|WEEI QB Power Rankings: Training camp edition||08.07.15 at 12:16 pm ET|
Quality NFL quarterbacks are hard to come by. Just ask the Browns. A QB doesn’t even have to be that good to get a long-term contract from the team that drafted him (see Cam Newton, Andy Dalton, Tony Romo, Ryan Tannehill, etc.).
The top 18 players in this edition of the WEEI QB Power Rankings all started for the same team as they did last year. Unlike running backs, tight ends and pretty much all defensive players, the roster turnover only happens at the bottom of the talent pool. Only eight (maybe nine) franchises will see a new face under center in Week 1. It will be interesting to see who wins the Sam Bradford-Nick Foles trade. On to the rankings:
1. Aaron Rodgers, Packers — There’s not a lot to criticize with Rodgers. He’s in his prime (31 years old) and is coming off a season with 38 touchdowns vs. just five interceptions. His athleticism allows him to roam outside the pocket and throw lasers on the run. Also, he does it all in a cold-weather stadium, which fans around here can appreciate.
2. Tom Brady, Patriots — We’ve come a long way since that Week 4 loss to the Chiefs. The (barely) 38-year-old is entering his 15th season. His last game was against the second-best defense of the millennium and he was nearly perfect. A minor offseason distraction likely will motivate him in 2015.
3. Andrew Luck, Colts — Luck is the best of a good group of young QBs. He’s fast, can take a hit and make all the throws, but most importantly, he sees the field and reads progressions as well as anyone in the league. He needs to throw fewer interceptions, but that usually comes with age.
4. Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers — Last season Big Ben threw for almost 5,000 yards, the most of his career. At 33 years old, he’s got more than enough tread on the tires to keep up the pace.
5. Russell Wilson, Seahawks — He doesn’t need to throw the ball 50 times a game for the Seahawks to win. Unlike many young QBs, he’s got the benefit of an outstanding defense and stellar running game. Teams will have a harder time stopping him now that former Saints tight end Jimmy Graham is a part of the offense.
|Ben Roethlisberger: Wouldn’t be same if Tom Brady wasn’t on field for opener||05.26.15 at 4:48 pm ET|
Deflategate has made for some strange bedfellows.
While he didn’t come out and voice his support for Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said Tuesday that if Brady isn’t on the field opening night for the New England-Pittsburgh opener, it wouldn’t be the same.
“He’s a guy, I’ve said for a long time, he’s the best in the business. And he proved it again last year winning his fourth [Super Bowl],” Roethlisberger told ESPN on Tuesday.
“If he’s not out there, it’s not the same. I have a lot of respect for him on the football field and some of the unbelievable things that he’s done. I guess we’ll wait and see what’s finally going to happen.”
Brady was suspended for four games for his role in Deflategate — if it stands, he would miss the opener against Roethlsiberger and the Steelers. His appeal is pending.
For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.
|Fantasy Football: Week 17 starts, sits||12.26.14 at 10:56 am ET|
Welcome to the Week 17 starts and sits! It’s a tough week to predict when you look at the teams with nothing to play for, so when given the choice, you want to focus on players who are in need-to-win situations. Using Patriots players this week is inherently risky, and the same goes for the Broncos, Colts and Cowboys.
I’ve isolated some players in good situations for your consideration. 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.
If you want to keep track of all our fantasy football content, both here and at Rotobahn, follow me on Twitter. I send out links to all fresh articles and chats as well, including our full Week 17 lineup rankings. I’ll be back next week with playoff pool cheat sheets and strategies.
Cam Newton, Panthers at Falcons
He got his feet wet last week, but I expect the Panthers to unleash Newton in this game because there is a playoff berth at stake.
He has a receiver who tilts the field in Odell Beckham, and it’s made a big difference lately. Manning should finish 2015 strong, and I like his chances of being a QB1 next season if the Giants address the offensive line better than they did in 2014.
Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers vs. Bengals
He has a lot to play for here with the division title in the balance, so expect four quarters of action and QB1 results when all is said and done.
Andrew Luck, Colts at Titans
They went to backup Matt Hasselbeck early last week, and I am not betting on a longer outing for Luck this week — not with so much at stake. The Colts are locked into the fourth seed no matter what happens this week.
|Fantasy Football: Week 14 starts, sits||12.05.14 at 8:53 am ET|
Welcome to the Week 14 starts and sits! It’s win-or-go-home time in most fantasy football leagues, so lineup decisions potentially are crucial. If you are looking for a second opinion on players not listed in this article, head over to my site, Rotobahn, and check out our full lineup rankings for Week 14.
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.
If you want to keep track of all our fantasy football content, both here and at Rotobahn, follow me on Twitter. I send out links to all fresh articles and chats as well.
Matt Ryan, Falcons at Packers
The Falcons are going to trail in this game, and it should happen fast. They will go into this game knowing that they’ll have to score a lot of points to win. They will try to get Steven Jackson going to set up some play-action for Ryan to work off of, but in the end, the Falcons have to throw to have any chance at all. Ryan should post solid fantasy statistics based on volume of attempts, and he’s got big-game potential if he gets some pass protection.
Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers at Bengals
It’s hard to see Roethlisberger not making some plays in this game. He’s got a lot of places to throw the football, and his team will need the points based on the way the Steelers have played defense recently. He’s playable if you need him.
He’s a viable option in deeper leagues if you are in need. The Titans are an easy mark, and Manning has enough weapons to get the job done, most notably Odell Beckham. It might not always be pretty, but Manning should have decent numbers by the end of the day. Remember, the Giants need to develop their offense as much as they need to win. New York’s season ended weeks ago. The remaining games are about establishing things that can carry over to 2015. Expect plenty of pass attempts.
Joe Flacco, Ravens at Dolphins
His receivers are an issue, with Steve Smith slowing down and Torrey Smith nursing a sore knee. The Dolphins defense represents a tough road matchup, so this is a situation to avoid. I’ve got at least 16 quarterbacks ranked higher than Flacco this week.
|What we learned Sunday: Bills, Dolphins blow chance to make up ground on Patriots||11.10.14 at 12:32 am ET|
1. The Bills missed out on a golden opportunity to edge closer to the Patriots
Buffalo was at home and controlled the pace for most of the first three quarters, but 14 fourth-quarter points from Kansas City were enough to upend the Bills and come away with a 17-13 win in Orchard Park. Buffalo had a ton of chances all afternoon and appeared to be on the verge of blowing out the Chiefs at one point, but they ended up settling for a pair of field goals after an early touchdown, and added some ill-timed turnovers to make things even worse. The first came on the opening drive of the second half when running back Bryce Brown — three steps from the end zone and posting a touchdown that would have made it 16-3 in the third quarter — had the ball punched away by a Kansas City defender and out of the back of the end zone for a touchback. The second one came when the usually sure-handed punt returner Leodis McKelvin muffed a return attempt in the fourth quarter that paved the way for what would ultimately be the game-winning touchdown, an 8-yard run from quarterback Alex Smith that put the Chiefs ahead for good. With the win, Kansas City has returned to the thick of the AFC playoff picture. Meanwhile Buffalo, which entered the contest 1 1/2 games behind New England in the division, now falls to 5-4, a full two games back of the Patriots.
2. So did the Dolphins
Miami faced a steeper hill to climb, going into Detroit to try and take down the Lions. And like the Bills, they were in control for most of the game. Despite only finishing with one offensive touchdown, the Dolphins built leads of 13-10 and 16-13 in the second half. But with 29 seconds left, Matthew Stafford delivered an Uncle Rico-esque sidearm sling to Theo Riddick, an 11-yard scoring strike to lift the Lions past the Dolphins for the 20-16 win. Ryan Tannehill finished 27-for-38 for 207 yards, with one touchdown and one interception. Something to keep in mind when the Patriots meet the Lions in a few weeks in Foxboro — Detroit has become quite adept at winning close games. Sunday’s victory against Miami was the fourth straight win for the Lions, with their last three wins coming by a combined six points.
3. With the losses by Buffalo and Miami, the divisional picture became even clearer
The Bills and Dolphins both fell to 5-4, a full two games in back of the first-place Patriots. And while there’s a lot of football still to be played (seven games for all three of the team in the division that still have a pulse, to be exact) and Buffalo and Miami still have yet to visit Foxboro this season, it’s starting to appear less and less likely that either team will be capable of overtaking New England down the stretch. That matters because if the Patriots are able to wrap up the division between now and the final three games of the season, the visits from both the Dolphins (Dec. 14) and the Bills (Dec. 28) could be far less impactful that initially believed, at least from a divisional standpoint. In addition, if either Miami or Buffalo has little to play for at that point in the year, it would make it a lot easier for New England to finish up the season with a flourish if there’s home field on the line, or even a first-round bye. (For what it’s worth, the Bills and Dolphins play Thursday in Miami, and the loser will most likely write off any hopes of making the postseason, at least this year.)
4. The Jets helped the Patriots with a win over the Steelers
The Steelers went into MetLife and were shocked by the Jets, 20-13. In what will undoubtedly go down as the high point of the season for Gang Green, New York held Pittsburgh to just three points through the first three-plus quarters. Meanwhile, the Steelers defense — which had shown plenty of signs of improvement over the previous three weeks — were unable to do much to contain Michael Vick and the Jets. The veteran quarterback threw two touchdown passes and became the first quarterback in NFL history to rush for more than 6,000 yards in the win, which avoided a franchise record for consecutive losses.
|Fantasy Football: Week 9 starts, sits||10.31.14 at 10:56 am ET|
Welcome to the Week 9 starts and sits. The bye weeks are here with a vengeance and I’m ready to help. I’ve got a bunch of recommendations for you, and I’ve also posted my full lineup rankings at Rotobahn, just in case you are looking for information on players not listed in this space.
Don’t forget to tune in Sunday morning for another episode of the Fantasy Football Hour with my buddy 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.
Carson Palmer, Cardinals at Cowboys
He’s locked in now. The nerve in his shoulder is working and so is the Arizona offense. While the Cardinals receivers are a bit frustrating because the ball is to be spread around to the open man, Palmer is the guy doing the spreading, and it’s working just fine for his fantasy owners. He’s a solid play this week in Dallas.
Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers vs. Ravens
He’s going to slow down off of last week’s pace by a significant percentage. Of course, even a 50 percent reduction leaves you with tasty fantasy production. That’s how hot Big Ben is. His home matchup with the Ravens is nothing to fear. In fact, they are a better matchup than normal because they will be without their top corner, Jimmy Smith.
Is he a lock? No. The Giants offensive line has been hard to figure — at times looking good and at times looking collectively lost. This week — with New York coming off its bye, I expect solid play from that group. I also expect the offense to be forced into an aggressive mindset. That’s because I expect Andrew Luck to put a lot of points on the board. Manning can help you in any league this week if you need an option and you can accept a little volatility. I think he’s worth the risk.
|Fantasy Football: Week 9 waiver wire||10.28.14 at 11:33 am ET|
In last week’s waiver wire, I told you to be aggressive because there was a lot of talent out there and the bye weeks were going to get here real soon. Well, soon is now. There are six teams on their byes in Week 9, and that will lead to a very active waiver process in most leagues. The good news is that there still are plenty of options, it’s just going to be tougher to win bids.
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.
If you play in really big leagues, as I tend to do, you should head on over to Rotobahn Tuesday afternoon and check out my expanded waiver wire. The expanded edition gives you about twice as many options. 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.
Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers — 74 percent
The most obvious recommendation of the week, but I’m throwing him out there because he is available in more than one out of four leagues. Ride the hot streak if he’s available. The Steelers host the Ravens this week and Baltimore will be without its top cornerback, Jimmy Smith.
Carson Palmer, Cardinals — 50 percent
Palmer is rounding back into shape and can play for you on most weeks. Arizona’s offense is deep and well run by HC Bruce Arians. Add Palmer as a strong QB2 or bye week option. Arizona visits the Cowboys this week.
Manning has been dumped by a lot of owners after a dud in Philadelphia and the season-ending injury to Victor Cruz. While the Cruz injury is significant, it is more than made up for by the addition of Odell Beckham Jr. — a receiver who can pretty much do it all. Manning can help you as a matchup play or bye week option. He has an appealing home matchup with the Colts this week.
Robert Griffin III, Washington — 36 percent
This is not a move for this week, because Griffin may not return until Week 11. Having said that, he could return if he shows his coaches that he’s ready for contact. The reason to go after Griffin is because his upside is so high. The Washington offense is mostly healthy, and with Griffin’s mobility there’s a lot of fantasy potential. If your quarterback spot lacks upside, Griffin is a worthwhile investment.
Blake Bortles, Jaguars — 10 percent
It may not be pretty — in fact, at times Bortles is tough to watch. He’s definitely taking his lumps as he learns on the job — making choices that veterans would never make. On the upside, he adds foot points to the box score with regularity and his team generally is trailing down the stretch of games, so you’ll get volume on most weeks. Consider Bortles as a potential add if you have a Week 9 storm at the position.
Michael Vick, Jets — 3 percent
Vick is the starter now. He can still take chunks of yardage with his feet and that helps. Vick will also have the benefit of having Percy Harvin as he gets more acclimated with the Jets’ offensive system. Vick is definitely worth an add in 12-team leagues. He has more fantasy potential than Geno Smith did. He can help you this week if you are hurting — even in smaller formats.