1. The return of RUN DMC: He is the King of fantasy rock, there is none higher… in unexpected fashion, Darren McFadden returned after a two-game injury hiatus and delivered a career performance that left no doubt he is picking up where he left off earlier this season. He should instantly regain his newfound place among fantasy football's best RBs so far in 2010. McFadden looked like a sudden fantasy star during the season's first three games, but a hamstring injury kept him out for the past two games and actually made his status questionable for Week 7. Naturally, many fantasy owners played it safe and reserved him. You cannot blame them, as it is usually a smart move to bench an injury risk. Those who did activate McFadden out of desperation or an urge to gamble were greatly rewarded.
McFadden rushed for 165 yards on 16 carries and scored three times on the ground, and added a receiving touchdown in Oakland's annihilation of Denver. He finished with 196 yards from scrimmage as he reestablished himself as a resurgent fantasy standout. McFadden is running with more confidence and authority than ever before and is displaying great vision, acceleration and strength. He is simply an electric player and a must-start when healthy. Michael Bush (15 carries, 52 yards, one TD) may share some carries with McFadden, but it's clear he is No. 2 in the fantasy pecking order behind Sunday's biggest standout. Bush will get enough work to ensure McFadden is not overworked and can stay healthy, yet he cannot be relied on as anywhere near an equal partner in terms of possible statistical output.
2. Redemption for a reserve:Kenny Britt's off-field issues in the days leading up to Sunday's game against the Eagles threatened to affect his availability. Fantasy players learned that Britt would play, yet he would not be in the starting lineup. Those who reserved him learned a hard lesson about placing too much emphasis on the word "start." When a player does not start in pro football, his chances of contributing may not necessarily be heavily lessened. Yes, Britt did not enter the game until the second quarter; yet when he did, it was clear he was a prime option for the Titans. Britt showed that his troubles off the field cannot distract him from doing his job on it right now. Britt enjoyed a career day with seven catches for 225 yards and three TDs. Britt now has seven TDs, all since Week 3. He is big, strong and quick, and with defenses regularly trying to contain Chris Johnson, he will continue to find soft spots in opposing coverages. Britt cannot be single covered right now, and he does a fine job of finding holes in defensive passing schemes. He has also arrived as a major red-zone threat. If you are a Britt owner and get bombarded with trade offers for him this week, avoid moving him unless you simply get blown away by an offer. There is more success to come as long as Britt avoids issues outside the gridiron. Keep the thrill ride for yourself if you can.
3. Lucky sevens: Winless teams can be dangerous, as the Ravens found out in their overtime win over the visiting Bills. Buffalo put up a completely unexpected fight against the Ravens' vaunted defense, gaining new measures of respect along the way. Ryan Fitzpatrick threw for 374 yards, four TDs and two interceptions, and now commands the attention of fantasy players everywhere. If you didn't believe in Fitzpatrick before, you surely do now. He has 11 TD passes and four interceptions in four games so far this season. Fitzpatrick is a former seventh-round pick and perceived journeyman type. The reality is, he is fearless, aggressive and does not back down to any opponent. Other teams continue to build film and scouting reports on him, and he still gets the job done, much better than anyone expects. Steve Johnson, another former seventh-rounder, has quickly emerged as Fitzpatrick's favorite target. Johnson caught eight balls for 158 yards and scored for the fifth time in the past four games. He is a major red-zone threat and must-start WR3. Lee Evans caught three of Fitzpatrick's TD tosses and finished with 105 receiving yards. As Fitzpatrick continues to play well, Evans will naturally provide owners with some good outings. Yet Evans, who also scored in Week 5 before the bye, has always been notoriously inconsistent, and could easily follow a good game or two with a stinker or quiet spell. Do not lock him into lineups based on his past two games.
4. Champs or chumps?: After an encouraging outing at Tampa Bay, the New Orleans offense reverted to its baffling early-season ways in a shocking home loss to the Browns. Drew Brees threw for 356 yards and two TDs, yet he was also picked off four times. The Saints could not get their running game going, as Chris Ivory was held to 48 yards on 15 carries. Turnovers and lack of balance on offense made the Saints look predictable. They clearly cannot challenge defenses effectively without RBs Pierre Thomas and Reggie Bush. It is difficult to bench Brees, so you will have to take the bad with the good until the Saints get back all of their key parts on offense. On the bright side, Marques Colston scored for the first time this season, and finished with 112 receiving yards on 10 receptions. Sell high on Colston if you can. He still has name value and can be moved for a quality player or as a key part of a package. Going forward, though, he will continue to be unreliable, as Brees simply spreads the ball around too much for any of his WRs to be regarded as dependable.
5. UnBearable: The Mike Martz offense is already looking like a bust in Chicago, and is dragging down Jay Cutler. The Martz approach is a clear recipe for disaster now that the mirage of the first two weeks has worn off. Cutler threw one TD pass and was intercepted four times as the Bears lost their second consecutive home game. Cutler has one TD pass in his past three games. The Redskins sacked him four times, and he has now been dropped 19 times in his past three games. Deep drops behind a shaky offensive line simply don't give a QB optimum chances to succeed. It is also very apparent that Cutler's pass-catchers don't have their timing down and aren't always in sync with their QB as the complex schemes are bogging down the offense. It is hard to envision Martz making changes to his offensive designs or adjusting much, so the woes may continue for Cutler. Keep him reserved until there are signs of a turnaround, and start opposing defenses with confidence.