All right, Patriots fans, after Thursday night’s big win, your heads should be clear and ready to focus on your fantasy fortunes. I’ve got the Week 7 recommendations ready for you and there’s more to come. As always, I will be available this Sunday at 11 a.m. to take all your last-minute lineup questions. Get them in early!

If you have questions about any players not listed in this space, head over to my free site, Rotobahn, and dig into my full Week 7 lineup rankings. And don’t forget to tune in Sunday morning for another episode of the Fantasy Football Hour with my buddy Jim Hackett, who will be in a good mood after the Patriots’ third straight victory. If you want to keep track of all my fantasy football content, both here and at Rotobahn, follow me on Twitter. I send out links to all fresh content.



Carson Palmer, Cardinals at Raiders

He’s back and we expect his arm strength to improve week to week. Palmer has a healthy offense around him and he has a nice matchup with Oakland. Start him if you need him in all formats.

Joe Flacco, Ravens vs. Falcons

He lit up Tampa last week and he could do the same thing to the Falcons when the Ravens visit Baltimore this weekend. The Ravens receivers are in a groove and so is Flacco. He’s a viable play in all leagues this week.

Matt Ryan, Falcons at Ravens

He’s not screaming “Start me” this week after light output in Week 6, but Ryan has enough weapons in addition to Julio Jones, who is a monster. He should have to throw the ball for most of the day to keep pace with the Ravens. Ryan is playable in all formats.

Blake Bortles, Jaguars vs. Browns

Need an option in a deep league? Bortles can help because he grinds out points with his arm and with his feet. The Browns should get a lead and force the Jaguars to throw and open up the offense. Bortles might throw a pick or two, but the numbers should be there in the end. A good play in big formats if you are in need.


Andy Dalton, Bengals at Colts

Whenever I recommend Dalton I say the same thing: He has the weapons. Well, he doesn’t this week. A.J. Green is hurting with turf toe and Marvin Jones is on injured reserve. There also is no Tyler Eifert, so this is far from a normal week for the Bengals. Dalton will have better days, but I’d avoid him here, especially in smaller formats.



Branden Oliver, Chargers vs. Chiefs

Donald Brown looks shaky again, so roll with Oliver, who has been very productive the last two weeks. The Chiefs are solid in the front seven, but Oliver will get enough touches where the numbers should follow. He’s a good play in any league.

Ronnie Hillman, Broncos vs. 49ers

Hillman ran tough against the Jets in Week 6 and he can do the same against the 49ers this week. He may not be a great option, but he’s worthy of a start in all leagues if you need him.

Jerick McKinnon, Vikings at Bills

He probably will yield more snaps and touches to the bigger Matt Asiata than he did last week because Asiata matches up better with Buffalo than he did against the Lions. Having said that, McKinnon is the far more explosive player and that’s what the Vikings desperately need in the wake of the Adrian Peterson debacle. The rookie should have the bigger share of playing time and is playable as an RB2 in all formats.

Isaiah Crowell, Browns at Jaguars

He won’t start with Ben Tate back and running well, and he may give some carries away to Terrance West this week. Still, I like Crowell to get enough carries to be viable in 12-team leagues. The Browns will have this game in hand down the stretch and that should mean Crowell playing the role of closer. He has a very good chance at scoring.


Zac Stacy, Rams vs. Seahawks

The Rams backfield now is a three-headed beast with no clear leader. The most impressive ball carrier of the group is not Stacy but rookie Tre Mason. You also have to factor in touches for Benny Cunningham. The matchup is also problematic as Seattle is in town coming off of a loss. Stacy is a flex option in bigger formats and a very poor risk as an RB2 in smaller formats.



Golden Tate, Lions vs. Saints

With Calvin Johnson very likely to miss this week’s game, Tate is a must-start unless you are absolutely loaded at receiver. He’s going to see the ball a ton and he has enhanced value in PPR formats. Get him active in all leagues.

Torrey Smith, Ravens vs. Falcons

Smith has burned me a few times this year, but I think he’s finally turned the corner in OC Gary Kubiak‘s offense. Smith has three scores over the last three weeks and is a fine WR3 option in all leagues for Week 7.

Odell Beckham Jr., Giants at Cowboys

No, I will not stop talking about Beckham — not until you all have him rostered! The rookie is ready to explode and he’s still on a lot of waiver wires. Heck, he’s still unowned in 52 percent of Yahoo! leagues. That’s a joke and you should go get him right now if you can. You should also start him as a WR3 this weekend against the Cowboys. I think you’ll be pleased with the results. If this kid stays healthy, he’s going to help your fantasy team. Trust me.

DeAndre Hopkins, Texans at Steelers

He was awful last week, but I suggest you forgive him, especially in big leagues, because he has a very nice matchup this weekend with a Steelers team that has injuries in its secondary. Hopkins is a good bet to post WR3 numbers in all leagues.


Brian Quick, Rams vs. Seahawks

I am a big fan of Quick’s game, as most of you know. However, this is not a week to count on him for WR3 production. Start him if you must, but he needs a big play to be viable this week and I don’t see Seattle giving up any big or broken plays in a must-win game. You most likely can do better.



Jordan Reed, Washington vs. Titans

Just in case you missed him last week, Reed is back and looking very good. There’s no need for caution here. Reed is a No. 1 option in all leagues and scoring types. Get him active in this good home matchup.

Travis Kelce, Chiefs at Chargers

For my money, Kelce is a must-play option in 12-team leagues until proven otherwise. He is healthy and one of the better playmakers in Kansas City. He’s a quality option in all leagues this week at San Diego.

Dwayne Allen, Colts vs. Bengals

Allen is developing into one of Andrew Luck‘s most trusted options and that trust will keep him on the weekly radar in all league sizes and scoring formats. Allen is a solid play this week against a reeling Bengals team that still hasn’t recovered from the drubbing it received in Foxboro a few weeks back.

Jermaine Gresham, Bengals at Colts

He appears to be coming alive now and the timing could not be better as far as fantasy is concerned. Gresham is needed this week with so many receivers banged up and with Tyler Eifert still a ways away. He’s a solid option in 12-team leagues if you are hurting.


Jared Cook, Rams vs. Seahawks

Cook played a good game last week, but he may be used more as a blocker this week against a very aggressive Seattle defense. I’d look for other options in small leagues if you can. Cook thrived on yards after the catch last week, but that’s not happening against the Seahawks.

Blog Author: 
Peter Davidson

NFL’s VP of Officiating Dean Blandino joined NFL Network’€™s “NFL AM” Friday morning to discuss the much-discussed Jets field goal attempt at the end of last night’€™s game. Here’s a brief excerpt of what he said:

On the referee tapping Patriots linebacker Dont’€™a Hightower on the Jets field goal attempt:

NFL’s VP of Officiating Dean Blandino joined NFL Network’€™s “NFL AM” Friday morning to discuss the much-discussed Jets field goal attempt at the end of last night’€™s game. Here’s a brief excerpt of what he said:

On the referee tapping Patriots linebacker Dont’€™a Hightower on the Jets field goal attempt:

“€œThis is a standard officiating mechanic. We call it preventative officiating. Because it’€™s a player safety rule, we’€™re trying to avoid a situation before it happens so the umpires will get in there and move that player out of there. More often you see it when a player is in a three-point stance and he is down on the line of scrimmage and you’€™ll see the umpire tap the player to move him out of that because we have to be outside the framework of the center. So this is really no different than the line of scrimmage officials pointing out the line to the wideouts and it’€™s a standard mechanic. Not something that would be unusual by any means.”

On if it is on the player to know where he can and cannot be:

“€œIf you watch the play, what [Dont'€™a] Hightower is actually going to do, he’€™s going up to the line to make a line call because then you’€™ll see the defensive line shift. Then he’€™s going to back out. So it is on the player to understand that but we will in certain situations warn players to prevent things from happening, especially when it’€™s a player safety issue and trying to prevent a potential injury situation. Ultimately it’€™s on the player but this is something that has been a mechanic ever since this rule has been in place and like I said, not unusual.”

For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price

ESPN’s Adam Schefter made his weekly appearance on Middays with MFB on Friday to analyze Thursday’s Patriots-Jets game and discuss other NFL news. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.

Adam Schefter

Adam Schefter

ESPN’s Adam Schefter made his weekly appearance on Middays with MFB on Friday to analyze Thursday’s Patriots-Jets game and discuss other NFL news. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.

The heat is on Rex Ryan in New York, as the Jets are 1-6 after Thursday’s 27-25 loss. Although Schefter noted the Jets “played hard” Thursday and clearly have not quit on the season, he acknowledged, “Rex certainly is on the warmest of warm seats right now.”

“I think there’s a lot of people whose jobs are in jeopardy in New York right now. Whether it’s just Rex, whether it’s Rex and the GM, that’s something that they’re going to have to make a decision on here,” Schefter said, adding: “It’s rare that you see too many in-season changes, or changes before Thanksgiving. Once we get to Thanksgiving, to me, all bets are off. Because if you want to go hire a coach like Mike Holmgren or Mike Shanahan or somebody that’s on the street or on the sideline or in the college ranks, it gives you a chance to get a running head start in an above-board, legal, ethical kind of way.”

During his appearance on Middays with MFB on Thursday, ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith claimed general manager John Idzik “sabotaged” Rex Ryan by giving him a weak roster. Schefter disagrees with that assessment.

“I don’t believe that John Idzik sabotaged Rex Ryan,” Schefter said. “I do believe that John Idzik’s approach is not the way that Rex Ryan would approach it. John Idzik had Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, the cornerback, in the building [in the offseason as a free agent]. Darrelle Revis was interested in playing for the New York Jets. John Idzik didn’t get the deal done on Rodgers-Cromartie — the Giants eventually signed him for a price that [Idzik] was unwilling to pay. He didn’t call Darrelle Revis, reach out, for whatever reason. John Idzik’s approach on this is very methodical and patient and conservative. And that’s just not the kind of guy that Rex is. Rex is, ‘Get me a corner. Let’s go get that cornerback right now. And if we have to pay more money, so be it.’ That’s what he wants to do.

“I don’t think that Idzik intentionally sabotaged the roster. His job is in jeopardy, too. So by sabotaging Rex he would be sabotaging himself, maybe. But it’s just the way that he does his business. He’s a very smart Ivy League guy with a financial background, where he ran the cap in Seattle and obviously looked over financial issues and is very careful with the way he spends his team’s money — which in many cases is good. Except when you’re 1-6 like the Jets are, people are screaming for blood and demanding answers, they want to know what’s going on, and right now he’s in the crosshairs of that.”

Things are much calmer in New England, where the Patriots have won three straight and Tom Brady appears to have bounced back after some early season struggles.

“The fact of the matter is he’s still an elite quarterback in this league, he’s still one of the greatest players — players, not just quarterbacks — who’s ever played the game,” Schefter said. “Yeah, he’s a little older, and maybe his skills are semi-diminished. But even semi-diminished he’s still one of the best quarterbacks in the game. There will be times when it doesn’t come easy. But right now they’re in a good spot, they get 10 days off, this was a tired team last night. I think the toll that they had played so many games in so few days was evident in the way they played last night. Now they’ll get 10 days to gear up here for the second half of the season.”

There was some controversy surrounding the final play Thursday, as an official moved Dont’a Hightower so that he would not get a penalty before the Jets attempted a field goal that could have won the game.

Schefter said he understands the NFL’s response that the official was completely in line to handle the situation as he did, however: “I don’t recall seeing an official be that aggressive typically moving players. ‘€¦ It just didn’t pass the eye test.”

Blog Author: 
Jerry Spar
ESPN Insider, Adam Schefter, discusses Rex Ryan's job security, Marvin Lewis concussion comments, as well as the Patriots-Jets

[0:00:32] ... brought to you by Shaw's supermarket -- dropped him. Cam and Maloney Christian Fauria -- invented days with an FB please be joined by Adam kept there. Right now from ESPN. Adam first of all is ...
[0:04:48] ... all bets are off because if you wanna go our coach like. Mike Holmgren Mike Shanahan or somebody that's on the street on the sidelines were college ranks he give you a chance to go to your running ...
[0:08:35] ... to get to hear your thoughts on the deserve a -- from Marvin Lewis or start looking caution saying that a call because of the media and things they seem to linger longer unquote. It up ...

After Jerod Mayo's injury, Patriots Pro Bowl safety Devin McCourty is the next man up on Patriots Friday. He breaks down the Patriots win over the Jets.

[0:00:22] ... that. Our conversation with the next seven -- -- As crusty by Samuel Adams Boston laser and dropped him I heard the music in the background and I got confused and thought maybe -- would still ...
[0:01:27] ... -- the way things went against the jets last year -- -- blocked field goal. You -- personally I think even -- hoopla it. And they're not yet I think more today you unrealized. You know Chris ...
[0:02:02] ... only a couple other guys have played as many as you did Judy Collins got the high power just to name a few. -- one wondered what he was running and beating successful running the football ...
[0:04:56] ... talk a lot what I'm international. Being not so let me just missed tackles on the little. Of course partial solution where he wanted to open group play and you know hole number and you noticed ...

Former NFL official and head of referee's Jim Daopoulos discusses the controversial ending to Jets-Patriots game. He described the actions of the referee as "preventative officiating"

[0:00:39] ... two point if. So we get the block on the fifty yard field goal attempts. From nick pulled the kicker for the year jets who does have a 56 yarder to his Chris good kicker so who ...
[0:05:09] ... moving a little bit wanted it can't control them all he's got exceptional leader and is water. There is something -- the debate with a little bit and here it is because of all the movie goes to solely be yet our control. Jim how do you think when you look at at the -- that the holding. Defense of pass an appearance. Do you think the refs are on the right track as far as what they're calling holding what they're calling it appeared that seems. And other social lighten up on it at the point of emphasis during the during the during the pre season. But is -- -- other light up at any point because there are some calls last night where I'm just shake my ...

Former NFL referee Jim Daopoulos joined Middays with MFB on Friday morning to discuss the controversy surrounding the field goal attempt at the end of the Patriots-Jets game from Thursday night. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.

The Jets attempted to kick a game-winning field goal on the final play of the game. However, Chris Jones blocked the try to seal the Patriots’ win. Before the kick, Dont’€™a Hightower was lined up in front of Jets long snapper Tanner Purdum, which would have been a five-yard penalty.

Before the snap, though, a referee alerted Hightower to move out of the area. That raised the ire of some in New York, but an NFL spokesman said Friday morning that it was “standard operating procedure.”

Said Daopoulos: “It’€™s what we call preventive officiating. It happens many times during a game. It can happen when situations are going on down field, you may talk to a defensive back and tell him to keep his hands off of the receiver. On the line of scrimmage, you may tell a player, ‘Hey, watch yourself, your hands are getting out too wide.’ We see too many flags nowadays, and this is just one of the ways that officials are working to keep the flags down. It was exactly right last night.

“Unfortunately, all of the officials don’€™t work like that, but it was the right call.”

While telling a player to move is one thing, some feel that the grabbing and nudging of Hightower went a little too far. Daopoulos said it’s within the referee’€™s right to do this.

“It’€™s exactly what you need to do,” Daopoulos said. “You give him a little slap on the backside and tell him to move himself over, get off the center’€™s nose, get into the gap. It’€™s not a big deal. You’€™re not going actually grab him and physically move him, just give him a little slap and say, ‘Hey, you’ve got to move.’

“Just kind of let him know that he’€™s out of position. And it’€™s not anything that’€™s illegal, it’€™s something that most officials do. The better officials do it all the time.”

Blog Author: 
Andrew Battifarano
Jonas Gray

Jonas Gray

In wake of running back Stevan Ridley being lost for the season, the Patriots needed to add depth at the running back position.

Prior to Thursday’s game, the Patriots signed Jonas Gray off the practice squad and he was active for the game over rookie running back James White — who had been on the 53-man roster since training camp broke — but has only appeared in one game.

“I think Jonas has been solid for us all the way through preseason — he’€™s done a good job in practice,” Bill Belichick said on a conference call Friday morning. “He got an opportunity last night — not a lot of opportunities — he had some blitz pick up opportunities, a few carries. He works hard, he’€™s a tough kid. More in the [Stevan] Ridley size range — works for us in the kicking game as well. Keep going with that and this is an opportunity for him — unfortunately the way it came out — but he works hard, he deserves it. We’€™ll see what he can do with it.”

Thursday was Gray’s first ever NFL game and he finished with 12 yards on three carries.

By our count — Gray played only 11 snaps — but that was second among running backs as Shane Vereen saw 47 and Brandon Bolden had just one. Moving forward it seems likely Belichick will ride the hot hand each week — based on performance, as well as game planning against their opponent.

For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable