|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.
|Tavon Wilson shows he can ‘play with a lot of confidence’||09.11.12 at 9:59 am ET|
FOXBORO — Tavon Wilson has shown two traits key to be a rookie contributor in the Patriots defensive scheme. He is a quick learner and plays fearlessly. Two traits that Bill Belichick saw in him on film at Illinois and why he chose to use a second round pick on him in April’s draft.
Wilson had a chance to show off those traits and play more than many expected in the season opener on Sunday in Nashville.
With Patrick Chung seeing limited playing time in the two weeks leading up to the season opener because of a shoulder injury on Aug. 20 against the Eagles, the rookie safety out of Illinois played some strong safety, coming up to help in coverage on Titans tight end Jared Cook and helping in run support on Chris Johnson.
“He’s got good size, he’s a physical player, he runs well, I think he’ll mix it up in the running game and can blitz; can do those types of things,” Belichick said of his rookie safety. “He’s done a decent job for us at that. He’s still learning. It’s kind of a new position for him but he’s picked it up okay. We’ll see how it goes.”
“I think it went well,” Wilson said Monday. “It was great that we got the win. That’s the most important thing, that we got the win. It’s always great to win. Now, we’re on to Arizona.”
Ironically, his biggest play came in the passing game when Jake Locker tried to go deep for Nate Washington in the second quarter. Kyle Arrington was in coverage in the end zone and the ball careened off Arrington’s face mask and into the hands of Wilson.
“It just happened to be an interception,” said Wilson, who had three tackles and an assist in his first NFL game. “Right place at the right time I guess. It was a good play. Something that just happened. I wouldn’t say it’s a big relief. It was good to have. It was something good to have.
“I just kept running. If you run to the ball, great things happen for you.”
Something else that’s not just good to have but essential to success in the NFL is confidence.
“I just feel like I go out there and play with a lot of confidence, regardless,” Wilson said. “Even if you’re making those plays at defensive back, you have to go out there and play with a lot of confidence. That’s something I pride myself on is going out there and playing with a lot of confidence every single play.
“It was a team effort. It was a team effort containing all those guys. We just went out there and gave it a good team effort. We did a pretty good job on him. But that’s behind us now and it’s on to Arizona.”
|Vince Wilfork on Pats D in opener: ‘I think we’ll do some special things’||09.09.12 at 5:40 pm ET|
To Vince Wilfork, Sunday’s dominating defensive effort against one of the best running backs in the NFL is an example of the great potential of this Patriots defense.
Chris Johnson was held to a career-low four yards on 11 carries as the Patriots defense completely shut down the Titans, 34-13, at LP Field in a season-opening win.
“I think it’s a mix of everything,” Wilfork said afterward. “When you put 11 guys together and you have goals, you don’t want to let the guy beside you down. Our goals every year is being able to stop the run, good third down and red area defense. So, today we responded well against the run. I think throughout the preseason, we showed improvement each week. This is something I think that can be a backbone for us, going into each game giving teams just one dimension. That will help us tremendously. That’s what we’re looking forward to.
“Very excited about these guys, very, very happy with the performance these guys came out with as a team and as a unit, especially as a defensive lineman coming out and holding a great back to only four yards. That was good team defense. And it’s just not the guys up front, it’s the backers, secondary at times. As long as we continue to play better and get better as a team, I think we’ll do some special things.”
Even Tom Brady was impressed from the sidelines.
“I tell you, they’ve been playing like that all preseason on defense,” Brady said. “We see them in practice every day. They’re very competitive, they’re competitive on the outside, rush the quarterback, get turnovers, do a good job of covering the backs out of the backfield. There was a lot of team defense out there.”
Wilfork said he could sense something special was brewing this week in practice.
“We came in feeling good, happy with the way we practiced, way we prepared,” Wilfork said. “I think everybody was confident and it showed today. This is a good team win. You’re talking three phases of your team, special teams, offense and defense coming together and getting the team victory. It’s great to have that, especially in your first game, on the road in a tough environment. I think we responded very, very well. Definitely something to build on.
“It wasn’t perfect. It’s the start of the season so there are some things that we still need to work on and get better. The key for us now is to go back, watch film, make corrections, move forward and get better as a team. I think everybody’s mind-frame, that’s where we’re at right now.”
Never was the defensive preparation on display more than when the Titans were threatening on first and goal at the Patriots 1 early in the fourth quarter. The Titans were trailing 28-10 and the obvious call was to hand off to Johnson. They did and the Patriots read it to perfection, overloading with pursuit to the strong side, Wilfork (shown in above photo) broke through and drilled Johnson for a five-yard loss and suddenly, it was 2nd and goal from the 6. The Titans were forced to settle for a field goal.
“Just preparation,” Wilfork said. “That’s one thing we went through this week, knowing tendencies down there. That was all play-calling. I can’t really take credit for that. That was play-calling, perfect play-calling on defense putting me in that position to make that play. If that other 10 guys didn’t do their job, it probably would’ve created a problem also. I know I made the tackle but trust me, it’s my teammates and coaches that put me in that position to make that play.”
|Vince Wilfork: Pats D has to ‘hit the ground running’||09.06.12 at 7:39 pm ET|
FOXBORO — The man who has seen more on the Patriots defense than anyone else knows the potential of this group.
Vince Wilfork sees two first-round picks added in April’s draft. He watched as Bill Belichick used his first six picks on defense. He’s seen the Patriots draft defense in 12 of their last 20 picks going back to 2010.
Now, with names like Chandler Jones and Dont’a Hightower added to Brandon Spikes, Ras-I Dowling, Devin McCourty, Jerod Mayo, Kyle Love and Patrick Chung, Wilfork knows it’s time for the Patriots D to step up. And stepping up begins Sunday in Nashville against the Titans.
But at 30 years of age, Wilfork stands with Tom Brady as the only Patriots that have Super Bowl rings in their jewelry collection. Wilfork said Thursday he’s not feeling his age heading into the opener – and that’s a good thing.
“I don’t feel it,” said Wilfork, who turns 31 on Nov. 4. “That’s something I never look at. Every year I know it’s a year under your belt. But when I’m playing I don’t feel like I’m 30 or nine years in. I’m like everyone else; I come to work, work hard, and expect the same out of my teammates. As long as you keep that mind frame, you can play as long as you want to play.
“It’s very excited to get going. We’re on the road and it’s going to be a tough game for us. But we can’t look back now. We have to hit the ground running and I’m looking forward to it.”
Obviously, the biggest challenge will be containing the refreshed and rejuvenated Chris Johnson, a one-time perennial Pro Bowl running back with explosive power and speed.
“You have to have the passion for it. I love it, and I love playing with my teammates; love playing for this organization,” he said. “Whatever I can do to make this team better, that’s what I’m going to do.” Read the rest of this entry »
|Drafting running backs remains an inexact science||03.17.11 at 9:42 pm ET|
Some positions in the NFL draft require more attention early on than others. For example, if your team is in need of a quarterback, history shows that while there can be risk in spending a Top 10 pick on a signal-caller, you’re far more likely to go wrong by choosing one in the second or third round.
While quarterback is a position best addressed in the first round (or, if you’re lucky, the 199th overall pick), not every position necessarily screams “high pick.” Of course, punters go untouched in the early part of the draft, but other positions — even the occasional kicker — have been fair game in the first two rounds over time. Still, for an event that is defined by finding value, trends over the years have shown that certain positions may not represent the utmost value high in the draft.
It could be argued that one such position is running back. Despite being a position that plays such a crucial role in the average NFL offense, running backs that get big attention on draft day don’t necessarily provide a big payoff for their teams. Here’s a look at every running back selected in the top two rounds of the last five drafts:
16th overall — Ryan Mathews
30th overall — Jahvid Best
36th overall — Dexter McCluster
51st overall — Toby Gerhart
58th overall — Ben Tate
12th overall — Knowshon Moreno
27th overall — Donald Brown
31st overall — Beanie Wells
53rd overall — LeSean McCoy
4th overall — Darren McFadden
13th overall — Jonathan Stewart
22nd overall — Felix Jones
23rd overall — Rashard Mendenhall
24th overall — Chris Johnson
44th overall — Matt Forte
55th overall — Ray Rice
7th overall — Adrian Peterson
12th overall — Marshawn Lynch
49th overall — Kenny Irons
50th overall — Chris Henry
52nd overall — Brian Leonard
63rd overall — Brandon Jackson
2nd overall — Reggie Bush
21st overall — Laurence Maroney
27th overall — DeAngelo Williams
30th overall — Joseph Addai
45th overall — LenDale White
60th overall — Maurice Jones-Drew
Of those 28 players, eight finished Top 20 in the league in rushing yards last season. Of course, simply looking at last season doesn’t tell the whole story.
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