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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: Redskins benching RG3 for Colt McCoy
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(11:18 pm ET) The Redskins are planning to start Colt McCoy over Robert Griffin III at quarterback Sunday at Indianapolis, reports ESPN's Adam Schefter. The move is expected to become official Wednesday when coach Jay Gruden meets with reporters, Schefter said.

McCoy went 2-0 as a starter while Griffin recovered from his dislocated ankle. Griffin threw for 106 yards and took five sacks in the Week 12 loss at San Francisco.

Over the last three games, all losses, Griffin has thrown for 564 yards and two touchdowns with three interceptions. He's holding the ball too long and not throwing with authority when he does let it fly.

Although Griffin is not part of Sunday's game plan, he remains "a significant part of the Redskins' long-term plan," the report said.


Seahawks TE Cooper Helfet nursing ankle injury
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(10:41 pm ET) Seahawks tight end Cooper Helfet, who caught a 20-yard touchdown pass Sunday, did not practice Tuesday due to an ankle injury. His status is uncertain for Thursday's game at the 49ers.

Two of Helfet's 10 grabs this year have gone for touchdowns.


Bruce Arians: Larry Fitzgerald 'felt some progress today'
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(10:27 pm ET) Cardinals coach Bruce Arians told SiriusXM NFL Radio that wideout Larry Fitzgerald "finally felt some progress today" in his recovery from a sprained MCL. The injury forced Fitzgerald to sit out Week 12 at Seattle, his first missed game since 2007.

The Cardinals visit the Falcons on Sunday, and Fitzgerald's status will be updated throughout the week.


Nick Fairley appears unlikely to return Week 13
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(10:15 pm ET) Lions defensive tackle Nick Fairley, who's been out since Week 8 with a knee injury, is not practicing this week. Fairley seems unlikely to return for Thursday's game against the Bears.

Bears LB Lance Briggs, CB Kyle Fuller miss practice
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(10:12 pm ET) Bears linebacker Lance Briggs (groin) and cornerback Kyle Fuller (knee) missed practice Tuesday as the team prepared for the Thanksgiving game at Detroit. Both left the Week 12 win over Tampa Bay and did not return.

Both starters could be gametime decisions Thursday.


49ers DE Justin Smith misses practice with back injury
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(9:44 pm ET) 49ers defensive end Justin Smith did not practice Tuesday due to a back injury, but defensive coordinator Vic Fangio told reporters he'd be surprised if Smith missed Thursday's game against the Seahawks. Smith has 33 tackles, four sacks and two forced fumbles this season.

49ers RT Anthony Davis still out with concussion
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(9:39 pm ET) 49ers starting right tackle Anthony Davis, who sat out Week 12 with a concussion, was unable to practice Tuesday ahead of Thursday's game against the Seahawks.

C Max Unger's injury posing problems for Seahawks
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(9:32 pm ET) Seahawks starting center Max Unger, who suffered a high ankle sprain Week 11, was unable to practice Tuesday as the team prepared for Thursday's game at the 49ers. Unger's absence was a big factor in Seattle allowing seven sacks Week 12 against Arizona.

Coach Pete Carroll told reporters he didn't know if Patrick Lewis would get another start at center, or if the team would go with recently-signed Lemuel Jeanpierre.


Coach: Cards got RB Michael Bush to 'close out games'
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(9:23 pm ET) Cardinals coach Bruce Arians told SiriusXM NFL Radio that the team signed running back Michael Bush because "we need a guy who's going to pound it in there and close out games for us." Bush, 30, scored 25 touchdowns over the past four seasons before getting released by the Bears.

Cardinals starter Andre Ellington has averaged under 3.0 yards per carry in three straight games and has rushed for three touchdowns this season.


Broncos TE Julius Thomas has 'a chance' to play Week 13
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(8:39 pm ET) Broncos tight end Julius Thomas sat out Week 12 due to his "severely sprained left ankle," but "there's a chance" he'll return for Sunday night's game at Kansas City, reports the Denver Post. More will be known Wednesday when Denver returns to practice.

"I have had better days, and I have had worse days," Thomas told the paper on Monday. "You hope you just wake up one day and it feels good again, but that didn't happen last week. But it has improved."

Thomas still leads the NFL with 12 touchdown catches.


 
 
 
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