Robert Griffin III pretty much told us this was coming. Earlier in the week, when Griffin spoke about "getting back to being me," you kinda knew he intended to run aggressively, often and without restraint against Chicago. And so he did. Griffin did a little throwing, too.
Washington's second play from scrimmage was a read-option run that RG3 took 23 yards. The team's third play was a 38-yard strike to rookie tight end Jordan Reed. Stuff like that just kept happening all afternoon, without end.
When all the stats were finally in, Griffin had piled up 382 combined yards against the Bears, 84 of them on the ground. He tossed a pair of touchdown passes — one to Reed, one to Aldrick Robinson — and averaged 10.3 yards per attempt. Washington managed to gain 499 total net yards, scoring 45 points.
Of course it helped that Griffin was facing an exceedingly generous Chicago defense — plenty of quarterbacks are going to roast that bunch. Still, RG3 investors have to be thrilled by these recent rushing totals. Griffin carried nine times for 77 yards against Dallas last Sunday, then 11 times for 84 in Week 7. So the rushing safety net is clearly back in place.
Over the next four weeks, Washington will face Denver, San Diego, Minnesota and Philly, teams that currently rank 32nd, 25th, 29th and 31st against the pass. The good times are just beginning, Griffin owners. It's not as if the 'Skins D is doing anything to prevent shootouts — they just allowed 41 points to a Josh McCown-led offense. RG3 has an almost perfect fantasy setup these days.
Reed caught all nine of his targets against the Bears, we should note, gaining 134 yards. The kid has seen six or more targets in four of his five games this season, so there's no reason to think Sunday's stat line is a fluke. He's a solid bet to produce top-10 numbers at his position, rest-of-season. Fred Davis was a healthy scratch this week, so he can't be viewed as a threat.
• In other Washington news, Roy Helu had a monstrous fantasy day (on your bench). Helu rushed for three scores on Sunday, two of them of the inside-the-5 variety. His big day shouldn't have been a huge surprise, since A) he's played nearly as many snaps as Alfred Morris this season (178 to 185), and B) Chicago has been steamrolled by opposing backs in recent weeks. First it was Pierre Thomas, then Brandon Jacobs, and now Helu. (Pretty sure that trio was the nucleus of every Brad Evans fantasy team in 2011.) Morris carried 19 times for 95 yards on Sunday with a few punishing runs included, so it's not as if he was an afterthought. Helu has been a significant component of the Shanahan gameplan all year.
• Entering the week, New England tight ends had combined to rack up just 96 total receiving yards through six games. Rob Gronkowski had 42 in the first quarter on Sunday, ultimately finishing with 114 on a whopping 17 targets. While it's nice to see Gronk's name back in a box score, his return didn't transform Tom Brady back into fantasy beast, not against the Jets. Brady completed just 22 of his 46 pass attempts for 223 yards, and he failed to throw a touchdown pass for the second time in three games. Brutal day, obviously, but there are better ahead as various Pats return to health. (And no, I'm not even gonna offer comment on that OT penalty, except to say it's a weird, weird rule.)
Chris Ivory carried 34 times(!) for New York on Sunday, gaining 104 yards. According to the postgame scoop, Rex Ryan simply felt that Ivory had a "hot hand," while averaging 3.1 yards per carry. Bilal Powell finished with just three carries for six yards. If you own him ... well, you'll have to consider not owning him, soon.
• Cam Newton had an excellent real-life day, but merely an ordinary fantasy performance. He completed 15 of 17 throws for 204 yards and one score, plus he added 26 yards on the ground. And he would have gone 16-for-17, were it not for a Steve Smith drop. Not to shabby, Cam. Mike Tolbert poached another 1-yard rushing score, because that's what he does.
Rams QB Sam Bradford is headed for a Sunday night MRI on his left knee, and a significant injury is feared. So that's awful. Kellen Clemens replaced Bradford on Sunday. Tebow rumors are now percolating, but I refuse to believe 'em.
Not that anyone is starting (or considering) him these days, but you'll note that Tavon Austin had a 60-plus-yard touchdown negated by penalty. And he had an earlier fumble that was, unfortunately, not negated. Rookie back Zac Stacy had a much better day than I'd forecast for him, gaining 87 yards on 21 touches and crossing the goal line once. He had a nice blitz pickup on a long strike from Bradford to Brian Quick, too.
• Don't do anything with the Brandon Gibson game, you guys. Just leave it alone. He remains no better than the fourth most interesting receiving option in a not-very-interesting passing game, behind Mike Wallace, Charles Clay and Hartline. Also: I cannot explain why Miami chose to give 12 carries to Daniel Thomas and just nine to Lamar Miller. I can just tell you that if the FSWA had the authority to penalize coaches, Joe Philbin would be looking at $30K fine.
• Ryan Mathews has taken full advantage of terrific matchups over the past two weeks, topping the 100-yard mark against both Indy and Jacksonville. Mathews managed to break the plane against the Jags, too. You know what to do here, right? Time to update the trade block, friends. Philip Rivers didn't have an uncommonly useful fantasy day against the Jags, because it wasn't really necessary. He did, however, complete 22 of his 26 pass attempts for 285 yards, and he connected with Eddie Royal on a 27-yard score.
• Harry Douglas' single-game career high in receiving yards was 133 entering the week, but he topped that in the first half against Tampa Bay. And I own him nowhere. Jacquizz Rodgers had another huge day for Atlanta, catching eight balls on nine targets, finding the end zone twice. If you benched Matt Ryan this week because you thought he was doomed without Julio and Roddy ... well, I'm right there with you. Sat him in three leagues. Only the true loyalists were rewarded with his 273-yard, three-touchdown day.
In related news, there's really no reason to fear Tampa's defense. They've been torched twice since their bye, once by this man...
• Yup, that's our friend Nick Foles, RED HOT MUST-OWN FIVE-DIAMOND FANTASY ADD OF THE MILLENNIUM.
What a bust. Foles was terrible on Sunday against the Cowboys (2.8 Y/A), and then he was injured. Matt Barkley replaced Foles, and soon tossed three picks. And yeah, I benched Matt Ryan this week to grab a share of the Eagles offense. Just horrid. Michael Vick was one of Week 7's big fantasy winners, without even playing a snap. So much for that controversy. Look to the draft for your future QB, Philly.
Dallas' offense didn't exactly light up the scoreboard on Sunday, but they did enough to beat a lousy team. Tony Romo finished with 317 passing yards, one score and two picks. Terrance Williams made noise again, hauling in five of his seven targets for 71 yards, with a TD included. (Miles Austin, meanwhile, had zero catches on three looks.) Joseph Randle did little of note with his 19 carries, gaining 65 yards. Phillip Tanner vultured the goal line carry, which seemed more than a little cruel.
• AJ Green nearly out-ran Andy Dalton's arm on this early 82-yard TD reception, but he backtracked to make the catch. Green almost looked like he was catching a punt. He was his usual freakish self on Sunday, delivering 155 yards on six receptions. Tyler Eifert added three for 45 and a touchdown.
• I benched Chris Johnson this week. You benched him. Every reasonable, responsible fantasy owner benched him ... so of course he had a day. He gained 110 yards from scrimmage, finding the end zone on this simple screen that became a 66-yard fourth-quarter TD. Sure. Of course.
I'll say this much for Johnson's value going forward: Following Tennessee's upcoming bye, CJ's schedule gets friendly. The Titans have two matchups remaining with the Colts and two with the Jags (including a Week 16 meeting). Those defenses rank at the very bottom of the league against the run. I'm fairly sure Johnson's owner will be a motivated seller this week, despite Sunday's line.
• So I'm not entirely sure how you stop Calvin Johnson, but clearly triple-teaming is not the answer. That was unfair — like a group of 8-year-olds playing backyard football with somebody's 14-year-old brother. Ridiculous. Welcome back, 'Tron.
• Jay Cutler suffered a groin injury on Sunday, and he was clearly in a great deal of pain as he limped off the field. Check the shot of Jay on the cart, grimacing. Not good. Awful situation. No one's expecting the MRI to be clean...
Two Bears sources on Cutler injury: It could be bad. @nflnetwork
— Michael Silver (@MikeSilver) October 20, 2013
If indeed the injury is significant, all of your Bears skill players take a hit, value wise. That should be obvious. The ceiling for the offense is lower. Josh McCown played well in Cutler's absence (204 yards, TD), but he won't be a bankable fantasy asset. Give credit to Marc Trestman's team for putting plenty of points and yards on the board in a disaster scenario on Sunday, but the schedule gets rough after the team's Week 8 bye: at Green Bay, vs. Detroit, vs. Baltimore.
• This week was absolutely loaded with scary injuries, the worst of which was Jermichael Finley's head/neck issue. Finley took a big shot over the middle late in Sunday's win over Cleveland, and he reportedly couldn't move when teammates initially approached him. Details here. Eventually, Finley regained movement and feeling. Let's hope for the best. Assume he'll miss time.
Jarrett Boykin had a fantastic day for Green Bay in Week 7, catching eight balls on 10 targets for 103 yards, with a highlight TD included. Boykin was a mess last week, but he impressed against the Browns. The Pack clearly needs him now, with James Jones, Randall Cobb and Finley all hurting.
• Case Keenum faced a killer defense on Sunday in a brutal road environment, and he was better than anyone could have expected. The kid completed 60 percent of his throws against KC for 271 yards, and he connected with rookie DeAndre Hopkins on a 29-yard score. The Chiefs D sacked him five times and eventually forced a fumble, but that's basically what they do every week. (KC is about to face Brandon Weeden, which is great news for people who enjoy maulings.) All things considered, it wasn't such a bad day for Houston's QB. It was, however, a bad day for Arian Foster. He tweaked a hamstring, forcing him from Sunday's loss. He gets a well-timed bye in Week 8. Stay ready, Ben Tate.
• Mike Glennon maybe isn't the most accurate quarterback you'll ever see, but Vincent Jackson owners don't have anything to complain about. Jackson saw 22 targets on Sunday, which gives him 47 in his three games with Glennon. That'll work. Jackson brought in 10 catches for 138 yards on Sunday. He now has back-to-back 100-yard, two-TD games.
So that's the good news about the Bucs offense. Now here the bad...
Bucs RB Doug Martin had his left shoulder in a sling but said he doesn't think he suffered a shoulder separation. More tests due on Monday
— Ira Kaufman (@IKaufmanTBO) October 20, 2013
Doug Martin in a sling is not what anyone needs to see. And his team plays the Thursday nighter in Week 8. If Martin is sidelined, rookie Mike James figures to dominate the backfield touches against Carolina, in a dicey matchup.
• The Suishams beat the Tuckers on Sunday 19-16, in a game that I'll force myself to watch on Rewind. Please, commenters, no spoilers.
• Awful news for Reggie Wayne and the Colts following an otherwise successful Sunday nighter: The team fears Wayne suffered a torn ACL. Here's hoping the initial diagnosis proves wrong, but we're all dreading the MRI result. Darrius Heyward-Bey would be the obvious pickup, and he's coming off a decent game against Denver (4-44-1), but Indy would presumably hit the trade market. Josh Gordon and Hakeem Nicks are believed to be available, and the Colts have already been active buyers.
PRIORITY PICKUPS FOR WEEK 8
QB Terrelle Pryor, Oak (vs. Pit)
QB Josh Freeman, Min (vs. GB)
RB Roy Helu, Was (at Den)
RB Chris Ivory, NYJ (at Cin)
RB Mike James, TB (vs. Car)
WR Jarrett Boykin, GB (at Min)
WR Harry Douglas, ATL (at Ari)
WR Kris Durham, Det (vs. Dal)
WR Marvin Jones, Cin (vs. NYJ)
WR Darrius Heyward-Bey, Ind (bye)
TE Jordan Reed, Was (at Den)
TE Tyler Eifert, Cin (vs. NYJ)
Byes: Chi, Ten, Ind, SD, Bal, Hou