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Real and Spectacular

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Sometimes we see what we want to see. We see the Colts passing game revive for one week and think they are juggernauts again. We see Derek Anderson dropping bombs to Braylon Edwards on Monday Night Football and think the Browns season has started anew. We see the Chargers light it up against the Patriots and assume they are ready to make their run. We are all wrong.

    After seven Sundays, we know a lot more about this season. The Colts and Bolts are inconsistent. The Browns wish they were. LaDainian Tomlinson is an average running back haunted by the ghosts of Priest Holmes and Shaun Alexander. The quicker owners adjust to the new realities of 2008, rather than what they'd like to see, the better they will do. Let's see what else we know after Week 7.

    They're real and they're spectacular

    1. I wrote that it might be a good time to sell Philip Rivers a few weeks ago, but he's played two straight excellent games and is ranked in the top-five of fantasy quarterbacks. He is still a low volume thrower (69 fewer passes than Drew Brees), but his sky-high yards-per-attempt average is keeping him steady. With LT2 a shell of his former self, the Chargers have evolved into a passing team.

    2. After a slow start, Greg Olsen has developed into the fantasy tight end we were expecting. On a team bereft of wideout talent, Olsen is filling the gap as Kyle Orton's most consistent target. Few tight ends can combine his red zone skills and vertical speed.

    3. Don't come back anytime soon, Willie Parker! Mewelde Moore is enjoying his well-earned time in the spotlight and will continue to be an excellent every-week play until Parker is up. I wrote up top about trends that have continued all year. One of the strongest ones: the Bengals terrible rush defense. Steve Slaton and Ahman Green get a crack at it this week.

    4. Donnie Avery was a pick mocked by the Mock drafters, including myself. Whoops. His speed is a genuine problem for defenses. If not for a penalty and a poor throw by Marc Bulger, Avery would have scored three times against Dallas.

    Stepping Off the Ledge

    1. There was some complaining by Adrian Peterson owners after last week, but who else would you rather own at running back in standard leagues? Another rock solid game puts him on pace for nearly 1,600 rushing yards. He may not catch the ball much, but he's staying healthy and should catch Clinton Portis in the rushing yardage race.

    2. T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Chad Johnson owners aren't going to recoup great draft value. But PPR owners can't be totally disappointed by the eight-catch, fiftysomething yard efforts of the Ryan Fitzpatrick era. Johnson tied for the day lead in targets Sunday. The Bengals wideouts are still . useful. I had my doubts Fitzpatrick would get them that far.

    3. Willis McGahee performed like a real live NFL starting running back, racking up 150 total yards against a Dolphins defense that is suddenly thin in the middle. I've been expecting this game from McGahee for a few weeks, but he didn't come out of the game fully healthy. Don't be surprised if he goes back to the McGahee of the first six weeks shortly.

    4. Remember when people were complaining that Brandon Jacobs had stopped scoring? He now has six touchdowns in his last four games to go along with his 5.7 yards-per-carry average. He can be boom-or-bust in PPR leagues, but the Train is as steady as any running back in standard formats.

    5. Steven Jackson may live up to his draft slot after all. All he needs is some competence from his teammates to give him scoring chances and he'll finish as a top-five running back. He appears to have worked himself into shape after missing so much of training camp. Now all he needs is that MRI to go well.

    Danger Zone

    Enjoy this Clinton Portis season because it shows no signs of slowing down. Keeper league owners may not like the year-after effects, though, if Portis keeps up his 373-carry pace.

    Don't Panic

    1. Marshawn Lynch doesn't appear to have the same burst and leg drive as last season. He appears to have gained a few more pounds, though. Still, his 3.5 yards-per-carry average isn't a huge concern because the schedule gets far easier moving forward. He's scoring more often (five times) and catching more passes. His 19 receptions is one more than he had all of last season.

    2. Marques Colston didn't catch any of his four targets in his first week back. In fact, he dropped two passes. In the long run, he's still the most talented receiver on the most pass happy offense in the league. I'm more concerned with Jeremy Shockey, who produced 50 yards Sunday but doesn't seem fully healthy.

    3. The Wildcat formation didn't work Sunday against the Ravens, but the rest of the Miami offense didn't work either. Ronnie Brown and company isn't ready to perform against the Ravens, but few are. Brown will produce most games.

    Some Panic is Acceptable

    1. The Reggie Bush run was fun while it lasted. Missing a month would give him plenty of time to play a few games before the fantasy playoffs start. Deuce McAllister has looked surprisingly competent in his place and will be a useful RB2/flex in the meantime. Pierre Thomas is worth owning again in deeper leagues.

    2. Jason Campbell has taken a huge step forward as an NFL quarterback, but maybe he's not ready to graduate past being a backup in fantasy leagues. He's put up pedestrian totals in back-to-back home games against the Browns and Rams. Part of the problem is the game plan. This is a very conservative offense. Campbell can play quite well and not light up in the box score. He's the anti-Frerotte.

    3. Tyler Thigpen is back in Kansas City, and that can't bode well for Dwayne Bowe and Tony Gonzalez. They put up some garbage time numbers against the Titans, but Thigpen will hurt the Chiefs long-term.

    4. After four fumbles and two interceptions Sunday, J.T. O'Sullivan's job security is in question. Owners can also safely give up on Bryant Johnson, who looks likely to be planted on the bench behind impressive rookie Josh Morgan.

    5. If Terrell Owens and Roy Williams couldn't produce against the Rams with Brad Johnson at quarterback, they certainly won't against the Bucs and Giants. Look for Tony Romo's finger to start magically healing. T.O. has only three more catches than Patrick Crayton on the season and two less than Greg Camarillo.

    For a look at running back committes and much more, head over to the rest of The Morning After on Rotoworld.