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Waiver Wire: The Choice is yours

Senior Fantasy Writer
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We had another scoring period in Week 3 where running backs got hurt -- and Fantasy owners got frustrated. It's never a good thing when reliable players go down, especially in the middle of games.

So after losing Fred Jackson (knee), Matt Forte (ankle) and Ahmad Bradshaw (neck) in the first two weeks of the season, we unfortunately saw C.J. Spiller (shoulder), Reggie Bush (knee) and Willis McGahee (ribs) go down in Week 3. It doesn't sound like Spiller, Bush or McGahee will be out long, but they likely will be out this week.

The two most-added free agents this week will likely be Buffalo's Tashard Choice and Daniel Thomas of the Dolphins, since each have the chance to start in Week 4. Denver's Ronnie Hillman also has increased value, and Ryan Williams in Arizona re-emerged as a quality option, with Beanie Wells (toe) also banged up.

But running back might not be the only priority additions this week. As we've seen, some of the elite Fantasy quarterbacks (Cam Newton, Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Michael Vick and Tony Romo) have struggled, while Matthew Stafford (leg) was hurt in Week 3. Meanwhile, Andy Dalton, Carson Palmer, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Christian Ponder are showing consistent play.

It's definitely time to drop struggling backup options like Josh Freeman, Jay Cutler and Mark Sanchez. And you might even consider starting guys like Dalton, Palmer, Fitzpatrick and Ponder in place of your No. 1 quarterback, especially with a favorable matchup. Also, if Stafford is out this week then Shaun Hill will be a must add in all formats against Minnesota.

We also are starting the bye weeks with Pittsburgh and Indianapolis off this week, so any of these quarterbacks could be suitable replacements for Ben Roethlisberger or even Andrew Luck.

Editor's note: Must add is for players worth adding in all leagues. Maybe add is for players worth adding in 14-team leagues or larger. Desperation add is for players worth adding only if you're, well, desperate. The ownership percentage listed is how many leagues that player was owned in the previous week for CBSSports.com.

Quarterbacks

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Must add: Andy Dalton, Bengals (72 percent), Carson Palmer, Oakland (71 percent), Ryan Fitzpatrick, Bills (64 percent), Christian Ponder, Vikings (21 percent)
Maybe add: Jake Locker, Titans (44 percent), Shaun Hill, Lions (2 percent)
Desperation add: Kevin Kolb, Cardinals (7 percent)
The breakdown: Dalton had 328 passing yards, three touchdowns and one interception at Washington and now has 646 passing yards, six touchdowns and two interceptions in his past two games against the Redskins and Browns. He has another favorable matchup at Jacksonville this week, and the Jaguars just gave up 27 Fantasy points against Luck. After that he faces Miami and Cleveland before getting the Steelers in Week 7. We could be looking at a nice stretch of games for Dalton coming up. ... Palmer had his best game of the season against the Steelers with 209 passing yards, three touchdowns and an interception, and he is averaging 20.3 Fantasy points a week. Palmer has 879 yards with five touchdowns and two interceptions through his first three games as is off to his best start statistically since 2007 when he began the season with eight touchdowns and two interceptions after two games. If you don't trust Palmer as a No. 1 quarterback in Week 4 at Denver then you should just sit on him as a backup option all year because it's clear he's still capable of big games. ... Fitzpatrick had his third game already this season with multiple scores as he passed for 208 yards and three touchdowns against the Browns. He now has eight touchdowns and three interceptions on the season and is averaging 22 Fantasy points a week. He faces the Patriots in Week 4 and last year against New England at home he had 369 passing yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. He should be the No. 1 quarterback to target. ... Ponder has done a nice job the past two weeks with five touchdowns and no interceptions against the Colts and 49ers. He is worth a speculative addition that he can keep this up and he gets a boost in his receiving corps with Jerome Simpson's suspension ending this week. Ponder travels to Detroit in Week 4, and the Lions just gave up 28 Fantasy points against Locker. ... Speaking of Locker, he might be turning the corner with his performance against Detroit. We need to see more consistency from him, and he has a tough matchup at Houston in Week 4. ... Kolb played great against the Eagles with 21 Fantasy points, but his body of work doesn't make him anything more than a bye-week replacement in two-quarterback leagues. He does have a favorable matchup in Week 4 against Miami. ... Hill would have tremendous value if Stafford is out, and he would be a must-start Fantasy quarterback in Week 4 against the Vikings if that happens.

Running backs

Must add: Ryan Williams, Cardinals (71 percent), Daniel Thomas, Dolphins (31 percent), Tashard Choice, Bills (2 percent)
Maybe add: Ronnie Hillman, Broncos (26 percent), Danny Woodhead, Patriots (14 percent), Lamar Miller, Dolphins (8 percent), Lance Ball, Broncos (1 percent)
Desperation add: Jackie Battle, Chargers (35 percent), Bilal Powell, Jets (8 percent), Shaun Draughn, Chiefs (6 percent)
The breakdown: Choice should be the No. 1 player added this week if Jackson and Spiller are out against the Patriots. Choice did a nice job filling in for Spiller against the Browns with 20 carries for 91 yards and two catches for 8 yards. He would be this week's equivalent of Andre Brown, but we wouldn't expect similar production after Brown torched the Panthers for 24 Fantasy points. Still, double digits in Fantasy points would be a safe projection if he's the starter. ... Thomas and Miller have the chance to step in for Bush, with Thomas the priority addition of the two. He had 19 carries for 79 yards and a touchdown against the Jets and one catch for 11 yards. Miller also had nine carries for 48 yards, but Thomas should get the majority of touches at Arizona in Week 4. You can ignore Jorvorskie Lane (0 percent) even though he scored against the Jets. ... Williams had the best game of his young career against the Eagles with 13 carries for 83 yards and one catch for 12 yards. We hope Williams can build off this outing against the Dolphins, especially if Wells is out. ... If McGahee is out, the Broncos could have a three-headed backfield with Knowshon Moreno, Ball and Hillman. The one with the most upside is Hillman, and he should start to see increased playing time, especially if McGahee is out for an extended period. For this week, Ball could do well as the potential starter against the Raiders. ... Woodhead had 15 carries for 34 yards and a touchdown at Baltimore, and he continues to share time with Stevan Ridley with Shane Vereen (foot) out. Bill Belichick is a Woodhead fan, and he could see his touches increase going forward. You can ignore Brandon Bolden (0 percent) for now even though he scored against the Ravens. ... Shonn Greene continues to struggle for the Jets, so you might consider taking a flier on Powell. ... As we said last week, if you want to handcuff Ryan Mathews then put Battle on your roster. ... With Peyton Hillis (ankle) banged up we could see Draughn get an increased role. But as long as Jamaal Charles runs like he did against the Saints there won't be a need for another running back in Kansas City for many touches.

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Wide receivers

Must add: Denarius Moore, Oakland (76 percent), Andrew Hawkins, Bengals (48 percent), Jerome Simpson, Vikings (27 percent), Nate Burleson, Lions (25 percent), Leonard Hankerson, Redskins (14 percent)
Maybe add: Jon Baldwin, Chiefs (22 percent), Golden Tate, Seahawks (6 percent), Julian Edelman, Patriots (4 percent), Cecil Shorts, Jaguars (4 percent), Jeremy Kerley, Jets (4 percent), Ramses Barden, Giants (3 percent), Damaris Johnson, Eagles (0 percent)
Desperation add: Michael Floyd, Cardinals (16 percent), T.Y. Hilton, Colts (3 percent), Armon Binns, Bengals (1 percent), T.J. Graham, Bills (1 percent), Travis Benjamin, Browns (0 percent)
The breakdown: I felt Moore was the best Raiders receiver in the offseason, but his hamstring injury put him behind Darrius Heyward-Bey. Now that Moore is healthy and Heyward-Bey was knocked out against the Steelers in Week 3, we should see Moore emerge as Palmer's favorite target. Moore had 10 targets against Pittsburgh and finished with five catches for 45 yards and a touchdown. He has the potential to be a Top 25 Fantasy receiver this season. ... What more does Hawkins have to do for you to add him? He has a touchdown in each of the past two games with 32 Fantasy points over three games. He is finding ways to produce as at least a No. 3 Fantasy receiver. ... Simpson is eligible to return this week from his three-game suspension. With the way Ponder is playing, he could turn into a quality playmaker starting in Week 4 against the Lions. ... Burleson (12) had the same amount of targets as Calvin Johnson in Week 3 and finished with 10 catches for 69 yards and a touchdown. He's not going away yet with Titus Young still not producing at a consistent level. … Hankerson will remain a significant contributor even when Pierre Garcon (foot) returns. He has six catches for 124 yards and a touchdown in his past two games on 10 targets, and he could become a No. 3 Fantasy receiver. … Baldwin could see increased value with Dexter McCluster (shoulder) out. … Edelman scored against the Ravens and could see increased targets with Aaron Hernandez (ankle) out. ... Barden was amazing against the Panthers with nine catches for 138 yards on 10 targets, but his role will be limited with Hakeem Nicks (foot) back. … Shorts now has two touchdowns in three games and could see more targets with Laurent Robinson (concussion) hurt. ... Johnson did well with Jeremy Maclin (hip) out with five catches for 84 yards on 11 targets. If Maclin remains out, owners in deeper leagues should consider adding Johnson. ... Kerley has two touchdowns in three games and could help Sanchez with Stephen Hill (hamstring) hurt. ... Did Tate do something this week? I might have missed it (#sarcasm). Despite the controversial play against the Packers, he might turn into the best receiver for the Seahawks.

Tight ends

Must add: Greg Olsen, Panthers (70 percent), Kyle Rudolph, Vikings (63 percent), Heath Miller, Steelers (39 percent)
Maybe add: Jared Cook, Titans (60 percent)
Desperation add: Joel Dreessen, Broncos (5 percent), Jordan Cameron, Browns (1 percent)
The breakdown: I was ready to give up on Olsen after his performance to start the season with seven catches for 69 yards through two games, but he impressed me against the Giants with seven catches for 98 yards on 14 targets. Hopefully this is a sign of things to come, and he's worth adding or holding onto depending on his status in your league. ... What more does Rudolph have to do to make you add him? He had two touchdowns against the 49ers and now has three in two games. He's off to a better start this season than Antonio Gates, Jermichael Finley and Jason Witten, and he's worth owning over Fred Davis, Jacob Tamme and Owen Daniels. ... Miller is off in Week 4, but he had two touchdowns against the Raiders and now has four scores in three games. That kind of production is hard to ignore, and he should be added and stashed for the rest of the season. ... Cook would be a must add if he didn't get hurt in Week 3. He left the game against the Lions with a shoulder injury after he had four catches for 77 yards and a touchdown. If he's OK then pick him up heading into Week 4 at Houston. ... Dreessen scored against the Texans, but he and Tamme will continue to split production. ... Cameron has potential and played well against the Bills with five catches for 45 yards, but he has a long way to go before Fantasy owners can trust him.

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

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Player News
Seahawks without three offensive lineman on Wednesday
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(8:31 pm ET) The Seahawks did not have three of their offensive linemen at practice on Wednesday, according to ESPN.

Max Unger, Russell Okung and J.R. Sweezy were all held out. Unger has missed the past four games due to an ankle and knee issue. He was able to practice last Friday, but did not play on Sunday. Okung is dealing with a bruised lung, but there's a chance he'll recover in time for Sunday's game. "[Okung is] going to have some stuff done [Thursday] that will let us know where he sits and all that," head coach Pete Carrol said. "He’s not out of the plan yet."

Sweezy is dealing with an ankle injury. His appearance on the injury report comes as somewhat of a surprise. 


Lions pick up CB Josh Thomas
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(8:21 pm ET) The Lions have claimed cornerback Josh Thomas on waivers, according to the New York Post

Thomas was cut by the Jets on Tuesday, but found a new job quickly. He's played in three games this season, registering two tackles. 


Seahawks' Marshawn Lynch sits out on Wednesday
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(7:49 pm ET) Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch did not practice on Wednesday.

Lynch has been using Wednesday as a veteran's day all season, so the move isn't a big surprise. He's been battling a back injury throughout most of the season, but has been able to play through it. Lynch has 1133 rushing yards, with 10 touchdowns, this year. 


Texans' DeAndre Hopkins unable to practice on Wednesday
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(6:57 pm ET) Texans wideout DeAndre Hopkins did not practice on Wednesday.

Hopkins is dealing with an ankle injury, and was unable to go. Hopkins has played in all 14 games this season. He has 1167 yards on 69 receptions. Hopkins has caught six touchdowns. His status will likely be determined based on how much he is able to practice on Thursday and Friday. 


49ers WR Michael Crabtree misses practice Wednesday
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(6:57 pm ET) 49ers wideout Michael Crabtree did not practice Wednesday due to a knee injury, reports CSNBayArea.com. Crabtree, who has not cleared 60 receiving yards since Week 11, isn't believed to be seriously hurt.

He's scheduled to play the Chargers on Saturday night. If Crabtree can't go, it could mean increased targets for fellow starter Anquan Boldin.


Raiders QB Derek Carr limited by thumb injury
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(6:49 pm ET) Raiders quarterback Derek Carr was limited in Wednesday's practice with a thumb injury, but coach Tony Sparano isn't too concerned, reports CSNBayArea.com. Carr has thrown one or zero touchdown passes in four of his past five games entering Sunday's contest against Buffalo.

Report: Jay Cutler to be benched Week 16
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(6:47 pm ET) The Bears will bench starting quarterback Jay Cutler Week 16 against the Lions, according to ESPN.

The move comes as a big surprise given the seven-year, $126 million contract Cutler signed in January. Cutler has had a big problem with turnovers this season, throwing 18 interceptions and fumbling 12 times. The move could mark the end of Cutler's season as the starter, and puts his future in Chicago in jeopardy. 

The team will turn to Jimmy Clausen to replace Cutler.


Texans RB Arian Foster held out Wednesday
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(6:40 pm ET) Texans running back Arian Foster did not practice Wednesday with what the team called a hip injury. Foster was listed on the injury report last week with a groin injury, then racked up 117 yards from scrimmage on 29 touches at Indy.

Foster, who might just be getting a veteran's rest day, is expected to start Sunday against the Ravens. Houston is a 5.5-point underdog at Caesars Palace Race and Sports Book.


Report: Bears to start Jimmy Clausen Week 16
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(6:39 pm ET) The Bears will start Jimmy Clausen Week 16 against the Lions, according to ESPN.

The move comes as a major surprise. While Jay Cutler has faced scrutiny for his body language and demeanor, the team handed him a seven-year, $126 million contract last season. The move seems to indicate that Cutler is done for the season, and puts his career with the Bears in jeopardy.

Clausen has seen time in three games this season, completing three passes in nine attempts. His last start came back in 2010, his rookie season. That year, Clausen threw for 1,558 yards, with three touchdowns against nine interceptions. 

The Lions are currently 7-point favorites, according to VegasInsider.com.


Brandon LaFell, Shane Vereen limited for Patriots
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(6:23 pm ET) Patriots wideout Brandon LaFell and running back Shane Vereen were limited in practice on Wednesday.

LaFell is dealing with a shoulder injury. Vereen was listed with an ankle issue. Both players have been active for every game this season. Their statuses will be determined by how much work they can put in on Thursday and Friday.


 
 
 
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