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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
Michael Sam: I made the right choice to come out
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12/27/2014) Free-agent defensive end Michael Sam indicated in a documentary on the Oprah Winfrey Network that aired Saturday night that coming out was the right thing to do and that he has no regrets with how he handled the situation, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

"I did everything I was supposed to do. I did everything right," Sam said. "I am proud of how I handled things."

Sam dismissed the notion that his sexuality cost him a spot on an NFL team, adding, "But I do believe I'm a very talented football player and I'm going to continue working hard and try to get that opportunity to play in the league."

Sam was selected in the seventh round of the 2014 NFL Draft by the Rams after being named the SEC co-Defensive Player of the Year. He didn't survive final preseason cuts and spent seven weeks on the Cowboys' practice squad before being released.


Report: Talks ongoing on Browns WR Josh Gordon's 2016 status
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12/27/2014) Talks are ongoing between the Browns and wide receiver Josh Gordon on whether he will lose his accrued season and the ability to become an unrestricted free agent in 2016 after being suspended for the last game of the season, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports.

Players need to be paid for six games of action in order to accrue a season, and Gordon played just his fifth game of the season in Week 16 after serving a 10-game suspension to begin the season. The talks involve whether Gordon will be a restricted or unrestricted free agent after the 2015 season. He finishes 2014 with 24 receptions and 303 yards in five games.


Report: Bengals A.J. Green will play Week 17 vs. Steelers
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12/27/2014) Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green said Saturday that he'll play in Sunday's Week 17 matchup with the Steelers, ESPN reports.

Green will be playing with a deep bicep bruise after being ruled probable on the team's final injury report. He'll probably take a painkilling shot before the game, per the report.

The Bengals are a 3 1/2-point underdog in Pittsburgh against the Steelers.


Report: Browns considering pursuing Ndamukong Suh
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12/27/2014) The Browns are considering making a play for impending free-agent defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, ESPNCleveland.com reports.

The Browns are expected to have plenty of cap space with which to work during the offseason and could be willing to give the premium free-agent-to-be the richest contract for a defensive lineman in history, per the report. Suh has racked up 46 total tackles and 8 1/2 sacks in 15 games.


Redskins place Jason Hatcher on IR, add Travian Robertson
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12/27/2014) The Redskins placed defensive end Jason Hatcher on injured reserve Saturday after claiming defensive tackle Travian Robertson off waivers from the Seahawks.

Hatcher has missed the last two games with a knee injury and wil be out Sunday as well when Washington closes out the season against Dallas as a 4-point home underdog. Robertson played in just one game with the Seahawks, recording one assisted tackle.


Seahawks sign Jimmy Staten to practice squad
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12/27/2014) The Seahawks have resigned defensive lineman Jimmy Staten to the practice squad and released linebacker Mike Zimmer, the Everett Herald reports. Staten has bounced on and off the practice squad throughout his rookie season.


Bills downgrade Marcell Dareus, Stephon Gilmore to out for Week 17
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(12/27/2014) The Bills have downgraded defensive tackle Marcell Dareus (knee) and cornerback Stephon Gilmore (concussion) from doubtful to out for Sunday's season finale at New England, per the team's official website. Both players did not make the trip to New England for Week 17.

Buffalo is a 5-point underdog on Sunday.


Patriots place CB Alfonzo Dennard on injured reserve
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(12/27/2014) The Patriots placed cornerback Alfonzo Dennard on season-ending injured reserve with a hamstring injury, reports Field Yates of ESPN on Saturday. Dennard appeared in only six games this season, registering 15 combined tackles and one interception -- all season lows.

In corresponding moves, the Patriots elevated wide receiver Josh Boyce from the practice squad to take the spot of Dennard on the 53-man active roster. They re-signed Dax Swanson to the practice squad and released defensive lineman Cam Henderson.


Browns QB Johnny Manziel fined for being late to treatment
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(12/27/2014) The Browns have fined rookie quarterback Johnny Manziel an undisclosed amount for arriving late to treatment on Saturday, reports Mary Kay Cabot of the Plain Dealer.

Manziel was placed on injured reserve after suffering a hamstring injury in Week 16 against Carolina. Although he's on IR and not eligible to play, he will accompany the team to Baltimore for Cleveland's season finale against the Ravens.

Manziel is expected to be fully recovered in time for OTAs. He finished the turbulent rookie season with 175 passing yards and a 42.0 quarterback rating. He also had two interceptions and one fumble lost.


Saints place John Jenkins on IR
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(12/27/2014) The Saints announced a pair of roster moves on Saturday. The team elevated quarterback Ryan Griffin to the 53-man active roster and placed nose tackle John Jenkins on injured reserve with an abdominal injury.

Jenkins registered 30 combined tackles and a sack in 12 games played.


 
 
 
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