Articles By Mark Ross

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The AFC North race takes center stage this afternoon when the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals get together on CBS. The Bengals (8-3-1) currently lead the NFL’s most competitive division, with the Steelers (7-5) falling in between the Ravens and Browns as it relates to playoff pecking order.

 

Pittsburgh Steelers at Cincinnati Bengals

 

Kickoff: 1 p.m. ET

TV Channel: CBS

Spread: Cincinnati -3.5

 

As the AFC playoff picture stands right now, Cincinnati would be the only team in. Baltimore, Pittsburgh, and Cleveland are part of a six-pack of 7-5 teams currently jockeying for one Wild Card berth, which is why divisional matchups like this will be so critical from here out.

 

This is the first of two Bengals vs. Steelers matchups between now and the end of the regular season. And while the Week 17 return date in Pittsburgh could end up being a winner-take-all situation, this game is just as important. A win would not only give the Bengals some breathing room between them and potentially the rest of the division, it also would give the Steelers a loss they can ill afford.

 

Since getting manhandled by Cleveland 24-3 at home in Week 10, Cincinnati has won three in a row, all on the road. Improved defensive play (12.0 ppg, 280.3 ypg) has been a factor during this streak, as has the return of two key offensive weapons (A.J. Green and Giovani Bernard) from injury.

 

Offense has been Pittsburgh’s calling card this season, as the Steelers rank third in the league in yards (417.3) and eighth in points (26.7) per game. Ben Roethlisberger, Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown have been putting up huge numbers, but the problem has been the defense has given up its fair share too. Last week, Drew Brees threw five touchdown passes as New Orleans piled up nearly 400 yards in its 35-32 victory in the Steel City.

 

While Pittsburgh’s offense vs. Cincinnati’s defense is probably the key matchup, don’t overlook the Bengals’ offense. With Green and Bernard back in the fold, Andy Dalton has plenty of weapons at his disposal and this Steelers defense is not exactly the Steel Curtain of old.

 

The AFC North is the only division in the NFL with four winning teams, but Cincinnati is the team that’s been most consistent. The Bengals’ defense appears to be rounding into form and I think it will be the difference in what should be a typical AFC North matchup – physical, intense and likely to come down to the wire.

 

Prediction: Cincinnati 27, Pittsburgh 24
Teaser:
Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Cincinnati Bengals Preview and Prediction
Post date: Sunday, December 7, 2014 - 09:00
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It’s only Week 14, but in many ways this matchup between the Baltimore Ravens and Miami Dolphins on CBS may as well be viewed as a playoff-elimination game in the AFC. The Dolphins and Ravens both enter today’s game at 7-5, part of a group of six teams with the same record. Miami is currently the leader of this pack, thanks to a series of tiebreakers. With so many teams bunched together, neither Miami nor Baltimore can afford a loss at this point, especially considering neither is leading their respective division.

 

Baltimore Ravens at Miami Dolphins

 

Kickoff: 1 p.m. ET

TV Channel: CBS

Spread: Miami -2.5

 

Baltimore is looking to regroup following last week’s 34-33 home loss to San Diego. John Harbaugh’s Ravens led by 10 with 6:13 to go in the fourth quarter, but the Chargers scored the game-winning touchdown with just 38 seconds left. Miami on the other hand needed a 10-point fourth quarter comeback of its own to avoid disaster Monday night in the Big Apple against the Jets. Even though the Jets ran roughshod over the Dolphins (277 yards rushing), Caleb Sturgis’ 26-yard field goal with 1:57 on the clock saved Joe Philbin’s team from an embarrassing loss that could have basically wrecked Miami’s playoff aspirations.

 

The key to this game may be how each offense attacks the other’s perceived weak spot on defense. For Baltimore this means taking advantage of a Miami run defense that’s giving up nearly 120 yards per game. Justin Forsett has been a revelation for the Ravens this season, already over 1,000 yards rushing and leading all running backs with an average of 5.6 yards per carry. Forsett is dealing with a knee issue, but he said he expects to play so he can get a shot at a defense that has surrendered 478 yards on the ground in its last two games.

 

Baltimore’s recent troubles on defense have come through the air. The Ravens gave up 420 yards passing and three touchdowns to Drew Brees two weeks ago, followed by 383 yards and three scores to Philip Rivers. Miami’s not known for throwing the ball all over the field, but Ryan Tannehill has been extremely efficient lately. He has completed at least 70 percent of his passes in each of the past five games. Last week also marked the first game all season in which Tannehill didn’t throw at least one touchdown pass.

 

The Dolphins have been pretty tough at home this season, having already defeated the Patriots and shutting out the Chargers while losing to the Packers on a last-second touchdown pass by Aaron Rodgers. The Ravens have experienced some highs (beating the Saints) and lows (losing 43-23 to the Steelers) on the road and their passing game has been inconsistent, while the defense has had to deal with the occasional breakdown or lapse in execution.

 

Baltimore probably needs this win more considering it is part of the highly competitive AFC North, but Miami has been more consistent over the past few months. This game will be close, but Tannehill makes enough plays in the second half and a late defensive stop will be enough to help the Dolphins maintain possession of a Wild Card berth, for at least one more week.

 

Prediction: Miami 24, Baltimore 20
Teaser:
Baltimore Ravens vs. Miami Dolphins Preview and Prediction
Post date: Sunday, December 7, 2014 - 09:00
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy Football, injury updates, NFL, Fantasy, News
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It’s Week 14, which means the fantasy playoffs are either here already or will begin soon. Everyone needs their top guys available, but that may not be the case in Baltimore’s backfield.

 

Arian Foster, RB, Houston Texans at Jacksonville Jaguars

Probable – Groin
Foster returned last Sunday after missing two games because of a groin injury. He finished with 105 total yards and a touchdown against the Titans. Foster was limited in practice at the start of the week, but he was a full go on Friday and is listed as Probable. Foster has another appealing matchup today, against a Jacksonville defense that has given up the sixth-most fantasy points to RBs, which is why he checks in at No. 1 on our Week 14 RB rankings.

 

Justin Forsett, RB, Baltimore Ravens at Miami Dolphins

Questionable – Knee
Forsett injured his knee last week and wasn’t able to practice until Friday, and even then he was limited. The lack of practice time is concerning, but Forsett has said he’s confident he will be able to play. He’s listed as Questionable, but it looks like Forsett may end up being a game-time decision. Forsett is fourth in the league in rushing, so production hasn’t been a question. If he plays, Forsett must be started. If he’s unable to go, however, Bernard Pierce would likely replace Forsett in the starting lineup. Miami has given up some big rushing totals lately, so Forsett’s status is definitely worth keeping an eye on leading up to kickoff (1 p.m. ET).

 
Reggie Bush, RBs, Detroit Lions vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Probable – Ankle
Bush hasn’t played since Week 10, but after being a full practice participant this week, he’s listed as Probable. Bush’s season has been a disappointment, whether it’s been the lack of production or different injuries. Head coach Jim Caldwell called Bush the Lions’ starting running back on Thursday, but Joique Bell has been more productive and consistent by far and I don’t expect that to change much with Bush’s return. Bush has scored one touchdown and is averaging 3.6 yards per carry when he’s been on the field. Yes, he can be effective as a receiver, but I have a hard time endorsing Bush even as a flex this week. Bell is the Lions back I would want to have, as he’s ranked inside our top 15 RBs this week.

 

Already Ruled Out:

 

DeAngelo Williams, RB, Carolina Panthers – Williams broke a bone in his hand last week and he’s already been ruled out for today’s game against the Saints. Jonathan Stewart will get the start and with touches likely to be less of a concern, he’s worthy of at least flex consideration. Game situation/circumstances, as well as the presence of Cam Newton, Mike Tolbert and Fozzy Whitaker are still factors to consider, but this is one instance where it may be worth it to take a flyer on Stewart.

Teaser:
Week 14 Fantasy Football Injury Updates: Justin Forsett, Arian Foster, Reggie Bush, DeAngelo Williams
Post date: Sunday, December 7, 2014 - 06:30
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The Giants could be a man down in Week 14 while Cleveland’s backfield may not be operating at full strength either. Here’s the latest on those situations as well as the Saints and Vikings.

 

Rashad Jennings, RB, New York Giants vs. Tennessee Titans

Questionable – Knee
Jennings injured his ankle last week, and it’s still bother him. He didn’t practice at all on Wednesday or Thursday and was limited on Friday. He’s officially Questionable, which puts his chances at 50/50, but the final decision probably won’t be made until prior to kickoff (1 p.m. ET). If Jennings can’t go, Andre Williams would get the start. Only one other team has given up more fantasy points to RBs this season than the Titans, so whether it’s Jennings or Williams, whoever gets the call could be in store for a truly Giant afternoon. If you do have Jennings, however, I would certainly have a back-up plan in place.

 

Isaiah Crowell, RB, Cleveland Browns vs. Indianapolis Colts

Questionable – Hip
Crowell missed Wednesday’s practice and was limited on Thursday and Friday because of a hip injury. He’s listed as Questionable, but all signs seem to point towards him playing against the Colts. The rookie has emerged as the Browns’ most productive rusher, as seven of his 107 carries have resulted in touchdowns. Crowell, like most rookies, has been up-and-down at times and also has had some ball security issues, but he’s been getting the call fairly consistently over Terrance West. As long as Crowell plays, he should make for a viable RB2 this week.

 

Travaris Cadet, Mark Ingram and Khiry Robinson, RBs, New Orleans Saints vs. Carolina Panthers

Probable – Hamstring; Probable – Shoulder; Probable – Forearm
The Saints’ backfield should be back to full strength today with Robinson on track to return after missing the past six games. Cadet and Ingram also are listed as Probable, while Pierre Thomas doesn’t even appear on this week’s injury report. Last week Ingram and Thomas did the heavy lifting, getting all of the carries while combining for 143 yards on the ground. Even with Robinson returning, I don’t really expect the pecking order to change much. Ingram is a must-start, while Thomas is flex-worthy. I don’t think Cadet or Robinson will see enough touches to make much of an impact, at least fantasy-wise.

 

Already Ruled Out:

 

Jerick McKinnon, RBs, Minnesota Vikings – On Saturday, the Vikings put McKinnon on injured reserve because of a back injury. What happens now with the Vikings’ backfield is really anyone’s guess. Matt Asiata led the way with 14 carries last week, but Ben Tate and Joe Banyard got involved as well and the trio combined for 75 yards rushing (3.6 ypc) and five receiving (all Asiata). That’s barely flex production as a group, let alone an individual RB, so this is a backfield committee you probably don’t want to rely on this week.

Teaser:
Fantasy Football Week 14 Injury Updates: Isaiah Crowell, Rashad Jennings, Mark Ingram, Jerick McKinnon
Post date: Sunday, December 7, 2014 - 06:30
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy Football, injury updates, NFL, Fantasy, News
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Andre Ellington has already been ruled out for Week 14, but he’s not the only running back on the injury report. Here are the other ailing RBs you need to know about before the late afternoon games get started.

 

Marshawn Lynch, RB, Seattle Seahawks at Philadelphia Eagles

Probable – Back
Lynch is on the injury report, but I wouldn’t worry too much about it. He was held out of Wednesday’s practice for rest, eased back into things on Thursday and was a full go on Friday. He’s listed as Probable and is a must-start against an Eagles defense that’s among the top 10 in fantasy points allowed to opposing RBs. Lynch has three 100-yard efforts over his last four games and seems to have gotten stronger as the season has worn on.

 

Latavius Murray, RB, Oakland Raiders vs. San Francisco 49ers

Probable – Concussion
After missing last week, Murray was a full participant in practice both Thursday and Friday. He has passed the concussion protocols, is listed as Probable and expected to get the start this afternoon. Even though he gained 112 yards on just four carries the last time he was on the field, don’t expect Murray to pick up where he left off. For one, interim head coach Tony Sparano has already made a point to say that Murray will not be used as a workhorse the rest of the way, which means Darren McFadden, Maurice Jones-Drew and Marcel Reece could impact his touches. Secondly, the 49ers have done a pretty good job against RBs and it’s not like the Raiders have a lot of other offensive weapons for defenses to worry about. I have no problem with plugging Murray in and seeing what he can do, but he’s probably best viewed as a flex with upside this week.

 

Shane Vereen, RB, New England Patriots at San Diego Chargers

Questionable – Ankle
Vereen was limited in practice because of an ankle injury and he’s listed as Questionable. However, these are the Patriots we are talking about, as Vereen is one of 10 who are designated as being Questionable. There doesn’t appear to be any real danger of Vereen missing this game, but it’s not like running backs and Bill Belichick are a fantasy match made in heaven in the first place. Don’t forget that since Jonas Gray ran for 201 yards against the Colts in Week 11 he’s had one carry (for four yards). LeGarrette Blount rejoined the team a few weeks ago and since his return he’s been the No. 1 option. Vereen is a legitimate pass-catching threat, but he’s scored a total of four touchdowns and is averaging just over 10 touches per game. Vereen was already more suited for flex duty to begin with, so it’s just a matter of whether you think he will be limited tonight against the Chargers.

 

Carlos Hyde, RB, San Francisco 49ers at Oakland Raiders

Probable – Shoulder
Hyde was limited in practice by a shoulder injury, but he’s listed as Probable so he should play. The rookie has gotten opportunities (75 att.) and he leads the team with four rushing touchdowns, but he’s averaging just 3.7 yards per carry and still deferring to Frank Gore. The matchup against the Raiders is appealing, but Hyde is nothing more than a flex possibility this week.

 
Already Ruled Out:

 

Andre Ellington, RB, Arizona Cardinals – Ellington hasn’t been healthy all season, as he’s dealt with a tendon issue in his foot since Week 1. But he also hadn’t missed any games, until now. Ellington left last week’s game against Atlanta with a hip pointer. It’s bad enough that he wasn’t able to practice, which combined with his other bumps and bruises led to the team ruling him out for today. Stepfan Taylor will get the start in Ellington’s place, but Marion Grice and possibly even Robert Hughes figure to be involved as well. Even though Ellington is a must-start RB, the same can’t be said for Taylor. If you have Ellington and need a replacement, Taylor will suffice, just be sure to temper your expectations.

 

Montee Ball and Ronnie Hillman, RBs, Denver Broncos – Still no practice for either Ball (groin) or Hillman (foot), so this will be a third straight game missed for the former and No. 4 for the latter. The good news for the Broncos is that C.J. Anderson has taken the job and run with it, to the tune of 335 yards over the last two games. Even against a tough Buffalo defense, Anderson still ranks among our top 10 RBs this week.

Teaser:
Week 14 Fantasy Football Injury Updates: Andre Ellington, Marshawn Lynch, Latavius Murray, Shane Vereen
Post date: Sunday, December 7, 2014 - 06:30
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy Football, injury updates, NFL, Fantasy, News
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Plenty of recognizable wide receivers appear on the Week 14 injury report. Which ones can you count on and which ones may not play? Have no fear, Athlon Sports has got these key targets covered.

 

Calvin Johnson, WR, Detroit Lions vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Probable – Ankle
Nothing to see or be worried about here. Johnson was limited on Wednesday more out of precaution than anything. He was a full go on Thursday and Friday and is listed as Probable. Johnson was in vintage Megatron form (11-146-2) last week against Chicago and he’s ranked among our top 5 WRs this week.

 
A.J. Green, WR, Cincinnati Bengals vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

Probable – Thigh
Green missed three games earlier this season because of a toe injury, but this time it’s a thigh issue giving him some problems. He was limited in practice Wednesday and Thursday, but was a full go on Friday. He’s listed as Probable, so you can pretty much count on him being out there. Green has a favorable matchup against a Steelers secondary that has struggled at times. Green is a must-start WR1, as he has scored at least 14.7 fantasy points in each of his past three games.

 

DeSean Jackson, WR, Washington Redskins vs. St. Louis Rams

Questionable – Shin
Jackson wasn’t able to practice because of a shin contusion, so his Questionable designation may be wishful thinking. The Redskins are going to give Jackson every opportunity to play, which means he will probably end up being a game-time decision. Jackson has been a boom-or-bust type of player this season and Colt McCoy doesn’t have the strongest arm, so it's probably best to leave DJax on your bench this week.

 

Kendall Wright, WR, Tennessee Titans vs. New York Giants

Questionable – Hand
The same week the Titans put Justin Hunter on injured reserve with a lacerated spleen, Wright cracked a bone in his right hand during practice on Wednesday. He wasn’t able to go Thursday or Friday, so his Questionable designation should be taken seriously. Wright’s production has been disappointing, so you have to wonder how effective he can be if he does end up playing. Unless you don’t have another option, I wouldn’t rely on Wright this week.

 
T.Y. Hilton, WR, Indianapolis Colts at Cleveland Browns

Probable – Hamstring
Hilton is dealing with a hamstring issue, but it doesn’t appear to be too serious. He was limited in practice on Wednesday, but a full participant both Thursday and Friday. He’s listed as Probable, so Hilton should be safe to employ. Hilton has scored at least 13.5 fantasy points in eight of his last nine games, one of the reasons why he’s been a top-10 fantasy WR this season. Hilton falls just outside of the top 10 in this week’s WR rankings, even with the prospect of being matched up against shutdown cornerback Joe Haden this afternoon.

 

Brian Hartline and Mike Wallace, WRs, Miami Dolphins vs. Baltimore Ravens

Probable – Knee; Probable – Chest
Hartline joins Wallace on the injury report, but both are Probable and expected to play. Hartline hurt his knee last week and was limited some in practice, but the bigger concern is that rookie Jarvis Landry has passed Hartline in the pecking order. Wallace continues to post solid numbers, making him a reliable and safe WR2. Hartline doesn’t really register on the fantasy radar at this point.

 

Torrey Smith, WR, Baltimore Ravens at Miami Dolphins

Probable – Knee
Smith didn’t practice at all on Wednesday or Thursday, but he’s still listed as Probable, so it looks like the coaching staff isn’t too concerned about his knee. Torrey has outpaced teammate Steve as the more productive Smith for the Ravens over the past month, and he should be safe to utilize as a WR2/3.

Teaser:
Fantasy Football Week 14 Injury Updates: A.J. Green, Calvin Johnson, DeSean Jackson, Kendall Wright
Post date: Sunday, December 7, 2014 - 06:30
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It’s Week 14, which means every game really counts from here out in both the NFL and fantasy. Between later this afternoon, tonight and tomorrow there are six games that need to be considered before setting your lineup. Here are some wide receiver injuries in those games that you really need to pay attention to.

 

Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Arizona Cardinals vs. Kansas City Chiefs

Questionable – Knee
The good news is that Fitzgerald was able to increase his practice participation and was out there for at least a little bit every day. The bad news is that while he’s listed as Questionable, head coach Bruce Arians said on Friday that Fitzgerald still isn’t 100 percent and will be a game-time decision once again. Arizona is struggling right now and the Cardinals’ offense will be without running back Andre Ellington. With the late kickoff and the uncertainty surrounding Fitzgerald’s status, I would just consider him as being Out and move on.

 

Demaryius Thomas, WR, Denver Broncos vs. Buffalo Bills

Probable – Ankle
The Broncos already had one hobbled Thomas (Julius, ankle), but got another scare when Demaryius got his ankle stepped on by a teammate during Wednesday’s practice. He sat out Thursday, but was back on the field Friday. That information along with his Probable designation seems to signal that he will play against the Bills. Thomas hasn’t gone over 100 yards receiving in either of his past two games, but he has caught four touchdown passes during this span, cementing his status as an elite WR1.

 

Harry Douglas and Roddy White, WRs, Atlanta Falcons at Green Bay Packers (Mon.)

Probable – Foot; Questionable – Ankle
Douglas missed four games earlier this season with a foot injury. It continues to limit him in practice, but that’s more precautionary than anything. Douglas is Probable, all but assuring he will play. The same can’t be said for White, who was Questionable last week and ended up not playing after he was unable to practice. Along those lines, White was a limited participant on Saturday and afterwards he said he was confident he would be able to go on Monday night. He’s still Questionable, but it certainly sounds like White’s got a much better chance of playing this week compared to last. But can you wait until Monday night to find out? White has picked things up lately (3 TDs over his past five games), but Douglas also fared pretty well (9 rec. 116 yds.) last week in White’s absence. Julio Jones is the top dog when it comes to Atlanta’s wide receivers, but White’s capable of putting up WR2 production of his own. Douglas’ value is tied directly to whether White plays or not, but there’s plenty of risk when it comes to either this week because of the timing (play on Monday night) and uncertainty surrounding White’s status.

 

Julian Edelman and Brandon LaFell, WRs, New England Patriots at San Diego Chargers

Questionable – Thigh; Questionable – Shoulder
Both Edelman and LaFell were limited in practice this week and even though both are Questionable, they are expected to play tonight. Rob Gronkowski is the No. 1 option in the Patriots’ passing game, but Tom Brady has not been afraid to throw the ball Edelman’s or LaFell’s way either. Edelman has been more the PPR guy (team-high 77 rec.) while LaFell has made the most of his opportunities (7 TDs). With Gronk getting the majority of the looks, Edelman and LaFell are probably best if employed as WR3/flex options, with each having the potential of putting up bigger numbers.

 

Sammy Watkins and Robert Woods, WRs, Buffalo Bills at Denver Broncos

Probable – Hip; Probable – Ankle
Watkins suffered a hip injury last week and was limited by it in in practice. It’s the same story for Woods, except he’s dealing with an ankle injury. It looks like it will be a happy ending for both (and their fantasy owners), however, as each is listed as Probable. Denver’s defense has done a decent job against WRs this season, but the possibility of Buffalo being forced to throw because of the game situation is tempting enough to recommend finding a way to get both Watkins and Woods into the starting lineup. Both are more WR3/flex options, but each is capable of doing more.

 
Michael Crabtree, WR, San Francisco 49ers at Oakland Raiders

Probable – Knee
It has been a disappointing season for Crabtree, who has four touchdown receptions and is averaging only 11.3 yards per catch. Injuries have been somewhat to blame and he’s now dealing with a knee issue that limited his practice participation Wednesday and Thursday. He was a full go on Friday and is listed as Probable, but that doesn’t mean you should have Crabtree in your starting lineup. Consider this: He’s reached double-digits in fantasy points just twice over his last nine games.

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Week 14 Fantasy Football Injury Updates: Demaryius Thomas, Larry Fitzgerald, Roddy White, Sammy Watkins
Post date: Sunday, December 7, 2014 - 06:30
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Julius Thomas isn’t the only elite tight end on the Week 14 injury report. Will the Broncos get their other Thomas back today and what’s the TE situation for the Panthers, Colts and Browns? Keep reading and you’ll find out.

 

Greg Olsen, TE, Carolina Panthers at New Orleans Saints

Questionable – Knee
Olsen was limited when he did practice this week and is listed as Questionable, but there doesn’t appear to be any major concern regarding his availability. He should play and if he does, Olsen needs to be in your lineup. Just double-check before kickoff (1 p.m. ET) and make sure the No. 4 fantasy TE this season is indeed active.

 
Julius Thomas, TE, Denver Broncos vs. Buffalo Bills

Questionable – Ankle
This week Thomas was able to practice on a limited basis all three days, so it looks like he’s making progress. Will it be enough for him to get back out there this afternoon? That remains to be seen, but Thomas has said he’s “close.” He’s officially Questionable and most likely is going to be a game-time decision yet again, so it’s a matter of how much risk are you willing to take considering the late (4:05 p.m. ET) kickoff. We ranked Thomas third this week, for what that’s worth.

 

Dwayne Allen, TE, Indianapolis Colts at Cleveland Browns

Probable – Ankle
After missing the past two games, Allen is on track to return today. He was a full participant in practice and is listed as Probable. How many snaps he will get is a question worth asking, but don’t be surprised if Allen’s return impacts Coby Fleener’s opportunities. Fleener has thrived since Allen got injured early in Week 11, catching 13 passes for 299 yards and two touchdowns (both last week) over the past three games. But Allen had better numbers than Fleener prior to his injury, which is why he is ranked a few spots higher than his teammate despite the missed time. At best, both should be viewed as borderline TE1 options this week.

 

Jordan Cameron, TE, Cleveland Browns vs. Indianapolis Colts

Questionable – Concussion
Cameron has missed the past five games because of a concussion, but he has been able to practice on a limited basis. He was able to participate to some degree every day this week, which earned him a Questionable designation. However, Cameron’s fate really isn’t in the hands of the coaching staff as much as it is in the neurologist who must clear him to play. The bottom line is that Cameron has missed more than a month’s worth of action, so even if he plays, rust should be expected. At this point in the fantasy season, it’s probably not worth it to take a chance with Cameron unless you have no other choice.

 
Charles Clay, TE, Miami Dolphins vs. Baltimore Ravens

Questionable – Hamstring
Clay has missed the past two games, but he’s making progress and could be back out there today. He was a limited practice participant every day this week and his Questionable tag is an upgrade from last week’s Doubtful. Even if Clay plays, he’s too risky to trust this week.

 
Already Ruled Out:

 

Jace Amaro, TE, New York Jets – Amaro will miss a second straight game as he’s still going through the league-mandated concussion protocols.

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Fantasy Football Week 14 Injury Updates: Julius Thomas, Greg Olsen, Dwayne Allen, Jordan Cameron
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Even though there’s been a change atop the quarterback leaderboard, Aaron Rodgers maintains his spot atop Athlon Sports’ Fantasy Football Quarterback Rankings for Week 14. Andrew Luck tossed a season-best five touchdown passes against Washington, allowing him to move past Peyton Manning for the top spot in fantasy points. Meanwhile, Ryan Fitzpatrick ruled Week 13 with a career-best six touchdown passes in the win over Tennessee. Fitzpatrick’s 51.3 fantasy points is the second highest this season by any player (Ben Roethlisberger, 56.8 in Week 8), although it’s highly likely few were able to capitalize on this performance given his low ownership rate. And don’t bank on a repeat showing from Fitzpatrick, even with another appealing matchup this week (at JAC). Fitzpatrick barely cracks our top 20 this week, while Rodgers, Manning and Luck are at the head of the class. 

 

Positional Rankings: QB I RB I WR I TE I DST I K

 

2014 NFL Week 14 Fantasy Football Rankings — Quarterbacks

 

RankPlayerTeamOpp
1Aaron RodgersGBvs. ATL (Mon.)
2Peyton ManningDENvs. BUF
3Andrew LuckINDat CLE
4Drew BreesNOvs. CAR
5Tom BradyNEat SD
6Tony RomoDALat CHI (Thurs.)
7Russell WilsonSEAat PHI
8Matthew StaffordDETvs. TB
9Jay CutlerCHIvs. DAL (Thurs.)
10Ryan TannehillMIAvs. BAL
11Ben RoethlisbergerPITat CIN
12Philip RiversSDvs. NE
13Eli ManningNYGat TEN
14Cam NewtonCARat NO
15Matt RyanATLat GB (Mon.)
16Colin KaepernickSFat OAK
17Ryan FitzpatrickHOUat JAC
18Mark SanchezPHIvs. SEA
19Colt McCoyWASvs. STL
20Andy DaltonCINvs. PIT
21Joe FlaccoBALat MIA
22Shaun HillSTLat WAS
23Alex SmithKCat ARI
24Teddy BridgewaterMINvs. NYJ
25Brian HoyerCLEvs. IND
26Josh McCownTBat DET

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

All touchdowns are 6 points
1 point for 25 yards passing
1 point for 10 yards rushing/receiving
Receptions are .5 points
Interceptions/fumbles are minus-2 points

 

Need more fantasy help? Visit www.FantasyRundown.com.

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Fantasy Football 2014 Quarterback Rankings: Week 14
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Le’Veon Bell led off this list last week and he didn’t disappoint, but it was the return of another workhorse that prompted a change on Athlon Sports’ Fantasy Football Running Back Rankings for Week 14. After missing the past two games because of a groin injury, Arian Foster was back at it this past Sunday for the Texans. Foster didn’t fill up the box score, but he got 24 touches (105 total yards, TD) and this week faces a Jacksonville defense that’s been generous to opposing RBs. Meanwhile, Bell exploded for 254 total yards (159 receiving) in the Steelers’ loss to the Saints and he remains a top-three option this week. The hottest RB right now, however, is Denver’s C.J. Anderson, who has a whopping 335 yards rushing in his last two games. Anderson faces a tough task Sunday against Buffalo’s defense, but we still like him as a top-10 option. There also are some injury situations worth paying attention to this week, including Jamaal Charles (swelling in knee), Rashad Jennings (ankle), and Andre Ellington (hip pointer). 

 

Positional Rankings: QB I RB I WR I TE I DST I K

 

2014 NFL Week 14 Fantasy Football Rankings — Running Backs

 

RankPlayerTeamOpp
1Arian FosterHOUat JAC
2DeMarco MurrayDALat CHI (Thurs.)
3Le'Veon BellPITat CIN
4Matt ForteCHIvs. DAL (Thurs.)
5Eddie LacyGBvs. ATL (Mon.)
6Marshawn LynchSEAat PHI
7Justin ForsettBALat MIA
8Jamaal CharlesKCat ARI
9C.J. AndersonDENvs. BUF
10LeSean McCoyPHIvs. SEA
11Alfred MorrisWASvs. STL
12Mark IngramNOvs. CAR
13Tre MasonSTLat WAS
14Joique BellDETvs. TB
15Ryan MathewsSDvs. NE
16Rashad JenningsNYGat TEN
17Jeremy HillCINvs. PIT
18Lamar MillerMIAvs. BAL
19Daniel HerronINDat CLE
20Isaiah CrowellCLEvs. IND
21Frank GoreSFat OAK
22Giovani BernardCINvs. PIT
23Denard RobinsonJACvs. HOU
24Fred JacksonBUFat DEN
25Chris IvoryNYJat MIN
26LeGarrette BlountNEat SD
27Jonathan StewartCARat NO
28Steven JacksonATLat GB (Mon.)
29Bishop SankeyTENvs. NYG
30Shane VereenNEat SD
31Jerick McKinnonMINvs. NYJ
32Latavius MurrayOAKvs. SF
33Doug MartinTBat DET
34Andre WilliamsNYGat TEN
35Trent RichardsonINDat CLE
36Chris JohnsonNYJat MIN
37Terrance WestCLEvs. IND
38Marion GriceARIvs. KC
39Darren SprolesPHIvs. SEA
40Matt AsiataMINvs. NYJ
41Pierre ThomasNOvs. CAR
42Reggie BushDETvs. TB
43Carlos HydeSFat OAK
44Darren McFaddenOAKvs. SF
45Charles SimsTBat DET
46Alfred BlueHOUat JAC
47Roy HeluWASvs. STL
48Andre EllingtonARIvs. KC

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

All touchdowns are 6 points
1 point for 25 yards passing
1 point for 10 yards rushing/receiving
Receptions are .5 points
Interceptions/fumbles are minus-2 points

 

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Fantasy Football 2014 Running Back Rankings: Week 14
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Another week, another breakout performance by a young wideout, but not one that shakes up Athlon Sports’ Fantasy Football Wide Receiver Rankings for Week 14 too much. Houston’s DeAndre Hopkins topped all of his peers with his 238-yard, two-touchdown showing against Tennessee. While Hopkins is certainly a must-start option, he checks in near the back of our top 20 this week, a testament to the depth of this position. Dez Bryant is our pick for No. 1 based on his Thursday night matchup against Chicago’s depleted, inexperienced secondary. Plenty of usual suspects in the top 10, including Julio Jones, who is coming off of a career-high 189 yards receiving against Arizona. Atlanta will take on Green Bay on Monday night, a matchup full that also will feature Jordy Nelson (No. 3), Randall Cobb (No. 10) and, most likely, Roddy White (No. 25, but didn’t play last week because of an ankle injury).

 

Positional Rankings: QB I RB I WR I TE I DST I K

 

2014 NFL Week 14 Fantasy Football Rankings — Wide Receivers

 

RankPlayerTeamOpp
1Dez BryantDALat CHI (Thurs.)
2Demaryius ThomasDENvs. BUF
3Jordy NelsonGBvs. ATL (Mon.)
4Calvin JohnsonDETvs. TB
5Antonio BrownPITat CIN
6A.J. GreenCINvs. PIT
7Odell Beckham Jr.NYGat TEN
8Julio JonesATLat GB (Mon.)
9Josh GordonCLEvs. IND
10Randall CobbGBvs. ATL (Mon.)
11Emmanuel SandersDENvs. BUF
12T.Y. HiltonINDat CLE
13Alshon JefferyCHIvs. DAL (Thurs.)
14Brandon MarshallCHIvs. DAL (Thurs.)
15Mike EvansTBat DET
16DeAndre HopkinsHOUat JAC
17Kelvin BenjaminCARat NO
18Mike WallaceMIAvs. BAL
19DeSean JacksonWASvs. STL
20Jeremy MaclinPHIvs. SEA
21Golden TateDETvs. TB
22Brandon LaFellNEat SD
23Torrey SmithBALat MIA
24Keenan AllenSDvs. NE
25Roddy WhiteATLat GB (Mon.)
26Jarvis LandryMIAvs. BAL
27Julian EdelmanNEat SD
28Kenny StillsNOvs. CAR
29Anquan BoldinSFat OAK
30Andre JohnsonHOUat JAC
31Jordan MatthewsPHIvs. SEA
32Sammy WatkinsBUFat DEN
33Marques ColstonNOvs. CAR
34Steve SmithBALat MIA
35Vincent JacksonTBat DET
36Mohamed SanuCINvs. PIT
37Reggie WayneINDat CLE
38Stedman BaileySTLat WAS
39Kendall WrightTENvs. NYG
40Robert WoodsBUFat DEN
41Martavis BryantPITat CIN
42Michael CrabtreeSFat OAK
43Doug BaldwinSEAat PHI
44Michael FloydARIvs. KC
45Rueben RandleNYGat TEN
46Eric DeckerNYJat MIN
47Percy HarvinNYJat MIN
48Greg JenningsMINvs. NYJ

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

All touchdowns are 6 points
1 point for 25 yards passing
1 point for 10 yards rushing/receiving
Receptions are .5 points
Interceptions/fumbles are minus-2 points

 

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Fantasy Football 2014 Wide Receiver Rankings: Week 14
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Coby Fleener had a banner day last week, but it’s the expected return of a teammate that impacts his position on Athlon Sports’ Fantasy Football Tight End Rankings for Week 14. Fleener led all TEs with 127 yards and two touchdowns last week, but Dwayne Allen is expected to return after missing the past two games because of an ankle injury. Allen had better fantasy numbers than Fleener before the injury, which is why he’s ranked slightly ahead of his teammate. At the top it’s still Rob Gronkowski and Jimmy Graham with an optimistic view on Julius Thomas’ potential return after a two-game absence (ankle).

 

Positional Rankings: QB I RB I WR I TE I DST I K

 

2014 NFL Week 14 Fantasy Football Rankings — Tight Ends

 

RankPlayerTeamOpp
1Rob GronkowskiNEat SD
2Jimmy GrahamNOvs. CAR
3Julius ThomasDENvs. BUF
4Greg OlsenCARat NO
5Delanie WalkerTENvs. NYG
6Martellus BennettCHIvs. DAL (Thurs.)
7Antonio GatesSDvs. NE
8Jason WittenDALat CHI (Thurs.)
9Jordan ReedWASvs. STL
10Travis KelceKCat ARI
11Larry DonnellNYGat TEN
12Dwayne AllenINDat CLE
13Kyle RudolphMINvs. NYJ
14Coby FleenerINDat CLE
15Heath MillerPITat CIN
16Jordan CameronCLEvs. IND
17Charles ClayMIAvs. BAL
18Owen DanielsBALat MIA
19Jared CookSTLat WAS
20Mychal RiveraOAKvs. SF
21Zach ErtzPHIvs. SEA
22Vernon DavisSFat OAK
23Scott ChandlerBUFat DEN
24Jermaine GreshamCINvs. PIT

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:
All touchdowns are 6 points
1 point for 25 yards passing
1 point for 10 yards rushing/receiving
Receptions are .5 points
Interceptions/fumbles are minus-2 points

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Teaser:
Fantasy Football 2014 Tight End Rankings: Week 14
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After what St. Louis did to Oakland last week, how can the Raiders’ opponent not lead off Athlon Sports’ Fantasy Football Defense/Special Teams Rankings for Week 14? The Rams shut out the Raiders 52-0, racking up six sacks, five takeaways (3 INTs, 2 fumbles), and a touchdown (34 fantasy points, Athlon scoring) in the process. Oakland will host San Francisco on Sunday, which is why the 49ers are our choice for No. 1. St. Louis is just two spots behind, as Houston’s matchup against Jacksonville is slightly more appealing than the Rams’ (at WAS). And don’t sleep on Minnesota (No. 9). The Vikings draw the lowly Jets at home a week after a dominating effort against the Panthers (28 fantasy points), including two blocked kicks which resulted in touchdowns.

 

Positional Rankings: QB I RB I WR I TE I DST I K

 

2014 NFL Week 14 Fantasy Football Rankings — Defense/Special Teams

 

 

RankPlayerOpp
1San Francisco 49ersat OAK
2Houston Texansat JAC
3St. Louis Ramsat WAS
4Detroit Lionsvs. TB
5Minnesota Vikingsvs. NYJ
6Arizona Cardinalsvs. KC
7Seattle Seahawksat PHI
8Miami Dolphinsvs. BAL
9Denver Broncosvs. BUF
10Green Bay Packersvs. ATL (Mon.)
11Philadelphia Eaglesvs. SEA
12New England Patriotsat SD
13Kansas City Chiefsat ARI
14Baltimore Ravensat MIA
15Indianapolis Coltsat CLE
16New York Giantsat TEN

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

DEFENSIVE SCORING
0 points allowed = 12 points
1-6 points allowed = 10 points
7-13 points allowed = 8 pts
14-20 points allowed = 6 points
21-27 points allowed = 2 pts
28+ points allowed = 0 points
Safeties = 2 points
Fumbles recovered = 2 points
Interceptions = 2 points
Sacks = 1 point
Defensive/Special Teams TDs = 6 points

 

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Stephen Gostkowski is No. 1 in Athlon Sports’ Fantasy Football Kicker Rankings for Week 14, but he’s ceded his standing as the most productive at the position, at least for now. Instead that distinction currently belongs to Cody Parkey. The rookie is now leading both the NFL and fantasy in scoring after booting four field goals and three PATs in the Eagles’ 33-10 Thanksgiving win in Dallas. Parkey is probably locked in as a top-five option the rest of the way. Elsewhere, Connor Barth made the most of his Denver debut, connecting on a franchise-tying five field goals in his first game in a Broncos uniform. Barth checks in at No. 7 this week with Denver set to host Buffalo on Sunday.

 

Positional Rankings: QB I RB I WR I TE I DST I K

 

2014 NFL Week 14 Fantasy Football Rankings — Kickers

 

RankPlayerTeamOpp
1Stephen GostkowskiNEat SD
2Adam VinatieriINDat CLE
3Cody ParkeyPHIvs. SEA
4Mason CrosbyGBvs. ATL (Mon.)
5Steven HauschkaSEAat PHI
6Justin TuckerBALat MIA
7Connor BarthDENvs. BUF
8Dan BaileyDALat CHI (Thurs.)
9Matt BryantATLat GB (Mon.)
10Phil DawsonSFat OAK
11Matt PraterDETvs. TB
12Caleb SturgisMIAvs. BAL
13Shaun SuishamPITat CIN
14Dan CarpenterBUFat DEN
15Randy BullockHOUat JAC
16Nick NovakSDvs. NE

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

KICKER SCORING
PATs = 1 point
39 yards and under = 3 points
40-49 yards = 4 points
50-59 yards = 5 points
60+ yards = 6 points

Teaser:
Fantasy Football 2014 Kicker Rankings: Week 14
Post date: Thursday, December 4, 2014 - 06:30
All taxonomy terms: AFC, AFC East, Miami Dolphins, New York Jets, NFL, News
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The Miami Dolphins look to stay in the thick of the AFC playoff hunt when they take on the New York Jets on ESPN’s “Monday Night Football.” The Dolphins (6-5) need a win to not only keep pace with the AFC East-leading Patriots (9-3), but also to join the pack of five teams sitting at 7-5 jockeying for one of the Wild Card spots. The Jets (2-9) are really just playing for pride and draft positioning from here out.

 

This is the first of two meetings this month between these longtime divisional rivals, as they will close things out Dec. 28 in Miami. Because New York’s game against Buffalo last week had to be moved to Monday night due to the snowstorm, the Jets will become just the fourth team in history to play consecutive games on a Monday. This could be a good sign of things to come for Rex Ryan’s beleaguered team, as Miami has lost five straight Monday night games. Then again, perhaps not since the Dolphins’ last Monday night win was against, that’s right, the Jets back in Week 5 of the 2009 season.  

 

Miami Dolphins at New York Jets

 

Kickoff: 8:30 p.m. ET

TV Channel: ESPN

Spread: Miami -7

 

Miami’s Key to Victory: Play Four Quarters

It may sound cliché to remind an NFL team that a game lasts 60 minutes, but these Dolphins have had their problems in the fourth quarter. In each of Miami’s past three losses, the Dolphins coughed up late leads and two of these were in road games. In Week 6, Aaron Rodgers threw a game-winning touchdown pass with just three seconds left to cap Green Bay’s 10-point, fourth-quarter comeback in Miami. About a month later in Detroit, it was the Lions’ Matthew Stafford snatching victory from the Dolphins’ hands, by way of a game-winning touchdown pass with 29 seconds remaining. But perhaps the cruelest blow came last week in Denver. Miami entered the fourth quarter at Sports Authority Field at Mile High with a 28-17 lead after outplaying the defending AFC champions on their own turf for the first 45 minutes. Unfortunately Peyton Manning and unheralded running back C.J. Anderson owned the final period, as the Broncos scored 22 unanswered points and wound up winning 39-36. It should be pointed out that the Packers, Lions and Broncos are by far better teams than tonight’s opponent. But the Dolphins can’t afford to treat any team, including the 2-9 Jets, lightly, as they need to win just to keep pace with the pack of Wild Card-contending teams. And as Miami is well aware by now, sometimes it’s not how you start that’s most important. It’s how you finish.

 

New York’s Key to Victory: Run, Run, Run

No matter how you slice it, the situation looks bleak for the Jets. Rex Ryan is a lame-duck head coach and because of injury, he has to turn the offense back over to the quarterback (Geno Smith) he benched four games ago. The Jets were embarrassed on this same stage a week ago and it’s really hard to find any aspect of the team to have a ton of confidence in. For example, even though the defense is ranked among the top 10 in total (324.8 ypg) and rushing (86.2 ypg) defense, New York is 28th in scoring (27.5 ppg) defense. An inefficient and turnover-prone offense can be assigned some of the blame here, which brings us back to the quarterback. The reason Smith was benched in the first quarter of the Jets’ Week 8 43-23 home loss to the Bills was that he had thrown more interceptions (three) than completions (two). For the season, Smith has more turnovers (12) than touchdowns (8), which is why it would behoove New York to keep the ball out of his hands as much as possible. That means a healthy dose of Chris Ivory, Chris Johnson and maybe even wide receiver Percy Harvn coming out of the backfield. The Jets are averaging 136.5 yards rushing per game, which places them near the top of the league. On the other hand, one consistent theme in Miami’s losses has been its struggles stopping the run. Overall, the Dolphins are giving up an average of 104.1 yards rushing per game. However, in their five losses that number jumps to 134.4, including the 201 they surrendered to the Broncos last week. Given the discrepancy between New York’s rushing and passing production, the return of a benched quarterback and a potential weak spot in Miami’s defense, it’s pretty clear that the Jets would be wise to take the air out of the ball tonight and take their chances.

 

Final Analysis

 

Miami needs to bounce back from another fourth-quarter collapse and get a win on the road to stay in the thick of the playoff hunt. New York is in the thick of the race for the No. 1 pick in next year’s draft and has to settle for playing the role of spoiler the rest of the way. The Jets are a mess on offense and will be missing one of their best defensive linemen (Muhammad Wilkerson) tonight. Because of last week’s tough loss to the Broncos, I don’t expect the Dolphins to take the Jets lightly. These two teams are no strangers to this stage, as this will be their 13th time playing on Monday night. New York leads these matchups 7-5 and Miami hasn’t won a Monday night game in more than five years, but I think both of these streaks come to end tonight against an overmatched Jets team.

 
Prediction: Miami 27, New York 17
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Miami Dolphins vs. New York Jets Preview and Prediction
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The Kansas City Chiefs will try and tighten up the AFC West race when they host the Denver Broncos tonight on NBC. The Chiefs (7-4) trail the Broncos (8-3) by a game in the win column, but two in divisional play (1-2 vs. 3-0), so a victory tonight would only add to the intrigue over the last month of the regular season.

 

Denver has defeated Kansas City five straight times and a win in Arrowhead Stadium would definitely put the Broncos in the driver’s seat for a fourth straight AFC West crown. Each of the last two meetings between these teams has been decided by a touchdown. Denver beat Kansas City 24-17 at home back in Week 2.

 

Denver Broncos at Kansas City Chiefs

 

Kickoff: 8:30 p.m. ET

TV Channel: NBC

Spread: Denver -2.5

 

Denver’s Key to Victory: Keep Charles in Check

The Broncos’ defense has done a good job against the run all season. Denver enters this game ranked second in the NFL in rushing defense at 75.5 yards per game. Ironically, the most yards the Broncos have given up on the ground this season were to the Chiefs, who rushed for 133 in Week 2. In that game it wasn’t Jamaal Charles who did the damage though, as he departed early with an ankle injury. Instead it was Charles’ backup, Knile Davis, who finished with 79 yards on 22 carries (3.6 ypc) and scored both of Kansas City’s touchdowns. Alex Smith added 42 yards on five carries, as the Chiefs outrushed the Broncos 133 to 88. Charles wound up missing just one game and has re-established himself as one of the league’s most dangerous running backs. Since Kansas City’s bye in Week 6 Charles has averaged 96.2 yards rushing per game. He’s also scored eight touchdowns (7 rushing, 1 receiving) in these six games. Denver’s defense is pretty banged up, especially at linebacker, but its focus does not change – contain Charles. Even with one game missed because of injury, Charles has accounted for more than a quarter (962 total yards) of Kansas City’s total offense (3,593). Limit Charles and you have taken a big piece away from the Chiefs’ attack.

 

Kansas City’s Key to Victory: Force Peyton to Pass

Make Peyton Manning, one of the best to ever play quarterback, throw the football? At first it probably sounds like crazy talk, but hear me out. As prolific and potent Denver’s passing attack is, the Broncos are a better team when they are balanced on offense. Against Seattle, New England and St. Louis, Manning averaged an impressive 364.7 yards passing per game – and lost all three. Turnovers (5 INTs) obviously played a role, but another common thread was Denver’s inability to run the ball, averaging a measly 35.7 yards rushing per game. Contrast that to last week when C.J. Anderson ran for 167 of the Broncos’ season-high 201 yards, which helped fuel Denver’s comeback (trailed 28-17 with 2:11 left in the third quarter) win against Miami at home. A consistent running game only makes the Broncos’ aerial attack more dangerous, as it opens up play-action and usually results in coverage mismatches Manning can exploit. When you force Manning to throw, it allows defenses to focus on pass coverage and applying pressure. Case in point, despite all of the passing yards against the Seahawks, Patriots and Rams, Manning’s completion rate was 62 percent for those three games and Denver managed just 16 points per game. Compare that to a 72 percent completion rate and 35.5 points per game in the Broncos’ eight wins. As strange as it sounds, the Chiefs’ best strategy tonight may be to focus on shutting down Anderson, a second-year undrafted free agent, and instead take their chances against the five-time MVP and future Hall of Famer. It’s a strategy that has worked for other teams, so why not Kansas City?

 

Final Analysis

 

If Kansas City hadn’t lost to Oakland last week, tonight’s game would be a battle for first place in the AFC West. As it stands now, the Chiefs must beat the Broncos at home or the division title could basically be decided. Denver has yet to lose in divisional play (3-0), while Kansas City is just 1-2. By sweeping the Chiefs, the Broncos can essentially eliminate Andy Reid’s team from title contention. What’s more, Kansas City hasn’t beaten Denver since Peyton Manning joined the Broncos in 2012. Some of the games have been close, but it’s been a continuation of the dominance Manning has had against the Chiefs since coming into the NFL. Manning is 12-1 against Kansas City in his career, including 2-0 in the playoffs when he was in Indianapolis. Manning aside, I just don’t think the Chiefs have enough firepower of their own to overcome Denver’s rejuvenated running game or a defense that excels in the same department. Manning won’t have to carry the team in this one, as a well-rounded effort extends the Broncos’ winning streak against the Chiefs to six.

 
Prediction: Denver 27, Kansas City 20
Teaser:
Denver Broncos vs. Kansas City Chiefs Preview and Prediction
Post date: Sunday, November 30, 2014 - 09:00
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Not only is Arian Foster expected to return today, he also has a very appealing matchup for Week 13. While Foster is the indisputable workhorse for Houston, the backfield situations for Minnesota and Tampa Bay are slightly more complicated, and not nearly as palatable fantasy-wise.

 
Ryan Mathews, RB, San Diego Chargers at Baltimore Ravens

Probable – Shoulder
Mathews missed seven games because of a MCL sprain, but returned two weeks ago and has rushed for 175 yards in the past two games. He put up 105 last week against the Rams, but also left at one point because of a shoulder injury. The good news is that he did return to that game and was a full practice participant this week. He is Probable, and you must start Mathews, but just keep in mind that the Ravens are giving up the second-fewest fantasy points to RBs.

 

Arian Foster, RB, Houston Texans vs. Tennessee Titans

Probable – Groin
After missing the past two games because of a groin injury, it looks like Foster will finally get back on the field today. He was still limited in practice on Friday, but Foster is listed as Probable, which is defined as a “virtual certainty” to play. Head coach Bill O’Brien also has said he expects Foster to play. As frustrating as it’s been to own Foster this season, at least he’s picking a good time to get back out there. The Titans are last in the NFL in rushing defense (145.4 ypg) and have given up 13 TDs on the ground. Foster is a must-start and his return means Alfred Blue’s days of fantasy relevancy are probably over.

 

Charles Sims, RBs, Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Cincinnati Bengals

Probable – Ankle
Sims is the only Buccaneer back on the injury report this week, as Doug Martin has been removed. Sims was limited in practice both Wednesday and Thursday, but got in a full session on Friday and is listed as Probable. Even though it looks like Sims and Martin are good to go for today, I’m not sure I would trust either in my starting lineup. For one, both will at least share the touches and last week that breakdown was 12 for Martin and eight for Sims. Those 20 touches, however, produced a total of 64 yards and no touchdowns. The only thing that appears clear with this backfield at this point is that Bobby Rainey is pretty much a non-factor. As far as Sims and Martin go, if you want to take a chance on either, you go right ahead but I hope it’s as nothing more than a desperation flex option.

 

Matt Asiata and Jerick McKinnon, RBs, Minnesota Vikings vs. Carolina Panthers

Probable – Concussion; Doubftul – Back
Looks like the Vikings will be down one man in their backfield, but it will be a different face this week. Asiata is listed as Probable and expected to return today after missing last week because of a concussion. McKinnon, however, is Doubtful as his back injury has gotten progressively worse. He was not able to practice at all this week and with the recent addition of Ben Tate, there’s no reason for the Vikings to take any chances with their third-round pick. In fact, McKinnon himself said on Friday that he was not going to play. Even without McKinnon, there could be three mouths to feed today against the Panthers with Asiata, Tate and second-year back Joe Banyard likely to see touches.  How the touches will get distributed is anyone’s guess, but this has all the makings of a dreaded RBBC and is a situation I would avoid at all costs.

Teaser:
Week 13 Fantasy Football Injury Updates: Arian Foster, Ryan Mathews, Charles Sims, Jerick McKinnon
Post date: Sunday, November 30, 2014 - 06:30
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy Football, injury updates, NFL, Fantasy, News
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A generous Atlanta defense may be just what Arizona needs to get its top running back going in Week 13. Elsewhere, New Orleans’ backfield should be well stocked this week, Denver’s has become more of a one-man show recently and Oakland will have to make do without its most explosive option.

 

Lamar Miller, RB, Miami Dolphins at New York Jets (Mon.)

Probable – Knee
Miller has been dealing with a knee issue the last few weeks, but he’s been able to play through it and it also hasn’t caused him to miss much practice time. He was a full practice participant this week, so his Probable designation is a mere formality. As bad as the Jets have been record-wise, this is not an ideal matchup for Miller. New York’s defense has done a pretty job against the run, giving up just 3.4 yards per carry. Miller does catch a break in that Jets defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson won’t play, but yards will probably be pretty tough to come by on the ground, which is why Miller is a low-end RB2 this week.

 

Andre Ellington, RB, Arizona Cardinals vs. Atlanta Falcons

Probable – Foot/Hip
Injuries really aren’t the main concern when it comes to Ellington. He’s been dealing with something every week this season and even though his practice time has been limited, he’s yet to miss a game. He’s Probable for this one too, but what Ellington’s owners are really hoping for is that this matchup against the Falcons will be what finally gets him going again. Ellington is averaging just 3.3 yards per carry and has one touchdown over his last three games. He continues to see a fair number of targets (64 for the season), which has helped maintain his fantasy value. The Falcons are giving up the most fantasy points to RBs, so hopefully Ellington will be able to put up RB1 numbers.

 

Travaris Cadet, Mark Ingram, Khiry Robinson and Pierre Thomas, RBs, New Orleans Saints at Pittsburgh Steelers

Probable – Hamstring; Probable – Shoulder; Out – Forearm; Probable – Rib/Shoulder
No change to last week – Robinson is out yet again while everyone else is Probable. Ingram remains the most appealing option of this backfield, but it’s worth noting that after averaging 26 carries over a four-game stretch, he had just 11 on Monday night against Baltimore. The good news is that total was still more than half of the team’s 21 carries, so Ingram maintains RB2 status. Monday night also marked Thomas’ return from a four-game absence, and as expected, he impacted Cadet the most. Based on Monday night’s usage (Thomas 11 touches, Cadet two), it certainly appears that Thomas has reclaimed his versatile role in New Orleans’ offense, making him the more appealing flex option for this week, if not the rest of the way.

 

Already Ruled Out:

 

Latavius Murray, RB, Oakland Raiders – In less than a half last week Murray racked up 112 yards rushing (on just four carries) and two touchdowns. Unfortunately, he left in the second quarter after sustaining a concussion and he’s already been ruled out for today. In Murray’s absence, Darren McFadden should get the most touches out of a committee that also includes Maurice Jones-Drew and Marcel Reece. This also is a committee that you should pay no attention to.

 

Montee Ball and Ronnie Hillman, RBs, Denver Broncos – Neither Ball (groin) nor Hillman (foot) practiced this week, so this duo will be inactive for yet another game. C.J. Anderson exploded for 167 yards rushing and a touchdown last week against Miami and is firmly entrenched as a top-10 option against Kansas City this week. Anderson’s effectiveness makes Juwan Thompson mostly an afterthought, as there’s no guarantee he’ll see enough touches to even merit flex consideration.

Teaser:
Fantasy Football Week 13 Injury Updates: Andre Ellington, Lamar Miller, Mark Ingram, Latavius Murray
Post date: Sunday, November 30, 2014 - 06:30
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy Football, injury updates, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /fantasy/week-13-fantasy-football-injury-updates-larry-fitzgerald-roddy-white-mike-wallace-brandon
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Arizona and Atlanta both have some banged up targets entering their Week 13 matchup. Will the Cardinals or Falcons or any other team in action be shorthanded in their wide receiver corps this week?  

 

Roddy White, WR, Atlanta Falcons at Arizona Cardinals

Questionable – Ankle
White is back on the injury report after not being able to practice because of an ankle issue. He’s listed as Questionable, but Mike Smith said on Friday that he expects White to play despite the injury and missed practice time. White’s production has actually been on the uptick lately – averaging 82 yards receiving with three touchdowns over the past five games – so his status is something definitely worth keeping an eye on. The Falcons play later in the afternoon (4:05 p.m. ET kickoff) out in Arizona, but I think it’s safe to take Smith at his word and keep White in your starting lineup.

 

John Brown and Larry Fitzgerald, WRs, Arizona Cardinals vs. Atlanta Falcons

Probable – Teeth; Questionable – Knee
Brown had his wisdom teeth pulled earlier this week, which is why he shows up on the injury report. He’s listed as Probable and should be just fine today. The same can’t be said for Fitzgerald, however, who saw his streak of 110 consecutive regular-season games end last week because of a knee injury (Grade 2 MCL sprain). Fitzgerald is anxious to return and he was able to practice a little on Friday. He’s Questionable and will be a game-time decision. The matchup with the Falcons is appealing, but Brown and Michael Floyd are much safer options than Fitzgerald. If you can wait for the later (4:05 p.m. ET) kickoff before making a final decision, you are welcome to do so, but I wouldn’t count on having Fitzgerald in my lineup this week.

 

Mike Wallace, WR, Miami Dolphins at New York Jets (Mon.)

Probable – Chest
Wallace continues to get nicked up, as he was limited in practice this week due to a chest injury. He is considered Probable and despite all the bumps and bruises, he’s yet to miss a game. Wallace caught just four passes last week against Denver, but one of those was for a touchdown, his seventh of the season. He’s averaging about eight targets per game and has already surpassed his touchdown total from 2013 (five), two reasons why Wallace has been a top-25 fantasy WR this season. Regardless of the matchup, Wallace is pretty locked in as a WR2.

 

Brandon LaFell, WR, New England Patriots at Green Bay Packers

Questionable – Shoulder
Last week it was Julian Edelman who was dealing with a thigh injury, this week it’s LaFell, who was limited in practice by a shoulder ailment, which has him listed as Questionable. LaFell should be out there today and he did lead tbhe Patriots last week with 98 yards on nine catches (12 targets). His production can be up-and-down, but given this matchup against Green Bay, LaFell should be a relatively safe WR3/flex option.

 

Kenny Britt, WR, St. Louis Rams vs. Oakland Raiders

Probable – Back
A back injury is bothering Britt enough that he didn’t practice on Wednesday. He was a full go the rest of the way, however, and is listed as Probable. Britt is the closest thing the Rams have to a No. 1 WR right now, which isn’t saying much. He does have two touchdown receptions over his last four games and two weeks ago put up a season-best 128 yards receiving. Britt is a risky play regardless, but he could end up earning his keep as a flex or a WR3 depending on your other options and your willingness to roll the dice.

 
Robert Woods, WR, Buffalo Bills vs. Cleveland Browns

Probable – Ankle
Woods caught a career-high nine passes for 118 yards and a touchdown in the Bills’ Monday night romp over the Jets, but was limited in practice because of an ankle injury. The issue must not be that worrisome, however, as Woods is Probable. Even though Woods is the hot hand, be sure to temper your expectations if you plan on having him in your lineup today. Before Monday night’s breakout, Woods had caught 36 passes for 361 yards (10.0 ypr) and two scores in 10 games. That’s less than four catches and 36 yards per game. That’s not even reliable flex production in a PPR league.

 

Greg Jennings and Coradarrelle Patterson WR, Minnesota Vikings vs. Carolina Panthers

Probable – Rib; Probable – Knee
Jennings was a full practice participant this week, so he’s good to go. Patterson on the other hand, didn’t practice until Friday. Both are listed as Probable, so the expectation is they will play. However, I wouldn’t trust any Viking WR in my starting lineup. Jennings is inconsistent, Patterson has been a colossal bust and pretty much replaced in the starting lineup by Charles Johnson. And there’s also the fact that Teddy Bridgewater has looked every bit like the rookie quarterback he is over the past several weeks. Right now, Minnesota's backfield and wide receiver corps have two things in common: 1) both are unsettled situations and 2) are positions you don’t want to have anything to do with fantasy-wise.

Teaser:
Week 13 Fantasy Football Injury Updates: Larry Fitzgerald, Roddy White, Mike Wallace, Brandon LaFell
Post date: Sunday, November 30, 2014 - 06:30
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy Football, injury updates, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-week-13-injury-updates-julius-thomas-jared-cook-jordan-cameron-jordan-reed
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The Week 13 tight end injury report is brought to you by the letter J. Between Jared, Julius and a pair of Jordans, Athlon Sports has the latest on the TE injury news you need to know, even if their first or last name doesn’t start with a J.

 

Jared Cook, TE, St. Louis Rams vs. Oakland Raiders

Probable – Back
Cook was a full go on both Thursday and Friday, so his mere practice participation alone indicates his back is getting better. He was Questionable last week and played, so there’s little doubt regarding his availability this week given his Probable designation. Cook was targeted nine times last week against the Chargers, but reeled in only three of those for 27 yards. The Raiders are a more appealing matchup, but this is a TE who has a total of one touchdown catch even though he’s been targeted 70 times. At best, Cook is in the TE2 discussion.

 

Julius Thomas, TE, Denver Broncos at Kansas City Chiefs

Questionable – Ankle
Not surprisingly, Thomas wasn’t activated for last week’s game after not practicing because of an ankle injury. He’s Questionable again, but he was a limited practice participant on Thursday and Friday, and head coach John Fox said his tight end was “much better” on Friday. Chances are Thomas will probably end up being a game-time decision yet again, but unlike last week, the Broncos don’t play until tonight. Unless something more definitive comes out before the 1 p.m. ET kickoffs, it may be safest to leave Thomas on your bench. Jacob Tamme’s role would increase if Thomas were to miss his second straight game.

 

Jordan Cameron, TE, Cleveland Browns at Buffalo Bills

Questionable – Concussion
Cameron missed his fourth straight game last week, but he was able to participate in practice to some degree every day this week. He’s listed as Questionable, but it’s possible that Cameron will end up being a game-time decision. The Browns have taken their time in bringing Cameron back, which probably speaks to the severity of the concussion he suffered. Cameron is an appealing fantasy option, but with so much uncertainty still surrounding his status, not to mention the presence of one Josh Gordon, it may be best to leave Cameron on your bench and then revisit this situation next week.

 

Jordan Reed, TE, Washington Redskins at Indianapolis Colts

Questionable – Hamstring
Reed was a full practice participant on Friday, so that certainly helps his chances of playing despite the Questionable designation. There’s plenty of risk when it comes to relying on Reed, as evidenced by the five games he has missed this season because of other injuries, but he’s also potential TE1 material. Another thing Reed has going for him is the switch back to Colt McCoy at quarterback. In McCoy’s lone start this season, a Week 8 win in Dallas, Reed tied for the most targets on the team with seven. Provided he plays, an argument could be made for Reed as a low-end TE1 option this week.

 

Charles Clay, TE, Miami Dolphins at New York Jets (Mon.)

Doubtful – Hamstring/Knee
Clay missed last week’s game because of a knee injury and after practicing some on Thursday, he was not able to participate at all on Friday or Saturday. He’s listed as Doubtful, but there’s no doubt in my mind what you should do with Clay – leave him on the bench this week and go a different direction.

 
Already Ruled Out:

 

Dwayne Allen, TE, Indianapolis Colts – Allen has yet to return to practice, so he will miss a second straight game because of an ankle injury. Coby Fleener will get the start and despite last week’s disappointing showing (2 rec., 28 yds.) he remains in the TE1 discussion because the Colts are the No. 1 passing offense in the NFL.

Jace Amaro, TE, New York Jets – Amaro suffered a concussion in the Monday night loss to the Bills and hasn’t been able to make progress getting through the league-mandated protocols. Amaro will miss the Monday night game against Miami, but it’s not like he was a major fantasy contributor in the first place.

Teaser:
Fantasy Football Week 13 Injury Updates: Julius Thomas, Jared Cook, Jordan Cameron, Jordan Reed
Post date: Sunday, November 30, 2014 - 06:30
All taxonomy terms: Ray Rice, NFL, News
Path: /nfl/ray-rice-wins-appeal-will-he-play-again-2014
Body:

It’s only the day after Thanksgiving, but Ray Rice got an early Christmas present Friday, winning an appeal of his indefinite suspension and immediate reinstatement into the NFL. Rice was released by Baltimore on Sept. 8, shortly after NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announced the indefinite suspension, so Rice is eligible to sign with any team.

 

Rice’s case, which revolves around a February incident at an Atlantic City, N.J., casino involving Janay Palmer, his then-fiancée, now wife, has been a hot-button topic from the very beginning. From the moment in late July when Goodell suspended Rice for two games, the NFL’s response to this incident has been front-page news regardless of the medium. And that was before video of Rice striking Palmer was released publicly in early September, which prompted Goodell to suspend the running back indefinitely for violating the league’s personal conduct policy.

 

Shortly after Goodell’s decision, the NFL Players Association appealed on Rice’s behalf, disagreeing not only with the punishment, but also the process. Rice’s appeal was heard earlier this month by former U.S. District Judge Barbara S. Jones. After hearing testimony from several parties, including Rice and Goodell, Jones announced her decision earlier today in Rice’s favor, stating: “I am not persuaded that Rice lied to, or misled, the NFL at his June interview, I find that the indefinite suspension was an abuse of discretion and must be vacated.”

 

The NFL released a statement saying it respected Jones’ decision and that Rice is a free agent eligible to sign with any team. There are still some procedural- and contractual-related issues that need to be resolved (i.e., a grievance against the Ravens regarding back pay), but from a football standpoint, the focus shifts to one simple question – will Rice play again this season?

 

Strictly from a talent standpoint, Rice immediately becomes the most attractive free agent running back on the market. Rice was one of the most productive players in the league from 2009-12, when he ran for 5,066 yards and scored 39 total touchdowns, and he’s just 27 years old. His numbers (660 yds. rushing, 4 TDs) dropped rather dramatically last season, but he also reportedly played through a hip injury.

 

With five games left in the regular season, there is no shortage of teams that could use more depth in their backfield. As long as a team is prepared to deal with the potential negative publicity and feedback from those have not been pleased with the NFL’s response to domestic violence-related incidents such as Rice’s, it’s highly likely that he will get a second chance and it could happen fairly soon.

 

So which teams are the mostly likely potential landing spots for Rice? Here are the ones that appear to be the best fit, at least as it relates to the football side of the decision, along with some other possible options.

 

Forget About Baltimore or Minnesota

The Ravens decided to cut their losses in early September and could still wind up paying Rice for some of the games he missed, depending on the resolution of his grievance against the team. That alone pretty much rules out any likelihood of a reunion, don’t you think? And as far as the Vikings go, they have already been down this road once and I don’t think they have any desire of doing so again.

 

The Best Fits:

 

Indianapolis Colts – The Colts are a pretty safe bet to win the AFC South and make the playoffs, but they also have a need at running back. Trent Richardson (3.4 ypc) just has not worked out and the team’s most productive back, Ahmad Bradshaw (4.7 ypc, 8 total TDs) is out for the season with a broken leg. Rice’s resume pales in comparison to Richardson’s in the first place and the two are not only similar in stature, but also in their ability to produce as reliable receiving options out of the backfield. Indianapolis head coach Chuck Pagano also knows Rice pretty well, going back to when Pagano was on the Ravens’ staff from 2008-11. The Colts may be one of the softer landing spots out there for Rice.

 

Atlanta Falcons – Steven Jackson has not aged well since joining the Falcons, and Rice is four years younger. The Falcons do have rookie Devonta Freeman in the fold, but Rice could serve as a change-of-pace option while also allowing Freeman more time to develop. Atlanta’s passing game is in pretty good shape, but the ground attack could use some beefing up and again, Rice’s dual-threat ability would fit in nicely.

 

Oakland Raiders – The Raiders have one win and the one running back who has rushed for more than 100 yards in any game this season (Latavius Murray) is dealing with a concussion. Darren McFadden is a free agent, Maurice Jones-Drew looks washed up and Oakland needs all the talented offensive players it can find. Rice may not only be able to provide a jolt for the rest of this season, he could potentially be a long-term answer. And if there’s one team that would embrace a so-called “bad boy,” it would be the Silver and Black.

Jacksonville Jaguars – The Jags are 1-10 and just like Oakland, need to improve the talent on their roster. Jacksonville’s No. 1 running back is Denard Robinson, a converted quarterback. The Jags do have Blake Bortles, who they hope can be the franchise quarterback the Jags desperately need. And what better way to help a young signal-caller develop than to give him a reliable, productive running back that can make plays as both a rusher and receiver.

 

Carolina Panthers – Ron Rivera’s preference would be to run the ball, but his running backs have either been hurt and/or ineffective this season. The Panthers haven’t had a 1,000-yard rusher since 2009, which means Cam Netwon hasn’t gotten a ton of support from his backfield. Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams are both under contract for several more seasons, but no one would be surprised if the team decided to move on and go a different direction. Rice could be that direction, albeit it may not happen until after the season.

 

Other Possible Options:

 

Buffalo Bills – C.J. Spiller is on injured reserve and has just one year left on his contract. Fred Jackson will turn 34 in February. No other back on the current roster has really stood out this season, so it’s possible that the Bills could decide to give Rice a chance and see what happens.

 

Miami Dolphins – Lamar Miller has emerged somewhat, but that was only after Knowshon Moreno dislocated his elbow before tearing his ACL. Moreno was signed for just one year and his medical file is much thicker than Rice’s. Could Rice be taking his talents to South Beach?

 

New York Jets – There figure to be a lot of changes coming for the Jets this offseason. Why not give Rice, who starred in college at nearby Rutgers, a chance this last month of the regular season? It’s not like the Jets are going anywhere with Chris Johnson and if it doesn’t work out, send Rice packing along with everyone else once the season is over.

 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers – The Buccaneers have Doug Martin, who as a rookie in 2012 did a really good Rice impression with 1,454 yards rushing, 49 receptions and 12 total touchdowns. Martin has been a disappointment since then and Rice could serve as a mentor (on the field) for third-round pick Charles Sims, who’s cut from the same dual-threat cloth.

Tennessee Titans – The Titans have second-round pick Bishop Sankey, but pretty much every team needs two productive running backs these days. Sankey and Rice are similar in skill sets, but remember what Danny Woodhead did when Whisenhunt was San Diego’s offensive coordinator last season and that was in a backfield that also included Ryan Mathews.

Teaser:
Ray Rice Wins Appeal: Will He Play Again in 2014?
Post date: Friday, November 28, 2014 - 21:30
Path: /nfl/seattle-seahawks-vs-san-francisco-49ers-preview-and-prediction-0
Body:

One of the NFL’s most heated rivalries will serve as the finishing course for this season’s Thanksgiving football feast when the Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers wrap up the action on NBC. A rematch of last season’s NFC Conference Championship Game, the Seahawks and 49ers both enter this game at 7-4, two games behind NFC West leader Arizona.

 

Seattle currently lays claim to the last Wild Card spot in the NFC, by virtue of a better divisional record than San Francisco. However, the Seahawks have only played two games (1-1) against NFC West foes while the 49ers have played three (1-2). Whichever team wins this game will take at least a one game lead over the other in the playoff standings.

 

In the all-time series, Seattle leads 16-15 thanks to its 23-17 win at home over San Francisco in last season’s conference title game. Jim Harbaugh holds a 4-3 edge over Pete Carroll since they started going head-to-head in the pros in 2011, and Carroll has yet to beat the 49ers at home (0-4). This will be the first game in the series at Levi’s Stadium and these teams will play again up in Seattle in Week 15.

 

Seattle Seahawks at San Francisco 49ers

 

Kickoff: 8:30 p.m. ET

TV Channel: NBC

Spread: San Francisco -1

 

Seattle’s Key to Victory: Play Like It’s 2013

This time last season, the Seahawks were on bye enjoying the fruits of a six-game winning streak that had them sitting at 10-1. They would go just 3-2 after the bye, but that was still good enough to win the NFC West on their way to a dominating playoff run that culminated with a blowout victory over the Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII. That Seattle team was characterized primarily by two things – a suffocating, physical defense and a punishing running game. This season, the Seahawks sputtered out of the gate, as back-to-back losses in the middle of October had them sitting at 3-3. While injuries can be blamed for Seattle’s mediocre start, the Seahawks also had the look of a team that was searching for an identity. Starting in Week 8, Pete Carroll’s team got back to what worked so well for them last season, recommitting to running the football and playing the type of defense that defined it during its championship run. The result is a 4-1 stretch that includes last week’s domination of Arizona, the team with the best record in the NFL. With five games remaining and their playoff fate far from secure, the Seahawks are getting healthy at the right time. More importantly, however, Carroll’s team also appears to be hungry once again, just like it was at this point last season. And we all know how 2013 turned out, right?

 

 

San Francisco’s Key to Victory: Secure the Football

While on paper this is a rematch of last season’s NFC Conference Championship Game, much has changed since then for both teams. Seattle’s struggles have already been documented, while the start of San Francisco’s troubles can be traced back to Jan. 19 when the Seahawks beat the 49ers 23-17 in Seattle to earn a trip to Super Bowl XLVIII. Late in that game, All-Pro linebacker NaVorro Bowman suffered a serious knee injury and has yet to return to the field. San Francisco’s defense has clearly been impacted by his absence and that was before fellow All-Pro Patrick Willis was placed on injured reserve a few weeks ago because of a toe injury. Those aren’t the only losses this defense has had to endure either with another starter (DT Ian Williams) as well as the team’s first-round pick, SS Jimmie Ward, also on IR. A depleted defense has put more pressure on the offense to produce, but the results have been mixed. The 49ers are 7-4 and have won three in a row, but those victories have come by a total of 13 points against teams that are a combined 10-23. San Francisco is not an offensive juggernaut, ranking 19th in total (340.0 ypg) and 22nd in scoring (20.7 ppg) offense, so right now John Harbaugh’s team’s margin of error is rather thin. That’s why ball security is so critical. For the season, the 49ers are tied for fourth with a plus-eight turnover differential, but they are just plus-two over their past five games. They are 3-2 during this stretch, but all of the wins have been close while the two losses were by a total of 28 points to Denver and St. Louis. Seattle enters this game having forced eight takeaways and committing just three turnovers in its past four games. In three games against the 49ers last season, the Seahawks dominated the turnover battle with a plus-six margin. With a shorthanded defense and an inconsistent offense, San Francisco must maximize its possessions. Especially against Seattle, a team that feeds off of the opposition’s mistakes and would love nothing more than to deal a blow to their archrival’s playoff hopes.

 

Final Analysis

 

Seattle and San Francisco have the same record, but the Seahawks currently hold the tiebreaker edge over the 49ers in the playoff standings. There are still plenty of divisional games remaining, but don’t mistake the importance of this one, considering Arizona has a two-game lead in the NFC West on both teams. After an uneven stretch, Seattle has gotten back to the style of football that was so successful last season. San Francisco is hanging tough, but I think the injuries on defense are just too much to overcome, especially against quality teams like the Seahawks. In typical Seattle vs. San Francisco fashion, this game will be close, physical and feisty, but the Seahawks’ defense will eventually wear down the 49ers’ offense with Russell Wilson applying the final blow.

 
Prediction: Seattle 23, San Francisco 17
Teaser:
Seattle Seahawks vs. San Francisco 49ers Preview and Prediction
Post date: Thursday, November 27, 2014 - 12:30
All taxonomy terms: Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions, NFC, NFC North, NFL, News
Path: /nfl/chicago-bears-vs-detroit-lions-preview-and-prediction
Body:

The NFL’s Thanksgiving tripleheader starts off with a classic NFC North matchup when the Chicago Bears take on the Detroit Lions on CBS. Both the Bears (5-6) and the Lions (7-4) are jockeying for playoff positioning, as right now they are on the outside looking in at a potential Wild Card spot and trailing the division-leading Packers.

 

This will be the first of two meetings between these two teams (Week 16 in Chicago) and the 16th time they have faced each other on Thanksgiving Day. Chicago leads this Turkey Day series 8-7. The only team Detroit has faced more on Thanksgiving than Chicago is fellow division rival Green Bay (22 games, Lions are 13-8-1 vs. Packers).

 

Chicago Bears at Detroit Lions

 

Kickoff: 12:30 p.m. ET

TV Channel: CBS

Spread: Detroit -7

 

Chicago’s Key to Victory: Follow New England’s Game Plan

The Bears know full well what the Patriots are capable of, having been on the other end of a 53-21 beatdown in Foxboro back in Week 8. This past Sunday, it was the Lions’ turn, as Tom Brady shredded what was then the NFL’s No. 1 defense for 349 yards passing in a convincing 34-9 win. Prior to this game the most points Detroit had allowed were 24 and the 439 yards of total offense also were a season high. Now no one is going to mistake Jay Cutler for Brady or Chicago’s offense for New England’s, but the Bears would be to wise to put together a pass-heavy game plan. For one, Detroit is tops in rushing defense (70.7 ypg) but 10th in passing defense (233.1 ypg). Secondly, in the Lions’ seven wins only one opponent (New Orleans) has thrown for more than 204 yards. Compare that to the 300 yards passing teams have averaged in Detroit’s four losses. Chicago enters this game 14th in passing offense (246.1 ypg), which is lower than New England (sixth) but higher than Arizona, Carolina and Buffalo, the three other teams Detroit has lost to. In wide receivers Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery, tight end Martellus Bennett and running back Matt Forté, the Bears do match up with the Patriots when it comes to pass-catching weapons. Provided Cutler makes the right decisions and the offensive line holds up against a relentless pass rush, the pieces appear to be in place for Chicago to at least try and follow New England’s blueprint. After all, it worked out pretty well for the Patriots.

 

Detroit’s Key to Victory: Get Offensive

The Lions are 7-4 even though they are scoring less than 18 points per game, a total that places them 28th in the NFL. The defense has been doing most of the heavy lifting this season, holding opponents to a league-low 17.3 points per game and that’s after giving up 34 to the Patriots last week. Detroit hasn’t scored a touchdown since Week 10, managing a total of five field goals in their past two games, losses to Arizona and New England. Even though the Lions aren’t scoring a ton of points, their disparity in wins and losses is still pretty glaring. In seven wins Detroit is averaging 23 points per game. In its four losses that number plummets to just nine. The running game has been inconsistent, but this is still an offense with a Pro Bowl-caliber quarterback (Matthew Stafford) and an All-Pro wide receiver (Calvin Johnson) that finally has a suitable sidekick (Golden Tate). Chicago’s defense has had its share of issues this season. The Bears have given up 50 points on two different occasions and are currently tied with the lowly Jets for 30th in the league in points allowed (27.5 ppg). Points have been a problem lately for the Lions and should that trend continue, especially against a generous defense like Chicago’s, a once-promising season may finish on a disappointing note.

 

Final Analysis

 

Chicago has won its last two games, Detroit has lost theirs. However, the Lions are still two games better than the Bears record-wise and their losses were to a pair of division leaders (Arizona and New England), while Chicago’s wins were against teams (Minnesota and Tampa Bay) that are a combined 6-16. Detroit’s offense has struggled recently, but the Lions have a significant edge on defense. Jay Cutler has played pretty well against Detroit in his career, but I’m not sure the Bears’ offensive line will be able to hold up against the Lions’ disruptive front four. Chicago hangs around, but the Bears’ defense won’t be able to contain Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate, as the Motor City’s new dynamic duo propels the Lions to a much-needed victory.

 
Prediction: Detroit 27, Chicago 20
Teaser:
Chicago Bears vs. Detroit Lions Preview and Prediction
Post date: Thursday, November 27, 2014 - 12:30
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2014-quarterback-rankings-week-13
Body:

Peyton Manning is once again leading everyone in fantasy scoring, but he’s second fiddle to Aaron Rodgers in Athlon Sports’ Fantasy Football Quarterback Rankings for Week 13. Manning has 10 touchdown passes in his last three games, a stretch of performances that has allowed him to move past Andrew Luck to take over the fantasy scoring lead. Rodgers meanwhile has 11 scoring strikes in his last three games and checks in at No. 1 in our rankings this week because of the highly anticipated showdown between him and Tom Brady at Lambeau Field Sunday afternoon. Luck should be able to bounce back from a season-low 19 fantasy points (Athlon scoring) when he takes on Washington at home. Perhaps somewhat of a surprise, Mark Sanchez (at DAL, Thurs.) and Ryan Tannehill (at NYJ, Mon.) also are top-10 options this week because of their respective matchups.

 

Positional Rankings: QB I RB I WR I TE I DST I K

 

2014 NFL Week 13 Fantasy Football Rankings — Quarterbacks

 

RankPlayerTeamOpp
1Aaron RodgersGBvs. NE
2Peyton ManningDENat KC
3Andrew LuckINDvs. WAS
4Tom BradyNEat GB
5Drew BreesNOat PIT
6Tony RomoDALvs. PHI (Thurs.)
7Ben RoethlisbergerPITvs. NO
8Matthew StaffordDETvs. CHI (Thurs.)
9Ryan TannehillMIAat NYJ (Mon.)
10Mark SanchezPHIat DAL (Thurs.)
11Russell WilsonSEAat SF (Thurs.)
12Eli ManningNYGat JAC
13Philip RiversSDat BAL
14Jay CutlerCHIat DET (Thurs.)
15Matt RyanATLvs. ARI
16Alex SmithKCvs. DEN
17Joe FlaccoBALvs. SD
18Cam NewtonCARat MIN
19Josh McCownTBvs. CIN
20Colin KaepernickSFvs. SEA (Thurs.)
21Andy DaltonCINat TB
22Kyle OrtonBUFvs. CLE
23Zach MettenbergerTENat HOU
24Drew StantonARIat ATL
25Brian HoyerCLEat BUF
26Teddy BridgewaterMINvs. CAR

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

All touchdowns are 6 points
1 point for 25 yards passing
1 point for 10 yards rushing/receiving
Receptions are .5 points
Interceptions/fumbles are minus-2 points

 

Need more fantasy help? Visit www.FantasyRundown.com.

Teaser:
Fantasy Football 2014 Quarterback Rankings: Week 13
Post date: Wednesday, November 26, 2014 - 14:00
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2014-running-back-rankings-week-13
Body:

Le’Veon Bell trails DeMarco Murray by more than 400 yards for the NFL lead in rushing but he’s our choice to head up Athlon Sports’ Fantasy Football Running Back Rankings for Week 13. Bell is coming off of a career-best 204 yards rushing in his last game and on Sunday faces a Saints defense that gave up 182 to Justin Forsett on Monday night. Forsett has come from nowhere to rank third with 903 yards rushing and is a must-start option this week against the Chargers. Murray will look to extend his league-leading yardage total on Thanksgiving against the Eagles while LeSean McCoy hopes to build off of last week’s 130-yard effort. Another entertaining RB matchup to keep an eye on is Sunday night’s Denver vs. Kansas City tilt. C.J. Anderson and Jamaal Charles combined for 247 yards rushing and two touchdowns last week against the Dolphins and Raiders, respectively.

 

Positional Rankings: QB I RB I WR I TE I DST I K

 

2014 NFL Week 13 Fantasy Football Rankings — Running Backs

 

RankPlayerTeamOpp
1Le'Veon BellPITvs. NO
2DeMarco MurrayDALvs. PHI (Thurs.)
3Jamaal CharlesKCvs. DEN
4Eddie LacyGBvs. NE
5Matt ForteCHIat DET (Thurs.)
6LeSean McCoyPHIat DAL (Thurs.)
7Justin ForsettBALvs. SD
8C.J. AndersonDENat KC
9Marshawn LynchSEAat SF (Thurs.)
10Alfred MorrisWASat IND
11Andre EllingtonARIat ATL
12Arian FosterHOUvs. TEN
13Denard RobinsonJACvs. NYG
14Rashad JenningsNYGat JAC
15Mark IngramNOat PIT
16Jeremy HillCINat TB
17Tre MasonSTLvs. OAK
18Ryan MathewsSDat BAL
19Isaiah CrowellCLEat BUF
20Giovani BernardCINat TB
21Lamar MillerMIAat NYJ (Mon.)
22Joique BellDETvs. CHI (Thurs.)
23Fred JacksonBUFvs. CLE
24Daniel HerronINDvs. WAS
25Frank GoreSFvs. SEA (Thurs.)
26Latavius MurrayOAKat STL
27Trent RichardsonINDvs. WAS
28Jerick McKinnonMINvs. CAR
29Shane VereenNEat GB
30Steven JacksonATLvs. ARI
31Chris IvoryNYJvs. MIA (Mon.)
32LeGarrette BlountNEat GB
33Darren SprolesPHIat DAL (Thurs.)
34Bishop SankeyTENat HOU
35Jonathan StewartCARat MIN
36Terrance WestCLEat BUF
37Doug MartinTBvs. CIN
38Reggie BushDETvs. CHI (Thurs.)
39Charles SimsTBvs. CIN
40Pierre ThomasNOat PIT
41DeAngelo WilliamsCARat MIN
42Jonas GrayNEat GB
43Anthony DixonBUFvs. CLE
44Alfred BlueHOUvs. TEN
45Branden OliverSDat BAL
46Carlos HydeSFvs. SEA (Thurs.)
47Andre WilliamsNYGat JAC
48Darren McFaddenOAKat STL

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

All touchdowns are 6 points
1 point for 25 yards passing
1 point for 10 yards rushing/receiving
Receptions are .5 points
Interceptions/fumbles are minus-2 points

 

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Teaser:
Fantasy Football 2014 Running Back Rankings: Week 13
Post date: Wednesday, November 26, 2014 - 14:00

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