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Path: /nascar/fantasy-nascar-picks-watkins-glen-international

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 NASCAR driver classes — A-List, B-List, C-List. The main picks are designed to make optimal use of Yahoo!’s 9-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 up: Cheez-It 355 at The Glen (Watkins Glen International)
Race: 221 miles/90 laps (Track: 2.46 miles)
2012 Winner: Marcos Ambrose

A-List (Pick two, start one)
Brad Keselowski  Brad Keselowski
The defending Cup Series champion rolled to a sixth-place finish at Pocono Sunday in a red car, hopefully capping a streak of generally bad races and bad luck that all started when Keselowski first raced the alternate paint scheme at Richmond in May. Those who have grown hesitant to use the Blue Deuce (and yes, it'll be blue at The Glen) in recent weeks might want to pull him up for Sunday.

Keselowski nearly scored a win at The Glen in 2012 in the melee of a finish that saw Kyle Busch wreck off his nose and Marcos Ambrose beat Keselowski to the line in a frantic last-lap dash. Sunday is his fourth Cup start at the New York track where he has an average finish of eighth. A restart crash plagued his finish at Sonoma earlier this season.

Jimmie Johnson
Don’t expect a dominant Jimmie Johnson Sunday at Watkins Glen, but the statistics say — in Tony Stewart’s absence due to his broken leg suffered Monday night at a sprint car race in Iowa — Johnson figures to be toward the front. Of course, you already knew that.

Johnson has yet to win at Watkins Glen, but he did score a third-place finish last season and has an average running position of 9.8 in the last eight races there. That’s good for second-best among A-List drivers and third overall only behind road course prodigies Stewart and Marcos Ambrose. Johnson also has another thing going for him: He’s completed nearly 80 percent of the last eight Watkins Glen races in the top 15. Believe it or not, without a Tony Stewart around, Johnson might the most consistent and reliable pick.

(Also consider: Clint Bowyer, Jeff Gordon)

B-List (Pick four, start two)
Marcos Ambrose  Marcos Ambrose
If there's a way to start Marcos Ambrose more than once in your lineup Sunday, you should probably investigate the possibility. It's this simple: In five career Watkins Glen starts, the total of his finishing positions is 10. For those counting at home, that's an absurd average finish of second. Second!

Ambrose has won the last two Cup Series races at Watkins Glen, and has a worst finish of third (2008, 2010). Last year, of course, Ambrose took advantage of the crazy finish and oil on the track to skate past Keselowski and Busch for the win. Still, he was in position to take another top-3 finish. Don't get too worried, either, if Ambrose doesn't lead a bunch. He's led just 46 of 452 laps he's raced at Watkins Glen. He’s at the front when it counts.

Kyle Busch
There was steam coming from the radiator of Kyle Busch's car by the time he finished the wild 2012 race at Watkins Glen, and it was a perfect visual metaphor of what Busch was feeling inside the cockpit. The confluence of NASCAR not throwing a yellow and Brad Keselowski's contact meant Busch, who led a race-high 43 laps (including at the white flag) wound up eighth and wrecked by the time the smoke cleared.

Busch should be back with a vengeance this weekend. His average running position in the last eight Watkins Glen race is tied for fourth among all drivers and second among B-List candidates.

Martin Truex Jr.
Remember when Martin Truex Jr. won at Sonoma in June and seemed so convinced that race wins were ready to come to his team in hordes? Well, the Cup Series has raced five times since then and Truex has a single top 10 amid falling four spots in the point standings.

The Glen, though, could be where he at least shows a decent rebound. Obviously, Truex has a stout road course program behind him (Michael Waltrip Racing has won two Sonoma races in a row) and Truex personally has an average Watkins Glen finish of 13.7 in his last seven starts. That's good enough for fourth-best among B-List drivers.

Juan Pablo Montoya
Sunday's outing at Pocono Raceway felt a lot like old times for Juan Pablo Montoya, mainly in that he was too aggressive too early and caused an unnecessary wreck. Old times, then, might be good for the Colombian in the series' return to a road course. Montoya is the most recent Cup Series Watkins Glen winner not named Marcos Ambrose (2010).

Last season, Montoya set the Watkins Glen track record in qualifying and started from the pole. But a broken lower control arm sent him to the garage, ruining a shot at a second win and fifth-straight top-10 finish. Even with two Watkins Glen DNFs, Montoya has spent 80 percent of his laps at the track in the top 15.

(Also consider: Carl Edwards, Kurt Busch, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Brian Vickers)

C-List (Pick two, start one)
Casey Mears
Consistency and performance in the C-List is certainly no given, but you've got to like what Casey Mears will bring to the table Sunday. For starters, Mears was the top-finishing C-List driver in June on the Sonoma road course. More importantly, Mears has been modestly consistently over his career transitions from Hendrick Motorsports to Richard Childress Racing and now to Germain Racing. In the last five Watkins Glen races, Mears has finished between 15th and 20th and always on the lead lap. What more do you want from a C-List driver?

AJ Allmendinger
Allmendinger has been a heavy pick on this list in 2013 despite his part-time role, and he's occasionally laid an egg like he did with his DNF at Pocono Raceway. Sunday at Watkins Glen promises to be different, however. Allmendinger is back in JTG-Daugherty's No. 47 for the weekend in lieu of Bobby Labonte and actually got to test with the team at Watkins Glen just last week. That should fair well with Allmendinger's ninth-place average finishing position in four career Sprint Cup races at the track.

(Also consider: David Stremme, Travis Kvapil)

Follow Geoffrey Miller on Twitter: @GeoffreyMiller

Photos by Actions Sports, Inc.

Marcos Ambrose and Brad Keselowski top the list of fantasy picks for NASCAR's trip to Watkins Glen for the Cheez-It 355 at The Glen.
Post date: Tuesday, August 6, 2013 - 10:57
All taxonomy terms: Essential 11, Overtime
Path: /athlons-essential-11-links-day-august-6-2013

This is your daily link roundup of our favorite sports posts on the web for Aug. 6.


• Wonder if Ashley, the Yankees' hottest fan, was watching A-Rod get booed last night. That's her in the picture. No, A-Rod, you can't have her number.


Jadeveon Clowney has an unfortunate nickname from childhood. I'll end the suspense: It's "Doo Doo." Click to see why.


Celebrating the one-year anniversary of the London Olympics' greatest meme. And no, she's still not impressed.


• Ever wonder what kid stars of old sports movies look like now? Click here and find out.


• Can you say "ti**ies" on television? Apparently, if you're on Family Feud, you can.


A tragedy from the world of bowling involving a premature pin-setter.


• Not entirely safe for work, but here you go: A game of guess the SI swimsuit model butt.


Tiger Woods is the GOAT. Just ask Lindsey Vonn.


Hurdler-turned-bobsledder Lolo Jones live-tweeted her random drug test-slash-birthday party.


The graphics department at ESPN thinks this little leaguer's favorite singer is "Wandai Wrection." Everybody knows they're a band, not a singer.


Enjoy Arianny Celeste's calendar shoot in GIF form.


• Watch a couple of Mormon missionaries in ties school some dudes on a playground, complete with pre-game bricks to induce a false sense of security.




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

Post date: Tuesday, August 6, 2013 - 10:35
All taxonomy terms: College Football, News
Path: /college-football/northern-illinois-launches-heisman-campaign-jordan-lynch

Northern Illinois quarterback Jordan Lynch went from an unknown commodity in the preseason to one of college football’s top quarterbacks last year.

Lynch finished seventh in the Heisman voting last season, and Northern Illinois hopes to help its quarterback’s stock a little more in 2013. 

The Huskies have launched a Heisman campaign for Lynch, which includes a twitter page (@LynchFor6), and the school has mailed promotional lunch bags to Heisman voters.

Check out Northern Illinois' campaign, as tweeted out by West Virginia beat writer Mike Casazza

Northern Illinois Launches Heisman Campaign for Jordan Lynch
Post date: Tuesday, August 6, 2013 - 10:20
All taxonomy terms: High School
Path: /high-school/athlon-sports-high-school-football-preview-magazine-out-now

The Athlon Sports 2013 High School Football Preview arrives just in time for the Friday night lights.

Our premiere edition provides comprehensive coverage of all 50 states — including top 10 rankings for every state, preseason players of the year, all-state teams and a sneak peek at this year's can't miss games. There is also a national top 25 ranking and more than 1,000 recruits ranked by 247Sports.

We go one-on-one with top-ranked defensive end Da'Shawn Hand in "Wow Factor;" explore the "Family Tradition" that has produced football players at Notre Dame, Michigan and Penn State; look at 10 of the nation's top coaches in "Sideline Stars;" and debate the merits of an early signing period in "Decision Time."

On the lighter side off the field, we show off the "Gear You Gotta Have" to be harder, better, faster, stronger as well as name our all-fictional high school team, which includes Tom Cruise from "All the Right Moves," A.C. Slater from "Saved by the Bell" and plenty of other gridiron stars from TV and silver screen.

Athlon Sports High School Football Preview has it all. Order your copy now!


The Athlon Sports 2013 High School Football Preview arrives just in time for the Friday night lights.

The Athlon Sports 2013 High School Football Preview arrives just in time for the Friday night lights.
Post date: Tuesday, August 6, 2013 - 09:00
Path: /college-football/willie-taggart-brings-blue-collar-approach-usf

Don’t adjust your vision – the photo below is of South Florida coach Willie Taggart.

No, Taggart isn’t heading out to change the oil in his car. Instead, the shirt is a symbol of the blue-collar approach Taggart plans to bring to South Florida.

With Taggart at the helm, expect the Bulls to be one of college football’s most-improved teams in 2013.

Willie Taggart Brings Blue-Collar Approach to USF
Post date: Tuesday, August 6, 2013 - 09:00
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-top-10-darkhorse-national-title-contenders

Predicting college football's national champion is never an easy task. In addition to combing through schedules, returning starters, players lost and statistics, there are several factors impossible to account for. Injuries and luck will have a major impact on the 2013 season - and neither can be projected. 

Most of college football's national title winners will come from within the top 10 of most preseason polls, but there are always a few darkhorses sneaking into the top 10 at some point during the season. 

What teams could be a darkhorse national title contender in 2013? Using Athlon's projected 125 for 2013, the criteria was simple - the teams must be ranked anywhere outside of the top 10 to qualify

College Football's Top-10 Darkhorse National Title Contenders

Arizona State
Returning Starters: Offense – 6, Defense – 8

Why Arizona State is a Title Contender:
Hiring Todd Graham paid immediate dividends for Arizona State last season. The Sun Devils improved their win total by two games and cut down on the mental mistakes that plagued this team in recent years. After closing out 2012 on a three-game winning streak, hopes are high in Tempe for Arizona State to win the Pac-12 South. Provided the offense develops a few playmakers at receiver, the Sun Devils could average over 40 points a game. The defense returns eight starters, including All-American tackle Will Sutton and linebacker Carl Bradford (11.5 sacks last year). The schedule isn’t easy, but allows for marquee victories by Arizona State. Games against Stanford and Notre Dame should be opportunities to pull upsets against top-10 teams.

Why Arizona State Isn’t a Title Contender:
Making the leap from an eight-win team to an 11 or 12-win team isn’t easy. Despite the talent in the front seven, Arizona State ranked 10th in the Pac-12 against the run. The Sun Devils also need to find more depth at cornerback this fall. While the schedule allows for some huge victories, winning at Stanford, UCLA and in a neutral site affair against Notre Dame won’t be easy. Arizona State is certainly a longshot to play for the national title, but Graham and his staff clearly has this program moving in the right direction.

Florida State
Returning Starters: Offense – 6, Defense – 4

Why Florida State is a Title Contender:
EJ Manuel was a first-round pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, but there’s not much concern about quarterback play for the Seminoles. Redshirt freshman Jameis Winston is a potential superstar and even though there will have some growing pains, he is expected to be one of the top quarterbacks in the ACC this year. Winston is surrounded by one of the nation’s top offensive lines, and there’s no shortage of weapons at running back and receiver. The defense lost a handful of players, but there’s talent waiting in the wings. Sophomore end Mario Edwards Jr. is due to become a prominent factor in the pass rush, while the secondary – despite the loss of Xavier Rhodes – will be stingy. Florida State’s national title hopes are certainly helped by a favorable schedule, as the Seminoles should be favored in at least 10 games this year.

Why Florida State Isn’t a Title Contender:
As mentioned above, the Seminoles have plenty of fresh talent waiting to step into the starting lineup. But what if it takes that talent longer to develop than some may expect? The coaching staff also has six new assistants, including defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt. Florida State cannot afford an injury on its offensive line, as there’s very little proven depth behind the starting five.

Kansas State
Returning Starters: Offense – 8, Defense – 2

Why Kansas State is a Title Contender:
Two words: Bill Snyder. Never count out Kansas State in the Big 12 title picture as long as Snyder is on the sidelines. The Wildcats have to replace quarterback Collin Klein and linebacker Arthur Brown, but haven’t we heard this story before when it comes to Kansas State? Key players leave, new stars emerge. The Wildcats have a quarterback battle between Daniel Sams and Jake Waters set to begin this fall, but the offense should be in good shape regardless of which player starts. The skill players are solid, and the offensive line could be the best in the Big 12. Road trips to Texas and Oklahoma State won’t be easy, but Kansas State can make up some ground in the Big 12 with November home dates against Oklahoma, TCU and Iowa State.

Why Kansas State Isn’t a Title Contender:
Although Sams and Waters appear capable of leading this offense, Klein’s leadership and play will be missed. A slight drop off on offense should be expected. But the bigger question mark for Kansas State has to be a defense that must replace a handful of key contributors. Linebacker Arthur Brown, cornerback Nigel Malone, defensive ends Meshak Williams and Adam Davis won’t be easy to replace. Brown’s departure is huge, but the return of Tre Walker and Blake Slaughter has eased the concerns about the linebackers. With a wide-open Big 12, can the champion of the conference climb high enough in the polls to make a run at the national title? There’s a ton of parity in the league this year, so a 9-3 or 10-2 record might win the conference title.

Returning Starters: Offense – 5, Defense – 5

Why Michigan is a Title Contender:
After an 11-2 mark in coach Brady Hoke’s first season in Ann Arbor, the Wolverines took a step back in the win column last year. A tougher schedule resulted in an 8-5 mark in 2012, with three losses by a touchdown or less. The future looks bright at Michigan, especially as Hoke continues to reel in elite talent. The Wolverines return only 10 starters, but there’s plenty of capable players waiting to step into the lineup. Quarterback Devin Gardner shined after taking over for an injured Denard Robinson last year and should be even better in 2013 with an offseason to work as the starter. Gardner is a better fit than Robinson for what Michigan wants to do on offense, and there’s some potential in the receiving corps with sophomore Amara Darboh and senior Jeremy Gallon. The defense finished 13th nationally in yards allowed last season and even though a handful of players must be replaced, the Wolverines have the talent to rank near the top of the Big Ten. The pass defense will get a boost with the return of cornerback Blake Countess, who missed nearly all of 2012 with a knee injury.

Why Michigan Isn’t a Title Contender:
With most of the roster slated to return in 2013, Michigan may be a year away from contending for a national title. And even though there’s talent stepping into the lineup, it may take some time for it to perform at an All-Big Ten level. The offensive line should be solid with the return of tackles Taylor Lewan and Michael Schofield, but the interior will feature three new starters. Linebacker Jake Ryan is also out until at least October with a torn ACL. The schedule is backloaded, which isn’t a bad thing for a team breaking in a handful of new starters. However, Michigan has to make trips to Michigan State and Northwestern – two of its top contenders in the Legends Division. 

Returning Starters: Offense – 7, Defense – 4

Why Nebraska is a Title Contender:
Offense, offense and offense. The Cornhuskers led the Big Ten in total offense at 460.8 yards per game last season. And the same cast of characters returns for 2013. Quarterback Taylor Martinez made significant strides last year, and running back Ameer Abdullah filled in admirably for an injured Rex Burkhead. Nebraska has one of the Big Ten’s top receiving corps, and the offensive line is solid with the return of three starters. Considering the Cornhuskers have a handful of players to replace on defense, the offense may have to win some shootouts in Big Ten play this year. The biggest factor working in Nebraska’s favor is the schedule. If the Cornhuskers get by UCLA on Sept. 14, they could be 7-0 going into November. The final month isn’t easy, but Northwestern and Michigan State – two of the top contenders in the Legends Division – will visit Lincoln.

Why Nebraska Isn’t a Title Contender:
There’s no question Nebraska’s offense will be outstanding in 2013. However, the defense is littered with concerns. The Cornhuskers allowed 115 points over their final two games last year and return only four starters. The front seven needs to be revamped, and several young players could be pressed into action. Kicker Brett Maher won’t be easy to replace, which is a concern as Nebraska heads into a difficult November schedule.

Returning Starters: Offense – 7, Defense – 4

Why Oklahoma is a Title Contender:
The talent level may have slipped just a tad in recent years, but the Sooners remain a dangerous team in the national title picture. The Big 12 is wide-open, with no clear preseason favorite. Quarterback Blake Bell has yet to prove he can be an every-down option, but the junior has upside and could develop into one of the Big 12’s top offensive players with more experience. Oklahoma also has one of the nation’s best offensive lines, along with a deep receiving corps and a talented group of backs. The defense is a work in progress, but coordinator Mike Stoops should be able to find some answers this fall. The schedule isn’t easy, although the Sooners will have an opportunity to earn a marquee non-conference win at Notre Dame in late September.

Why Oklahoma Isn’t a Title Contender:
Defense. Even though Mike Stoops is a good coordinator, the Sooners are thin on proven talent (and bodies) on the defensive line. Cornerback Aaron Colvin is one of the Big 12’s best defense players, but the secondary is a concern with the departure of safety Tony Jefferson and cornerback Demontre Hurst. The schedule isn’t overly challenging. However, matchups at Baylor, Kansas State, Notre Dame and Oklahoma State are all potential losses.

Oklahoma State
Returning Starters: Offense – 5, Defense – 7

Why Oklahoma State is a Title Contender:
Considering how wide open the Big 12 is, you could list the predicted top six teams for 2013 in this article. Oklahoma State is Athlon’s projected Big 12 champion this season, but the Cowboys are picked to finish outside of the top-10 in the final poll before bowl games. New offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich should keep Oklahoma State’s offense among the best in the Big 12, and running back Jeremy Smith is a capable replacement for Joseph Randle. The defense returns seven starters, including one of the Big 12’s top linebacking corps. With Glenn Spencer promoted to coordinator, the Cowboys expect a more aggressive defense in 2013. And a secondary that ranked 110th nationally against the pass will be improved.

Why Oklahoma State Isn’t a Title Contender:
The uncertainty at the top of the league certainly makes for an interesting title race, but it could also hurt the champion of the Big 12. Too much parity could hurt the conference in the polls, leaving the champion on the outside of the top five. While quarterback Clint Chelf played well in limited action, can he handle the starting job for a full season? While the pass defense should be better, Oklahoma State is thin on depth and proven talent at defensive end. A road game at Texas could decide the Big 12 championship.

Returning Starters: Offense – 4, Defense – 8

Why TCU is a Title Contender:
As expected, the transition from the Mountain West to the Big 12 wasn’t easy. And despite losing quarterback Casey Pachall early in the year due to a suspension, the Horned Frogs finished a respectable 7-6. With Pachall returning to the team, TCU’s passing attack will be more dangerous in 2013. The Horned Frogs have a good group of receivers returning, while the ground game will get a boost with Waymon James back at full strength from a knee injury. Nebraska transfer Aaron Green is expected to help James and B.J. Catalon shoulder the workload in the backfield. Defense is always a strength under coach Gary Patterson, and TCU allowed the fewest yards per game in conference play last year (323.9). Nine starters are back on defense, including the Big 12’s top secondary.   

Why TCU Isn’t a Title Contender:
While the return of Pachall and James will help the offense, the line is a major concern. Tackle Tayo Fabuluje quit the team in the summer, leaving the Horned Frogs with just two starters returning up front. Although the defense should be one of the best in the Big 12, end Devonte Fields is suspended for the first two games, which will leave the pass rush shorthanded against LSU. If TCU wins the Big 12, it will certainly earn it, as road trips to Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Kansas State are brutal.

Returning Starters: Offense – 8, Defense – 9

Why Texas is a Title Contender:
The Longhorns are the most difficult team to figure out this preseason. There’s no question coach Mack Brown has assembled elite talent, but Texas is just 22-16 over the last three years. Did this team turn a corner in the bowl win over Oregon State? For Texas to top last year’s nine victories, it all starts at the quarterback position. David Ash showed progress last season, but is he ready to make the jump to be an elite quarterback in the Big 12? The Longhorns don’t need Ash to be Colt McCoy, especially with one of the nation’s deepest backfields at his disposal. The offensive line has made progress in recent years and all five starters are back. The defense underachieved in 2012 but nine starters are back, and linebacker Jordan Hicks returns after missing most of last season with an injury. Texas also has one of the most favorable schedules in the Big 12, as Kansas State, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech all visit Austin.

Why Texas Isn’t a Title Contender:
Can Texas be trusted? That’s the key question when it comes to preseason picks in the Big 12. The Longhorns have the most-talented roster in the conference, but questions still remain about this team’s ability to take the next step. Ash doesn’t have to be one of the nation’s top quarterbacks for Texas to win the Big 12, but he also has to cut down on his mistakes (seven interceptions in eight Big 12 games). Not only does the defense have to get tougher against the run, it has to eliminate some of the mental mistakes, including a plethora of missed tackles last year. The best barometer of Texas will likely come on Oct. 12 against Oklahoma. The Longhorns have lost 118-38 in their last two meetings against the Sooners.

Returning Starters: Offense – 8, Defense – 7

Why USC Is a Title Contender:
Last year was a huge disappointment for USC. But there’s no question the Trojans have plenty of talent on the roster to make a quick rebound. If Max Wittek or Cody Kessler settles into the starting quarterback role, the offense should rank in the top half of the Pac-12 once again. Silas Redd is capable of rushing for 1,000 yards, and the receiving corps is loaded at the top with the return of Marqise Lee and Nelson Agholor. The defense struggled last year, but coach Lane Kiffin’s decision to hire Clancy Pendergast as the coordinator should pay dividends. USC does not have to play Oregon this year and UCLA, Arizona and Stanford all come to the Coliseum.

Why USC Isn’t a Title Contender:
Even though athletic director Pat Haden gave Kiffin a vote of confidence, what happens if things start to go bad early in the year? The Trojans fell apart in the bowl loss to Georgia Tech and have to regain the form that saw this team finish 10-2 in 2011. Although Kessler and Wittek are talented quarterbacks, USC needs to settle on one and not go through an entire season of changing starters. The offensive line has to play better, which will be a challenge with the departure of center Khaled Holmes. The Trojans are thin in the secondary, but the additions of freshmen Su’a Cravens and Leon McQuay should help.

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College Football's Top-10 Darkhorse National Title Contenders
Post date: Tuesday, August 6, 2013 - 07:20
Path: /college-football/wisconsin-football-game-game-predictions-2013

Wisconsin enters 2013 with a hint of mystery surrounding the team. The Badgers have played in three consecutive Rose Bowls, but there’s a new coach on the sideline and different schemes on both sides of the ball.

New coach Gary Andersen comes to Madison from Utah State, where he recorded a 26-24 record in four seasons. Although Andersen’s record wasn’t overwhelmingly impressive, the Aggies were 6-30 in three seasons prior to his arrival. Andersen clearly improved Utah State, but his task at Wisconsin won’t be about rebuilding – at least in 2013. With 11 starters back, the Badgers can make a run at the Leaders Division title and 10 wins this year.

The biggest question mark surrounding Wisconsin is quarterback play, especially with the addition of junior college recruit Tanner McEvoy. The defense is switching to a 3-4 scheme, but the Badgers have plenty of talent in the front seven to weather the transition.

Wisconsin’s schedule isn’t too challenging, but a road trip to Ohio State on Sept. 28 could decide who wins the Leaders Division.

What will Wisconsin's record at the end of the 2013 regular season? Athlon’s panel of experts debates: 

Wisconsin's 2013 Game-by-Game Predictions

8/31 UMass
9/7 Tennessee Tech
9/14 at Arizona State
9/21 Purdue
9/28 at Ohio State
10/12 Northwestern
10/19 at Illinois
11/2 at Iowa
11/9 BYU
11/16 Indiana
11/23 at Minnesota
11/30 Penn State
Final Projection9-310-29-311-19-39-39-3

Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
Wisconsin hit a home run by hiring Gary Andersen to replace Bret Bielema. Andersen elevated Utah State to a conference title contender during his time in Logan and inherits a Badgers’ team that’s capable of finishing in the 10-15 range in the final BCS poll. The biggest question marks for Wisconsin rest at quarterback and how this team transition to new schemes on both sides of the ball. Joel Stave would seem to have a slight edge on Curt Phillips and Tanner McEvoy for the starting quarterback spot, but all three could see playing time this year. Moving from a 4-3 to a 3-4 scheme in one offseason could present some headaches, but Wisconsin has enough talent to handle the transition. The biggest issue on defense is the secondary, which will have three new starters for 2013. The Badgers have a favorable schedule, but road trips to Arizona State and Ohio State won’t be easy. I also have Wisconsin stumbling at Iowa, but I’d keep a close eye on the Oct. 12 matchup against Northwestern.

Brent Yarina, Big Ten Network, (@BTNBrentYarina)
I hate to simplify things this much, however one can argue Wisconsin’s season comes down to two games: at Ohio State (Sept. 28) and vs. Northwestern (Nov. 12). Yes, at Arizona State is hardly a walk in the park, but it’s a nonconference game. We’re talking about Wisconsin, the program that’s represented the Big Ten in the last three Rose Bowls. Pasadena is the goal, and it’s a possibility again—especially if the Badgers show up in the aforementioned marque games. Seriously, take away the Ohio State and Northwestern dates, and Wisconsin will be the heavy favorite in its other six Big Ten games. Considering the manageable schedule and the talent the Badgers return, both on offense (James White, Melvin Gordon, Jared Abbrederis, Jacob Pedersen) and defense (Chris Borland, Ethan Armstrong, Beau Allen, Dezmen Southward), a 10-win regular season could be in the cards.

Kevin McGuire (@KevinonCFB), and
Wisconsin may have won a Big Ten championship last season, but let's not forget the Badgers actually finished third in the Leaders Division in 2012 behind Ohio State and Penn State, losing the head-to-head match-ups to each. That said, the Badgers figure to have a team worthy of giving the Buckeyes a bit of a tussle this year in the race to Indianapolis if things fall according to plan. Though Wisconsin loses Monte Ball, a player that never really got the attention he probably should have, the Badgers will rely on a strong running game behind a proven James White. The Badgers also have one of the Big Ten's top wide receivers in Jared Abbrederis, so it's time once again to ask the annual question; Does Wisconsin have a quarterback? I think they do with Joel Stave, but we'll see which way new head coach Gary Andersen goes with this. One thing I do feel confident in with Wisconsin is their defense. The Badgers had a defense that was pretty overlooked last season despite finishing third in the Big Ten in total and scoring defense. I suspect Andersen and defensive coordinator Dave Aranda will keep that theme moving forward in Madison with a guy like linebacker Chris Borland anchoring things in the middle of the field.

Wisconsin should get off to a fast start against some weak opponents but a road trip to Arizona State looks very dangerous. BYU also looks to be a real difficult non-conference game, and who knows what the season will look like for either team when that game comes around in November. I'll give Wisconsin a split in those two, and I'm putting the Badgers on upset alert at Iowa right now. I look for Wisconsin to finish strongly though. If the Buckeyes stumble, Wisconsin can take advantage.

Mike Fiammetta, (@B5Q),
With a coaching staff that's entirely new outside of two retained assistants and questions at quarterback, receiver and in the secondary, Wisconsin's one of the hardest teams to pick in the Big Ten. That's probably true for all of college football, as well. A few things are certain, however. The Badgers return a ton of all-Big Ten-worthy talent, including running backs James White and Melvin Gordon, wide receiver Jared Abbrederis, linebacker Chris Borland and safety Dezmen Southward. The schedule is also incredibly soft, with non-conference play presenting only one threat (at ASU, though BYU could be considered a challenge) and the Big Ten slate having just one game in which Wisconsin will clearly be an underdog (at Ohio State). The early returns on the Gary Andersen era have been remarkably positive, though of course things could always not gel for the problem areas, namely receiver, offensive line and the secondary. If it does, though, the Badgers very well could find themselves in Indianapolis fighting for a fourth straight Rose Bowl berth.

Braden Gall (@BradenGall)
Not many new head coaches step into a "BCS" job for a team looking to become a four-time defending champion but that is what Gary Andersen has done in Madison. The Badgers have won three-straight Big Ten titles and have a roster — and schedule — capable of competing for another one in 2013. Road games with Ohio State and Arizona State early will really test the rebuilt secondary and efficiency of whoever is playing quarterback. Other tricky tests like Penn State, Indiana and Northwestern at home or rivalry road games with Iowa and Minnesota could all provide slip-ups for a team with new leadership. Most everyone in the industry respects Andersen and the Badger way of winning is proven. But it will be hard-pressed to win a division in which Ohio State resides.

David Fox (@DavidFox615)
I don’t know if Wisconsin is going to be dramatically better than it was last season, but the season I’ve picked (9-3 in the regular season) is two games better than the Badgers were last year (7-5). The Badgers’ record wasn’t great, but they were awfully close in the losses — three in overtime and the other three away from Madison by six points or less. More competent quarterback play could be the difference, even though the Badgers move on without Bret Bielema. The Arizona State game will be interesting, but that doesn’t set up well for Wisconsin: A decimated secondary against a veteran quarterback, a redshirt freshman center against defensive tackle Will Sutton and an untested quarterback on the road. The experience issues will get better, which is why Wisconsin can hope for a hot finish. Northwestern could shape up to be a key game. The Badgers’ quarterback and offensive line could be in good shape by that point of the year, but the Badgers are still going to have a tough time stopping teams that can throw the ball.

Mark Ross
Wisconsin made a great hire in luring Gary Andersen away from Utah State to replace the departed Bret Bielema. Although it may take a couple of seasons for the Badgers to be completely Andersen's team, I'm not expecting much of a drop off in terms of results our of Madison this fall. UW won't break a sweat until heading out west to the desert to face Arizona State and even though the opening of its Big Ten slate could be somewhat rocky, the rest of the schedule shakes out nicely. The Badgers get a break by not having to face either Michigan, Nebraska or Michigan State from the Legends Division, and the toughest conference road date by far is against Ohio State. The Buckeyes will more than likely win the Leaders Division, but the Badgers should be able to claim second and at least match last season's win total before their bowl game.


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Post date: Tuesday, August 6, 2013 - 07:15
Path: /college-football/pac-12-coaches-talk-anonymously-about-conference-foes-2013

It's not easy getting college football coaches to honestly comment on another coach, player or team. Most coaches don't want to give opposing teams billboard material, which is why there is a lot of coach speak or overused cliches used during the year. In order to get an accurate assessment of teams heading into 2013, Athlon asked coaches in the Pac-12 to talk anonymously about their opponents.

Note: These scouting reports come directly from the coaching staff and do not necessarily reflect the views of Athlon's editorial staff.

Pac-12 Coaches Anonymously Scout Their Conference Foes for 2013

Opposing coaches size up the Wildcats:

“(Running back) Ka’Deem Carey’s a tough guy. I don’t see him as a finesse guy. He’s just a hard-nosed football player, a real determined runner. They give it to him a lot, which will help ease the transition with the new quarterback and Matt Scott leaving. He’s going to make some yards out of nothing. I really like the kid. I like him a lot." …

"I have no idea who they have at quarterback. That will be interesting to watch." …

"I think they had a good linebacker crew — probably not great, but good. …

"The good thing about those guys is they have a lot of good players that play hard. They don’t have a bunch of star players. They’ve got good balance with guys buying into the system. That’s how some teams do it, and they are very similar." …

"Certainly the defense needs some work. They gave up a whole lot of points last year. They need to toughen up, but I think they had a lot of young guys they were developing. They should have more depth with this lineup.”

Arizona State
Opposing coaches size up the Sun Devils:

“They could really make a push in the league. They have a lot of starters back and getting (defensive tackle) Will Sutton back was big. They weren’t great against the run, but Sutton was downright dominant in some games." …

"Todd Graham is a pretty good coach. He just has to stick around there for awhile. Obviously he jumped around for a few years, from Tulsa to Pitt to ASU. If he stays, the state of Arizona could get interesting between him and Rich Rodriguez." …

"Quarterback Taylor Kelly is a natural fit for them. Apparently he’s becoming a leader for that team. He has that little ‘it’ factor to him. He probably needs to tuck it more and take more sacks instead of trying to extend a play. He’s got a nice future." …

"After a hot start, that Oregon game kind of brought them down to earth last year. Oregon ran all over them, and they couldn’t stop it. The game wasn’t as close as the score." …

"Arizona State should have more depth this year. They are working on establishing more toughness this spring.”

Opposing coaches size up the Golden Bears:

“Cal will be very interesting. That was a mystery to me last year when they went 3–9. Subpar quarterback play attributed to it, but the wheels just fell off. I didn’t expect that." …

"We’re going to see what the new guy, Sonny Dykes, can do there. They’ve got a chance. They’ve always had talent." …

"Don’t know a whole lot about that staff. I don’t know if they have a quarterback. That will be key for them." …

"They’ve got a pretty good defense coming back. They’ve always given us problems because they play good, sound defense. I know when we played them last year — man, it was a physical, physical football game." …

"I don’t know how they don’t have a quarterback at a place like Cal. But I don’t know whether they have one. A quarterback will be crucial in a pass-happy offense like the one Dykes will bring in." …

"The skill positions are never really a problem there. Losing (receiver) Keenan Allen will be big. He could not only stretch the field, but he was reliable on third down. There’s a young guy, Bryce Treggs, that can really fly.”

Opposing coaches size up the Buffaloes:

“They have a lot of needs that they have to fix. They hired a good football coach in Mike MacIntyre. I really believe that. He can really coach. He’s a good offensive mind and will put players in the best position to succeed. But they have a long ways to go, that’s for sure. Let’s not sugarcoat it. Unless the young players they had grow up in a hurry, this could be a project. They haven’t been significant there in awhile." …

"Defensively, nothing really scares you there. They are big and strong at a few positions, but overall they will need more team speed to keep up with the offenses in the Pac-12." …

"When we played them, it was pretty ugly all around. That’s how it was for them a lot of games last year. … When Colorado was great, they were winning in the California recruiting scene. That’s just hard to do now with so many competitive teams around there, but it can be done." …

"The recruiting just hasn’t panned out for them in recent years. They aren’t winning the best players in Colorado, either. They need players.”

Opposing coaches size up the Ducks:

“You look back at the last three years, they always have that tough loss in November. It’s that time of the year where maybe other teams are peaking at the right time against them or figure something out scheme-wise. They are looking to remedy that." …

"I wouldn’t worry too much about losing Chip (Kelly) and relying on the new coach (Mark Helfrich). From what I hear, he was very involved in the offense last year. Chip was calling plays, but the offensive coordinator was very productive there. You might not see much of a drop-off." …

"With that offense, everyone knows what they’re going to do. It’s a matter of when they do it and when they don’t." …

"Those running backs are special and the quarterback is special. I don’t think there’s really a spot where they are overrated. Maybe with the wideouts, since you can’t really tell how good they are because they don’t throw that much." …

"The thing about the quarterback (Marcus Mariota) is he’s always so poised and he’s really fast. Miss your gap or overplay, and he’s gone.”

Oregon State
Opposing coaches size up Beavers:

“I think they surprised a lot of people last season. Not many saw that kind of start coming. They can get better this year, too, if they can find more consistency at quarterback." …

"Mike Riley does a great job with those guys. He doesn’t always get the best players talent-wise, but he gets the best out of them. He’s very well-respected in the league." …

"They’ve got to get the quarterback play going. Both those guys that split time (Sean Mannion and Cody Vaz) are just OK. They have to find a running back that can consistently play for them. They’ve always had a great one in the past. Right now I think they might need a great one. One hasn’t shown up yet." …

"They’ve always played good defense. I don’t think that’s going to change. They covered well. They’ve always been pretty solid against the pass on the back end." …

"They need to get that offense rolling. I don’t know which quarterback is going to start, but they’ll probably be better off sticking with one and letting him get his confidence up.”

Opposing coaches size up the Cardinal:

“They are going to be good. They are loaded. They’ve got some good running backs down there, even after losing Stepfan Taylor, who basically did everything for them. They’ve got the little Sanders kid, Barry’s kid, that I like." …

"The quarterback, Kevin Hogan, I think he’s going to be good. He came into a tough situation, and he made some crucial throws for them. He doesn’t have a huge arm, but he’s really accurate." …

"They’ve got those offensive linemen that are always stout and really disciplined." …

"They are losing a few guys on defense, but they are always solid. They’ve got a tough defensive line." …

"Their kids play hard. They are just a really good football team. It’s hard to say enough about the job David Shaw has done. They are going to be up there again this year. I see no reason why they shouldn’t. They will be one of the best in the league. …

"They could use more out of the receiver position. They relied a lot on the tight ends and running backs to make plays.”

Opposing coaches size up the Bruins:

“It had felt like a while since we said UCLA was right there toward the top of the league. But now you could argue they are better than USC. I think you can say that. They are coming off a really good year." …

"They lost a few corners and a few defensive linemen, so I’m curious to see how they respond from those losses." …

"They run a good defensive scheme. Overall, the talent on the defensive line has been some of the best in the country." …

"They have really good depth and have recruited well. They lost a few curious games last year toward the end, which makes me think — although they are very good — they might not be championship caliber." …

"(Quarterback) Brett Hundley is a big old joker. He throws a nice ball and is really hard to get down. It’s not that you can't get to him, it's just that when you do, the defensive backs can have trouble with him. He’s got big receivers to throw to. That’s what really can elevate UCLA, the size of the players in their passing game.”

Opposing coaches size up the Trojans:

“They always have a bunch of talent. I don’t think their offensive line is a good as it’s been. The quarterback (Max Wittek) is going to have to prove himself. He does a few good things. He’s not a (Matt) Barkley. Obviously he’s going to be a good player because they always have talent at that spot, but how good he ends up, I don’t know." …

"They’ve got to get the running back (Silas Redd) back healthy. He had a little surgery, I don’t think it was anything really serious." …

"Marqise Lee is the best receiver in the league — he’s really, really good." …

"I think everybody thinks it’s a huge year for Lane (Kiffin). He needs to win or those people down there — they are already grumbling. The key will be, do they look respectable and do they get fannies in the seats? As long as they are getting people coming to games, if they look like they’ve got a decent product on the field, he’ll be OK. If they start looking sloppy and people stop showing up, he’s going to have problems.”

Opposing coaches size up Utes:

“They are very well coached for what they have. I think they had a down year offensively. I just don’t think they found their identity with the scheme they run. I have a ton of respect for their head coach, Kyle Whittingham." …

"I don’t think the quarterback (Travis Wilson) moves the way guys in the past did. He’s kind of a sitting target there. I don’t know if they’ll have an open competition or not. When they were winning a lot of games, their quarterbacks could really move around. He’s big and has a strong arm though." …

"They are a tremendous special teams unit. They do an unbelievable job there." …

"Any time you lose a player like (defensive tackle) Star Lotulelei, you’re going to miss a guy like that. He didn’t dominate every game, but he’s obviously solid. He was extremely athletic, but you could get him out of his game early." …

"Bringing in (co-offensive coordinator) Dennis Erickson will be interesting. They obviously needed a spark after last season, and apparently Erickson wants to push the tempo.”

Opposing coaches size up the Huskies:

“The Huskies certainly have some talent. I like the kid that pulls the trigger up there, Keith Price. You can win some games with him. I just don’t think he’s the guy who can really take them to where they want to go." …

"They’ve got some pretty good running backs. Their receiving core is good. They’ve really got a good offensive line. The defensive line is adequate, not great. But overall, they’ve got some talent there to get it done." …

"Their defense is going to be pretty good. Obviously their secondary is going to be hurting a little bit. They are losing a lot there." …

"They’ve got some holes to fill there, but they have a few good receivers if they can get the ball to them. That tight end (Austin Seferian-Jenkins) is really good, too." …

"They are going to be a competitive team. They recruit well. They’ve got some pretty good players coming in. If they can find a way to get the ball to those receivers, they’ll be good." …

"They’ve got to refine a few things on the offensive line. They had a few games where they simply couldn’t protect.”

Washington State
Opposing coaches size up the Cougars:

“I don’t know how they are looking right now, but there is a little mystique about them — a lot of grumblings around that team with the way things are being handled. That’s not good. They’ve got some talent, but they are going to have to get on the same page and buy in. I don’t know if there’s some dissatisfaction among the players about how the coach is handling them. I don’t really know for sure what goes on up there. But from what I’ve heard there is some dissatisfaction with how the players are being treated and how it’s run." …

"They’ve got to get a quarterback, particularly to do what they want to do. I don’t know much about their receiving corps. Their best guy (Marquess Wilson) left and didn’t finish out the season. They are going to need some receivers. They also need chemistry and a quarterback." …

"They are going have to get some more players. What they want to do is throw the ball all the time, and in order to do that, you need somebody to throw it and you need somebody to catch it. I’m not sure they have either.”

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Pac-12 Coaches Talk Anonymously About Conference Foes for 2013
Post date: Tuesday, August 6, 2013 - 07:15
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-big-tens-best-freshmen-transfers-and-more-2013-14

A year after being the nation’s most competitive conference at the top, the Big Ten is counting on a handful of new faces to remain so in 2013-14.

Michigan State returns nearly intact, but most of the Big Ten wasn’t so lucky. Indiana is counting on freshmen and a transfer making his third Division I stop to replace NBA Draft lottery picks Victor Oladipo and Cody Zeller. Michigan also will look to a pair of rookies to take spots vacated by the National Player of the Year and another first-round draft pick.

Wisconsin lost players in its frontcourt, but the Badgers’ biggest new face for 2013-14 is an old one in guard Josh Gasser, who will return from a torn ACL. And Illinois, who was one of the surprise teams of last season, will try to replace its Big Ten veterans with imports from the Missouri Valley Conference.


Turnover — or lack thereof for teams like Michigan State and Ohio State — could play a major role in the Big Ten title chance in 2013-14.

Our look at the transfers, freshmen and players returning from injury last season continues with the Big Ten. Earlier, we’ve profiled the new faces in the ACC, American, Big 12 and Big East.

Noah Vonleh, Indiana
Indiana lost Cody Zeller, Victor Oladipo and the bulk of a team that spent a good portion of last season ranked No. 1. The freshman Vonleh, though, means Indiana isn’t going to sink back to the bottom of the Big Ten. At 6-foot-9, he’s a natural power forward with impressive length — he has a 7-4 wingspan. Vonleh recently participated in the LeBron James Skills Academy and held his own despite being one of the youngest players there at age 17.

Josh Gasser, Wisconsin
Returning from injury
Wisconsin’s season looked like it would go south when Gasser, the projected starting point guard, sustained a season-ending knee injury in October. But this is Wisconsin, and consistency is the Badgers’ forte. Recovery from the ligament tears has been slow, but Gasser still expects to be ready for the start of the season. As a shooting guard for his first two seasons, Gasser still had a 1.95 assist-to-turnover ratio. He also picked up the first triple-double in Wisconsin history with 10 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists against Northwestern in 2010-11.

Derrick Walton, Michigan
Walton may be the captain of the All-Shoes-to-Fill team as he takes over at point guard for National Player of the Year Trey Burke. Walton was committed to Michigan for two years, so he had plenty of time to study Burke’s style of play. He has a few similarities with Burke — he and his predecessor both stand at 6-feet and have excellent court vision, but Walton comes to the program with higher expectations after reaching last season’s national title game.

Zak Irvin, Michigan
Irvin can play both shooting guard and small forward, but Michigan coach John Beilein may have to find ways to get him in the lineup. Glenn Robinson III plays the 3 and stretch 4, and Michigan has options at the two guard with Nik Staustaks, who was a sharpshooter last season, plus sophomore Caris LeVert.

Drew Crawford, Northwestern
Returning from injury
Crawford considered a transfer, and he would have been eligible immediately as a graduate student. Instead, he’ll return to Northwestern, where he missed all but 10 games last season with a shoulder injury. A season earlier in 2011-12, Crawford was a third-team All-Big Ten selection who averaged 16.1 points per game.

Rayvonte Rice, Illinois
Transfer from Drake
Illinois coach John Groce won’t shy away from putting a ton of responsibility on his backcourt. With Brandon Paul and D.J. Richardson gone, that puts some of the onus on Rice, who transferred back home to Champaign from Drake. Former Illinois coach Bruce Weber overlooked Rice even though the guard was the state’s Mr. Basketball, but Rice returned when John Groce was hired. At Drake, Rice used the sleight to fuel him on the way to 15.4 points per game and 5.3 rebounds in two seasons at Drake. The 6-4, 240-pound junior could lead Illinois in scoring.

Tim Frazier, Penn State
Returning from injury
Frazier was a first-team All-Big Ten selection two seasons ago when he averaged 18.8 points and 6.2 assists, but he missed all of last season with a left Achilles injury. His return moves D.J. Newbill (16.3 ppg) to his more comfortable position at the two guard. That’s the good news. The bad news is Jermaine Marshall elected to transfer to Arizona State, leaving Penn State with one fewer Big Ten-caliber player in the starting lineup.

Evan Gordon, Indiana
Transfer from Arizona State
The brother of former Hoosiers one-and-done Eric Gordon, Evan Gordon has landed at Indiana after playing for Liberty and Arizona State. Gordon is looking to grab the starting off guard spot along rising sophomore point guard Yogi Ferrell. What Gordon lacks in size (6-1, 187), he’ll make up for it in experience on a young Hoosiers team. Gordon has averaged 12.1 points per game in his three-season career.

Jon Ekey, Illinois
Transfer from Illinois State
Ekey, who started 75 games in three seasons at Illinois State, will be one of the top newcomers on an Illinois team full of them. Ekey led the Missouri Valley in blocks as a freshman (52), but the 6-7, 220-pound forward can also step out to knock down the 3-point shot. He hit 90 of 234 (38.5 percent) shots from 3-point range in his final two seasons in the Valley before becoming immediately eligible at Illinois as a graduate student.

Jarrod Uthoff, Iowa
Transfer from Wisconsin
Uthoff hasn’t played in a game since his senior season at Cedar Rapids (Iowa) Jefferson in 2011 after redshirting his first season at Wisconsin and then sitting out a year at Iowa. Uthoff also became a lightning rod in the debate over NCAA transfer rules when he elected to pay his own way to play for Iowa after the Badgers restricted his transfer to play for the Hawkeyes. Finally able to play, Uthoff is a 6-9 versatile forward who can play inside and out.

Malik Smith, Minnesota
Transfer from FIU
Smith followed his coach, Richard Pitino, from FIU to Minnesota. The guard averaged 14.1 points per game at FIU, but he’ll have to fight his way through a crowded backcourt that includes Austin Hollins and Andre Hollins (no relation).

Terran Petteway, Nebraska
Transfer from Texas Tech
Petteway gives Nebraska versatility and a secondary scoring option the Cornhuskers lacked last season. A 6-6 wing, Petteway can rebound and play point guard, if needed, but Nebraska also signed New Zealand freshman Tai Webster to help at the point.

Other new faces to watch in 2013-14:

Marc Loving and Kameron Williams, Ohio State
Ohio State doesn’t struggle to bring in top recruits, but the Buckeyes are a veteran team with only two newcomers. The power forward Loving needs to develop a physical game while Williams may be a role player as an outside shooter.

Walter Pitchford and Lelee Smith, Nebraska
The Cornhuskers had trouble re-stocking a frontcourt that lost its top two players. At least Pitchford, an athletic forward who sat out last season after his transfer from Florida, will be eligible this season. Smith is a strong 6-8 forward who started his career at SMU before transferring to junior college. This pair will have make up a new-look Nebraska frontcourt.

Luke Fischer, Indiana
He won’t replace Zeller’s ability to run the floor, but Fischer could give the Hoosiers a true center to allow Vonleh to play power forward.

Bryson Scott, Purdue
Scott is a standout combo guard from Fort Wayne who should play his way into the rotation immediately.

Allen Roberts, Penn State
Transfer from Miami (Ohio)
Roberts averaged 12.3 points last season for the RedHawks and will be eligible in December.

Tim Frazier was an All-Big Ten performer before missing last season. He'll be one of the new faces in the Big Ten to make an impact in 2013-14.
Post date: Tuesday, August 6, 2013 - 07:00
Path: /high-school/dashawn-hand-next-jadeveon-clowney

He has a dream, and in that dream he’s sure of only one thing.

“A baby blue suit. Always a baby blue suit. No idea, but that’s what it is.”

Da’Shawn Hand has had this dream for years, and while he doesn’t know where he’s headed, he knows in the dream that he’s in his high school, in the baby blue suit, announcing that he’ll go play big-time college football.

“I first had the dream when I was little. I put the hat on and people cheer, and people ask ‘How do you feel?’ and I tell them that the coaches are cool and that I want to play in the NFL one day.”

To make sure the dream becomes a reality, Hand promises he’ll be sporting a baby blue suit on National Signing Day in 2014, a fashion creation he’ll have tailored for the event. But while his outfit might feel lucky, it’s Hand’s ascension as the next great defensive end prospect and the popularity of his chosen position that are responsible for making his dream a reality.

At 6'4", 248 pounds and boasting a 40 time that’s been marked in the 4.8 range, Hand is the consensus No. 1 overall defensive end prospect for the 2014 college football recruiting class. At any other position, he’d be considered a coveted get for any major program, but at the position of defensive end, he and signees like Robert Nkemdiche and Jadeveon Clowney before him are now considered quarterback-crushing program saviors.

“I just think right now it’s about how the game has come around, the era we’re in. You have a lot of 7-on-7 guys now, and quarterbacks and receivers are better than ever. You need to make plays to stop them, and you need athletes to do it,” Hand says.

Hand’s assessment is a consensus among college coaches and scouts. Even as innovations in play-calling have trended upward from high school to the professional levels in recent years, the old NFL adage that stopping a quarterback is the surest path to victory has been embraced as the best way to stop high-scoring spread offenses. Hence the rise of the monster defensive end.

Barton Simmons, a national recruiting analyst for 247Sports, admits that the valuation of defensive ends has increased noticeably in recent seasons because of the premium placed on the pass rush, from the pro level on down.

“It’s been intentional on our part in grading prospects, because you see that the guys being valued highly right now in the NFL in addition to quarterbacks are defensive ends and offensive tackles,” Simmons says.

“It’s an easy position to evaluate because often it’s the position where you see the most athleticism on the entire field.”

In this instance, “athleticism” is defined by raw power plus size moving very, very quickly. Scouts and coaches aren’t just looking for big bodies at the position, but big bodies with exceptional footwork, straight-line speed and enough power to shed — or attack — blockers.

“That’s the one thing I’ve worked on the most this summer is my explosiveness,” Hand says. “Just that ‘Wow’ factor when you make a big play that shows off your ability. This year I’m about to make more of those plays that make you go, ‘Wow!’”

The inevitable comparison for Hand or Nkemdiche before him is, of course, Clowney, a rising junior at South Carolina. Clowney’s rise as a true game-changer — remember the Michigan game? — has been so sharp that he likely would have been the No. 1 pick in the 2013 NFL Draft had he been eligible.

The hysteria reached such levels that many in the national media speculated that Clowney should simply sit out South Carolina’s 2013 season to avoid injury. That kind of hype has trickled down, as Hand and players like him are targeted as the “next Clowney.”

“It’s become a position where you can take a great piece of clay and mold him into a great player under the right conditions. It’s not like quarterback where you have to have a certain kind of mentality or maturity. Defensive ends can pin their ears back and go,” Simmons says.

But that doesn’t mean that the right stat line will automatically deliver another Clowney, a player most analysts and coaches consider the peak of the defensive position, a “freak.”

“These guys (Clowney, Nkemdiche, Hand) are all pretty unique,” Simmons says. “Clowney to me is the only one of the group that’s just no doubt a freak athlete. Nkemdiche is close to that, but he’s a little different body type. He’s not a long, rangy pass-rusher like Clowney, but he’s so physically gifted that he could move inside if need be and you wouldn’t lose anything.

“I don’t think we see (Hand) as quite the no-brainer, no-doubt prospect. He might not have that high of an athletic ceiling, but we’re very bullish on him because of his high character mentality off the field. He’s a ‘talent maximizer,’ a guy who will work, a guy who isn’t afraid to do what it takes to get better.”

“Da’Shawn doesn’t carry himself like a blue-chipper. He doesn’t really act like he’s got this attention on him right now,” says John Harris, Hand’s defensive line coach at Woodbridge (Va.) High School.

Harris knew Hand was destined for greatness three years ago when he saw Hand’s unnatural size for a freshman, but his endorsement is stronger than ever after working with what he calls one of the fastest-learning players he’s ever seen.

“Maybe the best part of his game is actually how fast he is mentally. When he gets to that next level he’s going to take in coaching so fast that it’s going to blow the college players away,” Harris says.

“The thing that’s exciting to me is to see him leading. I saw the fact that he was leading without even trying to. He practices and works out so hard that he’ll stop other players from goofing off around him.”

Endorsements like Harris’ have countless programs clamoring for Hand’s services. The combination of size, power and speed is unique in its own right, but adding work ethic and “coachability” could eventually make Hand stand above even the best blue-chip defensive ends in the college game.

Not that he’s lost in the hype.

“Oh, I know how to control it,” Hand says, laughing. “It’s hectic for sure, but I’m lucky to have the right people around me, people that influence me positively. It’s about not making this process your whole entire life. I know it’s a serious decision, but I’m still a kid. I still go out and have fun.

“Well, hang on,” he says, interrupting himself. “You have to cut out things when the time comes, having fun with friends and things like that. When there’s serious training to be done, you do it.”

Hand is “just” a kid, except that unlike the garden-variety pressure facing a high school senior, Hand also contends with phone calls, texts, emails and virtually every other form of digital communication from the best (and most diligent) college coaches in the nation.

In June, Hand narrowed a long list of schools down to Michigan, Florida and Alabama (though don’t be surprised if Virginia Tech remains in the hunt).

“I love the campus visits I’ve been on. It’s great — the people you meet, the food, seeing new places. … When you meet current players, the natural conversation is about the pressure and the decision you have to make. (Current college players) are great to talk with. They’ve already been in my shoes, been through the process and understand the pressure. They always wish me well.”

Hand is in the midst of visiting a variety of campuses nationwide, a vacation that always comes with a hard and sometimes uncomfortable sell at the end of each trip.
“The worst part is the next morning, when you wake up. Before you leave you have to go in and talk to the coaches about stuff. Sometimes chilling with the coaches is boring and I’m just like ‘Ughh.’ You have to, though; it’s part of the job.”

Certainly every coaching staff is a little different, and Hand already has his favorites.

“The Michigan coaching staff. That is the staff,” he enthuses. “They’re great. That staff is so cool, so easy to talk to. Also I’d say the one coach is (Virginia Tech defensive coordinator) Bud Foster.”

Hand shies away from questions about leans or leaders, but his comments about staff personalities reflect what’s considered to be the real race, according to Simmons.

“It opened up as a very national recruitment,” Simmons says. “He got 50-something offers and he was open to all of them at first. His is a different scenario because he’s a high academic kid, and schools that wouldn’t normally have a shot because of admissions do.”

About that baby blue suit and his childhood dream, Hand is repeatedly clear about one thing: His dream isn’t a “hat ceremony.” He doesn’t want a national press conference, despite the fact that it seems unavoidable. He wants to make the announcement at his high school, with his friends and family.

“I’m going to have one hat, that’s all. The hat of the school I’m attending. That’s me, and I just want to be myself,” Hand says.

Despite the fact that he has yet to enter the truly crazy months of recruitment as the nation’s top defensive end prospect, Hand already seems a little exhausted by the weirder and more deceptive aspects that come with the territory. He famously told CBS’ Bruce Feldman about a coach promising him that he’d meet Michael Jackson, despite the fact that the pop star has been dead for years.

“Honestly, I don’t know who I really would want to meet,” he says, laughing.

“If it was a girl, I’d say the goalie from the U.S. Soccer team… what’s her name? Hope Solo. If it was a guy, I would have to say … Justin Tuck.”

It’s no small coincidence that despite being born near Philadelphia, and living in the suburbs of Washington D.C., that Hand goes against local NFC East loyalties as a diehard New York Giants fan. He doesn’t mention Clowney or Nkemdiche when talking about players he models himself after, but rather the Big Blue trio of Tuck, Jason Pierre-Paul and Lawrence Taylor.

“That’s the main reason I grew up a Giants fan, because of all those great defensive players. That’s the kind of player I want to be.”

But what about that three- or four-year stint before the NFL?

“Ah … wait and see, man,” he says, laughing. “Wait and see.”


Getting Defensive
Here's a look at the top-rated defensive ends from previous signing classes, and how they've fared.

Robert Nkemdiche, Loganville, Ga. (Grayson)
Rating: No. 1 overall
Signed With: Ole Miss
A game-changing pass-rusher who has been compared to former North Carolina All-American Julius Peppers. He’ll join his older brother, linebacker Denzel, on the Rebels’ defense this fall.

Jonathan Bullard, Shelby, N.C. (Crest)
Rating: No. 6 overall
Signed With: Florida
Saw increased action in his freshman season due to an injury to Ronald Powell (see below) and made the most of it. Bullard played in all 13 games, racking up 27 tackles (five for a loss) and earning SEC All-Freshman honors.

Jadeveon Clowney, Rock Hill, S.C. (South Pointe)
Rating: No. 1 overall
Signed With: South Carolina
With 21 sacks and counting, he’s considered the best player in college football entering the 2013 season. He’s also already regarded as the consensus No. 1 pick in the 2014 NFL Draft.

Ronald Powell, Moreno Valley, Calif. (Rancho Verde)
Rating: No. 1 overall
Signed With: Florida
As a hybrid LB/DE, he led the Gators in sacks in 2011, but attitude issues and two ACL tears in his left knee sidelined him before the start of the 2012 season. Currently rehabbing for a full return in 2013.

Devon Kennard, Phoenix, Ariz. (Desert Vista)
Rating: No. 8 overall
Signed With: USC
Played three seasons for the Trojans, bouncing between end and linebacker (135 tackles, 13 sacks and 1 INT) before a chest injury forced him to redshirt in 2012. He’ll return this season as a starting hybrid LB/DE in Clancy Pendergast’s 3-4 scheme.

Da’Quan Bowers, Bamberg, S.C. (Bamberg-Erhardt)
Rating: No. 2 overall
Signed With: Clemson
A unanimous All-American in 2010 for the Tigers, Bowers led the nation in sacks (15.5) his junior year before concerns about his knees caused him to drop to the second round of the 2011 NFL Draft, where Tampa Bay took him with the 51st overall pick. Through two NFL seasons, he’s recorded 38 tackles and 4.5 sacks.

Carlos Dunlap, North Charleston, S.C. (Fort Dorchester)
Rating: No. 5 overall
Signed With: Florida
In three seasons with the Gators, he recorded 84 tackles, 19.5 sacks and three blocked kicks, as well as being named Defensive MVP of the Gators’ national title win over Oklahoma in 2009. Drafted 54th overall by the Cincinnati Bengals in 2010, he has 87 tackles and 20 sacks in three seasons.


by Steven Godfrey

Order your copy of Athlon Sports High School Football Annual today!


High school football's next great pass-rushing defensive end, Da'Shawn Hand brings the "Wow Factor."
Post date: Tuesday, August 6, 2013 - 06:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football, News
Path: /college-football/college-football-offseason-news-roundup

The start of the college football season is less than a month away and the offseason didn’t contain any new realignment or any coach motorcycle/coed scandals (fingers crossed).

That doesn’t mean it was a quiet offseason, certainly not for the sports most visible player down in College Station.

The offseason is long and new falls through the cracks. Here’s everything you need to know to get caught up.

1. Johnny Manziel: The important stuff
Johnny Manziel’s offseason activities are well-established, and we’re still not sure if any of it really matters to the product on the field. If anything is going to jeopardize Manziel's season, it may be the news that broke Sunday evening. The NCAA is investigating if Manziel was paid for signing autographs and memorabilia during a trip to South Florida in January. If the NCAA finds a violation, Manziel could be ineligible for all or part of the 2013 season. Before that, the Texas A&M quarterback faced the media barrage at SEC Media Days where he was neither apologetic nor defiant about being a 20-year-old Heisman winner with (parental) money in his pocket. Also, ESPN’s Wright Thompson gave us the definitive profile of what it’s like within the Manziel family right now as the family and the player attempt to cope with the pressures of being a college football superstar. And for the one bit of Manziel news that actually entered the legal system, Manziel pleaded guilty for failing to identify himself to police following a dispute prior to the 2012 season when he was still anonymous enough to do such things.

2. Running backs on the move
As if Louisville didn’t need another edge over its American Athletic Conference opponents, the Cardinals added a former five-star running back and BCS Championship Game MVP. Bringing in Michael Dyer (right) isn’t without risk, though. He hasn’t played football since 2011 when he left Auburn amid a drug suspension. He was also dismissed by Arkansas State before landing at Arkansas Baptist College where he was mentored by former San Jose State coach Fitz Hill. ... In a less controversial move, West Virginia added former Houston running back Charles Sims, who will be eligible immediately. Sims gives Dana Holgorsen an intriguing new toy: Sims has accounted for 1,672 rushing yards, 948 receiving yards and 27 total touchdowns in 22 games. West Virginia also added Rushel Shell, one of Pittsburgh’s top signees before last season. Shell visited UCLA and asked about returning to Pittsburgh, but landed in Morgantown.

3. Quarterback transfers
There will be more quarterback transfers after training camp starts to determine starters and backups, but two already felt the squeeze. Connor Brewer left Texas for Arizona, and Wes Lunt left Oklahoma State for Illinois. The latter drew attention after Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy forbade his 2012 opening day starter from transferring to the SEC, Pac-12, Central Michigan or Southern Miss in addition to the Big 12. Both will be eligible in 2014.

4. The Eddie Vanderdoes saga ends
Notre Dame has had most of the summer to prepare for a 2013 season without starting quarterback Everett Golson, but he’s not the only key personnel departure. Freshman defensive lineman Eddie Vanderdoes, expected to play a major role for the Irish this season, had a change of heart after signing to play in South Bend, but coach Brian Kelly attempted to block the lineman from leaving and playing immediately for UCLA. The NCAA appeals process favored Vanderdoes, and he’ll suit up for the Bruins.

5. Suspension season
Two of the top games in the first week of the season will be impacted by suspensions. TCU defensive end Devonte Fields (10 sacks, 18.5 tackles for a loss) is suspended for the first two games, knocking him out of the LSU game (and Southeastern Louisiana). ... Georgia safety Josh Harvey-Clemons will be suspended in the opener against pass-happy Clemson. ... Florida suspended linebacker Antonio Morrison, a potential breakout player, for the first two games (Toledo, at Miami) even though charges for resisting arrest were dismissed for reasons evident on the police dashcam video. ... Ohio State suspended running back Carlos Hyde for at least the first three games (Buffalo, San Diego State, at Cal) for his role in an altercation in a Columbus night club, though he won’t face charges. Star cornerback Bradley Roby is also facing a suspension following misdemeanor battery charges.

6. Also around the police blotter
Potential starting Virginia Tech running back Michael Holmes was “permanently separated” from the university after he was found guilty of misdemeanor assault and battery. ... Four Vanderbilt players, none starters, were dismissed and banned from campus amid a sex crimes investigation. ... Texas A&M cornerback Deshazor Everett and safety Floyd Raven were charged with misdemeanor assault and criminal mischief after an apartment altercation, but coach Kevin Sumlin has not announced any disciplinary action. ... LSU's top running back, Jeremy Hill, was reinstated thanks to a convenient team vote to bring him back despite his second arrest as a Tiger. ... Washington tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins, a Mackey Award contender, pleaded guilty to a DUI in July, but he may not be suspended for the opener against Boise State.

7. Tragedy at Texas A&M, Utah
Three football communities were devastated when Texas A&M’s Polo Manukainiu, Utah’s Gaius Vaenuku and Euless (Texas) Trinity High’s Lolo Uhatafe were killed in a rollover crash in New Mexico. Manukainiu and Vaenuku were Trinity graduates. Two other passengers — Utah signee Salesi Uhatafe and his father — survived the crash. Manukainiu’s final Tweet before his death indicated he was driving back to Texas on “no sleep.”

8. Oregon gets NCAA closure, Miami does not
The most serious penalty Oregon faced as a result of the Willie Lyles scandal impacted the coach who’s gone to the NFL anyway. Chip Kelly (right) was slapped for a an 18-month show cause, making him unhirable in the college ranks during that time. Also making him unhirable: Coaching the Philadelphia Eagles. Oregon got off light despite paying $25,000 for Lyles’ quesitonable scouting services — no bowl ban and only the loss of one scholarship in each of the next three seasons. ... Miami hasn’t been quite as lucky. The Hurricanes are starting their third season with the cloud of NCAA sanctions over the program, self-imposing bowl bans the last two seasons in the wake of the Nevin Shapiro scandal.

9. And behind the scenes...
Gordon Gee stuck one foot too many in his mouth. The Ohio State president, who once joked he hoped Jim Tressel wouldn’t fire him, retired after comments about Notre Dame and Catholics. “The fathers are holy on Sunday, and they’re holy hell on the rest of the week ... You just can’t trust those damn Catholics on a Thursday or a Friday,” Gee said during a meeting of Ohio State’s athletic council. ... Elsewhere, Colorado hired Rick George as its new athletic director. For a program needing a lift, the Buffaloes looked outside the box by hiring George, the president of business operations for the Texas Rangers. ... Florida State is also in the market for a new athletic director after Randy Spetman stepped down in June.

10. Active players join O'Bannon lawsuit

Six active players agreed to join former UCLA star Ed O'Bannon's lawsuit against the NCAA over the use of athletes' names and likenesses in video games. Arizona linebacker Jake Fischer, Arizona kicker Jake Smith, Clemson cornerback Darius Robinson, Vanderbilt linebacker Chase Garnham, Minnesota tight end Moses Alipate and Minnesota wide receiver Victor Keise all joined O'Bannon's class action lawsuit. The NCAA also ended its contract with EA Sports effective after the NCAA Football 2014 video game, though the move effectively turned licensing to the Collegiate Licensing Company and individual schools and conferences for future video games.

11. The Summer of Stoops
Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops was one of the most vocal coaches during the offseason. He told The Sporting News he didn’t think players should be paid. He said the perception of SEC dominance is based on “propaganda.” He complained about Northern Illinois going to the BCS instead of Oklahoma. And just so we’re clear that he didn’t spend the entire summer as a cranky football coach, he tried to quietly participate in tornado cleanup in Moore, Okla. It took about 30 minutes before he was recognized.

12. And finally, FIU is the gift that keeps on giving
FIU, the school that hired Isiah Thomas to coach its basketball team, fired Mario Cristobal from coaching its football team and replaced him with one of the worst coaches in Illinois history, gave us the best press release of the offseason:

Early this morning, our football team had a workout and barbecue on Crandon Park Beach to conclude our summer conditioning program under the supervision of our strength and conditioning staff. Following the workout, some of our athletes went to rinse off at a designated public shower area and a few of them made a poor decision and changed their clothes in public. I want to apologize to the community and anyone who was at the beach this morning for this unfortunate incident. We are committed to helping our student athletes grow as gentlemen while preparing them for their careers. We are looking into this incident, and if appropriate, will take disciplinary action.

Ron Turner
Head Football Coach

FIU also dismissed it starting running back for discharging a weapon on school property earlier that week.

Catching you up on all the important storylines from the summer
Post date: Tuesday, August 6, 2013 - 06:00
Path: /nfl/fantasy-football-2013-big-board-top-250

NFL training camps are in full swing with league-wide preseason action ready to commence later this week. Better still, the official start of the regular season is a little more than a month away, which means this is a perfect time to update Athlon Sports' Fantasy Football 2013 Big Board.

If there's any early headline for training camp action so far, it's been the number of significant injuries that have already occurred, several of them being season-ending. Injures were already a factor before training camps even began with Michael Crabtree tearing his ACL and Rob Gronkowski undergoing back surgery, and this trend has continued.

Jeremy Maclin and Dennis Pitta are already lost for the season, while Percy Harvin will miss a significant chunk of it after undergoing hip surgery. Not only do these injuries impact these players' respective offenses, the ripple effect carries over to the fantasy world too.

There also are other early injuries that bear watching, such as Arian Foster's calf and back issues that held the Texans' workhorse out of training camp so far. Neither issue is expected to be serious or linger into the start of the season, which is why Foster remains No. 2 on our big board. Still, this is certainly a situation worth keeping an eye on, as is things like Robert Griffin III's return from his knee injury, Ben Roethlisberger's recovery form offseason knee surgery, Maurice Jones-Drew's comeback from foot surgery, and others.

Fantasy Football 2013: Preseason Big Board (Top 250)
Last updated Aug. 7

1Adrian PetersonMINRB5 
2Arian FosterHOURB8Keep an eye on calf injury.
3Marshawn LynchSEARB12 
4Ray RiceBALRB8 
5Jamaal CharlesKCRB10Could be in for huge season.
6Calvin JohnsonDETWR9Top fantasy WR had just 5 TDs.
7Doug MartinTBRB5Sophomore slump coming?
8C.J. SpillerBUFRB12 
9Trent RichardsonCLERB10 
10LeSean McCoyPHIRB12Is he Kelly's No. 1 weapon?
11Dez BryantDALWR11 
12Aaron RodgersGBQB4 
13Drew BreesNOQB7 
14A.J. GreenCINWR12 
15Alfred MorrisWASRB5 
16Steven JacksonATLRB6 
17Peyton ManningDENQB9More weapons for No. 18.
18Matt ForteCHIRB8 
19Brandon MarshallCHIWR8 
20Demaryius ThomasDENWR9 
21Julio JonesATLWR6 
22Tom BradyNEQB10Really needs a healthy Gronk.
23Jimmy GrahamNOTE7 
24Vincent JacksonTBWR5 
25Andre JohnsonHOUWR8 
26Randall CobbGBWR4 
27Stevan RidleyNERB10 
28Roddy WhiteATLWR6 
29Larry FitzgeraldARIWR9New QB should help.
30Victor CruzNYGWR9 
31Wes WelkerDENWR9New team, same results.
32Marques ColstonNOWR7 
33Chris JohnsonTENRB8Can he be elite again?
34Cam NewtonCARQB4 
35Maurice Jones-DrewJACRB9Will he return to old form?
36Frank GoreSFRB9 
37Reggie WayneINDWR8 
38Jordy NelsonGBWR4 
39Matt RyanATLQB6 
40David WilsonNYGRB9 
41Darren McFaddenOAKRB7New scheme, same RB?
42Montee BallDENRB9Golden opportunity for rookie.
43Mike WallaceMIAWR6Will he miss Big Ben?
44Danny AmendolaNEWR10Is he Welker-esque?
45Hakeem NicksNYGWR9Groin injury keeping him off field.
46Colin KaepernickSFQB9The stage is all his.
47Matthew StaffordDETQB9Hoping to bounce back.
48Andrew LuckINDQB8New OC, same Luck?
49Dwayne BoweKCWR10Could he break out in '13?
50Jason WittenDALTE11 
51Darren SprolesNORB7 
52Steve SmithCARWR4 
53Tony RomoDALQB11No excuses now.
54Eric DeckerDENWR9 
55Antonio BrownPITWR5Big Ben's new No. 1.
56Eli ManningNYGQB9 
57Pierre GarconWASWR5 
58DeSean JacksonPHIWR12Clear-cut No. 1 after Maclin's injury.
59Tony GonzalezATLTE6Can he do it again?
60Torrey SmithBALWR8It's his time to shine.
61DeMarco MurrayDALRB11 
62Reggie BushDETRB9Back on turf in DET.
63Vernon DavisSFTE9Could see snaps at WR.
64Anquan BoldinSFWR9No. 1 option w/o Crabtree.
65Stevie JohnsonBUFWR12Dealing with hamstring issue.
66James JonesGBWR4 
67Ryan MathewsSDRB8 
68Russell WilsonSEAQB12Harvin's injury is huge blow.
69Robert Griffin IIIWASQB5Will he be ready by Week 1?
70Rob GronkowskiNETE10Probably start season on PUP list.
71Eddie LacyGBRB4 
72Chris IvoryNYJRB10 
73Lamar MillerMIARB6 
74Cecil ShortsJACWR9 
75Greg JenningsMINWR5Needs to let his play do the talking.
76Tavon AustinSTLWR11 
77Ben RoethlisbergerPITQB5Knee shouldn't be an issue.
78Andy DaltonCINQB12 
79Joe FlaccoBALQB8 
80Sidney RiceSEAWR12Will his knee hold up?
81Owen DanielsHOUTE8 
82Kyle RudolphMINTE5 
83Le'Veon BellPITRB5Is he the answer for Steelers?
84T.Y. HiltonINDWR8 
85Mike WilliamsTBWR5 
86Vick BallardINDRB8Bradshaw changes outlook.
87Ahmad BradshawINDRB8Who's No. 1 - him or Ballard?
88Greg OlsenCARTE4 
89Antonio GatesSDTE8 
90BenJarvus Green-EllisCINRB12Could see less touches.
91Shane VereenNERB10Versatility could increase role.
92Rashard MendenhallARIRB9Knee tendinitis already an issue.
93Miles AustinDALWR11 
94Lance MooreNOWR7 
95Kenny BrittTENWR8 
96Michael VickPHIQB12How long will he keep job?
97Emmanuel SandersPITWR5 
98Brandon MyersNYGTE9 
99Jared CookSTLTE11Is this his year?
100Jermichael FinleyGBTE4 
101Jay CutlerCHIQB8 
102Philip RiversSDQB8 
103Sam BradfordSTLQB11 
104Chris GivensSTLWR11 
105Josh GordonCLEWR10Will miss first two games.
106Martellus BennettCHITE8 
107Brandon PettigrewDETTE9 
108Andre BrownNYGRB9If Wilson slips, he's ready.
109DeAngelo WilliamsCARRB4Current No. 1 b/c of Stewart injury.
110Giovani BernardCINRB12Could pounce if BJGE falters.
111Mark IngramNORB7 
112Johnathan FranklinGBRB4 
113Daryl RichardsonSTLRB11No. 1 on Rams depth chart.
114Mikel LeshoureDETRB9 
115Bryce BrownPHIRB12 
116Seattle SeahawksSEADST12 
117Denarius MooreOAKWR7 
118Michael FloydARIWR9Ready to break out?
119San Francisco 49ersSFDST9 
120Houston TexansHOUDST8 
121Denver BroncosDENDST9Von Miller's appeal one to watch.
122Kendall WrightTENWR8Could end up No. 1 in TEN.
123DeAndre HopkinsHOUWR8 
124Matt SchaubHOUQB8 
125Josh FreemanTBQB5 
126Carson PalmerARIQB9So far, so good with new team.
127Alex SmithKCQB10No QB controversy in KC.
128Alshon JefferyCHIWR8 
129Golden TateSEAWR12Opportunity arises with Harvin's injury.
130Malcom FloydSDWR8 
131Cincinnati BengalsCINDST12 
132Ryan TannehillMIAQB6Struggled in Hall of Fame game.
133Jake LockerTENQB8Could be make or break year.
134Christian PonderMINQB5Ditto for Ponder.
135Brian HartlineMIAWR6 
136Andre RobertsARIWR9 
137Ryan WilliamsARIRB9Setback with knee has delayed his training camp debut.
138Bernard PierceBALRB8 
139Jonathan StewartCARRB4Not off to good start health-wise.
140Rueben RandleNYGWR9 
141Justin BlackmonJACWR9Out first four games.
142Ed DicksonBALTE8Becomes No. 1 w/ Pitta injury.
143Dustin KellerMIATE6 
144Isaiah PeadSTLRB11Suspended for opening game.
145Jacquizz RodgersATLRB6 
146Ronnie HillmanDENRB9Sits atop depth chart, for now.
147St. Louis RamsSTLDST11 
148Greg LittleCLEWR10 
149Ryan BroylesDETWR9Looking strong in camp so far.
150Vincent BrownSDWR8 
151Santana MossWASWR5 
152Fred DavisWASTE5If healthy, he could have big season.
153Coby FleenerINDTE8Asserting himself in second training camp.
154Chicago BearsCHIDST8 
155Pittsburgh SteelersPITDST5 
156Green Bay PackersGBDST4 
157Baltimore RavensBALDST8 
158Brandon WeedenCLEQB10 
159Geno SmithNYJQB10Already making noise in camp.
160Matt FlynnOAKQB7May be his last chance.
161Brandon LloydFAWR Will veteran find a job?
162Santonio HolmesNYJWR10Foot continues to be an issue.
163Miami DolphinsMIADST6 
164Brandon LaFellCARWR4 
165Andrew HawkinsCINWR12 
166Kevin KolbBUFQB12EJ Manuel is lurking.
167Fred JacksonBUFRB12 
168Ben TateHOURB8 
169Chad HenneJACQB9 
170EJ ManuelBUFQB12Can he unseat Kolb?
171Jacoby JonesBALWR8 
172Jeremy KerleyNYJWR10 
173Jordan CameronCLETE10 
174Dwayne AllenINDTE8 
175Shonn GreeneTENRB8 
176Danny WoodheadSDRB8 
177Michael BushCHIRB8 
178New England PatriotsNEDST10 
179Jermaine GreshamCINTE12 
180Jake BallardNETE10Could emerge as No. 1 TE in NE.
181Stephen GostkowskiNEK10 
182Tyler EifertCINTE12 
183Blair WalshMINK5 
184Robert TurbinSEARB12 
185Joseph RandleDALRB11Strong showing in Hall of Fame game.
186Matt BryantATLK6 
187Rob HouslerARITE9Sleeper candidate at TE.
188Mark SanchezNYJQB10Geno already applying the pressure.
189Pierre ThomasNORB7 
190Mike TolbertCARRB4 
191Darrius Heyward-BeyINDWR8 
192Cordarrelle PattersonMINWR5 
193Justin HunterTENWR8 
194Keenan AllenSDWR8 
195Rod StreaterOAKWR7 
196Kirk CousinsWASQB5Value tied to RGIII's knee.
197Blaine GabbertJACQB9 
198Isaac RedmanPITRB5 
199Marcel ReeceOAKRB7 
200Michael TurnerFARB Will he find a team?
201Phil DawsonSFK9 
202Justin TuckerBALK8 
203New York GiantsNYGDST9 
204Dallas CowboysDALDST11 
205Braylon EdwardsNYJWR10 
206Jarius WrightMINWR5MIN needs a No. 2 WR.
207Stephen HillNYJWR10 
208Zach MillerSEATE12 
209Jacob TammeDENTE9 
210Matt PraterDENK9 
211Randy BullockHOUK8 
212Davone BessCLEWR10 
213Mohamed SanuCINWR12 
214Arizona CardinalsARIDST9 
215Austin PettisSTLWR11Could be a factor for Rams.
216Nate WashingtonTENWR8Don't forget about old vet.
217Justin ForsettJACRB9 
218Brent CelekPHITE12No lack of TEs in PHI.
219Marcedes LewisJACTE9 
220Atlanta FalconsATLDST6 
221Nick FolesPHIQB12His job if Vick struggles.
222Jason AvantPHIWR12Maclin injury opens door.
223Nate BurlesonDETWR9Coming back from broken leg.
224Zach ErtzPHITE12 
225Delanie WalkerTENTE8 
226Cleveland BrownsCLEDST10 
227Tampa Bay BuccaneersTBDST5 
228San Diego ChargersSDDST8 
229Doug BaldwinSEAWR12 
230Donnie AveryKCWR10 
231Terrance WilliamsDALWR11 
232Eddie RoyalSDWR8Moves up b/c of Alexander's injury.
233Josh MorganWASWR5No. 2 WR spot in WAS there for taking.
234Jon BaldwinKCWR10 
235Daniel ThomasMIARB6 
236LaMichael JamesSFRB9Could win KR/PR job.
237Dan BaileyDALK11 
238Josh BrownNYGK9 
239Garrett HartleyNOK7 
240Sebastian JanikowskiOAKK7 
241Greg ZuerleinSTLK11 
242David AkersDETK9 
243Steven HauschkaSEAK12 
244A.J. JenkinsSFWR9Crabtree injury opens door wide.
245Leonard HankersonWASWR5 
246Jonathan DwyerPITRB5 
247Rashad JenningsOAKRB7 
248Dexter McClusterKCWR10 
249T.J. GrahamBUFWR12Open battle for Bills' No. 2 WR.
250Heath MillerPITTE5Most likely will start season on PUP list.

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 Fantasy Football Rankings:

Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends
Defense/Special Teams

<p> Reigning NFL MVP and rushing champion Adrian Peterson tops our fantasy football Big Board</p>
Post date: Monday, August 5, 2013 - 17:00
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2013-quarterback-rankings

NFL training camps are in full swing and while no significant injuries have yet to befall any quarterbacks, they have still had an impact on Athlon Sports' Fantasy Football 2013 Quarterback Rankings. For example, Seattle's Russell Wilson has already been dealt a big blow with new wide receiver Percy Harvin expected to be out until at least sometime in November after undergoing hip surgery.

Wilson, who tied Peyton Manning's rookie record with 26 touchdown passes a year ago, is still a viable starting option, but the loss of his presumed No. 1 option does impact his value and has caused him to fall a few spots in our rankings below. Philadelphia's Michael Vick also has already lost a key target with Jeremy Maclin's season-ending ACL injury. Vick's case, however, is a little different in that the veteran's fantasy value was already in question due to his contract status (one year) and a new coaching staff leading the Eagles.

Tom Brady has plenty of question marks of his own as it relates to weapons give the turnover the Patriots have seen at wide receiver and the current state of their tight end depth chart. However, Brady's track record speaks for itself, which is why we have him ranked as a top-five fantasy QB.

Order your Athlon Sports 2013 Fantasy Football Preview magazine today!

Fantasy Football 2013: Preseason Quarterback Rankings
Updated Aug. 5


1Aaron RodgersGB4
2Drew BreesNO7
3Peyton ManningDEN9
4Tom BradyNE10
5Cam NewtonCAR4
6Matt RyanATL6
7Colin KaepernickSF9
8Matthew StaffordDET9
9Andrew LuckIND8
10Tony RomoDAL11
11Eli ManningNYG9
12Russell WilsonSEA12
13Robert Griffin IIIWAS5
14Ben RoethlisbergerPIT5
15Andy DaltonCIN12
16Joe FlaccoBAL8
17Michael VickPHI12
18Jay CutlerCHI8
19Philip RiversSD8
20Sam BradfordSTL11
21Matt SchaubHOU8
22Josh FreemanTB5
23Carson PalmerARI9
24Alex SmithKC10
25Ryan TannehillMIA6
26Jake LockerTEN8
27Christian PonderMIN5
28Brandon WeedenCLE10
29Geno SmithNYJ10
30Matt FlynnOAK7
31Kevin KolbBUF12
32Chad HenneJAC9
33EJ ManuelBUF12
34Mark SanchezNYJ10
35Kirk CousinsWAS5
36Blaine GabbertJAC9
37Nick FolesPHI12
38Ryan FitzpatrickTEN8
39Jason CampbellCLE10
40Matt CasselMIN5
41Bruce GradkowskiPIT5
42Shaun HillDET9
43Drew StantonARI9
44Ryan MallettNE10
45Matt MooreMIA6
46Matt HasselbeckIND8
47T.J. YatesHOU8
48Terrelle PryorOAK7
49Kyle OrtonDAL11
50Brock OsweilerDEN9
51Matt BarkleyPHI12
52Mike GlennonTB5
53Tyrod TaylorBAL8
54Derek AndersonCAR4
55Tarvaris JacksonSEA12
56Chase DanielKC10
57Colt McCoySF9
58Josh JohnsonCIN12
59Kellen ClemensSTL11
60Ryan LindleyARI9

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 Fantasy Football Rankings:

2013 Big Board (Top 250)
Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends
Defense/Special Teams


Fantasy Football 2013: Quarterback Rankings
Post date: Monday, August 5, 2013 - 17:00
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2013-wide-receiver-rankings

NFL training camps are in full swing and even though preseason action has yet to really begin, Athlon Sports' Fantasy Football 2013 Wide Receiver Rankings have seen their fair share of changes. It actually started back in May when San Francisco's Michael Crabtree tore his Achilles. Although it's possible he could return before the end of the season, the injury all but ruined Crabtree's status a potential breakout candidate for this season.

The hits have kept coming, unfortunately, with Jeremy Maclin also already lost for the season because of a torn ACL and Percy Harvin out until at least November because of hip surgery. These injuries present opportunities for bigger numbers from the likes of an Anquan Boldin, DeSean Jackson and Sidney Rice, as well as open the door for someone else on the respective team's roster to emerge.

Fortunately, there are still plenty of legitimate No. 1 options who are healthy, a list that begins with Calvin Johnson. The man named as Megatron broke Jerry Rice's single-season record for receiving yards and was fantasy's No. 1 wide receiver last season despite catching just five touchdown passes.

Order your Athlon Sports 2013 Fantasy Football Preview magazine today!

Fantasy Football 2013: Preseason Wide Receiver Rankings
Updated Aug. 7


1Calvin JohnsonDET9
2Dez BryantDAL11
3A.J. GreenCIN12
4Brandon MarshallCHI8
5Demaryius ThomasDEN9
6Julio JonesATL6
7Vincent JacksonTB5
8Andre JohnsonHOU8
9Randall CobbGB4
10Roddy WhiteATL6
11Larry FitzgeraldARI9
12Victor CruzNYG9
13Wes WelkerDEN9
14Marques ColstonNO7
15Reggie WayneIND8
16Jordy NelsonGB4
17Mike WallaceMIA6
18Danny AmendolaNE10
19Hakeem NicksNYG9
20Dwayne BoweKC10
21Steve SmithCAR4
22Eric DeckerDEN9
23Antonio BrownPIT5
24Pierre GarconWAS5
25DeSean JacksonPHI12
26Torrey SmithBAL8
27Anquan BoldinSF9
28Stevie JohnsonBUF12
29James JonesGB4
30Cecil ShortsJAC9
31Greg JenningsMIN5
32Tavon AustinSTL11
33Sidney RiceSEA12
34T.Y. HiltonIND8
35Mike WilliamsTB5
36Miles AustinDAL11
37Lance MooreNO7
38Kenny BrittTEN8
39Emmanuel SandersPIT5
40Chris GivensSTL11
41Josh GordonCLE10
42Denarius MooreOAK7
43Michael FloydARI9
44Kendall WrightTEN8
45DeAndre HopkinsHOU8
46Alshon JefferyCHI8
47Golden TateSEA12
48Malcom FloydSD8
49Brian HartlineMIA6
50Andre RobertsARI9
51Rueben RandleNYG9
52Justin BlackmonJAC9
53Greg LittleCLE10
54Ryan BroylesDET9
55Vincent BrownSD8
56Santana MossWAS5
57Brandon LloydFA 
58Santonio HolmesNYJ10
59Brandon LaFellCAR4
60Andrew HawkinsCIN12
61Jacoby JonesBAL8
62Jeremy KerleyNYJ10
63Darrius Heyward-BeyIND8
64Cordarrelle PattersonMIN5
65Justin HunterTEN8
66Keenan AllenSD8
67Rod StreaterOAK7
68Braylon EdwardsNYJ10
69Jarius WrightMIN5
70Stephen HillNYJ10
71Davone BessCLE10
72Mohamed SanuCIN12
73Austin PettisSTL11
74Nate WashingtonTEN8
75Jason AvantPHI12
76Nate BurlesonDET9
77Doug BaldwinSEA12
78Donnie AveryKC10
79Terrance WilliamsDAL11
80Eddie RoyalSD8
81Josh MorganWAS5
82Jon BaldwinKC10
83A.J. JenkinsSF9
84Leonard HankersonWAS5
85Dexter McClusterKC10
86T.J. GrahamBUF12
87Robert WoodsBUF12
88Domenik HixonCAR4
89Percy HarvinSEA12
90Michael CrabtreeSF9

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 Fantasy Football Rankings:

2013 Big Board (Top 250)
Running Backs
Tight Ends
Defense/Special Teams

Fantasy Football 2013: Wide Receiver Rankings
Post date: Monday, August 5, 2013 - 17:00
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2013-tight-end-rankings

Preseason action has yet to really begin and there are already several familiar names missing on Athlon Sports' Fantasy Football 2013 Tight End Rankings. While Aaron Hernandez' omission goes without saying, Dennis Pitta's season-ending injury was unexpected and means the loss of one of the league's most productive tight ends (not to mention one of Joe Flacco's favorite targets) from last season. Will Ed Dickson be able to step up and fill Pitta's big shoes? Only time will.

Speaking of time, it may be running out on Rob Gronkowski as it relates to his status as one of the top fantasy tight ends. The Gronk underwent back surgery in June and it's looking more and more likely that he will start the season on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list, which means he would miss the first six games, at minimum. His uncertainty, not to mention ever-growing medical file, is why Gronkowski is barely hanging in at No. 5 in our rankings.

Order your Athlon Sports 2013 Fantasy Football Preview magazine today!

Fantasy Football 2013: Preseason Tight End Rankings
Updated Aug. 5


1Jimmy GrahamNO7
2Jason WittenDAL11
3Tony GonzalezATL6
4Vernon DavisSF9
5Rob GronkowskiNE10
6Owen DanielsHOU8
7Kyle RudolphMIN5
8Greg OlsenCAR4
9Antonio GatesSD8
10Brandon MyersNYG9
11Jared CookSTL11
12Jermichael FinleyGB4
13Martellus BennettCHI8
14Brandon PettigrewDET9
15Ed DicksonBAL8
16Dustin KellerMIA6
17Fred DavisWAS5
18Coby FleenerIND8
19Jordan CameronCLE10
20Dwayne AllenIND8
21Jermaine GreshamCIN12
22Jake BallardNE10
23Tyler EifertCIN12
24Rob HouslerARI9
25Zach MillerSEA12
26Jacob TammeDEN9
27Brent CelekPHI12
28Marcedes LewisJAC9
29Zach ErtzPHI12
30Delanie WalkerTEN8
31Heath MillerPIT5
32Joel DreessenDEN9
33James CaseyPHI12
34Travis KelceKC10
35Luke StockerTB5
36David PaulsonPIT5
37Kellen WinslowNYJ10
38Tony SchefflerDET9
39Scott ChandlerBUF12
40Tony MoeakiKC10
41Garrett GrahamHOU8
42Anthony FasanoKC10
43David AusberryOAK7
44Ben WatsonNO7
45Levine ToiloloATL6
46Gavin EscobarDAL11
47Julius ThomasDEN9
48Tom CrabtreeTB5
49Michael HoomanawanuiNE10
50Taylor ThompsonTEN8
51Jeff CumberlandNYJ10
52Ladarius GreenSD8
53Logan PaulsenWAS5
54Jordan ReedWAS5
55Vance McDonaldSF9
56Chris GraggBUF12
57Zach SudfeldNE10
58Orson CharlesCIN12
59Richard GordonOAK7
60Lance KendricksSTL11

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 Fantasy Football Rankings:

2013 Big Board (Top 250)
Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Defense/Special Teams

Fantasy Football 2013: Tight End Rankings
Post date: Monday, August 5, 2013 - 17:00
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2013-defensespecial-teams-rankings

Seattle remains the No. 1 DST on Athlon Sports' Fantasy Football 2013 Defense/Special Teams rankings as we get ready for preseason action, but it's another team that's getting plenty of our attention.

The Denver Broncos are currently a top-five DST option, but their ranking has already been impacted by the news of Pro Bowl linebacker's Von Miller's pending four-game suspension. If Miller wins his appeal and misses no or fewer games than a strong argument could be made to move the Broncos as high as No. 2. If he loses his appeal, however, the Broncos could tumble a few more spots, depending on how the teams immediately below them are looking entering Week 1.

Miller may just be one player on a 11-man unit, but his impact as a pass rusher and big playmaker is akin to what would happen if the Texans were to lose J.J. Watt for any significant amount of time. This is especially true for the Broncos now that Elvis Dumervil is in Baltimore. And who do the Ravens open the season against? That's right, the Broncos.

Order your Athlon Sports 2013 Fantasy Football Preview magazine today!

Fantasy Football 2013: Preseason Defense/Special Teams Rankings


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 Fantasy Football Rankings:

2013 Big Board (Top 250)
Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends

Fantasy Football 2013: Defense/Special Teams Rankings
Post date: Monday, August 5, 2013 - 17:00
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2013-kicker-rankings

Even kickers haven't been immune to the injury bug as league-wide preseason action gets ready to heat up. Tampa Bay's Connor Barth tore his Achilles in a charity basketball game just prior to the start of training camp, prompting the team to sign Lawrence Tynes. While Tynes doesn't even appear in the top half of Athlon Sports' Fantasy Football 2013 Kicker Rankings, it doesn't mean the veteran should be ignored either. After all, how many last year predicted that Minnesota's Blair Walsh would go from  unheralded rookie to an All-Pro and fantasy's No. 1 kicker?

Order your Athlon Sports 2013 Fantasy Football Preview magazine today!

Fantasy Football 2013: Preseason Kicker Rankings
Updated Aug. 5


1Stephen GostkowskiNE10
2Blair WalshMIN5
3Matt BryantATL6
4Phil DawsonSF9
5Justin TuckerBAL8
6Matt PraterDEN9
7Randy BullockHOU8
8Dan BaileyDAL11
9Josh BrownNYG9
10Garrett HartleyNO7
11Sebastian JanikowskiOAK7
12Greg ZuerleinSTL11
13David AkersDET9
14Steven HauschkaSEA12
15Robbie GouldCHI8
16Mike NugentCIN12
17Mason CrosbyGB4
18Lawrence TynesTB5
19Adam VinatieriIND8
20Alex HeneryPHI12
21Shaun SuishamPIT5
22Rob BironasTEN8
23Ryan SuccopKC10
24Nick NovakSD8
25Jay FeelyARI9
26Shayne GrahamCLE10
27Kai ForbathWAS5
28Graham GanoCAR4
29Josh ScobeeJAC9
30Nick FolkNYJ10
31Rian LindellBUF12
32Dan CarpenterMIA6

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 Fantasy Football Rankings:

2013 Big Board (Top 250)
Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends
Defense/Special Teams

Post date: Monday, August 5, 2013 - 17:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football, News
Path: /college-football/johnny-manziel-timeline

Johnathan Manziel is an incredible football player and the only redshirt freshman to win the Heisman Trophy.

Where many of us would shrink under the pressure, he is most at home on the football field, between the lines, under center and in front of 100,000 screaming nut-jobs. This is where Johnathan Manziel can be himself.

But Johnny Football is a totally different person.

He parties with Mark Cuban, Justin Timberlake, Drake, Jessica Biel and the entire Duck Dynasty crew. He rubs elbows with hip-hop and NBA stars, vacations in Cabo and tees it up at Pebble Beach. But he also gets into meaningless twitter spats with people who buy the ink by the barrel (looking at you, Paul Finebaum and Matt Hayes). He trolls opposing fan bases, rips on his own college campus and gets kicked-out of prestigious summer camps.

Keeping up with Johnathan Manziel is easy for Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin. But keeping track of Johnny Football is a totally different task. And it all started well before Manziel played his first college football game against Florida last September.

June 2012: Manziel and best friend/handler/secretary Steven Brant are arrested in Northgate district of College Station after getting into a fight with 47-year-old Marvin McKinney. Brant reportedly used a racial slur and the fight ensued. Manziel was charged with disorderly conduct, possessing a false identification (two, actually) and failure to identify. This happened while Manziel was battling Jameill Showers for the starting job before he ever played a down of college football.

July 2012: Manziel was privately suspended indefinitely following the incident and, according to Sportsday, was going to transfer to another school had the suspension not been lifted. Manziel eventually won the appeal, was reinstated and became the official starting quarterback of the Texas A&M Aggies.

Nov. 9, 2012: According to ESPN, the day before the historic Alabama-Texas A&M game that basically won Manziel the Heisman, the quarterback was in the Aggies team hotel signing more than 50 items for a “prominent autograph broker on eBay.” The broker added that more than 200 more items were signed a few days after the game. Friend and personal assistant Nathan Finch later informed the broker that he would no longer being signing things for free.

Dec. 8, 2012: The first redshirt freshman in NCAA history is awarded the Heisman Trophy when Johnny Manziel tops Manti Te’o and Collin Klein for sports most prestigious award.

Jan. 6, 2013: The reported massive signing of autographs for a huge five-figure paycheck takes place in Miami at the BCS National Championship game. More on this later. A few days earlier, Manziel was openly brazen about his “casino ballin'” when he instagrams a photo of himself and his buddies in an Oklahoma casino with handfuls of cash. This was his twitter response to the internet uproar: “Nothing illegal about being 18+ in a casino and winning money...KEEP HATING!” Let the trolling begin.

January 2013: Manziel teams up with trick shot superstars Dude Perfect Crew:

March 2013: Manziel takes a spring break vacation to Cabo, Mexico. A picture of Manziel shirtless and with a Texas Longhorns tattoo surfaces on the web. Many called the tattoo photoshopped, however, Manziel himself admitted it was a fake “henna” tattoo. More trolling.

March 2013: In spring practice, Manziel throws three interceptions, the last of which causes a defensive graduate assistant to jump up and down in celebration. Manziel was furious and shoves the GA and the two have to be broken up by teammates and coaches. It’s not all that unusual to see pushing and shoving on a football practice field, so take it for what it's worth.

April 2013: Manziel throws out the first pitch at a Texas Rangers home game.

May 2013: Manziel shoots a 79 at Pebble Beach and gets to throw out another first pitch, this time at a San Diego Padres game. Additionally, he heads out west to work with notable quarterback guru George Whitfield. Many big-time college quarterbacks have done this of late and, reportedly, Manziel completed 25-of-27 passes... blindfolded.

June 2013: It really isn’t worth sitting through, but Manziel and teammate Ryan Swope starred in Granger Smith’s music video “Silverado Bench Seat”. This isn’t part of the story at all, but it is funny that Manziel is featured in the video, of course, signing autographs.

June 10, 2013: Manziel tweets about being at Game 2 of the NBA Finals in South Beach. He is a Dallas Mavericks fan and grew up outside of San Antonio. Troll much?

June 2013: Manziel is given a parking ticket for parking the wrong way in front of his house and for his car windows being tinted too dark. He was out of town on a fishing trip and had the bizarre luxury of having a phone conversation with the police officer who wrote the ticket. Afterward, Manziel learns his new black Mercedes-Benz has been keyed. Manziel sent out the tweet heard ‘round the state: “Bull--- like tonight is the reason I can’t wait to leave College Station…whenever it may be.” It was immediately deleted and he followed that up with “Don’t ever forget that I love A&M with all of my heart, but please please walk a day in my shoes.” Yes, our bleeding hearts go out to you, kid.

July 2013: Johnny Manziel is sent home from the Manning Passing Academy. He was serving as a college coach and advisor where hundreds of kids from around the nation get the chance to work out with some of their heroes — undoubtedly Manziel was the biggest name. However, “after missing and being late for practice assignments,” he was sent home, by what most believe, was Archie Manning. Some say he was ill and others say he was out partying the night before. Either way, he got kicked out of the Manning Passing Academy. A few days later, Manziel is in attendance at the ESPY’s in Los Angeles.

July 2013: Manziel is the star of the show at the annual SEC Media Days circus in Hoover, Ala.

July 26-27, 2013: Manziel is kicked out of a frat party at the University of Texas. Video shows some (idiot) frat bros throwing beer cans at their arch-rival quarterback as he walks out. That doesn’t phase the young star, however, as he returns to another frat party the next day wearing a Tim Tebow jersey. Trolling at its finest.

July 30, 2013: Wright Thompson’s story about Johnny, his father Paul and the entire off-season is published online and in ESPN The Magazine. The story paints a bizarre and blindingly accurate portrait of Manziel’s upbringing, internal struggle and change in personality after gaining fame from his Heisman Trophy exploits. It is a brilliant piece of work from Thompson, but the timing is strange and no good could have come from it being published just weeks before camp opened for Texas A&M.

Aug. 4, 2013: “Outside the Lines” reports that Manziel is under NCAA investigation for accepting a five-figure flat fee for signing hundreds of autographs with a well-known memorabilia broker Drew Tieman back in January. Tieman met with the star quarterback at his residence in South Florida where the potential transaction took place. Multiple sources have confirmed to ESPN that this meeting happened, however, no one was in the closed-door meeting where money could have changed hands.

Aug. 5, 2013: Texas A&M opens camp and Kevin Sumlin speaks with the media. Johnny Manziel and the Aggies decide it’s best he doesn’t speak publicly at this time.

And that is where we stand in this Manziel media world we live in today. Most of the incidents listed above, if you want to call them that, are much to do about nothing. It actually IS just a kid being a kid, albeit a cocky, immature one. But when the NCAA gets involved and there is talk of major violations, things get serious in a hurry.

College football starts in 24 days and Texas A&M begins playing football in 26 days when Rice comes to town August 31. The Aggies expect to compete for an SEC and National Championship in 2013. Hundreds of millions are pouring into the ever-growing Kyle Field and its surrounding facilities in anticipation of the very bright future of TAMU athletics. 

But who will be playing quarterback? Will it be the guy who led the nation in total offense, scored 47 total touchdowns and miraculously defeated Alabama? Or will it be the guy who cusses his aunt and demands his daddy buy him a Mercedes?

Or will it be Matt Joeckel?


A look at Johnny Manziel's off-the-field antics.
Post date: Monday, August 5, 2013 - 16:00
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2013-running-back-rankings

NFL training camps are in full swing, although injuries have prevented several running backs from taking part in practice. While the top spots on Athlon Sports' Fantasy Football 2013 Running Back Rankings remain largely unchanged, there is certainly one injury situation worth watching.

Houston's Arian Foster has yet to make his training camp debut, as he was first sidelined by a calf injury he sustained during OTAs in March and then a back issue. The team doens't think either issue is that serious or will be factor come Week 1, but considering Foster is behind only Adrian Peterson on our rankings, it goes without saying the sooner he shows up on the practice field the better.

LeSean McCoy, Maurice Jones-Drew and Darren McFadden are just a few of the others who are coming back from significant injuries. Each are capable of putting up huge numbers, but only if they are fully healthy. Getting through training camp unscathed would be a huge step and will only help each player's draft position.

Order your Athlon Sports 2013 Fantasy Football Preview magazine today!

Fantasy Football 2013: Preseason Running Back Rankings
Updated Aug. 5


1Adrian PetersonMIN5
2Arian FosterHOU8
3Marshawn LynchSEA12
4Ray RiceBAL8
5Jamaal CharlesKC10
6Doug MartinTB5
7C.J. SpillerBUF12
8Trent RichardsonCLE10
9LeSean McCoyPHI12
10Alfred MorrisWAS5
11Steven JacksonATL6
12Matt ForteCHI8
13Stevan RidleyNE10
14Chris JohnsonTEN8
15Maurice Jones-DrewJAC9
16Frank GoreSF9
17David WilsonNYG9
18Darren McFaddenOAK7
19Montee BallDEN9
20Darren SprolesNO7
21DeMarco MurrayDAL11
22Reggie BushDET9
23Ryan MathewsSD8
24Eddie LacyGB4
25Chris IvoryNYJ10
26Lamar MillerMIA6
27Le'Veon BellPIT5
28Vick BallardIND8
29Ahmad BradshawIND8
30BenJarvus Green-EllisCIN12
31Shane VereenNE10
32Rashard MendenhallARI9
33Andre BrownNYG9
34DeAngelo WilliamsCAR4
35Giovani BernardCIN12
36Mark IngramNO7
37Johnathan FranklinGB4
38Daryl RichardsonSTL11
39Mikel LeshoureDET9
40Bryce BrownPHI12
41Ryan WilliamsARI9
42Bernard PierceBAL8
43Jonathan StewartCAR4
44Isaiah PeadSTL11
45Jacquizz RodgersATL6
46Ronnie HillmanDEN9
47Fred JacksonBUF12
48Ben TateHOU8
49Shonn GreeneTEN8
50Danny WoodheadSD8
51Michael BushCHI8
52Robert TurbinSEA12
53Joseph RandleDAL11
54Pierre ThomasNO7
55Mike TolbertCAR4
56Isaac RedmanPIT5
57Marcel ReeceOAK7
58Michael TurnerFA 
59Justin ForsettJAC9
60Daniel ThomasMIA6
61LaMichael JamesSF9
62Jonathan DwyerPIT5
63Rashad JenningsOAK7
64Joique BellDET9
65Toby GerhartMIN5
66Bilal PowellNYJ10
67Mike GillisleeMIA6
68Willis McGaheeFA 
69Cedric BensonFA 
70Montario HardestyCLE10
71Knowshon MorenoDEN9
72Shaun DraughnKC10
73DuJuan HarrisGB4
74Felix JonesPHI12
75Ronnie BrownSD8
76Kendall HunterSF9
77LaRod Stephens-HowlingPIT5
78Stepfan TaylorARI9
79Roy HeluWAS5
80Donald BrownIND8
81Andre EllingtonARI9
82Mike JamesTB5
83Kerwynn WilliamsIND8
84Zac StacySTL11
85Dion LewisCLE10
86Christine MichaelSEA12
87Latavius MurrayOAK7
88Knile DavisKC10
89LeGarrette BlountNE10
90Mike GoodsonNYJ10

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 Fantasy Football Rankings:

2013 Big Board (Top 250)
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends
Defense/Special Teams

Fantasy Football 2013: Running Back Rankings
Post date: Monday, August 5, 2013 - 15:00
Path: /nascar/hendrick-motorsports-continues-nascar-domination-pocono

Jimmie Johnson isn’t the only driver this season that’s made a specialty of serving up wins for someone else. For Kasey Kahne, this year has been a long line of should-have-beens, as top 5s were the result in a car capable of outright domination out front. One of the best cars on intermediates this season, he’s instead on the Chase bubble through no fault of his own. Three restrictor plate wrecks — none of them completely of his making — combined with a wreck at Darlington while leading had him searching for a summer of redemption.

Sunday offered that opportunity once Johnson’s flat tire — another bad luck moment for the No. 48 — left Pocono’s race wide open for someone else. But for Kahne, these days are still bittersweet. He seized an opportunity for a second victory, putting the rubber stamp on his season and rising back to the top after encountering adversity. One of his closest friends, the late Jason Leffler, killed in a Sprint car wreck earlier this summer died before ever getting the chance, his NASCAR opportunities few and far between after a few years of struggle.

“Jason, I thought about it on my way up here on Friday,” said Kahne. “I was like, man, the last time I was here he flew with me here (driving the No. 19 car, finishing last) and flew back with me. Just me and him. We spent a bunch of time together and then that happened that Wednesday. So it was tough.”

Racers are a rough breed; they have to be, considering the risks and rollercoaster results they encounter. But when it comes to tragedy, the same type of passion that drives them on the racetrack causes them to purposefully never forget. It’s notable that at a time of great joy, Kahne’s first thoughts were sitting with someone else, the mark of an athlete who cares about more than just the checkered flag.

Meanwhile, the rest of the competition will spend Monday caring about catching one organization in particular. Let’s go “Through the Gears” and find out who …

FIRST GEAR: Hendrick Motorsports is hot. Red hot.  Ryan Newman
Kahne’s win, a brilliant drive highlighted by a power move past Jeff Gordon on the penultimate laps, was another case of Hendrick vs. Hendrick. The teammates were there to capitalize on Johnson’s misfortune, joining Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Stewart-Haas’ Ryan Newman in putting four HMS chassis and engines inside the top 5. Only Kurt Busch broke up the monopoly, with Brad Keselowski in sixth seemingly the only car that could compete up front with the Chevys.

But the Hendrick push has been no one-week wonder. On the contrary, since Memorial Day Weekend it’s far more than the No. 48 car that’s been in control of the field. Five of the last nine races have been captured by HMS-powered cars, with Johnson giving away two of the other four at Michigan and Kentucky, respectively. All four HMS team cars are inside the top 10 in points, putting them in position to pull a “Chase sweep” for a second straight year. Tony Stewart and Newman, from the heavily aligned Stewart-Haas Racing shop, are competing to make it as “wild cards;” in a best-case scenario, that will mean half of the 12-car field has Hendrick horsepower under the hood. 

Meanwhile, the rest of the field looks haphazard at best. The Gibbs cars, still thought to be Hendrick’s main rivals, have won just once since May; even then, Kenseth took advantage of late-race strategy and a Johnson mistake at Kentucky rather than running up front all day. Kevin Harvick, solidly in the Chase field, has spent two straight races outside the top 10. Roush Fenway Racing, with Carl Edwards and Greg Biffle, simply struggle to stay consistent week-to-week. Clint Bowyer and Martin Truex Jr., possible entrants from Michael Waltrip Racing, top 10 you to death. That’s not gonna do it in the postseason.

Five races remain for the rest of the field to figure something out. But right now, each week isn’t just Johnson’s race, and in theory, championship to lose. It’s Hendrick’s.

SECOND GEAR: Second place really is the first loser.
Sunday was setting up to be a storybook afternoon for Jeff Gordon. On his 42nd birthday, he took advantage of a late debris caution to blow past Kahne on a lap 153 restart. A top-5 car all day, it seemed this race, just like the year before, would be the one where the No. 24 car put itself in strong position to make the Chase.

Instead, a late spin by Kenseth led to a final restart with two laps remaining where Gordon fell short. Out-accelerated and simply outraced by Kahne through the treacherous Tunnel Turn, he fell to second and now must wonder if that’s his last chance to get a win down the regular-season stretch.

“We had them,” Gordon said. “But, man, he got a killer run and blasted on the outside of me. Caught me by surprise.”

Based on past history, the fourth member of the HMS stable should still be just fine. Ninth in points, he’s won at every remaining track on the schedule and has three consecutive top-10 results. But the bad luck bug seems to have followed Gordon for three years. Five DNFs (four for wrecks) are what have him sitting on the postseason bubble; all it takes is one more and a winless Gordon gets punted out of the playoffs.

THIRD GEAR: Missed opportunities.
Plenty of drivers were also shaking their heads on Sunday. Brad Keselowski spent the first half of the race with a car that could compete with Johnson. But as the race went on, the No. 2 team’s pit strategy, combined with letting the track get away from them, found the defending champ in sixth. Still winless and outside the top 10 in points, Keselowski’s Chase berth is far from guaranteed.

Kurt Busch, who was a strong third, sits in the same spot after another week of close, but no cigar. The No. 78 was the strongest non-Hendrick car, in position to mix it up heading to the final pit stop. But once again, a crew that’s had their share of inconsistency cost him ground, leaving Busch too far behind to be a real factor (unless he wanted to wreck Gordon or Kahne on that final restart). That leaves him 13th in points, 11 outside the top 10 and still on the outside looking in without a victory.

“Kahne probably moved himself into a pretty good spot with two wins now,” Busch said of the evolving “wild card” race. “But there is still a lot of see-saw going on with guys. Like Biffle with one win, Stewart with a win, Truex with one win, and me and Jeff are winless — but here we are finishing second and third, so it's tight.”

For at least one of these superstars, Victory Lane will be the difference when they’re sitting at Chicagoland this September without a shot at the championship. They have to get there in the next five weeks to feel safe.

FOURTH GEAR: Danica’s rough road.  Danica Patrick
After a hot start in Daytona, the Danica Patrick story has quickly faded into the rearview mirror as the Cup season trudges on. And over the last month, it seems that the rookie is struggling more than at any other time this season. A wreck at Loudon, one she started with some ill-timed braking, was followed by an awful 30th at Indianapolis, a Cup track where she arguably has the most productive experience (albeit in open wheel). Never a factor, she was a lapped car on a day when teammate Ryan Newman won the race.

Pocono marked another low point. In a reasonable position to score a top 20, her first at an unrestricted track since Michigan in June, Patrick misjudged the triangle’s tricky Tunnel Turn. Collecting Travis Kvapil, Jeff Burton and Paul Menard, and in the process suffered her second DNF in three weeks (35th).

“I didn’t feel like I went in any more ‘hero-like’ that time,” Patrick said. “We were tight in the race and so we had freed it up a little bit and it was better. But then, when they’re outside of you, you just get loose.”

A rookie mistake, for sure. But the sport’s most scrutinized new driver in several years is sure making a lot of them.

, a track that had such a great first race after an early 2012 repave, has been running into potholes. A mysterious debris caution with 10 laps left is the only thing that kept it from a Kahne runaway; even the restarts, fantastic for two laps led to cars getting spread out quickly. Is it the car, the tires or the track? I still think the first two. … Denny Hamlin, who was dead last after wrecking on his own at Pocono now has seven straight races without a top 15. That’s the longest stretch of his career. … Johnson quietly fought back to 13th after an outside wall hit that would have left most teams in the garage. Even on their worst days, they show they’re still the car to beat come November. … With Patrick and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. wrecking Sunday, Timmy Hill was quietly the highest-finishing rookie. Driving for underfunded FAS Lane Racing, he tied a career best with 27th place.

Follow Tom Bowles on Twitter: @NASCARBowles

Reaction from Pocono Raceway, where Kasey Kahne beat Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jeff Gordon in NASCAR's 400.
Post date: Monday, August 5, 2013 - 13:52
All taxonomy terms: College Football, News
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-link-roundup-august-5

Fall camps already underway. The 2013 season is almost here.

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 Monday, August 5th

Here's the latest in the ongoing saga surrounding Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel. 

Interested in hearing more about Athlon's picks for 2013? Check out this podcast I did with Sports Week Live this weekend, as we talked about each of the BCS conferences, national championship and some Heisman implications. 

Saturday Down South takes a look at the top 25 players in the SEC for 2013.

LSU running back Jeremy Hill has avoided jail time from a recent off-the-field incident.

Ole Miss receiver Vince Sanders suffered a broken collarbone in practice.

How did South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney get his childhood nickname? It's an interesting story to say the least.

Andy Bitter takes a look at some key position battles to watch as Virginia Tech opens fall practice. And here's a look at the Hokies' updated depth chart.

A potential starter on Georgia's defense will undergo thumb surgery.

Ball State quarterback Keith Wenning will miss some practice time after having knee surgery.

Tomahawk Nation answers some key questions surrounding Florida State's fall practice.

NC State running back Shadrach Thornton is facing a court date for misdemeanor assault charge.

Adam Jude of the Seattle Times takes a look at five key questions facing Washington this fall.

Bucky's 5th Quarter takes a look at three freshmen who could play key roles for Wisconsin in 2013.

All signs point to Tom Savage winning Pittsburgh's starting quarterback job.

Will California's offensive line improve in 2013?

Here are five question marks to watch as Penn State opens fall practice.

Ohio State should have more weapons than just quarterback Braxton Miller in 2013.

College Football's Link Roundup: August 5
Post date: Monday, August 5, 2013 - 13:45
Path: /college-football/texas-tech-unveils-new-uniforms-2013

Texas Tech is making some slight tweaks to its football uniforms for 2013. The Red Raiders have added a red stripe to the helmets and made a few changes to the jerseys.

But is that all? Remember this photo circulating back in the spring, it appears the school may have a few more uniforms to unveil for this season. And according to, Texas Tech could have a gray jersey for 2013.



And here's a video of the big reveal:

Texas Tech Unveils New Uniforms for 2013
Post date: Monday, August 5, 2013 - 13:30
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy Baseball, Roto, MLB, Fantasy, News
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-baseball-bests-busts-and-waiver-wire-aug-5

August is here and that means fantasy playoffs are quickly approaching. Athlon Sports has everything you need to catch up on what took place on the fantasy diamond during the past seven days. Our fantasy junkies bring you last week's top hitters, some starting pitchers who are on a roll, and also identify the waiver wire pick ups and spot starters you need to keep an eye on.

Top 25 fantasy baseball hitters of last week (July 29-Aug 4):

1Justin UptonOFATL9390.3871.246
2Andrew McCutchenOFPIT8172.3791.027
3Freddie Freeman1BATL9280.3751.038
4Matt HollidayOFSTL9062.4060.957
5Jason HeywardOFATL12170.3460.969
6Shane VictorinoOFBOS7260.4001.141
7Cody Ross*OFARI3152.5001.227
8Brian McCannCATL3390.3001.141
9Robbie Grossman*OFHOU6131.5001.269
10Chris Johnson1B/3BATL4180.4331.085
11Kendrys Morales1BSEA3150.5771.287
12Michael Saunders*OFSEA3380.3041.153
13Mike TroutOFLAA8120.5001.552
14Kole Calhoun*OFLAA5231.333.943
15Daniel Descalso*2/3/SSSTL5241.296.943
16A.J. Pierzynski*CTEX2271.308.846
17Nelson CruzOFTEX4350.2921.037
18Mark Trumbo1/3/OFLAA6380.138.642
19David Freese3BSTL6170.3201.052
20Mike Moustakas*3BKC3360.2921.041
21Ryan Raburn*2B/OFCLE3260.4121.326
22Erick Aybar*SSLAA6023.321.724
23Jacoby EllsburyOFBOS5142.290.787
24Anthony Rizzo1BCHC4340.3101.067
25Dustin Pedroia2BBOS5280.233.791

* - less than 70% owned in Yahoo! leagues

Weekly Waiver Wire:

Mike Moustakas, 3B, KC (38% owned in Yahoo! Leagues)
Tabbed as a preseason sleeper, Moose has disappointed any and all owners who took a chance on him. He is showing signs of life, however, as he is coming off one of his best weeks (No. 20 in Y!) and has been surging post-All-Star Break. He is hitting .278/.900 since the break with four HRs and nine RBIs in 14 games. Those numbers will play at a fantasy thin position.

Cody Ross, OF, ARI (14%)
Ross is a career .264/.779 hitter in the majors and might be worth taking a risk on after a really hot week. Ross hit 22 HRs and drove in 81 last year and while he hasn't posted those type of numbers this year in the desert, it proves he is capable of it. Should he start every night the rest of the way, Ross could provide some support.

Jonathan Villar, SS, HOU (5%)
This would be simply a speed play with some help in the runs scored department as well. He was called up last week by the Astros and was given the shortstop job full-time. He won't help much in other categories but he will help with his legs. He had 31 SBs in 91 minor leagues this year, 39 swipes in 86 games a year ago and already has six steals in 13 games in the majors. He is a deep reach but could offer big help in a couple of categories.

Devin Mesoraco, C, CIN (7%)
A former big-time prospect for the Reds, Mesoraco is showing signs of life as the full-time backstop. Over the last 14 days, he has clubbed four home runs and driven in 11 while hitting .304/.913 in 46 at-bats. He has upside but hasn't proven it yet so this could be the time to jump on the youngster. 

Xander Bogaerts, SS, BOS (10%)
This isn't a new name for minor league and deep league fans as Bogaerts is one of MLB's top prospects. Why he is mentioned here, however, is that Boston is playing him at third base now on the farm instead of shortstop. This appears to be preparing him for a potential battle with Will Middlebrooks for the big league job. He has hit .282/855 with eight homers and 25 RBIs in 47 games in AAA-Pawtucket this year for Boston. Bogaerts would be my pick over Middlebrooks. Plus, in keeper leagues, he could be a gem.

Top 20 fantasy Starting Pitchers of last two weeks:

1Jose FernandezMIA23.03351.570.70
2Max ScherzerDET21.23180.830.51
3Francisco LirianoPIT21.23220.420.83
4David PriceTB25.12171.070.47
5Yu DarvishTEX19.12290.470.83
6Tyson Ross*SD20.02221.350.70
7Mike MinorATL14.02110.640.43
8Jered WeaverLAA21.02201.590.79
9Lance LynnSTL21.02241.710.95
10Julio TeheranATL18.01231.000.89
11Doug FisterDET16.0280.560.69
12Justin MastersonCLE14.12150.630.98
13Scott Kazmir*CLE19.02171.890.84
14Clayton KershawLAD16.01130.560.69
15Mark Buehrle*TOR22.02152.050.82
16Bruce Chen*KC18.01172.000.67
17A.J. BurnettPIT23.01231.171.09
18Wade Miley*ARI14.02120.641.07
19Dan Haren*WAS19.02182.840.84
20Madison BumgarnerSF15.01180.601.07

* - less than 70% owned in Yahoo! leagues

Top 5 Spot Starts for the Week (Mon. - Sun.):

1. Gerrit Cole, PIT (Thur.) vs. Miami (56% owned)
The former No. 1 overall pick has 10 career starts in the majors and has never allowed more than three earned runs in any game. He has only won one of his last six starts but should be more than capable of dominating the lowly Marlins offense.

2. Chris Archer, TB (Wed.) at Arizona (68%)
Few players have been as dominant over the last month as Archer has been for the Rays. Since the start of July, he has allowed seven earned runs in six starts (4-1). His latest start was the worst (7.0, 4 ER, 4 K) of the group, but a trip to the desert to take on the Diamondbacks should get him back on track.

3. Randall Delgado, ARI (Fri.) vs. NY Mets (8%)
Over his last three starts, Delgado is 3-0 with 12 K, four earned runs and just 12 hits allowed for the Diamondbacks. He will face the Mets without David Wright in the lineup coming up this weekend. Green light.

4. Jhoulys Chacin, COL (Thur.) vs. NY Mets (37%)
Chacin's last five starts have been extremely useful (2-2). Three times he allowed just one earned run and over his last nine outings he's yielded more than three earned runs just once. He gets the Wright-less Mets on Thursday after 11 Ks and just one walk in his last three.

5. Tony Cingrani, CIN (Sat.) vs. San Diego (56%)
Strikeouts are the name of the game for the young lefty. He has 97 punch outs in 82.2 IP this year, 35 whiffs over his last five starts (2-1) and he will get the Padres this weekend. He will walk some people (12 BB in his last four starts) but if you can survive the hit to the WHIP, he should win games and strike plenty of people out.

Closing Morsels
After more than a few trades involving closers — Jose Veras to Detroit, K-Rod to Baltimore — that means opportunity could arise from where you least expect it... The Pirates Jason Grilli is "making quality progress" and he has vowed to play again in 2013. However, he isn't throwing yet and Mark Melancon is a quality option to close (who likely isn't on your waiver wire)... Boston's Koji Uehara hasn't allowed a run since June 30 and has converted on his last five save chances. However, he has just two saves in his nine appearances... The Angels might be forced to go with a committee approach. Ernesto Frieri has sick strikeout numbers (69 in 46.2 IP) but has been downright atrocious of late. He has allowed a run in four of his last six appearances with a total of 10 ER in 4.1 IP.... Seattle took the closer's job away from Tom Wilhelmsen for the time being. However, there aren't many quality options backing him up: Charlie Furbush, Yoervis Medina, Oliver Perez or Danny Farquhar. My guess is Willy is back in the ninth inning soon enough.... Jim Henderson has been solid since reclaiming the job for the Brewers after K-Rod was traded to the Orioles. He is 5-for-5 in save chances in five appearances without a run allowed and just four base runners in that stretch.

Keep up to date all season long with Athlon Sports' Fantasy Baseball Closer Grid

Athlon Sports takes a look at what took place this past weekend on the fantasy baseball diamond
Post date: Monday, August 5, 2013 - 13:00
Path: /college-football/byu-breaks-out-royal-blue-jerseys-2013

The BYU-Utah matchup is always one of the top rivalry games in college football each year. The series will be on hiatus for 2014 and 2015, so this season’s game will have a little extra meaning.

BYU is planning a slight uniform tweak for the 2013 matchup against the Utes, as the Cougars will wear their royal blue scheme.

Here’s a look at athletic director Tom Holmoe modeling the jersey, along with a shot from Nike:



BYU Breaks Out Royal Blue Jerseys for 2013
Post date: Monday, August 5, 2013 - 11:30
All taxonomy terms: Golf, News
Path: /golf/7-amazing-stats-wgc-bridgestone

With his eighth Bridgestone win in his 14th appearance at the prestigious World Golf Championship event at storied Firestone Country Club, Tiger Woods added to what might be the greatest record by any single golfer at any single tournament. Woods has won more than half the time against stacked, world-class fields on a tough course that has hosted several major championships. Here's a look at Woods' win by the numbers:


-9 Woods stood at 9-under through 13 holes on Friday, putting him within striking distance of a 59 (or better). Five straight closing pars left him to settle for a 61, which tied a career low score for Woods. For reference, co-runner-ups Keegan Bradley and Henrik Stenson finished 8-under — for the tournament. 


79 The win was Woods' 79th of his incredible career, placing him three shy of Sam Snead's all-time PGA Tour record.


8 Woods tied a record he already shared with Sam Snead, winning the same tournament for the eighth time. Woods has also won the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill eight times, and Snead won the Greater Greensboro Open eight times.


19 Woods has now won his last start prior to a major championship an astounding 19 times. Of those, he went on to win the major in question "only" four times. In his career, he's won the Bridgestone and the PGA Championship in the same year three times (2000, 2006, 2007).


1.7 During a 10-tournament span at the Bridgestone from 1999 to 2009 (he didn't play in 2008), Woods' average finish was 1.7. He won seven times, and the years he didn't win, he finished 4th, T4 and T2. In those 10 tournaments, he won more than $9 million.'


10 Woods has now won five or more tournaments in a single season 10 times, adding to his personal record. Sam Snead is second with eight seasons of five or more wins. Ben Hogan and Jack Nicklaus had seven such seasons.


.428 Woods' winning percentage in World Golf Championship events is .428 — he's won 18 times in only 42 starts. Remember that theoretically, these wins have come against the best fields that golf has to offer.

With his eighth Bridgestone win in his 14th appearance at the prestigious World Golf Championship event at storied Firestone Country Club, Tiger Woods added to what might be the greatest record by any single golfer at any single tournament.
Post date: Monday, August 5, 2013 - 11:18