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What Did We Learn – Week 7

It’s bound to happen in a physical game, but injuries have already derailed seasons for a number of key players. David Wilson’s availability is in doubt due to a neck injury. Atlanta has been a mess, with Roddy White hobbled all season, Julio Jones missing the rest of the year, and Steven Jackson having played just one full game.

It’s bound to happen. But that doesn’t make it any easier to take.

But now it’s time to reflect and discuss who’s been better than we thought and who … hasn’t.

Who’s Been Better Than We Thought?

Nick Foles
filled in for Michael Vick on Sunday in Tampa Bay to the tune of 296 yards and three touchdowns. The offense looked different under Foles, as you might expect, but I wasn’t expecting it to be that dynamic against Darrelle Revis and company. LeSean McCoy ran well, DeSean Jackson and Riley Cooper made some big plays, something that should continue in this offense. If Vick misses this week’s dream matchup against Dallas, Foles will draw another start, this time in front of the Philadelphia crowd.

Knowshon Moreno
has been an integral part of the Denver offense this season, running the ball effectively, catching the ball out of the backfield, and, perhaps most importantly, protecting Peyton Manning in the pocket. He’s been outscored by only Jamaal Charles, LeSean McCoy and Marshawn Lynch. This past week, Moreno gained just 42 yards on 15 carries, but scored three times. He also added seven catches for 62 yards. Now is the time to make an offer on Moreno. He’s going to remain a top-10 back for the rest of the year.

Brandon Jacobs
isn’t dead. I know. It came as a surprise to me, too. On Thursday night, Jacobs ran well against a Chicago defense that has begun to struggle as injuries have mounted. He rushed 22 times for 106 yards and a pair of scores, providing a spark behind an offensive line that finally opened up some running lanes. David Wilson is expected to miss New York’s upcoming game against a porous Minnesota run defense, so Jacobs would be the primary ball carrier again.

Stevan Ridley
was a second- or third-round pick in August, but he’s struggled to the point that he’s barely a flex play. He was on my bench for two teams. But in a Week 6 shootout with New Orleans, Ridley looked like last year’s version, running 20 times for 96 yards and scoring two touchdowns. He finally dominated the backfield committee for touches, making defenders miss and converting twice near the goal line. You’ll be hard-pressed to sit him next week, despite a tough matchup with the New York Jets’ stingy defense.

Justin Blackmon
has been unstoppable since returning from his four-game suspension. He started in Week 5 with five catches for 136 yards and a score, but that was apparently the appetizer. In Week 6 against Denver, Blackmon caught 14 balls for 190 yards. He still plays for a poor Jacksonville offense, but they’re going to be throwing a lot, and Chad Henne is looking for him.

Who’s Been Worse?

Robert Griffin III
had a juicy matchup in Week 6, taking on a Dallas defense that had allowed 14 touchdown passes this season, and 400-plus yards in two straight games. And Washington was coming off a bye. Griffin III owners were salivating. When the dust settled, Griffin III had thrown for 246 yards, no touchdowns, one interception and a fumble. He’s thrown just one touchdown in his last three games. I’m not sure if he’s still having any issues with his knee, but he hasn’t lived up to expectations.

Chris Johnson
had a rough matchup in Week 6. He was playing in Seattle with Ryan Fitzpatrick at quarterback. Needless to say, it was tough sledding. He wound up with just 33 yards on 12 carries. It’s disappointing, especially considering the offseason upgrades on the Tennessee offensive line, specifically free agent Andy Levitre and rookie Chance Warmack. But Johnson has been miserable lately, with just 71 yards on the ground in his last three games, combined, and I don’t expect things to get any easier against San Francisco next week.

C.J. Spiller
was supposed to be the guy this season. Instead, ineffectiveness and injuries have slowed Spiller out of the gate. He’s made the occasional play, but he’s been stuck in a timeshare with Fred Jackson. With E.J. Manuel out of the lineup, the Bills are stuck using replacement level quarterbacks on Sundays, which won’t help the running game, either. With Thad Lewis under center, Spiller ran 10 times for 55 yards. Until Manuel comes back, and/or Jackson gets hurt, Spiller will be a hit-or-miss guy with limited upside.

Doug Martin
was thought to be a consensus top-five guy, and was chosen as high as second in some preseason drafts. There are now several reasons for his struggles. First, Carl Nicks hasn’t played at all this season, and he’s arguably one of the top run-blockers in the league. Second, Josh Freeman’s struggles meant less running room for Martin. Third, Freeman’s struggles led to his benching and eventual dismissal from the Bucs, meaning rookie Mike Glennon took over at quarterback. On Sunday, Martin picked up 67 yards on 16 carries. It’s going to be difficult for Martin to deliver on his draft day potential, and it may be time to fish for someone thinking they can buy low.

Tavon Austin
is a fast, shifty playmaker. But the trick with playmakers is that they need the ball. On Sunday, Austin caught a single pass for three yards. After catching six balls in each of his first three games, he has just six catches in his last three games, combined. For those that were counting on him to be a game-changer, you can stash him if you like, but there are lots of guys I’d rather have.

Top Pickups

Bye weeks are in full swing, but only New Orleans and Oakland will be taking extended time off this week. With injuries also starting to mount, who can owners target if they’re looking for a waiver wire gem or bye-week fill-in?

Nick Foles
will probably get another start this week. The Eagles have no reason to rush Michael Vick back to the starting lineup with Foles playing so well. Assuming he does start against Dallas, I love Foles’ chances. The Eagles offense is starting to click, and if he can continue to put up numbers (and wins), Foles may never look back.

Joseph Randle
came on for DeMarco Murray on Sunday night, after Murray exited with a sprained MCL. Murray will probably miss at least one week, if not more, and Randle is healthier (and better) than Lance Dunbar. The Philadelphia run defense has improved, but they’re still not all that great. Randle would be a viable flex option.

Brandon Jacobs
will look to build on his impressive Week 6 performance against Minnesota in Week 7. He couldn’t ask for a better matchup, as the Vikings have been known to be generous to opposing backs. Ultimately, this will come down to New York’s Jekyll and Hyde offensive line, but I like Jacobs to run well and score.

Brandon LaFell
drives me crazy. Steve Smith is a better talent, but it always seems like LaFell puts up bigger numbers. Cam Newton looked his way in Week 6, which probably means he won’t this week, but LaFell is a solid bet for points against a weak St. Louis secondary.

Terrance Williams
still outperformed Miles Austin in Week 6. Granted, his numbers weren’t like the ones he posted against Denver, but he got in the end zone. Austin didn’t catch a ball. Philadelphia has given up a ton of points to opposing receivers, so there should be plenty of passes for everyone.

Good luck in Week 7.

Drew Magyar is a fantasysharks.com staff writer and member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. He can be reached at

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