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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: Rams don't make tender offer to Tim Barnes
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(8:03 pm ET) The Rams didn't make a tender offer to restricted free agent Tim Barnes, according to a report by Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

That means that the offensive lineman will become an unrestricted free agent on March 10, and the Rams wouldn't get any compensatory draft picks, if he signs with another team. 

The Rams can still bring Barnes back by re-signing him on the open market.


Report: Carson Palmer agrees to restructure Cardinals' contract
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(7:45 pm ET) Quarterback Carson Palmer agreed to restructure his contract with the Cardinals, according to a report by ESPN's Josh Weinfuss

Palmer's new contract converts $9.5 million due to him in a roster bonus to signing bonus money. That allows the money to be prorated over several years instead of being applied to this year's salary cap. 

The Cardinals save about $7 million against the cap by restructuring Palmer's deal. 


Seahawks release Zach Miller
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(6:40 pm ET) The Seahawks released TE Zach Miller , Friday, saving $2.39 million toward the salary cap. 

Miller spent four seasons with the Seahawks. Last season, after agreeing to a pay cut to remain with the team, Miller had six catches for 76 yards in three games. 

Miller was released due to a "failed physical", according to the team. 


Report: Eric Weems returning to Falcons with new deal
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(5:33 pm ET) Wide receiver Eric Weems has agreed to a new two-year contract with the Falcons, according to a report by ESPN.com's Vaughn McClure

Weems made $730,000 last season, when he had 10 catches for 102 yards and two touchdowns for the Falcons. He was scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent on March 10. 


Marshawn Lynch agrees on deal to return to Seahawks
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(4:44 pm ET) Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch has reached agreement on a new contract and is returning to the team, according to a report from ESPN's Adam Schefter, citing an unnamed source. 

Lynch was scheduled to make $5 million in 2015, with a salary-cap hit of $8.5 million. The team was trying to extend his contract, while Lynch was considering retiring from the NFL. 

According to NFL.com's Ian Rapoport, Lynch signed the contract extension, through 2017, on Friday night and will get $24 million over two years.  

Lynch's agent, Doug Hendrickson, confirmed the signing, saying that the deal came after a long meeting between Hendrickson, owner Paul Allen, GM John Schneider and coach Pete Carroll. He added that he didn't anticipate needed to renegotiate following this season, assuming Lynch chooses to continue playing. 

CBSSports.com's Jason La Canfora reported that the Seahawks and Lynch had agreed on a new deal nearly two weeks ago. 


49ers tender Michael Wilhoite, Tony Jerod-Eddie
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(3:49 pm ET) The 49ers have tendered exclusive-rights free agents Michael Wilhoite and Tony Jerod-Eddie, according to Comcast SportsNet Bay Area on Friday.

Tarvaris Jackson: I think I could help Bridgewater as his backup
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(3:47 pm ET) With Matt Cassel now in Buffalo and Christian Ponder set to become a free agent Tuesday, former Seahawks backup quarterback Tarvaris Jackson said he would love to be Teddy Bridgewater's backup in Minnesota.

"I think I could really help [Bridgewater]," Jackson told Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. "I think I could help put things in perspective for him with football and outside of football … I feel I can help him just making the game a little easier and kind of learning from my mistakes and stuff."

Jackson started his career with the Vikings in 2006. He has passed for 7,226 yards and 39 touchdowns in his nine-year career.


Tyvon Branch to meet with Chiefs after Redskins meeting
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(3:40 pm ET) Free agent safety Tyvon Branch is scheduled to visit the Chiefs in the near future, per CBSSports.com NFL Insider Jason La Canfora. Branch has visited the Colts and is scheduled to meet with the Redskins before he meets with Kansas City's representatives.

The 28-year-old Branch has played seven seasons in the NFL, totaling 476 tackles, 20 passes defensed and four interceptions in his career.


Jaguars sign DE Ryan Davis
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(3:34 pm ET) The Jaguars have re-signed exclusive rights free agent defensive end Ryan Davis to a new deal on Friday, per the Florida Times Union.

Davis, 26, signed with the Jaguars in 2012 as an undrafted free agent. He posted 6 1/2 sacks in 16 games last season for Jacksonville.

>> Want more NFL offseason? >> Mock drafts | Free agency tracker


Lions tender DL George Johnson, WR Jeremy Ross
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(3:29 pm ET) The Lions gave restricted free agent defensive lineman George Johnson an original round tender, worth $1.54 million, for the 2015 season. The team also announced the exclusive rights tender for wide receiver Jeremy Ross on Friday, per the team's official website.

>> Want more NFL offseason? >> Mock drafts | Free agency tracker


 
 
 
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