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-by Braden Gall (@AthlonBraden on twitter)
Each week Athlon's fantasy staff will dive into the NFL Fantasy world of Individual Defensive Players, or more affectionately known as IDPs. Weekly top performers, advice and waiver wire adds highlight the Athlon IDP Weekly Potpourri.
Week 2’s Top Defensive Backs
1. Morgan Burnett, S, Green Bay: 7 solo, 1.0 sack, INT, FF, 2 PD
I sure hope you heeded the IDP Waiver Wire’s advice last week and snagged this second year stud, because he was the top IDP defensive back in the NFL. In a secondary without Tramon Williams – and now without Nick Collins – Burnett becomes the top playmaker (sorry Chuck Woodson). His 14 solos stops in two weeks ranks him fifth amongst NFL DBs and is a must add in Week 3.
2. Roman Harper, S, New Orleans: 7 solo, 2.0 sacks, FF
Harper was a preseason top 10 IDP defensive back no matter what format you play in.
3. Charles Woodson, CB, Green Bay: 5 solo, 2 INT, FR, 2 PD
Playing against a rookie quarterback always makes for good fantasy numbers. Woodson benefited from some bad throws by Cam Newton and a forced fumble by Burnett. Woodson is a solid play, but don’t expect too many weeks like this one.
DB Waiver Wire Adds
Lardarius Webb, CB, Baltimore: 25.53 TFP (No. 3 DB)
Webb has had one of the more surprising starts to an IDP fantasy season in the NFL. He built on his 11 tackle opener with nine more solo stops against Tennessee. He is also the primary punt returner and back-up kickoff specialist, so in leagues with return yard, his special teams duties add some value.
Sean Jones, S, Tampa Bay: 22 TFP (No. 5)
The veteran safety has posted at least seven total tackles in each of his first two games and added a big sack this weekend. With talented corners helping him on the outside, Jones should be free to patrol the middle of the field all season long.
Patrick Peterson, DB, Arizona: 20.7 TFP (No. 8)
The uber-talented rookie proved his special teams skills in Week 1, but also has proven he be productive on defense as well. He has at least five solo stops in each of his first two career games and has 13 total tackles thus far. He also has 128 return yards and will add value in leagues that count those points. Once he adds the big play – INT, SACK, FF, etc – to his game, he could be a great value the rest of his career.
DB Injury Update
Eric Berry, S, Kansas City
Jon McGraw filled in admirably this weekend – at least in the fantasy world – with 10 tackles and an INT against Detroit. With Berry done for 2011, McGraw could pro
Patrick Chung, S, New England
The former Oregon Duck became the latest Patriot to injure his thumb. He left the field in the third quarter against the Chargers but returned with a hard cast on. Monitor the situation.
Nick Collins, S, Green Bay
The Pro Bowl Packer sustained a serious head/neck injury this weekend and was carted off the field. Mike McCarthy announced Monday that he will miss the remainder of the 2011 season. Charlie Peprah filled in for Morgan Burnett last fall and will do the same for Collins.
Jonathan Joseph, CB, Houston
The Cincinnati import has played well for the Texans but is questionable for Week 3 against New Orleans with an ankle injury.
Week 2’s Top Linebackers
1. Michael Boley, NY Giants: 3 solo, 3 asts, FR, TD, PD
Take his touchdown with a grain of salt. He has only 10 total tackles in two games.
2. Mason Foster, Tampa Bay: 7 solo, 3 asts, 1.0 sack, FF
It hasn’t taken long for this rookie to make his mark in the middle of the Bucs defense. He plays on three downs and is in a great position to continue his production all season long.
3. Desmond Bishop, Green Bay: 9 solo, 1 ast, 1.0 sack
The heart of the Packers linebacking corps has produced two weeks in a row. Look for this type of performance nearly every week from the former Cal Golden Bear star.
LB Waiver Wire Adds
Sean Lee, Dallas: 27.0 TFP (No. 1 LB)
I told you to pick him up last week – and I sure hope you did as he is now the No. 1 LB in IDP fantasy football.
Mason Foster, Tampa Bay: 20.5 TFP (No. 7)
The rookie is in a lucrative fantasy position for the foreseeable future. He has racked-up 17 total stops in his first two games and shows the ability to make the big play. He is consistent and should be a safe bet for 8-10 tackles each week.
Pat Angerer, Indianapolis: 20.5 TFP (No. 7)
The Colts’ defense will be on the field a lot in 2011 and Angerer figures to be the guy who will make the most stops. He was a tackling machine at Iowa and it appears he will continue that trend as his 21 total stops will indicate. His big-play ability is limited, but he should easily top 100 tackles.
Sean Weatherspoon, Atlanta: 18.5 TFP (No. 14)
I called him out last week as a great waiver wire addition and he didn’t disappoint with a very serviceable 10 total tackle performance. He now has 16 total solos on the year and the Falcons' defensive line isn’t even healthy yet. Just wait.
LB Injury Report
Daryl Washington, Arizona
Missed last week’s game with mild calf strain, but should be back in the line-up.
Tamba Hali, Kansas City
The injury bug in KC has been insane. Hali left Week 2 game with an ankle issue.
Week 2’s Top Defensive Lineman
1. Jabaal Sheard, DE, Cleveland: 4 solo, 1 ast, 1.0 sack, FF, FR
This rookie has all the talent in the world and is worth an add after his excellent Week 2 showing. However, keep in mind, most teams he plays won’t be Indianapolis and most teams will be running against the Browns rather than passing.
2. Jason Hatcher, DE, Dallas: 4 solo, 2 sacks
Hatcher has never topped 27 tackles and never had more than 2.5 sacks in a season. While he certainly appears poised to set personal records, I cannot advise you to add him in anything but super-deep DL leagues.
3. Cullen Jenkins, DE/DT, Philadelphia: 3 solo, 1 ast, 2.0 sacks
With the injury to Trent Cole (and with how explosive Jenkins looked on Sunday night) the former Packer could be a sneaky good pick-up for the near future. However, Jenkins has constantly had injury issues of his own, so have a back-up plan ready to go.
Top DL Waiver Wire Adds
See Cullen Jenkins, Jabaal Sheard above.
Jean Pierre-Paul, DE, NY Giants: 20 TFP (No. 2 DL)
Once again, if you paid attention to last week’s IDP potpourri, then Pierre-Paul isn’t likely to be available in most IDP leagues. If he is, do not think twice about adding this future star.
Haloti Ngata, DT, Baltimore: 15 TFP (No. 9)
The world’s most dominant defensive tackle is one of few nose guards who is worth owning. He simply makes plays. He has 2 FR, a FF and 2 PD to go with above average tackle production from his position.
DL Injury Report
Trent Cole, DE, Philadelphia
The dynamic rusher is questionable for Week 3 against the Giants with a hand issue.
Elvis Dumervil, DE, Denver
He missed last week’s game with a shoulder issue. Monitor very closely.
Aaron Kampman, DE, Jacksonville
Knee injury already has him ruled out of Week 3 game against Carolina.
Other NFL Fantasy Content:
Corby Yarbrough's NFL Fantasy Week 3 Waiver Wire Report
Feel free to email (email@example.com or @AthlonCorby) or tweet us with any NFL Fantasy questions that you may have. Yarbrough will be answering all your fantasy questions every Wednesday of the regular season.
By Mitch Light
Take a look at Illinois’ remaining schedule in 2011 and tell me if I’m crazy for believing this football team can win 11 games. The Illini, already 3–0, still have five more home games, and three of their four road games are against the three weakest teams in the Big Ten — Indiana, Purdue and Minnesota. The other road game is at Penn State, a team that escaped Philadelphia with a 14–10 win over Temple last weekend. The home games are against Western Michigan, Northwestern, Ohio State, Michigan and Wisconsin. My guess is that Illinois will be favored in all but one remaining game, vs. Wisconsin.
So there you have it: The Illini, who don’t play Nebraska or Michigan State, could be playing for the inaugural Big Ten Leaders Division title when the Badgers visit Champaign on Nov. 19.
It’s always a bit dangerous to put too much faith in a Ron Zook-coached team, but this is a solid club that has a lot of key pieces in the right places. It all starts with Nathan Scheelhaase, the dual-threat quarterback who is off to a very strong start to his sophomore season. And as always, the Illini have a strong running game. The main man this year is senior Jason Ford, who is running behind a veteran offensive line. Defensively, the Illini lost some serious star power in tackle Corey Liuget and linebacker Martez Wilson, but this is still a very strong group that held Arizona State to 14 points in last week’s thrilling three-point win in Champaign.
So what happens if my not-so-outlandish scenario comes to fruition and Illinois takes advantage of a relatively soft Big Ten schedule? Could this be a top-10 team? Let’s take it one step further. What happens if Illinois wins all the games it’s capable of winning — including beating Ohio State at home and winning at Penn State — and then somehow knocks off Wisconsin at home in late November? Could the Zooker actually be 13–0 and headed to the BCS National Championship Game in a season in which he was mentioned on the Hot Seat in our preseason annual?
It’s possible. Dare to dream Illini.
AROUND THE BIG TEN
• Nebraska has nine plays from scrimmage of at least 40 yards, the most in the Big Ten. The Huskers also lead the league in plays of 20-plus yards (18) and 30-plus yards (12).
• The three leading rushers in the Big Ten are quarterbacks — Nebraska’s Taylor Martinez (128.0 ypg), Michigan’s Denard Robinson (117.3 ypg) and Minnesota’s MarQueis Gray (109.3 ypg).
• Wisconsin has only forced one turnover in three games. Three other teams have only forced one and two teams (Kansas and UAB) have yet to force a turnover.
• Northwestern only ran 57 plays from scrimmage in a 21–14 loss at Army after averaging 80.5 plays in wins over Boston College and Eastern Illinois.
• Michigan ranks seventh in the league in total offense (403.7 ypg) but leads the Big Ten in yards per play (7.7).
• Michigan State has now lost two straight games to Notre Dame in South Bend after winning six straight at Notre Dame Stadium.
The SEC has already unofficially secured Texas A&M from the Big 12 – could Missouri be next? The Kansas City Star is reporting Missouri has been extended an offer to join the SEC. However, the Tigers aren’t ready to act on the offer and are waiting to see what happens with the Big 12.
With the Big 12 on the verge of collapse, all 10 teams have been scrambling to secure a future home for 2012 and beyond. Missouri has been committed to making the Big 12 work, but the clock is ticking and the conference could be approaching its final hours.
The future of the Big 12 is squarely locked into Norman, Okla. and Austin, Texas. The Sooners have indicated heavy interest in joining the Pac-12, but could remain in the Big 12. Texas has also shown interest in the Pac-12, but may not be willing to fold its Longhorn Network into a conference regional network.
The Pac-12 could take Oklahoma and Oklahoma State and get to 14 teams, but Texas is unlikely to stick with a watered-down Big 12.
Texas A&M has yet to officially be announced as a SEC member, but all signs point to the Aggies joining the conference next season. However, when Texas A&M joins, the SEC would be at 13 teams, which creates unbalanced divisions and why the conference is interested in Missouri.
The Tigers may seem like an odd fit for the SEC to some, but Missouri is bordered by Kentucky, Tennessee and Arkansas (three SEC states). And Columbia, Mo. is almost halfway between St. Louis and Kansas City – two key markets the SEC would love to tap into.
If the Tigers join the SEC, they could be placed in the West, while Auburn is moved to the East to balance out the divisions.
Although Missouri has an offer on the table, the report indicates saving the Big 12 is still priority No. 1. However, if the conference implodes, the Tigers would have an opportunity to join the SEC.
But would the Tigers accept an invite to the SEC?
Missouri was believed to have interest in joining the Big Ten during last year’s expansion craze.
If the Big Ten decides it needs to expand, would the Tigers be more interested in staying in the Midwest or joining the SEC?
There are still a lot of scenarios still to play out with conference realignment, but it appears Missouri is going to be attracting a lot of interest from a couple of conferences over the next couple of weeks.
1955. 1974. 1982. 2008.
It does not take very long to run through the bowl history of the Vanderbilt football program. However, James Franklin is not interested in the past. The energetic new boss of the Commodores has preached to his team that this is 2011, and he is out to change the culture of Vanderbilt on the gridiron. The beginning of the Franklin era has been promising, with the ‘Dores standing at 3-0 after punching Ole Miss in the mouth – 30-7 – on Saturday. VU leads the nation in interceptions with 10, and the defense has returned one pilfer for a touchdown in all three games. The schedule is always brutal in the SEC, but the Commodores look to be contenders for a fifth-ever postseason berth.
Will Vanderbilt make a bowl game?
Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
I like what James Franklin is doing at Vanderbilt so far. The Commodores are off to a 3-0 start and have been recruiting very well. However, I think Vanderbilt’s bowl hopes will fall just short. The schedule is going to get a lot tougher over the next couple of weeks, as the Commodores take on South Carolina, Alabama and Georgia. Army and Kentucky would appear to be sure wins, which gets Vanderbilt to five. However, I’m having trouble finding a sixth win on the schedule. Wake Forest is certainly winnable, but the Demon Deacons appear to be a much-improved team. Pulling off an upset against Tennessee or Georgia isn’t out of the question, but considering the offensive question marks surrounding Vanderbilt, I think it will fall just short of bowl eligibility.
Vanderbilt is off to a great start under first-year coach James Franklin, with wins over Ole Miss, Connecticut and Elon. If the Commodores are still standing after back-to-back brutal road trips to South Carolina (Sept. 24) and Alabama (Oct. 8), Coach Franklin has a realistic chance to lead VU to its first bowl berth since 2008 and only the school’s second since 1982. The home schedule is favorable, with winnable matchups against Army and Kentucky as well as vulnerable Georgia and Arkansas. Road games at Florida and at Tennessee will be tough. But if Jay Cutler’s alma mater is one win away heading into the season-finale at Wake Forest, expect the 'Dores to do their best impression of junior cornerback Trey Wilson (3 INTs for 103 yards and 2 TDs) and take it to the house with a bowl berth.
Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman)
I can easily see Vanderbilt making a bowl game, but I’ll say the Commodores finish just short at 5-7. Coach Franklin does not want to dwell on the past, but there have been several good starts on West End that faded quickly. The energy that the new VU staff has instilled in the team is evident, but I still want to see how the Black and Gold respond to the black-and-blue portion of their league schedule. Running backs Zac Stacy and Jerron Seymour have looked solid so far, and the Commodores have one of the better secondaries in the SEC. To get to the postseason, Franklin will need quarterback Larry Smith to make some plays in the passing game and the front seven to not get worn down during the SEC grind. If the ‘Dores can win three out of the following four – Army, Kentucky, Tennessee and Wake Forest – they will go bowling and start an exciting new era. I see the Commodores falling a game short in 2011, but the program is headed in the right direction.
By Mitch Light
There are two things you need to know about Iowa State quarterback Steele Jantz.
The first: He might have the most normal name in his family. Jantz’ father is named Foxx, who has a twin brother named Wolf and another brother named Stig. Steele has brothers named Truk and Brogan.
The second, and far more important to Cyclone fans: He is a winner.
Jantz, a transfer from junior college who won the job in preseason camp, has led Iowa State to a 3–0 start by making the right plays at the right time. The Cyclones have won their three games — over Northern Iowa, Iowa and UConn — by a total of eight points and have trailed in those three games a combined 10 times.
Jantz recovered from a slow start against UConn — he was intercepted three times in the first quarter — to rally Iowa State from a 10–0 deficit in the first half and a 20–17 deficit in the fourth quarter. The week before, ISU trailed Iowa on five different occasions, including twice in overtime, before winning 41–38 on the final possession of the third extra session.
Jantz, a native of Agoura Hills, Calif., has made plays with his legs as well as his arm. In the first two games, he combined to rush for 122 yards and two touchdowns. He was bottled up against UConn (negative-10 yards rushing on three attempt due in part to a leg injury suffered just before the half), but his ability to tuck the ball and run will cause problems for opposing defenses all season.
Iowa State is 3–0 for the first time since 2005 and one of only five 3–0 teams in 2011 that already has two wins over BCS conference opponents.
“The confidence continues to build as we find a way to win football games,” says Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads. “I have a confident group of young men to begin with. They have to focus on improving and moving forward.”
Moving forward, Iowa State’s schedule will become far more difficult. After a week off, the Cyclones begin a five-game gauntlet that features home games with Texas and Texas A&M and road dates against Baylor, Missouri and Texas Tech. In addition, Oklahoma State and Oklahoma await in the month of November.
AROUND THE BIG 12
• Kansas has allowed 45 points or more in six of its last nine games vs. BCS conference opponents. The 2011 Jayhawks rank 119th in the nation in rushing defense and total defense.
• Of the five quarterbacks who have not yet thrown an interception on the list of top 25 leaders in passing efficiency, Baylor’s Robert Griffin III and Texas Tech’s Seth Doege have the most touchdowns — eight each.
• Western Illinois had 44 total yards against Missouri last week and only one of the Leathernecks possessions lasted for more than three plays.
• Last Saturday against UCLA, Texas true freshman Malcolm Brown had what figures to be the first of many 100-yard games in a Longhorn uniform. Brown carried the ball a season-high 22 times for 1110 yards and scored the first touchdown of his career in Texas’ 49–20 win over the Bruins.
• Oklahoma State leads the Big 12 with 24 plays from scrimmage that have gone for at least 20 yards.
• Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones attempted only 27 passes in the Sooners’ win at Florida State. It was the fewest he has thrown since becoming the starter at OU early in the 2009 season.
• Texas A&M will not play a game outside College Station in the month of September for the first time since 1984.
There are still several dominos to fall in college football’s great realignment of 2011, but the picture is starting to clear just a bit. West Virginia has been rumored as a potential candidate for SEC or ACC expansion over the past few weeks, but it appears that talk can quiet down. According to CBSSports.com Brett McMurphy, West Virginia officials have indicated they have been turned down by the SEC and ACC for membership.
Considering the uncertain landscape across college football, there are a lot of teams searching for a new home or at least developing contingency plans. West Virginia was a rumored target to be the SEC’s No. 14 team and under consideration to be the No. 15 or No. 16 team into the ACC.
However, the options seem to be limited for a future home for the Mountaineers.
What happens to the Big 12 will play a key role in determining where several teams will end up.
The Mountaineers could decide to stay in a revamped Big East, if the Big 12 doesn’t break apart. While this option isn’t overly attractive, the conference does have a solid building block with West Virginia, Louisville, South Florida, Cincinnati, Rutgers and Connecticut – provided none of those teams depart for the ACC. TCU is also scheduled to join the Big East in 2012. With that block of six teams to start with, the conference could look to add UCF, Houston, East Carolina and SMU from Conference USA for future members.
If the Big 12 breaks apart, there will be a lot of changes coming to all conferences. What’s left of the Big 12 – Baylor, Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State and Missouri – could choose to merge with the remaining schools of the Big East. Although it’s not going to challenge the SEC, Big Ten or ACC in terms of overall strength, the conference would keep an automatic bid to the BCS.
In terms of overall competitiveness, the Mountaineers are one of the top options on the board for the ACC or SEC to expand. However, with the ACC’s desire to explore adding Connecticut and Rutgers, it’s clear the move is not about play on the field.
If adding Connecticut and Rutgers helps the ACC get a better television deal or helps to strengthen the conference's hold on the East Coast, then that’s what it will take. And don’t rule out the conference from making a run at Notre Dame. It’s a longshot that the Irish will join the ACC, but the conference will at least place a phone call to South Bend.
The SEC has already taken the steps to add Texas A&M, but will need a 14th team. Is the conference waiting to pounce on Missouri or Kansas?
Barring a change of direction, it appears West Virginia will not be joining the SEC or ACC. With today’s news, all signs point to the Mountaineers sticking around in a revamped Big East or Big 12.
Tony Romo is a man. We know that now. There's no discussion about his toughness or his ability to lead the Dallas Cowboys locker room after it was revealed that he had a punctured lung and two fractured ribs during Sunday's game against the 49ers.
He's tough, we get it.
But there's a fine line between tough and stupid in the NFL. And if Tony Romo puts his longterm health in jeopardy to play on Monday Night Football, then that would fall in the stupid category.
When Romo came back in the game last week, the extent of his injury was not know. The team doctors knew he had a couple broken ribs, but they didn't know he had a punctured luing. If they had known that, there would be no way they would have let him back in the game.
A punctured lung, much like cracked ribs, is an injury that can take a long time to heal. But the only real concern about playing with broken ribs is the pain factor. If you can play through the pain, then you can go ahead and play, there's no real long-term harm you can do to your body.
But a punctured lung is a totally different story. If Romo were to get hit the wrong way he could be put in a life-threatening situation. And while football is full of tough guys, it's just not worth it. Not for Romo's health, and it's not worth it to put the Cowboy's season in jeopardy.
It makes much more sense to give Romo another week to make sure he's healed enough to step on the field. Jon Kitna proved last year that he is a more than capable back-up. If given ample practice time he can be a slightly elevated game managing quarterback who can utilize all the weapons that the Cowboys have at their disposal on offense.
With Romo hurting this week (apparently rib injuries hurt more during the few days following the injury then they do right as the injury occurs), Kitna will already be practicing with the first team offense.
Let Kitna go in against the Redskins, and let Tony Romo sit this one out. We already know he's tough, don't put his life in jeopardy to prove it all over again.
The LPGA has received a priceless gift in the form of a giggly 16-year-old home schooler. A Tour that is starved for fan attention, marketing dollars and a charismatic American presence has had the good fortune of having Lexi Thompson fall into its lap.
Thompson became the youngest winner in LPGA history last weekend when she captured the Navistar Classic at age 16, dominating a strong field in winning by five shots. In the process, she grabbed, at least briefly, the attention of sports fans who wouldn’t know World No. 1 Yani Tseng if she hit them in the knee with a gap wedge.
Thompson’s remarkable maturity and infectious passion for the game could propel the struggling Tour past its tiny niche as a Golf Channel afterthought and into a legitimate presence on the sports landscape. Or at least ahead of the WNBA.
His enthusiasm tempered by the cautionary tale of Michelle Wie, whose too-much-too-soon saga and lack of maturity spoiled her premature arrival on the scene, LPGA Commissioner Michael Whan must play this carefully. He can’t hitch his wagon to a 16-year-old, but at the same time, he can’t ignore Thompson’s potential impact on his Tour and the sport itself.
Whan must weigh the Tour’s 18-year-old age requirement against its tenuous position in a struggling economy. In 2008, the Tour schedule included 34 events; in 2011, it’s down to 25, with 13 of them outside the United State. Thompson could be just the tonic this Tour needs.
Here’s a sample of what they’re saying about golf’s newest phenom:
“She is most known for how long she hits it and how far she flies it, but I think she doesn’t get enough credit for how smart she played today and how good her iron shots are and how good she is at scrambling.” — Tiffany Joh, who was paired with Thompson during the final round of the Navistar
I don’t want to be the commissioner responsible for freshmen in high school being in the position of having to decide their futures. — LPGA Commissioner Michael Whan, who will be forced to rule on Thompson’s upcoming petition for membership in light of the Tour’s age requirement that participants be at least 18
“She has kind of proven she can play out here. She's proven she can handle the social part of it. I think they should give her full (membership).” — 51-year-old LPGA legend Juli Inkster, who was the oldest player participating at the Navistar
“It’s great to have all these fans out here. If it wasn’t for them these tournaments wouldn't go along. Having the little girls out here just looking up to me, that's what I've always wanted. I just want to portray to them that I'm following my dreams.” — Thompson, on the fan response to her win
"They give up their lives for us, you know, saving our country. ... Donating to them, you just have to. I mean, look what they do for us. It's just amazing that they do that. I definitely want to give back." — Thompson, who plans to donate $20,000 of her winner’s check to the Wounded Warrior Project
I'm pretty sure the Onion's Brendan Laroux Story, a movie about a no-legged and no-handed hockey player in a wheelchair is going to top Brian's Song, The Longest Yard and The Blindside as the greatest and most-inspiring sports movie in the history of film.
-by Braden Gall (@BradenGall on twitter)
Published Sept. 20, 2011
The nationwide NCAA violations tour has added a new date in Columbia, South Carolina: The South Carolina Gamecocks.
USC, North Carolina, Ohio State, Oklahoma State, Oregon, Miami and now the South Carolina Gamecocks have caught the ire of the NCAA infractions committee after two years of potential violations.
Steve Spurrier and the Gamecocks received the official NCAA notice of allegations Monday afternoon regarding its college football, basketball and track/field programs.
The NCAA claims that at least 12 student-athletes (10 football and two track) received just under $47,000 in benefits from the local Whitney hotel. The impermissible reduced rent supposedly included special provision for nine players to pay back the money at a later date. Two football players are reported to have paid the dramatically reduced rate ($14.59 versus $57) for over 400 days. The report indicates that the 10 football players spent a total of 1,717 days/nights at the hotel.
The Whitney Hotel’s general manager, Jamie Blevins, is a South Carolina booster.
The NCAA notice also claims that representatives of the University of South Carolina had illegal contact with potential recruits, including extra benefits. Delaware-based Student Athlete Management Foundation (SAM) – run by two South Carolina grads President Steve Gordon and treasurer Kevin Lahn – is reported to have provided $8,000 worth of benefits to prospective student-athletes. The disobedience is reported to have taken place between the spring of 2009 and February of 2011. These benefits include a boat cruise for nearly 50 football players, entertainment costs, meals, lodging and unofficial trips to campus.
Sharrif Floyd of Florida and Carolina’s Damiere Byrd have both already been served suspenions and repaid monies stemming from relationships with SAM.
It might be a total coincidence that these “impermissible” benefits took place during a period of extraordinary Gamecock recruiting. If you simply extrapolate and speculate, this period of time would heavily involve the two recruiting cycles in which the South Carolina Gamecocks signed the No. 1 player in the nation in the 2011 class, Jadeveon Clowney, and the No. 5 player in the nation from the 2010 class – and current NCAA rushing leader – Marcus Lattimore.
"We have and will continue to cooperate fully with the NCAA in all aspects of their review," said South Carolina athletics director Eric Hyman said in his official statement. "Any pertinent information from the NCAA that can help us strengthen our athletics program will be used as an opportunity to make positive change."
Both issues are considered “potential major violations,” and South Carolina has 90 days to respond to the NCAA notice of allegations before eventually appearing before the infractions committee.
It may only be just the beginning and it may not be as bad as it sounds, but with the way college football has been soaked in scandal for the last 18-24 months, it’s has to be tough for Gamecock fans not to be nervous.
Florida State quarterback EJ Manuel could be sidelined for Saturday’s game against Clemson. The junior suffered a sprained AC joint in his non-throwing shoulder in Saturday’s loss to Oklahoma.
Manuel did not practice on Monday and is considered day-to-day by coach Jimbo Fisher. If he cannot start against Clemson, redshirt freshman Clint Trickett will start. Trickett completed 7 of 15 throws for 134 yards and one touchdown in Saturday’s loss to Oklahoma. However, Trickett has only 23 career attempts and has yet to make a start.
This is not the Manuel’s first shoulder injury. In 2010, Manuel had surgery on his throwing shoulder, which prevented him from suiting up in spring practice.
Manuel is off to a good start this season, throwing for 666 yards and six touchdowns in three games. The junior completed 13 of 19 passes for 85 yards and two interceptions before leaving with an injury against the Sooners. Manuel is considered one of the top quarterbacks in the ACC and should be battling with Maryland’s Danny O’Brien to earn first-team all-conference honors at the end of the year.
Saturday’s matchup against Clemson is a big one in the ACC Atlantic race. The Seminoles are considered the favorite to win the division, but the Tigers are a dangerous team, especially with the offense starting to click. Clemson has played well at home against Florida State in recent years, winning the last four matchups in Death Valley. The Tigers are also coming off a huge win over Auburn, which has given the team momentum going into Week 4.
Manuel’s status is even more important to this matchup, considering the struggles of Florida State's offensive line and running backs so far this year. The Seminoles rank 100th nationally in rushing offense and are managing only 3.2 yards per carry.
Florida State can certainly lean on its defense to win in Death Valley on Saturday. However, a healthy Manuel would certainly help the Seminoles’ chances of victory.
Expect Manuel to be a gametime decision for Florida State, but Fisher and the staff will have Trickett prepped throughout the week in case he needs to start.
Even if Florida State has to go without Manuel, don't be surprised if the Seminoles find a way to win, thanks to one of the nation's best defenses.
Iron Mike's still got it! During the end of an exceptionally brutal Charlie Sheen roast on Comedy Central last night, Steve-O, the Jackass star known for stapling his nuts to his leg, thought it would be a good idea to get a running start and jump head first into Mike Tyson's outstretched fist.
And of course it was. Because that's what a good Jackass performer would do to put a proper end to a good night of television.
After the show Steve-O tweeted "broken nose!" confirming what his bloodied face lead us to believe as the credits for the show rolled by.
We're not sure how many times Steve-O has broken his nose, but we'd love to see a tally if someone has it.
So, does Steve-O need to do this sort of stuff? It seems like it's in his blood (which is also running down his face) for him to entertain with the physical comedy of a 21st Century Three Stooges. Whatever it is, we're glad he's here for us. God bless you, Steve-O.
With the season-ending injury to Jamaal Charles and the nagging hamstring injury to Arian Foster, two names have emerged as the "you have to go get" players from your fantasy football waiver wire: Dexter McCluster and Ben Tate.
They're two players in two very different positions in the fantasy football landscape. But which one will have the larger effect on the 2011 season?
The Case for Dexter McCluster
The Pros: The obvious upside with McCluster is that his team's first stringer (Jamaal Charles) is definitely out for the season. The only person standing in Dexter's way of becoming the feature back is the ancient (although extremely jacked-up-for-his-age) Thomas Jones. Last year, which was his rookie campaign, McCluster played only 11 games in a smaller role in the offense, yet managed to catch 21 balls for 209 yards (a tidy 10 ypc avg) and ran the ball only 18 times for a n even tidier 3.9 yards per carry. Yes, it's a small sample size, but Dexter proved in his kickoff and punt returns that he's a pro-caliber runner. His slashing style makes people miss, and the fact that he's playing behind one of the better offensive lines in football, this is almost a perfect situation for McCluster to find himself in.
The obvious elephant in the fantasy locker room is Thomas Jones. How much time will he take away from Dexter? While he may be the first down back and will steal some touchdowns, the truth of the matter is that the Chiefs are a bad football team right now. Their defense is atrocious, which is actually great for Dexter owners.
The Chiefs are going to be behind much more than they will be leading in most games, which means they're going to be throwing the ball. Last year, in 16 games, Thomas Jones caught only 14 balls. Less than one reception a game. While Dexter averaged two a game in a much more limited role.
Without using too much hyperbole, it seems to me (especially in a PPR league) Dexter McCluster is going to be this year's Peyton Hillis.
The Cons: Injuries are really the only con facing McCluster this year. He missed 5 games last year, but in reality almost every player is an injury risk, so don't let that bother you.
Dexter McCluster 2011 Prediction: 845 yards rushing and 3 rushing touchdowns. 63 receptions for 560 yards and 4 receiving touchdowns. And one kickoff/punt TD for good measure.
The Case for Ben Tate
Pros: What most people don't know is that Ben Tate was a great running back at Auburn. And after the first two games of the season, he's garnered the third-most yards of any running back this season. He's ahead of other fantasy darlings Adrian Peterson and LeSean McCoy. And he shared time with Arian Foster of the first half of the Texans game against the Dolphins.
So we know he can run, and he's on an offense that can move the ball. Texans coach Gary Kubiak came out and gave Tate the primary back duties as long as Foster's hamstring is still injured.
So, the real question on Tate is how much time will he be the #1 back. And if he's leading the league in rushing, is there a possibility he will keep this job even after Arian's hammy is fully healthy?
Hamstrings take forever to heal. It's one of those nagging injuries that seem to always pop back up throughout any season (just ask fantasy baseballers who own Nelson Cruz). So I'd be willing to put a good bet that Tate puts up more fantasy points than Foster this year (he's already got a sizeable lead with a good chance he's going to start for the next week or two at minimum.) Either way, if he's available, go get him.
The Cons: It all comes down to Arian's hammy, whether or not Tate becomes this year's Arian. How's that for meta?
Ben Tate 2011 Prediction: 1,250 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns. 15 receptions for 120 yards.
If you've missed out on both of these guys, check out our complete waiver wire pickups for week 3.
Click here for all of our fantasy football rankings each week.
By Cory Jones
MLB Mt. Rushmores
by Charlie Miller
We believe that all MLB teams should have their own Mt. Rushmores. Who are the four baseball players that have risen above all others for each organization? The question sounds simple. Even two guys sitting in a bar can figure that out, right? Not so fast. Let the arguments begin.
Boston Red Sox Mt. Rushmore
The overplayed drought of championships from 1918 to 2004 and the Curse of the Bambino have overshadowed what has been a very successful franchise. By 1918 the team had won five World Series and another AL pennant in 1904, a year there was no Series. Dark days followed from 1922-33 when they finished in last place in nine of 12 seasons and next-to-last in another two. But Sox fans have had much to cheer for recently. Even going back to 1966, there have been just seven losing seasons. They have finished worse than second place just three times since 1997. The Sox have made 13 postseason appearances in the past 28 years. And since the Curse was reversed in 2004, Boston has won two more titles (2007, 2013). However, the team has won 100 games in a season only three times, the last all the way back in 1946. The famous 1978 playoff game with the Yankees would have been the Sox 100th win had Bucky Dent not shattered Boston’s championship plans. The Red Sox pose the toughest test to date in selecting just four individuals. Ted Williams and Carl Yastrzemski are easy choices. The list of candidates for the last two spots is long, and filled with strong arguments.
There is absolutely no doubt that Teddy Ballgame belongs here. The Splendid Splinter is also in the discussion for the MLB Hitters Mt. Rushmore. There may not have been a better hitter ever. His entire career was spent in Boston and was interrupted twice by stints in the U.S. Marine Corps — first in World War II then again during the Korean War. The 10 best on-base percentages in Boston history, ranging from .479-.553, all belong to Williams.
It isn’t easy to step into a legend’s shoes, especially at the age of 21 and a legend the size of Williams. But that’s what was asked of Yastrzemski in 1961. But 3,308 games later, Yaz had cemented his place alongside Williams as the two greatest players in Red Sox history. Yastrzemski won three batting titles, a triple crown, made 18 All-Star teams and earned seven Gold Gloves. At ages 22 and 38 he finished 18th in MVP voting. In between, he had nine finishes that high or better, including winning the award in his triple crown season of 1967. Sadly, Yaz never won a World Series, but he batted .400 and hit three home runs in the 1967 Classic and hit .310 in the 1975 Series. Overall, he batted .369 in the postseason with 11 RBIs and 15 runs in 17 games.
Big Papi has embodied the spirit of the Red Sox in the 2000s. Over his first five seasons with the team, he averaged .302 with 42 home runs, 128 RBIs, 105 runs and 41 doubles, and finished in the top 5 in MVP votes each year. And most importantly, the Sox won two World Series in that time. He has 17 postseason home runs and owns a .455 average with 14 RBIs in 14 World Series games.
Rice is third on the Red Sox list in hits, total bases and RBIs. He and Hank Aaron (in 1959) are the only two hitters with as many as 400 total bases in a season between 1948 and 1997. From the mid-1970s to the mid-’80s, Rice was the most feared hitter in the American League.
You would think any player with a foul pole named for him would deserve a Mt. Rushmore honor. And Johnny Pesky remains a beloved player to fans of several generations.
The Game 6 home run in 1975 by Carlton Fisk certainly is on Boston’s Mt. Rushmore of moments, but the catcher had a tough breakup and spent too much time in white socks.
Third in career runs, fourth in hits and total bases, Dwight Evans was as good a rightfielder as we’ve seen since the 1970s.
Cy Young has an award named for him, but fewer than 200 wins in Boston.
Bobby Doerr made nine All-Star teams and drove in 100 runs six times. He missed a full season due to military service at age 27. He played only second base in his career and wore no other uniform.
From 1935 to 1947, Joe Cronin managed Lefty Grove, Jimmie Foxx, Ted Williams and Bobby Doerr, among others, to a pennant, four second-place finishes and 10 .500 seasons or better in 13 years.
Tris Speaker won the 1912 MVP in a Boston uniform. In seven full-time seasons from 1909-15, he averaged .342-6-76 with 99 runs, 34 doubles and 15 triples and a .909 OPS.
Jimmie Foxx made six All-Star teams and won an MVP with the Sox.
Best Current Player
This is obviously a tough foursome to crack, but if any current member of the Red Sox can do that, it would be second baseman Dustin Pedroia. He's gritty, clutch and a fan favorite who is locked up long-term in Boston.
Follow Charlie Miller on Twitter @AthlonCharlie or email him Charlie.Miller@AthlonSports.com
Other teams' Mt. Rushmores:
By Mitch Light
Vanderbilt’s hot start has made national news. The Commodores, fresh off a dominating 30–7 win over Ole Miss, are 3–0 under first-year head coach James Franklin.
But despite the epic struggles this program has endured over the past five decades, this is not uncharted territory for Vanderbilt football. In fact, this is the third time in the past seven years the Commodores have opened a season with a 3–0 mark — something that only 31 of the other 119 FBS programs can claim.
The key for the 2011 Commodores is to avoid the late-season collapse that derailed the two previous Vanderbilt teams that opened with (at least) a 3–0 record. In 2005, Jay Cutler and the Dores won their first four games, including three over BCS conference opponents, before a home loss to Middle Tennessee (0–5 at the time) started a six-game losing streak. That Vanderbilt team did end the season with a win at Tennessee — the school’s first over the Vols since 1982 — but the final record was 5–6.
Then, in 2008, the Dores raced out to a 5–0 start, highlighted by a 14–13 win over Auburn on a day when ESPN’s College GameDay broadcasted live from campus. That Vanderbilt team proceeded to lose six of its last seven regular-season games but did manage to qualify for a bowl game — the first since ’82 — with a 6–6 record.
Vanderbilt’s combined record after its two recent fast starts (4–0 in ’05 and 5–0 in ’08) is a combined 3–12.
So what’s in store for Franklin and the ’11 Commodores? Can this team, predicted unanimously to finish in last place in the SEC East, maintain this pace and remain relevant throughout the season? Or are the Dores simply of a product of a soft early schedule that has featured home games against Elon, UConn and Ole Miss?
We obviously won’t know the answer to these questions for a few months, but the best guess is that Vanderbilt has what it takes to win at least six games. The schedule gets much more difficult in the short term — road dates at South Carolina and Alabama are on the horizon — but the Dores still have games remaining vs. Army, Kentucky, Tennessee and Wake Forest.
The key for Vanderbilt will be to maintain its high level of play on the defensive side of the ball. Neither UConn nor Ole Miss are very skilled on offense, but the Dores were downright dominant in both games. Those two teams averaged only 213.5 yards of offense and combined to score one offensive touchdown against Vanderbilt. The Commodores lead the nation with 10 interceptions and have scored on a pick-six in each of their first three games.
The offense has struggled to move the ball with consistency but has been able to come through with some big plays at key times. Vanderbilt ranks 10th in the SEC in total offense but is tied for the league lead with nine plays of 30-plus yards. Against Ole Miss, Zac Stacy scored on a 77-yard touchdown run and also scampered 34 yards on a nifty Statue of Liberty play that set up another score.
“We’re going to have to be creative and aggressive and put our kids in situations to be successful,” Franklin said after the game. “Everyone has to buy into it. To get to where we need to be, we’re going to have to take some risks and take some chances.”
So far, those risks have paid off.
AROUND THE SEC
• Of Tennessee’s 69 offensive snaps vs. Florida, only 14 were running plays involving the Vols’ tailbacks. Tauren Poole and Marlin Lane combined for only 27 yards on those 14 attempts.
• Kentucky is averaging only 274 yards of offense, and it’s not as though the Wildcats have faced a difficult schedule. Western Kentucky, their Week 1 opponent, lost at home last weekend to Indiana State, 44–16. Central Michigan, UK’s Week 2 foe, lost at Western Michigan, 44–14, last weekend. And Louisville, which beat Kentucky in Lexington on Saturday night, has a loss at home to FIU on its resume.
• LSU has not lost a game by more than 10 points since November 2008, when the Tigers were pounded at home by Ole Miss, 31–13. Since that game, LSU has lost seven games by an average of 5.6 points.
• South Carolina’s Marcus Lattimore leads the nation in both rushing (178.0 ypg) and rushing attempts (87). Robbie Rouse of Fresno State is second in attempts with 80. In the SEC, Mississippi State quarterback Chris Relf is second with 56. Lattimore has 16 carries of 10 yards or more and five of 20 yards or more.
• Florida has only punted six times in three games.
• Alabama is the only team in the nation with two players averaging at least 100 yards rushing — Trent Richardson (105.0 ypg) and Eddie Lacy (101.3 ypg).
• The Auburn defense has been on the field for 273 plays, the most in the nation. Tulsa, at 265, is next on the list nationally. Mississippi State, at 211, is next in the SEC.
by Mark Ross
With save no. 602 on Monday, Mariano Rivera became major league baseball's career saves leader and further cemented his legacy as not only the game's greatest closer of all-time, but one of the best pitchers period. The New York Yankees right-hander passed Trevor Hoffman for the all-time saves mark, one that won't be broken any time soon, if ever. The active pitcher with the second-most saves is Francisco Cordero with 323 or 279 fewer than Rivera. And even though Rivera will turn 42 in November, he hasn't showed any signs of slowing down as evidenced by his 43 saves and 1.98 ERA this season.
Rivera is a 12-time All-Star and five-time World Series champion in his 17-year-career with Yankees. For his career, besides the 602 saves, Rivera is 75-57 with a 2.22 ERA, 1,108 strikeouts and just 274 walks in 1,209 innings pitched. He has pitched in 1,039 games, which is the most among active pitchers and ninth-most in baseball history and is the all-time leader in games finished (881).
His 2.22 career ERA places him 13th all-time among pitchers with 1,000 IP. For perspective, Hoffman's career ERA of 2.87 puts him 127th on the all-time list, while the lowest career ERA among active pitchers belongs to Tim Lincecum, whose 2.95 ERA ranks 155th and barely qualifies given his 1,016 career IP. In fact, among pitchers with 300 or more career saves, the second-best career ERA belongs to Hall of Famer Bruce Sutter (300 career saves), whose 2.83 career ERA is tied for 110th on the all-time list.
Rivera also is one of the stingiest pitchers in baseball history. Using WHIP (walks + hits/IP), which is a measure of a pitcher's ability to prevent batters from reaching base, as the gauge, Rivera's current 0.99 WHIP is second on the all-time list, according to Baseball-Reference.com. The only pitcher with a lower career WHIP is Hall of Famer Addie Joss, whose career ended in 1910.
Since becoming the Yankees' full-time closer in 1997, Rivera has been the definition of consistency. He has accumulated 30 or more saves in every season but one, and that came in 2002 when he had 28 saves in a season shortened by injuries. He has eight seasons of 40 or more saves and two (2001, '04) with 50 or more. He has finished in the top 5 in voting for the American League Cy Young five times, including second to Bartolo Colon in 2005.
As a closer, Rivera is certainly no stranger to late-inning, high-pressure situations, and his production and effectiveness during them is further evidence of his greatness. For his career, Rivera has saved 89 percent (602 of 674) of his save opportunities.
He has inherited a total of 350 runners in his career, meaning they were already on base when he entered the game, and he has only allowed 102 of them to score. That translates to a strand rate of 71 percent.
It's no surprise that the majority of Rivera's innings (872 1/3) have come in the 9th. In that inning alone, Rivera's career numbers are a 2.01 ERA, a .208 opponent's batting average, a .254 opponent's on-base percentage, a .281 slugging percentage and a microscopic 0.95 WHIP.
As impressive as Rivera's regular-season numbers are, he's been even more dominant in the postseason. He is the leader by far for career postseason saves (42) and games pitched (94), and he also holds the career marks for ERA (0.71) among pitchers with 30 IP in the postseason. His 139 2/3 IP are the most of any relief pitcher and tied for the seventh-most in postseason history, and his 109 strikeouts place him ninth all-time. He has a 8-1 career postseason record, has given up a total of two home runs in his 139 2/3 IP and has a microscopic WHIP of 0.77.
He has pitched in a total of 31 postseason series (15 AL Division Series, nine AL Championship Series and seven World Series) and was named the World Series MVP in 1999 and the ALCS MVP in 2003. And he will have the chance to add to these numbers as his Yankees are most likely headed to the postseason for the 16th time in his career.
Rivera along with Derek Jeter, is synonymous with the Yankee teams of the late '90s and 2000s that won those five World Series titles and he will go down in his career as one of the greatest to ever wear the famous Yankee pinstripes. In fact, the only part of the game where Rivera has fared poorly is at the plate. He's gone hitless in six career at bats (including postseason), although he did reach base once via a walk. So Babe Ruth he's not.
But like the Bambino, it's not a matter of "if" he gets into the Hall of Fame, it's only a question of when and will he be a rare first-ballot inductee, which is another perceived measure of greatness among baseball's elite.
As impressive as his resume and statistics are, it also should be pointed out that he pitched during what is considered the "Steroid Era," a time in baseball marked by prolific offense, not to mention the "live-ball" era, which make his numbers stand out even more. So regardless of what your opinion is when it comes to the debate of starting pitcher vs. relief pitcher as it applies to legendary status, the numbers speak loud and clear in the case of Mariano Rivera. He is unquestionably one of the greatest pitchers in baseball history.
By Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven on Twitter)
Post-Week 3 Big Ten Power Rankings
Check out all of our college football rankings.
1. Nebraska (3-0) – The Cornhuskers still aren’t hitting on all cylinders, but Saturday’s win over Washington was a step in the right direction. The Huskers’ defense has allowed over 400 yards in back-to-back games, but cornerback Alfonzo Dennard is getting closer to returning to the lineup. Nebraska travels to Laramie to take on Wyoming this Saturday.
2. Wisconsin (3-0) – The Badgers have turned in three sharp performances and should be 4-0 after playing South Dakota this Saturday. Although Wisconsin has looked very good and a case could be made they should be No. 1 in the Big Ten power rankings, Nebraska has the best win so far (Washington). Don’t worry, these two teams play on Oct. 1, which will decide who takes over the top spot in these rankings.
3. Illinois (3-0) – The Fighting Illini scored an impressive non-conference win in Week 3 by defeating Arizona State 17-14. Considering the upcoming schedule, Illinois could be 6-0 when Ohio State travels to Champaign on Oct. 15. Despite some key losses on defense, the Fighting Illini has allowed only 32 points through three games.
4. Michigan (3-0) – It wasn’t nearly as exciting as the Week 2 victory against Notre Dame, but the Wolverines improved to 3-0 with Saturday’s victory over Eastern Michigan. This ought to be an interesting week for new Michigan coach Brady Hoke, as the Wolverines take on his former team – San Diego State.
5. Michigan State (2-1) – After allowing only six points through the first two weeks of 2011, the Spartans gave up 31 in a loss to Notre Dame. Quarterback Kirk Cousins threw for 329 yards, but got little help from the rushing attack and offensive line. Michigan State takes on Central Michigan this week, before opening Big Ten play on Oct. 1 against Ohio State.
6. Ohio State (2-1) – The Buckeyes were thoroughly dominated in Saturday’s loss to the Hurricanes. The offense struggled to get anything going, while the defense couldn’t stop Miami running back Lamar Miller. Ohio State has slipped in the Big Ten power rankings over the last two weeks, but still has plenty of time to climb back to the top.
7. Penn State (2-1) – Saturday’s win over Temple wasn’t pretty, but it’s a victory and something for the Nittany Lions to build on. Neither quarterback (Rob Bolden or Matt McGloin) played well enough to provide some separation in the battle to be the No. 1 passer. With Eastern Michigan this Saturday, Penn State has another opportunity to iron out some of the kinks before Big Ten play begins.
8. Iowa (2-1) – The Hawkeyes looked sluggish for most of the game, but a furious fourth quarter rally propelled them to a win over Pittsburgh. Quarterback James Vandenberg threw for 399 yards and three scores in the victory and has only one interception this year. Iowa hosts UL Monroe this Saturday, which should be an easy tune-up before conference play starts on Oct. 8 at Penn State.
9. Northwestern (2-1) – Army is a difficult opponent to prepare for in a week, but is still an opponent the Wildcats cannot afford to lose to. Northwestern does not play in Week 4, but quarterback Dan Persa is expected to return for the Big Ten opener on Oct. 1 against Illinois.
10. Purdue (2-1) – After the loss to Rice in Week 2, the Boilermakers needed an easy victory to gain some confidence before Big Ten play starts. And that's exactly what they got on Saturday against Southeast Missouri State. Quarterback Robert Marve made his return to the field, completing 7 of 8 passes for 91 yards and one score. Saturday’s appearance was the first for Marve since tearing his ACL against Toledo last season.
11. Minnesota (1-2) – The Golden Gophers finally broke into the win column with Saturday’s 29-23 victory over Miami, Ohio. The team also got a boost from the return of coach Jerry Kill, who suffered a seizure in the final moments of the 28-21 loss to New Mexico State. Look for the Gophers to beat North Dakota State and move to 2-2 this Saturday.
12. Indiana (1-2) – New coach Kevin Wilson earned his first win in Bloomington with Saturday’s 38-21 victory over South Carolina State. The Hoosiers are making slow progress under Wilson, but still have a long way to go in order to challenge for a bowl. Indiana travels to Denton to take on North Texas this Saturday.
By Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven on Twitter)
Post-Week 3 SEC Power Rankings
Check out all of our college football rankings.
1. Alabama (3-0) – The Crimson Tide continue to reside atop the SEC power rankings. LSU has the best win among teams in the SEC (Oregon), but Athlon is projecting Alabama to play for the national championship. The Crimson Tide open SEC play with Arkansas this week, followed by a trip to Gainesville on Oct. 1.
2. LSU (3-0) – The Tigers aren’t the flashiest team, but just find ways to win games. Thursday night’s victory over Mississippi State was another example of that. The LSU defense kept the Bulldogs’ rushing attack in check, while the offense made timely plays through the air. The Tigers have another tough road trip ahead this week, traveling to Morgantown to take on undefeated and Big East favorite West Virginia.
3. Arkansas (3-0) – After three non-conference matchups, it’s time to see just how Arkansas stacks up in the SEC race. The Razorbacks' defense struggled with Troy on Saturday, which has to be a concern with Alabama running back Trent Richardson up next. If Arkansas wants to be a factor in the SEC West race, winning in Tuscaloosa is a must.
4. Florida (3-0) – Through three weeks, the Gators have looked like the most impressive team in the SEC East. Quarterback John Brantley isn’t posting big numbers, but turned in an efficient and effective performance against Tennessee. Running back Chris Rainey has been one of the SEC’s best players through three weeks, posting 520 total yards and four touchdowns on offense. The Gators face Kentucky on the road this Saturday, before a key two-game stretch against Alabama and LSU.
5. South Carolina (3-0) – Navy gave South Carolina all it could handle, but sophomore running back Marcus Lattimore proved to be too much to handle for the Midshipmen defense. Two concerns for the Gamecocks that continue to show up – pass defense and quarterback play. There’s a lot of time to sort out those issues, but South Carolina can’t afford to give Vanderbilt any help this Saturday.
6. Auburn (2-1) – All good things eventually come to an end. The Tigers 17-game winning streak was snapped in Saturday’s loss to Clemson. Auburn dodged a bullet with comebacks in the first two games of the year, but wasn’t able to rally in Week 3. The Tigers should get back on the winning side with a victory over FAU this week, but upcoming SEC games against South Carolina, Arkansas, Florida and LSU will be difficult.
7. Mississippi State (1-2) – The Bulldogs had a chance to score a marquee win for coach Dan Mullen on Thursday night, but fell just short, losing 19-6 to LSU. The Mississippi State offense never got on track, with quarterback Chris Relf only throwing for 96 yards and running back Vick Ballard held to 38 yards and no touchdowns. Look for Mississippi State to get back in the win column against Louisiana Tech this Saturday.
8. Georgia (1-2) – With all of the turmoil surrounding Mark Richt, Saturday’s win over Coastal Carolina provided some much-needed relief for the Bulldogs. The two-game stretch of Boise State and South Carolina was one of the most difficult starts for any team in college football, but despite the 0-2 start, Georgia could still win the SEC East. The Bulldogs should get their first conference win of the year against Ole Miss this Saturday.
9. Tennessee (2-1) – Saturday’s loss to Florida showed the Volunteers still have a lot of work to do to become a SEC East contender. Quarterback Tyler Bray tossed two picks, the rushing attack never got on track and the defense didn’t have an answer for Florida running back Chris Rainey. The Volunteers' offense suffered a huge blow in the loss, as receiver Justin Hunter suffered a torn ACL and is out for the year.
10. Vanderbilt (3-0) – Thanks to a 30-7 win over Ole Miss, the Commodores jump from No. 12 to No. 10 in this week’s power rankings. Could coach James Franklin reach a bowl in his first season in Nashville? With Army, Kentucky and Wake Forest remaining, it’s not out of the question.
11. Kentucky (2-1) – The Wildcats had a four-game winning streak to Louisville snapped on Saturday. Kentucky’s offense has struggled throughout 2011 and it finally caught up to the team against the Cardinals. The Wildcats have a tough three-game stretch upcoming, with Florida this Saturday, followed by road trips to LSU and South Carolina.
12. Ole Miss (1-2) – Losing to Vanderbilt isn’t bad, it’s just the manner in which it happened that is. The Rebels were dominated by the Commodores and a late touchdown was needed just to prevent a shutout. Coach Houston Nutt’s seat is beginning to get a little toasty, and one look at the schedule sees few guaranteed wins the rest of the way.
By Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven on Twitter)
Post-Week 3 ACC Power Rankings
Check out all of our college football rankings.
1. Florida State (2-1) – Coach Jimbo Fisher won’t accept moral victories, but there’s no shame in losing to one of the top teams in the nation. Florida State hung tough against Oklahoma, despite losing No. 1 quarterback EJ Manuel to a shoulder injury in the second half. The Seminoles can still finish as one of the top five teams in the nation and make a trip to a BCS bowl, but a road game at Clemson won’t be easy this Saturday.
2. Virginia Tech (3-0) – The Hokies moved to 3-0 with a 26-7 win over Arkansas State. Quarterback Logan Thomas had a so-so performance in Week 2 against East Carolina, but rebounded with 292 passing yards and two scores in the win over the Red Wolves. Virginia Tech has one more non-conference game on the schedule, traveling to Huntington to take on Marshall this Saturday.
3. Georgia Tech (3-0) – The competition hasn’t been great, but the Yellow Jackets have been one of the ACC’s most impressive teams through three weeks. The offense has posted at least 63 points in two contests and leads the nation with an average of 675.3 yards per game. Although Georgia Tech is off to a hot start, Saturday’s game against North Carolina should provide a better idea of how it stacks up in the ACC Coastal race.
4. Clemson (3-0) – Saturday’s win over Auburn was huge for coach Dabo Swinney. After sluggish performances in wins over Troy and Wofford, Clemson looked like a different team against Auburn. Quarterback Tajh Boyd looks more comfortable in the offense, completing 30 of 42 passes for 386 yards and four scores in Saturday’s win. Freshman Sammy Watkins has been the real deal and has emerged as Boyd’s go-to receiver. Can the Tigers carry the momentum from the victory over Auburn into Saturday’s game against Florida State?
5. Miami (1-1) – The Hurricanes win over Ohio State was one of the most impressive final results of Week 3. Miami running back Lamar Miller showed why he is one of the top emerging playmakers in college football, gashing the Buckeye defense for 184 yards on 26 attempts. The Hurricanes host Kansas State this Saturday, followed by Bethune-Cookman in Week 5.
6. Maryland (1-1) – Despite a furious rally in the final two quarters, the Terrapins fell short of winning their first game against West Virginia since 2004. Quarterback Danny O’Brien is one of the best in the ACC, but did not have his best performance on Saturday. The sophomore completed 34 of 52 throws, but tossed three interceptions. The Terrapins will be on upset alert against Temple this Saturday.
7. North Carolina (3-0) – The Tar Heels kicked off ACC play with a 28-17 win over Virginia. North Carolina has struggled against Virginia in recent years, losing four out of the last five in this series before Saturday’s win. Quarterback Bryn Renner continued his solid play, completing 15 of 21 throws for 143 yards and two scores. Is North Carolina a contender for the ACC Coastal title? We should get a better idea of how the Tar Heels stack up after Saturday’s game against Georgia Tech.
8. Wake Forest (2-1) – The Demon Deacons are riding a two-game winning streak and easily handled Gardner-Webb 48-5 on Saturday. Quarterback Tanner Price continues to show he is one of the most-improved passers in college football, throwing for 281 yards and two scores against the Bulldogs. Wake Forest travels to Boston College on Saturday and considering the struggles of the Eagles this year, the Demon Deacons could be 2-0 in ACC play after this week.
9. NC State (2-1) – The Wolfpack took care of business on Saturday, defeating South Alabama 35-13. NCAA rules allow only one win against FCS schools to count towards bowl eligibility, which means NC State will need seven victories this year, thanks to playing Liberty and South Alabama. Quarterback Mike Glennon is off to a solid start, completing 64.1 percent of his throws and tossing only interception through 92 attempts. The Wolfpack travel to Cincinnati for a Thursday night matchup against the Bearcats.
10. Virginia (2-1) – Mike London has Virginia going in the right direction, but it’s not quite ready to contend for a spot in the top tier of the ACC Coastal. The Cavaliers opened ACC play with a 28-17 loss to North Carolina on Saturday. If Virginia wants to go bowling, the next two games against Southern Miss and Idaho are must-wins.
11. Duke (1-2) – Bowl hopes took a hit with a loss to Richmond in Week 1, but the Blue Devils picked up a key conference win in Week 3. Duke knocked off Boston College 20-19, thanks to quarterback Sean Renfree's 359 passing yards. The Blue Devils last win at Boston College was in 1927. Duke should be favored to earn its second win of the year with Tulane coming to Durham this Saturday.
12. Boston College (0-3) – Where should we start? The Eagles are off to their first 0-3 start since 1991 and have the look of a team in disarray. Offensive coordinator Kevin Rogers took a leave of absence before last Saturday’s game against Duke, which leaves Dave Brock as the playcaller. Running back Montel Harris is still sidelined by a knee injury and after showing promise in the opener against Northwestern, the offense has managed only 22 points in its last two games. The Eagles should get into the win column against Massachusetts this week, but it could be a long year in Chestnut Hill.
By Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven on Twitter)
Post-Week 3 Pac-12 Power Rankings
Check out all of our college football rankings.
1. Oregon (2-1) – As the last two weeks have showed, the Oregon offense is hitting on all cylinders as Pac-12 play opens against Arizona this Saturday. The Ducks lead the Pac-12 in rushing, total and scoring offense. Running back LaMichael James seems to have found his rhythm, posting his best game of the year last week, rushing for 204 yards and three scores against Missouri State.
2. Stanford (3-0) – The Cardinal kicked off Pac-12 play with a convincing 37-10 win over Arizona. However, the victory came at a heavy price. Linebacker Shayne Skov suffered a knee injury and was lost for the year. Skov was one of the top defenders in college football and expected to contend for All-America honors in 2011. Stanford is off this Saturday.
3. USC (3-0) – After failing to finish in the second half during their first two wins, the Trojans finally put together a solid effort for all four quarters. Thanks to quarterback Matt Barkley’s five passing scores, USC was never really threatened by Syracuse. The Trojans hold an early lead in the Pac-12 South standings, but travel to Tempe to take on Arizona State this week.
4. Arizona State (2-1) – After beating Missouri on Friday night in Week 2, the Sun Devils looked ready for a breakthrough win against Illinois on the road. However, the Arizona State offense struggled to protect quarterback Brock Osweiler (seven sacks) and had three costly turnovers. Despite the loss to the Fighting Illini, the Sun Devils can jump back into the national spotlight with a win over USC this Saturday.
5. California (3-0) – As expected, Presbyterian didn’t provide much competition for the Golden Bears. However, it was another valuable tune-up before Pac-12 play begins with Saturday’s game against Washington. New starting quarterback Zach Maynard has played well through three starts, but this will be his biggest test in a California uniform.
6. Washington (2-1) – The rubber match between Nebraska and Washington went in favor of the Cornhuskers. However, there were positives to take away from the loss. Quarterback Keith Price continues to settle into the No. 1 role, completing 21 of 37 throws for 274 yards and four touchdowns. Washington opens conference play with an interesting matchup against California.
7. Utah (2-1) – One of the most surprising scores from Week 3 had to be Utah’s 54-10 blowout win over BYU. The Utes forced seven turnovers and got a big performance from running back John White, who rushed for 174 yards and three touchdowns. The Utes are 0-1 in Pac-12 play, but with a favorable schedule, this team can’t be counted out of the South Division race.
8. Arizona (1-2) – The Wildcats have some serious work to do over the next couple of weeks. After a 37-10 loss to Stanford on Saturday night, Arizona sits at 1-2 and faces Oregon and USC the next two weeks. The Wildcats offense has struggled to establish a rushing attack, especially with a young offensive line still trying to jell.
9. UCLA (1-2) – The 2011 season has not started off well for the Bruins. After a loss to Houston in the opener, the Bruins looked sluggish in a win over San Jose State and handled easily by Texas in Week 3. Rick Neuheisel needs to show improvement to keep his job at the end of the year, which is why Saturday’s contest against Oregon State is huge. If the Bruins want to go to a bowl, this is a must-win game.
10. Colorado (1-2) – Jon Embree earned his first win as Colorado’s head coach on Saturday, defeating in-state rival Colorado State 28-14. Running back Rodney Stewart has struggled to get on track this year, which is a result of lackluster play by the offensive line. The Buffaloes travel to Columbus to take on Ohio State this Saturday, before opening up Pac-12 play against Washington State in Week 5.
11. Washington State (2-1) – The Cougars were on the doorstep for a 3-0 start, but allowed San Diego State to score 28 unanswered in the second half to claim a 42-24 victory. Washington State is clearly making progress under coach Paul Wulff – but will it be enough to save his job at the end of the year?
12. Oregon State (0-2) – The Beavers had a much-needed bye in Week 3. After a disappointing loss to Sacramento State in the opener and a blowout loss to Wisconsin in Week 2, Oregon State needs to find some answers before Saturday’s game against UCLA. Receiver James Rodgers has been out since last October with a torn ACL, but could return to the lineup this week.
Some of the players listed in Athlon Sports' NFL Fantasy Football Waiver Wire Week 3 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.
Go Get McCluster
We already told you about adding Dexter McCluster in last week's Waiver Wire story. So if you haven't already, then go do so, particularly in PPR leagues.
The Chiefs followed up losing their best defensive playmaker, DB Eric Berry, to an ACL injury last week, by losing their best offensive player, RB Jamaal Charles, to the same injury on Sunday. It is the third ACL injury to a Chiefs starter this summer — TE Tony Moeaki tore his in preseason Game No. 4.
Kansas City has to be scrambling to find any player that will be productive on offense after scoring 10 points combined in the first two weeks. On the defensive end, it has allowed 89 combined points, and will probably perform the same for the rest of the season.
In steps McCluster. He can be a pass catcher out of the backfield, a traditional running back — although one that can't carry a heavy workload — and can give those in return yardage leagues a boost as well.
If there's a back to add from the Jamaal Charles fallout, it needs to be McCluster. Thomas Jones and Le'Ron McLain may score the occasional goal line touchdown, but I think McCluster has the best chance to touch the ball the most, and the upside to do something with it each time.
Andy Dalton, Cincinnati
The Bengals are built to run but don't do it very well. Still, opposing defenses will respect that and that means opportunities for the rookie QB to get the ball to fellow rookie target A.J. Green, one of this week's key pick ups Jerome Simpson and inconsistent but always dangerous TE Jermaine Gresham. Dalton threw for 332 and two scores against a banged up Bronco defense. So maybe Week 2 was an outlier, but he gets back-to-back home games against terrible pass Ds in San Francisco and Buffalo, travels to equally terrible Jacksonville and then gets Indianapolis at home. If you're struggling at QB, you could do worse than Dalton.
Ryan Fitzpatrick, Buffalo
If he wasn't stashed on your roster already, he should be. He's the fifth-best scoring QB in Athlon's scoring format (61.48) through two weeks. He has thrown for 472 yards, seven scores and just one turnover. He has a group of no-names at receiver, but it works for the Bills. Buffalo plays New England next week, a team that he can throw against whether the Bills are winning or losing, then it's Cincinnati, Philadelphia and the Giants before the Week 7 bye. He has proven reliable even with low-yardage numbers thanks to the seven TDs. If you're still holding onto Peyton Manning or Matt Cassel or Alex Smith, Donovan McNabb and maybe even Josh Freeman, Fitzpatrick is a better option.
Blaine Gabbert, Jacksonville
The rookie is probably a stash and hope play, but he could get the nod this week against a struggling Carolina defense. Could he debut like his Carolina counterpart Cam Newton did? That is highly unlikely. However, he has a solid offensive line, a great running back and a great possession receiver at his disposal. If TE Marcedes Lewis can return from a calf injury that sidelined him in Week 2, Gabbert could turn into an OK bye week QB. Keep in mind, the Jaguars will probably be trailing by the time they step off the bus each week, giving Gabbert more opportunities — which also means more turnover opportunities, but take the bad with the potential good.
Matt Hasselebeck, Tennessee
If the running game is going to continue to struggle, then Hasselbeck will keep airing it out. Teams still have to respect the run with Chris Johnson back there despite his struggles, so the passing game will always have potential. Hasselbeck has one of the game's best young receivers in Kenny Britt (14-271-3 TDs in the first two weeks), a sneaky receiver in Nate Washington (13-166 in the first two weeks) and an inconsistent but still threatening TE in Jared Cook (3-44 in the first two weeks).
Colt McCoy, Cleveland
He may not throw for a lot of yard (averages 212 ypg), but he has big targets to work with. TEs Evan Moore (4-51-2 scores) and Benjamin Watson (5-61-2 scores) are two of his favorites in the red zone so far. He also has rookie Greg Little (5-50) at receiver and RB Peyton Hillis (10-53) is a solid pass-catching threat. All four have size and potential around the end zone that can pay off for McCoy owners. Miami, Tennessee, Oakland, Seattle and San Francisco are all appetizing pass defenses he will face over the next six weeks.
Mike Kafka, Philadelphia
Mike Kafka stepped in for Michael Vick, completed 7-of-9 passes for 72 yards and had the Eagles in position to score late in the game against the Falcons (a Jeremy Maclin drop ended the drive). He knows the offense well, doesn't have the greatest of arms, but has a helluva trio of playmakers around him. RB LeSean McCoy, WRs DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin can make anyone look good, and then there are WRs Jason Avant, Steve Smith, TE Brent Celek and backup RB Ronnie Brown. The weapons are there for Kafka to have success if Vick were to miss any time due to his "slight" concussion.
Roy Helu, Washington
This is probably a pick up you need to make to get ahead of the rest of your league. Helu got 13 touches in Sunday's win over Arizona — 10-for-74 rushing and 3-for-38 receiving. This is an increase from the one the rookie saw in Week 1, and it was because starter Tim Hightower "got a little bit tired," according to coach Mike Shanahan. A little bit tired? Hightower has carried the ball 45 times this season for an average of 3.7 yards per carry and just one score, while Helu averages 6.9 on 11 carries and 8.2 on his 14 touches altogether. Shanahan has never been afraid to run with the hot hand and stick with him once that change is made. Helu has the goods as a big-play back, both as a rusher and receiver. Dallas, St. Louis, Philadelphia, Carolina and Buffalo are on the schedule next, and Helu could make some noise in each game.
Willis McGahee, Denver
He should already be on a roster on your team, preferably yours. McGahee was expected to chip away at Knowshon Moreno's production this season, if not get the majority of it all along. The Moreno injures his hamstring, opening the door for McGahee. The 2003 first-round pick responded with 101 yards, a touchdown and one catch for five yards Sunday against Cincinnati. Regardless of whether Moreno comes back next week against Tennessee or not, McGahee is a reliable flex option, if not starter. The Broncos have rough run-game opponents on the horizon (Tennessee, Green Bay and San Diego), but Kyle Orton and Co. should have enough juice in the passing game to keep team's honest and enable McGahee to get his.
DeMarco Murray, Dallas
Felix Jones played nearly the entire San Francisco game with a shoulder injury, an injury that has his status up in the air for Week 3's Monday night game against Washington. Also injured are Miles Austin (hamstring), Dez Bryant (quads), Jason Witten (ribs) and Tony Romo (ribs). The Dallas secondary is a mess as well thanks to injuries. You would love to think the team could lean on its backfield to lengthen offensive possessions, but it is 31st in the league currently at 54.5 rushing yards per game. Murray would be the add in my eyes if you had to pick either the rookie or Tashard Choice. The team obviously drafted Murray because its faith in Choice has wavered — if there ever was any. He adds the pass-catching dimension along with being the bigger back at 6-0, 227. The upside lies with Murray.
Ben Tate, Houston
He has to be on a roster in your league at this point, right? If not, go get him. Arian Foster sat out the second half Sunday because his hamstring tightened up. Coach Gary Kubiak followed on Monday by saying Tate will carry the load right now. Here's where the problem lies for the Texans' run game: They get New Orleans, Pittsburgh, Oakland, Baltimore and Tennessee over the next five weeks. All five have the potential to shut down the run, but the Houston passing game may be able to open up some breathing room for its running backs. Either way, Tate needs to be either a flex play right now or the best handcuff in the game.
Daniel Thomas, Miami
Oh, the other rookie running back. Remember when the debate was whether Daniel Thomas or Mark Ingram would have the better rookie season? Well, maybe it wasn't a debate many were having, but I picked Thomas in the summer. He finally made his debut with 18 carries for 107 yards and one catch for 10 yards in a 10-point loss to Houston. Meanwhile, Reggie Bush carried six times for 18 yards and caught one ball for three yards. Was this a wake-up call by the Dolphins that Bush isn't an inside runner? It certainly wasn't a case of seeing what the rookie had because Miami was out of the game — it was a three-point Dolphin lead until 10 minutes remained. Miami needs to get win No. 1 of the season this week, and it travels this week to Cleveland, 24th against the run at 124 yards per game. Thomas should get the nod as the bell cow once again, and any player that can get a consistent 18-20 touches, and is not in Seattle, needs to be on fantasy rosters.
Nate Burleson, Detroit
He's the No. 2 passing option for a team that LOVES to pass. Lions QB Matthew Stafford has already attempted 72 passes for 599 yards (an average of 12.7 yards per completion). Burleson has caught 12 of them for 153 yards. He will continue to get looks opposite Calvin Johnson, and should be on your roster now.
Eric Decker, Denver
He performed well last year when he finally hit the field after a Lisfranc injury, a ligament tear where the first two toes are held in place. Decker averaged 17.7 yards on six catches with a score; he has picked up right where he left off. On Sunday, Decker caught five balls for 113 yards and two scores. He now has eight catches for 166 yards and two TDs this season. He also has opportunity. Brandon Lloyd (hamstring) did not play on Sunday as a late scratch and Eddie Royal (groin) was injured during the game. Decker had no problem sliding in and making the most of his chances. He is big receiver at 6-3, 218, and his only knock would be that he has fumbling issues — four fumbles, two lost in nine career games played so far.
A.J. Green, Cincinnati
OK, the Broncos were banged up on the defensive side, particularly no Champ Bailey. But 10 catches for 124 yards and a score? C'mon. The debate between which rookie WR would have the better season — Julio Jones in Atlanta or Green — is in full effect after Sunday's performance. And it was quite a bounce back for Green after just having one catch in his debut — even though it went for 41 yards. He was targeted 14 times (FOURTEEN!) on Sunday. If he was somehow not drafted in your league, please, go get him now.
Johnny Knox, Chicago
Roy Williams was out with a groin injury. Earl Bennett left with a bruised chest. Devin Hester led the Bears receivers with nine targets but pulled in just one catch. So Knox, last year's leading receiver for the Bears, may actually have relevance again for the team. He had six targets in the loss to New Orleans, catching two of them for 45 yards. Expect his role to increase if the injuries and lack of production from the position continues to mount.
Chad Ochocinco, New England
He may not know the offense yet. He may not have had many opportunities. But that can change starting this week with the news that Aaron Hernandez (MCL) will miss one-two weeks. Tom Brady has plenty of targets to choose from and you never know who will get the call, but after 940 yards of passing the first two weeks, anyone that has pulse for the Patriots and is supposed to catch the ball is worth a flier.
Kevin Ogletree or Jesse Holley, Dallas
Miles Austin has the hamstring injury and could miss time. Dez Bryant is battling a quad injury and did miss Sunday's game. The hero of the 49ers game was reality show winner Jesse Holley. And then there's Kevin Ogletree, who started in place of Bryant. Holley got three targets, catching all three for 96 yards, including a 77-yard pass in overtime to setup the game-winning field goal. Ogletree had four targets, catching two passes for 50 yards, including a 33-yard reception. Neither will be too hot off the waiver wire, and you should be able to afford waiting on news of Austin or Bryant before deciding which replacement receiver to pick. If Ogletree got the start, I would lean toward him.
Jerome Simpson, Cincinnati
After a ridiculously quiet preseason, Simpson, who was a stud late, late last season, has emerged. He caught four of nine targets for 44 yards in the opener, and then caught four of nine targets for 136 yards on Sunday against Denver. How often will Andy Dalton attempt 41 passes? Who knows. But he did on Sunday and Simpson was the second-leading target behind A.J. Green's 14. Plus, with Jordan Shipley now on IR, the Bengals' passing options become clearer. Simpson could be overlooked as every one rushes to the wire to add Decker, Burleson, a QB and a replacement for Jamaal Charles.
Nate Washington, Tennessee
He was targeted 11 times in Tennessee's win over Baltimore Sunday. That followed seven targets in Week 1. Washington has turned that into 13 catches for 166 yards. He has become option 2 for a Titans team that is not used to this whole passing thing, but will certainly continue to do it if defenses let them and the run game continues to struggle.
Fred Davis, Washington
He can move around all over the field and has been a good option for Rex Grossman. Davis followed up his five-catch, 101-yard, one-touchdown in the opener with six catches for 86 yards and a score in Week 2.
Tony Gonzalez, Atlanta
He is still the safety valve for Matt Ryan, and if that safety valve is in the red zone that means good news for fantasy owners. Gonzo is relevant again with nine targets, seven catches for 83 yards and two scores Sunday night. That follows a 5-for-72 Week 1 performance.
Click here for all of our fantasy football rankings each week.
— Corby A. Yarbrough @AthlonCorby on Twitter
Here's a recap of how Athlon Sports Week 2 Start or Sit suggestions worked out.
After Ray Rice made me look like a fool in Week 1, scoring 28.9 points as the Unexpected Sit of the Week, Chris Johnson relished the role in Week 2. Going up against Rice and the Baltimore Ravens, CJ had just 65 total yards and three catches — good for eight fantasy points. He gets the Broncos this week, so the number might improve, but the Steelers beckon in Week 4, and he should find himself right back on your fantasy bench.
For the Sneaky Start of the Week, St. Louis slot receiver Greg Salas, the rookie filling in for the injured Danny Amendola, had a number of opportunities from the slot position, like I figured he would. However, he was not able to find much running room with those opportunities. Salas got eight targets, caught four of them for 27 yards, the longest being 17 yards. He also fumbled a punt in the first quarter.
This is how I work out fantasy football scoring in my mind: I want to average 16 points from my QBs, RBs, WRs and Flex and average 10 points from my TEs, Ks and DSTs. It rarely works that way, but if you could get the skill spots to average 16 and the other three to average 10, that's 132 points in a 1 QB, 2 RB, 2 WR, 1 FLX, 1 TE, 1 K, 1 DST setup; it's a score that should win you most weeks.
So if a player scored at least 16 or 10, I consider it a good start; if he scored less than that, it's a good sit.
Week 2 Accuracy
(according to the 16 & 10 average theory)
Starts called correctly: 10 of 19
Sits called correctly: 14 of 19
Total correct: 24 of 38 (63 percent)
Season Total: 43 of 76 (57 percent)
Sneaky Start of the Week
Greg Salas, WR, STL at New York Giants — 4 catches, 27 yards, 29 return yards, 1 lost fumble on a punt return (5.4 fantasy points)
Unexpected Sit of the Week
Chris Johnson, RB, TEN vs. Baltimore — 53 yards, 3 catches, 12 yards receiving (8.0)
Eli Manning (NYG) vs. St. Louis — 200 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT (16.8)
Rex Grossman (WAS) vs. Arizona — 291 yards, 2 TDs, 2 INTs (19.14)
Matthew Stafford (DET) vs. Kansas City — 284 yards, 4 TDs, 1 INT (33.86)
Cam Newton (CAR) vs. Green Bay — 432 yards, 1 TD, 3 INTs, 53 yards rushing, 1 TD (28.58)
Matt Ryan (ATL) vs. Philadelphia — 195 yards, 4 TDs, 2 INTs (28.4)
Colt McCoy (CLE) at Indianapolis — 211 yards, 1 TD, 10 yards rushing (15.44)
LeGarrette Blount (TB) at Minnesota — 71 yards, 2 TDs (19.1)
Peyton Hillis (CLE) at Indianapolis — 94 yards, 2 TDs, 4 catches, 23 yards receiving (24.7)
James Starks (GB) at Carolina — 85 yards, 3 catches, 30 yards receiving (13.0)
Maurice Jones-Drew (JAC) at New York Jets — 88 yards, 3 catches, 19 yards receiving (12.2)
DeAngelo Williams (CAR) vs. Green Bay — 13 yards, 4 catches, 23 yards receiving (5.6)
Fred Jackson (BUF) vs. Oakland — 117 yards, 2 TDs, 2 catches 23 yards receiving (27.0)
Mario Manningham (NYG) vs. St. Louis — 3 catches 56 yards (7.1)
Jacoby Jones (HOU) at Miami — 3 catches, 48 yards, 36 return yards (7.2)
Emmanuel Sanders (PIT) vs. Seattle — 2 catches, 44 yards, 15 yards passing (6.2)
Mike Thomas (JAC) at New York Jets — 3 catches, 29 yards (5.4)
Steve Smith (CAR) vs. Green Bay — 6 catches, 156 yards (20.6)
Austin Collie (IND) vs. Cleveland — 3 catches, 24 yards (3.9)
Owen Daniels (HOU) at Miami — 3 catches, 25 yards, 1 TD (10.0)
Tony Gonzalez (ATL) vs. Philadelphia — 7 catches, 83 yards, 2 TDs (24.8)
Jermaine Gresham (CIN) at Denver — 2 catches, 8 yards (1.8)
Jared Cook (TEN) vs. Baltimore — 2 catches, 37 yards (4.7)
Zach Miller (SEA) at Pittsburgh — 3 catches, 28 yards (4.3)
Anthony Fasano (MIA) vs. Houston — 0 catches (0.0)
David Akers (SF) vs. Dallas —1 FG (50-plus), 3 PATs (8.0)
Josh Brown (STL) at New York Giants — 3 FGs, 1 PAT (10.0)
Billy Cundiff (BAL) at Tennessee — 2 FGs (1 40-plus), 1 PAT (8.0)
Rob Bironas (TEN) vs. Baltimore — 4 FGs (1 40-plus), 2 PATs (15.0)
Dan Carpenter (MIA) vs. Houston — 2 FGs (1 40-plus), 1 PAT (8.0)
Josh Scobee (JAC) at New York Jets — 1 FG of 50-plus (5.0)
Detroit Lions vs. Kansas City — 22 fantasy points (Ranked 1st)
Houston Texans at Miami — 14 fantasy points (Ranked tied for 6th)
Washington Redskins vs. Arizona — 8 fantasy points (Ranked 12th)
Chicago Bears at New Orleans — 3 fantasy points (Ranked 24th)
San Diego Chargers at New England — 0 fantasy points (Ranked 32nd)
San Francisco 49ers vs. Dallas — 6 fantasy points (Ranked 17th)
Athlon Sports Default 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.
1 point for 40 return yards
Defense/Special Teams Scoring
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
PATs = 1 point
39 yards and under = 3 points
40-49 yards = 4 points
50-59 yards = 5 points
60+ yards = 6 points
— Corby A. Yarbrough @AthlonCorby on Twitter
Tony Gonzalez, TE, Falcons
With all eyes on quarterbacks Michael Vick and Matt Ryan, it was the 35-year-old future Hall of Fame tight end Gonzalez who stole the show in Atlanta on Sunday night. The 15-year veteran had seven catches for 83 yards and two acrobatic TD receptions — the 89th and 90th of his illustrious career — during an especially sweet 35–31 victory over the Eagles.
Tom Brady, QB, Patriots
The three-time Super Bowl champion completed 31-of-40 passes for 423 yards, three TDs and zero INTs in a 35–21 win over the Chargers, one week after passing for 517 yards, four TDs and one INT in a 38–24 victory against the Dolphins. So far this season, Brady has completed 71.6 percent of his passes for 940 yards — a new NFL record for Weeks 1 and 2 combined — seven TDs and one INT with a 128.0 passer rating and a 2–0 record. If Brady keeps up this pace for 16 games, he’ll throw for 7,520 yards, 56 TDs and eight INTs.
Kenny Britt, WR, Titans
It didn’t take long for new Titans quarterback Matt Hasselbeck to find his go-to receiver. The 6'3", 215-pound Britt was a one-man offense — hauling in nine catches for 135 yards and one score — during a shocking 26–13 upset win over the rival Ravens. Hasselbeck finished the game with 358 yards through the air, the seventh highest total of his 13-year career. Meanwhile, after an offseason full of controversy, Britt has 14 catches for 271 yards and three of the Titans’ four total TDs this season.
Charles Woodson, CB, Packers
Panthers rookie quarterback Cam Newton recorded his second straight 400-yard passing game but the No. 1 overall pick was also schooled by a few veteran moves from fellow Heisman Trophy winner Woodson. The former Defensive Player of the Year had five tackles, two INTs and one forced fumble — while Pack safety Morgan Burnett added seven tackles, one sack, an INT and a forced fumble — during a closer-than-anticipated 30–23 win at Carolina.
Tony Romo, QB, Cowboys
One week after losing two costly fourth-quarter turnovers in a season-opening loss to the Jets, Romo bounced back to lead the Cowboys to a 27–24 overtime victory over the 49ers. The scapegoat-turned-hero returned to the field after suffering a franctured rib and punctured lung, completing 20-of-33 passes for 345 yards, two TDs and zero INTs in a winning effort. “I know what he had to do to get back on the field,” said Cowboys owner Jerry Jones. “But, boy, did he come back. That was inspirational.”
-by Braden Gall (@AthlonBraden on twitter)
Each week, Athlon will bring college football fans the most interesting, bizarre and thought-provoking statistics from the weekend of action.
335: Number of carries South Carolina sophomore Marcus Lattimore has in 15 career games (the Florida State game was not counted as he left in the first quarter after one rushing attempt). He averages over 22 carries per game in his career.
1,732: Rushing yards in Lattimore's first 15 career games - good for over 115 yards per game for his career. He is currently leading the nation in rushing with 534 yards at a 178 yards/game clip.
27: Total touchdowns scored by Lattimore in his first 15 career games.
40: Number of Sean Renfree completions this weekend in a road win over Boston College — which tied a single-game school record.
12.1: The new NCAA record for team yards per carry in a single game set by Georgia Tech this weekend (50 rushing attempts). The previous record was 11.9 set by Alabama in 1973 against Virginia Tech.
604: New Georgia Tech single game rushing record after the 50-attempt performance against Kansas this weekend. The Jackets also set a school record with 768 total yards of offense as well.
0: Number of Yellow Jacket players who carried the ball at least 10 times this weekend. The team ran the ball 50 times for 604 yards and seven touchdowns.
26.3: Yards per touch in 2011 for Georgia Tech's Orwin Smith. He has 421 yards from scrimmage on 16 total touches. Smith has scored five times already.
17: Number of total completions by Georgia Tech quarterback Tevin Washington so far in 2011. He has 637 yards passing and seven touchdowns on those 17 completions.
2004: The last time the Florida Gators lost to SEC East rival Tennessee Vols. The Gators have won seven straight in the series.
10 and 155: Clemson single-game freshman receptions and receiving yards records set this weekend by dynamic frosh wideout Sammy Watkins.
624: School record for total yards by Clemson against an SEC opponent set by the Tigers this weekend in their 38-24 win over Auburn. It was Clemson's first win over the Tigers since 1951 (0-14).
87: Total offensive snaps in the first half of the Clemson-Auburn game. Six of them came after the offense huddled.
49-0: The halftime score of the Cincinnati-Akron showdown this weekend. The Zips have been outscored 142-17 in 2011 so far.
40-0: Utah outscored BYU 40-0 in the second half of the Holy War this weekend. Utah won 54-10.
31: Number of consecutive non-conference wins for the Wisconsin Badgers.
29: Number of consecuative wins Penn State claims over Temple. It's the longest active streak by any FBS team over another FBS team.
282: Rushing yards by Minnesota quarterback MarQuies Gray in his last two games under center.
1: The number of times both Mississippi State and LSU have been ranked when they played. It took them 105 games before both were ranked for the first time in the 19-6 LSU win on Thursday night.
5: Zach Stoudt interceptions against Vanderbilt in the 30-7 loss in Nashville.
40-2: Kellen Moore's win-loss record as a starter at Boise State. He is five away from Colt McCoy's NCAA record for wins by a starting QB.
107-21: Moore's career touchdown-to-interception ratio in 42 career games for Boise State. Moore threw for 455 yards and five scores in the Broncos' 40-15 win over Toledo.
Nov. 10: The day the NCAA will watch Case Keenum eclipse Timmy Chang's career passing yards record of 17,072 if he maintains his current 2011 pace of 373 yards per game. He has 14,705 career yards.
3,602: Career rushing yards by Oregon's LaMichael James — now two yards ahead of Boston College's Montel Harris as the active NCAA leader in rushing.
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Is the Big 12 College Football's Best Conference?
Week 2: College Football Boxscore
The Green Bay Packers and Carolina Panthers had to put victory on hold late in their Week Two match-up on Sunday as Packers' safety Nick Collins lay motionless on the floor of Bank of America Stadium.
The Pro Bowl safety was carted off the field after making a diving attempt to tackle Panther running back Jonathan Stewart in the fourth quarter of the 30-23 win over Carolina. His head appears to strike Stewart's thigh and bounced off the turf before he finally came to rest face down.
Collins was able to give a wave to the fans, players and coaches as he left the field. He spent the night in a North Carolina hospital after sustaining a head and neck injury. CT scans were negative and Collins has all movement and feeling in all of his extremities.
Collins, a 2005 second round pick who has played in 95 of his possible 97 career games, hasn't missed a game since 2007.
Head coach Mike McCarthy began his Monday press conference with the news that Collins will miss the remainder of the 2011 season. The safety arrived in Green Bay about 1 PM Monday afternoon and McCarthy said it was "too early in the evaluation process" to determine if Collins would need surgery.
The hard-hitting safety who normally plays through pain is the second member of the Super Bowl champion's secondary to go down with a serious injury in as many weeks. The star of the postseason, Tramon Williams, was hurt in Week One against New Orleans and was unable to play this weekend. Charlie Peprah entered the game and will take any snaps that Collins misses. He played most of 2010 in place of injured rookie safety Morgan Burnett - who was lost for the season in Week Four last season.
Green Bay has allowed 800 yards passing - good for last in the NFL at 400 yards per game.