|Fantasy Football: Week 9 starts, sits||11.03.12 at 12:11 pm ET|
Welcome to the Week 9 starts and sits. It’s been a rough week for yours truly and all New Yorkers, but I’m now up in Boston with friends — fully loaded with bandwidth and a large coffee. Let’s get into Week 9, shall we? For those of you looking for full rankings, we will be adding them at Rotobahn.com throughout the day as we play catchup in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. We also will be hosting our weekly Sunday chat right here, so check back Sunday at 11 a.m. if you have any pressing lineup questions.
Cam Newton, Panthers at Redskins
Yes, Newton was a lock starter going into the season, but we’ve received enough e-mails about him to put him here. Newton should step up in this game against Robert Griffin III. The bigger issue is the Washington defense, which is prone to lapses in coverage. Newton is a good play here and he has some upside, too. He’s a good play in any league.
Josh Freeman, Buccaneers at Raiders
Stick with Freeman this week in a plus matchup at Oakland. His receivers are making plays and now he has ground support with a surging Doug Martin.
Joe Flacco, Ravens at Browns
There’s some risk due to how poorly he’s played lately, but we wouldn’t be afraid of using him here. The Ravens have had two weeks to prepare for this game and they are well coached. They should be ready. Flacco is a viable start in 12-team leagues.
Ryan Fitzpatrick, Bills at Texans
Fitz is a very risky play on the road against a quality opponent. Just look at what he did in Weeks 5 and 6 if you require proof. The Bills most likely will be chasing in the game, so there’s some hope, but we’d strongly consider other options in all leagues.
Ryan Tannehill, Dolphins at Colts
Two big things here: Tannehill is not a lock to play, so even if you are going to roll with him, you need a Plan B. The more important thing is the in-game risk. There’s a solid chance that he could start but not finish, and that’s what worries us most. He’s got an easily aggravated injury. The matchup is a very good one, but we’d look for more secure options in Week 9.
|No Madden cover for Rob Gronkowski||04.11.12 at 11:43 am ET|
All the promotional videos in the world couldn’t help Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, as he lost in the quarterfinals for the Madden 13 cover vote to Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson, 63 percent to 37, it was revealed Wednesday morning. Johnson advances to the semifinals against Panthers quarterback Cam Newton, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis.
|Mike Mayock feels Patriots need to add defense, a receiver in NFL draft||02.15.12 at 4:02 pm ET|
NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock held a conference call with reporters Wednesday afternoon. The Patriots are picking 28th and 31st overall in the first round and have two picks in the second round, and Mayock said they would be wise to focus on defense early.
“They have two picks in the first round — what a surprise,” Mayock said. “Bill [Belichick] is a master at letting the board come to him, so I don’t even think Bill will know really until that last week prior to the draft what specific players he’s interested in. The way I look at it is it’s got to be all about defense. You’re sitting there with two picks, with the ability to move up, down or stay at 27 and 31. In a league where it’s a pass-first league, I was kind of happy to see the return of defense in the playoffs and the Super Bowl, but let’s be honest about it — there are a lot of teams, including the Patriots, that want a track meet every week, which means you have to rush the quarterback and you have to defend on the back end. I think those are the two areas of need that kind of cry out for some help in the draft for the Patriots.”
Mayock said that when it comes to offense, the Pats should focus on getting a vertical receiever. He noted that he believes the draft features four first-round receivers, and many big receivers who need to run well at next week’s combine to prove their worth.
“[Wes] Welker has had career years and those two tight ends are exceptional, which has kind of changed the way a lot of people look at offense in this league,” Mayock said. “I think you have to give Bill and his coaching staff a lot of credit for crafting what they’ve crafted with that offense. However, having said that, between Welker and the tight ends, they’re based in the middle of the field more than they are vertically. I think a vertical wide receiver could really help them.”
As for projected first overall pick Andrew Luck, Mayock said the Stanford quarterback is “not Tom Brady or Peyton Manning,” but that he is a better prospect than the likes of Matt Ryan and Cam Newton have been in recent years.
|Michael Lombardi on D&C: Patriots D-line ‘has to play a lot better’||12.09.11 at 9:31 am ET|
NFL Network analyst Michael Lombardi made his weekly appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show Friday morning to talk about the Patriots and league news.
The Patriots visit Washington Sunday. The Redskins are only 4-8, but Lombardi said there are some concerns.
“Defensively, they’re a really good team,” he said. “They’re two outside rushers, Ryan Kerrigan, the rookie, and Brian Orakpo, they can put pressure on the quarterback. They do a wonderful job of tipping passes. They’re inside, Barry Cofield, has tipped seven passes, which is a lot. Some defensive backs don’t tip seven passes all season. So, they’re great at being able to tip the ball, they can put a lot of pressure on you, and they’re scheme is a little bit more complex than some of the schemes the Patriots have seen the last two weeks. They strength of this team is defensively, and they’re really good in the red zone. Once the Patriots move the ball — which they will move the ball effectively — they’ve got to score touchdowns.
“Offensively, it’s a work in progress. Rex Grossman makes too many mistakes. If he gets pressure up the middle he throws off his back foot. Never going to be good. Santana Moss is their best skill player. Anthony Armstrong has great vertical speed but he’s not a consistent player. I think he’s got six catches, two of them for touchdowns. So, he can make some plays.
“I think for the Patriots, they’ve got to handle the beginning of the game, the Mike Shanahan script, get through that. And then they’ve got to be able to build a lead and make Rex Grossman become desperate. If they let this running game have some balance and become effective with Roy Helu then I think it’s going to be a little bit of a tougher game. This offensive line, especially losing Trent Williams, is the weakest part of the team.”
The Patriots have turned heads by inserting offensive players into key roles in the defensive backfield. But Lombardi said the key for the defense starts up front.
“I think their defensive line has to play a lot better,” he said. “I think if you look at what happened in the fourth quarter of the Colts game, 16 first downs, obviously giving up all those points is something that probably [Bill] Belichick has driven his message home to the players all week long. I think the defensive line was disappointing in not being able to rush and put more pressure on [Dan] Orlovsky and make him get rid of the ball quicker.
“I think obviously they need Patrick Chung back. I think they need to get healthy in their secondary. They need Dane Fletcher back. They need more speed on defense. And I think as they get through this patchwork area of their team, they’ve got to get these other players back. Those are the ones they’re counting on — [Brandon] Spikes, they need Fletcher back, they need Chung back, and they need to get healthier as a full football team.”
|Check out the first meeting of the top two passers in the NFL, Tom Brady and Cam Newton||09.19.11 at 4:59 pm ET|
FOXBORO — The folks at Under Armour have to be loving this — the first two weeks of the season, its two marquee pitchmen (Tom Brady and Cam Newton) are a 1-2 in the league in total passing yards. Brady has 940 yards through two games, while the rookie out of Carolina has 854 yards. Here’s the video of their first meeting:
|Reports: Cam Newton comes to terms with Panthers||07.29.11 at 6:33 pm ET|
First-overall pick Cam Newton agreed to a four-year contract with the Panthers Friday evening, according to multiple reports. The deal is believed to be for $22 million, all of which is guaranteed. The deal includes an option for a fifth year that is included for all first-round picks under the new collective bargaining agreement.
Newton threw for 2,854 yards and 30 touchdowns while running for 1,473 yards and 20 scores for Auburn last season en route to winning the Heisman trophy. Those numbers made him the consensus No. 1 pick by the time the draft rolled around.
Newton can be considered one of the losers of the new CBA. Last season, 2010 number-one pick Sam Bradford grabbed a six-year, $78 million deal last season with the Rams with $50 million of that being guaranteed. If it is to be assumed that Newton would have received a similar deal, then the former Auburn star would have lost out on $28 million in guarantees.
|Patriots start setting up agreements with undrafted free agents||07.26.11 at 12:10 am ET|
As of Monday night — with some help from our pals over at NEPatriotsDraft.com — we have been able to find out that the Patriots have been able to reach agreements with six undrafted free agents. (Undrafted free agents cannot officially sign until Tuesday at 10 a.m.) Here are quick thumbnail sketches of each player:
Cal kick returner/wide receiver Jeremy Ross: The 5-foot-11, 213-pound Ross — a college teammate of Patriots’ second-round draft pick Shane Vereen — Tweeted out the information of his signing himself early in the evening. He finished his career second on Cal’s all-time punt return average list with an average of 15.2 yards per punt return (31 returns, 471 yards, one TD), behind only the 16.7 posted by DeSean Jackson (2005-07). In addition, he totaled 2,287 all-purpose yards (201 rushing, 764 receiving, 471 punt return, 851 kick return), with an average of 53.2 yards per contest. The 23-year-old played in 43 games with 14 starts, recording 57 catches for 764 yards (13.4 ypr) and three touchdowns. Here’s video of him in action.
Akron offensive tackle Corey Woods: A huge prospect — he checks in at 6-foot-5 and 315 pounds — Woods is a four-year starter who has some positional versatility (he could ultimately move to guard at the NFL level).
Auburn offensive lineman Mike Berry: A 6-foot-3, 316-pounder who cleared a path this past season for Cam Newton, he’s an interior lineman who played mostly guard. (For what it’s worth, his brother initially posted a Tweet saying Berry had signed with New England, but the Tweet was immediately taken down. Not sure what this means, but it bears watching.) Regardless, here’s video of him in action.
Rutgers defensive end Alex Silvestro: A college teammate of last year’s first-round pick Devin McCourty, the 6-foot-3, 267-pound Silvestro was a three-year starter with the Scarlet Knights who led Rutgers with 14.5 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks this past season, earning defensive MVP honors for the Scarlet Knights. A defensive end who has played some defensive tackle over the course of college career.
Iowa linebacker Jeff Tarpinian: A 6-foot-2, 235-pounder who played for former Bill Belichick assistant Kirk Ferentz at Iowa, he had 93 tackles over his collegiate career, finishing his senior season with a career-best 47 tackles and a pair of sacks. A former defensive back who moved to linebacker in 2007, he was an academic all-Big 10 all four years with the Hawkeyes. There’s a big buildup, but you have to figure the video below was the highlight of his collegiate career.
Texas offensive tackle Kyle Hix: Hix is a Texas product who checks in at a massive 6-foot-7 and 319 pounds. He started 11 games at left tackle last season and helped Texas average 382.5 total yards per game, including 232.0 passing yards and 150.5 rushing yards.
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