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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
Giants' Bennett Jackson making transition to safety
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(5/23/2015) Giants second-year cornerback Bennett Jackson is spending the offseason transitioning to safety. 

"At the end of the day, I’m a DB,’" Jackson said, per the New York Post. "I think my strengths are cover skills, I got good speed and I got good ball skills. The thing it’s gonna take for me to get out there and make an impact is, I just got to learn the defense and really just communicate the calls fluently."

"It is all in front of him," coach Tom Coughlin said. "We think he can cover. He has done a good job of getting us lined up and then we will see how he plays."


O'Brien impressed with Jadeveon Clowney's work ethic
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(5/23/2015) Texans coach Bill O'Brien has been impressed with the work defensive end Jadeveon Clowney has put in to recover from microfracture surgery in his knee. 

"I've been impressed with the way JD's been working," O'Brien said, per HoustonTexans.com. "He's been out there. He's in early. He's rehabbing. But he's also being able to take part in some of the things that we do in the weight room. He's not able to do all of the things that we do on the field just yet, because of his rehab. But he's on the right track."


AJ McCarron throwing deep for Bengals
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(5/23/2015) Bengals quarterback AJ McCarron has recovered from the shoulder soreness that bothered him for most of his rookie year. 

McCarron is now throwing deep again. "I feel great," McCarron said, per the Cincinnati Enquirer. "Body feels great and I feel like I'm slinging it better than I ever have, really."


Brooks Reed injured, may miss time at Falcons' OTAs
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(5/23/2015) Falcons linebacker Brooks Reed suffered a groin injury during the recently-completed voluntary minicamp, per ESPN.

The injury was termed "minor", but it still might keep Reed from full participation in the Falcons' upcoming OTAs, which start Tuesday. 


GM: EJ Manuel on 'equal footing' with Bills' other QBs
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(5/23/2015) Bills general manager Doug Whaley denied reports that the team is moving on from quarterback EJ Manuel

The team acquired Matt Cassel and Tyrod Taylor in the offseason.

In an interview with Jim Rome, Whaley said, "I look at it this way, in this business controversy sells,. The more controversy that you can drum up then the more intereste people are going to be."

"For us we’re excited about the future of all three of those guys," Whaley said. "It’s going to be a great competition. And we can keep three quarterbacks. So I dismiss that as just someone trying to get something stirred during this down time and lack of media stories for the NFL." 

Whaley said all three quarterbacks have an equal shot of winning the starting job. 

"I look for him to come in and compete and try to take the job," he said. "Everybody has got an equal footing. It’s a clean slate for all four of our quarterbacks. We’re not tied to anybody. We just want the best man to start."


Bengals' Vontaze Burfict may start year on PUP
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(5/23/2015) Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict's rehab may not be progressing as quickly as the team had hoped.

Burfict had microfracture knee surgery and initial post-surgery reports said that he could be recovered by the start of training camp. 

This week, the team's website said that Burfict's status was "up in the air" and that a return by the start of the season would be a "tight call".

If Burfict isn't ready by the opener, the Bengals may choose to put him on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list. 


So far, so good for Texans rookie CB Kevin Johnson
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(5/23/2015) First impressions aren't necessarily important for first-round picks in the NFL. They are far more critical to lower selections and undrafted free agents who desperately need to raise a few eyebrows immediately lest they be back out looking for work.

But whether necessary or not, Texans first-rounder Kevin Johnson is making one heck of a first impression on Bill O'Brien. The clornerback opened some eyes at minicamp.

"This is a guy that's a very quick guy," O'Brien said. "He's a tall guy. He's a guy that has really good transition ability. He's got what I call really good recover transition. If he's getting beat, he can stick his foot in the ground and really make up a lot of ground.

"He's a very bright player. If you ask him questions in the morning meeting, he really has obviously studied the night before. He's working out on his own and doing things to help stay up on material that's being installed."

Johnson believes he needs to do the little things right to make a big impact in his rookie year.

"From the training room to the classroom to the film study, everything is just more detailed," he told the team website. "I'm just trying to take it all in and use everything around here and just get better."


Bears CB Tim Jennings could transition into slot role
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(5/23/2015) Bears cornerback Tim Jennings is "still trying to figure out" where he will fit into the secondary this season, the Chicago Tribune is reporting.

The nine-year veteran, who is entering his sixth season in the Windy City, has 95 career starts and led the league in interceptions in 2012. He is even a two-time Pro Bowler. But he spent significant time as the slot corner in minicamp. That's an unsatisfying role for him that he just might be forced to embrace.

Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio prefers his outside corners tall and physical. Jennings is 5-8, 185 pounds. He might still earn an outside role opposite Kyle Fuller, but do achieve that goal he must at the very least outperform free agent pickup Alan Ball, who better fits the ideal description.

If the words of new coach John Fox are any indication, that's unlikely to happen.

"Dimension-wise, he's built like a nickel corner," Fox said. "He's played it before."

Jennings has started all but three games over the last seven years.


Report: Cardinals' Daryl Washington unsure of NFL standing
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(5/22/2015) Cardinals linebacker Daryl Washington is approaching the one-year mark for his suspension though his NFL status is still in limbo. 

But according to a report from FOX Sports 910 in Phoenix, Washington is unsure about his status with the league. He was suspended a year ago on May 30, 2014 for being a multiple offender of the NFL's substance-abuse policy. 

However, he was expected to apply for reinstatement a month ago but did not do so. 

Assuming Washington is reinstated to the NFL at some point he will likely be subjected to punishment under the NFL's domestic violence policy. On March 24, 2014, he pleaded guilty to assaulting his ex-girlfriend. 


Titans' Massaquoi rehabbing shoulder, to miss OTA's
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(5/22/2015) Outside linebacker Jonathan Massaquoi will not participate in the Titans' first organized team activities, per ESPN.com.

Massaquoi, who was claimed off waivers from the Falcons earlier this year, is recovering from shoulder surgery. He had a bone spur removed from the area, but the procedure was categorized as a minor cleanup.

Massaquoi recorded 22 tackles in 15 games with Atlanta last season.


 
 
 
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