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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
Titans WR Hakeen Nicks seeking comeback season
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(2:28 pm ET) Fading wide receiver Hakeem Nicks claims he can still be the premier player he was with the Giants now that he is wearing a Titans uniform. But he also understands that he must prove it.

"(I'm) motivated, determined and ready to work," he told The Tennessean. "I am ready to bring it all and lay it on the line, man. I just want to get back in the rhythm of being talked about as one of the best receivers in the league, as I was in the past. ... I need to go out there and prove it. No need to say words."

Nicks enjoyed successive 1,000-yard seasons in 2010 and 2011 and tallied 24 touchdowns in his first three years in the NFL. But he faded to the point in which he caught a career-low 38 passes for 405 yards and four touchdowns a year ago.

"I feel like where I am at in my career - I just turned 27 - I feel like I still have a lot in my tank," he said. "I wanted to go somewhere and prove I can still be a No. 1 receiver and be the guy I was in the past, statistically and being a guy that likes to make plays and be on the feld consistently.

"With six years of experience, playoff experience and a Super Bowl, I thnk I can definitely bring (leadership) to a team. And I want to compete for Super Bowl teams here."


Chiefs RB Jamaal Charles wants to play another six years
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(1:45 pm ET) Jamaal Charles is 29 but hasn't showed any signs of slowing down. 

In his battle to prove that you can hit the 30-year mark in age and still be a capable running back in the NFL, Charles said it's his goal to continue playing this game for an additional half-decade.

“I want to play another six years so, my form is to keep on taking my diet," Charles said, via the Chiefs' official team site. "I’m seeing guys at 37 or 38 still playing football in the trenches and that’s somewhere where you don’t want to play. So I just want to change the game with the running backs. I want this to last longer and then when I retire, I’ll be happy with where I end my career at.”

Charles ran for 1,033 yards and nine touchdowns while going for 291 receiving yards and five touchdowns. 


Eagles' Chip Kelly on Tim Tebow: 'He's a quarterback'
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(1:29 pm ET) There's no longer a mystery as to what the Eagles brought Tim Tebow in to do. He's a quarterback.

Coach Chip Kelly said the team is not looking for Tebow to play another position, per NFL.com.

"He's a quarterback," Kelly said. "That's how we're looking at Timmy. We're not looking at him at any other position."

Kelly emphasized that Tebow has improved behind center.

"You guys will see him today. Watch him throw. I think he's improved," Kelly said of Tebow. "He's spent a lot of time in the last few years in terms of working on his game."

Tebow hasn't played in the NFL since 2012.


Kelly: 'We've to plenty of time' to wait for Eagles QB Sam Bradford
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(1:20 pm ET) Chip Kelly has stated that Eagles presumed starting quarterback Sam Bradford must get back on the field and prove something before he is proclaimed as such.

It hasn't happened yet. He was limited in workouts this spring and has been absent from OTA drills, per the Philadelphia Inquirer. Chief competitor Mark Sanchez has recieved the first-team reps instead.

Bradford is just nine months removed from a torn ACL, his second in two seasons. Kelly stated that Bradford is on schedule with his rehab and could do some 7-on-7 work next week.

"We've got plenty of time," Kelly added.


Russell Wilson's agent: Contract talks 'encouraging'
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(1:11 pm ET) Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson has greatly outplayed his rookie contract and the two sides have been working on negotiations for some time. Mark Rodgers, his agent, has a positive outlook on the talks, per The Seattle Times.

“I would characterize our talks as ongoing, fluid, robust at times, thoughtful,” Rodgers said.  “And we’ve made progress. I would characterize them as positive and encouraging.”

Wilson's agent, Mark Rodgers, said that his client is prepared to play this season without a new deal despite the ongoing negotiations.

“There really are no deadlines,’’ Rodgers said. "Financially, we planned long-term for him to play for the $1.5 million dollars (in 2015). So there isn’t any expectation of additional money coming in from the Seattle Seahawks this coming year.’’

Wilson threw for 3,475 yards with 20 touchdowns last season, leading the Seahawks to their second-consecutive Super Bowl appearance.


Lions G Manny Ramirez ahead of Laken Tomlinson on first unit
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(1:03 pm ET) Many believed that guard and first-round pick Laken Tomlinson was a shoo-in to start for the Lions this season.

Not so fast.

Fellow newcomer Manny Ramirez, for whom the team traded in a swap with Denver, began OTAs this week working with the first team. Tomlinson was on the second unit.

Jim Caldwell explained why, praising the 32-year-old Ramirez along the way.

"He's a guy that's certainly going to add some girth and power and experience in the (interior)," Caldwell told MLive.com. "But, also, you can just tell from a leadership standpoint, I mean, he's tremendous. Real solid guy, just a person that's well-rounded, has a good sense of what being a real pro is. ... I think you'll see some of that wear off on some of our younger guys."

Ramirez was a full-time starter with the Broncos in each of the last three seasons.


Packers OLB Julius Peppers sent home from OTA's with illness
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(12:55 pm ET) Packers outside linebacker Julius Peppers was absent from organized team activities on Thursday, per Green Bay Press-Gazette.

Peppers was sent home because of an apparent illness before practice started for the day.


Healthy QB Tony Romo providing optimism for Cowboys
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(12:53 pm ET) A Tony Romo ahead of the game is a rather scary thought for NFL defenses. But such is the case for the Cowboys quarterback, who for the first time in three years is healthy at this point in the offseason.

In 2013, he was recovering from the removal of cyst. Last year he was battling back from a discectomy. But he's fine now and is performing quite well.

"It's been great," Romo told ESPN. "I think just to be able to kind of have an offseason. You're always rehabbing, but at the same time, I'm kind of able to build during this offseason. It's exciting really."

It's more exciting considering he is coming off his finest year, which featured a league-best completion percentage (69.9) and passer rating (113.2) with 34 touchdowns and just nine interceptions.

In training camp he never practiced more than two straight days, then sat out every Wednesday during the regular season. It remains to be seen if a healthy offseason translates into even better production for the 35-year-old Romo in 2015. The team will be careful in regard to his health.

"Tony's obviously further along," Jason Garrett said. "He didn't have an offseason surgery, so he was able to get a lot more things in our offseason program up to this point. ... You want to make sure you monitor him. ... He's handled everything we've asked him to do to this point really well."


WR Mike Wallace optimistic about fit in Vikings offense
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(12:38 pm ET) Vikings burner Mike Wallace has been in search of an offense that best fits his skill set since leaving Pittsburgh. He believes he has found one.

Wallace was stuck in a West Coast system in Miami, which resulted in two seasons with weaker numbers than he produced in his heyday with the Steelers. His 12.8 yards-per-catch average with the Dolphins was a far cry from the 17.2 he achieved previously. He caught 12 passes of 20-plus yards in Miami after snagging 44 in four years with Pittsburgh.

For a receiver that was clocked at 4.33 in the 40 in 2009, those statistics in Miami are unworthy of his speed. He is seeking a quarterback that can fire the ball downfield and will be given the freedom to do so. He is hoping it's Teddy Bridgewater. Offensive coordinator Norv Turner is vowing to cut the offense loose, which pleases Wallace.

"I think it's more so [like] my first four years, he told ESPN. "It's a vertical offense, [rather] than a short, West Coast offense. You go down the field a lot more here, more what I'm accustomed to."


Cowboys DE Greg Hardy appeals 10-game suspension
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(12:29 pm ET) Cowboys defensive end Greg Hardy and his representatives made an appearance in Washington D.C. this morning to argue in favor of reducing or overturning his 10-game suspension, per The Dallas Morning News.

Dallas, which doesn't play any role in the appeal process, is supporting its player from a far.

“No real comment beyond just supporting him,’’ head coach Jason Garrett said. “This is part of the process that he’s going to go through in appealing this suspension. He and his representatives will handle it as well as they can and we’ll see what happens.

“The biggest thing is to handle it the right way. We’re going to try to handle it the right way as an organization and we expect him to handle it the right way as an individual player."

A judge found Hardy guilty of domestic violence in July of 2014 and sentenced him to 18 months probation after suspending a 60-day jail sentence. 

Hardy and his reps will argue that he was found not guilty in the eyes of the law, and that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell's punishment -- 10-game suspension -- was excessive compared to what was outlined in the personal conduct policy -- two-game suspension -- at the time of the incident involving his former girlfriend.

The NFL's investigation at the time concluded that Hardy's actions "constitutes a significant act of violence in violation of the Personal Conduct Policy.”


 
 
 
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