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Into the Deep for Week 17

Senior Fantasy Writer
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Every week I'll dive into some sleepers beyond what we write in Start 'Em and Sit 'Em to help some of you in deeper leagues. Some weeks will have more guys than others, but this should be helpful for those owners in 14- and 16-team leagues.

Quarterback

Joe Flacco (at CIN): Flacco has played well of late with at least 18 Fantasy points in each of his past three games. He also did well against the Bengals in Week 11 with 20 Fantasy points, and he has the chance to close the season on a high note in the rematch with Cincinnati. The Bengals have allowed multiple touchdowns to opposing quarterbacks in six of their past eight games, and Flacco should be considered a starting Fantasy option in 14-team leagues this week. (Started in 30 percent of leagues in Week 16)
Josh McCown (at MIN): The Vikings have allowed the most touchdowns to opposing quarterbacks with 35, so McCown could be useful in deeper formats this week. Josh Freeman in Week 2, Matt Cassel in Week 4 and Kevin Kolb in Week 5 are the only starting quarterbacks who failed to throw multiple touchdowns against Minnesota this season. It's risky to trust McCown as a starter in any format since he had just 16 Fantasy points at Green Bay in his first start last week, but the matchup suggests he could play well. (Not started in the majority of leagues in Week 16)
Dan Orlovsky (at JAC): Orlovsky has the chance to end the season, and possibly his final appearance as a starter, with a quality performance against the Jaguars, who are a mess in their secondary. Matt Hasselbeck passed for 350 yards last week against Jacksonville, and Matt Ryan had three touchdowns against the Jaguars in Week 15. We're not expecting Orlovsky to have a career game, but he could approach 18 Fantasy points based on this matchup. He is worth using as a starter in deep two-quarterback leagues. (Started in 1 percent of leagues in Week 16)

Running back

Ben Tate (vs. TEN): We're not expecting Arian Foster to play much this week against the Titans with the Texans locked into the No. 3 seed in the AFC, which means Tate could see the bulk of work. He has done well with an increased workload this season with double digits in Fantasy points in five of the seven games where he had double digits in carries. One of those games was Week 7 at Tennessee when he had 15 carries for 104 yards, and we can see him having similar production in the rematch. (Started in 14 percent of leagues in Week 16)
Brandon Saine (vs. DET): The Packers will likely rest James Starks and Ryan Grant this week with the No. 1 seed in the NFC locked up, which means Saine could see plenty of work. We're not expecting a huge performance or even double digits in Fantasy points, but he can be a flex option in deeper formats. The Lions have allowed seven touchdowns to opposing running backs and 11 to reach double digits in Fantasy points, including Toby Gerhart and Michael Bush in the past three weeks. The Packers haven't done well running the ball this year, but with Aaron Rodgers likely sitting they could rely on Saine to carry the load in the season finale. (Started in 1 percent of leagues in Week 16)
Chris Ivory (vs. CAR): We've been waiting for Ivory to have a good game for each of the past three weeks, but he continues to come up short. He has combined for just 15 Fantasy points the past three games, but he could see an increased workload against the Panthers if the Saints decide to rest most of their starters. The Panthers have struggled in run defense all year with 19 touchdowns allowed to opposing running backs and 11 reaching double digits in Fantasy points. Ivory could add his name to that list if he gets additional carries this week when the Saints decide to lean on their reserves. (Started in 2 percent of leagues in Week 16)
Stevan Ridley (vs. BUF): The Patriots probably won't give many carries to BenJarvus Green-Ellis this week with the playoffs looming, but Ridley could see increased touches. He has 24 carries for 129 yards in his past two games against Denver and Miami, and he could reach double digits in Fantasy points against the Bills this week. Buffalo has allowed 16 touchdowns to opposing running backs and 11 to reach double digits in Fantasy points. We can see Ridley having the best game of his rookie season in Week 17 if the Patriots lean on him a little more in this matchup. (Started in 1 percent of leagues in Week 16)
Kendall Hunter (at STL): There is a good chance the 49ers limit the workload for Frank Gore this week, which could mean heavy lifting for Hunter. He played well in Week 16 at Seattle with 12 carries for 73 yards and would likely reach double digits in Fantasy points this week if he gets 15-plus carries. The Rams have been brutal in run defense all season with 16 touchdowns allowed to opposing running backs and 10 have reached double digits in Fantasy points. In the past two games, St. Louis has allowed five touchdowns to opposing running backs in Cedric Benson, Bernard Scott, Rashard Mendenhall, Isaac Redman and John Clay. There is a good chance Hunter will score if he gets enough carries. (Started in 4 percent of leagues in Week 16)

Wide receiver

Robert Meachem (vs. CAR): Meachem played well in Week 16 against Atlanta with Lance Moore (hamstring) hurt, and Moore will likely be out again in Week 17. Meachem had three catches for 75 yards and a touchdown, and he could see an increase in targets against the Panthers. Carolina has allowed 13 touchdowns to opposing receivers this season, including six in the past five games. We expect Drew Brees to rely on Meachem with Moore not expected to play. (Started in 11 percent of leagues in Week 16)
Pierre Garcon (at JAC): Garcon has struggled of late with a combined nine Fantasy points in his past three games against Baltimore, Tennessee and Houston, but this is a great matchup for him against the Jaguars. Jacksonville has allowed 13 touchdowns to opposing receivers, including six in the past five games. And Garcon should see plenty of targets in what should be a fun matchup despite the poor records. He is still looking for his first touchdown against Jacksonville in four career meetings, but we can see him scoring in this matchup to end the year. Consider him a No. 3 Fantasy receiver with upside. (Started in 29 percent of leagues in Week 16)
Vincent Brown (at OAK): Brown has the chance to see increased playing time with Vincent Jackson (groin) likely out. That should be similar to what happened to him in Week 10 when he faced the Raiders the first time with Malcom Floyd (hip) out. Brown had five catches for 97 yards and a touchdown, and he could have a similar performance this week. This is a great matchup against the Raiders, who have allowed the second-most touchdowns to opposing receivers with 19, trailing only New England (21). We like Brown as a potential No. 3 Fantasy receiver in the majority of leagues. (Started in 2 percent of leagues in Week 16)
James Jones (vs. DET): Jones could be one of the few regulars for the Packers to play significant minutes against the Lions, and we expect him to post quality stats if that's the case. He should be able to connect with Matt Flynn, who should see plenty of time in place of Rodgers, and Jones has a solid matchup against the Lions. He had three catches for 94 yards and a touchdown against Detroit in Week 12, and the Lions have allowed 13 touchdowns to opposing receivers this season, including seven in the past five games. Jones also has three touchdowns in his past five meetings against Detroit. (Started in 18 percent of leagues in Week 16)
David Nelson (at NE): Nelson hasn't scored since Week 12, but he should be able to close the season with a quality performance. He has a great matchup this week against the Patriots, who have allowed the most Fantasy points to opposing receivers this year. Nelson had six catches for 84 yards against New England in Week 3, and Buffalo will likely be throwing quite a bit in this matchup. We would consider using Nelson as a No. 3 Fantasy receiver in deeper leagues in the season finale. (Started in 12 percent of leagues in Week 16)

Tight end

Ed Dickson (at CIN): Dickson has played well in his past two games with a touchdown in each outing against San Diego and Cleveland. He has a good matchup against the Bengals, who have allowed two touchdowns and a 100-yard game to three tight ends in the past three weeks. Dickson had just two catches for 21 yards in Week 11 against Cincinnati, but with Anquan Boldin (knee) out he could remain more involved in the passing game, which will lead to quality production. (Started in 14 percent of leagues in Week 16)
Jeremy Shockey (at NO): We'll ride the hot hand here and go with Shockey, who has been a solid contributor for the Panthers the past three games. He has a touchdown in each outing against Atlanta, Houston and Tampa Bay and has been more reliable than Greg Olsen. Shockey was limited to three catches for 21 yards in Week 5 in the first meeting with the Saints, his former team, but he does have the chance to be productive if he keeps his touchdown streak alive. Don't expect overwhelming Fantasy stats since he has just six catches for 59 yards during the streak, but his ability to score makes him a potential starter in deeper formats. (Started in 2 percent of leagues in Week 16)
Heath Miller (at CLE): Miller has a great history against the Browns with three touchdowns in his past five meetings, and he could play well this week if Ben Roethlisberger (ankle) returns as expected. Miller was limited in Week 14 against Cleveland with two catches for 11 yards and a fumble, but the Browns have allowed seven touchdowns to opposing tight ends and seven to reach at least seven Fantasy points. We consider Miller a starting option in 14-team leagues this week, and hopefully Roethlisberger will look for him with significant targets, especially in the red zone. (Started in 15 percent of leagues in Week 16)

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us via Twitter @CBSFantasyFB . You can also follow Jamey at @JameyEisenberg and on Facebook .

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Player News
Steelers not expected to re-sign Ike Taylor
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(9:55 am ET) The Steelers likely won't re-sign impending free agent cornerback Ike Taylor, reports ESPN.com. Taylor, 34, dealt with multiple injuries this season and finished with 16 tackles in five games.

Taylor has spent his entire 12-year career with Pittsburgh. He said this month he's OK with 2014 being his last season.


Panthers RB Jonathan Stewart looking to build off strong finish
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(9:37 am ET) Over the last five weeks of the regular season, Panthers running back Jonathan Stewart rushed for 486 yards, second only to Dallas' DeMarco Murray. Stewart followed that up with 123 yards and a touchdown in the playoff win over Arizona.

"I'm really excited for next year," Stewart told the team's website. "You have to find your zone throughout the offseason. It starts now."

Stewart got the chance to be a workhorse when DeAngelo Williams fractured his hand Week 13. ESPN.com reports there's a "strong possibility" the Panthers will release the 31-year-old Williams this offseason, leaving Stewart, 27, as the unquestioned starter.

"It's just part of the journey," Stewart said of the individual success he had toward season's end. "The moment you start focusing on that, you miss out on other things along the journey."


Report: Patriots hoping to sign Darrelle Revis to long-term extension
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(1/26/2015) The Patriots are reportedly looking to sign cornerback Darrelle Revis to a long-term extension, according Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network.

However, New England has not ruled out paying Revis the $20 million team option in 2015, Rapoport reports. The decision needs to be made by April 1, when a $12 million roster bonus kicks in for Revis.

Revis totaled 47 tackles in 16 games for the Patriots, grabbing two interceptions and forcing one fumble.


C.J. Spiller expecting 'March Madness' style free agency
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(1/26/2015) Bills running back C.J. Spiller is getting healthy again. Spiller, who has fully recovered from a shoulder injury, just ended the final season of his contract and is looking at his options for next season.

"Physically, I’m back to 100 percent, back to doing normal activities," Spiller told The Post and Courier on Friday. "As far as football, free agency will start in March, and I’ll get with my people next week and get a game plan together."

Spiller has played five seasons for the Bills, only playing two full years. He ran for 1,244 yards in 2012 with six touchdowns.

"I guess you could say it’ll be March Madness," Spiller said with a smile. "It’ll be a fun March."


Report: Rams among teams interested in trade for Eagles' Foles
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(1/26/2015) Teams are beginning to show interest in Eagles quarterback Nick Foles, as reports are surfacing Philadelphia is unsure of what to do with the third-year quarterback, per NJ.com. A source said the Rams have interest in Foles should the Eagles choose to trade him this offseason. 

The Titans and Texans have also been mentioned as teams that would have interest in Foles, if he hits the trade market.

It's still unclear if the Eagles would be willing to move Foles. NJ.com reported last week the Eagles, who have the 20th pick in the NFL Draft, are considering making a run at Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota in the draft. 

"From No. 20, it's certainly not going to be easy,'' a source said. "It's probably going to take moving up twice to do it. There's going to be some wheeling and dealing involved.

"Can it happen? I don't know. But they're going to try."

Eagles head coach Chip Kelly recruited Mariota to Oregon and coached him for two years.

"Obviously, [with] my relationship with coach Kelly, it'd be a lot of fun to be a part of that offense and be a part of that team," Mariota said when asked about a potential reunion with Kelly.

Foles is 15-9 as a starter in the NFL, but he has yet to play a full season. He has completed 61.6 percent of his passes for 6,753 yards, 46 touchdowns and 17 interceptions.


Colts' Luck on new contract: 'There's nothing there right now'
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(1/26/2015) An ESPN report surfaced last week stating the Colts were working on making quarterback Andrew Luck the highest-paid player in the NFL. When asked about the subject at the Pro Bowl, Luck seemed surprise when he heard the news.

"There's nothing there right now," Luck said, per The Indianapolis Star. "I didn't think about it all during the season and it's only been a few days since it ended. I haven't thought about it. I will have conversations with my agent just because you have to prepare, but I'm not sure where that report came from."

Luck has two years remaining on the $22 million deal he signed as a rookie in 2012. It includes a team option for 2016, which must be exercised later this year.

Luck just completed his third season in the NFL. He has been to the Pro Bowl every year he's been in the NFL. He's gone 11-5 in every season as an NFL starter. He threw for a career-best 40 touchdowns in 2014 and led Indianapolis to the AFC title game this season.


Seahawks' Sherman disappointed he won't receive gifts from Pro Bowl
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(1/26/2015) In case you missed Sunday's Pro Bowl, Team Irvin knocked off Team Carter, 32-28, thanks to a second-half rally, which included touchdown catches by Emmanuel Sanders and Jimmy Graham.

While many Pro Bowl players that made the original roster were absent from the game due to injuries, Pro Bowl players from the Patriots and Seahawks also did not play due to preparations for next Sunday's Super Bowl.

One player who seemed upset about missing the Pro Bowl was Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman. However, it was for a reason you probably wouldn't suspect.

“Only thing I’m disappointed in is they won’t give us our gifts from the Pro Bowl, which is kind of dumb,” Sherman said, per The Boston Globe. “The NFL is the only league that punishes the players who actually make the All-Star game by not giving them their gifts. It’s supposed to be watches and some other stuff, but we don’t get them so I couldn’t tell you.”


Patriots' Tom Brady on Deflategate: 'My feelings got hurt'
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(1/26/2015) If you have been out of the loop for the last week, then you might be unaware the Patriots have been under a lot of scrutiny since the AFC title game due to improperly inflated footballs used against the Colts. The media hoopla has transformed the controversy into what we know as Deflategate.

If you haven't been out of the loop, then you are well aware of the nonstop coverage it has received the last week and despite the Patriots pleas for it to go away, it just won't.

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has had to deal with the backlash from Deflategate, and he found himself talking about the subject again Monday morning during an interview with WEEI.

“It’s all speculation,” Brady said. “I’ve tried to wrap my head around it, too. I’ve done that and I’m trying to move past that, because I continue to try to rehash things. I personalized a lot of things and thought this was all about me, and my feelings got hurt. Then I moved past it, because it’s not serving me. What’s serving me is try to prepare for the game ahead. I’ll deal with whatever happens later. I’ll have my opportunity to try to figure out what happened and figure out a theory like everyone else is trying to do. But this isn’t the time for that. Honestly, I’m not interested in trying to find out right now, because we have the biggest game of our season ahead.”

One topic Brady didn't have a problem addressing was the speculation coach Bill Belichick threw him under the bus during a press conference on Thursday. But Brady came to the defense of Belichick, who has won three Super Bowls as the Patriots coach.

“I’ve never once felt that we’re not on the same page,” Brady said. “He’s a great coach. He’s the only coach I’ve ever played for; he’s the only coach I’d ever want to play for. There’s a lot of people over the years that have criticized him, but I’d say there’s not one player who’s ever played for him who’s not had an unbelievable amount of respect for him and how he prepares and his diligence and his preparation."


Giants' Odell Beckham says he played with hamstring tears
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(1/26/2015) Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham said he played all season with two tears in his hamstrings, according to the New York Daily News.

Beckham took part in the Pro Bowl on Sunday, but admitted he's still not fully healed. Beckham said the injuries prevented him from getting to that "last gear that I wanted to have." He added that the injuries really bothered him against the Eagles and Colts. Beckham said he was "stumbling" and falling over during those games. He added that he's not sure whether he'll ever be 100 percent again.

The rookie had a tremendous season, hauling in 91 balls for 1,305 yards and 12 touchdowns. 


Patriots' Tom Brady meeting with NFL after Super Bowl 49
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(1/25/2015) Patriots quarterback Tom Brady doesn't expect to meet with the NFL until after Super Bowl XLIX, according to NFL.com.

The Patriots have been in the headlines all week due to Deflategate, and it appears the situation won't be resolved until after the season. "I believe they're going to do [a meeting] after the season," Brady said. "So we'll deal with it after this game. I think everybody is locked in, ready to go for the Super Bowl." Both Brady and coach Bill Belichick have held separate press conferences during the week to deny the team's involvement in deflating their footballs. 

The Patriots are subject to punishment from the NFL if the league finds any wrongdoing during the investigation. 


 
 
 
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