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Waiver Wire: Battle for success?

Senior Fantasy Writer
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Every Ryan Mathews owner who is in a panic after what happened in Week 4 at Kansas City needs to calm down. Mathews is going to be fine, starting this week at New Orleans.

The reason Mathews didn't start at the Chiefs was probably punishment for his fumble in Week 3 against Atlanta. But Mathews is not going to play second fiddle to Jackie Battle for long.

That said, Battle is now a must-add running back this week. He won't remain the starter, but Battle has earned a role with the Chargers in some capacity after he had two touchdowns and 81 total yards against his former team. He now has four total touchdowns on the season, which is more than Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson and Marshawn Lynch.

Keep in mind that as talented as Mathews is, the Chargers have only used him in tandem during his career since he previously shared touches with Mike Tolbert. Battle could easily step into Tolbert's role this season as a complementary option to Mathews.

So even if Battle never has another game at this level, he is worth the gamble of adding and stashing. We know Mathews has trouble staying healthy, and if he goes down then Battle is the handcuff.

Some other big performances we'll address this week include Brandon Bolden and Brian Hartline, and we'll remind you once again that Ryan Fitzpatrick should be owned in all leagues. It also appears that Domenik Hixon and James Jones can be viable injury replacements for Hakeem Nicks (knee) and Greg Jennings (groin), respectively.

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

Must add: Ryan Fitzpatrick, Bills (74 percent), Christian Ponder, Vikings (50 percent)
Maybe add: Kevin Kolb, Cardinals (17 percent), Ryan Tannehill, Dolphins (12 percent), Matt Hasselbeck, Titans (2 percent)
Desperation add: Tim Tebow, Jets (12 percent)
The breakdown: Fitzpatrick doesn't have the best matchup in Week 5 at San Francisco, but he's playing well enough that you can consider him a solid bye-week replacement with Tony Romo, Matthew Stafford, Carson Palmer and Josh Freeman all off. He overcame four interceptions against the Patriots in Week 4 to still get 31 Fantasy points in a standard league, and he has at least 19 Fantasy points in every game this year. You might not start Fitzpatrick every week, but he should be owned in all leagues since he currently is a Top 12 Fantasy quarterback. ... Ponder was a huge letdown in Week 4 against the Lions with four Fantasy points, but he could have a rebound game at home against the miserable Titans, who have allowed multiple passing touchdowns in every game this season. If you need a bye-week replacement you might consider giving Ponder another chance in Week 5. ... Hasselbeck might start if Jake Locker (shoulder) is out for an extended period of time, and he could do well against the Vikings. He threw two touchdowns against the Texans in Week 4 after Locker went down, but he also had two interceptions. ... Kolb may have turned the page on his dismal 2011 to become a decent Fantasy option in 2012. He has 47 Fantasy points in his past two games after a nice showing against the Dolphins in Week 4, and he faces the Rams on Thursday night this week. If you're stuck for a starter this week you could give Kolb a chance as your No. 1 option in deeper leagues. ... The same goes for Tannehill in Week 5 against the Bengals, who have been suspect against opposing quarterbacks this year. He had 431 passing yards at the Cardinals in Week 4, but he managed just one touchdown and two interceptions. Still, this game could be a catalyst for the rookie, especially with the way Hartline and Davone Bess played. ... It's clear that Mark Sanchez's days as a starting quarterback are numbered, and the Jets might be forced to turn to Tebow soon to spark their offense. Sanchez and Tebow each had zero Fantasy points against the 49ers in Week 4, but Sanchez attempted 29 passes to Tebow's one, with Sanchez completing only 13 for 103 yards. We know how Tebow has done each of the past two years for Fantasy owners when given a chance to start, so keep him on your radar.

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Running backs

Must add: Jackie Battle, Chargers (36 percent)
Maybe add: Bilal Powell, Jets (46 percent), LeGarrette Blount, Buccaneers (44 percent), Kendall Hunter, 49ers (39 percent), Danny Woodhead, Patriots (26 percent), Ronnie Hillman, Broncos (24 percent), Joique Bell, Lions (7 percent), Brandon Bolden, Patriots (0 percent)
Desperation add: Lance Ball, Broncos (7 percent), Vick Ballard, Colts (4 percent), Marcel Reece, Raiders (1 percent), James Casey, Texans (0 percent), Jorvorskie Lane, Dolphins (0 percent)
The breakdown: Another reason to like Battle this week is his matchup with the Saints. New Orleans has now allowed five running backs to reach double digits in Fantasy points this season in Alfred Morris, DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart, Jamaal Charles and Cedric Benson, and there should be enough touches for Mathews and Battle to both have good games. Consider Battle a flex option this week. ... Bolden is interesting because even though Stevan Ridley is playing great this season, including 22 Fantasy points at Buffalo in Week 4, you never know how Bill Belichick might use his running backs. In deeper leagues, you might want to stash Bolden. The same goes for Woodhead as each running back has scored in consecutive games. ... Blount had a touchdown in Week 4 against the Redskins and looks like the red-zone running back going forward. Doug Martin still has plenty of value, but he could lose his scoring chances to Blount, which increases his value in standard formats. ... Powell is still worth adding since the Jets offense needs a makeover, and Hunter and Hillman remain handcuff options to monitor. ... Bell has supplanted Kevin Smith as the No. 2 running back for the Lions behind Mikel Leshoure. He might even be worth a gamble in PPR leagues since he had six catches for 72 yards in Week 4 against the Vikings. For the second week in a row Smith did not touch the ball. ... Ballard is worth keeping an eye on following the Colts' bye week to see if his role will increase as the No. 2 running back behind Donald Brown.

Wide receivers

Must add: Mike Williams, Buccaneers (67 percent), Kendall Wright, Titans (44 percent), James Jones, Packers (36 percent), Brian Hartline, Dolphins (33 percent), Andre Roberts, Cardinals (12 percent), Domenik Hixon, Giants (1 percent)
Maybe add: Greg Little, Browns (51 percent), Jerome Simpson, Vikings (48 percent), Davone Bess, Dolphins (27 percent), Jeremy Kerley, Jets (18 percent), T.Y. Hilton, Colts (13 percent)
Desperation add: Donald Jones, Bills (4 percent), Joe Morgan, Saints (0 percent)
The breakdown: Hartline had 12 catches for 253 yards and a touchdown in Week 4 at Arizona on 19 targets. As a result, he is now the No. 3 receiver in standard leagues with 51 Fantasy points behind A.J. Green (60) and Roddy White (57), and he is No. 3 in targets with 48 behind Dwayne Bowe and Victor Cruz, who each have 49. No matter what you think of Tannehill or the Dolphins offense, Hartline is worth adding in all leagues. ... Hixon, not Ramses Barden, stepped up in Week 4 at Philadelphia with Nicks out. He had six catches for 114 yards on 11 targets, while Barden had two catches for 36 yards on four targets. Keep in mind Hixon was ahead of Barden on the depth chart to start the season, and Barden's big game in Week 3 at Carolina (nine catches for 138 yards) came when Hixon was out with a concussion. Of course if Nicks returns in Week 5 against Cleveland then Hixon's value will be limited. ... Jennings left Week 4 against the Saints and Jones finished the game with five catches for 56 yards and two touchdowns. He now has three touchdowns on the season and two games with double digits in Fantasy points. The problem is the one game Jennings missed in Week 2 against Chicago, Jones finished with two catches for minus-1 yard, but he dropped a touchdown in that game. Still, if this groin problem continues to linger for Jennings than Jones will have increased value. ... In three-receiver leagues you should definitely consider Williams, Roberts and Wright as bye-week replacements. Williams has a touchdown or 100 yards receiving in three of four games, Roberts has four touchdowns on the season and Wright has two touchdowns in his past three games. Of this trio, Roberts would be the one to target this week, and he continues to benefit with plenty of single coverage opposite Larry Fitzgerald. ... Bess is starting to improve with 12 catches for 209 yards in his past two games against the Jets and Cardinals on 19 targets, and he should remain productive as the complementary option to Hartline. ... Kerley might see an increase in production with Santonio Holmes (foot) hurt, but the Jets will likely spread targets around to Stephen Hill, Chaz Schilens and Dustin Keller as well, making none of the Jets receivers must-add options.

Tight ends

Must add: Heath Miller, Steelers (73 percent), Greg Olsen, Panthers (72 percent), Scott Chandler, Bills (39 percent)
Maybe add: Marcedes Lewis, Jaguars (20 percent)
Desperation add: Joel Dreessen, Broncos (5 percent)
The breakdown: Miller and Chandler have done a fantastic job of finding the end zone and both are Top 10 tight ends entering Week 5. They each have four touchdowns and Miller's scores have come in just three games. They are great bye-week replacements, especially Chandler at the 49ers, who have allowed four touchdowns to tight ends already this year. ... Olsen had another big game for the second week in a row with six catches for 89 yards and a touchdown at Atlanta. He now has 13 catches for 187 yards and a touchdown against the Giants and Falcons in consecutive weeks on 21 targets and is back as a must-own tight end. ... Lewis isn't someone to start most weeks, but if you're stuck for a bye-week replacement then he could be a home run pick. He has two touchdowns in four games and two games with a combined one catch for 8 yards. He only has nine targets on the season, but Jason Witten just destroyed the Bears defense on Monday night.

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
Ben Roethlisberger deserves to start
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(10/29/2014) It goes without saying that Ben Roethlisberger's six-touchdown, 522-yard performance Week 8 against Indianapolis was a once-in-a-blue-moon thing, and I stand by my earlier assessment that he's too inconsistent to start in standard 12-team leagues. But that's more for those weeks when every quarterback is available. With six teams on bye, that's certainly not the case in Week 9.

For those owners accustomed to starting Aaron Rodgers, Matthew Stafford, Matt Ryan or Jay Cutler, Roethlisberger may be the best choice. His matchup against Baltimore isn't great. The Ravens rank a suspect 22nd against the pass, giving up 256.0 yards per game, but having allowed just seven touchdowns through the air, they've surrendered the second-fewest Fantasy points per game to quarterbacks. Regardless of the matchup, though, Roethlisberger has a better chance than most of the quarterbacks who might be available of putting up the numbers you're accustomed to.

I'd prefer Carson Palmer, Nick Foles and Cam Newton to him, to name just a few fringy types, but Jamey Eisenberg and Dave Ricahrd both have Roethlisberger in their top 10 for this week.


Brandon LaFell not the only Patriots WR to consider
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(10/29/2014) It's time to give Patriots wide receiver Brandon LaFell a shot in Fantasy -- as in not just owning him, but starting him. If his 11 catches for 124 yards and a touchdown Week 8 against the Bears weren't enough to convince you, his matchup Week 9 against Denver should be.

It's not that the Broncos are so bad against the pass. They rank in the middle of the pack, allowing 242.9 yards per game. It's just that the Patriots' only hope against them is to beat Peyton Manning at his own game. Their passing attack -- at least the version they've shown in the last four weeks -- is good enough to beat anybody when they're motivated to use it.

LaFell appears to have leapfrogged Julian Edelman in the pecking order, but frankly, Edelman might not be such a bad play either. Tom Brady is going to need every weapon at his disposal to outscore Manning and company. Edelman is more of a desperation play than LaFell, I think, advisable only if you're short on startable wide receivers, but Dave Richard likes him enough with this matchup to rank him 24th at the position.


Shane Vereen a better choice than Jonas Gray
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(10/29/2014) By giving the previously unknown Jonas Gray 17 carries for 86 yards Week 8 against Chicago, the Patriots revealed that they'll stick with a two-man backfield even with preferred rusher Stevan Ridley out for the year with a torn ACL and MCL.

But Week 9 against Denver might be a better matchup for preferred receiver Shane Vereen, who also thrived in Week 7 against the Jets. The Broncos, like the Jets, have done a good job stopping the run this season. They rank No. 1, in fact, allowing 72.4 yards per game.

Plus, the Patriots will most likely have to throw more than usual just to keep up with the league's highest-scoring team. These days, a team's only real choice against Peyton Manning is to beat him at his own game.

So most likely, Gray will spend much of Week 9 on the sidelines while Vereen spends much of it in the backfield. Jamey Eisenberg and Dave Richard both rank Vereen among their top 20 running backs for this week.


Vincent Jackson not such a great play
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(10/29/2014) On a day when the Buccaneers couldn't get anything going offensively Week 8 against Minnesota, wide receiver Vincent Jackson was barely involved, catching one pass for 13 yards. He was targeted five times, but for a player who misses a lot of the balls thrown his way, both because of his role in the passing game and his issues with drops, that's a pretty low number. He averaged 10.0 targets in his first six games.

Even worse for Jackson, quarterback Mike Glennon has developed a nice rapport with both Mike Evans and Louis Murphy, and the Buccaneers passing attack isn't prolific enough to sustain three wide receivers. Is it more likely to sustain him than those other two? Yeah, probably. But it'll likely cut into his production regardless.

And it could cut into his production in a big way Week 9 at Cleveland. The Browns don't rank especially high against the pass, but they don't give up many touchdowns through the air, allowing the fourth-lowest quarterback rating of any team this season. Cornerback Joe Haden, who has played better in recent weeks after a slow start, is a big reason for that, and he'll likely go up against Jackson on Sunday.

Neither Jamey Eisenberg nor Dave Richard rank Jackson among their top 30 wide receivers -- and that's in a week with six teams on bye.


Time to the roll the dice on Denard Robinson?
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(10/29/2014) Sitting Denard Robinson the week after his breakout 127-yard effort against the Browns was understandable. It was an outlier performance achieved with an especially favorable matchup, and there was some big talk about Toby Gerhart still playing a big role. But now, after back-to-back 100-yard games, taking a conservative approach with Robinson just seems kind of silly.

Especially since his matchup Week 9 at Cincinnati is, at least on paper, a favorable one. The Bengals rank 29th against the run, allowing 140.7 yards per game, and have given up the eighth-most Fantasy points per game to running backs. And as tough as the Jaguars defense has played in recent weeks, you don't have to worry so much about the Bengals running away with the game, compelling the Jaguars to throw every down.

Calling Robinson a must-start is taking it a bit far. Some people have enviable depth at the position. But in Week 9, Jamey Eisenberg and Dave Richard both rank Robinson among their top 24 running backs, with Dave slotting him as high as 15th.


Is starting Andy Dalton a good idea?
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(10/29/2014) Jamey Eisenberg and Dave Richard both rank the Bengals' Andy Dalton among their top 12 quarterbacks for Week 9, presumably because he's facing the Jaguars. But how did that work out for Ryan Tannehill in Week 8, Brian Hoyer in Week 7 or, yep, even Ben Roethlisberger in Week 5?

I don't know about you, but I'm getting tired of the whole "start Player X against the Jaguars because they're bad" argument. Because they're not. At least not anymore -- not on defense, anyway. The Jaguars have allowed an average of 16.5 points in their last four games, and if not for the Dolphins' two defensive touchdowns in Week 8, it'd be 13.0

True, star wide receiver A.J. Green is looking likely to return from a three-game absence for a toe injury, which would certainly improve Dalton's chances. But again, quality quarterbacks -- namely, Tannehill and Roethlisberger -- have had their full arsenals when they faced the Jaguars, and they still underwhelmed against them. I'm not sure this is Dalton's week.

Now, with so many high-profile quarterbacks (such as Aaron Rodgers, Matthew Stafford, Matt Ryan and Jay Cutler) on bye this week, you may want it to be Dalton's week, but I'd give Carson Palmer, Nick Foles, Cam Newton or Tannehill a shot before I turned to him.


Greg Olsen deserves your trust
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(10/29/2014) Panthers coach Ron Rivera mentioned Monday that the reason tight end Greg Olsen had only one catch for 16 yards in Week 8 is because the Seahawks rotated their coverage toward him, particularly in the red zone. You can understand why they'd do that after Olsen averaged 70.4 yards with four touchdowns in his first four games.

Unfortunately, since the Seahawks limited the Panthers to just nine points in that game, they've invited other teams to emulate them, and while the Saints, Olsen's Week 9 opponent, certainly aren't the Seahawks defensively, they've done good job of containing tight ends this season, giving up the second-fewest Fantasy points per game to them. And that's even though they rank 31st against the pass.

But just because you can make a reasonable case to sit one this year's most productive and reliable tight ends doesn't mean you should follow through with it. Week 8 was just the second time in eight games that Olsen's production didn't justify a starting spot -- a terrific ratio for any player, regardless of position -- and the Saints haven't really faced a team with a top-flight tight end until now.

If quarterback Cam Newton has big numbers in this game -- and the data suggest he should -- Olsen will, too. Keep him active.


Who knows with the Saints wide receivers?
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(10/29/2014) On the road against the Panthers in Week 9, chances are one of the Saints top two wide receivers, be it Marques Colston or Brandin Cooks, will have a big game. The Panthers are tied for the fourth-most passing touchdowns allowed and have given up the fifth-most Fantasy points per game to wide receivers.

So which one? Particularly with Kenny Stills getting involved the last couple weeks, it's become a real crapshoot. Cooks tends to be more of a volume receiver in his good games, but Colston showed with six catches for 111 yards in Week 7 that he can still make an impact as well.

Of course, star tight end Jimmy Graham was basically just a decoy in that game. When his shoulder had recovered enough for him to catch a few passes himself in Week 8, Colston's numbers shrank again. Cooks, meanwhile, had six catches for 94 yards and a touchdown and has generally had an easier time coexisting with Graham.

I'd feel OK about starting Cooks in this one, particularly in points-per-reception leagues. Yeah, he's basically a 50-50 proposition, but that's more than I can say for Colston, particularly with Graham back in the mix. Colston still matters in Fantasy, but mostly in leagues with 14 teams or more.


Kelvin Benjamin could come up big
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(10/29/2014) With the Panthers expected to pass a lot in Week 9 against a Saints team that ranks second in total offense and fifth in scoring offense, wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin figures to be one of the prime beneficiaries. After all, he's emerged as quarterback Cam Newton's preferred downfield target as a rookie and, at 6-feet-5, is a big target in the red zone as well.

After a strong start to the season, his yardage has been hit or miss lately, but generally speaking, when Newton is on, so is Benjamin. And all signs point to a big game for Newton. Not only is that the only way he keeps the Panthers in the game, but the Saints rank 31st against the pass, giving up 289.3 yards per game. They've also allowed the second-most Fantasy points per game to wide receivers.

Considering he's scored a touchdown in five of eight games this season, you're probably starting Benjamin regardless of any matchup data. But you can do so with confidence this week. Both Jamey Eisenberg and Dave Richard rank him among their top 10 wide receivers.


Good chance Cam Newton bounces back
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(10/29/2014) Granted, Cam Newton hasn't been the most predictable quarterback from week to week, and because his production is largely a function of how often and how effectively he runs the ball, that doesn't figure to change. But after a disappointing showing against the Seahawks in Week 8, he should be in for an easier time Week 9 against the Saints.

After all, the Saints' explosive offense combined with their suspect defense predisposes them to shootouts. Of course, the last time I predicted a shootout for the Panthers Week 7 at Green Bay, it didn't go so well for Newton either, but that matchup wasn't as favorable as this one. The Saints rank 31st against the pass, allowing 289.3 yards per game, and have given up the eighth-most Fantasy points per game to quarterbacks.

In a week when high-profile quarterbacks like Aaron Rodgers, Matthew Stafford, Matt Ryan and Jay Cutler are all on bye, I would think someone in a 12-team league would want to start Newton, even if that someone isn't you.


 
 
 
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