Patrick Daugherty

Goal Line Stand

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Week 7 Rankings

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Updated 10/20/2013 at 3:00 PM ET. No. 31 quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick removed. 


Ray Rice is averaging fewer yards per carry than James Starks — as in half as many. Starks, of course, has carried the ball only 34 times, but just consider that a glimpse into the misery that has been Rice’s 2013. Amongst qualified ball carriers, Rice’s 2.77 YPC ranks dead last out of 44. He’s behind two quarterbacks, and second in his own backfield. He hasn’t taken the ball farther than 14 yards on any of his 71 totes. Sam Bradford and Redskins FB Darrel Young are among the players to notch a longer carry. The struggles come for a player who has never averaged less than 4.0 yards per carry in a season, and entered 2013 with a 4.54 career mark.  

There’s no one reason for Rice’s sudden descent into CJ”2K”ville, but instead a perfect storm of bad circumstances. Baltimore’s offensive line, which played so well during the team’s Super Bowl run last season, isn’t generating any push, and has graded out as the league’s second worst run-blocking unit in Pro Football Focus’ ratings. (For a more thorough breakdown of Baltimore’s line struggles, check out Lance Zierlein’s Week 7 Smash Mouth column.). Next is Rice’s health. A player who hadn’t missed a game since 2008 missed one in Week 3 with a hip issue. Whether he’s been healthy since is up for debate, but it would be stunning if Rice wasn’t feeling some residual effects.

Then there’s Baltimore’s schedule. Playing in perhaps the most rugged division in football, Rice has squared off with the league’s (by yards) No. 1 (Denver), No. 7 (Cleveland), No. 28 (Buffalo), No. 15 (Miami) and No. 3 (Green Bay) run defenses. As you can see, there’s been one soft spot. It came the week after Rice returned from his hip flexor. How many carries did he get against said soft spot? Five, only two of which came after halftime as the Ravens completely abandoned the run.    

Last, but certainly not least, is Rice’s running itself. Needless to say, it hasn’t been what we’re used to seeing. Film review reveals a player who’s generally making the right reads and finding the hole, but isn’t doing anything once he gets there. Part of that’s because his blockers aren’t getting upfield push. But it’s more due to the fact that Rice is getting arm tackled, and not making any big plays. Rice has shed only three tackles after eluding 20 a year ago. He’s produced just 112 yards after first contact, for an average of 1.6 per carry. Per Pro Football Focus, that ranks 48th in the league. Rice averaged 2.4 yards after first contact in 2012, and 2.5 in 2011. Would better blocking help? Of course. But Rice isn’t getting paid $8 million to put it all on his blockers.

Will it get better? It’s certainly the proverbial “couldn’t get any worse” type situation, but a lot will depend on how much Baltimore’s line can improve, if at all, with new LT Eugene Monroe in the fold. Rice’s health will also be a factor. If he’s not himself, breaking tackles and getting to the second level isn’t going to get any easier as he grinds on his hip every week. Something else that’s not getting any easier? The Ravens’ schedule. The average rank of their next five opposing run defenses is 11. Together, those five teams (Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago and the Jets) are permitting just 3.61 yards per carry, which would rank sixth in the league. Rice’s history of past production screams “stay patient,” but the facts staring him in the face suggest he’ll be more RB2/3 than RB1 going forward. That’s not what fantasy owners had in mind when they made Rice the seventh player off the board by ADP, but it appears that’s what they’ve got.       

Editor's Note: Rotoworld's partner FanDuel is hosting a one-week $60,000 Fantasy Football league for Week 7. It's $25 to join and first prize is $8,500. Starts Sunday at 1pm ET. Here's the link.


Week 7 Quarterbacks

Rank Player Name Opponent Notes
1 Peyton Manning at IND -
2 Aaron Rodgers vs. CLE -
3 Tony Romo at PHI -
4 Matthew Stafford vs. CIN -
5 Cam Newton vs. STL -
6 Philip Rivers at JAC -
7 Jay Cutler at WAS Sidelined (groin)
8 Andrew Luck vs. DEN -
9 Tom Brady at NYJ -
10 Nick Foles vs. DAL -
11 Robert Griffin III vs. CHI -
12 Ben Roethlisberger vs. BAL -
13 Colin Kaepernick at TEN -
14 Russell Wilson at ARZ -
15 Eli Manning vs. MIN -
16 Matt Ryan vs. TB -
17 Ryan Tannehill vs. BUF -
18 Joe Flacco at PIT -
19 Sam Bradford at CAR -
20 Andy Dalton at DET -
21 Brandon Weeden at GB -
22 Chad Henne vs. SD -
23 Alex Smith vs. HOU -
24 Josh Freeman at NYG -
25 Geno Smith vs. NE -
26 Jake Locker vs. SF -
27 Carson Palmer vs. SEA -
28 Mike Glennon at ATL -
29 Thad Lewis at MIA Probable (foot)
30 Case Keenum at KC -

QB Notes: Peyton Manning threw for 295 yards and two touchdowns against the Jaguars last weekend and it was … his worst game of the year. Manning leads all fantasy quarterbacks on the season, over the past five weeks and over the past three weeks. As you may have heard, Sunday night he will be playing in a building where he’s had some past success. … Some will be tempted to downgrade Aaron Rodgers following the loss of Randall Cobb and potential absence of James Jones, but since when are Jordy Nelson and Jermichael Finley not weapons enough for a big fantasy day? Rodgers doesn’t do off days, and should never be benched, not even for the likes of that ADP-steal backup you got in the summer (for example, Tony Romo or Philip Rivers). … Truth be told, Romo has really only had two big fantasy days, his Week 3 whipping of the Rams and Week 5 506-yarding of the Broncos. In his other four games, he’s averaged just 252 yards and 1.5 touchdowns, and failed to take advantage of good matchups in the Chargers and Redskins. He’s got another amazing matchup in the Eagles this weekend, however, and is a strong bet to lift the lid in what should be a veritable fantasy bonanza of a game.

Averaging the fifth most yards in the league with a top-four YPA (8.28) and touchdown-total (14), Philip Rivers has an excellent shot at putting up top-five numbers in Jacksonville. He’s been helped immensely by the emergence of Keenan Allen, and resurgence of Antonio Gates. … Matthew Stafford flopped without Calvin Johnson in Week 5, but came on strong once he returned as a decoy in Week 6, turning in his first four-touchdown effort since Week 17 2011. Stafford is the No. 7 fantasy quarterback even though he’s had only two 300-yard games. … Dominant Cam Newton has come and gone this season, but unlike they did after spanking the Giants in Week 3, the Panthers are unlikely to scrap their attack that features more designed runs for Newton. That can only mean good things against a Rams defense getting shredded for 4.6 yards per carry. There will likely be more duds for Newton this season, but Sunday shouldn’t be one of them. … It’s happened rather quietly, but only 10 quarterbacks are averaging more fantasy points than Jay Cutler. That number drops to six if only the past three weeks are counted. The Redskins held Tony Romo in check last week, but shouldn’t do the same to Cutler. Going by Pro Football Focus’ quarterback rating, Cutler has been the fourth best quarterback in football this season.    

Andrew Luck is coming off a disappointing game against the Chargers, but things should pick back up in a hurry as long as he doesn’t have any extra butterflies going up against the man he replaced in Indy. Denver is getting smoked against the pass, allowing 8.6 YPA (31st) and a league-worst 338 passing yards per game. Seeing as Denver’s run defense is the exact opposite — the league’s best — Indy is going to dial up pass after pass in what has fast become a grudge match (thanks Jim Irsay). Von Miller’s return will obviously goose Denver’s pass defense via the edge pressure he creates, but isn’t going to be an overnight cure-all. Luck is an elite play this week. … Tom Brady is on pace for just 3,947 yards and 21 touchdowns. The TD total would be the lowest since his (Super Bowl winning) rookie season. Injuries have been one of the main culprits, but another? Drops. Brady’s pass catchers have muffed 24 passes, tops in the league. That’s four potential first downs Brady has missed out on every week. It’s just one more reason Rob Gronkowski can’t get back soon enough.  

Only four quarterbacks are averaging more fantasy points than Matt Ryan, but those typically elite numbers came with Julio Jones leading the league in receiving and keying Atlanta’s aerial attack. Jones is now lost for the season, while nominal No. 1 receiver Roddy White (ankle, hamstring) will be playing through two injuries if he plays at all this weekend. To top it all off, Ryan’s hobbled No. 1 wideout will have to contend with Darrelle Revis if he takes the field. It places an enormous burden on tight end Tony Gonzalez. Still more elevatee than elevator when it comes to top-notch passing numbers, Ryan could be falling to the back of the QB1 pack to stay without Jones. … Chicago’s pass defense has thus far been a shell of its former self — but so has Robert Griffin III. RGIII had by far his best game as a rusher in Week 6, but turned in another dud as a passer. He’s just a back-end QB1 until he gets some rhythm. … It could be argued that Nick Foles — who’s completing 67.2 percent of his passes and the owner of an 8.89 YPA and 6:0 TD:INT ratio — deserves to be higher in this week’s ranks. But 1.5 halves of football simply isn’t a thick enough résumé for his 2013 play. That being said, a Dallas defense allowing over 300 passing yards per game and a 65.6 completion percentage is an inviting matchup, particularly since edge mainstay DeMarcus Ware (quad) is going to miss the first game of his career. If you decided to go bold and start Foles over say, RGIII or Matt Ryan, this fantasy picker would look the other way.       

Big Ben Roethlisberger has come to life over his past three games, completing 69.7 percent of his passes for 1,053 yards (8.63 YPA). His 4:6 TD:turnover ratio has been the only thing standing in the way of a full-blown fantasy renaissance. Either way, reports of his demise were greatly exaggerated. … Russell Wilson is back on the upswing — he’s surpassed 300 total yards and 30 pass attempts in each of his past two games — but the matchup just isn’t right in an imposing Cardinals defense on the road in a short week. Wilson’s arrow is still pointing upward for the season, but it’s sideways for Week 7. … Where angels fear to tread: Eli Manning in a “good” matchup. The Vikings are the right opponent at the right time for the league’s interception “leader,” but the upside is not as high as you might think. … The numbers are inflated because Houston’s opponents have been squatting on so many big leads, but do you really want to start Alex Smith against a team allowing 131 passing yards per game? … Lest you think Josh Freeman is an intriguing play in his first week as a Viking, maybe you should re-familiarize yourself with his 2013 numbers. There’s a great chance Freeman will be better in Minnesota than he was in Tampa Bay, but give it time. … Pray for T.J. Yates Case Keenum.     

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Patrick Daugherty is a football and baseball writer for He can be found on Twitter .
Email :Patrick Daugherty

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