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All taxonomy terms: Fantasy Football, injury updates, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-week-15-injury-updates-julio-jones-andre-johnson-torrey-smith-desean

Julio Jones went off on Monday night, but a hip injury has him Questionable entering Week 15. Andre Johnson suffered a concussion last week and it looks like he hasn’t been completely cleared quite yet. Here’s the latest on their injury situations and some other key WRs.


Andre Johnson, WR, Houston Texans at Indianapolis Colts

Questionable – Concussion
This one could come down to the wire. Johnson left last week’s game after suffering a concussion and as of Saturday, he was still working his way through the league-mandated tests. He did participate in practice on Friday, which is a positive sign, but he’s listed as Questionable and whether he plays or not will be determined by how he does with the necessary tests. If Johnson does get cleared to play, you should go ahead and start him, in spite of Ryan Fitzpatrick’s lack of consistency (6 TD passes in Week 13, 0 in Week 14).


Harry Douglas, Julio Jones and Roddy White, WRs, Atlanta Falcons vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

Probable – Foot; Questionable – Hip; Probable – Ankle
Falcon wide receivers have made frequent appearances on injury reports this season and Week 15 is no exception. The big concern here lies with Jones, who is coming off a franchise-record 250 yards receiving Monday night against Green Bay. As impressive as he was, Jones wasn’t able to finish the game due to a hip pointer. The issue prevented him from practicing, but he is listed as Questionable. Head coach Mike Smith called Jones a game-time decision, but he also added that he wants “the doctors and the people to say” that his All-Pro wide receiver is OK to play. Fortunately, word should come down well before kickoff (1 p.m. ET), so Jones’ owners can wait until making a final decision. If Jones doesn’t play both Douglas and White’s fantasy values would go up. White would become an even more appealing WR2, while Douglas could creep into WR3 territory because of the matchup against a generous Steelers defense.


Torrey Smith, WR, Baltimore Ravens vs. Jacksonville Jaguars

Probable – Knee
There seems to be some confusion with Smith’s official status, but we’re going with what the Ravens’ site lists, which is Probable. However, if reports from practice are true, Smith did not look like someone ready to play, appearing “gimpy and uncomfortable” running routes on an injured knee. What’s more, Smith didn’t see a single target last week, so it’s possible that even if he does play that he could either be on a snap count and/or go catch-less yet again. Put it all together and it sounds like too much risk to assume in a week with so much on the line. If you’re going to trust a Raven named Smith this week, make it Steve Sr.


DeSean Jackson, WR, Washington Redskins at New York Giants

Questionable – Shin
Jackson didn’t play last week, but there’s a chance he could get on the field today. He’s listed as Questionable after practicing on a limited basis, a designation that head coach Jay Gruden echoed when he put the odds of Jackson playing at 50-50. Even if Jackson does play, he’s not an appealing fantasy option, especially with Colt McCoy, who doesn’t have the strongest arm, set to get another start at quarterback.

Julian Edelman and Brandon LaFell, WRs, New England Patriots vs. Miami Dolphins

Questionable – Thigh; Questionable – Shoulder
For the second straight week both Edelman and LaFell were limited in practice, both are listed as Questionable for today’s game and both are expected to play. This duo combined for 12 catches for 182 yards and a touchdown last week against San Diego, with Edelman (8-141-1) accounting for most of the damage. Edelman is more appealing than LaFell as a fantasy option because of his PPR potential, but neither should be viewed as anything more than a low-end WR2 or safer WR3/flex option.

Fantasy Football Week 15 Injury Updates: Julio Jones, Andre Johnson, Torrey Smith, DeSean Jackson
Post date: Sunday, December 14, 2014 - 06:30
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy Football, injury updates, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /fantasy/week-15-fantasy-football-injury-updates-demaryius-thomas-calvin-johnson-kendall-wright-percy

There are just four later afternoon games on the Week 15 docket, but these matchups feature some pretty important wide receivers. Be sure to read the latest information on these situations before finalizing your lineup.

Calvin Johnson, WR, Detroit Lions at Minnesota Vikings

Probable – Ankle
I don’t think anyone’s surprised to see Johnson remain on the injury report. I also would be even more surprised if he didn’t play today, considering he got in two full practices and is listed as Probable. If you have Johnson on your team, you have the easy part – start him. It’s the Vikings’ secondary that has the tough assignment.

Demaryius Thomas, WR, Denver Broncos at San Diego Chargers

Probable – Ankle
Thomas joined teammate C.J. Anderson in nursing their ankle injuries on the sidelines during Wednesday’s practice, but both were full participants on Friday. Thomas is listed as Probable and he will play this afternoon. Thomas may not admit it, but it’s safe to say the ankle was an issue last week when he caught a season-low two passes for 11 yards. Even with the uncertainty regarding the condition of his ankle, Thomas is an elite WR1 that must be started. Maybe it helps to know that he caught eight balls for 105 yards the first time he faced the Chargers?

Kendall Wright, WR, Tennessee Titans vs. New York Jets

Questionable – Hand
Wright didn’t play last week after cracking a bone in his right hand during practice. He was a limited participant on Wednesday and Thursday, but wasn’t able to take part on Friday. Anytime a player’s participation decreases by the end of the week, it’s not a good sign. Wright is Questionable, but I would place the odds of him not playing better than those of him suiting up. Regardless, the Titans are a mess right now, especially at quarterback. Jake Locker, who was the initial starter, is back in there after rookie Zach Mettenberger suffered a season-ending shoulder injury. Locker was replaced for a variety of reasons, but his return hasn’t really done anything to jumpstart this offense. In short, I would be very wary of trusting any Titan offensive player on my fantasy team.


Percy Harvin, WR, New York Jets at Tennessee Titans

Questionable – Ankle
After reportedly being seen on crutches following last week’s game, Harvin has shown some remarkable improvement. He didn’t practice Wednesday or Thursday, but was able to do enough work on Friday to earn him a Questionable designation. There’s no guarantee Harvin will play and between the later kickoff (4:05 p.m. ET), inconsistent production and questions concerning QB Geno Smith, there’s really no reason to have Harvin in your starting lineup. Are you going to put your season’s fate in Harvin’s “questionable” hands?

Already Ruled Out:


Brandon Marshall, WRs, Chicago Bears – Marshall was taken off the field on a stretcher last week and immediately to a hospital after suffering rib and lung injuries on a hit during the Bears’ loss to the Cowboys. He did get out of the hospital earlier this week, but his season is over after being placed on injured reserve. Alshon Jeffery already was a WR1 before Marshall’s injury, which does present an opportunity to Marquess Wilson. However, with Chicago not playing until Monday night, there’s no real reason to take a chance on Wilson this week, unless he’s your Marshall replacement.

Week 15 Fantasy Football Injury Updates: Demaryius Thomas, Calvin Johnson, Kendall Wright, Percy Harvin
Post date: Sunday, December 14, 2014 - 06:30
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy Football, injury updates, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-week-15-injury-updates-julius-thomas-greg-olsen-charles-clay-jermaine

It’s Week 15, which means every game truly counts from there out. Fortunately for Julius Thomas owners, they should get their big tight end back on the field today, while Greg Olsen must navigate a quarterback switch. Here’s the TE injury rundown for today’s games.


Greg Olsen, TE, Carolina Panthers vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Probable – Knee
Olsen was Questionable last week and he caught 10 passes for 72 yards and a touchdown. The knee is still an issue, but he was a full practice participant on Friday and is listed as Probable. Even with the Panthers starting Derek Anderson at quarterback in place of an injured Cam Newton, Olsen’s production shouldn’t dip that much. He’s still a must-start TE1.


Julius Thomas, TE, Denver Broncos at San Diego Chargers

Probable – Ankle
After missing the past two games, Thomas was in uniform last week against the Bills, but he never played a single snap. That should change today, as he was able to get in a full practice on Friday and is listed as Probable. Thomas’ return could help jumpstart a passing game that’s taken a back seat to the ground game lately, while also taking some pressure off of teammate Demaryius Thomas, who is dealing with his own ankle injury. Despite missing three games, Julius Thomas is still the No. 6 scoring fantasy TE and is tied with Jordy Nelson for the most TD catches in the NFL (12). You probably already know this, but Thomas must be started if he’s on your team.


Charles Clay, TE, Miami Dolphins at New England Patriots

Questionable – Hamstring/Knee
Clay was able to return last week after missing the past two games and caught two passes for 41 yards. However, he’s not over his injuries, which continue to limit him in practice and have him listed as Questionable today. Again with Clay, it’s more the up-and-down production than health issues that put him in the “do not bother with” category.


Jermaine Gresham, TE, Cincinnati Bengals at Cleveland Browns

Questionable – Toe
Gresham didn’t appear on the injury report until Thursday, but this toe injury was bad enough to hold him out on Friday. He’s listed as Questionable, but the decline in activity is always a disconcerting sign. Gresham’s starting because Tyler Eifert is on IR, so it’s not like Gresham has mass fantasy appeal either. There’s no reason for Gresham to be on your roster, let alone started.


Jace Amaro, TE, New York Jets at Tennessee Titans

Probable – Concussion
Amaro was a full practice participant on Thursday and Friday and is listed as Probable. He will return from a two-game absence this afternoon. If you want to use Amaro in your lineup, relying on Geno Smith to get him the ball enough to put some useful statistics together, you go right ahead.

Fantasy Football Week 15 Injury Updates: Julius Thomas, Greg Olsen, Charles Clay, Jermaine Gresham
Post date: Sunday, December 14, 2014 - 06:30
All taxonomy terms: NBA
Path: /nba/nba-considering-shortening-preseason

In an effort to lessen the wear and tear on pro basketball bodies, league executives have begun discussions aimed toward shortening the NBA preseason.


As reported by Grantland’s Zach Lowe, the measure would allow the regular season (which would still be a full 82 games) to begin about ten days earlier — the postseason, in this scenario would commence at the same time. There would be, logically, fewer back-to-back gauntlets for teams if this possibility takes place, and more opportunities for rest throughout the year.


Per Lowe: “The league is hoping that a few tweaks, including a shortened preseason and an extended All-Star break, will add up to something meaningful. Any change in the number of preseason games would likely not take place until the 2016-17 season at the earliest, sources say. Revenue from preseason games goes into the pool that owners and players split, but the league may not have to negotiate any reduction in the preseason schedule with players; the collective bargaining agreement merely calls for “up to eight” exhibition games ahead of the regular season.


“Teams typically play seven or eight preseason games. Teams put together preseason schedules themselves, while the league governs the 82-game regular-season schedule. That is a minor sore spot for team executives tired of haggling with each other over the dates and locations of preseason games. It is not a popular job.”


The preseason, beyond being valuable for revenue purposes, is also a great time for teams (whether they’re familiar with each other or freshly assembled) to build chemistry, so some coaches might take issue with a truncated version of the warm-up stretch of the year.


But no fan’s guts are lit on fire by the prospect of exhibition games. There’s a certain thrill to watching your favorite roundball heroes take the hardwood again after a long summer layoff, but it wears off quickly when you realize how low the stakes are in preseason contests. The sooner the games that count can start — and the fresher the players can be for them — is ultimately for the better.


— John Wilmes


Post date: Friday, December 12, 2014 - 16:40
All taxonomy terms: Essential 11, Overtime
Path: /overtime/athlons-essential-11-links-day-december-12-2014

This is your daily links roundup of our favorite sports and entertainment posts on the web for Dec. 11:


Mrs. Tom Brady took a trip to the beach, and cameras were clicking


• Urban Meyer's wife caught on fire the other night


Bruce Arians botched a challenge last night


The Bears have reached unprecedented levels of dysfunction


This guy's amazing golf trick shot involves a swimming pool and a fake cup


Gosder Cherilus is not a doctor, but he has a grim prognosis for Jadeveon Clowney.


An open letter to Johnny Manziel


A reminder for J.J. Watt that it's tough for a defensive player to win MVP.


Here's a crazy conspiracy theory behind Gary Andersen's departure from Wisconsin for Oregon State.


• Today's year-end list: The best sports media feuds of 2014


Jared Lorenzen offered his services to the Cardinals via Twitter


• Kobe had some hard words for his soft Laker teammates.


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

Post date: Friday, December 12, 2014 - 11:04
All taxonomy terms: Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers, Nick Young, NBA
Path: /nba/kobe-bryant-about-pass-michael-jordan-points-scored

Kobe Bryant has made quite the career out of impersonating Michael Jordan. Bryant’s studious, obsessive emulation of MJ’s form of isolation basketball has made him the league’s most famous, prized hero-baller since His Airness hung up his ever-famous shoes (for the third and final time) in 2003.


And now, Kobe is mere games away from passing Jordan in a certain page of the record books. Bryant is No. 4 all-time in NBA scoring with 32,262 points; Jordan is No. 3, but just 30 ahead of the Black Mamba with 32,292. That gap is one Kobe should be able to close by the end of the weekend — his Los Angeles Lakers play twice between now and Monday, against the San Antonio Spurs and Minnesota Timberwolves, and Bryant averages 25.5 points per game.


It’s only a short matter of time until Kobe surpasses his idol.


But we don’t have to wait any longer for Bryant to lose his mind. He’s had it up to here with the mediocrity of his current Lakers squad, and the world saw that loudly and clearly with his recent outburst at a team practice. Bryant had these not-safe-for-work words to say when the session let out on Thursday:


It’s almost hard to believe the situation in L.A.


Bryant has always been a difficult personality, but now that he’s surrounded by a platoon of inexperienced, immature players — including the always-vocal Nick Young — it’s bringing out the very worst of his hyper-competitive tendencies. With Kobe at their center, the NBA’s most-storied franchise has become something of a farce for now.


One wonders if the Lakers can bring title competition back to Hollywood before Kobe’s career ends. Perhaps the unlikely prospect of Rajon Rondo coming to the Lakers—with rumors of such sparked by a recent breakfast rendezvous — will make things interesting again. Otherwise, Lakers fans will have to wait out the career of one of their most darling stars in Bryant before they can earnestly root for a championship again.


— John Wilmes


Post date: Friday, December 12, 2014 - 10:17
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-2014-postseason-all-america-team

With the conclusion of the regular season, it’s time to reflect on the college football season and honor the best of the best from 2014. There were plenty of outstanding individual and team performances this year, and of course, we can’t forget about the new four-team playoff, which added a new element of intrigue to the season.


As the college football world prepares for the bowl season, Athlon Sports handing out hardware to the nation’s best players from this year.


As usual, it’s never easy assembling three All-America teams. There are plenty of standout performers that won’t make the cut, but we tried to blend talent, production and consistency to form the top four teams.

2014 Conference Awards: ACC | Big 12 | Big Ten | Pac-12 | SEC


Athlon Sports 2014 All-America Team
First-Team OffenseSecond-Team OffenseThird-Team OffenseFourth-Team Offense
QB Marcus Mariota
QB Trevone Boykin
QB Dak Prescott
Mississippi State 
QB J.T. Barrett
Ohio State 
RB Tevin Coleman
RB James Conner
RB Jay Ajayi
Boise State 
RB David Cobb
RB Melvin Gordon
RB Ameer Abdullah
RB Duke Johnson
RB Samaje Perine
WR Amari Cooper
WR Tyler Lockett
Kansas State 
WR Nelson Agholor
WR Tyler Boyd
WR Kevin White
West Virginia 
WR Rashad Greene
Florida State 
WR Jaelen Strong
Arizona State 
WR Justin Hardy
East Carolina 
WR Rashard Higgins
Colorado State 
AP Tyreek Hill
Oklahoma State 
AP D.J. Foster
Arizona State 
AP Marcus Murphy
TE Nick O'Leary
Florida State 
TE Clive Walford
TE Maxx Williams
TE Evan Engram
Ole Miss 

C Reese Dismukes

C Hroniss Grasu
C B.J. Finney
Kansas State 
C Jack Allen
Michigan State 
G Tre Jackson
Florida State 
G Arie Kouandjio
G Shaquille Mason
Georgia Tech 
G Ben Beckwith
Mississippi State 
G A.J. Cann
South Carolina 
G Laken Tomlinson
T Daryl Williams
T/C Cameron Erving
Florida State 
T Brandon Scherff
T Rob Havenstein
T Jake Fisher
T Andrus Peat
T Spencer Drango
T La'el Collins
T Laremy Tunsil
Ole Miss 
T Jack Conklin
Michigan State 
First-Team DefenseSecond-Team DefenseThird-Team
Fourth-Team Defense
DE Joey Bosa
Ohio State 
DE Shane Ray
DE Markus Golden
DE Mario
Edwards Jr.

Florida State 
DE Nate Orchard
DE Leonard Williams

DE Henry Anderson

DE Shilique Calhoun
Michigan State 
DT Malcom Brown
DE Vic Beasley
DT Eddie Goldman
Florida State 
DT Anthony Zettel
Penn State 
DT Danny Shelton
DT Michael Bennett
Ohio State 
DT Grady Jarrett
DT Robert Nkemdiche
Ole Miss 
LB Scooby Wright
LB Paul Dawson
LB Benardrick McKinney
Mississippi State 
LB Zach Vigil
Utah State 
LB Hau'oli Kikaha
LB Denzel Perryman
LB Mike Hull
Penn State 
LB Jake Ryan
LB Eric Kendricks
LB Shaq Thompson
LB Jaylon Smith
Notre Dame 
LB Eric Striker
CB Ifo Ekpre-Olomu
CB Trae Waynes
Michigan State 
CB Kendall Fuller
Virginia Tech 
CB William Likely
CB Senquez Golson
Ole Miss 
CB Vernon
Hargreaves III

CB Zack Sanchez
CB Doran Grant
Ohio State 
S Landon Collins
S Jalen Ramsey
Florida State 
S Kurtis Drummond
Michigan State 
S Chris Hackett
S Gerod Holliman
S Cody Prewitt
Ole Miss 
S Su'a Cravens
S Darian Thompson
Boise State  
K Roberto Aguayo
Florida State 
K Brad Craddock
K Andy Phillips
K Josh Lambert
West Virginia 
P Tom Hackett
P JK Scott

P Austin Rehkow

P Peter Mortell
KR J.J. Nelson
KR Alex Ross
KR Marcus Murphy
KR Ty Montgomery
PR Tyler Lockett
Kansas State 
PR Kaelin Clay
PR De'Mornay Pierson-El
PR Quan Bray


College Football's 2014 Postseason All-America Team
Post date: Friday, December 12, 2014 - 10:00
Path: /college-football/six-team-college-football-playoff-perfect-solution

Four isn’t enough and eight is way too much.


There is a perfect number of college football playoff teams and it falls right between the two. The NFL uses a six-team bracket for each conference (for now) to determine the most important sporting event in the world each year for a reason.


Because six is the perfect number. It solves every problem imaginable. Well, almost.


First, a six-team playoff gets all five Power 5 conference champions into the playoff — an issue most are complaining about already — if all five are deserving. Second, it gets roughly 10 percent of the Power 5 teams into the postseason. Third, it allows for a possibility that a Group of 5 champion could sneak into the sixth spot. Fourth, unlike an eight-team playoff, no three-loss teams will ever be in the postseason mix, maintaining a certain level of exclusivity for the prestigious national championship.


But how would a six-team playoff work? What would the rules and regulations be? And what would the bracket have looked like had it been in place this season (Hint: It would have been awesome).


First-round byes

One of the best aspects of a six-team playoff is a first-round bye for each of the top two teams. Like in the NFL where the best two teams in each conference get an extra week of rest, so too, will the top two teams in the nation. It rewards four quality teams while also giving a big edge to the two most deserving teams in the nation — who would have earned the right to rest. Additionally, it shortens the season by one game as compared to the eight-team bracket for those concerned about student-athletes playing too many times.


Use home sites

One of the biggest issues many have with the four-team playoff was the usage of bowl games as semifinals. Despite what Bill Hancock wants you to believe, it’s not ever been about protecting the sanctity of the bowl system. No, it’s cronyism at its finest. There are 36 other bowl games that provide 72 other teams a season-ending celebratory trip. The bowl system is just fine and doesn’t need any more additional revenue. Instead, let’s allow college football to showcase what makes college football so uniquely great: Electric atmospheres on picturesque campuses and stadiums. And asking teams to travel to three consecutive neutral-site games like an eight-team playoff would require is just stupid. In the six-team structure, both first (quarterfinals) and second-round games (semis) would be played at home sites with the top seeds hosting each game.


Rotate the final

Just like the Super Bowl, the national championship game should be rotated every year throughout every region of the country. This is the NATIONAL championship not the regional or southern championship. I love New Orleans and Tempe as much as the next fan, but Indianapolis, Detroit and New York have proven that title games can be held successfully in the Midwest and Northeast as well. Like the Super Bowl, the majority of the games would be held in warm-weather locations but it doesn’t mean the sport should ignore the Pacific Northwest, Midwest or Northeast in the process. Lucas Oil Stadium and Indianapolis got rave reviews for the Super Bowl it hosted and would be an excellent fit for the college championship.


Shorten down time

One of the biggest issues that the four-team bracket hasn’t fixed is the inordinate amount of down time between the end of the regular season and the start of the playoffs. It has improved on the amount of down time that the BCS provided by a little more than a week. But the first two games of the three-round playoff could be held annually on Christmas Eve, for example, beginning a new college football tradition. The second round would still be held on New Year’s Day and the final played a week later.


Re-seed the second round

Obviously, the initial seeding process would determine matchups between No. 3 and No. 6 as well as No. 4 and No. 5. Should the six-seed upset the three-seed, then the second round would be re-seeded. This guarantees that the No. 1 seed will always face the lowest-seeded team in the second round.


A six-team playoff doesn’t solve every issue for college football. No system can be perfect. It doesn’t matter how big or small the postseason is, someone will always be upset about missing out. The ninth-ranked team in the eight-team playoff would be just as upset as Baylor and TCU this year. The same could be said about the seventh-ranked team in a six-team format.


That being said, a six-team format would have been perfect for 2014.


No. 6 TCU at No. 3 Florida State

How awesome would this be in Doak Campbell Stadium? The unbeaten, undisputed defending champion with Jameis Winston under center against Gary Patterson’s reinvented offense? Yes, please. If the Seminoles win, they’d face No. 2 Oregon in Eugene while a  TCU victory would have sent the Horned Frogs to Tuscaloosa to play No. 1 Alabama.


No. 5 Baylor at No. 4 Ohio State

Does anybody in Waco want the opportunity to prove that the Bears are better than the Buckeyes? Baylor fans would travel to any city in the world to play Ohio State if it meant a chance to prove the Bears belonged in the playoff. But The Horseshoe is as good a location as college football has to offer for the postseason and I promise BU would relish the opportunity. Where the winner of this game goes would depend on who wins the other matchup.



Meanwhile, No. 1 Alabama and No. 2 Oregon get a first-round bye and sit at home for an extra week. Then Bryant-Denny Stadium and Autzen Stadium would host national semifinals before the final two teams meet on a neutral field.


All in favor?

A six-team college football playoff is the perfect solution
Post date: Friday, December 12, 2014 - 09:00
Path: /college-basketball/north-carolina-tar-heels-kentucky-wildcats-preview-and-predictions

In an alternate reality, North Carolina fans had to enjoy a team in pale blue making a run at Kentucky in Rupp Arena.


Alas, that game was three days too early, and the school was Columbia rather than the Tar Heels.


Columbia jumped to an early 11-0 lead on Kentucky on Wednesday, and though the Wildcats defeated the Ivy Leaguers 56-46, the game was a clear wake-up call for Kentucky. The Wildcats are a near-unanimous No. 1 team whose defensive play may be the best in recent history.


Yet Columbia reminded John Calipari that he has a team full of 18-22-year-olds who may be concerned with their December plans rather than the game at hand.


Unfortunately for North Carolina, that kind of game occurred Wednesday instead of Saturday.


The Tar Heels have been uneven this season and could use a strong performance against Kentucky to bolster their case heading into the ACC season. North Carolina has already lost 60-55 at home to Iowa and 74-66 on a neutral floor to Butler, two losses that a Tar Heels team with Final Four aspirations shouldn’t be taking.


After this game, neither team will have much of an opportunity for rest. Kentucky faces UCLA and North Carolina faces Ohio State in Chicago on Dec. 20 in the CBS Sports Classic before the Wildcats return from the holiday to visit Louisville on Dec. 27.


North Carolina at Kentucky


Site: Rupp Arena, Lexington, Ky.

Time: Saturday, noon



What’s on the line for Kentucky


Another big game, another chance for Kentucky to prove its case as the clear national championship favorites. Slow starts against teams like Buffalo and Columbia notwithstanding, Kentucky has been outstanding on the national stage. The Wildcats have defeated their three major-conference opponents (Kansas, Providence and Texas) by a combined margin of 64 points.


What’s on the line for North Carolina


Texas walked away from a 63-51 loss on Dec. 5 feeling OK about its performance at Kentucky, especially with a backup point guard. North Carolina fans may be tougher to assuage, but the Tar Heels can’t look at this game as pass/fail based on the scoreboard. An upset would be great, but if North Carolina can find a way to challenge Kentucky consistently into the second half, that should count as a good sign for the Heels.


You’ll tune in to watch: Another dominant defensive effort from Kentucky


Kentucky is holding teams to 30.7 percent shooting from 2-point range. To put that in perspective, that figure would rank 90th in the country — in 3-point defense. The Wildcats, by the way, already rank 14th in that category, holding teams to 25.4 percent shooting from long range. The Wildcats are outstanding at every defensive position. Brice Johnson and Kennedy Meeks are good bigs, but North Carolina may be in trouble.


Pivotal player: Kentucky’s Andrew Harrison


If we’re going to pick on Kentucky, the 3-point line would be a good place to start. Kentucky is 6-of-42 from 3-point range in the last three games. Andrew Harrison, specifically, has struggled, going 0-for-5 from long range against Columbia in the last game. Just as troubling, Harrison also went 1-of-7 from 2-point range in that game. Calipari said Harrison was seeking foul calls that never came. How will Harrison adjust, both from long range and in getting to the rim?


Biggest question: Can Marcus Paige make enough shots to challenge Kentucky?


With Kentucky’s size, maybe opponents have to start thinking like a mid-major and light the Wildcats up from 3-point range. That’s what Columbia did for a time, starting 4-of-6 from beyond the arc. Paige is North Carolina’s only major threat from long range, but he’ll have to do better than 34 percent from beyond the arc for North Carolina to have a shot at Kentucky. Paige is 4-of-19 from 3-point range in his last three games.




David Fox: Kentucky 71-58

Braden Gall: Kentucky 81-65

Mitch Light: Kentucky 77-60

Nathan Rush: Kentucky 64-60

North Carolina Tar Heels at Kentucky Wildcats: Preview and Predictions
Post date: Friday, December 12, 2014 - 07:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football, News
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-biggest-disappointments-2014

College football award season can be fun.

This is a time for appreciating the game — conference players of the year, coaches of the year, the Heisman, Doak Walker, Biletnikoff, Outland and so on.

For every team and player enjoying a banner year, there’s another who will be going home or a bowl game disappointed.

Not all of our disappointments are equal. Some let us down because these teams could have and should have achieved more. Some simply denied us to see a college football season at its best.

The Big 12 in 2014, indeed, turned out to be a two-team race. Just one of them turned out not to be Oklahoma. Athlon tabbed the Sooners at No. 4 in the preseason top 25, and OU went on to have its worst season since Bob Stoops’ first year in 1999. The 5-4 record included no wins against the league’s top three teams (Baylor, TCU and Kansas State) and a loss to Oklahoma State in which the Sooners led until the final five minutes. Aside from a win over Texas and Samaje Perine’s single-game rushing record, this was a forgettable season for the Sooners. Kudos to everyone who warned of overrating OU due to rout of Alabama in the Sugar Bowl last season.

Virginia Tech
The Hokies had about a week to feel good about the season. With an active pass rush and tough quarterback play, Virginia Tech had the look of an ACC contender with a 14-point win at Ohio State. Then the losses started to pile up — first to East Carolina at home, then Georgia Tech at home. Virginia Tech kept its 22-year bowl streak intact but needed a touchdown drive in the final two minutes against Virginia to do it (because it lost 6-3 in overtime to Wake Forest a week earlier). With a 12-12 record in the ACC the last three seasons, Frank Beamer is in for a long offseason.

Notre Dame
The Irish emerged from an offseason academic scandal to start 6-0 with wins against Michigan and Stanford that seemed more impressive at the time than they did at the end of the season. Everett Golson began the season as a Heisman contender but ended the year as a turnover-prone liability. The Irish ended the season on a four-game losing streak and a 49-14 loss to USC.

South Carolina
The Gamecocks’ season was a debacle from the start. South Carolina lost 52-28 at home to Texas A&M to start the season, and the defensive never recovered. At 6-6, South Carolina finished the regular season with more losses than any other preseason top 10 team. What’s even more startling is that the season could have been worse: South Carolina needed a late blocked punt to beat Florida in overtime and played sloppy enough against Vanderbilt to give us the press conference of the year. Oh, and the Gamecocks lost to Clemson.

Where has Andrew Luck gone? Or at least Stepfan Taylor. The Cardinal sat out the Pac-12 North this season, falling out of the race by Nov. 1. Stanford had one of the nation’s best defenses, but its offense didn’t find an identity until the final two games of the season against Cal and UCLA. Stanford finished 7-5 for its worst regular season mark since the second year under Jim Harbaugh in 2008.

Other teams fired coaches. Other teams might have had worse seasons, but programs like Michigan have no excuse to miss bowl games, never mind missing three bowl games in seven years. Besides losing to rivals Notre Dame, Michigan State and Ohio State, the Wolverines found room for one of their worst three-game losing streaks in school history (Utah, Minnesota and Rutgers). If the losing wasn’t enough, Michigan took heat for mishandling the concussion to backup quarterback Shane Morris and saw one of its team leaders, Frank Clark, arrested for domestic violence.

Group of 5 teams in crunch time
Nothing against Boise State in the Fiesta Bowl, but the Broncos had the path cleared for them throughout the course of the season. East Carolina looked like it had wrapped up a major bowl bid by the end of September thanks to wins over Virginia Tech and North Carolina. Instead, East Carolina finished the season with three losses in AAC play. Marshall lost its bid to an undefeated season in a wild 67-66 overtime defeat to Western Kentucky on Nov. 28.

Bowl absences
Try telling Georgia Southern and UAB there are too many bowl games. These two programs would love to play in any pre-Christmas bowl game, no matter the destination. Georgia Southern of the Sun Belt was one of three teams to go undefeated in its conference — the other two are in the College Football Playoff — but because the Eagles are transitioning from FCS, they are ineligible for a bowl. And after UAB announced it would shut down the football program, the Blazers became untouchable to bowl organizers despite being bowl eligible for the second time in school history.

Injuries to Chuckie Keeton and Taysom Hill
At the start of the season, the state of Utah had some of the best star power at quarterback of any state. BYU’s Taysom Hill was en route to a career year when he sustained a broken leg on Oct. 3 against Utah State. The Cougars were 4-0 before his injury and 4-4 after. Utah State’s Chuckie Keeton returned from a torn ACL but re-injured the knee in the third game of the season against Wake Forest. The Aggies still won nine games, but the game missed two of its more dynamic quarterbacks for most of the season.

June Jones quitting in September
SMU would have been awful with Jones for a full season, but his departure after losses to Baylor and North Texas by a combined score of 88-3 didn’t help the Mustangs this season. SMU was one of the least competitive teams in college football this season, scoring more than 10 points just once before November.

College Football's Biggest Disappointments in 2014
Post date: Friday, December 12, 2014 - 07:00
All taxonomy terms: College Basketball, News
Path: /college-basketball/10-teams-flopped-first-month-college-basketball-season

Nebraska is new to being a team people watch during the college basketball season, so let us offer a word of advice:

Don’t lose at home to teams no one knew was a part of Division I basketball.

The Cornhuskers, a surprise NCAA Tournament team last season, lost 74-73 on Wednesday to Incarnate Word, a Catholic institution in San Antonio that just joined Division I this season.

That game itself was a shock, but combine it with Nebraska’s earlier losses, and the season is an all-out flop.

If anything, that loss takes some of the heat off Michigan, a team that’s also become used to high-level basketball before losing to NJIT and Eastern Michigan in back-to-back games.

Michigan’s puzzling start
What is going on with Michigan? The Wolverines defeated Oregon and Syracuse and played a thriller with Villanova. Yet they’ve also picked up two bad losses, and by bad we mean bad. Thanks to Michigan, NJIT has more wins on Big Ten courts (one) than conference affiliations. After that, the Wolverines scored 42 points in a second consecutive home loss to Eastern Michigan. The Wolverines have no inside presence, which hasn’t always been a problem for John Beilein-coached teams, but they’re being exposed by it now.

The Gators lost a slew of veterans from a team that reached the Final Four last season and three Elite Eights before that. Even though there was bound to be a void, the Gators appeared to have enough pieces and emerging sophomores returning to make a run. The road has been bumpy so far as the Gators have already lost four games, one more than they lost all of last season. Billy Donovan took an incomplete roster to the competitive Battle 4 Atlantis and few teams win at Kansas, where the Gators blew an early lead. The Gators will need continued improvement from point guard Kasey Hill if they’re going to challenge for No. 2 in the SEC.

Kelly Oubre
A five-star, NBA Draft prospect simply not playing as a freshman in college basketball is indeed a rarity. Oubre may get into the rotation in Big 12 play and may still be a fine player and prospect, but for now, he’s having trouble cracking the rotation. Oubre is averaging 8.3 minutes per game and isn’t doing a ton to justify more playing time.

Memphis’ guards
The Tigers knew they’d enter the season weak at the guard position, but the situation is worse than anticipated. Vanderbilt transfer Kedren Johnson is out of shape and not ready to run a team after a yearlong layoff. Avery Woodson, Markel Crawford, Pookie Powell and Johnson have combined for 27 assists to 43 turnovers. That ineffectiveness has led to losses to Wichita State, Baylor and Stephen F. Austin.

The idea of teams winning the national championship one year and going to the NIT the next is not uncommon, and UConn seems to be sliding that way. The Huskies have lost three in a row to West Virginia, Texas without Isaiah Taylor and finally Yale at home. The Huskies are still learning to play without Shabazz Napier, and guard Ryan Boatright and NC State transfer Rodney Purvis have been injured. But these games early carry extra weight as the American schedule will due UConn no favors.

The upstart Mustangs lost three of their first five, but there are plenty of opportunities to turn this around. Defeating UC Santa Barbara, a solid mid-major, is a good start, and Michigan will be vulnerable on Dec. 20. The Mustangs have played the entire season without point guard Emmanuel Mudiay and won’t have veteran big man Markus Kennedy back until the second semester.

Syracuse’s offense
The backcourt losses over the years have taken their toll on Syracuse, which continued its offensive struggles from the end of last season into 2014-15. The Orange are shooting 21 percent from 3-point range, the fourth-worst average in the country. After starting 25-0 a year ago, Syracuse has lost to Cal, Michigan and St. John’s.

Nebraska was on this list before losing to Incarnate Word on Wednesday. That’s how the standards have changed at Nebraska. There was a time when the Cornhuskers losing to a solid Atlantic 10 team on the road (Rhode Island) or even Creighton at home wouldn’t have been a big deal. Tim Miles has elevated the program to a point where those are signs for concern. Miles essentially has a two-man team between Terran Petteway and Shavon Shields. That’s not going to be enough in the Big Ten.

Even if it was with a bizarre finish, LSU’s win over West Virginia in Morgantown was a good sign for the Tigers. Still, LSU has too much talent and experience to be losing to teams like Old Dominion and Clemson. Those will hurt if LSU can’t get its act together in the SEC schedule.

Kansas State
The Wildcats were a solid, if unspectacular, NCAA Tournament team last season. With some of their best player sophomores this season, K-State was a fringe top 25 team. That’s long gone now. Kansas State has already dropped games to Long Beach State, Pittsburgh and Tennessee (and Arizona, but that was expected). The Wildcats have been surprisingly bad on the defensive end this season.

10 Teams that Flopped in the First Month of the College Basketball Season
Post date: Friday, December 12, 2014 - 07:00
All taxonomy terms: Golden State Warriors, NBA
Path: /nba/steve-kerr-best-start-nba-coaching-history

Phil Jackson, Gregg Popovich, Red Auerbach, Pat Riley — these are the four horsemen of NBA leadership. Among them, they own more than half of the league’s championships.


But rookie coach Steve Kerr (who happens to have played for two of those men, in Jackson and Popovich) has all of them beat in one category so far. With his Golden State Warriors’ 19-2 start, he’s off to the best beginning in NBA coaching history.


The Warriors notched the latest inch of their scintillating record belt last night, with a 105-93 home victory over the second-best team in basketball, the Houston Rockets. James Harden tried to will Houston to victory almost single-handedly against the deep Warriors roster in Oakland — racking up 34 points on 14-of-27 shooting, to go with eight rebounds, four assists and four steals — but GSW was simply too much.


Steph Curry and Harrison Barnes both had 20 points in the Warriors’ win — Klay Thompson had 21. The team has now won fourteen straight.


By beating Houston, Kerr’s squad passed phase one of a tough new stretch in their schedule. Up next are the Dallas Mavericks. Then, Anthony Davis and the New Orleans Pelicans, the Memphis Grizzlies, and the rejuvenated Oklahoma City Thunder, who’ll be extra motivated with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook back in action and a bad standings hole to climb out of.


In the Western Conference, gauntlets like this are a dime a dozen. That’s what makes it hard to believe the Warriors can keep up this pace, even if they are the best team in basketball. The competition is simply too stiff.


But if the charmed Kerr’s lifelong streak of success is any indication, the Warriors might just be able to run through the best conference ever with a shining mark. Kerr’s a golden boy; every basketball thing he touches seems to improve. He’s thrived as an NBA role player, a TNT announcer next to the iconic Marv Albert, and now — albeit very early on — he’s unimpeachable as a head coach. 


— John Wilmes


Post date: Thursday, December 11, 2014 - 15:55
All taxonomy terms: College Football, News
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-2014-15-bowl-predictions-and-picks

College football’s bowl season kicks off on Saturday, Dec. 20 and extends until Jan. 12 with the national championship in Arlington, Texas in the first year of the four-team playoff. With the bowl lineup set and confidence pools and pick’em contests set to start on Dec. 20, Athlon’s editors give their predictions for the bowl season.


Alabama is the consensus playoff champion, but there’s some disagreement on the Oregon-Florida State matchup. And there’s no shortage of variance on some of the smaller bowls, including the Liberty, Russell Athletic, Alamo and Hawaii.


Note: Number in parentheses indicates confidence in prediction. A No. 38 ranking indicates more confidence in the prediction, while a lower number indicates less confidence in a pick.


College Football's 2014-15 Bowl Predictions
New Orleans (14) (17) (2) (23) (20)
New Mexico (29) (8) (36) (34) (22)
Las Vegas (24) (29) (22) (13) (24)
Idaho Potato (19) (7) (6) (6) (37)
Camellia (2) (28) (3) (30) (17)
Miami Beach (9) (5) (5) (19) (18)
Boca Raton (25) (6) (37) (16) (35)
Poinsettia (7) (27) (15) (7) (36)
Bahamas (21) (3) (4) (20) (38)
Hawaii (1)(4) (1) (14) (34)
Heart of Dallas (3) (2) (21) (15) (6)
Quick Lane (13) (16) (14) (10) (14)
St. Petersburg (15) (1) (13) (11) (31)
Military(17)(26) (12) (12) (27)
Sun (33)(35) (33) (32) (23)
Independence (23) (15) (7) (1) (7)
Pinstripe (20) (14) (23) (17) (10)
Holiday(34) (25) (34) (33) (5)
Liberty (5) (13) (8) (21) (13)
Russell Athletic (12) (11) (19) (22) (8)
Texas (18) (12) (19) (2) (4)
Music City (38) (36) (38) (31) (32)
Belk (28) (30) (20) (38) (3)
Foster Farms (31)(23) (35) (24) (21)
Outback  (37) (24) (32) (37) (12)
Citrus (30) (31) (25) (25) (1)
Armed Forces (26) (10) (11) (3) (33)
Taxslayer (4) (9) (24) (18) (16)
Alamo (6) (32) (10) (26) (19)
Cactus (32) (22) (29) (35) (2)
Birmingham (16) (21) (31) (8) (26)
GoDaddy (22) (20) (28) (9) (9)
Chick-fil-A (11) (33) (16) (4) (25)
Fiesta (27) (34) (26) (36) (11)
Orange (36) (19) (27) (28) (30)
Cotton (10) (38) (9) (27) (15)
Rose (8) (18) (20) (5) (28)
Sugar (35) (37) (17) (29) (29)


College Football's 2014-15 Bowl Picks and Predictions
Post date: Thursday, December 11, 2014 - 13:00
All taxonomy terms: Essential 11, Overtime
Path: /overtime/athlons-essential-11-links-day-december-11-2014

This is your daily links roundup of our favorite sports and entertainment posts on the web for Dec. 11:


Broadcaster Chelsa Messinger learned recently that Chris Berman has a Costanza-sized wallet. Also, Chelsa Messinger is rather attractive. 


• The time is nigh for year-end lists. Here are the funniest athlete tweets of 2014


A question for the ages.


Cam Newton's brush with death has given him a new appreciation for life


An Iowa State hoops star was popped for hosting a marijuana house.


Looks like Willis McGahee wants to try rugby


Jim Kelly's nephew committed to the Ole Miss Rebels, can't spell Rebel


The Astros sent out an overly optimistic tweet.


Alley-oop buzzer-beaters are always fun


• An early Christmas present from SI: A Kate Upton video


Giants punter Steve Weatherford has himself frozen to -30 degrees.


• Is this the worst airball in NBA history?


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

Post date: Thursday, December 11, 2014 - 11:29
All taxonomy terms: College Football, News
Path: /college-football/college-football-playoff-national-championship-rings-unveiled

It’s the first year of the college football playoff, so there’s plenty of new surrounding the format, including a championship trophy and rings to the winning team.

Earlier this week, the college football championship playoff ring was unveiled. And the ring certainly isn’t missing in the wow factor department.

Check out the new rings coming to the champion of the college football playoff:



College Football Playoff National Championship Rings Unveiled
Post date: Thursday, December 11, 2014 - 10:44
Path: /nfl/nfl-also-rans-are-looking-ahead
For many, the 2014 season is over — or almost over, at least. Whatever playoff hopes some teams harbored have long disappeared in the mist of yet another disappointing season. Some teams underachieved. Some are just bad. For some, it’s just the way it always is.
For some of those teams, though, the seeds have been planted for a somewhat brighter future, and the thought that they could make a playoff run in 2015 doesn’t seem so absurd. There’s a long way to go, of course — free agency and the draft will do the most to shape the futures of most franchises.
But for these 2014 also-rans, there are at least the building blocks of a brighter tomorrow. For these 2014 losers, they have the best chance to emerge in 2015:
St. Louis Rams (6-7) – Granted, their last two games were against the Raiders and Redskins, but the Rams won those games by a combined 76-0, and two straight shutouts against any team is impressive. This Rams team can play defense and special teams with anybody, and to go along with wins over the 49ers, Broncos and Seahawks they’ve had near-misses against Dallas, Philadelphia and San Diego. And consider this: They’re doing it all without a quarterback, unless you think Austin Davis or 34-year-old Shaun Hill is really the future. What could’ve been a wonderful, breakout season was hampered by yet another injury to franchise quarterback Sam Bradford. If they can find even a temporary, fill-in journeyman quarterback to give stability to the position next season, they could compete in what has become the toughest division in the NFL.
New York Giants (4-9) – They’ve had 20 players land on injured reserve, including their best receiver (Victor Cruz), their middle linebacker (Jon Beason), two defensive ends (Mathias Kiwanuka, Robert Ayers), and a long list of other key players. But they have the best quarterback among the NFL’s current crop of losing teams (Eli Manning) and a generally good cast of players augmented by a $116 million offseason spending spree. There could be some offseason upheaval if coach Tom Coughlin is fired. But the building blocks are there, especially if they fix their offensive line and find a pass rush.
Chicago Bears (5-8) – Maybe it is all about quarterback Jay Cutler, as many have suggested, but even with a flawed quarterback this team should be better than it is. There may not be a team with a better, more diverse troika of offensive weapons than receivers Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffrey and running back Matt Forte. Add in tight end Martellus Bennett and there’s plenty of ammunition for a quarterback to succeed. They obviously need to fix their defense, which is one of the worst in the NFL. They also need to be a little more committed to the run game. Maybe Marc Trestman gets the chance to fix that. If not, the ground is fertile for somebody else.
Minnesota Vikings (5-7) – The most important ingredient in any team’s success is the presence of a franchise quarterback, and it seems like the Vikings may have found one now that they’ve ended the Christian Ponder era/error and moved on to Teddy Bridgewater. He’s been OK as a starter in general, but pretty good considering he’s a rookie and not exactly surrounded by potent weapons. Now, who knows if they get back running back Adrian Peterson next season. But if they do, paired with a Top 15 defense and an emerging quarterback, they have a chance to rise in a very competitive division.
Jacksonville Jaguars (2-11) – Don’t laugh. While they rank near the bottom in just about everything, they play hard for Gus Bradley and they have a trio of very impressive young talents in quarterback Blake Bortles, running back Denard Robinson and receiver Allen Robinson. They do need a lot of help – like some boost to their pass rush and better luck with injuries. But the potential is there. Most scouts seem to think they’re more likely to arrive on the playoff scene in 2016. But they’re not exactly in a good division, and the Tennessee Titans seem much worse-off than they are. With a little luck and some accelerated growth from Bortles, they could arrive on the scene sooner than anyone thinks.
— Ralph Vacchiano
Post date: Thursday, December 11, 2014 - 10:39
All taxonomy terms: Carmelo Anthony, New York Knicks, NBA
Path: /nba/knicks-hate-triangle-offense-are-comical-mess

Being a New York Knicks fan typically requires a great tolerance for failure, and a deep, reliable sense of humor. Sincere hope for winning basketball is only going to hurt you in this arena.


That continues to be the case in the early stages of new team president Phil Jackson. Despite his tremendous record as a coach with the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers (eleven championships), he hasn’t had a touch magical enough to turn the Knicks around just yet. In fact, they may be digging even deeper into the depths of failure.


The latest Knicks folly comes in a report from ESPN’s Chris Broussard. According to Broussard, Carmelo Anthony and Tim Hardaway, Jr. are at odds and have nearly come to blows on more than one occasion. One instance happened on the court, when the Knicks were losing to the Brooklyn Nets last week.


“Anthony approached Hardaway,” writes Broussard, “and used an expletive to ask Hardaway who in the world he thought he was talking to. Anthony, according to sources, used another expletive in telling Hardaway he was going to beat him up when they got into the locker room after the game.”


Melo has subsequently downplayed that drama, for whatever that's worth:


Broussard also reports that the team is not fond of Jackson’s storied triangle offense: “One thing Anthony and his teammates do agree on is their disdain for the triangle offense, sources said. For weeks, if not longer, the players have been ready to ditch the triangle and move on to another system. They feel like other teams know what they are going to run and where they are going to go on the court, which makes it easier to stop them.”


This report comes on the heels of Jackson saying New York has a “loser’s mentality” and that the team is more “worried about not losing a basketball game, rather than figuring it out, and figuring out how to win basketball games.”


Nobody thought a Knicks makeover would be easy. But did we think it would get this ugly, this early into Jackson’s tenure? New York never sleeps, and neither does the presence around their media teams, so all kerfuffles around the Knicks are at least a little bit overblown. But the more the Knicks lose and look pitiful doing it, the easier this sort of strife is to believe.


— John Wilmes


Post date: Thursday, December 11, 2014 - 10:17
All taxonomy terms: Arizona Cardinals, NFC, St. Louis Rams, NFL, News
Path: /nfl/arizona-cardinals-vs-st-louis-rams-preview-and-prediction-2014

The surging St. Louis Rams (7-6) welcome an Arizona Cardinals (10-3) team that shook off two straight tough losses to post a key win over Kansas City in Week 14. Basically, both of these long-suffering franchises are merely happy to be playing meaningful football in December. “For some teams, (playing in December) doesn’t mean a damn thing except the season’s almost over,” Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said. “This one means a lot because everything rides from here on in, so every game is a real playoff game, especially in the NFC.”


Dallas Cowboys at Chicago Bears


Kickoff: 8:25 p.m. ET

TV Channel: NFL Network

Spread: St. Louis -4.5


Arizona’s Key to Victory: Ask Kerwynn Williams

Who is Kerwynn Williams, you ask? The second-year back from Utah State was an oasis in an offensive desert for the Cards in a desperately needed Week 14 win over Kansas City. Williams, who had never touched the ball in a regular-season game prior to last Sunday, came off of the bench to replace an injured Andre Ellington and churned out 100 yards on 19 carries against Kansas City. Quarterback Drew Stanton is struggling — he’s thrown five interceptions in the four games since Carson Palmer’s injury — and the Cards will need the threat of a running game to take some pressure off of Stanton and open things up for receivers Michael Floyd and Larry Fitzgerald, who have combined for only two touchdown receptions since the calendar turned to November.



St. Louis’ Key to Victory: Continue the Clampdown

The Rams are the first team since 2009 to post back-to-back shutouts, a truly impressive feat in an offensive era. Yes, the victims were the lowly Raiders and Redskins, but a shutout’s a shutout, and if you go back a few weeks, the Rams surrendered only seven points to Peyton Manning and the reigning AFC champion Denver Broncos. A sputtering Cardinals offense presents the opportunity for something truly historic: three consecutive shutouts for the first time since the 1976 Steelers. Interestingly enough, the Cardinals’ offensive troubles began when quarterback Carson Palmer tore his ACL against the Rams in Week 10. Since then, the Cardinals have managed only four offensive touchdowns in four games, and leading rusher Andre Ellington has joined Palmer on the shelf due to injury. Jeff Fisher is confident that his team can maintain its recent defensive dominance. “I want to see it again,” Fisher said. “We need to keep playing, keep preparing the way we are.”


Final Analysis



The injury-depleted Cardinals are clinging to a one-game lead in the NFC West, and a tussle with a Rams team that is at the top of its game defensively is a tough matchup for a team that is searching for its offensive identity. The Rams may not match the Steel Curtain with a third straight shutout, but they should be able to outscore the Cards.  

Prediction: St. Louis 23, Arizona 17
Arizona Cardinals vs. St. Louis Rams Preview and Prediction
Post date: Thursday, December 11, 2014 - 10:00
Path: /college-football/10-amazing-heisman-trophy-stats-you-need-know-2014

Marcus Mariota is going to win the 2014 Heisman Memorial Trophy.


And there couldn’t be a more deserving candidate.


The Oregon quarterback won the Pac-12 North, won the Pac-12 championship, earned a spot in the first College Football Playoff and set numerous records. He is the nation’s most efficient passer (186.33) and is the nation’s most productive player with 4,452 yards of total offense.


He is a consummate teammate on and off the field, so Saturday night is more a coronation than a highly anticipated announcement. The two numbers to keep an eye on are 2,853 total points and 86 percent of first-place votes.


Those are the two Heisman records set by O.J. Simpson in 1968 and Troy Smith in 2006, respectively. In fact, Simpson’s 1,750-point margin in ’68 is still a record and is a third benchmark Mariota could challenge this weekend.


Here are the other Heisman stats you need to know:


0: Oregon Heisman Trophy winners

Marcus Mariota isn’t just a remarkable player who could lead Oregon to its first national championship with record-setting numbers and astounding maturity. But he also will become Oregon’s first Heisman Trophy winner in school history. The Ducks have been close with LaMichael James (3rd, 2010), Dennis Dixon (7th, 2007) and Joey Harrington (4th, 2001) but have never won.


26: More INTs Ty Detmer threw than Marcus Mariota

BYU’s Ty Detmer posted huge numbers when winning the Heisman in 1990, throwing for 5,188 yards and 41 TDs. In fact, Detmer remains the only Heisman winner with 5,000 yards passing in a season. Strangely enough, he also has the most interceptions by a wide margin of any Heisman winner, throwing 28 interceptions in ’90. Jim Plunkett is No. 2 with 19 interceptions in 1979. Marcus Mariota threw two interceptions in 372 attempts this season. Danny Wuerffel’s 13 picks are the most by any winner since Detmer.


2003: Last time a WR finished in the top three

Amari Cooper is a Heisman finalist and will be the first wide receiver to finish in the top three since Larry Fitzgerald finished second in 2003 (Jason White). In fact, Cooper and Fitzgerald are the only two wide receivers to finish in the top three since Desmond Howard won the award in 1991. Howard is one of only two wideouts to ever win the award (Tim Brown, 1987). Since Howard won the Trophy only six WRs have even finished in the top five: Marqise Lee (4th) in 2012, Justin Blackmon (5th) in 2010, Michael Crabtree (5th) in 2008 and Randy Moss (4th) in 1997.


14: Winners who played QB in the last 15 years

Since the turn of the century, the Heisman Trophy has become a quarterback’s award. Since Ron Dayne won the coveted stiff-armed award in 1999, only one non-QB has won the trophy. Alabama’s Mark Ingram (2009) — largely considered the “weakest” of Heisman winners — is the only non-QB to win the award since Dayne. Mariota would become the 14th quarterback to win the award in the last 15 years.


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2: High schools to produce more than one Heisman winner

Woodrow Wilson High School in Dallas, Texas, is the first and only public high school to produce two Heisman winners. Davey O’Brien won the award in 1938 for TCU and Tim Brown claimed the trophy for Notre Dame in ’87. Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana, Calif., is the only other high school to have multiple winners. The private school gave college football John Huarte, who won the award in ’64 for Notre Dame, and Matt Leinart, who earned the honor in 2004 for USC. Fork Union Military prep academy also has produced multiple Heisman winners — Vinny Testaverde in 1986 for Miami and Eddie George in '95 for Ohio State — but it doesn't technically count since Testaverde only attended the postgrad program.


8: Heisman winners in the NFL Hall of Fame

There are eight former Heisman Trophy winners currently in the NFL Hall of Fame. Marcus Allen (1981), Earl Campbell (1977), Tony Dorsett (1976), Paul Hornung (1956), Barry Sanders (1988), O.J. Simpson (1968), Roger Staubach (1963), and Doak Walker (1948). Interestingly enough, only one Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback has ever made it to the NFL Hall of Fame and that is Staubach. Additionally, only four Heisman winners have gone on to win Super Bowl MVP honors: Staubach, Allen, Jim Plunkett and Desmond Howard.


2-8: Notre Dame’s record when Paul Hornung won the Heisman

The only player to ever win the Heisman off of a losing team was Paul Hornung in 1956. He threw for 917 yards, three touchdowns and 13 interceptions while rushing 94 times for 420 yards and six touchdowns on the ground. The Irish went 2-8 that year, beating only Indiana and North Carolina. Hornung beat out Tennessee’s Johnny Majors and Oklahoma’s dynamic duo of Tommy McDonald and Jerry Tubbs.


1961: Ernie Davis became the first African-American Heisman winner

It took 27 long years but the voters finally gave the award to an African-American in 1961 when Syracuse’s Ernie Davis topped Ohio State’s Bob Ferguson and Texas’ Jimmy Saxton for the prestigious award. Davis was deserving but his stat line indicates how far the sport has come since the early '60s. He rushed 150 times for 823 yards and 12 touchdowns.


0: Games Jay Berwanger played in the NFL

The first Heisman trophy winner in history was a senior running back from the University of Chicago by the name of Jay Berwanger. He was the first pick in the first-ever NFL Draft by the Philadelphia Eagles in 1936. Yet, they traded his rights to the Chicago Bears because they didn’t think they could meet his salary demands (allegedly $1,000 per game). After Olympic tryouts and unsuccessful contract negotiations with George Halas, Berwanger took a job with a Chicago rubber company and never played a down of professional football.


7: Ohio State, USC and Notre Dame winners

The Buckeyes, Trojans and Irish are tied for the most Heismans with seven total trophies each. Ohio State’s awards have been spread out over time, winning at least one in five different decades while USC’s come in bunches. Under Pete Carroll, the Trojans won three Heisman Trophies in four seasons from 2002-05 (Carson Palmer, Matt Leinart, Reggie Bush — yes, I officially count the ’05 trophy even if the Trust does not). The Irish held the Heisman lead for many years, winning six trophies between 1943-64. Tim Brown’s 1987 season is the only Irish Heisman since John Huarte won it in ’64.

10 Amazing Heisman Trophy Stats You Need To Know for 2014
Post date: Thursday, December 11, 2014 - 09:00
All taxonomy terms: College Basketball, News
Path: /college-basketball/10-teams-made-statement-first-month-college-basketball-season

Less than a full month into the college basketball season, and we’ve already had a handful of major statements.

Kentucky, Duke and Arizona are as good as advertised. Maybe better. Texas, Louisville and Wisconsin are doing exactly what they should be at this point in the year. Gonzaga is better than many expected. Same with Utah or Butler.

Of course, no one remembers a team for what it did in November or December in college basketball, but these games are important.

If nothing else, they set the tone for the season, establish favorites and put storylines in motion. For a handful of teams, these early games will come in handy for the selection committee. Win a big game in November and perhaps you don’t need to be perfect in February.


Here's what we think are the most important statements as we near the end of the first month of the season.

Kentucky’s platoons
John Calipari’s blue platoon (the starters) and white platoon (the best group of sixth men in the country) was met with skepticism to start the season, but Kentucky is sticking with it for good reason. Wednesday’s slow start against Columbia notwithstanding, the Wildcats are the best defensive team in the country. The Wildcats won’t keep up their pace in conference play even if the numbers remain staggering: Kentucky has the best adjusted defensive efficiency rating and defensive effective field goal rate going back to 2002 on

Duke’s freshmen
This is scary: A group that went into Madison and defeated a veteran Wisconsin team 80-70 is only going to get better. If a freshman-led team can shoot 65 percent at the Kohl Center in only their eighth game, what will these rookies be able to do in March? Jahlil Okafor, Justise Winslow and Tyus Jones have all taken their turn as the stars for Duke this season while veterans Quinn Cook and Rasheed Sulaimon have settled into their roles.

Gonzaga as a national player
The Bulldogs may have Mark Few’s best team or at least a team that ranks up with the 2013 team that finished the regular season ranked No. 1 in the country or the 2006 team led by Adam Morrison. Gonzaga lost 66-63 in overtime at Arizona in its biggest game of the year, but there’s no shame in losing to another Final Four contender on the road in a game that came down to free throws (or lack thereof at the end). Gonzaga is one of the most balanced offensive teams in the country with five players averaging double figures and a sixth averaging 8.5. points per game.

Arizona’s defense
Since we mentioned Gonzaga’s hot start, we should mention the team that just defeated the Bulldogs. Arizona, which won the Maui Invitational, clamped down on Gonzaga on the defensive end to erase a six-point deficit in the second half. Four Bulldogs players scored in double figures. But none scored more than 15 and the Zags averaged 0.94 points per possession. The most efficient defense from a year ago might be headed that way again.

Big East depth
Even if the pace of the league has cooled since November, this still looks like a respectable multi-bid league. Villanova is undefeated with wins over VCU, Michigan and Illinois. St. John’s defeated Syracuse for its first win in the Carrier Dome in more than 15 years. Despite an uncertain coaching situation, Butler has defeated North Carolina and Georgetown and has only one loss this season (to Oklahoma on a neutral floor). All hope isn’t lost for Creighton without Doug McDermott as the Bluejays have wins over Oklahoma and Nebraska, the latter on the road. Even DePaul is 6-1 with a win over Stanford.

Utah’s breakout moment
Utah lost seven Pac-12 games by seven points or less last season, including three in overtime. Larry Krystkowiak’s team has been poised for a breakout, and it finally happened late into the night on Dec. 3. Against a Wichita State team that has almost always won the close games in recent years, the Utes got the breaks to defeat the Shockers 69-68 in overtime. Utah could be the No. 2 team in the Pac-12.

Virginia’s defense
The Cavaliers haven’t picked up an eye-popping win. And with a style of play that ranks 330th or worse in possession length on both sides of the court, nothing Virginia does will be eye-popping. Instead, consider what the Cavaliers did in back-to-back true road games against solid Maryland and VCU teams. Virginia held the two teams to a combined 1.02 points per possession, 45 percent shooting from 2-point range and 31 percent from 3.

Jerian Grant’s return
Notre Dame is back in postseason contention with Jerian Grant back in the lineup after missing most of last season following an academic issue. Clearly, the Irish are a different team with their star guard. Grant is averaging 19 points per game during the 9-1 start. In Notre Dame’s best performance of the season, Grant was 9-of-17 with 27 points in an overtime win over Michigan State.


Northern Iowa
Wichita State hasn’t had a challenger in the Missouri Valley since Creighton left. Northern Iowa hasn’t been to the NCAA Tournament since reaching the Sweet 16 in 2010. Could both change this season? The Panthers have only two top-100 wins (Stephen F. Austin and Richmond) but Ben Jacobson’s team is 9-0. With a junior- and senior-laden team, Jacobson is ready for another run, but the true tests will come in the next two weeks against VCU and Iowa.
(Note: The initial posting of this piece Thursday morning included Iowa State’s Bryce Dejean-Jones in this spot. He was removed after news broke of his arrest Thursday.)

TCU’s turnaround
Ten teams remain undefeated, and one of them went winless in conference play last season. Gary Patterson isn’t the only coach engineering a major turnaround in Fort Worth. TCU is 9-0, meaning that the Horned Frogs’ next win will eclipse last year’s total (9-22). Trent Johnson’s team doesn’t have any great wins — Ole Miss and Mississippi State are the only wins over KenPom top 100 teams — but the Frogs have a chance to be 13-0 when they open Big 12 play at home against West Virginia in Jan. 3.

10 Teams That Made a Statement in the First Month of College Basketball Season
Post date: Thursday, December 11, 2014 - 07:00
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2014-quarterback-rankings-week-15

Andrew Luck is the leading fantasy scorer and he leads off Athlon Sports’ Fantasy Football Quarterback Rankings for Week 15, but it’s the signal-callers from the NFC South that have our attention. Matt Ryan tossed four touchdowns and posted a season-best 39.3 fantasy points on Monday night against Green Bay and could be in for another big game Sunday when Atlanta hosts Pittsburgh. As impressive as Ryan’s outing was, it wasn’t the top-scoring effort among QBs. That honor goes to Cam Newton, who accounted for four touchdowns (3 rush, 1 pass) in the Panthers’ 41-10 rout of the Saints. Newton would have been a top-10 option this week, but he sustained two fractures in his lower back in a car accident on Tuesday. Head coach Ron Rivera announced on Wednesday that Derek Anderson would start in Newton's place against Tampa Bay on Sunday. And speaking of the Saints, Drew Brees and company look to rebound Monday night in Chicago when they go up against the NFL’s most generous defense. New Orleans hasn’t been much better defensively, so this should be a nice matchup for Jay Cutler too.


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


2014 NFL Week 15 Fantasy Football Rankings — Quarterbacks


1Andrew LuckINDvs. HOU
2Peyton ManningDENat SD
3Aaron RodgersGBat BUF
4Drew BreesNOat CHI (Mon.)
5Tom BradyNEvs. MIA
6Matt RyanATLvs. PIT
7Ben RoethlisbergerPITat ATL
8Matthew StaffordDETvs. MIN
9Jay CutlerCHIvs. NO (Mon.)
10Russell WilsonSEAvs. SF
11Philip RiversSDvs. DEN
12Tony RomoDALat PHI
13Mark SanchezPHIvs. DAL
14Eli ManningNYGvs. WAS
15Joe FlaccoBALvs. JAC
16Ryan TannehillMIAat NE
17Andy DaltonCINat CLE
18Johnny ManzielCLEvs. CIN
19Kyle OrtonBUFvs. GB
20Ryan FitzpatrickHOUat IND
21Derek AndersonCARvs. TB
22Colin KaepernickSFat SEA
23Alex SmithKCvs. OAK
24Blake BortlesJACat BAL
25Derek CarrOAKat KC
26Jake LockerTENvs. NYJ

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

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


Need more fantasy help? Visit

Fantasy Football 2014 Quarterback Rankings: Week 15
Post date: Thursday, December 11, 2014 - 06:30
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2014-running-back-rankings-week-15

Le’Veon Bell is on a historic run right now, so it’s only fitting that he lead off Athlon Sports’ Fantasy Football Running Back Rankings for Week 15. Bell has gone over 200 yards from scrimmage in three straight games; something that hasn’t been done since Hall of Walter Payton accomplished the feat in 1977. During this stretch, Bell has rushed for 484 yards (6.1 ypc), caught 16 passes for 227 yards and scored five total touchdowns. His 44.5 fantasy points last week were not only the most by a RB, but the most by any player. Bell is now the leading fantasy scorer at his position, passing DeMarco Murray, and the good times may not be over just yet. Next up for Bell is a matchup with Atlanta. The Falcons are dead last in the NFL in total defense and also are giving up the most fantasy points to opposing RBs.


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


2014 NFL Week 15 Fantasy Football Rankings — Running Backs


1Le'Veon BellPITat ATL
2Arian FosterHOUat IND
3Jamaal CharlesKCvs. OAK
4Matt ForteCHIvs. NO (Mon.)
5DeMarco MurrayDALat PHI
6LeSean McCoyPHIvs. DAL
7C.J. AndersonDENat SD
8Justin ForsettBALvs. JAC
9Marshawn LynchSEAvs. SF
10Eddie LacyGBat BUF
11Joique BellDETvs. MIN
12Alfred MorrisWASat NYG
13Mark IngramNOat CHI (Mon.)
14Chris IvoryNYJat TEN
15Rashad JenningsNYGvs. WAS
16Latavius MurrayOAKat KC
17Isaiah CrowellCLEvs. CIN
18LeGarrette BlountNEvs. MIA
19Jeremy HillCINat CLE
20Daniel HerronINDvs. HOU
21Fred JacksonBUFvs. GB
22Ryan MathewsSDvs. DEN
23Jonathan StewartCARvs. TB
24Steven JacksonATLvs. PIT
25Lamar MillerMIAat NE
26Tre MasonSTLvs. ARI (Thurs.)
27Giovani BernardCINat CLE
28Terrance WestCLEvs. CIN
29Chris JohnsonNYJat TEN
30Andre WilliamsNYGvs. WAS
31Doug MartinTBat CAR
32Frank GoreSFat SEA
33Shane VereenNEvs. MIA
34Matt AsiataMINat DET
35Bishop SankeyTENvs. NYJ
36Toby GerhartJACat BAL
37Trent RichardsonINDvs. HOU
38Reggie BushDETvs. MIN
39Kerwynn WilliamsARIat STL (Thurs.)
40Darren SprolesPHIvs. DAL
41Pierre ThomasNOat CHI (Mon.)
42Stepfan TaylorARIat STL (Thurs.)
43Ben TateMINat DET
44Charles SimsTBat CAR
45James StarksGBat BUF
46Juwan ThompsonDENat SD
47Alfred BlueHOUat IND
48Bernard PierceBALvs. JAC

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

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


Need more fantasy help? Visit

Fantasy Football 2014 Running Back Rankings: Week 15
Post date: Thursday, December 11, 2014 - 06:30
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2014-wide-receiver-rankings-week-15

Julio Jones set the pace last week, but even his record-setting performance wasn’t enough to knock Antonio Brown from atop Athlon Sports’ Fantasy Football Wide Receiver Rankings for Week 15. Jones was unstoppable on Monday night against the Packers, setting a Falcons single-game record with 250 yards (11 rec.) and a touchdown. Jones left the game early after injuring his hip, but at this point we’re not too concerned, hence his No. 6 ranking. Jones wasn’t the only wide receiver who filled the stat sheet last week either. A total of four wideouts scored 30 or more fantasy points, including A.J. Green. Injuries have impacted Green’s production for much of this season, but he looked plenty healthy against Pittsburgh, torching the Steelers for 11 catches and 224 yards, including an 81-yard touchdown. Green will face a little tougher matchup this Sunday against Cleveland’s Joe Haden, but he’s still a borderline top-10 option. And as far as Brown is concerned, he’s still leading his position in fantasy points and the NFL in receptions (105), while ranking second in both yards (1,375) and touchdown catches (11). It should be business as usual for Brown, as the Steelers will be in Atlanta to take on the Falcons’ 32nd-ranked defense.


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


2014 NFL Week 15 Fantasy Football Rankings — Wide Receivers


1Antonio BrownPITat ATL
2Calvin JohnsonDETvs. MIN
3Demaryius ThomasDENat SD
4Jordy NelsonGBat BUF
5Odell Beckham Jr.NYGvs. WAS
6Julio JonesATLvs. PIT
7Dez BryantDALat PHI
8T.Y. HiltonINDvs. HOU
9Alshon JefferyCHIvs. NO (Mon.)
10Emmanuel SandersDENat SD
11A.J. GreenCINat CLE
12Jeremy MaclinPHIvs. DAL
13Mike EvansTBat CAR
14Randall CobbGBat BUF
15Josh GordonCLEvs. CIN
16DeAndre HopkinsHOUat IND
17Roddy WhiteATLvs. PIT
18Kelvin BenjaminCARvs. TB
19Sammy WatkinsBUFvs. GB
20Julian EdelmanNEvs. MIA
21Jordan MatthewsPHIvs. DAL
22Keenan AllenSDvs. DEN
23Golden TateDETvs. MIN
24Brandon LaFellNEvs. MIA
25Kenny StillsNOat CHI (Mon.)
26Steve SmithBALvs. JAC
27Vincent JacksonTBat CAR
28Mike WallaceMIAat NE
29Marques ColstonNOat CHI (Mon.)
30Andre JohnsonHOUat IND
31Eric DeckerNYJat TEN
32Martavis BryantPITat ATL
33DeSean JacksonWASat NYG
34Donte MoncriefINDvs. HOU
35Pierre GarconWASat NYG
36Anquan BoldinSFat SEA
37Larry FitzgeraldARIat STL (Thurs.)
38Torrey SmithBALvs. JAC
39Jarvis LandryMIAat NE
40Marqise LeeJACat BAL
41Charles JohnsonMINat DET
42Marquess WilsonCHIvs. NO (Mon.)
43Nate WashingtonTENvs. NYJ
44Malcom FloydSDvs. DEN
45Kendall WrightTENvs. NYJ
46Robert WoodsBUFvs. GB
47Doug BaldwinSEAvs. SF
48Michael FloydARIat STL (Thurs.)

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

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


Need more fantasy help? Visit

Fantasy Football 2014 Wide Receiver Rankings: Week 15
Post date: Thursday, December 11, 2014 - 06:30
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2014-tight-end-rankings-week-15

It’s been a slow couple of games for Jimmy Graham, but it’s going to take a lot more to knock him from his lofty perch on Athlon Sports’ Fantasy Football Tight End Rankings for Week 15. Graham has a total of three catches in his last two games combined, but he’s still third at his position in fantasy points and checks in at No. 2 this week. Graham should bounce back Monday night against Chicago, whose defense is allowing the second-most fantasy points to opposing TEs. Speaking of the Bears, Martellus Bennett tied for top scoring honors (with Oakland’s Mychal Rivera) at his position last week, catching 12 passes for 84 yards and a touchdown in the loss to the Cowboys. With Brandon Marshall out for the rest of the season, Bennett could be in line for even more targets from here out.


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


2014 NFL Week 15 Fantasy Football Rankings — Tight Ends


1Rob GronkowskiNEvs. MIA
2Jimmy GrahamNOat CHI (Mon.)
3Julius ThomasDENat SD
4Martellus BennettCHIvs. NO (Mon.)
5Greg OlsenCARvs. TB
6Antonio GatesSDvs. DEN
7Delanie WalkerTENvs. NYJ
8Larry DonnellNYGvs. WAS
9Travis KelceKCvs. OAK
10Jason WittenDALat PHI
11Coby FleenerINDvs. HOU
12Jared CookSTLvs. ARI (Thurs.)
13Jordan ReedWASat NYG
14Dwayne AllenINDvs. HOU
15Heath MillerPITat ATL
16Jordan CameronCLEvs. CIN
17Zach ErtzPHIvs. DAL
18Mychal RiveraOAKat KC
19Kyle RudolphMINat DET
20Charles ClayMIAat NE
21Owen DanielsBALvs. JAC
22Scott ChandlerBUFvs. GB
23Vernon DavisSFat SEA
24Jermaine GreshamCINat CLE

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

Need more fantasy help? Visit

Fantasy Football 2014 Tight End Rankings: Week 15
Post date: Thursday, December 11, 2014 - 06:30
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2014-defensespecial-teams-rankings-week-15

The St. Louis Rams have posted back-to-back shutouts, an impressive performance that earns them a spot near the top of Athlon Sports’ Fantasy Football Defense/Special Teams Rankings for Week 15. The Rams haven’t given up a point in three weeks, having shut out the Raiders and Redskins by a combined score of 76-0. This DST also has racked up 13 sacks, seven takeaways (5 INTs, 2 fumbles) and two touchdowns during this span. St. Louis is another strong option this week against Arizona, but don’t sleep on the Cardinals, the No. 5 fantasy DST this season. Elsewhere, Seattle’s defense has really started playing like defending Super Bowl champions recently. The Seahawks’ DST has scored double-digit fantasy points in three straight games and on Sunday hosts a reeling San Francisco team, which is why the champs check in at No. 1 this week.


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


2014 NFL Week 15 Fantasy Football Rankings — Defense/Special Teams


1Seattle Seahawksvs. SF
2St. Louis Ramsvs. ARI
3Baltimore Ravensvs. JAC
4Detroit Lionsvs. MIN
5Arizona Cardinalsat STL (Thurs.)
6New England Patriotsvs. MIA
7New York Giantsvs. WAS
8Philadelphia Eaglesvs. DAL
9Denver Broncosat SD
10Cleveland Brownsvs. CIN
11Kansas City Chiefsvs. OAK
12Buffalo Billsvs. GB
13New York Jetsat TEN
14San Francisco 49ersat SEA
15Houston Texansat IND
16Minnesota Vikingsat DET

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

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


Need more fantasy help? Visit

Fantasy Football 2014 Defense/Special Teams Rankings: Week 15
Post date: Thursday, December 11, 2014 - 06:30