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The week of the running backs


It's not often that a RB takes home the top-dog award in fantasy football. Almost 9 times out of 10 it will be a quarterback simply due to the yards and touchdowns they are a part of. This week was crazy because not only did a RB take home the #1 overall fantasy player award (Jay Ajayi), but we saw 6 more backs (Melvin Gordon, Matt Forte, Jeremy Hill, Jacquizz Rodgers, LaGarrette Blount, and David Johnson) ranked in the overall top 10. I'm telling you, with running backs coming up huge this week, and the Oakland Raiders and Dallas Cowboys looking good, the end of the world might just be upon us!

For all those who listened and picked up Ty Montgomery, you are welcome. And for those who also listened and picked up Mike Gillislee, I'm sorry. Montgomery was nothing short of spectacular off the waiver wire, and ESPN announced on Tuesday that they were adding him with RB ability in their leagues. That gives him tremendous value with RB/WR abilities. Gillislee, on the other hand, was not a factor with the Bills playing from behind most of the game.

Last, but not least, apparently a week cannot go by in the NFL this season without an injury making a mess of our fantasy rosters. This week it was Brian Hoyer, who suffered a broken arm Thursday night. With 9 games left in the season, and the Bears in a battle with the Browns for the #1 pick in the 2017 draft, there is virtually no chance Hoyer even attempts a return this season.

That brings us to an interesting dilemma on what to do if you own Alshon Jeffery, Jordan Howard, or Cameron Meredith. With the Bears now being down to Matt Barkley at QB until Jay Cutler is ready to throw interceptions once again, I would sell all things Bears. Chicago Bears; bear skins rugs; teddy bears. Shoot, I'd sell the honey in my cupboard just so it wouldn't attract any bears! Barkley at QB kills WR value, and allows defenses to focus on stopping the run. It was a great run [Jordan] Howard, but it's time to hit those phones and sell like you are the Wolf of Wall Street.

Looking at the early waiver wire targets, here is my short list: Devontae Booker (Den), Chris Thompson (Wash), and Davante Adams (GB).


Andrew Luck – Colts: Luck put up his second-best game of the season against a Titans defense that came into this ranked 4th in the NFL for holding fantasy QBs to 16.7 PPG. Thanks to Luck's 353 passing yards, 17 rushing yards, and 3 touchdowns, that number now sits at 21.3 PPG allowed. A big part of his success this week was the change in passing strategy. The Colts put together a passing offense built around quick throws, rather than trying to get T.Y. Hilton down field for chunk yardage.

Luck will remain in the QB conversation in Week 8 against a Chiefs defense that has given up 892 passing yards and 9 TDs over the last 3 games.

Andy Dalton – Bengals: Dalton got his fantasy season back on track in Week 7 by completing 19 of 28 passes for 308 yards and 2 TDs against the Browns. A.J. Green had probably the best touchdown catch we will see all season to end the first half, but it was Jeremy Hill who will get all the headlines this week with his amazing yards-per-carry (see below).

Dalton is only going to get better with Tyler Eifert back, but the Redskins pose a bit of a problem next week. I'd end up putting Dalton in the 10-12 range for my QB rankings if I were doing them right now.

Jay Ajayi – Dolphins: It's been a remarkable two weeks for Dolphins RB Jay Ajayi, who's managed to put up back-to-back games with 200-plus rushing yards, and has now scored 3 touchdowns over that span. This week he churned out 214 yards on the ground, and added a touchdown just to make sure he finished Week 7 as the #1 overall fantasy player.

It's impressive to get 200 yards rushing once in a season. But to do it twice in as many weeks, and one of those weeks being against a Bills defense that is normally pretty stout, that is just crazy. I'm not riding the Ajayi bandwagon like others I'm sure will be, but I also can't ignore the kid any longer either, with Arian Foster retiring from the NFL after 8 seasons on Tuesday.

The Dolphins have a bye in Week 8, then host the Jets in Week 9. My guess is the Jets will draw up a gameplan to force Ryan Tannehill to beat them, rather than let Ajayi go back-to-back-to-back on them with another 200-yard game.

Jeremy Hill – Bengals: Hill finally had the breakout game fantasy owners have been waiting for, running the ball just 9 times, but racking up 168 yards and a touchdown. Hill not only ran the ball but he saw 2 rare targets, which he caught, for 24 yards.

Look, I am stoked that Hill finally broke out, but the 9 carries worry me. With the Bengals being up 21-10 at the half, and 31-17 heading into the 4th quarter, the fact that Giovani Bernard out-carried him 17-9 makes me scratch my head. I know Hill already had a ton of yards, but why sit him down if he is that hot?

Next week he gets another plus matchup against the Redskins, so keep him in your RB1 spot for another week.

Randall Cobb, Davante Adams, & Ty Montgomery – Packers: Aaron Rodgers went nuts with his WRs this week (minus Jordy Nelson—see below), connecting with Cobb, Adams, and Montgomery for 34 receptions, 293 yards, and 3 touchdowns. Adams finished with a 13/132/2 line; Cobb accounted for 11/95/1; and Montgomery, who ran as a RB for the Packers but was listed as a WR in fantasy games, racked up 60 rushing yards, 10 receptions, and 66 receiving yards on Thursday.

ESPN has already changed Montgomery from a WR to a RB/WR, giving his fantasy value a shot in the arm. My guess is and Yahoo follow suit and do the same thing.

The Bears have one of the worst defenses in the NFL this season, and it was just what the Packers offense needed in order to come alive. Look for them to try to keep things going against the Falcons and their vulnerable secondary in Week 8.

Marqise Lee – Jaguars: Lee is someone that has always had the talent to play big at the NFL level, but couldn't seem to shake the injury bug his first two seasons. This year, however, he is healthy and contributing nicely at the No. 3 WR spot behind Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns, with an averages of 4.8 receptions and 56.2 yards per game. From a No. 3 WR, those numbers are pretty solid during the bye weeks.

This week Lee had his best game yet, reeling in 7 of 8 passes for 107 yards, and adding 93 return yards for those in leagues who count them. In PPR leagues that count return yards, Lee finished Week 7 ranked 12th for WRs. Not bad for a guy nobody talks about in fantasy circles.

Jack Doyle – Colts: Doyle is making a name for himself in Indianapolis this season as Andrew Luck's safety blanket in the passing game. Doyle saw 10 targets this week, hauling in 9 of them for 78 yards and a touchdown. For a TE to see 10 targets, that is something in the Rob Gronkowski range that makes fantasy owners salivate!

Doyle is by no means a top-tier TE, though. He is a guy who will catch a pass and move the chains, but rarely gets yards after the catch. He's a true TD-or-bust player at TE, making him someone I would really rather avoid on the waiver wire this week. Next week the Colts play a Chiefs defense that hasn't allowed more than 44 receiving yards to a TE this season.

New York Giants defense: It's never a bad thing when a fantasy defense gets to play the Cleveland Browns or the Los Angeles Rams. This week the Giants took on the Rams, which means their chance for success was raised by a factor of at least 10. Todd Gurley is not the same RB this year, given the Rams' problems as a whole on offense. Because of that, the Giants were able to open the defensive playbook and give the Rams different looks throughout the game.

This week the Giants finished as the #2-ranked fantasy defense thanks to their 4 INTs, 1 defensive touchdown, 3 sacks, and 10 points allowed. Strange to think a defense with those numbers could be ranked #2, but the Eagles really mollywhopped the Vikings this week.


Carson Wentz – Eagles: Wentz started off the season red hot, racking up 7 TDs and 1 INT over the first 4 games of his NFL career. This week he faced the Vikings' elite defense and came away with just 138 passing yards, 1 TD, and 2 INTs. Fantasy owners quickly picked up Wentz after Week 1, but are left wondering if he is still worth owning given his Week 7 performance.

My personal opinion is Wentz has a tough schedule in the second half of the season, facing the Cowboys and Giants twice, the Seahawks, Bengals, Redskins and Ravens once. The Dallas and New York games could go either way, but the other four are pretty much games I'd avoid. If he was on my team, I'd trade him to the owner who just lost Brian Hoyer.

Matt Ryan – Falcons: Ryan didn't look comfortable this week, and that was largely due to the Chargers and rookie Joey Bosa (2 sacks and 3 tackles for loss). Ryan was able to finish with 273 yards and a touchdown, but he also threw an interception and took 3 sacks on the day. In fantasy terms, the interception (-2) knocks the touchdown ( 6) to 4 points, and the yards equal out to 13 points. When all was said and done, Ryan was a middle of the road QB2 in Week 7.

He won't have to face Bosa every week, so things will get back on track for Ryan. Next week he gets the Packers' beaten up secondary, which puts him right back in the hunt for a top-end QB1 finish.

LeSean McCoy and Mike Gillislee – Bills: If there was a worse RB situation than McCoy and Gillislee this week, I must have been hiding under a rock and missed it. McCoy was dealing with a hamstring problem, and was never expected to see much action. But when it was announced he was active, a lot of owners felt they couldn't risk sitting him and were stuck with 8 carries for 11 yards.

With McCoy basically not playing, that should leave Gillislee in the driver's seat for action, right? Wrong! The Bills' No. 2 RB saw even less action, managing just 5 carries for 20 yards. Neither RB was targeted in the passing game, making both complete busts this week.

With the Bills RB situation obviously an unknown right now, coupled with them playing the Patriots in Week 8, nobody on the RB depth chart can be trusted as anything more than a Hail Mary play.

Jamaal Charles – Chiefs: Charles' owners have to be getting worried at this point, with the coaching staff admitting this week he isn't healthy enough to play in Week 7, and Spencer Ware being an all-purpose back racking up 131 total yards and a touchdown on 19 touches this week. Charles has managed just 12 carries this season, totaling 40 yards.

Charles saw just one carry in Week 7, on which he managed to make it back to the line of scrimmage. I would consider Charles nothing more than a DEEP RB stash in case Ware gets hurt. But even then, he is going to have to fight with Charcandrick West for carries. His value is almost at rock-bottom.

Odell Beckham Jr. – Giants: Beckham and the Giants traveled to England to take on the Rams in Week 7, but he failed to put on much of a show for the fans. Beckham finished with 5 catches and 49 empty yards, putting him in the WR4 rankings this week.

WRs are always up and down, so weeks like this are to be expected throughout the season. With the Giants having a bye in Week 8, Beckham will have an extra week to heal up (hip) and be ready to take on the Eagles in Week 9.

Jordy Nelson – Packers: It's hard to fathom that Nelson managed just 1 catch for 9 yards on a night when Aaron Rodgers threw the ball 56 times. As we talked about above, it was Adams, Cobb, and Montgomery who came up big this week, while Nelson's owners where left shaking their heads.

Martellus Bennett – Patriots: The problem I have with Bennett is that he is the Patriots' No. 2 TE, making his playing time and targets a question mark week-to-week. Then the guy in front of him is none other than Rob Gronkowski, the undisputed #1 TE in the NFL. So when he has games when he racks up 114, 109, and 67 yards, fantasy owners will naturally run to the waiver wire and snatch him up since he is a TE. BUT, you have to remember he is the No. 2 guy on the depth chart, and will have games when he hauls in 1 pass for 5 yards, like he did in Week 7.

If you are brave enough to roll the dice with Bennett at TE, with Gronk fully healthy, then you are either incredibly brave, or clinically insane. I have no problem stashing him on my bench just in case Gronk gets hurt. But to play him? No thank you!

Buffalo Bills defense: The Bills were a disappointment on both sides of the ball in Week 7, with the offense managing just 288 total yards, and the defense giving up 28 points while adding just 1 sack for fantasy stats.

It was an all-around pitiful game for a Bills defense that came into Week 7 ranked #3 for fantasy defenses. With them taking on the Patriots and Seahawks before having a bye in Week 10, now might be the right time to buy low on them for the fantasy playoffs if you are in the running. The Bills take on the Browns, Dolphins, and Jets in Weeks 15, 16, and 17.

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