Articles By Mark Ross

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Calvin Johnson hasn't scored a touchdown or gone over 100 yards in two straight games, but he's still No. 1 on Athlon Sports' fantasy football Week 16 wide receiver rankings. For one, Johnson still leads his peers in fantasy points, despite the best efforts of Josh Gordon, Antonio Brown, Brandon Marshall, Demaryius Thomas and others, but also because he's home this week against a pretty beat-down Giants defense. Megatron is one of the few players who can make a lot of noise even if he catches a few passes.

As for the rest of this week's field, Gordon, Marshall, Brown and Thomas are all must-start options, along with A.J. Green, Dez Bryant, DeSean Jackson and Marshall's teammate, Alshon Jeffery. In particular, we really like the Chicago vs. Philadelphia matchup, as the Eagles are giving up the most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers. The Vikings aren't too far behind, which bodes well for Green and we wouldn't be at all surprised if the Dallas-Washington pairing is a high-scoring affair. That's good news for Bryant owners as well as Pierre Garcon, who caught seven passes for 129 yards and a touchdown with Kirk Cousins as his quarterback last week.

That's not to say that Denver won't be up to its usual tricks against Houston, so by no means are you sitting either Thomas or Eric Decker. And likewise, Andre Johnson should add to his league-leading receptions total (99) against the 28th-ranked passing defense in the league. What remains to be seen for that game, however, is will Wes Welker return after missing last week because of a concussion? Larry Fitzgerald and Victor Cruz are also going through the required concussion tests and are questionable for Sunday. Although Fitzgerald's road matchup in Seattle and the Giants' offensive struggles may be enough reason alone to leave both on the bench this week.

As far as some less-heralded options go, what about New England's Julian Edelman? He's picked up the slack and then some since Rob Gronkowski tore his ACL and MCL, racking up 39 receptions over his last four games, including 13 for 139 yards and a touchdown against Miami. It's pretty clear that he has become Tom Brady's favorite target, as Edelman has quietly put together a top-15 fantasy season. And then there's San Diego rookie Keenan Allen. He caught just two passes in last week's surprise win in Denver, but both of them went for touchdowns. He's emerged as not only Philip Rivers' No. 1 target, Allen is a leading contender for Offensive Rookie of the Year honors. He has seven touchdown grabs on the season and needs just 69 yards receiving against Oakland to reach 1,000. All Allen did in his first game against the Raiders was haul in six passes for 115 yards and a score.

2013 NFL Week 16 Fantasy Football Rankings — Wide Receivers
 

RkPlayerTeamOPP
1Calvin JohnsonDETvs. NYG
2Josh GordonCLEat NYJ
3A.J. GreenCINvs. MIN
4Brandon MarshallCHIat PHI
5Alshon JefferyCHIat PHI
6Dez BryantDALat WAS
7Demaryius ThomasDENat HOU
8Antonio BrownPITat GB
9DeSean JacksonPHIvs. CHI
10Andre JohnsonHOUvs. DEN
11Pierre GarconWASvs. DAL
12Vincent JacksonTBat STL
13Keenan AllenSDvs. OAK
14Jordy NelsonGBvs. PIT
15Eric DeckerDENat HOU
16Julian EdelmanNEat BAL
17Torrey SmithBALvs. NE
18Mike WallaceMIAat BUF
19Marques ColstonNOat CAR
20Michael CrabtreeSFvs. ATL (Mon.)
21Anquan BoldinSFvs. ATL (Mon.)
22Kendall WrightTENat JAC
23Dwayne BoweKCvs. IND
24Larry FitzgeraldARIat SEA
25Wes WelkerDENat HOU
26Roddy WhiteATLat SF (Mon.)
27Danny AmendolaNEat BAL
28T.Y. HiltonINDat KC
29James JonesGBvs. PIT
30Greg JenningsMINat CIN
31Brian HartlineMIAat BUF
32Riley CooperPHIvs. CHI
33Steve SmithCARvs. NO
34Doug BaldwinSEAvs. ARI
35Rod StreaterOAKat SD
36Golden TateSEAvs. ARI
37Cordarrelle PattersonMINat CIN
38Harry DouglasATLat SF (Mon.)
39Hakeem NicksNYGat DET
40Rueben RandleNYGat DET
41Jarrett BoykinGBvs. PIT
42Stevie JohnsonBUFvs. MIA
43Michael FloydARIat SEA
44Emmanuel SandersPITat GB
45Robert WoodsBUFvs. MIA
46Denarius MooreOAKat SD
47Marlon BrownBALvs. NE
48Andre HolmesOAKat SD
49DeAndre HopkinsHOUvs. DEN
50Ace SandersJACvs. TEN

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 16 Positional Rankings

Quarterbacks
Running Backs
Tight Ends
Defense/Special Teams

Kickers

Teaser:
Fantasy Football 2013 Wide Receiver Rankings: Week 16
Post date: Thursday, December 19, 2013 - 06:30
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy football rankings, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2013-tight-end-rankings-week-16
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It was a rough day at the office last week for Jimmy Graham, but he's firmly entrenched in the top spot on Athlon Sports' fantasy football Week 16 tight end rankings. Graham still leads all tight ends in fantasy points by nearly 60, leads the NFL in touchdown receptions (12), and is facing a Carolina defense against which he recorded two scores just two weeks ago. Graham brought you this far, you may as well let him finish the job.

As impressive a season as Graham has had, Vernon Davis is putting up some nice numbers of his own. His 12 touchdown catches are second only to Graham and he's on pace to record nearly 60 catches and more than 900 yards even though he missed a game earlier because of injury. San Francisco hosts Atlanta on Monday night and the Falcons have allowed the eighth-most fantasy points to tight ends.

Even though the 49ers' defense has been tough, that doesn't mean that Tony Gonzalez won't have success against it. The future Hall of Famer has recorded a touchdown catch in three straight games and has once again produced a top-five fantasy season. Cleveland's Jordan Cameron is currently third behind Graham and Davis in fantasy points, but he sustained a concussion last week and will have to pass the required tests before he's cleared to play against the Jets. The matchup is definitely appealing (Jets allowing seventh-most fantasy points to TEs), but you need to make sure that Cameron is playing before leaving him in your lineup. Especially in a week with so much at stake.

If Cameron can't go, some potential replacement options for him could include Delanie Walker, Dennis Pitta, Tyler Eifert, Timothy Wright or even Zach Miller or Andrew Quarless. In Miller's case the Cardinals have surrendered 92 catches and 15 touchdowns to opposing tight ends this season, while Quarless has caught exactly six passes for 66 yards and a score in each of the past two games.

2013 NFL Week 16 Fantasy Football Rankings — Tight Ends

RkPlayerTeamOPP
1Jimmy GrahamNOat CAR
2Vernon DavisSFvs. ATL (Mon.)
3Julius ThomasDENat HOU
4Jason WittenDALat WAS
5Greg OlsenCARvs. NO
6Tony GonzalezATLat SF (Mon.)
7Jordan CameronCLEat NYJ
8Delanie WalkerTENat JAC
9Charles ClayMIAat BUF
10Antonio GatesSDvs. OAK
11Martellus BennettCHIat PHI
12Dennis PittaBALvs. NE
13Tyler EifertCINvs. MIN
14Coby FleenerINDat KC
15Heath MillerPITat GB
16Timothy WrightTBat STL
17Zach MillerSEAvs. ARI
18Garrett GrahamHOUvs. DEN
19Jared CookSTLvs. TB
20Andrew QuarlessGBvs. PIT

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 16 Positional Rankings

Quarterbacks
Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Defense/Special Teams

Kickers

Teaser:
Fantasy Football 2013 Tight End Rankings: Week 16
Post date: Thursday, December 19, 2013 - 06:30
Path: /nfl/cincinnati-bengals-vs-pittsburgh-steelers-preview-and-prediction-2013
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Division rivals that find themselves in unusual positions are on tap tonight when the Pittsburgh Steelers host the Cincinnati Bengals at Heinz Field at 8:30 pm. ET on NBC. Marvin Lewis’ Bengals (9-4) could clinch a playoff spot with a win and some help, while Mike Tomlin’s Steelers (5-8) have to be content with playing the roll of spoiler.

Cincinnati leads Baltimore by two games in the AFC North with three to play. A win over Pittsburgh along with a loss or tie by either Baltimore or Miami would put the Bengals into the playoffs for the third straight season, which would be a first for the franchise. If the Bengals win and the Ravens lose or tie, then Cincinnati would claim its eighth division crown and first since 2009.

Pittsburgh meanwhile isn’t worried about the postseason, as the Steelers are all but guaranteed of missing the playoffs for the second straight season. The last time that happened was 1998-2000. The Steelers also are faced with the task of winning out or else they will finish below .500 for the first time since 1999 (6-10).

Three Things to Watch

When Last We Met…
Cincinnati defeated Pittsburgh 20-10 in Week 2. Both teams were coming off of season-opening losses, but the Bengals got into the win column at home behind a balanced offensive attack and some stingy defense. The Bengals outgained the Steelers 407-278 on offense, including a commanding 127-44 edge on the ground. Rookie running back Giovani Bernard scored both Bengal touchdowns (one rush, one receiving) and quarterback Andy Dalton completed 25 passes to eight different receivers. The Bengals didn’t turn the ball over, while the Steelers committed two miscues – a Ben Roethlisgerger interception and Dennis Paulson fumble. The Steelers averaged just 2.8 yards per carry and were 3-of-12 on third down conversions. The win was the second in a row for Cincinnati over Pittsburgh, the first time that had happened since the Bengals swept the series in 2009.

Will the Bengals Stick to the Script?
Since losing back-to-back overtime games on the road to Miami and Baltimore, Cincinnati has won three in a row. The recipe for the Bengals’ success this season has pretty much been let the defense do its job while not putting too much pressure on the offense. Cincinnati is eighth in the NFL in total defense (320.5 ypg) and sixth in scoring defense (18.8 ppg). The Bengals have given up more than 400 yards in a game once and have held every opponent to 30 points or fewer. The offense has had its moments, in particular a four-game stretch in October, but inconsistency and turnovers have both been issues. The Bengals have produced less than 300 total yards of offense on three different occasions this season and half of their turnovers have come in their four losses. The fact that Cincinnati is 3-3 when scoring 20 points or fewer is a testament to its defense. The Bengals are tied for third in the AFC with 23 total takeaways (13 INTs, 10 fumbles) yet have a minus-1 differential because of the offense’s 24 miscues. As long as the offense can stay out of its own way, Cincinnati’s defense should be able to take care of business tonight.

Can the Steelers Finish Strong?
It has largely been a season to forget for Mike Tomlin and company. After losing their first four games to start the season, the Steelers battled back to 5-6 entering Week 13, but have lost their past two games. Once again, the lack of a running game has stymied an offense that’s been devastated by injuries along the offensive line. Only Jacksonville has rushed for fewer yards than Pittsburgh (77.4 ypg), as the Steelers have mustered a total of five touchdowns on the ground. Ben Roethlisberger has been sacked 39 times and he’s also responsible for 16 (10 INTs, 6 fumbles) of the team’s 19 turnovers. On the other hand the defense has struggled to produce takeaways and has given up some big numbers to the opposition on more than one occasion. The Steel Curtain didn’t produce a single takeaway in its first four games combined and has just 15 (8 INTs, 7 fumbles) on the season. The 407 yards allowed to Cincinnati in Week 2 are one of three such 400-yard games, including the franchise-record 610 surrendered to New England in Week 9. The 55 points the Patriots scored also represent an all-time low for this defense, which has had trouble consistently stopping the run. Pittsburgh is 24th in the NFL in rushing defense (120.2 ypg) and gave up 181 on the ground in last week’s home loss to Miami. The Steelers’ issues are well documented, but the real question for tonight is does this team have any fight left in it?

Cincinnati Key Player: Andy Dalton, QB
The Bengals’ second-round draft pick (35th overall) in 2011, Dalton is on the verge of doing something that has never been done in franchise history – earn a third straight postseason berth. He is on pace for his first 4,000-yard, 30-touchdown season and also is enjoying a career year in terms of quarterback rating. The problem, however, is that Dalton’s career-best rating at this point is still just 87.7 and while he’s on pace for 31 touchdown passes, he’s also on track for 20 interceptions. Dalton has had his moments of brilliance, such as the three-game stretch in October in which he averaged 345 yards passing per game and posted an 11:2 touchdown-to-interception ratio. However, he followed that up with just six touchdowns and nine picks in his next four outings. Dalton is 0-2 in playoff games in his career and he knows that he needs to play better in the games that count the most. It may not be a postseason game, but tonight on the road against a division rival in a tough environment would be a good place for Dalton to start.

Pittsburgh Key Player: Le’Veon Bell, RB
The Steelers’ second-round pick (48th overall) in April, Bell’s debut was delayed by a preseason foot injury that sidelined him for the first three games. His first season has been a bit of a mixed bag, as he’s rushed for 93 yards on 19 carries in a win over Baltimore, but is averaging 3.4 yards per carry on the season and has scored a total of five touchdowns. Bell missed the first game against Cincinnati and the Steelers’ offense managed just 44 yards on the ground without him. The Bengals are fifth in the NFL in rushing defense, allowing 98.2 yards per game and running the ball has been a problem for Pittsburgh all season. A strong finish by Bell, starting tonight, would not only increase the Steelers’ chances of beating the Bengals, but also would serve as a positive sign for both the team and fans alike as the focus shifts to turning things around in 2014.

Final Analysis

Barring a pretty big collapse, Cincinnati will be in the playoffs for the third straight season, a first for the franchise. The Bengals also are in the driver’s seat for the AFC North title and have a shot at earning home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. Pittsburgh meanwhile is headed in the opposite direction, pretty much guaranteed of missing the playoffs for the second straight season. The Steelers need to win out if they don’t want to finish below .500 for the first time in nearly 15 years.

The Bengals have done it all season with good defense and some timely contributions from the offense. There’s no reason to expect this team to stray from what has worked for it. The Steelers have had trouble with the running game on both sides of the ball and have had their depth tested by a rash of injuries.

Cincinnati has struggled in the Steel City, having lost four of the past six games at Heinz Field, but this is neither your typical Bengals team nor your typical Steelers squad. In the end, Cincinnati sticks to the script – tough defense, balanced offense, take care of the football – that has worked so well. The Bengals get one step closer to a franchise first by doing something they haven’t done since 1990 – win three in a row against the Steelers.

Cincinnati 23, Pittsburgh 20

Teaser:
Cincinnati Bengals vs. Pittsburgh Steelers Preview and Prediction
Post date: Sunday, December 15, 2013 - 10:00
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Which running backs can you count on in Week 15 and which should you be concerned about today? Athlon Sports has the information you need to keep your backfield in motion.

Adrian Peterson and Toby Gerhart, RBs, Minnesota Vikings vs. Philadelphia Eagles
Peterson left last week’s game on a cart, but fortunately escaped serious injury. He did sprain his right foot, however, which has him listed as Questionable for today’s game. Complicating matters is the fact that Gerhart, Peterson’s backup, also is Questionable with a hamstring injury. With so much at stake this week, I would be very careful with Peterson and make sure he ends up being active before leaving him in the lineup. At least the early kickoff (1 p.m. ET) should help with this decision. If Peterson can’t go, I would think twice before replacing him with Gerhart, since it’s apparent he won’t be at 100 percent himself even if he plays.

Maurice Jones-Drew, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Buffalo Bills
Jones-Drew came up lame late last week against Houston, injuring his hamstring. He underwent an MRI and wasn’t able to practice at all this week. He is listed as Doubtful to play today, which means you should not count on having MJD in your lineup. It’s a shame too since he rushed for 102 yards against the Texans before getting hurt and he has been playing better recently. Jordan Todman is expected to start in Jones-Drew’s place, but he’s not 100 percent himself (shoulder) and shouldn’t be mistaken for an obvious replacement.

Frank Gore, RB, San Francisco 49ers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Gore was limited in practice this week because of an ankle injury, but he is considered Probable to face the Buccaneers. The veteran has been averaging around 17 carries per game this season, it’s just a matter of what he’s able to do with them. His 110-yard effort last week against Seattle certainly is reason for optimism, but Tampa Bay has been better against the run than the Seahawks. Regardless of matchup, you are likely sticking with Gore and just hope he’s still got some juice left in his legs.

Lamar Miller, RB, Miami Dolphins vs. New England Patriots
Miller suffered a concussion last week against Pittsburgh, limiting him to just six carries (20 yards) and two catches (13 yards). He was back at practice by Tuesday and was a full go the rest of the week. He is considered Probable for today’s game and barring a setback Miller will play. However, thanks to a near-miraculous recovery from an ankle injury by Daniel Thomas it appears that Miller will be a part of some sort of time-share in the Dolphins’ backfield. This alone limits Miller’s value to a lower-end RB2 at best and probably more of a flex option.

Teaser:
Week 15 Injury Updates: Adrian Peterson, Maurice Jones-Drew, Frank Gore, Lamar Miller
Post date: Sunday, December 15, 2013 - 06:30
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Path: /fantasy/injury-updates-week-15-reggie-bush-eddie-lacy-jonathan-stewart-rashad-jennings
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With the fantasy playoffs upon us, lineup decisions are even more critical as it’s win or go home in Week 15. Here’s the latest information on some injured running backs playing in the late games that you need to consult before deciding on your starting backfield.

Reggie Bush, RB, Detroit Lions vs. Baltimore Ravens (Mon.)
Bush did not play in the snow in Philadelphia last week after re-aggravating his calf injury in warm ups. His practice participation this week was limited to appearances on just Friday and Saturday, and he is officially Questionable for the Monday night tilt with Baltimore. The fact that he did practice some is a positive development, but that’s not to say something can’t happen to him in warm ups again either. Unless you are content to assume the risk, a decision will have to be made on Bush well before Monday night so as not to limit your replacement options.

Eddie Lacy, RB, Green Bay Packers at Dallas Cowboys
Even though he didn’t practice at all until Friday, Lacy is considered Probable and expected to play this afternoon. Lacy sprained his ankle in the second quarter last week, but returned and finished the game. He’s not at 100 percent, so don’t be surprised to see Lacy’s workload limited with James Starks getting a few more carries. Still against Dallas’ woeful defense, Lacy should get enough opportunities to produce along the lines of a RB2 this week.

Jonathan Stewart, RB, Carolina Panthers vs. New York Jets
Stewart suffered a torn MCL in his right knee in last week’s loss in New Orleans. While he has not yet been ruled out for the rest of the season, he will miss today’s game. Usually this means that DeAngelo Williams and Mike Tolbert both get a significant bump in their respective outlooks, but the Jets are No. 2 in the NFL in rushing defense. Williams remains ahead of Tolbert in the pecking order, but Williams is still nothing more than a flex option this week.

Rashad Jennings and Darren McFadden, RBs, Oakland Raiders vs. Kansas City Chiefs
McFadden is Out once again because of ankle injury and injured reserve is very much a possibility for the fragile, soon-to-be free agent. Jennings is expected to return after missing last week because of a concussion. He was able to practice fully on Thursday and Friday and is listed as Probable. Even with today’s matchup against Kansas City, Jennings should be in your starting lineup based on his recent production. Marcel Reece should be a factor as well, as he rushed for 123 yards and a touchdown last week against the Jets with Jennings and McFadden sidelined.

Andre Ellington, RB, Arizona Cardinals at Tennessee Titans
After missing one game because of a knee injury, Ellington returned last week and rushed for 46 yards and a touchdown. The knee is still an issue, but Ellington is considered Probable and should share the load with Rashard Mendenhall. While Mendenhall’s presence limits Ellington’s potential, the Titans have been susceptible to the run this season, surrendering 18 rushing touchdowns. Ellington should see enough touches to merit flex consideration with the potential for even better numbers, depending on how the touches are distributed between him and Mendenhall.

Teaser:
Injury Updates Week 15: Reggie Bush, Eddie Lacy, Jonathan Stewart, Rashad Jennings
Post date: Sunday, December 15, 2013 - 06:30
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy Football, injury updates, NFL, Fantasy, News
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Several teams’ passing games may be missing some of their top targets in Week 15. Here are some wide receivers whose playing statuses you may want to check before kickoff.

Cecil Shorts, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Buffalo Bills
Shorts’ groin is so bad that he said this week he will likely need surgery after the season to repair the damage. As far as today goes, he is listed as Questionable with head coach Gus Bradley adding “very” to that designation. Shorts has said he wants to play through the injury, but it’s clear that there is reason for concern. At best, Shorts is a game-time decision to face the Bills, but I would strongly consider another option this week.

Vincent Jackson, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. San Francisco 49ers
Just like last week, Jackson missed practice time due to his hamstring injury and is listed as Questionable to play. A game-time decision last week, Jackson not only played, but he caught three passes for 70 yards and a touchdown against the Bills. This afternoon’s matchup with the 49ers figures to be a little tougher, but Jackson is the Bucs’ No. 1 target and as long as he plays, he needs to be in your lineup.

Roddy White, WR, Atlanta Falcons vs. Washington Redskins
Having already dealt with an ankle and hamstring injury, White bruised his knee last week against Green Bay and was limited in practice this week because of it. He is listed as Questionable but he himself has said he will be fine for today’s game. It has been a disappointing season for White, but he’s playing his best right now with 18 catches for 217 yards in his last two games. If you have held on to him this long, today’s matchup with Washington could bring a smile to your face.

Michael Crabtree, WR, San Francisco 49ers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Crabtree is dealing with an ankle injury in addition to getting himself back to full speed following his return from a torn Achilles. He is listed as Probable and should be out there today, but considering his limited impact thus far (6 receptions for 108 yards in two games) and a potential matchup with All-Pro cornerback Darrelle Revis, it’s probably safest to keep Crabtree on the bench and revisit his status next week.

DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Houston Texans at Indianapolis Colts
Hopkins is dealing with an ankle injury, which limited him during practice this week. He is listed as Questionable and just like his teammate tight end Garrett Graham, he will be a game-time decision. Hopkins has had his moments this season, but the rookie also has gone through extended stretches of inconsistency, which has made him hard to trust recently. He does have at least 76 yards receiving in his last two games, but his last touchdown came back in Week 7. It’s up to you if you want to wait (1 p.m. ET kickoff) to see if Hopkins will play. I just hope he’s no more than a WR3/flex in your lineup.

Percy Harvin, WR, Seattle Seahawks at New York Giants
Harvin has already been ruled Out for today’s game and head coach Pete Carroll said it would likely be a while before the wide receiver’s surgically repaired hip was “right.” Unless you just can’t let go, there’s no need to keep Harvin in non-keeper leagues.

Teaser:
Week 15 Injury Updates: Cecil Shorts, Vincent Jackson, Roddy White, Michael Crabtree
Post date: Sunday, December 15, 2013 - 06:30
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These wide receivers are playing in Week 15’s late games and may not be at 100 percent or on the field at all. Keep these players in mind when setting your starting lineup.

Tavon Austin, WR, St. Louis Rams vs. New Orleans Saints
Austin injured his left ankle on a 56-yard run against the Cardinals last week. He didn’t practice at all this week and is considered Questionable for this afternoon’s game. Outside of one big game against Indianapolis a few weeks ago, Austin hasn’t had the impact as a rookie that many expected. The Rams are out of playoff contention, so there’s no reason for the team to risk the long-term health of their first-round draft pick. Leave Austin on your bench and look elsewhere to help fill our your lineup.

Michael Floyd, WR, Arizona Cardinals at Tennessee Titans
Floyd’s ankle doesn’t appear to be getting any better, as he’s listed as Questionable this week. He was able to practice, but was limited both Thursday and Friday and is coming off of a game in which he caught just two passes for 26 yards. With Floyd apparently not at 100 percent and a matchup with a Titans defense that has been pretty good against the pass, Floyd is probably relegated to WR3 status this week at best.

Denarius Moore, WR, Oakland Raiders vs. Kansas City Chiefs
Moore was back at practice in a limited capacity this week after missing the past three games because of a shoulder injury. He is listed as Questionable but is expected to be out there against the Chiefs in some fashion. How involved Moore will be remains to be seen, as Rod Streater and Andre Holmes have both been effective, and at times impressive, in Moore’s absence. If I were to handicap the field, I would go with Streater first followed by Holmes and then Moore, mainly because it’s possible his snaps will be limited and/or he could come off of the bench. Of the three, Streater is the safest, but he’s probably limited to WR3 status this week.

Emmanuel Sanders, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Cincinnati Bengals
Sanders was a late addition to the injury report as he was limited on Thursday and Friday with some sort of foot issue. He’s still considered Probable to play and will be looking to extend his touchdown streak to four games. Antonio Brown is the Steelers’ top target with Sanders and Jerricho Cotchery sharing the leftovers. Even with Sanders’ hot streak, he should be viewed as nothing more than a WR3/flex option.

Teaser:
Injury Updates Week 15: Tavon Austin, Michael Floyd, Denarius Moore, Emmanuel Sanders
Post date: Sunday, December 15, 2013 - 06:30
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Path: /fantasy/week-15-injury-updates-jay-cutler-carson-palmer-aaron-rodgers
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Jay Cutler will be back under center in Week 15, while another NFC North quarterback remains sidelined. And will a bum elbow keep the Cardinals’ quarterback from taking flight against the Titans in Music City this afternoon?

Jay Cutler, QB, Chicago Bears at Cleveland Browns
As promised, Cutler will resume the starting job now that he’s been cleared to return from his ankle injury. Cutler is listed as Probable for today’s game and it’s already been announced that he will replace Josh McCown under center. This is certainly a blow for those who took a chance on McCown, as he fared very well in the starting role. Cutler is just as capable of putting up similar numbers with the weapons he has, but the rust factor and a Browns defense that’s tied for seventh in the NFL against the pass certainly have to be taken into consideration. Whether or not you decide to roll with Cutler with so much on the line this week will likely come down to your appetite for risk-taking at this point of the season. I would carefully consider all of my options before settling on someone who hasn’t played in more than a month.

Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers at Dallas Cowboys
Rodgers returned to practice this week on a limited basis, but he will miss a sixth game as he continues his recovery from a broken collarbone. Depending on the outcome against the Cowboys, it’s not out of the question that the Packers decide to keep Rodgers out the rest of the season as a precaution. For now, Matt Flynn will get the call once again and he was able to rebound (258-1-1) last week from his horrific showing on Thanksgiving Day. Dallas’ defense is the worst in the league, but there’s still a fair amount of risk in trusting Flynn with so much at stake this week.

Carson Palmer, QB, Arizona Cardinals at Tennessee Titans
Palmer was Questionable last week with an elbow injury and he proceeded to throw for 269 yards and a touchdown in the win over the Rams. The elbow is still bothering him enough that he was limited in practice and is listed as Questionable to face the Titans. However, he is expected to be under center for the Cardinals. If there’s any reason for concern with starting Palmer this week it’s because he’s facing a Tennessee defense that has done a good job against the pass and can get to the quarterback. Put it all together and Palmer is a risky fantasy play this week, even in 2-QB leagues.

Teaser:
Week 15 Injury Updates: Jay Cutler, Carson Palmer, Aaron Rodgers
Post date: Sunday, December 15, 2013 - 06:30
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy Football, injury updates, NFL, Fantasy, News
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Tight ends litter the Week 15 injury report. Which ones can you count on this week? Athlon Sports breaks down the latest information.

Greg Olsen, TE, Carolina Panthers vs. New York Jets
Olsen didn’t get in a full week’s worth of practice, but he was a full go on Friday and is considered Probable to face the Jets. His foot injury appears to be a non-issue at this point, an observation that’s reinforced by the 36 targets he has seen over his last four games. The Jets have had some problems defending tight ends this season, so maybe the pipeline between Olsen and Cam Newton will continue this afternoon.

Tony Gonzalez, TE, Atlanta Falcons vs. Washington Redskins
Gonzalez is listed as Questionable, but he practiced in some capacity all week and there’s no reason to not expect him to play. The toe injury is still limiting him in practice, which appears to be the reasoning behind the Questionable designation. He’s caught a touchdown in each of his past two games, so maybe the future Hall of Famer is peaking at just the right time for his owners.

Delanie Walker, TE, Tennessee Titans vs. Arizona Cardinals
Walker missed last week’s game due to a concussion but he was back at practice in full this week and is considered Probable to play today. Arizona is giving up the most fantasy points to tight ends this season, including 14 touchdown catches, so if there’s a week to start Walker, this is it.

Garrett Graham, TE, Houston Texans at Indianapolis Colts
Graham didn’t practice on Friday because of a hamstring injury. He is considered Questionable for today’s game against the Colts and will be a game-time decision. Graham has been productive during Owen Daniels’ extended absence, as he’s averaged nearly 12 targets over the last four games and has two touchdown receptions during that span. This game kicks off at 1 p.m. ET, so you should have time to check on Graham’s status before making a decision, as long as you have a backup plan in place.

John Carlson, TE, Minnesota Vikings vs. Philadelphia Eagles
Carlson has already been ruled Out for today’s game because of a concussion. Kyle Rudolph, who Carlson replaced after Rudolph fractured his foot, went on injured reserve this week, which means the Vikings are digging deep into their depth chart for a tight end this week.

Jordan Reed, TE, Washington Redskins at Atlanta Falcons
Reed hasn’t played since Week 11 because of a concussion. And he won’t play today either, as he has been ruled Out for a fourth straight game. It was reported this week he was still experiencing headaches and going through the league-mandated testing, it’s possible that we have seen the last of Reed this season.

In Case You Missed It…

Rob Gronkowski, TE, New England Patriots – Gronkowski’s injury-saddled season took one final turn last week when he tore the ACL and MCL in his right knee on a low tackle against the Browns. Gronk’s 2013 season is over and his 2014 campaign also is up in the air with him facing another lengthy period of recovery and rehabilitation. Gronk’s loss likewise impacts Tom Brady, as well as running back Shane Vereen and wide receivers Danny Amendola, Julian Edelman and others, but exactly how and to what extent remains to be seen. As it relates to the Patriots’ remaining tight ends, however, it’s pretty simple – nothing to see here.

Teaser:
Injury Updates Week 15: Greg Olsen, Tony Gonzalez, Delanie Walker, Garrett Graham
Post date: Sunday, December 15, 2013 - 06:30
Path: /nfl/san-diego-chargers-vs-denver-broncos-preview-and-prediction
Body:

AFC West rivals will renew acquaintances as the NFL’s Week 15 action gets started tonight with the San Diego Chargers taking on the Denver Broncos at 8:25 p.m. ET on the NFL Network. The Chargers (6-7) need a win if they want to have any shot at the final Wild Card berth in the AFC while the Broncos (11-2) aim to stay ahead of the Chiefs for the divisional lead and the Patriots (10-3) for home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.

Denver has won its past four meetings with San Diego, including a 28-20 road victory back in Week 10. Peyton Manning and the Broncos are a perfect 7-0 at home and are coming off of last week’s 51-28 dismantling of Tennessee. Philip Rivers and the Chargers are just 3-4 on the road, but their biggest victory of the season came as the visiting team. In Week 12, San Diego scored with less than 30 seconds left in the game to defeat Kansas City 41-38, handing the Chiefs their first home loss of the season.

3 Things to Watch

Denver’s Home Dominance
The Broncos have the best record in the AFC and have basically been unstoppable at home. The No. 1 offense in the NFL in both yards (465.6 ypg) and points (39.6 ppg) by wide margins, the numbers are even more staggering when they play at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Denver is 7-0 at home this season and is averaging 478.4 yards and 42.3 points per game played at altitude. The Broncos have outscored opponents 296-153 with an average margin of victory of 20.4 points per home game. Peyton Manning has put up MVP-worthy numbers all season and last week against Tennessee, he pretty much put any doubts about him being able to play in cold weather to bed by torching the Titans for 397 yards passing and four touchdowns. Denver’s offense can beat you with the pass or the run and its quick-strike capability and efficiency combine for one massive headache for opposing defenses. In 28 quarters of play at home, the Broncos have scored in all but three periods. On top of that, Denver has scored double-digit points in more than half (16) of those 28 quarters. San Diego’s offense is no slouch, averaging 400 yards and 24 points per game, and the Chargers’ defense is the only one to hold the Broncos to under 400 yards this season. But Denver still won that game 28-20, and it was in San Diego. At home, no team has been able to corral this offense all season, so it goes without saying that the Chargers’ defense really has its work cut out for it tonight.

San Diego’s Counter Punch
The Chargers know full well what Manning and company are capable of doing, having had a front-row seat just a few weeks ago. The key to beating the Broncos, as the Colts and Patriots demonstrated, is finding a way to trade punches with them when you have the ball. Dallas (48 points), Indianapolis (39) and New England (34) are the only teams to put up more than 30 points against Denver this season. San Diego is fourth in the NFL in total offense at 400.5 yards per game, but tied for 11th in points with 24.3 per contest. The Chargers have scored more than 30 points four times this season, including 37 in last week’s home win against the Giants. Contrast that to Denver, who has been held to fewer than 30 points just twice, one of those games coming against San Diego. The Chargers know they will need to score plenty of points if they have any hope of beating the Broncos. In the first meeting, San Diego was effective running the ball, gaining 131 yards on 35 carries, but Philip Rivers couldn’t get much going through the air. He completed 19 of 29 passes for 218 yards and a touchdown. He didn’t turn the ball over, but he was sacked four times and the Chargers were just 6-of-17 on third down conversions. Denver’s defense has certainly stiffened since the return of All-Pro linebacker Von Miller from suspension, but the unit isn’t completely shutting down offenses either. Statistically, San Diego has been a much more productive offensive team on the road (409.1 ypg, 24.6 ppg) compared to at home (365.7 ypg, 24.0 ppg), especially in the yardage department. Going against Denver’s prolific offense on its home turf, the Chargers’ offense is going to need to be able to trade punches with the Broncos if they want to have any chance of winning tonight.

Staying Healthy
Wes Welker suffered a concussion in last week’s win against Tennessee. For Welker it was his second concussion over the past four games, and he has already been ruled out from playing tonight. Denver has already clinched a playoff spot, but has its sights set on the top seed in the AFC and home-field advantage throughout. The Broncos must continue to win games to achieve these goals, but John Fox and his coaching staff must weigh that against making sure his team is as healthy as possible for the postseason. Welker’s situation underscores the importance of this, although the Broncos don’t lack for offensive weapons. However, Welker wasn’t the only Bronco to get banged up last week either, as fellow wide receivers Eric Decker and Demaryius Thomas took some hard hits of their own that caused them to either miss some snaps or get up slowly following a tackle. Don’t forget that tight end Julius Thomas returned last week after missing the previous two games because of an ankle injury, while running back Knowshon Moreno left the Week 12 loss to New England on crutches after suffering a bone bruise to his right ankle. With the bumps and bruises adding up, it’s even more important for reserves like running back Montee Ball, wide receiver Andre Caldwell and tight end Jacob Tamme to step up and get the job done when called upon, as it takes some of load off of the starters who have already logged a ton of snaps. In the end, the ultimate goal isn’t home-field advantage; it’s playing in New York City in February in the Super Bowl. To that end, Denver should be a tough out in January, especially if Peyton Manning has all of his weapons at his disposal.

San Diego Key Players: Antonio Gates and LaDarius Green, TEs
Gates (right) has been one of Philip Rivers’ favorite targets during their time together as teammates and the three-time All-Pro has bounced back nicely from a disappointing 2012 campaign. Gates leads the team in both targets (105) and receptions (68) and is second to rookie wide receiver Keenan Allen in yards (776). Green meanwhile has emerged somewhat in his second season. He has just 16 receptions, but two of those have gone for touchdowns and he’s been more involved in the offense recently. Prior to last week, Green had recorded nine catches for 206 yards (22.9 ypr) in the previous three games combined. Some of this was due to the Chargers utilizing more two-tight end sets and finding ways to get the athletic Green in space after the catch. Whatever San Diego’s offensive game plan is tonight, the Chargers know they have to find a way to produce points. Sticking with the two-TE look may be a good place to start, as the Broncos have struggled against them this season. Denver has given up the second-most receiving yards (953) to tight ends, along with five touchdown catches. In the first meeting with the Broncos, Gates led the Chargers with four catches for 62 yards while Green had one grab for 25 yards. Right after this game was when Green got more involved in the offense, so it’s possible he and Gates could both be factors tonight.

Denver Key Players: Offensive Line
Although Wes Welker is getting over his second concussion in a span of four games and several other of the Broncos’ weapons are dealing with various bumps and bruises, the key to Denver’s offense is keeping Peyton Manning upright and healthy. And while Manning is a master of getting rid of the ball quickly, his offensive line deserves a fair amount of credit too. Despite missing All-Pro tackle Ryan Clady for most of the season and dealing with other injuries that have some guys playing out of position, the Broncos’ line has given up just 15 sacks this season, tied for the fewest (with Detroit) in the NFL. Manning has gone down just twice over the last four games, and both of those came in the overtime loss in New England. San Diego got to Manning twice in its first meeting with Denver, but No. 18 still threw for 330 yards and four touchdowns in the 28-20 win. If there is room for any improvement for the offensive line this time around against the Chargers it is in run blocking. The Broncos were outgained by the Chargers on the ground 131 to 84, as Knowshon Moreno and Montee Ball combined to average 4.3 yards per carry on 20 attempts. After all, another way to keep pressure off of Manning is to run the ball effectively, as that helps set up the play-action pass and gives him even more options to attack a defense with.

Final Analysis

San Diego needs to win to keep its slim playoff hopes alive. Denver is already in the postseason, but wants to keep winning to ensure that the road to the Super Bowl goes through Sports Authority Field at Mile High. The Chargers held their own against the Broncos in their first meeting, “limiting” the NFL’s most productive offense to 397 yards and just 28 points.

However, Denver still won that game 28-20, as the Broncos’ defense held Philip Rivers and the Chargers’ offense in check for the most part. The Broncos have been basically unstoppable at home and while I expect San Diego to have some success, the Chargers just don’t have enough firepower to keep up with Denver for four quarters.

Denver 38, San Diego 27

Teaser:
San Diego Chargers vs. Denver Broncos Preview and Prediction
Post date: Thursday, December 12, 2013 - 10:00
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy football rankings, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2013-kicker-rankings-week-15
Body:

To the victor goes the spoils, which is why Matt Prater leads off Athlon Sports' fantasy football Week 15 kicker rankings. Stephen Gostkowski may lead in fantasy points, but no kicker had a bigger game last week than Prater. Of course the highlight was setting a new NFL record with a ridiculous 64-yard boot, and that was just one of three field goals he made in the win over Tennessee. Those along with the six PATs resulted in 17 glorious fantasy points (Athlon scoring) for Prater's owners. It may have been even more in those leagues that increase the points based on kick distance. After all, they don't get any longer than 64 yards.

For the season, Prater is tied with Gostkowski for most field goals made from 50 yards and out with five. Prater's 65 PATs are 25 more than the next guy on the list and he should be good for at least a few more on Thursday night against San Diego. Who knows, maybe the Chargers' Nick Novak can take advantage of the thin air in the Mile High City and boot a long one of his own. If you are looking for another record, however, don't get your hopes up. Novak's career best is 53 yards and that came in 2011.

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 15 Fantasy Football Rankings — Kickers

RkPlayerTeamOPPONENT
1Matt PraterDENvs. SD (Thurs.)
2Steven HauschkaSEAat NYG
3Stephen GostkowskiNEat MIA
4Justin TuckerBALat DET (Mon.)
5Phil DawsonSFat TB
6Adam VinatieriINDvs. HOU
7Mason CrosbyGBat DAL
8Blair WalshMINvs. PHI
9Nick NovakSDvs. DEN (Thurs.)
10Dan BaileyDALvs. GB
11Robbie GouldCHIat CLE
12Graham GanoCARvs. NYJ
13Caleb SturgisMIAvs. NE
14Nick FolkNYJat CAR
15Ryan SuccopKCat OAK
16Shaun SuishamPITvs. CIN

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 15 Positional Rankings

Quarterbacks
Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends
Defense/Special Teams

Teaser:
Fantasy Football 2013 Kicker Rankings: Week 15
Post date: Thursday, December 12, 2013 - 06:30
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy football rankings, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2013-positional-rankings-week-15
Body:

Fantasy playoffs are in full effect as we enter Week 15 of the NFL regular season. From here out, it’s pretty much win or go home and now is the time when owners are hoping that their top players will come through in a major way.

Last week saw some of the usual suspects answer the call, as Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, Andrew Luck, LeSean McCoy, Jamaal Charles, Matt Forté, Josh Gordon, Andre Johnson, Antonio Brown, Jordan Cameron, Jimmy Graham and the Kansas City DST were among the leading scorers at their respective positions. However, there also were plenty of surprises, including Josh McCown leading all scorers following his monster Monday night performance (348 yards passing, 5 total touchdowns) against Dallas.

As impressive as McCown was against the Cowboys and as well as he has played (14 total TDs, 2 turnovers), it’s possible that he may not even get the start on Sunday in Cleveland. Jay Cutler appears to be getting closer to returning from his ankle injury, and Chicago head coach Marc Trestman has already said that he will be the starter once he’s cleared to play. So those who have been riding McCown lately may have the rug pulled out from under them this week.

And that’s not the only impact player who could be missing in Week 15. Adrian Peterson could be sidelined because of a sprained foot, Wes Welker is out because of a concussion, Rob Gronkowski is done after tearing his ACL and MCL last week, and Robert Griffin III has been benched for the rest of the season and replaced by Kirk Cousins.

By this point, however, injuries and depth chart shuffling shouldn’t surprise anyone, not with how this season has played out. Now it’s just a matter of getting the most out of the healthy bodies you have left on your roster and hoping you can put together the right lineup to be the last team standing when all is said and done.

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 15 Fantasy Football Positional Rankings

Quarterbacks
Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends
Defense/Special Teams

Kickers

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 15
Post date: Thursday, December 12, 2013 - 06:30
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy football rankings, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2013-quarterback-rankings-week-15
Body:

Peyton Manning and Drew Brees lead Athlon Sports' fantasy football Week 15 quarterback rankings, but it's some other names near the top that have opened the most eyes this season.

Josh McCown led all fantasy scorers with 47.52 fantasy points (Athlon scoring) last week after throwing for 348 yards and four touchdowns in the Monday night win over Dallas. McCown also added a rushing score for good measure and has been quite productive in relief of an injured Jay Cutler. In five starts, McCown is averaging 27.32 points per outing as he has thrown 13 total touchdown passes and just one interception on the season. McCown is a clear-cut, top-10 option this week against Cleveland, provided he starts. Cutler is getting closer to returning from his ankle injury, and head coach Marc Trestman has already said that McCown would cede the starting gig back to Cutler when he's cleared to play. Will that happen this week? For now, we are inclined to believe the Bears will stick with McCown.

As remarkable as McCown's run has been, Nick Foles has been putting up impressive numbers for a longer stretch of games. Taking advantage of Michael Vick's injury-prone nature, Foles has emerged as one of fantasy's most productive quarterbacks. On the season, Foles has accounted for 23 total touchdowns (20 pass, 3 rush) and has turned the ball over twice (INT, fumble). He's a borderline top-15 fantasy quarterback, which is impressive considering he's played in just 10 games. As a starter, Foles is averaging 25.76 fantasy points. The only two quarterbacks averaging more per start are Manning and Brees. Foles is assured of getting the start on Sunday and he in checks in at No. 4 on Athlon's rankings because of his matchup against a Minnesota defense that has given up the second-most fantasy points to quarterbacks. This Eagle could help many owners win a fantasy championship in 2013.

One quarterback who won't be leading anyone to a fantasy title is Robert Griffin III. RG3's disappointing sophomore season will end with him on the bench, as Washington head coach Mike Shanahan has decided to sit RG3 for Kirk Cousins. Whether it's driven by a desire to protect RG3 or the latest indicator that the Redskins are one dysfunctional mess of an organization right now, the end result is the same — RG3 was one of the season's biggest disappointments.

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 15 Fantasy Football Rankings — Quarterbacks

RkPlayerTeamOPP
1Peyton ManningDENvs. SD (Thurs.)
2Drew BreesNOat STL
3Cam NewtonCARvs. NYJ
4Nick FolesPHIat MIN
5Matthew StaffordDETvs. BAL (Mon.)
6Russell WilsonSEAat NYG
7Josh McCownCHIat CLE
8Tony RomoDALvs. GB
9Andrew LuckINDvs. HOU
10Tom BradyNEat MIA
11Philip RiversSDat DEN (Thurs.)
12Ben RoethlisbergerPITvs. CIN
13Alex SmithKCat OAK
14Matt RyanATLvs. WAS
15Colin KaepernickSFat TB
16Ryan TannehillMIAvs. NE
17Joe FlaccoBALat DET (Mon.)
18Andy DaltonCINat PIT
19Kirk CousinsWASat ATL
20Jason CampbellCLEvs. CHI
21Carson PalmerARIat TEN
22Ryan FitzpatrickTENvs. ARI
23Case KeenumHOUat IND
24Matt CasselMINvs. PHI
25Matt FlynnGBat DAL

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 15 Positional Rankings

Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends
Defense/Special Teams

Kickers

Teaser:
Fantasy Football 2013 Quarterback Rankings: Week 15
Post date: Thursday, December 12, 2013 - 06:30
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy football rankings, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2013-running-back-rankings-week-15
Body:

While many of the familiar names can be found near the top of Athlon Sports' fantasy football Week 15 running back rankings, it's the one that's missing that could have the biggest impact this week and moving forward.

Adrian Peterson left last week's game in Baltimore on a cart, as his owners no doubt feared the worst. The good news is that it appears the reigning MVP escaped serious injury, but he is still expected to miss at least one game because of a sprained foot. Toby Gerhart would get the start in Peterson's absence and those who were smart enough to handcuff Peterson with Gerhart or have him on their roster shouldn't hesitate to throw him out there against Philadelphia and see what happens.

Speaking of Philadelphia, LeSean McCoy had a field day out in the snow against Detroit last week, rushing for a franchise-record 217 yards. McCoy took over the NFL rushing lead from Peterson with that big performance and could be in for another one against a Minnesota defense that is giving up the fifth-most fantasy points to running backs. This game will be indoors, however, so it's possible that McCoy may not be quite as busy (29 carries) this week compared to last.

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 15 Fantasy Football Rankings — Running Back
 

RkPlayerTeamOPP
1Jamaal CharlesKCat OAK
2LeSean McCoyPHIat MIN
3Matt ForteCHIat CLE
4Marshawn LynchSEAat NYG
5Knowshon MorenoDENvs. SD (Thurs.)
6Eddie LacyGBat DAL
7DeMarco MurrayDALvs. GB
8Reggie BushDETvs. BAL (Mon.)
9Alfred MorrisWASat ATL
10Ben TateHOUat IND
11Zac StacySTLvs. NO
12Shane VereenNEat MIA
13Andre BrownNYGvs. SEA
14Toby GerhartMINvs. PHI
15Le'Veon BellPITvs. CIN
16Frank GoreSFat TB
17Steven JacksonATLvs. WAS
18Giovani BernardCINat PIT
19Ryan MathewsSDat DEN (Thurs.)
20Fred JacksonBUFat JAC
21C.J. SpillerBUFvs. KC
22Chris JohnsonTENvs. ARI
23Maurice Jones-DrewJACvs. BUF
24Rashad JenningsOAKvs. KC
25Danny WoodheadSDat DEN (Thurs.)
26Ray RiceBALat DET (Mon.)
27Bobby RaineyTBvs. SF
28Rashard MendenhallARIat TEN
29Chris IvoryNYJat CAR
30Pierre ThomasNOat STL
31Montee BallDENvs. SD (Thurs.)
32BenJarvus Green-EllisCINat PIT
33Darren SprolesNOat STL
34Lamar MillerMIAvs. NE
35Donald BrownINDvs. HOU
36Andre EllingtonARIat TEN
37DeAngelo WilliamsCARvs. NYJ
38Joique BellDETvs. BAL (Mon.)
39Chris OgbonnayaCLEvs. CHI
40Daniel ThomasMIAvs. NE

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 15 Positional Rankings

Quarterbacks
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends
Defense/Special Teams

Kickers

Teaser:
Fantasy Football 2013 Running Back Rankings: Week 15
Post date: Thursday, December 12, 2013 - 06:30
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy football rankings, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2013-wide-receiver-rankings-week-15
Body:

Calvin Johnson remains atop Athlon Sports' fantasy football Week 15 wide receiver rankings, but he's no longer running away from the pack.

Josh Gordon maintained his hot streak last week, adding seven catches for 151 yards and a touchdown to his impressive season totals. Johnson meanwhile was held in check not by Philadelphia's defense as much as the elements, as blizzard-like conditions for much of the game severely impacted both teams' ability to pass the ball. As a result, Gordon now finds himself leading the NFL in receiving yards and is within striking distance of Johnson in fantasy points. This week Gordon will look to add Chicago's secondary to his list of victims while Megatron will no doubt be happy to be back home (and indoors) against Baltimore playing in the Monday night spotlight.

In fact, the Bears vs. Browns matchup will feature three of the most productive wide receivers in the NFL in Gordon, along with Chicago's Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery. The Bears' rangy and athletic duo has combined for 159 catches, 2,283 yards and 11 touchdowns. All three wideouts are top-10 options this week that should pay off big for their owners, provided the weather cooperates.

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 15 Fantasy Football Rankings — Wide Receivers
 

RkPlayerTeamOPP
1Calvin JohnsonDETvs. BAL (Mon.)
2Josh GordonCLEvs. CHI
3Demaryius ThomasDENvs. SD (Thurs.)
4Andre JohnsonHOUat IND
5A.J. GreenCINat PIT
6Alshon JefferyCHIat CLE
7Brandon MarshallCHIat CLE
8Dez BryantDALvs. GB
9DeSean JacksonPHIat MIN
10Eric DeckerDENvs. SD (Thurs.)
11Antonio BrownPITvs. CIN
12Keenan AllenSDat DEN (Thurs.)
13Vincent JacksonTBvs. SF
14Torrey SmithBALat DET (Mon.)
15Larry FitzgeraldARIat TEN
16Pierre GarconWASat ATL
17Roddy WhiteATLvs. WAS
18Jordy NelsonGBat DAL
19Riley CooperPHIat MIN
20Marques ColstonNOat STL
21Cecil ShortsJACvs. BUF
22Julian EdelmanNEat MIA
23Anquan BoldinSFat TB
24Steve SmithCARvs. NYJ
25Victor CruzNYGvs. SEA
26Dwayne BoweKCat OAK
27Harry DouglasATLvs. WAS
28T.Y. HiltonINDvs. HOU
29Mike WallaceMIAvs. NE
30Michael FloydARIat TEN
31Stevie JohnsonBUFat JAC
32Rod StreaterOAKvs. KC
33Kendall WrightTENvs. ARI
34Golden TateSEAat NYG
35Danny AmendolaNEat MIA
36Brian HartlineMIAvs. NE
37Michael CrabtreeSFat TB
38Greg JenningsMINvs. PHI
39James JonesGBat DAL
40Cordarrelle PattersonMINvs. PHI
41Emmanuel SandersPITvs. CIN
42Jarrett BoykinGBat DAL
43Hakeem NicksNYGvs. SEA
44Brandon LaFellCARvs. NYJ
45Doug BaldwinSEAat NYG
46Marlon BrownBALat DET (Mon.)
47Tavon AustinSTLvs. NO
48Andre HolmesOAKvs. KC
49Robert WoodsBUFat JAC
50Da'Rick RogersINDvs. HOU

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 15 Positional Rankings

Quarterbacks
Running Backs
Tight Ends
Defense/Special Teams

Kickers

Teaser:
Fantasy Football 2013 Wide Receiver Rankings: Week 15
Post date: Thursday, December 12, 2013 - 06:30
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy football rankings, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2013-tight-end-rankings-week-15
Body:

The injury bug has struck again, causing some changes to Athlon Sports' fantasy football Week 15 tight end rankings. The biggest being the removal of Rob Gronkowski, who tore his ACL and MCL last week. It's somewhat fitting that Gronk's season ends with yet another serious injury, as he missed the first half of the season recovering from back surgery.

Gronk was productive for his owners when he was in there, but the injuries have already taken a toll on his playing time and it's only a matter of time before that carries over to his draft value. Especially considering he's staring at another lengthy recovery and rehabilitation process, perhaps as long as a year, directly in the face.

While Gronkowski may be done for the season, another injured tight end who had a triumphant return was Dennis Pitta. One of Joe Flacco's favorite targets, Pitta dislocated his hip in training camp and at one time was feared lost for the entire season. He made his way back, however, and any one who doubted his importance to Baltimore's passing attack need look no further than the six passes for 48 yards and touchdown catch he produced against Minnesota last week in his first action of the season. It's a bit of a risk, but Pitta could be the answer to someone in need of a Gronkowski replacement or looking for more production from their tight end. Last season, Pitta and Flacco hooked up 61 times for 669 yards and seven touchdowns.

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 15 Fantasy Football Rankings — Tight Ends

RkPlayerTeamOPP
1Jimmy GrahamNOat STL
2Julius ThomasDENvs. SD (Thurs.)
3Vernon DavisSFat TB
4Greg OlsenCARvs. NYJ
5Tony GonzalezATLvs. WAS
6Jordan CameronCLEvs. CHI
7Jason WittenDALvs. GB
8Charles ClayMIAvs. NE
9Antonio GatesSDat DEN (Thurs.)
10Delanie WalkerTENvs. ARI
11Dennis PittaBALat DET (Mon.)
12Coby FleenerINDvs. HOU
13Garrett GrahamHOUat IND
14Martellus BennettCHIat CLE
15Jacob TammeDENvs. SD (Thurs.)
16Jordan ReedWASat ATL
17Heath MillerPITvs. CIN
18Jared CookSTLvs. NO
19Ladarius GreenSDat DEN (Thurs.)
20Rob HouslerARIat TEN

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 15 Positional Rankings

Quarterbacks
Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Defense/Special Teams

Kickers

Teaser:
Fantasy Football 2013 Tight End Rankings: Week 15
Post date: Thursday, December 12, 2013 - 06:30
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy football rankings, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2013-defspecial-teams-rankings-week-15
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Seattle's on the road this week, but not even a cross-country trip to face the Giants is enough to keep them from the top spot in Athlon Sports' fantasy football Week 15 defense/special teams rankings. The Seahawks lost last week to the 49ers on the road, but the defense should find things a little easier against a Giants team that has yielded the most fantasy points to DSTs.

Carolina on the other hand will gladly welcome a Jets offense led by rookie quarterback Geno Smith after getting carved up last week on the road by Drew Brees and the Saints. Brees threw for 313 yards and four touchdowns against the Panthers, which along with the 31 points the Saints scored were the most Carolina has given up in a game all season. Enter Smith, who hasn't thrown for 300 yards in a game since Week 3 and has posted a 2:12 touchdown-to-interception ratio over his last eight games. Carolina's defense can hardly wait to sink its claws into the rookie signal-caller.

Then there is Kansas City's DST, which holds a fairly substantial lead over the aforementioned Panthers for top scoring honors in fantasy. Last week against Washington, the Chiefs had a sack party, piling up six of them. That marked the fourth game for this defense with at least five sacks. Besides the sacks and two turnovers, the Chiefs also returned two kicks for touchdowns, putting the finishing touches on their sixth game with a least 21 fantasy points this season. Next up is an Oakland offense that has surrendered 41 sacks (tied for the fourth most) total and turned the ball over at least twice in six of its last eight games.

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 15 Fantasy Football Rankings — Defense/Special Teams

RkTeamOPP
1Seattle Seahawksat NYG
2Carolina Panthersvs. NYJ
3San Francisco 49ersat TB
4Kansas City Chiefsat OAK
5Arizona Cardinalsat TEN
6Cincinnati Bengalsat PIT
7New Orleans Saintsat STL
8Buffalo Billsat JAC
9Philadelphia Eaglesat MIN
10Tampa Bay Buccaneersvs. SF
11New England Patriotsat MIA
12St. Louis Ramsvs. NO
13Pittsburgh Steelersvs. CIN
14Baltimore Ravensat DET (Mon.)
15Miami Dolphinsvs. NE
16Detroit Lionsvs. BAL (Mon.)

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 15 Positional Rankings

Quarterbacks
Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends

Kickers

Teaser:
Fantasy Football 2013 Defense/Special Teams Rankings: Week 15
Post date: Thursday, December 12, 2013 - 06:30
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Playoff hopes could be on the line tonight when the Dallas Cowboys take on the Chicago Bears at 8:30 p.m. ET on ESPN’s “Monday Night Football.” Jason Garrett and the Cowboys (7-5) are looking for a third straight victory, which would tie them with the Eagles for best record in the NFC East, while Marc Trestman and the Bears (6-6) are trying to snap a two-game losing streak and draw even with the Lions in the North.

Winning their division needs to be the focus of these two teams, as the Wild Card spots are currently held by Carolina and San Francisco, both of which are 9-4. The Cowboys have a better divisional record (4-0) than the Eagles (3-2), so they would assume first place with a win. The Bears are basically in must-win mode for the rest of the season, as the Lions have a better divisional mark (4-1 vs. 3-2) and have already defeated the Bears twice.

3 Things to Watch

Dallas’ December Woes
Since Tony Romo became the starting quarterback in 2006, the Cowboys are 13-17 in December. Romo, who missed 10 games in 2010, is 11-15 in the final month of the regular season. In each of the past two seasons, the Cowboys have had a chance to secure a playoff spot with a victory in their final game, and have come up short both times. To be fair, both of these games were on the road, and one of them was actually played on Jan. 1 and not in December, but the Cowboys’ inability to finish strong has been well documented and something everyone on the team is painfully aware of. In 2011, Dallas entered December 7-4 before losing four of its final five games, including the finale against the Giants on New Year’s Day, to finish 8-8. Last season, the Cowboys actually played well to start their final month, winning their first three games to put their record at 8-6. But an overtime home loss to New Orleans followed by a loss at Washington gave the Redskins the NFC East title and left Dallas at 8-8 and out of the playoffs once again. Whatever the reason behind Dallas’ late-season struggles, Jason Garrett needs to figure out a way to help get his team over the hump in December. Once again, the division title and the playoffs are within reach and Garrett knows better than anyone else what’s likely to happen if the Cowboys miss the playoffs for a fourth straight season.

Can the Cowboys Stop the Pass?
Dallas entered Week 14 ranked second to last in the NFL in passing defense. The Cowboys are giving up 294.9 yards per game through the air and have yielded 22 touchdown passes. Opposing quarterbacks are completing 64.3 percent of their passes and the Cowboys have already set an NFL record by allowing four different quarterbacks (Eli Manning, Philip Rivers, Peyton Manning, Matthew Stafford) to throw for at least 400 yards. Drew Brees (392 yards) almost made it a fifth in Week 10, but the Saints did put up 49 points, 625 yards of total offense and an NFL-record 40 first downs in their victory over the Cowboys. As productive a season as Tony Romo (3140-24-7) is having, it’s too much to ask him to constantly bring the Cowboys from behind and to bail the defense out. Even though Chicago starting quarterback Jay Cutler is going to miss his fourth straight game because of an ankle injury, the Cowboys’ defense could have its hands full with backup Josh McCown. In six games this season, four of them starts, McCown has thrown for 1,461 yards, nine touchdowns and just one interception. He has posted back-to-back 350-yard efforts and has plenty of weapons to work with. Wide receivers Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery have become one of the league’s most productive duos, combining for 148 receptions, 2,099 yards and 14 touchdowns. Tight end Martellus Bennett has 48 catches and five touchdowns, while running back Matt Forté (58 rec.) is one of the more dangerous receiving threats out of the backfield. The Cowboys’ defense will get a huge boost with the return of linebacker Sean Lee. He injured his hamstring in the Week 10 loss to the Saints and hasn’t played since. Lee leads the team with four interceptions and is second on the team in tackles. Still Lee’s return is not necessarily a cure-all for the Cowboys’ pass defense, which will surely be tested tonight by McCown and the Bears.

Can the Bears Stop the Run?
As much as Dallas has struggled to stop the pass, Chicago has had even more issues against the run recently. Over their last six games, the Bears are allowing an average of 205.2 yards rushing per game and 5.9 yards per carry. Adrian Peterson gashed them for 211 in Minnesota’s overtime win last week, while Eddie Lacy (150), Ray Rice (131), Benny Cunningham (109) and Reggie Bush (105) all have gone over 100 yards during this six-game span. Not surprisingly, the Bears are dead last in the NFL in rushing defense at 153.6 yards per contest and for once, the Cowboys may be in ideal position to take advantage of this. Dallas has gone over 100 yards rushing in each of its last two games for the first time all season. Last week, the Cowboys had 144 on the ground in their Thanksgiving Day win over the Raiders with Lance Dunbar (12 att., 82 yds.) leading the way. Dunbar suffered a season-ending knee injury late in that game, but the team still has leading rusher DeMarco Murray. Despite missing two games because of a sprained knee, Murray leads the Cowboys with 697 yards and seven rushing touchdowns. Three of those scores came last week and for the season, Murray is averaging 4.9 yards per carry. Murray is at his best when he gets plenty of carries, as he’s averaging 94.8 yards per game in the six where he has gotten at least 14 attempts. The Bears are giving up an NFL-worst five yards per carry, so look for Murray to get the ball early and often tonight. Dallas’ rushing defense isn’t exactly rock solid, allowing 126.7 yards per game, so there could be a lot of ground gained between the two teams. However, Chicago hasn’t been able to stop anyone from running the ball lately, and look for the Cowboys to extend the Bears’ misery in this department tonight.

Dallas Key Player: Tony Romo, QB
Even though the Cowboys will try and exploit the NFL’s worst rushing defense (see above), the buck on offense begins and ends with Romo. The highest paid and most visible player on America’s Team will continue to be criticized, no matter how well he plays, as long as the Cowboys continue to miss the playoffs. Romo entered Week 14 among the top 10 quarterbacks in the league in both passing yards (3,140) and touchdowns (24) and has thrown only seven interceptions, yet all he’s hearing about is how poorly he has played in December. While his record as the starter (11-15) in the final month of the regular season certainly leaves something to be desired, Romo should get a lot of credit for the fact that the Cowboys are in the thick of the NFC East race despite having the league’s worst defense. That said, Romo himself has acknowledged he needs to have a strong finish and there is no better place to start than tonight. Besides putting the Cowboys in first place in the NFC East, a win tonight would help Romo atone for one of the worst games of his career. In Week 4 of last season at home against Chicago, Romo threw five interceptions, two of which were returned by the Bears for touchdowns, in a 34-18 loss. That game also was on “Monday Night Football.” Romo has a chance to exact some revenge tonight, which would taste extra sweet considering this game is in December and a victory also would put the Cowboys one step closer to playing in January.

Chicago Key Players: James Anderson, Jonathan Bostic and Khaseem Greene, LBs
Dallas’ defense is set to get a big boost in the return of their best linebacker, Sean Lee, from a hamstring injury tonight. Meanwhile, Chicago will be without their top backer, Lance Briggs, for a sixth straight game. Briggs suffered a shoulder injury back on Oct. 20 and hasn’t played since. To make matters worse, D.J. Williams is on injured reserve, which is why the Bears have been forced to start two rookies (Bostic and Green) alongside the veteran Anderson. Bostic and Greene are former college stars at Florida and Rutgers, respectively, and believed to be the future foundation of the linebacking corps. As can be expected, however, they have endured their share of growing pains this season. Anderson is an eight-year veteran, but this is his first season with the Bears. So couple all of this inexperience with the rash of injuries Chicago’s defense has suffered to its defensive line, along with the absence of All-Pro cornerback Charles Tillman (IR, triceps), and it’s little surprise the Bears are last in the NFL in rushing defense and are giving up nearly 28 points per game. The heart and soul of last year’s Monsters of the Midway were linebackers Briggs, Brian Urlacher and Nick Roach. Briggs is injured, Urlacher is retired and Roach is in Oakland, so it now falls to the current trio to help turn around a defense that hasn’t been able to stop anyone from running the ball if the Bears wish to keep their slim playoff hopes alive.

Final Analysis

Considering this game is in December in Chicago and knowing Tony Romo and the Cowboys’ history of late-season swoons, you would think this would be easy picking for the Bears. Especially with the NFL’s worst defense coming to town against a quarterback that has thrown just one interception all season and is coming off of back-to-back 350-yard games.

However, this is not your typical Monsters of the Midway defense, as the Bears have been getting run over by everyone for more than a month. And even though the Cowboys are known more as a passing team with Romo under center, I would like to think Jason Garrett and his coaching staff are smart enough to attack what is an apparent weakness.

The pressure is always on when it comes to Jerry Jones’ team, but I Jason Garrett’s squad takes care of business on the road. The Bears are a team in a bit of transition with head Marc Trestman in his first season, Jay Cutler in the final year of his contract and on the sidelines because of an ankle injury, and a youth movement in place on defense because of several key injuries.

DeMarco Murray continues to torment the Bears’ rushing defense, with Romo applying the finishing touch and giving the Cowboys defense just enough of a cushion to escape Soldier Field with a much-needed December win and, more importantly, possession of first place in the NFC East.

Dallas 30, Chicago 27

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Dallas Cowboys vs. Chicago Bears Preview and Prediction
Post date: Monday, December 9, 2013 - 10:00
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AFC division leaders are set to face off when the Indianapolis Colts take on the Cincinnati Bengals at 1 p.m. ET on CBS. Andrew Luck and the Colts (8-4) currently hold a commanding three-game lead over the Titans in the AFC South, while Andy Dalton and the Bengals (8-4) are two games ahead of the defending Super Bowl champion Ravens for first place in the AFC North.

Even though the teams are tied at 8-4, Indianapolis currently is the third seed in the AFC playoffs due to a better winning percentage in conference games (6-2, .750) compared to Cincinnati (6-3, .666).

3 Things to Watch

Indianapolis’ First Half Struggles
Indianapolis has gone 3-2 since its Week 8 bye and one of the biggest reasons why has been the Colts’ slow starts. In their last five games, the Colts have managed a total of three field goals in the first quarter while their opponents have scored six touchdowns. That 42-9 scoring margin in the first quarter balloons to 100-24 by halftime. Prior to last week’s slim 12-7 lead at the half, Indianapolis had trailed by at least 11 points after the first 30 minutes of play in its previous four games. The Colts haven’t scored a touchdown in the first half since their Week 7 victory over Denver at home back on Oct. 20. Chuck Pagano’s team should get plenty of credit for going 3-2 during this span, despite trailing at halftime by an average of 15.2 points per game, but that’s only due to a remarkable comeback against lowly Houston in Week 9 and two wins against a Tennessee team that’s starting its backup quarterback. On the other hand, the losses to St. Louis at home and on the road against Arizona have not been pretty. The Colts were outscored 55-3 in the first half and 78-19 overall by the Rams and Cardinals. Indianapolis can ill afford another slow start this afternoon, especially on the road against a Cincinnati team that is a perfect 5-0 at Paul Brown Stadium this season.

Protecting the Quarterback
Both Indianapolis and Cincinnati rank near the bottom of the NFL in sacks allowed this season. However, both teams have had issues keeping their quarterback upright recently. The Colts currently are tied for 23rd in the league with 29 sacks allowed. Andrew Luck’s pocket presence and dual-threat capabilities certainly make his offensive line’s job easier, but this unit has struggled since the bye in Week 8. In the past five games, Luck has gone down 14 times or roughly half of his season total (29). To make matters worse, Cincinnati is ninth in the league in sacks with 36, with the defense producing  three or more sacks in four of its past five outings. The Bengals have fared even better than the Colts in keeping their quarterback’s jersey clean. Andy Dalton has been sacked 26 times, which places the team 27th in the league in sacks allowed. Ten of these came in Weeks 9 and 10 when the Bengals lost to the Dolphins and Ravens in back-to-back games. In fact, Miami beat Cincinnati thanks to a sack, a rare walk-off safety courtesy of the Dolphins’ Cameron Wake. The losses to the Dolphins and Ravens are the only two the Bengals have suffered over their last eight games. On the whole, the Colts’ and Bengals’ offensive lines have done a solid job of protecting their quarterbacks. Luck and Dalton both hope this trend, and not the recent hiccups in this area, continues this afternoon.

Which Offense Gets a Passing Grade?
While neither Indianapolis nor Cincinnati will ever be mistaken for Denver, New Orleans or Detroit when it comes to passing offenses, both the Colts and Bengals have really struggled in this area recently. Since the Week 8 bye, Andrew Luck has averaged 243.8 yards passing per game. His 353-yard effort in Week 10 greatly inflates this average, and that was a game in which the Colts were forced to pass because the Rams were up 28-0 at halftime. This span of five games also coincides with the number of games leading receiver Reggie Wayne has missed. The veteran tore his ACL in the Week 7 win over Denver and without him, Luck hasn’t been as near productive when he drops back to pass. The second-year signal-caller has completed just 55.2 percent of his passes and has as many touchdowns as interceptions (five apiece) in five games without Wayne. T.Y. Hilton has stepped into Wayne’s role as the No. 1 receiver, but other than a 121-yard, three-touchdown performance against Houston, Hilton has totaled 258 yards receiving and no scores since the bye. Part of the problem has been no one has emerged behind Hilton as a reliable secondary option for Luck. Pass protection (14 sacks in the last five games), also has been an issue, but the bottom line is that Luck and the Colts must figure out a way to “fix” a passing attack that has netted a total of 319 yards in the last two games combined. On the other side is Andy Dalton, who went through a three-game stretch in October during which he averaged 344.7 yards passing per game with a total of 11 touchdowns and just two interceptions. Since then, however, he has averaged less than 225 yards passing and has posted a 9:6 interception-to-touchdown ratio over his past four outings. Unlike Luck, Dalton has the luxury of a premier wide receiver at his disposal in A.J. Green. The All-Pro is tied for sixth in the NFL with 1,103 yards receiving and has hauled in seven touchdowns. Green has totaled just 90 yards in his last two games, but that was preceded by a three-game stretch in which he averaged 131.3, so he’s capable of breaking out at any moment. The Colts (238.7 ypg) have been a little more generous than the Bengals (213.8 ypg) in terms of pass defense this season, but it remains to be seen if either struggling aerial attack will be able to make much of an impact this afternoon.

Indianapolis Key Player: Coby Fleener, TE
The Colts’ offense hasn’t been the same since Reggie Wayne tore his ACL in the Week 7 win against Denver. T.Y. Hilton has replaced Wayne as Andrew Luck’s No. 1 target, but the second-year wide receiver can’t do it alone. The coaching staff was hoping that Darrius Heyward-Bey would step up in Wayne’s absence, but that has not materialized and the free agent acquisition is basically an afterthought in the Colts’ offensive game plans at this point. That’s where Fleener comes in. With a relationship that goes back to their days at Stanford, Luck obviously trusts Fleeer, as he’s averaged nearly eight targets per game in the five games the Colts have been without Wayne. Fleener has turned all of these looks into 22 catches for 309 yards and one touchdown. While productive, the Colts need even more out of Fleener, especially if no other wide receiver emerges behind Hilton.

Cincinnati Key Player: Giovani Bernard, RB
BenJarvus Green-Ellis is getting the most carries and may lead the Bengals in rushing (614 yards), but Bernard is the difference-maker out of the backfield. The first running back drafted in April (second round, 37th overall), the former North Carolina star has had his moments as both a rusher and receiver this season. He’s averaging 4.4 yards per carry, compared to Green-Ellis’ 3.5 and has the same number of rushing touchdowns (four) as the veteran. As a receiver, he’s second to All-Pro wide receiver A.J. Green in receptions on the team with 43 and of Bernard’s 354 yards receiving, 346 of them have come after the catch. Bernard’s speed and explosiveness have already produced several highlight-reel plays, and his role in the offense only figures to grow in the Bengals’ final four games.

Final Analysis

Indianapolis is a win away from clinching the AFC South, but the Colts have been the beneficiary of a lackluster division and have not been the same team since Reggie Wayne tore his ACL back in Week 7. The offense has struggled to find its rhythm and the defense hasn’t been able to figure out how to consistently stop the run.

Cincinnati is in the driver’s seat in the AFC North, thanks to Baltimore and Pittsburgh’s slow starts, but this is not a Bengals team without its own flaws either. Outside of one ridiculous three-game stretch in October, quarterback Andy Dalton has been average at best, while the defense has lost some key personnel, most notably All-Pro defensive tackle Geno Atkins, to injuries.

Since Wayne went down, the Colts have put themselves into big holes early in games, which is something they can ill afford to do on the road against Cincinnati. Quarterback Andrew Luck and his running mates have struggled against good defenses recently, as both Arizona and Tennessee have held the Colts’ offense in check over the past two weeks.

Like the Cardinals and Titans, the Bengals have a pretty good defense of their own and in the end, this will be the difference this afternoon at Paul Brown Stadium. Cincinnati’s pass rush prevents Luck from getting comfortable in the pocket and finding his rhythm, while the Bengals’ offense uses playmakers A.J. Green and Giovani Bernard to attack a susceptible Colts’ secondary. The Bengals maintain serve at home in a game that will impact how the AFC playoffs shake out when all is said and done.

Cincinnati 27, Indianapolis 20

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Indianapolis Colts vs. Cincinnati Bengals Preview and Prediction
Post date: Sunday, December 8, 2013 - 09:00
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One of the NFL’s best rivalries going right now will take center stage this afternoon when the Seattle Seahawks take on the San Francisco 49ers at 4:25 p.m. ET on FOX. Pete Carroll and the Seahawks (11-1) have already clinched a playoff spot and can sew up the NFC West title and a first-round bye with a win. Jim Harbaugh and the 49ers (8-4) currently possess the NFC’s final Wild Card spot, but they would like to improve their postseason chances with a victory at home and snap a two-game losing streak to their division rivals in the process.

3 Things to Watch

Seahawks Flying High
Winners of seven in a row after a dominating, 34-7 victory over New Orleans on Monday night, Seattle appears to come into this one with all of the momentum. The Seahawks haven’t lost since a 34-28 defeat at Indianapolis back on Oct. 6 and have outscored the opposition by nearly 100 points (203-105) during their winning streak. In their last three games alone, the offense has averaged 414 yards and has not turned the ball over once. The No. 1 defense in the NFL, the Seahawks have held their last three opponents – Falcons, Vikings and Saints – to an average of 250 yards per game and have forced six turnovers. New Orleans, one of the top offenses in the league, managed a season-low 188 yards of offense and one lone touchdown against the Seahawks’ defense on Monday night. Seattle also has been successful against San Francisco lately, winning the last two games against the 49ers by a combined score of 71-16. In these contests, the Seahawks outgained the 49ers 348-182 on the ground and won the turnover battle 7-2. Seattle seems to be peaking at just the right time, which means San Francisco has its work cut out for it this afternoon.

Location, Location, Location
As well as Seattle is playing right now, San Francisco does have one thing in its favor – the 49ers are the home team. The Seahawks enjoy one of the greatest home-field advantages in the NFL at CenturyLink Field, which is manifested by the deafening support of their fans, collectively known as the “12th Man.” These fans have been so loud as to register on the Richter scale, and it’s apparent the home team feeds off of this energy, especially the defense. At home, the Seahawks are giving up 261.5 yards per game and just 14 points per game. On the road, those numbers grow to 316.5 and 17. At a league-best 11-1, it’s not like Seattle has played poorly on the road this season. In fact, the Seahawks could set a single-season franchise record with their sixth road win this afternoon. To do that, however, they will have to do something they haven’t done since 2008 – win in San Francisco. The Seahawks have won the last two meetings against the 49ers, but both of those games were in Seattle. San Francisco has won the past four games at Candlestick Park, including last season’s 13-6 victory in Week 7. Last year’s Seahawks team went 3-5 during the regular season on the road, won at Washington in the NFC Wild Card game before losing in Atlanta in the Divisional Round. This year’s Seahawks squad is 5-1 on the road and would be one step closer to securing home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs with a victory this afternoon. San Francisco made it to the Super Bowl last season by beating the Falcons on the road in the NFC title game. Can the Seahawks show the defending NFC Champions that they are a team to be feared, no matter where the game is played?

Putting the “O” in San Francisco
For the season, the 49ers are 28th in the NFL in total offense at 311 yards per game. The rushing attack is seventh at 130.8 yards per contest, but the passing game lags well behind. Only the Jets, who are starting a rookie quarterback in Geno Smith, have thrown for fewer yards this season than the 49ers (180.3 ypg). In San Francisco’s eight wins, the 49ers are averaging 365.5 yards and 32.3 points per game. In their four losses, including a 29-3 defeat to the Seahawks back in Week 2, those numbers plummet to 202 yards and just 9.8 points per game. Quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s play has been inconsistent to say the least this season, and he’s fared even worse against Seattle in his career. In two games against the Seahawks, Kaepernick has accounted for one touchdown pass and five (4 INTs, fumble) total turnovers, as the 49ers have been outscored 71-16 in those contests. Earlier this season, Kaepernick had arguably the worst game of his young career up in Seattle. In the Week 2 loss, Kaepernick completed just 13 of 28 passes for 127 yards with no touchdowns and three interceptions. He did rush for a season-high 87 yards, but he lost a fumble and also was sacked three times, as the 49ers finished with 207 yards of offense. While Kaepernick certainly needs to play better, the San Francisco offense really revolves around running the ball. After starting the season with nine straight performances of at least 90 yards rushing, the 49ers have averaged just 80 yards on the ground over their last three games. If there’s been any weak spot in Seattle’s defense this season, it’s been against the run. The Seahawks are 13th in the league in rushing defense at 107.2 yards per game, but have given up 150 or more to three different teams (Houston, St. Louis and Tampa Bay). Running back Frank Gore has had success in his career against Seattle, posting a 5.3 yards per carry average in 15 games, but he gained just 16 yards rushing against the Seahawks earlier this season and hasn’t gone over 82 yards on the ground since Week 6. Whether it’s Kaepernick or Gore or someone else, San Francisco needs to find some offense this afternoon if the 49ers have any hope of ending Seattle’s seven-game winning streak.

Seattle Key Player: Russell Wilson, QB
The Seahawks have the best record in the NFL at 11-1 and the league’s No. 1 defense. They also have a pretty good quarterback in Wilson, who has gone from an afterthought as a third-round draft pick in 2012 to a legitimate MVP candidate this season. All Wilson did as a rookie was win the starting job in the preseason and then go on to post a 26:10 touchdown-to-interception ratio while completing 64.1 percent of his passes and help lead the Seahawks to the playoffs with an 11-5 record. This season Wilson has been even better. His completion percentage is up (64.9), he’s on pace to post a 29:8 TD:INT ratio and he’s averaging 5.7 yards per carry. With four games left, Wilson has already won 22 games and has 48 touchdown passes in his first two seasons. The only quarterbacks with more touchdown passes in their first two campaigns are Dan Marino (68) and Peyton Manning (52). While Wilson may have a chance of catching Manning, what is first and foremost on his mind is securing the NFC West title and a first-round bye in the playoffs with a win over San Francisco. Wilson is 2-1 against his division rivals, with both victories coming at home. In fact his only game at Candlestick Park, a 13-6 defeat in Week 7 last season, was the worst performance of his young career. In that game, Wilson completed just 9-of-23 passes for 122 yards with no touchdowns and an interception. He has been solid on the road this season (10:2 TD:INT ratio in six games), but has struggled away from home against some of the better passing defenses. A strong performance by Wilson at Candlestick Park this afternoon may not only result in a division title and first-round bye in the playoffs, it could go a long ways towards bolstering his MVP candidacy.

San Francisco Key Player: Michael Crabtree, WR
The 49ers’ leading receiver last season, Crabtree has played in a grand total of one game in 2013. He missed the first 11 after tearing his Achilles tendon in late March. Colin Kaepernick looked Crabtree’s way early and often after he became the starter midway through last season, as the duo become one of the most productive quarterback-wide receiver combinations in the NFL. In the 10 starts Kaepernick made in 2012, including playoffs, Crabtree recorded 61 receptions for 880 yards (14.4 ypr) and eight touchdowns. It’s no stretch to say that Kaepernick has missed his favorite target, as he’s thrown for just 15 touchdowns with seven interceptions this season. In his first game back, Crabtree caught two passes for 68 yards, but the 275 yards passing by Kaepernick were the most since 412 against Green Bay all the back in Week 1. While it’s expected that Crabtree will be rusty as he works his way back, it’s not out of the question for him to have an impact this afternoon. Especially considering Seattle’s vaunted “Legion of Boom” secondary will most likely be without heavy-hitting cornerback Brandon Browner, who is dealing with a groin injury.

Final Analysis

Seattle is on a roll right now. The Seahawks have won seven in a row, have the NFL’s No. 1 defense and a legitimate MVP candidate in quarterback Russell Wilson. While they have been pretty much unbeatable at home under Pete Carroll, this year’s Seahawks team has played very well away from home too, posting a 5-1 record.

San Francisco has a tentative grasp on the final Wild Card berth in the NFL, but the 49ers know they need to keep winning if they want to have a shot at getting back to the Super Bowl. The offense continues to be a mystery, as Colin Kaepernick hasn’t thrown for more than 300 yards in a game since the season opener.

These two teams clearly don’t like each other, so don’t be surprised if things get heated this afternoon at Candlestick Park. The last time they played, back in Week 2, they combined for 22 penalties for 205 yards. In fact, whichever team does a better job of controlling its emotions, if you will, will probably be better positioned to win.

That said, Seattle is peaking at the right time and appears to be a team on a mission. Wilson is playing exceptional football right now, while Kaepernick has yet to find his stride. In the end, the Seahawks make enough plays early on offense and late on defense to earn the season sweep of the 49ers, along with the NFC West division title and a first-round bye in the playoffs.

Seattle 24, San Francisco 20

Teaser:
Seattle Seahawks vs. San Francisco 49ers Preview and Prediction
Post date: Sunday, December 8, 2013 - 09:00
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy Football, injury updates, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /fantasy/injury-updates-week-14-aj-green-vincent-jackson-ty-hilton-denarius-moore
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Weather and injuries are two things that could factor into today’s games. Here is the latest information on some banged-up wide receivers entering Week 14’s 1 p.m. ET kickoffs.

A.J. Green, WR, Cincinnati Bengals vs. Indianapolis Colts
Green was limited earlier this week because of a groin issue, but he practiced fully on Thursday and Friday and is listed as Probable. Green will be out there against the Colts, and while he’s a top-10 fantasy wide receiver, the weather (wintry mix) could be a factor for today’s game. What that means is the passing game may take a back seat to the running game this afternoon and Green may not perform in accordance to his WR1 status.

Vincent Jackson, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Buffalo Bills
Jackson did not practice at all on Wednesday because of a hamstring injury, and only participated in a limited capacity on Thursday and Friday. He is considered Questionable for today’s game (1 p.m. ET) against Buffalo and will most likely be a game-time decision. Greg Schiano has said he’s “cautiously optimistic” about Jackson’s availability, but this is certainly a situation worth watching. Jackson is a WR1-caliber player, but only if he’s on the field.

T.Y. Hilton, WR, Indianapolis Colts at Cincinnati Bengals
Hilton was limited at practice on Wednesday because of a shoulder injury, but he was a full participant on both Thursday and Friday. He is considered Probable for today’s game in Cincinnati and should play. After Reggie Wayne (ACL) was lost for the season, Hilton became Andrew Luck’s No. 1 target. Unfortunately, Luck and the passing game have struggled recently, as Hilton hasn’t topped 50 receiving yards in any of the last three games. Between the weather forecast (wintry mix) in Cincinnati and the matchup with a tough Bengals defense (213.8 passing ypg, 8th in the NFL), Hilton should probably be viewed as nothing more than a WR3 with upside this week.

Denarius Moore, WR, Oakland Raiders at New York Jets
Moore will miss his third straight game because of a shoulder injury, which means Rod Streater and Andre Holmes will serve as the Raiders’ top receiving threats. Between the Jets’ susceptible pass defense and the state of flux that is Oakland’s backfield, Streater and/or Holmes could be worth a look if you are in need of rounding out your receiving corps or a flex option this week.

Teaser:
Injury Updates Week 14: A.J. Green, Vincent Jackson, T.Y. Hilton, Denarius Moore
Post date: Sunday, December 8, 2013 - 06:30
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy Football, injury updates, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /fantasy/week-14-injury-updates-brandon-marshall-demaryius-thomas-michael-floyd-kendall-wright-percy
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Even though it’s a light Sunday afternoon/night slate in Week 14 that doesn’t mean there aren’t any important games on the schedule, especially when it comes to fantasy implications. Here are some key wide receivers playing later today or on Monday that you need to keep an eye on.

Brandon Marshall, WR, Chicago Bears vs. Dallas Cowboys (Mon.)
Marshall’s quad strain is a minor issue at this point, as he practiced in full on Friday and Saturday. He is listed as Probable for Monday night’s game against Dallas and should be worth the wait. The Cowboys are second to last in the NFL in passing defense and are tied for the fifth-most yards allowed to wide receivers this season. Marshall and Alshon Jeffery are indisputable must-starts this week.

Demaryius Thomas, WR, Denver Broncos vs. Tennessee Titans
Thomas injured his shoulder last week against Kansas City, which limited him during practice for most of the week. He was able to participate fully on Friday, however, and is considered Probable for this afternoon’s game. The chilly conditions expected at game time (4:05 p.m. ET) in Denver could dictate the Broncos’ offensive game plan, but Thomas still needs to be in your lineup.

Michael Floyd, WR, Arizona Cardinals vs. St. Louis Rams
After initially injuring his shoulder, Floyd was limited some in practice this week because of an ankle injury. Regardless, Floyd is considered Probable for this afternoon’s game and this red-hot Cardinal needs to be in your lineup. Over his last three games, Floyd has caught 18 passes for 396 yards and two touchdowns.

Kendall Wright, WR, Tennessee Titans at Denver Broncos
Wright was limited on Wednesday because of an ankle injury, but he practiced fully on Thursday and Friday and is considered Probable for this afternoon’s game in Denver. Wright has just two touchdown receptions on the season, but his 71 catches are seventh among wide receivers and he’s averaged nearly 10 targets over his last four games. Even with the expected cold/wintry conditions, Wright should catch enough passes to provide WR2 production with a shot at even bigger numbers.

Eddie Royal, WR, San Diego Chargers vs. New York Giants
Royal missed last week’s game because of a chest injury and didn’t practice at all this week. He is officially listed as Questionable and will be a game-time decision to suit up against the Giants. The Chargers have gone to more two-tight end sets lately with Antonio Gates and Ladarius Green, which has diminished the use of a No. 3 wideout like Royal. At this point, it would be wise to move on from Royal, as Keenan Allen is really the only Charger wide receiver worth paying attention to.

Percy Harvin, WR, Seattle Seahawks at San Francisco 49ers
Harvin’s road to recovery has experienced more than its fair share of bumps recently, as he recently underwent a minor procedure to try and alleviate soreness in his surgically repaired hip. He has been declared Out for this afternoon’s game against San Francisco and it’s very likely he won’t return until the playoffs, if even then. At this point, it’s looking like Harvin will be a no-show for the entire 2013 fantasy season.

Teaser:
Week 14 Injury Updates: Brandon Marshall, Demaryius Thomas, Michael Floyd, Kendall Wright, Percy Harvin
Post date: Sunday, December 8, 2013 - 06:30
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy Football, injury updates, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /fantasy/injury-updates-week-14-julius-thomas-rob-gronkowski-tony-gonzalez-carson-palmer
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Peyton Manning should have his top tight end back this afternoon while Arizona’s quarterback is dealing with an elbow injury entering Week 14. Here’s the latest injury information on those and others at these two positions as the fantasy playoffs heat up.

Julius Thomas, TE, Denver Broncos vs. Tennessee Titans
Thomas has missed the last two games because of a knee injury, but he practiced fully on Thursday and Friday and is listed as Probable to play against the Titans. The Probable designation is a pretty good indicator he will play, but there’s nothing wrong with confirming Thomas’ status prior to the 4:05 p.m. ET kickoff, provided you have another option waiting in the wings just in case.

Rob Gronkowski, TE, New England Patriots vs. Cleveland Browns
Just like last week, Gronkowski is listed as Questionable, but this appears to be more procedural than anything on the Patriots’ part. Gronk has recorded a touchdown catch in four straight games, making him the most productive fantasy TE during this span. This production is why you waited so long for him to return, so there’s no reason to not stick with Gronkowski at this point.

Tony Gonzalez, TE, Atlanta Falcons at Green Bay Packers
Gonzalez is listed as Questionable yet again because of his toe injury, but the future Hall of Famer has yet to miss a game and he practiced all week in some capacity. He recorded his fifth touchdown catch of the season last week and even with Matt Ryan and the Falcons’ offensive struggles, Gonzalez is worthy of TE1 consideration.

Delanie Walker, TE, Tennessee Titans at Denver Broncos
Walker sustained a concussion in last week’s loss to Indianapolis and didn’t practice this week. He is listed as Questionable to play against Denver, but the good news is his status should be known well before the late afternoon (4:05 p.m. ET) kickoff. Even if he’s cleared to play, I would be very hesitant to take my chances with Walker, despite how productive (45 rec., 5 TDs) he has been.

Carson Palmer, QB, Arizona Cardinals vs. St. Louis Rams
Palmer is Questionable with an elbow injury, but head coach Bruce Arians said he expects him to play against the Rams. Palmer did participate in the team’s walkthrough on Saturday, so he’s looking like a fairly safe bet. He has thrown at least two touchdown passes in five straight games with just four interceptions during this span. Provided his offensive holds up against a fierce Rams pass rush (37 sacks), Palmer should put up decent numbers once again. He’s definitely in the 2-QB conversation and could work his way into starter status, depending on your options.

Jason Campbell, QB, Cleveland Browns at New England Patriots
Campbell missed last week’s game because of a concussion, but he returned to practice this week, passed the necessary tests and has been cleared to return. He is listed as Probable and will get the start against New England. Brandon Weeden, who sustained a concussion in last week’s loss to Jacksonville, has already been declared Out. Campbell could merit consideration in 2-QB leagues against a Patriots secondary that is somewhat banged up and also considering the possibility that he may be forced to throw the ball quite a bit because of the game circumstances.

QBs Already Declared Out

Jay Cutler, QB, Chicago Bears – Cutler will miss his fourth game in a row because of an ankle injury, but he appears close to returning. Until then, Josh McCown will get the call and he has forced himself into the fantasy starter discussion this week against a Dallas defense that is second-to-last in the NFL in passing yards allowed and giving up the second-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks. McCown has put together back-to-back 350-yard performances and has posted a 9:1 touchdown-to-interception ratio this season.

Christian Ponder, QB, Minnesota Vikings – Ponder will miss today’s game against Baltimore because of a concussion. Matt Cassel will get the start, but that only should matter to Vikings fans and the Ravens because otherwise Cassel shouldn’t be anywhere near your starting lineup.

Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers – Rodgers will miss a fifth game because of his broken collarbone and could end up being shelved for the remainder of the season as a precaution. Matt Flynn will get the start today against Atlanta and maybe the Falcons’ 20th-ranked passing defense will be just what he and the Packers need following a disastrous showing (139-0-1) on Thanksgiving Day against the Lions. The forecast for Lambeau Field will be chilly and snowy, so it’s up to you if you want to pin your fantasy hopes on Flynn.

Teaser:
Injury Updates Week 14: Julius Thomas, Rob Gronkowski, Tony Gonzalez, Carson Palmer
Post date: Sunday, December 8, 2013 - 06:30
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy Football, injury updates, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /fantasy/week-14-injury-updates-adrian-peterson-knowshon-moreno-reggie-bush-le%E2%80%99veon-bell-deangelo
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Week 14 means the start of the fantasy playoffs for many leagues. Here’s the rundown on all of the running back injuries you need to know about before setting your lineup.

Adrian Peterson, RB, Minnesota Vikings at Baltimore Ravens
Peterson is listed as Questionable with a groin injury, but there’s no indication he’s not going to play. The groin has been an issue for several weeks now and all the reigning MVP has done in his past two games is record 67 carries for 357 yards and a touchdown. Baltimore has been pretty good against the run (100.1 ypg), but unless he’s out, you’re not sitting Peterson.

Knowshon Moreno, RB, Denver Broncos vs. Tennessee Titans
Although he was limited in practice on Wednesday, Moreno is listed as Probable and will get the start against Tennessee this afternoon. Despite rushing for just 18 yards on 15 carries last week against Kansas City, Moreno still paid dividends to his fantasy owners with four catches for 72 yards and a touchdown. The more important development, however, was that Moreno finished the game no worse for the wear after sustaining a bone bruise to his right ankle two weeks ago. Moreno and Monte Ball both figure to be quite busy this afternoon, as the wintry conditions in Denver could result in the Broncos running the ball more than they usually do.

Reggie Bush, RB, Detroit Lions at Philadelphia Eagles
Bush’s only practice appearance this week was a limited one on Friday, as he’s Questionable with a calf injury. He’s been held back in practice before and still played, but that was to rest his sore knee. The fact that this is his calf and his last game was on Thanksgiving Day is somewhat concerning. Bush rushed for 117 yards and a touchdown against the Packers and he has an appealing matchup against the Eagles. However, with everything that’s at stake, you probably want to make sure Bush is playing today before setting your starting lineup.

Le’Veon Bell, Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Miami Dolphins
Bell sustained a concussion late in the Steelers’ loss to the Ravens on Thanksgiving night, but he practiced fully all week and is considered Probable for today’s game. Barring a setback and provided he has passed the necessary league-mandated concussion protocols, Bell should be out there against a Dolphins defense that is 25th in the NFL against the run (121.8 ypg). The Steelers and Dolphins kick off at 1 p.m. ET, so that should give you plenty of time to see if this Bell will toll for you this week or not.

Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas, RBs, Miami Dolphins at Pittsburgh Steelers
Miller was limited earlier this week because of a pectoral injury, but he was a full go on Friday and is listed as Probable. He should be in for a similar workload today as last week (22 carries vs. the Jets) against a Steelers defense that has struggled to stop the run at times. Meanwhile after initially believed to be out for the rest of the season due to a torn ligament in his ankle, Thomas returned to practice on Friday for the first time since suffering the injury. He is officially listed as Questionable, but it would be somewhat of a surprise to see Thomas return today. Miller remains the Dolphin back to start, but it looks Thomas could still be heard from before the season is over.

Andre Ellington, RB, Arizona Cardinals vs. St. Louis Rams
Questionable headed into last week’s game, Ellington was ruled inactive prior to kickoff against the Eagles because of a knee injury. He remained limited on Thursday, but participated in Friday’s practice and is considered Probable to return today against the Rams. Even with his speed and big-play ability, Ellington is probably no more than a boom-or-bust flex option, as he has taken somewhat of a backseat to Rashard Mendenhall in the Cardinals backfield.

Jonathan Stewart, Mike Tolbert and DeAngelo Williams, RBs, Carolina Panthers at New Orleans Saints
After entering last week’s game as Questionable, Carolina’s top three running backs are considered Probable for tonight’s pivotal NFC South showdown with New Orleans. Williams (right) missed last week’s win against Tampa Bay because of a quadriceps injury, but has been declared the starter against the Saints. Stewart (ankle) and Tolbert (knee) both missed some practice time, but they will play as well. Even with a matchup against a rushing defense that’s allowing 4.6 yards per carry, all three Panther backs are risky fantasy options. Including Cam Newton, there are four mouths to feed in the Carolina backfield and the Panthers run the ball less than 32 times a game. As it relates to the backs, Williams is probably the best option because he’s the starter, but he’s probably no better than a flex candidate. Tolbert is probably a shade ahead of Stewart because of his goal-line and short yardage usage. Tolbert also is the most likely of the three to score a touchdown (4 rush, 2 receiving).

Rashad Jennings and Darren McFadden, RBs, Oakland Raiders at New York Jets
McFadden has already been ruled Out because of an ankle injury, while Jennings is Questionable due to a concussion. Jennings has yet to be cleared by the league to return to the field, although he did travel with the team to New York. Jennings’ status should be known well before game time (1 p.m. ET), but between his uncertainty and the matchup with the NFL’s No. 1 rushing defense, I would just steer clear of the Raiders’ backfield as a whole this week.

Teaser:
Week 14 Injury Updates: Adrian Peterson, Knowshon Moreno, Reggie Bush, Le’Veon Bell, DeAngelo Williams
Post date: Sunday, December 8, 2013 - 06:30
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy Football, injury updates, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /fantasy/week-14-injury-updates-adrian-peterson-knowshon-moreno-reggie-bush-le%E2%80%99veon-bell-deangelo-0
Body:

Week 14 means the start of the fantasy playoffs for many leagues. Here’s the rundown on all of the running back injuries you need to know about before setting your lineup.

Adrian Peterson, RB, Minnesota Vikings at Baltimore Ravens
Peterson is listed as Questionable with a groin injury, but there’s no indication he’s not going to play. The groin has been an issue for several weeks now and all the reigning MVP has done in his past two games is record 67 carries for 357 yards and a touchdown. Baltimore has been pretty good against the run (100.1 ypg), but unless he’s out, you’re not sitting Peterson.

Knowshon Moreno, RB, Denver Broncos vs. Tennessee Titans
Although he was limited in practice on Wednesday, Moreno is listed as Probable and will get the start against Tennessee this afternoon. Despite rushing for just 18 yards on 15 carries last week against Kansas City, Moreno still paid dividends to his fantasy owners with four catches for 72 yards and a touchdown. The more important development, however, was that Moreno finished the game no worse for the wear after sustaining a bone bruise to his right ankle two weeks ago. Moreno and Monte Ball both figure to be quite busy this afternoon, as the wintry conditions in Denver could result in the Broncos running the ball more than they usually do.

Reggie Bush, RB, Detroit Lions at Philadelphia Eagles
Bush’s only practice appearance this week was a limited one on Friday, as he’s Questionable with a calf injury. He’s been held back in practice before and still played, but that was to rest his sore knee. The fact that this is his calf and his last game was on Thanksgiving Day is somewhat concerning. Bush rushed for 117 yards and a touchdown against the Packers and he has an appealing matchup against the Eagles. However, with everything that’s at stake, you probably want to make sure Bush is playing today before setting your starting lineup.

Le’Veon Bell, Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Miami Dolphins
Bell sustained a concussion late in the Steelers’ loss to the Ravens on Thanksgiving night, but he practiced fully all week and is considered Probable for today’s game. Barring a setback and provided he has passed the necessary league-mandated concussion protocols, Bell should be out there against a Dolphins defense that is 25th in the NFL against the run (121.8 ypg). The Steelers and Dolphins kick off at 1 p.m. ET, so that should give you plenty of time to see if this Bell will toll for you this week or not.

Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas, RBs, Miami Dolphins at Pittsburgh Steelers
Miller was limited earlier this week because of a pectoral injury, but he was a full go on Friday and is listed as Probable. He should be in for a similar workload today as last week (22 carries vs. the Jets) against a Steelers defense that has struggled to stop the run at times. Meanwhile after initially believed to be out for the rest of the season due to a torn ligament in his ankle, Thomas returned to practice on Friday for the first time since suffering the injury. He is officially listed as Questionable, but it would be somewhat of a surprise to see Thomas return today. Miller remains the Dolphin back to start, but it looks Thomas could still be heard from before the season is over.

Andre Ellington, RB, Arizona Cardinals vs. St. Louis Rams
Questionable headed into last week’s game, Ellington was ruled inactive prior to kickoff against the Eagles because of a knee injury. He remained limited on Thursday, but participated in Friday’s practice and is considered Probable to return today against the Rams. Even with his speed and big-play ability, Ellington is probably no more than a boom-or-bust flex option, as he has taken somewhat of a backseat to Rashard Mendenhall in the Cardinals backfield.

Jonathan Stewart, Mike Tolbert and DeAngelo Williams, RBs, Carolina Panthers at New Orleans Saints
After entering last week’s game as Questionable, Carolina’s top three running backs are considered Probable for tonight’s pivotal NFC South showdown with New Orleans. Williams (right) missed last week’s win against Tampa Bay because of a quadriceps injury, but has been declared the starter against the Saints. Stewart (ankle) and Tolbert (knee) both missed some practice time, but they will play as well. Even with a matchup against a rushing defense that’s allowing 4.6 yards per carry, all three Panther backs are risky fantasy options. Including Cam Newton, there are four mouths to feed in the Carolina backfield and the Panthers run the ball less than 32 times a game. As it relates to the backs, Williams is probably the best option because he’s the starter, but he’s probably no better than a flex candidate. Tolbert is probably a shade ahead of Stewart because of his goal-line and short yardage usage. Tolbert also is the most likely of the three to score a touchdown (4 rush, 2 receiving).

Rashad Jennings and Darren McFadden, RBs, Oakland Raiders at New York Jets
McFadden has already been ruled Out because of an ankle injury, while Jennings is Questionable due to a concussion. Jennings has yet to be cleared by the league to return to the field, although he did travel with the team to New York. Jennings’ status should be known well before game time (1 p.m. ET), but between his uncertainty and the matchup with the NFL’s No. 1 rushing defense, I would just steer clear of the Raiders’ backfield as a whole this week.

Teaser:
Week 14 Injury Updates: Adrian Peterson, Knowshon Moreno, Reggie Bush, Le’Veon Bell, DeAngelo Williams
Post date: Sunday, December 8, 2013 - 06:30

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