Football with the Fantasy Freak: Week 13


Football with the Fantasy Freak: Week 13

Every Friday, Fantasy Football Draft Guides Scott Gramling (a.k.a. The Fantasy Freak) will help you make the tough decisions for your fantasy teamthe sneaky sleepers that could make or break your matchup, as well as those players you may want to consider leaving on your fantasy bench. He also delves into a hot topic with our Question of the Week. Follow Scott on Twitter @nflfantasyfreak, and watch him every Friday on UNO's Sports Tonight at 6:30 pm. To submit a question to be considered for appearing on the air, do so through Twitter@CSNNE or through our Facebook page at www.facebook.comcsnne.

Week 13 Sleeper of the Week: Jets Defense
I know the Jets are coming off a game in which they gave up 49 points to the Patriots, but a) some of those points were due to mistakes made by the Jets offense and special teams and b) it was the Patriots, who have the NFLs top offense. Arizonas offense is a far cry from New Englands, especially with rookie Ryan Lindley making his second career start as Kevin Kolb continues to be sidelined with a rib injury. Lindley was awful against the Rams, throwing four interceptions, two of which were pick-sixes. Not only do I like the Jets in this matchup, but I like them next week too, against Jacksonville. And with Tennessees offense such a mess that the Titans fired offensive coordinator Chris Palmer this week, Id consider starting the Jets defense against them the following week. Theres not a fantasy defense in the league with a more attractive three-week stretch coming up than the Jets have with Arizona, Jacksonville and Tennessee.

Week 13 Sleeper No. 2: Eagles RB Bryce Brown
LeSean McCoy remains in Phase 1 of his recovery from a concussion, which means Brown will get the start on Sunday against the Cowboys. With Philadelphias season in the tank, its certainly possible that McCoy will remain sidelined far beyond Sunday, especially if Brown performs like he did while racking up 189 yards and 2 TDs on 23 touches on Monday night against the Panthers. The one downside to Browns performance on Monday is that he lost two fumbles, but I dont expect that to be a factor in terms of costing him playing time, and thats because Philadelphia is simply playing out the string. He ran with authority while showing an impressive combination of speed and power. With the way Andy Reid likes to ride one running back as opposed to using a committee, theres no reason why Brown cant be a top-10 fantasy running back not only for Week 13, but for as long as McCoy remains sidelined.

Week 13 Sleeper No. 3: Lions RB Ryan Broyles
Lions receiver Titus Young was suspended by head coach Jim Schwartz for the Thanskgiving Day gamethe Detroit Free Press reported this week that Young had "purposely lined up in the wrong spot on the field multiple times" in Detroit's Week 11 loss to the Packers. Broyles stepped in as the starting receiver opposite Calvin Johnson against the Texans on Thanskgiving, and Broyles responded with six catches for 126 yards. Young returned to practice this week but was running with the Lions backups, signaling that Broyles will likely remain in the starting lineup for a favorable matchup against a Colts defense that has given up the fifth-most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers this season.

Week 13 Bust No. 1: All Steelers running backs
Each of the Steelers running backsRashad Mendenhall, Isaac Redman, Jonathan Dwyer and Chris Raineylost a fumble in the teams Week 12 loss to the Browns, as the team fumbled eight times while losing five of them. Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin was quoted this week as saying that he "wants to stay with a primary back for now," so hes clearly been convinced that the committee approach is not working. Tomlin singled out Dwyer as having been the most consistent and productive guy, and the numbers bear that out: Dwyer has averaged 4.4 yards on 98 carries this season and posted back-to-back 100-yard games as the feature back in Weeks 7 and 8 while Redman and Mendenhall were sidelined. As long as Dwyer remains healthy, hes the only Steelers running back who can be started in fantasy leagues, but not until Ben Roethlisberger returns to the lineup to keep opposing defenses from being able to focus on stopping the Pittsburgh running game.
Week 13 Bust No. 2: Panthers RB DeAngelo Williams
I know Williams is slated to get the start against the Chiefs if Jonathan Stewart cant go because of an ankle sprain, but that doesnt mean he should be in your fantasy lineup. Williams has been averaged only 3.2 yards per carry this season, and in the two games Stewart missed earlier this season, Williams totaled just 77 yards from scrimmage with no touchdowns over the two games.

Week 13 Bust No. 3: Broncos RB Knowshon Moreno
After not having touched the ball since Week 2, Knowshon Moreno made a surprise start in the absence of Willis McGahee and gained 111 yards from scrimmage on 24 touches in Week 12. The impressive performance came against the Chiefs, however, who this season have given up the fifth-most fantasy points to opposing running backs. Moreno this week faces a Tampa Bay defense that allows the fewest rushing yards per game (81.5) and carry (3.4) in the NFL.

Question of the Week:
Is Giants rookie RB David Wilson worth picking up now that Andre Brown is out for the season?
Its his time, is what Tom Coughlin said this week about Wilson. I know the Giants signed both Ryan Torain and Kregg Lumpkin, but Im assuming thats for running back depth and that Wilson will be the No. 2 back behind Ahmad Bradshaw for as long as he holds onto the football and doesnt miss any blocking assignments that get Eli Manning killed. If youre an Ahmad Bradshaw owner and Wilson is available on your leagues waiver wire, you must pick up Wilson as insurance. If you dont have Bradshaw but have some dead weight among the running backs on your roster, you may want to roll the dice and pick Wilson up. Id consider him one of the top fantasy backup running backs because of the fact that Bradshaw is injury-prone and because Wilson would have considerable upside in a high-scoring offense if he were to get the starting role should something happen to Bradshaw.

Injury Update:
CHICAGO RB Matt Forte (sprained ankle) expects to play, but could be limited . . . MINNESOTA WR Percy Harvin (ankle) is doubtful to play . . . GREEN BAY WR Greg Jennings (groin) practiced fully on Thursday and it appears that he will be able to suit for the first time since Week 4 . . . ST. LOUIS WR Danny Amendola (heel) is doubtful to play on Sunday . . . CAROLINA RB Jonathan Stewart (two sprained ankles) is not expected to play this weekend . . . DETROIT RB Mikel Leshoure (ankle) returned to practice on Thursday and is probable this weekend . . . JACKSONVILLE top WRs Cecil Shorts (hamstring) and Justin Blackmon (groin) both missed Thursdays practice and are questionable for Sunday. RBs Maurice Jones-Drew and Jalen Parmele (groin) are both out . . . NEW ENGLAND TE Rob Gronkowski (forearm) will not play on Sunday, but could return in Week 14 . . . HOUSTON RB Ben Tate (hamstring) expects to return to the field for the first time since Week 7 . . . PITTSBURGH QB Ben Roethlisberger (shoulder, ribs) is doubtful to play on Sunday, but the Steelers could wait until right before game time to determine if he or Charlie Batch will start . . . CLEVELAND QB Brandon Weeden (concussion) practiced fully on Thursday and is on track to start in Oakland . . . OAKLAND RB Darren McFadden (sprained ankle) will return to action Sunday, but will not get a full workload . . . CINCINNATI WRs Andrew Hawkins (knee) and Mohamed Sanu (foot) are both questionable. Hawkins has a better chance of playing and Sanu may be a game-time decision . . . PHILADELPHIA RB LeSean McCoy (concussion) remains out indefinitely . . . DALLAS RB DeMarco Murray (foot) expects to play for the first time since Week 6. WR Miles Austin (hamstring, hip) was limited in Thursdays practice and is listed as questionable.

QUICK SLANTS THE PODCAST: Jerod Mayo breaks down the best way for Patriots to attack Jaguars defense


QUICK SLANTS THE PODCAST: Jerod Mayo breaks down the best way for Patriots to attack Jaguars defense

Jerod Mayo talks with Tom E. Curran and Phil Perry about the Patriots AFC Championship matchup with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

(2:00) Jerod Mayo gives his X’s and O’s breakdown of the Jaguars defensive schemes and traits.

(5:00) Jerod gives his opinion on how the Patriots offense should attack the Jaguars defense.

(8:30) Could Gronkowski be the key to the Patriots offense? What would be the best way to use him?

(15:00) Does the Jaguars defense have a weakness against vertical routes?

(17:00) Jerod Mayo explains why James White could be a key once again for the Patriots. 

(21:00) Will Jaguars change their defensive scheme after allowing 42 to the Steeler?

(23:00) Will much will the Jaguars having the ‘nothing to lose’ mindset impact the game?

Sounds like some Bruins players suffering from Claude fatigue


Sounds like some Bruins players suffering from Claude fatigue

BRIGHTON, Mass – The resume for Claude Julien speaks for itself in terms of greatness in Boston, so he certainly will get a warm ovation from the TD Garden crowd in his first visit back to Boston since getting fired last February. Julien coached the Boston Bruins for 10 years, won a franchise record 419 games over that time span, made it to the Cup Finals twice and of course hoisted the Cup in 2011.

It won’t matter that he’s now the head coach of the Montreal Canadiens when Julien gets his video tribute, and basks a long ovation similar to the one he received when he was recognized for passing Art Ross on the B’s all-time wins list a couple of season ago. The warmth will be a little weird in the middle of a Bruins/Canadiens rivalry game, but it’s clear that Bruins fans appreciate the job done by Julien for such a long period of time.

The mutual respect was also clear when players like Patrice Bergeron spoke warmly of their coach ahead of last weekend’s showdown in Montreal, which the Bruins eventually pulled out in a shootout at the Bell Centre.

But it would seem the Bruins are starting to get a little tired of tossing verbal bouquets at the guy that’s now behind the Habs bench. It all started with Tuukka Rask’s postgame reaction on Saturday when asked if there was any extra emotion going up against his old coach for the first time.

“He was not playing a shift on the ice, so it doesn’t really matter. He was coaching, so it was nothing special,” said Rask, matter-of-factly.

So there wasn’t any added emotion for Rask going up against Julien’s new team for the first time?

“Nope,” said Rask.   

That line of questioning continued again after Tuesday’s practice at Warrior Ice Arena with Julien coming back to the Garden for the first time.

“Well, I can tell you what’s going to happen,” said Rask. “We’re going to start the game, at some point there’s going to be a video montage, we’re going to tap our sticks and the crowd is going to clap their hands and give him a warm welcome. Then the game is going to continue.”

Does Rask expect either he or some of his longtime teammates will get emotional if they see Julien showing some emotion during his ovation?

“No,” said Rask.

Is it really that cut-and-dry, the Bruins goaltender was asked?  

“It’s just another game,” said Rask, who improved to 8-15-3 lifetime against the Montreal Canadiens after last weekend’s shootout win. “It’s probably special for him to come back and be on the other side, but for us it’s just another game.”

Similarly, Marchand was much more understated speaking about Julien on Tuesday after speaking enthusiastically last weekend about the many discussions player and coach had about “becoming a better a pro” early in his career. But the Bruins winger wasn’t about to get all warm and fuzzy when asked about any greeting that his former coach is expected to get while the legendary Bruins/Habs rivalry plays out on the ice.

“I’m not really looking forward to it, but I’m sure he is,” said Marchand, when asked about the fan reception from Bruins fans awaiting Julien on Wednesday night. “It doesn’t really have anything to do with me, but I’m sure he’s excited to come back. He’s deserved that video and I’m sure a lot of people will be excited to see him again. I’m sure it will be a memorable game.”

Marchand went on to say he "learned a lot" from Julien during their time together, and clearly still has a high level of respect for his former coach. 

 Maybe it’s the very nature of the Bruins/Habs rivalry, or maybe the Bruins players are suffering from a little Claude Julien question fatigue with the two teams playing three times in a span of eight days. Maybe we're even finally seeing some of the Bruins players that had tired of the longtime coach's methods by the end of his long-running tenure in Boston. 

But it sure sounds like some longtime Bruins players might be over it when it comes to the “Claude Bowl” aspect of the ongoing rivalry week between the two storied rivals.