Gronk Cleared To Play

18 October 2013


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Those of you patiently waiting for New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski to make his return…you’re wait appears to be over. He has been cleared to play this week against the New York Jets.
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Gronk should be inserted to virtually all fantasy lineups. The main exceptions would be if you have Julius Thomas or Jordan Cameron on  your roster. They have delivered this year and may not be worth the risk in case Gronk is on a snap count.
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Gronk should be the primary target for Tom Brady in the red zone.
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Tom Brady spiral
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We are hours away from the start of the second week of the 2013 NFL season as the New York Jets take on the New England Patriots in Gillette Stadium. It’s also the kickoff for the second week of the fantasy football season. Here’s a look of players that should be in your lineups tonight.
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Quarterbacks
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady should be in virtually all fantasy football lineups despite a limited array of options. He’s just too good to not use. Last week Brady threw for 288 yards and a pair of touchdowns against the Buffalo Bills. In two games against the New York Jets last year, Brady threw for 582 yards and five touchdowns while adding another score on the ground.
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Geno Smith can be used in two-quarterback leagues, but that’s the extent of it. He was decent in the season opener, throwing for 256 yards and a touchdown while adding 47 yards on the ground against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Patriots gave up 150 passing yards, two touchdowns and 23 rushing yards to fellow rookie E.J. Manuel last week, but I think Bill Belichick will come up with a creative scheme to confuse Smith. Plus, he just doesn’t have the weapons.
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Running Backs
Stevan Ridley fumbled his way to the sidelines last week, but a wrist injury to Shane Vereen opened the door to allow Ridley to escape the doghouse. Ridley ran well when he did hold on to the football, gaining 46 yards on nine carries. LeGarrette Blount is waiting in the wings in case Ridley fumbles again, but that is not a risk worth taking for fantasy owners. Brandon Bolden (knee) is not ready to be trusted yet either.
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Bilal Powell rushed for 29 yards on 14 carries last week against the Bucs. Chris Ivory had 15 yards on 10 carries. Powell has a little more upside thanks to his four receptions for 35 yards, but neither are an attractive option against a defense that held C.J. Spiller to 55 total yards.
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Wide Receivers
Julian Edelman was a popular guy on the waiver wire this week after catching seven passes for 79 yards and a pair of touchdowns in the season opener. He’s worth a look on fantasy rosters simply because he’s Brady’s most trusted weapon. Kenbrell Thompkins had just four catches for 42 yards last week, but he’s worth considering based on the 14 targets he received. Josh Broyce and Aaron Dobson should only be used in sheer desperation.
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Speaking of desperation, your cup must runneth over if you are considering any of the Jets’ wide receivers. Jeremy Kerley had the most success last week with four catches for 45 yards, but he is out with a concussion. Stephen Hill caught six passes for 39 yards. He has plenty of athleticism, but it has seldom translated into production on the field. Santonio Holmes (foot) caught just one pass for 13 yards last week.
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Tight Ends
Rob Gronkowski is expected to miss this week. Zach Sudfeld did not catch a pass last week and is dealing with a hamstring injury. Michael Hoomanawanui caught one pass for five yards last week, but is not a desirable play. There isn’t a good play here.
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Kellen Winslow was one of the biggest surprises last week with seven catches for 79 yards and a touchdown. Considering the dearth of quality options at wide receiver for the Jets, Winslow isn’t a bad fantasy option this week.
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Defenses
The New York Jets have so few quality options on offense. Throw in a rookie quarterback playing on the road. Things don’t look good, which makes this an attractive game to use the New England Patriots defense. The Patriots currently rank ninth in the league in total defense after holding the Bills to 286 yards last week. The Jets managed just 304 yards and 18 points last week.
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The New York Jets defense ranks fourth in total defense after holding the Bucs to 250 yards. Though they are banged up, the Patriots’ offense is too potent to recommend using the Jets’ defense.
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There aren’t many things more frustrating than your running back sitting on the bench because of ball control issues, especially when he was off to a solid start with 46 yards on nine carries. That’s 5.1 yards per crack.
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To make matters worse, Shane Vereen ran with his opportunity, racking up 101 yards on the ground and another 58 yards on seven receptions as the New England Patriots held off the Buffalo Bills in the season opener.
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Plus, his coach (Bill Belichick) is not afraid to let a player rot in the doghouse, especially when the replacement is well-suited for the high-octane offense the Patriots like to employ.
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Ridley’s fantasy owners had to sit in disbelief as they just lost one of their starting running backs. Not to mention, the hole Ridley put them in with his performance.
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Fortunately for Ridley owners, he caught a break…literally. Vereen broke a small bone in his wrist against the Bills. While it didn’t force him out of the action, it did require surgery, which will keep him out a couple of games.
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This doesn’t mean that Ridley’s job is entirely safe, but it does mean that he gets a couple of weeks to redeem himself.
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The Patriots are at their best when Ridley serves the role of the workhorse back while Vereen serves the change-of-pace and third-down back roles.
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LeGarrette Blount is there should the fumbling issues resurface for Ridley, but he managed just 15 yards on seven carries. Blount isn’t much of a threat to Ridley.
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Kenbrell Thompkins
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New England Patriots receiver Kenbrell Thompkins had a coming out party in Thursday’s blowout loss to the Detroit Lions. The undrafted free agent caught eight passes for 116 yards to take a first grasp on a the starting job opposite of Danny Amendola for the Pats.
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He will be taking over the role occupied by Brandon Lloyd last year. Despite a rocky season, he still finished with 74 catches on 130 targets for 911 yards and four touchdowns. He finished second on the team in receptions, targets, and receiving yards.
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There will be plenty of looks available as Wes Welker, Lloyd, Aaron Hernandez and Danny Woodhead combined for 443 targets. Thompkins has positioned himself to be the team’s primary deep threat. He may not put up consistent numbers and become a points per reception whiz like Danny Amendola, but his early chemistry with Tom Brady suggests that he could become the next Patriots receiver to flourish.
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Wes Welker had modest numbers before joining the Patriots. Deion Branch was a different players when he was playing with Brady compared to his time with the Seattle Seahawks. Obviously Randy Moss is an elite talent, but even he went to the next level with Brady. Even David Patten had some fantasy relevance with Brady.
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Thompkins has decent size and speed, plenty of athleticism, the flexibility to play in any receiver position and a toughness that should endear him to Patriots fans.
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Aaron Dobson will be waiting in the wings to steal some of Thompkins’ reps, but there should be plenty to go around. Plus, Amendola has a tendency to get hurt so both rookies should make an impact.
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New England Patriots wide receiver Brandon Lloyd came into the season full of promise. Josh McDaniels has been able to  get the most out of him with the likes of Sam Bradford and Kyle Orton. Surely as Tom Brady’s best downfield threat since Randy Moss, Lloyd would have a banner year in New England.
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Up until a couple of weeks ago, this wasn’t the case.
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Lloyd got off to a mediocre start with 69 and 60 yards in the first two weeks. Then next two weeks were solid for Lloyd as he recorded his first 100-yard game of the season in Week 3 against the Baltimore Ravens and scored his first touchdown of the year in Week 4 against the Buffalo Bills.
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The next three-game stretch Lloyd had 34, 80, and six yards respectively. With five games with eight or fewer fantasy points, Lloyd wasn’t exactly a strong option. Especially when you consider he had just 10.8 and 11 fantasy points in his two “good games”.
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Week 8 brought an interesting game for Lloyd. He only caught two passes and finished with just 28 yards, but he scored a touchdown on both catches. Sure, the two touchdowns were great, but he still managed to score just 14.8 fantasy points in this one.
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The next five weeks were brutal for Lloyd. He had a bye in Week 9 and totaled just 126 yards in four games. That’s an average of 31.5 yards or 3.15 fantasy points per game.
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Lloyd owners were likely at their wits’ end and his next two games were against the Houston Texans and the San Francisco 49ers.
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Lloyd shrugged off the tough matchups and had 89 yards and a touchdowns against the Texans and a career-high 190 yards against the Niners. Go figure. You may have had Lloyd in your lineup against the Niners following the Texans’ game, but it is hard to imagine that Lloyd going against Houston.
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This week he takes on the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Jags rank 24th against the pass, not that Brady couldn’t shred even the top-ranked defense. On paper it seems like Lloyd is a good play.
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The trouble is outside of Wes Welker, Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski (when healthy), it is hard to truly trust anyone in the Patriots’ passing attack.
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I feel that he’s a solid WR3 this week, but a lot of uncertainty remains. I would use him if he’s your best option, but I would probably shy away if I had a safer quality play.
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New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman has had a nice two-game run. That fact is not lost on me. Neither is the fact that he is a better football player than his numbers suggest. With that in mind, should Julian Edelman Be on Your Fantasy Football Team?
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Through the first ten weeks Edelman had 100 receiving yards, one touchdown, and a carry that cost him five yards. Julian had two games with more than two receptions.
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Over the past two weeks Edelman has combined for 122 yards and two touchdowns on seven receptions. This Jack-of-All-Trades added 50 rushing yards and scored on a punt return, as well as a returned fumble of a kickoff.
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Many fantasy football players jumped to the conclusion that with Rob Gronkowski out, Edelman would see an uptick in targets. Those that rolled with him were rewarded with a second straight two-touchdown day, but he only had three targets. He caught two passes and had one carry.
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That has to be a little troublesome for fantasy owners.
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Seven Patriots caught a pass on the day. Aaron Hernandez, who made his return in time to replace Gronk, only had three targets. You know that number will go up. Plus, the Patriots ran the ball 39 times.
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The Patriots like to mix things up. Danny Woodhead had things going on, averaging 4.5 receptions from Week 6-10. He did not have a touch in Week 11 and only three in Week 12.
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Bill Belichick does not just keep opposing defensive coordinators guessing. He keeps fantasy owners guessing.
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The other concern is the hit that force Edelman out of the game. Fortunately the Patriots played on Thursday this week to give Edelman additional time to get cleared for next week’s matchup with the Miami Dolphins. Still, anytime the head is involved, there is cause for concern.
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I can’t promise you that Edelman have another strong game against Miami. I can promise you that his usage is more unpredictable than your other WR3 or flex options. Use him at your own risk.
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In the Patriots pass-happy world it has been Tom Brady, a plethora of wide receivers, and more recently his monster tight end combo that have been the apple of the fantasy world’s eye. The running back scene has been one to almost avoid. Coming off a 125 yard (152 total yards), one touchdown day from Stevan Ridley, perhaps it’s the dawn of a new day.
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The Patriots remain a passing team at heart, and there are other options in the passing game, but the sports betting online news would suggest that the starting running back gig is Stevan Ridley’s to lose. After his brilliant start, that shouldn’t happen any time soon.
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Ridley was impressive last year, averaging 5.1 yards per carry on his 87 rushing attempts. That ability to move the chains is why the Patriots found BenJarvus Green-Ellis expendable.
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Againt the Titans Ridley averaged 6.0 yards per tote on his 21 carries. He managed to get in the end zone on a one-yard plunge to equal his touchdown total from last year.
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Another area that he showed improvement was in the passing game. His 27 receiving yards were more than double his rookie season total and his two catches were one shy of the three he caught all of last year.
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Danny Woodhead had six carries, Brandon Bolden had five, and Aaron Hernandez had one. Woodhead should continue to get a few looks, as will Shane Vareen when he returns from his most recent ailment. Neither appear to threaten the 5’11, 220 pound Ridley.
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While I wouldn’t expect 150+ total yards or even 20+ carries on a weekly basis, he is looking like a solid RB2.
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