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Instant reactions from Week 16

Senior Fantasy Writer
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In case there was any doubt, Peyton Manning won the Fantasy MVP with his performance Sunday. He helped many owners win a championship with his record-setting outing at Houston.

By comparison, Drew Brees might have lost the championship for Fantasy owners with his poor showing at Carolina. More on him later.

Manning set the NFL single-season record against the Texans with 51 touchdowns, which broke Tom Brady's record set in 2007. Manning was 32 of 51 passing for 400 yards and four touchdowns, connecting with Eric Decker for two scores, Demaryius Thomas and Julius Thomas. Julius Thomas caught the historic touchdown in the fourth quarter.

Manning has the chance to add to his totals in Week 17 at Oakland since the Broncos are still chasing the No. 1 overall seed in the AFC. That's great for Fantasy owners who still play into the final week of the season and own all the prominent Broncos.

As for Brees, he struggled outdoors again, which was disappointing. He was 30 of 44 passing for 281 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions against the Panthers in a rain-soaked game. This is now three games this season with 15 Fantasy points or less outdoors, and it could be trouble for Brees and the Saints heading into the playoffs if they don't end up winning the NFC South and have to travel in the first round to an outdoor venue.

The good news for Fantasy owners in Week 17 is Brees and the Saints will likely be playing all their regulars against Tampa Bay -- at home. He'll bounce back and end his season on a high note.

In terms of teams resting players next week, the only playoff team you have to worry about is Kansas City since the Chiefs are locked into the No. 5 seed in the AFC. That impacts Jamaal Charles, so keep an eye on Knile Davis on waivers if you play in Week 17.

Injuries of note: Shane Vereen (groin), Tony Romo (back), Emmanuel Sanders (knee), Steve Smith (knee), Eddie Lacy (ankle), Andre Brown (concussion)

Vereen left the game at Baltimore in the first quarter, and hopefully he'll be OK for Week 17 against Buffalo. Prior to leaving, Vereen had two carries for 6 yards and one catch for 4 yards and a touchdown. He was potentially on his way to a big game.

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Romo finished the game against the Redskins and led the Cowboys to a game-winning touchdown to DeMarco Murray in the fourth quarter. He was 17 of 27 passing for 226 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. But he's scheduled for an MRI on Monday for his back, although it's not believed to be serious. He's expected to play in Week 17 against Philadelphia.

Sanders injured his knee at Green Bay, but first he caught two passes for 7 yards and a touchdown. If he's able to play in Week 17 against Cleveland then consider him a No. 3 Fantasy receiver at best.

Smith said he felt something pop in his knee after he left the game against New Orleans in the first half. He finished the game with one catch for 44 yards. If he's able to play in Week 17 against Atlanta he would be just a No. 3 Fantasy receiver.

We hope Lacy is OK for Week 17 against Chicago because that's a dream matchup against the Bears. Lacy did well against the Steelers in Week 16 before leaving with 15 carries for 84 yards and two touchdowns and two catches for 6 yards. If Lacy is out, James Starks should be added in all leagues against the Bears.

Brown suffered the concussion in overtime at Detroit, and you have to be concerned about his status for Week 17 in a meaningless game against the Redskins. We'll see what the Giants do at running back against Washington, but Michael Cox could be forced into a featured role. Brown struggled against the Lions as expected, finishing with 16 carries for 40 yards and two catches for 14 yards.

Fred Jackson good, C.J. Spiller just average: It's fitting that Jackson was the better running back for Fantasy owners in the championship week against Miami than Spiller, because it's been that way all season. Jackson was a great surprise this year, and Spiller was arguably the biggest bust.

Jackson finished with 19 carries for 111 yards and a touchdown and two catches for 7 yards against the Dolphins. Spiller, meanwhile, had 20 carries for 77 yards and three catches for 26 yards.

We'll see how each one does in Week 17 against the Patriots, but hopefully Jackson isn't with the Bills in 2014 when it comes to Spiller's Fantasy value. If Jackson is gone, Spiller has a chance to be special, but if Jackson is back then his upside will again be limited. Stay tuned this offseason.

Matthew Stafford, Calvin Johnson crush Fantasy dreams: Stafford and Johnson were terrible for the past three games, which ruined many Fantasy seasons. They were awful in Week 16 against the Giants.

Stafford was 25 of 42 passing for 222 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions, and Johnson had three catches for 43 yards on four targets. There was a report Sunday morning that Johnson could miss the game, but he played and was disappointing. Stafford now has 21 Fantasy points combined in his past three games against Philadelphia, Baltimore and the Giants. And Johnson had 18 Fantasy points in his past three.

Also leaving Fantasy owners in a lurch against the Giants was Reggie Bush, who was benched after he fumbled and finished with 12 carries for 34 yards and two catches for 10 yards. He was replaced by Joique Bell, who had 20 carries for 91 yards and a touchdown and 10 catches for 63 yards. If you play in Week 17, you should probably consider starting Bell over Bush at Minnesota.

Kirk Cousins helps Pierre Garcon shine: Garcon might have had big games the past two weeks against Atlanta and Dallas given the deficiencies of those two defenses, but he's dominated with Cousins under center. He had 11 catches for 144 yards and a touchdown Sunday against the Cowboys, one week after catching seven passes for 129 yards and a touchdown against the Falcons.

What changed for Garcon? Not much. The targets were up against Dallas with 18, which is a season high. But his 11 targets against Atlanta were on par with the rest of the season since he had 11 or more targets nine times in his first 13 games.

You can argue Cousins gave Garcon more chances to make plays down the field, which is fair, but I expect Garcon to be dominant next season as well when Robert Griffin III regains his starting job. I look at Garcon as a Top 15 Fantasy receiver with the chance to be a Top 10 option. He's that good, and we hope these past two games are proof of that.

Cordarrelle Patterson establishing himself: Patterson had another big game Sunday at Cincinnati and extended his scoring streak to four games in a row. He had three carries for 54 yards and a touchdown, three catches for 8 yards and four kickoff returns for 143 yards. We hope he can carry this momentum into 2014 when he could be a viable Fantasy option in all formats, especially if the Vikings upgrade at quarterback.

In the past four weeks, Patterson has two rushing touchdowns, two receiving touchdowns and continues to develop his skills. He's going to be a potential breakout candidate next season.

One downside for the Vikings as far as Fantasy owners are concerned was the play of Adrian Peterson. He returned after missing Week 15 with a foot injury and struggled with 11 carries for 45 yards and one catch for 2 yards. He has a tough matchup in Week 17 against the Lions, but we expect him to finish strong as long as he's healthy.

Andy Dalton heating up again: The Bengals dominated at home Sunday against the Vikings, and Dalton led the way. He was 27 of 38 passing for 366 yards and four touchdowns and one carry for 10 yards.

Dalton has been good at home of late with at least 36 Fantasy points against the Colts in Week 14 and now the Vikings. He also has at least 36 points in three of his past four home games.

We know when Dalton gets hot he can be among the best Fantasy quarterbacks, and with the way he's playing at home he should be started in Week 17 against the Ravens. He had 18 points at Baltimore in Week 10.

Fun with rookie running backs: There were three rookie running backs who might have been key contributors to Fantasy championships Sunday. Lacy and Le'Veon Bell were great head-to-head in Green Bay, and Zac Stacy was fantastic against the Buccaneers.

Lacy had 20 Fantasy points before getting hurt, and Bell wasn't far behind with 26 carries for 124 yards and a touchdown and one catch for 5 yards, which was 16 points. Stacy faced a tough matchup against Tampa Bay, but he still managed 33 carries for 104 yards and a touchdown and one catch for 5 yards, which is 14 Fantasy points.

It wasn't all great as the fourth member of this rookie group, Giovani Bernard, finished with just 13 carries for 20 yards and two catches for 47 yards against Minnesota. But all four of these running backs have established themselves as elite Fantasy options heading into 2014, especially if the Bengals part ways with BenJarvus Green-Ellis to help Bernard.

Also, Andre Ellington only had six Fantasy points at Seattle with 15 carries for 64 yards and two catches for 8 yards. He has played well at times this season, but Rashard Mendenhall has limited his upside. If Mendenhall is gone next season, Ellington could be a star and is one of my breakout candidates heading into 2014.

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

Quarterback: Kirk Cousins, Redskins (42 percent)

Running backs: James Starks, Packers (48 percent), Dennis Johnson, Texans (37 percent), LeGarrette Blount, Patriots (32 percent), Shonn Greene, Titans (21 percent), Knile Davis, Chiefs (18 percent), Edwin Baker, Browns (3 percent), Michael Cox, Giants (1 percent), Deji Karim, Texans (0 percent)

Wide receivers: Jarrett Boykin, Packers (82 percent), Terrance Williams, Cowboys (68 percent), Marvin Jones, Bengals (67 percent), Cordarrelle Patterson, Vikings (43 percent), Nate Washington, Titans (39 percent), Mike Brown, Jaguars (9 percent), Mohamed Sanu, Bengals (8 percent), David Nelson, Jets (1 percent), Jerrel Jernigan, Giants (0 percent), Stedman Bailey, Rams (0 percent)

Tight ends: Zach Miller, Seahawks (25 percent), Brent Celek, Eagles (22 percent), Jermaine Gresham, Bengals (18 percent), Joseph Fauria, Lions (14 percent), Marcedes Lewis, Jaguars (9 percent), Ryan Griffin, Texans (3 percent)

Start 'Em/Sit 'Em star: Ryan Mathews was spotted in a walking boot after Sunday's game against Oakland because of an injured ankle, but he's expected to play in Week 17 against Kansas City. Mathews was great as our Start of the Week with 25 carries for 99 yards and a touchdown and three catches for 20 yards. As long as he's healthy, start him in all leagues against the Chiefs.

Start 'Em/Sit 'Em flop: Arguably the biggest win in Week 16 belongs to the Cardinals for going into Seattle and beating the Seahawks to keep their playoff hopes alive. Part of the reason for their success was containing Russell Wilson, who was 11 of 27 passing for 108 yards, one touchdown and one interception and just two carries for 32 yards. Wilson now has three games in a row of 17 Fantasy points or less, which hurt a lot of Fantasy owners down the stretch.

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
Patriots running back Stevan Ridley: 'I have something to prove'
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(8:31 pm ET) Patriots running back Stevan Ridley is expected to become a free agent in the coming weeks and he is ready for the experience.

"I'm excited about it," Ridley told Sirius XM Radio Friday. "As a player coming into the league, you get there and your first contract you kind of have to establish yourself and see what you can do. Everybody is a good player if you get to make it to the NFL, but there is something to be said if you get to that second contract."

Ridley has rushed for 2,817 yards and 22 touchdowns in his first four seasons in the league with the Patriots.

"Where I'll be playing, and who I'll be playing for, is still unknown, but I know I've come in and done my job up to this point and now I have to put it in my agent's hands to get me on another team, or stay where I'm at, and make sure I’m in pads playing ball somewhere next year. I know if you think about it too much it will worry you sick."

Ridley has played in 20 of a possible 32 games the last two seasons, starting in just 11 of them.

"I take it personal to any team or anybody that says I can't be a very productive player on whatever team I land on," he said. "I've been playing ball my whole life, I'm going to come in and be a leader, and I'm going to be a guy that comes in and busts his butt in the weight room and busts his butt on the field. I'm a good teammate, I have fun with my guys, but when the lights come on Sundays, it's all business and I plan on going out there and making plays."


Patriots' Aaron Dobson doing well in rehab of hamstring injury
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(8:17 pm ET) Patriots wide receiver Aaron Dobson is still recovering from a hamstring injury that ended his season in 2014. Trainer Brett Fischer said Friday he thinks Dobson is going to turn heads when he heads back to Foxboro for training camp, according to the Boston Herald.

"He was talking about, 'When I go up there (to Foxboro) and they see me again, I want to make sure they know I'm in the best shape of my life.' He is really determined," Fischer said. "That is the underlying theme every day: 'Hey, I've got to be ready when April comes, be ready as far as the best shape of my life.' It's frustrating with two years of freaky-type stuff."

Dobson finished a disappointing 2014 season with three catches for 38 yards.

"He is doing great," Fischer said. "I'm really excited for him. He has put the time and effort into it, comes in early, gets all his work in and he is hungry. There are a few specific things we found, minor little things we're working on, that make his program a little bit unique to everybody else's. Nothing major."


Report: Should be a 'very active market' for Broncos' Julius Thomas
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(8:13 pm ET) Broncos tight end Julius Thomas turned down a five-year, $40 million contract for a reason. That's because it's believed he will have a "very active market" when the new league year begins on March 10, according to NFL.com's Ian Rapoport. 

Two teams that are expected to target Thomas in free agency are the Raiders and Jaguars, both of which need to upgrade considerably at their skill positions to help out their young quarterbacks. The expectation is for Broncos general manager John Elway to let Thomas test the waters in free agency to see what he's offered. 

The Falcons have also reportedly been interested, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's D. Orlando Ledbetter. 

Injuries slowed what was an otherwise fast start to his 2014 season. Thomas' season ended with 489 yards and 12 touchdowns. 


Report: Browns QB Brian Hoyer could be on the way out of Cleveland
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(6:44 pm ET) With the signing of Josh McCown Friday, Browns quarterback Brian Hoyer could be looking elsewhere for employment. Coach Mike Pettine called Hoyer to inform him the team was signing McCown and Hoyer appears ready to move on, according to Albert Breer of the NFL Network.

Hoyer played in 14 games for the Browns in 2014, throwing for 3,326 yards with 12 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. He lost his starting position to Johnny Manziel in Week 15, but was forced back into action after Manziel suffered a season-ending injury.


Quarterback Josh McCown agrees to terms with Browns
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(6:29 pm ET) Free agent quarterback Josh McCown has agreed to terms with the Browns on a contract, according to his agent Mike McCartney. The team later confirmed the report. The deal is reportedly set to have McCown on the Browns for three seasons, according to ESPN.

McCown, who will turn 36 before the season begins, previously visited with the Bills before signing with the Browns. McCown threw for 2,206 yards with 11 touchdowns and 14 interceptions in 2014 with the Buccaneers.


Jets WR Percy Harvin will not accept pay cut
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(6:26 pm ET) Jets receiver Percy Harvin will not agree to a reduction in his 2015 salary, reports CBSSports.com NFL Insider Jason La Canfora. 

Harvin is slated to earn $10.5 million this season, something the Jets cannot afford. Teams around the league are interested signing Harvin to a short-term deal. With his expensive contract, though, the Jets will be hard-pressed to find a suitor interested in trading Harvin. 

The Seahawks traded Harvin to the Jets for a conditional pick during the 2014 season. 


Report: Colts' Wayne undergoes triceps surgery, mulling retirement
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(6:19 pm ET) Colts wide receiver Reggie Wayne underwent surgery Friday to repair his injured triceps, according to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network. Wayne, 36, is beginning rehab for the injury and is reportedly considering retirement, according to Rapoport.

Wayne played in 15 regular season games for the Colts in 2014, totaling 779 yards on 64 catches with two touchdowns.


Dolphins WR Mike Wallace interested in return to Steelers
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(6:13 pm ET) Though the Dolphins are shopping Mike Wallace to prospective suitors, there is one team that is of interest to the speedy receiver. 

According to CBSSports.com NFL Insider Jason La Canfora, Wallace has interest in potentially returning to the Steelers. Of course, the Steelers would have to decide if they'd be willing to take on a contract that's going to have a $12.1 million cap figure for 2015. 

Wallace has underperformed in relation to the five-year, $60 million contract he signed before the 2013 season. He's failed to reach 1,000 yards with the Dolphins in either season after recording that mark twice with the Steelers in his first four NFL seasons. 


Buccaneers' Vincent Jackson not accepting pay cut for 2015
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(6:05 pm ET) Buccaneers wide receiver Vincent Jackson is likely to remain with Tampa Bay this offseason, but he is not willing to accept a pay cut, according to CBSSports.com NFL Insider Jason La Canfora.

Jackson, who was shopped by the team before the trade deadline, is set to make $10 million in base salary and has a $12.2 million cap hit. He totaled 70 catches for 1,002 yards and two touchdowns in 2014.


Falcons' Dan Quinn wants to re-sign Sean Weatherspoon
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(5:40 pm ET) Though Sean Weatherspoon missed most of the past two seasons due to injuries, Falcons coach Dan Quinn is hopeful the franchise can re-sign the standout inside linebacker to a new contract before he hits the free agent market on March 10. 

"With him, it's that toughness and the speed that he can play with so, yes, definitely someone that we're talking to," Quinn said via ESPN.com. "I know he's got that kind of attitude. And you know me, just from watching our style of defense, it's fast and physical. And that's what Sean is. So, we're certainly hoping that he can be a big part of it moving forward."

Weatherspoon played in only seven games during the 2013 season due to a Lisfranc sprain in his foot. He missed all of 2014 due to an Achilles tear. 

Weatherspoon was the Falcons' first-round pick in the 2010 draft. He's totaled 290 tackles, eight sacks and two interceptions during his career. 


 
 
 
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