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Fantasy Football: Week 13 starts, sits

11.30.13 at 8:23 am ET
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Welcome to the starts and sits for Week 13. I’€™ll be featuring better players than usual because there are no more bye concerns and most fantasy teams, especially those still alive, will be looking at better players when it comes to lineup decisions.

For those who have more questions than this article has answers for, you have two places to go. First, you can hit Rotobahn and consult our full lineup rankings, which will give you a ranking and a ‘€œskinny’€ on just about any player you might be considering in any league. Second, you can come back to WEEI.com tomorrow and participate in our Sunday morning chat where I will answer all of your lineup questions. You’ll find a link to the chat on the homepage in the “This Just In” section.

QUARTERBACKS

START

Tom Brady, Patriots at Texans

Just kidding, folks. This one is an ultra-obvious freebie — meant to do nothing but point out that Rotobahn had the future Hall of Famer on our trade-for list when others were running for cover. For those who stuck with Brady … or dealt for him, enjoy the next few weeks. He’€™s a QB1, period.

Josh McCown, Bears at Vikings

How often do we recommend a backup quarterback playing on the road? Not that often, but McCown has been very good so far in terms of fantasy production and this matchup is very solid. Start McCown in any format this week and you are in pretty good shape.

Colin Kaepernick, 49ers vs. Rams

Two things factor into the decision to make CK a start. First, he looked much better last week. Second, he gets Michael Crabtree back this week. The Rams are not an easy mark, but they can be had, especially when on the road, and this one is at Frisco.

Andrew Luck, Colts vs. Titans

He may not inspire the kind of confidence that he did a few weeks back, but a lot of it is perception. Luck is still a very sound fantasy play in 12-team leagues and has produced good fantasy numbers in games that were pretty ugly from the Colts’€™ perspective. He was serviceable against the Titans on the road in Week 11 and he should be able to handle them this week in Indianapolis.

Andy Dalton, Bengals at Chargers

He’s been a strong option for most of the season and he gets a decent road matchup here. We expect the Bengals to be ready after having an extra week to prepare. Dalton can start for you in any format this week. He always has nice scoring potential due to the quality of the weapons around him.

Carson Palmer, Cardinals at Eagles

The matchup is mediocre, but he’€™s playing well and has tons of good places to throw the football in Bruce Arians‘€™ offense. The Eagles are playing well, but they will have trouble matching up with Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd. Palmer can help you in 12-team leagues this week.

Brandon Weeden, Browns vs. Jaguars

Here’€™s an option for those searching for an answer in a deep league. Weeden is not a great start, but he may be the best thing on waiver wires in 12-team formats and he could have a solid day at home vs. the Jaguars. Weeden can be your QB this week if you are hurting and he might just surprise you if he can get Josh Gordon going and hit on a few deep balls.

SIT

Mike Glennon, Bucs at Panthers

The rookie has been pretty good so far, but he lacks the experience and the firepower to play against the Panthers defense on the road in a hostile environment. Look elsewhere if you can.

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Read More: Andrew Luck, Andy Dalton, Brandon Weeden, Carson Palmer

Road to North Jersey: Ten questions as NFL playoff chase heats up

11.29.13 at 7:56 pm ET
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Now that Thanksgiving is in the rearview mirror, the NFL playoff picture is starting to come into sharper focus. (For the latest playoff scenarios, bookmark this page.) Here are 10 questions we have about what might happen down the stretch and into the postseason:

1. WHO IS GOING TO NAIL DOWN THE SIXTH SEED IN THE AFC PLAYOFF RACE?

After seeing how they were able to hold off the Steelers Thursday night at home, it’€™s awful hard to discount the Ravens’€™ (6-6) chances to land that final playoff spot in the AFC. It’€™s not going to be easy — Baltimore faces a handful of challengers for that No. 6 seed, including the Jets, Dolphins, Titans, Chargers (all 5-6) and Steelers (5-7). In addition, three of the five games left on their schedule are against plus-.500 teams, including the Patriots and Bengals. While they’€™re not the same team that got on an epic roll last year ‘€“ rising up out of the four spot to win the Super Bowl — there are still plenty of mentally tough individuals on both sides of the ball who know how to navigate through December and into January.

2. PROVIDED THEY GET THERE, WHICH TEAM IS BEST SUITED TO WIN A COLD WEATHER SUPER BOWL?

There are some good cold-weather teams who have an excellent shot at reaching North Jersey in February, but based on what we’€™ve seen to this point — as well as previous seasons — you would have to think the Patriots have an excellent shot at winning a bad-weather/cold-weather Super Bowl. Tom Brady‘€™s ability to operate in sub-zero temperatures was again evident in last Sunday’€™s win over the Broncos. Brady is now 25-5 as a starting QB when the game-time temperature is 32 degrees or lower, throwing 51 touchdowns and 21 interceptions. In addition, Brady improved his record to 40-6 when the game time temperature is 40 degrees or colder (including playoffs). Brady has thrown 85 touchdowns and only 30 interceptions in such games, including a three-touchdown, no-interception performance against Denver. That, combined with the fact that New England has a sturdy running game that can help provide some offensive oomph in bad weather, should be a boost when/if the Patriots get to MetLife in February.

3. WHICH TEAM HAS THE POTENTIAL TO SURPRISE AND SNEAK IN TO THE SUPER BOWL?

In the NFC, the Panthers probably have the most potential to surprise the field and pull off the upset, providing Cam Newton doesn’€™t turn into a pumpkin, their defense continues to play solid against the run and pass and Riverboat Ron Rivera doesn’€™t overplay his hand. When it comes to the AFC, there are a handful of surprise possibilities, including the aforementioned Ravens and Bengals. Given what they’€™ve done to this point in the season, it wouldn’€™t be a big surprise if the Chiefs can make it through, but when you consider the big picture and how far the franchise has come from this point last year, it would be a remarkable turnaround.

4. IN THE NFC, CAN ANYONE STOP SEATTLE?

The biggest game of the year in the NFC is Monday night in Seattle, when the 10-1 Seahawks meet the 9-2 Saints, a contest that will have major implications when it comes to determining who gets home-field advantage in the NFC playoff race. If Seattle can hold serve and win at home, that could effectively wrap up the No. 1 seed, giving it at least a two-game lead on the rest of the field with four to play. Given their dominance at home, that would make it awful hard for anyone to get past Seattle in the postseason. But if New Orleans can find a way to win, that would open it up for the Saints, or maybe even the 8-3 Panthers depending on how each team handles its business the rest of the way.

5. WHICH TEAMS ARE GOING TO HAVE THE BIGGEST BEEF WITH THE PLAYOFF SYSTEM THIS YEAR?

In the NFC, the Cardinals have been a really pleasant surprise — Bruce Arians has gotten that franchise turned around and headed in the right direction with a 7-4 record through the first 11 games. Unless everything collapses, they should be a pretty good bet to finish with at least nine wins. (Their schedule down the stretch includes games against the Rams and Titans, both of whom are 5-6, as well as the 6-5 Eagles.) That would stand in serious contrast to the dumpster fire in the NFC East, where a nine-win team (Dallas? Philadelphia?) could end up walking away with the division title. In the AFC, all six of the playoff teams deserve to make the postseason (with the exception of whoever sneaks in and grabs that No. 6 spot). The biggest complaint will likely come from whoever finishes second in the AFC West — because of the playoff positioning, that team (either the Chiefs or Broncos) will be relegated to the No. 5 seed and top wild-card spot.
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Marcus Cannon, Michael Hoomanawanui and Aaron Dobson all downgraded to ‘out’ for Sunday

11.29.13 at 4:11 pm ET
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The Patriots have ruled offensive lineman Marcus Cannon, tight end Michael Hoomananwanui and wide receiver Aaron Dobson out for Sunday’s game against the Texans in Houston.

No surprises with all three — all of them have missed practice this week with injuries that date back a week or more. Hoomanwanui has been struggling with a knee problem he first sustained in a loss to the Panthers earlier this month, while Cannon went down with an ankle injury in last week’€™s win over the Broncos and Dobson was slowed by a foot problem he sustained against Denver.

As for the rest of the report, cornerbacks Alfonzo Dennard, Aqib Talib, Kyle Arrington and Marquice Cole are all listed as questionable, jointing a group that includes safety Steve Gregory and tight end Rob Gronkowski.

Here’s the complete report:

Did Not Practice
TE Michael Hoomanawanui (knee) OUT
WR Aaron Dobson (foot) OUT
RT Marcus Cannon (ankle) OUT

Limited Participation
CB Kyle Arrington (groin) QUESTIONABLE
CB Marquice Cole (shin) QUESTIONABLE
CB Alfonzo Dennard (knee) QUESTIONABLE
S Steve Gregory (finger) QUESTIONABLE
TE Rob Gronkowski (back/forearm/hamstring) QUESTIONABLE
CB Aqib Talib (hip) QUESTIONABLE
LB Chris White (back) QUESTIONABLE

Full Participation
WR Danny Amendola (groin) PROBABLE
QB Tom Brady (right shoulder) PROBABLE
WR Matthew Slater (wrist) PROBABLE
LB Brandon Spikes (knee) PROBABLE
RB Shane Vereen (wrist) PROBABLE

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

Bill Belichick: Have to make sure you don’t get ‘blown up’ on sidelines

11.29.13 at 12:03 pm ET
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Bill Belichick had a bit of a flashback when he caught Mike Tomlin roaming a little too close to the action on Thursday night.

After seeing the Steelers coach come perilously close to making contact with Ravens returner Jacoby Jones Thursday night — some would say it was an accident, some would say it was on purpose — Belichick recalled getting “blown up” on the sidelines on a couple of occasions.

“There’€™s one play in particular where I was kind of watching the pass rush of the front and the ball was thrown,” Belichick said Friday morning. “I didn’€™t really follow the ball that quickly, and all the sudden the guy caught it and was right on top of me and [I] ended up under the Gatorade bench.

“Obviously if you’€™re watching the ball, it shouldn’€™t be that big of a problem,” he added. “But if you’€™re trying to watch something else ‘€¦ obviously we have to give the officials and the players room to play. Sometimes that just happens where you get guys caught up a little bit on the sideline. But yeah, I saw the play last night.  I was like, ‘€˜Oh my God, yeah.’€™ That could easily happen to any of us. It’€™s a good lesson, I have to be careful.”

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

Read More: Bill Belichick, Mike Tomlin,

Alfonzo Dennard back at practice, but Aaron Dobson still among missing

11.29.13 at 11:41 am ET
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Wide receiver Aaron Dobson, tight end Michael Hoomanawanui and offensive lineman Marcus Cannon were all missing from the start of Patriots practice on Friday, according to reports.

Hoomanwanui has been struggling with a knee injury he first sustained in a loss to the Panthers earlier this month, while Cannon went down with an ankle injury in last week’s win over the Broncos and Dobson was slowed by a foot problem he sustained against the Broncos.

One player who was back at practice on Wednesday was cornerback Alfonzo Dennard, who missed practice on Thursday and has dealt with a knee injury he suffered earlier this month.

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

Tom Brady on JJ Watt: ‘He’s been pretty remarkable’

11.29.13 at 10:22 am ET
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FOXBORO — Despite the fact that the Texans are in the throes of a miserable nine-game losing skid, the continued high level of play from defensive lineman J.J. Watt offers a sizable beacon of hope for Houston.

The reigning Defensive Player of the Year, Watt is a transformative presence, capable of ruining an afternoon for a quarterback. Through 11 games, Pro Football Focus has him credited with 10 sacks (tied for the top spot among all 3-4 defensive ends), 24 quarterback hits (best at his position) and 26 quarterback hurries (fifth at his position).

The fiery Watt, who wears his emotions on his sleeve, acknowledged it’s been a difficult season for the Texans, a team many anticipated would be in the thick of the playoff chase after reaching the postseason in 2012 but are 2-9 and playing for next year.

“Obviously, [we] came into the year with very high expectations. [We’€™ve] been on obviously an extremely rough stretch here. It’€™s been tough, to say the least,” Watt said. “We have guys who have a lot of pride in their play and take a lot of pride in their game, so we’€™re going out there and we’€™re playing as hard as we can play, and obviously we’€™re trying to get a win. It’€™s been far too long since we’€™ve had a win.”

For its part, the Houston defense has posted some good numbers to this point in the season. In their 11 games, only four passers have gone over 200 yards against Houston (Andrew Luck tops the lost with 271 passing yards), and the Texans are in the Top 10 in several major passing defense categories, including total passing yards allowed (first, 1,890), completion percentage against (seventh at 58.1) and yards per attempt (eighth, 6.7).

At the same time, the Texans have yielded an average of 26.3 points per game, tied for the sixth-highest total in the NFL entering the weekend.
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Read More: j.j. watt, Logan Mankins, Tom Brady,

Cornerback Alfonzo Dennard among those not practicing Thursday

11.28.13 at 6:53 pm ET
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Cornerback Alfonzo Dennard was added to the list of those absent from Patriots practice Thursday with a knee issue that’s been dogging him for the last few weeks. He joined offensive tackle Marcus Cannon (ankle), wide receiver Aaron Dobson (foot) and tight end Michael Hoomanawanui (knee) as those who didn’t practice on Thursday.

Dennard has been banged up for a few weeks — a knee issue kept him out of the loss to Carolina earlier this month, and even though he played last week against the Broncos, he was limited in what he could do.

As for the rest of the report, it stayed the same, as corners Kyle Arrington and Aqib Talib and tight end Rob Gronkowski were among those limited.

Here is Thursday’s complete report:

Did Not Practice
TE Michael Hoomanawanui (knee)
CB Alfonzo Dennard (knee)
WR Aaron Dobson (foot)
RT Marcus Cannon (ankle)

Limited Participation
CB Kyle Arrington (groin)
CB Marquice Cole (shin)
S Steve Gregory (finger)
TE Rob Gronkowski (back/forearm/hamstring)
CB Aqib Talib (hip)
LB Chris White (back)

Full Participation
WR Danny Amendola (groin)
QB Tom Brady (right shoulder)
WR Matthew Slater (wrist)
LB Brandon Spikes (knee)
RB Shane Vereen (wrist)

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

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