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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
Steelers K Shaun Suisham scores nine points vs. Bengals
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12:53 am ET) Steelers kicker Shaun Suisham made two field goals and three extra points in his team's 27-17 win over the Bengals in Week 17.

Suisham connected from 29 and 25 yards out in the second quarter to help give his team a 20-10 halftime advantage, and they were able to maintain that margin in the second half. The kicker finishes the regular season with 29 field goals in 32 attempts, but he went just 1-for-3 in attempts of 50 yards or more, with both misses coming at home. He'll have to kick at home in the first round of the playoffs when the Ravens come to town Saturday.


Steelers WR Martavis Bryant catches TD in Week 17 win
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12:50 am ET) Steelers wide receiver Martavis Bryant had just one catch on two targets Sunday but scored a 21-yard touchdown in his team's 27-17 win over the Bengals in Week 17.

Bryant was targeted on a screen pass in the second quarter and split his blockers en route to an easy score on his only catch of the night. He wraps up his rookie season with 26 receptions, 549 yards and eight touchdowns. Bryant will match up with the Ravens in the first round of the playoffs Saturday.


Steelers WR Antonio Brown scores two TDs in Week 17 win
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12:48 am ET) Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown caught seven of his 13 targets for 128 yards with one touchdown and added a 71-yard punt return touchdown in his team's 27-17 division-clinching win over the Bengals in Week 17.

Brown fielded a first-quarter punt on one side of the field and took the ball halfway across the field to his right before changing directions and sprinting back to his left, outrunning the punt coverage team to the edge and racing ahead for the first score of the game. He made an outstanding adjustment on a fourth-quarter pass that was well defended to beat his man and cut past another would-be tackler for a 63-yard touchdown that gave his quarterback a share of the season passing-yardage lead.

Brown had his own stack of accomplishments in 2014, finishing with franchise-best marks in receiving while leading the league with 129 receptions and 1,698 receiving yards while also racking up 13 receiving touchdowns. He'll square off with a depleted Ravens secondary at home in the first round of the playoffs Saturday.


Steelers' Ben Roethlisberger finishes 2014 as passing coleader
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12:40 am ET) Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger completed 24 of his 38 passes for 317 yards with two touchdowns and one interception in his team's 27-17 win over the Bengals in Week 17.

Roethlisberger connected with Martavis Bryant on a screen pass for a 21-yard score in the second quarter then appeared to be completely in sync with leading receiver Antonio Brown on a 63-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter that featured an excellent adjustment from the receiver on well-covered route. That play, which was Roethlisberger's last completion of the day, left the Pittsburgh quarterback with a share of the passing lead on the season, tying Drew Brees with 4,952 passing yards.

Roethlisberger racked up 32 touchdowns while throwing just nine interceptions, and he managed to start all 16 regular-season games for just the third time in his career. With the win, the Steelers wrap up the AFC North title and the No. 3 seed in the AFC. They'll face the Ravens at home Saturday in the first round of the playoffs.


Bengals' Mike Nugent makes one FG, misses one in Week 17 loss
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12:33 am ET) Bengals kicker Mike Nugent made just one of his two field-goal attempts in Sunday night's 27-17 loss to the Steelers in Week 17.

Nugent was able to nail a 39-yard field goal early in the second quarter, but after a Bengals drive stalled to open the second half, he was wide right on a 50-yard attempt. The kicker ends the regular season with 26 field goals on 33 attempts, but he hadn't missed since Week 6 before Sunday's season finale. Nugent will kick indoors in the first round of the playoffs as the Bengals head to Indianapolis to face the Colts.


Bengals TE Jermaine Gresham catches TD vs. Steelers
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12:30 am ET) Bengals tight end Jermaine Gresham caught all three of his targets for 20 yards with one touchdown in his team's 27-17 win over the Steelers in Week 17.

Gresham came out of the game twice in the first half with a back issue and was deemed questionable to return after his second exit from the game. He was able to make it back and score a fourth-quarter touchdown to bring his team within three points, though he appeared to be shaken up on the play.

Gresham ends the regular season with 62 receptions, 460 yards and five touchdowns, including a score in each of his last three games. He'll have a full week to recuperate before the Bengals face the Colts in Indianapolis Sunday.


Bengals RB Giovani Bernard scores TD vs. Steelers
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12:26 am ET) Bengals running back Giovani Bernard rushed for eight yards on just three carries but racked up seven receptions on eight targets for 56 yards and a touchdown in his team's 27-17 loss to the Steelers Sunday.

Bernard displayed excellent athleticism on his 17-yard score in the first quarter, grabbing a short pass across the middle of the field and hurdling over a defender on his way to the end zone. While he's seen his role in the running game reduced in recent weeks, Bernard remains an integral part of the passing attack, catching touchdowns in back-to-back games over the last two weeks.

Bernard ends the regular season with 680 rushing yards on 168 carries and 349 receiving yards on 43 receptions along with seven total touchdowns. He'll square off with the Colts in the first round of the playoffs Sunday.


Bengals RB Jeremy Hill rushes for 100 yards vs. Steelers
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12:23 am ET) Bengals running back Jeremy Hill rushed for 100 yards on 23 carries and added 10 more yards on two receptions in his team's 27-17 loss to the Steelers in Week 17.

Hill closed out his rookie season with three consecutive 100-yard efforts, and he reached the mark five times over the course of the year. He ends the regular season with 1,124 rushing yards on 222 carries as well as 215 receiving yards on 27 receptions to go with 11 touchdowns.

Hill will square off with the Colts Sunday in the first round of the playoffs.


Bengals WR A.J. Green in concussion protocol
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12:20 am ET) Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green is in the concussion protocol after exiting Sunday's 27-17 loss to the Steelers with a head injury, the team announced.

Green lost a fumble and took a shot to the head in the fourth quarter of the game, sending him to the locker room for examination. He finished the game with a team-high eight receptions and 82 yards. Green secured his fourth-straight 1,000-yard season with the performance, ending the regular season with 1,041 yards and six touchdowns on 69 receptions.

The Bengals will head to Indianapolis to face the Colts Sunday, leaving Green with a full week to get cleared.


Bengals QB Andy Dalton throws two TDs in Week 17 loss
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12:14 am ET) Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton completed 27 of his 38 pass attempts for 244 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions in Sunday night's 27-17 loss to the Steelers.

Dalton hit Giovani Bernard with a pass over the middle of the field in the red zone, and he was able to leap over a defender en route to the pylon to score a 17-yard touchdown. Dalton's second score came on a five-yard pass to Jermaine Gresham in the fourth quarter, with the tight end doing most of the work after the catch.

Dalton ends the regular season with 3,398 passing yards, 19 touchdowns and 17 interceptions as well as 169 rushing yards on 60 carries with another four scores on the ground. The Bengals will head to Indianapolis for a first-round matchup with the Colts Sunday.


 
 
 
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