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Starting Points for Week 17

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Week 17 can be very tricky as injuries mount and teams that have clinched their playoff seeds tend to rest the stars that got you this far in your Fantasy leagues. That being said, it is also an opportunity to use some unheralded stars to bring home the big one and with that in mind, here are the final Starting Points of the 2011 season.

Quarterbacks

Get 'em active ...

Ryan Fitzpatrick (at New England) -- In their last five games, the Pats have given up an average of 23.4 points per game to opposing quarterbacks despite facing the fearsome five some of Vince Young, Dan Orlovsky, Tim Tebow, Rex Grossman and Matt Moore. Only Grossman (18) was below 24 points against the Patriots during that span and on the season, only Tyler Palko was below 17 points in the first 15 games against this rag tag pass defense. In his first meeting with the Patriots, Fitzpatrick himself had one of his best games of the year as he threw for 369 yards and two scores. He also had two interceptions in that game and finished with 22 points. Remember, seven of the last nine quarterbacks who have faced the Patriots have produced at least 21 points and Matt Moore is coming off of a season high 25 points last week. The New England secondary is vulnerable and with their offense scoring points in bunches it all sets up perfectly for The Genius to propel you to a week 17 championship at quarterback. (Projection Snapshot: 319 yards passing with two TDs)

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Others to start: Cam Newton (at New Orleans), Michael Vick (vs. Washington), Eli Manning (vs. Dallas), Philip Rivers (at Oakland), Joe Webb if he starts (vs. Chicago)

Sleepers: Carson Palmer (vs. San Diego), Kyle Orton (at Denver), Josh McCown (at Minnesota)

Ride the pine ...

Aaron Rodgers (vs. Detroit) -- With the Packers locking up the number one overall seed in Week 16, look for Rodgers to do quite a bit of sitting and standing in Week 17 and not nearly enough throwing of the ball to start for your teams. This is one of the big dangers of playing into Week 17 as Fantasy Football's top overall point scorer is definitely not playing a full game and may not even play a half. Matt Flynn is expected to play a lot for the Packers in Week 17, so I just don't think we can trust Rodgers here. I also expect Matt Moore (vs. New York Jets) to fall off from his recent levels of production and would look for one of the sleepers above over him in Week 17. (Projection Snapshot: 121 yards passing and one TD)

Running Backs

Get 'em active ...

C.J. Spiller (at New England) -- Apparently we are going to have to get fired up about the Bills in Week 17. Spiller is playing great, with an average of nearly 17 points per game over his last four. In his last two games -- against Miami and Denver respectively -- Spiller has put up some gaudy numbers with 47 total points. In those two games, Spiller has run the ball 28 times for 202 yards (yep that's a ridiculous 7.2 yards per carry) and two scores. He has also caught 11 passes for another 103 yards and a touchdown, giving him a solid 305 total yards and three scores in the two games. The Patriots enter Week 17 having allowed at least 100 yards rushing to running backs in four straight games (they had allowed just two teams over 100 yards in their first 11 games) and they are giving up 17.5 running back points per game during that span. Roy Helu and Reggie Bush have both individually rushed for over 100 yards against the Pats in the last three weeks and every opposing primary ball carrier has reached 11 or more points in each of the last five games. Spiller will be the main man for the Bills in Week 17 and you can expect the running back Thrilla to deliver another solid game en route to a Fantasy title for your teams. (Projection Snapshot: 83 yards rushing, 52 yards receiving and a TD)

Toby Gerhart (vs. Chicago) -- Gerhart will get the start for the Vikings with Adrian Peterson done for the year and if his recent performances are any indication, he should be very productive in Week 17. Gerhart has played a lot in each of the last five games and has produced double digit points in every single one of them. In those games, Gerhart is averaging 13.4 points per game and has proven to be an excellent dual threat back. He has topped 100 total yards in three of the last four games and has hauled in three receiving touchdowns in the last three weeks alone. The Bears have been a formidable defense all year, allowing the ninth fewest points to opposing runners, ninth fewest in the league. Now their season is over and Gerhart should be able to hit double digits again in Week 17. After all, opposing runners have topped 10 points in four of the last five games (the only such streak on the season for the Bears) and in two of those games, opposing runners have topped 24 points! Look for Toby to be very involved as a runner and receiver in Week 17 and with all of the running back injuries out there, a guaranteed 20 touches is about all you can ask for. With that in mind, Gerhart should extend his double digit streak to six straight games and he makes for an excellent second running back for your teams. (Projection Snapshot: 76 yards rushing, 32 yards receiving and 1 TD)

Others to start: Kahlil Bell (at Minnesota), Ryan Mathews (at Oakland), Michael Bush (vs. San Diego), Ahmad Bradshaw (vs. Dallas), Kevin Smith/Maurice Morris/Keiland Williams (at Green Bay), DeAngelo Williams (at New Orleans)

Sleepers: Stevan Ridley (vs. Buffalo), Ben Tate (vs. Tennessee), Ronnie Brown (vs. Washington)

Ride the pine ...

LeGarrette Blount (at Atlanta) -- Could he have a good game? Sure he could, but the fact of the matter is that you can no longer trust Blount in 2011. In two games against the Panthers, Blount produced a grand total of two points and the fact of the matter is a power back like Blount can really only have success on a winning team with a good defense. The Bucs are a losing team and they have no defense, so even if Blount is running well early he won't get enough chances to have a big Fantasy day. The Bucs get into a quick 20-point hole and he is usually sent to the bench in favor of receiving back Kregg Lumpkin. That's why Blount has not reached 12 carries in three of his last four games and he has a grand total of four points in those three games. The Falcons have plenty of fire power on offense and will dominate this overmatched Tampa Bay team, so look for Blount to spend the majority of Week 17 on the sidelines once again. That, along with Raheem Morris' zero tolerance for fumbling, combine to make Blount unplayable this week. (Projection Snapshot: 29 yards rushing)

Others to sit: The early word out of Houston is that Arian Foster will not play anywhere close to a full game. The same is being said in Detroit about Kevin Smith, so these are two names to keep an eye on as you get ready for Week 17.

Wide Receivers

Get 'em active ...

Malcom Floyd (at Oakland) -- With Vincent Jackson not at 100 percent, December has been the month of Malcom Floyd for the Chargers. Floyd is averaging 12 points per game in December, but has three games of 90 plus yards and a touchdown. He has topped 90 with a score in each of the last two games and should make it three in a row against a hapless Oakland secondary. The Raiders have allowed the opposing top target to score in eight straight games against them and even our old pal Dwayne Bowe broke his scoreless streak against Oakland last week. Floyd has been the top target for the Chargers in each of the last two weeks and that is likely to continue with Jackson nursing a groin injury. Floyd is red hot and I expect him to stay that way in Week 17, making him a great start for those of you still in action. (Projection Snapshot: 79 yards receiving, one TD)

For more from Nathan check out his website at thefantasyconsultant.com

Roy Williams (at Minnesota) -- Say what? I know this one is a little out there, but if you are needing a sleeper at receiver for Week 17, I'd dial up old Roy Williams. Williams was the top target for Josh McCown in Week 16, leading the Bears with nine targets, six catches and 81 yards receiving. With Johnny Knox out due to his back injury, Williams is on the field for pretty much every snap for the Bears and should find success against the weakest secondary in the entire NFL. The Vikings have allowed 29 points per game over their last five to opposing wide receivers -- most in the NFL -- and they have given up nine receiver touchdowns in those games. Over the last two weeks, they have been even worse, giving up at least 200 yards, two touchdowns and 32 points to opposing wide receivers. We have seen guys like Lance Moore, Jabar Gaffney and Donte Stallworth have big Fantasy days. In Week 17 the pickings can be slim and I think even Williams can get into the end zone against this awful Vikings secondary. (Projection Snapshot: Moss: 63 yards receiving and one TD)

Others to start: Reggie Wayne and Pierre Garcon (at Jacksonville), Julio Jones (vs. Tampa Bay), Torrey Smith (at Cincinnati), Steve Johnson (at New England), Steve Smith (at New Orleans), A.J. Green (vs. Baltimore), Miles Austin and Dez Bryant (at N.Y. Giants), Dwayne Bowe (at Denver), Nate Burleson and Titus Young (at Green Bay), James Jones (at Detroit), Percy Harvin (vs. Chicago), Marques Colston and Robert Meachem (vs. Carolina), Victor Cruz (vs. Dallas), Jeremy Maclin (vs. Washington), Mike Wallace and Antonio Brown if Ben is back (at Cleveland), Brandon Lloyd (vs. San Francisco), Michael Crabtree (at St. Louis), Nate Washington (at Houston), Jabar Gaffney (at Philadelphia), Denarius Moore and Darrius Heyward-Bey (vs. San Diego)

Sleepers: David Nelson (at New England), Brandon Lafell (at New Orleans), Earl Bennett and Dane Sanzenbacher (at Minnesota), Demaryius Thomas (vs. Kansas City), Doug Baldwin (at Arizona), Damian Williams (at Houston)

Ride the pine ...

Santana Moss (at Philadelphia) -- I have been on the Moss bandwagon the last few weeks, but he has been outproduced by Jabar Gaffney and has his first tough matchup in over a month in Week 17. The Eagles have not allowed a single receiver above 10 points in four straight games and no secondary receiver has been above six points during that span. Moss himself has not reached 50 yards in back to back games and I do not love this matchup for him. He was held to just 38 yards receiving in his first meeting with the Eagles and I could see a similar result again in Week 17, so I would rather take my chances with a higher upside option. (Projection Snapshot: 46 yards receiving)

Tight Ends

Get 'em active ...

Jared Cook (at Houston) -- Cook is the top Fantasy tight end over the last two weeks and has posted an amazing 17 catches for 272 yards and a touchdown in those games. Yep, he has topped the century mark in both games and could go for the hat trick against a Texans team that will be resting many of its starters on Sunday. The Texans have allowed two big games to tight ends in their last four and are giving up a solid eight points per game during that span. With Cook leading all tight ends in targets, catches and yards over the last two weeks I think he deserves one more shot at the big time and I'd definitely give him a start in Week 17. (Projection Snapshot: 68 yards receiving and one TD)

Others to start: Brent Celek (vs. Washington), Dustin Keller (at Miami), Aaron Hernandez (vs. Buffalo)

Good luck this week!

Glossary
Target Conversion Rate or Catch Rate (TCR): The percentage of a player's targets (passes thrown to them) that are converted into receptions. Over 60 percent is excellent, 66 percent is elite and under 52.5 percent is worrisome.
Yards per Target (YPT): A player's receiving yards divided by his targets. In other words, the numbers of yards a team gains on average every time they attempt a pass to a certain player. Over 10 is exceptional, over 8 is solid and 6 or lower is horrendous.
Red Zone Opportunities: A player's total number of pass+rush+targets inside the opponent's 20 yard line
Red Zone TD Rate: The percentage of a player's Red Zone opportunities that result in a TD
Goal Line Opportunities: A player's total number of pass+rush+targets inside the opponent's 5 yard line
Goal Line TD Rate: The percentage of a player's Goal Line opportunities that result in a TD
Consistency Rate: The percentage of quality starts a player gives you out of 16 games. For QBs that is a game with 300+ yards passing OR multiple TDs. For RBs/WRs: A game with 100+ yards rush/rec or a game with a TD. For TEs: A game with 60+ yards receiving or a TD. For a Kicker: A game with multiple FGs.
Big Game Rate: The percentage of dominant starts a player gives you out of 16 games (games missed with injury count as a bad game since they do not help your Fantasy teams). For a QB that is a game with 300+ yards and 2+ TDs or 200+ yards and 3+ TDs. For a RB/WR that is a game with 100+ combined rush/rec yards and a TD or a game with multiple TDs. For a TE that is a game of 60+ yards and a TD, 100+ yards or a game with multiple TDs.

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

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Player News
FFT blog: You can start Kirk Cousins this week
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(3:23 pm ET) While researching players for the Week 4 edition of the Fantasy Cheat Sheet (coming soon here!), I started off with a look at Kirk Cousins. And I just couldn't resist adding more than 2 cents on the Washington signal-caller. 

As I explain in my recent blog post, I like Cousins this week. In fact, I like him enough to start him. Here's a snippet:

"We can now see why the Redskins liked the fit of Cousins in this offense as his accuracy is better than Griffin's. It doesn't clinch him as a rock-solid Fantasy starter week after week. This week we'll take a chance on him, even against the Giants (who have been good against the pass) on a short week."

At the moment I have him at No. 11 and Jamey Eisenberg has him at No. 12 in our rankings. A start for both of us!

Read more of our blogs here and get the latest player news and analysis here.


FFT Blog: Teddy Bridgewater's debut in review
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(3:17 pm ET) Over at the Fantasy Football Today blog, I broke down Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater's debut against the Saints last week. Included are video breakdowns of some of Bridgewater's best plays, plus some discussion of what he needs to work on: 

"He showed fine arm strength on that throw to Jennings, and actually struggled more with his accuracy on short throws, as when he rushed a pair of passes to Jerick McKinnon in the flats in the second quarter, both resulting in incompletions."

Check out the rest over at the blog to determine if you want to pick up Bridgewater now that he's running the show in Minnesota.


DeSean Jackson limited in practice Tuesday
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(3:03 pm ET) Redskins wide receiver DeSean Jackson (shoulder) was limited in practice Tuesday. The Redskins are playing the Giants Thursday.

Alfred Morris practices in full
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(2:57 pm ET) Redskins running back Alfred Morris practiced fully Tuesday despite a knee injury. He'll be fine for Thursday's home game against the Giants.

Vernon Davis says injured ankle is 'way better'
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(2:54 pm ET) 49ers tight end Vernon Davis, who sat out Week 3 due to an ankle injury, was walking without limping Tuesday and told reporters his injured ankle is "way better." On Monday, coach John Harbaugh said he was "optimistic" about Davis returning to action Week 4 against the Eagles. 

John Brown's snaps expected to increase
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(2:52 pm ET) Cardinals rookie receiver John Brown played 35 of 67 snaps in the win over the 49ers and caught a pair of touchdowns. ESPN.com expects Brown's snaps to "continue to increase every game as Arizona figures out more ways to utilize his speed."

Brown has nine catches for 109 yards and three touchdowns through three games. Arizona is on a bye and visits Denver in Week 5.


Falcons adjust practice squad
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(2:42 pm ET) The Falcons signed offensive tackle Reid Fragel to the practice squad and released offensive tackle Terren Jones from the squad.

Rob Gronkowski 'inching closer' to his old role
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(2:28 pm ET) Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski played a season-high 42 snaps Week 3 and is "inching closer toward being a steady contributor to the offense," reports ESPN.com.

"I definitely think that Rob has made some plays for us. I certainly think that will continue and hope that will continue," offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels said. "We are trying to work him back into the game plan to an overall level where he can contribute the most.

"And I think each week we have done a little bit more, and hopefully we can continue to do that. I think that any time you are talking about a player who is coming off a situation like Gronk was, you have to be smart and you do what you can do. I’m happy with the things that he has done so far, and we will continue to add more as we go through the year."


Jaguars make roster moves
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(2:20 pm ET) The Jaguars waived/injured safety Chris Prosinski (elbow) and waived wideout Kerry Taylor and tight end Marcel Jensen. The team signed rookie tight end Nic Jacobs off the Saints' practice squad and added fullback Eric Kettani to its practice squad.

Odell Beckham targeting Week 5 debut
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(2:12 pm ET) Giants rookie receiver Odell Beckham, who practiced for the first time since Aug. 18, said he's targeting Week 5 against Atlanta for his NFL debut, reports The Star-Ledger. Beckham was officially limited Tuesday with his hamstring injury.

He won't play Thursday at the Redskins.


 
 
 
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