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Into the deep for Week 13

Senior Fantasy Writer
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Every week I'll dive into some sleepers beyond what we write in Start 'Em and Sit 'Em to help some of you in deeper leagues. Some weeks will have more guys than others, but this should be helpful for those owners in 14- and 16-team leagues.

Quarterback

Ryan Fitzpatrick (vs. TEN): We'll give Fitzpatrick another chance this week after his performance in Week 12 at the Jets with 31 Fantasy points. With Fred Jackson (calf) now out, the Bills will rely on Fitzpatrick as much as possible, and he should be OK in this matchup with the Titans. Tennessee has allowed four quarterbacks to pass for multiple touchdowns, and Fitzpatrick has at least 18 Fantasy points in three of five home games this year. We're not big fans of Steve Johnson in this matchup, so look for Fitzpatrick to lean on David Nelson, Scott Chandler and C.J. Spiller. He has the chance to be a Top 15 quarterback this week. (Started in 13 percent of leagues in Week 12)
Alex Smith (vs. STL): You have to give the Rams some credit for their pass defense of late since they have not allowed a quarterback to score multiple touchdowns since Week 7, which includes a matchup against Drew Brees. But part of that also includes some easy matchups against John Skelton twice, Colt McCoy and Tarvaris Jackson. Earlier this season, the Rams allowed multiple touchdowns against Michael Vick, Eli Manning, Joe Flacco, Aaron Rodgers and Tony Romo, and Smith could be a sneaky Fantasy option this week. He has at least 17 Fantasy points in four of his past five home games, and he should rebound from his poor performance at Baltimore last week when he had just four Fantasy points. (Started in 17 percent of leagues in Week 12)
Caleb Hanie (vs. KC): Hanie's performance in Week 12 at Oakland wasn't pretty with three interceptions, but he still managed 254 passing yards and two touchdowns and an impressive five carries for 50 yards. He needs to cut down on the turnovers, but if he can continue to run at a high level that will only improve his Fantasy value. We like that he's using Johnny Knox, and hopefully he can involve Earl Bennett more as well. This week, he faces a Chiefs defense that has allowed multiple touchdowns to seven quarterbacks, including three on the road. Hanie might not be a direct replacement for Jay Cutler (thumb), but he could help your Fantasy team in a desperate situation. (Started in 2 percent of leagues in Week 12)

Running back

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Roy Helu (vs. NYJ): Helu finally had the breakout game we were waiting for in Week 12 at Seattle with 21 Fantasy points, and we hope Mike Shanahan will commit to him as the starter for the rest of the season. He doesn't have the best matchup in Week 13 against the Jets, who haven't allowed a running back to score since Week 7, but he is worth using in all leagues because he could be a potential flex option. We could see Helu getting close to 100 total yards in this matchup, and he could be a viable weapon out of the backfield as a receiver. (Started in 18 percent of leagues in Week 12)
C.J. Spiller (vs. TEN): Spiller had a difficult game in Week 12 at the Jets with 19 carries for 55 yards and three catches for 15 yards. He should do better than six Fantasy points in this matchup with the Titans. Tennessee has allowed eight touchdowns to opposing running backs and eight to reach double digits in Fantasy points. They have yielded 203 rushing yards, 65 receiving yards and a touchdown the past two games against Michael Turner and LeGarrette Blount. Spiller has the chance for 100 total yards in this matchup, and we consider him a strong flex play in all leagues, especially in PPR formats. (Started in 35 percent of leagues in Week 12)
Donald Brown (at NE): Brown is worth using as a flex option in deeper leagues with his performance over the past six games. He has at least six Fantasy points in five of his past six games with three touchdowns over that span, and the Colts might continue to rely on him in case he's the starter in 2012. Joseph Addai could start to get the majority of carries soon as his injured hamstring gets better, and he even started against Carolina. But Brown should still get most of the work against the Patriots, who have allowed eight touchdowns to opposing running backs and eight to reach double digits in Fantasy points. (Started in 17 percent of leagues in Week 12)
Kendall Hunter (vs. STL): This should be a week where Hunter gets some increased chances to run the ball in the fourth quarter with the 49ers grinding out the clock. Frank Gore remains a must-start Fantasy running back this week, but Hunter can be a useful option in deeper formats. The Rams have allowed 10 touchdowns to opposing running backs and eight have reached double digits in Fantasy points. Hunter has three games this year with at least nine Fantasy points, and he has the chance for a quality outing if San Francisco builds an early lead in this game as expected. (Started in 5 percent of leagues in Week 12)
Marion Barber (vs. KC): Barber had his best rushing game of the season in Week 12 at Oakland with 10 carries for 63 yards. He has double digits in carries in two of his past three games, and he has five rushing touchdowns on the season. Matt Forte remains a must-start Fantasy running back this week, but Barber has done a solid job as a complementary option. He has the chance to score against the Chiefs, who have allowed 10 touchdowns to opposing running backs and eight to reach double digits in Fantasy points. He is worth using as a flex option or spot starter in deeper leagues. (Started in 18 percent of leagues in Week 12)

Wide receiver

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Michael Crabtree (vs. STL): Crabtree is a risky Fantasy option in all leagues because he has just one touchdown on the season, and he has three games with five Fantasy points or less in three of his past five outings. But he has a favorable matchup this week against the Rams, who have allowed 14 touchdowns to opposing receivers and six to reach double digits in Fantasy points. Crabtree has scored in each of his past two games against St. Louis. And he has double digits in Fantasy points in two of his past three home games. Crabtree should be considered a solid No. 3 Fantasy receiver in all leagues. (Started in 29 percent of leagues in Week 12)
Deion Branch (vs. IND): We know the Colts defense is a mess. We know the Patriots should win this game easily, and we know Tom Brady should have his way with this secondary. That lends itself to all the New England receivers playing well, and Branch should be considered a solid No. 3 Fantasy option. Indianapolis has allowed 14 touchdowns to opposing receivers and nine have reached double digits in Fantasy points. Branch has at least nine Fantasy points in six games this season, and he is coming off an impressive performance at Philadelphia with six catches for 125 yards. The one thing to consider with Branch is he hasn't had good games in consecutive weeks since Week 2, but he is worth the risk as a starter given the matchup. (Started in 26 percent of leagues in Week 12)
Doug Baldwin (vs. PHI): Baldwin will have to step up now that Sidney Rice (concussion) is out for the season. Baldwin has played well lately with at least five Fantasy points in four of his past five games, but he hasn't scored a touchdown since Week 5. The Eagles' secondary is a mess right now, and Baldwin could have an opportunity to make plays on Thursday. In their past five games against Dallas, Chicago, Arizona, the Giants and New England, the Eagles have given up 60 catches for 1,012 yards and eight touchdowns to opposing receivers with six reaching double digits in Fantasy points. (Started in 7 percent of leagues in Week 12)
Riley Cooper (at SEA): Cooper continues to play well with Jeremy Maclin (hamstring) out. He now has eight catches for 146 yards and a touchdown in his past two games with 17 targets over that span. Maclin is out again in Week 13, which will keep Cooper in the starting lineup. He should be considered a quality No. 3 Fantasy receiver in all formats since the Seahawks have allowed nine touchdowns to opposing receivers and eight to reach double digits in Fantasy points. (Started in 4 percent of leagues in Week 12)
Johnny Knox (vs. KC): I guess we know who Hanie's favorite target will be since Knox had his best game in his first start in Week 12 at Oakland with four catches for 145 yards and a touchdown. The Bears should have gotten Knox on the field more often earlier in the season, but he could provide a solid finishing kick. He now has seven catches for 242 yards and two touchdowns in his past two games with 15 targets over that span. We liked Knox a lot coming into the season before the Bears made him a reserve, but he could be an excellent Fantasy option to close the year. For this week, Knox can be considered a No. 3 receiver since the Chiefs have allowed 10 touchdowns to opposing receivers and six have reached double digits in Fantasy points. (Started in 4 percent of leagues in Week 12)

Tight end

Scott Chandler (vs. TEN): Chandler hasn't scored a touchdown since Week 8, but he's actually played well the past two games with 11 catches for 121 yards. He's doing a better job in the middle of the field instead of being just a red-zone threat. He has 12 targets in his past two games, which is his highest activity in any two games this season. And this week he has a favorable matchup against the Titans. Tennessee has allowed six touchdowns to opposing tight ends and eight have reached at least six Fantasy points. Chandler could be a useful starter in deeper formats based on his recent play and the matchup. (Started in 13 percent of leagues in Week 12)
Jermaine Gresham (at PIT): We expected Gresham to play well against the Browns in Week 12, and he had his second touchdown in his past three games. The other touchdown was against the Steelers, who he faces this week. He is a great starting option in deeper formats and could be used in all leagues if your No. 1 tight end (Owen Daniels, Greg Olsen or Brandon Pettigrew for example) is struggling. The Steelers have allowed four touchdowns to opposing tight ends on the season and four have reached at least eight Fantasy points. And if Troy Polamalu (concussion) is out or limited that will only make Gresham that much better. (Started in 23 percent of leagues in Week 12)
Jared Cook (at BUF): Cook is my Hail Mary call of the week, and I might even consider Anthony Fasano a safer sleeper based on his matchup with the Raiders. But Cook has a fantastic matchup against the Bills this week since Buffalo has allowed seven touchdowns to opposing tight ends, including four in the past two games against Miami and the Jets. Eight tight ends have reached at least six Fantasy points against the Bills, and Cook has the chance for one of his best games this year. The problem is just getting him the ball. He does have 16 targets in his past two games, but he has only eight catches for 89 yards over that span. He also hasn't scored since Week 7, but he could be worth starting in deeper formats based on his matchup. (Started in 5 percent of leagues in Week 12)

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us via Twitter @CBSFantasyFB . You can also follow Jamey at @JameyEisenberg and on Facebook .

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Player News
Patriots' Devin McCourty: There's a 'chance that I might not be back'
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(3/2/2015) With the Patriots deciding to use their franchise tag on kicker Stephen Gostkowski, safety Devin McCourty knows his time in New England could be coming to an end. 

In an interview with ESPN's Josina Anderson, McCourty said he didn't have much information on what the Patriots would do and was going off of various media reports that came down to the organization deciding whether to franchise him or Gostkowski. 

Now that Gostkowski is ineligible from hitting the free agent market, McCourty will test the waters beginning on March 10. 

"I guess it's more realistic now that [there's] a chance that I might not be back there," McCourty said. "Or there's still a chance that I will, but I guess [there's] more of a chance now with the franchise tag going to Steve that I could be playing in a different place. Still, keeping an open mind and trying to enjoy the process."

In 2014, McCourty recorded 68 tackles and two interceptions. 


Report: Texans' Andre Johnson given permission to seek trade
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(3/2/2015) Wide receiver Andre Johnson has been given permission by the Texans to seek a trade, according to a report from the Houston Chronicle

The Texans told Johnson that he'd have a reduced role this upcoming season opposite of DeAndre Hopkins. Therefore, Johnson wanted out of his deal. If a trade cannot be made with a suitor, Johnson will be released

Johnson was the third overall pick in the 2003 NFL draft and is the greatest player in the history of the Texans. He's recorded 1,012 catches, 13,597 yards and 64 touchdowns in his career.

A trade could be difficult, however, based on Johnson's upcoming $16.1 million cap figure and $10.5 million base salary for the 2015 season. 


Colts RB Vick Ballard (Achilles) 'on schedule' with recovery
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(3/2/2015) Running back Vick Ballard is poised to be back in the Colts' plans for the 2015 season. 

Ballard, who has missed almost all of the previous two seasons due to injuries, hasn't suffered any setbacks with his recovery, according to the Colts' official website. Ballard tore his ACL in 2013 and suffered an Achilles tear before the 2014 season. 

“Vick’s doing well. He’s going through rehab right now. He’s on schedule,” Colts coach Chuck Pagano said. "He’s been working his tail. When the doctors say he’s 100 percent and ready to roll, then we’ll get him back on the field.”

Ballard led the Colts in rushing as a rookie in 2012 with 814 yards and two touchdowns. He only played in one game in 2013 before tearing his ACL in a practice the following week. His Achilles tear came during the 2014 preseason. 


Report: Jaguars looking for help at RB this offseason
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(3/2/2015) It appears Jaguars running back Toby Gerhart will have new role in 2015. 

According to NFL.com's Ian Rapoport, the Jaguars are planning to move Gerhart around on offense at H-back in addition to running back. This also means the Jaguars will be in the market for additional help at running back. 

Gerhart was plagued by injuries in 2014, which paved the way for Denard Robinson to assert himself as a potential starting running back down the road. Robinson, however, is injury prone himself, which goes back to his days as a standout quarterback in college at Michigan.

Robinson's 2014 season ended on injured reserve with a mid-foot sprain.

Gerhart's season ended with just 326 yards and a patry 3.2 yards per carry average. Robinson emerged late in the year and ran for 582 yards and held a 4.3 yards per carry average.  


Report: Titans parting ways with safety Bernard Pollard
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(3/2/2015) The Titans will release veteran safety Bernard Pollard, according to a report from The Tennessean

Pollard had previously requested for the Titans to release him. He's coming off a season that ended prematurely due to an Achilles tear in early October. He was slated to earn $3.5 million with the Titans this year if he stayed on. 

In the five games he appeared in during the 2014 season, Pollard recorded 27 tackles and one sack. 


Report: Browns looking to add another quarterback
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(3/2/2015) The Browns are not done just yet in their search for quarterback talent, according to ESPN.com. Cleveland is reportedly looking to add at least one more quarterback through the draft or free agency.

The Browns made their signing of Josh McCown to a three-year deal official last week, but appear to want another to go along with him and Johnny Manziel.


Report: Redskins will pursue Ndamukong Suh as free agent
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(3/2/2015) After the Lions chose not to use the franchise tag to retain DE Ndamukong Suh, it became more likely that he'll become an unrestricted free agent on March 10. 

When Suh hits the market, the Redskins will be interested in signing him, reported Dianna Marie Russini of DC's NBC 4, citing sources within the organization. 


Browns don't use franchise tag on Jordan Cameron
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(3/2/2015) The Browns won't use their franchise tag on any player, meaning that TE Jordan Cameron will become a free agent on March 10. 

Cameron had 24 catches for 424 yards and two touchdowns last season, at a salary of $1.431 million.


No franchise tag for Broncos' Julius Thomas
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(3/2/2015) The Broncos will not use their franchise tag on TE Julius Thomas. The team instead tagged WR Demaryius Thomas. 

Julius Thomas will be able to become a free agent on March 10. He had 43 catches for 489 yards and 12 touchdowns last year. Thomas made $645,000 salary last year. 


Report: Bills do not apply franchise tag to linebacker Jerry Hughes
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(3/2/2015) The Bills reportedly chose not to apply their franchise tag to linebacker Jerry Hughes Monday, according to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network.

Buffalo has been working on signing Hughes to a new, long term deal for the past month. The veteran linebacker racked up 10 sacks and totaled 54 tackles in all 16 games in 2014 for the Bills. 


 
 
 
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