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Postseason Extra: We Pitta the fools

Senior Fantasy Writer
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Be prepared. We're about to get an overload of Harbaugh for the next two weeks leading up to Super Bowl XLVII.

Jim Harbaugh's 49ers won the NFC Championship Game against the Falcons and John Harbaugh's Ravens pulled off the upset in the AFC Championship Game against the Patriots. A Baltimore-San Francisco Super Bowl wasn't what many people expected before the year, but this will be the final matchup of the season with the two brothers facing off.

We learned a lot about many players during the postseason, which could help some guys heading into 2013 when it comes to their Fantasy value. And that's what we're here to address in this Playoff Stockwatch.

You can see what we said about 10 players from the Wild Card Round and 10 players from the Divisional Round, but here are five guys who have improved their draft value for next year and five who might see their value decline.

Five on the rise

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Anquan Boldin, WR, Ravens: There's a chance the Ravens could release Boldin this offseason to save money since he's owed $6 million next year. He's making a strong case to stay in Baltimore or find a new job with an amazing postseason run. Through three games, Boldin has 16 catches for 276 yards and three touchdowns against the Colts, Broncos and Patriots. He's 32, but he's been a tremendous weapon for Joe Flacco from December on. In three of his final four regular-season games, Boldin had at least nine Fantasy points with three touchdowns over that span, which coincides with the Ravens opening up the passing game. If Boldin returns to the Ravens in 2013 he could be a tremendous value pick with a late-round selection.

Frank Gore, RB, 49ers: Maybe 2013 will be the year Gore gets replaced as the workhorse for the 49ers. We keep expecting him to lose a step and San Francisco continues to bring in other options (Glen Coffee, Anthony Dixon, Kendall Hunter, Brandon Jacobs and LaMichael James were all added in recent years). Yet all Gore does is produce, and he now has 44 carries for 209 yards and three touchdowns in the playoffs. That gives him 13 games with double digits in Fantasy points for the season and he should enter 2013 as a No. 2 Fantasy option. Hunter will return from his Achilles injury and James will have a bigger role. But Gore is still the main man for the 49ers and is a big reason for their Super Bowl run.

Julio Jones, WR, Falcons: We recently shared an early look at our Top 30 ranked receivers for 2013, and Jones was a top six consensus for me, Dave Richard and Nathan Zegura. Our top six were all the same with Calvin Johnson at No. 1 followed by, in a different order for each of us, A.J. Green, Demaryius Thomas, Brandon Marshall, Dez Bryant and Jones. You can argue that Jones should easily be No. 2. He just had a dominant performance against the 49ers with 11 catches for 182 yards and two touchdowns. And he had a great season with 10 games with double digits in Fantasy points, and whether he's the No. 2 or 6 receiver drafted, he will be a Fantasy stud in his third year.

Dennis Pitta, TE, Ravens: Pitta has emerged as a legitimate No. 1 Fantasy tight end heading into 2013 and he's having a great playoff run. Through three games he has 10 catches for 138 yards and two touchdowns, including his best game against the Patriots with five catches for 55 yards and a score. He now has eight games with at least eight Fantasy points on the season and he's going to be a tremendous value pick with a late-round selection. Tight end is thin on talent next year, especially if Tony Gonzalez retires as expected, and Pitta has the chance to be a Top 10 player at his position.

Matt Ryan, QB, Falcons: Ryan suffered a sprained AC joint in his left shoulder against the 49ers, but he should be fine for the start of next season. He has established himself as one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL and a standout Fantasy option. He had a great playoff run with 646 passing yards, six touchdowns and three interceptions against Seattle and San Francisco and finished with 12 games with at least 21 Fantasy points this year. Next season, Ryan will be tremendous value on Draft Day because he will be selected in Round 3 or later and should once again be around a top five quarterback by the end of the year.

Five on the decline

Tony Gonzalez, TE, Falcons: Putting Gonzalez in this section is by no means an indictment of his play. It's a plea for him to keep playing. We'd love for Gonzalez to put off retirement for another season and return to the Falcons because he had an awesome year in 2012. In two playoff games he had 14 catches for 129 yards and two touchdowns, and he finished the season with double digits in Fantasy points in nine games. He would be considered a top five Fantasy tight end if he returned in 2013, but if not then start the clock because he's definitely headed for the Hall of Fame.

Brandon Lloyd, WR, Patriots: Lloyd actually played well against the Ravens with seven catches for 70 yards, but he was a disappointment in his first season with the Patriots. He only had five games with double digits in Fantasy points and this was his worst season since his breakout campaign in 2010 despite playing with Tom Brady. We hope Lloyd can turn things around in 2013, but he has a lot to prove to Fantasy owners. We would only draft him as a No. 3 Fantasy receiver at best and you can see by our Top 30 receiver list for 2013 that none of us like him in that group. It's amazing that playing with a quarterback like Brady can actually lower your production.

Stevan Ridley, RB, Patriots: I consider Ridley a Top 12 Fantasy running back heading into 2013, and he's a potential first-round pick in standard formats. But a lot of Fantasy owners will be hesitant to draft Ridley that early. The concern with Ridley is he plays for Bill Belichick and he's not much of a receiver. The latter is a problem since he caught just seven passes during the season. But otherwise Ridley was a star. He dominated the carries for New England with 290 for 1,263 yards and 12 touchdowns during the regular season. Compare that to Danny Woodhead (76 carries) and Shane Vereen (62) and you'll see how much Belichick relied on Ridley. I can understand drafting DeMarco Murray, Chris Johnson, Matt Forte or a healthy Maurice Jones-Drew ahead of Ridley, but it's difficult to argue with his production in his breakout season in 2012. That should continue in 2013.

Michael Turner, RB, Falcons: Turner wasn't a complete bust for Fantasy owners in 2012. He actually finished as a Top 20 running back in standard leagues thanks to 11 total touchdowns. But he had more than 100 rushing yards just twice and he's a candidate to be released this offseason since he'll be due $5.5 million at 31 years old. The Falcons might not turn to Jacquizz Rodgers as a replacement option, but Atlanta needs to upgrade over Turner. Wherever he plays in 2013 he can still be used as a goal-line back -- he has 60 rushing touchdowns since 2008 -- but his burst as a rusher is gone. Not many teams want a plodder at his age and Turner's Fantasy value is clearly on the decline.

Wes Welker, WR, Patriots: Welker didn't have a great game against the Ravens. Despite eight catches for 117 yards and a touchdown he had some key drops. And that might have been his last game for the Patriots. Welker is a free agent this offseason and New England might allow him to walk. Welker said he wasn't sure what the Patriots will do, and even though Tom Brady called Welker "the heart and soul" of the team, he might be too expensive for a 31-year-old slot receiver. Keep in mind Welker just had a team-high 118 catches, but if he leaves the Patriots and Brady his Fantasy value will decline.

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
Jimmy Smith cited on misdemeanor charge
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(7/13/2014) Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith was cited by police Saturday night for failing to follow an officer's orders. The misdemeanor charge came after police responded to a report of a woman passed out in a restaurant bathroom in Towson.

The woman was vomiting into a bathroom sink when police arrived. Smith was with the woman and "refused to obey an officer's repeated orders to leave the bathroom," police said.

Smith became the fifth Raven to get in trouble with police this offseason.


Chris Harris targeting midway point of preseason
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(7/11/2014) Broncos cornerback Chris Harris, who's coming back from ACL surgery, told ESPN he expects to be cleared for full participation by the midway point of the preseason. Harris said the exact timetable hinges on his upcoming visit to his surgeon, Dr. James Andrews.

"I’m doing everything, there’s really nothing I can’t do right now," Harris told the network. "I still have to go see Dr. Andrews at the end of the month and get checked up and he’ll pretty much let us know the plan from there."

Harris had 65 tackles and three interceptions last year before getting hurt in the playoffs.


Dimitri Patterson a starter by default
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(7/11/2014) Unable to land a high-end free agent cornerback, the Jets "were forced to settle for journeyman Dimitri Patterson as a consolation," notes The Star-Ledger. Patterson, who projects to start opposite Dee Milliner, is on his sixth team in 10 seasons and has played all 16 games just once in his career.

If Patterson falters, third-round pick Dexter McDougle could get a shot.


Fred Jackson in danger of losing carries
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(7/11/2014) Bills running back Fred Jackson might not approach the 207 carries he received last year. According to WGR550.com, Jackson will once again split time with C.J. Spiller but also potentially lose snaps to the team's additions at running back, Bryce Brown and Anthony Dixon.

The website said Jackson, 33, who's entering the last year of his deal, will be trying to prove how much he has left.


Teammate: Bitterness won't linger from Jimmy Graham standoff
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(7/11/2014) Saints tight end Benjamin Watson told ESPN that the the team's arbitration fight with Jimmy Graham over whether he's a receiver or a tight end won't have a longterm detrimental effect. Watson is hopeful the sides will reach a multiyear contract agreement by Tuesday's deadline.

"I’m very confident that it’ll be resolved the right way and guys can move forward," Watson said. "Obviously it’s always tough when you go through litigation with somebody, and it can probably get heated. And I’m sure there are emotions on both sides. But that is the business side of the game. 

"And it’s unfortunate that it came to that and that it was so public. But I really think -- I know, I don’t think -- I know that Jimmy loves New Orleans and I know that he loves our team and the organization and he loves playing here. And we love him, everybody wants him here, coaches included. So when it comes down to contract situations, that’s just a necessary evil ... not even evil, but just a necessary progression of getting a player here."


Dallas Thomas eyes starting job
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(7/11/2014) Dolphins coach Joe Philbin named Dallas Thomas one of the team's most improved players, and he has a good chance to start at left guard, according to the team's website. A third-round pick in last year's draft, Thomas played only four offensive snaps last season.

Thomas worked with the first team during spring drills and is much further along than he was in 2013. He stayed in South Florida throughout the offseason to get better prepared.

"You’ve got to know your material, you’ve got to know what you’re doing on the field because stuff happens so fast," Thomas said. "You’ve got to be able to just react to it and not even think about what’s happening on the field."


Spencer Nealy hit with four-game ban
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(7/11/2014) The NFL suspended Vikings defensive end Spencer Nealy four games for violating the league's policy on performance enhancing substances. An undrafted free agent out of Texas A&M, the 24-year-old Nealy did not play in a game last season.

Nealy apologized and took responsibility in a statement, saying he took a supplement containing a banned stimulant.


Jarrett Boykin will be 'hard to dislodge'
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(7/11/2014) Jarrett Boykin improved dramatically last season and "will be hard to dislodge" from the Packers' No. 3 receiver job, reports the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. Boykin will have to hold off second-round pick Davante Adams, fifth-rounder Jared Abbrederis and seventh-rounder Jeff Janis.

Boykin, 24, caught 49 passes for 681 yards and three touchdowns last season.


Trent Richardson might not get long leash
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(7/11/2014) Averaging 2.9 yards a carry, like he did last year, will get Trent Richardson benched quickly, reports ESPN.com. Richardson "will have to produce right away because it's unlikely the Colts will wait for him to get going" if running backs Ahmad Bradshaw and Vick Ballard are healthy and productive, the website said.

Richardson likely will get the first shot at the starting job. He has a much better grasp of the playbook than he did in 2013 and the belief is he'll be able to run on instinct as opposed to overthinking, the report said.


Bruce Ellington trying to overcome stature
by Jeff Borzello | College Basketball Writer
(7/11/2014) At 5-foot-9, Bruce Ellington is the shortest receiver on the 49ers' roster. But the fourth-round pick out of South Carolina should not be discounted, his high school coach, Jerry Brown, told the Sacramento Bee.

Brown said Ellington is relentless at finding open space and catching everything thrown his way. "Football's played on a big field and it's hard to track someone like Bruce who's got so much agility," Brown said.

Ellington believes he has lots of room for growth because he only gave up basketball last year. Also a former track competitor, Ellington clocked a 4.45 forty at the combine.

"I'm just going to work hard, give it a hundred (percent) every time I step on the field and keep on chasing the dream," he said.


 
 
 
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