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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
Report: Patriots DE Chandler Jones out at least six weeks
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1:44 pm ET) Patriots defense end Chandler Jones (hip) will miss at least six weeks of action, and the team fears he could be sidelined for the rest of the regular season, the Boston Herald reports.

Jones suffered the hip injury during Week 7 and initial reports put him out for about a month. It appears his best-case scenario is now a return in Week 13, with the possibility he could need another month to recover. Jones has recorded a team-high 4.5 sacks.


49ers re-sign Raymond Ventrone
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1:17 pm ET) The 49ers re-signed safety Raymond Ventrone Saturday. He was waived earlier in the week upon the addition of quarterback Josh Johnson to the active roster.

49ers place Chris Cook, Daniel Kilgore on IR
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1:15 pm ET) The 49ers have placed cornerback Chris Cook (hamstring) and Daniel Kilgore (ankle) on injured reserve.

Cook recorded five tackles and one pass defensed while plaing both defense and special teams. Kilgore started each of the team's first seven games before suffering a broken ankle.


Browns activate Nick McDonald, waive Gerell Robinson
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1:11 pm ET) The Browns activated offensive lineman Nick McDonald from the reserve/NFI list Saturday and waived tight end Gerell Robinson.

McDonald began the season on the reserved list after suffering a broken wrist during the rummer. He received practice time with the starters this week at center and could be in line to man the center of the offensive line this Sunday against the Raiders.


Cardinals sign Solomon Patton to practice squad, waive Jalen Sauders
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1:05 pm ET) The Cardinals signed wide receiver Solomon Patton to the practice squad Saturday, waiving wide receiver Jalen Saunders in a corresponding move. Patton served as the Buccaneers' primary return man over the team's first six games.

Report: Buccaneers, Gerald McCoy agree to seven-year extension
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1:00 pm ET) The Buccaneers and defensive tackle Gerald McCoy have agreed to a seven-year extension, FOXSports.com reports. The deal is worth $98 million with $51.5 million guaranteed, per NFL.com.

McCoy recorded a career-high 9.5 sacks and 50 total tackles in 2013 while being named a first-team All-Pro by the Associated Press. He has managed two sacks this season while battling injuries that have limited him to four games.


Garrett: Cowboys DE DeMarcus Lawrence should return Week 9
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12:06 pm ET) Cowboys coach Jason Garrett indicated Saturday that defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence should be activated for the team's Week 9 matchup with the Cardinals, ESPNDallas.com reports.

Week 9 is the earliest Lawrence is eligible to be activated off the short-term IR. Recovering from a foot fracture suffered in late July, the rookie defender returned to practice last week.


Jaguars waive Tavarres King, sign Peyton Thompson
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(11:53 am ET) The Jaguars waived wide receiver Tavarres King Saturday and signed cornerback Peyton Thompson , the Florida Times-Union reports. The cornerback depth was necessary with Dwayne Gratz (hip) listed as questionable to play.

Titans RB Shonn Greene faces multiple driving charges
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(11:48 am ET) Titans running back Shonn Greene was arrested Friday night on multiple charges, including a resisting stop charge related to his leaving the scene of an incident in Franklin, Tenn., the Tennessean reports.

Greene was charged with a handicap parking violation, driving on a revoked/suspended license, reckless driving and resisting stop/halt/frisk. According to the report, he parked in a handicap parking space and upon being approached by an officer, got back into his car and maneuvered around the officer's vehicle before speeding off. According to the police, he was approached later when police caught up in traffic and sped off again. Greene later turned himself in after learning there were warrants for his arrest.

Greene was listed as probable to play Sunday due to a hamstring injury, but there's no indication as of yet to how the parking incident will affect his availability.


Lions LB Josh Bynes added to Week 8 inury report
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(11:14 am ET) Lions linebacker Josh Bynes is probable to play in London Sunday after being added to the Week 8 injury report Saturday. Bynes is dealing with a teeth issue.

 
 
 
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