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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
Lions WR Calvin Johnson puts in limited practice
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(4:30 pm ET) Lions wideout Calvin Johnson (ankle) practiced on a limited basis Wednesday ahead of his Week 16 visit to Chicago. Johnson has caught 23 balls for 357 yards and three touchdowns over the past three weeks, and is not expected to be limited in any way Sunday.

The Bears rank 31st in passing defense, giving up 272 yards per game. They've given up a league-high 33 passing touchdowns.

Detroit is favored by 6.5 or 7 points at Vegas sportsbooks.


Patriots WR Edelman, RB Blount dealing with injuries
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(4:30 pm ET) Two Patriots skill position players have suffered injuries that could affect their playing statuses for the Sunday game against the host Jets.

Wide receiver Julian Edelman was limited in practice Wednesday with a concussion, though it's unclear when it was sustained. He must pass protocol to be cleared for Week 16 action.

Running back LeGarrette Blount, meanwhile, has a hurt shoulder.


Browns QB Manziel on reported snubbings: 'Ridiculous'
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(4:22 pm ET) Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel has called "ridiculous" a Fox Sports report that some teammates snubbed him during pregame introductions Sunday, per The Associated Press.

There have been rumblings much of the season that some Browns have little respect for Manziel, who has admitted that he didn't work particularly hard when he was a backup to Brian Hoyer.


Chargers QB Rivers misses practice, but should play in game
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(4:11 pm ET) Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers was absent from practice Wednesday with chest and back issues, but is expected to play Saturday at San Francisco.

'Pretty slim' chance Giants RB Rashad Jennings plays Sunday
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(4:10 pm ET) Giants running back Rashad Jennings (ankle) expects to sit out practice Thursday for the second straight day, and his chances of playing Sunday at St. Louis are "pretty slim," reports ESPN.com. Rookie Andre Williams would start in Jennings' place. He's carried 42 times for 175 yards and a touchdown the past two weeks.

The website expects Orleans Darkwa to back up Williams and possibly play on passing downs.

Jennings reinjured his sprained right ankle on the first play from scrimmage Week 15. He's been a non-factor since the Nov. 30 loss at Jacksonville.

The Giants are 5-point underdogs at most Vegas sportsbooks.


Texans WR Johnson back on practice field Wednesday
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(4:02 pm ET) Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson has taken a step forward toward his goal of playing Sunday against Baltimore by practicing Wednesday.

He missed the Week 15 game against Indianapolis with a concussion.


Panthers RB DeAngelo Williams gets in limited practice
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(3:56 pm ET) Panthers running back DeAngelo Williams, who's missed two straight games with a hand injury, practiced on a limited basis Wednesday. Running back Jonathan Stewart averaged 21.5 touches the past two weeks, and his workload could take a hit if Williams returns.

Carolina hosts the Browns on Sunday.


Troubled DE Ray McDonald released by 49ers
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(3:39 pm ET) Defensive end Ray McDonald has been released by the 49ers after a second assault charge had been levied against him in the last four months, per CSNBayArea.com. The latest are sexual assault allegations for which he is being investigated.

The team had stood by McDonald after the first incident, but apparently have lost faith in his innocence.

McDonald, who was finishing his eighth season with San Francisco and has started every game this year, ends 2014 with three sacks and having contributed to 39 tackles.


Harry Douglas among Falcons wideouts watching Wednesday
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(3:24 pm ET) Like starters Julio Jones (hip) and Roddy White (ankle), Falcons receiver Harry Douglas (foot) was held out of practice Wednesday. White and Douglas are expected to play Sunday at New Orleans, while Jones' status won't be decided until shortly before kickoff.

Normally the No. 3 receiver, Douglas started in Jones' place Week 15 and caught 10 passes for 131 yards. He figures to be targeted heavily Sunday if Jones sits out again.

The Falcons are 6-point underdogs at every major Las Vegas sportsbook.


Eye issue limits Packers RB Eddie Lacy on Wednesday
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(3:04 pm ET) Packers running back Eddie Lacy was limited in practice Wednesday due to an eye problem that coach Mike McCarthy said is not game-related, reports ESPN.com. Lacy is fully expected to start Sunday against the Buccaneers.

He has piled up 1,336 yards from scrimmage and 12 total touchdowns through 14 games.


 
 
 
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