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Cutler's Fantasy future sprained

Senior Fantasy Writer
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Now that it turns out Jay Cutler has an MCL sprain in his left knee, you have to wonder about several NFL players calling him out for not being able to finish the NFC Championship Game.

Here's a sampling of some of the Twitter comments Sunday after Cutler left in the third quarter of the 21-14 loss against Green Bay:

From Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew: All I'm saying is that he can finish the game on a hurt knee … I played the whole season on one.

From Jaguars linebacker Kirk Morrison: If my knee was hurt or ACL/MCL/PCL sprain, I would not be standing up on the sideline.

From Raiders quarterback Bruce Gradkowski: Is Cutler still your starter next year? Did the players give up on him?

Cutler is definitely still the Bears starter in 2011 and he should be ready for Week 1 with his knee, but Fantasy owners will only consider him as a No. 2 quarterback. And that's how he should be drafted with a mid- to late-round pick in the majority of standard leagues.

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He was great in the divisional round of the playoffs against Seattle with 274 passing yards and two touchdowns and 43 rushing yards and two scores, but he remains too inconsistent to trust. Just look at his regular season.

Cutler had seven games with at least 22 Fantasy points during the year and eight with 15 or less (he missed one game with injured ribs). He also had one 300-yard passing game in the regular season, which was Week 1 against Detroit.

When he's on, he's easily a Top 10 Fantasy passer. But the Bears still lack an elite receiver (Johnny Knox, Earl Bennett and Devin Hester are just complementary options and Greg Olsen is too hit or miss) and even with offensive coordinator Mike Martz, they remain a run-first team with Matt Forte, who is still their best player.

Say what you want about him not finishing the biggest game of his career, but Cutler isn't soft as some of his peers have suggested. As the Chicago Sun-Times points out, he has missed only two games since he became a starter for the Broncos five years ago, was sacked 57 times this season and has played with Type 1 diabetes for years.

But none of that matters when it comes to his Fantasy value. He's just a No. 2 Fantasy quarterback. Even when his knee doesn't hurt.

PLAYOFF STOCKWATCH

Throughout the playoffs we will monitor players whose Fantasy value is rising or falling as a result of their postseason performance. What happens in the playoffs could determine where a player is drafted in Fantasy leagues in 2011.

THREE ON THE RISE …

Matt Forte, Chicago
NFC Championship Game stats: Had 17 carries for 70 yards and 10 catches for 90 yards against Green Bay.
Analysis: Forte's performance against the Packers should solidify his value heading into 2011 as a premier Fantasy running back. He might not be a first-round pick any more, but he's great value in Round 2 as a starting option in all leagues. During the season, Forte had nine games with double digits in Fantasy points in a standard league, including six games with more than 15 points. His final stats were 237 carries for 1,069 yards and six touchdowns and 51 catches for 547 yards and three touchdowns. He now has at least 1,500 total yards and nine touchdowns in two of his three years in the NFL.

Mark Sanchez, N.Y. Jets
AFC Championship Game stats: Completed 20 of 33 passes for 233 yards and two touchdowns with a lost fumble at Pittsburgh.
Analysis: Sanchez is still a No. 2 Fantasy quarterback, but he is worth drafting with a late-round pick in 2011. The key for Sanchez will be what the Jets do at wide receiver with Santonio Holmes and Braylon Edwards both free agents. If they are able to keep both then Sanchez should continue to improve as he enters his third year. But if he loses one, especially Holmes, then his value could decline. He made tremendous strides in 2010 from his rookie year, including six games with at least 18 Fantasy points. And you have to hope his performance against the Steelers can carry over to next year when the Jets will again be a favorite to reach the Super Bowl.

James Starks, Green Bay
NFC Championship Game stats: Had 22 carries for 74 yards and a touchdown and one catch for 6 yards at Chicago.
Analysis: Starks has been impressive in the playoffs with 263 rushing yards and a touchdown against Philadelphia, Atlanta and Chicago. If he can run well against the Steelers in the Super Bowl that will only enhance his value for 2011. Ryan Grant should return as the starter for the Packers next season after he was placed on injured reserve following an ankle injury in Week 1, but you have to prepare for a tandem situation after Starks has led Green Bay throughout the playoffs. We would advise selecting Starks with a late-round pick if your Fantasy draft was today, but his value could rise if the Packers remain more committed to Starks than Grant heading into the start of 2011.

THREE ON THE DECLINE …

Braylon Edwards, N.Y. Jets
AFC Championship Game stats: Had three catches for 50 yards at Pittsburgh.
Analysis: Edwards had a solid season in 2010 with 53 catches for 904 yards and seven touchdowns. He had eight games with double digits in Fantasy points, and this was easily his best year since 2007 when he had 80 catches for 1,289 yards and 16 touchdowns in Cleveland. But the Jets now have a decision to make with Edwards and Holmes, who are both free agents, and keeping Holmes makes more sense. While Edwards could end up in a better situation in a more pass-happy offense, we don't see him as anything more than a No. 4 Fantasy option. Keep an eye on what happens with him this offseason, but Edwards should only be drafted with a late-round pick in the majority of leagues.

LaDainian Tomlinson, N.Y. Jets
AFC Championship Game stats: Had nine carries for 16 yards at Pittsburgh.
Analysis: Tomlinson will be 32 next season, and he plans to return for his 11th year in the NFL. But in what role will the Jets use him since it's clear Shonn Greene needs to start and get the majority of carries? The best option for Tomlinson is to be the third-down back and change-of-pace option, and that would mean he should only be drafted with a late-round pick. He played well in 2010 with six games with double digits in Fantasy points, but he faltered down the stretch. The Jets also could decide to give more carries to Joe McKnight in 2011, which would hurt Tomlinson and even Greene, but Tomlinson's best days are clearly behind him. Greene has more value as a potential No. 2 Fantasy running back in what should be a rebound year.

Hines Ward, Pittsburgh
AFC Championship Game stats: Had two catches for 14 yards against the Jets.
Analysis: Ward still garners plenty of respect around the NFL, which is why Darrelle Revis planned to cover him for most of the AFC Championship Game. But Ward is coming off one of the worst seasons of his career with 59 catches for 755 yards and five touchdowns. Mike Wallace has become the best Fantasy wide receiver for the Steelers and Ben Roethlisberger's go-to target, and Pittsburgh has developed other playmakers with Emmanuel Sanders and Antonio Brown – not to mention tight end Heath Miller. Ward is still worth drafting as a No. 4 Fantasy wide receiver with a late-round pick, but the days of him being an elite option are in the past.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us via Twitter . You can also follow Jamey at @jameyeisenberg . Do you have a question or a comment for our Fantasy staff? Drop us a line at dmfantasyfootball@cbs.com .

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Player News
49ers' Phil Dawson makes only FG try in loss vs. Seahawks
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12:28 am ET) 49ers kicker Phil Dawson was successful on his only field-goal attempt Thursday, making a 40-yard kick in his team's 19-3 loss to the Seahawks in Week 13.

Dawson was the victim of a flailing performance by the 49ers offense, as the team was only able to put together one long drive in the loss. The kicker has been held to only one field-goal try in each of his last two games. He'll hope to see more chances against the Raiders in Week 14.


49ers' pass catchers share very small pie in loss vs. Seahawks
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12:25 am ET) There wasn't much offense to go around for the 49ers' wide receivers and tight ends in the team's 19-3 loss to the Seahawks in Week 13, with wide receiver Steve Johnson leading the receiving unit with three catches for just 28 yards.

Running back Carlos Hyde led the team with 38 receiving yards, but there was simply no offense to speak of for the 49ers on Thanksgiving. Wide receiver Anquan Boldin caught three of his five targets for just 18 yards, while teammate Michael Crabtree managed just 10 yards on three catches of his own. Tight end Vernon Davis kicked in two receptions for 13 yards.

The 49ers will hope for a big bounce-back performance in Week 14 against the Raiders.


49ers' Frank Gore, Carlos Hyde sputter in loss vs. Seahawks
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12:21 am ET) The 49ers couldn't find much success on the ground in Thursday's 19-3 loss to the Seahawks, with running back Frank Gore leading the way with 10 carries for just 28 yards and an eight-yard reception in Week 13.

Rookie Carlos Hyde was the more explosive of the two backs Thursday, rushing for 19 yards on five carries while catching all three of his targets for a team-high 38 receiving yards, but the Seahawks defense virtually shut down the entire 49ers offense on Thanksgiving. The pair will look to bounce back in a much better matchup against the Raiders in Week 14.


49ers QB Colin Kaepernick shut down in loss vs. Seahawks
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12:18 am ET) 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick had no answer for the Seahawks defense Thursday, completing 16 of his 29 passes for only 121 yards with no touchdowns and two interceptions while adding 17 rushing yards on three carries in his team's 19-3 loss to the Seahawks in Week 13.

Kaepernick also took four sacks for 21 yards, giving him just 100 net yards of passing offense in the rough outing. He managed to piece together just one significant drive, taking the offense from his own 19-yard line to the Seahawks' 19-yard line before taking a sack on third down and settling for a field goal in the third quarter with the 49ers down 16-0. Kaepernick will look to get back on track in Week 14 against the Raiders.


49ers WR Michael Crabtree quiet in Week 13 after rib, knee issues
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12:11 am ET) 49ers wide receiver Michael Crabtree caught all three of his targets for jut 10 yards in his team's 19-3 loss to the Seahawks in Week 13.

Crabtree was hit by an injury almost immediately on the team's first drive but was able to resume play. The team had announced that he was dealing with a rib injury, but coach Jim Harbaugh added after the game that the receiver was also suffering from a knee injury. He's in line for a few extra days of rest going into his Week 14 matchup against the Raiders.


Seahawks CB Richard Sherman notches two INTs vs. 49ers
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12:08 am ET) Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman picked off two passes to help spearhead a dominant performance by the Seahawks defense in his team's 19-3 win over the 49ers in Week 13.

The Seahawks were relentless against the 49ers offense on Thanksgiving, holding the opposition to only 164 total yards on offense and just 3.2 yards per play. Sherman's first interception came on a misfired 20-yard pass from San Francisco's 30-yard line that made it appear the Seattle cornerback was the intended target. His second pick came on one of San Francisco's few trips into Seattle territory as Colin Kaepernick appeared to lose the cornerback in coverage and threw another pass directly to the defender.

The Seahawks defense managed a total of four sacks and three turnovers in the win. They'll look to keep rolling in Week 14 against the Eagles.


Seahawks K Steven Hauschka nails four FGs in win vs. 49ers
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12:02 am ET) Seahawks kicker Steven Hauschka made all four of his field-goal attempts and one extra point in Thursday's 19-3 win over the 49ers in Week 13.

Hauschka was called upon to provide plenty of points with the Seahawks offense continually stalling deep in 49ers territory. He picked up field goals of 21 and 36 yards in the second quarter before adding two more kicks from 35 and 46 yards out in the second half. He's now racked up eight field goals in his last two games, and he takes a 90 percent success rate into a Week 14 matchup with the Eagles.


Seahawks' pass catchers limited by light workload in Week 13
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(11/27/2014) Seahawks tight end Tony Moeaki led his offense with 63 receiving yards on just one reception in his team's 19-3 win over the 49ers in Week 13.

Moeaki caught a pass of about 12 yards near the sideline early in the second quarter and ran past his defender to bring the ball all the way down to the one-yard line before being caught. The Seahawks weren't able to punch the ball into the end zone on the drive, but a dominant performance by the defense meant the points left on the board wouldn't come back to haunt the offense.

The rest of the receiving corps didn't have much of a workload in the win Thursday, with quarterback Russell Wilson completing just 15 passes on 22 attempts. Tight end Luke Willson led the Seahawks with four receptions and six targets, gaining just 39 yards in the game. Wide receiver Jermaine Kearse managed three receptions for 34 yards, while wide receiver Doug Baldwin could only haul in two passes for 28 yards. Rookie Paul Richardson was able to catch his only target for six yards.

The Seahawks have a trip to Philadelphia on the schedule in Week 14.


Seahawks' Robert Turbin scores lone TD in win vs. 49ers
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(11/27/2014) Seahawks running back Robert Turbin caught both of his targets for 47 yards and a touchdown while adding eight rushing yards on four carries in his team's 19-3 win over the 49ers in Week 13.

Turbin grabbed a short pass to the left and was able to work his way towards the end zone and maintain his balance to score a 13-yard touchdown that put his team up 7-0 in the first quarter. The Seahawks would pile on two field goals before halftime in a game where the 49ers had virtually no answers for the Seattle defense. Turbin's touchdown was just his second of the season and his first since Week 2. He'll match up with the Eagles in Week 14.


Seahawks' Marshawn Lynch racks up 104 rushing yards Thursday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(11/27/2014) Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch rushed for 104 yards on 20 carries while adding a seven-yard reception in his team's 19-3 win over the 49ers in Week 13.

Lynch took a heavy portion of the workload on Thanksgiving as the Seahawks jumped out to an early lead and leaned on the defense. Despite struggling against the Cardinals in Week 12, Lynch has posted three 100-yard performances on the ground in his last four games. However, he hasn't reached the end zone in any of his last three games. He'll look to rectify the recent lack of scoring against the Eagles in Week 14.


 
 
 
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