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Four Quarters: Fantasy is a 50/50 proposition

Michael Hurcomb
Fantasy Writer
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I keep saying to myself, "50 percent. 50 percent."

No, I haven't lost my mind. This doesn't have to do Shaquille O' Neal's lifetime free-throw percentage in the NBA, which isn't far off from his substandard 52.7 percent success rate. And this doesn't have to do with President Barack Obama's approval rate, which is way south of the 50 percent barrier heading into the New Year.

No, I'm babbling like a mad man because 50 percent is the number of Fantasy owners in CBSSports.com Fantasy Football leagues that passed on the opportunity to start Cardinals running back Beanie Wells in Week 12, which includes yours truly.

In a 14-team league, I chose to start Arian Foster and Cedric Benson as my two running backs and used Willis McGahee as my flex option. All three players had double-digit Fantasy performances, but none measured up to Wells' career day.

In case you were forced to travel on Sunday following the holiday weekend or were wrangled into some bargain-hunting shopping with the wife, then you missed Wells thrashing the Rams defense for 228 rushing yards and one touchdown.

"That is what we have been striving to get Beanie to do for a couple of years now, and it's great to see him do that," coach Ken Whisenhunt said following his team's 23-20 victory.

Failed potential is only part of the reason Wells was benched in half of CBSSports.com Fantasy leagues. Another key component was the fact Wells' performance lately has been unnerving because of a lingering right knee injury, which he aggravated Sunday but was able to finish out the game after missing a few plays.

And yet here we are again at a crossroads with Wells heading into Week 13. Undoubtedly, his Week 12 performance is going to send Wells' Fantasy starting percentage skyrocketing. But the December road won't be easy.

Ahead on the Cardinals schedule in December are games with Dallas, San Francisco, Cleveland and Cincinnati. The Browns are the only favorable matchup on paper as the remaining three teams are yielding 15.1 Fantasy points or less per week to running backs.

It all comes back to 50 percent, which also happens to be the odds you get when flipping a coin, which is similar to the feeling you have when faced with starting Wells on a weekly basis.

First Quarter -- Surprises of the Week

Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick and Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez entered their Week 12 showdown with a combined four touchdown passes and 11 interceptions in November. The duo combined for seven touchdown passes and one interception Sunday ... Congrats to the 18 percent of Fantasy owners that started Redskins running back Roy Helu, who totaled 163 yards and one touchdown against the Seahawks. Redskins coach Mike Shanahan doesn't make this easy for us ... There was a report Ryan Mathews was going to be limited Week 12 because of injury. He didn't seem very hobbled as he showed great burst on his way to a season-high 137 rushing yards against Denver ... It's not hard to see who could become Caleb Hanie's favorite target while replacing the injured Jay Cutler, as Bears wide receiver Johnny Knox had his best performance of the season Week 12 ... Deion Branch had nine catches for 98 yards in his first three November games. He torched Philadelphia's vaunted secondary for six catches for 125 yards in Week 12 ... Leave it to Browns rookie Greg Little to score his first career touchdown against a Bengals secondary yielding 0.8 receiving touchdowns per game to receivers ... Bengals rookie A.J. Green became the first receiver to break 100 yards against the Browns this season, proving in the process that he has earned your trust as a must-start Fantasy option regardless of the matchup ... Jets tight end Dustin Keller had his first two scores in Week 12 since he scored in consecutive games to open the season ... Bears tight end Kellen Davis has scored in consecutive games and has scored on 33 percent of his receptions this season (4 for 12).

Second Quarter -- Busts of the Week

Chiefs quarterback Tyler Palko has no touchdowns and six interceptions in two starts since replacing the injured Matt Cassel (hand). It's only going to be a matter of time before it's the Kyle Orton show ... John Skelton has been just as bad in his last two starts, throwing five interceptions and no touchdowns. It appears Kevin Kolb's job is waiting for him ... I couldn't save this for the injury report section because I think it deserves to be here. A week after bursting back onto the Fantasy scene, Lions running back Kevin Smith is once again battling an injury (ankle) and many frustrated owners had to witness the heartbreak on Thanksgiving Day ... Colts running back Joseph Addai returned from a hamstring injury in Week 12 and drew the start in a very favorable matchup against the Panthers. Sadly, he averaged 3.3 yards per carry and was eventually replaced by Donald Brown as the Colts' lead back ... Jackie Battle capped a disappointing November with 20 rushing yards on nine attempts against the Steelers and is no longer a hot Fantasy commodity ... With a one-catch, 5-yard performance against Oakland, we saw Sunday how much Earl Bennett is going to miss Jay Cutler ... Jerome Simpson followed up his career performance in Week 11 with two catches for 15 yards in Week 12 ... Vincent Jackson is just as inconsistent, frustrating Fantasy owners with another poor performance on Sunday following a great outing in Week 11 ... Mike Wallace saved his worst performance of the season with Fantasy playoff berths and seeding on the line ... Andre Johnson returned from a hamstring injury to deal with two backup quarterbacks and finished with just 22 yards on two catches.

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Third Quarter -- Injury Report

Matt Leinart is likely about to join fellow Texans quarterback Matt Schaub on injured reserve after suffering a reported collarbone injury Week 12 ... Packers running back James Starks came into his team's short Week 12 turnaround battling ankle and knee injuries and couldn't finish the Thanksgiving showdown with the Lions after tweaking his ankle ... Seahawks wide receiver Sidney Rice suffered another head injury Sunday, which is likely to put his Week 13 status in serious doubt.

Fourth Quarter -- Early Look Ahead

Indianapolis at New England clearly doesn't have the same allure sans Colts quarterback Peyton Manning, who is still out with a neck injury ... Cincinnati at Pittsburgh is a rematch of their Week 10 slugfest, which saw Pittsburgh escape with a 24-17 win ... Atlanta at Houston was a bigger matchup a few weeks ago when Matt Schaub was healthy. With T.J. Yates now at the helm for Houston, we might see a lot of Arian Foster and Ben Tate in Week 13 ... The Tim Tebow show makes its next stop in Minnesota ... Cleveland is 4-7, but would be in a lot worse of shape if not for its defense. Therefore, their Week 13 showdown with AFC North foe Baltimore could be a low-scoring affair ... Green Bay at N.Y. Giants will feature two of the best passing offenses in the NFL ... Detroit at New Orleans is another matchup of top 10 passing offenses.

Overtime -- Q & A

Where was Julio Jones in Week 12? -- Charan Sidhu (@CBSFantasyFB)

MH: I was one of many frustrated Jones owners on Sunday. The talented rookie returned from his latest hamstring injury and didn't even record a catch. Jones was on the field plenty against the Vikings. It's just that Atlanta saw other ways to beat the Vikings defense and didn't need to expose the rookie receiver to potentially another setback. The emergence of Harry Douglas and Tony Gonzalez still drawing coverage in the middle of the field should help open up favorable matchups for Jones moving forward. It's not time to give up on him.

I'm commissioner of a league that uses a team quarterback. One of the owners is complaining about getting torched by the Bills team quarterback this weekend because Brad Smith's stats went to that position. Clearly, Smith is playing wide receiver now. What is your take on what is fair? --Joel Mollhagen

MH: That owner is just mad he lost. What happened if Ryan Fitzpatrick scored a receiving touchdown on a trick play? Would you take that touchdown away from him? Smith is still listed as a quarterback by the Bills, and his ability to play multiple positions is part of the strategy that goes into using the Bills team quarterback. It's just sour grapes. If the shoe was on the other foot, that owner wouldn't have a problem taking Smith's points.

My trade deadline is on Wednesday. I have Brandon Lloyd, Andre Johnson, Mike Wallace and Santana Moss at wide receiver. I have Ray Rice, Roy Helu, Peyton Hillis and a concussed Jahvid Best at running back. I am thinking of trading a receiver for a running back, as I am still hesitant about Helu because of Mike Shanahan's shenanigans. I'm thinking Lloyd is the man to ship as he has been very consistent in St. Louis and has a very tough schedule ahead of him. Should I trade someone else? -- Josh Perusse

MH: Perhaps it is a little late right now to get full value for Johnson because we saw in Week 12 what his future holds without Matt Schaub at quarterback. But I think on name alone you could probably still land a pretty good running back for the veteran receiver. If you're not interested in trading Johnson, then Lloyd is your best bet. His remaining schedule is not the concern for me since he clearly thrives in offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels' system. He just has the most trade value for what you seek and his loss won't cripple your lineup.

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
Ex-teammate: Marshawn Lynch to hold out of training camp
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(7/24/2014) Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch, who's reportedly unhappy with his contract, is expected to hold out of training camp, former teammate Michael Robinson told NFL Network Total Access on Thursday.

"Marshawn Lynch just called me, we just talked. He said he will be holding out from training camp," Robinson said on the show.

Lynch attended the team's mandatory minicamp and is subject to fines if he holds out of training camp. He totaled over 1,500 yards of offense with 14 total touchdowns last year but had over 400 total touches between the regular season and postseason.


Chris Johnson looks 'light on his feet, and fast'
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(7/24/2014) Jets running back Chris Johnson, who had offseason knee surgery, "looked light on his feet, and fast" at practice Thursday, reports ESPN.com. "I haven't really [gone] 100 percent with the team since I have been here so being able to go out there and run and do all the team periods felt good," Johnson said.

The Jets used him on rushing plays and also lined him up wide as a receiver. Johnson fumbled on a running play but overall "seemed right at home," the website said. "I felt good," Johnson said. "I felt no pain or anything like that."

His main competition for carries, Chris Ivory, sat out with a hamstring problem.


Bills make roster moves
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(7/24/2014) The Bills claimed center Jared Wheeler off waivers from the Panthers and waived/injured cornerback Brandon Smith.

Giants working extensively on no-huddle
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(7/24/2014) The Giants ran 59 no-huddle plays all of last season. That represented 4.7 percent of their total plays. In contrast, the Eagles ran a league-high 705 no-huddle plays (51.1 percent) and the Broncos ran 537 (35.4 percent).

It appears the Giants plan to have Eli Manning operating out of the no-huddle more often. Their first three practices featured frequent use of the no-huddle.

"It keeps defenses on their toes," running back Rashad Jennings said. "[Offensive coordinator Ben] McAdoo has a way to keep the defense on their toes, put pressure on them, get the long shots, get the grinding yards. It’s a lot of different ways to attack a defense. Also, it puts a lot of ownership on the players to learn the playbook. It puts the capability in the quarterback’s hands to make decisions."

Jennings said the team can run its entire offense out of the no-huddle. Wideout Rueben Randle also loves it.

"It gives us time to get set and see what the defense is going to do, to keep them out of position," he said. "Switching in our personnel to take advantage of the personnel they have out there. Hopefully, they’re in regular [defense] and we’re in three-wide, so we can spread the ball out a little bit and use our speed to make a few plays."


Steve Smith 'puts on a show'
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(7/24/2014) New Ravens receiver Steve Smith "put on a show" in the team's first training camp practice, reports ESPN.com. Smith faked out starting corner Lardarius Webb on an out route, then beat Webb and projected No. 3 corner Chykie Brown on deep passes, the report said.

The website also credited Smith with raising the intensity level at practice.


Vince Wilfork practicing without limitations
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(7/24/2014) Patriots defensive tackle Vince Wilfork, who's coming back from a ruptured Achilles, looked good during the team's first practice and said he's working without restrictions.

"If I had limitations, I wouldn’t be practicing," Wilfork told the Boston Herald. "My job is to help my teammates the best way I can, whatever that may be. The only way for me to help my teammates is to be on the field and be healthy. Right now, I’m on the field and I’m healthy. If anything happens in the future, I can’t predict that. But right now my job is to help this team the best way I can and get better each day and that’s what I’m going to do."


Ronald Leary has strained hamstring
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(7/24/2014) Cowboys starting guard Ronald Leary strained his hamstring taking a conditioning test Monday, reports ESPN.com. He's starting camp on the PUP list. It's unclear how long he'll be out.

Jamaal Charles gets $8.3 million guaranteed
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(7/24/2014) Jamaal Charles' four-year contract extension includes $8.3 million guaranteed but no guaranteed money beyond this season, reports Pro Football Talk. The Chiefs' star running back is now signed through 2017.

Marcus Lattimore on NFI list with two injuries
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(7/24/2014) 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said running back Marcus Lattimore is starting camp on the non-football injury list because that's what doctors and trainers recommended, reports the Sacramento Bee.

Asked if the problem was Lattimore's surgically reconstructed knee or the hamstring strain he suffered in the spring, Harbaugh replied, "A combination of the two." Harbaugh declined to elaborate.

Other reports indicate Lattimore is not too far away from being ready. He could be activated at any time.


'Won't be too long' until Knowshon Moreno returns for Miami
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(7/24/2014) Dolphins coach Joe Philbin said he's not worried about Knowshon Moreno coming back in bad shape. The team opens training camp on Thursday and will begin practicing soon thereafter. Moreno had offseason knee surgery after reportedly showing up to camp out of shape. 

"Not full throttle 100 percent reps yet but won't be too long," Philbin said of Moreno via the Miami Herald.


 
 
 
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