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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)

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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
Bucs' Vincent Jackson: 'I'm happy here in Tampa'
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(12:50 pm ET) Buccaneers wide receiver Vincent Jackson said Thursday he is flattered by the trade speculation, but he has heard nothing from the front office about being dealt, according to the Tampa Bay Times. Jackson added, "I'm happy here in Tampa."

Jackson isn't a free agent until after the 2016 season. He has 25 catches for 344 yards and two touchdowns through six games in 2014.


Cowboys LB Bruce Carter back at practice Thursday
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(12:43 pm ET) Cowboys linebacker Bruce Carter returned to practice Thursday after missing the last three games due to a strained quadriceps. The Cowboys are preparing to face the Redskins in Week 8.

LB Darin Drakeford back with Chiefs
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(12:42 pm ET) The Chiefs have signed linebacker Darin Drakeford to their practice squad. He played briefly with that team in 2013.

Drakeford was cut by Atlanta before the regular season.


Browns QB Brian Hoyer: 'Maybe it's good we lost last week'
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(11:08 am ET) Browns quarterback Brian Hoyer has expressed both anger over his effort Sunday at Jacksonville and hopefulness that the dud of the team performance will prove to be a positive in the long run.

Hoyer had his worst game with Cleveland, completing just 16 of 41 passes for 215 yards. He also threw an interception, lost a fumble, had four tosses batted down and finished with a career-worst passer rating of 46.3.

"Of all the games I've every played, that's the worst I've ever felt after one, and it's something you have to deal with learning on the job," he told the Akron Beacon Journal. "...For the first time in my career in the NFL, I played a bad game, and it sucks. I take a lot [of blame] on myself, and that's why I probably wasn't too pleasant to be around the past two days."

Hoyer, however, claims that the team could benefit from the 24-6 defeat to a Jaguars team that had been winless entering play. After all, the Browns are preparing to play the 0-6 Raiders in Cleveland on Sunday.

"Maybe it's good we lost last week," he said. "I don't think we underestimated anyone. But I think now we see that no matter who we're playing, we have to be at our best, and there's no excuses and we have to go out and execute."


Jets WR Percy Harvin to media: Mum's the word
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(10:50 am ET) Newly acquired wideout Percy Harvin has told media members covering the Jets on Wednesday that he has been instructed not to conduct any interviews with them, per the New York Daily News.

It remains to be seen if Harvin fulfills media obligations by being allowed to speak on Friday, as the team promised.

With the Jets already having careened out out of the playoff race, the controversial acquisition of Harvin from Seattle has undergone great scrutiny. Harvin spoke on Monday about the circumstances involed in his departure from the Seahawks - including fights with fellow receivers Doug Baldwin and Golden Tate.


Falcons WR Harry Douglas back at practice, might play Week 8
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(10:45 am ET) After missing the last 10 practices, Falcons wide receiver Harry Douglas finally returned to the practice field Thursday, coach Mike Smith announced. Smith added Douglas, who has missed the last four games, was limited in practice.

Smith hinted at a possibility of Douglas playing Week 8 against the Lions. Smith said the team will have to monitor Douglas' status over the next few days, per the team's official website.


Titans' Whisenhunt explains why Akeem Ayers was traded to Patriots
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(10:36 am ET) Titans coach Ken Whisenhunt expressed Wednesday part of the reason the team traded Akeem Ayers to the Patriots was that he didn't provide a big enough boost on special teams, according to The Tennessean. Ayers, who was inactive for five of the team's seven games, was a second-round pick in 2011.

"I think we had an opportunity, and I think it was good for both parties,'' Whisenhunt said. "It gave Akeem a chance to get a fresh start, and it gave us a chance to get something in exchange for that.

"I think really a big part of it was special teams. When you're in that role, you've got to be able to contribute special teams wise, and we needed that, and we just didn't feel like we were getting enough in that area."


Healthy Gerhart could put squeeze on Jaguars RB Robinson
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(10:30 am ET) Jaguars running back Toby Gerhart appears on the verge of returning to game action after missing the last two weeks with a foot sprain. He practiced on a limited basis Wednesday.

"He said he felt pretty good," Gus Bradley told the Florida Times-Union. "I think the last two weeks have been tough on him, but today he felt a lot better and felt like it was beneficial to have that time off."

Now it must be determined if he's still the featured back. He managed a 2.6 YPC average in 48 attempts before going down. Meanwhile, Denard Robinson emerged in Week 7 to rush for 127 yards on just 22 carries in the team's first victory of the season, a lopsided defeat of Cleveland.

"I think we'll continue to mix and match a little bit," said offensive coordinator Jeff Fisch. "I don't exactly how that will all play out yet."

The Jaguars host Miami on Sunday.


Seahawks coordinator 'disappointed' about Harvin's tenure with team
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(10:29 am ET) Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell expressed his disappointment wide receiver Percy Harvin wasn't able to have more personal success with the team prior to being traded to the Jets last week. Bevell, who was the Vikings offensive coordinator during Harvin's first two years in the NFL (2009-10), was hoping his history with Harvin would be a major factor during his tenure with Seattle.

"I was disappointed, you know. I was disappointed. I did have a history with him, and I thought it would be a different outcome. But I guess that’s just the way it went," Bevell said, per The News Tribune. "I think we have a phenomenal atmosphere here. It’s led by coach (Pete) Carroll. I think he gives the guys great freedom to be who they want to be. I think he sets the tone for the whole program. It’s an upbeat program. Obviously we are very positive here. It’s just disappointing."

Harvin recently expressed his disappointment with how he was used on offense in Seattle. Bevell said he called bubble screens and hitch routes for Harvin to keep teams from double-teaming him downfield.

"I had many conversations with him about it, just about his role and the things that we would ask him to do. He never articulated that to me," Bevell said. "I mean, he caught a deep ball in the Washington game (40 yards for what would have been a touchdown but for a personal foul on guard James Carpenter that negated the catch); unfortunately it got called back. But the thing was we wanted to make sure he was going to be involved in the game and get the touches. You know, you can just double team somebody and just take him out of the game (with deeper balls). He never did. But we’ve moved on past that. It’s left in the past."


Report: Lions blew protocol Sunday in case of LaAdrian Waddle
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(10:19 am ET) The Lions allowed right tackle LaAdrian Waddle to return to the game Sunday against New Orleans after slamming his head to the turf on the extra point that secured the victory, the Detroit Free Press has reported.

Jim Caldwell admitted that Thursday despite claiming that he and general manager Martin Mayhew followed NFL concussion protocol "to the letter."

Waddle stayed in the game for the kneel-down play that ran the final seconds off the clock. "We knew exactly when it occurred and what happened within the context of it," Caldwell said. "It was the last play of the game for him. It was actually on a field goal, the PAT at the end. It's the last play of the game for him."

Protocol requires that a player must be removed if a brain injury is suspected. Yet Waddle was indeed in the game thereafter. Why was he allowed to return to the field?

"Well, in terms of they knew exactly what happened to him in terms of he banged his head on the ground after where he gets up," Caldwell said. "It wasn't to the point where they thought he was concussed at the time. The final snap of the game, we knew it was only one snap, then the doctors reviewed him, took a look at him, it wasn't one of those situations where he felt he had to go in the locker room right away. But they did know he banged it when he came off, and that he was good."

Waddle did not participate in Wednesday practice.


 
 
 
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