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Week 4 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 early-season Fantasy stud should owners sell high?
Dave Richard Yes, the Cam Newton show has been a trip to watch, but coaches now have three weeks of film on him. His strengths and weaknesses have been exposed. If you take away the easy deep ball, Newton's a lot easier to stop. Last week against Jacksonville, Newton left a ton of stats on the field when he overthrew receivers. He was forced to go short with a lot of his passes and nothing he threw went for more than 18 yards. The Bears and their Cover-2 scheme are up next for Newton, and they'll only expose him some more (Chicago has typically done well against mobile passers). No one drafted Newton as a starter, so the time is right to cash him in for help elsewhere on your roster.
Jamey Eisenberg Ryan Mathews is finally showing the talent we all know he has. Through three games, Mathews has 207 rushing yards and three touchdowns and 14 catches for 186 yards. He is starting to outplay Mike Tolbert, and I hope that continues. But Mathews still has to prove he can be durable enough to handle increased touches since last year he dealt with hamstring and ankle injuries and missed four games. And it's not like Tolbert is going away, and he will remain a factor in the passing game and also near the goal line. Now is the time to trade Mathews, and I've gotten e-mails about Mathews for Chris Johnson or Mathews for Arian Foster. I would make those deals just in case Mathews starts to falter, while Johnson and Foster still have the chance to live up to preseason expectations.
Nathan Zegura Mike Tolbert is off to a great start, ranking 13th in standard leagues and ninth in point-per-reception leagues among running backs after the first three weeks of the season. He will not be in the top 20 for long, however, and you would be wise to cite those stats and sell high while you still can. Ryan Mathews is taking over because he has been better than Tolbert in every imaginable category this year: yards per carry (4.6 to 2.6), yards per catch (13.3 to 7.8), yards per target (10.3 to 6.7), plays of 20 plus yards (four to two), red zone touchdown rate (50 percent to 18.8 percent) and goal line touchdown rate (67 percent to 20 percent). Add in the fact that Mathews has topped 110 total yards per game in all three games, scored two goal line rushing touchdowns in Week 3 and has seen his total touches and yards increase every week, while Tolbert has seen his fall every week and the picture is clear. Mathews is the better back and has the chance to really breakout while Tolbert fades into the background in 2011.
Which player off to a slow start is most likely to rebound?
Dave Richard I don't see why Santonio Holmes is getting the cold shoulder from Mark Sanchez. I'd be stunned if it was intentional. Holmes had two out of 47 passes thrown his way against the Raiders last week, a ridiculous total. Look, the guy's a quality player; if he wasn't then the Jets wouldn't have paid him. I would find the disgruntled Holmes owner in your league and offer him as little as possible. With the Jets' run game an enigma and Sanchez playing out of his mind, it's only a matter of time before Holmes flies for Gang Green again. And of course, if you have Holmes, just exercise some patience. Heck, he might strike big against the Ravens this week -- an opponent he's typically done well against.
Jamey Eisenberg Fantasy owners in all leagues should target Chris Johnson now because he is going to close the season like the running back we all expect him to be. It's only a matter of time since he's still getting his legs back and learning the new offensive system following his holdout. He has a favorable matchup in Week 4 at Cleveland, and hopefully this game jumpstarts his season. And after his bye in Week 6, the Titans face several favorable opponents in Houston, Indianapolis, Cincinnati, Carolina, Atlanta, Tampa Bay and Buffalo. He is struggling now with just 98 rushing yards and 13 catches for 91 yards, but he will turn things around once he gets comfortable and the schedule turns in his favor. You might be able to get Johnson relatively cheap since many of his owners are beyond frustrated, and rightfully so. But that's definitely going to change.
Nathan Zegura Rashard Mendenhall has been brutal to his Fantasy owners to start 2011, with just 169 total yards and a score after three games. He is averaging just 3.0 yards per carry on the year and has not reached 60 yards in a single game. His offensive line has really struggled to open up holes for him and as a result, his numbers are suffering. Mendenhall is struggling to score -- which has been his strength -- and has just a 10 percent red zone touchdown rate and a 20 percent goal line touchdown rate, both bottom three at the position. The good news is that Mendenhall is getting plenty of chances to score, as he is Top 11 in red zone chances and Top 2 in goal line chances, so the touchdowns will come. Also, Mendenhall has one of the easiest remaining schedules with Cincinnati twice, Cleveland twice, St. Louis and Kansas City in the final seven games alone. The Steelers will figure their ground game out and Mendenhall will return to being a reliable starter for your teams.
Start or sit Ben Roethlisberger at Houston?
Dave Richard I like turnovers for dessert, not on my Fantasy team. Ben Roethlisberger has nearly three times as many turnovers (eight) as he does touchdowns (three). Maybe you don't get penalized for giveaways but either way he's not playing to expectations. Many of his passes sailed on him against the Colts; that's a correctable problem but his offensive line's woes could take time to fix. With the Texans and their newfound pass rush expected to come after him in Week 4, we could see more mistakes by Big Ben and a limited amount of touchdowns to go with it. Normally the argument of "Well if Drew Brees could light up the Texans, so could Roethlisberger" would fly with me, but Big Ben's under a lot of pressure and isn't promised to put up huge numbers on the road.
I'd rather start: Eli Manning (at ARI), Jay Cutler (vs. CAR), Rex Grossman (at STL)
Jamey Eisenberg Roethlisberger isn't exactly playing at an optimal level right now, but he's not far away from being the elite Fantasy option we all know he's capable of and showed last year. He just has to eliminate the turnovers, but you can count on the fact he will continue to throw. He has at least 30 pass attempts in each game with at least 280 passing yards. And since the Steelers are struggling to run the ball right now, look for Roethlisberger to have to throw this week against the Texans for the Steelers to win. I'm a believer in this Houston defense, but the Texans allowed 28 Fantasy points against Drew Brees last week, which is the first legitimate quarterback they have faced -- and Mario Williams (knee) is also hurt. He should be able to reach at least 20 Fantasy points in this matchup, which is what I projected him for. Accuscore also has Roethlisberger projected as the No. 5 overall quarterback this week.
I'd start him over: Matt Ryan (at SEA), Joe Flacco (vs. NYJ), Matt Schaub (vs. PIT)
Nathan Zegura Ben Roethlisberger is a solid start for your Fantasy teams in Week 4 against the Texans. The Texans have better stats than they deserve after starting the year with Indianapolis and Miami, but were shown to be beatable through the air by Drew Brees and the Saints, who threw for 370 yards and three touchdowns on 31 of 44 passing. With the Steelers ground game struggling, look for Ben to continue to air it out. He has topped 280 yards passing in all three games this year and is averaging 314 yards passing per game for the season. He has not thrown for multiple touchdowns in a game yet, but that could change in Week 4. He is not a Top 8 start at quarterback due to his offensive line issues, but he has a very good chance to throw for 300 yards with one or more scores.
I'd start him over: Joe Flacco (vs. NYJ), Josh Freeman (vs. IND), Kevin Kolb (vs. NYG)
Start or sit Sidney Rice vs. Atlanta?
Dave Richard Last week we saw Sidney Rice play well in his first game back from a shoulder injury against a very bad secondary. This week a better secondary flies to Seattle, but it's still one with plenty of flaws. Rice will take on a Falcons pass defense that's giving up over 260 yards through the air on average and has yielded four passing touchdowns through three games. Rice gave an inspired effort last week (catching eight passes for 109 yards) and should see at least the same amount of passes from Tarvaris Jackson in this game. In fact, count on more because the Falcons should be ahead in this one, giving Rice more opportunities to pick up yardage and ultimately score. Jackson played his best ball of the young season with Rice on the field, and it seems like a relatively safe bet that it will continue here given the lack of a shutdown corner on the Falcons.
I'd start him over: A.J. Green (vs. BUF), Nate Washington (at CLE), Plaxico Burress (at BAL)
Jamey Eisenberg Rice was fantastic in Week 3 against Arizona, which was his first game of the season after being out with a significant shoulder injury. But that game was against one of the worst pass defenses in the NFL, and Atlanta will present a much tougher challenge. The Falcons have done well against opposing wide receivers through three games with only Jeremy Maclin posting quality stats in Week 2. I would use Rice as a No. 3 wide receiver this week, but I'm still hesitant to call him a must-start option. Keep in mind this is still a receiver catching passes from Tarvaris Jackson, and Rice also could suffer a setback with the shoulder. Let him have another game like he had against the Cardinals before you put him in your starting lineup in the majority of leagues.
I'd rather start: Santonio Holmes (at BAL), Jeremy Maclin (vs. SF), Denarius Moore (vs. NE)
Nathan Zegura Sidney Rice is the top target for a team that is likely to be behind in their game against the Falcons and for that reason alone, he is worth playing as your third receiver. Rice showed no ill effects from his shoulder injury in Week 3 as he caught eight of his 10 targets for 109 yards against the Cardinals. The Falcons have allowed a 71 percent catch rate and 9.1 yards per target to receivers through three games this year, so it is not like they have been lock down. The Bears had three receivers top 55 yards against them and of course Jeremy Maclin exploded for 173 yards and two touchdowns. Rice will see a ton of targets and should get some solid garbage time points, which is why I consider him a strong third receiver for your teams this week.
I'd start him over: Devery Henderson (at JAC), Anquan Boldin (vs. NYJ), Mike Williams (vs. IND)
Start or sit Owen Daniels vs. Pittsburgh?
Dave Richard The Steelers have done a nice job against opposing tight ends after the Ravens torched them in Week 1 for 104 yards on seven catches with a touchdown (Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta combined). Then again, they've taken on the Seahawks and Colts since then -- two teams with weak quarterbacks. Houston is riding high, and a big part of the reason for their success is Matt Schaub, who erupted for 373 yards and three touchdowns against a blitzing New Orleans defense. Schaub continually made the Saints pay for blitzing by hitting all of his targets, including Daniels, who posted a season-best 76 yards and a score on five catches. In fact, Daniels' numbers have improved every week as he's reasserted himself as the second-best target for Schaub in the Texans offense. There shouldn't be a dilemma over who to start at tight end if you have Daniels and any other non-elite tier tight end on your team.
I'd start him over: Dallas Clark (at TB), Kellen Winslow (vs. IND), Scott Chandler (at CIN)
Jamey Eisenberg Daniels is coming off a terrific game against New Orleans and has touchdowns in consecutive outings. He is back as a No. 1 Fantasy tight end, but this will be a difficult matchup for him. The Steelers have allowed just three tight ends to score in the past 20 games, and some of the tight ends they have shut down over that span include Tony Gonzalez (three Fantasy points), Kellen Winslow (two points), Dustin Keller (one point) and Dallas Clark (one point). Don't be surprised to see Daniels spending a few extra plays blocking in this matchup to help with the Steelers' pass rush, and he could be limited in his production. It's hard to bench Daniels, which is understandable in deeper formats, but if you can find someone off the waiver wire like Scott Chandler, Randy McMichael or Jermaine Gresham this week, then carry two tight ends since those three all have more favorable matchups.
I'd rather start: Jermaine Gresham (vs. BUF), Scott Chandler (at CIN), Randy McMichael (vs. MIA)
Nathan Zegura Owen Daniels is starting to live up to his pre-season hype with scores in back to back games and a season high 76 yards and touchdown against the Saints in Week 3. This week he draws a tough matchup with the Steelers, who have been very hard on tight ends. No tight end has reached 60 yards in a game against them and only Ed Dickson (in the Week 1 debacle) found the end zone. That being said, I am starting Daniels anyway. He is really the second receiver on the team and is being heavily utilized in the red zone, which is key for a tight end. Daniels has seen eight red zone targets (tied for first among all pass catchers) and has turned two of them into scores. The Steelers will be very concerned with Andre Johnson and the returning Arian Foster, so look for Daniels to get enough chances to make plays that he is a Top 12 tight end for Week 4.
I'd start him over: Dallas Clark (at TB), Kellen Winslow (vs. IND), Brandon Pettigrew (vs. DAL)

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
Cecil Shorts not yet at full strength
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(8:22 am ET) Entering a contract year following a disappointing season, the stakes couldn't be higher for Jaguars wideout Cecil Shorts. But in order to rebound and earn that large pay day, he has to get on the field first. That's a problem -- the Florida Times-Union reports Shorts is still dealing with the effects of groin surgery and is not yet at 100 percent, but hopes to be soon.

"I'm on the right path where I'm able to run without any pain," Shorts said. "I still have some work to do and I'm not 100 percent yet, but I'm looking to get there soon. Now, I have to get my strength back and confidence back."

Coach Gus Bradley commented that Shorts is "leaner" and more focused than before on becoming a better contributor to the offense. Shorts will experience his first training camp where he's not learning a new playbook. He had a career-high 66 catches last year for 777 yards and three touchdowns. 


Patriots exercise option for Nate Solder
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(1:39 am ET) The Patriots have picked up the fifth-year option on tackle Nate Solder's contract, according to a report by CBSSports.com NFL Insider Jason La Canfora Wednesday. Solder has started 44 of his 47 games through three seasons, while missing just one game.  

Almost healed, Jimmy Clausen fighting for another shot
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(4/23/2014) Free agent quarterback Jimmy Clausen, who spent last season on injured reserve recovering from a torn labrum, is hoping to latch on with a new team. He won't be back with the Panthers.

Clausen, 26, said his arm is at 95 percent and he's ready to compete for a backup job somewhere.

“I'm still really young," Clausen told USA Today. “I'm going into my fifth year in the league. I feel great. This is probably right now the healthiest I've been since my junior year in college, to be honest with you.”


Marcus Trufant retiring as a Seahawk
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(4/23/2014) Seattle will sign cornerback Marcus Trufant to a one-day contract so he can retire as a member of the Seahawks. Trufant played for the team from 2003-12 before signing with Jacksonville last offseason. The Jaguars released him before the season.

Trufant started 125 games and made 21 interceptions.


Mikel Leshoure skips voluntary minicamp
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(4/23/2014) Running back Mikel Leshoure is one of four Lions not participating in the team's voluntary minicamp, reports MLive.com. Leshoure is No. 4 on the team's depth chart and was active for only three games last year.

Andrew Luck working on timing with Hakeem Nicks
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(4/23/2014) Colts quarterback Andrew Luck was extremely pleased about the signing of Hakeem Nicks. Now he's throwing to Nicks, trying to develop chemistry and timing.

"It’s very good to get the rhythm, get the consistency down, get the timing down because I’ve learned, playing two years, that timing is everything in this league," Luck said. "It is so important and when you feel it, you feel the rapport. When T.Y. (Hilton) came on at the end of the year, like it is with Reggie (Wayne), it makes things just feel a little more simple."

Luck said Nicks is a Super Bowl champ who "knows how to win."

"I think any time you can add that experience with a phenomenal football player, it really helps us out," Luck said. "I’ve been talking and picking his brain about what it takes to make deep runs and how he likes things. I think it’ll be a great addition here."


Cowboys sign Caleb Hanie
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(4/23/2014) Quarterback Caleb Hanie signed a one-year deal with the Cowboys. He hasn't played in an NFL game since 2011, when he threw three touchdowns and nine interceptions in six games for the Bears.

T.Y. Hilton: Reggie Wayne is 'going to shock the world'
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(4/23/2014) Colts receiver T.Y. Hilton saw teammate Reggie Wayne recently and said the 35-year-old is coming back strong from his torn ACL. “He’s going to shock the world. I saw him the other day and he looks great, like he never left," Hilton said. "It’s just a blessing to have him around."

The entire offense trusts Wayne, Hilton added.

"He’s always there, no matter what. Andrew (Luck) trusts him, we all trust him," Hilton said. "He’s been here the longest and he knows the ropes. He knows pretty much every defense, so he’s a great guy."


Jeff Demps prioritizing football over track
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(4/23/2014) Buccaneers running back Jeff Demps is putting his track career on hold for the foreseeable future and focusing solely on football, reports the Tampa Tribune. Demps projects as a dangerous return man in 2014.

Lovie Smith raves about Doug Martin
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(4/23/2014) Buccaneers running back Doug Martin tore his labrum Week 7 and underwent surgery, ending his 2013 season. New coach Lovie Smith said Martin is showing no ill effects.

"Did he have an injury last year? It doesn't look like it right now," Smith told the Tampa Tribune.


 
 
 
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