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2011 Draft Prep: Don't count out Collie

Senior Fantasy Writer
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I'm afraid for Austin Collie's long-term health. After watching him take those vicious hits last season and suffer multiple concussions, I'm worried about his future if he gets hit in the head again.

But I'm not afraid of Collie for my Fantasy team. In fact, I want him in as many leagues as possible. The prediction here is Collie will return as a starting Fantasy option in 2011, and you should draft him as a Top 24 receiver as early as Round 5.

Let's start with the facts. With the way the NFL views concussions, no team would allow Collie back on the field after what happened to him last year unless he was OK. And the Colts medical staff has cleared Collie at 100 percent. He's also wearing a new helmet designed to help him avoid another concussion.

If the Colts say he is OK, and he said he feels fine, you should have faith in him as well. I understand the hesitation considering if he suffers another concussion he could be out, and it's a reasonable concern. But does that mean you're staying away from every injury-risk player?

Look at all the different draft boards, and you'll find that many of the top players have injury concerns, from Michael Vick to Antonio Gates. Even Aaron Rodgers could be considered a concussion risk since he suffered two just last year.

But you're drafting Rodgers because he's expected to play 16 games, and you should do the same with Collie. Just look at the way he played last year prior to getting hurt.

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Collie was the No. 1 Fantasy receiver through the first six weeks in 2010 when he had 44 catches for 503 yards and six touchdowns over that span. He averaged nearly eight targets a game, which makes him a Top 15 receiver in terms of targets per game from last year. By comparison, Reggie Wayne averaged 11 targets a game, Dallas Clark averaged nine and Pierre Garcon averaged seven.

It's clear that Peyton Manning relies on Collie quite a bit even with a talented receiving corps full of other options. You can even argue that Collie would have finished with more Fantasy points than Wayne had Collie stayed healthy. Wayne had 111 catches for 1,355 yards and six touchdowns for the season. If you project Collie's stats from the first six games for a full year, he would have finished with 112 catches for 1,341 yards and 16 touchdowns.

Now, you're not drafting Collie ahead of Wayne, but Collie should move up on your draft board. His Average Draft Position is the No. 27 Fantasy receiver in Round 8. He's being drafted after receivers like Steve Johnson, Brandon Lloyd, Sidney Rice and Garcon, and I would rather have Collie over all of those receivers.

There's definitely some risk in drafting Collie this year. But as long as he stays healthy and avoids another concussion he should return as a standout Fantasy option in all leagues.

Zegura's Fantasy facts ...
Our Nathan Zegura shares his take on Austin Collie
Austin Collie: I caught a lot of flack for ranking Collie ahead of Pierre Garcon in 2010, but the numbers don't lie: Collie is the second best wide receiver on that team (don't tell Reggie Wayne, but Collie is probably the best). After an incredibly impressive rookie year in which Collie caught 60 passes for 676 yards and seven TDs, I was pumped to see what he could do in Year Two. After all, Peyton Manning is as smart as they come and Collie had the seventh best target conversion rate in the league as a rookie (66.7 percent) in addition to finishing Top 10 in Red Zone TD rate at 29 percent. To me, that spelled more chances for Collie in his sophomore season and that is exactly what he got. In 2010, Collie saw his targets per game rise to 8 (from 5.6 -- again Peyton is a smart guy) and he turned in an even better set of metrics. He led the NFL with an 80.6 percent target conversion rate, averaged 9 yards per target and dominated in the Red Zone with a 55.6 percent Red Zone TD rate (best among the 66 receivers with at least nine Red Zone chances). In other words, there was no more efficient receiver in the NFL than Collie, who totaled 58 catches for 649 yards and eight scores in only nine games. Collie was a Top 3 Fantasy scorer on a per game basis last year and if it weren't for the concussion issues, he would have been Top 10 for sure at the end of the year. Headed into his third season, the sky is the limit for Collie if he can stay healthy, and yes that is a big if. Collie is one hit away from another concussion and at some point his health and his future quality of life will become a legit and very serious concern. However, when he is on the field, Collie has Manning's trust every bit as much as Wayne or Dallas Clark and he will get plenty of opportunities to make plays week in and week out. If Collie can play 16 games he will be a Top 10 performer because I have never seen metrics like his as long as I have been covering Fantasy Football. Bottom Line: Collie is a great No. 3 wide receiver for your teams because he has legit Top 10 potential and as the 27th receiver taken in drafts, you can survive if you get a shortened season from him. He is so efficient that he is literally the perfect receiver for Manning and I expect this to be one of the most potent hookups in the NFL again in 2011.
Nathan Zegura provides Fantasy Football analysis at thefantasyconsultant.com and will contribute to CBSSports.com throughout the 2011 Fantasy season.

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 .

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Player News
Bears' Trestman will talk to Jimmy Clausen before naming starter
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(11:43 am ET) Bears coach Marc Trestman said Monday morning on WBBM Newsradio 780 that he'll talk to Jimmy Clausen before naming a starter for Sunday's season finale against Minnesota, CBS Chicago reports.

Clausen earned his first start since his rookie year with the Panthers in 2010. He compiled 181 yards while completing 22 of 39 passes. He added two touchdowns and one interception in a 20-14 defeat to Detroit.

"We'll talk about it today," Bears coach Marc Trestman said. "I thought he had a good performance. He needed some help. He didn't get it -- had a few drops along the way, had a couple missed assignments up front in the running game, where we could've had a little bit more yardage. But I thought he handled himself (well), for two practices and having not played (much) for four years. It was certainly a good performance."

Chicago is currently a 6 1/2-point underdog at Minnesota.


Eagles coach Chip Kelly: Mark Sanchez is our quarterback Week 17
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(11:32 am ET) Eagles coach Chip Kelly said on Sportsradio 94WIP in Philadelphia that he'll start Mark Sanchez against the Giants in Week 17, per Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia.

Sanchez has been picked off 10 times since taking over as the starter in Week 9. He threw a costly interception at the end of Saturday's 27-24 defeat to Washington that ruined Philadelphia's postseason hopes. The Eagles won't rush Nick Foles back from a collarbone injury now that Philadelphia was officially eliminated following Dallas' win over Indianapolis on Sunday.

"Mark's our quarterback, and I thought Mark played a really good game [Saturday]," Kelly said. "He goes 37 of 50, he was 36 of 49 before that last pass.

"I'm sure he wants that pass back, everybody wants that pass back, but I think Mark played a good game and we'll continue to go with Mark."

Philadelphia is a 4-point favorite at N.Y. Giants.


Report: Cardinals won't release WR Fitzgerald
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(11:21 am ET) Cardinals Pro Bowl wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald will not be cut, as some expect due to the team's salary cap issues, a source has told Pro Football Talk.

Fitzgerald has a cap number of $23.6 million for 2015. He could be traded or have his deal restructured. He could also decide to negotiate an extension.

Few non-quarterbacks have cap numbers anywhere near $20 million. Committing that much to a fading Fitzgerald, who hasn't totaled more than 34 yards receiving in his last four games, could prove disastrous. But the Cardinals are apparently willing to take that chance.

Fitzgerald has also been victimized this year and in recent seasons by inconsistent quarterback play.


Lions RB Joique Bell was benched for 'violation of team rules'
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(11:12 am ET) Lions coach Jim Caldwell told reporters that running back Joique Bell was suspended for the first quarter of Sunday's 20-14 victory over Chicago for what he deemed "violation of team rules," reports ESPN.

Bell took a backseat to Reggie Bush early on before emerging late in the second half. After logging only three carries in the first half, Bell finished the game with 74 yards on 13 attempts and a 17-yard score midway through the fourth quarter that gave Detroit the lead to stay. 

Detroit is a 7 1/2-point underdog at Green Bay in Week 17. The Lions have a 22-game losing streak at Lambeau Field, an NFL record for most consecutive road losses against a single opponent. The winner will clinch the NFC North title.


Bears K Robbie Gould shuts down for season finale
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(11:03 am ET) Bears kicker Robbie Gould told WSCR 670 AM radio in Chicago he'll sit out the final game of the season because of a nagging right quadriceps injury, reports the Chicago Tribune. Gould converted 9 of 12 field goal attempts, adding 28 extra points. Jay Feely will take over as the starter for the fourth consecutive game.

Report: NFL will review Dominic Raiola's ankle stomp
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(10:51 am ET) The NFL will review Lions center Dominic Raiola's action during the third quarter of Detroit's 20-14 victory over Chicago, according to ESPN.

After walking away from a pile, Raiola was caught on camera stepping on Chicago defensive lineman Ego Ferguson's ankle. Following the game, he told reporters his actions were "not intentional."

"It was totally unintentional," Raiola said. "I remember I was stumbling out. I didn't see the end of it. I apologized at the end of the game, told him it was unintentional and we shook hands and that was it."

Raiola got slapped with a $10,000 fine for cut block in the final minute of a Week 12 loss to New England and could be in line for a heftier fine this time around. The league will likely make an announcement before Detroit's Week 17 showdown at Green Bay.


Browns' Johnny Manziel: 'I want to be the guy' next season
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(10:03 am ET) Browns rookie quarterback Johnny Manziel could be in danger of missing Sunday's season finale against Baltimore, reports Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.

Manziel completed 3 of 8 passes for 32 yards before exiting the second quarter of Sunday's 17-13 loss to the Panthers with a hamstring injury. Following the game, Manziel began making a case for the starting job next season during the postgame press conference.

"I want to be the guy," Manziel said. "That's what I want to do and that's what I want to be for this organization, so for me, if anything, this has motivated me more to head into this offseason."

Manziel has only led his team to two scoring drives out of 15 tries this season. Coach Mike Pettine will likely reveal the severity of his injury on Monday. If Manziel is unable to play, Brian Hoyer will get the start against the Ravens.

Cleveland is currently a 7-point underdog at Baltimore.


Falcons S William Moore slated for MRI on injured shoulder
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(9:44 am ET) Falcons safety William Moore will undergo an MRI on Monday to determine the extent of his injured shoulder, reports ESPN. Moore separated his shoulder in Week 4 and appear to have aggravated the injury after playing 41 snaps against New Orleans on Sunday.

At this point his status remains uncertain for the regular-season finale against Carolina. Atlanta is currently a 3 1/2-point home favorite against Carolina, according to Vegas Insider. The winner will advance to the postseason.


Report: Quad injury won't keep Falcons' Steven Jackson out Week 17
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(9:21 am ET) The quad injury Falcons running back Steven Jackson suffered in Sunday's 30-14 victory over the Saints in Week 16 is not believed to be serious, reports Vaughn McClure of ESPN.

Jackson left the game in the second quarter and was ruled out early in the third. He finished with four carries for 9 yards and one catch for 14 yards. Although coach Mike Smith didn't share many details on Jackson's injury, McClure reports that the veteran back will return to the starting lineup come Week 17 against Carolina.

Atlanta is currently a 3 1/2-point home favorite against Carolina, according to Vegas Insider. The winner will advance to the postseason.


QB struggles begin to impact Cardinals DST
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(2:13 am ET) The Cardinals DST scored just one Fantasy point in standard CBSSports.com leagues Week 16 against Seattle, interrupting a stretch of 10 games in which it averaged 15.1, and the Cardinals' offensive woes may have had something to do with it.

Specifically, they've been unable to find a decent quarterback since losing Carson Palmer to injury in Week 10. Backup Drew Stanton at least mounted some kind of threat, but with him sidelined by a sprained knee in Week 16, the Cardinals had to turn to third-stringer Ryan Lindley. He turned the ball over twice without once leading his team into the end zone, completing less than half of his passes in the process.

The quick trips back to the sideline gave the Seahawks more chances to pile up points and yards, and they did, finishing with 35 and 596. Only one other time have the Cardinals allowed more than 30 points in a game, and the 596 yards were a season high. Worse yet, they were lacking in big plays, recording one sack with no takeaways.

Fortunately, the Cardinals will take on a struggling 49ers offense in Week 17, so even if Lindley is back under center, the DST at least has a chance of a respectable performance. Still, if you've been relying on it all season, you might want to make sure there isn't an appealing matchups play on the waiver wire.


 
 
 
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