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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
Report: Titans, TE Craig Stevens agree to restructured contract
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12:29 am ET) The Titans and tight end Craig Stevens agreed to a restructured contract Wednesday, The Tennessean reports.

Stevens had been scheduled to make $3.5 million in 2015, but he'll make a similar amount to his $1.6-million salary from 2014. He was placed on injured reserve after five games last season due to a thigh injury.


Vikings sign defensive end Caesar Rayford
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(4/1/2015) The Vikings signed defensive end Caesar Rayford on Wednesday, Rayford's representation, the Willis & Woy Sports group announced.

Rayford attended the NFL veterans combine, which gave him another look for NFL teams. Rayford was last in the CFL and the Arena League. He was last in the NFL in 2013 when he was with the Cowboys. 


Broncos LB Reggie Walker said he'll add versatility to position
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(4/1/2015) Linebacker Reggie Walker is all right with doing whatever the Broncos coaching staff asks of him. 

Walker, in an interview with DenverBroncos.com, said one of his biggest assets as a football player is the ability to play multiple positions as a linebacker. However, his primary position is at inside linebacker. 

"I’ve had to play in multiple positions throughout my football career; I can do a lot," Walker said. "I think I can do a lot very well. Hopefully I can come out here and show that and I’m going to be ready to compete."

Walker will earn his pay check on special teams. That was a role he played with the Chargers and one the Broncos will rely on him for as well. 

"Special teams is all a mindset," Walker said. "It’s all just about who’s willing to work harder and I’m going to work as hard as I can so I’ll be great at it."


Browns' Randy Starks wants to 'take care of the defensive line'
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(4/1/2015) One attribute that defensive lineman Randy Starks is looking to bring to the Browns is leadership. 

Coming from Miami, Starks is hoping to be an outspoken leader to the younger members on the defensive line. Starks added that he doesn't necessarily want to try and assert his authority over the whole defense. 

“I’m not trying to come here and take over the whole defense," Starks said on Sirius XM radio, via ClevelandBrowns.com. "I’m just trying to take care of the defensive line, and that will help take care of the defense itself. Because we have (Karlos) Dansby and Joe Haden to take care of their respective positions.”

Starks recorded 28 tackles and 4 1/2 sacks in 15 games in 2014. In 11 seasons, Starks has only been to the playoffs twice. He's hoping that changes with the Browns. 

“That’s the same thing I told (coach Mike Pettine): I’m trying to win games," Starks said. "I’m trying to get to the playoffs. And we’re on the same page.”


Cardinals' Kareem Martin could move from DE to OLB
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(4/1/2015) Cardinals pass-rusher Kareem Martin could be going from having his hand in the dirt to standing up with the intent of rushing the passer. 

Martin, who spent his rookie season at defensive end, is being considered for a move to outside linebacker, coach Bruce Arians told the team's website

"With his length, I wouldn't say he's (San Francisco’s) Aldon Smith at this point in his career, but he's got that body style and he's shown some stuff off the edge,” Arians said. “So we are going to look at him to see if he can play in space at all. That might be a spot where he can find his niche as a pass rusher.”

Martin actually spent one day during his rookie year in the outside linebackers meeting room before making the move to defensive end. When Martin worked with the scout team, he would occasionally work as an outside linebacker.

“Being on the edge won’t be so foreign to me,” Martin said. “I’m ready for it.” 


Ravens' Steve Bisciotti: Haloti Ngata could return in 2016
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(4/1/2015) In a conference call with PSL ticket holders, Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti didn't rule out the possibility of defensive tackle Haloti Ngata returning to the organization in 2016. 

The Ravens tried to restructure Ngata's contract but were unable to, and thus traded him to the Lions. Ngata is in the final year of a four-year, $48.5 million contract he signed after the 2011 season started. 

Ngata was drafted by the Ravens in the first round in 2006. In his nine-year career, he's totaled 445 tackles and 25.5 sacks. 


Ravens working on contract extension with G Marshal Yanda
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(4/1/2015) The Ravens are working on a contract extension with right guard Marshal Yanda, owner Steve Bisciotti said on a conference call with PSL ticket holders. 

Yanda is slated to earn a $5.5 million base salary and carry an $8.45 million cap number heading into 2015, the final year of his contract. Yanda's regarded as one of the top interior linemen in the NFL, making him a prime candidate for the Ravens to work a new deal out with. 


Jets re-sign offensive tackle Ben Ijalana
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(4/1/2015) The Jets announced on Wednesday that they have re-signed offensive tackle Ben Ijalana

Ijalana has been with the Jets the previous two seasons after the organization claimed him of of waivers from the Colts prior to the beginning of the 2013 regular season. The Colts selected Ijalana in the second round of the 2011 draft. 


Reports: Stefan Wisniewski visited Jaguars, Patriots
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(4/1/2015) The Jaguars hosted free-agent center Stefen Wisniewski on a visit on Wednesday, according to a report from the Florida Times-Union.

Wisniewski also recently visited the Patriots, according to NFL.com, with both New England and Jacksonville in need of interior offensive linemen. Wisniewski spent the past four years with the Raiders, appearing in 61 games. 


Jets sign linebacker Jamari Lattimore
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(4/1/2015) The Jets announced on Wednesday that they have signed unrestricted free agent linebacker Jamari Lattimore

Lattimore spent the previous four seasons with the Packers. Lattimore signed with the Packers in 2011 as an undrafted free agent out of Middle Tennessee State. He's played inside linebacker and special teams for Green Bay. 

In 2014, Lattimore started five games and totaled 35 tackles. 


 
 
 
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