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The Skinny: Moss, McCardell and more

Matt Romig
Yahoo Sports
POSITION HOT SEAT
CHICAGO BEARS (QB) RED HOT
1st Chair: Craig Krenzel
2nd Chair: Jonathan Quinn, Tim Couch?
Skinny: Coach Lovie Smith wasn't ready to make a decision after Sunday's loss, but from the sounds of it the locker room is already adjusting to life under a new QB. "The only thing logical would be starting him (Krenzel)," wide receiver Bobby Shaw told the Chicago Tribune. "Craig brought a little juice to the huddle," tight end Desmond Clark added. Neither quarterback was particularly effective, but given a full week of reps Krenzel could be a decent start against a San Francisco defense that struggles against the pass.
BUFFALO BILLS (RB) RED HOT
1st Chair: Travis Henry
2nd Chair: Willis McGahee
Skinny: Henry had the deck stacked against him Sunday. Behind him on the depth chart lurked McGahee, a former first-round draft choice coming off a strong Week 6 as starter. In front of him: a stifling Baltimore run defense that entered the week leading the AFC in fewest yards allowed per carry. Things went predictably bad. Henry would touch the ball only four times in the second half while gaining 33 total yards from scrimmage. McGahee would struggle too, but he was the guy in the second half and his ascension to the top of the depth chart looks more inevitable than ever. McGahee may well share the backfield with P.J. Losman by season's end.
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS (QB) HOT
1st Chair: Brian Griese
2nd Chair: Chris Simms
Skinny: Only two costly Week 6 fumbles stand between Griese and a 3-0 record as Tampa Bay quarterback. Sunday's numbers (163 yards, 1 TD) were far from spectacular, but Tampa Bay only needed efficiency against a struggling Bears team and that's what they got. Griese targeted rookie Michael Clayton eight times Sunday and the two continued to work magic, connecting six times for 62 yards and a score. The return of Joe Jurevicious (2 rec., 21 yds.) should only make life easier for Griese after next week's bye.
MIAMI DOLPHINS (QB) HOT
1st Chair: Jay Fiedler
2nd Chair: A.J. Feeley
Skinny: Fiedler was booed during pre-game introductions Sunday. This after coaches essentially told him to perform or get benched. The game-time temperature was 82 degrees in Miami, but you'll excuse Fiedler if he wasn't feeling all warm and fuzzy. Considering what he was up against, his 200-yard, 2-TD performance was nothing short of spectacular. With winnable games against Arizona and San Francisco on the horizon, Fiedler has a chance to be a cult hero by December.
MIAMI DOLPHINS (RB) HOT
1st Chair: Sammy Morris
2nd Chair: Travis Minor
Skinny: Seven weeks into the season, Miami finally recorded its first rushing touchdown. It was Morris who scored first to complement his second straight 80-plus yard rushing day. That solid effort should be enough to hold off a challenge from Minor, who rushed for 21 yards and a touchdown in his first action since injuring his ankle in Week 1. The Dolphins broke camp expecting to have Morris and Minor share the load, so an oh-so-popular platoon situation will likely emerge here.
ARIZONA CARDINALS (RB) WARM
1st Chair: Emmitt Smith
2nd Chair: Troy Hambrick
Skinny: Smith put Seattle away with a 23-yard touchdown run late in the fourth quarter. In doing so, he broke Walter Payton's career record for 100-yard games. Not only is he holding off Hambrick, he's tied for 10th among running backs in fantasy points.
DENVER BRONCOS (RB) WARM
1st Chair: Reuben Droughns
2nd Chair: Quentin Griffin
Skinny: Sorry Griffin owners, this won't be the week your guy regains his job. Manny Ramirez has a better shot at a Gold Glove than Cincinnati does at containing Droughns on Monday night. Rueben is averaging 184 yards rushing as a starter and Cincinnati allows roughly 160 yards per game. This could be big.
OAKLAND RAIDERS (RB) WARM
1st Chair: Tyrone Wheatley
2nd Chair: Amos Zereoue
Skinny: Wheatley couldn't go again Sunday, so we'll have to wait at least another week to see who Norv Turner favors when both are healthy. Zereoue had 52 yards at the half Sunday, but was limited to six second-half carries as Oakland played catch-up yet again.
Michael Vick and Matt Hasselbeck were the third- and fifth-most popular quarterbacks selected on draft day in Yahoo! leagues. Sunday, they combined to connect on 21 of 62 passes. Consensus Top 5 pick Clinton Portis has two touchdowns on the season. Sunday, panic pick Emmitt Smith ran for his fifth score. Steve McNair can't stay on the field and Terrell Owens can't stay out of the end zone. No – fantasy football isn't always fair. But it's also rarely dull. With Week 7 in the books, we're halfway to the fantasy playoffs. Here's how it looks from here:

WEEKEND UPDATE: Need-to-know info from the past few days

  • Randy Moss can make a defensive back look silly in any number of ways. Sunday, fantasy owners got a little taste of what it's like to be embarrassed by one of his deceptive moves. The news that Moss would play came shortly before game time, and like a slight shoulder fake toward the sidelines, we bit on it. No sooner than we had returned him to our starting lineups, boom – Moss changed directions and coasted right past us and onto the bench after two plays. He had his consecutive games streak intact. Fantasy owners had a scoring void to fill.

After the game, Vikings coach Mike Tice refuted claims that Moss had re-aggravated his hamstring against Tennessee. He told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune that while he doesn't expect Moss to be 100 percent for three weeks, he does see him playing a significant role in Week 8 against the Giants. Short-term, that means trying times for Moss owners. Tice knows he can't risk losing his most dangerous offensive weapon to further injury, but he also respects that Moss cherishes his consecutive game streak. That could mean a couple more cameo appearances. Marcus Robinson, who scored one TD Sunday and had another called back, and Nate Burleson will continue to benefit until Moss is cleared to go 100 percent.

  • Keenan McCardell didn't take long to make an impact. He didn't start Sunday, but he was Drew Brees' favorite target by day's end. San Diego called McCardell's number a team-high nine times and he responded with five receptions for 65 yards, including catches of 23 and 18 yards that set up the winning touchdown. He was the most effective receiver involved in a trade deadline deal, a trend that should continue as San Diego is in desperate need of a go-to guy after the injury to Reche Caldwell.

Less impactful was the arrival of Antonio Bryant in Cleveland. He did make two catches, but a Jeff Garcia-led offense is no place for a big play receiver. The Browns will continue to move the ball on the ground and through short passes. The guy he was traded for fared better in his debut with Dallas. Quincy Morgan caught four passes for 76 yards, including a 53-yarder. Like Bryant, however, Morgan will find it difficult to get consistent week-to-week touches on a team with three capable wideouts and a go-to tight end.

  • Somewhere lost in Matt Hasselbeck's miserable performance was Jerry Rice's debut in Seattle. Let's address Hasselbeck's woes first. Since Week 13 of last year, he's thrown 11 touchdowns against 14 interceptions. Insiders say he's trying to do too much – a curious habit considering he has one of the NFL's best running backs to hand the ball to. Arizona keyed on the run Sunday, limiting Alexander to 12 carries and challenging Hasselbeck to beat them.

He couldn't get it done – but it's not all his fault. Koren Robinson leads the NFL in drops and is becoming a bigger distraction by the week. Bobby Engram is dinged, which leaves Rice and Darrell Jackson as his only two reliable wideouts. Rice was thrown to seven times Sunday but made only one catch. If Hasselbeck is going to return to form, Rice will need to step up when Robinson's suspension becomes official. Consider benching Hasselbeck in Week 8 against Carolina.

BARGAIN BIN: Top players available in 50 percent of Yahoo! leagues

  • Josh McCown, QB, ARI
    Consider this a watch recommendation. With road tests against formidable pass defenses in Buffalo and Miami on the horizon, McCown is a risky play at best. There is reason for optimism, however. Rookie Larry Fitzgerald has touchdowns in consecutive games. Anquan Boldin will be back soon – perhaps as early as Oct. 31. And don't discount the confidence-building win over Seattle.
  • Sammy Morris, RB, MIA
    Brad Hoover deserves mention here for his Week 7 performance, but it is Morris who carries the most long-term value. For the second consecutive week, he topped 80 rushing yards. Even better – the Miami offense is showing signs of life. His rushing touchdown in Week 7 was Miami's first of the year. Travis Minor will cut into Morris' carries in the coming weeks, but you won't find a better free agent bargain at this position this late in the season.
  • Justin McCareins, WR, NYJ
    McCareins recorded season highs in receptions (6) and yards (83) in Sunday's loss to New England. Fantasy owners expected this to be a typical week, not a breakthrough one, but it was still nice to see signs of life from this popular draft-day sleeper. The Jets threw nine passes his way, four coming during a key fourth-quarter drive with the game on the line.

MARKET MOVERS: Charting player values

Kevin Jones, RB, DET – Jones carried the ball five times for 53 yards in the second half of Sunday's win. Artose Pinner got most of the fourth quarter carries, touches Jones will inherit once his injured left ankle is 100 percent.

Dorsey Levens, RB, PHI – Rushed for 48 yards after halftime, including 32 in overtime, after Brian Westbrook left with a chest contusion.

Ben Troupe, TE, TEN – Pressed into starting duty by injuries to Shad Meier and Erron Kinney, the rookie responded with six catches for 57 yards. A fumble deep in Minnesota territory was costly, however.

Michael Pittman, RB, TB – Mike Alstott's injury looks serious, which means the NFL's all-time leader in meaningless fantasy yardage may get some significant red zone touches. Pittman (23 carries, 109 yards) broke a string of 21-straight games without a rushing touchdown Sunday.

Nate Burleson, WR, MIN – Burleson was thrown to a team-high nine times Sunday (6 rec., 53 yds.) and actually won the red zone look battle with Marcus Robinson, 3-1.

Fred Taylor, RB, JAC – Big yardage day, but was limited to seven yards and no touchdowns on five red-zone carries.

Jeff Garcia, QB, CLE – If it looks like the end zone and smells like the end zone, that's probably where you'll find Garcia, who lowered his shoulder to send the game to overtime Sunday, his sixth touchdown in two weeks.

Derrick Blaylock, RB, KC – Four touchdowns was a fluke and the ankle injury to Priest isn't serious, but Blaylock (19 carries, 90 yards) proved himself a capable backup in Sunday's laugher.

Chris Chambers, WR, MIA – Chambers was the beneficiary of a trick play and a fourth-quarter gamble (3 rec., 128 yds, TD) as the normally conservative Dave Wannstedt had a little fun with the Miami playbook.

Neil Rackers, K, ARI – It's not often that a kicker is a fantasy difference-maker, but with field goals of 55, 55 and 50 yards Sunday, Rackers was just that.

Randy Hymes, WR, BAL – The return of Travis Taylor means fewer looks for Hymes, who was targeted only three times Sunday while recording a season-low one reception.

Michael Bennett, RB, MIN – Five-to-seven carries turned into one carry for zero yards when rookie Mewelde Moore (20 carries, 138 yards) once again proved he belongs on the field.

Michael Vick, QB, ATL – Was that Michael Vick throwing passes or Antoine Walker hoisting ill-advised jumpers? Seven-for-21? Warning: the Michael Vick Experience may induce nausea.

David Terrell, WR, CHI – Yahoo! Sports NFL analyst Charles Robinson reported Saturday that Terrell is upset with the play of quarterback Jonathan Quinn. Well, he got his wish Sunday when Quinn was pulled, but the move didn't spark Terrell, who was thrown to only four times and didn't make a catch.

Amani Toomer, WR, NYG – Toomer has now played six games without scoring a touchdown and has just three scores in his last 19 games. Quarterback Kurt Warner continues to spread the ball around, targeting no wide receiver more than six times Sunday.

Chad Pennington, QB, NYJ – Despite averaging 34 pass attempts in his last three games, Pennington has just one touchdown since Week 2. Doesn't get any easier with Miami, Buffalo and Baltimore ahead on the schedule.

Musa Smith, RB, BAL – B.J. Sams took over for Chester Taylor twice with Baltimore deep in the red zone, scoring once. Smith doesn't look like a factor with or without Jamal Lewis in the lineup.

Jake Delhommme, QB, CAR – How bad would the numbers be without Keary Colbert around?

STAT OF THE WEEK: Eyebrow-raising numbers
44 Number of tight ends who have scored touchdowns through Week 7. My colleague Mike Harmon uncovered this nugget last week. Tight end points have always been like found money in fantasy football – it's just getting increasingly difficult to know where to look.