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Risers and Fallers: Week 7

San Diego Chargers vs. New York Jets

Vincent Jackson – Heading into the 2011 season, Vincent Jackson was being touted as a premier option at the wide receiver position. Don’t get me wrong, his stats have been really good. But I think it’s safe to say that he’s not where most were expecting him to be at this point in the season. J
ackson has provided a couple of monster games but he certainly hasn’t performed up the level of the elite guys like Mike Wallace, Wes Welker, and the unstoppable force, Calvin Johnson.


Vincent Jackson has been working through a few different injuries including an abdominal strain and a hamstring injury. The bye week couldn’t have come at a better time for Jackson. He’s had close to two weeks of complete rest to heal up and get back to 100%. The only downside to coming out of the bye week for Jackson is that he has to line up across from the undisputed best cornerback in the NFL in Darrelle Revis. The good news here is that a similar style of receiver in Brandon

Marshall
was able to put up huge yardage this past week on Monday Night Football against the Jets’ Revis.


Hopefully Jackson’s statistics will increase now that he’s rested and he can begin to chase after the top performers at the wide receiver position. Week seven gives him the chance to do so and rumor has it that Antonio Gates could be ready for action. Having Gates available may lead to fewer targets from quarterback Philip Rivers but it will also lead to less defensive attention. Vincent Jackson is playing the entire season in the hopes that a giant contract awaits him at season’s end. Here’s a great chance for him to earn that retirement fund and maybe even move into the Top 5 of the wide receiver rankings.


Seattle Seahawks vs. Cleveland Browns

Montario Hardesty – It’s extremely rare to see a player go from fan favorite to being stuck in a complete downward spin in just one offseason. We’ve seen cases like Keyshawn Johnson and more recently Randy Moss, but it doesn’t happen often. Well, we could be in for that exact situation in

Cleveland
with running back Peyton Hillis


Last season was a magical one for the bruising back. Hillis had the rushing yardage, the receiving yardage, and all the scoring opportunity in the world. This season though he’s yet to show us his 2010 form. Hillis has had difficulty finding the end zone and his yards per carry average is about half of what it was last season. Fantasy owners took the “White Rhino” as early as the second round in most cases. This certainly is not what owners expected from him in doing so. Not only is Hillis struggling on the field but his off the field issues have been as equally frustrating.


Hillis has made it completely obvious that he is upset about his contract situation. Upset enough that rumors have circulated that he sat out of a game with strep throat just to send a message to the Cleveland brass. The hamstring injury that Hillis suffered in Week 6 isn’t going to help his on-field issues and very well could increase the vigor of the off-field problems. All of this leads to a chance for the young Montario

Hardesty
to perform up to our once high expectations for him.


Before Hardesty’s knee injury everyone in fantasy land targeted him as a big impact player in Cleveland. No one had Peyton Hillis on their radar when the

Browns
took Hardesty in the draft. Hardesty has a great matchup against a pitiful defense in the Seattle Seahawks. He should receive most of the carries in what should be a game without Peyton Hillis. Hardesty’s performance added to Hillis’ growing situation could lead to a large value gain in the long term starting as early as this week. Do you believe in the Madden Curse yet?


Atlanta Falcons vs. Detroit Lions

Matt Ryan – “Matty Ice” found himself right around the Top 10 in the quarterback rankings heading into the season. So far though, he has yet to earn that distinguished designation. The passing game has struggled often in 2011. Perhaps the fact that defenses are finally paying heavy attention to Roddy White is the reason. The injury to Ryan’s number two option in Julio Jones certainly isn’t helping. To make things worse the Falcons look like when they rely on the running game, specifically Michael Turner, they have a better chance of winning.


Matt Ryan could find himself as more of a game manager and less of a focal point. Luckily for Ryan, just as the Falcons found their running legs in Week 6 they get matched up against the Detroit Lions in Week 7. The defensive line of the Lions should provide heavy opposition to the Falcons’ ground attack. With the running game struggling the play calls will sway into the favor of the passing attack. Ryan needs to make a lot of noise against the Lions this week. He needs to step it up and show owners exactly why he was considered a Top 10 option at the quarterback position.


Last week we saw Turner get the most carries he’s been given all season. This week we could see the opposite mentality and have Matt Ryan get the most passing attempts he’s had all season. The Lions’ strong offense playing against the Falcons’ mediocre defense will provide an additional need to throw the ball on Sunday. Matt Ryan should be let off his leash for the first time in 2011. It’s completely up to him what he does with the additional chances.

Chicago Bears vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Devin Hester – After seeing exactly how explosive Hester was in the return game the Bears decided to implement him into the passing game. But since that change occurred a few seasons ago they have failed to use him in the correct manner. You don’t put Hester out on the field to have him run five-yard curl routes or quick out routes. It’s absolutely pointless and negates his true value.


Hester’s touchdown in Week 6 is the perfect example of how he should be used. Hester very well could be the fastest player in the NFL. His quarterback Jay Cutler has one of the strongest arms in the league providing one of the best deep balls in all of the NFL. It doesn’t take four semesters of Applied Physics to understand what should be done. There should be somewhere around four or five plays a game that are drawn up specifically for Hester. Whether they are deep

field crossing
routes or just straight-up fly routes, Mike Martz needs to take some calculated risks with Hester.


Cutler could easily throw the ball to a deep spot that only Devin Hester could make it to. If he doesn’t get there or can’t make the catch the worst that happens is the loss of a down. If they do connect, even just once, they’d be for a huge gainer or even a homerun score. Hester certainly doesn’t rival DeSean Jackson in overall wide receiver play, but he could mirror the Eagles’ receiver as a consistent deep ball threat. There are few defenders if any that could matchup against Hester one on one.

This is way too easy of a formula to ignore. All of the NFL related media members claim that Mike Martz is an offensive genius. Well, until he realizes the formula of “Cutler + Hester = Touchdowns” Martz may actually want to invest in a few Applied Physics classes himself.

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