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Path: /college-football/college-fantasy-football-2012-team-defense-rankings
Body:

Fall college fantasy football drafts are right around the corner and Athlon is here to help win your league in 2012. Rankings will be updated right up until kickoff and expect plenty of tweaks to over the next couple of months.

Scoring system rankings based upon -

1 passing touchdown = 4 points
Rushing/receiving = 6 points
25 passing yards = 1 point
10 rushing/receiving yards = 1 point
1 reception = 0.5 points
1 fumble = -1 point
1 interception = - 1 point
Field goals 39 yards and under = 3 points
Field goals 40-49 yards = 4 points
Field goals 50+ yards = 5 points

Defense scoring -

0 points allowed = 15 points
2-6 points allowed = 10 points
7-13 points allowed = 7 points
14-20 points allowed = 4 points
21-27 points allowed = 2 points
28-34 points allowed = 0 points
35+ points allowed = -2 points
Safeties = 2 points
Fumbles/Interceptions recovered = 3 points
Sacks = 1 point
Defensive/Special Teams touchdowns = 6 points

Updated: August 12

Related College Fantasy Football Content

College Fantasy Football: 2012 Top 200
College Fantasy Football: 2012 Quarterback Rankings
College Fantasy Football: 2012 Running Back Rankings

College Fantasy Football: 2012 Wide Receiver Rankings
College Fantasy Football: 2012 Tight End Rankings
College Fantasy Football: 2012 Kicker Rankings
College Fantasy Football: 2012 Team Defense Rankings

Rankings Team
1 LSU
2 Alabama
3 Florida State
4 Virginia Tech
5 Georgia
6 South Carolina
7 Ohio State
8 Texas
9 Oregon
10 Florida
11 Michigan State
12 Boise State
13 Oklahoma
14 South Florida
15 USC
16 Rutgers
17 Michigan
18 Nebraska
19 Wisconsin
20 Oklahoma State
21 Utah
22 BYU
23 NC State
24 Stanford
25 Vanderbilt
26 FIU
27 Penn State
28 Notre Dame
29 Miami
30 TCU

Teaser:
<p> College Fantasy Football: Team Defense Rankings</p>
Post date: Thursday, June 14, 2012 - 02:14
Path: /nascar/nascar-twitter-omg-and-jerry-springer-coming-cup
Body:

Jerry Springer and NASCAR? A special Twitter page for NASCAR and a unique race at a unique race track. Backseat Drivers Fan Council members had much to debate this week and they didn’t always agree. Here’s what they had to say about this week’s issues:


“THE JERRY SPRINGER SHOW” SPONSORING A TEAM?
FoxSports.com reported that Phoenix Racing has had talks with officials from “The Jerry Springer Show” about the program possibly sponsoring the team. Fan Council members were asked what they thought about this possible union:

39.2 percent said it was horrible and would only reinforce stereotypes of the sport and should be nixed.
35.5 percent said it was great to see a potential new sponsor possibly help a team that needs it.
25.3 percent didn’t care about the issue.

What Fan Council members said: 
• Jerry Springer's show represents the very worst of American culture. We don't need that in NASCAR. Our fans represent the best in our culture — love of family, love of God, love of our country and military. Those two don't mix, and we don't need new fans that bad.

• Bringing a new sponsor into NASCAR is always a good thing. If the sponsorship goes well, it could open the door to other sponsors coming into NASCAR. And thinking that "The Jerry Springer Show" will only reinforce stereotypes is already stereotyping “The Jerry Springer Show." Seems like a double standard.

• It is a tacky idea — tackier than the Ricky Bobby car. NASCAR wants to be seen as a world-class sport enjoyed by smart, sophisticated viewers. Consorting with “The Jerry Springer Show" does not sound like a world-class move. 

• Not so much reinforce stereotypes, but just give it a trashy image, after all that's what that show is, trashy. I don't think it's a good idea for the sport.

• Sponsors are REALLY hard to come by right now. I don't think the sport can afford to turn money away. As far as reinforcing a stereotype, let's face it, there is SOME commonality between NASCAR and Jerry Springer. Do you want to alienate ANY fans right now because you think they are "redneck?"

• If “The Jerry Springer Show” can air on regular television, it can certainly sponsor a team in NASCAR.

• I know sponsorship is hard to come by but PLEASE!!!!! This will only serve to reinforce the bad behavior already set forth by Kurt Busch!

• As a sport that is characterized as being only for rednecks and white trash, we should look beyond the money. I'm often told at work that perception is reality. I can hear the pundits laughing at us NASCAR fans already. The stick-and-ball reporters would jump at the chance to ridicule racing rather than learn about it.

• Really I have mixed feelings. On one hand it's a sponsor that I'm sure Phoenix Racing could bring on and it would help their team. On the other hand, I'm certain people will look at the deal and Jerry Springer on the car and the WWE references will start. Probably Kurt Busch can create enough controversy without Jerry Springer's help.

• Any sponsor is a good sponsor! Not really, there is a line, but each car owner should draw their own line. Who am I to tell a car owner whose money he should and should not accept? I get to pass my judgement by choosing which drivers I support.

• Stupid idea. NASCAR already has the reputation of being nothing but rednecks. Add to that Kurt Busch's comments about how NASCAR needs to be more like WWE. Credible sports don't need that.

• Money is money.


TWITTER MADNESS
NASCAR debuted the #NASCAR landing page on Twitter that provided a place for fans to check out various tweets with #NASCAR in it. Fan Council members were asked what they thought of the site.

57.7 percent didn’t look at it.
23.5 percent said it was OK.
11.1 percent were disappointed in it.
7.7 percent really liked it.

What Fan Council members said:
• OMG it was gr8t. ROTFL at some tweets. 

• I already follow who I want on Twitter, so I probably will not use it all that much, but I still think it is a neat idea.

• So sick of hearing about Twitter all the time. I just want to see the race, I REALLY don’t want to see what Timmy in Texas thinks of Jeff Gordon's bad luck on my screen. Way too much Twitter involvement. Please make it go away. #goaway

• They didn't keep up with all the tweets like I had hoped. But still pretty neat.

• It would probably be better for someone who isn't already on Twitter, who wants to get a sampling of the types of things they might see there. Although the sheer volume of tweets was a bit overwhelming. I already follow a variety of media people, drivers and their wives, and team PR people, all told less than 30 people, and the number of tweets during a race in my own timeline can get hard to keep up with.

• It really just looked like my NASCAR list. I thought it was to help fans interact with others, but I didn't see that. It’s a cool concept, but I'm sure it will get better as the weeks go on. Totally not what I thought it would be I guess.

• It was great. Great way to see what was happening all over twitter and not just who I follow. The interaction was great. I am really excited to see where this can go.

• Had more important things to do. Like watch the race.

• The best part of the page is the picture stream. The tweets follow too many teams I'm not interested in, so I'll continue to stick to my personal timeline & lists, and I look at the raw #NASCAR stream if I'm looking for particular reaction to an event or news.

• The first round was a complete failure. There were tweets at the bottom of the page that went back to June 2nd. Meanwhile, in the unfiltered #NASCAR stream, tweets were as hot and heavy as ever. Updates were scarce on the official page and seemed to almost come to a complete stop sometime after halfway. I really wish this would succeed but it needs a heck of a lot more work.


GRADING SUNDAY’S CUP RACE AT POCONO

58.8 percent called it Good
28.9 percent called it Great
8.2 percent called it Fair
4.1 percent called it Poor

What Fan Council members said:
• Best Pocono race I have seen in many years!

• Take away the pass by Logano to take the lead it was a poor race, plain and simple.

• I was dreading this race as I normally do in the summer schedule. However, it was good. The repave, speeding penalties and cautions made this usually boring race watchable. 

• Hubby's first race, and we stood for about 75 percent of the laps! Great competition, great resurfacing job, great turnout!

• Best Pocono race I have ever seen.

• Once we got the speeding penalties out of the way, I loved the race. When the race was over, I was ready for more laps!!

• Yes, this was an odd race. However, the whole speeding penalty thing really showed who was paying attention and it made it very interesting. The race was a good length and there were multiple cautions to help mix things up. Also nice seeing a driver who really needed a win actually get one this season.

• Who knew that Pocono could be that great. Usually even I am fighting the urge to nap during the middle of the race. It was the perfect length and the action was great.

• I rated it "Good." It was actually pretty "Great." I'm just sour that the 88 (car) didn't get it done.

• This was the first time ever I have gave a race a "GREAT" checkmark. It was one of the best Pocono races I’ve ever seen. I had friends that were there and they said it was just as awesome in person. Gotta give props to NASCAR & the track owners for making the race great.


A SECOND CHANCE FOR POCONO?
Last week Fan Council members were asked if they cut four races from the current Cup schedule what four races those would be. Both Pocono races ranked among the ones fans would cut with the Pocono August race rated as the No. 1 race to cut. Yet, last weekend’s Pocono race earned praise from Fan Council members with 87.7 percent of the votes listing the race as either Great or Good — only the Martinsville race this season has received a higher combined percentage (89.9).  Fan Council members were asked if they would reconsider how many races Pocono deserved in a season:

56.1 percent said one race only
39.5 percent said two races 
4.4 percent said zero races

What Fan Council members said:
• I live 25 miles from Pocono and get sick of hearing everybody bitch about it. They deserve two races. They always have better than average attendance and the speedway has gone out of their way to jump through all the hoops NASCAR has asked them to. New paving, pit road, inner wall, fencing, better seats, parking and traffic control. A shorter race made it more competitive. That facility is now right there quality-wise with Charlotte, Richmond or anywhere else. God bless Doc Mattioli, but since his grandson Brandon took over, Pocono is light years ahead of where it was. That is an A-plus facility — I don't care how pissed Dale Jr was about having to be there for five days!

• Pocono is still on the bottom half of my list of favorite tracks.

• I have been to many Pocono races over the years. They were always too long and quite frankly the last three or four were boring. We stopped going two years ago. I picked Pocono as a race to be dropped. After (Sunday’s) race, I have changed my mind. If they can consistently put out a race like (Sunday’s), they deserve to have two.

• It had more action than Bristol, but I still think it deserves one race only.

• I'm still saying only one race. Yes, I enjoyed the race despite certain things, but I think only once a year is fine. Sometimes a race that has two races doesn't always deliver in the second race. Only a few tracks can do that. Talk to me after August.

• I was wrong last week. The new track and shorter miles have made this a much better race.

• No way this track deserves two dates, but I can deal with 1 date because it is a unique track on the schedule.


The Backseat Drivers Fan Council was founded and is administered by Dustin Long. Fans can join by sending Dustin an email at dustinlong002@gmail.com.

Please include the following information:
Name, city, state, Twitter name, e-mail address and favorite driver.
 

Teaser:
<p> The Backseat Drivers Fan Council talks the NAScAR and Twitter partnership, a potential "Jerry Springer Show" sponsorship and the race at Pocono.</p>
Post date: Wednesday, June 13, 2012 - 18:11
All taxonomy terms: Eric Kelly, Overtime
Path: /overtime/bestworst-boxing-trainer-ever-eric-kelly
Body:

WARNING: Explicit Language In Video

Meet the Don Rickles of the boxing trainers, 2000 Olympic alternate Eric Kelly. He is Wall Strreet’s newest social commentator, who may be the best (funny, honest) or worst (angry guy who offends most of the population while barely helping you) trainer in New York. After a “street altercation” ended his boxing career, Kelly just seems so pissed that he has to work with Wall Street types.

The language is very salty, so this definitely in the NSFW category. A couple of his verbal gems include, “I can’t believe you’re still on this side of the dirt” and “You look like all the nerds just had a convention on your body.”

Enjoy.
 

Teaser:
<p> Eric Kelly: Worst Boxing Trainer Ever</p>
Post date: Wednesday, June 13, 2012 - 17:50
All taxonomy terms: crossword, Monthly
Path: /monthly/june-2012-crossword-solution
Body:

Teaser:
Post date: Wednesday, June 13, 2012 - 16:57
Path: /college-football/sec-football-2012-predictions
Body:

The SEC is bigger than ever, with the addition of Texas A&M and Missouri, but one thing hasn’t changed: The balance of power is still in the West. LSU still has the Honey Badger and a strong defense — and now it may have the quarterback who can take the offense to another level in Zach Mettenberger. Perhaps most important: LSU gets Alabama at home.

Alabama, which is recruiting at a different level each year, is also reloading on defense. The Crimson Tide may return only four starters on defense, but last year’s backups could have started for most SEC teams. And quarterback AJ McCarron showed in the BCS Championship Game that he is more than a game manager.

Arkansas took a big step last year by having a serviceable defense, and if it can stay that way the Razorbacks have a chance to break through this year. Tyler Wilson has a year under his belt, and the offense should be bolstered by the return of tailback Knile Davis. LSU and Alabama also both have to travel to Fayetteville.

The drop-off between the division’s top three and the rest of the group is considerable. Auburn, with two new coordinators, should improve on last season, and Texas A&M has some talent. But if the top three aren’t LSU, Alabama and Arkansas in some order, it will be a surprise. 

Georgia looks like the team to beat in the East, but the Bulldogs do have some issues — a retooled offensive line, two new specialists, suspensions on defense, and the health and behavior of the tailbacks. But Mark Richt’s club still has a schedule gift-wrapped for a second straight division title. The toughest matchups will be at Missouri and at South Carolina, but for a second straight year they don’t have to play Alabama, Arkansas or LSU. And with quarterback Aaron Murray, ample talent at receiver, and a defense returning nine starters, that should be enough to carry the Bulldogs.

South Carolina, meanwhile, has to deal with the loss of several key defensive starters, receiver Alshon Jeffery and defensive boss Ellis Johnson. But the Gamecocks still have Marcus Lattimore (presumably healthy), Jadeveon Clowney and Steve Spurrier. Florida and Missouri are dark horse candidates to win the division. The Gators would need to make a big improvement in Will Muschamp’s second year, and the key to that will be production at quarterback. Missouri’s hopes may depend on the health of quarterback James Franklin.

Athlon's 2012 SEC Previews

East West
Florida Alabama
Georgia Arkansas
Kentucky Auburn
Missouri LSU
South Carolina Mississippi State
Tennessee Ole Miss
Vanderbilt Texas A&M

Expansion talk

The addition of Texas A&M and Missouri was greeted with much pageantry by the SEC. There were big welcome ceremonies, with excited talk about what each school brings to the conference, and how great this was for the SEC.

And then came the details.  The move to 14 teams proved to be a headache for those charged with coming up with a new scheduling philosophy. The conference athletics directors logged plenty of miles flying to meetings, trying first to agree on an overall philosophy and then to hammer out logistics. About the only thing that they ended up agreeing on was to keep the traditional, cross-division rivalries. After some brief worries, Georgia-Auburn and Tennessee-Alabama were saved.

“I’ve been in this league a long time,” says Larry Templeton, the former Mississippi State athletics director who was the SEC’s point man on scheduling. “I think this league has a tendency to do what’s best for the league over the long haul. I think there’s a strong feeling among the league to keep that (Georgia-Auburn) game, as well as a couple other cross-division rivalries.”

The league is also clinging to an eight-game schedule, even as other conferences moved towards nine games. Why so stubborn? Because the SEC sees itself as having some unique factors. The biggest one, as usual, was money: Nearly every SEC school, save Vanderbilt and perhaps Kentucky, can sell out any home game. So why go to nine SEC games, leaving only three non-conference games, and less of a chance to schedule a Sun Belt team for a sure sellout?

Detractors claim it’s more about the SEC not wanting to have more difficult schedules. But Templeton says that if the conference went to nine games, the non-conference game most likely to be jettisoned wouldn’t be that Sun Belt matchup, but one against another BCS conference school.

“I’m an eight-game guy,” Templeton says. “In this league, the game that’s gonna get given up are the big games that we put together, intersectional across the country. Mississippi State’s not gonna play a BYU or Oregon or teams that you’ve played in the past.”

The year of the quarterback

There was a considerable lack of star power at the game’s most visible position in 2011. The conference lost Cam Newton, Ryan Mallett, Greg McElroy and Jevan Snead to graduation or the NFL, and South Carolina’s Stephen Garcia was booted during the season.

But the star power should be back in 2012. Both the first-team All-SEC quarterback (Arkansas’ Tyler Wilson) and second-teamer (Georgia’s Aaron Murray) are back. The addition of Missouri brings in James Franklin, who excelled in the spread last year. Tennessee hopes to get a full season out of Tyler Bray, who was an All-SEC candidate before being hurt.

Alabama’s AJ McCarron has a chance to capitalize on his strong finish to last year, including his coming-out party in the BCS championship. LSU is hoping for a strong season from Zach Mettenberger — who might be starting over Murray if he hadn’t been dismissed from the team at Georgia. South Carolina has high hopes for Connor Shaw, who was solid in relief of Garcia last year. And at Vanderbilt, Jordan Rodgers ignited the Commodores’ offense with his ability to run and pass when he took over the starting role in October.

Wilson was an underwhelming choice as the SEC’s top quarterback last season. If he repeats this year, it won’t be because of a lack of good competition.

Progress on another front

Here’s one little-noticed fact about Texas A&M joining the SEC: The conference now has three black head football coaches, the most it has ever had in the sport, and tied for the most of any FBS conference.

Texas A&M hired Kevin Sumlin, formerly of Houston, in December, after firing Mike Sherman. Kentucky’s Joker Phillips is entering his third season, and Vanderbilt’s James Franklin is entering his second. Phillips and Franklin downplayed last year’s game, which was the first in SEC history between two black head football coaches. Their meeting this year, on Nov. 3, will be the only one this year, because neither is scheduled to play Texas A&M.

Conference USA and the Mid-American Conference have three black head coaches. The Pac-12 is the only other BCS league that has as many as two.

Related SEC Content

SEC Commissioner Mike Slive Talks Realignment and Playoffs
Athlon's Top 25 for 2012: No. 2 LSU

Athlon's Top 25 for 2012: No. 3 Alabama

Athlon's Top 25 for 2012: No. 8 Georgia

Athlon's Top 25 for 2012: No. 10 South Carolina

Athlon's Top 25 for 2012: No. 13 Arkansas

Teaser:
<p> SEC Football 2012 predictions.</p>
Post date: Wednesday, June 13, 2012 - 06:20
All taxonomy terms: AFC, AFC West, Denver Broncos, NFL
Path: /nfl/denver-broncos-2012-schedule-analysis
Body:

Scheduling plays a huge role in the outcome of every NFL season. So the Athlon NFL editors will spend the next month dissecting each and every week of the 2012 slate for all 32 teams in the league.

Denver Broncos 2012 Schedule:

Week 1: Pittsburgh
Week 2: at Atlanta (Mon.)
Week 3: Houston
Week 4: Oakland
Week 5: at New England
Week 6: at San Diego (Mon.)
Week 7: BYE
Week 8: New Orleans
Week 9: at Cincinnati
Week 10: at Carolina
Week 11: San Diego
Week 12: at Kansas City
Week 13: Tampa Bay
Week 14: at Oakland (Thur.)
Week 15: at Baltimore
Week 16: Cleveland
Week 17: Kansas City

Order your 2012 Denver Broncos Athlon Sports NFL Preview magazine

- Peyton Manning likely analyzed offensive lines, receiving corps, home field advantages, coaching staffs and front offices when making his decision on where to play football in 2012. But the schedule could not possibly have been one of the facets to his choice of the Broncos. There might not be a tougher start to the season than what Denver will deal with this fall. The first five weeks feature four playoff teams, including what could be the top three teams in the AFC (PIT, HOU, NE). In fact, of the first eight games, six will come against playoff teams from a year ago — and that doesn’t include San Diego. The only comfort is that Manning will get three of his first four games at home in Mile High.

- And in case any football fan out there forgot, on Opening Weekend the Steelers will be returning to the scene of the crime last year when Tim Tebow miraculously upset the Steel Curtain on Wild card Weekend.

- Manning and the Orange Crush will be featured prominently, rightly so, on national TV plenty in 2012. However, all three non-Sunday games will take place on the road. A week 2 trip to Atlanta and Week 6 visit to San Diego will be Monday Night showcases while the late-season division road trip to Oakland takes place on a Thursday night.

- The NFC West would not only be easier on the win-loss column but as well as the travel schedule, but playing the NFC South isn’t all that daunting. A road trip to Atlanta in Week 2 will be brutal but hosting New Orleans and Tampa Bay isn’t all that scary. It will be the first time Manning has faced the Saints since his Super Bowl loss. And the storylines for the Broncos-Panthers 1:00 PM ET kickoff in Carolina are too juicy not to appreciate. Manning vs. Cam? John Fox returns to BOA Stadium? What’s not to like?

- Along with an first weekend bout with Pittsburgh, the Orange Stallions will have to face the rest of the AFC North – also known as the best division in the AFC. Road trips to Cincinnati (Week 9) and particularly Baltimore (Week 15) will carry heavy AFC playoff implications.

- The division schedule is evenly spaced out over the course of the year. With the exception of three AFC West tests in four weeks from Week 11 to Week 14 (which will be a key playoff stretch for all teams involved), there are divisional games in each quarter of the season for Denver this year.

- The great news for Fox and Manning is the overall finish to the season. If the first two months will be filled with potential playoff match-ups, the final six games could give the division crown to the Broncos. Other than a road trip to Baltimore, Denver will play five non-playoff teams that could easily all be wins. Kansas City (twice), Tampa Bay, Oakland and Cleveland gives Denver a great shot at locking down the West for the second straight year. Especially, considering the final two games of the year are against the Browns and Chiefs — both at home.

- Notably absent from the schedule is the one game every fan in every city would like to see obviously: Denver and Indianapolis. Not to worry, the AFC West will face the AFC South next year.

Fantasy Focus: With an offense trying to get acclimated to a new quarterback, the start to the 2012 season could be very bumpy for the Broncos. Look for this offense to explode following the bye week (Week 7) and provide huge second-half numbers. Don't reach on Broncos early in the draft, but target them as the first two months play out.

- by Braden Gall

@bradengall

2012 Athlon Sports NFL team-by-team schedule analysis:

AFC East
Buffalo Bills
Miami Dolphins
New England Patriots
New York Jets

AFC North
Baltimore Ravens
Cincinnati Bengals
Cleveland Browns
Pittsburgh Steelers

AFC South
Houston Texans
Indianapolis Colts
Jacksonville Jaguars
Tennessee Titans

AFC West
Denver Broncos
Kansas City Chiefs
Oakland Raiders
San Diego Chargers

NFC East
Dallas Cowboys
New York Giants
Philadelphia Eagles
Washington Redskins

NFC North
Chicago Bears
Detroit Lions
Green Bay Packers
Minnesota Vikings

NFC South
Atlanta Falcons
Carolina Panthers
New Orleans Saints
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

NFC West
Arizona Cardinals
San Francisco 49ers
Seattle Seahawks
St. Louis Rams

Teaser:
<p> Denver Broncos 2012 Schedule Analysis</p>
Post date: Wednesday, June 13, 2012 - 06:05
All taxonomy terms: Atlanta Falcons, NFC, NFC South, NFL
Path: /nfl/atlanta-falcons-2012-schedule-analysis
Body:

Scheduling plays a huge role in the outcome of every NFL season. So the Athlon NFL editors will spend the next month dissecting each and every week of the 2012 slate for all 32 teams in the league.

Atlanta Falcons 2012 Schedule:

Week 1: at Kansas City
Week 2: Denver (Mon.)
Week 3: at San Diego
Week 4: Carolina
Week 5: at Washington
Week 6: Oakland
Week 7: BYE
Week 8: at Philadelphia
Week 9: Dallas
Week 10: at New Orleans
Week 11: Arizona
Week 12: at Tampa Bay
Week 13: New Orleans (Thurs.)
Week 14: at Carolina
Week 15: New York Giants
Week 16: at Detroit (Sat.)
Week 17: Tampa Bay

Order your 2012 Atlanta Falcons Athlon Sports NFL Preview magazine

- Atlanta will play both the AFC West and the NFC East as its cross-divisional opponents in 2012. The Falcons get a heavy dose of the AFC to start their season, opening up with three straight against the West. The Falcons open in Kansas City before hosting Denver in their home opener on Monday night of Week 2. After that it's a cross-country trip to take on the Chargers in San Diego. The home game against Oakland in Week 6 will conclude the AFC part of the Falcons' '12 schedule.

- For their head-to-head dates with the NFC East, the Falcons get both the defending Super Bowl champion Giants and Cowboys on their home turf and will pay a visit to both Washington and Philadelphia. The Redskins are first up in Week 5, followed by the Cowboys and Eagles back-to-back in Weeks 8 and 9. The Giants come calling in Week 15 and this will be the first time the teams have met since the G-Men's 24-2 dismantling of the Falcons in last season's wild card playoff game in New York.

- Atlanta opens divisional play against Carolina in Week 4, but doesn't play another NFC South opponent until it goes to New Orleans in Week 10. The Falcons play five divisional contests in their last eight games. Three of these games are in a row, Weeks 12-14, as a Thursday night home date with the Saints is sandwiched around road games at Tampa Bay and Carolina.

- The Falcons' bye week comes in Week 7, which means they will play 10 straight games following their off week. The bye is preceded by their final game against the AFC West and then Atlanta returns to action with two straight against the NFC East — at Philadelphia and versus Dallas — before returning to divisional play on the road against New Orleans.

- Atlanta's two floating games this season are home against Arizona and on the road in Detroit. Both games are among the Falcons' final seven on their schedule. The Week 11 date with the Cardinals falls between two divisional games, while the game in Detroit is on a Saturday night and follows the Falcons' Week 15 meeting with the Giants. The match ups with the Giants and Lions could both have playoff implications tied to them as all three teams are expected to be in contention for a postseason berth in 2012.

Fantasy Focus: Quarterback Matt Ryan's passing yards and touchdowns have both gone up in each of the past three seasons. Although Ryan is not considered an elite fantasy quarterback, it's possible he could finish the season in the top 10 at his position given he has two legitimate targets in wide receivers Roddy White and Julio Jones, and chances are the Falcons will probably try to reduce running back Michael Turner's workload in 2012. There's also Atlanta's schedule. Of the Falcons' 13 opponents this season, nine of them ranked among the top 16 in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks in 2011. All three of Atlanta's NFC South foes — Tampa Bay (3rd-most), Carolina (7th) and New Orleans (9th) — were in the top 10 in this category, and remember the Falcons play each of these teams twice. Oakland (2nd), the Giants (5th), San Diego (8th), Denver (11th), Detroit (12th) and Dallas (16th) also finished in the top half in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks last season.

— by Mark Ross, published on June 13, 2012

2012 Athlon Sports NFL team-by-team schedule analysis:

AFC East
Buffalo Bills
Miami Dolphins
New England Patriots
New York Jets

AFC North
Baltimore Ravens
Cincinnati Bengals
Cleveland Browns
Pittsburgh Steelers

AFC South
Houston Texans
Indianapolis Colts
Jacksonville Jaguars
Tennessee Titans

AFC West
Denver Broncos
Kansas City Chiefs
Oakland Raiders
San Diego Chargers

NFC East
Dallas Cowboys
New York Giants
Philadelphia Eagles
Washington Redskins

NFC North
Chicago Bears
Detroit Lions
Green Bay Packers
Minnesota Vikings

NFC South
Atlanta Falcons
Carolina Panthers
New Orleans Saints
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

NFC West
Arizona Cardinals
San Francisco 49ers
Seattle Seahawks
St. Louis Rams

Teaser:
<p> Atlanta Falcons 2012 Schedule Analysis</p>
Post date: Wednesday, June 13, 2012 - 06:00
Path: /college-football/college-football-preseason-2012-rankings-no-101-124
Body:

With the completion of Athlon's college football Top 25 for 2012, it's time conclude the rankings, continuing with No. 101-124. 

Note: Ranking is where team is projected to finish at the end of the 2012 season.

101. Western Kentucky
Third-year coach Willie Taggart received a four-year contract extension after guiding WKU to the best turnaround in Sun Belt history. Yet, the sting remains of being snubbed for a bowl invitation despite posting a 7–5 record that included a 7–1 mark in the Sun Belt. Taggart has used that snub to motivate his team in the offseason. The Hilltoppers can no longer sneak up on the rest of the league. Last season proved that WKU is now a program that can compete in the improving Sun Belt. Contending with Bobby Rainey no longer around will be tough, but the Hilltoppers should still be one of the better teams in the league.    

Read the full 2012 Western Kentucky Hilltoppers Team Preview

102. Ball State
Pete Lembo admits that his team might have overachieved last year, but he thinks they deserved it after buying in so readily to their new coaches. With virtually the same coaching staff in place for the second year in a row — a first for Ball State’s veterans — the arrow should keep pointing upward as long as the intangibles remain in place. “We won five close games,” Lembo says. “We scored on seven or eight two-minute drives. We were the least-penalized team in the conference. There were a lot of good signs, but we know we’re not out of the woods yet.”

Read the full 2012 Ball State Cardinals Team Preview

103. Eastern Michigan
Last year’s six wins represented the most the program has posted in a single season since 1995. Ron English has seemingly moved past many of the distractions that hindered his team early in his tenure, making it possible for him to focus solely on on-the-field matters. Despite the relative success last year, EMU struggled down the stretch, losing three of its four games in November. All three losses were by six points or less, and all were defined by the missed opportunities that come with the kind of inconsistency English harps on. “As a team right now, we do not consistently do what we’re coached to do,” says English, the MAC’s reigning Coach of the Year. “So that’s going to be the biggest emphasis.” The schedule won’t be as friendly in 2012. There are two road games against Big Ten foes (Purdue, Michigan State) in September, and the Eagles have to play both Toledo and Western Michigan, two of the top teams in the MAC’s West Division. Eastern Michigan might be a better team in 2012 but not win as many games. 

Read the full 2012 Eastern Michigan Eagles Team Preview

104. North Texas
Dan McCarney has plenty of believers, and for good reason. A 5–7 record in a new stadium last season brought optimism. But now the Mean Green must try to be a dominant running team without a proven running back, and they must slow down opposing passing attacks without their best pass-rusher and all four starters in the secondary. Road games at LSU, Kansas State and Houston offer little breathing room. McCarney’s plan appears to be on track, but it will take baby steps, and he knows it. “Thirty scholarship players were out the door last year, so we have depth issues, and we’re still 11 under the 85 scholarship limit,” McCarney says. “But that’s why I’m here, to fix a lot of the problems at North Texas. But we believe in our plan.”

Read the full 2012 North Texas Mean Green Team Preview

105. UTEP
UTEP’s unspoken formula — to win three nonconference games and cobble together three more victories to get to bowl eligibility — is rendered just about impossible by a slate that includes Oklahoma, Wisconsin and Ole Miss. On the bright side, the five wins a year ago were more than many predicted in a complete rebuilding season, and 2012 could see the fruits of that in the final year of the 66-year-old Mike Price’s contract. The offense returns most of the key pieces, and the defense seems poised to make another incremental improvement, but the Miners will have to overachieve to put themselves in position to become bowl-eligible.

Read the full 2012 UTEP Miners Team Preview

106. UAB
UAB received a scare in the spring when Garrick McGee was rumored to be returning to Arkansas to replace his mentor Bobby Petrino. That didn’t happen, and the Blazers surge forward with an excitement level from the fan base that hasn’t been seen in Birmingham since the year after UAB played in the 2004 Hawaii Bowl. Playing with a quick tempo will be an emphasis for the Blazers. McGee and offensive coordinator Jeff Brohm have installed an offensive system that should produce a lot of points. But will UAB be able to stop anybody? The Blazers seem to have taken a step forward on the defensive side, but it will be hard for defensive coordinator Reggie Johnson to completely turn things around in one year.

Read the full 2012 UAB Blazers Team Preview

107. Rice
If you believe David Bailiff, the Owls are coming on. Well, they had better be improving, because following up 2008’s 10-win season and Texas Bowl triumph with a 10–26 record over the next three campaigns has made even the most patient Rice fans a little antsy. The offense must become more proficient, especially through the air. Taylor McHargue will benefit from last year’s experience, but if the line doesn’t perform, he could be a target. The defense must get tougher up front, or teams will again gash Rice on the ground and have plenty of time to attack through the air.

Read the full 2012 Rice Owls Team Preview

108. Hawaii
At his introductory press conference, broadcast live statewide, Norm Chow declared he had come home to “chase championships.” But given the difficulty of the move up to the Mountain West, a nonconference schedule that sends Hawaii on the road to USC and BYU in the first month and the amount of retooling necessary to install a new offense, Chow has his work cut out for him. Just getting to a break-even mark on its 12-game schedule, which would assure an invitation to the Hawaii Bowl, would be quite an accomplishment in Chow’s inaugural season. 

Read the full 2012 Hawaii Warriors Team Preview

109. Troy
A lot of Trojan faithful want to either forget 2011 or cast it aside as an anomaly. Troy won at least eight games in the five seasons before last year’s collapse, and with a skilled offense and an influx of new talent on defense, there’s little doubt the Trojans should be improved in 2012. Improvement, however, might not be enough to make a big jump in the Sun Belt standings. The league is better than ever, with Arkansas State, FIU and UL Lafayette expected to contend for the conference title. A realistic goal for Troy, in the short term, should be to beat out the likes of UL Monroe, Western Kentucky and North Texas for fourth place.

Read the full 2012 Troy Trojans Team Preview

110. Central Michigan
CMU has put together one of the better home schedules in MAC history for the 2012 season, with seven home games — a rarity in the mid-major world. It features Navy, rival Western Michigan and, most notably, Michigan State. “Just because you’re playing them at home, you’re still playing them,” Dan Enos says, laughing, at the prospect of facing the Spartans. It’s the sort of home slate that’ll put butts in seats and put eyes on Enos’ program, which probably needs a .500 season to take the heat off of the third-year coach. That, however, isn’t likely to happen. The MAC West is loaded, with Western Michigan, Toledo and Northern Illinois at the top and improving Ball State and Eastern Michigan not far behind. It will be a struggle for the Chips to escape the cellar.  

Read the full 2012 Central Michigan Chippewas Team Preview

111. Buffalo
A 5–19 record over the last two years is not what the Buffalo faithful expected after hiring Jeff Quinn away from Cincinnati three years ago. The program’s biggest adjustment has been on offense, where players haven’t fully taken to Quinn’s pass-heavy spread. While Branden Oliver is one of the MAC’s premier tailbacks, Quinn is breaking in another quarterback, a position where results so far have been a mixture of wild inconsistency and occasional doses of promise. Defensively, Khalil Mack could emerge as the conference’s best player, and there’s enough talent to keep Buffalo competitive until the offense grows. Nevertheless, this is a critical year for Quinn. Warde Manuel, the man who hired Quinn, is now the athletic director at Connecticut, and new AD (Danny White) probably won’t be enamored with five wins over two seasons. It doesn’t help that the schedule is more challenging than it was last season.

Read the full 2012 Buffalo Bulls Team Preview

112. UNLV
Bobby Hauck hasn’t taken any shortcuts in trying to build UNLV’s football program, sticking almost exclusively to high school recruiting. That has meant taking a lot of lumps with a young squad in back-to-back two-win seasons. Expectations around Glitter Gulch are for a run at bowl eligibility in Year 3. That, however, could be asking for too much too soon. The Rebels will be better, but they could be another year away from returning to the postseason. 

Read the full 2012 UNLV Rebels Team Preview

113. Tulane
What would be a successful season for a Tulane program stuck in neutral since playing in the 2002 Hawaii Bowl? The honest answer would be a one- or two-game improvement over 2011, when the Green Wave went 2–11 and lost their final 10 games. New coach Curtis Johnson has some experienced players in key areas, and the change at the top has created some excitement on the Tulane campus, something that’s been missing for a while. But he’s also a first-year head coach, and anything more than a small step forward would be a pleasant surprise.

Read the full 2012 Tulane Green Wave Team Preview

114. MTSU
Middle Tennessee played in three bowl games in five years under Rick Stockstill before plummeting to last season’s 2–10 record, the program’s worst mark in more than 30 years. The extent of the letdown suggested that there were more issues with chemistry and character than talent. To turn the tide, Stockstill made some staff changes, implemented a new offseason weight program and put positions up for grabs more than in previous seasons. Stockstill hopes lessons of last season have been learned. “We had a sense of entitlement, and that can never happen again,” Stockstill says. “We flushed away 2011, but we can never ever forget it. That was gut-wrenching, and we never want to go through that again.” Aside from all the mind games, Middle Tennessee must correct its horrendous turnover margin of the last two seasons to return to past success. The Blue Raiders will play only five home games, but they can build some much-needed confidence with a soft early schedule against McNeese State, Florida Atlantic and at Memphis. A 3–0 start is not out of the question before the competition stiffens.

Read the full 2012 MTSU Blue Raiders Team Preview

115. Memphis
A former quarterback at Oklahoma and Murray State, Justin Fuente faces the challenging task of resurrecting a program that went to five bowls in six seasons under Tommy West but has won only five total games in the past three years. Fuente also has the added responsibility of bulking up a team that joins the Big East in 2013. Fuente understands that he has taken command of a program in disrepair. The number of scholarship players is low, and depth is practically non-existent. But the first-year coach brings an innovative offensive mind and has put together a solid staff that includes former North Texas head coach Darrell Dickey as offensive coordinator. Fuente also will be helped by a forgiving schedule that makes winning four games a realistic goal.

Read the full 2012 Memphis Tigers Team Preview

116. New Mexico State
The Aggies took a big step forward a season ago. They were a much more competitive team and could have won more than four games with a few breaks. It’s critical that NMSU continues to move forward under coach DeWayne Walker, who’s entering his fourth year at the school. If the Aggies improve as much this year as they did last year, bowl-eligibility isn’t out of the question thanks to a much kinder schedule in a new-look WAC that no longer includes Boise State, Fresno State and Nevada.

Read the full 2012 New Mexico State Aggies Team Preview

117. New Mexico
Bob Davie, who last coached at Notre Dame in 2001, knows what is in front of him. He is taking over a team that ranked 120th in scoring offense and 119th in scoring defense and has had 34 of the 67 players signed in the last three years leave the program. “This is a complete rebuilding job,” Davie says. “No one is going to argue that point. I’m comfortable with that. I feel fortunate to have the opportunity.” Discipline and attention to detail have been the themes since he took over, two areas that were apparently non-existent in the disastrous Mike Locksley era. The Lobos are lacking in personnel to make any sort of an immediate jump, but it is imperative for Davie to make some progress in the statistical rankings and in the win-loss record. He needs to be able to sell his next recruiting class on the hope that the program is headed in the right direction. 

Read the full 2012 New Mexico Lobos Team Preview

118. Idaho
After a pair of disappointing seasons, the pressure is on Idaho to return to a bowl game for the first time since 2009. A watered-down WAC should help, as the Vandals drop Nevada, Fresno State and Hawaii from their schedule and add FBS newbies UT-San Antonio and Texas State. Still, with only five home games and two games at BCS conference schools, the schedule isn’t exactly easy. Idaho will need its offense to improve significantly and for its defense and special teams to carry the load until the offense starts clicking. If things do fall into place, the Vandals could contend for a top-four finish in the WAC.

Read the full 2012 Idaho Vandals Team Preview

119.  Akron
Akron is headed for its seventh consecutive losing season. The 1–11 marks in 2010 and ’11 under Rob Ianello represented the worst two seasons for the Zips since they joined college football’s top division in 1987. That’s a big hole to climb out of, and even the presence of the much-ballyhooed Terry Bowden will not change the fortunes that quickly. The offense has some potential playmakers, but they will get a chance to produce only if the line develops. Chuck Amato must perform some magic on defense for the unit to be successful. Bowden seems to be a good fit for the job, but Zips fans must be patient.

Read the full 2012 Akron Zips Team Preview

120. FAU
Howard Schnellenberger will be long revered in Boca Raton, as he is in Coral Gables, for what he did to establish a program. Yet, while he built what would become a perennial power on the field at the University of Miami, his legacy at FAU will be the field itself. The product on it has slipped over the past five years, and now it’s up to Carl Pelini, who has only been a head coach at the high school level, to reverse the direction. He replaced all but one assistant, and he has tossed out the old schemes on offense and defense. “We have come a long way,” Pelini says. “We still have a long way to go, though.” That will be evident this season, especially in visits to Alabama and Georgia. Some Sun Belt progress would be sufficient. 

Read the full 2012 FAU Owls Team Preview

121. Texas State
After a 5–2 start last season under coach Dennis Franchione — in his first year in his second stint at the school — the Bobcats stumbled down the stretch to finish 6–6 as an FCS independent. Texas State now takes another step forward in 2012, joining the WAC for one season before moving on to the more stable Sun Belt Conference in ’13. The schedule will certainly be more challenging this season for the Bobcats, who will play only one FCS opponent — local rival Stephen F. Austin — after facing nine FCS foes and one Division II school last year. This season’s first two weeks include a Sept. 1 opener at Houston and Sept. 8 home game against Texas Tech. Texas State has been preparing for its move to the FBS ranks and expanded the seating capacity of Bobcat Stadium from 16,000 to 30,000 in the offseason. Franchione took New Mexico, TCU, Alabama and Texas A&M to bowl games before arriving in San Marcos. The Bobcats may eventually find similar success, but there will likely be some growing pains in the short term. 

Read the full 2012 Texas State Bobcats Team Preview

122. UMass
Under the hyper-energetic Charley Molnar, the Minutemen are taking a unique approach to their transition to the FBS. They aren’t scheduling any FCS opponents, and every nonconference game they will play over the next few years is against a BCS conference opponent. On top of that, the Minutemen will play home games in Gillette Stadium, hoping that the allure of playing in an NFL stadium will counter the fact that “home” games will be almost 100 miles from campus. UMass won’t be eligible for a MAC championship or a bowl appearance until 2013 as it completes its transition, but just being competitive figures to be challenge enough in 2012.

Read the full 2012 UMass Minutemen Team Preview

123. South Alabama
After going undefeated in its first two seasons of football, South Alabama went 6–4 last year against a more difficult schedule that included its first games against FBS opponents (losses at NC State and Kent State). South Alabama won’t be eligible for the Sun Belt championship or the postseason until 2013, but the Jaguars will play a full league schedule. They open the season Aug. 30 against recent start-up program Texas-San Antonio, coached by former Miami (Fla.) boss Larry Coker. Joey Jones has built a solid foundation since being hired in February 2008. The Jaguars have a veteran team, with 47 returning lettermen and 13 returning starters, but their first season against a full Sun Belt schedule will be tough. A last-place finish is likely.

Read the full 2012 South Alabama Jaguars Team Preview

124. UTSA
Former BCS national championship-winning Miami (Fla.) coach Larry Coker helped lead UTSA to a 4–6 mark in its first year while playing as an FCS Independent. The Roadrunners don’t count as an FBS opponent until 2013 — when they are expected to join Conference USA after a one-year stop in the WAC — and won’t be a full-fledged FBS member or eligible for a bowl until 2014. Last season, UTSA played tough at eventual FCS national runner-up Sam Houston State before losing 22–7, and beat FCS member Georgia State 17–14 in overtime. Start-up programs traditionally face a tough road, but UTSA is already making some steady progress. Still, it’s a stretch to believe the Roadrunners will be any kind of a threat in the WAC in their first (and only) season in the league.

Read the full 2012 UTSA Roadrunners Team Preview

Related College Football Content

Athlon's College Football Top 25 for 2012
Athlon's College Football 2012 Rankings: No. 26-35
Athlon's College Football 2012 Rankings: No. 36-45
Athlon's College Football 2012 Rankings: No. 46-60
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thlon's College Football 2012 Rankings: No. 61-80
Athlon's College Football 2012 Rankings: No. 81-100

Teaser:
<p> College football 2012 predictions: No. 101-124</p>
Post date: Wednesday, June 13, 2012 - 04:09
Path: /college-football/college-fantasy-football-2012-wide-receiver-rankings
Body:

Fall college fantasy football drafts are right around the corner and Athlon is here to help win your league in 2012. Rankings will be updated right up until kickoff and expect plenty of tweaks to over the next couple of months.

Scoring system rankings based upon -

1 passing touchdown = 4 points
Rushing/receiving = 6 points
25 passing yards = 1 point
10 rushing/receiving yards = 1 point
1 reception = 0.5 points
1 fumble = -1 point
1 interception = - 1 point

Updated: August 12

Related College Fantasy Football Content

College Fantasy Football: 2012 Top 200
College Fantasy Football: 2012 Quarterback Rankings
College Fantasy Football: 2012 Running Back Rankings

College Fantasy Football: 2012 Wide Receiver Rankings
College Fantasy Football: 2012 Tight End Rankings
College Fantasy Football: 2012 Kicker Rankings
College Fantasy Football: 2012 Team Defense Rankings

Rankings Player Team
1 Robert Woods USC
2 Marquess Wilson Washington State
3 Sammy Watkins Clemson
4 Nick Harwell Miami (Ohio)
5 Tavon Austin West Virginia
6 Stedman Bailey West Virginia
7 Marqise Lee USC
8 Quinton Patton Louisiana Tech
9 Keenan Allen California
10 Kenny Stills Oklahoma
11 Darrin Moore Texas Tech
12 Terrance Williams Baylor
13 Ryan Swope Texas A&M
14 Da'Rick Rogers Tennessee
15 Darius Johnson SMU
16 Cody Hoffman BYU
17 Cobi Hamilton Arkansas
18 Josh Boyce TCU
19 Justin Hardy East Carolina
20 Rashad Greene Florida State
21 Bernard Reedy Toledo
22 Javone Lawson UL Lafayette
23 Tevin Reese Baylor
24 Kasen Williams Washington
25 Matt Miller Boise State
26 Markus Wheaton Oregon State
27 Tracy Moore Oklahoma State
28 Dewayne Peace Houston
29 Eric Ward Texas Tech
30 Eric Thomas Troy
31 Ronnie Williams Houston
32 Erik Highsmith North Carolina
33 Trey Metoyer Oklahoma
34 Justin Hunter Tennessee
35 DeAndre Hopkins Clemson
36 Tavarres King Georgia
37 Jordan Matthews Vanderbilt
38 Aaron Dobson Marshall
39 Titus Davis Central Michigan
40 Alec Lemon Syracuse
41 Noel Grigsby San Jose State
42 Jackie Williams UAB
43 Keenan Davis Iowa
44 Emory Blake Auburn
45 Julian Horton Arkansas
46 Josh Stewart Oklahoma State
47 Josh Schaffer Western Michigan
48 Michael Campanaro Wake Forest
49 Bryan Burnham Tulsa
50 Jared Abbrederis Wisconsin
51 Shaun Joplin Bowling Green
52 Cody Wilson Central Michigan
53 Jaxon Shipley Texas
54 Eric Monette Western Michigan
55 Kristoff Williams Washington State
56 Odell Beckham LSU
57 Colin Lockett San Diego State
58 Josh Jarboe Arkansas State
59 Taylor Stockemer Arkansas State
60 Conner Vernon Duke
61 Marcus Davis Virginia Tech
62 Demetrius Fields Northwestern
63 T.J. Moe Missouri
64 Uzoma Nwachukwu Texas A&M
65 Malcolm Mitchell Georgia
66 Brandon Coleman Rutgers
67 Kelvin Benjamin Florida State
68 Charlie Moore Oklahoma State
69 T.J. Jones Notre Dame
70 Devin Smith Ohio State
71 DeVante Daniels Notre Dame
72 Deontay Greenberry Houston
73 Roy Roundree Michigan
74 Jamal Miles Arizona State
75 Billy Ray Stutzmann Hawaii
76 Daniel Spencer Houston
77 Martel Moore Northern Illinois
78 Aaron Bradley Nevada
79 Ivan McCartney West Virginia
80 Geraldo Boldewijn Boise State

Teaser:
<p> College Fantasy Wide Receiver Rankings for 2012</p>
Post date: Wednesday, June 13, 2012 - 03:55
Path: /nascar/nascar-free-agent-crop-speed-michigan-and-sponsor-search-bodine
Body:

One race can reveal only so much about a season but could Sunday’s event at Pocono forecast the future for some drivers? Joey Logano, AJ Allmendinger and Kurt Busch are among those trying to solidify their status for next season, yet Pocono pulled them in opposite directions.

One of the biggest questions from Sunday’s race is what did the victory do for Logano’s future with Joe Gibbs Racing.

Logano presents an interesting case. For all the talk that he has not fulfilled his potential, remember that he’s only 22 years old and now has two Cup victories. Jeff Gordon didn’t win his first Cup race (the Coca-Cola 600) until he was 22. Gordon’s second win (Indianapolis) didn’t come until days after he turned 23.

Logano’s win Sunday, though, was his first top-five finish of the season and only the second time he’s led a race this year.

“For sure right now my future is not set with anybody,” Logano said. “You need to go out there and win races. To get this win means a lot. It's at a perfect time.

“My hope is to obviously stay with what I’ve got. But you never know. You know, those things go back and forth and switch around a lot, and all I can do is stay focused on my job, and that’s driving the race car.”

Allmendinger, hired after last season to replace Busch at Penske Racing, hasn’t had it as good this season. Foxsports.com reports he’s in a contract year and Sunday’s race typified his struggles this season. He was collected in a crash on the second lap and finished 31st — the third time he’s placed 30th or worse in the last four races.

“In my worst nightmare, I didn’t think the season would go this bad,” Allmendinger said. “You’ve got two options: you quit or you keep working harder. I’ve been six years in this. I’ve experienced bad stuff before in NASCAR, so I ain’t going to quit. We’ll just keep working harder. We’ve got to figure out how to turn it around. It’s tough. I definitely don’t want to be in this position, nobody does.”

And then there’s Busch, who needed to prove he could avoid issues outside the car. That lasted barely a third of the way through the season after NASCAR suspended him a week for verbally abusing a reporter. The incident happened with Busch already on probation for incidents during and after the Southern 500 last month. 

Tuesday, car owner James Finch met with Busch about his future with the team and later announced that Busch will continue driving for Phoenix Racing. 

Those are just a few of the drivers who could switch teams after this season. Ryan Newman’s contract expires at season’s end, as does Martin Truex Jr.’s. The Sporting News reports that Matt Kenseth’s contract is up — but he’s expected to remain at Roush Fenway Racing — as is Jamie McMurray’s at Earnhardt Ganassi Racing and Regan Smith’s at Furniture Row Racing.

It likely will come down to sponsorship and what drivers companies want. Logano has the opportunity to rise among the free-agent list but he must back up his win with more strong finishes. If not, he could be bypassed for a ride by those also looking for a job next year.


FAST TIMES  For the second weekend in a row, the Cup Series races on a repaved track. This time it’s Michigan International Speedway, where speeds neared 215 mph in a recent tire test.

“I did the tire test there, but it was a very comfortable feeling pace,” Jeff Gordon said. “The cars drove really good. They stuck to the race track. I like the tire that Goodyear brought there. Just like (at Pocono), we just need the groove to widen out a little bit. That is only going to come with laps.”

Points leader Matt Kenseth, who also participated in the tire test, said he’s not worried about the speeds.

“If you go off into Turn 1 and blow a tire at 200 (mph) compared to 207 or whatever we’re running now, I don’t know it’s much of a difference because you’re still gonna hit something pretty hard,” he said. “Other than that, it’s not any harder to drive here. It’s actually probably a little bit easier just because it’s not bumpy and the line is pretty defined where you’re going to run.”


SPONSOR SEARCH CONTINUES   Todd Bodine won the Camping World Truck Series race earlier this month at Dover without a primary sponsor and also didn’t have one at Texas last weekend. Red Horse Racing owner Tom DeLoach recently shut down Daytona winner John King’s team for lack of sponsorship, leaving Bodine and Timothy Peters.

What happens to the two remaining teams will depend on sponsorship.

“My wife Janet is working really hard on getting us sponsorship and she's actually having some success,” Bodine said. “We’ve got some major corporations that are interested in doing things, unfortunately their time frame doesn't work the same as it does in our world. We need it yesterday and they're OK getting it five months from now.

“There’s three different deals, three different corporations we’re talking to and they all three called up and said they wish they were on (at Dover). That's a good thing.

“I can't speak for Tom saying that we're going to continue without sponsorship. But, I think Tom sees the light at the end of the tunnel and knows this is a great opportunity for his race team. Not only for right now, but for the future and when you see that kind of opportunity, there's times when you have to dig deep and keep going. I think that's where we're at.

“All I can say is stay tuned — we have a lot of great things happening at Red Horse Racing.”


PIT STOPS   Clint Bowyer on if he’s surprised by some of the struggles at Richard Childress Racing, his former team: “I’m not there anymore. I guess you never wish bad things upon anybody, but if you’re not there anymore, you don’t really care as long as they are behind you.” ... Jimmie Johnson on his hunger for a sixth title: “That desire is there, and when that desire fades I guess it’s time to hang up the helmet.” Tony Stewart, after Tuesday's tire test at Bristol: "You've definitely lost the top groove. There's going to be less room to race, that's for sure. We've gone from a three-groove track to two grooves."


by Dustin Long
Follow Dustin on Twitter:
@DustinLong
 

Teaser:
<p> Athlon Sports contributor Dustin Long looks at free agent drivers in the Cup Series, excelerated speeds on a re-paved Michigan International Speedway and Todd Bodine's continued sponsorship search.</p>
Post date: Tuesday, June 12, 2012 - 17:58
Path: /nba/miami-heat-ready-challenge-oklahoma-city-thunder
Body:

The NBA Finals begin tonight at the Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, and the stars on the court will be plentiful. The dynamic trio of Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden lead the Thunder, while the more publicized “Big 3” of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh will counter for the Heat. The teams split in two games this season with the Thunder winning at home, 103-87, and the Heat evening it up in Miami, 98-93.

While the teams will obviously decide who wins the championship, many fans are focusing on the head-to-head matchup of James and Durant. Miami is back in the finals for a second-straight season thanks to another stellar campaign from James, who won his third MVP in four years. Meanwhile, Durant won his third consecutive NBA scoring title this year and has the Thunder rolling through the competition in the postseason. Multiple defenders will guard each superstar throughout the series, and the player who can hit the big shots late in games may decide the champion.

The NBA Finals change to a 2-3-2 format for the home team, instead of the 2-2-1-1-1 formula used in the earlier rounds of the postseason. The Thunder have the home-court advantage in this series and are 8-0 in Oklahoma City during the playoffs. The OKC franchise won its only title as the Seattle Supersonics in 1979, while the Wade-led Heat took the NBA crown in 2006. Durant and company are playing in their first final, while James hopes his personal third shot at a title is the charm in 2012.
 

Teaser:
<p> Miami Heat Ready to Challenge the Oklahoma City Thunder</p>
Post date: Tuesday, June 12, 2012 - 11:48
Path: /college-football/pac-12-football-2012-predictions
Body:

The obstacles were well-documented. USC would be crippled for multiple seasons by NCAA penalties — after all, it had happened before. De’Anthony Thomas’ recruiting defection to Oregon was a program crusher. Lane Kiffin was an overrated coach. For all of the above reasons, impending doom was predicted for the Trojans for seasons to come. But a funny thing happened on the way to mediocrity: SC, under Kiffin and without Thomas, has put its football house back in order with a vengeance — possibly all the way to a national championship.

With 15 of 24 starters returning from a 10–2 team, led by prolific pro-style quarterback and Heisman Trophy candidate Matt Barkley and a wide receiving corps unmatched in college football, the Trojans are heavy favorites to claim the Pac-12 title and more after serving hard time for Reggie Bush’s indiscretions. If USC can run the ball effectively and plug a few other holes, it just might run the table and disrupt the SEC’s long-running dominance of college football.

Barkley’s commitment to another college season was unexpected and enthusiastically welcomed by the Trojans who have now accelerated their efforts to reclaim what they once had. “The 2012 team has some serious unfinished business to attend to,” Barkley said in announcing his return.

The Trojans easily should rule the Pac-12’s South Division, keeping top challenger Utah and the league’s best defensive lineman Star Lotulelei at arm’s length. The Utes will be formidable because they have the schedule on their side, not playing North contenders Oregon and Stanford while getting USC at home. Plus, quarterback Jordan Wynn is healthy again from shoulder injuries.

In the North, the first one among the Ducks and Cardinal to find a suitable quarterback replacement for Darron Thomas and No. 1 overall NFL draft pick Andrew Luck, respectively, likely wins. Oregon gets the early North nod because of Thomas’ explosive presence in the backfield. Washington will be a factor largely because it has its quarterback issues already resolved, welcoming back the highly productive Keith Price for another season, though defensive shortcomings will keep it from title contention.

With a third of the conference undergoing coaching changes, bringing high-profile and up-tempo leaders to Arizona, Arizona State, UCLA and Washington State, upsets could be far more prevalent than usual.

The Cougars’ Mike Leach, after inheriting promising quarterbacks in Jeff Tuel and Connor Halliday, plus the remnants of Paul Wulff’s long-term rebuilding efforts, will be especially worrisome for the Pac-12’s upper echelon.

Athlon's 2012 Pac-12 Team Previews

North South
California Arizona
Oregon Arizona State
Oregon State Colorado
Stanford UCLA
Washington USC
Washington State Utah

Playmaker

Oregon’s De’Anthony Thomas started only six of 14 games as a freshman running back. Closing out the season, he rushed the ball just twice against Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl. This is the résumé for a potential Heisman Trophy candidate?

More lightning bolt than workhorse, Thomas made the most of his limited opportunities for the Ducks, scoring 18 times and thus positioning himself among the college football elite for 2012. On his two Rose Bowl carries, Thomas, a player christened “the Black Mamba” as a kid by rapper Snoop Dogg, zinged the Badgers for electric 91- and 64-yard scoring jaunts, the first run ranking as the longest in Rose Bowl history.

“I don’t know if I’ve ever had a kid who averaged 77.5 yards per carry,” Oregon coach Chip Kelly wisecracked. “I’ll see if (this season) we can get him an extra carry or two.”

Secondary Violations

What’s up with the barren stretch of straightaway Interstate 5 freeway that cuts through Albany, Ore., and pedal-to-the-metal defensive backs?

In February, Oregon State cornerback Malcolm Marable was suspended by the Beavers after he was cited for driving 104 mph in Albany, a half hour from campus, at 1 a.m. while in a 2005 Nissan Altima registered to a family member. A potential starter, he is expected to be reinstated for the 2012 season. Eight months earlier, Oregon’s Cliff Harris, an all-conference cornerback, was pulled over south of Albany, an hour from his campus, for driving 118 mph at 4:30 a.m. He was suspended by the Ducks. His car of choice? A rented 2011 Nissan Altima.

Leach’s Law

WSU’s Mike Leach, who inherited a pair of promising quarterbacks in Jeff Tuel and Connor Halliday, had them throwing almost exclusively throughout spring practice, far more than the often air-minded Cougars had done in recent seasons. “I had a lot of fun doing it,” says Tuel, a senior. “It’s only going to make us better, and the more throwing the better, for me.”

To prepare the WSU players for his breakneck approach, Leach subjected them to conditioning drills from 10 p.m. to midnight leading up to spring practice, working toward a wardrobe incentive. Cougars were forced to wear pink T-shirts if a subpar performance was turned in during these late-night encounters, gray shirts for average effort and black shirts for above average.

Not His First Rodeo

A rodeo résumé might not be all that unusual for a high-profile player at, say, Texas or Wyoming, but it is at Stanford. Trent Murphy, a 6'6", 255-pound starting linebacker from Phoenix and potential Cardinal defensive mainstay, counts horseback riding, team roping, steer wrestling and rattlesnake skinning among his diverse talents.  Of manhandling a steer, Murphy says, “They’re a little smaller than you think, only about 500 or 600 pounds. The trick is you try to use their momentum against them. As they’re running, you get the right leverage and twist their head right around so they kind of fall over on their back.”

Dan’s the Man

Dan Buckner, Arizona’s top receiver, one-time Texas transfer and resident funnyman, is playing for his fourth college head coach — Mack Brown at Texas, Mike Stoops, Tim Kish (interim) and Rich Rodriguez at Arizona. Yet Buckner should be used to people coming and going in his world: He has nearly 1,900 Twitter followers and roughly 5,000 Facebook friends. He’s a social media maven. He’s definitely his own man, too. “There are good leaders and bad leaders. I just want to be viewed as a positive one,” Buckner said.

Trojan Genes

In the spring, USC toyed with moving Kevin Graf from starting right tackle to the all-important left tackle slot — to replace NFL-bound Matt Kalil — but opted to keep the 6'6", 295-junior on the right side, at least for now. If the staff revisits the plan in the fall, Graf should be more than up to fill the role.

His father, Allan, was a starting offensive guard and member of USC’s 1972 national championship team before embarking on a career as a Hollywood stunt coordinator. Graf’s brother, Derek, was an offensive guard, center and part-time Trojans starter in 2002 before the sibling likewise became a stunt double. 

Related Pac-12 Content

Oregon's Top 10 Players for 2012
USC's Top 10 Players for 2012

Stanford's Top 10 Players for 2012

Washington's Top 10 Players for 2012

Teaser:
<p> Pac-12 Football 2012 Predictions.</p>
Post date: Tuesday, June 12, 2012 - 06:01
All taxonomy terms: Green Bay Packers, NFC, NFC North, NFL
Path: /nfl/green-bay-packers-2012-schedule-analysis
Body:

Scheduling plays a huge role in the outcome of every NFL season. So the Athlon NFL editors will spend the next month dissecting each and every week of the 2012 slate for all 32 teams in the league.

Green Bay Packers 2012 Schedule:

Week 1: San Francisco
Week 2: Chicago (Thur.)
Week 3: at Seattle (Mon.)
Week 4: New Orleans
Week 5: at Indianapolis
Week 6: at Houston
Week 7: at St. Louis
Week 8: Jacksonville
Week 9: Arizona
Week 10: BYE
Week 11: at Detroit
Week 12: at New York Giants
Week 13: Minnesota
Week 14: Detroit
Week 15: at Chicago
Week 16: Tennessee
Week 17: at Minnesota

- The kickoff to the 2012 season will be what many Packers fans believed would be an epic NFC Championship game showdown last year. The Giants obviously thwarted any dreams of a 49ers-Packers title game battle, but these two fanbases will get a shot to start their revenge tour in style. The late Sunday afternoon game on FOX will feature what could be the top two teams in the NFC — with home field advantage potentially determined on Opening Weekend.

- Green Bay then has to deal with an incredibly short week when it welcomes the arch-rival Bears to town on Thursday night. So four days after facing Patrick Willis and Company, Aaron Rodgers will have to deal with Brian Urlacher and Julius Peppers and the rest of the Monsters of the Midway. Those could be the top two defenses in the NFC in 2012 and the Packers will face them right out of the gate with a short week of preparation.

- The long trip west to battle Seattle in Week 3 provides the second primetime match-up in three weeks. The Packers will have 11 days to prepare for the Monday night tilt with the Seahawks after their Thursday night bout with the Bears.

- Three of the first four games of the season will be played on the not-yet-frozen tundra of Lambeau Field. However, three straight road games from Week 5 to Week 7 make up for the home-road imbalance. Getting three December home games in four weeks could provide the cold weather home field advantage most Packers fans would prefer.

- There are two small breaks in the round-robin rotation. First, the NFC West will play the NFC North — giving three potential playoff teams from the North a collection of “easy (-er)” games with Arizona, St. Louis and Seattle. It will likely be the worst division in the NFC again this year. Green Bay will have played all four teams from the West by Week 9.

- In crossover play, the Packers get the AFC South. While this creates a brutal road trip to Houston which could be a potential Super Bowl preview, it also means the Jaguars, Colts and Titans are on the schedule as well. Much like the NFC West, this division provides two easy games, one modest test and one physical, nasty throwdown.

- With the exception of the Week 2 Thursday night match-up with Chicago at home, the Packers will play every divisional game post-bye week (Week 10). In fact, four of the final five games of the season will come against NFC North teams. The seven-game stretch to finish the season is not only going to be trying, but could determine a huge chunk of the seeding for the playoffs. Green Bay starts its second half with nasty road trips to the Lions and the Giants. Nothing needs to be said about the storylines of a trip to the New Meadowlands. Green Bay will wrap-up its ’12 season with two road division games and a home game against Tennessee. With the Lions, Giants and Bears (which certainly isn't Kansas anymore) pushing for NFC playoff bids, fans can expect some big-time fireworks in the final seven weeks.

- The two floating games of the 2012 season are New Orleans at home in Week 4 and the Week 12 road trip to the face the Super Bowl champs. Certainly, not many teams will play these type of floating games — and rightly so, considering the Packers might be the preseason favorite to win the NFC. So for two years in a row, the Cheeseheads will host the Saints and visit the Giants.

Fantasy Focus: Many believe James Starks could have a breakout 2012 campaign, but be sure to have other options early in the season. San Francisco, Chicago and Houston provide must-bench weekends for most running games and Green Bay will face all three in the first six weeks of the season. That said, the fantasy-rich passing game should be on cruise control after Week 2.

- by Braden Gall

@bradengall

Order your 2012 Green Bay Packers Athlon Sports NFL Preview magazine

2012 Athlon Sports NFL team-by-team schedule analysis:

AFC East
Buffalo Bills
Miami Dolphins
New England Patriots
New York Jets

AFC North
Baltimore Ravens
Cincinnati Bengals
Cleveland Browns
Pittsburgh Steelers

AFC South
Houston Texans
Indianapolis Colts
Jacksonville Jaguars
Tennessee Titans

AFC West
Denver Broncos
Kansas City Chiefs
Oakland Raiders
San Diego Chargers

NFC East
Dallas Cowboys
New York Giants
Philadelphia Eagles
Washington Redskins

NFC North
Chicago Bears
Detroit Lions
Green Bay Packers
Minnesota Vikings

NFC South
Atlanta Falcons
Carolina Panthers
New Orleans Saints
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

NFC West
Arizona Cardinals
San Francisco 49ers
Seattle Seahawks
St. Louis Rams

Teaser:
<p> Green Bay Packers 2012 Schedule Analysis</p>
Post date: Tuesday, June 12, 2012 - 06:01
All taxonomy terms: AFC, AFC North, Cincinnati Bengals, NFL
Path: /nfl/cincinnati-bengals-2012-schedule-analysis
Body:

Scheduling plays a huge role in the outcome of every NFL season. So the Athlon NFL editors will spend the next month dissecting each and every week of the 2012 slate for all 32 teams in the league.

Cincinnati Bengals 2012 Schedule:

Week 1: at Baltimore (Mon.)
Week 2: Cleveland
Week 3: at Washington
Week 4: at Jacksonville
Week 5: Miami
Week 6: at Cleveland
Week 7: Pittsburgh
Week 8: BYE
Week 9: Denver
Week 10: New York Giants
Week 11: at Kansas City
Week 12: Oakland
Week 13: at San Diego
Week 14: Dallas
Week 15: at Philadelphia (Thurs.)
Week 16: at Pittsburgh
Week 17: Baltimore

Order your 2012 Cincinnati Bengals Athlon Sports NFL Preview magazine

- Cincinnati begins and ends its 2012 season with a double-dose of AFC North games. The Bengals open with a Monday night game in Baltimore followed by a home game against Cleveland. They end the season with a trip to Pittsburgh and then hosting the Ravens. Cincinnati plays four of its six divisional games in the first seven weeks of the season, and then doesn't play another one until Weeks 16 and 17.

- The other divisions Cincinnati draws this season are the AFC West and NFC East. Of these eight opponents, the Bengals will play seven of them in a row, starting in Week 9. Cincinnati only has to make one long trip, out west to San Diego in Week 13, but that's one of the few breaks the Bengals catch with this season's cross-divisional slate.

- Cincinnati needs to come up with as many wins as possible in their first seven games, because their last nine are pretty difficult. Outside of the season opener in Baltimore and a Week 7 home date against Pittsburgh, the first part of the Bengals' schedule appears manageable. Cincinnati gets division foe Cleveland twice, along with Washington, Jacksonville and Miami. The trip down to Florida to face the Jaguars and the home game against the Dolphins are the Bengals' two floating games this season.

- Cincinnati's bye comes in Week 8, an opportune time considering the Bengals will have just played the rival Steelers in Week 7. The bye also gives them one week to prepare for a brutal nine-game stretch to finish the season, starting with consecutive home games against the Manning brothers. Peyton and the Broncos come calling first, followed by Eli and the defending Super Bowl champion Giants. If anything, ticket sales should be brisk for these games at Paul Brown Stadium.

- The Bengals then play three straight games against the AFC West, with road trips to Kansas City and San Diego sandwiched by a home game against Oakland. That road trip out west kicks off what is arguably one of the most difficult closing five-game stretches of any team in the NFL in 2012.

- After making the long trek out to San Diego to face the Chargers, Cincinnati comes back home to take on Dallas before heading to Philadelphia to battle the Eagles on Thursday night in Week 15. Those few extra days between this game and their next one the following Sunday will come in handy as the Bengals close out the regular season in divsional play on the road against the Steelers and then home to the Ravens. All five of these teams are expected to be in the playoff race, not to mention the fact that the Cowboys and Eagles are in the same division, just like the Steelers, Ravens and Bengals. This means Cincinnati's final five games could  have playoff implications tied to them.

Fantasy Focus: Quarterback Andy Dalton and wide receiver A.J. Green both put up respectable fantasy numbers in their rookie campaigns last season. However, the fantasy expectations in 2012 for the duo should probably be tempered somewhat when looking at Cincinnati's schedule. Besides facing both Baltimore and Pittsburgh twice, the Bengals also have Dallas, Denver, the New York Giants, Philadelphia and San Diego on their slate. Fantasy-wise, Cincinnati's '12 schedule appears even less appetizing upon a closer look. The Bengals have to face the three teams — Baltimore, Cleveland and Pittsburgh — that gave up the fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks last season, and will play each of them twice. Besdies their three AFC North divisional foes, Jacksonville, Kansas City, Washington and Philadelphia also ranked among the top 16 teams in this category. For Green and the rest of the Bengals' wide receivers, the outlook is even worse. Eight of Cincinnati's 13 opponents this season finished among the top 16 teams in terms of fantasy points allowed to wide receivers. Once again, divisional foes lead the way, with Cleveland and Pittsburgh coming at first and second, and Kansas City (4th), Baltimore (6th), Jacksonville (8th) and Washington (9th) also ranking among the top 10. 

— by Mark Ross, published on June 12, 2012

2012 Athlon Sports NFL team-by-team schedule analysis:

AFC East
Buffalo Bills
Miami Dolphins
New England Patriots
New York Jets

AFC North
Baltimore Ravens
Cincinnati Bengals
Cleveland Browns
Pittsburgh Steelers

AFC South
Houston Texans
Indianapolis Colts
Jacksonville Jaguars
Tennessee Titans

AFC West
Denver Broncos
Kansas City Chiefs
Oakland Raiders
San Diego Chargers

NFC East
Dallas Cowboys
New York Giants
Philadelphia Eagles
Washington Redskins

NFC North
Chicago Bears
Detroit Lions
Green Bay Packers
Minnesota Vikings

NFC South
Atlanta Falcons
Carolina Panthers
New Orleans Saints
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

NFC West
Arizona Cardinals
San Francisco 49ers
Seattle Seahawks
St. Louis Rams

Teaser:
<p> Cincinnati Bengals 2012 Schedule Analysis</p>
Post date: Tuesday, June 12, 2012 - 06:00
Path: /college-football/college-football-preseason-2012-rankings-no-81-100
Body:

With the completion of Athlon's college football Top 25 for 2012, it's time to take a look at the rest of the rankings, continuing with No. 81-100. 

Note: Ranking is where team is projected to finish at the end of the 2012 season.

81. Kansas
There’s no question the Jayhawks are in better shape entering 2012 than they were during the past two seasons, but better shape does not necessarily mean good shape. As long as quarterback Crist stays healthy, the offense should put points on the board, which is vital in the Big 12. The question that will loom all season is whether the defense can make enough stops to allow that offense to compete. The addition of defensive coordinator Dave Campo, a former NFL head coach, helps, and the KU defense appears to be more disciplined and organized. But unless it can find a way to get pressure on opposing quarterbacks, winning conference games could remain a struggle.

Read the full 2012 Kansas Jayhawks Team Preview

82. Southern Miss
Southern Miss is coming off a school-record 12-win season, a league title, a bowl win and top-20 year-end national ranking. New coach Ellis Johnson won’t be expected to repeat that magical run, especially with Nebraska, Boise State and Louisville on the non-conference schedule. Johnson will be breaking in a new starting quarterback and playing without his leading rusher. Also, the defense must replace several key pieces. Southern Miss still has talent — more than most teams in the league. But the Golden Eagles figure to take a small step back in 2012.

Read the full 2012 Southern Miss Golden Eagles Team Preview

83. Marshall
Marshall did not make a big jump from Year 1 to Year 2 under Doc Holliday, but finishing 6–6 after a 5–7 mark the year before meant a bowl berth, and when the Herd won the Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl, tangible progress was felt. Marshall has a chance to continue that upward trend if the offensive line can allow the team’s talented skill players to thrive, particularly Aaron Dobson. Defensively, Marshall is deeper and better prepared for some of the difficult offenses it will face. Another bowl berth for the Herd in 2012 would not be a surprise, but a C-USA championship still looks to be at least a few years down the road.

Read the full 2012 Marshall Thundering Herd Team Preview

84. Colorado
Colorado will be one of the youngest teams in the nation with a new quarterback and nearly all of its toughest games on the road. It’s difficult to expect Buffalo fans to have any more patience after six straight losing seasons, but the program is at least a year away from being more competitive with the rest of the Pac-12 and reaching the postseason.

Read the full 2012 Colorado Buffaloes Team Preview

85. Northern Illinois
Northern Illinois coach Dave Doeren didn’t need a spring practice to notice the difference between last year’s offense-dominated team and the 2012 edition. “This team is really a flip of last year’s team,” he says. The Huskies return only three starters from an offense that scored 40 points or more in nine games. Jordan Lynch’s progress hinges on the development and chemistry of a revamped offensive line and unproven group of running backs. The defense allowed 30.3 points and 415.2 yards per game last year but should help the offense during an early transition period. The defense is filled with enough talent and depth to carry the team, but it must force turnovers at a higher rate than the last few years. A favorable schedule that includes four of the first five games at home (including the season-opener against Iowa at Soldier Field) and does not include any of the contenders in the MAC East should help the Huskies’ quest for a third straight trip to the MAC title game. 

Read the full 2012 Northern Illinois Huskies Team Preview

86. Boston College
Boston College coach Frank Spaziani won’t be collecting his mail on Chestnut Hill if the Eagles experience a repeat of last season, when BC endured its first losing campaign since 1998. Sitting out the postseason after a run of 12 straight bowl appearances was especially galling to the boosters, alumni and student body, who were clamoring in unison for the guillotine. They may get their wish after the 2012 season.

Read the full 2012 Boston College Eagles Team Preview

87. Fresno State
For 15 years, Pat Hill and his Fu Manchu moustache were synonymous with Fresno State. But last year’s 4–9 mark, on top of years of dwindling attendance, forced AD Thomas Boeh’s hand. Thus the Bulldogs begin their first season in the Mountain West Conference with a clean slate. With Derek Carr and Robbie Rouse, the Bulldogs boast two of the elite offensive players in the league. This should be a good offense, provided the players get comfortable with the new system. Based on a rough spring practice, it’s not down pat yet. The defense, too, should be improved, based on Tim DeRuyter’s track record. Boise State is clearly the class of the MWC. Fresno State is among a group of teams seeking to be the best of the rest.

Read the full 2012 Fresno State Bulldogs Team Preview 

88. Wyoming
In Dave Christensen’s first three seasons, the goals focused mostly on earning a trip to the postseason. The Cowboys accomplished their mission twice, and now — with Christensen receiving the program’s largest contract ever — the expectation level has increased. “I think we’re getting closer now, and where our focus has to be is playing for a conference championship,” he says. Brett Smith could be the top quarterback in the conference, and an experienced, hungry defense could be in for a special year. With TCU moving to the Big 12 and Boise State quarterback Kellen Moore having graduated, the Cowboys could be surprise contenders in the Mountain West.

Read the full 2012 Wyoming Cowboys Team Preview

89. Indiana
Tom Crean needed four seasons to turn the Indiana basketball team around, so it’s unrealistic to expect miracles from Kevin Wilson in Year 2. His most important decision will be at quarterback. Although Tre Roberson provided thrills and some long plays, he’s not a perfect fit for the pro-style passing game that Wilson and new offensive coordinator Seth Littrell prefer. They’ll be tempted to go with Cameron Coffman or Nathan Sudfeld. But Indiana allowed nearly 43 points per game while going winless in the Big Ten. Unless the Hoosiers start to hold their own on either line of scrimmage, major improvement will have to wait another season.

Read the full 2012 Indiana Hoosiers Team Preview

90. Utah State
As Gary Andersen prepares for his fourth season at the USU helm, he is pleased with the work ethic of his team. The goal is a WAC title, which is not out of the question with the departure of Nevada, Hawaii and Fresno State to the Mountain West. While two stud running backs are gone, this team still should be able to run the ball. Plus, with two experienced quarterbacks, the offense should be able to score points and keep fans excited. The Aggies had some problems early last season closing out games in heartbreaking losses at Auburn and BYU and a home defeat against Colorado State. However, USU reeled off five straight wins to make the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl. Winning eight games this year should not be a stretch.

Read the full 2012 Utah State Aggies Team Preview

91. Colorado State
Talk about a leap of faith: Jim McElwain is leaving a program that has won two of the past three national championships for one that produced three consecutive 3–9 seasons under Steve Fairchild. McElwain’s No. 1 goal during the spring was to change the culture and instill an attitude of commitment and accountability. Some players, including some projected starters, departed, but those who stayed bought in and swear by McElwain’s leadership. “Coach Mac brings a lot of passion and excitement,” Nwoke says. “We want to do great things next year, but it’s on us do the work over the summer to get there. Nobody wants to be 3–9 ever again.” The good news is the Rams have a schedule that should be friendly to improvement — perhaps even the first .500 finish since 2008. But with a largely untested quarterback and a defense facing numerous questions, it’s clear that McElwain’s first season will be filled with lots of uncertainty. 

Read the full 2012 Colorado State Rams Team Preview

92. Air Force
Connor Dietz leads an offense that returns only three starters. He must remain healthy, which is a large question considering his reckless style, and he must be more generous. In past seasons, Dietz has been too eager to call his own number on the option. The bigger question is defense. The Falcons averaged 34.9 points in 2011, but their defense — which struggled mightily against the run — doomed them to disappointment. Jamil Cooks and Brian Lindsay must reach their considerable potential if the Falcons hope to record a winning record.

Read the full 2012 Air Force Falcons Team Preview

93. SMU
June Jones says he is happy with the progress of the program, which has been to three straight bowl games. As for this season, he says a fourth straight bowl is the goal, though he admits that early in the season, “we’ll be a rebuilding team, but I think we’ll rebuild pretty fast because we’re going to be pretty good on defense.” Jones has yet to put up the pinball offensive numbers he did at Hawaii, though his teams have set several SMU passing records in his tenure. To him, it boils down to the quarterback, and that is an unknown entering the season. “Until you get one of those quarterbacks that can shoot the lights out, you’ll float around in the top 20 or 25 in passing,” Jones says. “When you get one of those quarterbacks like Case Keenum, (Houston) went from No. 30 to No. 1. We’ve had good production out of the quarterbacks, but we haven’t had a great one yet.” SMU fans are hoping Garrett Gilbert is the first.

Read the full 2012 SMU Mustangs Team Preview

94. Bowling Green
Dave Clawson’s first season at Bowling Green, in 2009, produced a 7–6 record and a spot in the Humanitarian Bowl. Since then, however, the Falcons are 7–17. “We’ve played a lot of young guys the past couple of seasons, and they gained some very valuable experience,” Clawson says. “Now that they have been through it and seen what playing at game speed at the college level is all about, we expect good things from them. Assuming that quarterback Matt Schilz remains healthy, the offense should have little trouble putting points on the board. If the defense, which brings back nine starters, can simply pull its weight, then the Falcons should be in position to battle Ohio for supremacy in the MAC East. 

Read the full 2012 Bowling Green Falcons Team Preview

95. San Diego State
San Diego State has failed to win a conference title in its 13 seasons in the Mountain West and won’t be expected to do so this fall in its final campaign before moving to the Big East. The goal this season is to play in a bowl game for the third straight year, something that has never happened during the program’s 43 seasons in the Division I ranks. For that to occur, Ryan Katz will have to play well at quarterback, Adam Muema must emerge as threat at tailback, and the defense will have find some able replacements in some key spots. 

Read the full 2012 San Diego State Aztecs Team Preview

96. Army
Keeping Trent Steelman healthy is of paramount importance, but Rich Ellerson has placed much emphasis on finding the right parts for the defensive line and improving the play on special teams. “If we stay healthy, then physically we will be more competitive because we have matured with guys getting older and stronger,” says the coach. “It will be all for naught, however, if we don’t have other fundamental issues resolved.” If those things are resolved, the Black Knights could be back in the bowl picture, especially with a schedule that features seven games at Michie Stadium.

Read the full 2012 Army Black Knights Team Preview

97. Kent State
Kent State has had three consecutive 5–7 seasons, but the 2012 edition of the Golden Flashes could be the team to break through and record the school’s first winning record since 2001. Darrell Hazell is a coach on the rise and has brought a winning mentality with him from Ohio State. The offense should be improved, thanks in large part to the running attack that will feature both Trayion Durham and Dri Archer. And an improved ground game will no doubt help Keith and/or Fisher be more productive throwing the ball down the field. The defense, led by Roosevelt Nix, will once again be stout. Ohio is the team to beat in the MAC East, but Kent State is in that next tier of teams that could put some pressure on the Bobcats. A winning league record is a reasonable goal. 

Read the full 2012 Kent State Golden Flashes Team Preview

98. San Jose State
Mike MacIntyre signed a well-deserved contract extension through 2017 after leading the Spartans to a respectable 5–7 finish, a four-win improvement over 2010 that included road wins at Colorado State and Fresno State and a home win over Navy. The Spartans lost three other games by a field goal or less. With a solid nucleus returning that includes four starters who earned all-conference recognition a year ago and a much more favorable schedule in the revamped WAC, look for the Spartans to make a strong run at bowl-eligibility this year. 

Read the full 2012 San Jose State Spartans Team Preview

99. Miami (Ohio)
Don Treadwell, the former Michigan State offensive coordinator who briefly served as the Spartans’ head coach when Mark Dantonio had a heart attack, is counting on a large group of seniors not only to lend experience on the field, but also to school the younger RedHawks in the Miami tradition, of which he is very fond. It won’t make a difference if Miami can’t put together some type of sustained rushing attack that would give Zac Dysert some much-needed space and limit the number of minutes the defense has to spend on the field. The RedHawks defense will face enough punishment in their opener at Ohio State in what will be Urban Meyer’s ballyhooed debut as the Buckeyes’ coach. Visits to Boise State and Cincinnati won’t be helpful going into the meat of Miami’s MAC schedule.

Read the full 2012 Miami (Ohio) RedHawks Team Preview

100. Louisiana-Monroe
Hampered by cuts to scholarships and practice time due to previous academic penalties, ULM struggled to get over the hump in Todd Berry’s first two seasons. Now with those penalties in the past, the Warhawks hope to contend. There’s plenty of youth on the roster, but now ULM has a full allotment of scholarships. That should help with depth, but the Warhawks still might be another year away from their first bowl trip. “We had high expectations last season, but we couldn’t overcome injuries,” Berry says. “We still need to be healthy, but we have a deeper team now, and we have a chip on our shoulder because of some close games we lost last year. We had to bite the bullet with scholarships in the past, but we’ve got the team we want now.” Early momentum will be hard to come by with trips to Arkansas and Auburn to start the season and only one home game in the first five weeks.

Read the full 2012 Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks Team Preview

Related College Football Content

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Athlon's College Football 2012 Rankings: No. 36-45
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A
thlon's College Football 2012 Rankings: No. 61-80

Teaser:
<p> College football preseason rankings: No. 81-100</p>
Post date: Tuesday, June 12, 2012 - 05:19
Path: /college-football/college-fantasy-football-2012-running-back-rankings
Body:

Fall college fantasy football drafts are right around the corner and Athlon is here to help win your league in 2012. Rankings will be updated right up until kickoff and expect plenty of tweaks to over the next couple of months.

Scoring system rankings based upon -

1 passing touchdown = 4 points
Rushing/receiving = 6 points
25 passing yards = 1 point
10 rushing/receiving yards = 1 point
1 reception = 0.5 points
1 fumble = -1 point
1 interception = - 1 point

Related College Fantasy Football Content

College Fantasy Football: 2012 Top 200
College Fantasy Football: 2012 Quarterback Rankings
College Fantasy Football: 2012 Wide Receiver Rankings
College Fantasy Football: 2012 Tight End Rankings
College Fantasy Football: 2012 Kicker Rankings
College Fantasy Football: 2012 Team Defense Rankings

Updated: August 12

Rankings Player Team
1 Montee Ball Wisconsin
2 Joseph Randle Oklahoma State
3 Robbie Rouse Fresno State
4 Kenjon Barner Oregon
5 Marcus Lattimore South Carolina
6 Branden Oliver Buffalo
7 De\'Anthony Thomas Oregon
8 Rex Burkhead Nebraska
9 Giovani Bernard North Carolina
10 Zach Line SMU
11 Knile Davis Arkansas
12 Le'Veon Bell Michigan State
13 Eddie Lacy Alabama
14 D.J. Harper Boise State
15 Charles Sims Houston
16 Stepfan Taylor Stanford
17 Ray Graham Pittsburgh
18 John White Utah
19 Andre Ellington Clemson
20 Orleans Darkwa Tulane
21 Zac Stacy Vanderbilt
22 Cameron Marshall Arizona State
23 Chris Nwoke Colorado State
24 Cierre Wood Notre Dame
25 David Fluellen Toledo
26 Silas Redd USC
27 Isi Sofele California
28 Lyle McCombs Connecticut
29 Michael Holmes Virginia Tech
30 Perry Jones Virginia
31 Ka'Deem Carey Arizona
32 Kedrick Rhodes FIU
33 Fitzgerald Toussaint Michigan
34 Onterio McCalebb Auburn
35 Kerwynn Williams Utah State
36 Stefphon Jefferson Nevada
37 Christine Michael Texas A&M
38 Jawon Chisholm Akron
39 Malcolm Brown Texas
40 Jawan Jamison Rutgers
41 Johnathan Franklin UCLA
42 Hunter Lee Louisiana Tech
43 Dominique Whaley Oklahoma
44 Lache Seastrunk Baylor
45 Jyruss Edwards ULM
46 Jahwan Edwards Ball State
47 Carlos Hyde Ohio State
48 Montel Harris Temple
49 Matt Brown Temple
50 Alonzo Harris UL Lafayette
51 Jesse Callier Washington
52 Mike James Miami, Fla.
53 Brandin Byrd North Texas
54 Orwin Smith Georgia Tech
55 Antonio Andrews Western Kentucky
56 Ja'Terian Douglas Tulsa
57 Devonta Freeman Florida State
58 Anthon Samuel Bowling Green
59 Spencer Ware LSU
60 Michael Ford LSU
61 Matthew Tucker TCU
62 Demetris Murray South Florida
63 Kevin Parks Virginia
64 Keith Marshall Georgia
65 David Oku Arkansas State
66 John Hubert Kansas State
67 Latavius Murray UCF
68 Malcolm Agnew Oregon State
69 Curtis McNeal USC
70 Jarred Salubi Baylor
71 James Washington NC State
72 Joe Bergeron Texas
73 Stephen Houston Indiana
74 Mike Gillislee Florida
75 James White Wisconsin
76 Jordan Hall Ohio State
77 Kendial Lawrence Missouri
78 Waymon James TCU
79 Tony Jones Colorado
80 LaDarius Perkins Mississippi State

Teaser:
<p> College fantasy football: 2012 running back rankings.</p>
Post date: Tuesday, June 12, 2012 - 03:38
Path: /nascar/joey-logano-wins-pocono
Body:

Of all the race tracks to add a little spice to the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup season, Pocono Raceway was not expected to be it. A 2.5-mile, flat tri-oval that’s seen its share of strung-out racing, the speedway was also recently repaved — a move that doesn’t lend itself to door-banging action.

Sometimes, though, the racing gods smile on the fans when and where they least expect it.

After a bizarre first half of the race that saw numerous drivers get penalized for speeding on pit road and an event that appeared to be heading toward a fuel-mileage finish, a driver looking to break a 104-race winless skid used a bump-and-run move to get by a respected series veteran. And for the driver in question, a fuel-mileage win was the last thing he wanted.

Joey Logano, his future with the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing team highly-speculated, used the ol’ “chrome horn” to scoot by Mark Martin with four laps remaining in the Pocono 400 to earn his second career Sprint Cup Series win in his fourth season on the circuit.

“You work so hard to do this, and them (JGR) teaming me up with Jason (Ratcliff, crew chief) has been an awesome experience,” Logano said. “We’ve been growing together a lot lately and able to make our cars better. To get a victory, it meant so much, and pulling the Home Depot car into Victory Lane at a Sprint Cup race and winning it the right way was just an amazing, amazing feeling that you can’t replicate and you can’t explain what it means.”

Logano’s only other win came at New Hampshire in his rookie season of 2009, the result of a rain-shortened finished that saw his team gamble on staying out while others pitted. It paid off, as Logano, at 19-years-old, became the youngest winner in Cup Series history. The Pocono win, in contrast, was won not on strategy or weather, but on speed and pure racing.

“That feels awesome to win one the right way,” Logano yelled on his in-car radio as he took the checkered flag. “No stupid rain!”

Martin held on for second, while Tony Stewart, Jimmie Johnson and Denny Hamlin rounded out the top 5.

“It’s not how I would have done it,” Martin said of Logano’s bump-and-run move to get by. “But certainly if I’d have had a fast enough car, he would have gotten a return. But I couldn’t quite keep up with him.”

Logano’s move came after a restart with eight laps remaining. Martin, who restarted second, got by Logano and was pulling away. However, Martin’s Toyota wiggled in Turn 3 with five laps to go. The loss in momentum allowed Logano to close the gap down the 3,740-foot frontstretch, and as the two entered Turn 1, Logano nudged the rear bumper of Martin’s car. He sailed by on the low side and quickly scooted away, winning by nearly one second.

Fuel became a concern late in the going. When Kasey Kahne brought out a caution with 22 laps remaining, Dale Earnhardt Jr., who had led 36 laps and was running third, pitted to top off the tank in his No. 88 Chevy.

However, fuel never factored, as an additional yellow for debris waved with 11 laps to go. The drivers that did not pit earlier — namely Logano, Martin, Stewart, Johnson and Hamlin — were able to conserve enough gas under the caution periods to make it to the finish without incident. Earnhardt settled for an eighth-place showing.

Points leader Greg Biffle limped to a 24th-place run after engine issues ruined his day. He surrendered the championship points lead for the first time since gaining the spot after the third race of the year.

Biffle’s teammate, Matt Kenseth, inherits the lead on the strength of a seventh-place finish at Pocono. Earnhardt sits 10 points back, while Biffle falls to third.


by Matt Taliaferro
Follow Matt on Twitter:
@MattTaliaferro

Teaser:
<p> Joey Logano got by Mark Martin to win his first race of the season in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Pocono 400.</p>
Post date: Monday, June 11, 2012 - 13:46
Path: /college-football/aj-mccarron-vs-tyrann-mathieu-twitter-war
Body:

As if the LSU-Alabama college football rivalry needed any more fuel. 

Monday brought the next chapter in the Bayou Bengals-Crimson Tide SEC epic narrative. Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron and LSU's Heisman finalist Tyrann Mathieu not only went head-to-head twice last year on the field, with McCarron getting the last laugh, but the two stars have moved their duel to cyberspace. 

The two Athlon Sports coverboys started running their yaps on twitter. To quote McCarron, "this should fuel everything and more now."

It was highly entertaining — unless your name happens to be Saban or Miles, of course. In fact, it looks like someone in both athletic departments got to the two stars to shut them up before it got too out of hand. They both ended the conversation about the same time.

Here is how it all went down:

 

 

 


 

A.J. immediately countered...

 

 

 


 

Honey Badger decided to tell the BCS MVP that it wasn't him who won the title...

 

 

 


 

 

And McCarron was happy to agree...

 

 

 


 

 

Mathieu is clearly ready for November 3...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just called you to the mat Honey Badger. Did you hear him?

 

 


 

 

Alabama wideout Kenny Bell had no problem jumping into the mix...

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

McCarron got the final word — as the defending National Championship Game MVP should:

 

 

 

 


Anyone else excited about Death Valley, November 3, 2012?

-by Braden Gall

@bradengall

Teaser:
<p> A.J. McCarron vs. Tryann Mathieu: Twitter War</p>
Post date: Monday, June 11, 2012 - 13:45
Path: /mlb/baseball%E2%80%99s-players-week-trout-pettitte-kubel-dempster
Body:

 

Each week Athlon Sports looks back at the previous week's best baseball players in the American and National leagues, and recaps the most outstanding pitching performances. Here are last week's—June 4-10—standouts.

 

AL Player of the Week

Mike Trout, Los Angeles—Following teammate Mark Trumbo, who received this honor last week, Trout posted a .520 batting average for the week, leading the American League with 13 hits and 10 runs, which tied teammate Torii Hunter. The 20-year-old outfielder began the week with a 4-for-4 performance against Seattle and ended with eight hits and eight runs in the Angels’ three-game sweep at Colorado.

 

AL Pitcher of the Week

Andy Pettitte, New York—The Yankees thought Pettitte could help the team by logging quality innings and mentoring young pitchers along the way. However, the veteran, who will turn 40 on June 15, has been one of the team’s best starting pitchers since signing earlier this season. Last week the lefthander threw 7.1 shutout innings in a win over the first-place Rays, and he turned in six innings in a win over the crosstown Mets.

 

NL Player of the Week

Jason Kubel, Arizona—Kubel was signed over the winter to bring offense to a suspect lineup, and the leftfielder hasn’t disappointed. Last week Kubel batted .409 and slugged .818 with two home runs. He had 12 RBIs, all coming over a four-game stretch, which included a weekend sweep of the Oakland A’s. Kubel had three RBIs in the Diamondbacks’ one-run win on Friday and added two more in the one-run win on Sunday.

 

NL Pitcher of the Week

Ryan Dempster, Chicago—After a string of 18 consecutive starts without a win (dating to last August), Dempster finally broke through with two wins last week. The Cubs’ righthander tossed 15 shutout innings in his two starts, beating the Brewers on three hits over seven innings and the Twins on four hits and a walk over eight innings. He struck out nine and allowed just eight baserunners en route to posting a 0.53 WHIP and 0.00 ERA.

Teaser:
<p> Athlon Sports looks back at the previous week's best baseball players.</p>
Post date: Monday, June 11, 2012 - 13:37
All taxonomy terms: MLB
Path: /mlb/2012-major-league-baseball-power-rankings-june-11
Body:

Each week during the season Athlon Sports looks at the best and worst baseball teams in the league. Here's our MLB Power Rankings for June 11, 2012.

 1. Dodgers—Won last six games in which they have at least one hit.

 2. Rangers—Won only three of last 10 vs. AL West.

 3. Rays—Convincing sweep over the Marlins.

 4. Nationals—Waltzed out of Fenway with a sweep.

 5. Yankees—May be old, but still team to beat in AL East.

 6. Orioles—Lost 12 of last 19 with three wins in extra innings.

 7. Braves—Followed eight-game losing streak by winning eight of nine.

 8. Reds—Chapman finally appears human in loss to Tigers.

 9. Marlins—Streaky Fish back on the skids.

10. Angels—Only one loss since May 18 by more than two runs.

11. Giants—What’s wrong with Tim Lincecum?

12. White Sox—Paul Konerko making case for MVP.

13. Mets—Lost six of seven since Cardinals left town.

14. Blue Jays—Jose Bautista beginning to heat up a bit.

15. Pirates—Ended the week tied for first place.

16. Diamondbacks—Making a charge to defend their title.

17. Indians—Brash Chris Perez keeps saving games.

18. Cardinals—Redbirds need starting pitching and bullpen help.

19. Red Sox—Lost six of seven.

20. Phillies—Dropped two nail-biters at Baltimore over the weekend.

21. Tigers—Ended the weekend at Cincinnati on high note.

22. Brewers—Road trip to Kansas City and Minnesota this week.

23. Mariners—No-hit the best team in the National League.

24. Royals—Still bullish on future, but present not too bright.

25. Twins—Won nine of 12, won 15 of 17 in June 2011.

26. Astros—Won four of Lucas Harrell’s last five starts.

27. Rockies—Outscored by 27 over last five games — all losses.

28. A’s—Lost 14 of 18, now facing NL West.

29. Padres—One positive: Closer Huston Street is back and healthy.

30. Cubs—On pace to lose 108.

By Charlie Miller  @AthlonCharlie

Teaser:
<p> A look at the best and worst baseball teams in the league.</p>
Post date: Monday, June 11, 2012 - 13:04
All taxonomy terms: College World Series, News
Path: /news/stony-brook-beats-lsu-advance-college-world-series
Body:

The little school — only playing Division I baseball since 2000 — from Long Island traveling to meet the six-time national champion program from the SEC. An easy prediction, right? Not this time, as the slipper fit perfectly for the Stony Brook Seawolves in topping powerhouse LSU. Matt Senk’s club took out the heavily-favored Tigers in the super regionals and will now advance to the College World Series in Omaha. Stony Brook’s attendance was 5,800 for the year, while LSU averages over 10,000 per game. However, the Seawolves were unaffected by the massive crowd in Baton Rouge and took two of three from the Tigers.

The signs have been there all season that Stony Brook had a special team, but no one was expecting the America East champions to flourish against SEC and ACC foes. The Seawolves finished the regular season at 52-13, with all nine regulars batting above .296. The team average for the year was a staggering .335, while the pitching staff’s ERA was an impressive 2.99. Leadoff hitter Travis Jankowski was the 44th overall pick by the Padres in the MLB Draft after hitting .422 with 36 steals. Third baseman Willie Carmona, a Phillies draftee, supplied the power with 12 home runs and 72 RBIS. Ace Tyler Johnson, an Oakland A’s pick, led the squad with a 12-1 record and a 1.94 ERA.

After winning three straight elimination games in the Miami regional, Stony Brook lost a painful Game 1 to LSU after repeatedly giving up late leads. But the Seawolves pitching would stifle the Tigers bats in Games 2 and 3, and now Senk’s club will be the talk of the town in Omaha. Stony Brook may have the goods to win the College World Series in what would be one of the better underdog stories that collegiate sports has ever seen.
 

Teaser:
<p> Stony Brook Beats LSU to Advance to the College World Series</p>
Post date: Monday, June 11, 2012 - 12:37
All taxonomy terms: Jack Nicklaus, Rory McIlroy, Tiger Woods, Golf
Path: /golf/us-open-past-champions-0
Body:

U.S. Open champions
1895 Horace Rawlins (173), Newport Country Club, Newport, Rhode Island
1896 James Foulis (152, +12), Shinnecock Hills, Shinnecock Hills, New York
1897 Joe Lloyd (162, +10), Chicago Golf Club, Wheaton, Illinois
1898 Fred Herd (328), Myopia Hunt Club, South Hamilton, Massachusetts 
1899 Willie Smith (315), Baltimore Country Club, Lutherville, Maryland
1900 Harry Vardon (313, +9), Chicago Golf Club, Wheaton, Illinois 
1901 Willie Anderson (331), Myopia Hunt Club, South Hamilton, Massachusetts
1902 Laurie Auchterlonie (307), Garden City Golf Club Garden City, New York
1903 Willie Anderson (307), Baltusrol Golf Club, Springfield, New Jersey
1904 Willie Anderson (303), Glen View Club, Golf, Illinois
1905 Willie Anderson (314), Myopia Hunt Club, South Hamilton, Massachusetts
1906 Alex Smith (295), Onwentsia Club, Lake Forest, Illinois
1907 Alec Ross (302, +10), Philadelphia Cricket Club, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
1908 Fred McLeod (322), Myopia Hunt Club, South Hamilton, Massachusetts
1909 George Sargent (290, +2), Englewood Golf Club, Englewood, New Jersey
1910 Alex Smith (298, +6), Philadelphia Cricket Club, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
1911 John McDermott (307, +3), Chicago Golf Club, Wheaton, Illinois
1912 John McDermott (294, -2), Country Club of Buffalo, Buffalo, New York
1913 Francis Ouimet (304, +8), The Country Club, Brookline, Massachusetts 
1914 Walter Hagen (290, +2), Midlothian Country Club, Midlothian, Illinois 
1915 Jerome Travers (297, +1), Baltusrol Golf Club, Springfield, New Jersey
1916 Chick Evans (286, +2), The Minikahda Club, Minneapolis, Minnesota
1917 No tournament 
1918 No tournament
1919 Walter Hagen (301, +17), Brae Burn Country Club, West Newton, Massachusetts
1920 Ted Ray (295, +7), Inverness Club, Toledo, Ohio
1921 Jim Barnes (289, +9), Columbia Country Club, Chevy Chase, Maryland
1922 Gene Sarazen (288, +8), Skokie Country Club, Glencoe, Illinois
1923 Bobby Jones (296, +8), Inwood Country Club, Inwood, New York
1924 Cyril Walker (297, +9), Oakland Hills, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan
1925 Willie Macfarlane (291, +7), Worcester Country Club, Worcester, Massachusetts
1926 Bobby Jones (293, +5), Scioto Country Club, Columbus, Ohio
1927 Tommy Armour (301, +13), Oakmont Country Club, Oakmont, Pennsylvania
1928 Johnny Farrell (294, +10), Olympia Fields, Olympia Fields, Illinois
1929 Bobby Jones (294, +6), Winged Foot Golf Club, Mamaroneck, New York
1930 Bobby Jones (287, +6), Interlachen Country Club, Edina, Minnesota
1931 Billy Burke (292, +8), Inverness Club, Toledo, Ohio
1932 Gene Sarazen (286, +6), Fresh Meadow Country Club, Great Neck, New York
1933 Johnny Goodman (287, -1), North Shore Country Club, Glenview, Illinois
1934 Olin Dutra (293, +13), Merion Golf Club, Ardmore, Pennsylvania
1935 Sam Parks, Jr. (299, +11), Oakmont Country Club, Oakmont, Pennsylvania
1936 Tony Manero (282, -6), Baltusrol Golf Club, Springfield, New Jersey
1937 Ralph Guldahl (281, -7), Oakland Hills, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan
1938 Ralph Guldahl (284, E), Cherry Hills, Cherry Hills Village, Colorado
1939 Byron Nelson (284, +8), Philadelphia Country Club, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
1940 Lawson Little (287, -1), Canterbury Golf Club, Beachwood, Ohio
1941 Craig Wood (284, +4), Colonial Country Club, Fort Worth, Texas
1942 No tournament
1943 No tournament
1944 No tournament
1945 No tournament
1946 Lloyd Mangrum (284, -4), Canterbury Golf Club, Beachwood, Ohio
1947 Lew Worsham (282, -2), St Louis Country Club, Saint Louis, Missouri
1948 Ben Hogan (276, -8), Riviera Country Club, Pacific Palisades, California
1949 Cary Middlecoff (286, +2), Medinah Country Club, Medinah, Illinois
1950 Ben Hogan (287, +7), Merion Golf Club, Ardmore, Pennsylvania
1951 Ben Hogan (287, +7), Oakland Hills, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan
1952 Julius Boros (281, +1), Northwood Club, Dallas, Texas
1953 Ben Hogan (283, -5), Oakmont Country Club, Oakmont, Pennsylvania
1954 Ed Furgol (284, +4), Baltusrol Golf Club, Springfield, New Jersey
1955 Jack Fleck (287, +7), Olympic Club, San Francisco, California
1956 Cary Middlecoff (281, +1), Oak Hill Country, Club Rochester, New York
1957 Dick Mayer (282, +5), Inverness Club, Toledo, Ohio
1958 Tommy Bolt (283, +3), Southern Hills, Tulsa, Oklahoma
1959 Billy Casper (282, +2), Winged Foot Golf Club, Mamaroneck, New York 
1960 Arnold Palmer (280, -4), Cherry Hills, Cherry Hills Village, Colorado
1961 Gene Littler (281, +1), Oakland Hills, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan
1962 Jack Nicklaus (283, -1), Oakmont Country Club, Oakmont, Pennsylvania
1963 Julius Boros (293, +9), The Country Club, Brookline, Massachusetts
1964 Ken Venturi (278, -2), Congressional Country Club, Bethesda, Maryland
1965 Gary Player (282, +2), Bellerive Country Club, Saint Louis, Missouri 
1966 Billy Casper (278, -2), Olympic Club, San Francisco, California 
1967 Jack Nicklaus (275, -5), Baltusrol Golf Club, Springfield, New Jersey
1968 Lee Trevino (275, -5), Oak Hill Country Club, Rochester, New York
1969 Orville Moody (281, +1), Champions Golf Club, Houston, Texas
1970 Tony Jacklin (281, -7), Hazeltine National Golf Club, Chaska, Minnesota
1971 Lee Trevino (280, E), Merion Golf Club, Ardmore, Pennsylvania
1972 Jack Nicklaus (290, +2), Pebble Beach Golf Links, Pebble Beach, California
1973 Johnny Miller (279, -5), Oakmont Country Club, Oakmont, Pennsylvania
1974 Hale Irwin (287, +7), Winged Foot Golf Club, Mamaroneck, New York
1975 Lou Graham (287, +3), Medinah Country Club, Medinah, Illinois
1976 Jerry Pate (277, -3), Atlanta Athletic Club, Duluth, Georgia
1977 Hubert Green (278, -2), Southern Hills, Tulsa, Oklahoma 
1978 Andy North (285, +1), Cherry Hills, Cherry Hills Village, Colorado
1979 Hale Irwin (284, E), Inverness Club, Toledo, Ohio
1980 Jack Nicklaus (272, -8), Baltusrol Golf Club, Springfield, New Jersey
1981 David Graham (273, -7), Merion Golf Club, Ardmore, Pennsylvania
1982 Tom Watson (282, -6), Pebble Beach Golf Links, Pebble Beach, California
1983 Larry Nelson (280, -4), Oakmont Country Club, Oakmont, Pennsylvania
1984 Fuzzy Zoeller (276, -4), Winged Foot Golf Club, Mamaroneck, New York
1985 Andy North (279, -1), Oakland Hills, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan 
1986 Raymond Floyd (279, -1), Shinnecock Hills, Shinnecock Hills, New York
1987 Scott Simpson (277, -3), Olympic Club, San Francisco, California
1988 Curtis Strange (278, -6), The Country Club, Brookline, Massachusetts
1989 Curtis Strange (278, -2), Oak Hill Country Club, Rochester, New York
1990 Hale Irwin (280, -8), Medinah Country Club, Medinah, Illinois
1991 Payne Stewart (282, -6), Hazeltine National Golf Club, Chaska, Minnesota
1992 Tom Kite (285, -3), Pebble Beach Golf Links, Pebble Beach, California
1993 Lee Janzen (272, -8), Baltusrol Golf Club, Springfield, New Jersey
1994 Ernie Els (279, -5), Oakmont Country Club, Oakmont, Pennsylvania
1995 Corey Pavin (280, E), Shinnecock Hills, Shinnecock Hills, New York
1996 Steve Jones (278, -2), Oakland Hills, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan
1997 Ernie Els (276, -4), Congressional Country Club, Bethesda, Maryland
1998 Lee Janzen (280, E), Olympic Club, San Francisco, California
1999 Payne Stewart (279, -1), Pinehurst Resort, Pinehurst, North Carolina
2000 Tiger Woods (272, -12), Pebble Beach Golf Links, Pebble Beach, California
2001 Retief Goosen (276, -4), Southern Hills, Tulsa, Oklahoma
2002 Tiger Woods (277, -3), Bethpage State Park. Farmingdale, New York
2003 Jim Furyk (272, -8), Olympia Fields, Olympia Fields, Illinois
2004 Retief Goosen (276, -4), Shinnecock Hills, Shinnecock Hills, New York
2005 Michael Campbell (280, E), Pinehurst Resort, Pinehurst, North Carolina
2006 Geoff Ogilvy (285, +5), Winged Foot Golf Club, Mamaroneck, New York
2007 Ángel Cabrera (285, +5), Oakmont Country Club, Oakmont, Pennsylvania
2008 Tiger Woods (283, -1), Torrey Pines, San Diego, California
2009 Lucas Glover (276, -4), Bethpage State Park, Farmingdale, New York
2010 Graeme McDowell (284, E), Pebble Beach Golf Links, Pebble Beach, California
2011 Rory McIlroy (268, -16), Congressional Country Club, Bethesda, Maryland

Teaser:
Post date: Monday, June 11, 2012 - 12:00
All taxonomy terms: Bill Murray, MLB, Overtime
Path: /mlb/bill-murray-entertains-fans-during-minor-league-rain-delay-video
Body:

Comedian Bill Murray was spotted at a minor league game in Charleston, S.C., on Sunday. During a long rain delay Murray took to the field of the Charleston RiverDogs (he's part-owner of the team) and had some fun entertaining the crowd. Fans of the RiverDogs, a Class-A affiliate of the Yankees, seem to approve.

Teaser:
Post date: Monday, June 11, 2012 - 11:06
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy, waiver wire, MLB, Fantasy
Path: /mlb/fantasy-baseball-bests-busts-and-waiver-wire-june-11
Body:

Stay tuned each week to Athlon Sports for a 2012 Fantasy Baseball Weekend Waiver Wire every Monday and a Weekend Rundown every Thursday.

Top 25 fantasy baseball hitters of last week (6/4-6/10):

  Name Team Pos. R HR RBI SB BA OPS
1. Torii Hunter* LAA OF 10 4 10 1 .500 1.605
2. Mike Trout LAA OF 10 0 4 4 .520 1.167
3. Alfonso Soriano* CHC OF 7 4 9 0 .357 1.257
4. Norichika Aoki* MIL OF 9 2 2 3 .375 1.214
5. Jason Kubel* ARI OF 6 2 12 0 .409 1.253
6. Mark Trumbo LAA 1/3/OF 5 4 12 0 .292 1.203
7. Dan Uggla ATL 2B 8 3 9 0 .316 1.342
8. Ben Revere* MIN OF 6 0 3 4 .458 1.022
9. Russell Martin* NYY C 4 4 8 0 .368 1.453
10. Neil Walker* PIT 2B 5 1 6 3 .360 .905
11. Colby Rasmus* TOR OF 7 2 7 0 .379 1.055
12. Allen Craig STL 1/2/OF 7 2 7 0 .357 .990
13. Ben Zobrist TB 2B/OF 6 2 6 1 .348 1.053
14. Ryan Theriot* SF 2B/SS 3 0 6 4 .367 .839
15. Michael Bourn ATL OF 5 1 4 1 .500 1.305
16. Albert Pujols LAA 1B 7 1 7 0 .400 1.174
17. Tyler Colvin* COL OF 4 3 5 0 .600 2.236
18. Scott Hairston* NYM OF 5 2 3 2 .400 1.338
19. Paul Goldschmidt ARI 1B 4 2 5 1 .421 1.395
20. Robinson Cano NYY 2B 4 3 5 0 .409 1.299
21. Seth Smith* OAK OF 3 1 5 1 .550 1.491
22. Jose Altuve HOU 2B 6 1 4 1 .407 1.096
23. Jason Heyward ATL OF 6 2 4 1 .333 1.078
24. Trevor Plouffe* MIN 2/3/SS/OF 5 3 6 0 .304 1.143
25. Jason Kipnis CLE 2B 5 1 5 2 .320 .913

* - less than 70% owned in Yahoo! leagues

Summer Farm Waiver Wire Adds

Trevor Bauer's name is widely known as the former UCLA Bruin who will be in Arizona sometime very soon. But there are plenty of other names who could be contributing to your fantasy club in a matter of weeks — or days. Kansas City catcher-turned-outfielder Wil Myers has been crushing the ball —try 20 HRs in 225 at-bats at two levels to go along with a .342/.404/.724 line. He will help with your power numbers instantly and has "C" eligibility even though he will play in the outfield. Anthony Rizzo is back dominating the box score again. He now has 20 bombs with a .363 average in 215 at-bats at Triple-A Iowa. With Alfonso Soriano elevating his stock at the moment, the Cubs would be smart to move the inconsistent outfielder in order to get Rizzo to the Northside. Reds future shortstop Billy Hamilton is hitting .320 with 71 stolen bases in 60 games. No, that isn't a typo. If you need speed, keep a very sharpe eye on the Bakersfield prospect. Career .300 hitter Nolan Arenado could help Colorado today at third base and could help a shallow fantasy position once he is called up. Toronto catcher Travis D'Arnaud might be the hottest prospect in all of baseball — currently hitting .332 with 13 homers at Triple-A Las Vegas. He is also better defensively than J.P. Arencibia. Seattle parted with Michael Pineda so easily because of their pitching depth on the farm. Last year's first rounder, Danny Hultzen, has made 12 professional starts and already has little to prove at Doube-A Jackson. In 70.1 innings, he has a nasty 1.28 ERA, 0.92 WHIP and 75 strikeouts. The Padres' two-sacker Jedd Gyorko is close to making it to the show as well, as he is hitting .366 since being elevated to Triple-A. And the Fathers could use any offensive help they can get.

DL Watch

- The Braves have had weird issues with Freddie Freeman and Brian McCann of late, but Tim Hudson and Dan Uggla are the two to watch now. Both are dealing with an ankle issue. Hudson was scratched from his start on Sunday because of it and is now scheduled to take the mound on Wednesday against the Yankees. Uggla is questionable for tonight's series opener.

- BREAKING: Brian Roberts might be playing baseball this week! He is on Triple-A rehab assignment and could be back with the Orioles as early as Tuesday.

- Drew Stubbs is out until at least Tuesday with an oblique strain. Keep an eye on this one.

- Dayan Viciedo and Yoenis Cespedes both were swinging a hot stick until balky hamstrings brought them both to a screeching halt. Both have responded to treatment but they might not be ready to return just yet. Melky Cabrera is also dealing with his own hammy problem as he is questionable for Tuesday's game against Houston.

- Carlos Zambrano got rocked by the Rays his last time out and is now listed as questionable for his start on Friday — against the Rays.

- Nelson Cruz (Achilles) and Alexi Ogando (groin) are both questionable for their next starts — Tuesday against Arizona for Nellie and Saturday against Houston for Ogando.

Top 20 fantasy Starting Pitchers of last two weeks:

  Name Team IP W K ERA WHIP
1. Chris Sale CHW 24.1 3 30 1.11 0.66
2. R.A. Dickey NYM 16.1 2 17 0.00 0.80
3. Matt Harrison* TEX 23.2 3 12 1.90 0.80
4. Brandon Morrow TOR 15.1 2 13 0.59 0.65
5. Stephen Strasburg WAS 13.0 2 22 1.38 0.77
6. Clay Buchholz* BOS 17.0 2 13 1.06 0.76
7. Ian Kennedy ARI 13.2 2 19 0.66 0.95
8. Shaun Marcum MIL 19.2 3 23 2.29 1.12
9. Matt Cain SF 15.0 2 16 0.60 1.00
10. A.J. Burnett* PIT 19.1 3 17 2.33 1.03
11. Zack Greinke MIL 13.0 2 19 0.69 1.08
12. Drew Hutchison* TOR 20.1 2 21 2.66 0.98
13. David Price TB 12.1 2 13 0.73 1.05
14. Ryan Vogelsong* SF 21.2 2 14 1.66 1.06
15. James McDonald PIT 18.0 2 15 2.00 1.00
16. Chad Billingsly* LAD 20.0 2 19 2.70 1.00
17. Hiroki Kuroda* NYY 14.0 1 11 1.29 0.71
18. Francisco Liriano* MIN 17.2 1 23 2.55 0.96
19. C.J. Wilson LAA 14.0 1 14 0.64 1.00
20. Ubaldo Jimanez* CLE 13.2 1 11 1.32 0.80

* - less than 70% owned in Yahoo! leagues

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

1. Ryan Vogelsong, SF: at Seattle (Fri.)
Has been on a nasty tear the last two weeks: 2 W, 14 K, 1.66, 1.06

2. Jarrod Parker, OAK: San Diego (Fri.)
If you can handle a few walks, Parker should contribute nicely against the Fathers.

3. Andy Pettitte, NYY: at Washington (Sat.)
Has been AP of old: Nearly a K/IP and 4+ K/BB ratio. Will get wins if healthy.

4. Alex Cobb, TB: New York Mets (Tues.)
Held his own against steller offenses in four starts: NYY, BOS, CHW and ATL.

5. Hiroki Kuroda, NYY: at Atlanta (Wed.)
Posted tasty 14.0 IP, 2 W, 11 K, 1.29 ERA and 0.71 WHIP over last two weeks.

Top 20 fantasy Relief Pitchers of last month:

  Name Team IP W SV K HLD ERA WHIP
1. Joel Hanrahan PIT 13.1 2 11 14 0 1.35 0.90
2. Aroldis Chapman CIN 15.1 1 6 28 3 1.76 0.78
3. Tyler Clippard* WAS 13.1 0 8 16 3 0.68 0.60
4. Craig Kimbrel ATL 10.0 0 7 14 0 0.00 0.30
5. Kenley Jansen LAD 11.0 2 7 15 0 1.64 0.82
6. Ernesto Frieri* LAA 13.2 0 4 27 3 0.00 0.73
7. Fernando Rodney TB 13.0 0 9 12 0 1.38 0.77
8. Jim Johnson BAL 13.1 1 8 4 0 2.02 0.60
9. Chris Perez CLE 10.2 0 9 12 0 0.84 0.84
10. Santiago Casilla SF 13.0 1 10 11 1 1.38 1.31
11. Joe Nathan TEX 12.0 0 5 15 0 0.75 0.58
12. Jonathan Papelbon PHI 12.1 0 7 15 0 1.46 0.89
13. Sergio Romo* SF 9.0 1 3 15 5 1.00 0.44
14. Brayan Villarreal* DET 14.2 3 0 23 0 1.84 1.09
15. Tim Collins* KC 12.1 1 0 20 2 0.00 0.81
16. J.J. Putz ARI 10.0 1 7 10 0 1.80 1.10
17. Matt Capps* MIN 11.1 1 8 8 0 2.38 1.15
18. Charlie Furbush* SEA 12.0 0 0 14 1 0.75 0.25
19. Alfredo Aceves BOS 17.0 0 8 16 0 3.71 0.94
20. Jose Valverde DET 10.2 1 6 6 0 2.53 0.75

* - less than 70% owned in Yahoo! leagues

@bradengall

Teaser:
<p> Fantasy Baseball Bests, Busts and Waiver Wire: June 11</p>
Post date: Monday, June 11, 2012 - 09:54
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy Football mock draft, NFL, Fantasy
Path: /nfl/athlon-sports-2012-fantasy-football-may-mock-draft
Body:

Yes, the start of the NFL season is still about three months away, so what? It's never too early to do a fantasy football mock draft even if training camps don't open for another month and a half.

That said, my colleagues at Athlon Sports and our friend and fantasy contributor Matt Schauf of DraftSharks.com, got together in May for our first fantasy football mock draft. Plenty has happened off the field since this exercise was conducted, so please keep that in mind when perusing and grading our choices.

Below is a complete breakdown of the 10-team, 16-round mock we conducted, along with some thoughts of my own interspersed.

For those who are interested in a different style of mock draft, you can pick up a copy of this year's Fantasy Football Magazine, for which we did a 12-team, 20-round mock draft, which includes IDPs. Besides the mock draft, this year's fantasy magazine features 500 players ranked, a 280-player Big Board, 3,200 projected stats, position-by-position breakdowns, team-by-team analysis from NFL beat writers, and additional features and content.

10-team, 16-round serpentine-style mock draft based on Athlon Sports standard scoring:

OFFENSE
10 yards rushing = 1 pt
10 yards receiving = 1 pt
25 yards passing = 1 pt
6 pts for all TDs
0.5 pts per reception

KICKING
FGs 39 yds and under = 3 pts
FGs 40-49 yds = 4 pts
FGs 50-59 yds = 5 pts
60+ yds = 6 pts
PATs = 1 pt

DEFENSE
0 pts allowed = 12 pts
1-6 PA = 10 pts
7-13 PA = 8 pts
14-20 PA = 6 pts
21-27 PA = 2 pts
28+ PA = 0 pts
Safeties = 2 pts
Fumbles recovered = 2 pts
Interceptions = 2 pts
Sacks = 1 pt
DEF/ST TDs = 6 pts

Starting lineup: 1 QB, 2 RB, 3 WR, 1 TE, 1 Flex (RB/WR), 1 K, 1 DEF/ST, 6 bench spots

Click here to see each team's complete roster

Round 1
Pick Overall Player, Position, Team Drafter Affiliation
1 1 Aaron Rodgers, QB, GB Braden Gall Athlon Sports
2 2 Arian Foster, RB, HOU Matt Schauf DraftSharks.com
3 3 Chris Johnson, RB, TEN Nathan Rush Athlon Sports
4 4 LeSean McCoy, RB, PHI Steven Lassan Athlon Sports
5 5 Ray Rice, RB, BAL Mitch Light Athlon Sports
6 6 Calvin Johnson, WR, DET Corby Yarbrough Athlon Sports
7 7 Maurice Jones-Drew, RB, JAC Patrick Snow Athlon Sports
8 8 Tom Brady, QB, NE Charlie Miller Athlon Sports
9 9 Drew Brees, QB, NO Mark Ross Athlon Sports
10 10 Ryan Mathews, RB, SD Rob Doster Athlon Sports

Round 1 Analysis: Surprise! The reigning NFL MVP and top scorer in fantasy football (per Athlon's scoring) goes No. 1 overall. The days of the running back-centric fantasy teams seem to be over, as evidenced by the fact that three quarterbacks and one wide receiver go in the first round. Chris Johnson (no. 3) going before LeSean McCoy and Ray Rice may also seem like a bit of a surprise, but remember this is a guy who rushed for more than 2,000 yards just three seasons ago.

Round 2
Pick Overall Player, Position, Team Drafter Affiliation
1 11 Darren McFadden, RB, OAK Rob Doster Athlon Sports
2 12 Matt Forte, RB, CHI Mark Ross Athlon Sports
3 13 Frank Gore, RB, SF Charlie Miller Athlon Sports
4 14 Matthew Stafford, QB, DET Patrick Snow Athlon Sports
5 15 Marshawn Lynch, RB, SEA Corby Yarbrough Athlon Sports
6 16 Andre Johnson, WR, HOU Mitch Light Athlon Sports
7 17 Larry Fitzgerald, WR, ARI Steven Lassan Athlon Sports
8 18 Adrian Peterson, RB, MIN Nathan Rush Athlon Sports
9 19 Jimmy Graham, TE, NO Matt Schauf DraftSharks.com
10 20 Michael Turner, RB, ATL Braden Gall Athlon Sports

Round 2 Analysis: Rob and Nathan are the only two to go running back-running back with their first two selections as another quarterback, two more wide receivers and the first tight end go off of the board in the second round. The four owners who didn't take a running back with their first pick do so this time around. Adrian Peterson will be an interesting name to watch as the summer plays out and the season gets closer. The Vikings' star is said to be progressing nicely in his rehab from the torn ACL he suffered in Week 16 last season. Whether or not he's ready to go come Week 1 and what to expect from AP from a fantasy standpoint are two entirely different questions, but one thing seems clear — if there's any year to get the All-Pro at reduced value, this is probably it.

Round 3
Pick Overall Player, Position, Team Drafter Affiliation
1 21 Jamaal Charles, RB, KC Braden Gall Athlon Sports
2 22 Wes Welker, WR, NE Matt Schauf DraftSharks.com
3 23 Cam Newton, QB, CAR Nathan Rush Athlon Sports
4 24 Steven Jackson, RB, STL Steven Lassan Athlon Sports
5 25 Rob Gronkowski, TE, NE Mitch Light Athlon Sports
6 26 Trent Richardson, RB, CLE Corby Yarbrough Athlon Sports
7 27 DeMarco Murray, RB, DAL Patrick Snow Athlon Sports
8 28 A.J. Green, WR, CIN Charlie Miller Athlon Sports
9 29 Roddy White, WR, ATL Mark Ross Athlon Sports
10 30 Hakeem Nicks, WR, NYG Rob Doster Athlon Sports

Round 3 Analysis: Four other teams take a second running back in this round, incuding Corby going with Cleveland rookie Trent Richardson to pair with Seattle's Marshawn Lynch. While Richardson will more than likely be the first rookie to be taken in most fantasy drafts, one caveat in regards to taking him to soon in a non-keeper league: in the last 10 seasons only 12 rookies have rushed for more than 1,000 yards in their first season and only three have scored more than 10 touchdowns on the ground. If you take Richardson in the early rounds, you better hope you get something similar to that of Adrian Peterson's 2007 rookie campaign (1,341 rushing yards, 12 rushing TDs) rather than Darren McFadden's in 2008 (499, 4).

Round 4
Pick Overall Player, Position, Team Drafter Affiliation
1 31 Antonio Gates, TE, SD Rob Doster Athlon Sports
2 32 Fred Jackson, RB, BUF Mark Ross Athlon Sports
3 33 Mike Wallace, WR, PIT Charlie Miller Athlon Sports
4 34 Victor Cruz, WR, NYG Patrick Snow Athlon Sports
5 35 Greg Jennings, WR, GB Corby Yarbrough Athlon Sports
6 36 Marques Colston, WR, NO Mitch Light Athlon Sports
7 37 Jordy Nelson, WR, GB Steven Lassan Athlon Sports
8 38 Brandon Marshall, WR, CHI Nathan Rush Athlon Sports
9 39 Julio Jones, WR, ATL Matt Schauf DraftSharks.com
10 40 Jeremy Maclin, WR, PHI Braden Gall Athlon Sports

Round 4 Analysis: Wide receivers were taken wth all but two picks in the fourth round, leaving three teams with just one running back by the end of this round. Green Bay teammates Greg Jennings and Jordy Nelson go in a span of three picks, with Jennings going first even though Nelson out-scored him by nearly 70 fantasy points last season.

Round 5
Pick Overall Player, Position, Team Drafter Affiliation
1 41 Dez Bryant, WR, DAL Braden Gall Athlon Sports
2 42 Roy Helu, RB, WAS Matt Schauf DraftSharks.com
3 43 Steve Smith, WR, CAR Nathan Rush Athlon Sports
4 44 Ahmad Bradshaw, RB, NYG Steven Lassan Athlon Sports
5 45 Shonn Greene, RB, NYJ Mitch Light Athlon Sports
6 46 Darren Sproles, RB, NO Corby Yarbrough Athlon Sports
7 47 Dwayne Bowe, WR, KC Patrick Snow Athlon Sports
8 48 Willis McGahee, RB, DEN Charlie Miller Athlon Sports
9 49 Miles Austin, WR, DAL Mark Ross Athlon Sports
10 50 Eli Manning, QB, NYG Rob Doster Athlon Sports

Round 5 Analysis: Dallas' duo of Dez Bryant and Miles Austin go in Round 5 with Bryant taken with the first pick and Austin following eight picks later. At the end of Round 5 every team has at least two running backs on their roster, while Steven and Corby each have three.

Round 6
Pick Overall Player, Position, Team Drafter Affiliation
1 51 Percy Harvin, WR, MIN Rob Doster Athlon Sports
2 52 Vincent Jackson, WR, TB Mark Ross Athlon Sports
3 53 DeSean Jackson, WR, PHI Charlie Miller Athlon Sports
4 54 Reggie Bush, RB, MIA Patrick Snow Athlon Sports
5 55 Kenny Britt, WR, TEN Corby Yarbrough Athlon Sports
6 56 Brandon Lloyd, WR, NE Mitch Light Athlon Sports
7 57 Antonio Brown, WR, PIT Steven Lassan Athlon Sports
8 58 Reggie Wayne, WR, IND Nathan Rush Athlon Sports
9 59 Stevie Johnson, WR, BUF Matt Schauf DraftSharks.com
10 60 Mark Ingram, RB, NO Braden Gall Athlon Sports

Round 6 Analysis: More wide receivers fly off the board as eight are taken in the sixth round. Corby took Kenny Britt at no. 55 overall before the Titans' wide receiver underwent a second procedure on his surgically repaired knee. It also will be interesting to see how Vincent Jackson does in Tampa Bay, especially now that he got the big contract he's longed (and sat out) for, and how Brandon Lloyd fares in a New England passing attack that doesn't lack for weapons.

Round 7
Pick Overall Player, Position, Team Drafter Affiliation
1 61 Doug Martin, RB, TB Braden Gall Athlon Sports
2 62 Michael Vick, QB, PHI Matt Schauf DraftSharks.com
3 63 Beanie Wells, RB, ARI Nathan Rush Athlon Sports
4 64 Tony Romo, QB, DAL Steven Lassan Athlon Sports
5 65 Phillip Rivers, QB, SD Mitch Light Athlon Sports
6 66 Peyton Manning, QB, DEN Corby Yarbrough Athlon Sports
7 67 Eric Decker, WR, DEN Patrick Snow Athlon Sports
8 68 Matt Ryan, QB, ATL Charlie Miller Athlon Sports
9 69 BenJarvus Green-Ellis, RB, CIN Mark Ross Athlon Sports
10 70 Michael Crabtree, WR, SF Rob Doster Athlon Sports

Round 7 Analysis: Braden begins the seventh round by taking Tampa Bay rookie running back Doug Martin over the likes of Arizona's Beanie Wells, Cincinnati's BenJarvus Green-Ellis and either Carolina's Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams. Martin is more versatile than Buccanneers' teammate LeGarrette Blount, but it remains to be seen how the first-year back will be utilized. Four quarterbacks go in this round, including Peyton Manning, who is the 10th QB off the board, to Corby. Somewhat surprising, Charlie decides to use his seventh-rounder on Matt Ryan, taking his second quarterback (Tom Brady was his first-round pick), before a tight end or third running back.

Round 8
Pick Overall Player, Position, Team Drafter Affiliation
1 71 Ben Tate, RB, HOU Rob Doster Athlon Sports
2 72 Jonathan Stewart, RB, CAR Mark Ross Athlon Sports
3 73 Vernon Davis, TE, SF Charlie Miller Athlon Sports
4 74 Isaac Redman, RB, PIT Patrick Snow Athlon Sports
5 75 Aaron Hernandez, TE, NE Corby Yarbrough Athlon Sports
6 76 Jahvid Best, RB, DET Mitch Light Athlon Sports
7 77 C.J. Spiller, RB, BUF Steven Lassan Athlon Sports
8 78 Jason Witten, TE, DAL Nathan Rush Athlon Sports
9 79 Robert Meachem, WR, SD Matt Schauf DraftSharks.com
10 80 Torrey Smith, WR, BAL Braden Gall Athlon Sports

Round 8 Analysis: The first tight ends come off the board for the first time since Round 4. Also Ben Tate, Arian Foster's backup in Houston, is taken before presumed starters Jahvid Best (Detroit) and Isaac Redman (Pittsburgh) or either of the Carolina Panthers' duo of Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams. Tate was solid as a fill-in starter for Foster and second option for the Texans last season, but his primary value appears to be as Foster's handcuff.

Round 9
Pick Overall Player, Position, Team Drafter Affiliation
1 81 Jermichael Finley, TE, GB Braden Gall Athlon Sports
2 82 James Starks, RB, GB Matt Schauf DraftSharks.com
3 83 Demaryius Thomas, WR, DEN Nathan Rush Athlon Sports
4 84 Ben Roethlisberger, QB, PIT Steven Lassan Athlon Sports
5 85 DeAngelo Williams, RB, CAR Mitch Light Athlon Sports
6 86 Stevan Ridley, RB, NE Corby Yarbrough Athlon Sports
7 87 Matt Schaub, QB, HOU Patrick Snow Athlon Sports
8 88 David Wilson, RB, NYG Charlie Miller Athlon Sports
9 89 Anquan Boldin, WR, BAL Mark Ross Athlon Sports
10 90 Rashard Mendenhall, RB, PIT Rob Doster Athlon Sports

Round 9 Analysis: Several intriguing picks including Demaryius Thomas, who could emerge as Peyton Manning's favorite target, especially on the long ball, in Denver. There's also Stevan Ridley, who could become the closest thing New England has to a No. 1 running back, especially with BenJarvus Green-Ellis now in Cincinnati. Then there's Rashard Mendenhall, who is expected at the very least to miss a signifcant amount of this season after suffering a torn ACL in the last week of the 2011 regular season. Mendenhall could prove to be a sneaky pick, but I would hedge my bets and not even consider taking a flier on him until the end of your draft. If anything, he's probably a name you would want to keep an eye on as the season progresses and possibly add him via the waiver wire/free agent route should it appear he's close to returning to the field.

Round 10
Pick Overall Player, Position, Team Drafter Affiliation
1 91 Nate Washington, WR, TEN Rob Doster Athlon Sports
2 92 Michael Bush, RB, CHI Mark Ross Athlon Sports
3 93 Justin Blackmon, WR, JAC Charlie Miller Athlon Sports
4 94 Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR, OAK Patrick Snow Athlon Sports
5 95 Denarius Moore, WR, OAK Corby Yarbrough Athlon Sports
6 96 Sidney Rice, WR, SEA Mitch Light Athlon Sports
7 97 Brandon Pettigrew, TE, DET Steven Lassan Athlon Sports
8 98 Toby Gerhart, RB, MIN Nathan Rush Athlon Sports
9 99 Robert Griffin III, QB, WAS Matt Schauf DraftSharks.com
10 100 Donald Brown, RB, IND Braden Gall Athlon Sports

Round 10 Analysis: Nathan and I decied to protect our early-round running back investments in Adrian Peterson and Matt Forte by taking their backups in this round. Charlie decides to pull the trigger on Jacksonville rookie wide receiver Justin Blackmon, but his status is something that definitely bears watching in light of his recent DUI arrest. Fellow rookie Robert Griffin III also goes in the tenth to Matt, who already has Michael Vick on his roster. Nothing wrong with taking a potential high-upside option to backup your starter who has a history of missing some games. I also liked Braden taking Indianapolis running back Donald Brown with the last pick of this round. Even though it's the Colts, he's still the presumed No. 1 at running back and it's always nice to get a starter, especially at running back, in the 10th round.

Round 11
Pick Overall Player, Position, Team Drafter Affiliation
1 101 San Francisco DEF/ST Braden Gall Athlon Sports
2 102 Peyton Hillis, RB, KC Matt Schauf DraftSharks.com
3 103 Jay Cutler, QB, CHI Nathan Rush Athlon Sports
4 104 Mario Manningham, WR, SF Steven Lassan Athlon Sports
5 105 Joe Flacco, QB, BAL Mitch Light Athlon Sports
6 106 Pierre Garcon, WR, WAS Corby Yarbrough Athlon Sports
7 107 Brent Celek, TE, PHI Patrick Snow Athlon Sports
8 108 LaMichael James, RB, SF Charlie Miller Athlon Sports
9 109 Josh Freeman, QB, TB Mark Ross Athlon Sports
10 110 Andy Dalton, QB, CIN Rob Doster Athlon Sports

Round 11 Analysis: Braden followed up his Brown selection by taking San Francisco as the first DEF/ST off the board. No one decided to follow in his footsteps as the next DEF/STs didn't go until a round later. Matt decided to take a flier on former Brown and one-time 1,000-yard rusher Peyton Hillis, whose role in Kansas City will depend largely on how Jamaal Charles' performs in his return from a torn ACL in Week 1 of last season. Mario Manningham and Pierre Garcon will both be catching passes from different quarterbacks this season, and for what it's worth, I like Garcon's situation in Washington better than Manningham's in San Francisco. LaMichael James was also an interesting choice as the rookie has not only starter Frank Gore ahead of him, but also Kendall Hunter and Brandon Jacobs. James' role this season may be primarily as a kick returner and not as a running back.

Round 12
Pick Overall Player, Position, Team Drafter Affiliation
1 111 Baltimore DEF/ST Rob Doster Athlon Sports
2 112 Santonio Holmes, WR, NYJ Mark Ross Athlon Sports
3 113 Chicago DEF/ST Charlie Miller Athlon Sports
4 114 Cincinnati DEF/ST Patrick Snow Athlon Sports
5 115 LeGarrette Blount, RB, TB Corby Yarbrough Athlon Sports
6 116 Mikel Leshoure, RB, DET Mitch Light Athlon Sports
7 117 Pittsburgh DEF/ST Steven Lassan Athlon Sports
8 118 New England DEF/ST Nathan Rush Athlon Sports
9 119 Shane Vereen, RB, NE Matt Schauf DraftSharks.com
10 120 Michael Floyd, WR, ARI Braden Gall Athlon Sports

 

Round 13
Pick Overall Player, Position, Team Drafter Affiliation
1 121 Andrew Luck, QB, IND Braden Gall Athlon Sports
2 122 Lance Moore, WR, NO Matt Schauf DraftSharks.com
3 123 Felix Jones, RB, DAL Nathan Rush Athlon Sports
4 124 Malcom Floyd, WR, SD Steven Lassan Athlon Sports
5 125 New York Jets DEF/ST Mitch Light Athlon Sports
6 126 Vincent Brown, WR, SD Corby Yarbrough Athlon Sports
7 127 Laurent Robinson, WR, JAC Patrick Snow Athlon Sports
8 128 Neil Rackers, K, WAS Charlie Miller Athlon Sports
9 129 Owen Daniels, TE, HOU Mark Ross Athlon Sports
10 130 Kendall Wright, WR, TEN Rob Doster Athlon Sports

Rounds 12 and 13 Analysis: Six DEF/STs go in these two rounds as owners started rounding out their starting line ups. Corby decided to take a chance on the seemingly forgotten LeGarrette Blount, who if anything could have value as a goal-line back for Tampa Bay. Mitch covered Detroit's backfield by pairing 12th-rounder Mikel Leshoure with eighth-round selection Jahvid Best. Three more rookies also go with Braden doubling down on Michael Floyd and Andrew Luck, while Rob took his second Titans' wideout in Kendall Wright in the 13th. Given Britt's status, which is uncertain at best right now, investing picks in Nate Washington and Wright is not the worst strategy.

Round 14
Pick Overall Player, Position, Team Drafter Affiliation
1 131 Ryan Williams, RB, ARI Rob Doster Athlon Sports
2 132 Houston DEF/ST Mark Ross Athlon Sports
3 133 Earl Bennett, WR, CHI Charlie Miller Athlon Sports
4 134 Daniel Thomas, RB, MIA Patrick Snow Athlon Sports
5 135 Joe Adams, WR, CAR Corby Yarbrough Athlon Sports
6 136 Santana Moss, WR, WAS Mitch Light Athlon Sports
7 137 Isaiah Pead, RB, STL Steven Lassan Athlon Sports
8 138 New York Giants DEF/ST Nathan Rush Athlon Sports
9 139 Brian Quick, WR, STL Matt Schauf DraftSharks.com
10 140 Jacquizz Rodgers, RB, ATL Braden Gall Athlon Sports

 

Round 15
Pick Overall Player, Position, Team Drafter Affiliation
1 141 Mason Crosby, K, GB Braden Gall Athlon Sports
2 142 Philadelphia DEF/ST Matt Schauf DraftSharks.com
3 143 Tony Gonzalez, TE, ATL Nathan Rush Athlon Sports
4 144 Danny Amendola, WR, STL Steven Lassan Athlon Sports
5 145 Mike Tolbert, RB, CAR Mitch Light Athlon Sports
6 146 David Akers, K, SF Corby Yarbrough Athlon Sports
7 147 Dan Bailey, K ,DAL Patrick Snow Athlon Sports
8 148 Randy Moss, WR, SF Charlie Miller Athlon Sports
9 149 Fred Davis, TE, WAS Mark Ross Athlon Sports
10 150 Tim Tebow, QB, NYJ Rob Doster Athlon Sports

 

Round 16
Pick Overall Player, Position, Team Drafter Affiliation
1 151 Sebastian Janikowski, K, OAK Rob Doster Athlon Sports
2 152 Alex Henery, K, PHI Mark Ross Athlon Sports
3 153 Devin Hester, WR, CHI Charlie Miller Athlon Sports
4 154 Ronnie Hillman, RB, DEN Patrick Snow Athlon Sports
5 155 Seattle DEF/ST Corby Yarbrough Athlon Sports
6 156 Stephen Gostkowski, K, NE Mitch Light Athlon Sports
7 157 Nate Kaeding, K, SD Steven Lassan Athlon Sports
8 158 Rob Bironas, K, TEN Nathan Rush Athlon Sports
9 159 Matt Bryant, K, ATL Matt Schauf DraftSharks.com
10 160 Randall Cobb, WR, GB Braden Gall Athlon Sports

Rounds 14-16 Analysis: Kickers, DEF/STs and upside picks dominated the final three rounds. I really liked Rob taking Ryan Williams with the first pick in the 14th round. The Arizona running back has yet to play in a NFL game, missing all of last season after tearing his patella tendon in a preseason game. If healthy, he should get plenty of opportunities in the Cardinals' backfield, especially considering Beanie Wells' own injury history. I also liked Patrick taking Miami's Daniel Thomas, Braden going with Atlanta's Jacquizz Rodgers and Mitch snagging Carolina's Mike Tolbert. Thomas should be the backup to Reggie Bush, who had his first 1,000-yard season in 2011 but under a different coaching staff than is there now, while Rodgers is expected to get more touches as the Falcons try to reduce Michael Turner's workload. Tolbert joins a crowded backfield in Carolina, but he also could emerge as the Panthers' primary goal-line back as the team would like to see quarterback Cam Newton run the ball in those situations less than he did last season. Randy Moss' attempt at a career revival in San Francisco will be interesting to watch, but his value seems somewhat limited due to fact that Alex Smith, as opposed to Tom Brady when Moss was with the Patriots, is his quarterback and the 49ers are a run-oriented team. Still, nothing wrong with taking a flier on him in second-to-last round, which is what Charlie did.

Click here to order your copy of the Athlon Sports 2012 Fantasy Football Magazine today.

— by Mark Ross, published on June 11, 2012

Additional Fantasy Football Content:

2012 Athlon Sports Fantasy Football Big Board
Positional Ranks: Quarterbacks
Positional Ranks: Running Backs
Positional Ranks: Wide Receivers
Positional Ranks: Tight Ends
Fantasy Football 2012 NFL Bye Week Cheat Sheet

Teaser:
<p> Athlon Sports 2012 Fantasy Football May Mock Draft</p>
Post date: Monday, June 11, 2012 - 09:05

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