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Four Quarters: Fluid situations under center

Michael Hurcomb
Fantasy Writer
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Somebody needs to call Dr. Phil because Redskins coach Mike Shanahan needs an offensive intervention.

For a team that came out of their bye 3-1 and set to face a Philadelphia team having all sorts of struggles on defense, the Redskins mustered 287 yards of offense in a 20-13 loss in Week 6. Worst of all is that Shanahan has a lot of issues to deal with on offense moving forward.

The two biggest talking points are quarterback and running back, which carry Fantasy Football implications.

Shanahan pulled the plug on starting quarterback Rex Grossman after his fourth interception against Philadelphia. He was replaced by John Beck, who had a strong preseason but still lost out on the starting job to Grossman. Shanahan said he won't announce his quarterback decision until Wednesday, but most Fantasy owners probably aren't making plans to start a Washington quarterback in Week 7.

The running back situation is far more interesting given the mayhem that ensued on Sunday. Tim Hightower was cleared to play following the bye and was announced as the starting running back before the game. However, Ryan Torain started and Hightower didn't even see the field. Shanahan revealed after the game that Hightower is still hurting from a Week 4 shoulder injury and will remain the third-string running back until he is back to full strength.

Unfortunately, Torain didn't shine with Hightower sidelined and looked nothing like the back that rushed for 135 yards against the Rams. Not to forget that rookie Roy Helu has had his bright moments this season as well, leaving Washington will three capable backs.

The smart move for Fantasy owners is prepare to start Torain in Week 7 at Carolina, but Shanahan will probably use Hightower as his lead back against the Panthers and continue to drive Fantasy owners batty.

Did we mention yet that tight end Chris Cooley now has a broken hand on top of a lingering knee injury? Well, at least Shanahan won't have to worry about Jim Harbaugh's aggressive postgame antics until Week 9.

First Quarter -- Surprises of the Week

Rashard Mendenhall returned from a hamstring injury in Week 6 to have his best performance of the season, rushing for 146 yards against Jacksonville, which came into the game allowing running backs to average just 15.6 Fantasy points per week. The Jaguars also held running backs to 3.5 yards per carry and no 100-yard games before Mendenhall returned to form ... Earnest Graham proved to be a more than suitable replacement for the injured LeGarrette Blount in a win over the Saints, rushing for 109 yards, and that could allow Tampa Bay to keep Blount reserved in Week 7 with a Week 8 bye lurking ... Welcome back to Fantasy relevance Marques Colston, who has been slowed by a collarbone injury, but his Week 6 performance means he can be a trustworthy option again ... We hope we can soon say the same about Anquan Boldin, who produced just his third 100-yard game since joining Baltimore last year ... Jerome Simpson produced his second 100-yard game of the season. Bengals coach Marvin Lewis hinted that Simpson can keep this up as long as he cuts down on his dropped passes ... Jaguars receiver Jason Hill has scored in two straight weeks and appears to be rookie quarterback Blaine Gabbert's favorite target ... Devin Hester finally showed off his receiving skills against the Vikings and how he can be a downfield threat for the Bears with his speed ... Eagles tight end Brent Celek scored his first touchdown of the season against a Redskins defense that came in allowing just 6.5 Fantasy points per week to tight ends. It's worth pointing out for Fantasy purposes that the two tight ends that have scored against the Redskins this season have been very low-end options -- Celek and Arizona's Jeff King ... Kevin Boss' first touchdown with the Raiders wasn't thrown by a quarterback but rather punter Shane Lechler on a fake field goal ... Boss' replacement with the Giants, Jake Ballard, is quietly becoming a steady Fantasy option. He has 11 catches for 186 yards and two touchdowns in three October games ... 49ers tight end Delanie Walker has scored in two straight games and three of six this season.

Second Quarter -- Duds of the Week

Alex Smith teased Fantasy owners with two solid performances to only look like his former self in Week 6 against Detroit ... Giants quarterback Eli Manning couldn't throw a touchdown pass against a pass defense that allowed 10 passing touchdowns in their first five games ... Delone Carter got the start for the injured Joseph Addai against Cincinnati, but he was outproduced from a Fantasy standpoint by backup Donald Brown, who had far less touches ... Raiders wide receiver Denarius Moore had a second straight disappointing performance and has one catch for 9 yards since Week 5 ... Victor Cruz's performance against the Bills was unexpected after three straight solid outings and the fact he was going up against a defense allowing wide receivers to average 26.2 Fantasy points per week, which was eighth-highest in the NFL ... Falcons receiver Roddy White missed the presence of rookie Julio Jones, who was out with a hamstring injury, as the former All-Pro receiver managed two catches for 21 yards on five targets ... Pierre Garcon was started in 86 percent of Fantasy leagues after opening October with two outstanding performances. Garcon managed just three Fantasy points against the Bengals, which included him losing two Fantasy points on a fumble ... Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith has been so money for Fantasy owners this season that it was hard to stomach just a six-point Fantasy outing from him against a defense allowing receivers to average 28.4 Fantasy points per week, which was second highest in the league ... Vernon Davis didn't manage one Fantasy point Sunday.

Third Quarter -- Injury Report

Raiders quarterback Jason Campbell suffered a broken collarbone Sunday against the Browns and his status for the rest of the season is in doubt. Kyle Boller will be up for the Raiders if they make no roster acquisitions ... Rams quarterback Sam Bradford hurt his left ankle on the final play of the game Week 6 against the Packers, but X-rays came back negative. Although he has been diagnosed with a high-ankle sprain ... Texans quarterback Matt Schaub went for an MRI on his hip, but it's not considered a major injury ... Browns running back Peyton Hillis hurt his hamstring against the Raiders and is going for an MRI ... Cowboys running back Felix Jones, already dealing with a lingering shoulder injury, hurt his ankle against New England. He was cleared to return to the game, but he did not and his Week 7 status isn't looking good ... Rams running back Cadillac Williams was parked because of a thigh injury against the Packers ... Devin Hester had his big performance against the Vikings before leaving with a chest injury.

Fourth Quarter -- Early Look Ahead

The bye weeks continue as Buffalo, Cincinnati, N.Y. Giants, Philadelphia, San Francisco and New England are all off in Week 7 ... Detroit will get another tough test in Week 7 against the Falcons. Perhaps this matchup will tell us whether or not the Lions are true contenders or pretenders coming off a tough loss against the 49ers ... Broncos second-year quarterback Tim Tebow makes his first start under coach John Fox at Miami ... San Diego makes the cross-country trip after its bye week to face the Jets, who will be hungry for a signature win after a disappointing start to the season.

Overtime -- Q & A

I was offered Matt Forte and Hakeem Nicks for Calvin Johnson. Is this a good deal? -- Charles Derek Baker (Twitter)

MH: I would jump on this deal if I were the Megatron owner. Although Johnson has 42 more Fantasy points than Nicks in standard scoring formats, Nicks is still performing like a No. 1 Fantasy receiver. Also, you are getting a No. 1 Fantasy running back in Forte, who has 102 Fantasy points through six weeks.

Why is Adrian Peterson overrated this season? --Arash Parvizi (Twitter)

MH: I don't think overrated is the right term. Maybe inconsistent is a better term, but I'm not even sure I would agree with that. Peterson has scored at least one touchdown in four of six games and is the fifth-highest scoring Fantasy running back in standard formats. He is ahead of Ray Rice and Michael Turner, and I don't hear any complaints about those two. The Vikings are in the bottom 10 in the NFL for total offense and haven't moved the ball consistently with Donovan McNabb under center, which has contributed to Peterson perhaps not getting as many touches as we would like. But he is doing just fine from a Fantasy standpoint.

I have been offered Peyton Hillis for Steven Jackson. Should I trade Jackson? --Mujtaba Alvi (Facebook)

MH: On paper, this is about a fair a deal right now as you are going to get. Both Hillis and Jackson have 38 Fantasy points in standard formats. But luckily this isn't a paper trade. I would not deal Jackson for Hillis, especially with Jackson coming off his best performance in Week 6 against the Packers and finally looking healthy after a quad injury slowed him earlier in the year. Hillis has been on a downward spiral since sitting out Week 3 because of strep throat and then dealing with the media fallout, and now he is dealing with a hamstring injury. The Browns like Montario Hardesty and aren't afraid to give him the football, so stick with Jackson since Hillis' situation is in flux.

Should I trade Miles Austin for Vincent Jackson? -- Larry Medina (Facebook)

MH: At first glance you'd think this is a slam dunk for the owner getting Jackson. But, realize that Austin has nearly as many Fantasy points (54) as Jackson (58), and that is with Austin playing two less games due to a hamstring injury. My biggest concern with Jackson is if Antonio Gates continues to sit out due to a foot injury, how will that affect V-Jax? Jackson has always succeeded on the outside because Gates had the ability to draw safety coverage and give Jackson favorable matchups at times. If the threat of Gates is no longer there, then the defense can focus on stopping Jackson until another option emerges in the passing game. Also, Jackson's upcoming schedule isn't overly favorable. He still has the Jets, Packers, Raiders (twice), Bears, Jaguars, Ravens and Lions. The Packers are the only team that doesn't rank in the bottom half of the league in Fantasy points allowed to receivers, and they still have Charles Woodson to shadow V-Jax. I would stick it out with Austin.

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
Bills move Corey Graham to safety
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(2:01 am ET) The Bills have moved cornerback Corey Graham to safety, the Buffalo News reports.

Graham said that he and the team have discussed the move all offseason and decided to give the position change a try on Tuesday when the team held its first workout of OTAs.

"He’s got that unique ability where he can do both things," coach Rex Ryan said. "So let’s see what we have out there. And this is no slam on Duke or on Rambo or on Meeks or any of those guys, but this is us doing what’s best for the team. And if that means we feel good about [Graham] playing safety, then that’s where he’ll be."

Graham is enthusiastic about playing the safety position full-time.

"I want to try to really learn it and see where it goes, see how much my grasp is, see how I’m playing at it, see where it can take me," he said. "I look forward to it. It’s a challenge for me, but I’m actually very excited about it."

Graham recorded 84 total tackles last season, his first in Buffalo, while intercepting two passes.


Vikings' Bridgewater 'extremely comfortable' with leadership role
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(5/27/2015) Vikings second-year quarterback Teddy Bridgewater is embracing his role as leader of the offense, the Star Tribune reports.

"I’m a young guy still on the team, but guys are pushing me forward to say something in the huddle, or break the team down, or break the offense down," Bridgewater said. "That just gives you that confidence in yourself, confidence in your leadership and I’ve been extremely comfortable doing that so far."

Coach Mike Zimmer is satsfied with the work Bridgewater has done during the offseason.

"It’s hard to never not be pleased with Teddy because he’s such a hard worker," Zimmer said. "We wanted him to get bigger and stronger; he looks a little bit bigger to me. He’s always worked real hard. The leadership things are starting to come better. I think he’s been doing a good job the two days we’ve been out here against the defense."

Bridgewater made 12 starts in his rookie season and played 13 games in all, racking up 2,919 yards, 14 touchdowns and 12 interceptions while completing 64.4 percent of his passes.


Broncos WR Emmanuel Sanders hoping to reach 1,000 yards
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(5/27/2015) Broncos wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders believes the new offensive scheme in Denver will effect his numbers, accoridng to the team's website.

Sanders is working with new offensive coordinator Rick Dennison and coach Gary Kubiak to install the team's new offense and noted it's very different from last year's spread attack.

"You talk about going from a no-huddle offense to an offense that's huddling up, to an offense that is predicated off running a football and then throwing it. It's different," Sanders said. 

"It's a totally different set up, but I tell you what, the more and more I'm in it," said Sanders. "Because we can get the run game going and just use my vertical speed on cross routes and all these different combinations of routes is based off the play action, then I think the offense will be successful with Peyton Manning at the helm."

Sanders, who totaled 1,404 yards and nine touchdowns in 2014, doesn't think he'll accomplish the same numbers.

"Of course obviously it's not going to be one of those offenses, well I'm praying that it is, but obviously it's not going to be one of those offenses where you catch it and you're going to have two receivers catching over 100 passes," said Sanders. "Hopefully, my goal is really to try to get a 1,000 yards to just help this team win ball games."


Cowboys rookie La'el Collins taking reps at RT in OTAs
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(5/27/2015) Cowboys rookie offensive lineman La'el Collins started offseason team activities on Wednesday taking reps at right tackle, according to the Dallas Morning News.

Collins, who was signed as an undrafted free agent, could also see time at left guard. But the rookie is taking his first reps with the team at right tackle with Darrion Weems while Doug Free recovers from ankle surgery.

"We think he has the physical ability to play a couple of different spots," coach Jason Garrett said. "He was a tackle for most of his career in college but did play guard. We see him as a guy who can maybe do both of those things as he goes.

"The big thing for him is to try to get him acclimated as quickly as we can. So right now he's going to play right tackle for us. He and Darrion Weems are competing at that spot in Doug Free's absence and we'll just see how that unfolds." 


Vikings' Adrian Peterson on absence from OTAs: 'It's business'
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(5/27/2015) Vikings running back Adrian Peterson said in a statement on Wednesday that his absence from OTAs has "nothing to do with wanting to be traded," ESPN reports.

"The reason I'm not attending OTAs has nothing to do with wanting to be traded. It's about securing my future with the Vikings. It's business, not personal and I understand that firsthand. Go Vikings."

It was reported earlier Wednesday that coach Mike Zimmer said that Peterson could "either play for us or not play." The running back has expressed frustration with team management for not showing him support during his legal case for child abuse.


Report: Falcons' Dezmen Southward undergoes knee surgery
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(5/27/2015) Falcons defensive backs Dezmen Southward underwent a minor-knee operation Wednesday, reports the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Southward did not attend Tuesday's OTA and it is not known how long he'll be sidelined.


Julius Thomas trying to fit into Jaguars' offense
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(5/27/2015) Jaguars tight end Julius Thomas said after Wednesday's organized team activity that he intends to make it work with quarterback Blake Bortles, reports The Florida Times-Union.

"There is no 'Here's me coming in, and Blake's going to get on my page.' I'm going to be on Blake's page," Thomas said. "Whatever he expects, that's what I am going to do. He's the quarterback. He's the one in control of that huddle, and I like catching passes so I will make sure I do exactly what he wants."

With Thomas entering his first season with the Jaguars, he said it will take time to develop a rapport with Bortles.

"I think that getting good chemistry with a quarterback probably takes a couple of thousand passes," Thomas said.


Cowboys RB Darren McFadden not concerned with playing time
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(5/27/2015) With the Cowboys just beginning their organized team activities this week, running back Darren McFadden said he just wants to concentrate on becoming familiar with the team, reports the team's official website.

"For me, I'm just going out there grinding," he said. "However the coaches put me out there – whether it's first team or second team. When it comes time for them to make a decision, it's totally up to them. I'm just trying to get that playbook down and take advantage of this opportunity."

McFadden is competing with Joseph Randle to be the first-team running back, and he said he just wants to work hard and not worry about how many repetitions he's receiving with the first team.

"Once you've been in a place so long like Oakland, you can get set in your ways," McFadden said Wednesday, after his second OTA practice with the Cowboys. "Coming out here and being around guys that work so hard, it just brings out the best in you. It's something I look forward to."


Chiefs' Mike Catapano on his health: I feel better than ever
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(5/27/2015) After missing the entire 2014 season with a gastrointestinal virus, Chiefs defensive end Mike Catapano was able to participate in the team's OTA on Wednesday, reports The Kansas City Star.

"Every time I step on the field now it's with purpose and with extra vigor that I never really had," Catapano said. "It feels great. I feel better than ever."

Catapano played in 15 games during his rookie season in 2013 and he totaled four tackles and one sack. He said he's ready to surpass that in 2015.

"I'm ready to show that I offer a lot to this team. I'm ready to step up in big situations and starting situations," Catapano said. "I just want to keep getting better every day… and play to the best of my abilities."


Broncos' Manning, Sanders keeping up with Thomas during holdout
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(5/27/2015) Broncos wide receiver Demaryius Thomas is holding out of offseason workouts while he continues to negotiate a long-term deal with the team, but teammates Emmanuel Sanders and Peyton Manning have been keeping up with the star receiver, the Denver Post reports.

"One thing a lot of people don’t realize is when you’re playing on a one-year deal, there’s a lot of things going through your head," Sanders said. "As much as you guys want to say, ‘Don’t think about it,' of course it’s going to cross your mind because you’re talking about a lot of money at stake. When you’re playing these one-year deals, it’s a lot of stress on you. No matter how much you don’t want it to be, it’s going to happen. We’re all human."

Manning would like to have Thomas in workouts but understands the business aspects of his decision.

"I keep up with Demaryius. He’s my buddy," Manning said. "They got that business side of it to work out, but he’s been a great teammate to me, been a great friend to me since I’ve been here in Denver, so I keep up with him. Obviously want him to get back here as soon as possible, but we want what’s best for him, and he certainly deserves what’s best for him."

Thomas has started 16 games for three straight season, topping 90 receptions, 1,400 yards and 10 touchdowns in each.


 
 
 
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