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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
Packers' Aaron Rodgers named NFL MVP at NFL Honors
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1/31/2015) Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers was named the 2015 NFL MVP at the NFL Honors awards show, held Saturday at the Phoenix Symphony Hall in Phoenix, Ariz.

Rodgers played all 16 regular-season games in 2014 for just the second time in the last five seasons, completing 65.6 percent of his passes while racking up 4,381 passing yards, 38 passing touchdowns and five interceptions. He also added two more touchdowns on the ground while gaining 269 rushing yards on 43 carries.

Several other awards were handed out at the ceremony Saturday, as follows.

AP Offensive Player of the Year: DeMarco Murray, Cowboys

AP Defensive Player of the Year: J.J. Watt, Texans

AP Offensive Rookie of the Year: Odell Beckham, Giants

AP Defensive Rookie of the Year: Aaron Donald, Rams

AP Comeback Player of the Year: Rob Gronkowski, Patriots

AP Coach of the Year: Bruce Arians, Cardinals

AP Assistant Coach of the Year: Todd Bowles, Cardinals

Walter Payton Man of Year: Thomas Davis, Panthers

Art Rooney Sportsmanship Award: Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals

Salute to Service Award: Jared Allen, Bears

NFL.com Fantasy Player of the Year: Le'Veon Bell, Steelers

FedEx Air Player of the Year: Aaron Rodgers, Packers

FedEx Ground Player of the Year: Le'Veon Bell, Steelers

Deacon Jones Award: Justin Houston, Chiefs

Greatness on the Road Award: Tony Romo, Cowboys

Bridgestone Performance Play of the Year: Odell Beckham one-handed catch

Don Shula High School Coach of the Year: Bruce Larson, Somerset (Wisconsin) High School

In addition, eight finalists were voted into the Hall of Fame: running back Jerome Bettis, wide receiver Tim Brown, defensive end/linebacker Charles Haley, linebacker Junior Seau, guard Will Shields, center Mick Tingelhoff and executives Bill Polian and Ron Wolf.


Seahawks' Kam Chancellor participates in Saturday walkthrough
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1/31/2015) Seahawks safety Kam Chancellor injured his knee late in Friday's practice but was well enough to participate in Saturday's walkthrough for Super Bowl XLIX, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports.

Coach Pete Carroll indicated optimism that Chancellor, who is considered probable to play Sunday, would be cleared to participate in the Super Bowl, per the Seahawks' pool report.

"He looked pretty good today," Carroll said. "We will make sure we test him in pregame, but he remarkably looked great today, and so that’s all we have to go on."

Chancellor is one of six Seattle players listed as probable to play in Sunday's game.


Lions WR Calvin Johnson does not need offseason surgery
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1/31/2015) Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson indicated Saturday that he will not need to undergo offseason surgery, the Detroit Free Press reports.

Johnson had surgery on his ankle and finger last offseason, and while he missed three games due to injury in October, he played every game from November onward despite being limited by an ankle injury in practice. The Lions wide receiver finished with 71 receptions for 1,077 yards and eight touchdowns in 2014.


Patriots upgrade center Bryan Stork to probable for Super Bowl
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(1/31/2015) The Patriots have upgraded center Bryan Stork to probable for Sunday's Super Bowl, the team announced Saturday. 

Stork was considered questionable with a knee injury after missing the AFC Championship game and was limited in practice Friday. The Patriots are currently 1-point favorites against the Seahawks Sunday.


Geno Smith hopeful Jets bring back Percy Harvin in 2015
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(1/31/2015) Jets quarterback Geno Smith knows he can't make the ultimate decision, but he wants to see Percy Harvin back in New York in 2015.

"I would love for Percy to come back," Smith said. "Obviously I can’t make that decision, but from my short time with him he’s been a great teammate. He’s obviously a dynamic player and I’d love to see what he can do in this new offense."

Harvin played eight games with the Jets in 2014, catching 29 passes for 350 yards. 

However, Harvin is due $10.5 million in base salary in 2014, and is under contract until 2018.


Eagles' Nick Foles expecting to be starter in Philadelphia next year
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(1/31/2015) Eagles quarterback Nick Foles said he is expecting to be back in Philadelphia in 2015, leading the offesne.

"My expectation is to be out there and be the starting guy," Foles said, according to CSNPhilly.com. "I expect to be out there with my teammates leading them. I’ve never thought otherwise throughout this whole time. 


"I know there’s been a lot of things said, but the only thing I’m worried about is making myself the best player, the best person to help lead my team."

Foles, who threw for 2,163 yards and 13 touchdowns in an injury-shortened season, expects to be back at full strength by the time training camp rolls around.

"Completely healthy, ready to go," he said. "Just grinding away. Just can’t wait to get back out there."


Jets' Geno Smith doesn't know if he will start in 2015
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(1/31/2015) Jets quarterback Geno Smith said Saturday he is unsure of his status with the team and has not received a definitive answer from new coach Todd Bowles on whether he will be the starter in 2015, according to Rich Cimini of ESPN.

Smith, who threw for 2,525 yards with 13 touchdowns in 2014, also isn't sure if the Jets will try to draft a quarterback in the first round like Jamies Winston or Marcus Mariota, but he would welcome the challenge as more competition.


Cardinals coach Bruce Arians: 'It's really (Fitzgerald's) decision'
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(1/31/2015) Cardinals coach Bruce Arians told reporters Friday he really wants to see wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald back in Arizona next season.

"I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t," Arians said. "We definitely, desperately want him to stay. He knows that. It’s really his decision."

Fitzgerald has a salary cap hit of $23.6 million for 2015 and the team will work to get that number down in the offseason. Team president Michael Bidwill said this week contract talks won't start fully until after the Super Bowl.

"I’m hoping and praying every day that it does happen," Arians said. "I’ve expressed to him personally how much it means to us."

Fitzgerald has not reached 1,000 yards receiving in the past three seasons and totaled 784 in 2014 on 63 catches with two touchdowns.


Seahawks corner Byron Maxwell set to test free agency
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(1/31/2015) Seahawks cornerback Byron Maxwell is ready to hit the free-agent market during the upcoming offseason and feels the Super Bowl will be his last game in Seattle.

"I’m the prettiest girl at the dance right now," Maxwell said. "But yeah, it’s one of those things I’m excited about it. I would love to be here, but I’m ready to see what’s out there and see how things work out."

Maxwell, who was heavily targeted this year with the Seahawks secondary filled with Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor, grabbed two interceptions and defended 11 passes.

"Coming into the season I already knew teams were going to try me," Maxwell said. "But it was cool. I accept that. That’s more opportunities for me to get the rock and put my name out there."


Report: Titans S Bernard Pollard wants to be released
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1/31/2015) Titans safety Bernard Pollard has requested a release from his contract, The Tennessean reports. He is scheduled to make $3.1 million in the final season of his two-year deal in 2015.

Pollard submitted his request to general manager Ruston Webster at the end of the regular season, per the report. He is recovering from a ruptured Achilles and wants to play in 2015, but said on The Tennessean's Bernard Pollard Show earlier this month that he was unsure of his future with the Titans.

"I am not getting any younger, so I want to win, I really do. I want to win,'' Pollard said. "Looking at how things took place this year, looking at where (the Titans) need to be for next year, that is a tough, tough question, and I don't even know if they can give me the answer. I have one year on my deal, but it is going to take some time."

Pollard has been out of his walking boot for a month and is making progress in rehab. He suffered his Achilles injury in Week 5 and was placed on injured reserve.


 
 
 
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