First, the bad news:
DeSean Jackson suffered a concussion in the second quarter of Sunday's victory over Atlanta, after taking a vicious helmet-to-helmet hit from Falcons cornerback Dunta Robinson (Robinson also suffered a head injury on the play).
Reportedly, Jackson suffered some memory loss. His concussion's already been labeled "severe". This was Jackson's second head injury in less than 11 months --- he sat out Week 13 last season after suffering a concussion the week before -- and if the NFL has their way -- and they will, for good reasons -- Jackson will be out several weeks, at the minimum. It's entirely possible we won't see him again until December, if at all.
The good news?
Second-year wideout Jeremy Maclin went bonkers in Jackson's absence, hauling in seven balls for 159 yards and two scores (including a D-Jax-like 83-yard TD catch).
One-game wonder? Hardly. Remember, this is a guy who made seven grabs for 146 yards and a TD in his first NFL game (55/762/4 as a rookie last season), and who had scored four times in five games before Sunday's contest. He'd also been targeted 29 times entering Week 6. Of course, Maclin is owned in about nine out of every 10 leagues, so there's little-to-no-chance you'll be able to grab him via free agency. Bummer.
Jason Avant, on the other hand, can still be had. He's more a possession-receiver than a burner a la Jackson or Maclin, but unlike those two, he's available in 98% of Fleaflicker leagues. He also had five receptions for 62 yards on Sunday, and had one of his better games as a pro with Kolb behind center last season, catching seven balls for 79 yards and a score in Week 2.
With Kevin Kolb expected to start in Week 7, Avant makes for a solid WR3 (the Eagles' opponent next week, the Titans, are giving up 37.5 points per week to wide receivers in PPR formats). Just don't break the bank for him. The Eagles have a bye in Week 8, Jackson's return is still in limbo, and nobody knows for sure how the Michael Vick/Kevin Kolb situation will sort itself out.
Now, if you're in a six-team league and Maclin is available, feel free to part with all your cash to acquire him.
Other Reality Checks
Danny Woodhead (16 touches, 115 total yards) and Deion Branch (nine receptions, 98 rec. yards, TD) were the stars in New England's overtime win over Baltimore. I'm sure next week, Brandon Tate (bagel) and Sammy Morris (one carry, three yards) will be the headliners. As the Boston Herald's Ian Rapoport points out, with Randy Moss gone, "Tom Brady now has the opportunity to spread the ball around to the receiver who used to be his favorite: the open one." In other words, while Woodhead and Branch make solid adds for depth, you haven't all of a sudden stumbled upon the mother lode. In fact, you might even want to explore what Branch can bring back in a trade. Trust me, his value may never be any higher than it is right now. Oh yeah, and never trust the man to your right.
Last men standing
Patrick Crayton (6/117) and Buster Davis (3/39/1) filled in admirably with Antonio Gates (ankle), Malcom Floyd (hamstring), and Legedu Naanee (hamstring) hobbled in Week 7. The question now is, which guy's worth the add? Surprisingly, Davis saw one more target more than Crayton in Week 6, but the majority of his looks came in the fourth quarter after the Floyd/Gates injuries. Crayton, meanwhile, started the game in place of Naanee and did more with less, leading me to believe he's the next guy in the pecking order. That doesn't, however, mean he's your first grab. No, that designation would belong to the 37%-owned Naanee, who if healthy a week from now, would see a significant bump in looks with Gates looking like a no-go in Week 7. Crayton, too, would see more burn as the Chargers No. 3 if Gates is out, so he's your grab if Naanee is taken. Buster Davis remains only a deep league spec play. He'd need a perfect storm -- like Week 6 with Naanee, Gates, and Floyd out -- to sniff relevance in 12-teamers. And yes, I probably just spent way too many words stating the obvious.
McGahee a Raven, nevermore?
Ray Rice 36, Willis McGahee 0. That's the number of touches each saw in Week 6, which makes me less dubious about McGahee's role on the Ravens going forward and more curious about where he's headed. I think it's safe to assume that wherever he lands, he'll have more value than he has today. There might even be a couple places (think "Bays") where McGahee would become a lead back. If you've got bench room to spare, make the preemptive strike.
Ryan Torain, I don't sweat you.
Everybody's giddy over Ryan Torain's 100 yards and two scores against Indy. Not me. Granted, I was way off in my Week 6 running back rankings (I had him 28th), but I'm still not impressed. For starters, the Colts are horrible against the run (only four teams give up more fantasy points to running backs, only five give up more yards on the ground). Second, if not for two Colts turnovers in the third quarter, Torain probably doesn't touch the ball more than a handful of times in the second half (and he almost certainly doesn't score for the second time if Peyton Manning doesn't fumble inside his own 15). You know a team's bad when let Keiland Williams reach paydirt (sorry, Keiland). Torain averaged just 3.2 yards per carry against Green Bay and Philadelphia, two teams ranked in the bottom half of the league in run defense, and the Broncos still have to face Chicago (third against the run), Tennessee (10th), Minnesota (11th), the Giants twice (seventh), Cowboys (ninth), and Jaguars (12th). He isn't exactly a model of health, either. Pawn him off to the highest bidder. You won't be sorry.
This just in: Calvin Johnson's a stud
Just a reminder that no matter the QB or the injury, as long as Calvin Johnson has his uniform and helmet on, he's an automatic start. Think about it -- he's currently on pace for a 77-catch, 1,165-yard, 13-TD campaign (would be more if not for a silly NFL rule) with Shaun freakin' Hill as his primary quarterback. Read that once more for clarity. If Hill, Daunte Culpepper, Dan Orlovsky, Jon Kitna, Drew Stanton, and J.T. O'Sullivan couldn't get in Johnson's way to greatness, just imagine what he can do with a talent like Matthew Stafford tossing him the orb (he'll be back in Week 8)?
Sam Bradford shows signs of improvement?
Only if you consider a 6.4 YPA and 58% completion rate an improvement (to be fair, the Chargers were a top-five pass defense entering Sunday's tilt. Then again, they're now ranked first after facing Bradford). Prior to Week 7, Bradford had averaged 5.7 YPA to go along with a 57% completion rate. And that was against the dregs of the league (Detroit, Seattle, Washington, and Arizona are all ranked in the bottom half of the NFL against the pass). "Poise" and real-life wins matter not; Bradford's performance simply doesn't merit a roster spot. Twenty-three other QBs are averaging more points per week than the 39%-owned Bradford, including guys like Josh Freeman, David Garrard, and Ryan Fitzpatrick, all of whom are owned in far fewer leagues.
Cooley not cool
If you hit the sack early on Sunday night, you missed Washington tight end Chris Cooley leaving the game with a concussion. Apparently, he sustained a head injury earlier in the game and returned to the field before heading back to the locker room for good in the fourth quarter .. minus vision in his left eye. Correct me if I'm wrong, but that doesn't sound good. Considering this is at least the fourth concussion of Cooley's career (dating back to college), he could be out for quite a while. In other words, run to the wire and put in that claim for Fred Davis. He's a beast.
Would you be interested in Jay Cutler?
That's the question you should be asking the QB-starved owner in your league right about now. I mentioned a couple weeks ago that you should sell Cutler the first chance you get, and well, that chance is now. Cutler wasn't brilliant on Sunday (17-for-39, 290 yards, two TDs), but he did make it through the game in one piece -- a small miracle when you consider he was sacked six times while getting hit on nine other occasions, all after missing a week with a concussion. Keep that on the hush in your negotiations, and don't bring up that he's thrown just six TDs in five games or that he's fumbled five times, either. Keep your
"So, you can start a rock at QB against Houston and be good to go" -- @chetrazzball on Twitter following Matt Cassel/Dwayne Bowe's huge day.
Yup, that pretty much sums things up. Giddy up Blair White and Brody Eldridge!
Each Monday of the fantasy football season, we'll cut through the fantasy numbers put up by individuals and tell you what they really mean.