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Offseason updates on rest of AFC East 02.18.14 at 12:51 pm ET
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While we continue to view the world through a Patriots’€™ prism, here’€™s a quick update on what’€™s been going on in the rest of the AFC East this offseason:

Jets – New York started the offseason with a bang, announcing Rex Ryan landed a multiyear extension. But at the same time, the Jets have some tough calls to make on some veterans, including outside linebacker Calvin Pace. Then, there’€™s the question as to whether or not to release quarterback Mark Sanchez — per salary cap expert Joel Corry, the Jets will gain more than $8.3 million of cap room if they let him go before his $2 million roster bonus is due on March 25. (They’€™ll also get some more financial flexibility if they decide to part ways with wide receiver Santonio Holmes in mid-March.) If Sanchez is indeed gone, that will likely clear the decks for Geno Smith, who was involved in an off-field dustup involving a flight attendant on a Virgin America flight. However, GM John Idzik says he anticipates a competition at quarterback this season. On the other side of the ball, while the New York defense is pretty solid as a whole, they’€™ll almost certainly be the market for offensive skill position players this offseason either in the draft or free agency.

Bills – As is the case at this time of year, the biggest moves for Buffalo to this point in the offseason have come on the coaching staff — following the departure of Mike Pettine, the Bills have added Jim Schwartz as defensive coordinator. They’€™ve also done some more sideline shuffling, including the addition of Rob Moore as receivers coach and Pepper Johnson as linebackers coach. Schwartz favors a 4-3 scheme, which means the Bills will have to tweak their personnel as a result, but on paper, the Buffalo defense is actually pretty well-positioned going into 2014. Led by linebacker Kiko Alonso and pass rushers Kyle Williams, Mario Williams and Jerry Hughes, the Bills led the league with 57 sacks, and were second in the league with 23 picks. They could add some depth in the secondary, particularly if defensive back Jairus Byrd leaves as a free agent. Buffalo also needs some help on the offensive line, as well as some help at tight end if Scott Chandler walks in free agency. The Bills reportedly have roughly $15 million under the cap, and will likely use some of that to put more offensive skill position players around quarterback EJ Manuel, who needs to make a sizable leap going into 2014 if the Bills are able to break through in the AFC East.

Dolphins – Where to start? Miami is a bit of a mess right now, as the franchise continues to deal with the Richie Incognito-Jonathan Martin saga. It remains to be seen if the Dolphins end up making changes on their coaching staff as a result of what’€™s happened, but they’€™ve already parted ways with GM Jeff Ireland, going with Dennis Hickey in his place. (They also fired offensive coordinator Mike Sherman after Miami’€™s offense finished 26th in the league with an average of 19.8 points per game. They hired Eagles quarterback coach Bill Lazor as the new OC.) Hickey will have roughly $17 million in cap space to deal with when free agency opens, and he will almost certainly focus on an offensive line that was struggling, even before the Incognito-Martin situation blew up — quarterback Ryan Tannehill was sacked 58 times in 2013, most in the league. From a big picture perspective, it will be interesting to watch the moves that Hickey, coach Joe Philbin and owner Stephen Ross will make this offseason in hopes of trying to repair the Dolphins rep this offseason.

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Peter King on M&M: ‘Not a surprise’ that Nick Caserio is interviewing with Dolphins 01.24.14 at 1:54 pm ET
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Peter King

Peter King

Peter King of Sports Illustrated and NBC Sports made his weekly appearance on Mut & Merloni on Friday to talk about the general manger opening in Miami and last weekend’€™s AFC championship. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.

ESPN’€™s Adam Schefter reported Friday morning that New England’€™s director of player personnel, Nick Caserio, was in Miami interviewing for the Dolphins general manager position.

“It’€™s not a surprise,” King said of the report. “If you’€™re a personnel guy for an NFL team, why wouldn’t you want to interview for a general manager’€™s job in which you’€™re going to have personnel control?”

According to King, the GM spot is a good position because of Miami quarterback Ryan Tannehill.

“Ryan Tannehill has a chance to be a top-10 quarterback for the next 10 years,” King said. “Is he right now? He’€™s borderline. He’€™s not there right now, but he’€™s got a chance to be in the 8-12 range, and I think if you take over the job you’€™re going to have the ability to build around a quarterback instead of being in the endless search for a quarterback.

“I was talking to one coach in this division who doesn’t coach the Patriots this past summer on my training camp trip,” King added. “He said, ‘€˜Look, Tom Brady‘€™s not playing forever. Bill Belichick‘€™s not coaching forever,’€™ and so at some point the Patriots are going to come back down to earth.

“I don’€™t know that that’€™s going to be in the next two or three years, but the day is coming where the Patriots are going to have to find another quarterback and eventually another coach. I have no idea when it’€™s going to be, but I would not be scared off by the fact that Tom Brady and Bill Belichick are in New England if I’€™m interviewing for a job in that division.”

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Fantasy Football: Week 16 waiver wire 12.17.13 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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Rob Ninkovich on M&M: ‘We’ve got to come up with a big play’ 12.16.13 at 11:53 am ET
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Patriots linebacker Rob Ninkovich made his weekly appearance with Mut & Merloni on Monday to discuss Sunday’s disappointing 24-20 loss to the Dolphins in Miami.

Rob Ninkovich

Rob Ninkovich

The defense played well overall but could not stop the Dolphins on key drives toward the end of both halves. Miami scored on a field goal on its final possession of the first half to close within a touchdown, then scored a touchdown late in the fourth quarter for the winning points.

“You can’t have a minute left before the half and let a team drive the length of the field and score,” Ninkovich said. “It comes down to doing little things better, and fundamentally stopping certain things that they were repeating throughout the game. You’ve got to give credit to [Ryan] Tannehill, because if you see some of those passes — I rewatched the game, and those were some tight windows he was throwing into. Just quick stuff that was slants and back shoulders, which are good throws, they’re tight throws.

“With those two drives, that’s the game right there. At the end there, with that fourth-and-5, that one was a tough one. A tear screen, that’s a bold call to run that play, because you’re throwing the ball behind the line of scrimmage, or at the line of scrimmage, to try and get five yards.”

On the fourth-down completion to Charles Clay that kept Miami’s winning drive alive, Ninkovich was close to batting down the pass.

“I was unblocked there and I was trying to mirror the hand,” Ninkovich said. “He pumped once and then threw again, so he kind of gave a little sidearm there, and my hands were straight up. I wish I would have just stopped. But again, an empty [backfield] in a fourth-down situation. If I just would have stopped and retraced, I might have been able to get there. That’s one of those plays, at the end of the game you pin your ears back and you’re just trying to get to the quarterback and disrupt him. That’s another play where you wish you had that one, get your hands on it and knock it down and the game’s over.”

Added Ninkovich: “You’d like to stop it right there, and game over. … One of these drives the defense has to make a play; we’ve got to come up with a big play. At the end of the game we can’t leave it up to the offense with a minute [left] to expect them to go down and score every time.”

Since their dramatic comeback victory over the Broncos last month, the Patriots have not looked impressive in wins over the Texans and Browns and the loss to Miami.

“Execution, that’s the name of the game. Who can execute better, who can run better routes, who can defend the routes better. That’s Football 101,” Ninkovich said. “Who’s going to go out there and have a better three-phase — offense, defense, special teams. When one of those is off, when a couple aren’t working the way they need to work, then you lose football games.

“I always like to say you’ve got to continue to kind of progress. I feel like the last three weeks we really haven’t had much progression. We need to get it going.”

To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page. For more Patriots news, visit the team page at weei.com/patriots.

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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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Fantasy Football: Week 12 starts, sits 11.22.13 at 10:28 am ET
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WEEI_FantasyFootball_2013_hdr_v6

Welcome to the starts and sits for Week 12. I’ve done my best to find some options from across the spectrum while avoiding the really obvious stuff. This is the last bye week for the NFL, so things get a lot easier going forward for those whose teams are still in the thick of things. If you require more assistance or clarity, head over to Rotobahn and check out our full lineup rankings. Also, make sure you check out the Fantasy Football Podcast with Jim Hackett sponsored by our friends at Mohegan Sun. And, as always, I’ll be here Sunday morning for our chat to help with your Week 12 lineup decisions.

QUARTERBACKS

STARTS

Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers at Browns

He’s gone off in two out of the last three games, and he’s worth a look based on upside alone. He probably will have his best receiver taken away because Cleveland’s Joe Haden is one of the league’s best cornerbacks, but Big Ben has other places he can go with the ball.

Carson Palmer, Cardinals vs. Colts

He’ll have his ups and downs in this weekend’s game because Indy can get a pass rush going sometimes, but he’ll have enough moments throwing to Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd to have a solid fantasy outing.

Josh McCown, Bears at Rams

He’s not fun to watch, but like Shaun Hill on the Lions, he gets the job done. Coach Marc Trestman has done his usual magnificent job with his quarterbacks, and you can expect some solid stats in Week 12. The Rams simply cannot match up with the size and athleticism of the Chicago receivers and tight ends. The Rams could get lit up if they fail to rush the passer, which is the strength of their defense. McCown is a solid option in 12-team leagues.

Mike Glennon, Bucs at Lions

This is a deep play. Glennon is a bit risky on the road, but I like the matchup with the Tampa receivers going against the Detroit defensive backs. I also think the Bucs can hold up better than most teams against the Lions’ nasty front four. Glennon can play for you in a 12-team league if you’re in a bind. The same can be said for Scott Tolzien of the Packers and and Case Keenum of the Texans.

SIT

Ryan Tannehill, Dolphins vs. Panthers

He’s got bad protection, broken weapons and a bad Week 1 matchup. He may get some volume stats, but you can do better in most formats. Leave Tannehill on the bench this week if you have other options.

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Fantasy Football: Week 10 starts, sits 11.08.13 at 10:29 am ET
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Welcome to the Week 10 starts and sits. Just to clarify, these are not the top-rated players at their positions this week. Rather, they are players who are on the edge in terms of the weekly value. If you want my top ranked players at every position, go to Rotobahn.com for our full lineup rankings. Jim Hackett and I will back later Friday with our weekly podcast, and please join us for a Sunday morning chat, as I’ll be here at 11 a.m. to answer all of your lineup questions.

QUARTERBACKS

STARTS

Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers vs. Bills

I’m sticking with Big Ben after he came through for me last week. His matchup gets better going from the Patriots at Foxboro to the Bills on his home field. The Steelers also have a full complement of weapons for the first time in a while with the return of WR Markus Wheaton, who we like a lot. Roethlisberger can help in any league this week.

Terrelle Pryor, Raiders at Giants

He’s the fulcrum of the Oakland offense. Nothing happens without him involved. Pryor should be good for a few big plays against the Giants, who have been giving up plays all year. Pryor is a good option, especially in bigger leagues, and he has big-game potential if things break right.

Eli Manning, Giants vs. Raiders

Yes, there’s risk, but if you are hurting for options, he looks like a good start to me this week. The Giants have slowly become functional on offense, and I think the return of tailback Andre Brown will be another boost — giving Manning another way to make plays in passing situations. He can help you in most formats this week.

Jake Locker, Titans vs. Jaguars

He is playing better, and he should perform well in a sweet home matchup this week. His running game has kicked in, and that opens things up downfield. Plus, Locker can get you extra points with his feet. He can help you this week if you need an option in a big league.

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