Now that the bruising election is over, President-elect Donald Trump is taking a victory tour through some of the states that handed him the presidency.

Speaking Thursday in Cincinnati, Trump made what might just be an accurate claim: that NFL ratings dove precipitously because of his domination of the election news cycle.

Now that the bruising election is over, President-elect Donald Trump is taking a victory tour through some of the states that handed him the presidency.

Speaking Thursday in Cincinnati, Trump made what might just be an accurate claim: that NFL ratings dove precipitously because of his domination of the election news cycle.

Per USA Today’s For The Win blog:

“One of the announcers from ESPN … Now, they cover football and boxing and everything, right? And he went out and he said, ‘I gotta tell you, that event, last night’ — meaning the election results — ‘was better than any fight, any baseball game, any football game.’

He said, ‘That was the most exciting event I’ve ever seen!’ and it was politics. And then you look at the NFL. Well now they should start recovering. But their ratings were so far down. And you know what the reason was? This. Because this business is tougher than the NFL. The people liked it. Their ratings were down 20 or 21 percent. And it was because of us.”

The numbers support Trump’s claim. Thursday Night Football, for instance, averaged an 8.8 rating during the election cycle, but shot to 14.1 this week when the Cowboys outlasted the Vikings.

Blog Author: 
WEEI

FOXBORO — With one Gronkowski likely done for the season, another was brought back.

The Patriots appear to have re-signed Glenn Gronkowski to the practice squad as he was at practice Friday afternoon. He replaces tight end Kennard Backman, who was missing Thursday and Friday.

FOXBORO — With one Gronkowski likely done for the season, another was brought back.

The Patriots appear to have re-signed Glenn Gronkowski to the practice squad as he was at practice Friday afternoon. He replaces tight end Kennard Backman, who was missing Thursday and Friday.

This will be Glenn’s fourth stint on the Patriots practice squad this season. Most recently he was released on Nov. 30.

The rookie out of Kansas State made the Bills’ opening day roster, but was released on Sept. 12 and signed to the Patriots’ practice squad on Oct. 1.

For more Patriots news, visit weei.com/patriots.

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

rotobahn-logoWelcome to the Week 13 starts and sits. I have plenty of recommendations for both seasonal leagues and for DraftKings. As always, if you are looking for recommendations on players not listed in this space, consult my free lineup rankings over at Rotobahn. They will be fully updated by Saturday night, after final injury reports come out, and they are comprehensive.

I hope you all join Jim Hackett and me for this week’s edition of the Fantasy Football Hour. We’ll be live at 8 a.m. on Sunday morning, and you can listen on WEEI.com if you are a late riser. It’s usually posted on the home page by mid-morning. I’ll also tweet a link to the show once it is up.

Follow @rotobahn on Twitter if you want to keep up with all of our fantasy stuff.

QUARTERBACKS

Start

Drew Brees and Matthew Stafford, Lions at Saints, $7,600 and $7,000, respectively

This is about the game itself to some degree, so I am putting these two together. Obviously, these guys both are strong plays in seasonal leagues. You should feel good if you are starting either one of them. The decision regarding their DraftKings viability is just a tick more complex because of cost. Having said that, I will absolutely be constructing several lineups for both of these quarterbacks and I can sum up my reasoning very easily. The Superdome. The Saints score points at home almost without exception. And the Lions are a team that can play shootout football without much trouble. It’s in Stafford’s DNA. So I want plenty of Superdome action this weekend.

Andrew Luck, Colts at Jets, $7,300

Once again, the reasoning here is easy to sum up. The Jets. They just don’t do enough to stop the pass. Will they hit Andrew Luck? Definitely, but unless they knock him out of the game, he will dust himself off and continue to torch New York’s woeful secondary. Playing Luck is good business in Week 13. He’s an obvious strong play in all seasonal formats and he has a big ceiling on DraftKings.

Colin Kaepernick, 49ers at Bears, $6,100

This is getting boring. I put him here every week as a nice low-cost option and he keeps getting it done. Once again, it’s about his style of play (a running quarterback) and the fact that Chip Kelly’s offense runs more plays than other offenses. Kaepernick will get plenty of carries and passing attempts as well. It’s all about the volume.

Sit

Trevor Siemian, Broncos at Jaguars, $5,100

It’s a tough week for sits at quarterback. I really don’t hate any of the passers this week. That said, Denver is a team to avoid. If Siemian starts, he’s a hit away from getting knocked out, and it’s impossible to trust Paxton Lynch if he starts. Yeah, it’s a bit of a cop-out, but avoid Denver’s quarterback this week.

RUNNING BACKS

Start

David Johnson, Cardinals vs. Washington, $9,500
Le’Veon Bell, Steelers vs. Giants, $9,200

I’m combining these two because the rationale is the same. You play the best players as much as you can. These two backs fit the format perfectly because they can amass big reception totals and because both handle consistently large workloads. Oh yeah, they also are elite talents. Of the backs left on the main Sunday slate, I want to play these two as much as possible. Cost will limit my exposure for sure, but I am jamming them in when I can.

Jordan Howard, Bears vs. 49ers, $7,200

He was a regular on our waiver wire back in September and early October. Look how far our guy has come? He’s now playable — even at a premium price. Why do I like Howard this week? Beyond the fact that he’s good at football, we are back to the Chip Kelly thing. This is going to be a game with a lot of snaps. More snaps lead to more touches, and more touches lead to fantasy production.

Theo Riddick, Lions at Saints, $5,800

He’s in a game that could end up being high scoring, to put it mildly. He plays most of the snaps for the Lions due to Ameer Abdullah’s foot injury. Riddick fits the DraftKings full PPR scoring format perfectly. He has big upside in this game and he’s priced reasonably.

Kenneth Dixon, Ravens vs. Dolphins, $3,700

I’ve been talking up a shift in the Ravens backfield, and I think it’s finally upon us. No disrespect intended to Terrance West, who has run well, but Dixon is this year’s draft pick and he’s now fully healthy — doing the things we saw on his college game film. In Week 12, Dixon finally took the lead in snaps played, and my guess is that he maintains that lead going forward. He should give you RB2 stats this week in PPR leagues and he’s a nice bargain on DraftKings.

Sit

T.J. Yeldon, Jaguars vs. Broncos, $3,700

There will be a temptation here because Yeldon will start and get plenty of action due to Chris Ivory’s injury. The thing is, Yeldon also is banged up, so he will give up plenty of snaps to Denard Robinson. The bigger concern is that Denver’s defense is very good and playing better than it did a few weeks back. Avoid Yeldon unless you are desperate.

WIDE RECEIVERS

Start

T.Y. Hilton, Colts at Jets, $7,600

He will have a great matchup no matter how the Jets choose to defend him. The Colts have speed all over the field and play tons of three-wide sets. They will be a nightmare for the Jets secondary, and Hilton should lead the charge. He is well worth his price tag on Draftkings this week.

Brandin Cooks, Saints vs. Lions, $6,400

First off, you have my apologies and sympathies if you took my advice on Cooks last week. He left a nice dent in my wallet, but this is Week 13, not Week 12. I’m getting back up on the horse and riding, dammit. Cooks has a nice matchup this week, as I see the Lions using shutdown corner Darius Slay more on Michael Thomas.

Willie Snead, Saints vs. Lions, $5,100

This one is a bit more concrete than Cooks because Snead has a more concrete matchup. He ought to be lined up with slot corner Quandre Diggs most of the game, and that is a matchup Snead should dominate with Drew Brees on his side. Snead is a must-start everywhere this week in my book.

Sit

Sammy Watkins, Bills at Raiders, $5,500

Buyer beware here. I love Watkins as a player, but Buffalo is sending hugely confusing signals, and you could end up with nothing if you play Watkins this week. If you want to use him as a contrarian play in DFS, then go for it as long as you understand the risks. In seasonal leagues, you should consider safer choices seriously. It sounds like he may play a small role this week.

TIGHT ENDS

Start

Travis Kelce, Chiefs at Falcons, $4,700

He is, quite simply, mispriced. The tight end position has taken a major hit with both Rob Gronkowski and Jordan Reed out. Kelce is on fire right now, and he is in a good matchup. The Chiefs will have to open things up in this game. While that almost assuredly will lead to defeat, it also should lead to a very nice day for Kelce.

Eric Ebron, Lions at Saints, $3,900

I love him at this price and in this matchup, which I have already gone on about ad nauseam. Ebron has multi-score potential in this game. A season-high fantasy point total would not come as a surprise. He’s a TE1 in seasonal and a potential steal on DraftKings.

Vance McDonald, 49ers at Bears, $2,900

He’s a bargain, and he is playing on a team that is giving him consistent targets. McDonald now is becoming predictable, and I see TE1 stats this week for him or darn close to it. He’s a nice play in 12-team leagues regardless of scoring.

Sit

Dennis Pitta, Ravens vs. Dolphins, $3,100

There are better options. Pitta is a name and he can play for sure, but he’s been dead weight for weeks now, and I am not looking to bet on him with my season on the line. He also lacks the kind of upside you want in your DraftKings lineups. He’s for desperate situations only. He only played 41 out of 68 offensive snaps last week.

Blog Author: 
Peter Davidson

FOXBORO — The Patriots held their final practice before Sunday’s game against the Rams Friday afternoon on the lower field behind Gillette Stadium.

Matthew Slater

Matthew Slater

FOXBORO — The Patriots held their final practice before Sunday’s game against the Rams Friday afternoon on the lower field behind Gillette Stadium.

Four players were not spotted: Rob Gronkowski, Matthew Slater, Woodrow Hamilton and Jordan Richards. Gronkowski, of course, is having back surgery in L.A., while Richards has missed practice all week and thus seems unlikely to play against the Rams.

Slater’s case is interesting as he practiced the first two days of the week after missing last week’s game with a foot injury. Hamilton missed his second straight practice after missing Thursday with an illness.

After missing Wednesday, Tom Brady, Julian Edelman and Martellus Bennett were back for a second straight day.

For more Patriots news, visit weei.com/patriots.

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable
Rob Gronkowski walks off the field after suffering a back injury on Sunday. (Robert Deutsch/USA Today Sports)

Rob Gronkowski walks off the field after suffering a back injury on Sunday. (Robert Deutsch/USA Today Sports)

1. The injury to Rob Gronkowski has shifted the Patriots’ margin for error has gone from “narrow” to “really slim,” but at this point, they’re still the favorites to come out of the conference for a few reasons. First, they have put some distance between themselves and the rest of the division, and even though the Dolphins have started to come on, it’s simply too much ground to make up at this point on the calendar. Second, while the Raiders, Chiefs and Broncos have to be considered the primary threat to New England for conference supremacy at this point, New England still has an easier path to home-field because of strength of schedule, something we detailed here. And third, expect the three AFC West teams still in the hunt to continue to beat up on each other down the stretch, which would conceivably create something of a void for the Patriots. Still not convinced? This piece from Pro Football Focus lays out how New England is better prepared to deal without Gronkowski than in previous seasons. It’s not going to be a cakewalk — and the idea of them winning a Super Bowl is still another conversation altogether — but from this viewpoint, the Patriots are still the favorites to land home field and capture the AFC.

2. Two more notes about Gronkowski, and the possibility of him not playing the rest of the way: One, earlier this season, we wrote about the fact that he could set a new NFL for tight ends when it comes to yards per catch in a season. Gronkowski has 25 receptions on the season and an average of 21.6 yards per catch. Great numbers, but he still fell short of the all-time record set for a tight end with a minimum of 25 catches in a season. (Let’s call him the only tight end of the modern era to be a part of the conversation.) Pro Football Reference has him fifth among tight ends when it comes to yards per reception in a season:

1. Red Mack (Pittsburgh, 1963) 25 catches, 618 yards, 3 TDs — 24.72 yards per catch
2. Carroll Dale (Green Bay, 1966) 37 catches, 876 yards, 7 TDs — 23.68 yards per catch
3. Aaron Thomas (New York Giants, 1965), 27 catches, 631 yards, 5 TDs — 23.37 yards per catch
4. Bob Trumpy (Cincinnati, 1969) 37 catches, 835 yards, 9 TDs — 22.57 yards per catch
5. Gronkowski (2016) 25 catches, 540 yards, 3 TDs — 21.6 yards per catch

And two, after all the uproar about him and offensive pass interference penalties last season, if this is it for him this year, he’ll finish with a grand total of zero OPI calls against him for 2016.

3. The Patriots tout that they’re always one of the best post-Thanksgiving teams in the league, but it’s important to note that success in December doesn’t always translate to playoff glory. After all, New England has had several years where it has gone unbeaten between Thanksgiving and the end of the regular season, and still fallen short of the ultimate goal — in 2007, 2010 and 2011, the Patriots were perfect in that stretch, but still failed to win a title. (That gives some measure of credence to my longstanding belief that going into the playoffs, “momentum” can be overrated.) The one area where post-Thanksgiving results have served as an indicator for playoff performance? When they’ve really struggled, specifically .500 or worse down the stretch. In 2009, New England was 3-3 after Thanksgiving, and bailed out of the playoffs early with a wild-card loss to the Ravens. In 2015, the Patriots lost four of six between Thanksgiving and the playoffs and ended up going 1-1 in the postseason. Some food for thought as this year’s stretch drive heats up.

4. It’s always interesting to hear from Brett Favre, and even more so when you consider that Tom Brady moved past Favre last week when it came to the all-time QB wins mark. The Hall of Famer talked about what makes Brady great on his Sirius Radio show this past week. “The guy is good. What can I say? The guy is good. And when he is leading the team, of course the combination between he and [Bill] Belichick, they’ve got something going that most franchises just wish they had a piece of. The dynamics there are like I’ve never seen. You know, they haven’t won every Super Bowl, but don’t we talk about them every year as a potential AFC candidate?” Favre asked. “[But] I’ve always been impressed with Tom. He’s a good guy. I think the more he plays the more competitive he gets … he’s just determined time in [and] time out to prove everyone wrong. And not that I doubt him or anyone else doubts him, but he kind of uses that as an edge. And he doesn’t need an edge, the guy is so good. He’s just a winner. He’s a gamer and I love to watch his competitiveness, and I would never bet against him, that’s for sure.” As an aside, I’m currently reading Jeff Pearlman’s bio of Favre. Well worth your time — a terrific book.

5. This is a really cool story that outlines some of the connections between a young Brady and current Dallas phenom Dak Prescott, with quotes from former Patriots trainer Tom Shaw, who worked with Brady while he was in New England and later had the chance to work with Prescott during the pre-draft process. “I had Tom Brady coming out of college as a rookie and then the first seven years of his career,” Shaw told NFL.com. “And I had the opportunity to work with Dak before the draft. What I noticed about Dak was, this guy had the same desire, work ethic, the same traits as Brady. Nobody wants to be compared to anyone else. But he was the hardest worker, guys gravitate towards him [and] he was the first one there.” We’ve heard plenty of comparisons between Brady and Prescott in the past, especially when it comes to their in-game cool and their accuracy in the passing game, but this is a different and interesting angle that’s certainly work checking out.

6. Lots of back and forth over the last few weeks about Darrelle Revis and his future. There was a lot of chatter about him and the Patriots in the days leading up to last week’s game. and in the wake of his sketchy performance against New England, there was one piece in the New York Daily News alleging he didn’t want to play anymore. (According to Boomer Esiason, that story was planted by his former agents.) Late this week, Revis addressed the report, saying that he still has “a lot of football to play,” that his love of the game was stronger than ever, and that some of the stories were being fueled by the Jets’ recent struggles. “I think that’s why I’m still playing the game, just the love for it,” Revis said, according to SNY. “It’s the competitive nature in me to go out and try to perform to the best of my abilities on Sundays. I don’t think me being questioned about that … it’s really bizarre in a way. At the same time I understand the position we’re in as a team right now. And I’m the target. That comes with the territory. It just comes with the territory. You just persevere through it and know that in the end, when the smoke clears, everything will take care of itself.” Regardless of what happens, it’s turning out to be a less-than-ideal situation for the veteran cornerback. It’ll be interesting to see what happens between Revis and the Jets this offseason.

7. In 11 of the past 12 seasons, a team with losing record after 11 games has always made playoffs. Who will it be in 2016? Our three potential candidates to click down the stretch and land a postseason spot are the Packers (5-6), Cardinals (4-6-1) or Eagles (5-6). All have stumbled at times over the last month, but all three appear capable of putting together a nice finishing kick in December and sneaking into the playoffs, particularly Green Bay. The Packers still have the Texans, Bears and Vikings left on the schedule, and while they might not be capable of a deep playoff run, they could still leapfrog over a few teams and steal that final wild card spot in the NFC.

8. Drew Bledsoe returned to the area this week in advance of Sunday’s celebration of the 2001 team, and when he was talking in the media workroom on Wednesday, I was stuck by the passage of time. The 2001 season was my first covering the team, and now seems simultaneously so long ago and just yesterday. I remember Bledsoe as always being open, gracious and accommodating with us in the media, and he was just as genial with us this week. (Him remembering the fact that Brady wasn’t always into fitness and avocado ice cream was a fun moment.) This weekend will be really special for a few reasons, including the fact that so many members of that team will be returning to the area to celebrate one of the truly great sports moments in New England history. To get you in the mood, YouTube has the complete broadcast of Super Bowl XXXVI now online. Go check it out.

9. When it comes to winners this week, I like Dallas, Atlanta, Detroit, New England, Denver, Green Bay, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Chicago, Oakland, Pittsburgh, Arizona, San Diego, Seattle and Indianapolis. To follow along with my progress, check out the WEEI Pick ”Em Challenge.

10. “NFL Sunday” is set for a return to Route 1 this weekend. The show will be live from Foxboro from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., getting you set for Patriots-Rams. Join me, Pete Sheppard, Tom E. Curran, Field Yates, Christian Fauria, Gabe Morency and Pete “Rotobahn” Davidson. Listen live at 93.7 or WEEI.com/listen.

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price

FOXBORO — When the Patriots and the family of Rob Gronkowski issued a joint statement Thursday night about the status of the star tight end, it was the document that gave Bill Belich

IMG_1661

Bill Belichick opens his press conference Friday addressing the Rob Gronkowski situation. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

FOXBORO — When the Patriots and the family of Rob Gronkowski issued a joint statement Thursday night about the status of the star tight end, it was the document that gave Bill Belichick the reference point he needed to answer all questions.

In his weekly Friday morning press conference at Gillette, Belichick made the most of it.

“Obviously, we’re all disappointed,” Belichick noted in his opening remarks before taking questions. “Nobody’s worked harder than Rob and been a better teammate and all that. So hopefully things will work out positively as possible with him. All the information we gave you, really that’s all we have for now. I’m sure there’ll be more coming in as we go through the next few days. Just take it as it comes. It’s an unfortunate situation for him. That being said, we’re turning our attention to the Rams.”

Then the questions began:

Are you fortunate to have Martellus Bennett to help fill the void? “Happy to have all the players we have.”

With the loss of Gronkowski and his contributions, how big a blow is this to the team? “Again, we appreciate all our players.”

But Gronkowski has meant so much: “You want to rank them. They’re all important. They’re all important. Rob’s a great player. They’re all important.”

Might the Patriots look outside the organization for depth? “We’ll always do what we feel is best for the football team.”

Could James Develin see a bigger role? “We’ll do the best we can every week. That’s what we do.”

What went into the decision for joint statement? “This was a situation [where] the team and the player felt it was the best thing to do.”

Might there have been some concern heading into the Jets game: “The statement, I have nothing to add to that.”

Message for the disappointed fans? “Yeah, just said it.”

Could there be a decision to put him on IR today? “I don’t know.”

When the team says he is expected to be done for the season, does that include playoffs? “There’s obviously more information coming so right now, we have what we have. When more information comes, there may be another decision to be made. I don’t know.”

Is there any significant to the fact that the news came out of Gronkowski’s hometown near Buffalo: “I have nothing to add. The statement, that’s all we have right there.”

How much more do you sit down with Josh McDaniels? “We do it every day. We do it every week. That’s what we do.”

Feel confident with personnel and plenty of options? “We’ll do what we do every week.”

What went into using the team’s only IR return designation on Jacoby Brissett? “Do what we felt was best for the team.”

Was the team aware of extent of Rob’s injury when Jacoby was activated? “We’ve talked about everything we can talk about here.”

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia