The PYRO Fantasy Football Depth Chart is a rundown of where Team PYRO projects the fantasy production for each team at each position. It is NOT an attempt to inform you of the current starters for each team. For example, we are well aware that Brandon Manumaleuna is currently the starting TE for the Chicago Bears, but if you look at the Bears Team Page, we have Greg Olsen listed at TE. Why? We’re projecting that Greg Olsen will be the most Fantasy Football relevant TE for the Bears this season. Since Olsen will be the Bears leading FF point scorer at TE, it’s his name at the top of the TE column on our PYRO Fantasy Depth Chart.
Yesterday, playing in his fourth game since his return, Vereen again flashed his potential.
After Rob Gronkowski went down with an ACL tear in the third quarter against the Cleveland Browns, Tom Brady turned to the back to pull off the team’s dramatic 27-26 win. Vereen had a career day, setting franchise running back records with 12 receptions and 153 yards.
“It’s been a roller coaster ride,” Vereen, who also scored a rushing touchdown, said of his season. “You know, a lot of peaks and valleys, but that’s football. That’s how it goes. Just happy to be here now and happy I can be a part of the team.”
With no Gronkowski, Aaron Dobson (foot) or Kenbrell Thompkins (hip), Brady targeted Vereen 17 times. The number of targets was nearly double the amount for the next player (nine for Julian Edelman) and more than twice as many as the eight other players who caught a pass.
Pyro's take: Vereen has been awesome since returning, and he blew up yesterday. Now that Gronkowski is out for the season Vereeen should see an increased workload the rest of the way.
Shane is a must start this week facing the Dolphins. The Fins have had issues stopping the run, and with Vereen's dual threat ability it could be a long night for their defense.
The Patriots will likely be without a starting receiver on Sunday.
Rookie Aaron Dobson missed practice for the second straight day with a foot injury on Thursday. Dobson got hurt against the Broncos. He missed Sunday’s game against the Texans.
Pyro's take: The Patriots seem to be pretty sure that Dobson will not play this week, as they re-signed Austin Collie today. I do not expect Collie to be an impact player for the Patriots, but it shows just how far away Dobson and Kenbrell Thompkins are from being game ready.
The big winner in this is going to be Julian Edelman, who should see a lot of targets if Dobson and Thompkins are out.
12/05/13, 06:15 PM CST by Houdini
Thompkins and Brady are the worst combination in the game
Tom Brady may finally be back on track, but his connection with rookie Kenbrell Thompkins still needs some work. The quarterback-receiver duo actually ranks worst (93rd) in the NFL among tandems with at least 40 attempts this season, with Brady completing just 43.1 percent of his targets to Thompkins. However, the two did seem to be more in sync on Monday night.
Thompkins caught both passes thrown his way in Carolina, racking up 60 yards and a near touchdown on the night. That’s a promising sign after sitting out of the Steelers’ game as a healthy scratch. The biggest improvement seemed to be in Thompkins’ approach. He was making conscious efforts to catch the ball more with his hands against the Panthers rather than relying on his body as he did for the first half of the year.
Pyro's take: Thompkins has not seen much action lately, and now you know why. Kenbrell was seeing a ton of targets early in the season, but he was not able to turn those targets into a lot of catches. In turn, he lost time to Aaron Dobson.
Kenbrell did well last week, but he was only targeted twice in the game. That is not enough to be a fantasy threat that you can count on. This week will feature a blockbuster match-up against the Broncos, so there should be a lot of scoring, but don't count on a big night for this rookie.
11/21/13, 05:45 PM CST by Houdini
The back-shoulder catch is one of the most difficult for a wide receiver, relying on both hand-eye coordination and timing.
Patriots’ rookie wide receiver Aaron Dobson picked an opportune time to come down with one.
It was a key part of a banner day for Dobson, who finished with five catches for 130 yards and two scores.
“It was a good time to catch one, I think it is my first back-shoulder catch,” Dobson said, smiling. “It feels really good, it shows that the hard work is paying off. It’s good to have confidence like this going into the bye week.”
Dobson’s ability to make the difficult back-shoulder catch for a score could very well be a sign that he is getting on the same page with Brady more often. The two failed to connect in a key situation against the Jets a few weeks back, and Brady’s unhappiness was visible to all. Dobson himself admits the play is one of the toughest for a wide receiver because of the intangibles involved.
“I just feel like (it’s tough) adjusting to it and just seeing it quick,” he said. “You just got to get your head around and when you see the back throw, you just got to adjust to it.”
Pyro's take: Dobson started the season not being on the same page as Tom Brady, and dropping a lot of passes. Well, the rookie from Marshall has been working hard in practice and over the past few weeks has taken over for Kenbrell Thompkins, who many thought would lock down this role in the offense.
Sunday Dobson was a force, scoring 2 touchdowns, inclduing the 81-yard bomb from Brady. The key to being successful in the Patriots offense is having the trust of Tom Brady, and this performance will go a long way to strengthening that bond. The rookie is available in over 50% of leagues, so do yourself a favor and pick him up.
Brady’s right throwing hand, which had been mashed during a third-quarter sack last week against the Jets, looked like it belonged to a boxer. It was so swollen and puffed out on top, you could barely tell he had knuckles.
And it showed.
His very first pass, intended for Rob Gronkowski, was a disaster. He threw behind the tight end, and the ball was picked off by Dolphins cornerback Dimitri Patterson. That led to a quick Miami touchdown.
Bad hand and all, he also made some big-time deliveries. He made a terrific 14-yard throw down the left sideline to Aaron Dobson for a touchdown. He also hit Gronkowski for a 23-yard completion down the middle and would have had a wondrous 30-yard touchdown strike to Gronk if not for a holding penalty.
Pyro's take: Brady is wearing his Stetson hat and showed True Grit with his performance on Sunday. I would hope that Tom gets some attention to that hand so that he will be good to go next week. The light at the end of the tunnel for Brady is a bye week looming in week 10, which should help him and a lot of his teammates to get healthy.
On Wednesday, Belichick was asked about wide receiver Danny Amendola, who is dealing with a concussion. In typical Belichick fashion, the head coach offered up some simple yet smirk-inducing responses as seen in the conversation with the media below, via Patriots media relations.
Q: Is Danny Amendola subject to the concussion protocol?
Bill Belichick: Every player has to go through medical clearance.
Q: But specifically concussion protocol, does he still have to go through that?
Bill Belichick: Yeah, sure, every player has to go through whatever the medical procedures are.
Q: So he hasn’t been cleared to practice yet?
Bill Belichick: I didn’t say that. I said every player has to go through the medical procedures.
Q: So has he been cleared to practice?
Bill Belichick: We’ll give our practice report after practice like we always do.
Pyro's take: As long as you are not truly trying to find out what Amendola's status is, this is pretty funny. Belichick is a master at dead pan, and giving no information. That is what happened to today.
10/23/13, 06:50 PM CDT by Houdini
Rob Gronkowski’s return to the playing field remains uncertain.
It was reported by ESPN on Friday that the Pro Bowl tight end still has not been cleared to play by Dr. James Andrews. Andrews, the renowned orthopedic surgeon, has been named by the team and Gronkowski as an independent physician responsible for determining whether he is cleared to play.
A source also told ESPN’s Adam Schefter that Dr. Jesse Jupiter has not cleared Gronkowski to play either. Jupiter performed the latest surgery on Gronkowski’s forearm.
According to a report Friday on WEEI, Gronkowski’s camp has “serious concern” over the way Patriots team doctor Thomas Gill handled the forearm surgery. Gronkowski initially broke the bone last Nov. 18 against the Colts, and instead of letting the bone heal naturally, he and Gill decided to speed up the healing process by implanting a device in the forearm.
According to the WEEI report, Gronkowski’s camp has concerns about the integrity of the bone where the implement was placed and the surrounding nerves, and that the infection may have been avoided if the bone had healed on its own.
Pyro's take: For all those owners that grabbed Gronkowski this year, the news just keeps getting worse. The fact that he has still not been cleared to play, as well as the fact that there could be a possible infection might mean the stud tight end could miss a lot more time.
There is no doubt that Gronk's people and the Patriots have been on different pages, and that alone might keep him out longer. Then there is the fact that Gronk is not in the shape he needs to be, as he has not been able to work on his upper body strength with the forearm injury. The news just keeps getting worse and I fear we may not see him come at all this season.
After missing Sunday's game with an announced knee injury, running back Stevan Ridley was back at practice Wednesday afternoon.
Pyro's take: This is good news for Ridley owners, and it may be bad news for all of those who jumped on the waiver to grab Brandon Bolden. The Patriots and their run attack is very confusing as far as fantasy is concerned. There has been not true leader week in and week out, and I have a feeling that is what is going to continue now that it looks like Ridley is back in the mix.
This weekend has been targeted for Rob Gronkowski’s return, but according to a source, nothing definitive has been determined about the tight end playing Sunday against the Saints.
That could change soon.
Gronkowski, who has been working to come back from multiple forearm surgeries as well as back surgery during the offseason, appears ready to make his debut.
As was reported in the Herald more than a week ago, the Patriots and the Gronkowski camp have been divided about the tight end’s return date, and the team thought he was ready to play as early as Week 2. Those in Gronkowski’s inner circle targeted Week 6, so the expectation is that he will play Sunday.
According to Pro Football Talk, Dr. James Andrews is “in charge of the decision-making process” and will be involved in the final say.
Pyro's take: This is another strange story about how Gronk's people and the Patriots have not been on the same page. So ultimately both parties are leaving the decision to Dr. James Andrews, so this could still be a wait and see situation. This would be horrible news for owners of Gronk who are chomping at the bit to get him in their lineup, but nothing is ever crystal clear when you are dealing with the Patriots. Keep your fingers crossed.
There is optimism that wide receiver Danny Amendola could return after missing three games with a torn groin, a source told the Herald.
Amendola even sounded more chipper than usual yesterday after completing his third practice session of the week.
“Had a good day today,” said Amendola, whose travel bag included his pink cleats that he’ll wear during the NFL’s recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. “Had a good practice. Ran around and made some plays and looking forward to Sunday, so we’ll see.”
Pyro's take: Finally we get some good news out of New England with all their injuries. Amendola was pegged by us to have a great season if he stayed healthy, so now that he is back it is time to show it. Tom Brady should be looking for him often in this match-up and if you have been sitting on Amendola all this time you better get him in your lineup this weekend.
New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski continues to get closer and closer to making his 2013-14 season debut, but no one expects that moment to come in Week 5 when the Patriots take on the Cincinnati Bengals.
We hear on a weekly basis that Gronkowski is making progress and participating in practice, but we have yet to see the progress result in any game time.
In the recent inactives projection from ESPN Boston for Week 5, Gronkowski once again comes in as an inactive.
Here are the projected inactives for New England this weekend:
Chris Barker, Steve Beauharnais, Jake Bequette, Aaron Dobson, Rob Gronkowski, Stevan Ridley, Matthew Slater
Pyro's take: It is the constant waiting game for Gronkowski, but he is not going to rush himself back to get injured again, especially with the Patriots undefeated. Gronk has been practicing and when he does return will make a big fantasy impact, but that does not appear to be in the cards this weekend.
Kenbrell Thompkins getting along well with Tom Brady
“He’s done great since he got here,” said Brady. “That’s why he’s been out there so much, why he’s had so many opportunities, because he continues to do those things.
“That gains trust, certainly in me but also coach [Bill] Belichick, [offensive coordinator] Josh [McDaniels], the other players on the team. When the ball is going to a particular guy and good things are happening, you just want to keep giving him the ball.”
Pyro's take: It is always great news when your future hall-of-fame quarterback is singing your praises. The rookie has been getting better each week and could have another nice game against Cincinnati this weekend.
While Patriots rookie wide receiver Aaron Dobson is dealing with back and neck pain from a hit to the head suffered Sunday at Atlanta, he has avoided “major damage,” Nick Underhill of MassLive.com reported Tuesday.
Dobson was injured in a collision with Falcons safety Thomas DeCoud in the third quarter of the Patriots’ victory against the Falcons.
According to MassLive.com, Dobson’s status for Sunday’s game at Cincinnati is to be determined.
Pyro's take: Dobson will most likely not play this week, or be limited if he does. He is not a recommended play this week, but fellow rookie Kenbrell Thompkins is probable for the game and developing a nice chemistry with Tom Brady.
The Patriots have ruled out tailback Stevan Ridley for their Week Five game at Cincinnati, the club disclosed on its updated Friday injury report. Ridley hasn’t practiced all week because of a knee injury.
Pyro's take: With Ridley out this opens a door for LaGarrette Blount, which just sounds weird. Brandon Bolden is also dealing with an injury and that will give Blount the starting job.
The Patriots left for Atlanta on Saturday and neither Gronkowski nor Amendola made the trip, meaning neither player will play in Sunday night's game, according to ESPN.com.
Pyro's take: It will have to be wait until next week before we get to see Gronk on the field for the first time this season. This is tough news for Tom Brady who is dying to get some weapons back in the offense that he can trust.
The Patriots’ Danny Amendola was listed as inactive for last night’s Jets game and is now expected to miss two to six weeks of action, according to the NFL Network.
The wide receiver has been hampered by a lingering groin injury that he aggravated in Week 1 against the Bills.
Pyro's take: Damn you Amendola!!! This is always the worry with this receiver who just can't seem to stay healthy. He finally gets into a perfect situation in New England and with all the other injuries would have been in prime position to score big this season, but once again he lets an injury take him out. Amendola may be the most frustrating player in fantasy and he has just hurt 3 of my fantasy teams as well as many of yours. All we can do now is hope for a quick recovery and that when he does come back he is 100% healthy.
Multiple reports make Amendola's chances of playing Thursday look bad. NFL Network's Ian Rapoport says Amendola is "almost certain" to miss Thursday. The Boston Herald notes that Amendola wasn't present through the walkthrough on Tuesday. That doesn't guarantee he won't play, but it's certainly not a good sign.
Tom Brady, for his part, wasn't talking about any specific injuries during media appearance on Tuesday.
"We'll see how that all sorts itself out," Brady said. "There's a lot to prepare for in a very short amount of time. We're cramming a lot in but that's what we have to do."
Pyro's take: This is a tough break for owners of Amendola, who is dealing with a groin strain, but the fact that he will get a full 2 weeks to recover and should be just fine for your lineup in week 3.
This is very good news for Julian Edleman who figures to play in Amendola's role and who is coming of a nice week 1 performance as well. This is also good for Kenbrell Thompkins, who had only 4 catches but 14 targets in week 1, as he should see a hefty amount of targets in this game as well.
The Patriots announced Tuesday that running back Shane Vereen has been placed on injured reserve with a designation to return after undergoing surgery to repair a dislocated bone in his left wrist.
Vereen is eligible to practice after Week 7 and play after Week 9. Due to the Pats' Week 10 bye, the earliest Vereen can return to game action is Nov. 18 versus the Carolina Panthers.
Pyro's take: This is horrible news, considering just yesterday we were being told that this was just going to be a 2-3 week injury. Now he is not going to be able to come back until week 11, which effectively makes him a drop candidate now, unless you are in a real deep or keeper league.
Vereen looked great in this game, and it is unfortunate for the young running back who now seems to be injury prone. This is great news for Stevan Ridley, who looked like he was going to lose his job after fumbling twice. Ridley will need to show that he can hold onto the ball, although there is not much competition behind him now with LaGarrette Blount or Brandon Bolden as options.
Danny Amendola "sick" of talking about his injury label
Danny Amendola might have shown up on the New England Patriots' injury report as being limited (groin), which is something he’s been managing since playing 20 snaps in an Aug. 16 preseason game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but it shouldn’t affect his availability for Sunday’s season opener.
On Wednesday, Amendola echoed something he’s said in recent weeks: He’s champing at the bit to play in the regular season.
“I’m sick of talking about it, I just want to go play, to be honest with you,” he said. “I’m excited about getting out there. I’m just ready to go.”
Pyro's take: Danny Amendola is stepping into a great situation, as he looks to be Tom Brady's top target heading into the season. Amendola has been a player that has dealt with injuries throughout his short career and is fighting to get rid of that label. When healthy, the speedy Amendola creates mismatches all over the field. This will be evident in week 1, when Amendola and the Patriots will face the Buffalo Bills, a team that Tom Brady torches every time they play each other. Amendola is a great start in week 1 and will be a PPR machine with Brady as his quarterback this season.