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Five up, five down for Week 17

Senior Fantasy Writer
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If you are still playing in Week 17, you are likely going to have to try and win without getting a full game from many of the guys who got you here. Such are the perils of a Week 17 Fantasy Football Championship, but I will do my best here to give you some players to snag off the wire to help bring you a Fantasy title.

Get 'em active ...

Philip Rivers, QB, Chargers (vs. OAK)
Current own/start %: 87/26
I'd start him over: Colin Kaepernick (vs. ARI), Jay Cutler (at DET), Matt Schaub (at IND)
If you are the owner of Matt Ryan this week and all of the usual suspects have been scooped up and you missed out on Michael Vick, I think Philip Rivers can help you win in Week 17. Rivers himself has multiple touchdown passes in two of his last three games and five of his last eight. He will be taking on an Oakland pass defense that has allowed 20.87 points per game to quarterbacks this year, sixth most in the NFL. Five of the last eight quarterbacks against the Raiders have produced 21 or more Fantasy points with the only exceptions being Brady Quinn, Brandon Weeden and Peyton Manning on a Thursday night point killer. With Danario Alexander scoring just about every week and Antonio Gates finding the end zone in back to back games, Rivers should hit multiple touchdowns once again in Week 17 and is a great sleeper option for you at quarterback if the usual suspects are unavailable.

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QBs with favorable matchups: Robert Griffin III (vs. DAL), Tony Romo (at WAS), Russell Wilson (vs. STL), Andrew Luck (vs. HOU), Eli Manning (vs. PHI), Michael Vick (at NYG), Ben Roethlisberger (vs. CLE), Jay Cutler (at DET), Josh Freeman (at ATL), Matthew Stafford (vs. CHI)

LeSean McCoy, RB, Eagles (at NYG)
Current own/start %: 99/29
I'd start him over: Darren McFadden (vs. SD), Frank Gore (vs. ARI), Ahmad Bradshaw (vs. PHI)
LeSean McCoy returned to action with a strong showing against the Redskins in Week 16, amassing 122 total yards on 22 touches. That was McCoy's ninth game this year with 10 or more Fantasy points, which is pretty impressive when you consider that he has played only 11 games all year. Now he gets to take on a Giants team that has been limping to the finish line of the 2012 season. Opposing running backs have had their way with the G-Men down the stretch, averaging 29.3 points per game over the last three weeks alone. In those three games, the Giants have allowed four running backs to produce 11 or more Fantasy points. Furthermore, the Giants have allowed 165 yards rushing per game on 5.5 yards per carry and have also surrendered 66 yards receiving per game. On the whole, opposing runners have netted 231 total yards and 1.3 touchdowns per game against the G-Men, so I am expecting a big game from McCoy, who torched the Giants for a season-high 123 rushing yards in their first meeting.

Other RBs with favorable matchups: Alfred Morris (vs. DAL), DeMarco Murray (at WAS), Stevan Ridley (vs. MIA), Reggie Bush (at NE), Knowshon Moreno (vs. KC), C.J. Spiller (vs. NYJ), Shonn Greene (at BUF), Mark Ingram/Darren Sproles (vs. CAR), Chris Johnson (vs. JAC), DeAngelo Williams (at NO), Darren McFadden (vs. SD), Sleepers: Ahmad Bradshaw/David Wilson (vs. PHI), Rashard Mendenhall (vs. CLE), Montell Owens (at TEN), Jackie Battle (vs. OAK), Mike Tolbert (at NO)

Justin Blackmon, WR, Jaguars (at TEN)
Current own/start %: 84/36
I'd start him over: Michael Crabtree (vs. ARI), Brandon Lloyd (vs. MIA), Miles Austin (at WAS)
With Cecil Shorts III out for the year, there is no question that Justin Blackmon will be the top target for Chad Henne when the Jaguars take on the Titans this week. Blackmon is coming off of a strong game against the Patriots where he caught seven of his 11 targets for 79 yards and a touchdown. Blackmon has at least 11 targets and six catches in three straight games and should see another generous target volume this Sunday. Blackmon has five or more catches in five of the six games with Henne at quarterback, so he is a safe PPR option as well. In his first meeting with the Titans back in Week 12, Blackmon scored a touchdown and finished with a very solid 13 Fantasy points on only six targets. I am expecting more this week given that the Titans have seven receiver touchdowns in their last five games and seven receivers have hit 10 or more points during that span. Opposing top targets are averaging over 13 points per game against this Titans pass defense and I expect a very solid game from the rookie receiver, who has really turned it on since Henne took over at quarterback. He is a great No. 3 receiver for your teams and is a quality No. 2 option this week as well.

Other WRs with favorable matchups: Danario Alexander (vs. OAK), Pierre Garcon (vs. DAL), Eric Decker (vs. KC), Larry Fitzgerald (at SF), All Green Bay Wide Receivers (at MIN), T.Y. Hilton (vs. HOU), Michael Crabtree (vs. ARI), Kenny Britt (vs. JAC), Miles Austin (at WAS), Sleepers: Antonio Brown (if Mike Wallace plays; vs. CLE), Jordan Shipley (at TEN), Sidney Rice/Golden Tate (vs. STL), Danny Amendola (at SEA), Brian Hartline (at NE), Alshon Jeffery (at DET), Santana Moss (vs. DAL), Randy Moss (vs. ARI)

Delanie Walker, TE, 49ers (vs. ARI)
Current own/start %: 3/2
I'd start him over: Jermaine Gresham (vs. BAL), Dennis Pitta (at CIN), Owen Daniels (at IND)
If you survived the Tony Gonzalez disaster of Week 16 or perhaps you lost Heath Miller and need a tight end for Week 17, I think Delanie Walker is worth a look off of the waiver wire. Walker has scored in each of the last two games and has become a trusted option for Colin Kaepernick. With Vernon Davis knocked out of last week's game, Walker was targeted a season-high seven times and caught four passes for 54 yards and a touchdown. He has produced at least eight Fantasy points in three of the last five games with Kap under center and could make it three in a row against the Cardinals. In their last four road games, the Cardinals have allowed three tight end touchdowns and are giving up an average of 11.3 points per game to the position. Walker is already the No. 2 target in the pass game for the 49ers and with Davis likely out, he will play an even bigger role. I think he is as good a pickup and play option for you out there at the tight end position for critical Week 17.

Other TEs with favorable matchups: Greg Olsen (at NO), Antonio Gates (vs. OAK), Kyle Rudolph (vs. GB), Jermichael Finley (at MIN)

Bills DST (vs. NYJ)
Current own/start %: 37/17
I'd start them over: Giants (vs. PHI), Bears (at DET), Falcons (vs. TB)
Hopefully you did not have to watch last week's Jets game but if you did, you saw Greg McElroy take 11 sacks in the team's loss to the Chargers. In that game, the Chargers scored 29 Fantasy points and were the top scoring Fantasy defense for Week 16. The week before that, the lowly Titans defense scored 22 points against the Mark Sanchez-led Jets and now seven of the last nine defenses have scored 18 or more points against this pathetic offense. The Jets have been held under 300 yards of total offense with at least two turnovers in four straight games and while the Bills are no defensive juggernaut themselves, they are a great start against the league's most inept offense. With Sanchez starting again and no passing game to speak of other than interceptions, the Jets will be in big trouble once again. I expect the Bills to be able to shut down everyone in green other than maybe Shonn Greene and if a touchdown is scored on a pass from Sanchez, it will likely be a pick six. They are a great pickup and play this week and look for Mario Williams to rack up a sack or three on Sunday.

Some DSTs with favorable matchups: Broncos (vs. KC), Chargers (vs. OAK), Steelers (vs. CLE), Jets (at BUF), Patriots (vs. MIA), Packers (at MIN)

Ride the pine ...

Andy Dalton, QB, Bengals (vs. BAL)
Current own/start %: 96/31
I'd rather start: Philip Rivers (vs. OAK), Russell Wilson (vs. STL), Michael Vick (at NYG)
Andy Dalton has just three passing scores in his last four games and might not even play a full game in Week 17 against the Ravens. When you consider that Dalton is averaging just 12.25 points per game and has seven total turnovers over the last four, there is little to be excited about even if Dalton was a 60-minute man. After all, the Ravens have held the Manning brothers to a combined 26 Fantasy points over the last two weeks and only one quarterback in the last six against this defense has even topped 15 Fantasy points. Even if Dalton does play a full game, he has not been the same since Mohammed Sanu was lost for the year with a foot injury. There are plenty of higher upside options for you at quarterback this week and Dalton is not a recommended Week 17 option.

Other QBs with tough matchups: Joe Flacco (at CIN), Colin Kaepernick (vs. ARI), Sam Bradford (at SEA), Matt Ryan (vs. TB; due to playing time issues), Ryan Fitzpatrick (vs. NYJ)

Vick Ballard, RB, Colts (vs. Texans)
Current own/start %: 84/39
I'd rather start: Shonn Greene (at BUF), Mark Ingram (vs. CAR), DeAngelo Williams (at NO)
Vick Ballard is getting a solid workload of around 20 touches per game as the starter in Indianapolis, but has not scored a single touchdown and will need 100 yards against the Texans to get back to 10 points in Week 17. I know he was only the second runner this year to hit 100 yards against the Texans in Week 15, but I do not see history repeating itself. The Texans need to win this game and just held Adrian Peterson to 85 yards on 25 carries in Week 16. Chris Johnson ran for 144 yards against the Texans in his first go around, but was held to just 51 yards in the rematch. I fear that Ballard could suffer a similar fate after being held to just 69 yards on 20 carries against the Chiefs in Week 16 himself. Ballard has just one catch for 10 yards in his last three games combined, so this really is a rush or bust type of Fantasy situation, which is not great news against the Texans, who have allowed only three runners all year to top 80 yards on the ground. I would stay away from Ballard and consider him a desperation flex only because of his guaranteed workload.

Michael Turner, RB, Falcons (vs. TB)
Current own/start %: 99/64
I'd rather start: Mark Ingram (vs. CAR), Rashard Mendenhall (vs. CLE), Steven Jackson (at SEA)
'The Burner' is averaging just 38.2 yards per game rushing over the last seven games, and that is with him playing the full game! One of the games during that stretch was an impressive 13-carry, 17-yard effort against these very Buccaneers. He saved that day with a touchdown to get to the massive total of seven Fantasy points, but if he is only playing half of a game, he could really struggle. The Bucs enter this game giving up a league-low 72.4 yards per game on the ground to running backs on an NFL best 3.5 yards per carry. I know that last year under similar circumstances, Turner roasted these very same Bucs for 172 yards and two touchdowns on 17 carries, but this is not the same Burner and these are not the same Bucs. Turner has seen 17 or more carries in only four games this year and has reached 70 yards (let alone 170) in just one of them. With plenty of other full-game options capable of reaching 70 yards and scoring a touchdown, it is time to throw some water on Turner and send him to the bench.

Beanie Wells, RB, Cardinals (at SF)
Current own/start %: 75/20
I'd rather start: Montell Owens (at TEN), Jackie Battle (vs. OAK), Mike Tolbert (at NO)
Beanie Wells has 28 Fantasy points in six career starts against the San Francisco 49ers and has been held to three or fewer points in four of those games. In other words, this is not a great matchup for Wells, who has scored five touchdowns at home and none on the road. In fact, Wells has not topped six Fantasy points in any road game this year and faces the 49ers, who allowed just 17 Fantasy points to running backs and no touchdowns in their last two home games combined. The 49ers need to win this game, which Wells has called his audition reel for 31 other NFL teams. Unfortunately for Wells, this is going to be more like a lowlight reel rather than a highlight reel. The 49ers are angry and will look to take that out on the Cardinals, who were held to just 29 yards rushing on 19 carries against the Bears last week. I know you may have limited options this week, but I would gamble on plenty of other runners when scraping the bottom of the barrel before I'd use Beanie.

Other RBs with tough matchups: Green Bay running backs (at MIN)

Jermaine Gresham, TE, Bengals (vs. BAL)
Current own/start %: 95/62
I'd rather start: Delanie Walker (vs. ARI), Antonio Gates (vs. OAK), Kyle Rudolph (vs. GB)
Jermaine Gresham is in a little bit of a slump with no touchdowns in three straight games and a paltry average of 4.3 Fantasy points per game during that span. This week he takes on a Ravens team that held him to three catches for 30 yards on eight targets back in Week 1. The Ravens have allowed a league-low two touchdowns all season to opposing tight ends and are giving up just 5.8 points per game to the position, fourth lowest in the NFL. Now, it should also be noted that five of the last six tight end groups to face the Ravens have been held to three points or fewer, with Heath Miller's big game being the lone exception. Over the last three weeks, tight ends have five points total against the Ravens and that group includes Martellus Bennett, both Denver tight ends and the Redskins group as well. This is not a great matchup for Gresham to begin with and he might not even play the whole game, so I would not put him into my lineup if I could avoid it this Sunday.

Some WRs and TEs with tough matchups: Josh Gordon (at PIT), Antonio Brown (if Mike Wallace is out; vs. CLE), Brandon Gibson/Chris Givens (at SEA), Kris Durham (vs. CHI), Tony Scheffler (vs. CHI), Brandon Myers (at SD), Dallas Clark (at ATL)

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Player News
Report: Titans S Bernard Pollard wants to be released
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12:52 am ET) Titans safety Bernard Pollard has requested a release from his contract, The Tennessean reports. He is scheduled to make $3.1 million in the final season of his two-year deal in 2015.

Pollard submitted his request to general manager Ruston Webster at the end of the regular season, per the report. He is recovering from a ruptured Achilles and wants to play in 2015, but said on The Tennessean's Bernard Pollard Show earlier this month that he was unsure of his future with the Titans.

"I am not getting any younger, so I want to win, I really do. I want to win,'' Pollard said. "Looking at how things took place this year, looking at where (the Titans) need to be for next year, that is a tough, tough question, and I don't even know if they can give me the answer. I have one year on my deal, but it is going to take some time."

Pollard has been out of his walking boot for a month and is making progress in rehab. He suffered his Achilles injury in Week 5 and was placed on injured reserve.


Patriots fairly healthy heading into Super Bowl Sunday
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(1/30/2015) The Patriots will be at nearly full strength for Sunday’s Super Bowl as the following players have been listed as probable: Tom Brady (ankle), Dont’a Hightower (shoulder), Chris Jones (elbow), Akeem Ayers (knee), Darrelle Revis (non-injury-related) and Sealver Siliga (foot).

All except Brady were limited participants in practice Friday. The only question mark is center Bryan Stork, who is questionable with a knee injury and was limited in practice Friday.

The Patriots are currently 1-point favorites against Seattle.


Seahawks unveil final injury report in preparation for Super Bowl
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(1/30/2015) The Seahawks have listed the following players as probable for the Super Bowl on Sunday: J.R. Sweezy (ankle), Justin Britt (knee), Marshawn Lynch (back), Earl Thomas (shoulder), Richard Sherman (elbow) and Kam Chancellor (knee).

Chancellor was a late addition to the injury report, when he fell on the next-to-last play of practice and missed the last play. He was not limping on his way off. All other players were full participants in practice Friday.

The Seahawks are currently 1-point underdogs against New England.


Saints tight end Jimmy Graham to avoid surgery on shoulder
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(1/30/2015) Saints tight end Jimmy Graham said Friday he will avoid surgery on his shoulder after testing it at the Pro Bowl. 

"I’ve been doing rehab and I’m going to start back on my rehab Monday and really there’s going to be no surgery," Graham told SiriusXM radio. "I’m just going to do rehab, strengthen the area. That’s what’s best — not having to take six months off and try to heal up with a surgery, but now have those six months to work on all things I need to to try and hopefully get to a place like (the Super Bowl) next year."

Graham, who had 85 catches for 889 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2014, fought off the injury for most of the season. He was still unsure about having surgery before the Pro Bowl last week.

"It was something that really needed some rest and unfortunately it wasn’t able to get that during the season," he said. "It happened early and then you have about 10 straight weeks of trying to make it to the game. Now after having about three or four weeks and last week kind of testing it at the Pro Bowl, it feels great."


Vikings' Greg Jennings: We all want Adrian Peterson back
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(1/30/2015) Vikings veteran wideout Greg Jennings said during a SiriusXM NFL Radio interview on Friday that embattled running back Adrian Peterson is wanted back by everyone in the organization, per ESPN.

"I don't know if he'll be back. I can't answer that question," Jennings said. "But what I do know is that if he does come back, he'd be accepted with open arms. As an organization from the Wilfs on down, we all want him back. So, I mean, it's a touchy subject and he's been the franchise player -- face of that team -- for eight years. So it will be a loss, a huge loss, if we can't get him back, and that's the nature of this business."

In November, Peterson was suspended by the league without pay for the rest of the season, making him ineligible for reinstatement until at least April 15. The move came after Peterson pleaded no contest to recklessly injuring his 4-year-old son last May. He is under contract with the Vikings for next season, and is set to earn $12.75 million.

It's unclear at this point if Jennings has talked to Zygi and Mark Wilf about the Peterson situation. What is clear is that the team is not allowed to communicate with Peterson during his suspension.


Eagles' Maclin believes contract will take care of itself
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(1/30/2015) Eagles wide receiver Jeremy Maclin believes he will be back in Philadelphia in next season. His representatives and the Eagles are in the process of negotiating a new contract for the 27-year-old, who will become a free agent in March unless he is re-signed.

"I'm excited about what the future holds," Maclin said on Friday. "Once again, both sides have made it known what we want to do. I think it will take care of itself."

He could be franchise tagged if a deal is not signed. The tag number for wide receivers is yet to be determined.

Maclin had 85 catches in 2014 for 1,318 yards and 10 touchdowns in Philadelphia.


Bears sign LB DeDe Lattimore to two-year contract extension
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(1/30/2015) The Bears have signed linebacker DeDe Lattimore to a two-year contract extension. He appeared in 10 games as a rookie in 2014, recording five special teams tackles.

Jaguars' Khan 'very optimistic' about WR Blackmon being reinstated
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(1/30/2015) Jaguars owner Shahid Khan said Friday he is "very optimistic" about wide receiver Justin Blackmon, who missed the 2014 season after being suspended indefinitely for a third violation of the league's substance abuse policy, being reinstated to the NFL.

"I think he's paid his dues and I think he's got his life together," Khan said, per The Florida Times-Union.


NFLPA president Eric Winston: New conduct policy 'violates CBA'
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(1/30/2015) After the union field a grievance last week against the NFL over changes to the NFL personal conduct policy, Players Association president Eric Winston said Thursday the new policy "violates the CBA in several ways and we're going to be grieving this as far as we can."

NFL owners unanimously approved the changes in December.

"We have an agreement with the league and they have an agreement with us," Winston said, per the Associated Press. "We're going to hold them to that agreement. Many aspects of this policy fall outside of the CBA and we're going to continue fighting it going forward."

Following former Ravens running back Ray Rice's domestic violence case and Vikings running back Adrian Peterson's child abuse case, a more extensive list of prohibited conduct was included in the policy, as well as criteria for paid leave for anyone charged with a violent crime. A suspension of six games without pay for violations involving assault, sexual assault, battery, domestic violence, child abuse and other forms of family violence will be in effect.

"The league's revised conduct policy was the product of a tremendous amount of analysis and work and is based on input from a broad and diverse group of experts within and outside of football, including current players, former players, and the NFL Players Association," the league said in a statement last week.

"We and the public firmly believe that all NFL personnel should be held accountable to a stronger, more effective conduct policy. Clearly, the union does not share that belief."


Eric Decker 'pushing' for Demaryius Thomas to sign with Jets
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(1/30/2015) Broncos wide receiver Demaryius Thomas is set to become a free agent in March, unless he agrees to a contract extension or Denver uses the franchise tag on him. If he does become a free agent, former teammate Eric Decker hopes Thomas would consider joining him on the Jets roster.

Decker spent a few days in Arizona this week with Thomas filming a commercial.

“I’ve been pushing for the entire year now,” Decker said in a telephone interview with The New York Post. “It was just another opportunity to talk to him about it. It’s going to be interesting to see what happens. I think it would be tough for Denver to let him go. So whether they franchise-tag him here in the next month or give him a long-term deal, he’s just one of those premier players in this league.

"If he happens to make it to free agency, I would love to sign him because playing alongside him for four years and especially the last two years made it a lot of fun and made it a lot easier. He’s just one of the great players in this league.”

Thomas recorded a career-best 1,619 receiving yards in 2014. It was his third straight season of 1,000-plus receiving yards. He also had at least 10 touchdowns for a third straight season.


 
 
 
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