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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
Lions' Stephen Tulloch progressing from ACL surgery
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(11:00 am ET) Lions linebacker Stephen Tulloch said he is ahead of schedule in his recovery from ACL surgery, reports FOXSports.com.

Tulloch said he was way ahead of schedule and feeling stronger since undergoing the surgery. Tulloch tore his ACL during a post-play celebration in September.


Reggie Bush says he doesn't plan to retire
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(2/28/2015) 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
(2/28/2015) 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
(2/28/2015) 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
(2/28/2015) 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
(2/28/2015) 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
(2/28/2015) 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
(2/28/2015) 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."


 
 
 
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