John T. Georgopoulos
The Lowdown - Week 7

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Welcome to The Lowdown for Week 7. This is my little corner of the fantasy football universe. Feel free to pull up a chair and stay a while!

Indianapolis Indignation

A lot of commotion this week heading into the Denver-Indianapolis contest. Colts owner Jim Irsay said he was disappointed with only one Lombardi Trophy during Peyton Manning’s tenure in Indianapolis and defended the organization’s decision to let Manning go.

Of course, the media grabbed a hold of the comments and immediately sought comment from Manning, Broncos coach John Fox, and anyone else they could corner. After all, hadn’t Irsay just slandered Manning? Manning, for his part, has refused to be part of this idiotic exercise and I commend him for that. Irsay’s comments weren’t all that nasty — he later explained that he was referring to the Colts’ lack of decent defenses and special teams during Manning’s tenure — but the media needed to manufacture something “juicy” ahead of the game.

Manning will play well because that’s what he does, and he certainly didn’t need any extra “motivation” in facing his former team. Leave the dopey pre-match hype for pro wrestling.

Clown Show

Detroit rookie tight end Jospeh Fauria came out of nowhere to have a pretty huge fantasy performance last week, catching three passes for 34 yards and three touchdowns. For the season, he is sitting at seven catches for 66 yards and five touchdowns, which really is more of an indictment against Brandon Pettigrew than it is indicative of any sort of overflowing talent of Fauria’s.

But no one cares about any of that … all anyone can see is Fauria’s end zone dances. Fauria has become a mini-celebrity after the three-touchdown performance, but not for his play on the field — rather for his ridiculous dancing. Fauria is soaking it all in, and I don’t know if I can truly blame him. But what Fauria needs to understand is (a) eventually, he has to produce well-rounded performances, and (b) there’s a difference between having people laugh with you and having people laugh at you.

Rough Week

Let’s get right to the point: Last week’s Lowdown was a bit of a letdown. After a nice streak of solid suggestions for you guys, last week’s “Interesting Plays” stunk. Eli Manning was the best pick I gave you, and I apologize for that. Like most “experts,” I have a pre-written list of excuses I could trot out to justify my horrific performance last week: “The coaches radically changed their game plan for Manning!”… “ Leonard Hankerson was the victim of undue attention from Rob Ryan”… “ Ted Ginn was the victim of Brandon LaFell coming out of nowhere!”…

Look, the truth is no one is perfect and there’ll be weeks like last week. No “expert” is immune from having a bad week — anyone who tells you he is constantly correct is a liar. You just need to try and find the guys and gals whose opinion you respect and whose writing you enjoy.

Hell, this has been a long week for me and I’m writing this column on the strength of four espressos and a Red Bull, so I could be recommending Priest Holmes at this point for all I know.

Interesting Players for Week 7

Not necessarily the players in line for the biggest games this week, but rather some players that caught my interest and upon whom I shall cast my gaze …

Jay Cutler, QB, Chicago (at Washington): Cutler is coming off a really solid Monday Night game against the New York Giants. The numbers weren’t the best he’s ever put up (24-for-36, 262 yards, 2 TD), but he made good decisions and looked good in the pocket. Cutler has always struck me as a streaky quarterback — when things are going poorly, they get a lot worse before getting better; and vice-versa. I get the sense that Cutler is heading into one of his hot streaks, and facing a team that has trouble against the pass will act as a springboard for that hot streak.

DeAngelo Williams/Mike Tolbert , RB, Carolina (vs. St. Louis): The Rams allow more than 130 rushing yards a game, ranking 30th in the NFL. That makes the Panthers' running backs a strong play this week. Williams should be in your lineup. Mike Tolbert could also have some value. I mention Tolbert in the event that you’re desperate for a running back and the waiver wire is thin in your league. While I don’t expect Tolbert to put up yards, I do think there’s a chance he punches in one or two touchdowns from inside the 5-yard-line. Hell, Cam Newton may end up rushing for 50-60 yards in this one.

Ryan Mathews, RB, San Diego (at Jacksonville): He’s stayed remarkably healthy so far, which is a major victory for Mathews' owners. While he hasn’t been especially productive either on the ground (89 rushes, 336 yards) or through the air (7 catches, 66 yards, TD), his 10-point PPR average through six games makes him a decent flex running back play. Against the worst-ranked rush defense in the NFL, Mathews should approach the century mark on the ground with at least a touchdown.

Stevie Johnson, WR, Buffalo (at Miami): Johnson has virtually disappeared from fantasy owners’ radars this season. Between the Bills’ quarterback situation, Johnson’s injury and the Bills’ third-ranked rushing game, Johnson has been virtually invisible (20 catches, 254 yards, 2 TD) this season. Call this a hunch, but with the Dolphins playing the run tough on defense and Johnson seemingly 100 percent recovered, I think that Johnson will have a strong showing in this AFC East contest. I’d give him a shot as a bye-week fill-in or WR3 if your roster is a little thin at receiver.

Don’t forget to bench any players from the Oakland Raiders or New Orleans Saints, who are on a bye this week.

John T. Georgopoulos is an 18-year veteran of fantasy sports journalism. His Fantasy Forecast series has won the prestigious Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA) award for Best Series, and he’s been nominated as an FSWA Award finalist on eight occasions. You can also listen to his weekly non-sports opinions here or follow him on Twitter @ThatRiotShow.