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Postseason Extra: Charles back in charge?

Senior Fantasy Writer
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This is a great time to be an NFL fan. The playoffs have started, coaching changes are happening and soon we'll get into more personnel decisions for your favorite team.

We'll address the playoff action and the latest news in the NFL each week leading up to the Super Bowl with a Playoff Stockwatch. We want to keep you up to date on how all the action and offseason moves can impact your Fantasy league heading into the 2013 season.

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For example, what will Andy Reid's hiring do for Jamaal Charles? Where should you draft Maurice Jones-Drew following foot surgery? And who would you trust more on Draft Day, Ray Rice or Marshawn Lynch?

Those are some of the topics we'll look at with five guys who have improved their draft value for next year and five guys who might see their value decline.

Five on the rise

Jamaal Charles, RB, Chiefs: Charles just had an amazing year in 2012. Coming off a torn ACL, he set career highs in carries (285) and rushing yards (1,509) despite having three games with fewer than 10 carries. When he had 17 or more carries, which happened nine times, he finished with double digits in Fantasy points. He also showed his explosiveness with two games with at least 226 rushing yards. Now he gets Reid as his head coach, and he could turn Charles into a beast. While Reid was in Philadelphia he had three primary running backs in Duce Staley, Brian Westbrook and LeSean McCoy. That trio combined for six 1,000-yard rushing seasons, seven 1,500 total-yard seasons, nine seasons with at least 50 catches and five seasons with 10 total touchdowns. It all adds up to Charles being a slam-dunk first-round pick in 2013, and he could have a career year.

DuJuan Harris, Packers: Harris was the best running back for the Packers in their Wild Card win over Minnesota with 17 carries for 47 yards and a touchdown and five catches for 53 yards. He now has at least eight Fantasy points in four of his past five games and might be auditioning for a bigger role in 2013. The Packers need to fix their running game and could have interest in potential free agents like Steven Jackson and DeAngelo Williams, but right now the only running backs under contract next season are James Starks, Alex Green, Brandon Saine and Harris with Cedric Benson and Ryan Grant set to be free agents (we don't include John Kuhn in this group since he's more of a fullback). If they stick with those four next year then consider Harris a sleeper and worthy of a late-round pick. The former man of Troy was added off the practice squad in December and has made the most of his opportunity so far.

Marshawn Lynch, RB, Seahawks: Lynch had a monster Wild Card game against the Redskins with 20 carries for 132 yards and a touchdown, one catch for 9 yards and a lost fumble. He finished 2012 with five games in a row with double digits in Fantasy points and nine of his past 10, and in two years as the starter for Seattle he has scored 25 total touchdowns with over 1,400 total yards in each season. If he can avoid a suspension from last year's DUI arrest in July -- the matter has yet to be resolved -- then he should be the No. 3 running back drafted behind Adrian Peterson and Arian Foster in standard leagues. You can debate all you want about how good Rice is, the potential of Doug Martin and Trent Richardson or the upside for guys like Charles or C.J. Spiller, but Lynch has been unstoppable with the Seahawks. Lynch is definitely a Top 5 overall pick, and if he's guaranteed the chance to play all 16 games then draft him at No. 3.

C.J. Spiller, RB, Bills: There are three things working in Spiller's favor heading into 2013. The first is the hiring of Doug Marrone as the head coach from Syracuse. He is an offensive-minded coach and likes to involve his running backs. As the offensive coordinator for the Saints from 2006-08, Reggie Bush averaged 71 catches a season, and New Orleans also had at least 392 rushing attempts a year over that span. It also appears like Fred Jackson might be gone from Buffalo. He'll be 32 next year and indicated his knee is still not 100 percent. The Bills could cut Jackson to save money since he's due $2.15 million in base salary next year plus a $300,000 roster bonus in March. Along with that, Spiller is pretty explosive. He averaged 6.0 yards per carry, 10.7 yards per catch and had more than 1,700 total yards with eight touchdowns. He had double digits in Fantasy points in seven of his final eight games, and he should be drafted in the first round in all leagues -- with a Top 5 overall selection in PPR formats.

Russell Wilson, QB, Seahawks: Wilson is the last rookie quarterback alive in the playoffs after he led the Seahawks to a 24-14 Wild Card win at the Redskins. He had 187 passing yards and a touchdown, eight carries for 67 yards and a two-point conversion, which is 21 Fantasy points. He now has at least 20 Fantasy points in eight of his past nine games, with the lone exception being Week 14 against Arizona when he barely played in a blowout victory. Wilson is legitimizing himself as a starting Fantasy quarterback for 2013. We recently broke down our initial Top 15 quarterbacks for next year, and you can see that my colleague Dave Richard and I both like Wilson as a starting Fantasy option. He definitely needs to be paired with a solid No. 2 Fantasy quarterback, but if you want to wait until Round 7 or 8 to draft a quarterback then Wilson could prove to be tremendous value.

Five on the decline

Ahmad Bradshaw, RB, Giants: There is a chance the Giants could be parting ways with Bradshaw after comments he made after the season and what general manager Jerry Reese said about rookie running back David Wilson. Bradshaw, who is scheduled to make $3.75 million in 2013, said when cleaning out his locker "you never know who is going to be back next season, including me." Following that, Reese said that Wilson could be the "lead dog" in the backfield. We'd be surprised if Bradshaw was released, but it's clear he's headed for at least a 50-50 split with Wilson. And if Andre Brown returns then that will further lower Bradshaw's value -- if he's still with the Giants. You might want to avoid Bradshaw on Draft Day in 2013 and instead target Wilson with a pick in Round 5 in standard formats.

Andy Dalton, QB, Bengals: Dalton was miserable in the Wild Card playoff loss at the Texans with 127 passing yards, no touchdowns and one interception and four carries for 15 yards. Since Mohammed Sanu (foot) got hurt in Week 12, Dalton hasn't had more than 16 Fantasy points. He's missing a third receiving option after A.J. Green and Jermaine Gresham, and he's showing his flaws as an inconsistent quarterback. Getting Sanu back at 100 percent in 2013 will help, and Dalton had at least 25 Fantasy points in seven games last year. But he's better off being viewed as a No. 2 Fantasy quarterback and someone you can pair with a low-end starting option (Wilson for example). You should not reach for Dalton before Round 11 or 12 in most formats.

Robert Griffin III, QB, Redskins: I had some concern about Griffin before the Wild Card loss to the Seahawks, and now this knee injury only complicates matters. We'll find out the extent of the damage, but hopefully he will be fine for the start of the 2013 season. Prior to getting hurt -- and he was initially injured in Week 14 against Baltimore -- he was showing some flaws. He had just two games with more than 19 Fantasy points since Week 7, and both of those came against two weak defenses in Philadelphia and Dallas. When he saw the Eagles and Cowboys the second time around, they both held him to 17 points or less. Now, Griffin has plenty of talent, and he is worth drafting as a No. 1 Fantasy option in all leagues. But don't overvalue him and draft him before Round 4. And based on what we've seen with his knee and his small stature you better invest heavily in a top-end No. 2 quarterback to cover yourself in case he misses time.

Maurice Jones-Drew, RB, Jaguars: Jones-Drew decided to wait until December to have foot surgery after he was initially injured two months earlier. He hoped to come back and play in 2012 after going down in Week 7, but now the surgery will keep him out of action until at least May. While he is expected to be fine for the start of the season, we'll have to keep an eye on his status. He went from being a definite bounce-back candidate to someone who could be a downer on your Fantasy team, much like he was in 2012. We would draft Jones-Drew in Round 2 if all the reports on his foot are positive by training camp. But if his rehab lingers into August then the earliest you should gamble on Jones-Drew would be Round 3 in most leagues.

Ray Rice, RB, Ravens: Rice's value is only on the decline slightly. He remains an elite Fantasy running back and in 2012 he had 10 total touchdowns, which was the second-best mark in his career. But since becoming the full-time starter in 2009, this was Rice's worst year in rushing yards (1,143), catches (61) and receiving yards (478). The Ravens also might want to keep Bernard Pierce more involved, and Pierce was better than Rice in the Wild Card victory against the Colts. Rice had 15 carries for 70 yards and one catch for 47 yards with two lost fumbles. Pierce had 13 carries for 103 yards, and maybe the Ravens want more of a tandem in their backfield in 2013. Rice is still worth drafting as a Top 5 overall pick, but he might be slipping a little depending on how much you like Lynch, Charles, Spiller or McCoy. We want to see Rice setting career highs in 2013 and not talking about career lows for the second year in a row.

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.

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Player News
So far, so good for Texans rookie CB Kevin Johnson
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(10:49 am ET) 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
(10:36 am ET) 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.


Entering third season, 49ers' Lawrence Okoye eyeing roster spot
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(5/22/2015) This might finally be the year Lawrence Okoye can crack a spot on the 49ers' roster, per the Bay Area News Group.

Okoye, a former British Olympics discus thrower and rugby player, is feeling confident about his improvements and feels like his potential is worth a roster spot.

“It’s very different from the first time I came here. I’m feeling very good about things,” Okoye said Thursday while sitting at his locker. “I’m just happy I was given the opportunity to stay here so long, so I could catch up. I have a good opportunity to show what I can do.”

Okoye has worked under new head coach Jim Tomsula for two years and with Justin Smith's retirement, his emergence might be rewarded.

“You’re going to get lots of people telling you things. But the main thing is to just keep yourself motivated, despite what people say about you," Okoye said. "People will write you off. People will say this or that. Just keep yourself motivated, keep going every day and you’ll be good.”

 


Bengals' Terrelle Pryor still dreams about winning it all
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(5/22/2015) Terrelle Pryor's chances of taking the Bengals to the Super Bowl and winning it are slim, but that won’t stop him from dreaming.

Pryor -- in his fourth year in the league -- dreams about winning the Super Bowl with quite some frequency, he just isn't sure what team he's doing it with.

“I don’t know the team. It’s always in black uniforms,” Pryor said. “I didn’t see any orange. No, it’s not the Raiders. But I believe it can happen because I can visualize it like that. I’m into visualization.”

Pryor hasn't played a down since the 2013 regular season, when he passed for 1,798 yards, seven touchdowns and 11 interceptions in 11 games.


Flowers' college position coach thinks he can fill in for injured Beatty
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(5/22/2015) Things are moving really fast for Giants offensive lineman Ereck Flowers. The eighth overall pick in the draft, because of an injury to Will Beatty, might have inherited a huge workload this season, per nj.com.

Art Kehoe, Flowers' offensive line coach at the University of Miami, thinks Flowers will be up to the task of protecting quarterback Eli Manning.

"I'm sure he raised his level up a notch or two, but I think he plays every week, I think he plays hard in practice," Kehoe said. "He's an unproven commodity at the next level, and he's a high draft pick, [the Giants] drafted him to be a fixer, so I'm sure he's going in there to do what he did in Miami — scrap his ass off every day in practice, and if you're supposed to be a badass the next weekend [against] your opponent, he's gonna be there and he's gonna bring everything he's got. That's what he does. He wants to know that there's a dude, and he has to take care of him, and he'll be up to the challenge.

Giants' 2013 first-round pick, Justin Pugh is also a top candidate to fill in for the injured Beatty.


Union: Goodell must back off hearing of Patriots QB Tom Brady
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(5/22/2015) NFLPA head DeMaurice Smith is growing impatient awaiting word from Roger Goodell on the request of the NFL commissioner to recuse himself as arbitrator of the appeal hearings ofPatriots quarterback Tom Brady.

The league suspended Brady for the first four games next season for his alleged role in the Deflategate scandal, claiming that he likely knew that game balls were being deflated for his benefit before the 2014 AFC title game.

Smith is claiming that neither Goodell nor the Wells Report, which investigated the incident, could legitimately claim impartiality. He added that the NFLPA will "advance the volume" of the request if they don't hear from Goodell by next week. Part of the union's press release reads as follows:

Given a process that has contained procedural violations of our collective bargaining agreement, the Commissioner's role as a central witness in the appeal hearing and his evident partiality with respect to the Wells report, the Commissioner must designate a neutral party to serve as arbitrator in this matter. The players also believe that the Commissioner's history of inconsistently issuing discipline against our players makes him ill-suited to hear this appeal in a fair-minded manner.

As for the Wells Report, Smith stated that "you can't really have credibility just because you slap the word independent on a piece of paper." He offered into evidence the findings in regard to NFL official Walt Anderson, who was a key figure in the investigation, citing one part of the report questions his memory and another credits it.


Zimmer happy with progress of Vikings WR Cordarrelle Patterson
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(5/22/2015) Mike Zimmer has expressed optimism that underachieving Vikings wideout Cordarrelle Patterson is gaining a better understanding of route-running and the nuances of playing the position in the NFL, which would allow his talent to result in greater productivity.

Patterson took a step back in 2014 after a mediocre rookie year. He played in every game, but managed just 33 receptions for 384 yards and one touchdown. He has since stated that 2015 is his make-or-break year and is apparently acting like it in the offseason.

"He's done real well," Zimmer told Fox Sports North. "He's running routes good. He's working hard. So we just need him to continue to do those things and continue to keep getting consistent and keep improving. I've been impressed."


GM: Dolphins LT Branden Albert should be fine for Week 1
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(5/22/2015) Dolphins general manager Dennis Hickey has expressed optimism that left tackle Branden Albert will be ready to roll by the regular season opener.

Albert has been rehabbing from a torn ACL and MCL sustained last November against Detroit. He had signed a five-year, $46 million contract the previous March and had been performing particularly well before going down.

"It's been a long rehab and he's really attacked it every day," Hickey told SiriusXM NFL Radio, adding that there was a "reasonable explanation" that he would be ready for Week 1. "We really like his progress. He's out there with his team working out. We're really encouraged by what we're seeing with him."

Ja'Wuan Williams was forced to move to left tackle following the Albert injury in 2014. But he struggled at that position and is expected to move to his more familiar right tackle spot this year.


 
 
 
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