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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
Texans' Louis Nix 'trying to move forward' in sophomore season
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(5/28/2015) Texans nose tackle Louis Nix spoke about his lost rookie season this week in OTAs, the Houston Chronicle reports.

"A lot went on my first year here. It was a lot to deal with," said Nix, who underwent arthroscopic knee surgery during the preseason and eventually was placed on season-ending injured reserve. "It was difficult to maintain it with all the issues. But I'm happy about now, and that's what I'm worried about. I'm just trying to move forward and do the best I can."

Coach Bill O'Brien expressed frustration with Nix earlier this offseason.

"Bill is Bill. He challenges everybody," Nix said. "Sometimes you guys make it more than what it is. … He wants guys to be better. I take no offense to it. I know he just wants me to be the best player that I can be. He sees potential, and I see it in myself. I'm starting to get back in a groove of things. I'm just going to keep trying to do the best I can."

Nix is finally healthy and working his way into game shape.

"Make it through a practice, man," Nix said. "That's my goal."


Eagles' Earl Wolff, Marcus Smith limited in OTAs with injuries
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(5/28/2015) Eagles safety Earl Wolff and linebacker Marcus Smith were limited in OTAs with injuries, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.

Wolff is recovering from knee surgery. Coach Chip Kelly said the safety has been cleared to return, and the team is waiting for him to reach full participation in OTAs. Smith has been dealing with a pulled leg muscle.


Packers' Casey Hayward dealing with foot injury
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(5/28/2015) Packers cornerback Casey Hayward is dealing with a foot injury and doesn't expect to return to action until training camp, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports.

"I’ll probably take it easy into camp right now," Hayward said. "I have a minor foot thing right now. We’ll probably take it easy into camp."

Hayward said the foot "flared up" on him earlier in the offseason. He finished with 42 tackles and three interceptions last season.


Ravens' Terrence Brooks running, 'doing really well'
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(5/28/2015) Ravens free safety Terrence Brooks is running after suffering ACL and MCL tears in his right knee in December, the Baltimore Sun reports.

"Terrence Brooks is doing really well," coach Jim Harbaugh said. "No predictions right now, but he looks good. He has worked hard."

Brooks is expected to open the season on the PUP list and could make his return this season.

"We're just hoping for the best, trying to get back as soon as possible," Brooks said. "We're taking precautious. We definitely don't want to rush back too fast. If you do get cleared, playing this year is definitely a goal. You don't want to rush it. For the most part, you have to be cautious and take it easy. After we get off of the PUP list, we'll see where we're at. I definitely want to get back into it, but we're taking our time. I have high hopes of being ready."


Report: OT Jake Long visits Giants Thursday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(5/28/2015) Free-agent offensive tackle Jake Long visited the Giants on Thursday, ESPN reports.

The Giants are having to shuffle their offensive line with Will Beatty expected to miss the first part of the season with a pec injury. Long was scheduled to make $9.25 million in 2015 but was released by the Rams in March.


Saints CB Brandon Browner impressing teammates, coach
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(5/28/2015) New Saints cornerback Brandon Browner is having a positive impact on not just the secondary, but the entire defense. At least that's the view of defensive backfield mate Kenny Vaccaro.

"Browner's a good dude, leads by example, talks when he needs to talk," Vaccaro told the New Orleans Times-Picayune. "He's real serious, kind of keeps everybody level headed and knows what we've got to work for. He's won two Super Bowls, so he knows what to do."

Sean Payton echoed those sentiments.

"He's competitive," he said. "He's driven and certainly one of the things we talked about this offseason through the draft, through the acquisition of players is the makeup and making sure that this is something we felt like was a plus and certainly with him we feel that that is a strength of his."

The Saints are Browner's fourth team in six seasons in the NFL.


Eagles LB DeMeco Ryans working way back from injury
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(5/28/2015) There was a bit of a discrepancy Thursday in regard to the practice participation of Eagles inside linebacker DeMeco Ryans.

Chip Kelly said before the session that Ryans would be a full-go despite him being just seven months removed from rupturing his Achilles tendon. Ryans did practice, but he told the Philadelphia Inquirer that he was not a full participant.

Ryans missed half of the 2014 season with the injury, but contributed to 45 tackles in eight games before going down.


Eagles QB Mark Sanchez optimistic as offseason rolls on
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(5/28/2015) A stronger arm, greater familiarity with the offense and more confidence has Eagles quarterback Mark Sanchez feeling quite good these days.

Sanchez underwent shoulder surgery two years ago that affected him early last season. He expects to be better in 2015, especially if given an opportunity to play over newcomer Sam Bradford.

"First thing, physically, I feel so much better," he told the team website. "The farther it gets away from surgery and all the reps I've had, all the rehab on through, it can only get better and stronger. So this is definitely the best I've ever felt. And then as far as the scheme, every rep, every time we sit down and watch film, every meeting, that can only help with my growth as well."

The chance to play is one reason why Sanchez chose to return this offseason to the Eagles.

"Were there other opportunitites? Absolutely," he said. "Did they look potentially good, better, similar, maybe worse? Potentially, yeah, there was some stuff out there. But when I factored it all in, I just felt this was the best spot for me. I enjoy playing for coach Kelly, I love this system, I love the tempo, I love the pace."

Sanchez also expressed a desire to remain on the team for which he threw his highest completition percentage of his career in 2014. He hit on 64.1 percent, by far a personal best.

Chip Kelly has seen a difference in Sanchez.

"I think you can see it in how he's performing out there now," he said. "He's also not learning an offense again. ... He is really comfortable in terms of the scheme."


Ravens waive/injured Julian Wilson
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(5/28/2015) The Ravens waived/injured cornerback Julian Wilson on Thursday, the Baltimore Sun reports. Wilson suffered a broken leg on the first day of rookie camp and will miss the season.

Saints' Anthony Spencer works ahead of Junior Galette Thursday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(5/28/2015) Saints linebacker Anthony Spencer worked ahead of Junior Galette in the team's base 4-3 defense, a run-heavy look that featured just three linebackers, ESPN.com reports.

"However it came out, we’re not worried about depth chart now," defensive coordinator Rob Ryan said. "We’re putting in a defense, we’re all working hard together and getting to know each other, our teammates and what we got. But I know both those guys can play, so we’re excited about 'em."

Spencer had a career-high 11 sacks in 2012 but has managed just 24 total tackles and a half-sack in 14 games over the last two years while dealing with a major knee injury.

"I think sometimes there are tougher positions to evaluate at this time of year," coach Sean Payton said, when asked to give his early thoughts on Spencer. "But I think, No. 1, he can affect the passer. ... He’s an edge player, I think he’s very good at fitting the run, and I think he can affect the passer."


 
 
 
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