FOXBORO — It looks like the Patriots won’t have to bring in another quarterback after all.

Jimmy Garoppolo

Jimmy Garoppolo

FOXBORO — It looks like the Patriots won’t have to bring in another quarterback after all.

Both Jimmy Garoppolo (right shoulder) and Jacoby Brissett (right thumb) were present at the start of Patriots practice on Tuesday. Brissett had his right thumb taped and Garoppolo didn’t show any sign of a brace on his shoulder, but the team was in full pads.

The media only got to see stretching, so there was no sign of either throwing a football.

All Patriots players were present, including new defensive lineman John Hughes and new practice squad wide receiver Da’Ron Brown, who were both officially signed on Tuesday morning.

After missing the last two games, Dont’a Hightower was present, which could be a good sign for his availability on Sunday.

Tight end A.J. Derby wore a black jersey signifying he was the Patriots’ practice player of the week last week. He may have played the role of the scout team quarterback, given the Patriots’ uncertainty with their own quarterback position.

The team will release their first practice report of the week on Wednesday.

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

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

EXCLUSIVE: Naked Tom Brady sure seems to be enjoying his #Deflategate suspension https://t.co/R1dN8mXlX8 pic.twitter.com/hWQVazGwI8

rotobahn-logoThere are some very good targets this week in free agency. The running back wheel kept on spinning, and we may have witnessed a switch at the top in both the Seattle and Chicago backfields. The Seahawks will be tempted to make Christine Michael their lead back going forward, Sadly, Michaels’ ownership is very high already, so he’s an option in less than 30 percent of leagues. However, fantasy owners can find help in the Bears backfield, where the Jordan Howard era may have begun. Starter Jeremy Langford was ineffective and now is out (ankle) for 4-6 weeks and may not have a job when he returns.

As always, I will be updating this list and adding more players for those of you playing in deeper formats. Just head over to Rotobahn on Tuesday afternoon. I’ll be back on Friday with the Starts and Sits and a fresh Fantasy Football Podcast with my good buddy Jim Hackett.

The ownership percentage listed for each player was sourced from Yahoo!

QUARTERBACKS

Jameis Winston, Buccaneers, 79 percent

He’s owned in most leagues, but I want to mention him because he needs to be owned in all leagues. This is a guy with a great postseason schedule, with two games against the Saints in Weeks 14-16. He’s getting better every start and he has a very solid supporting cast around him. Go get Winston if you can.

Carson Wentz, Eagles, 20 percent

Did you listen to me last week? I hope so. If not, you’ll have to pay for him now, but he’s worth an investment if you need help at quarterback. Wentz has been very good and he has good weapons all around him. And, as I mentioned the last two weeks, he has a very favorable schedule going forward.

Sam Bradford, Vikings, 11 percent

He’s 2-0 as the starter and he plays a schedule without too many killer matchups. In fact, the Vikings’ playoff matchups are downright tasty, so he’s worth an add in deeper leagues with adequate bench space.

Dak Prescott, Cowboys, 45 percent

He can be used as a streaming option, but I do believe Tony Romo will reclaim the starting gig sometime around Week 8. The Cowboys have a Week 7 bye, but the schedule is favorable until then. He adds points with his feet, and that’s good for his scoring floor.

Trevor Siemian, Broncos, 6 percent

He is worthy of a roster spot in deeper leagues, and his regular-season schedule is very friendly. You probably don’t want to use him during the playoffs with the Patriots and Chiefs in Weeks 15 and 16, but he makes a very solid QB2 until that time. He is playing very steady and he has great talent to throw the ball to.

Tony Romo, Cowboys, 12 percent

He should be the starter again by Week 8, and he should have a ton of fantasy appeal at that time because the Cowboys have a great offense and an excellent schedule. The only week I want Romo on my bench would be Week 13 against the Vikings in Minnesota.

RUNNING BACKS

Christine Michael, Seahawks, 72 percent

An easy add if he is somehow on your waiver wire. Michael is on the verge of being the guy in Seattle, and that gig obviously is worth something. Sell out to get him if he is available in your league.

Jordan Howard, Bears, 25 percent

Hopefully you already have him based on my recommendation in last week’s waiver wire. If not, then this is the guy to go after this week. Howard is the best back in Chicago and I really doubt he coughs this thing up going forward. If he loses this gig to something other than injury, it will most likely be a guy who the Bears will draft next year, not Jeremy Langford or Ka’Deem Carey. Howard is a power runner, but he can catch a few balls as well. His value is somewhat limited unless the Bears can start playing better football. Getting Howard going as the main runner is actually a step in the right direction.

Kenyan Drake, Dolphins, 16 percent

If I could only own one Dolphins running back, it would be Drake. He’s the future, and the Dolphins don’t have much of a present to speak of at 1-2 — just barely having escaped defeat against a minor league Browns squad on Sunday. At some point this team will turn to the future in full, and that will lead to a lot of Drake in the second half of the season. I’d be adding him now in leagues with adequate bench space.

Wendell Smallwood, Eagles, 2 percent

They are talking committee in Philadelphia, but if you step back a bit you can see there’s a youth movement underway, and the new regime’s guy is Smallwood, not Ryan Mathews. He’s versatile and he fits the offense. He won’t be an alpha back, because Mathews and Darren Sproles will have roles, but he’s a player to own in all 12-team formats.

Kenneth Dixon, Ravens, 12 percent

He could make his return in Week 4, but even if he ends up coming back for Week 5 he’s worth picking up right now. Dixon has an excellent chance to be Baltimore’s lead back by midseason, and that could mean a lot of touches and plenty of fantasy appeal. Dixon has a complete skill set and can be as effective in passing situations as he is on early downs. He’s the one Ravens back who can be a true playmaker. Go get him.

Orleans Darkwa, Giants, 3 percent

He could take this gig right now if he plays well enough, but more likely he will be part of a multi-back committee with Rashad Jennings, Bobby Rainey and rookie Paul Perkins. That said, for now Darkwa should be worth a flex play in deeper leagues and a roster spot in all leagues if you need short-term running back help.

Dwayne Washington, Lions, 23 percent

The Lions will continue to give Washington meaningful snaps and touches behind new starter Theo Riddick. There’s still no firm word on how long Ameer Abdullah will be out, but he could return around Week 11, after the Lions’ bye. So, Washington’s value has some shelf life if he does well.

Cameron Artis-Payne, Panthers, 19 percent

If you need some help at running back this week, Artis-Payne is a good source of stats. He got 12 carries in Week 3 and split snaps evenly with Fozzy Whittaker. He ran well and should find more room to move this week in a better matchup at the Falcons. Starter Jonathan Stewart is expected to miss at least one more week but could be back as soon as Week 5, based on reports.

WIDE RECEIVERS

Phillip Dorsett, Colts, 52 percent

He ended up having a tough matchup last week and actually lost targets based on what he did in Weeks 1 and 2. That’s going to change going forward, and the Colts have better matchups on three out of the next four weeks. Dorsett should be owned in all leagues because of his upside.

Corey Coleman, Browns, 59 percent

In bigger leagues he simply must be stashed, and you probably ought to do the same in smaller leagues if you have adequate bench space. Coleman has really looked the part so far, and his injury should not affect him much once he returns. It’s a hand injury, not a leg injury.

Michael Thomas, Saints, 48 percent

He seems to be getting better each week, and he finally found the end zone on Monday Night Football. He’ll have plenty of opportunity this week against the Chargers and he should keep developing his role in the red zone, where his skill set can really shine. This kid is no bust. Go get him if you can.

Davante Adams, Packers, 10 percent

The Packers, due to efficiency and some odd game flow, only had 54 offensive snaps. Adams played less than half of those as the Pack got out to a huge lead. Still, Adams clearly was the third receiver and he found the end zone for the second time this season. He’s under-owned because of his struggles last season, but he has a big ceiling and should be owned in all 12-team leagues and some smaller ones as well.

Kevin White, Bears, 49 percent

He is getting a lot of grief for his play so far, but I liked what he saw last week and he has the chops to keep improving. The Bears have plenty of good matchups in the coming weeks, so I’d be adding White where I can, and that includes trades if I can get him on the cheap.

Tyrell Williams, Chargers, 63 percent

He will be a great start on a lot of weeks in deeper leagues. He does have matchups with the Broncos in Weeks 6 and 8, but he is startable in most other weeks and there just isn’t much of a threat to his playing time at this point.

Quincy Enunwa, Jets, 34 percent

Enunwa has really stepped his game up in 2016, and he is a great fill-in or flex option in deeper formats. His role will not change much week to week because the Jets need his presence inside. He is averaging over eight targets per game and had 11 in Week 3. He’s a player who needs to be owned in 12-team leagues.

Chris Hogan, Patriots, 28 percent

His targets have been a little sporadic, but he’s been open often and I like the potential for pass volume to explode once Tom Brady is back under center in Week 5. I’d be adding Hogan now in all leagues. He’s proven to be a very solid fit for the New England offense.

Terrelle Pryor, Bears, 23 percent

He is playing almost all of the offensive snaps, and that will continue for one more game as both Josh Gordon and Corey Coleman remain out for Week 4. Pryor is a good option in all formats next week based on volume alone. They are even getting him some snaps at quarterback.

Jamison Crowder, Washington, 16 percent

He has scored two games in a row, and his targets have been consistent, with seven being his lowest total this season. He has the look of a player who has arrived, and his production should continue with rookie Josh Doctson battling an Achilles injury that could keep him out another week or so. DeSean Jackson is banged up as well, so Crowder is a player to own in 12-team PPR leagues.

Kendall Wright, Titans, 3 percent

I would start adding him now, because the Titans have a huge need at receiver, and it’s a primary weapon they have been lacking. Wright has that kind of talent, and they almost have to give him a good look when he gets back. My guess is that he returns Week 5, but Week 4 still is possible.

TIGHT ENDS

Kyle Rudolph, Vikings, 42 percent

His targets have been very consistent and he has found the end zone twice already. Rudolph seems to be settling in as the second option in the passing game and I see no reason why that should change any time soon. He can start for you in all leagues.

Dennis Pitta, Ravens, 62 percent

As I have been saying, he will be a consistent source of points in PPR scoring for as long as he can stay healthy. He’s still out there in some leagues, so go get him.

Zach Miller, Bears, 40 percent

He broke through last week with two scores and he should be a decent start for as long as he can stay healthy. I like the matchups over the next few weeks, so use him now if he isn’t on the injury report this week. Miller did take a major pop on his second score on Sunday Night Football, so that could be something to watch, as he’s had some concussion issues in the past.

Clive Walford, Raiders, 19 percent

Walford took a step back in Week 3, but he is locked in as Oakland’s tight end, so he’s worthy of an add in all 12-team leagues. The key stat for Walford is snaps, and his snap percentage has risen every week and was up to 68 percent in Week 3.

Cameron Brate, Buccaneers, 2 percent

He played more snaps in Week 3 than in the first two weeks combined and that is going to continue because Austin Seferian-Jenkins has been released. Brate is a must-add talent in deep leagues and a potential add in all leagues. He’s had a good connection going with Jameis Winston since last season and he should continue to see targets in the red zone.

Blog Author: 
Peter Davidson
LeSean McCoy is the most versatile option on the Bilsl roster. (Kevin Hoffman/USA Today Sports)

LeSean McCoy is the most versatile option on the Bilsl roster. (Kevin Hoffman/USA Today Sports)

Five things you have to know about the Bills, who will travel to New England this weekend for a date with the Patriots.

1. They’re better at running the ball than throwing it.

Through three games, the strength of the Buffalo offense appears to be an ability to run the ball — the Bills average a healthy 119.7 rushing yards per game (eighth in the league) and an impressive 4.8 yards per carry (fourth in the league). However, those numbers are skewed a bit because they rushed for a whopping 208 yards last Sunday against the Cardinals, but just 65 against the Ravens and 86 against the Jets. Why the sudden spike? Maybe it’s new offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn and the fact that he’s considered a more running back-friendly coach. (He coached the running backs before he stepped up to take over for Greg Roman. More on Lynn in a minute.) Maybe it’s the fact that the Cardinals have been exposed as an overrated defense that’s still seeking an identity. Or maybe LeSean McCoy flipped a switch. Whatever the case, the Bills’ run game will likely be their bread-and-butter Sunday in Foxboro. It starts with McCoy, who has 227 yards on 48 carries (4.7 yards per carry) and three touchdowns through three games, to go along with 13 catches for 98 yards. McCoy had a pair of touchdowns and his first 100-yard rushing game Sunday against Arizona. (For what it’s worth, in three career games against the Patriots, McCoy had 202 yards on 45 carries and a pair of touchdowns.) Buffalo will also mix in some designed runs for quarterback Tyrod Taylor (16 carries, 112 yards, one touchdown). Expect the Patriots to stack things up front and dare Taylor to beat them over the top.

2. They’re one of the worst passing team in the league, at least from a straight numbers perspective.

Part of it is because Sammy Watkins has struggled with a foot injury, but the Bills are at or near the bottom of the league in most major passing categories. Taylor is 47-for-77 (61 percent) with 527 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions through three games. Taylor has cracked the 100-yard mark through the air in only one of his three games (for what it’s worth, that was a 307-yard performance in a 37-31 defeat to the Jets. Obviously, the speedy Watkins is a huge x-factor here; if he can go, it’s a bit of a game-changer for the Bills’ passing attack. Watkins has six receptions for 63 yards in limited action this season. McCoy leads the team in catches, but Taylor has also zoned in on Robert Woods (11 catches, 15 targets, 81 yards) and tight end Charles Clay (seven catches 12 targets, 67 yards). The key here for New England? Maintain gap discipline and pay extra attention to Taylor or McCoy to make sure they don’t get to the second level.

3. The biggest difference in their offense since Anthony Lynn took over as OC? The tempo.

The Bills changes things up on offense on multiple occasions against the Cardinals, and while they really didn’t run much of a traditional no-huddle, they were certainly in and out of their offensive huddle quicker than the first two games. The changes in tempo caught Arizona flat-footed on occasion, and Buffalo was able to take advantage. This story gives a good look at the major changes — including the fact the Bills were often breaking the huddle with 18 to 22 seconds left on the play clock instead of nine or 10 seconds as they had in Week One. There were also changes in the way the backfield aligned, as well as a wildcat formation or two thrown in for good measure. All food for thought for the Patriots as they prepare for the Buffalo offensive scheme.

4. They are middle of the road defensively, but better than most when it comes to takeaways.

Buffalo has allowed an average of 383 total yards per game (23rd going into Monday Night Football), 285 passing yards per game (22nd) 98 rushing yards per game (tied for 14th) and a perfectly pedestrian 22.7 points per game (17th). There are no overwhelming vulnerabilities, but one area that really stands out for them is the fact that they are pretty good when it comes to turnover potential, and takeaways in particular. Some of this was because the offense had built such a sizable lead and the Cardinals were forced to throw a lot to try and get back into the game, but on Sunday against Arizona, they became the first team in the NFL since 2013 to come away with four fourth-quarter picks. Overall, they have second takeaways (four picks and three fumble recoveries) and just two giveaways (both fumbles). That plus-five is good enough to tie them for third in the league, and trail only Minnesota (plus-8) and Philadelphia (plus-six).

5. Their special teamers are smart enough to take advantage of miscues.

The Bills had the good sense last Sunday to take advantage of a miserable Arizona special teams corps when they cashed in a special teams touchdown on a return of a botched snap on a Cardinals field-goal attempt. As for the rest of the special teams, kicker Dan Carpenter is 3-for-4 on field-goal attempts and 8-for-9 on extra points. Punter Colton Schmidt’s 40.6 average is 27th in the league, and his 38.4 net average is 23rd. Old friend Brandon Tate is Buffalo’s primary kick returner, and his average of 24.2 yards per return on six chances is fifth-best in the league. Tate is also the fifth-best punt returner in the league — at least from an average standpoint — at 17 yards per chance on four return chances.

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price

Patriots coach Bill Belichick joined Dale & Holley with Thornton on Monday to discuss the Patriots’ 27-0 win over the Texans last Thursday night and also to look forward to Sunday’s me

Bill Belichick

Bill Belichick

Patriots coach Bill Belichick joined Dale & Holley with Thornton on Monday to discuss the Patriots’ 27-0 win over the Texans last Thursday night and also to look forward to Sunday’s meeting with the Bills at Gillette Stadium. To hear the interview, go to the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.

Belichick confirmed the team released defensive tackle Anthony Johnson and signed defensive tackle John Hughes, who has been with Cleveland for all five of his years in the league. He was cut earlier this month, but had played in 53 games with the Browns and had 5.5 sacks and 52 tackles.

“He’s a pretty experienced defensive lineman,” Belichick said of Hughes’ role for the team. “We’ll see. We have never coached him, so we’ll put him on here and see how it goes. He’s played end, he’s played tackle. Big guy, relatively young. Has some experience that think might be able to contribute for us. We’ll just have to see how it goes.”

The coach was asked if he had any update on the two injured quarterbacks — Jimmy Garoppolo and Jacoby Brissett — but gave an answer many expected he would give.

“We’ll give the injury report out on Wednesday like we always do,” Belichick said. “I’ll tell Stacey [James, head of PR] to make sure you get a copy of it right away. We don’t practice — I mean, I don’t know how you can evaluate a player in practice when they don’t practice.”

The Patriots have had great success against Rex Ryan-coached teams, as Belichick is 11-4 against him for his career, including the playoffs. Belichick knows what to expect each time he steps on the field against him.

“Rex has an aggressive philosophy,” Belichick said. “They love to run the ball. Do a good job of mixing it up on defense and they are strong in the kicking game. We’re going to have to do a good job in all those areas. We know defensively they will mix it up on us like they always do. A little different combination of fronts, coverage’s, pressures — sometimes three-man rush, max coverage’s — those types of things. They will just keep it moving on you and mix it up offensively. They are a big play team. They can score from anywhere and have a very athletic quarterback and are strong on special teams.”

The interview concluded with two non-football questions. For more Patriots news, visit weei.com/patriots.

On if he will watch the debate: “I don’t know that I will sit there and watch it. I might listen to some it. I’m sure it will be entertaining.”

On David Ortiz: “It’s pretty amazing. It’s pretty amazing. Great. I have great respect for David, his family, his foundation, everything he does, what he’s been able to accomplish in his career and how he’s done it. For this to be his final year and the way he’s been able to perform and capture, to go out with such a great year is phenomenal. Very happy for him. He certainly deserves it. We’ll see how it all ends up. Hopefully he will end up with a ring on his finger. That was the way it happened for Tony La Russa, who is a good friend of mine in that sport. We’re certainly pulling for him. I don’t know too much about baseball. I think if I was coaching against him I don’t know how many times we would really need to pitch to that guy. I don’t know how much damage he could do when he’s on first base, but when he’s at the plate with a bat in his hands there are a lot of good things that can happen and most are good for the Red Sox.”

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

In six days (Monday, October 3), Tom Brady can return to Gillette Stadium after serving his four-game suspension.

Tom Brady

Tom Brady

In six days (Monday, October 3), Tom Brady can return to Gillette Stadium after serving his four-game suspension.

Over his four weeks away from the team, Brady has worked out with Wes Welker, been an honorary captain at a University of Michigan football game and most recently, visited Italy with wife Gisele Bundchen.

Brady feels ready to return after a month away.

“I’ve tried to be very positive about the experience and use it to prepare myself to get ready to play,” Brady told Jim Gray on Westwood One’s Monday Night Football pregame show. “I feel like I am at a good place with one week to go.”

While Brady has been away, the team has gone 3-0 in its first three games using two different quarterbacks in the process. With third-string rookie quarterback Jacoby Brissett under center, the Patriots beat the Texans, 27-0 last Thursday night.

“It certainly doesn’t surprise me the way the team has performed like they did on Thursday night because they are always so well prepared and they take advantage of short weeks,” Brady said. “I was so happy to see them come out and play as well as they did. They played well in every area of the game and it really took contributions from all three units. It’s tough to play on those short weeks. Your body obviously feels different than having seven days to play between games, but to see the team go out and rally against a really good Houston team was very inspiring to watch. It was a great way to get to 3-0.”

With Bill Belichick leading the Patriots to a 3-0 record while not having some of the team’s best players, Gray asked Brady if he believes the Patriots coach is the best of all-time?

“Yeah, I definitely think so,” Brady said. “I think whatever hand he has been dealt he finds a way to win. That is the mark of a great coach. Sitting on those meetings for the last 16 years and watching him prepare the team, there is no coach I would ever want to play for. He’s just remarkable in every aspect.

“It’s a privilege to play for him and I look forward to getting back out there and getting yelled at by him because he is tough on the players and he expected the most out of us each and every day. That ends up getting the most out of the players and he’s been so consistent with his approach and it’s paid off for our team for a long time.”

Brady also discussed how there will be an adjustment period for him getting back to the team and live action, but pointed to Danny Amendola, who missed all of training camp, but has had a great start to the season.

“I do admire some teammates of mine like Danny Amendola,” he said. “He didn’t practice at all during training camp and he goes out there the first week of the year and has a great game. The second week of the year, has two touchdown catches, so I’ve played with a lot of teammates who have been off for extended periods of time and they go out there and it almost looks like they are flipping a switch.

“For me, that’s not really the way I like to prepare. I like to take every rep in practice. I like to practice everyday. I’ve been able to be very healthy over the course of my career. I think that really has helped me. I am going to need to find that rhythm back and it is going to take some work and time. Like I’ve said before, that is some uncharted territory too.”

As for his trip to Italy, Brady said he had a great time, he just hopes he doesn’t visit during the month of September for quite a long time.

“We had a great time,” Brady said. “It was a great chance to get away and I’ve never had the opportunity in September and hopefully I don’t have one for a very, very long time.”

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable
Head Coach Bill Belichick on Patriots Monday