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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
Report: Vikings' Adrian Peterson won't attend OTAs on Tuesday
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(5/24/2015) Vikings running back Adrian Peterson is reportedly set to skip organized team activities on Tuesday, according to the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

Peterson is frustrated with management in Minnesota for not showing him support through his legal case for child abuse. Peterson has not participated in any offseason activities so far, but skipping Tuesday's workout will cost him $250,000 in bonuses if he does not attend 90 percent of OTAs and minicamps.

Peterson has three years, $44.25 million left on his contract with Minnesota.


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(5/24/2015) After a couple of injury-plagued seasons, Cardinals safety Tyrann Mathieu enters training camp almost completely healthy, without a brace on his knee or cast on his thumb, per NFL.com. 

The Cardinals will need a healthy Mathieu to offseason the loss of former defensive coordinator Todd Bowles and cornerback Antonio Cromartie. In two seasons, Mathieu has 100 tackles and three interceptions but has been hampered by nagging injuries. 

"It just feels good to be free," he said. 


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(5/23/2015) Giants second-year cornerback Bennett Jackson is spending the offseason transitioning to safety. 

"At the end of the day, I’m a DB,’" Jackson said, per the New York Post. "I think my strengths are cover skills, I got good speed and I got good ball skills. The thing it’s gonna take for me to get out there and make an impact is, I just got to learn the defense and really just communicate the calls fluently."

"It is all in front of him," coach Tom Coughlin said. "We think he can cover. He has done a good job of getting us lined up and then we will see how he plays."


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by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(5/23/2015) Texans coach Bill O'Brien has been impressed with the work defensive end Jadeveon Clowney has put in to recover from microfracture surgery in his knee. 

"I've been impressed with the way JD's been working," O'Brien said, per HoustonTexans.com. "He's been out there. He's in early. He's rehabbing. But he's also being able to take part in some of the things that we do in the weight room. He's not able to do all of the things that we do on the field just yet, because of his rehab. But he's on the right track."


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(5/23/2015) Bengals quarterback AJ McCarron has recovered from the shoulder soreness that bothered him for most of his rookie year. 

McCarron is now throwing deep again. "I feel great," McCarron said, per the Cincinnati Enquirer. "Body feels great and I feel like I'm slinging it better than I ever have, really."


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(5/23/2015) Falcons linebacker Brooks Reed suffered a groin injury during the recently-completed voluntary minicamp, per ESPN.

The injury was termed "minor", but it still might keep Reed from full participation in the Falcons' upcoming OTAs, which start Tuesday. 


GM: EJ Manuel on 'equal footing' with Bills' other QBs
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(5/23/2015) Bills general manager Doug Whaley denied reports that the team is moving on from quarterback EJ Manuel

The team acquired Matt Cassel and Tyrod Taylor in the offseason.

In an interview with Jim Rome, Whaley said, "I look at it this way, in this business controversy sells,. The more controversy that you can drum up then the more intereste people are going to be."

"For us we’re excited about the future of all three of those guys," Whaley said. "It’s going to be a great competition. And we can keep three quarterbacks. So I dismiss that as just someone trying to get something stirred during this down time and lack of media stories for the NFL." 

Whaley said all three quarterbacks have an equal shot of winning the starting job. 

"I look for him to come in and compete and try to take the job," he said. "Everybody has got an equal footing. It’s a clean slate for all four of our quarterbacks. We’re not tied to anybody. We just want the best man to start."


Bengals' Vontaze Burfict may start year on PUP
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(5/23/2015) Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict's rehab may not be progressing as quickly as the team had hoped.

Burfict had microfracture knee surgery and initial post-surgery reports said that he could be recovered by the start of training camp. 

This week, the team's website said that Burfict's status was "up in the air" and that a return by the start of the season would be a "tight call".

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So far, so good for Texans rookie CB Kevin Johnson
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(5/23/2015) First impressions aren't necessarily important for first-round picks in the NFL. They are far more critical to lower selections and undrafted free agents who desperately need to raise a few eyebrows immediately lest they be back out looking for work.

But whether necessary or not, Texans first-rounder Kevin Johnson is making one heck of a first impression on Bill O'Brien. The clornerback opened some eyes at minicamp.

"This is a guy that's a very quick guy," O'Brien said. "He's a tall guy. He's a guy that has really good transition ability. He's got what I call really good recover transition. If he's getting beat, he can stick his foot in the ground and really make up a lot of ground.

"He's a very bright player. If you ask him questions in the morning meeting, he really has obviously studied the night before. He's working out on his own and doing things to help stay up on material that's being installed."

Johnson believes he needs to do the little things right to make a big impact in his rookie year.

"From the training room to the classroom to the film study, everything is just more detailed," he told the team website. "I'm just trying to take it all in and use everything around here and just get better."


Bears CB Tim Jennings could transition into slot role
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(5/23/2015) Bears cornerback Tim Jennings is "still trying to figure out" where he will fit into the secondary this season, the Chicago Tribune is reporting.

The nine-year veteran, who is entering his sixth season in the Windy City, has 95 career starts and led the league in interceptions in 2012. He is even a two-time Pro Bowler. But he spent significant time as the slot corner in minicamp. That's an unsatisfying role for him that he just might be forced to embrace.

Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio prefers his outside corners tall and physical. Jennings is 5-8, 185 pounds. He might still earn an outside role opposite Kyle Fuller, but do achieve that goal he must at the very least outperform free agent pickup Alan Ball, who better fits the ideal description.

If the words of new coach John Fox are any indication, that's unlikely to happen.

"Dimension-wise, he's built like a nickel corner," Fox said. "He's played it before."

Jennings has started all but three games over the last seven years.


 
 
 
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