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Into the deep for Week 9

Senior Fantasy Writer
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Every week I'll dive into some sleepers beyond what we write in Start 'Em and Sit 'Em to help some of you in deeper leagues. Some weeks will have more guys than others, but this should be helpful for those owners in 14- and 16-team leagues.

Quarterback

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Andy Dalton (at TEN): Dalton is playing like a rookie quarterback. He has some good moments and some inconsistent play. He has two games with at least 17 Fantasy points in his past four outings, but he also has five interceptions over that span. I can see him once again reaching 17 Fantasy points in this matchup with the Titans. Tennessee has allowed multiple touchdown passes in three of the past five games with 10 touchdowns over that span. Dalton can be a useful bye-week replacement for Matthew Stafford or Cam Newton in deeper leagues. (Started in 38 percent of leagues in Week 8)
Carson Palmer (vs. DEN): Palmer will make his first start for the Raiders this week, and he will definitely do better than his previous outing when he came on for Kyle Boller in Week 7 against Kansas City at halftime. He was 8 of 21 passing for 116 yards and three interceptions, but he had the bye week to improve, which should help against the Broncos. Denver has allowed six quarterbacks to score multiple touchdowns, and Palmer will look to make a good impression in front of the home crowd. The Raiders invested a lot in Palmer, and he should be able to reward them with a favorable matchup this week. (Started in 4 percent of leagues in Week 7)
Sam Bradford (at ARI): Bradford has to prove his injured ankle is OK after missing the past two games, but if he plays this week he should be considered a good starting option. The Cardinals have allowed four quarterbacks to throw for at least 300 yards and four to throw multiple touchdown passes. Bradford has yet to play with his new weapon in Brandon Lloyd, who has made a seamless transition from Denver to St. Louis, and the two should develop a solid rapport. In deeper leagues, if Bradford is out then consider using A.J. Feeley since he could exploit this Arizona pass defense as well. (Started in 12 percent of leagues in Week 6)

Running back

Willis McGahee (at OAK): McGahee is expected to play this week after sitting out Week 8 with a broken hand. He should pick up where he left off in this matchup with the Raiders. McGahee has four games with double digits in Fantasy points in his past five outings, and he has four games with at least 76 rushing yards over that span. Oakland has allowed five rushing touchdowns to opposing running backs and five to reach double digits in Fantasy points, and the Broncos might lean on McGahee this week to take some pressure off Tim Tebow. And if for some reason he's out with his hand problem then you can plug in Knowshon Moreno in this spot. (Started in 78 percent of leagues in Week 7)
Chris Ogbonnaya (at HOU): Peyton Hillis (hamstring) is questionable to return this week against the Texans, but Ogbonnaya should still get the chance to get some touches even if Hillis plays. And if Hillis suffers a setback then Ogbonnaya, who played for the Texans earlier this season, could be the starter. He has done a good job catching the ball the past two games with at least five receptions in each game against Seattle and San Francisco. The Texans also have allowed five touchdowns to opposing running backs and four to reach double digits in Fantasy points. Additionally, in terms of Ogbonnaya catching the ball, Houston has allowed three running backs to catch at least five passes. (Not started yet this season)
Reggie Bush (at KC): Daniel Thomas (hamstring) might return this week, and the former Kansas State standout could also play well against the Chiefs. But Bush has done a solid job the past three weeks, including in Week 8 at the Giants when he had 15 carries for 103 yards. He is averaging 6.2 yards per carry over that span, and the Chiefs have allowed eight touchdowns to opposing running backs and six to reach double digits in Fantasy points. If Thomas is out then Bush is a great option in all leagues, but you can plan on using Bush as a starter in deeper formats even if Thomas is back. (Started in 39 percent of leagues in Week 8)
Brandon Jacobs (at NE): Jacobs has the chance to start this week with Ahmad Bradshaw (foot) either out or limited, and we could be looking at Jacobs like a potential starter in all leagues for the rest of the year depending on Bradshaw's status. Jacobs is still working his way back after being out two games with a knee injury, but if he gets double digits in carries he could get double digits in Fantasy points as well. He has two games with double digits in Fantasy points already and three touchdowns on the season. The Patriots have allowed six touchdowns to opposing running backs and six to reach double digits in Fantasy points. (Started in 35 percent of leagues in Week 8)
Marion Barber (at PHI): If you're stuck at running back this week then take a flier on Barber. He has a touchdown in consecutive games and has scored in three of his past four. The Eagles have also allowed seven touchdowns to opposing running backs, and the Bears should lean on their ground game this week. Matt Forte will obviously dominate the carries, but Barber has done a nice job in short-yardage situations when called upon. (Started in 6 percent of leagues in Week 7)

Wide receiver

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Jon Baldwin (vs. MIA): Baldwin had a solid game against the Chargers in Week 8, and he's looking for an encore performance against the Dolphins this week. He had five catches for 82 yards and a touchdown against San Diego, and Miami has allowed 10 touchdowns to opposing receivers and seven to reach double digits in Fantasy points. Dwayne Bowe should be the best receiver for Kansas City this week, but Baldwin also has an opportunity to shine based on the matchup. (Not started yet this season)
Eric Decker (at OAK): Decker is going to have inconsistent outings with Tebow starting, but the two played well together last week against Detroit with six catches for 72 yards and a touchdown on 12 targets. Decker now has three games with double digits in Fantasy points and five touchdowns on the year. The Raiders have allowed seven touchdowns to opposing receivers and five to reach double digits in Fantasy points. Decker is clearly the only receiver to use for the Broncos right now with the way Tebow is playing. (Started in 35 percent of leagues in Week 8)
Michael Crabtree (at WAS): Crabtree is starting to look like a quality receiver the past two games with 14 catches for 131 yards and a touchdown, and he has 24 targets over that span. Alex Smith appears to finally feel comfortable with Crabtree, and his foot problems are hopefully over. He has a favorable matchup in Week 9 at Washington, and Crabtree could be a potential starter in all Fantasy leagues against the Redskins, who have allowed double digits in Fantasy points to four No. 1 receivers they have faced this year in Hakeem Nicks, Larry Fitzgerald, Jeremy Maclin and Steve Smith. Crabtree isn't as talented as those guys, but he can be a No. 3 Fantasy option this week based on his recent play. (Started in 22 percent of leagues in Week 8)
Darrius Heyward-Bey (vs. DEN): Heyward-Bey comes into this matchup against the Broncos playing at a high level. He has at least eight Fantasy points in his past four games, and the Broncos have allowed 10 touchdowns to opposing receivers and nine to reach double digits in Fantasy points. We'll see how he does in his first start with Palmer, but Palmer should look in his direction a lot. Heyward-Bey has 39 targets in his past four games, and he's quickly shedding the bust label that he had for the first two years of his career. (Started in 48 percent of leagues in Week 7)
Doug Baldwin (at DAL): Baldwin has done a good job filling in for Mike Williams, and Williams is likely out this week with a hamstring injury. He has two games with double digits in Fantasy points, and in the two games Williams has sat out -- Week 5 at the Giants and Week 8 against the Bengals – Baldwin has 13 catches for 209 yards and a touchdown. The Cowboys have allowed six touchdowns to opposing receivers and four to reach double digits in Fantasy points, and Baldwin could be a useful No. 3 Fantasy receiver this week in deeper formats. (Started in 13 percent of leagues in Week 8)

Tight end

Jake Ballard (at NE): It says a lot about how Ballard has improved that the five Fantasy points he had in Week 8 against Miami were his low in his past four games. Ballard is averaging more than eight Fantasy points over that span, and he has the chance to play well against the Patriots. New England has allowed just two touchdowns to opposing tight ends and five have reached at least seven Fantasy points. (Started in 42 percent of leagues in Week 8)
Joel Dreessen (vs. CLE): Dreessen has been the player to benefit the most with Andre Johnson (hamstring) out. Since Johnson was hurt in Week 4 against the Steelers, Dreessen has three touchdowns in three of the last four games. The Texans have done a nice job of using both tight ends with Dreessen and Owen Daniels, and Dreessen can be added in deeper leagues as long as Johnson remains out. The Browns have allowed five touchdowns to opposing tight ends and four to reach at least nine Fantasy points. (Started in 3 percent of leagues in Week 8)
Ed Dickson (at PIT): Dickson played well against the Steelers in Week 1 with five catches for 59 yards and a touchdown, and Pittsburgh has allowed three touchdowns to opposing tight ends and three to reach at least nine Fantasy points. Dickson hasn't scored since Week 1, but he could be on the verge of another quality game. He had nine targets in Week 8 against Arizona, and the Ravens will likely need him to help their passing game. It should help Dickson that the Steelers are without two linebackers in James Harrison (orbital bone) and LaMarr Woodley (hamstring). (Started in 14 percent of leagues in Week 8)

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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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