rotobahn-logoWelcome to the Week 14 starts and sits. I have some 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

Jameis Winston, Buccaneers vs. Saints, $6,700

I like Winston as a starter in just about any situation this week. He’s a nice value on DraftKings and gives you a potent 1-2 punch if you stack him with Mike Evans. To have a big game, Winston will have to use his tight end and running backs, and I think he will. Three hundred passing yards and multiple scores is very doable in this matchup — one of the best Winston has had in 2016. It’s also worth noting that the Saints typically play uptempo and generally have good game scripts for fantasy purposes. They defend the run better than they defend the pass.

Kirk Cousins, Washington at Eagles, $6,300

There’s always the risk of an ugly game when divisional rivals meet, but I like Cousins in this spot. He held his own against a tougher opponent last week and I think he can excel against this more familiar opponent. He’s clicking with a lot of his receivers right now, so the big plays can come from a lot of different places, and we may even see the return of Jordan Reed. The Eagles corners have been struggling in recent weeks, giving up 300-yard performances to Aaron Rodgers and Andy Dalton. In Week 11 they gave up plenty of production to Russell Wilson and also a touchdown pass to Doug Baldwin. They are more vulnerable than the season stats indicate.

Andy Dalton, Bengals at Browns, $6,100

I’m starting him this week in a big playoff tilt, so if I am wrong, you can take some comfort that I suffered for my blunder. Really, though, Dalton is in a good spot here. Cleveland obviously is a good matchup and Dalton is playing rather well right now. I don’t think he has enough upside to have big exposure in my DraftKings lineups this week, but I like his floor enough to use him in seasonal leagues if I don’t have a better option. I’m using him on a team where he’s my No. 2 guy behind Marcus Mariota. With the Titans playing Denver, I am hesitant to use Mariota.

Sit

Colin Kaepernick, 49ers vs. Jets, $5,800

This is a complex recommendation. I would use Kaepernick in a limited number of daily tournaments because he’s playing a team that looked beaten last week. The issue is Kaepernick struggled mightily in Week 13 and was replaced by Blaine Gabbert. I am loathe to use Kaepernick in a playoff game with my season on the line unless he is clearly my best option. Imagine your QB getting pulled in garbage time. That’s bad action. It’s also worth noting that 49ers left tackle Joe Staley suffered a midweek hamstring injury and conceivably could miss this game.

RUNNING BACKS

Start

Jordan Howard, Bears at Lions, $6,400

He’s been playing very well and scoring touchdowns in bunches. It’s also important to note that he’s playing the lion’s share of the snaps these days. He’s getting used in some passing situations as well and he’s the goal-line back. Howard is a value on DraftKings this week and a no-brainer in seasonal league lineups.

Thomas Rawls, Seahawks at Packers, $5,700

Green Bay plays the run well, but Rawls will get plenty of carries and he should be able to feed off of Russell Wilson and company. In short, the Seahawks will move the ball through the air and should be able to get Rawls plenty of opportunities against light fronts. He’s a good value at his price on DraftKings and he makes a very nice RB2 in seasonal leagues.

Rob Kelley, Washington at Eagles, $4,200

He’s a potential steal on DraftKings because I think Washington will be able to throw and that will open things up for Kelley, who is a guy who always runs hard. I think the game flow works for him this week, and he was able to run effectively last week against Arizona. He makes a solid RB2 in seasonal leagues and should return value for his price on DraftKings. He doesn’t have a ton of upside, so I would limit exposure in tournaments somewhat.

Sit

Devontae Booker, Broncos at Titans, $4,800

I don’t trust Gary Kubiak. Yeah, he’s a good coach, but he’s really jerked his backs around the last few years. Now he has Justin Forsett in town to challenge Booker, and it would not surprise me if Kubiak gave Forsett an extended look this week. Now consider that the matchup is bad because the Titans play the run well. Booker is more of an RB3 this week in 12-team leagues. He’s playable, but he’s very risky for a few reasons.

WIDE RECEIVERS

Start

Tyrell Williams, Chargers at Panthers, $6,100

The Panthers are struggling, though it does appear they will get Luke Keuchly back. That won’t help them cover Tyrell Williams, who has been making big plays with regularity this season. He’s not a huge value on DraftKings, but he is a strong play as a WR3 this week and I actually have him ranked as a WR2 in Rotobahn’s rankings.

Davante Adams, Packers vs. Seahawks, $5,500

Seattle can be a tough matchup, but Adams should avoid Richard Sherman for most of the day and should be matched up with DeShawn Shead. That should allow him to make some plays. It’s also likely that Seattle will score plenty of points against the Packers defense. That should lead to a positive game flow for Adams. He’s a good value on DraftKings and a good WR2 in seasonal leagues.

DeSean Jackson, Washington at Eagles, $5,200

He should see a lot of Leodis McKelvin this week, and that should lead to a few big plays and a solid fantasy day. If you like a good narrative, you don’t need to look very hard here. Jackson is going back to his old stomping grounds and he’s playing a team that is rumored to be interested in his services for 2017. One would think that Jackson will be pumped up for this game. He’s worth a look at 5,200 units on DraftKings and he’s a solid WR3 play in all fantasy leagues. He makes a very nice Week 14 stack with Cousins on DraftKings.

Sit

Marvin Jones, Lions vs. Bears, $4,900

I know he’s a name, but he’s also banged up and hasn’t done anything for a while. He probably will return and play this week after missing Week 13 with a sore quad, but Jones has two 100-yard games this season and they both came in the first three games. Half of his four touchdowns came in that span as well. He’s a desperation play this week.

TIGHT ENDS

Start

Jimmy Graham, Seahawks at Packers, $5,500

Graham is on a roll and he is the one elite play out there this week now that Travis Kelce is off the board. Tyler Eifert probably qualifies, too, but you will pay $500 more to play him, and I’d rather go with Graham. He’s an obvious start in all seasonal leagues and he can really help you on DraftKings in both tournaments and cash games.

Ladarius Green, Steelers at Bills, $3,900

There may be some risk here because of the limited snaps he plays or has played to this point, but Green is making big plays, plain and simple. He’s a strong TE1 option in seasonal leagues and he’s a potential steal on DraftKings at 3,900 units. I’ll be playing him in plenty of GPPs this week.

Cameron Brate, Saints at Buccaneers, $4,100

This game projects to be high scoring, and Brate should be the second option in the passing game behind Mike Evans. Brate has a good chance at a touchdown and should post about five grabs for about 75 yards. He should return value on DraftKings at 4,100 units and he has enough upside to use in GPPs as well as in cash games.

Sit

Gary Barnidge, Browns vs. Bengals, $3,300

The switch to Robert Griffin at quarterback is an issue for Barnidge, who tends to have his best games when Josh McCown is under center. Barnidge is a player to avoid in most situations this week. If the Browns make big plays, it’s more likely to come from the outside weapons and not from Barnidge.

Blog Author: 
Peter Davidson
September 20, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; Baltimore Ravens defensive coordinator Dean Pees before the game against the Oakland Raiders at O.co Coliseum. The Raiders defeated the Ravens 37-33. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Dean Pees has been calling the Ravens defense since 2012. (Kyle Terada/USA Today Sports)

FOXBORO — How will the Patriots attack the Ravens Monday night?

Whether it’s Tom Brady firing passes all over the field against their secondary or mixing in Dion Lewis and James White, one thing is for certain, the Patriots’ offense will be taking on a very familiar foe.

Dean Pees is in his fifth year as Ravens defensive coordinator. As Chris Price notes, Pees is no stranger to Brady and the Patriots, beating Brady twice in four meetings over that period, including the 2012 AFC championship at Gillette Stadium.

The last time the Patriots faced Pees, Rob Gronkowski had seven catches on 13 targets for 108 yards and a touchdown. Danny Amendola had five catches on six targets for 81 yards and two touchdowns, including the trick play from Julian Edelman. That’s 12 catches, 189 yards and three touchdowns worth of production from the top two receivers from the 2014 AFC divisional game that will be missing Monday night.

Pees, of course, is no stranger to Patriots fans either, having run the Patriots’ defense from 2006 through 2009, taking over for Eric Mangini when Mangini left to become the Jets head coach in ’06.

Pees was at the helm in 2007 when the Patriots went 18-0 before falling 17-14 to the Giants in Super Bowl XLII. It was in that game that Pees and the defense came under scrutiny at the end for allowing Giants receiver Plaxico Burress to be in single coverage with 5-foot-9 Ellis Hobbs on the outside.

But that’s water under the bridge and now it’s up to Josh McDaniels and the Patriots to come up with some type of game plan to attack a Ravens defense that is leading the NFL in fewest rushing yards allowed at 73.8. The next closest team is Dallas at 82.3.

How might knowing Pees and his tendencies factor into game planning?

“I don’t try to guess, that’s for sure,” McDaniels said. “Dean is going to change things up. Dean is going to do the things that have made him successful as a coach and Baltimore successful as a team. I think my concern is not going to be trying to over-analyze how Dean may or may not think about this week, but to try to prepare the best we can with our staff and our players to get ready to play one of the best defenses in the league without question.

“They’re aware of the fact that he was here. He had a great run here and he’s doing an incredible job there. Their whole staff does a really great job. Coach [John] Harbaugh, they have a tremendous culture in the way that they play. They’re going to do what they do and try to do it better than what we do. Hopefully we’ll do a great job of preparing for them and do a great job on Monday night.

“We’re going to spend a lot of time on Baltimore in every way, shape or form that we can. We’re certainly; I mean this is as well-coached of a defense that we’ll play. They’re a physical group that doesn’t really give up any easy plays; no big plays, stops the run, makes you one-dimensional, forces you into a lot of third-and-long situations, they’re the best third down team in the league. They create a lot of turnovers; they’re in the top five in that. They stop the run; second in points, 12th in sacks. They challenge you on every play and they don’t give up any easy yards. That’s the sign of a team that’s well-coached, disciplined, knows their scheme really well.”

A former secondaries coach with Miami (Ohio) and Navy early in his career, Pees has coached up a secondary as part of his defense that entered Week 14 second in the NFL in interceptions with 14.

“Dean’s background is primarily in the secondary so they’re well-schooled back there, good fundamentals,” Bill Belichick said. “They give you a number of different coverage looks – single-high, split-safety, man-pressure, zone-pressure – so they do a good job of mixing it up, making it hard for you to really get a real consistent read on what they’re going to do. They’re going to play a number of different things and you’re going to have to block them, figure it out, and get the ball to the open guy. It won’t necessarily be an easy read for the quarterback or for the receivers in terms of route adjustments and things like that.

“They’ve been able to hit the quarterback and they’ve got good instinctive players in the secondary. [Lardarius] Webb and [Eric] Weddle do a great job of finding the ball and getting around the ball. Their corners are instinctive. Their linebackers have good range – [C.J.] Mosley, [Albert] McClellan – but if you don’t take care of the ball they get it off of you. They do a good job of raking the ball out and taking advantage of poor ball security situations by the quarterback, or running backs, or receivers, whoever’s carrying it; tight ends.”

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

FOXBORO — The man most noted for his participation in an epic fake punt fail against the Patriots in 2015 is now providing some insurance in the Patriots’ wide receiver corps.

Nov 13, 2016; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Chargers wide receiver Griff Whalen (83) catches a pass before the game against the Miami Dolphins at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Griff Whalen spent this season in San Diego before being released in November. (Jake Roth/USA Today Sports)

FOXBORO — The man most noted for his participation in an epic fake punt fail against the Patriots in 2015 is now providing some insurance in the Patriots’ wide receiver corps.

Griff Whalen, a 26-year-old receiver who was an undrafted rookie in 2012 out of Stanford, has been signed to the Patriots active roster to provide some insurance after the ankle injury suffered by Danny Amendola against the Rams. Defensive tackle Darius Kilgo was released Thursday to make room on the roster.

Friday morning, Bill Belichick confirmed the move. Belichick noted how the Patriots have been down this road before, signing a veteran receiver in the middle of the season when a player on their roster was injured.

“Haven’t seen much of anything from him,” Belichick said of Whalen, who played in eight games this season with the Chargers, catching two passes for 22 yards. “We’ll see how it goes. We’ll see how that works into our receiver situation. I don’t know. We’ll see. He’s been more of an inside receiver. He’s done some returning. We’ll see.”

Whalen, who was released by the Chargers on Nov. 22, had his best season in 2013, when he caught 24 passes for 259 yards and two touchdowns for the Colts in Andrew Luck’s second year. With Amendola providing punt return insurance behind the struggling Cyrus Jones, Belichick was asked if Whalen, with four kickoff returns for 56 yards this season.

“No. I’d say there are some returners out there,” Belichick said. “He hasn’t had a ton of production as a returner but he’s returned [kicks]. Again, we’ll see.”

“Austin Collie a couple of years ago, guys like that. You just have to see how it works out,” Belichick said, referencing 2013, when the Patriots brought him back late in the season after injuries to Aaron Dobson and Kenbrell Thompkins. This year, Belichick decided to go with Whalen over practice squad receivers Devin Lucien and DeAndrew White.

“It’s experience and really the contrast of being in a system and moving up a little bit or having been at that level but not having as much time in the system,” Belichick said. “It’s the conversation, obviously. Sometimes, I kind of feel like you know for sure you’re making the right decision. Other times you’re kind of in a wait-and-see mode. It’s what you feel like is best at that time.

“But in the end, is there a better way to go? I don’t know. Until you get a player in that you haven’t had before, it’s hard to evaluate. At least the guys you have, you have an idea where they are. You have to wait and see how they perform at the next level. Guys that aren’t on your roster that you bring in, you sort of have to wait and see how that goes. We’ve been in that situation before at this time of year.”

Last season, Whalen made news when Colts coach Chuck Pagano called for a fake punt on 4th-and-3 late in the third quarter with the Colts trailng 27-21. Whalen snapped the ball to Colt Anderson with no Colts teammates blocking and two Patriots players standing over the ball. The play was stopped for a loss, the Patriots took over on downs and scored a touchdown en route to a 34-27 triumph.

Just a week later, Whalen fumbled on a kick return which led to a touchdown in a game against the Saints. A week after that, Whalen redeemed himself against the Panthers by catching all five of his targets that came in the fourth quarter, helping send the game into overtime. His highlight came against the unbeaten Broncos in when he had five receptions for 73 yards, helping the Colts beat Denver.

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

The Patriots have reportedly signed wide receiver Griff Whalen.

Griff Whalen has joined the Patriots. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Griff Whalen has joined the Patriots. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

The Patriots have reportedly signed wide receiver Griff Whalen.

The 6-foot-1, 185-pounder out of Stanford — who was the snapper on one of the funniest attempted fakes in recent league history — has been in the league since 2012, and has spent time with Indy and San Diego. He has 47 catches for 509 yards and three touchdowns in his career, with his finest season coming in 2013 when he had 24 receptions for 259 yards and two touchdowns with the Colts.

Whalen also has experience as a punt and kick returner, and averaged 7.2 yards per punt return and 25.3 yards per kick return in 2014.

Whalen will likely take up some of the slack caused after the recent injury to Danny Amendola. Amendola suffered an injury in last week’s win over Los Angeles, but will reportedly be on the shelf for the rest of the regular season.

Ian Rapoport of NFL Media was first to report the news.

For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price

FOXBORO — The Patriots and some of their key players appear to be getting healthy for the stretch run.

Tom Brady (knee) and Julian Edelman (foot) were both removed from this week’s injury report, which is certainly a good sign moving forward.

Tom Brady

Tom Brady

FOXBORO — The Patriots and some of their key players appear to be getting healthy for the stretch run.

Tom Brady (knee) and Julian Edelman (foot) were both removed from this week’s injury report, which is certainly a good sign moving forward.

Danny Amendola (ankle) and Jordan Richards (knee) both missed Thursday’s practice, while four other Patriots players were limited, including rookie Elandon Roberts (hamstring), who played only the opening kickoff against the Rams.

Roberts had a jaw injury listed at the end of last week, but that has been removed.

Also limited were Martellus Bennett (ankle/shoulder), Eric Rowe (hamstring) and Matthew Slater (foot).

Here is the complete Patriots injury report.

DID NOT PARTICIPATE

WR Danny Amendola (ankle)
S Jordan Richards (knee)

LIMITED PARTICIPATION

TE Martellus Bennett (ankle/shoulder)
LB Elandon Roberts (hamstring)
CB Eric Rowe (hamstring)
WR Matthew Slater (foot)

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

FOXBORO — The Patriots and Ravens will meet Monday night for the first time since they met in the AFC divisional round in 2015.

New England won the game 35-31, but the biggest talker following the game was a few ineligible receiver plays when the Patriots had more receivers on the field that were eligible and made one of them ineligible.

John Harbaugh still seems bothered by the AFC divisional round game in 2015. (Evan Habeeb/USA Today Sports)

John Harbaugh still seems bothered by the AFC divisional round game in 2015. (Evan Habeeb/USA Today Sports)

FOXBORO — The Patriots and Ravens will meet Monday night for the first time since they met in the AFC divisional round in 2015.

New England won the game 35-31, but the biggest talker following the game was a few ineligible receiver plays when the Patriots had more receivers on the field that were eligible and made one of them ineligible.

This caught the Ravens off-guard and helped the Patriots come back from a 14-point deficit.

After the game Ravens coach John Harbaugh said the plays were “clearly deception” and was upset the Ravens didn’t get a chance to see where the ineligible players were lined up before the snap.

Thursday, on a conference call with the New England media, CSNNE.com’s Tom E. Curran brought up how a few weeks ago the Ravens held every player on the Bengals during a punt play before taking a safety to ensure the game ended before the ensuing free kick.

Curran asked how that play was different than what the Patriots did in the playoffs a few years back.

“Well, that is something — I don’t even want to get into all that,” Harbaugh said. “That’s all been hashed out. As far as that goes, I mean, I believe what I believe and I think that’s all been proven to be right, but the point about that is that’s been talked about. That’s been looked at. That tactic has been used by punt teams for 20 years. It’s nothing new. It’s nothing that hasn’t been addressed before by officials and by the competition committee.

“As a matter in fact, after we did it in the Super Bowl, my brother [Jim Harbaugh] brought it up and I supported him to change it — to extend it on special teams plays and the competition committee and the coaches on the competition committee and Dean [Blandino] didn’t want to look at it back then. They had a chance to change it four years ago. So everyone knew about it and it wasn’t a surprise to anybody, so it didn’t create an unfair advantage for anybody.”

Curran brought up how the Patriots’ play was ran earlier that season by the Titans and also by Nick Saban with Alabama. He also noted Harbaugh’s comments after the game inferred he was discrediting the Patriots’ win.

“Like I said, I don’t want to get into that, and that was not the intent,” he said. “If you go back and read my comments at the time and the tone of it, anybody that takes it that way is taking it the wrong way. That was not the point at all. The point was you had an eligible receiver that wasn’t identified and an ineligible receiver that wasn’t identified as such and the official had no way to identify that for the defense.

“They never addressed it before so there was no signal or any other way to do that and that was something that was addressed the very next week when they put in a method to identify an ineligible number as an eligible player. It’s all technical stuff. If somebody wants to look at it a certain way, that’s not my concern.”

It was then brought to Harbaugh’s attention that the referees announced over the microphone who was ineligible and who wasn’t, which Harbaugh said didn’t matter and there needed to be more.

“That’s not something that had every been gone over,” he said. “Players were never taught don’t cover a player and when you’re on the field you can’t hear that microphone. That’s not something you can hear on the field and not something you’re even listening for. There is a signal. They tap the player on the shoulder. They brush the numbers to say that an ineligible player is now eligible. They had no method of doing that for the opposite and they put it in the next week where they tap the shoulder then make the safe sign and that meant that the eligible number was no ineligible, so the fact that they changed that the next week was a good thing and I think it made it more fair for the defense.”

By all accounts Bill Belichick, Tom Brady and Harbaugh have a good relationship, but it’s instances like this that lead you to believe there is some hint of animosity between the two organizations.

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable