|12.06.13 at 12:35 pm ET|
Welcome to the Week 14 starts and sits! It’s playoff time and I’ve done my best to distill the talent pool for you. If your key player is not covered here, check out our full lineup rankings over at Rotobahn or participate in our Sunday morning chat, where I will answer all of your remaining lineup questions. Best of luck to all this week!
Josh McCown, Bears vs. Cowboys
He’s far better than most folks, including us, ever expected. He will get at least one more start, and that start comes at home vs. a struggling Dallas defense that has been giving up plenty of fantasy points. I know it’s tough starting a journeyman in the playoffs, but if you are jammed with an injury to a guy like Aaron Rodgers, McCown may be the bridge to Rodgers and an appearance in the semifinals next week. Do not be afraid to play McCown.
Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers vs. Dolphins
It’s not a great week for quarterbacks, but Big Ben should give you some solid production in a home matchup against a beatable opponent. The big game is a possibility, but it’s the solid floor that I find most appealing. He’s a good option in any league.
Rivers is a safe option this week. You beat the Giants by throwing the ball, so expect a few scores and solid yardage and perhaps a big game if New York can score enough points to push the San Diego offense for four quarters. Rivers has had some mediocre games but no killers. He should come in somewhere between 16-30 points this week in standard scoring.
Alex Smith, Chiefs at Redskins
He’s been better for fantasy than I ever thought he’d be. It’s pretty amazing when you consider how poor Kansas City’s downfield passing game is. Smith makes plays every week with his feet and his arm, and his receivers get yards after the catch, especially Jamaal Charles. Smith can start for you this week if you need him, and he’ll most likely fare well against a soft Redskins defense.
Curse the schedule-maker! Is there anything worse than having your QB1 playing at San Francisco during wild card week? Here’s the skinny on Wilson: You can play him, but you should also consider other options. Based on what we saw last week when St. Louis played San Francisco, he has a chance, because Kellen Clemens missed a lot of throws — throws that Wilson will not miss. So Wilson can be played, just be realistic with your expectations. If he gets you 20 points in standard leagues, you did well.
|12.06.13 at 11:06 am ET|
FOXBORO — Running back Brandon Bolden was not on hand as the Patriots began their sweats and shells practice Friday in the light rain on the lower practice fields outside Gillette Stadium.
Bolden was not on this week’s injury report and has been a full participant on Wednesday and Thursday after nursing a knee injury earlier in the season.
Three other players were absent Friday, including Alfonzo Dennard, who left the team to deal with a court appearance in Nebraska. Dennard is having another court appearance Friday afternoon in Nebraska to answer to a charge of DUI in July. On Thursday, Dennard was given an additional 30 days in jail, 100 hours of community service and another year of probation for violating terms of his initial probation.
Two other Patriots were absent Friday due to injury as rookie receiver Aaron Dobson continues to nurse a foot injury that forced him to miss Sunday’s game in Houston. Dobson played just 36 of 87 snaps against the Broncos on Nov. 24 before showing up on the injury report last week. The team re-signed Austin Collie Thursday morning for wide receiver depth.
Marcus Cannon injured his ankle against the Broncos in the first half against the Broncos and was replaced by Will Svitek for the remainder of the game. Cannon was not active last Sunday against Houston, marking the first game he has missed this season.
Both Cannon and Dobson have missed practice all week and are expected to be ruled out for Sunday’s game against Cleveland. For the third straight day, the team worked out in sweats and shells on the lower practice fields in preparation for the Browns this Sunday at Gillette Stadium.
|12.05.13 at 10:35 pm ET|
Jerome Boger will work as the referee for Sunday’s Browns-Patriots game, according to our pals at FootballZebras.com.
This will mark Boger’s second New England game of the 2013 season — he was the lead official for the Oct. 13 game between the Patriots and Jets at MetLife Stadium in North Jersey. That game will be remember for a disputed ending, one where Boger and his crew flagged New England defensive lineman Chris Jones for a little-used penalty — unsportsmanlike conduct — when, according to Boger, he apparently pushed a teammate into the formation on a late field-goal attempt by the Jets. The field goal was off the mark, but the penalty gave New York another chance, and the Jets converted later in the extra session.
Here’s a look at each lead official assigned to work Patriots games to this point in the 2013 season:
Sept. 9 vs. Buffalo: Walt Anderson
Sept. 12 vs. NY Jets: Carl Cheffers
Sept. 22 vs. Tampa Bay: Jeff Triplette
Sept. 29 vs. Atlanta: Walt Coleman
Oct. 6 vs. Cincinnati: Gene Steratore
Oct. 13 vs. New Orleans: Tony Corrente
Oct. 20 vs. NY Jets: Jerome Boger
Oct. 27 vs. Miami: Walt Anderson
Nov. 3 vs. Pittsburgh: Walt Coleman
Nov. 18 vs. Carolina: Clete Blakeman
Nov. 24 vs. Denver: Gene Steratore
Dec. 8 vs. Cleveland: Jerome Boger
For the complete list of this week’s officiating assignments, check out Football Zebras. And for a complete breakdown of Boger’s work as a referee, take a look at his page at Pro Football Reference.
For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.
|12.05.13 at 9:12 pm ET|
Josh Gordon said that when it comes to facing Aqib Talib this week, he’s going to come out on top in the battle with the Patriots cornerback.
“I’m pretty sure he’ll make some plays, but I’m definitely going to make more plays,” Gordon told reporters who asked about Talib, who is expected to match up with the Cleveland receiver this Sunday when the Browns face the Patriots at Gillette Stadium.
“NFL cornerback is a hard position to play, and [Talib is] doing a great job right now for that defense,” added Gordon, who has 64 catches for 1,249 yards and seven touchdowns this season. “He’s a real physical, scrappy player. But I’m going to come out there and do the same, go out there and make plays myself and try to make sure that nobody can stop me.”
This is the second consecutive week Gordon has said he was going to do some damage to an opposing secondary. Last week, he told reporters he was going to exploit Jacksonville’s cornerbacks, and he ended up coming away with 261 receiving yards against the Jags.
Regardless of who he’ll be facing, Gordon said Thursday he’s excited for his first crack at the Patriots.
‘[I’m] definitely looking forward to that challenge,” he said. “I’ve never played this team. I hold this team in high regard for their past, their coaching staff and the guys they have on their team and what they’ve done. They might double team me they might not. If they do give me that look we’re prepared for it, for the double team, we’ve been practicing for it but if they don’t and they single me up we plan to exploit it.’
For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.
|12.05.13 at 4:47 pm ET|
FOXBORO — The Patriots added linebacker Brandon Spikes to the Thursday injury report with a knee issue — he was limited — while wide receiver Aaron Dobson, offensive lineman Marcus Cannon and cornerback Alfonzo Dennard were all missing from New England’s Thursday practice.
Spikes was actually absent from Wednesday’s practice with a non-injury issue. Meanwhile, Dobson (foot) and Cannon (ankle) are both working through injuries they suffered in the recent win over the Broncos. And Dennard was part of court proceedings in Nebraska — for more on that, check out our story here.
Dennard was also actually listed as limited because of a knee injury that has dogged him for the last couple of weeks. In addition, cornerbacks Aqib Talib (hip) and Kyle Arrington (groin) and tight end Rob Gronkowski (back/forearm/hamstring) were also among those limited.
Here’s the complete report.
Did Not Practice
WR Aaron Dobson (foot)
RT Marcus Cannon (ankle)
CB Alfonzo Dennard (not injury related)
CB Kyle Arrington (groin)
CB Marquice Cole (shin)
CB Alfonzo Dennard (knee)
S Steve Gregory (finger)
TE Rob Gronkowski (back/forearm/hamstring)
TE Michael Hoomanawanui (knee)
LB Brandon Spikes (knee)
OT Will Svitek (ankle)
CB Aqib Talib (hip)
WR Kenbrell Thompkins (hip)
For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.
|12.05.13 at 3:16 pm ET|
Alfonzo Dennard was given another year of probation, 30 extra days of jail time and an extra 100 hours of community service Thursday by a Nebraska judge for violating terms of his probation for assaulting a police officer outside of a Lincoln, Neb., bar in April 2012. Dennard, who will not have to serve jail time until after the season, was sentenced in March to two years of probation and a suspended 30-day jail sentence in March 2014.
On Sept.’16, Dennard acknowledged violating the terms of his two-year probation. He faced a maximum of five years in jail and a $10,000 fine.
Dennard was arrested July 11 for suspicion of driving under the influence and straddling the lane lines in Lincoln. That led to the probation revocation hearing in which a judge accepted his responsibility of guilt. In a worst-case scenario, Dennard could have been immediately jailed after Thursday’s sentencing but that didn’t happen.
Judge Stephanie Stacy also added a no-alcohol provision to his sentence and added 30 days to his jail sentence, which begins on March 31. The total jail time is now 60 days, which could be reduced to 38 days with good behavior. The judge could have revoked Dennard’s probation as the prosecution was seeking but she chose instead to modify the terms of probation.
Dennard was not at Patriots practice on Thursday in order to attend Thursday’s hearing. Dennard is not completely out of the woods as a separate DUI sentencing is scheduled for Friday at the same time, also at Lancaster County Court.
However. Dennard’s lawyer, Alan Stoler, told the Boston Herald Wednesday that Dennard filed a request for a continuance to delay the DUI sentencing until after the NFL season.
‘ Lori Pilger (@LJSpilger) December 5, 2013
Dennard has completed more than 65 hours of probation work since September and could finish the remainder of his 100 hours by the end of the season, even though he has two years to complete the terms.
According to the Herald, Dennard’s hours have included time working with the Foxboro Police Department, the Boys & Girls Club and some youth speaking engagements to raise awareness of the dangers of drugs and alcohol. Dennard is required to appear on Friday to formally enter a plea, and Stoler said Dennard is still undecided if he’ll plead guilty or not guilty.
|12.05.13 at 2:47 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Shane Vereen has the back of teammate Stevan Ridley.
Both running backs came into the league in 2011. Both have battled issues at one point or another. Injuries limited Vereen to just five games in his rookie season of 2011 while a broken wrist in the season opener forced him to miss eight games this season.
But now it’s Ridley who is struggling to find the field. Ridley has lost all four of his fumbles this season and was benched for the game in Houston on Sunday. After Ridley declined to speak with reporters on Thursday, Vereen moments later came to his defense.
“Everybody goes through their ups and downs, and when you’re down, you need teammates, you need friends to help bring you back to where you should be and start playing with confidence again,” Vereen said. “Stevan is a great player. We’re there when he needs us. But he knows what he has to do and we fully expect him to do that.”
While Vereen is fourth in rushing yardage behind Ridley, LeGarrette Blount and Brandon Bolden, he is the No. 1 receiver among the running backs corps with 28 catches for 220 yards and a touchdown.
“We’ve definitely got work to do, but we’ve put ourselves in a pretty good situation, but there’s room to improve,” Vereen said. “We need to improve if we want to continue playing.”
Ridley also said on Thursday that he feels good and the wrist injury is no longer an issue, despite still wearing a brace for games.
“I haven’t had any problems with it, haven’t had any issues with it,” Vereen said. “Really, there’s not too much thought about it at all.”
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