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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
Darren Sproles scores rushing TD Thursday
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(12:10 am ET) Eagles running back Darren Sproles found the end zone during Thursday's exhibition game against the Steelers.

With LeSean McCoy sidelined after the first two series, Sproles tooke over and scored a rushing touchdown from 1-yard out in the second quarter. He played the entire first half with the starters and finished the game with six carries for 33 yards and a touchdown, averaging 5.5 yards per attempt. He was targeted only four times and finished the game with one catch for 4 yards.

Nick Foles not at his best in preseason tuneup
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(12:04 am ET) Eagles quarterback Nick Foles didn't look impressive Thursday night against the Steelers in exhibition play.

Foles threw a short pass to LeSean McCoy, who turned it into a 22-yard touchdown. He was picked off by Troy Polamalu in the second quarter. He played the first half and compiled 179 yards through the air while completing 19 of 29 passes. He added a touchdown and an interception, registering a 79.5 passer rating.

Foles has passed for 304 pass yards through three preseason games. His next game will likely be the regular season opener against the Jaguars on Sept. 7.

Antonio Brown racks up 59 receiving yards Thursday
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(8/21/2014) Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown bounced back from a slow start in Thursday's exhibition game against the Eagles in Philadelphia.

Brown was held without a grab in the first quarter and came down with a 19-yard reception in the second quarter -- his only catch of the half. He bounced back after halftime with a pair of catches. He was targeted five times and finished with three catches for 59 yards, averaging 19.7 yards per grab.

Brown has compiled 173 receiving yards and a touchdown through three preseason games.

Markus Wheaton not on the same page with Ben Roethlisberger Thursday
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(8/21/2014) Steelers wide receiver Markus Wheaton had a bad drop and endured some communication issues with Ben Roethlisberger Thursday night against the Eagles in preseason action, per the NFL Network. Wheaton finished the first half without a grab and caught passes for 10 and 14 yards in the third quarter. He caught half of his four targets for 24 yards.

"It looked bad. We'll go watch the film, it could be 'this here is wrong, that is wrong,' you fix it and you get rolling," Wheaton said, per the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.


Martavis Bryant scores late-game TD in preseason game
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(8/21/2014) Steelers rookie receiver Martavis Bryant worked with the second-team offense and came down with a touchdown reception Thursday night against the Eagles.

Bryant caught a 25-yards pass in the fourth quarter. Backup Bruce Grad Gradkowski hooked up with the rookie for a short 3-yard touchdown strike on the ensuing drive. He was targeted four times and finished with two catches for 28 yards.

Heath Miller looks like old self in preseason tuneup
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(8/21/2014) Steelers tight end Heath Miller looked like his old self during Thursday's preseason game against the Eagles in Philadelphia.

Miller played deep into the third quarter with the first-team offense. He came down with a 27-yard touchdown grab late in the third quarter. He finished five catches for 53 yards and a touchdown, averaging 10.6 yards per grab.

Darrius Heyward-Bey makes touchdown grab in exhibition game
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(8/21/2014) Steelers wide receivers Darrius Heyward-Bey hauled in a touchdown Thursday night against the Eagles in preseason action.

Heyward-Bey worked with the backups and caught a 22-yard pass from Bruce Gradkowski in the fourth quarter. He caught all three of his targets for 54 yards and a touchdown, averaging 18.0 yards per grab.

Heyward-Bey is struggling to find a prominent role with his new club. He finished last season with just 29 catches for 309 yards and one touchdown for Indianapolis.

Le'Veon Bell, LeGarrette Blount get extended work with backups
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(8/21/2014) Hours removed from being charged with marijuana possession, Steelers running backs Le'Veon Bell and LeGarrette Blount both received extra snaps with the backups deep into Thursday's preseason game against the Eagles in Philadelphia. 

Bell got the start but shared carries and was outplayed by Blount throughout the night. He took nine handoffs for 23 yards, averaging only 2.6 yards per attempt. He caught only one pass for 3 yards while being targeted twice. Blount had seven carries for 32 yards, averaging 4.2 yards per attempt. He caught all three of his targets for 14 yards.

Both players played late into the game as part of a "punishment," according to head coach Mike Tomlin, per the Observer-Reporter.


Ben Roethlisberger has up-and-down preseason game
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(8/21/2014) Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger had an up-and-down performance in what may have been his final tuneup before the start of the regular season, Thursday in Philadelphia.

Roethlisberger was intercepted by Nolan Carroll in the second quarter. He stayed on with the first-team offense after halftime and fired a 27-yards touchdown pass to Heath Miller in the third quarter. He compiled 157 yards through the air while completing 15 of 24 passes. He added one touchdown and one interception, registering a 78.0 passer rating.

Through three preseason games, Roethlisberger has passed for 331 yards.

Riley Cooper makes three grabs in preseason debut
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(8/21/2014) Eagles wide receiver Riley Cooper made his first game appearance since suffering an ankle injury on Thursday against the Steelers in exhibition play. Cooper caught a short pass for an 11-yard gain on the third play of the game. He played the entire first half with the first-team and caught three of the five passes thrown his way for 25 yards.

 
 
 
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