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Fantasy Football: Week 11 waiver wire

11.11.14 at 10:57 am ET
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Welcome to the Week 11 waiver wire. It’€™s officially crunch time. Only three weeks of regular season games remain in most fantasy formats, and that means plenty of white-knuckle action. The good news is you can increase your odds of success by playing the waiver wire intelligently, so let’€™s get down to business. If you play in a deep format, you may want to head over to Rotobahn later today, as my expanded wire for 12 and 14-team leagues is usually up around midday. Check it out if you need more options.

As always, the ownership percentages are listed for each player. These rates of ownership are based on Yahoo! leagues, which tend to be smaller and more representative of the 10-team leagues most of us play in. Obviously, these numbers are mostly for perspective — what really matters is which players are available in your particular league, and you’€™ll need to do the legwork on that.

To keep pace with all WEEI and Rotobahn fantasy football content, including Sunday chats and The Fantasy Football Hour with my good buddy Jim Hackett, follow me on Twitter.

QUARTERBACKS

Mark Sanchez, Eagles — 44 percent

You can get him in more than half of smaller leagues and he has QB1 upside on most weeks. If you’€™ve been getting beat at the quarterback position, this is a potential solution. The remaining schedule is friendly and he’€™s going to improve with more reps in the offense. As I said last week, think of it as picking Chip Kelly’€™s quarterback rather than Sanchez.

Robert Griffin III, Washington — ”47 percent

He’€™s available in a great many leagues for some unknown reason. It’€™s amazing how quickly people forget. Griffin may not be all that likable, and he may not be great yet in terms of winning games in real life, but he has legit upside for fantasy purposes. Pick him up as a high-upside QB2 in any league with sufficient bench space.

Eli Manning, Giants — 57 percent

This is a good time to add Manning because his offense is picking up while the schedule is lightening up. This week’€™s home matchup with the 49ers is only decent, but that’€™s the toughest one the rest of the way until the Giants visit the Rams in Week 16.

Josh McCown, Buccaneers — 14 percent

He’€™s playable in the short-term because he has some good matchups and Tampa’€™s weapons in the passing game. This is a team that can really throw the ball in the red zone with three huge targets in Vincent Jackson, Austin Seferian-Jenkins and Mike Evans. If you are Ben Roethlisberger‘€™s owner looking for a solid Week 12 play, McCown’€™s a solid preemptive pickup.

Michael Vick, Jets — 12 percent

This is another tip for those who need to deal with Roethlisberger‘€™s Week 12 bye. Vick and the Jets are off Week 11, but he can help you after that as a QB2 option if you are hurting for one. The Jets’€™ matchup is not as good as Tampa’€™s, but if you can’t get McCown, Vick’€™s a decent fallback move.

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Read More: Eli Manning, Josh McCown, Mark Sanchez, Michael Vick

Bill Belichick on Adam Vinatieri: ‘I don’t think anyone is kicking better than he is’

11.11.14 at 10:29 am ET
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Adam Vinatieri hasn't missed a field goal this season. (Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)

Adam Vinatieri hasn’t missed a field goal this season. (Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)

FOXBORO — Sunday’s game with the Colts will feature two of the best quarterbacks in the game in Tom Brady and Andrew Luck, but the game will also pin two of the best kickers in the game against one another in Stephen Gostkowski and former Patriots kicker Adam Vinatieri.

Of kickers in the NFL with 15 or more field goal attempts, Gostkowski and Vinatieri are the best in the league when it comes to percentages. Vinatieri is a perfect 20-for-20 (100 percent) with a long of 50 this year, while Gostkowski is 24-for-25 (96 percent) with a long of 53.

Coach Bill Belichick had nothing but praise for his former kicker on Tuesday.

“He’s really kicking the ball great,” he said. “The ball goes perfectly straight, doesn’t move. Every kick is right on the money. You have to try and block it, waiting for him to miss you’ll be waiting all day. You have to see if you can somehow affect the kick, but he’s kicked the ball great. No question.”

The 41-year-old is in a great place in Indianapolis as he only kicks field goals with Pat McAfee handling the kickoff duties. Belichick doesn’t see an end in the near future.

“Right now, I don’t think anyone is kicking better than he is,” said Belichick. “There’s a lot of guys kicking good, but I don’t think anyone is kicking better. He’s in a great situation as far as not having to deal with kickoffs, but as far as putting the ball down between the uprights, tremendous. The way he’s kicking now I don’t see where the end in sight is. Distance isn’t a problem. He gets good lift on the ball, not exceptional, but good. He’s kicking in a good environment, so he’s drilling it. Looks great.”

After placing the franchise tag on Vinatieri in 2004, the Patriots chose not to in 2005 allowing him to become a free agent. After 10 seasons with New England, the kicker signed with the Colts. He is still the all-time leading scorer in Patriots history with 1,158 points, while Gostkowski is third with 1,111.

Belichick said the decision to move on from Vinatieri was just part of the business.

“Look, it’s the NFL,”he said. “Players change teams every year. This isn’t a big news story is it? Players change teams.”

“Look, I’ve always had a good relationship with Adam,” he added. “The NFL is a business, I’m not trying to write a story for you here, but this isn’t news. There is free agency every year. Players change teams. We get them, other guys get our guys.”

Read More: Adam Vinatieri, Bill Belichick, Stephen Gostkowski,

Bill Belichick on D&H: ‘Where we’re at now won’t be good enough’

11.10.14 at 7:44 pm ET
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Patriots coach Bill Belichick joined WEEI’s Dale & Holley show on Monday to discuss New England’€™s upcoming game against the Colts and the state of the team as it moves forward with the rest of the season. To hear the interview, go to the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.

The Patriots are coming off a bye week and begin the stretch of their final seven games of the season. As the team gets ready for Indianapolis on Sunday, Belichick said there is a lot it can still improve upon.

Said Belichick: “I thought we had a good opportunity to get caught up on a couple of things last week in meetings and in practice. I think the main thing we understand is that we have a long way to go. We have a lot of football left and we’€™re going to have to keep working hard and keep improving. Where we’€™re at now won’€™t be good enough.”

The Patriots defense will have its hands full this weekend when it faces quarterback Andrew Luck. The third-year quarterback already has passed for 3,085 yards and 26 touchdowns this season. Sunday’€™s matchup will be the third time Belichick’€™s Patriots will play Luck.

“The guy’€™s a really good player,” Belichick said. “He’€™s got a lot going for him. Big strong kid, like [Ben] Roethlisberger strong — shrugs off defenders and can throw the ball, make all of the throws down the field. But very athletic, fast, he can eat up a lot yards in a hurry. And he does a good job of picking out his times when to run, critical situations, third-down, red area. … He does an excellent job at the line of scrimmage changing plays, getting the best play against the defense or against a defensive look, that type of thing. I think he’€™s got a really impressive game. He controls the running game, he controls the passing game, he can make all of the throws, He’€™s hard to bring down in the pocket, he’€™s fast, he’€™s elusive — he’€™s got a lot going for him.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Bill Belichick: Colts create ‘tough matchups’ with multiple tight ends

11.10.14 at 3:21 pm ET
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The Patriots have three tight ends they use on a consistent basis to create tough matchup problems for the opposing defense in Rob Gronkowski, Tim Wright and Michael Hoomanawanui.

But come Sunday night, New England won’t be the only team on the field using multiple tight ends, as the Colts also rotate three tight ends in and out with Dwayne Allen, Jack Doyle and Colby Fleener.

“They’€™ve done a good job with those guys and they use [Jack] Doyle some too,” coach Bill Belichick said on Tuesday’s conference call. “So, a lot of times they have three tight ends on the field. They have a good mixture of one tight end, two tight ends and three tight ends in their offense. Sometimes [it’€™s] different combinations, so you can’€™t always count on the same group of guys being out there. Both Fleener and Allen have been tough matchups in the passing game. Some of the same things we talked about.

“Again, there are times when they’€™re out there together and then there are times when it’€™s one or the other of them. But they both have done a good job of creating separation, making plays in the red area. I’€™ve been really impressed with Allen’€™s blocking. I think he’€™s one of the best blocking tight ends that we’€™ll see”

Fleener and Allen both have 20 or more catches respectively, as Allen has 26 catches for 374 yards and seven touchdowns, while Fleener has 22 catches for 295 yards and four touchdowns. Doyle has been efficient, as he has nine catches on nine targets for 58 yards and a touchdown.

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Read More: Andrew Luck, Bill Belichick, Colby Fleener, Reggie Wayne

5 things you have to know about Colts

11.10.14 at 3:07 pm ET
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Andrew Luck has led the Colts to a 6-3 record. (Al Bello/Getty Images)

Andrew Luck has led the Colts to a 6-3 record. (Al Bello/Getty Images)

Here are five things you have to know about the Colts, who will face the Patriots this week Sunday night at Lucas Oil Stadium.

1. Andrew Luck is playing at an MVP level.

The Colts quarterback has had a terrific first half of the year, and is on pace to finish 444-for-699 (64 percent) for 5,484 yards with 46 touchdowns and 16 interceptions. (At that rate, the entire city of Indianapolis will be growing neckbeards by the end of the season.) Part of his success can be rooted in the fact that the Colts are playing in a mostly pillowy-soft division, and he’s managed to take advantage of a couple of woeful defenses in Jacksonville and Tennessee (he was a combined 60-for-80 for 763 yards, eight touchdowns and one pick in back-to-back games earlier in the year against the Jags and Titans). But at the same time, he’s risen to the challenge nicely when faced with some of the better defenses in the NFL. He’s passed for at least 300 yards in seven straight games, and at this point in the season, he’s one of two quarterbacks who have a completion percentage better than 60 percent (64), has thrown for at least 3,000 yards (3,085) and has at least 20 touchdown passes. The only reason Ben Roethlisberger is the other one in the conversation is because he’s played 10 games, while Luck is at nine.

2. For a (presumably) playoff-bound team, they don’t do a great job taking care of the football.

As good as Luck has been at times this season, he has been occasionally careless with the football, and can throw some bad picks. He’s throw nine interceptions on the year, which ties him for third in the league with luminaries like Andy Dalton and Kirk Cousins. (Luck had nine all year last season.) The Colts have also fumbled the ball six times, but are still even when it comes to takeaway ratio (six interceptions and nine fumbles recovered on defense).

3. They don’t do a great job defending tight ends.

Indy has what can be be described as an above-average secondary, with some talented corners. But at the same time, the Colts have had issues against good tight ends this season. According to Football Outsiders, through Week 9 the Colts are 29th in the league in defending tight ends. In all, the Colts have allowed 49 receptions for 577 yards and seven touchdowns, an average of 11.8 yards per catch. Those numbers should be sweet music to the ears of the Patriots, who have leaned heavily on Rob Gronkowski over the course of the last five weeks, and will almost certainly do the same this time around against Indy. Gronkowski has caught 36 passes for 516 yards and five touchdowns over the last five weeks, while the Colts have had issues containing players like Heath Miller (seven catches on eight targets for 112 yards and a touchdown), Owen Daniels (five catches on seven targets for 70 yards), Zach Ertz (four catches, 86 yards) and Delanie Walker (five catches on seven targets for 84 yards and a touchdown). If they had issues with Walker, Indy will almost certainly have problems trying to slow Gronkowski.

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Read More: Adam Vinatieri, Ahmad Bradshaw, Andrew Luck, Griff Whalen

Josh McDaniels expecting Chuck Pagano, Colts to blitz Patriots

11.10.14 at 2:32 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Normally, opposing teams try to stay away from blitzing Tom Brady because of his ability to read at the line of scrimmage and make big plays.

But Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels says Colts head coach Chuck Pagano is a little different.

Pagano, according to McDaniels, has been using the blitz to try and pressure quarterbacks since his secondary has been burned for big play after big play this year. The Colts defense is allowing 263.3 yards passing, including 31 plays of 20 or more yards and nine plays of 40 or more yards.

But the Colts have had their fair share of success getting to the quarterback, registering 24 sacks, tied for ninth-most in the NFL this season. Pagano is in his third season as Colts head coach, coming from the pressure based defensive schemes in Baltimore, where he served as defensive coordinator in 2011.

“I definitely think there is an element of that, certainly,” McDaniels said. “Chuck Pagano, obviously, that’€™s his background, and there is some of that there. But I also think there is a great blend here, and they’€™ve kind of created their own little package, and they do different things off of it each week.

In 2013, the Colts blitzed 33 percent of the time, according to the experts at Pro Football Focus.

“I think they really present a lot of different issues for you,” McDaniels said. “They blitz quite a bit more than most of the teams that we’€™ve played, which is going to be, I would say, a very critical factor in the game, our ability to handle that. They play a lot of tight man coverage. They have guys who do a really good job of covering man-to-man [in] one-on-one situations on the outside.”

Greg Toler and veteran Vontae Davis are the corners, while Sergio Brown and Mike Adams are the safeties. Brown and nickel corner Darius Butler are former Patriots who have faced Tom Brady in practice.

“They ask their safeties and linebackers to do the same thing, and they’€™ve got guys who can do that. They’€™ve been stopping the run, creating turnovers and getting to the quarterback, so there are not a lot of holes. I definitely see some of what we had faced in the past in Baltimore, but certainly this is their own defense. They’€™ve added different flavors to it, and we’€™ve got a big challenge ahead of us this week.”

Of course, if Brady is able to solve the blitz and get the ball to Rob Gronkowski, there is the potential for big plays in open space.

“I think with any skilled player, if you have an opportunity to release clean into the route in the passing game, it takes away something that you’€™re not really having to worry about or think about at the line of scrimmage, and then you can focus a little bit more on reading the coverage or whatever the route is that you’€™re running. I think that he gets played at the line of scrimmage some and some not.

“It’€™s kind of a mixture of all different things, but I would say that’€™s true for most or all of our skill players, especially our receivers. There are plenty of times where they get jammed and then there are some times when their corner plays them off. We work extremely hard on trying to help our guys release into the pattern. We spend a lot of time in practice doing that. [Tight ends] coach [Brian] Daboll [and] [wide receivers] coach [Chad] O’€™Shea do a great job of that. He knows that there are going to be challenges each week that different teams present, and we’€™ve got to do a good job of being prepared for those.”

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Read More: Baltimore Ravens, Chuck Pagano, Indianapolis Colts, Josh McDaniels

Tim Hasselbeck on D&C: ‘I don’t know how you argue [Tom Brady] out of that top 3′ of quarterbacks in the NFL

11.10.14 at 10:53 am ET
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ESPN NFL analyst Tim Hasselbeck joined Dennis & Callahan on Monday to discuss the top news and games around the league. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Former NFL quarterback Chris Simms told Sports Illustrated’s Peter King that Tom Brady is not a top-five quarterback in today’€™s NFL. Simms said Ben Roethlisberger and Russell Wilson are ahead of Brady in his current rankings.

Said Hasselbeck: “These lists, they’€™ll make your head explode sometimes with the nonsense of it depending on what you’€™re looking for in a quarterback. I think that the one that literally makes my skin crawl on it is Russell Wilson. Look, he’€™s won a Super Bowl, that’€™s great. And he’€™s won a bunch of games in his pretty short career. He’€™s done some very interesting things with the 300-yard passing game and the 100 yards rushing, and things of that nature. Where you make your money in the NFL is passing in the red zone and on third down. And in the way that teams are carried by their quarterback in some of those situations that aren’t supported by other things that Seattle team is supported by is the determining factor for me. Russell Wilson, I’€™ll have to look yesterday at how many times he threw it, I think he’€™s had two games this year where he’€™s had over 20 completions. Think about that for a second — there are guys that are averaging close over close to 30.

“What guys are asked to do is a big factor in this. … I don’€™t know how you argue [Brady] out of that top three.”

The Seahawks started the year with some up-and-down play but handily beat the Giants at home Sunday with a strong fourth quarter. Hasselbeck said the Seahawks have a good chance to make it through a weak NFC. Part of the reason for this is the possible season-ending injury for Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer.

“The drop-off between Carson Palmer and Drew Stanton is significant,” Hasselbeck said. “It was evident to everybody watching Brandon Weeden that the drop-off from Tony Romo to Brandon Weeden was significant. It’€™s the same situation when you look at Arizona. Ultimately, even though [the Cardinals] are sitting there at 8-1 and Seattle 6-3, there’€™s going to be a bunch of toughly contested division matchups. You could see a six-game swing.”

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Read More: Tim Hasselbeck, Tom Brady,
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