Robby Anderson

Jets WR Robby Anderson says Stephon Gilmore gets away with penalties

Jets WR Robby Anderson says Stephon Gilmore gets away with penalties

Robby Anderson recognized Stephon Gilmore as one of the game's top cornerbacks on Thursday, though it may have been somewhat of a backhanded compliment.

The New York Jets wide receiver, who will see plenty of Gilmore when the Jets and Pats face off on Sunday, called New England's star corner "one of the best" while adding he "holds a lot and gets away with it," per Brian Costello of The New York Post.

Ex-Jets wideout Brandon Marshall chimed in on Twitter to back up Anderson's statement:

Regardless of whether Anderson's comments about Gilmore's holding are true, he's certainly correct in stating he'll need to bring his "A-game." The Patriots opened as 22.5 point favorites over their 0-2 AFC East foe with quarterbacks Sam Darnold and Trevor Siemian both sidelined.

Third-stringer Luke Falk will get the start at QB for Sunday's contest, which kicks off at 1:00 p.m. ET.

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Full Nelson? A look at wide receiver options remaining for Patriots after first wave of free agency

Full Nelson? A look at wide receiver options remaining for Patriots after first wave of free agency

The Patriots haven't landed a go-to receiver in free agency yet. They added Bruce Ellington and Maurice Harris last week. They re-signed Phillip Dorsett. Maybe they're done. Maybe not. Maybe they'd rather execute a trade or dip into the draft at this position. 

There are still opportunities for the team to pick up a free-agent pass-catcher you've heard of before, though.

None of the receivers remaining may be at the same level talent-wise as Golden Tate, Adam Humphries, Jamison Crowder or Cole Beasley. But there are a few who may provide Bill Belichick's receiver room another level of depth. Below we lay out some of the bigger names available, their ages, and a stat that might indicate how they could provide the Patriots some value. All stats are courtesy of Pro Football Focus unless otherwise noted.

Randall Cobb, 28, 87.9 percent of snaps in the slot in 2018
(Update: Cobb has reportedly signed a one-year deal with Dallas)
Cobb has dealt with injuries in recent seasons, but he understands leverage and knows how to operate among the safeties and linebackers who occupy the middle of the field. He's also accustomed to working with a demanding quarterback, which might make a potential transition to New England a little smoother than it would be for others. Cobb likely won't command as much as other slots have this offseason considering he played in just nine games last season. Spotrac has his market value estimated at two years and about $8 million per year. Cobb will be 29 when the 2019 season begins.

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Jordy Nelson, 33, 100.9 rating when targeted in 2018
Nelson makes sense on a few different fronts, despite the fact he'd be among the oldest players on the Patriots roster. Like Cobb, he understands what it's like to play with a meticulous quarterback. Like Cobb, he has some slot experience, though not nearly as much. Last season, just over a third of his snaps (34.3) were run from the inside. That versatility, though, would suit Nelson in New England. Nelson's next team might also be intrigued by his production in a below-average offense. His 100.9 rating when targeted placed him ahead of Antonio Brown, Odell Beckham, Larry Fitzgerald, Mike Evans and JuJu Smith-Schuster. Signing Nelson would not count against New England's compensatory-pick formula since he was released by Oakland. He'll be 34 when the season begins.

Jermaine Kearse, 29, 1.79 yards per slot route run in 2017
The former Seahawks and Jets wideout is two years removed from a career year in which he had 65 grabs on 102 targets for 810 yards and five touchdowns. His 1.79 yards per route run from the slot that season put him ahead of Doug Baldwin, Jarvis Landry, Tyler Locket, Emmanuel Sanders and Crowder. Can he still hit that level? Kearse's pace slowed significantly last year, as he caught 37 passes for 371 yards with rookie Sam Darnold behind center in New York. In five career games against the Patriots, Kearse has 20 catches for 275 yards, including a 45-yard effort for Seattle in Super Bowl XLIX. He played 77.5 percent of his snaps in the slot in 2018.

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Robby Anderson, 25, 16.5 average air yards per target in 2018
Anderson (6-3, 190) doesn't fit the profile of the types of receivers the Patriots have been after. He's not immune to slot work, but he saw just under 24 percent of his snaps come from the inside last season. He's more of a classic deep threat, as his 16.5 average air yards per target -- third in the league, per Next Gen Stats -- would indicate. The Patriots could benefit from that type of "X" receiver presence, especially with the uncertainty surrounding Josh Gordon's availability for next season. Anderson is a restricted free agent and has been given a second-round tender so not only would the Patriots need to give Anderson a contract, but they'd also have to relinquish a second-rounder. That might be a price to steep to pay, especially for someone who is just over a year removed from a high-profile arrest. Anderson will be 26 when the season begins. 

Pierre Garcon, 32, No. 19 receiver by PFF grade in 2017
This would be a lightning-in-a-bottle signing if it ever came to be. Garcon will be 33 when the 2019 season begins. He's played eight games in each of the last two seasons and 809 snaps total. He's had lingering knee issues, and he had to have arthroscopic knee surgery in December. In 2017, before his season was cut short, he hit a 1.79 yards per route run mark, placing him just ahead of then-Patriots wideout Brandin Cooks (1.78). If there's any chance he could get back to where he was before getting injured that season, he'd give the Patriots a boundary presence should Gordon be unavailable. 

Michael Crabtree, 31, 11.2 yards per catch in 2018
Hard to know where Crabtree's game is at given the situation he found himself in last year. He graded out as one of the worst receivers in the league among regulars, according to PFF, but when he caught passes, they usually resulted in chunks of yardage. That's saying something considering Baltimore's offense. His 13.2 percent of snaps in the slot last season won't put him on many radars for those looking for quick-hitting options, and there's not much about his recent past that screams he's deserving of a shot in New England. He did "squash" his beef with Aqib Talib, though, reportedly. At a go-kart track. So there's that.

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Fantasy Beat: Sony Michel could bounce back vs. Jets Sunday

Fantasy Beat: Sony Michel could bounce back vs. Jets Sunday

Fantasy football owners seem to get smarter every year. The leagues seem to get deeper. The competition seems to get better. That's partially because of the sheer amount of information available to fantasy geeks willing to put the time in. But it's not always easy to find sound fantasy advice on players filling out the back ends of fantasy depth charts. 

That's where we'll try to help fill in the gaps. Every week, we'll look at the Patriots matchup and try to help you decide which players to start and which to sit -- or which to invest in if you're playing in a daily format. You know you're playing Tom Brady, Julian Edelman and James White every week, regardless of format. You know you're playing Rob Gronkowski, when healthy. But this is where we'll delve a little deeper with the information we've gleaned by being on the beat. Hopefully someone somewhere finds it helpful.

START
JOSH GORDON, WR, PATRIOTS

I know. I know. You were disappointed that Josh Gordon couldn't come through for you when checked by Adoree Jackson in Tennessee two weekends ago. But you can't turn away from him now. He's been targeted a whopping 27 times in the last three weeks, and you can bet the Patriots spent a portion of their bye week cooking up ways to find more explosive passing plays. They rank 28th in football in explosive pass play percentage through 10 weeks, and if they want to find themselves more chunk gains then Gordon will factor into the mix. Add in the fact that Rob Gronkowski should be back, and that should mean less attention paid to Gordon, and potentially more room to work. You can feel comfortable with him as a WR2 this week.

SONY MICHEL, RB, PATRIOTS
The Jets have been OK against the run over the course of the season, allowing 4.2 yards per carry, which ranks 13th in the league. But lately? Not so much. They allowed LeSean McCoy to go off for 113 yards in Week 10, and Marcus Murphy picked up another 69 on 14 carries. And that was an offense that had no threat in the passing game. Sony Michel should be able to take advantage. Remember he had three consecutive games of over 100 total yards earlier this season. He should be healthier. And he should have more opportunities than he had against the Titans when the Patriots were behind on the scoreboard throughout. He's a legitimate RB2 this week.

ROB GRONKOWSKI, TE, PATRIOTS
It's been almost a month since Rob Gronkowski last played in a game. And he's missed three of his last four. He can't be viewed as the top fantasy option at his position, but he's still better than most, and he should be starting in all formats if he's active. With Dwayne Allen injured, expect Gronkowski to get a full workload if he's in uniform. Austin Hooper, Greg Olsen and Jack Doyle all may be better options, but for those of you who've been rolling with CJ Uzomah and Jeff Heuerman while Gronkowski sits on your bench, this is the week you've been waiting for. 

SIT
ROBBY ANDERSON, WR, JETS

Never mind that Robby Anderson is coming back off of an ankle sprain -- he was inactive Week 10 -- but this just isn't an ideal matchup for the Jets wideout. The Patriots defense, despite giving up a big day to Tennessee's Corey Davis, is among the league's best in terms of yards allowed per attempt (seventh, 7.2). Plus, the Jets quarterback situation isn't great right now. And that's being kind. Sam Darnold has a quarterback rating of 68.3 this season, and if he can't start than it's time for Josh McCown. His rating in 56 snaps this year? 35.8, which is only a tick better than Nathan Peterman's 30.7. Don't start anyone catching passes for the Jets this week. 

ISAIAH CROWELL, RB, JETS
Might as well open up that Jets fantasy ban to anyone touching the football for them this weekend. Including Isaiah Crowell. He's a threat to get into the end zone as the Jets goal line back, but those opportunities are difficult to predict. Crowell's offensive line is one of the worst in football, and if the Jets are down, he shouldn't see much work. Can't be trusted. Fantasy-wise. I don't know the man. 

CHRIS HOGAN, WR, PATRIOTS
We've covered Hogan's standing in the Patriots offense extensively. You can read all about it here. He's saying the right things, and if Gronkowski is back in the fold soon perhaps he finds himself running through wider openings in the secondary. But at this point, having seen six targets in the last three games combined, it's not all that wise to use him as a starter. 

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