2013 Fantasy Football News and Notes: Week 7

Buffalo: Rookie QB E.J. Manuel remains OUT with a knee injury and won't be back until around week 12. Thaddeus Lewis suffered a foot injury week 6 as his replacement but is Probable and will start again this week. Matt Flynn was signed to be his backup as the Bills have no faith in Jeff Tuel being effective if needed. RB C.J. Spiller is Probable despite being hobbled by an ankle injury. Spiller has explosive potential any time he touches the ball even with the ankle issue, but he's on the wrong side of the time share with surprising Fred Jackson. Jackson's playing like a strong fantasy RB2 while Spiller more often than not is a mediocre RB3. But it's hard to not have his big play ability in fantasy lineups. WR Steve Johnson is also Probable and will play this week after missing last week with a back injury.
Miami: Brandon Gibson is Questionable with a hip injury and will be a game time decision. This could be a good week for WR Mike Wallace as the Bills have allowed 9 passing plays of 40+ yards (second most in the league). Both he and teammate Brian Hartline make good considerations for fantasy WR2/3's or flex options. RB Lamar Miller should be able to get some good yards this week as the Bills run defense ranks 28th in rush yards allowed. Hopefully he does enough to push Daniel Thomas into a backup role instead of the inexplicable timeshare the two still get.
New England: After being cleared by his own independent doctors on Friday, Rob Gronkowski is expected to make his 2013 debut and play this week. Gronkowski is officially listed as Questionable, but all reports say he will play. It's considered likely he won't be limited at all and if you've been holding onto him, you can finally start him. WR Danny Amendola is OUT with a concussion. It's unknown if this is a one week concussion, or it's a multiple week concussion. Even though Julian Edelman is listed as Questionable with a thigh injury, he is expected to play and be fine. Expect Edelman to be an oft-targeted WR this week, but likely to be only better than fellow WR's Kenbrell Thompkins and Aaron Dobson in the ppr format. RB Brandon Bolden is expected to be fine for his normal role as 3rd down RB and change of pace despite being listed again as Questionable with a knee injury. Stevan Ridley finally had a great game last week and if he can have a repeat against a strong Jets run defense this week, he'll clearly be back in the good graces of both the Patriots, and fantasy owners.
New York Jets: With Mike Goodson OUT the rest of the season with a torn ACL, Bilal Powell (Probable; neck) and Chris Ivory (Probable; hamstring) are going to split up RB duties. Powell has been operating as the top in the RBBC, but if Ivory can stay healthy, it's likely Powell will move into the 3rd down and complimentary role with Ivory in the lead. It hasn't happened yet, but probably is coming in a couple of weeks. WR Santonio Holmes is expected to miss a couple more weeks because of a hamstring injury. TE Kellen Winslow was suspended 4 games by the NFL for violating the league's ban on PED's. Jeff Cumberland is the Jets starting TE.
Baltimore: With the exception of Brandon Stokley (Doubtful; thigh), the Ravens are finally healthy at WR. Marlon Brown and Jacoby Jones aren't on the injury report at all. The rotation opposite Torrey Smith will be interesting to watch over the next few games as Jones adds an element of speed Brown and Doss lack, but Doss has had strong performances while those two were battling injuries. Ray Rice also isn't on the injury report either but he needs to get on track. He's only got 284 total yards and 3 TD's in 5 games played. Maybe now that he's healthy he'll start doing something.
Cincinnati: Despite the timeshare going on between Giovani Bernard and Benjarvus Green-Ellis, Bernard is producing like a high end fantasy RB2. The Lions give up nearly 125 rushing yards per game on average so there should be more good stats coming from Bernard (and maybe BGE, too). Andy Dalton had his best game of the year in week 6, but there's clearly some disconnect going on as that was his first 300+ yard game of the year and the first time he's thrown for 3 TD's. Last year through 6 weeks, Dalton had three 300+ yard games and three games with 3 passing TD's. Rookie TE Tyler Eifert and veteran TE Jermaine Gresham continue to cancel each other out in games. Combined, their 43 receptions for 435 yards would be pretty good (although neither has scored a TD yet). But those split up almost evenly between the two of them barely makes each a fantasy TE3.
Cleveland: Willis McGahee is Probable and will start and be fine despite a minor knee injury. It's a tough matchup against a surprisingly strong Green Bay run defense though and McG can't be counted as anything more than a RB3. The Browns released backup RB Bobby Rainey this week, leaving the backup spot to Chris Ogbonnaya. Ogbonnaya isn't special, but he dominates passing downs as he is a much better pass catcher and blocker than McGahee. While the Browns deny shopping WR Josh Gordon I bet they'd jump on the chance to get a second round pick for him if offered. I won't be surprised if that happens before the trade deadline October 29th. Brandon Weeden continues to get criticized and it's a good bet that if the Browns had a better backup QB than Jason Campbell, they'd be sitting Weeden, even if he hasn't played too poorly. You gotta feel for a guy who was so highly believed in by the former regime last year and was willing to let him go throw growing pains, to a regime that doesn't hide the fact they wished they didn't have you.
Pittsburgh: With rookie Markus Wheaton OUT (finger) Jerricho Cotchery is the #3 WR. Cotchery has been surprisingly effective this season as in 4 games played, he's managed to put up a 15-248-2 stat line. The desperate at WR could do worse as while he lacks big play ability, he just seems to get passes thrown his way. From a fantasy perspective, he's out producing Emmanuel Sanders (23-301-1 in 5 games). Rookie RB Le'Veon Bell struggled last week against a strong Jets run defense but should find it easier against the Ravens. The Ravens were gashed by Packers rookie RB Eddie Lacy last week and Bell is very similar to Lacy in terms of being a power RB.
Houston: With Matt Schaub OUT with ankle and foot injuries, and T.J. Yates having been so bad last week replacing him after he got injured, Case Keenum will start for Houston. Keenum lacks an NFL arm and stands barely over 6'0" tall, so this could very well be a case of "be careful of what you wish for" Texans fans. But we don't know whether Keenum will be better than expected or flop terribly. At least he has a strong running game and one of the game's best WR's to throw to. Expect a heavy dose of Arian Foster (Probable; thumb, chest, and hamstring) and probably a bit more of Ben Tate as well. I also would expect that Keenum will be looking a lot for Andre Johnson. Johnson will either be big or a big bust this week. The severity of Schaub's injuries is unknown so we don't know if he'll be available next week or not.
Indianapolis: Trent Richardson is still struggling despite having had over a month now to get in rhythm with his new offense. Richardson has run hard and been elusive, but either the Colts aren't giving him enough carries (only 10 last week) or he is missing something in his game. Expect the Colts to score points n Denver, but not enough to win the game. Luck, Wayne, Hilton, and Richardson should score plenty enough to be strong fantasy players though.
Jacksonville: Both starting WR's, Justin Blackmon and Cecil Shorts, are Questionable and both are considered to be game time decisions. Blackmon has a hamstring injury while Shorts has a sternoclavicular joint sprain. Both players have said they are going to play, but it's hard to trust they will be effective. I think the reason they'll both be active is because WR's Ace Sanders and Stephen Burton are OUT week 7 with concussions. This leaves Blackmon, Shorts, Mike Brown, and Stephen Williams as the only remaining WR's on the roster. Blackmon is still likely to prove good enough to be considered a fantasy WR2/3, but I have little hope for any of the others. TE Marcedes Lewis is expected to play. He's Probable and should be able to play through a calf injury he's struggled all season with. Blackmon and Shorts would have both been good fantasy bets if healthy given a nice matchup against San Diego, but now it's hard to trust either.
Tennessee: Latest reports say that barring any setbacks in pregame warmups tomorrow that Jake Locker will start at QB this week. Locker has only missed 2 games because of hip and knee injuries suffered 3 weeks ago. It's doubtful he'll be near 100% effective, but as of now, it looks like Ryan Fitzpatrick will go back to the bench. RB Shonn Greene is supposed to return this week and play for the first time since week 1 when he suffered a minor knee injury. Greene will move back into the top backup and short yardage/goal line RB role behind Chris Johnson. WR Kenny Britt could likely be had for a 7th round pick and it's a tribute to how screwed up he is off the field that no team is willing to part with a low draft pick for him despite his immense natural talent.
Denver: Peyton Manning returns to Indianapolis for the first time since the Colts released him. After Colts owner Jim Irsay had some questionable remarks about the lack of championships Manning won in Indy earlier in the week, I have every expectation that Manning will throw for several TD's, and probably run up a score without trying too much. The difference in talent between the two teams is striking and throwing gasoline on the fireball that is the Broncos  offense was just dumb.
Kansas City: Rookie TE Travis Kelce was placed on injured reserve with a knee injury. He has dynasty potential but re-draft leaguers should have given up hope a while ago. TE Anthony Fasano is finally expected to play after missing a few games with knee and ankle injuries. His return isn't fantasy impactful other than it likely ends Sean McGrath's reign as a middling fantasy TE2. Alex Smith might think he's in heaven this week as he doesn't throw for a lot of yards and the Texans don't allow opponents to throw for a lot of yards. It's a match for both sides. Smith doesn't put up great numbers when he has great matchups so he should be avoided this week. I think I saw Dwayne Bowe on the side of a milk carton this week.
Oakland: The Raiders are on bye this week and we'll revisit them next week.
San Diego: There was a Ryan Mathews sighting week 6 and with another great matchup this week, Mathews has a good chance for a second consecutive strong performance. Danny Woodhead has really taken on a strong offensive presence and is being even better utilized now than he was in New England. WR Eddie Royal is Questionable after not practicing all week because of a toe injury. Even if active, he's been bypassed by impressive rookie Keenan Allen. Allen appears to have earned Philip Rivers' trust and Allen is a strong fantasy WR2 with a matchup against Jacksonville this week.
Dallas: With DeMarco Murray Doubtful with a sprained knee and normal top backup RB Lance Dunbar OUT with a hamstring injury, rookie Joseph Randle is expected to start and carry the load for the Cowboys this week. Dallas has said Murray could still end up being active, but I doubt it. I expect Randle to dominate RB snaps and be backed up by Phillip Tanner. Randle isn't a special talent, but he's a high effort guy and runs and catches the ball well enough. Randle is a consideration as a low end fantasy RB2 this week with a great matchup against a suspect Eagles defense. Miles Austin is Probable and will play despite sitting out a couple of practices this week to rest his injured hamstring. Austin played week 6 but was shut out of the boxscore. He could be again despite a good matchup. I actually prefer rookie Terrence Williams and think Williams is not just the better fantasy play this week, but could be the better WR going forward and push Austin out of the starting lineup.  
New York Giants: RB Brandon Jacobs is Questionable and considered a game time decision for Monday night because of a hamstring injury. This is part of why it's hard to trust 31 year old RB's who 6 weeks were sitting at home: they don't heal up as quickly as they used to. Peyton Hillis was signed during the week and probably would be the favorite for a high amount of work over Michael Cox. The Giants have had plenty of chances to give Cox playing time and they've done everything they can to not have him in games. Jacobs is a huge risk, and I'd only chance him if I also had Hillis I could switch him out for at a moment's notice if come Monday we learn Jacobs isn't able to play. If you saw my week 7 MFL game predictions, you'll see I like the Gants to get the win over Minnesota this week. I think Eli Manning is going to tear it up against the Vikings last ranked fantasy pass defense.
Philadelphia: Nick Foles will start at QB again this week despite Michael Vick being listed as Questionable and also listed as having practiced in full Friday. Vick says publicly that his hamstring injury isn't healed up yet (which is probably true) enough for him to do all that he normally does. And that he won't come back until it is. But I think this is a very simple case of while Foles is playing well, he'll remain the starter. The first time Foles struggles in a game, Vick's hamstring will be pronounced 100% healed up and he'll get the job back. That's just my speculation by reading between the lines though. Vick is likely to be active again this week as the "emergency" QB, just like he was last week. Foles is a strong fantasy QB1 this week with a great matchup against the Cowboys suspect secondary. The TE reps are getting more even between Brent Celek and rookie Zach Ertz. Ertz has only 1 fewer receptions than Celek so far on the season and is starting to get more incorporated into the offense. Keep an eye on Ertz's development as with no true #2 WR on the team, Ertz could emerge in the second half of the season as a good fantasy TE.
Washington: RG3 has lobbied for more designed QB running plays to be called and so it's hoped that he will start producing like he was last year before suffering that devastating knee injury. That may also help out RB Alfred Morris. Morris has been pretty steady, but hasn't been a real powerhouse like he was last season. Of course, with Washington falling behind in games, and passing down duties being manned by Roy Helu, Morris has had a tough time getting carries as he averages just over 14 rushing attempts per game through 5 games. TE Jordan Reed continues to assert himself as the top receiving TE and should be considered a strong fantasy TE2 going forward.
Chicago: TE Martellus Bennett is Questionable and while expected to play, he could be a game time decision because of a knee injury he's been playing through. Tentatively pencil him into starting lineups with a great matchup this week. QB Jay Cutler should be a strong fantasy consideration as he gets a Redskins pass D that allows 293 passing yards and 2 passing TD's each game on average.
Detroit: Calvin Johnson is Probable and practiced each day this week, which is a rarity even when he's healthy. It's expected that while he isn't 100% on that knee injury he's been nursing, he should be able to do a lot more than the limited snaps he played last week. I'm still a little hesitant to declare him his usual "must play" self though. But he should be considered as a strong fantasy WR2. Kris Durham has taken over as the starter opposite Megatron and could continue to surprise since much hyped Ryan Broyles doesn't seem to be doing much despite opportunity. Durham may continue to push for playing time even when Nate Burleson returns from a broken arm injury in a few weeks. TE Joseph Fauria continues to excel as a big red zone target, but he needs to start getting more looks between the 20's as you can't rely on TD's every week from him. Backup RB Joique Bell is tentatively expected to play this week despite a bruised ribs injury. But he can't be relied on as even a flex option with the uncertainty. It's unknown if Theo Riddick will be active (Questionable; concussion) so it could be Mikel Leshoure who is the top backup to Reggie Bush this week. Bush is the only Lions RB worthy of fantasy consideration though.
Green Bay: WR Randall Cobb was placed on the injured reserve/designated for return list after suffering a lower leg fracture last week. He's eligible to return in week 15. For fantasy purposes though, it's unknown if he'll be back by then and those in re-draft leagues should have dropped him. WR James Jones is listed as Questionable for week 7 despite not having practiced at all this week because of a knee sprain suffered last week. Jones is considered a game time decision and I expect if he's active, he'll be used in a very limited fashion, making him not a fantasy factor at all. Jarrett Boykin likely takes over as a starter opposite Jordy Nelson and the Packers called up practice squad WR Myles White to be their #3 (if Jones doesn't play) or #4 (if Jones does). They also claimed WR Chris Harper off waivers after he was let go by the 49ers. Boykin could make a very sneaky fantasy play this week with Jordy Nelson likely drawing Browns CB Joe Haden most of the day. I also expect Jermichael Finley will get more playing time at WR and he could have a bump up in value. The main guy who could benefit is rookie RB Eddie Lacy. Lacy is a feature style RB who could get 20+ carries with the injuries at WR as the Packers would be foolish to not try to balance their offense. James Starks is OUT again with his knee injury so Johnathan Franklin will be Lacy's backup, but he has little chance for fantasy value unless Lacy gets injured.
Minnesota: The Josh Freeman era begins in Minnesota. Matt Cassel has been demoted to 3rd string after a horrible showing week 6. Christian Ponder will be Freeman's backup the rest of the season. Freeman will have some struggles, but I think he's also going to prove to be an improvement over what the Vikings have seen from Ponder and Cassel. Greg Jennings and Jerome Simpson may actually discover fantasy value with Freeman at the helm. RB Adrian Peterson is Probable and will start without issue despite having a minor hamstring injury. Kicker Blair Walsh is also Probable and will fine to kick despite having a hamstring issue on his non-kicking leg.
Atlanta: With Julio Jones out for the year, and Roddy White OUT for week 7 with hamstring and ankle injuries, Harry Douglas will start and Drew Davis and Kevin Cone will vie for targets opposite him. Matt Ryan will have his work cut out for him. RB Steven Jackson is now listed as having a hamstring injury and not just a quad bruise as was originally reported each week since sustaining the injury back in week 2. Jackson is OUT for week 7 leaving Jacquizz Rodgers and Jason Snelling (Probable; concussion) to split up the RB duties. Atlanta's season is sinking and if they lose this week, they may be in a serious downward spiral they won't recover from.
Carolina: TE Greg Olsen is Probable despite a foot injury. He keeps playing through it, but is clearly being affected by it in games. RB DeAngelo Williams stands a good chance of being an excellent fantasy RB2 this week with a matchup against the Rams soft as butter run defense. RB Jonathan Stewart still isn't able to practice and the Panthers have a few weeks to decide if they will activate him from the PUP list or place him on injured reserve. I'm betting on IR as he's still having issues with one of the ankle's he had surgery on way back towards the beginning of the year. The combination of Williams and Mike Tolbert seems to be doing just fine and if rookie Kenjon Barner can stay healthy, he might carve a niche out eventually too.
New Orleans: The Saints are bye this week and we'll revisit them next week.
Tampa Bay: WR Mike Williams is Questionable with a hamstring injury that caused him to miss week 6, but he is expected to play week 7. RB Doug Martin is overdue for a big game and with the reeling Falcons on the schedule this week it could be he gets it going against them. Rookie Mike Glennon gets a lot more slack from the coaching staff than former starter Josh Freeman ever did. Freeman was blamed by the coaching staff when his team's defense gave up late 4th quarter leads. Glennon had the Bucs with a lead at halftime week 6, but then the defense gave it up in the second half and Glennon never came close to getting them into the end zone again. But he isn't getting any blame. I will not be surprised if Greg Schiano is the first head coach fired in the NFL in 2013.
Arizona: Larry Fitzgerald played through his bothersome hamstring injury Thursday night, but it was a contributing factor in his poor stat line. Bruce Arians says he isn't thinking of benching struggling Carson Palmer, but he'll have no choice soon if Palmer doesn't stop throwing interceptions. There's a difference between Eli Manning throwing INT's and keeping his job and Palmer throwing INT's and keeping his job: Manning has 2 Super Bowl Rings. Drew Stanton needs to start getting some first team reps in practice and be ready for his chance. It's coming soon.
St. Louis: Zac Stacy has solidified his role as the Rams top RB. Nice to be right about someone as I've been saying it since the draft: Stacy is the Rams best RB and should be starting. Daryl Richardson has stepped into a backup role with Isaiah Pead the #3 RB. WR Tavon Austin's role has been decreasing and while some blame QB Sam Bradford, I think Austin's immense hype was just that: a lot of hype. Smaller WR's don't come in and make instant impacts very often.
San Francisco: WR Jonathan Baldwin is Questionable because of an illness. He's failed to take advantage of increased playing time and may find himself on the bottom of the pecking order soon. Mario Manningham is expected back in the next 2 weeks. Manningham isn't a great WR coming off a torn ACL, but he's easily better than anyone else the 49ers could start opposite Anquan Boldin. The 49ers are blowing it by not acquiring someone like Josh Gordon, Hakeem Nicks, or Kenny Britt to provide them with some immediate help while they cling to hope of Michael Crabtree returning sometime in December.  
Seattle: There's a chance WR Percy Harvin is back in either week 8 or 9. Harvin reportedly is ahead of schedule on his recovery from hip surgery and could be activated as soon as next week. His return would likely be timely if the sprained foot injury Golden Tate suffered Thursday turns out to be serious.