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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
Lions QB Matthew Stafford to take more chances through the air
by Dave Peters | CBSSports.com
(10:01 pm ET) Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford was in new offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi's system for the first time last season. The team plans on taking more chances down the field in Stafford's second season in the new offense, Lombardi said, according to the team's official website.

“In his second year (in the offense) he’s going to be that much more comfortable,” Lombardi said.

“We’ll be able to tailor the offense a little bit more to what he likes and what he’s good at. I thought he played smart football and sometimes to a fault. We’ll look for him to maybe take a few more chances this year with the football.”

Although Stafford didn't take many shots down the field, he did throw a career-low 12 interceptions in 2014. 

The former first overall draft pick has thrown for 21,714 yards with 131 touchdowns and 85 interceptions during his six-year career.


Colts OLB Robert Mathis plans to be ready for training camp
by Dave Peters | CBSSports.com
(8:28 pm ET) Colts outside linebacker Robert Mathis is not ready to run yet, he told Alex Marvez of SiriusXM NFL. Mathis added that he plans to be ready for the start of training camp.

Mathis was suspended for the first four games of last season due to violating the league's substance abuse policy. He then suffered a torn achilles, forcing him to miss all 16 games of the 2014 season.

During his 11-year career with the Colts, Mathis has collected 487 total tackles, 111.0 sacks, 15 passes defensed and 48 forced fumbles.


Lions TE Eric Ebron has been working out with Matthew Stafford
by Dave Peters | CBSSports.com
(8:10 pm ET) Lions offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi said that tight end Eric Ebron has been working out with quarterback Matthew Stafford in Atlanta this offseason, reports the Detroit News. Lombardi also said that the plan is to have Ebron be the No. 3 weapon in the passing game this year.

Ebron, 21, finished his rookie season with 25 catches for 248 yards and one touchdown. 


Cowboys' Tony Romo: DeMarco Murray asked me to take a pay cut
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(7:44 pm ET) Eagles running back DeMarco Murray was really hoping to remain with the Cowboys this offseason. So much so, he asked quarterback Tony Romo to take a pay cut to remain with the team, Romo said on 105.3 The Fan in Dallas on Tuesday, per the Dallas Morning News.

"DeMarco ended up asking me, 'Why don't you take a pay cut?' I said, 'I will. I would take a pay cut to go do this,'" Romo said. "I was like, 'They're going to restructure me.' That's the same thing in some ways, just for the salary cap purposes. He was like, 'OK, now we're back to being friends again.' I would take $5 million less if meant getting him back.

"He knew that. It was just funny how he was literally worried about that part of it for a week. I'm like, 'That's not the reason.' I'm like, 'Obviously I'll restructure. I would even take a pay cut.' He was like, 'OK, we can be friends again.' It's amazing what you think about in those moments."


Giants QB Eli Manning wants to take offense 'to another level'
by Dave Peters | CBSSports.com
(7:42 pm ET) Giants quarterback Eli Manning is entering the second year in offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo's system. Manning is ready to take the next step now that he is familiar with the system, reports the NY Daily News.

““This year will be a much easier transition, knowing that we have been through so much of it already,” said Manning, who recently had been working out at Ole Miss with some of their receivers and alumni. “It’s definitely a different starting point. I feel good about it. I feel that I have a good understanding of it.

“But there is still room to grow and that is why I try to keep it as fresh in my mind as possible. Looking at old game-plan sheets and calling plays in my head – throwing routes with receivers trying to call out plays to myself, so you don’t let it slip away. It was new last year and it wasn’t something I have been doing for 10 years, so you want to keep it fresh and go through your reminders and all your checks. So when we come back I haven’t taken a step backwards and have to re-learn things. It is still all there. There will be new stuff and we will be taking it to another level.”

Manning has started all 16 games in each season since 2005, throwing for 39,755 yards with 259 touchdowns and 185 interceptions.


Saints TE Josh Hill wants to grow into new role
by Dave Peters | CBSSports.com
(7:30 pm ET) After trading trading Jimmy Graham to the Seahawks, tight end Josh Hill is ready to step into his new role with the Saints, according to the team's offical website.

“I think it might open a few opportunities for me as I continue to grow in my role and just do everything they ask me to do,” Hill said when asked about the trade of Graham to the Seahawks.

Hill recognized that Graham helped him transition from college to the professional level.

“It’s a big difference, especially coming from a smaller school and a smaller city," Hill said. "He was always there for me. We became pretty good friends over the past few years so it will definitely be different without him.”

Head coach Sean Payton believes that Hill is ready to step up.

“Josh Hill is a player that we value a lot," Payton said last week at the NFL annual meeting. "He’s not on anyone’s fantasy first three rounds, I promise you, but he’s a real good tight end. He’s versatile in the running game, in the pass receiving game, a special teams player.”

Hill, heading into his third year in the NFL, has recorded 20 receptions for 220 yards and six touchdowns. 


Cowboys QB Tony Romo excited about this offseason
by Dave Peters | CBSSports.com
(7:00 pm ET) Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo is excited about what the offseason holds for him, according to ESPN.

“This is the first offseason where I’ve been able to kind of get after it this early and be able to kind of improve in a lot of different areas that I think you aren’t able to until you get healthy enough to attack it,” Romo said on 105.3 The Fan in Dallas on Tuesday. “I’m just excited about that, really.”

Romo, 34, is encouraged by the fact that he is able to do a lot of different things during the offseason process while working out.

“Now I’m able to do that while actually doing functional strength training through different versions of squats,” Romo said. “I’m not putting anything on my back and doing stuff like that but you are doing a lot of single-leg stuff and different things that I started getting into during the season that helped a lot. Now it’s nice to be able to do that in the offseason.”

Romo has thrown for 33,270 yards with 242 touchdowns and 110 interceptions in his 12-year career. 


WR Dwayne Bowe looks to revitalize himself with Browns
by Dave Peters | CBSSports.com
(6:28 pm ET) Wide receiver Dwayne Bowe is looking to revitalize his career now that he has joined the Browns, reports ESPN. Bowe was cut by the Chiefs in the middle of March.

"I have a chance to revitalize myself," Bowe, 30, told ESPN.com via telephone Tuesday. "Just sit back and watch."

Browns general manager Ray Farmer has familiarity with Bowe from their time with the Chiefs. The two sat down and watched tape from the 2010 season when he racked up 15 touchdown receptions.

"Him knowing what I can do, seeing me in practice, making crazy plays, splitting the safeties, he knows I still can do that," Bowe said. "I couldn't showcase that last year. He was pulling up old plays, saying, 'We are going to use you just like that.' Moving around, going on motion, trying to hit the deep ball, trying to break plays."

The 30-year-old wideout appreciated his time with the Chiefs and he has no regrets.

"It's been up and down, but it's been fun," Bowe said. "I don't regret nothing. People can talk about the NFL and playing wide receiver -- I feel I still have a good four more years in me."

Over his eight-year career, he has totaled 532 receptions for 7,155 yards and 44 touchdowns.


Report: Texans interested in DT Antonio Smith
by Dave Peters | CBSSports.com
(6:04 pm ET) The Texans are interested in signing defensive tackle Antonio Smith, according to NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport. The team is in discussions about bringing back Smith.

Smith, who played for the Texans for five seasons, was released by the Raiders on Tuesday. The 33-year-old has started at least 15 games in each of the last six seasons. Over his 10-year career, he has racked up 302 total tackles, 44.5 sacks, eight passes defensed and 11 forced fumbles.


Report: Chargers sign G Michael Huey, waive Baca, Alecxih
by Dave Peters | CBSSports.com
(5:23 pm ET) The Chargers have signed guard Michael Huey of the Arena Football League, according to the UT San Diego. The team also waived offensive lineman Jeff Baca and defensive lineman Chas Alecxih.

Huey is a three-time All-AFL member, playing for the Arizona Rattlers. He spent three weeks with the Chargers during the 2011 preseason. The Rattlers won the league championship in each year that Huey was there.

Baca, 25, was brought in as insurance as an interior offensive lineman last season after the Chargers went through five starting centers.

Alecxih, twice a member of the team's practice squad, did not see any regular season action in 2014. 

 


 
 
 
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