Articles By Mark Ross

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He has only played in six games, but Rob Gronkowski has proven his value to both his team and yours, which is why he's No. 1 in Athlon Sports' fantasy football Week 14 tight end rankings. Gronk still trails Jimmy Graham by more than 100 fantasy points on the season, but Tom Brady's favorite target has recorded a touchdown in four straight games. Gronk's average of 16.6 fantasy points per game is topped by just one of his peers — Graham.

Speaking of Graham, he hauled in his 12th touchdown catch of the season on Monday night in Seattle, but the Seahawks did a pretty good job of keeping him in check with just three receptions for 42 yards. He faces another tough matchup in Carolina this week, but he and Gronkowski are clearly the cream of the tight end crop.

That doesn't mean there aren't other productive tight ends out there, however. One possible option is Julius Thomas, who is third in fantasy points at the position despite not playing the past two weeks because of an ankle injury. If Thomas is able to return to the Broncos' lineup this week, he gets a Tennessee defense that is in the middle of the pack when it comes to fantasy points allowed to tight ends. Just make sure Thomas is playing before plugging him into your lineup. Fantasy playoff time is not the week you want to risk a DNP from one of your starters.

Each week during the NFL season, we will rank enough players at each position to appease everyone from those in 8-team leagues to 16-team leagues, those that can start two QBs, two TEs, three RBs and four WRs. We cut out the rest, because if you're looking at who the 50th-best running back or the 17th-best kicker is for that week, you need more help than any website can give you.

2013 NFL Week 14 Fantasy Football Rankings — Tight Ends

RkPlayerTeamOPP
1Rob GronkowskiNEvs. CLE
2Jimmy GrahamNOvs. CAR
3Vernon DavisSFvs. SEA
4Jason WittenDALat CHI (Mon.)
5Tony GonzalezATLat GB
6Greg OlsenCARat NO
7Julius ThomasDENvs. TEN
8Antonio GatesSDvs. NYG
9Martellus BennettCHIvs. DAL (Mon.)
10Jared CookSTLat ARI
11Coby FleenerINDat CIN
12Jordan CameronCLEat NE
13Delanie WalkerTENat DEN
14Jordan ReedWASvs. KC
15Charles ClayMIAat PIT
16Ladarius GreenSDvs. NYG
17Heath MillerPITvs. MIA
18Garrett GrahamHOUat JAC (Thurs.)
19Brandon MyersNYGat SD
20Rob HouslerARIvs. STL

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

OFFENSIVE SCORING
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

Additional Week 14 Positional Rankings

Quarterbacks
Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Defense/Special Teams

Kickers

Teaser:
Fantasy Football 2013 Tight End Rankings: Week 14
Post date: Thursday, December 5, 2013 - 06:30
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Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2013-defspecial-teams-rankings-week-14
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Coming off of Monday night's dominating performance against one of the best offenses in the NFL is there even any doubt as to which team tops Athlon Sports' fantasy football Week 14 defense/special teams rankings? Seattle held Drew Brees and the Saints to one lone touchdown and 188 yards of offense in Monday night's dominating win at home. The Seahawks' defense scored a TD on a fumble return and on the season trail only Kansas City and Carolina in fantasy points among DSTs.

Seattle and San Francisco will lock horns this Sunday and even though the Seahawks' "12th Man" won't be present at Candlestick Park, don't expect a bunch of points from either team in this one. As for the Saints, they have another tough matchup ahead of them in the aforementioned Panthers, but New Orleans will be back home in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, which is why Carolina is ranked lower this week (ninth) than it has been for most of this season.

No DST had a better week last week than the Lions. Detroit feasted on Matt Flynn and the Packers on Thanksgiving Day, as the Lions' defense gave up just a 54-yard field goal and a PAT (Green Bay's TD was on a fumble return), while amassing seven sacks, a safety and three takeaways (2 fumble recoveries, INT). The Lions DST may not be as productive, however, this week since Sunday's date in Philadelphia has all the makings of a high-scoring affair. Neither the Lions nor Eagles made our top 16 fantasy DSTs for Week 14.

Each week during the NFL season, we will rank enough players at each position to appease everyone from those in 8-team leagues to 16-team leagues, those that can start two QBs, two TEs, three RBs and four WRs. We cut out the rest, because if you're looking at who the 50th-best running back or the 17th-best kicker is for that week, you need more help than any Web site can give you.

2013 NFL Week 14 Fantasy Football Rankings — Defense/Special Teams

RkTeamOPP
1Seattle Seahawksat SF
2Cincinnati Bengalsvs. IND
3San Francisco 49ersvs. SEA
4New England Patriotsvs. CLE
5Arizona Cardinalsvs. STL
6St. Louis Ramsat ARI
7Baltimore Ravensvs. MIN
8Kansas City Chiefsat WAS
9Carolina Panthersat NO
10Oakland Raidersat NYJ
11Denver Broncosvs. TEN
12Houston Texansat JAC (Thurs.)
13New York Giantsat SD
14Tampa Bay Buccaneersvs. BUF
15New Orleans Saintsvs. CAR
16Pittsburgh Steelersvs. MIA

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

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

Additional Week 14 Positional Rankings

Quarterbacks
Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends

Kickers

Teaser:
Fantasy Football 2013 Defense/Special Teams Rankings: Week 14
Post date: Thursday, December 5, 2013 - 06:30
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy football rankings, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2013-kicker-rankings-week-14
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Stephen Gostkowski heads up Athlon Sports' fantasy football Week 14 kicker rankings, but no one has been hotter at the position lately than Justin Tucker. The Ravens' kicker has connected on 27 straight field goal attempts, including 13 over the past four weeks.

In his career, Tucker is 59 of 64 (92.2 percent) on field goal attempts, making him the most accurate kicker in NFL history. Tucker could be fairly busy against this week against Minnesota. The Vikings are giving up the sixth-most fantasy points to kickers this season.

Each week during the NFL season, we will rank enough players at each position to appease everyone from those in 8-team leagues to 16-team leagues, those that can start two QBs, two TEs, three RBs and four WRs. We cut out the rest, because if you're looking at who the 50th-best running back or the 17th-best kicker is for that week, you need more help than any Web site can give you.

2013 NFL Week 14 Fantasy Football Rankings — Kickers

RkPlayerTeamOPPONENT
1Stephen GostkowskiNEvs. CLE
2Justin TuckerBALvs. MIN
3Steven HauschkaSEAat SF
4Matt PraterDENvs. TEN
5Adam VinatieriINDat CIN
6Blair WalshMINat BAL
7Dan BaileyDALat CHI (Mon.)
8Mason CrosbyGBvs. ATL
9Robbie GouldCHIvs. DAL (Mon.)
10Shaun SuishamPITvs. MIA
11Phil DawsonSFvs. SEA
12Caleb SturgisMIAat PIT
13Ryan SuccopKCat WAS
14Alex HeneryPHIvs. DET
15Garrett HartleyNOvs. CAR
16Nick FolkNYJvs. OAK

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

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

Additional Week 14 Positional Rankings

Quarterbacks
Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends
Defense/Special Teams

Teaser:
Fantasy Football 2013 Kicker Rankings: Week 14
Post date: Thursday, December 5, 2013 - 06:30
Path: /nfl/denver-broncos-vs-kansas-city-chiefs-preview-and-prediction
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First place in the AFC West and the top seed in the playoffs are on the line this afternoon when the Denver Broncos face the Kansas City Chiefs at 4:25 p.m. ET on CBS. The Broncos and Chiefs are currently tied for the best record in the AFC at 9-2, with Denver holding the tiebreaker edge over Kansas City by virtue of their 27-17 win two weeks ago.

For the first time all season, both teams are coming off of losses, as Denver and Peyton Manning tied a franchise record by blowing a 24-point halftime lead to New England last week before losing in overtime, 34-31. Kansas City’s 41-38 loss to San Diego last Sunday was its second loss in a row and the first at home all season for Alex Smith and company. Now the Chiefs look to bounce back and snap a three-game losing streak to their division rivals in the process.

3 Things to Watch

You Look Familiar…
It was just two weeks ago that Denver and Kansas City faced each other. At that time, the Chiefs were the only remaining undefeated team (9-0), while the Broncos had just one loss (8-1). The Broncos jumped out to a 10-0 lead at home in the first quarter and never really looked back. Denver would go on to win 27-17 behind 323 yards passing by Peyton Manning. The 27 points were, at the time, the most allowed by Kansas City’s defense, which didn’t record a single sack of Manning. On offense, the Chiefs out-gained the Broncos 144 to 104 on the ground, but struggled to find their rhythm in the passing game. Alex Smith had one more touchdown pass (2 to 1) than Manning, but nearly 100 fewer yards and he was sacked three times. Each team lost a fumble and drew their share of yellow flags. The teams combined for 22 penalties for 135 yards, with the Broncos (13 for 82 yards) being the bigger culprit. Outside of the score and total yardage (Denver 427, Kansas City 344), there was very little separation between them, statistically speaking. First downs were even (24 apiece), the total number of plays was very close (76 to 73) and just 14 seconds separated the Broncos (29:53) and Chiefs (30:07) in time of possession. In the end, the Broncos were just a little more efficient and productive in the passing game, which combined with the Chiefs’ inability to get to Manning, resulted in Denver staying perfect at home and moving into first place in the AFC West.

Bumps and Bruises
Last week was tough for both Denver and Kansas City, and not just because they both lost after leading at halftime. Several key players for both teams sustained injuries, and their potential absences or limited capacities could greatly impact this game. For the Broncos, the biggest concern is running back Knowshon Moreno, who gashed the Patriots for a career-high 224 yards last week, but left the stadium on crutches after sustaining a bone bruise to his right ankle. Despite the initial concern, Moreno did return to practice on Thursday and Friday and is expected to play. The status of cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie is a little more uncertain. Rodgers-Cromartie injured his shoulder against the Patriots, which caused him to leave the game and not return. His absence was one of the catalysts that helped fuel the Patriots’ second-half comeback. He was limited in Friday’s practice and is considered questionable to play this afternoon. The Broncos could get a boost, however, with the return of tight end Julius Thomas and cornerback Champ Bailey. Thomas was held out of last week’s game because of a knee injury, but is currently on track to play, while Bailey is expected to be back in the lineup for the first time since re-aggravating a foot injury back in Week 7. Kansas City’s defense, however, may not be as fortunate when it comes to its banged-up personnel. Linebackers Justin Houston and Tamba Hail both left last week’s game against San Diego with injuries. Hali sprained his ankle, but he has insisted that he will play. Houston, meanwhile, dislocated his elbow and reportedly could miss up to three weeks. The Chiefs entered Week 13 with an NFL-leading 37 sacks. Houston (11 sacks, tied for third in the NFL) and Hali (9, tied for 10th) are responsible for 20 of them. Kansas City didn’t record a single sack or quarterback hit on Peyton Manning in the first game two weeks ago. This task only figures to get harder without Houston and if Hail ends up being limited. For example, even though Houston didn’t have a sack in the first game, he led the Chiefs with 10 total tackles (9 solo). Injuries are just part of the game, especially at this point in the season, but it appears that the Broncos are the healthier team entering this key contest.

Which Defense Bounces Back Best?
Through the first nine games, Kansas City’s defense had allowed no more than 17 points and 283 yards passing. In their last two games, losses to the Broncos and Chargers, the Chiefs have given up an average of 34 points per game and 355 yards through the air. Last week, Philip Rivers carved up the pass defense for nearly 400 yards (392) and three touchdowns. Peyton Manning threw for 323 against Kansas City the first time, and the Chiefs will be without their most productive pass-rusher (Justin Houston) this afternoon. One way or the other, the Chiefs’ defense needs to fix what’s been ailing it the past two weeks. For Denver’s defense, it was a tale of two halves last week in New England. After shutting out the Patriots in the first half and doing everything right, the wheels came completely off in the final two quarters. Top cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie injured his shoulder on the final play of the first half and didn’t return. The Broncos’ defense wasn’t the same after that, as Tom Brady completed 81 percent of his passes and threw three touchdowns in the third and fourth quarters to help send the game into overtime. A couple of untimely turnovers certainly didn’t help matters, but no doubt interim head coach Jack Del Rio and his staff spent a lot of time this week trying to figure out what went wrong, especially in pass coverage. Both defenses had their moments in the Week 11 meeting and now it’s up to both units to quickly put last week’s disastrous performances behind and focus on the task ahead. This isn’t basketball, but whichever defense “wins” the rebound battle this afternoon will likely leave Arrowhead Stadium victorious.

Denver Key Player: Montee Ball, RB
Knowshon Moreno was the man and then some last week against New England, rushing for 224 yards and a touchdown. Alas, it wasn’t enough as the Broncos blew a 24-0 halftime lead and lost 34-31 in overtime. On top of that, the 37 carries Moreno had took their toll, as he left Gillette Stadium on crutches after sustaining a bone bruise to his right ankle. Moreno is expected to play this afternoon, but the situation brought to light one of the Broncos’ biggest concerns entering the stretch run – not overworking their No. 1 back. That’s where Ball, and to a degree either C.J. Anderson or Ronnie Hillman, are supposed to come in. Ball, Denver’s second-round pick in April’s draft, has contributed more as the season has gone on, including three rushing touchdowns over his last four games. However, ball security remains an issue for the rookie, as he’s lost three fumbles. The latest was rather costly, as Ball fumbled on a screen pass on the Broncos’ first possession of the second half after New England scored its first touchdown. The Patriots turned that fumble into a touchdown just six plays later, cutting a 24-point lead to just 10 in less than 10 minutes. Ball’s fumble is not the only reason why the Broncos lost last week. However, with the wear and tear adding up on Moreno, it’s critical that the rookie show the coaching staff, and Peyton Manning for that matter, that he can get the job done when his number is called. If Ball can’t be counted on in the regular season, what do you think will happen in the playoffs?

Kansas City Key Player: Alex Smith, QB
When surrendering 17 or fewer points, the Chiefs are 9-0 this season. This is a good thing, considering the Chiefs are scoring less than 25 points per game. Kansas City has put more than 28 on the scoreboard two times this season, with one of those being the 41-38 loss to San Diego last week. Contrast that to Denver, who has scored fewer than 28 points once, when the Broncos beat the Chiefs 27-17 two weeks ago. Smith is known for being more of a game manager than a risk-taker, but as the Chiefs have found out the past two weeks, there will be some games where the defense can’t be expected to do all of the heavy lifting. Kansas City’s offense is powered by running back Jamaal Charles, but Smith has to be able to hold his own when he’s going up against quarterbacks like Peyton Manning or Philip Rivers, especially come playoff time. In the last two games, both Kansas City losses, Smith threw for a combined total of 524 yards, five touchdowns and one interception. Manning and Rivers combined for 715 yards passing, four touchdowns and no picks. Kansas City out-rushed both Denver and San Diego, and yet still lost both games – by 10 points to the Broncos and three to the Chargers. The Chiefs’ defense was a big reason why they got out to a 9-0 start. It’s now Smith’s and the offense’s turn to lead the way.

Final Analysis

Having just played each other two weeks ago, Denver and Kansas City probably spent more time this week figuring out what went wrong last week than on game planning for each other. There’s no doubt both teams are still feeling the pain from last Sunday’s disappointing (to put it mildly) losses. A strong case could be made that the Broncos’ second-half collapse was more devastating than the Chiefs’ late defensive lapses against the Chargers, but one or the way other, each team must move on.

Denver won the first meeting two weeks ago behind the passing of Peyton Manning and a stellar performance from the offensive line and running backs in pass protection. Kansas City’s disruptive pass rush never laid a hand on Manning, which gave him more than enough time to find the open man down field. Pressuring the quarterback could play another big part in this afternoon’s game, as Denver’s All-Pro linebacker Von Miller has been a difference-maker since his return from suspension, while Kansas City’s productive pass rush won’t be at 100 percent with Justin Houston sidelined and Tamba Hail likely limited.

Last week’s loss to the Patriots was definitely a hard one for the Broncos to digest, but this is a veteran team that knows full well there’s still business to take care of. Meanwhile, I think the inexperienced Chiefs are still learning how to deal with adversity, and the offense hasn’t shown an ability to completely pick up the slack while the defense has struggled these past two weeks. In the end, the growing pains for the Chiefs continue, as the Broncos pull ahead in the AFC West and the race for home-field advantage in the playoffs.

Denver 30, Kansas City 20

Teaser:
Denver Broncos vs. Kansas City Chiefs Preview and Prediction
Post date: Sunday, December 1, 2013 - 09:00
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The Week 13 injury report is littered with the names of key running backs. Athlon Sports has the latest information on the ones you need to know about.

Darren Sproles, RB, New Orleans Saints at Seattle Seahawks (Mon.)
Sproles (ankle) was held out of last week’s game against Atlanta, which was played on a Thursday. The extra rest seemed to have paid off, as he was a full participant in practice this week and is considered Probable for the Monday night showdown with the Seahawks. Seattle’s defense is tough, especially at home, so this isn’t the best of matchups for Sproles. Still, with this versatility as a receiver and his obvious chemistry with Drew Brees, Sproles should be a fairly safe flex option.

Knowshon Moreno, RB, Denver Broncos at Kansas City Chiefs
Moreno left last week’s loss in New England on crutches after sustaining a bone bruise to his right ankle. He was limited in practice at the start of the week, but showed marked improvement by Friday’s session. Moreno is listed as Probable and expected to play in this key afternoon matchup with Kansas City. He is coming off of a monster game (224 yards rushing, TD) against the Patriots, so if you have Moreno you’re starting him. Don’t expect to see 37 carries this week again, however, as the Broncos will probably limit Moreno’s workload to make sure he’s as fresh as possible for the playoffs.

Zac Stacy, RB, St. Louis Rams at San Francisco 49ers
Stacy sustained a concussion last week against Chicago, but not before he rushed for 87 yards and a touchdown on just 12 carries. He practiced fully on Friday, has passed all the necessary tests and has been cleared to return. He is listed as Probable and expected to play this afternoon. The matchup with San Francisco is far from ideal, but Stacy has been too productive (410 yards rushing, 4 TDs in last four games) lately to really consider benching him. If anything, just view Stacy as a RB2 this week when setting your lineup.

Ryan Mathews, RB, San Diego Chargers vs. Cincinnati Bengals
Mathews is dealing with a hamstring issue, but he practiced fully on Friday and is listed as Probable. It’s been a curious season for Mathews, who has just four total touchdowns and three 100-yard rushing games. He’s scored a short touchdown in two of his past three outings and sandwiched those around 127 yards rushing against Miami. Danny Woodhead is very much a factor in the Chargers’ backfield, which probably caps Mathews’ potential as a RB2 this week.

Already Ruled Out

Brandon Jacobs, RB, New York Giants – Listed as Questionable entering last week’s game because of a knee injury, Jacobs rushed for 75 yards on nine carries in the loss to Dallas. Whether it happened during the game or sometime after, Jacobs apparently re-aggravated the knee injury, as he’s already been declared Out against Washington. Andre Brown figures to be quite busy against a Redskins defense that has given up 13 rushing touchdowns and the fifth-most fantasy points to running backs.

Daniel Thomas, RB, Miami Dolphins – Thomas is out for the rest of the season because of an ankle injury, which means (hopefully) that Lamar Miller finally gets his chance at being a lead back. Miller’s usage this season has been somewhat sporadic, as it appears that the coaching stuff is reluctant to rely on him. Miller’s had his flashes (105 yards rushing vs. Cincinnati in Week 9), but he’s totaled just 21 carries over his last three games. Even though Miller has a golden opportunity in front of him, he faces a tough matchup this week in the Jets, the NFL’s No. 1 rush defense. Owners should be excited about Miller’s potential moving forward, but need to temper that enthusiasm this week.

Teaser:
Week 13 Injury Updates: Darren Sproles, Knowshon Moreno, Zac Stacy, Ryan Mathews
Post date: Sunday, December 1, 2013 - 06:30
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Even with three games on Thanksgiving Day, there’s still a full slate of Week 13 action today. Here are some wide receiver injuries you need to know about before setting your starting lineup.

Brandon Marshall, WR, Chicago Bears at Minnesota Vikings
A quadriceps injury limited Marshall in practice, but he is listed as Probable for today’s game in Minnesota. Marshall hasn’t missed a beat with Josh McCown at quarterback in place of Jay Cutler. In McCown’s three starts, Marshall has averaged nearly 12 targets per game and has turned those into a total of 21 catches for 363 yards and four touchdowns. Regardless of who is under center for the Bears, Marshall is locked in as a WR1.

Michael Floyd, WR, Arizona Cardinals at Philadelphia Eagles
The shoulder is still enough of an issue to limit him in practice, but there’s been nothing wrong with Floyd come game day. He’s caught 13 passes for 297 yards and a touchdown in his last two outings. Sure, you would love to see more touchdowns, but as along as Floyd is getting the targets (18 in the last two games), he should probably be in your lineup, even with an injured shoulder. Floyd is Probable to play the Eagles and with a matchup like that you pretty much have to roll the dice and see what happens.

Cecil Shorts and Mike Brown, WRs, Jacksonville Jaguars at Cleveland Browns
Shorts’ groin issue continues to limit him in practice, but he is considered Probable to face the Browns. Last week Shorts saw 11 targets against Houston, so he should be plenty busy today, though he will be matched up with Cleveland’s shutdown cornerback Joe Haden. Brown missed last week’s game because of a shoulder injury and he’s looking like a game-time decision for this one. He is listed as Questionable, but unless you have no other options, there’s no reason to wait and see if Brown will play.

Santonio Holmes and Jeremy Kerley, WRs, New York Jets vs. Miami Dolphins
Holmes just can’t seem to stay healthy. After missing five games because of a hamstring injury, Holmes played in the past two contests. His production, however, was minimal (12 receptions, 83 yards combined), and it appears that his hamstring is an issue once again. Holmes was limited in practice on Wednesday and then missed the next two days. Rex Ryan has already voiced his concern regarding Holmes’ availability against Miami. Holmes is listed as Questionable, but his status won’t be known until game time. With the Jets’ issues on offense and at quarterback right now, I wouldn’t wait that long to make up your mind. Bench Holmes and save yourself the disappointment later. As far as Kerley goes, he also is expected to be a game-time decision, as he’s missed the last two games with a dislocated elbow. Again, there’s nothing to get excited about when it comes to the Jets’ passing game right now and Kerley’s potential return doesn’t change this.

Already Ruled Out

Aaron Dobson, WR, New England Patriots – Dobson played just two snaps in the second half last week against Denver and it appears that a foot injury is to blame. It’s an injury that kept the rookie out of practice this week and he’s already been ruled out for this afternoon’s game against Houston. Rob Gronkowski and Danny Amendola are the top two pass-catching threats for the Patriots, with Julian Edelman and Shane Vereen falling in behind somewhere. I wouldn’t expect too much from Kenbrell Thompkins this week, even with Dobson sidelined.

Teaser:
Week 13 Injury Updates: Brandon Marshall, Michael Floyd, Cecil Shorts, Santonio Holmes
Post date: Sunday, December 1, 2013 - 06:30
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One NFC West team gets its top wide receiver back in Week 13 while another will most likely be without theirs. Elsewhere, Buffalo should have its top pass-catching duo for its game in Toronto while a Giant wideout appears ready to return after missing last week.

Michael Crabtree, WR, San Francisco 49ers vs. St. Louis Rams
Crabtree doesn’t even appear on the injury report this week, as he’s expected to make his season debut against the Rams. The 49ers’ leading receiver last season, Crabtree tore his Achilles tendon in late March and has been working hard to get back to the field. Even though he’s expected to play, his snaps will be limited so it’s hard to envision him making much of an impact fantasy-wise. If you have room, there’s nothing wrong with stashing Crabtree, just don’t be surprised if it takes a week or two for him to round into form.

Hakeem Nicks, WR, New York Giants at Washington
Despite proclaiming that he will “surely play,” Nicks ended up being a late scratch last week because of his abdominal strain. Whatever the reasoning behind the decision, the rest appears to have benefitted Nicks. He was able to practice in some capacity all week and is considered Probable for tonight’s matchup with Washington. Nicks’ struggles have been documented (42 rec., 0 TDs), but the Redskins are 27th in the NFL in passing defense and 31st in points allowed, so maybe this will be the game he finally breaks through.

Stevie Johnson and Robert Woods, WRs, Buffalo Bills vs. Atlanta Falcons (Toronto)
Johnson (groin) and Woods (ankle) both missed the Bills’ last game, but that came in Week 11 as they were on bye last week. The extra rest seemed to help both wideouts, as they are considered Probable for the Bills’ annual appearance in Toronto. Atlanta has struggled against the pass all season, so this appears to be a good matchup for Johnson and Woods. Johnson remains ahead of Woods in the pecking order and in terms of fantasy rankings, at least for now. For this week, I would put Johnson near the end of the WR2 options and Woods among the middle of the WR3 tier.

Eddie Royal, WR, San Diego Chargers vs. Cincinnati Bengals
Royal has been dealing with a toe injury for well over a month. While it’s impacted his practice time, it never cost him a game, despite always being listed as Questionable. Last week, Royal added a chest injury to his ailments and it looks like this one will cost him at least one game. Royal was downgraded from Questionable to Doubtful on Saturday, which is all you need to know. Keenan Allen and Vincent Brown figure to be Philip Rivers’ top two wideouts against Cincinnati with Seyi Ajirotutu and Lavelle Hawkins potentially seeing more playing time. Allen is the only Charger wide receiver you need to pay attention to.

Percy Harvin, WR, Seattle Seahawks vs. New Orleans Saints (Mon.)
Harvin made his season debut two weeks ago against Minnesota with the Seahawks on bye last week. Unfortunately, it appears that Harvin’s surgically repaired hip isn’t quite ready to handle the load of practicing and playing, as he is considered Doubtful to play on Monday night. Harvin is experiencing continuing soreness and the team is choosing to play it safe for the time being. Hopefully you weren’t counting on Harvin to be an impact performer this week anyways.

Teaser:
Injury Updates Week 13: Michael Crabtree, Hakeem Nicks, Stevie Johnson, Percy Harvin
Post date: Sunday, December 1, 2013 - 06:30
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy Football, injury updates, NFL, Fantasy, News
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Quarterbacks appear to be healthy for the most part entering today’s Week 13 action. The same can’t be said as it relates to the tight end position, however.

Antonio Gates, TE, San Diego Chargers vs. Cincinnati Bengals
Gates missed some practice time with a hamstring injury, but he was a full go on Friday and is considered Probable for this afternoon’s home game. Gates has been a top-10 fantasy TE this season and even with the occasional explosive play by backup Ladarius Green, Gates remains one of Philip Rivers’ favorite targets. The Bengals have done pretty well against tight ends, but that’s no reason to shy away from Gates.

Julius Thomas, TE, Denver Broncos at Kansas City Chiefs
Thomas was held out of last week’s game because of a knee injury and he’s not back to 100 percent just yet. He was limited in practice all week, which is why he’s listed as Questionable. He was able to practice, in a limited fashion, all week so he appears to have a good chance of playing, as long as there are no setbacks. The Broncos-Chiefs game is in the afternoon (4:25 p.m. ET) and considering he didn’t play last week, a little more caution is probably warranted this time around with Thomas. As long as he’s not ruled out before kickoff, I think it’s safe to stick with Thomas, but I would have a Plan B (Jacob Tamme perhaps?) ready just in case.

Rob Gronkowski, TE, New England Patriots at Houston Texans
Gronkowski was listed as Probable last week, so it’s a little curious to see him Questionable for today’s game in Houston. However, this is the Patriots we are talking about, and there doesn’t seem to be any reason to be concerned. Roll with Gronk as you usually do, as he’s caught a touchdown pass in three straight games.

Tony Gonzalez, TE, Atlanta Falcons at Buffalo Bills (Toronto)
The future Hall of Famer has been limited in practice because of a toe injury, but he has yet to miss a game. Gonzalez is officially listed as Questionable but I don’t think he would make the long trip up north if he wasn’t intending to play. Even though Gonzalez has just four touchdown catches this season, he’s still solidly within the top 10 in fantasy scoring at his position. The numbers may not be as a big every week, but Gonzalez still carries TE1 potential and needs to be in your starting lineup.

Jordan Reed, TE, Washington Redskins vs. New York Giants
Reed missed last week’s game because of a concussion and it appears he’s not quite out of the woods yet. He’s listed as Questionable on the injury report, but the team seems optimistic about his chances of playing. With some uncertainty regarding his status, as well as the late (8:30 p.m. ET) game slot, it would probably be wise to keep Reed on your bench for at least another week and go with another tight end.

Not Playing Today

Jason Campbell, QB, Cleveland Browns – Campbell sustained a concussion last week against Pittsburgh and has already been ruled out. Brandon Weeden will start against Jacksonville in Campbell’s place and even with a matchup against the Jaguars; it is hard for me to endorse Weeden, even for 2-QB leagues.

Jay Cutler, QB, Chicago Bears – Cutler will miss a third straight game because of an ankle injury, giving Josh McCown another start. Cutler does hope to return for the Week 14 Monday night game against Dallas, but a lot could happen between now and then. For today, McCown will get his shot at a Minnesota defense that is giving up the second-most fantasy points to quarterbacks. Last week, McCown threw for 352 yards, two touchdowns and an interception (first of the season) in the loss to St. Louis. The bye weeks are over, but I have no problem if you want to give McCown another shot, especially in 2-QB leagues.

Kyle Rudolph, TE, Minnesota Vikings – Rudolph remains sidelined with a fractured foot, which leaves John Carlson as the starter. Carlson has been productive to some degree during Rudolph’s absence and has an appealing matchup this week in Chicago. The Bears are allowing the seventh-most fantasy points to tight ends, so Carlson looks pretty good as TE2 option.

Teaser:
Week 13 Injury Updates: Antonio Gates, Julius Thomas, Rob Gronkowski, Tony Gonzalez
Post date: Sunday, December 1, 2013 - 06:30
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy Football, injury updates, NFL, Fantasy, News
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Will injuries to Matt Forté or Adrian Peterson keep either from their head-to-head matchup today? Those aren’t the only running back injuries Athlon Sports is keeping an eye on in Week 13.

Matt Forté, RB, Chicago Bears at Minnesota Vikings
Forté left last week’s game with a hyperextended knee, but he was able to return and finish things. The knee doesn’t really appear to be an issue, as he’s listed as Probable for today’s game with Minnesota. Forté is the No. 2 scoring running back in all of fantasy, so he needs to be in your lineup. Especially against a Vikings defense that is surrendering the third-most fantasy points to RBs.

Adrian Peterson, RB, Minnesota Vikings vs. Chicago Bears
Peterson’s groin is still sore, but he got in a full practice session on Friday and appears ready to go. He is listed as Probable and there’s no probably to it – he has to be in your lineup. Chicago’s run defense is a mess right now, as the Bears have given up an average of 194 yards rushing per game over their last four contests. Peterson had 146 on the ground last week against Green Bay, so the fact that he’s not 100 percent shouldn’t even enter into your thought process.

Jonathan Stewart, Mike Tolbert and DeAngelo Williams, RBs, Carolina Panthers vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Carolina’s trio of running backs all are listed as Questionable on this week’s injury report. Of the three, Williams appears to be the most uncertain because of a quad contusion that has held him out of practice all week. Stewart (ankle) and Tolbert (knee) are also nursing injuries, but they were able to practice to some degree. If Williams can’t go, Stewart would get the start with Tolbert getting his usual work in short-yardage and goal-line situations. Although Williams’ absence would mean one less mouth to feed, it’s still a crowded backfield, especially when you take into consideration Cam Newton’s ability to run the ball. As far as this week goes, I would stay away from Williams and rank Stewart slightly better than Tolbert. If he gets the start, Stewart looks to be a pretty solid flex play with the potential to provide RB2 production. At best, Tolbert is a flex option.

Ben Tate, RB, Houston Texans vs. New England Patriots
Tate has been playing with broken ribs for several weeks now and has yet to miss a game. He’s Probable for this afternoon’s visit from New England, and the only real concern with Tate is that he had just one yard on seven carries last week against Jacksonville. All Tate owners can hope is that last week was the exception and not the rule. As long as he gets his typical workload, Tate should provide RB2 production.

Chris Ivory, RB, New York Jets vs. Miami Dolphins
Ivory injured his ankle on his first carry last week, which impacted his effectiveness against Baltimore. He finished with nine carries for 35 yards rushing, although he did have a long of 17 yards. He was limited earlier in the week, but practiced fully on Friday and is listed as Probable. He should play against the Dolphins, but if he is limited or suffers any sort of setback, Ivory figures to lose carries to Bilal Powell. Ivory is still the Jet running back to own/start, but just be sure you understand the situation before plugging him in your lineup.

Andre Ellington, RB, Arizona Cardinals at Philadelphia Eagles
Ellington injured his knee during Thursday’s practice and wasn’t able to participate at all on Friday because of it. He is considered Questionable and will be a game-time decision to face the Eagles. Ellington certainly carries a lot of appeal, as he possesses big-play ability because of his speed, but his value has been limited because of the presence of veteran Rashard Mendenhall in the Cardinals’ backfield. Because of his uncertainty for today’s game, it’s probably safest to steer clear of Ellington all together. Mendenhall could see a bump in his production with Ellington out, but even against the Eagles, I don’t see Mendenhall being any more than a possible RB2 option.

Teaser:
Post date: Sunday, December 1, 2013 - 06:30
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy Football, injury updates, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /fantasy/thanksgiving-day-injury-updates-darren-mcfadden-calvin-johnson-denarius-moore-aaron-rodgers
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Week 13 of NFL action gets started with a Thanksgiving Day tripleheader. With the fantasy playoffs right around the corner, these three early games (Green Bay at Detroit, Oakland at Dallas and Pittsburgh at Baltimore) could be critical to getting your team off to a good start. Before you dig into your turkey and dressing, here is the latest on some key injured players.

Darren McFadden, RB, Oakland Raiders at Dallas Cowboys
McFadden has missed the past three games because of a hamstring injury, but he will be back on the field today. Although McFadden will play, he won’t take back his starting role. Instead he will share the carries with Rashad Jennings, who has averaged 138.3 total yards per game over his last four. From a fantasy standpoint, Jennings is probably the safer option, but the timeshare with McFadden could impact his production potential. The silver lining for both Raider backs is that Dallas is giving up the most fantasy points to opposing running backs this season. Not knowing how the workload is going to be shared, I would place Jennings in the RB2 category with McFadden a consideration at flex, depending on your other options.

Calvin Johnson, WR, Detroit Lions vs. Green Bay Packers
Johnson (above), who has been dealing with a lingering knee injury for most of the season, did not practice on Tuesday, the Lions’ only real session this week. But before you choke on that drumstick, there have been no indications from the All-Pro or the team that he is any danger of missing today’s game. If anything, the rest was probably a precaution given the short turnaround, as he is listed as Probable on the injury report. Besides, even at less than 100 percent, all Johnson has done is post 861 yards receiving over his past five games. That’s the most over a five-game span in the regular season in NFL history, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Johnson missed the first game against Green Bay because of the knee injury, I would be willing to bet my slice of pumpkin pie he won’t miss this one.

Denarius Moore, WR, Oakland Raiders at Dallas Cowboys
Moore missed last week’s game because of a shoulder injury and he didn’t participate in either Monday’s walkthrough or Tuesday’s practice. That alone made him very questionable to begin with, but the Raiders removed any doubt on Wednesday when Moore was declared out for a second straight game. Rod Streater filled in for Moore last week as Matt McGloin's No. 1 target and he will probably do the same today. It could be worth taking a flyer on Streater, who has done well with McGloin under center and considering the fact that Dallas is second to last in the league in passing defense.

Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers at Detroit Lions
Sidelined since breaking his collarbone on Nov. 4, Rodgers returned to practice on Tuesday, albeit in a limited capacity. While that is certainly a step in the right direction, Mike McCarthy put an end to any hopes that Packer fans may have had of their MVP returning on Thanksgiving Day, as the head coach named Matt Flynn the starter against Detroit. Flynn probably earned the nod over Scott Tolzien due to his impressive fourth-quarter and overtime showing (21-of-36, 218-1-0) last week against Minnesota. The Lions aren't exactly shutting opponents' passing games down, so depending on your appetite for risk-taking, Flynn could be a possible starting option, although I would say more for 2-QB leagues rather than standard or shallow ones.

Teaser:
Thanksgiving Day Injury Updates: Darren McFadden, Calvin Johnson, Denarius Moore, Aaron Rodgers
Post date: Thursday, November 28, 2013 - 09:00
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The NFL’s Thanksgiving Day slate of action ends with a tasty matchup of AFC North archrivals, as the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens will meet up again at 8:30 p.m. ET on NBC. While Mike Tomlin’s Steelers and John Harbaugh’s Ravens both sit at 5-6, certainly not where they intended to be entering this season, they are part of the five-team jumble for the final AFC Wild Card spot and just two games behind the division-leading Bengals (7-4).

Pittsburgh has won the last two meetings with the Ravens, the most recent being a 19-16 victory in Week 7. The three-point victory is fitting, considering eight of the last 10 regular-season games have been decided by that exact margin. The Steelers hold a 20-15 edge in the all-time series during the regular season.

4 Things to Watch

When Last We Met
Entering Week 7, Pittsburgh (1-4) had finally gotten into the win column the previous week with a 19-6 victory over the Jets on the road. Baltimore was at 3-3 after dropping a 19-17 decision to Green Bay at home. On a Sunday night at Heinz Field, the defenses more or less dictated things, which is not unusual when the Steelers and Ravens get together. The home team struck first, Ben Roethlisberger connecting with tight end Heath Miller on a short touchdown pass and a 7-0 lead. The teams settled for field goals from there, with Shaun Suisham and Justin Tucker each connecting on three apiece to make the score 16-9 Steelers with less than 10 minutes left in the fourth quarter. Joe Flacco and the Ravens’ offense finally put a sustained drive together, culminating with a one-yard touchdown pass to tight end Dallas Clark and a tie game with less than two minutes to go. Emmanuel Sanders put the Steelers in good field position on the ensuing kickoff, taking it from deep in his own end zone for 44 yards. Starting from his own 37-yard-line, Big Ben led his team 39 yards in seven plays, setting up Suisham for the 42-yard game-winning field goal as time expired. Statistically speaking, the game was pretty even in terms of total yards, first downs and time of possession. The Steelers had the lone turnover, a Miller fumble, but were able to overcome that and win their second straight game after starting the season 0-4. The Ravens, meanwhile, missed a golden opportunity to put their archrivals into a huge hole while also keeping pace with Cincinnati, who was 5-2 after Week 7.

Since Week 7
Baltimore went on bye the week after the loss to Pittsburgh, but the break didn’t help solve the Ravens’ offensive issues. A disappointing showing at Cleveland in Week 9 extended their losing streak to three games before bouncing back with a big overtime win over division-leading Cincinnati in Week 10. The momentum was short lived, however, as the Ravens fell to the Bears on the road the following Sunday in a game that was delayed nearly two hours due to severe weather. The roller-coaster ride continued last week with Baltimore’s defense smothering Geno Smith and the Jets for a comfortable 19-3 victory at home. The Ravens’ defense has done its part most of the season, holding opponents to just 16.8 points per game over the last four with seven takeaways. The offense, however, hasn’t returned the favor. Baltimore averaged just 274 yards and 19.3 points per game, while committing eight turnovers during this same four-game span. The running game has been an issue all season, as the Ravens rank 27th in the NFL in rushing offense, but Joe Flacco hasn’t exactly lit up defenses either. Pittsburgh meanwhile, was unable to build off of its Week 7 victory over Baltimore, as the Steelers made the trek across country to face the Raiders and put themselves into a 21-3 halftime hole they couldn’t crawl out of. The next week was even worse, getting drilled by New England 55-31 in Foxboro, Mass., in a game in which Pittsburgh set franchise records for most points and yards (610) allowed. The Steelers have since turned things around, however, winning their last three by an average margin of 13 points. The offense, behind Ben Roethlisberger, has been more productive and taken care of the ball (1 turnover in last three games), while the defense has had more moments of looking like the Steel Curtain of old. Take out one bad first half (27 PA) against Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson in Week 11 and the Steelers’ defense has given up a total of 21 points in 10 quarters. The Steelers are starting to click on both sides of the ball, and as a result have gone 5-2 since a 0-4 start and are very much alive for a postseason berth.

Smash-Mouth Football
Things are usually pretty physical when the Steelers and Ravens get together, but that doesn’t mean that either team has had much success playing that way this season. Both rank near the bottom of the NFL in rushing offense, with the Ravens coming in at 27th (81.7 ypg) and the Steelers 30th (77.3 ypg). Ray Rice finally posted his first 100-yard game of the season two weeks ago when he went for 131 against Chicago, but he’s still averaging just 2.9 yards per carry and has scored a total of four touchdowns. Pittsburgh rookie Le’Veon Bell has played in two fewer games than Rice (8 to 10) and has fewer carries (143 to 156), yet he has five more yards rushing (455 than 450) and the same number of touchdowns as the Pro Bowler. In fact, Bell’s best game came against Baltimore in Week 7, when he rushed for 93 yards on 19 carries. The Steelers out-rushed the Ravens in that game 141 to 82, and this category should factor into tonight’s game too. Pittsburgh’s success against Baltimore on the ground was somewhat surprising; considering the Ravens have been pretty strong against the run all season. Baltimore is 11th in the league in rushing defense (102.6 ypg) and has given up a grand total of one rushing touchdown so far. The Steelers have had their issues stopping the run, as they rank 23rd in the league (118.8 ypg) and have surrendered 13 rushing touchdowns. However, as the first meeting showed, how things look on paper don’t always play out on the field, especially when it’s these two teams. Either way, whichever team can gain an edge in the battle of the trenches tonight should be well positioned to walk away with the win.

Key Matchup: Ben Roethlisberger vs. Joe Flacco
Even though these are two defensive-minded teams, the connection between the quarterbacks is pretty much unavoidable. Both have led their teams to Super Bowl wins, both are paid like franchise quarterbacks, and both have received their share of criticism. From a numbers standpoint, Roethlisberger is lapping Flacco this season, as Big Ben leads in all statistical categories. He has been buoyed by some big games lately, with 11 touchdown passes and two performances of 367 yards passing or more over his last four games. Flacco has struggled in the afterglow of last season’s Super Bowl championship and since signing his lucrative contract extension. He has the same number of touchdown passes as interceptions (14 apiece) and he is averaging less than 250 yards passing per game. He has surpassed his per-game average just once over his last five outings and Flacco has thrown at least one interception in each of his last four games. It’s no stretch to say that Roethlisberger has all the momentum headed into tonight’s game, but Flacco has already proven that he’s capable of playing at a high level when it matters the most. Tonight may not be the Super Bowl, but both teams need their quarterbacks to bring their “A” game if they want to stay in the thick of the postseason race in the AFC.

Final Analysis

It’s somewhat ironic that two teams that really don’t like each other will play on Thanksgiving Day. However, it’s NFL fans that should be thankful for getting a heated rivalry like Pittsburgh vs. Baltimore as the final course of the NFL’s Turkey Day tripleheader. The fact that the two teams are tied at 5-6 and in the thick of the chase for the final AFC Wild Card spot only makes it even more appetizing.

The Steelers have turned things around in a big way since starting 0-4, and would love to beat the archrival Ravens a third straight time. On the other hand, Baltimore would like to put an end to both of Pittsburgh’s winning streaks (Seelers have won their last three games, as well as two in a row over the Ravens), while also staying within striking distance of AFC North-leading Cincinnati.

Call it a Super Bowl hangover or the result of a lot of offseason changes; the Ravens are not the same team that won the Vince Lombardi Trophy in February. The Steelers meanwhile have seemed to find their second wind after their disastrous start, and appear to be peaking at the right time. It will be another instant classic, but Ben Roethlisberger and company find a way to claim their fourth straight win and bragging rights over the defending Super Bowl champions with a sweep.

Pittsburgh 23, Baltimore 17

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Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Baltimore Ravens Preview and Prediction
Post date: Thursday, November 28, 2013 - 09:00
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The NFL’s longest-running Thanksgiving Day rivalry will be renewed when the Detroit Lions host the Green Bay Packers at 12:30 p.m. ET on FOX. Besides serving as the first course to the Turkey Day tripleheader, first place in the NFC North is at stake with the Lions (6-5), Bears (6-5) and Packers (5-5-1) all fighting for the head seat at the table.

Detroit, along with Dallas, is considered the two traditional Thanksgiving Day hosts. Green Bay also has an extensive history of playing on Turkey Day, as this represents the 21st meeting between the Lions and Packers on the fourth Thursday in November. Detroit holds a 11-8-1 edge over Green Bay on Thanksgiving Day, but the Packers have won the last three. The Lions have dropped their last nine Thanksgiving Day games overall.

4 Things to Watch

Changing Places?
Detroit and Green Bay first played each other back in Week 5. The Lions entered that game 3-1 with the Packers sitting at 2-2 and coming off of their bye. Green Bay would win 22-9 at Lambeau Field, as the Lions were missing their top two wide receivers — Calvin Johnson and Nate Burleson – due to injury. Without two of his biggest weapons, quarterback Matthew Stafford struggled (25-of-40, sacked five times), as the Lions finished with 286 yards of total offense and their only touchdown came with a little more than two minutes left in the game. The Packers were led by quarterback Aaron Rodgers (274-1-0), and they piled up 180 yards rushing, including 72 from wide receiver Randall Cobb. Fast-forward to this week and both teams have been spinning their wheels lately. The Lions have lost two in a row, including last week’s disappointing 24-21 home loss to a two-win Tampa Bay team. The Packers haven’t won since Week 8, as they have three losses and last week’s 26-26 tie with the Vikings. Green Bays slide can be largely attributed to injuries, as Cobb remains out with a broken leg, tight end Jermichael Finley is on injured reserve after recently undergoing spinal fusion surgery, and Rodgers has missed the past three games after breaking his collarbone in Week 9 against Chicago. So while Detroit was the banged-up team entering the first meeting, it’s Green Bay that’s really feeling the hurt for this one, especially when it comes to the quarterback position. The question is can Jim Schwartz’s struggling Lions team take advantage of Mike McCarthy’s (above, right) depleted Packers roster?

Green Bay’s Quarterback Carousel
Aaron Rodgers returned to practice on Monday, the latest step in his recovery from the broken collarbone he sustained on Nov. 4. But even after that brief appearance, head coach Mike McCarthy characterized Rodgers’ chances of playing this week as “Closer to none.” So barring something short of a miracle, the Packers will turn to either Scott Tolzien or Matt Flynn to get them back into the win column. Tolzien became the starter following a season-ending groin injury to backup Seneca Wallace against Philadelphia in Week10. Tolzien, a third-year pro from Wisconsin, finished with 280 yards passing against the Eagles and followed that up with 339 against the Giants in his first career start, but he also had five interceptions and just one touchdown. Last week, he was ineffective (7-of-17, 98 yards) against Minnesota, resulting in McCarthy replacing him in the fourth quarter with Flynn. Trailing by 16, Flynn proceeded to lead the team to two touchdowns and the game-tying field goal with just 46 seconds left. Flynn couldn’t complete the comeback in overtime, as the Packers and Vikings traded field goals and settled for a 26-26 tie, but he finished his afternoon with 218 yards passing and a touchdown in less than two quarters of play. Flynn, who served as Rodgers’ backup from 2008-11 before signing a three-year, $20.5 million contract with Seattle, had already spent time this season with both Oakland (2 G, 1 GS) and Buffalo (0 G), before returning to Green Bay after Wallace was placed on injured reserve prior to Week 11. In his first action back in a Packers uniform, all Flynn did was nearly pull of a remarkable fourth-quarter comeback and in the process create something that McCarthy hasn’t had to deal with since Rodgers became the starter in 2008 – a quarterback controversy. The short week only complicates the decision facing McCarthy, as he must prepare both Tolzien and Flynn to face the Lions. Ideally, the starter gets most of the reps in practice, but that may not be the case this week because of the short turnaround. The Packers’ offense was clearly more productive with Flynn under center last week, but is that enough to convince McCarthy to give him the ball? Or does Tolzien get another shot since he’s been with the team longer this season? One other thing that McCarthy may need to consider is that in Flynn’s last start as a Packer in Week 17 of the 2011 season he threw for what was then a franchise-record 480 yards and six touchdowns. Green Bay’s opponent that game? None other than the Detroit Lions.

Can the Lions Keep Both Paws on the Ball?
Detroit is fifth in the NFL in total offense (412.1 ypg) and seventh in scoring offense (26.0 ppg), but yet the Lions are just 6-5. While there have been some defensive letdowns, particularly in the past two games, the main culprit has been turnovers. After committing just eight turnovers in their first seven games, the Lions have coughed it up 13 times over their last four. They are very fortunate to have gone 2-2 during this stretch, as they managed to come from behind and defeat the Cowboys in Week 8 despite losing the turnover battle 4-0. The Lions haven’t been as fortunate the past two weeks, however, as eight total turnovers resulted in losses to Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay. Prior to beating the Lions, the Steelers had won just three games, while the Buccaneers had jus two victories. Matthew Stafford is responsible for five of the Lions’ eight miscues over the past month, as he has tossed a total of eight interceptions over his last four games, but there also have been three lost fumbles. The Lions are capable of gaining a bunch of yards and putting plenty of points on the board. However, as the past two weeks have shown, they need to take better care of the football if they want this statistical success to carry over to the win column.

How will the Packers handle the Thanksgiving Day Rush?
With injuries impacting the quarterback position (see above), Green Bay has had to rely more on its ground game to move the ball on offense. The flip side of this, however, is the Packers also need to a fix a rushing defense that has been gashed on more than one occasion recently. The Packers have turned to rookie Eddie Lacy to carry the ball, as he’s seen 22 or more carries in all but one game going back to the Week 5 meeting with Detroit. In that home win over the Lions, Lacy finished with 99 yards rushing. He has followed up that strong performance with four other efforts of at least 90 yards on the ground, along with six rushing touchdowns. The Lions’ defense has really stiffened against the run over their past five games as well, giving up an average of less than 44 yards rushing per contest. Unfortunately, the Packers’ rush defense has gone the opposite direction. After holding opponents to just 79 yards rushing per game in its first six games, Green Bay has yielded 171 yards or more in three of their last four contests. That span also covers the Packers’ current slide of three straight losses followed by last week’s tie with the Vikings. So whether it’s Lacy finding room to run or the Packers’ defense standing strong against the Lions’ ground game, Green Bay needs to be at the head of the line when it comes to the holiday “rush” at Ford Field on Thursday.

Green Bay Key Player: Clay Matthews, LB
Matthews broke his right thumb in the Week 5 win over Detroit, which caused him to miss the next four games. He returned in Week 10 against Philadelphia, a game in which the Eagles rushed for 204 yards. Last week, Adrian Peterson and the Vikings gashed the Packers for 232 yards on the ground. Since Matthews’ return, Green Bay has lost two games and tied one. And in the process, the Packers have given up nearly 400 yards per game, including 171 yards rushing per contest. Matthews does have three sacks in his last two games and leads the team with six, but his impact on the defensive end against the Lions on Thursday needs to go beyond just pressuring quarterback Matthew Stafford. Because if the Lions are able to run on the Packers’ defense as successfully as the Eagles and Vikings, then Stafford may not even need to throw a bunch of passes in the first place.

Detroit Key Player: Reggie Bush, RB
Everyone knows the Lions’ offense begins with quarterback Matthew Stafford, usually connecting with wide receiver Calvin Johnson, but Bush is certainly an important piece as well. In the Lions’ six wins, Bush Is averaging 122.3 total yards per game. In the five losses that number drops to just 77.2. He had 69 total yards (44 rush, 25 receiving) against Green Bay in Week 5, a game in which Detroit posted season lows in both yards (286) and points (9). Granted, Johnson, along with No. 2 wide receiver Nate Burleson, both missed that game because of injury, but Bush’s lack of contributions certainly didn’t help matters either. Also, Green Bay’s rushing defense has struggled mightily recently, surrendering 171.4 yards rushing per game over its last four. Johnson has already proven tough to stop this season, but if Bush can get it going early, the Packers’ defense may have a no-win situation on its hands.

Final Analysis

Green Bay and Detroit are both headed in the same direction, which right now is backwards. The Packers haven’t won a game in a month, while the Lions have dropped their last two contests. Despite this, either team could finish this week in first place in the NFC North, depending on what happens when Chicago visits Minnesota on Sunday.

Even with the consecutive losses, the Lions appear to be in much better shape entering this game, as the Packers have had quarterback issues from the moment Aaron Rodgers broke his collarbone in Week 9. While I like Green Bay’s chances better with Matt Flynn under center than Scott Tolzien, there’s no denying the Packers’ offense is nowhere near the same unit without the 2011 NFL MVP leading the charge.

In the end, the Lions’ continuity on offense, led by the trio of Matthew Stafford, Calvin Johnson and Reggie Bush, is too much for a disjointed Packers offense to overcome. Green Bay’s defense puts up a fight and the Packers are able to hang around thanks to a few ill-timed Detroit miscues, but the Lions wear down their division rivals late and put an end to their nine-game losing streak on Thanksgiving Day.

Detroit 31, Green Bay 23

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Green Bay Packers vs. Detroit Lions Preview and Prediction
Post date: Tuesday, November 26, 2013 - 12:30
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With Thanksgiving coming up on Thursday, one thing that fantasy owners have to be thankful for is the end of the bye weeks. All teams will be in action in Week 13, starting with a full plate of games on Thanksgiving Day, as we not only enter the stretch run of the NFL regular season, it’s also nearing fantasy playoffs time. Depending on your team’s needs, not to mention postseason standing, one of the players listed below may be just what you need to feast on your opponent this week, and perhaps beyond.

The players listed in Athlon Sports’ weekly fantasy football waiver wire may be one-week adds, some may be worth holding onto all season long and some are of the “sleeper” variety that you may want to keep an eye on. So without further ado, here are some players you may want to consider.

Quarterbacks
Week 12 Recap: Carson Palmer threw two touchdown passes against Indianapolis and finished with 314 yards passing, continuing his strong second half. Ben Roethiisberger had more modest numbers (217-2-0) against Cleveland, but did help the Steelers pick up their third straight win.

Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens
There’s no disputing that Flacco (above) has failed to play in accordance with the lucrative contract extension (six years, $120.6 million) he signed in March. He has as many touchdowns as interceptions (14) and is averaging less than 250 yards passing per game. However, what Flacco does have going for him is upcoming games against Minnesota and Detroit, two of the NFL’s worst passing defenses. It’s risky, but Flacco could (finally) pay off for someone willing to take a chance on him in Week 14 and/or 15.

Matt Flynn, Green Bay Packers
Could it be? Is Flynn ready to pull off one of the most impressive comebacks in recent NFL history? Aaron Rodgers’ backup for four seasons, Flynn turned one record-setting home start (480 yards, 6 TDs vs. Detroit in Week 17 of the 2011 season) into a three-year, $20.5 million free agent deal with Seattle. Injured in the preseason before the start of the 2012 campaign, Flynn lost the starting job to rookie Russell Wilson and was eventually traded to Oakland in April. Given another chance at being a starter, Flynn lost the Raiders’ gig in the preseason to Terrelle Pryor. Released by Oakland in October, Flynn signed with Buffalo after rookie EJ Manuel was injured. Flynn never got into a game for the Bills, who released him three weeks ago. Flynn landed back with the Packers following injuries to Rodgers (broken collarbone) and backup Seneca Wallace (groin, placed on injured reserve), but was behind Scott Tolzien on the depth chart. On Sunday, Flynn replaced an ineffective Tolzien with the Packers trailing by 16 early in the fourth quarter. Flynn produced some more magic at Lambeau Field, leading the Packers to two touchdowns and the game-tying field goal with just 46 seconds left. The game ended up as a tie, but that doesn’t change the fact that Flynn (218 yards, TD) out-performed Tolzien. Head coach Mike McCarthy was non-committal after the game about the starter for the Thanksgiving Day matchup with Detroit, but there’s not a lot of time for Rodgers to get back to practice and get game-ready. Will Flynn get the call? It’s something worth watching, especially considering the Lions’ struggles in pass defense.

Running Backs
Week 12 Recap: Montee Ball posted 40 yards rushing (Knowshon Moreno led the team with 224) and added three receptions, but he also had a costly fumble that helped fuel the Patriots’ remarkable second-half comeback against the Broncos on Sunday night. Bobby Rainey finished up his 163-yard monster game with a total of 35 yards on 18 carries against Detroit. Rainey should continue to see the majority of the carries, but the schedule (Carolina, San Francisco still remaining) isn’t necessarily kind. Donald Brown finished with negative yardage (-1) on three total touches against Arizona. To be fair, no one on the Colts’ offense did much of anything against the Cardinals’ smothering defense, so hopefully Brown can get back on track at home against Tennessee.

Benny Cunningham, St. Louis Rams
Rookie Zac Stacy got knocked out of Sunday’s game against Chicago because of a concussion, so the Rams turned to Cunningham to carry the load. The second-year back from MTSU responded with 109 yards rushing on 13 carries and a touchdown. The Rams shredded the Bears for 258 yards on the ground, but the important thing to keep an eye on is Stacy’s availability for St. Louis’ next game. If Stacy isn’t cleared, Cunningham figures to get the starting nod ahead of the other backs (Daryl Richardson, Isaiah Pead) on the roster. It’s not an ideal matchup against San Francisco, but a starting running back in the NFL is a valuable commodity, especially with fantasy playoffs right around the corner.

Wide Receivers
Week 12 Recap: Michael Floyd was at it again against Indianapolis, catching a team-high seven passes for 104 yards. Marquise Goodwin and the Bills were on bye and have Atlanta in Toronto this week. San Francisco’s Michael Crabtree didn’t return against Washington, but could be back in the lineup Sunday in a key divisional matchup with St. Louis.

Nate Burleson, Detroit Lions
In his first game back since breaking his forearm in a car accident in late September, Burleson caught seven passes for 77 yards and a touchdown in the loss to Tampa Bay. Detroit’s No. 2 wide receiver, Burleson is the beneficiary of all the defensive attention Calvin Johnson demands and Matthew Stafford has no problem going to him (10 targets Sunday). Injuries have been an issue for Burleson the past two seasons, but when he’s been on the field he’s been productive. Locked into a starting spot in a pass-happy offense, Burleson could be a productive late-season addition to your wide receiving corps.

Rod Streater, Oakland Raiders
Denarius Moore was inactive because of a shoulder injury, allowing Streater the opportunity to emerge as the Raiders’ go-to option in the passing game. Streater and Matt McGloin hooked up for five receptions and 93 yards in the loss to Tennessee. Last week against Houston, Streater had six catches for 84 yards and a touchdown. In McGloin’s two starts, that’s 11 catches for 177 yards and a touchdown for Streater. In his nine other games he has a total of 29 receptions for 423 yards and a score. If McGloin retains the starting job over Terrelle Pryor, then Streater becomes more appealing. This is especially the case if Moore ends up missing more time because of his shoulder injury.

Tiquan Underwood, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Vincent Jackson is the Bucs’ No. 1 target and tight end/wide receiver Timothy Wright has emerged this season, but Underwood has assumed the No. 2 wideout slot following Mike Williams’ season-ending hamstring injury. Underwood only had three catches on Sunday, but they went for 108 yards and two touchdowns in the Bucs’ 24-21 win over the Lions in Detroit. If quarterback Mike Glennon continues his steady (10 TD passes, 1 INT in his last six games) play, Underwood could develop into an option for those looking for wide receiver help during the fantasy playoffs.

Kendall Wright, Tennessee Titans
Wright is probably one of the most least-owned No. 1 wide receivers in the NFL, but maybe it’s time for that to change. Ryan Fitzpatrick is cemented as the starting quarterback the rest of the season and he and Wright are beginning to establish a good rapport. In his last three games, which go back to Week 10 when Jake Locker sustained a season-ending foot injury, Wright has averaged 9.3 targets and 87 yards per game. On Sunday, Wright went for a season-high 103 yards on six catches and the game-winning touchdown against Oakland.  Wright and Fitzpatrick are really starting click, so now may be the perfect time to get on board with the Titans’ top target.

Tight Ends
Week 12 Recap: Delanie Walker caught five passes for 46 yards in the Titans’ come-from-behind win in Oakland. He’s knocking on the door of the top 10 at his position.

Ladarius Green, San Diego Chargers
This falls into the deep flyer category, but based on the last few games, the future of the tight end position in San Diego looks pretty bright with Green. Antonio Gates is still the star, but Green has been playing the role of impressive understudy. Green has 80 or more receiving yards in each of his last two games, and helped the Chargers upset the Chiefs in Kansas City on Sunday with a 60-yard touchdown reception that featured an impressive show of speed from the 6-6, 240-pound target. His opportunities figure to be few, but it looks like the Chargers have a pretty good idea of what Green is capable of doing once Philip Rivers gets the ball into his hands. Remaining games with Denver (Week 15) and Oakland (Week 16) could end up being fairly high scoring, so perhaps Green could be a good color if you are unsure about your tight end situation in the playoffs.

Defense/Special Teams
Week 12 Recap: The Saints held the Falcons to just 13 points in their close NFC South win on Thursday night. New Orleans forced just one turnover, but sacked Matt Ryan five times and held Atlanta scoreless in the second half.

Buffalo Bills
The Bills were on bye last week, which means the defense should be rested and raring to go for the stretch run. Buffalo’s DST has been somewhat sneaky this season, posting four games of 15 or more fantasy points. The Bills are tied for first in the NFL in both sacks (37) and interceptions (16) and have been pretty good against the pass (229 ypg). The other thing that makes the Bills appealing is their schedule. Starting with Atlanta in Toronto on Sunday, Buffalo’s final five games are all against teams ranked no lower than 19th in terms of fantasy points allowed to DSTs. Depending on your situation at DST, Buffalo may be the perfect candidate to (ahem) help beef up your lineup.

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.

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NFC East rivals headed in different directions are on tap this afternoon when the Dallas Cowboys meet up with the New York Giants at 4:25 p.m. ET on FOX. Jason Garrett’s Cowboys (5-5) are looking to tie the idle Eagles for first place in the division, while Tom Coughlin’s Giants (4-6) are hoping to continue their remarkable turnaround. Since starting the season 0-6, the Giants have won four in a row and a victory at home this afternoon would tie them with the Cowboys, just a game behind the Eagles.

The Cowboys won the first meeting, 36-31, back in Week 1 and are going for their first regular-season sweep of the Giants since 2007. A Dallas win also would make them 4-0 in NFC East play, putting the Cowboys in the driver’s seat for the division title. The Cowboys have struggled on the road, entering this game with a 1-4 record as the visiting team, while the Giants have won three in a row at MetLife Stadium.

4 Things to Watch

Since Last We Met…
AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, served as the season-opening backdrop for the two NFC East rivals when they first met back in Week 1. The Cowboys won 36-31 thanks in large part to six Giants turnovers. Eli Manning was picked off three times and David Wilson fumbled twice, as the Cowboys turned two takeaways into defensive touchdowns. The Giants moved the ball on the Cowboys with Manning throwing for 450 yards and four touchdowns, three of those to Victor Cruz, but just couldn’t overcome their own mistakes. The Cowboys had just one turnover, a Tony Romo interception, but otherwise played a clean game and got a little more out of their ground game (DeMarco Murray had a game-high 86 yards rushing) than the Giants. The loss sent the Giants into a tailspin; as they went on to lose their next five games by an average of 19 points per contest. The Cowboys weren’t able to build off of that season-opening win either, as they lost three of their next four. Fast forward to this week and the Giants are riding high, winners of four in a row while the Cowboys are coming off of their bye week sitting at .500. Despite their horrendous start, the Giants are very much alive in the division race and a fifth straight victory would only tighten up things between them, the Cowboys and the first-place Eagles (6-5), who are on bye. The Cowboys would love to sweep the Giants to get above .500 and grab a share of the division lead. With a six weeks left in the regular season, it’s not a stretch to say the road to determining the NFC East champion begins this afternoon at MetLife Stadium.

Where’s the D in Dallas?
Defensive coordinator Rob Ryan was fired after the 2012 season and replaced by 73-year-old Monte Kiffin, who had spent the previous four seasons in the collegiate ranks. While Ryan has orchestrated a remarkable turnaround of a New Orleans defense that set an NFL single-season record for yards allowed in 2012, Kiffin’s unit has struggled. And that’s an understatement. The Cowboys entered Week 12 last in the league in total and passing defense and have been abused by good quarterbacks. Eli Manning, Peyton Manning, Philip Rivers and Matthew Stafford have all thrown for more than 400 yards against the Cowboys, the first time in NFL history this has ever happened to a defense. Even though Drew Brees didn’t join that club two weeks ago, he and his Saints did roll up a franchise-record 625 yards and NFL-record 40 first downs in a 49-17 shellacking in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The 625 yards also is the most the Cowboys have surrendered in any game in their long history and was the fourth game of 500 or more total yards allowed this season. Unfortunately, the situation may not get any better any time soon, as Kiffin has several key players who are injured. Of them, the most critical missing piece is linebacker Sean Lee, who injured his hamstring in the loss to the Saints and is expected to miss a few more weeks. Sack specialist DeMarcus Ware has been dealing with a lingering quad strain and is questionable for this afternoon, while fellow lineman Anthony Spencer also has been sidelined for an extended period of time. Kiffin’s task isn’t easy, especially with all of the injuries, but he must find a way to “fix” his defense if the Cowboys consider themselves legitimate playoff contenders.

The Return of the Big Blue Wrecking Crew
At the start of the season, the Giants’ defense was having just as many issues as the Cowboys’ unit, if not more. Through the first six games, all losses, the Giants were giving up 34.8 points and 391.3 yards per game, along with nearly 25 first downs per contest. When it didn’t seem like things would ever get better, something clicked and an entirely different Giants defense emerged starting with the Monday night game against Minnesota to close out Week 7. In the last four games, the Giants are surrendering fewer than 12 points and 254 yards per game. In fact, Green Bay last week is the only team to gain more than 206 yards of total offense and throw for more than 176 yards during this stretch. No team has collected more than 16 first downs in any of these four games and one team (Oakland, Week 10) has gained more than 55 yards rushing. Takeaways (11 total) and sacks (9) have been a big part of this run and the defense/special teams units also have provided three touchdowns of their own. Critics will be quick to point out that these four games were against teams with less-than-stellar quarterbacks (Minnesota’s Josh Freeman, Philadelphia’s Matt Barkley, Oakland’s Terrelle Pryor and Green Bay’s Scott Tolzien), but the bottom line is that the Giants’ defense has taken care of its business over the last month. Just how far has the 2013 edition of the Big Blue Wrecking Crew come since Week 1? Tony Romo and company will have a front-row seat this afternoon.

Can Either Offense Gain Ground?
Back in Week 1 the Cowboys and Giants combined for 809 total yards of offense, but only 137 of those came on the ground. DeMarco Murray led the way with 86 yards on 20 carries, while Da’Rel Scott was the leading ground-gainer for the Giants with a total of 23 yards. Establishing any sort of running game has been a season-long problem for both teams, as they are tied for 28th in the NFL in rushing offense at 77 yards per game. Murray is obviously the key to the Cowboys’ rushing attack and he is coming off of an 89-yard effort with a touchdown in the loss to the Saints two weeks ago. One of the problems for Murray has been a lack of attempts. He has gotten 20 or more carries just twice this season, including exactly 20 in the first game against the Giants, and is averaging 10.8 carries in his six other games. Murray did miss two games because of a sprained knee, but coming off of the bye he should be fairly healthy and the Cowboys need to be sure to give them the ball if they want to take any pressure off of Tony Romo and the passing attack. As for the Giants, the only one who got a rushing attempt in Week 1 that will play this afternoon is quarterback Eli Manning. Scott is no longer with the team while David Wilson, who had just 19 yards rushing and two costly fumbles in that first game, sustained a neck injury in Week 5 and is on injured reserve. Instead, the Giants will turn to the two-headed monster of Andre Brown and Brandon Jacobs to carry the load. Brown made his season debut two weeks ago with 115 yards rushing against Oakland after missing the previous eight games because of a broken leg he suffered in the final preseason game. Jacobs joined the team in Week 2 and rushed for 106 yards and two scores against Chicago before a hamstring injury sidelined him for a month. The two will likely share the carries in some capacity and try to take advantage of a Dallas rushing defense that ranks near the bottom of the league at 126.8 yards per game. The Giants meanwhile have really stiffened up against the run during their winning streak. The G-Men are giving up just 60 yards rushing per game and have moved all the way up to seventh in the league (98.0 ypg) in rushing defense. 

Dallas Key Player: Miles Austin, WR
Austin got out of the gates quickly this season, catching 10 passes for 72 yards against the Giants in Week 1. Since then he has totaled nine catches for 53 yards. Austin has played in just five games, as a hamstring injury held him out of the other five games, but with the exception of the season opener, he has been virtually non-existent in the Cowboys’ passing attack. In the last two games Austin has played, Weeks 6 and 7, not only did he not record a single catch, he didn’t even receive a single target. Tony Romo doesn’t lack for options, starting with wide receiver Dez Bryant and tight end Jason Witten, and the emergence of rookie wideout Terrance Williams has been a pleasant surprise too. But if the Cowboys are going to continue to ask Romo to carry the load offensively, he needs a healthy Austin to make his presence felt in these last six games.

New York Giants Key Player: Hakeem Nicks, WR
Eli Manning may be struggling (12 TDs, 17 INTs) this season, but he hasn’t gotten a bunch of help from his wide receivers either. Victor Cruz leads the team in receptions (58) and yards (824), but he has just four touchdown catches and three of those came in Week 1 against Dallas. Rueben Randle leads the Giants with six touchdown grabs, but he has just 29 catches on the season and a catch rate (29 of 53) of less than 55 percent. That said, Nicks is the one who has been struggling the most, as the big target is still searching for his first touchdown catch of 2013. Nicks has gone over 100 yards receiving twice, but in his other eight games he’s averaging 3.5 receptions for 45.5 yards per contest. Nicks is still capable of making the big play, as he’s averaging 14.8 yards per reception and has 10 catches of 20 or more yards. Like Randle, however, Nicks is converting less than 55 percent (42 of 77) of his targets and sometimes seems to disappear completely from the offensive game plan. Injuries have been an issue for Nicks over the past few seasons. He did miss some practice time this week due to an abdominal strain and is listed on the injury report as questionable, but Nicks has said he will be out there. Dallas is dead last in the NFL in passing defense (313.0 ypg) and Nicks posted 114 yards on five catches (22.8) against the Cowboys back in Week 1. A repeat performance this afternoon could go a long ways towards not only helping the Giants earn their fifth straight win, but also jumpstarting Nicks’ season and put him in position for a strong finish. The latter is particularly important to Nicks since he will be a free agent after the season. Wide receivers who want to get paid like a No. 1 need to play like a No. 1.

Final Analysis

Oh the wild and wacky NFC East. Philadelphia is currently in first place, but the Eagles are just 6-5 and own one of the league’s worst defenses. Dallas could pull even with the Eagles with a victory this afternoon, but things will get even more interesting if the Giants extend their winning streak to five games in a row. Either way, this is a pivotal game as it relates to how things will play out in their division the rest of the way.

The Cowboys are coming off of their bye, but probably still licking their wounds from the 49-17 debacle against the Saints two weeks ago. The Giants have all the momentum, are playing their best football, especially on defense, and are at home. The Giants have their flaws, but every team in the NFC East does, which is one of the reasons why this race is so tight.

Eli Manning has had his issues, but he did throw for a season-best 450 yards and four touchdowns against the Cowboys back in Week 1. Plenty has changed since the season opener, as the Giants have a new backfield and the Cowboys will be missing several key members of their defense. In the end, I think Dallas’ personnel losses are too much for this struggling defense to overcome, despite Tony Romo’s best efforts to keep the Cowboys in the game. The Giants rely on ball control and an effective running game to secure their fifth win in a row, setting the stage for what’s shaping up to be another fantastic finish in the NFC East.

New York Giants 34, Dallas 24

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Two of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history will be on display tonight when the Denver Broncos and New England Patriots face off at 8:30 p.m. ET on NBC. Besides the unavoidable comparisons between Peyton Manning and Tom Brady, this game also features a matchup of division leaders with the Broncos (9-1) in front in the AFC West after beating the Chiefs last week and the Patriots (7-3) maintaining their usual position atop the AFC East.

These two teams last played each other in Week 5 of the 2012 season. That game, like this one, was at Gillette Stadium and the Patriots won 31-21 behind a balanced offensive attack that produced 444 total yards, 251 of those on the ground. The leading receiver for the home team that game was Wes Welker, who caught 13 passes for 104 yards and Brady’s lone touchdown. Welker is now a Bronco and despite suffering a concussion last week, he is expected to play against his former team. This adds yet another layer to a game full of interesting subplots.

4 Things to Watch

Manning vs. Brady, Round 14
Peyton Manning and Tom Brady have already secured busts in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, when their careers are over. These two have already accounted for a combined 110,000 yards passing and 818 touchdown passes, and have won nearly 72 percent of their games, including playoffs. They have been to 20 Pro Bowls and claim six of the 15 MVP trophies that have been awarded since Manning’s rookie season in 1998. And of course there are the Super Bowl rings. Brady has three, Manning has one and each has been named MVP after starring on the NFL’s biggest stage. Even though they didn’t enter the league in the same season (Manning 1998, Brady 2000), these two will forever be linked, which is why their head-to-head matchups draw so much attention and scrutiny. Including the playoffs, this will be the 14th time Manning and Brady have met on the field. Among Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks, the only two that have gone head-to-head more are Hall of Famers Bart Starr and Johnny Unitas (16 games). As it relates to Manning vs. Brady, the Patriots’ signal-caller holds a 9-4 edge, including 6-2 at home. In addition to the win-loss column, Brady also holds a statistical edge over Manning when it comes to completion percentage (66.9 to 62.4) and quarterback rating (95.3 to 86.7). Last season, even though the Broncos lost 31-21, Manning had arguably one of his best games against the Patriots, throwing for 337 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions. This season, it’s pretty clear that Manning has a better supporting cast around him compared to Brady, but Patriots head coach Bill Belichick has done a good job of constructing effective defensive game plans against No. 18 in the past. Brady’s numbers may not be what we are accustomed to seeing, but the Patriots are still winning and he’s looking more and more comfortable in the pocket with each game now that all of his pass-catchers are back and relatively healthy. Either way, both quarterbacks will have a big say in how this game plays out, just as has been the case in their previous 13 meetings. 

Broncos’ Weapons Check
Denver is No. 1 in the NFL in both total (350.4 ypg) and scoring (39.8 ppg) offense, and the gap between the Broncos and No. 2 in both categories is pretty wide. Five different players – wide receivers Demaryius Thomas, Wes Welker and Eric Decker, tight end Julius Thomas and running back Knowshon Moreno – have caught at least 37 passes this season. Demaryius and Julius Thomas and Welker have combined for 28 touchdown catches. Welker, who was Brady’s favorite target for six seasons in New England, sustained a concussion last week, but he is expected to be cleared in plenty of time to face his former teammates. The Broncos aren’t just a passing team, however, as Moreno leads the way with 600 yards rushing and eight touchdowns on the ground. Second-round draft pick Montee Ball also has emerged recently, scoring three rushing touchdowns over his last three games. Peyton Manning is still dealing with a lingering ankle injury, but his offensive line did an outstanding job protecting him (no sacks, no hits) against Kansas City’s ferocious pass rush last week. When given the time, Manning has a plethora of weapons to choose from and it will be interesting to see how he and offensive coordinator Adam Gase attack a banged-up Patriots defense (see below) tonight.

Patriots’ Weapons Check
As far as New England’s offense goes, Wes Welker’s departure via free agency was just one of the many personnel developments that took place during the offseason. Although the Patriots signed former St. Louis Ram Danny Amendola to take Welker’s place, the summer saw tight end Rob Gronkowski undergo back surgery in June. Not too long after, fellow tight end Aaron Hernandez was charged with murder and other crimes, which led to his release. Gronk didn’t return to the field until Week 7, which left Tom Brady with an unfamiliar group of pass-catchers at the start of the season. In Week 1, the Patriots’ wide receiving corps consisted of Julian Edelman, the lone holdover from the 2012 season, Amendola and rookies Aaron Dobson and Kenbrell Thompkins. Not surprisingly, Brady had just eight touchdown passes in his first six games. Injuries didn’t help Brady develop chemistry with his receivers either, as Amendola missed some time with a groin injury and later a concussion. It wasn’t until recently that Brady was able to practice with his full complement of pass-catchers, so the hope is that the passing game will find a little more consistency and rhythm. The ground game also has had its struggles, as Stevan Ridley, last season’s leading rusher, got off to a slow start in 2013 and has dealt with some injury issues of his own. The Patriots have been content to employ a running-back-by-committee, as Ridley, LeGarrette Blount, Brandon Bolden and Shane Vereen all have carried the ball at least 15 times. The all-hands-on-deck strategy has worked for the most part with the Patriots ranking ninth in the league in rushing offense (126.9 ypg). So even though this may not be a vintage, Brady-led offense, the Patriots are eighth in the league in scoring at nearly 25 points per game. The Broncos average nearly 40 points per game and their season-low output is 27 points, so Brady and company will need to find a way to move the ball and put some points on the board against a Denver defense that has been playing pretty well lately.

New England’s Feeling the Hurt on Defense
The Patriots’ uniforms may be red, white and blue (and silver), but their defense is definitely black and blue thanks to a slew of injuries. Bill Belichick’s defense looks more like a M.A.S.H. unit right now, as the current two-deep looks nothing like what he had at his disposal in Week 1. All-Pro linebacker Jerod Mayo and defensive tackle Vince Wilfork are both out for the season, as is tackle Tommy Kelly and safety Adrian Wilson. Four current starters and one key reserve appear on this week’s injury report, including three defensive backs. Cornerback Alfonzo Dennard and safety Steve Gregory both missed last week’s loss in Carolina, and are questionable for tonight’s game. Aqib Talib, the other starting cornerback, had to leave the Monday night game against the Panthers early after re-aggravating a hip injury that caused him to miss the three previous games. Stopping Denver’s high-octane task is a difficult task in and of itself, but now New England must figure out a way to do so with a defense that isn’t anywhere close to full strength. Belichick is a master tactician when it comes to defensive game plans and he has had his share of success against Peyton Manning. However, with so many injuries severely limiting his depth, especially in the secondary, Belichick may not be able to rely on complicated schemes and multiple alignments. In fact, he may have a hard enough time finding 11 healthy bodies to put on the field.

Denver Key Players: Von Miller, Wesley Woodyard and Danny Trevathan, LBs
Not only are Miller, Woodyard and Trevathan the Broncos’ starting linebackers, they are the heart and soul of this defense. Miller, who finished second in the Defensive Player of the Year voting last season, missed the first six games of this season due to suspension. Since his return in Week 7, Denver is allowing 318.3 yards and 24.3 points per game. Miller’s pass-rushing ability (2.0 sacks in four games) has made the most difference, especially when it comes to the Broncos’ ability to consistently pressure the quarterback. They have 12 sacks over their last four games and also have picked off four passes. This also is a big reason why Denver has given up only 191.3 yards passing per game during this span. New England has given up 28 sacks this season, and Miller is definitely someone the offensive line and running backs will have to account for. Woodyard and Trevathan are the leading tacklers on the team and also are extremely active in pass coverage. The duo has combined for 11 passes defended, while Trevathan also has three interceptions and two forced fumbles. Both fly to the ball and are key to the Broncos’ efforts to control the middle of the field. Trevathan in particular will probably be matched up on tight end Rob Gronkowski several times during this game. If Denver’s linebacking corps is making plays all over the field, especially behind the line of scrimmage, then it could be a long night for Tom Brady and the Patriots’ offense.

New England Key Player: Chandler Jones, DE
Injuries have not been kind to the Patriots’ defense this season. Already down four starters, including All-Pros Jerod Mayo and Vince Wilfork, five others defenders are listed on this week’s injury report. Of those, four are starters and the other is a key reserve in the secondary. Up front, Jones has teamed with fellow defensive end Rob Ninkovich to anchor the Patriots’ pass rush. Jones leads the team with 9.5 sacks while Ninkovich has five along with two forced fumbles and two recoveries. Jones also Is second on the team in tackles, which is rare for a defensive lineman. Peyton Manning has been sacked just 13 times and wasn’t even touched last week by Kansas City’s No. 1-ranked pass rush. With all of the injuries in the Patriots’ back seven, it’s critical that Jones and Ninkovich get pressure on Manning and also make some plays behind the line of scrimmage. Otherwise the Broncos’ offense could very hard for this banged-up defense to slow down.

Final Analysis

All attention is on the quarterbacks, which is understandable since Peyton Manning and Tom Brady are two of the best to ever play the position. However, the 11-man units that will line up on the other side of these two will play just as big a role in determining tonight’s outcome.

Denver’s defense has been a different unit since the return of All-Pro linebacker Von Miller. His presence, as well as his athleticism, non-stop motor and pass-rushing ability has had the biggest impact on the Broncos’ pass defense. On the other side, New England is missing its play-making linebacker in Jerod Mayo, and also is without several other key defenders.

Bill Belichick and Tom Brady are very tough to beat at home and both have had their share of success against Manning in the past. But that was then and this is now. I just think Manning has too many weapons and the Patriots’ defense has too many injuries, which will cause it to wear down as the game goes on. Manning does a good job of spreading the wealth, but he makes sure that Wes Welker gets a touchdown against his former team as the Broncos pick up their 10th win of the season.

Denver 34, New England 30

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Post date: Sunday, November 24, 2013 - 08:00
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Adrian Peterson is at less than 100 percent entering Week 12. Here’s the latest injury-related information on the reigning MVP and a few other fantasy-relevant running backs.

Adrian Peterson, RB, Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers
Peterson’s sore groin was clearly an issue for him last week against Seattle. He got 21 carries, but only gained 65 yards with a long rush of 13 yards. The Vikings have gone with rest to try and get Peterson back to 100 percent and he is listed as Questionable to face the Packers. Peterson has said he intends to play, but there’s nothing wrong with checking his status before the 1 p.m. ET kickoff just to be sure. If he does play, don’t be surprised if it’s not a vintage “All Day” performance.  Besides the sore groin, he’s also facing a Green Bay rushing defense that’s allowed just three 100-yard games to running backs all season.

Ben Tate, RB, Houston Texans vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
No one can doubt Tate’s toughness. Already playing with broken ribs, Tate also is dealing with ankle and toe injuries. Despite this trifecta of maladies, Tate is listed as Probable and will take his shot at the league’s worst rushing defense (139.1 ypg). If not for his injuries, Tate would be a RB1 this week. As it is, Tate is a legitimate RB2 and should be in your lineup.

Trent Richardson, RB, Indianapolis Colts at Arizona Cardinals
Richardson is Questionable with a calf injury, but head coach Chuck Pagano said he feels pretty good about T-Rich’s chances of playing. That said, this could be just the “excuse” Richardson owners have been waiting for to finally bench him without any twinge of remorse (or guilt). T-Rich has been T-errible this season, regardless of which uniform he’s been in, and Donald Brown has just about replaced Richardson as the Colts’ primary back. Richardson may have a bright future, but his 2013 fantasy season is pretty much done.

Joique Bell, RB, Detroit Lions vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Bell got the call at running back last week following a Reggie Bush fumble. Bell was getting the job done against Pittsburgh (9 att., 49 yds., TD), but he had to leave the game because of an Achilles injury. He was a full participant in practice on Friday, but is considered Questionable to play today. His injury is believed to be tendinitis, so it’s definitely possible that he could be out there. Bell was a fairly dependable flex option early in the season, but that was before Bush started seeing the vast majority of the touches. The only reason Bell was so busy last week was because the coaching staff wanted to send a message to Bush following the fumble. There’s no reason to believe that Bush has lost his job as the No. 1 back, especially with Bell at less than 100 percent. Bell is a risky play this week, even as a flex, and probably should be avoided all together.

Brandon Jacobs, RB, New York Giants vs. Dallas Cowboys
After missing the previous three games with a hamstring injury, Jacobs returned last week against Green Bay and contributed nine yards and a touchdown on five carries. He’s Questionable again this week, this time with a knee injury, but is expected to play against Dallas. Andre Brown is the Giants’ bell-cow back now, so if you want to chase a potential short-yardage touchdown with Jacobs you go right ahead.

Already Ruled Out (Again)

Darren McFadden, RB, Oakland Raiders – McFadden is reportedly making progress with his hamstring injury, but not enough to return to the field. He will miss a third straight game, giving Rashad Jennings another opportunity. Jennings has gone over 100 yards rushing in two of his past three games, including 150 and a touchdown last week against Houston. The Raiders host the Titans, who are allowing the sixth-most fantasy points to running backs. The matchup is enough to put Jennings into the RB2 category.

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Several wide receivers are dealing with injuries entering Week 12. Here are the ones you need to know about before setting your lineup.

Cecil Shorts and Mike Brown, WRs, Jacksonville Jaguars at Houston Texans
Shorts’ groin is not fully healed, but he’s considered Probable and will play against the Texans. Shorts has a total of nine targets in his last two games, but he’s still the Jaguars’ most dangerous receiver. The Texans are No. 1 in the NFL in passing defense, so it could be another less-than-spectacular outing for Shorts. Brown’s shoulder injury is more of a problem compared to Shorts’ groin, as the undrafted rookie is listed as Questionable. Between the matchup against Houston and his injury situation, there’s really no reason to pay Brown much attention this week.

Calvin Johnson and Nate Burleson, WRs, Detroit Lions vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Even though Johnson didn’t get in a full week of practice, the knee is fine and he is Probable. The only question is how will Megatron do today when he visits Revis Island? Burleson (right), on the other hand, is set to play in his first game since Week 3. Out since breaking his forearm in a car accident in late September, Burleson practiced fully on Thursday and Friday. He is Probable and expected to start alongside Johnson. I don’t need to tell you that Johnson is a WR1, do I? Burleson is certainly appealing considering the attention Johnson receives from opposing defenses, but in his first game back it’s better to err on the side of caution. For now, view Burleson as a WR3 with upside.

DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Houston Texans vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
Hopkins missed some practice time due to an illness, but he returned on Friday. The rookie is listed as Probable and maybe today’s matchup will be just what the doctor ordered. Over his last seven games, Hopkins has just one touchdown catch and has recorded more than three receptions one time. The good news of Hopkins’ owners is that the Jaguars have given up 12 touchdown catches to opposing wide receivers this season. Hopkins is fairly safe to employ as a WR3 this week.

Keenan Allen, Vincent Brown and Eddie Royal, WRs, San Diego Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs
Allen left last week’s game against Miami in the fourth quarter after sustaining a knee injury. Fortunately, he escaped without serious damage and was able to practice fully this week. Allen is listed as Probable and will be out there against the Chiefs. The rookie has emerged as the Chargers’ No. 1 wide receiver, but Allen will have his work cut out for him against a physical, athletic Kansas City secondary. Meanwhile Brown and Royal both missed some practice time this week due to their respective injuries. Brown has a shoulder injury and was a full practice participant on Friday. Royal has a toe injury which has prevented him from practicing at all for more than a month, but he has yet to miss a game. Brown is Probable, while Royal is Questionable, but both will likely be out there. Allen is clearly the best option of the three, as Brown has just one touchdown catch on the season and three or fewer receptions in each of his past five games. Royal has seven touchdown grabs, but he’s also a boom-or-bust player. The Chiefs are giving up fewer than 14 points per game, so don’t expect a lot out of any of these Chargers.

Greg Jennings, WR, Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers
Despite being Probable for last week’s game, Jennings ended up not playing against Seattle because of a strained Achilles tendon. He was limited again in practice this week and is listed as Questionable, but the expectation is he will play. Even though Green Bay has been fairly generous to wide receivers this season, that doesn’t mean Jennings should be in your starting lineup. He has struggled all season and there’s no reason to expect that to change, even going against his former team. In Week 8 against the Packers, Jennings caught one pass for nine yards.

Emmanuel Sanders, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers at Cleveland Browns
Sanders hurt his foot last week, which forced him to leave the game against Detroit early. He practiced fully all week though and is considered Probable. Antonio Brown is the Steelers’ No. 1 wide receiver, but he has a very tough matchup today with Browns shutdown cornerback Joe Haden. That could mean more opportunities for Sanders to produce, although Jerricho Cotchery, who has five touchdown catches in his last three games, also is a factor. Sanders and Cotchery should be viewed as nothing more than possible WR3 options this week.

Teaser:
Injury Updates Week 12: Cecil Shorts, Calvin Johnson, DeAndre Hopkins, Keenan Allen, Greg Jennings
Post date: Sunday, November 24, 2013 - 06:30
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy Football, injury updates, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /fantasy/week-12-injury-updates-wes-welker-hakeem-nicks-michael-floyd-mike-wallace-santonio-holmes
Body:

Welker has passed the necessary concussion tests and is on track to face his former team tonight

A concussion isn’t expected to get in the way of a Bronco wide receiver from facing his former Patriot teammates tonight. Here’s the latest on Wes Welker and some other well-known wideouts entering Week 12.

Wes Welker, WR, Denver Broncos at New England Patriots
Welker sustained a concussion last week against the Chiefs, but he was a full go at practice on Friday and is listed as Probable. Interim head coach Jack Del Rio went so far as to label Welker a “definite” to face the Patriots. Welker’s already no worse than a WR2 on any given week, so the extra juice he will more than likely have because he’s facing his former team only increases his chances of having a big game. Especially considering how banged up the Patriots’ defense is right now.

Hakeem Nicks, WR, New York Giants vs. Dallas Cowboys
Nicks is listed as Questionable with an abdominal strain, which limited him in practice both Thursday and Friday. Nicks has said he will “surely play,” but the late afternoon kickoff (4:25 p.m. ET) does complicate things somewhat. The matchup with Dallas, which is dead last in the NFL in passing defense, is certainly appealing, but Nicks is still searching for his first touchdown catch of the season. He has the potential for so much more, but right now Nicks is nothing more than a WR3 option.

Michael Floyd, WR, Arizona Cardinals vs. Indianapolis Colts
Listed as Questionable entering last week’s game in Jacksonville, all Floyd did was erupt for 193 yards on six catches, including a 91-yard touchdown. The shoulder injury limited his participation in practice, but the Probable designation is pretty much all you need to know. The Cardinals still have Larry Fitzgerald running routes and catching balls, but if Carson Palmer continues his strong play, there should be enough passes for both Floyd and Fitz to be productive. The Colts are 10th in the league when it comes to fantasy points allowed to wide receivers. So whether you have Floyd or Fitzgerald, I would start both Cardinal wideouts and hope they fly high this afternoon.

Mike Wallace, WR, Miami Dolphins vs. Carolina Panthers
Wallace played through his hamstring injury last week, catching four passes for 39 yards against San Diego. He was limited during the week, but practiced fully on Friday and is listed as Probable. Carolina’s defense is giving up the second-fewest fantasy points to wide receivers, so you may want to analyze your other options before rolling the dice on a maddeningly inconsistent Wallace.

Santonio Holmes, Jeremy Kerley and David Nelson, WRs, New York Jets at Baltimore Ravens
At this point it would be easier to list the Jet wide receivers that are NOT injured. Kerley is Doubtful because of a dislocated elbow, so it’s pretty likely he won’t play. Holmes and Nelson are both Probable and should be on the field against the Ravens. It doesn’t mean either should be a part of your starting lineup, however, as Geno Smith completed just 8-of-23 passes with three interceptions last week against Buffalo before being replaced by Matt Simms. There’s nothing that appealing when it comes to the Jets’ passing attack right now. Holmes would be the only Jet WR I would even consider taking a flyer on, but even that’s a lukewarm endorsement.

Already Ruled Out

Denarius Moore, WR, Oakland Raiders – Moore, the Raiders’ leading wide receiver, sustained a shoulder injury in last week’s win in Houston. He didn’t practice all week, so it’s not surprising that the team went ahead and ruled him out early. Matt McGloin will make his second career start against a pretty stout Tennessee defense, and the undrafted rookie will undoubtedly miss Moore.

Teaser:
Week 12 Injury Updates: Wes Welker, Hakeem Nicks, Michael Floyd, Mike Wallace, Santonio Holmes
Post date: Sunday, November 24, 2013 - 06:30
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy Football, injury updates, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /fantasy/injury-updates-week-12-peyton-manning-terrelle-pryor-christian-ponder-jay-cutler-aaron
Body:

The ankle’s not fully healed, but it won’t keep Peyton Manning from facing the New England Patriots tonight. The same can’t be said for a few other injured quarterbacks, however.

Peyton Manning, QB, Denver Broncos at New England Patriots
Manning was limited in practice again this week because of his lingering ankle injury, but it certainly wasn’t a factor this past Sunday against Kansas City. He is listed as Probable and there’s very little chance, if any, that Manning misses his 14th head-to-head meeting with Tom Brady (and Bill Belichick). Considering how many key defensive players are out for the season because of injury or hobbled headed into this one, it’s very possible that Manning could put up some of the best numbers he’s had against a Belichick defense in his career.

Christian Ponder, QB, Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers
Ponder dislocated his non-throwing shoulder two weeks ago, but still made the start in Seattle. After throwing two interceptions, Ponder was replaced by Matt Cassel in the loss to the Seahawks. Ponder is listed as Probable for today’s game and he will get another start. The Vikings’ offense is a mess right now, especially with Adrian Peterson not at 100 percent due to a groin injury. Ponder threw for just 145 yards and had  a rushing touchdown in the first game against Green Bay back in Week 8, and there’s no reason to expect different results today. Ponder isn’t even on the QB-2 league radar.

Terrelle Pryor, QB, Oakland Raiders vs. Tennessee Titans
Pryor missed last week’s game because of a knee injury. He is listed as Questionable again this week and will probably be a game-time decision. It doesn’t really matter though, because if Pryor does play, it will be as Matt McGloin’s backup. McGloin got the start against Houston last week and all he did was throw three touchdown passes and no interceptions in leading the Raiders to victory on the road. Now before you run out and grab McGloin off of the waiver wire, consider this: the Titans are giving up the third-fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks and Oakland’s No. 1 wide receiver, Denarius Moore, has already been ruled Out because of a shoulder injury. My advice would be to resist the temptation to start the Silver and Black’s new signal-caller or else you may end up with a black eye at the quarterback spot in your lineup.

Getting Better, But Still Not Ready

Jay Cutler, QB, Chicago Bears – Cutler will miss yet another game because of his injured ankle. Josh McCown will make his third start of the season in search of maintaining his spotless record. St. Louis’ defense has been pretty tough on quarterbacks, especially from a pressure standpoint. However, McCown has shown remarkable poise in the pocket and is comfortable running head coach Marc Trestman’s system. McCown still has yet to throw an interception, which is one of the reasons why he remains in the bye week fill-in or 2-QB league conversation.

Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers – Rodgers is out for a third straight game, although he is making progress in his recovery from a broken collarbone. Scott Tolzien will make his second career start against a Minnesota defense that is giving up the third-most fantasy points to quarterbacks. Tolzien is still a fairly risky play, as he threw for 339 yards with no touchdowns and three interceptions last week against the Giants. I would consider Tolzien in a 2-QB league, but only after giving a long, hard look at my other options.

Teaser:
Injury Updates Week 12: Peyton Manning, Terrelle Pryor, Christian Ponder, Jay Cutler, Aaron Rodgers
Post date: Sunday, November 24, 2013 - 06:30
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy Football, injury updates, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /fantasy/week-12-injury-updates-julius-thomas-rob-gronkowski-jordan-reed-kyle-rudolph
Body:

Two of the NFL’s most dangerous tight ends are set to be on the same field tonight in New England and both are listed on the injury report. Is either in danger of not playing?

Julius Thomas, TE, Denver Broncos at New England Patriots
Thomas was limited in practice all week due to a knee injury. He is listed as Questionable and is considered a game-time decision. As long as he’s not ruled out prior to kickoff (8:30 p.m. ET), you should keep Thomas in your lineup. He’s second only to Jimmy Graham in both fantasy points and touchdown catches among tight ends. Even if he’s limited, Thomas is a better starting option than the majority of tight ends out there.

Rob Gronkowski, TE, New England Patriots vs. Denver Broncos
Gronkowski is listed on the injury report because of his back, but he’s also reportedly dealing with forearm and hamstring issues too. Even though he continues to be limited in practice, Gronk is listed as Probable and will be a big part of the Patriots’ game plan against the Broncos. In fact, tonight’s matchup with Denver means Gronk and Julius Thomas, two of the league’s top tight ends and both of which are at less than 100 percent, will get to size each other up in person.

Already Ruled Out

Jordan Reed, TE, Washington Redskins – Reed sustained a concussion last week and as of Friday, he had yet to pass the necessary tests to be cleared to return to the field. He is Out for the Monday night game against San Francisco, at least according to the official injury report. However, based on some comments from head coach Mike Shanahan, there does appear to be some discrepancy regarding his status. Either way, because of the Monday night time slot, it would probably be safest to employ someone other than Reed as your tight end this week.

Kyle Rudolph, TE, Minnesota Vikings – Rudolph is still out with a fractured foot, leaving John Carlson as the starter. Carlson has seven catches in each of the last two games and faces a Green Bay defense that has had some issues shutting opposing tight ends down. Carlson remains a TE2 candidate.

Teaser:
Week 12 Injury Updates: Julius Thomas, Rob Gronkowski, Jordan Reed, Kyle Rudolph
Post date: Sunday, November 24, 2013 - 06:30
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy football rankings, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2013-positional-rankings-week-12
Body:

There may be six weeks remaining in the NFL regular season, but with the fantasy playoffs right around the corner, the clock is ticking for those teams looking to make a late move. Week 12 also signals the end of the bye weeks, as Buffalo, Cincinnati, Philadelphia and Seattle are the last four teams to get a breather.

At this point, however, chances are no team is at full strength, as not only have bye weeks tested roster depth and an owner’s ability to work the waiver wire, but there’s also been no lack of injuries to key, if not crucial, players. Take quarterback for example. Not only are Nick Foles and Russell Wilson not available this week, owners are still waiting on Aaron Rodgers and Jay Cutler to return. And that’s not even the whole story at this one position.

As good as the likes of Peyton Manning, Jamaal Charles, Calvin Johnson and Jimmy Graham have been this season, there’s been no shortage of those who have emerged from obscurity to post some pretty impressive numbers of their own. Last week that was Tampa Bay running back Bobby Rainey, who finished second only to Ben Roethlisberger in fantasy points (Athlon scoring), after rushing for 163 yards and scoring three total touchdowns against Atlanta.

I’m going to guess that Rainey wasn’t even on that many rosters, let alone starting for many teams last week. While I have no doubt the former has certainly changed, the focus shifts to the latter. If you have Rainey are you starting him this week against Detroit in hopes that he can do it two games in a row? The game is not until Sunday, so you still have some time. Just remember though, the clock is ticking.

Each week during the NFL season, we will rank enough players at each position to appease everyone from those in 8-team leagues to 16-team leagues, those that can start two QBs, two TEs, three RBs and four WRs. We cut out the rest, because if you're looking at who the 50th-best running back or the 17th-best kicker is for that week, you need more help than any website can give you.

2013 NFL Week 12 Fantasy Football Positional Rankings

Quarterbacks
Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends
Defense/Special Teams

Kickers

Week 12 Waiver Wire

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

OFFENSIVE SCORING
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

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

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

Teaser:
Fantasy Football 2013 Positional Rankings: Week 12
Post date: Thursday, November 21, 2013 - 07:30
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy football rankings, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2013-quarterback-rankings-week-12
Body:

Once again, matchup has a hand in determining how the top two spots on Athlon Sports' fantasy football Week 12 quarterback rankings shake out. Both Drew Brees and Peyton Manning are on the road this week, but Brees' matchup with Atlanta's shaky defense is more than enough to give him the nod over Manning, who will go head-to-head with Tom Brady for the 14th time Sunday night at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Mass.

While Manning and Brady are first and second in fantasy points at their position, who is No. 3 may surprise some. With a healthy assist from Calvin Johnson, Matthew Stafford is somewhat quietly putting together a Pro Bowl-caliber season. The Lions' signal-caller is third in the NFL in both yards passing (3,198) and touchdown passes (21) and has thrown just eight interceptions. He's also scored twice on the ground. In 2012, Stafford finished with a total of 20 touchdown passes (and four rushing) and threw 17 picks. He could be in for another solid outing this week at home against a Tampa Bay defense that is ranked 18th against the pass and has given up 19 touchdowns through the air.

Another quarterback that has been hot lately is Ben Roethlisberger. Big Ben was Week 11's top overall scorer, thanks to his 367 yards passing and four touchdowns in a come-from-behind win at home against Stafford's Lions. It was Roethlisberger's second game with at least 360 yards passing and four touchdowns in the last three weeks. The Steelers have won four in a row and will look to continue their turnaround Sunday against a Cleveland defense that's fourth in the league in passing yards allowed.

Each week during the NFL season, we will rank enough players at each position to appease everyone from those in 8-team leagues to 16-team leagues, those that can start two QBs, two TEs, three RBs and four WRs. We cut out the rest, because if you're looking at who the 50th-best running back or the 17th-best kicker is for that week, you need more help than any website can give you.

2013 NFL Week 12 Fantasy Football Rankings — Quarterbacks

RkPlayerTeamOPPNotes
1Drew BreesNOat ATL (Thurs.)Falcons giving up fourth-most fantasy points to QBs.
2Peyton ManningDENat NEBroncos' O-line didn't give up a sack to Chiefs last week.
3Matthew StaffordDETvs. TBStafford has 8:4 TD:INT ratio in 4 home games.
4Cam NewtonCARat MIACam looked sharp (3 TDs, 0 INTs) vs. Patriots on MNF.
5Tom BradyNEvs. DENBroncos' D has allowed 191.3 passing ypg over last 4.
6Tony RomoDALat NYGThis is different Giants' D than one he faced in Week 1.
7Andrew LuckINDat ARIHas thrown 1 TD, 3 INTs in last 2 games.
8Colin KaepernickSFat WAS (Mon.)Redskins giving up fifth-most fantasy points to QBs.
9Robert Griffin IIIWASvs. SF (Mon.)49ers' D has done well against dual-threat QBs.
10Ben RoethlisbergerPITat CLEBig Ben has 9 TD passes, 3 INTs over last 3 games.
11Mike GlennonTBat DETLions are 30th in the NFL in passing defense (283.8 ypg).
12Eli ManningNYGvs. DALCowboys dead last in passing yards allowed (313.0 ypg).
13Philip RiversSDat KCChiefs still 9th in pass D after facing Peyton/Broncos.
14Alex SmithKCvs. SDHas just 4 INTs on season, Chargers' D has 5.
15Case KeenumHOUvs. JACStill the starter despite getting benched vs. Raiders.
16Carson PalmerARIvs. INDTorched the Jags (419-2-0) last week.
17Matt RyanATLvs. NO (Thurs.)Over last 4 G: 237.3 ypg, 5 TDs, 9 INTs.
18Ryan FitzpatrickTENat OAKRaiders have given up 19 TD passes w/ just 7 INTs.
19Joe FlaccoBALvs. NYJHasn't thrown for more than 250 yards in each of last 4 G.
20Josh McCownCHIat STL2-0 as the starter, has yet to throw an INT (5 TDs) in 4 G.
21Scott TolzienGBvs. MINThrew for 339 yards, but 0 TDs, 3 INTs in first start.
22Jason CampbellCLEvs. PITSteelers' pass D stiffened in second half vs. Lions last week.
23Ryan TannehillMIAvs. CARPanthers giving up fewest fantasy points to QBs.
24Kellen ClemensSTLvs. CHIHasn't thrown an interception over his last 2 games.
25Matt McGloinOAKvs. TENHeck of a debut: 3 TDs, 0 INTs in first career start.
26Geno SmithNYJat BALHas he hit the wall? 1 TD pass, 8 INTs in last 5 games.
27Chad HenneJACat HOUTexans lead the NFL in passing yards allowed (167.5 ypg).
28Christian PonderMINat GBHe may start, but no guarantee he will finish game.

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

OFFENSIVE SCORING
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

Additional Week 12 Positional Rankings

Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends
Defense/Special Teams

Kickers

Week 12 Waiver Wire

Teaser:
Fantasy Football 2013 Quarterback Rankings: Week 12
Post date: Thursday, November 21, 2013 - 07:30
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy football rankings, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2013-running-back-rankings-week-12
Body:

Two elite options are on bye this week, so Athlon Sports' fantasy football Week 12 running back rankings may look a little different. LeSean McCoy and Marshawn Lynch both get a breather, but there are still plenty of appealing, as well as some intriguing, options out there.

Jamaal Charles, who leads all running backs in fantasy scoring and is second only to McCoy in yards from scrimmage gets the slight edge over Adrian Peterson for the top spot. Peterson is dealing with a slight groin injury and also faces a tougher matchup, at least on paper, this week in Green Bay while Charles and the Chiefs host San Diego.

Rankings aside, the running back that many will be watching could be the same one who came out of nowhere to lead the position in scoring last week. Tampa Bay's Bobby Rainey went for 163 yards rushing and scored three total touchdowns against Atlanta, placing him second only to Ben Roethlisberger in fantasy points in Week 11.

Rainey, a second-year pro from Western Kentucky who went undrafted in 2012, didn't even start this season with the Buccaneers. After spending 2012 and most of '13 training camp with Baltimore, Rainey was released prior to the start of the season and picked up by Cleveland. Rainey played six games for the Browns, rushing 13 times for 34 yards before getting released after Week 7. Following season-ending injuries to Doug Martin and Mike James, Tampa Bay signed Rainey and he made his Buccaneers debut two weeks ago on "Monday Night Football" against Miami, rushing for 45 yards and a touchdown on eight carries. That was just a warm up to his ground assault on the Falcons at home last week and now everyone wants to see what he has in store for an encore Sunday on the road against Detroit's fifth-ranked rushing defense. As impressive as Rainey was last week, keep one thing in mind: he got 30 carries against the Falcons, a number that he likely won't repeat any week, let alone this Sunday against the Lions' tough run defense.

Each week during the NFL season, we will rank enough players at each position to appease everyone from those in 8-team leagues to 16-team leagues, those that can start two QBs, two TEs, three RBs and four WRs. We cut out the rest, because if you're looking at who the 50th-best running back or the 17th-best kicker is for that week, you need more help than any website can give you.

2013 NFL Week 12 Fantasy Football Rankings — Running Back
Teams on bye: Buffalo, Cincinnati, Philadelphia, Seattle

RkPlayerTeamOPPNotes
1Jamaal CharlesKCvs. SDCharles has highest ypc average (5.5) in NFL history.
2Adrian PetersonMINat GBPackers giving up 141 rushing ypg over last 4.
3Matt ForteCHIat STLRams allowing fourth-most fantasy pts. to RBs.
4Eddie LacyGBvs. MINHas 4 TDs in last 5 games, but just 27 yards last week.
5Frank GoreSFat WAS (Mon.)Redskins giving up second-most fantasy pts. to RBs.
6Zac StacySTLvs. CHIBears are second to last in rushing D (133.9 ypg).
7Reggie BushDETvs. TBBenched part of 2nd half vs. PIT, just 54 total yards.
8Knowshon MorenoDENat NELed in carries, yards vs. Chiefs, but Ball had 2 TDs.
9Alfred MorrisWASvs. SF (Mon.)Has 22 or more carries in each of last 3 games.
10Andre BrownNYGvs. DALCowboys giving up most fantasy points to RBs.
11Chris JohnsonTENat OAKAll four of his rushing TDs have come in past 3 G.
12Rashad JenningsOAKvs. TENAveraging 113.3 rushing ypg over last 3 games.
13Ben TateHOUvs. JACJaguars last in rush defense, have allowed 15 TDs.
14Le'Veon BellPITat CLEEffective (4.9 ypc, 19 att.) vs. Ravens last week.
15DeMarco MurrayDALat NYGHad 86 yards on 20 carries vs. Giants in Week 1.
16Stevan RidleyNEvs. DENFumble cost him carries vs. CAR, but he did score.
17Pierre ThomasNOat ATL (Thurs.)Has 11 or more carries in five of last six games.
18Chris IvoryNYJat BALRavens have given up just 1 rushing TD.
19Maurice Jones-DrewJACat HOUHas scored a TD in back-to-back games.
20Ryan MathewsSDat KCChiefs' rush D bends (117.1 ypg), but doesn't break (4 TDs).
21Bobby RaineyTBat DETGashed Falcons for 163 yards rushing, 3 total TDs.
22Ray RiceBALvs. NYJPosted first 100-yard game (131, TD) last week.
23Shane VereenNEvs. DENOne carry, but seven receptions in first game back.
24Darren SprolesNOat ATL (Thurs.)Tweaked his ankle vs. SF, should play on Thurs.
25Danny WoodheadSDat KCLeads all RBs with 55 receptions.
26Andre EllingtonARIvs. INDJust 3 yards rushing and lost some hair last week.
27Donald BrownINDat ARIMay have replaced T-Rich as Colts' lead back.
28Steven JacksonATLvs. NO (Thurs.)Season high of 77 yards came vs. Saints in Week 1.
29DeAngelo WilliamsCARat MIADolphins giving up 122.6 yards rushing per game.
30Chris OgbonnayaCLEvs. PITLed team in carries (8) and yards (69) last week.
31Rashard MendenhallARIvs. INDHolding onto starting job, 2 TDs in last 3 games.
32Lamar MillerMIAvs. CARPanthers third in the NFL against the run (84.5 ypg).
33Jonathan StewartCARat MIANot very involved (4 att., 10 yds.) on MNF vs. Pats.
34Joique BellDETvs. TBTook over for Bush after fumble, but left w/ injury.
35Trent RichardsonINDat ARICarries continuing to decline, Cards tough vs. run.
36Montee BallDENat NERookie had 2 TDs vs. Chiefs, 3 in last 3 games.
37Daniel ThomasMIAvs. CARPosted a 5.7 ypc average and a TD last week.
38Mike TolbertCARat MIATied with DeAngelo for most RB carries (6) on MNF.
39Mark IngramNOat ATL (Thurs.)Just 25 yards vs. 49ers after 145 against Cowboys.
40Jacquizz RodgersATLvs. NO (Thurs.)Saints yielding 4.9 yards per carry.
41Bilal PowellNYJat BALIvory getting the lion's share of carries.
42Shonn GreeneTENat OAKRaiders have allowed just 7 rushing touchdowns.
43Brian LeonardTBat DETTwo carries last week compared to Rainey's 30.
44Willis McGaheeCLEvs. PITMay be running out of opportunities w/ Browns.
45Bernard PierceBALvs. NYJJets No. 1 in NFL In rushing yards allowed (73.2 ypg).
46Roy HeluWASvs. SF (Mon.)Six or fewer touches in each of last four games.
47Toby GerhartMINat GBPeterson's groin was an issue last week.
48Antone SmithATLvs. NO (Thurs.)Gained 88 yards on just two carries last week.

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

OFFENSIVE SCORING
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

Additional Week 12 Positional Rankings

Quarterbacks
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends
Defense/Special Teams

Kickers

Week 12 Waiver Wire

Teaser:
Fantasy Football 2013 Running Back Rankings: Week 12
Post date: Thursday, November 21, 2013 - 07:30
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy football rankings, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2013-wide-receiver-rankings-week-12
Body:

Calvin Johnson came up huge again last week, solidifying his grip on the top spot on Athlon Sports' fantasy football Week 12 wide receiver rankings, but he wasn’t the only one who posted some gaudy numbers. In Johnson’s case, he posted his third 150-yard effort in his last four games, and needed just one half to accomplish this.

Johnson was unstoppable against Pittsburgh in the first half, catching six passes for 179 yards and two touchdowns. The Steelers did a much better job on him in the final two quarters, holding him without a reception. But the damage had already been done from a fantasy perspective, as Megatron led his peers in fantasy points in Week 11.

That Lions-Steelers game also produced the No. 2 scoring wide receiver last week, as Antonio Brown hauled in seven passes for 147 yards and two touchdowns. The most yards in Week 11 belonged to Arizona’s Michael Floyd. Despite being listed as questionable with a shoulder injury entering the game, Floyd exploded for 193 yards against Jacksonville on just six catches, highlighted by a 91-yard touchdown.

The Cardinals’ No. 1 target is All-Pro Larry Fitzgerald, but if quarterback Carson Palmer can continue his recent stretch of solid play (419 yards, 2 TDs vs. Jacksonville) there should be enough passes to keep both Fitzgerald and Floyd fantasy relevant.

Each week during the NFL season, we will rank enough players at each position to appease everyone from those in 8-team leagues to 16-team leagues, those that can start two QBs, two TEs, three RBs and four WRs. We cut out the rest, because if you're looking at who the 50th-best running back or the 17th-best kicker is for that week, you need more help than any website can give you.

2013 NFL Week 12 Fantasy Football Rankings — Wide Receivers
Teams on bye: Buffalo, Cincinnati, Philadelphia, Seattle

RkPlayerTeamOPPNotes
1Calvin JohnsonDETvs. TBHuge first half (6-179-2) vs. Steelers, nothing in 2nd.
2Andre JohnsonHOUvs. JACExploded for 14-273-1 in last game (2012) vs. Jags.
3Vincent JacksonTBat DETLions giving up second-most fantasy pts. to WRs.
4Demaryius ThomasDENat NEHad 121 yards vs. Chiefs on just five catches (24.2 ypr).
5Dez BryantDALat NYGHad just four catches for 22 yards in Week 1 vs. Giants.
6Brandon MarshallCHIat STLImpacted by the weather last week vs. Ravens.
7Jordy NelsonGBvs. MINVikings have surrendered NFL-worst 23 TD passes.
8Victor CruzNYGvs. DALCowboys last in passing defense (313.0 ypg).
9Josh GordonCLEvs. PITMegatron gave Steelers plenty of problems last week.
10Wes WelkerDENat NESustained concussion last week, watch status.
11Larry FitzgeraldARIvs. INDFloyd had the yards last week, but Fitz caught a TD too.
12Pierre GarconWASvs. SF (Mon.)Sustained some sort of ankle injury last week.
13Torrey SmithBALvs. NYJHas a TD catch in back-to-back games.
14T.Y. HiltonINDat ARITough matchup looming with Cards CB Peterson.
15Eric DeckerDENat NEHis role could expand if Welker (concussion) can't go.
16Marques ColstonNOat ATL (Thurs.)Colston now owns all Saints' franchise receiving records.
17Alshon JefferyCHIat STLHad 100 total yds. (83 receiving, 17 rush) vs. Ravens.
18Antonio BrownPITat CLEBig game last week, but gets CB Joe Haden on Sunday.
19Danny AmendolaNEvs. DENSix grabs vs. Panthers, but just 45 yards.
20Harry DouglasATLvs. NO (Thurs.)Posted 134 yards, TD despite playing with knee injury.
21Cecil ShortsJACat HOUJust five targets, two catches last week vs. Cardinals.
22Anquan BoldinSFat WAS (Mon.)TD vs. Saints was first since Week 4.
23Kendall WrightTENat OAKHas seen 9 or more targets in four of last five games.
24Steve SmithCARat MIADolphins have given up just 1 TD catch to a WR.
25Jarrett BoykinGBvs. MINHas recorded 14 catches for 203 yards over last 2 G.
26Keenan AllenSDat KCSustained knee injury late vs. MIA, expected to play.
27Hakeem NicksNYGvs. DALStill looking for first TD catch of the season.
28Dwayne BoweKCvs. SDTD catch vs. Broncos was first since Week 4.
29James JonesGBvs. MINHas yet to record a TD catch since Week 9 return.
30Michael FloydARIvs. IND91-yard TD highlighted huge (6-193-1) game vs. Jags.
31Rueben RandleNYGvs. DALLeads Giants with six TD receptions.
32Terrance WilliamsDALat NYGHas a TD grab in five of his last six games.
33Roddy WhiteATLvs. NO (Thurs.)Caught first TD pass of season last week vs. Bucs.
34Aaron DobsonNEvs. DENBroncos giving up 14.5 yards per catch to WRs.
35Mike WallaceMIAvs. CARPanthers' D has been tough on passing games.
36Denarius MooreOAKvs. TENTitans yielding fewest points to fantasy WRs.
37Kenny StillsNOat ATL (Thurs.)Could break a big play against porous Falcons secondary.
38Tavon AustinSTLvs. CHIHuge game (314 total yds., 3 TDs) last time on field.
39Santonio HolmesNYJat BALRecorded two catches for 71 yards in return from injury.
40Emmanuel SandersPITat CLESustained a foot injury last week, watch status.
41Jerricho CotcheryPITat CLERole could expand if Sanders (foot) can't play.
42Brian HartlineMIAvs. CAR13 targets (5-65) last week most since Week 1.
43DeAndre HopkinsHOUvs. JAC 
44Nate BurlesonDETvs. TBWill this be the week he returns to the field?
45Chris GivensSTLvs. CHI 
46Rod StreaterOAKvs. TENLed Raiders with 6 rec., 84 yds. and TD last week.
47Lance MooreNOat ATL (Thurs.)Saints should do some damage vs. Falcons' pass D.
48Brandon LaFellCARat MIAHauled in fourth TD catch of season on MNF vs. Pats.
49Miles AustinDALat NYGExpected to play for first time since Week 7.
50Greg JenningsMINat GBSomewhat surprising DNP (Achilles) last week.
51Dexter McClusterKCvs. SDChargers have given up second-most rec. to WRs.
52Rishard MatthewsMIAvs. CARHas 20 targets (15-172-2) in last two games.
53Nate WashingtonTENat OAKHauled in 42-yard catch last week vs. Colts.
54Kris DurhamDETvs. TBShould remain a factor until Burleson returns.
55Jarius WrightMINat GBThree catches, 2 TDs in place of injured Jennings.
56Cordarrelle PattersonMINat GB 
57Stephen HillNYJvs. NYJGeno Smith's issues impacting Jets WR production.
58Julian EdelmanNEvs. DEN 
59Darrius Heyward-BeyINDat ARINot taking advantage of starting role.
60Eddie RoyalSDat KCIt's pretty much all about TDs with him.
61Andre RobertsARIvs. IND 
62Marlon BrownBALvs. NYJ 
63Mario ManninghamSFat WAS (Mon.) 
64Michael CrabtreeSFat WAS (Mon.)May make season debut (Achilles) on MNF vs. Redskins.

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

OFFENSIVE SCORING
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

Additional Week 12 Positional Rankings

Quarterbacks
Running Backs
Tight Ends
Defense/Special Teams

Kickers

Week 12 Waiver Wire

Teaser:
Fantasy Football 2013 Wide Receiver Rankings: Week 12
Post date: Thursday, November 21, 2013 - 07:30
All taxonomy terms: NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2013-tight-end-rankings-week-12
Body:

The usual suspects head up Athlon Sports' fantasy football Week 12 tight end rankings, but this season hasn’t lacked for surprises when it comes to the position either. Take Miami’s Charles Clay for example. Not really on the radar entering this season, a serious leg injury suffered by Dustin Keller, provided Clay an opportunity for more playing time, and the hybrid fullback/tight end has made the most of it.

Clay has 42 catches for 474 yards and four touchdowns, along with one rushing score, which places him eighth in fantasy points among tight ends. He faces a pretty tough matchup this week with Carolina’s defense, but his versatility and obvious presence in the Dolphins’ offense makes it hard to bench him.

This doesn’t mean that Jimmy Graham won’t continue his domination at the position or that Rob Gronkowski or Julius Thomas won’t both put up big numbers when their teams face off on Sunday night. What it does mean is that Graham, Gronk, Thomas, along with the likes of Vernon Davis, Antonio Gates, Tony Gonzalez and Jason Witten aren’t the only tight ends you have to own to make some noise at the position. After all, who would have guessed that Jordan Reed would emerge as a top-10 option in 2013 or that Garrett Graham or Delanie Walker would enter Week 12 with more fantasy points than Gronk, Jermichael Finley, Heath Miller, Jared Cook or Kyle Rudolph?

Each week during the NFL season, we will rank enough players at each position to appease everyone from those in 8-team leagues to 16-team leagues, those that can start two QBs, two TEs, three RBs and four WRs. We cut out the rest, because if you're looking at who the 50th-best running back or the 17th-best kicker is for that week, you need more help than any website can give you.

2013 NFL Week 12 Fantasy Football Rankings — Tight Ends
Teams on bye: Buffalo, Cincinnati, Philadelphia, Seattle

RkPlayerTeamOPPNotes
1Jimmy GrahamNOat ATL (Thurs.)No TDs in last 2 G, still No. 1 fantasy TE by wide margin.
2Rob GronkowskiNEvs. DENNo debate on the one TD he caught vs. CAR on MNF.
3Julius ThomasDENat NETied Graham with 10th TD grab, dealing w/ knee strain.
4Vernon DavisSFat WAS (Mon.)Shook off concussion, caught 8th TD pass.
5Jason WittenDALat NYGHad 8 catches for 70 yards and 2 TD vs. Giants in Week 1.
6Antonio GatesSDat KCOnly 3 TD catches, but still a top 5 fantasy TE.
7Coby FleenerINDat ARICardinals have surrendered 10 TD catches to TEs.
8Jordan CameronCLEvs. PITJust 1 TD catch in his last six games.
9Greg OlsenCARat MIAHas a TD catch in three of last four games.
10Tony GonzalezATLvs. NO (Thurs.)Played through toe injury, caught 7 passes for 63 yds.
11Jordan ReedWASvs. SF (Mon.)Held to just 1 catch for 12 yards last week by PHI.
12Delanie WalkerTENat OAKQuietly putting together solid (39-403-5) season.
13Charles ClayMIAvs. CARRecorded 4th TD catch last week, top 10 fantasy TE.
14John CarlsonMINat GBSolid (12-167-1) production in 2 G w/o Rudolph.
15Martellus BennettCHIat STLRams giving up second-fewest fantasy pts. to TEs.
16Garrett GrahamHOUvs. JACBroke out (7-136-1) last week vs. Raiders.
17Timothy WrightTBat DETHas totaled 3 catches for 32 yards in last 2 games.
18Rob HouslerARIvs. INDHas 10 catches for 127 yards and a TD in last 2 games.
19Heath MillerPITat CLESeason-high 8 catches (67 yards) last week.
20Jared CookSTLvs. CHIBears have yielded just 2 TD receptions by TEs.
21Brandon PettigrewDETvs. TBOne TD reception this season.
22Dallas ClarkBALvs. NYJJets have had some problems defending TEs.
23Jeff CumberlandNYJat BALOne of few bright spots on offense last week for Jets.
24Brandon MyersNYGvs. DAL 
25Anthony FasanoKCvs. SDFasano's presence in the passing game growing.
26Andrew QuarlessGBvs. MIN 

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

OFFENSIVE SCORING
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

Additional Week 12 Positional Rankings

Quarterbacks
Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Defense/Special Teams

Kickers

Week 12 Waiver Wire

Teaser:
Fantasy Football 2013 Tight End Rankings: Week 12
Post date: Thursday, November 21, 2013 - 07:30

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