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Week 2 Fantasy Faceoffs

Senior Fantasy Writer
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Editor's note: Each week Dave Richard, Jamey Eisenberg and Nathan Zegura will tackle lineup dilemmas that you might be facing. These subjects are derived from discrepancies in Dave's and Jamey's weekly rankings .

Start Beanie Wells at Washington?
Dave Richard Wells took advantage of a great matchup last week at home against the Panthers and totaled over 100 yards and a touchdown. Now he's got the exact opposite -- a challenging matchup on the road -- so I can't expect the same thing. The Redskins run defense looked great against the Giants, holding them cumulatively to under 4.0 yards per carry, which is a definite improvement. The Redskins should be able to handle the Cardinals' average O-line and catch up to Wells, who still hasn't flashed great speed. If anything, this is a week where Wells will be tested and Fantasy owners can figure out if he's truly an every-down back worth leaning on. If you're thin at running back then going with Wells should yield some stats, but it would be a mild upset if he scored and came close to the yardage from Week 1.
I'd rather start: Cadillac Williams (at NYG), Joseph Addai (vs. CLE), Reggie Bush (vs. HOU)
Jamey Eisenberg Wells was a standout Fantasy option in Week 1 as our Start of the Week after he ran well against Carolina with 18 carries for 90 yards and a touchdown and four catches for 12 yards. He should have at least 18 touches again this week against Washington, which is clearly a tougher matchup, but you're not going to bench him. The Redskins still allowed Ahmad Bradshaw to score last week, and Wells should be able to reach double digits in Fantasy points again in this matchup, especially if he remains involved in the passing game. I don't like Wells as much as I did in Week 1 because this is a tougher opponent on the road, but I'm not buying the Redskins as a shutdown run defense just yet. If Wells were facing the Ravens this week then I would consider benching him, but don't let the Redskins scare you into keeping Wells on your bench. He's a quality No. 2 Fantasy option in this matchup.
I'm starting Wells over: BenJarvus Green-Ellis (vs. SD), Cadillac Williams (at NYG), LaDainian Tomlinson (vs. JAC)
Nathan Zegura There are only a handful of true featured backs who get the ball on all three downs and at the goal line, and Beanie Wells is one of them. That is reason alone to consider him a good starting option week in and week out unless he has a brutal matchup. The Redskins are far from a shut down run defense (they allowed 127 yards per game, seventh most, and surrendered 15 rushing touchdowns, eighth most, in 2010) and I think Wells can produce similar totals to the Giants tandem of Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs in Week 1 when they combined for 19 carries for 73 yards and a score in a losing effort. Wells himself opened the year with 90 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries against the Panthers to go with four catches for 12 yards. For his career, Wells has now topped 100 yards or scored in eight of the 10 games in which he has seen at least 14 carries. I like those odds and I would continue to start Wells in Week 2 against the Redskins.
I'm starting Wells over: DeAngelo Williams (vs. GB), BenJarvus Green-Ellis (at SD), Chris Johnson (vs. BAL)
Start Kenny Britt vs. Baltimore?
Dave Richard Just because Ben Roethlisberger turned the ball over five times last week doesn't mean the Ravens secondary is outstanding. We saw Kenny Britt take advantage of a weak Jaguars pass defense last week, racking up 136 yards on five catches with a pair of scores. Is the matchup tougher this week? You bet. Will the Titans have to throw to keep up? You bet. Matt Hasselbeck targeted Britt 10 times in Week 1, making it clear that he likes what he's got in his big third-year receiver. With the Titans expected to play from behind on Sunday, Britt figures to be a key player in the offense. Chris Johnson will get his work in too, but it's hard to pass up a player like Britt given the expected number of chances he will have and his physical gifts.
I'm starting Britt over: Percy Harvin (vs. TB), Brandon Marshall (vs. HOU), Roddy White (vs. PHI)
Jamey Eisenberg Would I start Britt this week? Yes. Do I like him as much as I did in Week 1 at Jacksonville? No. The Ravens should be able to overwhelm the Titans this week, and Matt Hasselbeck will be running for his life. I just see better receivers out there with better matchups who have the chance for more Fantasy production. As we always tell you, don't panic when your Fantasy team loses in Week 1, and don't overvalue players when they have big outings either. Britt was great against the Jaguars as expected because Jacksonville doesn't have a good defense. The Ravens do, and they will scheme to stop two players -- Johnson and Britt. He is still worth using as a No. 2 Fantasy receiver in most formats, but there are other receivers in better situations to succeed this week based on the matchups. As you can tell, I'm expecting the Ravens to win this game in blowout fashion.
I'd rather start: Anquan Boldin (at TEN), Santonio Holmes (vs. JAC), Brandon Marshall (vs. HOU)
Nathan Zegura Kenny Britt is proving to be a dominant receiver in the NFL when healthy and I think he has earned the right to be considered an every week starter for your teams. Including Week 1 of the 2011 season, Britt has scored a touchdown in eight of his last 10 full games, with 11 total scores during that span. He has a 90 percent consistency rate in those games, which would be the best among all receivers and is clearly off to a good start with new quarterback Matt Hasselbeck. Britt saw 10 targets and netted five catches for 136 yards and two scores in Week 1 against the Jaguars. The Ravens are a great defense, but I am much more concerned about Chris Johnson than I am Britt. Mike Wallace still topped 100 yards against the Ravens in Week 1 and Baltimore is starting a rookie and a former practice squad player at cornerback. I do not see how you sit Britt right now given his recent stat sheet stuffing.
I'm starting Britt over: Julio Jones (vs. PHI), Steve Smith (vs. GB), Percy Harvin (vs. TB)
Start Greg Olsen vs. Green Bay?
Dave Richard I get the argument for starting Olsen: He's a tight end against a Packers pass defense that doesn't corral the tight end very well. That's all well and good, but if Cam Newton proved one thing last week it's that he doesn't mind throwing to either of his tight ends. Now Olsen gets more looks than Jeremy Shockey, that's true, but Steve Smith was the true apple of Newton's eye (11 targets). The Packers are going to do three things defensively when they know the Panthers are going to throw: They're going to harass Newton, they're going to contain Smith and they'll pay close attention to Olsen, who is basically the Panthers' No. 2 receiver. This is a good week to ride a hotter hand at tight end and not settle for the numbers Olsen will give you. Olsen is fine if you own him but count on other tight ends to put up better stats.
I'd rather start: Owen Daniels (at MIA), Aaron Hernandez (vs. SD), Rob Gronkowski (vs. SD)
Jamey Eisenberg Olsen is a must-start tight end this week based on his play in the season opener at Arizona, his role in the offense and the matchup this week against Green Bay. Olsen had four catches for 78 yards against the Cardinals on six targets. All that was missing was the touchdown, and that could happen this week against the Packers. The way to attack Green Bay is in the middle of the field since they have tremendous cornerbacks, and last week the Saints found success with Jimmy Graham, who had four catches for 56 yards and a touchdown. I don't expect Cam Newton to play as well against the Packers as he did against the Cardinals because it is a tougher matchup, but he should be able to find Olsen enough to make him a starter in all formats. There will not be 12 tight ends better than Olsen this week.
I'm starting Olsen over: Kellen Winslow (at MIN), Jermaine Gresham (at DEN), Brandon Pettigrew (vs. KC)
Nathan Zegura I do not love the matchup with Green Bay for either Cam Newton or Steve Smith, but I would continue to roll with tight end Greg Olsen. Olsen saw six targets in Week 1 and caught four passes for a solid 78 yards. The only real area of the Green Bay defense that has been exploitable for Fantasy owners over the last 17 games has been their inability to keep tight ends out of the end zone. Last year, seven of the 16 scores (a league high 44 percent) that the Packers allowed via the pass went to opposing tight ends. In Week 1, Jimmy Graham of the Saints found the end zone as well. I am not saying Olsen is going to blow up this week, but I think he will see eight targets as the safety valve for Newton against the Green Bay pressure packages and has a great chance to score, keeping him in my top 12 at tight end in Week 2.
I'm starting Olsen over: Tony Gonzalez (vs. PHI), Marcedes Lewis (at NYJ), Scott Chandler (vs. OAK)
Better Week 2 option: Ryan Fitzpatrick or Mark Sanchez?
Dave Richard I think the Bills have it in their heads that they can throw the ball with relative ease. Ryan Fitzpatrick didn't throw a lot last week (25 attempts) but still notched four touchdowns, and the secondary he'll see on Sunday won't be well-rested after playing on the road on Monday and flying across the country to play at 1 p.m. ET. It wouldn't shock me in the least if Fitzpatrick burned the Raiders secondary for two or three more scores. Sanchez could do the same thing, though I suspect the Jets will run more than they did last week against the Cowboys. Bottom line? Both of these quarterbacks are going up against cupcake secondaries. I think Fitzpatrick is the better option this week.
Jamey Eisenberg I've found myself getting on the Mark Sanchez bandwagon more and more as the preseason went on, and I was impressed with his play against the Cowboys in Week 1. The addition of offensive consultant Tom Moore, who was with Peyton Manning for most of his career, should do wonders for Sanchez as the season goes on. He also has quality targets in Santonio Holmes, Plaxico Burress, Dustin Keller, Derrick Mason and LaDainian Tomlinson, and this week he has an amazing matchup against the Jaguars at home. Jacksonville's secondary is a tremendous weakness, and Sanchez has the opportunity to have consecutive 20-point Fantasy weeks after starting out with a 21-point performance against Dallas. The Jaguars just allowed 20 Fantasy points to Hasselbeck, and Sanchez is clearly better than Hasselbeck at this point in their careers. If you need a quarterback for this week, I would go with Sanchez over Fitzpatrick since I expect Sanchez to have more Fantasy production.
Nathan Zegura I think both Mark Sanchez and "The Genius" Ryan Fitzpatrick are solid starts in Week 2 against the Jaguars and Raiders, respectively. If I had to pick one, I would go with Sanchez over Fitzpatrick this week because I like his pass catching group of Santonio Holmes, Plaxico Burress, Derrick Mason, Dustin Keller, and LaDainian Tomlinson much better than their counterparts in Buffalo. The Jets are becoming more of a passing team and Sanchez just threw for a career high 335 yards and two scores against the Cowboys. The Jaguars are a very generous pass defense (28 touchdowns allowed in 2010, sixth most last year) and they just surrendered 263 yards and two scores to the Titans in Week 1. My only concern with The Sanchize is that the game gets out of hand and the Jets run a lot with Shonn Greene, which is why I would actually start Rex Grossman over both of them.
Better Week 2 option: Kellen Winslow or Tony Gonzalez?
Dave Richard I realize that Nnamdi Asomugha and Asante Samuel won't be asked to defend Tony Gonzalez much on Sunday night, but I still give the Eagles secondary credit for being good against tight ends. Lance Kendricks had a terrible first game last week against Philadelphia and left a lot of stats on the field, and Gonzalez is far more polished and able to not drop the football. But the Eagles in their self-review have to know that Gonzalez will be a key factor in what the Falcons will do. Heck, he scored on them twice last season (on three catches). The Eagles can't let him crush them again. Winslow's matchup is great -- the Vikings safeties are a liability and the Bucs should be able to have their way with them. I'll take the safer tight end in Winslow.
Jamey Eisenberg Gonzalez was a pleasant surprise in Week 1 at Chicago with five catches for 72 yards on seven targets, and he should have at least that kind of production, if not more, against the Eagles. The way to attack Philadelphia's defense is over the middle since they have amazing cornerbacks, and Gonzalez could be featured in this matchup. The Eagles were the worst team at defending tight ends in 2010 based on Fantasy points allowed, and the Rams should have had more success against Philadelphia last week. Rookie Lance Kendricks had five targets against the Eagles, but he had two drops and finished with one catch for 18 yards. Don't expect Gonzalez to drop too many passes, and last year at Philadelphia he had three catches for 19 yards and two touchdowns. He might not score twice again this week, but he should come close to double digits in Fantasy points. And I would start him over Winslow this week based on the matchup.
Nathan Zegura I don't love either of these guys in Week 2, but I would side with Kellen Winslow just by a little over Tony Gonzalez. On paper, Gonzo has the better matchup against the Eagles, who allowed the most points per game (10) and most touchdowns (11) to tight ends in 2011. However, I am just not sold on him this year and with Julio Jones in the mix, I see Tony as the third option in the Atlanta passing game. I also expect the Falcons to try an exploit a suspect Philadelphia run defense that surrendered 154 yards rushing (eigth most) on 5.9 yards per carry (fourth highest) to the Rams in Week 1. That means we should see a very healthy dose of Michael Turner in this game and if Gonzalez does not score, I expect very mediocre numbers. Winslow is really the second passing option in Tampa Bay and hauled in six of his eight Week 1 targets for 66 yards, so he is a little safer to me.
Better Week 2 option: Chris Johnson or James Starks?
Dave Richard James Starks is a nice inside rusher, and sure, he's a candidate to get a lot of reps in garbage time against the Panthers. But to lose faith in Johnson after one game where he had nine carries is absurd. Offensive coordinator Chris Palmer knows that Johnson has to be more involved or else it's going to get ugly. I suspect we'll see Johnson hit the edges and catch plenty of screens. The Ravens' run defense did get off to a terrible start last week against the Steelers as Rashard Mendenhall had 44 yards on his first eight carries, then the game got out of hand for the Steelers and Mendenhall couldn't get the work, thus making the Ravens run defense look great. Johnson should stay involved regardless of the score and should find a way to do better than Starks. I can't recommend benching your first-round pick for a good, not great, running back that is still losing some work to another back.
Jamey Eisenberg Most Fantasy owners drafted Johnson to play him each week, and rightfully so. But sometimes you have to make tough decisions with your lineup, and this could be one of those weeks. If you drafted Starks as your No. 3 or 4 running back, you should consider playing him over Johnson. He has a better matchup, and he should be more successful. In Week 1, Starks showed that he is going to be the best running back in Green Bay with 12 carries for 57 yards and a touchdown. Even though Ryan Grant is the starter, Starks played more and should again be more productive in Week 2 at Carolina. Johnson, meanwhile, struggled against Jacksonville with nine carries for 24 yards and six catches for 25 yards. We can all agree he is going to be more involved against Baltimore, but we also know the Ravens run defense is much better than the Jaguars. It's a tough call to bench Johnson, but in Week 2 Starks will have more Fantasy points.
Nathan Zegura Starks is looking like he will become the main man in Green Bay and I love his Week 2 matchup with Carolina. In 2010, Carolina was 10th against the run, allowing 124 yards per game and they also gave up 20 rushing scores, second most. They did not get off to a much better start in 2011 as Arizona's Beanie Wells picked up 90 yards and score against them on only 18 carries. Adding injury to insult, the Panthers will also be without middle linebacker Jon Beason, who is out for the year after getting hurt against the Cardinals. Look for Green Bay to be playing with the lead in this game and I expect a monster second half from Starks, who has more upside to me than Chris Johnson running behind a suspect offensive line against the Ravens. After all, the Ravens have allowed an NFL low five rushing touchdowns in their last 18 regular season games and have held Rashard Mendenhall (for comparison's sake) to less than 50 yards rushing in four of their last five games. Johnson will catch some passes, but he averaged just 5.5 yards per catch last year and had six catches for 24 yards in Week 1, so that will not make up for the low rushing totals. I know it is a little risky, but I would go with Starks in what should be a blowout win for Green Bay rather than Johnson in a very tough test against the Ravens.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us via Twitter @CBSFantasyFB . You can also follow Dave at @daverichard , Jamey at @JameyEisenberg and Nathan at @NathanZeguraTFC .

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Player News
Report: Bills part ways with WR Mike Williams on Monday
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(1:10 pm ET) The Bills have released wide receiver Mike Williams on Monday, Adam Schefter of ESPN reports. Williams landed on injured reserve on Dec. 8 with a calf injury but appears to be fully recovered. He had only eight catches for 142 yards and one touchdown with Buffalo this season.

Eagles QB Nick Foles will not play season finale
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(1:06 pm ET) Eagles coach Chip Kelly said during his Monday news conference that quarterback Nick Foles will not play Sunday's season finale against the Giants, per the Delaware News Journal. Foles left Week 9 with the injury and has not been able to return. With the Eagles out of playoff contention, his season ends with 2,163 passing yards with 13 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.

Panthers will make final decision on Frank Alexander on Monday
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(1:00 pm ET) Panthers coach Ron Rivera told reporters he will make a decision on adding defensive end Frank Alexander to the 53-man active roster on Monday, per the Associated Press. Alexander has been reinstated from his 10-game suspension for violating the league's substance abuse policy. Monday is the Alexander's deadline to be added to an active roster.

Alexander had 15 total tackles in 2013 with one sack.


Panthers to stick with RB Jonathan Stewart vs. Falcons
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(12:56 pm ET) Panthers coach Ron Rivera told reporters during his Monday news conference that he'll stick with running back Jonathan Stewart moving forward, per the Associated Press. Stewart's running mate, DeAngelo Williams, has sat out three straight games with a hands injury. Over the last four weeks, Stewart has rushed for 437 yards, which is the most by any running back in the NFL.

The Panthers will travel to Atlanta to face the Falcons for the NFC South title. Carolina is currently a 3 1/2-point underdog in Week 17.


Panthers' Rivera: Cam Newton came out of game in good health
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(12:47 pm ET) Panthers coach Ron Rivera told reporters Monday that early indications are that quarterback Cam Newton came out of Sunday's game against the Browns in good health, per the team's official website.

Newton, who came off two small fractures in his back sustained in a car accident, completed 18 of 31 for 201 yards with one touchdown and one interception. He also rushed for 63 yards and another score on 12 attempts.

Newton and the Panthers will travel to Atlanta to face the Falcons for the NFC South title. Carolina is currently a 3 1/2-point underdog in Week 17.


Cardinals RB situation a complete mess now
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(12:38 pm ET) Whether it was because he was limited in practice by a knee injury leading up to the game or because the Cardinals fell behind early and needed more of a pass blocker in the backfield, running back Kerwynn Williams, who had performed admirably the previous two weeks, totaling 175 yards on the ground, was hardly a factor Week 16 against Seattle, getting two carries for 4 yards.

Instead, Stepfan Taylor was the lead ball carrier. Of course, he wasn't so effective in the role, picking up 19 yards on 11 carries, but that's bound to happen for any running back going against the Seahawks. He did at least have 25 yards on two catches. Marion Grice and Robert Hughes also each got a carry, but they haven't been as much of a factor with Andre Ellington out.

Williams seems to be the best rusher of the group and the one you'd prefer to see get the carries in Fantasy, but if the Cardinals are that willing to abandon him when the score isn't in their favor, you can never feel confident playing him in Fantasy. Especially now that the Cardinals are down to their third quarterback, the score isn't going to be in their favor so often.

Week 17 at San Francisco should be a more competitive game, but given that the 49ers are tough against the run as well, you should probably pass on Williams for the season's final week.


Lions DT Nick Fairley (knee) ditches crutches
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(12:38 pm ET) Lions coach Jim Caldwell told reporters defensive tackle Nick Fairley is "making good progress" in his recovering from knee injury, per the team's official website. Fairley is no longer in crutches and is not a candidate to land on injured reserve "at this precise moment."

Fairley was stretchered off in Week 8 against the Falcons with the injury. He totaled 14 tackles and one forced fumble.


Doug Baldwin takes advantage of injury
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(12:27 pm ET) Wide receiver Doug Baldwin hasn't emerged as the Seahawks' clear No. 1 as Fantasy owners had hoped after the team shipped Percy Harvin to the Jets, sometimes taking a back seat to Jermaine Kearse. But after Kearse left early Week 16 at Arizona with a hamstring injury, Baldwin didn't have as much competition for looks, catching seven passes for 113 yards on a season-high 11 targets.

It was his second game in three with more than 90 yards, but it was also just his second in eight with more than 60, to give you some idea how much Kearse has interfered with his production.

Also helping Baldwin in this one was the fact that quarterback Russell Wilson threw for a season-high 339 yards. In the Seahawks' inconsistent passing attack, you couldn't count on Baldwin for consistent production even if he was the clear No. 1.

Still, if Kearse is out for Week 17 against St. Louis, Baldwin deserves a longer look in Fantasy, particularly in leagues that require three wide receivers.


Steelers keeping eye on LB Williams, OT Beachum
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(12:22 pm ET) Mike Tomlin has stated that the team will monitor Steelers linebacker Vince Williams (ankle) and tackle Kelvin Beachum (back) as it prepares to host Cincinnati in the regular season finale Sunday.

Williams has started just two games, but he has seen increased playing time over the course of the season.


Luke Willson's lack of targets telling
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(12:13 pm ET) Seahawks tight end Luke Willson had a career performance Week 16 at Arizona, going for 139 yards and two touchdowns, including an 80-yarder in the second quarter. But those numbers distract from one just as important: His three catches were his only three targets on the day.

Even with quarterback Russell Wilson attempting more than 30 passes for just the second time in five games, Willson wasn't any more targeted than usual. It's just that two of them happened to result in big plays.

The long touchdown was probably a fluke. He got behind the defense, an oversight on its part, and ran away from everyone after he caught the ball. Big deal. Take it away, and he had two catches for 59 yards and a touchdown -- a good performance by his standards, but nothing that would send Fantasy owners flocking to the waiver wire.

Even though Willson got the numbers, Wilson's preferred targets were wide receivers Doug Baldwin and Paul Richardson, who had 11 and seven targets, respectively. Those were season highs for each.

If you can't count on them to get consistent looks in the Seahawks offense, you certainly can't count on Willson to. He's had only three games with more than four all season, none in the last three weeks.


 
 
 
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