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Quick Fantasy Hits for Week 9

Senior Fantasy Writer
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As we wade into a ninth 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 Fantasy Quick Hits for Week 9:

Your byes for Week 9: St. Louis, New England, N.Y. Jets, San Francisco.

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John Skelton is actually a good thing for Larry Fitzgerald. While the general consensus for Fantasy owners when John Skelton starts for the Cardinals is, essentially, a loud groan of resignation, there is actually statistical proof that when Skelton is the team's quarterback -- and not Kevin Kolb -- Larry Fitzgerald has better games.

Fitzgerald has played 14 games with Kolb as his quarterback and 17 games with Skelton. Because two of those games occurred with both Skelton and Kolb under center (Weeks 1 and 6 this season), we eliminated them. So there are 12 games of just Kolb and Fitzgerald and 15 games of just Skelton and Fitzgerald. The results:

Fitzgerald with Kolb: 12 games, 64 receptions, 932 yards, 77.7 yards per game, four touchdowns, 109 total Fantasy points, 9.1 Fantasy points per game.
Fitzgerald with Skelton: 15 games, 82 receptions, 1,243 yards, 82.7 yards per game, seven touchdowns, 153 total Fantasy points, 10.2 Fantasy points per game.
If you want to eliminate all outside factors and just take the stats from the last two years, when both Kolb and Skelton were playing for Arizona (Skelton started five games in 2010 when Kolb was still with Philadelphia), the numbers tilt even more in Skelton's favor, raising Fitzgerald's Fantasy points per game average to 10.8.

Interestingly enough, when Fitzgerald plays with both quarterbacks, he averages 10.5 Fantasy points per game.

While one Fantasy point per game isn't a huge difference, it's enough for Fantasy owners to not drop Fitzgerald's value down because of some misconception that Skelton is the lesser of the two quarterbacks. In fact, Fitzgerald has two games of 20-plus Fantasy points the last two years -- they're both with Skelton as his quarterback.

The Titans pass-catchers are maddening. Through eight games, the Tennessee Titans are 13th in the NFL in passing attempts and 16th in passing yards. But the yards are being spread around to four main pass-catchers, making none of them as valuable as they should be. In fact, the team's second-leading receiver, tight end Jared Cook, has reportedly asked for a trade because they aren't using him enough in the offense. The Titans' receiving yard leaders through eight games:

Nate Washington, 443 yards
Jared Cook, 373 yards
Kendall Wright, 351 yards
Kenny Britt, 209 yards

So far this season, Washington has had one week of 100-plus yards (112 in Week 3), Cook's high is 77 yards (also Week 3), Wright has had a high of 71 yards (Week 6) and Britt's topped out at 62 (Week 6). There is no discernible difference in the receivers' performance with Matt Hasselbeck as quarterback or Jake Locker.

Of the top three point-scoring performances this season, Washington (17 Fantasy points), Cook (13) and Britt (12) each have a spot. But Wright has four of the top 10. And the point leaders on a weekly basis for the group looks like this:

Week 1: Nate Washington, 11 points
Week 2: Kendall Wright, 8 points
Week 3: Nate Washington, 17 points
Week 4: Kendall Wright, 10 points
Week 5: Jared Cook, 9 points
Week 6: Kenny Britt, 12 points
Week 7: Nate Washington, 10 points
Week 8: Kendall Wright, 10 points

But, while Wright has the top score three times, he also had the lowest Fantasy point total of the group three times. Everyone, in fact, has had their turn as the lowest of that group. And the highest. They've averaged 5.9 points per week, with the median score being five points. No receiver has managed a 20 Fantasy point performance through eight games and they've scored fewer than five points more often than they've scored more than five. Of 30 possible weekly scores from the four players (Britt was suspended for Week 1 and missed Week 4 with an injury), they've combined to put up a shoulder-shrugging week of between 30 and 60 yards 17 times. Only once has anyone in the foursome hit triple-digits in receiving yards. It's a maddening dance with mediocrity.

So what does it all mean? Not that the Titans pass-catchers are all garbage -- any given week, one of them will step up and lead the team in Fantasy scoring. The problem is that there's no way to tell who is going to have the good game. If you got excited about Kendall Wright's Week 4 10-point performance and started him, you were then treated to weeks of five, six, and one point. And then he popped up with another 10 last week. The Titans receivers are erratic and their highs aren't worth the lows. Washington is owned in 79 percent of leagues but started in 24. Britt is 87/23. Wright is 60/14. Cook is 74/37. These look more like numbers for players who are coming off bye weeks than would-be starters for Fantasy teams. Halfway through the season, a top receiving threat has yet to emerge. And it may be time to start trimming the fat on these stalled breakouts in favor of players who can help your depth at other positions.

I will say this. Of all these options, I'd rather have Kenny Britt. He's been slowed by injury, has a nice rapport with Hasselbeck and is probably the most talented of these four players. Even though he has the ugliest stat line so far, he's the most likely to rise to the top in the second half of the season.

Kickers are hard to predict. But it doesn't mean some still aren't better than others. Last week, we looked at defenses and rated them using two factors: their average weekly scoring and their consistency on a weekly basis. Through the magic of mathematics, we came up with a single number and a list of 10 DSTs that offered both factors. In other words, a team like the Vikings had a high weekly average, but also served up a few weeks of single-digit scoring. They did not make the top 10 list. This week, we're going to apply the same method to kickers. Your top 10 Fantasy kickers:

1. Lawrence Tynes, NYG, 12.4 Fantasy points per game
2. Matt Bryant, ATL 11.3 FPPG
3. Stephen Gostkowski, NE, 11 FPPG
4. Jason Hanson, DET, 10.6 FPPG
5. Kai Forbath, WAS, 10.3 FPPG
6. Justin Tucker, BAL, 10.3 PFFG
7. Sebastian Janikowski, OAK, 10.1 FPPG
8. Shaun Suisham, PIT, 10.1 FPPG
9. Blair Walsh, MIN, 9.9 FPPG
10. Shayne Graham, HOU, 9.9 FPPG

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Taking the average fluctuation between scores on a weekly basis, we find that the most consistent kicker in Fantasy football -- as far as his point totals not straying too far from his previous week's scoring output -- is... Mike Nugent. Your top 10:

1. Mike Nugent, CIN, 1.7 Fantasy point fluctuation per week
2. Rian Lindell, BUF, 2.17
3. Dan Carpenter, MIA, 2.5
4. Kai Forbath, WAS, 2.6
5. Shayne Graham, HOU, 2.7
6. Shaun Suisham, PIT, 2.8
7. Garrett Hartley, NO, 3
8. Justin Tucker, BAL, 3.2
9. Stephen Gostkowski, NE, 3.3
10. David Akers, SF, 3.3

So now we take the Fantasy points per week, multiply it by two, just to give it a little more weight, and divide it by the fluctuation. This should give us an idea of who is scoring a good amount of points, and doing so on a consistent basis. In other words, these are kickers you can pick up, slide into your K slot, and not have to worry about (unless some kind of injury strikes). There's also no name for this stat, so I'm electing to measure it in units of "aizers" in honor of our cheery podcast host, Adam Aizer, who will likely stumble upon this article while googling his own name:

1. Mike Nugent, CIN, 13.7 aizers
2. Kai Forbath, WAS, 8 aizers
* 3. Shayne Graham, HOU, 7.4 aizers
4. Shaun Suisham, PIT, 7.2 aizers
5. Stephen Gostkowski, NE, 6.7 aizers
* 6. Justin Tucker, BAL, 6.5 aizers
7. Sebastian Janikowski, OAK, 6.1 aizers
8. Dan Carpenter, MIA, 5.7 aizers
9. David Akers, SF, 5.4 aizers
* 10. Robbie Gould, CHI, 5.2 aizers

[* - has not gone through bye week yet]

You may have noticed that some of the top scorers this season didn't make the final list. It's mainly because Tynes (fourth-highest on the fluctuation list), Bryant (eighth) and Hanson (sixth) had big swings in terms of point totals each week. While Nugent averages just eight points per week, you can depend on him to float between about seven and nine points. Tynes has scored as many as 20 and as few as five. This isn't a list for home run hitters -- it's a list of kickers you can plug into your lineup and not have to worry about. While it's tough to make a case for Nugent as a high-scoring option in the kicker slot -- he's in the middle of the pack as far as scoring -- he is consistent to the point where I tried to use a number of different factors to manipulate him out of the top spot, and he wouldn't budge. So there you have it. Mike Nugent. Possible savior of your Fantasy kicking conundrum.

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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