Commentary

Instant Impressions: Week 7

Updated: October 24, 2011, 12:46 PM ET
By Christopher Harris | ESPN.com

• The running back carnage came fast and furious in Week 7. The biggest name for fantasy who'll find himself on injury reports during the next couple of weeks is Darren McFadden. In the Raiders' embarrassing loss to the Chiefs, Run-DMC touched the ball three times for 7 yards and then left with what beat reporters have termed a "sprained foot." Given how many foot and ankle problems McFadden has already dealt with during his four NFL seasons -- and given the fact he's never made it through more than 13 games in a season -- this was not good news. Michael Bush was already just about the most valuable handcuff RB in fantasy, and he showed why on Sunday: 17 carries for 99 yards. As of this writing, Bush is available in more than 15 percent of ESPN.com leagues. However, the Raiders have a bye in Week 8, so Run-DMC will have some time to recuperate.

Beanie Wells left Sunday's game with a knee injury and didn't return. He had 12 carries for 42 yards and didn't appear to hurt himself with the ball in his hands. Instead, he was attempting to block on a Kevin Kolb pass, and basically got bowled over by a Steelers linebacker. As of this writing, the Cardinals haven't released any information about this injury, other than to say he'll have tests early this week. The injury is to the same troublesome right knee that bothered Wells throughout the 2010 season (and on which he had surgery last summer). Given Beanie's injury history, it's fair to speculate he might not play in Week 8. Alfonso Smith would probably be the starter in such a case.

Tim Hightower
James Lang/US PresswireTim Hightower ran the ball effectively before leaving with a knee injury.

• Mike Shanahan was once again in the process of messing with fantasy owners when Tim Hightower appeared to suffer a serious knee injury. Presumptive starter Ryan Torain was almost entirely absent from the game plan at that point: Torain had one carry for 2 yards while Hightower had 17 totes for 88 yards, when Hightower tried to plant and dig right on an early-third-quarter run, then simply fell to the turf. The Redskins have scheduled an MRI for Monday morning, but Washington-area beat reporters are expecting the worst, including a possible torn ACL. If that winds up being true, one assumes that Torain takes over as the starter (again) with Roy Helu sprinkled in. But don't put anything past Shanny.

Mark Ingram left the Saints' utter dismantling of the Colts on Sunday night because of an injured heel, and didn't return. X-rays indicated that there were no fractures in Ingram's foot, so the presumption as of now is that it's a bad bruise. In Ingram's absence, both Darren Sproles (107 yards from scrimmage, two TDs) and Pierre Thomas (125 yards from scrimmage) had big nights. The good news is this doesn't appear to be related to the knee troubles Ingram had during his final year at Alabama. The bad news is we don't know if he's expected to miss any time. Thomas should be added by Ingram owners.

• Like Hightower, Earnest Graham suffered a non-contact injury and crumpled to the ground. Graham appeared to cut on the Wembley Stadium turf (the Buccaneers' game against the Bears was in London) and simply fell down; while initial reports indicated an ankle injury, there's been speculation Monday morning that Graham suffered a torn Achilles. If that proves a correct diagnosis, obviously Graham would be out for the season, and the Bucs would be desperate for LeGarrette Blount to return from his knee injury after their Week 8 bye.

Willis McGahee played well against the Dolphins, but left the game early in the third quarter with a fractured hand and didn't return. Details of the injury are sketchy as of this writing, but McGahee will see a hand specialist Monday. It wouldn't be unprecedented for a running back to play with a cast for protection, but it almost certainly depends on the nature of the break. After McGahee left, Knowshon Moreno had five carries for 7 yards, and Lance Ball had six carries for 14 yards. Obviously if that's any indication, we'd be looking at a split job if McGahee misses time.

Joseph Addai made it through two series Sunday night against the Saints before feeling a grab in his injured hamstring and leaving the game. Addai accounted for four touches and 19 yards before the re-injury, and at the moment it's unclear whether the Colts were merely playing it safe with him, or if the injury is going to linger for more games. Delone Carter finally outplayed Donald Brown in Addai's absence, looking strong on his feet and quick around the edge on a couple of decent (if garbage-time) runs. He'd be the man to start if Addai misses next week versus the Titans.

[+] EnlargeMarshawn Lynch
AP Photo/Amy SancettaMarshawn Lynch's back issues kept him from continuing his recent success on Sunday.

Marshawn Lynch wasn't able to play at all in the Seahawks' scintillating 6-3 loss in Cleveland on Sunday, as he injured his back during pregame warm-ups and couldn't go. Pete Carroll told reporters that Lynch has been dealing with a back issue for weeks, but that he unexpectedly felt severe spasms trying to get loose. Fantasy teams shouldn't have been relying on Lynch anyway, but the guy did post 11 and 16 fantasy points in Seattle's two games before its Week 6 bye.

• A couple of significant non-RBs also got injured Sunday. Matthew Stafford had his knee bent awkwardly as the Lions were attempting a late-game comeback against the Falcons, and limped off the field. Various on-air reporters speculated about the severity of the injury and announced Stafford would have an MRI on Monday, but Lions beat reporters haven't seemed to think it's a major deal. Santana Moss broke his left hand and reportedly will miss three to four weeks. Jabar Gaffney was obviously John Beck's top WR target after Moss' injury, so he could be worth a look, but Fred Davis is the best receiving weapon the Redskins have. And Percy Harvin seemed to re-injure his ribs during Sunday afternoon's game, and didn't return after the third quarter. Christian Ponder produced some late-game heroics for the Vikings, but Harvin didn't benefit.

• And now for the non-injury portion of our show: I pumped up DeMarco Murray relentlessly last week, mentioning him on "SportsCenter" twice, "Numbers Never Lie," "NFL Live" and writing about him at length in my waiver column and last week's Hard Count. But A) I hyped him more for his receiving ability than his rushing prowess; and B) I didn't exactly expect 25 carries for 253 yards and a long TD. Murray is owned in only one-third of ESPN.com leagues, and obviously will be a hot waiver add this week, as Felix Jones probably won't be ready to return from his high ankle sprain. But a note of caution: Murray has been an injury waiting to happen for years, and I have concern that he'll never hold up to 25 touches from scrimmage per game. I'm not saying don't add him, I'm just saying don't alter plans for your fantasy team based on this one game.

• The Raiders tried to play it safe with big-ticket acquisition Carson Palmer, but Kyle Boller was so execrable as their starter, they had no choice but to give Palmer the reins starting the second half against the Chiefs. Alas, the team's instinct to protect Palmer from himself proved quite accurate. The ex-Bengals hurler was just awful, connecting on just 8-of-21 passes for 116 yards, zero TDs and three INTs, one of which was returned for a touchdown. As I mentioned earlier, the Raiders are off during Week 8, and the party line will be that Palmer can learn the offense at a slower pace and be ready to go for Week 9 against the Broncos. But I saw the same shaky arm strength from Palmer that I witnessed the past couple of years in Cincy. My sights are set low.

Antonio Gates was on-and-off the field during San Diego's loss to the Jets, but apparently this reflected a precautionary work pattern, rather than a re-injury of Gates' troublesome foot. The big tight end rewarded fantasy owners who started him with a textbook red zone score in the second quarter, and altogether had five grabs for 54 yards. His foot could feel pain at any moment, but there's no question he has to be in all lineups going forward.

Christopher Harris is a senior writer for ESPN.com. He is a six-time Fantasy Sports Writers Association award winner. You can ask him questions at www.facebook.com/writerboy.

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