MJD, sidelined by a foot injury (AP Images)The image over on the right? Yeah, that's the worst.
That would be Maurice Jones-Drew on the sideline, supported by crutches, not playing football.
MJD suffered a left foot injury on the first play from scrimmage in Jacksonville's loss to Oakland on Sunday, exiting after his second carry. He spent an eternity on a bench, getting taped and de-taped, but was eventually carted to the locker room for additional maintenance. While there, he presumably picked up Rashad Jennings in all of his fantasy leagues.
When Jones-Drew emerged in the second half, he was out of uniform, looking crushed. His foot was in a boot. We don't yet know the exact nature of MJD's malfunction, but this doesn't have the look of a minor issue. If you own him in fantasy, Sunday afternoon was unusually painful.
Jennings clearly becomes a mandatory add. He's available in 80 percent of Yahoo! leagues, so most of you can make a play for his services. We've had a few false alarms with Jennings over the years, but this sure seems to be an actionable event. Rashad gained 102 yards on 28 touches against the Raiders (seven catches included), finding the end zone on a five-yard run in the second quarter. He's not perfect MJD replacement, but he's talented enough to perhaps pay 90 cents on the dollar.
The Jaguars have a few appealing match-ups remaining on the schedule (Indianapolis, Tennessee, Buffalo), games in which a healthy Jones-Drew would be a top-five fantasy option. If MJD's injury is of the multi-week variety, you'll want Jennings on your roster.
[Monday update: Well, the early word is in on Jones-Drew's foot, and it's not great news. He'll definitely miss the Week 8 match-up with Green Bay, and could in fact be out for an extended period, per his head coach. It's a mid-foot injury. Fantasy-wise, the advice remains the same: Add Jennings wherever you can.]
• As if losing Jones-Drew wasn't painful enough, Jacksonville also had to turn to backup QB Chad Henne on Sunday. He checked in when Blaine Gabbert exited with a left shoulder injury. Henne then did many of the usual Henne things, finishing 9-for-20 with 70 yards and no TDs, and the Jags dropped a game in which they held a 14-point second-half lead.
The Raiders didn't deliver an offensive clinic, but they did enough to beat a bad team. Darren McFadden averaged less than 3.0 YPC for the fifth time this season, rushing for just 53 yards on 19 carries. Carson Palmer passed for 298 yards and one TD, and he poached a one-yard rushing score from DMC (easily my least favorite moment of the day. Let us not speak of it again).
• At halftime of the Saints-Bucs game, Drew Brees was on pace to throw for over 600 yards, and various single-game passing records seemed to be at risk. But when all the stats were in, Tampa quarterback Josh Freeman actually delivered the greater yardage total. Freeman went 24-for-42 against New Orleans, passing for 420 yards and three scores. He should have had a fourth TD, but Vincent Jackson couldn't quite make it to the goal line on this long catch. (Hit that link. You just don't see many 95-yard non-scoring plays). And Freeman probably should have had a fifth TD when he found Mike Williams in the back of the end zone on the game's final play, but ... well, the NFL rulebook can be cruel. Right call, weird rule.
Freeman's huge performance wasn't really much of a surprise, because someone puts up a big number against the Saints every week. Incredibly enough, the New Orleans defense has yet to hold any opponent below 24 points or 420 total yards this season. The Bucs rolled up 28 and 513 in Week 7. Peyton Manning & Co. will feast next Sunday.
We should note that Doug Martin had a useful day for Tampa, rushing for 85 yards and one TD on 16 carries, adding three catches for 37 yards. But Martin's owners were no doubt livid when LeGarrette Blount took back-to-back-to-back goal line carries following V-Jax's long reception. Blount did nothin' with his opportunities, as he was stuffed, re-stuffed and re-re-stuffed.
Here's how that nonsense looked in the box score play-by-play...
• Chris Johnson had a monster first half at Buffalo, then followed with a respectable final two quarters. CJ finished just five rushing yards shy of 200 and he found the end zone twice. He could have actually had a much bigger fantasy day, but 230-pound Jamie Harper vultured a pair of one-yard scores.
"I don't think I've ever had a bad game against [Buffalo]," said Johnson after the game. That comment may have been the understatement of the day. In three career games against the Bills, CJ has rushed for 480 yards(!) and six TDs, catching 11 passes for 107 yards.
Fred Jackson and CJ Spiller again split the backfield work for Buffalo, finishing with 17 and 18 touches respectively. Jackson gained 120 total yards and crossed the goal line once, while Spiller picked up 102 without scoring. Scott Chandler had a quiet day (2-15-0), notable because the Titans' defense has been destroyed by opposing tight ends all year.
• Andrew Luck's name isn't exactly the first that comes to mind when we think of dual-threat QBs, but the kid offers sneaky value via the ground game. He ran for a pair of short scores in the win over Cleveland on Sunday, and has now totaled 29.5 year-to-date fantasy points as a rusher. Luck ran for 957 yards and seven scores in his three-year collegiate career, so the rushing contributions aren't completely unexpected. Vick Ballard and Delone Carter combined for 125 yards on 31 carries against the Browns, but neither broke the plane.
Josh Gordon delivered another Devery Henderson-style game for Cleveland, catching two passes for 59 yards and a score, dropping another ball that should have gone for a TD. Brandon Weeden had his second turnover-free outing of the season, passing for 256 yards and two touchdowns against Indy, but it wasn't enough. The Browns never managed to get anything going on the ground; Trent Richardson struggled for a half with his rib injury, carrying eight times for eight yards, then sat after the break due to ineffectiveness. He apparently did not aggravate the rib issue, if his head coach can be believed. Let's hope that's the case. But bad is bad, whatever the reason.
• The Ravens were pummeled by the Texans in Week 7, as severely as the Texans were beaten by the Packers in Week 6. Baltimore was out-scored 43-13 and out-gained in total yardage, 420 to 176. The Texans defense accounted for nine points (safety, pick-six), plus they sacked Joe Flacco four times and intercepted him twice (both on tipped passes).
"Sometimes you get thrown outta the bar," said John Harbaugh in his postgame comments. So, so true.
If anyone can explain why Arian Foster was still on the field for Houston in the fourth quarter, with his team leading 36-13, I'd love to hear it. That seemed a little risky, but it certainly worked out well for Foster's owners. Arian finished with 103 scrimmage yards and two TDs on 20 touches. Andre Johnson gave us a decent fantasy line, too (9-for-86), something you can take to the trade market. And Matt Schaub threw the non-block of the day, at the 2:50 mark in this clip.
All-Day was a beast in Week 7 (USP)
• Adrian Peterson was a highlight machine on Sunday against Arizona, running over and around the Cards all afternoon, ultimately delivering 153 yards on 23 carries. Check the tape on his 13-yard rushing TD. That thing is straight from the '08 files. Almost unfair. It's a good thing for the Vikes that AP was dominant in Week 7, because Christian Ponder offered little help. He completed just eight passes to Minnesota receivers and two to Cardinals defenders, finishing with only 58 passing yards and a 35.5 rating. Percy Harvin owners should be ecstatic that their guy caught four balls for 37 yards and a score. He owned nearly all the receiving stats.
LaRod Stephens-Howling, not William Powell, was the primary back for Arizona this week, and he overcame both a tricky match-up and an unimpressive O-line. LSH gained 149 scrimmage yards on 24 touches, crossing the goal line on a three-yard score in the second quarter. He's a teacup running back (5-foot-7, 185), not a player from whom you'd expect a huge workload, but he's obviously the Cards back to own right now (if you insist on owning one).
• Once again, Steven Jackson and Daryl Richardson shared backfield responsibilities for the Rams, with moderately useful results. S-Jax rushed for 57 yards and a score on 12 carries, while Richardson had 11 touches for 79 yards. For now, you should think of both players as low-yield flex options. Without an injury (which we never root for) or a trade (which we sometimes root for, but rarely happens), this situation will remain a mess. Brandon Gibson caught five more balls for St. Louis, gaining 60 yards. He's an even lower-yield flex, though the Week 8 match-up with New England is interesting.
Aaron Rodgers had exactly the sort of day you envisioned when you drafted him, completing 30 of 37 throws for 342 yards and three scores, two of which went to Randall Cobb. Rodgers' final touchdown pass, a 39-yarder to Cobb, required weapons-grade precision. Look at this thing. That's evil. Sprinting left, then firing an on-target missile. Go outside, right now, and try to make that pass. [Expletive] Aaron [expletive] Rodgers.
Another ho-hum brilliant day for RG3 (USP)• If you're tired of listening to fantasy gurus hyping RG3, slobbering over his highlights, then maybe you'll enjoy hearing from a few opposing defensive players. Here's a sampling of comments from various Giants, discussing Griffin (via Mike Garafolo):
"Man, that sonofabitch is legit, ain't he?" Umenyiora told USA TODAY Sports.
"He's faster than I thought he was," Pierre-Paul said. "Very fast."
Said defensive tackle Chris Canty, "He's faster in person than he is on tape. There's nothing you can do to simulate it. You try. But he's unbelievably fast and he presents another element to the offense. ... You've got to face him in person to understand what you're dealing with."
And here's just one more, because it's so good...
"He takes away your enthusiasm for the game a little bit when you play a play perfectly and he still has the 4.3 speed to outrun guys and make plays," Tuck said. "I don't think there's anybody in the league like him."
Repeat: "He takes away your enthusiasm for the game." That's Justin Tuck talking, gamers — a man with great enthusiasm.
Griffin passed for 258 yards and two scores against the champs, adding another 89 yards on the ground. The 30-yard pass he completed to Santana Moss for a late go-ahead TD was excellent, but the scrambling play he made to keep the drive alive on fourth-and-10 was better.
The bad news for Washington — well, aside from the fact that the 'Skins lost on Sunday, because they lost control of Victor Cruz — is that Fred Davis suffered an Achilles injury, and it's believed to be a season-ender. With Davis out and Pierre Garcon hobbled, there's a clear opportunity for Moss to return to fantasy relevance. He caught a pair of touchdown passes in Week 7, though he also lost a fumble that effectively ended the game (denying us more RG3 ridiculousness). Chris Cooley is expected to return to the 'Skins, replacing Davis.
• The Pats and Jets delivered an exciting game on Sunday, loaded with mistakes. Rex Ryan's team has really made me hate the AFC. I'm done with that conference. Next season, I'm playing nothing but NFC-only leagues.
As much as I'd like to ignore every Jets game forever, I'm duty-bound to report on injuries. Shonn Greene was walloped by Brandon Spikes in the fourth quarter on Sunday, taking a shot to the helmet, and he remained down for a moment. Eventually Greene plodded off the field, but he was definitely dinged. Joe McKnight took over in New York's backfield, delivering a Greene-like 3.3 yards per carry.
Cam, postgame• After his team's home loss to Dallas in Week 7, Cam Newton was kind of a rambling mess in his presser. That's him pictured on the right, wearing the wookiee-fur sweater. You can listen to his full comments via this link. Here's the mopiest moment:
"The past couple of games have been the same script, by the same director. It's kind of getting boring. It always comes down to the end, when we have our opportunities. ... I sound like a broken record, and I just keep — this taste, this vibe — I'm not buying it, man. And I don't know what it is, but something's gonna have to change. Something's gonna have to change real fast in order for us to make that next step."
So he's just not right. Cam also referred to a reporter as "sweetheart," because if he's gonna dress like your creepy junior high principal then he might as well talk like him, too.
There are no easy answers for the Panthers at the moment, and I have no idea why they gave DeAngelo Williams that huge pile of guaranteed money if they don't intend to use him. DeAngelo carried just twice against Cowboys, gaining four yards. He had only six carries in Week 5. All Carolina backs are off the board next week, as the team travels to Chicago.
EARLY ADDS FOR WEEK 8
QB Sam Bradford, St. Louis (vs. NE)
QB Josh Freeman, Tampa Bay (at Min)
QB Christian Ponder, Minnesota (vs. TB)
QB Carson Palmer, Oakland (at KC)
RB Rashad Jennings, Jacksonville (at GB)
RB LaRod Stephens-Howling, Arizona (vs. SF)
RB Daryl Richardson, St. Louis (vs. NE)
RB Shane Vereen, New England (at STL)
RB Kendall Hunter, San Francisco (at Ari)
WR Santana Moss, Washington (at Pit)
WR Leonard Hankerson, Washington (at Pit)
WR Davone Bess, Miami (at NYJ)
WR Brandon Gibson, St. Louis (vs. NE)
WR Andre Roberts, Arizona (vs. SF)
WR Vincent Brown (IR), San Diego (at Cle)
TE Brandon Myers, Oakland (at KC)