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Quick Fantasy Hits for Week 15

Senior Fantasy Writer
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As we wade into a 15th week of action, there are some nuggets that are too in-depth for the podcast, too long for Twitter and a little too short for the full column. Enjoy these Week 15 Quick Hits.

Thursday nights are hell on quarterbacks. We took a look at the Thursday Night Effect earlier in the season, but with the games wining down -- and owners throwing Andy Dalton's name around as a possible starter for Week 15, it might be prudent to update the numbers.

So far this season quarterbacks have thrown 36 touchdowns and 35 interceptions in Thursday games. The average line: 19/32, for 235 yards, two sacks, and one touchdown and interception. Just eight quarterbacks have thrown multiple touchdowns (and four of those performances were from feel-good Thanksgiving Day games), while nine quarterbacks (with 20 or more attempts, in order to weed out backups) have thrown zero touchdowns in a Thursday night game. In fact, the list of Thursday night quarterbacks who have thrown one or fewer touchdowns in a game includes:

Cam Newton
Russell Wilson
Andrew Luck
Ryan Fitzpatrick
Drew Brees
Jay Cutler
Aaron Rodgers
Eli Manning
Joe Flacco
Ben Roethlisberger
Matt Ryan
Peyton Manning
Matt Schaub

It's a list of names of which Andy Dalton could easily find himself in the middle. Thursday games have a strange effect on quarterbacks, and it's not an especially good thing.

Joique Bell is getting more touches If you're one of the many owners stressing over what to do with Mikel Leshoure, here's some more stress to pile on, just in time for the holidays: In Week 14, Joique Bell had five receptions and 12 carries, for a total of 17 touches. This was a new season-high for Bell (his previous high of 16 came in Week 9, during a 31-14 win against the Jaguars).

Neither the receptions nor carries alone were highs for Bell, but it was his most impressive total to date, suggesting that his involvement in the offense may be on the rise. In the past three weeks, Bell has averaged 9.3 Fantasy points per game -- a number which is elevated in PPR formats. Leshoure, meanwhile, had just 14 carries and no receptions in Week 14, meaning that Bell outpaced him in touches.

It would be too much to ask, as a Fantasy player, to be able to look at the numbers and simply say, "Well, it looks like Bell is outpacing Leshoure; I suppose Bell is the better option!" Things are rarely that easy. Leshoure has managed a touchdown in three of his last four games. Bell has three touchdowns for the entire season. So while playing Bell ahead of Leshoure in some leagues -- and this is a very real scenario, as Bell was added as Leshoure's handcuff in plenty of formats -- seems like an option, it really ends up coming down to individual scoring. In PPR, Bell may, indeed, be the better choice, as he catches more passes than Leshoure. But Leshoure's tendency to score touchdowns -- he has six in the last five games, thanks mostly to that three-TD performance in Week 9 -- still makes him the better option in standard leagues, even with a chunk of his touches going to Bell.

Fun Fact for Week 15! The Arizona Cardinals rank 28th in passing yards and 32nd in rushing yards ... but are seventh in the NFL in passing attempts.

Interpretation of Fun Fact for Week 15 It means the Cardinals are at least trying. And while it has become fashionable to dump on the offense and give up on Larry Fitzgerald, he is still the sixth-most targeted wide receiver in the league. In the four weeks since the bye, Fitzgerald has just six total receptions, but has averaged 9.3 targets per week.

Detroit, Fitzgerald's Week 15 opponent, has given up the 12th-fewest receiving yards this season but 14th-most receiving touchdowns. And the Lions are just two weeks removed from giving up three touchdowns to Colts receivers. From Weeks 6 to 11, the Lions gave up at least one touchdown to an opposing wide receiver per week.

Additionally, in five career games against the Lions, Fitzgerald has scored four touchdowns. And December is traditionally one of his strongest months -- in 35 career December games, Fitzgerald averages 70.3 yards, with 23 total touchdowns (the best rate of any month).

So while it may look rather grim right now for Fitzgerald, there are some signs here pointing to at least a little bit of hope as the season winds down.

The running backs with the most receiving yards over the past three weeks are:

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Darren Sproles, 140 yards
Shane Vereen, 91 yards
Knowshon Moreno, 88 yards
Ray Rice, 87 yards
Steven Jackson, 78 yards

Not on the list, but meriting a mention for his involvement in the passing game is Bryce Brown, who has been targeted 15 times in the last three games. He's caught 10 of those passes for 31 yards.

The biggers tory here, though, may be Moreno, who has value in the 72 carries over those three games -- enough to lead the league -- but who has been virtually ignored for his involvement in the passing game. Moreno may not have the best yards-per-carry average, but he's caught four passes in each of his last three games, and is turning those receptions into significant gains. Of the top 10 targeted receivers, Moreno is second to only Arian Foster in terms of converting targets to receptions. So not only is he carrying the ball a good amount, he's also catching passes that might have otherwise been pegged for Ronnie Hillman, and isn't missing many of the balls thrown his way.

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
Tom Coughlin agrees with Giants GM, but defends Eli Manning
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(3:05 pm ET) Giants coach Tom Coughlin agreed Thursday with general manager Jerry Reese's assessment that the offense needs to be more aggressive. However, while Reese put the onus on quarterback Eli Manning, Coughlin felt the supporting cast could play a bigger role in helping the offense be more productive. 

"We’d like to see the ball in the end zone more, however it gets there," Coughlin said, per NJ.com. "We do realize that when you’re playing some of the people we’re playing, you’ve got to give yourself more chances to be able to do that ... You’ve got to protect the passer, you’ve got to kind of do all of the things that we tried to structure in order to do. We’ve gotten good numbers out of the quarterback position. We need even better and we need more production out of the people that are involved in handling the ball – the runners, the catchers, etc."


Chargers CB Brandon Flowers returns to action Thursday
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(3:04 pm ET) Chargers cornerback Brandon Flowers was a participant in Thursday practice after missing time with a concussion. He did not play in Week 8, but should be a go for the Sunday game at Miami.

Flowers sustained the concussion in Week 7 against Kansas City.


Jaguars OL Luke Joeckel expects to play Week 9
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(2:56 pm ET) Jaguars left tackle Luke Joeckel (concussion), who was cleared for individual drills Thursday, said he anticipates playing Week 9 against the Bengals, according to The Florida Times-Union.

"That’s the plan," he said. "I have to go through the protocol, but I anticipate being back.”

Joeckel said he suffered his first-ever concussion Week 8 against the Dolphins when he got a "knee or thigh" to the top of his head during a field-goal attempt. 

"I don’t remember much after that. My vision was definitely screwed up," he said.


Eagles LB Mychal Kendricks ready to handle full workload again
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(2:41 pm ET) Eagles linebacker Mychal Kendricks said Thursday he is ready to play an entire game after being limited in his return from a calf injury Week 8. Kendricks said he has done everything this week and expects to start Week 9 at Houston, per CSNPhilly.com.

Ravens TE Owen Daniels downgraded to did not practice
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(2:34 pm ET) Ravens tight end Owen Daniels was downgraded to did not practice Thursday after being listed as a limited participant Wednesday. Daniels sat out Week 8 at Cincinnati after undergoing minor knee surgery.

The Ravens are preparing to play the Steelers in Week 9.


Buccaneers RB Doug Martin out of boot and out of practice
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(2:13 pm ET) Buccaneers running back Doug Martin has shed the walking boot, but remains absent from practice Thursday, per the Tampa Bay Times.

Martin has been dealing with a sprained left ankle.


Browns TE Jordan Cameron again sidelined Thursday
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(2:10 pm ET) The likelihood of Browns tight end Jordan Cameron playing in Week 9 against Tampa Bay took another hit Thursday when he was again absent from practice.

Cameron sustained his third concussion in just over two years Sunday against Oakland. He is going through league-mandated concussion protocol before he is allowed to return.


Ravens RB Justin Forsett back on practice field Thursday
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(1:57 pm ET) The minor ankle injury that had Ravens featured back Justin Forsett sidelined Wednesday did not keep him out of practice Thursday.

Barring a setback, he appears set to play Sunday at Pittsburgh. He is on pace to rush for 1,142 yards and six touchdowns this season.


Toe issue has Colts LB D'Qwell Jackson out Thursday
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(1:53 pm ET) Colts linebacker D'Qwell Jackson, who needs just one more sack to break his single-season record of 3 1/2, is sidelined from practice Thursday with a toe ailment.

There is no indication the issue is serious and he's expected to play Monday night against the host Giants.


Coach: Colts WR Wayne healthy enough to practice Thursday
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(1:41 pm ET) Chuck Pagano revealed that the absence of veteran wideout Reggie Wayne from Thursday practice was merely to provide rest and that he could have participated otherwise, per the Anderson Herald Bulletin.

Wayne missed the Wednesday session with an elbow ailment that prevented him from playing in Week 8 at Pittsburgh. Barring a setback, he should receive the green light for action on Monday night against the Giants.


 
 
 
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