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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
Ravens' Victor Hampton arrested for DWI
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(4:57 pm ET) Ravens defensive back Victor Hampton was arrested for DWI, in Charlotte, Saturday night, according to WSOC TV

Hampton was pulled over after going 100 mph in a 55-mph zone. He faces DWI, speeding, reckless driving and open container charges. Passengers in the car were arrested on marijuana and concealed weapons charges. 

Hampton was on the Bengals offseason roster and Giants practice squad last year. He signed with the Ravens in January. 


Report: Raiders to release LaMarr Woodley
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(3:02 pm ET) The Raiders will release DE LaMarr Woodley this week, according to a report by CSN Bay Area's Fallon Smith, citing an NFL source.

Woodley is entering the second year of a two-year contract. He's scheduled to make $3.85 million with a salary cap hit of $5.1875 million.  


Chiefs' De'Anthony Thomas working on being a receiver this offseason
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(3:00 pm ET) De'Anthony Thomas was drafted out of Oregon by the Chiefs as a running back. Though he worked in a hybrid role as a rookie, he was listed by Kansas City as a running back. 

That could change in 2015.

According to the Kansas City Star, Thomas said he's worked this offseason on becoming more of a complete receiver.

“Yes, I have the ability to run the whole [route] tree,” Thomas said. “That’s what I’ve been working on this offseason. I’m running all those routes in the sand [during beach workouts]. And once the time comes to come on the grass, I feel like it’s going to be a lot easier because I’ve prepared myself.”

Thomas ran for 113 yards and totaled 156 receiving yards in a reserve role. He made a big impact in the return game, combinging for 833 punt and kickoff return yards with a touchdown. 
With Thomas transitioning into being more of a receiver first, he's modeling him game after Steelers wideout Antonio Brown. Both are shorter targets, making the comparison fitting for Thomas. Thomas is listed at 5-feet-8, 176 pounds and Brown is 5-feet-10, 186 pounds. 
Brown had a career season in 2014, totaling 1,698 yards and 13 touchdowns. 

“I’m very impressed with Antonio Brown,” Thomas said. “He’s a great player, and I feel like I have the same ability to make the same plays like him and help the team and be that [kind of impact] player.”



 


Report: Dolphins eyeing CBs Brandon Flowers, Kareem Jackson
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(2:39 pm ET) Looking to upgrade at cornerback, the Dolphins are interested in bringing on Brandon Flowers or Kareem Jackson during free agency, according to a report from the Miami Herald

The Dolphins don't appear sold on cornerback Cortland Finnegan for future seasons with the organization discussing alternative options. 

In 2014, Flowers totaled 52 tackles and three interceptions after signing a one-year deal with the Chargers. Jackson recorded 57 tackles and three interceptions in his fifth season for the Texans. 


Report: Vincent Jackson to return to Buccaneers at full salary
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(2:23 pm ET) WR Vincent Jackson will return to the Buccaneers next season, at full salary, according to a report by Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times

Jackson had been considered a target for a lower salary, to help improve the Bucs' salary cap situation. He'd previously said that he wanted to stay with the team but didn't want a pay cut. 

Jackson will be paid $9.777 million in 2015, with a cap hit of $12 million. 


Report: Todd Herremans has no plans to retire
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(2:23 pm ET) Former Eagles offensive lineman Todd Herremans is looking to continue his NFL career in 2015, according to a report from Pro Football Talk

Herremans was cut by the Eagles on Friday. The Eagles are set to save $2.8 million against the salary cap. 

Herremans was a fourth-round pick in the 2005 NFL draft and spent his entire career up to this point with Philadelphia. 


Stephen Tulloch unsure of future with Lions
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(1:00 pm ET) Lions LB Stephen Tulloch isn't sure whether he'll be back with the team next season. 

Tulloch is scheduled to make $4.8 million in 2015, and the Lions could save $3.2 million against the cap by releasing him. 

So far, this offsesason, the team has not communicated its plans to Tulloch. ""I haven't heard anything about what's going on, my agent hasn't heard anything," Tulloch told Sirius XM radio. "We're just preparing to report, April 20th, accordingly to the mail we've received for the offseason program. It's out of my control.

Tulloch has recovered from the ACL tear that ended his season three weeks in. "I'm way ahead of schedule and I feel great," Tulloch said. "I was telling a friend of mine yesterday, it's crazy how you feel stronger than you did previously, before the surgery." 


Jonas Gray hopes to return to Patriots' plans
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(12:44 pm ET) Jonas Gray burst on the scene for the Patriots last season, rushing for 201 yards and four touchdowns in a Sunday night game. Just as quickly, he was gone. 

Gray overslept and was late for practice, and coach Bill Belichick didn't give him another chance to showcase his skills. Gray was inactive for the Super Bowl. 

Gray learned his lesson. "The tough part for me was to watch it, and not participate in a matter I thought I should," he told Dan Hanzus of NFL.com. "But it's motivation going into the offseason. I just know I need to work harder, so I'll never get myself in that position again." 

Still on the Patriots, Gray believes he'll get a clean slate next season, and he's spending the offseason preparing himself for the opportunity. 

I tell them, I'm going to have a Jerry Rice/Walter Payton mentality where whatever you do isn't enough," Gray said. "I'm going to have a work ethic where I know, in my heart of hearts, I'm going to outwork everybody. That's what I hope to achieve


Ravens' Justin Forsett wants to build on 2014
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(12:27 pm ET) Ravens RB Justin Forsett rushed for 1,266 yards and eight touchdowns, nearly matching his career totals for his six previous seasons in the NFL. 

Forsett is scheduled to be a free agent on March 10, but he hopes to remain with the Ravens, saying he's "praying that everything works out." 

“I want to build upon it,” Forsett told the Baltimore Sun. “I want to be great. I didn’t come in this league to be a one-year wonder."


Lions' Stephen Tulloch progressing from ACL surgery
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(11:00 am ET) Lions linebacker Stephen Tulloch said he is ahead of schedule in his recovery from ACL surgery, reports FOXSports.com.

Tulloch said he was way ahead of schedule and feeling stronger since undergoing the surgery. Tulloch tore his ACL during a post-play celebration in September.


 
 
 
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