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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
Reggie Bush says he doesn't plan to retire
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(6:31 pm ET) Three days after being released by the Lions, RB Reggie Bush said he has no plans to retire. 

TMZ reporters confronted Bush outside a Beverly Hills restaurant and asked if Bush, who turns 30 on Monday, was going to quit football. Bush responded with, "No." 

Bush rushed for 297 yards and two touchdowns last season. 


Report: Cowboys to let DeMarco Murray test free agency
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(6:06 pm ET) The Cowboys will let RB DeMarco Murray test the free-agent market, according to a report from Fox Sports Southwest

Cowboys VP Stephen Jones said that negotiations with Murray's agents have been "slow". 

Jones said that Murray "is probably going to get some peace and see what's out in the market, and then we'll talk and see. I do believe deep down he'd love to stay in Dallas."

Murray rushed for 1,845 yards and 13 touchdowns last season. 


Report: Cowboys to use franchise tag on Dez Bryant
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(5:15 pm ET) The Cowboys will use the franchise tag on WR Dez Bryant on Monday, according to a report by Fox Sports Southwest

The team has been trying to negotiate a long-term contract with Bryant, a free-agent to be. If a deal can't be made by Monday's franchise tag deadline, the Cowboys will use the tag to keep Bryant a Cowboy. 

"I still think that (it) would be a stretch to think that we would have something done by Monday and beat the franchise-tag deadline," Cowboys VP Stephen Jones told Fox. "Looks like we're eyeing a franchise tag on Dez, but certainly won't stop us from working hard to get a long-term deal. ... We just don't want to lose his rights."

Bryant had 88 catches for 1,320 yards and 16 touchdowns last year. 


QB Josh McCown's contract with Browns worth $14 million
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(4:46 pm ET) Quarterback Josh McCown's deal with the Browns will pay $14 million over three years, a league source told CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora.

With incentives related to playing time and playoff berths, McCown could earn $20 million over the course of the deal.

McCown will earn $6.25 million in fully guaranteed money, with $5.25 million of it coming in the first year of the deal.


Report: Panthers won't re-sign Greg Hardy
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(3:18 pm ET) Panthers DE Greg Hardy is scheduled to become a free agent on March 10. He missed most of last season while appealing his conviction for domestic violence. 

Even though the charges were dropped on appeal, the Panthers have no intention of bringing Hardy back, multiple league sources told BlackandBlueReview.com's Bill Voth


Texans' Brian Cushing has had three offseason surgeries
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(3:15 pm ET) Texans LB Brian Cushing has had three surgeries since the end of the season. 

In a public appearance on Saturday, Cushing told the Houston Chronicle's John McClain that he's had surgery on his broken right wrist as well as arthroscopic procedures on his left knee and left ankle. 

"It’s not uncommon for stuff like that to happen," he said of the two arthroscopic surgeries. "It’s just little things here and there, the residual effects of two major surgeries and injuries, the wear and tear of playing throughout the season. There were still some things bothering me a little bit. Just went in there and had real good success in both areas."

Cushing has a cast on his wrist. “It’s coming along real well,” he said. “I’m going to start working out a little bit. From a pain standpoint, there’s really nothing going on there. I’m real happy about that. I’m real happy to get the cast off and start doing some physical therapy on it, and I don’t have to worry about it anymore."


Report: 49ers to release wide receiver Steve Johnson
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(11:34 am ET) The 49ers are expected to release wide receiver Steve Johnson, according to Dianna Marie Russini of NBC Washington D.C.

The move will reportedly save the team $5.5 million in cap space. Johnson had 35 catches for 435 yards and three touchdowns in 13 games last season.


Patriots running back Stevan Ridley: 'I have something to prove'
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(2/27/2015) 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
(2/27/2015) 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
(2/27/2015) 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. 


 
 
 
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