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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)

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us via Twitter @CBSFantasyFB . You can also follow Jamey at @JameyEisenberg and on Facebook .

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Player News
Bills RB Fred Jackson excited to play for new coach Rex Ryan
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(3:23 pm ET) Bills veteran running back Fred Jackson said he hasn't had the opportunity to meet with new coach Rex Ryan, but that didn't stop him from expressing his excitement about the new coaching regime in Buffalo.

"I can't wait to play for him. I've heard nothing but good things," Jackson said Wednesday of Ryan during an interview on ESPN New York 98.7 FM. "I'm looking forward to that [first] conversation when I sit down and talk to him."

The Bills finished 9-7 in 2014, which was their best record since 2004. While Jackson believes Ryan is going to "be that catalyst that comes in and pushes us over that hump," he didn't have many bad things to say about coach Doug Marrone, who opted out of his contract New Year's Eve.

"I thought he was a tremendous coach," Jackson said. "He showed up, he worked hard, he pushed players to give their best effort. He got us to a 9-7 record -- we hadn't won nine games in 10 years. There's definitely some things about him that made him a great coach. It's just the way he exited. I don't think anybody expected that. 

"Players, the way we found out is we got a generic text from him, saying that he was moving on and he had chosen to opt out of his contract." 


Justin Tuck: Raider Nation would appluad signing Ndamukong Suh
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(2:42 pm ET) If defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh doesn't sign a long-term deal with the Lions, then he will become a free agent March 10 and there will be plenty of teams interested in the Pro Bowl lineman. 

Raiders defensive end Justin Tuck indicated if Suh wanted to sign with Oakland, then he would be welcomed in Raider Nation.

"(He's) Raider-ish," Tuck said, per the Detroit Free Press. "And that's one of the reasons why I know Raider Nation would applaud that move, beyond the fact that he's an awesome football player. He kind of fits the mold of ... the toughness and the ferocious player that built the Oakland Raiders."

It is speculated Suh will receive a contract worth at least $100 million. Tuck believes the three-time All-Pro deserves such a lucrative deal.

"The thing about him, you know what you're getting every day. Some of the tactics, you could probably do without, but he's a hell of a football player," Tuck said. "I would love to have the opportunity to line up beside of him and let him take all the double teams that I normally take."


Nick Foles: 'I plan on being in Philly' in 2015
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(1:48 pm ET) There has been a lot of talk about quarterback Nick Foles' future with the Eagles, especially since Philadelphia coach Chip Kelly's former pupil at Oregon -- Marcus Mariota -- will be part of this year's draft class.

On Thursday, Foles addressed the rumors and stated he is expecting to be back on the Eagles' roster in 2015.

"Yeah you hear about it," Foles said in between doing paid appearances at Super Bowl XLIX, per NJ.com. "You are going to hear about it every single year. That's just part of it. The main word is 'rumor.' You can't put too much into it....I plan on being in Philly.

"I only listen to (head coach) Chip Kelly. That's what is most important. He is the one that will make the decision. Right now all I am going to do is work because I plan on being back in Philadelphia and playing with my team. That's all I ever thought. So that is what I plan on doing and I'm not looking at it any other way."

Foles added he hasn't talked with Kelly since the end of the season.

"We haven't talked a lot. He has a lot going on," Foles said. "This time of year you really just get away from everything. He is busy looking at the draft, doing all that. I saw he is more of the decision maker. Haven't really talked to him too much, but I'm sure I'll hear from him soon."


Dwyer pleads guilty, receives probation in domestic violence case
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(1:38 pm ET) Cardinals running back Jonathan Dwyer pleaded guilty Thursday in Maricopa County (Ariz.) Superior Court to a single count of disorderly conduct pertaining to his domestic violence case, according to The Arizona Republic.

Dwyer was sentenced to 18 months of probation and community service following the plea, according to a court spokesman.

The 25-year-old Dwyer was arrested Sept. 17 for a July 21 incident in which he allegedly headbutted his wife in the face and broke her nose after she refused his sexual advances and bit his lip, according to reports taken at the time.

Dwyer's wife told police she reported the incident in September because she feared for their child's safety after seeing reports of Vikings running back Adrian Peterson's arrest on child-abuse charges.

The Cardinals placed Dwyer on the reserve/non-football injury list after his September arrest. He did not play again during the 2014 season.


Tom Brady on Peyton Manning: 'I certainly hope he comes back'
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(12:21 pm ET) While the football world anxiously awaits official word from Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning about his playing status for the 2015 season, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady -- and longtime Manning rival -- said Thursday he hopes the five-time NFL MVP will continue his career.

"What a great player he's been for this league," Brady said Thursday, per NFL.com. "He's a great competitor, and I've been fortunate to play against him a bunch of times. I certainly hope he comes back, 'cause the league will miss him if he doesn't. But those decisions are up to him. I'm sure it's up to whether he's mentally and physically -- that's what he wants to do. But I certainly hope he's back."

Archie Manning, Peyton's father, told NFL Network on Thursday that his son hasn't made a decision yet.

"Well, Peyton evaluates things; he's pretty good at that," he said. "I can't tell him what to do, and he hasn't told me what he's going to do. But I do know that he's really giving a lot of things a lot of thought. He's thinking about where he is physically, he wants to see how he can do this some more, trying to get over an injury."

Archie added starting over with new Broncos coach Gary Kubiak will not be an issue for Peyton, if he decides to return next season.

"Yeah, but he loves Gary. He likes Gary," Archie Manning said. "He liked John Fox. He liked Adam Gase. All those things, I think, are considered with. But my deal is he's always made good decisions; he's pretty thorough. He's going to evaluate a lot of things, and I think he'll make a good decision."


RG3: 'I could've sat out the rest of last year' after hurting ankle
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(12:04 pm ET) During a radio interview Wednesday night, Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III indicated the dislocated ankle he suffered in Week 2 against the Jaguars hindered him the rest of the season. He missed six games due to the injury.

“I had never suffered an ankle injury of that severity before, so I didn’t really know what to expect,” Griffin said, per The Washington Times. “It just became more and more tough the more games that we lost, because you know how hard your guys work, and you want to get out there and help them win games.

“I could’ve sat out the rest of last year, with how bad the ankle was, but I felt like I could play, and I wanted to get out there and play with my guys and help them win games. And that didn’t happen when I got back out there. Then coach made a decision [to bench me]. That was an unfortunate decision, and something we all had to go with because that was coach’s choice.”

Griffin will be entering the final guaranteed year of his contract in 2015. The Redskins have until May 3 to decide if they want to exercise the fifth-year option on his contract for 2016. 

Griffin added his focus this offseason will simply be on getting healthy.

“Last year, I wasn’t healthy, and it sucked,” Griffin told ESPN 980. “There’s no other way to say it other than that. When you dislocate your ankle in the second week of the season, when you and your team had big things in mind. So I guess it’s just getting healthy, getting a mental break, getting a chance to spend time with family, and then formulate my plan going forward from this year so we can go out there and win games.”


DeMarco on free agency: 'At end of day it's about winning a Super Bowl'
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(11:21 am ET) Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray was on The Dan Patrick Show on Thursday talking about his thought process heading into free agency. Murray obviously said all the right things about wanting to return to Dallas, and hoping the team can sign him and Dez Bryant, who will also be a free agent, to long-term contracts.

However, Murray was also very forthcoming about the notion of playing for another NFL team.

“Yeah. I understand the business aspect of it,” he said, per The Dallas Morning News. “There’s no hard feelings if we can’t reach a deal together. But hopefully we can and we’ll see what happens.”

Murray, who rushed for a career-best 1,845 yards in 2014, will likely sign the most-lucrative contract of his career this offseason. But he added money won't be the only factor in who he signs with.

“I don’t think about [the one big contract], I’m thinking about winning a Super Bowl,” Murray said. “What’s best for me to win a Super Bowl and win one now. At the end of the day, the money is irrelevant to some degree. But you definitely want to get what you’re worth and things like that.

“At the end of the day it’s about winning a Super Bowl.”


Patriots QB Tom Brady expects to be 100 percent by Super Bowl
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(10:32 am ET) Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, who has been dealing with a cold for about a week, said Thursday he is feeling "pretty good." Brady is still expecting to be OK for the Super Bowl.

"I've been through it plenty of times," Brady said of having a cold, per NFL Network. "But I'm glad it happened early in the week. I expect to be 100 percent by Sunday."

Brady is 3-2 in five Super Bowl appearances. He has completed 127 of 197 passes for 1,277 yards, nine touchdowns and two interceptions. He also has a 93.8 quarterback rating and hasn't had lower than a 86.2 quarterback rating in five Super Bowl starts.

As of Thursday, the Patriots remain 1-point favorites for Sunday's game against the Seahawks.


Steelers RB Le'Veon Bell on injury: 'The knee is close to 100 percent'
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(10:21 am ET) Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell missed Pittsburgh's playoff game against the Ravens and the Pro Bowl because he suffered a hyperextended knee in the regular-season finale against the Bengals in late December.

It's been about a month since Bell suffered the injury, but he said he has been able to work out on the injured knee.

"The knee is close to 100 percent," Bell told NFL Network on Wednesday night. "I'm probably about 85-90 percent, been able to run on it a little bit. So I'm getting back to work out a little."

Bell had a monster year in 2014, rushing for a career-best 1,361 yards. He averaged 4.7 yards per carry. He also had 83 catches for 854 yards and finished with 11 total touchdowns (eight rushing).


RG3 on Deflategate: 'I didn't know the ball had to be a certain weight'
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(9:55 am ET)
As Deflategate pushes into Day 11 on Thursday, Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III is the latest in the long list of current or former professional football players to weigh in on underinflated footballs being used in the AFC Champhionship Game. Although, his take on the issue might be a first.

“I didn't even know that the ball had to be a certain weight,” Griffin told Chris Russell in an interview on ESPN 980 on Wednesday night, per CSNWashington.com. “I know they pump up the balls and they get inspected before every game. But I wasn't aware that the ball had to be at a certain limit, or higher, which is interesting. I think it’s very interesting.”

While Griffin said he was unaware of the rules, he added he does pay attention to how he can grip the football before each game. If the football doesn't meet Griffin's standards, he said he tosses it aside.

“I think it could be something that we look at going into the future about how much we pump up the ball,” Griffin said. “But at the same time, for me, going this far in my career, all we worry about is, can we grip the ball? Not how much air is in it.

“I just think it's really funny,” Griffin added with a chuckle, “especially when you don't specify that you're talking about footballs. …I think I said balls seven times already.”


 
 
 
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