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Instant reactions from Week 7

Senior Fantasy Writer
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It looks like Matt Ryan is going to be just fine. He played great in his first game with a depleted receiving corps Sunday against Tampa Bay.

The Falcons didn't have Julio Jones (foot), Roddy White (hamstring) or Steven Jackson (hamstring) in Week 7, but Ryan had his best game of the year. He was 20 of 26 passing for 273 yards and three touchdowns, which was good for a season-high 28 Fantasy points.

Ryan was successful without Tony Gonzalez doing much since he had just two catches for 30 yards on four targets. Helping Ryan shine was Harry Douglas and Jacquizz Rodgers, who combined for all three of Ryan's scores. Douglas had seven catches for 149 yards and one touchdown on seven targets, and Rodgers had eight catches for 46 yards and two touchdowns on nine targets, with eight carries for 16 yards.

I didn't like Ryan in Week 7 because it was his first matchup without his top two receivers, and prior to the past two games the Buccaneers defense had played well against opposing quarterbacks. But I wasn't giving up on Ryan for the season just because Jones is out for the year.

White and Jackson will hopefully return soon, and the Falcons defense is terrible. That's going to allow Ryan to attempt plenty of passes, especially until Jackson is back at 100 percent. I would start Ryan in Week 8 at Arizona, and the Cardinals have allowed five of seven quarterbacks to score at least 19 Fantasy points this season.

Ryan now has a new weapon to help him in Douglas. He's obviously not going to play every week like he did against the Bucs since this was a career high in yards and his first touchdown of the season, but the opportunity is now there for him to shine. He is owned in 76 percent of leagues on CBSSports.com, so if he's out there add him now.

Rodgers also should continue to be productive until Jackson returns since he now has four touchdowns in his past two games against the Jets and Bucs with 12 catches over that span. But the story for the Falcons in Week 7 was Ryan.

He should remain a starting Fantasy quarterback in all leagues until he proves otherwise, and he will only get better when White and Jackson get healthy. It's too bad Jones is out, but just because his No. 1 weapon is hurt it doesn't mean Ryan's season is done.

As for the other injury story heading into Week 7, Jarrett Boykin replaced the injured Randall Cobb (knee) and James Jones (knee) and led the Packers with eight catches for 103 yards and a touchdown on 10 targets. Boykin is owned in just 37 percent of leagues, and he is a must-add receiver this week.

He also helped Aaron Rodgers score 29 Fantasy points with 25 of 36 passing for 260 yards and three touchdowns. He clearly is still a must-start Fantasy quarterback.

Injuries of note: Arian Foster (hamstring), Doug Martin (shoulder), Jay Cutler (groin), Sam Bradford (knee), Nick Foles (head), Jermichael Finley (concussion)

Foster left Sunday's game at Kansas City in the first quarter after he had four carries for 11 yards. The Texans have a bye in Week 8, but if Foster is out for an extended period of time then Ben Tate could turn into a must-start Fantasy running back. Tate had 15 carries for 50 yards and two catches for 5 yards after Foster went down.

Martin left early in the third quarter against Atlanta, and he finished with 11 carries for 47 yards and one catch for 7 yards. He was replaced by Mike James, who had 14 carries for 45 yards and three catches for 8 yards. James is owned in just 1 percent of leagues, and he would be worth adding in all formats if Martin misses time. Tampa Bay plays Carolina in Week 8.

The Bears are off in Week 8, but Cutler might have to miss some time after getting hurt in the second quarter at Washington. He's headed for an MRI, but the Bears are already planning to sign Jordan Palmer as a backup to No. 2 quarterback Josh McCown. Cutler was 3 of 8 passing for 28 yards and an interception before getting hurt.

McCown took over for Cutler and did well, completing 14 of 20 passes for 204 yards and one touchdown and four carries for 33 yards. If he starts in Week 9 at Green Bay he could end up as a low-end starting option in two-quarterback leagues. McCown is not owned in CBSSports.com leagues.

Bradford "was in significant pain" after being carted off the field at Carolina, and the Rams fear he could have a serious injury. Bradford was a Top 10 Fantasy quarterback prior to Week 7, and he finished the game against the Panthers 21 of 30 passing for 255 yards, one touchdown and one interception.

If Bradford is out in Week 8 against Seattle then Kellen Clemens would start, but Clemens has minimal Fantasy value in the majority of leagues. The entire Rams offense would suffer if Bradford is out for the season.

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Foles left in the fourth quarter against Dallas with a head injury, and he might be done as the starter for the foreseeable future. Even if he's OK for Week 8 against the Giants, the Eagles could go back to Michael Vick (hamstring), who was inactive against the Cowboys. Foles struggled before leaving with 11 of 29 passing for 80 yards. Matt Barkley came on for Foles and was 11 of 20 passing for 129 yards and three interceptions, and he would only start if Foles and Vick are out.

We hope Finley is OK after he appeared to have suffered a concussion against the Browns. It's his second concussion of the season, and he could be out for Week 8 at Minnesota. He was great before he left with five catches for 72 yards and a touchdown.

Rob Gronkowski returns, Tom Brady still struggles: Fantasy owners got Gronkowski back in Week 7 at the Jets after he was out all season, and he was great with eight catches for 114 yards on 17 targets. He's obviously a must-start Fantasy option going forward, and it's great to have him healthy again.

But even with Gronkowski back, Brady was again mediocre. He was 22 of 46 passing for 228 yards and an interception, and he now has one touchdown in his past three games.

The Patriots play Miami in Week 8, and Brady has the chance to rebound, especially if Danny Amendola (concussion) can return. But if Brady doesn't turn it around in a hurry Fantasy owners are going to start benching him, especially if they have a capable backup option.

Trio of Redskins shine: The Redskins had three top Fantasy producers in Week 7 with Robert Griffin III, Roy Helu and Jordan Reed. For Griffin, he needed a big performance against the Bears after three terrible games since Week 2, and he was great with 18 of 29 passing for 298 yards, two touchdowns and one interception and 11 carries for 84 yards.

Griffin has now run for at least 77 yards in consecutive games, and he could start playing like an elite Fantasy option again. He is worth starting in all leagues in Week 8 at Denver.

Helu was a huge surprise with 11 carries for 41 yards and three touchdowns since he came into this game with three career touchdowns. Alfred Morris was still good with 19 carries for 95 yards, but Helu just took away the touchdowns. We don't expect Helu to become a touchdown vulture, but he is someone to keep your eye on in case he gets more work moving forward. He's owned in 44 percent of leagues.

Reed was someone we've liked for the past few weeks, and he had a career game against the Bears with nine catches for 134 yards and a touchdown on nine targets. He has the chance to be a starting Fantasy tight end the rest of the season, and he's worth using against the Broncos next week. Reed is owned in 39 percent of leagues.

Andy Dalton getting hot: Dalton showed in 2012 that when he gets hot he could be unstoppable, and he might be heating up right now. Last year, Dalton had multiple touchdowns in seven of 10 games from Week 2 to Week 12, and he's looking like that quarterback again the past two weeks.

Dalton was 24 of 34 passing for 372 yards and three touchdowns against the Lions on Sunday for 32 Fantasy points, and he now has 62 points in the past two weeks against Detroit and Buffalo. The Bengals play the Jets in Week 8, and Dalton should be considered a starting Fantasy option.

It helps that Marvin Jones is making an impact to help A.J. Green and this receiving corps. Jones had four catches for 57 yards and a touchdown against the Lions and now has touchdowns in consecutive games. He is worth adding in deeper leagues.

Chris Ivory hot, Bilal Powell cold: The Jets decided to feature Ivory against the Patriots and go away from Powell. Ivory had 34 carries for 104 yards and one catch for minus-2 yards, and Powell was barely used with three carries for 6 yards and no catches on two targets.

It might have been a matchup-based scenario since New England was vulnerable in the middle of the defense without Vince Wilfork (Achilles) and Jerod Mayo (pectoral), and Ivory is a power back. But this is now a scenario to monitor, and Ivory is owned in just 36 percent of leagues. He is worth adding in all formats heading into Week 8 at Cincinnati.

Ryan Mathews coming alive: The Chargers have a bye in Week 8, which could be coming at the wrong time for Mathews since he's been hot of late. He had 21 carries for 110 yards and a touchdown Sunday at Jacksonville.

Mathews now has three games with double digits in Fantasy points in his past four outings, and he has become a solid option again in all leagues. He has a favorable schedule after the bye with Washington, Denver and Miami starting in Week 9, and the key for Mathews is touches. In the three games of note recently against Dallas, Indianapolis and Jacksonville he had at least 21 touches, so hopefully that will continue moving forward.

C.J. Spiller still stuck in neutral: Anyone who thought Spiller was going to run well against the Dolphins in Week 7 didn't watch him in Week 6 against Cincinnati when he was limping around. His ankle is a problem and continues to limit his production.

Spiller struggled against the Dolphins with six carries for 11 yards and three catches for minus-4 yards on three targets. He was also again outplayed by Fred Jackson, who had 11 carries for 36 yards and a touchdown and four catches for 49 yards.

Until Spiller can prove he's 100 percent, he should not be started in the majority of leagues. Spiller has been the biggest bust this season, which is disappointing, but he has to play better before most owners can trust him. We hope it will happen, but right now we're pessimistic, especially heading into Week 8 at New Orleans.

Waiver Wire preview: Here is a preview of the players we will highlight on Playing the Waiver Wire on Tuesday.

Quarterbacks: Terrelle Pryor, Raiders (61 percent ownership on CBSSports.com), Ryan Tannehill, Dolphins (48 percent), Carson Palmer, Cardinals (41 percent), Geno Smith, Jets (27 percent), Jake Locker, Titans (15 percent), Mike Glennon, Buccaneers (12 percent), Case Keenum, Texans (4 percent), Josh McCown, Bears (0 percent)

Running backs: Shane Vereen, Patriots (58 percent), Roy Helu, Redskins (44 percent), Chris Ivory, Jets (36 percent), Andre Brown, Giants (34 percent), Mike Tolbert, Panthers (27 percent), Daniel Thomas, Dolphins (24 percent), Brandon Bolden, Patriots (23 percent), Khiry Robinson, Saints (5 percent), Phillip Tanner, Cowboys (2 percent), Mike James, Buccaneers (1 percent),

Wide receivers: Harry Douglas, Falcons (76 percent), DeAndre Hopkins, Texans (70 percent), Eddie Royal, Chargers (49 percent), Kendall Wright, Titans (41 percent), Sidney Rice, Seahawks (39 percent), Jarrett Boykin, Packers (37 percent), Riley Cooper, Eagles (19 percent), Jeremy Kerley, Jets (11 percent), Brandon Gibson, Dolphins (7 percent), Marvin Jones, Bengals (7 percent), Brian Quick, Rams (1 percent), Mike Brown, Jaguars (1 percent), Aldrick Robinson, Redskins (0 percent)

Tight ends: Tyler Eifert, Bengals (42 percent), Jordan Reed, Redskins (39 percent), Brandon Pettigrew, Lions (32 percent), Dallas Clark, Ravens (25 percent), Zach Miller, Seahawks (13 percent), Delanie Walker, Titans (7 percent), Rob Housler, Cardinals (4 percent)

Start 'Em/Sit 'Em star: Eddie Lacy lived up to the billing as a must-start Fantasy running back with his performance against the Browns. He had 16 Fantasy points with 22 carries for 82 yards and a touchdown and five catches for 26 yards. Look for him to play well again in Week 8 against the Vikings.

Start 'Em/Sit 'Em flop: Zac Stacy scored the first touchdown for a Rams running back this season -- on a reception. He had 17 carries for 52 yards at Carolina and four catches for 34 yards and a touchdown. Stacy might have to carry the offense going forward depending on Bradford's injury, but he has a difficult matchup in Week 8 against Seattle.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us via Twitter @CBSFantasyFB . You can also follow Jamey at @JameyEisenberg .

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Player News
Cardinals' Thomas starts practice 'shaky,' finishes 'pretty strong'
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(9:29 pm ET) Cardinals coach Bruce Arians indicated that Week 17 starting quarterback Logan Thomas was "shaky" at the beginning of Wednesday's practice but finished "pretty strong" as he developed an understanding of where to throw his passes, ESPN.com reports.

"He's worked, fundamentally, extremely hard and gotten much better," Arians said. "But putting those fundamentals to use in the offense, that's two totally different things."

Thomas has just three days of practice before facing the 49ers in a game that has the possibility of landing his team with a first-round bye with a win and help from other results.

"It wasn't the greatest, but as it went on, it got better and better," Thomas added. "It just comes with reps and comes with time."

The Cardinals are a 6-point underdog in San Francisco Sunday.


Seahawks' Russell Okung, Max Unger practice Wednesday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(8:07 pm ET) Seahawks left tackle Russell Okung (lung) practiced in full Wednesday, while center Max Unger (ankle) was able to return to practice in a limited fashion.

Okung is on track to return in Week 17 after missing last week's game with a bruised lung. Unger hasn't played in any of the team's last five game due to a high ankle sprain. The Seahawks will earn the No. 1 seed in the NFC with a win Sunday, and it's possible Unger suits up for the crucial game.

The Seahawks are a 12 1/2-point favorite at home against the Rams in Week 17.


Raiders QB Derek Carr practices Wednesday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(6:39 pm ET) Raiders quarterback Derek Carr was able to practice Wednesday despite dealing with an illness.

"I got here early to work out and see how I would feel during that and after that and I felt pretty good," Carr said at a press conference Wednesday. "So, felt good at practice today, obviously not 100 percent but it felt good to practice and be out here."

Carr has been able to start every game for the Raiders this season, completing 58.6 percent of his passes while racking up 3,112 passing yards, 20 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. The Raiders are a 14-point underdog in Denver in Week 17.


Broncos RB Ronnie Hillman practices in full Wednesday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(6:32 pm ET) Broncos running back Ronnie Hillman was able to practice in full Wednesday for the first time since suffering a left foot injury on Nov. 9, ESPN.com reports.

"We've had a chance to watch him all week, participate and he's obviously further ahead than he was this time a week ago," head coach John Fox said after Wednesday's practice. "And the fact we're on grass, not on Astroturf, lot of variables, but I like what I see."

Hillman has been able to practice in a limited fashion during the last two weeks but hasn't been active on gameday since the injury occured. The Broncos are a 14-point favorite at home against the Raiders in Week 17.


Falcons RB Steven Jackson (quad) expected to miss Week 17
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(6:28 pm ET) Falcons running back Steven Jackson (quad) is not expected to play in Sunday's Week 17 matchup with the Panthers, ESPN.com reports.

Jackson missed practice Wednesday and the team promoted running back Jerome Smith from the practice squad. Jacquizz Rodgers and Devonta Freeman are expected to share the workload in the critical regular-season finale if Jackson is indeed sidelined.

The Falcons are a 4-point favorite at home against the Panthers.


49ers RB Carlos Hyde still sidelined
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(5:45 pm ET) 49ers rookie running back Carlos Hyde missed practice again Wednesday with an ankle injury. He sat out Week 16 and appears likely to miss Sunday's game against Arizona, too.

With Hyde out, veteran Frank Gore went off for 158 yards and a touchdown on 26 carries against San Diego. Gore should see another big workload against the Cardinals.


Michael Crabtree doesn't sound eager to return to 49ers
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(5:35 pm ET) Impending free-agent receiver Michael Crabtree was asked Wednesday if he wants to return to the 49ers next season. "It depends," Crabtree said, per the San Francisco Chronicle. "I don't even want to talk about it."

Crabtree is finishing up a disappointing season. He's played every game but has only 64 catches for 657 yards and four touchdowns, a far cry from the 85 grabs, 1,105 yards and nine touchdowns he put up in his last full season, 2012.


Ravens LT Eugene Monroe bothered by ankle injury
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(5:27 pm ET) Ravens starting left tackle Eugene Monroe, who hurt his ankle Week 16 against Houston, missed practice Wednesday, reports ESPN.com. His status is uncertain for the regular-season finale at Tennessee.

If Monroe can't play, undrafted rookie James Hurst likely would start, the website said.


Chiefs WR Dwayne Bowe (shoulder) unable to practice
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(5:18 pm ET) Chiefs wideout Dwayne Bowe, who sprained his shoulder in last week's loss at Pittsburgh, was unable to practice Wednesday, reports ESPN.com. Bowe leads Chiefs wideouts with 57 catches for 724 yards.

Kansas City hosts San Diego on Sunday as a 3-point favorite.


Lions OC not concerned about Joique Bell's Achilles' injury
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(5:07 pm ET) Lions running back Joique Bell was limited in Wednesday's practice by an Achilles' injury, but offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi doesn't think the injury will hinder Bell in Sunday's pivotal game at Green Bay, reports ESPN.com. Bell has four rushing touchdowns in his past four games.

The Lions are 8-point underdogs Sunday in the game that will decide the NFC North.


 
 
 
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