NBC Sports NFL analyst Rodney Harrison made his weekly appearance on Middays with MFB on Tuesday to discuss the Patriots’€™ upcoming game against the Broncos and also Tuesday’s trade deadline.

Tim Wright

Tim Wright

Targets have been compiled by the NFL since the start of the 2009 season, and while it remains a vaguely imperfect stat –€” a badly thrown ball from a quarterback can often go against the record of the receiver as opposed to the quarterback –€” it remains a good indication of the confidence level a passer might have in his pass catcher. Here’€™s a look at the target breakdown after eight regular-season games this year.

WR Julian Edelman: 45 catches on 69 targets
TE Rob Gronkowski: 40 catches on 65 targets
WR Brandon LaFell: 30 catches on 50 targets
RB Shane Vereen: 27 catches on 40 targets
TE Tim Wright: 17 catches on 18 targets
WR Danny Amendola: 7 catches on 13 targets
WR Kenbrell Thompkins: 6 catches on 11 targets
RB Stevan Ridley: 4 catches on 5 targets
FB James Develin: 4 catches on 4 targets
RB James White: 3 catches on 3 targets
WR Aaron Dobson: 3 catches on 4 targets
RB Brandon Bolden: 2 catches on 4 targets
TE Michael Hoomananwanui: 2 catches on 2 targets
WR Brian Tyms: 1 catch on 2 targets

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price

NBC Sports NFL analyst Rodney Harrison made his weekly appearance on Middays with MFB on Tuesday to discuss the Patriots’€™ upcoming game against the Broncos and also Tuesday’s trade deadline. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.

The Patriots will have their toughest test of the season in Peyton Manning and the Broncos Sunday afternoon. It will also give their second-ranked pass defense a chance to go against an above average quarterback for arguably the first time this season.

“When I look at this team, they’€™ve played against Ryan Tannehill, the Oakland Raiders and Derek Carr –€“ I mean they haven’€™t played against a lot of great quarterbacks,” Harrison said. “I look at this next month in the season and they are going to play against some pretty quality quarterbacks so we’€™ll see how fierce the Patriots are, but if they want to get to the Super Bowl — I know that is their goal and aspirations, obviously they are not looking at it right now, but long-term that is your goal — you’€™re going to have to beat Peyton Manning. Not just compete with him, but you’€™re going to have to beat Denver.”

As for Tuesday’s trade deadline, there has been speculation the Patriots have expressed interest in wide receiver Vincent Jackson, but Harrison doesn’t see that as a fit.

“I wouldn’€™t say they have to go out and panic and get a guy like Vincent Jackson or someone like that because he still has to come in, learn the offense — and then who knows what kind of chemistry that messes up with Brandon LaFell,” said Harrison. “I think they are OK at the wide receiver spot. If they can stay healthy and have that offensive line protection — and Tom, he looks like he’€™s getting better. He looks like he’€™s getting more confident behind that offensive line, but I don’€™t think they need to panic and spend that type of money on Vincent Jackson.”

Harrison has been impressed with LaFell of late as he has 19 catches and three touchdowns in his last three games, including catching 11 passes on 11 targets in Sunday’s win over the Bears.

“I just love what Brandon LaFell has done,” Harrison said. “I love the confidence they are putting in him and it seems like each and every week the energy level, the route running, just the confidence and catching the ball — he looks like he is a legit wide receiver now.”

Following are more highlights from the conversation. For more Patriots news, visit the team page at weei.com/patriots.

On a mismatch for the Patriots against Denver’s defense: ‘€œThe obvious choice has to be Rob Gronkowski. I mean, to see what he’€™s been able to do these past couple of years, I mean, all the injuries and everything he’€™s gone through. To see how productive and how he looks out on the field, I just don’€™t think there is anyone out there 1-on-1 that can cover this guy. You look in the red zone and the goal line these defensive coordinators they are dumb enough to continue let guys single-team him. Think a safety, then you split him out wide, then you put a linebacker out here, it’€™s just ridiculous. I see why guys lose their jobs every year.”

Added Harrison: ‘€œYou have to understand you have to have someone big enough to be able to jam him at the line of scrimmage — a 225-pound corner or even a safety — but also, have the instincts and the speed to be able to cover these guys. If you look at Rob — Rob he moves. I don’€™t know what is 40-time is, but he moves well down the field and I just love when he caught the ball coming across the middle and punched the safety into the ground. That just shows heart, that just shows will. That is the thing you love about Rob, he brings that spark and that energy. When he’€™s down in the red zone –€“ Tom Brady — he scours the field and he’€™s looking for a mismatch. When you have a safety, or a cornerback or even a linebacker that is where he’€™s going.”

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

WEEI_FantasyFootball_2014_hdr

In last week’s waiver wire, I told you to be aggressive because there was a lot of talent out there and the bye weeks were going to get here real soon. Well, soon is now. There are six teams on their byes in Week 9, and that will lead to a very active waiver process in most leagues. The good news is that there still are plenty of options, it’s just going to be tougher to win bids.

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.

If you play in really big leagues, as I tend to do, you should head on over to Rotobahn Tuesday afternoon and check out my expanded waiver wire. The expanded edition gives you about twice as many options. To keep pace with all WEEI and Rotobahn fantasy football content, including Sunday chats and The Fantasy Football Hour with my good buddy Jim Hackett, follow me on Twitter.

QUARTERBACKS

Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers — 74 percent

The most obvious recommendation of the week, but I’m throwing him out there because he is available in more than one out of four leagues. Ride the hot streak if he’s available. The Steelers host the Ravens this week and Baltimore will be without its top cornerback, Jimmy Smith.

Carson Palmer, Cardinals — 50 percent

Palmer is rounding back into shape and can play for you on most weeks. Arizona’s offense is deep and well run by HC Bruce Arians. Add Palmer as a strong QB2 or bye week option. Arizona visits the Cowboys this week.

Eli Manning, Giants – 58 percent

Manning has been dumped by a lot of owners after a dud in Philadelphia and the season-ending injury to Victor Cruz. While the Cruz injury is significant, it is more than made up for by the addition of Odell Beckham Jr. — a receiver who can pretty much do it all. Manning can help you as a matchup play or bye week option. He has an appealing home matchup with the Colts this week.

Robert Griffin III, Washington — 36 percent

This is not a move for this week, because Griffin may not return until Week 11. Having said that, he could return if he shows his coaches that he’s ready for contact. The reason to go after Griffin is because his upside is so high. The Washington offense is mostly healthy, and with Griffin’s mobility there’s a lot of fantasy potential. If your quarterback spot lacks upside, Griffin is a worthwhile investment.

Blake Bortles, Jaguars — 10 percent

It may not be pretty — in fact, at times Bortles is tough to watch. He’s definitely taking his lumps as he learns on the job — making choices that veterans would never make. On the upside, he adds foot points to the box score with regularity and his team generally is trailing down the stretch of games, so you’ll get volume on most weeks. Consider Bortles as a potential add if you have a Week 9 storm at the position.

Michael Vick, Jets — 3 percent

Vick is the starter now. He can still take chunks of yardage with his feet and that helps. Vick will also have the benefit of having Percy Harvin as he gets more acclimated with the Jets’ offensive system. Vick is definitely worth an add in 12-team leagues. He has more fantasy potential than Geno Smith did. He can help you this week if you are hurting — even in smaller formats.

RUNNING BACKS

Denard Robinson, Jaguars — 57 percent

When you can rip off a 100-yard game against the Dolphins defense while running behind the Jaguars offensive line, you are going to get noticed. Robinson’€™s schedule gets better going forward and he’s a compelling option in all league sizes at this point. He’s taken charge of this backfield. Be aware that Robinson is listed as a WR on some sites, including Yahoo!

Ryan Mathews, Chargers — 64 percent

He could return soon — perhaps even this week. Mathews was running very well when he went down, and he’s a potentially strong RB2 down the stretch once he returns. While he may not be a solution to your Week 9 woes, but he can be a big asset the rest of the way once he’s back. Stash him if you can.

Tre Mason, Rams — 54 percent

Jeff Fisher haunts my dreams. OK, that’s a bit strong, but the way the Rams use their running backs is downright schizophrenic. The running game, and the offense as a whole, is disjointed as a result — with substitutions on every play at all the skill positions and a rookie quarterback at the helm. Still, Mason is the guy who should win the backfield over time. He’s the guy who puts stress on the defense because he can get more than what’s blocked. He should be owned in all leagues, even after last week’s disappointing output. He’s a flex option this week as the Rams visit the 49ers, but he could be a weekly RB2 in the near future.

Jonas Gray, Patriots — 6 percent

He’s looked good so far, and the Patriots seem to be committing to him in the big back role vacated by Stevan Ridley. Will it continue? It’s tough to say, because we’re talking about the Patriots here, and things can change quickly, as we’ve seen many times over the years. That said, Gray is a good option right now and he can help you if you need a back this week. He’s also got upside the rest of the way if he can keep the job, since the Patriots offense clearly is on the upswing.

Andre Williams, Giants — 50 percent

It appears he will get another start in place of Rashad Jennings. That makes Williams a nice Week 9 option with a home matchup against the Colts. Just remember that his long-term value is clouded as Jennings could return at any time.

Lorenzo Taliaferro, Ravens — 8 percent

If last week is any indication, Taliaferro is going to be the Ravens’ goal-line back going forward. He is looking like a better scheme fit than Bernard Pierce, who was not even active in Week 8 despite being healthy. The Ravens are blocking the run very effectively, and starter Justin Forsett could begin to run out of gas at some point. Taliaferro is a nice Week 9 option as a flex or emergency RB2, but he also has rest-of-the-season value as well — especially in bigger formats.

Charles Sims, Buccaneers — 7 percent

Sims, a rookie, should return this week, and the expectation is that he plays a lot in combination with Doug Martin and Bobby Rainey. Sims probably is not a good option as a starter this week, but he could be by Week 10. Factor in Martin’s recent injury, and Sims is a player to add — and he’s a must-add if you play in a PPR league. There also are some trade rumors surrounding Martin, which adds to the rookie’s appeal. Sims is perhaps the best receiving running back that we’ve scouted since we opened our doors at Rotobahn. He’s got serious hands.

Bryce Brown, Bills — 40 percent

While last week was a bit underwhelming and while Brown did not even start, I expect his role in the offense to grow. The one thing to remember with Brown is that he’s off this week. The Bills host the Chiefs after their bye. Brown is a nice stash option in all leagues.

Theo Riddick, Lions — 2 percent

The health of Reggie Bush will be a factor here, but Riddick is a very talented back who can post good PPR numbers. He’s a player to monitor in case Bush misses more time. The Lions have their bye this week, so this is more for Week 10 and beyond, but Riddick is a guy to know about in all PPR leagues.

WIDE RECEIVERS

Odell Beckham Jr., Giants — 56 percent

How he is still so widely unowned is amazing to me, but it’s good news for you if you have a chance to land this future star. Pick up Beckham and start him the rest of the way in all leagues and scoring formats. He’s a WR3 with the upside to be much more.

Mike Evans, Buccaneers — 54 percent

Evans is another weekly starting option who is on far too many waiver wires. Scoop up this red zone monster if he is available in your league. The Bucs are past their bye week and they play a solid schedule the rest of the way. They travel to Cleveland this week.

Brandon LaFell, Patriots — 36 percent

LaFell’s hot right now and he’s taken control of the split end position in the Patriots offense. He needs to be owned in all leagues right now and is a weekly starter until proven otherwise. Go get him.

Martavis Bryant, Steelers — 7 percent

He’s scored three times in his first two games as a pro and it is no fluke. The Steelers desperately needed a red zone target and Bryant has filled the void. He should continue to do so and he can help you as a bye week fill-in in Week 9 and perhaps the rest of the way. He’s has a home game vs. the Ravens this week, and Baltimore has injury issues at cornerback.

Doug Baldwin, Seahawks – 57 percent

He’s the main man right now, but he’s not a guy with a ton of upside and I expect other players to start stepping up — creating a more balanced offense down the stretch. Still, Baldwin can help you this week and he has a nice home matchup against the Raiders.

Josh Gordon, Browns — 62 percent

Are you out ahead of the pack in your league? If you are, you can really frustrate your competition by adding Gordon now — a few weeks ahead of his Week 12 return. Gordon gives you a potential WR1 for the playoffs. How valuable is that?

Justin Hunter, Titans — 50 percent

He scored last week, and I like his chances of doing that a lot more down the stretch now that Zach Mettenberger is the quarterback in Tennessee. Just be mindful that the Titans are on their bye this week.

Davante Adams, Packers — 14 percent

Adams has become entrenched as the Packers‘ third receiver and is nearly an every-down player at this point. This will lead to respectable weekly numbers and a few big games down the stretch. He’s a nice option during the bye weeks — even in smaller formats.

Kenny Stills, Saints — 12 percent

Stills is starting to heat up, and you still can add him in a great many leagues. He gives you big-play potential every week and makes a nice bye week replacement. He’s fully healthy, and Drew Brees is throwing the deep ball with renewed effectiveness.

Donte Moncrief, Colts — 3 percent

He looked good last week and he can help you this week if Reggie Wayne sits out again. Moncrief is a bit raw, but he’s a big play waiting to happen catching balls from Andrew Luck.

TIGHT ENDS

Dwayne Allen, Colts — 74 percent

You still can add him in some leagues, and I strongly suggest you do so. Allen is becoming a trusted red zone target for Andrew Luck, and there’s a lot of weekly value in that.

Jace Amaro, Jets — 5 percent

With most of the top tight ends owned in most leagues, Amaro could be a decent option for you this week. He will be better with Michael Vick now under center and he’s playing more and more snaps each week. He’s also a nice red zone weapon.

Larry Donnell, Giants — 65 percent

The Giants are using him consistently, and he is a red zone weapon. Donnell is a very nice way to get your team through a bye week crunch. He can start for you on most weeks if you need him.

Tim Wright, Patriots — 14 percent

He was more involved last week and that could continue. Either way, Wright can help you this week if your starter is on his bye. He scores touchdowns.

Scott Chandler, Bills — 6 percent

Had one catch last week, but it went for six. He’s been a bit more relevant since Kyle Orton took over at quarterback. If you are in dire need, Chandler is worthy of consideration.

Kyle Rudolph, Vikings — 30 percent

He’s a draft-and-stash option who could really help you when he returns in a few weeks. Norv Turner always features his tight ends, and that most certainly will be the case with Rudolph when he returns. We are talking about a potentially elite weekly play if things break right.

Blog Author: 
Peter Davidson

Sam Monson of Pro Football Focus joined the Dennis & Callahan show on Tuesday to give his evaluation of Tom Brady so far this season after writing in June he was on the decline and no longer a top-five quarterback.

Sam Monson of Pro Football Focus joined the Dennis & Callahan show on Tuesday to give his evaluation of Tom Brady so far this season after writing in June he was on the decline and no longer a top-five quarterback. He also touched on the play of Darrelle Revis so far this season. To hear the complete interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

In June Monson wrote that Brady has been on a significant decline in recent years and no longer belongs in the upper echelon of elite quarterbacks such as Peyton Manning, Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers. Following Brady’s impressive month of October — based on the month alone — Monson is changing his tune.

“I think it depends by what you mean by current. The Tom Brady of October is possibly the best quarterback in the NFL,” said Monson. “I’€™m not sure there is anyone that has played better than him the last three or four weeks, but the Tom Brady of September was a totally different guy. That was a guy who wasn’€™t anywhere near that top four list, so the question is going to be what is the Tom Brady we are going to get in November, December and maybe January.”

With Brady’s struggles in the first four weeks of the season many blamed the poor play of the offensive line as well as the quarterback still building chemistry with his receivers. Monson said that wasn’t everything and Brady still shared some of the blame.

“I don’€™t think it’€™s true to say it had nothing to do with Brady,” Monson said. “There hasn’€™t been that much of a change between the supporting cast around Brady in September and the supporting cast around him in October. The bottom line is he is just playing an awful lot better. I’€™m sure obviously more familiarity with those receivers is going to play into that, Gronkowski getting healthier is obviously a big factor and the offensive line has definitely improved certainly from the first game. It hasn’€™t become a fantastic line — it’€™s certainly given him problems. Brady is overcoming them way better than he did in September.”

Monson also touched on the play of Darrelle Revis, as he included him in a piece that called him a player who has regressed this season. He doesn’t believe the “real Revis” has been showcased so far this season.

“[Revis] is another guy who had a great game against the Bears, but that is a case of who didn’€™t,” said Monson. “Before that, again, he hasn’€™t really done an awful lot to suggest that was wrong. I don’€™t think we’€™ve seen the real Revis so far this season, except against the Bears.”

Revis’ performance against A.J. Green and the Bengals was brought up, but Monson stuck with his claim saying he hasn’t played to his capabilities for an extended period of time.

“Even so I don’€™t think we’€™ve seen him quite at his best, certainly not for an extended run of weeks,” Monson added. “Before, even in Tampa Bay, when he was coming off of a pretty major knee injury and playing in scheme that wasn’€™t really tailored to what he does best, he still looked very good week in and and week out consistently through the season and was grading well. This year he really hasn’€™t. Maybe that Chicago game was a turning point as well, but at the moment he haven’€™t seen what I expected from Revis this season.”

Following are more highlights from the interview. For more Patriots news, visit the team page at weei.com/patriots.

On if he thought Brady would have a season where he wouldn’t decline: “I thought there was the possibility he could definitely have good play again. I think over the long haul and who knows what the rest of the season is going to bring, I think we will see an unenviable decline from Brady. The question is how steep is that decline going to be. He may well have a couple of seasons where he plays ever so slightly worse from the season before. At the moment he’€™s debunking that completely and he is playing better than before. That I didn’€™t see coming. I didn’€™t think it was likely we would see Brady play significantly better than he has in previous seasons.”

More on Brady’s poor play in September: “The stuff that was going wrong for Brady in September wasn’€™t all to do with the supporting cast. If you threw on the tape and started to watch where Brady was missing receivers — high, wide –€“ it was stuff that he shouldn’€™t be doing. It wasn’€™t because he was under pressure. It wasn’€™t because the guys were on different pages for the most part. There were certainly some miscommunications between him and his receivers, but he was just missing guys.”

On when Jimmy Garoppolo could start playing: “I didn’€™t think almost regardless of what happened, I didn’€™t see Garoppolo playing this year. I think the idea there is if Brady does have a decline this season, even worse than the year before, then you start thinking about 2015 and 2016 with Garoppolo. I certainly didn’€™t see any scenario that he got put in this year unless Brady got hurt.”

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable
Tom Brady had an impressive month of October throwing for 14 touchdowns. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Tom Brady had an impressive month of October, throwing for 14 touchdowns. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Sam Monson of Pro Football Focus joined the Dennis & Callahan show on Tuesday to give his evaluation of Tom Brady so far this season after writing in June he was on the decline and no longer a top-five quarterback. He also touched on the play of Darrelle Revis. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

In June Monson wrote that Brady has been on a significant decline in recent years and no longer belongs in the upper echelon of elite quarterbacks such as Peyton Manning, Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers. Following Brady’s impressive month of October — based on the month alone — Monson acknowledged the veteran is playing at an elite level.

“I think it depends by what you mean by current. The Tom Brady of October is possibly the best quarterback in the NFL,” said Monson. “I’€™m not sure there is anyone that has played better than him the last three or four weeks, but the Tom Brady of September was a totally different guy. That was a guy who wasn’t anywhere near that top-four list, so the question is going to be what is the Tom Brady we are going to get in November, December and maybe January.”

With Brady’s struggles in the first four weeks of the season many blamed the poor play of the offensive line as well as the quarterback still building chemistry with his receivers. Monson said that wasn’t everything and Brady still shared some of the blame.

“I don’€™t think it’€™s true to say it had nothing to do with Brady,” Monson said. “There hasn’€™t been that much of a change between the supporting cast around Brady in September and the supporting cast around him in October. The bottom line is he is just playing an awful lot better. I’€™m sure obviously more familiarity with those receivers is going to play into that, Gronkowski getting healthier is obviously a big factor and the offensive line has definitely improved certainly from the first game. It hasn’€™t become a fantastic line — it’€™s certainly given him problems. Brady is overcoming them way better than he did in September.”

Monson also touched on the play of Darrelle Revis, as he included him in a piece that called him a player who has regressed this season. He doesn’t believe the “real Revis” has been showcased so far this season.

“[Revis] is another guy who had a great game against the Bears, but that is a case of who didn’€™t,” said Monson. “Before that, again, he hasn’€™t really done an awful lot to suggest that was wrong. I don’€™t think we’€™ve seen the real Revis so far this season, except against the Bears.”

Revis’ performance against A.J. Green and the Bengals was brought up, but Monson stuck with his claim saying he hasn’t played to his capabilities for an extended period of time.

“Even so I don’€™t think we’€™ve seen him quite at his best, certainly not for an extended run of weeks,” Monson added. “Before, even in Tampa Bay, when he was coming off of a pretty major knee injury and playing in scheme that wasn’€™t really tailored to what he does best, he still looked very good week in and and week out consistently through the season and was grading well. This year he really hasn’€™t. Maybe that Chicago game was a turning point as well, but at the moment he haven’€™t seen what I expected from Revis this season.”

Following are more highlights from the interview. For more Patriots news, visit the team page at weei.com/patriots.

On if he thought Brady would have a season where he wouldn’t decline: “I thought there was the possibility he could definitely have good play again. I think over the long haul and who knows what the rest of the season is going to bring, I think we will see an unenviable decline from Brady. The question is how steep is that decline going to be. He may well have a couple of seasons where he plays ever so slightly worse from the season before. At the moment he’€™s debunking that completely and he is playing better than before. That I didn’€™t see coming. I didn’€™t think it was likely we would see Brady play significantly better than he has in previous seasons.”

More on Brady’s poor play in September: “The stuff that was going wrong for Brady in September wasn’€™t all to do with the supporting cast. If you threw on the tape and started to watch where Brady was missing receivers — high, wide –€“ it was stuff that he shouldn’€™t be doing. It wasn’€™t because he was under pressure. It wasn’€™t because the guys were on different pages for the most part. There were certainly some miscommunications between him and his receivers, but he was just missing guys.”

On when Jimmy Garoppolo could start playing: “I didn’€™t think almost regardless of what happened, I didn’€™t see Garoppolo playing this year. I think the idea there is if Brady does have a decline this season, even worse than the year before, then you start thinking about 2015 and 2016 with Garoppolo. I certainly didn’€™t see any scenario that he got put in this year unless Brady got hurt.”

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

Brandon Browner has brought some attitude to New England's pass defense.</p>
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We sit down with Patriots head coach Bill Belichick on Patriots Monday and review the dominating win over the Bears, and try and preview Broncos week with the Pats coach.
We check in with Tedy Bruschi on a Patriots Monday to look back at how the Patriots dominated the Bears, and look ahead to the big showdown vs the Broncos in Foxboro this Sunday.