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All taxonomy terms: Essential 11, Overtime
Path: /overtime/athlons-essential-11-links-day-november-14-2014

This is your daily links roundup of our favorite sports and entertainment posts on the web for Nov. 14:


• In case you're looking for gift ideas for Paulina Gretzky's baby with Dustin Johnson, she has a gift registry.


Mario Williams: nightmare fuel.


Jay Cutler gets the headline he deserves.


• Speaking of Cutler, some really dumb Bears fans got snookered by The Onion.


Your MVPs: Trout and Kershaw.


Steph Curry nonchalantly drilled a 40-footer from the tunnel and turned to sign autographs.


Nick Saban comes face to face with his good luck charm: Peewee from Grand Bay.


Will somebody roll the dice on Richie Incognito?


• Turns out MLB and the feds tag-teamed on Biogenesis.


A long-ish read on college basketball, which starts today.


Charles Barkley calls Derrick Rose stupid.


• Cal's fake punt attempt went horribly wrong.


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

Post date: Friday, November 14, 2014 - 11:14
Path: /college-football/florida-state-seminoles-vs-miami-hurricanes-2014-game-preview-and-prediction

Florida State puts its 25-game winning streak and No. 3 spot in college football’s playoff standings on the line Saturday night with a trip to Miami. The Seminoles have controlled this rivalry over the last few years, but the Hurricanes have improved in coach Al Golden’s fourth year and have a three-game winning streak entering Saturday night’s matchup


Replicating the effort and performance from one season to the next is an impossible task. Florida State isn’t as dominant as it was last year, but coach Jimbo Fisher’s team is still among the best in the nation and should have a good shot to repeat if it wins out and makes the four-team playoff. The Seminoles have question marks on the offensive and defensive lines, yet have won four out of their last five games by at least 11 points.


Miami’s three losses in 2014 came against quality teams (Nebraska, Georgia Tech and Louisville), but this team has benefited from playing in the Coastal Division – the weaker of the ACC divisions. However, the Hurricanes are just one of three teams that rank inside of the top 10 nationally in total offense and total defense in terms of yards per play. Defense was a huge point of criticism in Miami early in the year, but this unit has played better in recent weeks, and freshman quarterback Brad Kaaya leads the ACC in quarterback rating.


Miami owns a slight 29-27 edge in the overall series against Florida State. However, the Seminoles have claimed four in a row over the Hurricanes and seven out of the last nine in the series.


Florida State at Miami

Kickoff: 8 p.m. ET (Saturday)
TV Channel: ABC
Spread: Florida State -2.5

Florida State’s Key to Victory: Stop Miami RB Duke Johnson
Johnson suffered a season-ending leg injury in last year’s matchup against Florida State and started the year with four games of less than 100 yards. However, the junior has been nearly unstoppable over the last five games. Johnson has 843 rushing yards in his last five contests, averaging 8.7 yards per carry. The Seminoles rank seventh in the ACC against the run, giving up 135.7 yards per game. In conference-only matchups, Florida State’s numbers are better, allowing just 108.8 yards per game through six ACC games. The Seminoles aren’t strong on the interior as they were last season, especially with the loss of tackle Nile Lawrence-Stample to a season-ending injury earlier in the year. Miami’s offensive line has also experienced its share of injuries, and starting left tackle Ereck Flowers is questionable due to a knee injury. The formula for a Hurricanes victory is simple. Johnson needs to have a huge performance and keep Florida State’s offense on the sideline. If Johnson has success, it should open up play-action passes for quarterback Brad Kaaya.

Miami’s Key to Victory: Limit the Big Plays from Florida State’s Offense
The Seminoles averaged 51.6 points per game last season but have dipped to 37.9 in 2014. Why the drop in production? It starts up front with the offensive line. Center Austin Barron has missed the last four games due to an arm injury but could return for action on Saturday. That’s good news for a group averaging just four yards per carry in 2014. In addition to Barron’s return, the Seminoles will be at full strength in the backfield on Saturday night. Running back Dalvin Cook suffered a hip injury against Virginia but is expected to play. Backfield mate Mario Pender has missed three games in a row due to injury and is also expected to be at full strength. Starter Karlos Williams is averaging 4.4 yards per carry but expect to see plenty of Cook and Pender on Saturday night. Quarterback Jameis Winston has carried more of the offensive workload with a struggling offensive line and rushing attack, and the sophomore has 11 interceptions through 294 attempts. Winston threw for 325 yards and two picks in last year’s game against Miami. The Hurricanes have allowed only nine passing plays of 30 yards or more this year and that trend needs to continue on Saturday. Limit the big plays by Florida State and force Winston and his receivers to work the ball down the field in small chunks.


Final Analysis


As evidenced on the stat sheet and on film, Miami has improved this year. This is a huge game for recruiting purposes in Florida, and it’s also a chance for Golden to show how far the Hurricanes have come over the last four years. Florida State isn’t as dominant as it was in 2013. But that’s not a huge issue. This Seminoles’ team still has a lot of talent and has an edge in that department on Saturday night. Miami keeps it close with Johnson’s running and limits Florida State’s overall possessions by controlling the clock. However, the Seminoles have the better quarterback and a recent edge in this rivalry. Florida State wins by a touchdown and extends its winning streak to 26 games.


Prediction: Florida State 34, Miami 27

Florida State Seminoles vs. Miami Hurricanes 2014 Game Preview and Prediction
Post date: Friday, November 14, 2014 - 10:30
Path: /college-football/arkansas-razorbacks-vs-lsu-tigers-2014-game-preview-and-prediction

Due to conference realignment, Arkansas and LSU won’t meet on Black Friday anymore, but the rivalry between these two schools still exists with the annual Battle for the Boot. And this year’s meeting still has plenty of intrigue, as the Razorbacks are searching for their first SEC win under coach Bret Bielema, while LSU is looking to bounce back after a tough loss against Alabama in overtime last Saturday.

The series between Arkansas and LSU has produced several close games in recent memory. The Razorbacks have lost four out of the last five meetings to the Tigers, but last year’s matchup was only a four-point win for LSU. And very little has separated these two programs in their annual matchup, as eight out of the last nine games were decided by a touchdown or less. Most of Arkansas’ home matchups against LSU in recent years have been played in Little Rock, but this season’s game takes place in Fayetteville. The Razorbacks have not defeated the Tigers in Fayetteville since 1992 and trail in the overall series 36-20-2.


LSU at Arkansas


Kickoff: 8 p.m. ET (Saturday)
TV Channel: ESPN2
Spread: Arkansas -2

Arkansas’ Key to Victory: Stop the Run

The key to beating LSU is to win the battle at the line of scrimmage. Arkansas is allowing 168 rushing yards per game but has held opponents to just three rushing scores in five home contests. The Razorbacks have allowed three consecutive opponents to rush for at least 128 yards, with Georgia torching Arkansas for 207 yards on 39 attempts. LSU leads the SEC in rushing attempts (494) and averages 4.5 yards per attempt. The Tigers feature four players with at least 260 rushing yards, but true freshman Leonard Fournette is the team’s best option (736 yards). Fournette will challenge a good Arkansas defensive front, and stopping the true freshman will play a huge role in how this game is decided. Quarterback Anthony Jennings has yet to complete more than 50 percent of his throws in a game against Power 5 opponents and has completed only eight passes in back-to-back games. Arkansas needs to load the box and stop Fournette, which will force Jennings to take to the air to win this matchup.

LSU’s Key to Victory: Get Arkansas into Third-and-Long Situations

It may sound like a broken record in the keys to victory for both teams, but Arkansas and LSU are very similar in terms of style of play on offense. The Razorbacks boast a massive offensive line and average 248.2 yards per game on the ground. Junior Jonathan Williams leads the team with 877 yards, but sophomore Alex Collins isn’t far behind with 840 yards. Both players have 10 rushing touchdowns. Considering Arkansas has made strides on defense this year and owns one of the SEC’s best rushing attacks, why hasn’t this team won a game in conference play? The answer isn’t as simple as the passing attack, but the Razorbacks need more through the air. Quarterback Brandon Allen has been a better player at home (61% completion percentage to 54% on road) and has struggled on third downs with more than seven yards to go (17 of 38 for 270 yards and three picks). Arkansas wants to establish its rushing attack, but it also needs Allen to hit a few throws to keep the defense off balance. LSU’s defense has played better in recent weeks, and stopping the Razorbacks’ rushing attack and forcing Allen into obvious passing situations would give Les Miles’ team an edge on the scoreboard.


Final Analysis


Arkansas has been on the doorstep of a couple of conference wins this year. The Razorbacks lost in overtime to Texas A&M, lost by a point to Alabama and was defeated by a touchdown at Mississippi State – the No. 1 team in the playoff rankings. LSU has rebounded from a slow start in SEC play, but the Tigers are coming off an emotional, hard-hitting game against Alabama. Everything points to an Arkansas victory. Will the Tigers win another crazy, last-minute affair under Les Miles? Nothing in this game would be a surprise, but the guess here is the Razorbacks break through and win their first SEC game under Bielema.


Prediction: Arkansas 24, LSU 20

Arkansas Razorbacks vs. LSU Tigers 2014 Game Preview and Prediction
Post date: Friday, November 14, 2014 - 10:00
Path: /college-football/georgia-bulldogs-vs-auburn-tigers-2014-game-preview-and-prediction

There’s usually plenty on the line when Auburn and Georgia meet in The Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry, but there’s a little extra incentive for both teams on Saturday. The Bulldogs hope to enact a little revenge against the Tigers for last year’s last-minute Hail Mary connection and keep their SEC East title hopes alive. And of course, there’s no shortage of storylines for coach Mark Richt’s team with the return of running back Todd Gurley from a suspension. Auburn needs a win to keep its slim playoff hopes alive, but coach Gus Malzahn’s team is also fighting for bowl positioning. If the Tigers finish 9-3 or 10-2, this squad should have an opportunity to play in one of the New Year’s bowl matchups.   

Both teams enter Saturday’s matchup at 7-2, but this is the final SEC game for Georgia in 2014, while Auburn still has a showdown against Alabama on Nov. 29. The Bulldogs lost in Jacksonville against Florida (38-20) on Nov. 1 and lost control of the East Division. However, with a win over Auburn and a Missouri loss, Georgia will play in the SEC Championship. Auburn needs some help in order to play for the West Division title, but even at two losses, the Tigers aren’t out of the mix for a trip to Atlanta.


Georgia and Auburn have met 117 times on the gridiron. The Tigers own a 55-54-8 series edge over the Bulldogs. Auburn won last year’s meeting 43-38, but Georgia has won two out of the last three games in this series.


Auburn at Georgia


Kickoff: 7:15 p.m. ET (Saturday)

TV Channel: ESPN

Spread: Georgia -2.5


Auburn’s Key to Victory: Test the Georgia Front Seven

Georgia’s rush defense struggled in its last two games (Florida and Kentucky), but the front seven is still the strength of coordinator Jeremy Pruitt’s defense. The secondary was a concern heading into 2014 but has allowed 10 passing scores in seven conference games. Without receiver Duke Williams, Georgia can devote more attention on Sammie Coates. Assuming the Bulldogs find the right solution to contain Coates and quarterback Nick Marshall, will this defense win the battle at the point of attack? In last year’s game, Auburn rushed for 323 yards (5.7 ypc) and four scores. If the Tigers repeat that total on Saturday, it’s going to be difficult for Georgia to win. Marshall is always dangerous with the ball in his hands, but he’s not the only threat on the ground. Senior Cameron Artis-Payne has 1,190 yards (5.7 ypc), and speedster Corey Grant is also an option. Are Georgia’s recent struggles against rushing games an aberration? Or have teams found something to attack the front seven? Auburn’s rushing attack should provide a good litmus test for the Bulldogs after struggling to stop Florida just a few weeks ago.

Georgia’s Key to Victory: Control the Tempo and Pace of Play
Auburn wants to play at a quicker pace than Georgia, hoping its up-tempo, spread attack will force the Bulldogs out of their comfort zone on offense. Georgia quarterback Hutson Mason has been efficient this year, completing 69 percent of his passes and throwing only three picks. However, the Bulldogs would like to win this game by establishing their ground attack, which ranks second in the SEC with an average of 256.3 yards per game. Freshman Nick Chubb has filled in admirably during Gurley’s suspension, recording at least 143 yards in each of the last four games. Gurley is expected to start on Saturday, but Chubb will see his share of carries. Auburn’s defense is allowing 159.2 rushing yards per game in SEC action. If the Bulldogs establish their style of play, control the clock and let Gurley and Chubb dictate the pace of the tempo, Auburn will have a tough time winning in Athens.


Final Analysis


This is a huge revenge game for Georgia. Combine a hungry Bulldogs team with Todd Gurley’s return, and it’s easy to see why Auburn is a slight underdog. It’s tough to envision the Tigers losing two consecutive games under coach Gus Malzahn, but this is a tough matchup for Auburn. The style of play and overall tempo will be critical. If Georgia controls the pace with its rushing attack, the Tigers are going to have their hands full. But if Auburn jumps out to an early lead and its up-tempo attack forces the Bulldogs to throw more, the upper hand will go to Malzahn’s team. This should be one of the best matchups of the weekend. Georgia gets revenge for last year’s game and stays alive in the East Division.


Prediction: Georgia 34, Auburn 31

Georgia Bulldogs vs. Auburn Tigers 2014 Game Preview and Prediction
Post date: Friday, November 14, 2014 - 09:30
All taxonomy terms: NBA, News
Path: /nba/ranking-nbas-best-undersized-players

Folk heroes in basketball almost always come in tiny packages. There’s nothing more thrilling to the common viewer than watching a veritable David rise up in a league full of Goliaths. Winning big when you’re small, in a vertically oriented game, is lightning in the NBA.


While a lower center of gravity creates a speed and dribbling advantage—almost all of the league’s best ball-handlers are diminutive—there’s still usually a bigger, longer player capable of sticking with the short and nimble. You’ve got to have something more than the chops of a dancer to be mini and thrilling. You need moxie, and these guys all have enough of it to light an arena on fire.


5. Isaiah Thomas

The Suns’ big pickup over the offseason could become 2014-15’s Sixth Man of the Year winner. Isaiah Thomas is a scoring machine, darting through coverage and stopping on a dime to drain sweet jumpers seemingly whenever he pleases.


His tiny 5’9” frame has been a refuges for Thomas doubters around every corner. He was drafted just No. 60 overall in 2011 NBA draft, and was passed over in free agency by his Sacramento Kings squad in 2014. Let all that be fuel for Thomas, though, as he wows the league in Phoenix on an almost nightly basis in the season’s early goings.


4. Tony Allen

Tony Allen is a mongoose. He doesn’t look like he could kill a king snake, but he does it all the time. Just ask Kevin Durant, who Allen took out of his comfort zone in last year’s playoffs after Durant dominated the league through his MVP-winning season. Despite having a five-plus inch deficit next to KD, the 6’4” Allen had Durant so frustrated with his aggressive defense that an Oklahoma City newspaper ran the headline “Mr. Unreliable” about their star.


That paper's phrasing was (obviously) overcooked, and Allen isn’t exactly on the smaller side of NBA players. But his performance on Durant gave fans the same thrill a true giant slayer brings—he gives up pounds consistently, but makes up for the gap with tenacity and strategy, reliably pleasing the underdog in all of us.


3. Ty Lawson

The Denver Nuggets’ best player is one of their smallest, too—they’ve also got the hummingbird frame of Nate Robinson on board. Lawson is languishing in the Rockies this season, as the Nuggets have been mismanaged into the NBA’s basement. But it wasn’t long ago that he was the engine of a 58-win team coached by George Karl, dazzling the league with open court savvy and impressive dexterity in the pick-and-roll.


Watch this terrific instructional video with Lawson, in which he demonstrates how he regularly makes dunces of big men in PnR actions by “putting them in jail”:

2. Eric Bledsoe

Eric Bledsoe held out all summer to get his money from the Phoenix Suns. After much speculation that things had gone sour and the two signs would inevitably part, “The Bledshow” got paid to the tune of $70 million over five years. Bledsoe is worth it; he’s the very best point guard defender in the game, routinely making fools of bigger point guards and thriving as a shot-blocker of big men.


Bledsoe’s other nickname is “Mini LeBron,” since he’s one of the only athletes who can approximate the versatile athletic explosion that the King brings to the court. The two friends share an agent in Rich Paul, and fans of both should keep their fingers crossed for Paul to somehow get Bledsoe and James on a roster together.


1. Chris Paul

The little general wins the list. The Los Angeles Clippers’ fearless leader is one of the hottest competitors in the league; with the smart conviction he moves with, most fans get too engaged to even notice how small Paul is. At 6’0”, he’s cracked a most unlikely category as one of the game’s best point guards. Regularly going head-to-head with the likes of Derrick Rose and Russell Westbrook requires CP3 to do battle with true beasts of the position.


Paul is frequently criticized for his relative lack of playoff success. Real enthusiasts of the game understand that his legacy should be cemented regardless—he’s one of the best to ever play his position. But if he can lead the Clippers to the Western Conference Finals or deeper in 2014-15, Paul will hold the hearts of the everyday fan forevermore.


— John Wilmes

Post date: Friday, November 14, 2014 - 09:10
Path: /college-football/alabama-crimson-tide-vs-mississippi-state-bulldogs-2014-game-preview-and-prediction

The SEC West is once again the epicenter of a college football weekend. Alabama is usually the team at the top of the SEC West, but Mississippi State has worked its way through the nation’s best division and enters Week 12 as the No. 1 team in college football’s playoff committee rankings. Of course, the Bulldogs stay at No. 1 is tenuous, but a loss to the Crimson Tide wouldn’t eliminate coach Dan Mullen’s team from the playoff mix.


Alabama opened the 2014 season with a 5-0 start but suffered a 23-17 loss to Ole Miss in Oxford. The Crimson Tide has rebounded since that defeat by winning four in a row, including a 20-13 game at LSU last Saturday. Alabama ranked No. 5 in this week’s committee rankings, but coach Nick Saban’s team controls its destiny into the playoff.


Despite Mississippi State’s No. 1 ranking, the good folks in Vegas aren’t putting much stock in this matchup. The Bulldogs are more than a touchdown underdog (8.5 points) but had an easy win over Tennessee-Martin last Saturday and are catching Alabama at the right time. After a physical 60-minute battle with LSU, can the Crimson Tide respond with the same type of effort and performance a week later?


Alabama has dominated the overall series against Mississippi State 76-17-3. The Crimson Tide has won six in a row against the Bulldogs and none of those matchups were decided by single digits. Mississippi State’s last win over Alabama in Tuscaloosa transpired in 2006.


Mississippi State at Alabama


Kickoff: 3:30 p.m. ET (Saturday)

TV Channel: CBS

Spread: Alabama -8.5


Three Things to Watch


1. Dak Prescott Against Alabama’s Defense
This is one of the most intriguing matchups of the 2014 season. Alabama is simply an immovable object against the run. The Crimson Tide has allowed only 808 rushing yards this year, limiting opponents to just 2.8 yards per carry. Additionally, coach Nick Saban’s defense has allowed only two rushing scores all year and none over the last three games. While Alabama aims to stop the run and has been tough to run on all year, Mississippi State has to try to establish its ground game. Through five SEC contests, the Bulldogs rank second in the league by averaging 251.8 rushing yards per game and have scored 16 touchdowns. Running back Josh Robinson leads the team with 984 yards, while quarterback Dak Prescott is a close second with 779 yards. Both players have 11 rushing scores and average over five yards per attempt. Mobile quarterbacks have provided plenty of headaches for Alabama in recent years: Auburn and Oklahoma in 2014 and Texas A&M in 2013 and 2012. Can Prescott continue that trend? The Alabama defense is the best Prescott and Robinson have played this year and getting 250 or so rushing yards will be a challenge. However, it’s the small gains that could eventually lead to big plays. Keeping Prescott out of third-and-long situations and using his mobility when the pocket breaks down are two areas for Mullen and his staff to monitor on Saturday.


2. Alabama’s Rushing Attack

Alabama still has a few games to help its offensive numbers, but the Crimson Tide rank seventh in the SEC in rushing heading into Saturday’s game against Mississippi State. The No. 7 rank for the rushing attack is the lowest for Alabama in the last seven seasons. And there’s some uncertainty surrounding the running backs for Saturday, as T.J. Yeldon suffered an ankle injury against LSU and may not be at full strength against the Bulldogs. Yeldon has 686 yards this year, while Derrick Henry has 554 on 111 attempts. Alabama’s offensive line isn’t as strong as it has been in recent years, but this rushing attack will challenge the Mississippi State defensive front. The Bulldogs aim to stop the run and have held their SEC opponents to 149.6 rushing yards per game. The defensive line for Mississippi State is loaded with talent, depth and experience, starting with end Preston Smith and continuing to tackles P.J. Jones, Kaleb Eulls and Chris Jones. Can Alabama’s offensive line jell at the right time and create rushing lanes for Yeldon and Henry? Or will Mississippi State win the battle at the point of attack and put the Crimson Tide into long yardage situations?


3. Alabama WR Amari Cooper

Timely is the best way to describe Alabama’s passing offense in last week’s win against LSU. Receiver Amari Cooper had a few dropped passes against the Tigers but finished with eight catches for 83 yards and one score. Blake Sims has been a better quarterback in Tuscaloosa than on the road this year. Sims is completing 69.2 percent of his passes at home and has 11 touchdowns to just one interception. The senior has not tossed a pick in four games, and with a tight game expected on Saturday, he needs another zero in the interception column. Cooper (79 catches for 1,215 yards) is by far the top target for Sims, and the junior should have opportunities for big plays against a Mississippi State secondary that has allowed 16 plays of 30 or more yards this season (worst in the SEC). And if the Bulldogs find a way to slow down Cooper, Alabama still has tight end O.J. Howard and fellow receivers DeAndrew White and Christion Jones to target. Even if Mississippi State stops the run, can its secondary find an answer for Cooper?


Final Analysis


Mississippi State hasn’t played particularly well since its 38-23 win to Auburn. However, that shouldn’t be of concern, as the Bulldogs continue to rise to the challenge each week, especially in a road win against LSU and a home victory over Auburn. The Bulldogs have the pieces to match Alabama but winning in Tuscaloosa requires a perfect effort. Prescott and Robinson may not find a ton of success early, but it’s important to stick with the rushing attack. And when Prescott throws, there are plays to be made against the Crimson Tide secondary. Alabama is coming off a physical game against LSU, so a sluggish start isn’t out of the question. With the Bulldogs’ penchant for giving up big plays in the secondary this year, the Crimson Tide may come out throwing to open up their rushing attack. Mississippi State is catching Alabama at the right time. However, the Crimson Tide finds a way to win this one in the second half, and coach Nick Saban’s team sets up an interesting finale against Auburn on Nov. 29.


Prediction: Alabama 27, Mississippi State 20

Alabama Crimson Tide vs. Mississippi State Bulldogs Game Preview and Prediction
Post date: Friday, November 14, 2014 - 09:00
Path: /college-football/wisconsin-badgers-vs-nebraska-cornhuskers-2014-game-preview-and-prediction

November is loaded with critical matchups that will shape conference and national title races, and perhaps no division illustrates that point better than the Big Ten West. Nebraska, Minnesota and Wisconsin are all 4-1 in conference play heading into Week 12. And all three teams are set to play each other over the next few weeks, with 3-2 Iowa also in the discussion.


Considering the 4-1 three-team logjam at the top of the division, clarity within the division should start on Saturday with Nebraska traveling to Madison to take on Wisconsin. There are several similarities between these two teams, including style of play, a Heisman contender at running back and a close loss in early October.


Nebraska and Wisconsin have only met eight previous times, and the overall series is tied at four victories apiece. These two teams did not play in 2013, and the Cornhuskers won the first meeting in 2012 but lost 70-31 to the Badgers in the Big Ten Championship.


Nebraska at Wisconsin


Kickoff: 3:30 p.m. ET (Saturday)

TV Channel: ABC/ESPN2

Spread: Wisconsin -6.5


Three Things to Watch

1. Nebraska RB Ameer Abdullah’s Health
Abdullah suffered a knee injury against Purdue on Nov. 1, but all signs point to the senior playing against Wisconsin this Saturday. Abdullah is one of the top running backs in the nation and is critical to the overall success of the offense. A healthy and effective Abdullah makes life much easier for quarterback Tommy Armstrong. Abdullah recorded only one rushing yard against Purdue but has four 200-yard games this year. Through five games, Wisconsin’s rush defense has allowed just three scores and leads the Big Ten in fewest yards allowed (100.8 ypg). While the Badgers lead the conference against the run, Abdullah is easily their toughest challenge so far this year. Assuming he’s healthy, Abdullah is going to be a handful for the Badgers.

2. Wisconsin RB Melvin Gordon against Nebraska’s Run Defense
It’s no secret both of these teams want to establish the run on offense. Wisconsin leads the Big Ten by averaging 325.7 rushing yards per game, while Nebraska is second with 280.7 yards per contest. And the picture isn’t much different on defense, as both programs rank close in terms of yards allowed. Nebraska’s rush defense is allowing 130 yards per game in Big Ten action, but two of its last four opponents have recorded more than that mark (Michigan State and Rutgers). Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon is considered one of the top-five candidates to win the Heisman and will be a handful for the Nebraska defense. No team has found an answer to stopping Gordon this year, as the junior has at least 120 yards in every FBS contest. And Gordon has been on a tear recently, recording 205 yards against Purdue, 259 against Northwestern and 175 against Illinois. Nebraska should be the best defense the Badgers have played since the opener against LSU. Will Gordon add to his Heisman resume? Or will the Cornhuskers find a way to limit the damage? Nebraska doesn’t necessarily have to limit Gordon below 100 yards, but the junior has 13 rushes of 30 yards or more this year. For the Cornhuskers to win, they need to limit Gordon’s big plays, force a couple of turnovers and get Wisconsin into third-and-long situations.

3. The Quarterbacks

With Abdullah and Gordon stealing the spotlight, the two quarterbacks – Nebraska’s Tommy Armstrong and Wisconsin’s Joel Stave – are often overlooked. On Saturday, it’s not crazy to think the game could be decided on which quarterback makes more plays in the passing game. Sure, that seems obvious, but both teams plan on a run-first approach, and the defenses want to key on stopping the ground attack. If the rushing game stalls out, which quarterback can deliver through the air? Armstrong has posted better numbers in 2014, but Stave did not play in the first four games due to an occurrence of the “yips.” Stave is coming off his best performance of the year, completing 19 of 29 passes for 219 yards and two scores. Armstrong is still developing in his first full season as Nebraska’s starter, as the sophomore has three games of 48 percent or less in completion percentage. Armstrong also adds a different dimension than Stave. The sophomore has 571 rushing yards and four scores this year. Stave is clearly a pocket passer, and he could share time with mobile junior Tanner McEvoy. Don’t expect either team to throw for 300 yards on Saturday, but one team may need a play or two on a potential game-winning drive in the fourth quarter. Both quarterbacks are overlooked due to the star power at running back. However, if the game is on the line, will it be Stave or Armstrong that can deliver in the clutch?


Final Analysis


Mississippi State-Alabama and Florida State-Miami are games garnering more attention on Saturday, but the Wisconsin-Nebraska matchup has plenty of intrigue and potential. And this game is worth the price of admission just for the running back battle between Gordon and Abdullah. Despite both teams having success against the run, Gordon and Abdullah will have their share of successful plays. But the outcome of this game will be decided on the arms of Stave or Armstrong, as well as the play of both defenses. Very little separates Nebraska and Wisconsin. And in a tight game, home-field advantage is worth a couple of points. The Badgers win a close one and take an early lead for the West Division title.


Prediction: Wisconsin 27, Nebraska 24

Wisconsin Badgers vs. Nebraska Cornhuskers 2014 Game Preview and Prediction
Post date: Friday, November 14, 2014 - 08:30
All taxonomy terms: ACC, College Football, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac 12, SEC, News
Path: /college-football/betting-against-spread-college-football-2014-week-12-picks

There is no way to sugar coat it. In the big games last weekend, I didn’t perform well, going 2-4 outright and 2-4 against the spread.


My top picks didn’t perform much better, going 1-2 in the “real-er” picks. It pushed my season record to 38-38-1. Needless to say, it’s been a down year. My only saving grace is another winning record in the Top 25 (8-6) and a tie with Mitch Light for the best record (86-78-4) among the Athlon pickers.


Last Week: 1-2

Year-to-Date: 38-38-1


Ohio St (-13) at Minnesota

The Gophers barely held on to beat Purdue and have lost to Illinois. Ohio State needs to be on letdown alert but otherwise there is nothing to like about this matchup for the Gophers. Urban Meyer’s team is 7-2 against the number this year and in desperate need of style points. Prediction: Ohio State -13.5


Clemson (-3) at Georgia Tech

To beat Paul Johnson’s triple option, you need a great defensive line and Clemson has just that. The Tigers are also getting QB DeShaun Watson back, one of the most dynamic playmakers in the league even though he's a true freshman. Clemson seems like the significantly better team. Prediction: Clemson -3


Indiana (+7) at Rutgers

The Knights have had two weeks to prepare and know that one more win gets them to a bowl game and therefore should be incredibly motivated. Rutgers is fifth in the Big Ten at 5.9 yards per play and should be able to get some points against the league’s second-worst scoring defense (32.3 ppg). Prediction: Rutgers -7


Virginia Tech (+4.5) at Duke

The Blue Devils are inching closer to a Coastal Division repeat but can’t afford to lose again with Georgia Tech and Miami breathing down its neck. Duke won last year outright in Blacksburg and the Hokies are playing horrible football. Take David Cutcliffe and his 7-2 record against the spread. Prediction: Duke -4.5


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Florida St (-2.5) at Miami

The Noles play with fire every weekend and it has cost gamblers all season (FSU sports a 2-7 record ATS). Miami is improved but should still be overmatched in what could be a heavy Seminole crowd in South Florida. Florida State will find a way to win again in the second half. Prediction: Florida St -2.5


Nebraska (+7) at Wisconsin

Nebraska feels like the better team and has a significant advantage at quarterback. Moving the ball with a less-than-healthy Ameer Abdullah against the very stout UW defensive front will be difficult but this feels like a big number. Prediction: Nebraska +7


Kentucky (+8) at Tennessee

I’ll venture away from the Big Ten and ACC for the first time this week. The Wildcats' defense has been atrocious of late, giving up over 300 yards rushing in three of the last four games. Tennessee is rested after the bye week and is at home. The Cats are terrible on the road and should struggle once again. Josh Dobbs and Jalen Hurd will have big games on the ground. Prediction: Tennessee -8    


Play the trends:


TCU and Western Michigan are the best two teams in the nation against the spread, as both sport an 8-1 mark. Both are laying large margins this weekend against Kansas (-28.5) and Eastern Michigan (-28) respectively. Don’t expect Gary Patterson, who needs style points, to let off the pedal too much.


SMU is 2-6 against the number and has been terrible in all phases of the game all year. South Florida is just 5-4 against the spread but should cover the 11-point spread. UTEP is 7-2 this season against the spread and is at home against North Texas laying 6.5 points. Take the Miners.


Two OSU’s from Stillwater and Corvallis have been terrible against the spread this season and both should lose at home this weekend. Oregon State is 2-7 against the spread and will find it difficult covering the 9-point number against Arizona State. Oklahoma State is 2-6-1 against the spread and is laying 2.5 points against Texas. Take the Sun Devils and the Horns.


Top 25 Picks ATS:


Top 25Braden GallMitch LightDavid FoxSteven Lassan
Mississippi St (+8) at Alabama
Florida St (-2.5) at Miami
TCU (-28.5) at Kansas
Arizona St (-9) at Oregon St
Ohio St (-13) at Minnesota
Auburn (+2.5) at Georgia
Michigan St (-12) at Maryland
Washington (+9) at Arizona
Nebraska (+7) at Wisconsin
LSU (+2) at Arkansas
Northwestern (+17.5) at Notre Dame
Clemson (-3) at Georgia Tech
Virginia Tech (+4.5) at Duke
Utah (+7.5) at Stanford
Missouri (+4.5) at Texas A&M
Last Week:8-611-37-76-8
Betting Against the Spread: College Football 2014 Week 12 Picks
Post date: Friday, November 14, 2014 - 08:00
Path: /nascar/nascar-chase-report-previewing-finale-homestead-miami-speedway

It’s hard to believe the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup season is about to come to a close, and the first champion to be crowned under the new bracket-style Chase elimination format will happen this Sunday at Homestead Miami Speedway. With the fourth different championship format in 11 years, many were skeptical of how this would play out; after all the 2013 season came a close with NASCAR tossing out drivers who made it (Martin Truex Jr.) and arbitrarily placing drivers into contention (Jeff Gordon, Ryan Newman) two days after the final race at Richmond. Regardless of the opinion or final outcome, it has served what it was intended to do: increase fan interest and discussion of the championship Chase in the midst of college football and NFL Fantasy Football mayhem. 


What it has not done is generate increased television ratings; each Chase race so far has been down – albeit slightly – over the last two years with the exception of the last two races at Texas and Phoenix. Add into the mix the possibility of this year’s champion potentially not having won a race and you have stock car purists ready to take the streets and burn a Brian France effigy in defiance. 


No, The King or The Intimidator didn’t do it this way, but then again Jimmie Johnson won’t win number seven this year either, so perhaps in some minds there is some intrinsic value to it after all. 



The Final Four

While there were no punches thrown following the Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500 at Phoenix last Sunday, there was a body slam on the final lap. As Gordon crossed the finish line, the four-time champion had skated into the finale on the strength of a tie-break between he and Newman – Gordon has four wins this year to Newman’s zero. That was quickly reversed though, as Newman executed a NASCAR Thunder video-game style pass on Kyle Larson, using the No. 42 as mobile soft wall. While Larson was sent laterally into the wall, Newman cruised past. In the ends-justifies-the-means nature of this new Chase format, what Brad Keselowski was criticized for a week earlier was given little more than a shoulder shrug this time around. 


Also, let’s give credit where credit is due: Kevin Harvick had to win to stay eligible for a title, and — as I correctly predicted I this column one week ago — did just that. He dominated the race in a mirror effort of his February Phoenix performance, sweeping the season’s events in the desert. It was his first win in the Chase, his fourth of the year, and proof positive that the No. 4 team is the one to beat heading into Miami this Sunday. 


While Denny Hamlin didn’t have a very good car Sunday, falling a lap down early which led to some frantic radio transmissions from the driver, Darian Grub and the No. 11 FedEx team of Joe Gibbs Racing righted the ship (enouh) to recover with a sixth-place finish. It was important for Hamlin for a number of reasons; the least of which was to simply get into the final round, but also to exorcise the demons that have plagued him since what was looking to be a championship-clinching race at PIR in 2010 ended in frustration. Not a bad rally for a driver who missed several races last year with a broken back and had to be replaced at the last minute this year in one race with metal debris in his eye.


Representing the Blue Oval brigade out of the Penske shop is Joey Logano. This marks his first real shot at a title since he was moved to the Cup Series to replace Tony Stewart at Joe Gibbs Racing six years ago. Many have downplayed Logano’s chances, saying you first have to lose a championship before you win one. I guess no one told that to Logan’s teammate, Keselowski, two years ago when he granted Roger Penske his first Cup Series title. Logano stands to repeat the feat in what has been consistently the fastest Ford on the track for the last year and a half. 


Homestead has served as the series finale since 2002, and has played host to a few nail-biters. In 2002, Stewart held off Mark Martin by just 38 points (about eight positions with today’s scoring system), while the inaugural 2004 Chase saw six drivers with a shot at it, with Kurt Busch benefiting from his own wheel flying off and bringing out a caution he desperately needed – while avoiding the end of pit wall in the process. 2011 gave us the closest finish in NASCAR history, with Carl Edwards and Stewart in a dead heat points-wise, with Smoke taking the title by winning the race on a wins tie-breaker.


But do wins really count this time around?


Newman and Keselowski would tell you they do not. The former had just one top-5 finish before the Chase and hasn’t won a race in a year and a half. The latter has the most wins this season but missed the cut due to a rear gearing failure at Martinsville. This year’s title could come down to whoever wins, an ill-timed caution, a green-white-checker restart, or a late race caution where one guy stays out and everyone else behind him pits. 



Denny Hamlin

Career at Homestead: 9 starts, 2 wins, 4 top 5s, 5 top 10s, avg. start: 29.2, avg. finish: 11.2

At first glance, this is Hamlin’s title to lose. He’s the only one of the four to have won a race in Homestead, is the defending race winner, and his average finish is really only sullied by a 33rd-place run in his seven-race 2005 rookie campaign. While this is a 1.5-mile track, it is not the typical tri-oval like Charlotte, Atlanta or Texas. It is perhaps more similar to Chicagoland, the first race of the Chase. Hamlin finished sixth there, the top Toyota. Unfortunately for him, he also finished behind Logano (fourth) and Harvick (fifth). Darian Grubb was Stewart’s crew chief in 2011 when the title was on the line and even with a piece of Busch’s bell housing tearing a hole in the nose of Stewart’s car, was able to rally for the win and claim a championship.


Can Grubb and Hamlin repeat that this Sunday? It’s an uphill battle for sure, but given their ability to rally the last few weeks, Hamlin could forever erase that disastrous 2010 race here from his mind.



Kevin Harvick

Career at Homestead: 13 starts, 0 wins, 5 top 5s, 11 top 10s, avg. start: 14.0, avg. finish: 8.1

Think Harvick and crew chief Rodney Childers are pumped about having a 1.5-mile track to decide the championship? The team that has shown pure speed at virtually every facility this year has been the No. 4 Chevrolets of Stewart-Haas Racing. Harvick has led 2,083 laps in 2014 (or 32 percent of the total laps led in his entire career). Despite the turmoil and distraction this team has found itself combating in 2014 — from the team owner nearly losing a leg the year before, to Stewart’s involvement in the tragic death of Kevin Ward in a sprint car accident this summer — the replacement for Newman at SHR is in position for his first serious championship threat in his 15 year career and first since parting ways with Richard Childress Racing. While Harvick won four races this year, it very well could have been eight – at the least. Continued pit road problems led to the swapping of pit crews with the No. 14 of Stewart prior to the Chase. Ever since, the mishaps have stopped and SHR is on the cusp of its second title in four seasons. 


Two of Harvick’s four wins this year came at Phoenix. The other two, Charlotte – a 1.5-mile downforce track in October, and Darlington in April. Darlington is a bit like Homestead, although oblong in shape, it has wide sweeping corners and worn pavement with banking similar to Homestead’s progressive configuration. You’ll have a hard time convincing me – or Harvick – that this race isn’t theirs for the taking. He has the best average finish among this group, and he doesn’t have to worry about laps led or winning the race; the best finish among these four wins the title. 



Joey Logano

Career at Homestead: 5 starts, 0 wins, 0 top 5s, 1 top 10, avg. start: 18.0, avg. finish: 20.8

If there is one car that showed as much consistent speed as the No. 4, it’s been the No. 22 of Logano and crew chief Todd Gordon. While they may have pioneered the now-familiar flared side skirts, this bunch has been bad fast on 1.5-mile tracks this season. They won Texas in the spring on a G-W-C shootout with Gordon, and won at Kansas to guarantee their way into the Eliminator Round. They were fourth at Chicagoland and Charlotte, and were top-5 material at Texas before a blown tire sent the car spinning late in the going. With Keselowski no longer in the Chase and no Roush Fords to fend off, you can bet that Roger Penske’s and Jack Roush’s deep-seeded disdain for all things Toyota and Chevrolet will see that the collective powers of FoMoCo are brought to bear for JoLo.



Ryan Newman

Career at Homestead: 12 starts, 0 wins, 1 top 5, 4 top 10s, avg. start: 12.4, avg. finish: 17.0

No neck? No wins? No problem! 


When Newman confronted Jimmie Johnson in August at Michigan, Johnson’s retort was, “You had the same [earmuffs] I had, but you made a bad decision to put yourself in this position.” 


Define irony, as there are no Hendrick cars to contend with at Homestead, and the only one looking to win a seventh title this weekend is Richard Childress. 


The Rocket Man hasn’t exactly been a win machine, having not won more than one race a year the last 10 years. He may have to win this Sunday considering his competition, but that’s not to say his task is impossible. Three of his last five wins have come courtesy of a G-W-C finish, and if he’s near the front and it comes down to a two-lapper to decide the title, don’t be surprised to see the No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet go full bulldozer-mode and plow through any obstacle in its path. Just ask Kyle Larson.



2014 Sprint Cup Champion:  Joey Logano

It truly is a coin-flip between Harvick and Logano to take it all.


I don’t buy into the hype of having to lose one to win one; it didn’t matter for Keselowski, Gordon, Dale Earnhardt, Richard Petty, Matt Kenseth, Bobby Labonte or Stewart. Different times and eras, of course, and Logano fits in nicely amongst that group. His performance this season has embodied what everyone had expected from him when he became a familiar name back in 2008. He has come to thrive within Team Penske, working with a driver of similar age and experience – and one who is no stranger to conflict with other drivers.


Roger Penske will win his second Cup title in three years with two different car makes, and with only two cars in the stable. This is an engineering organization if there ever was one, and after dominating the Verizon IndyCar Series this season and winning a championship with Will Power and narrowly losing the Indianapolis 500 in the second-closest finish in history, the Sprint Cup Series championship will put an exclamation mark on what has been an incredible 2014 for The Captain and his crew. 



Follow @VitoPugliese on Twitter

Photo by Action Sports, Inc.


Pretenders, contenders and potential championship winners as the NASCAR Sprint Cup Chase concludes at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Post date: Friday, November 14, 2014 - 07:50
Path: /college-basketball/athlon-sports-2014-15-ncaa-tournament-predictions

Athlon Sports would be the first to tell you to sit back and enjoy the college basketball regular season from start to finish.


But let’s face it: The big prize — the only prize, it seems — is the NCAA Tournament. And that’s part of the excitement of the season. Essentially every team has a chance to play in the championship event. Finish in last place in your conference? You’ve got the conference tournament to remedy a lost season.


For us, bracketology starts early. Here’s our first projection of the field of 68.


2FloridaWichita StateNorth CarolinaKansas
4VirginiaIowa StateMichigan StateSan Diego State
5ColoradoGonzagaVCUOhio State
8IllinoisOklahomaKansas StateUConn
9Georgia StateLSUCincinnatiGeorgetown
10Florida StatePittsburghDaytonIowa
11Rhode IslandMemphisUNLVNC State
12Louisiana TechXavier

Notre Dame/

Northern Iowa


George Washington

13BelmontNew Mexico StateGreen BayAkron
14NortheasternStephen F. AustinUC IrvineIona
15Stony BrookCoastal CarolinaWoffordAmerican

St. Francis (NY)/

Weber State


Ark.-Pine Bluff

NC CentralFlorida Gulf Coast

NCAA bids by conference


ACC (9): Duke, North Carolina, Louisville, Virginia, Syracuse, Florida State, NC State, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh

American (4): SMU, Connecticut, Cincinnati, Memphis

Atlantic 10 (4): VCU, Dayton, Rhode Island, George Washington

Big 12 (5): Kansas, Texas, Iowa State, Kansas State, Oklahoma

Big East (3): Villanova, Georgetown, Xavier

Big Ten (7): Wisconsin, Michigan State, Nebraska, Michigan, Ohio State, Illinois, Iowa

Missouri Valley (2): Wichita State, Northern Iowa

Mountain West (2): San Diego State, UNLV

Pac-12 (5): Arizona, Colorado, Stanford, UCLA, Utah

SEC (4): Kentucky, Florida, Arkansas, LSU

West Coast (2): Gonzaga, BYU


One-bid conferences


America East (Stony Brook), Atlantic Sun (Florida Gulf Coast), Big Sky (Weber State), Big Sky (Coastal Carolina), Big West (UC Irvine), Colonial (Northeastern), Conference USA (Louisiana Tech), Horizon (Green Bay), Ivy (Harvard), MAAC (Iona), MAC (Akron), MEAC (NC Central), Northeast (St. Francis Brooklyn), Ohio Valley (Belmont), Patriot (American), Southern (Wofford), Southland (Stephen F. Austin), Summit (IPFW), Sun Belt (Georgia State), SWAC (Arkansas-Pine Bluff), WAC (New Mexico State)

Athlon Sports 2014-15 NCAA Tournament Predictions
Post date: Friday, November 14, 2014 - 07:00
All taxonomy terms: NBA
Path: /nba/ranking-nbas-best-modern-big-men

Being bulky in the NBA has taken a much different look in recent years. New defensive rules and evolving basketball bodies mean that a center or power forward can no longer quite take permanent residence in the post. Simply having some extra size on the enemy isn’t going to beguile contemporary teams. Deep shooting, mobility and passing skills closer to the perimeter have all become staples in today’s frontcourt game. Big men who can boast the skill sets of guards and wingmen are an ever-increasing population.


This is not to say that the classic distinguishing characteristics of big men are gone from our world; they’ve just become more marginal aspects of a larger picture. Some exceptions notwithstanding, it takes a kind of new breed of men in the middle to compete at the highest level in 2014.


5. Al Jefferson

Behold the master of the big man past. Big Al—whose nickname is lately becoming “Professor Al”—has a brilliant, hypnotic touch on the block and a sweet touch with his mid-range shot. Even Mister No. 1 on our list can sometimes be fooled by his crafty veteran footwork:

Jefferson is the centerpiece of his Charlotte Hornets' offense, and can spread defenses beyond the block with a rangy jump shot. He consistently draws a double team almost regardless of where he catches the ball, and opens up the Hornets offensive in a way so big it's hard to measure.


4. Marc Gasol

It comes as no surprise that one of the poster boys of modern, versatile big men comes from abroad, where the frontier of NBA strategy has exploded past the bruising style of the 1990s. Paired with the more vintage, down-low approach of Memphis Grizzlies teammate Zach Randolph, Gasol is allowed to freelance and put his uncanny stamp on the game in myriad ways. Watch Gasol toss the ball to the perimeter with the arc of a league-leading shortshop:

There's almost too much to account for, from the defense's perspective, when a player as big and skilled as Gasol is on the floor. It doesn't hurt his resume being one of the very best defenders of the lane, either—Gasol had a remarkable 5.23 defensive real plus-minus in 2013-14, second in the league for all centers.


3. Joakim Noah

The spirit animal of his domineering coach Tom Thibodeau, Noah is a relentless emotional and intellectual beast who overwhelms the opposition with a critical mass of hustle plays and his vision for seemingly invisible passing lanes. Often referred to as a “point center” as he ran the Chicago Bulls’ offense from outside the lane in 2013-14, Noah is one of the most unique players in the game.


Joakim inspires something like culture shock every time his towering frame takes the ball down the court with an authority and fluidity nearing that of Chris Paul’s. Despite coming in at 6'11", Noah’s comfort on offense has never been as a backdown man. His savant passing, clever off-ball motion and advanced understanding of spacing make for a package that no team wants to deal with.


2. Dwight Howard

Along with then-coach Stan Van Gundy, Dwight Howard formed the template for contemporary rim-protection with the Orlando Magic. A spry, hulky enforcer who can chase sharper-shooting bigs to the perimeter and fall back to the basket fast enough to squash slashers, Howard’s “Superman” moniker is what results from an impressive athlete also mastering the complex tenants of a thorough defensive system.


There’s never been a shortage of Dwight criticism from his predecessors, however. The desk of Shaq and Charles Barkley has long been a petri dish for misunderstandings of a big boy’s role in today’s game, as both beloved figures never miss an opportunity to snipe at Howard for his shortage of aggressive, butt-first action on the block. Howard often kowtows to such rhetoric and stalls his defense trying to perform so to match the moves of yesteryear. But when he blocks out that nostalgic babble and relishes his strengths as a pick-and-roll finisher and defensive demon, D12 points the way toward the paint action of tomorrow.


1. Anthony Davis

Meet the future. The 21-year-old Davis is already putting his New Orleans Pelicans squad on his back for a playoff push in the spiky Western Conference, and doing it by playing basketball like no one has before him. His 6'10" frame makes most people call Davis a center, but the unibrowed phenom’s game can fit into any positional box—but his role probably shouldn’t be squeezed into any of those categories.


AD played a dominant point guard as high-school sensation in Chicago, and his court awareness and coordination frequently remind us how that looked. He’s a threat from any part of the floor not just because he’s bigger, faster and stronger than most of the league, but also because he’s smarter. And he’s made an unparalleled art out of the act of swatting a shot while recovering the ball—a corralling takeaway that acts as a telling symbol for just how singular Davis’ value is. Anthony is the league’s best big man now, but in a few years or less, we might be talking about him as the very top specimen in the game.


— John Wilmes


Post date: Thursday, November 13, 2014 - 15:40
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy Football, NFL, Fantasy
Path: /nfl/fantasy-football-value-picks-bargains-and-sleepers-week-11

We all would like to budget wisely, and it's no different in daily or weekly fantasy football.


If you are playing in a salary-capped game at either FanDuel or DraftKings, here are a few value plays and bargains at the quarterback, running back, wide receiver, and tight end positions for Week 11 of the NFL season that should allow you to hold on to some of that money to spend on the big-name studs.


Only two more weeks of byes. We lose four teams this week, two the next and then you have a full slate the rest of the way. Gone from your lineups this week are players from Baltimore, Dallas, Jacksonville, and the New York Jets.


VALUE PLAYS (salaries in parenthesis are that of FanDuel's and DraftKings)



1.) Derek Carr, Oakland vs. San Diego ($6600/5100)

The Chargers are the third-friendliest team to QBs over the last five weeks (four games). Carr was part of that run when he threw for 282 yards, four touchdowns, and one interception in the teams' Week 6 meeting. Carr has since thrown five touchdown passes in four games, including two apiece in the last two games. He has, however, also thrown for under 200 in three of the last four, and two interceptions in each of the last two. The Chargers have not recorded an interception since picking off Carr in Week 6, and have just four this season.


2.) Teddy Bridgewater, Minnesota vs. Chicago ($6600/5900)

This is opportunity over talent, and let's see if the rookie can capitalize. The Bears have been blasted, historically blasted to the tune of back-to-back 50-spots against them the last two games. In those 50-pointers were 11 touchdown passes and no interceptions. Of course those quarterbacks were Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers. Bridgewater, who threw no touchdowns and three interceptions in his first three starts has bounced back with a scoring strike in each of his last three games to just two interceptions (both in Week 7). Even without the last two games for Chicago's defense, they were still surrendering the eighth-most points to QBs; they lead the pack now by more than 2 fantasy points per game.


3.) Matt Ryan, Atlanta vs. Carolina ($7700/6400)

The Panthers allow the fourth-most points to QBs, and have given up multiple touchdown passes in seven games. Ryan has thrown for multiple TDs in just four games this season, but did do so against the Panthers in their Week 17 meeting last season (2 TDs, 1 INT, 280 yards).



1.) Ryan Mathews, San Diego vs. Oakland ($6200/4500)

Mathews is expected to make his return to the field for the first time since suffering a knee sprain on Sept. 14. In his return he gets a Raiders team that is third friendliest to RBs over the last five weeks (five games). Five rushing touchdowns, two receiving touchdowns, and 832 total yards from scrimmage have been surrendered to RBs against the Raiders over the last five games.


2.) Steven Jackson, Atlanta at Carolina ($6700/4400)

The Panthers have allowed the seventh-most points to RBs over the last five weeks (five games) and sixth most this season. Carolina has allowed eight of its 11 rushing touchdowns over the last five games, and 486 rushing yards in that span. Jackson has put together back-to-back double-digit games for the first time this season, rushing for 141 yards and two scores


3.) Frank Gore, San Francisco vs. New York Giants ($7000/4500)

Gore has underwhelmed this season, but is coming off of a 23-carry game last week in New Orleans. It produced 81 yards and a score for his best game since his last 20-carry effort (Week 4 vs. Philadelphia). The Giants have allowed the most yards (675) to running backs along with the third-most TDs (6) over the last five weeks (four games). 



1.) Andre Holmes, Oakland vs. San Diego ($6300/3700)

Holmes torched the Chargers when he caught four balls for 121 yards and two scores on eight targets from Derek Carr in the Week 6 meeting. He plays just over 60 percent of the snaps, and had been targeted an average of 5.6 times per game until a one-target dud against Denver's corners last week. It is a complete flier, but one with a recent history of success against a San Diego team that has allowed the most fantasy points to WRs over the last five weeks (four games).


2.) Pierre Garcon, Washington vs. Tampa Bay ($6500/4000)

No team has been more generous to WRs this season than Tampa Bay. The Buccaneers have allowed 14 touchdowns and nearly 1,700 yards to the position. Garcon has been a 50-50 guy this season in PPR setups and below average in standard leagues as he is no longer the X receiver for the Redskins under Jay Gruden. You are betting on the bargain, the recent history of what the Bucs allow, and the history between Garcon and Robert Griffin III.


3.) Kendall Wright, Tennessee vs. Pittsburgh ($6400/4600)

Wright has 50-plus yards receiving in each of his last three games, and three touchdowns over the last five weeks. The Steelers have allowed at least 70 yards to a WR eight times this season, including two Colts going for 113-plus in Week 8. 



1.) Kyle Rudolph, Minnesota vs. Chicago ($N/A/3600)

Rudolph (groin) is expected to return this week for the first time since September. If he plays Sunday, it will be against a Chicago team that has allowed the most points to TEs per game this season. The Bears have surrendered 352 yards (third most) and seven scores to TEs. Rudolph had a TD, seven catches and 69 yards in two full healthy games to begin this season. This would be his first action since Week 3.


2.) Larry Donnell, New York Giants vs. San Francisco ($5200/3900)

The 49ers are allowing the seventh-most points to TEs over the last five weeks (four games), having surrendered 231 yards and three scores. Donnell has received 21 targets over the last three weeks, the most of any Giants players, turning them into 15 catches for 141 yards and a score.


3.) Mychal Rivera, Oakland vs. San Diego ($5800/3100)

Rivera continued his hot streak in Week 10, posting his second straight double-digit fantasy day. He has 21 catches on 28 targets for 185 yards and three scores the last three weeks.  


@Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter

Fantasy Football Value Picks, Bargains and Sleepers for Week 11
Post date: Thursday, November 13, 2014 - 12:15
All taxonomy terms: ACC, College Football, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac 12, SEC, News
Path: /college-football/athlon-sports-cover-2-podcast-2014-week-12-predictions


Hosts Braden Gall and Steven Lassan preview a huge slate of action in the SEC, including a playoff showdown between Mississippi State and Alababam. The guys break down the marquee showdown in the Big Ten and ACC as well. We also offer up some locks of the week against the spread.

Send any ideas, questions or comments to @BradenGall or @AthlonSteven or email [email protected]. The podcast can be found on, iTunes, Stitcher and our podcast RSS feed.

Athlon Sports Cover 2 Podcast: 2014 Week 12 Predictions
Post date: Thursday, November 13, 2014 - 11:12
All taxonomy terms: NFL
Path: /nfl/10-biggest-disappointments-nfl-so-far-2014

More than halfway through the NFL season, most “experts” have already thrown their preseason predictions out the window. But the predictions back then weren’t as ridiculous as they seem now. They were probably based on reasonable expectations.


Then teams, units or players started falling woefully short.


That’s just how it goes in sports. Disappointments are a big part of the games. So with only seven weeks left until the NFL playoffs start, here’s a look at the league’s biggest disappointments. They’re either disappointing teams in general, or the units, players or coaches that have caused their teams to fall short:


The Chicago Bears offense

They are unbelievably loaded with weapons to make Jay Cutler’s life easier. There are few receiving corps as talented as Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffrey. Martellus Bennett developed into one of the best pass-catching tight ends in the league. And whatever Matt Forte lacks as a runner, he makes up for as a dual-threat as a receiver out of the backfield. Yet the Bears are 3-6 and their offense ranks 15th in the NFL. Cutler’s numbers aren’t even terrible, but clearly the Bears should be scoring a lot more than they are.


The New Orleans Saints

They were a trendy pick to win the Super Bowl because they seemed to have it all, including a rejuvenated Rob Ryan defense. Then they stumbled out of the gate in part because that defense (now ranked 19th) turned out to be much worse than expected. The Saints are still in good position in the awful NFC South, but at 4-5 they are hardly the NFC power many thought they would be.


Redskins QB Robert Griffin III

Finally back to health and free of any Mike Shanahan-caused controversy, this was supposed to be RGIII’s breakout season. But yet another injury – a dislocated ankle – has limited him to only two full games this season. He’s back now and maybe things will get better. But he still has just one TD pass in his two starts, which is less than anyone expected given all the weapons around him.


Panthers QB Cam Newton

The fourth-year quarterback’s numbers took a dip last season, but he became a winner and showed signs of maturing into the franchise quarterback many expected him to be. But this year he’s become a little more erratic, his interceptions are surging, and he’s been far more sack-able behind a suspect offensive line. Maybe it has more to do with the crumbling cast around him, but Newton is taking steps backwards this year.


Bucs coach Lovie Smith

The confusion and controversy of the Greg Schiano era was supposed to be vanquished by the arrival of Smith, an ultra-professional coach who had plenty of success in Chicago. The Bucs were supposed to be underachievers in the past, which seemed to set up a successful quick transition. Instead, the Bucs began the season mired in a quarterback controversy and now they’re 1-8, searching for talent and an identity. It looks like it’ll take Smith a lot longer than expected to turn this mess around.


The Atlanta Falcons

They were the biggest disappointments in the NFL last season, plummeting from one of the best teams in the NFC to one of the worst. But they had so much talent – especially on offense – that last year could easily be excused as an anomaly. It wasn’t. The offense is a little better, but their defense is the second-worst in the NFL, leaving them at 3-6 and barely holding their heads above water in the worst division in the NFL.


The New York Giants defense

They spoke before the season of how they could carry a still-growing offense and even be one of the Top 5 defenses in the league. Instead, as their rebuilt secondary crumbled around them, they plummeted to rock bottom. The Giants rank dead last in the NFL in defense right now, and they earned it with a horrendous performance in Seattle on Sunday when then gave up an incredible 350 yards on the ground.


Bengals QB Andy Dalton

In August, Dalton signed a six-year, $115 million contract which seemed to solidify his place among the best up-and-coming quarterbacks in the game. But he has taken a nosedive, especially lately. More than halfway through the season he’s even thrown more interceptions (nine) than touchdown passes (eight). Now there are serious questions about whether the Bengals invested in the right quarterback, and whether they’ll need to find a way out of that deal in a couple of years.


Packers RB Eddie Lacy

When Lacy rushed for 1,178 yards as a rookie last year it seemed to be only the beginning. He was on a terrific team with the pressure off because of MVP-candidate Aaron Rodgers. His performance has been fine – especially since it can be argued he’s been underused – but fantasy owners surely are dissappointed in his 478 yards and four touchdowns through nine games. It’s not that he’s having a bad season. It’s more that expectations were much, much higher than what he’s done.


Lions RB Reggie Bush

The last three years Bush finally was starting to live up to his potential and looking like a former top draft pick. And this year, even at age 29, he figured to build on what he had started on a team loaded with offensive talent. Instead, with injuries slowing him down, he’s starting to show his age and no longer looking like anything other than a part-time running back. With 191 rushing yards and 169 receiving yards, he actually looks like a guy playing his way right out of the league.


—By Ralph Vacchiano

Post date: Thursday, November 13, 2014 - 10:40
All taxonomy terms: AFC, AFC East, Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins, NFL, News
Path: /nfl/buffalo-bills-vs-miami-dolphins-preview-and-prediction

There's no rest for a pair of weary and discouraged AFC East teams this week, as the Buffalo Bills and Miami Dolphins look to bounce back tonight on the NFL Network. Both the Bills (5-4) and Dolphins (5-4) suffered disappointing, largely self-inflicted Week 10 losses and now must head back into action off a short week of practice for a matchup that amounts to a playoff elimination game for the loser. This longstanding divisional rivalry has tilted in Buffalo's direction of late, as the Bills are gunning for their fourth straight win over the Dolphins 


Buffalo Bills at Miami Dolphins


Kickoff: 8:25 p.m. ET

TV Channel: NFL Network

Spread: Miami -5.5


Three Things to Watch


1. Fight for Survival

Two 5–4 teams in must-win mode collide at Sun Life Stadium. Both the Dolphins and the Bills are two games behind the division-leading Patriots, but more alarming is the fact that nine of the 11 AFC teams with winning records are ahead of these two teams in the playoff race. But before even contemplating the big picture, these teams must apply a laser focus to what amounts to a win-or-stay-home-for-January game. Their respective margins for error grew smaller this past Sunday with a pair of missed opportunities. The Bills blew a 13–3 lead against the Chiefs, while the Miami offense was MIA in a 20–16 loss to Detroit. "We can't change anything. It's time to get ready for Miami," said Bills safety Aaron Williams. "If we want to get back to the playoffs, this is a really important game."


2. Playing Takeaway

The turnover battle plays a big part in every game, but especially in a division game between evenly matched teams. Both the Bills and Dolphins are plus-5 in the turnover department, seventh in the league, and they're in a three-way tie with the Cardinals for second in the NFL with 19 takeaways apiece. But both teams lost the turnover battle in disappointing Week 10 losses. The Bills had a particularly devastating miscue against the Chiefs when Bryce Brown fumbled out of the back of the end zone on his way in for a touchdown and a 17–3 lead in a game the Bills ultimately lost 17–13. Look for the Bills to be especially careful with the football this week after having the importance of ball security drummed into their heads by coach Doug Marrone. "We had an opportunity to get to 6-3," he said. "Now we're going to have to fight our way back and come back and find a way to win our next game."


3. Protecting Tannehill

Buffalo leads the NFL with 34 sacks, including six in the Bills' most recent game against Kansas City. The Dolphins are playing with a patchwork offensive line, and quarterback Ryan Tannehill has been sacked 18 times in five starts against the Bills. Left tackle Branden Albert is lost for the season to a knee injury, and left guard Darryn Colledge is still nursing a back injury and could miss a third straight start. The ingredients are in place for a long and painful afternoon for Tannehill. It will be up to a couple of young Tennessee products — rookie Ju'Wuan James at left tackle and second-year man Dallas Thomas at right tackle — to keep Tannehill upright and open lanes for whoever's healthy enough to carry the football. "What you saw is probably what you're going to get (Thursday)," coach Joe Philbin said of the line's performance in the Dolphins' season-worst 228-yard outing against Detroit. "Those guys weren't perfect, but overall I thought they held their own.”


Final Analysis


Buffalo beat Miami 29–10 in September and are gunning for its fourth straight win in the head-to-head series, while the Dolphins are literally limping into this game off a short week with a taped-together offensive line and a lead running back (Lamar Miller) who's nursing a sore shoulder. The last time Miami played at home, the Dolphins dominated the Chargers 37–0 on Nov. 2, but suddenly, that seems like a long time ago. 

Prediction: Buffalo 24, Miami 17
Buffalo Bills vs. Miami Dolphins Preview and Prediction
Post date: Thursday, November 13, 2014 - 10:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football, News
Path: /college-football/big-ten-2014-week-12-preview-and-predictions

Welcome to the spotlight, Ohio State and Nebraska.


Just as Michigan State bows out of the playoff race and the national top 10, Ohio State and Nebraska takes the Spartans’ place at least in terms of being the  face of the Big Ten down the stretch.


Certainly, both teams have work to do to be considered legitimate playoff contenders, and both probably need help from teams in the top seven of Tuesday’s rankings.


Saturday will be a chance for both to continue to build their case as factors on the national scene.


Nebraska faces perhaps its top challenger for the Big Ten West division when it visits Wisconsin while Ohio State tries to follow its landmark win over Michigan State with a road win over a newly ranked Minnesota team.


The Big Ten needs Nebraska and Ohio State to reach the league title game as one-loss squads for its playoff hopes to remain alive. This will be one of the key weeks for the Cornhuskers and Buckeyes to achieve that goal.

Week 12 Previews and Predictions:
ACC | Big 12 | Pac-12 | SEC


Big Ten Week 12 Game Power Rankings

All games Saturday. All times Eastern.


1. Nebraska at Wisconsin

3:30 p.m., ABC 

The Big Ten West won’t necessarily be won Saturday, but the winner will be the clear frontrunner. Both Nebraska and Wisconsin finish with Minnesota and Iowa. Those stakes, though, seems secondary compared to the showdown between Heisman-contending tailbacks — and friends — Melvin Gordon and Ameer Abdullah. Combined, they’ve rushed for 2,751 yards and 36 touchdowns. Both Nebraska and Wisconsin, though, have emerging stars in the front seven. Cornhuskers defensive end Randy Gregory is one of the nation’s stop pass rushers, and Nebraska coach Bo Pelini has compared his rising star defensive tackle Maliek Collins to LSU’s Glenn Dorsey. At the same time, Wisconsin outside linebacker Vince Biegel has recorded 10 tackles for a loss in the last five games.


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2. Ohio State at Minnesota

Noon, ABC

What should we make of Minnesota? The Gophers needed a second-half comeback to beat Purdue 39-38 at home and a week later lost 28-24 to an Illinois team down to its second-string quarterback. So, naturally, Minnesota went on to beat Iowa 51-14 with an uncharacteristically effective passing attack. Minnesota may need that kind of balance from Mitch Leidner for any shot of an upset of the Buckeyes, but the run game could help neutralize the impact of Big Ten sack leader Joey Bosa. Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett is an emerging star, but Minnesota has done a good job of limiting explosive pass plays. The Gophers lead the Big Ten in fewest yards per pass attempt (5.5) and fewest passing plays of 30 yards or more (four).


3. Michigan State at Maryland

8 p.m., Big Ten Network

Michigan State is in a rare spot compared to the last two seasons — the Spartans don’t have a clear carrot in front of them. The Spartans are coming off their first Big Ten loss since 2012 and have seen their playoff hopes evaporate with the 49-37 loss to Ohio State. Maryland is a solid team, but Oregon and Ohio State needed at least 490 total yards and 46 points to beat Michigan State this season. Maryland hasn’t hit either of those marks against an FBS team this season. Making matters worse, the Terrapins will be without receiver Stefon Diggs, who is out with a lacerated kidney.


4. Temple at Penn State

Noon, ESPN2

Penn State is 37-0-1 against Temple since the Owls’ last win in the series in 1941, but the margin is getting closer. The last three Penn State wins have come by an average margin of eight points. The average Penn State win from 1977-2009 was by more than four touchdowns. The book on Penn State this season remains unchanged from September — the defense plays lights out, the offensive line and run game are a mess, and quarterback Christian Hackenberg is frustrated. Get ready for another low-scoring slog for Penn State: Temple is seventh in the American in yards per play and fifth in yards allowed per play.


5. Iowa at Illinois

Noon, Big Ten Network

How much worse could it get for Iowa this season? The Hawkeyes have already lost to Iowa State (winless in the Big 12), Maryland and Minnesota in a rout. Just a reminder: Illinois beat Minnesota, a team that drubbed Iowa by 37 last week. Illinois returns quarterback Wes Lunt this week after the Oklahoma State transfer missed the last three games with a broke bone in his leg. Lunt has completed 66.5 percent of his passes this season with 13 touchdowns and three interceptions.


6. Northwestern at Notre Dame

3:30 p.m., NBC

Northwestern likes to claim it is Chicago’s Big Ten team while Notre Dame may be the most popular team in the area. Chicago may want to disown both after recent games. Northwestern is coming off its fourth consecutive loss, the latest an avert-your-eyes 10-9 effort against Michigan. Only Penn State has given up more sacks in the Big Ten than Northwestern’s 3.2 per game. Notre Dame, meanwhile, continues to be turnover-prone as quarterback Everett Golson coughed up the ball five times in a 55-31 loss to Arizona State.


7. Indiana at Rutgers

3:30 p.m., Big Ten Network

After a run of three ranked teams — at Ohio State, at Nebraska and Wisconsin — Rutgers has a more manageable opponent this week against Indiana. And it’s an important one for the Scarlet Knights, looking to become bowl eligible in their final home game before visiting Michigan State and Maryland. Indiana’s offense has fallen apart since the season-ending injury to Nate Sudfeld. The Hoosiers have passed for 103 yards — total — in the last three games.


Big Ten Week 12 Staff Picks


 David FoxBraden GallSteven LassanMitch Light

Temple at Penn State (-11)

Temple 13-10PSU 27-10PSU 24-17PSU 20-13

Iowa (-5 1/2) at Illinois

Ill 21-14Iowa 27-20Iowa 31-20Iowa 27-20

Ohio State (-12) at Minnesota

OSU 38-21OSU 40-20OSU 34-17OSU 41-17

Nebraska at Wisconsin (-6)

Neb 28-14Wisc 29-28Wisc 27-24Wisc 31-20

Northwestern at Notre Dame (-18)

ND 35-10ND 40-21ND 38-17ND 28-14

Indiana at Rutgers (-7 1/2)

Rut 21-7Rut 27-17Rut 30-20Rut 30-20

Michigan St (-12) at Maryland

MSU 42-14MSU 41-17MSU 34-20MSU 31-23
Last week3-22-33-23-2
This season68-2365-2568-2362-29


Big Ten 2014 Week 12 Preview and Predictions
Post date: Thursday, November 13, 2014 - 09:00
Path: /college-football/sec-2014-week-12-preview-and-predictions

The latest installment of the Game of the Year in the SEC takes place in Tuscaloosa, where Alabama hosts No. 1 Mississippi State in a crucial SEC West clash. Elsewhere, Auburn tries to get back on track against Georgia in Athens; Florida hopes to keep its offensive momentum going against South Carolina; Arkansas seeks to break its SEC losing streak against LSU; Tennessee and Kentucky meet in Knoxville; and Missouri visits Texas A&M in a battle of former Big 12 rivals.

Week 12 Previews and Predictions:
ACC | Big 12 | Big Ten Pac-12 


SEC Week 12 Game Power Rankings


1. Mississippi State (+8.5) at Alabama (3:30 ET, CBS)

These neighboring schools have played 97 times since their first meeting in 1896. Never has so much been at stake. Mississippi State is undefeated and ranked No. 1 in the nation. Alabama is 8–1 overall and 5–1 in the SEC. The winner will seize control of the SEC West race (though both teams still have significant challenges ahead) and be well-situated for a spot in the College Football Playoff. Alabama probably cannot afford a loss; the Tide simply don’t have enough quality wins (even with a potential win against Auburn) to make the four-team field with two defeats. So this game is obviously vital for Nick Saban’s club. Mississippi State is in better shape, but the Bulldogs have a difficult closing slate, with trips to Alabama and Ole Miss among their final three games. MSU has been outstanding on offense all season but has been mediocre (at best) defensively, allowing 548 yards to UAB, 526 to Texas A&M and 504 to Kentucky. And it will be these deficiencies on defense that will knock Mississippi State from the ranks of the unbeaten.


Listen to the Week 12 predictions podcast:

Subscribe: iTunes | Stitcher


2. Auburn (+2.5) at Georgia (7:15 ET, ESPN)

Certain weeks, Georgia looks like a top-five team in the country. Other weeks, the Bulldogs look quite average. Last Saturday was one of the good weeks. Georgia jumped out to a 21–0 lead at Kentucky and cruised to an impressive 63–31 victory. True freshman Nick Chubb was once again brilliant, rushing for 170 yards on only 13 carries — his fourth straight game with at least 140 yards. Chubb will be joined in the backfield this week by Todd Gurley, who was a Heisman Trophy favorite before being slapped with a four-game suspension. Gurley’s return will no doubt help, but it’s not like the running game was an area of weakness while he was out. Auburn must regroup after a shocking loss at home to Texas A&M. The Tigers battled from behind all game and had two opportunities to take the lead in the final minutes but fumbled twice in A&M territory. Many have assumed that loss eliminated Auburn from the Playoff picture, but the Tigers, if they win out, would have road wins at Kansas State, Ole Miss, Georgia and Alabama, plus a win at home vs. LSU. That would be by far the most impressive résumé for a two-loss team. Auburn by 3


3. South Carolina (+6.5) at Florida (12 ET, SEC Network)

Florida’s resurgence in recent weeks has coincided with the move from Jeff Driskel to true freshman Treon Harris as the starting quarterback. Harris wasn’t asked to do much in the Gators’ 38–20 win vs. Georgia two weeks ago, but he showed his entire skill set in last week’s 34–10 victory at Vanderbilt. Harris threw for 215 yards on only 13 completions and added 49 yards rushing and two scores on the ground in Florida’s 24-point win. For the first time in several years, the Gators’ offense appears to have an identity. Offense has not been the issue at South Carolina. It’s the Gamecocks’ inability to stop the other team that has led to their current four-game SEC losing streak. In the last two games, they have given up a total of 1,196 total yards, including a staggering 739 on the ground. Not good with the one-two punch of Matt Jones and Kelvin Taylor on the horizon.


4. LSU (+2) at Arkansas (8 ET, ESPN 2)

Let’s get this straight: Arkansas, a team that has lost 17 straight SEC games, is favored over LSU, which has won three of its last four league games — with the only lose coming in overtime to Alabama? Do the boys in Vegas believe the Razorbacks are ready to break through, or is this just a lack of faith in a young LSU team that is playing a true road game for only the third time this season? It’s probably a little bit of both. Arkansas has played very well at times this season and could easily have a win or two in the league. And LSU, despite its recent run of success, is still shaky on the offensive side of the ball. Last week, sophomore quarterback Anthony Jennings completed only 8-of-26 passes for 76 yards in the loss to Alabama, and he has not completed more than 10 passes in a game since the Tigers’ 36–29 loss vs. Mississippi State in September.


5. Kentucky (+8.5) at Tennessee (4 ET, SEC Network)

The stakes are high for these two programs, both with second-year head coaches and both desperate to reach bowl-eligibility for the first time since 2010. Tennessee, with a softer closing schedule, is in better shape despite having one fewer win than Kentucky. The Vols are rejuvenated after rallying to beat South Carolina in overtime two weeks ago, though coach Butch Jones spent the bye week advising everyone to pump the breaks on the Joshua Dobbs hype. The sophomore quarterback was brilliant at South Carolina but still lacks — according to his coach — the consistency needed to play the position at a high level. Dobbs will have to play well for his team to pick up win No. 5 on Saturday.


6. Missouri (+5.5) at Texas A&M (7:30 ET, SEC Network)

This is quite telling: The SEC East leader (Missouri) is a 5.5-point favorite over a team tied for fifth in the West (Texas A&M). And it’s not surprising. Missouri is 4–1 in the league despite averaging no more than 4.1 yards per offensive play in four of its five league games. The Tigers have gotten it done with a high-level pass rush, by forcing turnovers and by making clutch plays on offense down the stretch. Texas A&M got its swagger back last week with a stunning win at Auburn. With Mizzou and LSU both visiting Kyle Field down the stretch, a nine-win regular season is suddenly within reach.  


Week 12 SEC Predictions

 David FoxBraden GallSteven LassanMitch Light
S. Carolina at FloridaUSC 24-21UF 24-21UF 27-24UF 34-25
Miss State at AlabamaUA 31-21UA 30-20UA 27-20UA 20-17
Kentucky at TennesseeUT 28-14UT 38-31UT 31-24UT 24-20
Auburn at GeorgiaAU 35-31UGa 38-35UGa 34-31AU 30-24
Missouri at Texas A&MA&M 30-21A&M 40-31A&M 31-27A&M 31-20
LSU at ArkansasLSU 21-17LSU 23-20UA 24-20UA 20-13
Last Week5-15-15-15-1


Post date: Thursday, November 13, 2014 - 09:00
Path: /college-football/big-12-2014-week-12-preview-and-predictions

There is no way the Big 12's Week 12 slate will be able to match last weekend’s drama. TCU made a national statement, Baylor did something it’s never done in school history, Texas continued to right the ship and Kansas, well, acted all Kansas after beating Iowa State.


Yes, Texas’ visit to Stillwater should be plenty entertaining. But that’s about it in the Big 12 this weekend.

Week 12 Previews and Predictions:
ACC | Big Ten | Pac-12 | SEC

Big 12 Week 12 Game Power Rankings


1. Texas (-2.5) at Oklahoma St
7:30 p.m., FOX

Crowd-surfing Charlie Strong was literally riding high after an upset over West Virginia got the Longhorns back to even on the year. Texas is doing it the way Strong supporters have envisioned: Run the football on offense and play stifling defense. The Horns ran for 241 yards against Texas Tech and 227 against the Mountaineers while holding both high-powered passing attacks in check. While the Horns come to Stillwater riding their first two-game winning steak of the year, the Cowboys are looking to snap a three-game losing streak. Is two weeks of preparation enough to fix a team that has lost three straight by an average of 30 points per game? With road trips to Baylor and Oklahoma left, the Pokes are staring at a six-game losing streak to end the year if they can’t upset the Horns.


Listen to the Week 12 predictions podcast:

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2. Oklahoma (-17) at Texas Tech
3:30 p.m., ESPN

For the first time in his career, Bob Stoops is starting to take some heat in Norman. While that might be completely irrational, the facts are Oklahoma has slipped over the last half-decade. Stoops is facing a four-loss season for the first time since 2005 and has been outplayed in convincing fashion in two lopsided losses to Baylor. The Sooners have a manageable final few weeks but have to win their final road game against a team that has had two weeks to prepare. If Oklahoma can take care of business against an overmatched Red Raiders squad in Lubbock, the Sooners will likely finish 9-3 and would still be very attractive to bowl executives. This season can only be described as disappointing, and it could get worse with Stoops one bad upset away from his worst campaign in a decade.


3. TCU (-28) at Kansas
3 p.m., FS1

Gary Patterson clearly understands the art of politicking (see postgame comments about Sterling Shepard) and that could make for a rough weekend for Kansas. TCU is ahead of Baylor in the playoff rankings, but with a head-to-head loss on its resume, how long will that last? Trevone Boykin was brilliant on the ground and the Horned Frogs' defense was stellar against Kansas State so will the Jayhawks even be competitive? Don't expect Patterson to call off the dogs, not when his team is in desperate need of style points over the final few weeks of the season.


Big 12 Predictions:
 Braden GallMitch LightDavid FoxSteven Lassan
Texas (-2.5) at OSUTexas, 30-24Texas, 17-14Texas, 21-13Texas, 27-17
Okla. (-17) at T. TechOkla., 44-21Okla., 41-20Okla., 38-17Okla., 45-20
TCU (-28) at KansasTCU, 49-10TCU, 44-17TCU, 41-7TCU, 45-10
Last Week:1-33-11-31-3


Big 12 2014 Week 12 Preview and Predictions
Post date: Thursday, November 13, 2014 - 09:00
Path: /college-football/pac-12-2014-week-12-preview-and-predictions

Survive and advance would be the theme of a rather uninspiring weekend of action on tap in the Pac-12.


The Ducks are at home resting for their final two tests of the regular season with the North Division all but wrapped up. But in the South, the name of the game in Week 12 is don’t slip up. USC, Arizona and Arizona State all still have a shot at the Pac-12 title game and all three are double-digit favorites this weekend.

Week 12 Previews and Predictions:
ACC | Big 12 | Big Ten | SEC

Pac-12 Week 12 Game Power Rankings


1. Washington (+9) at Arizona
3:30 p.m., FOX

The Wildcats still control their own destiny with a home date versus Arizona State looming in the season finale. So holding serve at home against a team it should beat is obviously critical. Anu Solomon got back on track last weekend with a huge game against Colorado but he will face a much more physical and disruptive front seven this week. Washington is second in the league in sacks and tackles for a loss but struggled to stop Brett Hundley last weekend. The Huskies will have to win on defense because Chris Petersen’s offense isn’t capable of keeping pace with Rich Rodriguez' if this turns into a shootout.


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2. Arizona St (-10) at Oregon St
10:45 p.m., ESPN

Despite dominating the overall history of the series (26-13-1), Arizona State has struggled mightily with the Beavers recently. The Sun Devils have lost four of the last six overall and three straight in Corvallis. That said, Oregon State has lost six straight home Pac-12 games. Something has to give. Sean Mannion has gotten back on track in the last two games, throwing for 739 yards in losses to Washington and Cal. The same could be said for Taylor Kelly, who had his best game since returning from injury in the win over Notre Dame. As long as Todd Graham’s rebuilt defense stays aggressive and can attack a Beavers offensive line that ranks last in the league in sacks allowed (3.11 per game), Arizona State should return home unscathed.


3. Cal (+14.5) at USC
Thur., 9 p.m., ESPN

When Cal has the ball, this will be a battle of strength on strength as the Bears rank No. 2 in the league at 41.9 points per game and USC ranks No. 2 at 22.6 points per game allowed. When USC has the ball, this will be a battle of strength on weakness. USC, led by the sterling play of Cody Kessler, is scoring 34.9 points per game while Sonny Dykes' defense ranks dead last in the league at 39.9 points allowed per game. At home with a division crown still very much within reach, USC’s defense should be the difference. Cal’s only shot at the two-touchdown road upset is Jared Goff, the Bears' incredibly impressive second-year starting quarterback.  While the Trojans defense leads the Pac-12 with 11 interceptions and has been stingy on the scoreboard, it hasn’t pressured opposing QBs and has allowed plenty of yards through the air. Goff must be brilliant if Cal wants to pull the upset and get to bowl eligibility.


4. Utah (+7) at Stanford
6 p.m., P12 Net

Two of the best defenses and two of the most painful offenses to watch will do battle in Palo Alto this weekend. Stanford (4.11 ypp) and Utah (5.09) hold opponents to the lowest yards per play in the Pac-12 and both offenses rank 75th or worse nationally in yards per game. Utah, despite taking major strides forward this season, has lost close games and probably feels like it should be in the Pac-12 South mix rather than staring at three straight losses. Stanford can’t seem to build any momentum, alternating wins and losses in six straight games. Whichever struggling quarterback can protect the football against a nasty pass rush will give his team the best chance to win. Home field advantage and the revenge factor gives Stanford an edge entering this weekend.


Pac-12 Predictions:
 Braden GallMitch LightDavid FoxSteven Lassan
Wash (+9) at ZonaZona, 34-28Zona, 40-30Zona, 34-23Zona, 31-27
ASU (-10) at OSUASU, 38-27ASU, 44-20ASU, 28-17ASU, 38-20
Cal (+14.5) at USC USC, 40-20USC, 34-30USC, 28-20USC, 41-30
Utah (+7) at StanfordStan., 21-17Stan., 20-17Utah, 14-10 Stan., 24-20
Last Week:3-23-24-13-2


Pac-12 2014 Week 12 Preview and Predictions
Post date: Thursday, November 13, 2014 - 09:00
Path: /college-football/acc-2014-week-12-preview-and-predictions

Rivalry week is usually reserved for the last full Saturday of action in November, but three intriguing rivalry matchups in the ACC headline a slate with national and conference title implications.

Florida State travels to Miami, and with a win over the Hurricanes, the Seminoles would clinch a spot in the ACC Championship. And of course, there are bigger goals for Florida State ahead, as coach Jimbo Fisher’s team hopes to climb higher than No. 3 in the playoff committee rankings.

Clemson-Georgia Tech has potential Orange Bowl implications, while NC State hosts Wake Forest in a key game for bowl eligibility for the Wolfpack.

Elsewhere in the ACC, Pittsburgh travels to North Carolina and Duke hosts Virginia Tech.


Week 12 Previews and Predictions:

Big 12Big TenPac-12SEC


ACC Week 12 Game Power Rankings


1. Florida State (-2) at Miami
8 p.m. ET, ABC

With Florida State riding a 25-game winning streak, combined with Miami’s improvement in 2014, there’s some spark returning in this rivalry. This game is always huge in terms of recruiting, but this rivalry has lost a little of its luster in recent years, largely due to Miami’s decline on the gridiron. The Seminoles have won four in a row over the Hurricanes and seven out of the last nine in this series. Coach Jimbo Fisher is undefeated against Miami, and Florida State has won the last two meetings by at least 13 points. This year’s matchup should be closer, as the Seminoles aren’t as dominant as they were in 2013, and the Hurricanes have improved in coach Al Golden’s fourth year. Florida State’s biggest problem in 2014 has been the play of its offensive and defensive lines. And stopping the run is a huge concern for the Seminoles on Saturday night, as Miami running back Duke Johnson is averaging 168.6 rushing yards over his last five games. Florida State is giving up 135.7 yards per game on the ground, but Johnson will be the best running back this team has played. In addition to Johnson’s performance, two other areas are worth noting in Miami’s improvement. Freshman quarterback Brad Kaaya leads the ACC in rating (157.64), and the defense is allowing only 4.3 yards per play in conference games. Miami is certainly improved on defense, but the Hurricanes have not played an offense of Florida State’s potential. The Seminoles average 39.3 points per game in conference action, and quarterback Jameis Winston should be able to attack a secondary that has allowed back-to-back games of at least 60 percent completion percentage. There’s no doubt Miami has improved. But will the Hurricanes’ recent play against weaker Coastal teams translate against one of the best squads in the nation? Or will Florida State resume its dominance in the series?


Listen to the Week 12 predictions podcast:

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2. Clemson (-3) at Georgia Tech


This matchup may not seem like a huge game in terms of national importance, but assuming Florida State reaches the college football playoff, Clemson or Georgia Tech could play in the Orange Bowl against a team from the Big Ten, SEC or Notre Dame. With major bowl implications and a rivalry aspect between these two teams, there’s plenty on the line in Atlanta this Saturday. Clemson is expected to get true freshman Deshaun Watson back at quarterback, and the offense has received a boost from running back Wayne Gallman (back-to-back 100-yard efforts) over the last two games. The Yellow Jackets are allowing 6.4 yards per play but have helped their defensive woes by forcing 21 turnovers. While Georgia Tech’s defense will have its hands full against Watson and a potent offense, the Yellow Jackets create plenty of challenges for Clemson’s defense. The Tigers are first in the nation in third-down defense, while Georgia Tech is converting 59.3 percent of its third-down opportunities (best in the nation on offense). Clemson allows just 69 yards on the ground in ACC contests, but that number should be challenged by the Yellow Jackets’ option attack, which is averaging 335.6 yards per game. Quarterback Justin Thomas is the offensive catalyst for coach Paul Johnson, but Synjyn Days has three 100-yard efforts, and Zach Laskey (595 yards) and Charles Perkins (10.9 ypc) are expected to return from injury this week. Clemson has won three out of the last four meetings in this series but lost its last trip to Atlanta (31-17 in 2011).

3. Pittsburgh at North Carolina (-2)
12:30 p.m. ET, ACC Network/ESPN3


With Pittsburgh and North Carolina each sporting a 4-5 record, Saturday’s meeting is critical to bowl eligibility. The Panthers have lost five out of their last six games, while the Tar Heels won two in a row before a 47-20 defeat at Miami. Scoring points shouldn’t be an issue for both teams. Pittsburgh and North Carolina each average 29 points per game in ACC contests, and both squads allow six yards per play in conference matchups. The Tar Heels should expect a heavy dose of Pittsburgh running back James Conner. The sophomore averages 149.1 yards per game, and North Carolina is allowing 218.6 rushing yards in ACC contests. The Panthers have been vulnerable to a few big plays in the secondary (eight plays allowed of 40 yards or more), and the Tar Heels average 291.9 yards per game through the air. Quarterback Marquise Williams is tied for third in the conference with 17 touchdown passes. Tempo and pace of play will be critical in this matchup. North Carolina wants to go fast, while Pittsburgh wants to turn to its ground attack and control the time of possession.

4. Virginia Tech at Duke (-5.5)

How’s this for a role reversal? Duke is fighting to win the Coastal Division, while Virginia Tech needs to win two out of its last three to earn bowl eligibility. Most years, that narrative is usually flipped, but the Blue Devils won the Coastal last year and are in great shape to repeat in 2014. Last year’s meeting was a low-scoring 13-10 affair, with Duke winning without a third-down conversion (0-11) and four lost turnovers. Two key components of the Blue Devils’ 8-1 record is only six lost turnovers and a balanced attack on offense. On the other sideline, Virginia Tech has lost 18 turnovers, and its offense is recording just 4.8 yards per play in ACC contests. Defensively, the Hokies have allowed 23 plays of 30 yards or more but are still active around the line of scrimmage (31 sacks). Stopping the run has been a challenge for Duke (203.4 ypg), and Virginia Tech should benefit from a healthy Marshawn Williams at running back. The Hokies need a big game from Williams, while getting a flawless effort from quarterback Michael Brewer. An individual matchup to watch is standout Virginia Tech cornerback against Duke receiver Jamison Crowder. Fuller is one of the ACC’s top defensive backs, while Crowder is a dangerous all-purpose threat and has at least eight receptions in each of his last three games. Only one game during Duke’s four-game winning streak was decided by more than seven points. If Virginia Tech can limit its mistakes and establish the run, coach Frank Beamer’s team should have a shot at the upset.

5. Wake Forest at NC State (-15)
3 p.m. ET, RSN/ESPN3

The home team has won the last seven meetings in this series and only one of the last four matchups was decided by seven points or less. The history seems to fit appropriately with the spread and the overall landscape of both teams. Wake Forest could be headed for a winless season in ACC play, while NC State needs one more win to get bowl eligible. The Demon Deacons continue to struggle on offense, but the defense has held its own in conference play. Freshman quarterback John Wolford has showed promise for first-year coach Dave Clawson and threw for two touchdowns in the 34-20 loss to Clemson. Wolford needs more help from a rushing attack that is recording less than one yard (0.7) per carry in ACC games. NC State’s offense scored 40 or more points in four of its first five games but has not recorded more than 24 in each of its last five games. Quarterback Jacoby Brissett had his first multi-interception game this season (two) in last week’s loss to Georgia Tech. If Brissett takes care of the ball, NC State should have too much firepower for a Wake Forest team that is good on defense, but struggling to find production on offense.

ACC Week 12 Predictions

FSU (-2) at MiamiFSU 35-21FSU 31-30FSU 34-27FSU 30-23
Clemson (-3) at GTGT 35-24Clemson 27-24Clemson 30-27GT 27-23
Pitt at UNC (-2)UNC 38-31UNC 40-38Pitt 38-34Pitt 34-33
VT at Duke (-5.5)Duke 28-14Duke 38-21Duke 27-20Duke 24-20
Wake at NC State (-15)NC State 28-7NC State 38-21NC State 30-17NC State 24-14
Last Week:4-14-15-04-1
Season Record:69-2270-2173-1868-23


ACC 2014 Week 12 Preview and Predictions
Post date: Thursday, November 13, 2014 - 09:00
All taxonomy terms: College Basketball, News
Path: /college-basketball/15-college-basketball-mid-majors-watch-2014-15

It’s November and that means the college hoops season is knocking on the door. Next thing you know we will be engulfed in January conference play. Come March, we will all be filling out our brackets, looking for the perfect 12-5 upset, seeking out the the dark horses and searching for Cinderella.




We’ve got the top 10 mid-majors to keep an eye on throughout the college hoops season and heading into March Madness.


A bit of a disclaimer: The lines between mid-major and high-major programs are always blurred. Though teams like Wichita State, Gonzaga and VCU may may in the so-called mid-major conferences, we consider those perennial NCAA contenders and top 25 teams to be high-major programs.



After three NCAA trips in six seasons, the Zips are to a spot where 21 wins qualifies as a down season. Akron won 20 games for the ninth consecutive season but failed to reach the MAC title game for the first time since 2007. All-MAC power forward Demetrius “Tree” Treadwell returns, but the Zips will need to find scoring punch to complement him.



Longtime coach Rick Byrd is a basketball institution at Belmont. Byrd loves to use his backcourt’s depth, ball handling and shooting ability to leave opposing team’s defenses baffled. Guards Craig Bradshaw, Reece Chamberlain, and Caleb Chowbay have big shoes to fill as they have to replace last year’s OVC Player of the Year J.J. Mann.



A No. 11 seed, the Flyers were one of the last at-large teams in the field but made it count with upsets of Ohio State, Syracuse and Stanford on the way to the Elite Eight. Coach Archie Miller is already a hot contender for other programs even if he has his work cut out for him this season. Two starting forwards are out of eligibility, and his starting point guard transferred. Leading scorer Jordan Sibert is back, and sophomore Scoochie Smith should step up at the point.


George Washington

Even without leading scorer Maurice Creek and forward Isaiah Armwood, George Washington has three players who averaged in double figures a year ago, plus starting point guard Joe McDonald. If Kethan Savage and Patricio Garino stay healthy, the Colonials could have a second consecutive NCAA Tournament team.


Georgia State

It’s hard to say a team that went 17-1 in conference play has unfinished business,  but Georgia State has unfinished business. After winning the Sun Belt regular season title by five games, GSU was one point shy of a bid to the Big Dance last season when the Panthers lost to third-seeded UL Lafayette 82-81 in the conference tournament final. Reigning Sun Belt Player of the Year R.J. Hunter and all-conference first-teamer Ryan Harrow, a Kentucky import, highlight a GSU team bound for spot in the field.


Green Bay

Returning conference player of the year Keifer Sykes and the rest of the Phoenix have their sights set on much more than a Horizon League title. Guard play is what wins in March, and Sykes can be that guard that turns heads at the Dance. Green Bay also returns four starters from last year’s team that went 24-7. The one departure is a big one in 7-1 center Alec Brown.



After NCAA wins in each of the last two seasons, coach Tommy Amaker is looking to keep the Crimson’s March hot streak rolling. In three consecutive NCAA appearances, Harvard has been known for its backcourt and deadly perimeter shooting. This season, Amaker has plenty of frontcourt depth, easing the burden on returning guards Wesley Saunders and Siyani Chambers. The Crimson are again the clear favorite in the Ivy. 



First-year coach Jon Coffman is looking to build upon last season’s 25-win breakout. The Mastodons will lean heavily on 6-foot-9 forward Steve Forbes and Gardner-Webb transfer Max Landis will be critical to shoring up the backcourt. While IPFW might not be the belle of the ball come late March, the Mastodons are more than capable of winning the Summit League.


Louisiana Tech

The Bulldogs are early Conference USA favorites because they not only return four starters from last year’s squad that won 29 games, but coach Michael White turned down a chance to go to Tennessee to return to Ruston. Bulldogs fans should savor this season because White is going to be one popular fella to bigger schools come March. 


Northern Iowa

Keeping up with Wichita State will be tough, but the Panthers could make the Missouri Valley a two-bid league again. The Valley has been a one-bid league five times in the last seven seasons. Ben Jacobson’s team returns five seniors and loses one role player from a team that went 10-8 in the Valley a year ago. This is Northern Iowa’s best squad since the 2010 Sweet 16.


Rhode Island

The Rams haven’t won more than five Atlantic 10 games since 2011 but the rebuilding project is in full swing under Dan Hurley. The roster was full of transfers and freshmen a year ago. Now, Rhody is hopeful that group will come together around rising A-10 star E.C. Matthews.


Stephen F. Austin

The Lumberjacks might be the Southland Conference team to beat for the next decade if head coach Brad Underwood isn’t scooped up by a higher profile program. The 32-win team of 2013-14 will be hard to top, but SFA returns plenty of talent, including the conference player of the year, Jacob Parker, Thomas Wallup and point guard Trey Pickney.



Thirty-five years is a long time to wait for anything, especially an NCAA Tournament berth. But this is the year the Rockets can reverse their self-inflicted curse. Toledo has the senior leadership in point guard Julius Brown, Justin Drummond and J.D. Weatherspoon that could lead this team to their first Tournament since 1980. If Toledo can improve on the defensive end, the rest of the MAC better look out, the Rockets are for real. Fifth-year coach Kowalczyk built the Rockets from 4-28 in his first season to 27-7 season and the best record in the MAC by his fourth.



UTEP will battle Louisiana Tech for the crown of Conference USA and for possibly a bid to the Tournament. With the help of sophomore forward Vincent Hunter and senior swingman Julian Washburn, the Miners have a legitimate chance of upsetting the early favorite Bulldogs or at least making at the case that Conference USA is a two-bid league. 



The Terriers have to be the early SoCon favorites going into 2014-15. Coach Mike Young returns essentially the entirety of last year’s 20-win squad including first team all-conference and SoCon tournament MVP Karl Cochran and third team all-conference player Lee Skinner. Two of Young’s best guards, Spencer Collins and Eric Garcia, were just freshmen last year. Look for that backcourt duo to leave their mark on the conference as sophomores.


-By Jacob Rose

15 College Basketball Mid-Majors to Watch in 2014-15
Post date: Thursday, November 13, 2014 - 07:00
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2014-quarterback-rankings-week-11

Aaron Rodgers needed just one half to put up the most fantasy points last week, so it’s only fitting that he lead off Athlon Sports’ Fantasy Football Quarterback Rankings for Week 11. Rodgers tossed six touchdown passes against a helpless (and some might say hapless) Chicago defense in the first half, and now has his sights set on keeping pace with Philadelphia’s up-tempo offense. This will be Mark Sanchez’ first road game as the Eagles’ starter, but given how he fared Monday night and the potential for a shootout against the Packers, we have him ranked as a borderline QB1. However, the QB pairing everyone will be watching is Tom Brady vs. Andrew Luck. Brady has been red hot, tossing 18 touchdowns and just one interception over his past five games, while Luck continues to lead his peers in scoring. It should make for an entertaining Sunday night at Lucas Oil Stadium.


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


Positional Rankings: QB I RB I WR I TE I DST I K


2014 NFL Week 11 Fantasy Football Rankings — Quarterbacks


Teams on bye: Baltimore, Dallas, Jacksonville, New York Jets


1Aaron RodgersGBvs. PHI
2Peyton ManningDENat STL
3Andrew LuckINDvs. NE
4Tom BradyNEat IND
5Drew BreesNOvs. CIN
6Philip RiversSDvs. OAK
7Ben RoethlisbergerPITat TEN (Mon.)
8Colin KaepernickSFat NYG
9Matthew StaffordDETat ARI
10Robert Griffin IIIWASvs. TB
11Russell WilsonSEAat KC
12Jay CutlerCHIvs. MIN
13Mark SanchezPHIat GB
14Matt RyanATLat CAR
15Cam NewtonCARvs. ATL
16Josh McCownTBat WAS
17Eli ManningNYGvs. SF
18Ryan TannehillMIAvs. BUF (Thurs.)
19Andy DaltonCINat NO
20Teddy BridgewaterMINat CHI
21Derek CarrOAKat SD
22Alex SmithKCvs. SEA
23Kyle OrtonBUFat MIA (Thurs.)
24Brian HoyerCLEvs. HOU
25Shaun HillSTLvs. DEN
26Drew StantonARIvs. DET

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

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


Need more fantasy help? Visit

Fantasy Football 2014 Quarterback Rankings: Week 11
Post date: Thursday, November 13, 2014 - 06:30
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2014-wide-receiver-rankings-week-11

Calvin Johnson may not be No. 1 on Athlon Sports’ Fantasy Football Wide Receiver Rankings for Week 11, but he’s not that far off either. After missing three games with an ankle injury, Megatron was back to his old tricks last week, hauling in seven passes for 113 yards and a touchdown in Detroit’s win over Miami. This Sunday presents an interesting matchup against Arizona’s athletic and physical secondary, but there’s a reason Johnson was a consensus first-round pick in fantasy drafts. Elsewhere, Demaryius Thomas should have the advantage against a decimated St. Louis secondary while Jordy Nelson will try to follow up his 152-yard, two-touchdown performance last week against Chicago when his Packers host the Eagles. Antonio Brown, who continues to lead the NFL in catches (79) and yards (1,070), will look to bounce back on Monday night against Tennessee after delivering a rare dud (8 rec., 74 yds., 2 lost fumbles) in last week’s loss to the Jets.


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


Positional Rankings: QB I RB I WR I TE I DST I K


2014 NFL Week 11 Fantasy Football Rankings — Wide Receivers


Teams on bye: Baltimore, Dallas, Jacksonville, New York Jets


1Demaryius ThomasDENat STL
2Jordy NelsonGBvs. PHI
3Antonio BrownPITat TEN (Mon.)
4Calvin JohnsonDETat ARI
5Jeremy MaclinPHIat GB
6Julio JonesATLat CAR
7Emmanuel SandersDENat STL
8Randall CobbGBvs. PHI
9T.Y. HiltonINDvs. NE
10A.J. GreenCINat NO
11Brandon MarshallCHIvs. MIN
12Alshon JefferyCHIvs. MIN
13Kelvin BenjaminCARvs. ATL
14Odell Beckham Jr.NYGvs. SF
15Mike WallaceMIAvs. BUF (Thurs.)
16Golden TateDETat ARI
17Mike EvansTBat WAS
18Roddy WhiteATLat CAR
19DeSean JacksonWASvs. TB
20Sammy WatkinsBUFat MIA (Thurs.)
21Vincent JacksonTBat WAS
22DeAndre HopkinsHOUat CLE
23Julian EdelmanNEat IND
24Martavis BryantPITat TEN (Mon.)
25Brandin CooksNOvs. CIN
26Keenan AllenSDvs. OAK
27Andre JohnsonHOUat CLE
28Anquan BoldinSFat NYG
29Larry FitzgeraldARIvs. DET
30Pierre GarconWASvs. TB
31Mohamed SanuCINat NO
32Reggie WayneINDvs. NE
33Michael CrabtreeSFat NYG
34Jordan MatthewsPHIat GB
35Brandon LaFellNEat IND
36Marques ColstonNOvs. CIN
37Doug BaldwinSEAat KC
38Cordarrelle PattersonMINat CHI
39Malcom FloydSDvs. OAK
40Kendall WrightTENvs. PIT (Mon.)
41Dwayne BoweKCvs. SEA
42Rueben RandleNYGvs. SF
43Michael FloydARIvs. DET
44James JonesOAKat SD
45Greg JenningsMINat CHI
46John BrownARIvs. DET
47Andre HolmesOAKat SD
48Jarvis LandryMIAvs. BUF (Thurs.)

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

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


Need more fantasy help? Visit

Fantasy Football 2014 Wide Receiver Rankings: Week 11
Post date: Thursday, November 13, 2014 - 06:30
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2014-tight-end-rankings-week-11

With both big bye weeks a distant memory, the upper tier of Athlon Sports’ Fantasy Football Tight End Rankings for Week 11 looks a lot like many expected it would entering this season. An argument could be made when it comes to the first two spots, but no TE has been hotter than Rob Gronkowski. Even though he was on bye last week, none of his peers can match the 23 catches or 322 yards he has piled up over the past four weeks. And the only one who has as many touchdowns as Gronk (4) during this span is none other than Jimmy Graham, who has been a beast the past two games. Both should fare well this Sunday against Indianapolis and Cincinnati, respectively, and that’s not to take anything away from Julius Thomas, who leads the NFL in touchdown catches (12). Let’s face it, you can’t go wrong with any of these three (or Antonio Gates or Greg Olsen for that matter), that is unless you’re facing one of them.


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


Positional Rankings: QB I RB I WR I TE I DST I K


2014 NFL Week 11 Fantasy Football Rankings — Tight Ends


Teams on bye: Baltimore, Dallas, Jacksonville, New York Jets


1Rob GronkowskiNEat IND
2Jimmy GrahamNOvs. CIN
3Julius ThomasDENat STL
4Antonio GatesSDvs. OAK
5Greg OlsenCARvs. ATL
6Dwayne AllenINDvs. NE
7Martellus BennettCHIvs. MIN
8Travis KelceKCvs. SEA
9Larry DonnellNYGvs. SF
10Jordan ReedWASvs. TB
11Jared CookSTLvs. DEN
12Charles ClayMIAvs. BUF (Thurs.)
13Mychal RiveraOAKat SD
14Vernon DavisSFat NYG
15Heath MillerPITat TEN (Mon.)
16Zach ErtzPHIat GB
17Kyle RudolphMINat CHI
18Austin Seferian-JenkinsTBat WAS
19Jordan CameronCLE 
20Coby FleenerINDvs. NE
21Scott ChandlerBUFat MIA (Thurs.)
22Jermaine GreshamCINat NO
23Tim WrightNEat IND
24John CarlsonARIvs. DET

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:
All touchdowns are 6 points
1 point for 25 yards passing
1 point for 10 yards rushing/receiving
Receptions are .5 points
Interceptions/fumbles are minus-2 points


Need more fantasy help? Visit

Fantasy Football 2014 Tight End Rankings: Week 11
Post date: Thursday, November 13, 2014 - 06:30
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2014-defensespecial-teams-rankings-week-11

Jacksonville doesn’t play this week, so for once the Jaguars don’t factor into Athlon Sports’ Fantasy Football Defense/Special Teams Rankings for Week 11. Instead, our top billing goes to Miami, the DST that has scored the most fantasy points (76, Athlon scoring) over the last four weeks. The Dolphins’ defense has been especially tough at home, as evidenced by a 37-0 whitewashing of San Diego two weeks ago, and should have the upper hand at Sun Life Stadium Thursday night against the Bills. On Sunday, Arizona hosts Detroit in a matchup featuring two of this season’s top-scoring fantasy DSTs. We like both as starting options, but ranked the Lions a little higher because backup Drew Stanton will be at quarterback for the Cardinals in place of an injured Carson Palmer (torn ACL).


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


Positional Rankings: QB I RB I WR I TE I DST I K


2014 NFL Week 11 Fantasy Football Rankings — Defense/Special Teams


Teams on bye: Baltimore, Dallas, Jacksonville, New York Jets


1Miami Dolphinsvs. BUF (Thurs.)
2Denver Broncosat STL
3Detroit Lionsat ARI
4Buffalo Billsat MIA (Thurs.)
5Arizona Cardinalsvs. DET
6Seattle Seahawksat KC
7Kansas City Chiefsvs. SEA
8Pittsburgh Steelersat TEN (Mon.)
9San Francisco 49ersat NYG
10Houston Texansat CLE
11Cleveland Brownsvs. HOU
12New Orleans Saintsvs. CIN
13Green Bay Packersvs. PHI
14New England Patriotsat IND
15San Diego Chargersvs. OAK
16Philadelphia Eaglesat GB

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

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


Need more fantasy help? Visit

Fantasy Football 2014 Defense/Special Teams Rankings: Week 11
Post date: Thursday, November 13, 2014 - 06:30