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Quick Fantasy Hits for Week 1

Senior Fantasy Writer
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As we wade into Week 1 action, there are some nuggets that are too in-depth for the show, too smart for Twitter and a little too short for the full column. Enjoy these Week 1 Quick Hits ...

Beware the subtle secondary genius of Chuck Pagano. Between stints at the University of Miami and the Browns, Pagano built up secondaries that led the NFL in interceptions (2001) and tied franchise records for fewest passing TDs allowed (13, in 2003). The Colts face the Bears in Week 1, so at least consider the fact that, while Rome wasn't built in a day -- Indianapolis finished in the middle of the NFL in terms of passing yards and passing TDs allowed last year while finishing last in interceptions. Jay Cutler might have a little more trouble than his owners might be expecting against Pagano and his Colts pass defense.

Braylon Edwards is not getting the respect he deserves. He hasn't had the most electrifying career (just one season of 1,000-plus yards), and he was a huge mess in 2011 with the 49ers (15 receptions for 181 yards in an injury-ravaged campaign), but Edwards, just 29, is in position to produce some decent numbers. The factors:

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1. While he only has one 1,000-plus yard season, he has four with 870 or more yards. And he did this with these quarterbacks: Derek Anderson, Charlie Frye, Trent Dilfer, Mark Sanchez and Alex Smith. So having Russell Wilson, the rookie, behind center, isn't as daunting a factor.
2. Edwards had 16 touchdowns in 2007. We tend to forget that Browns breakout year, probably because the Jets one is fresher in our memories.
3. You don't have to go too far back in Seattle's history to see a big, former first round draft pick, thought-to-be-washed-up receiver have a nice season. Mike Williams, who is just two inches taller and 18 pounds heavier than Edwards, came out of nowhere in 2010 to put up 751 receiving yards on 65 receptions.
4. Edwards isn't as buried on the depth charts as it may look. He's currently listed as the third wide receiver. But Sidney Rice is coming back from two shoulder surgeries and Golden Tate perennially disappoints, with just 609 total yards in 27 games over two seasons. Edwards has a real chance to make an impact with this figurative door slightly ajar.

This isn't to say that Edwards is going to have a 1,200-yard season with 10 touchdowns (although that's not totally out of the question). But his ADP is 175.62, and he's owned in just 10 percent of CBSSports.com leagues, making him a decent speculative pick for owners who have room on the end of their bench for a very deep sleeper.

Don't wholly discount Rashard Mendenhall for the season. Yes, it stinks that you have to just sit him on your bench for probably the first few weeks, but there are some factors that point to him possibly contributing this year, outside of the recent buzz and rumors that he might play in Week 1 (which is highly unlikely). First, Pittsburgh didn't put him on the PUP list, which would have had him out until Week 7. One would think that the Steelers wouldn't have done this unless they believed he could contribute before that point, as Mendenhall is now taking up a roster spot that could have otherwise gone to someone else, had he been placed on the regular season PUP list. And, second, the man who is serving as Mendenhall's replacement, Isaac Redman, has a hip problem that will likely bother him all year, as well as minor ankle and groin issues.

That being said, Jonathan Dwyer could be a huge Fantasy sleeper in Week 1 ... and possibly beyond. Dwyer had a stellar preseason, but he also had a stellar 2011 preseason (fifth overall in rushing last year) and did nothing with it. Still, here's a fun fact: Willie Parker had 186 rushing yards in eight career games before his breakout 2005 campaign. Dwyer currently has 151 rushing yards in ... eight career games. Parker ran 47 times for 272 yards in Weeks 1 and 2 -- with two touchdowns -- back in 2005, in Jerome Bettis' absence. When Bettis came back, he became one of the game's earliest (and best) touchdown vultures, letting Parker do all the rushing while he came in and scored the TDs. Dwyer is listed at 5'11" and 229 pounds, Parker is 5'10" 212. While Mendenhall isn't nearly as physically large as Bettis, he could slide into a supplemental TD-scoring role as he's eased back into games, with Dwyer playing the role of Parker.

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Bill Belichick runs more than you think he does. Belichick got a reputation -- probably through the high-output exploits of Tom Brady -- of being a pass-happy coach who produced a bunch of worthless Fantasy running backs. But this isn't exactly the case. According to stats culled from Pro Football Reference, New England has been in the top 10 in rushing attempts five separate times since 2006. And they've been in the top five in rushing TDs in five of the last six years.

Pat Shurmur, however, likes to pass, and this could benefit Brandon Weeden and nobody else. If you're looking for some kind of hope from the Cleveland passing game, it's this: last year, the Browns were 11th in passing attempts. And when Shurmur served as the offensive coordinator for the Rams -- in 2009 and 2010 -- his teams never finished in the top 24 in rushing yards. But St. Louis finished 16th in passing attempts in 2009 and fifth in passing attempts in 2010 with a receiving corps led by Danny Amendola, Brandon Gibson and Daniel Fells. One could argue that Shurmur's unheralded group in St. Louis is somewhat comparable to the one he has in Cleveland. And while none of the receivers there went over 689 yards (Amendola) or three TDs (Amendola), Sam Bradford, a rookie, passed for 3,512 yards and 18 touchdowns. These numbers are right in line with what we have projected for Weeden this season.

Speaking of the Browns -- get to know wide receiver Josh Gordon. The Browns used a second round supplemental pick on the former Baylor wide receiver, who has a ton of talent but hasn't played on an organized team since 2010, when he was suspended for failing drug tests. But Gordon is part of a receiving corps that only saw two players get over 500 yards receiving last year. The Browns are just two seasons removed from having their tight end, Benjamin Watson, lead the team in receiving yardage. If opposing teams focus on Greg Little, Mohamed Massaquoi and Watson, it could free up Gordon to do some serious damage. He's definitely in the right situation and has the opportunity and talent, it just remains to be seen if he can master the playbook and catch on quickly enough. If he does, he could very well lead the Browns in receiving in 2012.

Don't be surprised when Steve Johnson blows up this year. Johnson ends the Fantasy draft season with an ADP of 66.73, slotting him 24th among wide receivers. He sits behind the duo from Philadelphia, as well as two from Denver and two from the Giants. Here's my problem with some of this: Johnson is coming off two straight 1,000-plus yard seasons (1,073 over 13 starts in 2010, and 1,004 in 16 starts in 2011), with 17 total touchdowns over those two years. In 2011, he battled groin and shoulder problems, which deflated some of his mid-season value. But hold Johnson against a few of the receivers going ahead of him, and some of the ADP data seems skewed:
Jeremy Maclin: zero 1,000-plus yard seasons (although a case can be made that a healthy Maclin might have reached that benchmark in 2011, when he had 859 yards in 13 games).
Eric Decker: 718 total receiving yards over 13 career starts (with the argument being that Peyton Manning will likely lift his value).
Percy Harvin: zero 1,000-plus receiving yard seasons in three seasons. He has never gone past six touchdowns in one season.

It's not that Johnson is insanely better than any of those players, but any argument for one of them could be canceled out by simply pointing at Johnson's numbers over the last two seasons. Mix in a third straight year with the same quarterback and the same coaching system in place, and Johnson seems set up to have a bigger season than many owners are anticipating.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us on Twitter @CBSFantasyFB or Nando Di Fino at @NandoCBS . You can also send our staff an e-mail at fantasyfootball@cbsinteractive.com .

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Player News
Seahawks RB Robert Turbin to fill fullback role
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12:33 am ET) Seahawks running back Robert Turbin will continue to serve as the team's fullback after starting fullback Derrick Coleman broke a bone just before kickoff in Week 7, Pro Football Talk reports.

"I just want to win," Turbin said about his new role. "I want to help the team as much as I can. I’m a team guy. If they need me to take on the role for the next few weeks or whatever the case may be, than sure."

Seattle reportedly brought in free-agent fullback Greg Jones for a workout Tuesday but decided to roll with Turbin in the role. However, the team could choose to run fewer two-back formations while Coleman is out.


Report: Dolphins DE Dion Jordan expected to play vs. Jaguars
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12:11 am ET) Dolphins defensive end Dion Jordan is expected to play in Sunday's game against the Jaguars, the Palm Beach Post reports.

Jordan is coming off a six-game suspension caused by two failed drug tests. The former No. 3 overall pick may be relegated to special-teams duty in the Week 8 matchup, as the Dolphins boast a quality defensive line and may not have snaps to give Jordan on defense in the near future.


Report: Titans plan to start QB Zach Mettenberger vs. Texans
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(10/22/2014) The Titans are planning to start rookie quarterback Zach Mettenberger against the Texans Sunday, The Tennessean reports.

Coach Ken Whisenhunt said Monday that the plan was to have Jake Locker (thumb) regain the starting job when healthy, and the former first-round pick was limited in practice Wednesday. If Mettenberger has already been notified that he'll start, as the report suggests, it could mean Whisenhunt has changed his mind on Locker, who is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent after the season.

Locker has completed 58 percent of his passes while averaging 6.8 yards per attempt and throwing four touchdowns and four interceptions in four starts. Backup Charlie Whitehurst has also played four games while starting three times, completing 60.2 percent of his passes while averaging 7.8 yards per attempt and throwing five touchdowns and two interceptions.


Cardinals QB Carson Palmer over nerve problem
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(10/22/2014) Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer said Wednesday that he is no longer dealing with a nerve problem in his right shoulder, the Arizona Republic reports.

"Yeah, I'm there right now," Palmer said. "I'm actually able to lift with my upper body, which I wasn't able to lift for five weeks or whatever it was. I definitely had a lot of atrophy, so I'm starting to get some strength back and put a little extra weight up top, which is good. You get sick of going into the weight room and not being able to do things. There was a month of that and it's good to be able to get back in there and do something."

Palmer missed three games earlier in the season but has performed well in the two games since returning, completing 66.7 percent of his passes for 503 yards with four touchdowns and one interception.


Report: Broncos practice squad S John Boyett arrested
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(10/22/2014) Broncos practice squad safety John Boyett was arrested early Wednesday on a charge of third degree assault, the Denver Post reports.

"We are disappointed to learn of the matter involving John Boyett and are in the process of gathering more information," the Broncos told the Post.

Boyett was arrested on charges of disorderly public intoxication on Sept. 2 of last year and waived by the Colts the next day. He signed with the Broncos last November.


Report: Texans' Brian Cushing (knee) out at least one week
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(10/22/2014) Texans linebacker Brian Cushing will miss at least one week of action due to a knee injury, Pro Football Talk reports.

The knee has reportedly been bothering Cushing for the last two weeks, and he has had the troublesome knee drained a few times recently. The Texans have just two games left before the bye, so it's possible Cushing is held out through the team's Week 11 bye before returning in Week 12.


Report: Titans WR Nate Washington could be on trade block
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(10/22/2014) Titans wide receiver Nate Washington has drawn some trade interest recently and could be on the trade block, NFL.com reports.

Washington recently lost his starting job to Justin Hunter and is making $4.8 million in the final year of a six-year contract signed in March 2009. He has tallied 13 receptions for 169 yards in seven games.


Report: Judge forces Roger Goodell to testify at Ray Rice hearing
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(10/22/2014) NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is being forced to testify at the hearing for former Ravens running back Ray Rice by a judge's ruling, ESPN.com reports.

Rice's hearing is set for the first week of November. He is appealing the decision to suspend him indefinitely for the domestic violence incident that initially earned him a two-game suspension during the league's inital investigation.


Report: Torn bicep could end Raiders LB LaMarr Woodley's season
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(10/22/2014) Raiders linebacker LaMarr Woodley suffered a torn bicep in Sunday's game, NFL.com reports.

The injury is expected to cost Woodley the remainder of the season, according to the report. Head coach Tony Sparano said Wednesday that the injury "could be serious," and a tear is a worst-case scenario for the linebacker.


Report: Raiders TE David Ausberry dealing with foot injury
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(10/22/2014) Raiders tight end David Ausberry has a foot injury that could cost him significant time, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

Ausberry played just one snap on offense in Week 7, but he was spotted heading to the locker room with a trainer during the game. He has caught two passes for 14 yards this season.


 
 
 
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