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Fantasy Football: Week 14 waiver wire

12.03.13 at 10:20 am ET
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As we look toward what is a playoff week in most fantasy football formats, there certainly are a few solid new options to consider adding. The sad reality is that half of the teams in most leagues just got sent packing, and that obviously cuts down on the competition for talent. Hence, we are concentrating on the better players vs. the depth moves, but we still have a little of both.

If you are looking for deeper options, you can head over to Rotobahn later Tuesday and check out my expanded wire for those in deep formats. As always, I’€™ll be back later this week with Jim Hackett for the Fantasy Football Podcast, plus the starts and sits. Then, on Sunday, I’€™ll be hosting a chat to help with any last-minute lineup issues that you might have. To those of you reading this, please accept our congratulations on making your league’€™s playoffs. Now let’€™s see if we can bring home the fantasy bacon!

QUARTERBACKS

Andy Dalton, Bengals

He’€™s available in about 25 percent of Yahoo! leagues, and that percentage could rise after the stinker that Dalton had in Week 13. Still, we like Dalton’€™s Week 14 matchup, and Week 16 is pretty sweet, too.

  • Week 14 – Colts
  • Week 15 – at Steelers
  • Week 16 – Vikings

Joe Flacco, Ravens

He plays at home vs. the Vikings this week, and that could be enough to make him a great add. As an added bonus, he’€™s playable on all three remaining weeks. In Week 14, Flacco may also see the return of his favorite target, Dennis Pitta.

  • Week 14 – Vikings
  • Week 15 – at Lions
  • Week 16 – Patriots

Carson Palmer, Cardinals

He can’€™t help you Week 16, but he’€™ll be useful this week and next. Palmer has been very good lately, with multiple touchdown passes in five consecutive games. He can help you as a QB2 in most leagues, and you can still add him in 54 percent of Yahoo! leagues.

  • Week 14 – Rams
  • Week 15 – at Titans
  • Week 16 – at Seahawks

EJ Manuel, Bills

He plays a solid, though not incredible, schedule the rest of the way, and he’€™s been getting better in terms of health. Manuel also has scored well the last two weeks, so he can help you if you need to add a QB2 in a 12-team league. His receivers are healthy and he now has C.J. Spiller ripping off big runs, and that could take the edge off of the pass rush going forward.

  • Week 14 – at Buccaneers
  • Week 15 – at Jaguars
  • Week 16 – Dolphins

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Read More: Andy Dalton, Ben Tate, Carson Palmer, EJ Manuel

Following the flags: Tracking Patriots penalties for 2013 season

12.03.13 at 9:55 am ET
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Through 12 games, the Patriots have been flagged for 51 penalties (tied for 30th in the league) for a total of 493 yards (30th). Sunday’s game marked the second time this season they were not flagged for a single penalty. Here’€™s a breakdown of the calls that have gone against the Patriots, not including penalties that were declined or offset:
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Bill Belichick on S&H: Antonio Smith comments likely due to ‘some frustration’

12.03.13 at 9:52 am ET
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Patriots coach Bill Belichick joined Salk & Holley on Monday afternoon to discuss New England’s 34-31 victory over the Texans on Sunday, the decision to bench Stevan Ridley in the game, and Antonio Smith‘s postgame comments regarding the Patriots’ second-half comeback.

Sunday’s game against Houston started off in similar fashion to the Patriots’ previous game against the Broncos, as New England looked sluggish and unfocused over the first two quarters. At the end of the first half, the 2-9 Texans had built a 17-7 lead.

‘€œWe’ve just got to do a better job, I’ve got to do a better job preparing the team for the beginning part of the game. We’€™ve got to do a better job executing then,’€ Belichick said. ‘€œIt wasn’€™t great. I didn’€™t think we took advantage of some of the opportunities that we had and we gave them some, and obviously the interception set them up and fortunately we were able to hold them to three on that.

‘€œWe gave up two good drives defensively. ‘€¦ We were trying to find our rhythm and our execution on a number of things yesterday, and it wasn’€™t a great feeling.’€

New England’s first-half slump would not last, as Tom Brady and company outscored the Texans by a 27-14 margin in the final two quarters to come away with the 34-31 victory.

One notable move that Belichick made before Sunday’s game was to list Ridley as inactive. Despite showing talent out of the backfield with 2,280 career yards in 42 NFL games, Ridley has struggled with holding on to the football, as he has nine fumbles in his career, with six of those being recovered by the opposing team.

‘€œWe make those decisions week to week,’€ Belichick said. ‘€œEvery week, we have to make a decision as to who we feel are the players that we’€™ll activate for the game, and sometimes injuries and the availability of a player takes care of that. After that, it comes down to decisions that we make as a coaching staff. ‘€¦ That’€™s the way that it is every week.’€

After the game, Smith, the Texans defensive lineman, made postgame comments questioning the Patriots’ ability to turn around their play in the second half, calling their adjustments “highly suspicious.” (Smith said Monday that he was joking.)

‘€œI’€™m sure [Houston] is frustrated,’€ Belichick said. They lost to us twice last year and lost to us again down there at home. We’€™ve seen that before and I’€™m sure there was some frustration. ‘€¦ There’€™s nothing we can do about, we just have to worry about what we can do.’€

To hear the interview, go to the Salk & Holley audio on demand page. For more Patriots news, visit the team page at weei.com/patriots.

Read More: Antonio Smith, Bill Belichick, houston texans, New England Patriots

Target Practice: Tracking opportunities in Patriots passing game

12.03.13 at 8:35 am ET
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Targets have been compiled by the NFL since the start of the 2009 season, and while it remains a vaguely imperfect stat ‘€” a badly thrown ball from a quarterback can often go against the record of the receiver as opposed to the quarterback ‘€” it remains a good indication of the confidence level a passer might have in his pass catcher. Here’€™s a look at the target breakdown for the New England passing game after the first 12 games of the 2013 season:

WR Julian Edelman: 70 catches on 101 targets
TE Rob Gronkowski: 37 catches on 61 targets
WR Danny Amendola: 37 catches on 55 targets
WR Aaron Dobson: 35 catches on 72 targets
WR Kenbrell Thompkins: 32 catches on 69 targets
RB Shane Vereen: 28 catches on 38 targets
RB Brandon Bolden: 19 catches on 25 targets
TE Michael Hoomanawanui: 10 catches on 14 targets
RB Stevan Ridley: 9 catches on 10 targets
WR Austin Collie: 3 catches on 7 targets
FB James Develin: 3 catches on 3 targets
WR Josh Boyce: 2 catches on 7 targets
TE Matthew Mulligan: 1 catch on 2 targets
TE Zach Sudfeld: 0 catches on 3 targets
RB LeGarrette Blount: 0 catches on 2 targets
RB Leon Washington: 0 catches on 1 target
TE/OL Nate Solder: 0 catches on 1 target

By position
Wide receiver: 179 catches on 311 targets
Running back/fullback: 59 catches on 79 targets
Tight end: 48 catches on 80 targets
Other: 0 catches on 1 target

By way of comparison, here’s a look at the target breakdown through the first 12 games of 2012.

Read More: targets,

Five things you have to know about the Browns

12.03.13 at 6:45 am ET
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The Patriots host Cleveland Sunday afternoon at Gillette Stadium. Here are five things you have to know about the Browns, who are last in the AFC North at 4-8.

1. Josh Gordon is everything to their offense — and we mean EVERYTHING

The 22-year-old wide receiver out of Utah has become one of the most dynamic offensive options in the league this season, with 64 catches for 1,249 yards (second in the league to Calvin “Megatron” Johnson) and seven touchdowns. The 6-foot-3, 225-pounder is in the midst of a truly great stretch — he’s had at least 125 receiving yards in four of Cleveland’s last five games, and became the first player in NFL history with back-to-back 200-yard receiving games last week, thanks to his 14-catch, 237-yard performance in Week 12 against the Steelers. There’s not much else to speak of offensively, other than young tight end Jordan Cameron, who has had an excellent year with 63 catches for 704 yards and six touchdowns.

2. No one is 100 percent sure who will play quarterback Sunday against New England

Browns coach Rob Chudzinski said Monday all possibilities were open after starter Brandon Weeden was diagnosed with a concussion during Cleveland’s loss to the Jags last weekend. (Weeden cannot play until he passes league-mandated concussion tests.) As for Jason Campbell, he missed the Jaguars game with a concussion. He has been cleared for activity but not to practice, according to Chudzinski. That leave open the possibility that rookie Alex “Trick Shot” Tanney could draw the start. Tanney was signed off the Dallas practice squad. He’s best known for putting together an impressive five-minute video of himself throwing footballs through hoops and off goalpost uprights at Monmouth College’€™s athletic facility.

3. They really can’t run the ball consistently

In what should be good news for the Patriots, the Browns enter the game with an average of just 82.3 rushing yards per game, 28th in the league. Cleveland has topped 100 yards on the ground in just three games this season, with a season high of 126 rushing yards in an October loss to the Lions. Old warhorse Willis McGahee is the Browns’ best option on the ground, but he only has 124 carries for 344 yards (a 2.8 yards per carry average) for two touchdowns.

4. They have something of an underrated defense

The Browns are in the Top 10 in most major defensive categories, including total yards (fourth at 306.8 yards per game), passing yards (fifth at 207.8) and rushing yards (fifth at 98.9 yards per game). It’s interesting that that hasn’t always translated to the scoreboard, as the Browns are 19th in points per game, yielding 24.8 yards per contest. Cornerback Joe Haden (four interceptions, 17 passes defensed) is probably the most notable defender, but he’s clearly a little peeved about the state of the team following the loss to the Jags. Haden, who allowed the game-winning touchdown, was emotional in the locker room after the game. “We (bleeping) can’€™t stand losing, it hurts,’€ Haden said. ‘€œI go out there and put my (bleeping) heart out there every time. Every time. You know what I’€™m saying? And we end up coming up short.”

5. They aren’t good at taking care of the football

Cleveland is minus-9 in the turnover department, having given the ball away 23 times (15 interceptions, eight fumbles) compared to 14 takeaways. Weeden has thrown nine interceptions.

Read More: Jason Campbell, Joe Haden, Jordan Cameron, Josh Gordon

Antonio Smith: Patriots ‘spying’ comments were a joke

12.02.13 at 11:08 pm ET
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After saying there was something “fishy” and “highly suspicious” about the way the Patriots were able to make adjustments in the second half of New England’s 34-31 win over Houston on Sunday, Texans defensive lineman Antonio Smith quickly backtracked from his comments on Monday, saying it was all a joke.

‘€œIt tickles me how much the country loves the Patriots so much they take everything so seriously,’€ Smith told reporters Monday evening. ‘€œI wasn’€™t angry or serious and I didn’€™t say that’€™s why they beat us.’€

After the Patriots rallied from a 10-point deficit with a 27-point second half to pin the 10th straight loss of the year on the Texans, Smith intimated something was up with the way things happened in the second half.

‘€œYou can tell they changed their scheme in the second half,’€ Smith told reporters after the game. ‘€œIt’€™s miraculous they changed some things on offense that keyed on what we put on this week to stop what they were doing. They did things they never did all year before. It was a specific thing that was important to what we were going to do today, as to how we were going to call the defense. We’€™d not ever did it before, and they never changed like that before. It just let me know that something wasn’€™t right.

‘€œTom Brady and Bill Belichick are among the best at their craft because they work so hard at their craft. But you have to be a descendent of ‘€˜Tones-tradamus’€™ to know what we put in this week to be able to change that fast. I’€™ve got the only crystal ball in existence. I don’€™t know what it is. Either teams are spying on us or something’€™s going on.’€

On Monday, Smith was singing a difference tune, saying he wasn’t aware his comments created such a controversy.

‘€œI was definitely surprised,’€ he said. ‘€œI didn’€™t think anything else about it after we talked until I woke up this morning and everybody wanted to kill me on Instagram.

‘€œMy teammates were telling me about ESPN. I don’€™t really watch ESPN that much, but [my teammates] pretty much got a good laugh out of it, me being the butt of everybody’€™s jokes today. I had no idea it would have that (kind of) effect.”

Smith said it was taken the wrong way.

‘€œI said it, but you have to check the manner in which I said it,’€ he added. ‘€œI didn’€™t accuse them of beating us with cheating. Come on, don’€™t you have a sense of humor? Though it may be something I was curious about it, I wasn’€™t thinking they spied on us or they were cheating.

‘€œHalf the stuff I say is spontaneous and witty, and I don’€™t think anything else about it. I’€™m sorry I said the word spying. I was joking and having fun with it.’€

Asked about it on Monday, Belichick said it was a league matter, while Brady dismissed it, saying he didn’t think much of the allegations. And Texans coach Gary Kubiak didn’t sound like he was too pleased with Smith’s comments.

‘€œI have the utmost respect for their organization, their players, their coaches, their head coach,’€ Kubiak said. ‘€œI mean, the standard that they’€™ve been setting for a long, long time in this league. They did a great job (Sunday). They’€™ve been doing it for a long time.’€

For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.

Read More: Antonio Smith, Bill Belichick, Gary Kubiak, Tom Brady

Patriots shuffle practice squad, adding R.J. Dill and releasing Patrick Ford

12.02.13 at 6:59 pm ET
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The Patriots announced Monday they have re-signed offensive lineman R.J. Dill to the practice squad and released tackle Patrick Ford from the practice squad.

Dill, 23, was originally signed to the New England practice squad on Sept. 3, and was released on Sept. 13. The 6-foot-6, 316-pounder was signed by the Jacksonville Jaguars as a rookie free agent out of Rutgers on April 28, and was released by the Jaguars on Aug. 30. He started all 13 games at right tackle for Rutgers in 2012 after transferring from Maryland following the 2011 season. Dill was a three-year starter at Maryland.

Ford, 23, was signed to the New England practice squad on Nov. 27. He was originally signed by the New York Jets as a rookie free agent out of Eastern Kentucky on Aug. 13, 2013, and was released on Aug. 26. The 6-foot-6, 305-pounder, was a three-year starter at Eastern Kentucky, serving as both a guard and tackle during his collegiate career. He spent the majority of his final two seasons at left tackle.

Read More: Patrick Ford, R.J. Dill,
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