Welcome to the Week 17 waiver wire. If you are reading this then I need to tell you two things. First, convince your league to use Week 16 as its bowl week, it makes for a much more sane finals experience. The second thing is congratulations, it’€™s good to play for all the marbles. That said, there will be some challenges as many players will be sitting or worse — playing limited and unpredictable snaps. I’€™ll be assessing the posture of all 32 teams as we move through the week and I will try to lay out some good options when I post this week’€™s starts and sits on Friday.

You might think that I am about to get some rest with the fantasy season winding down. I’€™ll get a little, but if you were a Rotobahn reader in 2014, you know that our content just keeps going. We’€™ll be releasing our rookie scouting reports just like last year and it all starts in early January. Last year, I told all our readers about the best class of receivers our scouting staff had ever seen. The early sense on 2015 is that it’€™s a seriously deep running back class. We’€™ll be bringing it all to you either here or at Rotobahn and it’€™ll all be free. We’€™ll also be making another trip to the NFL Combine, so check back for that. Last year, we met the likes of Martavis Bryant, Jordan Mathews, Tre Mason, not to mention Tyler Gaffney, a guy all Patriots fans will be getting to know in 2015.

I will be posting my usual expanded waiver wire over at Rotobahn this afternoon. It’€™s free, so head on over if you play in a deep format or are looking for some defensive teams to stream in Week 16. Next week, I’€™ll be back with a look at playoff pools. Like last season, we’€™ll have an article on rankings and strategy and there will be a lot of Patriots in the early rounds, thanks to their potential to go deep into the postseason tournament, if not all the way.

As always, the ownership percentages are listed for each player. These rates of ownership are based on Yahoo! leagues, which tend to be smaller and more representative of the 10-team leagues most of us play in. Obviously, these numbers are mostly for perspective. What really matters is which players are available in your particular league, and you’€™ll need to do the legwork on that.

To keep pace with all WEEI and Rotobahn fantasy football content, including Sunday chats and The Fantasy Football Hour with my co-host Jim Hackett, follow me on Twitter.


Eli Manning, Giants –€” 60 percent

I recommended him last week and all he did was light up the Rams in St. Louis, so I will stick with Manning and Odell Beckham this week at home versus the deflated Eagles. Manning is the plum of the waiver wire if he’€™s available.

Teddy Bridgewater, Vikings — 11 percent

Bridgewater was one of our favorite players going into the 2014 NFL Draft. Why he slipped was beyond our ability to comprehend. The rookie has really settled down the last month or so and he’€™s been been fantasy-viable four out of the last five games. That viability should continue this week at home against a staggering Bears defense.


Jonathan Stewart, Panthers — 61percent

He’€™s one of the guys you do not have to worry about this week as his team travels to Atlanta to play a must-win game. Stewart is a RB1 candidate in all scoring formats and league sizes this week, and he should be your top priority if he is available in your league.

Matt Asiata, Vikings — 49 percent

With the Vikings moving the ball, Asiata has been getting goal line chances and converting them. He’€™s a solid option this week as a RB2 and you can get him in about half of Yahoo! leagues. He can help you if you need a back.

Dan Herron, Colts –€” 62 percent

There’€™s a classic Grateful Dead song, written by the late great Levon Helm and the chorus goes like this:

‘€œTennessee, Tennessee, there ain’t no place I’d rather be. Baby won’t you carry me, back to Tennessee.’€

This is a song being sung by all NFL running backs after facing the Titans, who play the run about as well as the Jets draft quarterbacks. Herron gets the Titans this week and he should get enough touches to be a fantasy factor in Week 17.

Andre Williams, Giants — 64 percent

He has looked very good and had a sweet 49-yard scamper last week against the Rams. Williams should get plenty of touches this week as the Giants close out their season at home versus the Eagles. He has strong RB2 appeal as long as Rashad Jennings doesn’€™t return to make the start and there’€™s little reason for the Giants to push him back. Get Williams if you can.

Brandon Oliver, Chargers — 35 percent

Starter Ryan Mathews could be ready to return, so this is a speculative add. The Chargers have plenty to play for after making a miracle comeback in San Francisco last week. Oliver is clearly getting more love than Donald Brown, so he’€™s the guy to play if Mathews misses one more game. The Chargers travel to Kansas City this week in a game with playoff implications for both teams.

Toby Gerhart, Jaguars — 40 percent

Keep an eye on him this week. He’€™ll be the guy if he can get healthy, but he has a rib injury that could keep him out when the Jaguars travel to Houston. If Gerhart is healthy, he makes a solid RB2 option because Denard Robinson is out for the year. If Gerhart cannot go, then Jordan Todman is the back to add in Jacksonville. He looked good last week after Gerhart departed.


Charles Johnson, Vikings –€” 37 percent

He’€™s had two mediocre games in tough matchups, but he has serious big game potential this week against the Bears, who seem to have gone into hibernation early this season. Johnson is one of the more high-end options out there and you can get him in many leagues.

Eddie Royal, Chargers — 21 percent

He plays in a game that could matter and he will be targeted plenty because the Chargers are very thin at receiver with the injury to Keenan Allen. Royal is a nice add, especially in deeper formats. He had 10 catches and a touchdown against San Francisco in Week 16.

Albert Wilson, Chiefs — 0 percent

He is available and he is still gaining steam. Wilson is a guy we liked pre-draft but he is the kind of small school guy who gets easily lost in a year that features so many incredible rookie receivers. Wilson is quickly becoming the receiver to own in Kansas City. His usage has risen consistently over the last few months and he makes a very nice add this week in PPR leagues.

Marquess Wilson, Bears — 26 percent

He had 10 targets last week and has been active since the injury to Brandon Marshall. He should see similar targets this week against the Vikings. Chicago is in full-blown developmental mode and Wilson is one of their developmental players. He can help fantasy owners in Week 17.

Andre Holmes, Raiders — 13 percent

Speaking of developing talent, Holmes has seen an uptick in snaps and targets lately, and it makes sense given the Raiders’€™ situation. He’€™s a nice option in bigger formats when the Raiders travel to Denver this Sunday.

Kenny Britt, Rams –€” 20 percent

He’€™s worth mentioning because he has been playing very good football in recent weeks. In fact, Week 16 showed Britt moving about as well as I’€™ve seen him move since before he ripped up his knee back in 2011. It’€™s been a long road back for Britt and he is a player to watch for 2015. As for Week 17, Britt is worthy of consideration, but is more flex than WR3 because the Rams finish up in Seattle — a nasty place to play.


Jordan Cameron, Browns — 54 percent

This will be his fourth game since returning from a bad concussion. Cameron finally broke out last week and he’€™ll be a big part of the offense this week when the Browns close out their season at Baltimore. Cameron is a decent option if a tight end is what you need.

Luke Willson, Seahawks –€” 1 percent

Breakout alert — Willson has always been an interesting player since coming out of Rice last season. In Week 16, it all came together. Wilson was finally healthy and he was the every down tight end. The result was a monster effort and he may be able to build on that this week against the Rams. With five NFC teams tied at 11-4, the Seahawks have plenty to play for.

Blog Author: 
Peter Davidson

ESPN NFL analyst and former Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi joined Dale & Holley Monday afternoon for his weekly interview to look back at the Patriots’ win over the Jets and ahead to the postseason.

ESPN NFL analyst and former Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi joined Dale & Holley Monday afternoon for his weekly interview to look back at the Patriots’ win over the Jets and ahead to the postseason. To hear the full interview, visit the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.

With the Broncos falling to the Bengals Monday night, the Patriots have wrapped up the No. 1 seed in the AFC and now have their eyes set on making it to Glendale for the Super Bowl on Feb. 1. Bruschi feels their toughest matchup from the NFC would be the Seahawks.

“Seattle. And I say Seattle because of the complexity they have at the quarterback position,” said Bruschi. “The improvisation skill that you have in Russell Wilson. His running ability, things like that. The formula on offense to play the New England Patriots, if you have a power running game, you can hit them with a play-action pass. To have a quarterback that can improvise and you attack the Patriots in the flat to get a catch and run. The Jets tried it [Sunday] with Percy Harvin. The Packers tried it earlier in the year with [Randall] Cobb. So there are certain things that have been put on film this year, but those weaknesses I feel can be exploited best through the Seattle Seahawks team. That is their offense.

“Their defense, they are good at stopping the run so the linebackers can feel comfortable that [they] don’t respect the run game if it is stopped and then you have four rushers that can get pressure on [Tom] Brady. [They] have a solid backfield, so that is the team that I think, if the Patriots meet them in the Super Bowl, that is going to be a great matchup because you know the type of adjustment level that they have in Gillette Stadium, inside those facilities and to see that plan would be a lot of fun.”

In the postseason, Bruschi is looking for a guy like defensive end Chandler Jones to step up and be able to put pressure on opposing quarterbacks.

“You have to hope for Chandler [Jones], and he’s starting to show up a little bit more making those splash plays that just that pressure turns into a sack,” Bruschi said. “It turns into a strip sack and you’re going the other way. I know that is what they are hoping for that pass rush, getting him back now. It’s going to be hard to come in the middle of the field because they have run stuffers in the middle that do a great job stopping the run and right now they are using linebackers to get up the middle pressure or [Rob] Ninkovich or Jones coming on the outside, that is where it is coming. That is what the Patriots’ plan is going to be. You hope Jones can be that difference maker in the playoffs.”

For teams going against the Patriots of late, it seems their plan has been to stay away from Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner and attack players like Logan Ryan and Patrick Chung, like the Jets did on Sunday. The ability for players not named Revis or Browner to make plays will be vital to their success going forward.

“Whoever is not named [Darrelle] Revis or [Brandon] Browner. It’s really [Patrick] Chung or its the third cornerback or the fourth cornerback, that’s where your championship plays are going to be in the future and that’s basically how it is,” Bruschi said. “You have to assume the job and [Devin] McCourty, the way he is going to be used in the middle of the field. That third and fourth corner with Patrick Chung, can they make the plays? And Chung has made a lot of great plays this year, too. I mean, I’ve given him kudos on some of his coverage responsibilities that he’s been able to execute properly. ‘€¦ [Chung is] being asked to do a lot of things in terms of safety coverage of the tight end, lining up in the box to stop the run. He’s held on for this long, I still think he can hold on longer.”

Jets center Nick Mangold left Sunday’s game with an ankle injury, and as he was carted off many Patriots players and Jets players wished him well, including Vince Wilfork who he’s battled with throughout the years. Mangold had a lot of respect for Wilfork following the game. Bruschi said even though it is a division rivalry, there is still a lot of respect there as well.

“It’s there, but there is also a mutual respect,” said Bruschi. “I know Bill [Belichick] respects Rex Ryan, and Nick Mangold and Vince [Wilfork] going at it as many times has they have throughout the years. I remember offensive linemen like [Alan] Faneca when they had him, [Brandan] Moore offensive guard when they had him. So, certain players like that, that I wanted to do really well against them and we wanted to win, but still when the game was over you respect the effort that they have also. There’s a common bond with players. You don’t want to see them get hurt or anything like that, but there’s a respect, and it still gets pretty violent out there also.”

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable
With the top seed in the AFC now locked up, how will Bill Belichick and Tom Brady play it this weekend against the Bills? (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

With the top seed in the AFC now locked up, how will Bill Belichick and Tom Brady play it this weekend against the Bills? (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

With the Patriots win over the Jets on Sunday and the Broncos loss to the Bengals Monday night, New England clinched home field for the fifth time under head coach Bill Belichick. Previously, they held the top spot in the conference entering the playoffs in 2003, 2007, 2010 and 2011.

However, this year will mark the first time since 2010 where New England will have wrapped everything up before the last week of the regular season. How have Belichick and the Patriots utilized their personnel in years’€™ past when they’€™ve been locked into the top spot entering the last week? With the understanding that every year is different and playing time will be dictated by a variety of things, history says the starters will likely get the call early, but expect the Patriots to give backups and other youngsters some time as well as the afternoon continues. Here’€™s a year-by-year look at what has happened.

— In 2011, the Patriots clinched the No. 1 seed in the regular-season finale with a 41-23 win over the Bills.

— In 2010, the Patriots clinched in Week 16 with a 34-3 win over the Bills in Buffalo on Dec. 26. In the regular-season finale the following week against the Dolphins in Foxboro, New England started the regulars, but yanked many after about a half. Quarterback Tom Brady actually left the game briefly in the second quarter for Brian Hoyer, but Brady was re-inserted after a few plays. Ultimately, Brady gave way to Hoyer for good with 10:15 left in the third quarter and the Patriots holding a 31-0 lead. New England ended up winning in a walk, 38-7, as Brady went 10-for-16 for 199 yards and two touchdowns, while Hoyer ended up 7-for-13 for 122 yards and a touchdown.

One thing that certainly stood out about that game was the fact that the Patriots were really trying to help BenJarvus Green-Ellis to the 1,000-yard rushing mark on the season. Green-Ellis ended up hitting the plateau in the second half (he ended with 1,008 yards), and was removed from the game after reaching the mark. That’€™s certainly something that could come into play for a variety of starters on Sunday who might be nearing personal records or other meaningful statistical milestones.

— In 2007, New England clinched home field earlier than ever under Belichick with a 20-10 win over the Jets in a cold, wet rain at Gillette Stadium on Dec. 23. However, the Patriots kept their foot on the gas for the duration of the regular season, as they were chasing a 16-0 record. Accordingly, New England played its’€™ regulars for the bulk of the last two regular-season contests, wins over the Dolphins (28-7 at home) and Giants (38-35 in North Jersey).

— In 2003, New England clinched home-field advantage with a 31-0 win over the Bills in the regular-season finale at Gillette Stadium.

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price

With the Patriots win over the Jets on Sunday night and the Broncos loss to the Bengals in Cincinnati, New England clinches the No. 1 seed in the AFC for the postseason. Here’s a look at their playoff seedings during the Bill Belichick era and how they’ve fared in the playoffs.

2000: No playoffs.
2001: No. 2 seed, win Super Bowl XXXVI.
2002: No playoffs.
2003: No. 1 seed, win Super Bowl XXXVIII.
2004: No. 2 seed, win Super Bowl XXXIX.
2005: No. 4 seed, lose divisional playoff in Denver.
2006: No. 4 seed, lost AFC title game in Indy.
2007: No. 1 seed, lose Super Bowl XLII.
2008: No playoffs.
2009: No. 3 seed, lose wild card game at home against Baltimore.
2010: No. 1 seed, lose divisional playoff at home against New York.
2011: No. 1 seed, lose Super Bowl XLIV.
2012: No. 2 seed, lose AFC title game at home against Baltimore.
2013: No. 2 seed, lose AFC title game in Denver.
2014: No. 1 seed.

Overall, the Patriots have had the No. 1 seed on four previous occasions ‘€” they’€™ve won the Super Bowl once, lost a divisional playoff and come up just short in two Super Bowls. They’€™ve also had the No. 2 seed four times, and have won two Super Bowls (2001, 2004) and lost two AFC title games (2012, 2013).

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price

The Patriots can thank Dre Kirkpatrick and the Bengals for clinching the No. 1 seed in the AFC.

The Bengals had Peyton Manning on the run all night, picking off the quarterback 4 times. (Getty Images)

The Bengals had Peyton Manning on the run all night, picking off the quarterback 4 times. (Getty Images)

The Patriots can thank Dre Kirkpatrick and the Bengals for clinching the No. 1 seed in the AFC.

Cincinnati defensive backs intercepted Peyton Manning four times, including a game-sealing pick-six by Kirkpatrick with under three minutes left, to lead the Bengals to a 37-28 win over the Broncos Monday night at Paul Brown Stadium. Manning, who had been 8-0 in his career against Cincinnati, was intercepted four times in a game for the sixth time in his career and the first time since 2010.

The win means the Patriots will have home field advantage all the way to the Super Bowl while the Bengals clinched a playoff berth for a fourth straight season. Cincinnati improved to 10-4-1 and will play Pittsburgh next Sunday night in Pittsburgh for the AFC North title. Denver had a chance to clinch a first-round bye with a win. Now, the Bengals could finish No. 2 and earn a bye if they beat the Steelers and the Broncos lose to the Raiders.

Another result of the Cincinnati win is that the Patriots will play the Bills at 1 p.m. Sunday at Gillette since that game has no playoff implications.

Andy Dalton spotted the Broncos an early 7-0 lead when he overthrew A.J. Green on a pass over the middle. The ball went off his outstretched hands and into the arms of former Patriot Aqib Talib. The corner back fell to the ground to make the catch, got up and returned it 21 yards for a pick-six and a Broncos lead. Green suffered an upper right arm injury on a hit from T.J. Ward, and was extremely limited and ineffective the rest of the game.

But from there, the Bengals defense dominated the rest of the first half. The Bengals held Manning off the scoreboard while scoring 20 straight points.

Rookie Jeremy Hill broke off an 85-yard run on the first play after Talib’s interception return. The Bengals added a Mike Nugent field goal and a short 2-yard touchdown pass from Dalton to Jermaine Gresham. The Bengals held a 20-7 halftime lead when Connor Barth missed a 49-yard field goal.

A key turning point of the game came midway through the third quarter as it appeared the Bengals were ready to add to their 27-21 lead. Hill ran up the middle to the Denver 8. Gresham failed to hold his block on Von Miller, who crashed in on Hill and stripped the ball loose. Manning then drove the Broncos 90 yards for the go-ahead touchdown.

Manning hit Emmanuel Sanders for the second of their two third quarter touchdown connections in the final minute of the quarter. The Broncos outscored the Bengals, 21-7, in the third to take a 28-27 lead into the final quarter.

The Bengals had a chance to take a lead when Adam “Pacman” Jones picked off Manning at the Denver 23. But teammate Reggie Nelson was called for a 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty. The Bengals couldn’t convert a first down and were knocked out of field goal range.

But the Bengals would get another break when former Patriot Brandon Tate returned a punt 49 yards to the Denver 12. Nugent kicked a 23-yard field goal to give Cincinnati the lead again, 30-28, with 7:49 left in the fourth. On the next drive, Manning appeared to connect with Demaryius Thomas on a 50-yard completion on third down but Thomas was called for a facemask penalty and Manning was sacked on the next play.

Dre Kirkpatrick intercepted a Manning pass intended for Demaryius Thomas and returned it 30 yards for a touchdown with 2:41 left to give the Bengals a 37-28 lead. Kirkpatrick intercepted Manning again with just over a minute left at the Cincinnati 5 to clinch the win for the Bengals.

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia
Bruschi joins the conversation on the Patriots win over the Jets and other games over the weekend.

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Belichick gives insight on the Patriots victory over the Jets and starts preparing for the Bills.

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Vince talks about the win over the Jets and his blocked field goal.

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