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Four Quarters: Didn't count on Smith

Michael Hurcomb
Fantasy Writer
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Driving to work Sunday morning I imagined the possibilities another glorious day might have presented.

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I was hoping boxer Manny Pacquiao finally got tired of all the jabs Floyd Mayweather's camp has directed at him and accepted Mayweather's challenge for arguably the fight of the decade.

I was hoping that something would spark the United States' diminishing economy and there would be a glimmer of hope for this country getting back to normalcy.

And for the love of all that is human, I mean it's been way too long since Kim Kardashian has cluttered my news feed with her monumental life decisions. It's not like I need to be reading about news that actually affects my everyday life.

But one thing I didn't account for Sunday was oft-injured running back Kevin Smith deciding have to career resurgence this late in the season.

"I think the NFL will be hard-pressed to find a better story than Kevin Smith today," Lions coach Jim Schwartz said after Smith torched the Panthers for a career-high 140 rushing yards, 61 receiving yards and three total touchdowns. "This is a guy who has a lot of talent but has been set back by injuries. The talent didn't go anywhere. He looks a little different in that No. 30, but I think we will keep that on him for a while."

It was a bit of an odd surfacing for Smith, who was signed prior to Week 10 and has spent the last weeks mostly working with the third-team offense. But kudos to the 1 percent of Fantasy owners in CBSSports.com leagues who gambled and started Smith -- Week 12's Fantasy running back leader with 38 points (standard formats).

Watching Smith on Sunday brought back flashbacks from his rookie season (2008) in Detroit, when he rushed for 976 yards and eight touchdowns. Unfortunately, Smith had trouble staying healthy the following years. He suffered a season-ending knee injury in 2009 and didn't recover his previous burst before ending up on season-ending injured reserve again in 2010 with a thumb injury.

Smith was unemployed this season until Detroit came a calling, largely in part to the uncertain situation facing Jahvid Best, who hasn't played since suffering his second concussion of the season Week 6.

Well, Smith might have just solved Detroit's rushing problem, and with another strong performance on Thanksgiving against the Packers, the Lions could finally feel comfortable putting Best on injured reserve.

All that is left for Fantasy owners this week is to decide whether or not to put a waiver claim in for Smith or Toby Gerhart, who is in line to see significant carries in Minnesota if Adrian Peterson (ankle) is sidelined.

First Quarter - Surprises of the Week

What has gotten into Matt Moore? The Dolphins quarterback has a pair of three-touchdown games in November, totaling six touchdowns and one interception this month ... Chris Ogbonnaya became just the third running back this year to rush for 100-plus yards against the Jaguars, joining Rashard Mendenhall and Arian Foster ... LeGarrette Blount also became just the third running back to rush for 100-plus yards against Green Bay, joining Willis McGahee and Adrian Peterson ... Cedric Benson became the first running back to have more than one rushing touchdown in a game against Baltimore ... No one envisioned three of the Packers' offensive touchdowns Week 11 coming from B.J. Raji, Tom Crabtree and John Kuhn ... Nate Washington had his first 100-yard and multi-touchdown game this season thanks to rookie quarterback Jake Locker ... It took Roddy White, who was an early round Fantasy pick, 10 games to produce his first 100-yard performance of the season ... Kellen Winslow had his first 100-yard game in more than two years and was the first tight end to eclipse 100 yards against Green Bay this season ... Vernon Davis is getting back to Fantasy respectability with a score in two straight games ... Charles Clay's first career touchdown thrust him into the mix as a top 5 Fantasy tight end for the week.

Second Quarter -- Duds of the Week

John Skelton's two-game hot streak came to a screeching halt Week 11 with a three-interception performance against the 49ers that got him benched in favor of Richard Bartel ... Ryan Fitzpatrick threw up another dud, this time against a Miami defense yielding 20.3 Fantasy points per week to quarterbacks -- seventh-highest in the NFL ... Mark Sanchez became the first quarterback to fail to throw a touchdown against Denver this season ... Eli Manning came into Week 11 with four touchdown passes in each of his last two games against the Eagles, who were yielding 19 Fantasy points per week to quarterbacks, which was eighth-highest in the NFL. Manning completed half of his passes, turned the ball over twice and threw one touchdown ... Maurice Morris was activated in 51 percent of leagues for a matchup against one of the worst run defenses in the NFL. But as we highlighted in the lead, Kevin Smith stole the spotlight and likely Morris' job ... Greg Jennings didn't even account for one Fantasy point against the Bucs ... Vincent Brown was one of the most added Fantasy players last week after opening November with nine catches for 176 yards and one touchdown. He was activated in 23 percent of Fantasy leagues and delivered one catch for 8 yards against Chicago ... It's an even worse story for Denarius Moore, whose starting percentage skyrocketed from 6 to 85. He totaled one catch for 14 yards against one of the worst pass defenses in the NFL in Minnesota ... Brandon Marshall didn't record any Fantasy points against a Bills defense yielding 23.6 points per week to wide receivers, which was seventh-highest in the NFL.

Third Quarter -- Injury Report

During his big performance against the Chargers, Jay Cutler fractured the thumb on his throwing hand, which could keep him out the rest of the regular season. His injury might overshadow Adrian Peterson's ankle woes as the biggest injury news of the week ... Matt Hasselbeck suffered an elbow injury Sunday and watched rookie Jake Locker have success off the bench. However, Titans coach Mike Munchak squashed any speculation after the game by calling Hasselbeck his starter when healthy ... James Starks sustained a knee sprain against Tampa Bay ... Fred Jackson ended up with a calf injury against Miami, but X-rays came back negative ... Shonn Greene hurt his ribs early against Denver on Thursday, but he is hopeful of playing Week 12. He practiced on the side during the team's early session Monday ... Darrius Heyward-Bey had to be carted off the field after getting hit in the head against Minnesota, but thankfully had total movement in his limbs ... DeSean Jackson left the stadium in a walking boot Sunday, but has been diagnosed with a foot contusion ... Although he finished out the game Week 11 despite suffering a first-half elbow injury, it's worth keeping tabs on Jermichael Finley's status leading up to Week 12.

Fourth Quarter -- Early Look Ahead

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The Thanksgiving Day schedule has the makings of one of the best in history, so make sure to carve out some time on Turkey Day to watch Green Bay at Detroit, Miami at Dallas and San Francisco at Baltimore ... Arizona at St. Louis will feature two teams struggling to find an identity on offense. Perhaps the Cardinals and Rams DSTs will both be sleeper Fantasy options for Week 12 ... Philadelphia's upset of the Giants and strong defensive performance in Week 11 means the Eagles are players again heading into a Week 12 showdown with the Patriots ... The Giants will be looking to end a two-game losing skid, but they will have to go on the road to New Orleans for a Monday night showdown. We could see a lot of yards and points in this game, so make sure to get your Giants and Saints players active Week 12.

Overtime -- Q & A

Should I trade Carolina's Steve Smith for Michael Vick ? My other quarterbacks are Andy Dalton and Carson Palmer -- Richard M. (@CBSFantasyFB)

MH: I wouldn't. Smith is the third-highest scoring receiver (standard formats), and while he hasn't been great to start November, his remaining schedule is favorable. Left on the docket is Indianapolis, Tampa Bay (twice), Atlanta, Houston and New Orleans. Only the Texans rank in the bottom half of the league in Fantasy points allowed to receivers.

As for Vick, I know the potential, but you also get the injury headache. I think you can get by with Palmer, who faces Chicago, Miami, Green Bay, Detroit, Kansas City and San Diego the rest of the way. Only one team -- Detroit -- ranks in the bottom half of the league in Fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks.

Please give your opinion of Earl Bennett and his potential impact for the remainder of season. --Eric Campbell (@CBSfantasynews)

MH: Obviously the injury to Cutler changes Bennett's outlook for the remainder of the season. Bennett's November rise has been because of his familiarity with Cutler dating back to their days at Vanderbilt. But despite Cutler's absence, I'm still not down on Bennett. Remember, he caught a 35-yard touchdown pass from Caleb Hanie, who will replace the injured Cutler, in the NFC Championship game last year against Green Bay.

Looking at Bennett's remaining schedule, he will face the Raiders, Chiefs, Broncos, Seahawks, Packers and Vikings. Only one team -- Seattle -- is in the bottom half of the league in Fantasy points allowed to receivers. I'm optimistic that Bennett could finish the season as a reliable No. 3 Fantasy wide receiver, despite the absence of Cutler.

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
Report: Peyton Manning could decide on playing future this week
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(2:55 pm ET) Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning may be making his decision sooner rather than later. The soon to be 39-year-old Manning is reportedly set to make his decision as early as this week, according to ESPN NFL Insider Chris Mortensen.

Manning, who has already met with new coach Gary Kubiak, said last week he was waiting to meet with John Elway when he got back from vacation before making up his mind.

Manning, who threw for 4,727 yards and 39 touchdowns in 2014, is due $19 million guaranteed if he is still on the team March 9.


Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman will play Sunday
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(2:22 pm ET) Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman is indeed playing in Sunday's Super Bowl. With his girlfriend preparing to have their son very soon, but it will not be happening Sunday.

"I'm playing today," Sherman texted Peter King before the game Sunday.

Sherman totaled 57 tackles and four interceptions in 2014 with one forced fumble.


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"I really do believe he's got a lot invested in here, in himself and the community and the football team," Lewand said Sunday morning during an interview on WDIV-TV's Flashpoint. "He wants to have success in the NFL, obviously, but he wants to do that with us.

"I think there's a very, very good chance that we can get something done with him in the next few weeks."

Suh can become a free agent if the team does not use their franchise tag on him by March 2. 

"We've had a good chunk of our salary cap tied up in three players over the last few years," Lewand told WDIV. "Matthew, Calvin and Ndamukong have all had very lucrative contracts under the old rookie system, and even as Matthew and Calvin have done their extensions. So we've done that, we've lived in that environment. There's no reason we can't continue to live in that environment."


Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant expects to remain with team
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(12:50 pm ET) Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant said Saturday he is expecting to be back in Dallas in 2015 and have fans excited for a long time.

"Regardless, I’m a Cowboy," Bryant said to NBC Dallas. "But it is what it is. It’s business. I am a free agent. I’m very confident that something is going to happen, something is going to get done, and have these Cowboys fans excited for a long time."

Bryant is set to become a free agent this offseason if he and the Cowboys cannot agree to a deal or Dallas uses the franchise tag on him.

"I’m a Cowboy at heart. It’s Cowboys forever," Bryant said.


Falcons' owner wants Julio Jones long term, but not his decision
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(12:45 pm ET) Falcons owner Arthur Blank said Sunday the team wants to sign Julio Jones to a contract extension, but it is not his decision to make.

"As the owner, it's not my decision to make," Blank said. "The new coach will spend a great deal of time assessing the roster and all of our players, and obviously Julio is a critical one.

"Well, I think it's a decision that the head coach will look at the talent on the roster," Blank said. "Julio's been a great player for us and a great talent, and he represents us on the field and off the field as well as anybody else."

Jones is set to make $10.2 million in 2015 and will become an unrestricted free agent in 2016 if a new deal is not signed. In 2014, Jones set a franchise-record 1,593 receiving yards in 15 games on 104 receptions with six touchdowns.


Lions' Calvin Johnson wants to keep Ndamukong Suh in Detroit
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(11:26 am ET) Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson said he's willing to do just about anything to keep defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh in a Lions uniform, reports MLive.com.

Suh is set to become a free agent in March if the Lions cannot reach a deal with him and Johnson said he wants Suh to remain a Lion.

"I'll do whatever I got to do," Johnson said.


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(11:14 am ET) If Patriots cornerback Darrelle Revis becomes a free agent in the offseason, the Jets and Bills would reportedly be interested in the Pro Bowl cornerback, reports ESPN.

Revis is a former first-round pick of the Jets, where he played for current Bills coach Rex Ryan. The Patriots have a $20 million team option they can exercise to keep Revis off the market.

In 16 games for the Patriots during the 2014 season, Revis registered 47 tackles and two interceptions.


Jets' Johnson: Signing Muhammad Wilkerson is among priorities
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(10:48 am ET) Jets owner Woody Johnson told reporters Saturday keeping defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson beyond the 2015 season is among the team's top priorities in the offseason, reports NJ.com.

Wilkerson can become a free agent after the 2015 season and signing Wilkerson to a long-term deal will be a topic of discussion when the front office meets Tuesday.

"I think that's something that we'll be looking at, starting Tuesday, when we get our first staff in there," Johnson said. "We're going to take a look at Mo; Mo's obviously a great player. In terms of getting all that going, I'm sure that will be one of their priorities."

Wilkerson played in 13 games during 2014 season and registered 56 tackles and six sacks.


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(10:35 am ET) Patriots center Bryan Stork is dealing with an MCL injury in his knee, but is expected to start the Super Bowl on Sunday against the Seahawks, sources told the NFL Network.

Stork suffered the injury during the divisional playoff game against the Ravens. He was recently upgraded from questionable to probable.

The Patriots were favored by one-point, but the line has moved to pick'em.


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(9:31 am ET) Wanting to keep Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch for the long haul, the Seahawks have offered Lynch a contract extension that could possibly keep him in Seattle for the rest of his career, sources told NFL.com.

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