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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
Reggie Bush says he doesn't plan to retire
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(6:31 pm ET) Three days after being released by the Lions, RB Reggie Bush said he has no plans to retire. 

TMZ reporters confronted Bush outside a Beverly Hills restaurant and asked if Bush, who turns 30 on Monday, was going to quit football. Bush responded with, "No." 

Bush rushed for 297 yards and two touchdowns last season. 


Report: Cowboys to let DeMarco Murray test free agency
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(6:06 pm ET) The Cowboys will let RB DeMarco Murray test the free-agent market, according to a report from Fox Sports Southwest

Cowboys VP Stephen Jones said that negotiations with Murray's agents have been "slow". 

Jones said that Murray "is probably going to get some peace and see what's out in the market, and then we'll talk and see. I do believe deep down he'd love to stay in Dallas."

Murray rushed for 1,845 yards and 13 touchdowns last season. 


Report: Cowboys to use franchise tag on Dez Bryant
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(5:15 pm ET) The Cowboys will use the franchise tag on WR Dez Bryant on Monday, according to a report by Fox Sports Southwest

The team has been trying to negotiate a long-term contract with Bryant, a free-agent to be. If a deal can't be made by Monday's franchise tag deadline, the Cowboys will use the tag to keep Bryant a Cowboy. 

"I still think that (it) would be a stretch to think that we would have something done by Monday and beat the franchise-tag deadline," Cowboys VP Stephen Jones told Fox. "Looks like we're eyeing a franchise tag on Dez, but certainly won't stop us from working hard to get a long-term deal. ... We just don't want to lose his rights."

Bryant had 88 catches for 1,320 yards and 16 touchdowns last year. 


QB Josh McCown's contract with Browns worth $14 million
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(4:46 pm ET) Quarterback Josh McCown's deal with the Browns will pay $14 million over three years, a league source told CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora.

With incentives related to playing time and playoff berths, McCown could earn $20 million over the course of the deal.

McCown will earn $6.25 million in fully guaranteed money, with $5.25 million of it coming in the first year of the deal.


Report: Panthers won't re-sign Greg Hardy
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(3:18 pm ET) Panthers DE Greg Hardy is scheduled to become a free agent on March 10. He missed most of last season while appealing his conviction for domestic violence. 

Even though the charges were dropped on appeal, the Panthers have no intention of bringing Hardy back, multiple league sources told BlackandBlueReview.com's Bill Voth


Texans' Brian Cushing has had three offseason surgeries
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(3:15 pm ET) Texans LB Brian Cushing has had three surgeries since the end of the season. 

In a public appearance on Saturday, Cushing told the Houston Chronicle's John McClain that he's had surgery on his broken right wrist as well as arthroscopic procedures on his left knee and left ankle. 

"It’s not uncommon for stuff like that to happen," he said of the two arthroscopic surgeries. "It’s just little things here and there, the residual effects of two major surgeries and injuries, the wear and tear of playing throughout the season. There were still some things bothering me a little bit. Just went in there and had real good success in both areas."

Cushing has a cast on his wrist. “It’s coming along real well,” he said. “I’m going to start working out a little bit. From a pain standpoint, there’s really nothing going on there. I’m real happy about that. I’m real happy to get the cast off and start doing some physical therapy on it, and I don’t have to worry about it anymore."


Report: 49ers to release wide receiver Steve Johnson
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(11:34 am ET) The 49ers are expected to release wide receiver Steve Johnson, according to Dianna Marie Russini of NBC Washington D.C.

The move will reportedly save the team $5.5 million in cap space. Johnson had 35 catches for 435 yards and three touchdowns in 13 games last season.


Patriots running back Stevan Ridley: 'I have something to prove'
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(2/27/2015) Patriots running back Stevan Ridley is expected to become a free agent in the coming weeks and he is ready for the experience.

"I'm excited about it," Ridley told Sirius XM Radio Friday. "As a player coming into the league, you get there and your first contract you kind of have to establish yourself and see what you can do. Everybody is a good player if you get to make it to the NFL, but there is something to be said if you get to that second contract."

Ridley has rushed for 2,817 yards and 22 touchdowns in his first four seasons in the league with the Patriots.

"Where I'll be playing, and who I'll be playing for, is still unknown, but I know I've come in and done my job up to this point and now I have to put it in my agent's hands to get me on another team, or stay where I'm at, and make sure I’m in pads playing ball somewhere next year. I know if you think about it too much it will worry you sick."

Ridley has played in 20 of a possible 32 games the last two seasons, starting in just 11 of them.

"I take it personal to any team or anybody that says I can't be a very productive player on whatever team I land on," he said. "I've been playing ball my whole life, I'm going to come in and be a leader, and I'm going to be a guy that comes in and busts his butt in the weight room and busts his butt on the field. I'm a good teammate, I have fun with my guys, but when the lights come on Sundays, it's all business and I plan on going out there and making plays."


Patriots' Aaron Dobson doing well in rehab of hamstring injury
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(2/27/2015) Patriots wide receiver Aaron Dobson is still recovering from a hamstring injury that ended his season in 2014. Trainer Brett Fischer said Friday he thinks Dobson is going to turn heads when he heads back to Foxboro for training camp, according to the Boston Herald.

"He was talking about, 'When I go up there (to Foxboro) and they see me again, I want to make sure they know I'm in the best shape of my life.' He is really determined," Fischer said. "That is the underlying theme every day: 'Hey, I've got to be ready when April comes, be ready as far as the best shape of my life.' It's frustrating with two years of freaky-type stuff."

Dobson finished a disappointing 2014 season with three catches for 38 yards.

"He is doing great," Fischer said. "I'm really excited for him. He has put the time and effort into it, comes in early, gets all his work in and he is hungry. There are a few specific things we found, minor little things we're working on, that make his program a little bit unique to everybody else's. Nothing major."


Report: Should be a 'very active market' for Broncos' Julius Thomas
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(2/27/2015) Broncos tight end Julius Thomas turned down a five-year, $40 million contract for a reason. That's because it's believed he will have a "very active market" when the new league year begins on March 10, according to NFL.com's Ian Rapoport. 

Two teams that are expected to target Thomas in free agency are the Raiders and Jaguars, both of which need to upgrade considerably at their skill positions to help out their young quarterbacks. The expectation is for Broncos general manager John Elway to let Thomas test the waters in free agency to see what he's offered. 

The Falcons have also reportedly been interested, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's D. Orlando Ledbetter. 

Injuries slowed what was an otherwise fast start to his 2014 season. Thomas' season ended with 489 yards and 12 touchdowns. 


 
 
 
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