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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
Fantasy Football 2014: 20 high-value targets 07.17.14 at 11:50 am ET
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Let’s take a look at draft value based on a player’s average draft position. It’s a good way to get a quick feel for where the big values might be in drafts when August rolls around. As we like to do at Rotobahn, we’ll be counting the values down from late selections to the early ones. Jim Hackett and I will get into some of these players in Friday’s podcast, so be sure to check that out. For a look at our take on the top 200 fantasy options for 2014, head on over to Rotobahn.com, where you will also find scouting reports on over 60 rookies and early projections for the upcoming season.

ADP data was obtained at Fantasy Football Calculator.

Andrew Hawkins, WR, Browns — ADP 224

He’s not being drafted at all in smaller leagues, and you can get him very late in large formats, as his ADP indicates. That’s not bad for a player who could be the Browns’ top receiver in 2014. Frankly, if he stays healthy, I can’t see anybody else on the roster outplaying him. In fairness, that speaks to how underrated Hawkins currently is, but it also speaks to how woefully thin Cleveland is at receiver.

Odell Beckham, WR, Giants — ADP 163

Do not wait until 163 to draft this guy. Beckham, for whatever reason, is being ignored in fantasy circles and we think he’s a potential WR3 in 12-team leagues. As we said in his Rotobahn scouting report, Beckham has perhaps the best hands we’ve seen since we scouted Michael Crabtree. He’s also got all the skills you want a receiver to have, including outstanding agility and speed. He should fit right into the Giants offense and could be a fantasy force from Day 1. He’s a steal at his current ADP.

Justin Hunter, WR, Titans — ADP 159

Hunter’s ADP has risen about 10 spots over the last month … and he’ll jump a bit more before most of us draft, but he still projects as a value this season. He should be ready to take a step forward in 2014, and with Kenny Britt now gone, Hunter’s snap totals should more than double. We expect him to be a starter or an in-effect starter. He has a chance to post double-digit scores if things go well in Tennessee. Hunter is by far the most explosive athlete the Titans have on offense. He has WR1 upside in long-term leagues and has the upside to be a WR2 this year. He should be off the board somewhere around the 100 mark in our opinion. He’s a potential steal right now.

Aaron Dobson, WR, Patriots — ADP 138

This could change, and you may pay a bit more for him in this part of the country, but Dobson is a pretty solid WR3 option in 12-team leagues if he’s healthy — and the news on his foot has been positive lately. If he’s starting at split end, he’s worth a pick closer to 100 overall, and he’d still have some upside there due to his touchdown potential.

Marvin Jones, WR, Bengals — ADP 129

As with Hunter, Jones’ ADP has risen a bit this summer and he’ll move up another round, and perhaps more in the coming weeks, but we still like him at that price tag. He’s a much more complete player than he gets credit for, and he should have no problem holding on to the starter’s spot opposite A.J. Green. He looks like a borderline WR3 to us in 12-team leagues with upside to be more.

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Read More: 2014 Fantasy Football, Colin Kaepernick, Eric Decker, Russell Wilson
Media prognosticators split heading into Super Bowl 01.31.14 at 1:56 pm ET
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What happens when the best defense in the league faces off against the best offense? Even media prognosticators aren’t too sure.

ESPN‘€™s group of 13 analysts heavily favor the Broncos, with nine leaning toward Denver and just three favoring Seattle. Eric Allen, Merril Hoge, Ron Jaworski, KC Joyner, Chris Mortensen, Adam Schefter, Mark Schlereth, Tom Jackson, and Mike Ditka all believe that the Broncos will take the Super Bowl title. Meanwhile, Seth Wickersham, Keyshawn Johnson and Cris Carter project the Seahawks will take home the trophy. Mike Golic did not choose a team.

Who wins Sunday's Super Bowl?

  • Seahawks in a close game in regulation (63%, 275 Votes)
  • Broncos in a close game in regulation (20%, 86 Votes)
  • Seahawks in a rout (9%, 38 Votes)
  • Broncos in a rout (7%, 30 Votes)
  • Seahawks in overtime (1%, 5 Votes)
  • Broncos in overtime (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 434

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The prognosticators at SB Nation gave the advantage to Seattle. Ryan Van Bibbler, Joel Thorman, Jason Chilton and Matt Ufford went with the Seahawks, while Stephen White and David Fucillo say the Broncos will win it.

Meanwhile, the CBS Sports panel came out completely split. Pete Prisco, Will Brinson, Josh Katzowitz and Jamey Eisenberg think Denver will win, whereas Jason La Canfora, Ryan Wilson, John Breech and Dave Richard favor Seattle.

Sports Illustrated’s panel was also split as Don Banks, Chris Burke, and Jim Trotter predicted the Broncos and Austin Murphy, Tom Mantzouranis and Doug Farrar went with the Seahawks.

Following are more predictions from around the country.

Elliot Harrison, NFL.com, Broncos 27, Seahawks 23: “The weather won’€™t be bad enough to slow [Peyton Manning'€™s] air game drastically. If Seattle is to have a chance, [Russell Wilson] and the ‘€˜Hawks will have to get it together in the air to make it close at the end. Ultimately, though, given how the Broncos€™ defense has played of late, I feel that Denver will win Super Bowl XLVIII.”

Don Banks, Sports Illustrated, Broncos 24, Seahawks 20: “Elite defense usually trumps elite offense in Super Bowl showdowns of this ilk, and sometimes in blowout fashion (think Tampa Bay over Oakland from 11 years ago). But not this time. I can’t shake the feeling that it’s Peyton Manning‘s year and the rest of us are just along for the ride. Even the much-discussed weather will wind up breaking right for the Denver passing game on Sunday in the Meadowlands.”

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Read More: Peyton Manning, Russell Wilson,
Steve Young on M&M: Postseason record would drive Peyton Manning ‘crazy’ if he loses Sunday at 1:52 pm ET
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Hall of Fame quarterback and ESPN analyst Steve Young joined Mut & Merloni on Friday to discuss quarterback legacies. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.

Many in the media have argued whether or not Peyton Manning will solidify his spot as the best quarterback of all time if he wins the Super Bowl this weekend.

“You can say, ‘€˜Oh, it’€™s just perception and truly teams go to the Super Bowl,’ ” Young said. “It doesn’t matter. That’€™s what it is. … I think Peyton at this point recognizes he laid it all out here in the seasons he’€™s had, but I think that he’€™s getting sick of hearing about his postseason record. The Super Bowl championship would stop that part of it.

“That’€™s the part of life that never goes away, even 15 years after I played, there are things that happened that I still hear about because they happened and I can’€™t stop it. Peyton would not want to retire and always hear about his postseason record. It would drive him crazy.”

For Young, Tom Brady is a great quarterback because of the way he plays even without strong weapons on the field with him.

“Tom has done more with less than anyone who ever played,” Young said. “He is a master, and it’€™s remarkable. Literally during the season, there are games I can’€™t believe what he just did with what he had. You can say that’€™s a fault of the GM or injuries or bad luck. It doesn’t really matter, that’€™s just a fact. That’€™s part of the equation when you talk about greatness — what did you do with the guys you had?

“To me, this season was one of the more remarkable ones that I’ve seen Tom over the remarkable career he’€™s had, and it’€™s unfortunate because if you have those steady weapons, you look at what Peyton’€™s doing with his steady weapons and you have consistency and you’ve got not a lot of turnover in the era of free agency.

“It’€™s hard for me to watch the greatest generation not get the support they really need.”

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Read More: Peyton Manning, Russell Wilson, Tom Brady,
Fantasy Football: Postseason rankings, strategy 01.02.14 at 10:27 am ET
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The fantasy football season has concluded, but as most of you know, fantasy football lives on with postseason leagues. We’€™re here to help you stack the odds in your favor or at least to avoid doing the opposite.

Playoff leagues can be a lot of fun, and they are completely different than regular-season fantasy football. The key difference is that predicting game outcomes is perhaps the key factor in your team’€™s success. In most situations, you’€™d rather have your player advance than have a big game and lose. That’€™s because once your player’€™s team is finished, so is the player. That means no more points and a big old dead spot in your lineup. For this reason, it is important to project the number of games each team will play.

You may think Philip Rivers is a better quarterback than Colin Kaepernick, but if you think the Chargers are a one-and-done team as I do, and if you think the 49ers have a chance to play four games (the maximum), as I do, then you’€™d be kooky to draft Rivers ahead of Kaepernick.  This is true even if you project Rivers to outscore Kaepernick by a factor of two on a per-game basis. This is how you must think in a playoff draft. Get in that frame of mind — the same frame of mind that makes you want LeGarrette Blount over Jamaal Charles. Yes, really.

Since leagues are different sizes and many use different sets of rules, I am going to keep the rankings somewhat general. The first thing you need to do is to decide how you think the playoff games will go, then follow those predictions. I’ve laid out my current take below, but I won’€™t lie to you, I could flip a few games this week as I continue to think about things and assess the injury situations. Some of these games are very close. Value players accordingly. For example, I think Kaepernick plays twice, but I also think he’€™s the player with the best chance at playing four times. It will take an upset of the Seahawks in Seattle to make that happen, but Frisco probably is the best bet to pull that off at this point.

GAMES PLAYED PROJECTIONS

Broncos, 3 games
Seahawks, 3 games
49ers, 2 games
Eagles, 2 games
Patriots, 2 games
Panthers, 2 games
Colts, 2 games
Bengals, 2 games
Saints, 1 game
Packers, 1 game
Chargers, 1 game
Chiefs, 1 game

If you look at the projections, you might assume that Peyton Manning and Russell Wilson are the players to own. And they certainly are players you’€™d like to have, but a few of the quarterbacks with two projected games played are potentially as or more valuable. I already mentioned Kaepernick, but Tom Brady will have a very good chance at a third game, and I see most of the early round games being competitive. For this, I suggest that you play your own hunches if you have strong ones and if you trust your instincts. That’€™s really what make these postseason leagues so much fun. You get to do more prognostication.

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Read More: Colin Kaepernick, Frank Gore, Jamaal Charles, LeGarrette Blount
Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Russell Wilson headline our list of 10 finalists for NFL MVP 12.18.13 at 7:47 pm ET
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FOXBORO — As the 2013 regular season nears the end of the road, the MVP race is starting to come into sharper focus. With two games remaining, here are our top 10 candidates — in no particular order — to take the honors.

Tom Brady: After a relatively slow start — he completed 56.6 percent of his passes over the first five games of the season, and in two of those games he threw for less than 200 yards — the quarterback has nudged his way back to the forefront of the MVP debate. Over the last six games, he’€™s gone 181-for-271 (67 percent) for 2,225 yards, with 14 touchdowns and four interceptions, all while dealing with serious personnel losses. He’€™s received a boost in that time from wide receiver Julian Edelman (who could be the first Patriots wide receiver other than Wes Welker to catch 100 passes from Brady since Troy Brown broke the 100-catch mark in 2001) and Shane Vereen (who could be the first 50-catch/50-carry running back in New England since Kevin Faulk turned the trick in 2008). He needs a strong finish to really put a capper on his candidacy, but is every bit the equal as most of the people on this list.

Calvin Johnson: Johnson is enjoying another terrific season, and with 81 receptions through 14 games, appears to have an outside shot at another 100-catch year. (If he does reach 100, it would be the second time in three seasons he’€™s hit that mark.) He’€™s tied for eighth in the league in catches, but is second in the league in receiving yards (1,449) and touchdown grabs (12, tied with Vernon Davis). The 6-foot-5, 236-pounder is the prototypical big receiver, one who can only be stopped if he drops the ball (he has eight drops on the season) or someone gets to his quarterback before he can get the ball out to him. If he’€™s able to crack 100 catches and the Lions reach the postseason (right now, they’€™re 7-7), Johnson should be considered a candidate.

Peyton Manning: In the eyes of many people, the default choice for the award, based primarily on his performance over the first half of the season. (He hit on 60 percent or better of his passes over the first six weeks of the season, and didn’€™t throw a pick until Week 5.) Manning stands poised to breaks Brady’€™s single-season mark for touchdown passes in a season (50, set in 2007), and it appears the Broncos will capture the No. 1 seed in the AFC while possibly setting a handful of new offensive records. That could be enough to lift him above the rest of the field in the eyes of the voters.

Robert Quinn: Probably an outside candidate at this point for several reasons, including the fact that defensive players almost never get their proper due when it comes to MVP voting. But the St. Louis defensive lineman has really come on down the stretch. He’€™s second in the league in sacks with 15, and leads the league with seven forced fumbles. You can argue whether or not a defensive player on a team that will struggle to reach .500 deserves a shot (the Rams are 6-8 heading into the final two games of the season), but Quinn’€™s overwhelming dominance at times certainly suggests he should earn a spot in the Top 10 — at the very least, he’€™ll certainly receive Defensive Player of the Year consideration.

J.J. Watt: Another defensive lineman who deserves to be on this list despite the fact that his team has had a bad year, the Houston defensive lineman remains a transformative defensive presence. Rated as the No. 1 3-4 defensive end in the league by Pro Football Focus, PFF also has him graded out as the leading pass rusher and run stopper at his position. He has 9.5 sacks through 14 games, and while he’€™s not batting down passes as the same rate he did last season (he has six this year, as opposed to 16 last season), but he’€™s someone you have to always account for on every play. Probably not in the running for the top spot this year, he’€™ll almost certainly garner serious consideration (along with Quinn) for Defensive Player of the Year honors.

Josh Gordon: He’€™s the best wide receiver the Patriots have faced to this point in the season, and while he’€™s probably more in the running for something like ‘€œBest Offensive Player’€ as opposed to MVP, it’€™s still worth mentioning that the Cleveland pass catcher leads the league with 1,467 receiving yards, and is 15th overall with 74 catches. His epic streak of four straight games with at least 125 receiving yards included a memorable seven-catch, 151-yard effort against New England — that came on the heels of back-to-back performances of at least 200 receiving yards. Like Quinn, you can argue the merits of handing out the MVP to a player on a team that won’€™t make the postseason, but his numbers are undeniable, and that should be enough for him to warrant consideration.

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Read More: Calvin Johnson, Cam Newton, Jamaal Charles, JJ Watt
Fantasy Football: Week 15 starts, sits 12.06.13 at 12:35 pm ET
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Welcome to the Week 14 starts and sits! It’€™s playoff time and I’€™ve done my best to distill the talent pool for you. If your key player is not covered here, check out our full lineup rankings over at Rotobahn or participate in our Sunday morning chat, where I will answer all of your remaining lineup questions. Best of luck to all this week!

QUARTERBACKS

STARTS

Josh McCown, Bears vs. Cowboys

He’€™s far better than most folks, including us, ever expected. He will get at least one more start, and that start comes at home vs. a struggling Dallas defense that has been giving up plenty of fantasy points. I know it’€™s tough starting a journeyman in the playoffs, but if you are jammed with an injury to a guy like Aaron Rodgers, McCown may be the bridge to Rodgers and an appearance in the semifinals next week. Do not be afraid to play McCown.

Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers vs. Dolphins

It’€™s not a great week for quarterbacks, but Big Ben should give you some solid production in a home matchup against a beatable opponent. The big game is a possibility, but it’€™s the solid floor that I find most appealing. He’€™s a good option in any league.

Philip Rivers, Chargers at Giants

Rivers is a safe option this week. You beat the Giants by throwing the ball, so expect a few scores and solid yardage and perhaps a big game if New York can score enough points to push the San Diego offense for four quarters. Rivers has had some mediocre games but no killers. He should come in somewhere between 16-30 points this week in standard scoring.

Alex Smith, Chiefs at Redskins

He’€™s been better for fantasy than I ever thought he’€™d be. It’€™s pretty amazing when you consider how poor Kansas City’€™s downfield passing game is. Smith makes plays every week with his feet and his arm, and his receivers get yards after the catch, especially Jamaal Charles. Smith can start for you this week if you need him, and he’€™ll most likely fare well against a soft Redskins defense.

Russell Wilson, Seahawks at 49ers

Curse the schedule-maker! Is there anything worse than having your QB1 playing at San Francisco during wild card week?  Here’€™s the skinny on Wilson: You can play him, but you should also consider other options. Based on what we saw last week when St. Louis played San Francisco, he has a chance, because Kellen Clemens missed a lot of throws — throws that Wilson will not miss. So Wilson can be played, just be realistic with your expectations. If he gets you 20 points in standard leagues, you did well.

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Read More: Alex Smith, C.J. Spiller, Josh McCown, Kellen Clemens
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