Articles By Mark Ross

Path: /nfl/dallas-cowboys-vs-philadelphia-eagles-preview-and-prediction-2014

More than just first place in the NFC East is at stake when the Dallas Cowboys take on the Philadelphia Eagles tonight on NBC. The Eagles (9-4) currently hold the tiebreaker over the Cowboys (9-4) for the division lead, thanks to their 33-10 win in Dallas on Thanksgiving. What’s more, the loser of this game could be on the outside looking in at a Wild Card spot, depending on the outcome of Seattle and Detroit’s (both also 9-4 entering today) games.


It was just a little more than two weeks ago when Philadelphia manhandled Dallas 33-10 at AT&T Stadium on Thanksgiving. The Eagles dominated the Cowboys in all facets of that game, but came down to earth last week, losing 24-14 at home to the Seahawks. Dallas, on the other hand, bounced back from its Turkey Day thrashing with a dominating 41-28 road win in Chicago.


Last December, Philadelphia beat Dallas 24-22 at Lincoln Financial Field in the regular-season finale. The Eagles had already clinched the NFC East title prior to that game, while the loss put Dallas at 8-8 for a third straight season.


Dallas Cowboys vs. Philadelphia Eagles


Kickoff: 8:30 p.m. ET

TV Channel: NBC

Spread: Philadelphia -3.5


Dallas’ Key to Victory: Forget Thanksgiving

Nothing went right for the Cowboys in the 33-10 loss to the Eagles on Thanksgiving. Not only were they outgained 464 to 267 on offense, the 10 points scored were a season-worst while the 33 allowed were the most Dallas’ defense had given up. Two Tony Romo interceptions and a Cole Beasley fumble in Cowboys territory certainly didn’t help, but one of the surprising outcomes of that game was how the Eagles won the battle up front. Philadelphia’s defense not only held NFL rushing leader DeMarco Murray to a season-low 73 yards, the unit also sacked Tony Romo four times. Fortunately, Dallas’ young, but extremely talented, offensive line bounced back strong last Thursday against the Bears, as Murray rushed for 179 yards and Romo was sacked just once in the 41-28 road win. The key tonight will be for all of the Cowboys, but especially the offensive line, to forget about what went wrong two weeks ago against these Eagles and focus instead on what they did right last week.


Philadelphia’s Key to Victory: Remember Thanksgiving

The Eagles had gained more yards and scored more points in a game prior to their 33-10 demolition of the Cowboys on Thanksgiving, but this was their best, all-around performance against a team with a winning record. Philadelphia outrushed Dallas 356 to 93, limiting DeMarco Murray, the NFL’s No. 1 rusher to a season-low 73 yards. The defense also produced three takeaways and held the Cowboys to just 267 yards of total offense. Unfortunately, the Eagles followed that up with a dud, losing to Seattle 24-14 at home last week. The Seahawks dominated time of possession (41:56) and the defense did the rest, limiting Philadelphia’s offense to nine first downs and 139 total yards on 45 plays. The yardage and first down totals were the fewest in Chip Kelly’s tenure as the Eagles’ head coach. Fortunately for Philadelphia, Dallas’ defense isn’t near as fearsome as Seattle’s “Legion of Boom,” and the Eagles are a little more than two weeks removed from dominating the Cowboys on both sides of the ball. Facing a familiar foe may be just what the Eagles need to start soaring again.


Final Analysis


Dallas and Philadelphia have the same record, but the Eagles have a win over the Cowboys already in their back pocket and are a perfect 3-0 against NFC East foes. The Cowboys need this win more, but whichever team loses could face a challenging path to one of the two Wild Card spots. Philadelphia is coming off of a tough loss, but Seattle has a much tougher defense than what Dallas will bring to Lincoln Financial Field. Even if the Eagles aren’t able to bottle up DeMarco Murray like they did on Thanksgiving, they should be able to muster enough offense to earn the critical season sweep of the Cowboys and put them one win away from securing a second straight division crown.

Prediction: Philadelphia 31, Dallas 27
Dallas Cowboys vs. Philadelphia Eagles Preview and Prediction
Post date: Sunday, December 14, 2014 - 09:00
Path: /nfl/cincinnati-bengals-vs-cleveland-browns-preview-and-prediction

Don’t underestimate the significance of today’s matchup between the Cincinnati Bengals and Cleveland Browns on FOX. Yes, it’s Johnny Manziel’s much-anticipated (and equally debated) first NFL start, but the Bengals (8-4-1) also need a win to keep the Steelers and Ravens (both 8-5) at bay for at least another week. For the Browns (7-6), their situation is a little more desperate – they need a win to keep their fading playoff hopes alive.


Cincinnati Bengals at Cleveland Browns


Kickoff: 1 p.m. ET

TV Channel: FOX

Spread: Cleveland -1.5


Make no mistake, all eyes will be on Manziel, the flamboyant, media lightning rod who replaces an ineffective Brian Hoyer. What Cleveland’s offense will look like with Manziel at the helm is anyone’s guess, but keep in mind that offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan was in Washington when Robert Griffin III was the Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2012.


If anyone knows how to construct an offense around a quarterback with dual-threat abilities it’s Shanahan. It will be up to Manziel to execute the game plan and make the right decisions, particularly when to use his mobility to extend a play in the pocket or to try and gain as much yards with his legs out of it.


On the other side, Cincinnati’s defense no doubt wants to get after Manziel, and not necessarily to sack him. The thought is that any pressure placed on the rookie would either cause him to try to force a throw down field or make him so uncomfortable that he starts bailing early, essentially turning the Browns into a run-only offense.


The potential downside to this strategy, however, is twofold. One, the Bengals’ defense is dead last in the league in sacks with 15. The second part is that Manziel, similar to Griffin, had a reputation for making something out of nothing in college and certainly possesses the ability (i.e., athleticism and instinct) to make plays with his legs. And any success he has in doing so early will only increase his confidence as the game progresses.


And speaking of confidence, Cleveland did beat Cincinnati 24-3 on the road back in Week 10. The Browns outgained the Bengals 368 to 165 in that game and also intercepted Andy Dalton three times. Three different running backs scored a touchdown for Cleveland and whether it’s Manziel or Isaiah Crowell or Terrance West, the Browns need to try and replicate that success today on the ground against a defense that gave up 193 yards rushing to the Steelers last week.


Cincinnati may want to take a page out of Cleveland’s playbook for this matchup, as the Bengals have decided to turn to rookie Jeremy Hill as their primary running back. Hill, a second-round pick from LSU, who had been pushed into starting duty earlier because of injuries suffered by Giovani Bernard, does have two 150-yard games to his credit and is averaging 4.8 yards per carry.


Hill’s production is needed, as it would free up Bernard to be a threat in the passing game, especially since All-Pro wide receiver A.J. Green is facing a tough matchup against Pro Bowl cornerback Joe Haden. Haden limited Green to just three catches (on 10 targets) for 23 yards in their first meeting.


All of the buzz surrounding this game may be centered on Manziel, but I just don’t think Johnny Football is quite ready for the NFL stage. Cincinnati’s defense bounces back from last week’s second-half collapse against Pittsburgh by introducing the rookie to the big leagues. A balanced offensive attack led by Dalton and Hill does the rest, as the Bengals maintain their AFC North lead by putting an end to Cleveland’s own postseason dreams.


Prediction: Cincinnati 24, Cleveland 17


Cincinnati Bengals vs. Cleveland Browns Preview and Prediction
Post date: Sunday, December 14, 2014 - 09:00
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy Football, injury updates, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /fantasy/week-15-fantasy-football-injury-updates-eli-manning-jamaal-charles-arian-foster-colt-mccoy

For many fantasy leagues, Week 15 also is championship week. Athlon Sports is here to help you sort through all of the injury reports that are out there, including these key RBs and QBs.


Jamaal Charles, RB, Kansas City Chiefs vs. Oakland Raiders

Probable – Knee/Ankle
Charles is showing the wear and tear that adds up over a long season. After dealing with some swelling in his knee, he’s added swelling in his ankle to the list. He was rested on Wednesday, eased back into practice on Thursday, but was a full go on Friday and is Probable. There seems to be no concerns regarding his availability, so he should be safe to employ as a RB1. After being held in check by Denver (35 yds. rushing), Charles bounced back with 111 total yards and two touchdowns last week against Arizona. The Raiders have been a good matchup for fantasy RBs this season, so Charles should be able to pay off for his owners at the best time possible.

Eli Manning, QB, New York Giants vs. Washington Redskins

Probable – Back
Manning has the longest active streak of consecutive regular-season games started (164), so anytime he even shows up on the injury report, it’s news. However, Manning’s streak will remain intact at least another week, as he was able to practice some every day despite the back issue, and is listed as Probable. The real question is should you start the younger Manning on your fantasy team? Odell Beckham Jr. has been a beast lately and Washington has given up the most fantasy points to opposing QBs, including a robust 40.1 to Manning back in Week 4. So I would certainly consider it.


Arian Foster, RB, Houston Texans at Indianapolis Colts

Probable – Groin
Foster was held out of practice on Wednesday, but was a full go by Friday and is listed as Probable. He rushed for 127 yards last week against Jacksonville and went for 109 and two touchdowns in the first game against Indianapolis back in Week 6. Foster is a must-start RB1.


Colt McCoy, QB, Washington Redskins at New York Giants

­Questionable – Neck
McCoy may be listed as Questionable, but the team has already said he’s been cleared to play and will start today against the Giants. He suffered the injury (aggravated nerve) late last week and wasn’t able to finish the game. McCoy was limited in practice both Wednesday and Thursday, adding to the speculation that the embattled Robert Griffin III would get another chance after all. But McCoy was cleared Friday when he took part in a full practice. McCoy may be starting for the Redskins, but he should not be starting for your fantasy team.


Already Ruled Out:


Denard Robinson, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars – Robinson was placed on injured reserve earlier this week because of a foot sprain, ending what was a solid campaign. With Robinson sidelined, Toby Gerhart (Probable, Ankle), Jordan Todman and rookie Storm Johnson will handle the workload. In other words, it’s the dreaded RBBC and to make matters worse, the Jaguars are playing the Ravens, who have given up the fewest fantasy points to opposing RBs this season. Avoid at all costs.

Week 15 Fantasy Football Injury Updates: Eli Manning, Jamaal Charles, Arian Foster, Colt McCoy
Post date: Sunday, December 14, 2014 - 06:30
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy Football, injury updates, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-week-15-injury-updates-eddie-lacy-jonathan-stewart-isaiah-crowell-cam

A trio of running backs are dealing with hip injuries entering Week 15. Are any of these bad enough to keep a key Packer, Panther or Brown ball carrier from playing?


Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams, RBs, Carolina Panthers vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Probable – Hip; Doubtful – Hand
Williams missed last week because of a broken bone in his hand and he’s probably another week away from returning. He’s listed as Doubtful, but there’s no reason to really expect him to play. Stewart was limited earlier in the week by a hip injury, but got two full practices in and is listed as Probable. He will get the start again and all he did last week was torch the Saints for 155 yards and a touchdown. Not sure he can repeat those numbers, but he has another appealing matchup this week in Tampa Bay. Stewart is certainly flex-worthy and could suffice as a RB2, depending on your other options. Mike Tolbert and Fozzy Whitaker probably won’t get enough touches to merit serious fantasy consideration.


Eddie Lacy, RB, Green Bay Packers at Buffalo Bills

Probable – Hip
Lacy is dealing with a hip injury that not only limited his practice participation, it had the player suggesting earlier this week that perhaps sitting a game out would be in his best interests. As it stands, Lacy is listed as Probable, so it looks like he will be out there today. However, it’s reasonable to expect Lacy and James Starks to share the carries, which would mean fewer touches. Lacy was facing a tough matchup to begin with, as the Bills are giving up the third-fewest fantasy points to RBs. If you want to stick with Lacy, you should be fine, but he’s nothing more than a RB2 this week and probably more along the lines of a solid flex play because of the combination of his hip injury and unfavorable matchup.


Isaiah Crowell, RB, Cleveland Browns vs. Cincinnati Bengals

Questionable – Hip
As expected, Crowell played last week despite being Questionable. He finished with 54 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries. Even more important, Crowell escaped no worse for the wear, as he’s listed Probable for today’s game. Crowell is still splitting the carries with Terrance West, but he remains the Browns’ most productive back and could see even more running space today because of the switch to Johnny Manziel at quarterback. The Bengals have given up the second-most fantasy points to opposing RBs, so Crowell makes for an intriguing RB2 option this week.


Shane Vereen, RB, New England Patriots vs. Miami Dolphins

Questionable – Ankle
Vereen remains limited by an ankle injury and is listed as Questionable. He played last week under the same set of circumstances and produced a grand total of 31 yards on four touches against San Diego. Vereen was put in the flex category last week and there’s no reason to change that for today’s game against the Dolphins.

Already Ruled Out:


Cam Newton, QB, Carolina Panthers – Newton suffered two back fractures in a car accident on Tuesday and the question now is has he played his last game of this season? Derek Anderson will start in Newton’s absence and could be flyer-worthy as a QB2 because of his appealing matchup against the Buccaneers. Anderson’s presence also should mean more work for the running backs, namely Jonathan Stewart, as Anderson is not near as mobile as Newton.

Fantasy Football Week 15 Injury Updates: Eddie Lacy, Jonathan Stewart, Isaiah Crowell, Cam Newton
Post date: Sunday, December 14, 2014 - 06:30
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy Football, injury updates, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /fantasy/week-15-fantasy-football-injury-updates-ryan-mathews-cj-anderson-marshawn-lynch-reggie-bush

Some banged-up running backs are on tap for Week 15’s later slate of games. Are of any of these ball carriers in danger of not suiting up?


C.J. Anderson, Montee Ball, Ronnie Hillman and Juwan Thompson RBs, Denver Broncos at San Diego Chargers

Probable – Ankle; Out – Groin; Questionable – Foot; Probable – Knee
So many Bronco ball carriers on the injury report. Where to start? How about with Ball, who on Saturday was placed on injured reserve to make room for linebacker Danny Trevathan. Hillman (right) has missed the past four games himself, but he was able to practice on a limited basis this week and is listed as Questionable. Even if Hillman plays, his role figures to be limited because of the emergence of Anderson, who’s dealing with an ankle injury but is Probable and will get the start today. Hillman’s return could impact Thompson’s workload, but he wasn’t really getting enough work to merit serious fantasy consideration in the first place. Anderson is the Bronco back that matters here, in our book.


Ryan Mathews, RB, San Diego Chargers vs. Denver Broncos

Questionable – Ankle
Mathews suffered an ankle injury late in the first half of last week’s game against New England and wound up with just two carries after that. He wasn’t able to practice at all this week, so while he may be listed as Questionable, I think it’s safe to put “Very” in front of that. If Mathews can’t go, then Branden Oliver, Donald Brown and Ronnie Brown would take care of the backfield work. Oliver impressed earlier in the season when Mathews was dealing with a knee sprain, but he has cooled considerably, which is why it would be more of a committee approach this afternoon against Denver. With the later kickoff (4:05 p.m. ET) and so much at stake, I wouldn’t count on having Mathews available and I probably wouldn’t give much consideration to any of his replacement options either.


Marshawn Lynch, RB, Seattle Seahawks vs. San Francisco 49ers

Probable – Back
Lynch didn’t practice on Wednesday, was limited on Thursday and a full go on Friday. In other words, it was a normal week for the Seahawks’ workhorse. He’s listed as Probable and there’s no way he’s missing the rematch against his team’s archrival. Lynch rushed for 104 yards against the 49ers on Thanksgiving just a few weeks ago and even though San Francisco’s defense has continued to play well, Lynch remains a must-start RB1, who’s entrenched in .


Reggie Bush, RBs, Detroit Lions at Minnesota Vikings

Questionable – Ankle
Bush can’t catch a break. After playing in his first game since Week 10, he’s not only back on the injury report; his status also is Questionable once again. The coaching staff probably chose to limit Bush in practice to protect his body, but this has become an all too common refrain for him. He is expected to play, but the only way I would even consider using him would be as a flex, and that’s only after checking all other available options first.

Week 15 Fantasy Football Injury Updates: Ryan Mathews, C.J. Anderson, Marshawn Lynch, Reggie Bush
Post date: Sunday, December 14, 2014 - 06:30
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy Football, injury updates, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-week-15-injury-updates-julio-jones-andre-johnson-torrey-smith-desean

Julio Jones went off on Monday night, but a hip injury has him Questionable entering Week 15. Andre Johnson suffered a concussion last week and it looks like he hasn’t been completely cleared quite yet. Here’s the latest on their injury situations and some other key WRs.


Andre Johnson, WR, Houston Texans at Indianapolis Colts

Questionable – Concussion
This one could come down to the wire. Johnson left last week’s game after suffering a concussion and as of Saturday, he was still working his way through the league-mandated tests. He did participate in practice on Friday, which is a positive sign, but he’s listed as Questionable and whether he plays or not will be determined by how he does with the necessary tests. If Johnson does get cleared to play, you should go ahead and start him, in spite of Ryan Fitzpatrick’s lack of consistency (6 TD passes in Week 13, 0 in Week 14).


Harry Douglas, Julio Jones and Roddy White, WRs, Atlanta Falcons vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

Probable – Foot; Questionable – Hip; Probable – Ankle
Falcon wide receivers have made frequent appearances on injury reports this season and Week 15 is no exception. The big concern here lies with Jones, who is coming off a franchise-record 250 yards receiving Monday night against Green Bay. As impressive as he was, Jones wasn’t able to finish the game due to a hip pointer. The issue prevented him from practicing, but he is listed as Questionable. Head coach Mike Smith called Jones a game-time decision, but he also added that he wants “the doctors and the people to say” that his All-Pro wide receiver is OK to play. Fortunately, word should come down well before kickoff (1 p.m. ET), so Jones’ owners can wait until making a final decision. If Jones doesn’t play both Douglas and White’s fantasy values would go up. White would become an even more appealing WR2, while Douglas could creep into WR3 territory because of the matchup against a generous Steelers defense.


Torrey Smith, WR, Baltimore Ravens vs. Jacksonville Jaguars

Probable – Knee
There seems to be some confusion with Smith’s official status, but we’re going with what the Ravens’ site lists, which is Probable. However, if reports from practice are true, Smith did not look like someone ready to play, appearing “gimpy and uncomfortable” running routes on an injured knee. What’s more, Smith didn’t see a single target last week, so it’s possible that even if he does play that he could either be on a snap count and/or go catch-less yet again. Put it all together and it sounds like too much risk to assume in a week with so much on the line. If you’re going to trust a Raven named Smith this week, make it Steve Sr.


DeSean Jackson, WR, Washington Redskins at New York Giants

Questionable – Shin
Jackson didn’t play last week, but there’s a chance he could get on the field today. He’s listed as Questionable after practicing on a limited basis, a designation that head coach Jay Gruden echoed when he put the odds of Jackson playing at 50-50. Even if Jackson does play, he’s not an appealing fantasy option, especially with Colt McCoy, who doesn’t have the strongest arm, .

Julian Edelman and Brandon LaFell, WRs, New England Patriots vs. Miami Dolphins

Questionable – Thigh; Questionable – Shoulder
For the second straight week both Edelman and LaFell were limited in practice, both are listed as Questionable for today’s game and both are expected to play. This duo combined for 12 catches for 182 yards and a touchdown last week against San Diego, with Edelman (8-141-1) accounting for most of the damage. Edelman is more appealing than LaFell as a fantasy option because of his PPR potential, but neither should be viewed as anything more than a low-end WR2 or safer WR3/flex option.

Fantasy Football Week 15 Injury Updates: Julio Jones, Andre Johnson, Torrey Smith, DeSean Jackson
Post date: Sunday, December 14, 2014 - 06:30
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy Football, injury updates, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /fantasy/week-15-fantasy-football-injury-updates-demaryius-thomas-calvin-johnson-kendall-wright-percy

There are just four later afternoon games on the Week 15 docket, but these matchups feature some pretty important wide receivers. Be sure to read the latest information on these situations before finalizing your lineup.

Calvin Johnson, WR, Detroit Lions at Minnesota Vikings

Probable – Ankle
I don’t think anyone’s surprised to see Johnson remain on the injury report. I also would be even more surprised if he didn’t play today, considering he got in two full practices and is listed as Probable. If you have Johnson on your team, you have the easy part – start him. It’s the Vikings’ secondary that has the tough assignment.

Demaryius Thomas, WR, Denver Broncos at San Diego Chargers

Probable – Ankle
Thomas joined teammate C.J. Anderson in on the sidelines during Wednesday’s practice, but both were full participants on Friday. Thomas is listed as Probable and he will play this afternoon. Thomas may not admit it, but it’s safe to say the ankle was an issue last week when he caught a season-low two passes for 11 yards. Even with the uncertainty regarding the condition of his ankle, Thomas is an elite WR1 that must be started. Maybe it helps to know that he caught eight balls for 105 yards the first time he faced the Chargers?

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

Questionable – Hand
Wright didn’t play last week after cracking a bone in his right hand during practice. He was a limited participant on Wednesday and Thursday, but wasn’t able to take part on Friday. Anytime a player’s participation decreases by the end of the week, it’s not a good sign. Wright is Questionable, but I would place the odds of him not playing better than those of him suiting up. Regardless, the Titans are a mess right now, especially at quarterback. Jake Locker, who was the initial starter, is back in there after rookie Zach Mettenberger suffered a season-ending shoulder injury. Locker was replaced for a variety of reasons, but his return hasn’t really done anything to jumpstart this offense. In short, I would be very wary of trusting any Titan offensive player on my fantasy team.


Percy Harvin, WR, New York Jets at Tennessee Titans

Questionable – Ankle
After reportedly being seen on crutches following last week’s game, Harvin has shown some remarkable improvement. He didn’t practice Wednesday or Thursday, but was able to do enough work on Friday to earn him a Questionable designation. There’s no guarantee Harvin will play and between the later kickoff (4:05 p.m. ET), inconsistent production and questions concerning QB Geno Smith, there’s really no reason to have Harvin in your starting lineup. Are you going to put your season’s fate in Harvin’s “questionable” hands?

Already Ruled Out:


Brandon Marshall, WRs, Chicago Bears – Marshall was taken off the field on a stretcher last week and immediately to a hospital after suffering rib and lung injuries on a hit during the Bears’ loss to the Cowboys. He did get out of the hospital earlier this week, but his season is over after being placed on injured reserve. Alshon Jeffery already was a WR1 before Marshall’s injury, which does present an opportunity to Marquess Wilson. However, with Chicago not playing until Monday night, there’s no real reason to take a chance on Wilson this week, unless he’s your Marshall replacement.

Week 15 Fantasy Football Injury Updates: Demaryius Thomas, Calvin Johnson, Kendall Wright, Percy Harvin
Post date: Sunday, December 14, 2014 - 06:30
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy Football, injury updates, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-week-15-injury-updates-julius-thomas-greg-olsen-charles-clay-jermaine

It’s Week 15, which means every game truly counts from there out. Fortunately for Julius Thomas owners, they should get their big tight end back on the field today, while Greg Olsen must navigate a quarterback switch. Here’s the TE injury rundown for today’s games.


Greg Olsen, TE, Carolina Panthers vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Probable – Knee
Olsen was Questionable last week and he caught 10 passes for 72 yards and a touchdown. The knee is still an issue, but he was a full practice participant on Friday and is listed as Probable. Even with the Panthers starting Derek Anderson at quarterback in place of an , Olsen’s production shouldn’t dip that much. He’s still a must-start TE1.


Julius Thomas, TE, Denver Broncos at San Diego Chargers

Probable – Ankle
After missing the past two games, Thomas was in uniform last week against the Bills, but he never played a single snap. That should change today, as he was able to get in a full practice on Friday and is listed as Probable. Thomas’ return could help jumpstart a passing game that’s taken a back seat to the ground game lately, while also taking some pressure off of teammate Demaryius Thomas, who is dealing with his own ankle injury. Despite missing three games, Julius Thomas is still the No. 6 scoring fantasy TE and is tied with Jordy Nelson for the most TD catches in the NFL (12). You probably already know this, but Thomas must be started if he’s on your team.


Charles Clay, TE, Miami Dolphins at New England Patriots

Questionable – Hamstring/Knee
Clay was able to return last week after missing the past two games and caught two passes for 41 yards. However, he’s not over his injuries, which continue to limit him in practice and have him listed as Questionable today. Again with Clay, it’s more the up-and-down production than health issues that put him in the “do not bother with” category.


Jermaine Gresham, TE, Cincinnati Bengals at Cleveland Browns

Questionable – Toe
Gresham didn’t appear on the injury report until Thursday, but this toe injury was bad enough to hold him out on Friday. He’s listed as Questionable, but the decline in activity is always a disconcerting sign. Gresham’s starting because Tyler Eifert is on IR, so it’s not like Gresham has mass fantasy appeal either. There’s no reason for Gresham to be on your roster, let alone started.


Jace Amaro, TE, New York Jets at Tennessee Titans

Probable – Concussion
Amaro was a full practice participant on Thursday and Friday and is listed as Probable. He will return from a two-game absence this afternoon. If you want to use Amaro in your lineup, relying on Geno Smith to get him the ball enough to put some useful statistics together, you go right ahead.

Fantasy Football Week 15 Injury Updates: Julius Thomas, Greg Olsen, Charles Clay, Jermaine Gresham
Post date: Sunday, December 14, 2014 - 06:30
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2014-quarterback-rankings-week-15

Andrew Luck is the leading fantasy scorer and he leads off Athlon Sports’ Fantasy Football Quarterback Rankings for Week 15, but it’s the signal-callers from the NFC South that have our attention. Matt Ryan tossed four touchdowns and posted a season-best 39.3 fantasy points on Monday night against Green Bay and could be in for another big game Sunday when Atlanta hosts Pittsburgh. As impressive as Ryan’s outing was, it wasn’t the top-scoring effort among QBs. That honor goes to Cam Newton, who accounted for four touchdowns (3 rush, 1 pass) in the Panthers’ 41-10 rout of the Saints. Newton would have been a top-10 option this week, but he sustained two fractures in his lower back in a car accident on Tuesday. Head coach Ron Rivera announced on Wednesday that Derek Anderson would start in Newton's place against Tampa Bay on Sunday. And speaking of the Saints, Drew Brees and company look to rebound Monday night in Chicago when they go up against the NFL’s most generous defense. New Orleans hasn’t been much better defensively, so this should be a nice matchup for Jay Cutler too.


Positional Rankings: I I I I I


2014 NFL Week 15 Fantasy Football Rankings — Quarterbacks


1Andrew LuckINDvs. HOU
2Peyton ManningDENat SD
3Aaron RodgersGBat BUF
4Drew BreesNOat CHI (Mon.)
5Tom BradyNEvs. MIA
6Matt RyanATLvs. PIT
7Ben RoethlisbergerPITat ATL
8Matthew StaffordDETvs. MIN
9Jay CutlerCHIvs. NO (Mon.)
10Russell WilsonSEAvs. SF
11Philip RiversSDvs. DEN
12Tony RomoDALat PHI
13Mark SanchezPHIvs. DAL
14Eli ManningNYGvs. WAS
15Joe FlaccoBALvs. JAC
16Ryan TannehillMIAat NE
17Andy DaltonCINat CLE
18Johnny ManzielCLEvs. CIN
19Kyle OrtonBUFvs. GB
20Ryan FitzpatrickHOUat IND
21Derek AndersonCARvs. TB
22Colin KaepernickSFat SEA
23Alex SmithKCvs. OAK
24Blake BortlesJACat BAL
25Derek CarrOAKat KC
26Jake LockerTENvs. 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 Quarterback Rankings: Week 15
Post date: Thursday, December 11, 2014 - 06:30
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2014-running-back-rankings-week-15

Le’Veon Bell is on a historic run right now, so it’s only fitting that he lead off Athlon Sports’ Fantasy Football Running Back Rankings for Week 15. Bell has gone over 200 yards from scrimmage in three straight games; something that hasn’t been done since Hall of Walter Payton accomplished the feat in 1977. During this stretch, Bell has rushed for 484 yards (6.1 ypc), caught 16 passes for 227 yards and scored five total touchdowns. His 44.5 fantasy points last week were not only the most by a RB, but the most by any player. Bell is now the leading fantasy scorer at his position, passing DeMarco Murray, and the good times may not be over just yet. Next up for Bell is a matchup with Atlanta. The Falcons are dead last in the NFL in total defense and also are giving up the most fantasy points to opposing RBs.


Positional Rankings: I I I I I


2014 NFL Week 15 Fantasy Football Rankings — Running Backs


1Le'Veon BellPITat ATL
2Arian FosterHOUat IND
3Jamaal CharlesKCvs. OAK
4Matt ForteCHIvs. NO (Mon.)
5DeMarco MurrayDALat PHI
6LeSean McCoyPHIvs. DAL
7C.J. AndersonDENat SD
8Justin ForsettBALvs. JAC
9Marshawn LynchSEAvs. SF
10Eddie LacyGBat BUF
11Joique BellDETvs. MIN
12Alfred MorrisWASat NYG
13Mark IngramNOat CHI (Mon.)
14Chris IvoryNYJat TEN
15Rashad JenningsNYGvs. WAS
16Latavius MurrayOAKat KC
17Isaiah CrowellCLEvs. CIN
18LeGarrette BlountNEvs. MIA
19Jeremy HillCINat CLE
20Daniel HerronINDvs. HOU
21Fred JacksonBUFvs. GB
22Ryan MathewsSDvs. DEN
23Jonathan StewartCARvs. TB
24Steven JacksonATLvs. PIT
25Lamar MillerMIAat NE
26Tre MasonSTLvs. ARI (Thurs.)
27Giovani BernardCINat CLE
28Terrance WestCLEvs. CIN
29Chris JohnsonNYJat TEN
30Andre WilliamsNYGvs. WAS
31Doug MartinTBat CAR
32Frank GoreSFat SEA
33Shane VereenNEvs. MIA
34Matt AsiataMINat DET
35Bishop SankeyTENvs. NYJ
36Toby GerhartJACat BAL
37Trent RichardsonINDvs. HOU
38Reggie BushDETvs. MIN
39Kerwynn WilliamsARIat STL (Thurs.)
40Darren SprolesPHIvs. DAL
41Pierre ThomasNOat CHI (Mon.)
42Stepfan TaylorARIat STL (Thurs.)
43Ben TateMINat DET
44Charles SimsTBat CAR
45James StarksGBat BUF
46Juwan ThompsonDENat SD
47Alfred BlueHOUat IND
48Bernard PierceBALvs. JAC

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 15
Post date: Thursday, December 11, 2014 - 06:30
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2014-wide-receiver-rankings-week-15

Julio Jones set the pace last week, but even his record-setting performance wasn’t enough to knock Antonio Brown from atop Athlon Sports’ Fantasy Football Wide Receiver Rankings for Week 15. Jones was unstoppable on Monday night against the Packers, setting a Falcons single-game record with 250 yards (11 rec.) and a touchdown. Jones left the game early after injuring his hip, but at this point we’re not too concerned, hence his No. 6 ranking. Jones wasn’t the only wide receiver who filled the stat sheet last week either. A total of four wideouts scored 30 or more fantasy points, including A.J. Green. Injuries have impacted Green’s production for much of this season, but he looked plenty healthy against Pittsburgh, torching the Steelers for 11 catches and 224 yards, including an 81-yard touchdown. Green will face a little tougher matchup this Sunday against Cleveland’s Joe Haden, but he’s still a borderline top-10 option. And as far as Brown is concerned, he’s still leading his position in fantasy points and the NFL in receptions (105), while ranking second in both yards (1,375) and touchdown catches (11). It should be business as usual for Brown, as the Steelers will be in Atlanta to take on the Falcons’ 32nd-ranked defense.


Positional Rankings: I I I I I


2014 NFL Week 15 Fantasy Football Rankings — Wide Receivers


1Antonio BrownPITat ATL
2Calvin JohnsonDETvs. MIN
3Demaryius ThomasDENat SD
4Jordy NelsonGBat BUF
5Odell Beckham Jr.NYGvs. WAS
6Julio JonesATLvs. PIT
7Dez BryantDALat PHI
8T.Y. HiltonINDvs. HOU
9Alshon JefferyCHIvs. NO (Mon.)
10Emmanuel SandersDENat SD
11A.J. GreenCINat CLE
12Jeremy MaclinPHIvs. DAL
13Mike EvansTBat CAR
14Randall CobbGBat BUF
15Josh GordonCLEvs. CIN
16DeAndre HopkinsHOUat IND
17Roddy WhiteATLvs. PIT
18Kelvin BenjaminCARvs. TB
19Sammy WatkinsBUFvs. GB
20Julian EdelmanNEvs. MIA
21Jordan MatthewsPHIvs. DAL
22Keenan AllenSDvs. DEN
23Golden TateDETvs. MIN
24Brandon LaFellNEvs. MIA
25Kenny StillsNOat CHI (Mon.)
26Steve SmithBALvs. JAC
27Vincent JacksonTBat CAR
28Mike WallaceMIAat NE
29Marques ColstonNOat CHI (Mon.)
30Andre JohnsonHOUat IND
31Eric DeckerNYJat TEN
32Martavis BryantPITat ATL
33DeSean JacksonWASat NYG
34Donte MoncriefINDvs. HOU
35Pierre GarconWASat NYG
36Anquan BoldinSFat SEA
37Larry FitzgeraldARIat STL (Thurs.)
38Torrey SmithBALvs. JAC
39Jarvis LandryMIAat NE
40Marqise LeeJACat BAL
41Charles JohnsonMINat DET
42Marquess WilsonCHIvs. NO (Mon.)
43Nate WashingtonTENvs. NYJ
44Malcom FloydSDvs. DEN
45Kendall WrightTENvs. NYJ
46Robert WoodsBUFvs. GB
47Doug BaldwinSEAvs. SF
48Michael FloydARIat STL (Thurs.)

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 15
Post date: Thursday, December 11, 2014 - 06:30
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2014-tight-end-rankings-week-15

It’s been a slow couple of games for Jimmy Graham, but it’s going to take a lot more to knock him from his lofty perch on Athlon Sports’ Fantasy Football Tight End Rankings for Week 15. Graham has a total of three catches in his last two games combined, but he’s still third at his position in fantasy points and checks in at No. 2 this week. Graham should bounce back Monday night against Chicago, whose defense is allowing the second-most fantasy points to opposing TEs. Speaking of the Bears, Martellus Bennett tied for top scoring honors (with Oakland’s Mychal Rivera) at his position last week, catching 12 passes for 84 yards and a touchdown in the loss to the Cowboys. With Brandon Marshall out for the rest of the season, Bennett could be in line for even more targets from here out.


Positional Rankings: I I I I I


2014 NFL Week 15 Fantasy Football Rankings — Tight Ends


1Rob GronkowskiNEvs. MIA
2Jimmy GrahamNOat CHI (Mon.)
3Julius ThomasDENat SD
4Martellus BennettCHIvs. NO (Mon.)
5Greg OlsenCARvs. TB
6Antonio GatesSDvs. DEN
7Delanie WalkerTENvs. NYJ
8Larry DonnellNYGvs. WAS
9Travis KelceKCvs. OAK
10Jason WittenDALat PHI
11Coby FleenerINDvs. HOU
12Jared CookSTLvs. ARI (Thurs.)
13Jordan ReedWASat NYG
14Dwayne AllenINDvs. HOU
15Heath MillerPITat ATL
16Jordan CameronCLEvs. CIN
17Zach ErtzPHIvs. DAL
18Mychal RiveraOAKat KC
19Kyle RudolphMINat DET
20Charles ClayMIAat NE
21Owen DanielsBALvs. JAC
22Scott ChandlerBUFvs. GB
23Vernon DavisSFat SEA
24Jermaine GreshamCINat CLE

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 

Fantasy Football 2014 Tight End Rankings: Week 15
Post date: Thursday, December 11, 2014 - 06:30
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2014-defensespecial-teams-rankings-week-15

The St. Louis Rams have posted back-to-back shutouts, an impressive performance that earns them a spot near the top of Athlon Sports’ Fantasy Football Defense/Special Teams Rankings for Week 15. The Rams haven’t given up a point in three weeks, having shut out the Raiders and Redskins by a combined score of 76-0. This DST also has racked up 13 sacks, seven takeaways (5 INTs, 2 fumbles) and two touchdowns during this span. St. Louis is another strong option this week against Arizona, but don’t sleep on the Cardinals, the No. 5 fantasy DST this season. Elsewhere, Seattle’s defense has really started playing like defending Super Bowl champions recently. The Seahawks’ DST has scored double-digit fantasy points in three straight games and on Sunday hosts a reeling San Francisco team, which is why the champs check in at No. 1 this week.


Positional Rankings: I I I I I


2014 NFL Week 15 Fantasy Football Rankings — Defense/Special Teams


1Seattle Seahawksvs. SF
2St. Louis Ramsvs. ARI
3Baltimore Ravensvs. JAC
4Detroit Lionsvs. MIN
5Arizona Cardinalsat STL (Thurs.)
6New England Patriotsvs. MIA
7New York Giantsvs. WAS
8Philadelphia Eaglesvs. DAL
9Denver Broncosat SD
10Cleveland Brownsvs. CIN
11Kansas City Chiefsvs. OAK
12Buffalo Billsvs. GB
13New York Jetsat TEN
14San Francisco 49ersat SEA
15Houston Texansat IND
16Minnesota Vikingsat DET

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

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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Fantasy Football 2014 Defense/Special Teams Rankings: Week 15
Post date: Thursday, December 11, 2014 - 06:30
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2014-kicker-rankings-week-15

Adam Vinatieri has yet to miss a kick this season, which is a good enough reason by itself to have him lead off Athlon Sports’ Fantasy Football Kicker Rankings for Week 15. Vinatieri will turn 42 years old later this month and is on the verge of finishing up his 19th season in the NFL, yet you could make the argument he’s getting better with age. Vinatieri is second among kickers in fantasy points, tied for second in scoring and is fourth in made field goals (27). But what’s been most impressive about Vinatieri this season is that he’s the only kicker in the league who has been successful on every kick (27-for-27 FGs, 44-for-44 PATs) he’s attempted in 2014. Not bad for someone who’s played this game for two decades, no?


Positional Rankings: I I I I I


2014 NFL Week 15 Fantasy Football Rankings — Kickers


1Adam VinatieriINDvs. HOU
2Stephen GostkowskiNEvs. MIA
3Cody ParkeyPHIvs. DAL
4Steven HauschkaSEAvs. SF
5Mason CrosbyGBat BUF
6Justin TuckerBALvs. JAC
7Matt BryantATLvs. PIT
8Shaun SuishamPITat ATL
9Dan BaileyDALat PHI
10Matt PraterDETvs. MIN
11Connor BarthDENat SD
12Dan CarpenterBUFvs. GB
13Nick NovakSDvs. DEN
14Caleb SturgisMIAat NE
15Randy BullockHOUat IND
16Phil DawsonSFat SEA

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

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

Fantasy Football 2014 Kicker Rankings: Week 15
Post date: Thursday, December 11, 2014 - 06:30
All taxonomy terms: Atlanta Falcons, Green Bay Packers, NFC, NFL, News
Path: /nfl/atlanta-falcons-vs-green-bay-packers-preview-and-prediction

Week 14 wraps up with a battle of division leaders, as the Atlanta Falcons will take on the Green Bay Packers on ESPN’s “Monday Night Football.” Despite a 5-7 record the Falcons are leading the NFC South over the Saints (5-8) on the strength of a 4-0 record in divisional play, while the Packers (9-3) are battling the Lions (9-4) for the top spot in the NFC North. Green Bay also is the hottest team in the NFL, winners of four in a row, and is undefeated (6-0) at Lambeau Field.


This matchup features two of the more potent offenses, while both defenses rank closer to the bottom, statistically speaking. The last time Atlanta and Green Bay played each other was a year ago. In Week 14 last season, the Falcons enjoyed an 11-point halftime lead at Lambeau over a Packers team that was without an injured Aaron Rodgers (collarbone). Green Bay’s defense stiffened in the second half, and Matt Flynn capitalized on an early fourth-quarter fumble by Matt Ryan, putting the Packers ahead for good with a short touchdown pass to tight end Andrew Quarless.


Without that 22-21 victory over Atlanta, Green Bay’s 2013 season pretty much would have been over. Prior to that game, the Packers had gone 0-3-1 without Rodgers under center. The come-from-behind win against Atlanta allowed Green Bay to even its record at 6-6-1. The Packers would go on to win two of their final three games, including a Week 17 33-28 victory in Chicago, which gave the Packers (8-7-1) the NFC North crown over the Bears (8-8). Without that win over Atlanta, Green Bay not only wouldn’t have won the division title, it also would have been shut out of the playoffs because Dallas (8-8) would have earned the second Wild Card berth.


Atlanta Falcons at Green Bay Packers


Kickoff: 8:30 p.m. ET

TV Channel: ESPN

Spread: Green Bay -13


Atlanta’s Key to Victory: Fight Fire with Fire

The Falcons are coming off of their most impressive and surprising win of the season, a 29-18 victory at home against Arizona. The Cardinals entered Week 13 tied with Denver and New England for the best record (9-2) in the NFL and with a defense that had given up more than 20 points just once. Atlanta changed both of these statistics, as the Falcons jumped out to a 17-0 lead and pretty much outplayed the favored Cardinals in all facets of the game. The 29-18 victory kept Atlanta in first place in the NFC South, as the Falcons piled up 500 total yards of offense against one of the league’s better defenses. This week Atlanta faces a new challenge in trying to beat Green Bay at home. The Packers are second in the league in scoring and have been unstoppable at home. They are averaging 40.8 points per game at Lambeau Field and have beaten opponents by an average of 23 points. If the Falcons have any hopes of overcoming these trends, they will need to try and match Green Bay’s offensive firepower. Atlanta torched Arizona for 358 yards passing and that should be the goal tonight too. Statistically, the Packers’ defense has done a pretty good against the pass (235.4 ypg, 11th), but cornerback Sam Shields may not play due to a concussion and this unit has had some trouble against teams with potent passing attacks. Provided Roddy White returns after missing last week because of an ankle injury, the Falcons will definitely have some weapons to attack Green Bay’s secondary with, most notably Julio Jones. And any success through the air should help a running game take advantage of the Packers’ true defensive weak spot – stopping the run. Green Bay is 28th against the run, giving up 4.5 yards per carry and 132.3 yards per game. Atlanta rushed for 142 yards last week against a Cardinals defense that still ranks among the best in that category. Regardless of whether it’s through the air or on the ground, the Falcons will need to be offensive tonight if they have any hope of beating the Packers on their own turf.



Green Bay’s Key to Victory: Stay the Course

As far as the Packers are concerned, the phrase “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” certainly applies. Green Bay has won four in a row and eight of nine behind an MVP-caliber performance from Aaron Rodgers. The 2011 MVP, Rodgers is well on his way to winning a second. The league’s highest-rated passer (118.6), Rodgers has thrown 32 touchdown passes and just three interceptions, despite leading the way in yards per attempt (8.75). He’s been flawless (20 TDs, 0 INTs) at home, a big reason why the Packers are 6-0 at Lambeau. Green Bay beat New England 26-21 last week behind 478 yards of offense, while holding the Patriots to just 320 yards. The Packers’ defense has had its issues and the statistics aren’t that impressive, but this unit has been playing much better recently. Since a 44-23 Week 8 loss in New Orleans, Green Bay’s defense has given up an average of 19 points per game during its four-game winning streak. The bottom line is with Rodgers playing as well as he has, the Packers don’t need their defense to completely shut down opponents. Even with a running game that’s been inconsistent at times, Green Bay continues to win at an impressive clip. It’s pretty clear that the game plan is working right now, so there’s certainly no reason to change it up against the Falcons tonight.


Final Analysis


Credit to Atlanta for proving a lot of people wrong in handily beating Arizona last week. And even though the Falcons enter tonight two games below .500, they are in the driver's seat to win the NFC South, which would get them into the playoffs. However, much will happen between now and the end of the regular season, and with tonight’s matchup against the NFL’s hottest team, the Falcons need to focus on the “now.” Speaking of “now,” Green Bay is on a serious roll and the Packers have been especially tough at home. Matt Ryan is a Pro Bowl-caliber quarterback, but Aaron Rodgers is making a strong case for his second MVP award. Offense should take center stage tonight, and there’s no one in the league doing that better right now than Rodgers and company.

Prediction: Green Bay 37, Atlanta 24
Atlanta Falcons vs. Green Bay Packers Preview and Prediction
Post date: Monday, December 8, 2014 - 10:00
All taxonomy terms: AFC, Buffalo Bills, Denver Broncos, NFL, News
Path: /nfl/buffalo-bills-vs-denver-broncos-preview-and-prediction

The Buffalo Bills will try and improve their playoff standing when they take on the Denver Broncos this afternoon on CBS. The Bills (7-5) have three teams ahead of them in the AFC Wild Card pecking order while the Broncos (9-3) have an outside shot of wrapping up a playoff spot, depending on the outcome of numerous other games


Buffalo is part of a six-pack of 7-5 teams currently jockeying for the second Wild Card spot with San Diego (8-4) claiming the other. The Bills are behind the Dolphins (better winning percentage in divisional play) and Chiefs (better winning percentage in conference games), thanks in part to losses to each the past two weeks. Buffalo’s remaining slate is not easy with Green Bay on tap next week and back-to-back road games on opposite sides of the country (Oakland then New England) to finish things up. The Bills need to win just to keep pace with the pack, but face a tough test this afternoon against a Broncos team that’s undefeated at home.


Buffalo Bills at Denver Broncos


Kickoff: 4:05 p.m. ET

TV Channel: CBS

Spread: Denver -10


Buffalo’s Key to Victory: Get Offensive

The Bills rank among the top 10 in the NFL in the four major defensive categories. They are second in scoring defense (18.1 ppg) and fifth in both total (312.4 ypg) and passing (216.1 ypg) defense. Buffalo also leads the league with 48 sacks and has collected 20 in the past four games alone. All of this is well and good, especially going against a Peyton Manning-led Denver offense that’s fifth in both yards (413.9) and points (30.1) per game, but the Bills will still need to find a way to score some points. After all, the Broncos are 6-0 this season at Sports Authority Field at Mile High, averaging 35.3 points per game. Buffalo is 17th in the league in scoring at 17 points per game and has scored more than 35 points just twice. Both of those games were against the 2-10 Jets. The Bills have done a little better job putting points on the board on the road (21.8 ppg), but Denver’s low-water mark at home so far is the 24 it scored in a Week 2 win over Kansas City. Since that game, the Broncos have put up 41 on the Cardinals, 42 on the 49ers, 35 on the Chargers, and 39 on the Dolphins. Buffalo’s defense is capable of limiting any team’s offense, but it will be difficult for them to completely shut down Manning and the Broncos. And that’s just part of the battle, as the Bills’ offense will still need to cobble some scoring drives together and do so against a Denver defense that has given up less than 23 points per game at home.


Denver’s Key to Victory: Stay Balanced

The Broncos have the luxury of a future Hall of Fame quarterback running their offense, but that doesn’t mean they at their best when Peyton Manning is throwing the ball all over the field. In each of Denver’s three losses, the Broncos’ offensive game plan was extremely pass-heavy. Against Seattle, Manning attempted 49 passes compared to 20 rushes. The pass vs. run distribution was even more lopsided against New England (57/17) and St. Louis (54/10). For whatever reason, the 22-7 loss to the Rams three weeks ago must have served as a tipping point because Denver has since recommitted to the run in a big way. In Week 12 against Miami, it was a 50/50 split and then last week the Broncos ran the ball 10 more times than they passed it. And in those two games, all the team did was rush for 415 yards, dominate time of possession and, most importantly, beat a pair of playoff-contending teams. In fact, this run-heavy approach fueled a fourth-quarter comeback against the Dolphins and allowed the Broncos to hold the ball for more than 38 minutes against the Chiefs. Running back C.J. Anderson, who was buried on the depth chart earlier this season, has been the catalyst for Denver’s rejuvenated ground attack (335 yards rushing in the last two games) and there’s no reason to deviate from that approach now. Buffalo’s defense has been tough against the run (96.3 ypg), but the Broncos’ offensive line is playing exceptionally well and Anderson has been punishing opponents on the ground. Manning is perfectly capable of beating teams by himself, but as this season has showed, it’s not always in the Broncos’ best interests to rely on that strategy. And as far as the Bills’ defense is concerned, facing a potent, two-dimensional offense run by a future Hall of Fame quarterback on the road certainly does not bode well for their interests.


Final Analysis


Buffalo is in the thick of the Wild Card chase and has one of the NFL’s toughest defenses. Denver is positioned to not only win its fourth straight AFC West crown, but also to wind up with one of the top two seeds and a first-round bye. On paper, the Bills appear equipped to keep Peyton Manning and the Broncos’ offense in check. However, that was before Denver recommitted to the run, as C.J. Anderson has jumpstarted a rushing attack that’s piled up more than 400 yards in the last two games. Buffalo has had issues scoring points all season and this won’t get any easier against a Broncos defense that’s been pretty stingy at home. Going up against a future Hall of Fame quarterback is just one of the challenges facing the Bills, who will come up short in their attempt to hand the Broncos their first loss at Sports Authority Field at Mile High.

Prediction: Denver 27, Buffalo 17
Buffalo Bills vs. Denver Broncos Preview and Prediction
Post date: Sunday, December 7, 2014 - 09:00
All taxonomy terms: NFC, Philadelphia Eagles, Seattle Seahawks, NFL, News
Path: /nfl/seattle-seahawks-vs-philadelphia-eagles-preview-and-prediction

Playoff positioning will be at stake when the Seattle Seahawks and Philadelphia Eagles get together this afternoon on FOX. The Seahawks (8-4) are one game behind the Cardinals for the lead in the NFC West and currently maintain a slight edge over the other Wild Card contenders. Even with a loss, the Eagles (9-3) would still be ahead of the Cowboys in the NFC East thanks to an unblemished (3-0) record in divisional play.


Both teams enter this afternoon’s game having won their past two contests and four out of five. Seattle has looked more like the defending Super Bowl champions of late, beating divisional rivals Arizona and San Francisco by a combined score of 38-6. Philadelphia is coming off of a convincing 33-10 win in Dallas on Thanksgiving and are 6-0 at home this season.


Seattle Seahawks vs. Philadelphia Eagles


Kickoff: 4:25 p.m. ET

TV Channel: FOX

Spread: Philadelphia -1


Seattle’s Key to Victory: Stop Shady

After getting off to a slow start LeSean “Shady” McCoy has gotten it going. The reigning rushing champion, McCoy is coming off of a season-high 159 yards on the ground last week against Dallas and has four 100-yard efforts over his last seven games. That’s after not rushing for more than 81 yards in each of his first five games. A big-play threat whenever he touches the ball, Philadelphia is 6-1 when McCoy goes over 100 total yards. It’s not like the Eagles can’t win when McCoy doesn’t have a good game, but his presence in Chip Kelly’s offense shouldn’t be overlooked either. The Seahawks are fifth in the league in rushing defense and have given up more than 64 yards rushing only once in their last five games. If Seattle can bottle up McCoy that would put more pressure on Mark Sanchez to make plays from the pocket. Since taking over for an injured Nick Foles, Sanchez has directed Philadelphia to a 3-1 record as the starter, but he’s still prone to the occasional mistake (eight turnovers vs. nine total TDs) and isn’t always the most accurate (63.4 percent completion rate this season) with his throws. Kelly’s offensive system may be quarterback-friendly, but Sanchez vs. Seattle’s “Legion of Boom” could be one ugly matchup. And that’s exactly what the Seahawks are hoping for.


Philadelphia’s Key to Victory: Beat Seattle at its Own Game

One of the hallmarks of Seattle’s defense last season was the unit’s ability to create turnovers. The Seahawks were first in the NFL in takeaways (39), interceptions (28) and turnover margin (plus-20). After forcing just five takeaways in their first six games (3-3 record), business has picked up for Pete Carroll’s defense to the tune of 13 turnovers forced over the past six contests. Not surprisingly, the defending Super Bowl champions have gone 5-1 during this stretch. While the Eagles’ defense will never be mistaken for the “Legion of Boom,” Philadelphia’s defense has fared pretty well in this category this season. The Eagles have collected 22 takeaways thus far, which is four more than the Seahawks’ total and places them in a tie for fifth in the league. What’s more, Chip Kelly’s team has made the most of its takeaways, as the Eagles have scored six defensive touchdowns. Contrast that to Seattle, which has gotten just two scores from its defense. Philadelphia’s success carries over to special teams as well, which has accounted for four touchdowns and five blocked kicks. The Seahawks have two blocked kicks, but no special teams scores. Statistically speaking, Seattle’s defense is ranked No. 1 in the league in yards allowed and third in points. Philadelphia’s defense is 24th and tied for 19th in those same categories. However, similar to what the Seahawks did last season, the Eagles’ defense has made a healthy living off of turnovers this season. Maintaining that edge this afternoon could be key to Philadelphia’s chances of winning, especially considering how good a job Seattle does with ball security (9 giveaways, tied for second-fewest) compared to the Eagles (league-worst 28).


Final Analysis


A potential playoff preview? Perhaps, but right now the focus of these two teams is to just get into the postseason. Philadelphia is a little more secure in that respect, but Seattle is the defending champions and appears to be rounding into form at the right time. Coming off of dominating victories over Arizona and San Francisco, the Seahawks are a team no one wants to face now, let alone in January. The Eagles have the edge over the Cowboys in the NFC East, but also are in the mix for one of the top two seeds and a first-round bye. Philadelphia is undefeated at home and has more offensive firepower, but I’ll take my chances with the “Legion of Boom” against Mark Sanchez, regardless of where the game is played. 

Prediction: Seattle 27, Philadelphia 23
Seattle Seahawks vs. Philadelphia Eagles Preview and Prediction
Post date: Sunday, December 7, 2014 - 09:00
Path: /nfl/pittsburgh-steelers-vs-cincinnati-bengals-preview-and-prediction-2014

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
Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Cincinnati Bengals Preview and Prediction
Post date: Sunday, December 7, 2014 - 09:00
All taxonomy terms: AFC, undefined, NFL, News
Path: /nfl/baltimore-ravens-vs-miami-dolphins-preview-and-prediction

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
Baltimore Ravens vs. Miami Dolphins Preview and Prediction
Post date: Sunday, December 7, 2014 - 09:00
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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 .


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 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.

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.

Fantasy Football Week 14 Injury Updates: Isaiah Crowell, Rashad Jennings, Mark Ingram, Jerick McKinnon
Post date: Sunday, December 7, 2014 - 06:30
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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 .

Week 14 Fantasy Football Injury Updates: Andre Ellington, Marshawn Lynch, Latavius Murray, Shane Vereen
Post date: Sunday, December 7, 2014 - 06:30
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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 k.

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 , 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.

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 . 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 , 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.

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 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.

Fantasy Football Week 14 Injury Updates: Julius Thomas, Greg Olsen, Dwayne Allen, Jordan Cameron
Post date: Sunday, December 7, 2014 - 06:30