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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
Texans RB Arian Foster a game-time decision for Sunday
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(5:00 pm ET) A groin injury that prevented Texans featured back Arian Foster from playing in the Week 11 victory at Cleveland has him considered a game-time decision for Sunday when the team hosts Cincinnati.

Foster remains stuck at 822 yards rushing on the season. His absence in Week 12 would leave Week 11 breakout standout Alfred Blue as the top option against the Bengals.


Lions RB Reggie Bush limited Thursday
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(4:38 pm ET) Lions running back Reggie Bush (ankle) was limited in practice Thursday as the team prepared for Sunday's visit to New England. He's expected to play after missing three of the past five games.

Browns CB Gilbert: 'I can make an incredible amount of plays'
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(4:31 pm ET) Browns rookie cornerback and top draft pick Justin Gilbert is hoping to get a chance to show what he can do down the stretch with his team in the thick of the playoff race.

"Within this six-game stretch, I think I can make an incredible amount of plays on the defensive end," he told the Akron Beacon Journal.

Not if he doesn't play. Gilbert was in on zero reps in the Week 11 loss to Houston. He has been a disappointment all season as undrafted free agent K'Waun Williams has wrested playing time away from him.


Saints RB Travaris Cadet sidelined Thursday
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(4:31 pm ET) Saints running back Travaris Cadet did not practice Thursday due to a hamstring injury. The passing-down back could be in jeopardy of missing Monday's game against the Ravens.

Pierre Thomas practicing again, Khiry Robinson still out
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(4:28 pm ET) Saints running back Pierre Thomas (shoulder, rib) practiced on a limited basis Thursday, while running back Khiry Robinson (forearm) remained sidelined. Each has missed four straight games.

Thomas has a chance to play Monday against the Ravens.


Patriots RB Gray accepting of new backfield mate Blount
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(4:02 pm ET) Blossoming Patriots running back Jonas Gray is not complaining that his team has signed LeGarrette Blount despite the fact that the latter will provide competition for reps.

Gray exploded for 201 yards and four touchdowns on the ground in a Week 11 defeat of Indianapolis.

"I wasn't necessarily surprised," Gray told the Boston Herald. "In this business, not a whole lot surprises me, especially given where I've come from. I just prepare the same way. It doesn't really matter who we sign or who we bring in here. I believe in Bill (Belichick) and whatever he's doing and I just come to work every day."


Ravens CB Jimmy Smith confirms Lisfranc injury
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(3:45 pm ET) Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith has confirmed that the issue that resulted in his placement on IR is a Lisfranc injury and that he will be out for about six months.

Smith added that he first believed the problem to be minor and that he was surprised it required surgery, per the Baltimore Sun.


Bucs RB Doug Martin limited Thursday
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(3:39 pm ET) Buccaneers running back Doug Martin (ankle) practiced on a limited basis Thursday, reports the team's website. He has a chance to play Sunday at Chicago after missing three straight games.

Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery back at practice
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(3:32 pm ET) Bears receivers Brandon Marshall (ankle) and Alshon Jeffery (hamstring) returned to practice Thursday, each putting in limited work, reports the Chicago Tribune. Both are on track to play Sunday against the Buccaneers.

Bucs LB Lavonte David nursing hamstring injury
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(3:17 pm ET) Buccaneers linebacker Lavonte David was held out of practice Thursday due to a hamstring injury, reports the Chicago Tribune. He has 116 tackles and two forced fumbles this season.

The Bucs visit the Bears on Sunday.


 
 
 
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