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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
Texans' O'Brien: WR DeAndre Hopkins can 'be one of the best'
by Dave Peters | CBSSports.com
(12:28 am ET) Texans head coach Bill O'Brien is very encouraged by the performance of wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins last season, per ESPN. O'Brien went as far as to say that Hopkins can be one of the best.

"He had a really productive year," Texans coach Bill O'Brien said. "The thing that we really like about Hop and that we want him to continue to do is his work ethic. He’s a hungry player. He works every single day. He came into the spring a year ago and he was learning the offense and thinking out there, then all of a sudden you could see all the work he put in and learning, he just took off."

Due to the departure of wide receiver Andre Johnson, the progression of Hopkins will be under the microscope as he is now the focal point of the passing offense.

"We just want to see him continue and progress," O'Brien said. "We think he can be one of the best, we think he is one of the best. We have a lot of confidence in him and we’re looking forward to seeing him progress when the offseason program starts."

In two years with the Texans, Hopkins has reeled in 128 receptions for 2012 yards and eight touchdowns.


Giants won't rush WR Victor Cruz back to the field
by Dave Peters | CBSSports.com
(12:12 am ET) Although Giants head coach Tom Coughlin is hopeful that wide receiver Victor Cruz will be ready by training camp, the team will not rush him back, reports ESPN.

"I shouldn't say this, because medically I really don't have a definite answer, but by training camp hopefully, even if it's just to bring him," Coughlin said. "We're not going to just throw him to the wind. He'll work his way through. But I hope that would be the target."

Cruz tore his patellar tendon in week six of the 2014 season, causing him to miss the rest of the year. Coughlin is hopeful that he'll return to be the player that he was before the injury.

"I think he'll be the player that he was, and hopefully better," Coughlin said of Cruz. "But as far as when, I would be careful of what I would say there. Hopefully it's the first game. But if it isn't, you know we've done that one before. We just went through it. But I'm hoping it would be."

The former undrafted free agent has tallied 264 receptions for 3,963 yards and 24 touchdowns.


Lions QB Matthew Stafford to take more chances through the air
by Dave Peters | CBSSports.com
(3/31/2015) Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford was in new offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi's system for the first time last season. The team plans on taking more chances down the field in Stafford's second season in the new offense, Lombardi said, according to the team's official website.

“In his second year (in the offense) he’s going to be that much more comfortable,” Lombardi said.

“We’ll be able to tailor the offense a little bit more to what he likes and what he’s good at. I thought he played smart football and sometimes to a fault. We’ll look for him to maybe take a few more chances this year with the football.”

Although Stafford didn't take many shots down the field, he did throw a career-low 12 interceptions in 2014. 

The former first overall draft pick has thrown for 21,714 yards with 131 touchdowns and 85 interceptions during his six-year career.


Colts OLB Robert Mathis plans to be ready for training camp
by Dave Peters | CBSSports.com
(3/31/2015) Colts outside linebacker Robert Mathis is not ready to run yet, he told Alex Marvez of SiriusXM NFL. Mathis added that he plans to be ready for the start of training camp.

“It’s not going as fast as I would like to, but we are getting well and we should be clicking in camp,” Mathis told Sirius.

Mathis was suspended for the first four games of last season due to violating the league's substance abuse policy. He then suffered a torn achilles, forcing him to miss all 16 games of the 2014 season.

During his 11-year career with the Colts, Mathis has collected 487 total tackles, 111.0 sacks, 15 passes defensed and 48 forced fumbles.


Lions TE Eric Ebron has been working out with Matthew Stafford
by Dave Peters | CBSSports.com
(3/31/2015) Lions offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi said that tight end Eric Ebron has been working out with quarterback Matthew Stafford in Atlanta this offseason, reports the Detroit News. Lombardi also said that the plan is to have Ebron be the No. 3 weapon in the passing game this year.

Ebron, 21, finished his rookie season with 25 catches for 248 yards and one touchdown. 


Cowboys' Tony Romo: DeMarco Murray asked me to take a pay cut
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(3/31/2015) Eagles running back DeMarco Murray was really hoping to remain with the Cowboys this offseason. So much so, he asked quarterback Tony Romo to take a pay cut to remain with the team, Romo said on 105.3 The Fan in Dallas on Tuesday, per the Dallas Morning News.

"DeMarco ended up asking me, 'Why don't you take a pay cut?' I said, 'I will. I would take a pay cut to go do this,'" Romo said. "I was like, 'They're going to restructure me.' That's the same thing in some ways, just for the salary cap purposes. He was like, 'OK, now we're back to being friends again.' I would take $5 million less if meant getting him back.

"He knew that. It was just funny how he was literally worried about that part of it for a week. I'm like, 'That's not the reason.' I'm like, 'Obviously I'll restructure. I would even take a pay cut.' He was like, 'OK, we can be friends again.' It's amazing what you think about in those moments."


Giants QB Eli Manning wants to take offense 'to another level'
by Dave Peters | CBSSports.com
(3/31/2015) Giants quarterback Eli Manning is entering the second year in offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo's system. Manning is ready to take the next step now that he is familiar with the system, reports the NY Daily News.

““This year will be a much easier transition, knowing that we have been through so much of it already,” said Manning, who recently had been working out at Ole Miss with some of their receivers and alumni. “It’s definitely a different starting point. I feel good about it. I feel that I have a good understanding of it.

“But there is still room to grow and that is why I try to keep it as fresh in my mind as possible. Looking at old game-plan sheets and calling plays in my head – throwing routes with receivers trying to call out plays to myself, so you don’t let it slip away. It was new last year and it wasn’t something I have been doing for 10 years, so you want to keep it fresh and go through your reminders and all your checks. So when we come back I haven’t taken a step backwards and have to re-learn things. It is still all there. There will be new stuff and we will be taking it to another level.”

Manning has started all 16 games in each season since 2005, throwing for 39,755 yards with 259 touchdowns and 185 interceptions.


Saints TE Josh Hill wants to grow into new role
by Dave Peters | CBSSports.com
(3/31/2015) After trading trading Jimmy Graham to the Seahawks, tight end Josh Hill is ready to step into his new role with the Saints, according to the team's offical website.

“I think it might open a few opportunities for me as I continue to grow in my role and just do everything they ask me to do,” Hill said when asked about the trade of Graham to the Seahawks.

Hill recognized that Graham helped him transition from college to the professional level.

“It’s a big difference, especially coming from a smaller school and a smaller city," Hill said. "He was always there for me. We became pretty good friends over the past few years so it will definitely be different without him.”

Head coach Sean Payton believes that Hill is ready to step up.

“Josh Hill is a player that we value a lot," Payton said last week at the NFL annual meeting. "He’s not on anyone’s fantasy first three rounds, I promise you, but he’s a real good tight end. He’s versatile in the running game, in the pass receiving game, a special teams player.”

Hill, heading into his third year in the NFL, has recorded 20 receptions for 220 yards and six touchdowns. 


Cowboys QB Tony Romo excited about this offseason
by Dave Peters | CBSSports.com
(3/31/2015) Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo is excited about what the offseason holds for him, according to ESPN.

“This is the first offseason where I’ve been able to kind of get after it this early and be able to kind of improve in a lot of different areas that I think you aren’t able to until you get healthy enough to attack it,” Romo said on 105.3 The Fan in Dallas on Tuesday. “I’m just excited about that, really.”

Romo, 34, is encouraged by the fact that he is able to do a lot of different things during the offseason process while working out.

“Now I’m able to do that while actually doing functional strength training through different versions of squats,” Romo said. “I’m not putting anything on my back and doing stuff like that but you are doing a lot of single-leg stuff and different things that I started getting into during the season that helped a lot. Now it’s nice to be able to do that in the offseason.”

Romo has thrown for 33,270 yards with 242 touchdowns and 110 interceptions in his 12-year career. 


WR Dwayne Bowe looks to revitalize himself with Browns
by Dave Peters | CBSSports.com
(3/31/2015) Wide receiver Dwayne Bowe is looking to revitalize his career now that he has joined the Browns, reports ESPN. Bowe was cut by the Chiefs in the middle of March.

"I have a chance to revitalize myself," Bowe, 30, told ESPN.com via telephone Tuesday. "Just sit back and watch."

Browns general manager Ray Farmer has familiarity with Bowe from their time with the Chiefs. The two sat down and watched tape from the 2010 season when he racked up 15 touchdown receptions.

"Him knowing what I can do, seeing me in practice, making crazy plays, splitting the safeties, he knows I still can do that," Bowe said. "I couldn't showcase that last year. He was pulling up old plays, saying, 'We are going to use you just like that.' Moving around, going on motion, trying to hit the deep ball, trying to break plays."

The 30-year-old wideout appreciated his time with the Chiefs and he has no regrets.

"It's been up and down, but it's been fun," Bowe said. "I don't regret nothing. People can talk about the NFL and playing wide receiver -- I feel I still have a good four more years in me."

Over his eight-year career, he has totaled 532 receptions for 7,155 yards and 44 touchdowns.


 
 
 
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