance was even better when you consider that Arian Foster was ruled out for this game after just four carries, because he aggravated a hamstring injury. The Texans' Week 8 bye is well-timed for him. Ben Tate replaced Foster and gained 55 yards on 17 touches.
Really disheartening news for Texans linebacker Brian Cushing: He has most likely sustained another season-ending injury.
Jamaal Charles gained more than 120 total yards and scored again as he continues to be money in the bank. Alex Smith needs to thank him and the Chiefs' defense every week for overshadowing his shortcomings as a quarterback. He continues to miss big plays and easy scoring chances. He threw a brutal fourth-quarter pick into triple coverage deep in Texans territory. He led tight end Anthony Sherman out of bounds on what should have been an easy touchdown as there was no one within five yards of Sherman. Smith made up for the errant throw by using his legs to score on the next play, but his arm is going to present problems for this team in the playoffs. Dwayne Bowe set a season-high with five catches and 66 receiving yards (facepalm).
Your typical Ravens-Steelers slobberknocker: Both teams were held to less than 300 yards of total offense, and the game was basically a battle of the kickers. Tight ends Heath Miller and Dallas Clark recorded the touchdowns in the game, but no other receiver had more than 65 yards. Ray Rice had a couple of shots to score from inside the 2-yard line but couldn't get in. He rushed for 45 yards on 15 carries. That's not great, but it was still better than Bernard Pierce -- six carries, 13 yards. The best player offensive player on the field was Le'Veon Bell. He showed good speed for a guy with his size, and the Steelers aren't shy about using him. He got 20 touches in this game, and after an 11-point fantasy effort against the Ravens' defense, Bell looks like a solid RB2 for Week 8 versus the Raiders.
In a game where points were at a premium, the Steelers left six on the field as wide receiver Derek Moye let what should have been a 20-yard touchdown pass from Ben Roethlisberger slip right through his hands.
Trent Richardson gained eight yards on his first two carries. Then it all went wrong. He got up from his second carry with a case of the wobbles and missed the next couple of series. After re-entering, he continued to look slow and unsure of himself. He lost a bunch of snaps to Donald Brown, and to top it off, Richardson fumbled inside his own 20-yard line early in the fourth quarter, right after Denver had scored to cut the Colts' lead to 13. The Broncos turned that turnover into a touchdown a couple of minutes later, and Richardson recorded just two carries the rest of the night. In all, Richardson finished with 37 yards on 14 carries and wasn't targeted in the passing game. The Colts are on bye this week, but Richardson is just a mid-range RB2 against Houston in Week 9.
It was a big win for the Colts on a night where the running game struggled once again, and Andrew Luck didn't depend on his top weapons to get him points. But the dark cloud over the victory is that Reggie Wayne possibly suffered a torn ACL. Such an injury would mean more targets for T.Y. Hilton, Darrius Heyward-Bey, and Coby Fleener, but it would be a gigantic loss for the entire offense, especially Luck.
The story of the game was obviously Peyton Manning's return to Indianapolis. But for fantasy purposes, he was fine. He wasn't perfect as he threw his third pick of the season and seemed a little rattled by the Colts' defensive pressure, which sacked him four times. But 386 yards and three touchdowns will always do. Wes Welker and Demaryius Thomas picked it up after a slow first half. Eric Decker, Knowshon Moreno, and Julius Thomas all scored. And yet, it was Ronnie Hillman losing a fumble at the 2-yard line as Denver was driving to take the lead late in the fourth quarter that cost the Broncos the game. He has fumbled in consecutive games after fumbling three times during the preseason. The Broncos can't stand to give him much work, if any.