Bill Belichick was in rare form Friday. (Mike Petraglia/

FOXBORO — There are days when it appears the last place Bill Belichick wants to be is at podium, in front of a microphone, fielding questions.

Friday was not one of those days.

In a wide-ranging Q and A session with the group of reporters Belichick refers to as “hard core,” the Patriots coach spent 29 minutes and 45 seconds talking on a remarkable wide range of subjects, showing enthusiasm and a sense of humor just two days from leading his team into hostile Heinz Field to take on the 4-2 Steelers.

Belichick was already 16 minutes into his presser, about a minute beyond the scheduled time, when a member of the Patriots media relations staff attempted to end it.

But the Patriots coach, after delivering a five-minute answer on Chuck Noll and the 1970s Steelers, wasn’t ready to leave quite yet.

“I’ll take a couple more if you want. I had a couple of long answers in there. That’s usually a problem with me. Just going on and on,” Belichick joked.

Belichick used the time to detail how Duron Harmon is a “silent leader” in the Patriots locker room, how Elandon Roberts came out of nowhere at the University of Houston with one great year to catch the eyes of NFL scouts and how Jack Lambert did the same at Kent State when the player ahead of him at linebacker dropped out to work security for Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones.

“That’s a tough one because you’re like, ‘If this guy’s so good, then why did he not play? Why wasn’t he out there?’ [Rob] Gronkowski same thing,” Belichick said. “[Rob] Ninkovich same thing. One year of production, Elandon, kind of the same thing. Got into the starting lineup, played and was very productive,” Belichick said. “That’s a great question. Is that production circumstantial? Is this guy real? Is this guy really on the way up or was that the peak and then he’s going to come back down?”

What made Friday so special was Belichick offering his own personal perspective and experience. Nick Saban is one of Belichick’s closest friends in football. Saban played football at Kent State at the same time Lambert was making a name for himself before the Steelers drafted him to become a centerpiece of their 70s defense.

“I guess the one that sticks out the most to me would be coach Saban’s story about Lambert, when he was at Kent State, speaking of the Steelers,” Belichick recalled. “Lambert couldn’t get on the field. Was a backup linebacker. Didn’t play. Kid in front of him was really their leader, he was kind of the heart and soul of the Kent State defense. Through a series of circumstances, that’s another story so we’ll skip all that, but the kid dropped out of school, worked for Mick Jagger as a security guy, went on tour with the Stones and Lambert became the starting middle linebacker. He probably never would’ve played had that not happened. And you have a Hall of Fame linebacker.

“When some players have the opportunity and they get in there, the Tom Brady’s of the world, or whoever, you can’t get them out of there. I mean, Lou Gehrig.”

How did Belichick finally end the session? With a football metaphor, naturally.

“Extending the play. Little scramble,” he said.

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia
Nov 1, 2013; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Celtics former center Bill Russell watches during the first half of a game between the Boston Celtics and the Milwaukee Bucks at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

The legendary Bill Russell continues to impact pro sports today. (Mark L. Baer/USA Today Sports)

FOXBORO — Bill Belichick has carved out his legendary career by tapping into the wisdom of other legends.

Just in the last two weeks, the Patriots coach has detailed what he’s learned from Jim Brown and Paul Brown. On Friday, he expanded that reach beyond football, recalling a valuable lesson he learned from the most prolific champion in American team sports history – Bill Russell. The Celtics legend won 11 titles as a player and two as a head coach. He won two NCAA titles with San Francisco and Olympic Gold in 1956.

Belichick said he first spoke to Russell in the early 2000s and talked with him on several occasions, including most recently at the Celtics home playoff games last spring at TD Garden. Belichick invoked the lesson he learned from Russell when he was asked about the qualities of safety Duron Harmon and what makes him the valuable player in the secondary he’s become in his four years in Foxboro.

“Every team, or most every team I’ve ever coached, there’s always a couple of guys on the team that I would say are, for lack of better word, they’re silent leaders,” Belichick said. “They have leadership but it kind of comes out in a little bit a of a different way than Junior Seau or Tedy Bruschi or somebody like that. And again, not saying one’s better than the other, they’re just different.

“I would put Duron in the silent leader category. But I would say, and Bill Russell taught me this, that in a way, a silent leader, in some respects, is more powerful than a more vocal leader because you hear the more vocal guy, you see him, you’re very aware of it but then there are guys that give you that quiet leadership that in a way is more powerful because it’s not quite out there as much but it’s that quiet push sometimes can have a little more impetus. Kind of put Duron into that category.

“First of all, he’s very well respected. He’s smart. He works hard. He studies. He trains hard. I’ll go even back to his first year, he and Logan Ryan, the day after the season, they’re in here, working out, doing extra stuff in the weight room. Here working out in January. Things like that, and just not like ‘Hey coach, I’m here. Make sure you know I’m here, putting in extra time.’ They would do it just to do it. Studies the game well, smart. Obviously, he came up in a great system with Coach [Greg] Schiano and was very well-schooled so when he got here, he was already used to preparation, understood a lot of the finer points of the passing game.”

Belichick can’t speak highly enough about players in his system who work hard to learn their responsibilities and earn the trust of players on the practice field and in games. Belichick feels Harmon has worked hard to earn exactly that trust.

Again, I think he understands, and really anybody who plays in the secondary – and I’ve coached that position a lot of my career – you understand how interdependent you are on everybody else, kind of like the offensive line,” Belichick said. “Even if one guy does the right thing, if somebody else doesn’t, then it’s a problem for all of us. So, getting everybody on the same page, communication, making sure that you know where your help is, where I’m going to be. I know where you’re going to be so we can work together with each other. Duron is very good at those kind of things, and also dependable. If he says he’s there, he’s going to be there. Some guys, they’re not always where they need to be and so then you never know for sure, ‘Do I have [coverage support]? Do I not have it? I know I’m supposed to have it but can I trust it?’ You can always trust it with Duron.

“I think you build that up through time, through repetition. You earn that trust on the practice field. You earn that trust on the game field by doing it dependably over and over and over and over again. He does that. He’s there everyday. Very consistent and very dependable. And so, when he speaks, that’s where the leadership comes from. There’s a trust. If he says something, you can count on it. He’ll be there, he’ll come through and he’ll deliver it.

“It’s kind of interesting. Every team has guys like that on it. Some are more vocal than others. Some of those quiet leaders have a lot of power and a lot of influence that’s just a little less noticeable but very impactful.”

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

rotobahn-logoWelcome to the Week 7 starts and sits. I have plenty of recommendations this week 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.

Week 7 is not a particularly tough week for fantasy GMs, with only the Cowboys and Panthers on the bye, but get emotionally prepared for Week 8, because we lose six teams and things will be pretty ugly on the waiver wire. If you can think ahead and make a few moves this week, you may be better off.

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 if you are a late riser. It’s usually posted on the home page by mid-morning.



Tom Brady, Patriots at Steelers, $7,900

He’s a great source of high-end production, but you have to pay for it. The thing is, this might be a week when you can find some deals and open up some salary space for a guy like Brady. Just like last week, the issue is, who do you stack with him? What makes the Patriots so hard to defend is the stunning array of weapons Brady has to work with. Big games can come from almost anywhere. Rob Gronkowski is the obvious choice, but he’s back to being priced at an elite level. If the lineup you construct can’t fit Gronk’s salary ($7,200), Martellus Bennett ($4,500) is a cheaper, more contrarian move that can pay off in tournaments. James White ($4,600) is another inexpensive option. He gives you some upside plus he saves you some money.

Matt Ryan, Falcons vs. Chargers, $7,200

Ryan is smoking hot and could really feast in this home matchup. His cost is actually reasonable given the matchup. He’s locked into seasonal lineups, but I’d give the Ryan/Julio Jones stack plenty of consideration this week.

Jameis Winston, Buccaneers at 49ers, $5,900

He’s available at a very low price and he’s the kind of quarterback who can get hot and post big numbers. His cost is depressed because the Bucs have lost so many weapons through the first six weeks of 2016. The latest injury was Vincent Jackson, who will be out for at least eight weeks. While this may dim Winston’s star a bit over the rest of the season, I see no reason why he can’t light it up here. Stacking him is easy. Evans is a good choice, and you can throw in Cameron Brate ($2,900) or Adam Humphries ($3,000) for some low-cost differentiation.

Marcus Mariota, Titans vs. Colts, $6,000

It’s all about the wheels. When Mariota uses his legs to soften the defense, things tend to go well for fantasy purposes. He’s run for 124 yards over the last two weeks and I suspect that trend to continue this week against the Colts, who are ripe for the taking. Mariota is well worth a look on DraftKings at 6,000 units, and I’m fine using him in seasonal leagues, too. I’d look to use Delanie Walker or Kendall Wright as a stack.

Blake Bortles, Jaguars vs. Raiders, $6,200

He’s been brutal so far. No reason to candy coat it. The thing is, all the conditions are there for a big week. Even if the Raiders are crushing them early, Bortles will keep throwing and that volume will lead to success eventually, because the Raiders are just plain bad against the pass right now. Stacking him with Allen Robinson is affordable and you get powerful upside with the combo. In seasonal leagues, Bortles is a fringe QB1 in 12-team leagues this week.


Carson Wentz, Eagles vs. Vikings, $5,200

I love Wentz, but the Vikings defense is a real thing so I’d look elsewhere this week if you have that option. He’s cheap on DraftKings, but I am not feeling the upside here. Minnesota just doesn’t leave much on the table. If I want to go cheap at quarterback this week, I’d rather use Colin Kaepernick or Tyrod Taylor, and obviously Mariota and Winston (addressed above) both are potentially exploitable bargains.



DeVonta Freeman, Falcons vs. Chargers, $5,900

The fact that he is giving up significant reps to Tevin Coleman certainly takes a bit off of his upside, but Freeman could be huge this week and I’d be targeting him in all DraftKings formats. I think he teases 20 touches, and in this matchup that’s enough for a big week. He’s well worth the risk at 5,900 units.

Jacquizz Rodgers, Buccaneers at 49ers, $4,300

Based on his first start, he should see major volume and he’s a good receiver, so he really fits the full PPR DraftKings format well. With all the missing pieces in Tampa he should see plenty of targets. I’m definitely going to have some exposure in GPPs this week.

Jay Ajayi, Dolphins vs. Bills, $4,500

We can’t see the future and predict how much Arian Foster will play against the Bills on Sunday, but the way Ajayi ran last week he is easily worth a play in DraftKings tournaments at his price tag. He’s a nice RB2 option in seasonal formats as well.

Mike Gillislee, Bills at Dolphins, $3,000

This is a recommendation dependent on a contingency. Assuming that LeSean McCoy sits out with his sore hamstring, Gillislee should get the start and the bulk of the running back snaps. He could be a no-brainer play due to his price, which is at the 3,000-unit floor. If you own McCoy in a seasonal league, go add Gillislee now if he is available.

Mike Davis, 49ers vs. Buccaneers, $3,000

Davis is a good pivot play from Gillislee if things go bad with McCoy. Davis looks like a good bet to play in place of Carlos Hyde, who should miss Week 7 with a shoulder injury. Like Gillislee, Davis is available at the cost floor, so you can do a late switch if need be. Davis makes a nice flex option in seasonal leagues.


Terrance West, Ravens at Jets, $5,000

You can play him if you need to, but it’s not as good a matchup as it might seem. The Jets will rebound against the run and they will get David Harris back this week. It’s also possible, if not probable, that Ryan Mallett will be starting at quarterback for the Ravens. This is obviously less than ideal.



Julio Jones, Falcons vs. Chargers, $9,200

Yes, he’s pricey, but his ceiling merits the investment because he gives a higher ceiling than any other player in the player pool. There are ways to get him into your lineup, too, as we saw with the running backs.

Mike Evans, Buccaneers at 49ers, $7,800

Yes, he’s locked into all seasonal lineups, but I’d be playing him in my DraftKings lineups as well. He is going to see a huge amount of targets as he is now the unquestioned top weapon for Jameis Winston.

Allen Robinson, Raiders at Jaguars, $7,300

He’s locked into seasonal lineups just like Jones and Evans, and I like his price tag on DraftKings this week. Based on weeks 1-6, the Raiders will have their hands full with Robinson, who has multi-score potential in this game.

Michael Thomas, Saints at Chiefs, $4,700

Brandon Cooks leads the Saints receivers in snaps with 299. Thomas is right on his tail with 271. He’s a part of the offensive core and he’s really starting to gain steam now. Thomas has scored in each of the last three games and has been an efficient weapon for Brees all season with 26 catches on 36 targets. He should be seeing the ball more and more as the season progresses and he’s already the best weapon Brees has in the red zone. I like his price tag on DraftKings this week. If I need to save some money at receiver, Thomas is on my short list.

Anquan Boldin, Lions vs. Washington, $4,000

He’s viable this week because the Lions are so short-handed. Erix Ebron and Theo Riddick will both sit and that leaves a huge target vacuum in the middle of the field. I’d expect Boldin to take advantage of this situation. Boldin has played 334 snaps on the year and has touchdowns in two out of the last four games. He’s also cost-friendly at 4,000 units.

Kenny Britt, Rams vs. Giants, $4,300

He has been very consistent all year—lacking only the big game. He crossed that off the list in Week 6 with an explosive effort against the Lions. This week’s matchup against the Giants is a little tougher, but I still like Britt as a WR3 in seasonal leagues.

Kendall Wright, Titans vs, Colts, $3,700

He had a huge game last week, and in my view the Titans would be certifiable to not get him more involved going forward. Of course, I don’t call the plays or the personnel packages in Tennessee, so we’ll have to wait and see to find out if Wright’s playing time will indeed increase. Any smart coach would take snaps away from a declining Andre Johnson, but this is the Titans we are talking about. Still, at 3,700 units, Wright is a sneaky stack play for those who start Mariota. He’s a nice flex play in seasonal leagues with PPR scoring.


Antonio Brown, Steelers vs. Patriots, $9,300

Of course you are starting him in seasonal leagues, but I would avoid him on DraftKings. He’s more expensive than Julio Jones without the big ceiling. There are better and cheaper contrarian moves you can make. Save the big bucks for Jones if you decide to go heavy on one player.



Martellus Bennett, Patriots at Steelers, $4,500

I love his upside at this price. Sure, he has the potential to repeat last week’s stats, but in tournaments he offers the kind of upside and differentiation that you really want in your lineup. Stack him with Brady or use him as a stand-alone option.

Cameron Brate, Buccaneers at 49ers, $2,900

It’s about playing time and targets. Brate is a solid talent, but he now is playing in a target-rich environment. Austin Seferian-Jenkins is gone. Vincent Jackson is on IR. Both Doug Martin and Charles Sims are injured. All this points to Brate seeing plenty of targets both between the 20s and in the red zone. He’s a nice play this week in all leagues and on DraftKings at 2,900 units.

Jack Doyle, Colts at Titans, $2,500

Brate is cheap source of tight end points, but Doyle is almost as strong an option and you save another 400 units because Doyle is at the price floor for tight ends. I will be rostering him a lot this week and praying that he sees the type of targets we’d expect with Dwayne Allen out due to an ankle injury.

C.J. Fiedorowicz, Texans at Broncos, $2,500

It’s a tough matchup on its face, and I am not predicting a big game or anything, but I do think Fiedorowicz will see some targets this week because you cannot attack the Broncos on the outside. The Denver corners are just too strong and the pass rush gets there far too quickly. If Brock Osweiler does find some success this week it will be in the middle of the field and that will be Fiedorowicz’s area. I’m not inclined to use him on DraftKings, but he could help you if you play in a deep seasonal format.


Zach Ertz, Eagles vs. Vikings, $3,400

He wasn’t that active last week, and this matchup is really bad. Ertz is playable if you really need him, but this is a great week to consider other options. The Vikings are just plain nasty right now.

Blog Author: 
Peter Davidson

Sports Illustrated and MMQB’€™s Peter King joined Dale & Holley with Thornton on Thursday to talk about the Robert Klemko situation, among other NFL matters. To hear the interview, go to the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.

Peter King

Peter King

Sports Illustrated and MMQB’€™s Peter King joined Dale & Holley with Thornton on Thursday to talk about the Robert Klemko situation, among other NFL matters. To hear the interview, go to the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.

Klemko, a MMQB reporter, was at the Bills-49ers game in Buffalo last Sunday and tweeted out a video of a woman tackling a dummy with an afro and a No. 7 jersey to apparently represent Colin Kaepernick. The tweet read: Bills fans scream “tackle the Muslim”, then a young lady obliges. 

The video doesn’t capture anyone yelling that, but Klemko claims it happened before he started recording.

The person in the video came forward to refute Klemko’s claims that she tackled the dummy as a result of the yelling. The woman, Alexis Dent, wrote an article in Medium saying no one had said anything close to “tackle the Muslim” and requested a retraction. Klemko refused and now it is a “he said/she said” situation.

Dent also claims to have Snapchat videos from before Klemko’s video, which are said to prove nothing was said. (Click here to listen to Dent on Kirk & Callahan earlier this week.)

King defended his reporter, although he did say he shouldn’t have posted the tweet.

“Robert Klemko should probably have never posted that tweet,” King said. “Clearly, should never have posted the tweet where he said that in the parking lot at the Bills game he heard two people say — he didn’t say this in the tweet — but he claims to have heard two people say, ‘Tackle the Muslim.’ When that happened and he turned on his phone and the video on his phone, obviously he didn’t capture that. Now, that has led to most people believing the woman who said that it was never said. I choose to believe Klemko.

“I’ve worked with him for four years. I have worked with him on some very sensitive stories. What he is guilty here is of bad judgement. Bad judgement in putting out his tweet and implying that the woman in his tweet ‘obliques.’ I still have no question whatsoever that the words were said — ‘Tackle the Muslim.’ There is no reason whatsoever he would make this up, that he would fabricate something in this case. He’s a journalist. People are going to believe what they want to believe in this case. I choose wholeheartedly to believe that it was said and he heard it accurately.”

Added King: “He went down to the tailgate parties outside of Ralph Wilson Stadium to see whatever there was to see. If there was nothing anti-Kaepernick to see or anti-Kaepernick kneeling for the anthem or whatever, then he would have seen nothing. Robert Klemko didn’t invent this story, period. I will believe that until the day I die.”

Blog Author: 

FOXBORO — Jimmy Garoppolo is back to full strength.

The Patriots removed Garoppolo from the injury report on Wednesday, close to five weeks since suffering a shoulder injury against the Dolphins in Week 2.

Jimmy Garoppolo

Jimmy Garoppolo

FOXBORO — Jimmy Garoppolo is back to full strength.

The Patriots removed Garoppolo from the injury report on Wednesday, close to five weeks since suffering a shoulder injury against the Dolphins in Week 2.

Other than Garoppolo, it was the same injury report as Wednesday with nine players being limited including Julian Edelman (foot), Martellus Bennett (ankle) and Jamie Collins (hip).

Here is the complete injury report.

TE Martellus Bennett (ankle)
RB Brandon Bolden (knee)
LB Jamie Collins (hip)
WR Julian Edelman (foot)
DL Woodrow Hamilton (shoulder)
LB Shea McClellin (concussion)
WR Malcolm Mitchell (hamstring)
LB Elandon Roberts (ankle)
DL Vincent Valentine (back)

For more Patriots news, check out

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

Halloween is a little more than a week away, but Tom Brady getting in the spirit by promoting unReal Candy — a Boston based healthy candy company, which he has in the past.

The Patriots quarterback posted a video to Facebook Thursday afternoon with the caption: Every Halloween, I go to my “special place” when I break into the kids’ UnReal Candy…

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

The Steelers and Patriots have a bit of a history with not so typical things happening in games.

Back in Week 1 of last season, the Steelers had headset issues at Gillette Stadium where during the first half the Steelers heard the Patriots radio broadcast instead of their own coaches.

Steelers defensive coordinator Keith Butler took a shot at the Patriots. (Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today Sports)

Steelers defensive coordinator Keith Butler took a shot at the Patriots. (Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today Sports)

The Steelers and Patriots have a bit of a history with not so typical things happening in games.

Back in Week 1 of last season, the Steelers had headset issues at Gillette Stadium where during the first half the Steelers heard the Patriots radio broadcast instead of their own coaches.

After the game head coach Mike Tomlin said that is “always the case” at Gillette Stadium when it comes to things like that occurring.

Now, over a year later, another Steelers coach is calling out the Patriots.

Appearing on the “Coordinators Corner” podcast on the Steelers’ team website, defensive coordinator Keith Butler was asked about Tom Brady and Bill Belichick and if they study harder than other teams, or if they’re doing something special?

“I don’t think they’re doing anything special,” Butler said via “I think they do things outside the box sometimes, you know, that might be on the edge of being legal or not legal. They’ve done a couple of things in the past — putting an offensive tackle out as ineligible but he’s not really. Sometimes the emphasis by the NFL in terms of what they call and what they don’t call, [the Patriots] use that a little bit. They’ve been accused of doing a lot of things. But the thing we’ve got to do is ignore that and play.”

The Patriots have won six out of the last eight meetings, including the playoffs against the Steelers.

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable