Week 7 seemed to be a teaching week. It was a week in which the Fantasy gods punished owners who started players just because they were playing, or went with their hearts instead of their heads. LeSean McCoy, Tyler Eifert, Terrelle Pryor, and Jamaal Charles owners are still banging their heads against the wall if they started them. There is a reason I tend to be very conservative. I hate to risk a zero. Oh well, it happens. If we made the correct decision every time, then this game would be too easy.
Chicago at Green Bay
The loss of Brian Hoyer (broken arm) really means that no one is truly usable on the Bears’ offense until Jay Cutler (thumb) is ready to return. Matt Barkley is not going to get the job done. Ka’Deem Carey looked better than Jordan Howard in this one but I’m not sure that matters in the immediate future. Sure, Aaron Rodgers threw for over 300 yards but that came on 56 attempts and 39 completions. When did this offense become a dink and dunk offense? Ty Montgomery had a big game but remember, the Packers will now have 10 days after this game to get Knile Davis and Don Jackson (hand) ready to play. Montgomery won’t have as many carries going forward, especially not near the goal line.
Giants at Los Angeles
Just when you think it’s safe to start Eli Manning, boom, another dud game happens. Maybe it’s because Odell Beckham apparently had a hip problem, maybe not. Either way, Manning will no longer be in my Top 12 going forward. After watching this game, you must think the Jared Goff era is about to begin. Case Keenum was pretty bad, although I’ll admit his WR didn’t help him at all. They are getting Todd Gurley more involved in the passing game. It’s about time.
New Orleans at Kansas City
The Saints may not be the same team on the road that they are at home, but at least their star players were represented in this one. You’re always starting Drew Brees and Brandin Cooks but you may have had thoughts about sitting Mark Ingram. Well, it looked like the Saints made a concerted effort to get him the ball at the goal line, and although he didn’t run in his TD, Fantasy owners will take the six points from a reception just the same. There was a reason that starting Alex Smith was risky, even in a game versus the defensively inept Saints. They are a running team, not a passing one. They pass because they have to, not because they want to. Still, four catches and 40 yards for Jeremy Maclin and two for 24 for Travis Kelce is just unacceptable. Jamaal Charles owners should’ve known better than to start him coming into this game, as all the warning signs were there that he wouldn’t see the ball all that much.
Indianapolis at Tennessee
Think about what Andrew Luck did in this game. He threw for 353 yards and three scores despite not having wide receivers Donte Moncrief and Phillip Dorsett or top TE Dwayne Allen. Imagine what happens when he has all his weapons. The overall Fantasy numbers for Marcus Mariota weren’t bad (232 passing yards, two TDs, 14 rushing yards), but we expected more in a home game versus a team as defensively challenged as the Titans. Outside of the obvious starts in DeMarco Murray and Delanie Walker, no one stepped up in this one. Disappointing to say the least but I’m not giving up on Mariota; he’s still in my Top 12.
Minnesota at Philadelphia
The Sam Bradford bowl didn’t go very well for Minnesota. It’s kind of ironic. Coming into the season Bradford was known for being injury prone. Well, so far this year he has been getting hammered behind an inferior offensive line and has yet to go down for the count, but that seems like only a matter of time. If you have Bradford as a replacement for Ben Roethlisberger (which I do in several superflex leagues), be very worried. The Eagles’ offense didn’t have a game to write home about either. This game was all about the defenses and special teams. The Eagles, once again, had a special team return for a TD. That’s it for the highlights of their Fantasy players. I would worry about Carson Wentz also. I know the Vikings have a great defense, but it seems the NFL has caught on to what Wentz is good at and knows how to stop him.
Cleveland at Cincinnati
The Bengals have now used six QBs this season. Think about that for a minute. We are not even halfway through the NFL season yet. It’s the curse of not drafting Wentz. Like Charles, you were warned not to start Pryor. You had to know he would be a risk after barely practicing all week with a hamstring injury. Cody Kessler left the game due to a concussion and will have to clear several hurdles before being cleared to play again. Kevin Hogan was impressive but it was much more with his legs than with his arm. All cylinders were firing in this game for the Bengals. Passing game? Check, as Andy Dalton had few problems finding A.J. Green whenever he wanted. Running game? Check, as Jeremy Hill had a huge game and Gio Bernard wasn’t that far behind. If you started Eifert, you came up snake eyes, though, as the Bengals seemed to use this game as a test, just to see if he was ready to get back into game action. He should be back to a full-time role next week.
Washington at Detroit
Matt Jones is not going to have a starting job for long. He fumbled twice and was involved in another with Kirk Cousins. Putting the ball on the ground has become a problem of late for Jones, and it’s not something that Jay Gruden can let go for much longer. You may want to claim Ray Kelley this week if he’s available on waivers. As for the passing game, it will certainly improve once Jordan Reed comes back, but his concussion symptoms returned after having a limited practice mid-week and he did not take the field again. Jamison Crowder seems to be a direct beneficiary to Reed being out, and Vernon Davis isn’t a bad replacement either. One last thing about Reed. You have to wonder whether the team will keep him out of next week’s game also, as they are playing in England. That’s a long plane ride for someone with a concussion. With the team having a bye the week after, this would give Reed almost three weeks to fully recover. This game was kind of disappointing as neither team has much of a defense and points were expected to be put on the board. Oh well, didn’t happen. I’m not touching the Detroit running game but if some impatient Golden Tate owner had put him on waivers, it’s time to go out and grab him. Whatever was holding him back earlier this season seems to be a thing of the past now.
Oakland at Jacksonville
If you’re an optimist, Latavius Murray had two TDs. If you’re a pessimist, he had 59 yards rushing on 18 carries, not exactly a great YPC. He’s going to be a tough start for Fantasy owners each week, as he seems to be TD dependent to have a good week. He reminds me of Melvin Gordon with one exception. Gordon doesn’t have to worry about other backs stealing the starting job, Murray does; although, DeAndre Washington isn’t doing all that much either. You know you’re having a bad season when people are calling for Chad Henne to replace you. Blake Bortles is having all kinds of struggles. What’s worse for Fantasy owners is that those struggles are clearly effecting Allen Robinson. It’s inexcusable for him to have only two receptions for nine yards versus an Oakland secondary that has been terrible this year. Marqise Lee had a nice game, however, but I wouldn’t rush out to claim him this week. The running game was very good but wasn’t used all that much, as the team was down early. Still, it’s a good sign when anyone is averaging nine yards a carry, which Chris Ivory did in this game.
Buffalo at Miami
It was a tough choice; what to do with McCoy and Mike Gillislee? That’s why in these situations I just prefer the NFL team make my player inactive. Then I don’t have to worry about what to do with a star player. Why the Bills decided to play McCoy when they have a capable backup is beyond me. The good news is that he wasn’t a decoy, the bad news is that he did indeed re-injure the hamstring and will likely be questionable for Week 8. So, we could be back in this exact situation next Sunday. The Bills’ offense was in a bad place, as they were without their Top 2 WR; Robert Woods missed the game with a foot injury. This offense may struggle for the immediate future. Okay, Jay Ajayi is the real thing. I’m still not sure where this has come from. Is it all because of the return to health of the offensive line? Who cares, I’m going to ride it while it lasts. If you’re an eternal optimist, a good running game could also help Ryan Tannehill. Nah, let’s not get ahead of ourselves here.
Baltimore at Jets
Whether it’s the shoulder or some other ailment, something is clearly bothering Joe Flacco, as he seemed to get worse and worse as the game went along. Hopefully, you’re not relying on him in your Fantasy league. Did the terrible game for Terrance West (eight carries for 10 yards) finally open the door for Kenneth Dixon? Maybe, but probably only for a few extra touches; it’s still West’s job to lose. Mike Wallace is a must-start and that is so hard to say. You have to hand it to Ryan Fitzpatrick. He has quite a bit of nerve to trash the Jets’ brain trust after relieving Geno Smith (knee) and leading the team to a win. How quickly he forgets his nine interceptions in two games. Still, he probably starts next week. It made sense for the Jets to feature Matt Forte in this one, as they wanted to take some pressure off of Smith. They kept to that strategy even when Fitzpatrick took over and it paid off handsomely. Forte had two scores and was given multiple carries inside the 10-yard line. He’s a mid-range RB2 going forward.
Tampa Bay at San Francisco
I wonder if Doug Martin (hamstring) owners are starting to get a little nervous. That was 154 yards that Jacquizz Rodgers rushed for Sunday. He’s not going to be forgotten when Martin returns, and I wouldn’t be so fast to release Rodgers when Martin does. Colin Kaepernick is what he is, a runner who has a strong enough arm to play QB. He only threw for 143 yards yesterday but ran for 84. His floor is high, but his ceiling is very low and it’s eliminated just about any value for his receiver corps.
San Diego at Atlanta
Melvin Gordon is the new Cris Carter. All he does is score touchdowns. Hey, we’ll take that as Fantasy owners but sooner or later that will go away. If there were any doubts about who the WR that you want to own most in SD is, Tyrell Williams answered that question in a big way. Philip Rivers really doesn’t get enough credit for what he has done since the season ending injury to Keenan Allen. Why Antonio Gates (who looks like he is carrying the entire orchestra on his back and not just a piano) received 10 targets while Hunter Henry only had three is a mystery to me. Hunter is the better player. This will drive Fantasy owners crazy each week. Tevin Coleman had to leave the game with (what else?) a hamstring injury. This will be a situation worth watching all week, as Coleman has been extremely explosive this season. Jacob Tamme only had one reception but he made it count, as it went for six. He’s a decent bye week filler, but that’s it.
New England at Pittsburgh
Julian Edelman hasn’t been the same player this year with or without Tom Brady behind center. Perhaps that has changed now. He had nine receptions versus Pittsburgh. Granted, it was for only 60 yards, but he was always more valuable in PPR leagues than in STD play. It’s a little odd that James White didn’t receive a single carry and only touched the ball twice (one for a TD), but this seemed to be game plan specific, as LeGarrette Blount went off for 127 yards and two scores. The first game without Roethlisberger was not a pretty one. Landry Jones did throw for 281 yards but only one score, as he just couldn’t get the team into the end zone and had to constantly settle for FG attempts. LeVeon Bell had a good day with 149 total yards but no big plays, and more importantly, no TD. Antonio Brown also didn’t get in for six but did have seven receptions on 11 targets.
Seattle at Arizona
Some will look at this game and say it was a defensive game for the ages. While this is true, it was also a clinic in bad offensive line play. It’s amazing that in today’s NFL so many teams don’t prioritize this position. Russell Wilson was under constant pressure and seemed to be running for his life more often than not. Carson Palmer did have time to throw on certain plays but also took a few brutal hits. It’s going to be hard to see either QB making it through the season if this doesn’t get fixed. Palmer did throw for over 300 yards in the game. Is he back? I want to be optimistic here. John Brown missed the game with a leg injury. Michael Floyd looked solid, nothing spectacular, but solid. If Palmer is back, perhaps Floyd will still have some value.
As always feel free to follow me on Twitter and ask any questions you, @georgekurtz.