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All taxonomy terms: Fantasy football rankings, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2013-positional-rankings-week-8

Week 8 was already shaping up to be a tough one for fantasy football general managers, as six teams are on bye. However, the player pool has been impacted even more following the latest rash of injuries. Either way, starting lineups are going to look quite different this week.

Baltimore, Chicago, Houston, Indianapolis, San Diego and Tennessee are all on bye, which alone represents quite a bit of talent and manpower. In addition to all of those players, Reggie Wayne and Sam Bradford are now both done for the season, while Doug Martin and Jermichael Finley were among those who didn't finish last week's game and cannot be counted on for this week and probably longer. There also are several players on bye who are either expected to miss several games (Jay Cutler) or are dealing with some sort of injury (Arian Foster).

Don't worry, there are still 24 teams in action and plenty of players to go around that can be pressed into duty to fill out your lineup. This is just one of those weeks where mining your league's waiver wire/free agent pool very likely could be the difference between victory and defeat. And if anything, you can consider this week a practice run, since six teams are on bye in Week 9 too.

Each week during the NFL season, we will rank enough players at each position to appease everyone from those in 8-team leagues to 16-team leagues, those that can start two QBs, two TEs, three RBs and four WRs. We cut out the rest, because if you're looking at who the 50th-best running back or the 17th-best kicker is for that week, you need more help than any website can give you.

2013 NFL Week 8 Fantasy Football Positional Rankings

Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends
Defense/Special Teams


Week 8 Waiver Wire

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

All touchdowns are 6 points
1 point for 25 yards passing
1 point for 10 yards rushing/receiving
Receptions are .5 points
Interceptions/fumbles are minus-2 points

0 points allowed = 12 points
1-6 points allowed = 10 points
7-13 points allowed = 8 pts
14-20 points allowed = 6 points
21-27 points allowed = 2 pts
28+ points allowed = 0 points
Safeties = 2 points
Fumbles recovered = 2 points
Interceptions = 2 points
Sacks = 1 point
Defensive/Special Teams TDs = 6 points

PATs = 1 point
39 yards and under = 3 points
40-49 yards = 4 points
50-59 yards = 5 points
60+ yards = 6 points

Fantasy Football 2013 Positional Rankings: Week 8
Post date: Thursday, October 24, 2013 - 06:30
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy football rankings, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2013-quarterback-rankings-week-8

Despite last week's loss in his Indianapolis homecoming, Peyton Manning remains atop Athlon Sports' fantasy football Week 8 quarterback rankings. Even though Denver left with an L, Manning still finished as the No. 4 scorer at his position for the week, following 386 yards passing, three touchdowns and an interception against the Colts. The Broncos will look to get back into the win column against the Redskins, who are allowing 389 yards and more than 30 points per game.

In fact, the game in Denver could feature plenty of fireworks, as the Broncos are giving up nearly 320 yards through the air and 28 points per contest. Robert Griffin III is coming off of his best game yet, including a season-high 84 yards rushing in the 45-41 home win over the Bears, so fantasy owners' patience in RG3 may really pay off come Sunday.

Otherwise, with six teams on bye, some fantasy owners may have to dig deep into their bench or on the waiver wire to find their starting signal-caller(s). Sam Bradford is not one of those options, as he tore his ACL last week and is done for the season. And if you want to take your chances with Kellen Clemens on Monday night against Seattle, you go right ahead. There is some good news on the injury front, as Michael Vick is expected to return to face the Giants after missing the past two games because of a bad hamstring. And if any owners are smiling this week it's because they get Drew Brees and Terrelle Pryor back, although the latter is facing a pretty tough matchup in the Steelers and their fourth-ranked passing defense.

Each week during the NFL season, we will rank enough players at each position to appease everyone from those in 8-team leagues to 16-team leagues, those that can start two QBs, two TEs, three RBs and four WRs. We cut out the rest, because if you're looking at who the 50th-best running back or the 17th-best kicker is for that week, you need more help than any website can give you.

2013 NFL Week 8 Fantasy Football Rankings — Quarterbacks
Teams on bye: Baltimore, Chicago, Houston, Indianapolis, San Diego, Tennessee

1Peyton ManningDENvs. WASDidn't win return to Indy, but still posted 386-3-1.
2Drew BreesNOvs. BUFBills tied for most TD passes allowed (15) in NFL.
3Aaron RodgersGBat MINRodgers getting it done despite all the injuries.
4Matthew StaffordDETvs. DALCowboys allowing second-most fantasy pts. to QBs.
5Robert Griffin IIIWASat DENPosted season-high 84 yards rushing last week.
6Cam NewtonCARat TB (Thurs.)Has completed 81 percent of his passes in last 2 G.
7Tony RomoDALat DETLions gave up 372-3-0 to Dalton last week.
8Matt RyanATLat ARISeason-best 3 TD passes last week w/o Jones, White.
9Russell WilsonSEAat STL (Mon.)Has posted 6:2 TD-to-INT ratio on road this season.
10Colin KaepernickSFvs. JAC (London)Since Week 1, his high in passing yards is 252.
11Tom BradyNEvs. MIAHas 0 TDs in 2 of last 3 games, but did get Gronk back.
12Michael VickPHIvs. NYGExpected to start after missing last two games.
13Eli ManningNYGat PHIHad first INT-free game of '13 on MNF vs. Vikings.
14Ben RoethlisbergerPITat OAKBig Ben put up 384-4-0 in his last game in Oakland.
15Terrelle PryorOAKvs. PITWill need to make plays with arm and legs vs. PIT.
16Andy DaltonCINvs. NYJAveraging 350+ yards and 3 TDs over last 2 games.
17Alex SmithKCvs. CLEBrowns seventh in the league in passing defense.
18Carson PalmerARIvs. ATLCan Palmer do damage against Falcons' pass D?
19Ryan TannehillMIAat NEPatriots have allowed 236+ yards passing just once.
20Geno SmithNYJat CINOther than Week 5 vs. ATL, road stats have not been good.
21Mike GlennonTBvs. CAR (Thurs.)Panthers D toughest test yet for rookie starter.
22Chad HenneJACvs. SF (London)Has 300+ yards in each of last 2 G, but 0 TDs, 3 INTs.
23Josh FreemanMINvs. GBSuffered concussion last week, Ponder will go if he can't.
24Thad LewisBUFat NOPlayed through foot injury last week in win in Miami.
25Jason CampbellCLEat KCCampbell gets first start w/ Browns vs. KC pass rush.
26Kellen ClemensSTLvs. SEA (Mon.)First start in place of Bradford vs. Seahawks? Good luck.

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

All touchdowns are 6 points
1 point for 25 yards passing
1 point for 10 yards rushing/receiving
Receptions are .5 points
Interceptions/fumbles are minus-2 points

Additional Week 8 Positional Rankings

Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends
Defense/Special Teams


Week 8 Waiver Wire

Fantasy Football 2013 Quarterback Rankings: Week 8
Post date: Thursday, October 24, 2013 - 06:30
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy football rankings, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2013-running-back-rankings-week-8

Frank Gore is not No. 1 on Athlon Sports' fantasy football Week 8 running back rankings, but he is solidly in the top 10. Gore is fourth in the league in rushing with 547 yards and had two touchdowns last week against Tennessee. The 49ers are in London this week to face a Jacksonville team that is giving up more than 150 yards on the ground per game.

Jamaal Charles gets the nod for the top spot this week because not only is he the top fantasy scorer at his position, he has been remarkably consistent. Charles is averaging 128 total yards per game this season and has yet to post fewer than 100 in any one contest. He has four rushing touchdowns over his last three games, and while Cleveland is a top-10 rushing defense, Charles' versatility makes him hard to contain and pretty much a safe bet for 100+ total yards and between 15-20 fantasy points each week.

Marshawn Lynch also has been pretty reliable lately, averaging more than 20 fantasy points over his last four games. He gets the Monday night spotlight against a Rams team that was already struggling to score points and now is starting its backup quarterback (Kellen Clemens). Lynch could be in for another 20-point outing. Someone who could use a nice game is Adrian Peterson. The reigning MVP has just 90 yards rushing in his last two games combined, as the Vikings have started three different quarterbacks through six games. Peterson enjoyed a bunch of success last season against Green Bay, gaining 508 yards on the ground in three games, but the Packers are third in the league right now in rushing defense (79 ypg). Peterson will more than likely earn every yard he gets on Sunday.

Each week during the NFL season, we will rank enough players at each position to appease everyone from those in 8-team leagues to 16-team leagues, those that can start two QBs, two TEs, three RBs and four WRs. We cut out the rest, because if you're looking at who the 50th-best running back or the 17th-best kicker is for that week, you need more help than any website can give you.

2013 NFL Week 8 Fantasy Football Rankings — Running Back
Teams on bye: Baltimore, Chicago, Houston, Indianapolis, San Diego, Tennessee

1Jamaal CharlesKCvs. CLECan pretty much put him down for 100+ total yards.
2Marshawn LynchSEAat STL (Mon.)Averaging 92 yards w/ 4 TDs over last 4 games.
3LeSean McCoyPHIvs. NYGHas gone over 100 yards rushing once in last 4 G.
4Knowshon MorenoDENvs. WASRedskins allowing second-most fantasy pts. to RBs.
5Adrian PetersonMINvs. GBRushed for 508 yards in 3 G vs. Packers last season.
6Frank GoreSFvs. JAC (London)Jaguars allowing 150+ yards rushing per game.
7Reggie BushDETvs. DALCowboys have given up just 3 rushing TDs.
8Eddie LacyGBat MINExpect 20+ carries w/ WR/TE injuries.
9Alfred MorrisWASat DENStill 'Skins' lead back, averaging 5.3 ypc.
10Stevan RidleyNEvs. MIAReasserting himself as Patriots' lead back.
11Le'Veon BellPITat OAKAveraged nearly 5 yards per carry vs. Ravens.
12Fred JacksonBUFat NOAggravated knee injury last week vs. Bengals.
13Darren SprolesNOvs. BUFBills allowing 124 rushing ypg, but only 2 TDs.
14Darren McFaddenOAKvs. PITHopefully bye week allowed hamstring to fully heal.
15Giovani BernardCINvs. NYJMore total touches (12) than BJGE (10) last week.
16DeAngelo WilliamsCARat TB (Thurs.)Bucs ranked third in rushing defense.
17Joseph RandleDALat DETRushed for 65 yards in first career start last week.
18Zac StacySTLvs. SEA (Mon.)Could be in line for even more carries post-Bradford.
19Maurice Jones-DrewJACvs. SF (London)49ers have yet to allow a 100-yard rusher.
20C.J. SpillerBUFat NOAnkle an issue? Season-low 7 total yards vs. CIN.
21Chris IvoryNYJat CINTook over for Powell, finished with 34 att., 104 yds.
22Lamar MillerMIAat NESaw only 9 carries compared to 12 for Thomas.
23Mike JamesTBvs. CAR (Thurs.)Set to make 1st career start in place of Martin (shoulder).
24Jacquizz RodgersATLat ARIOnly 16 rushing yards, but 2 TD rec. vs. Bucs.
25Pierre ThomasNOvs. BUF 
26BenJarvus Green-EllisCINvs. NYJOnly useful in fantasy if he scores a TD.
27Rashard MendenhallARIvs. ATLJust 22 yards rushing last week, but he did score.
28Andre EllingtonARIvs. ATLLooking to bounce back after 5 touches vs. SEA.
29Steven JacksonATLat ARIMay finally be back in action this week.
30Roy HeluWASat DENScored 3 rushing TDs on 11 carries last week.
31Willis McGaheeCLEat KCChiefs have given up just two rushing TDs.
32Brandon JacobsNYGat PHIDid not play last week because of hamstring.
33Bilal PowellNYJat CINGot only 3 carries vs. NE, while Ivory had 34.
34Joique BellDETvs. DALPlaying with bruised ribs, seeing fewer touches.
35Peyton HillisNYGat PHIPicked up 36 yards, TD on MNF in Jacobs' absence.
36Mike TolbertCARat TB (Thurs.)Has rushing TD in each of last two games.
37Brandon BoldenNEvs. MIAScored rushing TD among 8 carries vs. Jets.
38Daniel ThomasMIAat NENearly doubled rushing total last week w/ 60 yards.
39Ronnie HillmanDENvs. WASCostly fumble vs. Colts may mean fewer opps.
40Tashard ChoiceBUFat NOJackson and Spiller are both banged up.
41Lance DunbarDALat DETRandle not guaranteed starter's workload.
42Marcel ReeceOAKvs. PIT 
43Kendall HunterSFvs. JAC (London) 
44Jason SnellingATLat ARIRodgers getting majority of touches.
45Chris OgbonnayaCLEat KCNeeds consistent touches to have any real value.
46Bryce BrownPHIvs. NYG 
47Johnathan FranklinGBat MINRole could expand given all of the WR/TE injuries.
48Daryl RichardsonSTLvs. SEA (Mon.)Stacy clearly the workhorse for Rams now.

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

All touchdowns are 6 points
1 point for 25 yards passing
1 point for 10 yards rushing/receiving
Receptions are .5 points
Interceptions/fumbles are minus-2 points

Additional Week 8 Positional Rankings

Wide Receivers
Tight Ends
Defense/Special Teams


Week 8 Waiver Wire

Fantasy Football 2013 Running Back Rankings: Week 8
Post date: Thursday, October 24, 2013 - 06:30
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy football rankings, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2013-wide-receiver-rankings-week-8

It didn't take long for Calvin Johnson to reclaim his spot atop Athlon Sports' fantasy football Week 8 wide receiver rankings. Following two atypical games while Johnson was limited by a sore knee, Megatron returned with a vengeance last week against Cincinnati. The All-Pro hauled in nine passes for 155 yards and two scores, one of them a highlight-reel 50-yarder in the end zone despite being surrounded by three Bengal defenders. The knee is still impacting his practice time, but you pretty much have to take your chances with Johnson, especially in a week with six teams on bye.

The matchup between Detroit and Dallas on Sunday should be extremely entertaining, if for no other reason the Johnson vs. Dez Bryant pairing. Bryant has already stated his case, at least to the media, as to why he's just as good, if not better, than Johnson. Now he'll get a chance to show it on the field with No. 81 watching. Either way, both wideouts should pay big dividends for their fantasy owners this week.

Another game that should result in solid fantasy numbers for WRs is Washington vs. Denver. Both quarterbacks like to air it out and both defenses have been giving up a lot of yards and points, which is why Demaryius Thomas, Wes Welker, Pierre Garcon and Eric Decker are all among the top 11 options. A couple of other wideouts who took full advantage of additional playing time last week because of injuries were Atlanta's Harry Douglas and Green Bay's Jarrett Boykins. Both are ranked in the top 25 this week and should provide decent enough production to remain legitimate WR2/WR3 options for the immediate future.

Each week during the NFL season, we will rank enough players at each position to appease everyone from those in 8-team leagues to 16-team leagues, those that can start two QBs, two TEs, three RBs and four WRs. We cut out the rest, because if you're looking at who the 50th-best running back or the 17th-best kicker is for that week, you need more help than any website can give you.

2013 NFL Week 8 Fantasy Football Rankings — Wide Receivers
Teams on bye: Baltimore, Chicago, Houston, Indianapolis, San Diego, Tennessee

1Calvin JohnsonDETvs. DALBack in form (9-155-2) last week vs. Bengals.
2Dez BryantDALat DETReady to go mano a mano w/ Megatron.
3A.J. GreenCINvs. NYJHas posted back-to-back 100-yard games w/ TD.
4Demaryius ThomasDENvs. WASTD pass vs. Colts was first since Week 4.
5Jordy NelsonGBat MINHas a TD catch in each of last two games.
6Wes WelkerDENvs. WASNo 100-yard games, but 8 TD catches.
7Vincent JacksonTBvs. CAR (Thurs.)Saw 22 targets vs. ATL, turned them into 10-138-2.
8Victor CruzNYGat PHIEagles allowing most fantasy points to WRs.
9DeSean JacksonPHIvs. NYGFinished with poor stats and sore ankle last week.
10Pierre GarconWASat DENHas 40 catches this season, just 2 TDs.
11Eric DeckerDENvs. WASMost productive (8-150-1) Bronco WR vs. Colts.
12Antonio BrownPITat OAKBoth of his TD catches came in same game.
13Larry FitzgeraldARIvs. ATLHeld to just 2 rec., 17 yds. last week by SEA/hammy.
14Marques ColstonNOvs. BUFBills have allowed 15 TD passes (tied for last in NFL).
15Steve SmithCARat TB (Thurs.)Has a TD in each of last 2 games, after just 1 in first 4.
16Josh GordonCLEat KCJust 2 catches for 21 yards last week vs. Packers.
17Anquan BoldinSFvs. JAC (London)Jaguars have allowed NFL-worst 15 TD passes.
18Justin BlackmonJACvs. SF (London)Upstaged by Mike Brown (5-120) last week.
19Hakeem NicksNYGat PHITeam-high 10 targets but only 2 grabs vs. Vikings.
20Harry DouglasATLat ARIHuge (7-149-1) in Ryan's first game w/o Jones, White.
21Terrance WilliamsDALat DETBeen more involved than Austin since Miles' return.
22Jarrett BoykinGBat MINStepped up big (8-103-1) for Rodgers last week.
23Cecil ShortsJACvs. SF (London)Team-high 13 targets despite sprained shoulder.
24Mike WallaceMIAat NELed team with 76 yards receiving, also had 12 rushing.
25Julian EdelmanNEvs. MIAOnly saw 7 targets in Gronk's first game back.
26Stevie JohnsonBUFat NOTeam-high 13 targets in return from back injury.
27Michael FloydARIvs. ATLGot team-high 10 targets last week vs. Seahawks.
28Denarius MooreOAKvs. PITUnderrated fantasy WR faces big test vs. Steelers.
29Rueben RandleNYGat PHIAll 4 TD receptions have come in last 3 games.
30Dwayne BoweKCvs. CLESeason-best 5 catches, 66 yards last week vs. HOU.
31Jeremy KerleyNYJat CINHas a TD catch in 2 of last 3 games.
32Greg JenningsMINvs. GBQuarterback play ongoing issue for Vikings.
33Brian HartlineMIAat NEHas just one TD, high of 69 yards since Week 1.
34Golden TateSEAat STL (Mon.)Sprained foot last week, but able to play through it.
35James JonesGBat MINCould be back in there vs. MIN after missing last week.
36Mike WilliamsTBvs. CAR (Thurs.)Returned (hamstring) vs. ATL after missing last week.
37Kenbrell ThompkinsNEvs. MIARookie needs to establish himself as deep threat.
38Sidney RiceSEAat STL (Mon.)Has just two games with 3 or more catches.
39Brandon LaFellCARat TB (Thurs.)Seems to run hot or cold each week. Is hot next?
40Kris DurhamDETvs. DALHas 16 catches and a TD over last three games.
41Emmanuel SandersPITat OAK 
42Robert WoodsBUFat NONot much happening over last two games.
43Marvin JonesCINvs. NYJHas caught a TD pass in each of last two games.
44Roddy WhiteATLat ARIWill hamstring keep him out a 2nd straight game?
45Riley CooperPHIvs. NYGOnly Eagle WR (6-88) do anything vs. Cowboys.
46Jerome SimpsonMINvs. GB 
47Rod StreaterOAKvs. PIT 
48Leonard HankersonWASat DEN 
49Stephen HillNYJat CINHauled in one of five targets vs. Patriots last week.
50Miles AustinDALat DETHas yet to catch a pass since coming back from injury.
51Brandon GibsonMIAat NEConnected w/ Tannehill for 2 TD catches last week.
52Aaron DobsonNEvs. MIAWill most likely split targets w/ Thompkins from now on.
53Austin PettisSTLvs. SEA (Mon.)Fantasy value tied solely to TDs.
54Donnie AveryKCvs. CLEHas five catches for 39 yards in last 2 games combined.
55Tavon AustinSTLvs. SEA (Mon.)Averaging less than 7 yards per catch.
56Kenny StillsNOvs. BUF 
57Chris GivensSTLvs. SEA (Mon.)Has just 18 catches, 0 TDs in 7 games.
58Andre RobertsARIvs. ATL 
59David NelsonNYJat CINBest game yet w/ Jets last week (4 rec., 80 yards).
60Dexter McClusterKCvs. CLE 
61Cordarrelle PattersonMINvs. GB 
62Doug BaldwinSEAat STL (Mon.) 
63Cole BeasleyDALat DET 
64Percy HarvinSEAat STL (Mon.)Back at practice, could he play on MNF?

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

All touchdowns are 6 points
1 point for 25 yards passing
1 point for 10 yards rushing/receiving
Receptions are .5 points
Interceptions/fumbles are minus-2 points

Additional Week 8 Positional Rankings

Running Backs
Tight Ends
Defense/Special Teams


Week 8 Waiver Wire

Fantasy Football 2013 Wide Receiver Rankings: Week 8
Post date: Thursday, October 24, 2013 - 06:30
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy football rankings, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2013-tight-end-rankings-week-8

He's not No. 1 on Athlon Sports' fantasy football Week 8 tight end rankings, but there's no mistaking the immediate impact Rob Gronkowski had in his long-delayed, much-anticipated season debut. Gronk led the Patriots with 17 targets, finishing the game with eight catches for 114 yards. As long as he doesn't experience any setbacks with his back during the week, he should have another solid game against Miami, a team that has struggled to defend against tight ends.

Jimmy Graham is still ahead of Gronk in the rankings, but for this week he appears to be the one who is a bigger question mark health-wise. Graham injured his foot in the Week 6 loss to the Patriots and apparently it isn't back to 100 percent even though the Saints were on bye last week. There's still time until Sunday's kickoff, but Graham's status needs to be monitored closely. If he does play against the Bills, don't expect him to finish the game with zero catches, which is what he did two weeks ago in New England.

Even with Gronk returning and as good as Graham, Jordan Cameron, Julius Thomas, Vernon Davis, Antonio Gates and others have been this season, it looks like there's a new kid on the block. Washington's Jordan Reed has not only replaced Fred Davis as the Redskins' top tight end, he is quickly establishing himself as one of the position's top playmakers. Reed has shown good chemistry with Robert Griffin III over the past month and blew up against the Bears last week with a nine catches for 134 yards and a touchdown. Is this a sign of things to come? Reed is a top-10 choice in our eyes this week, as the Broncos are ninth in fantasy points allowed to tight ends.

Each week during the NFL season, we will rank enough players at each position to appease everyone from those in 8-team leagues to 16-team leagues, those that can start two QBs, two TEs, three RBs and four WRs. We cut out the rest, because if you're looking at who the 50th-best running back or the 17th-best kicker is for that week, you need more help than any website can give you.

2013 NFL Week 8 Fantasy Football Rankings — Tight Ends
Teams on bye: Baltimore, Chicago, Houston, Indianapolis, San Diego, Tennessee

1Jimmy GrahamNOvs. BUFInjured his foot in last game, monitor status closely.
2Rob GronkowskiNEvs. MIANo surprise Brady locked on Gronk (8-114, 17 targets).
3Vernon DavisSFvs. JAC (London)Led team in targets (8) once again.
4Tony GonzalezATLat ARICardinals allowing most fantasy points to TEs.
5Julius ThomasDENvs. WASLeads all TEs with 8 TD receptions.
6Jordan CameronCLEat KCLeads his position w/ 45 catches, also has 6 TDs.
7Jason WittenDALat DETLions have given up 1 TD to a TE this season.
8Greg OlsenCARat TB (Thurs.)Appears to be over foot issue.
9Heath MillerPITat OAKOnly two catches, but TD vs. Ravens.
10Jordan ReedWASat DENExploded (9-134-1) last week vs. Bears.
11Charles ClayMIAat NEHas caught a TD in each of last 3 games.
12Kyle RudolphMINvs. GBMay not offer much until Vikes figure out QB situation.
13Brandon PettigrewDETvs. DALOnly three catches, but first TD vs. Bengals.
14Jeff CumberlandNYJat CINGeno Smith keeping Cumberland involved.
15Jared CookSTLvs. SEA (Mon.)Will Kellen Clemens focus on Cook?
16Brent CelekPHIvs. NYG 
17Tyler EifertCINvs. NYJCaught first career NFL TD last week vs. Lions.
18Scott ChandlerBUFat NOSaints allowing second-fewest fantasy pts. to TEs.
19Jermaine GreshamCINvs. NYJStill looking for first TD catch of season.
20Brandon MyersNYGat PHIHas 7 total receptions in last 5 games combined.
21Joseph FauriaDETvs. DALLions cut Scheffler, could mean more work for Fauria.
22Rob HouslerARIvs. ATLSeason-high 7 rec., 53 yds. vs. Seahawks.
23Timothy WrightTBvs. CAR (Thurs.)Glennon locked on VJax vs. Falcons.
24Zach MillerSEAat STL (Mon.)Tied for team lead w/ 7 targets vs. ARI, also had TD.
25Anthony FasanoKCvs. CLECaught four passes in first game since Week 2.
26Andrew QuarlessGBat MINStarting job is his with Finley (spinal contusion) out.

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

All touchdowns are 6 points
1 point for 25 yards passing
1 point for 10 yards rushing/receiving
Receptions are .5 points
Interceptions/fumbles are minus-2 points

Additional Week 8 Positional Rankings

Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Defense/Special Teams


Week 8 Waiver Wire

Fantasy Football 2013 Tight End Rankings: Week 8
Post date: Thursday, October 24, 2013 - 06:30
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy football rankings, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2013-defspecial-teams-rankings-week-8

Carolina does not lead Athlon Sports' fantasy football Week 8 defense/special teams rankings, but the Panthers have certainly been among the most productive DSTs this season. The Panthers are second in the NFL in both yards and points allowed and have forced 14 turnovers in six games. They are fifth in fantasy points and on Thursday will face Tampa Bay rookie quarterback Mike Glennon and a rushing attack that will be without Doug Martin (shoulder).

Kansas City is still No. 1 on our list, as the Chiefs lead the league with 35 sacks and are at home this week against a Cleveland offense that will start Jason Campbell at quarterback. The Seahawks also get the luxury of facing a backup quarterback on Monday night with the Rams turning to Kellen Clemens following Sam Bradford's season-ending injury (torn ACL), which he suffered against the aforementioned Panthers last week.

No Baltimore or Chicago DSTs this week mean some may be looking for a replacement. While the statistics say otherwise, a possible under-the-radar option could be Atlanta. The Falcons looked better on defense last week against the Buccaneers and Sunday face an Arizona offense that is not having a lot of success moving the ball or scoring points and has turned it over 17 times, including 13 interceptions by Carson Palmer.

Each week during the NFL season, we will rank enough players at each position to appease everyone from those in 8-team leagues to 16-team leagues, those that can start two QBs, two TEs, three RBs and four WRs. We cut out the rest, because if you're looking at who the 50th-best running back or the 17th-best kicker is for that week, you need more help than any Web site can give you.

2013 NFL Week 8 Fantasy Football Rankings — Defense/Special Teams
Teams on bye this week: Baltimore, Chicago, Houston, Indianapolis, San Diego, Tennessee

1Kansas City Chiefsvs. CLEChiefs lead NFL with 35 sacks, Browns have given up 27.
2Seattle Seahawksat STL (Mon.)Kellen Clemens is 4-8 in 12 career starts. SEA No. 2 vs. pass.
3San Francisco 49ersvs. JAC (London)49ers have 10 total takeaways, allowed 12.8 ppg over last 4.
4Carolina Panthersat TB (Thurs.)Panthers are 2nd in ypg, ppg and face Martin-less Bucs O.
5Green Bay Packersat MINVikings mustered 7 pts., 206 yds. last week vs. lowly Giants.
6Cincinnati Bengalsvs. NYJBengals' D has been a different animal at home.
7New Orleans Saintsvs. BUFSaints allowing 10.3 ppg at home, rested coming off of bye.
8New England Patriotsvs. MIAPats' D allowed 295 yards to Jets last week w/o 4 starters.
9Pittsburgh Steelersat OAKNo. 4 pass defense vs. No. 32 pass offense.
10Cleveland Brownsat KCBrowns tied for 9th vs. rush, Jamaal Charles No. 3 in rushing.
11Arizona Cardinalsvs. ATLCardinals have 11 sacks and 7 takeaways in 3 home games.
12New York Jetsat CINJets are 4th in ypg, but 19th in ppg and only have 4 takeaways.
13Dallas Cowboysat DETHad 3 INTs vs. PHI last week, 4th straight G w/ at least 1 pick.
14Atlanta Falconsat ARICards are 29th in yards, 25th in points and have 17 TOs.
15St. Louis Ramsvs. SEA (Mon.)Rams' D has 8 sacks, 7 takeaways and 1 TD in 3 home games.
16Denver Broncosvs. WASNo. 1 vs. rush, but last vs. pass. Offense's TOs not helping.

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

0 points allowed = 12 points
1-6 points allowed = 10 points
7-13 points allowed = 8 pts
14-20 points allowed = 6 points
21-27 points allowed = 2 pts
28+ points allowed = 0 points
Safeties = 2 points
Fumbles recovered = 2 points
Interceptions = 2 points
Sacks = 1 point
Defensive/Special Teams TDs = 6 points

Additional Week 8 Positional Rankings

Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends


Week 8 Waiver Wire

Fantasy Football 2013 Defense/Special Teams Rankings: Week 8
Post date: Thursday, October 24, 2013 - 06:30
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy football rankings, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2013-kicker-rankings-week-8

Matt Prater has a stranglehold on the top spot on Athlon Sports' fantasy football Week 8 kicker rankings, but Steven Hauschka is not too far behind him in the points department. Prater has made a healthy living kicking for Denver's prolific offense, but Hauschka is making the most of his opportunities with the Seahawks. He has connected on 16 field goals this season (Stephen Gostkowski leads the NFL with 18), including an impressive 8-of-9 from 40 yards and beyond. Seattle is in St. Louis on Monday night and with a ball-hawking defense like the Seahawks going up against Rams backup quarterback Kellen Clemens, Hauschka's leg could get a decent workout.

Each week during the NFL season, we will rank enough players at each position to appease everyone from those in 8-team leagues to 16-team leagues, those that can start two QBs, two TEs, three RBs and four WRs. We cut out the rest, because if you're looking at who the 50th-best running back or the 17th-best kicker is for that week, you need more help than any Web site can give you.

2013 NFL Week 8 Fantasy Football Rankings — Kickers
Teams on bye this week: Baltimore, Chicago, Houston, Indianapolis, San Diego, Tennessee

1Matt PraterDENvs. WAS
2Stephen GostkowskiNEvs. MIA
3Mason CrosbyGBat MIN
4Steven HauschkaSEAat STL (Mon.)
5Dan BaileyDALat DET
6Garrett HartleyNOvs. BUF
7Matt BryantATLat ARI
8Alex HeneryPHIvs. NYG
9Nick FolkNYJat CIN
10Ryan SuccopKCvs. CLE
11David AkersDETvs. DAL
12Blair WalshMINvs. GB
13Phil DawsonSFvs. JAC (London)
14Shaun SuishamPITat OAK
15Kai ForbathWASat DEN
16Dan CarpenterBUFat NO

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

PATs = 1 point
39 yards and under = 3 points
40-49 yards = 4 points
50-59 yards = 5 points
60+ yards = 6 points

Additional Week 8 Positional Rankings

Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends
Defense/Special Teams

Week 8 Waiver Wire

Fantasy Football 2013 Kicker Rankings: Week 8
Post date: Thursday, October 24, 2013 - 06:30
Path: /nascar/fantasy-nascar-picks-martinsville

To help guide you through the 2013 Fantasy NASCAR season, Athlon Sports contributor Geoffrey Miller will be offering his best predictions for each race. And because Yahoo's Fantasy Auto Racing game is arguably the most popular, he’ll break down the picks according to its Sprint Cup Series driver classes — A-List, B-List, C-List. The main picks are designed to make optimal use of Yahoo!’s nine-start maximum rule over the course of the season. The “also consider” section ranks unmentioned drivers strictly by expected result without consideration of start limitations.

Next: Goody's Headache Relief Shot 500 (Martinsville Speedway)
Race: 500 laps, 263 miles (.526-mile oval)
April 2013 Winner: Jimmie Johnson

A-List (Pick two, start one)
Jimmie Johnson  Jimmie Johnson

The groans have officially started. Jimmie Johnson emerged unscathed from Talladega Superspeedway with a decent finish and even larger points lead. The road to No. 6 seems to be growing ever clearer for the five-time champ — especially with Martinsville Speedway this weekend.

The 35,000-foot look at Johnson's performance is one revealing utter domination. He has seven wins at the track in the last 14 races and eight for his career. Only seven times has he failed to finish worse than fifth. It gets worse for the competition, too: Johnson dominated the spring race by leading 346 laps and averaging a running position of first. He never crossed the start/finish line worse than fifth during the 500-lap race.

Clint BowyerMartinsville's unique layout with the long straightaways and ultra-tight corners requires a pretty specific and repeatable rhythm behind the wheel in order to run fast. Jimmie Johnson has obviously found that groove, and it's not a stretch to think Clint Bowyer is gaining on what it takes to lead and win.

In Bowyer's last five Martinsville starts, he's finished worse than 10th just once. He's also reeled off consecutive top-5 finishes thanks to 154 laps led in the fall race a year ago and a second-place run this past spring. That's even an improvement from a respectable career at the track that has provided an average finish of 13.2 in 15 starts.

Also consider: Jeff Gordon, Matt Kenseth

B-List (Pick four, start two)
Kyle Busch  Kyle Busch

There were two drivers in the spring Martinsville race that completed every lap in the top 15. One of them won the race. The other, Kyle Busch, finished fifth. Busch led 56 laps that day and never sank lower than 12th. Busch, never a winner at Martinsville, seems to be getting closer. A year ago he finished second and in the spring 2012 race he was running near the front when a rear track bar broke. In the fall 2011 race, he led 126 laps before a loose wheel broke off and he crashed. With some luck, Busch might challenge for a win.

Dale Earnhardt Jr.A common story coming to Martinsville Speedway is the one told about Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s second start during his rookie season at the track. Earnhardt was a part of three crashes — the final one featured his No. 8 ramping over Dave Blaney's car and into the Turn 1 wall with 20 laps left — and famously even hit a tow truck during one of his garage visits. But for all of the talk about Earnhardt's troubles that day, he's been decidedly able at Martinsville in recent portions of his career, save for his last two finishes. Earnhardt has five top-15 finishes at Martinsville since 2010 and boasts a B-List best 12.3 average finish in the last 17 races. He's still searching for a win, however.

Ryan Newman
Ryan Newman's recent history at Martinsville has one highlight — his win in the 2012 spring race — and a few disappointments, thanks largely to unexpected problems. In the spring race, he suffered a flat tire and other problems that left him eight laps down. However, if Newman can manage to score a lead lap finish on Sunday's race, there's a good chance he'll knock in a top-10 finish. Newman has 15 career lead lap finishes on the half-mile and 11 of them have produced top-10 finishes. Newman also holds the third-best average running position at Martinsville (14.8) in the last 17 races.

Jamie McMurrayThanks to his win Sunday at Talladega, Jamie McMurray is already having a pretty good week. Should he replicate his spring Martinsville performance on Sunday, it'll get even better. McMurray was the highest-finishing B-List driver in April with a seventh-place run. It was an all-around good day for McMurray, as he started 13th and steadily moved forward. For his career, McMurray averages a 17th-place finish at Martinsville.

Also consider: Mark Martin, Jeff Burton

C-List (Pick two, start one)
Elliott Sadler

The career history of Elliott Sadler in the Cup Series at Martinsville doesn't bode too well for his debut this weekend as a relief driver for Brian Vickers in the Michael Waltrip Racing No. 55. Sadler, in 24 starts, has notched just three top 10s. But Sadler is a C-List driver who gets to wheel a car that finished 11th at Martinsville in April with Vickers behind the wheel. Even he manages just a top-20 from the effort, it'll be a start that's at least as successful as any other in the C-List.

Danica Patrick  Danica Patrick
Danica Patrick has one career start and thus one career finish at Martinsville Speedway. It's not exactly the most revelatory of a database for a driver who has struggled so mightily for much of the season. Patrick, however, scored her second-best finish of 2013 back in April when she finished on the lead lap in 12th. The finish was more a lesson in Patrick picking off spots from those ahead of her through attrition, but it's still a reasonable feat for any rookie at the tight track. If Patrick can replicate the feat Sunday, it'll be a major win for C-List players who start her.

Also consider: David Ragan, Casey Mears

Follow Geoffrey Miller on Twitter: @GeoffreyMiller

Photos by Action Sports, Inc.

Geoffrey Miller breaks down the best Fantasy NASCAR picks for Martinsville Speedway.
Post date: Wednesday, October 23, 2013 - 18:10
Path: /college-football/steve-spurrier-start-dylan-thompson-missouri

South Carolina will head to Columbia for a showdown with the SEC East-leading Tigers without their starting quarterback. Connor Shaw suffered a sprained right knee late in the Gamecocks' loss to Tennessee last Saturday and will be extremely limited in practice this week. Dylan Thompson isn't the average backup, however; as he does not lack in big-game experience. Thompson won each of his previous two starts and eclipsed 300 passing yards in each. He led South Carolina to a victory over Clemson in the 2012 season finale and also threw a touchdown against Michigan in last year's Outback Bowl.

Steve Spurrier to start Dylan Thompson at Missouri
Post date: Wednesday, October 23, 2013 - 16:05
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Texas A&M Aggies, SEC, News
Path: /college-football/johnny-manziel-hopeful-play-saturday-versus-vanderbilt

Johnny Manziel missed some snaps in the fourth quarter of Saturday's loss against Auburn after injuring his right shoulder on a running play. The injury occurred as Manziel lowered his shoulder near Auburn's goal line, looking to gain extra yards with A&M ahead 31-24 with roughly 14 minutes left to play in the final quarter. Manziel was tackled by a pair of defenders, falling forward with his weight on his throwing shoulder. While he returned after just one series on the sidelines, it appears the injury is somewhat serious. Kevin Sumlin told media that he was "hopful" that Manziel would play this weekend against Vanderbilt.

Johnny Manziel "hopeful" to play Saturday versus Vanderbilt
Post date: Wednesday, October 23, 2013 - 15:27
Path: /mlb/world-series-game-1-preview-st-louis-boston

World Series – Game 1
St. Louis at Boston
8:07 ET on Fox
Adam Wainwright (19-9, 2.94) vs. Jon Lester (15-8, 3.75)

This is the first time the two teams with their league’s best records have met in the Fall Classic since the Yankees defeated the Braves in 1999. Both the Red Sox and Cardinals won 97 games, and proved to be among the best in baseball all season. This World Series has all the signs of a long, competitive, down-to-the-wire showdown. Both teams won their League Championship Series in six games with pitching as their hallmark. Both bullpens are strong, so it’s doubtful that either team will cough up leads in the late innings. Neither team hit particularly well in series that were dominated by pitching. Both Boston and St. Louis were opportunistic and capitalized on their opponents’ miscues. There will be no room for error in this series. Both teams must be sharp in the field and on the bases. A small mistake can mean the difference in one game, and one game will likely be the difference in the series. There is significant World Series experience in both dugouts, especially among position players. Lance Lynn and Adam Wainwright of St. Louis, and Jon Lester and John Lackey of Boston are the only pitchers on the two rosters to appear for winning teams in a previous World Series. Baseball could not ask for a better matchup in the Fall Classic this season. With temperatures expected to be in the mid-40s at game time with a 50 percent chance of rain, baseball could have asked for better weather.

Keys for Boston
The Red Sox have four games at home and must capitalize on the magic of Fenway Park. The Cardinals struggle against left-handed pitching and Boston’s only southpaw starter, Jon Lester, goes tonight. If Lester is sharp and gets this game to the bullpen by the seventh inning, manager John Farrell will likely leave the park happy. Offensively, the Red Sox love to run. They stole 123 bases and were caught just 19 times for a major league-best 87 percent success rate. They can’t afford to abandon that facet of their offense.

Keys for St. Louis
St. Louis manager Mike Matheny is excited about Allen Craig getting back in the lineup. He led the club with 97 RBIs in the regular season, but has been out since early September with a foot injury. The Cardinals’ offense needs a boost, and Craig is the man for the job. Catcher Yadier Molina is the best in the business at shutting down opponents’ running games. He will have his hands full with Boston, a team that loves to run. St. Louis starter Adam Wainwright allowed just three stolen bases in six attempts all season, with two of the steals coming with Tony Cruz behind the plate. The Cardinals’ bullpen is full of power arms and that matches up well against a team that’s not afraid to strike out.

Red Sox to Watch
David Ortiz is the man the Cardinals’ pitchers must deal with. If he’s not part of the Boston attack, the Red Sox may have trouble producing runs. Leadoff hitter Jacoby Ellsbury will be a key for Boston to manufacture runs with speed. If he’s on base — and especially if he can steal a bag or two — the Red Sox can chip away with Shane Victorino and Dustin Pedroia even if the Cardinals can neutralize Big Papi.

Cardinals to Watch
Wainwright has made seven postseason starts, but none in the World Series. He’s not likely to be fazed by the gravity of the moment, and the Cardinals need a strong outing by their leader. Carlos Beltran has been the Redbirds’ best RBI producer this postseason. He and Matt Holliday now have some help in Craig, a trio that should give Lester some trouble. Having the aging Beltran cover the spacious and quirky right field in Boston could be a factor.

Key Stats
Kyle Seager of Seattle is the only player to successfully steal against the Wainwright-Molina combination this season…The Cardinals are 4-3 in Wainwright’s seven postseason starts, 1-2 on the road…Wainwright has not allowed more than two runs in the any of the three losses…This is the second World Series start for Lester, who started Game 4 of the 2007 World Series…This is Lester’s fifth Game 1 start…The Red Sox are 2-2 in his previous four Game 1 outings…Wainwright has never faced Ellsbury, Pedroia or Ortiz…Tonight marks the 10th World Series game between the Cardinals and Red Sox at Fenway Park. Dating back to 1946, the Red Sox have won six of those games.

The Boston Red Sox and St. Louis Cardinals begin a classic showdown in the World Series tonight in Boston.
Post date: Wednesday, October 23, 2013 - 14:00
All taxonomy terms: Chicago Bears, NFL
Path: /nfl/should-bears-re-sign-jay-cutler

Jay Cutler's contract is up at the end of the year, leaving the Chicago Bears with a decision that will impact the franchise for a long time. Do they place their trust in Cutler, or do they move on? Athlon editors Nathan Rush and Rob Doster take up the question.

It’s like asking if Mike Ditka would win a fight with a hurricane. There’s only one right answer. Yes. It doesn’t take Bill Swerski or any of his Superfan buddies to know the Chicago Bears — Da Bears! —should re-sign quarterback Jay Cutler.

How soon we forget. Remember who started under center for the Bears before Cutler arrived from the Denver Broncos, a team that replaced “Smokin’ Jay” with Heisman Trophy-winning, BCS national title-winning, first-round draft pick Tim Tebow? The Windy City aerial attack was led by Super Bowl runner-up Rex Grossman (a.k.a. “Turnover-saurus Rex”), Kyle Orton (a.k.a. “King Neck Beard”), son-of-a Super Bowl winner Brian Griese, Craig Krenzel, Chad Hutchinson, Jonathan Quinn, Kordell Stewart, Chris Chandler, Jim Miller, Shane Matthews and Cade McNown — and that’s just the 2000s-era starting QBs in Chicago.

If the Bears don’t re-sign Cutler, they are choosing a total rebuilding job over building around a proven Pro Bowl passer with 100 starts, 148 TD passes and 22,997 yards under his belt. And that would be risky business, especially considering Chicago’s recent track record of drafting quarterbacks — a list that includes four first-rounders since the NFL-AFL merger in Grossman (No. 22 overall in 2003), McNown (No. 12 in 1999), Jim Harbaugh (No. 26 in ’87) and Jim McMahon (No. 5 in ’82). And the Bears are just mediocre enough this year that there is no way to compete with the miserable Jaguars and Buccaneers for the top signal-caller available in 2014. Good luck finding a quarterback better than Cutler, who went No. 11 overall in 2006.

Chicago needs to focus on the once-feared Monsters of the Midway defense. Stopping Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers and Detroit’s Matthew Stafford is the answer to winning the NFC North — not replacing Cutler, a legitimate franchise quarterback.
– Nathan Rush

Tony Dungy was recently asked whether he thought Jay Cutler was a franchise quarterback. Dungy’s response: “He could be, but not from what I’ve seen so far.”

And that’s precisely the problem with Cutler. Even now, in the eighth season of his career, he remains more promise than production. Chicago has nothing to gain by breaking the bank to keep a quarterback who has yet to reach his potential and has made precisely one playoff appearance in his career.

Cutler may be the last man standing from the 2006 first-round quarterback class, but he has risen no higher than the middle of the pack among his peers. He’s 16th among active players in passer rating, and his interception percentage of 3.4 ranks 28th and underscores his alarming and ongoing propensity for the ill-timed turnover.

Then there’s his health. Once a paragon of durability, Cutler has seen an increasing susceptibility to injury that is rapidly diminishing his long-term value. This season marks the second time in three years he will have missed multiple games.

It would be one thing if the Bears had no other options, but the opposite is true. Next spring’s NFL Draft will see one of the great quarterback classes of recent memory. Names like Teddy Bridgewater, Johnny Manziel, AJ McCarron, Marcus Mariota, Tajh Boyd and Aaron Murray will be clustered atop draft boards in war rooms across the league. A Bears team that will likely be drafting in the middle of the pack will still have several tantalizing first-round options.

The Cutler experiment in Chicago has been a qualified success at best, and after only one playoff victory — against a 7–9 Seahawks team that was the worst playoff team of the modern era — it’s time for the Bears to move on. Better options await. 
– Rob Doster

Should the Bears Re-Sign Jay Cutler?
Post date: Wednesday, October 23, 2013 - 13:00
All taxonomy terms: Essential 11, Overtime
Path: /overtime/athlons-essential-11-links-day-october-23-2013

This is your daily link roundup of our favorite sports posts on the web for Oct. 23.


• The World Series starts tonight, and we know who Kayla will be rooting for. Enjoy this slideshow of the Red Sox' hottest fan. It's almost enough to make you want to root for the Sox. Almost.


• Tim McCarver has a lot of haters out there. If you're not among them, enjoy this three-minute tribute to his World Series broadcasting career.


An oral history of the 1989 Earthquake Series. Dennis Eckersley: "I was in the bathroom. I was combing my hair, man. I was standing next to Dave Parker."


Oregon football practice has a suspicious feathered observer. Probably one of Nick Saban's minions.


Despite being a shell of his former self, Tim Lincecum is somehow cashing in. His agent deserves a raise.


• Headline of the day: "Man Drops 14 Pounds By Only Drinking Beer and Eating Sausages." This man is my new hero.


Mike Tyson in his own words. The article's even better if you read it in a Mike Tyson voice.


Someone on the Interwebs is contending that Tajh Boyd owes a huge gambling debt. I call that kicking a man when he's down.


Trevor Plouffe went hiking with his wife and posted a photo with a classic caption.


• The spoils of victory: Tulane coach Curtis Johnson says his players now have more girlfriends than ever.


Triumph the Insult Comic Dog visits the Great American Beer Festival, and the results are exactly what you would hope.


• These things are always heartwarming: A Northwestern walk-on gets a scholarship in front of the team. The best part is when he calls his mom and sister with the news.




-- Email us with any compelling sports-related links at [email protected]

Post date: Wednesday, October 23, 2013 - 10:45
Path: /college-football/2013-college-football-post-week-8-heisman-trophy-voting

Each week of the college football season, Athlon Sports will poll some of the nation's best college football people from every region of the country. Each voter offers up a top five and each first-place vote is worth five points. A second-place vote is worth four points, so on and so forth. With 13 voters, a perfect ballot — i.e., 13 first-place votes — would give a player 65 total points.

There are two names now standing above the rest in the race for college football's most prestigious award. Oregon's Marcus Mariota was brilliant in yet another win but Florida State's Jameis Winston made a Heisman statement in Death Valley by single-handedly crushing No. 3 Clemson. With contenders dropping like flies all over the nation, it may be a two-horse race to the finish.

Post-Week 8 Voting Results:

1.(1)Marcus MariotaQBOregon6312-1--
2.(4)Jameis WinstonQBFlorida St491101-1
3.(2)Johnny ManzielQBTexas A&M37-29-1
4.(5)Bryce PettyQBBaylor19-1144
5.(5)Sean MannionQBOregon St14---62
6.(5)AJ McCarronQBAlabama7--112
7t.(ur)Brandin CooksWROregon St2---1-
7t.(ur)Melvin GordonRBWisconsin2---1-
7t.(ur)Jordan LynchQBN. Illinois2----2
10.(9)Bishop SankeyRBWashington1----1

Heisman Headlines:

Winston’s Statement. The basic belief is that every Heisman winner needs a Heisman moment to win the award. Well, redshirt freshman Jameis Winston had his on Saturday night against Clemson. He threw for 444 yards and scored five total touchdowns on the road against the No. 3 team in the nation. He has vaulted himself to No. 2 in the balloting and has created a two-horse race for the stiff-armed trophy. He got his first first-place vote and 10 second-place votes to separate himself from the rest of the field as the top challenger to Marcus Mariota.

Beavers and Ducks. Billy Bob Thornton would be proud, because this state is producing at elite levels. Marcus Mariota is still the frontrunner to win the award after eight weeks of action. He was magical again, scoring three more touchdowns, throwing for 327 yards and rushing for 67 on the ground. But there are other guys playing excellent football in the state of Oregon. Oregon State’s quarterback Sean Mannion is leading the nation in passing (427.4 ypg) and passing touchdowns (29) while wide receiver Brandin Cooks is leading the nation in receptions (76), yards (1,176) and touchdowns (12). And both are on this week’s Heisman ballot. The Beavers, who have won six straight, get to host No. 6 Stanford this weekend, while Oregon gets No. 12 UCLA at home.

Baylor Buzz. Another big Heisman winner this weekend was Baylor’s quarterback Bryce Petty. He led his offense to 700 yards of offense and 70 points for the fourth time this season in the 71-7 crushing win over Iowa State. Petty is leading the nation in passing efficiency at 221.83, which would obliterate the NCAA single-season record, and has the Bears perfect and No. 8 in the BCS.

Boring 'ol Bama. AJ McCarron has been on the Athlon Heisman ballot every single weekend but never seems to get much attention. He is 32-2 as a starter and completed 15-of-21 passes for 180 yards and three touchdowns in yet another blowout SEC win this weekend. He’s the eighth-rated passer in the nation and don’t be surprised if McCarron makes it to New York based on consistency and win-loss record. As contenders fall by the wayside each week, McCarron keeps on plugging away.

Dropped Out. Aaron Murray lost his third game and didn’t get a vote this week. Tajh Boyd played one of the worst games of his career and has plummeted completely out of the voting after being in the top three for most of the year. The same could be said about Zach Mettenberger, Teddy Bridgewater, Brett Hundley and Johnny Manziel, who all lost critical games in Week 8. Only Manziel lost and still got votes this week.

What to Watch. Oregon State hosts No. 6 Stanford this weekend and it should give the best QB-WR duo in the nation (Mannion to Cooks) a chance to showcase themselves. The Ducks get No. 12 UCLA at home in a potential Pac-12 championship preview. Jameis Winston, Johnny Manziel and Jordan Lynch get easy home games while Bryce Petty travels to lowly Kansas.

The Voting Panel:

NameOrganizationWebsiteNo. 1
Tom DienhartBig Ten NetworkBigTenNetwork.comMarcus Mariota
Bryan FischerPac-12 NetworkPac-12.comMarcus Mariota
David FoxAthlon SportsAthlonSports.comMarcus Mariota
Braden GallAthlon SportsAthlonSports.comMarcus Mariota
Steven GodfreySB NationSBNation.comMarcus Mariota
Chris HustonHeisman PunditHeismanPundit.comMarcus Mariota
Steven LassanAthlon SportsAthlonSports.comMarcus Mariota
Chris LevelRed Raider SportsRedRaiderSports.comMarcus Mariota
Mitch LightAthlon SportsAthlonSports.comMarcus Mariota
Billy LiucciTexAgsTexAgs.comJameis Winston
Dan RubensteinSB Nation/Solid VerbalSolidVerbal.comMarcus Mariota
Josh WardMr. SEC/WNMLMrSEC.comMarcus Mariota
Jim YoungACC Sports JournalACCSports.comMarcus Mariota


2013 College Football: Post-Week 8 Heisman Trophy Voting
Post date: Wednesday, October 23, 2013 - 07:15
Path: /college-football/grading-college-footballs-2013-first-year-coaches-after-week-8

With eight weeks of the 2013 college football season in the books, it’s time to take a look at the new coaches and how they have performed so far this year.

While every coach wants to win big in his first season, it’s just not possible with some programs. Roster turnover, change in schemes, coaching transition and a lack of talent are four reasons most programs struggle in the first year under a new coach.

And in looking at the 31 new hires for 2013, it’s clear this is not shaping up to be a banner season for first-year coaches.

Auburn’s Gus Malzahn, Texas Tech’s Kliff Kingsbury, Oregon’s Mark Helfrich and Wisconsin’s Gary Andersen are the top-four hires after eight weeks of the season. Helfrich and Kingsbury are unbeaten, while Malzahn’s only loss came at LSU, and Andersen has defeats to Arizona State and Ohio State.

After those four names, Boston College’s Steve Addazio and Northern Illinois’ Rod Carey are the next in the rankings, while Tennessee’s Butch Jones is rising after an upset win over South Carolina.

Athlon Sports will grade all of the new coaches at the end of the year, but for now, here’s a look at how all 31 new hires have performed so far in 2013.
Grading College Football's New Coach Hires for 2013 After Week 8

1Gus Malzahn




Auburn went 3-9 and was largely uncompetitive in SEC action last season. Malzahn has made a huge difference this year, as the Tigers have already won six games and could be 9-1 heading into rivalry contests against Georgia and Alabama. Auburn’s offense is one of the most improved units in the nation, averaging 35.9 points a game after mustering only 18.7 per contest in 2012. Malzahn inherited some nice talent, but he’s done a good job of blending the returning core with his up-tempo offense, along with breaking in a new quarterback in Nick Marshall. Auburn’s defense ranks 12th in yards allowed the SEC, but this unit has generated 19 sacks and is holding opponents to just 22 points a game.
2Kliff Kingsbury



The former Red Raider quarterback has returned to Lubbock, guiding Texas Tech to a 7-0 record and top-10 ranking in the first release of the BCS standings. Even though Kingsbury had no head coaching experience prior to this season, the 34-year-old head coach was the perfect hire for Texas Tech. The Red Raiders’ schedule will get tougher, starting on Saturday with a date at Oklahoma. But with Kingsbury (one of the best X’s and O’s coaches in the nation), Texas Tech will be in the Big 12 title mix.
3Mark Helfrich



Chip who? The Ducks haven’t missed a beat with Helfrich in control, cruising to a 7-0 mark and spot among the top-three teams in the nation. Quarterback Marcus Mariota is the frontrunner to win the Heisman, and the offense has scored at least 40 points in every game in 2013. The biggest test of Helfrich’s tenure will come on Nov. 7, as Oregon travels to Stanford in a game that should decide the Pac-12 North champion. 
4Gary Andersen



Andersen inherited a program coming off three consecutive Rose Bowls, and the Badgers haven’t missed a beat under his watch. Wisconsin opened the year with blowout wins over UMass and Tennessee Tech and was robbed of a chance to win by poor officiating in the loss to Arizona State. The Badgers handled Northwestern, Illinois and Purdue in Big Ten play and only lost by seven to Ohio State. If Wisconsin wins out, Andersen’s first season could result in a BCS bowl.
5Steve Addazio



Addazio inherited a team that won just six games from 2011-12, but the Eagles have showed marked improvement in his first season. Boston College lost by only 14 to Florida State and by 10 to Clemson, and with a favorable schedule, the Eagles should make their first bowl appearance since the 2010 season. Addazio inherited a solid core of talent on offense, and running back Andre Williams ranks fifth nationally with an average of 139.7 yards per game. 
6Rod Carey



Carey stepped into a situation built for success, as the Huskies returned 10 starters – including standout quarterback Jordan Lynch – from last year’s team that finished 12-2 and played in the Orange Bowl. Northern Illinois is back in the mix for a BCS bowl once again, beating Iowa and Purdue in route to a 7-0 start. 
7Butch Jones



Even though Tennessee’s record is just 4-3, there are plenty of signs the program is on the right track. The Volunteers took Georgia to overtime on Oct. 5 and followed up that performance with an upset victory over South Carolina last Saturday. Tennessee’s offense is starting to show some signs of life, and the Volunteers rank second in the SEC with a +4 in turnover margin. The upcoming schedule isn’t easy, but Tennessee should play in a bowl this year.
8Mike MacIntyre



Colorado was downright awful last year. The Buffaloes lost to Sacramento State and had four defeats by 40 points or more. MacIntyre has made a big difference, as the Buffaloes have already won three games, which nearly exceeds the total this program had from 2011-12 (four). A bowl could be too much to ask for, but Colorado should be more competitive against its Pac-12 opponents than it was last season. 
9Bobby Petrino



Petrino’s first season at Western Kentucky started with a win over Kentucky, but the Hilltoppers lost their next two games, including a turnover-filled 52-20 defeat at Tennessee. Western Kentucky is 3-1 in its last four games and should be favored in its final five contests. After what transpired at Arkansas, a quiet start to the season isn’t a bad thing for Petrino.
10Tommy Tuberville



Tuberville was a nice catch for Cincinnati after Butch Jones left for Tennessee, and the veteran coach has the Bearcats positioned to finish with at least eight wins for the eighth time in nine seasons. Losing to Illinois and South Florida was surprising, but Cincinnati will likely be favored against SMU, Houston and Memphis, with games against Rutgers and Louisville presenting the biggest challenge the rest of the season. Tuberville’s first year with the Bearcats hasn’t received much national attention, but Cincinnati is quietly on its way to its seventh bowl game in eight years. 
11Matt Wells



With quarterback Chuckie Keeton lost for the season, it’s hard to give Wells a complete grade for his work through eight games. When Keeton was in the lineup, Utah State lost by four points to Utah and by three to USC, beat San Jose State by 28 points and Air Force by 32. With four winnable games to finish the year, Wells’ first season would be a success if he gets Utah State back to the postseason for the third consecutive year. 
12Bryan Harsin



Considering Harsin is Arkansas State’s fourth head coach in four seasons, some transition time is needed for the former Texas offensive coordinator. The Red Wolves won 20 games from 2011-12, but with four losses, the best this team can do is 9-4 – assuming it wins a bowl game. Arkansas State’s wins came against Arkansas-Pine Bluff, Troy and Idaho, and its losses against Auburn, Missouri and UL Lafayette are nothing to be ashamed about. Ranking Harsin this high might be a bit generous, but then again, there aren’t many coaches behind him worthy of a promotion on this list.
13Bret Bielema



This is probably a little high for Bielema, but it’s not a particularly deep year for success among first-year coaches. Bielema didn’t inherit a ton of talent to work with, but the Razorbacks have been outscored 134-17 in their last three SEC games. Arkansas does have some promising pieces for the future, including freshmen running back Alex Collins, defensive tackle Darius Philon and offensive linemen Denver Kirkland and Dan Skipper. With a bowl game nearly out of reach, Bielema’s top priority for the last four games is to build momentum for 2014, along with being more competitive against its conference foes.
14Willie Taggart



Taggart inherited a mess left behind by former coach Skip Holtz. South Florida went 8-5 in Holtz’s first season but finished 8-16 in the last two years, and the cupboard on offense was bare. As a result, the Bulls are averaging just 16.2 points a game. Six combined turnovers against McNeese State and FAU cost South Florida a chance at two winnable games and a likely bowl appearance. Taggart was a good hire and will get the program back on track. However, he will need some time to recruit and upgrade the talent level on offense. 
15Mark Stoops



Expectations were low for Stoops in his first year, and the Wildcats’ only victory came against one of the worst FBS teams in the nation (Miami, Ohio). On a positive note, Kentucky lost by only seven to South Carolina, and its margin of defeat against Louisville and Florida decreased from 2012. The Wildcats may only win one more game this season, but Stoops is bringing in a solid recruiting class, which should help immediately upgrade the talent next year in Lexington. 
16Dave Doeren



Similar to Utah State’s Matt Wells, Doeren has been dealing with a significant injury at quarterback. Arkansas transfer Brandon Mitchell broke his foot in the opener and has not played since, which significantly hampered NC State’s offense through the first six games. The Wolfpack are searching for their first win in the ACC but had a respectable showing in a loss to Clemson (26-14) and went 3-0 in non-conference play. Due to Mitchell’s injury, we will give Doeren a slight curve on his grade.
17Scott Shafer



Shafer’s first seven games have produced a mix bag of results. The Orange was impressive in non-conference wins against Wagner and Tulane and beat NC State 24-10 on the road in mid-October. However, Syracuse was outscored in conference play by Clemson and Georgia Tech by a combined score of 105-14. Stopping the pass on defense is a huge concern, and the Orange has been unable to get consistent play from Terrel Hunt or Drew Allen at quarterback. With home games against Wake Forest, Pittsburgh and Boston College, Syracuse still has a chance to get bowl eligible. 
18Darrell Hazell



Hazell didn’t inherit a wealth of talent to work with on offense, and the Boilermakers have already turned the reigns over to freshman quarterback Danny Etling, which only adds to the growing pains in West Lafayette. Purdue’s only win came against Indiana State, but Hazell’s team lost by just 14 to Michigan State and by seven to Notre Dame. It’s hard to find a guaranteed win on the schedule the rest of the way for the Boilermakers, but Hazell went 5-7 in his first year at Kent State, only to rebound with an 11-3 mark the following season.  
19Ron Caragher



So far, the Spartans’ season has played out as most expected. San Jose State lost to Stanford, Minnesota and Utah State, while defeating Sacramento State, Colorado State and Hawaii. The Spartans won 11 games last season and returned 12 starters, including standout quarterback David Fales, leaving plenty of hope for this team to push Fresno State and Boise State for the conference title. San Jose State’s schedule is favorable over the final six games, and if Caragher guides this team to nine wins, the season will be a success. However, 7-5 or 6-6 would be a disappointment.
20Brian Polian



Much like his Mountain West counterpart Ron Caragher, Polian has played a difficult schedule in his first season. Nevada played BCS foes UCLA and Florida State, along with road games against conference foes San Diego State and Boise State. The Wolf Pack’s offense has remained explosive, averaging 34.3 points a game in conference action. However, Nevada’s defense is struggling and could prevent the Wolf Pack from making their ninth consecutive bowl.
21Sonny Dykes



In addition to dealing with a rash of injuries on defense and a true freshman starting at quarterback, the Golden Bears have played one of the toughest schedules in the nation. With those three factors in play, it’s easy to see why California has just one win (Portland State). And with a tough schedule the rest of the way, the Golden Bears could be headed for their worst finish since an 0-11 record in 1999. Considering all of the factors working against California this year, this team would be a good candidate for a rebound in 2014. 
22Trent Miles



In fairness to Miles, we have to grade his first season on a curve. Georgia State is transitioning to the FBS level and doesn’t have the necessary talent to compete for a winning season. The Panthers lost to three FCS teams but have played better in their last two games, losing to Troy and Texas State by just a touchdown. Miles engineered quite a turnaround at Indiana State, and in time, he will do the same thing at Georgia State.  
23Paul Haynes



Haynes inherited 10 starters from a team that went 11-3 last season. And even with a tougher schedule, a bowl game was a reasonable expectation for the Golden Flashes. However, Kent State’s only wins this season came against an FCS team (Liberty) and winless Western Michigan. The Golden Flashes were competitive against Ball State and Northern Illinois, but this team needs to win out in order to play for a bowl in 2013. 
24Skip Holtz



The Bulldogs lost a plethora key players from last year’s team and only one starter returned from an offense that averaged 51.5 points a game in 2012. Louisiana Tech beat Lamar and UTEP this season and has chances to pickup wins against FIU and Southern Miss in its next two games. Holtz was a retread hire, looking to prove his 16-21 record at South Florida was a fluke. So far, the early returns haven't been positive. However, with the roster and league transition, it's unfair to blame Holtz for all of the struggles in 2013. 
25Paul Petrino



Much like New Mexico State’s Doug Martin, Petrino has a tough job in 2013 with Idaho competing as an FBS Independent. The Vandals managed to give Northern Illinois a fight (45-35), but Petrino’s team lost by 34 to North Texas, 24 to Arkansas State and 32 to Wyoming. Idaho’s only win came against Temple, which gives Petrino a slight edge over Matt Rhule in the midseason new coach grades. 
26Matt Rhule



Rhule started his tenure with six consecutive defeats, including a disappointing 30-29 loss to FCS opponent Fordham. The Owls broke into the win column with a 33-14 victory over Army on Saturday, and freshman quarterback P.J. Walker is a promising player for Rhule to build around. Temple won only four games last season and was picked near the bottom of the American Athletic Conference for 2013. Rhule didn’t have a total rebuild project on his hands, but he also didn’t inherit a ton of talent to work with. 
27Sean Kugler



Scoring points hasn’t been a problem for UTEP, ranking third in Conference USA with an average of 31.2 points a game. But stopping opposing offenses has been a real challenge for the Miners, as opponents are scoring 37.7 points a game against Kugler’s team. UTEP’s only win came against New Mexico State, but it has lost two games by a touchdown or less. Quarterback Jameill Showers and freshman running back Aaron Jones are two promising pieces for Kugler to build around for the second half of 2013. 
28Doug Martin



This is not an easy job. New Mexico State has only two winning seasons since 1995 and has not won more than four games since 2004. Martin needs time to upgrade the talent and change the culture in Las Cruces and moving to the Sun Belt next year will help. The Aggies lost by 20 or more points in six out of their seven losses, but the schedule lightens in the second half with games against Abilene Christian, Idaho and FAU. 
29Ron Turner



Firing Mario Cristobal for Ron Turner is still one of the biggest head-scratchers in recent coaching moves. The Panthers had a lot of roster turnover from last year, and it was expected this team would struggle against its BCS opponents. However, FIU was dominated by FCS opponent Bethune-Cookman, and if it wasn’t for a sloppy effort by Southern Miss, the Golden Panthers would be 0-6. The program is also struggling at the ticket office, as FIU ranks 122nd nationally with an average of 15,492 fans per game.
30Todd Monken



A once-proud program has fallen on hard times. Ellis Johnson was fired after losing all 12 games at Southern Miss last year, and Monken has been forced to clean up the mess. The Golden Eagles were dominated by Boise State, Nebraska, Arkansas and East Carolina and lost by a touchdown or less to Texas State and FIU. Losing to FIU – a team that lost to FCS opponent Bethune-Cookman earlier in the year – was inexcusable. Southern Miss has an 18-game losing streak headed into Week 9. 
31P.J. Fleck



Fleck brought some much-needed enthusiasm and energy to Western Michigan. However, the product on the field hasn’t quite matched the offseason buzz. The Broncos lost a few key players to injury – namely sophomore receiver Jaime Wilson – but are 0-8 and lost to FCS opponent Nicholls State in Week 2. Western Michigan has lost by 20 or more points five times in 2013. 


Grading College Football's First-Year Coaches After Week 8
Post date: Wednesday, October 23, 2013 - 07:15
All taxonomy terms: College Football, News
Path: /college-football/outrageous-college-football-predictions-week-9

The beauty of sports, in particular college football, lies in their complete unpredictability and reality TV-like drama. As I predicted last week, ranked SEC teams on the road were in serious danger of being upset, and, sure enough, four of them lost.  Here's what might happen in Week 9.

Note: The point of this column is to have some fun and make some outlandish predictions. Please react accordingly.

Three more unbeatens will go down
In each of the last two weeks, at least three previously undefeated teams lost. That could happen again in Week 9. No. 10 Texas Tech goes on the road this weekend to face Oklahoma in its toughest test to date. No. 5 Missouri has to host an angry South Carolina team. No. 3 Oregon has its toughest test to date against UCLA. No. 4 Ohio State hosts Big Ten rival Penn State at home. No. 1 Alabama is facing an arch rival who is showing marked improvement. And No. 17 Fresno State has a tricky road test against San Diego State. There is a very good chance three of the aforementioned unbeatens will lose this weekend (no, it won't be Bama or Ohio State).

Clemson will win by five touchdowns
Tajh Boyd is coming off arguably the worst performance of his career after watching the Seminoles abuse his Tigers in all aspects of the game on Saturday night. So fans should expect to see an angry Boyd and focused Clemson team this weekend on the road against Maryland. The Terps have an injured quarterback in C.J. Brown and lost its top two playmakers for the year last week in Stefon Diggs and Deon Long. This was a 45-10 Clemson win in Death Valley last year and fans should expect much of the same this time around.

Marcus Mariota will become the 8th 400-100 player in NCAA history
BYU’s Taysom Hill became just the seventh player in NCAA history to throw for at least 400 yards (417) and rush for at least 100 (128) in the same game against Houston last weekend. Oregon's quarterback could become the eighth this weekend in a much bigger stage against much better competition. Mariota is fifth nationally in total offense (363.4 ypg) and has been electric all season long both through the air (181.72 rating) and on the ground (70.4 rypg). The Bruins just gave up their most yards this fall (419) against Stanford and have never faced the Ducks' outstanding quarterback. With De’Anthony Thomas back on the field, there should be plenty of open space for Mariota.

Baylor will challenge Georgia Tech’s scoring record
The Yellow Jackets famously defeated Cumberland College 222-0 on Oct. 7, 1916. It is the current, single-game NCAA scoring record. But if any team will ever tio challenge the record, or more reasonably, score 100 points for the first time since Houston beat Tulsa 100-6 in 1968, it would be this weekend in Lawrence. Baylor has scored 70 points four times in six games (and 69 points in another contest) and has topped 700 yards of offense in four of those contests. Kansas, who threw for 16 total yards last week against Oklahoma, has allowed 115 points in three Big 12 games this year. Charlie Weis’ squad will have no answer for the Bears on Saturday and don’t be shocked to see a third digit on the scoreboard.

Sean Mannion will throw more than 1 pass against Stanford
After losing the starting job last year to Cody Vaz due to a knee injury, Mannion got to throw one pass in the emotional 27-23 road loss to Stanford. As the nation’s leading passer, it’s safe to assume that Mannion (427.4 ypg) will attempt more than one pass against the Cardinal at home this weekend. He is No. 2 in the nation with 334 attempts, leads the nation in TDs (29) and is No. 2 in completions (229). Stanford better be ready.

Illinois will end its 16-game Big Ten losing streak
The 6-1, 3-0 Michigan State Spartans are coming to town to play Illinois and their on-going, 16-game conference losing streak. Why is this the week the streak comes to an end? Despite showing signs of life, the Spartans' offense returned to normalcy last weekend against lowly Purdue by gaining just 294 yards and managing one touchdown. The Illini were blown out by Wisconsin but still scored 32 points and gained nearly 400 yards against one of the highest-ranked defenses in the Big Ten. Look for Tim Beckman and Nathan Scheelhaase to have a signature moment at home this weekend.

Someone will win the Kentucky-Mississippi State game
Yes, I know, it’s far fetched, but true. Someone will actually have to win the Kentucky-Mississippi State Thursday night game. The Wildcats have lost four straight overall and 11 straight SEC games while the Bulldogs have lost six of their last seven conference games. So these two are a combined 1-13 in their last 14 SEC games with the only win coming against Arkansas. State has won four straight in the series overall against the Wildcats.

Outrageous College Football Predictions: Week 9
Post date: Wednesday, October 23, 2013 - 07:15
Path: /college-football/oregon-or-florida-state-which-team-should-be-ranked-no-2

With the first release of the BCS standings, the debate over who should play in the national championship has already started.

Alabama is a clear No. 1 in the BCS standings, but Florida State and Oregon aren’t separated by much for the No. 2 spot. The Seminoles are No. 2 after destroying Clemson 51-14 last Saturday, but the Ducks have ground to gain in the computer polls.

A lot can happen in college football over the next seven weeks, so it’s no guarantee the Seminoles and Ducks finish unbeaten. However, if those two teams and Alabama have a perfect record in December, it will be an intriguing debate to see who plays in Pasadena in early January.

Oregon or Florida State: Which Team Should be Ranked No. 2 Behind Alabama?

Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
I would give a slight edge to Florida State for the No. 2 spot – for now. The Seminoles’ win over Clemson on Saturday was the most-convincing victory over a top-10 team so far this year. Florida State is no longer rebuilding when personnel departs for the NFL, as the Seminoles have better depth than at any point under coach Jimbo Fisher. Quarterback Jameis Winston is outstanding, but the defense deserves some credit, especially with a new coordinator and seven new starters stepping into the lineup this year. If you throw out the FCS opponents both teams have played, Florida State’s opponents have a tougher win/loss record 21-12 to 18-24 for Oregon. However, the upcoming schedule favors the Ducks, as Stanford, Oregon State and UCLA should all be ranked among the top 20 teams in the nation when they play Oregon. The Seminoles still have to play Miami and could rematch against the Hurricanes or face Virginia Tech in the ACC Championship, but there’s not another likely top-25 matchup, and rival Florida is struggling just to get bowl eligible. I’m not a huge fan of the playoff, but it would be a shame to see Florida State or Oregon get left out of the picture if both finish unbeaten this year. As I mentioned previously, the edge at No. 2 for now needs to go to Florida State. But at the end of the year, if both teams are unbeaten, the resume favors the Ducks.

Braden Gall (@BradenGall)
Right now, it’s understandable that Florida State is No. 2 in the BCS, and a great debate could be had as to which team is more talented, better coached, etc. But if both teams run the table and win their conference championships, then the Oregon Ducks deserve to be ahead of the Seminoles in the final standings. The Ducks play a dramatically more difficult schedule as games with UCLA, Stanford, Oregon State, Utah and Arizona still remain, while Florida State has Miami and a reeling Florida team. The quarterbacks are comparable. The head coaches are comparable. The offensive numbers and margins of victory are comparable. But the strength of schedule is not even close. Oregon went on the road and beat ACC foe Virginia 59-10 in Week 2 and that might be the 11th toughest game the Ducks play this season. Florida State has six "Virginias" on its schedule by the name of Boston College, Wake Forest, Syracuse, NC State, Pitt and Maryland.

David Fox (@DavidFox615)
I am going to do some major equivocating here. Florida State deserves to be No. 2 right now. However, if both teams remain undefeated, Oregon won’t just have a claim to being No. 2, but a legitimate claim for the top spot. If you’re asking which team is the better one, it’s impossible to know at this point of the season. Certainly, we’ve seen this nucleus at Oregon succeed over a longer period of time than the one at Florida State. I may pick Oregon on a neutral field. That said, Florida State has achieved more this season so far than Oregon. The schedules are comparable, if Florida State’s hasn’t been a bit tougher so far. The Clemson win alone was more impressive than any single win by a title contender against another good team that we’ve seen this season. As much as Jameis Winston deserves accolades, the defense was just as dominant on the road against the Tigers. Oregon was just as dominant against rival Washington on the road, but the Huskies haven’t distinguished themselves since. That said, Oregon over the final five games faces five teams ranked in the top 30 of Jeff Sagarin’s predictor rankings (i.e., the rankings taking margin of victory into account, not the ranking used in the BCS). Florida State faces three of those teams all year. Provided every possible undefeated team stays that way at the end of the year, Oregon deserves that No. 1 spot as much as any ... just not No. 2 as of Oct. 23.

Mark Ross
No team was more impressive this past weekend in college football than Florida State. The Seminoles, behind redshirt freshman sensation Jameis Winston, completely and utterly dominated the then-No. 3 ranked Tigers in Death Valley. That said, I would still side with Oregon for the No. 2 position behind Alabama because the Ducks have been just as dominant as the 'Noles, and I think, the Pac-12 conference, top-to-bottom, is better when compared to the ACC this season. As good as Jimbo Fisher's team looked this past Saturday, they got a bit of a scare at Boston College a few weeks ago, eventually pulling away in the second half for a 48-34 win. Oregon's smallest margin of victory so far has been a 21-point win at then-No. 16 Washington. There are a lot of similarities between both of these teams (Heisman-contending, dual-threat quarterbacks, explosive offenses, solid, all-around defenses), so I don't think you can go wrong with either team at No. 2. Still, if I had to cast my vote, I would take Mark Helfrich and his high-flying Ducks.

Oregon or Florida State: Which team should be ranked No. 2?
Post date: Wednesday, October 23, 2013 - 07:15
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-2013-14-wisconsin-preview

This preview and more on Wisconsin and the Big Ten are available in the Athlon Sports 2013-14 College Basketball Preseason Annual. The magazine is available online or on newsstands everywhere.

No. 22 Wisconsin Facts & Figures
Last season: 23-12 (12-6 Big Ten)
Postseason: NCAA Round of 64
Coach: Bo Ryan (291-113 at Wisconsin)
Big Ten projection: Fourth
Postseason projection: NCAA Round of 32
Sam Dekker was in a foul mood after his freshman season at Wisconsin ended with a shorter-than-expected stay in the postseason. UW has advanced to the NCAA Tournament in each of Bo Ryan’s 12 seasons leading the program, but 2012-13 marked only the second time during that span that the Badgers failed to win a game once they got there.

Dekker called a 57–46 loss to Ole Miss a “bulletin-board game” for the returning Badgers entering the offseason. But his spirits picked up considerably during the summer when he’d walk into the Kohl Center and see several of his teammates — even the newcomers — already hard at work. “We just have a really, really hard-working bunch that’s not going to back down from much at all,” Dekker says.

UW’s roster includes six freshmen and two returning players who missed last season due to injuries. To help get the Badgers up to speed as quickly as possible, Ryan scheduled a series of five exhibition games in Canada in August. The trip allowed UW to hold 10 additional practices over the summer.


The Badgers must replace all three starters. While center Jared Berggren and forwards Ryan Evans and Mike Bruesewitz had their share of struggles on offense in 2012-13, they were solid rebounders and the leaders of a defense that statistically was among the best during Ryan’s successful run at UW. Junior Frank Kaminsky, a reserve during his first two seasons, will be expected to take over at center for Berggren, the program’s all-time leader in blocked shots. Kaminsky can stretch defenses with his ability to knock down shots from 3-point range, but he needs to be stronger around the rim on both ends of the court.

Dekker will move into a starting — and perhaps starring — role after being a sparkplug off the bench during his first season with the Badgers. The dynamic forward averaged 9.6 points per game, the most by a UW freshman since Alando Tucker’s 12.0 in 2002-03.

Finding a third starter and some depth in the post will likely be Ryan’s biggest challenge heading into the season. Junior forward Duje Dukan, who redshirted last season after dealing with a bout of mononucleosis during the preseason conditioning session, senior forward Zach Bohannon and junior center Evan Anderson have to prove they’re ready for expanded roles. UW likely will need Vitto Brown and Nigel Hayes to make significant contributions as freshmen. If Brown and Hayes can earn Ryan’s trust as defenders, one of them could find a place in the starting lineup.

2013-14 Conference Previews
ACC | American | Big 12 | Big East
Big Ten | Mountain West | Pac-12 | SEC


The Badgers return four guards with starting experience. Junior Josh Gasser started 66 games at shooting guard during his first two seasons and was ready to take over as the Badgers’ point guard in 2012-13 before sustaining a season-ending knee injury in late October. Gasser, who makes good decisions, shoots well from 3-point range and is a great defender, expects to be back in time for the 2013-14 opener.

Senior Ben Brust averaged a team-high 11.1 points per game in his first season as a starter. After being mostly a spot-up shooter during the first half of his career, Brust became a more complete player and was arguably UW’s most valuable asset a year ago.

George Marshall replaced Gasser at point guard to start the season, but he was replaced after six games by Traevon Jackson. Jackson, a junior, has a knack for making clutch plays in close games, but he needs to improve his shot selection and ball-handling. If Marshall, a sophomore, can overcome confidence issues, he can help the Badgers on offense because he’s quick enough to get to the rim and has a nice shooting stroke. Freshman Bronson Koenig, a terrific passer who might be able to help UW score in transition more often, adds to a deep backcourt.


UW went into Ohio to land a pair of athletic forwards in Vitto Brown and Nigel Hayes, who should battle for playing time in the Badgers’ depleted frontcourt. Bronson Koenig is a flashy point guard who will be tough to keep off the floor. Riley Dearring is a good shooter but probably needs a redshirt season to add muscle to his thin frame. Redshirting might also be the best option for Jordan Hill, who is a tenacious defender but needs to work on his offensive game.

Final analysis
Factoid: 12.
Wisconsin has finished no worse than fourth place in the Big Ten in each of Bo Ryan’s 12 seasons. The Badgers finished fourth or better only three times in the 34 seasons prior to Ryan taking over the program.

UW finished with its lowest field goal, free throw and 3-point shooting averages in Ryan’s 12 seasons but still finished with seven victories over teams ranked in the top 15 of the AP poll. The Badgers should be better offensively with Dekker becoming the team’s go-to scorer, but UW’s success — and Dekker’s mood heading into the next offseason — will depend on how much Kaminsky and others step up in the frontcourt.

2013-14 Preseason Top 25
22. Wisconsin
23. UCLA
24. Baylor
25. Wichita State

College Basketball: 2013-14 Wisconsin Preview
Post date: Wednesday, October 23, 2013 - 07:00
Path: /nfl/2013-nfl-power-rankings-week-7

Ranking all 32 NFL teams, from the lone undefeated Kansas City Chiefs to the still-winless  Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Jacksonville Jaguars.

1. Chiefs (7-0) Brian Cushing has “respect” for Jamaal Charles.

2. Colts (5-2) Lose Reggie Wayne (ACL) for year in win vs. Broncos.

3. Broncos (6-1) Peyton Manning loses homecoming in Indianapolis.

4. Saints (5-1) Status of injured Jimmy Graham (foot) uncertain.

5. Seahawks (6-1) Defense swarms Arizona with seven sacks, two INTs.

6. 49ers (5-2) Colin Kaepernick sprints to fourth straight victory.

7. Packers (4-2) Jermichael Finley “walking” after scary neck injury.

8. Jets (4-3) Nick Folk misses from 56, hits from 42 to beat Pats.

9. Patriots (5-2) Unsportsmanlike conduct flag gives Jets new life.

10. Bengals (5-2) Mike Nugent hits last-second 54-yard game-winner.

11. Lions (4-3) Megatron highlight-reel 50-yard TD highlights loss.

12. Cowboys (4-3) DeMarcus Ware (quadriceps) misses first game ever.

13. Eagles (3-4) Nick Foles leaves loss to Cowboys with concussion.

14. Falcons (2-4) Harry Douglas steps up for Julio Jones, Roddy White.

15. Redskins (2-4) Brandon Meriweather suspended for illegal hitting.

16. Bears (4-3) Jay Cutler (groin), Lance Briggs (shoulder) injured.

17. Titans (3-4) Return man Darius Reynaud cut after latest muff.

18. Chargers (4-3) Own time-of-possession (37:30-to-22:30) vs. Jags.

19. Steelers (2-4) Big Ben earns 28th fourth-quarter comeback win.

20. Ravens (3-4) After hip injury, Ray Rice says he’s got “burst back.”

21. Panthers (3-3) Captain Munnerlyn has pick-six on game’s first play.

22. Rams (3-4) Auditioning QBs after Sam Bradford’s ACL injury.

23. Cardinals (3-4) Carson Palmer has thrown 11 INTs in last five games.

24. Texans (2-5) Brian Cushing suffers broken fibula, torn LCL in loss.

25. Bills (3-4) Snap six-game road losing streak with win in Miami.

26. Dolphins (3-3) Trade conditional ’14 draft pick for Bryant McKinnie.

27. Raiders (2-4) Terrelle Pryor works with QB guru Tom House on bye.

28. Browns (3-4) Brandon Weeden on hot seat after latest struggles.

29. Giants (1-6) Eli Manning throws zero INTs for first time this year.

30. Vikings (1-5) Josh Freeman not ready for prime time on MNF.

31. Buccaneers (0-6) Debate over Doug Martin labrum injury continues.

32. Jaguars (0-7) Have lost every game this season by double digits.

Ranking all 32 NFL teams, from the unbeaten Chiefs to the winless Bucs and Jaguars.
Post date: Tuesday, October 22, 2013 - 19:17
All taxonomy terms: NFL
Path: /nfl/prime-time-players-week-7

Andrew Luck, QB, Colts
The heir to the horseshoe throne in Indy, Luck spoiled Peyton Manning’s homecoming in prime time on Sunday night. The second-year phenom passed for 228 yards, three TDs and zero INTs, while scrambling for 29 yards and one TD on the ground during a 39–33 victory over the Broncos, snapping Denver’s 17-game regular-season winning streak. The Colts bounced back from a Week 6 loss at San Diego and have not lost consecutive games since Luck took over for Manning under center at Lucas Oil Stadium last season.

Tamba Hali, LB, Chiefs
Kansas City’s defense terrorized Houston in a 17–16 victory at Arrowhead Stadium. Hali led the way with 2.5 sacks for 29 lost yards as well as a pair of forced fumbles — the second of which was recovered by linebacker Derrick Johnson late in the fourth quarter to seal the Chiefs’ win. With a 7–0 start, Kansas City has all but assured its first trip to the playoffs since 2010. Of the 31 teams to start 7–0 in the Super Bowl era, all 31 made the playoffs, 15 advanced to Super Sunday and nine raised the Vince Lombardi Trophy.

A.J. Green, WR, Bengals
In an epic battle of arguably the league’s top two wide receivers, Green had the last laugh against the Lions’ Calvin Johnson, winning 27–24 at Detroit. Green posted six catches for 155 yards (25.8 ypc) and an 82-yard TD, while Megatron finished with nine catches for an identical 155 yards (17.2 ypc) and two trips to the end zone. After the game, the duo exchanged jerseys as a sign of mutual respect.

Ryan Mathews, RB, Chargers
Sure it was against the winless Jaguars, but Mathews had one of his better days as a pro during a 24–6 road win at Jacksonville — which came on short rest following a Monday night win over the Colts last week. The fourth-year back out of Fresno State had 21 carries for a Week 7-best 110 yards and one TD, his first rushing score since Oct. 7 last season.

The best performances in the NFL from Week 7.
Post date: Tuesday, October 22, 2013 - 18:52
Path: /nascar/nascar-numbers-game-5-amazing-stats-martinsville

The Jimmie Johnson-Matt Kenseth battle atop the current NASCAR Sprint Cup Series point standings takes an interesting turn this weekend at Martinsville Speedway. Johnson and his No. 48 team were dominant in the last 13 races (spanning the entire CoT era and the first Martinsville race of the Gen-6’s existence), winning six times, most recently the 2013 spring race, and finishing inside the top five 10 times. Without much thought, it’s easy to cede this fight to Johnson.

Kenseth might be in better shape than a first impression suggests, though.

While it’s true that Kenseth’s past efforts at Martinsville look rather ordinary — his Production in Equal Equipment Rating (PEER) at Martinsville ranks a humdrum 14th out of 49 drivers with four or more starts — compared to Johnson’s Superman-like record, it is Kenseth’s ride, not his past production, that should garner the attention.

Does the fact that Kenseth, who now drives for Joe Gibbs Racing, a winner of four Martinsville races since 2007, matter?

15.2  The average finish of all Roush Fenway Racing drivers in Martinsville races dating back to 2011 is 15.2. The average for all JGR drivers in that span is 15.29, an almost identical tally.  Matt Kenseth and Denny Hamlin

Martinsville, as tracks a mile and under typically do, highlight a driver’s ability at that specific track more than most other facilities in the sport. Johnson is an inherently good Martinsville driver. Ditto for the likes of Denny Hamlin (ranks second in PEER) and Jeff Gordon (third). Their results are straightforward and in many cases at Martinsville, the car takes on the persona of the driver, which is why JGR’s big swings and misses by the likes of Hamlin and Kyle Busch, two aggression aficionados, affected their average result the last three years. The more balanced race-to-race nature of Kenseth and Greg Biffle at Roush wasn’t studly, but was certainly steady in past Martinsville events.

Still, Kenseth might feel the need to take a more aggressive approach this time out, considering what occurred in the spring at Martinsville.

92.556 MPH  Kenseth’s 92.556 mph average was the fifth-best average green-flag speed in the April race at Martinsville, his first there in JGR equipment.

Of the eight fastest drivers in that race, per average green-flag speed, Kenseth was the only one who failed to finish in the top eight (he earned a 14th-place result), meaning the potential for a better finish existed.

Another reason why that miles-per-hour mark and the high ranking are so important is that his average green-flag speed ranking in the four Martinsville races prior to April’s event was 17th. Though organization-wide results might not indicate it, Kenseth’s JGR entry is a much faster Martinsville piece than the one to which he grew accustomed at Roush.

53.85%  Kurt Busch has finished in the top half of fields at Martinsville in just seven of the last 13 races (53.85 percent of the time).

Busch is bad at Martinsville. He and his Furniture Row Racing team admitted as much, using one of their allocated testing days there earlier this month. Just how bad is Busch on “The Paperclip?” In the CoT/Gen-6 era, he hasn’t finished higher than 12th there (he holds a 23.2-place average finish during that time frame) and scored a single-digit average running position (ninth) just once. In terms of PEER, he ranks 48th out of 49 drivers ahead of just David Stremme. In the past, the place used to play host to some of Busch’s more fervent mid-race meltdowns, but the proactive decision to test could alleviate some of the typical headaches. A strong run this weekend by him would amount to an impressive exorcism of his personal mental block with the track.

7.8  With Richard Petty Motorsports’ release of crew chief Todd Parrott, the most consistent top-20 team in the Cup Series (per its 7.8 finish deviation and 17.2-place average finish) has been officially broken up.

Aric Almirola’s No. 43 team wasn’t mighty with Parrott at the helm, but was dependable, ranking fifth in relevance percentage (finishes inside the top half of fields) this season before Parrott’s suspension for violating NASCAR’s substance abuse policy. The release of Parrott, announced Tuesday morning, is a blow to Almirola’s development and the team’s progression considering the mammoth strides the team made when Parrott was assigned the lead role prior to the 2012 Chase. Greg Ebert, the car chief under Parrott, will assume the role of crew chief beginning with this weekend’s race.

65.52%  Dale Earnhardt Jr. is the best closer in NASCAR per NASCAR’s closer ratings; however the No. 88 team’s base retainment percentage at the finish of races is 65.52 percent, which ranks 24th among full-time Cup teams.  Dale Earnhardt Jr.

How does such a discrepancy exist? When Earnhardt gains positions, he really gains; his plus-12.9 percent gain in the final 10 percent of races is a series best. Whether he retains or gains position from each race’s 90-percent mark is of greater concern. Relative to the rest of the series, he is a below average late-race position retainer. Once his late-race defense improves, that closer number will directly lead to improved production, team results and, inevitably, point standings finishes.

For PEER and other metrics with which you may be unfamiliar, check out David’s glossary of terms on

David Smith is the founder of Motorsports Analytics LLC and the creator of NASCAR statistics for projections, analysis and scouting. Follow him on Twitter at @DavidSmithMA.

Photos by Actions Sports, Inc.


David Smith crunches the numbers for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series' Goody's Headache Relief Shot 500 at Martinsville Speedway.
Post date: Tuesday, October 22, 2013 - 16:21
All taxonomy terms: Bull riding, College Football, News
Path: /news/silvano-alves-seeks-record-third-straight-pbr-title-world-finals
Silvano Alven PBR ChampSilvano Alves gently eases himself down onto a near-ton of snorting muscle inside the padded metal chute. In an instant he’s thrown sickeningly headfirst over the animal’s horns into the chute front; not once, but twice. There is concern on the rider’s face, mercifully protected now by a grilled metal helmet that has replaced the once-traditional cowboy hat. He backs off the bull momentarily to gather himself.
Soon after—3.37 seconds to be exact—Alves is ingloriously tossed to the turf by the bull named Stone Sober, whose own worksheet is impressive: only once in 25 tries has he been successfully ridden. Another fact becomes abundantly clear: A bucking bull doesn’t discern a two-time consecutive world champion on its back from the rawest greenhorn.
While Alves miraculously avoided serious injury at that Professional Bull Rider’s (PBR) tour stop in Thackerville, Okla., earlier in the year, the native Brazilian rider is the rugged sport’s on-going sensation and the outright favorite to make it three world championships in succession―an unprecedented feat―at the PBR World Finals at Las Vegas on Oct. 23-27.
“Silvano was born to ride bulls,” says his friend, fellow PBR competitor and frequent translator Guilherme Marchi, the 2008 PBR world champion. “He is very focused and he loves what he does.”
That love sprung to life for Alves, born and raised in the Brazilian town of Pilar do Sul, a city of close to 26,000 people within the state of Sao Paulo, from watching his father and uncles ride bulls. 
“I remember they supported me a lot,” Alves, 25, says. When he was 13, in 2000, young Silvano mounted his first bull at “the home of a friend on my first bull training.”
 PBR World Finals 
Las Vegas, NV
Oct. 23-27 
Alves’ popularity on the PBR circuit has brought even more increased awareness of the sport to his native land. Today, 25 bull riders with Brazilian roots grace the 100-rider PBR roster. Should Alves three-peat as champion this week, five of the last six PBR world titlists will have come from Brazil.
“It started for us when Adriano Moraes (1994), Paulo Crimber (1998), Ednei Caminhas (2000), and André Moraes (2001) came to the United States and had success,” says Marchi of the cavalcade of Brazilian riders that preceded his own PBR debut in 2004. “We had success because of the bull riders that came before us. We were very interested by their successes, the quality of life, and the financial rewards we could have.”
Alves launched his impressive PBR career in 2010, winning Rookie of the Year honors and wasting no time building his championship legacy, which began the following year. “Winning in 2011 was a dream come true, it was very emotional,” says Alves, a family man and devout Christian, who now lives with his wife, Evelin, and two children Hanyelle, 4, and Edward, 2, in Decatur, Texas.
“The second time was more emotional for me, because winning back to back championships had never been done before.”
And a third straight title is in the crosshairs. “I do not know if I will win,” he says, “but I am certainly working toward that, though all the riders are riding very well. Only God knows what will happen.”
By Alan Ross
Silvano Alves seeks a record third straight PBR title at World Finals.
Post date: Tuesday, October 22, 2013 - 16:18
All taxonomy terms: College Football, News
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-link-roundup-october-22

Gearing up for another busy week of college football action...

Contact us on twitter with a link or a tip we should include each day. (@AthlonSteven)

College Football's Must-Read Stories Around the Web for Tuesday, October 22nd

Ole Miss tight end Evan Engram will miss the rest of the season after ankle surgery.

Louisville plans to keep assistant Clint Hurtt, despite his inclusion in the NCAA's report against Miami.

Lost Lettermen takes a look at the five worst fanbases in college football.

Georgia could be getting a few key players healthy for the matchup against Florida in two weeks.

There could be 40 bowl games in 2014 and a new one is popping up in Miami

Will it be Baker Mayfield or Davis Webb under center for Texas Tech this week?

Alabama safety Vinnie Sunseri is out for the rest of the year due to a knee injury.

Texas quarterback David Ash has been ruled out of Saturday's game against TCU as he continues to recover from a concussion.

Virginia coach Mike London received the vote of confidence from his athletic director.

Michigan offensive lineman Joey Burzynski will miss the rest of the year due to a torn ACL.

Tulsa may change quarterbacks this week, as Cody Green is dealing with an injury.

College Football's Link Roundup: October 22
Post date: Tuesday, October 22, 2013 - 16:05
Path: /college-football/athlon-sports-cover-2-college-football-podcast-week-9

Two big developments off the field have us talking NCAA and BCS, but we quickly get back to the games at hand during Week 9.

• Four years since Miami began its internal investigation and two years since Yahoo’s story on Nevin Shapiro, the Hurricanes finally had their day with the NCAA. Braden Gall and David Fox discuss if the punishment was what they expected and what happens forward.

• Florida State moved ahead of Oregon for the first BCS rankings, but who really deserves a championship spot if both are undefeated? And why was Ohio State the big loser in all of this (and why the Buckeyes may still be a big winner).

• The Pac-12 vs. SEC debate for top conference gets a run. One host unequivocally says the Pac-12 is better this year while another is an SEC holdout.

• Missouri’s rise continues to surprise, but the Tigers could all but wrap up the SEC East this week.

The podcast can be found on, iTunes and our podcast RSS feed.

Please send any comments, questions and podcast topics to @AthlonSports, @BradenGall and @DavidFox615 on Twitter.

Debating the top of the BCS rankings, plus news on Miami and Missouri
Post date: Tuesday, October 22, 2013 - 14:19
Path: /mlb/world-series-preview-st-louis-cardinals-vs-boston-red-sox

St. Louis Cardinals vs. Boston Red Sox
This is the first time the two teams with their league’s best records have met in the Fall Classic since the Yankees defeated the Braves in 1999. Both the Red Sox and Cardinals won 97 games. These two teams have proven to be among the best in baseball all season, and this series has all the signs of a long, competitive, down-to-the-wire World Series.

Both teams won their League Championship Series in six games with pitching as their hallmark. Neither team hit particularly well in two series dominated by pitching. Both Boston and St. Louis were opportunistic and capitalized on their opponents’ miscues.

There will be no room for error in this series. Both teams must be sharp in the field and on the bases. A small mistake can mean the difference in one game, and one game will likely be the difference in the series.
There is significant World Series experience in both dugouts, especially among position players. Lance Lynn and Adam Wainwright of St. Louis, and Jon Lester and John Lackey of Boston are the only pitchers on the two rosters to appear for winning teams in a previous World Series.

Baseball could not ask for a better matchup in the Fall Classic this season.

World Series 20132013 World Series Schedule

Game 1    Wed., Oct. 23    St. Louis at Boston    8:07    Fox    
                  Adam Wainwright (19-9)    Jon Lester (15-8)

Game 2    Thur., Oct. 24    St. Louis at Boston    8:07    Fox    
                  Michael Wacha (4-1)    John Lackey (10-13)

Game 3    Sat., Oct. 26    Boston at St. Louis    8:07    Fox    
                  Clay Buchholz (12-1)    Joe Kelly (10-5)

Game 4    Sun., Oct. 27    Boston at St. Louis    8:15    Fox
                  Jake Peavy (12-5)    Lance Lynn (15-10)

Game 5    Mon., Oct. 28    Boston at St. Louis    8:07    Fox
Game 6    Wed., Oct. 30    St. Louis at Boston    8:07    Fox
Game 7    Wed., Oct. 30    St. Louis at Boston    8:07    Fox


St. Louis Cardinals
The Cardinals’ success usually begins at the top with leadoff hitter Matt Carpenter. He led the majors with 199 hits, 121 runs and 55 doubles. St. Louis has been without its best RBI man in Allen Craig, out with a foot injury, since early September. He will make his first appearance of this postseason in the World Series, and the Cardinals desperately need an offensive spark.

Veteran Adam Wainwright is still considered the ace, but rookie Michael Wacha has been the best starter in the postseason. Matheny gave Wacha the ball in the Cardinals’ must-win NLDS Game 4 at Pittsburgh. Wacha has allowed just one run in 21 innings, helping him to earn NLCS MVP honors.

The Cardinals began the season with their closer Jason Motte on the shelf with Tommy John surgery. Edward Mujica stepped up and paced the club with 37 saves. He hit a wall in September and crashed and burned. Trevor Rosenthal, with three regular-season saves, has been perfect in the postseason. The Cardinals have a small army of young, power arms at their disposal.

With the return of Craig, the Cardinals’ bench improves dramatically. While Matt Adams has done an admirable job filling in for Craig at first base, his absence leaves Matheny with no hammer off the bench. Craig will likely DH at Boston and come off the bench in St. Louis.

The Cardinals made the fewest errors this season in team history, but that is not the whole story. Range is limited all over the field except in center, and the aging Carlos Beltran is the only outfielder with a good arm. Catcher Yadier Molina, one of the best all-time behind the plate, will be asked to shut down Boston’s running game, which should be a fascinating battle.

Keys to Winning
St. Louis is experienced in the postseason and has a manager that keeps them focused on the game at hand. The Cardinals posted the best average with runners in scoring postion of all-time (.330) during the season. They hit just .192 in that situation against the Pirates in the NLDS, and .349 in the NLCS. They proved to the Pirates and Dodgers that they could win games without a dominant offense. The Cardinals rely on young pitchers in key spots, namely Wacha and Rosenthal. The bullpen in front of Rosenthal will be a factor in this series and could be the Cardinals’ Achilles heel.

Players to Watch
Matheny expects to get two quality starts from both Wainwright and Wacha, and run production from Beltran, who relishes hitting in the postseason. In addition to Beltran, consistent production from Matt Holliday, David Freese and Molina would be huge. And how Rosenthal and other young relievers like Kevin Siegrist and Carlos Martinez respond in clutch situations — especially at Fenway Park — may determine the outcome of the series.

Boston Red Sox
The Red Sox led the majors in runs and OPS during the regular season, but were stymied by Detroit pitching in the ALCS. Boston is batting just .236 in the postseason and show little resemblance to the potent lineup that took the field all summer. Jacoby Ellsbury has been a threat from the leadoff spot with a .467 OBP and six stolen bases in the postseason. With Ellsbury on base, the lineup revolves around Big Papi, David Ortiz. The bottom of the order has provided very little help in the playoffs.

Clay Buchholz won his first 12 decisions this year, before missing three months with an injury. Both he and Jon Lester have been everything the Red Sox had hoped for in the postseason. John Lackey, no stranger to World Series success, has given the Sox a lift. Jake Peavy hasn’t been sharp and doesn’t have a good history against the Cardinals.

The bullpen has been the strength of the team in the playoffs, led by ALCS MVP Koji Uehara. The pen is deeper than the Cardinals’ relief corps, so the Boston starters shouldn’t feel undue pressure to go deep into games.

Mike Napoli, a catcher-turned-first baseman, will likely come off the bench in Games 3, 4 and 5 in St. Louis. There is an option to put him behind the plate, but he hasn’t caught any games this season. Manager John Farrell can mix and match a few positions, namely left field and third base. Left fielders Daniel Nava, a switch-hitter, and Jonny Gomes, who hits southpaws well, provide Farrell with late-inning options. Xander Bogaerts and Will Middlebrooks will share the hot corner most likely.

The Red Sox outfield defense is strong with Ellsbury in center and Shane Victorino in right. In the infield Stephen Drew is a solid shortstop and Dustin Pedroia is one of the best in the business at second. It will be interesting to see how well Ortiz handles himself at first base at St. Louis.

Keys to Winning
The Red Sox are tough to beat at Fenway Park as the Rays and Tigers have found out recently. The ballpark has been magical for the Red Sox this century. The Red Sox must hold serve in the first two games. Boston’s bat slumber better be over because if they don’t wake up, the St. Louis pitchers can dominate. The starting pitching can be inconsistent, especially on the road, so getting quality starts allows the bullpen to take over and slam the door.

Players to Watch
Offensively, Farrell expects the top of the order — Ellsbury, Victorino, Pedroia and Ortiz — to produce. But what the bottom of the order contributes could be a key to the series. The Cardinals have been susceptible to left-handed pitching, and while the return of the right-handed hitting Craig helps, lefties Craig Breslow and Franklin Morales will be called on to get some clutch outs.

Numbers Game
.731    Career slugging percentage for Carlos Beltran of the Cardinals in the postseason. It ranks third all-time behind Babe Ruth (.744) and Lou Gehrig (.731) among players with at least 150 plate appearances in the postseason.

7    Players on the 2013 St. Louis roster who earned a World Series ring in 2011. An eighth, Adam Wainwright, was injured and did not appear in the 2011 World Series, but played a crucial role as the closer for the 2006 champions.

4    Players on the 2013 Boston roster who earned a World Series ring in 2007.

23    Games won in the NLCS since 2000 for St. Louis. No other National League team has played in that many NLCS games during that time.

28    More wins for Boston in 2013 than in 2012. That was the greatest improvement by any team in the majors this season.


PREDICTION: Boston in 7

The St. Louis Cardinals and Boston Red Sox, owners of the two best records in baseball, prepare to stage a classic showdown in the World Series.
Post date: Tuesday, October 22, 2013 - 12:45