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FANTASY FOOTBALL: Week 7 studs, duds, sleepers

5:32 AM, Oct 18, 2012   |    comments
Denarius Moore (Photo: US PRESSWIRE)
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Week 7 byes strip fantasy players of assets from the Atlanta Falcons, Denver Broncos, Kansas City Chiefs, Miami Dolphins, Philadelphia Eagles and San Diego Chargers. Does your team carry any problems or solutions listed below?

Studs

QB Eli Manning, New York Giants: Big Blue's field-goal-filled trouncing of the San Francisco 49ers only required 28 Eli tosses. He was held to 193 yards by the stout defense, but will post better numbers against a Washington Redskins secondary that has been betrayed by an injury-crippled pass rush. Hakeem Nicks will be healthier this time, too, giving Manning another weapon.

RB Chris Johnson, Tennessee Titans: CJ ... whatever "K" he's now called tallied 91 yards with his feet Sunday, resembling his old elusive self against the hobbled Pittsburgh Steelers. He'll boast that vintage look against the Buffalo Bills, who've surrendered the second-most fantasy points per game (25.5) to running backs in the last month.

WR Denarius Moore, Oakland Raiders: A Week 5 vacation seems to have refreshed quarterback Carson Palmer. The only end-zone toss for the Silver and Black last week landed with Moore, Palmer's favorite, as part of a five-grab, 104-yard day. The after-the-catch artist has seen no fewer than eight targets a game this year. The Jacksonville Jaguars, still favorites of opposing wideouts, will become his next conquest.

WR Mike Williams, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: The New Orleans Saints rank as a top fantasy opportunity for this position, and they'll probably focus on suppressing Vincent Jackson, giving Williams ample 1-on-1 coverage.

TE Jason Witten, Dallas Cowboys: Tony Romo's security blanket looks better now that he's over his ruptured spleen. Though much of his Week 4 production came with Kyle Orton taking catch-up snaps, Witten has notched 19 receptions, 200 yards and one score over his last two contests. Dez Bryant's mental mistakes might start costing him targets, and the Carolina Panthers, Dallas' Week 7 foes, have been touched up by teams with difference-making tight ends.

Duds

QB Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions: A late rushing score and his opponents' questionable fourth-quarter strategy saved Stafford's Sunday. Don't expect the larcenous Chicago Bears to let up; the slinger's lackluster history against his division rivals includes a 4/6 TD-to-pick ratio, and Chicago's Cover 2 will squash Detroit's downfield potential.

RB Shonn Greene, New York Jets: During his 32-carry, 161-yard, three-score Week 6, Greene made more decisive moves than usual with the pigskin. Much of the credit, however, belongs to the sieve-like Indianapolis Colts defense. The New England Patriots' stalwart front and vulnerability against the pass will limit Greene's contributions, even with another busy day.

RB Frank Gore, San Francisco 49ers: Last week, Alex Smith's arm took control after San Francisco fell behind. Gore's touch volume should normalize, but against the run-stuffing Seattle Seahawks, his performance won't see much improvement unless he has success on the receiving end of things, which is more than possible. Still, his outlook ranks as something below "stud."

WR Jordy Nelson, Green Bay Packers: Anyone coming off a 9-121-3 showing is bound to drop off, but this might be especially violent. Nelson will tangle with St. Louis Rams cornerback Cortland Finnegan, one the biggest pests and best cornerbacks. Even if Greg Jennings (groin) suits up or talented rookie Janoris Jenkins covers Nelson, Green Bay's numerous receiving options remind us they don't have to feed No. 87 in less than ideal circumstances.

WR Steve Smith, Carolina Panthers: This offensive line has struggled to protect Cam Newton, who hasn't thrown for a score in two of his last three contests. Besides a pass-rush meltdown vs. Chicago, Dallas has suffocated wideouts. Even if Morris Claiborne (knee) can't play or is limited, they'll make sure to stifle Smith, who hasn't topped 86 receiving yards in any of his last three outings.

Sleepers

QB Matt Hasselbeck, Tennessee Titans: Though their pass rush has shown more life, the Bills' raw secondary has welcomed all offensive comers. Top wideout Kenny Britt is healthy. Tennessee's poor defense has forced the Titans to throw often; Hasselbeck logged 43 attempts in Week 5 and 44 in Week 6. He'll again have plenty of opportunities to throw.

QB Mark Sanchez, New York Jets: The fantasy backup wasn't needed in last week's run-dominated victory. His clash with the New England Patriots, however, could produce something close to his Week 1 (266 yards, three touchdowns). Tim Tebow, naturally, might see more action, but he's on Bill Belichick's radar. New England has often conquered Sanchez, but the odds of him following in Russell Wilson's footsteps against one of the best foils for QBs look more alluring for bye-strapped squads.

RB Montario Hardesty, Cleveland Browns: If Trent Richardson (ribs) suits up, he'll be limited. Hardesty, who stole a TD from T-Rich last week, has worked his way back after tearing his left knee's ACL in 2010. He relies on volume for value, but he's looked stronger with each passing week. The Colts looked like a practice squad against the Jets' Greene last week, and Hardesty should find plenty of room to rumble.

WR T.Y. Hilton, Indianapolis Colts: The Cleveland Browns looked vulnerable against the pass last week, even though Joe Haden returned at cornerback. Andrew Luck will continue wearing out his arm as long as Indy's run game lacks punch. Hilton has caught at least three passes in each of his last three games and should benefit from Cleveland's weak secondary depth as a flex play, especially in point-per-reception games.

TE Dennis Pitta, Baltimore Ravens: The Houston Texans had no answers for the Green Bay Packers' receiving targets Sunday night and have allowed the most standard scoring points against tight ends in the last month (11.8). Pitta's targets have dwindled, and Joe Flacco doesn't have Aaron Rodgers' mobility or command, but he clicks with Pitta.

By Tim Heaney

USA Today

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