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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
Eagles' Chris Polk gets first-team reps in practice
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(12/17/2014) Eagles running back Chris Polk received first-team reps in practice on Wednesday, according to CSNPhilly.com.

Polk opened practice with the starters and ran a couple of plays. LeSean McCoy watched the plays from the sideline. Following practice, McCoy stressed that it wasn't a big deal. "We rotate all the time," he said. "[Running back coach Duce Staley] pulled me out. [Darren] Sproles wasn't in either." Polk is coming off a three touchdown performance in Week 15. It's possible he could find his way into more playing time given the practice situation. 


Seahawks without three offensive lineman on Wednesday
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(12/17/2014) The Seahawks did not have three of their offensive linemen at practice on Wednesday, according to ESPN.

Max Unger, Russell Okung and J.R. Sweezy were all held out. Unger has missed the past four games due to an ankle and knee issue. He was able to practice last Friday, but did not play on Sunday. Okung is dealing with a bruised lung, but there's a chance he'll recover in time for Sunday's game. "[Okung is] going to have some stuff done [Thursday] that will let us know where he sits and all that," head coach Pete Carrol said. "He’s not out of the plan yet."

Sweezy is dealing with an ankle injury. His appearance on the injury report comes as somewhat of a surprise. 


Lions pick up CB Josh Thomas
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(12/17/2014) The Lions have claimed cornerback Josh Thomas on waivers, according to the New York Post

Thomas was cut by the Jets on Tuesday, but found a new job quickly. He's played in three games this season, registering two tackles. 


Seahawks' Marshawn Lynch sits out on Wednesday
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(12/17/2014) Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch did not practice on Wednesday.

Lynch has been using Wednesday as a veteran's day all season, so the move isn't a big surprise. He's been battling a back injury throughout most of the season, but has been able to play through it. Lynch has 1133 rushing yards, with 10 touchdowns, this year. 


Texans' DeAndre Hopkins unable to practice on Wednesday
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(12/17/2014) Texans wideout DeAndre Hopkins did not practice on Wednesday.

Hopkins is dealing with an ankle injury, and was unable to go. Hopkins has played in all 14 games this season. He has 1167 yards on 69 receptions. Hopkins has caught six touchdowns. His status will likely be determined based on how much he is able to practice on Thursday and Friday. 


49ers WR Michael Crabtree misses practice Wednesday
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(12/17/2014) 49ers wideout Michael Crabtree did not practice Wednesday due to a knee injury, reports CSNBayArea.com. Crabtree, who has not cleared 60 receiving yards since Week 11, isn't believed to be seriously hurt.

He's scheduled to play the Chargers on Saturday night. If Crabtree can't go, it could mean increased targets for fellow starter Anquan Boldin.


Raiders QB Derek Carr limited by thumb injury
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(12/17/2014) Raiders quarterback Derek Carr was limited in Wednesday's practice with a thumb injury, but coach Tony Sparano isn't too concerned, reports CSNBayArea.com. Carr has thrown one or zero touchdown passes in four of his past five games entering Sunday's contest against Buffalo.

Report: Jay Cutler to be benched Week 16
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(12/17/2014) The Bears will bench starting quarterback Jay Cutler Week 16 against the Lions, according to ESPN.

The move comes as a big surprise given the seven-year, $126 million contract Cutler signed in January. Cutler has had a big problem with turnovers this season, throwing 18 interceptions and fumbling 12 times. The move could mark the end of Cutler's season as the starter, and puts his future in Chicago in jeopardy. 

The team will turn to Jimmy Clausen to replace Cutler.


Texans RB Arian Foster held out Wednesday
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(12/17/2014) Texans running back Arian Foster did not practice Wednesday with what the team called a hip injury. Foster was listed on the injury report last week with a groin injury, then racked up 117 yards from scrimmage on 29 touches at Indy.

Foster, who might just be getting a veteran's rest day, is expected to start Sunday against the Ravens. Houston is a 5.5-point underdog at Caesars Palace Race and Sports Book.


Report: Bears to start Jimmy Clausen Week 16
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(12/17/2014) The Bears will start Jimmy Clausen Week 16 against the Lions, according to ESPN.

The move comes as a major surprise. While Jay Cutler has faced scrutiny for his body language and demeanor, the team handed him a seven-year, $126 million contract last season. The move seems to indicate that Cutler is done for the season, and puts his career with the Bears in jeopardy.

Clausen has seen time in three games this season, completing three passes in nine attempts. His last start came back in 2010, his rookie season. That year, Clausen threw for 1,558 yards, with three touchdowns against nine interceptions. 

The Lions are currently 7-point favorites, according to VegasInsider.com.


 
 
 
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