Articles By Athlon Sports

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There are a few key fantasy contributors that have had a number of injury question marks surrounding their playing status leading up to Week 3 of the 2012 NFL season. Here’s a little bit about these three and what you should consider.

Antonio Gates, TE, San Diego vs. Atlanta Falcons

A late scratch against Tennessee last week, Antonio Gates (ribs) has practiced fully this week and should be good to go against high-powered Atlanta.

It was too bad Gates missed last week’s home game against a Titans team that has consistently been friendly to opposing tight ends and did not prove to be any different last week. Dante Rosario stepped in and scored three touchdowns.

 The Falcons have allowed nine catches, 102 yards and a score on just 14 targets to tight ends this season. Atlanta was generous to elite fantasy tight ends Jimmy Graham (11-for-124 and two scores in two meetings) and Jermichael Finley (4-for-67) last season.

 

Kenny Britt, WR, Tennessee vs. Detroit Lions

Kenny Britt returned to action last week in San Diego after a one-game suspension and a knee injury that knocked him out in Week 3 of the 2011 season. He was expected to be on a limited play count and he was. The receiver was targeted just twice, catching one ball for five yards on 19 snaps. 

Detroit is 10th best against fantasy receivers through two games, having faced St. Louis and San Francisco. Those are not two of the premier passing offenses in the NFL, but neither are the Tennessee Titans.

You would have to figure Tennessee will be down early in this game. The Titans have little to offer in defending Calvin Johnson or Brandon Pettigrew. It should mean more time for Britt to get garbage-time production from Jake Locker. 

Britt was not limited this week and will be needed to help keep a struggling Titans squad in the game. The matchup could not be any better against a thin Lions secondary. The concern is obviously snap count for Britt and lack of work with Locker. 

Britt is the ultimate flier this week. Massive upside on an offense that is as down as it gets.

 

Jamaal Charles

Jamaal Charles, RB, Kansas City vs. New Orleans Saints

Jamaal Charles (knee) tweaked his surgically repaired knee in a blowout loss to Buffalo last week and said he still could have played. 

This week, the inept Chiefs get the Saints generous defense in New Orleans. The question will be whether the Kansas City defense can hang on long enough to keep the running game in play for Charles.

New Orleans allowed rookie Alfred Morris to run for 98 yards and two scores on 28 attempts in the opener and the Carolina duo of DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart to run for 120 yards and a TD on 25 carries. 

It is there for the taking for Charles to have a good day and show he is back from the knee injury. But the taking is also there for the Saints offense to quickly make the Chiefs’ use of a running game futile.

 

 

— By Corby A. Yarbrough @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter

Teaser:
Post date: Sunday, September 23, 2012 - 06:30
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy Football, NFL, Fantasy
Path: /nfl/2012-fantasy-football-start-or-sit-week-3
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Week 3 of the 2012 NFL season has already begun, which means it's time to get those fantasy lineups ready for the rest of this week's action in your Yahoo!, NFL.com or ESPN fantasy football league. It’s still early enough to turn your team’s outlook around, but it all starts with making the right roster moves.

Athlon Sports is to help you make those important decisions each week with our Start and Sit suggestions. Keep in mind these are merely our suggestions as the ultimate decision comes down to you, the owner.

Week 3 Positional Rankings

Sneaky Start of the Week
Matt Cassel, QB, Kansas City at New Orleans
Believe it or not, Cassel is currently No. 12 at his position in fantasy scoring. He’s averaging about 280 yards passing per game and has accounted for a total of four touchdowns (3 pass, 1 rush) through the first two games. It also should be pointed out that he’s turned the ball over five times (3 INT, 2 fumbles).

Still, his inclusion here is more a matter of the competition. Kansas City goes to New Orleans on Sunday to play the Saints. Not only are the Saints the worst defense in the NFL right now in both yards and points allowed; they also are giving up the second-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks (Kansas City has yielded the most). As long as Cassel can limit his turnovers, he could put up some surprising numbers in the Super Dome this Sunday.

Surprise Sit of the Week
Wes Welker, WR, New England at Baltimore
A lot of things can happen in a week, as evidenced by Welker going from the “Start” list to here in seven days. But the reality is that through the first two games, Welker just hasn’t been as big a part of the Patriots’ offense as he has been in recent years.

Some of this can be attributed to the fact that Welker has been ceding some snaps to teammate Julian Edelman, especially when the Patriots have been in two-wide receiver sets. There’s also the presence of tight end Rob Gronkowski and wide receiver Brandon Lloyd, both of whom have more receptions than Welker so far. Whatever the reason, there’s no disputing that Welker’s production so far (8 rec., 109 yards) hasn’t been what we’ve grown accustomed to seeing.

The good news is that Welker is still getting plenty of targets from Tom Brady. His 16 are second only to Lloyd on the team. But it’s clear that he and Brady are having trouble connecting (50 percent catch rate) and he’s yet to find the end zone.

Ironically, Aaron Hernandez’ ankle injury, which will sideline him for several weeks, could actually help Welker, as the Patriots may put more wide receivers on the field. That said, between Welker’s early results, this Sunday’s match up with Baltimore, a team that he has not enjoyed a great deal of success against in his career, and the fact that the Patriots seem to be shifting to more of a run-oriented offense (only 14 fewer rushing attempts compared to passing so far), that’s more than enough reasons to strongly consider leaving him out of your starting lineup.

Quarterbacks
START
Tony Romo (DAL) vs. Tampa Bay
Romo (251 yards passing, TD, INT) and the Cowboys clearly did not enjoy their trip to Seattle last week. Fortunately, they get to return to the comforts of home and get a Tampa Bay defense that Eli Manning and the Giants shredded for more than 500 yards through the air last week. Romo probably won’t throw for quite that many, but he should be able to connect with Miles Austin, Dez Bryant and his other weapons more than enough to put last week’s disappointing showing completely behind him.

Jay Cutler (CHI) vs. St. Louis
Cutler also is looking to bounce back from a rough Week 2 outing as Green Bay picked him off four times and he was sacked seven times. St. Louis’ defense isn’t considered to be on the same level as the Packers, so this should present Cutler with a nice opportunity to regain some confidence, for both himself and in the eyes of his teammates and always-vocal critics. The key for Cutler is to trust his offensive line to give him the time to make the throws that are there, and to not try and force feed Brandon Marshall down the field.

Andy Dalton (CIN) at Washington
Dalton threw for 318 yards, three touchdowns and an interception last week against Cleveland. This week he and the Bengals get a Washington defense that’s ranked 28th in the league overall, and is tied for second-to-last in passing defense. It’s also a defense that has lost two of its best players – defensive end Adam Carriker and linebacker Brian Orakpo — to season-ending injuries.

SIT
Peyton Manning (DEN) vs. Houston
Manning had a really rough start on Monday night in Atlanta, throwing three first-quarter interceptions. He was able to settle down, but in the end he finished with an atypical line of 241-1-3. The Broncos are back home on Sunday, but they will face an even more fearsome defense in Houston, which has given up a total of 392 yards (248 pass, 144 rush) in its first two games. The Texans are more athletic throughout their defense, their secondary is healthier than the Falcons’ was, and I think they will be able to bring even more pressure on Manning. Put it all together and I am expecting this week’s line to look more like last week’s compared to his Week 1 showing (253-2-0) against Pittsburgh.

Josh Freeman (TB) at Dallas
Freeman was at his best in leading his Buccaneers to an early lead over the Giants in New York. Unfortunately, the Giants’ defense did a better job of keeping Freeman and the Bucs’ offense in check, as Freeman finished with 243 yards passing to go along with two touchdowns and two interceptions. This week Freeman has to go into Dallas and face a Cowboys’ defense that’s surrendering 160 yards through the air per game. Look for the pass rush to rattle Freeman as the game goes on, resulting in some poor decisions and throws.

Sam Bradford (STL) at Chicago
Bradford and the Rams’ passing attack were running on all cylinders last week against Washington as he threw for 310 yards and three touchdowns. Unfortunately, next on the schedule is a Chicago defense that’s been stewing in its own juices since last Thursday’s loss to Green Bay. The Bears have allowed the fourth-fewest fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks so far and I expect that trend to continue against Bradford.

Running Backs
START

Michael Bush (CHI) vs. St. Louis
Matt Forte will not play this Sunday against the Rams because of an ankle injury. That means Bush will assume the starting role, which makes him a must-start if he’s on your roster. Remember, Bush ran for 977 yards last season with Oakland when Darren McFadden was sidelined or limited by injuries. The Rams have given up nearly 130 yards on the ground per game so far.

Stevan Ridley (NE) at Baltimore
Start a Patriots running back against a Ravens defense? Oh, how the times have changed. The fact is Ridley has clearly established himself not only as the Patriots’ top back, but a reliable one as has he’s averaging nearly 100 yards (5.0 ypc) per game. On the other side there’s a Ravens defense that has had some problems stopping the run thus far, giving up 129 yards per game on the ground. To this point the Patriots have showed a willingness to run the ball (5th in the league in rushing attempts), so Ridley should get his chances against what appears to be a more susceptible than usual Ravens rush defense.

Jamaal Charles (KC) at New Orleans
Everyone probably held their breaths when Charles was removed from last week’s game against Buffalo after falling on his surgically repaired left knee and limping off the field. The team and Charles have both since said that he only sustained a bruise and he could have gone back in, if he was needed. Charles’ production so far (22 att., 90 yds.) hasn’t been that great, but if there’s ever a week for him to get back on track it’s this one. New Orleans has given up a total of 372 yards rushing in its first two games.

SIT
Adrian Peterson (MIN) vs. San Francisco
The good news for Peterson owners is that his workload is expected to increase starting this week. The bad news is his next opponent is a San Francisco defense that’s already limited Green Bay and Detroit to a total of 127 yards rushing combined. Christian Ponder is not Aaron Rodgers or Matthew Stafford, so I wouldn’t be surprised if Peterson finds the yards very tough to come by this Sunday.

Willis McGahee (DEN) vs. Houston
McGahee is coming off of an impressive 113-yard, two-touchdown game against Atlanta on Monday night. However, Houston has given up a total of 144 rushing yards and no rushing touchdowns in their first two games. McGahee’s Broncos host the Texans this Sunday. Any questions?

Shonn Greene (NYJ) at Miami
Greene has struggled out of the gate, averaging a little better than three yards per carry. Miami’s rush defense has limited opponents to an NFL-best 2.2 yards per carry (53 yards per game). Miami’s first two games were against Houston and Oakland, otherwise known as the teams Arian Foster and Darren McFadden play for. Greene is not on the same level as these two, which should tell you all you need to know about his outlook for this week.

Wide Receivers
START

Torrey Smith (BAL) vs. New England
Smith has caught a total of four passes in the first two games, but half of those have been completions of 40 or more yards. Smith’s deep threat ability is well documented, but he still needs to show he’s more than just a one-trick pony. He should get his chance this week against the Patriots. Although the Patriots have done a very good job defensively, the Ravens’ offense will be by far their toughest challenge yet. Smith also has shown an ability to get open against the Pats’ secondary, as he caught three passes for 82 yards and a touchdown in last season’s AFC Championship game.

Lance Moore (NO) vs. Kansas City
For all their troubles on defense, the Saints have been fine on offense, as they are currently third in the league. Kansas City has had plenty of its own issues on defense and is surrendering nearly 38 points a game. I think there will be more than enough offense in this game for not only the must-starts (Dwayne Bowe, Drew Brees, Charles, Marques Colston, Jimmy Graham, Darren Sproles), but also for the likes of a Moore, who should be able to find plenty of space to make the catch and then some in a Chiefs’ secondary that’s battled injuries from the start.

Jon Baldwin (KC) at New Orleans
Put Baldwin into the same category as Moore as the Saints’ defensive issues (last in NFL in yards and points allowed) have already been referenced here. What’s more for Baldwin is that he went from zero targets in Week 1 to six in Week 2. He turned three of those targets into receptions, which went for a total of 62 yards (20.7 ypc). Given his play-making ability and how he can complement Dwayne Bowe as the Chiefs’ deep threat, I expect him to build on last week’s showing and make a little noise against the Saints’ suspect pass defense.

SIT
Larry Fitzgerald (ARI) vs. Philadelphia
As a huge Fitzgerald fan (and owner of him in one of my leagues), I really hope that this turns out to be a one-week deal, but I can’t ignore the early results or this Sunday’s opponent. Fitzgerald has been targeted a team-high 15 times, as he should be, but he’s only turned five of those into receptions for 67 yards. He also has yet to get into the end zone. For whatever reason, Fitzgerald and quarterback Kevin Kolb just can’t seem to get on the same page. Until these two start showing some consistent chemistry, it may be in your best interests, if you have other serviceable options, to bench the All-Pro. As far as this week goes, it certainly doesn’t help Fitzgerald’s case that Philadelphia has allowed the third-fewest fantasy points to opposing wide receivers.

Vincent Jackson (TB) at Dallas
Dallas’ revamped secondary passed its first test in the opener against the Giants' tandem of Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz with flying colors. They limited the duo to 10 catches and 96 yards combined, compared to the 21 receptions, 378 yards and two touchdowns the two had last week against Tampa Bay. Now it's Jackson's turn to test the ‘Boys pass defense and unfortunately for him, the Bucs' receiving corps is more of a one-man show compared to what the Giants put on the field (Ramses Barden anyone?). In other words, good luck.

DeSean Jackson (PHI) at Arizona
The Eagles will be without the services of Jeremy Maclin (hip) this Sunday at Arizona, meaning the Cardinals will be able to focus their efforts on Jackson and attempt to limit the big plays down the field. Without them, he’s a different receiver. Last week against Baltimore, Jackson had seven receptions for 114 yards. One of those went for 49 yards, meaning the other six went for 65, or an average of 10.8 yards per catch. The big play has always been what has driven Jackson’s fantasy potential, and without it, he’s fairly ordinary, as evidenced by the fact he’s yet to score. It also doesn’t help that Jackson himself has been limited in practice by a hamstring injury.

Tight Ends
Start
Brandon Pettigrew (DET) at Tennessee
Pettigrew is second on the Lions in targets (14) and has eight catches on the year for 95 yards and a score. Next up for Pettigrew is a Tennessee defense that is giving up the most fantasy points to opposing tight ends. Last week, San Diego's Dante Rosario, who was only playing because Antonio Gates sat out with a rib injury, victimized the Titans for three touchdown catches. Anyone else thinking Pettigrew can't wait for this one to kick off?

Brent Celek (PHI) at Arizona
I guess Celek didn't like me putting him on last week's Sit list as he promptly went out and caught eight passes for 157 yards (19.7 fantasy points) against Baltimore. Celek is leading the team in targets and the Eagles will be short-handed at receiver on Sunday against Arizona with Jeremy Maclin (hip) already ruled out and DeSean Jackson dealing with a hamstring injury. As long he keeps getting the volume of opportunities he has been, Celek can certainly maintain fantasy relevance. Getting into the end zone every now and then wouldn't hurt either.

Jermaine Gresham (CIN) at Washington
Gresham has gotten off to a slow start (4 rec., 37 yards), but Washington has given up the second-most fantasy points to opposing tight ends so far. He and the Bengals also are facing a defense that's lost two key starters (Brian Orakpo and Adam Carriker) for the rest of the season, so now it's just a matter of Andy Dalton, Gresham and company to take advantage.

SIT
Jared Cook (TEN) vs. Detroit
Cook made the Start list last week and then went out and caught three passes for a grand total of 23 yards. Cook's slow start (8 rec., 87 yards) is representative of the Titans' offensive struggles as a whole. Until the Titans find some sort of consistency with both their rushing and passing attacks, Cook's probably not going to put up a lot of fantasy points.

Jacob Tamme (DEN) vs. Houston
Tamme got off to a fast start as the renewed chemistry between him and Peyton Manning resulted in four receptions for 43 yards and a touchdown in Week 1. Last week in Atlanta, however, Tamme only caught two balls for 13 yards. This week could be even worse as Denver hosts Houston, one of the toughest defenses in the league right now. To make matters worse for Tamme (and Joel Dreessen for that matter), the Texans are giving up the fewest fantasy points to opposing tight ends.

Marcedes Lewis (JAC) at Indianapolis
Lewis also got off to a nice start (5 rec., 52 yds., TD) in Week 1, but looked more like his 2011 form last week as he didn't catch a single pass. Lewis' fortunes are tied directly to how well Blaine Gabbert performs, which is enough reason in itself to not trust this Jaguar to be your starting tight end.

Defense/Special Teams
START

Dallas vs. Tampa Bay
The Dallas defense/special teams haven't really done all that much in terms of fantasy scoring to this point, but they are ranked 10th in the league in total defense and do a good job of pressuring the quarterback. As long as the Cowboys can stifle Tampa's running game, I think the pressure on Josh Freeman will help the secondary make some big plays, possibly even turn one of those into six points.

Arizona vs. Philadelphia
Arizona's defense has been very solid through its first two games, holding New England to just 18 points in the Cardinals' surprising Week 2 victory in Foxboro. Next up is Philadelphia, who has a banged up receiving corps and a quarterback in Michael Vick that's prone to turning it over. Even with LeSean McCoy in the backfield, I think the Cardinals can make enough plays (both kick returners also are capable of taking one back for a score) and hold the Eagles offense in check to be fantasy relevant this week.

SIT
New England at Baltimore
Don't look now, but New England is the No. 2 defense in the league. This can largely be attributed to the fact that the Patriots first two opponents have been Tennessee and Arizona, the 30th- and 31st-ranked offenses. That's why I don't see the Patriots defense having near as much success against Baltimore, the ninth-ranked offense and one that can beat you with both with the run and pass. If the Patriots come out of this game as the second-ranked defense, color me impressed.

Washington vs. Cincinnati
It's already been said a couple of times, but here's where it really matters most. The Redskins will be without linebacker Brian Orakpo and defensive lineman Adam Carriker for the rest of the season. Orakpo is a two-time Pro Bowler and he and Carriker combined for 14.5 sacks last season. Those are two significant losses that I think will be very hard for this defense, which by the way is currently ranked 28th in the league, to overcome, especially this week against Cincinnati.

Kickers
START

Justin Tucker (BAL) at Philadelphia
Considering this is the second straight week Tucker has made this list, not to mention the fact that I added him in two of my three leagues, consider me all in on the Ravens' rookie kicker. Tucker is a perfect 6-for-6 from field goal range, with a long of 56, and has connected on all seven of his PATs so far. There's no reason to think the Ravens won't continue to give him opportunities to put the ball through the uprights.

Blair Walsh (MIN) vs. San Francisco
Just like Tucker, Walsh is a rookie who has shown everyone why the Vikings cut ties with veteran Ryan Longwell before the season started. Walsh has connected on all six of his field goal tries, including two from more than 50 yards out. This week, I don't expect the Vikings to visit the red zone many times against San Francisco, so Walsh's leg may be the best scoring option they have.

SIT
Rob Bironas (TEN) vs. Detroit
Bironas is as reliable as they come, but the Titans' offense just hasn't given him many chances to kick. So until the Titans show some form of life on offense, it's probably best to look elsewhere.

Matt Prater (DEN) vs. Houston
Prater's big leg is a perfect fit for the thin air in Denver, but Houston has allowed a grand total of one field goal attempt and just two PATs so far. Even though the Broncos are at home, I expect for them to have their share of trouble moving the ball against the Texans, limiting Prater's opportunities in the process.

— By Mark Ross, published on Sept. 21, 2012

Teaser:
<p> 2012 Fantasy Football: Week 3 Start or Sit</p>
Post date: Friday, September 21, 2012 - 06:36
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The New York Giants’ offense will look quite different on the field tonight against the Carolina Panthers as starting wide receiver Hakeem Nicks and running back Ahmad Bradshaw will both be out due to injury.

Nicks will be sidelined due to a foot injury, while Bradshaw will not play because of a neck injury he sustained in last week’s game against Tampa Bay. In addition, wide receiver Domenik Hixon, who is the Giants’ regular No. 3 wide receiver, is also out due to a concussion.

With all these injuries, several Giants will have the opportunity to step up and be a difference-maker tonight, although the greatest opportunity in terms of fantasy relevance belongs to that of Andre Brown.

Brown, the fourth-year running back out of North Carolina State, has already shown what he’s capable of as he had 71 yards rushing on 13 carries (5.5 ypc) against the Buccaneers last week after Bradshaw left the game. He also caught two passes for 19 yards and scored the game-winning touchdown, a two-yard plunge into the end zone with just 31 seconds remaining.

Brown will get the start tonight in Carolina and should receive the lion’s share of carries. The Panthers enter tonight’s game ranked 28th in the NFL in rushing defense, as they have given up an average of 146.5 yards per game, not to mention 4.7 yards per carry, to their first two opponents — Washington and New Orleans.

This combination of opportunity and opponent makes Brown an appealing RB2 fantasy option this week, as evidenced by our own Week 3 running back rankings. The only reason he’s not ranked higher is due to the fact he’s still a relatively unknown commodity. That may very well change after tonight, but regardless, he’s certainly worth taking a flyer on, depending on your other options.

Brown’s present position is where many pundits and prognosticators thought rookie David Wilson would be in before the season started. However, since Wilson fumbled early in his first NFL game he has seen very few touches on offense. That could change tonight as Bradshaw’s absence moves Wilson into the No. 2 spot in the backfield.

There’s a reason the Giants took Wilson in the first round of April’s draft, and they are well aware of the speed and play-making ability he brings to the field, as he’s averaging more than 26 yards on kickoff returns. Now it’s up to Wilson to show that he can do things to help the offense, starting with holding onto the football.

For now, Wilson is fantasy irrelevant, but that could change depending on how many chances he gets tonight and what he does with those opportunities. He certainly is worth keeping an eye on, especially in deeper and keeper leagues.

With both Nicks and Hixon out, Ramses Barden and Rueben Randle both move up the depth chart. Barden will get the start opposite of Victor Cruz, and unless the Giants dramatically change their game plan, Randle, the Giants’ second-round pick from LSU, should see plenty of snaps in their three-wide sets as well. Even with the playing time and opportunities both could see, I am nowhere near as optimistic regarding their fantasy value compared to the running backs.

First, Barden has one catch on two targets through the first two games. Now that one catch did go for 24 yards, but contrast that to Nicks, who has 21 targets in two games. The point is this, unlike running back, where you just have to receive the hand off to get the ball; chemistry plays a much bigger role when it comes to a quarterback and his wide receivers. I’m just not so sure that Eli Manning will “trust” Barden, or Randle for that matter, as much as he does Nicks.

If anything, Cruz (who leads the team with 28 targets) and tight end Martellus Bennett (third with 16) should see even more passese thrown their way than they usually do. Cruz remains a top wide receiver option this week, while Bennett also enters must-start territory at his position, for this week anyways.

As far as Barden and Randle go, Barden is the better fantasy option between the two, but even then it’s really only as a flex option in deeper leagues. To that end, our wide receiver rankings have Barden at No. 54 with Randle just making the cut at No. 64.

Another way to look at it is this. Before the news came down late Wednesday about Nicks being declared out for tonight’s game, Manning was ranked No. 3 among quarterbacks for Week 3. In the aftermath of this development, Manning was moved down to No. 7, just behind Tony Romo and one spot ahead of Robert Griffin III.

The adjusted ranking shows we still have plenty of faith in Manning, who’s coming off of a 500-yard, three-touchdown (also 3 INTs) effort against Tampa Bay, but our expectations have been somewhat lowered now that we know Nicks won’t be out there to haul in his passes. After all, it’s not easy to replace someone, either on the field on on your fantasy roster, who’s 6-1, 208 and currently averaging nearly 17 yards per reception.

— By Mark Ross, published on Sept. 20, 2012

Related:

2012 Fantasy Football Positional Rankings: Week 3

Teaser:
<p> New York Giants Injury Update: Ahmad Bradshaw and Hakeem Nicks Both Out</p>
Post date: Thursday, September 20, 2012 - 10:44
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy football rankings, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /nfl/2012-fantasy-football-positional-rankings-week-3
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Each week during the NFL season, we will rank enough players at each position to appease everyone from those in 8-team leagues to 16-team leagues, those that can start two QBs, two TEs, three RBs and four WRs. We cut out the rest, because if you're looking at who the 50th-best running back or the 17th-best kicker is for that week, you need more help than any website can give you.

2012 NFL Week 3 Fantasy Football Rankings

Quarterbacks
Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends
Kickers
Defense/Special Teams

Week 3 Start or Sit

 

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

OFFENSIVE SCORING
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

DEFENSIVE 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

KICKER SCORING
PATs = 1 point
39 yards and under = 3 points
40-49 yards = 4 points
50-59 yards = 5 points
60+ yards = 6 points

Teaser:
<p> 2012 Fantasy Football Positional Rankings: Week 3</p>
Post date: Thursday, September 20, 2012 - 05:29
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy football rankings, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /nfl/2012-fantasy-football-tight-end-rankings-week-3
Body:

Each week during the NFL season, we will rank enough players at each position to appease everyone from those in 8-team leagues to 16-team leagues, those that can start two QBs, two TEs, three RBs and four WRs. We cut out the rest, because if you're looking at who the 50th-best running back or the 17th-best kicker is for that week, you need more help than any Web site can give you.

The top-scoring tight end in fantasy football last week was none other than San Diego's Dante Rosario, who caught three touchdown passes against Tennessee. However, you won't see him listed below because Antonio Gates, whose absence because of a rib injury made Rosario's big day possible, is already back at practice and is expected to go on Sunday against Atlanta. One tight end who will not be playing this Sunday or for several weeks to come is New England's Aaron Hernandez. He suffered an ankle injury that is expected to sideline him for multiple weeks. His absence only helps increase teammate Rob Gronkowski's value, although Gronk still sits behind Jimmy Graham on this week's rankings. Brandon Pettigrew, already a solid weekly starting option, could be in for a career day against Tennessee considering the Titans were the team that surrendered the three touchdown catches to Rosario last week. Martellus Bennett continued his strong start to the season as he posted six more catches for 73 yards and his third touchdown on the season in the Giants' win over Carolina on Thursday night. If Bennett's able to maintain this production over the course of the season, the tight end position becomes even deeper than it was believed to before the start of it.

2012 NFL Week 3 Fantasy Football Rankings — Tight Ends

Rk Player Team OPPONENT
1 Jimmy Graham NO vs. KC
2 Rob Gronkowski NE at BAL
3 Brandon Pettigrew DET at TEN
4 Vernon Davis SF at MIN
5 Jermichael Finley GB at SEA (Mon.)
6 Tony Gonzalez ATL at SD
7 Brent Celek PHI at ARI
8 Martellus Bennett NYG at CAR (Thurs.)
9 Antonio Gates SD vs. ATL
10 Jason Witten DAL vs. TB
11 Dennis Pitta BAL vs. NE
12 Owen Daniels HOU at DEN
13 Kyle Rudolph MIN vs. SF
14 Jared Cook TEN vs. DET
15 Coby Fleener IND vs. JAC
16 Jacob Tamme DEN vs. HOU
17 Jermaine Gresham CIN at WAS
18 Greg Olsen CAR vs. NYG (Thurs.)
19 Scott Chandler BUF at CLE
20 Fred Davis WAS vs. CIN
21 Brandon Myers OAK vs. PIT
22 Dustin Keller NYJ at MIA
23 Marcedes Lewis JAC at IND
24 Heath Miller PIT at OAK
25 Dallas Clark TB at DAL
26 Todd Heap ARI vs. PHI

Injury-Related News:
Fred Davis, WAS: Sustained head injury in last week's game, but passed concussion tests and was back at practice on Wednesday. He should start on Sunday against Cincinnati.
Antonio Gates, SD: Missed last week's game with rib injury, but was back at practice on Wednesday and should play Sunday against Atlanta.
Todd Heap, ARI: Is considered day-to-day after suffering a sprained PCL in his left knee during last Sunday's game. His status for this week is uncertain.
Aaron Hernandez, NE: He is expected to miss the next several weeks due to an ankle injury sustained last week.
Dustin Keller, NYJ: Missed last week's game because of a hamstring injury. He was back at practice on Thursday, so the team is hopeful he will be able to play in Miami on Sunday.
Heath Miller, PIT: He sustained a rib cartilage injury last week and missed practice on Wednesday and Thursday. There's a strong possibility he will not be able to play in Oakland on Sunday.

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

OFFENSIVE SCORING
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

Additional Week 3 Positional Rankings

Quarterbacks
Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Kickers
Defense/Special Teams

Week 3 Start or Sit

— By Mark Ross, updated on Sept. 21, 2012

Teaser:
<p> 2012 Fantasy Football Tight End Rankings: Week 3</p>
Post date: Thursday, September 20, 2012 - 05:26
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy football rankings, NFL, Fantasy
Path: /nfl/2012-fantasy-football-quarterback-rankings-week-3
Body:

Each week during the NFL season, we will rank enough players at each position to appease everyone from those in 8-team leagues to 16-team leagues, those that can start two QBs, two TEs, three RBs and four WRs. We cut out the rest, because if you're looking at who the 50th-best running back or the 17th-best kicker is for that week, you need more help than any Web site can give you.

Drew Brees and his Saints have struggled mightily out of the gates in the standings. This coming Sunday presents the team with a golden opportunity to not only get into the win column, but also put up some big offensive numbers in the process, as they will host Kansas City. However, don't be surprised if the Chiefs' Matt Cassel also joins in on the fun, as the Saints' defense is currently last in the league in both yards and points allowed. Jay Cutler will look to bounce back from his four-interception showing against Green Bay as Chicago hosts St. Louis. Likewise, Aaron Rodgers is hoping for better things this week than what he did (219 yards passing, TD, INT) in the win over the Bears, but he will have to do in Seattle against a Seahawks' defense that held Tony Romo (251 yards, TD, INT) and the Cowboys' offense in check last Sunday. Another quarterback match up to watch is in Foxboro as Tom Brady and the Patriots face off against Joe Flacco and the Ravens in a rematch of last season's AFC Championship game. Both teams are coming off of disappointing losses and to this point, the quarterbacks have put up similar numbers.

2012 NFL Week 3 Fantasy Football Rankings — Quarterbacks

Rk Player Team OPPONENT
1 Drew Brees NO vs. KC
2 Matthew Stafford DET at TEN
3 Cam Newton CAR vs. NYG (Thurs.)
4 Aaron Rodgers GB at SEA (Mon.)
5 Tom Brady NE at BAL
6 Tony Romo DAL vs. TB
7 Eli Manning NYG at CAR (Thurs.)
8 Robert Griffin III WAS vs. CIN
9 Michael Vick PHI at ARI
10 Matt Ryan ATL at SD
11 Philip Rivers SD vs. ATL
12 Jay Cutler CHI vs. STL
13 Peyton Manning DEN vs. HOU
14 Ben Roethlisberger PIT at OAK
15 Andy Dalton CIN at WAS
16 Matt Cassel KC at NO
17 Joe Flacco BAL vs. NE
18 Alex Smith SF at MIN
19 Josh Freeman TB at DAL
20 Matt Schaub HOU at DEN
21 Andrew Luck IND vs. JAC
22 Sam Bradford STL at CHI
23 Carson Palmer OAK vs. PIT
24 Ryan Fitzpatrick BUF at CLE
25 Jake Locker TEN vs. DET
26 Mark Sanchez NYJ at MIA

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

OFFENSIVE SCORING
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

Additional Week 3 Positional Rankings

Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends
Kickers
Defense/Special Teams

Week 3 Start or Sit

Teaser:
<p> 2012 Fantasy Football Quarterback Rankings: Week 3</p>
Post date: Thursday, September 20, 2012 - 05:24
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy football rankings, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /nfl/2012-fantasy-football-running-back-rankings-week-3
Body:

Each week during the NFL season, we will rank enough players at each position to appease everyone from those in 8-team leagues to 16-team leagues, those that can start two QBs, two TEs, three RBs and four WRs. We cut out the rest, because if you're looking at who the 50th-best running back or the 17th-best kicker is for that week, you need more help than any Web site can give you.

Opportunity knocked for Andre Brown, who got the start for the Giants Thursday night against Carolina in place of an injured Ahmad Bradshaw (neck), and the fourth-year back from North Carolina State certainly answered. Brown piled up 113 yards on the ground and two touchdowns against the Panthers, leading the Giants to a convincing 36-7 victory in the process. Like Brown, Michael Bush is in a similar position as will see an increased workload for the Bears against St. Louis with Matt Forte ruled out because of an ankle injury. Although it's possible, it's highly unlikely that either Brown or Bush will have the impact that C.J. Spiller has had since assuming the starting role in Buffalo following Fred Jackson's injury. Spiller is currently leading the league in rushing (292 yards) and should have another productive game this Sunday against Cleveland. Maurice Jones-Drew and Adrian Peterson also appear to be fully reinstated as the starter for their respective teams. Jones-Drew is probably the safer play this week, however, as Peterson will test his surgically repaired knee with a heavier load against a San Francisco defense that's given up a total of 127 yards rushing so far. Willis McGahee, who had 113 yards on the ground against Atlanta on Monday night, may also find the going a little tougher this week against an equally stingy (144 yards rushing in two games) Houston defense. Another situation that bears watching is who gets the most carries in Kansas City. Last week both Peyton Hillis and Shaun Draughn got more attempts than Jamaal Charles, who limped off of the field after suffering what turned out to be a knee bruise during the Chiefs' loss to Buffalo. The good news for Charles owners is it doesn't appear to be anything serious, especially considering the Chiefs have a date in New Orleans (last in NFL in rush defense) this Sunday.

2012 NFL Week 3 Fantasy Football Rankings — Running Backs

Rk Player Team OPPONENT
1 Arian Foster HOU at DEN
2 Ray Rice BAL vs. NE
3 LeSean McCoy PHI at ARI
4 Maurice Jones-Drew JAC at IND
5 C.J. Spiller BUF at CLE
6 DeMarco Murray DAL vs. TB
7 Darren McFadden OAK vs. PIT
8 Frank Gore SF at MIN
9 Marshawn Lynch SEA vs. GB (Mon.)
10 Michael Bush CHI vs. STL
11 Trent Richardson CLE vs. BUF
12 Stevan Ridley NE at BAL
13 Reggie Bush MIA vs. NYJ
14 Doug Martin TB at DAL
15 BenJarvus Green-Ellis CIN at WAS
16 Adrian Peterson MIN vs. SF
17 Ryan Mathews SD vs. ATL
18 Darren Sproles NO vs. KC
19 Chris Johnson TEN vs. DET
20 Jamaal Charles KC at NO
21 Steven Jackson STL at CHI
22 Andre Brown NYG at CAR (Thurs.)
23 Alfred Morris WAS vs. CIN
24 Willis McGahee DEN vs. HOU
25 Michael Turner ATL at SD
26 Shonn Greene NYJ at MIA
27 Peyton Hillis KC at NO
28 Donald Brown IND vs. JAC
29 Mark Ingram NO vs. KC
30 Cedric Benson GB at SEA (Mon.)
31 Beanie Wells ARI vs. PHI
32 DeAngelo Williams CAR vs. NYG (Thurs.)
33 Ben Tate HOU at DEN
34 Pierre Thomas NO vs. KC
35 Kevin Smith DET at TEN
36 Jonathan Stewart CAR vs. NYG (Thurs.)
37 Jonathan Dwyer PIT at OAK
38 Isaac Redman PIT at OAK
39 Mikel Leshoure DET at TEN
40 Ryan Williams ARI vs. PHI
41 David Wilson NYG at CAR (Thurs.)
42 Dexter McCluster KC at NO
43 Daryl Richardson STL at CHI
44 Jacquizz Rodgers ATL at SD
45 Lamar Miller MIA vs. NYJ
46 Toby Gerhart MIN vs. SF
47 Kendall Hunter SF at MIN
48 Jackie Battle SD vs. ATL

Injury News:
Ahmad Bradshaw, NYG: Did not play Thursday night against Carolina because of a neck injury.
Jamaal Charles, KC: Expected to play on Sunday in New Orleans after leaving last week's game due to a knee bruise on his surgically repaired left knee (ACL tear last season).
Jonathan Dwyer, PIT: Dealing with a toe injury, missed practice on Wednesday, but practiced fully on Thursday in preparation for Sunday's game in Oakland.
Matt Forte, CHI: Will not play Sunday against St. Louis because of an ankle injury.
Steven Jackson, STL: Missed practice on Wednesday and Thursday because of a groin injury, but he is still hopeful of being able to play on Sunday against Chicago.
Ryan Mathews, SD: Participated in practice on Wednesday and Thursday, including contact drills. Appears to be on track to season debut Sunday against Atlanta after missing just about all of the preseason and the first two games because of a broken collarbone.
Jonathan Stewart, CAR: Did not play Thursday night game against the Giants because of an ankle/toe injury.

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

OFFENSIVE SCORING
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

Additional Week 3 Positional Rankings

Quarterbacks
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends
Kickers
Defense/Special Teams

Week 3 Start or Sit

— Updated on Sept. 21, 2012

Teaser:
<p> 2012 Fantasy Football Running Back Rankings: Week 3</p>
Post date: Thursday, September 20, 2012 - 05:24
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy football rankings, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /nfl/2012-fantasy-football-wide-receiver-rankings-week-3
Body:

Each week during the NFL season, we will rank enough players at each position to appease everyone from those in 8-team leagues to 16-team leagues, those that can start two QBs, two TEs, three RBs and four WRs. We cut out the rest, because if you're looking at who the 50th-best running back or the 17th-best kicker is for that week, you need more help than any Web site can give you.

It turns out the Giants didn't miss Hakeem Nicks (DNP, foot) after all as Ramses Barden filled in admirably (9 rec., 138 yds.) for his injured teammate in the win over Carolina on Thursday night. Barden, running back Andre Brown (113 yards rushing, 2 TDs)  and tight end Martellus Bennett (6 rec., 73 yds., TD) did most of the damage for the G-Men, turning Victor Cruz (6 rec., 42 yds.) into a role player this week.  In other injury news, Greg Jennings is still being limited by the groin injury that caused him to miss last week's game. The Packers don't play until Monday night, which give him more time to recover, but also puts his owners in somewhat of a bind because it's the last game on the docket. Philadelphia plays in Arizona on Sunday and the Eagles' already know they will be without Jeremy Maclin, who has been ruled out because of a hip injury. DeSean Jackson has been dealing with a hamstring issue of his own, so the Eagles' passing attack may end up grounded against the Cardinals. Washington's Pierre Garcon is considered Doubtful for the Redskins game against Cincinnati, meaning he may miss a second straight game because of a nagging foot injury. In Dallas, Miles Austin and Dez Bryant are hoping for results similar to those enjoyed by Nicks and Cruz as the Cowboys host Tampa Bay and its pass defense that gave up more than 500 yards last week. There also could be plenty of offense in the Super Dome as New Orleans and Kansas City face off with each team hoping for a much-needed victory. These two teams are tied for most points allowed at 37.5 per game, which could be good news for Dwayne Bowe, Marques Colston, Lance Moore and possibly even Jon Baldwin owners this week. Colston has been limited by a foot injury, but to this point it has not kept him from playing.

2012 NFL Week 3 Fantasy Football Rankings — Wide Receivers

Rk Player Team OPPONENT
1 Calvin Johnson DET at TEN
2 A.J. Green CIN at WAS
3 Julio Jones ATL at SD
4 Victor Cruz NYG at CAR (Thurs.)
5 Steve Smith CAR vs. NYG (Thurs.)
6 Brandon Marshall CHI vs. STL
7 Percy Harvin MIN vs. SF
8 Roddy White ATL at SD
9 Andre Johnson HOU at DEN
10 Miles Austin DAL vs. TB
11 Jordy Nelson GB at SEA (Mon.)
12 Mike Wallace PIT at OAK
13 Dez Bryant DAL vs. TB
14 Marques Colston NO vs. KC
15 Greg Jennings GB at SEA (Mon.)
16 Dwayne Bowe KC at NO
17 Stevie Johnson BUF at CLE
18 Reggie Wayne IND vs. JAC
19 Larry Fitzgerald ARI vs. PHI
20 Demaryius Thomas DEN vs. HOU
21 Brandon Lloyd NE at BAL
22 Vincent Jackson TB at DAL
23 Antonio Brown PIT at OAK
24 DeSean Jackson PHI at ARI
25 Torrey Smith BAL vs. NE
26 Pierre Garcon WAS vs. CIN
27 Wes Welker NE at BAL
28 Malcom Floyd SD vs. ATL
29 Danny Amendola STL at CHI
30 Lance Moore NO vs. KC
31 Michael Crabtree SF at MIN
32 Brandon LaFell CAR vs. NYG (Thurs.)
33 Eric Decker DEN vs. HOU
34 Santonio Holmes NYJ at MIA
35 Denarius Moore OAK vs. PIT
36 Kenny Britt TEN vs. DET
37 Nate Washington TEN vs. DET
38 Anquan Boldin BAL vs. NE
39 Robert Meachem SD vs. ATL
40 Sidney Rice SEA vs. GB (Mon.)
41 Greg Little CLE vs. BUF
42 Donnie Avery IND vs. JAC
43 Jon Baldwin KC at NO
44 Darrius Heyward-Bey OAK vs. PIT
45 Brian Hartline MIA vs. NYJ
46 Nate Burleson DET at TEN
47 Laurent Robinson JAC at IND
48 Mike Williams TB at DAL
49 Randall Cobb GB at SEA (Mon.)
50 Kevin Ogletree DAL vs. TB
51 Randy Moss SF at MIN
52 Andre Roberts ARI vs. PHI
53 Davone Bess MIA vs. NYJ
54 Ramses Barden NYG at CAR (Thurs.)
55 Kendall Wright TEN vs. DET
56 Donald Jones BUF at CLE
57 Andrew Hawkins CIN at WAS
58 Brandon Gibson STL at CHI
59 Doug Baldwin SEA vs. GB (Mon.)
60 Mario Manningham SF at MIN
61 Justin Blackmon JAC at IND
62 Mohamed Massaquoi CLE vs. BUF
63 James Jones GB at SEA (Mon.)
64 Rueben Randle NYG at CAR (Thurs.)

Injury-Related News:
Marques Colston, NO: Continues to be limited in practice, and to a degree in games, by a nagging foot issue. It has not kept him out of any games, however, and nothing's been said that suggests his status for Sunday's game against Kansas City is in question.
Pierre Garcon, WAS: Listed as Doubtful for Sunday's game against Cincinnati because of a nagging foot injury that prevented him from playing last week.
DeSean Jackson, PHI: Dealing with a hamstring issue, which limited him in practice on Wednesday. He was a full participant in practice on Thursday, so barring any setbacks he should be able to go on Sunday in Arizona.
Greg Jennings, GB: Missed last week's game against Chicago with groin injury, which continues to hamper him at practice. Nothing definitive has been said regarding his status for the Monday night game in Seattle, but it's possible he could be held out for a second straight week if he doesn't show more progress soon.
Jeremy Maclin, PHI: Will not play on Sunday against Arizona because of a hip injury. He practiced on a limited basis this week, but the team made the decision to hold him out of the game on Friday.
Hakeem Nicks, NYG: Did not play Thursday night in Carolina because of a foot injury.

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

OFFENSIVE SCORING
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

Additional Week 3 Positional Rankings

Quarterbacks
Running Backs
Tight Ends
Kickers
Defense/Special Teams

Week 3 Start or Sit

— Updated on Sept. 21, 2012

Teaser:
<p> 2012 Fantasy Football Wide Receiver Rankings: Week 3</p>
Post date: Thursday, September 20, 2012 - 05:17
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy football rankings, NFL, Fantasy
Path: /nfl/2012-fantasy-football-kicker-rankings-week-3
Body:

Each week during the NFL season, we will rank enough players at each position to appease everyone from those in 8-team leagues to 16-team leagues, those that can start two QBs, two TEs, three RBs and four WRs. We cut out the rest, because if you're looking at who the 50th-best running back or the 17th-best kicker is for that week, you need more help than any Web site can give you.

2012 NFL Week 3 Fantasy Football Rankings — Kickers

Rk Player Team OPPONENT
1 David Akers SF at MIN
2 Justin Tucker BAL vs. NE
3 Mason Crosby GB at SEA (Mon.)
4 Garrett Hartley NO vs. KC
5 Stephen Gostkowski NE at BAL
6 Nate Kaeding SD vs. ATL
7 Matt Bryant ATL at SD
8 Sebastian Janikowski OAK vs. PIT
9 Shayne Graham HOU at DEN
10 Dan Bailey DAL vs. TB
11 Blair Walsh MIN vs. SF
12 Jason Hanson DET at TEN
13 Alex Henery PHI at ARI
14 Robbie Gould CHI vs. STL
15 Billy Cundiff WAS vs. CIN
16 Matt Prater DEN vs. HOU

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

KICKER SCORING
PATs = 1 point
39 yards and under = 3 points
40-49 yards = 4 points
50-59 yards = 5 points
60+ yards = 6 points

Additional Week 3 Positional Rankings

Quarterbacks
Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends
Defense/Special Teams

Week 3 Start or Sit

Teaser:
<p> 2012 Fantasy Football Kicker Rankings: Week 3</p>
Post date: Thursday, September 20, 2012 - 05:15
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy football rankings, NFL, Fantasy
Path: /nfl/2012-fantasy-football-defensespecial-teams-rankings-week-3
Body:

Each week during the NFL season, we will rank enough players at each position to appease everyone from those in 8-team leagues to 16-team leagues, those that can start two QBs, two TEs, three RBs and four WRs. We cut out the rest, because if you're looking at who the 50th-best running back or the 17th-best kicker is for that week, you need more help than any Web site can give you.

2012 NFL Week 3 Fantasy Football Rankings — Defense/Special Teams

Rk Player OPPONENT
1 San Francisco 49ers at MIN
2 Houston Texans at DEN
3 Chicago Bears vs. STL
4 Philadelphia Eagles at ARI
5 Pittsburgh Steelers at OAK
6 Green Bay Packers at SEA (Mon.)
7 New York Jets at MIA
8 Baltimore Ravens vs. NE
9 Dallas Cowboys vs. TB
10 Seattle Seahawks vs. GB (Mon.)
11 Arizona Cardinals vs. PHI
12 Detroit Lions at TEN
13 Atlanta Falcons at SD
14 Miami Dolphins vs. NYJ
15 Buffalo Bills at CLE
16 New England Patriots at BAL

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

DEFENSIVE 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

 

Additional Week 3 Positional Rankings

Quarterbacks
Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends
Kickers

Week 3 Start or Sit

Teaser:
<p> 2012 Fantasy Football Defense/Special Teams Rankings: Week 3</p>
Post date: Thursday, September 20, 2012 - 05:14
Path: /nfl/best-and-worst-0-2-teams-nfl
Body:

Before BountyGate sent their season into chaos, the New Orleans Saints rightfully dreamed of being the first team to play a Super Bowl inside their home stadium. They were loaded with talent, one of the most dangerous offenses in the NFL, and came within a whisker of advancing to the NFC championship game last year.

Now, under the weight of scandal and with their head coach sitting home, disgraced, the Saints are in a hole that is virtually insurmountable. Two games into the season they have two losses, and by now they are well aware of the daunting stats: Since the NFL expanded the playoffs to 16 teams in 1990, only 22 of the 184 teams that started 0-2 ended up qualifying for the postseason.

Sure, the Giants became Super Bowl champions after an 0-2 start as recently as 2007, but history is still working against Drew Brees and co.

The good news? They are by far the most equipped of the NFL’s six 0-2 teams to rebound from their disastrous start.

Here’s a look at the teams on the brink of disaster. And no, that’s not too strong of a word considering in that same span only three NFL teams made the playoffs after starting 0-3:

New Orleans Saints—The reason for the Saints’ horrible start has been a defense that has been manhandled and startlingly off performances by quarterback Drew Brees. Here’s the reason to hope, though: Both Brees and defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo know how to dig out of a hole. Brees is too good and has too many weapons for his problems to be a long trend. And Spagnuolo was the defensive coordinator with that Giants team that went 0-2 (thanks mostly to his defense) and ended up as champs (thanks in large part to his defense). Add in arguably the greatest home-field advantage in the NFL and it would be crazy to count them out.

Chances for a rebound: Good, though with the Atlanta Falcons in the same division they should already be aiming for the wild card.

 

Cleveland Browns—Their entire hopes are resting on a 28-year-old rookie quarterback in Brandon Weeden and a rookie running back with injury issues in Trent Richardson. After Week 1, this looked like a program headed for disaster. But in Week 2, both of them looked terrific against Cincinnati. Richardson ran for 109 yards and Weeden threw for 322. The problem, though, is they still lost and chances are both rookies will have their struggles down the road.

Chances for a rebound: In a division with the Ravens, Steelers and Bengals? Forget it. But next year might finally look bright.

 

Jacksonville Jaguars—In the first half against the Houston Texans on Sunday, QB Blaine Gabbert had thrown for minus-4 yards and ended up with a total of 53. If that’s not reason to set off alarm bells, I don’t know what is. They have a clearly rusty Maurice Jones-Drew and a passing attack that fears nobody. They’ve earned their 0-2 start and it’s probably only going to get worse from here.

Chances for a rebound: Bad, unless Gabbert is better than expected and they have more weapons than most people think they have.

 

Tennessee Titans—Running back Chris Johnson is already furious after the Titans’ anemic start – and his too. He has 21 yards on the season with just 19 carries, which is ridiculously bad. The good news, you’d think, is he can’t get any worse, right? Also, a lot of people think Jake Locker has shown some promise. Add in the fact that their early schedule was dangerous – vs. New England, at San Diego, and it’s possible they may have bottomed out.

Chances for a rebound: Good considering Johnson is still likely to push for 1,000 yards on the season. Also they share a division with the awful Jaguars and the rebuilding Indianapolis Colts.

 

Oakland Raiders—The fact that the Raiders have scored just 27 points in their first two games is shocking considering the amount of offensive weapons they have. They had such high hopes for Carson Palmer, who seemed to develop a great chemistry late last season with WR Darius Heyward-Bey. They haven’t been able to connect and RB Darren McFadden has just 54 yards in two games so far. He’s better than that and so are the Raiders. Their defense isn’t great, but they should be able to keep up in high-scoring games.

Chances for a rebound: These are the Raiders, so by now everyone is used to false hope. A turnaround is possible, but they better hurry before the Chargers and Broncos break away.

 

Kansas City Chiefs—It is absolutely startling that Romeo Crennel is coaching a team that can’t seem to play defense. The big problem with that is that Matt Cassel is an average quarterback with good weapons who isn’t equipped to keep coming back. Throw in an average rushing attack behind Jamaal Charles (and company) and it looks like the good feelings the Chiefs built up at the end of last season were nothing but a mirage.

Chances for a rebound: Well, they lost their first two games by 16 and 18 points and now they play at New Orleans, and then home vs. San Diego and Baltimore? They’ll be lucky if they’re not 0-5.

 

By RALPH VACCHIANO

Teaser:
<p> We look at which teams are likely to rebound</p>
Post date: Wednesday, September 19, 2012 - 13:10
Path: /news/peyton-manning-denver-broncos-picked-falcons
Body:

Interception. Interception. Interception. Three-and-out. Fumble. Three-and-out. Touchdown.

If you feel manic reading it, try watching it.

Those were the first six drives for Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos Monday night in Atlanta. It was a dysfunctional night for Manning in his first road start as a Bronco, which resulted in a 27-21 loss to the Atlanta Falcons

The dysfunction came from how the Denver offense played for a majority of the game, how the Atlanta defense lined up a majority of the game and how the replacement officials administered a majority of the game. 

Frankly, the arm strength did not look like it was there early in the contest. 

The first interception Manning threw was tipped 26 yards down field but looked like it was dying on the way to the receiver. 

The second interception was a 21-yard pass that would’ve short-hopped to tight end Jacob Tamme had Thomas DeCoud not stepped in front of it and picked it off. 

The third interception Manning threw was a 25-yard pass intended for receiver Brandon Stokley that the Falcons’ fifth cornerback, Robert McClain, made a good play on, but a pass that also did not appear to have much zip on it.

Through three series, Manning was 4-of-8 for 34 yards with three picks. He followed with 3-for-3 for 15 yards over the next three drives before finally putting a scoring drive together with 4:39 remaining in the opening half. 

It was the Eric Decker Show — the only time in this game Decker produced — as he caught three of the next four balls thrown for 35 yards. They were all short passes that moved the chains into Atlanta territory. 

A couple more short passes, a holding, a sack and a great Demaryius Thomas toe drag into the end zone for a 17-yard catch later and the Broncos were on the board. 

And the manic half came to a close. Manning’s line: 19-13-of-19 for 120 yards, the TD and the three interceptions.

He had almost an identical second half — 11-of-18 for 121 yards — sans the score and the turnovers to finish 24-of-37 for 241 yards. His longest pass of the game was the 18-yarder to Decker on the second play of the first scoring drive.

It is hard to say what to take away from the game in regards to fantasy. 

The positives: Willis McGahee was the best player on the field Monday night for the Broncos. He had 11 carries for 77 yards in the first half and finished with 22 for 113 and a score on the ground to go with two catches for 11 yards.

Thomas is the go-to receiver for Manning right now. His ability to take a pass from just around the line of scrimmage and make something out of nothing is the best on the team. He finished with the score, 11 targets and eight catches for 78 yards. 

Those two are solid fantasy starters each week.

The negatives: It may be hard to depend on the rest of the lineup.

Decker had eight targets for four catches and 53 yards — most coming on the closing drive of the first half. The target he got to start that drive was the first he had seen in over 25 minutes of action.

Brandon Stokely is the problem for Decker right now. Manning’s familiar receiver was targeted six times. And the tight ends Tamme and Joel Dreessen all but canceled each other out with four and two targets and both grabbing two balls for 13 and 16 yards. 

Once Manning gets settled in with the no-huddle in Denver, he should be fine. He might look a little frantic again next week against Houston, but his schedule becomes very fantasy friendly, until at least the start of December, with games against the Raiders, Patriots, Chargers twice, Saints, Bengals, Panthers and Chiefs.

It was not a fun performance to watch from Manning and the Broncos’ offense as a whole, but just knowing that he is healthy and has come through two games having been sacked five times and bounced back is a plus. He has a capable backfield, one stud receiver, a couple of dependable possession guys and two move-the-chains tight ends. He has thrown for at least 240 yards and a score in both games against two pretty good defenses. And after next week the schedule lightens up.

You would like to know the arm strength will get there, but if Thomas continues to be the YAC king, that certainly helps as Manning’s arm does start to strengthen.

Feel good about Manning. Feel good about knowing you probably got him as a steal. And feel good that he still has plenty of fantasy production left in him this season. 

Teaser:
Post date: Tuesday, September 18, 2012 - 07:08
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy Football, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /nfl/2012-fantasy-football-waiver-wire-week-3
Body:

It’s not often you can find the NFL leader in touchdowns on the waiver wire, but that’s the case as we get ready for Week 3. Who is it you ask? His name is Dante Rosario and he’s a tight end for the San Diego Chargers.

The Chargers' starting tight end is, of course, Antonio Gates, but he sat out the 38-10 win over Tennessee with a rib injury and Rosario (four receptions, three TDs) took full advantage of the opportunity.

Rosario, who's sure to receive a fair amount of attention on the waiver wire this week, is just one of the options available that may be able to help your fantasy team, whether that be for this coming week only or beyond. Here are some other names worth considering.

Dante’s Inferno

As surprising as it may have been that Antonio Gates didn’t play Sunday against Tennessee, no one could have predicted that Dante Rosario would make his absence a non-issue. Rosario, who saw just one ball thrown his way in Week 1, connected with Philip Rivers four times against the Titans for 48 yards and, most importantly, three touchdowns.

In just one game, Rosario put himself into a tie for first in the league in touchdowns and tripled his scoring output from the last two seasons combined. Prior to Sunday’s game, he had caught a total of five touchdowns in 77 career games. He went from an afterthought to the fifth highest-scoring tight end in all of fantasy football.

Moving forward, Rosario’s potential value is obviously directly tied to Gates’ health. As soon as Gates returns to the field, Rosario more than likely returns to irrelevance. However, considering Gates’ rib injury was serious enough to keep him out in Week 2, Rosario is certainly worth keeping an eye on until more news comes out on Gates’ status for Week 3.

Quarterbacks

Sam Bradford, St. Louis Rams
It’s only two games, but Bradford is showing signs of the type of production that was regularly expected of him after he was taken No. 1 overall in the 2010 NFL Draft and followed that up by earning AP NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year honors. Bradford has completed more than 70 percent of his passes so far and is coming off of a 310-yard, three-touchdown effort in the Rams' win over Washington. Next up is a Chicago Bears defense that will serve as a good litmus test of how far Bradford and the Rams’ offense have come.

Matt Cassel, Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs are 0-2, but it’s certainly not all Cassel’s fault. Because the Chiefs have yet to take the lead in their first two games, Cassel has had the opportunity to throw the ball a lot and, for the most part, he’s been fairly productive. Cassel has averaged nearly 280 yards per passing in the first two games and up next is New Orleans, the worst defense in the NFL in terms of both yards and points allowed. If Cassel can find a way to cut down on the turnovers (3 TDs, 3 INTs, 2 lost fumbles so far), he could become a more appealing fantasy option as the season progresses.

Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals
Dalton bounced back nicely from a rough opening week performance by throwing for 318 yards and three touchdowns against Cleveland. Dalton’s next four games — at WAS, at JAC, MIA, at CLE — could result in similar numbers. He’s definitely someone worth keeping an eye on as bye weeks start in Week 4.

Alex Smith, San Francisco 49ers
Smith’s game totals through the first two weeks are pretty much mirror images of each other as he’s completed 20 passes with two touchdown passes in each game. The most important number, however, is zero, as in the number of times he has turned the ball over. Smith hasn’t thrown an interception in his last 284 passes, including postseason games, which is a 49ers record. While his numbers may never be spectacular, Smith is quickly becoming a dependable and productive fantasy option.

Running Backs

Andre Brown, New York Giants
Ahmad Bradshaw went out with a neck injury and it was Brown, not first-round pick David Wilson, who got the carries. Brown finished with 71 yards rushing on 13 attempts; good for a more than respectable 5.5 yards per carry average. He also scored the game-winning touchdown with 31 seconds left in the game. The severity of Bradshaw’s injury is not yet known, but given his track record, Brown may be worth a pick up as the Giants get Carolina’s 28th-ranked rushing defense next.

Mikel Leshoure, Detroit Lions
It’s been nearly 17 months since he was drafted in the second round of the 2011 NFL Draft, but Mikel Leshoure should finally make his much-anticipated pro debut this Sunday. Leshoure missed all of last season after tearing his Achilles tendon in August 2011 and  missed the first two games of this season due to suspension. Just how involved he will be in Sunday’s game against Tennessee remains to be seen, but the opportunity is certainly there as current starter Kevin Smith is only averaging four yards per carry.

Lamar Miller, Miami Dolphins
Reggie Bush (172 yards on 26 carries) did most of the damage, but Miller’s 65 yards on 10 carries (6.5 ypc) and a touchdown cannot be ignored. It seems likely that the Dolphins will continue to rely heavily on the running game as they look to ease rookie starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill into the offense. At this point, it looks like fellow rookie Miller has supplanted Daniel Thomas, who did not play Sunday because of a concussion, as the ‘Fins’ No. 2 back.

Daryl Richardson, St. Louis Rams
Richardson got more carries (15 to 9) than Steven Jackson did on Sunday and for the season is averaging 6.1 yards per attempt. Jackson missed the majority of the Rams’ win over Washington with what has been called a groin injury. Couple that with Richardson putting up similar numbers (103 yards rushing to Jackson’s 111) with far fewer carries (17 to 30) and Richardson could be a wise add, especially for Jackson owners.

Ben Tate, Houston Texans
As Sunday’s win over Jacksonville showed, the Texans are capable of supporting two legitimate fantasy options at running back. Arian Foster is the undisputed lead horse for the Texans, but Tate got 12 carries against the Jaguars for 74 yards and two touchdowns. Tate also finished third on the team with four receptions for 23 yards. The obvious handcuff for Foster owners, the argument also could be made for Tate as a weekly flex option.

Pierre Thomas, New Orleans Saints
Mark Ingram got more carries (16 to 9), but Thomas got more yards as he posted 110 against Carolina. While his 12.2 yards per carry average from Sunday's game will be impossible to sustain, Thomas leads the Saints in rushing so far and is fifth on the team in receptions, meaning he’s a significant part of New Orleans’ offensive attack. Ingram and Darren Sproles may get more of the attention and are more widely owned, but Thomas has proven thus far to be just as productive.

Wide Receivers

Danny Amendola, St. Louis Rams
It took him a week longer than I anticipated, but Amendola clearly showed his fantasy potential this past Sunday with his 15-catch, 160-yard and a touchdown performance against Washington. Amendola tied an NFL record with 12 first-half receptions and ended the game with a franchise-record tying 15. With 20 receptions on 25 targets through the first two games, Amendola is clearly Sam Bradford’s No. 1 option and is a legitimate WR3, if not WR2, moving forward.

Donnie Avery, Indianapolis Colts
It was Avery and not Reggie Wayne who got the most targets from Andrew Luck in Week 2. Avery and Luck connected on nine of 10 total targets for 111 yards in the Colts’ win over Minnesota. As long as Austin Collie is sidelined, Avery is worth a pick up considering Luck is averaging nearly 40 pass attempts through the first two games.

Brandon Gibson, St. Louis Rams
Amendola is the undisputed No. 1 target in St. Louis, but to this point, Gibson has been No. 2. Gibson is second to Amendola in receptions and receiving yards, but his two touchdown catches are first on the team. Gibson is more of a deep threat (17.3 ypc) than Amendola, which helps his potential fantasy value.

Brian Hartline, Miami Dolphins
Ryan Tannehill picked up his first career NFL win by posting a solid passing (18-30, 200 yards, TD) performance and Hartline was the prime beneficiary. Tannehill looked Hartline’s way 12 times and the two connected on nine of those targets for 111 yards. It’s reasonable to assume that Tannehill will continue to target Hartline as he acclimates himself to life in the NFL.

Andrew Hawkins, Cincinnati Bengals
Entering the season, Cincinnati knew they had A.J. Green and a bunch of other young guys at wide receiver. Two games into the season, Hawkins, the smallest of the group at 5-7, has made strides to establish himself as Andy Dalton’s second option. The diminutive Hawkins currently leads the team in receiving yards with 142 and has the same number of touchdown catches as Green after his 50-yard scoring play against Cleveland on Sunday.

Greg Little, Cleveland Browns
Brandon Weeden had his first 300-yard passing game on Sunday, albeit in a losing effort, but perhaps the better news for Browns fans is that Little was a significant part of it. After not posting a single reception in Week 1, Little caught five balls for 57 yards and a touchdown against Cincinnati. Little’s 61 receptions in 2011 were the second-most among rookies, so the potential is clearly there. It’s now just a matter of the wideout and the quarterback establishing consistent chemistry, and Little hanging onto the balls thrown his way.

Mohamed Massaquoi, Cleveland Browns
Little’s output notwithstanding, Massaquoi has been Weeden’s favorite target thus far this season. The fourth-year pro from Georgia currently leads the team in targets (15), receptions (8) and yards (131). Given his early rapport with Weeden, Massaquoi's numbers could continue to increase as the Browns’ rookie signal callers gets more and more comfortable in the pocket.

Tight Ends

Martellus Bennett, New York Giants
Eli Manning threw the ball 51 times and piled up 510 yards through the air on Sunday in the win against Tampa Bay. Although wide receivers Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz did the majority of the damage, Bennett joined in on the fun as he was targeted 10 times. Bennett already has nine receptions and two touchdowns through two games and is currently sixth among his position in terms of fantasy scoring. This will probably be the last time you see his name on this list as the argument can be made he’s a legitimate fantasy starter for the rest of the season.

Scott Chandler, Buffalo Bills
The Bills haven’t exactly aired it out this season so far, but Chandler is second only to wide receiver Stevie Johnson in targets (11) and is averaging more than 15 yards per reception. Chandler’s true value, however, comes in the red zone as evidenced by his two touchdown catches that have come inside the opponents’ 20.

Heath Miller, Pittsburgh Steelers
Half of Ben Roethlisberger’s four touchdown passes have gone to his reliable tight end as Miller has made the most of his seven catches. Antonio Brown, Mike Wallace and Emmanuel Sanders may be the Steelers’ primary vertical threats, but there’s no one Big Ben trusts more in the red zone or over the middle than Miller.

Brandon Myers, Oakland Raiders
Carson Palmer has already attempted 94 passes in two games and he’s a perfect 11-for-11 when looking Myers’ way. Now in his fourth season with the Raiders, Myers has been a pleasant surprise and dependable target for Palmer, as evidenced by a team-high six receptions for 86 yards against Miami. Whether he keeps this up moving forward remains to be seen, but if Palmer is going to continue to throw upwards of 40 or more times a game, it does appear Myers will get his share of opportunities.

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.

— By Mark Ross, published on Sept. 18, 2012

Teaser:
<p> 2012 Fantasy Football Waiver Wire: Week 3</p>
Post date: Tuesday, September 18, 2012 - 06:04
Path: /nfl/perfect-signal-caller
Body:

What’s your favorite aspect of a quarterback’s game? Some like arm strength, some favor mobility while everyone wants a tough leader. The Athlon editors decided to take the best traits from elite signal callers like Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees (sorry, no Tim Tebow) and build the perfect NFL quarterback.

Teaser:
<p> Our editors look to construct the ultimate NFL quarterback.</p>
Post date: Monday, September 17, 2012 - 16:35
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Legends Poll
Path: /college-football/legends-poll-top-25-week-3
Body:

The first Legends Poll of the season has come out. The top 25 poll, as voted on by 17 retired college football coaching legends, has Alabama and LSU ranked No. 1 and No. 2, respectively.

Alabama was the unanimous top-ranked team amongst the voters after starting the season 3-0 and demolishing Arkansas, 52-0, on Saturday.

“Alabama is the most physical football team in the country,” former Auburn coach Pat Dye said. “They just keep bringing in good players and they don’t miss a beat.”

LSU claimed the No. 2 spot, followed by the top team in the Pac-12, Oregon. Fourth-ranked Florida State made its first appearance in the Legends Poll in a long while. And Georgia was ranked fifth, giving the SEC three teams in the top 5.

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

THE LEGENDS POLL TOP 25

Rank Team Record Points Pv Rk  
1 Alabama (17) 3-0 425 -  
2 LSU 3-0 402 -  
3 Oregon 3-0 382 -  
4 Florida State 3-0 374 -  
5 Georgia 3-0 349 -  
6 Oklahoma 2-0 320 -  
7 West Virginia 2-0 291 -  
8 Stanford 3-0 284 -  
9 South Carolina 3-0 279 -  
10 Clemson 3-0 260 -  
11 Notre Dame 3-0 254 -  
12 Texas 3-0 242 -  
13 USC 2-1 220 -  
14 Florida 3-0 197 -  
15 Kansas State 3-0 195 -  
16 Ohio State 3-0 192 -  
17 TCU 2-0 166 -  
18 Michigan 2-1 131 -  
19 UCLA 3-0 122 -  
20 Louisville 3-0 119 -  
21 Arizona 3-0 85 -  
22 Michigan State 2-1 76 -  
23 Boise State 1-1 43 -  
24 Nebraska 2-1 21 -  
25 Missouri 2-1 20 -  
           
Others Receiving Votes

Virginia Tech 19, Oklahoma State 11, Tennessee 10, Mississippi State 10, Texas A&M 9, Wisconsin 6, Texas Tech 4, Northwestern 2, Pittsburgh 2, Georgia Tech 1, Utah 1, Cincinnati 1

* The Legends Poll voting process is exactly what the BCS is trying to create and Athlon will bring it to you as the de facto Selection Committee for fans to follow over the next two seasons, allowing you to see how the Selection Committee will operate from 2014 onward.  You can see the entire Poll at www.legendschannel.com.

Teaser:
<p> As voted on by 17 coaching legends</p>
Post date: Monday, September 17, 2012 - 05:47
Path: /nfl/michael-vick-should-sit-fantasy-bench-week-2
Body:

Michael VickFour interceptions. Cleveland Browns. Michael Vick. Wow!

That was my thought pattern upon seeing how poorly the Philadelphia Eagles’ quarterback performed against host Cleveland last week.

Then my thoughts quickly shifted to Week 2 and Vick vs. Baltimore.

No sooner do you start thinking, “If Cleveland did that, what’s Baltimore going to do?” before you hear receivers DeSean Jackson (hamstring) and Jeremy Maclin (hip) are iffy for the second game of the season.

Now you are just getting irritated across the fantasy board: Vick stinks it up, his top two receivers had good debuts but are now hurt and a top-three pick in LeSean McCoy is going to be the focus of the Ravens’ defense.

Both Jackson and Maclin practiced in a limited capacity on Friday and are expected to be game-time decisions. The Eagles did not sign a receiver from the practice squad, so perhaps optimism is high that these two will make it through another 60 minutes.

So then we’re back to Vick. 

He threw a career-high 56 passes against Cleveland last week. Repeat — 56 passes against Cleveland last week, the 30th-ranked rush defense from a year ago at 174.7 yards allowed per game. Vick completed 51.7 percent (29) of those passes for 317 yards and two scores.

Now he faces a Ravens defense, whose top two corners were targeted six times, allowed four catches and 40 yards combined in a 44-13 win over Cincinnati. Unless Vick finds a third receiver — i.e. a receiver paired up against Baltimore defensive back Cary Williams, who allowed seven catches for 82 yards on 10 targets, according to Pro Football Focus — then it’s hard to figure where much of his production will come from.

At least McCoy rushed 20 times for 110 yards and caught six balls for 26 yards and gets a Ravens defense that allowed BenJarvus Green-Ellis to collect 95 total yards and a score. Of course, this is also a Ravens rush defense that was No. 2 in the league last season at 92.6 yards per game. However, BJGE had 56 yards and his score in the first half when it was still a 17-10 game.

If Maclin, Jackson and Vick — all sixth-round fantasy picks or better — are not performing, at least the guy taken top four has a chance to do something. And McCoy as a check down or screen receiver could boost Vick’s numbers. 

But that is asking an awful lot of a QB who had such a poor performance in Week 1 against an inferior team and is now expected to correct himself a week later against a much better defense with his top two receivers iffy at best.

Then there’s this notable stat: Baltimore has not allowed multiple touchdown passes from opposing quarterbacks in a regular season game since Drew Brees tossed three in Week 15 of the 2010 season.

It’s hard to walk away from Vick in a week in which his health is not an issue, but this is one of those weeks where I can do it and have no regrets.

—Corby A. Yarbrough @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter

Teaser:
Post date: Sunday, September 16, 2012 - 08:56
Path: /nfl/injury-updates-week-2-jeremy-maclin-ryan-mathews-pierre-garcon
Body:

There are a few key fantasy contributors that have had a number of question marks surrounding their playing status leading up to Week 2 of the 2012 NFL season. Here’s a little bit about these three and why you should look elsewhere today.

Jeremy Maclin, WR, Philadelphia

Two good things happened in the last few days for the Eagles top PPR receiver: he practiced on Friday — albeit on a limited basis — and the team did not sign another receiver from the practice squad to address the issues with Maclin (hip) and fellow receiver DeSean Jackson (hamstring).

So Maclin is likely to play, which is the good news. 

The bad news is that Maclin will still likely draw either draw Lardarius Webb or Jimmy Smith in coverage.

According to Pro Football Focus. Webb was in on 537 snaps a season ago, targeted 90 times and allowed 52 catches for 615 yards with no scores and five picks. Smith played 173 snaps as a rookie, was targeted 33 times, allowed 16 catches for 217 yards with three TDs and two picks.

If you take anything away from last week’s game against Cleveland rookie QB Brandon Weeden, Webb was in on 37 snaps, had five passes thrown his way, allowed three catches for 23 yards; Smith played 28 snaps, saw one target which he allowed a 17-yard completion on. 

Weeden or Vick, it’s a pretty bad matchup all around for the Eagles’ passing game.

Ryan Mathews, RB, San Diego

Will he play? Won’t he play? Why would he play?

If you saw the Titans’ defense against the run last week, apparently anyone could rush for 100 yards. Have you seen the Titans record on the West Coast since they moved from Houston? It is not good, as in 4-11 not good since 1997.

I would expect the Chargers to be in control of this game and Mathews, while he might return from his clavicle injury, should not have to be counted on for a full workload. 

This is not a situation like Adrian Peterson or Maurice Jones-Drew from a week ago. Both of their squads, actually facing off against each other, were in contention for a win and those backs were called upon for the entire 60 minutes to try and help attain that win.

This should not be the case for Mathews and the Chargers, who are already plus-one in the win column, sans their star running back.

Pierre Garcon, WR, Washington

A right foot injury is likely to keep the Redskins’ No. 1 receiver out of the contest at St. Louis today. It would be quite a blow to QB Robert Griffin III’s success against the Rams, but could mean bigger things for fellow rookie Alfred Morris in regards to running the ball.

Garcon, in just eight plays, was a stud last week thanks to a screen pass he turned into an 88-yard touchdown; it’s always nice to get 15.8 points in a PPR on one play. He finished with four catches for 101 yards and the score — on eight plays. However, Garcon was limited in practice all week and even if he were to miraculously suit up, with little prep it’s hard to advise on placing him in your lineup.

If you want to have a back up option, go get Aldrick Robinson off the waiver wire. The SMU product — plug for my dad’s alma mater there — caught four balls for 52 yards, including 30 yards of after-the-catch production, and a score in Week 1.

The two benefactors if Garcon were to sit have to be Morris and Robinson versus the Rams today.

—Corby A. Yarbrough @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter

Teaser:
Post date: Sunday, September 16, 2012 - 08:30
All taxonomy terms: News
Path: /news/anquan-boldin-start-ravens-receiver-against-eagles
Body:

Where you rank Baltimore Ravens receiver Anquan Boldin for Week 2 depends on two things: 1) How many plays you believe Baltimore will run its no-huddle offense against the Philadelphia Eagles, and 2) how many times you believe Boldin will line up in the slot — i.e. away from Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.

The Ravens ran the no-huddle on 21 of 58 offensive plays in the Week 1 44-13 win over Cincinnati. If Baltimore continues to run the no-huddle and move the ball down the field at a fast pace, it can offset the Eagles’ deep set of pass rushers and keep the standout defensive backs on their heels.

Enter Anquan Boldin. 

Assuming Jacoby Jones and Torrey Smith can handle the outside receiver duties, then Boldin can move to the slot where he is historically a monster. He should also draw rookie defensive back Brandon Boykin in coverage while in the slot. 

That is a 6-1, 223-pound 10-year veteran versus a 5-9, 182-pound rookie.

According to Pro Football Focus, Boldin played 48 snaps and saw five targets in the win over Cincinnati. He pulled in four of the targets for 63 yards and a score. Now, only 16 of those 48 snaps and only two of those targets were in the slot. But the one slot target he caught was for a 34-yard touchdown.

Boykin did hold Greg Little to no catches in the opener last week. But, that is Greg Little and that was rookie Brandon Weeden throwing to him. This is Flacco — never thought I’d type that with such affirmation — and this is a veteran receiver.

If it was not already moving fast enough for a rookie, then what will a no-huddle in your second week of NFL action against a slot veteran mean for Boykin? It should mean good news for Boldin and bad news for Boykin.

Overall in 2011, Boldin was targeted a team-high 105 times and had a team-high 240 snaps and 39 targets in the slot. He caught 23 of them for 354 yards and a score. It is possible that Asomugha covers Boldin in the slot, but of the 540 snaps Asomugha played in coverage last season, only 107 of them were in the slot, according to Pro Football Focus.

Points may be at a premium in this game. Flacco’s time to get rid of the ball may be a premium versus that pass rush in this game. Boldin’s experience and matchup may be just the answer for both premiums.

If I’m picking one Ravens receiver this week it’s Boldin.

—Corby A. Yarbrough @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter

Teaser:
Post date: Sunday, September 16, 2012 - 08:14
Path: /nfl/lance-moore-start-saints-receiver-against-panthers-week-2
Body:

If only Lance Moore could stay healthy and that New Orleans receiving corps could be thinned out a bit. Those were two of the things I was looking for when scouting Moore’s fantasy prospects for 2012. 

Well, both have happened and there he sits on on my dynasty league roster. Now, what do I do with him in Week 2?

Do I look at the 10-target, six-reception, 120-yard, one-touchdown performance in Week 1 and say, I told me so? Or do I say it was all in garbage time in a loss to Washington?

Moore, who played 56 of the 75 offensive plays, was targeted on the second offensive play of the game and it was incomplete. He was not targeted on a seven-play, 80-yard scoring drive on the second series. He was targeted again on the first play of the third series and it was incomplete. Moore then did not see a target again until 11:24 remained in the third quarter with the team down 27-14 — it was incomplete. It took 13 more plays before Moore saw another target — a deep pass that went incomplete.

Then the middle of the fourth quarter came; the Saints were down 33-17. Moore was targeted on the first play and made his first grab for 12 yards. Four plays later, it was Brees to Moore again for an incompletion on third-and-10. Trailing big, the Saints go for it and Brees finds Moore for a 33-yard TD.

Through 56 minutes, Moore had six targets, two catches, 45 yards and a TD in a game that was now 33-25. There’s a 12.5-point day in fantasy right there. 

Until he’s more consistent, Moore is not a WR1 or 2 but is a decent flex. So 12.5 from a flex is OK to get your Week 1 going.

The next drive started with a pass intended for Moore that was intercepted. The Redskins converted it into an Alfred Morris 3-yard score and 40-25 lead.

There’s 3:18 left on the clock. Now it’s garbage time.

Moore is targeted two times, catches two for 34 yards and sets up another player to salvage his fantasy day as Darren Sproles had a receiving TD from the 2.

Moore catches his next two targets for 15 and 26 yards, Brees is intercepted on a Hail Mary and the day is over. Pre-garbage for Moore is 2-45-1; by game’s end it is 6-120-1.

This is a long road to lead you down to say: start Lance Moore as at least a WR2 this week.

Three reasons: Teammate Devery Henderson (concussion) is out. Chris Gamble for the Panthers. The Saints’ passing defense.

Henderson’s absence thins out the receiving corps, thus more opportunities for Moore early and often. 

Gamble is the top corner in the NFC South and just posted a game in which only four passes came his way for one catch and six yards and a TD (Mike Williams with 5:20 left in the first quarter).

New Orleans just allowed rookie Robert Griffin III to throw for 306 yards and two scores on 19-of-26 passing with no interceptions.

The knock on Moore could be his performance away from domes — 76-807-6 to 174-2,096-25 indoors in 24 versus 46 games. But he has also not had the opportunity to be the clear-cut No. 2 WR for the Saints like he has now.

If there was EVER a week to trust Lance Moore, this has to be the week.

—Corby A. Yarbrough @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter

Teaser:
Post date: Sunday, September 16, 2012 - 08:10
All taxonomy terms: Brandon LaFell, Carolina Panthers, NFL, News
Path: /nfl/brandon-lafell-carolina-panthers-receiver-could-have-big-week-2
Body:

You cannot call Brandon LaFell the clear-cut No. 2 receiver for the Carolina Panthers, but his connection with quarterback Cam Newton has not faded from a season ago. 

Brandon LaFell was targeted five times in the Week 1 loss to Tampa Bay and caught three of them for 65 yards. Those numbers are nearly identical to Louis Murphy, who was acquired in a trade with Oakland in the offseason. Murphy had five targets, three catches for 63 yards. 

LaFell’s third-quarter, 22-yard touchdown and the fact he played 100 percent of the snaps (52) were the difference between the two receivers in Week 1.

So why would you consider starting LaFell in Week 2 against the visiting New Orleans Saints?

Well, there are a few reasons. 

No. 1 is the health of Steve Smith, who has battled a knee injury this week. No. 2 is the Saints’ pass defense, or lack thereof. No. 3 is LaFell played every offensive snap a week ago.

New Orleans just allowed Washington rookie Robert Griffin III to throw for 320 yards and two scores on 19-of-26 passing with no interceptions. All but two Redskins pass catchers averaged double-digits in yards per catch against the Saints in Week 1.

So the numbers are there for the taking for Carolina’s receivers.

Let us also keep in mind the Panthers were the No. 24 defense against the pass last season. Holding Josh Freeman to 16-of-24 for 138 yards and a first-quarter TD pass in Week 1 is one thing compared to Drew Brees throwing for 748 yards, seven touchdowns and two interceptions in the two meetings against Carolina a year ago.

Newton was not nearly as productive in his two games with the Saints — 382 yards, three passing TDs and two interceptions. 

However, as most Saints’ games go, expect a shootout. 

If you’re telling me each team allows at least 20 points — something the Saints allowed last week and eight times last season — once to the Panthers — and something Carolina allowed 11 times last season — and in both meetings against the Saints, then give me a receiver that’s going to be a part of that.

LaFell was targeted 56 times last season, pulling down 36 of those balls for 613 yards and three touchdowns in 16 games played and five starts. LaFell also played 27 of his 52 snaps last week in the slot, garnering three targets, two catches and the 22-yard TD, according to Pro Football Focus.

Murphy, in 11 games and one start with Oakland last season, was targeted 33 times for 15 catches, 241 yards and no scores. Murphy had seven of his 39 snaps in the slot last week, was targeted once there and did not catch it.

—Corby A. Yarbrough @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter

Teaser:
Post date: Sunday, September 16, 2012 - 07:53
Path: /nfl/chris-johnson-sit-titans-running-back-week-2-versus-san-diego-chargers
Body:

At what point do we stop starting Tennessee Titans' running back Chris Johnson on the “potential” that he could do something each week?

Unless you are in a PPR league, there is NO way you can comfortably insert Johnson into your starting lineup on a weekly basis. Even as a flex he is questionable.

Yes, you spent the high draft pick on potential. And that was unfortunate on your part. But the theory of “you picked ’em high, start ’em” is flawed. If someone has a better matchup and you know it, you go with the better matchup. 

There are very few RBs that are immune to this theory. 

Johnson used to be one of them; two years ago for sure, last year because we were naïve. Arian Foster, Ray Rice, LeSean McCoy, Adrian Peterson, Maurice Jones-Drew, DeMarco Murray, a healthy Darren McFadden and Matt Forte, before Thursday’s injury, all still hold the status of “start ’em no matter what.”

But there is very little through 2011, three 2012 preseason games and one 2012 regular season game — albeit against a stout New England front — that says Johnson is anywhere close to having that status as a reliable starter.

If the four rushing yards on 11 carries in Week 1 were not enough to convince you then how about the fact that he only pulled off double-digit rushing performances on four occasions last season. And those came against the Nos. 30, 25, 6 and 28th ranked rush defenses. 

That was a year ago. After one week, all four of those defenses were ranked 21st or worst against the run.

Johnson, who eclipsed 70 yards rushing just four times last season, had eight double-digit fantasy days altogether in 2011, and four of those were 13.2 points or less. Is that what you want from a top-12 pick? Take away the PPR and he drops to five double-digit days. 

Now it’s on to San Diego and a Chargers team that was 20th against the run last season. All they did was finish the first week as the sixth-best team against the run, holding Oakland’s Darren McFadden to 32 rushing yards on 15 carries.

McFadden, like Johnson, only salvaged his high-pick status in Week 1 by catching a career-high 13 balls for 86 yards. Johnson did the same, countering the 11 yards on the ground with six catches for 47 yards. 

The Titans’ offensive line looked awful against the Patriots and the few chances Johnson did have he danced behind the line of scrimmage. Meanwhile, his counterpart, Stevan Ridley, was aggressive running through any lane created by the Patriots’ offensive line. 

Oh, remember when Johnson was aggressive? But I digress.

There is nothing to suggest that the Titans, who have traditionally been awful on the West Coast — 4-11 since moving to Tennessee in 1997 — can have success running against the Chargers.

Add in that starting QB Jake Locker (shoulder) and starting receiver Nate Washington (leg contusion) are hurting and receiver Kenny Britt (knee/suspension) will be on a limited snap count as he makes his first appearance since Week 3 of 2011 and there are not a lot of positives surrounding the Titans’ camp.

The only saving grace for Johnson will be in PPR leagues as Javon Ringer (elbow) is still out and will not vulture snaps. But if you are banking on starting CJ on just the PPR potential, it’s going to be a long year at your RB1 or 2 spot.

I may be wrong, but I will take being wrong until Johnson can consistently prove he’s right again. I am tired of starting him on “potential” when players like Ridley, Doug Martin, C.J. Spiller, BenJarvus Green-Ellis and even Alfred Morris clearly have better matchups in Week 2.  

—Corby A. Yarbrough @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter

Teaser:
Post date: Sunday, September 16, 2012 - 07:45
All taxonomy terms: crossword, Monthly
Path: /monthly/september-2012-crossword-solution
Body:

Teaser:
Post date: Friday, September 14, 2012 - 15:15
Path: /nfl/bears-qb-jay-cutler-underwhelms-against-green-bay-packers
Body:

We fell for it and we could not have been any angrier watching that disaster of a fantasy, er, football game Thursday night as the Green Bay Packers beat the Chicago Bears, 23-10.

We fell for Jay Cutler’s Tuesday presser this week where he told us “this is a totally different scheme, a mentality and direction that we’re going offensively.”
 
Why didn’t we just see it right there? 
 
He all but told us he was the same Cutler, just with a healthy thumb now. 
 
Totally different scheme, mentality and direction could have been looked at as where the offense goes from here under new offensive coordinator Mike Tice and quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates. After all, it’s Tice who was set to get a true ground game going in Chicago and Bates who coached Cutler for three seasons in Denver.
 
In hindsight, it looks like Cutler again placing blame where he always has — elsewhere.
Cutler was cocky and confident on Tuesday. He invited press coverage; he invited man coverage from the Packers.
 
Yes, my heart believed while my mind was telling me: “You know better than this.”
But it was all there for the taking.
 
We saw Green Bay’s last-ranked pass defense from a year ago that showed up at home in Week One and allowed San Francisco’s Alex Smith to throw for a pedestrian 211 yards but on 20-of-26 passing with two scores and no interceptions.
 
We saw Cutler’s two new weapons — Brandon Marshall (6-5) and Alshon Jeffery (6-3) going against smaller cornerbacks Tramon Williams (5-11) and Jarrett Bush (6-0). He even has his old Vanderbilt buddy, Earl Bennett, to run around the middle of the field and make plays. 
 
But numbers are numbers are numbers. We don’t even care that he was 1-5 in six starts against Green Bay; this is fantasy football. However, Cutler had completed just 56.9 percent of his passes for 240.2 yards per outing with 11 interceptions and seven scores going into Thursday’s game. That’s terrible.
 
And if that’s terrible, what’s this?: 11-of-27 for 126 yards, one TD and four interceptions. Well, that’s just “same old Jay” as Packers defensive back Charles Woodson said after the game.
 
Why didn’t it just register in my mind that Cutler was 1-for-10 for 13 yards before elite pass rusher Dwight Freeney went out of the game last week against the Indianapolis? I’m pretty sure 32nd-ranked pass defense or not, the Packers have more to offer in the form of pressure than the Colts do.
 
But there we were, holding out hope much like Cutler was holding on to the ball for….ev…..er.
 
It may be said that Thursday night was a result of his offensive line, the drops from his receivers or that running back Matt Forte went out with an ankle injury in the third quarter. But it’s always going to be something with Cutler. 
 
With this performance fresh in our minds, it is easy to be beyond pessimistic on what Cutler has in store as a fantasy QB the rest of the way. 
 
Next up are the Rams, Cowboys and Jaguars before a bye. He returns to face the Lions, Panthers, Titans, Texans and 49ers. 
 
Call us pessimistic. 
 
Look at the numbers see that Cutler was only a top-10 fantasy quarterback on three occasions last season and a top-12 in only four outings. On three occasions he was 24th or worse. He reached as high as fifth in his last game before the thumb injury but that came a week after he was 31st.
 
That about sums it up, don’t you think? 
 
Cutler will get his some weeks. But with games against Dallas, Detroit, Houston, San Francisco and Carolina, yes, even Carolina where he finished 32nd amongst QBs when he faced them last year, he just can’t be trusted as a weekly starter.
 
Perhaps he will put it together against the likes of the Rams and Jaguars and Titans and you can trust him again. But then fate and Packers rear their heads again as he gets Green Bay again in the fantasy semifinals Week 15.
 
In the words of Jay Cutler this week: “Good luck.” 
 
— By Corby A. Yarbrough,  @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter
Teaser:
<p> Despite his assurances, Cutler was a fantasy football dud.</p>
Post date: Friday, September 14, 2012 - 07:30
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy Football, NFL, Fantasy
Path: /nfl/2012-fantasy-football-week-2-start-or-sit
Body:

Week 2 of the 2012 NFL season is here, which means it's time to get those fantasy lineups in order for this weekend’s action. Just like the 16 NFL teams that lost in Week 1, there’s still plenty of time to right the ship if your fantasy team is 0-1, especially if you can get into the win column this week.

Athlon Sports is to help you make those important decisions each week with our Start and Sit suggestions. Keep in mind these are merely our suggestions as the ultimate decision comes down to you, the owner.

Week 2 Positional Rankings

Sneaky Start of the Week
Alex Smith, QB, San Francisco vs. Detroit
San Francisco had the third most rushing attempts in the NFL last season, compared to the second-fewest pass attempts. During the offseason, the 49ers added wide receivers Randy Moss and Mario Manningham through free agency and drafted A.J. Jenkins in the first round, looking to give Alex Smith more weapons. If the early results are to be believed, it looks like the team is in fact serious about airing it out more in 2012.

Against Green Bay in Week 1, Smith had just six fewer pass attempts (26) compared to rushes (32) by the team, completing 20 passes for 211 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. He connected with six different receivers, including four times each with Moss and Manningham. This week Smith and the 49ers open up at home against Detroit and a secondary that’s still dealing with several injuries. If Smith plays like he did against the Packers, I think he’s in for an even bigger week, as he’s also capable of making plays with his legs.

Surprise Sit of the Week
Joe Flacco, QB, Baltimore vs. Philadelphia
Fewer quarterbacks had a better opening week than Flacco, who threw for 299 yards and two touchdowns on 21-of-29 passing against Cincinnati on Monday night. Uncharacteristically, the Ravens threw more times (32) than they ran the ball (23), as Ray Rice had just 10 carries on the night.

Those who are expecting similar numbers from Flacco this week against Philadelphia are going to be in for rude awakening, I’m afraid. For one, the Eagles defense figures to be a little more difficult to post big numbers against compared to the Bengals. Last week, the Eagles hurried and harassed Cleveland quarterback Brandon Weeden all game as the rookie struggled mightily in his NFL debut, connecting on just 12 of 35 pass attempts for only 118 yards. He also threw four picks and was sacked twice. Besides the Eagles’ pass rush and secondary, I also think Flacco will be held in check by the Ravens’ own game plan, which I believe will feature a much heavier dose of Rice and the running game.

Quarterbacks
START
Ben Roethlisberger (PIT) vs. New York Jets
Big Ben was solid in Week 1 against Denver, but his pass protection broke down late and he threw a costly pick-six in the fourth quarter. Even though it’s the Jets this week, the game is at home, where Roethlisberger always plays well, and the visitors will more than likely be missing their best defensive player. Cornerback Darrelle Revis suffered a concussion in last week’s win against Buffalo and as of Thursday had not yet been cleared to practice. No Revis completely changes the complexion of the Jets’ secondary and defense as a whole, which increases Big Ben’s fantasy appeal.

Christian Ponder (MIN) at Indianapolis
Ponder was very solid (20-27, 270 yards) in the Vikings' win against Jacksonville. He didn’t throw any touchdown passes, but that should change, especially with Adrian Peterson appearing to be close to his usual form after his first game back since tearing his ACL late last season. This week, Ponder and the Vikings will get their shot at a Colts’ defense that gave up more than 400 yards of total offense, including 333 through the air, to the Bears in Week 1.

Kevin Kolb (ARI) at New England
This is a tentative endorsement as you should have better options than Kolb on your roster, but I am curious to see how Kolb does against New England. The high-priced backup entered last week’s game against Seattle in the fourth quarter after starter John Skelton went down with an ankle injury. Kolb completed six of the eight passes he threw, including the game-winning score. Skelton will more than likely be unable to go this Sunday against the Patriots, giving Kolb another shot to show everyone why the Cardinals traded for him in the first place. New England gave up 264 yards passing to the Titans in Week 1, and you have to figure Kolb will get his chances to air it out as the Cardinals will be trying to keep up with the Patriots on the scoreboard.

SIT
Michael Vick (PHI) at Baltimore
The Eagles won, but Vick (completed just 52 percent of passes, 4 INTs) didn’t play all that well even though he finished with more than 300 yards passing. That was against Cleveland. This week it’s Baltimore and the Ravens defense that limited Andy Dalton to 211 yards passing with no touchdowns, sacked him four times and forced two turnovers. It also doesn't help that both of Vick's top wide receivers, DeSean Jackson (hamstring) and Jeremy Maclin (hip), missed practice on Thursday and their status is uncertain headed into Sunday's game.

Carson Palmer (OAK) at Miami
Palmer completed 32 passes on Monday night against San Diego, with 13 of those going to his running back, Darren McFadden. The Raiders’ wide receivers situation is a mess right now because of injuries and I don’t think it will get markedly better this week as the Silver and Black make the cross-country trip to take on Miami.

Mark Sanchez (NYJ) at Pittsburgh
Sanchez was near spectacular (266 yards, 3 TDs, INT) against Buffalo in Week 1 as Tim Tebow was basically relegated to mop-up duty. This week the Jets go to Pittsburgh to take on a Steelers defense that’s still smarting from the loss in Denver and gets starting free safety Ryan Clark and linebacker James Harrison back. I expect the going for the Jets’ offense to be much tougher this Sunday and it wouldn’t surprise me one bit if Tebow sees significantly more snaps as the Jets will turn to their version of the Wildcat to keep the Steel Curtain off balance.

Running Backs
START

Doug Martin (TB) at New York Giants
Martin dominated the carries for the Buccaneers in Week 1, getting 24 of the team’s 36, and also caught four passes out of the backfield. The Giants gave up 131 yards on the ground to DeMarco Murray in their opener, and I think Martin will get more than enough touches in this game to be a factor.

Jonathan Stewart (CAR) vs. New Orleans
Barring a late setback, Stewart should make his season debut against the Saints after missing Week 1 because of an ankle injury. The good news for Stewart is twofold: 1) The Panthers rushed for a grand total of 13 yards on 10 carries without him last week against Tampa Bay and 2) He’s going up against a rush defense that gave up 153 yards to the Redskins in Week 1. Stewart also is a legitimate threat as a receiver out of the backfield, further increasing his value.

Jonathan Dwyer (PIT) vs. New York Jets
Isaac Redman got the start and more carries (11 to 9) against Denver, but it was Dwyer who did more damage, finishing with a team-high 43 yards rushing. His solid production was enough to earn him a bigger role for this Sunday’s game against the Jets. Remember, the Jets gave up 169 yards on the ground to C.J. Spiller, who like Dwyer was initially Buffalo’s backup running back, last week. Depending on your other options, Dwyer may be worth taking a flyer on as a RB3 or flex option this week.

SIT
Michael Turner (ATL) vs. Denver (Monday)
Going into the season, the expectation was that the Falcons would cut down on Turner’s workload. That came to fruition last week as he got only 11 carries against Kansas City, finishing with a mere 32 yards. The Falcons seem very comfortable with a more pass-oriented offense and between that and the presence of Jacquizz Rodgers, who got seven carries and is a bigger threat out of the backfield as a receiver, I expect we will see more of the same on Monday night against Denver.

Aflred Morris (WAS) at St. Louis
Yes, Alfred Morris got more than 65 percent of the Redskins’ carries in Week 1, turning those opportunities into 96 yards and two touchdowns. However, that doesn’t mean that this week it won’t be Roy Helu or Evan Royster or even Robert Griffin III with that distinction. Plus, the Redskins will be going up against a St. Louis defense that surrendered a total of 83 yards on the ground to Detroit in Week 1. If you want to jump on the Morris bandwagon, you go right on ahead. I’m just not quite ready to join you.

Kevin Smith (DET) at San Francisco
The good: Smith scored two touchdowns last week against St. Louis, one rushing, one receiving. The bad: He only had 81 total yards (62 rushing, 29 receiving) in that game. The ugly: That came against St. Louis, this week the Lions take on San Francisco, who gave up only 45 yards rushing to Green Bay in Week 1.

Wide Receivers
START

Wes Welker (NE) vs. Arizona
Including Welker here says his three-catch, 14-yard effort against Tennessee last week is the exception and not the norm. I expect Tom Brady will look to get Welker involved early and often this Sunday against Arizona.

Antonio Brown (PIT) vs. New York Jets
Brown’s numbers (4 rec., team-high 74 yards) weren’t bad in Week 1 against Denver; they just don’t jump out at you either. It wouldn’t surprise me to see that change this Sunday as the Jets will more than likely be without All-Pro cornerback Darrelle Revis. No Revis thins out the Jets’ secondary from the start, and I think Brown is the Steeler receiver who will benefit most from his absence.

Andre Roberts (ARI) at New England
Larry Fitzgerald is the main man in Arizona, there’s no doubt about that, but there’s plenty of room for a No. 2 and right now that appears to be Roberts, and not first-round pick Michael Floyd. Roberts finished second to Fitzgerald in targets in Week 1, turning nine of them into a team-high five receptions. One of those was the game-winning touchdown pass from Kevin Kolb in the fourth quarter. Kolb is expected to start this Sunday’s game in New England.

SIT
Sidney Rice (SEA) vs. Dallas
The Cowboys upgraded their secondary during the offseason through both free agency (Brandon Carr) and the draft (Morris Claiborne) and it held up very well against Eli Manning and the Giants’ pass attack in Week 1. Russell Wilson looked every bit the rookie in his first NFL start last week against Arizona. Don’t expect drastic improvement from the Seahawks’ passing game this Sunday either.

Kevin Ogletree (DAL) at Seattle
Ogletree stole the show a week ago when he starred in the NFL’s season opener, grabbing a game-high eight passes for 114 yards and two touchdowns. Seattle’s secondary will be a much tougher test for Ogletree and the entire Cowboys’ passing game this week compared to the Giants’ injury-depleted corps they faced in Week 1. Ogletree may be productive again, but expectations should be limited to that of a possible WR3, and not along the lines of what he did in Week 1.

Titus Young (DET) at San Francisco
Young caught just one pass in Week 1 as he committed a personal foul penalty that earned him a seat on the bench for much of the game. Young is oozing with fantasy upside, especially if he grabs hold of the No. 2 wide receiver job for the Lions, but just hasn’t been able to get out of his own way. Until he can prove that he can maintain his composure on the field, including practicing with his own teammates, it’s probably best to leave him on your bench.

Tight Ends
Start
Jared Cook (TEN) at San Diego
Cook led all Titans receivers with 64 yards on four catches last week and his workload should only increase as the season goes on. The Titans could have wide receiver Kenny Britt back on the field this week, which should help Cook more than hurt him as Britt’s presence, especially as a deep threat, helps open the middle of the field even more for the athletic tight end.

Kyle Rudolph (MIN) at Indianapolis
It's Coby Fleener’s home debut, but don’t be surprised if Rudolph is the young tight end that finishes with better numbers in this game. The Colts’ linebacking corps is missing its leader as Pat Angerer is still sidelined by a broken foot. Rudolph, who caught five passes for 67 yards last week, should be able to find plenty of room to roam in the middle of the field this Sunday.

Martellus Bennett (NYG) vs. Tampa Bay
Eli Manning found Bennett in the end zone in Week 1 against Dallas and will look for his tight end again this week against Tampa Bay. Bennett’s size is a weapon in the red zone, and Manning has never been afraid to throw to his tight ends.

SIT
Fred Davis (WAS) at St. Louis
Surprisingly, Davis and Robert Griffin III only connected twice during the rookie’s impressive debut against New Orleans. While that could change any given week or as the season progresses, I would consider benching Davis until Griffin starts looking his way more consistently.

Jason Witten (DAL) at Seattle
Let’s give credit where credit is due. I was stunned when Witten played last week against the Giants in the first place. However, it shouldn’t be ignored that he caught just two passes and was only targeted three times. It’s completely understandable that Witten may not be back to 100 percent health for several more weeks. This is also the reason why I would bench the All-Pro, at least until his production is more along the lines of what we have come to expect.

Brent Celek (PHI) vs. Baltimore
Michael Vick did look Celek’s way eight times in Week 1 against Cleveland, but what’s more concerning to me is that Clay Harbor, and not Celek, appeared to get the looks when the Eagles were in the red zone. That coupled with Ray Lewis and co. on the docket this Sunday is more than enough reason for me to bypass Celek this week.

Defense/Special Teams
START

New England vs. Arizona
Arizona should be able to get some yards and points against the Patriots, but their run defense was awfully stout against Tennessee last week and I expect the opportunistic unit to get a score via a turnover or on special teams.

Cincinnati vs. Cleveland
What better way to let your defense get healthy and gain some confidence than to face an offense with a rookie quarterback that did next-to-nothing in Week 1, right?

Oakland at Miami
See above and add to it the fact that the Raiders gave up just one touchdown to the Chargers in five red zone attempts on Monday night. It’s entirely possible that the Dolphins end up with fewer this Sunday.

SIT
New York Giants vs. Tampa Bay
The Giants’ defense yielded both a 100-yard rusher and 300-yard passer in their opener. While the Cowboys’ offense and the Buccaneers’ offense are two entirely different animals, I think Tampa has enough weapons and will get enough opportunities to make the Giants’ defense a fantasy non-factor once again.

Detroit Lions at San Francisco
The Lions’ defense more than held its own against St. Louis in Week 1, but will face something completely different this Sunday in San Francisco. The 49ers attacked Green Bay in Week 1 with both the run and the pass, and I’m expecting more of the same this Sunday in their home opener. The Lions' D relies heavily on big plays and turnovers, but the 49ers have a reputation for protecting the ball.

Kickers
START

Nate Kaeding (SD) vs. Tennessee
The Chargers had all sorts of trouble punching it into the end zone against Oakland, which resulted in Kaeding kicking five field goals. Given their issues along the offensive line and with the running game, I don’t expect much to change this Sunday against the Titans.

Justin Tucker (BAL) at Philadelphia
Baltimore should be able to move the ball and put several drives together against the Eagles, but I think they will have trouble getting into the end zone. This should leave Tucker with plenty of chances to put three points on the board.

SIT
Dan Carpenter (MIA) vs. Oakland
Carpenter’s chances to kick will be limited as long as Ryan Tannehill struggles under center.

Phil Dawson (CLE) at Cincinnati
Dawson and Carpenter will probably remain linked throughout the season as both kickers are relying on struggling offenses led by rookie quarterbacks to provide them with scoring opportunities.

— By Mark Ross, published on Sept. 14, 2012

Teaser:
<p> 2012 Fantasy Football: Week 2 Start or Sit</p>
Post date: Friday, September 14, 2012 - 06:30
Path: /golf/golfs-mount-rushmore
Body:

As my colleague Charlie Miller has continued to unveil his elite quartets for each major league baseball franchise, it got me to thinking: Who is on golf’s Mount Rushmore?

Arnold Palmer received the Congressional Gold Medal this week as that body's "highest expression of national appreciation for distinguished achievements and contributions." Arnie is clearly one member of this elite foursome, as is Jack Nicklaus, who was also on hand for the ceremony in the Capitol Rotunda.

In completing my list, I used two primary criteria: achievement and impact. Who won important golf tournaments, and who transcended the game while doing so?

Here, then, is my ultimate foursome — the four men who have had the greatest, most lasting impact on the game of golf. Feel free to tell me where I’m wrong.

Tiger Woods

Rather than recite Tiger’s resume, I’d rather revisit the one moment that made Woods’ spot on golf’s Mount Rushmore an inevitability. In April 1997, Woods so dominated the most storied and tradition-steeped tournament in golf that the sport was changed forever.

We all remember the Masters-record 18-under par total that Woods shot in his first Masters as a pro. We remember his incredible 12-shot margin of victory. (Runner-up Tom Kite’s 282 total would have been good enough to win 17 previous Masters, but it only got him within 12 shots of Tiger.) We remember the way his mammoth drives turned the par-5s into pitch-and-putts. What many people don’t remember about the 1997 Masters is how badly Tiger started the tournament. On the front nine on Thursday, Woods went out in 40, leaving him 4-over par. That, apparently, is when the stars aligned and the golf gods smiled. Over the next 63 holes, Woods swept through Augusta National like a tornado, toying with the course and demoralizing the greatest players in the world. 

Tiger’s runaway, far from putting a crimp into the television ratings, instead gave golf its greatest ratings winner to date. In 1996, before Woods turned pro, the ratings were 9.2 on Sunday. In 1997, when Woods won, the number jumped to 14.1.

The rest, as they say, is history — 14 major championships, 74 PGA Tour wins, the lowest career scoring average in PGA Tour history, 10 Player of the Year awards, and, yes, scandal and disgrace. But the impact and the level of achievement are undeniable and unprecedented.

Jack Nicklaus

Nicklaus brought out greatness in his opponents — Palmer, Player, Watson, Trevino. But more importantly, he made golf a greater game through his physical skill and strength, his mental toughness, his sustained level of excellence and his genius for strategically dismantling golf courses around the world.

You know the litany of accomplishments. 18 major championships, more than Hogan and Palmer combined. A mind-boggling 37 top twos in majors.

And lest we think the Tour of the 21st Century outshines the Tour in Jack’s prime, consider this: Nicklaus fought many of the game’s greatest at their very peak and beat them all. And when he didn’t beat them, he coaxed their very best out of them.

As if to prove the point, at age 46, Nicklaus was able to muster enough of his old-time wizardry to outduel names like Ballesteros, Kite, Norman — all of them at the peak of their powers — to win his sixth Masters in 1986 in one of the greatest sports moments of all time.

In his golden years, the Golden Bear has continued to shape the game with his prolific golf course design company. 

Arnold Palmer

There have been better players with prettier swings. But there has never been a more important golfer than the King, Arnold Palmer. He quadrupled purses, brought golf away from the country clubs and into our living rooms, and assembled an Army of devoted followers. He won — and lost — with more flair than any other athlete.

From 1958 to 1968, Palmer reigned amid the azaleas and pines of Augusta National, where Arnie’s Army first mustered. With the lone exception of 1963, he was in contention at every Masters during that epic stretch, winning four times, finishing second twice, third once and fourth twice.

Although he made his reputation at The Masters — and made the tournament what it is today — it was the 1960 U.S. Open that truly captured the King at the peak of his powers. The leaderboard on that final day included a chubby 20-year-old amateur named Jack Nicklaus. It included a legend — the Hawk, Ben Hogan. The third member of this historic trio lit a cigarette, stalked to the tee of the 318-yard, par-4 first hole at Cherry Hills and drove the green on his way to a historic final-round 65, erasing a seven-stroke deficit for the greatest comeback in Open history.

Sam Snead

If winning is the standard for determining excellence, there is no greater player in golf history than Sam Snead.

Using a smooth, syrupy swing that looked as natural and effortless as breathing, Slammin’ Sammy won more golf tournaments than any other player — a staggering total of 81 PGA Tour titles, and anywhere from 135 to 165 victories worldwide, depending on whom you ask. He posted wins in four different decades, from the 1936 West Virginia Closed Pro to the 1965 Greater Greensboro Open (his eighth title in that event), when he was 52 years old.

Snead won three Masters, including a 1954 playoff triumph over friend and rival Ben Hogan. He won three PGA Championships and a British Open.

There is one hole in the Slammer’s résumé that prevents him from staking a legitimate claim to being the greatest player in history. Somehow, Snead never won the one tournament that seemingly should have been his by birthright. He never won a U.S. Open. But his near-tragic failures at the Open do not diminish his accomplishments.

His swing was such an efficient device that it served him well into his golden years and remains the gold standard for golf swings. In 1979, he offered golf fans one final glimpse of his greatness, as he became the first player to score below his age, shooting 67 and 66 in the Quad Cities Open at the age of 67. By then, and for the rest of his life, Snead was a beloved ambassador and advocate for the game.

Near-misses

Ben Hogan is widely considered the greatest ball-striker in the game’s history, and he changed golf instruction forever with his Five Lessons: The Modern Fundamentals of Golf. Along with Nicklaus, Woods, Gary Player and Gene Sarazen, he’s one of five players to own a career Grand Slam. His courage in coming back from a near-fatal car crash added to his legend. His tough-to-love, prickly personality kept him distant from fans and keeps him off Mount Rushmore. Barely.

Gary Player was golf’s first global ambassador, winning tournaments all over the world, including nine major championships.

Seve Ballesteros was Europe’s version of Arnold Palmer, putting a sport on his back and selling it to an entire continent. Almost singlehandedly, he transformed the Ryder Cup into one of the greatest spectacles in sports.

Bobby Jones was the game’s breakthrough superstar who pulled off one of golf’s signature achievements with his 1930 Grand Slam — winning the U.S. and British Opens and U.S. and British Amateurs in one season. Oh, and he founded The Masters.

Byron Nelson was golf’s greatest gentleman and the author of its greatest individual achievement — 11 wins in a row in 1945, a season in which he won 18 tournaments in all.

Tom Watson won eight majors and dominated golf’s oldest tournament, the British Open, like no one else, winning five times in a nine-year span and coming close to a historic sixth win in 2009 at age 59.  

Teaser:
<p> Who would make the list for professional golf's ultimate foursome?</p>
Post date: Thursday, September 13, 2012 - 11:00

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