For Real, or Get Real

Week 7 gave us some screwy results on the NFL landscape, including lots of numbers that will send folks dashing to the waiver wire in the coming days. But who among Sunday’s big performers are really worth grabbing for help the rest of the way?

It’s easy to simply say “go get these guys” who just produced strong stats, but if you need to be told that Kenny Britt is worth adding at this point, you probably need more help than this column will offer. (Besides, he was already recommended here three weeks ago.) Instead, I’d like to run through some of the top Week 7 producers who are still free agents in many places and play a little game that I call “For Real or Get Real.”

Ryan Fitzpatrick, Buffalo

I’m not sure anyone had a better week than this guy, who nearly led his winless Bills to a victory no one was projecting, and it’s time now to believe in him. Fitzpatrick is the only quarterback in the league who has produced at least two touchdown passes in every one of his outings this season. Granted, he didn’t play in weeks 1 or 2, but would you have pegged him for 11 scores through four games? Neither would I. His matchups don’t look especially strong overall, though meetings with Detroit, New England and Cleveland won’t hurt. Additionally, the fact that his team is allowing a ton of points – 34 or more in five straight games – should mean plenty of passing to play catch-up. Fitzpatrick won’t be a yardage monster and will produce some turnovers, but he has shown he can also offer touchdowns. For Real

Matt Moore, Carolina
I liked Moore heading into the season, and he finally delivered in his return to the starting lineup: 308 yards and a pair of scoring passes. I’d love to believe that this was a sign of Moore delivering on the promise I thought he carried into the year, but it’s not enough to outweigh the play that got him benched in the first place. These numbers came against a Niners D that has allowed five of seven opponents to score at least 23 points and three other quarterbacks to post at least two touchdown throws. Moore’s schedule is very favorable going forward, and there’s a chance he’ll provide fantasy relevance going forward, but I’ll have to see more than one game before I can recommend dropping any other passer to claim him. Get Real

LeGarrette Blount, Tampa Bay

He didn’t run up huge numbers on the Rams on Sunday, but Tampa Bay’s weak 2010 running game has been crying out for an answer. Eleven carries for 72 yards could be the first line of that answer from a guy who has been creeping onto the fantasy radar for a few weeks now. However, let’s remember that this performance came against the Rams -- 4.6 yards per carry allowed to date – and with Earnest Graham inactive. Another similar game might have me saying something different, but for now I don’t believe there is a “the guy” in Tampa’s backfield. Get Real

Willis McGahee, Baltimore
He might be owned in nearly 100 percent of leagues (99.42), but McGahee found himself a free agent in more than 60 percent of Yahoo! leagues as of Monday afternoon despite scoring touchdowns in three straight games now. The Baltimore backup opened 2009 with a goal-line hot streak before petering out, and it’s always risky to count on a team’s second back, but he’s not a fluke. McGahee has garnered 10 carries or more in three straight outings and still has favorable matchups ahead with opponents such as Atlanta, Tampa Bay, Houston and New Orleans. McGahee should continue to help Ray Rice shoulder the load on one of the league’s strongest offenses and is worth flex consideration in non-PPR formats. For Real

David Gettis, Carolina

The rookie wideout is clearly carving out a role of regular usage for a team on which two fellow rookie receivers – Brandon LaFell and Armanti Edwards – garnered more attention heading into the season. After missing the Week 1 game, Gettis has seen at least five targets every week, topping out at nine in Sunday’s eight-catch, 125-yard, two-touchdown effort. It was, however, the first time this year that he caught more than three passes, the first time he reached 40 yards and the first time he found the end zone. Gettis certainly seems to have a bright future and no shortage of opportunity, and as I said, I think there’s potential in Moore going forward. For now, though, if I’m not quite ready to trust his more experienced quarterback, I can’t really buy into the rookie wideout as a dependable option in redraft leagues. Get Real

Steve Johnson, Buffalo
Before his monster Week 7 outing, Kenny Britt had somewhat quietly put together a string of scoring games, and Johnson has done the same. The touchdown at Baltimore made it four straight weeks in which Johnson has scored, and he has caught at least three passes in every game. That’s not an overly impressive number but better than it sounds when you consider Buffalo’s Trent Edwards start and general malaise. Johnson has size (6-2, 202) and a veteran big-play threat on the other side of the field (Lee Evans) to keep defenses honest. Plus, there’s that trustworthy quarterback mentioned earlier and the impetus for plenty of passing in Buffalo. For Real

Lee Evans, Buffalo
I think this one is fairly obvious based on the Johnson call. Evans is a terrific player who has only been missing a quality quarterback. He doesn’t have Johnson’s scoring streak, but Evans has caught five passes or more in three of Fitzpatrick’s four games and has rekindled the deep passing game now that Captain Checkdown (Trent Edwards) has been exiled. No Buffalo receiver will give you big numbers every week, but, heck, neither will Miles Austin or Hakeem Nicks. For Real

Jordan Shipley, Cincinnati
The rookie’s final line of six receptions, 131 yards and a touchdown from Sunday looks fairly similar to the results of Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens, but it’s important to note the separation in targets. Ocho drew 16 looks, Owens 13 and Shipley six. The fact that he caught each and took one for a 64-yard touchdown speaks to Shipley’s reliability and explosiveness – he was one of the NCAA’s top return men at Texas – but his numbers will often suffer from lack of opportunity. Carson Palmer did throw 50 times on Sunday (albeit for the second time this season). Get Real

Taxonomy upgrade extras: 
Week 7 gave us some screwy results on the NFL landscape, including lots of numbers that will send folks dashing to the waiver wire in the coming days. But who among Sunday’s big performers are really worth grabbing for help the rest of the way?
Matt Schauf

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