FANTASY PLAYS: Ajayi, Forte, Rodgers answer RB doubters
Jacquizz Rodgers continued to dominate in Doug Martin's absence, Matt Forte proved his doubters wrong, and Jay Ajayi ran his way into the NFL record books. Fantasy owners have some new names (Russell Shepard) to learn, as well as some old names (Cordarrelle Patterson) to ponder.
And, naturally, some poor performances (DeVante Parker, Blake Bortles) that may have droppable consequences.
But three injuries to running backs may have the biggest impact going forward.
THE INJURY REPORT
The most significant injury in Week 7 was LeSean McCoy's aggravation of his balky hamstring. There was plenty of talk last week about not playing McCoy and letting the injury heal, but he started after some favorable pregame warmups ... and promptly got hurt again. McCoy's situation should become clearer as the week goes by, but it wouldn't be surprising if the Bills sit him out for multiple weeks until he's fully healed.
Tevin Coleman left the game Sunday against the Chargers with a hamstring injury and didn't return. And Jeremy Hill had a chest injury (which popped up a couple weeks ago) that could turn out to be more serious than initially thought as the week goes by. Devonta Freeman and Gio Bernard owners should keep close eyes on their timeshare counterparts.
AJAYI DAZZLES AGAIN
What Ajayi has done in the last two weeks - 207 total yards in Week 6 and 216 total yards in Week 7 - hasn't just been amazing, but also wholly unexpected. The Steelers and Bills run defenses aren't bad, so Ajayi wouldn't have been singled out for great games; in fact, the Bills had only allowed one 100-yard rusher (Matt Forte in Week 2) in the first six weeks.
Much of Ajayi's success can be traced to his offensive line finally reaching full health and strength last week, which has stemmed Ryan Tannehill sack issues (he's been sacked once in the last two games) and allowed Ajayi to find holes and break free. Naturally, a momentum-killing bye is on tap for Week 8, and Ajayi then comes back to games against the Jets and Chargers, who have been fairly effective at stopping the run this season. But does that matter at this point?
MARQISE LEE IS NOW FANTASY RELEVANT
Jacksonville wideout Marqise Lee caught seven of eight targets for a career-high 107 yards on Sunday, improving upon his six-reception, 61-yard game in Week 7. Lee is averaging 6.8 targets over his last five games and is one of the few bright spots on a Jaguars team in fantasy disarray.
The 2012 Biletnikoff award winner, Lee was a 2014 second-round pick of the Jaguars, but has battled injuries for most of his NFL career. His recent performance, though, suggests he has solid rapport with Blake Bortles and is capable of making big plays when healthy. Owned in just two percent of CBSSports.com leagues, Lee should be one of the most-added players in fantasy heading into Week 8.
- Cordarrelle Patterson's stock is rising. On Sunday, he caught all seven of his targets for 67 yards and a touchdown against the Eagles - his second straight week with a touchdown. Non-believers will say the score came in garbage time, but Patterson now has six or more targets in three straight games and gets a Week 8 date with the Bears, who have given up 235 or more yards to the opposition's wide receivers in their last three games. With six teams on bye next week, Patterson should warrant flex consideration in deeper point-per-reception formats.
- Allen Robinson caught just two passes for nine yards - off eight targets - in Sunday's loss to the Raiders. Robinson hasn't gone over 72 receiving yards in any game this season and has seen a decrease in receiving yards in each of the last four weeks. He's in a no man's land of value - Robinson's owners would be selling him too low, and his buyers would be inheriting serious risk. A buy-low trade offer would be worth exploring for an owner sitting at 4-3 or lower.
- Latavius Murray returned from missing two weeks with turf toe to run 18 times for 59 yards and two touchdowns (while catching two passes for four yards). The DeAndre Washington/Jalen Richard rotation seems to be over now, and it looks like Murray may have re-claimed his role as the lead back for the 5-2 Raiders.
- The Ravens, Rams, Dolphins, Giants, Steelers, and 49ers are on bye this week. And there's another game in London, meaning a 9:30 a.m. Eastern start on Sunday.
This column was provided to The Associated Press by the Fantasy Sports Network, http://FNTSY.com
This story has been corrected to show that the Raiders are 5-2 on the season.