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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

Andrew Hawkins

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: Colin Kaepernick, Eric Decker, Russell Wilson, Tom Brady
Giants LB Mark Herzlich on MFB: ‘Kind of ridiculous’ to say Tom Brady no longer an elite QB 07.07.14 at 1:31 pm ET
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Giants linebacker and former Boston College star Mark Herzlich joined Middays with MFB on Monday morning at his charity golf tournament at the Pinehills Golf Club in Plymouth to discuss his battle with cancer, his road to the NFL and the criticism that Eli Manning deals with on an almost daily basis. To listen to the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.

Herzlich, who missed the entire 2009 college football season after being diagnosed with a rare form of bone cancer known as Ewing’€™s sarcoma, is in his fifth year of hosting the Liberty Mutual Invitational celebrity golf tournament. Proceeds from the event go to Uplifting Athletes, a non-profit that funds sarcoma research.

“€œIt was all kind of a whirlwind,”€ Herzlich said. “€œThe first year I was back, I said, ‘€˜OK, we want to do something to give back,’€™ so Jayme Parker at NESN was very helpful throughout the process and so Jayme said, ‘€˜Let’€™s do a golf tournament.’€™ … Liberty Mutual jumped in and said, ‘€˜OK, we’€™ll be your sponsor,’€™ and since then it’€™s just been rolling and this is our fifth one.”

After his playing days at Chestnut Hill, Herzlich signed with the Giants as an undrafted free agent on July 26, 2011. Herzlich has recorded 84 combined tackles during his three seasons in New York. While the former ACC Defensive Player of the Year has carved out a solid career for himself in the NFL, he admitted that returning to the gridiron after missing a whole year battling cancer was a long and trying process.

“The first year I was back, it was night and day,” Herzlich said. “My brain was saying, ‘€˜You can do this,’€™ and my body was saying, ‘€˜You can’€™t do this.’€™ I was going in drops and breaking and missing tackles and luckily I had Luke Kuechly behind me to make all the rest of the tackles that I was missing. … Now I feel like I’€™m as good or better than I was then.

Tom Brady‘s supposed decline has been a hot topic across New England this season. While Herzlich said he still believes Brady is an elite-level signal caller, he also noted that Giants fans would not come to Eli Manning‘€™s defense the same way Patriots fans have for Brady.

“€œI think that there are Eli lovers and Eli haters. There’€™s no one who’€™s like, ‘€˜Yeah, Eli is pretty good, or whatever.’€™ … He does know when he has a bad game, and the problem is that every single person in New York and across the country knows he has a bad game, too, because they let him know. It’€™s tough, and he’€™s very strong-minded to get over that stuff, but I couldn’€™t imagine.

“Some of the stuff that’€™s on Twitter — he doesn’€™t have Twitter, and I’€™m glad he’€™s not on Twitter. As far as Brady not being an elite quarterback, that’€™s kind of ridiculous to me.”

Read More: Eli Manning, Luke Kuechly, Mark Herzlich, Tom Brady
Tom Brady tops ESPN anonymous NFL insider poll for best quarterback in NFL 07.02.14 at 12:31 pm ET
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Despite turning 37 next month, Tom Brady hasn't lost any respect among top NFL insiders, finishing at the top in a recent ESPN anonymous league insider survey. (AP)

Despite turning 37 next month, Tom Brady hasn’t lost any respect among top NFL insiders, finishing at the top in a recent ESPN anonymous league insider poll. (AP)

Tom Brady will turn 37 years old in a month, but that doesn’t mean the quarterback is losing any respect among top league insiders.

In an ESPN poll (insider only), NFL Insider Mike Sando anonymously polled 26 league insiders, including eight general managers, two former general managers, four pro personnel evaluators, seven coordinators, two head coaches, two position coaches and a top executive to get their ranking on each of the projected 32 starting NFL quarterbacks. The rankings were given on a 1-5 scale, with one being the best and five the worst. Sando then was able to separate the quarterbacks into tiers, 1-4.

Brady came out at the top with a 1.04 average rating, tying Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees. Those four and Andrew Luck (1.5 average ranking) made up the first tier. Only one voter did not put Brady in the top tier as that pro personnel evaluator only had Manning in tier 1.

“Brady did a lot of good things with limited resources, but I saw holes when they put the onus on him to carry it all, as you saw when Denver beat him,” the personnel evaluator said. “Brady has to have more of a running game at this stage. He cannot line up with five wides and win it as consistently as before. I still think Brady is a top-five quarterback, but I would not say he is the best right now.”

Another veteran offensive assistant doesn’t see things the same way and said Brady, Manning and Brees were all pretty much interchangeable.

“Brady might be the best because he does it with the least every year, just about,” the offensive assistant said. “To me, there is no falloff with that guy. If he played with what Rodgers and Peyton and Brees have played with, it would not even be close. He has not had an outside guy since Randy Moss. These other guys have outside guys coming out of their ears, especially Peyton and Rodgers. It is such a difference when you have outside guys that can stretch, like Manning had in Indy. Then he’d kill you with the inside guys. Brady doesn’t have half the skill players that Manning has. The thing that is scary is that sneakily, the Patriots were pretty good last year anyway.”

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Read More: aaron rodgers, Drew Brees, Peyton Manning, Tom Brady
Julian Edelman talks Darrelle Revis, Rob Gronkowski and Tom Brady with NFL Network 06.25.14 at 10:08 am ET
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Julian Edelman had a career-year in 2013. (AP)

Julian Edelman had a career-year in 2013. (AP)

Julian Edelman appeared on NFL Network’s “Total Access” Monday night, and talked about a wide variety of topics, including Darrelle Revis, Rob Gronkowski, Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. Here are a few quick highlights:

On Revis:

“Darrelle is one of the best corners in the NFL and he showed that in camp. He did very well. He’s a very instinctive player. He’s great in the locker room, I like competing against him every day, and it’s good to have a player like that.”

On Gronkowski possibly playing in Week 1:

“Well, I’m not a doctor or trainer or anything. I see Gronk in the locker room, he’s working hard, doing what he’s trying to do. But when Gronk’s on the field, he’s probably one of the best tight ends in the NFL. It’s always great to have him out there and hopefully he will be.”

On Brady wanting to play until he’s 40:

“It wouldn’t surprise me. Knowing him the way I know him, I am sure he’s just focused on this year. You’re going to have to ask him that. The guy is in here, working hard, preparing to the fullest ability, taking care of his body. So you know that he’ll definitely have a shot to do it.”

On whether Belichick has watched his “Burgertyme” and “Smoothie Tyme” videos:

“You know, I’m sure he did. Because they kind came off his original, I think it was called the Bill PB&J [show] with the two pieces of bread in between with double layers of peanut butter. So I think we actually stole the concept from Bill Belichick.”

On what he remembers from the Patriots’ Week 12 win over the Broncos after being down 24-0 at the half:

“I remember we won. That was a good memory. That we won that one. No, but seriously — at halftime, we couldn’t have done anything worse than what we were putting on the field in the first half. We kind of just took it as, ‘We can’t get any worse than what we did so let’s go out there and just play each series the way we have to and just try to string a couple of consistent drives up,’ and we were able to do that. We played complimentary football in the second half, and came out with the win.”

Click here for video of his Q&A.

Read More: Bill Belichick, Darrelle Revis, Julian Edelman, Rob Gronkowski
Numbers game: Tom Brady can move up several all-time statistical lists in 2014 06.23.14 at 1:43 pm ET
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Quarterback Tom Brady is in the Top 10 of most of the NFL's major all-time statistical categories. (AP)

Quarterback Tom Brady is in the top 10 of most of the NFL’s major all-time statistical categories. (AP)

When it comes to covering the NFL, one of the greatest single resource tools is the statistical database at Pro Football Reference. And sparked by the discussion regarding whether or not Adrian Peterson has a legitimate shot at catching Emmitt Smith for the all-time rushing record, we decided to take a look at where Tom Brady stands — at least statistically — when it comes to measuring his individual numbers against some of the best in the game.

Career passing touchdowns — 359, fifth overall.
Like most of the rest of the categories, he’s a step or two behind Drew Brees. In this case, Brees has 363 career passing touchdowns, fourth on the list. However, Brady and Brees should be able to pass Dan Marino within the next two years, as the former Miami quarterback is third  all time with 420. Meanwhile, Brett Favre (508) and Peyton Manning (491) are at the top of the list.

Career passing yards — 49,149, seventh overall.
He’ll likely pass Warren Moon (49,325 career passing yards) relatively early in the season to move into sixth place. Brees is fifth overall at 51,081, and he will almost certainly add to that total in 2014. He and Brady should pass John Elway this year, as the former Broncos QB is fourth overall at 51,475 career yards. After that, it gets a little dicey — the top three are far removed from the rest of the field, at least at this point. Favre is first overall with 71,838 yards, Manning is No. 2 at 64,964, while Marino is third at 61,361. Again, once Manning, Brees and Brady are all done, they will all be in the Top 5 all time, provided they stay on their current pace.

Career passes completed — 4,178, fifth overall.
Brady is part of a top five of Favre (6,300, first), Manning (5,532, second), Marino (4,967, third) and Brees (4,481). Assuming that Brees is going to keep slinging it for at least the next three years, it appears unlikely Brady could pass him, but the Patriots quarterback could pass Marino between now and the end of his career, which would likely have him fourth when he decides to call it a career.

Career passing attempts — 6,586, good for ninth overall.
Brady figures to pass Vinny Testaverde for the eighth spot some time in the first month of the season, as he’s only 115 attempts behind Testaverde. In fact, he could rise a couple of notches on this list, as Drew Bledsoe (6,717, seventh) and Moon (6,823, fifth) are within reach this season. Of course, he probably won’t leapfrog Brees, who is sixth overall at 6,799. For comparisons sake, Favre (10,169) and Manning (8,452) are 1-2.

Career interceptions — 134, 70th overall
When you’re talking about the Brady/Brees/Manning group, one area where he’s better than his contemporaries (although you could say it’s because he’s attempted fewer passes) is interceptions. Among current active quarterbacks, Manning has 219 career picks (19th place on the all-time list), while Brees is second at 177 (38th in NFL history). Eli Manning is third with 171 (43rd on the all-time list), Jon Kitna is fourth with 165. Brady is seventh with 134 career interceptions, 70th overall. Again, by way of comparison, Favre is tops with 336 career interceptions, 59 more than George Blanda, who is second overall at 277.

Career completion percentage (minimum 1,500 pass attempts) — 63.4 percent, 11th overall
One statistical area that’s hard to define is career completion percentage. PFR has a minimum of 1,500 pass attempts needed to qualify, so you see quarterbacks on this list that might not necessarily be considered elite-level signal callers. However, it’s still a good indication of a quarterback’s decision making skills and his comfort level in the offense. At this point, Brady has a 63.4 percent career completion rate, which is 11th on the all-time list. Chad Pennington is the all-time leader with a 66 percent completion rate. Compared to the other lists — including Brady — nine of the top 12 quarterbacks on the list are still active, with Brees (65.9 percent, second), Aaron Rodgers (65.8 percent, third) and Manning (65.5 percent, fourth) rounding out the active quarterbacks who are currently in the top five.

Read More: aaron rodgers, Brett Favre, Chad Pennington, Dan Marino
Rex Ryan: Idea that Patriots got copy of Jets playbook ‘ridiculous’ 06.19.14 at 4:39 pm ET
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Rex Ryan said a story that intimated the Patriots got their hands on a Jets playbook is "ridiculous." (AP)

Rex Ryan said a story that intimated the Patriots got their hands on a Jets playbook is “ridiculous.” (AP)

Rex Ryan said Thursday the idea that the Patriots had gotten their hands on a Jets playbook was “ridiculous.”

The Jets coach was responding to a story in Monday Morning Quarterback where former New York assistant Mike Pettine said that during Wes Welker‘s 2012 wedding, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady had bragged to former Jets assistant Mike Smith — Welker’s college roommate — that New England “may or may not have had possession of a couple Jets defensive playbooks.”

That charge didn’t sit with with Ryan.

“No. 1, I think it’s disrespectful to New England to sit back and say that they did this,” the Jets coach said. “‘Because I can tell you, every single game that we’ve ever had with New England has been decided on the field. Nobody’s had a competitive advantage. And that’s a fact. So all that type of stuff, is ridiculous.”

Pettine said that Ryan — who “would give [Jets playbooks] out like candy,” according to Pettine — gave one to Alabama coach Nick Saban, a close friend of Belichick. Pettine told Ryan, “Don’t you know Saban and Bill are pretty good friends? I have a feeling it’s going to end up in New England.’”

However, Ryan wasn’t having any of it on Thursday.

“Every single game’s different. So when you go into my room … you’ll see every one of those playbooks. And if you flip [through] them, they’re a lot different each week. And it’s always gameplan-specific. So, to me, it’s ridiculous.

“But it sounds like everybody needs to talk to Pettine because apparently he’s got all the information,” he added.

For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.

Read More: Mike Pettine, Mike Smith, Rex Ryan, Tom Brady
Bill Belichick on report Patriots had Jets playbook: ‘Talk to Mike Pettine’ at 12:30 pm ET
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Mike Pettine will coach the Browns starting in 2014. (AP)

Mike Pettine will coach the Browns starting in 2014. (AP)

FOXBORO — Here we go again.

In the latest edition of Monday Morning Quarterback on SI.com, columnist Greg Bedard reports that new Browns head coach and former Jets defensive coordinator Mike Pettine believes that old copies of the Jets playbook, circa 2011, may have wound up in the hands of the Patriots.

“The initial playbook itself is actually quite thin, and that’€™s by design,” Pettine told Bedard. “€œI don’€™t put a lot of graduate-level information in it. We know in places like New England, it’€™s only a matter of time that they somehow mysteriously end up with our playbook.”

Pettine told Bedard that there was a story circulating that at Wes Welker‘€™s wedding in 2012, Tom Brady laughed with Jets outside linebackers coach Mike Smith (Welker’€™s college roommate at Texas Tech) that the Patriots “may or may not” have had possession of some Jets defensive playbooks.

“It didn’€™t shock me because Rex would give them out like candy anyway,”€ Pettine continued. “€œHe gave one out to [Alabama coach Nick] Saban and I was like, ‘€˜Don’€™t you know Saban and Bill [Belichick] are pretty good friends? I have a feeling it’€™s going to end up in New England.’ ”

Belichick, who told reporters he was allowing just three questions before leaving for the summer, was asked about the charges after Thursday’s final minicamp session. Belichick was specifically asked if he has ever had the Jets playbook at some point.

“[Go] talk to Mike Pettine. I don’t know,” Belichick offered.

Darrelle Revis played for Mike Pettine as recently as 2012, when he tore his ACL in September in a game against the Dolphins. Revis was also asked about the playbook charges after Thursday’s minicamp. He laughed and was somewhat more insightful when asked if he knew the Patriots may have had the playbook.

“No, I don’t know anything about that,” Revis said. “I don’t know. I don’t even know how to answer that. If they did, they did. If they didn’t, they didn’t. At that point, it really doesn’t matter. You still have to go out there and compete and go out there and win the game.”

Read More: Mike Pettine, Mike Smith, New England Patriots, New York Jets
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