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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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Player News
Cardinals' Larry Foote '50-50' on playing in 2015
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(4/26/2015) Though Larry Foote is on the Cardinals' coaching staff at the moment, he hasn't ruled out a potential return to the team

Speaking to the team's website, Foote said he's "50-50" about playing in 2015. He talked about the factors that could play into whether or not he returns to playing. 

“Draft, what happens with (suspended linebacker) Darryl Washington, stuff like that, how my knee feels (after offseason surgery),” Foote said. “I’ll sit down with (Bruce Arians) and the next couple of months are really going to be the deciding factor.”

If Foote doesn't play, he'll be the linebackers coach for Arizona's upcoming season. He's been adjusting to the role of being a coach this offseason. 

“I am starting to like coaching,” Foote said. “It’s a little tough in the office, eating M&Ms, snacking all day, drinking coffee. I started my diet a couple days ago.”


Panthers pick up option on Luke Kuechly contract
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(4/25/2015) What was promised by general manager Dave Gettleman is now official - the Panthers have picked up the fifth-year option on the rookie contract of standout linebacker Luke Kuechly, per the team website.

The two-time Pro Bowler has led the NFL in tackles in two of his three seasons and was named NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2013. He has racked up 473 tackles since 2012, the most in the NFL.


Ravens TE Dennis Pitta hopeful for 2015 return
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(4/25/2015) Ravens tight end Dennis Pitta hopes to take the field in time for the 2015 season, but admits it's too early to determine if that goal can become a reality.

Pitta has undergone surgeries to repair a fractured and dislocated hip in each of the last two years.

"We still have some time to be able to assess where I'm at," Pitta told the Baltimore Sun. "I sure hope that I'll be on the field next year. That's my hope; that's my goal. We'll just see if I can get there."

Pitta has played in just seven games in the last two seasons combined.


Mark Sanchez: Eagles said Tim Tebow was just a camp arm
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(4/25/2015) Eagles quarterback Mark Sanchez said he wasn't concerned that the team signed Tim Tebow, because the Eagles told him Tebow was just there to throw in camp.

"We needed another guy to throw while Sam's (Bradford) still recovering. So that's the reason (for the signing), at least as explained to me," Sanchez said, per CSN Philadelphia

The Eagles signed Tebow on Monday. He hasn't played in the NFL since getting cut by the Patriots at the end of training camp prior to the 2013 season. He spent last year as a television analyst for the SEC Network. 

Tebow and Sanchez were teammates on the Jets in 2012. Tebow's presence as a back-up created a quarterback controversy among fans and media that last ed throughout the season. 


Vikings CB Terence Newman has familiarity with Mike Zimmer
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(4/24/2015) Vikings cornerback Terence Newman won't have a steep learning curve now that he's with his new team. 

Newman played under Vikings coach Mike Zimmer when he was the defensive coordinator with the Cowboys. Drafted in 2003, Newman learned Zimmer's defense from his rookie season through 2006, before Zimmer left to take the same position with the Falcons. 

“I just know exactly what to expect from him as a coach, as well as everybody else in this locker room,” Newman told the Vikings' website. “You play your best football under him.”

In his career, Newman has recorded 741 tackles and 37 interceptions. Entering his 13th NFL year, Newman has already impressed his teammates with voluntary workouts underway. 

“I met with him and he seemed like a great guy,” cornerback Xavier Rhodes said. “Like he’s going to come in and teach us what we need to know about the technique of the game and about the defense because he’s been in it before, so he’s going to help us out a lot. He’s a big asset to this team and the defense.”


Chiefs pick up option on NT Dontari Poe
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(4/24/2015) The Chiefs have exercised their fifth-year option on two-time Pro Bowl nose tackle Dontari Poe, per NFL.com. He is set in Kansas City through 2016, when he will earn $6.146 million.

The 350-pound Poe has earned the money. He racked up six sacks and contributed to 46 tackles in 2014.


Lions GM Mayhew OK with James Ihedigbo skipping workouts
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(4/24/2015) Safety James Ihedigbo was the lone absence from voluntary workouts this week for the Lions. But general manager Martin Mayhew understands. After all, Ihedigbo's agent has stated that he would not work without a new contract.

"I look forward to talking with James," Mayhew told ESPN. "I understand what he's going through. I've been through that myself as a player, when I felt that a time in my career that I was underpaid and I had to deal with that.

"So I have empathy for him. I understand what he's going through and I look forward to sitting down and talking with him. I have great respect for him as a player, as a man. I've gotten to know him a little bit away from football and I understand how he feels."

Mayhew declined to discuss whether the Liins will rework Ihedigbo's contract.

The 31-year-old Ihedigbo contributed 71 tackles and two sacks with a career-high four interceptions in 2014 despite missing three games at the start of the year with a nerve injury. He earned Pro Bowl alternate status.


Eagles withdraw qualifying offer to RB Chris Polk
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(4/24/2015) Running back Chris Polk is now a free agent. 

According to the NFL transaction wire, the Eagles rescinded their $1.6 million tender they offered this past March. The Eagles placed the tender on Polk, previously a restricted free agent, before signing both DeMarco Murray and Ryan Mathews in free agency. 

With Darren Sproles on the roster, it didn't make much sense for Polk to stay with the Eagles. 

In 2014, Polk ran for 172 yards and four touchdowns. 


RB Bobby Rainey signs qualifying offer with Buccaneers
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(4/24/2015) The Buccaneers have announced that running back Bobby Rainey has signed a one-year qualifying offer the team extended to him before the free agency period. He was a restricted free agent and was given an opportunity to negotiate with other teams.

Rainey will compete for playing time with Tampa Bay. He rushed for 406 yards in 2014, but faded at the end of the season with just two carries in the last six games combined.


Jaguars planning to play 2015 season without Justin Blackmon
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(4/24/2015) As far as the Jaguars are concerned, Justin Blackmon will not be lining up at receiver for them this season. 

At least that's the approach Jacksonville is taking. Blackmon has been indefinitely suspended since Nov. 1 2013 for three violations of the substance-abuse policy under the old CBA.

"Our process hasn't changed," Caldwell said, via ESPN.com. "[We] plan to go without him, but if he emerges, he emerges, and he's going to go in with those top guys and compete with those other guys. Hopefully we're able to get some news, but if not we weren't planning on [having Blackmon]. We're just going to go [without him]."

Before he can re-join the Jaguars, he'll need to file an application for reinstatement, with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell making a decision within a 60-day window. The application letter would include details of the treatment he's received. 

Since being selected with the fourth overall pick in the 2012 draft, Blackmon has only played in 20 games. He has 1,280 yards and six touchdowns in his career. 


 
 
 
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