NFC South News and Notes
New Orleans Saints: The Saints had their bye week and will take on the visiting Buffalo Bills in week 8. One injury to keep an eye on is TE Jimmy Graham. He is still going to be very questionable heading into the week 8 game dealing with his foot injury.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs Atlanta Falcons: As if losing to the Atlanta Falcons at home wasn’t enough, the Bucs were dealt one more punch to the gut when their franchise running back, Doug Martin, went down with a torn labrum. This injury will likely end his season, a year that had been a huge disappointment to his fantasy owners. Hopefully he will bounce back in 2014 when the entire team finds some kind of balance. Currently the Buccaneers are just trying to get through the season. Vincent Jackson continued his assault on defenses going off for 10 receptions, 138 yards and two more TDs. He and rookie Mike Glennon have some chemistry and that bodes well for VJAX owners the rest of the season. But with the news about Martin’s torn labrum, it leaves Tampa Bay with unproven rookie Mike James left to handle the majority of work on the ground. Doug Martin had accounted for nearly 75% of all rushing yards for the Bucs and James will be filling some big shoes. But with Martins’ struggles this season, Mike James will come in with very low expectations from the fantasy community. And sometimes that can help relax defenses and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him do better in terms of YPC the next game against the Panthers on Thursday night.
On the Atlanta side, we saw Matt Ryan bounce back with a nice game and Harry Douglas announce to the NFL that maybe he is better than we thought. Playing behind Roddy White and Julio Jones has kept him in relative obscurity but on Sunday he shined. Douglas finished with 149 yards on 7 catches with a score. Tony Gonzalez was expected to be the workhorse for the Falcons but ended with just two receptions likely caused by multiple double-teams. Gonzo should be fine and his owners need not worry. There is a chance the Falcons get back Steven Jackson for week 8 and that could help open up things in the passing game. While the combination of Jacquizz Rodgers and Jason Snelling is decent, they aren’t the every-down threat that SJAX is if healthy.
Carolina Panthers: The Panthers took care of business against the St. Louis Rams in week 7. Coming away with no major injury concerns, Carolina looks poised to demolish the Buccaneers in week 8. The Panthers could even get back Jonathan Stewart soon as he is expected to start practicing this week.
Mike Tolbert continues to drive DeAngelo Williams owners crazy. He now has 4 touchdowns in his past 5 games, and taking nearly 40% of the carries in the process. He hasn’t shown the ability to do more than Williams so the addition of Stewart will likely cause a shift of some kind. It’s best to get what you can for either of them if you can find a buyer.
Cam Newton is progressing nicely in his third year raising his completion percentage to 63.5% compared to just 57% a year ago. And his TD/INT ratio of 10/5 would be the best of his career if the season were to end now. Of course there is still a lot of football to be played but Newton is doing well in his “make-or-break” season.
On the opposite side of the ball for week 7, the St. Louis Rams lost their QB Sam Bradford to a torn ACL ending his season. A big blow to the Rams, as Bradford had been playing very well for them thus far in 2013.