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Five up, five down for Week 2

Senior Fantasy Writer
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Disclaimer ... Before you start reading, please understand that we are not in the business of stating the obvious and wasting your time (or ours), so you won't be reading here why you need to start Aaron Rodgers, Arian Foster, Calvin Johnson or any other top-tier players. We're here to help you make a decision on players you are on the fence about.

Week 2 will feel a lot more like Week 1 should have felt as many of our top running backs have returned to action and are good to go. Fantasy Football is a game of matchups, so some of our heroes from Week 1 will be sitting down this week, while some Week 1 disappointments will be ready to break out.

Here's a look at my top five starts and sits for Week 2 to either keep your winning streak alive or get you back to even.

Get 'em active ...

Andrew Luck, QB, Colts (vs. MIN)
Current own/start %: 96/11
I'd start him over: Matt Schaub (at JAC), Ben Roethlisberger (vs. NYJ), Robert Griffin III (at STL)
Going with a rookie quarterback seemed to work pretty well in Week 1, as RG3 had a huge 28-point game against the Saints, so I am doing it again in Week 2. Andrew Luck had a tougher time with the Chicago Bears in his NFL debut, producing only 10 points, but he will at least double that in his home opener. The Minnesota Vikings gave up a league high 22.75 points per game to opposing quarterbacks in 2011 and started things off by allowing Blaine Gabbert to throw for 260 yards and two scores in Week 1. Gabbert produced 22 points in Week 1 and outscored Tom Brady, Cam Newton, Eli Manning and Michael Vick to name a few, thanks to the generous Minnesota defense. Luck was harassed by the Bears' pass rush in Week 1 and that led to four turnovers. The Vikings do not get after the quarterback like the Bears and they have just two interceptions in their last 12 games. Don't forget that he did throw for 309 yards and a touchdown against Chicago, so with fewer turnovers and less pressure in the pocket we could see Luck go for 300 with two scores on Sunday, making him a great start in all formats.

Jay Cutler, QB, Bears (at GB)
Current own/start %: 98/42
I'd start him over: Philip Rivers (vs. TEN), Alex Smith (vs. DET), Michael Vick (vs. BAL)
I was not expecting Cutler to have a monster game in Week 1 and boy was I wrong, as he torched the Colts for 333 yards and two scores. I love the fact that the Bears let Cutler throw the ball up close and he really almost had four touchdowns in the season opener. Having Brandon Marshall is a world-changing event for Cutler, because he now has a true No. 1 receiver to rely on in all situations. Marshall also opens things up for the rest of the offense including exciting rookie Alshon Jeffery, which is great news for Cutler as he heads into a Thursday night showdown with the Packers. The Pack just let Alex Smith have a 21-point effort in Week 1 on only 26 pass attempts, because he completed 20 (77 percent) of them for 211 yards and two scores. The Packers have now given up an average of 33 points per game to opposing quarterbacks in their last three games and have surrendered 10 touchdowns during that span. Cutler himself threw for 307 yards and two touchdowns (with two picks) in his only meeting with Green Bay last year. Look for another 300 yards with multiple touchdowns for Cutler, who is a great quarterback to kick off Week 2 if you don't have Mr. Rodgers.

Other QBs with favorable matchups: Peyton Manning (at ATL), Josh Freeman (at NYG), Alex Smith (vs. DET), Robert Griffin III (at STL)

C.J. Spiller, RB, Bills (vs. KC)
Current own/start %: 96/48
I'd start him over: Michael Turner (vs. DEN), Doug Martin (at TB), Frank Gore (vs. DET)
When Spiller took over for Fred Jackson in Week 12 a year ago, all he did was average 105 total yards, 0.83 touchdowns and most importantly 15.6 Fantasy points per game. He was the fourth ranked Fantasy back over those final six weeks and helped to key many a championship run. Well, it looks like we could get similar production from Spiller again this year as he stepped in against a stout Jets defense and promptly produced 194 total yards and a touchdown on just 16 touches. Spiller averaged over five yards per carry as the starter in 2011 and carried a 12.1 yards per carry average in Week 1 over the Jets. Even if you take away his 56 yard touchdown scamper, Spiller still averaged 8.1 yards per carry last Sunday. Now he faces the Chiefs, who just held Michael Turner to 32 yards in a game where the Falcons scored 40 points. That does not deter me at all, because Spiller is the running back thriller and no one has ever said he looks like he runs with ankle weights on. When Buffalo played the Chiefs last year, the running backs produced 164 total yards and a touchdown, which is good for 24 points. That is the upside for the dual-threat Spiller, who is a good bet to exceed 100 total yards and find the end zone against Kansas City this week, so you should get him in your lineups.

Alfred Morris, RB, Redskins (at STL)
Current own/start %: 81/33
I'd start him over: Trent Richardson (at CIN), Reggie Bush (vs. OAK), Willis McGahee (at ATL)
"Alfamania" is no longer confined to Melmac or Dave Richard's house after the rookie started his NFL career with 96 yards and not one, but two touchdowns in Washington's huge Week 1 victory over the Saints. While it is true that he only averaged 3.4 yards per carry on his 28 totes of the rock, you have to love that Shanahan gave him 28 carries compared to just four combined for Roy Helu and Evan Royster. Shanahan gushed about Alf and how he got better as the game went on, going so far as to already name Morris the starter for Week 2 against the St. Louis Rams. Last year, the Rams gave up 22.1 points per game to opposing running backs, third most in the NFL, and they picked up where they left off, allowing Kevin Smith and Joique Bell (one carry, one yard, one touchdown) to produce 26 running back points against them in Week 1. This is a great matchup for Morris, who could cement his status (for as long as one can cement their status under Mr. Shananan) as the team's starter and a Top 20 Fantasy running back for the near future.

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BenJarvus Green-Ellis, RB, Bengals (vs. CLE)
Current own/start %: 100/65
I'd start him over: Chris Johnson (at SD), Jamaal Charles (at BUF), Kevin Smith (at SF)
The Law Firm was very impressive in his Cincinnati deubt as he rushed for 91 yards (5.1 yards per carry) and a touchdown against a stout Ravens run defense on 18 carries. I love that BGE had a heavy workload even in a blowout loss and I can guarantee you that the Bengals will not be blown out by the Browns in Week 2. In the season opener, the Browns allowed LeSean McCoy to run for 110 yards on just 20 carries (5.5 yards per carry) and finished with 13 total points. That marked the 10th time in the last 11 games against the Browns that the opposing leading rusher has produced double digit Fantasy points. During that stretch, opposing runners are averaging a healthy 22.2 points per game due in large part to a ridiculous pace of 179 total yards per game. Cedric Benson produced 18 Fantasy points in each of his matchups with the Browns a year ago and I think the Law Firm will give you at least 100 total yards and a touchdown, making him a great start.

Other RBs with favorable matchups: Adrian Peterson (at IND), Stevan Ridley (vs. ARI), Frank Gore (vs. DET), Willis McGahee (at ATL), Reggie Bush (vs. OAK)

Some WRs and TEs with favorable matchups: A.J. Green (vs. CLE with no Joe Haden), Vincent Jackson (at NYG), Eric Decker (at ATL), Steve Johnson (vs. KC), Michael Crabtree (vs. DET), Alshon Jeffery (at GB), Randall Cobb and James Jones (vs. CHI), Brandon LaFell (vs. NO), Danny Amendola (vs. WAS), Donnie Avery (vs. MIN), Coby Fleener (vs. MIN), Jermaine Gresham (vs. CLE), Jacob Tamme (at ATL)

Ride the pine ...

Joe Flacco, QB, Ravens (at PHI)
Current own/start %: 93/16
I'd rather start: Andrew Luck (vs. MIN), Peyton Manning (at ATL), Robert Griffin III (at STL)
I loved what I saw from Joe Flacco in Week 1 and have really upgraded my expectations for him the rest of the year. In fact, if he plays all 16 games there is no doubt in my mind that Flacco will throw for 4,000 yards for the first time in his career in the new up-tempo Ravens offense. While he was able to abuse the Bengals on Monday night, I think Flacco will find things to be a bit more challenging against the Philadelphia Eagles excellent pass defense. Only Tom Brady has scored more than 16 Fantasy points against the Eagles in their last eight games and they have held five quarterbacks under 200 yards passing during that span. In their last six games, the Eagles have allowed only six passing touchdowns and have recorded 10 turnovers (seven interceptions and three fumbles). Even if you throw out Brandon Weeden's league low -2.0 points in Week 1 against this defense, opposing quarterbacks averaged just over 12 points per game in the final five games of 2011. The defense in Philly needed time to come together and it has, so I would go with a higher upside option than Flacco in Week 2. If he bombs out this week and you need a backup quarterback, buy low on Flacco because he is on his way to a career year.

Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Steelers (vs. Jets)
Current own/start %: 98/26
I'd rather start: Eli Manning (vs. TB), Josh Freeman (at NYG), Matt Schaub (at JAC)
The offensive line of the Steelers is in scary shape as Ben heads into Week 2 against a very aggressive Jets pass defense. Yes, the Jets allowed three garbage-time passing touchdowns in their blowout win over the Bills in Week 1, but they kept Ryan Fitzpatrick below 200 yards passing and 20 Fantasy points thanks to three interceptions. Only four quarterbacks have reached the 20-point mark against the Jets in their last 17 games and opposing quarterbacks are averaging just over 13 points per game against them during that span. The Broncos got to Ben for five sacks in Week 1 and the constant pressure limited him to just 55 percent completions and 6.1 yards per attempt. The Jets should be able to get to Ben given the state of his offensive line and with their lockdown corner backs Revis and Cromartie, this could be a very long day at the office in what looks like a low scoring affair. It's tough to bet against Ben, but in today's Fantasy Football you want a quarterback with a lot of upside, not one who has only three multiple passing touchdown games in his last nine. The last time that Ben faced the Jets, he was held to 133 yards and no touchdowns passing and while he will be better in Week 2, I would look for a higher upside option.

Other QBs with tough matchups: Mark Sanchez (at PIT), Russell Wilson (vs. DAL), Jake Locker (at SD)

Shonn Greene, RB, Jets (at PIT)
Current own/start %: 99/57
I'd rather start: Alfred Morris (at STL), Kevin Smith (at SF), Doug Martin (at NYG)
I am one of the strongest believers in the very mediocre Shonn Greene as the focal point of the Tony Sparano attack, and while it is never exciting to start him, more often than not it is a good idea as he showed in Week 1 with 94 yards and a touchdown. Much like Alf, Greene needed a high volume of carries to get his 90-plus yards and averaged only 3.5 yards per carry. The Steelers may be slowing down on defense, but they are better than the Bills and there is little chance that the Jets will be milking a huge lead for the entire second half this Sunday. We saw the Steelers give up a rushing touchdown in Week 1 to Knowshon Moreno, but that came out of a shotgun formation when the defense was clearly worried about what Peyton Manning was going to do to them. Greene's game is similar to that of Willis McGahee, who was held to 64 yards on the ground in the Denver win. In his last meeting with the Steelers, Greene produced just 52 yards in the Jets 2010 AFC Championship game loss. For his career, Greene has only scored a touchdown in four games (out of a possible 38) in which he has seen 18 or fewer carries and I don't think the Jets will be in the position to have a 20-carry workload for their runner in Week 2. He is not a big factor as a receiver and therefore I would stay away from Greene against the Steelers, who have allowed only three runners to reach 10 points in their last 14 games.

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Kevin Smith, RB, DET (at SF)
Current own/start %: 97/56
I'd rather start: Darren Sproles (at CAR), Reggie Bush (vs. OAK), Stevan Ridley (vs. ARI)
Kevin Smith delivered a solid 20 points as one of the starts of the week against the St. Louis Rams. Unfortunately, he will be lucky to be half as productive in Week 2 against the San Francisco 49ers. Only one running back has topped 100 yards rushing against the 49ers in their last 41 games and that same runner, Marshawn Lynch, was the only one to top 80 yards rushing in the last 19 games as well. Jahvid Best was able to hit 10 Fantasy points against the 49ers in the team's last meeting thanks 73 yards receiving on six catches. Smith is a fine pass catcher in his own right, but he has topped 50 yards receiving only four times in 43 career starts. Add in the fact that the 49ers have given up only two running back rushing touchdowns in their last 19 games as well and you can see that this may not be the week to go with Smith. After all, when the Lions got to the one-yard line against the Rams, Smith was replaced by Joique Bell, who promptly pounded in the short score. I am fine with Smith in a PPR league, because he will likely catch five passes, but the 49ers are like the Bermuda triangle for running back production and you'd be better off letting Smith cool down naturally on your bench.

Peyton Hillis, RB, Chiefs (at BUF)
Current own/start %: 97/31
I'd rather start: Michael Bush (at GB), Willis McGahee (at ATL), Trent Richardson (at CIN)
I am not giving up on Peyton Hillis after one week, but I will have to see him be in a more advantageous work split before I recommend starting him. In Week 1, Jamaal Charles took 16 carries and ran for 87 yards compared to just seven carries for 16 yards for Hillis. Peyton was not really involved with the team's comeback effort against the Falcons, which means he will seemingly have his highest value when the Chiefs are in the lead or in a close game. That could happen this week against the Bills, but I want to see it in action before I believe it, especially when Charles looked so good. Despite getting blown out, the Bills run defense certainly looked stout in Week 1, giving up only one run of 10 or more yards and limiting the Jets to just 3.3 yards per carry. I don't think the Chiefs will get to run it 36 times like the Jets did in Week 1, so I am not sure what kind of opportunity Hillis will get. Yes, he could score, but unless he is the clear goal line back and is seeing 12-15 touches per week, he will be tough to trust when the Chiefs take on a good run defense.

Other RBs with tough matchups: Cedric Benson (vs. CHI), Donald Brown (vs. MIN), Doug Martin (at NYG), Ryan Williams/Beanie Wells (at NE)

Some WRs and TEs with tough matchups: Torrey Smith (at PHI), DeSean Jackson (vs. BAL), Robert Meachem (vs. TEN), Sidney Rice (vs. DAL), Nate Washington (at SD), Stephen Hill (at PIT)

Good luck this week!

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

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Player News
Browns OL Michael Bowie itching to compete for starting spot
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(10:47 am ET) Browns offensive lineman Michael Bowie is not required to report to training camp until the end of July. But never mind that - he's heading out after the last Independence Day firework explodes in the sky.

Bowie is itching to get started. He missed all of last season due to a shoulder injury after starting for Seattle on its Super Bowl title team in 2013. He is seeking to stay in tip-top shape in an attempt to land a starting spot on a Cleveland line that is the strength of the team.

"It's up to them to decide who is the best five," Bowie told the team website. "All I can do is take care of my business. Hopefully I can get a shot. That's what I'm working for."

Bowie participated fully in the offseason program, working mostly with the second team at right tackle. That will likely be the spot at which he competes for a starting job. Incumbent Mitchell Schwartz has not performed particularly well there and Mike Pettine has vowed there will be competition all over the field in camp.


Redskins OLB Ryan Kerrigan nearly recovered from knee surgery
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(9:32 am ET) Redskins outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan appears to be on target to join the team for training camp after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery that prevented him from participating in earlier offseason activities.

Kerrigan, who registered a career-high 13 1/2 sacks a year ago, had the operation to alleviate pain in the area.

"My leg feels really good and I'm glad I got the surgery - not just for football but it makes my everyday life feel better so I'm glad I got it done," he told CSN Washington. "Now it's just a matter of getting stronger and getting into shape."

Kerrigan added that he's been running and now only needs to regain strength to insure his place at training camp.


Texans waive DT Brandon Ivory
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(7/2/2015) The Texans waived rookie defensive tackle Brandon Ivory on Thursday, according to ESPN.com

Ivory was arrested on first degree burglary charges in Tuscaloosa, Ala. just one day ago. Ivory's agent Jeff Guerriero said Ivory is not guilty of the charge. 

"I spoke to Brandon he is not guilty and his name will be cleared of all charges," Guerriero said. 


Chargers TE Antonio Gates suspended 4 games for PED use
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(7/2/2015) Chargers tight end Antonio Gates has been suspended four games for violating the NFL's performance-enhancing drugs policy, the team announced. 

It's unknown at this time what drug Gates tested positive for. Gates, in a statement, said he was unaware that he took a banned substance

"In my 12 years in the NFL, I have taken tremendous pride in upholding the integrity of the NFL shield and all that it entails," Gates said. "I have taken extreme care of my body with a holistic approach and I have never knowingly ingested a substance that was banned by the NFL. In an effort to recover from this past season, I used supplements and holistic medicines, and unfortunately, I have now learned that those substances always present a risk because they may contain banned substances even if the ingredient list doesn’t reflect them.

"As an NFL veteran and team leader, I should have done my due diligence to ensure that what I was taking for recovery was within the NFL guidelines. I understand that I am responsible for what is in my body and I have always believed that ignorance is no excuse when it comes to these issues. I take full responsibility for my actions. I’d like to express my sincere apologies to the Chargers, my teammates, coaches, fans and the league who have always supported me and expected and gotten nothing but the highest level of integrity from me."

With Gates out for four games, the Chargers will turn to Ladarius Green as the team's top tight end, though it was expected for Green to continue getting more looks in the passing game. Green is entering the final season of his rookie contract. 

The Chargers expressed disappointment in Gates for his suspension but plans to stick with the longtime veteran through the suspension. 

"We are tremendously disappointed for our team and our fans as well as Antonio, but no more disappointed than Antonio is with himself," the Chargers stated. "Antonio is a member of the Chargers' family and we will continue to support him 100-percent. We have the utmost confidence he will stay in excellent shape for the season and be ready to go when he returns in Week 5. While it's unfortunate to not have him to start the season, we have complete confidence our tight end group will continue to play at a high level."  


Packers' Datone Jones out 1 game for substance-abuse violation
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(7/2/2015) Packers defensive lineman Datone Jones will be suspended for one game for violating the NFL's substance-abuse policy, according to NFL.com. 

Jones will miss Green Bay's season-opener against the Bears. In 2014, Jones totaled 22 tackles and 1 1/2 sacks in 13 games played. 


Cowboys LB Rolando McClain suspended four games for 2015
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(7/2/2015) The Cowboys announced that linebacker Rolando McClain has been suspended for the first four games of the 2015 season due to violating the NFL's substance-abuse policy. 

McClain hasn't been able to participate much in offseason workouts due to going under offseason knee surgery. McClain will be eligible to practice in training camp and is expected to be healthy by then. 

"I apologize to my family, the Cowboys organization, my teammates and Cowboys fans for my mistake. I will not break the rules of my profession in the future, and I regret my error," McClain said in a statement, via CSN Bay Area. "I look forward to returning to the field on week 5, when I hope to help my team beat the Patriots.

In 2014, McClain, who had previously retired twice before being traded from the Ravens to the Cowboys, totaled 81 tackles and a sack in 13 games played.


Jets DL Sheldon Richardson suspended four games
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(7/2/2015) Jets defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson was suspended four games for violating the league's substance-abuse policy, the NFL announced Thursday.

“I apologize for letting down my family, teammates, this organization and the fans," Richardson said in a statement via the Jets, per Fox Sports. "However, words aren't enough. This is something that can only be addressed by how I handle myself from this point on. I don't want this to take away from what the team is trying to accomplish. While I won't be there at the start of the regular season, I will do whatever I can to support my teammates until I'm able to return to the field.”

Richardson, who was a 2013 first-round pick, is entering his third season in the NFL. He was the AP Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2013 and was named to the Pro Bowl in 2014.

He has totaled 84 tackles and 11 1/2 sacks in 32 career games. He also has one safety.


Texans DT Brandon Ivory arrested on burglary charge
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(7/1/2015) Texans defensive tackle Brandon Ivory was arrested Wednesday morning in Alabama and charged with first-degree burglary, according to a Tuscaloosa Police Department report obtained by SportingNews.com.

Ivory and another man were allegedly involved in a home burglary when the two entered the residence by kicking open the back door and then demanding money from the residents. The two stole money and two Ipads from the residence. Ivory and the other suspect were arrested at their apartment shortly after the incident with the stolen money and property.


Embattled Brandon Spikes pleads guilty to leaving scene of crash
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(7/1/2015) Former Patriots and Bills linebacker Brandon Spikes has pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of a recent car crash and has received a fine and year of probation, per WBZ, which is further reporting that he has lost his license and will be forced to attend a driver's safety class.

Spikes has lost far more than his license. He has lost his livelihood, having been cut by New England for hitting another car and abandoning his vehicle on the highway. He later told the police that he had hit a deer.

No other teams have been rumored to be targeting Spikes for the coming season.


Terrelle Pryor ready to embrace new role with Browns
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(6/30/2015) Terrelle Pryor once declared that he could not play football if he could not play quarterback.

Reality has since set in.

Pryor has been cut twice and is now playing on a Cleveland Browns team desperate for a quarterback, but apparently not desperate enough to give him a shot. He is instead embracing what he is calling a "slash-player" role.

"I'm going to give (it) a chance," he told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. "I just want to play football. I'm a playmaker, and I believe if I can touch the ball, I can go to the house, especially if I have space. This should definitely open up some opportunities."

Pryor has already taken the first step by contacting Steelers receiving stud Antonio Brown and making plans to work out with him and Randy Moss so they can teach him the nuances of the position.

He also figures there's another reason he's ahead of the game.

"The thing that helps me is that I played quarterback, and I know what the quarterback wants," Pryor said.


 
 
 
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