NFC East: What you need to know

NFC East: What you need to know

New York Giants (9-7, 394 Points For, won Super Bowl): Eli Manning's pass attempts have risen for three straight years and he's coming off an 8.4 YPA, best of his career. Forget balance in New York, this is Manning's team now, a pass-first scheme. Hakeem Nicks is recovering quickly from his foot injury - don't worry about picking him in the Top 3-4 rounds - and Victor Cruz looks capable of playing outside the formation as well as he does in the slot. Running back Ahmad Bradshaw is one of the toughest backs in the league, but the laundry list of injuries will take a tax eventually. The Giants selected RB David Wilson in the first round, looking to give Bradshaw a caddy. Holdover D.J. Ware has some skills, too. Bottom line, when you look at Big Blue for fantasy purposes, focus on the passing game. Manning, Nicks and Cruz have been surprisingly affordable in most standard leagues this month.

Philadelphia Eagles (8-8, 396 PF): The Eagles looked like a sneaky breakout pick a couple of months ago, given that they won their last four games last year and don't have gigantic public pressure entering 2012. But if Michael Vick's thumb and rib injuries aren't fully healed by opening day, all bets are off. Vick only scored one rushing touchdown last year after nine the previous campaign; split the difference and you still get a nice fantasy kickback. But expecting a full season from him is a fool's errand; he's done it once in nine pro seasons. LeSean McCoy is an elite running back and worthy of a Top 3 overall pick, though his best game comes as a counter-punch to Vick (scrambling quarterbacks create wide defenses and rushing lanes). Jeremy Maclin is the receiver you want in Philly, more reliable than explosive-but-combustible DeSean Jackson.

Dallas Cowboys (8-8, 369 PF): Under most circumstances we'd be on board with Tony Romo, but everything on this offense seems to be crumbling around him. Jason Witten has a spleen injury (push him out of the Top 10 at tight end), Miles Austin's hamstrings are barking, and Dez Bryant has been a high-maintenance act his entire career. The Dallas offensive line also looks like a hot mess, which limits the buzz for second-year back DeMarco Murray. The Pokes have finally moved on from Felix Jones; he's a secondary piece at most, and isn't even guaranteed to make the team. The Cowboys fantasy defense has some sleeper value, given the presence of sack-master DeMarco Ware.

Washington Redskins (5-11, 288 PF): Ah, the poor Redskins. Even when they do something right, it turns into a rocky road. Rookie quarterback Robert Griffin certainly appears ready to play right away, though Kirk Cousins is also showing a strong camp and has his supporters as well. The money invested in Griffin will secure him the gig, and it's the right choice; don't look for a Cam Newton breakout, but he can be a Top 12-15 fantasy QB right away. The receiving group is surprisingly deep, with Pierre Garcon coming over to team with experienced Santana Moss and intriguing Leonard Hankerson. Tight end Fred Davis is an intermediate threat as well. But forget the backfield, where Mike Shanahan can't be trusted (and several options loom). Roy Helu still looks like the best talent of the lot, but the club seems taken by Evan Royster right now, and Alfred Morris and Tim Hightower complicate the situation.

In latest comeback bid, Ravens TE Dennis Pitta's confidence not a problem

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In latest comeback bid, Ravens TE Dennis Pitta's confidence not a problem

Not everyone close to Dennis Pitta was immediately sold on his second NFL comeback attempt. Will his twice-fractured hip hold up? How much is Pitta risking his long-term health?

Pitta has pondered those questions for months. But after the first week of OTA’s, the Ravens’ 30-year-old tight end remained confident he had made the right decision.

“I had to convince a few people, and I’m thankful for those who have been in my corner all along and had my best interests in mind,” Pitta said. “Like I’ve said before, I know my situation better than anyone else, and I’m confident in the decision I made to come back, and certainly there were people who wanted to make sure that I was confident in that decision. I have a great support team behind me, and we all feel good about this move.”

Pitta first fractured his hip during training camp in 2013, then again on a non-contact play against the Browns in 2014. However, Pitta says he doesn’t think about his right hip when he’s on the field. He’s also not lowering his expectations, despite not playing at all in 2015, and not playing a full season since 2012.

Pitta was one of quarterback Joe Flacco’s favorite targets, catching 61 passes for 669 yards during the 2012 regular season, then adding 14 catches for 163 yards and three touchdowns during the Ravens’ playoff run to a Super Bowl title.

Asked if he could return that level of play, Pitta suggested, “Why not?”

“No, my expectations haven’t changed from four years ago, to two years ago, to now,” Pitta said. “My level of expectation is extremely high going into this year. Like I said, I feel confident in how I can run, how I can move, how I can play and it’s just a matter of getting those reps back to where I’m confident in doing all of that. So, yes, expectations personally are very high.”

Pitta obviously wasn’t ready to end his career. If he is on the 53-man roster Week 1, it will be a terrific comeback story.

Orioles turn to hot Chris Tillman for positive end to road trip

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Orioles turn to hot Chris Tillman for positive end to road trip

Today's Game: Baltimore Orioles (27-20) vs. Cleveland Indians (26-21), Progressive Field, Cleveland, 1:10 p.m.

Starting pitchers: Chris Tillman (6-1, 2.61) vs. Mike Clevinger (0-1, 8.71)

Keys to the Game: 

Can Tillman keep his string of quality starts going? He has seven straight. 

Can the Orioles shake off their sloppiness? They made four errors and allowed five stolen bases in Saturday's loss. 

News and Notes:

The Orioles are 3-5 on their nine-game road trip.

Tillman is 4-2 with a 3.89 ERA in seven starts against Cleveland. 

Current Indians are batting .226 against Tillman. 

Matt Wieters is batting .441 (15-for-34) over his last eight games. 

The Orioles have allowed 10 or more runs in three games, all started by Ubaldo Jimenez.

Clevinger has started just twice in the major leagues, and given up three home runs in 10 1/3 innings. 

Caps prospect Madison Bowey escapes discipline for Game 4 actions

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Caps prospect Madison Bowey escapes discipline for Game 4 actions

Capitals prospect Madison Bowey will not face further discipline after he was investigated for using a homophobic slur in Game 4 of the Calder Cup Eastern Conference Finals on Friday.

In a series in which everything has been going right for the Hershey Bears, something went very wrong on Friday in Game 4 against the Toronto Marlies. Not only did Toronto win 5-0 to avoid a sweep, but Bowey was ejected from the game in the third period after a high elbow delivered to Toronto forward Kasperi Kapanen.

There's no doubt about that one. Bowey comes in with his elbow high and nails Kapanen right in the head. The defenseman was assessed a five minute major and game misconduct for the hit.

It is not the hit that has garnered so much attention, however, but what happened afterwards.

Kapanen was slow to get up following the play, but was eventually able to stand under his own power. He and Bowey then began exchanging words. At one point, Bowey was caught on tape using what appeared to many to be a homophobic slur.

You can watch the video here.

There was no audio to the video, but that was enough for Toronto to puruse further discipline for Bowey.

Bowey, however, was cleared by the AHL on Friday and will not be suspended for what he may or may not have said.

In the video, a linesman is skating with Bowey at the point in question. It seems likely that the linesman would have heard whatever Bowey may have said which would make for a simple AHL investigation.

There is precedent for supplemental discipline in matters such as these from the NHL. Andrew Shaw of the Chicago Blackhawks was suspended one game and order to undergo sensitivity training after using a homophobic slur in Game 4 of Chicago's series against the St. Louis Blues.

Though the initial report by Rob Longley indicates the AHL was still reviewing the hit, with Game 5 set for Sunday afternoon at 3 p.m., it seems unlikely at this point that the league will issue any last minute suspension.

Kapanen is reportedly day-to-day after receiving the hit. Hershey leads the series 3-1 and will advance to the Calder Cup Finals with a win on Sunday to face the Lake Erie Monsters.

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