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2013 Draft Prep: Breakouts, 2.0

Senior Fantasy Writer
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It's time to take our second look at breakouts for 2013.

Guys who qualify for this distinction are those on the verge of becoming stars, superstars or, in the case of C.J. Spiller, the best running back in the NFL.

You can see who I listed in this space back in July before the start of training camp, and the players I still stand behind include Andrew Luck, Lamar Miller, David Wilson, Shane Vereen, Randall Cobb, Danny Amendola and Jared Cook.

This updated version is to give you 10 more players to consider on Draft Day. All of these guys have the potential to be amazing in 2013.

C.J. Spiller, RB, Bills: Adrian Peterson should be the first player drafted in all leagues. What he did in 2012, and what he should do again this season, warrants him being selected No. 1 overall. But if there's one player I had to pick who could challenge Peterson for the No. 1 running back spot it would be Spiller. He's that good. Spiller is going to be used "until he throws up," according to offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett. Last year, when Spiller replaced Fred Jackson, he had just 207 carries and 43 catches with only nine starts, and he was No. 7 in Fantasy points in a standard league. If he gets just 300 total touches -- all six running backs in front of him in Fantasy points (Peterson, Doug Martin, Arian Foster, Marshawn Lynch, Alfred Morris and Ray Rice) all had more than 300 touches -- he could dominate. So for fun, give him 255 carries and 45 catches at his same averages. That would give him 2,012 total yards (1,530 rushing, 482 receiving), and his touchdowns could increase from eight to 10. I think he'll get more work than that, and I like him at No. 2 overall. This is going to be a big year for Spiller.
I'd take him ahead of: Jamaal Charles, Doug Martin, Marshawn Lynch

DeMarco Murray, RB, Cowboys: Murray was a bust last season when he was drafted in the first round and failed to produce because of a foot injury. When healthy, Murray was solid with double digits in Fantasy points in a standard league in five of the 10 games he played in and never having fewer than seven points. I'm counting on Murray playing at least 13 games this year, and he should finally live up to his potential. I'd gamble on Murray in the second round in standard leagues and early in the third round in PPR formats. It's always risky to gamble on injury-prone players, especially someone like Murray who has missed nine games in two seasons, but when talented guys do stay on the field they reward you in a big way. I'm counting on this being the year for Murray to do that.
I'd take him ahead of: Maurice Jones-Drew, Lamar Miller, David Wilson

Mark Ingram, RB, Saints: Ingram comes into this season with likely his best chance to succeed, and he's not battling any nagging injuries. The Saints, with Sean Payton back calling plays, promise to give a little more emphasis to the run game, which would take pressure off their defense. Chris Ivory is gone, and Pierre Thomas (leg) has missed time during practice. Ingram showed some signs of life at the end of last season with double digits in Fantasy points in two of his final three games, and he closed the year with a touchdown in four of his final seven outings. We're not talking about a weekly starter with Ingram, but he could turn into a flex option. And the best part about him is you can draft him as your fourth running back in Round 9, which is great value given his upside.
I'd take him ahead of: DeAngelo Williams, Bernard Pierce, Bryce Brown

Montee Ball, RB, Broncos: The battle for the starting running back job in Denver is likely going to play out over the next couple of weeks, but it's hard to see Ball not being heavily involved. While Ronnie Hillman and even Knowshon Moreno should factor into the mix, Ball has the chance to lead the Broncos in rushing touchdowns with plenty of yards. He's struggled in the preseason and has played behind Hillman, but it's hard to gauge the performance for any of the running backs in Denver given their opponents through two games (San Francisco and Seattle). The good thing is the Broncos have a soft schedule, which should help Ball succeed, and he could be a vital cog late in games killing the clock. Based on his potential to score double digits in touchdowns, Ball could easily become a Top 20 Fantasy running back this year. But since he'll share time, especially early in the year with at least Hillman, he enters the season as a flex option (he also has to improve his pass protection). He's still someone I would buy into with a pick in Round 5 in standard leagues as a flex option based on his upside in an explosive offense.
I'd take him ahead of: Chris Ivory, Ahmad Bradshaw, Ryan Mathews

Pierre Garcon, WR, Redskins: When Garcon was healthy in 2012 he was among the best receivers in the NFL. He had four games with double digits in Fantasy points in the eight games he was close to 100 percent. But Garcon missed six outings and was limited in two others with a toe problem, which he now says is manageable. There's always the risk of a setback, but Garcon has the ability to be a Top 10 Fantasy option with the Redskins. He's shown flashes of greatness before during his tenure with the Colts, but he's never reached 1,000 receiving yards or had more than six touchdowns. I'm expecting him to eclipse both those marks and have a career season, and he's a Top 15 Fantasy receiver coming into the year. He's a great No. 2 receiver to target beginning in Round 4 or 5 in the majority of leagues.
I'd take him ahead of: Eric Decker, Reggie Wayne, Wes Welker

Antonio Brown, WR, Steelers: Brown ascends to the No. 1 receiver spot in Pittsburgh with Mike Wallace gone, and the Steelers will need him to play at a high level, especially with Heath Miller (ACL) banged up. Last year, Wallace and Miller combined for 36 red-zone targets and came away with 16 touchdowns. Brown closed 2012 with four touchdowns in his final four games, and he had a career-high five scores. He has the the chance to see that number rise, especially with the expected increase from his 106 targets last year. He should get back to 1,000-plus receiving yards like he had in 2011, and he has the chance for 75-plus catches. Brown has the potential to be a Top 20 Fantasy receiver, but he's falling to Round 6 as the No. 25 receiver off the board based on Average Draft Position. I'd gamble on Brown in Round 5 based on his upside.
I'd take him ahead of: Cecil Shorts, Jordy Nelson, Mike Wallace

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Torrey Smith, WR, Ravens: Smith has posted nearly identical stats for two seasons in row of about 50 catches, 850 yards and seven touchdowns, but this is the year for him to improve. It's his third year in the NFL, which is when receivers tend to break out, and he's a prime candidate with the Ravens missing Anquan Boldin and Dennis Pitta. Smith is aware of this based on a conversation we had this offseason. "I'm improving every day," Smith said. "It's all about consistency. I was saying the same thing last year. Being consistent in my technique. Being consistent with everything. I grew in that way. Now it's about being consistent on offense." Smith should be drafted as a No. 3 Fantasy receiver, but he could easily become a Top 20 option by the end of the year. It wouldn't be a surprise to see him get well over 1,000 receiving yards with double digits in touchdowns given his potential and the need of playmakers in the passing game for the Ravens.
I'd take him ahead of: Jordy Nelson, Mike Wallace, Steve Johnson

T.Y. Hilton, WR, Colts: It's hard to find a receiver having a better preseason than Hilton. Through two games he has five catches for 97 yards and two touchdowns, but the troubling thing is the Colts continue to use him as the third receiver behind Reggie Wayne and Darrius Heyward-Bey. There's no way Hilton should be behind Heyward-Bey, and you can argue he has more upside than Wayne. He's being drafted as the No. 29 receiver, but Hilton could easily be a weekly starter in the majority of leagues. He was a surprise rookie with 50 catches for 861 yards and seven touchdowns, but he can easily eclipse 1,000 yards while maintaining a healthy amount of scores. He's a receiver to be excited about this year, and hopefully the Colts keep him on the field as much as possible. With an increase in targets -- he only had 91 as a rookie -- he could be a dominant force.
I'd take him ahead of: Tavon Austin, Mike Wallace, DeSean Jackson

DeSean Jackson, WR, Eagles: Once upon a time Jackson was on the verge of being the next big thing for Fantasy owners. He had consecutive seasons of 1,000 receiving yards and six touchdowns, but then came the ill-fated 2011 campaign. Jackson had his money on his mind, and it impacted his play. He hasn't been the same since, but Jackson's value is pointing up again. The addition of new coach Chip Kelly and the subtraction of receiver Jeremy Maclin (ACL) make Jackson a high-upside No. 3 Fantasy option. Michael Vick has to throw to someone, and Jackson should lead the Eagles in targets. He has to stay healthy after being out the final five games last year, and he has to hope Vick can stay upright as well. But if Jackson and Vick master this Kelly offense and play the majority of the season, we could see Jackson finally live up to his immense potential this year.
I'd take him ahead of: Kenny Britt, Steve Johnson, Mike Wallace

Golden Tate, WR, Seahawks: Tate went into the offseason as the No. 3 receiver for the Seahawks behind Percy Harvin and Sidney Rice, but come Week 1 he should be No. 1 on the depth chart. Harvin (hip) is out for majority of the year, and Rice (knee) should miss the entire preseason. It will fall on Tate to lead this passing game, and he's ready to dominate in a potential contract year. He had a third-year breakout type performance in 2012 with 45 catches for 688 yards and seven touchdowns -- which were all career highs -- but he should post better stats in 2013. CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora reported that Tate has the chance to make a leap into the upper echelon of receivers this year, and the opportunity is there to make that happen. He's a great No. 3 Fantasy receiver to target in Round 9, which is where he's going based on ADP.
I'd take him ahead of: Anquan Boldin, Miles Austin, Greg Jennings

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 .

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Player News
Rams QB coach is a big fan of Sam Bradford
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(12:53 am ET) Rams quarterbacks coach Chris Weinke is perfectly happy with starting quarterback Sam Bradford, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

"Love him. Love him," Weinke said when asked about Bradford. Weinke, who has evaluated quarterbacks for a couple of seasons now, said Bradford had one of the best pro days he's ever seen. "A few years ago when Andrew Luck came out they said who would you compare him to? And I said the closest I would see is Sam Bradford."

As part of Weinke's interview process with the team, he met with Bradford for roughly three-and-a-half hours. It wasn't really a formal meeting, though, it was more so the two could get to know eachother. 

Bradford has reportedly been granted permission to seek a trade, but it doesn't appear Rams' ownership wants to part with the 27-year-old quarterback. 


RB Steven Jackson, cut by Falcons, isn't planning to retire
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(2/26/2015) Though he's without a team at the moment, running back Steven Jackson has no plans to retire. 

The Falcons officially released Jackson Thursday night, with immediate questions emerging about his future. On his own website, though, Jackson posted a statement saying he isn't hanging up the cleats just yet.  

"A lot has been written lately about my future," Jackson wrote. "There are questions about my age, and what I have left in the tank. Of that, I will simply say this. For the first nine years of my career, I was used like a battering ram, punishing opposing defense over four quarters of a game. Maybe you stopped me the first five times I got the ball, but by the 15th or 20th time I got it, late in a game -- let's just say you were really feeling me at that point.

"Make no mistake: I can still punish a defense. I still have a warrior's heart. There are 1,000-yard seasons left in these legs. I know what I am still capable of, and I have every intention of proving it."

Jackson also admitted his two seasons with the Falcons were a disappointment as the organization did not reach the postseason in either season. He combined for only 1,250 yards in 2013 and 2014 after posting eight consecutive seasons with over 1,000 yards when he was with the Rams. 


Raiders expected to release safety Tyvon Branch
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(2/26/2015) The Raiders will be parting ways with safety Tyvon Branch, according to CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora

Branch only played in three games during the 2014 season due to a foot injury that placed him on injured reserve. That followed his 2013 season in which Branch was only able to participate in two games. 

However, Branch could be a commodity in what is otherwise considered a weak safety market. 

Branch signed a four-year, $26..6 million contract with the Raiders in 2012, with $17.6 million guaranteed.


Browns working to re-sign CB Buster Skrine
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(2/26/2015) The Browns are hopeful they can re-sign cornerback Buster Skrine but are probably going to have to try to do so after he hits the free agent market, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer

Skrine had a single-season best four interceptions in 2014 and will be someone that could command a hefty price tag on the open market. The Plain Dealer reports that Skrine is expecting anywhere from $5.5 million to $7 million per season. 

The Browns should be in a good position to match an offer for Skrine. Depending on what the 2015 cap number per team is, the Browns are likely to have well over $30 million to spend in free agency. 


Colts, Matt Hasselbeck agree to one-year contract
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(2/26/2015) It looks like Matt Hasselbeck's NFL career will extend at least one more year. 

The Colts reached a one-year deal with backup quarterback Hasselbeck, the team announced on Thursday. 

Hasselbeck, 39, will enter his 17th year in the NFL. After starting out as Brett Favre's backup in Green Bay for his first two seasons in 1999 and 2000, he joined the Seahawks via a trade and quickly established himself as a starting-caliber quarterback. 

In 16 NFL seasons, Hasselbeck has totaled 34,948 yards, 203 touchdowns and 148 interceptions. He'll be the top candidate to back up Andrew Luck next season. 


Report: Vikings, Adrian Peterson can communicate with each other
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(2/26/2015) Now that Adrian Peterson has been moved back to the Commissioner's Exempt list, the Vikings can reach out and communicate with him, according to a report from Pro Football Talk

Peterson had been suspended by the NFL until April 15 and upheld by an arbitrator. On Thursday, U.S. District Judge David Doty overturned the arbitrator's decision, sending the case back down to go through the CBA. The NFL has removed the suspension, for now, while moving Peterson back to the Commissioner's Exempt list. 

The NFL announced in a statement that it is appealing Doty's ruling

Since the Vikings want Peterson to remain with them, they can now reach out and hold talks directly. While suspended by the NFL, the Vikings were unable to communicate with him. This is an interesting development because the Vikings have publicly stated they want him to stay in Minnesota. 

However, at least one report as indicated Peterson wants to leave and continue his NFL career elsewhere


Falcons release running back Steven Jackson
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(2/26/2015) The Falcons released running back Steven Jackson on Thursday, the team announced.

Jackson was owed $3.75 million in 2015, but with running back Devonta Freeman on the roster, it appears Jackson is expendable. In 2014, Jackson rushed for 707 yards and six touchdowns on 190 carries.

By cutting Jackson, the Falcons saved $3.7 million against the salary cap, reports the NFL Network.


Redskins sign Ricky Jean Francois to three-year contract
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(2/26/2015) The Redskins signed defensive tackle Ricky Jean Francois to a three-year deal Thursday, reports the NFL Network.

The deal is believed to be worth $9 million with $4 million guaranteed. With incentives, the deal can reach $11.25 million.

Jean Francois was cut by the Colts on Monday. In 2014, Jean Francois totaled 28 tackles and three sacks.


Report: Browns believe they still have a shot at Josh McCown
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(2/26/2015) The Browns remain confident that they can snag quarterback Josh McCown from the free agent ranks, according to a report from ESPN.com

McCown visited the Browns this week and has also received interest from the the Jets, Bills and Bears. The Browns are in the market for a starting-caliber quarterback with Brian Hoyer possibly leaving in free agency and with Johnny Manziel's status up in the air with the off-field issues hes working through. 

McCown threw 13 touchdowns to just one interception with the Bears in 2013, doing this while filling in for an injured Jay Cutler. His performance earned him a contract with the Buccaneers, though injuries and poor play resulted in a season that saw him throw 11 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. 

McCown was released by the Buccaneers earlier this offseason. 


Report: Cardinals sign cornerback Damond Smith
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(2/26/2015) The Cardinals signed cornerback Damond Smith on Thursday, reports The Baltimore Sun.

Smith did not play during the 2014 season after being cut by the Chiefs. He has never played in an NFL game.


 
 
 
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