|Fantasy Football: Week 15 starts, sits||12.14.12 at 9:25 am ET|
Welcome to the Week 15 starts and sits. It’s semifinals week in most fantasy football leagues, so all decisions have major consequences. As always, I have done my best to list players that are on the edge of lineups in 12-team leagues. I’m sure I didn’t get to every player you have questions about. And, toward that end, feel free to consult our full lineup rankings at Rotobahn.com. I’ll also be here on Sunday morning for another chat and hopefully it will be as active as it was last week.
Josh Freeman, Buccaneers at Saints
Freeman has come back to earth from a fantasy perspective. Though he’s hasn’t fallen apart, he’s only had one-plus game in the last five weeks for fantasy purposes. The Saints defense was playing with urgency and adrenaline in recent weeks, but now that New Orleans effectively is finished, I expect that enthusiasm to wane. Freeman has a good chance to succeed and is a solid start in 12-team leagues.
Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers at Cowboys
He showed last week that he is capable of posting solid numbers, and we think the Cowboys secondary can be had right now. If you need him, Big Ben is a quality option in 12-team leagues and a viable one in smaller leagues, too.
Matt Schaub, Texans vs. Colts
After last week’s debacle at Foxboro, we expect Schaub to bounce back. We also expect the Texans to do what they can to avoid overusing Arian Foster, who is racking up immense carry and touch totals in 2012. Schaub should do well in Week 15 and he can start for you in 12-team leagues as a QB1 if you need him.
Jay Cutler, Bears vs. Packers
If all you want is some upside, then Cutler might be an answer, but if you want to avoid risk, then you should stay away from Chicago’s quarterback in Week 15. He struggled against the Packers in Week 2, but the bigger reason is that the guy is just too banged up to count on. In 2012 Cutler has battled concussion symptoms, knee issues and a neck injury. The two latter problems are fresh and could affect him this week. Based on Rotobahn’s current rankings, you have 18 more palatable options. Consider using one if you can.
Jake Locker, Titans vs. Jets
As with Cutler, if all you want is a guy who might post a good number, you could go with Locker, but we’re worried about his downside. Rex Ryan defenses cause confusion, and the young quarterback already has serious issues with accuracy. We’d avoid Locker this week.
The stakes simply are too high.
|Texans feel things could be different if they meet Patriots again||12.11.12 at 2:31 am ET|
FOXBORO — Leading up to this match-up during the week, many were calling this game possibly the biggest in Texans history. Houston has never taken one loss this far into a season, and traveling to face a Patriots team with a 9-3 record on Monday Night Football only upped the ante.
But it was clear who the superior team was on Monday night in Foxboro.
There’s probably a lot to be said about experience; the Patriots have it in December, January and February. The Texans, not as much.
Since the Texans and Patriots now account for two of the top three teams in the AFC, the likelihood of them meeting again down the playoff road is a high one. Whether this game takes place in Houston or Foxboro is yet to be seen, if it happens at all. And if it does, several members of the Texans said they now know what to look for from this veteran New England team, and themselves as well.
“It’s a teaching moment,” defensive end Whitney Mercilus said after the game. “This is a good team and we can’t slack off. Too many penalties and things like that; beating ourselves. We’ve got to be able to move the ball offensively and defensively. We’ve got to get to the passer and help out our secondary. We can’t get gashed in the run. We’ve got to get better.”
When asked why he thought the outcome might be different should the they meet again, defensive end Antonio Smith paused for a few seconds thinking about the question, and then said, “We know what to expect.”
“Now you know what you’re dealing with,” he said. “There aren’t any surprises. This team hadn’t faced a Patriots team in their house this late in the year when it’s playoffs coming since I’ve been here. I think the last time we beat them was in our house. And hopefully we can get our stuff together and win the rest of these games so that they’ve got to come in our house. It’s just another battle; we’ll see how it is then.” Read the rest of this entry »
|Veteran QB Matt Schaub ready for his first trip to Gillette Stadium||12.06.12 at 11:10 pm ET|
Matt Schaub will be making his first appearance in Foxboro when he takes the field Monday night for the Texans. The quarterback, who came into the league in 2004 out of Virginia, was predominantly a backup for his first seasons in the league as a member of the Falcons (he occasionally appeared in relief of then-starter Michael Vick). He moved on to become the starter with the Texans in 2007, but never had a chance to play at Gillette Stadium until now.
“When you go somewhere new, you get out there and you want to just check out how the field is and throw the ball around with your guys — just getting a feel for the depth and just for where everything is – where they play clock is, where the game clock is,” Schaub said on a conference call with New England reporters on Thursday afternoon.
“Just get a feel for your surroundings and everything like that. Bu then as far as football, once the game starts, it’s just playing the game between the lines. We play in some hostile, tough places so this won’t be any different for us. But, definitely take a little bit of time to recognize where everything is on the field.”
Schaub’s first appearance in Foxboro certainly won’t lack for import: He’ll lead an 11-1 Houston team into Foxboro against the 9-3 Patriots on a Monday night stage. With a win, the Texans can inch closer to clinching the No. 1 seed in the AFC and home-field throughout the postseason.
“I think it’s a big game for us,” Schaub said. “It’s a big game in the month of December as we get into the home stretch here heading into January. It’s a big game on the road, a tough test against a very good football team. We’re excited for the opportunity to go on and play our best football.”
Schaub has been impressed with the work of the New England defense, saying it’s a unit that “can do a little bit of everything.”
“They’re a very physical, stout group,” he said. “They understand their scheme well; a lot of veteran guys that have played a lot of football in that group. They can rush the passer, they can stop the run. They can do a little bit of everything. It’s a group that we really have to be on top of our game plan, on top of our stuff and play good road football.”
That includes steering clear of turnovers — the Patriots are +24 in takeaways, the best total in the league.
“They’re very aware of the football and trying to strip it, whether it be the runners or receivers with the ball or the quarterback in the pocket,” Schaub said. “Their secondary, they’re very well coached as far as patterns and recognizing routes and being able to get their hands on the football as well as some tipped balls which, we have a lot of those for our defense as well. The defensive line and the front for New England, they do a great job of trying to get their hands up if they can and tip some balls to defenders.”
Here are some more highlights of his Q&A:
|Catching up with … the Texans||10.11.12 at 12:24 pm ET|
In terms of setting up the AFC playoff picture, the Texans are pretty similar to the Patriots. Both are considered elite teams in weak divisions that are heavy favorites to cruise through the remainder of their easy schedules and, as of recent weeks, have potent running attacks. They are also likely the toughest opponent remaining on each others schedules.
That is where the similarities stop, however, as the Texans have built their 5-0 run around their elite defense that is balanced with an offense that is predicated around giving the ball to Arian Foster and Matt Schaub not letting anything bad happen. While Houston does run a pretty conservative gameplan under head coach Gary Kubiak, it’s been effective, as the Texans are currently tied for third in the league in scoring with 29.8 points per game while their defense has shut down opposing offenses, ranking third and fourth in yards per game and points per game, respectively.
The Patriots haven’t seen the Texans since they met in the final week of 2009, in which a throwaway game for the playoff-bound Patriots turned disastrous when Wes Welker tore his ACL. Since then, that upstart team has gone through a lot of changes en route to becoming a legitimate Super Bowl contender. Here’s what we do know about the Texans.
|Fantasy Football: Week 4 starts, sits||09.28.12 at 10:48 am ET|
Welcome to Rotobahn’s Week 4 starts and sits. As always, we’ve tried to avoid the obvious choices and have focused on players that represent tougher lineup choices. We’ll be releasing full lineup rankings at Rotobahn.com Friday and Saturday, so check us out this weekend if you need a little help. Good luck to all in Week 4.
Andy Dalton, Bengals at Jaguars
Dalton is rolling right now, and that should continue against a very beatable Jacksonville defense. He’s using A.J. Green as he should, but he’s also spreading the ball around to all his other targets and keeping the opposition honest. Dalton can help you in all formats this week.
Matt Schaub, Texans vs. Titans
It’s a good matchup, and the only risk we see with Schaub this week is that Houston wins too easily and goes to the ground game for most of the second half. He’s a pretty safe play in all formats if you need a QB.
Christian Ponder, Vikings at Lions
Ponder has looked very good so far and he gets WR Jerome Simpson back from suspension this week, which gives him one more quality weapon to go with Adrian Peterson, Percy Harvin and Kyle Rudolph. The Lions have been shaky so far on defense, so this one should go well for Ponder.
Alex Smith, 49ers at Jets
There will be the inclination to write off the Jets defense without Darrelle Revis, but New York can still defend the pass better than a lot of teams. San Francisco is a conservative outfit and the Jets might not be able to score much at all in this one. Alex Smith may be doing a whole lot of handing off in Week 4. We see a score to Vernon Davis and a whole lot of ground and pound. You can do better.
Jay Cutler, Bears at Cowboys
The Bears need to show me they can protect Cutler before I can trust them against a team like the Cowboys, who shows up with a stud pass-rusher and two very solid cornerbacks. We like Cutler, but we don’t trust his support system in this one.
|Patriots Potential Playoff Opponents: Houston Texans||12.27.11 at 9:17 pm ET|
With the Patriots securely in the postseason, it’s time to start sizing up their possible postseason opponents. This is part of a weeklong series of features on the rest of the AFC playoff teams. We’ve already profiled the Baltimore Ravens. Today, we’ve got a look at the Houston Texans:
The skinny: If the Texans were ever going to win the AFC South, this was the year: without Peyton Manning, the Colts were down, Tennessee was rebuilding and Jacksonville started slowly and made a coaching change. Houston took advantage, and now, they enter the final week of the regular season at 10-5, having already clinched the AFC South championship. (They’re currently locked in as the No. 3 playoff seed in the AFC.) They have some impressive wins on their resume, including victories over the Steelers (17-10), Atlanta (17-10) and Cincinnati (20-19). However, they also have more than enough stinkers, including defeats to Oakland, Carolina and Indianapolis. From a distance, the Texans appear to be a competitive young team that has had some occasional struggles with success.
Offense: Houston is down to its third-string quarterback, and while T.J. Yates (78-for-130 for 902 yards with three TDs and three INTs) has played relatively well down the stretch, there are plenty of holes in his game. Offensively, the Texans are powered by running back Arian Foster, who has 1,224 yards on 278 carries for 10 touchdowns and a 4.4 yards per carry average. Houston is anticipating the return of wide receiver Andre Johnson (six games, 31 catches, 471 yards, two touchdowns) for the postseason, and if he is at full strength (he’s been slowed by a hamstring problem), he gives the Texans a pair of dynamic skill position players who are among the best at their position.
Defense: Thanks to linebackers Connor Barwin (11.5 sacks) and Brooks Reed (six sacks) and defensive end J.J. Watt (5.5 sacks), the Texans do a good job getting after the quarterback. They’re one of the best teams in the league when it comes to the rest of their defense: second in average total yards allowed (280.7), tied for second in the league against the pass (184 yards per game), fourth in the league against the run (96.7 yards per game) and fourth in the league in points per game allowed (17).
|Looking ahead to the contract talks between the Patriots and first-round pick Nate Solder||05.06.11 at 12:52 pm ET|
Despite the labor uncertainty, it’s never too early to look ahead at the possible negotiation process between the Patriots and their draft picks, especially first rounder Nate Solder.
Solder lists his representation as David Dunn and Mark Humenik of Athletes First, which historically has a good working relationship with the Patriots. Known primarily as an agency that reps bigger name quarterbacks (in the past they have worked with Drew Bledsoe, Matt Cassel, Mark Sanchez, Matt Schaub and Matt Hasselbeck), they represented three members of last year’s draft class in Aaron Hernandez, Zoltan Mesko and Zac Robinson, and all three of those deals were wrapped up relatively quickly. In addition, they also serve as the agency for veteran Patriots Wes Welker and Brandon Meriweather.
By way of historical comparison, last year’s No. 17 overall pick Mike Iupati, was also an offensive lineman (a guard) that ended up going to San Francisco. Before the start of last season, Iupati signed a five-year, $18.25 million contract with $10.8 million guaranteed. No one is sure what the new labor agreement might have in store, but based on last year’s template, because tackle is probably a slightly higher value position that guard, Solder could see a slight bump from what Iupati received.
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