Week 7 Tight Ends
TE Notes: Jimmy Graham had a reputation as a leaper from his days as a basketball player. No one expected him to be so tough. Graham is ridiculously hard to take down after he makes the catch and his effort on each play is incredible. … Antonio Gates is a must-start if he plays. Don’t get too cute worrying about his injury or the Jets. … I didn’t trust Jared Cook to start the season and the same holds true now. He just isn’t on the field enough. … Dallas Clark may benefit more than anyone from Curtis Painter’s improvement. If Clark can just stop dropping passes, he could slowly rise the ranks. Week 7 Team Defense
Week 7 Kickers
The three most valuable fantasy players so far this season didn’t go early. Fred Jackson was a RB3/4 afterthought in most leagues. Wes Welker dropped deep into WR2 territory coming off a down year. And Saints tight end Jimmy Graham was usually not one of the first six tight ends off the board.Graham is quietly on pace for the most ridiculous tight end season of all time. The record at the position for yards in a season is 1,280 by Kellen Winslow. Graham is on pace for 1.648.In some ways, Graham is a throwback to the days of John Mackey, when tight ends were counted on for big plays rather than moving the chains. In other ways, he feels like the future of the NFL.Teams try to cover Graham with safeties, linebackers, and cornerbacks. He beats them all. New Orleans has so many weapons and alignments that defenses can’t seem to key on him enough to slow him down.There was an argument back in August that Graham wasn’t worth the fantasy hype. It’s a reminder that sometimes the hype isn’t enough. The owners that took Graham “too early” got the single best value in the draft.Week 7 Quarterbacks
QB Notes: I watched Tim Tebow’s half against the Chargers and it wasn’t pretty. He started with back-to-back-to-back three and outs typified by ugly throws. He locks into a primary receiver and can’t seem to move off him. He’s not composed in the pocket at all. And I’d still start him this week.Denver’s two scoring drives came on short fields, but Tebow’s running ability makes him such a safe fantasy option. All he needs to do is hit a couple of well-designed screens, like he did to Knowshon Moreno and San Diego. His rushing will do the rest. I have my doubts Tebow will be a quality NFL quarterback, but he’s already a top-ten fantasy option. Don’t expect the passing yards he had last year, but expect him to score plenty against Miami. Philip Rivers has had too much Patrick Crayton, Randy McMichael, and Kory Sperry in his life this year. Hopefully that changes this week with Antonio Gates back and his starting wideouts truly healthy. Rivers has earned the right to start every week, even against the Jets. … Ryan Fitzpatrick has been compared to a point guard this year as a distributor. Drew Brees is a similar style player, except he has more weapons and arm strength. … Cam Newton has made loose throws from day one. They are starting to get caught more now, so people are noticing. It doesn’t make a difference as long as he keeps running. And there are still a few wow throws after moving in the pocket each game. Carolina has run more options plays lately, which almost seem unnecessary. This is Newton’s toughest test yet, but he’s earned every-week starter status.It didn’t quite show up in the box score, but Sam Bradford had his best game of the season against Green Bay. He was hurt by drops and penalties by his teammates. He made good decisions and on target throws. With Mark Clayton back and Brandon Lloyd in town, things could improve quite a bit from here. … The Rams no longer have a dangerous pass rush. This should be a bounce back Tony Romo week.I’m really down on Matt Ryan until proven otherwise. His accuracy is off and the Falcons are getting less aggressive with him as a result. Losing Julio Jones potentially for another week hurts too. … I expect Carson Palmer to put up similar numbers to what Jason Campbell did in Oakland. Palmer hasn’t been any better as a starter over the last three years.
Week 7 Running Backs
RB Notes: The Broncos rush defense can easily be pushed around. It should be a solid day for Daniel Thomas. I’ve also been surprised how San Diego’s defense isn’t holding up against halfway decent ground games. This is a fine matchup for Shone Greene. … Ryan Mathews has quickly turned me into a believer. He’s a slick runner, able to avoid the big hit. His lateral movement sticks out and allows him to make people miss on inside runs and out. He’d rather get to the outside and that should be doable against an overrated Jets rush defense. San Diego’s offensive line is strong. They opened up holes big enough two weeks ago that Jacob Hester looked like a threat.Denver’s running game seemed to be improving before their bye week. Expect Willis McGahee to remain the lead guy in a fine matchup against Miami. … Darren Sproles continues to have the most consistent role on the Saints. He’s been a lot of fun to watch, ducking under defenders and running in short-yardage more than you think. Sproles is a young Kevin Faulk on crack; great at running out of passing situations. This could be a Mark Ingram kind of week, though. New Orleans could build a big lead and run a power game against a small Colts front. Defenses have to account for Cam Newton the runner, which is helping DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart in the running game. All of the option stuff especially has helped uncork some big plays. … It’s time to start considering the Cowboys defense a tough matchup. That doesn’t bode well for Steven Jackson. S-Jax just can’t get to the outside when he needs to anymore. … DeMarco Murray is a solid RB2 this week because of the matchup. He goes for the big play too much and won’t usually rank so high, but it doesn’t beat a home game against the Rams.Ryan Torain needs a big game and has the right matchup. Unfortuantely, the Redskins are down two offensive lineman. If Torain doesn’t start the game hot, expect to see more of Roy Helu and Tim Hightower if he’s healthy. This will be a fluid situation all year. I can’t imagine ever truly trusting Torain.
Week 7 Wide Receivers
WR Notes: Malcom Floyd didn’t do a great job stepping up when his teammates weren’t at 100% for much of the first five games. There’s no reason to trust him now. … Champ Bailey looked like his old self before the bye week. That’s more bad news for Brandon Marshall owners that had to watch him run out of bounds for no reason on Monday night. … Marques Colston’s health hurts Robert Meachem. Drew Brees doesn’t look to the outside that much. I wouldn’t give up on Lance Moore yet. He’s been close to some big plays and had some bad breaks this year. If Dez Bryant doesn’t catch any second half passes against Justin King, Al Harris, and company then he never will. (And he will. Starting this week.) … It’s criminal that the Falcons don’t throw deep to Roddy White anymore. I’d buy low on him long term. … Joe Haden’s availability will affect Sidney Rice’s value this week. At this stage, it looks like Haden will play. … I would take Brandon Lloyd in St. Louis over Brandon Lloyd with Tim Tebow in Denver. He should give solid WR2 value.There are legitimate fears that Percy Harvin’s value will be sunk by Christian Ponder. The rookie didn’t look remotely ready in August. There were some decent moments by Ponder in garbage time last week. … Until everyone is healthy and fully back, I’d consider Eric Decker the top wideout in Denver. … You could do worse than Steve Breason if you have a bye week problem this week. Same goes for Jacoby Jones. … Arrelious Benn should be owned at this point. It’s like he never had knee surgery.