Joe Dolan is the managing editor of FantasyGuru.com and a host for SiriusXM Radio. A former writer for PhiladelphiaEagles.com, Joe still contributes to the site with on-camera segments and written columns. He can be heard hosting "SiriusXM Fantasy Football Gameday" every NFL Sunday from 1-7 PM on Sirius 210, XM 87.
Michael Vick is probable for Sunday. Should I trust in him this week?
Well, I don't exactly expect Vick to be 100 percent as he's dealing with a hamstring injury, which could curb some of his upside as a fantasy play. But once again, I'm telling you that I like having the quarterback in the Eagles offense for fantasy purposes. Last week, Nick Foles clearly didn't play well, but there were plenty of opportunities to make plays that just didn't happen, in large part because of execution. Overall, the Eagles have executed very well this season, which is why they had more than 400 yards in every game before last week. The Eagles have gained at least 400 yards of offense in each of Vick's five starts.
While his run game may be a bit limited, Vick is going up against a Giants defense giving up 25.4 fantasy points per game, third most in the league, to opposing quarterbacks over the last five weeks, and that includes Josh Freeman's ridiculously bad performance last week. Additionally, DeSean Jackson crushed the Giants in Week 5 because they don't have a defender who can match up well with him individually. The fact that the Giants have a grand total of six sacks in seven games is just another reason why I don't have a problem with rolling with Vick in a six-team bye week.
Is there reason to be concerned about LeSean McCoy?
Starting with these Giants back in Week 5, teams have been having better success slowing down McCoy. In fact, Michael Vick was the Eagles' top rusher against the Giants in Week 5, rushing 7 times for 79 yards in one half of football before leaving with his hamstring injury. In a full game, McCoy had only 20/46/1 rushing, although he also added 6/46 receiving. Then, last week, McCoy had only 55 yards on 18 carries against the Cowboys. The Giants did a great job confusing the Eagles offensive line in Week 5, using stunts and delays to throw the offense out of sync, and Philly was unable to get to the outside on zone runs the way it has been used to. The Eagles must execute better up front, as center Jason Kelce admitted after the Giants game last time out. McCoy also admitted he did too much dancing behind the line of scrimmage in the Cowboys' game. That all said, McCoy is still the No. 10 fantasy back in a PPR over the last five weeks, and there's no reason to panic just because he isn't putting up Tecmo Bowl numbers with consistency any more.
Are the Giants sick of Hakeem Nicks and is Rueben Randle the new #2 here?
The short answer: I think so, or it's at least trending that way. Giants coach Tom Coughlin acknowledged this week that Nicks struggled with drops against the Vikings last Monday night, including a ball that should have been a touchdown. On Wednesday, Coughlin said Nicks' "reliability factor" with Eli Manning isn't where it has been or should be, and given that he's an impending free agent who is the subject of trade rumors, we wonder if he'll ever get back to that point again in a Giants uniform. Over the last five weeks, Randle has 15 catches, including four touchdowns, on 29 targets. Nicks has 18 catches over that span, but no touchdowns, on 40 targets. Two of those four touchdowns for Randle came against the Eagles in Week 5, and because he's been making more plays on the perimeter than Nicks, I consider him a potentially safer play this week simply because we can't trust Nicks given his drop issues and the fact that he just doesn't look as explosive as he once was. We understand there have been chemistry issues with Randle and Eli, but Randle has upside that Nicks just doesn't at this stage of his career, and he's going to be in a Giants uniform next year, while it looks like Nicks will not.
AROUND THE LEAGUE
Week 7 was a complete injury bloodbath. What will the fallout be?
First and foremost, let's realize that season-ending injuries are up nearly 50 percent this year from last season at the same time. And that only counts players who have been put on injured reserve, so it doesn't factor in guys like C.J. Spiller who have been banged up and playing hurt so far this season. It's ridiculous and I've never seen it this bad. And if you have a team that has been totally ravaged by injuries, I have this to say: you are not alone.
But if you are still alive despite one of these awful injuries, here is how I view the teams involved handling their predicaments.
RB Doug Martin, Buccaneers – If you watched the Thursday night game between the Panthers and the Bucs (and bless you if you did), you already know what Mike James can do. With Martin (shoulder) out indefinitely, James carried 10 times for 39 yards and caught four passes for 25 yards, despite not playing on third downs (Brian Leonard did). James runs low to the ground, fights for extra yardage and has soft hands, so he can contribute as a flex if you lost Martin. However, Martin's absence may also have a negative effect on the Bucs' passing game, because defenses may not load up the box to stop the run as much any more. Vincent Jackson's production was down on Thursday night.
QB Jay Cutler, Bears – Cutler (groin) is expected to miss at least a month, and that means veteran Josh McCown is going to fill in under center. McCown played well in relief of Cutler last week against Washington, completing 14/20 passes for 204 yards with a TD, and he looked to be a good fit in Marc Trestman's speedy offense. While McCown is not Cutler, he's a veteran and a pro who should help keep this offense afloat. That said, we'd downgrade Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery a bit, as the weaker-armed McCown could instead look to check down to Matt Forte and Martellus Bennett. It's good news the Bears have their bye this week to try to get McCown installed, because he needs to be sharp. The Bears defense has a reputation and little else at this point.
QB Sam Bradford, Rams – The Ram offense has already been a major disappointment for fantasy, so all bets are off with Bradford (ACL) done for the year. At the least, the Rams have found some sort of consistency with the run game with Zac Stacy, who should continue to see a lot of touches. Our hope for fantasy purposes is that the Rams just swallow their pride and allow Tavon Austin and Jared Cook to play through mistakes, because with backup quarterback Kellen Clemens in there, the Rams need as many playmakers as possible. As unevenly as Bradford has been playing this year, his absence will still hurt this offense a lot. Let's hope the presence of Clemens forces the Rams to open things up a bit.
WR Reggie Wayne, Colts – The Colts are another team on bye this week, and it's a good thing, so they can figure out what to do with their passing game without Wayne (ACL). The assumption is that T.Y. Hilton and Darrius Heyward-Bey will see more targets, but Hilton has had chemistry issues with Andrew Luck, and DHB has had chemistry issues with the football this year. We'd expect TE Coby Fleener to get a boost in the short area, but he too has had a case of the drops. The Colts could run the ball more, but their offensive line hasn't been very good, and Trent Richardson has really struggled to find and hit holes this season. Our hope is that coach Chuck Pagano allows Luck to be the elite QB he is and puts the game on his shoulders, boosting Hilton's value in the process, but nothing Pagano and offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton have done this year suggests they really want to open things up. The loss of Wayne is massive.
The additional issue with all these injuries is that a huge list of fantasy-heavy teams is on bye this week. We've already discussed the Bears and the Colts, but throw the Texans, Chargers, Titans and Ravens into that mix as well. With the injuries and byes (six teams are on bye next week as well), you won't be able to avoid having some otherwise undesirable options in your fantasy lineup. To reiterate, you are not alone.
OK, I've been hurt by injuries. Who are some of those "undesirable options" I could plug into my lineup this week?
QB Thad Lewis, Bills – Hurt by injuries and byes at quarterback? Lewis is a mobile guy who has been making some downfield throws and plays with his legs. He may be playing from behind against the Saints this week, as well.
RB Tashard Choice, Bills – Buffalo may finally sit C.J. Spiller, who has been playing hurt for weeks on his ankle. With Fred Jackson also dealing with some bumps and bruises, Choice could get a large share of the Bills' backfield touches this week.
WR Cole Beasley, Cowboys – The Cowboys may shut down Miles Austin for a while because of his hamstring issues, and Beasley has been Tony Romo's safety blanket out of the slot in recent weeks.
TE Ben Watson, Saints – With Jimmy Graham missing practice all week with a foot injury, Watson could well be one of the top targets in this offense, and he'll be playing with Drew Brees. A veteran who has had red zone success in the past, Watson will be in position to score a touchdown if he's the top guy at tight end here.
INJURIES TO WATCH
TE Jimmy Graham, Saints – Graham (foot) has missed practice all week and looks like a game-time decision, at best.
RB C.J. Spiller, Bills – Spiller (ankle) has been playing hurt for weeks. This may finally be the week the Bills shut him down, because Spiller admitted this week he doesn't have the explosion he needs to be truly successful.
RB Reggie Bush, Lions – Bush surprisingly missed practice on Friday with a leg injury. This is a situation to monitor, although he told reporters that he's playing.
WR Danny Amendola, Patriots – Amendola (concussion) is back at practice this week and has a chance to play on Sunday.
WR Roddy White, Falcons – Roddy (ankle, hamstring) is going to miss his second consecutive game.
WR James Jones, Packers – Jones (knee) looks unlikely to play this week.
RB Rashard Mendenhall, Cardinals – Mendy (toe) didn't practice on Wednesday or Thursday. If he's out, Andre Ellington has some big-time value.
RB Steven Jackson, Falcons – Jackson (hamstring) has been getting light work in this week and is probable for Sunday.
RB DeMarco Murray, Cowboys – Murray (knee) has an outside shot to be back this week.
QB: Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers – Pittsburgh's paying a visit to The Black Hole, but Ben's played exceptionally well of late and the emergence of an actual run game there has helped matters a ton.
RB: Roy Helu, Washington – Helu has been playing a ton of snaps in the Redskins' one-back "turbo" package. We'd expect to see a lot of that set in a potential shootout with the Broncos.
WR: Michael Floyd, Cardinals – The Falcons struggle with the pass rush and in the secondary, which means Carson Palmer can actually hurt them.
TE: Anthony Fasano, Chiefs – Need a reach this week? Fasano nearly scored twice last week and the Browns have been susceptible to the tight end all season.
QB: Terrelle Pryor, Raiders – He didn't play well last time out, and Steeler defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau has a long history of driving young quarterbacks nuts.
RB: Willis McGahee, Browns – The Chiefs are stout against the run and McGahee has done next to nothing in the passing game. He probably needs a touchdown to have fantasy relevance.
WR: Josh Gordon, Browns – If there's ever a week to sit Gordon, this is it. New quarterback Jason Campbell plays the game at half speed, and the Chief defense can man up on him.
TE: Kyle Rudolph, Vikings – They've made a point to get him more involved in recent weeks, but going back to Ponder scares me.