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by Josh Kipnis
Never before have fans been more enthusiastic about a 1-4 team than the fans of the Mile High city. This morning, the Denver Broncos announced that backup quarterback Tim Tebow will be promoted to starter following this week’s bye. Kyle Orton started all five of the Broncos’ games this season.
The timing of this decision could not be any better for Tebow and the rest of the Broncos organization. A bye week allows Tebow to get plenty of reps with the first-string offense, and the game following the bye is against the 0-4 Miami Dolphins.
But will Tebow be the answer to Denver’s demise? Does he improve the Broncos’ chances that much more than Kyle Orton?
Versatility: Tim Tebow adds another dimension to the Broncos offense; one that Kyle Orton could never provide-a dual running attack. With Knowshon Moreno and Willis McGahee in the backfield, Tebow’s running ability is one more aspect of the game that opposing defenses will fear. In his second half appearance against the San Diego Chargers on Sunday, Tebow rushed six times for 38 yards and a touchdown. Orton has run for 17 yards this entire year, having never scored on the ground.
Turnovers: Many NFL scouts bashed Tebow’s throwing motion and other mechanics when he entered the NFL draft. Despite these malfunctions, however, Tebow has proven to be much less turnover-prone than Orton. This season, Orton leads the NFL in interceptions, throwing seven in his first five games. Tebow, on the other hand, threw three picks in the nine games he played in last year.
Energy: 1-4 is a very slippery slope. At this point in the year, a team can lose faith easily. Tebow provides a new direction, a new hope for Denver and its fans. I wish I were able to show the difference in decibel levels at Sports Authority Field when Orton was on the field compared with that of Tebow. Fans love Tim Tebow. He is a winner; he says all the right things at the right time. And not just the fans, but his teammates also love him. “There is no ego with Tim,” said veteran safety Brian Dawkins. “He wants to work, he wants to learn, asks a lot of questions…he’s trying to learn as much as he can to make himself a better player. And that’s always an encouraging sign to see a young guy who’s been a star [at the University of Florida] to come in and be a humble player.”
Gameplan: Tebow is not the only link in this chain towards success. Head coach John Fox is going to have to restructure his team’s offense around their new strengths. If Fox keeps the same system as before with Orton, Tebow will surely fail. The Broncos need to adopt a new gameplan, one filled with shotgun formations, screen passes, and running plays. Tebow is not the kind of guy who can take five step drops from under center, sit in the pocket, and throw the ball downfield. Fox is not going to be able to ask him to throw forty or fifty times a game. Denver will need to rely on quicker three step drops, dumps and screens to tailbacks, and play-action rollouts. With these ingredients, Denver may just be able to turn their dreaded season around, and put a sweet taste back into their mouths.
Steve Spurrier and the South Carolina Gamecocks have dismissed quarterback Stephen Garcia from the team, sources indicated on Tuesday.
One week after being removed from the starting line-up, Garcia fowl-ed up for the last time as a Gamecock college football player. He has a litany of poor decisions and off the field transgressions on his resume, and this final incident (allegedly, a failed alcohol test) was the straw that broke The Big Spur’s back.
South Carolina Athletic Director Eric Hyman released an official statement:
"Being a student-athlete at the University of South Carolina is a privilege, not a right, and we remind all of our student-athletes that there are consequences for their actions. For Stephen to return to and remain with the football squad this fall, we agreed on several established guidelines. Unfortunately, he has not been able to abide by those guidelines and has therefore forfeited his position on the roster. We wish him the best of luck as he moves forward in life.”
Garcia is the SEC’s career active leader in total offense (8,374), touchdowns responsible for (62), completions (589), passing yards (7,597) and passing touchdowns (47). Well, I should say, was the SEC’s career active leader. The stubborn and immature signal caller could have easily finished in the SEC’s top 10 all-time in total offense (9,577) and might have even slipped into the top 10 of passing yards (9,287). He posted a 20-14 record as a starter and is statistically the third-best player to ever play quarterback at South Carolina.
Garcia’s story is a sad tale of short-sighted and juvenile pig-headedness. He was blessed with tremendous physical talents and abilities that few human beings will ever possess. He was given the reins to an SEC championship-caliber offense. And he was a starting quarterback in the SEC Championship Game.
And he chose to throw it all away. Stephen Garcia has no one to blame but himself.
Connor Shaw is now the captain of the Gamecock ship that still has its sights set on Atlanta. And South Carolina did roll up 54 points against Kentucky in Shaw's first trip back to the starting line-up last Saturday. However, the Gamecocks' SEC title hopes might have vanished with Garcia's departure.
It normally would be outrageous to see a school dismiss a player who ranks at or near the top of most career statistical categories for his position, but unfortunately for Garcia and Spurrier, the only shocking element to this pathetic story is that it didn’t happen two years earlier.
-by Braden Gall (@AthlonBraden on twitter)
Gary Pinkel has had a successful run in his decade-plus at Missouri. After experiencing losing seasons in three of his first four years in Columbia, the veteran coach has taken Mizzou to the postseason six consecutive times. That six-year run includes three bowl victories and two Big 12 North Division titles, which shows that Pinkel has built a solid college football program and has had more than just a two- or three-year run with a great quarterback. While much of the Missouri talk this season has centered on a Big 12 departure and a possible SEC upgrade, the players and coaches are focused on making a seventh-straight bowl. The Tigers currently stand at 2-3, and there are four Top 25 opponents — Oklahoma State, Texas A&M, Baylor and Texas — remaining on the schedule.
Does Missouri make a bowl game?
Mitch Light (@AthlonMitch)
Missouri will make a bowl. It might not be easy, but Gary Pinkel’s team will find a way to get tosix wins and extend the school’s postseason streak to seven seasons. The Tigers are off to a bit of a slow start, but keep in mind that this team has faced a very difficult schedule, with road games against three teams currently ranked in the top 20 of both the AP and coaches poll — Arizona State (lost by three points in overtime), Oklahoma (by 10) and Kansas State (by seven). Let’s make the assumption that the Tigers will beat Iowa State at home this weekend and win at Kansas on Nov. 26 to close the season. That gives them four wins. So can they get two more from playing Oklahoma State, Texas and Texas Tech at home and Texas A&M and Baylor on the road? The guess here is yes. Mizzou continues to get strong play from sophomore quarterback James Franklin, who has only thrown two interceptions in 161 attempts. The running game is a strength with Franklin and underrated tailback Henry Josey (11th in the nation in rushing). And the defense has been relatively strong as well. This is still a good team. No need to panic in Columbia despite the losing record.
Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman)
I’m a little worried about this Missouri team. The Tigers have not lost a bad game — Oklahoma and Kansas State are undefeated while Arizona State only has one loss — and all three were on the road. However injuries (left tackle Elvis Fisher, running backs Kendial Lawrence and De'Vion Moore, etc.) have been a major issue, and that attrition may cost Mizzou down the stretch. The Tigers should beat Iowa State this week, but then that four-game gauntlet of top opponents begins. While James Franklin is improving at quarterback, I’m not sure that the Tigers can keep up in Big 12 shootouts like they did in the past. Additionally, the defense is solid but not the top ten nationally-ranked unit from a year ago. Gary Pinkel is a quality coach and could very well rally the troops against a tough league schedule, but I see Missouri finishing 5-7 and missing the postseason.
Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
It’s going to be tough, but I think Missouri can get to six wins and a bowl game this year. I think the Tigers will knock off Iowa State this Saturday, which gets them back to .500 with six games remaining. Kansas in the season finale should be in a win, so it’s just a matter of picking up two victories. Missouri has been really close to beating some good teams, with a 10-point loss to Oklahoma and seven-point defeats to Kansas State and Arizona State. With sophomore quarterback James Franklin continuing to get better as the season progresses and a defense that ranks third in the Big 12 in points allowed, Missouri is more than capable of pulling off a couple of upsets the rest of the season. With Texas and Texas Tech visiting Columbia in November, I think the Tigers will be able to finish with a 6-6 record and make another bowl trip under coach Gary Pinkel.
Braden Gall (@AthlonBraden)
It will not be easy, but I think Mizzou inches its way to six wins. The Tigers crushed Texas A&M, Kansas and Iowa State last season and so the Jayhawks and Cyclones are must wins. That means two more wins are needed somewhere. Texas, Texas Tech and Oklahoma State visit Columbia and at least one of those must be a win. Then there are road trips to Baylor and Texas A&M - in which Gary Pinkel's bunch would probably have to split to get bowl eligibility. With two quality wins - most likely Baylor and Texas Tech - the Tigers will go bowling.
- By Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven on Twitter)
Arizona is the second school to make a coaching change this year, with coach Mike Stoops getting the ax after a 1-5 start. Stoops went 41-49 in seven seasons, but the slow start this season was the final blow. Stoops inherited a program that was a disaster under John Mackovic, and led the Wildcats to three straight bowl trips from 2008 to 20010. However, Stoops’ sideline antics, an in-your-face demeanor, and the program failing to get any higher than eight wins under his watch was enough for the Arizona administration to make a switch.
The Wildcats will have a new head coach in 2012 and this will be an important hire for a program looking to climb the ladder in the Pac-12 South. With USC’s probation, UCLA struggling and Utah adapting to the Pac-12, the division is wide-open for Arizona to contend with the right pieces in place.
Athletic director Greg Byrne has been on the job for just over a year and was successful during his tenure at Mississippi State. His last football hire was Dan Mullen - a young, energetic coach who could recruit. Will Arizona follow a similar path?
Who could be the next coach at Arizona? Here are 15 names to watch:
Gary Andersen, head coach, Utah State – Andersen has a losing record in his tenure at Utah State, but there’s little doubt the program is headed in the right direction. The Aggies are 2-3, but have lost all three games by a combined eight points. Andersen has head coaching experience at two stops – Southern Utah and Utah State – but has not coached in a BCS league.
Major Applewhite, co-offensive coordinator, Texas – An up-and-coming assistant, who currently serves as Texas’ co-offensive coordinator with Bryan Harsin. Applewhite is only 33 and has never been a head coach. However, he is similar to Byrne’s hire of Mullen – young and a bright offensive mind.
Mike Bellotti, former Oregon coach – Bellotti was very successful during his time at Oregon, posting a 116-55 record. Bellotti resigned as Oregon’s head coach in 2009 and became the school’s athletic director. After a short stint in that position, Bellotti moved to the television booth with ESPN. Byrne was at Oregon during Bellotti’s tenure, so there is some familiarity. Bellotti is 60 years old, but being out of coaching for a few years likely has recharged the batteries.
Art Briles, head coach, Baylor - It would be somewhat of a surprise if Briles left Baylor, but Arizona is a better job. Briles has spent all of his coaching career in Texas, and his recruiting ties would probably allow him to establish a pipeline of recruits to the Pac-12. Briles has done a good job of elevating Baylor's program during his tenure there. However, how high can that program go? With Texas A&M departing, there is a possibility for moving up in the Big 12 pecking order every year. Coaching at Arizona would be an easier path to a conference title.
Troy Calhoun, head coach, Air Force – Calhoun is very happy at Air Force, and the Falcons could be moving to the Big East, which would help the school’s ability to get into the BCS. Calhoun has been successful at Air Force, posting a 37-19 record in five-plus seasons. Although he played at Air Force, could Calhoun be ready for another challenge?
Paul Chryst, offensive coordinator, Wisconsin – Chryst has done an excellent job during his tenure at Wisconsin, currently coordinating the Badgers to a No. 3 national ranking in scoring offense. Chryst has NFL experience, coaching with the Chargers from 1999 to 2001. His experience in college isn’t limited to Wisconsin, as he coached at Oregon State for the 2003 and 2004 seasons. Chryst does not have any head coaching experience, but is regarded as one of the top offensive coordinators in college football.
Manny Diaz, defensive coordinator, Texas – Diaz is definitely on Byrne’s radar, considering the two worked at Mississippi State for a short period of time last season. Diaz did a good job with the Bulldogs’ defense last year, as they allowed only 19.9 points a game. Texas gave up 55 points in Saturday’s loss to Oklahoma, but the defense has not been a problem. Diaz is young and energetic, but does not have any head coaching experience.
Sonny Dykes, head coach, Louisiana Tech – Dykes previously coached at Arizona from 2007 to 2009. However, his tenure at Louisiana Tech has produced only a 7-11 record. Dykes is a longshot, but is a name to watch considering his past experience.
Bryan Harsin, co-offensive coordinator, Texas – Harsin and fellow co-coordinator Major Applewhite definitely fit the mold of Byrne’s last football hire at Mississippi State. Harsin is considered one of the nation’s top offensive minds, serving as Boise State’s coordinator from 2006-2010 and Texas in 2011. Harsin does not have any head coaching experience, but is regarded as one of the top assistants in the nation.
Mike Leach, former Texas Tech coach – There’s no doubt Leach has some baggage from what transpired at Texas Tech. However, his record was 84-43 and his pass-first offense would generate excitement from the Arizona fanbase and likely help boost season-ticket sales. The Wildcats went the defensive route last time, but expect an offensive hire to be the selection his time around. Leach should be near the top of Arizona’s list.
Dan Mullen, head coach, Mississippi State – Mullen is a longshot, but deserves a mention with his familiarity with Byrne. Highly unlikely Mullen would depart for Tucson, but winning at Arizona and competing for a division title is probably easier at Arizona than Mississippi State.
Chris Petersen, head coach, Boise State – Another longshot. Petersen’s name turns up every time a BCS job opens, but he is very happy in Boise. Byrne is supposedly good friends with Petersen, but it’s unlikely that relationship will factor into leaving Boise State.
Greg Roman, offensive coordinator, San Francisco 49ers – A sleeper candidate. Roman has 14 years of NFL experience and worked under Jim Harbaugh at Stanford. He doesn’t have any head coaching experience, but helped to develop Andrew Luck and was in the mix to get the Vanderbilt job last year.
Kevin Sumlin, head coach, Houston – Sumlin is a Bob Stoops disciple, coaching at Oklahoma from 2003 to 2007. Sumlin has been the head coach at Houston since 2008, leading the Cougars to a 29-16 record. He has hired some top-notch coordinators to run the offenses at Houston, including Dana Holgorsen (head coach at West Virginia) and current co-coordinators Kliff Kingsbury and Jason Phillips. Sumlin is a proven commodity and would bring a high-scoring offense to Tucson. Considering Houston's 6-0 start this year, Sumlin will be a hot name in coaching circles this offseason.
Brent Venables, defensive coordinator, Oklahoma – Stoops came to Arizona as Oklahoma’s defensive coordinator, so it would be a surprise if the school went in the same direction. However, Venables is considered one of the top assistants in college football and Oklahoma’s defense has solid during his watch. If Venables doesn't land this job, it won't be long before he gets his first head-coaching gig.
As you probably know, Al Davis, the enigmatic and controversial owner of the Oakland Raiders died on Saturday. And what better way to commemorate the death of someone who was important to you, than to get a gigantic tattoo of their head and famous slogan all over your legs.
That is apparently what this Raiders fan did. I'm not sure if this tattoo is old, and he just whipped it out and walked around bare-legged to show the world what Al Davis meant to him after he died. Or if this is fresh off the ink presses. But really, it doesn't matter.
By Mitch Light
Toben Opurum spent his first season at Kansas on the offensive side of the ball, leading the Jayhawks in rushing as a true freshman in 2009. He scored a touchdown in each of his first six games. He knows what it’s like to score points.
The past two seasons, Opurum has learned what it’s like to give up points — a lot of points. In 2010, his first season on the defense, Kansas ranked 98th in the nation in scoring defense, giving up an average of 34.4 points per game. This fall, the Jayhawks have taken several large steps back.
After five games, Kansas ranks 120th in the nation in total defense and scoring defense. The Jayhawks have given up at least 42 points in all four games against FBS opponents, including 66 vs. Georgia Tech and 70 vs. Oklahoma State. Last week, KU trailed O-State 56–7 at halftime.
“It is embarrassing, and is something I do not want to be a part of,” said Opurum, when asked what it’s like to see an opponent score 70 points. “We cannot do anything about it right now. We need to put it behind us and continue to work hard.”
Turner Gill is now 5–12 in his one-plus season as the boss in Lawrence, but only two of those wins (Georgia Tech and Colorado in 2010) have come against BCS conference opponents. Last season, Kansas was outgained by a staggering 219.4 yards in its eight Big 12 games. This year, the Jayhawks have allowed an average of 632.7 yards per game to three the BCS conference foes they have faced. To be fair, KU has played Georgia Tech, Texas Tech and Oklahoma State — three of the top offensive teams in the country — but its defensive numbers are still alarmingly bad.
Here are a few more stats to chew on: The Kansas defense is allowing 7.8 yards per play, the worst in the nation by almost a full yard. The Jayhawks have given up 34 touchdowns, 15 more than any other team in the Big 12. They have yielded 21 plays of 30 yards or more, nine more than any other team in the Big 12.
“We just have to keep improving,” Gill said after the O-State game. “We have some work to do on that side of the ball, or all sides of the ball for that matter. We just have to keep working. We have to improve.”
The Jayhawks don’t have much time to figure things out. The mighty Oklahoma Sooners — featuring an offense that has scored 113 points the past two weeks — visit Lawrence this week, and KU still has dates with Kansas State (which beat the Jayhawks 59–7 last year), Texas, Baylor, Texas A&M and Missouri.
“We have people getting mad and we have people that are sad,” cornerback Greg Brown said. “We need to keep our heads up because it is still early in the season and we can still turn it around.”
AROUND THE BIG 12
• Texas A&M lost seven straight games in Lubbock from 1995-2007, but has now won two in a row on the road vs. the hated Red Raiders. With the Aggies off to the SEC, it’s highly unlikely that these two teams will meet in the near (or distant) future.
• A big key to Kansas State’s 6–0 start has been on the defensive side of the ball. The Wildcats lead the Big 12 in total defense (298.8 ypg) and rank second in scoring defense (16.6 ppg). Last year, K-State ranked 11th in total defense (445.7 ypg) and eighth in scoring defense (29.1 ppg).
• The Big 12 is home to three of the top 10 scoring teams in the country — Oklahoma State (first, 51.4 ppg), Texas Tech (eighth, 45.8 ppg) and Oklahoma (tied for ninth, 45.0 ppg).
• Texas has given up 50 points or more three times in the Mack Brown era, all to Oklahoma — 63 points in 2000, 65 in ’03 and 55 in ’11.
• Iowa State’s three wins have come by an average of 2.7 points per game. Its two losses have come by an average of 23 points.
• The losing team has averaged 35.7 points in Texas A&M’s last three games.
• Missouri’s Henry Josey ranks 11th in the nation in rushing (117.6 ypg) despite not having more than 14 carries in any single game this season.
• Baylor has scored 35 points or more in five straight games (in the same season) for the first time in school history.
College football is very much a game of the Haves vs. the Have Nots. Here is a list of the last 10 AP National Champions:
2002: Ohio St.
What do the above schools have in common? They are all loaded with NFL-caliber talent and, with the exception of Miami, have large undergraduate enrollments and 80,000+ seat stadiums they fill up each and every week. We are not trying to squash the hopes of the smaller schools out there or state that they cannot have successful years or programs, Chris Petersen and Gary Patterson have proved as much. We are simply trying to point out the existing reality of college football. It's very much an arms race and those with the bigger and better guns typically win the most battles and wars.
With this in mind, let's turn to Mike Sherman and Texas A&M.
Texas A&M is definitely among the Haves of college football. The school has over 36,000 undergraduates, fills its 80,000+ seat stadium virtually every Saturday with rabid and loyal fans, and routinely recruits NFL-caliber talent from one of the nation's largest pools of talented high school football players (Texas A&M's average recruiting ranking since 2002 is 17.70).
Now with this in mind, let's look at some of Coach Sherman's numbers: The first number we want to consider with Coach Sherman is the number one. One is the number of "NFL Guys" who have achieved a real level of success in college. For details, click here. Now, for the rest of Sherman's statistical story:
|Years||Overall WP%||Conf. WP%||Non-Conf. WP%||Avg. Recruiting Rank|
|2008-Present||51.16% (22-21)||46.15% (12-14)||58.82% (10-7)||20.50 (out of 120 teams)|
Let's dig into the winning percentage numbers a little deeper:
|Years||WP% Against Top 25 (time of game ranking)||WP% Against Over .500 Teams||WP% in Close Games (4 pts. or less)|
|2008-Present||21.43% (3-11)||38.46% (10-16)||28.57% (2-5)|
A few offensive and defensive stats for you as well:
|Avg. Scor. Off. Rank - Natl||Avg. Scor. Off. Rank - Conf.||Avg. Scor. Def. Rank - Natl||Avg. Scor. Def. Rank Conf.|
|33.75 (out of 120)||6 (out of 12)||79.25 (out of 120)||8.25 (out of 12)|
A few more defensive stats to consider:
|Total Games||# of Times Giving up 30+ Pts.||# of Times Giving up 40+ Pts.|
|43||24 (55.81%)||14 (32.56%)|
Let's also consider what we call our Good Hire/Bad Hire analysis. Essentially, we look at the state of the program in the five years prior to a coach's arrival and compare it to the state of the program under the current coach.
|Overall WP%||WP% in Five Previous Years||Differential|
|Conf. WP%||Conf. WP% in Five Previous Years||Differential|
Finally, let's look at how Coach Sherman has performed against opponents of varying talent levels. The way we do this at CBTN is to average out a 4 year period of recruiting rankings and assign it to that year. This gives us a good idea of the average talent of that particular team (though not an exact science, we believe it’s better to be somewhat right than precisely wrong). From there, we then evaluate each team according to their talent level and determine whether or not the games were against superior talent, equivalent talent (having an average within 10 ranking spots), or inferior talent. Let’s see how Coach Sherman performed:
|WP% w/Superior Talent||WP% w/Inferior Talent||WP% w/Equivalent Talent|
|62.07% (18-11)||20.00% (1-4)||25.00% (2-6)|
See how all other coaches perform relative to talent here. To be fair, Mike Sherman's teams do appear to be getting a bit better with last years 9-4 season and the seeming promise of this year's team, which started the season in the Top 10, before blowing two big leads in losses to Oklahoma State and Arkansas.
However, when you closely examine the numbers above, it's hard to believe that you aren't looking at the numbers of a coach of one of the Have Nots in college football. With what seems like every advantage possible, Mike Sherman and Texas A&M simply aren't getting it done. What makes matters even worse for the Aggies is the announcement of their move from the Big 12 to the SEC. While this may be great for their pockets, we are bit skeptical that this will be great for Coach Sherman's numbers.
In the Big 12, only Oklahoma and Texas have talent advantages over Texas A&M. In fact, Coach Sherman has coached 67% of his games with a talent advantage and 86% of his games with superior or equivalent talent. When you consider that 67% (8) of SEC teams had top 25 recruiting classes last year compared to 33% (4) of Big 12 teams and also keep in mind that Coach Sherman has won 30% of his games with equivalent or inferior talent, it's easy to see how Coach Sherman's numbers might look even more like those of a Have Not.
Rashard Mendenhall is having a bad season. Even when he's not injured, he's not getting the production you probably paid for with a late first or early second round pick.
So when is it time to cut the cord on some of your starters and look elsewhere? That's a hard decision to make because usually you're so invested in high draft picks, and it also tells the other owners in your league "Look at me, I'm an idiot who was stupid enough to draft this guy."
But that's what you have to do if you want to put your team in the best possible spot to win your league. Here's five guys who you should probably bench at the very least, drop at the very most, or trade, if you think you can get any value for them.
Rashard Mendenhall: Trade Immediately or Bench
Mendenhall had 324 carries last season, more than any other back in the league. And it seems like all those carries are taking a toll on his body. Rashard didn't see any playing time last week against the Titans due to a tweaked hammy, but even before then he was not showing the same explosiveness and power he had last year, averaging just 2.8 and 2.1 yards per carry in his last two contests. With Isaac Redman and Jonathan Dwyer performing at least capably, it doesn't seem like Mendenhall is going to give you nearly the production you would expect out of him this year. If you can get someone to buy low on him, get what you can. Once a running back's body turns the corner, it rarely comes back into it's prime.
Chris Johnson: Trade Him Immediately
It feels like there's a correlation between an NFL player missing training camp and then having a severe lack of production. And Chris Johnson is this year's poster child for that. In the first five weeks, Johnson shas had one good game. and he's only found the end zone once. And you probably drafted him no lower than 6th overall. In the next few weeks the Titans play the Texans (who shut down Darren McFadden), the Colts (who he should have a decent game against), the Bengals (who have a solid run defense). So you're left with two good games in the first nine weeks of the season. It's best to cut your losses and see if another owner think Johnson is the 2,000 yard rusher he was two years ago.
Chad Ochocinco: Drop
Chad Ochocinco sucks. There's no other way to describe his play this year in one of the most potent offenses in the league. You'd think anyone in that lineup would at least be good for 5 catches and 80 yards a game, but Ochocinco is lucky to get 2 and 20. After the first couple of weeks, we were cutting him some slack. Without the regular offseason workouts, it would take a while for Ocho and Tom Brady to get on the same page. But it's been over a month now and Ocho's just not doing anything. Tom's so locked into Wes Welker and his two tight ends (Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski) that it looks less and less likely for Ocho to get in on the fantasy bonanza. He may have a big game here or there, but consistent production looks like a thing of Ochocinco's past now.
Mike Williams: Bench Until He Shows Signs of Life
The Tampa Bay wide receiver hasn't done much to garner his 3rd/4th round draft slot with only one TD in the first five weeks, he's not getting open in space and he's opting for more short passes instead of long balls. If you're in a PPR league, he might give you a little consistent production, but I'd rather have the guy who could go for 3 catches, 100 yards and a score, instead of 5 catches for 40 yards and a whole lot of nothing. If you're very thin at WR, then keep him in your lineup, but frankly, I think almost anyone in our week 6 waiver wire has more upside than Mike Williams right now.
Dallas Clark: Drop
Dallas Clark needs Peyton Manning. And Curtis Painter is not Peyton Manning. The once lofty piles of points Clark used to put up seem to be a thing of the past now. He's found the end zone only once this year and hasn't had more than 46 yards or four receptions in a game. With tight end being so deep this year, it's probably time to look to the waiver wire or your back-up to find a new starter. If Manning comes back next year, then Clark will find fantasy prominence again, but until then, he's not going to help your team in 2011.
-by Braden Gall (@AthlonBraden on twitter)
That is right, after five weeks of NFL action, Buffalo Bills running back Fred Jackson is fantasy football's No. 1 running back.
One of my favorite aspects of fantasy is charting the season of progress. So after five weeks of play (and a 3-2 record in all three leagues), I took a look at the fantasy rankings of Athlon Sports Keeper NFL Fantasy League to see just who the best running backs have been thus far in 2011. And here is what I found:
1. Fred Jackson, Buffalo: 110.7 Total Fantasy Points
Stats: 90 att., 480 yards (5.3), 5 TD, 19 rec., 232 yards, 0 Fum
The Bills workhorse back deserves much of the credit for where the Bills are in the standings right now. He has three 100-yard efforts (his lowest total is 66 yards against the NFL's No. 1 defense two weeks ago) and has scored a touchdown in four straight games. He also has caught at least five passes in three straight games. Expect his workload to stay right where it is, and finishing in the top ten at the end of the season is a near lock. This is not a sell high candidate — ride this wave all season. However, expectations could be lowered with the Giants, Redskins and Jets as his next three.
2. LeSean McCoy, Philadelphia: 106.8 TFP
Stats: 77 att., 443 yards (5.8), 5 TD, 19 rec., 110 yards, 2 TD, 0 Fum
Shady McCoy has scored a touchdown in every game and will always find a way to get into the offense — even when he can't run the ball (see nine rushes for 18 yards against the Niners with six catches and a TD through the air.) With Michael Vick battling inconsistency and nagging injuries, you can bet Andy Reid will keep feeding the ball to the playmaker. However, if the Eagles continue to tumble, you might want to try to get full market value for McCoy.
3. Matt Forte, Chicago: 105.5 TFP
Stats: 82 att., 440 yards (5.4), 30 rec., 345 yards, TD, 0 Fum
That is not a misprint, Forte has 30 receptions for 345 yards in the passing game. Only Darren Sproles has caught more passes at the RB position, and no one is close to Forte's yardage total (Sproles, 264). Forte is doing his best Marshall Faulk impression and is not just the focal point of the offense, but maybe the only point of the offense. Especially if Mike Martz is going to give him 23.5 carries per game, like he has over the last two games.
4. Darren McFadden, Oakland: 99.3 TFP
Stats: 91 att., 519 yards (5.7), 3 TD, 17 rec., 149 yards, TD, 1 Fum
The NFL's leading rusher has the talent to be an elite player in this league for a long period of time. However, Run-DMC dealt with injuries throughout his college career at Arkansas and has never played more than 13 games in a season. If you can max-out McFadden's value in a trade, this might be the time to capitalize.
5. Ryan Mathews, San Diego: 96.4 TFP
Stats: 85 att., 413 yards (4.9), 20 rec., 261 yards, 1 Fum
Fantasy owners held their collective breath on Sunday when Mathews left the game against the Broncos with a calf injury. Reports are that it is not serious and that Mathews won't miss any time (whew!). However, like McFadden, Mathews was hurt frequently at Fresno State and during his rookie season last fall. Keep an eye on his carries and don't hesitate to pull the trigger if you can get value for him.
Best of the Rest:
6. Adrian Peterson, Minnesota: 96.2 TFP
7. Darren Sproles, New Orleans: 87.35 TFP
8. Ray Rice, Baltimore: 85.9 TFP
9. Jahvid Best, Detroit: 85.2 TFP
10. Beanie Wells, Arizona: 78.3 TFP
Week 6 NFL Fantasy Waiver Wire
By Braden Gall (@AthlonBraden on Twitter)
Post-Week 6 Big Ten Power Rankings
Check out all of our college football rankings.
1. Wisconsin (5-0, 1-0) – The Badgers were on bye in Week Six and might as well be on bye again this weekend. The Badgers, whose smallest margin of victory this year was a 31-point win over Nebraska, will host Indiana at Camp Randall this weekend. The No. 1 offensive attack in the Big Ten will face the league's worst rush defense and the conference's 11th-ranked scoring defense. Wisconsin has beaten the Hoosiers in six straight and 12 of the last 14, including an 83-point drubbing last season. In fact, UW has scored at least 50 points against IU in three of the last five meetings. The Badgers are the No. 4 team in the nation according to the Athlon Sports College Football 120.
2. Nebraska (5-1, 1-1) – Taylor Martinez giveth and Taylor Martinez taketh away. The much-maligned Huskers quarterback has had a rough week answering questions about his play in Madison. And after falling behind 27-6 early in the third quarter on Saturday to the Ohio State Buckeyes, the boos were raining down upon his shoulders once again. But less than 30 minutes later, Big Red Nation showered Martinez with wild adulation after he led the biggest comeback (21 points) in Nebraska history. Martinez scored on an 18-yard dash, threw a 36-yard touchdown pass and tossed another 30-yard touchdown to Rex Burkhead (two of those coming off OSU turnovers) en route to 28 unanswered points in the second half. Nebraska won 34-27 and Martinez finished with 102 yards rushing, 191 yards passing (16-of-22) and three total touchdowns. The Huskers get a break before visiting Minnesota on October 22.
3. Illinois (6-0, 2-0) – After three straight three-point wins, Illinois scored 27 of the game's final 34 points to pull away from Indiana 41-20. The Nathan Scheelhaase to AJ Jenkins connection was once again unstoppable as the duo hooked up six times for 182 yards and two very long (77 and 67 yards) touchdowns. Scheelhaase finished with 210 yards and three touchdowns passing while adding 88 yards on 18 carries and another score on the ground. Ron Zook's squad rolled up 308 yards rushing in the first road game of the season and is poised to challenge Wisconsin in the Leaders Division — especially with Ohio State coming to town next weekend, where the Illini will have a chance at their first 7-0 start since 1951. The last time the Illini beat Ohio State in Champaign was a 7-0 win in 1991.
4. Michigan (6-0, 2-0) – After one week of flawless Denard Robinson, Michigan fans saw their star quarterback revert to shaky passer. Robinson threw three ugly first half interceptions to put the Wolverines in a 24-14 halftime hole. But Shoelace showed Maize and Blue nation why he is squarely in the Heisman Trophy hunt as he led Michigan on three consecutive scoring drives to start the second half. The quarterback, who left the game briefly with a minor injury, finished with 450 yards of total offense and four touchdowns. The Wolverines were a fantastic 14-of-17 on third down conversions. Michigan now faces its toughest test of the season with a road trip to East Lansing to battle the Spartans.
5. Michigan State (4-1, 1-0) – The Spartans got to sit at home and rest this weekend after their brutal 10-7 win in the Horseshoe two weeks ago. It could be a huge advantage with the in-state undefeated arch-rival from Ann Arbor set to visit East Lansing this weekend. The Spartans boast the nation's No. 1 overall defense (173.4 ypg allowed) and will have their hands full with Denard Robinson. From 2002 to 2007, Michigan owned this game (6-0), but the tables have turned over the last three seasons with the Spartans owning a current three-game winning streak. Sparty has averaged nearly 32 points per game in its three straight wins over Michigan.
6. Penn State (5-1, 2-0) – The Nittany Lions needed a big confidence booster, and this weekend, got a massive shot in the arm by beating Iowa 13-3. The Hawkeye offense had been rolling (No. 1 in the Big Ten in passing) and was rested after a bye week, but could not move the football against a staunch PSU defense. Iowa mustered only 253 yards of offense, while Penn State turned back the clock (and controlled it) by pounding the football on the ground to the tune of 231 yards. Tailback Silas Redd led the way with 28 carries for 142 yards. Penn State's offense has been anemic all season, but at 2-0 is still very much alive in the Leaders Division race. With Purdue this weekend and Northwestern following that, PSU could be 7-1 before it gets Illinois, Nebraska, Ohio State and Wisconsin.
7. Ohio State (3-3, 0-2) – Just when you thought it couldn't get any more painful for Buckeyes fans, Taylor Martinez happened. The Nebraska quarterback led the biggest comeback in Husker history to beat Ohio State 34-27. Ohio State was up 27-6 when freshman quarterback Braxton Miller was stripped of the football, and shortly thereafter, suffered an ankle injury. Miller had rolled up 95 yards through the air and 91 yards on the ground before leaving the game, and the Buckeyes couldn't recover with Joe Bauserman at the helm. Reports indicate that Miller might be able to return this weekend against Illinois in Champaign with heavy Leaders Division implications on the line.
8. Iowa (3-2, 0-1) – Quarterback James Vandenberg had been leading the Big Ten's top passing offense until he walked into Beaver Stadium. The Hawkeye passer completed only 17-of-34 passes for 169 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions. Vandenberg had one total interception prior to the 13-3 loss at the hands of the Nittany Lions. The offensive line didn't help much either by allowing five sacks and paving the way for 84 total yards rushing on 30 carries (2.8 ypc). Iowa will welcome Northwestern to Iowa City this weekend.
9. Northwestern (2-3, 0-2) – Stop me if you have heard this before, Wildcats' fans. Dan Persa plays excellently efficient football in leading his team to a big first-half lead only to watch the defense cough up a chance at an upset win. After blowing a 28-10 lead over Illinois two weeks ago, Northwestern blew a 24-14 lead over Michigan to lose 42-24 this weekend. Persa, in only his second start of the season, completeed 32-of-44 passes for 331 yards (11 to Jeremy Ebert), but couldn't make things happen with his legs and couldn't get his team into the end zone in the second half. The heartbroken Wildcats visit Iowa this weekend in what could have major bowl eligibility implications.
10. Purdue (3-2, 1-0) – For this week, Boilermaker fans have plenty to blow their horns about. Purdue used ten different players to run for 217 yards and three touchdowns on 47 carries in the 45-17 win over Minnesota. Caleb TerBush got the majority of the snaps, passing for 140 yards on 21 attempts, while Robert Marve also saw time with six of his own attempts. Each quarterback threw a touchdown. Purdue now plays at Penn State at the start of a terribly brutal stretch of schedule. The Boilers' next six: at Penn State, Illinois, at Michigan, at Wisconsin, Ohio State and Iowa. Yuck.
11. Indiana (1-5, 0-2) – The Gunner Kiel era cannot begin soon enough for Indiana. Edward Wright-Baker missed his second straight game with an ankle issue. Dusty Kiel started but hurt his own ankle in the second half. So true freshman Tre Roberson took over and completed 11-of-17 passes for 148 yards and one interception in the 41-20 loss to Illinois. One has to think that Kevin Wilson — whose team scored one offensive touchdown late in the fourth — is already designing plays for Gunner. The Hoosiers travel to Wisconsin this weekend to play a team that scored 83 points on them last fall.
12. Minnesota (1-5, 0-2) – The Gophers turned the ball over three times, converted only 4-of-12 third downs, posted 11 total first downs and 213 yards of total offense in the 45-17 loss to Purdue. The Boilermakers raced to a 31-0 lead and never looked back, giving Minnesota its 14th loss in 17 games (how they beat Illinois and Iowa to end 2010 still astounds me).
By Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven on Twitter)
Post-Week 6 SEC Power Rankings
Check out all of our college football rankings.
1. Alabama (6-0) – Vanderbilt put up a valiant effort in the first half, but the Crimson Tide eventually pulled away for a 34-0 victory. Quarterback AJ McCarron tossed a career-high four touchdown tosses in the win, while completing 23 of 30 throws for 237 yards. Running back Trent Richardson posted another solid performance, rushing for 107 yards and one score. The Crimson Tide hits the road for a matchup against Ole Miss this Saturday, before returning home to face Tennessee on Oct. 22.
2. LSU (6-0) – After Saturday’s 41-11 victory over Florida, LSU stands only two games away from its huge showdown against Alabama on Nov. 5. The Tigers hit the road for a date against Tennessee this week, but the Volunteers are without quarterback Tyler Bray due to a thumb injury. The two-quarterback system of Jarrett Lee and Jordan Jefferson has been a success so far, while LSU’s defense has allowed only two touchdowns over the last two games.
3. Arkansas (5-1) – The Razorbacks trailed 14-7 exiting the first quarter in Saturday's game against Auburn, but pulled away for a 38-14 victory. Quarterback Tyler Wilson posted another solid outing, throwing for 262 yards and two scores. Arkansas has an uphill battle to knock off Alabama or LSU in the SEC West race, but barring an upset, the Razorbacks seem locked into the No. 3 spot in that division. Arkansas is off this Saturday, before returning to action on Oct. 22 against Ole Miss.
4. South Carolina (5-1) – Coach Steve Spurrier finally had enough of Stephen Garcia’s inconsistency and inserted sophomore Connor Shaw into the starting lineup against Kentucky. So far, so good. Shaw torched the Wildcats for 311 yards and four scores, including 42 yards on the ground. Although the offense showed signs of life, Kentucky isn’t exactly the best measuring stick this season. The Gamecocks hit the road for a matchup against Mississippi State this Saturday.
5. Georgia (4-2) – The Bulldogs have been on a roll since losing the first two games of the season. Georgia has won its last four contests, led by a defense that has allowed no opponent to score more than 13 points over that span. The victory over Tennessee on Saturday was huge for the Bulldogs’ SEC East title hopes. Georgia has only one loss in conference play, and the schedule is favorable the rest of the way, with a date against Florida in Jacksonville the biggest hurdle. There’s a lot to be sorted out in the SEC race, but Georgia looks like the best team in the East.
6. Florida (4-2) – Winning in Baton Rouge with your starting quarterback is tough enough. However, winning with your third quarterback is nearly impossible. With John Brantley and Jeff Driskel out, Florida was forced to turn to Jacoby Brissett under center against the Tigers. The true freshman completed 8 of 14 throws for 94 yards and one touchdown, but also threw two picks. The Gators could get Driskel back for Saturday’s game against Auburn, but Brissett may also play. The Gators are reeling a bit with two consecutive losses. However, a win on Saturday night would keep Florida in the race to win the SEC East.
7. Auburn (4-2) – After boasting one of the top offenses in college football last season, the Tigers are struggling to find the answer at quarterback. Barrett Trotter completed only 6 of 19 throws for 81 yards in Saturday’s loss to Arkansas. True freshman Kiehl Frazier has been getting more snaps as the season progresses and could see his role increase this Saturday against Florida. The Tigers’ defense will catch a break this week, as Gators’ quarterback John Brantley will be out due to an ankle injury.
8. Mississippi State (3-3) – Most expected the Bulldogs to have an easy victory on Saturday, but that wasn’t the case. UAB led 3-0 at halftime and was down by only four points going into the final quarter. However, Mississippi State’s offense got a spark from backup quarterback Tyler Russell, who completed 11 of 13 throws for 166 yards and three touchdowns. Considering starter Chris Relf has been struggling, coach Dan Mullen may turn to Russell more in this week’s game against South Carolina.
9. Tennessee (3-2) – The Volunteers had a shot for a key SEC win on Saturday, but fell short, losing 20-12 to Georgia. The defeat was not only costly in the standings, but also on the depth chart. Quarterback Tyler Bray suffered a thumb injury and will likely miss six weeks of action. With Bray sidelined, Matt Simms will move back into the No. 1 role. The Volunteers have a brutal two-game stretch the next two weeks, as they host LSU this Saturday, before playing at Alabama on Oct. 22.
10. Vanderbilt (3-2) – The Commodores have lost their last two games, but still deserve to be ranked over Kentucky and Ole Miss. Vanderbilt played well in the first half against Alabama, but two missed field goals and a struggling offense prevented the Commodores from making things interesting in the final two quarters. After two road games, Vanderbilt is back home for a matchup against Georgia this Saturday.
11. Ole Miss (2-3) – The Rebels had a bye in Week 6 and return to action on Saturday against Alabama. Ole Miss hasn’t had much success against the Crimson Tide, with its last victory in the series in 1993. Quarterback Randall Mackey showed promise in the win over Fresno State and will remain the No. 1 passer for now. The Rebels still have an outside shot to get to a bowl, but it’s not going to be an easy road with Alabama, LSU, Arkansas, Auburn and Mississippi State remaining on the schedule.
12. Kentucky (2-4) – Another week, another disastrous performance by the Wildcats’ offense. Kentucky’s only points (three) were setup by a South Carolina turnover on the opening kickoff. Quarterback Morgan Newton continued to struggle, completing only 4 of 21 passes for 17 yards. Backup Maxwell Smith wasn’t any better, misfiring on all three attempts, with two of them picked off. The Wildcats have a bye this Saturday, before hosting Jacksonville State on Oct. 22.
By Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven on Twitter)
Post-Week 6 ACC Power Rankings
Check out all of our college football rankings.
1. Clemson (6-0) – As expected, the Tigers had little trouble knocking off Boston College. However, the win came at a price, as quarterback Tajh Boyd suffered a hip injury in the second half. The injury initially appeared to be serious, but Boyd is listed as probable for Saturday’s game against Maryland. Freshman receiver Sammy Watkins turned in another big performance against the Eagles, catching seven passes for 152 yards. Watkins has three games of at least 100 receiving yards and is averaging 16.4 yards per catch.
2. Georgia Tech (6-0) – The Yellow Jackets posted a season-low 21 points against Maryland, but still found a way to get the victory. Quarterback Tevin Washington led the way with 234 total yards and two rushing touchdowns. The Yellow Jackets’ defense allowed 13 points in the second half, but delivered a big stop late in the fourth quarter to preserve the victory. Georgia Tech is off to its first 6-0 start since 1966. The Yellow Jackets control their destiny in the ACC Coastal race and hit the road the next two weeks for games against Virginia and Miami.
3. Virginia Tech (5-1) – One week after a disappointing 23-3 loss in Blacksburg to Clemson, the Hokies responded with a 38-35 win over Miami. Quarterback Logan Thomas was heavily criticized for his performance against Clemson, but turned in the best start of his career on Saturday, throwing for 310 yards and two touchdowns. The sophomore also posted two rushing touchdowns, including the game-winner with less than a minute remaining. The Hokies have another tough conference game this Saturday, as they travel to Winston-Salem to take on Wake Forest.
4. Wake Forest (4-1) – Most preseason predictions did not have the Demon Deacons even earning four wins all year. As the midpoint of the 2011 season approaches, it’s clear Wake Forest is a much-improved team and will be a factor in the ACC title race. The Demon Deacons knocked off Florida State 35-30 on Saturday, which was their fourth win in six games against the Seminoles. Wake Forest has another tough conference game this week, as Virginia Tech visits Winston-Salem this Saturday.
5. North Carolina (5-1) – The Tar Heels aren’t getting much national attention, but they are quietly off to a good start. Saturday’s 14-7 win over Louisville moves North Carolina one step closer to bowl eligibility, while the team still has a shot to win the ACC Coastal. Quarterback Bryn Renner threw for only 178 yards and one touchdown against Louisville, but has not thrown an interception in his last two games. Running back Giovani Bernard has also been impressive, rushing for at least 100 yards in each of his last four games. If the Tar Heels keep winning, will interim coach Everett Withers get the full-time job?
6. Florida State (2-3) – After entering this season with aspirations of winning a national title, the Seminoles have to consider 2011 a major disappointment. Florida State has lost three straight, which includes Saturday’s 35-30 defeat to Wake Forest. The Seminoles have struggled with turnovers and penalties, while the rushing attack has been invisible most of the year. Winning the ACC Atlantic is probably out of reach, but Florida State can still win out and finish with a solid 9-3 record.
7. Miami (2-3) – The Hurricanes played well, but dropped a 38-35 decision to Virginia Tech in Week 6. Miami quarterback Jacory Harris has struggled with interceptions throughout his career, but has not thrown a pick in his last two games. Running back Lamar Miller has been one of the top offensive players in the ACC so far this year, rushing for 677 yards and five scores. With a struggling defense, Miami needs Harris and Miller to carry the team right now. The Hurricanes hit the road for a matchup against North Carolina this Saturday.
8. Maryland (2-3) – After the 32-24 victory over Miami in the season opener, the Terrapins looked like a contender in the ACC Atlantic. Fast forward to Week 7 and it looks like Maryland is going to struggle just to get bowl eligible. Saturday’s 21-16 loss to Georgia Tech was the third defeat in four games for the Terrapins and it won’t get any easier this week. Maryland hosts Clemson and travels to Florida State next Saturday. Another alarming issue for the Terrapins is the play of quarterback Danny O’Brien. The sophomore completed only 1 of 6 throws for 17 yards and one interception against Georgia Tech and could lose time to backup C.J. Brown this week.
9. Duke (3-2) – The Blue Devils had a bye in Week 6 and return to action this Saturday against Florida State. Duke has never defeated the Seminoles, losing all 16 matchups between these two teams. Making matters worse for the Blue Devils is they have struggled just to be competitive against Florida State. Adding a glimmer of hope for Saturday’s game is the fact Duke is riding a three-game winning streak, while the Seminoles have lost three in a row.
10. NC State (3-3) – Saturday’s 38-24 win over Central Michigan was NC State’s first victory over a FBS team this season. Quarterback Mike Glennon posted a solid performance against the Chippewas, throwing for 244 yards and four touchdowns. NC State needs to get to seven victories to get bowl eligible, which is no sure thing considering the upcoming slate – at Virginia, at Florida State, North Carolina, at Boston College, Clemson and Maryland.
11. Virginia (3-2) – The Cavaliers had a bye in Week 6 and return to action on Saturday against Georgia Tech. Virginia has lost its last two in this series, including a 33-21 defeat last season in Atlanta. The Cavaliers have a realistic shot to get bowl eligible, but they may need an upset or two along the way.
12. Boston College (1-5) – The miserable 2011 season in Chestnut Hill continued on Saturday with a 36-14 loss to Clemson. The Eagles got more bad news off the field this week, as running back Montel Harris and defensive tackle Kaleb Ramsey are done for the year due to injuries. Boston College is expected to pursue a medical redshirt for both players. The Eagles have a much-needed bye this week, before returning to action on Oct. 22 at Virginia Tech.
It's fantasy football bye weeks, folks, so everyone's going to be scrambling for some fill-in players because some of us have a tendency to draft our back-up without realizing he has the same bye week as our starter. Here are some of the best options available.
Some of the players listed in Athlon Sports' NFL Fantasy Football Waiver Wire Week 6 may be one-week adds, some may be season-long adds and some are listed just for you to keep an eye on to stash on your roster if you have the space.
Scoring is based on Athlon Sports default scoring which is 6 points for all TDs, .5 points per reception and 1 point PER 25 yards passing, 10 yards rushing/receiving and 40 return yards.
Curtis Painter, Indianapolis Colts
He shot the lights out in the first half against the Chiefs, and then someone turned the light off for Curtis in the second half. But still, there's at least been some promise in the recent play of the back-up's back-up in Indy. You won't get massive production out of Painter, but who wouldn't be happy with another 250+ yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions from a guy filling in for your regular starter? Answer: No one. (Well, maybe jerks.) To go along with that, the injury to Addai could mean a depleted backfield next week which means more Curtis Painter through the air. He has a nice rapport with Pierre Garcon (more on him later) that clicked and will hopefully keep clicking as the season goes on. If Curtis can put together a complete game, he could be a consideration if your real starter goes against a shutdown passing defense like the Jets or Eagles.
Tim Tebow, Denver Broncos
The Broncos are on a bye this week, but you may want to stash Tim on your bench because it's officially going to be Tebow Time in Denver. And while we don't think he's going to be a capable quarterback in the NFL, he can be a serviceable back-up for fantasy owners because of what he does with his legs. Think of him as Vick-lite (or Vick-heavy, since he outweighs the Eagles QB by a solid 40 pounds.) He's going to throw picks. He's going to have lots of incompletions. But, he's also going to pile up a few rushing yards and rushing touchdowns. Rushing yards stack up at 10 yards per point, while passing yards are generally at 25-40 yards per point. And rushing touchdowns usually count for 6 points, while passing TD are ususally worth 4. You do the math.
Andy Dalton, Cincinnati
Yep, the Bengals actually have a decent young quarterback on their hands. They also have a bunch of guys who get giant packages of illegal drugs shipped to their house. But let's focus on Dalton. He didn't have his best game against Jacksonville (179 yards, 2 TDs and 1 pick), but he still managed to put up passable numbers that wouldn't have killed you. He goes up against a horrible Colts secondary that got abused by Dwayne Bowe and the Chiefs on Sunday. This may be the best game of the season to play Dalton because Cedric Benson's suspension could come down this week, meaning the Bengals will be even more likely to rely on the passing game if they're without their #1 back.
Charlie Whitehurst, Seattle
If it comes out that he's the starter in Seattle, and then your first, second and third QB options are all either injured or dead, then go ahead and take a flier on Whitehurst. But unless you're in a 32 team fantasy league, there's probably a few better options out there at the quarterback spot.
Delone Carter, Indianapolis
With Joseph Addai going down with a hamstring injury, Carter took the majority of the carries for the rest of the game. He had 14 touches, while other back-up Donald Brown finished with 8. Carter didn't necessarily light it up trudging for just 22 yards on 12 carries and two receptions for 12 yards. Brown on the other hand managed 38 yards. So which one should you get? While Carter probably won't break off any 100+ yard games, he is probably the better back to bank on than Donald Brown because Carter gets the goal line carries and you may get lucky with 50 yards, a score and a couple catches sprinkled in. The Colts play a stout Bengals defense next week, so Carter will only be a play if you're in a dire situation due to injuries or bye weeks.
Jacob Hester, Chargers
With Ryan Mathews injuring his calf and Mike Tolbert getting dinged with a concussion, there's a lot of uncertainty in the Chargers backfield. The Chargers are on a bye this week, and they face a Jets defense in week 7 that is normally strong, but also just gave up a career day to BenJarvis Green-Ellis. This is strictly a flyer pick-up as Hester is a fullback with a fullback's speed. Tolbert is expected to play in week 7, but concussions have a knack for coming back. And Mathews' injury is still uncertain. If Hester finds himself as the feature back against the Jets, he won't pile up much yardage, but could be good for a few goal-line looks and receptions (he had 2 catches filling in for Tolbert and Mathews in week 5.)
Kregg Lumpkin, Buccaneers
Yes, I didn't know who Kregg Lumpkin was until this week, either. The Bucs back-up's, back-up's back-up running back has been a favorite of the Tampa Bay coaching staff for a couple years (who knew?), and now after LeGarrette Blount (do the Bucs have the best collection of named running backs? Yes.) left Sunday's game against the Niners with an injured knee, Lumpkin could see some playing time. On top of it, Earnest Graham has also been nursing a tweaked hamstring. Graham played last week, but hammy's also have a way of rearing their heads again. If Blount's knee keeps him out, Lumpkin could be a good candidate to get 10-15 touches and a few receptions against the Saints in week 6.
Ryan Torain, Redskins
Ryan Torain went off two weeks ago in his first action of the season against the St. Louis Rams for 135 yards and a touchdown on only 19 carries. Now, before you wet yourself, the Rams have the worst run defense in the league. But, if you feel like wetting yourself again, Torain and the Redskins are going up against the Eagles and their almost equally pathetic run defense. The Redskins backfield has been a committee all season, but coach Mike Shanahan said that Torain ran like he was "possessed" against the Rams. If that's not a vote of confidence that could turn a running back committee into a running back of one, then I don't know what is. Tim Hightower, who injured his shoulder two weeks ago expects to play, but look for him to primarily be a third-down back with Torain playing his way into the feature role.
Jackie Battle, Kansas City Chiefs
Remember when everyone was pretty sure that Dexter McCluster was going to blow up after Kansas City lost Jamaal Charles for the year? Well, that didn't really happen. And last week Battle was the back who lead the Chiefs in carries and yards, with 19 and 119 respectively. The Chiefs are on bye this week and play the Raiders in week 7, so you may want to hold off on picking him up. And quite honestly, no one knows what to expect from the Chiefs offense. But if he emerges as the go-to back and keeps putting up numbers like he did in week 5, you could have a solid RB2 on your hands.
Bernard Scott, Cincinnati Bengals
Cedric Benson is going to get suspended at some point, right? Right? And when he does, well, you have a mediocre RB3 to put right in your lineup. (Full disclosure: We've expected Benson to be suspended for weeks now. Some of us have actually been keeping Bernard Scott on our bench way longer than we should have. If anyone in the league office is reading this, please put us out of our misery and either suspend Benson or let us know that he got off scot free.)
Pierre Garcon, Indianapolis Colts
I know what you're thinking. "Pierre Garcon? There's no way he's available on the waiver wire." Well, consider this just a friendly reminder to go back and check. Garcon was dropped in a lot of leagues after Kerry Collins came out and stunk up the joint. But now, with Curtis "I look like an ugly Thor" Painter at the helm in Indy, Garcon's season has been revived. He has a great rapport with Painter, posting 146 and 125 yards and 4 (count em, 4!) touchdowns in the last two weeks, alone. So while there's a good chance he's not around, it's worth taking the two minutes to check. You could find a diamond from an owner who gave up on him weeks ago.
Doug Baldwin, Seattle Seahawks
The Seahawks are on a bye next week, but if you have the space, it's a good idea to stash Baldwin. Baldwin racked up 8 catches and 136 yards with a td last week to follow up a solid 5 catch, 84 yard performance two weeks ago. With Sidney Rice getting most of the attention Baldwin has managed to get himself into a consistent bit of production. How long this will last remains to be seen. Both Baldwin and Ben Obomanu (more on him next) have capitalized in the absence of Mike Williams concussion issues. But both of those guys are doing what the Seahawks offense is asking of them.
Ben Obomanu, Seattle Seahawks
Right now you're probably wondering why we made a joke about picking up the Seahawks possible starting quarterback and we've got two Seahawks wide receivers on the waiver wire list. Well, it's because we like jokes. (And there are conflicting reports on whether Whitehurst will actually be the starter now.) But back to the other Big Ben. He posted a solid 6 catch and 51 yard performance with a touchdown added in for good measure last week. The Mike Williams absence has helped him and he could be the first to lose playing time when Williams comes back. But until he does, keep Obomanu in your back pocket. Or in your front pocket, whichever you prefer.
Greg Little, Cleveland Browns
Good news! Greg Little has been officially promoted to the starting lineup for the Cleveland Browns. Which is a little like getting promoted at Enron. (In 2011.) The Browns currently have the 30th ranked offense in the NFL, and given the fact that there are only 32 teams in the league, that qualifies them as "bad." Is Greg Little going to come in and make them a top 5 offense? Probably not, but he is a dynamic playmaker who should rack up a few receptions starting in the X slot for the Browns. Little was the guy making noise in the preseason as a breakout candidate, and this is his chance to prove those yea-sayers right.
Legedu Naanee, Carolina Panthers
With Steve Smith getting back to his old self and Cam Newton playing beyond his years, there might actually be some room for Legedu to put up some points. Normally, there wouldn't be too much to get excited about from a 4 catch and 63 yard performance. But what should get you at least a little excited is that Naanee was targeted 8 times in the game (which led the team.) Now, should he have done more with those 8 targets? Sure. But if teams keep double-teaming Steve Smith, there should be lots of room opening up for Naanee. And if he can stay on the same page with Newton, he may just blossom into a decent WR3.
Harry Douglas, Atlanta Falcons
Before the season started, everyone loved Harry Douglas as a sleeper. Now, five weeks in, the only person who loves Harry Douglas is his mom (mostly because he's basically sucked fantasy-wise all season). But there may be some reason to hold out a little hope. With Julio Jones going down with a hamstring injury, this could be Harry's time to shine. Keep an eye on how long Jones will be out. If his hammy is fine, then don't take a flier on Harry. If not, then go for it because the Falcons aren't shy about spreading the ball around.
Damian Williams, Tennessee Titans
When Kenny Britt went down, someone had to step up and fill at least some of the shoes he left on LP Field. And it was Damian who had a breakout game in week 5 with 6 catches for 66 yards and a touchdown. The Titans are on a bye in week 6, so you should probably hold off on adding him right now, but he's had two touchdowns in as many weeks. And he should be good for a handful of receptions each week as his chemistry with Matt Hasselbeck gets better with more playing time. The lack of running game for the Titans means they'll probably be throwing more than usual, as well.
Kevin Walter, Houston Texans
Walter has been inconsistent all season, but finally had a decent game in week 5 against the Raiders with five catches for 81 yards and one touchdown. After getting zero production in weeks 2 and 4, there's really no telling which Kevin will show up next week. Houston is going up against the Ravens in week 6, so normally we'd say not to pick him up, but since Andre Johnson will be out, and the Texans will either be down or needing to throw a lot, this will be your last chance to squeeze many fantasy points out of Walter. But if he continues is on again off again pattern, then he may get zero catches next week. Don't say we didn't warn you (yes, we're hedging against ourselves.)
Kyle Williams, San Francisco 49ers
With Josh Morgan out for most, if not all, of the season with a busted ankle, it looks like Kyle Williams may have a chance to step up in his place. And with Alex Smith playing out of his mind, he may be worth a flier in a deep, deep league. Williams hasn't done anything to give anyone the idea that he's a breakout candidate, but no one thought the 49ers would be 4-1 right now, either. Weirder things have happened.
Joel Dreessen, Houston Texans
Just when you thought TE/RB one-week sensation James Casey who would be the guy to be your genius waiver wire pickup in week 4, along comes Joel Dreessen, a borong old TE (no RB) to drop 5 catches for 125 yards and a touchdown. Casey is now out with a torn pectoral muscle, so we guess maybe Dreessen is going to be more involved? OK, I'm going to come tell you something that no other fantasy pundit will tell you, no one has any clue what Joel Dreessen will do next week. But, with both Casey and Johnson on the sideline, someone has to get some catches, right? Right?
Any Kicker That's Available If Your Kicker Is On Bye
Seriously, it doesn't matter. Go find a monkey, and then go find some darts, and then ask the monkey to throw some darts at the list of available kickers. And then pick a different one. It just doesn't matter. There's no way to predict which kicker will just put PATs through the uprights on a random Sunday, or the kicker who will launch three 50 yarders. Just make sure he's starting and his kicking leg hasn't fallen off and he's as good as any other kicker. (You may also want to make sure his non-kicking leg hasn't fallen off, either. Just to be safe.)
Check back later this week for our complete week 6 positional rankings.
By Mitch Light
It was far from the most stressful environment, and his team was favored by more than four touchdowns. But AJ McCarron made a nice statement Saturday night in Tuscaloosa as the Crimson Tide cruised past Vanderbilt, 34–0. Alabama’s sophomore quarterback played the best game of his short career against a Vanderbilt team that entered the game ranked 11th in the nation in total defense and fourth in the nation in passing efficiency defense.
McCarron had season-highs in completions (23), attempts (30), passing yards (237) and touchdowns (four). And most important, he did not throw an interception against a Commodore defense that had picked off 14 passes in its first four games. McCarron, who threw two picks in the first game of the season against Kent State, has now gone
21 quarters without throwing an interception.
“AJ played pretty well,” said Alabama coach Nick Saban, never one to offer effusive praise for his players. “He didn’t turn the ball over which was really important.”
The quarterback position was one of the few question marks for this Alabama team. McCarron beat out Phillip Sims in the preseason for the starting assignment and is trying to prove that he has what it takes — both physically and mentally — to run Alabama’s pro-style offense. He is 6–0 as a starter, with wins at Penn State and at Florida on his resume.
Alabama has already shown that it can run the ball with success. The Crimson Tide will need to prove that it can pass the ball — and do so in big spots — to be a championship team. Saturday night, McCarron and his offense took a step in the right direction.
“I definitely think we are an offense that can run and pass at will when we are clicking on all cylinders,” said tight end Brad Smelley. “I think we showed tonight that if you try to load the box, we can definitely make plays over the top and find the zones and the spaces that are open in there. We are a two phase team so we can run and pass.”
Alabama was particularly effective on third down against Vanderbilt, converting a season-high 70.6 percent (12-of-17). For the season, McCarron has completed 29-of-46 passes (63.0 percent) on third down with 23 of those 29 completions resulting in a first down.
If that type of production in the passing game continues, no one will question McCarron’s ability to be a championship quarterback.
AROUND THE SEC
• Tennessee’s Tyler Bray had thrown at least two touchdown passes in 10 straight games before being shut out by Georgia on Saturday night. Bray will be out of action for 4-6 weeks with a broken thumb.
• In two SEC games, Tennessee’s tailbacks have rushed for only 49 yards on 30 carries.
• In a 38–14 loss to Arkansas, Auburn was held scoreless for three straight quarters in the same game for the first time in the Gus Malzahn era.
• Vanderbilt’s average of 4.4 yards per play against Alabama was the highest of any Crimson Tide opponent this season. The Commodores, however, only had 43 offensive snaps, resulting in 190 total yards.
• Kentucky attempted a total of 26 passes for 17 yards in its 54–3 loss at South Carolina. The Cats averaged 0.65 yards per attempt.
• Arkansas has 109 plays of 10 yards or more this season. Kentucky and Vanderbilt each have only 44 such plays from scrimmage.
• Florida has been outgained 819 to 425 over the last two weeks.
• LSU has only allowed four sacks in six games. The Tigers are the only team in the league that is giving up less than one per game.
• South Carolina tailback Marcus Lattimore broke a two-game stretch of sub-100-yard games. He gained 102 yards on 22 carries against Kentucky, though he was held without a touchdown for the first time this season.
Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Steelers
Playing behind a patchwork offensive line and walking with a noticeable limp, Roethlisberger produced an heroic effort during a 38–17 win over the Titans. Big Ben completed 24-of-34 passes for 228 yards, five TDs — tying the Steelers’ record held by Terry Bradshaw and Mark Malone — and one INT. Roethlisberger also took just one sack, despite the makeshift O-line and sprained left foot, on which he wore a shoe one size larger than normal with a steel plate insert on the bottom to prevent bending.
Aaron Rodgers, QB, Packers
After downplaying a few of Brett Favre’s backhanded compliments early in the week, it was business as usual for Rodgers on Sunday night. Storming Atlanta, Rodgers completed 26-of-39 passes for 396 yards, two TDs and zero INTs in a 25–14 victory on the road. En route to leading the Packers to a 5–0 start, Rodgers has thrown for 1,721 yards, 14 TDs and only two INTs for a league-best 122.9 passer rating this season — and an NFL-record 100.9 career passer rating.
Adrian Peterson, RB, Vikings
There was no lack of carries this week for A.D., who got the ball “All Day” during a 34–10 win over the Cardinals. Peterson had 29 carries for 122 yards and three trips to the end zone. The three scores — covering 4, 24 and 14 yards — all came in the first quarter, as the Vikings built a 28–0 edge they would not relinquish. After letting several big first-half leads slip away earlier this season, Minnesota finally earned its first victory of the year in Week 5.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis, RB, Patriots
The “Lawfirm” made the outcome of the Jets game an open-and-shut case, with 27 carries for a career-high 136 yards and two TDs in the 30–21 victory over the Patriots’ AFC East rivals. New England never trailed, cruising to its 19th consecutive regular-season win at Foxborough and 13th straight regular season game with at least 30 points scored, while handing New York its third straight loss in the process.
Nick Barnett, LB, Bills
Buffalo’s defense forced Philadelphia’s Michael Vick into four INTs — two of which were picked off by Barnett — and one lost fumble during a thrilling 31–24 upset of the “Dream Team.” The middle linebacker made the most of his first two INTs of the season, with 47 total return yards — including a 31-yard pick-six. The 4–1 Bills are off to their best start since 1999, the last time the franchise made the playoffs.
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has to be getting nervous despite a fantastic 5-0 start to the 2011 season. Rodgers, who is the NFL’s all-time most efficient quarterback, will now be without both of his starting offensive tackles for the near future after losing stalwart Chad Clifton Sunday night in Atlanta.
Clifton, a 12-year veteran from Tennessee, was bull-rushed by defensive end Ray Edwards in the second quarter of the 25-14 win over the Atlanta Falcons. Clifton laid on the turf clutching the back of his leg and was eventually carted off the field. He did not return to the game and Packers’ head coach Mike McCarthy said on Monday that Clifton has a “significant” hamstring injury and will be out indefinitely. McCarthy went on to say that it will take a couple of weeks to figure out just how severe the injury might be.
The Packers were already without 2010 first-round draft pick in right tackle Bryan Bulaga with a knee injury. Bulaga missed his second straight game Sunday night as he did not dress for the Falcons’ contest. There is a chance that Bulaga could return this weekend against St. Louis. His return would be a huge boost for an offensive line that could be in serious trouble - especially considering how potent the Detroit Lions defensive line has looked.
Fellow second year player, Marshall Newhouse (TCU, 6-4, 319) had already been filling in for Bulaga when Clifton went down with the hamstring injury. Newhouse shifted to left tackle and 2011 first-round pick Derek Sherrod stepped into the starting line-up for the first time at right tackle.
The impact of losing Clifton was felt immediately. Atlanta registered four sacks, eight quarterback hits and were constantly forcing Rodgers out of his championship rhythm. The offensive line could not slow the Falcons pass rush, which frequently forced Rodgers out of the pocket and into rushed throws.
That said, the Green Bay Packers are still the reining Super Bowl champions and have won 11 straight games after the 14-0 come-from-behind victory. And much of the credit needs to fall to Rodgers for making due with Falcon defenders breathing down his neck on a regular basis. It only proves that Rodgers is arguably the best player in the game today and is possibly the most valuable commodity any team owns.
Now, without potential Hall of Fame candidate Chad Clifton protecting his blindside, Rodgers’ offensive line is questionable at best and Packers' fans must be nervous about protecting their MVP.
-by Braden Gall (@AthlonBraden on twitter)
In the first quarter, Addai took the hand-off over the left side of the line and immediately felt something wrong with his hamstring. The Colts' running back left the game and never returned, but is confident that the injury is not serious.
Addai, the Colts and fantasy owners everywhere will know more after Monday’s MRI results.
For fantasy owners out there, the news is especially painful since Addai and the Colts running game was going to be featured for the rest of the season with the inexperience at quarterback. Therefore, if you happen to own Addai – who had an 86-yard, TD performance just two weeks ago – Delone Carter and/or Donald Brown need to be added to your roster.
Carter, the first year back out of Syracuse, got 12 carries and scored a touchdown in Addai’s absecnce. Brown, a former first round pick, saw fewer carries (8) and didn’t score but was more effective. Brown averaged 4.8 yards per carry while Carter posted an anemic 1.8 clip. Carter had two catches and Brown failed to register a reception.
Brown, on the surface, appears like a more dependable option. He was a first-round pick and has a huge edge in experience. Yet, Brown also has been injury prone and inconsistent.
The right pick-up is likely to be Delone Carter. He has 41 carries on the season for 125 yards and a score while Brown’s eight carries were his first of the season. And on the surface the next two match-ups seem like solid starts for Carter. The Colts head to Cincinnati this weekend and then visit New Orleans the next weekend.
Temper your expectations, however. The Bengals rank fifth in the NFL in scoring by allowing only 18.8 points per game. You might also be surprised to know that the 279.6 yards per game allowed by Cincinnati is the best mark in the NFL. They are seventh in the NFL in rushing defense (88.6). The Saints are actually the much better match-up – if the Colts can keep the score close enough to keep running the ball. New Orleans is allowing 5.2 yards per carry and a middle-of-the-pack 107.6 yards per game. Keep this mind next weekend when setting your line-up.
With Addai claiming the injury isn’t serious and looking to return shortly, grab Carter if you are desperate, but understand that the Bengals and Saints don’t offer as easy a match-up as you may think.
- by Braden Gall (@AthlonBraden on twitter)
Last week, it was the best player on offense. This week, the Houston Texans’ best defender went down with an injury.
All-Pro defensive end-turned-linebacker Mario Williams will miss the rest of the season with a torn pectoral muscle. He was tied for the AFC lead in sacks with five on the season but suffered the injury in Sunday’s 25-20 home loss to the Raiders. The bad news for the Texans comes a week after All-Pro wide receiver Andre Johnson suffered a hamstring injury in their 17-10 win over the Steelers. At least with Johnson, the injury is not considered season-ending.
The loss of Williams hurts a defense that new coordinator Wade Phillips has turned into a top ten unit. After being one of the NFL’s worst defenses a year ago, Houston is better equipped this season to deal with a key injury. However, losing your leading pass rusher is something that is challenging to overcome.
Houston knows the AFC South is wide open this season with Peyton Manning’s dominating presence on the sidelines with the Colts. The Titans will be tough in the trenches all year, but Tennessee looks like the only obstacle to the Texans making their first-ever postseason appearance. Fortunately for Gary Kubiak’s club, the entire division lost on Sunday so no ground was lost. But now he must prepare his team for consecutive road trips to Baltimore and Nashville, and that just became much more difficult without Williams and probably Johnson.
The Texans looked like the clear cut favorite to win the division after the Manning injury in Indianapolis, but now Houston will have to battle until the very last game. They will host the Titans on New Year’s Day in a contest that could very well be for the AFC South crown and a postseason berth.
The points are piling up in the Sooner State. The Cowboys of Oklahoma State lead college football in scoring at over 51 points a game, while the Oklahoma Sooners have tallied 45 points per game. Both teams have veteran signal callers — OU’s Landry Jones and OSU’s Brandon Weeden — as well as All-America candidates at receiver — Ryan Broyles for the Sooners and Justin Blackmon for the Cowboys. The running game is solid for both squads, but there is no doubt that a wide-open passing attack is each team’s calling card. It is highly possible that both Bob Stoops’ Sooners and Mike Gundy’s Cowboys are undefeated when the meet in the Bedlam game on December 3. Hopefully the scoreboard in Stillwater is ready.
Who has the best offense in the state of Oklahoma?
Braden Gall (@AthlonBraden)
I think the Oklahoma State Cowboys boast the best offense in the state of Oklahoma. Brandon Weeden slightly more efficient (76% completion rate versus 69%) than Landry Jones. Joseph Randle and Jeremy Smith give the Pokes a slightly more traditional power running attack. The offensive lines and the receivers are basically a wash - incredibly deep, talented and versatile. But the good news for Sooners' fans is that defenses normally have something to say about wins and losses too - and the Sooners defense, in my opinion, is far superior to that of Oklahoma State. It will be the Sooners defense that makes the difference in the Bedlam Series in the final weekend of the year.
Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
This is really a tossup and you can make a strong argument for both. Oklahoma State leads the nation in scoring, while ranking second in total and passing offense. Oklahoma isn’t far behind the Cowboys in any category, as it ranks ninth nationally in scoring, fifth in passing and sixth in total offense. The strength of schedule is about even, but I give Oklahoma a slight edge here, as the Sooners played a good Florida State defense in Week 3. Both teams are led by Heisman contenders at quarterback, with Oklahoma State’s Brandon Weeden slightly edging Landry Jones in passing yards and touchdowns. Also, both offenses boast All-American receivers and a deep collection of running backs. Both teams had to break in a new coordinator this season, but so far, the change in playcallers has not had any impact on the success of the offense. I’d probably give a slight edge to Oklahoma, but ask me tomorrow and my opinion might change.
How ‘bout them Cowboys? Oklahoma State has the stats edge — ranking second nationally in yards (577.4 ypg) and first in scoring (51.4 ppg), ahead of Oklahoma's sixth-ranked yardage (534.6 ypg) and ninth-best points (45.0 ppg). Not only that, the Pokes have the most dynamic player on either roster in mohawk-rocking receiver Justin Blackmon. The 6'1", 215-pound junior from Ardmore, Okla., is the reigning Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year and Biletnikoff Award winner. Aside from the future first-round pick out wide, coach Mike Gundy's team has a steady veteran quarterback in soon-to-be 28-year-old Brandon Weeden, a balanced run attack led by Joseph Randle and Jeremy Smith, and an O-line that was runner-up behind Alabama in Athlon Sports' preseason unit awards. O-State's offense is more balanced, powerful and productive than OU's. Expect another shootout (47–41 Sooners win in 2010) when the Big 12's best line up on Dec. 3 this season.
Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman)
I give the slight edge to Oklahoma because the Sooners have played against much better defenses so far. Oklahoma State has looked great, but the Cowboys were shut down in the first half by Texas A&M, and the Aggies aided the Cowboys’ comeback with a ton of second-half turnovers. The Sooners have played against three Top 30 defenses — Florida State, Missouri and Texas. It would not shock me to see OSU continue to light up scoreboards in Big 12 play, but the Cowboys have faced some pretty low-rated defenses this season — Texas A&M (99th), Tulsa (110th), Arizona (115th) and Kansas (120th). I’ll be interested to see how Weeden and company perform against Texas. Obviously both offenses are big-time attacks, and we can only hope the Bedlam Series is as fun this season as it was in 2010.
Victor Cruz has done everything he can to become a starting wide receiver in the NFL.
Whenever he's on the field, whether during a preseason game, in a starting role, filling in for an injured New York Giants receiver, or as a back-up, the guy just makes plays. He did it again this week with eight catches for 161 yards and a touchdown, while making a spectacular catch (since the NFL doesn't allow embedding, you'll have to see the video here)
So why isn't he a starter? He has blown up the last three weeks, filling the stat sheets with 369 yards receiving and three touchdowns to go along with 17 receptions.
And yet Giants offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride says that Cruz is progressing at a "slow pace." I'd hate to see what a quickly-pacing Cruz would be doing. 500 yards receiving per game?
But at some point, the Giants will have to come to their senses and admit that Cruz should be a full member of the first team offense. As the Giants continue to lose, it seems pretty clear that they need all the help they can get.
With Manningham and Nicks still being the starters on paper, Cruz is definitely a wide receiver worth owning. No matter how many times the Giants sit him on the bench, or tell him he's not good enough, he continues to prove them wrong.
by Josh Kipnis
Milwaukee's Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder are two of the hottest topics in the National League MVP discussion. And although postseason play cannot be considered in the debate, Braun and Fielder both proved why they are among the NL’s best hitters in the NLCS opener against the St. Louis Cardinals.
The St. Louis Cardinals’ starting pitching was dominant, to say the least, against the Philadelphia Phillies in last week’s NLDS. St. Louis gave up just six runs and five extra-base hits in the entire 5-game series versus Philly.
The Brewers’ bats, however, were up to the test and ready to pound anyone brave enough to step foot on the rubber. Milwaukee knocked in nine runs and muscled eight extra-base hits in their 9-6 victory over the Cards.
Six of those RBI and three of the extra-base hits came off the bats of Braun and Fielder. Braun went 2-4 on the day with a HR, 2B, and 4 RBI while his fellow batsman went 1-3 with a HR and 2 RBI.
Powerful bats like these are quite intimidating to opposing pitchers, but even more so when you have to pitch to one immediately following the other. “When both of us are going good, it obviously becomes far more difficult to pitch to both of us,” Braun said about the duo. Brewers’ pitcher Zach Greinke also spoke highly of the two: “It seems like right now, every time it comes to the middle of the lineup, there’s an opportunity. They’re really good. Maybe, probably the best three-four in baseball right now.” This assumption may have to be accepted after witnessing Milwaukee’s record setting 5th inning.
The Brewers trailed 5-2 in the bottom of the 5th, but just six batters later they led 8-5.
Milwaukee peppered the outfield with hits. Corey Hart led off with a single. Jerry Hairston Jr. followed with a double. Slugger, Ryan Braun hit a ground-rule double to right, scoring two. Prince Fielder, on the very next pitch, crushed a towering shot to right for a 2-run, go ahead homer. Rickie Weeks then reached safely on an error by pitcher Octavio Dotel. And finally, Yuniesky Betancourt cleared the bases with a 2-run homerun of his own.
The Brew Crew scored six runs and took the lead without even recording an out. The five extra-base hits in the inning were the most in a single inning by any Major League team in the playoffs.
“It’s hard to imagine something like that before it happens,” said Brewers’ catcher Jonathan Lucroy. “But afterward, it’s pretty amazing when you think about it. A homer. A double. A ground-rule double. Guys getting on…You don’t know when those innings are going to happen. But when they do, they’re a lot of fun to be a part of.”
Tonight, Manager Tony La Russa hands the ball off to Edwin Jackson for St. Louis. Jackson has a 2.08 ERA against Milwaukee in his last two starts. The start before that, however, the Brewers scored ten runs on Jackson and also had fourteen hits-a career high for the pitcher. The dramatic theme of this divisional rivalry will surely continue with an intriguing matchup in game two.
Tiger Woods is used to throwing hot dogs around, so it was ironic when a fan at the Frys.com golf event ran onto a green and threw a hot dog at the controversial golf star.
Whether the hot dog was supposed to symbolize Woods' philandering ways, is yet unknown.
The fan, yelled a few things, which were indecipherable, tossed the dog and then laid down, waiting to get arrested.
He was never close to Tiger at any point in the ordeal. But the biggest travesty in this whole thing is that there is no video of the incident. In this day and age, that seems almost impossible.
According to Woods, who was trying to putt at the time, "I could hear the security behind me. I was still bent over my putt. And when I looked up (the hot dog) was already in the air."
The man arrested in the incident was 31 years old and from nearby Santa Rosa and he expressed remorse for tossing the dog.
Is it just me, or does golf need more drunken idiots to spice up the game? With Tiger Woods fall from grace coinciding with his game's fall as well, golf just isn't that interesting as it used to be.
Remember golf before Tiger Woods' star came along? Of course you don't because you didn't watch golf back then (unless you're a 60 year old man, then maybe you watched it.)
Golf needs excitement. And what tells you everything you need to know about the state of the game, the hot dog throwing incident involving Tiger Woods is getting much more press than the fact that some guy (named Bryce Mulder) actually won the tournament we're talking about.
If Tiger can get his game back, then interest in the game will come back, too. Until then, we'll have to hope for more hot dogs.
Tim Tebow has a knack for not going away. With Kyle Orton continuing to struggle, and fans begging for Tebow Time to start in Denver, head coach John Fox finally gave in and benched Orton during the Broncos game against the Chargers.
And now, with the Broncos on a bye week, it seems that the Tim Tebow era is going to officially get underway in the mile-high city.
If there was any doubt left in your mind, the Broncos next game is on October 23rd in Miami, where there will be a special reunion honoring of the Florida Gators 2008 championship team, meaning the stands will be packed with Tebow supporters for his first start of the 2011 season. How much more perfect could that get?
And, of course, Tebow lead the Broncos to a near comeback with a 12-yard touchdown run and hit Knowshon Moreno on a 28-yard screen pass for another touchdown.
Tebow then lead the Broncos down the field in the last minute of play to try a hail mary that nearly won the game for Denver.
Sounds like the storyline for a quarterback on the verge of greatness, right?
Well, if you look into the numbers a little deeper, you can see that Tebow didn't perform as well as the story may lead us to believe.
His stat line, 4-10 for 79 yards and a touchdown and a sparkling 101.7 quarterback rating looks both good and bad. The 101.7 and no interceptions looks nice, but the 40% completion rating isn't something you want to hang your hat on.
And when you break down his completions, they look rather pedestrian. The 28-yard touchdown pass was a screen. Those yards and touchdown were pretty much on the shoulders of Knowshon, instead of Tebow (Tim probably threw the ball 15 feet for that completion.)
And another of his 20 yards came on a spectacular catch by Brandon Lloyd. Which accounts for more than half of his yardage.
And while he deserves all the credit for his 12-yard touchdown run, it will be interesting to see if defenses who are preparing for him (instead of the statuesque Orton) will do a better job of stopping Tebow's legs.
Time will always tell with Tebow, and he has a history of proving the doubters wrong, but there's a reason John Fox was reluctant to put Tebow in the starting lineup. He does bring a spark, but he'll need to start bringing wins to Denver to turn the minds of his detractors.
By Braden Gall (@AthlonBraden on Twitter)
Post-Week 6 Pac-12 Power Rankings
Check out all of our college football rankings.
1. Oregon (4-1, 2-0) – Oregon's closest win in 2010 was a tightly played win over Cal in Berkeley. On Thursday night, the Ducks exacted some "revenge" by steam-rolling the Bears in the second half 43-15. But it came at a high price. Tailback LaMichael James ran for this third straight 200-yard game (the NCAA's fifth player to do it), but early in the fourth quarter James dislocated his right elbow and was carted off in an air-cast. Elbow Watch 2011 is now in full effect in Eugene as a timetable for his return has yet to be set. Look for stellar freshman De'Anthony Thomas and very capable back-up Kenjon Barner to fill the immediate void. Thomas has 477 yards from scrimmage and six touchdowns in five games while Barner has 190 yards and four touchdowns in three games in 2011. A potential Pac-12 championship game preview takes place this weekend in Autzen Stadium as Arizona State comes to town.
2. Stanford (5-0, 3-0) – Cardinal fans must be completely disappointed: Andrew Luck threw, gasp, an interception this weekend in the 48-7 win over Colorado. The nation's best player completed 26-of-33 passes for 370 yards and three touchdowns in the rout. Stanford is now averaging 46.2 points per game (seventh nationally) and has won its five games by an average margin of victory of 35.6 points. Luck's Heisman Trophy Tour heads to Pullman, Washington this weekend when Stanford visits Washington State. The Cougars were a gamey bunch last fall in the 38-28 loss in Palo Alto.
3. Arizona State (5-1, 3-0) – Brock Osweiler had his third career 300-yard passing effort in a turnover-aided 35-14 win over divisional foe Utah. Three turnovers on three consecutive possessions late in the third quarter helped blow open a close game to give the Sun Devils a 3-0 conference record and a commanding lead in the Pac-12 South. Osweiler finished with 325 yards and three touchdowns on a night where Cameron Marshall was held in check (21 att., 47 yards, TD). After forcing five more turnovers, ASU leads the Pac-12 in turnover margin at +1.33 per game. The Devils have the unenviable task of visiting the Oregon Ducks in Eugene this weekend in what could be a preview of the Pac-12 title game.
4. Washington (4-1, 2-0) – The Huskies got some well-deserved rest this weekend during the bye week. Washington now faces Colorado for the first time since 2000. The all-time series is tied up 5-5-1, and the Huskies are 2-3-1 all-time in Seattle against the Buffs. Washington must take care of business in a game it will be heavily favored to win as the schedule features Oregon, Stanford and USC as three of the next four games after this weekend.
5. USC (4-1, 2-1) – The Week Six bye week came a good time for USC as a Thursday night trip to Cal faces the Men of Troy this week. A trip to a surging Notre Dame squad and Stanford at home follow the primetime contest with the Bears. Matt Barkley threw for 352 yards and five touchdowns on 25-of-37 passing in last year's win over Cal. In fact, over the last two games, Barkley and USC have outscored Cal 78-17. Southern California has won seven straight games over Cal.
6. California (3-2, 0-2) – The Bears played valiant football in the first half — taking a 15-14 lead over Oregon into halftime on Thursday night. But that was as far as the Bears could go, allowing 29 second half points to the potent Ducks offense. Oregon rushed for 365 yards on 51 carries against what was ninth-ranked rushing defense in the nation (78.25). Now, Cal ranks 51st nationally at 135.6 yards per game. Cal faces another tough test against USC at home this weekend. USC has won seven straight over the Bears.
7. UCLA (3-3, 2-1) – The UCLA Bruins experienced the biggest move in the power rankings this week as they jump from 10th to seventh after a back-and-forth 28-25 win over Washington State. In a game that featured blocked extra-points, multiple two-point conversions, a broken leg and nearly dead-even offensive production (389 yards to 371 yards), Bruins back-up quarterback Kevin Prince — who was booed when he took the field — was the hero. Prince tossed a seven-yard touchdown pass to Shaq Evans with 3:26 left in the game to cap an eight-point fourth-quarter comeback after starting quarterback Rchard Brehaut broke his leg in the second quarter. UCLA gets some much-needed time off before facing Arizona on the road in two weeks in a primetime Thursday night affair.
8. Utah (2-3, 0-3) – Jon Hays made his first career start this weekend and it showed. He completed just 18 of his 33 attempts for 199 yards and threw three key interceptions in the 35-14 loss to Arizona State. For the second straight game, Utah turned the ball over five times, and it has led to a nasty baptism into Pac-12 play. The Utes are now 0-3 in their first three Pac-12 conference games in school history. The good news is Utah gets a break from Pac-12 play this weekend with a trip to Pittsburgh in an interesting mid-season BCS conference match-up with the Panthers, who have been one of the most schizophrenic teams in the nation.
9. Washington State (3-2, 1-1) – The Cougars were less than four minutes away from winning their fourth game of the season and starting 2-1 in Pac-12 play. However, UCLA back-up quarterback Kevin Prince tossed a go-ahead touchdowns with 3:26 left and Washington State went home from Westwood a loser. This weekend has been targeted as the return of starting quarterback Jeff Tuel after his Week One broken collarbone. Paul Wulff might have a tough decision to make as current signal-caller Marshall Lobbestael has averaged 335 yards per game in four starts with 13 touchdowns and four interceptions. It may not matter who starts at quarterback, however, as Stanford comes to town this Saturday.
10. Arizona (1-5, 0-4) – The temperature underneath Mike Stoops' rear end just got kicked up a notch. Losing to teams ranked in the top ten nationally is one thing, but losing to the winless Oregon State Beavers 37-27 is another. And it really wasn't even close as Oregon State took a 27-6 lead into halftime. Nick Foles continued his strong play — 378 yards passing — but the lack of a running game (53 yards on 19 att.) and the 115th-ranked total defense cost the Wildcats a chance at their first Pac-12 win. Stoops and company get to lick their wounds during the bye before facing UCLA on Thursday, October 20.
11. Colorado (1-5, 0-2) – Colorado was no match for Stanford, losing 48-7. Unfortunately, the Buffs are in the heart of one of the nastiest stretches any team in the nation will ever have to face. The loss to the Cardinal kicked off a five-game slate that features a trip to Washington this weekend followed by Oregon at home, at Arizona State and USC at home. In case, you didn't notice, those are the top five teams on this list.
12. Oregon State (1-4, 1-2) – The Beavers finally got into the win column with a home victory over a reeling Arizona team 37-27. Oregon State halted the Wildcats running game (53 yards) and produced a balanced attack of its own with 280 yards passing and 128 yards on the ground. Sean Mannion was efficient in completing 32-of-41 passes for 267 yards and two scores. The Beavers get to host BYU this weekend.
Created by: Online Masters Degree
A lot of people think college sports is an incredibly profitable industry that makes billions on the backs of the free labor of their athletes. And sometimes that is the case. But when you dive down into the numbers, you find that college athletics isn't as profitable as initially thought.
Many college sports don't pay for themselves and rely on subsidies to turn a profit. And college tend to spend much more on their student athletes than they do on their actual students.
And while the spector of whether schools should pay their athletes looms large, many of the athletic scholarships fall short of covering the cost of school for many of the student athletes. By over $3,000.
And for fans of college athletics who think their schools should pony up a few more bucks for better facilities to get better athletes, there's actually no correlation between spending more on athletics and winning more.
And while it would seem that the most important reason for attending school is to graduate, 34% of college basketball players fail to graduate from university (only 1% go to the NBA) and 31% of college football players fail to graduate (only 2% go to the NFL). So schools, it seems, do very little to ensure that their student athletes finish college.