SEC in Fantasy, Week 7: This was supposed to be fun

Cam Newton's Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day set the tone for a rough week for Auburn's NFL players — and the SEC as a whole.

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This was supposed to be fun.

Cam Newton had a point to prove — 31 teams were wrong. How did they let it happen? Belichick had done it again. The Patriots had added a former MVP to its roster in exchange for coins they found in the couch.

The Patriots had just finished a 36-20 thumping of the Las Vegas Raiders, making them 2-1; their only loss coming at the goal line the week before in Seattle. The bargain-bin former MVP had thrown for 397 yards that night, scoring three touchdowns and leading the team in rushing by a long shot. He had put on a show with his patented smile in primetime. Just two weeks into the season, it was clear. Cam was back.

Now, the bounce-back win from Week 3 seems so long ago. AndWeek 2 feels like it was six months before that.

Cam was heading to the sideline after throwing his third interception of the game — a poorly thrown ball well behind Julian Edelman, who could only reach back and tip the ball up into the air in the middle of the field, falling gently into the awaiting arms of a 49ers cornerback. The Patriots were trailing 30-6 with under five minutes to go in the third quarter. That would be the last snap for Newton of the game, as Belichick opted to let fellow Auburn alum Jarrett Stidham take the final two drives of the day.

This was not the first time this year Stidham had come off the bench to lead the offense this season. In Week 4, Stidham took the reins in a similar spot — down multiple scores to the Chiefs late in the third quarter. What was different about that game is that Stidham took over for a struggling Brian Hoyer, as Cam Newton did not make the trip to Kansas City after testing positive for COVID-19.

Is that the difference? Is Cam, who has reportedly remained asymptomatic, struggling with lingering effects of the virus? It is impossible, if not irresponsible, to say for sure at this point. Both Newton and his coach have denied it. But the question does seem to have some validity due to the complete collapse in performance pre-to-post positive test, the worst of which came Sunday in the largest home loss of Belichick’s 21-year tenure in New England.

Since returning to the field last week, Newton has completed 26 of his 40 passes for just 255 yards and no touchdowns. Five of those 14 failed connections have been intercepted. Any quarterback rating formula you prefer yields unsightly results.

Newton, never one to shy away from criticism, no matter how ridiculous (Jeff Garcia), has faced tons of questions about his future as the Patriots starting signal caller. He has been honest and realistic about the situation, understanding the potential gravity of another poor performance, telling WEEI in Boston that he told himself on the way home Sunday, “You keep playing games like that, bro, and it's going to be a permanent change.”

Still, Bill Belichick has repeatedly stated firmly that Newton is going to be the starter in New England going forward.

The Patriots are 2-4 for the first time since 2000 and it is not going to get much easier from here, as they prepare for a pivotal AFC East matchup against the division leading Bills in Week 8. A couple of dates with the Jets seem like the closest thing to a lock in the 10 remaining games, they still have to play the Bills again, along with the Ravens, Cardinals, Rams, and Chargers; the final two coming within five days of each other as part of a cross-country December road trip.

For a team that suddenly looks as deprived of talent on both sides of the ball as experts predicted, it is a daunting task. If anyone is up for the challenge in the face of doubters, it’s the former MVP showman from College Park.

So what will it take to get the season back on track?

To let Cam tell it: “It’s simple. I have to play better.”

Newton wasn’t the only former SEC’er who struggled during Week 7. Let’s rehash the action from the weekend, update the standings, and unveil this week’s All-SEC squad:

Alabama

QB: Jalen Hurts (Eagles) – 0.2

RB: Derrick Henry (Titans) – 14.2

RB: Damien Harris (Patriots) – 7.5

WR: Calvin Ridley (Falcons) – 17.4

WR: Julio Jones (Falcons) – 13.7

TE: Irv Smith Jr. (Vikings) - BYE

FLEX: Amari Cooper (Cowboys) – 12.0

TOTAL = 65.0

After putting together the conference’s highest scoring fantasy week of the season a week ago, Alabama totaled its season low in Week 7. For the first time in 2020, not a single Tide alum cracked the 20-point threshold. In fact, only Calvin Ridley broke 15, thanks to a very late two-point conversion reception. Damien Harris has now been RB2 in two of the three weeks he has played and outpaced Josh Jacobs both times. This should be the last week Jalen Hurts counts toward the team total, as Bama will finally get a full-time starter at quarterback in Week 8 — it’s Tua Time.

Arkansas

TE: Hunter Henry (Chargers) – 3.8

FLEX: Jeremy Sprinkle (Football Team) – 1.1

TOTAL = 4.9

Justin Herbert threw touchdown passes to two different Chargers tight ends in Week 7 and somehow neither of them were Hunter Henry. Though being thrown to seven times, Henry could only bring in three for 23 yards. And finally, after six scoreless weeks, Jeremy Sprinkle got on the board for Arkansas with a six-yard catch.

Auburn

QB: Cam Newton (Patriots) – 2.8

RB: Peyton Barber (Football Team) – 3.4

RB: Kerryon Johnson (Lions) – 0

WR: Darius Slayton (Giants) – 3.3

WR: Duke Johnson (Bills) – 0

TE: C.J. Uzomah (Bengals) - INJ

FLEX: Chandler Cox (Dolphins) - BYE

K: Daniel Carlson (Raiders) – 9

TOTAL = 18.5

Let’s just rip the Band-Aid off: Cam had one of his worst showings as a professional at one of the worst times for New England, Kerryon is still the odd man out in Detroit, and Slayton remains touchdown dependent for fantasy purposes. A small glimmer of hope is that Peyton Barber saw his most work for the Football Team since Week 1, carrying the ball ten times on Sunday. Though it is not likely, we will see this week if Duke Williams is able to remain on the Bills active roster after he was called in an emergency receiver situation. All in all, Auburn’s lone piece of NFL fantasy consistency is the kicking game, where Carlson edged out Parkey by a point.

Florida

QB: Jeff Driskel (Broncos) - OUT

RB: La’Mical Perine (Jets) – 12.6

WR: Van Jefferson (Rams) – 1.9

WR: Demarcus Robinson (Chiefs) – 0.9

TE: Trey Burton (Colts) - BYE

FLEX: Brandon Powell (Falcons) – 0.9

TOTAL = 16.3

Thank goodness for La’Mical Perine. Though he split carries with Frank Gore again this week, Perine was responsible for the lone Jets touchdown on Sunday. And boy, are the Gators ever grateful for that.

Georgia

QB: Matthew Stafford (Lions) – 18.4

RB: Todd Gurley II (Falcons) – 21.2

RB: D’Andre Swift (Lions) – 12.8

WR: A.J. Green (Bengals) – 11.7

WR: Chris Conley (Jaguars) – 9.3

TE: Isaac Nauta (Lions) – 0.8

FLEX: Mecole Hardman (Chiefs) – 8.0

K: Rodrigo Blankenship (Colts) - BYE

TOTAL = 82.2

If you have somehow managed to miss what happened in the final minute of the Falcons-Lions game, please go check out the epitome of #Falconing. Though it thoroughly disappointed Georgia sports fans everywhere, it greatly improved the Bulldogs total here. Gurley’s accidental late touchdown and Stafford’s impressive game-winning drive propelled the Dawgs to a pretty decent fantasy week. Chris Conley and D’Andre Swift had the other UGA touchdowns, while A.J. Green has put up consecutive double-digit fantasy weeks. And for the first time this season, Georgia had a scoring fantasy tight end in the newly activated Isaac Nauta.

Kentucky

RB: Benny Snell Jr. (Steelers) – 6.2

WR: Randall Cobb (Texans) – 13.5

WR: Lynn Bowden Jr. (Dolphins) - BYE

TOTAL = 19.7

Two weeks in a row, Benny Snell has gotten the call in a goal-to-go situation and delivered for the Steelers. He continues to make the most of his limited action. In Houston, the Texans had to sling the ball around the field to try to catch up to the Packers. Although they never could, Randall Cobb led the team in targets (10), receptions (8), and receiving yards (95). Those eight grabs account for Cobb’s highest mark since Week 1 of 2018, when he played FOR the Packers.

LSU

QB: Joe Burrow (Bengals) – 34.6

RB: Clyde Edwards-Helaire (Chiefs) – 12.8

RB: Leonard Fournette (Buccaneers) – 12.7

WR: Jarvis Landry (Browns) – 8.5

WR: Russell Gage (Falcons) – 8.4

TE: Foster Moreau (Raiders) – 0

FLEX: D.J. Chark (Jaguars) – 3.1

TOTAL = 80.1

Man, how impressive has Joe Burrow been? Burrow threw for more than 400 yards, ran for more than 30, and had four total touchdowns in the Battle for Ohio. The Bengals’ record may not reflect it, but Burrow has had a few outstanding performances as a rookie - with his two showings versus the Browns defense at the very top of the list. On the other side of the ball from Burrow on Sunday, Jarvis Landry completed a pass and hauled in five others, all of which came after his Tiger/Browns running mate, OBJ, suffered what looks to be a season-ending knee injury. Russell Gage stayed involved in the Falcons offense throughout the game, Leonard Fournette looked good in his first action since Week 3, and Clyde Edwards-Helaire scored his second touchdown of the year — the only non-Burrow TD of the day for the Tigers.

Mississippi State

QB: Dak Prescott (Cowboys) - INJ

TE: Jordan Thomas (Cardinals) - OUT

TOTAL = 0

With Jordan Thomas inactive and Isaiah Zuber back on the Patriots practice squad, we might be seeing a string of zeros from the SEC West’s Bulldogs.

Missouri

QB: Drew Lock (Broncos) – 15.0

TE: Albert Okwuegbunam (Broncos) – 9.5

TOTAL = 24.5

It was a cold and ugly day for the Broncos on Sunday afternoon. Lock threw a pair of interceptions, including one for a Chiefs’ touchdown. Rushing touchdowns are a fantasy forgiver, though, and his 2-yard scamper made his fantasy day look a little bit brighter than it actually was. The former Mizzou connection was very much alive on Sunday, as Albert Okwuegbunam hauled in more twice as many catches as anyone else for Denver – racking up seven for 60 yards.

Ole Miss

RB: Jordan Wilkins (Colts) - BYE

WR: A.J. Brown (Titans) – 24.3

WR: D.K. Metcalf (Seahawks) – 3.3

TE: Evan Engram (Giants) – 7.9

FLEX: Dawson Knox (Bills) - INJ

TOTAL = 35.5

A.J. Brown has improved his scoring output in every single week he has been active this season. Thanks to a huge 73-yard catch and sprint touchdown in the third quarter, A.J. totaled six catches for 153 yards on Sunday against a stingy Steelers defense. Evan Engram had a solid showing on Thursday night with six catches for a little under 50 yards. Engram continues to get rushing attempts for the Giants, as well, so the rushing TD may not be just a one-time occurrence for him. Fantasy managers had to be driven crazy on Sunday night when the promising offensive showcase lived up to the hype, but D.K. Metcalf played a very minimal role in the shootout. In fact, D.K.’s lone highlight of the night was his impressive display of speed and will, hawking down Budda Baker and saving a pick-six.

South Carolina

RB: Mike Davis (Panthers) – 6.1

RB: Rico Dowdle (Cowboys) – 0

WR: Deebo Samuel (49ers) – 9.7

WR: Damiere Byrd (Patriots) – 2.1

TE: Jared Cook (Saints) – 10.7

FLEX: Hayden Hurst (Falcons) – 9.8

K: Ryan Succop (Buccaneers) - 9

TOTAL = 47.4

Speaking of disappointing fantasy performances, the Saints rush defense really gave Mike Davis no chance of having a good day. He relied almost completely on his five short-yard catches to get to his 6.1. Hayden Hurst and Deebo Samuel had similar days – six receptions for 68 yards for Hurst and five receptions for 65 yards for Samuel, who also added seven rushing yards. The Gamecocks only Week 7 touchdown came from Jared Cook, who connected with Drew Brees three times for 32 yards. In Tampa, Ryan Succop converted all six extra points and added a short 29-yard field goal in the Bucs’ latest route of the Raiders.

Tennessee

QB: Joshua Dobbs (Steelers) - OUT

RB: Alvin Kamara (Saints) – 18.8

RB: Jakob Johnson (Patriots) – 0.6

WR: Marquez Callaway (Saints) – 11.5

WR: Cordarrelle Patterson (Bears) – 2.7

TE: Jason Witten (Raiders) – 1.1

FLEX: Luke Stocker (Falcons) - 0

TOTAL = 34.7

Though neither of them found the end zone on Sunday, Alvin Kamara and Marquez Callaway highlighted the Saints offensive attack between the goal lines. Both former Vols caught eight passes, Callaway for 75 yards and Kamara for 65. Kamara added 83 yards rushing, ending just shy of 150 scrimmage yards on the day. Though Cordarrelle Patterson continues to do some of everything for the Bears (three rushes, three catches, four kick returns on Monday Night) his fantasy production remains limited.

Texas A&M

QB: Ryan Tannehill (Titans) – 17.3

RB: Cullen Gillaspia (Texans) - 0

RB: Trayveon Williams (Bengals) - 0

WR: Christian Kirk (Cardinals) – 18.2

WR: Josh Reynolds (Rams) – 13.2

TE: Jace Sternberger (Packers) – 6.8

FLEX: Mike Evans (Buccaneers) – 4.7

K: Randy Bullock (Bengals) - 10

TOTAL = 70.2

Christian Kirk has scored a pair of touchdowns in back-to-back weeks to spark the Cardinals offense and consequently give a huge boost to the A&M alum’s team total. Joining Kirk in the multi-touchdown club was Ryan Tannehill, who threw a pair of TD passes in the AFC unbeaten showdown against Pittsburgh. Jace Sternberger made his lone target count for a 3-yard score. Josh Reynolds opened the scoring on Monday night with a 4-yard touchdown of his own, and led the Rams in receiving yards for the first time this year.

Vanderbilt

RB: Ke’Shawn Vaughn (Buccaneers) - 0

RB: Khari Blasingame (Titans) - 0

WR: Trent Sherfield (Cardinals) - 0

TOTAL = 0

Now with a full stable of healthy Bucs in the backfield for Tampa Bay, Vandy has its third fantasy bagel of the year.

FANTASY STANDINGS THROUGH WEEK 7

  1. Alabama: 670.2 (last week - 1)

  2. LSU: 592.2 (2)

  3. Georgia: 563.2 (3)

  4. Texas A&M: 426.7 (4)

  5. South Carolina: 340.6 (5)

  6. Auburn: 304 (6)

  7. Ole Miss: 226 (7)

  8. Tennessee: 221.4 (8)

  9. Florida: 166.8 (9)

  10. Mississippi State: 150.1 (10)

  11. Kentucky: 93.2 (11)

  12. Arkansas: 50.4 (12)

  13. Missouri: 47.4 (13)

  14. Vanderbilt: 15.4 (14)

WEEK 7 ALL-SEC FANTASY TEAM

QB: Joe Burrow (LSU/Bengals) – 34.6

RB: Todd Gurley (Georgia/Falcons) – 21.2

RB: Alvin Kamara (Tennessee/Saints) – 18.8

WR: A.J. Brown (Ole Miss/Titans) – 24.3

WR: Christian Kirk (Texas A&M/Cardinals) – 18.2

TE: Jared Cook (South Carolina/Saints) – 10.7

FLEX: Calvin Ridley (Alabama/Falcons) – 17.4

K: Randy Bullock (Texas A&M/Bengals) - 10

TOTAL = 155.2

So it was back-to-back record setting weeks for the SEC. Week 6 brought the most fantasy production for the conference all year, and Week 7 came to immediately balance that out with a season low. As you could see, scoring was pretty consistently low across the board for the conference this week, so good on this crew for holding it together.

Randy Bullock is the only returner to this list from a week ago and has now made the list four times. The only man who has outdone him is Alvin Kamara, getting All-SEC honors an impressive five times in the six weeks the Saints have played. Joe Burrow was the only player making an All-SEC list debut after having far and away the most outstanding game of the week.

As you might have guessed, every spot in the team standings remained the same this week. There are still slim margins of three points or fewer in a couple of spots, and some middling teams, like Auburn, in dire need of a big day to gain ground.

We are approaching the halfway point in the NFL season, and Week 8 has some promising matchups on the way for us. Will we get a repeat of the fantasy carnival from Week 6? We will be back to cover it all on Tuesday, right here on The Auburn Observer.

Up next on The Auburn Observer: On Wednesday morning, look for a story on the Tigers’ offensive line at the halfway point of the season — and what they might be facing Saturday against LSU’s defense. Make sure to send in your mailbag questions now @JFergusonAU on Twitter or via email at the1andonlyJF@gmail.com.