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Quick Fantasy Hits for Week 10

Senior Fantasy Writer
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As we wade into a 10th 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 Quick Fantasy Hits for Week 10:

Your byes for Week 10: Cleveland, Green Bay, Arizona, Washington

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Fun with Thursday night numbers! These Thursday night games have been buzz-kills for Fantasy owners on a few levels: they require us to make decisions three days before the bulk of games are played, if we aren't paying attention, we may forget to put our stud back in the lineup, and the games themselves have lacked a good deal of offensive punch. It's actually the third factor that has been the most annoying to Fantasy owners. So I dug through the stats from this season's Thursday night games, from Week 2 to Week 9 (I eliminated Week 1 because it's an anomaly -- no short rest worries, it was technically a Wednesday game, and it kicked off the season), to see if there was really a big difference in the offensive outputs. Here are some of the highlights:

1. Only five running backs over eight Thursday night games have rushed for over 100 yards. And of those five, four did it in the last three weeks (Frank Gore and Marshawn Lynch in Week 7 and Adrian Peterson and Doug Martin in Week 8). In other words, while they started off lackluster, the running backs are improving their performances in the Thursday night contests.

2. Only three players have gone over 100 yards in receiving. And if you look at the top 10, there is just one player who had a game in the last three weeks in the group: Percy Harvin, who caught seven passes for 90 yards in Week 8. So the receivers are going in the opposite direction of the running backs.

3. Of the 16 starting quarterbacks who have played, only three have thrown for 300 yards. They are Ben Roethlisberger, Joe Flacco, and Brandon Weeden.

4. Quarterbacks have thrown more interceptions than touchdowns. Average it all out, and quarterbacks have thrown an average of 238 yards with 0.94 touchdowns and 1.13 interceptions. They've also been sacked an average of 2.8 times.

5. Five quarterbacks have failed to throw for a touchdown. They are Brandon Weeden, Kevin Kolb, Cam Netwon, Matt Cassel, and Russell Wilson. Only three quarterbacks, however, have not been intercepted: Kolb, Eli Manning, and Josh Freeman.

5a. A look at Thursday quarterback scoring: The top 25 quarterbacks in Fantasy so far this year have combined to average 19 Fantasy points per game. On Thursdays, however, quarterbacks have averaged just 13.4 Fantasy points per game. Their touchdown to interception ratio is far higher overall (64/36 TD/INT ratio overall; 45/55 TD/INT on Thursday night), and quarterbacks generally throw for fewer yards on Thursday night.

6. There have been just nine rushing touchdowns in these eight games. And only five have been scored by starting running backs: Doug Martin, Adrian Peterson, Andre Brown (Week 3), and Trent Richardson. The rest came from quarterbacks and backups.

7. Of the 62 players who have gotten a carry, nine have scored double-digit Fantasy points. For the season, 18 running backs are averaging double-digit scoring per game. If you consider the eight Thursday games we're looking at as essentially half of a week (of 16 games), it's right in line with the season averages.

8. There have been 16 receiving touchdowns. Eight have been caught by wide receivers, one by a running back, one by a fullback, and six by tight ends. This ratio is way off. On the season, there have been 392 receiving touchdowns hauled in by wide receivers (260 TDs), tight ends (101), and running backs (31). The percentages look like this:

Percentage of touchdowns caught (overall):

Wide receivers: 66 percent
Tight Ends: 26 percent
Running backs: Eight percent

...but on Thursday night, the percentages look like this:

Percentage of touchdowns caught (Thursday night):

Wide receivers: 50 percent
Tight Ends: 38 percent
Running backs: 12 percent

So this is what we can cull from all this data:

a. Quarterbacks throw fewer touchdowns, get intercepted at a higher rate, and don't score as many Fantasy points on Thursday night

b. Running backs remain essentially the same, as far as Fantasy value produced.

c. Wide receivers are getting shorted with the touchdown distribution. If you're looking for a touchdown from your wideout, you may want to keep your Sunday players in and ditch the Thursday ones.

d. Tight ends are looked to in the end zone far more often on Thursday than they are the rest of the week. So, for Week 10, Dwayne Allen owners may want to consider slotting him in the lineup over a similarly-valued tight end.

A brief defense of Taiwan Jones. Jones is in the mix for the lead job in Oakland, with his only competition being Marcel Reece. But Reece is more of a Ronnie Brown-style pass-catcher than a traditional running back. And Fantasy football's history is littered with players -- running backs, especially -- who came out of nowhere to capture a running back job and be a tremendous source of value the rest of the season. Just for a recent example, look at last year and DeMarco Murray. Granted, Murray had some stats over the first six weeks before taking over for an injured Felix Jones (Taiwan Jones has one carry for no yards this season, as he had been battling rib and knee injuries), but Jones is now in a role where he can succeed.

The argument against Jones is two-fold: Marcel Reece complicates his value, and the Raiders never run the ball. The Reece argument is defeated by his usage so far. But then there's the fact that the Raiders are a pass-heavy team. This is true; so far this year, the Raiders are fourth in the league in passing attempts and 30th in rushing attempts. But don't dismiss the Raiders as a team that will never run the ball. Offensive coordinator Greg Knapp has a history of running -- in fact, he had a string of years in the top five of rushing attempts. According to Pro Football Reference, Knapp -- who has served as offensive coordinator for the 49ers (2001-2003), Falcons (2005-2006), Raiders (2007-8, 2012), and Seahawks (2009), has a much longer history of running the ball than he does passing. To be fair to this situation, we'll eliminate his years as OC for the Falcons, as having Michael Vick as the starting quarterback made rushing the ball easy an easy choice (Knapp's offenses finished in the top five of rushing attempts for the three years he was there). But in 2001-2003 with the 49ers, the offense finished second, fifth, and sixth in rushing attempts. And in 2007 and 2008 in his first go-round with the Raiders, the team finished fourth and 10th.

In his first two years with the 49ers, Knapp had a revitalized Garrison Hearst as his starter, but in 2003, relative unknown Kevan Barlow ran for 1,024 yards and six touchdowns. This was his 24-year old season; Jones is 24 this year. Knapp also turned Justin Fargas in to a 1,000-yard rusher in 2007. He does good rushing work with little-known backs. And Jones, a fourth-round pick out of Eastern Washington, fits this bill. Knapp has followed his history in making Brandon Myers a valuable asset at tight end, as he did in nearly every year with almost every tight end he has ever worked with. He has a history of running the ball a good deal -- and there's even evidence of that popping up this year, as the Raiders have two games with 30 or more rushing attempts, and four with 20 or more -- so while there's a decent amount of worry with Jones as the running back, there is enough evidence surrounding him to make Jones worth a speculative pickup in most leagues.

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Fantasy-wise, here are some cool numbers on some very bad defenses, which you want to start your fringey skill players against:

Running backs:

The Buffalo Bills are getting run over by opposing defenses to the tune of 26.5 Fantasy points per game. The next four optimal matchups include:

2. Jacksonville (24.75 Fantasy points per game against)
3. New Orleans (24.5)
4. Tennessee (24.33)
5. Oakland (21.25)

Wide receivers:

The Saints, so very bad against the rush, are even more unimpressive against the pass. They allow 31.25 Fantasy points per game to wideouts. Rounding out the top five:

2. Washington (28.56 Fppg against)
3. Tampa Bay (28.25)
4. Miami (26.5)
5. Indianapolis (26)

Kickers:

This is the column to get your kicker fix, apparently. And the Titans have been very good to kickers, giving up 10.7 Fantasy points per game. The next four?:

2. Carolina (10.5 Fppg against)
3. Oakland (9.88)
4. Baltimore (9.75)
5. Kansas City (9.75)

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
Eagles' Chris Polk gets first-team reps in practice
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(12/17/2014) Eagles running back Chris Polk received first-team reps in practice on Wednesday, according to CSNPhilly.com.

Polk opened practice with the starters and ran a couple of plays. LeSean McCoy watched the plays from the sideline. Following practice, McCoy stressed that it wasn't a big deal. "We rotate all the time," he said. "[Running back coach Duce Staley] pulled me out. [Darren] Sproles wasn't in either." Polk is coming off a three touchdown performance in Week 15. It's possible he could find his way into more playing time given the practice situation. 


Seahawks without three offensive lineman on Wednesday
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(12/17/2014) The Seahawks did not have three of their offensive linemen at practice on Wednesday, according to ESPN.

Max Unger, Russell Okung and J.R. Sweezy were all held out. Unger has missed the past four games due to an ankle and knee issue. He was able to practice last Friday, but did not play on Sunday. Okung is dealing with a bruised lung, but there's a chance he'll recover in time for Sunday's game. "[Okung is] going to have some stuff done [Thursday] that will let us know where he sits and all that," head coach Pete Carrol said. "He’s not out of the plan yet."

Sweezy is dealing with an ankle injury. His appearance on the injury report comes as somewhat of a surprise. 


Lions pick up CB Josh Thomas
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(12/17/2014) The Lions have claimed cornerback Josh Thomas on waivers, according to the New York Post

Thomas was cut by the Jets on Tuesday, but found a new job quickly. He's played in three games this season, registering two tackles. 


Seahawks' Marshawn Lynch sits out on Wednesday
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(12/17/2014) Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch did not practice on Wednesday.

Lynch has been using Wednesday as a veteran's day all season, so the move isn't a big surprise. He's been battling a back injury throughout most of the season, but has been able to play through it. Lynch has 1133 rushing yards, with 10 touchdowns, this year. 


Texans' DeAndre Hopkins unable to practice on Wednesday
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(12/17/2014) Texans wideout DeAndre Hopkins did not practice on Wednesday.

Hopkins is dealing with an ankle injury, and was unable to go. Hopkins has played in all 14 games this season. He has 1167 yards on 69 receptions. Hopkins has caught six touchdowns. His status will likely be determined based on how much he is able to practice on Thursday and Friday. 


49ers WR Michael Crabtree misses practice Wednesday
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(12/17/2014) 49ers wideout Michael Crabtree did not practice Wednesday due to a knee injury, reports CSNBayArea.com. Crabtree, who has not cleared 60 receiving yards since Week 11, isn't believed to be seriously hurt.

He's scheduled to play the Chargers on Saturday night. If Crabtree can't go, it could mean increased targets for fellow starter Anquan Boldin.


Raiders QB Derek Carr limited by thumb injury
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(12/17/2014) Raiders quarterback Derek Carr was limited in Wednesday's practice with a thumb injury, but coach Tony Sparano isn't too concerned, reports CSNBayArea.com. Carr has thrown one or zero touchdown passes in four of his past five games entering Sunday's contest against Buffalo.

Report: Jay Cutler to be benched Week 16
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(12/17/2014) The Bears will bench starting quarterback Jay Cutler Week 16 against the Lions, according to ESPN.

The move comes as a big surprise given the seven-year, $126 million contract Cutler signed in January. Cutler has had a big problem with turnovers this season, throwing 18 interceptions and fumbling 12 times. The move could mark the end of Cutler's season as the starter, and puts his future in Chicago in jeopardy. 

The team will turn to Jimmy Clausen to replace Cutler.


Texans RB Arian Foster held out Wednesday
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(12/17/2014) Texans running back Arian Foster did not practice Wednesday with what the team called a hip injury. Foster was listed on the injury report last week with a groin injury, then racked up 117 yards from scrimmage on 29 touches at Indy.

Foster, who might just be getting a veteran's rest day, is expected to start Sunday against the Ravens. Houston is a 5.5-point underdog at Caesars Palace Race and Sports Book.


Report: Bears to start Jimmy Clausen Week 16
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(12/17/2014) The Bears will start Jimmy Clausen Week 16 against the Lions, according to ESPN.

The move comes as a major surprise. While Jay Cutler has faced scrutiny for his body language and demeanor, the team handed him a seven-year, $126 million contract last season. The move seems to indicate that Cutler is done for the season, and puts his career with the Bears in jeopardy.

Clausen has seen time in three games this season, completing three passes in nine attempts. His last start came back in 2010, his rookie season. That year, Clausen threw for 1,558 yards, with three touchdowns against nine interceptions. 

The Lions are currently 7-point favorites, according to VegasInsider.com.


 
 
 
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