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Into the deep for Week 3

Senior Fantasy Writer
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Every week I'll dive into some sleepers beyond what we write in our Start 'Em and Sit 'Em column to help some of you in deeper leagues. Some weeks will have more guys than others, but this should be helpful for those owners in 14- and 16-team leagues.

Quarterback

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Joe Flacco (at STL): Flacco had a difficult day in Week 2 at Tennessee with 197 passing yards, one touchdown and two interceptions, but he should rebound this week. The Rams don't have a good secondary, and they have allowed four passing touchdowns in two games against Michael Vick and Eli Manning. Flacco is capable of 250 passing yards and two touchdowns this week, and he should be a useful replacement if Michael Vick (concussion) or Tony Romo (ribs) are out.
Andy Dalton (vs. SF): It's only two weeks, but the 49ers have allowed three quarterbacks to throw five touchdowns against them with Tarvaris Jackson (two), Romo (two) and Jon Kitna (one). Look for Dalton to add to that total, and he's coming off an impressive game at Denver with 332 passing yards and two touchdowns. You're not going to start Dalton over a lot of quarterbacks this week, but this is a good matchup. If Jackson can throw for multiple touchdowns against this defense, Dalton should be able to match him.
Colt McCoy (vs. MIA): The Dolphins are banged up on defense with linebacker Karlos Dansby (groin), cornerback Vontae Davis (hamstring), safety Chris Clemons (hamstring) and defensive tackle Tony McDaniel (hand) all dealing with injuries. That's not good for a defense that has played bad so far this season. The Dolphins have allowed 747 passing yards, six touchdowns and one interception in two games. Granted, 517 yards were against Tom Brady in Week 1, but McCoy could make plays in this matchup. He could have similar production to his Week 1 outing against Cincinnati when he had 213 passing yards, two touchdowns and one interception with 11 rushing yards. That's 19 Fantasy points in a standard league, which is realistic given the matchup.

Running back

Daniel Thomas (at CLE): You know I was all in on Thomas prior to the season, and he looked great in Week 2 against Houston with 18 carries for 107 yards and a fumble in his NFL debut. This week, I expect the Dolphins to rely on Thomas again since Cleveland's run defense is a weakness. The Browns have allowed Cedric Benson and Joseph Addai to each gain 100 total yards in their two games this season, and Thomas should definitely outplay Reggie Bush this week. He is a great flex option in the majority of leagues.
Isaac Redman (at IND): The Colts run defense is among the worst in the NFL, especially with linebacker Gary Brackett (shoulder) injured. Indianapolis has already allowed four rushing touchdowns on the season against Ben Tate, Derrick Ward and Peyton Hillis (twice). Redman scored last week against Seattle, and he should get some opportunities this week once Rashard Mendenhall shreds this defense. In deeper formats you can consider Redman as a flex option.
Jonathan Stewart (vs. JAC): I have a feeling DeAngelo Williams bounces back this week against the Jaguars, but I could also see Stewart playing well. He was fantastic as a receiver in Week 2 against Green Bay with eight catches for 100 yards, and he appears to be the running back who will work near the goal line. Jacksonville's run defense has done well this year in limiting Chris Johnson (49 total yards) and Shonn Greene (49 rushing yards), but Stewart could find the end zone this week in what should be a Carolina victory.
Danny Woodhead (at BUF): Woodhead has a good history against the Bills with two touchdowns in two meetings last year, and he had 13 carries for 93 yards and three catches for 32 yards at Buffalo in December. With Aaron Hernandez (hip) out, the Patriots might feature Woodhead more in the passing game even though he has just three catches for 21 yards on the season. Keep in mind that game at Buffalo last year came with Hernandez out with a hip injury, and Woodhead was able to step up in his place.
DeMarco Murray (vs. WAS): There are two reasons to like Murray this week. He could see an increase in carries if Felix Jones (shoulder) is limited or out, and the Cowboys could also use him as a receiver with Miles Austin (hamstring) and Dez Bryant (quad) banged up. If Jones doesn't play I would expect the Cowboys to lean on Tashard Choice more than Murray as a rusher, but Dallas could be in need of playmakers this week, which is why Murray makes this list.

Wide receiver

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Chad Ochocinco (at BUF): Ochocinco has been miserable so far this year with three catches for 59 yards, but his playing time and targets should increase with Hernandez out. That's the only reason to even consider him this week is because he should see more action, and hopefully that will lead to some quality production. The Bills have done a good job in coverage so far this season, but they haven't exactly faced stellar passing attacks in Kansas City and Oakland. That should change this week against the Patriots.
Mike Sims-Walker (vs. BAL): I like what I saw from Sims-Walker in Week 2 at the Giants with six catches for 92 yards. He stepped up with Danny Amendola (elbow) out, and he should be relied upon again this week against a Ravens secondary that has struggled this year. Baltimore has already allowed two receivers to gain 100 yards with Mike Wallace in Week 1 and Kenny Britt in Week 2, and Nate Washington fell one yard short last week at 99 yards. The Ravens are dealing with injuries to their secondary with Jimmy Smith (ankle), and the Rams might be forced to throw all game. Consider Sims-Walker a solid No. 3 Fantasy option this week.
David Nelson (vs. NE): Nelson was great last week against Oakland with 10 catches for 83 yards and a touchdown, and he has 14 catches for 149 yards on the season. With Roscoe Parrish (ankle) out for the season, Nelson's chances to produce should increase, and the Patriots secondary is a mess right now. New England has allowed 29 catches for 515 yards and three touchdowns to wide receivers, with Brandon Marshall, Davone Bess and Vincent Jackson each gaining over 90 yards. Nelson can be considered a No. 2 Fantasy option in point per reception leagues.
Dexter McCluster (at SD): We'll find out this week if McCluster can help Fantasy owners replace the injured Jamaal Charles (knee), and he should get the chance for plenty of playing time with Kansas City likely chasing points. McCluster has done well as a receiver so far with 12 catches for 93 yards in two games, but his carries should increase as well. He has to hold onto the ball with two fumbles, but Fantasy owners who added McCluster can consider him as a flex option in deeper formats. And hopefully he can help replace Charles since Fantasy owners are desperate now that his season is over.
Julio Jones (at TB): At some point this guy is going to find the end zone, and it could happen this week against the Bucs. Jones played well in Week 1 at Chicago with five catches for 71 yards before being stifled last week by Philadelphia's secondary for two catches and 29 yards. The Bucs have allowed three receivers to catch at least five passes in two games with Calvin Johnson, Nate Burleson and Percy Harvin, and while Roddy White is clearly the go-to guy, I think this is the week Jones scores his first NFL touchdown. Consider him a No. 3 option in deeper formats.

Tight end

Jermaine Gresham (vs. SF): With Jordan Shipley (knee) out for the season, Gresham's value should rise as the main target over the middle for Dalton. Gresham played well in Week 1 at Cleveland with six catches for 58 yards and a touchdown before doing nothing last week at Denver with two catches for 8 yards. The 49ers just allowed Jason Witten to catch seven passes for 102 yards, and their secondary is not very good. Gresham is worth using as a starter in deeper leagues or even as a flex option in PPR formats.
Tony Scheffler (at MIN): Scheffler has been the best Fantasy tight end for the Lions so far this season with two catches for 47 yards and two touchdowns, while Brandon Pettigrew has been held to five catches for 64 yards and no scores. Pettigrew is dealing with a shoulder injury, but Scheffler also has a good history against the Vikings. In two meetings last year, Scheffler had 13 catches for 110 yards and a touchdown. And in three career matchups, Scheffler has 20 catches for 162 yards and two scores.
Greg Olsen (vs. JAC): The Jaguars were abused by Dustin Keller last week for six catches, 101 yards and a touchdown, and Olsen is looking for a rebound game after struggling last week against Green Bay. He was held to one catch for 34 yards and four targets, but I expect that to improve dramatically. Look for Olsen to score his first touchdown this season, and this should be the breakout game we've all been waiting for after drafting him as a starter.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us via Twitter @CBSFantasyFB . You can also follow Jamey at @JameyEisenberg and on Facebook .

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Player News
Earl Thomas on bad shoulder: 'I'll still play fearless'
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(8:50 pm ET) Seahawks safety Earl Thomas, who dislocated his shoulder in the NFC Championship Game, could remain limited in practice this week ahead of the Super Bowl, reports the Seattle Times. But he said he won't be thinking about the injury against the Patriots.

"When I come alive nothing is limited,’’ he said. “I’ll still play fearless, throw my body around, and let whatever happens, happens.’’

Thomas did allow that he might have to rely more on his teammates.

“My mindset is I have an opportunity to really trust my teammates,’’ he said. “This is the first game I’m going to have to trust them because of my injury. So I really, really, really trust my teammates, and that’s what I’m banking on, my teammates doing what they need to do and I need to come through myself.’’

It's unclear if Thomas will need offseason surgery.

The Seahawks are 1-point underdogs after opening as 2.5-point favorites.


Colts QB Matt Hasselbeck pondering retirement
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(8:17 pm ET) Colts backup quarterback Matt Hasselbeck told ESPN.com he's not sure if he'll retire or return for a 17th season. Hasselbeck, 39, appeared in four games this season and played well, posting a 102.6 passer rating.

He's set to hit unrestricted free agency.


Colts expected to part ways with center A.Q. Shipley
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(8:11 pm ET) Colts center A.Q. Shipley is headed for unrestricted free agency, and the team is expected to let him go, reports ESPN.com. 

"Shipley went from starting in Week 1 to losing his starting job, to being inactive, to being the third-string center," the report said. "All without any explanation from coach Chuck Pagano or anybody in the front office."

Shipley, 28, has played in 45 career games, starting 19.


Report: Dolphins aim to re-sign TE Charles Clay
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(6:57 pm ET) The Dolphins have privately indicated they want to re-sign impending free agent tight end Charles Clay and will make him an offer in coming weeks, reports the Miami Herald. Clay caught 58 passes for 605 yards and three touchdowns in 14 games this season.

Miami also is high on Clay's backup, Dion Sims, who's signed through 2016, the paper said.


Browns extremely thin -- and short -- at wide receiver
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(6:19 pm ET) With wideout Josh Gordon facing a one-year suspension, the Browns are dangerously thin at receiver entering 2015. ESPN.com notes the Browns have two returning slot receivers in Andrew Hawkins and Taylor Gabriel and "an undersized situational receiver" in 5-10 Travis Benjamin.

Miles Austin is scheduled for unrestricted free agency after catching 47 passes for 568 yards and two touchdowns in 12 games. Tight end Jordan Cameron also is set to be an unrestricted free agent.

Hawkins, a 5-7, 180-pounder, led the team with 63 grabs for 824 yards, with two touchdowns. Cleveland failed to add a wideout in last year's draft but almost certainly must address the position in the 2015 draft.


Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas to practice this week
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(5:43 pm ET) Seahawks coach Pete Carroll told SiriusXM NFL Radio that cornerback Richard Sherman (elbow) and safety Earl Thomas (shoulder) will practice this week and should be "good to go" for the Super Bowl. Both got hurt in the NFC Championship Game.

Seattle is a 1-point underdog to the Patriots after opening as a 2.5-point favorite.


New optimism regarding Justin Blackmon's potential return
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(4:48 pm ET) A lot of people inside the NFL are optimistic Jaguars receiver Justin Blackmon is "overcoming his issues" and will be back in the league in 2015, reports Fox Sports. Blackmon got suspended in November 2013 following his third violation of the league's substance-abuse policy.

He checked into a treatment facility last September. General manager Dave Caldwell said recently he hopes Blackmon wins reinstatement, but is not counting on it.


Reports: Josh Gordon tests positive again, facing 1-year ban
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(3:55 pm ET) Browns wideout Josh Gordon tested positive for alcohol and "now will be subject to a one-year banishment," sources told ESPN's Adam Schefter. Gordon was suspended for the first 10 games this season for a repeat violation of the league's drug policy.

Pro Football Talk reports that because of Gordon's past DUI, alcohol was one of the substances for which he was being tested. The website said a one-year suspension is likely a "done deal."

The Browns also suspended Gordon for missing a Saturday walkthrough before the regular-season finale, and CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora reported then the Browns might be ready to part ways with the ultra-talented 23-year-old.

The Browns released the following statement regarding the news: 

"Clearly we are very disappointed to hear the latest report regarding Josh. At this point, due to the confidential nature of the NFL’s substance abuse policy, we have not been made aware by the league of a failed test. We are in the process of gathering more information and will provide further comment at the appropriate time."


Report: Jordan Cameron expected to leave via free agency
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(3:14 pm ET) Browns tight end Jordan Cameron is set to become an unrestricted free agent, and ESPNCleveland.com does not expect him to re-sign with Cleveland. A concussion and shoulder injury limited Cameron to 10 games this season.

The 26-year-old caught 24 passes for 424 yards and two touchdowns after a breakout 2013 season in which he made 80 grabs for 917 yards and seven scores.


Pats C Bryan Stork showing 'no noticeable signs of injury'
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(1:53 pm ET) Patriots starting center Bryan Stork, who missed the AFC title game with a knee injury, practiced Sunday and "continues to show no noticeable signs of injury," reports ESPN.com. The rookie is on track to play in the Super Bowl.

New England is a 1-point favorite over Seattle after opening as a 2.5-point underdog.


 
 
 
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