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Offseason Extra: Catching up with Anquan Boldin

Senior Fantasy Writer
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PAHOKEE, Fla. – Anquan Boldin is one of the most generous players you'll find in the NFL. Every year he hosts a charity event for his foundation to benefit underprivileged children in his hometown, which is a small city near West Palm Beach.

This was the ninth year of Boldin's "Q-Fest," and the guest list, as always, was filled with past and present NFL greats, including Eric Dickerson, Torry Holt, Roddy White, Torrey Smith and Brian Hartline. We were there as well to gain insight on these prominent players and more, which hopefully will help you prepare for the upcoming season.

As for the turnout from his peers and people making donations, Boldin was impressed.

"It's for a great cause," Boldin said. "We're helping to better people's lives, so that's what it's all about. I think I've been put in this position for that reason to help others. Anyone that knows my story knows I come from not so lavish backgrounds. I find it important to come back home and give back where you started."

Boldin excited for move to 49ers

Boldin was traded from the Ravens to the 49ers this offseason, and he's excited about the move. Even though it's hard to leave a team where he just won a Super Bowl, he's ready for the next chapter in his career.

"I embrace change," Boldin said. "For me, I think it's a great opportunity. I feel like the job that I was brought to Baltimore to do, I accomplished that. I feel good in that aspect. It's on to another challenge in life."

He's also excited about working with Colin Kaepernick. Boldin saw up close how good Kaepernick can be since the Ravens beat the 49ers in Super Bowl XLVII.

"You look at Kaepernick, the sky's the limit for him," Boldin said. "He's a very talented quarterback. I hope we all can get better."

He said he's never played with a quarterback as athletic as Kaepernick.

"I think the thing that gets overlooked with him is that he's a quarterback," Boldin added. "People look at his athletic ability, but they underestimate how strong of an arm that he has and how intelligent that he is as a quarterback. That's what I'm excited about."

Boldin said there will be "an adjustment period" in getting used to Kaepernick, but he's been through a lot of quarterback changes in his career, including the transition from Kurt Warner in Arizona to Joe Flacco in Baltimore. We like this move for Boldin, but he remains just a reserve Fantasy option this season worth a late-round pick. In three seasons with the Ravens, Boldin averaged 62 catches for 882 yards per year with 14 total touchdowns (four in 2012). He went on a tear in the 2012 postseason, ripping opponents (including the 49ers) for four more scores over 22 catches for 380 yards. He could improve to a No. 3 option as the year goes on, but Boldin is a steady option to have on your bench with upside.

Dickerson glad Peterson fell short

Dickerson said he "watched a little bit" last season as Vikings running back Adrian Peterson came within 9 yards of his single-season rushing record set in 1984.

"When he got so close, I had to watch some of it," Dickerson said. "But it was good. It's always good when somebody gets close but not break. I asked him, 'You want that record don't you?' He said, 'You know I want it.' But it was good for the league, it was good for me, it was good for him. He's a great player, a great guy and I hope he gets close again -- without breaking it."

Dickerson said Peterson could again challenge for the record this season, but it will be tough.

"Now that he got so close, the defense is going to really be after him," Dickerson said. "They're going to really scheme for him."

Peterson was amazing in 2012. He racked up 2,097 rushing yards this season and rushed for 12 touchdowns while hauling in another through the air. He will enter this year as the No. 1 Fantasy running back and likely No. 1 overall pick in all leagues. But he could have some struggles since every running back who rushed for 2,000 yards in NFL history -- there are five others besides Dickerson and Peterson (Jamal Lewis, Barry Sanders, Terrell Davis, Chris Johnson and O.J. Simpson) -- has seen a decline in production the following year. Still, Peterson has proved everyone wrong before, and he should still produce at a high level.

Smith ready for No. 1 role

Boldin said that his former teammate -- Torrey Smith -- is ready to step into the role as the No. 1 option in the passing game for the Ravens in his third year.

"Definitely," Boldin said. "He hasn't shied away from the moment. ... I think he's ready to step into that role."

Smith agrees with Boldin.

"I don't view it any differently. My job is the same," Smith said. "It's not like I'm going to move in the slot where (Boldin) was doing most of the work. My responsibilities are still going to be the same on the outside. I'm just going out to go out there and be the best player I can be. I have higher goals for myself than anyone else. I'm excited about it. It's a new challenge. Hopefully I'll use what I've learned over these past two years and show everyone else that I can handle the load."

Smith also said he buys into the third-year receiver theory. And he said his goals this season are 1,000 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns. We like Smith a lot heading into his third year, and he presents a ton of upside as a No. 3 Fantasy receiver with a mid-round pick. If Smith picks up the slack with Boldin gone and matures in his third year, this could be a breakout campaign.

White excited for Jackson and Jones

White said he's excited for the addition of new running back Steven Jackson, who signed with the Falcons this offseason as a free agent from the Rams.

"I'm always happy when you get better players," White said. "He's a Pro Bowl running back. He can do it all -- run, catch, whatever. It's going to make the play calling much easier."

White said having Jackson on the field in place of Michael Turner will help the offense as a whole.

"That's the best thing about Steven," White said. "The play calling changes because you don't know if it's a run or pass. It's going to make our offense harder for defensive coordinators to catch on. It's a whole different thing, and we'll be good."

Falcons coach Mike Smith expressed the same optimism about Jackson with his improvement in the passing game. Jackson was limited to 38 catches in 2012, which was his lowest reception total since 2007, but he has at least 45 catches in three years in his career.

With the Falcons, Jackson should be involved in the passing game, and bringing that aspect back into his game should only enhance his Fantasy value. We consider Jackson a No. 2 Fantasy running back this year, and he's worth drafting as early as Round 2 in the majority of leagues.

White also expects a big year for fellow receiver Julio Jones this season, which is his third year in the NFL.

"I just want him to be the best player he can be for as long as possible. That's my goal for him," White said. "What he's done so far, we expected him to do that. When you draft a guy that high and he's 6-3 and runs a 4.3 (40-yard dash) and is 225 pounds, you have to go out there and dominate. We want him to dominate. Every week I tell him that's not enough. Whatever he does, I tell him it's not enough. You can do more. As long as we can keep him like that and keep him hungry, we'll be fine."

Jones is coming off a breakout campaign in 2012 when he had 79 catches for 1,198 yards and 10 touchdowns, but this is a big year for him in his third season. Jones could really take a nice jump in production. He's worth drafting as a Top 5 receiver in all leagues, and we expect him to be selected toward the end of Round 2 or beginning of Round 3 in all formats.

Hartline says Tannehill has tools to shine

The Dolphins have given second-year quarterback Ryan Tannehill new weapons in Mike Wallace, Brandon Gibson and Dustin Keller and brought back Hartline as a free agent. Hartline said Tannehill is poised to improve this season.

"In this day and age, teams are typically defined by your quarterback," Hartline said. "His ceiling is as high as it can be. He's taken the right steps this offseason through leadership and working with guys and getting better. As long as he continues that and continues what he's doing I don't have any hesitation with how good he's going to be. Again the proof is in the pudding, but he's a great guy and he wants to be great. That's all you can ask for."

Tannehill has the chance for a breakout year with the additions the Dolphins made this offseason. Wallace gives him a No. 1 receiver with speed, and Gibson, Hartline and Davone Bess are solid complementary options. Keller is also an upgrade at tight end, and the Dolphins have said they want to use Tannehill more in read-option formations. Tannehill might not get drafted in most standard leagues, but he's someone to monitor as the season goes on. Put him on your radar as a sleeper for 2013.

As for Hartline, he just hopes to build on his breakout season from last year. He is expected to start opposite Wallace as the No. 2 receiver for the Dolphins.

"I'm just going to keep playing the way I play," Hartline said. "The coaches will put me in position to make plays. As long as we're winning football games, that's all that matters. Hopefully I'll get some opportunities. And when the opportunities come I'll make some plays."

Hartline had 74 catches for 1,083 yards and one touchdown last year, with the catches and yards both career highs. We'd like to see Hartline score more, but he does have the chance to play at a high level this season. Consider him a solid reserve receiver worth a late-round pick.

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 QB Matthew Stafford throws for 390 yards in Week 13 win
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(4:13 pm ET) Quarterback Matthew Stafford threw for a season-high 390 yards and two touchdowns in the Lions' 34-17 win vs. Chicago on Thanksgiving. While Stafford -- who completed 34 of 45 passes -- didn't throw an interception, he did lose a fumble in the first half, which led to a touchdown for Chicago.

It comes as no surprise Stafford's favorite target Thursday was star receiver Calvin Johnson, who totaled 11 catches for 146 yards. Johnson also caught both of Stafford's touchdowns. He had a 25-yard touchdown catch early in the second quarter and a 6-yard touchdown catch right before halftime.

Stafford has thrown for two touchdowns in four of his last six games. The Lions are back in action Week 14 vs. Tampa Bay.


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Lions' Joique Bell totals more than 100 yards, two TDs Week 13
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(4:06 pm ET) With Reggie Bush sidelined a third straight game Week 13 due to an ankle injury, Lions running back Joique Bell stepped up in his absence during a 34-17 win. Bell rushed for a team-high 91 yards and two touchdowns on 23 carries, while adding two catches for 16 yards.

Bell gave Detroit a 17-14 lead with a 1-yard touchdown run with 3:18 left in the second quarter. Bell added another 1-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter, giving Detroit a 31-17 lead. It was the second multitouchdown game of his career.

The 23 carries and 91 rushing yards were season highs for Bell, who has surpassed 80 rushing yards in two of his last three games. He has five rushing touchdowns in 11 games.

The Lions are back in action Week 14 vs. Tampa Bay.


Megatron feasts on Bears defense in Thanksgiving showdown
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(3:57 pm ET) Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson was the star of Thursday's game against the Bears, totaling 11 catches for 146 yards and two touchdowns in a 34-17 win Week 13. He was targeted 16 times.

It was the 42nd time Johnson surpassed 100 yards in his career, which ties him with Cris Carter for 15th all-time. Johnson now has 11 career games with at least 10 receptions.

Also, late in the first half Thursday, Johnson became the fastest to reach 10,000 receiving yards in NFL history. It took Johnson just 115 games to accomplish the feat, besting Torry Holt, who reached 10,000 receiving yards in 116 games.

Johnson has surpassed 100 yards three times this season and twice in his last four games. He had his first multitouchdown game Thursday since Week 1 against the Giants. He's managed at least two receiving touchdowns 15 times in his career.

The Lions are back in action Week 14 against Tampa Bay.


Jadeveon Clowney calls his chances of playing 'slim right now'
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(3:43 pm ET) Texans linebacker Jadeveon Clowney said his chances of suiting up Sunday against the Titans are "slim right now" due to continued knee soreness, reports the Houston Chronicle. He has not practiced this week while undergoing treatment, the paper said.

Bears CB Tim Jennings leaves game Thursday due to groin injury
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(3:37 pm ET) Bears cornerback Tim Jennings left Thursday's game at Detroit in the fourth quarter due to a groin injury. He had two solo tackles before getting hurt.

Bengals LB Vontaze Burfict expected to miss fourth straight
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(3:30 pm ET) Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict did not practice Thursday and is expected to miss his fourth straight game Sunday when Cincy visits the Buccaneers, reports ESPN.com. Burfict is recovering from Nov. 3 arthroscopic knee surgery.

Cowboys' probables cleared for Thanksgiving game
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(3:20 pm ET) Several Cowboys who were probable on the injury report are active for the game against the Eagles. The list includes right tackle Doug Free (foot), defensive end Tyrone Crawford (knee), defensive tackle Nick Hayden (shoulder) and linebacker Rolando McClain (knee).

Tony Romo, Terrance Williams ready to roll
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(3:17 pm ET) Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo (back) and wideout Terrance Williams (finger) are active for the game against the Eagles after being listed as probable.

Cowboys reveal Thanksgiving inactives
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(3:13 pm ET) The Cowboys declared quarterback Dustin Vaughan, offensive tackles Tony Hills and Donald Hawkins, linebacker Dekoda Watson (hamstring) defensive tackle Josh Brent (groin), cornerback Tyler Patmon (knee, ankle) and safety Jeff Heath (thumb) inactive for Thursday's game against the Eagles.

 
 
 
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