Articles By Mark Ross

Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2014-tight-end-rankings-week-5

Jimmy Graham continues to lead the way when it comes to Athlon Sports’ Fantasy Football Tight End Rankings for Week 5, but it’s the rest of the top 10 that may open some eyes. Graham, Julius Thomas, Antonio Gates and Greg Olsen are no real surprises, and the same could even be said for Martellus Bennett and Delaine Walker. However, Larry Donnell has come out of nowhere to emerge as a top-five fantasy TE, while Travis Kelce and Niles Paul are doing their best to keep up. Noticeably absent from the top 10 are guys like Rob Gronkowski (just outside), Vernon Davis and Jason Witten along with Zach Ertz and Kyle Rudolph (dealing with a sports hernia), popular breakout candidates entering this season. Needless to say, tight end has been a fluid situation in 2014.


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.


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


2014 NFL Week 5 Fantasy Football Rankings — Tight Ends


Teams on bye: Miami, Oakland


1Jimmy GrahamNOvs. TB
2Julius ThomasDENvs. ARI
3Martellus BennettCHIat CAR
4Rob GronkowskiNEvs. CIN
5Larry DonnellNYGvs. ATL
6Delanie WalkerTENvs. CLE
7Greg OlsenCARvs. CHI
8Antonio GatesSDvs. NYJ
9Jordan CameronCLEat TEN
10Travis KelceKCat SF
11Zach ErtzPHIvs. STL
12Heath MillerPITat JAC
13Jason WittenDALvs. HOU
14Vernon DavisSFvs. KC
15Dwayne AllenINDvs. BAL
16Owen DanielsBALat IND
17Austin Seferian-JenkinsTBat NO
18Jared CookSTLat PHI
19Garrett GrahamHOUat DAL
20Coby FleenerINDvs. BAL
21Clay HarborJACvs. PIT
22Eric EbronDETvs. BUF
23Jace AmaroNYJat SD
24Jermaine GreshamCINat NE

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

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


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Fantasy Football 2014 Tight End Rankings: Week 5
Post date: Thursday, October 2, 2014 - 06:30
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2014-defensespecial-teams-rankings-week-5

Seattle’s defense has not performed like the No. 1 DST thus far, but the reigning Super Bowl champion’s Week 5 matchup is too tempting to not reinstate them at the top of Athlon Sports’ Fantasy Football Defense/Special Teams Rankings. The Seahawks may be on the road for their Monday night tilt with Washington, but the Redskins are coming off of a horrendous Week 4 loss to the Giants in which Kirk Cousins alone was responsible for five turnovers. Who are you going to trust more – the “Legion of Boom” or Cousins? That’s what I thought.


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.


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


2014 NFL Week 5 Fantasy Football Rankings — Defense/Special Teams


Teams on bye: Miami, Oakland


1Seattle Seahawksat WAS (Mon.)
2San Diego Chargersvs. NYJ
3Cincinnati Bengalsat NE
4Pittsburgh Steelersat JAC
5Detroit Lionsvs. BUF
6San Francisco 49ersvs. KC
7Houston Texansat DAL
8Denver Broncosvs. ARI
9Philadelphia Eaglesvs. STL
10New England Patriotsvs. CIN
11Kansas City Chiefsat SF
12Arizona Cardinalsat DEN
13Buffalo Billsat DET
14New York Giantsvs. ATL
15Cleveland Brownsat TEN
16St. Louis Ramsat PHI

DEFENSIVE SCORINGRankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

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


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Fantasy Football 2014 Defense/Special Teams Rankings: Week 5
Post date: Thursday, October 2, 2014 - 06:30
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2014-kicker-rankings-week-5

Nick Novak’s hot leg has helped San Diego win its past three games and also is a big reason why he leads off Athlon Sports’ Fantasy Football Kicker Rankings for Week 5. The Chargers host the Jets, a team that has struggled to defend the pass and could wear down in the San Diego heat. As good as Novak has been early on, he trails Dallas’ Dan Bailey in fantasy points at the position. Bailey and the surprising 3-1 Cowboys will try and keep things going offensively against Houston in what should be an entertaining battle for Lone Star State bragging rights.


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.


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


2014 NFL Week 5 Fantasy Football Rankings — Kickers


Teams on bye: Miami, Oakland


1Nick NovakSDvs. NYJ
2Dan BaileyDALvs. HOU
3Adam VinatieriINDvs. BAL
4Cody ParkeyPHIvs. STL
5Justin TuckerBALat IND
6Steven HauschkaSEAat WAS (Mon.)
7Stephen GostkowskiNEvs. CIN
8Greg ZuerleinSTLat PHI
9Shaun SuishamPITat JAC
10Blair WalshMINat GB (Thurs.)
11Phil DawsonSFvs. KC
12Mason CrosbyGBvs. MIN (Thurs.)
13Chandler CatanzaroARIat DEN
14Mike NugentCINat NE
15Robbie GouldCHIat CAR
16Brandon McManusDENvs. ARI

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

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

Fantasy Football 2014 Kicker Rankings: Week 5
Post date: Thursday, October 2, 2014 - 06:30
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy Football, waiver wire, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2014-waiver-wire-week-5

It’s Week 5 and hopefully your team survived the first bye of the season. It was certainly a big one with Denver, Seattle, Cincinnati, Arizona, Cleveland and St. Louis all taking a breather. The good news is that this week the only two teams on bye are Miami and Oakland, who need the extra rest to recover from their trip to London. There are still injuries and other circumstances to deal with, however, and new names continue to pop up on the fantasy radar.


Athlon Sports is here to help you sort through some of the potential free agent options. The players listed in our weekly fantasy football waiver wire may be one-week adds, some may be worth holding on to all season long and some are of the “sleeper” variety that you may simply want to keep an eye on.


Teams on bye: Miami, Oakland




Week 4 Recap: Eli Manning was the week’s leading fantasy scorer after his five-touchdown (4 passing, 1 rushing) showing in a Thursday night rout of Washington. Alex Smith tossed three more touchdowns and didn’t turn the ball over a single time as the Chiefs routed the Patriots on Monday night. Smith, who is owned in less than half of all Yahoo! leagues, has more fantasy points through four games than Cam Newton, Tom Brady, Tony Romo or Nick Foles.


Teddy Bridgewater, Minnesota Vikings

Bridgewater’s first NFL start went about as well as it possibly could (317 yards passing, rush TD, 2-point conversion), leading his team to an impressive win over Atlanta, until he left in the fourth quarter on a cart because of an ankle injury. The good news is that x-rays came back negative, so it appears to be some sort of sprain. The bad news, however, is that the Vikings have a short turnaround before paying a visit to Green Bay on Thursday night, so it’s possible Bridgewater may not get the start or even play this week. Regardless, the rookie’s first impression shouldn’t be overlooked, especially if you are looking for a bye-week replacement down the road or need to beef up your QB depth.


Mike Glennon, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Let’s give Glennon his due. In his first start in place of an injured Josh McCown, all he did was lead his team to a comeback win in Pittsburgh in thrilling fashion. Glennon’s numbers (302-2-1) may not jump out at you, but his 22.1 fantasy points (Athlon scoring) were more than McCown had put up in any of the three previous games. Glennon started 13 games as a rookie last season and finished with respectable stats (2,608-19-9), so it’s not like he’s new to this role. Reports are that McCown could be facing surgery to repair a torn ligament in his thumb, so there’s a chance this will be Glennon’s job for the immediate future. Depending on matchup, your bye-week situation or if you are in a 2-QB league, Glennon could be someone to keep on your radar.


Running Backs


Week 4 Recap: Another week, another receiving touchdown for Ahmad Bradshaw, who has four on the season already. He totaled just 52 yards against Tennessee, but it’s his status as one of Andrew Luck’s most trusted targets that’s driving his value. Lorenzo Taliaferro took advantage of an “inactive” Bernard Pierce and carried the ball a team-high 15 times for 58 yards and a touchdown in Baltimore’s victory over Carolina. With Pierce, Taliaferro and Justin Forsett (97 total yards, TD vs. Panthers) all in the picture, this is quickly becoming a crowded backfield. Roy Helu led Washington with five catches for 78 yards (also had two carries for eight yards) as one of the few offensive bright spots in the blowout home loss to the Giants. Donald Brown (10 att., 19 yds.) couldn’t get anything going on the ground against Jacksonville, but he should remain the primary ball-carrier for the Chargers moving forward with Ryan Mathews (MCL) injured and Danny Woodhead (broken leg) on IR.


Jerick McKinnon, Minnesota Vikings

Matt Asiata was certainly busy (20 att., 78 yds., 3 TDs) against Atlanta, but McKinnon also got 18 carries and turned those into 135 yards rushing. The rookie showed his explosiveness in one 55-yard run and he also caught one pass for 17 yards. Adrian Peterson’s future with the team is uncertain at best, so Asiata and McKinnon will be the backfield until something changes. Asiata may be No. 1 on the depth chart, but it looks like McKinnon will get his fair share of opportunities too.


Khiry Robinson, New Orleans Saints

The Saints did not look very good in a discouraging loss Sunday night to Dallas, but one positive takeaway could be the emergence of Robinson. Mark Ingram will miss a few more games after breaking his hand, so the opportunity is there for Robinson to replace Ingram’s rushing production. After falling behind early, New Orleans abandoned the run, but Robinson still finished with 87 yards on just eight carries. Granted, 62 of those came on one run when the game was pretty well decided, but it’s important for Robinson to take advantage of the opportunities he gets. Case in point: Ingram picked up three rushing touchdowns before getting hurt, so the assumption is that those goal-line looks will now go to Robinson.


Bishop Sankey, Tennessee Titans

After getting just eight carries in the first two games combined, Sankey has received a total of 19 touches (16 rushing, 3 receiving) over the past two games. It’s taken some time, but it looks like the Titans’ second-round pick is starting to settle in. Sankey’s progress in the box score may still leave more to be desired from a fantasy standpoint, but his numbers should only go up if the coaching staff continues to give him consistent touches.


Antone Smith, Atlanta Falcons

Steven Jackson is the leading rusher and has received nearly half (50) of the team’s 102 carries, but Smith’s impact shouldn’t be overlooked. Despite getting just 10 rushing attempts so far, Smith is second on the team with 119 yards (11.9 ypc) and he leads with two scores on the ground. On Sunday against Minnesota, Smith ripped off a 48-yard touchdown run, the Falcons’ longest play on the ground this season. He will need to see consistent carries moving forward to merit serious consideration as even a flex option; but it looks like Smith may be passing rookie Devonta Freeman and Jacquzz Rodgers (3 att., 10 yds. rushing comined vs. Vikings) in the pecking order in Atlanta’s backfield.


Wide Receivers


Week 4 Recap: Eddie Royal lived up to his reputation as a streaky player with two more touchdown catches against Jacksonville. Malcom Floyd got into the act too with his second scoring grab of the season, as the Chargers attacked the Jaguars through the air with much success. Allen Robinson was fairly active (7 targets, 5 rec., 38 yds.) against San Diego and could see even more looks considering Cecil Shorts left early after apparently re-aggravating a hamstring injury that cost him the first two games. Devin Hester took advantage of Harry Douglas’ absence and filled in nicely as the Falcons’ No. 3 wide receiver – 5 catches for 70 yards, including a 36-yard scoring strike. Hakeem Nicks (2 rec., 12 yds.) was one of the few Colts who didn’t take advantage of a generous Titans’ passing defense (393 yds., 4 TDs allowed) on Sunday.


Marvin Jones, Cincinnati Bengals

Remember me? Jones broke his foot early in the preseason, but the expectation is he will be back this week. The Bengals went 3-0 without him, but Jones’ return will only help Andy Dalton and the passing game. Jones caught a total of 51 passes last season, but 10 of those went for touchdowns, a big reason why he finished 25th in fantasy points at his position. He’s not the big-play threat that A.J. Green or even Giovani Bernard is, but he’s a legitimate red-zone target, something Dalton could use with tight end Tyler Eifert (dislocated elbow) on short-term IR. Jones could be a nice boost to a team with bye week issues or needing some depth at receiver.


Brian Quick, St. Louis Rams

St. Louis is already on its third quarterback this season, but one constant for the Rams at wide receiver has been Quick. The third-year pro entered this season with just 29 career receptions and four touchdowns and in the shadows of teammates Tavon Austin, Kenny Britt and Chris Givens. All Quick has done however, is record 16 grabs for 235 yards and a touchdown in the team’s first three games. The Rams’ offense is still a work in progress, but they are coming off of a bye and it looks like Quick is the preferred target of whomever lines up under center. 


Jarius Wright, Minnesota Vikings

Cordarelle Patterson and Greg Jennings are the more popular options and remain ahead of Wright on the depth chart, but it was Wright who made the most noise on Sunday. In Teddy Bridgewater’s first career start, Wright hooked up with the rookie quarterback eight times for 132 yards in the win over Atlanta. Wright saw twice as many targets (10) as Patterson and Jennings combined (8). Over the long haul, Patterson still offers the most upside because of his athleticism and explosiveness – don’t forget he had 102 yards rushing in Week 1 – but it’s possible that Wright supplants Jennings’ as the Vikings’ No. 2 option. Something worth keeping an eye on, especially if Bridgewater (depending on his ankle injury) continues to produce in the pocket.


Tight Ends


Week 4 Recap: Travis Kelce showed up in a big way on Monday night, catching eight passes for 93 yards and a late touchdown that probably saved some people’s fantasy teams while ruining the chances of others. Steve Smith stole the show against his former team, but Owen Daniels was the second-most targeted Raven against Carolina with six. He finished the day with four catches for 43 yards and remains a borderline TE1 moving forward with Dennis Pitta (dislocated hip) on IR.


Larry Donnell, New York Giants

Donnell was mentioned in this space before (Week 3) and to be honest, I’m pretty much shocked his ownership rate (55% in Yahoo! leagues as of Tuesday morning) is as low as it is. All this guy has done is come out of nowhere to emerge as a top-five fantasy TE after four weeks. He’s coming off of a three-touchdown performance against Washington and has averaged nearly eight targets per game. Any questions about whether he’s legit or not should have been answered by now. Really at this point it’s a matter of where does he rank moving forward? Top 10 seems pretty safe and it’s not that far-fetched to make an argument for him as a borderline top-five option the rest of the season. Need I say any more?

Defense/Special Teams


Week 4 Recap: San Diego had some trouble with Jacksonville early, but settled in and held the Jaguars scoreless for pretty much the last two and a half quarters. The Chargers finished with three sacks and three takeaways (2 INTs, 1 fumble) for a solid 12 fantasy points. Next up on the schedule: home to the Jets, at Oakland and home against the Chiefs.


Pittsburgh Steelers

Not to pick on the aforementioned Jaguars, but the reality is this is a team that ranks next to last in total offense (279.3 ypg) and scoring (14.5 ppg) and the  only offense faring worse (Oakland) is on bye this week. Jacksonville also is 30th in rushing (69.8 ypg), has allowed a whopping 20 sacks in four games and is starting a rookie quarterback. The Steelers didn’t exactly look that impressive, especially late, against the Buccaneers, but this is a defense that has shown it can dominate an opponent (3 sacks, 2 takeaways, TD in Week 3 vs. Carolina) and let’s face it – the matchup doesn’t get any better than this.


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

Fantasy Football 2014 Waiver Wire: Week 5
Post date: Tuesday, September 30, 2014 - 10:00
Path: /nfl/new-england-patriots-vs-kansas-city-chiefs-game-preview-and-prediction

New England will try to extend its winning streak to three in a row by defeating Kansas City at home tonight on ESPN. The Patriots (2-1) have turned things around after dropping their season opener in Miami, but Bill Belichick’s team is still trying to figure out things offensively. The Chiefs (1-2) are coming off of an impressive win over those same Dolphins and hope to have their best offensive player back.


Even though he is off to a slow start statistically speaking, Tom Brady has enjoyed quite a bit of success on Monday night. Brady is13-5 in his career on this stage with a 42:15 touchdown-to-interception ratio and a passer rating of 101.5. Kansas City last played on “Monday Night Football” back in 2012 when the Chiefs lost to Pittsburgh on the road in overtime, 16-13.


New England Patriots at Kansas City Chiefs


Kickoff: 8:30 p.m. ET

TV Channel: ESPN

Spread: New England -3.5


Three Things to Watch


1. Kansas City’s Suddenly Crowded Backfield?

After missing last week’s game with a high ankle sprain sustained early in the Week 2 loss in De­nver, Jamaal Charles is expected to return to the starting lineup. Charles actually practiced some just a few days after suffering the injury, but the team decided to err on the side of caution and held him out against Miami. Knile Davis has been much more than a mere fill-in during Charles’ absence, rushing for 79 yards and two scores against the Broncos and following that up with 132 on the ground and another score in the 34-15 win over the Dolphins last week. Still, Charles is an All-Pro running back who totaled 1,980 yards from scrimmage and 19 touchdowns last season. As productive as Davis has been, Charles’ return makes the Chiefs’ running game that much more dangerous, which is important considering the passing attack isn’t that explosive (197.7 ypg, 26th in the NFL). And Davis still figures to have some sort of role, considering Charles is coming back from the type of injury that has been known to linger or resurface. Besides, two backs may be better than one since New England has done a good job about the run (104 ypg, 12th) thus far.


2. The Other 10 Guys on New England’s Offense

When asked earlier about the Patriots’ offensive struggles, Tom Brady was pretty succinct saying there’s been “one guy” playing well. And he wasn’t referring to himself. Instead he was talking about wide receiver Julian Edelman, who is top 10 in the NFL in both receptions (22) and yards (260) entering Week 4. As a team, New England is 26th in the league in total offense (301.3 ypg), which puts them right behind Kansas City (322.3 ypg) in that category. And while the Chiefs’ passing offense (197.7 ypg, 4 TDs) may have a reputation for being pedestrian, it has been more productive than the Patriots’ (196.3, 3). Brady’s slow start (24th in passing yards, 30th in yards per attempt) can be attributed to both a lack of reliable options and a lack of time to throw to them. Outside of Edelman and tight end Rob Gronkowski (11-116-2), Brady has completed a total of 19 passes to his other wide receivers and tight ends. Gronkowski’s snap counts have been held down as he’s coming back from a serious knee injury and no one outside of Edelman has stepped up to pick up the slack. However, a bigger issue could be an offensive line that’s struggling to open up holes for the running backs (3.5 ypc) and give Brady enough time to look down field for an open target (7 sacks). The running game has had its moments, such as Stevan Ridley’s 101 yards in the Week 2 win at Minnesota, but it too has been characterized by inconsistency (165 yards rushing total in the other two games) and a lack of big plays (longest run by a RB so far is 16 yards). It seems the preseason trade of longtime, reliable left guard Logan Mankins to Tampa Bay has impacted this unit more than anyone with the team (looking at you Belichick) is willing to admit. Perhaps that’s why Brady was not happy with the move to begin with? Regardless, that’s in the past and what matters now is how the “new” line performs from here out. The same can be said for any other offensive player not named Edelman or Gronkowski.

3. The Defense Rests?

With offenses ranked in the bottom fourth of the NFL, it takes a solid defense to keep your team competitive. And that has certainly been the case for New England and Kansas City. The Patriots enter tonight’s game third in total defense (272.7 ypg) and fourth in scoring (16.3 ppg). Since allowing Miami to run for 191 yards in the season opener, this unit has allowed a total of 121 yards on the ground and has twice as many takeaways (8) as touchdowns allowed (4). The Chiefs meanwhile have held their own despite suffering a rash of injuries that have cost them their All-Pro linebacker (Derrick Johnson), a starting defensive end (Mike DeVito) and impacted several other key players, such as All-Pro safety Eric Berry (ankle). After struggling mightily against Tennessee in Week 1, Kansas City limited Denver at home to just 24 points and 324 total yards in a seven-point loss and held Miami to only 191 yards passing and one touchdown in its 34-15 road win last week. Neither offense has been that productive or explosive to this point, so both defenses will need to keep up their good work or run the risk of putting their team in a hole it may not be able to climb out of.


Final Analysis


New England’s offense is struggling, but the defense has picked up the slack and then some. Kansas City usually plays well at home and will get a huge boost with the return of Jamaal Charles, but until the Chiefs develop more consistency and more explosiveness in their passing game, this offense will struggle against good defenses. Tom Brady’s production may be down to start the season, but his track record speaks for itself. The Patriots stick with the script that has worked them for so well these past two weeks, relying on their defense to bottle up Kansas City’s running game just enough to leave Arrowhead Stadium with a hard-fought road victory.

Prediction: New England 23, Kansas City 20
New England Patriots vs. Kansas City Chiefs Game Preview and Prediction
Post date: Monday, September 29, 2014 - 10:00
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy Football, injury updates, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-week-4-injury-updates-jamaal-charles-doug-martin-jake-locker-josh-mccown

One All-Pro running back looks ready to return for his Week 4 Monday night matchup, while a couple of struggling starting quarterbacks could end up sitting this one out. Here are some key running back and quarterback injuries you need to pay attention to.


Doug Martin, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Pittsburgh Steelers

Probable – Knee
As was expected, Martin did not play against Atlanta on Thursday night last week due to a knee injury he sustained in the season opener. However, he was back at practice this week and is listed as Probable to start against the Steelers. Bobby Rainey, who started the two games Martin missed, will slide back into his backup role and should be viewed as no more than a flex option this week. Martin meanwhile has been a disappointment dating back to last season when a torn labrum ended his season after just six games. A legitimate RB1 as a rookie, Martin looks more the part of a RB2/flex right now, especially given the Buccaneers’ own offensive struggles.


Jamaal Charles, RB, Kansas City Chiefs vs. New England Patriots (Mon.)

Probable – Ankle
Even though he was limited in practice it sure sounds like Charles will be back on the field just two weeks after suffering a high ankle sprain. He’s listed as Probable for the Monday night game and all indications are that he will play. The Monday night game complicates matters a little, but unless something changes between now and prior to kickoff of today’s early games, I think you need to plan on starting Charles. One thing to keep in mind though is considering how effective Knile Davis was during Charles’ absence, there’s a chance the coaching staff may try and limit the All-Pro’s touches in his first game back from injury. That said, as long as Charles doesn’t re-aggravate the ankle injury, I think he’s a safe bet for at least 20 touches against the Patriots.


Jake Locker, QB, Tennessee Titans at Indianapolis Colts

Questionable – Wrist
The Titans took their lumps last week against the Bengals and apparently that included their quarterback. Locker injured his wrist at some point in the 33-7 loss and it was sore enough that it prevented him from doing much of anything in practice. Locker is Questionable, but if I had to put odds on him playing, I would place them well below the 50-50 associated with that designation. The other side of the coin is that since a solid Week 1 showing, Locker hasn’t played very well, providing one touchdown compared to four turnovers in the past two games combined. If Locker can’t go Charlie Whitehurst would get the call. Either way, unless you’re desperate or have no other options, I would consider the Titans’ QBs as being on bye this week too.


Tony Romo, QB, Dallas Cowboys vs. New Orleans Saints

Probable – Back
Back tightness continues to be an issue for Romo, who did not practice on Wednesday. But just like last week, he was a full go on both Thursday and Friday and is Probable for tonight’s home date with New Orleans. The Cowboys have depended on the running game early on this season, but the possibility of a high-scoring affair exists with the Saints on tap. Regardless, you are starting Romo, especially this week with six teams on bye.


Josh McCown, QB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Pittsburgh Steelers

Doubtful - Thumb
McCown got pummeled last week by the Falcons, leaving the game early after suffering a thumb injury. He’s listed as Doubtful for today with the expectation that Mike Glennon will start. The truth is you would have to be pretty desperate to use McCown right now since he’s looked pretty bad thus far. As far as Glennon goes, he was more than respectable (19 TDs, 9 INTs) as the primary starter last season when he was a rookie, so he has a fair amount of experience. The Buccaneers have struggled early on, but with six other teams on bye, I can support someone who wants to take a flyer on Glennon, especially as a QB2.

RBs Already Ruled Out:


Mark Ingram, New Orleans Saints – Ingram broke his hand in Week 2 against Cleveland and underwent surgery. He’s expected to miss at least a month. Pierre Thomas will continue to serve as the primary receiving back, while Khiry Robinson will get the bulk of the carries, especially around the goal line.


Ryan Mathews and Danny Woodhead, San Diego Chargers – Mathews is expected to miss at least a month after spraining his MCL in Week 2 while Woodhead was placed on injured reserve after breaking his leg last week against Buffalo. Donald Brown will carry the load for the time being with undrafted rookie Branden Oliver listed next on the depth chart.


Knowshon Moreno, Miami Dolphins – Moreno is out at least a few weeks after dislocating his elbow in Week 2. He is hoping to return following the team’s Week 5 bye. Lamar Miller will continue to get the starter’s reps while Moreno is out.

Fantasy Football Week 4 Injury Updates: Jamaal Charles, Doug Martin, Jake Locker, Josh McCown
Post date: Sunday, September 28, 2014 - 06:30
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy Football, injury updates, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /fantasy/week-4-fantasy-football-injury-updates-arian-foster-cj-spiller-bernard-pierce-deangelo

Six teams are on bye in Week 4, which means the depth of many a fantasy team will be tested. Here are some key running back injury situations to keep an eye on before setting your starting lineup.


C.J. Spiller, RB, Buffalo Bills at Houston Texans

Probable – Chest
Spiller was added to the injury report on Thursday with some sort of chest injury, but head coach Doug Marrone said he’s not worried about his running back’s availability. Spiller is Probable and will look to team with Fred Jackson to take advantage of a Texans defense that gave up 176 yards rushing to the Giants’ Rashad Jennings last week. Spiller’s as explosive as they come at running back, but he’s been inconsistent and injury-prone. He needs to be in your starting lineup, but viewed as a RB2 with upside.


Arian Foster, RB, Houston Texans vs. Buffalo Bills

Questionable – Hamstring
Foster was somewhat of a surprise late scratch last week and he will be a game-time decision again today. He didn’t play against the Giants after being limited in practice leading up to that game and the same scenario has played out this week. The hope would be that Foster would have increased his practiced participation over the course of this week, but apparently that did not happen. Running back depth is already being tested with six teams on bye, but unless you want to run the risk of him getting scratched again, you will want to check on Foster’s status before kickoff and have a Plan B in place. Don’t forget that rookie Alfred Blue (13 att., 78 yds.) held his own filling in last week.


Bernard Pierce, RB, Baltimore Ravens vs. Carolina Panthers

Probable – Thigh
Pierce missed last week with a thigh injury, but he’ll back in there today. Justin Forsett should remain in his supporting role, in which he has provided flex-worthy production all three weeks. Meanwhile rookie Lorenzo Taliaferro, who opened some eyes last week with 91 yards and a TD and has been a popular pickup since, probably takes a backseat against Carolina. Pierce should see enough carries to employ as a relatively safe RB2/flex option, but his leash may not be as long as it previously was given Taliaferro’s recent success.


Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams, RBs, Carolina Panthers at Baltimore Ravens

Questionable – Knee; Probable – Thigh
It has been a rough couple of weeks for Panther running backs. First, Williams missed the past two weeks with a thigh (really hamstring) injury. Then last week, Mike Tolbert (leg fracture) and Stewart both got hurt in the blowout home loss to Pittsburgh. Tolbert was placed on short-term injured reserve and Stewart is looking very iffy for today after not doing much at all during practice this week. The silver lining, however, is the return of Williams, whose Probable designation all but guarantees he’ll be back. Given the other injuries, a quarterback who is still dealing with bruised ribs and a need to run the ball, this is as good a week as any for Williams to finally provide RB2/flex production.

Maurice Jones-Drew, RB, Oakland Raiders vs. Miami Dolphins (London)

Probable – Hand
Jones-Drew missed the past two games after injuring his hand in the season opener, but he was a full participant in practice this week and will be back out there today. While I wouldn’t rush to get MJD back into your lineup, it does appear that he will reclaim his starting role, so in a week like this, he may not be the worst RB3/flex option. On the other hand this probably downgrades Darren McFadden’s value, as he will go back to a complementary role and is now competing with the likes of Marcel Reece for touches.

Week 4 Fantasy Football Injury Updates: Arian Foster, C.J. Spiller, Bernard Pierce, DeAngelo Williams
Post date: Sunday, September 28, 2014 - 06:30
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy Football, injury updates, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-week-4-injury-updates-calvin-johnson-brandon-marshall-eric-decker

Several No. 1 wide receivers for different teams are dealing with varying injuries headed into Week 4. Are any of these targets in danger of not playing?


Brandon Marshall, WR, Chicago Bears vs. Green Bay Packers

Questionable – Ankle
The good news is that Alshon Jeffery doesn’t appear at all on this week’s injury report. Unfortunately, Marshall not only re-aggravated his ankle injury Monday night against the Jets, he did next to nothing in practice this week. He’s Questionable for a third straight week, but I would say there’s more danger this week of him not being able to play than there was last week. Don’t forget that because the Bears played on Monday night, it’s been a short week for them, not giving Marshall much time to recover. Marshall is as tough as they come, but it was obvious he was in a lot of pain on Monday and he finished that game with one catch. It’s very hard to bench a weapon like Marshall, especially with so many other wide receivers on bye, but there’s a good chance that even if he does play, he won’t be able to help your team much. Just be sure you understand the risk when it comes to employing Marshall this week.

Calvin Johnson, WR, Detroit Lions at New York Jets

Questionable – Ankle
Many an owner held their collective breaths earlier this week when news came out that Johnson, currently No. 4 in fantasy points at his position, missed not one, but two days of practice because of an ankle injury. Those owners can exhale, somewhat, as Johnson returned to the field on Friday and got some work in. Even though he’s listed as Questionable, Johnson has said he fully expects to play this week. I for one am willing to take him at his word and also would go as far to make the argument that he’s a must-start regardless. Don’t forget Alshon Jeffery also was listed as Questionable headed into the Monday night game with the Jets and he proceeded to exploit an inexperienced and undermanned secondary for 105 yards on eight catches.


Eric Decker, WR, New York Jets vs. Detroit Lions

Questionable – Hamstring
Decker gutted through this hamstring injury on Monday night, only to leave the game after re-aggravating it. He did not return to practice until Friday, but he said he will be out there today, a sentiment head coach Rex Ryan echoed. The risk of counting on him is still very much in play, however, as it’s very likely Decker will be limited once again. Quite a few Week 3 fantasy matchups were probably decided when Decker finished his night with one lone catch for 19 yards. Just make sure you are willing to accept the possibility of the same outcome before inserting Decker into your lineup.


Dez Bryant, WR, Dallas Cowboys vs. New Orleans Saints

Probable – Shoulder
Bryant was Questionable last week, but not only did he start, he also rewarded his owners with a 68-yard touchdown reception. He was a limited practice participant throughout the week, but the Probable designation is all his owners need to worry about. Bryant is a must-start WR1 even when he’s not 100 percent healthy.


Vincent Jackson, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Pittsburgh Steelers

Probable – Wrist
It was revealed this week that Jackson sustained a hairline fracture in his right wrist in the blowout loss in Atlanta. There doesn’t appear to be any real concern regarding the injury at this time, as Jackson took part in practice and he’s listed as Probable. Like every other Buccaneer skill position player, Jackson has gotten off to a slow start, but the WR1 potential still exists. And it’s possible that he could get back to that level of production as soon as this week with Mike Glennon, last season’s primary starting quarterback, slated to start in place of an injured Josh McCown. Last season, when Glennon made 13 starts as a rookie, Jackson finished with the following numbers: 78 catches, 1,124 yards and seven touchdowns.


Harry Douglas and Roddy White, WRs, Atlanta Falcons at Minnesota Vikings

Questionable – Foot; Probable – Hamstring
White missed the Week 3 rout of Tampa Bay because of a bothersome hamstring, while Douglas suited up, caught a touchdown pass and then left early due to a foot injury. White was still limited in practice this week, but both he said he’s “ready to roll” and head coach Mike Smith also declared White a go for today. Douglas’ status seems to be a little more up in the air even though he did more in practice on Friday than White did. But when it comes to the pecking order, White is the clear-cut No. 2 behind Julio Jones, while Douglas is a No. 3 capable of putting up decent numbers of his own. White should be started with no hesitation, but be sure to evaluate your other options before using Douglas.


Already Ruled Out:


Marqise Lee, Jacksonville Jaguars – Lee will miss a second straight game due to a hamstring injury. Cecil Shorts and Allen Hurns (Probable, Ankle) will most likely get the starting nods with Allen Robinson next in line. Shorts is a WR2 with WR1 upside, while Hurns offers the potential of big plays and Robinson’s value is greater in PPR leagues. However, there are two caveats when it comes to the Jaguars’ offense as a whole this week – 1) the cross-country visit to San Diego to face a pretty nasty Chargers’ defense and 2) rookie quarterback Blake Bortles is making his first career NFL start.

Fantasy Football Week 4 Injury Updates: Calvin Johnson, Brandon Marshall, Eric Decker
Post date: Sunday, September 28, 2014 - 06:30
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy Football, injury updates, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /fantasy/week-4-fantasy-football-injury-updates-vernon-davis-rob-gronkowski-delanie-walker

San Francisco may be without its tight end in Week 4, while New England is hoping to get more from theirs on Monday night. Those aren’t the only tight end injuries you need to know about before setting your lineup.


Rob Gronkowski, TE, New England Patriots at Kansas City Chiefs (Mon.)

Probable – Knee
Pretty much business as usual for Gronkowski – limited in practice, but listed as Probable. What could change, however, is Gronkowski’s snap count. After seeing that number drop in Week 2, Gronk played a season-high 42 of 73 offensive snaps last week in a game in which he caught three passes for 44 yards and a touchdown. The big numbers owners were hoping for haven’t been there yet, but a breakout could be coming if Gronkowski’s time on the field keeps increasing.


Vernon Davis, TE, San Francisco 49ers vs. Philadelphia Eagles

Questionable – Ankle
Not surprisingly, Davis was held out of last week’s game against Arizona because of an ankle injury. Davis was limited in practice again and said earlier in the week that he would be a “game-time decision.” Davis’ owners could undoubtedly use him this week, especially with fewer replacement options available due to six teams being on bye, but the late kickoff doesn’t help. Most likely a decision on Davis will need to be made by his owners before the 49ers make theirs later this afternoon.

Delaine Walker, TE, Tennessee Titans at Indianapolis Colts

Questionable – Shoulder
Walker has been the Titans’ most productive pass-catcher thus far, so his Questionable designation is a little concerning. He injured his shoulder last week and apparently it was barking at him bad enough to limit his practice reps. While it would be somewhat of a mild surprise if Walker didn’t play, his owners need to accept the possibility of that exact scenario happening. At minimum, expectations for the productive tight end need to be lowered, especially considering Jake Locker’s own Questionable status due to a wrist injury.


Ladarius Green, TE, San Diego Chargers vs. Jacksonville Jaguars

Questionable – Hamstring
Antonio Gates is listed as Probable, but it’s his running mate Green who gets the Questionable tag this week. Green went from a limited practice participant on Thursday to merely a spectator on Friday, which is typically not a good sign. While Green’s talent and upside is obvious and certainly appealing, Gates remains the starter and currently is the No. 8 among his position in fantasy points. Even with six teams on bye, the safest course of action may be to just bench Green this week.


Charles Clay, TE, Miami Dolphins vs. Oakland Raiders (London)

Probable – Knee
Clay’s knee continues to be an issue, as is his lack of production, but he’s Probable and will be out there today. With six teams on bye you may be forced to stick with Clay in your lineup, but if you have another option I would certainly consider going that route.


Already Ruled Out:


Kyle Rudolph, Minnesota Vikings – Rudolph underwent surgery for a sports hernia and is expected to miss a minimum of six weeks, and there’s a chance he could be placed on season-ending injured reserve. If you have room, I would hold onto Rudolph, but move forward as if he’s going to be out for 6-8 games.


Marcedes Lewis, Jacksonville Jaguars – Lewis is on the injured reserve/designated for return list because of a high ankle sprain. Unless you have an IR spot and/or are smitten with Lewis, there’s no reason to hold onto him or even stash him away.

Week 4 Fantasy Football Injury Updates: Vernon Davis, Rob Gronkowski, Delanie Walker
Post date: Sunday, September 28, 2014 - 06:30
Path: /nfl/philadelphia-eagles-vs-san-francisco-49ers-game-preview-and-prediction

Teams headed in opposite directions will take the stage when Philadelphia pays a visit to brand-new Levi’s Stadium on Sunday afternoon to face San Francisco on FOX. The Eagles (3-0) look to stay undefeated by taking advantage of a 49ers (1-2) team that’s reeling somewhat after two consecutive losses.


Chip Kelly and Jim Harbaugh have faced each other before when they were coaching in the Pac-12 (Oregon and Stanford, respectively), but this will be their first NFL matchup. They split their two previous meetings with the home team winning both times. However, home-field advantage has not been kind to San Francisco against Philadelphia recently, as the Eagles have won the last four games these two have played on the West Coast, dating back to 2002. Then again, all of those games were at Candlestick Park whereas this will be just the second game the 49ers have played in Levi’s Stadium. 


Philadelphia Eagles at San Francisco 49ers


Kickoff: 4:25 p.m. ET

TV Channel: FOX

Spread: San Francisco -4.5


Three Things to Watch


1. Can 49ers Stop Their Freefall?

Since the end of the third quarter of its Week 2 game, San Francisco has been outscored 44-14, a big reason why Jim Harbaugh’s team is trying to put an end to a two-game losing streak. The 49ers blew a 20-3 fourth-quarter lead two weeks ago at home to Chicago and followed that up with an uninspiring 23-14 loss to divisional foe Arizona. Two Colin Kaepernick interceptions led directly to two touchdowns to fuel the Bears’ comeback while nine penalties for 107 yards played a huge role in last week’s outcome. The end result is a team with Super Bowl aspirations currently sitting at 1-2 and already trailing NFC West-leading Arizona by two games. There’s still plenty of time for San Francisco to turn things around, but this discouraging start has only drawn more attention to Harbaugh’s unsettled contract situation and done nothing but increase the chatter related to his seemingly uncertain future with the team. On top of that, the finger pointing has also begun with the targets varying from the referees to the game plan to themselves. While turmoil may be too strong of a word to describe the 49ers with still so many games remaining, a win against an undefeated Philadelphia team would go a long ways towards righting what has the appearances of a listing ship. 


2. Philadelphia’s Patchwork Offensive Line

What started out as a bad situation up front for the Eagles has only gotten worse. After having all five offensive linemen start every game last season for the NFL’s No. 2 offense (yards per game), Chip Kelly will be digging deep into his depth chart to even put together a starting quintet this week. Starting right tackle Lane Johnson was hit with a four-game suspension before the season even started and then All-Pro left guard Evan Mathis (MCL sprain) and Allen Barbe (ankle), Johnson’s replacement, both went down with injuries before halftime of the season opener. Mathis is on the injured reserve list with a designation to return while Barbe’s season is over. Already down two starters, Kelly lost another when center Jason Kelce got hurt last week against Washington. Kelce underwent surgery to repair a sports hernia and it’s not yet known how much time he will miss. The bottom line is that this line has been decimated by injuries, as reinforcements have had to be brought in via both the free-agent market as well as the practice squad. Philadelphia is 3-0, but what was the league’s most productive rushing attack in 2013 is averaging 108.7 yards per game and just 3.8 yards per carry through three games. San Francisco’s defense isn’t at full strength either, with All-Pro linebackers NaVorro Bowman (PUP list) and Aldon Smith (suspension) as well as starting defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey (IR) all sidelined, but it pales in comparison to the attrition the Eagles have had to deal with along their offensive line. Is this the week these increasing cracks up front show up on the field?


3. How Will San Francisco Try to Gain Ground?

During Jim Harbaugh’s tenure, the 49ers have been known primarily for doing two things extremely well – running the football effectively and playing tough defense. In each of the past three seasons, San Francisco has ranked eighth or better in the NFL in rushing offense as Frank Gore has posted three consecutive 1,100-yard seasons. In the season opener, the 49ers ran the ball 30 times for 127 yards against Dallas compared to just 23 passes in a relatively easy 28-17 win. Two weeks ago the run-pass distribution flipped to 27 rushing attempts and 34 passes in a game in which San Francisco blew a 17-0 halftime lead in large part due to three interceptions thrown by Colin Kaepernick. The pass-heavy theme continued last week with 37 throws and just 23 rushing attempts. What stood out even more, however, was the fact that Kaepernick was responsible for nearly half of the carries (12), while Gore got a grand total of six (for 10 yards). As a team, the 49ers gained just 82 yards on 23 carries (3.6 ypc) and for the season currently rank 17th in the league at 112 yards rushing per game. A recommitment to the running game seems likely given Harbaugh’s reputation, but perhaps a bigger question is who’s going to get the carries? Gore has proven his effectiveness in a workhorse role in the past and he now has fresh legs to relieve him in second-round pick Carlos Hyde (4.5 ypc, 2 TDs). Kaepernick may be a record-setting dual-threat quarterback, but it seems it would be in the team’s best interests that the workload on the ground falls more to Gore and Hyde than him. After all, San Francisco’s lone victory thus far came in a game in which Gore and Hyde combined to run the ball as many times as Kaepernick threw it.


Final Analysis


Philadelphia comes into this game undefeated, but the Eagles have been a slow starter and a strong finisher. The Eagles have been outscored 54-27 in the first half, but have dominated (74-24) the proceedings after halftime. Besides digging themselves out of early holes, Chip Kelly’s team also has weathered a rash of injuries along the offensive line and at a few other key positions. San Francisco has had to deal with its own injuries, but it’s the self-inflicted mistakes – turnovers, poor execution, a lack of cohesion and inopportune penalties – that have done the most damage.


The 49ers need this game much more than the Eagles and are trying to avoid the first three-game losing streak in Jim Harbaugh’s tenure as head coach. Philadelphia’s offense will be tough to slow down, but I think this is the week the losses up front will be felt on the field, even against a depleted San Francisco defense. The 49ers get back to the basics in that they rely on the ground game to control the clock and limit the opportunities the Eagles get on offense while the defense makes enough stops late to seal the team’s first-ever victory at Levi’s Stadium.

Prediction: San Francisco 27, Philadelphia 23
Philadelphia Eagles vs. San Francisco 49ers Game Preview and Prediction
Post date: Friday, September 26, 2014 - 13:00
Path: /nfl/green-bay-packers-vs-chicago-bears-game-preview-and-prediction

Longtime divisional rivals will get reacquainted when NFC North counterparts Green Bay and Chicago square off at Solider Field Sunday afternoon on FOX. The Packers (1-2) have gotten off to a slow start thanks in large part to a sluggish offense and suspect run defense. The Bears (2-1) have turned things around after losing their season opener at home in overtime, posting consecutive road wins against the 49ers and Jets.


The NFL’s longest-running rivalry, this will be the 189th overall meeting (only two of these occuring in the postseason) between these historic franchises. Chicago holds a slim 93-89-6 lead, but Green Bay has dominated during the Aaron Rodgers era. Since Rodgers became the starter in 2008, the Packers are 10-3 against the Bears, including a win at Soldier Field in the 2011 NFC Championship Game.


Green Bay Packers at Chicago Bears


Kickoff: 1 p.m. ET

TV Channel: FOX

Spread: Green Bay -1.5


Three Things to Watch


1. Green Bay’s Offensive Woes

Raise your hand if you thought after three games this season the Packers would rank near the bottom of the NFL in total offense. Even with the season opener in Seattle, no one expected an Aaron Rodgers-led offense to be averaging fewer than 300 yards and only 18 points per game. Rodgers’ 697 yards passing in these first three games is the lowest in his career as a starting quarterback, while his 62.8 completion rate is his worst since 2009 (56.7). He does have five touchdown passes compared to just one interception, but these numbers pale in comparison to the damage he did in the first three games of 2013: 1,057 yards, eight touchdowns, three picks. Again, putting up low numbers (189-1-1) on the road against the defending Super Bowl champion Seahawks is perfectly understandable, but last week’s 162-yard passing effort against Detroit represented the fewest in any start (90 career) during which Rodgers didn’t leave early due to injury. The Packers’ offensive line issues are well documented and the running game certainly hasn’t done its part (more on that later), but everyone knows that this offense begins and end with No. 12. He’s had a great deal of success against Chicago in his career (10-3 record, 21:10 TD:INT ratio), so maybe a familiar face will be just the medicine this ailing offense needs to get well.


2. Will Cutler “Pack” it in Again?

While Aaron Rodgers has thrived against Chicago, Jay Cutler has struggled mightily against his divisional rival. In 10 career games against Green Bay, including playoffs, Cutler is 1-9 having lost six in a row dating back to the 2010 season. Of these 10 games, all but one have been with the Bears and in those contests, Cutler has completed 54.4 percent of his passes for less than 200 yards per game (193.8), 10 touchdowns and 18 interceptions. He as thrown at least one interception in every game he has started for Chicago against the Packers, including one in a forgettable performance in the 2011 NFC title game. He left that game in the third quarter due to a knee injury, but in many ways his stat line that afternoon (6-of-14 passing, 80 yards, INT) sums up his struggles against Green Bay perfectly. Now in his second season in head coach Marc Trestman’s up-tempo offense, Cutler has looked comfortable and poised in the early going, despite the fact that the offensive line has been operating without two starters most of the way. Through three games this season, Cutler has completed 66.1 percent of his passes for 750 yards, eight touchdowns and just two interceptions. He’s done this despite getting little support from the running game (more on that below), getting sacked seven times and facing pressure on a fairly regular basis, especially last week against the blitz-happy Jets. There’s no dispute that this is Cutler’s offense and he certainly has a wide range of talented, explosive weapons to work with at every skill position. He also has a little bit of additional momentum in that he’s coming off of his best statistical showing yet against the hated Packers. In Week 17 last season, Cutler completed 15 of 24 passes (62.5 percent) for 226 yards, two touchdowns and one interception (good for a passer rating of 103.8), as the Bears dropped a heartbreaker on a late long touchdown pass by Rodgers. Even though it was in a losing effort, Cutler showed enough improvement that it’s not out of the realm of possibility that this will be the game in which he finally breaks through against his longtime nemesis. 


3. Something’s Gotta Give on the Ground

When it comes to the running game so far this season, Green Bay and Chicago have had a lot in common, but not in a good way. The Packers and the Bears both rank near the bottom of the NFL in rushing offense and have had just as much trouble stopping the run as well. In 2013, Chicago’s Matt Forté and Green Bay’s Eddie Lacy finished second and eighth in the league in rushing, respectively. This season each is averaging less than 3.3 yards per carry, as the Bears are dead last at 64 yards rushing per game and the Packers not much better (27h) at 78.7. Both teams can lay some of the blame on injuries along their offensive lines, but their Pro Bowl-caliber backs need to start producing accordingly for either team to reverse this disconcerting early trend. The good news there is that this sets up as an ideal matchup with both defenses struggling mightily to stop the run. Green Bay is giving up 156 yards rushing per game (30th in the NFL) while Chicago dropped to 144.7 after “holding” the Jets to just 114 on 26 carries (4.4 ypc) in its win on Monday night. As important as the passing game is when these two teams get together, whichever offense is able to gain the most ground as it relates to the run game, on either side of the ball, figures to have the advantage this afternoon. 


Final Analysis


It’s always must-see TV when these two historic rivals get together. Green Bay is trying to gain some footing after getting off to a slow start and can ill afford to drop to 0-2 in divisional play. Chicago is hoping to build on the momentum it’s gained from consecutive road wins while picking up a key early victory in NFC North play. Both teams have dealt with their share of injuries early on, especially along the offensive line, and have gotten next to nothing from their running games or run defenses for that matter. And at quarterback, Aaron Rodgers has been stellar against the Bears while Jay Cutler has struggled mightily against the Packers. So what’s going to give this afternoon? I’m not saying Cutler completely outshines his MVP counterpart, but I do think the Bears’ highly criticized signal-caller’s positive plays will outweigh the negative ones. However, Cutler won’t have to defeat Green Bay by himself, as a sizeable contribution on the ground from Matt Forté, some key stops from a patchwork secondary and an effective pass rush will come together to round out a balanced, team effort that puts Chicago in the driver’s seat in the division.

Prediction: Chicago 28, Green Bay 27
Green Bay Packers vs. Chicago Bears Game Preview and Prediction
Post date: Friday, September 26, 2014 - 09:30
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2014-quarterback-rankings-week-4

Week 4 ushers in the start of the byes in the NFL, which means some familiar faces are missing from Athlon Sports’ Fantasy Football Quarterback Rankings. No Peyton Manning or Russell Wilson opens up an opportunity for some other signal-callers to shine, at least that’s what a Manning or Wilson owner is hoping for from their backup this week. Even though six teams are taking a break there will still be plenty of QB talent on display, starting with Drew Brees. New Orleans is in Dallas to play the Cowboys, a team the Saints hung 49 points on and racked up an NFL-record 50 first downs against last season. This also could be a good week to put your trust in Kirk Cousins, who showed what he’s capable of in his first start, throwing for a league-high 427 yards and three scores against Philadelphia. Further down the rankings some quarterbacks to keep an eye on include Minnesota’s Teddy Bridgewater and Jacksonville’s Blake Bortles. The future is apparently now for these two first-round picks, although don’t be surprised if things get off to a bumpy start.


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.


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


2014 NFL Week 4 Fantasy Football Rankings — Quarterbacks


Teams on bye: Arizona, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Denver, St. Louis, Seattle


1Drew BreesNOat DALPut up 392-4-0 on Cowboys last season.
2Andrew LuckINDvs. TENTorched Jags for 370 yards and 4 TDs.
3Philip RiversSDvs. JACJags have been lit up by WAS and IND.
4Aaron RodgersGBat CHILions' D-line harassed Rodgers last week.
5Matthew StaffordDETat NYJJets' D-line could cause some problems.
6Matt RyanATLat MINPulled early in blowout vs. Bucs after 286-3-0.
7Jay CutlerCHIvs. GB1-8 in career vs. GB w/ 11:17 TD:INT ratio.
8Colin KaepernickSFvs. PHIBounced back w/ no TOs vs. Cardinals.
9Nick FolesPHIat SFShowed toughness against WAS. SF next.
10Kirk CousinsWASvs. NYG (Thurs.)Threw for 427 and 3 scores vs. Eagles.
11Ben RoethlisbergerPITvs. TBFalcons hung 56 on Bucs' banged-up D.
12Cam NewtonCARat BALDoesn't look completely healthy.
13Tony RomoDALvs. NOProbably in line for more attempts vs. Saints.
14Tom BradyNEat KC (Mon.)Tom hasn't been so Terrific to start season.
15Eli ManningNYGat WAS (Thurs.)Breakout coming vs. decimated WAS D?
16Alex SmithKCvs. NE (Mon.)Patriots allowing fewest fantasy pts. to QBs.
17Ryan FitzpatrickHOUvs. BUF 
18Joe FlaccoBALvs. CARPanthers' D angry after last week's effort.
19Ryan TannehillMIAvs. OAK (London)Already put on notice by head coach.
20EJ ManuelBUFat HOUTexans' D struggled against Giants last week.
21Jake LockerTENat INDWrist injury could limit or sideline him.
22Teddy BridgewaterMINvs. ATLJob is his now with Cassel (foot) on IR.
23Geno SmithNYJvs. DETStill prone to making the costly mistakes.
24Blake BortlesJACat SDTough assignment for first career start.
25Mike GlennonTBat PITPlayed well after taking over for injured McCown.
26Derek CarrOAKvs. MIA (London) 

​Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

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


Need more fantasy help? Visit


(Kirk Cousins photo courtesy of Washington Redskins' Web site,

Fantasy Football 2014 Quarterback Rankings: Week 4
Post date: Thursday, September 25, 2014 - 06:30
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2014-running-back-rankings-week-4

First it was injuries, now bye weeks have added to chaos that is reflected in Athlon Sports’ Fantasy Football Running Back Rankings for Week 4. With six teams on bye, owners’ backfield depths will be tested, especially those who rely on Marshawn Lynch, Montee Ball, Giovani Bernard or Zac Stacy on a weekly basis. Instead, Pittsburgh’s Le’Veon Bell tops our rankings following his impressive 147-yard effort against what is usually a stingy Carolina defense. The Giants’ Rashad Jennings also is a top-10 option after running all over the Texans (176 yards). Elsewhere, Jamaal Charles and Arian Foster owners are optimistic they will be back on the field after missing last week, situations that not only need to be monitored throughout the week, but likewise complicate the outlooks for their backups Knile Davis and Alfred Blue. Davis in particular thrived with more playing time, rushing for 132 yards and a touchdown against Miami last week. A popular waiver wire target, Charles’ return would certainly damper the enthusiasm of those who were able to enjoy the fruits of Davis’ labor and don’t have Charles on their roster. 


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.


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


2014 NFL Week 4 Fantasy Football Rankings — Running Backs


Teams on bye: Arizona, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Denver, St. Louis, Seattle


1Le'Veon BellPITvs. TBGashed Panthers for 147 yards rushing.
2DeMarco MurrayDALvs. NONFL's leading rusher vs. No. 9 rush D.
3LeSean McCoyPHIat SFTotaled just 22 yards against WAS.
4Matt ForteCHIvs. GBHasn't been able to get it going on ground.
5Jamaal CharlesKCvs. NE (Mon.)Ready to return after missing just 1 game?
6Alfred MorrisWASvs. NYG (Thurs.)Left with a knee injury last week, but returned.
7Eddie LacyGBat CHIIs this the game he gets it going?
8Rashad JenningsNYGat WAS (Thurs.)Ran all over (176 yds.) Texans last week.
9Arian FosterHOUvs. BUFHamstring injury could still be an issue.
10Lamar MillerMIAat OAK (London)Ran for 108 in losing effort vs. Chiefs.
11Donald BrownSDvs. JACGot 31 carries last week, Woodhead now on IR.
12C.J. SpillerBUFat HOU 
13Frank GoreSFvs. PHIGot just six carries last week.
14Fred JacksonBUFat HOUAveraging 4.8 yards per carry behind Spiller.
15Stevan RidleyNEat KC (Mon.)Will Patriots commit to run against Chiefs?
16Khiry RobinsonNOat DAL 
17Doug MartinTBat PITHas missed last 2 games b/c of injury.
18Ahmad BradshawINDvs. TENContinues to outshine Richardson.
19Darren SprolesPHIat SF 
20Matt AsiataMINvs. ATLWill keep value as long as he gets touches.
21Chris IvoryNYJvs. DETRunning ball well. More carries coming?
22Pierre ThomasNOat DAL 
23Reggie BushDETat NYJ26-yard TD run highlight last week.
24Trent RichardsonINDvs. TENHas 156 yards, but just 3.8 ypc and no TDs.
25Joique BellDETat NYJSaw fewer snaps than Bush last week.
26Shane VereenNEat KC (Mon.) 
27Steven JacksonATLat MIN 
28Chris JohnsonNYJvs. DET34 rushing yards and 2 costly drops on MNF.
29Shonn GreeneTENat IND 
30Bernard PierceBALvs. CARWill thigh injury sideline him again?
31Darren McFaddenOAKvs. MIA (London)Could see less work if MJD returns.
32Toby GerhartJACat SD4 QBs, WR have more rushing yards (82).
33DeAngelo WilliamsCARat BALShould see plenty of carries in depleted backfield.
34Alfred BlueHOUvs. BUFSolid (13 att., 78 yds.) in relief of Foster.
35Lorenzo TaliaferroBALvs. CARRookie led way w/ 91 yds., TD vs. Browns.
36Knile DavisKCvs. NE (Mon.)Even if Charles returns, he should get work.
37Bobby RaineyTBat PIT 
38Maurice Jones-DrewOAKvs. MIA (London)May finally get back on field.
39Carlos HydeSFvs. PHIOnly three carries, but scored another TD.
40Bishop SankeyTENat INDMade presence known (61 yds.) vs. Bengals.
41Justin ForsettBALvs. CARAlready supplanted by rookie?
42LeGarrette BlountPITvs. TBPiled on (118, TD) in rout of Panthers.
43Roy HeluWASvs. NYG (Thurs.)Could see more work if Morris (knee) limited.
44Branden OliverSDvs. JACOpportunity knocks w/ Woodhead on IR.
45Jerick McKinnonMINvs. ATLCould get more looks if Asiata doesn't produce.
46Andre WilliamsNYGat WAS (Thurs.)
47Devonta FreemanATLat MIN 
48James StarksGBat CHI 

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

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


Need more fantasy help? Visit


(Rashad Jennings photo courtesy of New York Giants' Web site,

Fantasy Football 2014 Running Back Rankings: Week 4
Post date: Thursday, September 25, 2014 - 06:30
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2014-wide-receiver-rankings-week-4

Several top targets are on bye this week, which means Athlon Sports’ Fantasy Football Wide Receiver Rankings for Week 4 go a little deeper than usual. Wide receivers who have been relegated to the bench early on may be forced into spot duty depending on a team’s roster depth. At least there are still some legitimate starting options to cling to, beginning with Calvin Johnson. A Green Bay vs. Chicago NFC North clash also should be productive for the usual suspects, depending on the condition of Brandon Marshall’s injured ankle. This also could be a week some younger wideouts emerge, such as Carolina’s Kelvin Benjamin. One of the lone bright spots for the Panthers in last week’s blowout home loss, Benjamin came through with his first 100-yard game. A tough matchup against Baltimore is on tap, but Benjamin is still a relatively safe WR2 option with WR1 upside, especially this week.


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.


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


2014 NFL Week 4 Fantasy Football Rankings — Wide Receivers


Teams on bye: Arizona, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Denver, St. Louis, Seattle


1Calvin JohnsonDETat NYJHeld in check (6-82) by Packers last week.
2Julio JonesATLat MINBucs had no answer for Julio (9-161-2) last week.
3Jordy NelsonGBat CHIDrew plenty of attention from Lions' secondary.
4Dez BryantDALvs. NOBack-to-back games with a TD, 68-yarder vs. STL.
5Antonio BrownPITvs. TBBig Ben's favorite target gets suspect Bucs D.
6Alshon JefferyCHIvs. GBFocus of passing game on MNF (8-105 on 13 targets).
7Brandon MarshallCHIvs. GBRe-aggravated ankle injury on MNF, had 1 catch.
8Julian EdelmanNEat KC (Mon.)Only Patriot doing their job on O acc. to Brady.
9Jeremy MaclinPHIat SFBig-play machine (19.3 ypc, TD) vs. WAS.
10Randall CobbGBat CHI 
11Andre JohnsonHOUvs. BUFStill in search of first TD this season.
12Michael CrabtreeSFvs. PHIVery busy (10-80-1) vs. Cardinals last week.
13Pierre GarconWASvs. NYG (Thurs.)Clicked big time (11-138-1) w/ Cousins vs. PHI.
14Victor CruzNYGat WAS (Thurs.)First big game (5-107-1) in new offense.
15Mike WallaceMIAvs. OAK (London)Reliable and consistent through first 3 games.
16Vincent JacksonTBat PITCaught his first TD, but finished w/ just 2 rec.
17Roddy WhiteATLat MINWill hamstring continue to be an issue?
18DeSean JacksonWASvs. NYG (Thurs.)DJax got his "revenge" (5-117) vs. PHI, stat-wise.
19Steve SmithBALvs. CARAnother 100-yard game from the Sr. Smith.
20Keenan AllenSDvs. JACClearly hampered by groin injury last week.
21Cordarrelle PattersonMINvs. ATLHow soon will he and Bridgewater get on same page?
22Kelvin BenjaminCARat BALRookie coming up big (8-115-1) for struggling O.
23Marques ColstonNOat DALDid come through with big TD reception.
24Brandin CooksNOat DALContinues to be one of Brees' primary targets.
25DeAndre HopkinsHOUvs. BUFLed Texans with 6 grabs for 116 yards vs. Giants.
26Golden TateDETat NYJ 
27Reggie WayneINDvs. TENTitans enter this game No. 2 vs. pass.
28Sammy WatkinsBUFat HOUFollowed up Week 2 breakout w/ dud (2-19).
29Kendall WrightTENat IND 
30Eric DeckerNYJvs. DETRe-aggravated hammy injury on MNF, left early.
31T.Y. HiltonINDvs. TEN 
32Markus WheatonPITvs. TBHad touchdown catch vs. CAR waved off.
33Greg JenningsMINvs. ATL 
34Terrance WilliamsDALvs. NOScored a TD vs. Rams, but still not very active.
35James JonesOAKvs. MIA (London)Most productive Raider WR so far.
36Anquan BoldinSFvs. PHI 
37Cecil ShortsJACat SDCatches a TD pass in season debut.
38Torrey SmithBALvs. CARHow much longer can owners wait on Torrey?
39Justin HunterTENat INDStill waiting on breakout game.
40Dwayne BoweKCvs. NE (Mon.)Minimal impact in passing game thus far.
41Rueben RandleNYGat WAS (Thurs.)10 targets, but just 5 receptions last week.
42Jeremy KerleyNYJvs. DETPicked up slack in Decker's absence (7-81-1) on MNF.
43Malcom FloydSDvs. JACAveraged 49 yards on 2 catches vs. Bills
44Mike EvansTBat PITStill looking for that first big, memorable play.
45Allen HurnsJACat SDLone reception last week went for 63 yards and TD.
46Hakeem NicksINDvs. TENOnly Colt WR to catch a TD pass thus far.
47Jordan MatthewsPHIat SFRookie caught first 2 TDs vs. WAS last week.
48Riley CooperPHIat SF 
49Allen RobinsonJACat SDTied Shorts for lead in targets last week w/ 10.
50Brian HartlineMIAvs. OAK (London)Chips in with a TD catch vs. Chiefs last week.
51Eddie RoyalSDvs. JACCould remain a factor if Allen's groin injury lingers.
52Stevie JohnsonSFvs. PHIStepped up (9-103) in V. Davis' absence vs. ARI.
53Harry DouglasATLat MINCaught TD vs. Bucs, but also left w/ toe injury.
54Donnie AveryKCvs. NE (Mon.) 
55Aaron DobsonNEat KC (Mon.) 
56Robert WoodsBUFat HOU 
57Devin HesterATLat MINHelped by versatility, big-play ability and ATL game plan.
58Danny AmendolaNEat KC (Mon.) 
59Kenny StillsNOat DAL 
60Davante AdamsGBat CHI 
61Santonio HolmesCHIvs. GB 
62Nate WashingtonTENat IND 
63Andre RobertsWASvs. NYG (Thurs.) 
64Jarrett BoykinGBat CHI 

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:


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


Need more fantasy help? Visit

Fantasy Football 2014 Wide Receiver Rankings: Week 4
Post date: Thursday, September 25, 2014 - 06:30
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2014-tight-end-rankings-week-4

Even with six teams on bye, there are not a lot of changes as it relates to Athlon Sports’ Fantasy Football Tight End Rankings for Week 4. Yes leading scorer Julius Thomas is not playing and his absence will probably be felt, but he’s the only one in the top 10 that’s not available this week. Jimmy Graham continues to lead our rankings, despite being third in fantasy points, and he has an appealing matchup this week against Dallas. Martellus Bennett, Greg Olsen and Delanie Walker continue to provide consistent production, as have a couple of guys who weren’t even on anyone’s radar entering this season – Niles Paul and Larry Donnell. Paul has taken advantage of another injury to Jordan Reed and quickly is entering must-start status, as he trails Graham by just one yard (253 to 254) for top billing among TEs.


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.


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


2014 NFL Week 4 Fantasy Football Rankings — Tight Ends


Teams on bye: Arizona, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Denver, St. Louis, Seattle


1Jimmy GrahamNOat DALDAL most fantasy pts. allowed to TEs. Uh oh.
2Rob GronkowskiNEat KC (Mon.)Playing time still limited, but gets TD vs. OAK.
3Greg OlsenCARat BAL 
4Antonio GatesSDvs. JACFollows up 3-TD game w/ just 1 catch vs. BUF.
5Martellus BennettCHIvs. GBMotivated by Ryan's quip, catches 2 TDs on MNF.
6Vernon DavisSFvs. PHIShould be back after missing last week.
7Delanie WalkerTENat INDHas been Titans' post productive pass-catcher.
8Zach ErtzPHIat SFOnly targeted 3 times vs. WAS.
9Niles PaulWASvs. NYG (Thurs.)Remaining active (6-68) in passing game.
10Travis KelceKCvs. NE (Mon.)Snaps on rise, catches TD vs. Miami.
11Jason WittenDALvs. NOJust 10 catches, no TDs through first 3 G.
12Larry DonnellNYGat WAS (Thurs.)Involved (6-45), but upstaged by Cruz vs. HOU.
13Dwayne AllenINDvs. TENAlso got into scoring column vs. Jaguars.
14Heath MillerPITvs. TB 
15Owen DanielsBALvs. CARMoves up to starter w/ Pitta (hip) on IR.
16Charles ClayMIAvs. OAK (London)Disappointing start continues for Clay.
17Ladarius GreenSDvs. JACHis 4 grabs for 64 yards best showing yet.
18Coby FleenerINDvs. TENRecords first TD catch of season vs. JAC.
19Garrett GrahamHOUvs. BUFRecorded five catches vs. Giants last week.
20Jace AmaroNYJvs. DET 
21Brandon MyersTBat PITSeferian-Jenkins (ankle) still ailing.
22Scott ChandlerBUFat HOU 
23Levine ToiloloATLat MIN 
24Andrew QuarlessGBat CHIAfter quiet 2 G, shows up (4-43-1) vs. DET.
25Mychal RiveraOAKvs. MIA (London) 
26Eric EbronDETat NYJToo inconsistent to trust?

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

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


Need more fantasy help? Visit

Fantasy Football 2014 Tight End Rankings: Week 4
Post date: Thursday, September 25, 2014 - 06:30
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2014-defensespecial-teams-rankings-week-4

Lots of defensive firepower taking a seat this week, as the first bye of the season shakes up Athlon Sports’ Fantasy Football Defense/Special Teams Rankings for Week 4. No Seattle, Cincinnati, Arizona, Denver, St. Louis or Cleveland means many an owner will have to look elsewhere to fill this spot in their lineup. One potential option could be San Diego. The Chargers have done a good job of limiting the opposition on the scoreboard (16.3 ppg, 4th in the NFL), as well as getting to the quarterback (7 sacks). Jacksonville comes to town this week as a team that has lost its past two games by a combined score of 85-27 and has given up 14 sacks and committed four turnovers during that same span. Oh yeah, the Jaguars also have to make a cross-country trip to the West Coast and will have a rookie quarterback (Blake Bortles) making his first career NFL start. Any surprise why the Super Chargers are our No. 1 DST?


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.


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


2014 NFL Week 4 Fantasy Football Rankings — Defense/Special Teams


Teams on bye: Arizona, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Denver, St. Louis, Seattle


1San Diego Chargersvs. JACJags have allowed most sacks (17), are starting rookie QB.
2New England Patriotsat KC (Mon.)Will it be Charles or Davis or both on MNF?
3Carolina Panthersat BALPanthers' D reeling after PIT blowout?
4Pittsburgh Steelersvs. TBBucs' 30th in NFL in total offense.
5Houston Texansvs. BUFLooking to rebound after rough outing vs. NYG.
6Miami Dolphinsvs. OAK (London)Can 'Fins take advantage of bad OAK O?
7Buffalo Billsat HOUBills have been solid against run.
8Detroit Lionsat NYJGeno still prone to the big mistakes.
9Baltimore Ravensvs. CARPanthers struggling to run the ball.
10Indianapolis Coltsvs. TENTitans could have new QB under center.
11San Francisco 49ersvs. PHIEagles' up-tempo attack next tough test.
12New Orleans Saintsat DALSaints have forced just 1 turnover so far.
13Atlanta Falconsat MIN8 PA, 3 sacks, 5 takeaways, 2 TDs vs. TB.
14Kansas City Chiefsvs. NE (Mon.)Patriots' O not clicking on all cylinders.
15Washington Redskinsvs. NYGRedskins' D pleasant surprise, but pretty banged up.
16Chicago Bearsvs. GBBears' D holding up despite rash of injuries.

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

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


Need more fantasy help? Visit

Fantasy Football 2014 Defense/Special Teams Rankings: Week 4
Post date: Thursday, September 25, 2014 - 06:30
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2014-kicker-rankings-week-4

Stephen Gostkowski remains atop Athlon Sports’ Fantasy Football Kicker Rankings for Week 4, but he currently is sixth in fantasy points at the position. The leading scorer is Philadelphia's Cody Parkey, a rookie who wasn't drafted and actually started out in Indianapolis' camp before being traded to the Eagles. He beat out Alex Henery for the starting job and has connected on eight of his first nine field goal attempts, including two of 50 yards or longer. To Gostkowski's credit, he has yet to miss a field goal, hitting all eight of his through three games, half of them coming from between 40-49 yards out. And then there's reliable Adam Vinatieri, who has connected on all 17 of his kicks (11 PATs, 6 FGs). This is no small (ahem) feat for a guy who will turn 42 in December and is in his 19th NFL season, but his consistency and longevity are two big reasons why he currently sits fifth all-time in career points with 2,035.


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.


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


2014 NFL Week 4 Fantasy Football Rankings — Kickers


Teams on bye: Arizona, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Denver, St. Louis, Seattle


1Stephen GostkowskiNEat KC (Mon.)
2Nick NovakSDvs. JAC
3Justin TuckerBALvs. CAR
4Dan BaileyDALvs. NO
5Cody ParkeyPHIat SF
6Adam VinatieriINDvs. TEN
7Matt BryantATLat MIN
8Nick FolkNYJvs. DET
9Shaun SuishamPITvs. TB
10Dan CarpenterBUFat HOU
11Mason CrosbyGBvs. CHI
12Phil DawsonSFvs. PHI
13Robbie GouldCHIvs. GB
14Blair WalshMINvs. ATL
15Shayne GrahamNOat DAL
16Caleb SturgisMIAvs. OAK (London)

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

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

Fantasy Football 2014 Kicker Rankings: Week 4
Post date: Thursday, September 25, 2014 - 06:30
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy Football, waiver wire, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2014-waiver-wire-week-4

It’s Week 4 of the NFL regular season and not only will Miami and Oakland travel across the pond to play in London, but the byes are upon us! Arizona, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Denver, St. Louis and Seattle all get a breather, putting a lot of offensive (and defensive for that matter) firepower on the bench. This coupled with more injuries to significant players means another busy week for the waiver wire.


And in that respect Athlon Sports is here to help you sort through some of the potential free agent options. The players listed in our weekly fantasy football waiver wire may be one-week adds, some may be worth holding on to all season long and some are of the “sleeper” variety that you may simply want to keep an eye on.


Teams on bye in Week 4: Arizona, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Denver, St. Louis and Seattle




Week 3 Recap: Kirk Cousins looked pretty comfortable leading Washington’s offense, leading all quarterbacks in Week 3 with 427 yards passing. He also tossed three touchdowns and just one interception in his first start this season. Cousins is definitely a worthy bye-week fill-in if not borderline every-week starter as long as Robert Griffin III remains sidelined.


Eli Manning, New York Giants

After throwing more interceptions (4) than touchdowns (3) in the first two games, Manning was mistake-free in the Giants’ win over previously undefeated Houston. Manning completed 21 of 28 passes for 234 yards and two scores and has now put up back-to-back respectable games. It looks like he and his teammates are getting more comfortable in the new offense with each game. Next up for Manning and the Giants is a Thursday night date with Washington, who gave up 325 yards and three TDs to Nick Foles on Sunday. He may have dropped out of the circle of trust as an every-week starter, but Manning should definitely be on the radar if your starting QB is on bye this week.


Alex Smith, QB, Kansas City Chiefs

There are some rookies (Blake Bortles, Teddy Bridgewater) out there slated to make their first career starts in Week 4 as well as some other “veteran” options (Mike Glennon, Austin Davis), but let’s give the “old” man on the block some credit shall we? Playing behind an offensive line that lost three starters this offseason and with a lack of established weapons compared to other teams, Smith has continued to get the job done. He may not throw for a ton of yards, but he generally takes care of the football (no turnovers since Week 1) and can make plays with both his arm (3 TD passes Sunday vs. Miami) and legs (78 yards rushing in three games). The Chiefs get the Patriots on Monday night at home, and while it may not be an ideal matchup would you rather trust a guy who has gotten the job done before or a young quarterback still getting his feet wet as a professional?


Running Backs


Week 3 Recap: Knile Davis stepped in admirably for an injured Jamaal Charles, rushing for 132 yards and a touchdown on 32 carries in the win against Miami. Charles may be back from his high ankle sprain sooner rather than later, so just keep that in mind. Bobby Rainey got off to a tough start against Atlanta and fumbled twice, but the Buccaneers stuck with him and he finished with 105 total yards on 18 touches. How much work he gets this week against Pittsburgh will depend largely on Doug Martin’s (missed last week because of ankle injury) health. Jeremy Hill scored another touchdown in what was an otherwise quiet (7 att., 39 yds.) afternoon. Matt Asiata struggled in the run game (12 att., 35 yds.), but was somewhat of a factor again in the passing game (3 rec., 36 yds.).  


Ahmad Bradshaw, Indianapolis Colts

Trent Richardson is still getting his chances, but Bradshaw is clearly an active part of this Colts offense. Through three games he already has three touchdown catches and also is averaging 5.3 yards per carry. Bradshaw is averaging more than 10 touches per game and if the Colts’ offense continues to produce, the veteran should as well. Bradshaw may be No. 2 on the depth chart (for now), but he’s currently seventh in fantasy points at his position.


Donald Brown, San Diego Chargers

Ryan Mathews is expected to miss about a month with a sprained MCL. Danny Woodhead was going to be a factor, especially as a receiver, but he went on injured reserve this week with a broken leg. That leaves Brown to handle the bulk of the workload. To that end, he got a whopping 31 carries against Buffalo on Sunday. And while he may not have picked up a ton of yards (62), any back that sees that many carries is valuable. Brown also caught five passes for 27 yards, so his versatility only increases his fantasy potential moving forward.


Roy Helu, Washington Redskins

Alfred Morris left Sunday’s loss to Philadelphia with a knee injury (which he got running into his own quarterback), but he was able to return. That said, with a short turnaround to get ready for the Thursday night game against the Giants, it’s possible that Helu could see more touches than usual. Helu got just two on Sunday, but one was a 55-yard reception and the other resulted in a one-yard rushing touchdown. Helu is already a part of Jay Gruden’s offense, but his role figures to increase if Morris is limited by the knee injury.


Lorenzo Taliaferro, Baltimore Ravens

Bernard Pierce was scratched prior to kickoff because of a thigh injury. Justin Forsett got 11 carries and five targets (65 total yards), but it was Taliaferro, the Ravens’ fourth-round pick who got the most work. An unheralded rookie from FCS member Coastal Carolina, Taliaferro rushed for 91 yards on 18 carries (5.1 ypc) and his first NFL touchdown in the win over Cleveland. Obviously Pierce’s health will dictate Taliaferro’s role moving forward, but it looks like the rookie may be on his way to at least moving past Forsett on the depth chart, if he hasn’t passed him already.


Wide Receivers


Week 3 Recap: Mohamed Sanu was up to his usual tricks against Tennessee, connecting with Andy Dalton on a touchdown pass. Sanu also caught five passes for 44 yards, but he’s on bye this week and the Bengals could get Marvin Jones back in Week 5. James Jones was third on the team in targets (5) Sunday against New England, but he still led the team in receiving with 43 yards on three catches. On the other hand, Rueben Randle was targeted a team-high 10 times against Houston, but he hauled in just five of those for a mere 27 yards. 


Malcom Floyd and Eddie Royal, San Diego Chargers

Royal (12-131-2) has better numbers than Floyd (6-148-1) to this point, but I prefer the latter over the former long term. For one, Keenan Allen is the Chargers wide receiver you want to own, but he’s gotten off to a slow start (12-109-0) because of a combination of competition (first two games were against Arizona and Seattle) and a groin injury that hampered him on Sunday against Buffalo. While Allen is limited, Royal figures to benefit the most since he’s been a reliable red zone target for Rivers. However, Royal is as streaky as they come – of his eight touchdowns last season, five of those came in the first two games – whereas Floyd is a legitimate vertical threat (24.7 ypc). With so many wide receivers on bye either Floyd or Royal are viable fill-in candidates, but be wary of the boom-or-bust potential with each.


Devin Hester, Atlanta Falcons

To be fair, Hester has a total of seven receptions on eight targets. But he’s turned those opportunties into 126 yards (18.0 ypc) and he also took his first rushing attempt of the season 20 yards for a touchdown against Tampa Bay on Thursday. Roddy White (hamstring) didn’t play against the Bucs while Harry Douglas injured his foot. The Falcons have used the most four-wide receiver sets of any team this season, so if anything it looks like Hester will continue to get chances. It’s just a matter of what he does with them. Hester’s return skills (28.0 yards per kickoff return, 15.2 ypr on punts and a TD) only add to his appeal in those leagues that include special teams contributions in their scoring.


Hakeem Nicks, Indianapolis Colts

Nicks is tied for fifth on the team in targets (12), but he and Andrew Luck have connected on 10 of those for 82 yards and two touchdowns. Remember Nicks was targeted 102 times last season with the Giants, catching 56 of them yet he didn’t get into the end zone once. If this connection continues to produce results, chances are pretty good that Luck may start to look Nicks’ way a little more. The Colts’ offense rolled up some ridiculous numbers against Jacksonville on Sunday and could be in for another big day this week when they host Tennessee.

Allen Robinson and Cecil Shorts, Jacksonville Jaguars

Robinson is one of a trio of talented rookie wide receivers the Jaguars are employing. Second-round pick Marqise Lee carries the most upside, but he missed Sunday’s game because of a hamstring injury. It’s the same type of injury that kept Shorts (right) off of the field the first two games. Robinson and Shorts tied for the team lead in targets (10 each) against Indianapolis with the rookie tops in catches (7) and yards (79) while the veteran scored a touchdown. Robinson’s snap count has risen each game, and even when Lee returns he seems a safe bet to stay involved in the passing game. Shorts meanwhile was Jacksonville’s leading receiver last season (66-777-3) and I don’t really expect that to change despite the fact that first-round pick Blake Bortles has been given the starting quarterback job. Moving forward, I prefer Shorts and then Lee, but the latter’s hamstring injury will only help Robinson and Week 2 waiver wire wonder Allen Hurns, who caught his third touchdown pass on Sunday, remain fantasy relevant too.


Tight Ends


Week 3 Recap: Niles Paul remained active (9 targets, 6 rec., 68 yds.) for Washington while Larry Donnell (6 rec., 45 yds.) posted his lowest numbers of the season. In both cases, these tight ends were not as productive as their team’s respective wide receivers, something that bears watching moving forward.


Owen Daniels, Baltimore Ravens

Dennis Pitta dislocated his hip on Sunday against Cleveland. Unfortunately it’s the same hip that he fractured last summer that wiped out most of his 2013 season. While the full extent of his latest injury is not yet known, it’s safe to assume we probably won’t see Pitta again this season. Daniels will take over as the Ravens’ primary tight end and his familiarity with offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak doesn’t hurt. Daniels caught two touchdown passes in Week 2, but has just five catches for 42 yards in the other two games. Daniels isn’t a “safe” every-week starting TE1, not yet, but he certainly is an appealing fill-in option.

Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs

Kelce’s snap count has been on the rise each game and that’s a good sign for this young, talented tight end. A player that generated some preseason buzz because of his combination of size and athleticism, Kelce has caught at least three passes each game and is averaging 16.6 yards per reception. He also hauled in his first touchdown of the season against Miami. If the playing time stays consistent and the results keep coming, Kelce could enter the TE1 discussion shortly.


Defense/Special Teams


Week 3 Recap: Washington followed up its 10-sack, 10 PA effort against Jacksonville by coughing up 37 points and 379 total yards to Philadelphia, with no sacks and just one takeaway. The Redskins get the Giants on Thursday night for those interested in taking another chance on this DST.


San Diego Chargers
Through three games the Chargers are tied for fourth in the NFL in points allowed (16.3 ppg). This defense has done a good job getting to the quarterback (7 sacks) and forcing some turnovers (3 fumbles). Next up is a visit from a Jacksonville team that has lost its past two games by a combined score of 85-27 and has given up 14 sacks and committed four turnovers during that same span. And besides making the cross-country trip to face the Chargers, Blake Bortles will be making his first career start at quarterback for the Jags. What’s not to like here?


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

Fantasy Football 2014 Waiver Wire: Week 4
Post date: Tuesday, September 23, 2014 - 10:00
All taxonomy terms: Chicago Bears, New York Jets, NFL, News
Path: /nfl/chicago-bears-vs-new-york-jets-game-preview-and-prediction

Teams that were on the opposite sides of comebacks last week will put the finishing touches on Week 3 when the Chicago Bears take on the New York Jets on ESPN’s “Monday Night Football.” Chicago trailed by 17 points in San Francisco last week before Jay Cutler rallied his troops to an improbable 28-20 win in the first-ever game at Levi’s Stadium. New York built an 18-point lead on Green Bay at Lambeau Field only to watch Aaron Rodgers and Jordy Nelson bring the Packers all the way back and win 31-24.


The Bears have beaten the Jets the last three times these two teams have played, the most recent a 38-34 victory in Chicago in 2010.


Chicago Bears at New York Jets


Kickoff: 8:30 p.m. ET

TV Channel: ESPN

Spread: New York -2.5


Three Things to Watch


1. A Funny Thing Happened in the Second Quarter…

The second quarter last week proved to be the turning point for both Chicago and New York in their respective matchups. The Bears trailed San Francisco 17-0 with a little more than two minutes until halftime in front of a raucous, sold-out crowd in the 49ers’ first-ever game at Levi’s Stadium. The Jets raced out to a 21-3 lead on Green Bay less than five minutes into the second quarter in front of a stunned Packer fan base at Lambeau Field. After that, however, the momentum dramatically shifted, taking the direction of each game with it. In San Francisco, Jay Cutler and the Bears took full advantage of counterpart Colin Kaepernick’s four turnovers, as the visitors scored three touchdowns in the fourth quarter to shock the 49ers 28-20. In Green Bay, the Packers turned things around quickly, scoring 21 unanswered points before putting the Jets away thanks to an Aaron Rodgers-to-Jordy Nelson 80-yard touchdown. The comeback victory wasn’t secure, however, until a potential game-tying touchdown pass from Geno Smith to Jeremy Kerley was negated due to an inopportune timeout called from the Jets’ sideline. The chaos of that fateful series only added to the sting the Jets felt afterwards knowing they let a golden opportunity to get a huge road win slip away. The Bears meanwhile enter this game riding high with the confidence gained from coming back last week on the road against a playoff team, especially since it followed a lackluster performance in their season-opening overtime loss to the Bills at home. NFL players are taught to have short memories, but one can’t help but wonder if what transpired last week will carry over into tonight, whether that be in a negative or positive way.


2. Monday Night is Geno’s Night?

Now in his second pro season, Jets starting quarterback Geno Smith is 9-9 in 18 career starts with an unimpressive 14:23 touchdown-to-interception ratio. The good news for Smith, and hopefully his team and Jets fans, is that the young signal-caller is 1-0 on Monday nights. Last season, Smith and the Jets traveled to Atlanta to face the Falcons in Week 5. Taking the “Monday Night Football” national stage for the first time, Smith put together by far the best game of his short career. Even though he finished with just 199 passing yards, Smith completed 80 percent of his passes (16 of 20) and tossed a career-best three touchdowns with no interceptions. To put this into perspective, consider that in his 17 other starts, Smith has thrown twice as many picks (23) as touchdowns (11). New York would beat Atlanta 30-28 on a 43-yard field goal by Nick Folk as time expired, and the win still stands as Smith’s high-water mark thus far. Case in point: over the next seven games after the win in Atlanta, Smith completed less than half of his passes and posted an ugly 1:11 TD:INT ratio, along with two rushing scores and two lost fumbles. Not surprisingly, the Jets went 2-5 during this stretch. With consistent play clearly being an issue for Smith, the question becomes can he rediscover the form he flashed on this same stage nearly a year ago and run his Monday night record to 2-0?


3. Chicago’s Offensive Forté

Last week was all about Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall, as the Bears’ quarterback-wide receiver tandem produced three of the four touchdowns scored against the 49ers. Marshall isn’t the only weapon at Cutler’s disposal, however, as fellow wideout Alshon Jeffery (1,421 yards, 7 TDs in 2013) and tight end Martellus Bennett (2 TDs this season) are equally capable targets. That said, the primary engine to Chicago’s offense is running back Matt Forté. A 1,000-yard rusher who also is one of the NFL’s most dangerous receivers out of the backfield, Forté amassed 1,933 yards from scrimmage, caught 74 passes and scored 12 total touchdowns last season. The two-time Pro Bowler has gotten off to a slow start thus far, with just 205 total yards and no touchdowns after two games. San Francisco did a really good job of bottling Forté up last week (29 total yards on 17 carries) and that will be New York’s challenge tonight. To their credit, the Jets have been very good in both facets of the running game, leading the NFL in both rushing offense (179.0 ypg) and defense (52.5 ypg). Chicago has proven it can win without a significant contribution from its do-everything back, but when the Bears get Forté going early, it only makes this fast-paced, attacking offense that much more dangerous.


Final Analysis


Chicago enters this one with plenty of momentum following last week’s comeback win in San Francisco. New York is still picking up the pieces of the golden opportunity it let slip by after coughing up a big lead at Green Bay and then getting in its own way late in the game. The Bears’ offense clicked late against the 49ers and that’s without any significant contribution from Matt Forté. The Jets have a good defense, have been running the ball extremely well, and are generally a tough out at home, but I think the Bears have too much size and too much firepower on offense for Rex Ryan’s team to contend with. Geno Smith and the Jets hang tough, but Jay Cutler connects on some big plays in the second half, as Chicago carries over its road success from one coast to the other.

Prediction: Chicago 27, New York 20
Chicago Bears vs. New York Jets Game Preview and Prediction
Post date: Monday, September 22, 2014 - 10:00
Path: /nfl/san-francisco-49ers-vs-arizona-cardinals-game-preview-and-prediction

Early control of the NFC West is on the line when San Francisco and Arizona get together this afternoon on FOX. The 49ers (1-1) will try and rebound after last week’s discouraging loss to the Bears in the first-ever game at their new stadium. The Cardinals (2-0) have gotten off to a hot start, as they have been able to succeed despite dealing with a rash of injuries on both sides of the ball.


San Francisco has won the last four meetings between these division rivals and holds a 28-17 lead in the series.


San Francisco 49ers at Arizona Cardinals


Kickoff: 4:05 p.m. ET

TV Channel: FOX

Spread: San Francisco -3


Three Things to Watch


1. Kaepernick’s Mulligan?

At 26 years old, Colin Kaepernick is in just his second season as San Francisco’s starting quarterback yet he’s already accomplished quite a bit. He’s played in one Super Bowl and consecutive NFC title games. He holds the record for most rushing yards by a quarterback in a single game when he ran for 181 (on 16 carries) against Green Bay in a 2012 playoff game. He also signed a six-year, $126 million contract extension in June, cementing his status as one of the top young quarterbacks in the league and a franchise player for the 49ers. But like any other signal-caller still learning his craft, Kaepernick has experienced his share of struggles. One of his lowest points of his career came last week when he threw three interceptions and lost a fumble in a 28-20 loss to Chicago. To make matters worse, the 49ers led 17-0 at one point and it was the first game played in brand-new Levi’s Stadium. Turnovers fueled the Bears’ fourth-quarter comeback and to his credit, Kaepernick claimed full responsibility for his mistakes, describing his play as “terrible.” But that was last week and fortunately for Kaepernick, he has been successful in his previous starts against Arizona, going 3-0. In those games he has completed 58.2 percent of his passes with six touchdowns, one interception and one lost fumble. As poorly as he played last week, Kaepernick’s in no danger of losing his job. However, now’s the chance for Kaepernick to show both his team and his critics his toughness and resolve by bouncing back and not letting one poor game carry over to the next, especially since this is a divisional contest.


2. Playing D Out in the Desert

Even though they missed the playoffs last season, the Cardinals won 10 games despite playing in the tough NFC West. Part of the reason for their success was a defense that finished seventh or better in the NFL in five major categories, including leading the league in rushing defense (84.4 ypg). The hope was that this defense would be a team strength yet again and that has been the case through two games, although not under “normal” circumstances. Before the season even started, the Cardinals experienced three major losses. Linebacker and leading tackler Karlos Dansby departed via free agency, fellow linebacker Daryl Washington was suspended for the entire year for another violation of the league’s substance-abuse policy, and Pro Bowl defensive end Darnell Dockett tore his ACL during training camp. Despite these key personnel losses, Arizona’s defense has stood strong, ranking third in rush defense (66.5 ypg) and yielding a total of 31 points in wins over San Diego and the New York Giants. San Francisco will present a new challenge with a strong running game and a potentially potent passing attack, but thus far the Cardinals’ defense has been up to the task, despite being shorthanded.


3. Cardinals’ Offense Ready to Take Flight?

Arizona has relied heavily on its defense through the first two games, as the offense has had to deal with some injury issues of its own. While the Cardinals have allowed 15.5 points per game, the offense has managed just 21.5. Running back Andre Ellington, a popular breakout candidate entering his second season, has been playing with a partially torn tendon in his foot, while quarterback Carson Palmer missed last week with a nerve issue in his shoulder. Ellington has still been effective, averaging 5.1 yards per carry, but the injury has limited his touches (34 total in two games). Meanwhile backup Drew Stanton did his job filling in for Palmer against the Giants, but he finished with just 167 yards passing and no touchdowns (albeit no turnovers either). Stanton will get the start again this afternoon, as Palmer has been relegated to backup duty (if he plays at all) because of what is being described as a bruised nerve in his throwing shoulder. Stanton did what was necessary to help his team win the the game last week, but San Francisco figures to be a tougher opponent. Arizona's shorthanded defense has been able to get the job done thus far, can the offense follow in its footsteps this afternoon?


Final Analysis


Arizona is undefeated and San Francisco is licking its wounds after a tough opening loss in its new stadium. Neither team is at full strength, as the Cardinals have weathered injuries to key players on both sides of the ball and the 49ers are without two All-Pros on defense. Arizona’s shorthanded defense has gotten the job done to this point, but with Carson Palmer unable to start a second straight game because of a nerve issue in his shoulder and Andre Ellington’s lingering foot issue, I’m worried the Cardinals are just outmanned against the 49ers. San Francisco’s defense has held up well thus far too and the offense has not yet found its rhythm. This will be a typical NFC West tilt in that it will be hard-fought, physical and most likely go down to the wire. But in the end, I like Colin Kaepernick to bounce back from last week’s turnover-marred performance and help lead his team to an important divisional win on the road.

Prediction: San Francisco 23, Arizona 20
San Francisco 49ers vs. Arizona Cardinals Game Preview and Prediction
Post date: Sunday, September 21, 2014 - 10:00
All taxonomy terms: Denver Broncos, Seattle Seahawks, NFL, News
Path: /nfl/denver-broncos-vs-seattle-seahawks-game-preview-and-prediction

It’s the rare Super Bowl rematch everyone’s been waiting for when Denver and Seattle face off this afternoon on CBS. The Broncos (2-0) enter this game plenty motivated after two less-than-stellar efforts and memories of their 43-8 Super Bowl XLVIII drubbing still fresh. The Seahawks (1-1) return home to the friendly confines of CenturyLink Field with the intent of not only showing Denver they are still the best team in the NFL, but also putting last week’s discouraging road loss to the Chargers behind them.


For historical perspective, this will be just the sixth time teams that played in the Super Bowl will face each other the next season. The last time it happened was during the 1997 season when Green Bay matched up against New England. The Packers beat the Patriots in Super Bowl XXXI and also claimed victory the following season. Can Seattle “sweep” Denver in the same fashion?


Denver Broncos at Seattle Seahawks


Kickoff: 4:25 p.m. ET

TV Channel: CBS

Spread: Seattle -4.5


Three Things to Watch


1. Denver Takes A Page from San Diego’s Playbook?

The Chargers did what the Broncos couldn’t — beat the Seahawks — and don’t be surprised if Denver takes a page or two from its AFC West rival’s playbook. San Diego dominated time of possession against Seattle, holding the ball for 42:15. Besides keeping Russell Wilson, Marshawn Lynch and the rest of the offense on the sideline, this ball control display also helped wear down the Seahawks’ defense, especially on a 90-plus-degree afternoon in San Diego. Denver’s offense is certainly capable of making the quick strike, but Peyton Manning and company may be better served by putting together extended drives. The Chargers also nearly doubled up the Seahawks in terms of first downs (26 to 14), a statistic that was helped by converting 10 of 17 third down opportunities. Ball security of course is important, and Phillip Rivers and his teammates didn’t commit a single turnover. And while Rivers did a good job of spreading the ball around to six different receivers, he and tight end Antonio Gates did most of the damage. The longstanding duo hooked up seven times, three of those connections resulting in touchdowns. Manning has his own dangerous tight end in Julius Thomas, who is tied for the NFL lead with four touchdown catches through two games. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery; so don’t be shocked if Denver’s game plan looks a lot like San Diego’s this afternoon.


2. Seahawks’ D vs. Broncos’ O Take Two

Back in February, Seattle’s vaunted defense got the better of Denver’s record-setting offense, holding the Broncos to a single touchdown and 306 total yards. While some of the faces on each respective unit have changed, the main cast of characters remain. Will there be any sort of Super Bowl carryover that allows the Seahawks to continue their dominance or are the Broncos ready to flip the script, and the results, on the reigning world champions on their own turf? Seattle figures to stick to the game plan that worked for them the first time – dominate Denver physically, run the ball effectively to set up the pass, and apply consistent pressure to disrupt the Broncos’ passing game and their offensive tempo. Denver meanwhile hopes its restocked offensive line (All-Pro left tackle Chris Clady did not play in the Super Bowl because of injury) and a more balanced attack will have more success moving the ball and scoring points. This also will be the first game that Peyton Manning will have his full complement of weapons with wide receiver Wes Welker returning from suspension. How quickly Welker finds his rhythm in the offense, remains to be seen, but Manning won’t lack for options to try and get the better of the “Legion of Boom” this time around. Can the Broncos do what the Chargers did and “expose” Richard Sherman and his cohorts?


3. Litmus Test for Denver’s Revamped D

In many ways this is the game that Broncos general manager John Elway went on his offseason free-agent spending spree for. Even though Seattle’s defense got most of the credit for beating Denver so handily in the Super Bowl, the Broncos’ defense had its share of issues in that game. Elway knew he needed to beef up his defense if he wanted to take some of the pressure off of Peyton Manning and the offense and put a more balanced team on the field. That’s why Elway added pass-rush specialist DeMarcus Ware, lockdown cornerback Aqib Talib and physical safety T.J. Ward to his roster. Those three along with linebacker Von Miller didn’t face this Seahawks offense in February, and Elway and head coach John Fox are hoping they can be difference-makers this afternoon. This revamped unit is still finding its way, however, as evidenced by its struggles in getting off of the field and committing penalties last week. Denver’s defense allowed Kansas City to convert on third down on five different occasions when the yards to go were eight or longer, including a third and 20. The Broncos also were called for eight defensive penalties against the Chiefs, four of which resulted in first downs. Denver’s defense clearly needs to continue to gel and clean up its mistakes, but the question everyone is asking is has Elway’s defensive moves leveled the playing field against the defending Super Bowl champs or is the gap still as big as it was back in February?


Final Analysis


A rare Super Bowl rematch could also end up as a Super Bowl preview. Regardless of how this season turns out, this game has been circled on everyone’s calendars ever since the schedule was announced. For Seattle, this is an opportunity for the Seahawks to demonstrate their dominance once again, this time in front of their beloved and boisterous “12th Man.” Denver meanwhile is tasked with trying to defeat a team that not only soundly whipped it earlier this year, but also one that’s playing at home with the support of the loudest fan base in the NFL.


The Broncos have made some changes on both sides of the ball, gets a big weapon back in Wes Welker, and still has Peyton Manning at quarterback and a wealth of talent throughout their roster. The Seahawks are coming off of a loss, but motivation won’t be an issue for this game, and this team has basically been unbeatable at home dating back to last season. Don’t expect another blowout, but Russell Wilson shows why he belongs in the elite quarterback conversation by leading his team to another victory over Manning and the Broncos.

Prediction: Seattle 30, Denver 28
Denver Broncos vs. Seattle Seahawks Game Preview and Prediction
Post date: Sunday, September 21, 2014 - 10:00
Path: /nfl/pittsburgh-steelers-vs-carolina-panthers-game-preview-and-prediction

Teams that follow similar blueprints will face off against each other when Pittsburgh takes on Carolina tonight on NBC. The Steelers (1-1) and Panthers (2-0) are somewhat carbon copies in that they are defensive-oriented teams who have big quarterbacks calling the shots on offense. Pittsburgh is coming off of a lopsided road loss to AFC North rival Baltimore, while Carolina stifled Detroit’s offense last week to seize control of the NFC South.


This is just the sixth meeting all-time between these two teams. After losing the first matchup, Pittsburgh has won the past four by an average margin of 21 points. The last meeting was back in 2010 when Ben Roethlisberger threw for 320 yards and a touchdown in the easy 27-3 home victory. This will be Cam Newton’s first time facing the Steelers.


Pittsburgh Steelers at Carolina Panthers


Kickoff: 8:30 p.m. ET

TV Channel: NBC

Spread: Carolina -3.5


Three Things to Watch


1. Getting Defensive

Pittsburgh’s reputation as a defensive team is well known, going all the way back to the days of the original Steel Curtain. However, the Steelers’ defense has slipped somewhat in recent seasons and is off to another slow start in 2014. Carolina meanwhile broke through defensively in a big way in 2013, finishing second in the NFL in both yards and points allowed. The Panthers have built on this success, holding their first two opponents (Buccaneers and Lions) to less than 294 yards and 10.5 points per game. While Pittsburgh has undergone a youth movement on defense, Carolina has a front seven that matches up with any in the league, led by reigning Defensive Player of the Year linebacker Luke Kuechly. With the Panthers’ defense playing as well as it has and given Carolina’s issues on offense, this figures to be a low-scoring game. The defenses will likely dictate the outcome and while it may be too much to expect Pittsburgh to out-perform Carolina’s defense on its own turf; the Steelers still need to make enough plays on that side of the ball to give their offense a fighting chance.


2. Cam Can’t Do It All Alone

Carolina has a championship-caliber defense, there’s no disputing that, but in order for this team to be considered a legitimate contender in the NFC, the offense will have do its part. And with apologies to Derek Anderson, the success of the offense falls on the shoulders of one player – Cam Newton. After missing the season opener with bruised ribs, Newton returned and helped lead his team to a convincing 24-7 victory over Detroit. Working behind a retooled offensive line and throwing to a practically brand-new receiving corps, Newton completed 22 of 34 passes for 281 yards and a touchdown. The bigger concern with Newton right now is making sure his bruised ribs don’t get any worse. One way to do this is to not ask him to not make as many plays with his legs. Against the Lions, Newton ran the ball just four time for 19 yards. Unfortunately, that was good enough for second on the team and he also was sacked five times. Starting running back DeAngelo Williams didn’t play last week because of a thigh injury and Jonathan Stewart managed just 37 yards rushing on 15 carries in his absence. Through two games, Panther running backs have combined for 135 yards rushing on 49 carries. That’s an average of less than three yards (2.8 ypc to be exact) per attempt. That’s not going to get the job done, even against a team like Pittsburgh, who gave up 157 yards on the ground to Baltimore last week. Carolina’s offensive line is a work in progress and the receiving corps also needs more time to gel and develop chemistry. That means it is critical that the Panthers’ running game picks up some of the slack. And without asking an already banged-up quarterback to do the heavy lifting.


3. Molding the Steelers’ Offense

In the season opener, Pittsburgh piled up 503 yards of offense and 30 points behind its superstar trio of Ben Roethlisberger (365 yards passing), Le’Veon Bell (197 total yards, including 109 rushing), and Antonio Brown (five receptions for 116 yards and a TD). Compare that to last week’s offensive output against Baltimore (301 yards, two field goals), as the Ravens pushed the Steelers around up front on both sides of the ball. The 26-6 score could have been much worse considering Baltimore had to settle for field goals on four separate trips into the red zone. Comparatively speaking, Pittsburgh’s collection of offensive weapons is better than Carolina’s. The problem is the Steelers have a much tougher task ahead of them in trying to solve and move the ball against the Panthers’ stout defense. Roethlisberger, Bell and Brown will lead the charge, but supporting players like wide receiver Markus Wheaton, tight end Heath Miller, running back LeGarrette Blount and of course the offensive line, will have to do their part as well. Pittsburgh could receive an additional boost with the expected debut of veteran wideout Lance Moore and the possible return of all-purpose back Dri Archer. The bottom line is that points figure to be hard to come by tonight, so Big Ben and company need to make the most of their limited opportunities if they want any chance of leaving Bank of America Stadium with a win.


Final Analysis


Pittsburgh and Carolina are mirror images of each other in many ways, so this should be an entertaining cross-conference matchup. The Panthers have become one of the toughest teams to beat at home, thanks in large part to a stingy defense. The Steelers are coming off of a tough divisional loss on the road, and even though the extra rest gained from playing a Thursday night game will benefit them, I don’t believe this is the best timing for them to play the Panthers. Pittsburgh will continue to get better as the season progresses, as a young defense continues to gel and the offense finds its rhythm. But as far as tonight goes, Carolina’s defense is just too tough and Cam Newton and the offense make just enough plays to stay perfect on the season.

Prediction: Carolina 24, Pittsburgh 20
Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Carolina Panthers Game Preview and Prediction
Post date: Sunday, September 21, 2014 - 10:00
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy Football, injury updates, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-week-3-injury-updates-keenan-allen-alshon-jeffery-brandon-marshall-eric

A trio of wide receivers are Questionable for the Monday night finale in Week 3, while a couple of others may not be on the field when action kicks off this afternoon. Read all the latest information on these injury situations and others below.


Alshon Jeffery and Brandon Marshall, WRs, Chicago Bears at New York Jets (Mon.)

Questionable – Hamstring; Questionable – Ankle
Just like last week, Jeffery and Marshall are Questionable. But last week there definitely was more concern one or both would miss the game against San Francisco than there is entering their Monday night matchup with the Jets. And last week both not only played, each also contributed to the comeback win over the 49ers, especially Marshall (3 TD catches). The hamstring and ankle continue to be an issue for the duo, but both were able to practice to some degree. Based on what happened last week, I would be surprised if both didn’t at least start the game. That doesn’t mean there isn’t any risk in keeping them in your lineup though. For one, the Monday night factor alone means you pretty much have to make up your mind before this game is even played. That said, New York’s suspect secondary is certainly an appealing matchup for these two rangy targets, so as long as you understand the risk and are OK with it, I would grin and (ahem) bear it with Jeffery and Marshall.


Keenan Allen, WR, San Diego Chargers at Buffalo Bills

Questionable - Groin

Allen was added to the injury report following Thursday’s practice after injuring his groin. He was limited on Friday and is listed as Questionable to face the Bills. Allen has gotten off to a slow start, but the Chargers’ first games have been against Arizona and Seattle, arguably two of the top secondaries in the NFL. Unless this injury gets worse, Allen’s numbers should only get better. Keep an eye on his status leading up to kickoff (1 p.m. ET), but if he plays, I would keep Allen in my lineup.


Eric Decker, WR, New York Jets vs. Chicago Bears (Mon.)

Questionable - Hamstring
Decker has contributed immediately to his new team, leading the Jets in every receiving category, so they can ill afford to be without him. A hamstring injury kept him out of practice until Saturday and has him officially listed as Questionable for the Monday night game. Most likely, Decker will be a game-time decision, but if you have him on your roster you need to make the decision sooner. Even though Decker is the Jets’ No. 1 wide receiver, he’s not putting up huge (9-137-1) numbers. If you have the depth, it might be best to leave Decker on your bench this week just in case he’s unable to go on Monday night.


Sammy Watkins and Robert Woods, WR, Buffalo Bills vs. San Diego Chargers

Probable – Ribs; Probable – Ankle
EJ Manuel’s top two targets both appear on the injury report this week. Watkins still hasn’t completely recovered from the bruised ribs he suffered during the preseason, while Woods has been dealing with an ankle injury. Both are listed as Probable although Woods was only a limited participant in practice on Friday. Watkins is the more appealing fantasy option and the rookie enjoyed a breakout game (8-117-1) last week. Watkins is a clear-cut WR2 option, but I would exercise extreme caution with Woods. He’s only caught five passes for 83 yards thus far and it’s possible his ankle flares up during warmups or the coaching staff decides to sit him. At best, Woods is no more than a flex option in deeper leagues.

DeSean Jackson, WR, Washington Redskins at Philadelphia Eagles

Questionable – Shoulder
Jackson left last week’s game early with a shoulder injury and is considered Questionable for today’s game. He was able to practice some, which helps his chances, and there’s the added motivation of playing against his former team who unceremoniously dumped him this offseason. Even if he plays, Jackson figures to be limited while his impact with his new team has been minimal thus far. There’s nothing wrong with waiting to make a decision, but if you do decide to roll with Jackson be sure to temper your expectations.

Fantasy Football Week 3 Injury Updates: Keenan Allen, Alshon Jeffery, Brandon Marshall, Eric Decker, DeSean Jackscon
Post date: Sunday, September 21, 2014 - 06:30
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy Football, injury updates, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-week-3-injury-updates-tony-romo-colin-kaepernick-carson-palmer

Back, shoulder, thigh and ankle are the injuries that several high-profile quarterbacks are dealing with entering Week 3. Are any of these injuries severe enough to threaten their playing status?

Colin Kaepernick, QB, San Francisco 49ers at Arizona Cardinals

Probable – Back
Kaepernick first appeared on the injury report Thursday, but he was a full practice participant then and also on Friday. He’s listed as Probable so there doesn’t appear to be much to his back issue. What’s of more concern, however, is how does Kaepernick bounce back following last week’s home loss to Chicago in which his four turnovers helped the Bears overcome a 17-0 deficit? Arizona’s defense has been pretty stout early on, so it may be wishful thinking to expect Kaepernick to perform like a QB1 this week too.

Tony Romo, QB, Dallas Cowboys at St. Louis Rams

Probable – Back
Romo underwent back surgery this offseason, so anytime that part of his body shows up on the injury report, it’s going to draw some attention. However, there doesn’t appear to be any reason for concern. After sitting out Wednesday’s practice due to tightness in his back, he was a full participant on Thursday and Friday. He’s listed as Probable and it would be a mild surprise if he doesn’t suit up against the Rams. The Cowboys have been effective running the ball thus far, which has limited Romo’s numbers. But unless you have a better option, you should start this Cowboy.


Carson Palmer, QB, Arizona Cardinals vs. San Francisco 49ers

Questionable - Shoulder
Palmer was somewhat of a surprise late scratch last week because of a shoulder injury. What has since been described as a bruised nerve in his right shoulder continues to be a hindrance, as not only is Palmer listed as Questionable for the second straight game, head coach Bruce Arians has already said that Drew Stanton will get the start this afternoon against San Francisco. So even if Palmer does play, it will be as Stanton’s backup. My advice is simple: ignore Cardinal QBs this week.

Shaun Hill, QB, St. Louis Rams vs. Dallas Cowboys

Questionable – Thigh
Hill didn’t play last week and he’s Questionable again with the same thigh injury. He did make some progress in that he was able to do some things in practice, but he will most likely be a “game-time decision” once more. For now, count on Austin Davis to make his second consecutive start and continue to stay away from any and all Ram QBs.


QBs Already Ruled Out:


Robert Griffin III, Washington Redskins – RGIII dislocated his ankle last week and while there was no fracture, it’s not known when he will be able to return to the field. Kirk Cousins will take over and, depending on whom you ask, is considered to be a better fit for Jay Gruden’s system. Cousins impressed (250-2-0) last week after RGIII went down and it’s possible he could provide borderline QB1 production. This week’s start against Philadelphia, in what could be a high-scoring contest, is a good barometer game to gauge Cousins’ fantasy potential moving forward.

Fantasy Football Week 3 Injury Updates: Colin Kaepernick, Tony Romo, Carson Palmer
Post date: Sunday, September 21, 2014 - 06:30
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy Football, injury updates, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /fantasy/week-3-fantasy-football-injury-updates-jamaal-charles-andre-ellington-joique-bell

Another popular running back will play in Week 3 despite a foot injury, while another attempts to give it a go just a week after suffering a high ankle sprain. Those are just some of the running back injuries covered below.


Andre Ellington, RB, Arizona Cardinals vs. San Francisco 49ers

Probable – Foot
The torn tendon in his foot is still an issue, but Ellington has yet to miss a game and was even able to practice on a limited basis Thursday and Friday. After being Questionable last week, Ellington is listed as Probable, so he’s definitely a RB2/flex candidate. The only real question comes down to how many touches will Ellington get? Last week he totaled 101 yards on 16 touches (15 rush, 1 catch), but it was Jonathan Dwyer who got into the end zone. Dwyer has been placed on the reserve/non-football injury list stemming from his recent arrest on assault charges, so he won’t be a factor anytime soon. Hopefully this will be the week that Arians trusts Ellington with a bigger workload.

Jamaal Charles, RB, Kansas City Chiefs at Miami Dolphins

Questionable – Ankle
From “out indefinitely” to practicing to Questionable. It’s already been quite the whirlwind for Charles and his owners, who watched their stud leave last week’s game against Denver in the Chiefs’ first series. Diagnosed with the dreaded high ankle sprain, Charles made a surprise return to practice on Thursday and was back at it on Friday. He’s listed as Questionable for this afternoon’s game, but no one really expected his shot of playing this week to be 50-50 in the first place after the initial prognosis. Still with the late kickoff and, more importantly, the presence of one Knile Davis, I would err on the side of caution when it comes to Charles this week and try and make do without him in your lineup.

Joique Bell, RB, Detroit Lions vs. Green Bay Packers

Probable – Knee
Whatever Bell’s knee injury is, it was serious enough to limit him in practice the entire week. However, he did practice enough to earn the Proabable designation, so there should be no real trepidation in rolling Bell out today as your RB2/RB3/flex. After two games, Bell is seeing more touches than backfield mate Reggie Bush and today’s matchup with Green Bay could develop into a high-scoring affair.


Toby Gerhart, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Indianapolis Colts

Probable – Foot
Gerhart increased his practice participation each day this week, so he should be good to go today. He’s listed as Probable and maybe a matchup with the Colts will help Gerhart finally get on track. After two games, Gerhart has rushed for 50 yards on 25 carries (2.0 ypc). He’s no more than a “safe” flex option until he shows a little more consistent production.


RBs Already Ruled Out:


Mark Ingram, New Orleans Saints – Off to a terrific start (143 yards, 3 TDs), Ingram broke his hand last week and underwent surgery to repair the damage. He’s expected to miss at least a month. In the meantime, while Pierre Thomas’ role as the primary pass-catching back doesn’t figure to change, Khiry Robinson should see an increase in his workload. Thomas is already flex-worthy, especially in PPR leagues, but Robinson could enter that territory himself, if not higher, if he can step in and replace Ingram’s production.


Ryan Mathews, San Diego Chargers – Mathews is expected to miss at least a month after spraining his MCL last week. Danny Woodhead will maintain his role as a receiving threat out of the backfield while Donald Brown should get most of Mathews’ carries. If Brown is able to produce, he could develop into a reliable RB2/flex option.  


Knowshon Moreno, Miami Dolphins – Moreno is out at least a few weeks after dislocating his elbow early last week against Buffalo. He is hoping to return following the team’s Week 5 bye. For now, the starting job will go to Lamar Miller, who hurt his ankle against the Bills, but does not appear on the injury report. Miller’s stock dropped after Moreno exploded in Week 1, but he’ll get a second chance to show he’s capable of providing similar production.


Ben Tate, Cleveland Browns – Tate sprained his knee in Week 1 and hopes to return following the team’s Week 4 bye. In the meantime, rookies Terrance West and Isaiah Crowell will handle the backfield duties. Both are averaging at least 4.8 yards per carry, but West is seeing the bulk of the carries, making him the more appealing fantasy option. Crowell is capable of flex production, but he’s also risky because of the uncertainty related to his workload.

Week 3 Fantasy Football Injury Updates: Jamaal Charles, Andre Ellington, Joique Bell
Post date: Sunday, September 21, 2014 - 06:30