|Fantasy Football: Week 8 starts, sits||10.25.13 at 11:26 am ET|
Welcome to the Week 8 starts and sits. This is one ugly week, especially if you play in a big league with a weak waiver wire. With all the byes and all the injuries, there are a lot of fantasy GMs looking for answers. This week is more about finding options than eliminating them. For this reason, you’ll see more starts than usual and fewer sits. I’ll also make an effort to get into the lesser-known options. If you need more lineup clarity, go to Rotobahn.com for full Week 8 lineup rankings. We’ve got you covered.
Tom Brady, Patriots vs. Dolphins
I have to say that I am a bit surprised by all the Brady doubters out there. I am sure there are less of them in the Boston area, but there’s more anti-Brady buzz then I have ever heard, and it might be time to use it to your benefit. I’ve made deals for Brady in two leagues this week. In both deals, the owner of the team trading with me thought they were getting a QB upgrade. I gave up Matt Stafford in one deal and Tony Romo in the other. In the Romo deal, I got back Eddie Lacy in addition to Brady, and all I had to throw back was Fred Jackson. I think I’ll end up winning both sides of that deal. In the Stafford deal, I got Matt Forte in addition to Brady, and I threw the guy T.Y. Hilton. I feel even better about that deal. The point is, in typical leagues, you might be able to get Brady below his true value. I expect him to post better numbers over the second half, and I am willing to gamble on it and buy low right now. I also like Brady a lot as a starter this week. He’s a QB1 in any league size.
Michael Vick, Eagles vs. Giants
He has some risk because of the re-injury factor. Hamstring recoveries always carry that risk. Still, this is a very nice home matchup, and it’s a big game for the Eagles and for Vick, who wants to re-stake his claim to the starter’s job. He’ll do what it takes to get the job done, and he’ll make some big plays to DeSean Jackson. He’s a QB1 in 12-team leagues.
Ryan Tannehill, Dolphins at Patriots
Beggars can’t be too choosy this week, and though he may not be sexy, Tannehill will keep your team in the game. They let him throw the ball a lot, and we project them to be chasing the Patriots on the scoreboard, which means they should be throwing all game. Tannehill may not have a stellar day, but he should get you decent fantasy numbers.
Carson Palmer, Cardinals vs. Falcons
He’s had a tough time this year, but it’s not all his fault. The Cardinals have serious issues on the offensive line, and it probably will be some time in 2014 before coach Bruce Arians gets this offense where he really wants it to be. That said, Palmer has a solid matchup this week against an Atlanta defense that has been fantasy-friendly so far in 2013. He can help you if you are in a jam.
Alex Smith, Chiefs vs. Browns
Smith lacks upside this week and on most weeks. However, he does provide a nice floor, because the Chiefs offense has been consistent and he gets enough balls to the backs and with his feet to cobble together decent fantasy output. He can help you this week if you need a QB. He’s nothing sexy and a big game is unlikely, but he’ll be solid.
Terrelle Pryor, Raiders vs. Steelers
He lacks his typical upside, because the Steelers are disciplined on defense and cut down on big plays. That being said, Pryor is dynamic and he makes things happen one way or the other. He won’t run all over the Steelers like he might on some teams, and his receivers will have trouble getting behind the defense, but they will make their share of plays. Pryor is a viable option in 12-team leagues.
|Fantasy Football: Week 12 starts, sits||11.25.12 at 8:13 am ET|
Welcome to the Week 12 starts and sits. With so many games having already been played, I’m offering fewer players here than usual. If I fail to cover the player or players that you want feedback on, please feel free to stop by our chat Sunday morning at 11 a.m. We also offer full Week 12 positional rankings at Rotobahn.com.
Colin Kaepernick, 49ers at Saints
If you need a quarterback and Kaepernick’s available, I love the move. You might need to be ready to make a switch, and there are limited options due to the late start. That being said, I think he’ll start over Alex Smith. Harbaugh wants to win, and San Francisco has more Super Bowl potential with Kaepernick at the helm. If he starts, I expect good fantasy numbers.
Chad Henne, Jaguars vs. Titans
He’s locked in with no competition, and this is a very good matchup. Henne’s also shown a solid rapport with all of his receivers. If you need a quarterback for Week 12, Henne will work in any format.
Joe Flacco, Ravens at Chargers
He’s just not trustworthy on the road and I’d much rather go with Henne, just to give you a baseline for comparison. Flacco has upside, and he can always have a good day, but you are pressing your luck when you play him on the road against decent competition.
Ronnie Hillman, Broncos at Chiefs
With Willis McGahee out for the year, Hillman should end up being the most valuable back in Denver for fantasy purposes. He is viable in any league and is a legit RB2 option in 12-team leagues.
Fred Jackson, Bills at Colts
With C.J. Spiller now starting, the first instinct might be to sit Jackson, but we’d play him this week in 12-team leagues. The matchup is good and they will still get Jackson the ball enough to be viable, and he is likely to get goal-line touches as he always has. He’s viable this week.
|C.J. Spiller: The ‘three-headed monster’ the Patriots have to stop||11.11.12 at 12:04 pm ET|
FOXBORO — The Patriots held C.J. Spiller to just 33 yards on eight carries on Sept. 30 in Western New York, a big reason why the Patriots were able to hold the Bills scoreless during a 38-0 run that helped them cruise to a 52-28 win.
Before those two games, Spiller had games of 169 and 123 yards against the Jets and Chiefs before getting injured in Week 3 against the Browns. He is averaging over seven yards a carry and has 24 catches out of the backfield at nearly 10 yards a clip.
He is the perfect complement to Fred Jackson and Tashard Choice. And the Patriots know that sweeping the season series starts with repeating their Week 4 effort when they held the Bills under 100 yards rushing and allowed a manageable 3.6 yards per carry.
“Obviously, they’re a two-headed monster, really a three-headed monster,” Jerod Mayo said this week. “Choice provides a spark off the bench as well. Anytime a guy is averaging seven yards a carry, you know they can always take it to the house so it’ll take a group effort. The front seven has to do an excellent job staying on blocks and hopefully making plays.
“His role has increased. He’s doing a lot more things for them. He catching a lot more screens, he’s breaking a lot more runs. I don’t think he was averaging seven yards a carry when we played them the first time.”
While the Patriots have been criticized non-stop for their inability to stop the pass, they’re allowing just 88 yards a game on the ground, tied for seventh in the NFL.
“Yeah, it is [satisfying] but you’re only as good as your last performance so we have to go out here and play well,” Mayo said.
|Setting the scene: Patriots-Bills||09.30.12 at 10:03 am ET|
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — Partly cloudy skies and temperatures in the low 60s are expected for the 1 p.m. ET kickoff between the Patriots and Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Winds should be light out of the northeast between 5-10 mph. Showers are expected to taper off about an hour before kickoff, with an 80 percent chance of rain about an hour into the game.
The Patriots have already ruled out six players, including Pro Bowl left guard Logan Mankins. The offensive lineman will miss the game with a hip injury that caused him to miss practice all week. Mankins was left behind in New England and did not make the trip to Western New York with the team.
To provide insurance along the offensive line with Mankins out, the Patriots brought back Matt Tennant, signing the free agent on Saturday. Tennant, 25, was originally claimed off waivers by the Patriots from New Orleans on Sept. 1 and was released on Sept. 4, 2012. He is a veteran of two NFL seasons with the Saints. The 6-foot-4, 300-pounder was drafted by the Saints in the fifth round (158th overall) of the 2010 NFL Draft out of Boston College. He has played in 28 NFL games as the Saints primary backup at center and guard. Last season, he played in 12 regular season games and both postseason games. Tennant was released by the Saints on Aug. 31, 2012. Tennant will wear No. 69.
Donald Thomas, Marcus Cannon Nick McDonald and Tennant are the options for the Patriots to fill the void left by Mankins, with Dan Connolly possibly shifting to left guard and Thomas filling in at right guard, something Thomas did often in training camp and preseason. Cannon played guard in college before the Patriots moved him to right tackle.
Also out are wide receiver Julian Edelman (left hand), defensive linemen Justin Francis (ankle) and Brandon Deaderick (ankle), defensive back Alfonzo Dennard (hamstring) and tight end Aaron Hernandez (ankle).
As a result, the Patriots will need to scratch just one more player 90 minutes before kickoff. After making his debut last Sunday night, tight end Kellen Winslow was released for what Bill Belichick said was “personal reasons.” As a result, the Patriots head into today’s game with just three active tight ends.
One of those tight ends, Rob Gronkowski, is nursing a hip injury that showed up on Friday’s injury report as questionable but is expected to play.
For the Bills, running backs Fred Jackson (knee) and C.J. Spiller (shoulder) are listed as questionable for the game. Jackson missed the last two weeks with a knee injury while Spiller injured his shoulder in the first quarter of last week’s win in Cleveland.
Jackson has been cleared to play and Spiller is expected to play, according to Tim Graham of the Buffalo News.
The Bills will be looking to beat the Patriots in consecutive seasons for the first time since 1999-2000.
After last week’s debacle with the replacement officials in Baltimore, this week marks the first weekend back with the regular officials. John Parry will be the lead referee, wearing No. 132. The 47-year-old Parry has 12 years of NFL officiating experience and has been a referee since 2007. He is familiar with the Patriots, having served as the referee of Super Bowl XLVI in Indianapolis.
Parry will be joined Dan Ferrell (umpire), Derick Bowers (head linesman), Rusty Baynes (line judge), Scott Edwards (field judge), Ron Torbert (side judge) and Perry Paganelli (back judge).
|In the wake of Sunday’s action, five takeaways for Patriots fans||11.21.11 at 12:42 am ET|
Five things for Patriots fans to take away from an entertaining day of football:
1. It’s officially time to write off the Bills. The wheels have come off the Buffalo bandwagon completely, so much so that Miami, which is now at 3-7, could ultimately end up winning more games than the 5-5 Bills. Buffalo, which started the season promisingly and was in first place three weeks ago with a 5-2 record, has now lost its last three games and has been outscored 106-26 while doing so. In addition, the Bills continue to lose players at an alarming rate. On Sunday they lost wide receiver Donald Jones and Terrence McGee to serious leg injuries, and running back Fred Jackson left in the second half with a leg injury. This comes on the heels of recent season-ending injuries to starting center Eric Wood (knee), defensive tackle Kyle Williams (foot) and linebacker Shawne Merriman (Achilles tendon).
2. Should they get themselves a bye and avoid the mess of the opening weekend of the postseason, they Patriots should consider themselves lucky they won’t have to chance it against a team like the Bengals, or perhaps the Ravens. Those two teams went hard at each other on Sunday, and even though legendary Baltimore linebacker Ray Lewis missed his first game since 2007 with a toe injury, the Ravens managed to hold off the Bengals, 31-24. The win could end up sending three AFC North teams to the postseason — Baltimore and Pittsburgh are tied for the top spot at 7-3, while Cincinnati is a game off the pace. Even though the Ravens have been maddening at times this year — they’ve lost to Tennessee, Jacksonville and Seattle but also beaten Pittsburgh and Houston — their veteran savvy and solid running game make them a threat.
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|Bye-Week Breakdown: Defensive backs||10.24.11 at 10:56 am ET|
With the Patriots off this week, we’ve got our Bye-Week Breakdown, a position-by-position look at the Patriots at the six-week mark. We’ve already examined every one of the offensive positions so far, as well as the defensive line and linebackers. Now, we take a look at the defensive backs.
Depth chart: Devin McCourty, Leigh Bodden, Kyle Arrington, Antuwan Molden, Ras-I Dowling, Patrick Chung, James Ihedigbo, Josh Barrett, Sergio Brown. (In addition, Phillip Adams and Ross Ventrone have been on and off the roster from the practice squad.)
Overview: The secondary has had lots of movement since the start of camp — notables like Darius Butler, James Sanders and Brandon Meriweather are gone, and as the new faces have played together there have been plenty of rough patches. However, it appears that the Patriots have played more zone coverage the last couple of weeks, which may be the reason we’ve seen more improvement in the secondary.
After a stellar rookie season, McCourty has been targeted a lot through the first six weeks of his second season (check out the stats below) and while he has been physical and competitive on most occasions, he’s clearly not ready to take that next step into elite status just yet. While Bodden and Dowling have been hampered by injury and Molden remains a part-time player, the real find this season has been Arrington. The Hofstra product had always been a quality nickel corner with good physical skills, but he’s made a big leap forward this year, so much so he was leading the league in picks through six weeks with four.
At safety, Chung remains a stable and reliable presence. However, the Patriots are still seeking consistency opposite him. Barrett and Brown have struggled, but Ihedigbo has played well the last two weeks. Against the Jets and Cowboys, Ihedigbo has been slotted next to Chung (the UMass product has missed only five snaps the last two games) and appeared to mostly hold his own. It remains a question as to whether or not he’s a long-term answer at the spot, but he appears to be the safest bet at the position in the coming weeks.
Best moment: Arrington had a pair of picks in the loss to Buffalo, probably the finest moment of the season for an occasionally group of beleaguered defensive backs.
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|The opposing view: Controlling Darren McFadden – ‘One of the best players in football’||10.01.11 at 9:40 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Last Sunday in Western New York, the Patriots were able to mostly hold Fred Jackson in check until his 38-yard catch from Ryan Fitzpatrick that set up the game-winning field goal in the closing seconds.
This week, the task figures to be even tougher as they go up against another big, physical back who again enters his game against the Patriots leading the NFL in rushing.
But while the Bills were a good running team who like the “spread” and “hurry-up” offensive attacks, the Raiders are a powerful team that loves to run the ball down your throat. Darren McFadden can kill you with his 6-foot-2, 210-pound frame or he can turn on the burners like he did last week with a 70-yard TD run.
“Not everybody is built the same or does exactly the same, but we try to explain to our players what the other team does or what the other players do on the other team if they have a certain style or technique or something like that,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said when asked how they plan to try and bring down McFadden. “Our guys try to do a pretty good job of replicating that in practice. We do the best we can on it.
“Some weeks it probably looks a little better than it does on other weeks just because the person who is doing it [has] similar styles or whatever it happened to be. We try to do that and the quarterbacks try to simulate the other quarterbacks; the defensive backs try to play like the defensive backs play that we’re going to play. We deal with that every week. I think the players do a pretty good job of trying to understand how to give the look to the other side of the ball. We just do the best we can with it.”
The Raiders have run for 190, 131 and 234 yards, respectively, in their first three games. Not surprisingly, the 190-yard effort against Denver and the 234-yard performance against the Jets last week resulted in wins. Those performances have certainly made a believer of Hue Jackson, in his first full year as Raiders head coach.
“I think Darren McFadden is one of the best players in football,” Jackson said. “I’ve said that and I’ll go on record saying that. He’s one of the finest football players and running backs in this league, bar none, and I stand behind that as his head coach and as his coordinator. He is as good as there is in football.”
Jackson said he’s not concerned about a groin issue that slowed him after Week 1.
“He won’t be down all week, I guarantee that,” Jackson predicted. “That’s just not him. He likes to compete, he likes to practice and prepare to get ready. We’ll do whatever we need to do to make sure he’s fine. I think he’s fine for the most part. He’ll go out and practice and get ready to play.”
McFadden is nearly identical to Buffalo’s Jackson in stature and production. He is 6-foot-2, 210 pounds and can run between the tackles and then use the stiff-arm with best of them to ward off would-be defenders. He did that on opening night on Sept. 12 in Denver when he ran the ball 22 times for 150 yards in a win over the Broncos.
If you load the box against McFadden, the Raiders can burn you in the passing game, as Jason Campbell found McFadden seven times on passes in the Week 2 loss to the Bills. McFadden finished with 72 yards rushing on 21 carries while he had 71 yards on seven catches.
McFadden, nursing a sore groin, returned to form on the ground last week in the 34-24 win over the Jets. He ran the ball 19 times for career-high 171 yards, including a career-best 70-yard TD run.
This is no mistake. The Raiders ranked second in the NFL in rushing last season, running for over 100 yards 13 times. McFadden rushed for 1,157 yards, the fifth-highest total in Raiders history.
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