Articles By Mark Ross

Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2014-running-back-rankings-week-14

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: I I I I I


2014 NFL Week 14 Fantasy Football Rankings — Running Backs


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
Post date: Thursday, December 4, 2014 - 06:30
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2014-wide-receiver-rankings-week-14

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: I I I I I


2014 NFL Week 14 Fantasy Football Rankings — Wide Receivers


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
Post date: Thursday, December 4, 2014 - 06:30
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2014-tight-end-rankings-week-14

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: I I I I I


2014 NFL Week 14 Fantasy Football Rankings — Tight Ends


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

Need more fantasy help? Visit 

Fantasy Football 2014 Tight End Rankings: Week 14
Post date: Thursday, December 4, 2014 - 06:30
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2014-defensespecial-teams-rankings-week-14

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: I I I I I


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



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:

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 14
Post date: Thursday, December 4, 2014 - 06:30
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2014-kicker-rankings-week-14

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: I I I I I


2014 NFL Week 14 Fantasy Football Rankings — Kickers


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:

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 14
Post date: Thursday, December 4, 2014 - 06:30
All taxonomy terms: AFC, AFC East, Miami Dolphins, New York Jets, NFL, News
Path: /nfl/miami-dolphins-vs-new-york-jets-preview-and-prediction

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
Miami Dolphins vs. New York Jets Preview and Prediction
Post date: Monday, December 1, 2014 - 11:30
Path: /nfl/denver-broncos-vs-kansas-city-chiefs-preview-and-prediction-2014

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
Denver Broncos vs. Kansas City Chiefs Preview and Prediction
Post date: Sunday, November 30, 2014 - 09:00
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy Football, injury updates, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /fantasy/week-13-fantasy-football-injury-updates-arian-foster-ryan-mathews-charles-sims-jerick

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.

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
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-week-13-injury-updates-andre-ellington-lamar-miller-mark-ingram-latavius

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 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.

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

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, 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.

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

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.

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

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.

Ray Rice Wins Appeal: Will He Play Again in 2014?
Post date: Friday, November 28, 2014 - 21:30
All taxonomy terms: Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions, NFC, NFC North, NFL, News
Path: /nfl/chicago-bears-vs-detroit-lions-preview-and-prediction

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
Chicago Bears vs. Detroit Lions Preview and Prediction
Post date: Thursday, November 27, 2014 - 12:30
Path: /nfl/seattle-seahawks-vs-san-francisco-49ers-preview-and-prediction-0

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
Seattle Seahawks vs. San Francisco 49ers Preview and Prediction
Post date: Thursday, November 27, 2014 - 12:30
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2014-quarterback-rankings-week-13

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: I I I I I


2014 NFL Week 13 Fantasy Football Rankings — Quarterbacks


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 .

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

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: I I I I I


2014 NFL Week 13 Fantasy Football Rankings — Running Backs


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


Need more fantasy help? Visit .

Fantasy Football 2014 Running Back Rankings: Week 13
Post date: Wednesday, November 26, 2014 - 14:00
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2014-wide-receiver-rankings-week-13

Odell Beckham Jr. exploded onto the national scene this past Sunday night, a performance that earned the rookie top-10 status in Athlon Sports’ Fantasy Football Wide Receiver Rankings for Week 13. Beckham, following his 146-yard, two-touchdown effort (31.4 fantasy points, Athlon scoring) against the Cowboys, checks in at No. 10, an indication as to how deep wide receiver has been this season. In fact, as impressive as Beckham’s Week 12 performance was, he was topped by Denver’s Demaryius Thomas, who caught three TDs (31.7 fantasy pts) in the win against Miami, for top honors. Beckham also wasn’t the only wideout that had a big game Sunday night either. Dez Bryant helped his Cowboys defeat Beckham’s Giants with two touchdown grabs of his own. All three are locked in as must-start options this week, along with the likes of Antonio Brown, Calvin Johnson, A.J. Green, Jordy Nelson, Josh Gordon, T.Y. Hilton and Emmanuel Sanders.


Positional Rankings: I I I I I


2014 NFL Week 13 Fantasy Football Rankings — Wide Receivers


1Demaryius ThomasDENat KC
2Antonio BrownPITvs. NO
3Dez BryantDALvs. PHI (Thurs.)
4Calvin JohnsonDETvs. CHI (Thurs.)
5A.J. GreenCINat TB
6Jordy NelsonGBvs. NE
7Josh GordonCLEat BUF
8T.Y. HiltonINDvs. WAS
9Emmanuel SandersDENat KC
10Odell Beckham Jr.NYGat JAC
11Randall CobbGBvs. NE
12Julio JonesATLvs. ARI
13Mike EvansTBvs. CIN
14Alshon JefferyCHIat DET (Thurs.)
15Brandon MarshallCHIat DET (Thurs.)
16Jeremy MaclinPHIat DAL (Thurs.)
17Kelvin BenjaminCARat MIN
18Roddy WhiteATLvs. ARI
19Golden TateDETvs. CHI (Thurs.)
20Mike WallaceMIAat NYJ (Mon.)
21Keenan AllenSDat BAL
22Julian EdelmanNEat GB
23DeSean JacksonWASat IND
24Sammy WatkinsBUFvs. CLE
25Jordan MatthewsPHIat DAL (Thurs.)
26Torrey SmithBALvs. SD
27DeAndre HopkinsHOUvs. TEN
28Vincent JacksonTBvs. CIN
29Anquan BoldinSFvs. SEA (Thurs.)
30Brandon LaFellNEat GB
31Marques ColstonNOat PIT
32Andre JohnsonHOUvs. TEN
33Steve SmithBALvs. SD
34Martavis BryantPITvs. NO
35Mohamed SanuCINat TB
36Reggie WayneINDvs. WAS
37Jarvis LandryMIAat NYJ (Mon.)
38Rueben RandleNYGat JAC
39Terrance WilliamsDALvs. PHI (Thurs.)
40Kenny BrittSTLvs. OAK
41Michael CrabtreeSFvs. SEA (Thurs.)
42Percy HarvinNYJvs. MIA (Mon.)
43John BrownARIat ATL
44Michael FloydARIat ATL
45Eric DeckerNYJvs. MIA (Mon.)
46Kenny StillsNOat PIT
47Cecil ShortsJACvs. NYG
48Kendall WrightTENat HOU

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 13
Post date: Wednesday, November 26, 2014 - 14:00
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2014-tight-end-rankings-week-13

With a couple of guys returning from injury, Athlon Sports’ Fantasy Football Tight End Rankings for Week 13 is as deep as it’s been all season. Rob Gronkowski, Jimmy Graham and Julius Thomas (who missed last week’s game because of an ankle injury) continue to headline the group, but Delanie Walker returned in Week 12 after missing a game because of a concussion and paced the position with 155 yards receiving. Additionally, Kyle Rudolph, considered by many a top-10 TE entering this season, caught three passes for 50 yards in his second game back after missing the previous seven because of a sports hernia. And then there’s Jason Witten, the wily old veteran who got off to a slow start this season but has picked up things lately. Witten averaged just 6.3 fantasy points (Athlon scoring) over his first seven games. Over his last four games that number has doubled to 12.6 on the strength of three touchdown catches during this span.


Positional Rankings: I I I I I


2014 NFL Week 13 Fantasy Football Rankings — Tight Ends


1Rob GronkowskiNEat GB
2Jimmy GrahamNOat PIT
3Julius ThomasDENat KC
4Greg OlsenCARat MIN
5Delanie WalkerTENat HOU
6Antonio GatesSDat BAL
7Jason WittenDALvs. PHI (Thurs.)
8Travis KelceKCvs. DEN
9Martellus BennettCHIat DET (Thurs.)
10Larry DonnellNYGat JAC
11Coby FleenerINDvs. WAS
12Kyle RudolphMINvs. CAR
13Owen DanielsBALvs. SD
14Heath MillerPITvs. NO
15Mychal RiveraOAKat STL
16Charles ClayMIAat NYJ (Mon.)
17Zach ErtzPHIat DAL (Thurs.)
18Dwayne AllenINDvs. WAS
19Jared CookSTLvs. OAK
20Jordan CameronCLEat BUF
21Vernon DavisSFvs. SEA (Thurs.)
22Scott ChandlerBUFvs. CLE
23Tim WrightNEat GB
24Jordan ReedWASat IND

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 Tight End Rankings: Week 13
Post date: Wednesday, November 26, 2014 - 14:00
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2014-defensespecial-teams-rankings-week-13

Every team is in action, but it’s the Jets’ opponent who gets the distinction of leading off Athlon Sports’ Fantasy Football Defense/Special Teams Rankings for Week 13. Yes, the Jaguars are playing, but the Jets gave up 25 fantasy points on Monday night to the Bills. Buffalo not only sacked New York quarterbacks seven times, the Bills blocked a punt for a touchdown, picked off a pass and held the Jets to a mere three points. This Monday night the Jets will host Miami, whose DST is third in fantasy points and had its string of five straight double-digit efforts come to an end last week in Denver. Needless to say, the Jets’ offense and the Broncos’ offense are not on the same level. But take heart Jacksonville “fans.” The Jags are still No. 1 in fantasy points allowed to DSTs and their Week 13 opponent, the Giants, most likely is on your league’s waiver wire. That said, the G-Men barely made our rankings and that’s entirely due to this enticing matchup.


Positional Rankings: I I I I I


2014 NFL Week 13 Fantasy Football Rankings — Defense/Special Teams


1Miami Dolphinsat NYJ (Mon.)
2Buffalo Billsvs. CLE
3Seattle Seahawksat SF (Thurs.)
4Arizona Cardinalsat ATL
5St. Louis Ramsvs. OAK
6San Francisco 49ersvs. SEA (Thurs.)
7Houston Texansvs. TEN
8Cincinnati Bengalsat TB
9Minnesota Vikingsvs. CAR
10Baltimore Ravensvs. SD
11Indianapolis Coltsvs. WAS
12Detroit Lionsvs. CHI (Thurs.)
13Philadelphia Eaglesat DAL (Thurs.)
14Denver Broncosat KC
15Cleveland Brownsat BUF
16New York Giantsat JAC

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 13
Post date: Wednesday, November 26, 2014 - 14:00
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2014-kicker-rankings-week-13

New England takes on Green Bay, which means their kickers are prominently featured in Athlon Sports’ Fantasy Football Kicker Rankings for Week 13. As productive as Stephen Gostkowski and Mason Crosby have been this season, however, one of the bigger surprises has been the performance of rookie Cody Parkey. An udrafted free agent from Auburn, Parkey beat out incumbent Alex Henery for the Eagles’ kicking job in training camp and all he’s done is miss just two of his 64 kicks thus far. He’s 23-of-25 on field goal tries and a perfect 39-for-39 on PATs, production that places him third in scoring in both the NFL and fantasy. Not bad for a first impression.


Positional Rankings: I I I I I


2014 NFL Week 13 Fantasy Football Rankings — Kickers


1Stephen GostkowskiNEat GB
2Adam VinatieriINDvs. WAS
3Cody ParkeyPHIat DAL (Thurs.)
4Steven HauschkaSEAat SF (Thurs.)
5Mason CrosbyGBvs. NE
6Dan BaileyDALvs. PHI (Thurs.)
7Justin TuckerBALvs. SD
8Phil DawsonSFvs. SEA (Thurs.)
9Caleb SturgisMIAat NYJ (Mon.)
10Dan CarpenterBUFvs. CLE
11Shaun SuishamPITvs. NO
12Randy BullockHOUvs. TEN
13Matt PraterDETvs. CHI (Thurs.)
14Connor BarthDENat KC
15Shayne GrahamNOat PIT
16Matt BryantATLvs. ARI

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 13
Post date: Wednesday, November 26, 2014 - 14:00
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy Football, waiver wire, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /fantasy/15-players-who-could-help-you-win-your-fantasy-playoffs

Week 13 of the NFL season means three things – a Thanksgiving tripleheader, no more bye weeks to worry about and the realization that the fantasy playoffs are just around the corner. Whether your league’s playoffs start next week or a little later, there’s no debate that these next few games will make or break many a season.


With that in mind here are 15 players that could be available on your waiver wire that could wind up being the difference between experiencing the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.


Note: Players listed below are owned in less than 70% of Yahoo! leagues.




Eli Manning, New York Giants

The interceptions are certainly a concern when it comes to Manning, but remember that five of his 12 picks came in one game. The appeal when it comes to Peyton’s younger brother is twofold. First, there’s the schedule. Of the Giants’ remaining five games, four of them are against teams that are in the top 12 of the league in terms of fantasy points allowed to QBs. It starts off with Jacksonville (10th) this week and includes a finishing stretch of Washington (fourth), St. Louis (second) and Philadelphia (12th). Even Tennessee (25th) doesn't seem like that difficult a matchup, at least on paper. The second reason to like Manning is the emergence of rookie Odell Beckham Jr. In the last four games, the Giants’ first-round pick has averaged more than 125 yards receiving. Not surprising, Manning has averaged 315 yards passing during that same stretch. Peyton’s got better numbers, but Eli’s more readily available and both Manning brothers could end up being difference-makers during the fantasy playoffs.


Zach Mettenberger, Tennessee Titans

Adding Mettenberger to your roster, let alone starting him, is definitely going against the grain. However, the rookie has shown signs of growth and improvement with each start. On Sunday, he threw for a season-high 345 yards and he has now recorded two touchdown passes in each of his past two games. The schedule (at HOU, NYG, NYJ, at JAC, IND) also isn’t daunting, as there are three top-10 QB fantasy matchups on tap for Weeks 14-16. The worst of this quintet is Indianapolis (17th), but that is the final game of the season and it’s possible that the Colts will have their playoff destination determined by then. There’s plenty of risk when it comes to relying on Mettenberger, namely his lack of experience and the uncertainty surrounding his supporting cast, but it’s also possible that youth will be served during these fantasy playoffs.


Ryan Tannehill, Miami Dolphins

By and large, Tannehill acquitted himself quite well on Sunday in his head-to-head matchup with Peyton Manning. Tannehill had one fewer touchdown pass (3 to 4) and the lone turnover (INT), but he still finished with 33.6 fantasy points on the road in his duel with the future Hall of Famer. Tannehill has been a top-five fantasy QB these past four weeks and he still has two games (Weeks 13 and 17) remaining against the Jets, who are giving up the most fantasy points to opposing QBs. Tannehill is well on his way to putting together the best season of his young NFL career. Perhaps this success will continue during the fantasy playoffs?


Running Backs


Isaiah Crowell, Cleveland Browns

Ben Tate was released last week, which removed one mouth to feed in the Browns’ backfield. Terrance West is still around and will get his share of touches, but Crowell seems to have moved ahead of him in the pecking order. Crowell has gotten at least 12 carries in three straight games and he also has three rushing touchdowns during this span. He is averaging a healthy five yards per carry and has a knack for getting into the end zone (7 rushing TDs in 90 att.). In Weeks 14-16 Crowell will face three teams (IND, CIN, CAR) that are among the top seven teams in fantasy points allowed to RBs. It doesn’t get more playoff-friendly than that.


Tre Mason, St. Louis Rams

Mason continues to get the call in the Rams’ backfield, as he’s averaged nearly 20 carries over the past four games. From here out his schedule shapes up pretty well, starting with Oakland (fifth in fantasy pts allowed to RBs) and including a Week 16 date with the Giants (second). The only matchup that’s not that appealing is a Week 15 home game with Arizona (No. 3 in NFL in rushing defense). That said, the key with Mason moving forward is opportunity and it certainly appears that he’ll see more than enough carries to at least put him in a position to be a reliable fantasy contributor.


Jerick McKinnon, Minnesota Vikings

The Vikings claimed Ben Tate off of waivers last week following his release by Cleveland, but there’s no reason to not think that McKinnon will remain a big part of the game plan. For starters, Adrian Peterson’s uncertain future means it’s even more important for the team to evaluate McKinnon, its third-round pick, to determine if he’s a potential long-term answer at running back. So assuming McKinnon will continue to see consistent touches, it should increase his fantasy potential moving forward, even if Minnesota’s closing slate (CAR, NYJ, at DET, at MIA, CHI) features a couple of not-so-appealing matchups. Remember when it comes to fantasy RBs, opportunity (i.e., touches) is an important part of the puzzle.

Latavius Murray, Oakland Raiders

Talk about making the most of your opportunities. Murray picked up 112 yards rushing against the Chiefs Thursday night on just four carries. His 90-yard TD run in the second quarter was highlight material and who knows where his numbers would have finished had he not departed with a concussion before halftime. The good news is that the extra days between games should give Murray plenty of time to get through the league-mandated concussion protocols. As long as Murray is cleared to play you can pretty much count on seeing a healthy dose of him moving forward. 


Wide Receivers


John Brown, Arizona Cardinals

Name the most-targeted Cardinal this season? It’s not Larry Fitzgerald or Michael Floyd or even Andre Ellington. Instead it’s Brown, who head coach Bruce Arians has already compared to Marvin Harrison. Brown, Arizona’s third-round pick, is just another product of what has been a stellar rookie WR class. He leads the Cardinals in targets (71) and touchdown catches (5), and trails only Fitzgerald in receiving yards (529). Brown has caught at least two passes every game and while his fantasy production has been up-and-down, he could have a bigger role moving forward with Fitzgerald dealing with a knee injury that caused him to miss Sunday’s game (first since 2007). Brown has been flying under the radar, but that may soon change.


Martavis Bryant, Pittsburgh Steelers

The Steelers are coming off of their bye, presenting a golden opportunity to snag Bryant before his ownership rate goes back up. All the rookie has done in his first five games is haul in six touchdowns. After missing the first six games because of a hamstring injury, Bryant has taken advantage of an inconsistent Markus Wheaton and emerged as a big-play target for Pittsburgh’s offense. Antonio Brown will continue to be the lead dog in this pack, but Bryant has already shown that he doesn’t need many opportunities to cause some major damage.


Jarvis Landry, Miami Dolphins

Ryan Tannehill (see above) has been among the most productive fantasy QBs over the past four weeks and one of his favorite targets during this stretch has been Landry. Mike Wallace is the Dolphins’ No. 1 receiver, but it’s Landry who leads the team in receptions (49). Twenty-four of these catches have come in his past four games, as have four of his five touchdown grabs. The second-round pick out of LSU has not only been a reliable (75.4 percent catch rate) target, but he’s also developed into a more productive one, setting the stage for what could be a strong finish to a solid rookie campaign.


Kenny Stills, New Orleans Saints

Brandin Cooks, the Saints’ first-round pick, went on injured reserve last week because of a broken thumb. Prior to the injury, Cooks was second only to Jimmy Graham in targets, receptions, yards and touchdowns. Stills replaced Cooks in the starting lineup Monday night against Baltimore and responded with a season-best eight receptions (on nine targets) for 98 yards. As the Saints' No. 3 WR for most of the season, Stills' numbers (39-529-2) are similar to those of Marques Colston (38-618-2), despite the fact that Colston has seen more targets (64 to 51 for Stills).


Tight Ends


Mychal Rivera, Oakland Raiders

Rivera didn’t do much of anything (rec., 8 yds.) last week against Kansas City, but otherwise it’s been a nice stretch of production for the second-year tight end. He is second on the team in receptions (38) and all three of his touchdowns came in back-to-back games (Weeks 9-10). Rivera carries plenty of risk, but it’s not like Derek Carr has a bunch of established targets to throw to either. Depending on your TE options, you may at least want to consider taking a flyer on Rivera.


Kyle Rudolph, Minnesota Vikings

Sports hernia surgery cost Rudolph seven games, but this was a guy considered to be a top-10 fantasy TE entering the season. After going target-less in his first game back two weeks ago, Rudolph made good on three of his five looks Sunday against Green Bay, finishing with 50 yards. The more important development is that Rudolph played just about every possible snap, so he’s clearly the Vikings No. 1 TE moving forward. The question now is how soon until he starts producing like a TE1? 

Defense/Special Teams


Baltimore Ravens

The Ravens DST has produced double-digit fantasy points in four/five of the last seven games. This unit can get after the quarterback (21 sacks during this stretch), which usually leads to the potential for forcing some turnovers (5 INTs, 6 fumbles). There’s also the matter of Baltimore’s Week 15 home date with Jacksonville. The Jaguars are giving up the most fantasy points to DSTs, making it a tailor-made, playoff-friendly matchup for the Ravens DST.


St. Louis Rams

This DST currently ranks n the middle of the pack in fantasy scoring, but it also has produced 12 or more points in three of its past four games. One of those was against Denver’s high-powered offense, as St. Louis picked off Peyton Manning twice, sacked him twice and held the Broncos to just seven points. The Rams have rediscovered their pass rush (16 sacks in last four games) and the highest-ranked offense they will face the rest of the way belongs to the dysfunctional Redskins (11th in total offense). And that Week 14 game is preceded by a home date with Oakland, the NFL’s worst offense. The Rams call the Show Me State home and this DST may be primed to show plenty of fantasy production from here out.


Scoring is based on Athlon Sports default scoring which is 6 points for all TDs, .5 points per reception and 1 point PER 25 yards passing, 10 yards rushing/receiving and 40 return yards.

15 Players Who Could Help You Win Your Fantasy Playoffs
Post date: Tuesday, November 25, 2014 - 10:00
All taxonomy terms: Baltimore Ravens, New Orleans Saints, NFL, News
Path: /nfl/baltimore-ravens-vs-new-orleans-saints-preview-and-prediction

The Baltimore Ravens return to the scene of one of their greatest triumphs to take on a New Orleans Saints team that’s hoping for some much-needed home cooking as Week 12 wraps up on ESPN’s “Monday Night Football.” The Ravens (6-4) won the last time they played in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome (Super Bowl XLVII in Feb. 2013), while the Saints (4-6) have lost their past two homes games.


New Orleans hasn’t lost three straight home games since 2005, the season before Sean Payton and Drew Brees came to the Saints. This season, New Orleans is two games below .500 but still very much alive for a playoff spot thanks to a mediocre NFC South. Baltimore currently trails AFC North leader Cincinnati and needs a win to tie Pittsburgh and Cleveland or John Harbaugh's team will find itself at the bottom of the NFL’s most competitive division. A loss won’t eliminate either team from the playoff picture, but it won’t make their respective postseason paths any easier either.


Baltimore Ravens at New Orleans Saints


Kickoff: 8:30 p.m. ET

TV Channel: ESPN

Spread: New Orleans -3


Baltimore’s Key to Victory: Grind it Out

The Ravens are 12th in the NFL in total offense (364.8 ypg) thanks to a productive ground game that averages 124.1 yards rushing per game. They have done this with zero production from Ray Rice, the team’s leading rusher each of the past five seasons, as Justin Forsett has come in and more than done the job. Forsett, a seven-year veteran who had never rushed for more than 619 yards prior to this season, is among the top 10 in the league with 721 yards in 10 games. His 5.4 yards per carry average is tops among all running backs. When Baltimore has committed to the run, it has worked out quite well. In the Ravens’ six wins they have averaged 147.8 yards rushing per game. In the four losses that number plummets to just 88.5. It’s eerily similar to what has happened defensively with New Orleans. The Saints have allowed 137.3 yards rushing per game in its six losses, and held opponents to 80.8 in their wins. Besides moving the ball, a productive ground game against New Orleans can be effective in that it limits the number of opportunities Drew Brees and the Saints’ offense gets. Even though New Orleans has struggled at home recently, it’s still a good idea to keep Sean Payton’s offense off of the field as much as possible.


New Orleans’ Key to Victory: Reclaim the Superdome

Going back to last season, the Saints had won 11 games in a row at home before dropping their past two. An offense that had scored 101 points in its first three games in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome has managed a total of 34 points the past two weeks in losses to San Francisco and Cincinnati. Under Sean Payton, the Saints have played extremely well at home (going 8-0 in both 2011 and ’13) and they need to find a way to rediscover their magic touch in the Superdome. A good start would be taking better care of the football. Payton’s team was even in turnover differential over the first three home games, but is minus-three (4 giveaways, 1 takeaway) the past two. New Orleans entered Week 12 tied for 27th in turnover differential (minus-9), as Rex Ryan’s defense has only produced 10 takeaways. This makes ball security a must for Drew Brees and company. The Saints also would like to get back to running the ball like they were a couple of weeks ago when Mark Ingram returned from a broken hand. After averaging 144.7 yards per game rushing in a three-game stretch, San Francisco held Ingram and the other ball carriers to just 75 yards on the ground last week. Baltimore’s defense has been pretty solid against the run (84.5 ypg, 5th) all season, but New Orleans needs to stay grounded in hopes of making things easier for Brees and the passing game. After tonight, the Saints’ two remaining home dates are against NFC South foes Carolina and Atlanta. A win over the Ravens and New Orleans would move into first place and present the Saints with an opportunity to win another division title on home turf. So it’s imperative that that Peyton’s team starts cooking at home again, as their season may depend on it.


Final Analysis


New Orleans is two games below .500 and somewhat reeling after back-to-back home losses. However, the Saints have yet to lose three in a row in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in the Sean Payton-Drew Brees era and I don’t think it will happen tonight. Baltimore has a strong running game and a stout defensive line that could cause problems for the Saints’ passing game, but the Ravens also haven’t played that well on the road and the defense is somewhat vulnerable on the back end. Look for Payton to try and re-establish his ground game with Mark Ingram, which opens up things down field for the likes of Jimmy Graham and Kenny Stills. Baltimore won the last time it played in the Big Easy, but the Superdome is the Saints’ domain.

Prediction: New Orleans 27, Baltimore 23
Baltimore Ravens vs. New Orleans Saints Preview and Prediction
Post date: Monday, November 24, 2014 - 10:00
All taxonomy terms: AFC, AFC East, Buffalo Bills, New York Jets, NFL, News
Path: /nfl/new-york-jets-vs-buffalo-bills-preview-and-prediction

The Buffalo Bills will attempt to stay in the playoff discussion when they take on the New York Jets tonight in their adopted “home” of Ford Field in Detroit. This game was originally scheduled to be played Sunday afternoon at Ralph Wilson Stadium, but a massive snowstorm that dumped around eight feet in just a few days prompted not only the re-scheduling of this game, but the relocation to the Motor City.


The Bills (5-5) are aiming for a season sweep of the Jets (2-8) and a third straight win overall against their AFC East rivals. Buffalo trounced New York 43-23 at MetLife Stadium back in Week 8, thanks to four touchdown passes from Kyle Orton and six turnovers committed by Jets quarterbacks. That game also was the last time Geno Smith has been under center. He was replaced by Michael Vick after completing just two passes and throwing three interceptions in the first quarter in front of a thoroughly dissatisfied home crowd.


New York Jets vs. Buffalo Bills


Kickoff: 7 p.m. ET

TV Channel: CBS (locally), NFL Sunday Ticket (DirecTV)

Spread: Buffalo -2


New York’s Key to Victory: Stay Grounded

The Jets have 18 giveaways on the season. A third of those (six) came in their Week 8 43-23 loss to the Bills. All six were committed by New York quarterbacks and while Geno Smith grabbed most of the headlines due to his nightmarish first quarter (2 completions, 3 INTs), it should be pointed out that Michael Vick threw a pick and lost two fumbles (out of four total). In fact, Smith and Vick have combined for 15 of the team’s 18 turnovers this season. Even though Smith (10 INTs, 2 fumbles) has been responsible for the vast majority of these, the argument can be made that the Jets are better off when the ball isn’t in their quarterbacks’ hands. New York is fourth in the NFL in rushing at 140.9 yards per game and dead last in passing (178.5 ypg). Buffalo’s defense has done a pretty good job against the run (99.0 ypg, 9th), but gave up a season-worst 175 yards (on 33 carries) and three touchdowns to the Jets back in Week 8. Even though the Bills won the first game by 20, they were outgained (280 to 312), especially on the ground (67 to 175), by the Jets. In fact, the final margin of victory was the exact number of points Buffalo scored on all of those New York miscues. If the Jets stay committed to the running game tonight, it could prove fruitful against a Bills defense that’s had to deal with a lot of extenuating circumstances in its preparations for this game. Besides, we’ve already seen what happens when this offense funnels primarily through the quarterback.


Buffalo’s Key to Victory: Maintain Edge in Turnover Margin

Statistically, the Bills’ offense has been just a hair more productive than the Jets’. Buffalo is 25th in the NFL in total offense (321.6 ypg), a little more than two yards ahead of New York. The defenses are also equally close in yards allowed, but the Bills have a near-touchdown advantage in terms of scoring defense (20.4 ppg compared to 26.5). The difference has been with turnovers. Buffalo is tied for seventh in the league with a plus-seven differential while New York is tied for 29th at minus-11. The Bills are near the top of the league in takeaways with 21 (12 INTs, 9 fumbles) while the Jets are last with just seven (3 INTs, 4 fumbles). To put it simply, Buffalo is plus-nine in its six wins and minus-two in its wins. New York is plus-two in its wins and minus-13 in its losses. One of the reasons the Bills are sitting at .500 and the Jets have won just two games is the vast discrepancy when it comes to ball security. This part of the game was huge in the first meeting and Buffalo would be well served to capitalize on its apparent advantage in this area tonight as well. The Bills may not be playing a true home game, but that doesn’t mean they can’t stick to the formula that has worked so well for them this season.


Final Analysis


It has been anything but business as usual for Buffalo this past week. Not only did the snowstorm disrupt the Bills’ schedule, it forced the relocation of this game to Detroit. New York had to change up its routine too, but from a readiness standpoint, the Jets have a distinct advantage. However, there are plenty of reasons why one team is at .500 and one team is 2-8, and it starts at the quarterback position. Both teams have gone through quarterback changes, but Buffalo’s switch has been more successful than New York’s. Kyle Orton’s best game this season came back in Week 8 when the Bills trounced the Jets. I’m not expecting a repeat, but I do think Buffalo will take care of business at “home” tonight.

Prediction: Buffalo 24, New York 20
New York Jets vs. Buffalo Bills Preview and Prediction
Post date: Monday, November 24, 2014 - 10:00
All taxonomy terms: Detroit Lions, New England Patriots, NFL, News
Path: /nfl/detroit-lions-vs-new-england-patriots-preview-and-prediction

Whether this ends up being a preview of Super Bowl XLIX remains to be seen, but this afternoon’s matchup between the Detroit Lions and New England Patriots on FOX will certainly have a say in how the postseason plays out. The Lions (7-3) enter this week second in the NFC behind Arizona thanks to tiebreakers over both Philadelphia (conference win percentage) and Green Bay (head-to-head victory). The Patriots (8-2) are in first place in the AFC, a game ahead of Denver with a victory over the Broncos already in their back pocket.


Detroit Lions at New England Patriots


Kickoff: 1 p.m. ET

TV Channel: FOX

Spread: New England -7


This afternoon’s game is strength on strength, as Detroit’s No. 1-ranked defense will try and slow down a New England offense that’s averaged 45 points and 462 yards per game over the last three contests. In particular, the battle up front will be interesting to watch. The Lions are limiting opponents to an NFL-best 68.8 yards rushing per game thanks to one of the most disruptive defensive lines in the league.


Jonas Gray, a third-year journeyman who wasn’t even on the radar entering this season, ran roughshod over the Colts for 201 yards and a Patriots single-game record four touchdowns last week. Detroit has allowed just four rushing touchdowns in 10 games. If the Lions’ front four can control the line of scrimmage, it will allow the back seven to focus on limiting the damage done by Tom Brady and the passing game.


Detroit’s offense hasn’t been near as productive as New England’s, but the Lions are capable of putting points on the board, especially with Calvin Johnson back from an ankle injury. The key will be getting more from a ground game that ranks near the bottom of the league against a rushing defense that at times has had trouble stopping the run. The more Detroit can accomplish on the ground, the more opportunities Matthew Stafford should have to find Johnson and Golden Tate down field.


The Lions’ defense has already held its own against offensive teams like the Packers and the Saints, but the Patriots have been clicking on all cylinders lately. Detroit may be able to keep Brady and company in check, but I’m not sure the Lions will be able to score enough points to beat a hot New England team at home. It should be an entertaining, tightly contested affair, but look for some late turnovers to help the Patriots secure their seventh straight win.


Prediction: New England 27, Detroit 20
Detroit Lions vs. New England Patriots Preview and Prediction
Post date: Sunday, November 23, 2014 - 09:00
All taxonomy terms: Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants, NFC, NFC East, NFL, News
Path: /nfl/dallas-cowboys-vs-new-york-giants-preview-and-prediction-2014

NFC East rivals headed in opposite directions will put a bow on Sunday’s slate when the Dallas Cowboys face the New York Giants tonight on NBC. The Cowboys (7-3) come out of their bye rested and probably with one eye on Thursday’s showdown with the Eagles. The Giants (3-7) are reeling, losers of five in a row and looking like a team that already has one eye on next season.


Dallas beat New York 31-21 back in Week 7 and has won three in a row against its longtime divisional rivals. One big difference between then and now is that the Giants were without leading rusher Rashad Jennings, who was out because of a knee sprain. 


Dallas Cowboys at New York Giants


Kickoff: 8:30 p.m. ET

TV Channel: NBC

Spread: Dallas -3.5


Dallas' Key to Victory: Stick to the Game Plan

The Cowboys’ bye last week couldn’t have come at a better time. Even though Tony Romo threw for 246 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions in the 31-17 win over Jacksonville in London, it was pretty apparent that he wasn’t completely healthy. Romo missed the previous game with a back injury and given how stiff he looked moving around the pocket against the Jaguars and the extra time he took to get up off of the turf, Dallas is very fortunate he was able to finish the game relatively unscathed. The bye gave Romo an extra week to recover, so he should be in pretty good shape for tonight’s game. That doesn’t mean, however, that the game plan should call for him to throw it all over the field, even though the Giants’ secondary has been decimated by injuries. A big reason the Cowboys are 7-3 is because they have let DeMarco Murray and one of the NFL’s best offensive lines do the heavy lifting. Murray is leading the league in rushing by nearly 300 yards, as Dallas is averaging 153.2 yards per game on the ground. New York entered this week dead last in rushing defense (145.0 ypg) and has yielded nearly 500 yards in the last two games alone. In all three of the Cowboys’ losses, the offense had more pass attempts than rushes. A heavy dose of Murray has worked well for Dallas so far, so there’s no reason to change up things now.


New York's Key to Victory: Get Rashad Jennings Back on Track

The Giants are 3-7 and have lost five games in a row. While the defense has been a huge issue during this losing streak, allowing 431.4 yards and 30.4 points per game, the offense has offered little support. In particular, the running game has really struggled, gaining less than 80 yards per game. This of course puts more pressure on Eli Manning and the passing game, which hasn’t been able to carry the load. Manning has seven touchdowns and six interceptions in the last five games, with five of those picks coming last week against San Francisco. New York won three in a row from Weeks 3-5 and it was due in part to a ground game that averaged 157 yards per contest. Jennings, their No. 1 running back, was responsible for 286 of those yards, before leaving the Week 5 win over Atlanta early with a knee injury. Jennings missed the next four games, all Giant (no pun intended) losses, as Andre Williams and Peyton Hillis were unable to replace his production. Jennings returned last week and picked up 59 yards on 18 carries, but it should be pointed out that New York only lost by six points despite Manning’s five interceptions. This Giants’ offense is clearly a different animal when Jennings is in the backfield, so it’s critical that coordinator Bob McAdoo and Manning get the ball in his hands early and often. Besides, it’s not like the pass-heavy approach has worked that well these past five games right?


Final Analysis


Dallas has lost two of its past three games, but coming off of a bye that seems like a long time ago. New York has lost five in a row and it has been a long time since it beat Atlanta back in Week 5. The Cowboys should be rested and pretty healthy as they gear up for a stretch run that includes two games in a span of 17 days against Philadelphia and a date with Indianapolis. The Giants won’t roll over, since this is a divisional rivalry, but this defense is too banged up and has offered little to no opposition recently. Dallas should be able to control the clock with its running game, which will open up big-play opportunities down the field for a healthier Tony Romo. Cowboys tune up for Thursday night’s showdown against the Eagles by beating the Giants for the fourth time in a row.

Prediction: Dallas 31, New York 23
Dallas Cowboys vs. New York Giants Preview and Prediction
Post date: Sunday, November 23, 2014 - 09:00