Carson Palmer: Andy Lyons/Getty Images
As for the Bears ... we could tackle their Week 7 travails in various ways -- like wondering if Matt Forte (49 total yards) is a one-hit wonder OR if Devin Hester (8 catches, 101 yards, 1 TD) has become a must-start in all scoring formats -- but then we'd never get to the crux of Sunday's mini-rant against WR Earl Bennett (indirectly) and Bears radio analyst Tom Thayer (directly). While driving in to work Sunday afternoon, I caught the Bears-Bengals broadcast on Sirius satellite radio. Just as I was driving down a hilly road, through a neighborhood full of kids buzzing about the street, I was unexpectedly jolted by the sound of the announcers going ga-ga over a Bennett reception late in the first half. It seems Bennett had pulled down a near-circus catch inbounds with seconds to play, eliciting the following comment from Thayer: Earl Bennett is the real deal! Nevermind the Bears were trailing 31-0 ... in Thayer's mind, the best way to deflect attention away from Chicago's 30-minute meltdown was to bring Bennett's special (and yet seemingly ordinary) talents to light. That, my friends, is called showmanship ... and that's exactly why Ochocinco acted like a buffoon in the last few years -- as a means of suppressing Cincy's annual flirtation with 5-11. What other reason could justify such erratic behavior? (By the way, The Real Deal had four catches for 48 yards for Chicago.)
Arizona 24, N.Y. Giants 17
Regarding the Giants, it's natural to be jubilant over Hakeem Nicks' four-catch, 80-yard, 1-TD effort on Sunday -- his four straight game with one touchdown. But in a moment of clarity, it's also important to remember Mario Manningham (4 catches, 47 yards vs. Arizona) and Steve Smith (4 catches, 69 yards) have had their peaks-and-valleys moments this year, as well. So, buyer beware when talking shop with other fantasy owners. The New York tailbacks aren't exactly the essence of bankability, either, but it's encouraging to see Brandon Jacobs (87 total yards, 1 TD) plowing through defenders again. Thankfully, he's still a must-start in standard-scoring leagues ... which cannot be stated about Ahmad Bradshaw (27 total yards) and QB Eli Manning (243 passing yard, 1 TD, 3 INTs).
Dallas 37, Atlanta 21
On the flip side ... the Falcons are an interesting case study right now. Even in defeat, even in games where the offense looks slow and unproductive, Roddy White and Michael Turner somehow find the end zone. This is all music to fantasy owners' ears, especially those who invested Round 1 and/or Round 2 picks on Turner (50 yards, 1 TD vs. Dallas) and White (6 catches, 50 yards, 1 TD) wayyyyy back in August. QB Matt Ryan had an OK performance against the Cowboys, amassing 204 total yards and throwing for two touchdowns; but we still believe he gets intimidated playing against superstar quarterbacks, kind of like the one he'll face next Monday in New Orleans.
San Diego 37, Kansas City 7
Regarding the Chiefs, we can probably wrap this capsule review in 150 words or less: QB Matt Cassel (121 total yards, 1 TD, 3 INTs) must be dumped right away (even with a cake schedule for Weeks 13-16), RB Larry Johnson (56 total yards) is nothing more than a No. 4 or 5 running back in 12-team leagues, WR Dwayne Bowe (2 catches, 11 yards, 1 TD) has wayyyyyyyyy too much talent to post Darrius Heyward-Bey-like numbers ... and tight end Sean Ryan has officially been placed on our "Do Not Draft/Do Not Pick Up/Do Not Even Drive To Missouri To Yell At Him" list after Sunday's infamous goose egg -- coming just six days after Denver tight end Tony Scheffler sliced-and-diced San Diego for 101 yards and one score.
Marques Colston: Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images
Regarding the Dolphins ... in all honesty, there are still only three players worth fawning over: Ronnie Brown (48 total yards, 1 TD) will likely finish as a top-10 running back, QB Chad Henne (211 yards passing, zero TDs) is a decent play in deeper leagues ... and Ricky Williams has officially become a weekly starter in the flex spot, given his recent tear and quality of the Dolphins' run-blocking offensive line! Or do you need more convincing after his 92-yard, 3-TD effort against the Saints? For someone who's already announced his retirement after the 2010 season, Williams attacks the hole with the intensity of a 25-year-old ballcarrier playing for a contract extension, not just a thrilling conclusion to a respectable career. Nevertheless, Williams would fetch a fair price in non-keeper leagues right now (a low-end WR1), for those owners carrying great backs but few top-end receivers.
Pittsburgh 27, Minnesota 17
Switching to Minnesota, it's wonderful to see Brett Favre (334 yards passing) fling the ball 51 times in a non-blowout affair. If a group of sabremetricians were to deduce probablility from Sunday's game -- while factoring in the Vikings' heavy pass-to-run ratio on the season -- they'd tell you, with glee, that Favre has a 90-percent chance at three or more touchdowns with 51 attempts/334 yards ... and not to worry about Week 13 (@ Arizona) and 14 (vs. Cincinnati), the quarterfinal- and semifinal-weeks of the fantasy playoffs. On the flip side, the eggheads would discourage us from earmarking 60 yards receiving for Adrian Peterson (129 total yards, 1 TD) ... or 11 catches and 136 yards from Sidney Rice, even though Sir Sidney is undeniably Favre's go-to target in short- and long-range situations. Of course, you may also get a big I told you so from the group on tight end Visanthe Shiancoe (4 catches, 27 yards). Yikes!
Houston 24, San Francisco 21
As for the Texans, Owen Daniels is certainly making up for lost time. In addition to racking up seven catches for 123 yards Sunday, he also pulled down his fifth touchdown -- three more than all of 2008. His contribution couldn't have come at a better time, considering Andre Johnson (2 catches, 62 yards) left early to injury and that Kevin Walter (3 catches, 29 yards) cannot bust his year-long slump for anything. Speaking of slumps, RB Steve Slaton appears to be on the Road to Wellville -- although 89 total yards and two touchdowns certainly won't vault him back into the top 10, either. At the very least, though, he has returned to being a must-start in deeper leagues, while perhaps garnering a top-5 ranking at Buffalo in Week 8. That leaves us with Johnson and QB Matt Schaub left to discuss: If you can find any justification for not starting 'em every week (injuries aside), congratulations on clinching a wire-to-wire fantasy championship before Daylight Savings Time.
New England 35, Tampa Bay 7
Regarding the Bucs, one of the NFL's three remaining winless teams, QB Josh Johnson actually has sneaky-good potential in deeper leagues right now -- not unlike Tyler Thigpen with Kansas City last year, and not unlike Josh Freeman in 2012. For what it's worth, Johnson (156 yards, 1 TD, 3 INTs) has a top-10 arm ... but a top-100 feel for the game. But that could change in the coming weeks, especially for those playing in leagues where QB turnovers don't matter. Speaking of the future ... how much more time does WR Antonio Bryant (2 catches, 51 yards, 1 TD) really need to fully recover from his summertime knee injury? If Sunday's outburst was just happenstance or luck, he should communicate that very notion through some cryptic response on Twitter ... otherwise, impatient owners (like yours truly) will be lining up to bid for Bryant this week.
Dante Rosario: Gary Halverson/Getty Images
On the flip side ... the Bills may be turning things around in real-world football, but their fantasy prospects remain bleak. Yes, Lee Evans (5 catches, 75 yards, 1 TD) scored for a second straight game; yes, RBs Marshawn Lynch (47 total yards) and Fred Jackson should always be starting considerations (when healthy) ... but there's no point in having Terrell Owens (3 catches, 27 yards) or QBs Trent Edwards and Ryan Fitzpatrick (133 total yards, 1 TD) on your fantasy roster. Their preseason values were wrongfully inflated by the eternal promise of what could be. Think we're overreacting here? Check out WR Targets -- as in the number of times a receiver has the ball thrown his way: For the season, Mohamed Massaquoi, Bryant Johnson, Nate Washington, Mike Sims-Walker, Louis Murphy, Donnie Avery and Mark Clayton are routinely seeing more footballs. T.O.'s fantasy decline has been in the works for some time.
Indianapolis 42, St. Louis 6
As for the Colts, is there anything left to say about Manning (235 passing yards, 3 TDs)? At this point, he apparently has complete confidence in the offensive line and receiving corps; to wit, it just seems like he has all day to pick apart mediocre NFL defenses. Obviously, he's a must-start every week, including next Sunday's home tilt with San Francisco. Do you know who else is start-worthy? Every Colts pass-catcher with two healthy knees (sorry, Anthony Gonzalez) ... beginning with Reggie Wayne (7 catches, 83 yards, 1 TD), Austin Collie (4 catches, 36 yards, 1 TD), Pierre Garcon and tight end Dallas Clark (3 catches, 44 yards, 1 TD). After all, 49ers cornerback Nate Clements can only guard one of 'em at a time.
Green Bay 31, Cleveland 3
Regarding the Packers, Rodgers remains a reliable threat for 300 yards/2.5 touchdowns every week, regardless of how the offensive line gets reshuffled. Grant (151 total yards, 1 TD) has an excellent track record in the latter half of seasons, Driver (2 catches, 84 yards, 1 TD) has emerged as a flex-option must-start in PPR leagues and Mason Crosby will emerge as a top-5 kicker as the year progresses. The only real question mark -- and it's a big one -- concerns Jennings and his middling stats (147 total yards, zero TDs since Week 5). He may be the most talented pass-catcher on Green Bay's roster, along with the team's highest-paid non-quarterback ... but he has officially devolved into a fantasy benchwarmer for the time being.
N.Y. Jets 38, Oakland 0
On the flip side, the poor Raiders USED to serve as fantasyland's best hope for carrying three viable rushers on the same NFL team ... but there are no more positives to glean from the mess in Oakland. Darren McFadden is out indefinitely to injury, Michael Bush (31 total yards) looks like a shell of his late-2008 self, rookie WR Darrius Heyward-Bey has only four total catches (one less than Michael Crabtree's one-day career), JaMarcus Russell (61 yards, zero TDs, 2 INTs) gets shakier by the week and tight end Zach Miller (2 catches, 15 yards) is woefully inconsistent.
Did you notice how I just slipped the Heyward-Bey/Crabtree comparison into the conversation? This is what it's come to, folks: The best way to promote the Raiders in fantasyland ... is to talk about those who aren't Raiders.
Jay Clemons can be found on Twitter, day and night (@SI_JayClemons), accessing your fantasy questions and comments. You can also read his award-winning Revelations every Sunday and Monday during the NFL season.