|Fantasy Football: Week 1 waiver wire||09.09.14 at 1:58 pm ET|
Welcome to the first waiver wire of 2014. It was a wild Week 1 and I’m here to help you sort out the best available free agent targets. The level of available talent identified here is geared for the more common 10-team leagues. I like all the players listed below in those types of formats, and obviously in larger ones if they happen to be available. I’ll be posting the Rotobahn waiver wire later Tuesday, and as always, I’ll be digging even deeper and adding more names as I continue to break down Week 1 game film.
I’ll be back later this week with another Starts and Sits column plus another podcast with Fantasy Football Hour co-host Jim Hackett. All the ownership rates listed below are based on Yahoo! leagues, which tend to be smaller and are most reflective of 10-team leagues. To keep pace with all WEEI and Rotobahn fantasy football content, follow me on Twitter.
Carson Palmer, Cardinals
Palmer is taken in just over half of all leagues, and his weapons make him dangerous in plus matchups. He gets the Giants next week and has some nice soft matchups on the horizon from Weeks 6-9.
Ryan Tannehill, Dolphins
He looked very much in-control in Week 1 vs. a New England defense that we expected to hold him down. Tannehill certainly has some fantasy appeal as a matchup play when the opponent is right. You still can get him in more than half of Yahoo! leagues.
Jake Locker, Titans
Locker gets Dallas this week and that could be a reason to add him in and of itself. Locker also has a nice developing group of weapons, and he played well on the road last week against a tough Rams defense. He’s got some appeal in the short term for sure. Locker can be had in 88 percent of leagues.
Ryan Fitzpatrick, Texans
Fitzpatrick is what he is — an uninspiring quarterback. Still, he has some very nice targets to throw to like Andre Johnson and DeAndre Hopkins. He also has a decent overall schedule and that includes visiting Oakland this week. He’s only taken in 9 percent of leagues.
|Chandler Jones on MFB: ‘Got to get better when I get a shot at the quarterback’||09.08.14 at 1:22 pm ET|
Defensive end Chandler Jones checked in with the Middays with MFB crew on Monday to recap Sunday’s 33-20 loss to the Dolphins. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.
Jones twice received penalties for hitting quarterback Ryan Tannehill too high. He could be seen arguing with the official, but he said he understands why he was penalized.
“For the most part, on both of them I was a little bit high,” Jones acknowledged. “I’ve just got to get better when I get a shot at the quarterback, just lower my pad level. Because on both of them I think the problem was I was a bit high. Hopefully I can just work at it, do some tackling drills.”
While Tom Brady was sacked four times, Tannehill only went down once for a loss.
“They did a good job. Credit goes to them. They did a good job of stopping us. Me personally, my goal is to get pressure. I felt like I could have got more pressure than I did. So, it’s something that I just have to work on for next week. They’re short-lived. We went out there and lost, credit goes to Miami. But you’ve just got to get ready for Minnesota.”
Added Jones: “Miami just did a good job of executing plays. We went out there to play against those guys and they just did a good job of crossing their ‘t’s, dotting their ‘i’s. They did a great job. So, like I said, hat’s off to them.”
Running back Knowshon Moreno had a big day for the Dolphins, rushing for 134 yards and a touchdown.
“Knowshon is a great player, He has very good balance, very good vision for a running back, has been in the league for a while now. As far as the scheme that he’s running, he does a good job in the scheme. So, hat’s off to him. He had a great game. Hopefully we can contain him next time.”
|Option play: Bill Belichick, Patriots ready for Miami’s new-look offense||09.02.14 at 2:40 pm ET|
The Patriots will be facing a new offensive coordinator on Sunday, as Bill Lazor is in his first season as OC with the Dolphins. Lazor, who served as the quarterbacks coach in Philly last season, figures to bring a slice of the uptempo style that Chip Kelly and the Eagles delivered last season.
So how do you prepare for a new OC when there’s little meaningful film of his schemes as a coordinator at the NFL level? Bill Belichick said Tuesday that the Patriots have already tried to get a sense of the new-look Miami offense by taking a look back at the uptempo Philly offense last year.
“I would say that they look very similar to the way the Eagles look offensively; different than what Miami looked like last year,” Belichick said of the Dolphins. “I’d say it’s quite substantial.”
Substantial might be an understatement. Measured situation-neutral offensive pace – a formula from the site Football Outsiders that eliminates things like two-minute drills and late-game clock-killing situations to get a truer idea of the offense’s intentions when it comes to offensive pace – the 2012 Dolphins were ninth overall at one play every 29.23 seconds, and last year, on average, they ran one play every 30.08 seconds, 14th quickest in the NFL.
That contrasts with the speed of Philly’s offense: under Kelly last year, the Eagles were the fastest team in the league, getting off a play once every 23.88 seconds.
Read the rest of this entry »
|Chandler Jones on MFB: Dolphins OL Branden Albert ‘will be a very good test’ in opener||at 12:10 pm ET|
Defensive end Chandler Jones checked in with the Middays with MFB show on Tuesday, as the Patriots start planning for Sunday’s game against the Dolphins. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.
The Dolphins won the teams’ last meeting, a 24-20 decision in Miami last Dec. 15. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill passed for 312 yards and three touchdowns in that game.
Jones, who led the Patriots with 11 1/2 sacks last season, is wary of Tannehill’s ability to improvise and pick up yards on scrambles.
“Ryan Tannehill — very, very athletic quarterback,” Jones said. “He’s a guy that can beat you with his arm or can beat you on the ground with his legs. It’s our job — well, it’s my job as a defensive lineman, me and Rob [Ninkovich] as well, just to contain him. He’s very versatile, he can make big plays, and it’s our job to contain him. He can definitely get out of the pocket. He definitely can.”
Jones should see plenty of new Dolphins offensive lineman Branden Albert, who was signed as a free agent in the offseason after six years with the Chiefs.
‘”Branden Albert is a great player,” Jones said of the 6-foot-5, 316-pounder who was a Pro Bowler last season. “This is his first year there over in Miami. He’s a very big individual. The thing that really impresses me is his footwork for his size, for his height, he’s a big guy, he’s even taller than me. And I’m tall myself. But his footwork is very, very good. He’s very trained to not bite on certain moves and certain things of that nature. It will be a very good test and I’m excited to go against him. I really am.”
|5 things you have to know about Dolphins||09.01.14 at 9:35 pm ET|
Here are five things you have to know about the Dolphins, who are looking to break the Patriots’ 10-game winning streak when it comes to regular-season openers Sunday in South Florida.
1. They are going to look to push the pace offensively.
Miami imported former Eagles quarterbacks coach Bill Lazor to serve as its new OC, and in an attempt to give the offense a jolt, he’s expected to bring a little Chip Kelly-style flair to the proceedings. That means faster football, and given the fact that the Patriots will be entering into what’s expected to be sweltering South Florida heat, the Dolphins will try and use a quicker tempo to their advantage. For what it’s worth, Miami has been a little quicker than the average NFL team over the last two years under Joe Philbin. Measured using situation-neutral offensive pace — a formula from Football Outsiders that eliminates things like two-minute drills and late-game clock-killing situations to get a truer idea of the offense’s intentions when it comes to offensive pace — the 2012 Dolphins were ninth overall at one play every 29.23 seconds, and last year, on average, they ran one play every 30.08 seconds, 14th quickest in the NFL. Of course, it’s debatable how effective the uptempo style will be. But it’s important to remember that Lazor played a sizable role in the growth and development of Nick Foles in Philly’s fast scheme last year, as Foles went from backup quarterback to SI cover boy in the span of a few months and the Eagles went from worst (4-12 and last in the NFC East) to first (10-6 and a division title) under Kelly. It’s clear Miami is hoping that Ryan Tannehill and the rest of the Dolphins offense can respond the same way in 2014.
2. They are all-in at wide receiver.
The Dolphins have really gone above and beyond when it comes to giving Ryan Tannehill enough options. With the cap hit for Mike Wallace ballooning to $17.25 million this year, the Dolphins are spending a whopping $29.6 million on their 2014 wide receivers’by far the most in the league, according to a June study by CBS Sports. Wallace, Brian Hartline, Rishard Matthews and Brandon Gibson are joined by rookie Jarvis Landry to form a relatively deep group of wide receivers, one that will serve as a nice challenge for a revamped New England secondary at the start of the season. (Some believe Lazor will try and use Wallace in much the same manner the Eagles did with DeSean Jackson, which is an intriguing concept.)
3. The interior of their offensive line is vulnerable.
The Dolphins have struggled with their offensive line dating back to last year — from a pure football perspective, the Incognito-Martin imbroglio simply shone a light on things. Miami allowed a league-high 58 sacks of Tannehill last season, 10 more than the second-place finish (Baltimore’s Joe Flacco was sacked 48 times) and tied for 10th most all-time in a single season. (For some perspective, Houston’s David Carr was sacked an astounding 76 times in 2002, the all-time mark.) Here’s a highlight reel of all 58 sacks, a sequence that lasts almost 10 minutes.
In all, Tannehill has been sacked 93 times in his first two years in the league. (We haven’t even mentioned the fact that the Miami running game was 26th in the league last season — a sizable portion of the blame for those numbers can also be attributed to the offensive line.) And so it was no surprise the Dolphins made offensive line a priority this offseason. They stabilized their left tackle spot with the addition of Branden Albert, while they used their first round pick on Ja’Wuan James, who appears to be the Week 1 right tackle for Miami. But things are still very rough along the interior, as center Mike Pouncey continues to work his way back from offseason hip surgery (Samson Satele will get the start in his place), while guard play has been questionable at best over the course of the summer. Bottom line? If you want to attack this offense, your best bet appears to be up the gut.
4. Their pass rush will test the New England offensive line early.
Left defensive end Cameron Wake (8.5 sacks last year) and right defensive end Olivier Vernon (11.5 sacks last year) combine to form a very nice set of bookends, and are likely the top priority when it comes to pass protection for the Patriots. (Per Football Outsiders, Wake notched at least 20 hurries and 20 quarterback knockdowns for the fourth year in a row.) While the Dolphins are very good off the edge, it would ostensibly be a strength-on-strength matchup against right tackle Sebastian Vollmer and left tackle Nate Solder. Miami could have an edge if it finds a way to get pressure up the middle, as the interior of New England’s offensive line has some personnel questions, particularly if Marcus Cannon is utilized more as a backup swing tackle than one of the two available guard spots. But many of the questions people have had about the overall fitness of the Patriots offensive line will be answered against a pretty good front seven in the opener.
5. They are ready for Rob Gronkowski … if the big tight end does play.
The Dolphins hardly sounded shocked at the proclamation from Gronkowski that he was good to go for Week 1. Miami defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle was asked about Gronkowski’s statement that he was going to play, and he responded with a simple, ‘We assumed that he might.’ In Gronkowski’s career, the Patriots are 6-0 against Miami when he’s in the lineup, but for what it’s worth, the Dolphins have actually done a pretty fair job at containing Gronkowski over the years: In six career games against Miami, he’s averaged four catches, 56 yards and 0.5 touchdowns per game, some of his lowest per game averages against a regular opponent. (In his last two games against Miami, Gronkowski had only only four catches.) It remains to be seen if Gronkowski actually plays, and if he does, how many snaps he’ll take. (His overall football fitness remains in question, and Bill Belichick has said on numerous occasions that you just can run around a track a few times and be ready to play.) But history tells us that the Dolphins have found a way to not stop him completely, but at least slow him down to a point where he not the runaway offensive force he’s been against most teams when he’s been healthy. “He’s an excellent player,” Philbin said Monday when asked about Gronkowski. “He’s been a very, very productive player throughout his career. We’ll have a good plan in place, but he’s certainly an important part of their offense, and a productive part of it. We’ll be ready for him, for sure.”
|AFC East becoming fast, furious offensive division||06.13.14 at 12:07 am ET|
Looking for fast football? Then the AFC East may be your cup of tea in 2014.
The Dolphins are making a lot of noise this season about pushing the pace for a few reasons, not the least of which is the fact that they have imported Eagles quarterbacks coach Bill Lazor as their new offensive coordinator. And given the fact that Lazor was with Chip Kelly and the record-setting Philadelphia offense in 2013, there are bound to be comparisons to what Kelly and Philly did.
“It’s reminiscent of Chip Kelly’s offense in Philadelphia, with the tempo and style,” said one Dolphins player who asked not to be named when he was quizzed about the look of Miami’s offense this spring. “There are some West Coast offense concepts. … Some shotgun, some under center. They’ve discussed having both no-huddle and huddle. It’s fast tempo.”
For what it’s worth, Miami has been a little quicker than the average NFL team over the last two years under Joe Philbin. Measured using situation-neutral offensive pace — a formula from the site Football Outsiders that eliminates things like two-minute drills and late-game clock-killing situations to get a truer idea of the offense’s intentions when it comes to offensive pace — the 2012 Dolphins were ninth overall at one play every 29.23 seconds, and last year, on average, they ran one play every 30.08 seconds, 14th quickest in the NFL.
But a Kelly-style overhaul would certainly take things to the next level, and could jump start a Miami offense that had been bogged down at times the last few seasons under former offensive coordinator Mike Sherman.
“Bill has done an excellent job,” Philbin said of Lazor’s work in a radio interview in April. “We’re going to be stressing the tempo of our offense, the play speed.”
Of course, when it comes to the AFC East, fast football is certainly nothing new, and more often than not the uptempo approach starts with New England. While last year’s Patriots eased off the uptempo style that helped to define them offensively over the previous two seasons, New England still was faster than most of the rest of the league in 2013. Using situation-neutral offensive pace, the Patriots ran one play every 26.59 seconds last season, the third-highest rate in the NFL. Only Philadelphia (23.88) and Buffalo (24.92) were faster.
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|Offseason updates on rest of AFC East||02.18.14 at 12:51 pm ET|
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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