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Four Quarters: Few owners cash in with Brown

Michael Hurcomb
Fantasy Writer
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Thanks to the marketing department at shipping conglomerate UPS, the world will forever be haunted by the slogan, "What can brown do for you?"

Up until Sunday I honestly didn't think many Americans gave a hoot. But now the Colts and Fantasy Football owners have an answer to the riddle.

Third-year running back Donald Brown rushed for a career-high 161 yards, including a game-clinching 80-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter, giving us a pretty good idea what Brown can do for you.

"I think the world of him, as a football player, more as a person," quarterback Dan Orlovsky told reporters of Brown. "He is a guy I feel gets better with every carry. He starts to run better as the game goes on. His eyes, I think get better. I don't know how to play running back, but I feel when he gets the touches he can make plays. He continues to do that."

But up until 2011 the former UConn standout and 2009 first-round pick has been more of a Fantasy bust than boom. Plagued by injuries and uninspiring play, Brown entered this season third on the depth chart behind Joseph Addai and rookie Delone Carter.

Brown didn't even get a carry this season until the fifth game against Kansas City, when a hamstring injury befell Addai. If it weren't for that injury, then Brown still might be meddling in obscurity.

Brown still had to wait patiently behind Carter, but once the rookie started experiencing fumbling issues, Brown struck when the iron was hot and hasn't looked back.

Orlovsky's former teammate at Connecticut averaged 4.8 yards per carry in October, 4.6 yards per carry in November and is now averaging 5.9 yards per carry in December. He also has a rushing touchdown in five of his last nine games.

Durability has been Brown's key to success this season. Being able to stay off the trainer's table has allowed Brown to finally live up to his potential and become a complete package for the Colts and Fantasy owners.

First Quarter -- Surprises of the Week

Matt Ryan was just the second quarterback in the last nine games to throw multiple touchdowns against the Jaguars ... Michael Vick was just the fourth quarterback this season with 20-plus Fantasy points against the Jets ... Cam Newton was just the second quarterback with 20-plus Fantasy points against the Texans, joining Drew Brees ... C.J. Spiller racked up 28 Fantasy points against a Miami defense yielding 12.7 Fantasy points per week to running backs ... Ryan Mathews and Mike Tolbert combined for three rushing touchdowns against a Baltimore defense that allowed a total of six rushing touchdowns to running backs in its first 13 games ... Reggie Bush continued his remarkable December with a career-high 203 rushing yards against Buffalo. He now has 406 rushing yards in three December games and just might end up being the key to many Fantasy championships this year. That's just weird to say ... Who would have thought that the week Adrian Peterson returns to the lineup is the week Toby Gerhart gets his first career multi-touchdown game ... Only 12 percent of owners started Raiders receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey during his career-best performance (155 yards) against Detroit, who have allowed only four receivers to surpass 100 yards this season ... Browns rookie Greg Little finally had the breakout performance (131 yards) we have been waiting for all season ... Brent Celek took advantage of a Jets secondary missing safety Jim Leonhard to lead all tight ends with 156 receiving yards Week 15 ... Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez also took advantage of a secondary in distress as Broncos safety Brian Dawkins was out Sunday due to injury. That freed up Hernandez to finish with 19 Fantasy points against a defense coming into Week 15 yielding just 5.3 Fantasy points per week to tight ends.

Second Quarter -- Duds of the Week

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Matt Hasselbeck became just the second quarterback, joining rookie Blaine Gabbert, to record less than 10 Fantasy points against the Colts this season ... Eli Manning stunned his Fantasy owners with a three-interception, no-touchdown performance against Washington. He had less Fantasy points than Caleb Hanie, Dan Orlovsky and Jake Locker, who played less than seven minutes in the fourth quarter ... Many Fantasy owners started Texans backup running back Ben Tate as a No. 3 Fantasy running back or flex option in Week 15 against a beleaguered Panthers run defense yielding 24.1 Fantasy points per week to running backs. Tate rushed for a disappointing 26 yards on seven carries ... Marion Barber followed up his 108-yard rushing performance in Week 14 with 33 yards on the ground in Week 15 ... Brandon Jacobs cooled off after three straight strong Fantasy performances to rush for no touchdowns and 33 yards against Washington ... Kevin Smith returned from an ankle injury in Week 15 to face one of the worst rushing defenses in the NFL. He managed just 43 rushing yards against a Raiders defense yielding 21.2 Fantasy points per week to running backs ... Percy Harvin finally settled down, and it surprisingly came against a Saints defense yielding 23.5 Fantasy points per week to receivers ... Jordy Nelson stepped into the starting lineup in place of the injured Greg Jennings. Nelson responded with two Fantasy points in a loss to Kansas City ... The Bucs' Mike Williams has been bad this year, but he hit a new low with no targets Saturday against Dallas ... Falcons veteran tight end Tony Gonzalez saved his worst performance (one Fantasy point) for when owners needed him most.

Third Quarter -- Injury Report

Bengals rookie receiver A.J. Green played through a Grade 3 sprain of his right shoulder Sunday. He needed a cortisone injection to make it through the game against St. Louis, but Green said afterward that he won't let this injury keep him out the last two games ... Bills receiver Steve Johnson suffered a groin injury late in the game Sunday against Miami ... Giants tight end Jake Ballard suffered a knee sprain on his only reception in Week 15. He tried to play through it, but was unable.

Fourth Quarter -- Early Look Ahead

Most of the games in Week 16 will be played on Christmas Eve (Saturday), so keep that in mind before taking a break for the holidays ... Thanks to the Giants loss to the Redskins and the Eagles rout of the Jets, the NFC East race is interesting again. Left-for-dead Philadelphia still has a chance for the playoffs if it can knock off division rival Dallas in Week 16 and the Jets can defeat the Giants. That would make Week 17 very interesting ... Arizona at Cincinnati isn't a marquee matchup, but both teams are still clinging to playoff hopes. Although, this could be a defensive battle since neither team has scored more than 24 points in its last seven games ... Oakland at Kansas City also has playoff implications for the wild AFC West ... San Diego at Detroit has the makings to be the game of the week. San Diego has won its last three games and hasn't allowed an opponent to score more than 16 points in four straight games. Detroit has struggled defensively in the second half of the season, allowing 27 or more points in six straight games. This could be a quarterback duel between Philip Rivers and Matthew Stafford ... The Monday night game in Week 16 is an NFC South showdown between Atlanta and New Orleans. The Falcons will head to the Superdome looking to avenge an earlier overtime loss at home this season to the Saints.

Overtime -- Q & A

I've got Marshawn Lynch, however, next week he's at San Francisco. Do I keep him in or plug in Felix Jones (vs. Philadelphia) or Rashard Mendenhall (vs. St. Louis)? --Ben Robles (Facebook)

MH: I understand your dilemma. The Eagles and Rams are two of the worst teams in the NFL against the run, allowing 19 or more Fantasy points per week to running backs, while the 49ers are stout against the run and have yet to allow a rushing touchdown this season.

Lynch rushed for just 33 yards and no touchdowns on 13 carries against the 49ers in Week 1. However, he has been a different running back since then. He has a rushing touchdown in all but one of his last 10 games. And in the game he didn't rush for a score, Lynch had a receiving touchdown. That's 10 games in a row with a touchdown.

The only back I would entertain starting over Lynch is Jones, who is coming off consecutive 100-yard rushing performances. However, he has no touchdowns in either game and has lost two fumbles.

Despite the tough matchup, I will not be the guy that tells you to bench Lynch, who has 10-plus Fantasy points in nine of his last 10 games.

I have a decision to make in my championship game in Week 16. Choose one of these three running backs: Frank Gore vs. Seattle, Beanie Wells vs. Bengals or Michael Turner vs. Saints. --John Schmitt (Facebook)

MH: I'm going with Turner. He hasn't scored in his last two games against New Orleans, but he rushed for 96 yards in their earlier matchup this season and has had less than 61 yards just once in six games against New Orleans since he joined Atlanta.

Turner also has four rushing touchdowns in those six games and the Saints are yielding 17.9 Fantasy points per week to running backs this season. The Seahawks and Bengals are allowing 16.4 or less Fantasy points per week to running backs.

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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Coach: Stephen Hill 'healthy and confident' unlike last year
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(5:59 pm ET) Jets receivers coach Sanjay Lal notices a major difference with Stephen Hill as he enters his third year in the NFL.

"Healthy and confident," Lal told The Star-Ledger. "That’s the biggest thing. I think he’s believing, and believing in himself – and it’s starting to show."

Hill struggled with knee injuries, inconsistency and dropped passes his first two seasons.

"It’s been the injuries that have hindered it and kind of somewhat made it harder than it could have been," Lal said. "He’s taken the coaching the whole time. Now, he’s able to do it physically, so it’s just kind of coming together right now."

Hill has a chance to be the No. 2 receiver behind Eric Decker.


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Crabtree missed the first 11 games last year due to a torn Achilles he suffered in May 2013. "Even at the end of last season, he wasn’t 100 percent," Kaepernick said. "And he was making plays for us. I’m excited to see what he’s going to do, now that he’s 100 percent."


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Lynch can be fined $30,000 for every day he misses, and the team could try to go after a portion of his signing bonus.


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Last year Knowshon Moreno led the team with 241 carries while the rookie Ball got 119. Moreno is in Miami now.

"It's an ideal situation for me, but I am taking nothing for granted," Ball said. "This is a great offense to play in because the defense always has to respect the pass, and Peyton [Manning] creates opportunities for the running backs. It's up to me to make it work to my advantage."


Report: Josh Gordon arguing second-hand smoke as defense
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(4:29 pm ET) In his appeal hearing Friday, Browns receiver Josh Gordon will argue that his failed drug test resulted from second-hand smoke, reports ESPN.com. As it is, Gordon's failed test came out at 16 nanograms per milliliter, just one nanogram above the NFL threshold of 15 nanograms per milliliter, according to Pro Football Talk.

Gordon has hired the same attorney, Maurice Suh, who got Seahawks corner Richard Sherman's four-game suspension reduced to nothing. Gordon is facing a potential one-year suspension if he's not successful Friday.


 
 
 
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