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Instant reactions from Week 17

Senior Fantasy Writer
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The regular season ended Sunday, and the final week was a continuation of many of the same themes from throughout the year. Peyton Manning was awesome, Trent Richardson was mediocre and we wish injuries didn't ruin Aaron Rodgers, Shane Vereen and Randall Cobb for most of the year.

We also said goodbye to a legend in Tony Gonzalez, who played his final NFL game as he heads into retirement.

The game of the day was Green Bay at Chicago, and the Packers won the NFC North title 33-28 thanks to a late touchdown from Rodgers to Cobb. Rodgers, who came back after a seven-game absence with a broken left collarbone, was 25 of 39 passing for 318 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. He looked a little rusty, but he was still the Fantasy star we missed during the meat of the season.

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Jordy Nelson looked like a No. 1 receiver again with 10 catches for 161 yards on 16 targets. And Cobb came back after being out 10 weeks from a knee injury, and he had two catches for 55 yards and two touchdowns.

It was fun to see the Packers at full strength with their passing game, and Eddie Lacy was still a factor with 21 carries for 66 yards and a touchdown. The Packers now face the 49ers in the Wild Card round, and if you think they'll advance then consider several of their players for the CBSSports.com Playoff Challenge.

As for the Bears, their season ends in disappointing fashion, but they finished with some quality Fantasy performances in Week 17. Jay Cutler, our Start of the Week, was 15 of 24 passing for 226 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.

Matt Forte had 22 carries for 110 yards and two touchdowns and four catches for 47 yards and a touchdown. Brandon Marshall had six catches for 74 yards and a touchdown, and Alshon Jeffery had three catches for 80 yards with a lost fumble.

Chicago should have a great offense again in 2014, but the key is bringing back Cutler, who is a free agent. If he's back as expected then consider him a Top 10 Fantasy quarterback, Forte a Top 5 running back and Marshall and Jeffery as Top 10 receivers.

Matt Ryan and Roddy White end season strong: Ryan's season fell apart when Julio Jones (foot) went down in Week 5. White's season never really got started because of an ankle injury in the preseason. That didn't matter in Week 17 against Carolina.

The two finished strong in the final two weeks of the year, giving Fantasy owners hope for 2014. Ryan had back-to-back games with 20-plus Fantasy points for the first time since Week 7. And White had consecutive games with double digits in Fantasy points for the first time all year.

Even though Gonzalez plans to retire, Ryan will get Jones back, White healthy and Harry Douglas has developed into a quality No. 3 receiver. Ryan has the chance to rebound as a Top 5 Fantasy quarterback, and he should be tremendous value on Draft Day.

White also will be overlooked in the draft, but he could easily rebound as a Top 15 Fantasy receiver. Jones will come back as a Top 5 Fantasy receiver, and the Falcons offense should be awesome.

Chris Johnson done in Tennessee? Johnson might have played his last game for the Titans in Week 17 against Houston. If so, he went out on a high note with 27 carries for 127 yards and a touchdown and three catches for 14 yards.

There's a report the Titans will release Johnson this offseason as a salary dump. Johnson finished the season with 279 carries for 1,077 yards and six touchdowns and 42 catches for 345 yards and four touchdowns.

If he comes back to Tennessee, he'll remain a high-end No. 2 running back worth drafting in Round 2 or 3. If he's cut, where he ends up will determine his value, but he'll still be a starting Fantasy running back coming into the season.

Cordarelle Patterson's star on the rise: Patterson put on a show Sunday against Detroit. He had two carries for 54 yards and a touchdown and two catches for 31 yards and a score.

Patterson has now scored in five games in a row, and he has the chance to be a breakout star in 2014. We'll see who the Vikings have as their starting quarterback, but he will be a potential Top 24 Fantasy receiver coming into the year.

• Backup running backs shine: Three of the best running back performances Sunday came from backups with Knile Davis, Jonathan Grimes and Matt Asiata.

Davis started for the Chiefs with Jamaal Charles resting for the playoffs at San Diego. He had 27 carries for 81 yards and two touchdowns and two catches for 5 yards.

Grimes started for the Texans with everyone else injured at Tennessee. He had 16 carries for 50 yards and a touchdown and six catches for 76 yards.

And Asiata started for the Vikings with Adrian Peterson (foot) and Toby Gerhart (hamstring) out against Detroit. He had 14 carries for 115 yards with a lost fumble.

This is why playing into Week 17 is frustrating when you don't have stars like Charles and Peterson, but it's also fun when you use these backups and they come through.

LeGarrette Blount dominates Bills: The Patriots unleashed Blount against Buffalo in the rain, and he was awesome. He had 24 carries for 189 yards and two touchdowns, and he closes the season with 265 rushing yards and four touchdowns in his final two games.

Stevan Ridley also ran well against Buffalo with 12 carries for 74 yards, and Shane Vereen had three catches for 42 yards and a touchdown. The Patriots are off until the Divisional Round of the playoffs after locking up the No. 2 seed in the AFC, but look at Blount as a solid option in the playoff challenge.

Andy Dalton keeps rolling: It wasn't pretty, but Dalton had his fourth game in a row with 20-plus Fantasy points with his performance against Baltimore. Dalton was 21 of 36 passing for 281 yards, two touchdowns and four interceptions, and he added six carries for 23 yards and a score.

Manning and Drew Brees finished the regular season as the top two Fantasy quarterbacks. No. 3? It was Dalton.

The Bengals play the Chargers in the Wild Card round, and we hope Dalton has another solid game. He will enter next season as a Top 12 Fantasy quarterback if he has a strong postseason after the way he played during the year.

T.Y. Hilton has strong finale: The Colts will play host to the Chiefs in the Wild Card round, and we hope the Hilton we saw in Week 17 shows up in the playoffs. He was great against Jacksonville with 11 catches for 155 yards on 15 targets.

This was Hilton's first game with double digits in Fantasy points since Week 10, but he's capable of being a big-play threat. He's a good option in the playoff challenge since he has 34 targets in the past three games.

• Of course C.J. Spiller ends strong: Spiller and Richardson are the two biggest busts of 2013. Richardson scored a touchdown Sunday against the Jaguars but still finished with only nine Fantasy points on eight carries for 25 yards and two catches for 17 yards.

But Spiller went out on a high note at New England. He had 19 carries for 105 yards and five catches for 28 yards. It was his first game with double digits in Fantasy points since Week 13 and only the fifth time he's scored in double digits this season.

Fred Jackson was great also against the Patriots with 14 carries for 60 yards and a touchdown and three catches for 53 yards, and he clearly outplayed Spiller all season. He had 10 games with double digits in Fantasy points this year.

We'll find out if Jackson, who will be 33 next year, is back in Buffalo in 2014. If he's gone, then Spiller could be a second-round pick in the majority of leagues. But if Jackson is back then Spiller's upside will again be capped, and we wouldn't draft Spiller until Round 4 at the earliest, with Jackson coming off the board around the same time.

• Start 'Em/Sit 'Em star: Our sleepers came through in a big way in Week 17 as we had one Top 10 quarterback (Terrelle Pryor), three Top 6 running backs (Blount, Davis and Grimes) and two Top 8 receivers (Jerrel Jernigan and Hilton). Jernigan was the No. 1 Fantasy receiver with six catches for 90 yards and a touchdown and two carries for 57 yards and a touchdown against Washington.

• Start 'Em/Sit 'Em flop: I got Michael Crabtree right as a sit since he had just three catches for 29 yards at Arizona, but Colin Kaepernick proved me wrong as our bust alert. He was 21 of 34 passing for 310 yards and two touchdowns and four carries for 24 yards. I like Kaepernick a lot as my quarterback in the playoff challenge.

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Player News
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. 


Falcons waive defensive end Jonathan Massaquoi
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(5:24 pm ET) Jonathan Massaquoi is the latest to feel the change in direction of the Falcons' new coaching staff. 

On Friday, the Falcons announced that the defensive end has been waived. Under previous coach Mike Smith, Massaquoi was a fifth-round selection out of Troy in the 2012 NFL draft. Smith was fired this offseason with former Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn hired as his replacement. 

Massaquoi totaled 22 tackles and two sacks this past season. This announcement follows the Falcons cutting running back Steven Jackson and receiver Harry Douglas. 


Vikings RB Adrian Peterson releases statement on court decision
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(5:21 pm ET) Vikings running back Adrian Peterson released a statement Friday regarding Judge David Doty's decision to overturn arbitration decision to uphold his suspension, according to ProFootballTalk.com.

"I was pleased to learn about Judge Doty's decision.  It is a positive step in protecting players' rights and preserving due process for all players.  It also brings me one step closer to getting back on the football field and playing the sport I love.  As I prepare for my return to football, I am still focused on my family and continue to work to become a better father every day.  I want to express my gratitude for all of the support I have received from the fans, NFLPA, Jeffrey Kessler, and my agents Ben Dogra, Tracy Lartigue, and Mark Heligman from Relativity Sports."


 
 
 
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