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Instant reactions from Week 12

Senior Fantasy Writer
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The Cardinals are looking like a playoff team in the NFC, and Fantasy owners headed for the playoffs might be relying on their players as key contributors.

Carson Palmer has emerged as a starting Fantasy option, and he's owned in just 66 percent of leagues on CBSSports.com. He was great in Week 12 against the Colts with 26 of 37 passing for 314 yards and two touchdowns. He now has 20-plus Fantasy points in each of the past two games, and he's thrown multiple touchdowns in four games in a row.

Palmer has a great upcoming schedule for the next two games at Philadelphia in Week 13 and against St. Louis in Week 14. He is worth starting in those two matchups based on his recent level of play, and his offensive line is playing better with just five sacks allowed the past three games.

Helping Palmer is obviously Larry Fitzgerald, who was awesome against the Colts with five catches for 52 yards and two touchdowns on 11 targets, and he now has double digits in Fantasy points in consecutive games for the first time all season. He should do well again in Week 13 against the Eagles.

Michael Floyd also starred for the second week in a row with seven catches for 104 yards on seven targets. He now has 13 catches for 297 yards and a touchdown on 18 targets the past two games, and he is worth starting against the Eagles as well.

Rob Housler had four catches for 51 yards against Indianapolis on five targets, and he now has at least 50 receiving yards in three games in a row and four of his past five outings. He's just a No. 2 Fantasy tight end, but he is helping Palmer play better.

As for the running backs, Rashard Mendenhall continues to play better than Andre Ellington, and Mendenhall is the Cardinals running back to own. He had 13 carries for 54 yards and a touchdown and one catch for 24 yards against the Colts, and Ellington had 10 carries for 50 yards and two catches for 21 yards. Mendenhall now has scored in consecutive games, and since he's getting more work than Ellington he has more value moving forward.

Injuries of note: Zac Stacy (concussion), Ryan Mathews (hamstring), Chris Ivory (ankle), Daniel Thomas (ankle), Jason Campbell (head), Eddie Lacy (ribs)

Stacy was on his way to a huge game before leaving in the second quarter against Chicago. He finished with 12 carries for 87 yards and a touchdown and one catch for 10 yards. Benny Cunningham replaced Stacy and had 13 carries for 109 yards and a touchdown. Keep an eye on Stacy's status heading into Week 13 at San Francisco, but if he's out then Cunningham (1 percent ownership on CBSSports.com) is worth adding in all leagues even with a tough matchup.

Mathews had his third game in a row with double digits in Fantasy points at Kansas City before getting hurt in the third quarter. He finished the game with 14 carries for 55 yards and a touchdown and two catches for 10 yards. If he's out for Week 13 against Cincinnati then Danny Woodhead and Ronnie Brown would take on a bigger role. Woodhead remains a quality Fantasy option in all leagues with or without Mathews, but ignore Brown (1 percent) in most formats.

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Ivory played through an ankle injury against the Ravens, and he struggled with nine carries for 36 yards. He's headed for an MRI, and the timing is awful with a matchup against Miami's poor run defense in Week 13. If Ivory is out then add Bilal Powell (43 percent) in all leagues based on the matchup against the Dolphins.

Thomas was carted off the field in the third quarter against Carolina after he had three carries for 8 yards and two catches for 2 yards. His absence will help Lamar Miller, but you're not starting either running back against the Jets.

Campbell was knocked out against the Steelers after he completed 14 of 22 passes for 124 yards and no touchdowns. He's likely done as the starter for the Browns, and you can expect Brandon Weeden to start in Week 13 against Jacksonville. Weeden (4 percent) is not worth owning in any leagues.

Lacy is expected to be fine after he rushed 25 times for 110 yards and a touchdown and had six catches for 48 yards against Minnesota. He was in and out of the overtime period, but keep an eye on his status with the short week playing at Detroit on Thursday. If he's out then James Starks (53 percent) would start against the Lions.

Philip Rivers crushes Chiefs: Rivers benefited with Kansas City losing its top two pass rushers in Justin Houston (elbow) and Tamba Hali (ankle) early in the game, and he was awesome. He completed 27 of 39 passes for 392 yards and three touchdowns, including the game-winner to Seyi Ajirotutu.

This was just Rivers second time with more than 20 Fantasy points in his past six games, and we hope he can get hot again. He started the season with at least 22 Fantasy points in four of his first five games before tailing off.

It helped that Keenan Allen also had a huge game with nine catches for 124 yards on 12 targets, and the Chargers might have found another weapon in rookie tight end Ladarius Green, who had three catches for 80 yards and a touchdown on five targets. Green (1 percent) now has seven catches for 161 yards and a touchdown in his past two games.

Bobby Rainey falls flat: Rainey was the No. 1 running back in standard leagues in Week 11 with 34 Fantasy points, but he struggled in Week 12 at Detroit. He finished with 18 carries for 35 yards and no catches on one target against the Lions.

Don't panic and give up on Rainey yet. He has another tough matchup in Week 13 at Carolina, but after that he should be a flex option in Week 14 against Buffalo.

The Bucs beat the Lions with Mike Glennon and Tiquan Underwood as the offensive stars. Glennon was 14 of 21 passing for 247 yards and two touchdowns, with both going to Underwood, who had three catches for 108 yards and both scores.

Glennon now has consecutive games with 20-plus Fantasy points, but he should struggle in Week 13 against the Panthers. And you can add Underwood (1 percent) in deeper leagues, but his performance against the Lions will easily be his best of the season and not duplicated.

Nate Burleson back to work: Burleson returned from his seven-game absence with a broken arm and was great against Tampa Bay with seven catches for 77 yards and a touchdown on 10 targets. He now has at least seven Fantasy points in three of his four games this season.

Burleson is only owned in 35 percent of leagues, and he should be added in all formats. He has a great matchup against the Packers in Week 13.

Mike Wallace finally shines: Wallace had the type of game Fantasy owners wanted to see all season long, and he did it against a tough opponent like the Panthers of all teams. Wallace had his best game of the year with five catches for a season-high 127 yards and a touchdown on 10 targets.

It was a season high in yards, just his second touchdown since Week 2 and it was his most targets since Week 5. Where has this been all season? Wallace had two plays of 50-plus yards, and he could have had a bigger game except Ryan Tannehill overthrew him on one long pass and he nearly hauled in the game-winner with under 30 seconds remaining.

We doubt Wallace will do this again in Week 13 against the Jets, but this should now give you encouragement for Wallace going forward the rest of the season.

Texans hard to trust: The Texans have become an embarrassment -- for their fans and Fantasy owners. It's becoming difficult to trust them even when they have good matchups.

Sunday's game against Jacksonville at home was supposed to be a bonanza. Even with the Jaguars playing better of late, the Texans main offensive weapons for this week -- Case Keenum, Ben Tate, Andre Johnson and Garrett Graham -- were supposed to be stars. Instead they were duds.

Keenum was 18 of 34 passing for 169 yards and one interception. Tate was outplayed by Dennis Johnson with seven carries for 1 yard and five catches for 26 yards (Johnson had 13 carries for 74 yards and two catches for 13 yards). Andre Johnson only had two catches for 36 yards on six targets. And Graham had five catches for 32 yards on nine targets.

The Texans remaining schedule is favorable (vs. NE in Week 13, at JAC in Week 14, at IND in Week 15, vs. DEN in Week 16 and at TEN in Week 17), but Andre Johnson is likely the only must-start Fantasy option. And even he's going to need better quarterback play to succeed.

Sure, Tate will have the chance to be a flex option, barring news that the Texans are making the switch to Dennis Johnson as the starter. But Keenum is done as a relevant Fantasy option since the bye weeks are over, and Graham is also droppable, especially with Owen Daniels (leg) expected back in Week 14.

Josh Gordon dominates with two quarterbacks: It didn't matter who was throwing Gordon the ball Sunday against the Steelers, he was still a star. He had 14 catches for a franchise-record 237 yards and a touchdown on 17 targets.

The Browns will likely stick with Weeden in Week 13 against Jacksonville, and Weeden and Gordon did well connecting with each other after Campbell went out. Gordon should be considered a must-start Fantasy receiver the rest of the season in all leagues, as if there was any doubt.

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

Quarterbacks: Alex Smith, Chiefs (68 percent), Carson Palmer, Cardinals (66 percent), Mike Glennon, Buccaneers (53 percent), Ryan Tannehill, Dolphins (42 percent), Josh McCown, Bears (37 percent), Ryan Fitzpatrick, Titans (20 percent), EJ Manuel, Bills (17 percent), Matt McGloin, Raiders (6 percent), Brandon Weeden, Browns (4 percent), Matt Flynn, Packers (3 percent)

Running backs: Rashard Mendenhall, Cardinals (66 percent), James Starks, Packers (53 percent), Bilal Powell, Jets (43 percent), Brandon Jacobs, Giants (29 percent), Dennis Johnson, Texans (20 percent), Michael Bush, Bears (16 percent), Toby Gerhart, Vikings (16 percent), Marcel Reece, Raiders (6 percent), Benny Cunningham, Rams (1 percent), Ronnie Brown, Chargers (1 percent)

Wide receivers: Tavon Austin, Rams (73 percent), Emmanuel Sanders, Steelers (68 percent), Nate Burleson, Lions (35 percent), Rod Streater, Raiders (24 percent), Dexter McCluster, Chiefs (18 percent), Donnie Avery, Chiefs (15 percent), Cordarrelle Patterson, Vikings (14 percent), Jacoby Jones, Ravens (12 percent), Ace Sanders, Jaguars (4 percent), Tiquan Underwood, Buccaneers (1 percent), Justin Hunter, Titans (1 percent), Seyi Ajirotutu, Chargers (0 percent)

Tight ends: Jared Cook, Titans (51 percent), Timothy Wright, Buccaneers (50 percent), Rob Housler, Cardinals (40 percent), Brandon Pettigrew, Lions (35 percent), Brandon Myers, Giants (15 percent), Joseph Fauria, Lions (15 percent), Anthony Fasano, Chiefs (3 percent), Benjamin Watson, Saints (2 percent), Ladarius Green, Chargers (1 percent), Rhett Ellison, Vikings (0 percent)

Start 'Em/Sit 'Em star: Kendall Wright had only scored one touchdown prior to Week 12, but he found the end zone again Sunday at Oakland. He finished with six catches for 103 yards and the score on seven targets. It was also his first 100-yard game of the season. Wright is a must-start in all PPR leagues, and he would be worth starting in all standard leagues if he found the end zone on a more consistent basis.

Start 'Em/Sit 'Em flop: Joe Haden let me down. I expected him to shut down Antonio Brown like he did nearly every No. 1 receiver he had faced all season, but Brown had the best game against Haden this year. He finished with six catches for 92 yards and a touchdown and showed he's matchup proof, so start him in all leagues moving forward.

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
Jimmy Smith cited on misdemeanor charge
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(7/13/2014) Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith was cited by police Saturday night for failing to follow an officer's orders. The misdemeanor charge came after police responded to a report of a woman passed out in a restaurant bathroom in Towson.

The woman was vomiting into a bathroom sink when police arrived. Smith was with the woman and "refused to obey an officer's repeated orders to leave the bathroom," police said.

Smith became the fifth Raven to get in trouble with police this offseason.


Chris Harris targeting midway point of preseason
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(7/11/2014) Broncos cornerback Chris Harris, who's coming back from ACL surgery, told ESPN he expects to be cleared for full participation by the midway point of the preseason. Harris said the exact timetable hinges on his upcoming visit to his surgeon, Dr. James Andrews.

"I’m doing everything, there’s really nothing I can’t do right now," Harris told the network. "I still have to go see Dr. Andrews at the end of the month and get checked up and he’ll pretty much let us know the plan from there."

Harris had 65 tackles and three interceptions last year before getting hurt in the playoffs.


Dimitri Patterson a starter by default
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(7/11/2014) Unable to land a high-end free agent cornerback, the Jets "were forced to settle for journeyman Dimitri Patterson as a consolation," notes The Star-Ledger. Patterson, who projects to start opposite Dee Milliner, is on his sixth team in 10 seasons and has played all 16 games just once in his career.

If Patterson falters, third-round pick Dexter McDougle could get a shot.


Fred Jackson in danger of losing carries
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(7/11/2014) Bills running back Fred Jackson might not approach the 207 carries he received last year. According to WGR550.com, Jackson will once again split time with C.J. Spiller but also potentially lose snaps to the team's additions at running back, Bryce Brown and Anthony Dixon.

The website said Jackson, 33, who's entering the last year of his deal, will be trying to prove how much he has left.


Teammate: Bitterness won't linger from Jimmy Graham standoff
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(7/11/2014) Saints tight end Benjamin Watson told ESPN that the the team's arbitration fight with Jimmy Graham over whether he's a receiver or a tight end won't have a longterm detrimental effect. Watson is hopeful the sides will reach a multiyear contract agreement by Tuesday's deadline.

"I’m very confident that it’ll be resolved the right way and guys can move forward," Watson said. "Obviously it’s always tough when you go through litigation with somebody, and it can probably get heated. And I’m sure there are emotions on both sides. But that is the business side of the game. 

"And it’s unfortunate that it came to that and that it was so public. But I really think -- I know, I don’t think -- I know that Jimmy loves New Orleans and I know that he loves our team and the organization and he loves playing here. And we love him, everybody wants him here, coaches included. So when it comes down to contract situations, that’s just a necessary evil ... not even evil, but just a necessary progression of getting a player here."


Dallas Thomas eyes starting job
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(7/11/2014) Dolphins coach Joe Philbin named Dallas Thomas one of the team's most improved players, and he has a good chance to start at left guard, according to the team's website. A third-round pick in last year's draft, Thomas played only four offensive snaps last season.

Thomas worked with the first team during spring drills and is much further along than he was in 2013. He stayed in South Florida throughout the offseason to get better prepared.

"You’ve got to know your material, you’ve got to know what you’re doing on the field because stuff happens so fast," Thomas said. "You’ve got to be able to just react to it and not even think about what’s happening on the field."


Spencer Nealy hit with four-game ban
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(7/11/2014) The NFL suspended Vikings defensive end Spencer Nealy four games for violating the league's policy on performance enhancing substances. An undrafted free agent out of Texas A&M, the 24-year-old Nealy did not play in a game last season.

Nealy apologized and took responsibility in a statement, saying he took a supplement containing a banned stimulant.


Jarrett Boykin will be 'hard to dislodge'
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(7/11/2014) Jarrett Boykin improved dramatically last season and "will be hard to dislodge" from the Packers' No. 3 receiver job, reports the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. Boykin will have to hold off second-round pick Davante Adams, fifth-rounder Jared Abbrederis and seventh-rounder Jeff Janis.

Boykin, 24, caught 49 passes for 681 yards and three touchdowns last season.


Trent Richardson might not get long leash
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(7/11/2014) Averaging 2.9 yards a carry, like he did last year, will get Trent Richardson benched quickly, reports ESPN.com. Richardson "will have to produce right away because it's unlikely the Colts will wait for him to get going" if running backs Ahmad Bradshaw and Vick Ballard are healthy and productive, the website said.

Richardson likely will get the first shot at the starting job. He has a much better grasp of the playbook than he did in 2013 and the belief is he'll be able to run on instinct as opposed to overthinking, the report said.


Bruce Ellington trying to overcome stature
by Jeff Borzello | College Basketball Writer
(7/11/2014) At 5-foot-9, Bruce Ellington is the shortest receiver on the 49ers' roster. But the fourth-round pick out of South Carolina should not be discounted, his high school coach, Jerry Brown, told the Sacramento Bee.

Brown said Ellington is relentless at finding open space and catching everything thrown his way. "Football's played on a big field and it's hard to track someone like Bruce who's got so much agility," Brown said.

Ellington believes he has lots of room for growth because he only gave up basketball last year. Also a former track competitor, Ellington clocked a 4.45 forty at the combine.

"I'm just going to work hard, give it a hundred (percent) every time I step on the field and keep on chasing the dream," he said.


 
 
 
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