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Which QB does best job spreading ball around in passing game? 02.18.14 at 6:00 am ET
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Piggybacking on a column we did last year about Tom Brady‘€™s ability to work in new receivers and spread the ball around — and with another full season in the books — we figured we should take another look at some of the league wide numbers when it comes to ball distribution in the passing game.

Using the 250-catch barometer as the mark for involvement, three over-30 veterans continue to set the standard when it comes to getting everyone involved in the passing game, as Brady, Peyton Manning and Drew Brees have managed to make stars out a variety of pass catchers on the way to record-setting seasons.

Using numbers culled from Pro Football Reference — which utilizes stats dating back to 1999 — the three are head and shoulders above the rest of the quarterbacking field when it comes to finding equilibrium in the passing game:

- Since 2001, Brady has completed at least 250 passes in the regular season to four different pass catchers over the course of his 13-year career as a starter: Wes Welker (563), Deion Branch (328), Troy Brown (323) and Kevin Faulk (310). Providing they stay healthy — and, in the case of Julian Edelman, return for 2013 — two more receivers could be added to the mix: Rob Gronkowski had 39 catches in an injury-shortened 2013 season, bringing his total of receptions via Brady to 223. And his 105 catches in 2013 boosted Edelman to 166 career receptions from Brady.

For those of you asking about guys who just missed out on the 250-catch mark with Brady, two jump off the page: one, Randy Moss caught 192 passes from Brady while the two were together in New England, including 98 catches in 2007 and 83 in 2009. And two, Aaron Hernandez finished with 166.

- In that same span, Manning has completed at least 250 passes to three different receivers: Reggie Wayne (779), Marvin Harrison (677) and Dallas Clark (387). Depending on how long he plays, Denver’€™s Demaryius Thomas could also be part of that group as well — he has 185 catches from Manning over the last two seasons, and could reach 250 in 2014 if he and the quarterback can both stay healthy.

To be fair to Manning, that time frame of 2001-2013 does cut off the first three seasons — from 1998 through 2000 — of his career. As a result, some of his early numbers aren’€™t included, particularly the formative years with Harrison, who had 276 regular-season catches with the Colts in that span. Our cutoff also means the work of an excellent pass-catching back like Edgerrin James goes unrewarded. He caught 230 passes from Manning from 2001-2005 before he departed Indy for the Cardinals. In all, James ended up catching a total of 355 passes from Manning while the two were together from 1999-2005.

- While Brady and Manning have impressive totals, when it comes to finding a variety of targets, they’€™re nowhere near Brees. When you combine his work in San Diego and New Orleans, the 35-year-old has complied at least 250 passes to six different receivers: Marques Colston (605), Lance Moore (346), Jimmy Graham (298 over the last four seasons), Reggie Bush (294), Pierre Thomas (284) and LaDainian Tomlinson (254). And a seventh — Darren Sproles — can hit 250 receptions from Brees in 2014. He’€™s already at 235 catches and counting.

When it comes to the next generation, it appears unlikely that anyone will be able to connect with six different pass catchers for at least 250 receptions. Among the quarterbacks who have been in the league for 7-10 seasons, Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers has Greg Jennings (324) and Jordy Nelson (252), but just missed out when Donald Driver (241) called it a career. However, his two wild cards are free agents James Jones (216) and Jermichael Finley (214) — if they both return and are healthy, Rodgers is seemingly a lock to get four pass-catchers to 250-plus receptions.

Ben Roethlisberger also has a good chance of getting to four — he’€™s completed at least 250 passes to three different receivers: Hines Ward (513), Heath Miller (420) and Antonio Brown (250), and could make it four if free agent Emmanuel Sanders (146) ends up sticking around Pittsburgh. Meanwhile Atlanta’€™s Matt Ryan has three, having connected for 250-plus with Roddy White (520), Tony Gonzalez (383) and Harry Douglas (205). And New York‘€™s Eli Manning has Hakeem Nicks (306) and Victor Cruz (241) — he appears to have just missed with Plaxico Burress (244) and Steve Smith (213).

As for the quarterbacks who have between two and five full years in the league, Detroit’€™s Matthew Stafford has found tremendous success with Calvin Johnson (353 catches from Stafford), but Brandon Pettigrew (215) and Nate Burleson (154) are also within hailing distance of the 250-catch mark, providing Burleson somehow makes it back to Detroit. In addition, Indy’€™s Andrew Luck has Wayne (145), T.Y. Hilton (133) and Coby Fleener (78), while Cincinnati’€™s Andy Dalton has benefitted from working with AJ Green (256), Jermaine Gresham (165) and Andrew Hawkins (85).

Read More: aaron rodgers, Andrew Luck, Andy Dalton, Ben Roethlisberger
Fantasy Football: Week 17 starts, sits 12.27.13 at 10:38 am ET
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WEEI_FantasyFootball_2013_hdr_v6

Welcome to the final installment of the 2013 starts and sits. Week 17 is always tricky, which is why the vast majority of fantasy leagues opt to use Week 16 as their bowl week. It’€™s tricky because you never know which teams are going to pull their starters early and which teams will play to win for 60 minutes. I’€™ll do my best to warn you off of a few options and to highlight some safer plays. We’€™ll be doing full Week 17 lineup rankings at Rotobahn, so feel free to head over if you require any additional clarity. I’€™ll also be back at WEEI at 11 a.m. Sunday for our final chat, so stop by if you have any lineup questions.

QUARTERBACKS

START

Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers vs. Browns

They play at 1 p.m., so the Steelers will go out there guns blazing to see if they can put some pressure on the teams ahead of them. They post big numbers when they get the offense going, so Roethlisberger is a solid option in any league this week against a Browns defense that’€™s been shaky lately.

Andrew Luck, Colts vs. Jaguars

He’€™s got a decent home matchup and it’€™s indoors, so we don’€™t need to worry about weather. The Colts have something to play for at this point, though they would need some help from the Patriots and Bengals. It’€™s an early game, so they won’€™t know their fate when they play. Luck is a viable starter in any home matchup. Start him if you need him.

Andy Dalton, Bengals vs. Ravens

The Bengals play early and they can put pressure on the Patriots in the race for the bye if they can win. You can count on the Bengals pushing as hard as they can for four quarters. Dalton is a solid play if you need a Week 17 quarterback. His offensive weaponry makes him dangerous on a weekly basis.

Kirk Cousins, Redskins at Giants

If you really need an option, Cousins should give you solid production, though this is not as good a matchup as he had last week. Washington’s€™ temporary starter is a viable option in 12-team leagues with a hot No. 1 receiver and a stout running game to work off of. There is a chance of rain in the forecast, but nothing as epic as what we saw last week.

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Read More: Andrew Luck, Andy Dalton, Ben Roethlisberger, deangelo williams
Fantasy Football: Week 12 starts, sits 11.22.13 at 10:28 am ET
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WEEI_FantasyFootball_2013_hdr_v6

Welcome to the starts and sits for Week 12. I’ve done my best to find some options from across the spectrum while avoiding the really obvious stuff. This is the last bye week for the NFL, so things get a lot easier going forward for those whose teams are still in the thick of things. If you require more assistance or clarity, head over to Rotobahn and check out our full lineup rankings. Also, make sure you check out the Fantasy Football Podcast with Jim Hackett sponsored by our friends at Mohegan Sun. And, as always, I’ll be here Sunday morning for our chat to help with your Week 12 lineup decisions.

QUARTERBACKS

STARTS

Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers at Browns

He’s gone off in two out of the last three games, and he’s worth a look based on upside alone. He probably will have his best receiver taken away because Cleveland’s Joe Haden is one of the league’s best cornerbacks, but Big Ben has other places he can go with the ball.

Carson Palmer, Cardinals vs. Colts

He’ll have his ups and downs in this weekend’s game because Indy can get a pass rush going sometimes, but he’ll have enough moments throwing to Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd to have a solid fantasy outing.

Josh McCown, Bears at Rams

He’s not fun to watch, but like Shaun Hill on the Lions, he gets the job done. Coach Marc Trestman has done his usual magnificent job with his quarterbacks, and you can expect some solid stats in Week 12. The Rams simply cannot match up with the size and athleticism of the Chicago receivers and tight ends. The Rams could get lit up if they fail to rush the passer, which is the strength of their defense. McCown is a solid option in 12-team leagues.

Mike Glennon, Bucs at Lions

This is a deep play. Glennon is a bit risky on the road, but I like the matchup with the Tampa receivers going against the Detroit defensive backs. I also think the Bucs can hold up better than most teams against the Lions’ nasty front four. Glennon can play for you in a 12-team league if you’re in a bind. The same can be said for Scott Tolzien of the Packers and and Case Keenum of the Texans.

SIT

Ryan Tannehill, Dolphins vs. Panthers

He’s got bad protection, broken weapons and a bad Week 1 matchup. He may get some volume stats, but you can do better in most formats. Leave Tannehill on the bench this week if you have other options.

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Read More: Ben Roethlisberger, Carson Palmer, Josh McCown, Mike Glennon
Fantasy Football: Week 12 waiver wire 11.19.13 at 10:17 am ET
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Welcome to the Week 12 waiver wire. The obvious breakout player this week is Tampa Bay’s Bobby Rainey, who was a recommended pickup in our Week 11 waiver wire.  He’s obviously a high priority pickup this week. Do not pass up a chance to get him as a free agent. I’ll also give a tip of the cap to Shane Vereen, who looked pretty good in defeat Monday night.

This is a time of transition in fantasy football as the byes are coming to an end. This is a tough week, with four teams off, but if you have no bye issues in Week 12, you need to start looking forward now. Middle-of-the-road players who had significant value during the byes are no longer worth as much.

When it comes to free agency, you should be looking for players who can move the needle vs. the fill-in types. It’s a good move to get ahead of the game while a lot of other owners are simply looking to plug holes. I’ve tried to give you the best options to consider, but for those looking to plug a hole, head over to Rotobahn, where I will be adding players throughout the day. We’ll also be updating our Watch List tomorrow. That’s a great source of under-the-radar talent.

QUARTERBACKS

Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers

He’s starting to heat up, with monster games two out of the last three weeks. You actually can add this guy in 34 percent of Yahoo! leagues, so go get him if he’s there. All of his main weapons are healthy now.

Josh McCown, Bears

He’s a viable option this week if you are looking for a quarterback, and he’s still there for the taking in 84 percent of Yahoo! leagues. With news that Jay Cutler’s ankle injury may be more serious than first reported, McCown’s value could extend further down the line. The 12-year veteran has played surprisingly well in Marc Trestman’s system.

Matt McGloin, Raiders

He should start for the Raiders for at least one more week, and he’s looked good enough to be worth something in larger formats. The Raiders host the Titans this week. You can still get McGloin in nearly all leagues.

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Read More: Ben Roethlisberger, Bobby Rainey, Josh McCown, Matt McGloin
Fantasy Football: Week 10 starts, sits 11.08.13 at 10:29 am ET
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Welcome to the Week 10 starts and sits. Just to clarify, these are not the top-rated players at their positions this week. Rather, they are players who are on the edge in terms of the weekly value. If you want my top ranked players at every position, go to Rotobahn.com for our full lineup rankings. Jim Hackett and I will back later Friday with our weekly podcast, and please join us for a Sunday morning chat, as I’ll be here at 11 a.m. to answer all of your lineup questions.

QUARTERBACKS

STARTS

Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers vs. Bills

I’m sticking with Big Ben after he came through for me last week. His matchup gets better going from the Patriots at Foxboro to the Bills on his home field. The Steelers also have a full complement of weapons for the first time in a while with the return of WR Markus Wheaton, who we like a lot. Roethlisberger can help in any league this week.

Terrelle Pryor, Raiders at Giants

He’s the fulcrum of the Oakland offense. Nothing happens without him involved. Pryor should be good for a few big plays against the Giants, who have been giving up plays all year. Pryor is a good option, especially in bigger leagues, and he has big-game potential if things break right.

Eli Manning, Giants vs. Raiders

Yes, there’s risk, but if you are hurting for options, he looks like a good start to me this week. The Giants have slowly become functional on offense, and I think the return of tailback Andre Brown will be another boost — giving Manning another way to make plays in passing situations. He can help you in most formats this week.

Jake Locker, Titans vs. Jaguars

He is playing better, and he should perform well in a sweet home matchup this week. His running game has kicked in, and that opens things up downfield. Plus, Locker can get you extra points with his feet. He can help you this week if you need an option in a big league.

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Read More: Ben Roethlisberger, Carson Palmer, Eli Manning, Jake Locker
Chandler Jones on M&M: ‘I get a front-row seat to watch Tom Brady and this offense go to work’ 11.04.13 at 1:09 pm ET
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Patriots defensive end Chandler Jones and cornerback Kyle Arrington joined Mut & Merloni on Monday to talk about Sunday’s 55-31 win over the Steelers.

Chandler Jones

Chandler Jones

Jones, Arrington and the rest of the Pats defense did not need to be at their best as New England’s Tom Brady-led offense erupted for 55 points and 610 total yards on Sunday at Gillette Stadium.

“I get a front row seat to watch Tom Brady and this offense go to work, and it’s fun,” Jones said.

Brady and Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger dueled as both threw for more than 400 yards and four touchdowns.

“[Roethlisberger is] tremendous, it’s almost like playing that backyard streetball,” Arrington said.

Although the defense did not have its best showing of the season, it stepped up when necessary. The Pats forced three turnovers (two interceptions, one fumble) and sacked Roethlisberger five times. Rookie defensive back Duron Harmon and safety Devin McCourty registered the interceptions, while defensive tackle Joe Vellano recovered the fumble.

“Fourth quarter, I think we did a great job of finishing the game. Offense did a tremendous job of helping us out,” Arrington said. “It was a great team effort yesterday.”

The defensive line once again performed admirably, as Jones led the way with two sacks. Jones continues to thrive in a versatile role that puts him as a traditional defensive end at times, and as an outside linebacker as well.

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Read More: Ben Roethlisberger, chandler jones, Devin McCourty, Duron Harmon
Adam Schefter on D&C: Dolphins OL Jonathan Martin ‘felt threatened, he felt harassed’ by teammate Richie Incognito at 9:50 am ET
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ESPN’s Adam Schefter joined Dennis & Callahan to discuss the ongoing Jonathan Martin bullying saga with the Dolphins, and the health issues of a pair of NFL coaches.

Adam Schefter

Adam Schefter

Miami announced on Sunday the indefinite suspension of offensive lineman Richie Incognito for his role in the alleged bullying of Martin, the Dolphins’ second-year lineman.

Martin left the team for emotional reasons last week, before Miami’s 22-20 overtime win against the Bengals on Thursday. A voicemail left by Incognito on Martin’s phone was the smoking gun, according to Schefter.

“They went over the transcripts of one voicemail last night, and made the determination to suspend Richie Incognito immediately,” Schefter said, adding: “Richie Incognito is on the Dolphins’ leadership council. … It’s unbelievable to think that he wielded his powers the way that he did.”

The reported trigger for Martin’s absence was a lunch room incident. According to ESPN, Incognito also approached Martin last summer to help fund a trip to Las Vegas with a group of Dolphins players. Martin donated $15,000 out of fear of retribution if he didn’t, but he never joined his teammates.

“We’ve seen in the NFL, veterans take rookies out and rookies picking up big dinner tabs and things of this sort,” Schefter said. “This went above and beyond that. This was an example where Jonathan Martin felt threatened, he felt intimidated, he felt harassed.”

It’s unknown when Martin will return to Miami, and how long Incognito’s suspension will last.

“The union is in a very difficult spot, because it is the union’s job to defend Richie Incognito,” Schefter said. “However, once the union gets a copy of this one particular voicemail, and the instances and text messages, the defense is going to be difficult to do.”

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Read More: adam schefter, Ben Roethlisberger, Gary Kubiak, Jack Del Rio
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