Risers and Fallers – After Week 7

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What a week it was in the NFL.  Things started off crazy on Thursday night with Oakland’s touchdown with no time on the clock to beat division rival Kansas City.  Tampa Bay looked to be in control until a late turnover helped Buffalo to the win.

A 14-point fourth quarter comeback by the Dolphins sent the Jets home with a loss.  And then there’s the Chicago Bears.  What can we say about the Bears?  Two 75 plus yard defensive touchdowns in one game is unheard of but you guessed it.  It happened in Week 7.  On to this week’s risers and fallers…

 

RISER OF THE WEEK:

Amari Cooper, WR, Oakland

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Remember that opening night shocker we talked about?  Cooper was huge for Oakland in breaking a four game losing streak and sending the division leading Chiefs to their second straight loss.  Cooper has been underperforming for fantasy owners all season long and those that were patient enough to stick with the second year wideout were handsomely rewarded.  Cooper caught eleven passes for 210 yards and two touchdowns resulting in a 30 plus point game for fantasy owners in standard scoring leagues.  Cooper’s return to form is a welcome sight for fantasy owners who have struggled with him in the lineup so far this year, yours truly included.  Oakland travels to Buffalo next week to face a stingy Bills defense but one that can be scored on.  Tampa Bay’s O.J. Howard racked up 98 yards and two scores on the Bills in week 7, so Cooper could see another huge game in Week 8.

RISERS

Cameron Brate, TE, Tampa Bay

While we’re on the subject of the Buccaneers and their tight ends, let’s move on to Brate.  Brate has turned into one of Jameis Winston’s favorite targets in Tampa’s passing game.  Brate was targeted nine times in Sunday’s loss to Buffalo, which was the second most on the team.  Brate hauled in six of those passes for 60 yards and even though he didn’t score this week, he remains one of the most dangerous red zone targets in the league.  Brate scored in each of his previous four games so he remains one of the best Tight Ends from a fantasy standpoint.  Tampa Bay has a tempting divisional matchup in week 8 against a Carolina team still searching for an identity.  With a healthy Winston calling the shots, Brate could be in line for another big week.

LeSean McCoy, RB, Buffalo

Much like Cooper mentioned above, McCoy has been a sore spot in many fantasy owners’ lineups for the first part of this season.  In Buffalo’s first five games McCoy had a total of 279 rushing yards and had been kept out of the end zone completely.  While he did lose a fumble Sunday, McCoy nearly doubled his fantasy production in one week.  McCoy carried the rock 23 times against the Bucs for 91 yards and two touchdowns.  He also caught five passes for another 31 yards putting him over the 20 point mark for the day.  It’s safe to say that owners hope McCoy has found his footing, so to speak.  McCoy should be able to keep his momentum in Week 8 against an Oakland team that’s allowing 113.9 rush yards per game.

Josh McCown, QB, New York Jets

Wait, McCown makes the risers list this week?  No it’s not a typo, it’s the real thing.  McCown has been a huge reason that the Jets are sitting right around .500 and were sniffing the division lead only a couple weeks ago.  He has quietly had a pretty productive year and makes a viable option for fantasy owners who are in a pinch, (Carson Palmer owners, this means you.)  McCown had the Jets in prime position heading into the fourth quarter to pull out a win.  McCown threw for 209 yards and three touchdowns in Sunday’s loss to the Dolphins, but more importantly he’s opening the Jets’ offense up.  With Matt Forte and Bilal Powell getting healthy to go along with Elijah McGuire, the running game is a legitimate weapon to keep defenses honest.  Atlanta’s defense looms next week, but McCown has shown he’s capable of putting up some decent numbers.  In a pinch, he could be your go to guy.

Bears D/ST, Chicago

We talked about them a little bit earlier, but they have to make the list here.  While the Bears’ offense leaves much to be desired, the defense stepped up Sunday.  The Bears’ D had Cam Newton stymied and he never looked comfortable in the Panthers’ backfield.  Newton was held to 211 yards passing and when your quarterback is your leading rusher, it doesn’t bode well for offensive output.  The Bears forced three turnovers, two of which resulted in touchdowns in their historic defensive day.  Rookie safety Eddie Jackson returned a fumble 75 yards for a score and returned an interception 76 yards for another score, making him the first NFL player to score multiple defensive touchdowns of 75 yards or more in the same game.  The Bears head to New Orleans next week to take on a Saints team that is capable of putting up some big numbers but has also been stuffed by some of the league’s better defenses.

Ted Ginn, Jr., WR, New Orleans

Ginn had a huge game on Sunday against the lifeless Packers and appears to have carved out his own special place in the Saints’ offense.  Ginn hauled in all seven of his targets for 141 yards against Green Bay.  While he didn’t score, he remains another option for one of the NFL’s all-time great passers in Drew Brees.  The Saints have shown their ability to spread the ball around with three players being targeted at least seven times Sunday, and another seeing five more targets.  Chicago is next on the schedule for Ginn and the Saints and while the Bears can present some difficulties, if New Orleans can keep from turning the ball over, the potential is there for a big game from some of their playmakers.

Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Pittsburgh

I was hard on Roethlisberger earlier this year, but with good reason.  After Sunday’s performance and the way Pittsburgh’s offense has been able to rebound, he makes it back to the Risers column this week.  While Roethlisberger only threw for 224 yards on Sunday against the Bengals, he only attempted 24 passes due to the success that Le’Veon Bell was having in the run game.  This leads me to believe that as Bell goes, so goes the Steelers’ offense.  With defenses having to stay at home to protect against the run, it opens things up on the outside for the likes of Antonio Brown, Darrius Heyward-Bey and JuJu Smith-Schuster.  With Pittsburgh’s offense humming, Roethlisberger could see another big week as Detroit awaits the Steelers next Sunday Night.  Detroit’s defense allows an average of 244 yards per game to opposing quarterbacks and 1.5 touchdowns per game this season.

Aaron Jones, RB, Green Bay

With Ty Montgomery returning from injury this week, it was expected that Jones would see a drop in production due to Montgomery regaining his spot and the according touches out of the backfield.  With the Packers’ passing game in a complete state of disarray, the running game took over and we couldn’t have been more wrong.  Montgomery only carried the ball four times for a measly six yards against the Saints.  Jones saw the majority of the work carrying 17 times and making the most out of it, amassing 131 yards.  Jones also added a 46 yard touchdown in the first quarter to remain the lone bright spot for a lackluster Green Bay offense.  Going forward, if Jones continues to see the majority of the work over Montgomery, he is worth taking a look at.  Green Bay is on a bye next week then returns in Week 9 on Monday Night against the Lions.  It’s worth watching the depth chart to see who will see the start after the bye week.

Kenny Stills, WR, Miami

With Devante Parker missing Week 7’s contest against the Jets, Stills saw an opportunity for more targets and the potential for more yards.  Stills saw nine targets on Sunday, the second most on the team, and converted six of them into 85 total yards.  Stills also found the end zone twice putting him among the top wide receivers from a fantasy standpoint this week.  If Parker is forced to miss more time going forward, Stills remains a decent option if you’re in need of a bye week or injury replacement.  Miami faces Baltimore next week on Thursday Night which doesn’t help Parker’s chances of returning.  Watch his status this week and you may find it very tempting to turn to Stills next week.

Cam Newton, QB, Carolina

While we mentioned earlier on Newton’s struggles this week against the Bears, it’s next week’s matchup and further on that lands him on this list.  While the Panthers seem to be searching for an identity, Newton is trying to carry the whole team on his back.  Carolina has a favorable matchup next week against Tampa Bay as the Bucs just gave up 268 yards and a score to Tyrod Taylor and the Bills.  While these aren’t spectacular numbers, Taylor is no Cam Newton either.  While Newton was Carolina’s leading rusher this week, he did pick up 50 yards on the ground which is a nice pad to a QB’s fantasy stats for the week.  While he will undoubtedly face some concerns in the coming week, Newton remains a decent option and could pay dividends.

FALLER OF THE WEEK:

Carson Palmer, QB, Arizona

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Just when things started to be looking up for the Cardinals’ offense with the trade for Adrian Peterson, things went south in a hurry on Sunday against the Rams.  Palmer was hit hard by Alec Ogletree in the second quarter while throwing what would ultimately be an interception.  Palmer injured his non-throwing arm on the play and did not return.  It was later reported that Palmer suffered a broken left arm on the play and will undergo surgery on Monday when the Cardinals return from London.  Palmer will miss at least eight weeks and could potentially miss the rest of the season.  At this point, Palmer holds no fantasy value, and the Cardinals’ offense is left with several question marks, including…

FALLERS

Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Arizona

Just when things were starting to look up for the rest of the Cardinals’ offense, it came crashing down Sunday morning in London.  The arrival of Adrian Peterson gave Arizona another dimension and it looked like the passing game would reap the rewards, most notably Fitzgerald.  Now, losing his quarterback drops “Fitz” way down the list as the Cardinals’ offense takes on a completely different look with Drew Stanton in the backfield.  While he’s no slouch, Stanton won’t see the kind of numbers that Palmer was capable of, and Fitzgerald will see his numbers drop as well.  Now I could be wrong, and if these two have a huge week against the 49ers after their bye week, I will be the first to admit.  But be wary as it could be a long rest of the season for the Cardinals.

Marshawn Lynch, RB, Oakland

Owners counting on a big week from Lynch (myself included,) were shut down in a hurry Thursday Night.  In the second quarter of the Raiders’ 31-30 win over Kansas City, Lynch left the bench during a scuffle after a late hit and shoved an official and was subsequently ejected from the game.  Lynch totaled one carry for nine yards on the night.  In the process Lynch also earned a one game suspension that puts his value for next week’s matchup against Buffalo at absolutely zero.  Lynch’s next game would be Week 9 against Miami and depending on how Jalen Richard does in his absence in Week 8, he may see a decrease in carries.

Martavis Bryant, WR, Pittsburgh

While it was the expectation (and hope) of many fantasy owners that Bryant’s return would lead to some decent fantasy production, it just hasn’t been the case.  Pittsburgh has tried repeatedly to get Bryant more involved in the passing game but it just hasn’t happened, and the emergence of Smith-Schuster, as mentioned above, has pushed Bryant even farther down the list.  Owners might do well to stash Bryant to see if he can get in the groove before putting him in the starting lineup.

Trevor Siemian, QB, Denver

How Siemian’s fortunes have changed.  After showing definite potential early in the season, he has fallen off drastically.  Sunday proved no different as Denver suffered its first shutout loss in 25 years.  Siemian threw for only 207 yards on the day and threw one interception as the Broncos’ offense simply couldn’t get going.  Denver’s offensive struggles of late don’t look to improve next week as a trip to Kansas City is next on the schedule to face a Chiefs’ defense that has feasted upon Broncos’ quarterbacks as of late.  If social media is any indication, there may also be a question brewing as to whether Denver should make a change at QB and bring in Brock Osweiler to attempt to get the offense going.  That’s a situation that may be worth watching in the coming week.

Marcus Mariota, QB, Tennessee

Mariota’s return from injury looked to be a triumphant one, facing the Cleveland Browns on Sunday.  Cleveland had allowed an average of 20.5 points to opposing quarterbacks going in.  Perfect situation for a big week from Mariota.  Unfortunately that wasn’t the case.  Mariota managed 203 yards on 34 attempts in the 12-9 overtime win in Week 7.  Mariota has a bye in Week 8 and returns to face an absolutely brutal Baltimore defense in Week 9.  Owners may want to steer clear until they’re absolutely sure Mariota is fully recovered and ready to roll.

Jay Cutler, QB, Miami

While he didn’t have much fantasy value to begin with, Cutler takes a hit this week after leaving the Dolphins’ win over the Jets with a chest injury.  Cutler left with the Dolphins down 21-14, and his replacement Matt Moore, threw two touchdowns in the final 12 minutes to lead the Dolphins to victory.  While it hasn’t been confirmed, it was reported that Cutler suffered a cracked rib and will more than likely miss Miami’s next game Thursday Night against Baltimore.  Going forward, if Moore can prove the more productive option, it may mean an even longer absence for Cutler if the Dolphins make the move to Moore.  Cutler’s status is worth monitoring going forward.

Leonard Fournette, RB, Jacksonville

Fournette was a late injury scratch for Sunday’s matchup against the Colts.  While he had a very favorable matchup against Indianapolis, his sprained ankle kept him on the sidelines for this one.  While his absence on Sunday no doubt hampered fantasy owners, it appears to be a short term situation.  Fournette’s situation is definitely worth keeping an eye on going forward as he is a must start if healthy.

Delanie Walker, TE, Tennessee

While Walker was questionable going into Sunday’s game against the Browns, fantasy owners could breathe a little easier that Walker was in the lineup.  That joy nearly lasted the entire game, but to the chagrin of his owners, Walker left after injuring his ankle in overtime.  After the game Titans’ management indicated that it was an ankle sprain, unrelated to the calf issue that had him on the injury report prior to the game.  Tennessee has a bye in Week 8 and Walker’s status will bear monitoring before Week 9.

Devante Parker, WR, Miami

Parker missed his second straight game Sunday with a sprained ankle and at this point, it’s unclear when he will return to the Dolphins’ lineup.  While he’s a legitimate threat at wide receiver if healthy, his absence has hurt fantasy owners over the last couple weeks.  Miami has a Thursday night matchup against Baltimore and the short week will make it much tougher to count on Parker’s return.  Owners may want to look elsewhere for a receiving option as the Ravens secondary has been extremely good against the pass this season in any case.

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I’m 38 years old and was born and raised in Price, Utah, a small town about 120 miles south of Salt Lake City. Fantasy football has been a major hobby of mine for the past 15 years, and I compete in several leagues annually, having won a league championship numerous times over. While I am an avid follower of all sports, football is definitely my favorite.