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Starting Points for Week 3

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One thing is clear as Week 3 approaches, Matthew Stafford and Cam Newton are for real! The two young quarterbacks continued to light up the scoreboard for your teams and both look like every-week starts. For other people you are on the fence about, see below and good luck in Week 3.

Quarterbacks

Get 'em active ...

For more from Nathan check out his website at thefantasyconsultant.com

Rex Grossman (at Dallas) – The Rexclamation point is off to a fast start in 2011 with 290-plus yards and two scores in each of his first two starts. For his five career starts under Mike Shanahan with the Washington Redskins, Grossman is averaging 290 yards passing with two scores per game. In three of those five games, he has topped 300 yards with multiple scores and he has been over 290 yards with two scores in four out of five. I have been sticking with him so far and I see no reason to change this week when the Redskins travel to Dallas to take on the very generous Cowboys pass defense.

So far, the Boys have battled injuries in their secondary and have allowed the aerial assassins Mark Sanchez and Alex Smith (who did not have Michael Crabtree or Braylon Edwards for most of his game) to combine for 514 yards and four touchdowns against them in the first two weeks of the season. Dallas has now given up 37 passing scores in its last 18 games and Grossman could take that number to 40 in 19. For the third straight week, Grossman finds his way into my top 12 at quarterback and I expect another solid game from the underappreciated King Rex. (Projection Snapshot: 288 yards passing and two TDs)

Ride the pine ...

Jay Cutler (vs. Green Bay) – Blitzing defenses can wreak havoc on the Chicago Bears passing game and we saw that very clearly in Week 2 against the New Orleans Saints. The Saints took advantage of an overmatched offensive line, which will be without first-round pick Gabe Carimi in Week 3, and sacked Cutler six times. He was rushed all day long and completed only 19 of his 45 passes, with 10 of those completions going to running back Matt Forte. Now he will face another pressure-happy team in the Green Bay Packers, a team that Cutler has struggled mightily against of late. In their last five meetings, the Packers have picked off Cutler 10 times and have given up only four passing scores. Cutler has been held to an average of 191 yards and 0.8 touchdowns to go with two picks per game during that span and he was knocked out early the last time these two teams faced each other -- in the 2010 NFC Championship. Green Bay has struggled in the early goings this season, but the Packers know these Bears very well and I expect their best defensive performance yet. With the emergence of so many productive Fantasy quarterbacks like Rex Grossman, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Cam Newton, there is no need to risk starting Cutler (and I am also putting Eli Manning in this category for Week 3) in a less-than-favorable matchup, so I would keep him benched in Week 3. (Projection Snapshot: 218 yards passing and one TD with two interceptions)

Running Backs

Get 'em active ...

Ryan Mathews (vs. Kansas City) -- I have long been a believer in Ryan Mathews and it sure looks like 2011 will be his breakout season. He has topped 110 total yards in each of the Chargers first two games and should make it three in a row against the reeling Kansas City Chiefs in Week 3. The Chiefs are struggling mightily and have given up 126 yards per game on the ground so far, eighth most after two weeks. They have also allowed three rushing scores and four total running back scores, both tied for second most in the NFL. Mathews himself is averaging 122 total yards per game and has been far more efficient with his touches than Mike Tolbert.

Mathews is averaging 4.5 yards per carry compared to 2.1 for Tolbert and Mathews is in the top three at running back with his 13.5 yards per catch average, 9.6 yards per target average and 135 yards receiving. To make it crystal clear, Mathews has touched the ball 34 times for 244 yards (7.2 yards per touch), while Tolbert has 38 touches for 176 yards (4.6 yards per touch) and just lost a fumble. I love that Mathews continues to prove he can score from deep and he has more rushing scores of 5 or more yards than any back in the NFL over the last 18 games. Norv Turner has been heaping praise on his second-year rusher and look for Mathews to do better than the 71 total yards and a score he had in his last meeting with KC. For the record, I do also love Mike Tolbert this week and he should be started in all formats as well. (Projection Snapshot: 87 yards rushing, one TD; 41 yards receiving)

BenJarvus Green-Ellis (at Buffalo) – Green-Ellis is off to a great start with scores in each of his first two games and I expect him to make it a hat trick in Week 3 against the Buffalo Bills. The Bills were 2010’s worst run defense, giving up 170 yards and 1.1 touchdowns per game and they are not doing much better in 2011. So far, the Bills are giving up 119.5 yards and 1.5 scores per game on the ground at five yards per carry, which is not great considering Kansas City did not even try to run in Week 1. Last week, the Oakland Raiders ran for 131 yards and three touchdowns against the Bills and Green-Ellis will find the end zone as well. With Aaron Hernandez out, the Patriots may go to a more traditional offense and pound the ball with their big bruiser. Last year, Green-Ellis posted a 100 percent consistency rate against the Bills with 98 yards and a score in the first meeting and 107 yards on 19 carries in the second game. Look for another solid double-digit day from Green-Ellis who has multiple score potential against the Bills. (Projection Snapshot: 80 yards rushing, one TD; 8 yards receiving)

Ride the pine ...

DeAngelo Williams (vs. Jacksonville) – The Carolina Panthers are the Cam Newton Show in 2011 and they no longer just turn around and hand the ball off to DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart. As a result, Williams has been a huge bust this year and that will continue in Week 2 against the Jacksonville Jaguars, even though it sounds like a favorable matchup at first glance. First of all, in two games that have seen the Panthers put up well over 800 yards of total offense, Williams has touched the ball 22 times for a whopping 72 total yards. He had just five carries for 13 yards last week. Even more disconcerting are the following stats. In his last 13 games, Williams has topped 100 yards or scored only twice. He also has been held under 70 yards rushing and without a score in eight of his last nine games. Finally, Williams does not have a single opportunity in the red zone after two weeks.

That is not good for his Fantasy owners and this Jacksonville team may be a surprisingly good run defense, which further compounds the problem. Yes, the Jags faced a less-than-ready Chris Johnson in Week 1, but last week they were getting destroyed by the Jets and still did not yield anything on the ground. They held Shonn Greene to 49 yards on 16 carries and limited LaDainian Tomlinson to eight yards on six carries. For the year, the Jags are giving up only 72 yards per game (fifth fewest) on only 3.2 yards per carry. It sounds like Williams will need to become a better pass catcher in order to succeed this year, but he has not had a receiving game of 31 yards since October 2009. Add in the fact that Jonathan Stewart just caught eight passes for 100 yards in Week 2 and I am struggling to find anything positive to say about Williams’ current role or his potential production in the near future. Hopefully you have a better option, because you need to sit Williams down in Week 3. (Projection Snapshot: 47 yards rushing)

Cedric Benson (vs. San Francisco) – As ugly as the San Francisco 49ers have been running the ball this year, their defense has been even better stopping it. After finishing in the top eight in every major category against the run a year ago, including yards per game, yards per carry and touchdowns allowed, the Niners are the best run defense in the league after two weeks. So far, the 49ers are allowing a league low 54.5 yards per game, on a league low 2.5 yards per carry, and they have yet to allow a rushing touchdown. The 49ers also boast the league’s longest streak of not allowing a 100-yard rusher, which is now at an impressive 24 games. That spells a tough day for Cedric Benson, who does not offer much as a pass catcher and who will need a touchdown to have a solid Fantasy day. Given that the Niners have not allowed a back to reach 50 yards in four straight and have given up only one rushing score during that span, means the odds are not in Benson’s favor this Sunday. Yes, he will get the ball a lot, but the results will not be pretty and I would keep Ced on the bench. (Projection Snapshot: 63 yards rushing)

Wide Receivers

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Get 'em active ...

A.J. Green (vs. San Francisco) – Green certainly showed me something last week as he was the focal point of the Bengals’ passing game against the Denver Broncos. He saw a team high 14 targets and caught 10 passes for 124 yards and a touchdown in that game while fully displaying the ball skills and body control that will make him an elite receiver for many years. Now he gets to face a 49ers team that can stop the run, but can’t stop the pass.

As noted above, the 49ers are No. 1 against the run, but against the pass they are, to quote Charles Barkley, “turrible.” So far San Francisco is allowing 315 yards and 2.5 passing touchdowns per game and those numbers include one game against Tarvaris Jackson. Green should have a field day against the Niners, who just allowed “Stone Cold” Miles Austin to catch nine passes for 143 yards and not one, not two, but three touchdowns. Look for the Bengals to air it out again this week like they did against Denver and I think Green makes for a great third wide receiver for your teams this week. (Projection Snapshot; 83 yards receiving, one TD)

Nate Washington (vs. Denver)Nate Washington is off to a great start in 2011 with 13 catches (tied for 10th) for 166 yards through the first two weeks. He has at least six catches in every game and seems to have already developed a great rapport with Matt Hasselbeck. Washington is catching a career best 72.2 percent of his targets and is averaging a very healthy 9.2 yards per target. With Kenny Britt playing at a ridiculously high level, Washington will have a lot of favorable matchups against single coverage. He had seven catches for 99 yards last week and could best that in Week 3 against the Denver Broncos. The Broncos just gave up 332 yards and two scores to Andy Dalton and the Bengals, who saw their top two receivers both top 100 yards in the game. Look for another strong game from Washington, who is a great third receiver for your teams this week. (Projection Snapshot; 73 yards receiving, one TD)

Ride the pine ...

Eric Decker (at Tennessee) – Decker was a waiver wire wonder this week after his excellent game in Week 2 that saw him grab five of his nine targets for 132 yards and two touchdowns against the Cincinnati Bengals. That production was very impressive, but it happened with Brandon Lloyd out of the lineup and Lloyd is expected back in Week 3. Decker will be starting alongside Lloyd this week with Eddie Royal out due to injury, but even if Decker was the top option for the Denver Broncos I would still sit him against the Tennessee Titans.

Through two games, the Titans are allowing just 186 yards passing per game, third best, and they have given up a league low one passing score. The Titans are also the only team that has yet to allow a touchdown to an opposing receiver and opposing quarterbacks have a 68.5 rating against them, third lowest. I think Decker is going to be a nice sleeper and a spot starter for your teams, but this week I would keep him benched even if he is your new waiver wire acquisition. For the record, I also do not like Dwayne Bowe one bit this week either against the San Diego Chargers. (Projection Snapshot: 46 yards receiving)

Tight Ends

Get 'em active ...

Dustin Keller (at Oakland)Dustin Keller has been Fantasy gold in the first two weeks of the season, posting a 100 percent big game rate as he has topped 60 yards with a score in each game and is coming off of a 101-yard, one-touchdown performance against the Jacksonville Jaguars. This week he will face an Oakland Raiders secondary that gave up a touchdown to Scott Chandler and has allowed 284 yards and two scores passing per game thus far. With Plaxico Burress in the mix, the middle of the field has been more open than ever for Keller, who is putting up great metrics.

So far, he has caught 79 percent of his targets and is averaging a ridiculous 11.5 yards per target. He is becoming a go-to guy for Mark Sanchez and has seen 14 targets through two weeks, tied for fifth among all tight ends. Keller looks ready for a breakout season and if he continues to be effective both between the 20s and in the red zone (he already has two red zone scores on five targets), he will be a top eight Fantasy tight end. Keep Keller in your lineups this week and expect more solid production. (Projection Snapshot: 67 yards receiving, one TD)

Good luck this week, do the stay healthy dance for your players and enjoy the games!

Glossary
Target Conversion Rate or Catch Rate (TCR): The percentage of a player's targets (passes thrown to them) that are converted into receptions. Over 60 percent is excellent, 66 percent is elite and under 52.5 percent is worrisome.
Yards per Target (YPT): A player's receiving yards divided by his targets. In other words, the numbers of yards a team gains on average every time they attempt a pass to a certain player. Over 10 is exceptional, over 8 is solid and 6 or lower is horrendous.
Red Zone Opportunities: A player's total number of pass+rush+targets inside the opponent's 20 yard line
Red Zone TD Rate: The percentage of a player's Red Zone opportunities that result in a TD
Goal Line Opportunities: A player's total number of pass+rush+targets inside the opponent's 5 yard line
Goal Line TD Rate: The percentage of a player's Goal Line opportunities that result in a TD
Consistency Rate: The percentage of quality starts a player gives you out of 16 games. For QBs that is a game with 300+ yards passing OR multiple TDs. For RBs/WRs: A game with 100+ yards rush/rec or a game with a TD. For TEs: A game with 60+ yards receiving or a TD. For a Kicker: A game with multiple FGs.
Big Game Rate: The percentage of dominant starts a player gives you out of 16 games (games missed with injury count as a bad game since they do not help your Fantasy teams). For a QB that is a game with 300+ yards and 2+ TDs or 200+ yards and 3+ TDs. For a RB/WR that is a game with 100+ combined rush/rec yards and a TD or a game with multiple TDs. For a TE that is a game of 60+ yards and a TD, 100+ yards or a game with multiple TDs.

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

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Player News
Report: Cardinals' Daryl Washington unsure of NFL standing
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(5/22/2015) Cardinals linebacker Daryl Washington is approaching the one-year mark for his suspension though his NFL status is still in limbo. 

But according to a report from FOX Sports 910 in Phoenix, Washington is unsure about his status with the league. He was suspended a year ago on May 30, 2014 for being a multiple offender of the NFL's substance-abuse policy. 

However, he was expected to apply for reinstatement a month ago but did not do so. 

Assuming Washington is reinstated to the NFL at some point he will likely be subjected to punishment under the NFL's domestic violence policy. On March 24, 2014, he pleaded guilty to assaulting his ex-girlfriend. 


Titans' Massaquoi rehabbing shoulder, to miss OTA's
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(5/22/2015) Outside linebacker Jonathan Massaquoi will not participate in the Titans' first organized team activities, per ESPN.com.

Massaquoi, who was claimed off waivers from the Falcons earlier this year, is recovering from shoulder surgery. He had a bone spur removed from the area, but the procedure was categorized as a minor cleanup.

Massaquoi recorded 22 tackles in 15 games with Atlanta last season.


Entering third season, 49ers' Lawrence Okoye eyeing roster spot
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(5/22/2015) This might finally be the year Lawrence Okoye can crack a spot on the 49ers' roster, per the Bay Area News Group.

Okoye, a former British Olympics discus thrower and rugby player, is feeling confident about his improvements and feels like his potential is worth a roster spot.

“It’s very different from the first time I came here. I’m feeling very good about things,” Okoye said Thursday while sitting at his locker. “I’m just happy I was given the opportunity to stay here so long, so I could catch up. I have a good opportunity to show what I can do.”

Okoye has worked under new head coach Jim Tomsula for two years and with Justin Smith's retirement, his emergence might be rewarded.

“You’re going to get lots of people telling you things. But the main thing is to just keep yourself motivated, despite what people say about you," Okoye said. "People will write you off. People will say this or that. Just keep yourself motivated, keep going every day and you’ll be good.”

 


Bengals' Terrelle Pryor still dreams about winning it all
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(5/22/2015) Terrelle Pryor's chances of taking the Bengals to the Super Bowl and winning it are slim, but that won’t stop him from dreaming.

Pryor -- in his fourth year in the league -- dreams about winning the Super Bowl with quite some frequency, he just isn't sure what team he's doing it with.

“I don’t know the team. It’s always in black uniforms,” Pryor said. “I didn’t see any orange. No, it’s not the Raiders. But I believe it can happen because I can visualize it like that. I’m into visualization.”

Pryor hasn't played a down since the 2013 regular season, when he passed for 1,798 yards, seven touchdowns and 11 interceptions in 11 games.


Flowers' college position coach thinks he can fill in for injured Beatty
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(5/22/2015) Things are moving really fast for Giants offensive lineman Ereck Flowers. The eighth overall pick in the draft, because of an injury to Will Beatty, might have inherited a huge workload this season, per nj.com.

Art Kehoe, Flowers' offensive line coach at the University of Miami, thinks Flowers will be up to the task of protecting quarterback Eli Manning.

"I'm sure he raised his level up a notch or two, but I think he plays every week, I think he plays hard in practice," Kehoe said. "He's an unproven commodity at the next level, and he's a high draft pick, [the Giants] drafted him to be a fixer, so I'm sure he's going in there to do what he did in Miami — scrap his ass off every day in practice, and if you're supposed to be a badass the next weekend [against] your opponent, he's gonna be there and he's gonna bring everything he's got. That's what he does. He wants to know that there's a dude, and he has to take care of him, and he'll be up to the challenge.

Giants' 2013 first-round pick, Justin Pugh is also a top candidate to fill in for the injured Beatty.


Union: Goodell must back off hearing of Patriots QB Tom Brady
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(5/22/2015) NFLPA head DeMaurice Smith is growing impatient awaiting word from Roger Goodell on the request of the NFL commissioner to recuse himself as arbitrator of the appeal hearings ofPatriots quarterback Tom Brady.

The league suspended Brady for the first four games next season for his alleged role in the Deflategate scandal, claiming that he likely knew that game balls were being deflated for his benefit before the 2014 AFC title game.

Smith is claiming that neither Goodell nor the Wells Report, which investigated the incident, could legitimately claim impartiality. He added that the NFLPA will "advance the volume" of the request if they don't hear from Goodell by next week. Part of the union's press release reads as follows:

Given a process that has contained procedural violations of our collective bargaining agreement, the Commissioner's role as a central witness in the appeal hearing and his evident partiality with respect to the Wells report, the Commissioner must designate a neutral party to serve as arbitrator in this matter. The players also believe that the Commissioner's history of inconsistently issuing discipline against our players makes him ill-suited to hear this appeal in a fair-minded manner.

As for the Wells Report, Smith stated that "you can't really have credibility just because you slap the word independent on a piece of paper." He offered into evidence the findings in regard to NFL official Walt Anderson, who was a key figure in the investigation, citing one part of the report questions his memory and another credits it.


Zimmer happy with progress of Vikings WR Cordarrelle Patterson
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(5/22/2015) Mike Zimmer has expressed optimism that underachieving Vikings wideout Cordarrelle Patterson is gaining a better understanding of route-running and the nuances of playing the position in the NFL, which would allow his talent to result in greater productivity.

Patterson took a step back in 2014 after a mediocre rookie year. He played in every game, but managed just 33 receptions for 384 yards and one touchdown. He has since stated that 2015 is his make-or-break year and is apparently acting like it in the offseason.

"He's done real well," Zimmer told Fox Sports North. "He's running routes good. He's working hard. So we just need him to continue to do those things and continue to keep getting consistent and keep improving. I've been impressed."


GM: Dolphins LT Branden Albert should be fine for Week 1
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(5/22/2015) Dolphins general manager Dennis Hickey has expressed optimism that left tackle Branden Albert will be ready to roll by the regular season opener.

Albert has been rehabbing from a torn ACL and MCL sustained last November against Detroit. He had signed a five-year, $46 million contract the previous March and had been performing particularly well before going down.

"It's been a long rehab and he's really attacked it every day," Hickey told SiriusXM NFL Radio, adding that there was a "reasonable explanation" that he would be ready for Week 1. "We really like his progress. He's out there with his team working out. We're really encouraged by what we're seeing with him."

Ja'Wuan Williams was forced to move to left tackle following the Albert injury in 2014. But he struggled at that position and is expected to move to his more familiar right tackle spot this year.


Report: Bills still want to extend Marcell Dareus
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(5/22/2015) The Bills still want to extend the contract of defensive tackle Marcell Dareus, according to a report by NFL Network's Ian Rapoport

Despite the one-game suspension levied by the league against Dareus on Thursday, the team still hopes to have an extension wrapped up before the start of training camp. 

2015 is scheduled to be the last season of Dareus' current contract. He'll make $8.06 million.


Shanahan: Struggles of Robert Griffin III unrelated to injury
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(5/22/2015) Former Redskins coach Mike Shanahan does not believe injuries have prevented quarterback Robert Griffin III from maximizing his potential in the NFL. Rather, he feels it was the team not creating an offensive system that best fits his talents and his own belief that he could play a traditional role at that position.

Griffin sustained a serious knee injury in the 2012 playoffs. He then struggled in 2013 in an offense designed to transform him into a drop-back quarterback rather than one that took advantage of his mobility. He suffered another knee injury last year and did not perform well in the offense of new coach Jay Gruden.

"I don't think getting hurt has anything to do with it," Shanahan told 106.7 The Fan. "In college he didn't have a route tree, didn't have a playbook. That does take some time. ... If you take a quarterback like that you must run the kind of system that allows him to be successful. ... I really believe Robert thought he was more of a drop-back quarterback. He hasn't done things the NFL asks you to do. It does take some growing pains. You better really work on it inside and out."

Some have wondered why the Redskins went so hard after Griffin if they weren't willing to create an offense that maximizes his skill set.


 
 
 
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