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Week 3 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 .

Which elite QB would you sit in favor of Cam Newton in Week 3?
Dave Richard You guys already know that Panthers quarterback Cam Newton has the arm and legs to put up big stats and that his matchup against the Jaguars' lowly secondary is very good. You know that he's making the most of his receiving corps and is picking up some bonus passing yardage from dump-offs to his running backs. These are things Matt Schaub has surprisingly not been doing through the first two weeks of the season. Part of the reason why Schaub hasn't done this is because the Texans' run game has been excellent even with Arian Foster banged up. The Texans' matchup against the Saints screams barnburner, and it wouldn't be a surprise if Schaub did well. Look, both guys are worth starting, but if they're both guaranteed to get, say, 20 Fantasy points, it's a no-brainer that Newton has the upside to get closer to 30 points, which he nearly totaled against the Packers, one of the best defenses in the league, in just his second NFL game last week.
Jamey Eisenberg Are we really hyping a rookie quarterback in just his third NFL start? Have all three of us gone off the deep end, or is Newton really that good? I think you have to look at the quarterback landscape for Fantasy owners and realize that Newton should be considered a No. 1 option this week. And he should perform better than Ben Roethlisberger, who will do plenty of handing off in Indianapolis against a bad Colts defense. Newton has put the Panthers on his shoulders, and he's kept them in games against Arizona on the road for his first NFL start and against an excellent Green Bay defense. This week he has a favorable matchup against Jacksonville, which has allowed four passing touchdowns to Matt Hasselbeck and Mark Sanchez in consecutive weeks. With his rushing ability, Newton should be able to reach at least 20 Fantasy points, and he should do better than Roethlisberger this week.
Nathan Zegura Aaron Rodgers is always a great start, but the Bears do seem to have a formula for slowing him down, so I am actually thinking of going with Newton this week over him in one of my leagues. Newton is getting 50 chances to make plays per game (41.5 pass attempts and nine rushing attempts) and has a 100 percent big game rate after two games. At the goal line, he also leads all quarterbacks with eight chances and three scores, so clearly this is his offense. Newton has a nice matchup against a Jaguars defense that has allowed four passing touchdowns already this year and is giving up a healthy 7.7 yards per attempt. Add in the fact that Blaine Gabbert makes his NFL debut this week and I think Newton will be in favorable situations all game long. Meanwhile, over his last five games against Chicago, Rodgers is averaging just 234 yards passing and one score per game, which is well below his usual output. In the last four meetings, Rodgers does not have a single game with multiple touchdown passes and has been held under 200 yards passing twice. In other words, this may be one of the tougher matchups Rodgers faces all year and while I would consider him a must start every week, if I had either Matthew Stafford against Minnesota or Cam Newton against the Jags, I’d gamble on them this week. I’d also take Newton over Tony Romo, Matt Schaub, Ben Roethlisberger, Eli Manning and Jay Cutler this week.
Which elite TE would you sit in favor of Fred Davis in Week 3?
Dave Richard Dallas Clark has been a total disappointment through two games against the Texans and Browns, and now the Steelers will come calling to Lucas Oil Stadium. Pittsburgh's defense should have its way with an overmatched Indianapolis offensive line and get in the face of quarterback Kerry Collins. That will make it hard for him to throw pretty much anything beyond quick screen passes to Clark. I like that Clark has been targeted 13 times through two games, but the 71 yards and one garbage-time touchdown to show for it doesn't raise eyebrows. And get this: Davis has just as many targets with twice as many receiving yards (11-191-1). The Steelers' secondary isn't the best in the league, but they are way better than what Davis will go up against in Dallas on Monday.
Jamey Eisenberg Heading into Week 3, the Top 7 tight ends based on Fantasy points in a standard league are Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez, Dustin Keller, Tony Gonzalez, Scott Chandler, Fred Davis and Jeff King. You have to look way down the list to find Vernon Davis, who has just five Fantasy points right now, which trails the No. 2 tight end on his own team in Delanie Walker, who has nine points. Alex Smith can't get his Davis involved in the offense, but Rex Grossman sure knows how to use his Davis. Fred Davis has clearly moved past Chris Cooley as the No. 1 tight end for the Redskins. In Week 3, he has a tremendous matchup at Dallas, which has allowed two tight ends to score in Keller and Walker. Davis has developed a tremendous rapport with Grossman, and he should be started in all leagues while he's playing at this level.
Nathan Zegura Dallas Clark is struggling along with the rest of the Colts without Peyton Manning and has just eight catches for 71 yards and a touchdown in two games thus far. I do not like the fact that Clark is averaging just 5.5 yards per target and 8.9 yards per catch with Kerry Collins under center. The Colts have a tough matchup with the Steelers and you have to wonder if Collins will have enough time to complete his windup and make any plays down the field. Fred Davis, on the other hand, is averaging a tight end best 14.7 yards per target and is second at 17.4 yards per catch. He has seen the same 13 targets as Clark, but has 191 yards (second at the position) and one touchdown. Add in the fact that Davis will get to victimize a Cowboys pass defense that has given up 37 passing scores in their last 18 games -- most in the NFL -- and Davis is a great play in Week 3.
You can only start one: Ryan Mathews or Mike Tolbert?
Dave Richard I love both running backs in this game. Not like -- love. The Chiefs run defense has been Colts-like so far this season and with no end in sight, the Chargers can order a double-dose of rushing. And not only are both of these guys great at running the ball, they're both in the Top 5 in targets among running backs (Tolbert has 18, Mathews has 14). Tolbert owns the goal line, so I can see why some people might favor him over Mathews, but if you expect both running backs to score then you might want to take the back with more carries and a better rushing average (Mathews is running at a 4.5 yards per average clip while Tolbert is only at 2.1) and receiving average (13.5 for Mathews, 7.7 for Tolbert). In closing, I'm not sure if there's a winner or a loser to this topic, but I'd bank on Mathews to be slightly better than Tolbert in Fantasy play.
Jamey Eisenberg I'd love to start both Chargers running backs, and I'm going to make a case for doing just that in Start ‘Em and Sit ‘Em this week. But if I have to choose one I'm still standing behind Tolbert. He is going to be on the field more in passing situations, and he's going to work at the goal line. The Chargers should be able to do whatever they want against a bad Kansas City defense this week, and both running backs should be productive. But I still expect Tolbert to have more receptions, score more touchdowns and be the one closing out the game in the fourth quarter. As long as he isn't dealing with fumble issues, he will have more Fantasy value. Again, you can start Mathews this week also since he should do enough damage to be a stellar Fantasy option. He just won't be better than Tolbert.
Nathan Zegura Ryan Mathews is the one Charger runner I would go with this week against the Chiefs, but make no mistake about it, both Mathews and Mike Tolbert are top 15 options for me this week. Mathews is averaging 122 total yards per game and has been far more efficient with his touches than Tolbert. Mathews is averaging 4.5 yards per carry compared to 2.1 for Tolbert and Mathews is top three at running back with his 13.5 yards per catch, 9.6 yards per target and 135 yards receiving. To make it crystal clear, Mathews has touched the ball 34 times for 244 yards, while Tolbert has 38 touches for 176 yards. Yes, Tolbert will likely score in this game, but Mathews can too as he leads the NFL in rushing scores of five or more yards over the last 18 games. I love his increased involvement in the passing game and he is the safer yardage play for me, which is why he gets the nod.
You can only start one: Ryan Fitzpatrick or Kevin Kolb?
Dave Richard Ryan Fitzpatrick would be the hottest rags-to-riches quarterback in Fantasy Football if not for Cam Newton and Rex Grossman, but I can't count on him for big stats this week against a defense that has flat-out owned him in the past. He's thrown three touchdowns and six interceptions with two fumbles lost in his past three games against the Patriots. Sure seems like New England has a good way of defending him, and I imagine a lot of that has to do with his offensive line and the Pats pressuring him into mistakes. Chad Henne and Philip Rivers have had success against the Patriots this season, but their O-lines are better and their receiving corps are better (yes, even Miami's). To me, Kolb is safer. He's thrown for at least 250 yards and two scores in each of his two starts and doesn't face a tough matchup in Seattle. This isn't the week to ride the Fitzpatrick bandwagon.
Jamey Eisenberg I like Kolb this week, but Fitzpatrick is playing arguably the biggest game in Buffalo since Jim Kelly was running the "K-Gun" offense in the early '90s. The Bills and Patriots are both 2-0, and a win this week could help Buffalo establish itself as a potential playoff team. The reason for that is Fitzpatrick, who has 472 passing yards, seven touchdowns and one interception in two games and is averaging 30 Fantasy points over that span. New England's secondary is a mess right now with Chad Henne and Philip Rivers combining for 794 passing yards, five total touchdowns and three interceptions in two games. Coach Chan Gailey is trusting Fitzpatrick to make plays, and he's utilizing all his weapons in Steve Johnson, David Nelson and Scott Chandler. This is a good week to consider Fitzpatrick a No. 1 Fantasy quarterback, and I would start him ahead of Kolb.
Nathan Zegura I am sticking with 'The Genius' Ryan Fitzpatrick this week against the Patriots. He has thrown for seven passing touchdowns in the first two games of 2011 and has now tossed 30 scores in his last 15 starts. Those are pretty impressive numbers and I think he will stay hot against a struggling Patriots pass defense. Through two weeks, the Patriots have allowed two passing touchdowns and 397 yards passing per game, second most, with both Philip Rivers and Chad Henne topping 375 yards with multiple scores. The Patriots will put points on the board, so Fitzpatrick will have to throw the ball to keep up and I look for another explosive game from him. Kevin Kolb has a solid matchup with Seattle and is a good play, but I think The Genius will be throwing it a lot more this week and has the better shot at big numbers.
Start or sit James Starks at Chicago?
Dave Richard I have no problems using Starks as a low-end No. 2 running back or a flex option this week. In those roles owners could expect anywhere from seven to 10 Fantasy points and get it. To expect him to play ridiculously well and score -- as he did over 22 carries and 74 yards in last year's NFC title game at Chicago -- seems a little risky. The Bears have yet to allow a rushing touchdown this season and if not for a 53-yard jaunt by Michael Turner in Week 1 would be holding opposing rushers to just 83 yards per game. The Bears typically play the Packers close so the argument that Starks will be used to grind down the clock isn't necessarily a slam-dunk. The Packers have games in the future against the Broncos, Falcons and Rams -- those are the weeks to trust Starks. The matchup at Chicago doesn't exactly paint a rosy picture.
I'd rather start: Ryan Mathews (vs. KC), Ben Tate (at NO), Shonn Greene (at OAK)
Jamey Eisenberg I'm going to roll with Starks until he lets me down, and I don't see any reason for that to happen this week. The Bears defense is solid, but they've already struggled against running backs this season. Michael Turner had 12 Fantasy points against Chicago in Week 1 and Darren Sproles had 12 points also in Week 2. The Bears have had trouble with running backs out of the backfield with Turner, Jason Snelling and Jacquizz Rodgers each getting at least three catches for 32 yards in Week 1, and Sproles had eight catches for 43 yards and a touchdown last week. Starks plays on receiving downs for the Packers, and look for Aaron Rodgers to rely on him in all situations. He has 11 Fantasy points in each of his first two games, and I expect him to reach double digits again this week. He should be considered a No. 2 Fantasy running back.
I'm starting Starks over: Cedric Benson (vs. SF), Mark Ingram (vs. HOU) and Willis McGahee (at TEN)
Nathan Zegura You know I am all aboard the James Starks bandwagon and recommended you play him over Chris Johnson last week, but this week against the Bears things could be a lot tougher. That being said, I believe that the Packers staff is smart enough to see that he is averaging 6.8 yards per carry and needs to touch the ball 15-20 times every week, which is why I think Starks is a solid flex play this week. The Bears are one of four teams that have not allowed a rushing touchdown this year, but they are giving up a healthy 5.3 yards per carry, second most in the league. Starks is in at the goal line and is the team's pass catching back (as he showed good receiving skills on his three catches for 30 yards last week) and I think he will catch at least three passes again this week, so his total yardage should be fine. All I ask is that the Packers retire the Fantasy unfriendly John Kuhn fullback dive at the goal line, because if they do Starks will be a top 20 back this year. This is not an ideal matchup for Starks and it carries some risk because he still has not seen 15 touches in a game, but I think he will get to 70 total yards and has a good chance to score, making him a solid flex play.
I'm starting Starks over: Cedric Benson (vs. SF), DeAngelo Williams (vs. JAX), Thomas Jones (at SD)

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
Patriots' Devin McCourty: There's a 'chance that I might not be back'
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(3/2/2015) With the Patriots deciding to use their franchise tag on kicker Stephen Gostkowski, safety Devin McCourty knows his time in New England could be coming to an end. 

In an interview with ESPN's Josina Anderson, McCourty said he didn't have much information on what the Patriots would do and was going off of various media reports that came down to the organization deciding whether to franchise him or Gostkowski. 

Now that Gostkowski is ineligible from hitting the free agent market, McCourty will test the waters beginning on March 10. 

"I guess it's more realistic now that [there's] a chance that I might not be back there," McCourty said. "Or there's still a chance that I will, but I guess [there's] more of a chance now with the franchise tag going to Steve that I could be playing in a different place. Still, keeping an open mind and trying to enjoy the process."

In 2014, McCourty recorded 68 tackles and two interceptions. 


Report: Texans' Andre Johnson given permission to seek trade
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(3/2/2015) Wide receiver Andre Johnson has been given permission by the Texans to seek a trade, according to a report from the Houston Chronicle

The Texans told Johnson that he'd have a reduced role this upcoming season opposite of DeAndre Hopkins. Therefore, Johnson wanted out of his deal. If a trade cannot be made with a suitor, Johnson will be released

Johnson was the third overall pick in the 2003 NFL draft and is the greatest player in the history of the Texans. He's recorded 1,012 catches, 13,597 yards and 64 touchdowns in his career.

A trade could be difficult, however, based on Johnson's upcoming $16.1 million cap figure and $10.5 million base salary for the 2015 season. 


Colts RB Vick Ballard (Achilles) 'on schedule' with recovery
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(3/2/2015) Running back Vick Ballard is poised to be back in the Colts' plans for the 2015 season. 

Ballard, who has missed almost all of the previous two seasons due to injuries, hasn't suffered any setbacks with his recovery, according to the Colts' official website. Ballard tore his ACL in 2013 and suffered an Achilles tear before the 2014 season. 

“Vick’s doing well. He’s going through rehab right now. He’s on schedule,” Colts coach Chuck Pagano said. "He’s been working his tail. When the doctors say he’s 100 percent and ready to roll, then we’ll get him back on the field.”

Ballard led the Colts in rushing as a rookie in 2012 with 814 yards and two touchdowns. He only played in one game in 2013 before tearing his ACL in a practice the following week. His Achilles tear came during the 2014 preseason. 


Report: Jaguars looking for help at RB this offseason
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(3/2/2015) It appears Jaguars running back Toby Gerhart will have new role in 2015. 

According to NFL.com's Ian Rapoport, the Jaguars are planning to move Gerhart around on offense at H-back in addition to running back. This also means the Jaguars will be in the market for additional help at running back. 

Gerhart was plagued by injuries in 2014, which paved the way for Denard Robinson to assert himself as a potential starting running back down the road. Robinson, however, is injury prone himself, which goes back to his days as a standout quarterback in college at Michigan.

Robinson's 2014 season ended on injured reserve with a mid-foot sprain.

Gerhart's season ended with just 326 yards and a patry 3.2 yards per carry average. Robinson emerged late in the year and ran for 582 yards and held a 4.3 yards per carry average.  


Report: Titans parting ways with safety Bernard Pollard
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(3/2/2015) The Titans will release veteran safety Bernard Pollard, according to a report from The Tennessean

Pollard had previously requested for the Titans to release him. He's coming off a season that ended prematurely due to an Achilles tear in early October. He was slated to earn $3.5 million with the Titans this year if he stayed on. 

In the five games he appeared in during the 2014 season, Pollard recorded 27 tackles and one sack. 


Report: Browns looking to add another quarterback
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(3/2/2015) The Browns are not done just yet in their search for quarterback talent, according to ESPN.com. Cleveland is reportedly looking to add at least one more quarterback through the draft or free agency.

The Browns made their signing of Josh McCown to a three-year deal official last week, but appear to want another to go along with him and Johnny Manziel.


Report: Redskins will pursue Ndamukong Suh as free agent
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(3/2/2015) After the Lions chose not to use the franchise tag to retain DE Ndamukong Suh, it became more likely that he'll become an unrestricted free agent on March 10. 

When Suh hits the market, the Redskins will be interested in signing him, reported Dianna Marie Russini of DC's NBC 4, citing sources within the organization. 


Browns don't use franchise tag on Jordan Cameron
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(3/2/2015) The Browns won't use their franchise tag on any player, meaning that TE Jordan Cameron will become a free agent on March 10. 

Cameron had 24 catches for 424 yards and two touchdowns last season, at a salary of $1.431 million.


No franchise tag for Broncos' Julius Thomas
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(3/2/2015) The Broncos will not use their franchise tag on TE Julius Thomas. The team instead tagged WR Demaryius Thomas. 

Julius Thomas will be able to become a free agent on March 10. He had 43 catches for 489 yards and 12 touchdowns last year. Thomas made $645,000 salary last year. 


Report: Bills do not apply franchise tag to linebacker Jerry Hughes
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(3/2/2015) The Bills reportedly chose not to apply their franchise tag to linebacker Jerry Hughes Monday, according to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network.

Buffalo has been working on signing Hughes to a new, long term deal for the past month. The veteran linebacker racked up 10 sacks and totaled 54 tackles in all 16 games in 2014 for the Bills. 


 
 
 
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