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Week 16 Fantasy Faceoffs

Senior Fantasy Writer
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Editor's note: Each week Dave Richard, Jamey Eisenberg and Nathan Zegura will tackle lineup dilemmas that you might be facing. These subjects are derived from discrepancies in Dave's and Jamey's weekly rankings .

Pick one for Week 16: Eli Manning, Matt Moore, Rex Grossman, Ben Roethlisberger
Which one would you start? Share your thoughts on our Fantasy Football Facebook page !
Dave Richard No one likes starting a quarterback in Fantasy against one of the best secondaries in football, but if you've made it this far with Eli Manning, you're going all the way with him. He's been good for at least 20 Fantasy points in nine of 14 starts and would have been close to 20 points last week if he had better luck connecting with his receivers (he was plagued by drops and wrong routes). I'll gladly give the Jets their due but we've seen very capable, quality quarterbacks play them and post good numbers (Tony Romo, Tom Brady, Ryan Fitzpatrick and most recently Michael Vick). Not only is Eli considered a quality passer, but he has three solid receivers along with a couple of running backs who can make plays off the pass, and Darrelle Revis can't cover them all. With the Giants fighting for their lives and bouncing back after a tough loss, it's hard to expect Manning not to get over 300 yards passing with a couple of touchdowns.
Jamey Eisenberg Most Fantasy owners in the championship game or semifinals in Week 16 will likely have a solid starting quarterback in place. But not everyone has the luxury of using Aaron Rodgers or Drew Brees, and Matt Moore might be a suitable starting option based on his recent play and opponent. He has an excellent matchup at New England and is worth starting ahead of standout Fantasy quarterbacks like Ben Roethlisberger and Eli Manning. You can make the same argument for Rex Grossman with his matchup against Minnesota. As for Moore, he has four games with at least 18 Fantasy points in a standard league in his past seven outings, including two on the road. The Patriots have also allowed multiple touchdowns to their past three opposing quarterbacks in Dan Orlovsky, Rex Grossman and Tim Tebow, and New England is now without top pass rusher Andre Carter (quadriceps). Of this group, I would take my chances with Moore.
Nathan Zegura This week, Rex Grossman (vs. Minnesota) and Matt Moore (at New England) are two quarterbacks with ideal matchups who make for great sleepers or second quarterbacks in a two-quarterback leagues. Ben Roethlisberger is clearly not 100 percent and I could see the Steelers relying on their ground game against the 32nd ranked run defense of the St. Louis Rams. So I would go with Eli Manning in Week 16 if I needed one of these quarterbacks even if he is coming off of a dreadful game against the Redskins. Since Week 2, Eli has not had two games of less than 20 points in a row all season and he has followed up his three sub-20-point games with at least 25 points the following week. That, along with the fact that he has played extremely well this year leads me to believe that Eli will bounce back against the Jets. After all, the Jets have allowed 21.67 points per game to opposing quarterbacks since Week 10 and they have allowed three big games of 23-plus points. They are not the complete lock down defense that they were in 2010 and that leads me to believe that Eli can continue to find success in this, his career best statistical season. Eli enters Week 16 with 4,362 passing yards (third most), 25 passing scores (seventh) and a robust 21 points-per-game average, good for eighth best among all quarterbacks. He has had a phenomenal year and has showed up in the clutch for his team and his Fantasy owners more often than not.
Pick one for Week 16: LeGarrette Blount, Steven Jackson, Donald Brown, BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Kevin Smith
Which one would you start? Share your thoughts on our Fantasy Football Facebook page !
Dave Richard We're talking about running backs with middle- to low-end No. 2 Fantasy expectations here, and with that being the case Steven Jackson is fine. Last week we saw Rams starter Kellen Clemens utilize Jackson a ton, hitting him nine times (10 targets) for 72 yards. The week before that he was good for 60 yards receiving and he's caught at least three passes in nine of his last 11 games. He's fighting long odds to score -- the Steelers have allowed a rushing touchdown in every loss but only one in their wins this season -- but at the very least he should total enough yards to be useful with lowered expectations. I don't like him a lot -- figure no more than 11 Fantasy points from him in a standard format, but I'll take him over inept guys with limited carries like LeGarrette Blount and injured players like Kevin Smith (though that one's close) any time.
Jamey Eisenberg It's difficult to trust LeGarrette Blount based on his inconsistent play, mostly because the Bucs tend to go away from him too early in games. But I would still start him ahead of the other running backs in this group with his matchup at Carolina and role on the offense by comparison to his peers listed here. Blount does have double digits in Fantasy points in a standard league in three of his past five games, including all three on the road. The Panthers also have allowed 19 touchdowns to opposing running backs and 11 have reached double digits in Fantasy points. There have only been two times this season where a team failed to have a running back score or gain 100 total yards. Blount, unfortunately, had one of those outings in Week 13, but I'm expecting a much different outcome in the rematch. I would start him with confidence as a No. 2 option this week.
Nathan Zegura LeGarrette Blount has the best matchup of any runner on this list as he takes on the Panthers, who have allowed a league high 23.86 points per game to opposing running backs. However, just three weeks ago, Blount had this very same matchup and produced only 19 yards on 11 carries. His lack of consistency and involvement in the passing game should Carolina jump out to a big lead (as it has done in back to back games) makes me very concerned that he could leave us with another dud. After all, the Panthers have allowed just 10.3 points per game to running backs on rushing totals alone over the last three weeks as they have been playing improved defense. Since we know Blount offers nothing as a pass catcher (he is not even on the field in those situations) I would rank him second on this list to Steven Jackson. I know Jackson is taking on the Steelers in Week 16, but I think he will produce solid total-yardage figures and that makes him "safe" to me. Jackson has topped 120 total yards in each of the last two games (against the stout defenses of Seattle and Cincinnati) and has been over 60 yards receiving in each game. Kellen Clemens is expected to quarterback the Rams again in Week 16 and if last week was any indication, Jackson will be very busy as a receiver again this Saturday. With Clemens under center in Week 15, Jackson led the Rams with 10 targets and caught nine of them for 72 yards. The Steelers did just allow 15 points to the 49ers runners in Week 15 and I think Jackson will get you to double digits on his total yardage numbers. If he can score you are looking at a big game and while that is not very likely, I feel like Jackson is the safest of this bunch.
Pick one for Week 16: Jabar Gaffney, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Santonio Holmes, Laurent Robinson, Jeremy Maclin
Which one would you start? Share your thoughts on our Fantasy Football Facebook page !
Dave Richard If we were picking a Pro Bowl team, Gaffney wouldn't be on the list. But we're looking for stat superstars here and Gaffney fits the bill, especially with a home game vs. the lowly Vikings. Last week the Vikes allowed five passing touchdowns. On the season they've given up 31! Wideouts have accounted for 19 of those with a receiver catching a score in each of Minnesota's last nine games. He leads all Redskins receivers in targets, catches, yards and is tied for the lead in touchdowns. With at least seven targets in four of his last five games, he's getting chances to make plays and the Vikings sure are allowing plenty of plays to receivers. You can't afford to be without Gaffney on your Fantasy team.
Jamey Eisenberg Jeremy Maclin said he is finally over the hamstring and shoulder injuries that cost him three games prior to Week 14, and we're expecting him to finish the year on a solid note. That should start in Week 16 at Dallas, and I consider him the best starting option of this group. For starters, he had a good game against the Cowboys in Week 8 with three catches for 54 yards and a touchdown, and this Dallas secondary has struggled with opposing receivers all year. In their past five games, the Cowboys have allowed five touchdowns to opposing receivers and six to reach double digits in Fantasy points, including less-than-stellar options in Jabar Gaffney, Donte Stallworth, Andre Roberts and Dezmon Briscoe. Maclin, when healthy, is better than all of those receivers, and he should be started in all leagues this week now that he's back at 100 percent.
Nathan Zegura I like both Santonio Holmes (touchdown in four straight games) and Jeremy Maclin (back to 100 percent and a good matchup with the Cowboys) and think they are both top 24 options this week who should be started in all leagues. That being said, I would start Jabar Gaffney from this distinguished list this week against the porous secondary of the Vikings that has given up a league high 19 touchdowns to opposing receivers this year. Gaffney has been an unsung hero of the playoff run, especially in point-per-reception leagues. Over the last two games, Gaffney has seen 17 targets and has caught 12 passes for 177 yards and a touchdown. He is averaging 11.5 points per game in standard scoring leagues in those two games and is at a whopping 17.5 points per game in point-per-reception leagues. Look for him to stay at six catches and 80-plus yards (as he has done in each of the last two games) against the Vikings, who just can't stop wide receivers right now, as evidenced by the 11 receiver scores they have allowed in their last six games. Over the last nine games, the Vikings are giving up an average of 27.1 points per game to wide receivers, second only to the Patriots during that span. In the last month, the Vikings are giving up 28 points per game to receivers and that includes a game against the Broncos and a game against the Falcons without Julio Jones. The matchup is ideal and Gaffney is clearly in a great groove with Rex Grossman (plus Grossman's interceptions don't count against you), so I would put him into your lineups again as an excellent third receiver. Also, it should be noted that Gaffney is still available in 33 percent of leagues, so he can also be an early Christmas present as a pickup and play if you need a receiver this week.
Pick one for Week 16: Jermaine Gresham, Anthony Fasano, Dustin Keller, Brandon Pettigrew
Which one would you start? Share your thoughts on our Fantasy Football Facebook page !
Dave Richard If you want safe, go with Anthony Fasano. But if you want a tight end playing in what's expected to be a high-scoring shootout against a pass defense that's allowed seven touchdowns to tight ends this season (tied for fourth worst in the league), Brandon Pettigrew is a risk worth taking. He's had at least four grabs in five of his last six games, though he's averaging just under nine yards per grab. He's also better at home than on the road -- all of his touchdowns have come in Motown. The Bolts gave up a score to Ed Dickson last Sunday night and have not played well against quality tight ends all season. Pettigrew should continue to see regular opportunities (11 targets last week) to move the chains and potentially score.
Jamey Eisenberg Like I said with Moore, not every Fantasy owner has the luxury of starting Rob Gronkowski or Jimmy Graham, so finding the right tight end is important. If you have Jermaine Gresham on your roster or if he's still on the waiver wire (73 percent ownership on CBSSports.com), then plan on starting him this week against the Cardinals. Gresham has scored in four of six home games this season, and he could see an increase in targets with A.J. Green (shoulder) at less than 100 percent. Arizona has struggled with quality tight ends this season with Greg Olsen, Fred Davis, Jake Ballard, Heath Miller and Vernon Davis all reaching at least seven Fantasy points. Gresham is not a must-start Fantasy option in all leagues, but I would consider starting him ahead of Anthony Fasano, Brandon Pettigrew and Dustin Keller this week.
Nathan Zegura Brandon Pettigrew has good upside against the Chargers and I still consider my man Anthony Fasano (50 yards or a touchdown in six of his last seven games) a solid sleeper against the Patriots, but I am going with Dustin Keller this week against the Giants. The Giants have given up a 100 percent consistency rate (throwing out Washington last week because they no longer use a tight end following the injuries to Chris Cooley and Fred Davis) to opposing tight ends over their last six games and they have let eight tight ends score six or more points, five score nine or more and four reach 10 plus points in those games. During that span, the Giants are allowing a very healthy 15.1 points per game to opposing tight ends, most in the NFL, so look for Keller (who had 73 yards last week and has a 50 percent consistency rate of his own over the last four games) to have a very solid game and help you bring home a title.
Name a late-round sleeper for 2012 that you're already thinking about ...
Who are your sleepers for 2012? Share your thoughts on our Fantasy Football Facebook page !
Dave Richard I'm going way off the board here and going with a player I've enjoyed watching in college: Miami Hurricanes running back Lamar Miller. He's not going to be the best rookie rusher next season --Trent Richardson might claim that title -- but he'll be up there and certainly a nice late-round selection in drafts. Miller averaged 5.6 yards per rush in 2011 with the Canes, racking up 10 total touchdowns (nine rushing) and over 1,300 total yards (over 1,200 rushing). The bell cow-type back has excellent field vision and a good second gear once he breaks free of the defensive front. We're about to finish off a year where several rookie running backs made an impact -- Miller will be among the 2012 rookies who help you win, and he will come easy on Draft Day.
Jamey Eisenberg There are obviously going to be several players to target with late-round picks in 2012, especially once the next rookie class has their landing spots. But one player who I plan to draft in all leagues is Detroit second-year running back Mikel Leshoure. He should be considered a solid sleeper since he was expected to be a sleeper in 2011 before he tore his Achilles' tendon prior to the season. The Lions don't have a starting running back in 2012 with Jahvid Best's status up in the air with his concussion history, and Kevin Smith not guaranteed to return. Leshoure could easily win the starting job in what should be an explosive offense. He will likely be a No. 3 Fantasy running back at best on Draft Day, but he could definitely emerge as a starting option in all leagues if he plays as expected once he's 100 percent healthy.
Nathan Zegura When the Lions selected Mikel Leshoure in the second round in the 2011 NFL Draft, I immediately thought he had 10-touchdown potential in that high octane offense in Motown. A preseason Achilles injury ended Leshoure's season before it began, but I am expecting big things from him in 2012. No one knows what Jahvid Best's long term future is as repeated concussions could certainly end his career prematurely or at the very least cost him more games next year. Kevin Smith, Maurice Morris and Keiland Williams are not the long term answers at running back, which means Leshoure could end up as the starter in Detroit before long. He could become a Craig "Ironhead" Heyward like bruiser who can punish defenses between the tackles when they are spread too thin in an attempt to keep up with the high flying passing game of the Lions. If you are in a keeper league or a dynasty league and he is somehow floating around on your waiver wire due to the injury, grab him and stash him and I think you will be handsomely rewarded next season with a top 20 running back.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us via Twitter @CBSFantasyFB . You can also follow Dave at @daverichard , Jamey at @JameyEisenberg and Nathan at @NathanZeguraTFC .

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Player News
Sherman, Chancellor, Thomas all set to play in Super Bowl Sunday
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(4:57 pm ET) The Seahawks secondary starters are all active for Sunday's Super Bowl, the team announced. Cornerback Richard Sherman (elbow) and safeties Earl Thomas (shoulder) and Kam Chancellor (knee) are all active for Sunday after being listed as probable for the contest throughout the week.

Running back Marshawn Lynch (back) is also set to play after being listed as probable.

The game is currently pick'em between Seattle and New England.


Seahawks unveil inactives for Super Bowl 49
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(4:53 pm ET) The Seahawks have listed the following players as inactive for Sunday's Super Bowl: B.J. Daniels, Marcus Burley, Patrick Lewis, Keavon Milton, David King, Garry Gilliam and Kevin Norwood, the team announced.

Gilliam caught a fake field goal touchdown during the NFC Championship Game for Seattle.

The game is currently pick'em between Seattle and New England.


Tom Brady, Akeem Ayers get the green light for Super Bowl Sunday
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(4:46 pm ET) Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (ankle) and linebackers Akeem Ayers (knee) and Dont'a Hightower (shoulder) are active and set to play in the Super Bowl Sunday against the Seahawks, the team announced.

All three were considered probable and in no real danger of missing the game Sunday. Brady threw for 4,109 yards with 33 touchdowns and nine interceptions in 2014.

Patriots center Bryan Stork is also active after being upgraded to probable for the game Saturday.

The game is currently pick'em between New England and Seattle Sunday.


Jonas Gray among Patriots' inactives for Super Bowl 49
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(4:41 pm ET) Patriots running back Jonas Gray will be inactive for Super Bowl 49 along with Zach Moore, Josh Boyce, Brian Tyms, Joe Vellano, Jordan Devey and James White, the team announced.

Gray, who ran for 412 yards on 89 carries in eight games this season, had four carries for four yards in the AFC Championship game for New England. It was his first action in a game since Dec. 21 againt the Jets when he had six carries for five yards.

The game is currently pick'em between Seattle and New England Sunday.


Report: Peyton Manning could decide on playing future this week
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(2:55 pm ET) Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning may be making his decision sooner rather than later. The soon to be 39-year-old Manning is reportedly set to make his decision as early as this week, according to ESPN NFL Insider Chris Mortensen.

Manning, who has already met with new coach Gary Kubiak, said last week he was waiting to meet with John Elway when he got back from vacation before making up his mind.

Manning, who threw for 4,727 yards and 39 touchdowns in 2014, is due $19 million guaranteed if he is still on the team March 9.


Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman will play Sunday
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(2:22 pm ET) Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman is indeed playing in Sunday's Super Bowl. With his girlfriend preparing to have their son very soon, but it will not be happening Sunday.

"I'm playing today," Sherman texted Peter King before the game Sunday.

Sherman totaled 57 tackles and four interceptions in 2014 with one forced fumble.


Lions' president optimistic team will re-sign Ndamukong Suh
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(1:47 pm ET) Lions team president Tom Lewand is expecting the team to be able to re-sign defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh.

"I really do believe he's got a lot invested in here, in himself and the community and the football team," Lewand said Sunday morning during an interview on WDIV-TV's Flashpoint. "He wants to have success in the NFL, obviously, but he wants to do that with us.

"I think there's a very, very good chance that we can get something done with him in the next few weeks."

Suh can become a free agent if the team does not use their franchise tag on him by March 2. 

"We've had a good chunk of our salary cap tied up in three players over the last few years," Lewand told WDIV. "Matthew, Calvin and Ndamukong have all had very lucrative contracts under the old rookie system, and even as Matthew and Calvin have done their extensions. So we've done that, we've lived in that environment. There's no reason we can't continue to live in that environment."


Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant expects to remain with team
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(12:50 pm ET) Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant said Saturday he is expecting to be back in Dallas in 2015 and have fans excited for a long time.

"Regardless, I’m a Cowboy," Bryant said to NBC Dallas. "But it is what it is. It’s business. I am a free agent. I’m very confident that something is going to happen, something is going to get done, and have these Cowboys fans excited for a long time."

Bryant is set to become a free agent this offseason if he and the Cowboys cannot agree to a deal or Dallas uses the franchise tag on him.

"I’m a Cowboy at heart. It’s Cowboys forever," Bryant said.


Falcons' owner wants Julio Jones long term, but not his decision
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(12:45 pm ET) Falcons owner Arthur Blank said Sunday the team wants to sign Julio Jones to a contract extension, but it is not his decision to make.

"As the owner, it's not my decision to make," Blank said. "The new coach will spend a great deal of time assessing the roster and all of our players, and obviously Julio is a critical one.

"Well, I think it's a decision that the head coach will look at the talent on the roster," Blank said. "Julio's been a great player for us and a great talent, and he represents us on the field and off the field as well as anybody else."

Jones is set to make $10.2 million in 2015 and will become an unrestricted free agent in 2016 if a new deal is not signed. In 2014, Jones set a franchise-record 1,593 receiving yards in 15 games on 104 receptions with six touchdowns.


Lions' Calvin Johnson wants to keep Ndamukong Suh in Detroit
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(11:26 am ET) Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson said he's willing to do just about anything to keep defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh in a Lions uniform, reports MLive.com.

Suh is set to become a free agent in March if the Lions cannot reach a deal with him and Johnson said he wants Suh to remain a Lion.

"I'll do whatever I got to do," Johnson said.


 
 
 
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