Fantasy Football's Biggest Winners & Losers from NFL Week 7
It's the seventh week of the 2012 NFL season, meaning the regular season in fantasy football leagues has hit the halfway mark.
Teams are already beginning to jockey for playoff position—or draft picks next year, depending on your format and whether or not fortune has smiled on you or kicked you in the face.
Needless to say, your playoff hopes could be riding on a handful of players expected to put up big numbers. There were more than a few of those this week, but there were also a few fantasy stars that left owners shaking their heads.
Here's a look at the best and worst that fantasy football had to offer in Week 7.
Winner: Josh Freeman, QB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
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Coming off his best game of the season and headed into a matchup where he would likely be forced to throw more than usual, many fantasy pundits saw quarterback Josh Freeman as an excellent play this week against the New Orleans Saints.
Sure enough, the fourth-year pro had a huge statistical showing in a loss to the Saints, completing 24-of-42 passes for 420 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions.
In fact, Freeman's day would have been even better were it not for a penalty that negated his fourth touchdown pass of the day as time expired.
Loser: Joe Flacco, QB, Baltimore Ravens
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As good a day as Josh Freeman had against the Saints, Joe Flacco's day was just as bad—or maybe worse.
With injuries devastating the Ravens' defense, it fell to Baltimore's fifth-year quarterback and the offense to pick up the slack in a big AFC showdown against the Houston Texans.
Instead, Flacco faceplanted, completing fewer than half of his passes and tossing a pair of first-half interceptions as the Ravens were routed on the road.
Winner: Drew Brees, QB, New Orleans Saints
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The New Orleans Saints had an extra week to game-plan for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, entering Sunday's game with no margin for error if they wanted to keep their diminishing playoff aspirations alive.
It wasn't easy, but the Saints were able to emerge with a seven-point win over the Buccaneers in Week 7. Quarterback Drew Brees had another huge game, topping 375 passing yards and throwing four first-half touchdown passes.
Loser: Trent Richardson, RB, Cleveland Browns
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Fantasy owners of running back Trent Richardson were presented with a conundrum this week.
A matchup with an Indianapolis Colts team that just made Shonn Greene look like Walter Payton seemed too good to pass up, but the rib injury that Richardson suffered against the Cincinnati Bengals last week made the talented rookie a dicey fantasy bet.
Richardson owners that went ahead and rolled those dice crapped out big time, as the clearly-limited runner managed only eight yards on eight carries in a loss at Indy.
Winner: Chris Johnson, RB, Tennessee Titans
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There were a number of outstanding fantasy performances from the running back position in Week 7, from a 150-yard effort from Adrian Peterson to a surprising 100-yard day from scatback LaRod Stephens-Howling.
However, Sunday's most impressive outing in the backfield came from a rather unlikely source.
After being a massive disappointment for most of the season, running back Chris Johnson showed some signs of a rebound last week against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The fifth-year veteran followed that up by exploding against the Buffalo Bills to the tune of nearly 200 total yards and two touchdowns, including an 83-yard scamper.
Loser: Felix Jones, RB, Dallas Cowboys
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After topping 90 rushing yards in relief of the injured DeMarco Murray last week, many fantasy owners were chomping at the bit to pick up running back Felix Jones.
Against a Carolina Panthers run defense that has struggled mightily this season, a big game had to be in the cards, right?
Some things are just too good to be true.
Sure enough, Jones proceeded to lay an egg against the Panthers, averaging fewer than three yards a carry. His five receptions for 30 yards salvaged a serviceable outing for fantasy owners in PPR leagues.
Winner: Vincent Jackson, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
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As strange as it may be given his monster stat line on Sunday, wide receiver Vincent Jackson is something of a winner and a loser in Week 7.
The eighth-year veteran set a Tampa Bay Buccaneers franchise record for receiving yards, racking up an otherworldly 216 yards on seven receptions with a touchdown in the loss to the New Orleans Saints.
However, Jackson was also caught from behind at the one-yard line by free safety Malcolm Jenkins on a 95-yard pass play.
The Buccaneers were unable to punch the ball in the end zone in four tries, and ended up losing the game by a touchdown.
If Jackson owners lose their fantasy games by less than six points, they will know exactly how Greg Schiano feels.
Loser: Anquan Boldin, WR, Baltimore Ravens
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Wide receiver Anquan Boldin has been a very pleasant surprise for his fantasy football owners of late, averaging six catches and over 100 yards per game over the past three weeks.
However, fantasy squads that started Boldin against the Houston Texans were treated to a much different kind of surprise.
The 32-year-old was a complete non-factor in Week 7. While most of that can be blamed on Joe Flacco's atrocious play, that won't make Boldin's fantasy owners feel any better about his three-catch, 24-yard performance.
Winner: Victor Cruz, WR, New York Giants
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Wide receiver Victor Cruz is carving out a regular spot for himself on the "winners" portion of this list, as the third-year pro found the end zone in New York's Week 7 win for the fourth consecutive game.
Sunday's touchdown may have been the biggest of the bunch though, as Eli Manning and Cruz connected on a late 77-yard strike that ended up deciding the game in the Giants' 27-23 victory over the Washington Redskins.
Loser: Dez Bryant, WR, Dallas Cowboys
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After setting a career high with 13 receptions last week against the Baltimore Ravens, many fantasy owners hoped that third-year wide receiver Dez Bryant was finally going to fulfill his incredible potential and become a consistent weekly starter in fantasy football leagues.
As the Dallas Cowboys wideout has done repeatedly throughout his career, Bryant followed up a huge game with a disappearing act, managing only two catches for 14 yards against the Carolina Panthers.
Winner: Santana Moss, WR, Washington Redskins
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With injuries piling up and six teams on a bye in Week 7, a lot of fantasy squads were forced to dig deep this week, with some going so far as to start little-used wide receiver Santana Moss out of desperation.
Well, those desperate teams aren't so desperate any more. While the Redskins' 12-year veteran only caught three passes, he made the most of those limited touches, racking up 67 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
Loser: Vernon Davis, TE, San Francisco 49ers
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Let's hop into the wayback machine and visit the long ago age known as last Thursday.
It was expected that Thursday night's tilt between the Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers would be a defensive battle. The Seattle secondary is as stingy as any in the NFL, so fantasy owners of tight end Vernon Davis were well-served to temper their expectations.
Still, it wasn't unreasonable to expect the seventh-year pro to catch at least one pass.
Or maybe it was, as Davis was completely shut down in Week 7.
Winner: Rob Gronkowski, TE, New England Patriots
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Many fantasy owners spent a first round draft pick on New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski expecting a repeat (or at least close to it) of the third-year pro's 16-touchdown breakout campaign of a season ago.
Those same fantasy owners have been mostly left wanting in 2012 but in Week 7 that was not the case, as Gronkowski reeled in six passes for 78 yards and two touchdowns in the Patriots overtime win against the New York Jets.
Loser: A.J. Green, WR, Cincinnati Bengals
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This one may be as much about unrealistic expectations as anything, especially given that for the sixth consecutive game Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green scored a touchdown in their loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers Sunday night.
However, Green's eight-yard score was the second-year pro's only catch in the game, as the Pittsburgh Steelers were very effective in rolling help to Green's side of the field in coverage, blanketing the star wideout and forcing quarterback Andy Dalton to look elsewhere with the football.