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Four Quarters: Life after Charles

Michael Hurcomb
Fantasy Writer
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Since I don't want to incur the cost of sending a sympathy card to the millions of Jamaal Charles owners around the world, I will let my Four Quarters column act as my medium to deliver my deepest condolences to those people who suffered the Fantasy Football kiss of death -- losing your first-round pick.

I've been there, and I'm still there. I own Charles, who suffered a torn ACL on Sunday, in a 12-team standard league, and I'm fortunate enough to have Cedric Benson and Darren Sproles on my roster as potential replacements. But Fantasy Football is still one of those sports where it's very tough to lose a first-round pick to injury or have a first-round bust because the chances of finding a equal replacement on waivers is unlikely.

Arian Foster was a steal off waivers in 2010, and we can only hope another Foster appears this season since losing Charles is going to sting.

The obvious move for Charles owners is to put a waiver claim in for Chiefs running backs Thomas Jones or Dexter McCluster. Although, the only caveat in CBSSports.com leagues is that McCluster is WR-eligible only, so keep that in mind. But I still would consider adding McCluster because if he does emerge as the Chiefs' top back, then you could end up with being able to start a running back at wide receiver, and that could definitely end up paying dividends down the road.

As for other options to consider, look at Danny Woodhead (owned 79 percent of leagues), Michael Bush (79 percent), C.J. Spiller (74 percent), Ronnie Brown (55 percent), Ricky Williams (53 percent), Deji Karim (43 percent), DeMarco Murray (36 percent), Delone Carter (32 percent), Roy Helu (31 percent), Isaac Redman (26 percent) and Javon Ringer (26 percent).

I know the uphill battle you face to stay in contention in your Fantasy leagues, but what's done is done. It's time to move on.

First Quarter -- Surprise of the Week

Raiders rookie receiver Denarius Moore stepped into the starting lineup Week 2 against the Bills because of injuries to Jacoby Ford, Louis Murphy and Darius Heyward-Bey. Moore stepped up with 146 yards and one touchdown -- a 50-yarder -- on five catches. He also had a 25-yard rush. The rookie definitely earned his way into more playing time, but keep in mind he might lose targets once the Raiders start to get healthy again at receiver ... Bengals rookie quarterback Andy Dalton shook off a Week 1 wrist injury to pass for 332 yards and two scores against Denver ... 35-year-old Matt Hasselbeck had the 22nd 300-yard passing game of his career against Baltimore and now has 621 passing yards through two games ... Dolphins rookie running back Daniel Thomas showed Sunday in his NFL debut why he is a legit rookie-of-the-year candidate by rushing for 107 yards. Be nervous Reggie Bush owners ... Willis McGahee proved he still has enough left in the tank to be a featured back, rushing for 101 yards on 28 carries with Knowshon Moreno out due to injury ... Wide receiver Eric Decker came to the Broncos' rescue in Week 2 with Brandon Lloyd inactive and Eddie Royal getting hurt, totaling 113 yards and two scores on five catches.

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Second Quarter -- Duds of the Week

Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel is already showing he misses the play calling of Charlie Weis, who is now in the college ranks. Cassel was awful in Week 1 and showed no improvement in Week 2, tossing three interceptions against Detroit ... Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch has been another two-week headache for Fantasy owners. His 11-yard output in Week 2 makes the 94 percent of Lynch owners wonder when are they ever going to start this guy? ... Bears wide receiver Devin Hester caught just one of his nine targets in a loss against the Saints and Colts wide receiver Austin Collie caught three of 10 targets against the Browns. It was even worse for Jets receiver Plaxico Burress, who didn't record a catch on two targets ... Packers wide receiver James Jones voiced his displeasure during the week about his role on offense after a one-catch opener. Well, I can't wait to see what he says after a one-catch Week 2 ... Panthers running back DeAngelo Williams gained 13 yards on five carries and is averaging 2.5 yards per carry through two games.

Third Quarter -- Injury Report

The other big injury of the week was Eagles quarterback Michael Vick sustaining a concussion. You have to figure his status for Week 3 is going to be a big topic this week ... Texans running back Arian Foster made his 2011 debut Sunday against Miami, but it lasted just one half as his hamstring injury flared up again ... Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo didn't start the second half Sunday because of a fractured rib, but he eventually returned to lead Dallas to an overtime win. Unfortunately, it wasn't all good news for Dallas. Wide receiver Miles Austin had a big game against San Francisco, but he aggravated a nagging hamstring injury while running back Felix Jones suffered a shoulder injury that could keep him out moving forward. Tight end Jason Witten sustained bruised ribs, but he played through the injury and will be OK ... Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez bowed out Sunday against the Chargers with a knee injury and was seen limping badly leaving the locker room ... Malcom Floyd's hot start against the Patriots was sidelined because of a groin injury ... Broncos wide receiver Eddie Royal also sustained a groin injury Week 2 ... 49ers wide receiver Braylon Edwards exited Sunday with a knee injury.

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Fourth Quarter -- Early Look Ahead

Houston and New Orleans will do battle at 1 p.m. on Sunday, a game that's going to feature two high-powered offenses. There could be a lot of Fantasy points racked up in that game ... The Bills dropped 41 points on the Chiefs in Week 1 and the Lions dropped 48 points on the Chiefs in Week 2. San Diego awaits K.C. in Week 3, so make sure to get your Chargers players active ... The first Bears/Packers game will take place in Week 3. It's worth pointing out that all three games last season -- including the NFC Championship -- were low-scoring, tightly-contested games. Chicago won the first meeting, 20-17, while Green Bay took the last two, 10-3 and 21-14.

Overtime -- Q and A

Even though Titus Young is the third receiver in Detroit, does he warrant a watch or pick up this week? -- Kevin J. (via @CBSFantasyFB)

MH: I wouldn't add Young at this time. Most of his yards (89) came on two big catches, so if he doesn't catch the deep ball, then his numbers won't be impressive.

Does Kenny Britt have a chance to be a top 5 Fantasy wide receiver? -- Alec Hurd (via @CBSFantasyFB)

MH: Without a doubt. I covered the Titans game on Sunday and Tennessee has a great game plan to get Britt into open spaces to make plays. He also finally has a quarterback in Matt Hasselbeck that can get him the ball on a consistent basis. His confidence should be sky high after demolishing a vaunted Ravens defense.

Is Tim Hightower in danger of losing his starting job to Roy Helu? --Rob Mapstone (via @CBSFantasyFB)

MH: I wouldn't say in the immediate future Hightower has anything to worry about. Hightower has done well since arriving in the preseason, but coach Mike Shanahan does like Helu a lot and probably will continue to develop him as a nice fallback option in case anything happens to Hightower.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us via Twitter @CBSFantasyFB . You can also follow us on Facebook. You can also follow Michael via Twitter @CBSHurc

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Player News
Jets backfield takes shape following Johnson signing
by Jamey Eisenberg | Senior Fantasy Writer
(5:53 pm ET) With the Jets signing Chris Johnson on Wednesday, the rest of their backfield should start to take shape, reports the New York Daily News.

The report says Johnson and Chris Ivory will work as a tandem, and Bilal Powell will be the No. 3 running back. Mike Goodson is expected to be released before the start of the season.


Chris Johnson excited for 'fresh start'
by Jamey Eisenberg | Senior Fantasy Writer
(5:48 pm ET) New Jets running back Chris Johnson's two-year deal is worth $8 million with another $1 million in incentives, reports Pro Football Talk. Johnson was scheduled to make $8 million for the Titans in 2014 alone before he was released.

Meanwhile, Johnson told the Tennessean that he's looking forward to this opportunity with the Jets.

"I have a fresh start. Now I am going to go out there with a chip on my shoulder," Johnson said. "I know a lot of people are doubting me. I want to prove everybody wrong who has doubts in me."


Bengals sign punter T.J. Conley
by Jamey Eisenberg | Senior Fantasy Writer
(4:21 pm ET) The Bengals signed free agent punter T.J. Conley on Wednesday. 

Conley punted in 16 games for the Jets in 2011. He averaged 42.7 yards on 92 punts, and his 38.8-yard net average was the highest in Jets history. He had 32 inside-20 kicks with just six touchbacks, and his plus-26 differential on inside-20s to touchbacks ranked tied for third in the NFL.

Conley did not play in the 2012 or 2013 regular seasons. He was with the Jets in the 2012 preseason and with Cleveland in the 2013 preseason.

Conley will challenge incumbent Kevin Huber for the starting job, but most likely he won't make the final roster.


Chris Johnson signs two-year deal with the Jets
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(3:19 pm ET) The Jets have signed running back Chris Johnson to a two-year deal, league sources told ESPN's Adam Schefter. 

Johnson told reporters on Tuesday he was taking free agency one day at a time and added that he had other visits planned, but the Jets must have made him an improved offer to lock up the one-time 2,000-yard running back. 

Johnson has totaled at least 1,400 yards in each of his last four seasons with the Titans since running for 2,006 yards in 2009. He also scored 10 touchdowns in 2013 (four receiving). 


Clay Matthews says it's thumbs up for training camp
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(1:37 pm ET) Packers linebacker Clay Matthews said he's diligently rehabbing his injured thumb, comparing it to a torn ACL rather than a typical bone break. As part of the injury he also had surgery on his forearm, which got damaged when he re-injured the thumb late last season. But he told USA Today that he'll be ready for the start of training camp, though he'll miss offseason workouts. 

Mike James resumes running and cutting
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(1:28 pm ET) Buccaneers running back Mike James is working his way back into football shape after breaking his left ankle last season. He told the Tampa Bay Times that he's been running and cutting and is aiming to get back to full strength and speed. Asked if he would be ready for the team's April minicamp, James said he and the team are "taking everything day by day." 

Josh Freeman signs with Giants
by Jamey Eisenberg | Senior Fantasy Writer
(12:33 pm ET) The Giants have signed quarterback Josh Freeman, reports FOX Sports.

Freeman spent last season with the Buccaneers and Vikings. His only appearance for Minnesota was against the Giants, and he completed 20 of 53 passes for 190 yards and an interception.

Freeman will try and make the final roster for the Giants as a backup to Eli Manning, who is coming off ankle surgery this offseason. The Giants also have Curtis Painter and Ryan Nassib on the roster.


Rob Gronkowski will 'take his time' coming back
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(12:26 pm ET) Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski will "take his time and then take more time" coming back from a torn ACL suffered last season, a source told Bleacher Report

Gronkowski's heart was questioned last year when he took his time coming back from forearm and back procedures. This year he might not care how long he takes as he wants to practice patience in his rehab. 

The knee injury happened in December of last year. Usually it takes nine months to come back from an ACL injury without incident. That would mean he'd be ready to hit the field by late August. 


Haloti Ngata turned down extension with Ravens
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(11:10 am ET) Looking to free up cap space earlier this offseason, the Ravens offered a "lucrative, long-term" deal with defensive lineman Haloti Ngata so that he wouldn't cost $16 million in cap space. Ngata, 30 years old with two years left on his current deal, wasn't willing to take the extension, NFL Network reports. 

Report: Ravens planning to add two running backs
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(10:47 am ET) The Ravens are aware of what's been going on with Ray Rice this offseason but were planning to add a pair of running backs this offseason anyway. NFL Network reports that they now believe that one of those two might have to start depending on what happens with Rice. 

The veteran running back had a horrible 2013 season (under 1,000 total yards) and then was indicted on a third-degree aggravated assault charge when he struck his then-fiancee and current wife Janay Palmer in an Atlantic City casino. 


 
 
 
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