Fantasy Football

Davis, Rudolph falter in Week 7

Dust-in Time
Keller finally rewarded the faith of fantasy owners.
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Joel Beall

Joel Beall is a writer for FOXSports.com and WhatIfSports.com. He lives with a Golden Tee machine and a jump shot that’s currently broken. Reach Joel on Twitter @FOXSportsBeall.

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Studs

QB: Josh Freeman, Buccaneers
Granted, not the most formidable of foes in New Orleans and Kansas City, but the Tampa Bay field general has thrown for nearly 750 yards and six touchdowns the past two weeks. Not bad for a cat started in fewer than 20 percent of FOXSports.com fantasy football leagues. Furthermore, though the Bucs face a tough test in Minnesota in Week 8, the schedule offers a respite in November, with Oakland, San Diego and Carolina sprinkled on the slate. Forget Freeman as a bye-week replacement or implementation in two-quarterback formats; if the Kansas State product is still available in your standard league, he deserves consideration for regular-starter status.

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QB: Ryan Fitzpatrick, Bills
Did you know the Bearded Bomber is third in the NFL in touchdowns? Or that Fitzpatrick currently finds himself in the top-eight at the position in standard formats? Security issues with the pigskin encumber Fitzpatrick’s value in settings that penalize turnovers to a higher degree, yet in most regular formats, no reason the 29-year-old arm should be available in almost 50 percent of leagues. Another three-score day against the Titans on Sunday, Fitzpatrick’s fourth contest of three or more end-zone excursions on the campaign, should alter this circumstance.

RB: Chris Johnson, Titans
I wish I could pay homage to Johnson’s exploits in Buffalo (18 carries, 195 yards, two touchdowns), but a more pressing matter is at hand. A reader named B. Donner sent an email asking to denote Johnson as Box of Chocolates, in reference to the famous, “You never know what you’re gonna get,” line from Forrest Gump. Though I appreciate the effort, not sure it’s the most apropos of appraisals. After all, even the worst-tasting bonbon is still pretty damn tasty, right? (Except for coconut. Screw that noise.) A more fitting nickname: Blind Date. Ever hear someone discuss this type of engagement? It’s either a train wreck or a fantastic time, with nothing in between. I welcome other moniker suggestions to this analogy, such as open mic night, Twitter jokes, seafood, karaoke and Ben Affleck’s IMDB page. The last epithet suggestion is a stretch, but would thoroughly enjoy if announcers started referring to Johnson runs by Affleck-themed films like, “Johnson is experiencing Armageddon-like struggles here today.” Hey, I can dream.

RB: LaRod Stephens-Howling, Cardinals
Though Stephens-Howling was expected to start for the Cardinals in Week 7, William Powell was the popular waiver-wire pick out of the Arizona backs after the latter rushed for 70 yards last weekend while the former amassed a measly 22 yards versus Buffalo. Yet Stephens-Howling validated the few owners that kept him on the roster, posting 149 total yards and a trip to the Promised Land in Minnesota. Of greater importance is the disparity in touches, as Stephens-Howling finished with 20 carries and four receptions compared to Powell’s five opportunities. Arizona maintains they will ride the hot hand at running back, but it appears Stephens-Howling will get first serve next Monday night.

WR: Vincent Jackson, Buccaneers
Jackson was envisioned to capitalize on a susceptible Saints secondary, yet few foresaw a career day (seven grabs, 216 yards, touchdown) from the former Chargers wideout. Jackson has found the end zone in three consecutive games and his five receiving scores are tied for third-best in the NFC. While we are on the subject of Tampa Bay, I love me some throwback jerseys, but the Bucs’ pumpkin-flavored vomit has got to go. Besides, it looks like primary mission of “Buccaneer Bruce” is not to win football games, but to steal your wife when you’re in the other room. Not crazy about Tampa’s current ‘90s-themed garb, yet it’s improvement over those wretched retros.

WR: Andre Roberts, Cardinals
Going out on a limb and saying few imagined Roberts outscoring Larry Fitzgerald through the first seven weeks of the season. However, while some would perceive such a statement as condemnation on the underwhelming performance of the six-time Pro Bowler Fitzgerald, Roberts has been solid in his own right, evidenced by yesterday’s feats of seven receptions for 103 yards and a trip to pay dirt. As a low-end No. 2 wideout, proprietors could do a lot worse than Roberts in deeper formats.

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TE: Dustin Keller, Jets
Sidelined for most of the fall with a hamstring issue, Keller entered Sunday’s Foxborough foray with a meager two receptions for 13 yards. Those figures saw a major enhancement, as the Jets tight end finished with seven catches for 93 yards and a touchdown. If Keller can remain on the gridiron, Gang Green’s depleted receiving corps makes the fifth-year man out of Purdue an intriguing play as the primary target for New York.

DEF: Minnesota Vikings
Alright, so Arizona’s battered offensive line and John Skelton being, well, John Skelton helped matters, but hard to complain over seven sacks, a pick-six and a fumble recovery.

Honorable Mention: Randall Cobb, Packers
Many a manager has been scared of inserting Cobb into the starting lineup, as Aaron Rodgers has a penchant for spreading the rock in Green Bay’s offense. However, following Sunday’s soiree in St. Louis (eight catches, 89 yards, two touchdowns), Cobb has accumulated at least 66 receiving yards in five of seven outings and is the eight-ranked wideout over the past four weeks.

Duds

QB: Andy Dalton, Bengals
A date with a Steelers defense sans the services of Troy Polamalu seemed like an exploitable matchup for the Red Rifle. Alas, Dalton managed just 105 yards for a touchdown and interception against Pittsburgh. The pick gives Dalton 12 turnovers through seven games, negating almost all of the goodwill from the Cincinnati signal caller’s 14 total touchdowns. The good news for Dalton owners is the Bengals’ November itinerary is littered with pedestrian pass defenses (Broncos, Giants, Chiefs and Raiders). Unfortunately, with his proclivity for passing to the wrong team, Dalton is far from a reliable entity.

QB: Christian Ponder, Vikings
On the whole, fantasy managers are an astute and sagacious bunch. Regrettably, judging by the questions posed in the mailbox and weekly chats, this sentiment does not apply to the rotisserie world’s adoration for Ponder, who, while making strides in his second year as an effective, game-managing quarterback, is not exactly relevant to our fantasy forum. The Vikings got the W on Sunday, but that was not a corollary of Ponder’s play, as the former Florida State Seminole completed only eight of 17 attempts for 58 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions. Ponder has seven turnovers in his past three games and has failed to throw over 260 yards in five of seven contests this year. Even in two-quarterback divisions, better options are available.

RB: Trent Richardson, Browns
In his defense, the man was rockin bruised ribs, so can’t knock the hustle on the rookie’s eight rushes for eight yards. That excuse will fall on deaf ears, though, as Richardson assured a flak jacket would allow him to participate without hindrance against the Colts. The Cleveland back intends to play in the Browns’ battle with San Diego this week, but operating under a hampered state, Richardson bests serve your team on the bench.

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RB: Felix Jones, Cowboys
Remember the bum rush to the waiver wire to attain Jones at this juncture last Monday? In theory, the sprint made sense: Jones was coming off a strong showing in Baltimore, and with DeMarco Murray out, Jones could be in for a bountiful afternoon. Sounded like a full-proof plan, right?

Wrong. Despite encountering a feeble Carolina front seven, Jones labored, averaging 2.9 yards per attempt on 15 carries. Worse, third-string back Phillip Tanner was allotted almost a similar workload, with 13 rush opportunities. Murray has a shot at returning in Week 8, dropping Jones back to fantasy impertinence in most formats. Speaking of Cowboys…

WR: Dez Bryant, Cowboys
A groin injury seemed to impede his movement, but after garnering 28 targets the previous two games, owners expected more than Bryant’s output of two catches for 14 yards. Luckily for Bryant and his holders, Dallas takes on a Giants secondary that is surrendering the fourth-most points to receivers in the NFC. Nevertheless, monitor Bryant’s situation closely throughout the week, as he could deserve a sit if his ailment does not progress.

WR: A.J. Green, Bengals
Green’s eight-yard score prevented a goose egg for owners, but given the diminished and dreadful condition of the Steelers secondary, think we can all agree that expectations were higher than the receiver’s production of one catch. Adding insult is that Cincinnati goes on bye this week, leaving owners with two relative no-shows from the Pro Bowler.

TE: Vernon Davis, 49ers
Speaking of no-shows, Vernon Davis everybody! To an extent, Davis is the tight-end equivalent of Chris Johnson, as he’s either blowing up a box score or barely making a statistical dent. Davis’ zero-catch performance marks the fourth occasion in 2012 that the former first-round pick was held to three receptions or less, amazing given that Davis has scored the fifth-most points at this position going into tonight’s Detroit-Chicago ballgame. Seattle does have one of the better resistances in the league, and most of truncated yield can be blamed on the suddenly shaky play of Alex Smith, yet the inconsistency from Davis has been maddening.

DEF: Buffalo Bills
A rendezvous with Matt Hasselbeck, Johnson and a beleaguered offensive line was the Bills’ last chance to substantiate their claim as a preseason top-10 pick. After letting Tennessee light up the scoreboard for 35 points, I think it’s safe to say that dream is dead.

Dishonorable Mention: Kyle Rudolph
Coming into Week 7, Rudolph had the third-most points among tight ends thanks to his prowess inside the 20, a standing that no longer fits after finishing with zero catches on Sunday. Like Davis, most of the guilt lies with the man under center, but that does little to alleviate the sting for owners who inserted Rudolph into their lineups.

Tagged: Bills, Bengals, Browns, Cowboys, Packers, Titans, Raiders, Vikings, Jets, 49ers, Buccaneers, Cardinals, Steelers, Matt Hasselbeck, Chris Johnson, Vincent Jackson, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Vernon Davis, Felix Jones, Dustin Keller, LaRod Stephens-Howling, Dez Bryant, John Skelton, Andre Roberts, A.J. Green, Christian Ponder, Andy Dalton, Randall Cobb, Kyle Rudolph, Trent Richardson

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