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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
Patriots running back Stevan Ridley: 'I have something to prove'
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(8:31 pm ET) Patriots running back Stevan Ridley is expected to become a free agent in the coming weeks and he is ready for the experience.

"I'm excited about it," Ridley told Sirius XM Radio Friday. "As a player coming into the league, you get there and your first contract you kind of have to establish yourself and see what you can do. Everybody is a good player if you get to make it to the NFL, but there is something to be said if you get to that second contract."

Ridley has rushed for 2,817 yards and 22 touchdowns in his first four seasons in the league with the Patriots.

"Where I'll be playing, and who I'll be playing for, is still unknown, but I know I've come in and done my job up to this point and now I have to put it in my agent's hands to get me on another team, or stay where I'm at, and make sure I’m in pads playing ball somewhere next year. I know if you think about it too much it will worry you sick."

Ridley has played in 20 of a possible 32 games the last two seasons, starting in just 11 of them.

"I take it personal to any team or anybody that says I can't be a very productive player on whatever team I land on," he said. "I've been playing ball my whole life, I'm going to come in and be a leader, and I'm going to be a guy that comes in and busts his butt in the weight room and busts his butt on the field. I'm a good teammate, I have fun with my guys, but when the lights come on Sundays, it's all business and I plan on going out there and making plays."


Patriots' Aaron Dobson doing well in rehab of hamstring injury
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(8:17 pm ET) Patriots wide receiver Aaron Dobson is still recovering from a hamstring injury that ended his season in 2014. Trainer Brett Fischer said Friday he thinks Dobson is going to turn heads when he heads back to Foxboro for training camp, according to the Boston Herald.

"He was talking about, 'When I go up there (to Foxboro) and they see me again, I want to make sure they know I'm in the best shape of my life.' He is really determined," Fischer said. "That is the underlying theme every day: 'Hey, I've got to be ready when April comes, be ready as far as the best shape of my life.' It's frustrating with two years of freaky-type stuff."

Dobson finished a disappointing 2014 season with three catches for 38 yards.

"He is doing great," Fischer said. "I'm really excited for him. He has put the time and effort into it, comes in early, gets all his work in and he is hungry. There are a few specific things we found, minor little things we're working on, that make his program a little bit unique to everybody else's. Nothing major."


Report: Should be a 'very active market' for Broncos' Julius Thomas
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(8:13 pm ET) Broncos tight end Julius Thomas turned down a five-year, $40 million contract for a reason. That's because it's believed he will have a "very active market" when the new league year begins on March 10, according to NFL.com's Ian Rapoport. 

Two teams that are expected to target Thomas in free agency are the Raiders and Jaguars, both of which need to upgrade considerably at their skill positions to help out their young quarterbacks. The expectation is for Broncos general manager John Elway to let Thomas test the waters in free agency to see what he's offered. 

The Falcons have also reportedly been interested, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's D. Orlando Ledbetter. 

Injuries slowed what was an otherwise fast start to his 2014 season. Thomas' season ended with 489 yards and 12 touchdowns. 


Report: Browns QB Brian Hoyer could be on the way out of Cleveland
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(6:44 pm ET) With the signing of Josh McCown Friday, Browns quarterback Brian Hoyer could be looking elsewhere for employment. Coach Mike Pettine called Hoyer to inform him the team was signing McCown and Hoyer appears ready to move on, according to Albert Breer of the NFL Network.

Hoyer played in 14 games for the Browns in 2014, throwing for 3,326 yards with 12 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. He lost his starting position to Johnny Manziel in Week 15, but was forced back into action after Manziel suffered a season-ending injury.


Quarterback Josh McCown agrees to terms with Browns
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(6:29 pm ET) Free agent quarterback Josh McCown has agreed to terms with the Browns on a contract, according to his agent Mike McCartney. The team later confirmed the report. The deal is reportedly set to have McCown on the Browns for three seasons, according to ESPN.

McCown, who will turn 36 before the season begins, previously visited with the Bills before signing with the Browns. McCown threw for 2,206 yards with 11 touchdowns and 14 interceptions in 2014 with the Buccaneers.


Jets WR Percy Harvin will not accept pay cut
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(6:26 pm ET) Jets receiver Percy Harvin will not agree to a reduction in his 2015 salary, reports CBSSports.com NFL Insider Jason La Canfora. 

Harvin is slated to earn $10.5 million this season, something the Jets cannot afford. Teams around the league are interested signing Harvin to a short-term deal. With his expensive contract, though, the Jets will be hard-pressed to find a suitor interested in trading Harvin. 

The Seahawks traded Harvin to the Jets for a conditional pick during the 2014 season. 


Report: Colts' Wayne undergoes triceps surgery, mulling retirement
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(6:19 pm ET) Colts wide receiver Reggie Wayne underwent surgery Friday to repair his injured triceps, according to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network. Wayne, 36, is beginning rehab for the injury and is reportedly considering retirement, according to Rapoport.

Wayne played in 15 regular season games for the Colts in 2014, totaling 779 yards on 64 catches with two touchdowns.


Dolphins WR Mike Wallace interested in return to Steelers
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(6:13 pm ET) Though the Dolphins are shopping Mike Wallace to prospective suitors, there is one team that is of interest to the speedy receiver. 

According to CBSSports.com NFL Insider Jason La Canfora, Wallace has interest in potentially returning to the Steelers. Of course, the Steelers would have to decide if they'd be willing to take on a contract that's going to have a $12.1 million cap figure for 2015. 

Wallace has underperformed in relation to the five-year, $60 million contract he signed before the 2013 season. He's failed to reach 1,000 yards with the Dolphins in either season after recording that mark twice with the Steelers in his first four NFL seasons. 


Buccaneers' Vincent Jackson not accepting pay cut for 2015
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(6:05 pm ET) Buccaneers wide receiver Vincent Jackson is likely to remain with Tampa Bay this offseason, but he is not willing to accept a pay cut, according to CBSSports.com NFL Insider Jason La Canfora.

Jackson, who was shopped by the team before the trade deadline, is set to make $10 million in base salary and has a $12.2 million cap hit. He totaled 70 catches for 1,002 yards and two touchdowns in 2014.


Falcons' Dan Quinn wants to re-sign Sean Weatherspoon
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(5:40 pm ET) Though Sean Weatherspoon missed most of the past two seasons due to injuries, Falcons coach Dan Quinn is hopeful the franchise can re-sign the standout inside linebacker to a new contract before he hits the free agent market on March 10. 

"With him, it's that toughness and the speed that he can play with so, yes, definitely someone that we're talking to," Quinn said via ESPN.com. "I know he's got that kind of attitude. And you know me, just from watching our style of defense, it's fast and physical. And that's what Sean is. So, we're certainly hoping that he can be a big part of it moving forward."

Weatherspoon played in only seven games during the 2013 season due to a Lisfranc sprain in his foot. He missed all of 2014 due to an Achilles tear. 

Weatherspoon was the Falcons' first-round pick in the 2010 draft. He's totaled 290 tackles, eight sacks and two interceptions during his career. 


 
 
 
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