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Quick Fantasy Hits for Week 6

Senior Fantasy Writer
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As we wade into a sixth week of action, there are some nuggets that are too in-depth for the podcast, too smart for Twitter and a little too short for the full column. Enjoy these Week 6 Quick Hits:

Your byes for Week 6: Chicago, New Orleans, Carolina, Jacksonville. For fans of Cam Newton, this off week may be your last chance to pounce on him as a buy-low -- he's not helping his owners this week with no game and has caused many of them to throw their arms up in resignation already this season.

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Owners in deeper PPR leagues should take a look at Jordan Norwood. But take a cautious approach with this foot injury.
So far this year, Norwood has played in two games. He has 13 catches for 137 yards, but has been targeted 19 times. In Week 5 agianst the Giants, he caught all nine passes thrown his way. While he benefitted from the absence of Mohamed Massaquoi and Travis Benjamin, Norwood's situation is different than that of, say, Rueben Randle, who is enjoying playing time while Hakeem Nicks is out. Cleveland doesn't have an established receiver who will demand his job back. Massaquoi, who is the closest thing they have to a No. 1, will likely play over Norwood when he returns, but it's not like he's head and shoulders above him and won't lose time. Norwood's 19 targets over two games haven't produced a ton of yards (68.5), but they have given Weeden a reliable target that he had been lacking, in contrast to the high number of Greg Little drops.

Outside of just the Cleveland situation, Norwood has forced his way into a group of receivers who have been surrounded by hype, but haven't produced so far this year, especially in PPR leagues. His 19 targets are as many as Robert Meachem and more than Kenny Britt (18), Golden Tate (18), and Titus Young (16). Norwood isn't going to be the savior of any Fantasy teams, and probably won't even see a start in most WR2 slots for the entire season. But he does have some things going for him: he's catching passes, he's being targeted, he's playing on a team with a rookie quarterback who doesn't have pre-exisitng favorites, he's in an offense that likes to pass, and -- perhaps most importantly -- he's done his damage over a two-game period, which doesn't lend itself to free agent searching. If you search by targets, receptions, or yards, chances are Norwood will just fade into the background. But if you know enough to look for him specifically, based on what he's done the past two weeks, he becomes more attractive as bench depth and a possible flex start in bye weeks in deeper leagues.

The New Guys: Alex Green, James Starks, LaRod Stephens-Howling, and William Powell. There's no clear indication as to which will have the most Fantasy impact, but the Green Bay duo could at least offer some intrigue, as either Green or Starks could take the job and make it their own. While the same could be true for Arizona, their run game has been far less impressive, and they started the season somewhat content in letting Beanie Wells and Ryan Williams split the carries. So instead of wasting time on Arizona -- the short version: in PPR leagues, owners may want to consider LaRod Stephens-Howling -- we're going to focus on Green Bay. And the deeper one gets into researching the situation, the more tangled a web it becomes. The best way to go about it here, then, would be to employ a bastardization of the logic game used by Vizzini in The Princess Bride :

Alex Green versus James Starks
• Green got the carries after Cedric Benson went down with a foot injury in Week 5's loss to Indianapolis, rushing for 55 yards on nine attempts while Starks was inactive. So we can clearly not choose Starks.
• But 41 of Green's yards in Week 5 came from one fourth-quarter scamper. So we probably should not choose Green.
• Then again, while Green's eight other rushes were largely unimpressive, they may have been more circumstantial than a reflection of his skill. In other words, the Colts seemed in place to stop him -- it wasn't a matter of Green not necessarily looking good.
• Still, Starks started the first game of the preseason, a role usually reserved for the eventual starter on most teams. He then was slowed by a toe injury, which kept him out, at least ostensibly, for the first five games of the regular season.
• Yet it was Green who was on plenty of preseason sleeper lists for potential running back value, while Starks was largely ignored.
• But Starks has carried the load before, and his only 100-yard game came in the playoffs, on a very big stage under lots of pressure. Plus, Packers head coach Mike McCarthy also hinted that Green may have some shortcomings on the "protection" side of things.
• However, Starks missed the last eight possible games for the Packers, between the regular and preseason. And Green, while he didn't put up impressive stats until the end, did show some spark with his long run.
• And yet, Green Bay seemed to be happy enough with Starks that they didn't bring back Ryan Grant in the offseason.
So, clearly, the choice is ... Both! And then see who emerges. But that will never happen, outside of the most extreme waiver wire circumstances. While Green has been healthy and showed some spark against the Colts on his long run, Starks might be the better option. The Packers seem to like the veteran presence and Starks is a better protector, which could be a major factor for a team that has seen their star quarterback sacked 21 times already this season.

Trent Richardson may be a little underrated. Richardson has rushed for 303 yards over five games, scoring four touchdowns. But for all the running backs in the NFL with 300 or more rushing yards, only three of them have 20 or more passing targets. Richardson is one of them (303 yards, 28 targets), along with LeSean McCoy (437 yards, 24 targets) and Ray Rice (419 yards, 33 targets). While Darren Sproles leads all running backs with 28 receptions (on 39 targets), only Rice and Richardson have rushed for 300 yards or more and caught 20 or more passes. On top of all this, Richardson has five touchdowns to Rice's three, Sproles' two, and McCoy's two. Coach Pat Shurmur doesn't have a history of relying on the run -- he never ranked above 20th in rushing yards as OC of the Rams in 2009 or 2010, and was 21st in rushing attempts last year with the Browns. But he is utilizing Richardson in the passing game in a significant way. Keep in mind, this is a rookie running back who missed the entire preseason and was still shaking rust off in his first game, and now he's producing numbers at the level of two players who were top four picks in most Fantasy drafts. If you can pry Richardson loose from someone in your PPR league for, say, a DeMarco Murray-type, do it now. Richardson hasn't been fully embraced yet, but that window is slowly closing.

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Why is it OK to sell on DeMarco Murray in standard leagues? According to Pro Football Reference, Jason Garrett averaged 17th in the NFL in rushing yards when serving as the head coach and offensive coordinator for the Cowboys over the last two years. He landed at about sixth on the list for passing yards. Only once since 2007 did a team that Garrett coordinated or coached land in the top 15 of rushing yards (in 2007). Look at Murray's 2011: he rushed for 100 yards three times -- with a monster 253-yard game in a Week 7 blowout win against the Rams. But after a four-week run of awesomeness, which inclulded three wins of 10 points or more, in which Murray likely got more rushes than he would have in a closer game, he started to bottom out. Murray was on the way down before suffering a fractured ankle in Week 14, only averaging 66 yards on 19.7 carries over Weeks 11 through 13. Murray is in an offense that prefers to pass and his three big games somewhat obscured his three subpar games last year. He will have his 100-yard games, but he will also fall victim to the Cowboys looking to pass first more often than run. In short, Murray's reputation, at least in standard leagues, far exceeds his production. In 2012, he has one 100-yard rushing game and three sub-50 yard games. Granted, in PPR leagues, he still has value, as he is involved in the offense as a receiving back, but his receptions have wildly varied, with games of two, three, four, and seven receptions.

Murray has more trade value than he probably should have at this time, at least in standard leagues. If you're getting deals that seem close involving Murray, you might want to pull the trigger on it and let Murray be a rushing yards yo-yo for someone else's team

Fun with 100-yard games! So far this season, only 10 running backs have rushed for 100 yards more than once. Only two have done it three times, however: Arian Foster and Stevan Ridley. The rest of the repeaters:

Alfred Morris
C.J. Spiller
Frank Gore
Jamaal Charles
LeSean McCoy
Marshawn Lynch
Ray Rice
Willis McGahee

Digging deeper, just two teams have given up 100-yard games three times this season: Carolina (to Andre Brown, Michael Turner and Pierre Thomas) and Buffalo (the infamous Ridley/Brandon Bolden debacle and Frank Gore). While Buffalo has the third-worst run defense in the NFL, Carolina is just 10th-worst. Some other fun facts:
• New Orleans has given up the most rushing yards per game in the NFL this season, but the team has only allowed one back to run for 100 yards (Jamaal Charles).
• Of the top 10 rushing defenses, Tampa Bay (fourth-best) has allowed Alfred Morris to run for 100 yards in a game, New England (eighth) has allowed Ray Rice to gain 100 yards in a game and Houston (10th) has allowed Chris Johnson to rush for 100 yards. No team in the top 10 has allowed multiple 100-game rushers. You have to go all the way down to 16th -- the New York Giants -- to reach a team that has allowed two 100-yard rushers (DeMarco Murray and LeSean McCoy).
• Of the teams that have allowed multiple 100-yard rushers, the Panthers may have had the worst luck, allowing their 100-yard games to occur on an average of 14 carries. Just for comparisons' sake, Tennessee allowed their two 100-yard games on a 23.5 carry average, meaning that the Titans were worn down on the ground, while the Panthers allowed longs of 38, 41 and 27 yards in each of the three 100-yards-allowed games. This may not mean Carolina can improve its run defense, but it would seem the Panthers could make some tackles earlier on during rushing plays -- which is a somewhat fix-able problem. If that happens, they could see improvement in their run defense. Add it all up, and perhaps Carolina won't be as miserable against the run going forward as they have been over the first five games.

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
WR Andre Johnson: I didn't join Colts for revenge against Texans
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(4/18/2015) Perennial Pro Bowl wideout Andre Johnson insists that he did not sign as a free agent with the Colts with two matchups against his old Texans team in mind. He claims the move was because Indianapolis, led by quarterback Andrew Luck, gives him the best chance to win.

Johnson was surprisingly released by Houston, but revenge was not part of his game plan.

"(Leaving the Texans) hasn't even really set in," he told the Houston Chronicle. "I was just talking about that with someone (Thursday). Everybody thinks that I went to the Colts to try and get back at the Texans and stuff like that. That had nothing to do with it. I just went to the ... place where I felt was the best fit for me and where I can have a chance to win a championship.

"It wasn't about circling (game) dates or nothing against the Texans. I had 12 great years here. Been around some great people, built some great relationships, a lot of great friends. Houston's always going to be my home."

Johnson remained productive in 2014, but his yards-per-catch average declined to 11.0, its lowest since 2005.


Report: Jaguars restructure contract of Marcedes Lewis
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(4/18/2015) The Jaguars restructured the contract of tight end Marcedes Lewis, according to a report by Jacksonville.com.

Lewis did not receive an extension. This year will be the last year of his contract. The restructuring should reduce his cap number, which is currently $8.2 million. 


Jaguars sign Stefen Wisniewski
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(4/18/2015) The Jaguars announced the signing of free agent center Stefen Wisniewski on Saturday. 

Wisniewski reportedly signed a one-year contract for $2.5 million, per Jacksonville.com.

"We had the opportunity to spend time with Stefen earlier this month and remained in contact with him with the hopes of getting a deal done," GM David Caldwell said. "We are excited to get him on board before we officially start our offseason conditioning program next week. He gives us great position flexibility along our offensive line as he has started at both center and guard during his career. He has a familiarity with our offensive system and brings a lot of experience to our offensive line room."


49ers looking to extend Michael Wilhoite
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(4/17/2015) After the unexpected retirements of two linebackers, the 49ers are looking to lock up Michael Wilhoite to a contract extension. 

Wilhoite is an exclusive rights free agent, but GM Trent Baalke told the media he hopes to negotiate a long-term deal. 

"We’re working on something with him as we speak … He’s kind of in a unique situation. He was kind of caught in a numbers deal," Baalke said, per SFGate.com.


DeMeco Ryans likes improved Eagles' defense
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(4/17/2015) Eagles linebacker DeMeco Ryans likes the changes that the team has made to its defense in the offseason.

"We got better on the outside, which we struggled at last year,” Ryans said, per ESPN. “We had a lot of struggles there on the outside at the corner position, so I feel we've upgraded there with (Byron) Maxwell , a guy that you've seen make a lot of plays for the Seahawks. A guy like Kiko (Alonso), who his rookie year was a really outstanding player, up for defensive rookie of the year, a playmaker all over the field, and another guy in (Walter) Thurmond , who is expected to definitely push guys to be the starting corner on the other side. So I feel like we upgraded at a lot of positions, and I feel like it's really going to improve our defense."


Kubiak: Time for Broncos' backup Brock Osweiler to step up
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(4/17/2015) Broncos quarterback Brock Osweiler hasn't had much playing time, as Peyton Manning's backup, but coach Gary Kubiak wants to see progress from him.

"I think it's time for Brock to take a big step as a player," Kubiak said, per NFL.com. "A lot of times in this league, the young quarterbacks don't get the opportunity to be behind a player of Peyton's status and learn before they get the opportunity in this league ... I think Brock needs to take advantage of this. But he's going to be very competitive. I'm very impressed with his skills. I'm very impressed with how hard he works in the classroom. I know he's got all of the ability."


Kubiak: Broncos will run no-huddle with Peyton Manning
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(4/17/2015) Gary Kubiak said he plans to take advantage of future Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning when designing the Broncos' offense for next season. 

We'll definitely be running the hurry-up offense," Kubiak said per NFL.com. "Peyton's been the best at the business at it for many years, so that's a strength that we'll stay with."

That doesn't mean everything will be the same for Manning. Kubiak said he planned on having Manning under center more than in recent seasons. 


Steelers claim LS Brandon Hartson off waivers
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(4/17/2015) The Steelers announced on Friday that they claimed long snapper Brandon Hartson off of waivers. 

Hartson was waived by the Chiefs on Thursday. 


S Chris Banjo signs EFA tender with Packers
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(4/17/2015) Packers safety Chris Banjo signed his exclusive-rights tender on Friday, according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

The tender is good for one year and is worth $585,000 for the 2015 season. 


Trent Baalke praises 49ers LB Aldon Smith's offseason work ethic
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(4/17/2015) 49ers linebacker Aldon Smith has had plenty of off-field issues since entering the NFL.

After serving a nine-game suspension a year ago for violating the NFL's personal-conduct and substance-abuse policy, Smith returned and only tallied two sacks. 

The time off followed by sub-par performances has ignited Smith on the practice field thus far, according to general manager Trent Baalke. 

"He’s probably in as good a shape as he’s been in a long time," Baalke said, via the San Jose Mercury News. "He’s starting to develop into a leader out there, which is good to see and been a pleasure to watch."

Baalke knows that Smith has an uphill climb in repairing his image. But while Smith attempts to do so, Baalke wanted the San Francisco media to know that Smith is doing what he can to improve ont he playing field. 

“He’s got a great look in his eye,” Baalke said. “He’s doing well. I look forward to having you guys visit with him.”


 
 
 
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