Tom Brady has had a lot of success when using play action this season. (Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Tom Brady has had a lot of success when using play action this season. (Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Sunday’s second half performance against the Dolphins was dominant.

The Patriots outscored the Dolphins 27-0 led by their quarterback Tom Brady, as the signal caller went 13-for-20 with 205 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions in the second half of the 41-13 win.

Playing a major part in his success was using play action, which was used on Rob Gronkowski‘s 27-yard touchdown catch to blow the game open following a Patrick Chung interception.

Overall in the game, per Pro Football Focus, Brady was 10-for-12 with 135 yards with a touchdown and an interception when using play action.

“We definitely used it in the second half maybe a little bit more than we did in the first half,” offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels said on a conference call Wednesday. “I think it’€™s always a part of what you want to be able to do to complement the rest of your offense. You have a chance to run the football and then try to go ahead and use some play-action to complement your run game.

“I think it’€™s always a good design and a good idea, but ultimately the credit and the responsibility lies with the players and the execution, and they did a great job of doing that. The line gave Tom [Brady] an opportunity to play action fake and then get his eyes down the field and find some people open in the defense. We were able to get behind them a few times there in the second half to create some chunk plays for ourselves and some momentum.”

For the season, Brady has been one of the most effective quarterbacks in the league when using play action. According to Pro Football Focus, Brady is 98-for-143 (68.5 percent) with 1,334 yards, eight touchdowns and three interceptions.

His 1,334 passing yards are the most in the league, his eight touchdown passes are tied for fifth, his 68.5 completion percentage is seventh and his 108 quarterback rating is eighth. The Patriots run play action on 27.3 percent of their drop backs, which is fifth in the NFL.

“It’€™s always been a part of what we do,” McDaniels said. “We’€™ve had weeks where we’€™ve been very good at it and other weeks where it’€™s been more limited in terms of what you’€™re able to do, and some of that is determined by how the defense plays you, too. It definitely played a good role in some of our success in the second half, and hopefully we can continue to do that.”

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

WEEI_FantasyFootball_2014_hdr

Welcome to the Week 16 waiver wire! I think congratulations are in order for most of you. If you are still playing this time of year, you are either in a bowl game, or at worst a semifinal game. That’€™s obviously outstanding news, but it also represents a logistical change as far as free agency is concerned. For one, you are now competing against a single team for pickups, so you are very likely to get a top option and you also have no need for long-term depth as only this week matters. Lastly, and most importantly, you probably have a team filled with studs — that’€™s why you are still alive. Having a great squad can lead to over confidence, so don’t fall into that trap. You need to be proactive this week whether you need players or not. Remember, any player you do not add is there for your opponent. So, if you are all set with your starting lineup, you should scout your opponent and isolate their biggest need and go after the free agent who best fills that need. Be proactive and leave no stone unturned.

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.

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.

QUARTERBACK

Mark Sanchez, Eagles — 55 percent

He’€™s a good bet to bounce back against Washington, who are very beatable through the air. Sanchez is not a desirable play, but he’€™s probably the best thing you can pluck off of the average waiver wire for Week 16.

Eli Manning, Giants — 61 percent

He’€™s the best guy out there on a lot of waiver wires, but he has a tough matchup at St. Louis this week. The good news is the Giants seem to have rallied around head coach Tom Coughlin and their exciting rookie receiver Odell Beckham. Manning will get you serviceable stats, but the Rams should take the big game off the table.

Kyle Orton, Bills –€” 13 percent

They have a good road matchup and they are riding high after their stunning win over the Packers in Buffalo last week. This is a road matchup, but it’€™s at Oakland and that should provide Orton with ample point-scoring opportunity. He’€™s a good pickup if you are in a jam.

RUNNING BACK

Joseph Randle, Cowboys — 11 percent

I’€™m putting this one up top for emphasis. First for DeMarco Murray owners, Randle is absolutely a must-add due to Murray’€™s hand injury, which required surgery and should keep him out of Week 16. Of course, if you do not own Murray, you’€™ll still want to add him even if it’€™s just to keep him away from your competition.

Carlos Hyde, 49ers — 35 percent

Frank Gore could miss this week with a concussion, so Hyde is a potential stud as long as he is healthy himself, as Hyde suffered knee and back injuries in the same game last week. He’€™s potentially the most valuable pickup out there, but there is the risk that he sits out. Hyde is a must-add for Gore owners and should be pursued by all for his upside when the 49ers host San Diego this weekend.

Toby Gerhart, Jaguars –€” 33 percent

He may not be a sexy name and he was just decent last week against the Ravens. Having said that, Gerhart faces a very beatable Titans run defense in Week 16 and that makes Gerhart a very tempting play, especially in larger formats. If you are hurting at running back this week, Gerhart is very much worthy of consideration.

Dan Herron, Colts — 61 percent

He has a solid matchup at Dallas this week and he’€™s been consistently productive since Ahmad Bradshaw went down. I like him as a RB2 this week especially in PPR formats.

Latavius Murray, Raiders –€” 56 percent

He’€™s a legit RB2 option this week if you need him, but he lacks big upside because of his matchup against the surging Bills defense. Murray is a solid option, but not spectacular.

Andre Williams, Giants — 59 percent

Like Murray, Williams will be a solid option, but his matchup with a stingy Rams defense limits his upside potential for this week. Starter Rashad Jennings re-injured his ankle in Week 15 and is a good bet to be out for Week 16. If you had planned on starting Jennings this week, you may want to add Williams.

Doug Martin, Buccaneers — 51 percent

Martin showed some of his old running ability in Week 15 and he has a decent matchup with Green Bay in Week 16. Martin has RB2 appeal, especially in larger standard scoring leagues.

WIDE RECEIVER

Martavis Bryant, Steelers — 64 percent

Do you need an upside play for Week 16? Bryant is certainly that. While he can be limited to just a few catches, he can also score multiple times on a given week and not just as a red zone weapon. Bryant is an outstanding deep threat due to his size/speed combination. So again, if it’€™s upside you seek, this is probably the guy.

Jarvis Landry, Dolphins — 45 percent

If you read my pre-draft scouting report on Landry, you know how much we like him as a player. Over the last nine weeks, Landry has been a consistent WR3 option, especially in PPR formats. While Landry has primarily been used in the slot, he’€™s also been a very strong red zone threat and that gives him WR3 value in 12-team standard leagues. His matchup in Week 16 with the Vikings is nothing to fear.

Nate Washington, Titans — 5 percent

He was one of our sleepers last week and he posted a 100-yard game against the Jets. This week Washington gets a mediocre Jaguars pass defense, so he’€™s certainly a viable high-volume option if you need him.

Stedman Bailey, Rams — 14 percent

He’€™s got a Week 16 matchup with the Giants and that makes him an appealing WR3 option, especially in PPR formats. Bailey has been a productive option over the last five weeks with only one poor outing. He can help you this week if you need him.

Charles Johnson, Vikings — 32 percent

He posted solid numbers in a very tough Week 15 matchup and he’€™s got another tough matchup in Miami this week. That said, Johnson is the receiver to own in Minnesota right now and he’€™s a good bet for WR3 production in 12-team leagues.

TIGHT END

Dwayne Allen, Colts — 65 percent

He got back into the end zone in Week 15 and he should continue to improve as his ankle gets closer to 100 percent. I like him as a TE1 option this week when the Colts travel to play the Cowboys.

Owen Daniels, Ravens — 39 percent

He was active last week and that should continue in Week 16 when the Ravens travel to Houston to face Daniels’€™ old team. If you need a tight end this week, Daniels is a very good waiver wire add.

Kyle Rudolph, Vikings –€” 51 percent

I pumped this guy for a few weeks to mediocre results. In Week 15 I shied away and, of course, Rudolph stepped up and got involved the way we thought he would all along. He finished with seven catches for 69 yards at Detroit and he gets another very tough matchup at Miami in Week 16, so he’€™s a low-end TE1 option, but still quite viable.

Blog Author: 
Peter Davidson

If referees are going to continue to make questionable calls in an effort to protect quarterbacks such as Tom Brady, the league might as well institute a two-hand touch rule.</p>
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FOXBORO — Devin McCourty is considered one of the hardest working and generous people inside the Patriots locker room. Now, that generosity and leadership on and off the field has been recognized by the team.

Denver defensive tackle Terrance “Pot Roast” Knighton was very outspoken following Sunday’s win over the Chargers, as he said the Broncos would win the Super Bowl this year — even if Denver had to win at

Devin McCourty was announced as the Patriots’ nominee for the NFL’s Walter Payton “Man of the Year” award. (Getty Images)

FOXBORO — Devin McCourty is considered one of the hardest working and generous people inside the Patriots locker room. Now, that generosity and leadership on and off the field has been recognized by the team.

On Tuesday, the Patriots announced that the fifth-year defensive back is their nominee for the annual NFL Walter Payton “Man of the Year” award, presented by Nationwide.

All 32 teams nominate players for the league-wide annual distinction given to a player who shows commitment to volunteer work and philanthropy in their community.

Three of the 32 nominees will be selected as finalists for the award, named for the legendary Chicago Bears running back who died in 1999. Finalists will be announced in January 2015. The winner will be announced in Arizona, the site of Super Bowl XLIX, during the fourth annual NFL Honors awards show, a two-hour primetime special to air nationally on Saturday, Jan. 31, from 9-11 p.m. ET on NBC.

Since joining the organization in 2010, McCourty has been one of the most active players in the New England community, regularly volunteering to assist the New England Patriots Charitable Foundation’€™s many initiatives, volunteering countless hours to help others. McCourty has also teamed with his twin brother, Jason, who plays for the Tennessee Titans, to start a foundation to help fight Sickle Cell, a disease that has affected members of his own family.

McCourty has joined the team at Boston Children’€™s Hospital to raise awareness and help find a cure for the disease. He serves as a spokesperson in PSAs and continues to raise money through his foundation to help fund research to find a cure. On Oct. 27, he hosted a casino night fundraiser to support Boston Children’€™s Hospital and Next Step, a mentoring program for children and families faced with sickle cell disease. He was joined by children and families he met through his hospital visits who are faced with sickle cell and serves as a mentor to them.

His dedication to the New England Patriots Charitable Foundation has also been remarkable over the years. McCourty has served as an advocate for education to middle school students through the team’€™s ‘€œRead Between the Lines’€ program, encouraging students to surpass their summer reading goals.

In addition to the many school visits he has made, he can be found on most Tuesdays throughout the season volunteering and giving back in his local communities. He has also made numerous hospital visits, worked at food banks and community shelters, supported the Patriots’€™ Play 60 and Football for You events throughout New England and continues to be counted on regularly for his contributions to the team, both on and off the field.

Devin will have competition for the award from his twin brother Jason, who was the nominee Tuesday from the Tennessee Titans.

Each of the 32 team nominees will receive a $1,000 donation from the NFL Foundation to the charity of their choice. Three finalists will receive an additional $5,000 donation and the recipient of this year’€™s Walter Payton Award will receive an additional $20,000 donation in his name to the charity of his choice.

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

Denver defensive tackle Terrance “Pot roast” Knighton was very outspoken following Sunday’s win over the Chargers, as he said the Broncos would win the Super Bowl this year — even if Denver had to win at Gillette Stadium to get there.

“I don’€™t care if New England doesn’€™t lose again,” Knighton told reporters Sunday. “I don’€™t care where we have to play. I don’€™t care who our opponent is. We’€™re not going to be satisfied until we hoist that trophy. So if we’€™ve got to go to New England (in the playoffs) and win somewhere we’€™re not used to winning, we’€™re going to make it happen.”

Quarterback Tom Brady responded to the comments Monday night, appearing on Westwood One’s pregame show, as he does every week prior to Monday Night Football.

“Pot roast is a big man, and I would never say anything to get him mad at me, but I’ll just say there is a lot of football left to be played,” Brady said. “They’ll have their chance. We’ll have our chance and we’ll do our talking on the field. It doesn’t matter what you say, it matters what you do and my dad always told me, ‘well done is better than well said.’

“In the meantime, we have a lot of football left to be played and it starts this Sunday at the Jets. Nothing is really clinched at this point. There’s still two very important regular season games on our schedule and that is what I am focused on.”

The Patriots have won both games at Gillette Stadium between the teams the past two seasons, but Denver defeated New England in Denver last year in the AFC Championship game. If the Patriots win their final two games, they would guarantee the No. 1 seed in the AFC and have home field advantage throughout the playoffs.

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

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

Denver defensive tackle Terrance “Pot roast” Knighton was very outspoken following Sunday’s win over the Chargers, as he said the Broncos would win the Super Bowl this year — even if Denver had to win at Gillette Stadium to get there.

“I don’€™t care if New England doesn’€™t lose again,” Knighton told reporters Sunday. “I don’€™t care where we have to play. I don’€™t care who our opponent is. We’€™re not going to be satisfied until we hoist that trophy. So if we’€™ve got to go to New England (in the playoffs) and win somewhere we’€™re not used to winning, we’€™re going to make it happen.”

Quarterback Tom Brady responded to the comments Monday night, appearing on Westwood One’s pregame show, as he does every week prior to Monday Night Football.

“Pot roast is a big man, and I would never say anything to get him mad at me, but I’ll just say there is a lot of football left to be played,” Brady said. “They’ll have their chance. We’ll have our chance and we’ll do our talking on the field. It doesn’t matter what you say, it matters what you do and my dad always told me, ‘well done is better than well said.’

“In the meantime, we have a lot of football left to be played and it starts this Sunday at the Jets. Nothing is really clinched at this point. There’s still two very important regular season games on our schedule and that is what I am focused on.”

The Patriots have won both games at Gillette Stadium between the teams the past two seasons, but Denver defeated New England in Denver last year in the AFC Championship game. If the Patriots win their final two games, they would guarantee the No. 1 seed in the AFC and have home field advantage throughout the playoffs.

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

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

If things go as most think they will, Sunday’s game will be the last time Rex Ryan faces Bill Belichick as coach of the New York Jets.

The Jets are 3-11 and will miss the playoffs for the fourth straight season, likely leading to Ryan being fired following the season. Sunday is the last home game of the season for the Jets, and likely the last home game in the Ryan era. After sometimes taking shots at Belichick leading up to games in the past, Ryan had nothing but praise for Belichick on Monday.

“You’re talking about a guy that will be a first-ballot Hall of Fame coach when he goes in there,” Ryan told reporters. “There are very few like that, if any — maybe Tom Coughlin — that’s out there today. That’s the biggest guy, and you like to go up against the very best. And that’s who he is. … I like that, and I like getting that opportunity.”

New York played the Patriots tough in the first meeting of the season in Week 7 on a Thursday night in New England. The Jets fell 27-25, with the 25 points being the most points they’ve scored in a game this season. Ryan and the Jets hope to build on that Sunday, but he does know the Patriots will surely be prepared with Belichick leading the way. Ryan says he’s up for the challenge.

“That’s what great teams do, they find ways to win, and he’s done that,” Ryan said of Belichick. “He prepares his team as well as anybody in the league, if not better than any coach in the league. I do like competing against him, there’s no question about it. And he knows one thing: He’s going to get my very best, that’s for sure. I’m looking forward to this one.”

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

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

ESPN NFL analyst and former Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi joined Dale & Holley Monday afternoon for his weekly interview to discuss Sunday’s Patriots-Dolphins game, as well as looking ahead to the postseason.