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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
Report: OL Chris Myers visiting Seahawks
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1:34 pm ET) Free-agent offensive lineman Chris Myers is visiting the Seahawks Monday, ESPN reports.

Myers graded out positively in 2014, ranking 16th out of 41 centers, per Pro Football Focus. He has started every game in each of the last seven seasons for the Texans and could be an option to fill the team's hole at center after Max Unger was traded to New Orleans earlier in March.


Panthers sign RB Jordan Todman
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12:37 pm ET) The Panthers have signed running back Jordan Todman to a one-year deal, the team announced Monday.

"Jordan is a veteran running back who has had some success in the league," coach Ron Rivera said in a statement. "We think he has some return skills and we are always looking to be good in that area. At running back, he brings versatility. He is stout and physical enough to run the ball up inside, but he's got the quickness and speed to get outside to the corner."

Todman racked up 186 yards on just 32 carries with the Jaguars in 2014 while adding 198 yards on 25 receptions and scoring twice. He also averaged 25.6 yards per return on 38 kickoff returns last season.


Interior lineman Tim Barnes visiting Chiefs
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(11:39 am ET) Free-agent interior lineman Tim Barnes is visiting the Chiefs Monday, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. Barnes played just nine snaps on offense for the Rams last season but also has experience on special teams.

Report: Packers expected to bring back B.J. Raji on one-year deal
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(11:15 am ET) The Packers are expected to re-sign defensive tackle B.J. Raji to a one-year deal, a source told NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport. Raji missed the 2014 season due to a torn right biceps.

Prior to sitting out the 2014 season, Raji totaled 129 tackles (90 solo) and 10 1/2 sacks in his first five NFL seasons.


Report: WR Miles Austin set to sign with Eagles
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(11:09 am ET) Veteran wide receiver Miles Austin is set to meet with the Eagles this week, a source told NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport. 

Rapoport added Austin will sign when he meets with the Eagles, as long as his physical goes well, a source said.

The 30-year-old Austin appeared in 12 games (11 starts) for the Browns last season before being placed on injured reserve with a kidney injury. Austin totaled 47 receptions for 568 yards and two touchdowns.


Report: Packers set to re-sign DT Guion to one-year, $2.75M deal
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(11:00 am ET) The Packers have reached an agreement with defensive lineman Letroy Guion on a one-year deal, a source told ESPN. The deal is expected to be finalized by Tuesday.

Guion's deal is worth $2.75 million, a source told ESPN.

Guion played his first season with the Packers in 2014 after spending the previous six seasons with the Vikings. He totaled a career-best 32 tackles (22 solo) and 3 1/2 sacks in 16 games last season.


Hakeem Nicks set to visit with 49ers
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(10:55 am ET) Free agent wide receiver Hakeem Nicks told ESPN on Monday that he is traveling to California to visit with the 49ers.

Nicks played the 2014 season with the Colts after spending his first five seasons in the NFL with the Giants. Nicks totaled 38 catches for 405 yards and four touchdowns in 16 games (six starts) last season.


Cardinals pushing for more consistency out of WR Michael Floyd
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(12:11 am ET) Cardinals coach Bruce Arians knows wide receiver Michael Floyd is capable of big things in his offense. He also feels Floyd was the victim of the quarterback injuries last year, reports Fox Sports 910.

"I think some frustration went into his play at times," Arians said. "But he still needs to hit a consistency level. He's a thousand-yard player every year. He should have had a thousand, easily, last year."

Floyd finished with 47 catches for 841 yards and six touchdowns in 2014. He is entering the final year of his contract in 2015.


Bears defensive end Jared Allen played through herniated disc in 2014
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(12:03 am ET) Bears defensive end Jared Allen still thinks he can get the job done next season. Allen claims he was slowed last season while dealing with a nagging back issue, which was diagnosed as a herniated disc, reports the Chicago Tribune.

"I just don't know how to miss games," Allen says. "It killed me that I had to miss one."

Allen totaled 55 tackles with 5 1/2 sacks in 15 games last season.


QB Sam Bradford's college coach talked him out of retiring last year
(3/29/2015) After suffering his second season-ending injury in nine months last year, quarterback Sam Bradford contemplated retiring but his former quarterbacks coach from Oklahoma talked him out of it, according to Philly.com.

Bradford, who was aquired by the Eagles in a trade in March, missed the entire 2014 season with the Rams after tearing his left ACL during a preseason game.

Josh Heupel, a former college coach, talked with Bradford after the injury and persuaded him to stay in the NFL.

"When a player goes through a big letdown, it's natural to be down," said Heupel. "I just tried to reach out to him and say, 'Hey, I still see this in you as a person and a player. I think the best is yet to come for you. You've got to get yourself healthy and get yourself back on the field and get yourself in the right environment ...'"

Heupel, who coached Bradford during his 2008 Heisman Trophy-winning season, is currently the offensive coordinator at Utah State.


 
 
 
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