Category Archives: NFL

49ers’ Gutsy Comeback Falls Short In Home-Opener Loss To Rams

SANTA CLARA (AP) — Jared Goff threw for 292 yards and three touchdowns and Todd Gurley ran for two TDs and caught another to help the Los Angeles Rams put up another big offensive performance with a 41-39 victory over the San Francisco 49ers on Thursday night. The NFL’s lowest-scoring team last year looks like a completely different outfit this season under first-year coach Sean McVay thanks to vastly improved play by Goff after a rough rookie season as the No. 1 overall pick. The Rams (2-1) have also been helped by the additions of receivers Sammy Watkins and Robert Woods and the play-calling of McVay as they have scored 107 points through three games. That’s the second-most in franchise history, trailing only the 119 by “The Greatest Show on Turf” squad in 2000. This win didn’t come easy as the Rams nearly blew a 15-point lead, giving up two late touchdowns, fumbling a kickoff return and failing to recover an onside kick. But Los Angeles managed to stop a potential game-tying 2-point conversion and then used an offensive pass interference penalty against Trent Taylor and a fourth-down sack by Aaron Donald to stop the Niners after the onside kick. The 49ers (0-3) scored five touchdowns after failing to get any the first two weeks but still came up short in part because a missed extra point by Robbie Gould forced them to try for 2 on their late touchdown. This time it was a tired defense that hurt San Francisco. After facing 79 plays in a 12-9 loss at Seattle on Sunday, the 49ers appeared to run out of gas on the short week as Goff frequently had wide-open receivers, especially on third down. All three of Goff’s touchdown passes came on third down, including a 13-yard pass to Watkins early in the fourth quarter that gave Los Angeles a 41-26 lead. The Rams needed all that offense on a night where Brian Hoyer threw for 332 yards and two touchdowns and ran for another score. QUICK START: The Rams took just 12 seconds to get on the board as Nickell Robey-Coleman intercepted Hoyer on the first play from scrimmage and returned it to the 3-yard line. Gurley ran it in on the next play to give the Rams a 7-0 lead. DROUGHT BUSTER: The 49ers came into the game without a touchdown on the season but broke through in the first quarter with some help from the Rams. After Blake Countess jumped offside on a punt, the Niners took advantage of the second opportunity and drove to score on Hoyer’s 9-yard run 126:43 into the season. That was the longest it took a team to score its first TD since 2006 when both Tampa Bay (143:03) and Oakland (127:10) took more time. FOURTH DOWN CALLS: Both teams drove to the opposing 1 on their opening drives of the second half with help from a Willie Mays-style basket catch by Watkins and a perfect toe drag on the sideline by San Francisco’s Pierre Garcon. But the Rams opted to kick a short field goal, while the 49ers went for it and converted on Carlos Hyde’s 1-yard run that cut Los Angeles’ lead to 27-20. Hyde added a second 1-yard run on fourth down in the fourth quarter. INJURIES: Rams S Lamarcus Joyner left the game in the first half with a hamstring injury. … Los Angeles C John Sullivan injured his groin in the second half and Watkins and Tavon Austin left with concussions. … 49ers S Jaquiski Tartt (concussion), FB Kyle Juszczyk (neck), DL Tank Carradine (ankle) and LB Brock Coyle (concussion) all left with injuries in the second half. UP NEXT: The 49ers visit Arizona. © Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed

Anybody Going?: The Lo-Down – 9/21

Hour 1
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Levi’s Stadium (Photo by: Dave Mason)

In the first hour of the Lo-Down the guys discussed what Major League Baseball should do to make it safer for fans, after a toddler was injured at Yankees Stadium yesterday. Next, Steve Berman, Bay Area Sports Guy, joined the guys to talk about the San Francisco 49ers and the trouble they have at Levi’s Stadium to bring in fans.  All that and more on The Lo-Down exclusively on Sports 1140 KHTK daily from 12-3PM.   Hour 2
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(Photo by TIMOTHY A. CLARY/Getty Images)

In the second hour of the show the guys started with, “One Small Thought,” and broke down the AFC.  The guys also talked about Richard Sherman’s comments about injury reports, and the real reason why teams are required to have them. They also talked about Charles Barkley’s comments about the schedule changes in the NBA.  All that and more on The Lo-Down exclusively on Sports 1140 KHTK daily from 12-3PM.   Hour 3
SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 17: Running back Carlos Hyde #28 of the San Francisco 49ers fends off linebacker K.J. Wright #50 of the Seattle Seahawks during the second quarter game at CenturyLink Field on September 17, 2017 in Seattle, Washington.

(Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

In the final hour of the Lo-Down Nate Lundy, The Fantasy Football Hour, joined the guys for their weekly segment to get your Fantasy Football team set.  The guys then previewed some of the NFL games this Sunday, and talked about tonight’s Thursday Night Football game and the attendance problem of the 49ers.  All that and more on The Lo-Down exclusively on Sports 1140 KHTK daily from 12-3PM.   You can Subscribe, Rate, and Review The Lo-Down Podcast HERE, and you can Like Us on Facebook.

Bears’ Kyle Long Practices In Full For First Time This Season

By Chris Emma– LAKE FOREST, Ill. (CBS) — Bears guard Kyle Long described the hold-up in his return to the practice field like pilots going through their pre-flight check list. Finally, it seems he’s ready for takeoff. Long practiced in full Thursday for the first time since suffering a ligament damage in a gruesome ankle injury last November. He had surgery to repair the ligament damage shortly after and had been rehabbing back with the goal of playing in the regular-season opener. However, that hope was derailed after suffering a setback in August while pushing too hard, as he revealed Wednesday at Halas Hall. “I was going to be ready to go during training camp and I tried to do some stuff, and I think I went a little fast,” Long said. “So, back to the patience. It’s like when you have your two pilots at the front of your plane and they’re going through all their checklists pre-flight. The last thing you want to do is have a guy who just gets in and turns the engine on and says, ‘Let’s go.’ You want to make sure everything is checked off before you go down the runway.” With Long returning, it remains to be seen how the Bears will handle their offensive line against the Steelers on Sunday. Right guard Josh Sitton (ribs) didn’t participate in practice Thursday while reserve guard Tom Compton was limited with a hip injury. The Bears played Compton in Long’s spot at left guard and slid Bradley Sowell in at right guard after the injury to Sitton in a loss to the Buccaneers last Sunday. The Bears return to practice Friday at Halas Hall for one more full-go before Sunday’s game. It’s likely that final determinations will be made 90 minutes prior to kickoff with the inactives list. Thursday’s injury report listed Sitton and linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski (chest) as not practicing due to injury. Compton (hip), defensive lineman Akiem Hicks (shoulder), running back Jordan Howard (shoulder) and receiver Kendall Wright (shoulder) were limited in work. The Bears did get cornerback Prince Amukamara, running back Benny Cunningham and quarterback Mark Sanchez back to full participation along with Long. Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago’s sports scene and more for CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670 and like his Facebook page.

Bears’ Prince Amukamara Primed For His Opportunity

By Chris Emma— LAKE FOREST, Ill. (CBS) – Prince Amukamara signed with the Bears eager to prove his place as a shutdown cornerback and earn a home in Chicago. Two games into his one-year deal, he hasn’t seen the field. Hampered by an ankle sprain since the third preseason game, Amukamara will make his Bears debut Sunday. He’s ready for this new opportunity after watching Chicago start 0-2 and also hopeful to showcase his abilities after experiencing disappointment in a couple regards. Amukamara has played just one full season in his six-year career and was shut out of the interception log last season with the Jaguars. “I’m excited for this week to be my debut,” Amukamara said Thursday at Halas Hall. “It’s been definitely frustrating, especially with my career so far and just putting it out there, not being able to play all 16 (games), but can’t really worry about that. Have to worry about the 14 ahead of me and do the best I can to help this team out.” It remains to be seen whether Amukamara will start. Kyle Fuller, the team’s 2014 first-round pick, has managed well in Amukamara’s absence the last two weeks. Most importantly, Fuller has been healthy after missing the entire 2016 season. So the particular rotation remains unclear. “I like where he’s at,” defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said of Fuller. “I like the direction he’s heading in. I think he’s playing better than he played in ’15. Has he been perfect? No. But I like where’s at. We’ll see how it shakes down with him and Prince and how that works this week based upon on how Prince does throughout the week.” Added Bears coach John Fox: “I can’t see how that goes right now. It looks like (Amukamara is) in pretty good shape. We’ll make all those decisions an hour-and-a-half before kickoff.” Prior to his injury, Amukamara was looking strong in the offseason program and training camp. He was active around the football and showing the kind of knack that general manager Ryan Pace envisioned for a defense that was dead last takeaways a season ago. Then came the ankle injury, which put him on the sidelines. “Well, I would hope my hands still work,” Amukamara joked. “And that’s what practice is for, getting the same looks, getting my body doing those same movements and getting back used to the whole routing. Ben (Roethlisberger) is not a guy that throws a lot of picks, and we’re going to have to work for ours up there.” If the opportunity for a key role comes, Amukamara will be playing catch-up after missing two weeks of work. He was allowed to walk from Jacksonville after an unfulfilling season and was sent into free agency, where a one-year deal in Chicago was the best he could muster. Amukamara is out to prove he can be a top cornerback in this league. The personal motivation is at least present. “I would say for now that’s probably in the back of my mind, if I’m going to be authentic,” he said. “I feel like if I’m just out there playing I feel like everything is going to take care of itself.” Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago’s sports scene and more for CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670 and like his Facebook page.

Broncos’ Anderson Returns From 2016 Injury With A Vengeance

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) — You can rattle off all sorts of reasons C.J. Anderson is back to being one of the NFL’s top running backs 11 months after a right knee injury cut short his 2016 season. Marathon bike rides. Improved O-line. New power running scheme. Better backfield competition. Perhaps nothing explains his return to excellence as much as what he said at his locker this week. “I’m back to playing undrafted.” No more satisfaction for having won a Super Bowl. No more exhaling after signing a big contract. No more challenging the plays that are called. Hitting the bike trails around Denver has helped his cardiovascular conditioning so much so that he didn’t even break a sweat on his 15-mile ride on his day off Tuesday.
You no longer see him tapping his helmet for a backup to come in and spell him for a bit.
anderso iso catch 55 Broncos Anderson Returns From 2016 Injury With A Vengeance

CJ Anderson (credit: CBS)

“Just trying to push through, just trying day by day to stay in the shape that I want to be in,” Anderson said. “And I’ve always said being on the field more presents more opportunities and I want to continue to keep that going.” In two games, Anderson has 199 yards and a touchdown on 45 carries and 43 yards and a score on four catches. Not bad numbers for a guy who was in danger of losing his starting job to running back Devontae Booker when training camp began following the second-year pro’s progression in Mike McCoy’s new offense. When Booker reported to camp, he mentioned during his physical that he still couldn’t lift weights like he wanted to after spraining his right wrist at the end of OTAs in June.
cj anderson Broncos Anderson Returns From 2016 Injury With A Vengeance

Broncos running back CJ Anderson (credit: CBS)

Alarmed, the Broncos sent him for X-rays, which revealed a hairline fracture that needed surgery and would keep him out for two months. Booker appears ready to return to the lineup, but it’s clearly Anderson’s job now.
Pushed by free agent Jamaal Charles and rookie De’Angelo Henderson, Anderson had a terrific training camp and insists he’s not concerned about his heavy workload through two weeks. “I’m good,” Anderson said. “Good sore is always good. I don’t count touches. I just play. And I try to keep my body and myself on a routine throughout the week so I can be just as fresh as I was last Sunday. The goal is to be fresh when I walk into Buffalo.” The Broncos (2-0) hit the road for the first time this season when they face the Bills (1-1) and their stout front seven that limited Panthers running back Jonathan Stewart to 40 yards on 15 carries last weekend.
Quarterback Paxton Lynch #12 of the Denver Broncos hands the ball off to C.J. Anderson #22 in the first quarter of the game against the Atlanta Falcons at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on October 9, 2016 in Denver, Colorado.

C.J. Anderson (Photo Credit: Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)

Anderson has 49 touches so far and he scoffs at the notion he can’t maintain a heavy workload. “I’m 26 years old,” he said. “So, I’m fine.” Just last year, Anderson had 47 touches through two weeks. But after rushing for 107 yards and a touchdown against Houston on Oct. 24, he showed up at work the next day with a stiff right knee that would require surgery. That ended his — and, really, Denver’s — season. In the offseason, fans feared the chip on his shoulder was of the chocolate variety after seeing pictures of him a little heavier than usual.
His bike riding helped him take the pounds off and build up his cardiovascular conditioning.
anderson tilt up walking injured 48 Broncos Anderson Returns From 2016 Injury With A Vengeance

CJ Anderson (credit: CBS)

“I do believe I’m in the best shape of my life,” Anderson said. “I thought I started hot last year, but I am doing some things recovery-wise, to keep my body fresh and to keep my mind fresh.” He said he’s learned from veterans Demaryius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders and Aqib Talib, adding, “my life has changed a little bit financially so now I can afford some of those other toys that have helped those veterans stay healthy for 16 weeks.” He won’t say what those toys are, however. “I like to keep my secrets my secrets.” What is obvious is that Anderson is the perfect lead back for the Broncos’ new and improved offense. “He’s a short and compact runner that can break tackles. He presents a small tackle surface. If you tackle him high, you go over the top. If you tackle him low, he bounces off,” coach Vance Joseph said. “He is the perfect body type in my opinion to be a first, second or third down force for us.” By ARNIE STAPLETON, AP Pro Football Writer (© Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Broncos’ Anderson Returns From 2016 Injury With A Vengeance

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) — You can rattle off all sorts of reasons C.J. Anderson is back to being one of the NFL’s top running backs 11 months after a right knee injury cut short his 2016 season. Marathon bike rides. Improved O-line. New power running scheme. Better backfield competition. Perhaps nothing explains his return to excellence as much as what he said at his locker this week. “I’m back to playing undrafted.” No more satisfaction for having won a Super Bowl. No more exhaling after signing a big contract. No more challenging the plays that are called. Hitting the bike trails around Denver has helped his cardiovascular conditioning so much so that he didn’t even break a sweat on his 15-mile ride on his day off Tuesday.
You no longer see him tapping his helmet for a backup to come in and spell him for a bit.
anderso iso catch 55 Broncos Anderson Returns From 2016 Injury With A Vengeance

CJ Anderson (credit: CBS)

“Just trying to push through, just trying day by day to stay in the shape that I want to be in,” Anderson said. “And I’ve always said being on the field more presents more opportunities and I want to continue to keep that going.” In two games, Anderson has 199 yards and a touchdown on 45 carries and 43 yards and a score on four catches. Not bad numbers for a guy who was in danger of losing his starting job to running back Devontae Booker when training camp began following the second-year pro’s progression in Mike McCoy’s new offense. When Booker reported to camp, he mentioned during his physical that he still couldn’t lift weights like he wanted to after spraining his right wrist at the end of OTAs in June.
cj anderson Broncos Anderson Returns From 2016 Injury With A Vengeance

Broncos running back CJ Anderson (credit: CBS)

Alarmed, the Broncos sent him for X-rays, which revealed a hairline fracture that needed surgery and would keep him out for two months. Booker appears ready to return to the lineup, but it’s clearly Anderson’s job now.
Pushed by free agent Jamaal Charles and rookie De’Angelo Henderson, Anderson had a terrific training camp and insists he’s not concerned about his heavy workload through two weeks. “I’m good,” Anderson said. “Good sore is always good. I don’t count touches. I just play. And I try to keep my body and myself on a routine throughout the week so I can be just as fresh as I was last Sunday. The goal is to be fresh when I walk into Buffalo.” The Broncos (2-0) hit the road for the first time this season when they face the Bills (1-1) and their stout front seven that limited Panthers running back Jonathan Stewart to 40 yards on 15 carries last weekend.
Quarterback Paxton Lynch #12 of the Denver Broncos hands the ball off to C.J. Anderson #22 in the first quarter of the game against the Atlanta Falcons at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on October 9, 2016 in Denver, Colorado.

C.J. Anderson (Photo Credit: Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)

Anderson has 49 touches so far and he scoffs at the notion he can’t maintain a heavy workload. “I’m 26 years old,” he said. “So, I’m fine.” Just last year, Anderson had 47 touches through two weeks. But after rushing for 107 yards and a touchdown against Houston on Oct. 24, he showed up at work the next day with a stiff right knee that would require surgery. That ended his — and, really, Denver’s — season. In the offseason, fans feared the chip on his shoulder was of the chocolate variety after seeing pictures of him a little heavier than usual.
His bike riding helped him take the pounds off and build up his cardiovascular conditioning.
anderson tilt up walking injured 48 Broncos Anderson Returns From 2016 Injury With A Vengeance

CJ Anderson (credit: CBS)

“I do believe I’m in the best shape of my life,” Anderson said. “I thought I started hot last year, but I am doing some things recovery-wise, to keep my body fresh and to keep my mind fresh.” He said he’s learned from veterans Demaryius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders and Aqib Talib, adding, “my life has changed a little bit financially so now I can afford some of those other toys that have helped those veterans stay healthy for 16 weeks.” He won’t say what those toys are, however. “I like to keep my secrets my secrets.” What is obvious is that Anderson is the perfect lead back for the Broncos’ new and improved offense. “He’s a short and compact runner that can break tackles. He presents a small tackle surface. If you tackle him high, you go over the top. If you tackle him low, he bounces off,” coach Vance Joseph said. “He is the perfect body type in my opinion to be a first, second or third down force for us.” By ARNIE STAPLETON, AP Pro Football Writer (© Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Cubs’ Kris Bryant Supports Bears Starting Mitchell Trubisky: ‘Give Him A Chance’

(CBS) One Chicago sports star has weighed in on the great debate surrounding the individual whom the city hopes is the next great star here. Reigning National League MVP and Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant supports the idea of the Bears starting rookie Mitchell Trubisky at quarterback. “I mean, give him a chance,” Bryant said with a laugh when the topic was brought up by hosts Jason Goff and Anthony Herron on 670 The Score on Thursday afternoon. “You’ll never know unless he’s out there playing.” Bryant didn’t provide much more analysis, but he echoed a belief that many around Chicago have as the Bears have started 0-2 with Mike Glennon under center. Glennon struggled mightily in a 29-7 loss at Tampa Bay on Sunday, committing three first-half turnovers that doomed the Bears. The No. 2 overall pick in April’s draft, Trubisky impressed in the preseason and currently sits at No. 2 on the depth chart. The Bears have made clear Glennon will start when they host the Steelers (2-0) on Sunday at Soldier Field. “That will definitely get your heart pumping a little bit — everybody knows what I did in my first game,” Bryant said of making a professional debut, referencing his 0-for-4 game with three strikeouts in his big league debut back in April 2015.

Aaron Hernandez Lawyer: Brain Showed ‘Severe’ Case Of CTE

BOSTON (AP) — Aaron Hernandez’s lawyer says the former New England Patriots tight end’s brain showed severe signs of the degenerative brain disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy. In a news conference at his offices, attorney Jose Baez says testing showed that Hernandez had a severe case of the disease. CTE can be caused by repeated head trauma and leads to symptoms like violent mood swings, depression and other cognitive difficulties. Hernandez killed himself in April in the jail cell where he was serving a life-without-parole sentence for a 2013 murder. His death came just hours before the Patriots visited the White House to celebrate their latest Super Bowl victory. CTE can only be diagnosed in an autopsy. A recent study found evidence of the disease in 110 of 111 former NFL players whose brains were examined. CTE has been linked with repeated concussions and involves brain damage particularly in the frontal region that controls many functions including judgment, emotion, impulse control, social behavior and memory. A star for the University of Florida when it won the 2008 title, Hernandez dropped to the fourth round of the NFL draft because of trouble in college that included a failed drug test and a bar fight. His name had also come up in an investigation into a shooting. In three seasons with the Patriots, Hernandez joined Rob Gronkowski to form one of the most potent tight end duos in NFL history. In 2011, his second season, Hernandez caught 79 passes for 910 yards and seven touchdowns to help the team reach the Super Bowl, and he was rewarded with a $40 million contract. But the Patriots released him in 2013, shortly after he was arrested in the killing of semi-pro football player Odin Lloyd, who was dating the sister of Hernandez’s fiancee. Hernandez was convicted and sentenced to life in prison; the conviction was voided because he died before his appeals were exhausted, though that decision is itself being appealed. A week before his suicide, Hernandez was acquitted in the 2012 drive-by shootings of two men in Boston. Prosecutors had argued that Hernandez gunned the two men down after one accidentally spilled a drink on him in a nightclub, and then got a tattoo of a handgun and the words “God Forgives” to commemorate the crime. Copyright 2017 The Associated Press.

Fantasy Football Week 3 Starts And Sits

By Matt Citak The 2017 NFL season has been rather unpredictable thus far. From a slew of injuries to significant fantasy football players, to rookie running backs bursting onto the scene, to average veteran quarterbacks suddenly looking like studs, it feels like we have seen it all in the first two weeks of the season. And yet, we still have 15 weeks to go. Strap in folks, it’s going to be an interesting season. Here are Week 3’s Fantasy Football Starts and Sits.

Starts

QB: Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers The season has not started the way Newton would have liked. While leading Carolina to a 2-0 record against the 49ers and Bills, the quarterback has amassed only 399 passing yards, two touchdowns, and one interception through two games. It is clear the shoulder he had surgery on during the offseason is still not 100%, but each week Newton looks a little more comfortable on the field. This week, Newton has the pleasure of facing New Orleans and their Swiss cheese secondary. The Saints have given up 25.5 and 30.8 fantasy points to Sam Bradford and Tom Brady, respectively, and have surrendered league highs in completion percentage, passing yards, and touchdowns on throws at least 15 yards downfield. Newton has done well when targeting his receivers downfield, and with Greg Olsen out for a while, he will need to rely on his receivers a lot more. The Saints couldn’t be a more perfect matchup to get Newton back on track. QB: Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions Stafford did not put up a monster game against the Giants on Monday, but a big reason for that was the game script. The 29-year-old attempted just four passes in the second half due to Detroit having the lead and New York’s stifling pass defense. Still, Stafford threw for two touchdowns on a 71.4 completion percentage, and has a very appetizing matchup this week. The Lions will welcome the Atlanta Falcons to Detroit on Sunday in what should be a very high-scoring affair, and I fully expect Stafford and Matt Ryan to put on a show. Stafford’s six touchdowns is currently tied with Trevor Siemian for the league lead, and the Lions QB is likely to add a few more to his total against a weak Atlanta secondary. QB: Jay Cutler, Miami Dolphins Let me preface this by saying I would only start Cutler if you’re looking for a streaming option at quarterback this week. That said, Cutler has a fantastic matchup as he faces his new divisional rival, the New York Jets. The Jets allowed over 19 fantasy points to both Tyrod Taylor and Derek Carr in the first two weeks of the season, with the latter completing 82.1 percent of his passes for three touchdowns. At this point in his career, Cutler is certainly not as good as Carr. But even so, the 34-year-old threw for 230 yards with a 72.7 completion percentage against the Chargers and their surprisingly solid secondary last week. Cutler is still rather new to the Dolphins offense, and should continue to improve the more he gets accustomed to the system. The Jets have allowed the fifth-highest rate of touchdowns per drive this season, which means Cutler and the Dolphins offense should have a field day on Sunday.
gettyimages 848533432 e1506018730183 Fantasy Football Week 3 Starts And Sits

Credit: Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

RB: Isaiah Crowell, Cleveland Browns If you’re like me and drafted Crowell early in your fantasy football drafts this year, you have to be disappointed with his performance thus far this season. 27 carries for 70 yards is hardly what you want to see out of one of your starting running backs. However, it’s important to keep in mind that while those numbers are rather awful, Crowell was facing two of the league’s better run defenses in the Steelers and Ravens. But in Week 3, the Browns go on the road to take on the Indianapolis Colts, and are actually favored for the first time since Week 14 of the 2015 season. If the Browns are able to control time of possession, Crowell should get a heavy workload on Sunday. While the start of his season has not been pretty, this week starts a three-week stretch where he gets to face the Colts, Bengals, and Jets. Look for Crowell to begin his season turnaround on Sunday. RB: Mike Gillislee, New England Patriots Gillislee is currently leading the league with four rushing touchdowns through the first two weeks of the season. It is very clear that he has taken over for LeGarrette Blount in the Patriots offense, which is great news if you have Gillislee on your team. During his career in New England, Blount averaged over a touchdown and 14.5 fantasy points per game when the Patriots have won by a touchdown or more. New England enters Week 3 as two touchdown favorites over the Houston Texans, which should mean plenty of opportunities for Gillislee to score. The bruising running back is also leading the league in carries inside the 5-, 10, and 20-yard lines, just like Blount did last year. If the Pats build up a big lead as expected, they will likely turn to Gillislee to help close out the game in the second half.
gettyimages 848543682 e1506018799690 Fantasy Football Week 3 Starts And Sits

Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images

RB: Theo Riddick, Detroit Lions Riddick has done nothing on the ground to impress this season, carrying the ball 10 times for 19 yards. However he has made his presence felt in the passing game, as he has racked up nine receptions for 44 yards in big wins over the Cardinals and Giants. The Lions will face their toughest matchup thus far this season on Sunday with the Falcons coming to Detroit. But it’s Atlanta’s offense that should worry the Lions, not its defense. The Falcons defense led the league in receptions and receiving yards allowed to backs last season, and through two weeks, have surrendered 14 catches for 122 yards and two touchdowns to Tarik Cohen and Ty Montgomery. Riddick is tied for second on the team with 10 targets. In a PPR league, the pass-catching back is a strong option in what should be a shootout on Sunday. WR: Kelvin Benjamin, Carolina Panthers Similar to Newton, the start of the season has not gone as well as Benjamin would have hoped. After putting up a dud of a game in Week 1 with only one reception for 25 yards, the 6-foot-5 receiver bounced back with a solid effort against Buffalo in Week 2, catching six passes for 77 yards. A lot of Benjamin’s success rides on the health of his quarterback, and as noted above, Newton is slowly inching closer to being 100 percent recovered from shoulder surgery. Benjamin is a little banged up himself, as he is already dealing with a knee injury along with soreness in his ribs. A matchup against the Saints is just what the doctor ordered, for both Benjamin and Newton. New Orleans has already surrendered 13 or more fantasy points to three different receivers this season. Look for Benjamin to become the fourth, especially with Olsen out. WR: DeVante Parker, Miami Dolphins With the Dolphins making their 2017 debut in Week 2 due to Hurricane Irma, Parker was forced to open the season with a dreadful matchup against Casey Hayward and the LA Chargers. Even so, Parker was able to reel in four of nine targets for 85 yards against one of the league’s toughest shutdown corners. Cutler showed in his Dolphins debut that he is not afraid to throw the ball up to Parker down the field and let his big receiver jump up and get it (evidenced by Parker’s impressive leaping grab in which he leaped and reached over Hayward to make the catch). Parker received a ton of praise from the Dolphins coaching staff throughout the offseason, and got his season off to a good start in Week 2. This week he faces a Jets defense that just allowed Michael Crabtree to catch six of six targets for 80 yards and three touchdowns. Expect a big game from Parker. WR: Rashard Higgins, Cleveland Browns Higgins is a perfect example to show that anything can happen in the NFL. The 22-year-old receiver was cut by Cleveland right before the start of the season and found himself on the Browns practice squad. He was promoted to the active roster prior to last week’s game against the Ravens, and responded by catching seven receptions on 11 targets for 95 yards. With Corey Coleman out with a broken hand, Higgins has gone from practice squad to the Browns’ number one receiver in just two weeks. In their first game together, DeShone Kizer showed an obvious level of trust with the young receiver, as his 11 targets was four more than anyone else on the team. Higgins gets the Colts in Week 3, who have allowed Cooper Kupp and JJ Nelson to each score at least 13 fantasy points in the past two games. Although you probably had not heard of him before Sunday, Higgins could be worth a start this week.
gettyimages 8486697601 e1506018856501 Fantasy Football Week 3 Starts And Sits

Credit: Rob Carr/Getty Images

TE: Martellus Bennett, Green Bay Packers While Bennett’s eight receptions for 90 yards through the Packers’ first two games is far from stellar, the numbers show that the fantasy points should start coming. Bennett is third among the league’s tight ends with 17 targets, trailing only Jason Witten and Zach Ertz. Wide receivers Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson were both hurt in last week’s loss against the Falcons. Even if both return to the field on Sunday, they will be limited at best. Rodgers will have to lean on his new tight end, along with Devante Adams, with his top two receiving options hobbled by injuries. Bennett is due for a breakout performance, and with the hapless Bengals coming to Lambeau Field on Sunday, this week could be the time. TE: Jack Doyle, Indianapolis Colts I had Doyle in the “Sit” section last week, and boy was I wrong. With Jacoby Brissett under center instead of Scott Tolzien, Doyle caught eight of eight targets for 79 yards in the Colts’ Week 2 overtime loss against the Cardinals. The tight end served as Brissett’s safety valve, and should continue to do so until Andrew Luck can return to the field. This week the Colts take on a Browns team that has been abused by tight ends over the first two games of the season. Both Pittsburgh’s Jesse James (six catches for 41 yards and two touchdowns) and Baltimore’s Benjamin Watson (eight receptions for 91 yards) had strong performances against this Cleveland defense, and Doyle should follow suit. The Colts tight end could end up being the top fantasy performer in this game.

Sits

QB: Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks Wilson has not looked good thus far this season, and his Week 2 performance against the 49ers looks better than it actually was. Wilson finished the game with 198 passing yards on a 59.0 completion percentage, with one touchdown and 34 yards rushing. While the San Francisco defense is certainly improved from last year, it’s hard to imagine they are THAT good. This week the Seahawks face the Tennessee Titans, who were the NFL’s most blitz-heavy defense last season and led in pressures per game. Wilson put up his poor performance last week with the 49ers pressuring him 21 times, or 46.7 percent of his dropbacks, and that was without starting linebacker Reuben Foster. With Seattle’s offensive line struggling as much as it has been, along with the strong possibility that they will be without starting tight end Jimmy Graham, I’m staying away from Wilson this week. QB: Carson Wentz, Philadelphia Eagles This has less to do with Wentz and more to do with his matchup this week. As much as the Giants have been struggling this season, their defense is still one of the league’s best. New York held Dak Prescott and Stafford to 18 fantasy points or less in the first two contests, and only Aaron Rodgers, Kirk Cousins, and Ben Roethlisberger have scored more than 20 against the Giants’ defense since the start of the 2016 season. While the matchup will be less daunting if cornerback Janoris Jenkins is unable to take the field, Wentz will be in for a long day regardless. While the second-year quarterback looks like he could finish as a top 10 QB this season, I would not feel comfortable with him in my starting lineup this Sunday.
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QB: Eli Manning, New York Giants With the way they have played in the first two weeks, it’s hard to trust anyone on the Giants right now (save for Odell Beckham Jr.). The offensive line has looked beyond atrocious, and unless New York pulls off a trade for an offensive tackle, it’s hard to imagine Manning being a viable fantasy option at any point this season. The Eagles defensive line has looked good to start the year, and should have no issues getting pressure on Manning early and often. After Detroit sacked him five times on Monday night, the Eagles defensive linemen are likely licking their chops at the thought of this matchup. Unless Ereck Flowers can suddenly learn how to block, Manning should be in for a rough day. RB: DeMarco Murray, Tennessee Titans If you drafted Murray in the early rounds of your draft, I hope you picked up Derrick Henry later on. Henry has outplayed the veteran back through the first two games, gaining 5.9 yards per carry compared to Murray’s 3.3. Murray is dealing with a hamstring injury, which likely has played a large role in him earning Pro Football Focus’ third-worst grade among running backs so far this year. Even if he plays on Sunday, Murray will be going up against Seattle and their elite defense. The Seahawks ranked second in the league in yards per carry allowed last season, and did a great job at limiting Ty Montgomery (2.8 yards per carry on 19 rushing attempts) in Week 1. If you have another solid option at running back, I’d keep Murray on the bench until he can prove he is healthy and still effective. RB: Jordan Howard, Chicago Bears I know I know, Howard and Murray were both drafted as top 10 running backs with the assumption that they would be able to start basically every week throughout the season. Benching a back like that is tough, but at the end of the day, is likely the smartest option. Howard has seen his workload decrease pretty significantly with the emergence of Tarik Cohen. Cohen has already proven to be a better option for the Bears on passing downs, but he’s also been more explosive than Howard running the ball in the first two games. Add in the fact that the Steelers have limited Isaiah Crowell and Dalvin Cook to 66 total yards or less in each contest this year, not to mention Howard is dealing with a shoulder injury, and you realize that this is a nightmare matchup for the talented second-year running back. Howard might be tough to sit, so if you do keep him in your lineup, don’t expect a big game.
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RB: Mark Ingram, New Orleans Saints The timeshare in the Saints backfield has been incredibly frustrating for anyone that drafted Ingram on their fantasy team. Through the first two games of the season, Ingram has actually looked good in his limited touches. The 27-year-old back has carried the ball 14 times for 69 yards (4.9 yards per carry) while adding nine receptions for 78 yards. However until New Orleans can admit that signing Adrian Peterson was a bad idea, Ingram will be tough to trust for fantasy purposes. Peterson has looked ineffective with his 14 carries, yet Sean Payton continues to give him the ball. Ingram is one of the Saints’ best offensive players, but until they move on from Peterson, starting the former Alabama running back is a definite risk. With the Saints facing the Panthers and their top run defense this week, it’s best to stay away from any New Orleans running back. WR: Stefon Diggs, Minnesota Vikings If Sam Bradford is forced to miss his second consecutive game, and the Vikings put Case Keenum out there at quarterback, then I am avoiding all of Minnesota’s receiving options this week. Diggs was fantastic in the season opener, catching seven passes for 93 yards and two touchdowns. But in Week 2 with Keenum at QB, the receiver’s numbers dropped to two receptions for 27 yards and no touchdowns. Tampa Bay certainly isn’t the toughest matchup in the NFL, but they have improved on the defensive side of the ball from last year. Keenum spread the ball around against the Steelers last week, targeting Diggs, Kyle Rudolph, Adam Thielen, and Laquon Treadwell six times each. This does not bode well for Diggs’ fantasy outlook. If Bradford can’t go on Sunday, Diggs is likely better off on your bench. WR: Dez Bryant, Dallas Cowboys Bryant started the 2017 season with two very tough matchups against Janoris Jenkins and the Giants and Aqib Talib and the Broncos. Despite going up against two of the league’s top shutdown corners, Bryant has managed nine receptions for 102 yards and a touchdown thus far. In Week 3, Bryant has the unfortunate luck of having to battle against another one of the NFL’s top corners in Patrick Peterson. Peterson ranks best among all cornerbacks in fantasy points allowed per route in coverage over the last three seasons, and the last time these two teams played, Peterson held Bryant to just two catches on 10 targets for 15 yards and a touchdown. The best chance Bryant has of recording even a decent fantasy game is if he can somehow find the end zone.
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WR: Rishard Matthews, Tennessee Titans Matthews figured to play a large role in the Titans offense this year after his strong campaign in Nashville last season. While that has not been the case through the first two games of the season, I do expect him to eventually get a lot more looks from Marcus Mariota. However that may not be the case this week against the Seahawks. Seattle has allowed fewer than 159 yards per game to opposing receiving corps since the start of last season, thus making the entire Titans receiving crew poor plays this week. I like the rapport between Mariota and Matthews, and fully expect the receiver, along with Corey Davis, to put together solid seasons. But don’t expect that to begin in Week 3. TE: Tyler Eifert, Cincinnati Bengals Even though the tight end position has been rather weak this season, Eifert has to be one of fantasy football’s bigger busts so far. The tight end has managed to catch only four passes on five targets for 46 yards. Throughout his career, the only knock on the talented tight end has been his inability to remain on the field. Well, we’re only two weeks into the season and Eifert is already dealing with knee and back injuries. The entire Cincinnati offense has looked awful in 2017, which led to the firing of offensive coordinator Ken Zampese last week. Other than A.J. Green, it will be very difficult to trust any other Bengal until the team shows some signs of improvement. The struggles of the offense, along with his nagging injuries, make Eifert an easy player to bench this week.
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TE: Jason Witten, Dallas Cowboys Don’t get me wrong, Witten has looked amazing this season. The 35-year-old has 17 receptions for 156 yards and two touchdowns through the season’s first two games. Yes, Witten is still producing like a top tight end despite being one of the oldest at the position in the NFL. But in Week 3, the Cowboys take on the Cardinals, who have been very stingy against opposing tight ends since the start of last season. Over the last 18 games, Arizona has allowed only two touchdowns to a tight end, and only one tight end has scored double digits in fantasy points in a standard league over that span. With the lack of depth at tight end this year, it will probably be hard to bench Witten, despite the tough matchup. Just don’t expect another huge game from the veteran tight end this week. Matt Citak is a producer for CBS Local Sports and a proud Vanderbilt alum. Follow him on Twitter or send comments to mcitak@cbs.com.

Fantasy Football Week 3 Starts And Sits

By Matt Citak The 2017 NFL season has been rather unpredictable thus far. From a slew of injuries to significant fantasy football players, to rookie running backs bursting onto the scene, to average veteran quarterbacks suddenly looking like studs, it feels like we have seen it all in the first two weeks of the season. And yet, we still have 15 weeks to go. Strap in folks, it’s going to be an interesting season. Here are Week 3’s Fantasy Football Starts and Sits.

Starts

QB: Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers The season has not started the way Newton would have liked. While leading Carolina to a 2-0 record against the 49ers and Bills, the quarterback has amassed only 399 passing yards, two touchdowns, and one interception through two games. It is clear the shoulder he had surgery on during the offseason is still not 100%, but each week Newton looks a little more comfortable on the field. This week, Newton has the pleasure of facing New Orleans and their Swiss cheese secondary. The Saints have given up 25.5 and 30.8 fantasy points to Sam Bradford and Tom Brady, respectively, and have surrendered league highs in completion percentage, passing yards, and touchdowns on throws at least 15 yards downfield. Newton has done well when targeting his receivers downfield, and with Greg Olsen out for a while, he will need to rely on his receivers a lot more. The Saints couldn’t be a more perfect matchup to get Newton back on track. QB: Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions Stafford did not put up a monster game against the Giants on Monday, but a big reason for that was the game script. The 29-year-old attempted just four passes in the second half due to Detroit having the lead and New York’s stifling pass defense. Still, Stafford threw for two touchdowns on a 71.4 completion percentage, and has a very appetizing matchup this week. The Lions will welcome the Atlanta Falcons to Detroit on Sunday in what should be a very high-scoring affair, and I fully expect Stafford and Matt Ryan to put on a show. Stafford’s six touchdowns is currently tied with Trevor Siemian for the league lead, and the Lions QB is likely to add a few more to his total against a weak Atlanta secondary. QB: Jay Cutler, Miami Dolphins Let me preface this by saying I would only start Cutler if you’re looking for a streaming option at quarterback this week. That said, Cutler has a fantastic matchup as he faces his new divisional rival, the New York Jets. The Jets allowed over 19 fantasy points to both Tyrod Taylor and Derek Carr in the first two weeks of the season, with the latter completing 82.1 percent of his passes for three touchdowns. At this point in his career, Cutler is certainly not as good as Carr. But even so, the 34-year-old threw for 230 yards with a 72.7 completion percentage against the Chargers and their surprisingly solid secondary last week. Cutler is still rather new to the Dolphins offense, and should continue to improve the more he gets accustomed to the system. The Jets have allowed the fifth-highest rate of touchdowns per drive this season, which means Cutler and the Dolphins offense should have a field day on Sunday.
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RB: Isaiah Crowell, Cleveland Browns If you’re like me and drafted Crowell early in your fantasy football drafts this year, you have to be disappointed with his performance thus far this season. 27 carries for 70 yards is hardly what you want to see out of one of your starting running backs. However, it’s important to keep in mind that while those numbers are rather awful, Crowell was facing two of the league’s better run defenses in the Steelers and Ravens. But in Week 3, the Browns go on the road to take on the Indianapolis Colts, and are actually favored for the first time since Week 14 of the 2015 season. If the Browns are able to control time of possession, Crowell should get a heavy workload on Sunday. While the start of his season has not been pretty, this week starts a three-week stretch where he gets to face the Colts, Bengals, and Jets. Look for Crowell to begin his season turnaround on Sunday. RB: Mike Gillislee, New England Patriots Gillislee is currently leading the league with four rushing touchdowns through the first two weeks of the season. It is very clear that he has taken over for LeGarrette Blount in the Patriots offense, which is great news if you have Gillislee on your team. During his career in New England, Blount averaged over a touchdown and 14.5 fantasy points per game when the Patriots have won by a touchdown or more. New England enters Week 3 as two touchdown favorites over the Houston Texans, which should mean plenty of opportunities for Gillislee to score. The bruising running back is also leading the league in carries inside the 5-, 10, and 20-yard lines, just like Blount did last year. If the Pats build up a big lead as expected, they will likely turn to Gillislee to help close out the game in the second half.
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RB: Theo Riddick, Detroit Lions Riddick has done nothing on the ground to impress this season, carrying the ball 10 times for 19 yards. However he has made his presence felt in the passing game, as he has racked up nine receptions for 44 yards in big wins over the Cardinals and Giants. The Lions will face their toughest matchup thus far this season on Sunday with the Falcons coming to Detroit. But it’s Atlanta’s offense that should worry the Lions, not its defense. The Falcons defense led the league in receptions and receiving yards allowed to backs last season, and through two weeks, have surrendered 14 catches for 122 yards and two touchdowns to Tarik Cohen and Ty Montgomery. Riddick is tied for second on the team with 10 targets. In a PPR league, the pass-catching back is a strong option in what should be a shootout on Sunday. WR: Kelvin Benjamin, Carolina Panthers Similar to Newton, the start of the season has not gone as well as Benjamin would have hoped. After putting up a dud of a game in Week 1 with only one reception for 25 yards, the 6-foot-5 receiver bounced back with a solid effort against Buffalo in Week 2, catching six passes for 77 yards. A lot of Benjamin’s success rides on the health of his quarterback, and as noted above, Newton is slowly inching closer to being 100 percent recovered from shoulder surgery. Benjamin is a little banged up himself, as he is already dealing with a knee injury along with soreness in his ribs. A matchup against the Saints is just what the doctor ordered, for both Benjamin and Newton. New Orleans has already surrendered 13 or more fantasy points to three different receivers this season. Look for Benjamin to become the fourth, especially with Olsen out. WR: DeVante Parker, Miami Dolphins With the Dolphins making their 2017 debut in Week 2 due to Hurricane Irma, Parker was forced to open the season with a dreadful matchup against Casey Hayward and the LA Chargers. Even so, Parker was able to reel in four of nine targets for 85 yards against one of the league’s toughest shutdown corners. Cutler showed in his Dolphins debut that he is not afraid to throw the ball up to Parker down the field and let his big receiver jump up and get it (evidenced by Parker’s impressive leaping grab in which he leaped and reached over Hayward to make the catch). Parker received a ton of praise from the Dolphins coaching staff throughout the offseason, and got his season off to a good start in Week 2. This week he faces a Jets defense that just allowed Michael Crabtree to catch six of six targets for 80 yards and three touchdowns. Expect a big game from Parker. WR: Rashard Higgins, Cleveland Browns Higgins is a perfect example to show that anything can happen in the NFL. The 22-year-old receiver was cut by Cleveland right before the start of the season and found himself on the Browns practice squad. He was promoted to the active roster prior to last week’s game against the Ravens, and responded by catching seven receptions on 11 targets for 95 yards. With Corey Coleman out with a broken hand, Higgins has gone from practice squad to the Browns’ number one receiver in just two weeks. In their first game together, DeShone Kizer showed an obvious level of trust with the young receiver, as his 11 targets was four more than anyone else on the team. Higgins gets the Colts in Week 3, who have allowed Cooper Kupp and JJ Nelson to each score at least 13 fantasy points in the past two games. Although you probably had not heard of him before Sunday, Higgins could be worth a start this week.
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TE: Martellus Bennett, Green Bay Packers While Bennett’s eight receptions for 90 yards through the Packers’ first two games is far from stellar, the numbers show that the fantasy points should start coming. Bennett is third among the league’s tight ends with 17 targets, trailing only Jason Witten and Zach Ertz. Wide receivers Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson were both hurt in last week’s loss against the Falcons. Even if both return to the field on Sunday, they will be limited at best. Rodgers will have to lean on his new tight end, along with Devante Adams, with his top two receiving options hobbled by injuries. Bennett is due for a breakout performance, and with the hapless Bengals coming to Lambeau Field on Sunday, this week could be the time. TE: Jack Doyle, Indianapolis Colts I had Doyle in the “Sit” section last week, and boy was I wrong. With Jacoby Brissett under center instead of Scott Tolzien, Doyle caught eight of eight targets for 79 yards in the Colts’ Week 2 overtime loss against the Cardinals. The tight end served as Brissett’s safety valve, and should continue to do so until Andrew Luck can return to the field. This week the Colts take on a Browns team that has been abused by tight ends over the first two games of the season. Both Pittsburgh’s Jesse James (six catches for 41 yards and two touchdowns) and Baltimore’s Benjamin Watson (eight receptions for 91 yards) had strong performances against this Cleveland defense, and Doyle should follow suit. The Colts tight end could end up being the top fantasy performer in this game.

Sits

QB: Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks Wilson has not looked good thus far this season, and his Week 2 performance against the 49ers looks better than it actually was. Wilson finished the game with 198 passing yards on a 59.0 completion percentage, with one touchdown and 34 yards rushing. While the San Francisco defense is certainly improved from last year, it’s hard to imagine they are THAT good. This week the Seahawks face the Tennessee Titans, who were the NFL’s most blitz-heavy defense last season and led in pressures per game. Wilson put up his poor performance last week with the 49ers pressuring him 21 times, or 46.7 percent of his dropbacks, and that was without starting linebacker Reuben Foster. With Seattle’s offensive line struggling as much as it has been, along with the strong possibility that they will be without starting tight end Jimmy Graham, I’m staying away from Wilson this week. QB: Carson Wentz, Philadelphia Eagles This has less to do with Wentz and more to do with his matchup this week. As much as the Giants have been struggling this season, their defense is still one of the league’s best. New York held Dak Prescott and Stafford to 18 fantasy points or less in the first two contests, and only Aaron Rodgers, Kirk Cousins, and Ben Roethlisberger have scored more than 20 against the Giants’ defense since the start of the 2016 season. While the matchup will be less daunting if cornerback Janoris Jenkins is unable to take the field, Wentz will be in for a long day regardless. While the second-year quarterback looks like he could finish as a top 10 QB this season, I would not feel comfortable with him in my starting lineup this Sunday.
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QB: Eli Manning, New York Giants With the way they have played in the first two weeks, it’s hard to trust anyone on the Giants right now (save for Odell Beckham Jr.). The offensive line has looked beyond atrocious, and unless New York pulls off a trade for an offensive tackle, it’s hard to imagine Manning being a viable fantasy option at any point this season. The Eagles defensive line has looked good to start the year, and should have no issues getting pressure on Manning early and often. After Detroit sacked him five times on Monday night, the Eagles defensive linemen are likely licking their chops at the thought of this matchup. Unless Ereck Flowers can suddenly learn how to block, Manning should be in for a rough day. RB: DeMarco Murray, Tennessee Titans If you drafted Murray in the early rounds of your draft, I hope you picked up Derrick Henry later on. Henry has outplayed the veteran back through the first two games, gaining 5.9 yards per carry compared to Murray’s 3.3. Murray is dealing with a hamstring injury, which likely has played a large role in him earning Pro Football Focus’ third-worst grade among running backs so far this year. Even if he plays on Sunday, Murray will be going up against Seattle and their elite defense. The Seahawks ranked second in the league in yards per carry allowed last season, and did a great job at limiting Ty Montgomery (2.8 yards per carry on 19 rushing attempts) in Week 1. If you have another solid option at running back, I’d keep Murray on the bench until he can prove he is healthy and still effective. RB: Jordan Howard, Chicago Bears I know I know, Howard and Murray were both drafted as top 10 running backs with the assumption that they would be able to start basically every week throughout the season. Benching a back like that is tough, but at the end of the day, is likely the smartest option. Howard has seen his workload decrease pretty significantly with the emergence of Tarik Cohen. Cohen has already proven to be a better option for the Bears on passing downs, but he’s also been more explosive than Howard running the ball in the first two games. Add in the fact that the Steelers have limited Isaiah Crowell and Dalvin Cook to 66 total yards or less in each contest this year, not to mention Howard is dealing with a shoulder injury, and you realize that this is a nightmare matchup for the talented second-year running back. Howard might be tough to sit, so if you do keep him in your lineup, don’t expect a big game.
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RB: Mark Ingram, New Orleans Saints The timeshare in the Saints backfield has been incredibly frustrating for anyone that drafted Ingram on their fantasy team. Through the first two games of the season, Ingram has actually looked good in his limited touches. The 27-year-old back has carried the ball 14 times for 69 yards (4.9 yards per carry) while adding nine receptions for 78 yards. However until New Orleans can admit that signing Adrian Peterson was a bad idea, Ingram will be tough to trust for fantasy purposes. Peterson has looked ineffective with his 14 carries, yet Sean Payton continues to give him the ball. Ingram is one of the Saints’ best offensive players, but until they move on from Peterson, starting the former Alabama running back is a definite risk. With the Saints facing the Panthers and their top run defense this week, it’s best to stay away from any New Orleans running back. WR: Stefon Diggs, Minnesota Vikings If Sam Bradford is forced to miss his second consecutive game, and the Vikings put Case Keenum out there at quarterback, then I am avoiding all of Minnesota’s receiving options this week. Diggs was fantastic in the season opener, catching seven passes for 93 yards and two touchdowns. But in Week 2 with Keenum at QB, the receiver’s numbers dropped to two receptions for 27 yards and no touchdowns. Tampa Bay certainly isn’t the toughest matchup in the NFL, but they have improved on the defensive side of the ball from last year. Keenum spread the ball around against the Steelers last week, targeting Diggs, Kyle Rudolph, Adam Thielen, and Laquon Treadwell six times each. This does not bode well for Diggs’ fantasy outlook. If Bradford can’t go on Sunday, Diggs is likely better off on your bench. WR: Dez Bryant, Dallas Cowboys Bryant started the 2017 season with two very tough matchups against Janoris Jenkins and the Giants and Aqib Talib and the Broncos. Despite going up against two of the league’s top shutdown corners, Bryant has managed nine receptions for 102 yards and a touchdown thus far. In Week 3, Bryant has the unfortunate luck of having to battle against another one of the NFL’s top corners in Patrick Peterson. Peterson ranks best among all cornerbacks in fantasy points allowed per route in coverage over the last three seasons, and the last time these two teams played, Peterson held Bryant to just two catches on 10 targets for 15 yards and a touchdown. The best chance Bryant has of recording even a decent fantasy game is if he can somehow find the end zone.
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WR: Rishard Matthews, Tennessee Titans Matthews figured to play a large role in the Titans offense this year after his strong campaign in Nashville last season. While that has not been the case through the first two games of the season, I do expect him to eventually get a lot more looks from Marcus Mariota. However that may not be the case this week against the Seahawks. Seattle has allowed fewer than 159 yards per game to opposing receiving corps since the start of last season, thus making the entire Titans receiving crew poor plays this week. I like the rapport between Mariota and Matthews, and fully expect the receiver, along with Corey Davis, to put together solid seasons. But don’t expect that to begin in Week 3. TE: Tyler Eifert, Cincinnati Bengals Even though the tight end position has been rather weak this season, Eifert has to be one of fantasy football’s bigger busts so far. The tight end has managed to catch only four passes on five targets for 46 yards. Throughout his career, the only knock on the talented tight end has been his inability to remain on the field. Well, we’re only two weeks into the season and Eifert is already dealing with knee and back injuries. The entire Cincinnati offense has looked awful in 2017, which led to the firing of offensive coordinator Ken Zampese last week. Other than A.J. Green, it will be very difficult to trust any other Bengal until the team shows some signs of improvement. The struggles of the offense, along with his nagging injuries, make Eifert an easy player to bench this week.
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TE: Jason Witten, Dallas Cowboys Don’t get me wrong, Witten has looked amazing this season. The 35-year-old has 17 receptions for 156 yards and two touchdowns through the season’s first two games. Yes, Witten is still producing like a top tight end despite being one of the oldest at the position in the NFL. But in Week 3, the Cowboys take on the Cardinals, who have been very stingy against opposing tight ends since the start of last season. Over the last 18 games, Arizona has allowed only two touchdowns to a tight end, and only one tight end has scored double digits in fantasy points in a standard league over that span. With the lack of depth at tight end this year, it will probably be hard to bench Witten, despite the tough matchup. Just don’t expect another huge game from the veteran tight end this week. Matt Citak is a producer for CBS Local Sports and a proud Vanderbilt alum. Follow him on Twitter or send comments to mcitak@cbs.com.