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Fantasy Football: Week 5 waiver wire 09.30.14 at 10:57 am ET
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Welcome to the morning after, folks. In the words of John Winger, “and then depression set in.” It was a long weekend for Boston fans. First, they had give begrudging respect to Derek Jeter for three days, which is stomach-turning enough. Then there was Monday night’s debacle in Kansas City. Hopefully Gronk’s late touchdown did something for some of you. Hopefully a few of you listened to me and stashed Jerick McKinnon, who saved my bacon in a few leagues. No matter what your weekend was like, Rotobahn’s here to help pick up the pieces. Let’s get to work.

The ownership percentages are listed for each player. These rates of ownership are based on Yahoo! leagues, which tend to be smaller and more representative of the 10-team leagues most of us play in. Obviously, these numbers are mostly for perspective. What really matters is which players are available in your particular league, and you’ll need to do the legwork on that. If you play in really big leagues, as I tend to do, you should head on over to Rotobahn Monday afternoon and check out my expanded waiver wire. The expanded edition gives you about twice as many options. To keep pace with all WEEI and Rotobahn fantasy football content, including Sunday chats and The Fantasy Football Hour with my good buddy Jim Hackett, follow me on Twitter.

There is some good news. The Week 5 byes are not as painful as last week’s losses. Only Oakland and Miami have the week off. Not too many fantasy studs on those two powerhouses. Oakland doesn’t even have a coach right now after mercifully canning Dennis Allen on Monday night. The rumor mill is spitting out Tony Sparano‘s name as a possible replacement. Yikes.

QUARTERBACKS

Eli Manning, Giants – 48 percent

As I said last week, buy Eli now because the Giants have some solid matchups the rest of the way and they should get rookie WR Odell Beckham Jr. soon — perhaps this weekend in a sweet home matchup with the porous Falcons defense.

Alex Smith, Chiefs — 42 percent

The Chiefs were searching and grinding for a few weeks — trying to get the new offensive line in sync. It would appear that they’ve turned the corner and are back to taking good care of the ground game and of Alex Smith. Smith can help you in most leagues as a matchup play. He’s got a very interesting matchup at San Francisco this week.

Joe Flacco, Ravens — 39 percent

He’s a guy you can throw in there anytime you need him. The Ravens are throwing the ball well now that Gary Kubiak‘s system is beginning to take hold. Flacco can be your backup in any format.

Blake Bortles, Jaguars — 18 percent

He’s a foot-points guy. I love those foot points. Bortles also plays for a team that will be throwing in the fourth quarter almost every single week. The game doesn’t seem too big for the rookie and he can help you as a matchup play or QB2. He’s playable this week in a home matchup against the Steelers, who can’t stop much these days and who do not have Ike Taylor at corner for the foreseeable future.

Carson Palmer, Cardinals — 33 percent

Arizona’s starting quarterback is a viable fantasy play, whether it be Palmer or Drew Stanton. Palmer is the guy worth owning in smaller formats and he could return as soon as this week. HC Bruce Arians has Arizona moving in the right direction. Palmer should be a solid matchup play the rest of the way, though he might not be able to help you this week. His return may be one more week away. We’ll know more once practice reports start coming out.

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Read More: Alex Smith, Blake Bortles, Carson Palmer, Eli Manning
Fantasy Football: Week 3 starts, sits 09.19.14 at 11:22 am ET
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Welcome to the Week 3 starts and sits. Between injuries, suspensions, deactivations and the like, the average fantasy football GM’s head is spinning. I know mine is. As always, I will avoid the easy calls. I’m not here to tell you what to do with players you’d never consider benching.

I’ll be back Sunday morning with my partner in crime, Jim Hackett, for another Fantasy Football Hour. Check it out! We’re on air from 6:30 to 7:30 a.m. on 93.7 FM. If you sleep in, you can listen right here on WEEI.com. In addition, I’ll be here, as always, with a chat on Sunday starting at 11 a.m. Head on over if you have any lineup questions.

If you are looking for info on players not listed in this article, go to Rotobahn and check out my full Lineup Rankings. I’ll be updating them over the weekend, as always. And, to keep track of all things fantasy football at both Rotobahn and WEEI, feel free to follow me on Twitter. I always tweet links to new articles.

QUARTERBACKS

Start

Russell Wilson, Seahawks vs. Broncos

He’ll shine in a rematch of last year’s Super Bowl. Wilson’s an underrated fantasy QB and he’ll give you some touchdowns this week. He’s playable in all formats.

Colin Kaepernick, 49ers at Cardinals

Kaepernick’s always a solid play and should get it done this weekend in a tough divisional matchup. Yes, he has some injuries to his tight ends, but San Francisco has more offensive depth than in the past. Start Kaepernick if you normally would.

Kirk Cousins, Washington at Eagles

He’s not an ideal option because he’s got injuries to his tight ends and receivers, but he’ll also be playing in a high-scoring game and his team will not be in close-it-out mode at the end. Washington is far more likely to be throwing the football in the fourth quarter. Cousins can help you in deep formats.

Sit

Joe Flacco, Ravens at Browns

He’s playing decent football, but the Browns are looking tough at home and can take his receivers away for much of the game. Flacco is playable, but this is a week to look for other options if you can.

Derek Carr, Raiders at Patriots

It may be tempting to start him in a deep league because he’ll be throwing a lot and playing from behind, but I hate playing rookie quarterbacks against Bill Belichick defenses. I’d avoid doing so if possible.

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Read More: Colin Kaepernick, Derek Carr, joe flacco, Kirk Cousins
Aqib Talib brushes off health questions: ‘This ain’t my first rodeo’ 12.19.13 at 7:51 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Aqib Talib isn’t hearing any talk about his health being an issue.

‘€œI feel like everybody else,” he said Thursday. “It’€™s Week 16, and there isn’€™t anybody in the NFL who is 100 percent. It’€™s football, man.

“This ain’€™t my first rodeo.’€

Talib, who has struggled with hip problems on and off throughout the season, started strong but has appeared to drop off a bit as of late. There’s no telling how much of his problems are due to the hip issue (he was limited at Thursday’s practice because of the hip), but he knows he’s in for a challenge this week. The Ravens feature some of the better deep threats in the game — the Ravens have 13 pass plays of 40 or more yards this season, good for third-best in the league, trailing only the Eagles (18) and Browns (14). Torrey Smith (59 catches, 1,032 yards, four touchdowns and 17.5 yards per catch), Marlon Brown (40 catches, 443 yards, six touchdowns) and Jacoby Jones (35 catches, 433 yards, two touchdowns) all have an ability to connect with quarterback Joe Flacco when it comes to the deep ball.

Talib had plenty of good things to say about the Baltimore receiving corps, particularly the speed of Smith, who he called “one of” the fastest receivers in the league.

‘€œWe don’€™t even have to talk about that. You know how fast he is. We all know how fast he is,” Talib said. “He’€™s up there. Put him up there with the [Mike] Wallaces and Calvin Johnsons. Man, they’€™re burners.’€

One thing that Patriots coach Bill Belichick indicated earlier in the week was that the Baltimore offense has changed a bit since the return of Dennis Pitta — Belichick said it appears that the Ravens have favored more three-receiver sets since the tight end came back from injury. Pitta, who burned New England on several occasions in last year’s AFC title game, is still ramping back up after spending the bulk of the season sidelined, is still a factor.

‘€œHe’€™s key for them,” Talib said. “[Joe Flacco] goes to him a lot over the middle, in third-down situations. That’€™s one of his go-to guys. He’€™s key for them.’€

Talib and the Patriots (10-4) are looking to close out the regular season on an up note, while the Ravens (8-6) are in must-win mode — currently holding on to the No. 6 seed in the AFC playoff race, they have to win to keep their postseason hopes alive.

“It’€™s a big game for the both of us,’ Talib said. “So I’€™m sure they’€™re preparing like we’€™re preparing. It should be a good one.’€

Read More: Aqib Talib, Bill Belichick, Dennis Pitta, Jacoby Jones
Five things you have to know about the Ravens 12.17.13 at 7:15 pm ET
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The Patriots will try to close out the AFC East and put a major dent in the playoff hopes of the Ravens when they travel to Baltimore for a Sunday afternoon contest. Here are five things you have to know about the Ravens.

1. They almost always do a really good job at defending Tom Brady.

Old warhorses like Ray Lewis and Ed Reed are no longer around, but the Ravens remain are as stout as they come defensively. There are some questions about their ability to close defensively — they’€™ve allowed 96 points in the fourth quarter this season, the most of any AFC team still in the playoff chase — but there’€™s still a lot to like about what they’€™re doing. They’€™re in the top 10 when it comes to total defense (334 yards per game allowed, ninth-best in the league), run defense (102.4 rush yards per game allowed, seventh-best in the league) and points per game allowed (19.8 per game, seventh-best in the league). They are one team that consistently makes things difficult for Brady, who is 2-3 against them in his last five games. Over the course of his career, the quarterback averages 57 percent when it comes to his completion rate, and has a touchdown-to-interception ratio of 8-10 in his career against Baltimore. (According to Scott Kacsmar of Football Outsiders, the Ravens have held Brady under 6.8 YPA in six of eight career meetings.) With New England facing a dicey situation when it comes to offensive line depth, particular at tackle, the pressure off the edges will be a concern — old friend Terrell Suggs (9 sacks) figures to have something to say about this one before the week is done, and Elvis Dumervil (9.5 sacks) should also be a handful for the Patriots offensive line.

2. They have almost as much experience playing close games this season as the Patriots.

When the Patriots and Ravens meet Sunday, chances are good that it’€™ll be a close game. Eleven of the 14 games New England has played this year have been decided by seven points or less, while Baltimore has played in 10 games decided by seven points or less. The Ravens have gone 5-5 in their games decided by a touchdown or less, while the Patriots are 7-4. Baltimore has won their last three games by a total of seven points, which includes Monday’€™s win over the Lions, a contest that wasn’€™t decided until Justin Tucker connected on his sixth field goal of the night, a 61-yarder than lifted the Ravens to an 18-16 win. All that comes against a backdrop of almost nothing but close games between these two teams — since 2004, five of the eight games between Patriots and Ravens have been decided by six points or less. Expect another close one come Sunday afternoon.

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Read More: Ed Reed, Jacoby Jones, joe flacco, Justin Tucker
Fantasy Football: Week 16 waiver wire at 9:23 am ET
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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.

QUARTERBACKS

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.

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Read More: Andre Ellington, Jay Cutler, joe flacco, Jordan Todman
Fantasy Football: Week 15 waiver wire 12.10.13 at 10:28 am ET
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Welcome to the Week 15 waiver wire! If you are still reading, then you must have survived the snow last week — and all the injuries. In most leagues, you now are two wins away from glory, and we’€™re here to help if you have a few holes to fill or if you just want to keep your roster maximized. If you play in a really deep league, check out Rotobahn later today as I will be adding more talent as I continue to work through last week’€™s game film. I’€™ll be back later in the week with WEEI’€™s fantasy football podcast and the starts and sits.

If you need any last-minute lineup help, stop by our Sunday chat, which has been very lively lately. It’€™s nice to know that so many of our readers are doing well. For those of you in keeper leagues and dynasty formats, you’€™ll want to check in with us at Rotobahn throughout the offseason, as we will be increasing our offseason content again this year, with scouting reports for the 2014 rookie class and frequent dynasty updates for key veterans. Stop by and check it all out if you’€™re a fantasy football diehard.

QUARTERBACKS

Ryan Tannehill, Dolphins

Tannehill is rolling right now, and with Lamar Miller injured, you have to think he is going to throw the ball a whole lot next week against New England. The Dolphins starter is a good pickup right now in 12-team leagues, and he’€™s got a good remaining schedule.

  • Week 15 – Patriots
  • Week 16 – at Bills

Jay Cutler (or Josh McCown), Bears 

Cutler has been dropped in a lot of leagues, and he is a decent option if he starts in Week 15. If McCown ends up getting the start, then he is an equally solid play. Rostering both of them is a very sound move in deep leagues.

  • Week 15 – at Browns
  • Week 16 – at Eagles

Joe Flacco, Ravens

With Dennis Pitta back, the Ravens finally have their intended offensive paradigm in play. They have a diverse backfield and a dependable possession receiver at tight end plus a potent vertical attack. We saw how well that mix can work last year, and, as I said last week, the closing schedule is very playable.

  • Week 15 – at Lions
  • Week 16 – Patriots

Jason Campbell, Browns

I don’€™t think I need to explain how good Josh Gordon is to my friends in New England. Campbell throws to Gordon, and the matchups are solid the rest of the way. He can help you in 12-team leagues if you have a problem at quarterback.

  • Week 15 – Bears
  • Week 16 – at Jets

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Read More: James Starks, Jason Campbell, Jay Cutler, joe flacco
Fantasy Football: Week 14 waiver wire 12.03.13 at 10:20 am ET
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As we look toward what is a playoff week in most fantasy football formats, there certainly are a few solid new options to consider adding. The sad reality is that half of the teams in most leagues just got sent packing, and that obviously cuts down on the competition for talent. Hence, we are concentrating on the better players vs. the depth moves, but we still have a little of both.

If you are looking for deeper options, you can head over to Rotobahn later Tuesday and check out my expanded wire for those in deep formats. As always, I’€™ll be back later this week with Jim Hackett for the Fantasy Football Podcast, plus the starts and sits. Then, on Sunday, I’€™ll be hosting a chat to help with any last-minute lineup issues that you might have. To those of you reading this, please accept our congratulations on making your league’€™s playoffs. Now let’€™s see if we can bring home the fantasy bacon!

QUARTERBACKS

Andy Dalton, Bengals

He’€™s available in about 25 percent of Yahoo! leagues, and that percentage could rise after the stinker that Dalton had in Week 13. Still, we like Dalton’€™s Week 14 matchup, and Week 16 is pretty sweet, too.

  • Week 14 – Colts
  • Week 15 – at Steelers
  • Week 16 – Vikings

Joe Flacco, Ravens

He plays at home vs. the Vikings this week, and that could be enough to make him a great add. As an added bonus, he’€™s playable on all three remaining weeks. In Week 14, Flacco may also see the return of his favorite target, Dennis Pitta.

  • Week 14 – Vikings
  • Week 15 – at Lions
  • Week 16 – Patriots

Carson Palmer, Cardinals

He can’€™t help you Week 16, but he’€™ll be useful this week and next. Palmer has been very good lately, with multiple touchdown passes in five consecutive games. He can help you as a QB2 in most leagues, and you can still add him in 54 percent of Yahoo! leagues.

  • Week 14 – Rams
  • Week 15 – at Titans
  • Week 16 – at Seahawks

EJ Manuel, Bills

He plays a solid, though not incredible, schedule the rest of the way, and he’€™s been getting better in terms of health. Manuel also has scored well the last two weeks, so he can help you if you need to add a QB2 in a 12-team league. His receivers are healthy and he now has C.J. Spiller ripping off big runs, and that could take the edge off of the pass rush going forward.

  • Week 14 – at Buccaneers
  • Week 15 – at Jaguars
  • Week 16 – Dolphins

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Read More: Andy Dalton, Ben Tate, Carson Palmer, EJ Manuel
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