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.
Veteran NFL scribe Dan Pompei reports that the Patriots have “floated” wide receiver Danny Amendola’s name in trade discussions and speculates that he could be cut if a deal is not made.
Still, making a move would not be cheap. Trading Amendola before June 2 would cost the Patriots an additional $645,000 in 2014, though his cap number would go from $5.75 million to zero in 2015, according to PatsCap.com.
There are several scenarios involved with cutting Amendola, though this one spelled out by PatsCap.com seems to make the most sense:
Cut Danny Amendola before 4PM March 11 and make him a June 2 designation.
That means the Pats would carry his $3 million salary and his $375,000 roster bonus on their books until June 2nd. On June 2nd he would be released. His 2014 cap number would then drop from $4.575m to $1.2million ($1.2 million signing bonus proration) – net cap savings in 2014 of around $2.88 million.
His 2015 cap number would go from $5.575 million to $3.6 million.
Pyro's take: Oh Danny Boy, a cut or trade is calling.
Amendola was a total underachiever, and once again an injury risk in 2013. The Patriots have a decision to make with Julian Edelman, and it is clear that Tom Brady prefers Edelman.
The best case scenario for the Patriots would be to trade Amendola in order to get his contract totally off their books in 2015, as well as keep more continuity in their offense by resigning Edelman.
In the end the Patriots are probably going to keep him for this season, but he will remain on the hot seat. If the Pats do resign Edelman, there is no reason to keep Amendola. New England has three young talented receivers who are entering their second year: Aaron Dobson, Kenbrell Thompkins and Josh Boyce.
"I'm never going to be content about anything," Dobson said of the state of his game. "I just got to get better, improve and learn to have a better overall understanding of the game and be a better player. As a rookie, Dobson said adjusting to the NFL learning curve proved to be the biggest test, but he's dedicated to apply himself in all phases of the game.
"Me as a player, I'm trying to get better every day, just improve all areas of the game: blocking, catching, running routes, everything," he said. "I'm just going to try to do whatever I need to do." With a tough playoff loss to finish his first NFL season, Dobson said he's ready to get back to action. "It's a new year, it's going to be a whole different team," he said. "I'm just excited to get back and start working."
Pyro's take: Dobson finished fourth in receiving yards on the Patriots last season with 519 yards while missing five games. Even though it was a statistically miserable season for the whole team, Dobson, still finished a respectable 7th in receiving amongst all rookie WRs.
With Edelman being a free agent and Amendola possibly being a salary cap casualty, Dobson is one of the few constants in the patriots WR group. But unless Dobson becomes the number one option, it’s hard to see him being more than a FF WR3; the last WR duo to both go over 1000 yards on the Patriots was Randy Moss and Wes Welker. The potential is out there of course; Dobson was a second rounder in last year’s draft and had a couple of nice games last year.
Mike Reiss suggests the Houston Texans could be a potential landing spot for Patriots impending free agent WR Julian Edelman.
"As for Julian Edelman’s potential market, it makes sense to think it will be close to Danny Amendola range after Edelman's 105-catch season," adds Reiss. "If that’s the case, the Patriots could absorb it but I think they would ultimately decide not to."
Pyro's take: If Edelman ends up signing with another team, his fantasy value will take a dip. The Patriots have been renowned, since Tom Brady has been quarterback, for targeting the slot receiver the most in the offense.
All you have to do is look at Wes Welker and the drop off he sustained this season after leaving the Patriots. Welker had 118 catches with Brady, and only 73 catches with Peyton Manning. Julian had a breakout season this year, but if he ends up leaving you can expect him to fall well short of the 105 catches he had this season.
If the two letters posted online by TMZ are to be believed, Hernandez is helping out his cellmates by handing off the contact info of women who have written to him in prison.
Also, Sheriff Thomas M. Hodgson has told the Boston Herald that Hernandez is not allowed to watch TV, so he hasn't watched any NFL games this season.
Pyro's take: Sharing is caring... too bad Aaron will never see freedom again and any girl that wants to have a tryst with this thug better have a great vibrator. Let's be honest, Aaron Murdernandez is The Soap On A Rope League MVP & Rookie of the Year this year. He's still got it...
Edelman's 105 catches doesn't tell the whole story
After compiling a total of 69 receptions through his first four NFL seasons, Julian Edelman broke out for 105 catches in 2013 - good for fourth in the league behind only Pierre Garcon (113), Antonio Brown (110) and Andre Johnson (109).
However, Edelman was only able to amass 1,056 yards with those 105 catches, which would end up ranking him all the way down at 21st in the league.
Pyro's take: Another little unknown fact is that of the 79 different 100-catch seasons during the Super Bowl era (1966-2013), Edelman's 1,056 yards was the fourth-fewest total of the 79 and the absolute fewest by a wide receiver (TE Jason Witten - 1,039 yds; FB Larry Centers - 962 yds; RB LaDainian Tomlinson - 725 yds).
Basically, if the New England Patriots are able to re-sign him, fantasy owners could target Julian as a WR2 in PPR leagues, but probably shouldn't be thought of as more than a WR3 with upside in standard scoring leagues.
It’s Brady. It’s always been Brady. And even if Manning’s favored Denver Broncos prevail Sunday against the New England Patriots, it still will be Brady.
This is not about quarterback ratings or NFL MVP awards, of which Manning has a record four. The most crystallizing, defining measure of a quarterback is this: whether he can perform at his best at the most crucial moment of his given season.
Manning, 37, has superior career passing and touchdown numbers, but those will never trump these: Brady, 36, has won twice as many playoff games and two more Super Bowl trophies. And he has been to three more Super Bowls and four more conference championship games .
Even the best statistical argument for Manning in my mind — his 51 game-winning drives, which are tied with Dan Marino for the most in a career — falls short. Brady has led 42 such drives, but seven have come in January or February, three of them in the Super Bowl.
That’s not merely clutch for his era. That’s historically money.
Joe Montana has 33 game-winning drives but just three in January — including “The Catch” to Dwight Clark against Dallas in the 1981 season’s NFC championship (which Brady actually saw in person as a 4-year-old Bay Area kid) and the 1988 Super Bowl to beat the Bengals.
Fact: Brady and Montana are the only two players in NFL history to win the NFL most valuable player and Super Bowl MVP awards multiple times. If Brady wins two more games this season, he will have as many Super Bowl titles as Montana.
Fact: Brady and Elway are the only two quarterbacks to lead their teams to five Super Bowls. If Brady takes the Patriots to a sixth this season, he stands alone.
Fact: No quarterback has more wins in playoff history than Brady’s 18 against seven losses. Montana went 16-7. Brady has 31 more regular season wins than Montana and a higher career passing rating.
Fact: Joe Montana’s greatest receiver during his Super Bowl years was Jerry Rice, only the greatest receiver ever. Peyton Manning’s was Marvin Harrison, soon to be a Hall of Famer. Tom Brady’s greatest receiver during his three Super Bowl victories was Troy Brown. (Randy Moss, bless his straight-cash-homie heart, was just passing through.)
Fact: Peyton Manning is 10-11 in the postseason.
Pyro's take: Brady has been Mr. Clutch in his career, just not as of late. Since losing to the Giants in the Super Bowl Brady is 4-4 in the post-season, including his win last week. In order for Brady to put himself in a class of his own over Montana and Elway he needs to win the title this year. Manning just happens to be standing in his way.
Brady is the quarterback you want in the big game. Tom terrific is once again doing it with no receivers to speak of and just keeps getting it done. A win today against Manning will put him on the verge of being the greatest quarterback of all-time.
Amendola looking to end the Welker discussion this week
Amendola was either supposed to be the second coming of Welker or an injury-prone “wuss” who couldn’t finish a season. It turns out neither party was correct.
It would have been impossible for Amendola to live up to his hype or his predecessor. The slot receiver has followed in Welker’s footsteps his entire career from attending Texas Tech, to going undrafted, to signing with the Patriots. Now, Amendola will be compared to Welker once again as the Patriots face the Broncos on Sunday in the AFC Championship Game.
Just because Amendola didn’t turn out to be Welker 2.0 doesn’t mean his regular season was a disappointment, though. Amendola displayed impressive toughness, missing just one game with a concussion and playing through a painful groin injury. Amendola originally suffered the groin ailment in the preseason. He had healed by the regular season but the injury worsened before halftime in Week 1 against the Buffalo Bills when he ripped the groin muscle completely off the bone.
Amendola wound up with 54 catches for 633 yards and two touchdowns during the regular season. He added three catches for 77 yards in the Patriots’ divisional-round playoff game against the Indianapolis Colts.
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady offered up some lofty praise for Amendola on Thursday.
“Danny’s had a great season,” Brady said glowingly. “He’s showed me really what he’s all about. He’s fought through a lot of adversity earlier in the year and is really playing his best football. He’s done a great job. He’s been in and out of different roles in the whole offense and different positions, different formations. He’s had to learn a lot of different spots. He’s willing to do whatever it takes. He’s doing great and I love being out there with him.”
Pyro's take: Amendola has been walking in Wes Welker's footsteps since he enrolled at Texas Tech. This season he was supposed to step in the role vacated by Welker, and, in the eyes of many, was supposed to be the next coming of Wes.
Well, as it turned out it looks like Julian Edelman did a better job at filling that role. Amendola still had some success in the offense, just not what he, the Patriots or anyone in fantasy expected from him. That can all be put to bed with a great showing in the AFC Championship game.
These are the types of games where players who are not necessarily the best on their team step up to make the difference. With how well Edelman has been playing it could be easy for defenses to forget about Amendola. Danny will look to make this be his statement game of the season, and help New England fans to move on from Wes Welker envy.
01/19/14, 12:26 PM CST by Houdini
Toucher & Rich out of Boston shed light on a nutty selection of stats that Tom has against Jack...
Tom Brady has completed 171-of-235 passes (73 percent) for 1,771 yards, 17 touchdowns and zero interceptions. That’s a passer rating of 121.1 against Del Rio, now Denver’s defensive coordinator.
Brady’s record against Del Rio in those games is 7-0, including playoff victories over Jacksonville in 2005 and 2007 when Del Rio was the Jaguars’ head coach.
Pyro's take: Looks like the Stetson Man knows how to shred Blame it on Del Rio's defenses, those numbers are totally staggering, almost impossible to believe. This doesn't bode well for the Broncos who are really banged up on defense at the moment as it is.
If I am a Patriots fan, I'm feeling really good about my team's chances on offense right now. The only question is can the Patriots defense stop the Peyton Manning offensive juggernaut.
Aaron Dobson back at practice, could suit up Sunday
Dobson was unable to play in last week's Divisional Round game due to a foot injury and in fact, hasn't even practiced since suffering a setback with it during the Patriots Week 17 game... that is, until now.
The rookie wide receiver reportedly got in a limited session with the team on Wednesday and could be targeting a Sunday return.
Pyro's take: It's possible the Patriots are pushing for Dobson to fight through his injury due to the concussion Kenbrell Thompkins sustained last weekend. At this point, it's unknown if Thompkins will be cleared in time to suit up, but if he isn't, then Dobson might be forced into action regardless of how his foot feels in practice this week.
Stay tuned to this story, as either Dobson or Thompkins could end up being a vital element in the Pats' game-plan for Sunday against the Denver Broncos.
Brady holds a 10-4 record in the head-to-head matchup between these two, all but two of those games came when Manning was the quarterback for the Indianapolis Colts. Facing Manning's team on the road, Brady and the Patriots hold a 3-2 advantage.
Over those 14 games:
*Team points per game: 30.0 for the Patriots, 24.6 for Colts/Broncos.
*Quarterback completion percentage: 67.0% for Brady, 61.8% for Manning.
*Touchdowns to interceptions: 26 TDs, 12 INTs for Brady; 29 TDs, 20 INTs for Manning.
*Passing yards per game: 243.1 for Brady, 283.6 for Manning.
Pyro's take: What an awesome rivalry! It's been easily the best in any sport over the past 10 years. It's funny when you talk about Brady everyone always says it's Bill Belichick and the team around him it seems, but anything that comes to Manning is all Peyton's doing, like he's been throwing to slouches during his career.
Not the case.
If Brady pulls it out on Sunday and bring the head-to-head record to 11-4 - it'll be devastating to Manning's legacy. If Brady then goes on to win a Super Bowl, it cements Tom as the best QB ever in my books. If that happens it will be a total mindfuck to Mr. Omaha Steaks. Now if Peyton wins his next 2 games it's enormous for his legacy, he needs that second ring pretty bad.
Edelman looking to prove Broncos safety Mike Adams wrong
New England Patriots safety Steve Gregory has his teammate’s back.
Denver Broncos safety Mike Adams said Monday that Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman doesn’t have Broncos wideout Wes Welker‘s “ability or quickness” and that he’s a “one-speed guy.”
Gregory disagrees with Adams’ assessment.
“I think Julian has all types of speeds,” Gregory told MassLive.com. “Julian’s just like … he’s a heck of a football player. You’ve seen his production that he’s had this year.
“His quickness, his top-end speed, his ability to go deep, his ability to go short, screen plays. He can do a lot at his position. The other thing with Julian is that he’s a tough guy as well. He’s a football player before he’s a receiver, and you see that with a lot of things he does out on the field on Sundays.”
Edelman has done a nice job replacing Welker this season. The fifth-year pro had 105 catches for 1,056 yards and six touchdowns. Edelman will go against Adams on Sunday in the AFC Championship Game.
Pyro's take: I am surprised that Adams wants to come out and talk smack about Edelman. In their last meeting he only had nine catches for 110 yards and two touchdowns.
The Broncos secondary has not been great this season, and if the Patriots are able to establish a running game Edelman and his fellow receivers could benefit by the play-action pass. Julian is the number one option in the passing game for Tom Brady, and his ability to get open in the slot should provide nice stats when it is all said and done.
01/15/14, 08:10 PM CST by Houdini
If it’s true that jinxes only work if you believe in them, New England Patriots running back LeGarrette Blount should be in no danger of suffering from the “Sports Illustrated cover jinx.”
Blount appears on the cover of this week’s edition of the sports magazine, sparking fear that he might experience bad luck Sunday in the Patriots’ AFC Championship Game against the Denver Broncos as a result. Never mind the fact that Broncos receiver Wes Welker also appears on an alternate version of this week’s cover — Blount isn’t worried about the “jinx” anyway.
“Nah, I don’t believe in jinxes,” Blount told reporters Wednesday.
Blount said he hasn’t actually seen the cover in person, but he’s gotten text messages with photos of it.
Blount has been on a tear the last few weeks, emerging as the team’s starter after being benched for fumbling in Week 12, also against the Broncos. Blount had 24 carries for 166 yards and four touchdowns during the Patriots’ win over the Indianapolis Colts in Saturday night’s AFC divisional playoff game.
Pyro's take: Blount was the man against the Colts, and will look to carry that momentum into the AFC CHampionship game. There i no doubt that the Patriots are going to use the run to set up the pass this week, and Blount is that blunt tool they favor most right now.
The Broncos defense is not that strong against the run, and without Von Miller Blount has a chance to get to the second level in this game. If that happens, his size and aggressiveness could lead to some big runs.
01/15/14, 08:03 PM CST by Houdini
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.