Week 7 in NFL offers up avalanche of changes, trades

What a wild week.

After a relatively mundane first six weeks of the NFL season in terms of trades and quarterback changes, an avalanche of change altered the landscapes of the league over the past week.

The pebble that started the landslide of moves came in the form of — who else? — Tim Tebow, the much-hyped, much-criticized and even more unproven Denver Broncos quarterback. Broncos head coach John Fox made the decision to bench incumbent starter Kyle Orton and insert Tebow as the starter for Week Seven during Denver’s bye week, two days after Tebow replaced Orton in the second half against San Diego.

Then, in the past few days, even more dramatic events have shaken up the picture:

Broncos wide receiver Brandon Lloyd, a Pro-Bowler just last season, was dealt to St. Louis for a sixth-round pick (yes, you read that correctly).

Jason Campbell broke his collarbone in Oakland’s 24-17 victory against Cleveland, prompting the Raiders to trade two first-round picks for Carson Palmer, who was holding out in Cincinnati. That’s right. Two first-rounders for a quarterback who the Bengals felt comfortable starting rookie Andy Dalton over. A quarterback who threw 20 interceptions last season and hasn’t posted a season quarterback rating over 90 since 2006. I continue to think the Raiders are run by the “monkeys from the careerbuilder.com commercials”:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YR71GnQ4CU4.

Donovan McNabb was finally benched during Minnesota’s blowout loss to Chicago on Sunday night. Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier reportedly told rookie Christian Ponder he would receive the start Sunday against Green Bay, while McNabb will watch from the sidelines.

Rex Grossman reminded everyone of the good old days, throwing four interceptions and getting benched in favor of John Beck against Philadelphia on Sunday. Bears fans, who for years pulled their hair out every time Sexy Rexy dropped back to pass, can sympathize. Redskins coach Mike Shanahan has yet to announce who will start this weekend.

Let’s move to the ever more important question: What are the implications for fantasy football?

Most of the cooler talk will likely be centered on Tebow. The Broncos new starter is a hot button for the media due to his persona and impressive college career. His impact in fantasy will be significantly less. With Tebow running the offense, the Broncos will likely stick to the ground game. Willis McGahee’s value receives a slight bump, and all the Broncos receivers should be downgraded.

Tebow is not a quality fantasy option at quarterback. His passing ability and numbers will be limited by Fox’s system, and while he will pick up some points with his legs, it won’t be enough to make him valuable enough to own.

Ponder stepping in as Minnesota’s quarterback and Beck replacing Grossman in Washington will not have significant effects on either team’s offense. Both teams may focus more on the ground game, but not enough to take into account in fantasy.

The Raiders will likely employ a similar approach with Palmer, especially in the next few weeks. Darren McFadden may face more eight or nine-man fronts, but that was already the case with Jason Campbell at quarterback.

The big move, though, is Lloyd. After a career year last season, the former Illini crashed back to earth in the first five games of 2011, averaging just fewer than five catches and 57 yards per game and zero touchdowns. Whether the coaching change in the offseason or the Tebowmania surrounding the team, getting out of Denver is good news for Lloyd. The Rams desperately need a No. 1 receiver and Lloyd fits that bill, as he will help stretch the field for Sam Bradford. With Bradford questionable for the Rams contest at Dallas, Lloyd might have not break out for a couple weeks. But Bradford’s ankle will be getting healthy right around the time when St. Louis’ schedule gets much easier down the stretch, and Lloyd could have a huge impact on his actual team and fantasy teams during the last half of the year.


*Josh Freeman, QB, Buccaneers:* Freeman and the Bucs offense finally heated up last week in a win over New Orleans, as Freeman threw for 300 yards for the first time this season. Expect the good times to continue against a leaky Bears defense this week.

*Ryan Torain, RB, Redskins:* Picking a Redskins running back to perform well is a bit like playing Russian roulette. But with a soft matchup against the Panthers and a new starting quarterback in Beck, it’s hard to imagine Washington not pounding the ball Sunday.

*Eric Decker, WR, Broncos:* Decker didn’t do much to impress fantasy owners with his two catches for negative four yards last week, but with Brandon Lloyd out of the picture, Decker is the top target for Tebow in Denver.

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*Matt Ryan, QB, Falcons:* For a passing game that was supposed to be more explosive with Roddy White and Julio Jones, the Falcons have been relatively tame. In the ear-splitting, false start-inducing Ford Field, don’t expect those problems to fix themselves.

*DeAngelo Williams, RB, Panthers:* Williams is one of the most frustrating backs in fantasy right now. Carolina gave him a lucrative, No. 1-back, long-term contract in the offseason, only to continue to split carries about 60:40 with Jonathan Stewart through the first seven games of the season. Stewart also gets most of the carries around the goal line, cutting into Williams’ production. And to further devalue DeAngelo, the Panthers have eschewed their running ways in favor of the pass this season, with Cam Newton helming the attack. If you’re starting either Panthers running back, Stewart is the safer choice at this point.

*Pierre Garcon, WR, Colts:* Garcon is a classic hit-or-miss fantasy player. His four touchdowns this season have all come on long passes, so counting on him in your starting lineup is risky.

_Daniel is a junior in Media. Contact him for fantasy/relationship advice at [email protected]com. Follow him on Twitter @danielmillermc._