The United States government brought a close to its shutdown this week and the Washington Redskins ended their own unproductive stretch in the nation’s capital when they outlasted the Chicago Bears in what was a fantasy-point bonanza. Washington QB Robert Griffin III, who began to show his rookie form last week, put together the kind of performance that became the norm last season with 298 yards passing, 84 yards rushing and two scores. Griffin may not be all the way back until next year, but he will continue to be an every-week start in all leagues.
Bears RB Matt Forte (109 total yards and career-high three rushing touchdowns) had four carries for nine yards and a TD at halftime, but continued his push to the top of the fantasy football mountain at his position. With Chicago playing the last two-plus quarters without QB Jay Cutler (groin), Forte almost singlehandedly carried the offense – becoming the first Bear since Rashaan Salaam in 1995 to run for three touchdowns in the same game.
Redskins rookie TE Jordan Reed (nine receptions, 134 yards and a score), who was already beginning to emerge as a low-end TE1 option in PPR leagues as a player with the ability to create mismatches in the same way Aaron Hernandez did in New England, has likely ascended into an every-week fantasy starter – regardless of format. Washington RB Roy Helu Jr. (48 total yards and three rushing TDs) overshadowed starter Alfred Morris (95 rushing yards) and may have forced his way into more playing time as a result.
Other Week 7 fantasy highlights:
— The story of the week was supposed to be how TE Rob Gronkowski‘s return was going to spark the New England Patriots’ offense and, more specifically, QB Tom Brady‘s return to fantasy prominence. Gronkowski (eight catches, 114 yards) came on with some big plays late and rewarded his owners after a six-week layoff, but Brady (228 yards and an interception) was held without a touchdown for the second time in three games in a loss to the New York Jets
— The Atlanta Falcons might have been without their top two receivers, but that didn’t keep two other wideouts from putting up Roddy White and Julio Jones-like numbers in the Georgia Dome. Tampa Bay Buccaneers WR Vincent Jackson (10 catches, 138 yards and two touchdowns) scored two times for the second straight week while Falcons WR Harry Douglas burned the Bucs for seven receptions, 149 yards and a touchdown. While the effort doesn’t mean Douglas is an every-week starter, owners can feel better about using him going forward.
— It may be time to start giving Cincinnati Bengals QB Andy Dalton (372 yards and three touchdowns) a little bit of credit after his second straight 300-yard, three-TD performance. In addition to going toe-to-toe with Detroit Lions QB Matthew Stafford (357 yards and three scores) in fantasy box scores, Dalton helped silence his critics with an 82-yard scoring strike to WR A.J. Green (six catches, 155 yards and a score). Lions WR Calvin Johnson announced his return to fantasy prominence as well after dealing with a recent knee injury, grabbing nine balls for 155 yards and two touchdowns.
— Two running backs who may have become fantasy afterthoughts – the San Diego Chargers’ Ryan Mathews (110 rushing yards and a touchdown) and the Jets’ Chris Ivory (104 rushing yards) took advantage of soft matchups in wins over the Jacksonville Jaguars and Patriots, respectively. Both backs are long on talent and short on durability, giving their owners a nice week-long window with which to trade the injury-prone players for upgrades at other positions.
— In addition to Cutler, owners will need to keep an eye out for a handful of prominent injured fantasy players over the next week. Bucs RB Doug Martin was forced from the game after suffering a shoulder injury, Philadelphia Eagles QB Nick Foles left with a concussion and St. Louis Rams QB Sam Bradford did not return after a left leg injury. While Rams backup QB Kellen Clemens can be left on waivers, owners may need to consider Bucs RB Mike James or Eagles rookie QB Matt Barkley (assuming Michael Vick is still sidelined by his hamstring next week).