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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
Report: Vikings' Adrian Peterson won't attend OTAs on Tuesday
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(5/24/2015) Vikings running back Adrian Peterson is reportedly set to skip organized team activities on Tuesday, according to the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

Peterson is frustrated with management in Minnesota for not showing him support through his legal case for child abuse. Peterson has not participated in any offseason activities so far, but skipping Tuesday's workout will cost him $250,000 in bonuses if he does not attend 90 percent of OTAs and minicamps.

Peterson has three years, $44.25 million left on his contract with Minnesota.


Cardinals S Tyrann Mathieu finally cast-free
by Elliott Smith | Staff Writer
(5/24/2015) After a couple of injury-plagued seasons, Cardinals safety Tyrann Mathieu enters training camp almost completely healthy, without a brace on his knee or cast on his thumb, per NFL.com. 

The Cardinals will need a healthy Mathieu to offseason the loss of former defensive coordinator Todd Bowles and cornerback Antonio Cromartie. In two seasons, Mathieu has 100 tackles and three interceptions but has been hampered by nagging injuries. 

"It just feels good to be free," he said. 


Giants' Bennett Jackson making transition to safety
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(5/23/2015) Giants second-year cornerback Bennett Jackson is spending the offseason transitioning to safety. 

"At the end of the day, I’m a DB,’" Jackson said, per the New York Post. "I think my strengths are cover skills, I got good speed and I got good ball skills. The thing it’s gonna take for me to get out there and make an impact is, I just got to learn the defense and really just communicate the calls fluently."

"It is all in front of him," coach Tom Coughlin said. "We think he can cover. He has done a good job of getting us lined up and then we will see how he plays."


O'Brien impressed with Jadeveon Clowney's work ethic
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(5/23/2015) Texans coach Bill O'Brien has been impressed with the work defensive end Jadeveon Clowney has put in to recover from microfracture surgery in his knee. 

"I've been impressed with the way JD's been working," O'Brien said, per HoustonTexans.com. "He's been out there. He's in early. He's rehabbing. But he's also being able to take part in some of the things that we do in the weight room. He's not able to do all of the things that we do on the field just yet, because of his rehab. But he's on the right track."


AJ McCarron throwing deep for Bengals
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(5/23/2015) Bengals quarterback AJ McCarron has recovered from the shoulder soreness that bothered him for most of his rookie year. 

McCarron is now throwing deep again. "I feel great," McCarron said, per the Cincinnati Enquirer. "Body feels great and I feel like I'm slinging it better than I ever have, really."


Brooks Reed injured, may miss time at Falcons' OTAs
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(5/23/2015) Falcons linebacker Brooks Reed suffered a groin injury during the recently-completed voluntary minicamp, per ESPN.

The injury was termed "minor", but it still might keep Reed from full participation in the Falcons' upcoming OTAs, which start Tuesday. 


GM: EJ Manuel on 'equal footing' with Bills' other QBs
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(5/23/2015) Bills general manager Doug Whaley denied reports that the team is moving on from quarterback EJ Manuel

The team acquired Matt Cassel and Tyrod Taylor in the offseason.

In an interview with Jim Rome, Whaley said, "I look at it this way, in this business controversy sells,. The more controversy that you can drum up then the more intereste people are going to be."

"For us we’re excited about the future of all three of those guys," Whaley said. "It’s going to be a great competition. And we can keep three quarterbacks. So I dismiss that as just someone trying to get something stirred during this down time and lack of media stories for the NFL." 

Whaley said all three quarterbacks have an equal shot of winning the starting job. 

"I look for him to come in and compete and try to take the job," he said. "Everybody has got an equal footing. It’s a clean slate for all four of our quarterbacks. We’re not tied to anybody. We just want the best man to start."


Bengals' Vontaze Burfict may start year on PUP
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(5/23/2015) Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict's rehab may not be progressing as quickly as the team had hoped.

Burfict had microfracture knee surgery and initial post-surgery reports said that he could be recovered by the start of training camp. 

This week, the team's website said that Burfict's status was "up in the air" and that a return by the start of the season would be a "tight call".

If Burfict isn't ready by the opener, the Bengals may choose to put him on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list. 


So far, so good for Texans rookie CB Kevin Johnson
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(5/23/2015) First impressions aren't necessarily important for first-round picks in the NFL. They are far more critical to lower selections and undrafted free agents who desperately need to raise a few eyebrows immediately lest they be back out looking for work.

But whether necessary or not, Texans first-rounder Kevin Johnson is making one heck of a first impression on Bill O'Brien. The clornerback opened some eyes at minicamp.

"This is a guy that's a very quick guy," O'Brien said. "He's a tall guy. He's a guy that has really good transition ability. He's got what I call really good recover transition. If he's getting beat, he can stick his foot in the ground and really make up a lot of ground.

"He's a very bright player. If you ask him questions in the morning meeting, he really has obviously studied the night before. He's working out on his own and doing things to help stay up on material that's being installed."

Johnson believes he needs to do the little things right to make a big impact in his rookie year.

"From the training room to the classroom to the film study, everything is just more detailed," he told the team website. "I'm just trying to take it all in and use everything around here and just get better."


Bears CB Tim Jennings could transition into slot role
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(5/23/2015) Bears cornerback Tim Jennings is "still trying to figure out" where he will fit into the secondary this season, the Chicago Tribune is reporting.

The nine-year veteran, who is entering his sixth season in the Windy City, has 95 career starts and led the league in interceptions in 2012. He is even a two-time Pro Bowler. But he spent significant time as the slot corner in minicamp. That's an unsatisfying role for him that he just might be forced to embrace.

Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio prefers his outside corners tall and physical. Jennings is 5-8, 185 pounds. He might still earn an outside role opposite Kyle Fuller, but do achieve that goal he must at the very least outperform free agent pickup Alan Ball, who better fits the ideal description.

If the words of new coach John Fox are any indication, that's unlikely to happen.

"Dimension-wise, he's built like a nickel corner," Fox said. "He's played it before."

Jennings has started all but three games over the last seven years.


 
 
 
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