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What Did We Learn – Week 6

The Falcons have gotten back to their offensive system. Throughout the early part of the season, it seemed as though the Falcons were trying to force Matt Ryan on us. And while Matt Ryan is ok, he’s no Tom Brady. From their performance and play calling on Sunday, it looks like the Falcons may have figured that out. They went back to a run-heavy attack, relying on Michael Turner. This allowed Matt Ryan to manage the game, while giving Michael Turner 27 carries for 139 yards, and a pair of scores. This is the formula that put them atop the NFC heading into the playoffs last season, and it may be a sign of big things to come for Turner.

The 49ers’ offense can be successful AND be built around Frank Gore. For the past few seasons, we’ve known that Frank Gore was very good. But we always had reservations about the rest of the 49ers’ offense. Head Coach Jim Harbaugh has installed an offense that not only still emphasizes Frank Gore, it also puts Alex Smith, yes I said Alex Smith, in a position to be successful as well. Whatever they’re doing it’s working, and Gore has once again returned to elite back status.

Maurice Jones-Drew can do it against anyone. This week, I had to question MJD against the Steelers in a few leagues. But upon further review, the Jaguars back is just too good. I know that he’s probably a “must-start” every week, but I just wasn’t sure about him with a rookie signal caller against the Steelers. He put up 96 yards on 22 carries, and reminded me why he was a first round pick.

Rashard Mendenhall is still a top back. Mendenhall missed last week’s game with a hamstring injury, but his struggles this season had begun long before that. In four games, he’d picked up only 173 yards on 58 carries. Sure, he’d scored twice, but you want more from your workhorse back. In his absence last week, the Steelers turned to the run game to protect Ben Roethlisberger. Mendenhall responded with a 23-carry, 146-yard game, sparking the Steelers’ offense, and providing tremendous value to both the Steelers and fantasy owners alike.

The Eagles will…run the ball? Desperation does strange things. And when the Eagles traveled down I-95 for a showdown with the division rival Redskins, they brought with them a change in philosophy. LeSean McCoy is an elite running back, and the Eagles have decided to feature him even more. He got the ball early and often, rushing 28 times for 126 yards and a score. And like Mendenhall, McCoy’s rushing threat will serve to not only set up the offense and provide balance, but also to keep Michael Vick upright.

Greg Little is getting better fast. We heard all the reports from training camp that Greg Little was good. Now we were just waiting on him to prove it. But he’s a rookie, so what was a realistic time table for his arrival? He had a decent Week 4 against the Titans, grabbing 6 balls for 57 yards. But following the Browns’ bye in Week 6, Little caught another 6 passes for 72 yards. But more interesting was the fact that Colt McCoy targeted him 12 times. If McCoy is looking for him that often, doesn’t that almost make him their default #1 receiver? He may be able to provide some value, and he’s still available in a lot of leagues.

DeMarco Murray can be a productive NFL back. We all knew it was only a matter of time until Felix Jones missed games. That time is now. Jones hurt himself in Sunday’s game against the Patriots, and it’s now being reported that he’ll miss 2-4 weeks with a high ankle sprain. Murray came off the bench to fill in, and looked much better than his 10 carry, 32-yard performance would indicate. Look for Murray to be the top pickup this week, and with good reason.

Marques Colston is finally healthy. The Saints’ receiver has been nicked up a bit this season, but he’s finally getting into midseason form. On Sunday, Colston caught 7 passes for 118 yards and a score. Drew Brees was clearly looking for him, targeting him 11 times. Colston is a borderline fantasy WR1, and with their offensive system, he may be worth acquiring in a trade.

Devin Hester has become a good receiver. We’ve known Devin Hester is a special teams weapon, although the Vikings might not have. But I’ve been impressed recently with his talent as a receiver. And while the majority of his points came on a single deep pass, Hester continued to be involved in the offense. And the Bears are attempting to get the ball to him on screens, allowing him to get the ball in space.

Brandon Lloyd will be a Ram now. The news came Monday that Brandon Lloyd has been traded to the Rams, reuniting him with former Head Coach Josh McDaniels in St. Louis. It was McDaniels’ system that made Lloyd a household name, and he could very easily return to that prominence. But with Sam Bradford hobbled by a high ankle sprain, will he have the chance to work on timing with Bradford? In related news, Eric Decker becomes a more appealing receiver in Denver, but ultimately it becomes a fantasy offense to avoid, other than Tim Tebow.

Week 7 byes: Buffalo, Cincinnati, New England, New York Giants, Philadelphia, San Francisco

Good luck.

Drew Magyar is a FantasySharks.com staff writer and can be reached at drewmagyar@gmail.com

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