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Playoff Extra: Up for a challenge?

Senior Fantasy Writer
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Another way to enjoy the NFL postseason -- and keep your Fantasy fix going for another four weeks -- is the Playoff Challenge at CBSSports.com. There are also other games out there geared toward the postseason, and we're here to help you set your lineup.

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The best strategy is to pick players you think are going to last deep into the playoffs. The more games they play, the more stats you will accrue. The ideal situation is picking players from a team that will play at least three games. For example, a wild card team that makes it to the championship game or a team with a first-round bye that makes it to the Super Bowl.

In our Playoff Challenge you select one quarterback, two running backs, two wide receivers, one tight end, one kicker and one DST with a salary cap of 300 units. You are then allowed eight lineup changes throughout the rest of the playoffs.

Here is my roster for the wildcard round ...

QB -- Drew Brees, Saints -- 79
RB -- Darren Sproles, Saints -- 54
RB -- Isaac Redman, Steelers -- 31
WR -- Marques Colston, Saints -- 37
WR -- Robert Meachem, Saints -- 14
TE -- Jimmy Graham, Saints -- 37
K -- Shaun Suisham, Steelers -- 15
DST -- Steelers -- 33

As stated above, my strategy is to take players I believe will last the longest, and I'm counting on the Saints to make a long playoff run. For this weekend, I expect Brees to have an outstanding game against the Lions, with Sproles, Colston and Graham having a significant role like they have all season. And I went with Meachem as my second receiver since Lance Moore (hamstring) is likely out. I went with Redman at the other running back spot since he is now the starter with Rashard Mendenhall (torn ACL) out for the playoffs. And I also expect the Steelers to sneak by the Broncos this week, so I will lean on Suisham as a kicker and the Steelers DST to start for hopefully two scoring periods.

You can use our listing of units as a ranking for the Playoff Challenge since my colleague Dave Richard and I contributed to the values at each position. And you can also compete against me, Dave, Nathan Zegura and other members of our staff here at CBSSports.com.

Just follow this link here and sign up for your team in my buddy group. We welcome the challenge of you guys competing against us throughout the postseason.

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 .

Get player news notifications, manage your team and check scores
- all updated in real time. Download the CBS Fantasy App.

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Player News
Panthers' Rivera: Cam Newton came out of game in good health
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(12:47 pm ET) Panthers coach Ron Rivera told reporters Monday that early indications are that quarterback Cam Newton came out of Sunday's game against the Browns in good health, per the team's official website.

Newton, who came off two small fractures in his back sustained in a car accident, completed 18 of 31 for 201 yards with one touchdown and one interception. He also rushed for 63 yards and another score on 12 attempts.

Newton and the Panthers will travel to Atlanta to face the Falcons for the NFC South title. Carolina is currently a 3 1/2-point underdog in Week 17.


Cardinals RB situation a complete mess now
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(12:38 pm ET) Whether it was because he was limited in practice by a knee injury leading up to the game or because the Cardinals fell behind early and needed more of a pass blocker in the backfield, running back Kerwynn Williams, who had performed admirably the previous two weeks, totaling 175 yards on the ground, was hardly a factor Week 16 against Seattle, getting two carries for 4 yards.

Instead, Stepfan Taylor was the lead ball carrier. Of course, he wasn't so effective in the role, picking up 19 yards on 11 carries, but that's bound to happen for any running back going against the Seahawks. He did at least have 25 yards on two catches. Marion Grice and Robert Hughes also each got a carry, but they haven't been as much of a factor with Andre Ellington out.

Williams seems to be the best rusher of the group and the one you'd prefer to see get the carries in Fantasy, but if the Cardinals are that willing to abandon him when the score isn't in their favor, you can never feel confident playing him in Fantasy. Especially now that the Cardinals are down to their third quarterback, the score isn't going to be in their favor so often.

Week 17 at San Francisco should be a more competitive game, but given that the 49ers are tough against the run as well, you should probably pass on Williams for the season's final week.


Lions DT Nick Fairley (knee) ditches crutches
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(12:38 pm ET) Lions coach Jim Caldwell told reporters defensive tackle Nick Fairley is "making good progress" in his recovering from knee injury, per the team's official website. Fairley is no longer in crutches and is not a candidate to land on injured reserve "at this precise moment."

Fairley was stretchered off in Week 8 against the Falcons with the injury. He totaled 14 tackles and one forced fumble.


Doug Baldwin takes advantage of injury
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(12:27 pm ET) Wide receiver Doug Baldwin hasn't emerged as the Seahawks' clear No. 1 as Fantasy owners had hoped after the team shipped Percy Harvin to the Jets, sometimes taking a back seat to Jermaine Kearse. But after Kearse left early Week 16 at Arizona with a hamstring injury, Baldwin didn't have as much competition for looks, catching seven passes for 113 yards on a season-high 11 targets.

It was his second game in three with more than 90 yards, but it was also just his second in eight with more than 60, to give you some idea how much Kearse has interfered with his production.

Also helping Baldwin in this one was the fact that quarterback Russell Wilson threw for a season-high 339 yards. In the Seahawks' inconsistent passing attack, you couldn't count on Baldwin for consistent production even if he was the clear No. 1.

Still, if Kearse is out for Week 17 against St. Louis, Baldwin deserves a longer look in Fantasy, particularly in leagues that require three wide receivers.


Steelers keeping eye on LB Williams, OT Beachum
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(12:22 pm ET) Mike Tomlin has stated that the team will monitor Steelers linebacker Vince Williams (ankle) and tackle Kelvin Beachum (back) as it prepares to host Cincinnati in the regular season finale Sunday.

Williams has started just two games, but he has seen increased playing time over the course of the season.


Luke Willson's lack of targets telling
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(12:13 pm ET) Seahawks tight end Luke Willson had a career performance Week 16 at Arizona, going for 139 yards and two touchdowns, including an 80-yarder in the second quarter. But those numbers distract from one just as important: His three catches were his only three targets on the day.

Even with quarterback Russell Wilson attempting more than 30 passes for just the second time in five games, Willson wasn't any more targeted than usual. It's just that two of them happened to result in big plays.

The long touchdown was probably a fluke. He got behind the defense, an oversight on its part, and ran away from everyone after he caught the ball. Big deal. Take it away, and he had two catches for 59 yards and a touchdown -- a good performance by his standards, but nothing that would send Fantasy owners flocking to the waiver wire.

Even though Willson got the numbers, Wilson's preferred targets were wide receivers Doug Baldwin and Paul Richardson, who had 11 and seven targets, respectively. Those were season highs for each.

If you can't count on them to get consistent looks in the Seahawks offense, you certainly can't count on Willson to. He's had only three games with more than four all season, none in the last three weeks.


Jaguars RB Toby Gerhart still feeling pain in rib
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(12:00 pm ET) Jaguars running back Toby Gerhart said he is still feeling the rib contusion sustained Thursday against Tennessee, per the Florida Times-Union.

The team has yet to issue an update on his condition, but the problem could prevent him from playing in the season finale Sunday at Houston. If his season is indeed over, he will end it with just 318 yards on 97 carries.

Those are not strong numbers considering he entered the year as the team's featured back.


Jaguars DT Roy Miller still optimistic about playing Week 17
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(11:52 am ET) Jaguars defensive tackle Roy Miller is still optimistic about playing in Sunday's season finale against Houston, the Florida Times-Union reports. Miller sat out Week 16 against Baltimore with a knee injury. A previous report had him missing the rest of the season and in order to have surgery to repair a torn meniscus.

"I'm trying to get it right and hopefully tomorrow or Wednesday, I'll feel a lot better," Miller said.


Russell Wilson could be in for strong finish
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(11:50 am ET) With the Cardinals struggling to get anything going offensively behind third-string quarterback Ryan Lindley, the Seahawks offense got repeated opportunities to shine Week 16 in Arizona. And quarterback Russell Wilson took advantage, throwing for a season-high 339 yards while rushing for 88. For the second time in three games, he contributed three total touchdowns, two in the air and one on the ground.

The Seahawks have gotten back to winning with their defense in recent weeks, making Wilson at times an afterthought. But when pressed to make plays, he's shown he's still capable of putting up big numbers.

Chances are he'll need to make plays in Week 17 against a Rams team that has played well of late, particularly on the defensive side of the ball. Wilson's previous season high in passing yards came in his first meeting with them back in Week 7, when he threw for 313 and ran for 106. Despite his up-and-down tendencies, you'll want him active for the season's final week.


Bears' Trestman will talk to Jimmy Clausen before naming starter
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(11:43 am ET) Bears coach Marc Trestman said Monday morning on WBBM Newsradio 780 that he'll talk to Jimmy Clausen before naming a starter for Sunday's season finale against Minnesota, CBS Chicago reports.

Clausen earned his first start since his rookie year with the Panthers in 2010. He compiled 181 yards while completing 22 of 39 passes. He added two touchdowns and one interception in a 20-14 defeat to Detroit.

"We'll talk about it today," Bears coach Marc Trestman said. "I thought he had a good performance. He needed some help. He didn't get it -- had a few drops along the way, had a couple missed assignments up front in the running game, where we could've had a little bit more yardage. But I thought he handled himself (well), for two practices and having not played (much) for four years. It was certainly a good performance."

Chicago is currently a 6 1/2-point underdog at Minnesota.


 
 
 
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