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Playoff Extra: Super Bowl starts and sits

Senior Fantasy Writer
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We're down to the final game of the season and it's the matchup many anticipated, with the top two seeds in Denver and Seattle advancing to Super Bowl XLVIII.

Between now and kickoff we're sure to hear plenty about Peyton Manning and his legacy, Richard Sherman and his mouth and how the weather will impact the game, since it's being played outdoors at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. As of Tuesday, Jan. 21, the weather there was as low as 11 degrees with 13 inches of snow and winds at 24 miles per hour.

That sounds like fun.

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The worse the weather is, the more that should favor the Seahawks, who come into this game with the NFL's top-ranked defense and No. 1 pass defense. The Broncos have the No. 1 offense and passing attack, so bad elements will only hinder their aerial attack. Of course, it could be a beautiful day Feb. 2 at kickoff, so let's wait and see what develops.

What we do know is it should be exciting to see Manning and Co. try to dissect the Seahawks defense with their "Legion of Boom" secondary and if he'll take shots at Sherman. Most likely, Manning will find the mismatches in Seattle's secondary -- away from guys like Sherman, Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor -- so don't be surprised if someone like Jacob Tamme sees more targets than usual in a mismatch.

Also, Marshawn Lynch -- the leader of Seattle's offense -- will have to deal with a Denver run defense that hasn't allowed a touchdown in four consecutive games, and Ryan Mathews in Week 15 is the lone running back to rush for 100 yards against the Broncos this season. While Sherman is the defensive star garnering most of the attention for Seattle, don't overlook the impact Terrance "Pot Roast" Knighton is making for Denver's defense.

It's going to be a great Super Bowl, and I predict the Broncos will win, 27-24. The weather could slow down the Broncos, but I still expect Manning to get his second Super Bowl ring. As usual, here are some Start ‘Em and Sit ‘Em suggestions for the big game for those of you planning for somwething on Super Sunday.

Start 'Em

Russell Wilson (at DEN): Wilson has been a horrible Fantasy quarterback to close the season. He hasn't been over 17 Fantasy points since Week 14, and in two playoff games against New Orleans and San Francisco he has combined for just 318 passing yards and one touchdown and eight carries for 16 yards and a fumble. But the Broncos have given up production to quarterbacks of late with Terrelle Pryor, Philip Rivers and Tom Brady all scoring at least 21 Fantasy points in the past three games. And if the Broncos go ahead in this game and Seattle is chasing points, then Wilson will have to make plays to keep the Seahawks alive. That was the case in the NFC Championship Game against the 49ers, when he had 103 passing yards and a touchdown in the second half for 10 Fantasy points, which is the most production he's had in the postseason thus far through two games. Manning is obviously the best quarterback in this game, but depending on your Playoff Challenge roster, don't be afraid of Wilson.

Knowshon Moreno (vs. SEA): Moreno is dealing with bruised ribs, but he's excepted to play in the Super Bowl barring a setback. While the matchup appears tough, Moreno should have the chance to score at least seven Fantasy points based on his production this season. He had at least seven points in 14 of his past 15 games overall, including both playoff matchups. He will definitely get the ball as a receiver with five or more catches in three of his past six games. And the Seahawks have given up production to running backs of late with Khiry Robinson and Anthony Dixon scoring touchdowns in each of the two playoff games the past two weeks. Since Week 14, Seattle has allowed three running backs -- Frank Gore, Rashard Mendenhall and Robinson -- to score at least eight Fantasy points. Look for Denver to spread out Seattle's defense and give Moreno some potential running room. We wouldn't shy away from him in the Playoff Challenge just because of Seattle's elite defense.

Wes Welker (vs. SEA): We'll find out if Manning is willing to challenge Sherman or Byron Maxwell, who have been the best cover corners for the Seahawks down the stretch. They line up on the outside and will likely match up with Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker. Manning likely will look toward Welker against slot corner Walter Thurmond, who isn't an easy target, but the Broncos might have more success with Welker than anyone else. Last year with the Patriots, Welker went into Seattle and had 10 catches for 138 yards and a touchdown. He struggled against the Patriots in the AFC Championship Game -- unless you consider taking out Aqib Talib (knee) a success -- with just four catches for 38 yards on five targets, but he did score in the previous playoff game against the Chargers with six catches for 38 yards. The Seahawks have allowed a receiver to score in consecutive games with Marques Colston and Anquan Boldin, and I like Welker the best of Denver's receivers in the Super Bowl in terms of potential success.

Sit 'Em

Eric Decker (vs. SEA): Decker and Thomas have the chance to see the most attention from Seattle's best corners in Sherman and Maxwell, and that should be a tough matchup for both. Thomas is too good to consider benching no matter the opponent, but Decker has struggled enough of late to show us he might have another bad game. In two playoff games thus far, he's combined for seven catches for 105 yards, and he had a ball bounce off his chest in the end zone in the Divisional round against San Diego that led to an interception. If the Broncos keep Thomas on the right side then he'll likely see a lot of Sherman, meaning Decker will get Maxwell. That's no easy task, as Maxwell was targeted four times in the NFC Championship Game in coverage against Michael Crabtree and Boldin, and he held them to one catch for 22 yards. And if the Broncos move Decker to the right side, well then Sherman should have a significant edge. We'll see how the Broncos get creative with their passing attack, but Decker is prone to these disappearing acts since he went four games in the regular season without a touchdown. In ranking Denver's receivers this week, he's third behind Welker and Thomas, and I have no problem sitting him in any Playoff Challenge.

Doug Baldwin (at DEN): Baldwin was a hero for the Seahawks in the NFC Championship Game with six catches for a season-high 106 yards, and he also added a 69-yard kickoff return. He did that despite playing through a significant hip injury suffered in the second quarter. The injury could come at the right time for Seattle with Percy Harvin (concussion) expected to return for the Super Bowl, and Harvin could slide into Baldwin's role should he be out. But even if Baldwin plays, his role will be reduced if Harvin is able to suit up as expected, so use caution when setting your lineup in any Playoff Challenge leagues. It was great to see Baldwin shine like he did against the 49ers, but Harvin's presence should douse any potential momentum. Besides, Baldwin has struggled on the road this season with only one game with double digits in Fantasy points. The good news was it came at the Giants in MetLife Stadium in Week 15 when he had six catches for 71 yards and a touchdown, but it was a game where Harvin didn't play.

Julius Thomas (vs. SEA): Thomas is among the best Fantasy tight ends -- he's No. 2 on my draft list for 2014 -- but that hasn't mattered to the Seahawks in the postseason. So far they have faced Jimmy Graham and Vernon Davis in consecutive games and held them to a combined three catches for 24 yards, which is incredible. Now, Seattle has allowed six touchdowns to tight ends this season with three reaching double digits in Fantasy points. And the Broncos are going to spread out this Seattle defense to allow Thomas plenty of room to operate in single coverage. He also will likely get close to the nine targets by himself that Graham (six) and Davis (three) combined for against Seattle, since he has 18 targets in the two playoff games and hasn't had fewer than five targets in eight consecutive games. But this Seattle defense will make it tough on Thomas, who has gone three games in a row without a touchdown. He's easily the best tight end left for any Playoff Challenge leagues, but don't be surprised if he's held to single digits in Fantasy points for the sixth time in his past seven games based on the matchup.

My Playoff Challenge Team

Here's the progression of my Playoff Challenge teams starting with the Wild Card round:

QB: Andy Dalton, Bengals (49 units) 15 points
RB: Donald Brown, Colts (48 units) 21 points
RB: LeSean McCoy, Eagles (64 units) 14 points
WR: Anquan Boldin, 49ers (36 units) 3 points
WR: T.Y. Hilton, Colts (30 units) 34 points
TE: Vernon Davis, 49ers (38 units) 9 points
K: Alex Henery, Eagles (15 units) 6 points
DST: Eagles (20 units) 8 points

Then the Divisional round:

QB: Peyton Manning, Broncos (76 units) 19 points
RB: Donald Brown, Colts (48 units) 6 points
RB: Montee Ball, Broncos (21 units) 5 points
WR: Anquan Boldin, 49ers (36 units) 13 points
WR: T.Y. Hilton, Colts (30 units) 10 points
TE: Vernon Davis, 49ers (38 units) 6 points
K: Phil Dawson, 49ers (24 units) 11 points
DST: Broncos (27 units) 10 points

Then the Championship round:

QB: Peyton Manning, Broncos (76 units) 28 points
RB: Stevan Ridley, Patriots (33 units) 1 point
RB: Montee Ball, Broncos (21 units) 5 points
WR: Anquan Boldin, 49ers (36 units) 11 points
WR: Wes Welker, Broncos (41 units) 3 points
TE: Vernon Davis, 49ers (38 units) 1 point
K: Phil Dawson, 49ers (24 units) 5 points
DST: Broncos (27 units) 6 points

And now the Super Bowl:

QB: Peyton Manning, Broncos 76 units
RB: Marshawn Lynch, Seahawks 65 units
RB: Montee Ball, Broncos 21 units
WR: Empty (Player was eliminated)
WR: Wes Welker, Broncos 41 units
TE: Jacob Tamme, Broncos 6 units
K: Empty Player was eliminated
DST: Broncos 27 units

I only had two transactions remaining for the Super Bowl after losing Ridley, Boldin, Davis and Dawson. So it came down to finding the two players who made the most sense for the Super Bowl while leaving two empty spots. One was easy because of the kicker, which could come back to haunt me, but I'll take my chances with an empty spot there. The other decision was leaving the receiver or tight end open, and the units made the choice for me.

Since I went with Ball for the past two games I decided to add either Lynch or Moreno to get a stud running back, and I went with Lynch based on his incredible performance during the playoffs thus far. Through two games against New Orleans and San Francisco he has 50 carries for 249 yards and three touchdowns, and even the tough Broncos defense shouldn't slow him down too much. Since I already had Welker, I felt OK with my receiving corps since I'm concerned about Demaryius Thomas and Decker and don't have much faith in Seattle's receiving corps.

Using Lynch left me low on units, so I sacrificed at tight end and went with Tamme. As I stated above, don't be surprised if he makes a crucial play or two, and he had two catches for 24 yards and a touchdown against the Patriots last week. I'll need a lot to happen to catch up in the CBSSports.com Fantasy Staff buddy group since I'm currently at No. 117 out of the 1,293 entries. I have 250 points, and I'm 83 points behind the leader. At this point, I'm playing for pride, but good luck to everyone else in different leagues who still have the chance to win.

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
Texans waive DT Brandon Ivory
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(7:13 pm ET) The Texans waived rookie defensive tackle Brandon Ivory on Thursday, according to ESPN.com

Ivory was arrested on first degree burglary charges in Tuscaloosa, Ala. just one day ago. Ivory's agent Jeff Guerriero said Ivory is not guilty of the charge. 

"I spoke to Brandon he is not guilty and his name will be cleared of all charges," Guerriero said. 


Chargers TE Antonio Gates suspended 4 games for PED use
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(4:09 pm ET) Chargers tight end Antonio Gates has been suspended four games for violating the NFL's performance-enhancing drugs policy, the team announced. 

It's unknown at this time what drug Gates tested positive for. Gates, in a statement, said he was unaware that he took a banned substance

"In my 12 years in the NFL, I have taken tremendous pride in upholding the integrity of the NFL shield and all that it entails," Gates said. "I have taken extreme care of my body with a holistic approach and I have never knowingly ingested a substance that was banned by the NFL. In an effort to recover from this past season, I used supplements and holistic medicines, and unfortunately, I have now learned that those substances always present a risk because they may contain banned substances even if the ingredient list doesn’t reflect them.

"As an NFL veteran and team leader, I should have done my due diligence to ensure that what I was taking for recovery was within the NFL guidelines. I understand that I am responsible for what is in my body and I have always believed that ignorance is no excuse when it comes to these issues. I take full responsibility for my actions. I’d like to express my sincere apologies to the Chargers, my teammates, coaches, fans and the league who have always supported me and expected and gotten nothing but the highest level of integrity from me."

With Gates out for four games, the Chargers will turn to Ladarius Green as the team's top tight end, though it was expected for Green to continue getting more looks in the passing game. Green is entering the final season of his rookie contract. 

The Chargers expressed disappointment in Gates for his suspension but plans to stick with the longtime veteran through the suspension. 

"We are tremendously disappointed for our team and our fans as well as Antonio, but no more disappointed than Antonio is with himself," the Chargers stated. "Antonio is a member of the Chargers' family and we will continue to support him 100-percent. We have the utmost confidence he will stay in excellent shape for the season and be ready to go when he returns in Week 5. While it's unfortunate to not have him to start the season, we have complete confidence our tight end group will continue to play at a high level."  


Packers' Datone Jones out 1 game for substance-abuse violation
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(4:01 pm ET) Packers defensive lineman Datone Jones will be suspended for one game for violating the NFL's substance-abuse policy, according to NFL.com. 

Jones will miss Green Bay's season-opener against the Bears. In 2014, Jones totaled 22 tackles and 1 1/2 sacks in 13 games played. 


Cowboys LB Rolando McClain suspended four games for 2015
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(2:56 pm ET) The Cowboys announced that linebacker Rolando McClain has been suspended for the first four games of the 2015 season due to violating the NFL's substance-abuse policy. 

McClain hasn't been able to participate much in offseason workouts due to going under offseason knee surgery. McClain will be eligible to practice in training camp and is expected to be healthy by then. 

"I apologize to my family, the Cowboys organization, my teammates and Cowboys fans for my mistake. I will not break the rules of my profession in the future, and I regret my error," McClain said in a statement, via CSN Bay Area. "I look forward to returning to the field on week 5, when I hope to help my team beat the Patriots.

In 2014, McClain, who had previously retired twice before being traded from the Ravens to the Cowboys, totaled 81 tackles and a sack in 13 games played.


Jets DL Sheldon Richardson suspended four games
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(2:22 pm ET) Jets defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson was suspended four games for violating the league's substance-abuse policy, the NFL announced Thursday.

“I apologize for letting down my family, teammates, this organization and the fans," Richardson said in a statement via the Jets, per Fox Sports. "However, words aren't enough. This is something that can only be addressed by how I handle myself from this point on. I don't want this to take away from what the team is trying to accomplish. While I won't be there at the start of the regular season, I will do whatever I can to support my teammates until I'm able to return to the field.”

Richardson, who was a 2013 first-round pick, is entering his third season in the NFL. He was the AP Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2013 and was named to the Pro Bowl in 2014.

He has totaled 84 tackles and 11 1/2 sacks in 32 career games. He also has one safety.


Texans DT Brandon Ivory arrested on burglary charge
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(7/1/2015) Texans defensive tackle Brandon Ivory was arrested Wednesday morning in Alabama and charged with first-degree burglary, according to a Tuscaloosa Police Department report obtained by SportingNews.com.

Ivory and another man were allegedly involved in a home burglary when the two entered the residence by kicking open the back door and then demanding money from the residents. The two stole money and two Ipads from the residence. Ivory and the other suspect were arrested at their apartment shortly after the incident with the stolen money and property.


Embattled Brandon Spikes pleads guilty to leaving scene of crash
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(7/1/2015) Former Patriots and Bills linebacker Brandon Spikes has pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of a recent car crash and has received a fine and year of probation, per WBZ, which is further reporting that he has lost his license and will be forced to attend a driver's safety class.

Spikes has lost far more than his license. He has lost his livelihood, having been cut by New England for hitting another car and abandoning his vehicle on the highway. He later told the police that he had hit a deer.

No other teams have been rumored to be targeting Spikes for the coming season.


Terrelle Pryor ready to embrace new role with Browns
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(6/30/2015) Terrelle Pryor once declared that he could not play football if he could not play quarterback.

Reality has since set in.

Pryor has been cut twice and is now playing on a Cleveland Browns team desperate for a quarterback, but apparently not desperate enough to give him a shot. He is instead embracing what he is calling a "slash-player" role.

"I'm going to give (it) a chance," he told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. "I just want to play football. I'm a playmaker, and I believe if I can touch the ball, I can go to the house, especially if I have space. This should definitely open up some opportunities."

Pryor has already taken the first step by contacting Steelers receiving stud Antonio Brown and making plans to work out with him and Randy Moss so they can teach him the nuances of the position.

He also figures there's another reason he's ahead of the game.

"The thing that helps me is that I played quarterback, and I know what the quarterback wants," Pryor said.


Lions new DT Haloti Ngata too busy to think about new contract
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(6/30/2015) Defensive tackle Haloti Ngata had his contract in mind in his last days with the Ravens, but he's too busy to think about it now that he's been traded to the Lions.

Ngata admitted that he suspected a deal could take place.

"The closer we got to free agency, I thought it could be a possibility," he told Monday Morning Quarterback. "It didn't surprise me ... since we weren't getting closer to any kind of contract stuff, I just figured there were a lot of things that could happen. I definitely started to have a trade in my mind as a possibility."

Ngata added that he's not thinking about a contract extension with Detroit.

"I'm just trying to get to know my teammates, get my playbook down, and my technique and terminology," he said.


Vikings RB Jerick McKinnon claims he'd pick himself in Fantasy
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(6/30/2015) Vikings running back Jerick McKinnon doesn't have a Fantasy football team, but if he did...

"If ... I could take myself, I would," he told the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

Never mind that Adrian Peterson has returned to the backfield. Never mind that Peterson has traditionally not yielded many carries to teammates. In 2012, for instance, he totaled 348 of his team's 401 rushing attempts.

The Vikings, however, are expected to use a more balanced approach in 2015. And McKinnon, who flashed as a starter with Peterson sidelined last season, is feeling dandy after undergoing lower back surgery in December.

"Two hundred percent," he declared in regard to his health. "If there is a 300, I feel 300. It's all good."

McKinnon averaged 4.8 yards per carry a year ago, which buoyed his confidence.


 
 
 
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