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2011 Draft Prep: Best will be among the best

Senior Fantasy Writer
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Everyone is excited about the Lions this year and for obvious reasons. Their franchise quarterback, Matthew Stafford, looks poised for a big season, and the defense could be a force behind Ndamukong Suh.

But for as much optimism as there is for Stafford and the offense, CBS analyst Steve Beuerlein said the Lions will only go as far as their running game. And that's where Jahvid Best comes in.

He has the potential to help the Lions become a respectable team this year and possibly a playoff contender. And if he plays to his ability then he will be a standout Fantasy option, which is something we expect to happen.

The prediction here is Best will be a Top 15 Fantasy running back in 2011. There is too much talent to overlook even with some potential red flags.

If you go back to last year, Best was the No. 1 Fantasy rookie rusher ahead of LeGarrette Blount, Ryan Mathews and C.J. Spiller. He finished as the No. 23 Fantasy running back overall in standard leagues.

But Best didn't have the best rookie campaign. He struggled with turf toe for most of the season and finished with 171 carries for 555 yards and four touchdowns and 58 catches for 487 yards and two touchdowns.

Taking a further look, Best averaged just 3.2 yards per carry, had zero 100-yard rushing games and went 13 games in a row without a rushing touchdown. I'm going to chalk up the negative performances to the turf toe, which he sustained in Week 3 at Minnesota.

In his first two games, Best had 268 total yards and five touchdowns, and that's the running back I expect to see this year. The Lions have no other choice but to rely on him, and he feels healthy with his toe and following a concussion he sustained in the preseason.

Detroit didn't want to be all in on Best. The Lions drafted rookie Mikel Leshoure to split carries, but Leshoure is out for the season after suffering a ruptured Achilles' tendon. Now, Best will carry a heavy load.

He isn't going to be a dominant runner between the tackles, but he doesn't have to be. His receiving skills will definitely be on display, and his ability to catch passes out of the backfield will help offset any deficiencies on Detroit's offensive line.

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Best had 80 targets last season, which was No. 4 among running backs behind LeSean McCoy (90 targets), Arian Foster (84) and Ray Rice (82). Best's targets should rise, and he had six games in 2010 with at least five catches. He should be viewed as a similar talent to McCoy, and Best should be excellent in leagues where receptions count.

My projections for Best are 188 carries for 904 yards and five touchdowns and 52 catches for 403 yards and three touchdowns. That comes out to 178 Fantasy points, and last year that would put him as the No. 14 running back in standard leagues.

Look, I can understand why you'd be skeptical of Best in standard Fantasy leagues. There's injury risk following the toe injury last year and the concussion history (he also had one in college at Cal). But an NFL talent scout once told me you should "not let injury confuse you as to who the player is." And Best is a special player.

His Average Draft Position is the No. 20 running back at No. 48 overall in Round 4, and here's a strategy you can use with Best on Draft Day. It's an approach I've used several times.

If you're picking toward the end of Round 1 and have the chance at two of the Top 3 wide receivers in Andre Johnson, Calvin Johnson or Roddy White then you should take them with your first two picks. Then when it comes back to you in Round 3 and 4 you need to get two good running backs with upside.

You'll be looking at a group of Shonn Greene, DeAngelo Williams, Knowshon Moreno, Best, Felix Jones or Mark Ingram based on their ADP. I usually target two out of Greene, Best, Jones or Ingram. Then in Round 5, you can look at another running back to cover yourself like Beanie Wells, Mike Tolbert or Tim Hightower and still get a quarterback in Round 6 like Ben Roethlisberger, Josh Freeman or Matthew Stafford.

In Round 7 you can look at tight end with Kellen Winslow, Jimmy Graham or Greg Olsen. And in Round 8 you can get your No. 3 receiver in Julio Jones, Kenny Britt or Santana Moss.

I'd be happy with a core lineup of Roethlisberger at quarterback, Greene, Best and Hightower at running back, Calvin Johnson, White and Moss at wide receiver and Graham at tight end. And Best is someone I would start in Week 1 at Tampa Bay with confidence.

If he stays healthy, Best will post quality stats this season. And by the end of the year he will be a Top 15 Fantasy running back.

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
LB Chaz Sutton added to practice squad by Titans
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(12:31 pm ET) The Titans have added rookie outside linebacker Chaz Sutton to their practice squad. He had been released by the Redskins in early September.

Giants safety Antrel Rolle excused from practice Wednesday
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(12:31 pm ET) Giants safety Antrel Rolle was excused from practice Wednesday due to personal reasons. The Giants will play the Jaguars in Week 13.

Lewis: Bengals LB Burfict could return to practice this week
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(12:24 pm ET) A knee injury that has prevented Bengals LB Vontaze Burfict from playing since Oct. 26 has him out of practice again Wednesday. But Marvin Lewis has stated that he could return to a session later this week.

Burfict contributed to 29 tackles in five games before going down. Only a quick and successful return this week would give him a chance to playing more than on a limited basis Sunday at Tampa Bay.


Gruden: Colt McCoy to start Week 13, RG3 will be backup QB
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(12:10 pm ET) Redskins coach Jay Gruden confirmed in a conference call with Colts reporters Wednesday quarterback Robert Griffin III has been benched in favor of Colt McCoy for Sunday's game at Indianapolis. Gruden added Griffin will be the backup quarterback Week 13. 

"Colt (McCoy) is going to start this week at quarterback. I felt like he deserved a bit of a promotion," Gruden said.

McCoy will be facing a Colts defense yielding 249.4 passing yards per game. Indianapolis has also allowed 18 passing touchdowns, while recording nine interceptions and 28 sacks in 11 games.


Steelers CB Ike Taylor relieved now that he's back
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(11:52 am ET) Steelers veteran cornerback Ike Taylor has admitted at getting antsy over when he would return to action after missing eight games to a broken forearm. He is back at practice and should play Sunday against New Orleans.

"The first thing I thought about was how long until I get back," Taylor told the team website. "The first thing I asked the doctors was about the two long plates in my arm. He said you just broke your forearm, what do you know about the plates? I am not a doctor, but I stayed at a Holiday Inn. At the same time that is how it is. That's my mind frame, how long it's going to take to get back."

Taylor added, however, that he never feared the injury was career-threatening.


Pettine: Incident would not bench Browns QB Manziel
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(11:32 am ET) An incident early Saturday morning involving Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel, which prompted general manager Ray Farmer to criticize him for being out so late, will not prevent Mike Pettine from playing him if needed.

"Unless something unforeseen comes up, just given what I know, it would not have an impact on any decision to play him," Pettine told the Northeast Ohio Media Group.

Barring an injury to starter Brian Hoyer, who has guided the team to a 7-4 record and playoff contention despite personal inconsistencies, such a circumstance is unlikely to occur. Pettine said he "never considered" playing Manziel at all in Week 12 in Atlanta. But the coach did address the current situation with Manziel, who allegedly struck a man who claimed to be a big Browns fans and asked for a hug.

Manziel's party is claiming that he was accosted.

"I've had a talk with Johnny, as has (Farmer)," Pettine said. "I mean, he was very upfront and notivied us immediately what had occurred. But as far as in the building, he's been a true professional, he's done everything that's been asked of him - but obviously this is something that's unfortunate."


Giants holding three out of practice Wed., three others limited
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(11:19 am ET) Giants coach Tom Coughlin said defensive lineman Mathias Kiwanuka (knee), guard Adam Snyder (knee) and linebacker Jameel McClain (knee) will not practice Wednesday. He added linebacker Jacquian Williams (concussion, shoulder), offensive tackle Justin Pugh (quadriceps) and defensive lineman Cullen Jenkins (calf) will be limited to individual drills.

The Giants are preparing to play the Jaguars in Week 13.


Browns WR Gordon feels alienated by some in organization
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(11:15 am ET) Browns All-Pro wideout Josh Gordon told friend and fellow receiver Nate Burleson in an interview for NFL Network that he has felt alienated by some in the organization since being suspended for 10 games for violating the league's drug policy.

Gordon returned to action in Week 12 to catch eight passes for 120 yards and key a critical victory in Atlanta.

"The lowest point of all this I think was the disassociation from a lot of friends you thought were close or you thought were kind of cool with really not checking on you anymore, [not] hitting you up anymore, [not] wanting to hang out," Gordon said. "As far as even people in here (with the Browns), I don't want to throw names around, but I can see it.

"I'm definitely really observant so I see how people might just be more standoffish (than) they were before. It's kind of like a disease. People they want to see it, but they don't really want to touch it."

Gordon and the Browns are at Buffalo on Sunday.


Giants WR Odell Beckham (back) will not be limited in practice
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(11:12 am ET) Giants coach Tom Coughlin said wide receiver Odell Beckham will practice in full Wednesday. Beckham injured his back Sunday against the Cowboys, but was able to return to the game.

Beckham will aim for his fourth 100-yard performance in his last five games Week 13 at Jacksonville. Beckham has totaled 31 catches for 503 yards and two touchdowns in four November games. The Jaguars are yielding 257.5 passing yards per game, which is the sixth-highest average in the NFL, and have allowed 19 passing touchdowns in 11 games.


Bears LB Lance Briggs might be out 'a few weeks' due to injury
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(10:28 am ET) Bears linebacker Lance Briggs said Tuesday night during a television interview the groin injury he suffered Week 12 against the Bucs could sideline him for "maybe a few weeks," per The Chicago Tribune

Briggs' comment contradicts coach Marc Trestman's statement Tuesday that Briggs is considered a game-time decision for Thursday's contest against the Lions.

Briggs said he was injured Sunday while trying to jam Bucs wide receiver Mike Evans on a short passing route.

"I think I somehow got locked in on him," Briggs said. "I got twerked a little bit and pulled out. It kind of felt like I did the splits. When I fell and tried to get up, I knew something was wrong."


 
 
 
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