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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
Jimmy Smith cited on misdemeanor charge
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(2:26 pm ET) Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith was cited by police Saturday night for failing to follow an officer's orders. The misdemeanor charge came after police responded to a report of a woman passed out in a restaurant bathroom in Towson.

The woman was vomiting into a bathroom sink when police arrived. Smith was with the woman and "refused to obey an officer's repeated orders to leave the bathroom," police said.

Smith became the fifth Raven to get in trouble with police this offseason.


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(7/11/2014) Broncos cornerback Chris Harris, who's coming back from ACL surgery, told ESPN he expects to be cleared for full participation by the midway point of the preseason. Harris said the exact timetable hinges on his upcoming visit to his surgeon, Dr. James Andrews.

"I’m doing everything, there’s really nothing I can’t do right now," Harris told the network. "I still have to go see Dr. Andrews at the end of the month and get checked up and he’ll pretty much let us know the plan from there."

Harris had 65 tackles and three interceptions last year before getting hurt in the playoffs.


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If Patterson falters, third-round pick Dexter McDougle could get a shot.


Fred Jackson in danger of losing carries
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(7/11/2014) Bills running back Fred Jackson might not approach the 207 carries he received last year. According to WGR550.com, Jackson will once again split time with C.J. Spiller but also potentially lose snaps to the team's additions at running back, Bryce Brown and Anthony Dixon.

The website said Jackson, 33, who's entering the last year of his deal, will be trying to prove how much he has left.


Teammate: Bitterness won't linger from Jimmy Graham standoff
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(7/11/2014) Saints tight end Benjamin Watson told ESPN that the the team's arbitration fight with Jimmy Graham over whether he's a receiver or a tight end won't have a longterm detrimental effect. Watson is hopeful the sides will reach a multiyear contract agreement by Tuesday's deadline.

"I’m very confident that it’ll be resolved the right way and guys can move forward," Watson said. "Obviously it’s always tough when you go through litigation with somebody, and it can probably get heated. And I’m sure there are emotions on both sides. But that is the business side of the game. 

"And it’s unfortunate that it came to that and that it was so public. But I really think -- I know, I don’t think -- I know that Jimmy loves New Orleans and I know that he loves our team and the organization and he loves playing here. And we love him, everybody wants him here, coaches included. So when it comes down to contract situations, that’s just a necessary evil ... not even evil, but just a necessary progression of getting a player here."


Dallas Thomas eyes starting job
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(7/11/2014) Dolphins coach Joe Philbin named Dallas Thomas one of the team's most improved players, and he has a good chance to start at left guard, according to the team's website. A third-round pick in last year's draft, Thomas played only four offensive snaps last season.

Thomas worked with the first team during spring drills and is much further along than he was in 2013. He stayed in South Florida throughout the offseason to get better prepared.

"You’ve got to know your material, you’ve got to know what you’re doing on the field because stuff happens so fast," Thomas said. "You’ve got to be able to just react to it and not even think about what’s happening on the field."


Spencer Nealy hit with four-game ban
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(7/11/2014) The NFL suspended Vikings defensive end Spencer Nealy four games for violating the league's policy on performance enhancing substances. An undrafted free agent out of Texas A&M, the 24-year-old Nealy did not play in a game last season.

Nealy apologized and took responsibility in a statement, saying he took a supplement containing a banned stimulant.


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(7/11/2014) Jarrett Boykin improved dramatically last season and "will be hard to dislodge" from the Packers' No. 3 receiver job, reports the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. Boykin will have to hold off second-round pick Davante Adams, fifth-rounder Jared Abbrederis and seventh-rounder Jeff Janis.

Boykin, 24, caught 49 passes for 681 yards and three touchdowns last season.


Trent Richardson might not get long leash
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Richardson likely will get the first shot at the starting job. He has a much better grasp of the playbook than he did in 2013 and the belief is he'll be able to run on instinct as opposed to overthinking, the report said.


Bruce Ellington trying to overcome stature
by Jeff Borzello | College Basketball Writer
(7/11/2014) At 5-foot-9, Bruce Ellington is the shortest receiver on the 49ers' roster. But the fourth-round pick out of South Carolina should not be discounted, his high school coach, Jerry Brown, told the Sacramento Bee.

Brown said Ellington is relentless at finding open space and catching everything thrown his way. "Football's played on a big field and it's hard to track someone like Bruce who's got so much agility," Brown said.

Ellington believes he has lots of room for growth because he only gave up basketball last year. Also a former track competitor, Ellington clocked a 4.45 forty at the combine.

"I'm just going to work hard, give it a hundred (percent) every time I step on the field and keep on chasing the dream," he said.


 
 
 
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