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2012 Draft Prep: Don't count out DeSean

Senior Fantasy Writer
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I'm writing this column in the middle of a draft. It's a PPR league where you start three receivers, and we're in Round 5. My first four picks were DeMarco Murray, Trent Richardson, Jordy Nelson and Doug Martin. I'm looking for my second receiver, and there he is.

DeSean Jackson has drawn me in again. Even after last year. Even though I should know better with this boom or bust receiver. Even with his brittle quarterback already battling injuries -- and it's not even the third preseason game yet.

But Jackson has me hooked. His potential has me hovering over his name in the draft room, and I'm going to select him ahead of a safer option like Steve Johnson. What can I say, I'm a sucker for talent.

The key is believing in that talent, and I expect Jackson to succeed. The prediction here is Jackson will return to elite status.

We all know what happened to Jackson last year. He got caught up in his contract, and with his money on his mind, his play suffered. He had the worst year of his career since his rookie season with 58 catches for 961 yards and four touchdowns and just 41 rushing yards.

Despite all that, Jackson was still rewarded with a five year, $51 contract extension. The Eagles realize his talent is worth the potential headache, and they expect him to play better. Nearly everyone has said that this offseason.

Eagles receivers coach David Culley told the Philadelphia Daily News Jackson's pending contract status impacted his preparation and on-field mentality last year, and he seemed tenuous on going across the middle.

"I saw a couple of times last year where I saw him maybe trying to maybe save himself because (he was thinking), 'I'm not under contract and I don't want to get hurt,'" Culley said. "I don't think there was a fear factor involved. I think it was more, 'I don't want to get hurt because I don't have a contract.' The first two-and-a-half years he was here, that wasn't an issue. A couple of times last year, that came up. I think the fact that the distraction is gone. ... There are very few things he can't do on the field. Very few things. Other than him not being 6-foot-2, there is nothing that a 6-foot-2 guy can do that he can't do. So I expect him to be complete."

If that's not a ringing endorsement from his position coach, Fantasy owners should listen to his quarterback. Michael Vick knows Jackson is a key for the Eagles to play well in 2012.

"He has to be focused," said Vick, who is dealing with a rib injury after Week 2 of the preseason. "His mind has to be in tune with football. The most important thing he can do right now is to make sure that he's attentive in the meetings, he's in his playbook and he understands different coverages so when he hears a play call, (he understands) what it's designed for. It's a lot of responsibility that he has to bear, but in order to be in the same league with the great ones, those are things that you have to do. From my understanding, he wants to be one of the best at his position and in this league. He's going to have to work for it. I think he understands that, and he's been showing that."

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As recently as Monday during the second preseason game against New England, Jackson acknowledged that he was a problem last year because of his contract, but he's put all those issues behind him.

When asked about instances when his effort was questioned, Jackson said during a halftime interview: "I let it get to me, even though I tried not to let it. I was trying to protect myself from getting hurt -- now I'm just giving it all."

He's saying all the right things, and Fantasy owners should forget what happened last year and look at his previous production. In 2009, Jackson had 62 catches for 1,156 yards and nine touchdowns and 137 rushing yards and a touchdown. He followed that up with another solid campaign in 2010 with 47 catches for 1,056 yards and six touchdowns and 104 rushing yards and a touchdown.

He's a Top 10 Fantasy receiver when he's on his game, and he represents amazing value this year since his Average Draft Position is No. 62 overall in Round 5. He's definitely worth the risk in that spot.

He has an elite quarterback in Vick, as long as he's healthy, and a solid supporting cast to draw coverage in LeSean McCoy, Jeremy Maclin and Brent Celek. Now, Jackson should be drafted after Maclin since Maclin is the safer of the two, but Jackson has the higher ceiling.

I'd love to get Jackson as my No. 2 receiver in all leagues, especially if I don't take a second receiver until Round 5. He should turn into amazing value on Draft Day, and Jackson is going to rebound to have a solid season in 2012.

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
Buccaneers CB Alterraun Verner optimistic for Week 12
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(8:47 pm ET) Buccaneers cornerback Alterraun Verner (hamstring) is listed as questionable for Sunday's Week 12 matchup with the Bears, but he's optimistic he'll be cleared to play, Buccaneers.com reports.

"I feel good," he said after getting a limited practice in Friday. "Had a good week and was able to do a lot of things and hopefully they give me the green light to go this week. I was able to open up a lot more this week and I’m looking forward to hopefully being out there this week."

Verner has missed each of the team's last two games, but the Buccaneers defense surrendered 220 passing yards or less to each of the two starting quarterbacks they faced during that stretch.


Raiders' Tony Sparano optimistic Jackson, Carrie will play Week 13
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(8:31 pm ET) Raiders coach Tony Sparano is optimistic that guard Gabe Jackson (knee) and cornerback T.J. Carrie (ankle) will be able to play in Week 13 against the Rams, CSNBayArea.com reports.

"There’s optimism," Sparano told the media. "Again, I say that today, and just went over a few of those things a little while ago. But yes, there’s optimism there."

Jackson has missed three straight games with his injury, while Carrie has played just once in the last three games.


49ers LB Patrick Willis udergoes successful toe surgery
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(8:04 pm ET) 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis said Friday on Instagram that the surgery on his injured left big toe "went well," 49ers.com reports.

Willis previously indicated that he's been bothered by the injury for several seasons. Now on injured reserve, the linebacker hopes to be ready for the start of the 2015 season.


Chiefs place A.J. Jenkins on injured reserve
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(7:34 pm ET) The Chiefs placed wide receiver A.J. Jenkins on injured reserve Friday. Jenkins, who missed the team's last two games with a shoulder injury, finishes the season with nine receptions for 93 yards.

Seahawks' Carroll: 'We'd be thrilled' to keep Marshawn Lynch
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(7:20 pm ET) Seahawks coach Pete Carroll told the media after Friday's practice that the team would be "thrilled" to have running back Marshawn Lynch back with the team in 2015, the Everett Herald reports.

"We want him around here for as long as he can play, and there’s never been any hesitation, there’s never been another thought about that," Carroll said. "That came totally from somewhere else. He’s under contract next year, we’ll be thrilled to have him playing for us next year. So we’ll do everything we can to get that done."

Carroll's comments come one day after telling USA Today that Lynch is "our guy" and that "we'd love to have him back." It's been speculated that the team would look to move on from Lynch after this season, as releasing the star running back would save the team $7 million in cap room.


Raiders' Tony Sparano: RB Latavius Murray in concussion protocol
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(5:55 pm ET) Raiders interim coach Tony Sparano didn't provide much of an update regarding running back Latavius Murray's status during his Friday news conference. He told reporters that Murray is undergoing a battery of concussion tests, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

Murray carried the four times for 112 yards and two touchdowns before getting knocked out of Week 12 with a concussion. He will need to be medically cleared by an independent neurologist in order to play Week 13 against the Rams. When asked why he hasn't used Murray in his first six games as interim coach, Sparano told reporters he "never looks back."


Trio of Seahawks ruled out for Sunday battle with Arizona
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(5:46 pm ET) The Seahawks have red-lighted center Max Unger (knee/ankle), defensive back Marcus Burley (hamstring) and linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis (shoulder) for their Week 12 game against Arizona. Defensive end Demarcus Dobbs (knee) is doubtful, but all else on their injury report have a good shot at playing.

Guard James Carpenter (ankle) is questionables while running back Marshawn Lynch (back), linebackers Bobby Wagner (toe) and Brock Coyle (glute), cornerback Byron Maxwell (calf) and guard J.R. Sweezy (thigh) are probable.


Seahawks LB Wagner 'not planning to conserve energy'
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(5:32 pm ET) Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner plans on going full-bore upon his return to game action Sunday against Arizona. He has been out five games with a toe injury.

"I'm not planning to conserve energy," he told KJR-AM. "I'm planning to go out there and make as many plays as I possibly can."


Eight 49ers placed on Friday injury report
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(5:25 pm ET) Offensive tackle Anthony Davis (concussion) and defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey (forearm) have been red-lighted by the 49ers for their Sunday game against Washington.

Listed as questionable are cornerback Tramaine Brock (hamstring), wideout Bruce Ellington (ankle), linebacker Dan Skuta (ankle) and tight end Vance McDonald (hip).

The probables are linebacker Chris Borland (shoulder) and wide receiver Brandon Lloyd (quad).


Cardinals list seven players probable for Week 12
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(5:17 pm ET) The questionable status of wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (knee) headlines the injury report submitted by the Cardinals for their Sunday game against Seattle. Ed Stinson (toe) was the only player on the list ruled out for Week 12.

Meanwhile, the following players were deemed probable: Sam Acho (neck), Lorenzo Alexander (knee), Andre Ellington (foot, hip), Larry Foote (hip), Robert Hughes (hamstring), Rashad Johnson (back) and Dan Williams (elbow).


 
 
 
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