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2011 Draft Prep: Jackson will crack the Top 10

Senior Fantasy Writer
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Mike Tolbert is excited to see all the Chargers back together again. That's because Vincent Jackson is back on the field.

Tolbert said Jackson is poised to have a big year, and we agree. The prediction is Jackson will finish the season as a Top 10 Fantasy wide receiver.

"You can't ask for a better weapon," Tolbert said in a recent phone interview. "He basically takes away the defense on one side of the field. You have to respect his ability."

Now, it might seem obvious that Jackson will be a Top 10 wide receiver. After all, his Average Draft Position is the No. 7 receiver off the board, and he's being selected in Round 3 at No. 28 overall.

But Jackson has only one Top 10 finish as a Fantasy receiver, and that was in 2009. In 2008, he was No. 12. Last year could have been his best season, but we all remember what happened with his contract.

Jackson missed the first 10 games of last season due to a contract dispute. When he returned, he struggled with injuries and finished with just 14 catches for 248 yards and three touchdowns – with all three of his scores coming in Week 15 against San Francisco.

This year, Jackson is playing under the franchise tag, but he appears to be happy. He still has the motivation for a new contract, and it looks like he's going to have a tremendous season.

"Absolutely, it's great to be here, to get a full camp, get a full season," Jackson said in USA Today. "I definitely wanted to be here last year on time. Unfortunately, this business forces our hand sometimes. I don't think anybody really benefited from the situation, but it's past. We're moving forward now. I still consider this organization home to me. It's a great relationship here, and I would love to spend my career here."

Like Tolbert, coach Norv Turner is looking forward to Jackson being back for a full year.

"Vincent Jackson being here at the start, being here for training camp, being here for the start of the season, it's big to me, because he obviously is one of the best big-play receivers in this league," Turner said. "He's good at a lot of other things, too, but big plays change games dramatically."

Jackson is your typical big-play receiver, which is why his value is slightly lower in leagues where receptions count. He's never going to catch a lot of passes, but the hope is he scores a lot of touchdowns. He's also not someone who sees a lot of targets.

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In 2009, Jackson had 68 catches for 1,167 yards and nine touchdowns on 107 targets. In 2008, he had 59 catches for 1,098 yards and seven touchdowns on 101 targets. The Chargers don't need to throw his way often for him to be successful.

What we like about Jackson is where he's being drafted. A good strategy to use is if you pick early in Round 1 you should take an elite running back like Arian Foster, Adrian Peterson, Ray Rice or Jamaal Charles. In Round 2, you should be looking at a receiver like Larry Fitzgerald (ADP is No. 22 overall) or Hakeem Nicks (ADP is No. 25 overall). Then early in Round 3 you can take Jackson, and your team should be set for a championship run.

Whether or not Jackson does enough this season to get a new contract from the Chargers remains to be seen. But we're confident that he will do enough to help your Fantasy team be successful. He's back and committed to playing well, and we're all excited about that.

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 and on Facebook .

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Player News
Eagles release starting CB Cary Williams
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(11:53 am ET) The Eagles released cornerback Cary Williams, who started all 32 games during his two-year tenure in Philly. Williams recorded 127 tackles, five interceptions and 24 passes defensed since joining the Eagles.

Williams, 30, was scheduled to make $6.5 million this season with a cap hit of $8.1 million.

>> Want more NFL offseason? >> Mock drafts | Free agency tracker


Falcons sign LB Nate Stupar to one-year deal
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(11:30 am ET) The Falcons signed linebacker Nate Stupar, a special teams standout, to a one-year extension for the minimum, $585,000, reports ESPN.com. Stupar ranked second on the team with nine special teams tackles, seven solo, while appearing in 15 games last season.

Report: WR Torrey Smith likely gone unless he gives discount
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(10:39 am ET) It's unlikely the Ravens will re-sign receiver Torrey Smith unless he gives the team a hometown discount, reports the Baltimore Sun. Owner Steve Bisciotti recently expressed pessimism about the team's chances of retaining Smith.

Smith, 26, caught a career-high 11 touchdowns last season.


Report: Ray Rice received $1.6 million in wrongful termination case
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(10:09 am ET) The Ravens and former running back Ray Rice settled his wrongful termination grievance in January for $1.588 million, sources told the Baltimore Sun. The financial details were not disclosed until now.

In the grievance, Rice had sought $3.529 million in back pay. The Ravens cut him Sept. 8, hours after the release of a video showing Rice knocking out his then-fiancee in a casino elevator.

Rice hasn't visited any NFL teams, but he's working out regularly and hoping to latch on with a team this season, the paper said.


WR Brian Hartline visiting Browns
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(9:48 am ET) Free agent wideout Brian Hartline, who's spent his entire six-year career with Miami, is visiting the Browns on Tuesday, reports Pro Football Talk. Hartline posted 1,000-yard seasons in 2012 and 2013 before dipping to 474 receiving yards last season.

He's never caught more than four touchdowns in a season.


Saints S Jairus Byrd close to 100 percent after knee surgery
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(9:27 am ET) Saints safety Jairus Byrd, who underwent surgery in early October to fix torn meniscus, is on schedule in his rehab, coach Sean Payton told The Advocate.

“He’s doing well," Payton told the paper. "He’ll be cleared for minicamp. We’re really looking at about two or three weeks away from him being 100 percent.”

Byrd had 22 tackles and a forced fumble in four games last season.


Sean Payton hopeful about retaining RB Mark Ingram
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(9:18 am ET) Despite the fact that New Orleans is $22 million above the salary cap, Saints coach Sean Payton expressed optimism about the team's chances of re-signing free agent running back Mark Ingram, per The Advocate.

“I spoke with him today," Payton told the paper Monday nght. "The good thing about Mark is that we’re real close with his agent. We work a lot with Joel (Segal). [GM] Mickey [Loomis] will talk with him quite a bit. Obviously he’s someone that we want to keep. Hopefully we can do that.”

In 13 games last season, Ingram ran for 964 yards and nine touchdowns while catching 29 passes for 145 yards.

According to NFL.com, it's unlikely the Saints can afford to bring back Ingram.


Patriots' Devin McCourty: There's a 'chance that I might not be back'
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(3/2/2015) With the Patriots deciding to use their franchise tag on kicker Stephen Gostkowski, safety Devin McCourty knows his time in New England could be coming to an end. 

In an interview with ESPN's Josina Anderson, McCourty said he didn't have much information on what the Patriots would do and was going off of various media reports that came down to the organization deciding whether to franchise him or Gostkowski. 

Now that Gostkowski is ineligible from hitting the free agent market, McCourty will test the waters beginning on March 10. 

"I guess it's more realistic now that [there's] a chance that I might not be back there," McCourty said. "Or there's still a chance that I will, but I guess [there's] more of a chance now with the franchise tag going to Steve that I could be playing in a different place. Still, keeping an open mind and trying to enjoy the process."

In 2014, McCourty recorded 68 tackles and two interceptions. 


Report: Texans' Andre Johnson given permission to seek trade
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(3/2/2015) Wide receiver Andre Johnson has been given permission by the Texans to seek a trade, according to a report from the Houston Chronicle

The Texans told Johnson that he'd have a reduced role this upcoming season opposite of DeAndre Hopkins. Therefore, Johnson wanted out of his deal. If a trade cannot be made with a suitor, Johnson will be released

Johnson was the third overall pick in the 2003 NFL draft and is the greatest player in the history of the Texans. He's recorded 1,012 catches, 13,597 yards and 64 touchdowns in his career.

A trade could be difficult, however, based on Johnson's upcoming $16.1 million cap figure and $10.5 million base salary for the 2015 season. 


Colts RB Vick Ballard (Achilles) 'on schedule' with recovery
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(3/2/2015) Running back Vick Ballard is poised to be back in the Colts' plans for the 2015 season. 

Ballard, who has missed almost all of the previous two seasons due to injuries, hasn't suffered any setbacks with his recovery, according to the Colts' official website. Ballard tore his ACL in 2013 and suffered an Achilles tear before the 2014 season. 

“Vick’s doing well. He’s going through rehab right now. He’s on schedule,” Colts coach Chuck Pagano said. "He’s been working his tail. When the doctors say he’s 100 percent and ready to roll, then we’ll get him back on the field.”

Ballard led the Colts in rushing as a rookie in 2012 with 814 yards and two touchdowns. He only played in one game in 2013 before tearing his ACL in a practice the following week. His Achilles tear came during the 2014 preseason. 


 
 
 
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