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Mining everything but “The Bird”…

Posted on 03 May 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

No doubt, by now you know that Mine The Bird, a 51-to-1 shot, won the Kentucky Derby in the mud with the most emotional athlete I’ve ever seen in Calvin Borel aboard. You surely know that the Caps now have a 1-0 series lead over the Penguins after yesterday’s 3-2 win in D.C. You’re keenly aware of the Orioles continued ineptitude in Toronto (which I’ve thankfully avoided with various other sports obligations) and the fact that Johns Hopkins squeaked by Loyola in lacrosse yesterday. You might’ve even stayed up with the Celtics and Bulls last night in a game that even “non-believing” NBA fans couldn’t help but catch a glimpse. We even took a busload of NASCAR fans down to Richmond last night with Rex Snider to catch the race where Kyle Busch held off Jeff Gordon.

And, if you’re on the WNST Text Service, you got the note that former Dolphins (and Cam Cameron) quarterback John Beck is expected to sign with the Ravens tomorrow to compete for the No. 2 job. (So much for the Troy Smith experiment.)

I went to the Caps game yesterday and had an awesome time. No press pass. Just went and sat in a club seat with my wife and waved red towels and rocked the red. Great crowd. Pretty girls. A sea of red. A pretty good, close game where every pass, hit and shot mattered. It was old-school Caps fandom and the vibe in the whole area was outstanding. The Capitals have the best game-day presentation I’ve ever seen. And Simeon Varlamov was outrageously good. The Caps can really win the Stanley Cup. I’m looking forward to Monday night already. And, we’re throwing a big party at Silver Spring Mining Company in Perry Hall on Wednesday with $2 Michelob Ultras. The Caps have made April and May a LOT of fun for me.

In what felt like a perfect sports day, I rushed home in time to get caught up on my Comcast DVR to watch the Kentucky Derby live and once again, horse racing and the stories and the connections sucked me in. If you didn’t tear up when Borel reached to the sky you’re just not human. He’s one of the most amazing stories in sports!

I’m just up having a Sunday morning cup of coffee, reading what everyone else has to say about yesterday on WNST.net and enjoying Baltimore’s No. 1 blogosphere this morning with all sorts of fact, opinions and observations.

I realize I haven’t missed too much with the Orioles but today is my day to “re-mine” with the Birds. I have some DVRing to catch up on. But maybe they’ll actually win today?

Jeremy Guthrie vs. Scott Richmond at 1:07 p.m. Maybe it’ll be a “defining” moment?

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Terps: Either last one in, or last one out

Posted on 14 March 2009 by Drew Forrester

Maryland still has one game left to play.  

The waiting game.

The Terps put forth a scrappy effort in their ACC semi-final loss to Duke today, but in the end, they just didn’t have enough to upend a more talented Blue Devils team.

Maryland wasn’t run off the court today, a fact Gary Williams hopes the tournament committee will remember when they convene Sunday afternoon to determine the field of the NCAA’s big dance.

But the mistakes the Terps made, particularly on the defensive end, are not the things championship caliber teams do.

Vasquez looked lost in the final 10 minutes of the game.  Twice he tried to pinch around a screen and nab a back-door steal but the move backfired on both occasions — a Duke player was wide open for the 3 and Vasquez created an open look with his decision to go for the steal rather than move inside the screen to the open player.  

Dave Neal was outmuscled by Kyle Singler with about 4 minutes to play after Henderson missed a 3-pointer.  When Singler takes it to you physically…you’re in trouble.

And Adrian Bowie bit on a school-yard give-and-go inside the five minute mark that led to an easy deuce for the Blue Devils.

When you give up easy points like that and you lose by six…those kinds of mistakes are too large to overcome.

Now, Maryland waits.

Do they deserve to get in?

It’s awfully, awfully close.  And, of course, a Baylor win tonight or a Mississippi State win tomorrow could push the Terps off the bubble and into the NIT.

If Maryland gets in, they’ll probably be the last team in.

If Maryland doesn’t get in, they’ll probably be the last team out.

It’s that close.

They’ve done more with what they have than just about anyone else in the ACC.  There’s probably an argument they’re the best “not so good” team in the country, considering the only Terrapin that would definitely start for any other major program in the country is Vasquez.

One thing for sure: If they DO get in, they won’t be an easy out.  

24 hours from now, we’ll know their fate.

If I’m betting a dollar, I bet they get in.

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Hate to say it: Ray Lewis is doing it all wrong

Posted on 06 February 2009 by Drew Forrester

I’ll get the easy stuff out of the way first just so there aren’t any issues or questions.

Drew wants Ray Lewis back in a Ravens uniform.  Drew wants the Ravens to pay Ray what he’s worth.  Drew wants Ray to retire a Raven.  And, Drew wants Ray to be part of the Ravens in a front office and/or ambassador position when his playing days are done.

That covers it, right?  I’m PRO-Ray, if such a position exists.

Here comes the “but”, though.

But, Ray – as he tends to do – is going about this all wrong.

It pains me to say that, but it’s true.  Ray is handling this impending free agency period completely wrong.

I’m not really sure why, either.  I assume (and I’ve underlined it for emphasis because I don’t know for sure) Ray is getting media-training-advice from someone in his camp.  His agent, David Dunn, perhaps?  I don’t know.  But whomever it is telling Ray to “keep his options open” and “speak glowingly about any team you’re asked about” is giving him bad advice.  His current public method-of-operation is the wrong way to sew up his future in Baltimore, if, in fact, he really wants to be here.

Problem number one that Ray has created – yes, that RAY has created – is that he hasn’t yet honestly answered the question, “Do you want to finish your career in Baltimore?”.  We asked him that last week when he sat down with WNST on radio row in Tampa.  Jamison Hensley of The Sun has asked him that. And, the folks at the NFL Network have asked him that.

Ray won’t answer the question.  It’s a “yes” or “no” question.  But no one can get a “yes” or “no” answer.

It’s not about playing-both-ends-against-the-middle at this point.  It shouldn’t be, anyway.  At this stage in Ray’s career, he should be operating off of one foundation and one foundation only:  Honesty.

After giving the better part of 13 years of his life to Baltimore, and the team and the city reciprocating with more love and affection than any athlete might deserve, frankly, Ray shouldn’t have to do “player speak” or invoke the word of God or be ambiguous with his thoughts and plans for the future.  That’s what 25 year old players do when they’re trying to score that big-hit contract and they don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings while they’re “playing the game”.

Ray – as the greatest player in the history of the franchise – doesn’t need to play the game.  He should be able to call his own shot.  And, if he were handling this whole differently, he probably COULD put his own time-line together and say to the Ravens, “this is how Ray sees the next 10-15 years of his life playing out.”

If I were advising Ray, I’d tell him the right way to handle this:  Put all the pressure on the Ravens by saying this, EVERY TIME a member of the media asks the $20 million question:  “Do you want to finish your career in Baltimore?” – The RIGHT answer is:  “Absolutely.  There’s nothing I want more than to get this contract done with the Ravens, retire in MY city of Baltimore and then turn my attention to my foundation and all the great community work I can do in Baltimore to help the people who have been so loyal and devoted to me.”

That’s the way Ray should be playing this.  When you’ve played 13 years and been as important to the sports history of a city as Ray has, you shouldn’t have to word-smith your way around anything.  Just be honest with everyone.  You’ve earned the right to tell the truth and lay waste to those who don’t like what they hear. 

Throwing out different answers depending on the day, the network and the hosts just isn’t the way to do it. With WNST in Baltimore, it was a lot of talk about God paving the way and deciding where Ray was going to go…he dodged most of the important questions by either saying, simply, “that’s just not something I’m thinking about” or, “I’m leaving that up to God.”  Religion is religion – some people embrace it, others ignore it – and I’m always impressed with Ray anytime I see or hear him talk about his Faith because I think it’s VERY real to him.  Last Thursday in Tampa, Ray talked as if God – not David Dunn – was his agent in this contract-pursuit.

With Jamie Dukes and the NFL Network, Ray eschewed the God-speak (I don’t think I heard him mention God once during the interview…at least not the part about returning to Baltimore and his free agency) and went straight for the player-speak-jugular.  He talked about Dallas, New York, not taking a hometown discount and being disappointed that this whole mess has boiled to the point where the words “Ray Lewis” and “free agent” are mentioned in the same sentence.  He talked “business” with Jamie Dukes and left out the religious emphasis…presumably because Dukes, an ex-player, understands where he’s coming from more than the newspaper or radio folks?

Some of that, by the way, I agree with.  Ray SHOULD NOT have to take a hometown discount to finish up in Baltimore.  In the same way that the Ravens wouldn’t think of saying, “why don’t you only play 12 games for us and we’ll pay you for 16”, Ray shouldn’t be asked to take less for playing all 16 games.  And, Ray’s right…this day – or even the talk of it – where Ray is free to roam the country and seek a new employer probably shouldn’t have ever arrived.  That said, Ray has a hand in that as well, as he turned down a $12 million offer last August.  On the whole, though, Ray has every right to be offended by the fact that the greatest player in the history of the franchise is about to shop himself around the way Jim Leonhard had to last April.

But, the Dukes interview on NFL Network was an eye-opener because Ray once again had the opportunity to tell the whole world he wants to finish his career in Baltimore — and he didn’t say that.  

I’m always somewhat shocked that Ray, a GREAT football player, is such a POOR handler of the spotlight. He stumbled and bumbled his way through a Comcast SportsNet interview after the 2005 season in which he failed to speak positively about Brian Billick.  He was never able to hide his disdain for Kyle Boller and the offense even though there were times when the team – and Boller – could have used some protection from their franchise player.  There have been numerous times when Ray bolted out of the locker room after losses and left his fellow players behind to answer the questions – but the following week when the team won, Ray gussied up with his coat and fedora and fielded question after question until the batteries died on the TV cameras.  Ray wasn’t heard from after the Pittsburgh loss in the AFC title game, telling a team staffer, “I just can’t do it right now.”  Fair enough, Terrell Suggs did it.  

Ultimately, the final judgement on Ray will be that he’s never had someone he trusts who also doubles as a good advice-giver.  That’s Ray’s biggest problem.  He’s a smart guy.  He’s a helluva football player.  And he’s an outstanding man with a big heart.  But he doesn’t have someone in his life who gives him sage, trustworthy advice.  He has people around him who only concern themselves with money.  Ray’s money. And their money.  When you’ve played 13 years in one place and you’re about to finish your career by earning “icon status”, money should be secondary to the means by which you establish your legacy in town.  Ray is either going to leave Baltimore and play in (insert city here) and lose some shine off of his tenure in purple or he’ll figure out that seeing this thing through and setting up lifetime-camp in Baltimore will pay him far more than 5 or 10 million dollars difference he’ll get over the next three years in Dallas, New York or wherever this traveling show takes him. 

I don’t know who pushed this latest media-talk style on him and told him to “play the field”, but that guy – or gal – doesn’t know what they’re doing.

Ray had the chance to put ALL of the heat on the Ravens by simply saying, “Of course I want to finish in Baltimore.  They know what it’s going to take to keep me here and I hope they find a way to provide it to me and we’ll get the deal done.”


That’s the approach Ray should have used.

Now, there IS a chance, obviously, that maybe Ray doesn’t want to finish in Baltimore.  If so, we’re all big boys (and girls)…just tell us that from jump-street and we’ll move on with our lives and our football season.  If there’s a piece of Ray that always, always, always wanted to wear the star on his helmet and play for “America’s Team”, it can be said that he put in 13 hard seasons in purple and deserves to go out in the fashion which he chooses.  And, if playing in Dallas (or Washington, St. Louis, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, etc.) is the final piece of Ray’s career puzzle, he should be able to make that move with his head held high.

Just don’t fib to us.  And don’t play us.


Do you, Ray Lewis, want to finish in Baltimore?  Yes or no?

If you do, you’re going about it the wrong way.

If you don’t want to finish in Baltimore, just say that and start laying the foundation for your move.

If Ray came out and said, “Look, I’ve loved it in Baltimore, but I want to finish in Miami,” do you think the Ravens would stand in his way?  I doubt it.  Why would they want a guy here who doesn’t want to be here?

As it stands now, the Ravens are getting let off the hook.  They want Ray Lewis back.  They want Ray to finish here.  In fact, I’m sure the Ravens would love to have Ray be an integral part of their organization well into the next decade.  They’d be silly to not want Ray Lewis to be entrenched at 1 Winning Drive.

The Ravens, though, have been honest.  They’ve gone public with their admiration for Ray and their hope that a deal can be worked out.

Ray could have put all the heat on them by saying, “Well, I want to finish here in Baltimore too…so pay me and let’s get this done and move on from here.”

Instead, Ray has put the heat on himself.  By not answering the $20 million question and by talking about places like Dallas and New York, all he’s doing is giving people in Baltimore a chance to see the ugly side of sports.

The ugly side is that money makes people say and do things that aren’t consistent with the way they’d be doing them if money wasn’t involved.  

It pains me to beat on Ray Lewis like this because you can go back to the first paragraph above and see what I feel about the man.  

But, he’s doing it all wrong.

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The Fantasy Flavor Positional Power Rankings – Week 14 QBs

Posted on 03 December 2008 by Thyrl Nelson

Again, there wasn’t much shake up in the quarterback rankings this week. On the bright side, close to half of the top 20 weren’t very highly regarded at draft time, so there could still be a few good options on the waiver wire. The playoffs are here for a lot of us, so make sure to take a look at all of the rankings, as every decision is magnified at this time of the season.


Keep in mind that the power rankings, listed here, are based on year to date performance and not a reflection of your best options for week 14. Just below the power rankings are match up previews advising who should be better or worse than usual this week, based on their opponents. At the bottom, are the week 14 start rankings, that’s where you should look for help with your week 14 lineup decisions.


Week 14 Fantasy Quarterback Power Rankings




QB Power Rankings Archive34567 – 8 – 9 – 1011 – 12 13


(last week’s rankings in parentheses)


1. Drew Brees (1) – NO – 3870 yds 24 TD 14 int & 1 TD rush


2. Tony Romo (3) – DAL – 2559 yds 21 TD 8 int


3. Aaron Rodgers (4) – GB – 2897 yds 20 TD 10 int & 4 TD rush


4. Kurt Warner (2) – AZ – 3741 yds 24 TD 11 int


5. Jay Cutler (5) – DEN – 3393 yds 21 TD 13 int


6. Phillip Rivers (6) – SD – 2955 yds 23 TD 10 int


7. Donavan McNabb (13) – PHI – 3030 yds 18 TD 10 int & 1 TD rush


8. Peyton Manning (7) – IND – 2948 yds 19 TD 12 int & 1 TD rush


9. Matt Cassel (10) – NE – 2784 yds 13 TD 10 int & 2 TD rush


10. Tyler Thigpen (12) – KC – 1739 yds 13 TD 8 int & 1 TD rush & 1 TD rec


11. Shaun Hill (11) – SF – 1067 yds 8 TD 3 int & 1 TD rush


12. Eli Manning (9) – NYG – 2624 yds 19 TD 8 int & 1 TD rush


13. Brett Favre (8) – GB – 2708 yds 20 TD 14 int


14. Chad Pennington (14) – MIA – 2881 yds 11 TD 6 int & 1 TD rush


15. Joe Flacco (16) – BAL – 2276 yds 12 TD 9 int & 2 TD rush


16. David Garrard (15) – JAX – 2748 yds 10 TD 9 int & 1 TD rush


17. Matt Ryan (18) – ATL – 2625 yds 13 TD 6 int


18. Kyle Orton (20) – CHI – 2195 yds 13 TD 7 int & 1 TD rush


19. Jason Campbell (19) – WAS – 2560 yds 10 TD 4 int


20. Jeff Garcia (NR) – TB – 1902 yds 8 TD 3 int


Dropped From Rankings: Trent Edwards – BUF


QBs Who Should Be Better Than Usual In Week 14: Matt Cassel @ SEA; Shaun Hill vs. NYJ; Matt Ryan @ NO; Kurt Warner vs. ST.L; Peyton Manning vs. CIN; Aaron Rodgers vs. HOU


QBs Who Could Be Sleepers Based On Week 14 Match Ups: JaMarcus Russell @ SD; Marc Bulger @ AZ; Gus Frerotte @ DET; Matt Hasselbeck vs. NE


QBs With Tough Week 14 Match Ups: Tony Romo @ PIT; Jake Delhomme vs. TB; Donavan McNabb @ NYG; Eli Manning vs. PHI; Jeff Garcia @ CAR; Phillip Rivers vs. OAK; Sage Rosenfels @ GB


QBs You Might Want To Avoid In Week 14: Ryan Fitzpatrick or Jordan Palmer @ IND; Jason Campbell @ BAL; Ken Dorsey @ TEN


And here are the week 14 Fantasy QB start rankings; it’s all 32 projected starting QBs in the order that you should consider them this week. They were gotten using the Fantasy Flavor secret formula, and have their formulary numbers in parentheses, the lower the better. We’ll get all of the positional rankings out to you in time for Thursday’s game, so keep checking back for the rest.


1. Drew Brees (15)

2. Kurt Warner (15)

3. Aaron Rodgers (16)

4. Shaun Hill (23)

5. Jay Cutler (24)

6. Peyton Manning (24)

7. Matt Cassel (24)

8. Tyler Thigpen (31)

9. Tony Romo (35)

10. Phillip Rivers (36)

11. Brett Favre (38)

12. Matt Ryan (40)

13. Donavan McNabb (41)

14. Chad Pennington (46)

15. Eli Manning (49)

16. Gus Frerotte (50)

17. Joe Flacco (51)

18. David Garrard (52)

19. Kyle Orton (52)

20. Trent Edwards (57)

21. JaMarcus Russell (59)

22. Ben Roethlisberger (61)

23. Matt Hasselbeck (65)

24. Marc Bulger (65)

25. Jeff Garcia (66)

26. Jason Campbell (68)

27. Sage Rosenfels (73) *I’d move him between McNabb & Pennington if it’s Schaub

28. Kerry Collins (73)

29. Jake Delhomme (76)

30. Daunte Culpepper (82)

31. Ryan Fitzpatrick (84) *no difference for Jordan Palmer

32. Ken Dorsey (93)


All of the rankings will be up in time for you to get your Thursday lineups in, so check back tomorrow for the rest. And use the links below to check all of the other positions; they’ll be activated as they become available.







Week 14 RB Rankings & Previews


Week 14 WR Rankings & Previews


Week 14 TE Rankings & Previews


Week 14 K Rankings & Previews


Week 14 D/ST Rankings & Previews





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NFL Power Rankings – Week 14

Posted on 02 December 2008 by Thyrl Nelson

The top eleven teams in last week’s power rankings all remained in the top 11 this week, as all still seem to be pretty clearly in control of their own playoff destinies. The 12th spot, for now, goes to the Vikings who are on an impressive run, and now find themselves in the driver’s seat for the NFC North.


There may be a few noteworthy suspensions handed down in the next week or so, which could have a dramatic impact on the playoff races as the final quarter of the season unfolds. Also, because of the relative assuredness of the playoff picture at this early stage in the season, how teams are able to manage staying focused and staying healthy in the teams’ final meaningless games should have a lot of impact of the playoff picture, even after the pairings are locked in early.


Admittedly, Atlanta should probably be at 12 in this week’s rankings instead of 10, with both Denver and Minnesota holding on to stronger playoff hopes at this time. For Atlanta, it seems that the division is out of the question, and it’s wildcard or bust, with the Cowboys still very much on their heels. I just didn’t have the heart to drop Atlanta 2 spots after an impressive road win on the left coast. They’ve definitely been the toughest team to grade out over the course of the season so far. They deserve their respect, there’s no questioning that, but their playoff hopes are still very fragile at this point.


NFL Power Rankings Archive34567 – 8 9 – 10 – 11 – 12 – 13


Week 14 NFL Power Rankings (last week’s rankings in parentheses)


1. New York Giants (1) – 11-1 – The Giants have easily been the most impressive team in the league so far, and appear to be without weakness. Even with the uncertain future of Plaxico Burress in New York, experts seem reluctant to concede that this will even be an issue for the Giants. Their schedule is full of tough teams from here out, but the Giants already enjoy a 2 game lead for the #1 seed in the NFC, a 3 game lead in their division, and a four game lead over Minnesota and Arizona for a first round bye. Next Week: vs. PHI


2. Tennessee Titans (2) – 11-1 – A Thanksgiving Day chance to feast on the Lions was probably the perfect remedy for Tennessee team that had lost it’s first game of the season the week before, and who had struggled to run for the last 3 weeks. The Browns and Texans in the next 2 games will probably either wrap up home field for the Titans, or make their week 16 match up with Pittsburgh for potential home field advantage. Also depending on what the rest of the AFC does in the meantime, Tennessee could have a chance to ruin Indy’s playoff hopes before they get started in week 17. Next Week: vs. CLE


3. Pittsburgh Steelers (3) – 9-3 – At 9-3, the Steelers have been a tough draw for everyone that they’ve played. You may not be able to say that about any other team in the league this season. The Steelers have positioned themselves for a chance at a bye in the playoffs, and with a game remaining against the Titans, they’re still in striking distance for the #1 seed, if the Titans should stumble, or let up down the stretch. Next Week: vs. DAL


4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5) – 9-3 – They’ve had a revolving door at quarterback and running back, and they’re playing a first place schedule, in the toughest division in the NFC, possibly the toughest in the NFL. The Bucs though, still find themselves in the driver’s seat for not only the NFC South title, but also a first round bye. They may not enjoy the cushion in the standings that they probably should at 9-3, and still have 2 tough divisional games on the road. But for now at least, the road to the NFC South title goes through Tampa. Next Week: @ CAR


5. Carolina Panthers (7) – 9-3 – If the Buccaneers are feeling salty about their relatively unsecured playoff hopes, despite their 9-3 record, than the Panthers have to feel outright frustrated with their standing in the playoff hunt, despite their strong performance thus far. A chance to beat Tampa head to head this week still leaves the Panthers somewhat in control of their own playoff destiny, but they’ll likely have to win out to have a chance at staying home for a playoff game. Next Week: vs. TB


6. Arizona Cardinals (6) – 8-4 – I’ve been feeling the need to justify ranking these Cards so highly all season, but even as the losers of 2 straight, the Cardinals are not a team that you want to sleep on. They’re still just an eyelash away from clinching the NFC West and at least one home playoff game. They’re also just one game behind Tampa and Carolina for a first round bye. In the playoffs, the Cards at home could be dangerous, especially if an east coast team has to travel to Arizona. Keep in mind that 3 of the Cards’ 4 losses came on trips to the east coast, the other was at home to the Giants. They’re front 7 is grossly underrated by most, and their running game still has a chance to get in gear. They’re unlikely to go across the country and beat anyone, but traveling to Arizona for a playoff game could be a lot tougher than it sounds. Next Week: vs. ST.L


7. New York Jets (4) – 8-4 – Success appeared to get to the Jets’ heads a bit last week, and they looked about as bad as they possibly could, just a week after dismantling the undefeated Titans. Brett Favre has been a rousing success for the Jets this season; clearly their playoff hopes would have been slim without him. But once the playoffs get here, I think that the Jets will have trouble finding their identity, a game manager would probably fit their formula a little better than a game breaker. Still, when the playoffs come around, there are few who can bring more experience to the table than Favre. The AFC East is still a dogfight, and with 2 west coast trips remaining, the Jets still have their work cut out for them in just getting to the playoffs. Next Week: @ SF


8. Indianapolis Colts (8) – 8-4 – If you took a poll among the AFC contenders and asked which team they’d most like to eliminate before the playoffs begin, my guess is that the Colts would be the team that’d be out. With that said, it appears that the rest of the AFC has missed their chance to bury these Colts when they were on the ropes early on. It’s still tough to imagine the Colts making a long run in this year’s playoffs, primarily because of their inability to stop the run. They can however, stop the run with their offense, in a manner of speaking, by jumping on opponents early in games and forcing them to play catch-up. The schedule looks like it could be pretty easy for the Colts from here, but don’t overlook their week 17 match up against Tennessee just yet. If Tennessee slips up and Pittsburgh keeps rolling, the Titans may need that one for the top seed. And if the Colts slip, just a bit in the meantime, the Titans may have a chance to send them home before the playoffs begin. I’m not so sure the Titans take that one off like everyone seems to think. Next Week: vs. CIN


9. Baltimore Ravens (9) – 8-4 – They’ve certainly been a great story so far, and the Ravens are starting to look more and more dangerous with each passing week. Their defense has adjusted to a lack of star power in the secondary, and despite the dominance of the run defense, the Ravens aren’t letting much go through the air either. Losses to Indianapolis and the Giants have shown that this team isn’t built for playing catch up, but with new wrinkles and guys stepping up every week, this team still appears to be growing into their prowess. The playoffs are by no means assured just yet, but they’re in sight. And the AFC North title could still be in the fold too. Next Week: vs. WAS


10. Atlanta Falcons (10) – 8-4 – The Falcons have taken the NFL by storm, but when it comes to their own division, not so much. There’s no shortage of storylines surrounding the Falcons this season. From moving forward without their jailed franchise quarterback, to finding a diamond in the rough in Matt Ryan; from being stepped out on by Bobby Petrino, to the meteoric rise of rookie head coach Mike Smith; this team is full of great stories. If they aren’t able to hold serve in their final four games however, the story will be about this miraculous rebound falling short of the post season. Someone with 10 or even 11 wins is likely to be left home in the NFC this season; Falcons fans are hoping that it’s not them. Next Week: @ NO


11. Denver Broncos (11) – 7-5 – The Broncos went a long way to locking up a playoff berth in week 13, and are quietly building a little head of steam too. If things keep going the way that they are, the Broncos could be looking at a first round match up with Indianapolis. They’ve had a couple of embarrassing post season blowouts at the hands of the Colts in recent years, but may be better equipped to go up and down the field with them this time around. Unless they can figure out how to play consistent defense, the Broncos will likely be short for the playoffs, but as long as their offense remains explosive, they should make it exciting while they’re in there. Next Week: vs. KC


12. Minnesota Vikings (16) – 7-5 – In yet another division where no one seems to be able to step up and grab hold of a playoff spot, the Vikings may be peaking at just the right time. Their two-headed backfield and stout defense could prove to be a formula for success once the post season rolls around too. The Vikings still have a very deep interest in pending suspensions of a number of key players, but are in good position for the playoffs despite a number of early season mishaps. Next Week: @ DET


13. New England Patriots (14) – 7-5 – The Patriots playoff hopes took a major shot on Sunday with their loss to the Steelers. They’re still very much in the hunt, and because of their experience and coaching have to be considered dangerous, but the Patriots have their work cut out for them too. Next up for the Pats are 2 straight games on the west coast, which has confounded a number of teams. The Jets did them a favor though by not taking advantage of a chance to bury them a little further in the AFC East last week too. Next Week: @ SEA


14. Dallas Cowboys (15) – 8-4 – The Cowboys look like they’re back in stride, the question now is, whether they’ll have enough time to make themselves a factor in the race for the playoffs. Their midseason stumble allowed a number of teams to pick up positions on them, but they’re not out of it quite yet. Games against playoff contenders in 3 of their remaining 4 will make the road bumpy, and the fact that two of them are from the AFC means that winning them doesn’t necessarily guarantee the reward of moving up in the standings. Next Week: @ PIT


15. Miami Dolphins (17) – 7-5 – I’m still not sure that people have started taking the Dolphins seriously just yet, and with the difficulty that they had in dealing with St. Louis on Sunday, I can understand why. One thing’s for sure though, opponents who’ve gone against Miami and given less than their best have paid the price this season. The Dolphins are more than flash and gimmick, they’re a pretty good football team, and they’re getting better too. They’ll need some help to get into the playoff hunt, but they still look like a factor at this point. Next Week: @ BUF *in Toronto


16. Washington Redskins (12) – 7-5 – It looks like the Redskins may have taken a couple of teams by surprise, especially with their improved offense early in the season. In recent weeks however, teams look less apt to let down for Washington, and they also appear to have adjusted to the Redskins new look on offense. Losing 3 of their last 4 has given a serious blow to the Redskins playoff hopes, and the schedule won’t make it any easier finishing up. They’re still in the hunt it seems, but fading fast. Next Week: @ BAL


17. Chicago Bears (13) – 6-6 – On one hand, you could say that the Bears let a golden opportunity pass them by against the Vikings in week 13. On the other hand however, you could say that the Bears never really looked like they belonged in the game in the first place. After playing everyone tough through the first 9 weeks of the season, the Bears have been blown out twice by divisional foes in recent weeks. Matt Forte has probably been too much of the offense this season, and looks to be hitting the rookie wall. Next Week: vs. JAX


18. New Orleans Saints (20) – 6-6 – Given the number of injuries that the Saints have been forced to deal with, and the tough games that they allowed to get away in weeks 2 and 3, they could consider themselves lucky to be at .500 with 4 games to go. When you look at the rest of the division staring squarely down at them in the rankings however, these Saints look like they’ll be playing for Dan Marino’s passing record, and something positive to carry into next season. The playoffs are pretty much out of the question for this bunch, but they could still affect the race. Next Week: vs. ATL


19. San Diego Chargers (19) – 4-8 – The Chargers playoff hopes are alive by the slimmest of margins, and fading quickly. It seems that week after week we look at the Chargers as a team with the potential of getting on a roll. The luxury of playing in the AFC West has kept them in the hunt for much longer than they probably deserve, and technically they could still get in. But the Broncos appear to be on somewhat of a roll lately, and the Chargers still haven’t been able to get things going. Next Week: vs. OAK


20. Buffalo Bills (18) – 6-6 – This season for the Bills will be one for the history books for sure. In addition to breaking new ground with a regular season game in Toronto, the Bills have gone from cruising to control of the AFC East early on, to a tail spinning mess of a team that has fallen into last place in the division that they controlled just a few weeks ago. It’ll take a miracle to rescue the Bills season, and  their playoff hopes with just 4 games remaining. Based on the way that they’ve played lately, simply holding up their own end of the bargain and winning out would be a minor miracle. Next Week: vs. MIA *in Toronto


21. Philadelphia Eagles (22) – 6-5-1 – Donavan McNabb responded to his benching in a big way with a Thanksgiving Day rally last week. Or maybe he just responded to a chance to play against a pretty bad Cardinals pass defense, traveling across the country in a short week. The Eagles are doing what they can to salvage a respectable record this season, but aside from a one-week infusion of confidence from beating the Steelers, the Eagles have never really presented themselves as a team that could be a factor in the playoff race. Next Week: @ NYG


22. Green Bay Packers (21) – 5-7 – Much like the Dow-Jones, the Packers have been either alarmingly good, or alarmingly bad from game to game, without any real warning. You truly never know which Packers team is going to show up from game to game, or as they proved last week, from quarter to quarter or even drive to drive. If the Jets make a sustained run into the playoffs, while the Packers are sitting home this post season, Ted Thompson may need to hire private security. (That is if he hasn’t already.) Next Week: vs. HOU


23. Houston Texans (23) – 5-7 – Media and PR types will try to come up with lots of reasons to make you believe that a lot of teams have the potential to be good really soon. When it comes to the Texans, they might be right. They’ve dealt with a considerable amount of adversity this season off of the field, and have had to struggle with injuries and a difficult schedule on the field too. Still, this week showcased a number of teams who look like they’ve already mailed in their seasons, and the Texans aren’t one of them. In fact they exposed one on Monday night against the Jags. Next Week: @ GB


24. San Francisco 49ers (27) – 4-8 – Mike Singletary has certainly made his impression on the Niners’ locker room, they’ve won 2 of their last 4, and showed well in a Monday night loss to Arizona. Clearly this team needs a pretty drastic overhaul in order to be competitive, but they’ve got some of the pieces in place already, Singletary looks like he may be one of them. Let’s not forget that they’re in the NFC West too, they could be closer than it seems to making a run at that division. Next Week: vs. NYJ


25. Cleveland Browns (26) – 4-8 – The Browns’ season may have been over before it began. Braylon Edwards was never able to establish a rhythm in the offense, Kellen Winslow Jr. has struggled to stay in the lineup, and Donte Stallworth was probably never really a good fit for this team, especially without Joe Jureviscius. The monumental letdown that the Browns have been overall, will probably steal some attention from the fact that their defense is vastly improved over last season. Their season is over now, but don’t sleep on these Browns for next year, they look like they have something that they can build on. Next Week: @ TEN


26. Jacksonville Jaguars (24) – 4-8 – The Jags are easily the most disappointing story of the season so far. There have been other teams that have failed to live up to high expectations, but few seem to have been as relatively healthy as Jacksonville. It looks like a slow start to the season derailed the Jags playoff hopes, and their hearts as well. They’re much too talented to be playing the way that they are, this team and its coaches should be outright embarrassed, on Monday night, they were. Next Week: @ CHI


27. Kansas City Chiefs (30) – 2-10 – Despite their 2-10 record, it’s not like these Chiefs are wasting a ton of young talent. To their credit, they have proven to be a handful for most opponents, but are simply overmatched on most Sundays. Unfortunately for the Chiefs, they don’t appear to have a lot of pieces in place to build around at this point either. At least they continue to play determined football. That at least, is a testament to Herm Edwards and the veterans on this team. Next Week: @ DEN


28. Oakland Raiders (25) – 3-9 – Fresh off of a stunning victory against Denver in week 12, the Raiders appeared to be set up for a mini win streak with the Chiefs on tap last week. Things didn’t work out that way however, and despite the flashes of talent that the Raiders youngsters have shown, they can’t seem to keep it together consistently at this point. Given the coaching carousel in Oakland in recent years, it’s no wonder consistency is an issue. Next Week: @ SD


29. Seattle Seahawks (28) – 2-10 – It seems that Mike Holmgren’s decision to take a year away from football may have inspired the Seahawks in an unexpected way. The team it seems has decided to take this season off, and Jim Mora may be wondering just what it is that he signed on for. Next week: vs. NE


30. St. Louis Rams (31) – 2-10 – Without their once vaunted offensive attack, the Rams leave a lot to be desired all the way around. They have some offensive talent, but can’t seem to keep them healthy, or to find a rhythm when they are healthy. It appears that the head coach wasn’t all that was wrong with the Rams this season, but it is the NFC West; so next year is still bright. Next Week: @ AZ


31. Cincinnati Bengals (29) – 1-9-1 – They found a pulse momentarily this season, but the Bengals look like another team that simply cashed it in when the odds stacked up against them early on. The Bengals, at this point appear to be in need of a major overhaul, both on and off of the field. Whether they’ll finally figure that out or not is another question altogether though. Unfortunately for the fans in Cincinnati, much like those in Oakland, you can’t fire the owner. Next Week: @ IND


32. Detroit Lions (32) – 0-12 – Even if they wind up winless, the Lions may be better off for the future than a lot of teams in the bottom third of this list. They have Calvin Johnson and Kevin Smith to build around on offense. Their defense is actually much better than it’s been in recent years, which still leaves lots of room to grow, but is progress none the less. They’re poised to walk away with the number one pick in the draft, and could trade that back for more picks if they’d like. The boatload of picks that they got from the Cowboys, plus whatever they do with their own picks could make the rebuilding effort a lot quicker than you’d expect. And these are no longer Matt Millen’s Lions. Next Week: vs. MIN






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Ravens Fans: Pick Your Poision – This Is Truly A First

Posted on 26 November 2008 by Thyrl Nelson

The Ravens haven’t even quite reached the final quarter of this season yet, but already it’s been a memorable one, full of excitement and surprises. No matter how purple your glasses may be, or how much of the Kool Aid you were drinking this off-season, there are likely few among us who could credibly stand up and say that this season is playing out the way that we expected.


With a rookie head coach, and a rookie QB, both of whom have performed above and beyond all reasonable expectations to this point, the Ravens find themselves in a position that most of us could have only dreamed of prior to the start of this season. Additionally, the seeming shift of power in the league in general has left the door wide open for an upstart, as only the Giants seem to be performing up to expectations among what had been considered the NFL’s elite.


It’s certainly too early to begin making your reservations for Tampa just yet. But much like to 2002 team, this surprising bunch appears likely to be playing meaningful games into the final weeks of the season at the very least. So now as the season draws near to a close, we as fans begin the neurotic practice of running through scenarios in our heads, of how things could or should fall in our favor over the season’s remaining weeks.


In baseball they call it scoreboard watching, but baseball is different. With games happening every night, it’s often impossible to fully start to fathom potential scenarios until the final days of the season. Or because of the number of games, some races are decided with seemingly months remaining in the season. In football though, with just one game per week, and a seemingly more predictable results from game to game, we can’t help but run through the scenarios endlessly in our heads during the days leading up to each winter Sunday.


As Ravens fans, I think most if us expected the schedule to be a difficult one, but that was just from the traditional sense of who the Ravens would have to face from week to week. As the season plays out, and the Ravens continue to remain in the thick of the playoff hunt, we as fans suddenly have a lot more of a rooting interest in games that impact the Ravens, but don’t specifically involve them.


As fans, we tend to believe, against all conventional logic, that somehow our prayers, karma, rituals or mojo can actually influence the outcome of the games we watch. And therefore it’s important to know whom it is that you want to win a particular game, so that you can send out the proper vibes to help your team.


Already in this young season, I have been forced to sit in front of the TV and passionately encourage the efforts of such hated teams as Cleveland, Cincinnati, Washington and Indianapolis as they went against the Steelers. At one point having to stoop so low as to cheer for both the Colts and Redskins within a span of 6 days.


So now, with playoff hopes clearly on the line for the Ravens, this week’s match up between the Patriots and Steelers has added importance in the Ravens hopes for reaching the playoffs themselves. Therefore it’s important before the game begins, for me to figure out just who I’d like to see win this one.


Both teams are easy enough to hate on. After all, in order to inspire hate, you usually have to achieve some degree of success; both teams certainly fit that bill. On the surface, it’d be easy to say I’d rather see Pittsburgh lose, they are our divisional rival, and winning the division guarantees a playoff berth, so I’d rather see them lose and fall into an effective tie with the Ravens if Baltimore beats the Bengals on Sunday too. And the Steelers have certainly given us plenty of reasons to hate them over the years.


The Patriots however, have taken success to another whole level. Their recent success is unparalleled in the salary cap era, and most of us still have a little bit of a sting leftover from the heartbreaking loss that they put on the Ravens last year. If you need more reasons to hate them consider that they fleeced Ozzie Newsome in the Boller trade, getting Vince Wilfork and Asante Samuel with the Ravens draft picks. And they’re the team that signed Adalius Thomas away from the Ravens too, although the last laugh may be the Ravens’ in that one.


It’s probably best to try and take all of the emotion out of it, and look at it rationally, mathematically. Looking at the Ravens remaining schedule, winning out seems unlikely, making the specific scenarios tough to predict, but we’ll try.


If the Patriots were to get the win on Sunday, it’d put the Steelers at 8-4, and in a likely tie with Baltimore. Since the first tiebreaker is head to head, the Ravens would need to beat Pittsburgh in Baltimore to have a shot at the division. Doing that would give the Ravens a 1 game lead, thereby facilitating their margin for error and negating the first tiebreaker. Even with that, the Ravens would have to either win out, or hope for the Steelers to drop yet another game in order to win the North.


That’s because, assuming a tie, with the first tie breaker (head-to-head) thrown out, the second tiebreaker (divisional record) would likely be thrown out too with both teams likely 5-1. The third tiebreaker is common opponents. Since the Ravens and Steelers only have 2 uncommon opponents, the Steelers would win this tiebreaker too. If they finish tied, the Ravens will have beaten both uncommon opponents (Miami and Oakland), while Pittsburgh will have one (New England). Therefore Pittsburgh would still have a game advantage in common opponents if they finish tied.


If the Steelers were to win, on the other hand, the Ravens would have a full game lead on everyone for the second wildcard spot (presuming they beat the Bengals), and leaving them at least 1 game ahead of every other AFC wildcard hopeful in conference wins (the first tie breaker).  Furthermore, given the chance to take either the Patriots or Steelers out of the playoff picture in the AFC, I’ll strike New England. This isn’t the high-powered air show that they had last season, but these Patriots are looking more and more like the 2001 team with each passing week. In the playoffs, I’d guess that they’d rather see Pittsburgh, it’s their comfort zone, no surprises, just line it up and do what they do, twice a year, every year.


The machismo Ravens fan in me wants to get up on Sunday pulling for the Ravens at 1 and the Patriots at 4. But the realist in me says that it’s probably better for the Ravens if Pittsburgh wins this game. The Ravens would still have a chance to pull even in 2 weeks (although still behind by virtue of common opponents), and then let the chips fall where they may. I’m sure that the bounce of the ball, or more appropriately this season, the blown or missed call will provide us with a few curveballs before the end of the season anyway. It usually works out that way.


But for now, and for this week only, I’m pullin’ for yins. It’s the measles or the mumps, and this week I’m riding with the measles. It’ll be a miserable time from 4-7 on Sunday in my house, and there’s no way that my wife is ever going to understand. But as fans we must do what we must do, and this week, I’m taking one for the team. We as fans have a responsibility to throw our mojo around correctly after all.


I’d root for a tie, but I think that McNabb blew the cover on that one. We probably won’t be seeing another one this season. But that probably would be the best-case scenario; nobody wins, except for Ravens fans.





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The Fantasy Flavor Positional Power Rankings – Week 13 QBs

Posted on 26 November 2008 by Thyrl Nelson

There’s not a lot of shake up in this week’s QB rankings, There are however plenty of quarterbacks among the top twenty who were overlooked on draft day and through much of the season. In fact, there’s a decent chance that you’ll still be able to find one of these top 20 still on your league’s waiver wire. There are 3 games on tap for Thursday this week, so we’ll have all of the rankings out in time to set your lineups well before the first kickoff on Thanksgiving Day.


Keep in mind that the power rankings, listed here, are based on year to date performance and not a reflection of your best options for week 13. Just below the power rankings are match up previews advising who should be better or worse than usual this week, based on their opponents. At the bottom, are the week 13 start rankings, that’s where you should look for help with your week 13 lineup decisions.


Week 13 Fantasy Quarterback Power Rankings


QB Power Rankings Archive34567 – 8 – 9 – 1011 – 12


(last week’s rankings in parentheses)


1. Drew Brees (2) – NO – 3574 yds 22 TD 11 int & 1 TD rush


2. Kurt Warner (1) – AZ – 3506 yds 21 TD 8 int


3. Tony Romo (6) – DAL – 2228 yds 18 TD 7 int & 1 TD rush


4. Aaron Rodgers (5) – GB – 2599 yds 17 TD 9 int & 4 TD rush


5. Jay Cutler (3) – DEN – 3036 yds 19 TD 12 int


6. Phillip Rivers (4) – SD – 2806 yds 23 TD 10 int


7. Peyton Manning (7) – IND – 2823 yds 19 TD 10 int & 1 TD rush


8. Brett Favre (9) – NYJ – 2461 yds 20 TD 13 int


9. Eli Manning (11) – NYG – 2319 yds 18 TD 7 int & 1 TD rush


10. Matt Cassel (10) – NE – 2615 yds 13 TD 8 int & 2 TD rush


11. Shaun Hill (15) – SF – 906 yds 7 TD 3 int & 1 TD rush


12. Tyler Thigpen (16) – KC – 1577 yds 13 TD 7 int & 1 TD rush, 1 TD rec


13. Donavan McNabb (8) – PHI – 2770 yds 14 TD 10 int & 1 TD rush


14. Chad Pennington (19) – MIA – 2715 yds 11 TD 6 int & 1 TD rush


15. David Garrard (13) – JAX – 2461 yds 9 TD 8 int & 1 TD rush


16. Joe Flacco (18) – BAL – 1996 yds 10 TD 9 int & 2 TD rush


17. Trent Edwards (NR) – BUF – 2266 yds 10 TD 10 int & 3 TD rush


18. Matt Ryan (14) – ATL – 2418 yds 11 TD 6 int


19. Jason Campbell (20) – WAS – 2328 yds 10 TD 3 int


20. Kyle Orton (12) – CHI – 2049 yds 11 TD 4 int & 1 TD rush


Dropped From Rankings: Gus Frerotte – MIN


QBs Who Should Be Better Than Usual In Week 13: Tony Romo vs. SEA; Kyle Orton @ MIN; Jay Cutler @ NYJ; Brett Favre vs. DEN; Donavan McNabb vs. AZ; Matt Ryan @ SD; Chad Pennington @ ST.L


QBs Who Could Be Sleepers Based on Week 13 Match Ups: Kerry Collins @ DET; Jeff Garcia vs. NO; Trent Edwards vs. SF


QBs With Tough Week 13 Match Ups: Matt Cassel vs. PIT; Aaron Rodgers vs. CAR; Drew Brees @ TB; Kurt Warner @ PHI; Jason Campbell vs. NYG; Eli Manning @ WAS


QBs You Might Want To Avoid In Week 13: Brady Quinn or Derek Anderson vs. IND; Ryan Fitzpatrick vs. BAL; Daunte Culpepper or Drew Stanton vs. TEN; Jake Delhomme @ GB


And here are the week 13 Fantasy QB start rankings; it’s all 32 projected starters in the order that you should consider them this week. They were gotten using the Fantasy Flavor secret formula, and have their formulary numbers in parentheses, the lower the better. We’ll get all of the positional rankings out to you in time for Thursday’s games, so keep checking back for the rest.


1. Tony Romo (9)

2. Jay Cutler (17)

3. Phillip Rivers (24)

4. Drew Brees (30)

5. Kurt Warner (30)

6. Donavan McNabb (31)

7. Brett Favre (32)

8. Shaun Hill (33)

9. Chad Pennington (33)

10. Peyton Manning (34)

11. Aaron Rodgers (35)

12. Matt Ryan (37)

13. David Garrard (41)

14. Tyler Thigpen (42)

15. Trent Edwards (44)

16. Jeff Garcia (46)

17. Matt Cassel (47)

18. Joe Flacco (47)

19. Eli Manning (49)

20. Kerry Collins (56)

21. Ben Roethlisberger (57)

22. Kyle Orton (60)

23. Jason Campbell (63)

24. Sage Rosenfels (64)

25. Jake Delhomme (70)

26. Marc Bulger (70)

27. Gus Frerotte (71)

28. JaMarcus Russell (72)

29. Matt Hasselbeck (77)

30. Ryan Fitzpatrick (83)

31. Brady Quinn / Derek Anderson (88)

32. Daunte Culpepper / Drew Stanton (92)


All of the rankings will be up in time for you to get your Thursday lineups in, so keep checking back. You can use the links below to check all of the other positions; they’ll be activated as they become available.







Week 13 RB Rankings & Previews


Week 13 WR Rankings & Previews


Week 13 TE Rankings & Previews


Week 13 K Rankings & Previews


Week 13 D/ST Rankings & Previews



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Obama’s lucky Flacco didn’t run

Posted on 25 November 2008 by Drew Forrester

There’s a lot of football left and anything can happen.

Five games is an eternity in the NFL.  

Injuries…a missed call by the zebras…a bad match-up or two.

In the NFL, you can win three in a row in a heartbeat and lose three in a row just as quickly.

But this is a Ravens team that looks different than in years past.  Record wise, this team is clearly much better than last year’s squad that was beset with injuries and dictated a mini-coaching-mutiny from within when it was apparent by Thanksgiving that the season was a lost cause.  

I think this team is better than the one that went 13-3 in 2006, truth be told.


They have a quarterback.

Steve McNair wasn’t chopped liver when he showed up here for the ’06 campaign but he became chopped something shortly thereafter.  Even when he was healthy, he looked like he was on his last legs.  Players would openly marvel at how McNair could literally sleep for 20 minutes an hour before kick-off.  And, while the players knew McNair was better than Kyle Boller, they also knew his stay in Baltimore would probably be short-lived. 

That’s not the case now.  Joe Flacco’s going to be here for a long time.  And the players know it.

Flacco’s meteoric rise hasn’t come as a total shock to the Ravens.  Even back in training camp, players watched him and remarked at how he *looked* like a pro quarterback.  Samari Rolle showed up a week or so into camp after the death of his father and was standing on the sidelines on his first day in Westminster. He watched Flacco play for about 10 minutes and looked around to a Ravens’ staffer and said, “#5, the rookie. We’re gonna play him, right?  I mean, we’re trying to win aren’t we?”  A very telling statement from a Pro Bowl defensive back who knows a thing or two about quarterbacks and their abilities.

It might have taken some players (and fans) longer than 10 minutes to buy into Flacco, but one thing for sure by now.  Everyone wants to invest him.

The standard line at Owings Mills these days is this:  “Buy stock in Joe Flacco.”

Flacco’s emergence is reflected in the team’s 7-4 record and their rise in the ranks of the AFC, but his play has done much more than just put points on the board for the Ravens.  He’s all but squashed any thoughts – private or public – from players who think Troy Smith would be a better fit than Flacco for this Ravens team.  He’s also quieted a locker room that was well-known for hosting a group moaning session on regular occasions when the Quarterback Du Jour wasn’t getting the job done.  There are no more cryptic radio show comments from Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs or Willis McGahee.  Flacco has shut everyone up, critics and teammates alike.  As we all know, it’s not easy to shut up the Ravens.  But Flacco has done just that.

And a quiet locker room can make a lot of noise on the field, where those sounds best belong.

#5 has made life pleasant again in Baltimore.  He’s a viable candidate for NFL Rookie of the Year and could very well lead his team to the playoffs in his inaugural campaign in the league — something few people expected, much less demanded.  And his play has also brought harmony to the locker room.  No more bickering, no more mid-season finger pointing and no more concerns about having to win games with a quarterback who is a liability.

For years, the Ravens have belonged to Ray Lewis.  

And, in perpetuity, #52 will always be the guy who built the Ravens’ house.

But it’s looking more and more like Joe Flacco is going to build an addition on to that house.

And when you build an addition, the first thing people say is, “Wow, your house sure looks better.”

That’s the story of the Ravens in 2008.  No matter what happens from here on in, their house looks a lot better with Joe Flacco at work. In fact, the house hasn’t looked this good in a long, long time.

I hope that new addition has room for a certain trophy named after a Hall of Fame NFL coach.

I think we’ll need the room one of these days in the not so distant future.

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NFL Power Rankings – Week 13

Posted on 25 November 2008 by Thyrl Nelson

There were no major shakeups in the power rankings this week, especially at the top, unless you consider the Titans slipping out of the top spot to #2 to be a major shakeup that is. With each passing week we seem to gain a little more clarity into the likely playoff picture, and possible seeding scenarios.


There’s still a lot of football left to be played, and certainly a surprise or two still around the corner in the season’s closing weeks, but by now I think we have a pretty good idea of which teams are contenders and which ones are pretenders. What’s still very much up for grabs though, is which of those contenders will position themselves to walk away with the hardware at the end. After all, there’s no trophy for being the best team after 11 games, or even 16 for that matter. It’s all about the playoffs, but until they begin, here’s how I see things so far.


NFL Power Rankings Archive34567 – 8 9 – 10 – 11 – 12


Week 13 NFL Power Rankings


1. New York Giants (2) – 10-1 – Most, myself included, probably felt that they were deserving of the top spot a few weeks ago, but the Titans simply kept rolling along. At this point, I think the consensus is that the Giants are probably the team to beat. We’ll see how they are able to maintain their focus and health down the stretch. Next Week: @ WAS


2. Tennessee Titans (1) – 10-1 – The Titans have struggled to run the ball in recent weeks, and this time it came back to bite them. Expect Jeff Fischer to use this as an opportunity to rally his troops. Having something left to work on at this point in the season isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Next Week: @ DET (Thanksgiving)


3. Pittsburgh Steelers (5) – 8-3 – The Steelers have quietly been doing what we’ve grown accustomed to seeing from them. A strong effective defense, complimented by a conservative yet efficient offense has been the formula that’s kept the Steelers rolling along, and mostly staying under the radar while doing it. Next Week: @ NE


4. New York Jets (6) – 8-3 – Although the AFC East is still very much up for grabs, the Jets have gone a long way to cementing their position in control of the race. It appears that Brett Favre was right when he said that he thought he might have a little more football left in him. It looks like the Jets do too. Next Week: vs. DEN


5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8) – 8-3 – It seems that Jon Gruden has taken his once complex offense and made it plug and play. Despite the rash of injuries to skill position players, the Bucs keep getting it done with a revolving cast of characters on offense, and the defense that the Bucs have been known for. Next Week: vs. NO


6. Arizona Cardinals (4) – 7-4 – They held their own with the mighty Giants for just over a half, but clearly still have work to do if they hope to contend with the NFC’s elite. Perhaps the Cards were a bit hasty in phasing Edgerin James out of their game plan altogether. Next Week: @ PHI (Thanksgiving)


7. Carolina Panthers (3) – 8-3 – Maybe they were simply due for a letdown. Or maybe, like a lot of us they underestimated the upstart Atlanta Falcons. Whatever the reason for Sunday’s debacle, the NFC South doesn’t allow much margin for error. Even if they can’t get past Tampa though, the Panthers still find themselves in the best position of all of the potential wild cards. Next Week: @ GB


8. Indianapolis Colts (9) – 7-4 – Reports of the Colts’ demise appear to have been greatly exaggerated. The Colts are still very much in the thick of the hunt in the AFC, if not the AFC South, and may be proving that they’re even more dangerous with their backs to the wall. Next Week: @ CLE


9. Baltimore Ravens (10) – 7-4 – After a few early season stumbles late in games, the Ravens now appear to have the endgame mastered. Keeping teams from getting wide open early may be the key to the Ravens being able to string together a run that leads them to an improbable playoff berth. The Ravens are playing a cold weather style, we’ll see if it plays to their favor now that the weather’s turning. Next Week: @ CIN


10. Atlanta Falcons (18) – 7-4 – Consider me sold; these Falcons are for real. They still have their work cut out for them though sitting at 3rd in their division will certainly make the road to a potential playoff berth a bumpy one. Next Week: @ SD


11. Denver Broncos (7) – 6-5 – Nothing should surprise you when it comes to this team. Nothing that is, except for the few moments when they actually look like a playoff caliber team. Maybe the Broncos are having trouble focusing because no one in the division looks capable of keeping them from the playoffs anyway. If they limp into the postseason like they’ve played lately though, they could be in for another unforgettable postseason embarrassment. Next Week: @ NYJ


12. Washington Redskins (12) – 6-5 – They got a win on Sunday, but I don’t think they did much to dispel concerns surrounding the offense in recent weeks. Wild card spots in the NFC look like they could be awfully tough to come by, and the Giants appear unlikely to let anyone back into the NFC East race. We’ll see if Washington is able to turn up the sense of urgency in the next few weeks. Next Week: vs. NYG


13. Chicago Bears (13) – 6-5 – The Bears got back on track last week after back to back losses, and still find themselves in the driver’s seat for the NFC North. If they intend to get into the playoffs and beyond however, they’ll have to find a way to take some of the load off of rookie Matt Forte. Next Week: @ MIN


14. New England Patriots (15) – 7-4 – The Patriots look to have found a rhythm, and Matt Cassel has grown from high school quarterback to competent NFL starter in just a few weeks time. Something tells me that the rest of the AFC may be sorry that they didn’t put these Pats away when they had the chance. Next Week: vs. PIT


15. Dallas Cowboys (16) – 7-4 – Tony Romo has returned to form, and brought TO back with him to boot. For now it seems that all is well in Cowboy land. We’ll see if they can keep it going now that they all seem to be on the same page once again. Next Week: vs. SEA (Thanksgiving)


16. Minnesota Vikings (17) – 6-5 – The Vikings may be hitting their stride, and just in the nick of time. Luckily for them, the rest of the division may have waited for them to get ready to make themselves a factor in this race. The Vikes could be a tough draw in the playoffs, even on the road, with their strong run defense and ridiculous two-headed backfield. Next Week: vs. CHI


17. Miami Dolphins (14) – 6-5 – Fool Bellichick once, as the Dolphins did with the advent of the wildcat offense, and credit is due. Try it a second time, and shame on you. Tony Sparano and his Dolphins will have to figure out how to compliment their trickery by simply imposing their will on teams occasionally too. They have the weapons in their arsenal, now they just have to put them to the right use. Next Week: @ ST.L


18. Buffalo Bills (25) – 6-5 – Trent Edwards and the Bills certainly made a statement in KC on Sunday. In doing so they have also declared themselves back in the race for the AFC East. We’ll have to wait and see if it’s more than a one-week explosion. Next Week: vs. SF


19. San Diego Chargers (19) – 4-7 – I can’t help but feel like these Chargers still have some semblance of a run left in the tank, but with each passing week, it appears less and less likely. As long as the Broncos continue to stumble though, a playoff run will still remain a possibility for this team. Next Week: vs. ATL


20. New Orleans Saints (21) – 6-5 – Despite the rash of offensive injuries, this team has still been a major disappointment this season. Especially since, at times, they have played at an elite level. Still inconsistency and the success of the rest of this division will probably be too much for the Saints to overcome this season. Next Week: @ TB


21. Green Bay Packers (11) – 5-6 – Forget about the fact that Brett Favre is lighting it up for the Jets in the AFC, the Packers had to see what they had in Aaron Rodgers in this, his 4th season. With that said, they way that Rodgers and these Packers have played at times is the reason why Ted Thompson knew that having Favre around on the bench was not an option. Next Week: vs. CAR


22. Philadelphia Eagles (20) – 5-5-1 – The Eagles and Andy Reid appear to be their own worst enemy at this point. With a banged up Brian Westbrook and Correll Buckhalter injured early in the game on Sunday, it’s feasible that Reid benched Donavan McNabb to simply keep him from being killed in the second half against the Ravens. Next Week: vs. AZ (Thanksgiving)


23. Houston Texans (24) – 4-7 – They’re clearly playing for the future at this point, but offensively at least, that future looks like it could be pretty bright. If they could put together a consistent defense, they might hope to contend in the talent laden AFC South. Next Week: vs. JAX


24. Jacksonville Jaguars (23) – 4-7 – The Jags are easily the most talented team in the bottom third of the rankings, on both sides of the ball it would seem. Something however keeps this team from being able to believe in themselves enough to play a game from start to finish. I suspect there will be big changes in Jacksonville this off-season. Next Week: @ HOU


25. Oakland Raiders (31) – 3-8 – The Raiders and Tom Cable are doing the best that they can with what they’ve got, and are scaring some teams in the process. In the big picture, they’re probably overmatched talent wise in most weeks, but they do have a few exciting young players to build around. Next Week: vs. KC


26. Cleveland Browns (22) – 4-7 – New quarterback, same old problems. Now they’re back to the old quarterback it seems, but the Browns need a lot more than a new QB to ignite this offense. They might need a defibrillator to get their collective heart going again. Next Week: vs. IND


27. San Francisco 49ers (26) – 3-8 – They’ve shuffled coaches, coordinators, quarterbacks and systems, but the Niners still appear no closer to getting to the playoffs any time soon. In fact they may be headed in the opposite direction altogether. Next Week: @ BUF


28. Seattle Seahawks (27) – 2-9 – They’ve put up much more of a fight it would seem in recent weeks, but still the Seahawks are nowhere close to where they expected to be at this point in the season. It looks like it’s safe to say that 2008 in Seattle may be the worst sports season any city has ever seen. Next Week: @ DAL (Thanksgiving)


29. Cincinnati Bengals (28) – 1-9-1 – It’d be nice to say that the Bengals have played better than their 1-9-1 record would indicate, but it’s probably not true. The Bengals still have enough firepower to be a handful for just about anyone, but a sustained period of success is highly unlikely. Next Week: vs. BAL


30. Kansas City Chiefs (28) – 1-10 – They seemed to have found an offensive rhythm of late, but simply can’t stop the run against anyone. The Cheifs should provide us with plenty of good highlights, both their own and their opponents, this season, but probably won’t be much of a factor in most games. Next Week: @ OAK


31. St. Louis Rams (30) – 2-9 – The Rams went from freefall, to seemingly righting their ship, and back to freefall in a few short weeks. The good news is that in the NFC West, they can still reasonably hope to come back next year with a chance to be competitive again. Next Week: vs. MIA


32. Detroit Lions (32) – 0-11 – Now that the Titans have gotten a blemish on their perfect record, I suppose the attention will shift to Detroit, and their record of perfect ineptitude so far. Some say it’s harder to go winless than undefeated in today’s NFL, for what it’s worth I never understood that logic, but the Lions are doing it and making it look easy too. Next Week: vs. TEN





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Week 12 Fantasy Start Rankings – Every Position

Posted on 20 November 2008 by Thyrl Nelson

Just for the sake of making everything easier, I’ve decided to post the week 12 Fantasy Start Rankings for all 6 positions in one place. It’s the same start rankings that you can find on the bottoms of each of the Positional Power Rankings for week 12. You can locate those power rankings by using the links at the bottom of this page too.


Listed below are the formulary start rankings for each of the 6 positions, with their formulary number listed in parentheses next to them. The formulary rankings are gotten using the “secret fantasy flavor formula”, it’s basically 2 parts player performance, 1 part defensive expectations against them this week, with a few variables thrown in for injuries and anomalies.


As news becomes available over the course of the weekend, I’ll make notes here too, so keep checking back. And at the end of the day, trust your gut, and have fun. That’s why we play the games after all anyway. And good luck to you this week as the playoffs approach.




1. Peyton Manning (15) @SD

2. Aaron Rodgers (21) @ NO

3. Jay Cutler (22) vs. OAK

4. Tony Romo (22) vs. SF

5. Kurt Warner (29) vs. NYG

6. Shaun Hill (31) @ DAL

7. Brady Quinn (31) vs. HOU

8. Drew Brees (35) vs. GB

9. Eli Manning (36) @ AZ

10. Phillip Rivers (40) vs. IND

11. Matt Cassel (40) @ MIA

12. Kyle Orton (42) @ ST.L

13. Tyler Thigpen (43) vs. BUF

14. Gus Frerotte (43) @ JAX

15. Jeff Garcia (44) @ DET

16. Donavan McNabb (45) @ BAL

17. Jason Campbell (48) @ SEA

18. David Garrard (52) vs. MIN

19. Brett Favre (53) @ TEN

20. Chad Pennington (57) vs. NE

21. Sage Rosenfels (61) @ CLE

22. Kerry Collins (61) vs. NYJ

23. Matt Ryan (62) vs. CAR

24. Joe Flacco (64) vs. PHI

25. Jake Delhomme (68) @ ATL

26. Ben Roethlisberger (69) vs. CIN

27. JaMarcus Russell (70) @ DEN*about the same if it’s Walter or Tuisasopo

28. Trent Edwards (78) @ KC

29. Marc Bulger (78) vs. CHI

30. Ryan Fitzpatrick (81) @ PIT

31. Daunte Culpepper (86) vs. TB

32. Matt Hasselbeck (87) vs. WAS





1. Clinton Portis (19) @ SEA

2. Adrian Peterson (22) @ JAX

3. Matt Forte (22) @ ST.L

4. Frank Gore (23) @ DAL

5. Marion Barber (27) vs. SF

6. Thomas Jones (28) @ TEN

7. Reggie Bush (32) vs. GB

8. Brian Westbrook (33) @ BAL

9. Willie Parker (34) vs. CIN

10. Brandon Jacobs (35) @ AZ *watch his injury status

11. Marshawn Lynch (37) @ KC

12. LaDanian Tomlinson (38) vs. IND

13. Michael Turner (43) vs. CAR

14. DeAngelo Williams (43) @ ATL

15. Steve Slaton (45) @ CLE

16. Maurice Jones-Drew (46) vs. MIN

17. Ronnie Brown (48) vs. NE

18. Jamal Lewis (51) vs. HOU

19. Chris Johnson (56) vs. NYJ

20. Larry Johnson (56) vs. BUF

21. Steven Jackson (60) vs. CHI *keep an eye on his status

22. Joseph Addai (65)@ SD

23. LenDale White (66) vs. NYJ

24. Ryan Grant (69) @ NO

25. Darren McFadden (71) @ DEN

26. Jonathan Stewart (73) @ ATL

27. Warrick Dunn (74) @ DET

28. Sammy Morris (76) @ MIA

29. Mewelde Moore (77) vs. CIN

30. Tim Hightower (78) vs. NYG

31. Kevin Smith (79) vs. TB

32. Willis McGahee (83) vs. PHI *keep an eye on his status

33. Deuce McAllister (84) vs. GB

34. Derrick Ward (85) @ AZ

35. Ahman Green (85) @ CLE

36. LeRon McClain (87) vs. PHI *bump 2 or 3 spots if McGahee can’t go

37. Jerome Harrison (87) vs. HOU

38. Peyton Hillis (89) vs. OAK

39. Justin Fargas (95)vs. DEN *bump 15 spots if McFadden can’t go

40. Ray Rice (97) vs. PHI *keep him here regardless of McGahee’s status

41. Dominic Rhodes (97) @ SD

42. Jerious Norwood (99) vs. CAR

43. Julius Jones (99) vs. WAS

44. Leon Washington (100) @ TEN

45. Antonio Pittman (102) vs. CHI *bump 8 to 10 spots if Steven Jackson can’t go

46. BenJarvis Green-Ellis (104) @ MIA

47. Ricky Williams (106) vs. NE

48. Chester Taylor (112) @ JAX

49. Kevin Faulk (114) @ MIA

50. Kenneth Darby (114) vs. CHI *bump 3 or 4 spots if Jackson can’t go






1. Santana Moss (11) @ SEA

2. Anquan Boldin (15) vs. NYG

3. Larry Fitzgerald (17) vs. NYG

4. Greg Jennings (20) @ NO

5. Andre Johnson (25) @ CLE

6. Bernard Berrian (27) @ JAX

7. Steve Smith (29) *CAR @ ATL

8. Calvin Johnson (32) vs. TB

9. Roddy White (34) vs. CAR

10. Reggie Wayne (34) @ SD

11. Hines Ward (38) vs. CIN

12. Kevin Walter (41) @ CLE

13. Brandon Marshall (45) vs. OAK

14. Justin Gage (45) vs. NYJ

15. Terrell Owens (48) vs. SF

16. Eddie Royal (49) vs. OAK

17. DeWayne Bowe (49) vs. BUF

18. Randy Moss (50) @ MIA

19. Lee Evans (56) @ KC

20. Antonio Bryant (59) @ DET

21. TJ Houshmandzadeh (60) @ PIT

22. Donnie Avery (63) vs. CHI

23. Lance Moore (67) vs. GB

24. Vincent Jackson (68) vs. IND

25. Wes Welker (68) @ MIA

26. DeSean Jackson (69) @ BAL

27. Plaxico Burress (74) @ AZ

28. Donald Driver (76) @ NO

29. Braylon Edwards (77) vs. HOU

30. Chris Chambers (80) vs. IND

31. Laverneus Coles (81) @ TEN

32. Jehrrico Cotchery (83) @ TEN

33. Matt Jones (84) vs. MIN

34. Mushin Muhammad (91) @ ATL

35. Derrick Mason (92) vs. PHI *watch his injury status

36. DeVery Henderson (95) vs. GB

37. Steve Breaston (95) vs. NYG

38. Issac Bruce (98) @ DAL

39. Brandon Lloyd (98) @ ATL

40. Mark Bradley (101) vs. BUF

41. Nate Washington (104) vs. CIN

42. Kevin Curtis (105) @ BAL

43. Ted Ginn Jr. (109) vs. NE

44. Sinorice Moss (110) @ AZ

45. Michael Jenkins (116) vs. CAR

46. Santonio Holmes (117) vs. CIN

47. Marvin Harrison (118) @ SD

48. Greg Camarillo (121) vs. NE

49. Malcolm Floyd (124) vs. IND

50. Ricky Williams (124) vs. NE

51. Antoine Randle-El (127) @ SEA

52. Anthony Gonzalez (128) @ SD

53. Rasheid Davis (132) @ ST.L

54. Tory Holt (133) vs. CHI

55. Bryant Johnson (134) @ DAL

56. Jabar Gafney (134) @ MIA

57. Hank Baskett (135) vs. BAL

58. Amani Toomer (136) @ AZ

59. Marques Colston (137) vs. GB

60. Chad Johnson (140) @ PIT *out insert Chris Henry here

61. Patrick Crayton (140) vs. SF

62. Devin Hester (144) @ ST.L

63. Koren Robinson (149) vs. WAS

64. Bobby Wade (151) @ JAX

65. Myles Austin (152) vs. SF  out

66. Sidney Rice (153) @ JAX

67. Marty Booker (156) @ ST.L

68. Deion Branch (157) vs. WAS

69. Ike Hilliard (161) @ DET

70. Reggie Brown (163) @ BAL

71. Chansi Stuckey (165) @ TEN

72. John Standeford (170) vs. TB

73. Brandon Stokley (171) vs. OAK

74. Mike Walker (174) @ DET

75. Steve Smith (174)*NYG @ AZ





1. Dallas Clark (13) @ SD

2. Kellen Winslow Jr. (15) vs. HOU

3. Tony Scheffler (20) vs. OAK

4. Bo Scaife (24) vs. NYJ

5. Antonio Gates (28) vs. IND

6. Owen Daniels (29) @ CLE

7. Tony Gonzalez (33) vs. BUF

8. Kevin Boss (34) @ AZ

9. Anthony Fasano (34) vs. NE

10. Dustin Keller (34) @ TEN

11. Zach Miller (34) @ DEN

12. Billy Miller (38) vs. GB

13. Jerramy Stevens (39) @ DET

14. Jason Witten (42) vs. SF

15. Visanthe Schiancoe (43) @ JAX

16. Chris Cooley (45) @ SEA

17. Greg Olsen (53) @ ST.L

18. Alex Smith (53) @ DET

19. Mercedes Lewis (55) vs. MIN

20. Todd Heap (55) vs. PHI

21. Tom Santi (61) @ SD

22. John Carlson (63) vs. WAS

23. Daniel Graham (64) @ CLE

24. LJ Smith (66) @ BAL

25. Derek Fine (69) @ KC

26. Steve Heiden (73) vs. HOU

27. Vernon Davis (76) @ DAL

28. Dante Rosario (78) @ ATL

29. Donald Lee (79) @ NO

30. Heath Miller (80) vs. CIN

31. Martellus Bennett (80) vs. SF

32. Brent Celek (80) @ BAL

33. David Martin (80) vs. NE

34. Alge Crumpler (80) vs. NYJ

35. Jeremy Shockey (82) vs. GB





1. Mason Crosby (16) @ NO

2. Garrett Hartley (16) vs. GB

3. Stephen Gostkowski (24) @ MIA

4. Matt Bryant (26) @ DET

5. Phil Dawson (29) vs. HOU

6. David Akers (30) @ BAL

7. Lawrence Tynes (32) @ AZ *no difference if it’s Carney

8. Rian Lindell (33) @ KC

9. Jason Elam (36) vs. CAR

10. Shaun Suisham (36) @ SEA

11. Nate Kaeding (39) vs. IND

12. Joe Nedney (41) @ DAL

13. Matt Prater (44) vs. CAR

14. Jay Feeley (46) @ TEN

15. Ryan Longwell (46) @ JAX

16. Robbie Gould (46) @ ST.L

17. Rob Bironas (47) vs. NYJ

18. Sebastian Janikowski (48) @ DEN

19. Josh Brown (50) vs. CHI

20. Neil Rackers (54) vs. NYG

21. Josh Scobee (58) vs. MIN

22. John Kasay (61) @ ATL

23. Jeff Reed (61) vs. CIN

24. Nick Folk (65) vs. SF

25. Jason Hanson (69) vs. TB

26. Connor Barth (69) vs. BUF

27. Matt Stover (71) vs. PHI

28. Olindo Mare (75) vs. WAS

29. Kris Brown (77) @ CLE

30. Adam Vinatieri (77) @ SD

31. Shayne Graham (79) @ PIT

32. Dan Carpenter (83) vs. NE





1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7) @ DET

2. Pittsburgh Steelers (16) vs. CIN

3. Chicago Bears (21) @ ST.L

4. Green Bay Packers (27) @ NO

5. Philadelphia Eagles (27) @ BAL

6. Tennessee Titans (30) vs. NYJ

7. New York Jets (36) @ TEN

8. New York Giants (37) @ AZ

9. Baltimore Ravens (42) vs. PHI

10. Miami Dolphins (42) vs. NE

11. Seattle Seahawks (42) vs. WAS

12. San Francisco 49ers (43) @ DAL

13. Dallas Cowboys (43) vs. SF

14. Jacksonville Jaguars (44) vs. MIN

15. Cleveland Browns (46) vs. HOU

16. Minnesota Vikings (48) @ JAX

17. Oakland Raiders (49) @ DEN

18. Atlanta Falcons (50) vs. CAR

19. Buffalo Bills (50) @ KC

20. Arizona Cardinals (51) vs. NYG

21. Carolina Panthers (52) @ ATL

22. Washington Redskins (58) @ SEA

23. Kansas City Chiefs (63) vs. BUF

24. New England Patriots (65) @ MIA

25. Cincinnati Bengals (67) @ PIT

26. Denver Broncos (67) vs. OAK

27. San Diego Chargers (68) vs. IND

28. New Orleans Saints (72) vs. GB

29. Indianapolis Colts (73) @ SD

30. Houston Texans (80) @ CLE

31. St. Louis Rams (81) vs. CHI

32. Detroit Lions (87) vs. TB



Week 12 Fantasy QB Rankings and Previews


Week 12 Fantasy RB Rankings and Previews


Week 12 Fantasy WR Rankings and Previews


Week 12 Fantasy TE Rankings and Previews


Week 12 Fantasy K Rankings and Previews


Week 12 Fantasy D/ST Rankings and Previews







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