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Playoff Extra: What Wild Card Weekend means

Senior Fantasy Writer
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Tim Tebow is going to get plenty of credit for Denver's playoff victory against Pittsburgh on Sunday, and rightfully so. He played better than anyone expected against the vaunted Steelers defense.

Tebow passed for a career-high 316 yards and two touchdowns, including the game-winning score in overtime, and he also had 50 rushing yards and a touchdown. It was an amazing performance, but did he do anything to help his Fantasy value in 2012?

Many Fantasy owners are going to consider Tebow a starter on Draft Day, especially if you like to wait on drafting a quarterback with a late-round pick. After all, he had plenty of positive moments in 2011 with six games with at least 18 Fantasy points in 11 starts. He averaged 17.4 Fantasy points a week as a starter, which would have tied him with Mark Sanchez as the No. 12 quarterback in a standard league.

But heading into next year, Tebow should not be considered a No. 1 Fantasy quarterback. He barely cracks my Top 15 quarterbacks based on an early rank list for 2012:

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1. Aaron Rodgers, Packers
2. Drew Brees, Saints
3. Tom Brady, Patriots
4. Cam Newton, Panthers
5. Matthew Stafford, Lions
6. Michael Vick, Eagles
7. Peyton Manning, Colts
8. Eli Manning, Giants
9. Tony Romo, Cowboys
10. Philip Rivers, Chargers
11. Matt Ryan, Falcons
12. Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers
13. Matt Schaub, Texans
14. Tim Tebow, Broncos
15. Carson Palmer, Raiders

When watching the playoffs, don't overreact when a player has a big game or get too down if a star struggles. But the postseason can help solidify an opinion you have of a certain player, especially if they build on something that was started in the regular season.

Here are five winners and losers from this past weekend. We'll consider Tebow a winner based on his play against the Steelers, and now he has to follow it up with another quality outing at New England. But even if that happens he should not be considered a No. 1 Fantasy quarterback heading into 2012.

Five winners

Andre Johnson, WR, Texans
Playoff performance: Five catches for 90 yards and a touchdown vs. Cincinnati
Anyone wondering if Johnson is back from his hamstring problems saw against the Bengals that he is just fine. He scored on a 40-yard pass downfield where he put a nice double move on Bengals cornerback Pacman Jones. He also had nine targets in the game. Keep in mind this came with T.J. Yates at quarterback, and Johnson will get Matt Schaub (foot) back in 2012. He should be drafted as the No. 2 receiver behind Calvin Johnson next year with a pick toward the end of Round 2. Yes, injuries are a concern since Johnson missed nine games with the hamstring injuries this season. But he had three games with double digits in Fantasy points and remains a star when healthy, and we're expecting him to play big next year.

Hakeem Nicks, WR, Giants
Playoff performance: Six catches for 115 yards and two touchdowns vs. Atlanta
Victor Cruz was the best receiver for the Giants in 2011, but Nicks will be the best Fantasy receiver for the Giants in 2012. He showed his dominance in the playoffs against the Falcons, and he will re-emerge as the go-to option for Eli Manning next year. Cruz will still remain a star, but Nicks is the receiver to target on Draft Day with a pick in Round 3. He has more upside than Cruz and he still had a successful campaign in 2011 with seven games with double digits in Fantasy points. He had a tremendous game against the Packers in Week 13 with seven catches for 88 yards and two touchdowns, and he should play at a high level against Green Bay in the rematch this week.

Isaac Redman, RB, Steelers
Playoff performance: 17 carries for 121 yards and two catches for 21 yards at Denver
Redman got the start against the Broncos with Rashard Mendenhall (torn ACL) out, and he showed Fantasy owners that he can be a reliable option heading into 2012. There's a strong chance Mendenhall won't be ready for Week 1 next year, which means Redman can be a starter if the Steelers re-sign the exclusive rights free agent as expected. He should be drafted as a No. 3 Fantasy running back with upside, and he is now in the same category as Toby Gerhart with Adrian Peterson (torn ACL and MCL) likely out to start next season. Depending on how long Mendenhall takes to return, we could be looking at Redman as a solid sleeper in 2012.

Matthew Stafford, QB, Lions
Playoff performance: 380 passing yards, three touchdowns, two interceptions and a rushing touchdown at New Orleans
The 2012 Fantasy value for Stafford and receiver Calvin Johnson were enhanced with their performance against the Saints. Stafford should be considered a Top 5 Fantasy quarterback next season, worth drafting in Round 2. The only quarterbacks better than him are, in order, Rodgers, Brees, Brady and Newton. And you won't get much of an argument from me if you take Stafford ahead of Newton. As for Johnson, he proved that he should be drafted in Round 1 in all leagues. There is no receiver better than him, and he produces like a running back with his ability to score. With his two touchdowns against the Saints he finished with 18 on the season.

Demaryius Thomas, WR, Broncos
Playoff performance: Four catches for 204 yards and a touchdown vs. Pittsburgh
Thomas established himself as the No. 1 receiver for the Broncos and Tebow with his performance to close the regular season. He had three games with double digits in Fantasy points in his final five outings, and he was the star against the Steelers. Thomas will continue to improve as Tebow develops as a passer, and he is entering his third season in 2012. You can draft Thomas as a No. 3 Fantasy receiver, but he can end up starting for you in all leagues based on his big-play ability. We hope Thomas can have another outstanding game against the Patriots in the divisional round to further solidify his value heading into next season.

Five losers

Cedric Benson, RB, Bengals
Playoff performance: Seven carries for 14 yards and a touchdown at Houston
This might have been Benson's last game as a starting running back in the NFL, especially with the Bengals. He is a free agent this offseason, and Cincinnati might be ready for an upgrade. Benson was fine in 2011 with over 1,000 rushing yards and six touchdowns, but he had just six games with double digits in Fantasy points. Keep an eye on where he lands in 2012, and if he does get a featured role again then he could still be drafted as a low-end No. 2 Fantasy running back. But we expect him to be in a tandem next season, even with the Bengals if he returns, and his value is definitely on the decline.

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Mark Ingram, RB, Saints
Playoff performance: Did not play vs. Detroit
Will Ingram ever be a starting Fantasy option in the majority of leagues? It's not expected to happen in 2012 with Darren Sproles and Pierre Thomas both back, and Chris Ivory will remain in the mix. Ingram (toe) is out for the rest of this season after being placed on injured reserve, and the Saints continue to march on without him. He will definitely have Fantasy value in 2012, and he should be considered a No. 3 running back with upside. But he might not be a starting option in the majority of leagues for a long time with how New Orleans throws the ball and with Sproles and Thomas under contract through 2014. Barring an injury, Ingram's Fantasy value will continue to be limited, which is shame given his immense potential.

Matt Ryan, QB, Falcons
Playoff performance: 199 passing yards at the Giants
Ryan will enter 2012 as a No. 1 Fantasy quarterback, and he will be great value on Draft Day. But his poor performance against the Giants will keep him from being a Top 10 Fantasy option next year. He will enter the season behind Rodgers, Brees, Brady, Newton, Stafford, Vick, Peyton Manning, Eli Manning, Romo and Rivers. He could crack the Top 10 if Peyton Manning doesn't recover from his neck problem, but Ryan should not be considered an elite Fantasy option. He had seven games with at least 20 Fantasy points in 2011 and six of them came indoors. Until he becomes more consistent outside then his Fantasy value will be limited.

Kevin Smith, RB, Lions
Playoff performance: Six carries for 21 yards and two catches for 20 yards at New Orleans
Smith is a free agent this offseason, and we guarantee he will get more attention from other teams this year after no one signed him prior to 2011. He had a great regular season in limited action with double digits in Fantasy points in three of the seven games in which he appeared. But if he returns to Detroit next year then he will be in a timeshare with Mikel Leshoure, who was out in 2011 with a ruptured Achilles' tendon, and Jahvid Best, who expects to make a full recovery from his concussion problems. And he's unlikely to land a featured role with a new team. Smith should be considered a No. 3 Fantasy running back at best on Draft Day in 2012 depending on where he is playing.

Michael Turner, RB, Falcons
Playoff performance: 15 carries for 41 yards and one catch for 5 yards at the Giants
Turner was already on my bust list heading into 2012 before his performance against the Giants, and he is a running back on the decline. He had a successful season in 2011 with more than 1,300 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns, but this is now three times in the past four years where he has at least 300 carries, which is beginning to take a toll. He is not a threat as a receiver, and the Falcons are trending toward a passing team with Roddy White, Julio Jones and Tony Gonzalez. Turner will remain a candidate for double digits in touchdowns, but his yardage should begin to slip. I would consider him a No. 2 Fantasy running back in 2012, and he should not be drafted in the first round in the majority of formats.

Playoff Challenge

The Broncos ruined my team with their upset victory against the Steelers since I had Redman, Shaun Suisham and the Steelers DST in my lineup for the wildcard round. I had to make changes with at least three of my eight transactions.

Here is my roster for the divisional round:

QB – Drew Brees, Saints - 79
RB – Ray Rice, Ravens - 64
RB – Ryan Grant - 19
WR – Marques Colston, Saints - 37
WR – Robert Meachem, Saints - 14
TE – Jimmy Graham, Saints - 37
K – Billy Cundiff, Ravens - 15
DST - Ravens - 31

I ended up making four transactions to replace Sproles with Rice. Sproles is better suited to play at home -- he had two games with double digits in Fantasy points on the road and only one outdoors -- and Rice has a chance to lead the Ravens to the Super Bowl. I then went with Grant as my second running back based on his value at 19 units, and I'm going with Cundiff and the Ravens DST to fill out the rest of my roster. If the Saints and Ravens reach the Super Bowl then my team should be in good shape.

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
Panthers pick up option on Luke Kuechly contract
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(4/25/2015) What was promised by general manager Dave Gettleman is now official - the Panthers have picked up the fifth-year option on the rookie contract of standout linebacker Luke Kuechly, per the team website.

The two-time Pro Bowler has led the NFL in tackles in two of his three seasons and was named NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2013. He has racked up 473 tackles since 2012, the most in the NFL.


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(4/25/2015) Ravens tight end Dennis Pitta hopes to take the field in time for the 2015 season, but admits it's too early to determine if that goal can become a reality.

Pitta has undergone surgeries to repair a fractured and dislocated hip in each of the last two years.

"We still have some time to be able to assess where I'm at," Pitta told the Baltimore Sun. "I sure hope that I'll be on the field next year. That's my hope; that's my goal. We'll just see if I can get there."

Pitta has played in just seven games in the last two seasons combined.


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(4/25/2015) Eagles quarterback Mark Sanchez said he wasn't concerned that the team signed Tim Tebow, because the Eagles told him Tebow was just there to throw in camp.

"We needed another guy to throw while Sam's (Bradford) still recovering. So that's the reason (for the signing), at least as explained to me," Sanchez said, per CSN Philadelphia

The Eagles signed Tebow on Monday. He hasn't played in the NFL since getting cut by the Patriots at the end of training camp prior to the 2013 season. He spent last year as a television analyst for the SEC Network. 

Tebow and Sanchez were teammates on the Jets in 2012. Tebow's presence as a back-up created a quarterback controversy among fans and media that last ed throughout the season. 


Vikings CB Terence Newman has familiarity with Mike Zimmer
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(4/24/2015) Vikings cornerback Terence Newman won't have a steep learning curve now that he's with his new team. 

Newman played under Vikings coach Mike Zimmer when he was the defensive coordinator with the Cowboys. Drafted in 2003, Newman learned Zimmer's defense from his rookie season through 2006, before Zimmer left to take the same position with the Falcons. 

“I just know exactly what to expect from him as a coach, as well as everybody else in this locker room,” Newman told the Vikings' website. “You play your best football under him.”

In his career, Newman has recorded 741 tackles and 37 interceptions. Entering his 13th NFL year, Newman has already impressed his teammates with voluntary workouts underway. 

“I met with him and he seemed like a great guy,” cornerback Xavier Rhodes said. “Like he’s going to come in and teach us what we need to know about the technique of the game and about the defense because he’s been in it before, so he’s going to help us out a lot. He’s a big asset to this team and the defense.”


Chiefs pick up option on NT Dontari Poe
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(4/24/2015) The Chiefs have exercised their fifth-year option on two-time Pro Bowl nose tackle Dontari Poe, per NFL.com. He is set in Kansas City through 2016, when he will earn $6.146 million.

The 350-pound Poe has earned the money. He racked up six sacks and contributed to 46 tackles in 2014.


Lions GM Mayhew OK with James Ihedigbo skipping workouts
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(4/24/2015) Safety James Ihedigbo was the lone absence from voluntary workouts this week for the Lions. But general manager Martin Mayhew understands. After all, Ihedigbo's agent has stated that he would not work without a new contract.

"I look forward to talking with James," Mayhew told ESPN. "I understand what he's going through. I've been through that myself as a player, when I felt that a time in my career that I was underpaid and I had to deal with that.

"So I have empathy for him. I understand what he's going through and I look forward to sitting down and talking with him. I have great respect for him as a player, as a man. I've gotten to know him a little bit away from football and I understand how he feels."

Mayhew declined to discuss whether the Liins will rework Ihedigbo's contract.

The 31-year-old Ihedigbo contributed 71 tackles and two sacks with a career-high four interceptions in 2014 despite missing three games at the start of the year with a nerve injury. He earned Pro Bowl alternate status.


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(4/24/2015) Running back Chris Polk is now a free agent. 

According to the NFL transaction wire, the Eagles rescinded their $1.6 million tender they offered this past March. The Eagles placed the tender on Polk, previously a restricted free agent, before signing both DeMarco Murray and Ryan Mathews in free agency. 

With Darren Sproles on the roster, it didn't make much sense for Polk to stay with the Eagles. 

In 2014, Polk ran for 172 yards and four touchdowns. 


RB Bobby Rainey signs qualifying offer with Buccaneers
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(4/24/2015) The Buccaneers have announced that running back Bobby Rainey has signed a one-year qualifying offer the team extended to him before the free agency period. He was a restricted free agent and was given an opportunity to negotiate with other teams.

Rainey will compete for playing time with Tampa Bay. He rushed for 406 yards in 2014, but faded at the end of the season with just two carries in the last six games combined.


Jaguars planning to play 2015 season without Justin Blackmon
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(4/24/2015) As far as the Jaguars are concerned, Justin Blackmon will not be lining up at receiver for them this season. 

At least that's the approach Jacksonville is taking. Blackmon has been indefinitely suspended since Nov. 1 2013 for three violations of the substance-abuse policy under the old CBA.

"Our process hasn't changed," Caldwell said, via ESPN.com. "[We] plan to go without him, but if he emerges, he emerges, and he's going to go in with those top guys and compete with those other guys. Hopefully we're able to get some news, but if not we weren't planning on [having Blackmon]. We're just going to go [without him]."

Before he can re-join the Jaguars, he'll need to file an application for reinstatement, with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell making a decision within a 60-day window. The application letter would include details of the treatment he's received. 

Since being selected with the fourth overall pick in the 2012 draft, Blackmon has only played in 20 games. He has 1,280 yards and six touchdowns in his career. 


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(4/24/2015) Cowboys defensive end Greg Hardy got into an altercation with teammate Davon Coleman during a voluntary offseason workout, according to a report from Yahoo! Sports

Hardy reportedly questioned Coleman's work ethic during a conditioning drill, which led Coleman to call Hardy a "woman beater."

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Hardy has been suspended by the NFL for 10 games due to what transpired in that case. According to FOX Sports, the confrontation between Hardy and Coleman remained verbal


 
 
 
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