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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
Raiders bring back Kaelin Burnett
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(4/18/2014) The Raiders have inked exclusive-rights free agent Kaelin Burnett to a one-year deal. He's expected to compete for a roster spot in training camp. 

Dekoda Watson moving to strong-side LB
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(4/18/2014) In the wake of the release of veteran linebacker Russell Allen, the Jaguars are expected to make Dekoda Watson their new starting strong-side linebacker, ESPN reports. He'll also play as a pass rusher and potentially line up as a defensive end on third downs. 

Watson had 42 total tackles, two sacks, an interception, a pass defensed, a forced fumble and a blocked punt with the Bucs last year. 


Brandon Gibson begins light jobbing
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(4/18/2014) Brandon Gibson has begun light jogging as he works his way back from a torn patellar tendon, the Miami Herald reports. The Dolphins are expected to keep him on the roster, if only because of the cap hit he'll cost, per the report. He said recently he expects to be ready for Week 1. 

'Humbled' Richardson explains 2013, promises a better 2014
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(4/18/2014) Colts running back Trent Richardson spoke openly about his disappointing 2013 season, saying that it took him too long to learn a new playbook and get over leaving Cleveland after Week 2. Richardson also told the official team website that he's planning to do everything within his power to be as prepared as possible for 2014. 

"Y'all will see a big significant difference in the way I play, the speed. I won't have to think about a lot of stuff," Richardson said earlier this offseason. "It's going to be big -- timing with the offensive line, timing with Andrew (Luck), just knowing a lot more with the program, the whole system.

"They haven't seen everything they're going to get out of me yet. A lot of it is going to come next year. A lot of it is going to come in the offseason. I'm going to put in a lot of work, as I've been doing this whole season. This season humbled me. ... This season was a lesson to me."

Colts coach Chuck Pagano has had Richardson's back, says the running back, and the coach stressed back in March that his running back's involvement in the offseason program will be key. 

"It's going to be very, very important for (Richardson) to be here for the offseason program and to dive into this thing full steam ahead, which he will," Pagano said. "He wants to be great. He's got all the talent. He's got all the ability. We would have never done what we did if we didn't believe that deep down in our core. So we look for him to have a great offseason and to have a great 2014 campaign."


Saints bring back Robert Meachem
by Jamey Eisenberg | Senior Fantasy Writer
(4/18/2014) The Saints announced Friday that the club has re-signed veteran free agent wide receiver Robert Meachem to a one-year contract.

Meachem is a seven-year NFL veteran who was originally the club's first round draft pick (27th overall) in 2007. He re-signed with the Saints prior to the start of the 2013 regular season and appeared in 15 games with five starts. He finished with 16 receptions for 324 yards with two touchdowns.

Meachem said signing with the Saints now should help with his preparations as he will be able to take part in the team's offseason conditioning program, OTAs and mini-camp. Plus, "this is home," he said.


Can Chris Johnson turn into Tomlinson?
by Jamey Eisenberg | Senior Fantasy Writer
(4/18/2014) The Jets are hoping running back Chris Johnson can do for them what LaDainian Tomlinson did in 2010, reports ESPN.

That season, Tomlinson came from San Diego to New York after he was released. He responded with a team-high 914 yards with six touchdowns on 219 carries and caught 52 passes. He was supposed to be Shonn Greene's backup, but Tomlinson was so impressive that he won the starting job and became an integral part of a team that came within one game of the Super Bowl.

Maybe Johnson, who was let go by the Titans, can do the same thing.

"I can turn the bad things people are saying into a good thing for me, to give me motivation, to keep me hungry and to keep a chip on my shoulder and prove the naysayers wrong," he said Thursday.

Johnson had a disappointing year in 2013 when he averaged just 3.9 yards per carry, but he played 13 games on a torn meniscus and was running behind a suspect offensive line for a team that didn't have its starting quarterback for half the season. The situation in New York should be improved, and hopefully being teamed with Chris Ivory will allow him to play like Tomlinson did in 2010.


Aikman worried about Tony Romo
by Jamey Eisenberg | Senior Fantasy Writer
(4/18/2014) Former Cowboys quarterback and Hall of Famer Troy Aikman is worried about current Dallas quarterback Tony Romo coming off back surgery, reports the team's official website.

Romo, 34, is coming off back surgery in December, which was the second procedure on his back in a year.

"I came back in a relatively short period of time because of when I had my surgery, so he's at least afforded more time to get ready," Aikman said. "But having said that, two back surgeries in less than a year at his age, I would be a bit concerned.

"I'm hopeful that he's able to come back -- everybody is. This team won't be the same if he's not able to. I anticipate that he will come back. But to say that, 'Hey, he's ahead of schedule and everything's going fine,' I'm not sure how you can really measure that here in April."


Bengals, A.J. Green not talking extension - yet
by Jamey Eisenberg | Senior Fantasy Writer
(4/18/2014) The Bengals are expected to exercise the fifth-year option on receiver A.J. Green's contract by May 3, reports Pro Football Talk. But the sides have yet to discuss a long-term contract extension, according to the report.

The Bengals hold the rights to Green through the 2015 season. And in 2016, if a long-term deal hasn't been signed yet, the Bengals can use the franchise tag on Green for that season.

The report says Green can force the issue by trying to boycott offseason workouts or hold out from training camp. But Bengals coach Marvin Lewis is confident Green will be there.


Chris Snee will give it a shot this spring
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(4/18/2014) Giants guard Chris Snee will attempt to go through the Giants offseason program once he's healthy, the New York Daily News reports. Snee had hip surgery last season and an elbow surgery earlier this year. There is no timeline for him to be at 100 percent but he is expected to be on the field for the "bulk" of offseason activities. 

Report: Niners won't release Aldon Smith
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(4/18/2014) The 49ers might expect a suspension for pass rushing linebacker Aldon Smith, but they are not planning to release him, NFL Network reported on Friday.

Smith was arrested recently for making false bomb reports at a Los Angeles airport, the latest of a string of troubles for the highly talented linebacker. He was also arrested for suspicion of DUI in January, 2012 and again September, 2013. He also had marijuana on him during that September arrest. In October, 2013 he was charged with three felony counts of illegal possession of an assault weapon. 


 
 
 
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