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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
Lions WR Calvin Johnson does not need offseason surgery
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(7:31 pm ET) Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson indicated Saturday that he will not need to undergo offseason surgery, the Detroit Free Press reports.

Johnson had surgery on his ankle and finger last offseason, and while he missed three games due to injury in October, he played every game from November onward despite being limited by an ankle injury in practice. The Lions wide receiver finished with 71 receptions for 1,077 yards and eight touchdowns in 2014.


Patriots upgrade center Bryan Stork to probable for Super Bowl
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(5:31 pm ET) The Patriots have upgraded center Bryan Stork to probable for Sunday's Super Bowl, the team announced Saturday. 

Stork was considered questionable with a knee injury after missing the AFC Championship game and was limited in practice Friday. The Patriots are currently 1-point favorites against the Seahawks Sunday.


Geno Smith hopeful Jets bring back Percy Harvin in 2015
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(3:48 pm ET) Jets quarterback Geno Smith knows he can't make the ultimate decision, but he wants to see Percy Harvin back in New York in 2015.

"I would love for Percy to come back," Smith said. "Obviously I can’t make that decision, but from my short time with him he’s been a great teammate. He’s obviously a dynamic player and I’d love to see what he can do in this new offense."

Harvin played eight games with the Jets in 2014, catching 29 passes for 350 yards. 

However, Harvin is due $10.5 million in base salary in 2014, and is under contract until 2018.


Eagles' Nick Foles expecting to be starter in Philadelphia next year
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(3:06 pm ET) Eagles quarterback Nick Foles said he is expecting to be back in Philadelphia in 2015, leading the offesne.

"My expectation is to be out there and be the starting guy," Foles said, according to CSNPhilly.com. "I expect to be out there with my teammates leading them. I’ve never thought otherwise throughout this whole time. 


"I know there’s been a lot of things said, but the only thing I’m worried about is making myself the best player, the best person to help lead my team."

Foles, who threw for 2,163 yards and 13 touchdowns in an injury-shortened season, expects to be back at full strength by the time training camp rolls around.

"Completely healthy, ready to go," he said. "Just grinding away. Just can’t wait to get back out there."


Jets' Geno Smith doesn't know if he will start in 2015
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(3:00 pm ET) Jets quarterback Geno Smith said Saturday he is unsure of his status with the team and has not received a definitive answer from new coach Todd Bowles on whether he will be the starter in 2015, according to Rich Cimini of ESPN.

Smith, who threw for 2,525 yards with 13 touchdowns in 2014, also isn't sure if the Jets will try to draft a quarterback in the first round like Jamies Winston or Marcus Mariota, but he would welcome the challenge as more competition.


Cardinals coach Bruce Arians: 'It's really (Fitzgerald's) decision'
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(10:33 am ET) Cardinals coach Bruce Arians told reporters Friday he really wants to see wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald back in Arizona next season.

"I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t," Arians said. "We definitely, desperately want him to stay. He knows that. It’s really his decision."

Fitzgerald has a salary cap hit of $23.6 million for 2015 and the team will work to get that number down in the offseason. Team president Michael Bidwill said this week contract talks won't start fully until after the Super Bowl.

"I’m hoping and praying every day that it does happen," Arians said. "I’ve expressed to him personally how much it means to us."

Fitzgerald has not reached 1,000 yards receiving in the past three seasons and totaled 784 in 2014 on 63 catches with two touchdowns.


Seahawks corner Byron Maxwell set to test free agency
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(9:25 am ET) Seahawks cornerback Byron Maxwell is ready to hit the free-agent market during the upcoming offseason and feels the Super Bowl will be his last game in Seattle.

"I’m the prettiest girl at the dance right now," Maxwell said. "But yeah, it’s one of those things I’m excited about it. I would love to be here, but I’m ready to see what’s out there and see how things work out."

Maxwell, who was heavily targeted this year with the Seahawks secondary filled with Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor, grabbed two interceptions and defended 11 passes.

"Coming into the season I already knew teams were going to try me," Maxwell said. "But it was cool. I accept that. That’s more opportunities for me to get the rock and put my name out there."


Report: Titans S Bernard Pollard wants to be released
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12:52 am ET) Titans safety Bernard Pollard has requested a release from his contract, The Tennessean reports. He is scheduled to make $3.1 million in the final season of his two-year deal in 2015.

Pollard submitted his request to general manager Ruston Webster at the end of the regular season, per the report. He is recovering from a ruptured Achilles and wants to play in 2015, but said on The Tennessean's Bernard Pollard Show earlier this month that he was unsure of his future with the Titans.

"I am not getting any younger, so I want to win, I really do. I want to win,'' Pollard said. "Looking at how things took place this year, looking at where (the Titans) need to be for next year, that is a tough, tough question, and I don't even know if they can give me the answer. I have one year on my deal, but it is going to take some time."

Pollard has been out of his walking boot for a month and is making progress in rehab. He suffered his Achilles injury in Week 5 and was placed on injured reserve.


Patriots fairly healthy heading into Super Bowl Sunday
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(1/30/2015) The Patriots will be at nearly full strength for Sunday’s Super Bowl as the following players have been listed as probable: Tom Brady (ankle), Dont’a Hightower (shoulder), Chris Jones (elbow), Akeem Ayers (knee), Darrelle Revis (non-injury-related) and Sealver Siliga (foot).

All except Brady were limited participants in practice Friday. The only question mark is center Bryan Stork, who is questionable with a knee injury and was limited in practice Friday.

The Patriots are currently 1-point favorites against Seattle.


Seahawks unveil final injury report in preparation for Super Bowl
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(1/30/2015) The Seahawks have listed the following players as probable for the Super Bowl on Sunday: J.R. Sweezy (ankle), Justin Britt (knee), Marshawn Lynch (back), Earl Thomas (shoulder), Richard Sherman (elbow) and Kam Chancellor (knee).

Chancellor was a late addition to the injury report, when he fell on the next-to-last play of practice and missed the last play. He was not limping on his way off. All other players were full participants in practice Friday.

The Seahawks are currently 1-point underdogs against New England.


 
 
 
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