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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
Status quo for Trent Richardson
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(7:07 pm ET) Prior to Week 4, you probably weren't the least bit excited about starting Trent Richardson in Fantasy. But then he scored a touchdown, which, combined with an uncharacteristic 52 receiving yards, led to a 15-point showing in standard CBSSports.com leagues.

But here's what he still didn't do against the Titans: run the ball effectively, which is saying something considering they rank 22nd against the run, allowing 127.0 yards per game. On a daring 20 carries, Richardson picked up only 47 yards for an average of 2.4 yards per carry.

I don't see him doing any better against the Ravens in Week 7. They rank seventh against the run, allowing 82.5 yards per game and 3.3 yards per carry.

No one can predict whether or not Richardson will get a carry at the goal line -- for some reason, the Colts keep going back to him -- but if he doesn't, just like the first three weeks, you won't like what he does for your Fantasy team.


Time to shy away from Ahmad Bradshaw?
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(6:59 pm ET) Fantasy owners who had been relying on Ahmad Bradshaw since his two-touchdown effort against the Eagles in Week 2 lucked out when he found the end zone on a 15-yard pass from Andrew Luck in the fourth quarter Week 4 against the Titans. He hadn't played much of a role up to that point, finishing the game with just 11 touches.

Looking back, even when he seemed like such a find those first two weeks, he wasn't getting all that many touches. His value was largely a function of him playing a bigger-than-expected role in the passing game, but he has just two catches in each of his last two games.

Bottom line: I'm getting nervous about using Bradshaw in Fantasy. He played only 36 percent of the Colts' snaps in Week 4, down from about 60 percent the first two weeks. The Colts seem content with the plodding Trent Richardson carrying the load, using Bradshaw as just a change-of-pace guy.

Jamey Eisenberg and Dave Richard still like him for Week 5 at Baltimore, ranking him among their top 20 running backs, but I think his luck finally runs out. The Ravens rank seventh against the run, allowing 82.5 yards per game, and have given up the seventh-fewest Fantasy points to running backs this season.


Report: Mychal Kendricks unlikely to go Week 5
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(6:57 pm ET) Eagles linebacker Mychal Kendricks is unlikely to play Week 5, according to 94 WIP.

Kendricks has already missed two games due to a calf injury, and it appears he'll miss another Sunday. Kendricks has 10 tackles and one sack through two games. 


Cam Newton hoping to run soon
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(6:46 pm ET) Panthers quarterback Cam Newton expressed that he may run more soon, according to the team's website.

Newton is still dealing with the effects of offseason ankle surgery. A rib injury during the preseason has also impacted his ability to use his legs more. Newton stressed that he's looking to be more of a pocket passer, though, even when he's fully healthy. "I look at myself as a pocket passer with the ability to run," Newton said. He added, however, that he's feeling healthier and might be able to show off his running skills soon. "Hopefully I will be able to display my running talents soon," he added.


Pierre Garcon, DeSean Jackson risky for Week 5
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(6:41 pm ET) If the last two weeks are any indication, as quarterback Kirk Cousins goes, so go wide receivers Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson. Both were complete busts in Week 4, when Cousins threw four interceptions in a laugher against the Giants.

The correlation is especially troubling with the Redskins set to host defending champion Seattle in Week 5. The Seahawks, in case you haven't heard, are pretty stellar on defense. Though statistically, they don't rank as high against the pass as you'd expect thanks to some tough matchups against Aaron Rodgers, Philip Rivers and Peyton Manning to begin the season, Cousins isn't of the same caliber. And not all of them did so hot anyway. Rodgers threw for just 189 yards in Week 1.

If you're going to pick one, Garcon is probably the better choice since his role as the possession receiver should theoretically make him a little more consistent than the boom-or-bust Jackson, but neither Jamey Eisenberg nor Dave Richard has either higher than 32nd at wide receiver this week.


No reason to trust in Eric Ebron yet
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(6:31 pm ET) Lions rookie tight end Eric Ebron scored his first career touchdown Week 4 at the Jets, which is nice and all, but frankly, given the circumstances surrounding the performance (star wide receiver Calvin Johnson hobbled by a sprained ankle, fellow tight end Joseph Fauria in a walking boot, etc.), I would have hoped for more.

He caught only three passes for 34 yards, and his four targets weren't even a season high. The Rams' Jared Cook has had more catches and targets in all three of the games he's played this season, and you don't see anybody rushing to add him.

The Lions host the Bills in Week 5, who rank 25th against the pass, allowing 266.3 yards per game, but I wouldn't consider Ebron any sort of sleeper yet, at least not in standard 12-team leagues.


Golden Tate's value tied to Calvin Johnson
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(6:19 pm ET) As Chris Towers so deftly noted Sunday, Golden Tate's breakthrough performance in which he caught eight passes for 116 yards Week 4 at the Jets may have had something to do with Calvin Johnson playing only 57 percent of the Lions' snaps because of a sprained ankle. So presumably, Tate owners would like to know how Johnson is doing now.

Well, he missed practice Wednesday but recently told The Detroit News his ankle is "definitely better" than it was last week. He missed practice both Wednesday and Thursday leading up to that game.

I'm thinking the Lions would rather give Johnson a chance to get healthy than run him out there as a decoy every week, so if he's active again Week 5 against Buffalo, I wouldn't be particularly optimistic about Tate's chances.

Then again, the floor is pretty low for Tate. In four games, he has yet to go for less than 51 yards. Jamey Eisenberg and Dave Richard rank him in the 20-30 range at wide receiver, which would make him an advisable starter in 12-team leagues. That sounds about right.


Matt Schaub rejoins Raiders Wednesday
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(6:06 pm ET) Raiders quarterback Matt Schaub has rejoined the club Wednesday, according to the San Francisco Chronicle

Schaub was away for a couple days while dealing with a non-injury situation. He rejoined the club Wednesday, and could play Week 6 if Derek Carr is unable to go. 


Rivera: So far, so good for Panthers RB Chris Ogbonnaya
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(6:00 pm ET) Panthers just-signed running back Chris Ogbonnaya impressed Ron Rivera on Wednesday. The team hopes the former Cleveland back can bolster what has been an injury-plagued backfield.

"Chris had a good day," Rivera told the team website. "He's a smart young man. He's been in a very similar system. There is a lot of overlap with the terminology. He seemed to assimilate very nicely to it."

Ogbonnaya has racked up 660 rushing yards and 714 receiving yards in 46 games in the NFL, mostly with the Browns.


Joique Bell not a great start either way
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(5:53 pm ET) Though Joique Bell missed practice Wednesday after leaving early in Week 4 with a concussion, the Lions aren't ruling him out for Week 5 against Buffalo. But even if he plays, you probably wouldn't want to start him in Fantasy.

The Bills rank third against the run, allowing 71.5 yards per game and just 2.9 per carry. They limited the Texans' Arian Foster to 6 yards on eight carries in Week 4 and have allowed the sixth-fewest Fantasy points to running backs this season.

Those yards per carry may have been skewed by the Chargers' Donald Brown's 62 yards on 31 carries in Week 3. It's pretty clear by now he's just a bad running back. But it's not like Bell has been a world-beater himself. Splitting carries with Reggie Bush, he has only once run for even 40 yards in a game this season and is averaging 3.2 yards per carry.

Especially coming back from a concussion, he's just a desperation play this week.


 
 
 
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