Week 7: Fantasy Blitzkrieg
Every week during the season, I will throw out some quick observations of the previous NFL week. With the invention of the DVR and Directv’s ”Quick Bits”, I am able to watch almost every snap of every game and give you a lightning “blitz” war “krieg” to bring to your fantasy league for domination. Bring on the games!
The Carolina/Washington matchup ended with a predictable conclusion, but the way it went was a bit surprising. The Redskins came out running the ball as Tim Hightower ran well (17 carries for 88 yards) to start the game. Hightower hurt his lower leg and did not return. John Beck looked lost in the 1st half, but ended up salvaging his day with 279 passing yards, a passing TD, a rushing TD, and an interception. Beck looked better than Grossman has, but what does that really tell us? Fred Davis had the best fantasy day of any Redskin with 6-80 yards, a TD, and still managed to drop a couple passes. The Washington defense sacked Cam Newton 4 times, but that wasn’t enough. Newton threw for 18-23 attempts, 256 yards, and had a TD pass. He added another 59 yards on the ground, and a rushing TD on 10 carries. Once again, Steve Smith caught the lion’s share of Newton’s passes (7-143 yards) and made it look easy. Smith has not lost any wiggle and can make the most of a short route. It was Jonathan Stewart’s game this week as he had 14 carries for 68 yards and a short TD. Stewart was most effective on his 1st 4 carries for 50 yards.
Steelers (East) versus Arizona (Steelers West) was a little closer on the scoreboard than how the game played out. Beanie Wells was a very inconsistent runner who spent a lot of time dancing and carried the ball 12 times for 42 yards before he left with a leg injury. LaRod Stephens-Howling, a backup RB and special teams ace, helped out Kevin Kolb by taking a short pass and rumbled 73 yards to pay dirt. Larry Fitzgerald had some great catches (4 for 78 yards), but was mostly held in check by Ike Taylor. Kolb was under pressure for most of the day; however, managed to throw for 272 yards, 2 TDs, and 1 interception. LaMarr Woodley came thru again in James Harrison’s absence by having 2 sacks and causing Kolb to ground the ball in the end zone for a safety. The Steelers running game was not as effective this week as Rashard Mendenhall had 32 rushing yards. Ben Roethlisberger had 340 yards passing with 3 TDs and did a better job setting his feet and throwing down the field. Speedster Mike Wallace only caught 3 passes, but made the most of those catches including a 95 yard TD bomb. Heath Miller caught 4 passes for 59 yards with a TD catch and added a carry for 6 yards. Just when I said Antonio Brown was fading, Brown showed us doubters by catching 7 for 102 yards on 9 targets.
The ugliest game of the day belonged to the Colts vs. the Saints prime time game. This game’s results were similar to the outcome of a varsity high school team playing a seventh grade squad. The Colts running game at times looked like it was working. Delone Carter (10 carries for 89 yards, 1 TD) was the only part of the Colts offense that looked good. Carter ran angry, put his foot down, and ran decisively. We didn’t get to see much of Joseph Addai, because he got injured early. The Curtis Painter to Pierre Garcon connection was roaming as Garcon only hauled in 3 for 31 on 6 targets. Painter missed Garcon on 2 plays that could have been long TDs. Marques Colston started off the game quickly with a TD pass from Drew Brees and had another TD before the Colts knew what was happening. Colston finished catching 7 passes in as many targets for 98 yards. If you were a running back for the Saints, you had a good fantasy day. Darren Sproles looked explosive in the run game with 12 carries for 88 yards and a rushing TD, but also added 6 receptions for 19 yards and a receiving TD. Pierre Thomas had 15 touches for 125 yards and rookie Mark Ingram had 15 touches for 97 yards, but appeared to hurt his foot/ankle on a jump to avoid defenders. Ingram’s good buddy, FB Jed Collins, stole another goal line TD from him in this scrimmage (62-7 I can’t say it was a game). Jimmy Graham, even when he doesn’t have 100 yards, catches 2 TDs for 54 yards.
What a huge difference two weeks makes for the Lions and the Falcons. The Lions were man-handled by the Falcons. Neither Lion RB Mo Morris (9 carries for 50 yards) nor Keiland Williams (9 carries for 44 yards) separated themselves from the other. Jahvid Best was missed. Matthew Stafford looked lethargic throwing for less than a 47% completion rate and 183 yards and a TD to Calvin Johnson. Johnson was the only Lion that looked good (5 catches for 115 yards) as he showed on his 57 yard TD catch. Brandon Pettigrew chipped in 4 catches on 6 targets. Michael Turner gave the Atlanta offense some identity with his 27 carries for 122 hard-fought yards. Matt Ryan had a very up and down day with a 58% completion rate, 218 yards in the air, a passing TD, a rushing TD, and 2 picks. Roddy White made an Olympic dismount stick TD catch and ended the day with 5 catches for 52 yards. Both Tony Gonzalez (5-62 yards) and Harry Douglas (4-62 yards) helped move the sticks for the Falcons in Julio Jones’ absence.
For 55 minutes, the Dolphins played significantly better than the Broncos. Unfortunately for Miami, an NFL game lasts at least 60 minutes. Brandon Marshall’s number may look fine with 6-61 yards on 9 targets, but he does not fight for the ball. Rookie Daniel Thomas was bottled up for most of the game (21 touches for 53 yards). If Thomas had any wiggle in his game or better field vision, the Dolphins would have won. Safety Yeremiah Bell did his best to keep the Broncos down with 6 tackles, a sack, and a fumble recovery. Broncos RB Willis McGahee had a very unspectacular day with 18-76 yards, but made the most of the seams the offensive line gave him. Tim Tebow looked like a fish out of water for the first 55 minutes. He missed a wide open Eric Decker (2-21 yards on 3 targets) for a possible game changing TD. Tebow only needed 4 minutes of regulation and OT to use his heavenly gifts. Tebow’s 48% completion rate with 161 passing yards, 2 passing TDs, 65 rushing yards, and a rushing 2pt conversion was enough for the Broncos to win. Demaryius Thomas had 10 targets which he turned into 3 receptions for 27 yards and a TD.
Rex Ryan won his football challenge against Norv Turner. The Chargers came out swinging though with LB Donald Butler’s strip fumble that he returned 37 yards for a TD. Antonio Gates was another bright spot in his return with 5 catches for 54 yards and a TD. Other than Gates, the passing game had a difficult day as Vincent Jackson caught 1 pass for 15 yards on 8 targets and Phillip Rivers completed 50% of his passes for 179 yards while throwing 2 interceptions in the 4th quarter. Ryan Matthews and Mike Tolbert combined for 97 yards on 24 carries with the TD going to Tolbert. That would be a good day for a #2 fantasy RB, but not good for 2 RBs combined. San Diego did not noticeably adjust their game plan whether they led or trailed in the game. Shonn Greene surprisingly ran better than he has all year with 112 yards on 20 carries. Plaxico Burress did his best Cris Carter impression by catching only TDs as he finished with 4 receptions for 25 yards and 3 TDs. Dustin Keller had 4-53 yards on 8 targets, but had that total in the first half. Rookie Jeremy Kerley was used a bit more with 4 catches for 29 yards.
The battle for AFC South went a bit easier for the Texans over the Titans than was previously thought. Matt Hasselbeck was not sharp as he threw under a 47% completion rate, 104 yards, 1 passing TD, and 2 interceptions. The completion rate was not all on Hasselbeck as I saw at least 5 drops. Chris Johnson had a disappointing day with 16 touches for 45 yards as it seems his burst is still holding out. Backup Javon Ringer had 48 yards on 4 touches and looks more explosive. Finally, the fantasy world got to see the 2010 version of Arian Foster. Foster had 25 carries for 115 yards, 2 rushing TDs, and added 5 catches for 119 yards and a receiving TD. Ben Tate, looking very Earl Campbell-like, ran hard for 104 yards on 15 carries. Matt Schaub almost broke the 300 yard passing mark with 2 TD passes. Owen Daniels added 4 receptions for 71 yards. Even backup Houston CB Brice McCain got in on the fun with an interception return for a TD.
The AFC West matchup of the Raiders vs. the Chiefs played out quite differently than how Al Davis would have liked. I was reminded of the Spaghetti western classic: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly when i viewed this game. Let’s start with The Good aka the Chiefs. Dwayne Bowe (6-76 yards) and Steve Breaston (5-64 yards) helped keep the chains moving along with the plodder known as Jackie Battle (16 carries for 76 yards). The Bad was Darren McFadden getting hurt early on and Michael Bush did his best filling in with 111 yards on 19 touches. Darrius Heyward-Bey caught less than 50% of his targets for 5-89 yards. The Ugly was Denarius Moore having 1 catch for 4 yards on 5 targets, 6 Raider interceptions thrown (3 for Kyle Boller and 3 for new signee Carson Palmer), and of course, Kendrick Lewis’ 59 yard interception TD return along with the Brendan Flowers 58 yard interception TD return (had 2 picks for the day).
The Cowboys game against the Rams may be called the “DeMarco Murray” arrives party. The Rams played with the talent they had: Steven Jackson (18-70 yards and a TD) and newly minted Brandon Lloyd (6 receptions for 74 yards with 2 end zone drops). Their combined effort was not enough as DeMarco Murray began his day with a 91 yard TD run which showed great speed, wiggle, and the ability to run to daylight. Murray finished with 25 carries for 253 yards, but keep in mind the Rams were ranked 31st against the run. Fellow rookie Phillip Tanner had 6 carries for 34 yards and a TD. He looked a lot like before mentioned Michael Bush with his body control with north/south running. Tony Romo didn’t have to do much, but completed 14-24 attempts for 166 yards and 2 TDs. Dez Bryant (5-90 yards) had one of those scores and Jason Witten (5-35 yards) had the other TD.
The Vikings gave the Packers more than they thought they could handle with a rookie QB at the helm. Christian Ponder had a very rookie day as he threw for just under a 41% completion rate, 219 yards, 2 TDs, and 2 interceptions. He is quite mobile as he ran 4 times for 31 yards and tried to shield the defense from knowing he had the ball while scrambling. Michael Jenkins was his big play receiver catching 3 for 111 yards and a TD. Visanthe Shiancoe (4-45 yards and a TD) and Adrian Peterson (24 rushes for 175 yards and a TD) were the constants to keep the Vikings in the game until the end. Jared Allen did his best to slow Aaron Rodgers down with 2 sacks. Rodgers didn’t seem to be all that phased as he completed 80% of his passes, threw for 335 yards and 3 TD passes. Greg Jennings had the best receiving day with his 7 catches for 147 yards, including a 79 yard TD that the Viking forgot to cover after he ran the first 29 yards of the route. James Starks used his combined 16 touches to generate 99 yards and James Jones was a perfect 4 for 4 on his targets for 63 yards.
What a slug fest for a Week 7 finale! The Jaguars and Ravens played a very physical ball game. It’s hard to say there was any real outstanding fantasy performances in a 12-7 Jaguar win. Ray Rice had a rough game as he finished with 8 carries for 28 yards on the ground and 5 receptions with 35 yards and a fumble. Joe Flacco threw for 137 yards on 38 attempts, an interception, and the game’s only TD to Anquan Boldin (4-40 yards). The Jags ran MJD early and often, 30 carries for 105 yards. Jones-Drew had a few issues with ball security along the way. Blaine Gabbert completed 45% of his passes for 93 yards, but was plagued with drops in the end zone (1 by Marcedes Lewis and 1 by Jason Hill). Jason Hill was the leading receiver for either side with 62 yards on 4 receptions.