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Path: /college-football/ncaa-ends-contract-ea-sports-college-football-video-game

The EA Sports NCAA Football franchise will end with this season’s edition.

Facing ongoing litigation as a result of the Ed O’Bannon class action lawsuit, the NCAA announced Wednesday it would not renew its contract with EA Sports. The contract expires in June 2014.
NCAA Football 2014 will be the last to include the NCAA’s name and logo, the press release indicates. The end of the contract does not necessarily mean the end a college football video game utilizing school names and mascots, however.

“Member colleges and universities license their own trademarks and other intellectual property for the video game,” the NCAA says. “They will have to independently decide whether to continue those business arrangements in the future.”

The NCAA, EA Sports and the Collegiate Licensing Committee are co-defendants in a class action lawsuit stating the NCAA Football video games violate antitrust laws by essentially requiring athletes to release their likeness rights for perpetuity.


The end of the contract means, in theory, the CLC, which represents nearly 200 universities, or schools/conferences individually could sign a new contract for a college football video game with EA Sports that does not include the NCAA name or logo.

NCAA Football 2014 will be final game under the contract
Post date: Wednesday, July 17, 2013 - 14:55
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-link-roundup-july-17

SEC Media Days continues on Wednesday, but there's plenty of other news from around the college football world. 

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

College Football's Must-Read Stories Around the Web for Wednesday, July 17th

Jon Cooper of Saturday Down South has an excellent recap of Tuesday’s events at SEC Media Days. 

Hugh Kellenberger of the Jackson Clarion-Ledger has a good rundown of Ole Miss’ coach Hugh Freeze comments from Tuesday, including an update on JUCO signee Nick Brassell.

How will College Football’s playoff selection committee look? The Sporting News’ Matt Hayes has a good breakdown of what’s to come.

Colorado has found a new athletic director.

Michigan's Jake Ryan is out indefinitely with a torn ACL, but the defense could get a boost from sophomore James Ross.

The SEC hopes to have 10 or 11 bowls when the new playoff format starts in 2014.

Kyle Tucker of The Courier-Journal posts an update on Kentucky’s depth chart for 2013.

Here's a preview of Michigan State's receiving corps for 2013. 

The Big 12 has released the 2013 preseason media all-conference team. For comparison's sake, here’s a look at Athlon’s All-Big 12 team for 2013.

Beginning in 2014, the Big Ten will play in a new bowl game in Detroit. The ACC is expected to be the Big Ten’s opponent.

Thanks to Tajh Boyd’s decision to return for his senior year, Clemson can expand its offense even more in 2013.

Minnesota has regained the services of receiver Andre McDonald for 2013.

Louisville’s first release of its fall depth chart had a few surprises and reasons to be concerned.

College Football's Link Roundup: July 17
Post date: Wednesday, July 17, 2013 - 14:32
Path: /college-football/jadeveon-clowney-calls-out-tajh-boyd-and-aaron-murray

For the most part, conference media days are a cliché fest. However, from time-to-time, there are a few gems that resonate throughout the offseason.

South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney dropped one of the top soundbites from the first day of SEC Media Days on Tuesday, calling out Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd and Georgia’s Aaron Murray.

How did Boyd and Murray fare against South Carolina last season? Well, it wasn’t pretty. Murray went 11 of 31 for 109 yards and one interception, with Boyd completing 11 of 24 throws for 183 yards and two picks.

So is there truth to what Clowney was saying? I mean, who wouldn’t be intimidated by a 6-foot-6 defensive end with sub-4.6 speed?

Needless to say, Clowney’s comments should work well for bulletin board material at Georgia and Clemson, especially since those two matchups could be the toughest for South Carolina in 2013.

Jadeveon Clowney Calls Out Tajh Boyd and Aaron Murray
Post date: Wednesday, July 17, 2013 - 12:45
Path: /british-open-5-burning-questions

Can Phil Mickelson win?

Shockingly, given Mickelson's creativity and brilliant wedge play, the Open Championship is historically his weakest major. He has contended only twice and missed the cut last year at Royal Lytham. But his Scottish Open win this past weekend demonstrates a newfound appreciation for links golf. "I used to hate it and now I love it," he said. He's also expressing an intriguing level of confidence in his putting stroke. "I am really optimistic about this week and going forward because I'm starting to putt as well as I ever have," he said. "… You've seen me try the belly putter, you've seen me try different grips, and finally I believe I have kind of found the secret to my own putting." He's leaving the driver out of the bag this week; we'll see if that's a smart play or typical Mickelson over-thinking.


Is Rory McIlroy distracted by girlfriend Caroline Wozniacki?

NBC analyst Johnny Miller sure seems to think so. And Sir Nick Faldo jumped on the bandwagon this week, advising Rory to concentrate on golf while is window of greatness is open. But McIlroy is not taking the criticism lying down, firing this withering counterattack in a news conference: "I saw what he said, and he said I should be at the course 9 to 5. I actually was on the range at 6:15 and got out of the gym at 6:15, actually a 12-hour day compared to his nine-hour day. It is what it is, and Nick should know how hard this game is at times. And he's been in our position before. And he should know how much work that we all do put into it." Of course, the proof's in the results, and Rory's results have been lacking. But a win this week would do a lot to shut up the critics.


Which Graeme McDowell will show up this week?

McDowell's roller-coaster ride defies comprehension. How’s this for feast or famine: McDowell’s last eight appearances on the PGA and European Tours include three wins and five missed cuts (two of which came at The Masters and U.S. Open). So which Graeme will show up at Muirfield? He thinks he knows: "I still have the links game — the wind game — inside me and I will be relying on that at Muirfield. Links golf is in my blood and I feel like I slip back into that mode easily." If the wind blows, watch out for McDowell.


Muirfield: easy or hard?

The course historically produces worthy champions: Els, Faldo (twice), Watson, Trevino, Nicklaus and Player are the last seven winners at the storied venue. Nicklaus liked the course so much that he named his home course in Ohio in its honor. But as for its degree of difficulty? The fact that the players are trying to outdo each other in calling the layout "fair" would seem to indicate that they feel that low scores are there for the taking. Watch the conditions. If the wind blows, the course's circuitous layout makes changing breezes hard to gauge. Remember — Tiger Woods shot 81 at Muirfield in a gale-force wind in 2002.


Who'll kiss the Claret Jug?

There's no shortage of viable candidates: Mickelson's hot; Ernie Els is playing well heading into his title defense; McDowell's in his comfort zone; Justin Rose and Adam Scott have their breakthrough majors and will be loose and confident.

But we're going with Tiger Woods. Noted golf psychologist Bob Rotella thinks Woods is showing signs of "panic" that he'll never regain his major mojo. But we think he's cornered and angry that no one seems to fear him any more. And it's not like has hasn't been close; since his last major win in 2008, he has seven top-six finishes in majors, including a T3 at last year's Open Championship. "I think it's just a shot here and there," he said. "It's making a key up-and-down here or getting a good bounce here, capitalizing on an opportunity." We think that opportunity will knock this week.

Post date: Wednesday, July 17, 2013 - 12:31
Path: /college-basketball/12-college-basketball-sophomores-spot

In mid-March, Mitch McGary and Montrezl Harrell were a pair of freshmen still working through their rookie seasons.

By April 8, they were key big men in the national championship game.

The fortunes for McGary and Harrell took abrupt turns once tournament season began, raising the bar for their sophomore years. In 2013-14, Michigan and Louisville will expect more of what McGary and Harrell delivered during the postseason. The breakout last year will need to become the norm starting in November.

Beyond McGary and Harrell, we’ve pinpointed 10 other highly regarded sophomores who need to break out in 2013-14.

Some, like Kansas’ Perry Ellis, showed flashes of potential a year ago. Others like Indiana’s Jeremy Hollowell and Syracuse’s Jerami Grant played on loaded teams that could afford to allow their star recruits to gain some seasoning on the bench.

In general, we’ve picked 12 sophomores who were not full-time players a year ago as freshmen who will need to become impact, all-conference players as sophomores.


Mitch McGary, Michigan
As a freshman:
39 games, eight starts, 19.7 minutes per game, 7.5 ppg, 6.3 rpg
Outlook: How is McGary going to top his production during the NCAA Tournament, when he became the MVP of a team that included the national player of the year? After a pedestrian freshman regular season, McGary averaged 14.3 points and 10.7 rebounds as the Wolverines reached the national title game. With Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway gone, he may be expected to average close to that as a sophomore.

Montrezl Harrell, Louisville
As a freshman: 40 games, three starts, 16.2 minutes per game, 5.7 ppg, 3.6 rpg
Outlook: Harrell had the “where did that come from” moment of the Big East Tournament when he had 20 points and seven rebounds in the championship game against Syracuse. In the three games leading up to the game against Syracuse in Madison Square Garden, he was a combined 5 of 12 from the field. He went 7 of 13 against the Orange alone. With all of the returning pieces back from the national champions, Louisville doesn’t need that kind of production from Harrell, but he is moving to center to replace first-round NBA Draft pick Gorgui Dieng. At 6-8 and 235 pounds, though, Harrell may be undersized for the move.

Perry Ellis, Kansas
As a freshman:
37 games, three starts, 13.6 minutes per game, 5.8 ppg, 3.9 rpg
Outlook: With the entire starting five gone, Ellis suddenly is a grizzled veteran. Freshman Andrew Wiggins will be the focal point and could have a Kevin Durant-like impact, but Ellis is a key cog. Ellis was a decorated local player at Wichita (Kan.) Heights expecting to make an impact on a senior-laden team, but he struggled on both sides of the court through most of his freshman season. He was a non-factor for stretches during Big 12 season before busting out for 23 points against Iowa State in the Big 12 Tournament semifinals. If Wiggins is a superstar from Day One as predicted, the Jayhawks still need the athletic 6-8 forward to give more than 5.8 points per game against Big 12 competition.

Willie Cauley-Stein, Kentucky
As a freshman:
29 games, 14 starts, 23.6 minutes per game, 8.3 ppg, 6.2 rpg
Outlook: Cauley-Stein has more experience than most of the names on this list, primarily because he took a larger role when Nerlens Noel was lost for the season. Cauley-Stein, who averaged 10.2 points and 8.4 rebounds over the final eight games with Noel out, will be one of the few veterans on a team that lacked them last season.

Jeremy Hollowell, Indiana
As a freshman:
33 games, 0 starts, 9.7 minutes per game, 2.8 ppg, 2.1 rpg
Outlook: All eyes will be on the point guard Yogi Ferrell — the only returning starter — and the incoming freshman Noah Vonleh. But Hollowell has a chance to lead the Hoosiers in scoring. The 6-foot-8 forward can shoot the 3 and drive to the basket. He’ll also take a bit of pressure off Ferrell with his passing ability.

Jerami Grant, Syracuse
As a freshman:
40 games, nine starts, 14.3 minutes per game, 3.9 ppg, 3.0 rpg
Outlook: Syracuse has a proven track record of letting long and athletic frontcourt players take a year or two to develop before breaking out as sophomores and juniors — think of C.J. Fair and James Southerland. Grant flourished (8.6 ppg, 5.3 rpg) when Southerland was suspended midseason, but Syracuse will expect that and more from Grant this year. Also fitting into the sophomore on-the-spot category for Syracuse is center Dajuan Coleman, whose playing time diminished after a midseason knee injury.

Winston Shepard, San Diego State
As a freshman:
31 games, two starts, 20.3 mpg, 5.7 ppg, 3.5 rpg
Outlook: The top recruit in school history looked more like a long-term project last season than the last big-time recruit San Diego State signed, Kawhi Leonard. The Aztecs add a double-double threat in Josh Davis, a transfer from Tulane. But they also need someone to replace the stat-sheet-stuffing versatility of Jamaal Franklin, who led the team in scoring, rebounds, assists and steals. As a recruit, Shepard looked like the kind of player who could offer that skill set. As a freshman, Shepard shot only 42.7 percent from inside the arc.

Shaquille Cleare, Maryland
As a freshman: 37 games, eight starts, 12 minutes per game, 3.7 ppg, 2.7 rpg
Outlook: The presence of Alex Len meant Cleare was expendable as a freshman. That won’t be the case with Cleare a sophomore and Len off to the NBA Draft as the No. 5 overall pick. The 6-9 Cleare won’t match Len’s height, but Mark Turgeon has been impressed with Cleare’s ability to shed 15-20 pounds during the offseason.

Kris Dunn, Providence
As a freshman:
25 games, 18 starts, 27.2 minutes per game, 5.7 ppg, 3.1 apg
Outlook: Dunn was part of a one-two punch Providence coach Ed Cooley signed out of the class of 2012. Ricky Ledo never played for the Friars, sitting out as a partial qualifier before going to the the NBA Draft. Dunn played a limited role behind Vincent Council last season, but he’ll run the point for a team hoping to reach its first NCAA Tournament since 2004.

Kellen Dunham, Butler
As a freshman:
35 games, 13 starts, 26.1 minutes per game, 9.5 ppg, 2.8 rpg
Outlook: Rotnei Clarke helped return Butler to the NCAA Tournament after his transfer from Arkansas. Dunham, a major recruit for the Bulldogs, was Butler’s second-best shooter from long range last season by a wide margin behind Clarke. If he’s going to shoot at a high volume, he’ll have to do better than 34.5 percent from 3-point range and 37.5 overall from the field.

Ron Baker, Wichita State
As a freshman:
18 games, 15 starts, 26.1 minutes per game, 8.7 ppg, 3.2 rpg
Outlook: For all intents and purposes, Baker was a full-time starter for Wichita State, but the guard missed 21 games of his redshirt freshman season with a stress fracture in his right foot. He gave Wichita State the 3-point threat it needed during the Shockers’ Final Four run, shooting 4 of 6 from long range in the upset of No. 1 seed Gonzaga. If Baker can stay healthy, he’ll be part of a new-look sophomore backcourt with Fred VanVleet (4.3 ppg last season) running the point.

Przemek Karnowski, Gonzaga
As a freshman:
34 games, one start, 10.7 minutes per game, 5.4 ppg, 2.5 rpg
Outlook: It’s probably a little much to expect Karnowski to take a jump like Kelly Olynyk did last season. Olynyk went from 5.8 points and 13.5 minutes in 2010-11 to 17.8 points and 26.4 minutes after a redshirt season. Still, Gonzaga likes the development of its 7-foot-1 Polish center.

Michigan, Louisville and others need these role players to take the next step
Post date: Wednesday, July 17, 2013 - 12:02
Path: /nfl/2013-nfl-training-camp-quarterback-battles-watch

The start of NFL training camps is upon us, which means the NFL is back in business. One of the main orders of business when it comes to training camp is figuring out who will make the opening day roster. And to that end, there is no position in the NFL that garners more attention than quarterback.

While the vast majority of teams are set when it comes to quarterback, there are still a few starting jobs that appear to be unsettled. Most of these situations are the result of either a coaching change or because a quarterback was drafted in April, or a combination of the two.

The quarterback battles that figure to draw the most attention during training camp and once preseason games begin are those that will be waged in the Jets’, Eagles’ and Bills’ camps. Other situations that are worth keeping an eye on are the Jaguars, Browns and Raiders. Of course the common thread with these six teams is simple — they went a combined 27-69 in 2012.

Haven’t We Seen This Script Before?
Mark SanchezStop me if you’ve heard this already — the New York Jets are embroiled in a quarterback controversy. The co-star of this drama may have changed, but the screenplay remains the same.

For the second straight season, the Jets are saying that Mark Sanchez is the starter, while their actions have done nothing but raise questions regarding his job security. Last season it was Tim Tebow, but with the media magnet now battling for a roster spot on the Patriots, his role has been recast and given to Geno Smith.

It’s only fitting that Smith, who many believed was not only the top quarterback prospect entering the 2013 NFL Draft, but also had a shot at being the No. 1 overall pick, ended up with the Jets after tumbling down draft boards and out of the first round altogether. The Jets decided to be the one to pull the trigger on the former West Virginia star, taking him with the seventh pick of the second round, 39th overall.

So while Smith probably won’t draw near the amount of media attention that Tebow did, his mere presence will be a distraction for Sanchez, the coaching staff and the team, especially if it’s perceived he is out-performing the presumed starter during camp.

Not that this story needs any more subplots, but there’s also additional factors at play here, such as Sanchez having to learn and adapt to new offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg’s system, the lack of established pass-catchers on the Jets’ roster, and oh yeah, the fact that Rex Ryan may be coaching for his job this season. Other than that, there’s absolutely nothing to see here.

Prediction: Sanchez figures to have the upper hand on Smith, especially considering the rookie has yet to sign his contract. That said, no one is expecting Smith to simply concede the starting job to Sanchez, not after what he had to endure during the draft. The bottom line for Ryan is he needs to win as many games as possible if he wants to keep his job. For Week 1 Ryan’s best bet figures to be Sanchez, but after that it’s anyone’s guess, especially should Sanchez struggle like he did last season.

Out With the Old, In With the New In Philadelphia?
The Eagles have a new coach in Chip Kelly and everyone can’t wait to see what the former Oregon offensive mastermind has planned for the NFL. But one of the main keys to whether Kelly’s offense will be successful or not is who is pulling the trigger.

Michael Vick is the incumbent starter for the Eagles, but he’s also 33 years old and is signed for one year. Vick’s skill set appears to be a good fit for the type of offense Kelly ran at Oregon, but injuries and turnovers are two major red flags when it comes to the former No. 1 overall pick. He played in just 10 games last season and committed 21 turnovers when he was on the field. It’s pretty clear that Vick is not the long-term solution for the Eagles’ quarterback situation.

But does that mean Nick Foles is? Foles went 1-5 in relief of Vick last season, but he also completed better than 60 percent of his passes and finished with more touchdowns (six) than interceptions (five). The problem with Foles is that he isn’t the most mobile of quarterbacks, which appears to make him a poor fit for Kelly’s preferred read-option offense.

Then there’s Matt Barkley, the former USC quarterback whom the Eagles traded up to select in the fourth round of this year’s draft. At one point Barkley was considered not only a potential Heisman Trophy winner, but No. 1 overall pick material, but neither goal was realized following a disappointing senior season. If anyone knows what Barkley is capable of, it would be Kelly because of the Pac-12 ties they share.

Kelly doesn’t lack for options, but the decision he has to make is does he go with the guy who gives him the best chance to win this season or the one who can help him win down the road?

Prediction: If Kelly is serious about finding out if his offense can succeed in the NFL or not, then Vick needs to be his quarterback. Despite his age, the wear and tear on his body, and his turnover-prone nature, Vick has the mobility and athleticism Kelly desires from his quarterbacks. Vick’s hold on the starting job will either come down to staying healthy or if the Eagles remain in the playoff chase throughout the season. In either instance, I think Foles gets the first shot with Barkley only seeing the field really late in the season or due to Foles getting hurt too.

The Future is Now in Buffalo?
EJ ManuelBuffalo surprised many when the Bills reached into the collegiate ranks and hired former Syracuse head coach Doug Marrone. Turns out the team was just getting started with its eye-opening moves.

After Ryan Fitzpatrick signed with Tennessee as a free agent, the Bills agreed to terms with former Arizona starter Kevin Kolb on a two-year deal. Then the team made EJ Manuel the first quarterback taken in the draft when the Bills took the former Florida State star with the 16th pick overall.

Whether the team took Manuel too high is certainly up for debate, but it’s also immaterial at this point. If Manuel is the future, the only question that remains is when will that future be?

Kolb’s track record as a starter in the NFL certainly leaves a lot to be desired. He’s just 9-12 in four seasons and has yet to start more than nine games in a season. His two years in Arizona can best be described as forgettable, as injuries limited him to 14 starts and he managed just 17 touchdown passes.

Manuel went 25-6 as the Seminoles’ starter and everyone raves about his athletic ability. The jury is still out on if he’s ready to step in right away, and if that’s the case, then Kolb probably gives the Bills the best chance to win in 2013. On the other hand, three rookie quarterbacks led their teams to the playoffs in 2012, and the Bills do have some pieces already in place in running back C.J. Spiller and wide receiver Stevie Johnson. What’s a rookie NFL head coach to do?

Prediction: Manuel is the future and I think he will get on the field at some point this season. However, unless Kolb gets hurt (which is certainly probable) or the Bills’ brain trust just decides to start the rebuilding process in earnest, I think it’s the veteran’s team as far as 2013 is concerned.

Gabbert’s Last Stand in Jacksonville
Blaine Gabbert, the No. 10 overall pick of the 2011 draft, is entering his third season in the NFL and also is on his third (technically fourth) head coach. The lack of coaching stability alone is enough to justify his awful 5-19 showing as a starter, but the reality is the NFL doesn’t work that way.

The good news for Gabbert is that a new head coach (former Seattle defensive coordinator Gus Bradley) offers him yet another opportunity to impress a new staff. The bad news is that this is probably his last chance, and the Jaguars still have plenty of other questions on offense.

The selection of Texas A&M left tackle Luke Joeckel with the second overall pick and the return of All-Pro running back Maurice Jones-Drew are good starts, but they alone can’t be the cure-all for the NFL’s 30th-ranked offense. Gabbert himself could be part of the solution, but that’s only if he can improve upon his career 53.8 percent completion rate and 21:18 touchdown-to-interception ratio.

If Gabbert struggles out of the gate, Bradley probably won’t hesitate to turn the offense over to Chad Henne. The sixth-year pro and former Dolphins’ starter won just one game after Gabbert was lost for the season with an elbow injury in Week 11, but Henne out-performed Gabbert (11 TD passes compared to 9) in fewer starts (6 vs. 10).

Even though the main battle should come down to Gabbert and Henne, don’t be surprised if the other quarterbacks on the roster — veteran Mike Kafka and undrafted free agents Jordan Rodgers and Matt Scott — all get their chance to stake their claim to the job. That’s what happens when a team enters training camp with a new head coach for a third straight season.

Prediction: In his defense, Gabbert hasn’t gotten many breaks to go his way. It seems only fair for Bradley to give the former first-round pick one more shot to show what he can do. But life in the NFL is anything but fair and Gabbert is going to have to prove early that he’s the quarterback that puts the Jaguars in the best position to compete on a weekly basis. The optimist in me says Gabbert earns the starting job with a strong showing in camp, but the realist in me says he won’t finish in that role by season’s end. Whatever happens this season, I think it’s almost a forgone conclusion that Jacksonville will have a new starting quarterback in 2014.

Make or Break Season for Weeden in Cleveland
Brandon WeedenThe Browns went through a complete front office makeover this offseason, meaning not only is there a new head coach (former Carolina offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski), but also a new CEO and general manager as well. With new decision-makers now in place the next step in the rebuilding process is to use this season to assess the roster.

Cornerstones like running back Trent Richardson and left tackle Joe Thomas aren’t going anywhere, but the same can’t be said for quarterback Brandon Weeden. The Browns’ first-round pick (No. 22 overall) last April, Weeden beat out incumbent Colt McCoy for the starting job in 2012.

Weeden had his share of moments as a rookie, but he also struggled on more than one occasion. He finished with more interceptions (17) than touchdowns (14) and never seemed to fully adjust to former head coach Pat Shurmur’s West Coast system.

He will have a chance at a fresh start running new offensive coordinator Norv Turner’s system, which reportedly will put Weeden in the shotgun more, a position he is accustomed to going back to his days at Oklahoma State. Weeden also is different from the rest of his 2012 draft class in that he’s older, so his age (will turn 30 in October) is another factor to consider here. In other words, it’s pretty much now or never for Weeden if he wants to be the Browns’ quarterback of the future.

The Browns traded McCoy to San Francisco in the offseason and signed Jason Campbell as his replacement. Campbell has started 71 games for four different teams, including one for Chicago last season, in his seven-year career, while Weeden has a total of 15 starts under his belt. Thaddeus Lewis is also on the roster and he, not Weeden, was the Browns’ starting quarterback in Week 17 last season.

Prediction: Chudzinski, the coaching staff and the Browns’ front office need to find out if Weeden is the long-term answer or not. Unless he fails to grasp Turner’s scheme, Weeden will be Cleveland’s starter in Week 1. Whether he keeps that job throughout the season remains to be seen, but should Weeden get replaced for some reason other than injury, then expect to see a new face at the position for the Browns in 2014.

It’s All About the Future in Oakland
As of right now, Matt Flynn is the starter in Oakland. That doesn’t mean that something can’t change between now and Week 1, especially considering Flynn is with his third team is as many seasons and his next start will be just the third of his career.

Flynn started in Green Bay, where he backed up Aaron Rodgers for four seasons (2008-11). He started just two games during this time, but he made that last one count. Subbing for Rodgers in the 2011 regular-season finale, Flynn set franchise records by throwing for 480 yards and six touchdowns against the Lions.

That game alone was largely responsible for netting Flynn a three-year free agent deal with Seattle, but he suffered an elbow injury early in the preseason and ended up losing his job to third-round draft pick Russell Wilson. With Wilson firmly entrenched as the Seahawks’ franchise quarterback, Flynn was traded to Oakland for two draft picks (fifth-rounder in 2014 and conditional one in ’15) in April.

The assumption is that Flynn will replace the departed Carson Palmer, who was traded to Arizona, but he will still probably have to beat out backup Terrelle Pryor, fourth-round pick Tyler Wilson and undrafted free agent Matthew McGloin in training camp.

This could very well be Flynn’s last chance to be a full-time starter in the NFL, as the Raiders will probably struggle to win games once again this fall and will end up with yet another top-five pick for the 2014 draft. Even if Flynn impresses, he’s already 28 and unless Pryor or Wilson or McGloin emerge, chances are the Raiders will probably strongly consider finding their next franchise quarterback in the 2014 draft. There figure to be no lack of options next April with players like Tajh Boyd, Teddy Bridgewater, Johnny Manziel and Braxton Miller among those who could be available.

Prediction: It’s Flynn’s job to lose, which very well could happen, but that matters little. Barring something unforeseen happening, such as Tyler Wilson or McGloin becoming the next Russell Wilson, Oakland will be active in the quarterback market next offseason, whether that be through the draft and/or free agency.

Other Teams to Watch

Arizona — Quarterback was a disaster for the Cardinals last season, as in 11 combined touchdowns and 21 interceptions from four different starters. The team acquired Carson Palmer from Oakland during the offseason and are hoping the 33-year-old veteran can do what Kurt Warner did when he resuscitated his career back in 2005. It’s clearly Palmer’s job, but Arizona also added Drew Stanton to compete with Ryan Lindley, the lone holdover from last season, for the backup job. Even if Palmer pans out, don’t be surprised if the Cardinals add another new face or two to this depth chart during the next offseason.

Tampa Bay — Josh Freeman is the starter in Tampa Bay until further notice, but he’s also entering the final year of his rookie contract. The 25-year-old has shown plenty of promise, as he threw for a career-high 4,065 yards last season, but he’s also thrown 63 interceptions in 57 career games. The Buccaneers drafted NC State’ Mike Glennon in the third round, so Freeman needs to show the team he is the long-term answer at the position or he may be playing somewhere else in 2014.

Tennessee — It’s Jake Locker’s show, but the third-year signal-caller also needs to show significant improvement as a passer and overall this season or else the Titans may move on. Locker’s dual-threat ability is certainly intriguing, but he completed just 56 percent of his passes and threw 10 touchdowns and 11 interceptions in 11 games. He missed five game because of injury, which is another concern since missed time only hinders his development. Backup and mentor Matt Hasselbeck is now in Indianapolis, but the Titans made a wise move in signing former Buffalo starter Ryan Fitzpatrick to take his place on the roster. Titans head coach Mike Munchak is going to give Locker every opportunity to succeed and seize the starting job by the throat, it’s now up to Locker to live up to his first-round billing.

2013 Athlon Sports NFL team-by-team schedule analysis:

AFC EastAFC NorthAFC SouthAFC West
BuffaloBaltimoreHouston Denver
MiamiCincinnatiIndianapolisKansas City
New EnglandClevelandJacksonvilleOakland
NY JetsPittsburghTennesseeSan Diego
NFC EastNFC NorthNFC SouthNFC West
NY GiantsDetroitCarolinaSt. Louis
PhiladelphiaGreen BayNew OrleansSan Francisco
WashingtonMinnesotaTampa BaySeattle

Click here to order your Athlon Sports Pro Football 2013 Preview magazine

2013 NFL Training Camp: Quarterback Battles to Watch
Post date: Wednesday, July 17, 2013 - 11:45
All taxonomy terms: Essential 11, Overtime
Path: /athlons-essential-11-links-day-july-17-2013

This is your daily link roundup of our favorite sports posts on the web for July 17.


• Essential 11 favorite Kate Upton has done a photo shoot for Redemption Choppers, a custom motorcycle company. The results are intriguing.


• Mo stole the show at last night's All-Star Game. In a classy move, his fellow All-Stars allowed Rivera to take the field alone for warm-up tosses. Chill-bumps ensued. The game also yielded the most surreal piece of video I've seen in a while: Prince Fielder legging out a triple while Tim McCarver reads the words to Metallica's "Enter Sandman."


• The power of Twitter: An idiot ran onto the field and got bodyslammed because he got 1,000 re-tweets.


Johnny Football was the headliner today at SEC Media Days, where he was grilled for acting like a 20-year-old. Which he is.


• Speaking of Manziel, does Texas A&M have the SEC's best backfield? That Kevin Sumlin is building a monster down in College Station.


• Speaking of A&M, Nick Saban hasn't forgotten. And neither will his team. You've been warned.


Keith Olbermann is returning to ESPN to host a talk show on the Deuce. I give it six months until he hacks off the wrong person again.


• Lindsey Vonn Dufnering? Lindsey Vonn Dufnering, with the man himself.


Bubba Watson has mastered the photobomb, to the point that he's the one in focus.


Florida D-lineman Dominique Easley had never heard of Bear Bryant and asked if it was some sort of cartoon. I blame our educational system.


• Enjoy Mariano Rivera's last All-Star Game entrance.




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

Post date: Wednesday, July 17, 2013 - 10:30
Path: /college-football/illinois-unveils-new-helmet-2013

Illinois had a miserable 2012 season, recording a 2-10 mark in coach Tim Beckman’s first year in Champaign. But the offseason has been relatively positive for the Fighting Illini, especially with the commitment of Oklahoma State transfer quarterback Wes Lunt, who will be eligible to play for Illinois in 2014.

And then there’s the helmet change. Illinois’ helmets weren’t awful, but this updated look for 2013 is an improvement.

According to, here’s the new helmet for the Fighting Illini:

new Illinois Fighting Illini helmet


Illinois' Fighting Illini has a new helmet for 2013.
Post date: Wednesday, July 17, 2013 - 09:30
Path: /college-football/texas-am-provides-offseason-motivation-alabama

The only blemish on Alabama’s resume last season came in a Nov. 10 29-24 loss to Texas A&M.

And Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban hasn’t let his team forget, especially with a rematch set for Sept. 14 in College Station.

As this photo from the (@TexAgs) forum shows, Alabama has last year’s game with the Aggies on the televisions in the weight room, along with the A&M logo on the stations.

Alabama really doesn’t need any motivation to be ready for Texas A&M, but this is just a subtle reminder about last year’s loss in Tuscaloosa and what’s ahead for the Crimson Tide in 2013.

Texas A&M Provides Offseason Motivation for Alabama
Post date: Wednesday, July 17, 2013 - 09:00
All taxonomy terms: Funny, videos, Overtime
Path: /overtime/pro-golfers-attempt-happy-gilmore-swings-video
What happens when pro golfers, including Phil Mickelson and Paul Lawrie, try to recreate Happy Gilmore's swing? See for yourself.

What happens when a group of pro golfers, including Phil Mickelson and Paul Lawrie, try to recreate Happy Gilmore's? See for yourself.
Post date: Wednesday, July 17, 2013 - 08:48
All taxonomy terms: Funny, videos, Overtime
Path: /overtime/compilation-horrible-first-pitches-video
It's a compilation of horrible first pitches at baseball games. What more do you want?

Post date: Wednesday, July 17, 2013 - 08:35
All taxonomy terms: GIF, MLB, Overtime, News
Path: /overtime/prince-fielder-gets-triple-runs-gazelle%E2%80%A6a-fat-one-gif

During last night's MLB All-Star Game, Prince Fielder managed to reach third base. No, we're serious. He chugged his way around the bases like a fat gazelle, punctuating his effort with a head-first slide into third. No word on whether he required oxygen afterward. 

Prince Fielder Gets a Triple GIF


Prince Fielder Gets a Triple in All-Star Game


The reaction from players?

During last night's MLB All-Star Game, Prince Fielder managed to reach third base.
Post date: Wednesday, July 17, 2013 - 08:23
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-top-10-players-returning-injury-2013

Injuries are a big part of any college football season. Just ask the coaching staffs at Maryland, Missouri or USC.The Terrapins lost four quarterbacks to season-ending injuries last year, while the Tigers played 2012 without the services of standout running back Henry Josey. USC lost defensive end Devon Kennard in the preseason, which played a role in the Trojans’ defense finishing seventh in the Pac-12 in yards allowed.

With the 2013 season approaching, it’s time to take a look at how the return of injured players from 2012 will impact their team. Kennard, Josey and Maryland quarterback C.J. Brown are all expected to start in 2013, but there's no guarantee all three will be at full strength by the opening snap.

This list only includes players who missed all of last year – with one exception. So while players like Georgia’s Michael Bennett, Texas’ Jordan Hicks and Jackson Jeffcoat and TCU’s Waymon James missed significant snaps last year, each played in 2012, which made them ineligible for this article.

10 Key College Football Players Returning From Missing 2012 With Injury

Chris Black, WR, Alabama
After Amari Cooper had a breakout season last year, it’s not out of the question Alabama’s offense has another standout freshman receiver in 2013. Black was expected to play major snaps in 2012 but a shoulder injury in August sidelined him for 2013. The Jacksonville native ranked as the No. 2 receiver prospect by ESPN and was a top-100 recruit by Rivals. Black’s return will only add another weapon to Alabama’s deep (and improving) group of receivers for quarterback AJ McCarron.

C.J. Brown, QB, Maryland
Maryland was the victim of a handful of quarterback injuries last year, starting with Brown’s torn ACL in August. The Terrapins also lost Perry Hills, Caleb Rowe and Devin Burns to injuries, forcing converted linebacker Shawn Petty to step in at quarterback late in the season. Brown did not play in the spring game, and his last snap came in the 2011 season finale against NC State. The senior threw for 842 yards and seven touchdowns, while rushing for 574 yards and five scores in 2011. His best performance that season came against Clemson, recording 339 total yards and four scores. Junior college recruit (and former New Mexico signal-caller) Ricardo Young will push Brown for time this year, but the senior is the favorite to start, especially since his mobility will be an asset under coordinator Mike Locksley.

Dominique Brown, RB, Louisville
With quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and a deep cast of receivers returning, Louisville should have one of the nation’s top offenses in 2013. And the Cardinals will be even more dangerous and balanced on that side of the ball this year, as Brown is returning from a knee injury that forced him to redshirt in 2012. The Ohio native rushed for 533 yards and four touchdowns in 2011 and is expected to split time with Senorise Perry in the Louisville backfield. Brown doesn’t need to be a 1,000-yard rusher for the Cardinals’ offense to thrive, but his return will help ease Perry back into the lineup while he also recovers from a knee injury, giving Louisville a solid one-two punch in the backfield.

Travis Carrie, CB, Ohio
The Bobcats saw their MAC East title hopes derailed by injuries last year, as several key players missed time due to various ailments. Carrie missed all of 2012 due to a shoulder injury but is poised to return as one of the MAC’s top defenders in 2013. In 2011, Carrie recorded 42 tackles and 13 passes defended, earning MAC second-team all-conference honors. Carrie is one of the Bobcats’ top defenders and will be expected to provide leadership as one of the team’s leaders in his final year in Athens.

Blake Countess, CB, Michigan
We are going to cheat a little on listing Countess in this article. Although he played in the opener, Countess suffered a torn ACL in the first quarter, so he was almost robbed of a full season. That counts right? Countess was one of the Big Ten’s top freshmen in 2011, recording 44 tackles and one forced fumble in 12 games. He also defended six passes and had a career-high eight stops in the bowl win over Virginia Tech. It may take a few games for Countess to knock off the rust, but the sophomore should be one of Michigan’s top defenders in 2013.

Henry Josey, RB, Missouri
Josey was one of the nation’s top running backs in 2011, but a knee injury against Texas in mid-November ended his season prematurely. Josey had 1,168 yards and nine scores, along with four consecutive 100-yard performances before his injury against the Longhorns. The Texas native’s knee injury was devastating, which included a torn ACL, MCL and meniscus, along with a patellar tendon rupture. Josey sat out all of 2012 to recuperate but returned to play in the 2013 spring game, rushing for 13 yards and one touchdown on eight carries. There’s no guarantee Josey returns at full strength, but his return should help Missouri’s ground attack. The Tigers ranked 12th in the SEC in rush offense and must replace Kendial Lawrence after he led the team with 1,025 yards last year. Josey is expected to open the season as Missouri’s No. 1 back.

Devon Kennard, DE, USC
Kennard has moved from defensive end and linebacker throughout his USC career, so new coordinator Clancy Pendergast’s 5-2 scheme should fit his talents. The Arizona native missed all of last year with a chest injury but all signs point to return to full health for 2013. Kennard recorded two sacks in 12 games in 2011 and has 135 tackles in his career. The senior has the size and athleticism to be a perfect fit as a hybrid rush end in USC’s new-look defense.

Stefan McClure, CB, California
After leading the Pac-12 in pass defense in 2011, California took a step back last year, finishing 11th in the conference and 104th nationally. McClure was expected to be one of the top contributors in the secondary for the Golden Bears last season, but he did not recover in time from a knee injury suffered late in 2011. As a freshman, McClure recorded 24 tackles, three passes defended and picked off one pass. With more than a year to recover, California’s defensive staff hopes to have the sophomore at full strength for 2013. And his health is important for a secondary that must replace safety Josh Hill and cornerbacks Steve Williams and Marc Anthony. If he’s healthy, McClure has the potential to be an all-conference performer.

Ronald Powell, DE/LB, Florida
Powell was ready to emerge as one of the SEC’s top defenders, but he suffered a torn ACL in spring practice before the 2012 season. The California native suffered a setback early in the fall, which forced him to end any shot at a comeback for 2012. Powell may not be the same player he was in 2011 early in 2013, but the junior will be a key cog in Florida’s defense. Powell recorded 32 tackles and six sacks as a sophomore and if he’s healthy, he could easily surpass those numbers in 2013. Even if Powell isn’t at 100 percent, his return will help to bolster one of the SEC’s best front sevens.

Paul Richardson, WR, Colorado
Very few things went Colorado’s way on offense last year. The Buffaloes struggled to find consistent quarterback play, and the offense finished 117th in points scored and 116th in yards per game (302.8). However, Colorado should be better on offense this year, as new coach Mike MacIntyre and coordinator Brian Lindgren did an outstanding job of developing San Jose State’s offense in 2012. Richardson’s return should also provide a boost for the Buffaloes, as the junior has the talent to be one of the Pac-12’s top receivers. In two seasons in Boulder, Richardson has caught 73 passes for 1,069 yards and 11 scores. He is also averaging 14.6 yards per reception for his career. Assuming Colorado can find some stability at quarterback, Richardson should push for All-Pac-12 honors after missing 2012 with a torn ACL.


Other Key Players Returning After Missing All of 2013 With Injury

Kelby Brown, LB, Duke
Jordan Canzeri, RB, Iowa
Khairi Fortt, LB, California
Hau’oli Jamora, DE, Washington
Tre Madden, RB, USC
Jacobbi McDaniel, DT, Florida State
Michaelee Harris, WR, Louisville
Barkley Hill, RB, Iowa
Andre Monroe, DL, Maryland
Mario Pender, RB, Florida State
D.T. Shackelford, LB, Ole Miss
Brandon Wilds, RB, South Carolina
Jarrick Williams, DB, Alabama
Lo Wood, CB, Notre Dame

Related College Football Content

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College Football's Top 10 Players Returning From Injury for 2013
Post date: Wednesday, July 17, 2013 - 07:20
Path: /college-football/ohio-state-and-michigan-new-ten-year-war

Don’t wear anything red into the Michigan football building. Just don’t do it. Somebody will ask you to take it off. It doesn’t matter who you are, be it celebrity or head of state, or who they are, whether freshman or Brady Hoke himself, you will not be welcome.

They’re not too fond of blue in Columbus. In fact, in the days leading up to the game with Michigan, Ohio State hosts an event that allows people to turn in any clothing of that color in return for a free T-shirt and a discount on Buckeye apparel. They give the blue stuff to charities — as quickly as they can.

“It’s called ‘Lose the Blue,’” OSU athletic director Gene Smith says.

No one should be surprised about either of those revelations. The rivalry between Michigan and Ohio State is one of the most intense in college football — in all of American sports, for that matter. For decades, the schools have thirsted to defeat the other and have met on the last Saturday of every regular season except three since 1935. The games have decided the Big Ten championship dozens of times and from 1969-78 were dominated by the outsized personalities of OSU coach Woody Hayes and U-M boss Bo Schembechler. During that stretch — actually from 1969-81 — either the Buckeyes or Wolverines represented the Big Ten in the Rose Bowl every season.

Fans may be witnessing the beginning of a reprise of Bo and Woody’s “10-Year War,” thanks to Hoke and Buckeyes coach Urban Meyer. The schools may not be ushering in another decade of dominance, a la the “Big Two and Little Eight,” but it’s clear Michigan and Ohio State are setting the tone for the conference, even as it expands in today’s unpredictable climate. Their recruiting stands above that of the league’s other schools, and their performance on the field appears to be moving toward a different level. In a 12-team (soon to be 14-team) conference, it’s nearly impossible for two to dominate, ’70s style, but the Buckeyes and Wolverines could come close.

“We could be very easily at the start of another ‘10-Year War,’” says Michigan athletic director David Brandon, who played for the Wolverines from 1971-73. “There are some similarities with where we are today versus when I was part of (the rivalry).”

Yes, there are. Like Schembechler, Hoke is an Ohio native who spent some time coaching a school in the state (Toledo, 1987-89). Meyer was born in Ohio, as was Hayes. The two men went to college at schools in the state — Meyer at Cincinnati; Hayes at Denison — and both coached colleges in Ohio. Although the gregarious Hoke isn’t the same firebrand Schembechler was, he understands the high expectations at his school and realizes the importance of the rivalry. Being an Ohioan makes it easier for Meyer to appreciate the intensity of the teams’ enmity.

Related: Ranking the Big Ten Uniforms for 2013

“Obviously, (you see it) when you walk through the (Ohio State football) facility, and there’s all kinds of tributes to this game, but this is all I knew growing up,” Meyer said last November before the Buckeyes’ win over Michigan. “It’s all anybody knew. In the era when I grew up, there really wasn’t much other than three channels on your television, and this game.”

Hayes left Ohio State after the ’78 season, and Schembechler lasted until 1989. The ensuing two-plus decades have featured some great games, upset victories and outstanding performances, but the teams weren’t always on the same footing. When one would thrive, the other might sag a little. Now, the two schools seem to be ascending concurrently.

The primary reason is their approach to recruiting, which is more aggressive and persistent than much of the Big Ten. When Meyer took over in 2012, he did not apologize for contacting committed — but unsigned — prospects at other conference schools and hired assistants who were dedicated to pursuing recruits almost constantly. Hoke and his staff had already been recruiting with an extremely aggressive approach, but they are quite aware of the OSU style and have become even more earnest.

“On most staffs you see four good recruiters and five average ones,” says Tom Lemming, of CBS Sports Network. “At Ohio State, there are nine great recruiters. It’s the same with (Alabama’s) Nick Saban and (LSU’s) Les Miles. If you’re an assistant, your hobby has to be recruiting, not golf.

“Brady Hoke is a blue-collar, aggressive, non-stop recruiter. He realizes that if he ­doesn’t do it that way, he’s going to get steamrolled by Ohio State.”

It helps that both head coaches have personalities that can draw the attention of top recruits and convince them to attend their schools. Meyer’s track record — two national championships at Florida — and year spent as an analyst at ESPN have established him as a star in the coaching ranks. But it’s not just Meyer’s Q score. His assistants are relentless, and he is, too. Within a few hours of his taking the OSU job in late 2011, he was on the phone to Rich Hansen of St. Peter’s (N.J.) Prep to tell him he was back in business. Whereas former OSU coach Jim Tressel was able to lock down Ohio, Meyer is willing to sacrifice a few prospects in-state to attract better, faster players from all over.

Related: Best and Worst Times to be a Michigan Fan

“I’ll bet (Meyer) called 100 coaches the day he was hired,” Lemming says. “He goes the extra mile. Other coaches may have been partying if they got that job. He went to work immediately.”

Hoke was a member of Lloyd Carr’s staff in the late ’90s, when Michigan began to extend its recruiting reach, so he understands the need to be more than just the king of the Rust Belt. He has made strong inroads into Ohio, but he has the Wolverines looking nationally, too. And where Meyer is perpetually intense and unfailingly direct, Hoke has a more laid-back approach that works well with 18-year-olds.

“Brady really connects with people,” Brandon says. “He’s a very genuine guy, and what you see is what you get. There’s no phoniness, no fake polish and no P.R. spinning. He’s not trying to be someone he isn’t.

“He’s honest and straightforward, and he’s a likeable guy with very little ego. Michigan football isn’t about him. The players like that.”

A lot of coaches work hard on the recruiting trails, but few have the ability to sell what Michigan and Ohio State do. Each program has decades of tradition, multiple national titles, gigantic, jam-packed stadiums and facilities that are unsurpassed in the Big Ten — and surpassed by few, if any, other programs in the nation. The schools are committed to athletic success and have the ability to reach out beyond the conference’s Midwestern (and soon to be Eastern) footprint in search of elite players capable of competing against the nation’s best.

This past February, in addition to mining Michigan (eight signees) and Ohio (nine), the Wolverines brought in players from Virginia, Colorado, North Carolina and Maryland. OSU culled 11 from within the Buckeye State but also attracted talent from Texas (three players), Georgia (two), Florida, California, Missouri and North and South Carolina.

Michigan has already received commitments from players hailing from Utah, Virginia and Florida for 2014. While OSU’s class includes players from Ohio and Michigan, don’t expect Meyer and his staff to spend all of their time in the two states.

Related: Will Michigan Play in a BCS Bowl in 2013?

And look out for the head-to-head battle that is surely coming for Grand Rapids Christian (Mich.) High School standout Drake Harris. The 6'4", 185-pound 4-star wideout committed to Michigan in April, the day after he visited Ohio State. Don’t expect Meyer to give up on Harris until the young man signs a letter-of-intent next February. It would be great for Meyer to steal one from Michigan; more important, it would add another speedy player to the OSU roster.

“There aren’t enough fast athletes to go around in the Midwest,” says Bobby Burton, co-CEO of “You can’t exist solely on Midwest players, not at an elite level.

Urban Meyer“Meyer was a coach at Florida and an assistant at Notre Dame, so he’s been part of that. When Brady Hoke was an assistant at Michigan (from 1995-2002), they went national. These guys understand.”

The Wolverines and Buckeyes received some unexpected assistance in their move to the top of the league when the NCAA slammed Penn State with four years of probation in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal. Although Bill O’Brien did a fine job last year, leading the Nittany Lions to an 8–4 record, the severe recruiting restrictions placed on PSU and its four-year bowl ban won’t allow it to be an influential player on the national recruiting scene. If O’Brien takes an NFL head coaching job, as it was rumored over the winter he might, that would hurt Penn State further.

Nebraska, which was expected to be a strong counterbalance to the traditional Big Ten bullies, has yet to reach that level, although it has quite a tradition of winning. When we last saw the Cornhuskers, they were surrendering 115 points in their final two games of the 2012 season.

The arrivals of Hoke and Meyer signal a new chapter in the Michigan-Ohio State hostilities, at least on the field. As for the other parts of the rivalry, the continued reconfiguring of conferences could lead to some interesting decisions. Right now, the schools are committed to playing the game on the regular season’s last week, and in the afternoon.

“There will be a time when someone will ask about playing it in primetime, which I won’t do,” OSU athletic director Gene Smith says. “We will do everything we can to protect it.”

Smith’s stance is admirable, but schools don’t control their scheduling destinies, even those with annual nine-figure athletic revenues, like Ohio State. If the networks demand a primetime kickoff, it will be hard to refuse, especially when all of this realignment business has been fueled by TV money.

Then there is the divisional situation. Right now, the teams are separated, leading some to wonder what the response would be if the Buckeyes and Wolverines met one week on the regular-season slate and seven days later in the Big Ten title tilt.

“I’m okay with that,” Brandon says.

But when Rutgers and Maryland join up in 2014, the league will go with a more conventional, East and West configuration, rather than the current — and absurd — Legends and Leaders setup. This will put Michigan and Ohio State in the same division and end any talk of a doubleheader. Under the league’s new alignment, the contest could become a de facto conference semifinal, with the winners advancing to the Big Ten Championship Game.

The rivalry seems set for another period of high-profile, high-level play. Urban and Brady might not top Woody and Bo, but it sure looks like fun is on the horizon. And everybody seems ready for it.

“There’s a different feeling when you walk into (Ohio Stadium), especially when you’re wearing a Michigan jersey,” Michigan senior offensive tackle Taylor Lewan says. “Our coaches are big on the Navy SEALS idea of a small group going in against big numbers and getting the job done and leaving. I love it. I love feeling the hate.

“Every single game, I want the guy who lines up across from me to be hurting at the end of the game. When it comes to Michigan-Ohio State, it’s different. I want to hit the guy a little harder.”

That’s what you get for wearing red around a Wolverine.


Written by Michael Bradley for Athlon Sports. This article appeared in Athlon Sports' 2013 Big Ten Preview Edition. Visit our online store to order your copy to get more in-depth analysis on the 2013 Big 12 season.

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5 First-Year Starting QBs Who Could Win College Football's National Title

Ohio State and Michigan: The New Ten-Year War
Post date: Wednesday, July 17, 2013 - 07:20
Path: /nascar/nascar-numbers-game-taking-stock-2013-sprint-cup-season

The off week prior to the race at Indianapolis serves as a welcome respite to everyone in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series except crew chiefs who might be on the hot seat. One casualty of “chopping block week” occurred Tuesday morning when BK Racing relieved Pat Tryson of his duties as the head wrench for David Reutimann’s No. 83 entry.

Tryson, formerly of Roush Fenway Racing and Penske Racing, was brought into BK’s burgeoning campus at the end of the 2012 season, bringing 50 races worth of Chase experience to an organization just under a year old. His expertise could be one to enhance an operation that fancied itself on the come; however, instead of a young Landon Cassill, 43-year-old David Reutimann was named the driver of the Tryson-led No. 83. Reutimann is currently carving out his second consecutive season of replacement-level production. Suffice to say, the No. 83 team hasn’t resembled a sharp outfit at any point in 2013.

6.6  The good news about Reutimann and Tryson is that they were actually the most consistent team in the Cup Series among full-time driver-crew chief combinations, per their 6.6 finish deviation.

The bad news is that consistent deviation supports a 29.4-place average finish. So, yes, consistently awful is how one could describe the floundering Burger King-backed team. Just call them the “Sacramento Burger Kings.”

Most drivers and teams aren’t on the chopping block. With an off week on the horizon, a look at some oft-ignored aspects of the sport seems timely.

88.89%  The teams of Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Greg Biffle lead full-time Cup entries in base retainment percentage at the end of races, each with an 88.89 percent mark.  Greg Biffle and Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

What is base retainment percentage? It is how often a driver holds or gains his/her position with 10 percent of a race to go until the drop of the checkered flag. Essentially, it’s NASCAR’s version of playing defense. The Roush Fenway Racing duo of Stenhouse and Biffle happen to be adept at it.

That isn’t to say they don’t also play offense too. Stenhouse is the Cup Series’ biggest position gainer at the end of races, currently sporting a plus-14 percent position retainment difference. Biffle ranks third with a plus-10.8 percent take. These numbers change much of the perception of both drivers’ seasons. Stenhouse, a rookie, has struggled to produce results but at least has stout position retainment to show for what will be considered a learning year. Biffle, who will likely earn a Chase berth after a yucky start to 2013 has regressed in results getting (his 1.132 PEER is a far cry from his 2.639 in 2012), has this element of his racing repertoire to thank. He is currently turning a 17.5-place average running position with 10 percent to go into a 15.6-place average finish.

84.21%  Aric Almirola, crew chief Todd Parrott and the No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports team have finished in the top half of fields 84.21 percent of the time.

Obtaining those top-half finishes is terrific for one’s Chase chances; as a matter of fact, teams that hit a mark of 80-plus have made NASCAR’s playoffs 93.1 percent of the time. While Almirola and company would be best served gunning for a victory and a host of other high finishes in the next seven races, the driver demonstrated a knack for solidly finishing races in this manner while in the NASCAR Nationwide Series. Driving for JR Motorsports, Almirola led full-time Nationwide Series drivers with a percentage of 91.18 in 2011.

55.68%  Kyle Busch is the current Cup Series leader in pass efficiency, overtaking on 55.68 percent of his encounters.

His aggressive nature has always made him the Kyle Busch we know and appreciate (for the most part). The penchant for passing is a byproduct of that and a race car carrying a lot of speed. Busch’s No. 18 ranks fifth in average green-flag speed per NASCAR, which means he hasn’t had the fastest car in the series through 19 races, but he is still been able to wreak havoc with it. As Busch alluded to in his post-race interview at New Hampshire, in 11 clean races — events without some sort of equipment, crash or penalty-related malady — he has finished no lower than sixth. His ability to pass has been a big reason for his top-heavy success so far this year.

0.11  David Ragan and J.J. Yeley have the cleanest crash frequency, 0.11, among full-time Cup Series drivers.

The 0.11 signifies two crashes across 19 races. Their lack of equipment damage has been a coup for their respective teams — Front Row Motorsports for Ragan and Tommy Baldwin Racing for Yeley — that operate with a low budget. For both organizations, money and time saved on repair, fabrication or new-car building can be used for making the current crop of cars in their stable much faster.

0.75  The most recent race winner, Brian Vickers, has the worst crash frequency in the Cup Series, a 0.75 mark.  Brian Vickers

So if any reservations remain with Michael Waltrip Racing on whether they should sign Vickers to a full slate of 2014 races, you now understand why. Vickers also led the series in crash frequency in 2011 (0.58) and had the fifth-worst frequency of 2010 (0.45). The 2012 season proved to be something of an anomaly; he didn’t crash once in eight races.

For PEER and other metrics with which you may be unfamiliar, I refer you to my glossary of terms on

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


Photos by Action Sports, Inc.


David Smith crunches the numbers for the Sprint Cup Series in his weekly "NASCAR Numbers Game" column.
Post date: Tuesday, July 16, 2013 - 18:10
All taxonomy terms: College Football, News
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-link-roundup-july-16

With SEC Media Days kicking off on Tuesday, the offseason has officially ended. Fall camps are just around the corner.

Feel free to contact us on twitter with a link or a tip we should include each day. (@AthlonSteven)

College Football's Must-Read Stories Around the Web for Tuesday, July 16th

If you are watching or listening to the press conferences in Hoover, Ala. the next few days, check out SBNation's SEC Media Days Bingo

Adam Jude of The Seattle Times takes a look at the decision facing Washington coach Steve Sarkisian on tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins. In case you missed it yesterday, Seferian-Jenkins pleaded guilty to a drunken driving charge.

Why did Athlon Sports pick Syracuse to finish 4-8? What about the future of Scott Shafer and transfer quarterback Drew Allen? I discussed all of these topics and more with this week.

Nebraska's field has some new lettering on the sidelines this year, as showcased in this photo from the Big Ten Network.

Receiver (and Miami, Ohio transfer) Nick Harwell is still trying to get eligible to play at Kansas in 2013.

Mr. SEC takes a look at who is most likely to cause a stir at SEC Media Days.

Colorado quarterback Shane Dillon has decided to transfer to play basketball at another college. Dillon's transfer leaves former Texas quarterback Connor Wood as the Buffaloes' likely starter for 2013.

Here's a good look at Missouri's pre-fall camp depth chart.

Who will start at quarterback for Southern Miss this year?

Want to be a NCAA official? Check out this test from the Big Ten Network.

Clemson heads into fall practice with uncertainty at tight end

One of Oklahoma's incoming freshmen is headed to junior college instead of Norman.

Two Pittsburgh players won't return to the team for 2013.

Crystal Ball Run previews the top-10 non-conference games in the SEC for 2013.

Some details have emerged about the dismissal of FIU running back Kedrick Rhodes.

A preview of California's young (but talented) receiving corps for 2013.

College Football's Link Roundup: July 16
Post date: Tuesday, July 16, 2013 - 16:39
All taxonomy terms: Funny, GIF, Overtime
Path: /overtime/chris-farley-sec-media-days-video
We're not sure, but we think Chris Farley may have shown up at SEC Media Days. And apparently he's a big Will Muschamp fan. 

We don't see too well, is that Chris Farley at SEC Media Days?
Post date: Tuesday, July 16, 2013 - 16:15
Path: /2013-british-open-what-theyre-saying

Here's what some possible contenders are saying leading up to this week's Open Championship at Muirfield Golf Course:


• Tiger Woods: "I feel very good about my game. I felt very, very good going into major championships. I've had a pretty good year this year so far; won four times. Even though I haven't won a major championship in five years, I've been there in a bunch of them where I've had chances. I just need to keep putting myself there and eventually I'll get some."


• Phil Mickelson: "You need an element of luck, but you also need to play some great golf. These last few months I've played well enough to get in contention and play well, but I do need some luck. I am really optimistic about this week and going forward because I'm starting to putt as well as I ever have."


• Graeme McDowell, who's paired with Tiger Woods and Louis Oosthuizen on Thursday and Friday: "I've played with Tiger enough now over the years to be more than comfortable with it and you want to be playing with the best in the world. You don't need to create any intensity on the Thursday of a major but playing with him increases the focus. It gets you fired up and ready to go. He's the kind of guy you want to be measuring yourself against on a course set up like this. Finish one ahead of Tiger on Sunday and you're not going to be far away."


• Masters champ Adam Scott: "I think it’s the greatest tournament in the world. It’s really the one you want to win. Well, except for an Aussie. Because an Aussie always wanted to win the Masters."


• U.S. Open champ Justin Rose: "I have faced questions for years about who the next English guy to break through will be. I feel fortunate it was me who broke through first but I am sure it will give the others a little extra burst of enthusiasm. It probably gives them that added bit of belief. I wouldn't be surprised if one of the other guys follow in the not too distant future."


• Brandt Snedeker, last year's 36-hole leader at the Open: "I just made typical American mistakes. The first two days I had no wind really whatsoever, and played great golf. The last 36 holes I drove the ball horribly. I tried to ride the wind too many times. I tried to not play against the odds; you've got to try to hold the ball up against the wind. Little stuff like that."


• Rory McIlroy: "I like Muirfield and feel I can play well. It’s fast, firm and this is going to be a great test. If you hit it in the rough here, you’re chipping out."


• Defending champion Ernie Els: "I feel quite good about my game. I feel like I'm striking it nicely. There are a lot of good things happening in my game. … I really can't wait for Thursday. I really have a good feel about it."

Post date: Tuesday, July 16, 2013 - 15:59
Path: /mlb/13-amazing-mlb-stats-week-july-8-14

The Rays’ pitching is stingy, the Mariners’ bats get lively, a Brew Crew starter finally completes a game, the Pirates finally answer the A’s and Tim Lincecum finds his groove with a no-no. These notable numbers and more from the week of July 8-14.

3    Complete games by the Tampa Bay Rays’ pitching staff last week

The Rays' starters completed more games last week than starters of 18 teams have all season.

8:1    Strikeout:Walk ratio of the Rays’ pitching staff last week
The Rays are challenging the Red Sox in the AL East having won 17 of their last 21 and 14 of 16. The pitching dominated the Twins and Astros last week with 64 strikeouts and just eight walks. Rookie Chris Archer made two starts and logged 15 innings without issuing a free pass.

418    Games played by the Milwaukee Brewers between complete games

Milwaukee starting pitchers have taken the hill in 418 games — including 11 in the postseason — without throwing a complete game. Wily Peralta notched the first complete game of his career and the first for the Brewers since Yovani Gallardo tossed a two-hit shutout of the Braves on April 5, 2011. The game was also the first that Peralta’s mom, Miledy Peralta, saw her son pitch in person as a professional.

16-3    Pirates record when scoring two or more runs since June 16
Pittsburgh’s pitching has been dynamite over the past month. It doesn’t take much from the offense for the Bucs to pull out a win. Since the middle of June, whenever the lineup has mustered as much as two runs, the Pirates’ pitching makes it stand up — at least 16 of the past 19 times.

34    Home wins for Tampa Bay
That total is the most in baseball, but the Rays’ 21-22 road record leaves them with the third-best record in the American League, and fifth-best overall. If the Rays don’t win the AL East, it could be important that they host the wild card game rather than go on the road.

.524    Seattle Mariners’ slugging percentage last week
The mark led the majors as the Mariners put up 48 runs over seven games. The team batted .310 with 19 doubles and 11 home runs. The pitching staff wasn’t quite up to the task, which led to a 4-3 record. The Mariners have now homered in 22 consecutive games, raising their slugging percentage from .378 to .401 over that stretch.

74    Starts between complete games for Tim Lincecum
For more than two seasons, the former Cy Young winner has struggled with velocity and command. But last Saturday, The Freak finally put it all together and no-hit the San Diego Padres. Lincecum broke a string of 74 starts without finishing what he started.

24-14    Philadelphia’s record within the NL East
The Phillies own the best record in games within their division. They have just three NL East games (Mets) prior to the trade deadline. All but four of the Phillies’ September games are within their division, which may give them confidence they can win the division this season.

+127    St. Louis Cardinals’ run differential
The Redbirds ended the first half with a +127 run differential, easily the best in the majors. Only three other teams in the majors have a run differential more than half that of St. Louis (Boston +91, Detroit +89 and Atlanta +78).

2    Players in history with 30 home runs and 90 RBIs prior to the All-Star break

Both Chris Davis of Baltimore and the Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera accomplished that this season.

11-1    Oakland’s all-time record vs. Pittsburgh
Since Interleague play began in 1997, no team has dominated another across league lines like the Oakland A’s have owned the Pittsburgh Pirates. The teams have rarely met, but when they got together prior to this season, it was all Oakland. The A’s swept three-game series in 2002, ’04 and ’10 before taking the first two of the three-game set this year. But lefthander Francisco Liriano helped the Pirates break the string by leading Pittsburgh to a 5-0 win on July 10, giving the Pirates a 1-11 record against the A’s.

.488    Allen Craig’s batting average with runners in scoring position and two outs
The highest average in any one season in the 2000s with a minimum of 60 plate appearances is .472 by Ichiro Suzuki with Seattle in 2004. At .475, Miguel Cabrera of Detroit also has a chance to top Ichiro’s mark this season.

9    Extra-base hits in last nine games for the Yankees
The Yankees have been anything but the Bronx bombers of late. Over the past nine games, they’ve managed just five doubles and four home runs. All nine games were played at Yankees Stadium, typically a hitter-friendly park for the home team.

The Rays’ pitching is stingy, the Mariners’ bats get lively, a Brew Crew starter finally completes a game, the Pirates finally answer the A’s and Tim Lincecum finds his groove with a no-no. These notable numbers and more from the week of July 8-14.
Post date: Tuesday, July 16, 2013 - 15:48
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Florida Gators, SEC, News
Path: /college-football/will-muschamp-takes-shot-ohio-state

Remember the stories about Ohio State turning in Florida for recruiting violations?

Well, Gators’ coach Will Muschamp had a few words for the Buckeyes (who were banned from a bowl game in 2012 due to NCAA violations) during his media day session on Tuesday. 


Will Muschamp Takes a Shot at Ohio State
Post date: Tuesday, July 16, 2013 - 14:26
Path: /college-football/renovated-husky-stadium-looks-awesome

Washington’s Husky Stadium was demolished after the 2011 season, forcing the Huskies to spend a year at the Seahawks’ CenturyLink Field for 2012.

However, Husky Stadium is rebuilt and ready to go for kickoff on Aug. 31 against Boise State. Don’t believe me? Check out the photo below.

Husky Stadium’s official twitter account (@HuskyStadium) posted this photo recently, showcasing the rebuilt and improved stadium for 2013.

Post date: Tuesday, July 16, 2013 - 11:14
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2013-idp-rankings

NFL training camps open up this week, meaning we are that much closer to the start of the regular season and fantasy football. While kickoff may still be nearly a month away, it's never too early to start preparing for your draft.

While fantasy football is more associated with offensive skill players, quite a few leagues out there also use the ones on the other side of the ball in their lineups. Individual Defensive Players (IDPs) can be just as valuable to your team, especially if you are fortunate enough to draft someone like J.J. Watt.

The reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year was a fantasy monster last year, as he outscored the No. 2 defensive lineman (Cameron Wake) by more than 60 points and was the No. 1 IDP in all of fantasy football. Watt will be hard-pressed to repeat some of his numbers from 2012, such as his 16 passes defended, but as long as he stays healthy, he should be more than capable of justifying using a high draft pick on.

Fellow DLs Jason Pierre-Paul, DeMarcus Ware and Wake are next on our rankings, as they, like Watt, have a knack for getting to the quarterback and making the big play.

Typically the best bang for your buck when it comes to IDPs is at linebacker, as this is the position that usually racks up the tackles. Options like Luke Kuechly, San Francisco's All-Pro tandem of Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman, and James Laurinaitis, Lavonte David and Von Miller headline this group. Not to be left out are the defensive backs, who are capable of racking up quite a few fantasy points themselves, especially when they are able to convert an interception or a fumble recovery into a touchdown.

Chicago's Chris Tillman put on a clinic in this respect last season, turning three interceptions and two fumble recoveries into three scores while forcing a total of 10 fumbles by himself. The veteran Tillman will be another popular draft pick this year, along with younger options like Morgan Burnett, Mark Barron, Eric Berry, Harrison Smith and Richard Sherman.

Order your Athlon Sports 2013 Fantasy Football Preview magazine today!

Fantasy Football 2013: Individual Defensive Players (IDP) Rankings

1J.J. WattHOUDL8
2Jason Pierre-PaulNYGDL9
3DeMarcus WareDALDL11
4Cameron WakeMIADL6
5Luke KuechlyCARLB4
6Jared AllenMINDL5
7Patrick WillisSFLB9
8Mario WilliamsBUFDL12
9Elvis DumervilBALDL8
10James LaurinaitisSTLLB11
11Derrick JohnsonKCLB10
12Calais CampbellARIDL9
13Morgan BurnettGBDB4
14Mark BarronTBDB5
15Charles JohnsonCARDL4
16Geno AtkinsCINDL12
17NaVorro BowmanSFLB9
18Lavonte DavidTBLB5
19Osi UmenyioraATLDL6
20Von MillerDENLB9
21Julius PeppersCHIDL8
22Eric BerryKCDB10
23Paul PoslusznyJACLB9
24Eric WeddleSDDB8
25Jerod MayoNELB10
26Robert QuinnSTLDL11
27Corey LiugetSDDL8
28Harrison SmithMINDB5
29Richard ShermanSEADB12
30Cliff AvrilSEADL12
31Chandler JonesNEDL10
32Derrick MorganTENDL8
33Carlos DunlapCINDL12
34Sean WeatherspoonATLLB6
35D’Qwell JacksonCLELB10
36Cameron JordanNODL7
37Greg HardyCARDL4
38Bobby WagnerSEALB12
39Chad GreenwayMINLB5
40Charles TillmanCHIDB8
41Tyvon BranchOAKDB7
42Cortland FinneganSTLDB11
43Daryl WashingtonARILB9
44London FletcherWASLB5
45Aldon SmithSFLB9
46Haloti NgataBALDL8
47Anthony SpencerDALDL11
48Wesley WoodyardDENLB9
49Rob NinkovichNEDL10
50Arthur BrownBALLB8
51LaRon LandryINDDB8
52Antoine BetheaINDDB8
53Lawrence TimmonsPITLB5
54Bernard PollardTENDB8
55Janoris JenkinsSTLDB11
56Brian RobisonMINDL5
57Chris LongSTLDL11
58Patrick PetersonARIDB9
59Zach BrownTENLB8
60Brian CushingHOULB8
61Curtis LoftonNOLB7
62Lamarr HoustonOAKDL7
63Sean LeeDALLB11
64Terrell SuggsBALLB8
65Ziggy AnsahDETDL9
66Bruce IrvinSEADL12
67Reshad JonesMIADB6
68Eric ReidSFDB9
69Justin TuckNYGDL9
70Dawan LandryNYJDB10
71Devin McCourtyNEDB10
72Donald ButlerSDLB8
73Manti Te'oSDLB8
74Lance BriggsCHILB8
75Vontaze BurfictCINLB12

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

Solo tackle = 1 pt
Tackle assist = 0.5 pts
Sack = 3.5 pts
Interception = 3.5 pts
Forced fumble/recovery = 2 pts
Defensive TD = 8 pts
Safety = 2 pts
Pass Defended = 0.5 pts
Blocked Kick = 4 pts

Additional Fantasy Football Rankings:

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


Fantasy Football 2013: IDP Rankings
Post date: Tuesday, July 16, 2013 - 11:00
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2013-linebacker-rankings

NFL training camps open up this week, meaning we are that much closer to the start of the regular season and fantasy football. While kickoff may still be nearly a month away, it's never too early to start preparing for your draft.

With apologies to defensive linemen along the lines of a J.J. Watt and the occasional breakout season by a defensive back, a la Charles Tillman last season, linebackers are typically the most productive fantasy IDPs. Of the top 20 fantasy IDPs in 2012, the only non-LBs on the list were the aforementioned Watt and Tillman.

Since there are so many LBs out there capable of being a valuable fantasy contributor, who you need to target in your draft is somewhat dependent on personal preference. For example, if you are looking for someone who racks up a lot of tackles, Luke Kuechly, James Laurinaitis, Lavonte David and Paul Posluszny are some of the top options to consider. Kuechly, the NFL's Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2012, is a tackling machine whose value could reach another level should he find a way to increase his production in a few other categories.

There also are LBs who make a good living by piling up the sacks, such as Von Miller, Aldon Smith and Clay Matthews. Miller in particular is appealing because of his big-play ability (six forced fumbles in 2012). And then there are the solid, all-around LBs, those may not shine in any one category, but are no less valuable and can serve as the anchor of your IDP unit.

Teammates Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman highlight this list, along with Derrick Johnson, Jerod Mayo, Sean Weatherspoon and D'Qwell Jackson. Daryl Washington would be near the top as well, but he is scheduled to serve a four-game suspension to open the season, which hurts his overall value.

Order your Athlon Sports 2013 Fantasy Football Preview magazine today!

Fantasy Football 2013: Linebacker (LB) Rankings

1Luke KuechlyCAR4
2Patrick WillisSF9
3James LaurinaitisSTL11
4Derrick JohnsonKC10
5NaVorro BowmanSF9
6Lavonte DavidTB5
7Von MillerDEN9
8Paul PoslusznyJAC9
9Jerod MayoNE10
10Sean WeatherspoonATL6
11D’Qwell JacksonCLE10
12Bobby WagnerSEA12
13Chad GreenwayMIN5
14Daryl WashingtonARI9
15London FletcherWAS5
16Aldon SmithSF9
17Wesley WoodyardDEN9
18Arthur BrownBAL8
19Lawrence TimmonsPIT5
20Zach BrownTEN8
21Brian CushingHOU8
22Curtis LoftonNO7
23Sean LeeDAL11
24Terrell SuggsBAL8
25Clay MatthewsGB4
26Donald ButlerSD8
27Manti Te'oSD8
28Lance BriggsCHI8
29Vontaze BurfictCIN12
30Desmond BishopMIN5
31David HarrisNYJ10
32DeMeco RyansPHI12
33Dannell EllerbeMIA6
34Jarvis JonesPIT5
35Brandon GrahamPHI12
36Jerrell FreemanIND8
37Kevin MinterARI9
38Akeem AyersTEN8
39Mason FosterTB5
40Pat AngererIND8
41Alec OgletreeSTL11
42Perry RileyWAS5
43Rey MaualugaCIN12
44Justin HoustonKC10
45Jabaal SheardCLE10
46Brandon SpikesNE10
47Larry FootePIT5
48Mychal KendricksPHI12
49Russell AllenJAC9
50Karlos DansbyARI9

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

Solo tackle = 1 pt
Tackle assist = 0.5 pts
Sack = 3.5 pts
Interception = 3.5 pts
Forced fumble/recovery = 2 pts
Defensive TD = 8 pts
Safety = 2 pts
Pass Defended = 0.5 pts
Blocked Kick = 4 pts

Additional Fantasy Football Rankings:

2013 Big Board (Top 250)
Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends
Defense/Special Teams
Top 75 IDP

Defensive Linemen
Defensive Backs

Fantasy Football 2013: Linebacker Rankings
Post date: Tuesday, July 16, 2013 - 11:00
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2013-defensive-lineman-rankings

NFL training camps open up this week, meaning we are that much closer to the start of the regular season and fantasy football. While kickoff may still be nearly a month away, it's never too early to start preparing for your draft.

Last season when it came to fantasy defensive linemen (DL), there was J.J. Watt and then everyone else. The reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year not only outscored the No. 2 DL (Cameron Wake) by more than 60 points, he was the No. 1 IDP in all of fantasy football.

Besides collecting a league-high 20.5 sacks, one of the reasons Watt was so valuable was his all-around production, including 16 passes defended. It seems unlikely that Watt will be able to match that total this season, but that doesn't mean he can't come close to repeating his overall fantasy production. As remarkable a season as Watt had in 2012, keep one thing in mind — he didn't score a single touchdown.

Watt is not the only DL out there capable of being a difference-maker from a fantasy standpoint either. Jason Pierre-Paul, DeMarcus Ware, Wake, Jared Allen and Mario Williams also are capable of racking up the sack totals and making their fair share of big plays. Pierre-Paul and Ware in particular are two worth keeping an eye on during training camp and the preseason.

Pierre-Paul had back surgery on June 5 and the expected recovery time of 12 weeks puts his return right around the time of the Giants' season opener on Sept. 8. Pierre-Paul said he expects to be ready to go in Week 1, but this is a situation worth monitoring. Pierre-Paul's division rival, Ware, will have to adjust to a new position, as the Cowboys' transition to a 4-3 scheme means Ware will move from linebacker to defensive end. While he may not have been a top-tier LB, Ware's track record in the sack category alone should make him one of the top DLs in fantasy, provided he's able to maintain that production as his new position.

Order your Athlon Sports 2013 Fantasy Football Preview magazine today!

Fantasy Football 2013: Defensive Lineman (DL) Rankings

1J.J. WattHOU8
2Jason Pierre-PaulNYG9
3DeMarcus WareDAL11
4Cameron WakeMIA6
5Jared AllenMIN5
6Mario WilliamsBUF12
7Elvis DumervilBAL8
8Calais CampbellARI9
9Charles JohnsonCAR4
10Geno AtkinsCIN12
11Osi UmenyioraATL6
12Julius PeppersCHI8
13Robert QuinnSTL11
14Corey LiugetSD8
15Cliff AvrilSEA12
16Chandler JonesNE10
17Derrick MorganTEN8
18Carlos DunlapCIN12
19Cameron JordanNO7
20Greg HardyCAR4
21Haloti NgataBAL8
22Anthony SpencerDAL11
23Rob NinkovichNE10
24Brian RobisonMIN5
25Chris LongSTL11
26Muhammad WilkersonNYJ10
27Lamarr HoustonOAK7
28Ezekiel AnsahDET9
29Bruce IrvinSEA12
30Justin TuckNYG9
31Vince WilforkNE10
32Ndamukong SuhDET9
33Michael JohnsonCIN12
34Trent ColePHI12
35Everson GriffenMIN5
36Kroy BiermannATL6
37Marcell DareusBUF12
38Fletcher CoxPHI12
39Mathias KiwanukaNYG9
40Michael BennettSEA12
41Will SmithNO7
42Dwight FreeneySD8
43Jason BabinJAC9
44Robert MathisIND8
45Henry MeltonCHI8
46Star LotuleleiCAR4
47Dion JordanMIA6
48Sharrif FloydMIN5
49Damontre MooreNYG9
50Adrian ClaybornTB5

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

Solo tackle = 1 pt
Tackle assist = 0.5 pts
Sack = 3.5 pts
Interception = 3.5 pts
Forced fumble/recovery = 2 pts
Defensive TD = 8 pts
Safety = 2 pts
Pass Defended = 0.5 pts
Blocked Kick = 4 pts

Additional Fantasy Football Rankings:

2013 Big Board (Top 250)
Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends
Defense/Special Teams
Top 75 IDP

Defensive Backs


Fantasy Football 2013: Defensive Lineman Rankings
Post date: Tuesday, July 16, 2013 - 11:00
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2013-defensive-back-rankings

NFL training camps open up this week, meaning we are that much closer to the start of the regular season and fantasy football. While kickoff may still be nearly a month away, it's never too early to start preparing for your draft.

Chris Tillman put together one of the finest IDP seasons by a defensive back in 2012. The veteran cornerback not only produced solid tackle totals (85), he recorded 16 passes defended, forced an impressive 10 fumbles, collected five takeaways and scored three touchdowns. Tillman was the No. 1 fantasy DB for the second straight year, one of the reasons why he's in our top 10 for 2013.

Also in our top 10 is Morgan Burnett, another NFC North DB, who is our pick for No. 1 because of his all-around production. A safety who plays more like a linebacker, Burnett is not afraid of doing the dirty work (123 total tackles in '12) and is just as capable of getting the job done in coverage (11 passes defended in 2011) as well. Others in the Tillman-Burnett mold who make our top 10 include second-year players Mark Barron and Harrison Smith, as well as more seasoned options like Eric Berry, Eric Weddle, Richard Sherman, Tyvon Branch and Cortland Finnegan.

Several fantasy stalwarts changed teams during the offseason, but should remain productive options in their new surroundings. The old faces in new places include LaRon Landry (Indianapolis), Bernard Pollard (Tennessee), Dawan Landry (New York Jets) and future Hall of Famer Ed Reed (Houston).

Lastly, some of the rookies to watch this season include Eric Reid in San Francisco, Matt Elam with Baltimore and Jacksonville's Johnathan Cyprien. As the aforementioned Smith and fellow 2012 draft pick Janoris Jenkins showed last season when they both ended up as top-five DBs, offensive rookies aren't the only ones who can have a fantasy impact.

Order your Athlon Sports 2013 Fantasy Football Preview magazine today!

Fantasy Football 2013: Defensive Back (DB) Rankings

1Morgan BurnettGB4
2Mark BarronTB5
3Eric BerryKC10
4Eric WeddleSD8
5Harrison SmithMIN5
6Richard ShermanSEA12
7Charles TillmanCHI8
8Tyvon BranchOAK7
9Cortland FinneganSTL11
10LaRon LandryIND8
11Antoine BetheaIND8
12Bernard PollardTEN8
13Janoris JenkinsSTL11
14Patrick PetersonARI9
15Reshad JonesMIA6
16Eric ReidSF9
17Dawan LandryNYJ10
18Devin McCourtyNE10
19William MooreATL6
20Matt ElamBAL8
21Ryan ClarkPIT5
22Jarius BrydBUF12
23Brandon FlowersKC10
24Jason McCourtyTEN8
25Tim JenningsCHI8
26Major WrightCHI8
27Da'Norris SearcyBUF12
28Roman HarperNO7
29Jonathan CyprienJAC9
30Ed ReedHOU8
31George WilsonTEN8
32Troy PolamaluPIT5
33Keenan LewisNO7
34Kam ChancellorSEA12
35Dee MillinerNYJ10
36Thomas DeCoudATL6
37Aqib TalibNE10
38Dashon GoldsonTB5
39Alterraun VernerTEN8
40Cary WilliamsPHI12
41Patrick ChungPHI12
42DeAngelo HallWAS5
43Reggie NelsonCIN12
44Madieu WilliamsWAS5
45T.J. McDonaldSTL11
46Kenny VaccaroNO7
47Brent GrimesMIA6
48Antoine CasonARI9
49Antrel RolleNYG9
50Desmond TrufantATL6

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

Solo tackle = 1 pt
Tackle assist = 0.5 pts
Sack = 3.5 pts
Interception = 3.5 pts
Forced fumble/recovery = 2 pts
Defensive TD = 8 pts
Safety = 2 pts
Pass Defended = 0.5 pts
Blocked Kick = 4 pts

Additional Fantasy Football Rankings:

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

Top 75 IDP
Defensive Linemen


Fantasy Football 2013: Defensive Back Rankings
Post date: Tuesday, July 16, 2013 - 11:00