Rex Ryan will coach Jets in 2014

Rex Ryan is staying in New York.

Jets owner Woody Johnson told reporters Sunday that Ryan would be back for the 2014 season after New York’s 20-7 win over the Miami Dolphins, the team’s website confirmed.

“We’re going to keep Rex Ryan and he’s going to be our coach next year,” Johnson said via multiple reporters. “I couldn’t be any prouder of this team.”

It’s a major victory for Ryan, who coached the Jets to an 8-8 finish amid constant speculation about his job status. Ryan has one year remaining on his current contract.

Ryan, in his fifth season, did some of his best work running New York’s defense and making the most of an offense led by rookie quarterback Geno Smith. A youthful defensive line led by Muhammad Wilkerson and rookie Sheldon Richardson will be difficult to handle for years to come. Rex will continue to be the coach guiding them.

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Is a potential RB1 suddenly available on waivers?

Who? Those of you wondering why the Browns named Chris Ogbannaya the starter against Chicago, but hardly gave him the ball aren’t alone. Edwin Baker was signed off the practice squad and had six carries for 38 yards and a touchdown against the Bears. If you’re a risk-taker by heart, he should be available in a high number of leagues heading into Week 16. If this was Week 5, I’d say pick him up, then if it doesn’t work out, we’d crack a joke about it and move on. But many of you are playing in your fantasy Super Bowls. Do you really want to take that kind of risk?

Same old, same old: Stop us if you’ve heard this before (as in, every single week). Packers coach Mike McCarthy said he’s “game-planning right now for Matt Flynn” to be the team’s Week 16 starter. Well, then. Flynn seems to be either a terrific or horrific player on a given week without much in between. I find it really, really difficult to believe he’ll duplicate his Week 15 performance at home against the Steelers this Sunday. The only reason this is newsworthy is if Aaron Rodgers is able to return, his owners have a major decision to make.

Too little, too late: Raiders coach Dennis Allen said he expects Darren McFadden to resume practicing on Wednesday. Great. Run DMC owners have gotten by without him up to this point, so this news shouldn’t alter your plans one way or another. Rashad Jennings has already claimed the top spot in Oakland’s RB pecking order. In fact, if you own McFadden by this point and want to play dirty, you can dump him on the waiver wire and hope someone else in your league picks him up — thereby wasting a roster spot of his own and also releasing a player off their roster who may be a decent pickup.

A closer look at Week 11 waiver targets

Fantasy playoffs are right around the corner — can you believe it? Now may be the most critical time of the fantasy to make sure you’re maximizing the talent on your roster. The Fantasy Live crew takes a look at their picks for some of the top waiver wire pickups in Week 11.

Michael Fabiano likes Andre Brown’s potential — a lot. Who wouldn’t after such a dominant performance against the Raiders? However, one major concern exists for Brown owners the rest of the season. What is it? Fabs also says he likes what Packers WR Jarrett Boykin can bring to the table, regardless of who the Packers have under center. But Jarrett Boykin’s fantasy value is higher in certain formats than others. Which scoring format does he best fit?

Akbar Gbaja-Biamila offers some insight into Alshon Jeffery’s recent surge in production and why it’s safe to assume his success is likely to continue. Heading west,  Gbaja-Biamila looks at what Golden Tate owners need to do now that Percy Harvin is set to return. Is it panic time, or business as usual?

Tune in and don’t find yourself unprepared for the home stretch of the fantasy season.

That Helps No One Week 9: Darrel Young

This has escalated from a half-hearted weekly joke to full-fledged conspiracy. Mike Shanahan HATES fantasy football. Why else would he insist on constantly pulling Shanahanigans week after week? His latest masterpiece is giving Darrel Young not one, but two goal-line touchdowns  on Sunday [edit: Young tacked on his THIRD touchdown as the Redskins won in overtime], ruining what could have been another spectacular day for Alfred Morris. This coming two weeks after Shanahan let Roy Helu score three times against the Chicago Bears. So many facepalms were heard around the world as Scott plunged into the endzone for the second time.

We’re on our knees begging Mike week after week. Stop pulling Shanahanigans. He had Pierre Garcon, Jordan Reed and his workhorse Freddy Morris all ready and waiting for their number to be called. Fantasy owners across the country sat on their couches with bated breath… the fate of their fantasy week held delicately in Shanahan’s devious little hands. Oh, those poor fantasy souls. They should have known their fates were sealed the minute they put any shred of trust in Mike Shanahan. It’s a lesson the fantasy world knows all to well, yet must suffer through year after year. It’s the equivalent of a quantum physics class you have to take every year — even when you’re out of school!

So, before the early games were even over we already knew who was going to be the Week 9 “That Helps No One” winner. It came as no surprise that it was a Redskins running back NOT named Alfred Morris. The only surprise was that Shanahan still had a different name buried on the depth chart to use to ruin the Sundays of countless fantasy players. Kudos, Shanahan. You’ve done it to us all again.

- Follow Alex on Twitter @AlexGelhar

Which QBs have the toughest remaining schedules?

Fantasy football winners are experts at playing the matchup game. Michael Fabiano and Jason Smith examine the quarterbacks who have the toughest remaining schedules for the second half of the season.

Andrew Luck tops the list. Does that mean you should look to limit him to spot starts — or maybe even bench him altogether? Michael Fabiano takes a closer look.

Tom Brady owners have suffered through some shockingly poor performances in recent weeks, and they will be less than thrilled to learn the disappointing QB finds himself ranked in the top 10 of this list. Is it time to dump him altogether?

Can Colin Kaepernick’s style of play help him overcome the tough obstacles that lay ahead? Watch and find out!

John Harbaugh, Ravens agree to four-year contract extension

Coach John Harbaugh is armed with even more job security as the Baltimore Ravens kickoff the 2013 NFL season at the Denver Broncos Thursday night.

The Ravens and Harbaugh have agreed to a four-year contract extension, a source informed of the deal tells NFL Media Insider’s Ian Rapoport. The new contract will pay Harbaugh nearly $7 million per year through 2016, according to Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio.

The contract extension signed by Harbaugh in February of 2011 was due to expire after the 2014 season.

In five years with the Ravens, Harbaugh has compiled an impressive 54-26 regular-season record with three AFC North titles and last season’s Lombardi Trophy. He’s won at least one playoff game every year since taking over as a worthy successor to Brian Billick. Perhaps most impressively, he’s kept the franchise afloat as one of the NFL’s most stable while steering the transition from a defense-first team to a well-rounded annual contender.

Harbaugh’s new contract places him among the league’s highest-paid, along with Sean Payton of the Saints, Bill Belichick of the Patriots and Andy Reid of the Chiefs. Now that he’s mentioned in the same breath as that heady company, it’s only fair to receive a pay raise and long-term commitment from owner Steve Bisciotti.

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Brady leaves practice after injuring knee

The Patriots were practicing against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in preparation for their upcoming preseason meeting, and Tom Brady limped off the field after suffering an injury to his knee. It is the same knee in which a torn ACL cost him the entire 2008 season.

Albert Breer is reporting the following:

Tests showed he had no structural damage, and that the previous reconstruction wasn’t compromised in any way. The Clean MRI = No significant ligament damage.
He’ll have more scans tonight, and be reevaluated tomorrow as well, per sources.

Doctors fear Chargers LB Ingram suffered torn ACL

San Diego Chargers doctors fear pass rusher Melvin Ingram suffered a torn anterior cruciate during the Chargers organized team activities this week, NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport reported Tuesday on “NFL Total Access.”

Ingram was selected 18th overall by the Chargers during the 2012 NFL Draft, and he finished his rookie year with 16 tackles and one sack.

Lawrence Okoye impresses at NFL Super Regional Combine


I attended the NFL Super Regional Combine at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, on Sunday and out of the more than 100 athletes who worked out, to my eye, Lawrence Okoye of England stood out the most. Of the guys there, he seemed to be the class of the defensive linemen.

The Super Regional Combine will be held on Sunday and Monday, with 219 players selected from the nine previous Regional Combines participating. These are players with no college eligibility left, some former NFL players and some aspiring NFL players who weren’t invited to the NFL Scouting Combine. Half of the 219 invited worked out Sunday, the rest will work out the following day. It was amazing to see how good many of the players looked, albeit while only in shorts and shirts.

Lawrence Okoye, DE (6-foot-5 3/8, 304 pounds)An Olympic discus thrower, Okoye reportedly turned down an offer to attend Oxford University to try out for the NFL. He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.88 and 4.78 seconds. He performed the short shuttle in 4.38 seconds, had a 10-foot-5 broad jump and a 35-inch vertical jump. His arms were measured to be 35 inches long.

It looked like from the group that worked out Sunday, about half will be given the opportunity to sign with a team as a free agent and attend training camp. Okoye looked like he could be drafted. He was unbelievably active and incredibly explosive in drills. It was a real, first-class show.

The guy right behind him is Louis Nzegwu. He was in the draft last year and went to training camp with a team. He’s a guy that could be signed immediately. Another DL to keep an eye on is Gerald Rivers of Ole Miss.

Burger chain Red Robin has ‘golden offer’ for Kaepernick

After seeing a recent article in the New York Daily News that described gourmet burger chain Red Robin as “a favorite haunt” of Colin Kaepernick,  the restaurant decided to return the love.

Red Robin took out a full page ad in Thursday’s San Francisco Chronicle newspaper, where CEO Steve Carley addressed a letter to the San Francisco 49ers quarterback. If the Niners win Super Bowl XLVII on Sunday, Red Robin will give Kaepernick free food for life.

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And fans are invited to get in on this “golden offer” as well.  All Red Robin restaurants in the San Francisco area will offer a buy one, get one free Tavern Double Burger on the Tuesday after the big game.

Red Robin says it’s just one additional incentive for Kaepernick to lead his team to victory.  (Could an endorsement deal be on the way next?)

The Rewind: The Calm Before Super Bowl Week

One more week until Super Bowl 47.  Ravens and the 49ers. Going to be a legendary match-up taking place in the Big Easy.  We’ve got you covered with our Casual Fan’s Guide to the Super Bowl.  Planning a party?  Making a meal? Don’t know who to root for?  Have no fear. See below and you”ll be totally prepared.

It’s not as delicious as a po’boy sandwich, but we’ve got tasty content below:

(more…)

Monday Nightmare: Mark Sanchez — miracle worker

One of my favorite episodes of “The Simpsons” is Bart’s Comet. Bart Simpson discovers a comet on a collision course with the town of Springfield. After losing all means of escape (and running out of room in Ned Flanders’ bomb shelter), the town comes to grips with its fate.

And then Homer delivers the one last bit of hope when he says, “What’s everyone so worked up about? So there’s a comet — big deal. It’ll burn up in our atmosphere and what’s ever left will be no bigger than a chihuahua’s head.”

Forgive the spoiler, but Homer is right. And everybody is scared, rightly so.

I figured I had the same chance of winning in our “NFL AM” league over the weekend as I headed into Monday night’s game behind Matt “Money” Smith by 17 points. Thanks to RG3‘s injury, Danario Alexander‘s disappearance and leaving Knowshon Moreno on the bench for Jamaal Charles, well, I didn’t deserve even that much. I joked before the game started that I only needed about five turnovers from Mark Sanchez to win the night.

The notion seemed so far-fetched, I didn’t even check my fantasy scores while I watched the game (and “Monday Night RAW”) from my usual haunt, Slice of New York in Huntington Beach. (And to be honest, I never enjoy the Monday night games because I’m feverishly checking the running totals after every play.) It wasn’t even until late in the fourth quarter when I casually mentioned to my neighbor, Mark, that it was a possibility.

After a quick peek, I was still about four points shy. With just minutes left and the Jets on the move, all hope seemed lost. Even with Sanchez at quarterback, how can you even expect such a thing? It would be like Herman Edwards and the “Miracle of the Meadowlands,” the “Music City Miracle” and the “Immaculate Reception” all rolled into one.

Now, the hyperbole might be a bit thick here considering the author is the beneficiary. But it was really cool for it to work out the way it did. My mouth was on the floor when Sanchez fumbled, and if you could read Rex Ryan‘s lips after the play, let’s just say we both said the same thing but with different inflections.

I know kids: I’m scared, too.

But this isn’t the point of the Monday Nightmare. It’s disconcerting when I actually win on Monday night. We’re here to share our tales of woe. This is one big fantasy therapy couch, and the doctor is in. So share your story. This is a safe place, you’ll feel better when you do.

For the record, you can submit your fantasy questions to NFL Fantasy Live, Michael Fabiano or me on Twitter. But realize, NFL Fantasy Live has 90,000 followers, and Fabiano has nearly 100k. Me? Just four. See, the odds are better I will answer your question, so hit me up both via Twitter or via Facebook (oh wait, I told you to stop going to Facebook). Go instead to Google+. Also be sure to catch the latest “Dave Dameshek Football Program.”

NFL fantasy football: Percy Harvin placed on IR

The season is over for Percy Harvin. The Minnesota Vikings dynamic wide receiver hasn’t played since spraining his ankle in a Week 9 loss to the Seattle Seahawks and was placed on injured reserve Wednesday. Since then, the Vikings have used a collection of receivers —  including Jarius WrightJerome Simpson and Michael Jenkins — with average success, at best.

It’s a big blow because Harvin had played so well this season, scoring double-digit fantasy points in six of the eight full games he played this season. But since his injury, the only Viking with any fantasy value is Adrian Peterson and possibly Kyle Rudolph. Considering how poorly Christian Ponder has played for the bulk of the season, it’s hard to point to any other Minnesota skill player worth chasing.

– Marcas Grant
Follow Marcas on Twitter @MarcasG

Carolina Panthers needs to capitalize on Philadelphia Eagles’ carelessness…

The Carolina Panthers head into Philadelphia tonight to take on the Eagles in a matchup of two of the league’s most disappointing squads. Both teams were considered playoff contenders before the season, but have fallen on hard times; Carolina (2-8) are in a brutally tough NFC South and Philly dropped their last six to fall to 3-7.

Tonight’s game represents a chance for both teams to salvage something positive out of the rest of this season. The Panthers are one of the league’s most intriguing young clubs and will try to get back on the winning track so they have something to build off of for next year. The Eagles, on the other hand, will likely be undergoing a lot of changes this offseason and will get to take a look at two of their rookies that will start due to injuries. Running back Bryce Brown will start in place of LeSean McCoy and quarterback Nick Foles will start for Michael Vick.

All that being said, however, this game will be decided in the trenches and in the red zone. The Eagles are among the league’s worst red zone teams, ranking 30th in touchdown percentage (38.7 percent), and dead last with six red zone turnovers. Their struggles on the offensive line are a big reason for this. They rank 30th, averaging just 2 yards per carry once inside the 20, and have given up a league-worst seven sacks.

The Eagles’ woes this year play into the Panthers’ strengths. The Panther defense ranks eighth in the league in red zone TD percentage, allowing opponents into the end zone on just 45 percent of their chances. In addition to being stout defensively, the Panthers have also been efficient offensively inside of the 20-yard line. Carolina ranks sixth in red zone scoring, converting 61.5 percent of their opportunities into touchdowns.

Given these matchup issues, the Panthers should get the better of the floundering Eagles and potentially capitalize on Philadelphia’s consistent carelessness.

Week 12 Sunday Lookout (NFC)

Falcons @ Buccaneers

In three of the Buccaneers’  last four outings, Doug Martin has rushed for over 100 yards; this week the 25th-ranked run defense travels from Atlanta to stop this trend. That’s asking a tall order, some would say, given that the Falcons give up 130 yards a game on the ground.

Tampa Bay also has their matchup issues as well. The Falcons must use lighter packages on early downs to exploit a weakness in the Bucs’ nickel package – cornerback Leonard Johnson. He should be a guy that Matt Ryan finds at the line of scrimmage and attacks frequently.

This game will rest on the shoulders of the quarterbacks. Josh Freeman better be careful against this Falcons secondary. While they aren’t the best in-your-face man coverage corners, they play very smart off-zone coverage and take gambles at opportune times.

Winner: Tampa Bay

Vikings @ Bears

Even with Jay Cutler at quarterback, Jared Allen and the Vikings front seven should have a field day against this offensive line. The Bears offense has been extremely inconsistent all season, and the variation of looks that Minnesota gives teams now opposed to prior seasons, will benefit the Vikings.

Adrian, Adrian, Adrian, as Brian Baldinger explained on the Playbook show, Chicago doesn’t handle heavy sets well (multiple tight ends & running backs) – that is what Minnesota does. Over the last for games, when Minnesota has aligned in the I-Formation (2 RB’s) they have averaged 11 yards per carry, accumulating 540 yards out of this set alone. On the other hand, defending the I-Formation in the last four games, the Bears have given up 4.3 yards per rush. Too much AP

Winner: Minnesota

49ers @ Saints

This is an intriguing matchup. On paper, nothing adds up. New Orleans is last against the run while San Francisco is first. Let’s peel the onion a bit more; the Saints have given up 42 runs of 10+ yards while the 49ers have gained 57 runs of 10+ yards – these are drive-sustaining runs that will keep Drew Brees off the field.

We all know how great the Niners defense is in all stages of the job description, but they face the best all-around passing offense in the NFL. With the annual improvement of left tackle Jermond Bushrod, expect Aldon Smith to face some sort of resistance this week. The Saints have only given up 16 sacks this season (T-6th).  They also lead the NFL in touchdown passes (28) and are fifth in the NFL on third down (44.9%) – but San Francisco has a 32.6% conversion rate against them on third down (3rd).

Winner: San Francisco. We feel funny about this game, and it can go either way

Packers @ Giants

If there is any time for Eli Manning to wake up, the time is now. This is a wounded Packers defense ,and he better capitalize because Green Bay’s offense is no sitting duck – and they will score!  In the last five games, Aaron Rodgers has thrown 17 TD’s while Eli has only thrown two.

The one thing that goes in New York’s favor is that Green Bay cannot block their front, therefore the Giants can rush four comfortably and drop seven into coverage – giving Rodgers smaller throwing lanes. If the Giants can generate pressure like we know they can, this should force the Packers to keep eligible receivers involved in the protection, limiting how many can deploy into a route.

This is a classic set up for the Giants to explode, coming off of a bye and having two weeks to game plan for the NFL’s most deadliest passer. Tom Coughlin is too good of a coach for his team to continue to be flat after this much time to prepare.

Winner: New York

Panthers @ Eagles

The Eagles lead the NFL in red-zone giveaways with six, and are second to last in total giveaways at 24.  The Eagles have also fumbled seven times in the red zone, not losing all of them, but carelessness is our point. This is just what Carolina needs — an opportunity for the ball to bounce their way.

Winner: Carolina

Rams @ Cardinals

Arizona’s inability to run the football on offense is the key to their downhill skid after a 4-0 start to this season. It is easy to blame the quarterback situation, and that has aided their situation as well, but there has been no relief in the backfield with Beanie Wells and Ryan Williams injured.

One thing the Rams have done well all season is compete. This is a much improved football team from a year ago, and their defense will be the reason the Rams win this game. They are the better team no doubt – but do not count out defensive coordinator Ray Horton of the Cardinals to dial up exotic blitzes to breakdown the Rams’ protections and potentially force turnovers.

The Rams learn from their early loss to the Cards and get a victory.

Winner: Rams

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