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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
WR Andre Johnson: I didn't join Colts for revenge against Texans
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(4/18/2015) Perennial Pro Bowl wideout Andre Johnson insists that he did not sign as a free agent with the Colts with two matchups against his old Texans team in mind. He claims the move was because Indianapolis, led by quarterback Andrew Luck, gives him the best chance to win.

Johnson was surprisingly released by Houston, but revenge was not part of his game plan.

"(Leaving the Texans) hasn't even really set in," he told the Houston Chronicle. "I was just talking about that with someone (Thursday). Everybody thinks that I went to the Colts to try and get back at the Texans and stuff like that. That had nothing to do with it. I just went to the ... place where I felt was the best fit for me and where I can have a chance to win a championship.

"It wasn't about circling (game) dates or nothing against the Texans. I had 12 great years here. Been around some great people, built some great relationships, a lot of great friends. Houston's always going to be my home."

Johnson remained productive in 2014, but his yards-per-catch average declined to 11.0, its lowest since 2005.


Report: Jaguars restructure contract of Marcedes Lewis
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(4/18/2015) The Jaguars restructured the contract of tight end Marcedes Lewis, according to a report by Jacksonville.com.

Lewis did not receive an extension. This year will be the last year of his contract. The restructuring should reduce his cap number, which is currently $8.2 million. 


Jaguars sign Stefen Wisniewski
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(4/18/2015) The Jaguars announced the signing of free agent center Stefen Wisniewski on Saturday. 

Wisniewski reportedly signed a one-year contract for $2.5 million, per Jacksonville.com.

"We had the opportunity to spend time with Stefen earlier this month and remained in contact with him with the hopes of getting a deal done," GM David Caldwell said. "We are excited to get him on board before we officially start our offseason conditioning program next week. He gives us great position flexibility along our offensive line as he has started at both center and guard during his career. He has a familiarity with our offensive system and brings a lot of experience to our offensive line room."


49ers looking to extend Michael Wilhoite
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(4/17/2015) After the unexpected retirements of two linebackers, the 49ers are looking to lock up Michael Wilhoite to a contract extension. 

Wilhoite is an exclusive rights free agent, but GM Trent Baalke told the media he hopes to negotiate a long-term deal. 

"We’re working on something with him as we speak … He’s kind of in a unique situation. He was kind of caught in a numbers deal," Baalke said, per SFGate.com.


DeMeco Ryans likes improved Eagles' defense
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(4/17/2015) Eagles linebacker DeMeco Ryans likes the changes that the team has made to its defense in the offseason.

"We got better on the outside, which we struggled at last year,” Ryans said, per ESPN. “We had a lot of struggles there on the outside at the corner position, so I feel we've upgraded there with (Byron) Maxwell , a guy that you've seen make a lot of plays for the Seahawks. A guy like Kiko (Alonso), who his rookie year was a really outstanding player, up for defensive rookie of the year, a playmaker all over the field, and another guy in (Walter) Thurmond , who is expected to definitely push guys to be the starting corner on the other side. So I feel like we upgraded at a lot of positions, and I feel like it's really going to improve our defense."


Kubiak: Time for Broncos' backup Brock Osweiler to step up
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(4/17/2015) Broncos quarterback Brock Osweiler hasn't had much playing time, as Peyton Manning's backup, but coach Gary Kubiak wants to see progress from him.

"I think it's time for Brock to take a big step as a player," Kubiak said, per NFL.com. "A lot of times in this league, the young quarterbacks don't get the opportunity to be behind a player of Peyton's status and learn before they get the opportunity in this league ... I think Brock needs to take advantage of this. But he's going to be very competitive. I'm very impressed with his skills. I'm very impressed with how hard he works in the classroom. I know he's got all of the ability."


Kubiak: Broncos will run no-huddle with Peyton Manning
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(4/17/2015) Gary Kubiak said he plans to take advantage of future Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning when designing the Broncos' offense for next season. 

We'll definitely be running the hurry-up offense," Kubiak said per NFL.com. "Peyton's been the best at the business at it for many years, so that's a strength that we'll stay with."

That doesn't mean everything will be the same for Manning. Kubiak said he planned on having Manning under center more than in recent seasons. 


Steelers claim LS Brandon Hartson off waivers
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(4/17/2015) The Steelers announced on Friday that they claimed long snapper Brandon Hartson off of waivers. 

Hartson was waived by the Chiefs on Thursday. 


S Chris Banjo signs EFA tender with Packers
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(4/17/2015) Packers safety Chris Banjo signed his exclusive-rights tender on Friday, according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

The tender is good for one year and is worth $585,000 for the 2015 season. 


Trent Baalke praises 49ers LB Aldon Smith's offseason work ethic
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(4/17/2015) 49ers linebacker Aldon Smith has had plenty of off-field issues since entering the NFL.

After serving a nine-game suspension a year ago for violating the NFL's personal-conduct and substance-abuse policy, Smith returned and only tallied two sacks. 

The time off followed by sub-par performances has ignited Smith on the practice field thus far, according to general manager Trent Baalke. 

"He’s probably in as good a shape as he’s been in a long time," Baalke said, via the San Jose Mercury News. "He’s starting to develop into a leader out there, which is good to see and been a pleasure to watch."

Baalke knows that Smith has an uphill climb in repairing his image. But while Smith attempts to do so, Baalke wanted the San Francisco media to know that Smith is doing what he can to improve ont he playing field. 

“He’s got a great look in his eye,” Baalke said. “He’s doing well. I look forward to having you guys visit with him.”


 
 
 
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