Articles By Athlon Sports

All taxonomy terms: Fantasy football rankings, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /nfl/2012-fantasy-football-tight-end-rankings-week-5
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.

Dallas, Detroit, Oakland and Tampa Bay all are on bye.

2012 NFL Week 5 Fantasy Football Rankings — Tight Ends

Rk Player Team OPPONENT Notes
1 Jimmy Graham NO vs. SD  
2 Rob Gronkowski NE vs. DEN  
3 Tony Gonzalez ATL at WAS  
4 Vernon Davis SF vs. BUF  
5 Jermichael Finley GB at IND  
6 Kyle Rudolph MIN vs. TEN Titans have been awful against TEs.
7 Martellus Bennett NYG vs. CLE Just one catch vs. Eagles, but don't worry.
8 Antonio Gates SD at NO Still in search of first TD.
9 Dennis Pitta BAL at KC Not needed (0 rec.) against Browns.
10 Brent Celek PHI at PIT Clearly one of Vick's favorite targets right now.
11 Owen Daniels HOU at NYJ (Mon.)  
12 Greg Olsen CAR vs. SEA Leads Panthers in receptions.
13 Scott Chandler BUF at SF Two TDs vs. Patriots, No. 5 fantasy TE right now.
14 Fred Davis WAS vs. ATL Has had back-to-back solid games, still no TDs.
15 Heath Miller PIT vs. PHI Caught two TD passes in Week 3.
16 Coby Fleener IND vs. GB  
17 Jared Cook TEN at MIN First shoulder, now dealing with hand issue too.
18 Jermaine Gresham CIN vs. MIA  
19 Jacob Tamme DEN at NE More targets and catches than Dreessen, but no TDs either.
20 Joel Dreessen DEN at NE Tamme had more catches, but he had TD vs. Raiders.
21 Marcedes Lewis JAC vs. CHI Best game (3, 32, 1) since Week 1 against Bengals.
22 Dustin Keller NYJ vs. HOU (Mon.) May finally return since injuring hamstring in Week 1.
23 Anthony Fasano MIA at CIN  
24 Ed Dickson BAL at KC  
25 Rob Housler ARI at STL (Thurs.)  
26 Craig Stevens TEN at MIN Made most of opportunities while Cook's been limited.

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 5 Positional Rankings

Quarterbacks
Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Kickers
Defense/Special Teams

Week 5 Start or Sit

Week 5 Waiver Wire

Teaser:
<p> 2012 Fantasy Football Tight End Rankings: Week 5</p>
Post date: Thursday, October 4, 2012 - 05:11
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy football rankings, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /nfl/2012-fantasy-football-defensespecial-teams-rankings-week-5
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.

Dallas, Detroit, Oakland and Tampa Bay are all on bye.

2012 NFL Week 5 Fantasy Football Rankings — Defense/Special Teams

Rk Player OPPONENT Notes
1 Houston Texans at NYJ (Mon.) Just like 49ers, Texans should feast on Jets' O in disarray.
2 Chicago Bears at JAC Bears abused Romo (5 INTs) on MNF, greener Gabbert next.
3 Arizona Cardinals at STL (Thurs.) No. 2 DEF in fantasy, second in league in sacks (16).
4 Seattle Seahawks at CAR Hawks D vs. Cam Newton will be fun to watch.
5 Baltimore Ravens at KC Chiefs have turned ball over NFL-worst 15 times.
6 San Francisco 49ers vs. BUF Looking to feast on AFC East for second week in a row.
7 St. Louis Rams vs. ARI (Thurs.) Rams been strong against pass (8 INTs) so far.
8 Minnesota Vikings vs. TEN Vikings can get to QB, make big special teams plays.
9 New York Giants vs. CLE Will T-Rich run on G-Men like McCoy (123 yds.)?
10 Atlanta Falcons at WAS Last week it was Cam, this week it's RGIII.
11 Pittsburgh Steelers vs. PHI Should get Polamalu, Harrison back.
12 Green Bay Packers at IND Packers looking to pressure rookie Luck into mistakes.
13 Philadelphia Eagles at PIT Will need to get pressure on Big Ben to slow down passing attack.
14 Miami Dolphins at CIN Fins better against run than pass, could be issue with Green.
15 Cincinnati Bengals vs. MIA Leading league in sacks with 17.
16 New England Patriots vs. DEN Pats rely on turnovers, Manning has just 3 INTs so far.
17 New York Jets vs. HOU (Mon.) Offensive issues starting to bring down D.

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 5 Positional Rankings

Quarterbacks
Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends
Kickers

Week 5 Start or Sit

Week 5 Waiver Wire

Teaser:
<p> 2012 Fantasy Football Defense/Special Teams Rankings: Week 5</p>
Post date: Thursday, October 4, 2012 - 05:10
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy football rankings, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /nfl/2012-fantasy-football-kicker-rankings-week-5
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.

Dallas, Detroit, Oakland and Tampa Bay are all on bye.

2012 NFL Week 5 Fantasy Football Rankings — Kickers

Rk Player Team OPPONENT
1 David Akers SF vs. BUF
2 Stephen Gostkowski NE vs. DEN
3 Mason Crosby GB at IND
4 Greg Zuerlein STL vs. ARI (Thurs.)
5 Matt Bryant ATL at WAS
6 Justin Tucker BAL at KC
7 Garrett Hartley NO vs. SD
8 Blair Walsh MIN vs. TEN
9 Robbie Gould CHI at JAC
10 Nick Novak SD at NO
11 Alex Henery PHI at PIT
12 Lawrence Tynes NYG vs. CLE
13 Shayne Graham HOU at NYJ (Mon.)
14 Matt Prater DEN at NE
15 Mike Nugent CIN vs. MIA
16 Phil Dawson CLE at NYG

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 5 Positional Rankings

Quarterbacks
Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends
Defense/Special Teams

Week 5 Start or Sit

Week 5 Waiver Wire

Teaser:
<p> 2012 Fantasy Football Kicker Rankings: Week 5</p>
Post date: Thursday, October 4, 2012 - 05:05
All taxonomy terms: News
Path: /mlb/braves-sheets-retire-after-wednesdays-start
Body:

Pittsburgh, PA (Sports Network) - Atlanta Braves pitcher Ben Sheets will make the final start of an injury-plagued 10-year major league career when he takes the mound in Wednesday's regular-season finale at Pittsburgh.

Sheets, who returned to the big leagues in July after sitting out the entire 2011 season recovering from elbow surgery, told the Braves' official site of his decision on Tuesday.

"I can tell you without a shadow of a doubt I'm not playing again," he said. "No matter what, there is not enough help or money to pull me out of this one."

The veteran right-hander has not pitched since Aug. 24 due to a sore shoulder, but is expected to throw two innings to begin Wednesday's contest. Sheets will be taking the place of orginally scheduled starter Tim Hudson, who is slated to pitch Game 1 of a potential appearance in the National League Division Series if the Braves win Friday's wild card game at Turner Field.

Atlanta was eliminated from NL East title consideration following Monday's 2-1 loss to the Pirates.

Sheets is not expected to be included on Atlanta's postseason roster.

The 34-year-old has compiled a 94-96 record and a 3.54 earned run average over 249 career starts with Milwaukee, Oakland and the Braves and was named to the NL All-Star team four times (2001, 2004, 2007, 2008) during an eight-year stint with the Brewers from 2001-08. He missed all of 2009 after undergoing surgery to repair a torn flexor tendon in his elbow.

Sheets has gone 4-4 with a 3.54 ERA in eight starts with Atlanta this season.

Teaser:
<p> Atlanta Braves pitcher Ben Sheets will make the final start of an injury-plagued 10-year major league career when he takes the mound in Wednesday's regular-season finale at Pittsburgh.</p>
Post date: Wednesday, October 3, 2012 - 09:47
All taxonomy terms: News
Path: /nfl/report-jets-holmes-miss-rest-season
Body:

New York, NY (Sports Network) - New York Jets wide receiver Santonio Holmes will miss the remainder of the season with a Lisfranc injury in his left foot, according to a report in the New York Daily News.

Holmes suffered the injury during the fourth quarter of Sunday's 34-0 loss to the San Francisco 49ers after making a catch. He immediately fell to the ground without being contacted and let go of the ball, which 49ers cornerback Carlos Rogers promptly returned for a 51-yard touchdown

The seven-year veteran was unable to put any weight on his left leg and was carted off the field.

X-rays of the foot were negative, but the Daily News reported an MRI on the injury by foot specialist Robert Anderson in North Carolina discovered the extent of the injury.

Holmes recorded four catches for 29 yards before exiting Sunday, and has 20 receptions for 272 yards and a touchdown this season.

This would be the second significant injury for the Jets this season as the team already lost superstar cornerback Darrelle Revis for the season due to an ACL injury.

Teaser:
<p> New York Jets wide receiver Santonio Holmes will miss the remainder of the season with a Lisfranc injury in his left foot, according to a report in the New York Daily News.</p>
Post date: Wednesday, October 3, 2012 - 07:26
Path: /nfl/top-10-nfl-coaches-hot-seat-week-5
Body:

Week 5 of the 2012 NFL season will kick off on Thursday night, which means we’ve reached the quarter-mark of the regular season. Teams across the league are evaluating where things stand right now, and that starts with the head coaches. Speaking of which, while no coach seems in imminent danger of losing his job, there are certainly a few who are starting to feel the heat.

Top 10 NFL Coaches on the Hot Seat: Week 5

1. Rex Ryan, New York Jets
Preseason Rank:
3
2012 Record: 2-2


Yes, the Jets are currently tied for first in the AFC East, and technically hold the advantage thanks to a 2-0 divisional record. However, the overall picture and in many ways, the immediate outlook, does not paint nearly as rosy a picture. Following Sunday’s 34-0 shutout loss to San Francisco at home, the Jets have scored just 33 points in their past three games after scoring 48 in a Week 1 win over Buffalo. In that game, the Jets had 384 yards of total offense. Since then, they are averaging a little more than 250 per game, and had just 145 total yards against the 49ers.

Before the season started, Ryan expressed a desire to return to the team’s “Ground N Pound” ways. Well it’s the Jets’ whose run game, which is averaging 3.2 yards per carry, has been grounded, while their rush defense has been pounded. The defense is giving up nearly five yards a carry as the 49ers ran roughshod for 245 yards on 44 carries (5.6 ypc) on Sunday. That’s the most allowed by the team in 52 games under Ryan. Obviously the defense has been impacted by the season-ending loss of All-Pro cornerback Darrelle Revis, but the Jets’ problems, on both sides of the ball right now, run much deeper than that. These are now Ryan’s problems to try and address as he gets his team ready for a visit from the undefeated Houston Texans this coming Monday night.

2. Jason Garrett, Dallas Cowboys
Preseason Rank:
4
2012 Record: 2-2

Dallas is just one game behind current NFC East leader Philadelphia and has won its only divisional game (Week 1 against the Giants) so far, so there’s no reason to panic in Big D. However, there is certainly plenty to be concerned about following the Cowboys’ disappointing 34-18 home loss to Chicago on Monday night. The game wasn’t as close as the score indicated, as Tony Romo was picked off five times and the Bears returned two of those for touchdowns. The good news is the coaching staff and team have an extra week to work on things before travelling to Baltimore in Week 6. The bad news is that there is a lot to address, starting with a running game that has all but disappeared since Week 1, and Garrett and the coaching staff know that expectations are always high when it comes the Cowboys and owner Jerry Jones. The team has missed the playoffs the past two seasons. It’s entirely possible that Jones, who is not known for his patience, will decide to make a change should that streak continue this season.

3. Romeo Crennel, Kansas City Chiefs
Preseason Rank:
9
2012 Record: 1-3


Injuries derailed the Chiefs’ 2011 season and have been an issue for the defense at the start of this season. The team is getting healthier, now it’s just a matter of producing on the field. Running back Jamaal Charles has returned from a torn ACL to power the offense, which needs better play from quarterback Matt Cassel (6 total TDs, 10 total turnovers). The defense is having its problems stopping anyone, as they have allowed an average of 34 points per game. Only the Tennessee Titans (37.8 ppg) are giving up more. Crennel took over the team late last season, and is now 3-4 with the Chiefs in his second stint as a head coach. He went 24-40 in four seasons as the Browns’ head coach from 2005-08.

4. Jim Schwartz, Detroit Lions
Preseason Rank:
NR
2012 Record: 1-3


Much was expected of the Lions after finally putting an end to the franchise’s 12-year playoff drought last season. However, after scratching out a win over St. Louis in Week 1, the Lions have lost three in a row, including Sunday’s 20-13 divisional defeat at home to Minnesota. The Lions will have a week to reassess and address any issues that need to be fixed before starting a difficult three-week stretch – at Philadelphia, at Chicago and home to Seattle. The pressure is on Schwartz and his team to show that last year’s breakthrough wasn’t a fluke.

5. Pat Shurmur, Cleveland Browns
Preseason Rank:
8
2012 Record: 0-4


The Browns and the Saints are the only winless teams left in the NFL, but there’s no “interim” in front of Pat Shurmur’s title. Shurmur’s young charges are playing better, three of the four losses have been by seven points or less, but the easiest way to measure progress is with wins. After giving divisional foe Baltimore all it could handle last Thursday, the Browns will have another chance to make a statement when they go to New York to take on the defending Super Bowl champion Giants. The reality for Shurmur is he’s now 4-16 as the Browns’ head coach. Even with a rookie quarterback and running back leading his offense, he needs to find a way to get at least five victories or else the team may decide to bring someone else to oversee the rebuilding process.

6. Norv Turner, San Diego Chargers
Preseason Rank:
1
2012 Record: 3-1

For Turner, and general manager A.J. Smith for that matter, it’s pretty simple. At the minimum, the Chargers have to make the playoffs to have any shot at keeping their jobs. So far, so good as the Chargers have gotten off to an uncharacteristic 3-1 start. The offense hasn’t been as explosive as it has been in the past, but the defense is playing well, especially against the run (80.3 yards rushing per game, 6th in the NFL), and Philip Rivers and the rest of the offense have done a much better job of holding onto the ball (+3 turnover ratio). The Chargers go to New Orleans and then host Denver before their Week 7 bye, so we should know more about this team at that point.

7. Chan Gailey, Buffalo Bills
Preseason Rank:
7
2012 Record: 2-2


Buffalo rebounded from a rough opening week loss to the Jets to win their next two over Kansas City and Cleveland. That modest winning streak came to a screeching halt on Sunday as New England scored 35 unanswered points in the second half to erase a 21-7 Bills lead. The Patriots won the game 52-28, gashing a revamped Bills’ defense that was expected to be one of the team’s strengths after the offseason additions, for 580 yards. The Bills’ offense (387.8 ypg, 11th in the NFL) has more than held its own, but the defense must play better as they already face a 0-2 hole in the AFC East divisional race.

8. Andy Reid, Philadelphia Eagles
Preseason Rank:
2
2012 Record: 3-1

The Eagles are 3-1 and currently in first place in the NFC East, but that doesn’t mean the pressure is off for Reid and the coaching staff. First, owner Jeffrey Lurie has basically made it pretty clear that the Eagles need to do more than just into the playoffs this season. Second, the Eagles have been winning, but it hasn’t exactly been pretty. They’ve won their three games by a combined five points, while their one loss was by 21 on the road at Arizona. Also, the Eagles have turned the ball over 12 times already, with quarterback Michael Vick being responsible for nine (6 INT, 3 fumbles) of those. Vick and the team, however, did play turnover-free football in Sunday night’s big win over the Giants. So for now, everything seems copacetic in The City of Brotherly Love, but will only remain that way as long as Reid’s team keeps on winning.

9. Ron Rivera, Carolina Panthers
Preseason Rank:
NR
2012 Record: 1-3


The Panthers lost a tough one in Atlanta on Sunday as the Falcons forced the Panthers to punt with a little more than a minute left in the game. Matt Ryan then drove the team into position for Matt Bryant to kick the game-winning 40-yard field goal with just five seconds left. The good news for Rivera and the Panthers is that quarterback Cam Newton rebounded nicely after a rough Week 3 outing, accounting for more than 300 yards of total offense and three touchdowns. Unfortunately, it didn’t result in a win and the Panthers will try again next week at home against Seattle.

10. Lovie Smith, Chicago Bears
Preseason Rank:
6
2012 Record: 3-1

Smith and the Bears have bounced back with two straight victories following an ugly 23-10 loss at Green Bay in Week 2. The Bears were at their best on Monday night, thoroughly beating Dallas in all aspects in a convincing 34-18 victory in the palace that Jerry Jones built. Besides the defense intercepting Tony Romo five times (returning two of those for touchdowns), the offense did its part as Jay Cutler threw for 275 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. He did have one fumble, but he was only sacked twice and the Bears also got Matt Forte back in the lineup. There’s still a long ways to go and the Bears are already down a game to the Packers in the NFC North race, but there’s still plenty of reasons to be optimistic regarding the team’s outlook this season.

Others:
New Orleans is 0-4, but remember they are being led by an interim to the interim right now, so it doesn’t matter how many games Joe Vitt/Aaron Kromer win or lose. They both know they are merely keeping the seat warm for Sean Payton. Minnesota’s Leslie Frazier (No. 5) and Arizona’s Ken Whisenhunt (No. 10) both made the preseason Hot Seat list, but have since poured a big ‘ol bucket of ice cold water on any such talk as their teams are a combined 7-1 to start the season. In fact, right now you have to say these two are the current leaders for Coach of the Year honors.

Of the six first-year head coaches, Jeff Fisher in St. Louis is the only one with two wins. The rest – Dennis Allen (Oakland), Mike Mularkey (Jacksonville), Chuck Pagano (Indianapolis), Joe Philbin (Miami) and Greg Schiano (Tampa Bay) – are either 1-3 or 1-2 as Pagano’s Colts were on bye in Week 4. There’s no reason to think any of these coaches are in jeopardy of losing their job just four games into it. That is especially the case with Pagano, who now has something far more important to deal with as he’s been diagnosed with a treatable form of leukemia.

— By Mark Ross, published on Oct. 3, 2012

Teaser:
<p> Top 10 NFL Coaches on the Hot Seat: Week 5</p>
Post date: Wednesday, October 3, 2012 - 06:15
All taxonomy terms: MLB, News
Path: /mlb/mets-dickey-have-surgery
Body:

R.A. DickeyMiami, FL (Sports Network) - New York Mets pitcher R.A. Dickey revealed after his final start of the season he will undergo surgery to repair a torn abdominal muscle.

He received a no decision while allowing three runs on seven hits with no walks and eight strikeouts over six innings in the Mets' 4-3 extra-inning victory over the Miami Marlins on Tuesday.

The Cy Young candidate said he has been dealing with the injury since April, but it was not significant enough to keep him out of action.

Dickey will have the surgery on Oct. 18 in Philadelphia and expects to be ready for the start of spring training.

The 37-year-old knuckleballer is coming off a career year in which he went 20-6 with a 2.73 ERA and 230 strikeouts through 233 2/3 innings.

Teaser:
<p> New York Mets pitcher R.A. Dickey revealed after his final start of the season he will undergo surgery to repair a torn abdominal muscle.</p>
Post date: Wednesday, October 3, 2012 - 02:06
All taxonomy terms: Golf
Path: /golf/presidents-cup-assistants-named
Body:

International captain Nick Price named Shigeki Maruyama, Mark McNulty and Tony Johnstone as his assistants for the Presidents Cup on Tuesday, while U.S. captain Fred Couples selected Jay Haas.

Dublin, OH (Sports Network) - International captain Nick Price named Shigeki Maruyama, Mark McNulty and Tony Johnstone as his assistants for the Presidents Cup on Tuesday, while U.S. captain Fred Couples selected Jay Haas.

Couples will name additional assistants in the coming months.

This marks the first time that each captain has the option of naming three official assistants.

Maruyama, who has won three PGA Tour events, has an overall record of 6-2-0 in the Presidents Cup, including a 5-0-0 showing during the International team's lone outright victory in 1998.

McNulty, a Presidents Cup teammate of Price in 1994 and 1996, has a 3-4-2 overall record in the event. He currently competes on the Champions Tour.

Johnstone, who, along with Price and McNulty, hails from Zimbabwe, spent most of his career on the South African Sunshine Tour and the European Tour, where he won the 1992 British PGA Championship.

"Choosing my three captain's assistants was really very easy for me," said Price. "I grew up playing golf back home with Tony Johnstone and Mark McNulty. Maruyama-san was an inspiration to all of us in every Presidents Cup team he played on. His enthusiasm, dogged competiveness and incredible team spirit are things I will never forget."

Haas, a 9-time PGA Tour winner and 16-time victor on the Champions Tour, represented the U.S. in the Presidents Cup in 1994 and 2003, where he posted a combined 5-3-1 record. He also served as Couples' captain's assistant in both 2009 and 2011.

"Jay has really been my right-hand man these past two Presidents Cups, and I know I couldn't do my job as captain without him," said Couples. "Jay has been one of my closest friends for many years. I rely on his leadership qualities, organizational skills and ability to help bring the team together to play their best, but also have a great time in the process."

The President Cup returns to the United States at Muirfield Village Golf Club from Oct. 3-6, 2013.

Teaser:
<p> International captain Nick Price named Shigeki Maruyama, Mark McNulty and Tony Johnstone as his assistants for the Presidents Cup on Tuesday, while U.S. captain Fred Couples selected Jay Haas.</p>
Post date: Tuesday, October 2, 2012 - 13:58
All taxonomy terms: News
Path: /mlb/mlb-announces-new-tv-deals-fox-turner
Body:

New York, NY (Sports Network) - Major League Baseball has announced new television agreements with broadcast partners FOX and Turner through the 2021 season.

Financial terms of the new deals, which will take effect in 2014, were not disclosed.

FOX will remain the home of the World Series and All-Star Game, while also continuing to air one League Championship Series. The network will also add two Division Series in 2014 and will double its number of regular-season national windows on Saturdays from 26 to 52.

TBS will retain one League Championship Series, two Division Series and one wild card game, while continuing to air Sunday games for the final 13 weeks of the season.

"I have often said in recent years that we are living in the golden age of baseball and that the game has never been more popular," said baseball commissioner Bud Selig in a statement Tuesday. "But to see the unprecedented and historic commitment these networks have made to televising Major League Baseball for years to come is truly amazing. On behalf of Major League Baseball, I am thrilled that we will continue our relationships with both FOX and Turner. Both networks are passionate about baseball and are committed to covering, promoting and growing the sport, and I want to thank them for their continued support."

MLB and ESPN announced an eight-year agreement, starting in 2014, in August.

Teaser:
<p> Major League Baseball has announced new television agreements with broadcast partners FOX and Turner through the 2021 season.</p>
Post date: Tuesday, October 2, 2012 - 12:14
All taxonomy terms: News
Path: /nfl/answering-key-nfl-questions-after-week-4
Body:

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Most NFL teams have completed the first quarter of their regular season. So, despite the general unpredictability of the league, some trends are starting to develop.

Let's attempt to answer key questions on fans' minds:

WHICH 2011 PLAYOFF TEAMS ARE MOST IN JEOPARDY OF MISSING THE 2012 POSTSEASON?

Well, duh, the 0-4 New Orleans Saints have to top the list. Importantly, they're already four games behind unbeaten Atlanta in the NFC South Division standings. The wild-card route would likely be the necessary playoff path, but it's probably going to take a 10-6 record to nab one of the two spots.

So, can the Saints go 10-2 the rest of the way? With head coach Sean Payton suspended for the whole season, and with New Orleans' defense as porous as it's been, that would be wishful thinking. Yes, the Saints have plenty of talent, but they still have road games left against Denver, Atlanta, the New York Giants and Dallas, and they still have home games left against San Diego, Philadelphia, Atlanta and San Francisco.

At 1-3, the Detroit Lions will have a difficult time returning to the playoffs, too. Following their Week 5 bye, they have back-to-back road games at Philadelphia and Chicago. They could be staring at 1-5 after that, which would all but eliminate them from contention.

Even if they survive that tough stretch, they also have a Thanksgiving Day date with Houston and a Week 16 visit from Atlanta ahead. The home loss to Minnesota on Sunday really damaged the Lions' hopes. If not for a rally against St. Louis on opening day, the Lions would be 0-4.

Don't look now, but the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants are 0-2 in NFC East games. Sure, they're 2-2 overall, and they didn't play particularly badly in either loss, but when you're in what figures to be the toughest division race in the NFL, starting 0-2 in divisional games is cause for concern.

The Giants, of course, are a championship-caliber team, but they still have road games against the likes of San Francisco, Dallas, Atlanta and Baltimore, and their remaining home schedule includes Pittsburgh, Green Bay and Philadelphia.

Last year, a 9-7 regular season was enough to get the Giants a championship. They might be looking at a similar record this year, but with the expected improved records of teams like Arizona, Philadelphia, Chicago, Seattle and Washington in the NFC, it's likely that 9-7 won't be enough to get to the postseason this time around. New York will need to win at least 10 games this regular season.

Pittsburgh is the other 2011 playoff team that probably needs to be concerned. At 1-2, the Steelers still have plenty of time to right the ship. It's just that there's a disturbing trend developing (although perhaps the expected return of Rashard Mendenhall on Sunday will solve it): The Steelers can't run the ball anymore.

No Pittsburgh player has rushed for more than 43 yards in a game this season. Imagine that. Sure, they had been a pass-first team the last few years with Ben Roethlisberger under center, but the Steelers had always been able to count on their rushing attack to close games out in the past.

If the Steelers continue to become more predictable on offense, it's going to be tougher to handle the elite teams. Pittsburgh looks like it's going to win between nine and 11 games. It's possible that nine wouldn't be enough for an AFC playoff berth.

WHICH TEAMS ARE MOST LIKELY TO WIN THEIR DIVISION TITLE, IN ORDER?

With a three-game lead already in the NFC South (as well as having a roster loaded with talent), Atlanta is certainly one of the most likely division winners this year. Top threat New Orleans is 0-4.

With an equally good chance of winning its division is 4-0 Houston, which has a 1 1/2-game lead over Indianapolis in the AFC South. Top threat Tennessee is 1-3.

New England has the third-best chance at a division crown, despite a mediocre 2-2 record. Currently, the Patriots are tied for first in the AFC East with Buffalo and the New York Jets.

Still, can anyone take Buffalo as a serious threat, now that New England rallied from a 21-7 deficit to crush the Bills, 52-28? Does anyone think that the Jets, minus all-world cornerback Darrelle Revis (and possibly top wide receiver Santonio Holmes for a lengthy time, too), can overtake New England?

Those are the only three teams that appear to be essentially a lock to win their respective divisions. Let's go with San Francisco as having the fourth- best chance. Yes, Arizona is undefeated and in first place right now, but the 49ers are just one game behind in the standings and they have the NFL's best defense.

Baltimore, in the AFC North, probably has the fifth-best chance to be a division winner. The Ravens are tied at 3-1 with Cincinnati, and perennial power Pittsburgh could still be a factor, but Baltimore just looks like the most complete team of the bunch.

The other three divisions are too close to call. The best guesses? Look for Peyton Manning-led Denver to edge perennially underachieving San Diego in the AFC West. Chicago and Green Bay will probably fight to the finish in the NFC North, and the NFC East race could involve all four teams. At the very least, Philadelphia, Dallas and the New York Giants ought to remain in the hunt until the end.

WHICH TEAM IS MOST LIKELY TO 'EARN' THE TOP PICK IN THE 2013 DRAFT?

The obvious pick would seem to be Cleveland, since the Browns and New Orleans Saints are the league's only winless teams. The Tennessee Titans have been outscored by a league-worst 70 points, but that could primarily be attributed to their extremely difficult schedule (New England, San Diego, Detroit and Houston).

Let's not pick either of those teams. Let's go with Jacksonville. It should be said, however, that there is about as much parity as ever in the NFL. Any one of six or so teams can challenge for the worst overall record.

If Jacksonville gets the top pick, the most interesting question centers around whether it would choose a quarterback (Matt Barkley or fast-rising Geno Smith) or be content with Blaine Gabbert and ship the No. 1 selection for a king's ransom, like St. Louis did with the No. 2 selection this past offseason.

WHO WILL WIN THE NFL COACH OF THE YEAR AWARD?

Quite a few teams are overachieving, so the Vikings' Leslie Frazier and the Cardinals' Ken Whisenhunt are among the top early contenders for this award. However, since St. Louis, with a 2-2 record, has already equaled its 2011 win total, here's a vote for Jeff Fisher.

The Rams led in the final minute against Detroit before losing a close one. This is possibly the most-improved team in the NFL, and that's what usually wins coaching awards. The Rams have been down for a while, but they've been quietly building a strong defense. They'd need to get to 8-8 for Fisher to win the award, and it says here that they will.

WHEN WILL THE 1972 MIAMI DOLPHINS BE ABLE TO CELEBRATE?

There's an urban legend that as the only team in the Super Bowl era to complete a season as undefeated champion, Miami's 1972 alumni annually get together for a champagne toast to celebrate the final unbeaten NFL team's initial loss of a given season.

Three teams sit at 4-0: Arizona, Atlanta and Houston. History shows that each of them will probably lose a regular-season game (or three or four) before it's over. Let's figure the '72 Dolphins will celebrate no later than Week 8.

Arizona's upcoming schedule is: Week 5 at St. Louis, Week 6 at home versus Buffalo, Week 7 at Minnesota, and Week 8 at home versus San Francisco.

Atlanta's upcoming schedule is: Week 5 at Washington, Week 6 at home versus Oakland, Week 7 bye, and Week 8 at Philadelphia.

Houston's upcoming schedule is: Week 5 at the New York Jets, Week 6 at home versus Green Bay, Week 7 at home versus Baltimore, and a Week 8 bye.

It seems like there's a potential loss during the next four weeks for each of those teams. Arizona will probably drop one of its next two road games. Houston will probably split those tough back-to-back home games against Green Bay and Baltimore. Atlanta will probably be an underdog at Philadelphia.

So, if there's any truth to the urban legend, get ready to drink up relatively soon, 1972 Dolphins.

Teaser:
<p> Most NFL teams have completed the first quarter of their regular season. So, despite the general unpredictability of the league, some trends are starting to develop.</p>
Post date: Tuesday, October 2, 2012 - 12:00
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy Football, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /nfl/2012-fantasy-football-waiver-wire-week-5
Body:

Chances are more fantasy teams will feel the impact of the bye week in Week 5 with four teams off compared to last week when just two were taking a break. While some owners will welcome Ben Roethilsberger, Andrew Luck, Mike Wallace and others back; there are those who will have to do without the services of players like Matthew Stafford, Tony Romo, Darren McFadden, Calvin Johnson, to name a few.

Have no fear; the NFL’s current leader in receiving yards, an undefeated starting quarterback and a top-five fantasy tight end are just some of the options that may be available on your waiver wire. Here are those names and some others worth considering for this week and beyond.

Week 5 Positional Rankings

Week 5 Start or Sit

Bye week teams: Dallas, Detroit, Oakland Tampa Bay

Quarterbacks
Week 4 Recap: Ryan Fitzpatrick is currently leading the league in touchdown passes (12), but he’s also tied for second in interceptions (7) and faces a tough match-up in San Francisco this week. Christian Ponder has yet to throw an interception, but he’s averaging a little more than 200 yards per game through the air and has just four touchdown passes in four games. Shaun Hill didn’t see the field for Detroit as Matthew Staffordmade the start, while Jake Locker wasn’t on the field that long after suffering a shoulder injury on a sack against Houston.

Matt Hasselbeck, Tennessee Titans
Jake Locker left Sunday’s game in Houston in the first quarter after injuring his left shoulder on a sack. The good news is that it’s his non-throwing shoulder. The bad news is he previously injured the same shoulder in the opener against New England and he watched the rest of the Titans’ 38-14 loss to the Texans on the sidelines in street clothes with his left arm in a sling. It’s still early, but there’s certainly a chance that Locker will not play this Sunday in Minnesota, which means Hasselbeck will take his place. Hasselbeck was not at his best in relief of Locker on Sunday as he threw as many pick-sixes as touchdown passes (two apiece), but this is an accomplished, 14-year veteran who threw for 3,571 yards and 18 touchdowns as the Titans’ starter last season. If Locker doesn’t play against the Vikings, you could do a lot worse than Hasselbeck, especially if you are a Locker owner or in need of a bye-week fill in.

Kevin Kolb, Arizona Cardinals
Don’t look now; but Arizona is one of three remaining undefeated teams left, joining Atlanta and Houston in that distinction. The defense has certainly done its part (see below), but Kolb deserves some of the credit too. Since taking over for John Skelton in the fourth quarter of the Cardinals’ opening game, Kolb has completed better than 62 percent of his passes for 752 yards and seven touchdowns. He’s added a rushing touchdown and has only turned the ball over three times (2 INT, 1 fumble). The Cardinals’ next three opponents are St. Louis, Buffalo and Minnesota, so the schedule appears manageable. He’s also coming off of his best statistical performance (324 yards passing, 3 TD, 2 INT) against Miami, so Kolb is at the least someone worth monitoring.  

Ryan Tannehill, Miami Dolphins
Tannehill threw for 431 yards against Arizona, showing what he can do with his arm. He still has a long ways to go as he has tossed three times as many picks (six) as touchdowns (two), but his favorite target right now is the league’s leading receiver (see below), and it looks as if the coaching staff is starting to trust him to air it out a little more. If this trend continues and Tannehill can continue to show progress in his accuracy (55.9 percent completion rate) and decision making, he could develop into a viable fantasy option, especially in deeper leagues.

Running Backs
Week 4 Recap: Both Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller returned for Buffalo in the loss to New England, rendering Tashard Choice (2 att., 14 yds.) an afterthought. Ryan Williams disappointed greatly in his first career start, gaining a total of 26 yards on 14 offensive touches, but he will get another chance to impress Thursday night in St. Louis. Shaun Draughn had 46 yards on eight total touches (4 carries, 4 receptions) and could continue to have value in deeper leagues, especially as long as Peyton Hillis is sidelined with an ankle injury. Bilal Powell didn’t get many opportunities (4 carries, compared to 11 for Shonn Greene) against San Francisco, not that it mattered much as the Jets rushed for a grand total of 45 yards against the 49ers. Lamar Miller out-rushed Daniel Thomas (13 yards to 4), but each only got four carries as Reggie Bush got the bulk of the carries despite dealing with a knee injury.

Jackie Battle, San Diego Chargers
Battle is the Chargers’ leading rusher, although Ryan Mathews’ broken collarbone has a lot to do with that. Still, the former Chief is averaging more than five yards per carry and has all three of the team’s rushing touchdowns so far. If anything it appears that Battle is the Chargers’ goal-line back for the time being, which certainly helps his value. Remember, Mike Tolbert scored 19 rushing touchdowns in 2010 and ’11 combined as the Chargers’ second back. I’m not saying the Chargers will use Battle like they did Tolbert, but he clearly has a role in their running game and he’s also produced as a receiver (4 rec., 42 yds., TD Sunday against the Chiefs).

Brandon Bolden, New England Patriots
I’ll go out on a limb and say that pretty much no one had Bolden, an undrafted free agent out of Ole Miss, on their roster, let alone in their starting lineup last week. After his performance (16 att., 137 yds., TD) against Buffalo, that seems all but certain to change. Unfortunately, Bolden’s breakout could come at Stevan Ridley’s expense; although Ridley did have more carries (22) and went for 106 yards with two scores himself. It remains to be seen what Bolden’s roll is going forwards, but he, and not Danny Woodhead or Shane Vereen, appears to be the other Patriots’ back to own.

Ronnie Hillman, Denver Broncos
Willis McGahee played, rib cartilage issue and all, but it was Hillman and not Lance Ball, who got the second-most carries in the win over Oakland. Hillman, the Broncos’ third-round pick, had 31 yards rushing on 10 carries and also caught two passes for 32 yards. Hillman offers more upside than Ball or any of the other backup running backs on Denver’s roster and he may finally have shown the coaching stuff enough to merit consistent playing time.

Kendall Hunter, San Francisco 49ers
Nine different 49ers had at least one rushing attempt as the team racked up 245 yards on the ground on 44 carries (5.6 ypc) in their shutout win over the Jets. That said, only two 49ers have more than 15 carries to this point and they are starting running back Frank Gore and Hunter. Gore has 40 more carries (66 to 26) than Hunter, but Hunter is averaging 4.6 yards per attempt and seems entrenched as the 49ers’ second back right now. The coaching staff has had it wants to limit Gore’s workload over the course of the season to save wear and tear on the veteran, so Hunter should still get a fair amount of opportunities. He’s also just one injury away from being the starter, and last season was the first in the past five in which Gore played all 16 games.

Rashard Mendenhall, Pittsburgh Steelers
Guess who’s back? Mendenhall, who averaged more than 1,100 yards rushing and 10 total touchdowns from 2009-11, is expected to make his season debut this Sunday against Philadelphia. Mendenhall tore his ACL in the final week of the ‘11 regular season, but he has been practicing in full and is expected to step right back into his starting role. The team will limit his workload early to help ease him back into things, but as the Steelers’ starting running back he should receive plenty of opportunities to have an impact. Now is the time to act if Mendenhall is still on your league’s waiver wire.

Wide Receivers
Week 4 Recap: Hakeem Nicks missed his second straight game for the Giants, but it wasn’t Ramses Barden (2 rec., 36 yds. on 4 targets), who took advantage of his absence this time. Nate Washington, like the rest of the Titan wide receivers, had a quiet game against Houston, but could benefit if Matt Hasselbeck ends up filling in for an injured Jake Locker. Washington put together a career year (74-1,023-7) last season with Hasselbeck under center. Jacoby Jones (2 rec., 17 yds., 7 targets) had problems connecting with Joe Flacco against Cleveland, while Jeremy Kerley (2, 12) and Cecil Shorts (1,8) were both stymied by their respective team’s ineffective passing attacks.

Brian Hartline, Miami Dolphins
Hartline leads the NFL in receiving yards with 455 and he’s tied for eighth in receptions with 25. He had another huge game (12 rec., 253 yds., TD) against Arizona and is the No. 4 wide receiver in fantasy football. He has just the one touchdown catch, so unless he finds the end zone a little more frequently, his scoring will be driven by receptions and yards. He’s clearly Ryan Tannehill’s favorite target right now, so as long as you can tolerate the rookie quarterback’s growing pains, Hartline is worth adding to your roster.

Domenik Hixon, New York Giants
Hakeem Nicks missed a second straight game, but it was Hixon and not Ramses Barden, the Giants’ leading receiver in Week 3, who benefitted. Hixon is the Giants’ regular no. 3 wide receiver, but he also missed the Week 3 game in Carolina because of a concussion. He was back in the lineup Sunday night against Philadelphia and started in Nicks’ place opposite Victor Cruz. Hixon finished with a game-high 114 yards receiving on six catches (19.0 ypc, 11 targets) and the early reports on Nicks’ availability for this week’s game in Cleveland are not promising. As long as Nicks remains out, Hixon is the other Giants wideout to own, although Barden still has value in deeper leagues.

Donald Jones, Buffalo Bills
Jones became the Bills’ other starting wide receiver following the season-ending injury to David Nelson. After not doing that much the past two weeks, Jones finally broke through courtesy of a 68-yard touchdown catch against New England. He only had one other catch (for 22 yards) against the Patriots, but he’s still the Bills’ second-leading receiver and should have his share of chances moving forward.

James Jones, Green Bay Packers
Aaron Rodgers does a good job of spreading the ball around, as evidenced by the fact five different Packers have 20 or more targets after four games. Jones is not only in that group, but he’s currently third on the team behind only fellow receiver Jordy Nelson and tight end Jermichael Finley. What’s more Jones leads the team with three touchdown catches and he could be in line for even more playing time as Greg Jennings had to leave Sunday’s game against New Orleans after re-aggravating his groin injury.

Andre Roberts, Arizona Cardinals
Roberts has stayed step-for-step with Larry Fitzgerald, his All-Pro teammate, through the first four games. Fitzgerald leads the team in receptions and yards, but Roberts has four touchdown catches and is averaging more yards (15.3 to 11.1) per catch than the perennial Pro Bowler. Roberts scored two of those touchdowns on Sunday against Miami and as long as Kevin Kolb plays as well as he has, it looks like there’s room for two viable fantasy options at wide receiver out in the desert.

Tight Ends
Week 4 Recap: Kyle Rudolph had a quiet day (2 rec., 8 yds.) in the Vikings’ win over Detroit, but Christian Ponder had only 26 pass attempts all game. Rudolph tied for the second-most targets on the team this past Sunday with five and there’s no reason to think he won’t remain one of Ponder’s primary pass-catchers moving forward. Craig Stevens also caught two passes against Houston, but one of them was a 19-yard touchdown pass. Still, Stevens’ value is tied directly to Jared Cook’s health. Cook, who played after leaving last week’s game with a shoulder injury, had three catches for 36 yards against the Texans.

Scott Chandler, Buffalo Bills
Chandler is the No. 5 tight end in fantasy football thanks in large part to his four touchdown catches, which also ties him for first in the league overall. Chandler got two of those in Sunday’s loss to New England, and right now he is Ryan Fitzpatrick’s favorite target in the red zone. Chandler’s overall numbers (12 rec., 175 yds.) aren’t bad, but his upside is tied directly to his red zone production.

Greg Olsen, Carolina Panthers
After a slow start, Olsen has established himself in the Panthers’ passing attack. The team’s leader in receptions, Olsen has 13 catches for 187 yards and a touchdown in the last two games combined. Steve Smith is and should remain as Cam Newton’s favorite target, but Olsen appears to be his second option. A few more scores would certainly help, but Olsen should get enough looks every game to be a viable weekly starting option, especially in PPR leagues.

Defense/Special Teams

Arizona Cardinals
The Cardinals are a surprising 4-0 thanks in large part to its defense. The unit is second in the league in sacks with 16, has forced 10 turnovers and blocked two kicks. They also are dangerous on special teams with Patrick Peterson and LaRod Stephens-Howling returning punts and kickoffs. Besides the early production, the upcoming schedule is also appealing as the Cardinals go to St. Louis, host Buffalo and are at Minnesota the next three weeks.

St. Louis Rams
The Rams are 2-2 as the defense has done a much better job of slowing down the opposition, especially when it comes to the pass. The Rams are allowing a respectable 213.5 passing yards per game and have a league-high eight interceptions. They need to do a better job of pressuring the quarterback (only 6 sacks), but they also aren’t taking on offensive juggernauts the next two weeks with a home date against Arizona and a trip to Miami on tap.

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 Oct. 2, 2012

Teaser:
<p> 2012 Fantasy Football Waiver Wire: Week 5</p>
Post date: Tuesday, October 2, 2012 - 06:03
All taxonomy terms: NFL, News
Path: /nfl/reports-colts-pagano-has-leukemia
Body:

Indianapolis, IN (Sports Network) - Indianapolis Colts head coach Chuck Pagano has reportedly been diagnosed with a treatable form of leukemia.

According to the Indianapolis Star, Pagano underwent blood tests last week after feeling fatigued in recent weeks. The paper did not initially speculate on the nature of the illness, but added that the Colts are optimistic about his recovery and will have a press conference on Monday to discuss details.

ESPN then reported that Pagano has leukemia and will miss the next six weeks.

Colts owner Jim Irsay, on his Twitter feed, did not reveal specifics about Pagano's illness, but acknowledged the coach's upcoming battle.

"Colts n all NFL Fans..keep Coach Chuck n his family in your prayers..He is fighting with courageous energy n faith and WILL win this battle!" Irsay tweeted.

The Colts had their bye this past week and will face Green Bay next Sunday.

Offensive coordinator Bruce Arians is expected to take over the head coaching duties in Pagano's absence.

Pagano, who will turn 52 years old on Tuesday, is in his first season as Colts head coach.

Teaser:
Indianapolis Colts head coach Chuck Pagano has reportedly been diagnosed with a treatable form of leukemia.
Post date: Monday, October 1, 2012 - 23:00
All taxonomy terms: NASCAR, News
Path: /nascar/brad-keselowski-now-chase-favorite
Body:


Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - After winning Sunday's race at Dover International Speedway, Brad Keselowski might just be the favorite to win the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship.

Keselowski posted on his Twitter account prior to the start of the 400-mile event that "whoever wins the race today will be the new media favorite to win (the) championship."

With two victories in the first three Chase races, Keselowski is making a strong statement that he is the one to beat for the title. But Keselowski isn't ready to consider as the favorite just yet.

"By no means do I feel like we're the favorite," he said. "Certainly we're not the underdog probably at this point. But I think there's so much racing to go, so many opportunities for things to go wrong - or right - for anyone out there, that it's way too early to point those fingers and say those things. My perspective is we got a lot more racing to go. Let's just let the racing play out and go from there."

Keselowski's win at Dover moved him back on top in the point standings. He entered the race only one point behind Jimmie Johnson. Keselowski is now five ahead of Johnson, who finished fourth after scoring a pair of second-place runs in the first two Chase races -- Chicagoland and New Hampshire.

Keselowski considered Dover as one of his weakest racetracks on the Sprint Cup Series schedule. The Penske Racing driver had finished no better than 12th in his first five races at this one-mile, concrete-surfaced oval. In fact, his average finish there was 17th before his victory.

"We felt like we could come here to win," Keselowski said. "We certainly felt we had a great shot at it, weren't worried about our stats, weren't listening to anybody that said this track was going to be our weakness."

Keselowski did not have the best car on the track, but he had the best fuel strategy. He ran the final 89 laps without stopping for gas.

Several other drivers opted to go the distance without pitting but had to conserve their fuel more so than Keselowski. Joe Gibbs Racing drivers Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin ran first and second, respectively, before they had to stop for a splash of gas with 10 laps remaining. Busch had the dominant car throughout the day, as he led 302 of 400 laps. Keselowski ran in front for just 14 circuits.

"I feel like any weekend you can run top five towards the closing laps of a race, you're putting yourselves in position to win," Keselowski's crew chief, Paul Wolfe, said. "That's what we were able to do (Sunday). Just a great job by everybody on this team. This was another small step to the 10 races. Just really proud to be able to come out of here with the points lead."

With seven races to go in the Chase, Keselowski is hoping to give team owner Roger Penske his first championship in NASCAR's premier series. Keselowski also would deliver a title to Dodge before the auto manufacturer departs the series at season's end.

In February, Penske announced that it was switching from Dodge to Ford at the start of the 2013 season. Penske, which has been with Dodge since 2003, fields two Charger cars in Sprint Cup and two Challenger cars in Nationwide.

With no other active Cup teams using Dodge, the manufacturer revealed in August its withdrawal from the sport.

"The greatest thing we could do would be to bring a championship to Dodge this year," Penske said. "I'm sorry to see them get out of the Cup side. Hopefully, they might do something in Nationwide. At the moment, we represent them. They are our partners, and we're going to do our best."

If Keselowski continues on the same path that Tony Stewart took last year, he would win the championship. Stewart won five races in the 2012 Chase, including two victories in the first three events, to capture the title.

At this point of the season last year, Stewart was nine points out of the lead. He had won at Chicagoland and New Hampshire before finishing 25th at Dover.

"Tony set a heck of a template last year of how to win the championship, winning five of the races," Keselowski said. "By no means do I want to infer that's the way it's going to be this year, but he sent a heck of a message through the garage last year."

Stewart also won at Martinsville, Texas, and the season finale at Homestead. He finished the season in a points tie with Carl Edwards but earned the championship by virtue of his series-leading five victories for the year.

Keselowski has previously won at two of the three upcoming tracks on the Chase calendar. He won this year's spring race at Talladega and the 2011 inaugural spring event at Kansas. Talladega is scheduled for next Sunday, while Kansas is slated for Oct. 21.

While there is a five-point separation between Keselowski and Johnson, Denny Hamlin trails the leader by 16 points. Clint Bowyer is 25 behind. Stewart and Kasey Kahne are both 32 back.

Teaser:
<p> After winning Sunday's race at Dover International Speedway, Brad Keselowski might just be the favorite to win the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship.</p>
Post date: Monday, October 1, 2012 - 14:06
All taxonomy terms: New York Jets, NFL, News
Path: /nfl/jets-holmes-could-miss-few-weeks
Body:

New York Jets wide receiver Santonio Holmes could be sidelined a few weeks after injuring his left foot during Sunday's game against San Francisco.

Jets head coach Rex Ryan on Monday said x-rays were negative, but didn't know how long Holmes would be out until MRI results are further evaluated.

"I'm not sure how many weeks he's going to be out, but we know that the x-rays were negative," said Ryan. "If it's muscle it could heal much quicker, if it's something else -- ligaments -- then it would take much longer, but it's good news that the x-ray was negative. Obviously, it looks doubtful for this week, but further than that, I'm not real sure."

The Jets will host the Houston Texans next Monday night.

Holmes was hurt during the fourth quarter of Sunday's 34-0 loss after making a short catch. He immediately fell to the ground without being contacted and let go of the ball, which 49ers cornerback Carlos Rogers promptly returned for a 51-yard touchdown that gave San Francisco a 24-0 lead.

The seventh-year veteran was unable to put any weight on his left leg and was carted off the field.

Holmes recorded four catches for 29 yards before exiting Sunday, one week after coming up with 147 yards on nine grabs in a 23-20 overtime win at Miami. He leads the Jets with 20 receptions for 272 yards with a touchdown.

Ryan also said the Jets have agreed to a contract with cornerback Aaron Berry, who was released by the Detroit Lions in July after a second arrest in the offseason. He will add depth to a secondary that lost superstar cornerback Darrelle Revis to an ACL injury last week.

The Jets had begun playing running back Joe McKnight in the secondary, but Ryan said McKnight will return to his role in the offensive backfield.

—(Sports Network)

Teaser:
<p> New York Jets wide receiver Santonio Holmes could be sidelined a few weeks after injuring his left foot during Sunday's game against San Francisco.</p>
Post date: Monday, October 1, 2012 - 13:33
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Legends Poll
Path: /college-football/legends-poll-top-25-college-football-week-5
Body:

The top seven teams in the Legends Poll remained unchanged this week, setting the table for a top 10 SEC showdown next week at South Carolina.

The 7th-ranked Gamecocks take on No. 5 Georgia, which outlasted Tennessee in a 51-44 shootout this weekend.

“Right now I think Georgia is a better football team, more balanced,” former Bulldog coach Vince Dooley said. “They’ve got great balance with Gurley at tailback and obviously Murray at quarterback. Gurley’s leading the conference in rushing and his backup isn’t too bad either.”

No. 1 Alabama received all 17 first-place votes for the third straight week after a 33-14 victory over Ole Miss.

Oregon, Florida State and LSU stayed put in the top 5 as well.

West Virginia’s Geno Smith continued his Heisman campaign, throwing for nearly 700 yards and eight touchdowns as the Mountaineers remained at No. 6 in the rankings.

Stanford dropped out of the top 10 after a Thursday night upset at Washington, allowing Kansas State to move past 9th-ranked Notre Dame for the No. 8 spot.

No. 10 Texas hung on to beat Oklahoma State, 41-36, and made its first top 10 appearance of the season.

Florida, USC, TCU, Clemson and Oklahoma followed Texas and each moved up a spot this week. Stanford fell eight spots to No. 16.

No. 17 Louisville remained unbeaten and was followed by Nebraska, Oregon State and Mississippi State.

Newcomers to the Legends Poll this week were Cincinnati and Rutgers.

Michigan State fell out of the top 25 this week, and despite a 32-29 win over New Mexico, Boise State dropped out of the rankings as well.

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

THE LEGENDS POLL TOP 25

RK TEAM RECORD POINTS PV RK
1 AlabamaAlabama (17) 5-0 425 1
2 OregonOregon 5-0 405 2
3 Florida StateFlorida State 5-0 385 3
4 LSULSU 5-0 370 4
5 GeorgiaGeorgia 5-0 362 5
6 West VirginiaWest Virginia 4-0 332 6
7 South CarolinaSouth Carolina 5-0 328 7
8 Kansas StateKansas State 4-0 294 10
9 Notre DameNotre Dame 4-0 290 9
10 TexasTexas 4-0 275 11
11 FloridaFlorida 4-0 269 12
12 USCUSC 3-1 221 13
13 TCUTCU 4-0 210 14
14 ClemsonClemson 4-1 201 15
15 OklahomaOklahoma 2-1 181 16
16 StanfordStanford 3-1 166 8
17 LouisvilleLouisville 5-0 143 17
18 NebraskaNebraska 4-1 131 20
19 Oregon StateOregon State 3-0 118 21
20 Mississippi StateMississippi State 4-0 102 19
21 NorthwesternNorthwestern 5-0 74 23
22 UCLAUCLA 4-1 52 24
23 Texas A&MTexas A&M 3-1 49 25
24 CincinnatiCincinnati 3-0 34 -
25 RutgersRutgers 4-0 24 -
 

* 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, October 1, 2012 - 06:00
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy Football, NFL, Fantasy
Path: /nfl/2012-fantasy-football-start-or-sit-week-4
Body:

From now until Week 11, every team will get a one-week break from the playing field, which means you obviously won’t be able to start any of those players that given week. Indianapolis and Pittsburgh are the only ones on bye in Week 4, and while it’s just two teams, it still means some owners are out there will have to do without the likes of Ben Roethlisberger, Andrew Luck, Mike Wallace, Reggie Wayne and others this week. Don’t forget that Heath Miller was the top-scoring tight end in all of fantasy football last week.

So as usual, Athlon Sports is here to help you make those important lineup decisions for your Yahoo!, NFL.com or ESPN fantasy football league with our weekly Start and Sit suggestions. Keep in mind these are merely our suggestions as the ultimate decision comes down to you, the owner.

Week 4 Positional Rankings

Sneaky Start of the Week
Ben Tate, RB, Houston vs. Tennessee
No, Arian Foster’s not hurt, not that I’m aware of anyways, and yes, I do know he’s the lead horse in the Texans’ backfield. However, that does not mean there’s not enough room for two viable fantasy options, especially considering this Sunday’s match up against Tennessee.

First, the Titans are 29th in the league in rushing defense and are giving up the fourth-most fantasy points to opposing running backs. Second, Foster and Tate have shared the load before, and been productive doing so. In Week 2 against Miami, Foster led the way with 28 carries, while Tate got 12, turning them into 74 yards and two touchdowns. He also caught four passes for 23 yards in that game and has shown himself to be just as reliable as Foster as a receiver.

Last season, Tate scored 9.5 or more fantasy points in eight of the 15 games he played in. Of those eight, three of them came in games in which Foster scored 23.5 or more fantasy points himself. In fact, Foster’s biggest game of the 2011 season was against the Titans in Week 7 when he had more than 115 yards both rushing and receiving and scored three touchdowns (43.9 pts). Despite this, Foster still got 15 carries, which went for 104 yards (10.4 pts).

I’m not saying Foster and Tate are going to run wild like that versus the Titans this time around, although the statistics to this point might suggest otherwise. Rather what I am thinking is that between the Titans’ susceptible rush defense and the Texans’ run-oriented offense, there should be more than enough opportunities to make Tate a very solid flex option this week, if not a borderline RB2, especially if he’s able to find the end zone.

Surprise Sit of the Week
Cam Newton, QB, Carolina at Atlanta
If not for a one-yard touchdown plunge in the third quarter, Newton’s overall line against the Giants last Thursday night would have looked pretty ugly. He completed just 16 of his 30 pass attempts for 242 yards, no touchdowns and three interceptions. He also was sacked twice and picked up a grand total of five yards on his five other rush attempts.

Prior to the Giants game, Newton had played fairly well. In his first two games, he completed nearly 70 percent of his passes for an average of 227 yards per game. But he had as many interceptions as touchdown passes (two apiece), along with a rushing touchdown and a fumble lost. In total, he currently is No. 18 at his position in fantasy scoring, putting him behind the likes of Michael Vick (and his nine turnovers), second-year signal callers Jake Locker and Christian Ponder, and this year’s No. 1 overall pick, Andrew Luck.

To put it simply, Newton’s fantasy production early on this season is down quite a bit, and I don’t see it getting much better against Atlanta. Last season, Newton scored 78.3 fantasy points through his first three games, which also were the first three games of his NFL career. This season, he’s scored 53.0 fantasy points in his first three games. That’s a difference of 25.3 points or an average of 8.4 points per game.

Then there’s the Falcons defense, which is seventh in the league in pass defense right now and is giving up the second-fewest fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks. Remember, this is a defense that picked Peyton Manning off three times in the first quarter two weeks ago at home and followed that up by holding Phillip Rivers to just 173 yards through the air, no touchdowns and two interceptions on the road. Newton is still one of the most dangerous players in the league and is always a candidate to break out for a huge game. I just don’t see it happening this week.

Quarterbacks
START
Peyton Manning (DEN) vs. Oakland
Yes, I had Manning in the Sit section last week. And even though one could argue he did most of his damage in “garbage” time against the Texans, as the Broncos were trying to come back from a huge deficit, he still delivered. Manning finished with 330 yards, two touchdowns, and most importantly, no interceptions against the Texans, and this week he welcomes Oakland to his new home field. Make that he welcomes with open arms a Raiders defense that’s giving up more than 264 yards through the air and nearly 30 points per game, and has yet to intercept a pass.

Philip Rivers (SD) at Kansas City
Rivers had a forgettable performance last week against Atlanta as he had just 173 yards passing, no touchdowns and threw two picks. His numbers should improve quite a bit this week against Kansas City. While the Falcons are giving up the second-fewest fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks, the Chiefs are allowing the third most. The Chiefs have allowed eight touchdown passes and have just one interception in their first three games.

Josh Freeman (TB) vs. Washington
Freeman, like Manning, goes from one side to the other this week if anything because of the opponent. After getting roughed up by Dallas (110 yards, TD, INT, sacked twice) last week, Freeman gets his shot at a Washington defense that’s surrendering the second-most passing yards per game (Tampa is first in this category) and is yielding the most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks. How bad has it been? Drew Brees, Sam Bradford and Andy Dalton each enjoyed 300-yard, three-touchdown performances against the ‘Skins.

SIT
Tony Romo (DAL) vs. Chicago (Monday)
Romo was not able to take advantage of what appeared to be a Start-able situation against Tampa Bay last week, and now finds himself in the exact opposite situation this week. Despite throwing for 283 yards, Romo had just one touchdown and three turnovers (INT, 2 lost fumbles) against the Buccaneers. He could be in for an even rougher Monday night as Chicago is currently sixth in the league in total, rush and pass defense and is giving up the fewest fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks.

Jay Cutler (CHI) at Dallas (Monday)
Cutler was even less impressive than Romo against St. Louis (183 yards, INT) and also faces a much tougher task Monday night against the Dallas defense. The Cowboys are the No. 1 defense in the NFL in yards allowed and are giving up only 137 through the air per game. Pass protection has been an ongoing issue for the Bears, not a good sign for this game, and in his last two games, Cutler has thrown one touchdown pass compared to five interceptions.

Jake Locker (TEN) at Houston
The second-year quarterback had a career day (413 total yards, 2 TD passes) against Detroit last week, so kudos to the kid. But this was against the Lions in a game that was mostly back-and-forth throughout the second half. This week it’s Houston, the No. 2 defense in the league right now and one that’s giving up less than 190 passing yards to the opposition. This also will more than likely be a game in which the Texans will dominate, both on the scoreboard and in terms of time of possession, and one in which I think the Titans will struggle to move the ball. In other words, good luck kid.

Running Backs
START

BenJarvus Green-Ellis (CIN) at Jacksonville
The Law Firm hasn’t exactly run over the opposition thus far (56 att., 204 yds., 2 TD), but some of that can be attributed to Andy Dalton’s back-to-back 300-yard/3-TD games. Which bring us to this week’s game in Jacksonville. The Jaguars are giving up more than 150 rushing yards per game and the third-most fantasy points to opposing running backs.  So, on paper anyways, this appears to be as good a week as any to give the ball to BJGE early and often and see what he can do.

Ryan Williams (ARI) vs. Miami
The changing of the guard, if you will, as it applies to Arizona’s backfield started last week against Philadelphia and became official earlier this week. It began when Williams got five more carries (13 to 8) that incumbent starter Beanie Wells  against the Eagles and culminated with the Cardinals Wells on injured reserve due to a severe turf toe injury. Wells will be eligible to return in November, but considering Williams averaged 6.4 yards per carry against the Eagles, his starting days may be over. Regardless, Williams should get the bulk of the carries from here out and I for one am very curious to see what he can do against Miami’s defense. The Dolphins have been pretty stingy yardage-wise (75.5 rushing ypg), but they are still in the top half of the league when it comes to fantasy points allowed to opposing running backs.

Jacquizz Rodgers (ATL) vs. Carolina
Even though Michael Turner is still getting the majority of the carries, the Falcons have stayed true to their word about involving Rodgers in their game plan. Rodgers is second on the team in carries (20) and is just one behind No. 3 wide receiver Harry Douglas in targets (8) so far. Last week against San Diego Rodgers got 10 carries (Turner had 12) and caught five passes, one of which went for a touchdown. Carolina is not only giving up the second-most fantasy points to opposing running backs, they also have allowed the most receptions (32) to them. Anyone else notice a trend here?

SIT
Chris Johnson (TEN) at Houston
Has it really come to this? Sit the guy who ran for more than 2,000 yards just three seasons ago? The answer is a resounding yes considering Johnson’s pitiful production thus far. For one, the starting quarterback (Jake Locker) has more rushing yards than Johnson. Secondly, does anyone really think it will get any better this week against a Houston defense that’s allowed less than 70 yards rushing per game? To put it another way, the Texans are giving up 3.8 yards per carry, which is tied for the 10th lowest average in the league. That’s still 2.4 yards more than what Johnson (1.4 ypc) is averaging. How far the once mighty have fallen.

New York Giants backfield (NYG) at Philadelphia
Congratulations Andre Brown. You rushed for more than 100 yards and two touchdowns in your first career NFL start. Now go back to the bench. Ahmad Bradshaw is expected to return to his starting role after missing last week’s game with a neck injury, but the Giants also have said that Brown will get his share of touches. Translation: this has all the makings of the recent past when Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs shared carries. Everyone who owned either during that time can recall how much fun that wasn’t. As it applies to the present, consider that this situation could play out in such a way that it’s entirely possible that, for example, Brown could end up with the most carries this Sunday against Philadelphia. That still doesn’t mean, however, that Brown ends up with more fantasy points than Bradshaw, as the latter could take the goal-line work from the former and score from close in or do more damage on the receiving end. What it does mean is this: for now I would keep my distance from either, especially since the Eagles have been decent (103.0 ypg) against the run.

Reggie Bush (MIA) at Arizona and Michael Bush (CHC) at Dallas (Monday)
That’s right, pick a Bush, any Bush, and my advice is to leave him on your bench this week. Reggie left last week’s game due to a knee injury, and while no structural damage was found, he has been limited in practice this week. He is adamant about playing, but he’s not the one who has the final say or will determine how much work he gets if he does see the field against the Cardinals. I’m just not sure he will have enough chances to have that big of an impact, neither for the Dolphins nor your fantasy team.

On the other hand, there’s Michael, who was solid (73 total yards, TD), but certainly not spectacular as the Bears’ starting running back against St. Louis. He also reportedly took some pretty hard hits during that game, which is one reason why the Bears brought in several free agents, including Ryan Grant who ended up signing with Washington, earlier this week. There’s also talk that Matt Forte, the incumbent starter who missed last week because of an ankle injury, may be back on Monday night against Dallas. If he plays, Forte will certainly be limited in terms of workload, but that also means less work for Bush. And speaking of Dallas, the Cowboys are tops in the NFL in total defense, although they are giving up 113 yards on the ground per game. Still, between the punishment Bush has already taken, the chance that Forte returns and takes some touches away from him, and the potential for punishment stemming from the match-up with the Cowboys, that seems to be enough reasons to at least give some pause before putting the other Bush in your starting lineup as well.

Wide Receivers
START

Jordy Nelson (GB) vs. New Orleans
There’s no denying Jordy Nelson has gotten off to a slow start, with just 13 catches for 167 yards (12.8 ypc) and no touchdowns through three games. However, you could say that about all of Aaron Rodgers’ pass-catchers in general. Regardless, Nelson thrived in home games last season with 42 receptions for 816 yards (19.4 ypc) and 13 touchdowns in eight contests. Green Bay is at home against New Orleans this week. The Saints are last in the NFL in total defense and tied for second-to-last in points (34.0) allowed. Maybe it’s just me, but I think we should give Nelson one more chance this week, don’t you?

Eric Decker (DEN) vs. Oakland
In Denver’s first two games, Decker caught a combined nine passes for 108 yards, or an average of 12 yards per catch. Last week against Houston, who currently ranks fourth in pass defense, Decker hauled in eight passes for 136 yards, which translates into an average of 17 yards per catch. Decker has yet to find the end zone, but there’s a good chance that will change this week as Oakland has not only allowed the seventh-most passing yards, but they have yet to pick off a pass (versus six TD passes allowed) either.

Malcom Floyd (SD) at Kansas City
Floyd signs a three-year contract extension earlier this week and ends up on this week’s Start list. Coincidence? Not really when you consider Floyd is far and away Philip Rivers’ favorite target (23) so far. Staying healthy has really been the biggest strike against Floyd in the past, as he’s showing (13 rec., 227 yds., TD) what he can do when’s he able to stay on the field. Next up for the Chargers, who are looking to bounce back after a disappointing showing against Atlanta, is a Kansas City pass defense that’s allowed eight touchdown passes through the first three games.

SIT
Steve Smith (CAR) at Atlanta
Smith may have done the right thing in “scolding” his young quarterback after witnessing his sideline demeanor during last week’s loss to the Giants, as he is the veteran leader of the Panthers. However, call me curious in that I want to see if his public admonishment of Cam Newton has any adverse effect, even if it’s minor, on their on-field chemistry. Also, Atlanta has been pretty tough on opposing wide receivers thus far, surrendering just one touchdown catch in three games.

Danny Amendola (STL) vs. Seattle
Amendola erupted (15 rec., 160 yds., TD) against Washington two weeks ago, only to come back to earth (5, 66) last week against Chicago. Seattle’s secondary is big, athletic, physical and pretty deep and have allowed just two touchdown catches to opposing receivers. Put me in the camp that thinks this game will look a lot more like last week rather than what he was able to do in Week 2.

Golden Tate (SEA) at St. Louis
Yes, Tate was the hero, albeit with an assist from the now-unemployed replacement officials, of Seattle’s improbable (dare I say, unwarranted?) last-second win over Green Bay on Monday night. However, don’t overlook the fact that while he scored two touchdowns, he only has a total of six catches so far, and Russell Wilson (57.3 percent completion rate, 434 yards, 4 TD, INT) hasn’t exactly been lighting it up himself. St. Louis hasn’t been that bad (238 yards per game, 2 TD, 5 INT) against the pass either. To me Tate is a perfect example of a boom-or-bust type of fantasy option, although I would characterize him more as the latter rather than the former.

Tight Ends
Start
Tony Gonzalez (ATL) vs. Carolina
Don’t look now, but the “old” man is showing the young pups how this game is played. The 36-year-old future Hall of Famer, who is the No. 1 tight end in fantasy football, also leads his position in targets (28) and receptions (21), while he is second in receiving yards (214) and tied for second in touchdowns (3). Does anyone see any reason why this won’t continue? Yeah, me neither.

Owen Daniels (HOU) vs. Tennessee
Daniels, and not Andre Johnson, currently leads the Texans in targets with 22, and he’s tied for first with the All-Pro wide receiver in receptions with 13. Now there’s little reason to expect this to continue, but don’t be surprised if the tight end hangs close for at least another week. Tennessee has given up the most fantasy points to opposing tight ends, which includes five touchdown catches in three games.

SIT
Brent Celek (PHI) vs. New York Giants
It may seem like I’m picking on Celek, who went from a Sit two weeks ago to a Start last week and now finds himself on the other side again. But I also should point out that the Philadelphia tight end, who leads his position and the Eagles in receiving yards with 258, has yet to cooperate either. He had a big game (8 rec., 157 yds.) against Baltimore in Week 2 and followed that up with a quiet (2, 36) outing against Arizona. As far as this week goes, let’s just say I’m not crazy about the match-up with the Giants and it looks like Jeremy Maclin will be back at wide receiver, whose presence could mean fewer targets for Celek. Then again it wouldn’t shock me if Celek stays true to his pattern, meaning he will buck my prediction for the third straight week and have a big game. So if that happens and you Celek owners decide to not heed my advice here, you can thank me later.

Jason Witten (DAL) vs. Chicago (Monday)
Even though Witten says he’s healthy, it certainly seems like something is amiss with the All-Pro tight end, even if it’s mental and not physical. If that’s the case, I don’t think anyone would fault him, considering what’s he already gone through this season. And if it’s not the case, there must be some other reason for the fact he’s only connected with Tony Romo eight times on 21 targets for 76 yards (9.5 ypc) and no touchdowns. Until he gets a handle on the ball more consistently, it’s probably best to look elsewhere.

Defense/Special Teams
START

Seattle at St. Louis
Let’s see, the Seahawks sacked Aaron Rodgers eight times on Monday night and gave up one touchdown and two field goals to the Packers’ offense. The day before, Chicago sacked Sam Bradford six times and picked him off twice, returning one of them for a touchdown. The Rams could only manage six points, which came courtesy of two long field goals (46, 56), against the Bears. This week the Rams host the Seahawks. Can you say repeat?

New York Giants at Philadelphia
I expect the Eagles will get a fair share of yards and put some points on the board against the Giants, so in terms of fantasy output for the G-Men on defense/special teams it comes down to three things – sacks, turnovers and TDs. Fortunately for them, the Eagles have turned the ball over a league-high 12 times, have given up seven sacks (tied for 10th) and, for what it’s worth, they have allowed two defensive scores too. I kind of like the Giants’ chances here.

SIT
Denver vs. Oakland
Denver’s defense has been fairly solid, but they have been hurt somewhat (8 TD, 2 INT) by the pass. Enter Oakland and Carson Palmer, who is second in the league in pass attempts (128), third in completions (80) and seventh in yards (879). Palmer has only been picked off twice in all of those attempts, so provided he continue to take care of the ball and have the time, I think he will be able to have success through the air against the Broncos. I wouldn’t be all that surprised if this one turned out to be a fairly high-scoring affair.

Detroit vs. Minnesota
The Lions surrendered more than 400 yards of total offense in last week’s loss to the Titans and will face a much better rushing attack this week in the form of Adrian Peterson. Quarterback Christian Ponder has just one turnover (fumble) this season and is currently fifth in the league in passer rating. I just don’t see the Vikings’ offense making things that much easier this week on the Lions’ defense.

Kickers
START

Matt Bryant (ATL) vs. Carolina
The Falcons are tied for third in the league in scoring at 31.3 points per game. The Panthers are tied for 23rd in the league in points allowed, giving up 26.3 per game, and also are allowing the second-most fantasy points to opposing kickers. I hope Bryant was expecting to get a lot of rest on the sidelines this week.

Shayne Graham (HOU) vs. Tennessee
The only thing that could prevent this prediction from not coming true as I see it is if Graham ends up kicking just PATs. Either way, I fully expect the Texans to put a lot of points on the board against the Titans.

SIT
Mason Crosby (GB) vs. New Orleans
Similar to Graham, I think Crosby will get several chances to show off his leg. It’s just that the majority of the chances will come from the 19-yard-line as an extra point attempt rather than a field goal try from farther out.

Justin Medlock (CAR) at Atlanta
To be honest, I didn’t even know Medlock was the Panthers’ kicker. Then again maybe that’s because he’s attempted just one field goal so far, and it was only from 21 yards out. Not sure fans will see much of him this Sunday in Atlanta either.

— By Mark Ross, published on Sept. 28, 2012

Teaser:
<p> 2012 Fantasy Football: Week 4 Start or Sit</p>
Post date: Friday, September 28, 2012 - 07:00
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy football rankings, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /nfl/2012-fantasy-football-positional-rankings-week-4
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 website can give you.

2012 NFL Week 4 Fantasy Football Rankings

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

Week 4 Start or Sit

Note: Indianapolis and Pittsburgh are on bye this week.

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 4</p>
Post date: Thursday, September 27, 2012 - 05:25
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy football rankings, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /nfl/2012-fantasy-football-wide-receiver-rankings-week-4
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.

Indianapolis and Pittsburgh are on bye.

2012 NFL Week 4 Fantasy Football Rankings — Wide Receivers

Rk Player Team OPPONENT Notes
1 Calvin Johnson DET vs. MIN  
2 A.J. Green CIN at JAC Victimized 'Skins (183 yards) last week.
3 Julio Jones ATL vs. CAR  
4 Larry Fitzgerald ARI vs. MIA Is last week (9-114-1) a sign of things to come?
5 Andre Johnson HOU vs. TEN  
6 Percy Harvin MIN at DET  
7 Roddy White ATL vs. CAR  
8 Greg Jennings GB vs. NO Big target could be taking Lambeau Leap against Saints.
9 Victor Cruz NYG at PHI  
10 Hakeem Nicks NYG at PHI Should be back after missing Week 3 (foot).
11 Vincent Jackson TB vs. WAS Skins giving up most fantasy points to WRs.
12 Steve Smith CAR at ATL Called out Cam, will it affect chemistry?
13 Brandon Lloyd NE at BUF Carving out role in Patriots' aerial attack.
14 Brandon Marshall CHI at DAL (Mon.)  
15 Demaryius Thomas DEN vs. OAK Could have big day against Raiders' thin secondary.
16 Miles Austin DAL vs. CHI (Mon.)  
17 Stevie Johnson BUF vs. NE  
18 Wes Welker NE at BUF Big part of offensive game plan last week vs. Ravens.
19 Dwayne Bowe KC vs. SD  
20 Jordy Nelson GB vs. NO Put up big numbers in home games last season.
21 DeSean Jackson PHI vs. NYG  
22 Eric Decker DEN vs. OAK Had 136 yards in loss to Texans.
23 Torrey Smith BAL vs. CLE (Thurs.)  
24 Dez Bryant DAL vs. CHI (Mon.) Austin has out-performed Bryant to this point.
25 Marques Colston NO at GB Been slowed by foot injury.
26 Malcom Floyd SD at KC Clearly Rivers' top WR target.
27 Jeremy Maclin PHI vs. NYG Back at practice after missing last week (hip).
28 Santonio Holmes NYJ vs. SF  
29 Denarius Moore OAK at DEN  
30 Michael Crabtree SF at NYJ First to try and take advantage of Revis-less Jets.
31 Kenny Britt TEN at HOU  
32 Lance Moore NO at GB  
33 Pierre Garcon WAS at TB Foot issue has Garcon questionable for another week.
34 Nate Washington TEN at HOU  
35 Danny Amendola STL vs. SEA Hawks secondary will be tough test.
36 Nate Burleson DET vs. MIN Continuing to produce as Lions' No. 2.
37 Anquan Boldin BAL vs. CLE (Thurs.) No longer Ravens' No. 1 option.
38 Brandon LaFell CAR at ATL  
39 Randall Cobb GB vs. NO Returned KO for TD in pro debut in '11 vs. Saints.
40 Mike Williams TB vs. WAS  
41 Andrew Hawkins CIN at JAC Showing a knack for the big play.
42 Titus Young DET vs. MIN Did not practice Wednesday (knee).
43 Brian Hartline MIA at ARI  
44 Sidney Rice SEA at STL  
45 Robert Meachem SD at KC  
46 Golden Tate SEA at STL Looking to build off of 2-TD effort on MNF.
47 Laurent Robinson JAC vs. CIN Passed concussion tests, should play Sunday.
48 Mario Manningham SF at NYJ  
49 Greg Little CLE at BAL (Thurs.) Little having big problems bringing in passes.
50 Randy Moss SF at NYJ  
51 Jerome Simpson MIN at DET Makes season debut after three-game suspension.
52 Kevin Ogletree DAL vs. CHI (Mon.) Hasn't done much since Week 1 coming out party.
53 Andre Roberts ARI vs. MIA  
54 Davone Bess MIA at ARI  
55 Kevin Walter HOU vs. TEN  
56 Kendall Wright TEN at HOU Rookie getting plenty of looks from Locker.
57 Santana Moss WAS at TB  
58 Jon Baldwin KC vs. SD  
59 Donald Jones BUF vs. NE  
60 Cecil Shorts JAC vs. CIN Caught 80-yarder to beat Colts last week.
61 Ramses Barden NYG at PHI Could still produce even as Giants' No. 3.
62 Brandon Gibson STL vs. SEA  
63 Justin Blackmon JAC vs. CIN Rookie yet to have much of an impact.
64 Jeremy Kerley NYJ vs. SF Been productive with limited opportunities he's gotten.

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 4 Positional Rankings

Quarterbacks
Running Backs
Tight Ends
Kickers
Defense/Special Teams

Week 4 Start or Sit

Teaser:
<p> 2012 Fantasy Football Wide Receiver Rankings: Week 4</p>
Post date: Thursday, September 27, 2012 - 05:23
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy football rankings, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /nfl/2012-fantasy-football-quarterback-rankings-week-4
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.

Indianapolis and Pittsburgh on are bye this week.

2012 NFL Week 4 Fantasy Football Rankings — Quarterbacks

Rk Player Team OPPONENT Notes
1 Aaron Rodgers GB vs. NO Motivated QB + Saints porous D = Fantasy Bonanza
2 Tom Brady NE at BUF Career 46:17 TD:INT ratio in career vs. Bills.
3 Drew Brees NO at GB  
4 Robert Griffin III WAS at TB No. 1 fantasy scorer at his position.
5 Matt Ryan ATL vs. CAR No. 2 behind Griffin, 8 TD, 1 INT thus far.
6 Eli Manning NYG at PHI  
7 Peyton Manning DEN vs. OAK Raiders gave up 384 yards, 4 TD to Big Ben last week.
8 Matthew Stafford DET vs. MIN Left last week's game, Shaun Hill will go if he can't.
9 Michael Vick PHI vs. NYG Twice as many INT (6) as TD (3).
10 Cam Newton CAR at ATL  
11 Philip Rivers SD at KC Looking to bounce back after rough Week 3.
12 Joe Flacco BAL vs. CLE (Thurs.)  
13 Tony Romo DAL vs. CHI (Mon.) Bears allowing fewest fantasy points to QBs.
14 Matt Schaub HOU vs. TEN May not be called on to pass b/c of running game.
15 Josh Freeman TB vs. WAS Skins giving up most fantasy points to QBs.
16 Alex Smith SF at NYJ  
17 Andy Dalton CIN at JAC Has had back-to-back 300-yd/3-TD games.
18 Ryan Fitzpatrick BUF vs. NE Has 17 TD vs. 6 INT in last 7 September games.
19 Carson Palmer OAK at DEN  
20 Jay Cutler CHI at DAL (Mon.) Has 1 TD, 5 INT in last two games.
21 Christian Ponder MIN at DET  
22 Kevin Kolb ARI vs. MIA So far, so good - 4 TD, 0 INT in 3 games.
23 Matt Cassel KC vs. SD  
24 Russell Wilson SEA at STL Will MNF finish carry over against Rams?
25 Sam Bradford STL vs. SEA Rams second only to Packers in sacks allowed.
26 Jake Locker TEN at HOU Nice game against Lions, Texans much tougher test.

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 4 Positional Rankings

Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends
Kickers
Defense/Special Teams

Week 4 Start or Sit

Teaser:
<p> 2012 Fantasy Football Quarterback Rankings: Week 4</p>
Post date: Thursday, September 27, 2012 - 05:20
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy football rankings, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /nfl/2012-fantasy-football-tight-end-rankings-week-4
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.

Indianapolis and Pittsburgh are on bye.

2012 NFL Week 4 Fantasy Football Rankings — Tight Ends

Rk Player Team OPPONENT Notes
1 Jimmy Graham NO at GB  
2 Rob Gronkowski NE at BUF Still in the Top 10, despite slow(er) start.
3 Tony Gonzalez ATL vs. CAR "Old" man is No. 1 at his position.
4 Vernon Davis SF at NYJ His 4 TDs are tops (tied, Heath Miller) among TEs.
5 Martellus Bennett NYG at PHI Pretty much a must-start option now.
6 Antonio Gates SD at KC Hoping to shake slow start (7-65-0).
7 Jermichael Finley GB vs. NO  
8 Dennis Pitta BAL vs. CLE (Thurs.) Quickly becoming a favorite target of Flacco's.
9 Brandon Pettigrew DET vs. MIN  
10 Kyle Rudolph MIN at DET Young TE and QB developing chemistry.
11 Brent Celek PHI vs. NYG Leads all TEs in yards.
12 Owen Daniels HOU vs. TEN  
13 Fred Davis WAS at TB Finally showed some signs (7-90) last week.
14 Jason Witten DAL vs. CHI (Mon.) Getting the looks, not catching the ball.
15 Greg Olsen CAR at ATL Caught seven passes last week.
16 Jared Cook TEN at HOU Hurt shoulder late last week, monitor status.
17 Jermaine Gresham CIN at JAC Posted best numbers yet (5-64-1) last week.
18 Jacob Tamme DEN vs. OAK Suffered ankle injury last week, could be limited.
19 Scott Chandler BUF vs. NE  
20 Anthony Fasano MIA at ARI  
21 Marcedes Lewis JAC vs. CIN  
22 Brandon Myers OAK at DEN Suffered concussion last week, check status.
23 Joel Dreessen DEN vs. OAK Starting to take away targets from Tamme.
24 Dallas Clark TB vs. WAS  
25 Rob Housler ARI vs. MIA  
26 Ed Dickson BAL vs. CLE (Thurs.)

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 4 Positional Rankings

Quarterbacks
Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Kickers
Defense/Special Teams

Week 4 Start or Sit

Teaser:
<p> 2012 Fantasy Football Tight End Rankings: Week 4</p>
Post date: Thursday, September 27, 2012 - 05:16
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy football rankings, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /nfl/2012-fantasy-football-running-back-rankings-week-4
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.

Indianapolis and Pittsburgh are on bye.

2012 NFL Week 4 Fantasy Football Rankings — Running Backs

Rk Player Team OPPONENT Notes
1 Arian Foster HOU vs. TEN Titans 29th in rushing defense.
2 Ray Rice BAL vs. CLE (Thurs.)  
3 Maurice Jones-Drew JAC vs. CIN MJD already back in top 5 among RBs.
4 LeSean McCoy PHI vs. NYG Hoping to back up trash talk against G-Men.
5 Marshawn Lynch SEA at STL Beast mode could be in full effect vs. Rams.
6 Adrian Peterson MIN at DET  
7 Jamaal Charles KC vs. SD Back in charge after 233-yard effort.
8 Darren McFadden OAK at DEN  
9 Ryan Mathews SD at KC Should see even more touches against Chiefs.
10 Frank Gore SF at NYJ Jets allowing 150 yards rushing per game.
11 Doug Martin TB vs. WAS  
12 BenJarvus Green-Ellis CIN at JAC BJGE should have success vs. Jags.
13 DeMarco Murray DAL vs. CHI (Mon.) Bears will be tough test.
14 Trent Richardson CLE at BAL (Thurs.) Rookie could be in for long night.
15 Michael Bush CHI at DAL (Mon.) Forte's status for this week uknown.
16 Stevan Ridley NE at BUF Hope Week 3 (13 att) is exception, not rule.
17 Reggie Bush MIA at ARI Knee checked out OK, but watch status closely.
18 Michael Turner ATL vs. CAR  
19 Darren Sproles NO at GB  
20 Cedric Benson GB vs. NO Saints giving up most fantasy points to RBs.
21 Alfred Morris WAS at TB Looks to be entrenched as No. 1 back.
22 Mikel Leshoure DET vs. MIN Can he top 100-yard debut?
23 Steven Jackson STL vs. SEA  
24 Andre Brown NYG at PHI No longer the starter, but has earned a role.
25 Ahmad Bradshaw NYG at PHI Named the starter, but will share with Brown.
26 Chris Johnson TEN vs. HOU Texans not what struggling CJ needs.
27 Ryan Williams ARI vs. MIA Now the starter with Beanie Wells on IR.
28 Tashard Choice BUF vs. NE Less appealing if injured Bills return.
29 Jonathan Stewart CAR at ATL Hoping toe/ankle issues are over with.
30 DeAngelo Williams CAR at ATL  
31 Ben Tate HOU vs. TEN Solid flex option vs. Titans.
32 Shonn Greene NYJ vs. SF Powell breathing down his neck.
33 Willis McGahee DEN vs. OAK Rib injury could limit/sideline him.
34 Daniel Thomas MIA at ARI If Reggie sits, Thomas gets the start.
35 Jacquizz Rodgers ATL vs. CAR  
36 Pierre Thomas NO at GB  
37 Mark Ingram NO at GB  
38 Fred Jackson BUF vs. NE Even if he plays, expect limited impact.
39 Lance Ball DEN vs. OAK Should start if McGahee doesn't play.
40 Bilal Powell NYJ vs. SF Time to shine with Greene struggling.
41 Shaun Draughn KC vs. SD Peyton Hillis (ankle) questionable.
42 Danny Woodhead NE at BUF  
43 Daryl Richardson STL vs. SEA  
44 Lamar Miller MIA at ARI  
45 Kendall Hunter SF at NYJ  
46 Toby Gerhart MIN at DET  
47 Jackie Battle SD at KC Chargers' goal-line back?
48 Kevin Smith DET vs. MIN  

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 4 Positional Rankings

Quarterbacks
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends
Kickers
Defense/Special Teams

Week 4 Start or Sit

Teaser:
<p> 2012 Fantasy Football Running Back Rankings: Week 4</p>
Post date: Thursday, September 27, 2012 - 05:15
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy football rankings, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /nfl/2012-fantasy-football-defensespecial-teams-rankings-week-4
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.

Indianapolis and Pittsburgh are on bye.

2012 NFL Week 4 Fantasy Football Rankings — Defense/Special Teams

Rk Player OPPONENT Notes
1 Houston Texans vs. TEN  
2 Seattle Seahawks at STL Had 8 sacks on MNF, Rams have allowed second-most (12).
3 Baltimore Ravens vs. CLE (Thurs.) Short turnaround, but facing rookie QB/RB in their house.
4 Arizona Cardinals vs. MIA Cards 2nd in points allowed at 13.3 per game.
5 San Francisco 49ers at NYJ Don't look for Jets to get Ground N Pound going this week.
6 Chicago Bears at DAL (Mon.) Ranked 6th in both rushing and passing yards allowed.
7 Dallas Cowboys vs. CHI (Mon.) Giving up league-low 250 yards per game.
8 Green Bay Packers vs. NO Winless Saints get Pack at worst time possible.
9 Atlanta Falcons vs. CAR Dirty Birds hoping to continue Cam's frustrations.
10 Philadelphia Eagles vs. NYG Eagles' secondary looks to slow down G-Men's aerial attack.
11 New York Jets vs. SF  
12 New York Giants at PHI Giants planning to force more mistakes from Vick, Eagles.
13 Denver Broncos vs. OAK  
14 New England Patriots at BUF  
15 Miami Dolphins at ARI  
16 Detroit Lions vs. MIN

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 4 Positional Rankings

Quarterbacks
Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends
Kickers

Week 4 Start or Sit

Teaser:
<p> 2012 Fantasy Football Defense/Special Teams Rankings: Week 4</p>
Post date: Thursday, September 27, 2012 - 05:14
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy football rankings, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /nfl/2012-fantasy-football-kicker-rankings-week-4
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.

Indianapolis and Pittsburgh are on bye.

2012 NFL Week 4 Fantasy Football Rankings — Kickers

Rk Player Team OPPONENT
1 David Akers SF at NYJ
2 Justin Tucker BAL vs. CLE (Thurs.)
3 Mason Crosby GB vs. NO
4 Stephen Gostkowski NE at BUF
5 Matt Bryant ATL vs. CAR
6 Jason Hanson DET vs. MIN
7 Sebastian Janikowski OAK at DEN
8 Nate Kaeding SD at KC
9 Garrett Hartley NO at GB
10 Blair Walsh MIN at DET
11 Shayne Graham HOU vs. TEN
12 Matt Prater DEN vs. OAK
13 Greg Zuerlein STL vs. SEA
14 Lawrence Tynes NYG at PHI
15 Robbie Gould CHI at DAL (Mon.)
16 Dan Bailey DAL vs. CHI (Mon.)

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 4 Positional Rankings

Quarterbacks
Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends
Defense/Special Teams

Week 4 Start or Sit

Teaser:
<p> 2012 Fantasy Football Kicker Rankings: Week 4</p>
Post date: Thursday, September 27, 2012 - 05:09
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy Football, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /nfl/2012-fantasy-football-waiver-wire-week-4
Body:

Injuries can have as much of an impact to a fantasy roster, if not more so, than to an NFL team’s roster. As it applies to the former, several key offensive players went down this week, including C.J. Spiller, Reggie Bush, Matthew Stafford, Willis McGahee, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Laurent Robinson and Jared Cook.

Couple all of the injuries with the fact that bye weeks start in Week 4 (Indianapolis and Pittsburgh are both off) and it looks to be another busy week on the waiver wire. Here are some names worth considering if you are in search of an injury replacement, bye-week fill in or just looking to make a change.

Quarterbacks
Last week I mentioned Andy Dalton in this space mainly because of his upcoming schedule. Dalton was coming off of a 300-yard, three-touchdown game against Cleveland headed into his Week 3 match up with Washington. All he did against the Redskins was another 300-yard, three-score game and next up for the current No. 7 fantasy scorer at his position are dates with Jacksonville, Miami and another shot at the Browns.

Ryan Fitzpatrick, Buffalo Bills
Believe it or not, but Fitzpatrick is No. 5 among quarterbacks in fantasy scoring right now, even though he’s only thrown for 581 yards (28th in the NFL). How has he done it you ask? He’s tied with Ben Roethlisberger and Matt Ryan with eight touchdown passes and he’s thrown just three interceptions so far. Fitzpatrick will have his work cut out for him next week against New England, but he does have a track record of getting off to strong starts. He has 17 touchdown passes compared to six interceptions in September games over the past two seasons.

Shaun Hill, Detroit Lions
The Lions have yet to provide any official information, but the early word is that Matthew Stafford could be dealing with a hamstring injury. The Lions are off in Week 5, so it’s not out of the realm of possibility that they would sit Stafford this week and let Hill get the start against Minnesota to maximize Stafford’s recovery time. Considering Hill (10-13, 172 yards, 2 TD) led the late fourth-quarter comeback that sent the game against the Titans into overtime, he may not be a bad option for your fantasy team either.

Jake Locker, Tennessee Titans
And speaking of those Titans, Locker had a career day (413 yards of total offense, 2 TD) in leading his team to the exciting and much-needed win over the Lions. Locker’s two scores came on passes of 61 yards or longer and he connected with eight different receivers on the day. He clearly showed why the team took him in the first round of last year’s draft, but he also faces a daunting task with a trip to Houston on tap this week.

Christian Ponder, Minnesota Vikings
Ponder has been mentioned here before, but after orchestrating Minnesota’s improbable victory over San Francisco, he deserves another endorsement. Ponder was flawless (no turnovers) against a 49ers defense that had allowed 22 or fewer points in their wins over both Green Bay and Detroit prior to giving up 24 to the Vikings. Ponder was responsible for all three Viking touchdowns (2 pass, 1 rush) against the 49ers and has yet to throw an interception this season. Combine Ponder’s continual improvement with a fairly appealing schedule (at DET, TEN, at WAS, ARI, TB being the next five) and at the very least, I think he’s more than worthy of consideration as a potential bye-week fill in.

Running Backs
What can (Andre) Brown do for you? Potentially quite a lot if his 113-yard, two-touchdown coming out party against Carolina on Thursday is any indication. Ahmad Bradshaw (neck) has been cleared to return to practice, but nothing’s been said regarding his availability for this week’s game in Philadelphia. Even when Bradshaw returns, there’s no reason to think that Brown won’t have some sort of role in the Giants’ offense. If anything, he’s a must-have handcuff for Bradshaw owners, that is if he’s still available in your league.

In Detroit, it looks like Mikel is the (Le)shoure thing when it comes to the Lions’ backfield. The Lions’ second-round pick from the 2011 NFL Draft finally made his long-awaited NFL debut against Tennessee and promptly picked up his first career 100-yard game and scored a touchdown. Considering Kevin Smith didn’t get any carries, it appears that for the time being, Leshoure will get the lion’s share of carries.

Tashard Choice, Buffalo Bills
First it was Fred Jackson and this week it was C.J. Spiller as the latest Buffalo running back felled by injury. Although it’s pretty certain Spiller will miss this week’s game against New England, the good news is his shoulder issue doesn’t appear to be serious. Jackson also is recovering quicker than originally expected from the knee injury he suffered in Week 1, but whether he will be able to play this Sunday or not remains to be seen. That leaves Choice with an opportunity to be the Bills’ lead back. He has started four games in his career and had 91 yards rushing on 20 carries after replacing Spiller in the Bills’ win over Cleveland.

Shaun Draughn, Kansas City Chiefs
Yes Jamaal Charles went off on Sunday in New Orleans, rushing for 233 yards, but some of this can be attributed to the fact that Peyton Hillis limped off with an ankle injury in the third quarter. Charles will continue to get his carries, and probably the vast majority of them moving forward, but as long as Hillis is sidelined or limited by his ankle, Draughn will assume the backup role. As it is, the second-year pro out of North Carolina has out-produced Hillis to this point with 107 yards rushing (5.9 ypc), six receptions for 61 yards and a touchdown.

Bilal Powell, New York Jets
While there may not be a quarterback controversy at the moment for the Jets, there could be one brewing at running back. Powell is faring better than current starter Shonn Greene on a per-carry basis (4.0 to 2.8 ypc) as Greene has struggled to start the season. In Sunday’s win in Miami, Powell out-gained Greene 45 yards to 40, and did so with nine fewer carries (10 compared to 19). Don’t be surprised to see number of the carries start to even out more moving forward, especially if Greene continues to get bottled up.

Daniel Thomas, Miami Dolphins
Last week it was Lamar Miller who got the mention here, but that was mainly due to the uncertainty surrounding Thomas’ status as he was recovering from a concussion. Well not only did Thomas play against the Jets, he ended up leading the team in rushing (19 carries, 69 yards) after Reggie Bush left due to a knee injury. Bush didn’t suffer any structural damage to his knee, which is good, but don’t be surprised if he still misses a few weeks. In that case it looks like Thomas will be in position to get the bulk of the carries as he received 10 more attempts than Miller against the Jets. For now anyways, it appears the Dolphins prefer the veteran over the rookie.

Ryan Williams, Arizona Cardinals
Out in the desert, Williams has gotten more carries and more yards thus far than Beanie Wells. While Williams has been more productive, the more important thing is he’s been more durable as Wells can’t seem to shake his injury-prone nature. First it was his recovery from offseason knee surgery, but now it appears that Wells suffered a possible turf toe injury this past Sunday against Philadelphia. It may just be a matter of time before Wells is backing up Williams even when he's healthy.

Wide Receivers
For the second straight week Cincinnati's Andrew Hawkins scored on a pass play that covered more than 50 yards, as he hauled in a 59-yard touchdown strike to help put the Redskins away. Nate Burleson also made his presence felt in Tennessee as he tied Calvin Johnson in both targets (12) and receptions (10) in Detroit's overtime loss to the Titans. Johnson did much more damage yardage-wise (164 to 69), but Burleson matched his All-Pro teammate on the scoreboard with a touchdown grab, making it a very productive day for the lesser known Lion wideout.

Ramses Barden, New York Giants
Don’t look now, but the Giants may have found their third wide receiver. No one knew what to expect from the G-Men’s passing attack headed into last Thursday’s game at Carolina with Hakeem Nicks sidelined due to a foot injury. Enter Barden who stole the show by catching nine passes for 138 yards, both game highs. Nicks is expected to be back for this week’s game in Philadelphia, but that doesn’t mean Barden’s going away. Remember, last season Victor Cruz started the season as the Giants’ No. 3 wide receiver. He finished it as the No. 4 player overall at his position.

Jacoby Jones, Baltimore Ravens
Torrey Smith is the more known deep threat for the Ravens, but don’t forget about Jones. He and Joe Flacco have connected on seven of nine total targets thus far and Jones is averaging nearly 22 yards per reception. Sunday night against New England he caught three passes for 86 yards (28.7 ypc) and also drew a key pass-interference penalty on a third-down play that set up the game-winning field goal. If the Ravens continue to throw the ball down the field like they have been, Jones could see his opportunities and production continue to increase.

Jeremy Kerley, New York Jets
Santonio Holmes has twice as many targets as the next Jets wide receiver, but Kerley and rookie Stephen Hill are averaging more yards per catch and have caught two touchdown passes apiece. Hill suffered a hamstring injury in Sunday’s game in Miami, so Kerley could be in line for even more chances starting this week. Kerley is averaging more than 23 yards on his eight catches thus far and has appeared to develop some chemistry with Mark Sanchez, especially when it comes to going deep. Half of Kerley’s receptions have gone for 20 or more yards.

Cecil Shorts, Jacksonville Jaguars
Shorts has certainly done the most with what few opportunities he’s gotten. He leads the Jaguars in both yards (185) and touchdown catches (2) even though he’s fourth on the team with five receptions. Shorts is averaging a mind-blowing 30.8 yards per catch and his 80-yard touchdown grab with less than a minute left against the Colts turned out to be the game winner. Now with Laurent Robinson, the leader on the Jaguars in targets and receptions, having to go through the mandatory concussion tests before he’s cleared to play this week, Shorts could be in line for even more playing time.

Nate Washington, Tennessee Titans
I’m surprised that Washington, who had more than 1,000 yards and seven touchdowns last season, needs to be mentioned here, but he’s currently owned is less than 70 percent of Yahoo! leagues. That said, Washington is averaging nearly 27 yards per reception this season and he had a 71-yard touchdown catch against Detroit. Although Jake Locker has been spreading the ball out to his various targets, there’s no reason to think Washington, provided he stays healthy, won’t get his fair share of opportunities.

Tight Ends
Martellus Bennett continued his impressive start with six more catches for 73 yards and another touchdown against Carolina, while Heath Miller didn’t let a rib cartilage issue keep him off of the field and from catching two touchdowns of his own in Oakland. Bennett and Miller are currently the third and fourth top fantasy scorers at tight end, higher than the likes of Rob Gronkowski, Jimmy Graham and Jermichael Finely, and a host of others.

Kyle Rudolph, Minnesota Vikings
I really don’t know why Rudolph, who’s currently seventh among tight ends in fantasy scoring, is owned in less than half of the Yahoo! leagues. He is Christian Ponder’s second-favorite target behind Percy Harvin and he’s already caught three touchdowns, which is second only to the aforementioned Miller and Vernon Davis among tight ends. He’s averaging better than 10 yards per reception and has caught nearly 75 percent of the targets (13 of 18) thrown his way. What else are you looking for in a tight end?

Craig Stevens, Tennessee Titans
This is purely based on the fact that Tennessee starter Jared Cook left Sunday’s game with a shoulder issue. It doesn’t appear to be serious, but if for some reason Cook is sidelined for this week’s contest in Houston, Stevens would be the guy. He caught five passes for 63 yards against Detroit and for the season is averaging more yards per reception (16.3 to 14.9) than Cook. He’s worth consideration in deeper leagues or for Cook owners who are looking for some insurance.

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. 25, 2012

Teaser:
<p> 2012 Fantasy Football Waiver Wire: Week 4</p>
Post date: Tuesday, September 25, 2012 - 06:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Legends Poll
Path: /college-football/legends-poll-top-25-college-football-week-4
Body:

Oregon and Florida State jumped over LSU in the Legends Poll rankings this week after the Tigers struggled to remain unbeaten at Auburn.

Second-ranked Oregon ran away from Arizona, 49-0, which landed the Ducks one spot behind No. 1 Alabama.

“Oregon is like some of those old wishbone teams back when we were all young that if you couldn’t stop them a little bit, you couldn’t stop them at all,” former USC head coach John Robinson said. “The thing that they have is they have a better defense and the quarterback… they’re all talking up there that the quarterback is better than anything they’ve ever had.”

No. 3 Florida State also moved up a spot in the Legends Poll, passing its first big test against Clemson Saturday night. After trailing by 10 points in the second half, quarterback EJ Manuel turned the tide and led Florida State to a 49-37 comeback victory.

LSU held on late, but stumbled against a struggling Auburn team, which caused LSU to fall two spots to No. 4 in the rankings.

Georgia rounded out the top 5 after dismantling Vanderbilt, 48-3.

No. 9 Notre Dame continued to roll against Michigan, dropping the Wolverines out of the rankings. Kansas State was the biggest mover of the week, moving up five spots and joining the Irish inside the top 10 after a making a bold statement at Oklahoma, defeating the Sooners 24-19.

Newcomers this week were No. 19 Mississippi State, No. 21 Oregon State and No. 23 Northwestern.

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) 4-0 425 1  
2 Oregon 4-0 393 3  
3 Florida State 4-0 385 4  
4 LSU 4-0 384 2  
5 Georgia 4-0 365 5  
6 West Virginia 3-0 323 7  
7 South Carolina 4-0 320 9  
8 Stanford 3-0 316 8  
9 Notre Dame 4-0 276 11  
10 Kansas State 4-0 267 15  
11 Texas 3-0 255 12  
12 Florida 4-0 231 14  
13 USC 3-1 204 13  
14 TCU 3-0 196 17  
15 Clemson 3-1 189 10  
16 Oklahoma 2-1 178 6  
17 Louisville 4-0 150 20  
18 Michigan State 3-1 121 22  
19 Mississippi State 4-0 112 -  
20 Nebraska 3-1 101 24  
21 Oregon State 2-0 87 -  
22 Boise State 2-1 54 23  
23 Northwestern 4-0 43 -  
24 UCLA 3-1 31 19  
25 Texas A&M 2-1 24 -  
 

* 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 24, 2012 - 05:45

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