You expected a big game from Tom Brady. You figured Drew Brees would put up a bunch of yardage and find the end zone a couple of times. You knew Peyton Manning would bash the Rams. And you figured Matt Schaub would keep the ball flying against the 49ers.
There's nothing like the sure-thing quarterback in Fantasy Football, and this year there seems to be more of them than ever. In addition to the four listed above, other passers like Aaron Rodgers, Philip Rivers and Carson Palmer are doing their parts to stay in the good graces of Fantasy owners. Ben Roethlisberger and Matt Ryan didn't hold up their ends of the bargain in Week 7, but they typically post good totals too. Tony Romo probably has worked his way into the mix, too.
|Carson Palmer's five TDs caught more than 60 percent of his owners by surprise. (US Presswire)|
We're at a point in Fantasy Football where the supply of not just good quarterbacks -- but great quarterbacks -- is meeting demand. Ten- and 12-team leagues should have enough passers to go around. Previously, owners were making start/sit decisions based on who would be the quarterback who would do good enough. Now owners don't want to leave a three-touchdown passer on their bench while starting a guy who throws two.
Week 7 is all the proof you need that the NFL, now more than ever, is a pass-happy league. Fantasy owners should be elated for it. Seven quarterbacks threw at least three touchdowns. Eight threw for at least 250 yards. None of these quarterbacks are named Ben Roethlisberger or Matt Ryan, meaning that two of the league's premier young passers who typically are leaned on in Fantasy Football to put up big numbers missed out on delivering like their peers.
Teams are taking to the air for many reasons. Quarterbacks are more accurate and capable than ever. Receivers are as talented as ever as they blend size and speed. Cornerbacks and safeties around the league aren't catching up to their levels. Pass rushers are still talented, but so are many of the offensive linemen who block them. Thus, blitz schemes can be beaten. And coaches like many components that passing can give their offenses -- no-huddle versatility and matchup advantages included.
If you don't own a great Fantasy quarterback, you're behind the competition in your league. If you do own one, you're doing fine. Own two? It's time to strike a deal -- but only if someone really needs a quarterback. See, the problem with all these mighty passers is that demand for all but the very elite ones is low. It's almost to the point where having two great quarterbacks is a curse because you're not only yo-yoing between them from week to week but you can't get a fair deal for one of them.
What to do? Sit tight, obviously. It's always better to own two good passers and have one on your bench than for your opponent to start him against you (assuming no one's offering a good deal in trade). Also, football is a brutal game -- people get hurt. When a passer goes down, you can offer help via trade.
We'd say "ditto that" for quarterbacks who get benched, but let's be honest -- is anyone we've named getting benched anytime soon?!
At the very least, it will be fun to watch.
Let's take a look around at the rest of the Week 7 action.
Start of the Week result: Joseph Addai got off to a slow start and really didn't finish with the stats we expected him to have, but the 64 rush yards and rushing touchdown he pulled in was nothing to sneeze at. He would have had some more garbage time stats (rookie rusher Donald Brown got hurt in the first half) but made way for Chad Simpson in the fourth quarter, and Simpson found the end zone. He didn't have a pretty rushing average, and he only caught one pass, but Addai was still fairly productive.
Sit of the Week result: We'll find out Monday when DeSean Jackson does battle with the Redskins. Just a reminder: Jackson caught three total passes against Washington last season for 22 yards and hasn't connected much with Donovan McNabb under center like he did with Kevin Kolb when McNabb was out. And to make matters worse, the Redskins' pass defense has played well this season. If you have Jackson going for your team and need more than eight or nine Fantasy points on Monday, you'll be in trouble.
Insane stat line of the day: Hines Ward entered Week 7 leading the NFL in receiving yards. His totals against a Vikings defense missing its best cornerback? One catch for 3 yards. Part of the problem -- and this goes for all Steelers in Week 7 -- is that the Vikings owned the game clock and the Steelers offense ran 46 plays. A lot of owners were burned by Ward this week.
Out-of-nowhere stat line of the day: Alex Smith, welcome back to Fantasy relevance (not that you were really ever as Fantasy relevant as you are now). The 49ers pulled Shaun Hill in the first half against the Texans down 21-0 and gave Smith the keys to the offense. He gave them some solid play, hitting tight end Vernon Davis three times for touchdowns and nearly bringing the 49ers back to a victory. All told, Smith completed 15 of 22 passes for 206 yards with the three connections to Davis, 16 rush yards and a late interception. Head coach Mike Singletary wouldn't name a starter for Week 8 against the Colts, but you have to figure Smith will get a shot. He might even be worth a look as a flier in deeper leagues in case he keeps up this play, which goes against his career track record before he had shoulder surgery and missed all of 2008.
Guy we were way right about: Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has rediscovered Donald Driver, in turn giving the veteran a Fountain-of-Youth-like resurgence in Fantasy Football. Not only has Driver either scored or had 100 receiving yards in all but two games this season but teammate Greg Jennings is fading fast. Driver did a nice job eating up the Browns secondary on a 71-yard catch-and-run in Week 7, showing he still has plenty of giddyup.
Guy we were way wrong about: Marion Barber not only didn't put up a good rushing average, or find the end zone, or catch a decent amount of passes, but there's growing concern that Felix Jones and Tashard Choice will continue to take big bites out of his production going forward. A distressing stat: Fourteen carries and one catch for the power back in Week 7. That's not enough for a running back drafted early and held on to for a couple of weeks this season while he was hurt. He'll have a good matchup at home vs. the Seahawks in Week 8 to try and make up for this game.
Overachieving defense of the week: The Jets have been on the Fantasy rollercoaster, starting the year as a trendy No. 1 option, then falling flat after getting five sacks in six weeks while struggling to pin down the likes of the Bills. They redeemed themselves this week, albeit against a bad Raiders defense, smacking them for three sacks, two interceptions and a pair of forced fumbles, all the while hanging a zero on them. They even stood up to the Raiders very late with the game decided, shutting them out of the end zone inside of three minutes to play. Expected against the Raiders? Maybe, but for a beleaguered defense, even this was a surprise.
Underachieving defense of the week: The Saints might have beaten the Dolphins in Week 7, but their defense only did so much. New Orleans did not have an answer for the Wildcat and yielded a total of four rushing touchdowns and 128 rush yards to Ricky Williams (three scores!) and Ronnie Brown. They did come up big when it counted -- both of Dolphins quarterback Chad Henne's interceptions were returned for touchdowns -- but their play against the Dolphins run game is going to raise some eyebrows among offensive coordinators. The Saints might have their hands full in Week 8 with Michael Turner.
Names to add to your scout team:
Sam Aiken, wide receiver, New England (two catches, 66 yards, touchdown)
David Clowney, wide receiver, N.Y. Jets (four catches, 79 yards, touchdown)
Shonn Greene, running back, N.Y. Jets (19 carries, 144 yards, 2 TDs)
Brian Hartline, wide receiver, Miami (three catches, 94 yards)
Alex Smith, quarterback, San Francisco (15 of 22 passing, 206 yards, three TDs, interception)
Jason Snelling, running back, Atlanta (seven carries, 68 yards, 10-yard catch)
Bernard Berrian, hamstring, considered questionable for Week 8 at Green Bay
Donald Brown, shoulder, considered questionable for Week 8 vs. San Francisco
Jermichael Finley, knee, expected to miss Week 8 vs. Minnesota
Andre Johnson, chest, considered questionable for Week 8 at Buffalo
Leon Washington, broken leg, expected to miss rest of the season
The last word: Let's play a game. Here are the stats for a prominent NFL receiver:
Week 1: Two catches, 46 yards
Week 2: Three catches, 52 yards, TD
Week 3: No catches, no yards
Week 4: Three catches, 60 yards
Week 5: Four catches, 44 yards
Week 6: Three catches, 14 yards
Week 7: Three catches, 27 yards
Before you try and guess the receiver's identity, would you want him on your Fantasy team? Would you even consider starting someone on par with many of the league's low-end wideouts?
The winner got paid $6 million guaranteed before the season, and his team has won two straight games in spite of his poor play.
The player? Terrell Owens of the Buffalo Bills. If you've been worried about dropping him, go ahead. It's clear that he's a shell of his former self and unlikely to turn things around, at least on a consistent basis. Just try not to think about the out-of-nowhere receivers like Miles Austin, Sidney Rice, Mike Sims-Walker, Mario Manningham, Hakeem Nicks, Austin Collie, Mike Wallace, Johnny Knox, Pierre Garcon and others who weren't drafted that you could have picked up in place of T.O. at several points before this week.
What stood out to you this week? How did your Fantasy teams do? Drop us a line and tell us about it at email@example.com. Be sure to put Attn: Week 7 in the subject field. Please include your full name, hometown and state and we'll respond to as many as e-mails we can.