Week 7 Fantasy Headlines:
Chris Johnson Runs Wild on Buffalo's Putrid Big $ Defense The Texans Crush Joe Flacco & the Ravens Offense Eli Manning & Victor Cruz Rescue the Giants Another Huge Outing From Aaron Rodgers Jimmy Graham-Less Saints & Bucs Pile Up the Points Jonathan Dwyer Helps the Steelers Grind Out a Win
GAME SUMMARIES & FANTASY COMMENTARY:
Bye week: Atlanta Falcons (6-0), Denver Broncos (3-3), Kansas City Chiefs (1-5), Miami Dolphins (3-3), Philadelphia Eagles (3-3) and San Diego Chargers (3-3).
THURSDAY NIGHT GAME:
San Francisco 49ers 13 (5-2) | Seattle Seahawks 6 (4-3)
Fantasy Focus -- 49ers: Some fantasy owners are still boiling mad about the surprise goose egg that Vernon Davis (0-0-0 on a shocking zero targets) dropped on them. The Seahawks clearly had schemed to take Davis out of the offense, which included eliminating his sideline routes, and it was the first time that Davis had gone without a catch in a game since 2008. Backup tight end Delanie Walker (1-12-1 on xx targets) hauled in a scoring strike in the third quarter. Frank Gore (16-131-0 rushing and 5-51-0 receiving) carried the offense like he usually does in nationally televised games. Gore compiled 2012 game highs in rushing and total yards. With Gore (ribs) playing well, Alex Smith (14/23 for 140-1-1) settled into a game-manager role. Michael Crabtree (4-31-0 on six targets) led all San Francisco receivers in the team's obviously run-heavy game plan.
Fantasy Tip: Davis has compiled just three catches and 37 receiving yards since Week 6, and I doubt he will break out of his mini-slump next week against the Arizona Cardinals. Davis' last game against the Cardinals was a 1-32-0 effort. Smith also has been struggling because of a sprained middle finger on his right (throwing) hand, so the 49ers may just let Gore carry the bulk of the offensive load again and keep the passing to a minimum. Although Brandon Jacobs has been available to play during the last two weeks, he hasn't seen the field. Gore owners don't have to worry about the former New York Giant stealing goal-line carries -- at least for now.
Fantasy Focus -- Seahawks: This wasn't the Russell Wilson (9/23 for 122-0-1 passing and 3-10-0 rushing) that we saw lead a dramatic upset of the New England Patriots two weeks ago. In fairness, the Seahawks clearly had a letdown following that huge triumph over New England, and, as we all know, the 49ers play some lethal defense on their home field. Ben Obomanu (3-50-0 on four targets) and Sidney Rice (2-32-0 on four targets) led all Seattle receivers. Marshawn Lynch (19-103-0 rushing and 1-13-0 receiving) notched his third 100-yard rushing game of the year, but he hasn't scored since Week 4.
Fantasy Tip: Lynch faces a very challenging road matchup in Week 8 against a stout Detroit Lions run defense, but he should remain in all lineups. Although the Lions are vulnerable to the pass, Wilson and his receivers have struggled in road games and probably won't be able to exploit Detroit's soft secondary.
EARLY SUNDAY AFTERNOON GAMES:
Tennessee Titans 35 (3-4) | Buffalo Bills 34 (3-4)
Fantasy Focus -- Titans: Hope you took Fantasysharks.com's advice and started Chris Johnson (18-195-2 rushing and 1-3-0 receiving). Johnson notched his first two rushing touchdowns and second 100-yard rushing game of the season. The fifth-year pro could have scored at least two more times, but backup Jamie Harper (7-8-2 rushing and 0-0-0 receiving) vultured a pair of one-yard touchdown runs. With the rushing attack clicking on all cylinders, Matt Hasselbeck (22/33 for 205-1-0) settled into a game-manager role most of the afternoon, but the 37-year-old triggerman did rally the Titans with a last-minute game-winning scoring drive, which he capped off with a 15-yard touchdown pass to Nate Washington (6-43-1 on 10 targets), which was his first score since Week 3. Kenny Britt (4-30-0 on six targets) caught three balls on the first drive but disappeared the rest of the afternoon. Kendall Wright (3-19-0 on three targets) and Jared Cook (2-37-0 on five targets) were rarely needed most of the afternoon.
Fantasy Tip: During the last two weeks, Johnson has compiled 286 rushing yards and two touchdowns. The Titans have been using a lead fullback to help Johnson, and we're seeing some positive results. Johnson draws another soft home matchup in Week 8 against the Indianapolis Colts. There is early talk that Hasselbeck, who is 2-1 as a fill-in starter, will get the nod again this week while Jake Locker (shoulder) continues to recover. With Britt and Washington both healthy and the Titans utilizing a run-first offense, I'm not sure Wright can stay fantasy relevant each week.
Fantasy Focus -- Bills: Although Ryan Fitzpatrick (27/35 for 225-3-1) compiled a good stat line, the competent-but-mistake-prone passer committed two costly turnovers that led to Tennessee touchdowns. Steve Johnson (5-71-1 on seven targets) enjoyed just a decent outing, because Fred Jackson (9-71-0 rushing and 8-49-1 receiving) and C.J. Spiller (12-70-0 and 6-32-0) were so heavily involved in the passing game. Donald Jones (4-47-1 on five targets) caught Fitzpatrick's other scoring strike. Despite the favorable matchup, Scott Chandler (2-15-0 on four targets) continues to be a non-factor when he doesn't score.
Fantasy Tip: The Bills have a Week 8 bye. As long as Jackson and Spiller are active in the passing game, big games for Johnson and the other receivers will continue to be rare.
Dallas Cowboys 19 (3-3) | Carolina Panthers 14 (1-5)
Fantasy Focus -- Cowboys: More had been expected from the Dallas offense, but an extra week of preparation seemed to help what has been an otherwise soft Carolina defense. Although the Panthers run defense has been leaky, Felix Jones (15-44-0 rushing and 5-30-0 receiving) averaged close to three yards per carry while starting in place of DeMarco Murray (foot). Jones split the backfield touches with Phillip Tanner (13-30-0 rushing and 1-8-0 receiving). Tony Romo (24/34 for 227-1-0) didn't make many big plays, but he wasn't sacked. Mile Austin (5-97-1 on nine targets) hauled in Romo's only touchdown pass of the game (third quarter). It was Austin's second score in the last three weeks, but he also lost a fumble. Jason Witten (6-44-0 on eight targets) has caught at least six passes in three straight outings and has put his early-season dropsies behind him. Dez Bryant (2-14-0 on three targets), as you know, played with a groin injury and was a non-factor after two straight strong outings. He struggled to get separation.
Fantasy Tip: It's not immediately known whether Murray will return in Week 8. If you own Jones, you obviously should keep an eye on the injury reports. If Bryant's groin injury is still an issue heading into next weekend, you should think about sitting him.
Fantasy Focus -- Panthers: Although Cam Newton's stat line (21/37 for 233-1-1 passing and a team-high 6-64-0 rushing) looks respectable, he didn't play very well. For the second game in a row, the second-year pro stared down receivers and sometimes short-hopped what should have been easy throws. In addition, Newton lost a fumble. Steve Smith (7-83-0 on nine targets, which were team bests) still hasn't scored. Brandon LaFell (4-53-1) caught Newton's only touchdown pass, which was a five-yard strike, in the final minutes of the half. Greg Olsen (4-31-0 on five targets) has been targeted just eight times in the last two weeks. DeAngelo Williams (2-4-0 rushing and 0-0-0 receiving) has compiled just 10 rushing yards on eight carries in the last two weeks. Jonathan Stewart (10-35-0 rushing and 3-11-0 receiving)
Fantasy Tip: Opposing defenses continue to stuff the Carolina rushing attack, forcing Newton into a pocket-passer role, which is not his forte. In case you missed Newton's post-game news conference, he sounded very frustrated, calling for change. On the field, Newton's confidence looks very shaken. And the Panthers have a tough road matchup against the Chicago Bears in Week 8. Park Williams on your bench until he starts producing, or don't be afraid to drop him if you see a better option in your free-agent pool. Although LaFell notched his first score since Week 1, it's still hard to trust him as anything more than a Bye-week replacement. You also should consider Olsen a TE2 for now.
Houston Texans 43 (6-1) | Baltimore Ravens 13 (5-2)
Fantasy Focus -- Texans: The Houston offense rebounded from a shellacking at the hands of the Green Bay Packers defense last week, toying with an injury-depleted Baltimore defense most of the afternoon. Arian Foster (19-98-2 rushing and 1-5-0 receiving) leads the NFL with 10 total touchdowns and just missed notching his fourth 100-yard game of the year. Matt Schaub (23/37 for 256-2-0) carved up the Ravens defense with surprising ease. Owen Daniels (7-59-1 on 10 targets) continues to reemerge as a fantasy force; he has scored four times in the last five weeks. Andre Johnson (9-86-0 on 10 targets) topped all Texans receivers on the afternoon. Kevin Walter (4-74-1 on six targets) caught Schaub's other touchdown pass.
Fantasy Tip: The Texans have a Week 8 bye. Although Johnson is not making big plays and many acrobatic catches nowadays -- perhaps his groin injury is worse than the team is letting on -- he still is a very capable fantasy star. Walter surprises with a big game on occasion, but he is usually the third or fourth option in the Houston passing attack, which makes him a very unreliable fantasy starter.
Fantasy Focus -- Ravens: An aggressive, blitzing Houston defense savaged a Baltimore offense that doesn't play well on the road nowadays. Ray Rice (9-42-0 rushing and 5-12-0 receiving) didn't receive many touches after the Ravens fell behind and failed to mount a comeback. Joe Flacco (21/43 for 147-1-2) was sacked four times, picked twice (one pick-six) and harassed all afternoon. Flacco struggled to hook up with Torrey...