IT'S THE obvious answer, but Chip Kelly put it perfectly.

The Patriots - despite losing Dion Lewis, Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola and now Rob Gronkowski - continue to hum along. They scored 24 points last weekend on the road in the snow against a solid Denver defense without a receiver or a running back reaching 100 yards.

How do they manage such efficiency, despite losing all those weapons?

"Did they lose Brady?" Kelly asked jokingly.

They did not, which is the primary reason New England averages 31.5 points per game. Only Arizona (32.3) averages more.

Tom Brady continues to deflate defenses at an almost amusing rate. He has 28 touchdowns, 3,600 yards passing and four interceptions in 451 pass attempts. 451!

Mark Sanchez has four interceptions in 91 attempts.

"For them, it's that next-man-up mentality, and it really helps when (Brady's) the guy pulling the trigger," Kelly said. "Because he really is an orchestra leader out there, in terms of directing protections, changing routes and changing everything. He's been in that offense since he's been in the league, so he's got an unbelievable command of it."

Next-man-up is one of the more tiresome clichés in the NFL, especially when the man who goes down is Gronkowski and the one getting more responsibility is Scott Chandler.

Chandler bounced around on practice squads for a few years before latching on with Buffalo, where he had a pair of seasons with six touchdowns and three with 70 or more catches. Not bad, but from a fantasy standpoint, far from relevant.

Until this week.

Because of injuries elsewhere, the Patriots featured Chandler throughout the game against the Broncos enough that he tied a career high with 11 targets. Brady threw nine passes after Gronkowski went out with a right knee injury. Two of his four completions went to Chandler, including a 22-yarder that started the drive that tied the game at the end of regulation.

"We will need to rely on him quite a bit," Brady said after the loss to Denver. "He is going to be a major contributor for our team."

That is absolute music to the ears of the thousands of fantasy fans who scooped up Chandler this week. Not only did Gronkowski get hurt, but so too did Jimmy Graham and Heath Miller.

"I think if you sit there and dwell on (all of our injuries), it might be overwhelming," said Chandler, who signed with the Patriots in the offseason. "But we can't do that."

Contest of the week

Guess Tom Brady's passing yardage Sunday.

The reader who comes closest to projecting the number of yards Brady gets against the Eagles will win a swell Daily News fantasy football T-shirt. In case of tie, one winner will be chosen randomly.

The Eagles give up about 214 yards passing per game, which is very respectable. The 337 they gave up to Matthew Stafford on Thanksgiving was a season high. Yardage isn't the Eagles' problem. The 25 TD passes they've given up is. Only New Orleans (30) has allowed more.

Anyway, send guesses to by 4 o'clock Sunday. One entry per customer, please.

Position watch

Quarterback: Ben Roethlisberger (concussion) practiced fully Thursday . . . In his two starts, Brock Osweiler has targeted Demaryius Thomas 21 times. He's completed four of them. Ten of Owen Daniels' 33 receptions have come from Osweiler.

Running back: The Bears have given up only three rushing touchdowns all season, but have allowed 305 yards to RBs over the last two games. San Fran's Shaun Draughn is a low-end RB2, especially in PPR leagues. He has 17 receptions on 21 targets over the last three . . . Devonta Freeman (concussion) put in a full practice on Thursday. The Falcons are at Tampa Bay, which has the 12th-ranked run defense after allowing only 30 yards to Indy last week and 40 two weeks ago to Dallas.

Wide receiver: Danny Amendola was limited in practice Thursday, but is trending upward . . . Jarvis Landry is a midlevel WR1 against Baltimore. The Ravens have given up multiple TD passes to opposing WRs in five of the previous six.

Tight end: There are no appealing TE options in Seattle, now that Jimmy Graham (knee) is gone for the season. Wide receiver Doug Baldwin, however, becomes more attractive. He had a monster game last week (6-145-3) and has been targeted 24 times over the last three games . . . Tyler Eifert (neck) and Heath Miller (ribs) did not practice Thursday.

Week 13 rankings


1. Tom Brady, Patriots: vs. Phi.

2. Cam Newton, Panthers: at NO

3. Andy Dalton, Bengals: at Cle.

4. Carson Palmer, Cardinals: at Stl.

5. Blake Bortles, Jaguars: at Ten.

6. Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers: vs. Ind.

7. Matthew Stafford, Lions: vs. GB

8. Derek Carr, Raiders: vs. KC

9. Ryan Fitzpatrick, Jets: at NYG

10. Aaron Rodgers, Packers: at Det.

11. Russell Wilson, Seahawks: at Min.

12. Drew Brees, Saints: vs. Car.

Running backs

1. Adrian Peterson, Vikings: vs. Sea.

2. Jonathan Stewart, Panthers: at NO

3. DeAngelo Williams, Steelers: vs. Ind.

4. Devonta Freeman, Falcons: at TB

5. Doug Martin, Buccaneers: vs. Atl.

6. LeSean McCoy, Bills: vs. Hou.

7. Eddie Lacy, Packers: at Det.

8. Thomas Rawls, Seahawks: at Min.

9. Todd Gurley, Rams: vs. Ar.

10. David Johnson, Cardinals: at Stl.

11. C.J. Anderson, Broncos: at Oak.

12. Buck Allen, Ravens: at Mia.

13. LeGarrette Blount, Patriots: vs. Phi.

14. Chris Ivory, Jets: at NYG

15. Matt Forte, Bears: vs. SF

16. DeMarco Murray, Eagles: at NE

17. T.J. Yeldon, Jaguars: at Ten.

18. Mark Ingram, Saints: vs. Car.

19. Charcandrick West, Chiefs: at Oak.

20. Shaun Draughn, 49ers: at Chi.

Wide receivers

1. Antonio Brown, Steelers: vs. Ind.

2. DeAndre Hopkins, Texans: at Buf.

3. Odell Beckham, Jr., Giants: vs. NYJ

4. Julio Jones, Falcons: at TB

5. Calvin Johnson, Lions: vs. GB

6. A.J. Green, Bengals: at Cle.

7. Brandon Marshall, Jets: vs. NYG

8. Mike Evans, Buccaneers: vs. Atl.

9. Emmanuel Sanders, Broncos: at SD

10. Danny Amendola, Patriots: vs. Phi.

11. Demaryius Thomas, Broncos: at SD

12. T.Y. Hilton, Colts: at Pit.

13. Amari Cooper, Raiders: vs. KC

14. Alshon Jeffery, Bears: vs. SF

15. Allen Robinson, Jaguars: at Ten.

16. Jeremy Maclin, Chiefs: at Oak.

17. Martavis Bryant, Steelers: vs. Ind.

18. Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals: at Stl.

19. DeSean Jackson, Redskins: vs. Dal.

20. Sammy Watkins, Bills: vs. Hou.

Tight ends

1. Greg Olsen, Panthers: vs. NO

2. Travis Kelce, Chiefs: at Oak.

3. Gary Barnidge, Browns: vs. Cin.

4. Martellus Bennett, Bears: vs. SF

5. Scott Chandler, Patriots: vs. Phi.

6. Ben Watson, Saints: vs. Car.

7. Delanie Walker, Titans: vs. Jac.

8. Antonio Gates, Chargers: vs. Den.

9. Julius Thomas, Jaguars: at Ten.

10. Owen Daniels, Broncos: at SD

Added/dropped (in leagues run run by


1. Scott Chandler, TE, Patriots

2. David Johnson, RB, Cardinals

3. Shaun Draughn, RB, 49ers

4. Doug Baldwin, WR, Seahawks

5. Julius Thomas, TE, Jaguars


1. Tony Romo, QB, Cowboys

2. Jimmy Graham, TE, Saints

3. Chris Johnson, RB, Cardinals

4. Justin Forsett, RB, Ravens

5. Matt Bryant, K, Falcons