|Fantasy Football: Week 13 starts, sits||11.30.13 at 8:23 am ET|
Welcome to the starts and sits for Week 13. I’ll be featuring better players than usual because there are no more bye concerns and most fantasy teams, especially those still alive, will be looking at better players when it comes to lineup decisions.
For those who have more questions than this article has answers for, you have two places to go. First, you can hit Rotobahn and consult our full lineup rankings, which will give you a ranking and a “skinny” on just about any player you might be considering in any league. Second, you can come back to WEEI.com tomorrow and participate in our Sunday morning chat where I will answer all of your lineup questions. You’ll find a link to the chat on the homepage in the “This Just In” section.
Tom Brady, Patriots at Texans
Just kidding, folks. This one is an ultra-obvious freebie — meant to do nothing but point out that Rotobahn had the future Hall of Famer on our trade-for list when others were running for cover. For those who stuck with Brady … or dealt for him, enjoy the next few weeks. He’s a QB1, period.
Josh McCown, Bears at Vikings
How often do we recommend a backup quarterback playing on the road? Not that often, but McCown has been very good so far in terms of fantasy production and this matchup is very solid. Start McCown in any format this week and you are in pretty good shape.
Colin Kaepernick, 49ers vs. Rams
Two things factor into the decision to make CK a start. First, he looked much better last week. Second, he gets Michael Crabtree back this week. The Rams are not an easy mark, but they can be had, especially when on the road, and this one is at Frisco.
Andrew Luck, Colts vs. Titans
He may not inspire the kind of confidence that he did a few weeks back, but a lot of it is perception. Luck is still a very sound fantasy play in 12-team leagues and has produced good fantasy numbers in games that were pretty ugly from the Colts’ perspective. He was serviceable against the Titans on the road in Week 11 and he should be able to handle them this week in Indianapolis.
Andy Dalton, Bengals at Chargers
He’s been a strong option for most of the season and he gets a decent road matchup here. We expect the Bengals to be ready after having an extra week to prepare. Dalton can start for you in any format this week. He always has nice scoring potential due to the quality of the weapons around him.
Carson Palmer, Cardinals at Eagles
The matchup is mediocre, but he’s playing well and has tons of good places to throw the football in Bruce Arians’ offense. The Eagles are playing well, but they will have trouble matching up with Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd. Palmer can help you in 12-team leagues this week.
Brandon Weeden, Browns vs. Jaguars
Here’s an option for those searching for an answer in a deep league. Weeden is not a great start, but he may be the best thing on waiver wires in 12-team formats and he could have a solid day at home vs. the Jaguars. Weeden can be your QB this week if you are hurting and he might just surprise you if he can get Josh Gordon going and hit on a few deep balls.
Mike Glennon, Bucs at Panthers
The rookie has been pretty good so far, but he lacks the experience and the firepower to play against the Panthers defense on the road in a hostile environment. Look elsewhere if you can.
|Tom Brady on JJ Watt: ‘He’s been pretty remarkable’||11.29.13 at 10:22 am ET|
FOXBORO — Despite the fact that the Texans are in the throes of a miserable nine-game losing skid, the continued high level of play from defensive lineman J.J. Watt offers a sizable beacon of hope for Houston.
The reigning Defensive Player of the Year, Watt is a transformative presence, capable of ruining an afternoon for a quarterback. Through 11 games, Pro Football Focus has him credited with 10 sacks (tied for the top spot among all 3-4 defensive ends), 24 quarterback hits (best at his position) and 26 quarterback hurries (fifth at his position).
The fiery Watt, who wears his emotions on his sleeve, acknowledged it’s been a difficult season for the Texans, a team many anticipated would be in the thick of the playoff chase after reaching the postseason in 2012 but are 2-9 and playing for next year.
“Obviously, [we] came into the year with very high expectations. [We’ve] been on obviously an extremely rough stretch here. It’s been tough, to say the least,” Watt said. “We have guys who have a lot of pride in their play and take a lot of pride in their game, so we’re going out there and we’re playing as hard as we can play, and obviously we’re trying to get a win. It’s been far too long since we’ve had a win.”
For its part, the Houston defense has posted some good numbers to this point in the season. In their 11 games, only four passers have gone over 200 yards against Houston (Andrew Luck tops the lost with 271 passing yards), and the Texans are in the Top 10 in several major passing defense categories, including total passing yards allowed (first, 1,890), completion percentage against (seventh at 58.1) and yards per attempt (eighth, 6.7).
At the same time, the Texans have yielded an average of 26.3 points per game, tied for the sixth-highest total in the NFL entering the weekend.
Read the rest of this entry »
|Tom Brady: ‘Right now is when we say football season starts’||11.27.13 at 4:40 pm ET|
FOXBORO — In the NFL, Thanksgiving not only means turkey, stuffing, pumpkin pie and a tripleheader of football. It also signals the real start of separation season, when the elite teams really start to distance themselves from the rest of the pack when it comes to the race to the postseason.
Quarterback Tom Brady said Wednesday that while everything the Patriots have accomplished to this point is nice — the 8-3 mark and first place in the AFC East — the work to ultimately get you to where you want to be starts this week.
“Right now is when we say football season starts,” he said. “The mental toughness, the discipline, the attitude, the work ethic, this is when it starts to show up. Those are intangibles that you don’t really see in September and August when things are fresh and everyone is hopeful.
“Now you really see where you’re at and you see how you match up against other teams. You see where their mental toughness is at. You see if they’re going to cash in, you see how hard they’re going to play. I think the mark of our team is we’ve always tried to make that something that we’ve always felt is a real strength of ours. We have to go out there and prove it and earn it.”
This week, that process includes a game against the Texans, a team that has lost its last nine games to fall to 2-9 on the season. Despite the record — tied for the worst mark in the league through the first 11 games of the season — Brady was quick to remind the media that Houston still possesses the best pass defense in the league, and “probably [has] the best front we’ve faced all season.”
“We’re not even concerned about the record,” said Brady, who was named the AFC Offensive Player of the Week on Wednesday. “You look at what they can do defensively and the kind of playmakers they have. They’re the highest rated defense against the pass and one of the highest, if not the highest rated defense in the league. Defensively, they’re playing pretty good. They have probably the best front we’ve faced all season and good linebackers and some playmakers in the secondary. We have a big challenge.
“Like I said, anything that’s happened for them this season doesn’t matter and anything that’s happened for us makes no difference either. They’ve lost some close games, we’ve pulled out some close games. I think that’s the big difference. It could just as easily go the other way. We’ve found ways to win and we have to try to find a way to win this week.”
Brad added: “We were in here today, we had a good practice, and that’s a good way to start. Our whole season is ahead of us. I think that’s the most important thing — no one really cares what’s been done to this point. We have to go out there and try to finally play good for 60 minutes, if we can get to that.”
Here are some more highlights of Brady’s Wednesday afternoon press conference:
|Tom Brady, Chandler Jones capture AFC honors||at 10:11 am ET|
FOXBORO — Wednesday was a good day in the awards department for the Patriots: Tom Brady was named AFC Offensive Player of the Week, while Chandler Jones was named AFC Defensive Player of the Month.
Brady completed 34-of-50 passes for 344 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions for a 107.4 passer rating against Denver. The 344 yards are Brady’s second-highest total in 2013, trailing only his 432-yard performance against Pittsburgh on Nov. 3. Brady totaled 1,072 passing yards and eight touchdowns in his three November games, averaging 357 yards and 2.7 touchdowns per game.
Jones registered 16 total tackles and four sacks in the team’s three November games to push his season total to 10 ½ sacks. The Patriots have now had a player finish with 10 or more sacks in a season 15 times. Jones has 16 ½ sacks (6 in 2012 and 10 ½ in 2013) in his first two NFL seasons, which ranks third in team history for most sacks in a player’s first two seasons. Garin Veris had 21 and Chris Slade had 18 ½.
For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.
|Jason Cole on M&M: ‘[Tom] Brady outplayed [Peyton Manning] by a large margin’ on Sunday||11.26.13 at 3:40 pm ET|
Yahoo! Sports’ Jason Cole joined Mut & Merloni on Tuesday afternoon to discuss the play of Tom Brady and Peyton Manning in New England’s 34-31 victory over Denver on Sunday night, as well as the status of the AFC and Super Bowl XLVIII.
One of the top story lines of Sunday’s game was, of course, the matchup between Brady and Manning. Brady once again seemed to have the advantage in the contest, as he finished the night with three touchdown passes, a 107.4 quarterback rating and the win, while Manning only managed 150 passing yards with two touchdowns, one interception and a 70.4 QBR.
“I thought Brady outplayed him by a large margin, and I thought Peyton looked really uncomfortable, and not because he was getting rushed,” Cole said. “He just didn’t look comfortable throwing the ball, he didn’t throw with much authority. I think that because of the way New England disrupted his receivers, similar to what they did against New Orleans earlier this season, he never had his timing down, and perhaps that’s because they had to throw so little in the first half and didn’t throw much in the third quarter.”
Added Cole: “[Manning] just never seemed to get into a groove, so the doubts about him in big games, particularly cold-weather big games, persists. He’s not answered that, and makes me really concerned about [Denver] going in the playoffs.”
While the Broncos (9-2) and Patriots (8-3) are in line for the top two seeds in the AFC at the moment, the Chiefs (9-2) are a worthy competitor in the conference, despite losing two straight games to Denver and San Diego.
“Kansas City, when they are healthy, in a playoff situation [can be a threat]. That’s similar to what we saw on Sunday night between the Patriots and the Broncos, which is if you allow defenses to bump receivers and knock them off their routes, hold them up at the line, I think that helps the defense so much, and I think Kansas City will be able to do more of that when they get into the postseason,” Cole said. “To me, they have a chance to get their defense back in line and be competitive in the postseason. But that’s the only other team, I think, that can challenge New England or Denver at this point and time.”
|WEEI NFL Power Rankings, Week 13: Patriots top dogs in AFC||at 12:36 pm ET|
The Patriots are the new power team in the AFC as they have surpassed the Broncos for the first time this year in the WEEI NFL Power Rankings. Sunday night’s stunning comeback was good enough to catapult New England from seventh to fourth and drop Denver from second to fifth.
In the NFC, the scene is set for the two top teams to clash on Monday night. The Seahawks have enjoyed the top spot for quite some time, but the Saints, up a spot this week to No. 2, are a real threat with their prolific offense. Monday night’s outcome may not only determine who gets home-field advantage in the playoffs, but ultimately who represents the NFC in the Super Bowl.
At the bottom of the barrel, the Jaguars finally clawed their way out of the most miserable position. The good news for the Texans, our new bottom-feeder, is that they can only go up from here. Houston has plunged week after week after starting the season at No. 7.
1. (1) Seahawks (10-1) — Seattle should be solely focusing on its NFC clash with the Saints, but news that cornerbacks Walter Thurmond and Brandon Browner are facing suspensions has changed that plan.
2. (3) Saints (9-2) — The most important game of the year for the Saints is Monday in Seattle. New Orleans wants to play in the comfort of its dome in the postseason. Winning two games in Seattle in the same year doesn’t seem likely.
3. (4) Panthers (8-3) — We’ve seen many qualities of a Super Bowl-caliber team during the Panthers’ current seven game win streak. The ability to close out tight games is a trait we see year after year from Super Bowl champions during the regular season.
4. (7) Patriots (8-3) — No franchise executes the “next man up” philosophy better than New England. Whether it’s Jerod Mayo, Vince Wilfork, Aaron Hernandez or Wes Welker, the Patriots continue to find a way to win more than they lose.
5. (2) Broncos (9-2) — It’s clear the formula to beating the Broncos is pressuring Peyton Manning. The veteran QB was 0-for-6 with an interception when faced with pressure from Patriots defenders. For the first time this season, Denver doesn’t look like the clear favorite in the AFC.
|Bill Belichick on S&H: ‘I don’t think [Tom Brady] is mentally affected by the conditions’||at 10:41 am ET|
Patriots coach Bill Belichick joined Salk & Holley on Monday afternoon to discuss New England’s thrilling 34-31 comeback victory against the Broncos, as well as the performance of Tom Brady in cold-weather conditions and Stevan Ridley‘s fumbling issues.
The Patriots got off to a rough start in Sunday night’s game, as New England trailed 24-0 at halftime after fumbling the ball away three times.
“The good things that we were doing were overwritten by the bad things that were much worse than the good things,” Belichick said. “We just didn’t play very consistently in any phase of the game. … I was a lot more disappointed in the way we played in the first half in Carolina than I was [Sunday], even though we had plenty of problems [Sunday], but we just made mistakes that really hurt ourselves that I felt like we could overcome if we just got those straightened out.”
New England responded in the second half, outscoring Denver by a 31-7 margin to force the game to overtime. At the start of the extra 15 minutes of play, the Patriots won the coin toss but decided to give the ball to the Broncos and take the wind. It was a controversial call for Belichick, as he was giving the ball to a high-powered Denver offense that currently ranks first in the NFL in yards per game (451.5) and points per game (39.0).
“I met with the captains for a couple of seconds before they went out there and explained to them what we wanted to do,” Belichick said. “There were a couple of questions to make sure that it was right, but I think we got it right. … I just feel like as head coach, you’ve got to do what you feel is best for your football team. It doesn’t always work out the way you want it to, and there’s criticism when it doesn’t. I understand that.”
Brady was superb in the game, throwing for 344 yards and three touchdowns despite playing in one of the coldest games at Foxboro in years. Brady has excelled in cold-weather conditions throughout his career, as he boasts a 24-5 record with a 62.7 completion percentage in outdoor games with below-freezing temperatures.
“No. 1, he’s mentally tough,” Belichick said. I don’t think he’s affected by the conditions from a mental standpoint. No. 2, he has big hands. He can grip the ball. His hands aren’t small. It doesn’t slide off. He can get around the ball, and No. 3, he throws a tight spiral. His ball is very tight, always has been. … Of course, the wind is going to affect any throw, but it doesn’t affect a tight spiral like it does the balls that aren’t tight. … I don’t think he is mentally affected by the conditions.”
Despite the win, there is concern over the play of Ridley, who fumbled during New England’s first drive on Sunday, allowing Von Miller to scoop up the loose ball and return it 60 yards for a Denver touchdown. Despite his obvious talents, Ridley has struggled mightily with protecting the ball, as he’s lost seven fumbles since the end of the 2011 season.
“I don’t think any of our backs have an issue that I would say would prevent them from being a productive player,” Belichick said. “Look, there are some plays that happen in football that are plays that happen in football. Then there are other plays that are caused by a lack of discipline, a lack of technique, just carelessness. Those are the ones we have to eliminate.”
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