|Fantasy Football: Week 15 starts, sits||12.12.14 at 10:38 am ET|
Welcome to the Week 15 starts and sits! It’s high-stakes fantasy football in all leagues this week. A loss means a spot in the consolation round next weekend while a win earns you a trip to the bowl game … unless you play in a league that uses Week 17 (bad idea) for its big game. I’ve done my best to find some good talent that is not too obvious or obscure. I mean, if you have an elite quarterback, you don’t need me to tell you to start him. If you are looking for advice on players not listed in this space, you can check out my full lineup rankings over at Rotobahn. They are comprehensive and they are free of cost or obligation.
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.
Jay Cutler, Bears vs. Saints
He’s got QB1 upside in all formats, but he’s always a potential adventure, and I am sure some of the Cutler owners out there are concerned about the loss of Brandon Marshall. It’s certainly not a positive, but the Bears have enough depth at the skill positions to weather the storm. I expect new starter Marquess Wilson to perform well, and Cutler still has Alshon Jefferey, Martellus Bennett and Matt Forte to work with. The Bears’ starter can help you. He’s my 11th-ranked QB this week.
Mark Sanchez, Eagles vs. Cowboys
I am sure that last week scared some people off of Sanchez as a fantasy option. Even by my own math, there are about 12 options that I would rather use, but if Sanchez is your highest-ranked option, you need not worry too much. He’s more than capable of posting QB1-caliber numbers this week at home against Dallas. Collectively, the Eagles receivers are more talented than the Cowboys defensive backs.
He’s not a lock for a great performance, but he’s a viable play this week, and Odell Beckham gives him a weapon potent enough to score from any spot on the gridiron. Manning can help you this week if you need a quarterback in any league. You throw to beat Washington, and I suspect that is what the Giants will do … throw a lot and win.
If you are looking for a lock starter, then Manziel can’t help you. Guys making their first NFL start will always be a bit unpredictable, but there is a place for Manziel in a lot of lineups. I know I will have him active in a few leagues this weekend on teams where I have been streaming my quarterback all season long. To me, Manziel and his foot-point potential offer a higher floor and ceiling than most of the other streaming options such as Ryan Fitzpatrick, Joe Flacco or Kyle Orton. He should be good for decent numbers and has plenty of upside because he can score for you as a runner or a passer. It’s Johnny Football time, and he’s playable if you need him.
Ryan Tannehill, Dolphins at Patriots
New England is a tough matchup for Tannehill on paper. It goes something like this: The Patriots are outstanding at funneling the underneath routes to the middle of the field, which should limit the Dolphins in terms of moving the chains. The deep game is limited by Tannehill himself, as his deep-ball accuracy has been exceedingly poor. I’m not touching the Dolphins passing game this weekend if I can avoid it.
Andy Dalton, Bengals at Browns
He’s a one-trick pony right now going up against a deep defense that can handle Dalton’s single trick (A.J. Green) while slowing down the running game. Dalton will need to play well above average to post good numbers here, and I am not betting on that in such a crucial situation.
|Darrelle Revis Report, Week 8: Will Marshall plan be utilized against familar foe?||10.24.14 at 12:10 pm ET|
Each week, we’ll present The Darrelle Revis Report, a look at what’s on tap for the Patriots cornerback. This week, New England will host the Bears.
Last week: Because the game was now over a week ago, we won’t spend too much time looking back, but in his first game against the Jets as a member of the Patriots, Revis didn’t have anything special lined up on the night. Instead, it was a relative mix of zone and man coverage throughout the evening — mostly against Eric Decker, at least when it was man coverage. In all, it was a relatively uneventful night for Revis, who yielded three catches on the night (one appeared to be in man coverage and two in zone), while adding two tackles and a big pass deflection on third down with 11:02 left in the fourth quarter in the 27-25 win over the Jets. By our highly unscientific count, in seven games, Revis has now allowed 18 catches on 32 targets for 263 yards this year, with one touchdown and one interception.
Looking ahead: The Patriots will host the Bears in a showdown between corners and receivers that could get very interesting. Revis and Brandon Marshall already have a history together (more on that in a bit), but in addition, Alfonzo Dennard and Alshon Jeffery mixed it up as collegians. In the Capital One Bowl, the two went head-to-head and ended up throwing punches.
The challenge of facing the biggest receiving tandem of the year — Marshall is 6-foot-4 and 230 pounds, while Jeffery is 6-foot-3 and 216 pounds — will certainly make for an interesting afternoon.
“You just have to cover them the best you can,” Revis said. “When you’re playing against bigger guys, [they] will try and shield their body and try and catch the ball and try and shield you away from the ball. We’ve had our fair share of [covering] bigger guys. The Bengals game, those guys were very big. This is probably the biggest yet, across the board at tight end and wide receiver. Like I said, we just have to try and play through them to get to the ball.”
Possible man matchups this week (with the understanding that it won’t solely be one on one): The Revis-Marshall matchup might be the best and most intriguing one-on-one battle for the Patriots corner to this point in the season. Marshall, who has 31 catches for 349 yards with five touchdowns this season, has gone head-to-head with Revis on a number of occasions, and the New England corner spoke fondly of those battles this week.
“Great receiver, man. This week, we have our hands full in two big receivers in him and Jeffery. We’re looking forward to it — I’m sure he is too,” Revis said when he was asked about Marshall. “I know Brandon personally. It’s football, man. We compete … that’s what we do for a living. We had our battles in the past. It’s great, man. This week is going to be great.”
In all, Marshall has lined up across from Revis on four separate occasions, but the cornerback has usually gotten the better of the 6-foot-4, 230-pound receiver. According to Pro Football Focus, Revis has allowed nine receptions on 23 targets for 112 yards without a touchdown when facing Marshall. Revis also has an interception (in 2011) and seven deflected passes when facing Marshall.
Here’s a relatively good breakdown of a 2011 contest between the Jets and Dolphins that featured Revis against Marshall, a game that included that aforementioned pick against Marshall. (You’re going to want to mute the audio, or at least pop on some earphones.)
As for going against Cutler, Revis has faced him twice, and the corner has been beaten twice, both when he was with the Jets: In a Nov. 30, 2008 contest against the Broncos, Revis had three tackles in a 34-17 defeat to Denver. And on Dec. 26, 2010 against Chicago, Revis had four tackles in a 38-34 loss. He has no interceptions against Cutler.
Money quotes: “He’s smart and he’s big. Probably about 6-foot-4 or something. Very physical at the line. A possession type receiver who can go deep as well and run after catches — he’s taken hitches 60, 70, 80 yards. Like I said, we know what type of players they are. We respect them a lot. We know how explosive they are in the passing game, and we have to be able to stop that.” — Revis on Marshall
“Darrelle Revis is one of the best in the business; has been for a long time. A lot of times he goes with the No. 1 receiver and matches him and shadows him throughout the game. We’ll see what he does against us.” — Cutler on Revis
One more thing: The size of the Chicago receivers could make the Patriots switch things up — at least in the red zone –when it comes to man coverage. After all, New England does have one of the only cornerback combos in Revis (5-foot-11, 198 pounds) and Brandon Browner (6-foot-4, 221 pounds) who are built to handle the size of a pairing like Jeffery and Marshall. If Browner is in a better place than he was last week when it comes to his football fitness, Browner could end up getting more snaps than Dennard.
|Tom Waddle on D&C: Bears QB Jay Cutler’s inconsistencies, struggles ‘just maddening’||10.22.14 at 9:39 am ET|
Former Bears receiver and current ESPN radio host Tom Waddle joined Dennis & Callahan on Wednesday to discuss the Patriots’ upcoming game against Chicago. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
During Sunday’s game against the Dolphins, there were problems for the Bears both on and off the field. The team was booed off the field by the home crowd, and after the game ended, wide receiver Brandon Marshall reportedly had a beef with some teammates, mainly quarterback Jay Cutler. This discontent in the locker room has many asking if there will be an effect on the team this week.
“It’s more likely it would galvanize than fracture,” Waddle said. “But my guess is it won’t have any effect on it at all. Here in Chicago and nationally it’s just crazy. The report was that Brandon Marshall called out Jay Cutler. I understand what happened, Brandon went to the locker room, he’s an emotional guy, the locker room is an emotional place win, lose or draw. He started yelling about different things. … I don’t think it’ll play a factor at all at Foxboro this week.”
As good as Cutler has been at quarterback, at times he has looked inconsistent. The hosts wondered if there is a way to determine which Cutler we’ll see before the game starts.
Said Waddle: “You see brilliance, then you see that ‘boom goes the dynamite’ mistake as we like to call it in Chicago where you’re just like, ‘Oh my God, I can’t believe that just happened.’ It’s been a very disappointing year here because there were such high expectations. And those expectations on offense haven’t been met.”
Continued Waddle: “I think it’s on his decision-making, it has absolute nothing to do with his work ethic. Jay’s the first guy in the building, last guy to leave. Jay cares deeply about the game, despite what many may believe. … There are moments in a game you can almost feel it coming. You see the ball sail a little bit high and it ends up in the arms of a defender. And like I said, earlier in the game, you’ll see him make a throw only two or three guys can make. It’s just maddening at times because his ceiling is so high and he has so much ability.”
Marshall is a top receiver in the league, but this year his numbers are down across the board in just about every category. This is why many believe he was so angry last Sunday.
“Brandon is an elite player,” Waddle said. “Brandon’s an emotional guy. I’m sure part of his outburst in the locker room on Sunday was about him not participating enough or not getting the opportunity to do enough. That’s just the nature of the beast, so to speak, when you are talking about very talented wide receivers. I think there is some frustration there, but again, this offense scored 27 points [per game] the last year. Alshon Jeffery had 1,400 yards receiving. Brandon Marshall had 1,200 yards receiving. … You have to make adjustments, and the Bears haven’t made those adjustments.”
|5 things you have to know about the Bears||10.19.14 at 11:57 pm ET|
Here are five things you have to know about the Bears, who will travel to Foxboro on Sunday for a contest with the Patriots.
1. There’s some serious drama going on in Chicago
In the wake of Sunday’s home loss to the Dolphins — which dropped the Bears record to 3-4 on the season — there were reports of screaming and yelling in the Chicago locker room, with wide receiver Brandon Marshall reportedly at the center of the action. Marshall said after the game that “there should be a lot of frustration” because of the sluggish start, and took exception to a question about a reported confrontation between him and kicker Robbie Gould. “OK, were you in here?” Marshall asked, per ESPN Chicago. “Were you in this locker room? This is a team matter. That has nothing to do with you. There’s a lot of guys this means a lot to. We’re 3-4. We need to play better. That’s unacceptable. That’s unacceptable. Unacceptable; shouldn’t have lost today, shouldn’t be 3-4. [The] offense [has] got to play better. It’s as simple as that.”
2. They have one of the best multidimensional backs in the league in Matt Forte
The 29-year-old Forte is the driving element of the Chicago offense — after seven games, he leads the Bears in rushing (111 carries, 448 yards, three TDs) and receiving (52 catches, 436 yards, two TDs). The 6-foot-1, 221-pounder, who was a second-round pick out of Tulane in 2008, is the only back in the league who has at least 50 catches and 50 carries through the first seven games of the season, and is second in the league in combined yards from scrimmage with 884. (He trails only DeMarco Murray of the Cowboys with 1,072.) Currently, he’s in the midst of a stretch that includes at least 10 catches in two of his last three games, while he has carried the ball at least 12 times a game every game this season. (For what it’s worth, the Bears have some pretty good depth in the passing game, with four players each having topped 30 catches through seven games, including Forte, tight end Martellus Bennett with 41 and wide receivers Alshon Jeffery with 33 and Marshall with 31.)
Through the first seven games of the season the Patriots have gone up against some of the more weaker quarterbacks in the NFL.
This will change this coming week when the Patriots host Jay Cutler and the Chicago Bears at Gillette Stadium. Belichick had nothing but high praise for the nine-year veteran on Sunday’s conference call.
“He’s got an excellent arm. He really can make any throw that you want him to make,” Belichick said. “He’s accurate on long throws, intermediate routes, comeback routes, inside cuts — on the catch and run plays, underneath the defense. Smart guy. Reads coverage’s well. Recognizes blitzes.
“He has a lot of weapons. He knows how to use them. There are different skill levels there and certainly he knows to use the size of receivers and tight ends and puts the ball where only they can get it — they can box out the defender. Gives their receivers a chance to make a play on the ball and a lot of the times they can just go up, box the defender out and rebound it, make a catch even though they are actually technically covered, but not well enough from keeping them from catching the ball. Cutler does all those things pretty well. He’s mobile. He’s a hard guy to get in the pocket, he has quickness and the ability to keep plays alive.”
Cutler enters play Sunday fifth in the league in passing yards with 1,628, as well as having the fifth-best completion percentage at 68.1. His 13 touchdown passes are also fifth in the league, tied with Tom Brady.
The Patriots passing defense will be put to the test as it entered Thursday’s contest with the Jets third in the NFL in passing defense and allowed 226 passing yards to Geno Smith. In four of the seven games, the defense has allowed 205 passing yards or fewer, while Cutler has thrown for 225 yards or more in five of his six games entering Sunday, including two, 300+ yard games.
|Fantasy Football: Week 17 waiver wire||12.24.13 at 8:57 am ET|
Welcome to the Week 17 waiver wire. I know it’s championship week for those of you left out there and it’s a really tough way to play your biggest game, because we’ll have a lot of players taking this week off or at least playing under very limited snap counts. So I’ll do my best to find you a few good options. One good idea is to come back later this week for the starts and sits, where I will try to find some of the key sits based on playing time or a predictable lack thereof. As always, I will be expanding the waiver wire for those of you in deeper formats, so head over to Rotobahn if you are a deep leaguer in need of even more ideas. I will also be doing our usual Rotobahn lineup rankings for Week 17, so check back later this week for that.
Jay Cutler, Bears
He was mediocre last week, but he is one of the more talented options out there, so he is very worthy of a plug-n-play this weekend at home against the Packers. Green Bay has been suspect defending the pass and the Bears have incredible talent at all of the receiving spots.
Kirk Cousins, Redskins
He’s a viable play at the Giants in a game that is meaningless for both teams. Washington is not going to play conservative when it is trying to increase Cousins’ market value. The ball is going to be in the air. Cousins is not a QB1, but he can help you if you need an option.
Terrelle Pryor, Raiders
Pryor will start in place of Matt McGloin this week and he’s an very interesting option. The Broncos are locked in and they will be playing without stud pass rusher Von Miller. Pryor may not be the long-term answer for Oakland, but he has fantasy upside this week because he makes plays with his arm and with his legs. If you are hurting in a deep league, he’s a viable option.
|Fantasy Football: Week 16 waiver wire||12.17.13 at 9:23 am ET|
And then there were two … Congratulations to all the teams in their league’s final game. The Week 16 dynamic is a bit unusual and this article reflects that. What we want this week are players that might be available, who can tip the scales for either you or your opponent. There are some leagues that have different rules. Perhaps your league has a second game between the semifinal losers, for third place. Whatever the case, the team you want to work against in this week’s free agent market is your opponent.
First, look at your roster. Do you have a weak spot in your lineup that can be strengthened in free agency? That should be your first priority — maximizing your Week 16 lineup. Second, look at your opponent’s roster. Do they have a weak spot that can be improved via the waiver wire? If they do, that is a move that you might consider blocking if you have waiver priority or a larger remaining free agent budget. Lastly, you can be aggressive with your cuts now. There’s nothing left to save for. You’re here. The only players you truly need are the ones who will be in your lineup this week, so don’t be afraid to manage your roster with that in mind and cut players who can’t help your opponent this week.
For example, let’s say that you have Rashard Mendenhall as your fifth running back. You are not playing him this week and he’s got a brutal matchup at Seattle. Your opponent has injuries at running back and horrible matchups with what he has left. You think he’ll go after Jordan Todman in free agency. In this case, I would dump Mendenhall and add Todman, who I project to outscore Mendenhall by about 10 points this week. You won’t play Todman as you would not have played Mendenhall, but you’ve hurt your opponent’s potential score and helped yourself.
So, get in that frame of mind and see all the angles. One more win and you’re a champion. Having said all that, I will be back next week just in case you play in one of those bizarre leagues that use Week 17 as its championship week. We’ve got you covered. As always, I will be adding talent throughout the day at Rotobahn as I continue to work through the film from Week 15. Come by later if you play in a really deep format.
Kirk Cousins, Redskins
He had a very nice outing against Atlanta, and he is a very good fantasy play in Week 16 if you’ve been streaming quarterbacks. A home matchup against Dallas is about as good as it gets right now. Cousins is a very good option.
Jay Cutler, Bears
He was dumped in a good many leagues after his injury, so he could be a nice addition for those of you looking for quarterback help. Cutler has a very nice Week 16 matchup at Philadelphia, and his receivers are insanely good.
Ryan Tannehill, Dolphins
Give Tannehill a lot of credit for hanging tough behind a reconstructed offensive line. He continues to make plays on a weekly basis and is on a nice four-week run of production. He’s a solid option this week at Buffalo if you need help at quarterback.
Joe Flacco, Ravens
He’s available in about 50 percent of leagues, so he’s worth mentioning, since he’s playing for something and has a solid Week 16 matchup at home vs. the Patriots. I’d rather start Cousins, Cutler or Tannehill, but Flacco is viable.