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CBSSports.com Playoff Challenge preview

Senior Fantasy Writer
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The regular season might be over, but the Fantasy fun doesn't have to stop. You can still keep those competitive Fantasy juices going in our Playoff Challenge (click here to learn more).

It's a simple game, really, that's fun for everyone, especially if you love Fantasy Football. You get 300 units to set your lineup, which consists of eight players (QB, 2 RB, 2 WR, TE, K and DST). You are allowed eight moves throughout the playoffs, and the scoring is standard.

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The goal is to choose players who will play in as many games as possible through the four rounds of the playoffs: Wild Card, Divisional, Conference and Super Bowl. The key is making as few moves as possible to save transactions for the end.

The fun of setting your lineup is trying to figure out who will advance in each round, ultimately choosing a Super Bowl winner. The key to winning in this game is not just being a good Fantasy owner, but you also have to be knowledgeable in picking games. And you have to be a little lucky.

You want to choose teams with the chance to play four games to maximize points, and since 2000 there have been eight different teams -- Giants (2011), Packers (2010), Cardinals (2008), Giants (2007), Colts (2006), Steelers (2005), Panthers (2003) and Ravens (2000) -- to play in the Wild Card round and reach the Super Bowl. Six of those teams actually won it all with the Giants twice, Packers, Colts, Steelers and Ravens.

Last year, for example, if you had Eli Manning and Hakeem Nicks you had a pretty good chance of winning as they dominated the postseason. Who will do that this year?

My Wild Card lineup is as follows:

Quarterback: Aaron Rodgers, Packers -- 82 units
Running back: Arian Foster, Texans -- 68 units
Running back: DuJuan Harris, Packers -- 7 units
Wide receiver: Greg Jennings, Packers -- 39 units
Wide receiver: Torrey Smith, Ravens -- 36 units
Tight end: Jermaine Gresham, Bengals -- 17 units
Kicker: Kai Forbath, Redskins -- 17 units
DST: Ravens -- 30 units

The total is 296 units, and I'm counting on Green Bay beating Minnesota, which is why I went with three Packers. Rodgers is a must at quarterback because Green Bay could easily make it to the Super Bowl from the Wild Card round, and he should have plenty of success. He is getting hot at the right time with 11 total touchdowns in his past three games with no interceptions and an average of 333 passing yards over that span.

I went with Jennings as the Packers receiver of choice even though Randall Cobb (44 units), Jordy Nelson (41) and James Jones (40) are within the same range. Jennings, as you know, just scored twice against Minnesota in Week 17. He was also targeted a team-high 12 times and now has seven touchdowns in his past five meetings with the Vikings. Cobb also is dealing with injuries to his ankle and knee.

At running back, Harris is the No. 2 choice for two reasons: cost and effectiveness. He is the best buy at seven units, especially since he has at least eight Fantasy points in three of his past four games, including 14 carries for 70 yards and two catches for 17 yards against the Vikings in Week 17. The Packers don't have a true running back, but he's worth the gamble based on his price.

I also expect the Ravens to beat the Colts, which is why I went with Smith and the Ravens DST. Smith has seven touchdowns at home this year, and No. 1 receivers have done serious damage against the Colts with 12 reaching double digits in Fantasy points. The Colts have also allowed four of the past seven DST options to reach at least 12 Fantasy points, and the Ravens should get linebacker Ray Lewis (triceps) back.

I'm torn on the Bengals-Texans and Seahawks-Redskins. I went with Foster at running back because even in one game he should do well. He scored double digits in Fantasy points in all but one game this year with 17 total touchdowns. Last year against the Bengals in the Wild Card round -- with T.J. Yates at quarterback -- he had 24 carries for 153 yards and two touchdowns and three catches for 29 yards. And Gresham, despite his recent struggles, is facing a Texans defense that has allowed five touchdowns to tight ends in the past four games.

Forbath was my kicker because of cost at 17 units, and I took him at home with the chance the Redskins keep their seven-game winning streak alive. He also has at least eight Fantasy points in three of his past four games.

We'll continue to update you on the Playoff Challenge each week and also look players who are improving their Fantasy value for 2013 with strong postseason performances. Like we said, just because the regular season is over doesn't mean the Fantasy fun should stop.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us via Twitter @CBSFantasyFB . You can also follow Jamey at @JameyEisenberg and on Facebook .

Get player news notifications, manage your team and check scores
- all updated in real time. Download the CBS Fantasy App.

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Player News
Report: Jacoby Jones signs two-year deal with Chargers
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(1:03 pm ET) Former Ravens wide receiver and kick returner Jacoby Jones has signed a two-year deal with the Chargers, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.

Jones, 30, was released by the Ravens last week before he visited the Bengals, Titans and Chargers. He made several key plays during the Ravens' second championship run, including two touchdowns in Super Bowl XLVII. His 70-yard touchdown grab in the divisional round against Denver helped force overtime. Baltimore eventually won that game, 38-35, en route to Super Bowl XLVII.

Jones had nine receptions for 131 yards and six first downs in 2014, but averaged 30 yards per kick return. He has returned five kickoffs and four punts for touchdowns in his career.


Report: Saints keep safety Jamarca Sanford for another year
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(12:56 pm ET) The Saints have re-signed safety Jamarca Sanford to a one-year deal on Friday, according to hi agent Drew Rosenhaus, per Pro Football Talk. Sanford was due to become a free agent on Tuesday before New Orleans locked him down. Details of the contract were not made public at the time.

Sanford, 29, registered 10 tackles in New Orleans' season finale against Tampa Bay last season. He finished the year with 16 tackles and two stuffs between the Redskins and Saints last year. He has one sack and two interceptions over his six-year NFL career.


Report: Tajh Boyd signs with the Steelers
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(12:50 pm ET) The Steelers have come to terms on a deal with former Clemson University quarterback Tajh Boyd on Friday, according to Mark Kaboly of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

Boyd was a sixth-round pick by the Jets last year, and was cut in training camp. The 24-year-old spent last year playing in the Fall Experimental Football League before rejoining the NFL.


Redskins bring back tight end Niles Paul on three-year deal
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(12:11 pm ET) Redskins have re-signed tight end Niles Paul to a three-year deal worth approximately $10 million, per CBSSports.com NFL Insider Jason La Canfora reports.

Paul, 25, caught 39 passes for 507 yards and one touchdown last season. He has 735 career receiving yards and two scores since joining the league in 2011.


Report: Bears re-sign QB Jimmy Clausen
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(12:06 pm ET) The Bears have re-signed quarterback Jimmy Clausen on Friday, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.

New Bears coach John Fox drafted Clausen in 2010 when he was in charge of the Panthers. The new Chicago front office are reportedly uncertain of Jay Cutler's future with the club, so Clausen's role with the team remains to be seen.

Clausen, 27, got the start over Cutler in Week 16 before suffering a concussion. He completed 23 of 39 passes for 181 yards, two touchdowns and one interception, and was unable to play the season finale.


Lions lock up kicker Matt Prater to three-year deal
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(11:59 am ET) The Lions have signed kicker Matt Prater to a three-year deal on Friday, per the team's official website. Terms of the deal were not made public.

Prater was signed to a one-year deal after being cut by the Broncos on Oct. 3. He converted 21 of 26 field goals in 11 games for the Lions in 2014. Prater noted in January that he would like to return to Detroit in 2015, and now his wish has come to fruition.


Percy Harvin's days with the Jets are numbered
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(11:55 am ET) With Brandon Marshall reportedly traded to the Jets, it appears as if Percy Harvin's days in New York are numbered. According to CBSSports.com NFL Insider Jason la Canfora, the Jets are expected to part ways with Harvin.

Harvin, who reportedly refused a reduction in his 2015 salary, was slated to make $10.5 million next season. The 26-year-old Harvin hauled in 29 passes for 350 yards after joining New York in the middle of the 2014 season. The Jets traded a fifth-round pick for Marshall, and will owe Seattle a sixth-round selection if they cut ties with Harvin.


Bears agree to trade WR Brandon Marshall to the Jets
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(11:13 am ET) The Brandon Marshall era in Chicago has come to an end.

After it was reported earlier in the week that the Bears were shopping the veteran wide receiver, Chicago finally decided to move the embattled wideout. They agreed to trade Marshall to the Jets for a fifth-round draft pick on Friday, according to CBSSports.com NFL Insider Jason La Canfora. The move is pending a physical.

Marshall, 30, grabbed 61 receptions for 721 yards and eight touchdowns in 13 games during the 2014 season. he has 773 career receptions, which is the most by any active platyer without a playoff apeparance. He is due to make $7.7 million in 2015 and is under contract through 2017.

He will be reunited with new Jets coach Todd Bowles, who was the assistant coach of Miami 2010-11 when Marshall was a member of the Dolphins.


Report: Dolphins confident they will land DT Ndamukong Suh
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(10:56 am ET) The Dolphins will be calling Jimmy Sexton to discuss their interest in signing Ndamukong Suh once free agency begins. According to Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald, the Dolphins remain confident about their chances of landing Suh.

The impending free agent is scheduled to visit the Raiders next week. Outside of Miami and Oakland, the Colts, Jaguars, Giants, Redskins and the Lions have all reportedly expressed interested in Suh. According to Omar Kelly of the Sun-Sentinel earlier this week, owner Steve Ross may be prepared to make a high bid on Suh, who could sign the largest deal by a non-quarterback in NFL history. Kelly noted that rival executives believe that Suh to Miami is a "done deal."

Suh is coming off a contract that paid him over $12 million annually, and will likely command a $100-plus contract once he hits the open market. The No. 2 overall pick in the 2010 draft completed his fifth season in the NFL with the Lions. He has totaled 181 tackles, 36 sacks and one interception in his career.


Report: Saints restructure Marques Colston's contract
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(10:40 am ET) It appears as if Marques Colston will be staying put with the Saints. According to Mike Garafolo of FOX Sports, Colston has reportedly restructured his contract for the 2015 season.

Details of his restructured contract were not made public. Colston was set to make $6.9 million and count $9.7 million against the cap in 2015. Last season he caught 59 passes for 902 yards.


 
 
 
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