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2014 Draft Prep: Pitta will be a Top 5 tight end

Senior Fantasy Writer
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Are you looking for a tight end with "breakout potential" written all over him? You need to target Dennis Pitta.

The Ravens tight end is 100 percent healthy after last season's hip injury and he's ready for a career year. There's a lot going in his favor and the prediction is he will be a top-five tight end across the board.

Pitta was headed for greatness last season after his performance in 2012 when he established himself as a reliable option for Joe Flacco. He had 61 catches for 669 yards and seven touchdowns and he was No. 7 in Fantasy points in standard leagues.

But he injured his hip in training camp in 2013 and we never got to see his career year unfold. That changes now.

New Ravens offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak relies on tight ends more than anyone else. His former team, the Texans, targeted tight ends more than any other team since 2008. That system is now in Baltimore -- and don't be afraid of veteran tight end Owen Daniels, who was with Kubiak in Houston. Daniels will work in certain packages, but he's a distant second on the depth chart.

Flacco relies on Pitta, who was second in targets for the Ravens in 2012 behind Torrey Smith (110 to 94), but his red-zone work and third-down productivity is vital. According to ESPN, the Ravens ranked 31st in red-zone scoring percentage and 20th on third-down conversion percentage with Pitta out most of last year.

But go back to 2011 and 2012 when Pitta scored a combined 10 touchdowns in the red zone. No other Baltimore player had more than seven during that span. And, in those same two seasons, Pitta had 36 third-down receptions, which tied Ray Rice for the team lead. Only three tight ends (Jimmy Graham, Jason Witten and Tony Gonzalez) had more third-down receptions than Pitta over that span.

Another factor to consider is the Ravens might have to throw more with Rice suspended for the first two games. Bernard Pierce could be great filling in for Rice, but keep in mind Baltimore struggled to run as a team last season. More passing would mean more production for Pitta.

We understand it's risky to consider Pitta as a top-five tight end. He's clearly behind Graham, Rob Gronkowski and Julius Thomas coming into the season. And Fantasy owners trust Vernon Davis, Jason Witten and Jordan Cameron ahead of him based on Average Draft Position in August.

But if you believe in Pitta then this only helps your cause. You can draft him later -- his ADP is No. 75 overall -- and get better results. I have him ranked ahead of Davis, Witten and Cameron at No. 4, and I plan to target Pitta in all leagues.

We'll find out if he can live up to the hype, but I'm willing to gamble on him in Round 7 in a 12-team league. I'm expecting a great season and I like him as a top-five tight end this year.

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Player News
Cardinals kicker Chandler Catanzaro hits two field goals
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(12:28 am ET) Cardinals kicker Chandler Catanzaro hit two field goals Week 16 against the Seahawks.

Catanzaro was the only source of the Cardinals' offense during the contest. He managed to convert from 27 yards out and 32 yards out. The Cardinals could not find the end zone, so Catanzaro did not have an extra point opportunity. Catanzaro will take on the 49ers Week 17.


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Wilson wasn't exactly a game-breaker, with none of his catches going for more than 17 yards, but then again, he was working with a backup quarterback in Jimmy Clausen. With Clausen at quarterback and Jeffery on the other side of the field, Wilson is a long shot for big numbers in Fantasy, but he proved to be a reliable enough target to make an impact in PPR leagues, if you need help there.


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Fitzgerald received a team-high 11 targets, but only came up with four receptions. He gained 33 yards, averaging 8.3 yards per catch. Fitzgerald did draw two illegal use of hands penalties during the contest, so was useful on some of his incompletions. 

Fitzgerald will look for more Week 17 against the 49ers.


Cardinals WR Michael Floyd finishes with 41 yards
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(12:23 am ET) Cardinals wideout Michael Floyd had a rough game Week 16 against the Seahawks.

Floyd received eight targets, but only came down with two catches. Both of those receptions came on the same drive in the third quarter. Floyd hauled in a nine yard pass to start, and then pulled down a 32 yard reception just three plays later. He was able to draw two defensive penalties on his other targets, so he found a way to make a difference even though he only had two receptions.

Floyd will look for more Week 17 against the 49ers. 


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by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(12:20 am ET) Cardinals running back Stepfan Taylor had a tough game Week 16 against the Seahawks.

Taylor received 11 carries, but only gained 19 yards during the contest. With Ryan Lindley at quarterback, the Seahawks defense could focus on stopping the run all game. Taylor averaged just 1.7 yards per attempt during the contest. He was a slightly larger threat in the passing game, pulling down two receptions for 25 yards.

Taylor will take on the 49ers Week 17.


Backup quarterback won't ruin Alshon Jeffery
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(12:18 am ET) Though the Bears passing game didn't fare so well overall with the switch to Jimmy Clausen at quarterback Week 16 against Detroit, top wide receiver Alshon Jeffery made as much of an impact as usual, catching six passes for 72 yards and a touchdown. He's had between 70 and 80 receiving yards in three of his last four games, scoring at least one touchdown in six straight.

His 15 targets were actually the second-most he's had in a game this season, but that's not too surprising since it was his first game without Brandon Marshall on the opposite side of the field. Marshall is out for the season because of rib and lung injuries.

Clausen threw for only 181 yards against the Lions, but it was an especially difficult matchup. And with Jeffery no longer competing with Marshall for looks, he was able to make a major impact regardless.

Don't worry so much about his quarterback. Just keep running Jeffery out there Week 17 at Minnesota.


Cardinals QB Ryan Lindley fails to find the end zone Week 16
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(12:17 am ET) Cardinals quarterback Ryan Lindley failed to find the end zone Week 16 against the Seahawks.

Lindley completed 18 of 44 passes for 216 yards. He threw one interception and fumbled during the contest. Lindley couldn't get much going against a rejuvenated Seahawks defense. When he did have opportunties to throw, Lindley had to settle for check-downs. He averaged just 4.9 yards per attempt. The Seattle pass rush gave him a hard time, coming up with four sacks. 

If Drew Stanton is unable to return, Lindley would take on the 49ers Week 17.


Seahawks kicker Steven Hauschka misses three field goals
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(12:13 am ET) Seahawks kicker Steven Hauschka missed all three of his field goal attempts Week 16 against the Cardinals.

Hauschka missed wide right on his first two attempts. He failed to convert from 50 yards and 52 yards. On his third attempt, Hauschka missed on a 47 yard attempt. This time, he missed to the left. He did manage to hit five extra points. Hauschka will take on the Rams Week 17.


Reggie Bush still has something to contribute
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(12:11 am ET) Though Joique Bell took the ball and ran with it, so to speak, while Reggie Bush missed much of Weeks 6-13 with an ankle injury, Bush showed he's not a complete afterthought Week 16 at Chicago, rushing seven times for 54 yards and a score and catching six passes for 44 yards.

Bell was still the primary ball carrier, of course, rushing 13 times for 74 yards and a touchdown and catching two passes for 13 yards, but Bush is still a big enough part of the game plan to factor in PPR leagues. Week 16 was the second game in three since returning in which he's caught at least four passes.


Seahawks WR Doug Baldwin goes over 100 yards Week 16
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(12:09 am ET) Seahawks wideout Doug Baldwin went over 100 yards Week 16 against the Cardinals.

Baldwin hauled in a team-high seven catches for 113 yards. Baldwin was quarterback Russell Wilson's favorite option during the contest, receiving 11 targets. While Baldwin didn't lead the team in yardage, he was Wilson's most consistent target. It was Baldwin's first 100 yard game since Week 6.

Baldwin will look for more Week 17 against the Rams.


 
 
 
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