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Fantasy Football: Week 12 starts, sits

11.21.14 at 9:14 am ET
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Welcome to the Week 12 starts and sits! In most fantasy leagues, there are only two regular-season weeks remaining, and that means you probably have a whole lot to play for this week. Hopefully this column gives you a few nuggets that can help you, but if you are looking for more takes on more players, I suggest you consult my full lineup rankings at Rotobahn.

Don’t forget to tune in Sunday morning for another episode of the Fantasy Football Hour with my co-host Jim Hackett. If you have last-minute lineup concerns, you should check out my Sunday chat. It takes place right here at WEEI.com and it runs from 11 a.m. to noon every Sunday.

If you want to keep track of all my fantasy football content, both here and at Rotobahn, follow me on Twitter. I send out links to all fresh content.

QUARTERBACKS

Start

Russell Wilson, Seahawks vs. Cardinals

Wilson has a tendency to run more in big games and tough situations. This game certainly qualifies. With Marshawn Lynch nursing a sore back, Wilson might keep the rock a bit more than normal when given the option. He should be good for 20-plus points.

Mark Sanchez, Eagles vs. Titans

He’s been solid for fantasy purposes and that should continue this week at home vs. a Titans defense that doesn’t scare anyone right now. The only fear I have is that the Eagles run so well that they don’t need to pass much. Sanchez should be serviceable this week. Use him if you need him.

Josh McCown, Buccaneers at Bears

He’s looked very much in control the last few weeks, and with the way Mike Evans is exploding, you have to like McCown’s chances of producing against his old team in his old stomping grounds. The veteran passer should produce QB1 stats this week.

Sit

Robert Griffin III, Washington at 49ers

While I think the football world is coming down on Griffin a bit harshly, I also want no part of him on the road in San Francisco. The Niners are too disciplined and they stay home well on defense. They are not prone to giving up big rushing yards to quarterbacks or plays over the top. This is a week to sit Griffin if you have other options.

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Read More: Josh McCown, Mark Sanchez, Robert Griffin III, Russell Wilson

Live chat: Chris Price talks all things Patriots, NFL at noon

11.21.14 at 8:35 am ET
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Join Chris Price of WEEI.com to break down all things Patriots and the NFL, Friday at noon. Price will help you get ready for the Pats‘ Sunday showdown in Foxboro with the Lions, while looking at the landscape of the league heading into the regular season’s final stretch. Get your questions in now …

Live Blog Chris Price Patriots live chat
 

Raiders help Patriots get increased separation in AFC playoff picture with shocking victory over Chiefs

11.21.14 at 6:45 am ET
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Marcel Reece celebrates with Oakland fans after the Raiders shocked the Chiefs Thursday night. (Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Marcel Reece celebrates with Oakland fans after the Raiders shocked the Chiefs Thursday night. (Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

In the wake of Kansas City’s shocking loss to the Raiders on Thursday, the Broncos are perhaps the biggest winners, as Denver now has gotten some more separation from the second-place Chiefs in the chase for the AFC West crown. But at the same time, the Kansas City loss gives the Patriots a little more margin for error down the stretch.

Entering the evening, the Chiefs were the one team in the upper reaches of the AFC playoff picture that could boast of a head-to-head tiebreaker over New England, with that coming in a 41-14 blowout of the Patriots back in Week 4. But now, with Kansas City falling to 7-4 with the loss to Oakland, New England (8-2) holds a 1 1/2-game lead over the Chiefs, which could stretch to a two-game advantage if the Patriots beat the Lions this weekend.

Overall, here’s a look at the AFC playoff picture as it stands right now:

1. Patriots (8-2): New England leads the AFC East, and currently holds home-field advantage with the top seed, and would host a divisional playoff game. The Patriots have potential tiebreakers against Denver, Cincinnati and Indianapolis.

2. Broncos (7-3): Denver leads the AFC West, and has a lock on the No. 2 position going into the weekend. They would also wait out wild-card weekend and host a divisional playoff contest.

3. Bengals (6-3-1): On top of the AFC North. If the playoffs opened today, Cincinnati would host Kansas City in a wild-card game.

4. Colts (6-4): Leaders of the AFC South. They would host No. 5 Pittsburgh in an AFC wild-card game if the postseason began today.

5. Steelers (7-4): Best of the teams that aren’t tops in their division, they’d travel to Lucas Oil on wild-card weekend for a date with Indy. They have the edge on the Chiefs here because of a better conference record.

6. Chiefs (7-4): Losers against the Raiders, the Chiefs have control of the second wild-card spot — barely ahead of four teams that sit 6-4. If the playoffs opened today, they’d be at Cincinnati.

REST OF THE PACK: 7. Dolphins (6-4); 8. Chargers (6-4); 9. Ravens (6-4); 10. Browns (6-4).

Detroit will serve as host for Jets-Bills contest

11.21.14 at 12:38 am ET
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The NFL announced Thursday night that this weekend’s Jets-Bills game will be played in Detroit Monday night because of the massive storm that has paralyzed parts of upstate New York.

The storm has forced the Bills to cancel practices for the last two days. More than 5 feet of snow has fallen in the Buffalo area since Monday, and another 1 to 3 feet was projected to fall by Friday.

This is the second time in four years Ford Field has served as a host for a neutral site game. Following the collapse of the roof of Minnesota’s Metrodome in 2010, the Vikings and Giants played in Detroit.

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5 thoughts on return of LeGarrette Blount, state of Patriots running game

11.21.14 at 12:12 am ET
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LeGarrette Blount has returned to Foxboro. What sort of role can he have with the 2014 Patriots? (Getty Images)

LeGarrette Blount has returned to Foxboro. What sort of role can he have with the 2014 Patriots? (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

1. In stark contrast to the nasty words that were coming out of the Pittsburgh locker room in the wake of what happened with LeGarrette Blount over the last week, on Thursday, the vibe around the Patriots was all good when it came to the newest Patriot. Special teams captain Matthew Slater called him a “great teammate,” while fullback James Develin said it was “good” to have him back. Meanwhile, Jonas Gray — who likely will see his role shrink some with the addition of Blount — said he had no problem with the move, adding that the veteran is is a “great guy to learn from.” As for what sort of role awaits him, it’s likely he’ll split duties with Gray as the primary between-the-tackles back, as well as serve as some sort of insurance policy if the stage gets too big for the youngster, or if he puts the ball on the ground at some point. It’s also possible he sees time as a part-time kick returner — with the occasional exception of Danny Amendola, no one has really done much to distinguish themselves in the position. With his background last year, it certainly makes sense for the Patriots to give him a shot back there.

2. Few teams have seen the type of turnover at the running back position as New England. With the injury to Ridley, if form holds, the Patriots will have their sixth different back lead the team in rushing in 2014 over the last decade — only four other teams (Saints, Browns, Broncos and Cardinals) have had more. Corey Dillon (2004-2006), Laurence Maroney (2007, 2009), Sammy Morris (2008), BenJarvus Green-Ellis (2010-2011) and Stevan Ridley (2012-2013). And now, with Ridley on the shelf the rest of the year, this season it figures to be either Vereen, Gray or Blount. That could change again next year, as Brandon Bolden, Ridley and Shane Vereen are all in the final year of their contracts, while Blount, Gray and rookie James White are all under contract for 2015. (In addition, Tyler Gaffney, who was claimed by the Patriots this summer but is spending the year on injured reserve because of a knee issue, is still a possibility to be a part of the mix next season.) Regardless, even with all the changes, things could still change between now and the start of next season.

3. As forward thinking as the Patriots offense — and the passing game in particular — has been the last few years, there’s something impressively retro about what New England might be able to do this season. If we operate with the idea that a “running back by committee” includes a team with four backs with at least 40 carries, it appears that for the second straight season, the Patriots will attempt to be the first team to win a Super Bowl using the “running back by committee” approach since the 1987 Redskins, who won Super Bowl. Right now, the Patriots three different backs reach with at least 69 carries (Ridley with 94, Vereen with 70 and Gray with 69). While some of those numbers are borne out of necessarily since Ridley went down, if Blount is able to click down the stretch for New England — and it’s entirely possible he can hit the 40-carry mark, given his experience in the system — he would be a fourth. If the Patriots could take the title, it would represent the greatest cross-section of work for running backs for any Super Bowl champion since that Washington team emerged with a win in Super Bowl XXII. (Of course, that Redskins team could be discounted on a penalty, as that was a strike year and one of the backs was a scab who rushed 80 times in three strike games but never played another down. If you disqualify them on a technicality, them the last true RBBC team to win a Super Bowl in a non-strike year was the 1981 Niners, a team that had five different backs finish with 40 carries or more: Ricky Patton, Earl Cooper, Johnny Davis, Walt Easley and Paul Hofer.)

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Read More: Ahmad Bradshaw, Andre Ellington, BenJarvus Green Ellis, Brandon Bolden

Tom Brady gives a Facebook high-five to return of LeGarrette Blount

11.20.14 at 8:56 pm ET
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Tom Brady weighed in with his thoughts on the return of LeGarrette Blount to the Patriots Thursday with another tremendous Facebook post.

Read More: LeGarrette Blount, Tom Brady,

Randy Moss: ‘There is a special place in my heart for the New England Patriots’

11.20.14 at 8:46 pm ET
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Randy Moss is back in Foxboro this week. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Randy Moss is back in Foxboro this week. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

There was a familiar face walking the halls of Gillette Stadium this week — Randy Moss.

The former Patriots wide receiver is in town to do some TV work for Fox in advance of Sunday’s Patriots-Lions game. Between his work, Moss sat down with Patriots.com reporter Jackie Brittain for an interview for Patriots.com.

Moss talked about a variety of topics, including how he became a member of the Patriots. Moss was traded to the Patriots from the Raiders before Day 2 of the 2007 NFL draft for a fourth-round pick in that draft.

“I’ve said this story time and time again, but I just want people to understand that I am very grateful,” Moss told Brittain. “When I came from Oakland, I was in a dark place. I was in a dark place because I was there for two years, I got traded from the Vikings and things weren’t going well in California. I was away from home, my career wasn’t going the way I wanted it to go.

“I remember I was in Houston, Texas, doing the draft and I got a call from Bill Belichick and I thought it was one of my friends playing. I was like, ‘Who is this?’ and he was like, ‘This is Bill Belichick.’ I was like, ‘Man, get real, who is this?’ Coach told me that if I am up here by 10 o’clock next morning, blah, blah, blah, then the trade would go through. Man, I started scrambling.

“When I came up here and became a Patriot I was very thankful, I was very grateful. Mrs. Myra Kraft played a role in it. When she passed away I had to pay my respects to the home, to the family, and when I go see Mr. Kraft he doesn’t call me Randy Moss, he calls me Randy Moss Kraft. They welcomed me into the family and like I said, still to this day it’s just love and anytime you come here you feel the love from the Kraft family.”

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Read More: Bill Belichick, Randy Moss, Robert Kraft, Tom Brady
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