|Fantasy Football: Week 12 starts, sits||11.27.15 at 12:45 pm ET|
I’m taking some deep shots today in hopes of helping those in need, so you’ll want to be careful with how you use these recommendations. As I said last week, it’s a good idea to cross-reference these ideas against my full lineup rankings that are up at Rotobahn and will be fully updated Saturday afternoon.
As always, I will be here Sunday at 11 a.m. for our weekly chat. Bring your lineup questions and I’ll do my best to help. And don’t forget to tune in to the Fantasy Football Hour this Sunday at 8 a.m. when Jim Hackett and I will discuss trending Week 12 topics and crucial game day information.
Brian Hoyer, Texans vs. Saints
The matchup is syrupy sweet, and he has enough healthy weapons to take advantage of it. DeAndre Hopkins has taken his game to another level, and the Saints simply do not play there. Cecil Shorts is healthy, and so is deep threat Nate Washington. The table is set here, so use Hoyer if you are looking to stream a quarterback in Week 12.
Ryan Tannehill, Dolphins at Jets
The Jets are banged up on defense and the injuries are to their crucial players, like Darrelle Revis and Sheldon Richardson. I’d be all-in on Tannehill, but he may be without his security blanket, Jarvis Landry. Still, if this was a chess match, the Jets are down a queen and a bishop while Tannehill loses a knight. He has a good chance to post QB1-type numbers.
Josh McCown, Browns vs. Ravens
Baltimore has been hit by an injury tsunami, and you have to wonder what that team has in the tank right now. Matt Schaub inspires no one at this stage of his career. The Browns should be able to do some things throwing the ball, and at the end of the day McCown should have serviceable numbers, and he has the potential for a plus performance if things break right. He’s a guy you can probably get, too.
|Scouting Report: What you have to know about Dolphins-Patriots||10.28.15 at 8:51 pm ET|
Here’s what you have to know when it comes to Thursday’s Dolphins-Patriots contest at Gillette Stadium:
WHEN THE PATRIOTS RUN THE BALL
Overall, the Patriots have the 31st-ranked run game in the NFL at 83.7 yards per carry, but those numbers are certainly skewed because of the nonstop pass-a-thon last week against the Jets. (The nine carries for New England were the fewest in a game since a 2007 win over the Steelers.) In many ways, considering the scheme and matchup, this week could be a completely opposite approach for the Patriots offense, as Miami totes one of the worst run-defenses in the league into this league into Thursday’s showdown — the Dolphins are 30th overall, yielding 129.3 rushing yards per game. However, those Miami numbers also have to be looked at in context, as the change from Joe Philbin to Dan Campbell and the substandard level of competition has combined to see the Dolphins hold the last two opponents to an average of 67 yards. (That’s in the wake of four straight games where Miami allowed at least 123 rushing yards in each game to start the season.)
So where does that leave us heading into Thursday? Well, expect the Patriots to run the ball more than they did against the Jets. The strength of the Miami defensive front is getting after the passer, and given the fact that the Texans and Titans fell behind early against Miami the last two weeks, there was no reason for them to run for those two teams. The Dolphins trailed for much of the four other games, and so I’m inclined to believe their run defense, if pressed, will respond in much the same fashion it did over the course of the first four games than the last two. That means expect more LeGarrette Blount (52 carries, 246 yards, 4 TDs), and, if he’s healthy enough to play, Dion Lewis (40 carries, 201 yards, 2 TDs).
WHEN THE PATRIOTS PASS THE BALL
This is the matchup that will likely decide the game. If Tom Brady gets enough time in the wake of the Miami pass rush — he’s averaged just over two seconds for most of the year between snap and throw — he will continue to make his money with the short and intermediate passes to Julian Edelman (45 catches, 503 yards, 4 TDs), Rob Gronkowski (34 catches, 533 yards, 6 TDs), Danny Amendola (25 catches, 289 yards, 2 TDs) and (if he plays), Lewis (26 catches, 256 yards, 1 TD). In addition, if that time is there, expect more shots at Brandon LaFell (2 catches, 25 yards), who was clearly asked to do too much in his first game of the year last week against the Jets.
It’s not going to be easy, as the Miami front has always played Brady tough — there have been an awful lot of mentions over the last few days about how the Dolphins got after the quarterback plenty in the second half of last year’s opener in South Florida, sacking him four times on the way to that win. And since 2012, Brady has completed only 58.6 percent of his passes and has a passer rating of just 82.7 against the Dolphins, both well below his career averages. Ndamukong Suh will test the youthful interior of the New England offensive line, while the expected Cameron Wake vs. Cameron Fleming matchup on Brady’s right side is going to DEMAND that Mike Williams spend a lot of time on Fleming’s hip. If Brady does get enough time, look for him to target the Miami linebackers, who have struggled in coverage. Curiously, the Dolphins have had issues covering receivers, but have done well when it comes to getting after tight ends, per Football Outsiders. We’ll see how they do when it comes to matching up with Gronkowski on Thursday night.
|Batting down those passes: Bill Belichick drills fundamentals into his team||10.27.15 at 11:23 am ET|
FOXBORO — In the first half Sunday, the Patriots defensive front was very active disrupting Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Rob Ninkovich swatted three passes at the line of scrimmage, Jamie Collins and Chandler Jones got their mitts on pieces of two others.
None of them resulted in interceptions but the Patriots came very close.
On New York’s second drive of the game, Fitzpatrick drove the Jets to the Patriots 2 and had second-and-goal. Fitzpatrick saw an open Chris Owusu in the end zone. The pass was tipped at the line of scrimmage and Ninkovich dove and just missed the ball.
Still, the play kept the Jets out of the end zone and, after a Patrick Chung strip of tight end Jeff Cumberland in the end zone a play later, the Jets settled for a field goal.
Those four points saved by the tipped pass were big in allowing the Patriots to command a 13-10 lead at the half.
“I’d say we definitely work on it every week, I mean not every week, every day,” Belichick said of the art of batting down passes at the line. “It’s one of those things we work on fundamentally with our defensive players, turning the ball over. It’s part of our turnover-type circuit and tackling and all those things. We have a variety of drills that we work on regularly, emphasizing in practice.
“There are some games where you might notice a few more tipped balls than in other games, but I’d say for the most part it’s just a fundamental part of knowing where you are relative to the quarterback and where he’s throwing and if you’re in the passing lane to try to put your hand or hands up where that lane is, and if you’re not in that lane then you keep rushing.”
|5 things you have to know about Dolphins: Dan Campbell has Miami feeling good entering clash with Patriots||10.26.15 at 12:16 pm ET|
Five things you have to know about the 3-3 Dolphins, who will face the 6-0 Patriots on Thursday night at Gillette Stadium.
1. They feel really good about themselves right now.
No team has endured more roller-coaster moments over the first six games than the Dolphins. After barely beating Washington in the opener, Miami suffered consecutive defeats to the Jaguars (!!!), Bills (a 41-14 blowout at home) and Jets. The loss to New York, which took place in London, was the final straw for ownership, which fired coach Joe Philbin and replaced him with Dan “Dantallica” Campbell. Blasting in with Oklahoma drills and Metallica at practice, the hard-nosed Campbell has injected new life into the team with back-to-back wins over the Titans (38-10) and Texans (44-26). Campbell is only the fifth interim coach of 26 in the NFL since 2000 to win his first two games. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill completed his first 18 pass attempts against Houston on Sunday, and Miami became the first team in at least 75 years to score four offensive touchdowns of at least 50 yards in a half. (All according to STATS.) While you have to take into account the competition they faced in those two games, it’s certainly got the Dolphins feeling better about themselves once again, even while faced with the prospect of going on the road on a short week to face the defending Super Bowl champions.
2. Running back Lamar Miller finally is getting his chance.
One of the biggest on-field changes Campbell has introduced is the decision to unleash Miller. The 5-foot-11, 215-pounder was always utilized sparingly under Philbin, but with Campbell in charge he’s become much more of an every-down presence in the Miami offense and now needs to be seriously accounted for as a potential game-changer when you are game-planning for the Dolphins offense. The 24-year-old, who had 37 carries for 131 yards in the first four games of the season under Philbin, has 33 carries for 288 yards and a pair of touchdowns with Campbell at the helm in the last two games. Again, you have to take into consideration the talent Miami has faced the last two weeks, but when it comes to Miller, from this viewpoint, he’s the real deal. The youngster, who rushed for 1,099 yards last year, simply didn’t get enough reps in the old system. Campbell has managed to right that wrong, and has discovered a set of relatively fresh legs for the Dolphins running game as a result.
|Fantasy Football: Week 7 starts, sits||10.23.15 at 12:22 pm ET|
It’s Friday and that means it’s time for some starts and sits. As always, I have done my best to avoid the really obvious stuff. If you are looking for information or rankings on players not included in this article, just go to Rotobahn and consult my full Week 7 lineup rankings. I will update them all on Saturday.
Check back here on Saturday for an in-depth look at this week’s DraftKings pricing.
I will be here Sunday at 11 a.m. for our weekly pregame chat. Bring your lineup questions and I’ll do my best to help. And don’t forget to tune in to the Fantasy Football Hour this Sunday at 8 a.m. when Jim Hackett and I will discuss the trending Week 7 topics and crucial game day information.
Blake Bortles, Jaguars vs. Bills
It’s the early game from London, so there’s no home-field edge for the Jaguars. Still, Bortles has been too good to dismiss, and he has a very nice trio of weapons in the passing game now that Julius Thomas is back in the mix.
Ryan Tannehill, Dolphins vs. Texans
He’s been throwing way too many picks, but the Texans should help him get back on track, because they are not locking down receivers at all and their pass rush has been less than what we all projected going into the year. Tannehill may not be a great option, but he is playable in most leagues if you need him this week.
Jameis Winston, Buccaneers at Washington
You beat Washington by throwing the football, and I expect the Bucs to get the ball in the air plenty, because they are facing a secondary riddled with injuries. I also like Winston’s weapons, and that includes backup running back Charles Sims, who can turn a swing pass into a long touchdown. Winston has a ways to go as a real-life quarterback, but his high-end weapons give him an advantage as far as fantasy is concerned, and they should be healthy coming off the bye week.
|Donte Stallworth: Tom Brady paid practice squad players who intercepted him in practice||10.06.15 at 7:43 pm ET|
In wake of a report out of Miami that ex-Dolphins coach Joe Philbin had to tell practice squad players to go easy on Ryan Tannehill, a former Patriots player has come out and said Tom Brady is the exact opposite.
Former Patriots wide receiver Donte Stallworth tweeted: Brady actually paid practice squad and look team guys if they picked him off in practice early Tuesday morning.
Stallworth followed it up with: But comparing Tannehill to Brady is like comparing a rowboat to a battleship.
For more Patriots news, visit weei.com/patriots.
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|What to make of: Miami Dolphins||07.22.15 at 1:05 pm ET|
With Patriots camp opening up on July 30 at Gillette Stadium, WEEI.com takes a quick look at each of the Patriots’ rivals in the AFC East, their additions, losses and what each team needs to accomplish in camp.
2014 finish: 8-8, 3rd in AFC East
Key additions: DT Ndamukong Suh, WR Kenny Stills, WR DeVante Parker (R), TE Jordan Cameron, DT CJ Mosley
Key losses: DL Jared Odrick, LB Dannell Ellberbe, LB Jonathan Freeny, S Jimmy Wilson, TE Charles Clay, RB Daniel Thomas
Camp goals: Keep Suh fresh, healthy and happy, find reps for new wide receivers who will have to find rhythm with franchise quarterback Ryan Tannehill, develop some type of killer instinct and focus to close out games.
What to make of the Dolphins: While the Dolphins made a huge splash in the offseason by signing the biggest name defensive tackle on the market, it will be fascinating to see if the sum of the parts equals the whole when it comes to pad-crunching time.
There’s no doubt the Dolphins are getting one of the best in the game in Ndamukong Suh along the defensive line. He became the highest paid defensive player in NFL history, when Miami signed him to a six-year deal worth roughly $114 million, with nearly $60 million fully guaranteed.
Like the Bills and Jets, the Dolphins have stacked up on defensive linemen and edge rushers, with the hope of getting to Tom Brady atop the division. Suh joins a crew that already includes C.J. Mosley, rookie Jordan Phillips, Derrick Shelby, Olivier Vernon and Cameron Wake.
But they lost defensive lineman Jared Odrick (Jaguars), linebackers Dannell Ellerbe (Saints) and Jonathan Freeny (Patriots) and safety Jimmy Wilson (Chargers). To shore up their receiving corps, the Dolphins traded their third-round selection (No. 78 overall) and Ellerbe to the Saints in exchange for wide receiver Kenny Stills.
The other huge financial commitment the Dolphins made this offseason was to their quarterback. On May 18, 2015, Ryan Tannehill signed a four-year contract extension with the Dolphins through the 2020 season worth $77 million. It includes a $11.5 million signing bonus, $45 million guaranteed, and an average annual salary of just over $19 million.
They also brought back veteran backup Matt Moore behind Tannehill, so the Dolphins have that going for them.