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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: Titans, TE Craig Stevens agree to restructured contract
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12:29 am ET) The Titans and tight end Craig Stevens agreed to a restructured contract Wednesday, The Tennessean reports.

Stevens had been scheduled to make $3.5 million in 2015, but he'll make a similar amount to his $1.6-million salary from 2014. He was placed on injured reserve after five games last season due to a thigh injury.


Vikings sign defensive end Caesar Rayford
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(4/1/2015) The Vikings signed defensive end Caesar Rayford on Wednesday, Rayford's representation, the Willis & Woy Sports group announced.

Rayford attended the NFL veterans combine, which gave him another look for NFL teams. Rayford was last in the CFL and the Arena League. He was last in the NFL in 2013 when he was with the Cowboys. 


Broncos LB Reggie Walker said he'll add versatility to position
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(4/1/2015) Linebacker Reggie Walker is all right with doing whatever the Broncos coaching staff asks of him. 

Walker, in an interview with DenverBroncos.com, said one of his biggest assets as a football player is the ability to play multiple positions as a linebacker. However, his primary position is at inside linebacker. 

"I’ve had to play in multiple positions throughout my football career; I can do a lot," Walker said. "I think I can do a lot very well. Hopefully I can come out here and show that and I’m going to be ready to compete."

Walker will earn his pay check on special teams. That was a role he played with the Chargers and one the Broncos will rely on him for as well. 

"Special teams is all a mindset," Walker said. "It’s all just about who’s willing to work harder and I’m going to work as hard as I can so I’ll be great at it."


Browns' Randy Starks wants to 'take care of the defensive line'
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(4/1/2015) One attribute that defensive lineman Randy Starks is looking to bring to the Browns is leadership. 

Coming from Miami, Starks is hoping to be an outspoken leader to the younger members on the defensive line. Starks added that he doesn't necessarily want to try and assert his authority over the whole defense. 

“I’m not trying to come here and take over the whole defense," Starks said on Sirius XM radio, via ClevelandBrowns.com. "I’m just trying to take care of the defensive line, and that will help take care of the defense itself. Because we have (Karlos) Dansby and Joe Haden to take care of their respective positions.”

Starks recorded 28 tackles and 4 1/2 sacks in 15 games in 2014. In 11 seasons, Starks has only been to the playoffs twice. He's hoping that changes with the Browns. 

“That’s the same thing I told (coach Mike Pettine): I’m trying to win games," Starks said. "I’m trying to get to the playoffs. And we’re on the same page.”


Cardinals' Kareem Martin could move from DE to OLB
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(4/1/2015) Cardinals pass-rusher Kareem Martin could be going from having his hand in the dirt to standing up with the intent of rushing the passer. 

Martin, who spent his rookie season at defensive end, is being considered for a move to outside linebacker, coach Bruce Arians told the team's website

"With his length, I wouldn't say he's (San Francisco’s) Aldon Smith at this point in his career, but he's got that body style and he's shown some stuff off the edge,” Arians said. “So we are going to look at him to see if he can play in space at all. That might be a spot where he can find his niche as a pass rusher.”

Martin actually spent one day during his rookie year in the outside linebackers meeting room before making the move to defensive end. When Martin worked with the scout team, he would occasionally work as an outside linebacker.

“Being on the edge won’t be so foreign to me,” Martin said. “I’m ready for it.” 


Ravens' Steve Bisciotti: Haloti Ngata could return in 2016
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(4/1/2015) In a conference call with PSL ticket holders, Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti didn't rule out the possibility of defensive tackle Haloti Ngata returning to the organization in 2016. 

The Ravens tried to restructure Ngata's contract but were unable to, and thus traded him to the Lions. Ngata is in the final year of a four-year, $48.5 million contract he signed after the 2011 season started. 

Ngata was drafted by the Ravens in the first round in 2006. In his nine-year career, he's totaled 445 tackles and 25.5 sacks. 


Ravens working on contract extension with G Marshal Yanda
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(4/1/2015) The Ravens are working on a contract extension with right guard Marshal Yanda, owner Steve Bisciotti said on a conference call with PSL ticket holders. 

Yanda is slated to earn a $5.5 million base salary and carry an $8.45 million cap number heading into 2015, the final year of his contract. Yanda's regarded as one of the top interior linemen in the NFL, making him a prime candidate for the Ravens to work a new deal out with. 


Jets re-sign offensive tackle Ben Ijalana
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(4/1/2015) The Jets announced on Wednesday that they have re-signed offensive tackle Ben Ijalana

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Reports: Stefan Wisniewski visited Jaguars, Patriots
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(4/1/2015) The Jaguars hosted free-agent center Stefen Wisniewski on a visit on Wednesday, according to a report from the Florida Times-Union.

Wisniewski also recently visited the Patriots, according to NFL.com, with both New England and Jacksonville in need of interior offensive linemen. Wisniewski spent the past four years with the Raiders, appearing in 61 games. 


Jets sign linebacker Jamari Lattimore
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(4/1/2015) The Jets announced on Wednesday that they have signed unrestricted free agent linebacker Jamari Lattimore

Lattimore spent the previous four seasons with the Packers. Lattimore signed with the Packers in 2011 as an undrafted free agent out of Middle Tennessee State. He's played inside linebacker and special teams for Green Bay. 

In 2014, Lattimore started five games and totaled 35 tackles. 


 
 
 
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