Articles By Athlon Sports

All taxonomy terms: Dallas Mavericks, NBA
Path: /nba/mark-cuban-makes-conference-realignment-proposal
Body:

The NBA’s Eastern Conference is bad, very bad — while its Western Conference is just the opposite. By season’s end, we might be facing a record-shattering competitive discrepancy between the league’s two halves. At time of publication, the Indiana Pacers’ ugly 8-10 start would have them in the East playoffs, while a superior 8-8 start from the off-the-radar Denver Nuggets has them tenth in their conference, outside of the postseason picture.

Understood in terms of point differential, the gap between the conferences is like this: The West has 10 teams who average more points than they give up, while the East has just five. Something, many believe, needs to be done about how much harder life is beyond the Mississippi, and you can count Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban among them.

"It's not like it'd be the first time we've ever realigned," Cuban said to ESPN’s Tim MacMahon. "It's happened many times before, so there's precedent and I just think it shakes things up and makes things interesting. It's not like you're reducing competition. You keep Cleveland, Washington and other good teams in the East. It kind of shakes things up in terms of not just interest but also in terms of how people rebuild. It just changes things up and it changes the thought process of a lot of teams. It makes both conferences very competitive, at least for the short term and I think, based on the history of the teams, for the long term as well.

"I did the trial close right here," Cuban said about his plan, which would ship his Mavericks — along with the New Orleans Pelicans and Houston Rockets — to the East while the Pacers, Chicago Bulls, Detroit Pistons and Milwaukee Bucks would come west. "Then it'll turn into headline porn and then we'll see the response.”

 

— John Wilmes

@johnwilmesNBA

Teaser:
Post date: Tuesday, December 2, 2014 - 15:01
All taxonomy terms: College Basketball, News
Path: /college-basketball/embattled-indiana-coach-tom-crean-enters-critical-week
Body:

Lucky for Tom Crean, the tumultuous offseason is over. Crean and the Indiana Hoosiers can breathe a little easier, for the time being, and concentrate strictly on basketball.

Just three weeks ago, Crean was feeling the pressure from an IU fan base starved for a sixth national title banner to hang in Assembly Hall. Or at least an Indiana program back in the NCAA Tournament after a one-year absence.

Instead, Bloomington had controversy.

Back then, the news that freshman forward Emmitt Holt had been driving a car that hit sophomore teammate and that both players were drinking underage led to an outcry for a changing of the guard in Bloomington. Police said Holt, 18, was not responsible for the accident and was below the legal blood alcohol limit, but the Nov. 1 incident was the latest in a series of off-court incidents involving Crean’s players.

After 17 wins and missing the postseason altogether in 2013-14, many called for IU athletic director Fred Glass to turn up the heat on Tom Crean. With the most recent string of off-court issues, the change in temperature may be justified.


Glass gave Crean his vote of confidence when he told the Indianapolis Star earlier in the month that Crean “is the solution, not even part of the problem.” The vocal majority was skeptical at best of a coach who failed to capitalize on the No. 1 team in the nation two years ago.

While the clamor for Crean’s job has diminished with the start of the season, Indiana faces a critical week to set the tone for the remainder of the season. The Hoosiers already have been on both sides of an upset, defeating a ranked SMU team on Nov. 20 and losing at home to Eastern Washington on Nov. 24.

IU’s next tests begin this week when the Hoosiers host Pitt in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge today and face Louisville at Madison Square Garden on Dec. 9.

 

Those will be tall tasks for this Indiana squad, but Glass could be right in assuming that Crean is part of Indiana’s solution. Crean has dug Indiana out of a mess before. Seven years ago, when Crean was hired, the program faced NCAA sanctions from the Kelvin Sampson scandal.

The vast majority of the state’s top recruits had been overlooking IU for years, and the roster was riddled with failing grades, drug abuse allegations, nothing but walk-ons, and a lame duck interim coach in Dan Dakich.

In 2012, Crean helped deliver Indiana’s first Big Ten title in 20 seasons, back-to-back Sweet 16 appearances and a No. 1-ranked team. For a time, Indiana was back among the elites.

Crean resurrected the program, recruiting players who succeeded academically and athletically. Last season, Indiana posted a perfect APR and received the APR Public Recognition Award for four consecutive years of academic excellence.

That counts for something, right?  

 

Crean will have at least a season to deliver results, but what constitutes a success is open to interpretation. Athlon picked the Hoosiers eighth in the Big Ten and slotted them into the NIT, not a banner season by Indiana standards. Yogi Ferrell is one of the top point guards in the league, but his supporting cast is in question.


The arrival of freshmen James Blackmon Jr. and Robert Johnson addressed the need for shooters and floor spacers the Hoosiers desperately lacked last season.

With sophomore sniper Collin Hartman returning from an ACL tear, and the arrivals of freshman Max Hoetzel and Illinois State transfer Nick Zeisoft, Indiana won’t be short on deep threats. In Indiana’s first six games they are averaging 9.7 3-pointers per game while shooting 43.6 percent from deep. Blackmon alone is shooting 57.1 from behind the arc.

The loss of big men Noah Vonleh to the NBA Draft and Luke Fischer to Marquette is Crean’s biggest issue, leaving the Hoosiers looking and playing like a run-and-gun Big East roster in the meat and potatoes Big Ten.

Rebounding and post defense are going to be the biggest areas of concern for the Hoosiers, especially in conference play.

Unfortunately for Crean, the frontcourt woes have been magnified by the rash of off-court issues.

Six-foot-nine forward Hanner Mosquera-Perea, who was arrested in February for DUI, is Crean’s most experienced true post player and averaging only 4.7 rebounds and 8.2 points so far this season against inferior competition. Sophomore forward Troy Williams, who was suspended four games for a second failed drug test, will be asked to play out of position and help solidify the post for Indiana this season.  


Yet Crean has done enough in his tenure at Indiana to give him a chance to dig the Hoosiers out of their current predicament. Whether Indiana misses the tournament for a second straight year or surprises every college basketball prognosticator in America and goes dancing, Crean has earned the right to clean up this mess. He’s done it before.

 

-by Jacob Rose

Teaser:
Embattled Indiana Coach Tom Crean Enters Critical Week
Post date: Tuesday, December 2, 2014 - 14:30
All taxonomy terms: Charlotte Hornets, Lance Stephenson, NBA
Path: /nba/charlotte-hornets-are-already-shopping-lance-stephenson
Body:

Michael Jordan’s Charlotte Hornets started out their first year with their new/old moniker on an exciting, “buzzy” note. Since then, it’s been nothing but downhill.

Currently on a nine-game losing streak, the Hornets are lost. And many have speculated that their maverick off-season acquisition is a big part of their new malaise. Lance “Born Ready” Stephenson is, by all accounts, a handful as a personality in the locker room, and the Hornets have appeared ill-equipped to wrangle him in recent days. So much so that their front office is already considering moving the mercurial shooting guard. Here’s the word from the wire, via Grantland’s Zach Lowe:

“The Hornets are searching for upgrades on the wing and at power forward, per those sources, and they are willing to talk turkey on basically anyone other than Kemba Walker and Al Jefferson. Free agents signed this past offseason can't be traded until December 15, and few would be surprised if the Hornets make and take calls on Lance Stephenson ahead of that trigger date.

“The Hornets viewed Stephenson as a dose of perimeter dynamism for a plodding offense built around Walker's pick-and-roll work and Professor Al's post-up trickery. The 2013-14 version of that offense didn't really have a third leg — a creative off-the-dribble threat waiting on the weak side when smart defenses snuffed out the good stuff. Stephenson didn't promise to solve Charlotte's fatal spacing issues, but with Indiana he was an average 3-point shooter and a bullying rim attacker on the pick-and-roll.

“It hasn't worked. ... Stephenson is an easy scapegoat, and that's partly his own doing. His body language has been horrible, and that degrades morale. He pouts when he doesn't get the ball on the weak side, flapping his wings and looking skyward as if his teammates have wronged him. He steals rebounds, and he hot dogs with the ball at times.”

While a deal involving Stephenson is unlikely at this premature moment, a few more weeks of losing and bad P.R. for Charlotte could push the needle to “move now” territory quickly. Stay tuned for updates.

 

— John Wilmes

@johnwilmesNBA

Teaser:
Post date: Tuesday, December 2, 2014 - 10:33
All taxonomy terms: Gerald Green, Phoenix Suns, NBA
Path: /nba/phoenix-suns%E2%80%99-gerald-green-alley-oops-himself-video
Body:

When it comes to reborn players, Gerald Green is near the top of the genre. The 28-year-old was selected No. 18 overall, straight out of high school in Houston, by the Boston Celtics. He followed that with a six-team stretch that saw him struggle to find minutes or a defined NBA role. The extreme, eye-popping athleticism that got him into the league without any NCAA action appeared to be languishing by the 2012-13 season, when he played a reserve role with the Indiana Pacers and averaged less than 12 minutes per game in their playoff run.

Things have been different with the Phoenix Suns, though. Under the leadership of head coach Jeff Hornacek — last year’s runner up for Coach of the Year honors — Green’s springy style has blossomed. Watch as he creates one of our early season’s chief highlights last night, ooping it to himself for an emphatic finish against the Orlando Magic:

Green is now an indispensable rotation player for his team, running all over the floor in the Suns’ uptempo system and liberally shooting 3-pointers at a 38 percent clip. He pairs with tiny dynamo Isaiah Thomas to make the Suns’ second unit nearly as devastating as their turbo-charged starters, led by the two-headed guard monster that is Eric Bledsoe and Goran Dragic.

Green’s memorable flourish, this time, unfortunately came in a Phoenix loss. The Suns dropped the game 93-90 to the young, feisty Magic, who were led by the combined 39 points and 18 rebounds of Nikola Vucevic and Tobias Harris. The Suns also got a chance to say hello to an old ally — Channing Frye, a floor-stretching big man who provided invaluable veteran resolve to last year’s 48-win Suns squad, which narrowly missed the Western Conference playoffs.

 

— John Wilmes

@johnwilmesNBA

Teaser:
Post date: Monday, December 1, 2014 - 15:19
Path: /nba/nba-weekend-recap-westbrook-returns-bulls-roll-raptors-lose-derozan
Body:

The Oklahoma City Thunder’s race back into playoff contention began in earnest over the weekend, as Russell Westbrook returned from a hand injury to lead his team to a dominant, morale-boosting 105-78 victory over the New York Knicks. Westbrook controlled the game thoroughly in every moment he was in it, tallying 32 points on 12-of-17 shooting to go with eight rebounds and seven assists. He was the best player on the floor, and it wasn’t close. Russ’s emphatic dunk early on said pretty clearly that the Thunder are a frightening foe once again:


Reigning MVP Kevin Durant was still watching from the sidelines, excitedly cheering on his Thunder and looking like he badly wanted to join them. Durant’s been practicing with the team, so it’s only a matter of weeks before he returns. It’s a fun time to be an OKC fan: The team suffered greatly without its stars — going just 4-10 — but it’s still early enough for their hole to be manageable. A mere five-game deficit in the standings separates them from the conference’s eighth playoff seed.

Over in the Eastern Conference, Westbrook’s buddy Derrick Rose found rhythm with his Chicago Bulls. Behind the All-Star level play of Jimmy Butler and the out-of-hibernation mania of Joakim Noah, Rose and the Bulls beat the Boston Celtics and Brooklyn Nets over the weekend to finish their annual circus road trip with a 4-3 mark despite a litany of injuries to key players.

The Bulls now sit near the top of the Eastern Conference, where there may be a vacancy soon. During a 106-102 home loss to the Dallas Mavericks, the Toronto Raptors lost shooting guard DeMar DeRozan, who suffered a torn tendon in his left groin, as reported by ESPN and AP. The Raptors currently lead the East with a 13-3 record, but having DeRozan (arguably their best player) out for an indefinite period of time will make it hard for them to keep pace.

 

— John Wilmes

@johnwilmesNBA

Teaser:
Post date: Monday, December 1, 2014 - 10:01
Path: /college-football/wisconsin-hopes-establish-dominance-big-tens-new-era
Body:

It does not matter which division you put them in, as the Wisconsin Badgers just have a knack for playing for the Big Ten championship game. In the four years the Big Ten has held an organized championship game, Wisconsin will be making their third appearance in Indianapolis this week. Perhaps it is time to respect Wisconsin as one of the top programs in the conference - if we have not done so already.

 

When the Big Ten expanded to 12 teams and opened the doors to a conference championship, many were quick to suggest the game would be dominated on a regular basis by Ohio State and Michigan. Perhaps this will be true over a longer period of time, but Michigan has yet to play in the game and Ohio State is making just its second appearance in part due to one year of a postseason ban. The Buckeyes came up short in their first Big Ten championship game trip a season ago, losing to Michigan State. Now, without quarterback J.T. Barrett, the Buckeyes must find a way to slow down a red-hot Wisconsin running game, with their own Heisman candidate running back Melvin Gordon leading the devastating charge.

 

For Wisconsin, this is an opportunity to proclaim once more to be the team to beat in the Big Ten. Though the Badgers have seen plenty of success in the Big Ten over the last few years, the state of the Big Ten continues to be measured on a national scale based heavily on the status of Ohio State and Michigan. Wisconsin had a chance to change that slightly with a season-opening game against LSU, but the Badgers saw that win in Houston slip away in the second half. Now is a time for some redemption with a third Big Ten title in four years.

 

As it turns out, Wisconsin is being shown some respect heading to the Big Ten Championship Game. Not only have the Badgers climbed the rankings enough to hang just outside the top ten in the major polls, but Wisconsin has been tabbed the betting favorite heading to the Big Ten title game. The injury to J.T. Barrett carries some influence in that betting line for sure, but Wisconsin will issue no apologies for that situation.

 

Winning an outright championship was a rarity in the Big Ten until the introduction of the Big Ten championship game. No school other than Ohio State or Michigan has ever won three outright conference championships in a four-year span. Minnesota did it when the Big Ten was known as the Western Conference with just nine members (Michigan State had not joined the conference yet and Chicago was in its final days as a conference member). If it happened before the Allies claimed victory in World War II, it does not count for much in today’s game. Perhaps the Badgers are looking to establish dominance in the new era of the conference.

By Kevin McGuire (@KevinonCFB)

Teaser:
Wisconsin Heads Into Big Ten Championship With Opportunity
Post date: Monday, December 1, 2014 - 09:00
Path: /college-football/indiana-rb-tevin-coleman-caps-underrated-season-2036-rushing-yards
Body:

Running backs made a strong return to prominence in the 2014 college football season, and no other conference saw running backs take the spotlight the way the Big Ten did. Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon and Nebraska’s Ameer Abdullah entered the season as two of the most recognized running backs in the country, and more than lived up to the hype. With Gordon and Abdullah in the conference, it was easy to overlook the work done by Indiana running back Tevin Coleman. Coleman may be the nation’s most overlooked running back.

 

Two running backs rushed for 2,000 yards this season. Gordon at Wisconsin you already know. The Badgers running back leads the nation with 2,260 yards and he has a shot at the single-season rushing record with a Big Ten championship game and bowl game still to play. The other 2,000-yard rusher this season is Indiana’s Coleman, and his rushing total may be even more impressive.

 

Indiana’s offense was dealt a blow with various injuries this season, which put the pressure to keep the offense doing anything squarely on the shoulder pads of Coleman. He was up to the task, running for 100 yards in all but one game this season. He rushed for 228 yards and three touchdowns against Ohio State and 132 yards against Michigan State. Though the Hoosiers were unable to string together enough wins to go to a bowl game, it was not for a lack of effort from Coleman. He just needed more of a supporting cast or a defense to get to the postseason.

 

Those who watch Big Ten football may be much more familiar with Coleman, but in a year that seemed to be heavy on running back depth in the Big Ten, missing out on hapless Indiana and their running back star must have been common for the casual college football fan. The Big Ten will see Gordon fly to New York as a Heisman Trophy finalist and Nebraska’s Abdullah is a household name. The Big Ten also saw Jeremy Langford be a big piece of top 10 Michigan State’s offense all season long. Minnesota’s David Cobb also had an impact for a Gophers team making a push for a division title. Coleman’s biggest flaw was playing on a losing team, which is often the case for talented players most people may not know much about.

 

If Coleman returns to the Hoosiers in 2015, he will no longer be flying under the radar. Running backs may have had a strong season in college football, but the importance of the running back has taken a hit in the NFL Draft. Maybe that will be enough to keep Coleman in Bloomington for another year. If so, then Kevin Wilson’s offense will have a valuable piece to work with in 2015.

By Kevin McGuire (@KevinonCFB)

Teaser:
Indiana RB Tevin Coleman Caps Underrated Season With 2,000 Rushing Yards
Post date: Sunday, November 30, 2014 - 16:30
Path: /college-football/california-trending-right-direction-under-sonny-dykes
Body:

California ran into a brick wall on its path to the postseason in 2014, but the program appears to be in solid hands with head coach Sonny Dykes.

 

Cal ended its 2014 season sitting on five wins, one win shy of becoming bowl eligible for the first time since 2011. The first season under Dykes may have looked like a mistake with just one win to celebrate in 2013, but Dykes has shown Cal has potential to compete in the Pac-12 using his coaching style and system. It just took some time for that to become a reality.

 

The difference one season under Dykes made was undeniable. In his first season at Cal, the Bears ranked last in the Pac-12 in scoring with just 23.0 points per game in 2013. That matched the 2012 scoring average of Cal, but the win total went down in the process as Dykes took over. No team in the Pac-12 improved its average scoring output in 2014. The Bears finished the season ranked second in scoring average, behind only Oregon, with an average of 38.3 points per game.

 

As expected, Dykes has used the passing game to lead his program. When Dykes took over, the Bears improved from ninth to third in the Pac-12 in passing offense, adding about 121 passing yards per game in 2013 compared to 2012. This season the Bears added even more to the passing game with 346.0 passing yards per game. Only Washington State and Mike Leach’s pass-happy offense had more passing yards per game. Cal may not be running the ball as much as it did before Dykes was named the head coach, but the running game did improve this season compared to 2013. The Bears rushed for nearly 150 yards per game this season, up from 123.7 ypg in 2013. More importantly, California more than doubled its rushing touchdown total in 2014, going from just 10 in 2013 to 22 in 2014.

 

Next season, Cal should be in line for a bowl trip if everything continues to develop the way it has this season. Sophomore quarterback Jared Goff will return an experienced junior with nearly 4,000 passing yards and 35 touchdowns to just seven interceptions in 2014. Leading receivers Kenny Lawler, Stephen Anderson, Chris Harper and Bryce Treggs could all be back as targets next season as well. Throw in a potential senior running back in Daniel Lasco, with his 1,115 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns, and the ingredients of a healthy and potent offense are in place. There will be a couple of holes to fill on the offensive line, but Dykes is going to have an offense that will be ready to take the next step in 2015. If the defense can start to improve the way the offense has, getting to six wins should easily be within reach next season.

 

Cal’s defense allowed a Pac-12 worst 39.8 points per game in 2014. With four losses decided by one score, Cal does not need to be Stanford on defense to get back to the postseason. Trimming just five points from two losses would have resulted in two more wins. Cal is close to being a bowl team, and this is the first step. At Cal, the focus will not be on winning a Pac-12 title, or even a Pac-12 North title, but a step in the right direction. Dykes is leading Cal in the right direction.

By Kevin McGuire (@KevinonCFB)

Teaser:
California Takes a Step Forward in 2014
Post date: Sunday, November 30, 2014 - 15:50
All taxonomy terms: ACC, College Football, NC State Wolfpack, News
Path: /college-football/nc-state-shows-progress-dave-doerens-second-year
Body:

NC State added about a touchdown per game to its scoring average. At the same time, it trimmed three points off its defensive scoring average. The result? An increase of four wins and a bowl trip in Dave Doeren’s second season in Raleigh.

 

Year two under Doeren got off to a solid start, although it took advantage of a weak non-conference schedule. The Wolfpack picked up wins out of the gate against Georgia Southern, Old Dominion, South Florida and Presbyterian. A 4-0 start is always nice, regardless of the competition, but it was not until a home date with Florida State in late September we got a true glimpse of the potential NC State would come to show off this season. NC State caught Florida State sleeping in Raleigh, but as so many teams have found out this season, putting Florida State to sleep for good is an incredibly difficult task. NC State showed plenty of firepower, but Florida State had just a little bit more in a 56-41 decision.

 

It looked as though NC State had already hit a wall. A week after the wild setback against the Seminoles, the Wolfpack were shutout on the road at Clemson, 41-0. Two more double-digit losses in ACC play to Boston College and Louisville appeared to drop NC State back to some reality that Doeren had plenty of work to still do. As it turned out, that is when NC State did get to work.

 

NC State forced three turnovers in a road win at Syracuse. Another setback against ACC Coastal champion Georgia Tech followed, but NC State finished on quite the high note in the regular season. The Wolfpack blew away Wake Forest to clinch bowl eligibility, and wrapped up the regular season with another in-state blowout victory against North Carolina, 35-7. Any time a North Carolina school can go undefeated against in-state opponents, it is a cause for celebration.

 

There is no question Doeren is leading NC State down a positive path, although there is much work to be done before making any plans to challenge Florida State, Clemson and perhaps Louisville for the Atlantic Division. Ending the season with a bowl victory would be nice, but the focus on 2015 should already begin.

 

NC State will lose a bunch of talent from the starting offense, and perhaps more if some juniors leave with a year of eligibility remaining. The defense will look to fill a bunch of holes as well. Playing in a bowl game can help give new faces some extra reps to prepare for the future, and that should not be overlooked. NC State looks to be heading to a rebuilding year, but it does not have to be if Doeren’s Wolfpack make the most of extra bowl practices and the bowl game.

By Kevin McGuire (@KevinonCFB)

Teaser:
NC State Shows Progress in Dave Doeren's Second Year
Post date: Sunday, November 30, 2014 - 15:20
All taxonomy terms: College Football, News
Path: /college-football/legends-poll-top-8-college-football-rankings-week-14
Body:

The Crimson Tide stayed at No. 1, with eleven first place votes. Alabama started slow against Western Carolina but trudged to a victory, 48-14.

 

No. 2 FSU slipped past Boston College on a last second field goal 20-17. The Seminoles came in with two first place votes and stay undefeated. They have a 27-game win streak.

 

Oregon maintained the 3 spot in the poll, as they continued to roll for another blowout, 44-10, against Colorado. The Ducks have won six straight games since losing to Arizona.

 

Vandy proved no contest for the No. 4 Mississippi State Bulldogs. The Commodores got shellacked 51-0.

 

Baylor beat Oklahoma State 49-28, TCU was idle, and Ohio State struggled past Inidiana 42-27. Those three teams come in ranked at No. 5 through No. 7, with Georgia staying at no. 8 after easily destroying Charleston Southern 55-9.

 

Next weekend will be what is always the most exciting of the year … Rivalry Weekend. The Iron Bowl in Alabama, the Egg Bowl in Mississppi, the Civil War in Oregon, and the Florida-FSU game could provide the biggest shake up in the top 4 this coming week.
 

RKTEAMRECORDPOINTSPV RK
1AlabamaAlabama (11)10-11021
2Florida StateFlorida State (2)11-0862
3OregonOregon10-1783
4Mississippi StateMississippi State10-1724
5BaylorBaylor9-1467
6TCUTCU9-1385
7Ohio StateOhio State10-1326
8GeorgiaGeorgia9-2118

To see the individual votes by coach, visit the Legends Poll.

Teaser:
Post date: Friday, November 28, 2014 - 08:00
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy, News
Path: /fantasy/college-fantasy-football-week-14-fantasy-value-plays
Body:

DraftKings has released their Daily Fantasy college football salaries for the week, and the experts at CollegeFootballGeek.com have hunkered down and scoured all of the data to find the best Value Plays on the docket. 

These Value Plays are comprised of players poised to out-produce their DraftKings salaries this week.  These are the “diamonds in the rough” that your DFS competitors may overlook.  They are the difference-makers you need in your lineup to win one of the big DFS contests!

For your convenience, we have broken the picks down by DraftKings contest game set. Best of luck this week!

(For more detailed Daily Fantasy analysis, picks, player news, player rankings, and stat breakdowns, check out
CollegeFootballGeek.comLearn how to SUBSCRIBE FOR FREE!)

**********


VALUE PLAYS: FRIDAY GAME SET
 

 

QUARTERBACKS

 

1)    QB Justin Holman, UCF vs. USF ($5400)

Holman could have a very nice game against a weak South Florida defense. We would expect to see Holman account for a few scores in this contest.

 

2)    QB Dane Evans, Tulsa vs. ECU ($6900)

Evans has had some big games this year and this week could be another one against ECU. The Pirates defense gives up plenty of big plays and Evans has the weapons to take advantage. Expect Evans to toss a few scores in this one.

 

 

RUNNING BACKS

 

1)    RB Kenneth Farrow, Houston vs. SMU ($5800)

Farrow scored four times last week against Tulsa and could duplicate those numbers versus SMU this week. The Mustangs defense is down right awful and could yield plenty of opportunity for Farrow to find pay dirt.

 

2)    RB William Stanback, UCF vs. USF ($4900)

Stanback missed last week due to injury, but returned to practice and should play this week. He could easily score a couple of times against this Bulls defense.

 

3)    RB Mark Weisman, Iowa vs. Nebraska ($4800)

Weisman has scored 14 rushing touchdowns this season and could add a couple to that total against Nebraska. The Huskers run defense is a sieve right now and is allowing huge running plays.

 

 

 WIDE RECEIVERS

 

1)    WR Bud Sasser, Missouri vs. Arkansas ($4800)

Sasser has scored five times in the past four games. He is the top target for Missouri and comes in at a lower price. Look for Sasser to have a productive game and reach value.

 

2)    WR Breshad Periman, UCF vs. USF ($4700)

Perriman has scored a receiving touchdown in each of the last five games. He could easily make it six in a row versus the Bulls. Look for Perriman to beat USF deep at least once.

 

3)    WR Jared Dangerfield, Western Kentucky vs. Marshall ($4600)

Dangerfield has scored three times in the last two weeks and is getting no respect with his pricing. He could have a big game in what could be a shootout with Marshall. Look for “Rodney” to hit value this week.



VALUE PLAYS:  SATURDAY (EARLY ONLY) GAME SET

QUARTERBACKS

 

1)    QB CJ Brown, Maryland vs. Rutgers ($6400)

Brown may run all over this Scarlet Knight defense. He could easily run for a couple of scores and add another one through the air. Expect Brown to post a nice stat line on Saturday.

 

2)    QB Jacoby Brissett, NC State vs UNC ($5200)

This one is all about the match up. The Tar Heels defense is simply horrible and Brissett could have a big fantasy day. He could be an excellent punt option this week.

 

3)    QB Reggie Bonnafon, Louisville vs. Kentucky ($4900)

Bonnafon has scored three rushing touchdowns in the last two games. He gets a solid match up with a struggling Kentucky defense. Expect Bonnafon to reach value this week.

 
 

RUNNING BACKS

1)    RB Buck Allen, USC vs. Notre Dame ($6300)

Allen has struggled a bit recently, but comes in at a very low price considering his potential. He could carve up this Notre Dame defense that is playing awful over the past month. Take advantage of Buck’s low price this week.

 

2)    RB Devin Chafin, Baylor vs. Texas Tech ($5800)

Chafin has scored seven rushing touchdowns in the last three games and is getting a steady dose of carries. Expect Chafin to find the end zone again this week against a lousy Red Raiders rush defense.

 

3)    RB TJ Logan, UNC vs. NC State ($4900)

Logan is averaging 104 yards rushing and a score over the past two games. He draws a very appealing match up with a soft NC State defense. Look for Logan to have another productive afternoon.

 

4)    Robert Martin, Rutgers vs. Maryland ($4700)

Martin seems to have taken over the Rutgers backfield and could have a nice stat line against a Maryland team that is defensively challenged. Look for Martin to approach 100 yards on the ground and add a score.

 

 

WIDE RECEIVERS

 

1)    WR Devin Lauderdale, Texas Tech vs. Baylor ($5200)

Lauderdale has scored three times in the last two games, which coincides with the insertion of Patrick Mahomes at the QB position. Look for Lauderdale to be targeted early and often against Baylor.

 

2)    WR Mike Williams, Clemson vs. South Carolina ($4800)

Williams could receive a boost this week with the expected return of DeShaun Watson under center. He also has a very nice match up with a South Carolina defense that has struggled all year long.

 

3)    WR Shane Wynn, Indiana vs. Purdue ($4700)

Wynn is averaging 106 yards receiving over the last two games and could tear up a miserable Purdue defense. He could find the end zone this week as well.

 

4)    WR Jalin Marshall, Ohio State vs. Michigan ($4400)

Marshall is becoming a big time playmaker for Ohio State. He had 95 yards receiving and four total scores last week against Indiana. Expect him to make more big plays against Michigan.

 

  

TIGHT END

1)    TE Dan Vitale, Northwestern vs. Illinois ($3100)

Vitale had 43 yards and a touchdown last week and could put together another solid game versus Illinois.

 

 

VALUE PLAYS:  SATURDAY (LATE ONLY) GAME SET

 

QUARTERBACKS

 

1)    QB Blake Sims, Alabama vs. Auburn ($6700)

Sims could have a huge game against an Auburn defense that is softer than a wet paper bag. Look for Sims to make plenty of big plays and rack up the yards and scores.  

 

 

RUNNING BACKS

  

1)     RB TJ Yeldon, Alabama vs. Auburn ($5100)

Yeldon sat out last week and should be ready to roll in the Iron Bowl. Look for TJ to come out ready to play and easily reach value this week.

 

2)    RB Don Jackson, Nevada vs. UNLV ($5100)

Jackson had a stinker last week, but could bounce back nicely against UNLV. The Rebels rush defense has allowed 34 rushing touchdowns on the season and is ranked 123rd in the country.

 

3)    RB Dwayne Washington, Washington vs. Washington State ($4900)

Washington has back-to-back games with over 100 yards rushing and has scored three times in those games. He could find plenty of room to run in the Apple Cup game with Washington State.

 

 

WIDE RECEIVERS

 

1)    WR Jordan Villamin, Oregon State vs. Oregon ($5300)

Villamin is averaging 23.55 DK fantasy points over the last four contests. He appears to be priced way too low compared to his recent production. Look for this Beaver to have an excellent game in the Civil War.

 

2)    WR Bruce Natson, Utah State vs. Boise State ($5600)

Natson is averaging 23.68 DK fantasy points over the past four games and is also receiving carries out of the backfield. Look for his impressive streak to continue against the Broncos on Saturday night.

 

3)    WR Marcus Kemp, Hawaii vs. Fresno State ($5100)

Kemp had 114 yards and a score last week against UNLV. He has another juicy match up with Fresno State this week. The Bulldogs rank 100th in the country against the pass.

 

 

TIGHT END

 

1) TE Cam Serigne, Wake Forest vs. Duke ($3400)

Serigne is one of the better DFS tight ends and has been playing very well recently. He could find more success against Duke.



**********

By Todd DeVries & Kevin Mount, CollegeFootballGeek.com


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Teaser:
College Fantasy Football: Week 14 Fantasy Value Plays
Post date: Thursday, November 27, 2014 - 09:00
Path: /nba/what-we-are-thankful-2014-15-nba
Body:

Let’s not beat around the bush: We love the NBA. That’s why we’re here. And in lieu of any game action tomorrow — football’s time to shine as the turkey’s tryptophan tricks us to sleep — we’ll have to subsist on the memory of some of the season’s most heart-warming trends. What are we thankful for through the beginning of the 2014-15 season?

Boogie Cousins and the surging underdogs, the Sacramento Kings
The 9-5 Kings have been the league’s most fun team this November. Their collection of written-off ballers has been the David raging against the collective media’s Goliath-sized doubt about them, and their endearing chemistry is an essential part of their cache. Check out DeMarcus Cousins and Omri Casspi flaring some of that love on the bench:

Anthony Davis
Anthony Davis is the future of the NBA. The 21-year-old Chicago native has long been regarded as a future MVP candidate, but after his stint with Team USA this summer, The ‘Brow is jumping into headlines sooner than many expected. It’s still early in the season, but right now it’s an easy call: Davis is the best player in the league, and watching him is a singular joy. Watch him prove it in this recent 40-point performance against the Utah Jazz:


The Lakers and Knicks are both terrible
My apologies if you reside in — or root for — one of the nation’s two biggest basketball markets. But for myself and everyone else in between, the schadenfreude that the burning rubbish of these two franchises grants us is richer than the pumpkin pie that follows the feast. New York and L.A. are a combined 7-22; yikes. Enjoy the failure while it lasts.

Nate Robinson
I think this Vine of lil’ Nate speaks for itself:

— John Wilmes

@johnwilmesNBA

Teaser:
Post date: Wednesday, November 26, 2014 - 13:43
Path: /overtime/nba-recap-kings-down-pelicans-steph-curry-goes-crazy-more-d-rose-drama
Body:

Led by 22 points and 12 rebounds from DeMarcus “Boogie” Cousins, the Sacramento Kings improved to 9-5 on the season by beating Anthony Davis and the New Orleans Pelicans, 99-89, at the Smoothie King Center in Louisiana last night.

Considering that the Kings beat the Pellies without their No. 2 man Rudy Gay, it might be safe to say this was something of a statement game. Boogie and Davis, both, are the best young big men in the game, and they’re also both trying to lead their teams from mere Western Conference fodder into genuine playoff contention. In the ongoing (and fascinating) tug of war between the two teams — which last saw N.O. take a 106-100 victory in Sacramento, just a week ago — the Kings now stand proudly.

The Kings’ Northern California suite mates, meanwhile, took care of business all the way over in America’s swampiest appendage, downing the Miami Heat 114-97 behind Stephen Curry’s 40-point explosion, which included 8-of-11 shooting from three-point land. Watching Curry do his thing at top volume is one of the greater joys of the modern game, so I’m just going to leave this here:

Fellow point guard mega-star Derrick Rose wasn’t having the same luck as Curry up in the woozy altitude of Denver, as the Chicago Bulls fell 114-109 to the Nuggets. Rose left the game at halftime, citing discomfort with his recently tweaked hamstring. Given that the team was playing on a back-to-back and Rose’s body is prone to breakdowns anyway, resting him was probably the wisest course available. But that won’t stop the endless, Rose-centric idiot wind from storming through the net for today, tomorrow, and forevermore.

 

— John Wilmes

@johnwilmesNBA

Teaser:
Post date: Wednesday, November 26, 2014 - 10:20
Path: /nba/nba-recap-cavs-bounce-back-derrick-rose-returns-melo-injured
Body:

LeBron James called his Cleveland Cavaliers team “fragile” over the weekend, after they hit a new low by losing a fourth-straight game. The Cavs haven’t proved they’re tough and playoff-ready, by any means. But at least that streak is over now. Cleveland dominated the young Orlando Magic wire-to-wire last night, pulling out a 104-76 victory behind James’ 29 points, 11 assists, four rebounds and three steals. That’s what MVPs do: They snap you out of a funk, straightening out a whole squad seemingly on their own. 

Derrick Rose used to do such work the Chicago Bulls, but lately the Windy City’s lucky just to see their star point guard take the floor. After missing four games with a tweaked hamstring, Rose returned to action against the Utah Jazz last night to help the Bulls eke out a win in Salt Lake City after blowing a 19-point lead. Chicago played Rose for just 25 minutes, clearly still uneasy about the health of their game-changing star. Until the stakes are truly high, you can expect the team’s approach to favor preserving Rose’s fragile body, regardless of what his critics might say.

The New York Knicks were put in a position to understand Chicago’s plight last night, as Carmelo Anthony left the court with back spasms toward the end of a 91-86 road loss to the Houston Rockets. ESPN's Ian Begley reported that 'Melo went to a Houston hospital to receive medication for the pain, but Anthony’s status is otherwise unknown at this moment. Stay tuned for updates. 

But Rockets counterpart James Harden continued to prove, in this contest, that he deserves mention in the MVP category himself. Racking up a season-high 36 points to go with six rebounds and six steals, Harden closed the Knicks by scoring his team’s last 12 points and widened the gap to let Clutch City breathe easy. If the Rockets are to survive Dwight Howard’s recent knee injury — which has led to some serious rebounding and rim-protection problems — it’ll be because of The Beard simply won’t let them lose.

 

— John Wilmes

@johnwilmesNBA

Teaser:
Post date: Tuesday, November 25, 2014 - 13:42
All taxonomy terms: Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, NBA
Path: /nba/kevin-durant-russell-westbrook-back-practicing-oklahoma-city-thunder
Body:

It’s been a weird season for the Oklahoma City Thunder. Preseason speculation had them atop of the league, fighting for a second Western Conference title and their first NBA championship. Reigning MVP Kevin Durant’s foot injury — a Jones fracture — cast doubt on those hopes, but by no means dashed them. When Russell Westbrook left the team’s first game of the season with a hand injury, things got even dimmer.

Next came injuries to Reggie Jackson, Anthony Morrow, Perry Jones III, Andre Roberson and Jeremy Lamb. The “Zombie Thunder” have been a collection of overstretched players; basketball journeymen thrust into roles they couldn’t have possibly imagined a 59-win team would’ve handed them. Kendrick Perkins has been asked to score — yikes — in an offense regularly led by Sebastian Telfair, a point guard who wasn’t even in the league last season. 

Now 3-12, the Thunder have the worst record in their conference. Only the comically bad, winless Philadelphia 76ers are at a lower spot in the standings. The Thunder have dug themselves quite a hole to get out of.

Good thing the cavalry’s on the way, then. According to Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman, the Thunder’s dual superstars are now participating in the majority of team practices. Westbrook could return as soon as Friday, when OKC hosts the New York Knicks. “They looked good,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said when asked about Durant and Westbrook. “But no more than that. They’re going to continue to go through this process, and when they’re ready, 100 percent ready, they will play. But until then, nothing else we know of.”

At the end of the day, the berserk Western Conference is arguably no easier or more difficult for a team whether their postseason berth comes with a No. 1 seed or a No. 8 seed. Every matchup is tough. And the Thunder, lucky them, are talented enough to beat any team in a seven-game series (home court or not) if they’re healthy. The challenge now is for them to play nearly perfect basketball for four months, just to get to those playoffs.

 

— John Wilmes

@johnwilmesNBA

Teaser:
Post date: Tuesday, November 25, 2014 - 10:27
All taxonomy terms: NBA
Path: /nba/nba-racing-toward-legalized-gambling
Body:

Earlier this month, new NBA commissioner Adam Silver penned a New York Times op-ed called “Legalize and Regulate Sports Betting.” The column was exactly what its title would lead you to believe it was. Silver highlighted the ongoing mega-industry of sports betting — a mixture of illegal activity and tricky maneuvering through legislation made possible by the internet — and called for professional sports leagues to take hold of the phenomenon for themselves, and bring it into daylight.

“There is no solid data on the volume of illegal sports betting activity in the United States,” Silver wrote, “but some estimate that nearly $400 billion is illegally wagered on sports each year.” Silver also noted that things are different — and, by implication, more reasonable — abroad: “Outside of the United States, sports betting and other forms of gambling are popular, widely legal and subject to regulation. In England, for example, a sports bet can be placed on a smartphone, at a stadium kiosk or even using a television remote control.”

Silver’s voice is one thing, but now a louder one is joining in. Over the weekend, Mark Cuban echoed his commissioner’s sentiments. “I agree 100 percent," Cuban told reporters before his Dallas Mavericks fell to the Houston Rockets. ”I think we're the world's biggest hypocrites when we say, 'Oh, we don't want you betting on our games,' and then we get all excited about the sports betting line and people go to Vegas on trips won from the NBA or NFL. 

“I mean, it's hugely hypocritical. I just think that Adam did the exact right thing. I think by focusing on the federal regulations and making the changes there, that it will change. It's just a question of when. I think over the next three to five years, it will change. And it'll be interesting to see how the NFL reacts as well, because they've still so far said that they're adamant against it because I guess they have data that says the NFL doesn't benefit from gambling.”

Now, who wants to throw down on some over/unders about Cuban’s suggested timeline?

 

— John Wilmes

@johnwilmesNBA

Teaser:
Post date: Monday, November 24, 2014 - 14:07
Path: /nba/nba-weekend-roundup-cavs-struggle-ad-explodes-more-bulls-injuries
Body:

The Cleveland Cavaliers have now lost four games in a row. Nobody thought it was going to be easy for the quickly assembled super squad to find their rhythm — but no one thought they’d falter this badly out of the gate, either. Now 5-7 on the season, LeBron’s squad showed all the classic symptoms of losing basketball in their two weekend losses to the Washington Wizards and Toronto Raptors. Dropping the games by an average deficit of 15, they looked lost on both sides of the ball as rookie head coach David Blatt continued to have little impact on James and the rest of his stars.

The 2010-11 Miami Heat didn’t get off to a great start either, but the pandemonium about their beginnings was centered around a mere 9-8 record. They were criticized for not destroying everyone; not for failing to meet the standards of competence. 

James had already clocked significant Team USA minutes with Heat teammates Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, while there’s a lot more work to be done with Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love, both of whom seem confused and overwhelmed by the demands of winning basketball. How much longer can Cleveland stumble without general manager David Griffin making some moves?

Meanwhile, Anthony Davis continued to prove himself as this season’s best player. In a 106-94 victory over the Utah Jazz on Saturday, the New Orleans Pelicans big man poured in a career-high 43 points, also collecting 14 rebounds on the night. Davis is up to a preposterous 35.91 player efficiency rating over 36.6 minutes per game, and if he can hover near those figures for the rest of the season, there’s little doubt he’ll win the MVP award.

The Chicago Bulls’ former MVP Derrick Rose continued to sit and nurse his hamstring as his team limped into losses against the Sacramento Kings and Portland Trail Blazers. Pau Gasol is now also out (calf) and the team lost Kirk Hinrich and Taj Gibson to injuries over the weekend, too. Chicago is still sitting pretty, near the top of the Eastern Conference seedings with an 8-5 record. But if the bodies keep on falling, the Bulls might find themselves slipping into the sticky territory of unmet expectations that rival Cleveland is living in.

 

— John Wilmes

@johnwilmesNBA

Teaser:
Post date: Monday, November 24, 2014 - 10:20
All taxonomy terms: College Football, UCLA Bruins, Pac 12, News
Path: /college-football/ucla-putting-all-pieces-together-second-half-surge
Body:

Going into the start of the 2014 college football season, it seemed UCLA was the trendy pick to make a run to the first College Football Playoff and maybe even win the whole thing. Back-to-back losses in the middle of the season against Utah and Oregon may have derailed those ideas, but the Bruins have become one of the hottest teams in college football at perhaps the best possible time. But what is it that has changed with the Bruins that all of a sudden have them living up to the preseason hype?

 

For starters, protecting the football has improved over the last four weeks. Through the first seven games of the season, UCLA had a turnover margin of  -2, with just two games seeing a positive turnover margin. Though the Bruins have lost the football a handful of times over the last month, the defense has come through with forced turnovers to make up for it. UCLA has forced six turnovers in the last four games.

 

Before that, the Bruins defense had forced eight turnovers all season, with three coming in the opener against Virginia and four coming in a road blowout win against Arizona State. Turnovers forced often felt to be few and far between those games for the Bruins. Now they can be counted on for at least one turnover per game it seems.

 

The Bruins are also starting to turn up the pressure on opposing quarterbacks. UCLA is coming off its best performance of the season with six sacks of USC quarterback Cody Kessler. UCLA recorded three sacks in each of the two previous games before the USC game. UCLA had 10 sacks combined in its first eight games of the year.

 

UCLA has played its way into controlling the outcome of the Pac-12 South with just one week to play. The offense has been there for the Bruins throughout the season, but the defense is back to upholding its end of the bargain.  All that stands in the way of UCLA and a trip back to the Pac-12 Championship Game for a third time in four seasons is Stanford. It is fitting the Bruins have a chance to wrap up the division against the two-time defending Pac-12 champions.

 

The Bruins also have a chance to wiggle into the College Football Playoff picture after all, with a convincing victory against Stanford and a victory over Oregon in the Pac-12 Championship Game. UCLA may need a good amount of help elsewhere to see the preseason expectations met by UCLA, but crazy things can happen in the sport of college football. And the college football gods have rewarded teams getting hot at the right time. For UCLA, now could be the perfect time to be putting all of the pieces together.

- By Kevin McGuire (@KevinonCFB)

Teaser:
UCLA Putting All of the Pieces Together in Second-Half Surge
Post date: Monday, November 24, 2014 - 10:00
Path: /college-football/wisconsin-minnesota-rivalry-has-extra-meaning-2014-west-division-title-implications
Body:

The Big Ten is full of great rivalry games and trophies. One of them is Paul Bunyan’s Axe, which goes to the winner of the Wisconsin-Minnesota game each season. This year, the iconic axe will take a back seat to the ultimate prize to the winner of this week’s rivalry game between the Badgers and Gophers. The Big Ten West Division championship will be decided in this year’s game, with the winner advancing to the Big Ten Championship Game to take on Ohio State, the champions of the East Division.
 

Wisconsin was always expected to be in this position, as the Badgers have played in two Big Ten championship games and feature a Heisman Trophy caliber running back in Melvin Gordon and a solid defense. The Badgers were preseason favorites to battle for the Big Ten’s West Division. After demolishing Nebraska two weeks ago the Badgers looked to be a clear favorite in the division. That remains true, but now there is a formidable opponent in Minnesota.
 

The Gophers have been one of the pleasant surprises in the Big Ten and around the nation this season. There may still be some work to be done before the Gophers are a real threat in the Big Ten on a regular basis, but the ingredients appear to be there this season to give any team a run for their money in Big Ten play. This Minnesota team dominated Michigan to win the Little Brown Jug and won close calls against Northwestern and Purdue. Minnesota was upset at Illinois, letting one get away from them on the road, but the Gophers stormed back in a big way with a blowout of Iowa the following week. The question was whether or not Minnesota had run into a wall at the end of the season, ready to burst the bubble on a fun ride.
 

The Gophers were unable to pull the upset on Ohio State on the snow, as J.T. Barrett went off in a big way against the Minnesota defense, but Minnesota rose to the occasion on the road against Nebraska to set-up one of the biggest battles for Paul Bunyan’s Axe the rivalry series has seen in a long time.
 

Wisconsin has won 10 in a row against Minnesota. The Badgers appear to be the team better prepared for this situation. Wisconsin will be playing at home. Everything about this game looks to suggest Wisconsin will have the edge on Minnesota, and maybe they will. But if there is anything to be learned about Jerry Kill’s Gophers, it is they do not back down to a challenge.
 

After winning on the road against Nebraska and blowing away Iowa, there should be no doubt this Minnesota team will be ready to challenge Wisconsin for the Big Ten West crown on Saturday. This should be fun.

- By Kevin McGuire (@KevinonCFB)

Teaser:
Wisconsin-Minnesota Rivalry Has Extra Meaning in 2014 With West Division Title Implications
Post date: Monday, November 24, 2014 - 09:30
All taxonomy terms: NFL, News
Path: /nfl/new-york-giants-receiver-odell-beckham-jr-proves-he-spider-man-circus-catch
Body:

New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. had the catch of a lifetime with a one-handed, diving backward, through pass interference touchdown catch.

 

Sit back and watch. Over and over again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And it wasn't the first time...

Teaser:
New York Giants receiver Odell Beckham Jr. Proves he is Spider-Man with Circus Catch
Post date: Sunday, November 23, 2014 - 21:54
Path: /college-football/illinois-and-northwestern-overcome-early-struggles-have-shot-bowl-game-next
Body:

The Big Ten is setting up for a wild finish in the Big Ten West with Wisconsin and Minnesota doing battle for the division championship. The winning school will lay claim to Paul Bunyan’s Axe and represent the division in the Big Ten Championship Game in Indianapolis against Big Ten East champion Ohio State. The division will also feature a game with plenty of stakes on the line. Northwestern and Illinois will play for a chance to go to a bowl game.

 

After losing four straight games in Big Ten play, including blowout losses to Nebraska and Iowa and a nail-biter against Michigan, it seemed Northwestern was staring right down a year without a bowl game. But then a funny thing happened. A road game at Notre Dame stirred up the echoes of a previous upset in South Bend. Northwestern’s overtime win against the Irish kept the dream of a bowl game within reach, and a win against Purdue showed the Wildcats are on a mission to get back to the postseason.

 

Consider how Northwestern played into this position. The Wildcats have been riddled with injuries and lost Venric Mark before the start of the season. Northwestern was nearly left for dead after an 0-2 start to the season with home losses to California and Northern Illinois. But Northwestern went on the road and scored 29 points against a Penn State defense that has allowed 20 points in regulation just two other times this season. Northwestern took out Wisconsin at home, and the Badgers are on the verge of making a potential Big Ten Championship Game appearance. With their postseason fate back against a wall, Northwestern stunned Notre Dame with a late rally and overtime victory in South Bend. This is the story of a thrilling ride, if Pat Fitzgerald and get Northwestern one more win at home.

 

Illinois has also played itself into a winner-goes-bowling match-up. The Illini have done it in much less impressive fashion. Illinois is coming off a close win at home against Penn State to get to five wins. After a pair of blowout losses to Ohio State and Iowa, Illinois slipped by Penn State at home this past weekend.

 

For Illinois head coach Tim Beckman, a win against Northwestern could be crucial. Though things still look like a massive work in progress at Illinois, getting Illinois to a bowl game could be enough to guarantee Tim Beckman’s job is safe for at least one more season. The pressure has been on Beckman to show some improvement with the program this season. The Big Ten results could still use some work, but getting to a postseason bowl game would be a clear step in the right direction or Beckman and Illinois. The Illini have already improved on the season win total each of the past two seasons under Beckman, and getting to a bowl game would be the next step in the process.

 

Sometimes you have to take them any way you can get them.

- By Kevin McGuire (@KevinonCFB)

Teaser:
Post date: Sunday, November 23, 2014 - 17:15
Path: /college-football/oklahoma-states-offense-finds-spark-behind-freshman-qb-mason-rudolph
Body:

Times have been rough for Oklahoma State’s offense over the course of the last month. After scoring no more than 14 points in each of the last four games, the Cowboys were in some serious trouble heading to Waco to take on Baylor. The debut of talented freshman quarterback Mason Rudolph may not have been enough to go blow for blow with Baylor’s offense, but it at least gave some reason to be optimistic about the future of the Oklahoma State offense.

 

Rudolph was to be redshirted this season, but head coach Mike Gundy made the call to take that off this year and throw the early-enrollee on the field to see what could happen. Aside from some typical freshman mistakes that are to be expected, Rudolph handled himself well. Rudolph completed 13 of 25 pass attempts for 281 yards and a pair of touchdowns. His first career touchdown pass came just before the half with an eight-yard pass to David Glidden to cut the Baylor lead to 14.

 

Baylor had control of this game form start to finish, but Rudolph helped to keep things interesting. A 68-yard touchdown pass to James Washington managed to keep the Cowboys within reach of the defending Big 12 champions, and four minutes later Rudolph tossed a 37-yard pass to Washington to set-up another touchdown to bring Oklahoma State within two scores of Baylor. On Oklahoma State's next possession, Rudolph completed a couple of passes for first downs but was intercepted just inside the 20-yard line to snap another scoring opportunity. Baylor would turn that interception into a touchdown with Bryce Petty running 21 yards for a score on the ensuing possession.

 

The entire Oklahoma State offense has struggled to live up to the expectations placed on it over the last few years. The Cowboys rank 60th in passing offense and 100th in rushing. Now the pressure is on just to win one more game in order to become bowl eligible. That test will come against in-state rival Oklahoma in two weeks. If Rudolph is going to be the starting quarterback for one more game to get this done, the bye week over Thanksgiving could not come at a better time. Oklahoma State quarterbacks have thrown 15 touchdowns and been intercepted 15 times. Improving on that ratio should be the primary focus.

 

Now that Mike Gundy and offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich have seen what Rudolph can do on the field, they can take some time to address a couple of areas to work on heading into Bedlam. Rudolph may be a candidate capable of giving Daxx Garman and J.W. Walsh a run for the starting job in 2015. 

- By Kevin McGuire (@KevinonCFB)

Teaser:
Oklahoma State's Offense Finds a Spark Behind Freshman QB Mason Rudolph
Post date: Sunday, November 23, 2014 - 16:47
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy, News
Path: /fantasy/college-fantasy-football-week-13-fantasy-value-plays
Body:

DraftKings has released their Daily Fantasy college football salaries for the week, and the experts at CollegeFootballGeek.com have hunkered down and scoured all of the data to find the best Value Plays on the docket. 

These Value Plays are comprised of players poised to out-produce their DraftKings salaries this week.  These are the “diamonds in the rough” that your DFS competitors may overlook.  They are the difference-makers you need in your lineup to win one of the big DFS contests!

For your convenience, we have broken the picks down by DraftKings contest game set. Best of luck this week!

(For more detailed Daily Fantasy analysis, picks, player news, player rankings, and stat breakdowns, check out
CollegeFootballGeek.comLearn how to SUBSCRIBE FOR FREE!)


**********


VALUE PLAYS: SATURDAY (EARLY ONLY) GAME SET
 

 

QUARTERBACKS

 

1)    QB Cody Thomas, Oklahoma vs. Kansas ($5800)

Thomas scored 25 DK fantasy points last week against Texas Tech and could have an even better game versus Kansas. The Jayhawks defense is nothing special and could yield plenty of big plays to Thomas this week.

 

2)    QB Justin Holman, UCF vs SMU ($5700)

Holman threw three touchdowns last week against Tulsa and could match that total this week with SMU on the slate. The Mustangs pass defense is ranked 121st in the country.

 

 

RUNNING BACKS

 

1)    RB Dalvin Cook, Florida State vs. Boston College ($4500)

Cook had 92 yards and two scores last week against Miami and appears to be taking over the Seminoles backfield. He could find the end zone again this week and looks like a solid punt option.

 

2)    RB JC Coleman, Virginia Tech vs. Wake Forest ($4900)

Coleman had 95 yards rushing last week in relief of the injured Marshawn Williams. He could see all the carries he can handle this week against Wake Forest, as he is basically the only healthy back on the VT roster.

 

3)    RB Akeel Lynch, Penn State vs. Illinois ($4200)

Lynch had 130 yards and a score last week against Temple and could have another big day versus Illinois. He may run all over an Illinois run defense that ranks 121st in the country. His price is very appealing this week.

 

 

WIDE RECEIVERS

 

1)    WR Tony Lippett, Michigan State vs. Rutgers ($5500)

Lippett’s price is depressed after having two sub-par games in a row. This looks like the perfect match up for a bounce back performance from Lippett. He is a top flight fantasy wide out at a very low price.

 

2)    WR Tyler Baker, Washington State vs. Arizona State ($4200)

Baker is averaging 21 DK fantasy points over the last three games. He looks to be a great punt option this week as long as River Cracraft remains sidelined due to injury.

 

3)    WR D’Vario Montgomery, Iowa State vs. Texas Tech ($5100)

Montgomery is averaging almost 22 DK fantasy points over the last four games. Look for plenty of production again this week.

 

4)    WR Deontay Greenberry, Houston vs. Tulsa ($4700)

Greenberry had 130 yards and a score last week and appears to finally be waking up. He could post a big stat line against Tulsa.

 

5)    WR Vince Sanders, Ole Miss vs. Arkansas ($4300)

Sanders looks to be seriously underpriced this week. He looks to be the top receiving target with Laquan Treadwell out for the season. Expect him to easily hit value this week.

 

 

TIGHT END

 

1)    TE Bucky Hodges, Virginia Tech vs. Wake Forest ($3200)

Hodges has scored in the last two games and could make it three in a row against Wake Forest.



VALUE PLAYS:  SATURDAY (LATE ONLY) GAME SET

QUARTERBACKS

 

1)    QB Brad Kaaya, Miami vs. Virginia ($5800)

Kaaya threw for 316 yards and two scores last week against Florida State. He is getting better week by week and could find success against Virginia on Saturday night.  

 

 

RUNNING BACKS

  

1)     RB Don Jackson, Nevada vs. Fresno State ($5900)

Jackson is rolling right now with four rushing scores in the past two games. Expect another trip or two to the end zone for Jackson against a toilet paper soft Fresno defense.

 

2)    RB Shaquille Murray-Lawrence, UNLV vs. Hawaii ($5800)

Lawrence had 143 yards and a score last week and gets a juicy matchup with Hawaii. Look for this Rebel to rack up a solid game this week.

 

3)    RB Josh Quezada, Fresno State vs. Nevada ($4700)

Quezada could be in for a big game if Marteze Waller misses the game with Nevada. His price is nice and could easily reach value with an increased work load.

 

4)    RB Rodriguez Moore, Cincinnati vs. UCONN ($4200)

Moore has performed well over the past few weeks and comes in at a very cheap price. He looks like a terrific punt option this week against the Huskies.

 

 

WIDE RECEIVERS

 

1)    WR Devante Davis, UNLV vs. Hawaii ($5100)

Davis is hard to refuse at this price. He has a high ceiling against a weak Hawaii defense. Look for Davis to show why he is a stud wide out.

 

2)    WR Jordan Payton, UCLA vs. USC ($4800)

Payton has had a very consistent season and his price never seems to rise. Look for him to see plenty of targets against USC and pay off for DFS players smart enough to use him.

 

3)    WR Victor Bolden, Oregon State vs. Washington ($4700)

Bolden is averaging nine receptions and 105 yards receiving over the last three games. His price looks much lower than what his recent production states.

  

 

TIGHT ENDS

 

1) TE Steven Scheu, Vanderbilt vs. Miss State ($3200)

Scheu has shown decent consistency and has scored in the last two games. He could find some open seams against the Bulldogs.



**********

By Todd DeVries & Kevin Mount, CollegeFootballGeek.com


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Teaser:
College Fantasy Football: Week 13 Fantasy Value Plays
Post date: Saturday, November 22, 2014 - 01:50
All taxonomy terms: NBA
Path: /nba/nbpa-director-michele-roberts-not-messing-around
Body:

The NBA Player’s Association hasn’t exactly been a politically fearsome group in recent years. The players demonstrably lost out financially in the 2011 lockout, behind their befuddled, lazy director at the time, Billy Hunter. LeBron James and others haven’t been tight-lipped about realizing that much. James, this October, said the league’s owners claiming to be losing money on their teams is a strategy that “will not fly this time.”

The new $24 billion TV deal ensures that the union is entitled to fight for more money. And new union director Michele Roberts looks determined to wage that battle. The replacement for former do-nothing Hunter, Roberts has been on the job since just July, but she’s already made a strong impression.

“She’s serious, she is impressive,” one player agent who met with Roberts told Sporting News’ Sean Deveney. “She is coming at this from an outsider’s perspective. With Billy, he accepted that the system we have is what it is, and all we can do is try to protect as much ground as possible. Michele is a clean slate, she flat-out sees some of the things we accept as wrong. She’s itching for a fight on this stuff, because she thinks we’re right.”

Now, Roberts and the union are disputing the league’s decision to suspend Charlotte Hornets forward Jeff Taylor for 24 games without pay, citing the penalty as “excessive, without precedent and a violation of the Collective Bargaining Agreement. The CBA contemplates a minimum 10 game suspension in any case involving a conviction for a violent felony, including domestic violence. In contrast, Jeff Taylor was charged with a misdemeanor that is likely to be dismissed at the end of a probationary period. … While we appreciate the sensitivity of this societal issue, the Commissioner is not entitled to rewrite the rules or otherwise ignore precedent in disciplinary matters.”

This is merely the first example of likely more intense friction between Roberts and Silver. We’re all waiting for the atomic showdown that seems inevitable when the current collective bargaining agreement expires in 2017. If Roberts continues her hard line until then, there’s a good chance we’ll see another work stoppage in the league.

 

— John Wilmes

@johnwilmesNBA

Teaser:
Post date: Friday, November 21, 2014 - 14:20
Path: /nba/toronto-raptors-made-vince-carter-cry-their-tribute
Body:

Vince Carter looked like the rightful heir to Michael Jordan for a good minute. When the 17-year veteran debuted with the Toronto Raptors in 1998-99 (the season after Jordan’s second and seemingly final retirement), he took the basketball world into his hands almost immediately. Carter’s hyper-stylistic dunking skills were the can’t-miss trend of the game. Canada, suddenly, was becoming a capital of the game on the shoulders of its surprising star.

But since Carter fled Toronto by forcing a trade to the New Jersey Nets in 2004, there hasn’t been a lot of love between him and his former city. Upon return visits, the player formerly known as “Half-Man, Half-Insanity,” “Vinsanity,” and “Air Canada” has been booed by crowds at the Air Canada Centre. It even happened as recently as last January, when Carter rolled into town as a Dallas Maverick — one of the six teams he’s played for in his career.

But now, as a 37-year-old journeyman with the Memphis Grizzlies, Carter and his his first NBA city seem to have come to terms. During the Grizzlies’ recent trip to Toronto — a 96-92 Raptors victory — a tribute video was shown. It brought Carter to tears, and the fans to a standing ovation. It was finally time, all parties seemed to agree, to bury the hatchet.

Especially now that the Raptors have finally moved from their superstar’s exodus. Boasting one of the deepest rosters in basketball, the exciting new Toronto squad is 9-2, good for first place in the Eastern Conference. The memory of Carter can now rest in the shadow of current award contenders like Kyle Lowry, DeMar Derozan, Jonas Valanciunas and Terrence Ross. Vinsanity is no longer a symbol of the city’s basketball failure, but a ghost of warm nostalgia.

 

— John Wilmes

@johnwilmesNBA

Teaser:
Post date: Friday, November 21, 2014 - 11:10

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