TE Notes: According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, there’s “not a lot of optimism” on Jimmy Graham after missing practice Wednesday. Graham’s sprain appears to be of the high-ankle variety, which typically sidelines players for 2-4 weeks. If Graham is on your roster, don’t count on having him available for Week 7. Backup David Thomas is only a desperation fantasy option. I suspect Devery Henderson and Lance Moore will be the primary beneficiaries of Graham’s absence. Even though he was on the field for fewer than half the offensive snaps in his first game back from his own high-ankle sprain, Aaron Hernandez saw an encouraging nine targets at Seattle. He’s back to no-brainer status against a Jets defense that doesn’t cover tight ends well. … Expect the 49ers to make an effort to get the ball into their best playmaker’s hands against a Seattle defense that has been middle-of-the-road against tight ends. Dennis Pitta is due for a breakout game versus a Texans defense minus Brian Cushing. … Jermichael Finley has to prove that his confidence isn’t shot and his shoulder is healthy before he’s considered more than a borderline fantasy play. … The Bears often leave the middle of the field open in their Cover 2 looks, but Pettigrew’s play has fallen off the past few weeks. … Scott Chandler has the best matchup of the week against a Titans defense that has been shredded by tight ends. He hasn’t scored since Week 4. Fred Davis’ yards have been encouraging, but he’s off RG III’s radar in the red zone. … Martellus Bennett isn’t listed on the injury report this week, but I need to see that he’s moving well on that messed-up knee before revisiting his TE1 value. He’s averaging three targets the past three weeks after an average of 7.7 the first three. … Jermaine Gresham is averaging 60 yards over the past four games, but his 55-yard touchdown at Cleveland was the slowest you will ever see from a skill-position player. Week 7 Defense/Special Teams
Week 7 Kickers
If you can land Adrian Peterson in a trade, it’s time to take advantage of the misguided notion that he’s not scoring touchdowns because Toby Gerhart is too often replacing him in scoring territory. Among all NFL backs, only Arian Foster and Jackie Battle have more carries inside the 5-yard line. It can be argued that Peterson lost two touchdowns to Kyle Rudolph late in last week’s game. Peterson dove into the end zone on a play-action fake that ended up going to a wide open Rudolph for a 1-yard score. On the game-ending drive, Peterson had waltzed in from a yard out only to have the touchdown nullified by Rudolph’s slight movement for a false start penalty. Christian Ponder ended the game with an interception two plays later. The most recent exhibit in the case for Adrian Peterson, Athletic Freak: In his first six weeks back from shredding his ACL, MCL and meniscus, Peterson is rated by Pro Football as the No. 1 back in the NFL. Another promising sign: Week 6 saw a season-high in targets, receptions and receiving yards for Peterson. The touchdowns are coming against a Cardinals defense that surrendered 193 yards and two scores to the C.J. Spiller-Fred Jackson tag-team a week ago. The Vikings offense has been one of the most exciting to watch in the NFL, featuring perhaps the league's most explosive running back and wide receiver. What do we expect with two Jordans and no Pippens?
Week 7 Quarterbacks
QB Notes: Busting out of his so-called slump at Houston, Rodgers joined Tom Brady (twice), Peyton Manning, Y.A. Tittle and Mark Rypien as the only quarterbacks in NFL history with six touchdowns, zero interceptions and 300+ yards in a game. Rodgers is now back where he belongs atop the fantasy points list. Don’t overreact to Tom Brady’s inability to hold the lead at Seattle. He’s still throwing better than any quarterback in the league, and he’s dissected the Jets defense in their past three regular season meetings. … John Madden on Robert Griffin III’s electrifying 76-yard touchdown run: “In the history of football, I’ve never seen a quarterback run that fast.” RGIII is on pace for an historically great season of 3,581 passing yards, 1,040 rushing yards and 16 rushing touchdowns. He’s been unholy amalgamation of Randall Cunningham and Steve Young.Producing regardless of the health of his key weapons, Eli Manning draws a Redskins secondary allowing the fourth-most points to opposing quarterbacks. … Big Ben is carrying the Steelers right now. ... Cam Newton still leads the NFL in yards per attempt. … Is Tony Romo now relegated to bye-week fill-in? … Andrew Luck is on pace for over 4,700 passing yards and an NFL record 803 dropbacks this season. The volume is there. … Stafford’s mechanics are “atrocious,” according to NFL Films’ Greg Cosell. He needs to play with more urgency in the first three and a half quarters. Flacco is due for a big game. The Ravens offense barely had the ball in the second half last week. … Dalton’s fantasy numbers may scream QB1, but his play on the field has not. NFL Network’s Michael Lombardi still wonders if he’s the long-term solution in Cincinnati. Soft defenses and A.J. Green’s dominance have propped up Dalton’s numbers early this season. … With a healthy receiving corps, Hasselbeck is a fine bye-week filler against a Bills secondary allowing the most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks. This game has sneaky shootout potential with two miserable defenses. … Freeman has a fine matchup at New Orleans, and last week’s stat line suggested a career game, but he didn’t play that well. Propped up by a pair of fluky long touchdowns, Freeman essentially threw the ball up and allowed his receivers to make plays. Bradford is playing much better than his numbers suggest, but he needs a major talent infusion on the offensive line and at the skill positions. … So much for that alleged improvement we read about all summer. Gabbert is last in the NFL in yards per attempt (5.45) and third-down YPA (4.19) while sitting 29th in passer rating.
Week 7 Running Backs
RB Notes: Foster is averaging just 3.8 yards per carry and 6.5 yards per reception, leading Pro Football Focus to rate him just 18th among NFL backs to date. His saving grace in fantasy leagues is touchdowns, which is no surprise considering his league-high 12 carries inside the 5-yard line, including six from the 1-yard line. This season, 41 percent of all carries inside the 5-yard line result in a touchdown.McFadden’s offensive line is one of the five worst run-blocking units in the NFL. It comes as no surprise that McFadden’s two longest Week 6 runs were called back on holding penalties. The good news is that no other back has an easier run defense schedule going forward. … Brandon Bolden didn’t participate in Wednesday’s walkthrough, leaving his status in doubt for Week 7. Bolden had essentially been replacing Stevan Ridley for a series here and there to keep the latter’s legs fresh while the Pats rack up record snap counts in their Oregon-style up-tempo offense. Ridley should be in store for a heavy workload against a Jets defense giving up the second-most rushing yards in the league. Trent Richardson practiced Wednesday and declared himself pain-free, but coach Pat Shurmur suggested he could cede carries to Montario Hardesty if the rib injury is a factor later in the week. Keep an eye on Richardson’s practice reports leading up to an otherwise attractive matchup with the Colts. … Don’t let another owner poach C.J. Spiller from your roster. He produced an absurd 281.3 elusive rating at Arizona, forcing nine missed tackles on 16 touches. Better yet, he boasts a gaudy 7.6 YPC average on the season compared to Fred Jackson’s 2.9. As The Fake Football’s Mike Braude points out, the difference is equivalent to Matt Forte’s 4.7 YPC average. Spiller is a must-start in a home game versus a Titans defense allowing the fourth-most points to opposing fantasy backs.Felix Jones’ burst was missing early this season, but he found it coming out of the bye week against the Ravens. In an especially promising sign, Jones even ran hard on inside runs at Baltimore. The matchup couldn’t be better at a Carolina defense that has been trucked by the likes of Andre Brown and a washed-up Michael Turner. … Chris Johnson is averaging 100 yards per game at 4.3 per carry the past three weeks. He faces the league’s friendliest run defense on Sunday.The deck is stacked against Lynch this week. In games following Jim Harbaugh’s previous four losses with the 49ers, his opponents have scored 11 points -- combined. The schedule doesn’t get much easier for Lynch, either. … It’s a shame for Bradshaw that his chronic foot injuries are resurfacing, but the time to sell high was last week, not this week. He who hesitates is lost. Bradshaw is expected to practice Thursday, with the inference that he will play in perhaps a limited role versus the Redskins. Coach Jeff Fisher assured NFL Network Wednesday night that Steven Jackson is “still our guy,” and Daryl Richardson is a “nice little change-up.” The Rams are wary of wearing S-Jax down, but he’s locked in as the starter. For what it’s worth, Pro Football Focus grades Jackson significantly higher than Richardson through six weeks. … I suspect Rashard Mendenhall has a better chance than Ike Redman of playing at Cincinnati. Check our news scroll on Friday afternoon for an update. Coach Mike McCarthy was “very pleased” with Alex Green’s first start and sees no reason he can’t “carry a full load” going forward. Green’s power and burst were promising enough at Houston, but he showed very little wiggle. … Ballard missed a few holes early last week, which have contributed to his low carry total. … David Wilson may be a “superior talent,” but it was Andre Brown who took the bulk of the first-team reps with Bradshaw sidelined in Wednesday’s practice. La’Rod Stephens-Howling predictably flunked his audition for the starting role, failing to break a run of more than three yards on any of his first six carries. William Powell may have looked “quick and decisive” against the NFL’s worst run defense, but he’s in for a rude awakening in Minnesota. The Cardinals’ run blocking is far and away the worst in the NFL. … LeGarrette Blount is a decent bet for a score against a Saints defense allowing more than a touchdown per game on the ground.
Week 7 Wide Receivers
WR Notes: A.J. Green is the hottest receiver in fantasy and has a much better matchup this week against Ike Taylor, who has resorted to grabbing opposing wideouts because he can no longer cover them. … Calvin Johnson has a tough matchup against a stingy Bears defense, but he’s become the “ultimate mismatch” in the NFL. The Lions are even moving him to slot more frequently to take advantage of his underrated run-after-catch skills. Harvin broke six tackles versus the Redskins last week. Per Pro Football Focus, only four receivers have more for the entire season. Harvin’s 418 yards after the catch are 129 more than the next closest receiver. … Cruz has 125 receptions and 2,032 yards, sixth all-time in both categories over the first 25 games of a career. … Marshall leads all receivers with 2.92 yards per route run this season.Dez Bryant has out-targeted Miles Austin 28-11 over the past two games. Bryant’s 31.82 target percentage is tied with Larry Fitzgerald for sixth among NFL wideouts. If Dez isn’t Dallas’ No. 1 receiver, someone needs to tell Tony Romo. The Cowboys need the exceptionally talented Bryant to be their top passing-game threat, and Romo knows it. … Torrey Smith’s matchup isn’t as forbidding as it looks. Texans shadow corner Johnathan Joseph has been torched by Jordy Nelson and Jeremy Kerley while battling a groin injury. Finally getting back to peak form, Britt said Wednesday was one of his best practices since returning to the field this summer. He has an excellent matchup against a Bills defense allowing the fourth-most fantasy points to opposing receivers. Rookie Stephon Gilmore has proven to be not ready for prime time in hanging with No. 1 receivers. … Wayne has a second straight tough matchup versus Joe Haden, but the Colts are moving him around more than ever. Even with the bye week, he’s lapping the field in targets with 14 per game. … Wallace has scored in every game but one, which should be no surprise since he’s tied for the league lead in end zone targets. … Nicks’ first Wednesday practice of the season is promising for his long-term outlook. I’ve defended Andre Johnson the past few weeks, noting that he’s just missed on a handful of big plays and his targets are down because the Texans hadn’t been involved in shootouts. Against the Packers, though, I noted that he’s missing dangerous run-after-catch ability and doesn’t sky for balls in traffic last he once did so willingly. NFL Films’ Cosell, who ranked Johnson as the No. 1 receiver in the league as recently as this summer, agrees that the once-dominant wideout is slowing down “a little bit” and is “not quite as explosive.” Calling him a “personnel and coach’s dream,” Aaron Rodgers predicted that Randall Cobb will go down as one of the better picks of GM Ted Thompson’s career, “if not the best.” NFL Films’ Greg Cosell “loves” Cobb, suggesting that he will become “more and more involved” in the Packers offense. The matchup with Cortland Finnegan will be one to watch this week, but Cosell believes Cobb can win against the Rams’ slot corner. Lance Moore has returned to practice and appears to be over his hamstring injury. His targets should get a bump with Jimmy Graham likely to sit. … Denarius Moore is a great trade target this week. He’s been heavily targeted, rewarding Carson Palmer with big plays down the field and after the catch. … Although he’s seeing just half of Vincent Jackson’s targets, Mike Williams is playing as well as he did as a rookie. … The Jaguars want to “force-feed” Justin Blackmon, and the matchup is right against a porous Raiders secondary.Hixon made a series of spectacular catches last week at San Francisco, and this week’s opponent allows as many big plays in the passing game as any defense in the league. … Josh Gordon’s fantasy outlook takes a hit with Mohamed Massaquoi and Travis Benjamin returning to practice. Absent a full route tree, Gordon could be pushed into a situational deep threat role.
Week 7 Tight Ends