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Instant reactions from Week 11

Senior Fantasy Writer
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Bobby Rainey was the story of the day for Fantasy owners. And he could emerge as a difference maker down the stretch. But after his amazing performance against the Falcons, it's likely all downhill from here.

Rainey made his first start for the Buccaneers on Sunday against Atlanta, and he was awesome. He had 30 carries for 163 yards and two touchdowns and two catches for 4 yards and a score. He finished with 34 Fantasy points in a standard league, and it was the best performance for a Tampa Bay running back this season.

He's the fourth-string running back for the Buccaneers with Doug Martin (shoulder) and Mike James (ankle) out for the season. Brian Leonard was technically ahead of Rainey on the depth chart, but he played a complementary role against the Falcons with four carries for 16 yards and four catches for 21 yards. This was Rainey's day.

Martin's best game this season was 14 Fantasy points in Week 2 against New Orleans, and James had 21 points in Week 9 at Seattle. It makes you wonder just how good Martin could have been if he stayed healthy, but now the job belongs to Rainey, who is owned in just 62 percent of leagues on CBSSports.com.

Rainey, who scored in Week 10 against Miami in the game where James got hurt, doesn't have the easiest schedule coming up, which could be his downfall. He plays at Detroit in Week 12, at Carolina in Week 13, vs. Buffalo in Week 14, vs. San Francisco in Week 15, at St. Louis in Week 16 and at New Orleans in Week 17.

Take out the Saints game since most Fantasy leagues don't play in the final week, and the only somewhat favorable matchups are the Bills and Rams. What this means is you add Rainey now if still available or just keep him on your bench to see what develops. You don't have to start him every week just because he beat up a beatable Falcons defense.

The good news is a Tampa Bay running back has reached double digits in Fantasy points in three consecutive games against Seattle, Miami and Atlanta, but only the Seahawks have a formidable run defense. We'll see how Rainey does moving forward, and we're happy he's emerged as a potential starting option. But the upcoming schedule is daunting, and we're not sure Rainey will continue to succeed.

As for the other Buccaneers stars Sunday, Mike Glennon played well against the Falcons with 20 of 23 passing for 231 yards and two touchdowns for 21 Fantasy points, and he connected with Vincent Jackson for 10 catches, 165 yards and a touchdown for 22 points. Glennon can be considered a sleeper against the Lions in Week 12, and Jackson remains a must-start receiver in all leagues.

The only disappointment for Tampa Bay was Timothy Wright, who had another down game with one catch for 13 yards on two targets. He now has two catches for 32 yards and three targets the past two games, and he's not worth starting most weeks until he starts to show more consistent production.

Injuries of note: Jordan Reed (concussion), Emmanuel Sanders (foot), Mike Brown (shoulder), Joique Bell (ankle), Keenan Allen (knee)

We hope Reed will be OK for Week 12 against San Francisco after he left Sunday's game at Philadelphia in the first half. He finished with just one catch for 12 yards on one target before getting hurt.

Sanders was hurt in the first half against the Lions and finished with one catch for 2 yards. If he's able to play in Week 12 at Cleveland then consider him a sleeper based on how No. 2 receivers have done against the Browns this season.

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Brown had two catches for 23 yards on three targets against the Cardinals before getting hurt. Even if he plays in Week 12 at Houston he would have minimal Fantasy value, and Brown has been a disappointment since taking over for the suspended Justin Blackmon.

Bell was doing great against the Steelers before getting hurt in the fourth quarter. He had nine carries for 49 yards and a touchdown and three catches for 48 yards. Bell got an extended look because Reggie Bush lost a fumble early in the game. Keep an eye on Bell's status heading into Week 12 against Tampa Bay, and he could be considered a sleeper in deeper leagues if healthy.

Allen, as expected, struggled at Miami with three catches for 45 yards on six targets. Hopefully he will be OK in Week 12 at Kansas City, but it's a tough matchup even if he's 100 percent.

Strange day for Houston quarterbacks: Case Keenum started Sunday's game against Oakland, but he was benched in the third quarter in favor of Matt Schaub. The reason given was a change in the game plan, and coach Gary Kubiak felt Schaub could handle it better. What?

Keenum wasn't playing great at that point at 13 of 24 passing for 170 yards, one touchdown and one interception, but he had obviously played well the past three games in place of Schaub. The move didn't make much sense, and Schaub didn't outplay Keenum at 12 of 25 passing for 155 yards.

Schaub helped Houston get back in the game, but he failed to connect with Andre Johnson in the end zone on the Texans' final play, resulting in a shouting match with Johnson and Schaub. It was an ugly scene after an ugly loss for a struggling team.

We're not sure who's starting for the Texans in Week 12 against Jacksonville, but keep an eye on what develops. The starter will have some sleeper appeal for Fantasy owners, especially if the Texans do the right thing and go back to Keenum.

As for Ben Tate, he played well with 19 carries for 88 yards and four catches for 29 yards on six targets. He also failed to score on the final drive, but he's a must-start option against the Jaguars.

We also like Garrett Graham against Jacksonville, and he played well against Oakland with seven catches for 136 yards and a touchdown.

Nick Foles shines, Riley Cooper struggles: Foles continued his stellar play for Fantasy owners against the Redskins. He was 17 of 26 passing for 298 yards, and he was great as a rusher with nine carries for 47 yards and a touchdown. He finished with 21 Fantasy points, which was his third game in a row with 20-plus points.

His top target, however, finally cooled off as Riley Cooper struggled with just three catches for 37 yards on seven targets. It was his first game with fewer than eight Fantasy points with Foles starting.

Philadelphia has a bye in Week 12, but when they come back in Week 13 against Arizona you should continue to start Foles. And Cooper will remain a viable Fantasy option in all leagues since it's clear Foles trusts him. His seven targets led the Eagles.

Andre Ellington disappoints: It doesn't appear like Ellington is going to materialize as the must-start Fantasy option we hope he can be. He struggled again in a great matchup at Jacksonville with just eight carries for 3 yards and two catches for 10 yards.

Rashard Mendenhall again had more work with 13 carries for 14 yards and a touchdown and three catches for 13 yards. Unless Mendenhall is out, as we saw in Week 8 against Atlanta when Ellington had 21 Fantasy points, you can't start Ellington with confidence.

The Cardinals did have a great performance from Carson Palmer and Michael Floyd. Palmer was 30 of 42 passing for 419 yards and two touchdowns, and Floyd had six catches for 193 yards and a touchdown on 11 targets, despite dealing with a shoulder injury coming into the game.

Palmer is a nice sleeper heading into Week 12 against the Colts, but keep in mind this was just his second game with 20-plus points this season. And Floyd is finally starting to look like the breakout player we predicted with his second touchdown in his past three games.

Ray Rice finally shows up: Rice took advantage of a great matchup against the Bears with his best game of the season. He had 25 carries for 131 yards and a touchdown and caught three passes for 17 yards.

This was Rice's best game since Week 5 against the Dolphins and just his third game with double digits in Fantasy points this season. We hope it's a sign of things to come, but he has a tough matchup against the Jets in Week 12.

Rice is just a flex option against the Jets, but if he plays well in that game then we can consider him back and ready to close the season strong. Just be cautious because almost everyone has run on the Bears of late. I would actually try to sell high on Rice after this game if your trade deadline hasn't passed yet.

Big rebound game for Big Ben: Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger took advantage of a great matchup against the Lions with 29 of 45 passing for 367 yards and four touchdowns. He connected on two touchdowns to Antonio Brown, who had seven catches for 147 yards. Jerricho Cotchery also scored his fifth touchdown in the past three games.

Roethlisberger bounced back after struggling against Buffalo in Week 9 with 12 Fantasy points, and hopefully he's about to get on a roll. He has another good matchup in Week 12 at Cleveland, and you should consider Roethlisberger a starting option in the majority of leagues.

As for Cotchery (51 percent ownership), his value could continue to rise with Sanders banged up. Brown is a must-start Fantasy option in all leagues.

Bye-bye McFadden?: Darren McFadden (hamstring) missed his second game in a row, but he wasn't missed for the Raiders or even Fantasy owners. That's because Rashad Jennings continues to shine.

Jennings had 22 carries for 150 yards and a touchdown and two catches for minus-2 yards at Houston. He now has at least nine Fantasy points in each of the past three games, and he should do well in Week 12 against Tennessee.

We'll find out when McFadden will return, but as long as he's out consider using Jennings as at least a flex option.

It was a good day for the Raiders with Matthew McGloin stepping in for the injured Terrelle Pryor (knee), and he was 18 of 32 passing for 197 yards and three touchdowns and no interceptions. Rod Streater also had six catches for 84 yards and a touchdown on eight targets, and Mychal Rivera had five catches for 54 yards and a score on six targets. Denarius Moore scored, but he had only two catches for 11 yards on six targets.

Streater and Rivera are still mediocre Fantasy options despite the big games, and McGloin also has a long way to go. Moore is a low-end Fantasy option at this point, but Jennings is the one to watch going forward.

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

Quarterbacks: Carson Palmer, Cardinals (49 percent), Mike Glennon, Buccaneers (33 percent), EJ Manuel, Bills (16 percent), Matt Schaub, Texans (15 percent), Matthew McGloin, Raiders (1 percent)

Running backs: Rashard Mendenhall, Cardinals (64 percent), Bobby Rainey, Buccaneers (62 percent), Donald Brown, Colts (61 percent), Daniel Thomas, Dolphins (34 percent), Chris Ogbonnaya, Browns (34 percent), Toby Gerhart, Vikings (8 percent), Fozzy Whittaker, Browns (1 percent), Darrel Young, Redskins (1 percent), Antone Smith, Falcons (0 percent), Frank Summers, Bills (0 percent)

Wide receivers: Michael Floyd, Cardinals (62 percent), Jerricho Cotchery, Steelers (51 percent), Doug Baldwin, Seahawks (33 percent), Santonio Holmes, Jets (30 percent), Rod Streater, Raiders (11 percent), Mohamed Sanu, Bengals (9 percent), Marquise Goodwin, Bills (3 percent), Robert Meachem, Saints (2 percent), Ace Sanders, Jaguars (1 percent), Jarius Wright, Vikings (0 percent), T.J. Graham, Bills (0 percent), Aldrick Robinson, Redskins (0 percent)

Tight ends: Heath Miller, Steelers (63 percent), Rob Housler, Cardinals (41 percent), Delanie Walker, Titans (40 percent), Garrett Graham, Texans (36 percent), John Carlson, Vikings (24 percent), Jermaine Gresham, Bengals (21 percent), Zach Miller, Seahawks (18 percent), Jeff Cumberland, Jets (7 percent), Ladarius Green, Chargers (1 percent), Danny Noble, Jaguars (0 percent), Mychal Rivera, Raiders (0 percent)

Start 'Em/Sit 'Em star: The Jets got blasted by the Bills on Sunday in a 37-14 loss, but Chris Ivory was still stellar. He had 15 carries for 98 yards and a touchdown and now has double digits in Fantasy points in three of his past four games. He doesn't have a great matchup in Week 12 at Baltimore, but it's clear when he gets enough work in a favorable matchup he can post solid production.

Start 'Em/Sit 'Em flop: I had high expectations for Percy Harvin in his return from preseason hip surgery, and he looked fresh despite little action against Minnesota. He had one catch for 17 yards on one target and returned a kickoff for 58 yards. Seattle is on a bye in Week 12, but we should see the best of Harvin to close the season starting in Week 13.

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
Aaron Rodgers taking on a tough task Week 1
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(9:02 pm ET) Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has his work cut out for him Week 1 against the Seahawks.

Rodgers entered the season as one of the top Fantasy options at quarterback, but will take on the best defense in the league. Last season, Seattle held Fantasy quarterbacks to just 10.89 points per game. That was the lowest rate in the league. The Seahawks DST ranked tops in the league in limiting points and yards last year. On top of that, the team forced the most turnovers.

While Seattle lost three members of the defensive line during the offseason, the club is still expected to have one of NFL’s best defenses. If Seattle struggles to get to Rodgers, that could open things up for the Packers offense.

Given the cost to acquire Rodgers, in a snake or auction draft, he’s probably going to start for most Fantasy teams despite his tough Week 1 matchup. While there are better quarterback options for this week, Rodgers still has a strong potential for dominance. He’s healthy and still has a bevy of weapons at his disposal. It might not be Rodgers best game of the season, but he’s shown that he can put up numbers against even the best defensive clubs.


Percy Harvin looking to start the year on the right foot
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(8:37 pm ET) Seahawks wide receiver Percy Harvin is looking at a strong matchup Week 1 against the Packers.

A quiet preseason was a good preseason for Harvin. After missing nearly all of last season due to a hip injury, Harvin was able to play in all but the final game of the preseason. He missed the fourth game due to a personal issue, and not because of an injury. Harvin caught seven balls for 92 yards in August.

The Packers didn’t boast a strong pass defense last season. The team allowed opposing wide receivers to average 22.94 Fantasy points per game. That wasn’t one of the worst rates in the league, but it was below-average. The team attempted to address this during the offseason, taking Ha Ha Clinton-Dix in the first round. Despite that, there’s no guarantee the team will perform better in the defensive backfield.

Despite the fact that Harvin is a five-year veteran, there are questions about how he’ll be used with the Seahawks. While Harvin was able to play during the club’s playoff run, it was unclear whether he was actually fully healthy last year. Harvin has shown the ability to be a game-changing wide receiver, so it’s assumed the Seahawks will find ways to get arguably their best playmaker the ball. The club has been been incredibly run-heavy over the past few seasons, but a healthy Harvin could make them more balanced. 


Marshawn Lynch ready to roll Week 1
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(8:35 pm ET) Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch is looking to get off to a good start Week 1 against the Packers.

Lynch had an abbreviated preseason, carrying the ball just three times for 16 yards. That’s probably not a bad thing considering his high workload over the past couple years. Lynch also had a brief holdout during the offseason, but reported to camp in shape, and should be ready to roll.

The Packers weren’t particularly strong against the run last season, giving up 19.18 Fantasy points per week to running backs. That was the eighth worst figure in the league. While the team tried to shore up things defensively during the offseason, the loss of B.J. Raji should make it easier for teams to gash the Packers up the middle. 

With that in mind, Lynch should be a strong start. The Seahawks modus operandi the past couple years has been the run game, and that probably won’t change now. There are concerns about Lynch’s workload and lack of preseason reps, but his pedigree and matchup make this a strong start Week 1. 


Russell Wilson ready to shine Week 1?
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(8:33 pm ET) Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson begins his post-Super Bowl year with a strong matchup against the Packers Week 1. 

Wilson performed well during the preseason, completing 78.6 percent of his passes. He threw for three touchdowns and zero interceptions. Wilson also managed three rushing touchdowns to cap off a strong preseason.

His ability to put up solid Fantasy numbers should be tested Week 1. The Packers did not boast a great defense against the pass last season. The team allowed quarterbacks to score 20.65 Fantasy points, which was the seventh worst clip in the league. Green Bay has been proactive in resolving the issue, drafting Ha Ha Clinton-Dix in the first round, but it’s unclear how much better the team’s defensive backs will perform. 

The bigger question will be whether the Seahawks open up the offense for Wilson this season. With Marshawn Lynch out for much of the preseason, Wilson showed the ability to carry the team with his arm. Now that Lynch is back, the team could opt to get back to conservative play-calling with the franchise quarterback. Wilson has all the makings of a strong matchup here, but could get the short end of the stick if the Seahawks pound Lynch.


Matt Forte should live up to billing in Week 1
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(8:25 pm ET) Bears running back Matt Forte was ranked as a top five Fantasy running back going into the season, and he falls in the top five in both weekly running back rankings from CBSSports.com experts. After setting career highs in rushing yardage, rushing touchdowns, receptions and receiving yardage in 2013, will Forte get this season started off on the right foot in Week 1 against the Bills?

While Buffalo put together a strong defense last season, the team's particular strength was against the pass. Rushers were able to gain 4.4 yards per carry against the Bills, leaving them 23rd in the league in the category. While the Bills did a good job defending against pass-catching backs last season, they now have to play without linebackers Kiko Alonso (season-ending injury) and Nigel Bradham (suspended for Week 1) as well as safety Jairus Byrd (signed with New Orleans).

New defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz's defense was just average defending passes against running backs in Detroit last season. Forte has been excellent against Schwartz, who was the head coach of the Lions from 2009 through 2013. He has rushed for 1,005 yards and averaged 4.74 yards per carry while catching 38 passes for 360 yards in 12 career games against the Lions. Ten of those contests came with Schwartz at the helm, and Forte should be able to continue giving the Bills defensive coordinator nightmares this Sunday.


Martellus Bennett worth starting in Week 1
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(8:09 pm ET) Bears tight end Martellus Bennett posted career-best numbers in 2013, catching 65 passes for 759 yards while matching his career high of five touchdowns. Three of those five scores came in the first two weeks of the season, and he could be on the verge of starting off hot for the third straight season.

Bennett is in danger of getting lost offensively on a week-to-week basis, as there are only so many opportunities to go around for Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery, Matt Forte and the tight end. He faces a plus matchup in Week 1, with the Bills dealing with a depleted linebacker corps and the loss of free safety Jairus Byrd. While the one thing new defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz's defense did well in Detroit last year was defend the tight end, the Bills don't appear to have the personnel to match up with the imposing Bennett.

Bennett falls inside the top 12 in the weekly rankings of both CBSSports.con Fantasy experts, designating him as starter material in standard leagues. We could see a similar line to his opener against the Bengals last season: three receptions, 49 yards and one touchdown.


Khiry Robinson looking to solidify role
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(8:03 pm ET) Of the Saints' top three running backs, Khiry Robinson's role is the most unclear heading into Week 1 at Atlanta, making him a risky choice in Fantasy despite the favorable matchup.

Mark Ingram is expected to start for the Saints and get the largest percentage of the carries. Pierre Thomas, who led all running backs with 77 receptions last season, still figures to play a big role in the passing game. Robinson, who wasn't nearly as effective as Ingram this preseason, averaging just 3.4 yards per carry, could end up being just a change-of-pace option.

If he gets a decent number of touches, he could surprise against a defense that ranked 31st against the run last season, allowing 135.8 yards per game, but that's too big of a gamble for standard 12-team leagues.

Neither Jamey Eisenberg nor Dave Richard ranks Robinson among his top 48 running backs for this week.


Mark Ingram could begin 2014 on right foot
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(7:58 pm ET) Coming off an impressive preseason in which he started three of the Saints' four games and ran 22 times for 156 yards (averaging 7.1 yards per carry), running back Mark Ingram has a chance to make an even bigger impression Week 1 at Atlanta.

The Falcons ranked 31st against the run last season, allowing 135.8 yards per game.

Ingram didn't do much in two games against them then, rushing nine times for 11 yards in the first and nine times for 32 yards in the second, but he picked up his pace later in the year, rushing 44 times for 249 yards in his final four games (including two playoff games) for an average of 5.7 yards per carry.

Beginning his fourth NFL season, Ingram is expected to play his biggest role yet for the Saints. He'll still split carries with Pierre Thomas and Khiry Robinson, but with a strong matchup after a favorable preseason, he's not a bad third running back for Week 1. Jamey Eisenberg and Dave Richard both rank him as a top-30 option in non-PPR leagues.


Alshon Jeffery owners should temper Week 1 expectations
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(7:54 pm ET) Bears wide receiver Alshon Jeffery enjoyed one of the biggest breakouts of the 2013 season, racking up more than 1,500 total yards and scoring seven touchdowns. As a result, he's been selected in the top 10 at his position in most 2014 Fantasy drafts, placing him in WR1 territory as owners look for a big follow-up. But it's entirely possible his third season may get off to a slow start Sunday when the Bears face the Bills at Soldier Field.

Jeffery feasted on big plays last year, scoring from 45, 46 and 80 yards out, but only one of his touchdowns came over the middle of the field, where the Bills project to be weakest on Sunday. Buffalo was the best team in the league against No. 2 receivers in 2013, per Football Outsiders, thanks to quality cornerback play from Stephen Gilmore and Leodis McKelvin. The latter allowed just two touchdowns all season while breaking up 13 passes, so even if the supremely talented Jeffery gets isolated on the corner, he's no lock to come through with a long score.

Jeffery, who caught just three of his seven TDs on passes from starter Jay Cutler last year, should be primed for another big season. But before Cutler's injury, Jeffery hauled in just one catch in two of his team's first six games. Cutler could favor Brandon Marshall Sunday if he continues to face a soft defense over the middle, potentially leaving Jeffery owners a little disappointed in his Week 1 numbers.


Pierre Thomas could make statement
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(7:44 pm ET) Carrying the ball just three times in two games this preseason games didn't exactly relieve concerns of Pierre Thomas playing a reduced role in the Saints running game this season -- a possibility he acknowledged earlier this preseason -- but he has the right matchup to make a statement Week 1 at Atlanta.

The Falcons were dreadful against the run last season, allowing 135.8 yards per game, second-most in the league. Thomas himself took advantage in the second of the two games the Saints played against them last year, picking up 73 yards on 10 carries and 57 on five catches Week 12 at Atlanta.

That second number should give Fantasy owners hope for this matchup. With Darren Sproles and Lance Moore out of the picture, Thomas should still play a significant role in the passing game. He led all running backs with 77 catches last year and had four catches for 66 yards in one of his two preseason games.

CBSSports.com Fantasy Football analyst Jamey Eisenberg likes Thomas enough with this matchup to rank him 21st among running backs this week. Dave Richard isn't as optimistic, ranking him 37th.


 
 
 
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