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Week 15 Starts/Sits: Romo on the rebound
QB Tony Romo, Dal at Phi While the aggregate Yahoo rankings have Romo slotted as the No. 10 fantasy QB for this week, I'm much more bullish than that, awarding him top 5 placement among signal callers. It's true that Romo had his worst fantasy effort of the season against Philly (199/0/2) in Week 13. But that was a rare slip up in what has been an excellent fantasy run for Romo over the past month, throwing for at least three touchdowns in three of the past four games (all road games). The Eagles allow the second-most fantasy points to the QB position, so the odds favor Romo rebounding in a big way in his second go-round with his division rivals, especially considering he's had 10 days to prepare.
RB Latavius Murray, Oak at KC Murray is currently being started in less than a quarter of Yahoo leagues, which is crazy when you consider he rushed for more than 100 yards and scored two touchdowns (on just four carries) against the Chiefs a few weeks back. Murray suffered a concussion in that game, or he probably would have posted a fantasy line for the ages. And last week, he answered questions about his health with 23 carries in an upset victory over San Francisco. Facing a Chiefs defense allowing more than 5.0 yards per carry to the RB position, Murray has a can't-miss opportunity ahead. Catch this train if you still can.
RB Steven Jackson, Atl vs. Pit While it hasn't always been pretty, Jackson has been one of the most productive backs in fantasy since Week 8, ranking No. 16 at the RB position in fantasy points scored in that span. In five of those six contests, he's reached a double-digit fantasy tally. And with his standard 16-18 touch workload, he should be able to eclipse the 10-point mark once again against a Pittsburgh defense that has allowed 11 running backs to score in the double digits.
WR DeAndre Hopkins, Hou at Ind Trying to clear concussion protocol, Andre Johnson is shaping up to be a game--time decision. As he hasn't practiced all week, I'm guessing that he won't play on Sunday. And that would make teammate Hopkins the clear and present go-to guy for QB Ryan Fitzpatrick. Johnson finished with 99 yards and a TD in the last meeting with Indy. And while the Colts have been one of the better units at limiting WR production, I think Hopkins (if Johnson is out) can also push 100 yards and a TD on the strength of a high volume of targets in a game where the Colts are likely to push the pace and force Houston to throw.
[Week 15 rankings: Quarterback Running Back Receiver Tight End Kicker DST]
WR Donte Moncrief, Ind vs. Hou Reggie Wayne is dealing with a torn triceps and Hakeem Nicks is dealing with the cold hard reality of a rapidly diminishing skill set, which makes it no surprise that Moncrief played a season-high 50 snaps last week. Wayne and Nicks have combined for just nine catches and 62 yards over the past three games (with Nicks contributing one catch and 16 yards). If ever it was time for Moncrief to step up, it's now. Houston has allowed the second-most fantasy PPG to the WR position and has historically been eaten alive by Colts wideout T.Y. Hilton, who caught all nine of his targets for 223 yards and a TD when these teams squared off in Week 6. Assuming Hilton draws extra attention this time around, don't be surprised if Moncrief delivers 100-plus yards and a TD for what would be the third time in his past seven games.
TE - Larry Donnell, NYG vs Was Donnell has a rematch this week against the team that helped put him on the fantasy map, as he rolled the 'Skins for a hat trick of touchdowns in Week 4. And Washington has shown little in the way of improvement at defending the tight end, as the team has allowed has allowed the top-scoring tight end in each of the past two weeks (Coby Fleener and Jared Cook).
QB Mark Sanchez, Phi vs. Sea I'm doubling down on Sanchez as a "Sit" nominee after he filled this space (for good reason) last week against Seattle. The Cowboys don't offer nearly the resistance against the pass that Seattle does, but they did a good job of shutting Sanchez down through the air in the Week 9 matchup (217 yards, 1 TD pass, 0 INT). Sanchez was able to salvage a respectable fantasy line thanks to a TD run, something that you can't really bank on a repeat. Sanchez's yards per pass attempt is in a freefall as the opposition sees more and more game film of him directing this Eagles attack. I have a feeling he's going to deliver a mediocre fantasy line that will have the team hoping that Nick Foles can return in time to face Washington in Week 16.
RB Gio Bernard, Cin @ Cle Since his return from a hip injury, Bernard ranks outside the top 35 among running backs in fantasy PPG (5.2 average in three contests). This week, rookie backfield mate Jeremy Hill is getting the start and an expected elevated role, presumably coming at the expense of Gio's workload. Given his recent lack of production and the matchup (on the road against a Cleveland defense the fifth-fewest fantasy PPG to the RB position since Week 8), Bernard is not a player that should be counted upon in such an important week for fantasy owners.
RB Rashad Jennings, NYG vs Was Giants head coach Tom Coughlin said that Jennings should be ready to take on a larger role after handling just two carries last week while dealing with an ankle injury. Considering that rookie Andre Williams stepped up with 27 touches for 148 yards and a TD, it's hard to believe that he'd return to a strict backup role behind Jennings this week. There's a good chance that Jennings and Williams split the workload in half this week, and the matchup is likely going to require healthy volume to deliver fruitful fantasy returns as Washington is among the best in the league at defending the run (fourth-fewest fantasy points allowed to the RB position).
WR Mike Wallace, Mia at NE When Miami faced New England in Week 1, Wallace posted his best fantasy line of the season (7/81/1). Unfortunately, he hasn't reached that catch total or yardage number in any of the 12 games since then. And he definitely benefited from the Pats' decision to not have cornerback Darrelle Revis shadow him, something that could happen this time around. Even if it doesn't, I wouldn't bank on the No. 50 fantasy WR (fantasy PPG) since Week 8 coming close to a repeat of his Week 1 performance against a secondary that has allowed the fourth-fewest fantasy PPG to the WR position.
WR Golden Tate, Det vs. Min I have slotted Tate outside of WR2 range this week as he faces a Minnesota defense that doesn't get enough credit for its pass defense this season. When Tate faced the Vikings in Week 6, he managed just seven catches for 44 yards. And while he might not be as much of a focus for the Vikings this time around considering that Calvin Johnson will be active, Tate can't be counted upon to find the end zone (he's scoreless in the five games since Megatron returned from injury). In PPR leagues, Tate still has some upside, but in standard 12-team leagues, I'd look for a better option.
TE - Jason Witten, Dal at Phi Witten has only one double-digit fantasy performance this season, and he is just two weeks removed from his worst fantasy effort of the year, a 1-catch, eight-yard clunker against an Eagles defense that he faces again this Sunday. Last week, he could manage just two catches for 26 yards against a Chicago defense allowing the most fantasy PPG to the TE position. Given the terrible recent history against Philly, and the fact that the Eagles have allowed the sixth-fewest fantasy points to opposing tight ends, you can't start Witten with any level of confidence this week. I like Romo this week, but he's going to need Witten to stay in-line to block for him against an attacking Philly pass rush.
NFL's Dean Blandino says line-overload call was incorrect
"No, this was not a NFL Betting Lines correct call," Blandino said. "This is not the intent of the rule as it was written.
"The rule is to protect the snapper on a field goal or extra point from a direct forcible blow to the head or neck area, or with the crown/forehead/hairline parts of the helmet to the body," Blandino added. "It was not designed to prohibit any contact with the snapper, which is what happened on this play."
During the play in question, Chargers nose tackle Cam Thomas made light contact with Texans long snapper Jon Weeks. Thomas was called for unnecessary roughness.
After the alleged violation, Randy Bullock's 37-yard field goal was taken off the scoreboard and the Texans accepted the personal foul, which pushed them half the distance to the goal line at the Chargers' 9-yard line. Quarterback Matt Schaub threw a touchdown pass to tight end Owen Daniels on the next play.
Blandino said the rule was created to avoid putting the long snapper in a defenseless position on field-goal attempts, not to avoid all contact with the long snapper.
"Let's walk through the play last night first," Blandino said. "And you're going to see here, here's the center and it's going to be No. 92, Cam Thomas, that's going to make the contact. But basically there's some incidental contact with his left leg to the head/neck area, but that is not a foul. That is legal contact. This should not have been called. It's a judgment call by the umpire, he's looking at that, and in his judgment, he felt that it was enough for a foul. And in our review today, we felt that it was not.
"Now I'll show you an example of what is a foul," Blandino continued. "This was a play that we used in our visits in the offseason to the coaching staffs and the players. Here you're going to see a direct blow to the head/neck area of the center. That's what the rule is designed to protect the player in that snapping posture. Think of a receiver who's trying to catch a pass. You can't hit him in the head or neck area, you can't hit a defenseless snapper, while he's in that posture, in the head or neck area either."
With Golson Out, What's Next For Irish?
If any team is built for the loss of a dynamic starting quarterback, its Notre Dame. If you're going to count out the Irish in 2013, like you probably did in 2012, it's probably not going to be because of the absence of No. 5 - both of them.
With Everett Golson suspended for the fall semester and no longer enrolled at the school, all of a sudden the offense and the team take on a different shape.
This was supposed to be the year when Golson took his game to another level. A terrific baller and playmaker, he might not have been the most efficient passer, completing only 59 percent of his throws, and he might have had coaches and fans doing the no-no-no-YES thing when throwing into traffic a bit too much, but he only threw six picks on the season and scrambled and ran his way into big moments. He was expected to become a more complete passer this season under Brian Kelly, while also providing the running and improvisational element the coaching staff was looking for at quarterback.
Now, with Golson out of the equation, the Irish will have to do some scrambling of their own, and theyre equipped for it.
First and foremost, this happened in late May and not in late August. Just as if Golson had gone down with some sort of injury, now the team has to adapt and move on, but theres an entire summer and a fall camp to find the right fit. Theres plenty of time to figure out what the next move is, and remember, its not like Golson was the be-all-end-all No. 1 starter with a firm grip on the job and the team. Kelly brought in several top talents over the last few years, and while it wouldve been nice to have Gunner Kiel around as an option, there are still others waiting in the wings.
Kiel took his talents to Tommy Tuberville and Cincinnati, but Notre Dame still has Tommy Rees who knows a little something about offseason off-the-field controversy and has more than enough time logged in to be a capable and effective starter. Two-Minute Tommy has been at his best off the bench in clutch situations, but now a senior, dont discount him taking a step up in his play and consistency if he gets the responsibility of having to take the team on his shoulders. The problem, though, is his penchant to throw the bad interception to go along with his lack of mobility. Kelly wants a dual-threat option, and thats where Andrew Hendrix comes in.
Hendrix, a senior, blew off Florida, Ohio State, Miami and Wisconsin for the Irish, and even though the talent is there to be the face of the program, he hasnt been able to rise above the fray with just 304 career passing yards. Brilliant two years ago in an attempt to bring the team back against Stanford, he finished 2011 with 162 rushing yards with 111 yards against Air Force, he could be the spark with the opportunity there. However, he might have to fight off the new guy.
True freshman Malik Zaire is the X-factor. A terrific dual-threat option, the 6-2, 190-pounder is a smart, accurate passer with great running skills and a way of making things happen on the fly. Kelly isnt above throwing an inexperienced new guy on the field, and at the very least he could be a part of a rotation to get his speed and athleticism into the offense.
But its going to be more than just the quarterback situation for the Irish. Losing Golson might hurt, but the 2013 team, like the 2012 squad, will mostly work around a tough defense and an opportunistic offense that keeps the mistakes to a minimum and controls the clock and the game. The hope was for Golson to be a catalyst who could start winning big games on his own, and his leadership and confidence are a part of the puzzle, but its not like USC losing Matt Barkley last season or if Louisville lost Teddy Bridgewater this year life will go on for Notre Dame without Everett Golson.
2015 Kentucky Derby Odds
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Check 2015 KY Derby Schedule May 1 and 24 at Sportsbook.com
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