Sometimes we see what we want to see. We see the Colts passing game revive for one week and think they are juggernauts again. We see Derek Anderson dropping bombs to Braylon Edwards on Monday Night Football and think the Browns season has started anew. We see the Chargers light it up against the Patriots and assume they are ready to make their run. We are all wrong.
After seven Sundays, we know a lot more about this season. The Colts and Bolts are inconsistent. The Browns wish they were. LaDainian Tomlinson is an average running back haunted by the ghosts of Priest Holmes and Shaun Alexander. The quicker owners adjust to the new realities of 2008, rather than what they'd like to see, the better they will do. Let's see what else we know after Week 7.They're real and they're spectacular
1. I wrote that it might be a good time to sell Philip Rivers a few weeks ago, but he's played two straight excellent games and is ranked in the top-five of fantasy quarterbacks. He is still a low volume thrower (69 fewer passes than Drew Brees), but his sky-high yards-per-attempt average is keeping him steady. With LT2 a shell of his former self, the Chargers have evolved into a passing team.
2. After a slow start, Greg Olsen has developed into the fantasy tight end we were expecting. On a team bereft of wideout talent, Olsen is filling the gap as Kyle Orton's most consistent target. Few tight ends can combine his red zone skills and vertical speed.
3. Don't come back anytime soon, Willie Parker! Mewelde Moore is enjoying his well-earned time in the spotlight and will continue to be an excellent every-week play until Parker is up. I wrote up top about trends that have continued all year. One of the strongest ones: the Bengals terrible rush defense. Steve Slaton and Ahman Green get a crack at it this week.
4. Donnie Avery was a pick mocked by the Mock drafters, including myself. Whoops. His speed is a genuine problem for defenses. If not for a penalty and a poor throw by Marc Bulger, Avery would have scored three times against Dallas.
1. There was some complaining by Adrian Peterson owners after last week, but who else would you rather own at running back in standard leagues? Another rock solid game puts him on pace for nearly 1,600 rushing yards. He may not catch the ball much, but he's staying healthy and should catch Clinton Portis in the rushing yardage race.
2. T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Chad Johnson owners aren't going to recoup great draft value. But PPR owners can't be totally disappointed by the eight-catch, fiftysomething yard efforts of the Ryan Fitzpatrick era. Johnson tied for the day lead in targets Sunday. The Bengals wideouts are still . useful. I had my doubts Fitzpatrick would get them that far.
3. Willis McGahee performed like a real live NFL starting running back, racking up 150 total yards against a Dolphins defense that is suddenly thin in the middle. I've been expecting this game from McGahee for a few weeks, but he didn't come out of the game fully healthy. Don't be surprised if he goes back to the McGahee of the first six weeks shortly.
4. Remember when people were complaining that Brandon Jacobs had stopped scoring? He now has six touchdowns in his last four games to go along with his 5.7 yards-per-carry average. He can be boom-or-bust in PPR leagues, but the Train is as steady as any running back in standard formats.
5. Steven Jackson may live up to his draft slot after all. All he needs is some competence from his teammates to give him scoring chances and he'll finish as a top-five running back. He appears to have worked himself into shape after missing so much of training camp. Now all he needs is that MRI to go well.Danger Zone
1. Marshawn Lynch doesn't appear to have the same burst and leg drive as last season. He appears to have gained a few more pounds, though. Still, his 3.5 yards-per-carry average isn't a huge concern because the schedule gets far easier moving forward. He's scoring more often (five times) and catching more passes. His 19 receptions is one more than he had all of last season.
2. Marques Colston didn't catch any of his four targets in his first week back. In fact, he dropped two passes. In the long run, he's still the most talented receiver on the most pass happy offense in the league. I'm more concerned with Jeremy Shockey, who produced 50 yards Sunday but doesn't seem fully healthy.
3. The Wildcat formation didn't work Sunday against the Ravens, but the rest of the Miami offense didn't work either. Ronnie Brown and company isn't ready to perform against the Ravens, but few are. Brown will produce most games.Some Panic is Acceptable
1. The Reggie Bush run was fun while it lasted. Missing a month would give him plenty of time to play a few games before the fantasy playoffs start. Deuce McAllister has looked surprisingly competent in his place and will be a useful RB2/flex in the meantime. Pierre Thomas is worth owning again in deeper leagues.
2. Jason Campbell has taken a huge step forward as an NFL quarterback, but maybe he's not ready to graduate past being a backup in fantasy leagues. He's put up pedestrian totals in back-to-back home games against the Browns and Rams. Part of the problem is the game plan. This is a very conservative offense. Campbell can play quite well and not light up in the box score. He's the anti-Frerotte.
3. Tyler Thigpen is back in Kansas City, and that can't bode well for Dwayne Bowe and Tony Gonzalez. They put up some garbage time numbers against the Titans, but Thigpen will hurt the Chiefs long-term.
4. After four fumbles and two interceptions Sunday, J.T. O'Sullivan's job security is in question. Owners can also safely give up on Bryant Johnson, who looks likely to be planted on the bench behind impressive rookie Josh Morgan.
5. If Terrell Owens and Roy Williams couldn't produce against the Rams with Brad Johnson at quarterback, they certainly won't against the Bucs and Giants. Look for Tony Romo's finger to start magically healing. T.O. has only three more catches than Patrick Crayton on the season and two less than Greg Camarillo.
1. Peyton Manning had a touchdown on consecutive fourth quarter plays overturned by review.
Dan Orlovsky put up solid numbers for a second straight week, but he was extremely lucky. Calvin Johnson pulled in a meaningless Hail Mary pass at the end of the first half and got free for a 96-yard touchdown in the second half which made Orlovsky look a lot more competent than he was. Johnson owners should be concerned that those were his only two catches because they aren't repeatable feats. Most defenses would not have lost track of Megatron in either scenario. Orlovsky will turn back into a pumpkin when he's not facing Houston.An Ode to Consistency
1. Vincent Jackson has gained at least forty yards in every game. He is finally making good on all that potential and is on pace for a solid 1,000-yard, WR3 season.
2. Lee Evans has topped 65 yards in every game. He's scored in three straight.
3. Steve Smith has topped 96 yards in four straight games. His yardage has maintained or increased every game this season. He's a top-five wideout in any format.
4. Gus Frerotte is averaging 257 yards-per-ugly-start. He's thrown for at least 220 yards and a score the last three weeks. Proving once again, you can get by at quarterback if you have to. Frerotte's buddy Bernard Berrian has at least 78 yards in five straight. He's scored in three straight weeks and is an every week play.
5. Greg Camarillo has at least four catches and 49 yards in his last five games. It doesn't sound like much, but he's proving to be Chad Pennington's favorite target and a great WR4/5 for your bench. Camarillo is on pace for 72 catches and 899 yards.
6. Matt Schaub has topped 265 passing yards for three straight weeks and now ranks in the top-five quarterbacks per-game. Andre Johnson in the last three games: 30 catches, 450 yards, and two scores. To answer all those emailers who thought I was exaggerating, yes I think he's the top wideout to own for the rest of the year.
1. Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams were back to splitting work evenly against the Saints. This trend isn't going away. Neither is the one where Stewart gets the ball near the stripe. Stewart has five rushing touchdowns on the season; Williams has two. DeAngelo has added two more through the air.
3. LenDale White and Chris Johnson split carries evenly, but it was mostly Johnson in the game when the game was in doubt. It just wasn't in doubt for long. White continues to vulture scores and now has eight on the season. His 80-yard touchdown was about as likely going into 2008 as a Rays World Series appearance. The Rays are infinitely more likely to repeat their accomplishment in the next five years.
4. The Titans, as expected, stuffed Jamaal Charles and Kolby Smith. Charles proved to be the better fantasy play with 43 total yards, helped along by four catches. Larry Johnson's possible suspension could keep the two on the fantasy radar.
5. Steve Slaton and Ahman Green split work almost evenly for the Texans Sunday, both excelling. This is what Gary Kubiak envisioned this off-season, although Green was supposed to be the lead back. It's taken seven weeks to get there, but the Texans running game is in great shape. Green is turning into a flex option in the right matchup.