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2011 Draft Prep: Old faces, new places

Senior Fantasy Writer
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When you think back to the offseason moves prior to the 2010 season, there are a few players who stand out based on their poor performances. The biggest names seemed to struggle the most.

Probably the three most-publicized transactions were Anquan Boldin's trade to Baltimore, Brandon Marshall's trade to Miami and Donovan McNabb's trade to Washington. All three failed to perform in 2010 at the level they had with their previous team. Chester Taylor also was a huge letdown based on the big free agent deal he signed in Chicago.

But in looking past Boldin, Marshall, McNabb and Taylor, you'll find that Santonio Holmes and LaDainian Tomlinson were still standout Fantasy options for the Jets, Peyton Hillis was a star in Cleveland and we had quality performances from Ryan Torain in Washington and Mike Williams in Seattle.

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There's no rhyme or reason why a player who switches teams struggles or succeeds. Sometimes it's based on increased role or improved system. Other times you can tell when a player is just chasing money. For every success story like Michael Turner to Atlanta, there is a failure like Javon Walker to Oakland.

With that in mind, here is a look at the most impactful transactions for Fantasy owners during this frenzied free agent period. These moves consist of players who have changed teams with a look at their Fantasy value in their new home. Call it old faces in new places.

Editor's note: This story will likely be updated as offseason moves continue to happen, so check back frequently when a signicifant transaction occurs.

Quarterback

Kevin Kolb
Old team: Philadelphia
New team: Arizona
Fantasy value prior to the transaction: Not worth drafting
Fantasy value after the transaction: No. 2 quarterback
Kolb goes from being Michael Vick's backup to the starter for the Cardinals, and he could easily end up as a No. 1 Fantasy quarterback before the end of the season. He has one of the best receivers in the NFL with Larry Fitzgerald, and he plays in a weak division in the NFC West. But the reason we consider Kolb just a No. 2 Fantasy quarterback on Draft Day is he's unproven. He also has little help beyond Fitzgerald and tight end Todd Heap, and he could be a product of Andy Reid's system similar to McNabb and A.J. Feeley. Our advice is to draft Kolb as one of the top backup quarterbacks, and if he starts out the season playing well then you can trade him for something to improve your roster or start him yourself if your No. 1 quarterback struggles.

Donovan McNabb
Old team: Washington
New team: Minnesota
Fantasy value prior to the transaction: Not worth drafting
Fantasy value after the transaction: No. 2 quarterback
McNabb's Fantasy value improves with the trade to Minnesota since he escapes the madness of the Redskins and gets a fresh start. We wish his receiving corps was better since he has just Percy Harvin as a go-to threat, but the running game with Adrian Peterson should help McNabb be successful. He's not going to return to his glory days as a starting Fantasy option like he was in Philadelphia, but he should be better than his one season in Washington. A good week to count on McNabb is Week 5 at home against Arizona. If you draft Tony Romo as your starter then look for McNabb as a backup since Romo is off in Week 5. He also could have success in Week 8 at Carolina, which would make him a suitable replacement for Matt Ryan, Aaron Rodgers or Josh Freeman, who all have a bye that week.

Matt Hasselbeck
Old team: Seattle
New team: Tennessee
Fantasy value prior to the transaction: Not worth drafting
Fantasy value after the transaction: No. 2 quarterback
Hasselbeck was expected to remain a starter this season, but we thought he was staying with the Seahawks. He gets an improvement with the Titans since his receiving corps is better, assuming Kenny Britt doesn't get a lengthy suspension, and he benefits from moving to the AFC South, where there are some of the worst defenses in the NFL. Hasselbeck also has a better running game to help him out, but that means Chris Johnson can't have a long holdout. That said, Hasselbeck is only worth drafting with a late-round pick as a backup Fantasy quarterback. He could be useful in Week 7 against Houston when Michael Vick and Tom Brady are on a bye, so consider drafting Hasselbeck if you spend an early-round selection on Vick or Brady.

Running back

Reggie Bush
Old team: New Orleans
New team: Miami
Fantasy value prior to the transaction: Not worth drafting
Fantasy value after the transaction: No. 4 running back
The Saints had no need for Bush with Pierre Thomas coming back and the addition of Mark Ingram, and Fantasy owners were ready to give up on him all together. Now that he's in Miami, he can at least be expected to touch the ball around 10-15 times on offense. The Dolphins are going to rely on rookie Daniel Thomas to carry the load, but Bush can play on third downs and as a change-of-pace rusher. His Fantasy value is higher in leagues where receptions count, but he's still worth a late-round pick in standard leagues. Bush was never a great Fantasy option with the Saints, and he won't improve with the Dolphins. But he escaped a bad situation in New Orleans, and that can only help his outlook for 2011.

Darren Sproles
Old team: San Diego
New team: New Orleans
Fantasy value prior to the transaction: No. 4 running back
Fantasy value after the transaction: No. 4 running back
Sproles' value doesn't change too much since he will go from a receiver out of the backfield with the Chargers to replacing Bush as a receiver out of the backfield for the Saints. Sproles doesn't have much value in standard leagues, but he's worth drafting with a late-round pick in leagues where receptions count. He is third on the depth chart behind Ingram and Thomas and will have to share targets with Marques Colston, Robert Meachem, Lance Moore and Jimmy Graham. But Sproles has a proven track record with 104 receptions the past two seasons and at least 780 yards in each year.

Willis McGahee
Old team: Baltimore
New team: Denver
Fantasy value prior to the transaction: No. 4 running back
Fantasy value after the transaction: No. 3 running back
McGahee has the chance to be a key reserve running back with the Broncos since Denver's new regime under coach John Fox is not sold on Knowshon Moreno as an every-down back. We still expect Moreno to start and get the majority of carries, but Fox showed at Carolina with DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart that he likes two rushers to play in tandem. McGahee has at least five touchdowns in every season since 2004 and could also work at the goal line in Denver since he's a bigger back than Moreno. You can draft McGahee with a late-round pick, but don't be surprised if he ends up starting a game or two for you based on Moreno's injury history as well.

Tim Hightower
Old team: Arizona
New team: Washington
Fantasy value prior to the transaction: No. 4 running back
Fantasy value after the transaction: No. 4 running back
Hightower will likely remain in a similar role with the Redskins that he had with the Cardinals as a receiver out of the backfield. But he goes from one crowded situation to another. In Arizona, Hightower was expected to be third on the depth chart behind rookie Ryan Williams and Beanie Wells. In Washington, he will compete with rookie Roy Helu for the No. 2 job behind Ryan Torain. The difference with the Redskins is he will definitely play on passing downs, and the allure of coach Mike Shanahan and his history with running backs will be attractive to Fantasy owners. We recommend drafting Hightower with a late-round pick, especially in leagues where receptions count, but don't be overexcited that he's going to start and get the majority of touches.

Marion Barber
Old team: Dallas
New team: Chicago
Fantasy value prior to the transaction: Not worth drafting
Fantasy value after the transaction: No. 4 running back
Matt Forte will remain the starter and receive the majority of touches, and Barber is expected to compete with Chester Taylor for the backup spot with the Bears. Barber will likely have the chance to score some touchdowns and work on third downs, but barring an injury to Forte, you won't get much from Barber this season. Chicago needed a running back to help Forte since Taylor was a huge bust in 2010, so that's the role Barber will play. He's not worth drafting in the majority of leagues, but in deeper formats you can consider Barber as a handcuff option if you spend an early-round selection on Forte this year.

Ronnie Brown
Old team: Miami
New team: Philadelphia
Fantasy value prior to the transaction: No. 3 running back
Fantasy value after the transaction: No. 4 running back
Brown was going to change teams after the Dolphins made it clear he wasn't coming back to Miami. But we didn't expect him to land in Philadelphia with little chance to play. He will now be the backup running back to LeSean McCoy and probably have minimal touches each week. He is definitely worth drafting as a handcuff option for McCoy, but on his own he isn't going to help Fantasy owners much. Look for Brown to be drafted with a late-round pick, and the only way he will be Fantasy relevant this season is if McCoy gets injured and misses significant time.

Ricky Williams
Old team: Miami
New team: Baltimore
Fantasy value prior to the transaction: No. 4 running back
Fantasy value after the transaction: No. 4 running back
Williams joins the Ravens, where he will be the No. 2 running back behind Ray Rice. This is a good landing spot for Williams since Baltimore won't want to run Rice into the ground, and he can play behind a solid offensive line and a great blocking fullback in Vonta Leach. Rice will still get the majority of touches, but Williams is worth drafting with a late-round pick. And if you draft Rice in Round 1 then Williams projects as the handcuff option ahead of Jalen Parmele.

Wide receiver

Sidney Rice
Old team: Minnesota
New team: Seattle
Fantasy value prior to the transaction: No. 2 receiver
Fantasy value after the transaction: No. 3 receiver
Rice went for the cash grab here, and good for him in getting a five-year contract from the Seahawks for $44 million with $18.5 million guaranteed. But this move significantly hurts his Fantasy value since his quarterback will be Tarvaris Jackson, who also signed with Seattle from Minnesota. We don't see Rice getting back to the level that made him a standout Fantasy option in 2009 when he had 83 catches for 1,312 yards and eight touchdowns. He's still worth drafting as a No. 3 Fantasy wide receiver based on his potential in playing in the NFC West, but we wish Rice had a better quarterback situation than being reunited with Jackson.

Chad Ochocinco
Old team: Cincinnati
New team: New England
Fantasy value prior to the transaction: No. 4 receiver
Fantasy value after the transaction: No. 3 receiver
Ochocinco gets his wish to play with Tom Brady and for Bill Belichick, and he could be the best receiver for the Patriots. I still have him ranked behind Wes Welker, but he could move past Deion Branch and start right away. Regardless, Ochocinco will be on the field quite a bit, and he is worth drafting with a mid-round pick in all leagues. Brady won't turn Ochocinco into Randy Moss circa 2007, but he should help Ochocinco improve from his dismal stats in 2010 when he had just 67 catches for 831 yards and four touchdowns. It's a much better scenario for Ochocinco to be catching passes from Brady than an inexperienced rookie like Andy Dalton.

Steve Breaston
Old team: Arizona
New team: Kansas City
Fantasy value prior to the transaction: No. 4 receiver
Fantasy value after the transaction: No. 4 receiver
The positives for Breaston moving to the Chiefs are he's reunited with Todd Haley, who was his offensive coordinator with the Cardinals, and he has a proven quarterback in Matt Cassel. The negatives are he goes from a guaranteed starting spot in Arizona to possibly being the No. 3 receiver depending on what the Chiefs want to do with rookie Jonathan Baldwin. We still expect Breaston to be heavily involved, but he might have been better off staying in Arizona for his Fantasy value. Still, he should only be drafted with a late-round pick as a No. 4 Fantasy receiver.

Roy Williams
Old team: Dallas
New team: Chicago
Fantasy value prior to the transaction: Not worth drafting
Fantasy value after the transaction: No. 4 receiver
Williams had minimal Fantasy value if he had stayed in Dallas since he was not going to start ahead of Miles Austin or Dez Bryant. With Chicago, Williams will be reunited with Mike Martz, and he gives Jay Cutler a big target along with Johnny Knox, Earl Bennett and Devin Hester. The best production for Williams came in 2006-07 when he played for Martz in Detroit, and he had 146 catches for 2,148 yards and 12 touchdowns over those two seasons. He won't relive those days, but he is worth drafting with a late-round flier. And even though he's been terrible with the Cowboys the past two seasons he does have 12 touchdowns over that span.

Plaxico Burress
Old team: Giants
New team: Jets
Fantasy value prior to the transaction: Not worth drafting
Fantasy value after the transaction: No. 4 receiver
We would have preferred if Burress went from his two-year stint in prison back to the Giants or to Pittsburgh, which was another rumored destination. The move to the Jets is OK, but he would have been better off in a more prominent passing attack. The benefit to joining the Jets are that he is almost guaranteed a starting spot opposite Santonio Holmes with Braylon Edwards gone, and Mark Sanchez continues to develop as a quarterback. Also, Edwards had 53 catches for 904 yards and seven touchdowns last year, and someone needs to replace that production. Don't overvalue Burress based on his name recognition, but he is worth drafting with a late-round pick.

Mike Sims-Walker
Old team: Jacksonville
New team: St. Louis
Fantasy value prior to the transaction: No. 4 receiver
Fantasy value after the transaction: No. 4 receiver
Sims-Walker has shown flashes of greatness, especially in 2009 when he had 63 catches for 869 yards and seven touchdowns. But he hasn't proven to be a consistent Fantasy option, and that will continue with the Rams. He will compete for a starting spot, but the Rams already have plenty of marginal talent at receiver with Danny Amendola, Danario Alexander and Donnie Avery. St. Louis also could bring back Mark Clayton, who was a quality target for Sam Bradford before suffering a knee injury. Now, Sims-Walker could benefit playing in offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels' system, and he could improve with Bradford instead of David Garrard. If you draft Sims-Walker with a late-round pick then you're in good shape, but don't reach for him following this move.

Braylon Edwards Old team: New York Jets
New team: San Francisco
Fantasy value prior to the transaction: No. 4 wide receiver
Fantasy value after the transaction: No. 3 wide receiver
Edwards found that the free agent market was not very kind, which is why he accepted such a low offer to play with the 49ers. But he immediately becomes the No. 1 receiver in San Francisco (No. 2 target behind tight end Vernon Davis), which hurts Michael Crabtree, and he should be able to post quality stats going from the AFC East to the NFC West in what is a more pass-friendly offense than he played in with the Jets. Edwards should have plenty of motivation to succeed, and he's worth drafting with a mid-round pick this year.

Derrick Mason Old team: Baltimore
New team: New York Jets
Fantasy value prior to the transaction: No. 3 wide receiver
Fantasy value after the transaction: No. 4 wide receiver
Mason was the best receiver for the Ravens last year when he outplayed Anquan Boldin, but he's near the end of his career at 37. He goes from a starter in Baltimore to the No. 3 option in New York behind Holmes and Burress. Mason still retains value in leagues where receptions count as a low-end reserve, but he might not get drafted in standard formats with this move to the Jets. We would have rather had him stay in Baltimore for his Fantasy value.

Tight end

Greg Olsen
Old team: Chicago
New team: Carolina
Fantasy value prior to the transaction: Not worth drafting
Fantasy value after the transaction: No. 2 tight end
The Panthers are stockpiling former University of Miami tight ends by adding Olsen and Jeremy Shockey this offseason. Olsen should start ahead of Shockey, but both will be on the field together quite a bit. Olsen escapes the Martz offense, which has been bad for tight ends, and he goes to the Panthers with offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski, who should rely on Olsen as the No. 2 target in the passing game behind Steve Smith. Olsen will struggle while rookie quarterback Cam Newton learns the offense, but he should be considered a sleeper in deep leagues. And he becomes a great bye-week replacement since the move to Carolina has definitely helped his Fantasy value.

Todd Heap
Old team: Baltimore
New team: Arizona
Fantasy value prior to the transaction: Not worth drafting
Fantasy value after the transaction: No. 2 tight end
Heap doesn't get a significant bump going from the Ravens to the Cardinals, but he should become the No. 2 option in the passing game behind Fitzgerald. Heap will have to develop a rapport with Kolb, and he is now worth drafting with a late-round pick. But we'll still have the same issues with Heap that we had before -- he's injury prone and doesn't score enough (seven touchdowns in 2005 is his career high). What Heap does is he gives Fantasy owners another option at tight end with his move to Arizona, which opens the door for Ed Dickson to be considered a sleeper in deeper leagues for the Ravens.

Zach Miller
Old team: Oakland
New team: Seattle
Fantasy value prior to the transaction: No. 1 tight end
Fantasy value after the transaction: No. 2 tight end
Miller was a No. 1 Fantasy tight end with the Raiders, and he could still play at that level in 2011 with the Seahawks. But I want to see it happen first, especially with Tarvaris Jackson now as his quarterback. He does benefit from playing in the NFC West, but he has averaged just four touchdowns a year in his career. The safe option is to consider Miller a No. 2 Fantasy tight end and draft him with a late-round pick. Let him prove that this move to Seattle will help his Fantasy outlook and not hinder it because coming into the season I'm a little skeptical.

Kevin Boss
Old team: New York Giants
New team: Oakland
Fantasy value prior to the transaction: Not worth drafting
Fantasy value after the transaction: No. 2 tight end
Boss will replace Miller as the starter for the Raiders, and while he might not play at Miller's level, someone has to help the receiving corps in Oakland. Jason Campbell also has a solid history with tight ends going back to his time with Chris Cooley in Washington and Miller last year, and Boss could improve slightly with the change from the NFC East to the AFC West. He isn't worth drafting in the majority of leagues, but Boss could be a late-round flier in deep formats if you want a potential No. 2 tight end with upside.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us via Twitter @CBSFantasyFB . 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
Sammy Watkins risky in Week 1
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1:25 am ET) The Bills haven't had a bonafide No. 1 receiver since the days of Jim Kelly to Andre Reed, but rookie Sammy Watkins has the talent to be their best wide receiver since the franchise's Super Bowl era. Sure, Eric Moulds, Lee Evans and Stevie Johnson were fine, but with the right quarterback, Watkins can be special.

Unfortunately, Watkins will be catching passes from second-year signal caller EJ Manuel. The team seems to have little confidence in Manuel being the answer at quarterback just one year after drafting him in the first round last year. Kyle Orton was pulled out of retirement and handed a pricy one-year deal, and one can easily picture the scenario where he's starting games for the team in November and December.

Will Manuel respond to the job-security threat with elevated play? His best shot is to feed his star rookie early and often. Bears cornerback Charles Tillman has made a career off shutting down No. 1 receivers, but he's not the same player at 33 as he was at 25. While he was a plus in coverage as recently as 2012, Tillman struggled on the field between injuries last year. If Watkins had a top-16 quarterback delivering the ball, I'd like him for a big game in Week 1. As it is, Fantasy owners would be best holding off on starting Watkins until the quarterback situation plays itself out for better or for worse.


Fred Jackson may have trouble finding running room in Week 1
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1:04 am ET) Bills running back Fred Jackson will face a Bears team in Week 1 that did a terrible job at defending the run last season. However, his Week 1 success may not be as pre-ordained as that of running mate, C.J. Spiller.

Unlike Spiller, Jackson does much of his work without the benefit of big plays, grinding out his numbers by taking what the defense gives rather than providing a home-run threat on any down. While most of the members of the Bears back seven that was responsible for surrendering so many big plays has returned, the team has overhauled the defense line, signing three new defensive ends and drafting two rotational defensive tackles.

Two of those free-agent additions are Lamarr Houston and Willie Young, the two players that graded out as the best 4-3 defensive ends in run stop percentage last season, per Pro Football Focus. With those two players in tow and second-round draft pick Ego Ferguson taking up space in the middle, Jackson could have difficulty converting on short-yardage or goal-line situations.

It's also fair to wonder how many long scoring drives the Bills will be able to put together if Jackson and the offensive line can't stymie the line's potentially improved rush defense. EJ Manuel hasn't done enough at this point in his career to trust his ability to pick defenses apart with his arm. If the Bills have trouble finding the red zone, Jackson could wind up being a Week 1 Flex option Fantasy owners come to regret.


C.J. Spiller could ride big plays to productive Week 1
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12:39 am ET) Bills running back C.J. Spiller has feasted on big plays ever since emerging as a Fantasy weapon. In 2012, he was third in the league in breakaway percentage, a statistic tracked by Pro Football Focus that determines how much of a player's rushing yardage total is accrued on plays of at least 15 yards. Spiller topped the league in the category last season. Clearly, if he can find a seam, he has the ability to wrea havoc on a defense.

Spiller will be squaring off with the Bears on Sunday. Last season, the Bears turned in by far the worst run defense performance in the league. They surrendered 2,583 rushing yards and 5.3 yards per rush, both marks placing them last in the league. They overhauled the defensive line in the offseason as a result, drafting two rotational defensive tackles and signing three defensive ends.

But if those players can't keep Spiller bottled up at the line all game, he's a threat to break a long touchdown or two. While the Bears run defense was obviously porous as a unit, the back seven was particularly offensive, ranking last in Football Outsiders' second-level yardage and open-field yardage statistics. The Bears didn't do much to upgrade those two levels of the defense either, meaning plenty of broken tackles and long gains are there for the taking if Spiller can find a little daylight. He's a trustworthy RB2 in Week 1 and a must-use in any Flex conversations.


EJ Manuel will look to conquer road woes Sunday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12:20 am ET) Bills quarterback EJ Manuel endured what could at best be described as an uneven rookie season last year. Going 4-6 as a starter, Manuel particularly struggled on the road, where he turned in poor performances against the Jets, Browns, Steelers and Buccaneers before turning in a quality performance against the Jaguars in Week 14, his last game of the season.

Manuel opens this season on the road as well, heading to Soldier Field to take on the Bears Sunday. He'll be facing a new-look Chicago defensive line, rebuilt after the Bears defense struggled to generate a pass rush last season. Whether that pass rush can be effective could be the key to Manuel's success; the quarterback averaged 6.9 yards per attempt when under no pressure last season, but just 5.0 yards per attempt when faced with pressure.

Is there a good reason to start Manuel in Week 1? Not really. Every Fantasy team should be looking at a healthy roster heading into the beginning of the season, and there are anywhere from 14 to 20 QBs worth using over Manuel no matter the matchup. But a good performance in an unfavorable environment against a potentially improved pass rush would go a long way towards making the second-year player Fantasy relevant in 2014.


Patriots claim Don Jones off waivers
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(9/1/2014) The Patriots have been awarded safety Don Jones on waivers from the Dolphins and waived offensive lineman Chris Barker in a corresponding move.

The Patriots will likely be looking for some extra insight on their Week 1 opponent after bringing the former Dolphin into the fold. The move leaves the Patriots with six safeties on the roster.


Jets release Ellis Lankster, re-sign A.J. Edds
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(9/1/2014) The Jets released cornerback Ellis Lankster and re-signed inside linebacker A.J. Edds Monday.

Report: Chris Conte to start if medically cleared
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(9/1/2014) Bears safety Chris Conte will be the team's starting free safety in Sunday's season opener against the Bills, provided he's medically cleared to play, ESPN reports.

Conte has been locked in a position battle with rookie Brock Vereen, and despite suffering a concussion during the team's third preseason game, he's done enough to be named the starter. It wouldn't be surprising to see Vereen overtake Conte in the starting lineup, with the latter grading out as a below-average starter, according to ProFootballFocus.com, who particularly struggles in run support.


Report: Raiders going with Derek Carr over Matt Schaub
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(9/1/2014) Raiders players have been told the team will start rookie Derek Carr over veteran Matt Schaub at quarterback, reports Fox Sports. Carr threw three touchdown passes in last Thursday's preseason finale while Schaub has battled elbow problems.

Oakland opens the season Sunday at the Jets.


Emmanuel Sanders a strong flex option Week 1
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(9/1/2014) Assuming Wes Welker returns from his concussion and plays Week 1, teammate Emmanuel Sanders still will be a strong flex option. Colts-Broncos is a guaranteed shootout -- the over/under is a whopping 55, highest on the board -- and Peyton Manning can support three productive Fantasy receivers with ease.

Plus, Manning has taken a liking to Sanders. When Sanders debuted in the third preseason game, the duo hooked up for 67- and 29-yard touchdowns in the first half.

"You just throw it as far as you can, and it's hard to outthrow that guy," Manning told the team's website.

Sanders finished with five catches for 128 yards on eight first-half targets, doing most of that before Welker got concussed. Sanders was not 100 percent for that game; he had just come back from a quad injury.

Now Sanders, who started building chemistry with Manning at informal Duke University workouts, "looks ready for the big stage," the website said.

"Peyton puts it on the money," Sanders said. "He takes pride in throwing the perfect football. He takes pride in being perfect all around, in general. He makes my job easy."

Manning is going to help Sanders reach a level he has not hit before, starting Sunday night.

Redskins complete practice squad
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(9/1/2014) The Redskins filled out their 10-man practice squad by signing safety Akeem Davis and linebacker Chaz Sutton, reports the Washington Post.

 
 
 
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