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What Did We Learn – Week 7 Edition

Montario Hardesty will be part of a Browns timeshare. The Browns running game may have just become a timeshare. Madden 12 cover boy Peyton Hillis has been slowed by injuries, and his contract situation has apparently been somewhat of a distraction. The Browns turned to Hardesty this week with Hillis out, and Hardesty carried the ball 33 times for 95 yards. Is that a good yards per carry average? No. But it appears that the Browns brass was impressed enough to go timeshare upon Hillis’ return. And with Hillis becoming a free agent after the season, they might as well see what they have in their young back.

Matthew Stafford is coming back to Earth. The Falcons defense is currently ranked 26th in the league in passing defense. But Stafford was unable to do much. Despite the knee injury he suffered, and he’s fine, he could only muster 183 yards on 15-32 passing. These are not the kind of numbers you look for in a franchise quarterback, especially at home. There may be someone out there willing to pay Week 4 money for Stafford, and it may be time to pounce. You know his injury history. This is now the latest he’s ever been “healthy” in his NFL career, and he’s already hobbled with ankle and knee injuries. Two words: walking boot. One more: trade?

Plaxico Burress is once again a red zone target. Despite the time spent “away” from football, he didn’t get any shorter. He’s still a huge target with great hands. And it now appears that Mark Sanchez, who is still really overrated, will look for him near the end zone. He’s still a target, but his fantasy value is way too reliant on touchdowns. Yesterday’s stat line: Four catches, 25 yards, three touchdowns. His three touchdowns accounted for 10 yards. If someone is willing to consider him a top-20 receiver, sell.

Josh Freeman is taking a step backwards. Last season, Freeman looked as if he was preparing to make the leap to stardom. He had the arm, the elusiveness, and, best of all, he seemed to thrive in pressure situations. This season, he seems lost at times, and hasn’t been taking care of the ball. And in London on Sunday, he threw four interceptions, ultimately costing the Bucs a chance at a win. He was probably drafted as a borderline QB1 in your league, only he shouldn’t be treated that way anymore. He’s a backup and possible bye week fill-in, if the matchup is right, and if you can’t find someone better…

The Redskins rushing attack continues to baffle. Against the Eagles in Week 6, the Redskins struggled to run the ball. I’ll say that again. Against the EAGLES, the REDSKINS struggled to RUN the ball. In week 7, the Skins traveled to Carolina, and seemed to re-commit to the run. Coach Shanahan kept us guessing, giving the ball primarily to Tim Hightower. Hightower ran 17 times for 88 yards, but ended up with a torn ACL and will miss the rest of the season. This means that there are now just two options for carries going forward. It’s not worth the effort or heartburn to start them, but if I had to guess, I’d guess that Torain is your guy next week in Toronto against the Bills. But who knows?

Big Ben is back. After a preseason that left the football community brimming with expectations, the Steelers offense sputtered early. Over the past few weeks, the offense has gotten better and better, and what’s a better cure for an offense than playing the Cardinals? Roethlisberger certainly enjoyed himself, throwing for 361 yards and three scores. The offensive line still struggled to protect him at times, but that’s also a product of Roethlisberger holding onto the ball looking to make a play. If the Steelers can remain healthy on offense, he can put up some stunning numbers this season. And if they stay healthy on defense, they can put up some stunning numbers this postseason.

DeMarco Murray is the answer to Dallas’ running back question. First, I get it. It was the Rams. They’re awful. Got it. But Murray was phenomenal. The line: 25 carries, 253 yards, one touchdown. He’ll continue to be the guy in the backfield for now, especially with Felix Jones still slowed. But the Cowboys already know what they have in Jones. If Murray can stay healthy, he’s a poor man’s Adrian Peterson. He’s a Top-20 back for the foreseeable future. Get him in your lineup.

The Raiders running game will be fine. Darren McFadden will continue to rack up yards when healthy. And if he can’t play or needs a rest, Michael Bush will put up yards. On his second carry in Sunday’s matchup with the Chiefs, McFadden sprained his foot. Michael Bush took over, and ran 17 times for 99 yards. They put up rushing numbers with Kyle Boller, who is and was horrendous, and Carson Palmer, who has practiced four times in the past nine months, at quarterback. The rushing attack will be fine.

It’s time to quit on the Colts. The only way I can envision a scenario in which I will start an Indianapolis Colt the rest of the season is if Peyton Manning is playing. I’m not sure what Curtis Painter is, but he’s managed to turn both Reggie Wayne and Dallas Clark into over-valued black holes. Seriously, take whatever their projections are for the rest of the season and divide by two. And the running game will obviously struggle. Then again, are teams really going to stack the box against Joseph Addai or Delone Carter? Doubtful. Defensive coordinators will struggle the rest of the season on how to gameplan for the Colts, because there’s nothing you actually want to commit your defense to stopping. Ugh.

Joe Flacco is overrated. Watching the Monday Night game was brutal. Both teams looked fantastic defensively. But Blaine Gabbert is a rookie. Joe Flacco has no excuses. He was slow to make decisions, off target on throws, and just looked overmatched. The Ravens have plenty of weapons, but much like Mark Sanchez, it’s starting to look like Flacco really needs that defense in order to prop him up. At this point, the only Raven you’re really comfortable having in your lineup is Ray Rice.

Week 8 byes: Atlanta, Chicago, Green Bay, New York Jets, Oakland, Tampa Bay

Good luck.

Drew Magyar is a staff writer and can be reached at

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