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Instant reactions from Week 8

Senior Fantasy Writer
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Thank you, Stevan Ridley. The jinx is over.

After a four-game streak of failed Start of the Week predictions, including David Wilson and Jay Cutler not making it past halftime because of injuries, Ridley had a solid game in Week 8 against the Dolphins. He had 14 carries for 79 yards and a touchdown.

I was a little nervous watching Brandon Bolden score in the third quarter and then LeGarrette Blount playing well late, but in the end Ridley scored his fourth touchdown in the past three games and continued his run of recent success. He is back as a must-start Fantasy running back heading into Week 9 against the Steelers.

But while Ridley is doing well, it's time to be concerned about Tom Brady. He was 13 of 22 passing for 116 yards, one touchdown and one interception for eight Fantasy points. Brady now has single digits in Fantasy points in three of his past four games, and he has just one game with more than 20 points this season. He is also battling a hand injury.

This game was troubling because it was the first time all season where Brady had his full complement of weapons with Rob Gronkowski and Danny Amendola healthy. Both struggled with Gronkowski catching two catches for 27 yards on five targets, and Amendola had three catches for 15 yards on six targets. Gronkowski did have a touchdown called back for holding, but Brady is clearly struggling.

You have to continue starting Gronkowski, but Brady and Amendola are now worth benching if you have better options. In Week 9, I'd start Terrelle Pryor (vs. PHI) and Jake Locker (at STL) over Brady. I can't believe I just wrote that, but it's the right move to make.

The Patriots are also running in the red zone, which has hurt Brady and could be a product of Gronkowski being out prior to last week and Aaron Hernandez out all season. New England has six rushing touchdowns in the red zone the past three games against New Orleans, the Jets and Miami, which has taken away scoring chances from Brady.

We hope Brady can turn things around, but until he does you can't consider him a must-start Fantasy quarterback. That could be good news for Ridley if the Patriots continue to rely on him, but we just hope Bolden and Blount don't keep getting in the way.

Injuries of note: Michael Vick (hamstring), Julius Thomas (ankle), Brandon Gibson (knee), Ryan Broyles (Achilles)

Vick started against the Giants, but he couldn't make it past halftime after he aggravated his previous hamstring injury. He finished the game 6 of 9 passing for 31 yards and an interception. He was replaced by Matt Barkley, who was 17 of 26 passing for 158 yards and one interception, and Barkley could end up starting at the Raiders in Week 9. Nick Foles is still dealing with a concussion and might not be ready.

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It's clear the Eagles' quarterback woes are hurting LeSean McCoy and DeSean Jackon. Both have been inconsistent since Vick first went down in Week 5, and we hope coach Chip Kelly can turn things around heading into Week 9 no matter who starts at quarterback

Thomas hurt his ankle early in the third quarter against the Redskins, and he finished with just three catches for 29 yards on three targets. We hope he'll be OK after Denver's bye in Week 9. With Thomas out against the Redskins, Joel Dreessen caught a touchdown in the fourth quarter.

Gibson could be out for the season with a knee injury, which is unfortunate since he had been playing well. He caught a 4-yard touchdown against the Patriots before getting hurt.

Broyles is lost for the season, which is disappointing, since he never got the chance to prove himself. He finished the season with seven catches for 77 yards, and he's now suffered a season-ending injury the past three years with a torn ACL in his final season at Oklahoma, a torn ACL in his rookie year in 2012 and now the ruptured Achilles.

Also, it appears like we avoided a serious injury for Robert Griffin III (knee) and Steve Johnson (groin), but keep an eye on their status heading into Week 9.

Jason Campbell good for the Browns: I guess we know Brandon Weeden is the problem for the Browns. Campbell was Brian Hoyer-esque in helping Josh Gordon and Jordan Cameron play at a high level again.

Campbell did a nice job at Kansas City with 22 of 36 passing for 293 yards and two touchdowns, but not many Fantasy owners will ever start him. We all use Gordon and Cameron, and it was great to see them shine after a couple of down games thanks to Weeden after Hoyer (ACL) went down in Week 5.

Gordon had five catches for 132 yards and a touchdown on 10 targets, and Cameron had four catches for 81 yards on four targets. We still want to see more from Cameron, but eight Fantasy points will make him a Top 10 Fantasy tight end this week.

Marques Colston and Darren Sproles struggle again: Fantasy owners are concerned about Colston and Sproles, and rightfully so. They were awful again in Week 8 against Buffalo.

Colston had three catches for 18 yards on six targets, and Sproles had four catches for no yards on four targets and no carries. That's unreal, especially since the Saints won 35-17 with Drew Brees throwing five touchdowns.

Colston now has three Fantasy points in the past three weeks, and he hasn't scored a touchdown since Week 1. He faces the Jets in Week 9, and it will be hard to consider starting him until he proves he can produce again on a high level.

Sproles has 10 Fantasy points combined the past three games, and he has just one game with a touchdown, which was Week 4 against Miami. Pierre Thomas outplayed Sproles with 14 carries for 65 yards and three catches for 29 yards, and like Colston, you can't continue to play Sproles in most Fantasy leagues until he improves.

Andre Ellington takes over: We hope the Cardinals saw enough of Ellington's play as the featured running back against the Falcons to make him the starter when Rashard Mendenhall (toe) is back in Week 10 following Arizona's bye week. Ellington had 15 carries for 154 yards and a touchdown and two catches for 8 yards against Atlanta.

This is now three games this season with double digits in Fantasy points for Ellington, but it was his first game with double digits in carries. I can't imagine the Cardinals going back to Mendenhall in a featured role, but you never know how coach Bruce Arians will handle it. In any event, Ellington should be considered a potential starting option moving forward, especially in PPR leagues, and he's a difference maker for Fantasy owners down the stretch.

Matt Ryan struggles in desert: Last week I wrote in this column that it appeared Ryan would be OK without Julio Jones (foot) and Roddy White (hamstring). This week, Ryan showed he could still use his top weapons.

While Harry Douglas was a standout for the second week in a row with 12 catches for 121 yards on 18 targets, Ryan struggled with 34 of 61 passing for 301 yards, one touchdown and four interceptions. He got little help from Tony Gonzalez (three catches for 26 yards) and Steven Jackson (11 carries for 6 yards and three catches for 7 yards), who played for the first time since Week 2 because of a hamstring injury.

Drew Davis played well with five catches for 77 yards and a touchdown on seven targets, but we hope White will return in Week 9 at Carolina. Without White it will be hard to trust Ryan against a solid Panthers defense.

Colin Kaepernick comes alive: The last time we saw Kaepernick score more than 20 Fantasy points was Week 1 against Green Bay. Since then he's been at 19 Fantasy points twice, but he hasn't been able to break through -- until Sunday against the Jaguars in London.

Kaepernick was awesome with 10 of 16 passing for 164 yards and a touchdown and seven carries for 54 yards and two touchdowns. He finished with 29 Fantasy points, and he heads into his bye week ready to take off.

If you can still buy low on Kaepernick do it now because Mario Manningham (knee) could return in Week 10 against Carolina, and Michael Crabtree (Achilles) could be back in Week 11 at New Orleans or Week 12 at Washington. That's only going to make Kaepernick better, and I expect him to close the season strong.

Lamar Miller finally steps up: One week after Daniel Thomas looked like he was ready to take the lead in the Dolphins' backfield it was Miller who had the better game at New England. Thomas scored on a 5-yard reception, but he finished with just nine carries for 47 yards.

Miller, meanwhile, had 18 carries for 89 yards and three catches for 33 yards. It was a season-high in carries, rushing yards, catches and receiving yards for Miller, and we hope this is a sign of things to come.

Thomas still has value because he will continue to get touches, but Miller should be the star of this backfield. Buy low on Miller if his owner is still willing to part with him for something cheap.

Waiver Wire preview: Here is a preview of the players we will highlight in Playing the Waiver Wire on Tuesday.

Quarterbacks: Terrelle Pryor, Raiders (62 percent ownership on CBSSports.com), Jake Locker, Titans (42 percent), Jason Campbell, Browns (5 percent), Matt Barkley, Eagles (1 percent)

Running backs: Daniel Thomas, Dolphins (46 percent), Mike Tolbert, Panthers (42 percent), Montee Ball, Broncos (36 percent), Brandon Bolden, Patriots (29 percent), Fozzy Whittaker, Browns (1 percent), Anthony Sherman, Cardinals (0 percent)

Wide receivers: Michael Floyd, Cardinals (74 percent), Emmanuel Sanders, Steelers (54 percent), Marvin Jones, Bengals (38 percent), Aaron Dobson, Patriots (27 percent), Lance Moore, Saints (23 percent), Ted Ginn, Panthers (15 percent), Kenny Stills, Saints (12 percent), Dexter McCluster, Chiefs (3 percent), Mike Brown, Jaguars (2 percent), Drew Davis, Falcons (1 percent), David Nelson, Jets (0 percent)

Tight ends: Jermaine Gresham, Bengals (28 percent), Timothy Wright, Buccaneers (15 percent), Joel Dreessen, Broncos (1 percent)

Start 'Em/Sit 'Em star: We had Andy Dalton as a starter and Marvin Jones as a sleeper in the column, and both were awesome against the Jets. Dalton finished two Fantasy points behind Brees as the No. 2 quarterback this week with 41 points. He was 19 of 30 passing for 325 yards, five touchdowns and one interception. And he threw four touchdowns to Jones, who had eight catches for 122 yards on eight targets. Dalton is worth starting every week while he's hot, and Jones is a must-add receiver off the waiver wire.

Start 'Em/Sit 'Em flop: Rueben Randle was one of the few start suggestions I missed on in Week 8. He had a three-game scoring streak coming into his matchup with the Eagles, but he finished with no catches on just one target. His run as a quality Fantasy option might be over based on his declining target totals (from 14 to five to three to one since Week 5), and he is worth dropping if you need a roster spot in Week 9 with the Giants on a bye.

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
Cardinals coach Arians: I was not going to let Logan Thomas fail
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(8:46 pm ET) Cardinals coach Bruce Arians still believes in young quarterback Logan Thomas. Arians didn't want to ruin his confidence last season after being forced into action with multiple injuries to Arizona quarterbacks, reports the team's website.

"He's going to get a ton of work and those reps are invaluable," Arians said. "Just in decision-making, how fast you're getting it out of your hand, where you're going with it, where you're going when 'one' and 'two' are still covered. Are you still scrambling around or are you going to find your outlets? That growth process comes strictly from reps."

Arians still has a plan for the second-year pro.

"We drafted him for two years from now, not November," Arians said. "It just so happened his number got called (earlier.) I was not going to let him fail (in San Francisco) because once you fail those scars never go away.

"It's very hard to get the guys back in the locker room if you cost them the playoffs. I just wasn't going to put him in that situation. Right or wrong, it just was my decision."


DT Letroy Guion visits with Seahawks
by Elliott Smith | Staff Writer
(6:04 pm ET) Nose tackle Letroy Guion visited with the Seahawks on Friday, adding another suitor into the mix as the Packers attempt to retain his services, per ESPN.com.

After Guion's criminal case was closed earlier in the week, with Guion paying only a fine, the Seahawks set up a visit. Guion recorded career-highs in tackles (32) and sacks (3 1/2) with the Packers in 2014. 


Panthers claim OT Jonathan Martin off waivers
by Elliott Smith | Staff Writer
(4:27 pm ET) The Panthers announced Friday they have signed tackle Jonathan Martin off waivers, one day after the lineman was released by the 49ers. 

Martin played in 15 games with San Francisco last season, starting nine of them. Prior to that, he was a member Dolphins before being traded for a conditional seventh-round pick in 2014. The 25-year-old has started 32 of the 38 games he's played in. 

"Jonathan brings quality experience to our offensive line, having started 32 games in his career at both tackle spots," Panthers GM Dave Gettleman said. 


Panthers sign WR Jarrett Boykin to one-year deal
by Elliott Smith | Staff Writer
(2:22 pm ET) The Panthers signed free agent wide receiver Jarrett Boykin to a one-year deal Friday, per David Newton of ESPN.com. 

The 25-year-old receiver had a big campaign with the Packers in 2013, catching 49 passes for 681 yards, but fell out of favor last season, grabbing just three balls for 23 yards in 13 games. Boykin has 57 career receptions in three seasons, all with the Packers. 


Bears sign CB Alan Ball to one-year deal
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(12:44 pm ET) The Bears have signed cornerback Alan Ball to a one-year contract on Friday, per the team's official website.

Ball, 29, spent the last two seasons with the Jaguars, but was limited to only seven games in 2014 due to a biceps injury. He racked up 59 total tackles, 17 passes deflected and three interceptions over that span. He has played eight NFL seasons with the Cowboys, Texans and Jags.


Titans sign CB Brandon Harris to one-year deal
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(12:09 pm ET) The Titans have signed cornerback Brandon Harris to a one-year contract on Friday, per the team's official website. Harris played 11 games in 2014, his first season with the Titans. He finished with 11 combined tackles and three pass deflections last season.

Redskins' Thompson, Redd to compete for third-down back role
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(11:24 am ET) Redskins coach Jay Gruden said this week at the NFL owners' meetings running back Chris Thompson will get the first chance to secure third-down responsibilities, according to The Washington Post. Silas Redd will also get consideration for the role of third-down back.

“Chris [Thompson] came in last year at the end and did some things, and we’re hoping that he can come back and stay healthy in the offseason and give us a little jolt back there,” Gruden said. “And Silas Redd will get every chance to do some things also.”

Although, the Redskins could look to bring in some competition before training camp begins.

“I also think that at the running back position in the draft, there’s a ton of them,” Gruden said. “It’s a very deep running back draft in my opinion, and we’re excited to add another piece at some point, hopefully. We have seven picks. Hopefully one of them will be a running back, or a free agent to compete. There are some good free agents that haven’t been signed yet. But, giving Chris an opportunity, Silas, Alfred (Morris), that’s where it starts. And we’ll add some more later on for competition.”


Falcons could bring in Matt Schaub to vie for backup QB role
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(11:10 am ET) Falcons coach Dan Quinn is not ruling out bringing back former Atlanta quarterback Matt Schaub to compete for the backup role behind starter Matt Ryan, per ESPN.

"Schaub is certainly somebody that we could [add]," Quinn said. "As we get through it, we'll let you know if we go down that road."

The 34-year-old Schaub was released by the Raiders in mid-March. T.J. Yates and Sean Renfree are the other quarterbacks on the Falcons' roster.


Panthers' Rivera expecting Stephen Hill to contribute in 2015
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(10:45 am ET) Panthers coach Ron Rivera believes wide receiver Stephen Hill is ready to make an impact in 2015 after spending the 2014 season on the practice squad, per ESPN.

“Very much so," Rivera said Wednesday during the NFL owners meeting in Phoenix. “He’s a guy we feel has an opportunity. We’re very excited about [seeing] Stephen during OTAs and minicamp.

“With his size (6-4, 215) and speed and his ability to get vertical, if he can assimilate to what we do -- and I think he will; he seems to be a very smart man -- he might be a guy that has an opportunity to contribute for us."

Rivera felt Hill's year on the practice squad was beneficial after the 2012 second-round pick failed to live up to expectations during his tenure with the Jets. 

“I thought it was a good opportunity to take a step back and take a break," Rivera said. “The thing I liked about Stephen was how he contributed to our football team’s success. He came in. He had been a second-round pick. He had no assumptions, no entitlement.

“He ran all the scout teams for us. He ran them hard. Gave us great looks, which is what makes us excited 'cause you watch a guy perform who could very easily dog it, and he didn’t. And you saw him grow. You saw him make catches. You saw him get comfortable in his own skin again."


Terence Newman reunites with Mike Zimmer in Minnesota
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(10:16 am ET) The Vikings announced Friday they signed cornerback Terence Newman, who played for coach Mike Zimmer in Dallas and Cincinnati.

“That’s the biggest thing. He can still play. He came in the league later. I think he was 25 when he came in,” Zimmer said, per the team's official website. “He struggled a little bit in Dallas and then played great in Cincinnati. Last year, he didn’t play quite as good, so seemingly with me, we get things fixed a little bit. I really respect him, and I think he really respects me.”

Although terms of the deal were not officially released, NFL.com reported earlier this week the veteran cornerback's deal is a one-year, $2.5 million contract.


 
 
 
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