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Quick Fantasy Hits for Week 7

Senior Fantasy Writer
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As we wade into a seventh week of action, there are some nuggets that are too in-depth for the podcast, too smart for Twitter and a little too short for the full column. Enjoy these Week 7 Quick Fantasy Hits:

Your byes for Week 7: Atlanta, Denver, Kansas City, Miami, Philadelphia, San Diego.

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Speaking of bye weeks ... Take a quick look at these numbers:
Tony Romo: 25-for-36, 261 passing yards, two touchdowns, one interception (20 points)
Matthew Stafford: 22-for-45, 311 passing yards, one touchdown, one interception (22 points)
Carson Palmer: 23-for-33, 353 yards, one touchdown, one interception (16 points)
Josh Freeman: 15-for-26, 328 yards, three touchdowns, one interception (29 points)

Besides "they all threw an interception," these four quarterbacks all had one thing in common: they were coming off a bye in Week 6. Of the six quarterbacks who have played following a bye week, four had marked improvements over their average in their pre-bye week numbers. And only Ben Roethlisberger saw his stats take a hit. Observe:

Ben Roethlisberger
Weeks 1-3: 27 point average
Week 5: 15 points

Andrew Luck
Weeks 1-3: 20 point average
Week 5: 32 points

Tony Romo
Weeks 1-4: 14 point average
Week 6: 20 points

Matthew Stafford
Weeks 1-4: 16.75 point average
Week 6: 22 points

Carson Palmer
Weeks 1-4: 17 point average
Week 6: 16 points

Josh Freeman
Weeks 1-4: 13 point average
Week 6: 29 points

On average, even with Roethlisberger's down day factored in, quarterbacks coming off a bye in 2012 have seen their point output increase 24 percent over their pre-bye week numbers.

It wasn't just the group of quarterbacks coming off byes. In a lot of these cases, running backs had an uptick in output, as well (the Steelers and Lions aren't included here because of the changing nature of their running back position before and after the bye):
Donald Brown
Weeks 1-3: 6.3 point average
Week 5: 10 points

DeMarco Murray
Weeks 1-4: 9 point average
Week 6: 9 points (in what was essentially half of a game, thanks to his foot injury)

Darren McFadden
Weeks 1-4: 8.5 point average
Week 6: 13 points

Doug Martin
Weeks 1-4: 8.25 point average
Week 6: 12 points

These four running backs saw an average increase of 37 percent in their Fantasy point output.

Additionally, the stud receviers on post-bye week teams saw their numbers increase, as well (again, with the exception of the Steelers):
Reggie Wayne
Weeks 1-3: 11.3 point average
Week 5: 27 points

Mike Wallace
Weeks 1-3: 13.3 point average
Week 5: 1 point

Dez Bryant
Weeks 1-4: 6.75 point average
Week 6: 21 points

Calvin Johnson
Weeks 1-4: 11.75 point average
Week 6: 13 points

Denarius Moore
Weeks 2-4: 7.7 point average
Week 6: 16 points

Vincent Jackson
Weeks 1-4: 10 point average
Week 6: 18 points

So, even with Wallace's one-point performance dragging the numbers down, a team's No. 1/stud receiver (it's tough to determine one between Miles Austin and Dez Bryant on Dallas -- Bryant went 30 spots higher in drafts, so we're going with him), wide receivers saw a 57 percent increase in Fantasy point output coming off a bye.

Keep in mind, this is a somewhat small sample size -- six teams coming off bye weeks early in the season -- but it does have some merit. Teams coming off their bye have extra time to prepare for an opponent, have an extra game of their opponents' to watch and exploit weaknesses and have extra days to practice, get into grooves, correct early season mistakes and work on rapport. In short, there's no guarantee, but there is some pretty decent subjective and objective reasoning and statistical evidence supporting this. Again, a quick reminder of players who fit this criteria coming off their byes this week:
QB:Jay Cutler, Drew Brees, Cam Newton, Blaine Gabbert
RB:Matt Forte, Maurice Jones-Drew, Darren Sproles/Pierre Thomas/Mark Ingram, DeAngelo Williams/Jonathan Stewart
WR: Brandon Marshall, Marques Colston, Steve Smith, Justin Blackmon
Does it help to know that you should see an uptick in production from Brandon Marshall? Probably not. But if an owner is looking for replacement for Peyton Manning, and Jay Cutler is sitting on the wire, there's a decent chance, according to the numbers so far, that he could have a nice game as the Bears come off their bye.

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Let's go back to Week 1. Remember those halcyon days of freaking out and trying to grab Kevin Ogletree? How about throwing your hands up and quitting Victor Cruz for good? Here are the 10 players who have put up the most points since somewhat down Week 1 performances:

1. A.J. Green (7 points in Week 1, 90 points since = 83 point difference)
2. Victor Cruz (5 points in Week 1, 77 points since = 72 point difference)
3. Trent Richardson (3 in Week 1, 72 since = 69 point difference)
4. Arian Foster (19 in Week 1, 87 since = 68 point difference)
5. Wes Welker (1 in Week 1, 68 since = 67 point difference)
6. Jamaal Charles (8 in Week 1, 73 since = 65 point difference)
7. Roddy White (8 in Week 1, 68 since = 60 point difference)
8. Michael Turner (3 in Week 1, 61 since = 58 point difference)
9. Willis McGahee (6 in Week 1, 63 since = 57 point difference)
10. Marques Colston (5 in Week 1, 60 since = 55 point difference)

And here's a little more fun with numbers. We took the average Fantasy scores for players in the first three weeks and subtracted it from their average point total over the last three. What follows are the 10 players who started strong, then fell off:

1. C.J. Spiller (20.3 avg first three; 6.3 last three)
2. Andre Brown (13.3; 0.3)
3. Martellus Bennett (12; 1)
4. Santonio Holmes (9.3; 0)
5. Kevin Ogletree (10; 1)
6. Maurice Jones-Drew (14.7; 6)
7. Kevin Smith (8.7; 0)
8. Lance Moore (11.3; 3)
9. Dennis Pitta (10; 1.7)
10. Vernon Davis (13.3; 5)

A note of interest: Maurice Jones-Drew has technically lost more value than Kevin Smith, who hasn't gotten a point since Week 2. Jones-Drew had 44 points in his first three games, then produced weeks of 7 and 5 Fantasy points, respectively, before going on his bye in Week 6.
As far as the flip side to these numbers, the players who have seen the biggest value increases from the first three weeks to the last three are: Marques Colston, Ahmad Bradshaw, Jordy Nelson, Ryan Mathews, James Jones, Josh Gordon, Chris Givens, Wes Welker, Brandon Bolden, Antonio Gates, Shonn Greene, Jason Witten, Victor Cruz, Roddy White, Dez Bryant and Chris Johnson.

DeSean Jackson and Steve Johnson may be ready to break out. As far as Fantasy points go, Jackson ranks 77th while Johnson is 82nd. Jackson has caught 29 passes for 465 yards and a touchdown while Johnson has caught 27 for 316 and three touchdowns. But they have been targeted plenty:

Jackson's targets (weekly): 9, 9, 9, 9, 9, 8
Johnson's targets (weekly): 10, 5, 11, 10, 9, 11

The targets just haven't translated into receptions:

Jackson's receptions (weekly): 4, 7, 3, 6, 4, 5
Johnson's receptions (weekly): 4, 2, 7, 2, 6, 6

Jackson has averaged 8.8 targets per week with 4.8 receptions, a conversion rate of 55 percent. Johnson has averaged 9.3 targets per week with 4.5 receptions, a conversion rate of 48 percent. Of the top 100 running backs, tight ends and wide receivers in the league this year, the conversion rate has been 64 percent, meaning both Jackson and Johnson are considerably below average. And even if you just use wide receivers, the rate for the top 100 at that position is still 60 percent. In fact, among the top 100 wide receivers in Fantasy points this season, Johnson has the 13th-lowest target conversion ratio and Jackson has the 30th-lowest. Among players with 50 or more targets they rank the lowest and third-lowest, respectively (Dwayne Bowe is second, at 51.5 percent on 66 targets). With Jackson on a bye this week, his owners may be even more willing to trade, in order to fill a possible hole in the starting lineup.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us on Twitter @CBSFantasyFB or Nando Di Fino at @NandoCBS . You can also send our staff an e-mail at fantasyfootball@cbsinteractive.com .

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Player News
Eagles' Earl Wolff, Marcus Smith limited in OTAs with injuries
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(9:33 pm ET) Eagles safety Earl Wolff and linebacker Marcus Smith were limited in OTAs with injuries, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.

Wolff is recovering from knee surgery. Coach Chip Kelly said the safety has been cleared to return, and the team is waiting for him to reach full participation in OTAs. Smith has been dealing with a pulled leg muscle.


Packers' Casey Hayward dealing with foot injury
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(9:27 pm ET) Packers cornerback Casey Hayward is dealing with a foot injury and doesn't expect to return to action until training camp, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports.

"I’ll probably take it easy into camp right now," Hayward said. "I have a minor foot thing right now. We’ll probably take it easy into camp."

Hayward said the foot "flared up" on him earlier in the offseason. He finished with 42 tackles and three interceptions last season.


Ravens' Terrence Brooks running, 'doing really well'
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(9:19 pm ET) Ravens free safety Terrence Brooks is running after suffering ACL and MCL tears in his right knee in December, the Baltimore Sun reports.

"Terrence Brooks is doing really well," coach Jim Harbaugh said. "No predictions right now, but he looks good. He has worked hard."

Brooks is expected to open the season on the PUP list and could make his return this season.

"We're just hoping for the best, trying to get back as soon as possible," Brooks said. "We're taking precautious. We definitely don't want to rush back too fast. If you do get cleared, playing this year is definitely a goal. You don't want to rush it. For the most part, you have to be cautious and take it easy. After we get off of the PUP list, we'll see where we're at. I definitely want to get back into it, but we're taking our time. I have high hopes of being ready."


Report: OT Jake Long visits Giants Thursday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(8:45 pm ET) Free-agent offensive tackle Jake Long visited the Giants on Thursday, ESPN reports.

The Giants are having to shuffle their offensive line with Will Beatty expected to miss the first part of the season with a pec injury. Long was scheduled to make $9.25 million in 2015 but was released by the Rams in March.


Saints CB Brandon Browner impressing teammates, coach
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(7:11 pm ET) New Saints cornerback Brandon Browner is having a positive impact on not just the secondary, but the entire defense. At least that's the view of defensive backfield mate Kenny Vaccaro.

"Browner's a good dude, leads by example, talks when he needs to talk," Vaccaro told the New Orleans Times-Picayune. "He's real serious, kind of keeps everybody level headed and knows what we've got to work for. He's won two Super Bowls, so he knows what to do."

Sean Payton echoed those sentiments.

"He's competitive," he said. "He's driven and certainly one of the things we talked about this offseason through the draft, through the acquisition of players is the makeup and making sure that this is something we felt like was a plus and certainly with him we feel that that is a strength of his."

The Saints are Browner's fourth team in six seasons in the NFL.


Eagles LB DeMeco Ryans working way back from injury
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(6:37 pm ET) There was a bit of a discrepancy Thursday in regard to the practice participation of Eagles inside linebacker DeMeco Ryans.

Chip Kelly said before the session that Ryans would be a full-go despite him being just seven months removed from rupturing his Achilles tendon. Ryans did practice, but he told the Philadelphia Inquirer that he was not a full participant.

Ryans missed half of the 2014 season with the injury, but contributed to 45 tackles in eight games before going down.


Eagles QB Mark Sanchez optimistic as offseason rolls on
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(6:28 pm ET) A stronger arm, greater familiarity with the offense and more confidence has Eagles quarterback Mark Sanchez feeling quite good these days.

Sanchez underwent shoulder surgery two years ago that affected him early last season. He expects to be better in 2015, especially if given an opportunity to play over newcomer Sam Bradford.

"First thing, physically, I feel so much better," he told the team website. "The farther it gets away from surgery and all the reps I've had, all the rehab on through, it can only get better and stronger. So this is definitely the best I've ever felt. And then as far as the scheme, every rep, every time we sit down and watch film, every meeting, that can only help with my growth as well."

The chance to play is one reason why Sanchez chose to return this offseason to the Eagles.

"Were there other opportunitites? Absolutely," he said. "Did they look potentially good, better, similar, maybe worse? Potentially, yeah, there was some stuff out there. But when I factored it all in, I just felt this was the best spot for me. I enjoy playing for coach Kelly, I love this system, I love the tempo, I love the pace."

Sanchez also expressed a desire to remain on the team for which he threw his highest completition percentage of his career in 2014. He hit on 64.1 percent, by far a personal best.

Chip Kelly has seen a difference in Sanchez.

"I think you can see it in how he's performing out there now," he said. "He's also not learning an offense again. ... He is really comfortable in terms of the scheme."


Ravens waive/injured Julian Wilson
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(6:04 pm ET) The Ravens waived/injured cornerback Julian Wilson on Thursday, the Baltimore Sun reports. Wilson suffered a broken leg on the first day of rookie camp and will miss the season.

Saints' Anthony Spencer works ahead of Junior Galette Thursday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(6:01 pm ET) Saints linebacker Anthony Spencer worked ahead of Junior Galette in the team's base 4-3 defense, a run-heavy look that featured just three linebackers, ESPN.com reports.

"However it came out, we’re not worried about depth chart now," defensive coordinator Rob Ryan said. "We’re putting in a defense, we’re all working hard together and getting to know each other, our teammates and what we got. But I know both those guys can play, so we’re excited about 'em."

Spencer had a career-high 11 sacks in 2012 but has managed just 24 total tackles and a half-sack in 14 games over the last two years while dealing with a major knee injury.

"I think sometimes there are tougher positions to evaluate at this time of year," coach Sean Payton said, when asked to give his early thoughts on Spencer. "But I think, No. 1, he can affect the passer. ... He’s an edge player, I think he’s very good at fitting the run, and I think he can affect the passer."


Report: Bryant participates in drills despite unsigned franchise tender
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(5:46 pm ET) Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant took a huge risk by participating in a limited portion of his team's organized team activities on Thursday, because he has yet to sign his franchise-tag tender, sources told Todd Archer of ESPN.com.

Bryant, who wants a long-term deal, has made a number of appearances at the Cowboys' offseason conditioning program but Thursday was the first day he participated in meaningful on-field work.

Bryant and the Cowboys need to work out a long-term deal before July 15 or he would be forced to play the season under the franchise tag, which would pay him $12.8 million.

In 16 games last year, Bryant caught 88 passes for 1,320 yards and 16 touchdowns.


 
 
 
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