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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
Darren McFadden a worthy start?
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(6:13 pm ET) Thanks to a season-high 80 rushing yards in one game and a rushing touchdown in the other, Raiders running back Darren McFadden has been at least passable in Fantasy the last couple weeks. In Week 8, he has a rare opportunity to be something more than that.

The Raiders are visiting the Browns, who rank dead last against the run, allowing 155.5 yards per game and 5.0 yards per carry. They were responsible for Denard Robinson's breakthrough 127-yard performance in Week 7 and Lorenzo Taliaferro's 91-yard effort that got everyone so excited back in Week 3. The Browns also don't have such an explosive offense that the Raiders will be forced to pass all day.

McFadden has a good enough chance of delivering respectable numbers that you should at least pay him a second thought as a flex option in a standard 12-team league. Both Jamey Eisenberg and Dave Richard rank him among their top 24 running backs for this week.


Raiders looking to get Maurice Jones-Drew more snaps
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(6:03 pm ET) The Raiders are looking to get running back Maurice Jones-Drew more snaps, according to the San Francisco Chronicle

Coach Tony Sparano said the club needs to start involving Jones-Drew more. Jones-Drew had hand surgery earlier this season, but Sparano said he's "as healthy now as he's been." Jones-Drew received just three carries Week 7. 


Colts RB Trent Richardson unable to go Thursday
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(5:59 pm ET) Colts running back Trent Richardson was unable to practice Thursday.

Richardson was expected to be back on the practice field, so the move comes as a surprise. Richardson is dealing with a hamstring injury. His status will be determined based on whether he can get out on the practice field Friday. 


Doug Martin at least has matchup going for him
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(5:55 pm ET) Chances are most Doug Martin owners didn't really miss him with the Buccaneers on bye in Week 7. He has yet to rush for more than 45 yards in the four games he's played this season, and he's scored just one touchdown.

But for better or worse, he remains the Buccaneers' go-to running back, and that role keeps him relevant enough in Fantasy that you shouldn't ignore him when he has a favorable matchup. And he has such a matchup Week 8 against Minnesota.

The Vikings rank 19th against the run, allowing 118.1 yards per game, and have surrendered the sixth-most Fantasy points per game to running backs. Like the Buccaneers, their offense is a work in progress with an inexperienced quarterback at the helm, so they may not force the Buccaneers' into catchup mode so early, allowing Martin to get more than his usual dozen or so carries.

You're probably still not excited about starting Martin this week, but if you don't like your other options for the flex spot, he may be your best choice.


Texans refuse to rule out Brian Cushing yet
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(5:53 pm ET) The Texans have not ruled out linebacker Brian Cushing just yet, according to ESPN.

Cushing missed practice for the second straight day Thursday, but coach Bill O'Brien wasn't willing to rule him out for Week 8. "He's day to day," O'Brien said. "We'll see how he is tomorrow. We'll bring him to Tennessee and see how he is before the game."

O'Brien also denied a previous report that Cushing would be out until after the team's bye week. Cushing is dealing with a knee injury.


Jerick McKinnon a clear start for once
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(5:45 pm ET) You may have been tempted to start Vikings running back Jerick McKinnon in Week 7 after he appeared to wrestle the starting job away from Matt Asiata in Week 6, but a bad matchup coupled with a shortage of information made it too risky to justify in most leagues. But after he once again carried the load with 19 rushes for 103 yards -- and against the Bills, no less -- the time has come to activate McKinnon in Fantasy.

And you couldn't ask for a better matchup for it. In Week 8, the Vikings visit the Buccaneers, who rank 25th against the run, allowing 128.3 yards per game. Prior to their bye in Week 7, they gave up 172 yards to the Ravens' trio of Justin Forsett, Bernard Pierce and Lorenzo Taliaferro in Week 6 and 124 yards to the Saints' duo of Khiry Robinson and Pierre Thomas in Week 5. Not exactly household names there.

McKinnon might have more potential than all of them, if only because he has the role mostly to himself. Of course, you'd like to see the Vikings put him in a position to score, but the yardage potential alone makes him worth starting in all Fantasy leagues. Keep in mind the Buccaneers have surrendered the fourth-most Fantasy points per game to running backs this season.


Denard Robinson looking more like a Week 8 sleeper
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(5:32 pm ET) With the news Thursday that Week 7 breakout Denard Robinson will get the bulk of the carries Week 8 against Miami even with the return of Toby Gerhart from a sprained foot, Robinson goes from a shaky start in Fantasy to at least a decent one.

Working behind the same offensive line with the same supporting cast that has reduced Toby Gerhart, Storm Johnson and Jordan Todman to a combined 2.7 yards per carry this season, Robinson had 127 yards on 22 carries in Week 7. Granted, that was with an especially favorable matchup against the Browns, who rank 32nd against the run, and this is with a not so favorable matchup against the Dolphins, who rank 10th. But still, a running back with a big workload is a valuable thing.

Before that news, Jamey Eisenberg and Dave Richard barely had Denard Robinson in their top 30 running backs for Week 8, but with it, he jumps to about 20th for me, ahead of Doug Martin, Tre Mason and Chris Ivory, among others.


Report: Broncos cut safety Boyett from practice squad
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(5:31 pm ET) The Broncos have parted ways with safety John Boyett, according to the Baltimore Sun.

Boyett was arrested for misdemeanor battery, and the team quickly decided to part ways with him after looking into the situation. Boyett was on the team's practice squad, and did not appear with the club this season.


Vikings C John Sullivan passes concussion protocol
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(5:28 pm ET) Vikings center John Sullivan passed the league's concussion protocol and is on track to play Week 8 against Tampa Bay, according to ESPN. Sullivan was a limited participant in practice Thursday, but coach Mike Zimmer told reporters he "did everything."

Cardinals DE Calais Campbel limited in practice Thursday
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(5:20 pm ET) Cardinals defensive end Calais Campbell practiced in a limited capacity Thursday, according to the team's official website. He has missed the last two games after suffering a Grade 2 MCL sprain against Denver in Week 5. Campbell, who practiced for the first time since the injury, told reporters earlier in the week that he's hopeful of playing Week 8 against Philadelphia.

 
 
 
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