Articles By Athlon Sports

All taxonomy terms: Fantasy football rankings, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /columns/winning-game-plan/fantasy-football-running-back-rankings-week-9
Body:

We 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. Click here for all of our fantasy football rankings each week.

These rankings are our suggestions, but of course as always: You are responsible for setting your own lineup.

2011 NFL Week 9 — Running Back Rankings

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

Athlon Sports Week 9 Waiver Wire

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system

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

Teams on bye this week: Carolina, Detroit, Jacksonville, Minnesota

Rk Player Team OPPONENT
1 Arian Foster HOU vs. CLE
2 LeSean McCoy PHI vs. CHI
3 Matt Forte CHI at PHI
4 Fred Jackson BUF vs. NYJ
5 Michael Turner ATL at IND
6 Frank Gore SF at WAS
7 Ray Rice BAL at PIT
8 Steven Jackson STL at ARI
9 Beanie Wells ARI vs. STL
10 LeGarrette Blount TB at NO
11 Shonn Greene NYJ at BUF
12 Cedric Benson CIN at TEN
13 Rashard Mendenhall PIT vs. BAL
14 DeMarco Murray DAL vs. SEA
15 Mike Tolbert SD vs. GB
16 Darren Sproles NO vs. TB
17 Chris Johnson TEN vs. CIN
18 Jackie Battle KC vs. MIA
19 Brandon Jacobs NYG at NE
20 James Starks GB at SD
21 BenJarvus Green-Ellis NE vs. NYG
22 Michael Bush OAK vs. DEN
23 Pierre Thomas NO vs. TB
24 Knowshon Moreno DEN at OAK
25 Marshawn Lynch SEA at DAL
26 Reggie Bush MIA at KC
27 Chris Ogbonnaya CLE at HOU
28 Ryan Torain WAS vs. SF
29 Willis McGahee DEN at OAK
30 Delone Carter IND vs. ATL
31 Daniel Thomas MIA at KC
32 Javon Ringer TEN vs. CIN
33 Ben Tate HOU vs. CLE
34 Ryan Grant GB at SD
35 Roy Helu WAS vs. SF
36 Joseph Addai IND vs. ATL
37 LaDainian Tomlinson NYJ at BUF
38 Donald Brown IND at ATL
39 Kendall Hunter SF at WAS
40 Marion Barber CHI at PHI
41 Bernard Scott CIN at TEN
42 Kregg Lumpkin TB at NO
43 Isaac Redman PIT vs. BAL
44 Ricky Williams BAL at PIT
45 Lance Ball DEN at OAK
46 Taiwan Jones OAK vs. DEN
47 Thomas Jones KC vs. MIA
48 Stevan Ridley NE vs. NYG
Teaser:
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Post date: Wednesday, November 2, 2011 - 14:50
Path: /overtime/awesome-mike-singletary-magazine-error
Body:

Magazine editors make mistakes all the time. We're all human, but we found this error from the September 2011 issue of Texas Monthly to be especially enjoyable.

According to their "Regret The Error" page:

Our college football package also contained a mistake. The item regarding throwback jerseys erroneously stated that Baylor University linebacker Mike Singletary once made 79 tackles in a single game. That is pretty much impossible--even for Mike Singletary. In fact, the most tackles the two-time All-American ever had in a game at Baylor was 33. We regret these errors.

So there you have it. I think it should be pointed out that 33 tackles in a game is still pretty damn awesome. Even if it's nowhere close to 79.

Teaser:
<p> Magazine editors make mistakes, even when it comes to the great Mike Singletary</p>
Post date: Wednesday, November 2, 2011 - 08:32
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy football rankings, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /columns/winning-game-plan/fantasy-football-quarterback-rankings-week-9
Body:

We 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. Click here for all of our fantasy football rankings each week.

These rankings are our suggestions, but of course as always: You are responsible for setting your own lineup.

2011 NFL Week 9 — Quarterback Rankings

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

Athlon Sports Week 9 Waiver Wire

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system

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

Teams on bye this week: Carolina, Detroit, Jacksonville, Minnesota

Rk Player Team OPPONENT
1 Aaron Rodgers GB at SD
2 Drew Brees NO vs. TB
3 Tom Brady NE vs. NYG
4 Michael Vick PHI vs. CHI
5 Eli Manning NYG at NE
6 Tony Romo DAL vs. SEA
7 Philip Rivers SD vs. GB
8 Matt Schaub HOU vs. CLE
9 Ben Roethlisberger PIT vs. BAL
10 Matt Ryan ATL at IND
11 Josh Freeman TB at NO
12 Matt Cassel KC vs. MIA
13 Tim Tebow DEN at OAK
14 Jay Cutler CHI at PHI
15 Mark Sanchez NYJ at BUF
16 Ryan Fitzpatrick BUF vs. NYJ
17 Joe Flacco BAL at PIT
18 Andy Dalton CIN at TEN
19 Carson Palmer OAK vs. DEN
20 Matt Hasselbeck TEN vs. CIN
21 Sam Bradford STL at ARI
22 Alex Smith SF at WAS
23 Colt McCoy CLE at HOU
24 John Beck WAS vs. SF
25 Curtis Painter IND vs. ATL
26 Tarvaris Jackson SEA at DAL

Teaser:
<br />
Post date: Wednesday, November 2, 2011 - 07:35
Path: /nfl/mile-high-misery-destruction-denver-broncos
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Tim Tebow might be bad, but Josh McDaniels’ tenure with the Broncos was much, much worse.

The only reason to think Tim Tebow is anything other than awful is because you want to.

Those are the paraphrased words of Bomani Jones, ESPN personality and radio host. They were expelled in tweet-form, in no more than 140 characters, yet they comprise easily the best summation of Tebowmania we’ve yet to hear, read or say.

In a nutshell, their simplicity is why the Broncos are so—for lack of a better word—screwed. Nothing good can happen when ineptitude is this obvious. Nothing at all.

Now, crack open the nutshell. How did the Denver Broncos get to this point? Why are they starting a player whose mediocrity is apparent even to the most uneducated of football laymen?

The 2011 Denver Broncos are a team destroyed by pettiness past, derailed by two men who have since moved on. The story is an old one, but its ramifications are only now revealing themselves. The Cutler trade, and the flurry of moves that succeeded it, have decimated the Broncos’ recent past, present and foreseeable future.

On April 2nd, 2009, just weeks before that year’s NFL Draft, the Broncos flipped Cutler to the Bears for Kyle Orton, two first round picks, a fifth round pick and uncertainty at the league’s most important position.

The Broncos traded knowledge for faith. They knew what they had in Jay Cutler—a young, cannon armed quarterback who led them to seven wins in his rookie campaign. They merely hoped Kyle Orton was an average quarterback who would improve under the “expert” tutelage of McDaniels.

Although the Broncos were giving up their then 25-year old face of the organization for a man once benched in favor of Rex Grossman, the move made some sense; the relationship between Cutler and the Broncos organization was likely irreconcilable. All things considered, Denver had no choice but to trade Cutler. They might have been lucky to get as much as they did.

But if a risky move ends up backfiring, the offending executive or coach is almost always shown the door. McDaniels had doubled down on his risk; not only would he have pulled the trigger on disaster, his tenuous relationship with Cutler had made disaster necessary in the first place.

Josh McDaniels was on the hot seat before he ever coached his first game.

If the team McDaniels was inheriting had won seven games with Jay Cutler at the helm, surely expectations would be tempered with Orton stepping in. McDaniels needed to win games to save his job, so he would need to find a way to improve the team in other areas.

As McDaniels searched for answers, the Cutler deal served as the catalyst for a series of ill-advised moves, just one of which was handing the keys to the Broncos’ future over to Tim Tebow’s college resume.

As head coach and GM of the Broncos, McDaniels made 18 trades involving draft picks in ’09 and ’10. Six of these trades came in the first round of the 2010 gala alone. More than once, the Broncos received a pick in exchange for a player, only to trade that pick for another pick, and then flip that for a selection later on. Just when it appeared as if the chaos had passed, the Broncos traded a seventh-rounder back to the Patriots in exchange for Ross Hochstein, a 32-year old guard with only 20 career starts.

Perhaps McDaniels’ vision might have been successful if his eyes weren’t so crossed. But the Belchick disciple continued his mindless shuffle, flipping picks back and forth so quickly that it seemed impossible he had any semblance of a plan.

As is always the case with the draft, instant analysis was futile. The dust had not yet settled. Nevertheless, everyone seemed frazzled, Mel Kiper’s hair notwithstanding.

With the two first round picks and the third rounder received in exchange for Cutler, Denver ended up choosing Robert Ayers and…no one. They flipped the 2009 third rounder to Pittsburgh, who ended up picking Mike Wallace. Their second number one draft pick, by way of San Francisco, Philadelphia, Dallas and New England, ended up being WR Demaryius Thomas.

Oft-injured, Thomas has been a Grade A bust. If injuries weren’t insulting enough, Denver chose the former Georgia Tech receiver over Dallas’ Dez Bryant, who has already developed into an elite playmaker on offense and special teams.

Furthermore, Kenny Britt, Hakeem Nicks and Jeremy Maclin were all still on the board in 2009 when Denver picked Ayers—as was Tampa QB Josh Freeman following their selection of HB Knowshon Moreno.

Besides selecting Bryant and Wallace, teams ended up choosing Aaron Hernandez, Brandon Graham, Johnny Knox, Anthony Davis and Earl Thomas with picks that once belonged to the Broncos.

Trading up to get Tim Tebow meant the Broncos lost out on the opportunity to draft defensive linemen Terrence Cody and Carlos Dunlap as well as Saints tight end Jimmy Graham and Tampa’s Mike Williams. Former Broncos Tony Sheffler, Brandon Marshall and Montrae Holland—now starting at guard for the Cowboys—were all traded as well.

Instead of having any of those players, the Broncos ended up with Ayers (58 tackles and four sacks through 33 games), Thomas (12 career catches in 12 games), G Seth Olsen, CB Alphonso Smith and LB Jammie Kirlew (now with Indianapolis, Detroit and Buffalo, respectively), Perrish Cox (cut following accusations of sexual assault) as well as Rich Quinn and Syd’Quan Thompson, both of whom have yet to play a down in the NFL.

All in all, not a single one of the Broncos’ 18 trades could be described as anything other than a disaster. Out of their 2009 and 2010 draft picks, only Eric Decker—he of 36 career catches—and Tebow have contributed in any way, marginal as those contributions may be.

Broncos fans should be horrified. How could anyone be allowed to wreak this much havoc on a single franchise? The only explanation involves an image of Broncos owner Pat Bowlen curled up in a corner, rocking back and forth and muttering to himself about how, “It…just happened so fast.”

It’s one thing to take on risk by trading away established veterans. It’s another entirely to do what Josh McDaniels did, setting an organization ablaze and then dousing the flames with kerosene. Unable to get anything of significance out of 18 trades and 16 draft picks, it’s no mystery why Denver has trouble getting anything at all out of the 45 men on their roster.

Nor why McDaniels is currently with another organization, his seat still at a simmer, his job security just as tenuous as it has been from day one in Denver.

Jesse Golomb is the creator and lead writer of TheFanManifesto. Follow him on twitter at @TheFanManifesto or drop him a line at JesseGolomb@TheFanManifesto.com
 

Teaser:
<p> <em style="font-family: tahoma; font-size: 13px; background-color: rgb(255, 255, 255); ">Tim Tebow might be bad, but Josh McDaniels’ tenure with the Broncos was much, much worse.</em></p>
Post date: Tuesday, November 1, 2011 - 13:50
Path: /fantasy/legarrette-blount-will-play-sunday-you-shouldnt-start-him
Body:

LeGarrette Blount owners can rejoice. Or at least they can rejoice as much as owners of a one-dimensional 5th round fantasy football pick who's been out for a month can rejoice. But according to the Tampa Bay Bucs coach Raheem Morris, Blount will return to action this Sunday against the New Orleans Saints.

The bad news: You probably shouldn't start him this week. 

But why, you ask? The Saints have the 28th ranked defense in the league, you say. Well, almost any other back in the league would get the green light against such a lowly defense, but there's another story at play here.

The Saints are coming off a shocking and embarrassing loss to the lowly (and used-to-be winless) St. Louis Rams last week. That means that Drew Brees and company have a lot to prove, both to themselves and to everyone else around the league.

The Saints are going to come out of the gate strong and angry, and with their (normally) top-notch offense, I think there's a good chance that they will put up a few points in the first half of the game against the Bucs.

And that's exactly the worst thing that could happen to LeGarrette Blount.

Since he's so one-dimensional and doesn't catch any passes, he basically disappears from the game plan. He's one of the best backs in the league when the Bucs have a lead, but when they're down (which they very well could be this Sunday), then he's basically a non factor.

The only thing you can really hope for with Blount is that he gets into the end zone. But th problem with TDs is that they are unpredictable. One week he could get 3, while the next week he could get zero. I think this will be one of those weeks that's closer to zero, with Josh Freeman throwing the ball all over the field as the Bucs will have to keep pace with the Saints offense.

This game is in New Orleans, too, which only makes it worse for Blount's chances.

A few things that could help Blount is that Earnest Graham, the back who normally catches passes is much more suited to a come-from-behind passing game, is out for the season with an achilles injury. With only Kregg Lumpkin left in the backfield, Blount may get the majority of carries anyway.

LeGarrette Blount Prediction: 11 carries, 46 yards, 1 TD

Teaser:
<p> Tampa Bay's running back is healthy but shouldn't be in your starting lineup this Sunday</p>
Post date: Tuesday, November 1, 2011 - 12:29
All taxonomy terms: Funny slam dunk gif, Overtime
Path: /overtime/best-slam-dunk-gif-ever
Body:

Usually when you pull off a huge slam dunk, you don't expect the hoop to come back and turn the tables on you. This time it did.

Teaser:
<p> Sometimes you throw down a slam on a hoop, and sometimes it dunks you back</p>
Post date: Tuesday, November 1, 2011 - 10:44
All taxonomy terms: Tim Tebow, Tim Tebow Bingo, Overtime
Path: /overtime/tim-tebow-bingo
Body:

Watching Tim Tebow is becoming a very enjoyable pastime on Sundays. His erratic play and unpolished style make for TV that you can't take your eyes away from. Much like a car accident, you're just waiting for Tebow to toss a pick-6 or scramble around in the pocket while he gets sacked. So, to make this TV even more fun to watch, here's a Tim Tebow Bingo game you can play the next time you see Tebow take the field for the Broncos.

We were thinking about making this a drinking game, but we figured that you'd probably be way too wasted after just the first quarter. But all you binge-drinker out there can feel free to modify this however you see fit.

Teaser:
<p> Enjoy this game the next time Tim Tebow takes the field for the Broncos</p>
Post date: Monday, October 31, 2011 - 08:26
Path: /overtime/funniest-college-gameday-signs
Body:

Holding up signs at ESPN's College Gameday show has been a tradition for years now. ESPN does their best to screen out the innapropriate ones, but it seems impossible to get them all. Here are some of the funniest ones to have made it on TV.

Teaser:
<p> Here's a gallery of the funniest signs to make it onto College Gameday</p>
Post date: Sunday, October 30, 2011 - 10:18
All taxonomy terms: Andre Johnson, Houston Texans, Fantasy, News
Path: /fantasy/andre-johnson-no-go-week-8-out-week-9-too
Body:

Andre Johnson was supposed to play in Week 8. But things don't always play out the way they're supposed to for fantasy football owners.

After practicing on Wednesday and Thursday and looking like he was on pace to start this Sunday for the first time since week 4, Johnson suffered what seems to be a significant setback on Friday. Johnson was held out of practice and the general talk around the Texans' locker room was that his surgically-repaired hamstring is holding him back from getting onto the field.

Texans' coach Gary Kubiak tried to stay positive saying that Andre was "real close" to getting back to playing, but Johnson himself only deemed his hamstring at 70-75%.

What makes this news even worse is that the Texans have a bye in week 10. The smart move, no matter how great Johnson is feeling next week, would be to hold him out not only in week 8, but in week 9 as well, giving him a full three weeks to get back to 100%.

The Texans play the lowly Jaguars in week 8 and the even lowlier (that's a word, right?) Cleveland Browns in Week 9. After destroying the Titans last week, it seems like the Texans could take care of the Jags and Browns without Johnson, giving him plenty of rest to come back fully refreshed.

While this is the smart move in real football terms, it's also a killer move for Johnson's fantasy owners. Those who spent a first round draft pick on Andrew will be without him for 6 weeks, basically half of a fantasy season.

If Johnson owners have been able to keep their heads above water and stay in the playoff hunt, they will also be the team no one wants to play as they get one of fantasy football's leading scorers back right in time for the playoffs.

Teaser:
<p> The Texans receiver suffered a setback and didn't practice on Friday</p>
Post date: Friday, October 28, 2011 - 16:45
Path: /nfl/suck-luck-which-nfl-team-has-best-chance-andrew-luck
Body:

Seven weeks into the NFL season, there are 22 teams with a record of .500 or better, which means they can claim to be in the thick of the playoff race as the NFL season nears its halfway point. But none of them are in the most interesting race – the one happening way down at the bottom of the league.

Like it or not, the race for Andrew Luck – better known in most places as “Suck for Luck” – began the moment the first NFL teams hit 0-3 this season.. The Stanford quarterback will almost certainly be the prize of the 2012 draft and some scouts consider him to be as safe a bet as Peyton Manning (1998) or John Elway (1983).

What down-on-their-luck – no pun intended – NFL team wouldn’t want that?

Given the number of truly miserable, pathetic teams near the bottom of the NFL standings this season, the race for the No. 1 overall pick figures to be fierce and it likely will be won by a 2-3-win team. So if a team has two wins through the first six or seven games of the season (like Philadelphia, Jacksonville, Denver and Carolina) they’re probably already out of it.

For the five winless or one-win teams that are in it, though, the “Suck for Luck” race could get real interesting down the stretch. Here’s how the race the teams don’t want to talk about shapes up … with a projected order of finish (in draft order) and what the team will likely do with their pick:

1. Indianapolis Colts (0-7)
 Anyone who witnessed their 62-7 destruction at the hands of the Saints last Sunday night knows they have the special combination of horrible defense, terrible running game and bad quarterback to make everything click towards a winless season. WR Reggie Wayne looks done. RB Joseph Addai has been hurt and aside from a couple of big plays from QB Curtis Painter to WR Pierre Garcon, the passing game has no juice.

They have five division games left, plus games against the Falcons, Ravens and Patriots. Except for their Nov. 27 home game against the Panthers, what game do you expect them to win?

The pick: There has been some recent talk that the Colts would pass on a quarterback in next year’s draft because Peyton Manning has too many theoretical good years left. I don’t see that happening. I think they’ll need about seven seconds to write Luck’s name on the card and turn it in, and they’ll never seriously consider a trade offer. Manning’s neck injury makes him a question mark for the future. Besides, he’s 35 anyway. Even if returns for a couple of years, then the second-best quarterback of this generation could have a hand in grooming the best quarterback of the next one.

2. Miami Dolphins (0-6)
 Based solely on talent, this is the worst team in the NFL and their coach, Tony Sparano, has known he’s on borrowed time since the Dolphins owner, Steven Ross, made a run at Jim Harbaugh during the offseason. They just became the first team since the NFL-AFL merger in 1970 merger to blow a 15-point lead in the final three minutes of a game. They do have some winnable games, though (Washington, Oakland at home) and they’ve played some close ones. They’ll find a way to screw up getting the No. 1 overall pick.

The pick: It would be just their luck that they can’t suck enough to finally replace Dan Marino. They need a quarterback, though, and will have no choice but to use this pick on the second best one in the draft – maybe Oklahoma’s Landry Jones? Then they’ll have to keep their fingers crossed that whoever it is doesn’t turn into Akili Smith or Ryan Leaf.

3. Arizona Cardinals (1-5)
 They are riding a five-game losing streak, QB Kevin Kolb is struggling to adjust to life as a starter, and RB Beanie Wells has been in and out with injuries. Their schedule also features the NFC East, where four teams may be in the race right until the end. If Wells is healthy, they should drop down this list, but without him teams can concentrate too much on Kolb and WR Larry Fitzgerald..

The pick: You want to get Kolb more comfortable as a starting quarterback? Go draft the best available offensive tackle in 2012. There should be a few good ones, and if the Cards finish third they’ll have their pick.

4. St. Louis Rams (0-6)
 After nearly winning the awful NFC West last season, the Rams have fallen flat on their faces thanks to a ridiculous string of injuries that included RB Steven Jackson, QB Sam Bradford and WR Danny Amendola. Yes, they’re winless in a terrible division, but to realize how deceiving that is you have to look at whom they’ve played – all four NFC East teams, Green Bay and Baltimore. They haven’t played a single team in their crummy division yet. When they do, life gets easier. But first they need to fall to 0-7 against the Saints and resist the urge to fire Steve Spagnuolo.

The pick: Bradford has simply been getting killed when he’s been able to play and that’s a direct reflection on a bad offensive line. This is another team that needs a tackle over a quarterback. If they somehow landed the No. 1 overall pick, they could engineer one of the biggest trades in NFL history. But getting a top tackle would be fine, too.

5. Minnesota Vikings (1-6)
 They’ve showed signs of life since replacing Donovan McNabb with Christian Ponder, which is exactly what you don’t want to do in the race for a top draft pick. They still have holes at every position except for running back and they still have the Packers, Falcons, Lions and Saints on their schedule. They have enough issues, though, that five wins seems to be their ceiling, which locks them into a top-five pick.

The pick: A quarterback would’ve been an intriguing option for them until Ponder started playing and looking good. Now he needs some help around him. A big receiver would be nice, so the passing game can click and take some of the enormous pressure off Peterson. Don’t be surprised, though, if Leslie Frazier looks to rebuild his defense first.

By RALPH VACCHIANO

Teaser:
<p> We handicap the race to the bottom of the NFL standings and a shot to draft the Stanford star</p>
Post date: Friday, October 28, 2011 - 10:44
All taxonomy terms: Drew Rosenhaus, Suicide, Terrell Owens, News
Path: /news/terrell-owens-911-call-was-suicide-attempt-report-says
Body:

Terrell Owens, the enigmatic free agent wide receiver apparently attempted suicide earlier this month.

Owens was in the news when he was rushed to a hospital in early October after overdosing on prescription pills. According to new reports released by TMZ.com., the 911 dispatcher who took the call was speaking to Owens' personal asisstant. When the dispatcher asked if this was a suicide attempt, the personal assistant responded, "Yes, I believe so."

And if you recall, Owens was rushed to the hospital five years ago with a similar pill overdose. You may remember it because during the press conference after TO's incident, there were similar questions about whether it was a suicide attempt back then. And his manager responded with the gaudy and sort of disgusting "Terrell has 25 million reasons not to be alive." Clearly that response is a diversion, trying to distract the media away from the real issues that Owens was dealing with.

So now we have two questionable incidents of Terrell Owens at best just mismanaging his prescription pill use, and at worst (or saddest) attempting suicide. How long before someone should take the reigns of this situation and get h im the help it seems clear he really needs.

During his recent much-publicized workouts, his agent Drew Rosenhaus was all over the media talking about how much he's trying to get the best deal for Terrell. It seems like if he really cared about Owens, he would do something about this pill/suicide trend that's happening in his life.

Owens clearly has issues with himself and others. And it's scary to think of what will happen to him when he doesn't have football to drive him anymore. Recent reports about Walter Payton's struggle with post-football depression and suicide talk are very reminiscent of Owens' issues. 

The difference is that Payton was able to hide his demons from the media, but Owens, on the other hand can't seem to, which means he could be an even bigger danger to actually committing suicide. Suicide seems to be a much larger issue in the post-athlete world than we know about. If the indescrutctible Walter Payton had these demons, then imagine what some of the lesser known players have to deal with?

Instead of worrying about signing Owens to a new NFL team, someone should step in and take care of his bigger issues before something really bad happens to him.

Teaser:
<p> The free agent wide receiver apparently tried to kill himself earlier this month.</p>
Post date: Thursday, October 27, 2011 - 15:20
Path: /college-basketball/2011-college-basketball-preview-syracuse-orange
Body:

Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim will bring one of his most experienced teams into his 36th campaign. The Orange will feature four returning starters along with several reserves who played key roles off the bench last season. In addition, Boeheim has added three standout freshmen, including two McDonald’s All-Americans, into his rotation. It all makes for a tantalizing 2011-12 season — except for one problematic issue: How will Syracuse make up for the loss of starting power forward Rick Jackson?

Other than Connecticut’s Kemba Walker, Jackson meant more to his team’s success last season than any player in the Big East. The powerful 6'9" forward led the Big East in rebounding, blocked shots and field goal percentage. His 35.6 minutes played not only led the Orange, but were an astonishing figure for a 245-pound muscle-man who loved the physical play in the low post. “Ricky meant a lot to us last year, no question,’’ Boeheim says. “We don’t have anyone on this team that’s exactly like him, but we do have options.’’

While Boeheim figures out who replaces Jackson at power forward, he’ll have the luxury of penciling in veterans at every other position. The backcourt of Scoop Jardine and Brandon Triche returns intact. Senior forward Kris Joseph should vie for All-America honors. At center, Boeheim will employ the sophomore tandem of Fab Melo and Baye Moussa Keita, both of whom showed flashes of promise as freshmen.

Key Orange Stat: 6.8
Syracuse averaged a league-high 6.8 blocks in Big East games last season. The Orange, however, must replace Rick Jackson and his league-leading 2.8 blocks per game.

FRONTCOURT
Joseph led the Orange in scoring last year and improved his 3-point shooting from 22.0 percent as a sophomore to 36.6 percent last year. An offseason procedure on his knee should also return some explosiveness to his game. “I think Kris will have a very good senior season,’’ Boeheim says. “He gained a lot of experience as a first-time starter last year.’’

While Joseph fills the role of the prototypical Syracuse forward who knocks down the jumper and slashes to the hoop, he’s not at all like Jackson. Melo and Keita should take huge steps forward, but neither is expected to score as much as Jackson did.

C.J. Fair, who averaged 6.4 points on 54.3 percent shooting, could be an intriguing frontcourt partner for Joseph. Fair is a slender 6'8", 203 pounds, but he has a nose for the ball. James Southerland, a 6'8" junior who possesses extreme range on his 3-point shot, is another option.

Rakeem Christmas, a 6'9" freshman, will factor into the equation at either power forward or center. Christmas lacks polish on offense, but he’s a shot-blocker extraordinaire.

BACKCOURT
Even though both had extensive experience, Jardine and Triche spent last season adjusting to new roles. Triche moved from the point to the off-guard spot, while Jardine went from sixth man to starting at the point.

Jardine led the Big East in assists. He showed the willingness to share the ball and take big shots. However, he was prone to lapses in judgment, and his shooting percentage dipped to 41.5 percent. Much will be expected of Jardine in his second year on the job.

Triche, meanwhile, struggled in his switch from facilitator to scorer. He played passively at times — not what coaches want from their best pure shooter. After a poor start, Triche finished the year averaging 11.1 points and shooting 33.3 percent from 3-point range. Expect both those numbers to improve.

What really sets Syracuse’s backcourt apart is its depth. Dion Waiters is a dynamic offensive player. His upper-body strength gives him the ability to take the ball into traffic and score. Michael Carter-Williams, a McDonald’s All-American, will eventually give Boeheim the big guard he craves for the top of his 2-3 zone defense. Trevor Cooney, another freshman, probably won’t play much this year, but he could be the next Andy Rautins in terms of outside shooting.

FINAL ANALYSIS
While replacing Jackson will be a challenge, there’s just too much talent here to ignore. Boeheim will once again field the kind of team that attracts 30,000-plus crowds to the Carrier Dome — one that wins and plays exciting ball. The potential starting lineup of Jardine, Triche, Joseph, Fair and Melo will stretch opposing defenses. Boeheim will supplement that starting five with the likes of Waiters, Southerland and Keita, as well as the freshmen, Carter-Williams and Christmas. Syracuse will fight for the Big East title and should factor into the national championship conversation.

Big East Predicition: 2nd
NCAA Tournament Prediction: Elite Eight

Teaser:
<p> Kris Joseph leads experienced Orange squad that adds three standout freshmen</p>
Post date: Thursday, October 27, 2011 - 15:18
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-2011-preview-ohio-state
Body:

Everything was in place for the most memorable Ohio State basketball season in half a century until the Sweet 16 left a very bitter taste in the mouths of the Buckeyes and their title-hungry fans. OSU darted out to a 24–0 start, receiving immediate and plentiful contributions from freshmen Jared Sullinger and Aaron Craft, and benefitting from William Buford’s most productive season and record-setting shooting displays by Jon Diebler. The Buckeyes won the Big Ten regular-season and tournament titles, and headed into the NCAA Tournament as the nation’s clear-cut best team. The dream season continued with an eye-popping 7-for-7 effort from deep by beloved senior David Lighty in the round of 32. However, it all came crashing down with a last-second loss to Kentucky in the Sweet 16, a setback that figures to drive the returnees.

In fact, Sullinger passed up top-five draft status to return — “I’ve got a lot more winning to do,” he says — and Buford also put off his pro career after a dreadful shooting night against UK.

Still, the Buckeyes are going to need a major boost from their incoming class to contend once again with Lighty, Diebler and center Dallas Lauderdale having graduated.

Buckeyes Key Stat: 4
In four out of the last six seasons, Ohio State has been either a No. 1 or No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

FRONTCOURT
The possibilities are boundless for Sullinger, an obvious candidate for National Player of the Year honors. Blessed with a powerful lower body, soft hands, natural footwork, court smarts and a résumé filled with victories, he is likely the best low-post option in the country and the main reason why the Buckeyes are capable of going very far once again.

Sullinger is best suited for the 4-spot, and the coaching staff wants to see if freshman Amir Williams can fill the void at center where Lauderdale once stood. “With Amir’s size and defensive presence, I think that he could be a very big factor in what we’re doing defensively,” coach Thad Matta says.

Williams, though, endured an up-and-down prep career. If he’s too raw or inconsistent, look for the staff to lean on Boston College transfer Evan Ravenel, a sturdier albeit less dynamic performer.

Also, the coaches will pair up Sullinger in the frontcourt with Deshaun Thomas for stretches of games. A slick, offensive-minded lefty, Thomas is in line for major playing time if he can hold up to the grind. “His big thing is learning to push through when he gets tired,” Matta says. “Deshaun is a huge key for next year’s team because we know he can put the ball in the basket.”

Youngsters J.D. Weatherspoon and Trey McDonald don’t figure to make the rotation but possess some specialty skills.

BACKCOURT
The Buckeyes advanced to the 2007 national title game with a pair of natural point guards — Mike Conley Jr. and Jamar Butler — playing the majority of the minutes in the backcourt.

This season, newcomer Shannon Scott, son of former NBA point man Charlie Scott, could bring the same dynamic when paired with Craft. Scott’s skill set and readiness to help with the ball-handling duties could allow Craft to put even more energy into his airtight defensive skills — and put more passes right on the money for Buford, one of the top shooters in the Big Ten.

The Buckeyes also can utilize combo guard Lenzelle Smith Jr. and have a pair of big wings in sophomore Jordan Silbert (6'4") and freshman Sam Thompson (6'7"). Silbert could be ready to flourish after a year in the fray. “We want him to be able to knock down open shots but also play with a little bit of a reckless abandon on defense,” Matta says.

FINAL ANALYSIS
This is now a top-10 program, and Matta has reloaded once again. He’s also bolstered the schedule, as trips to Kansas and South Carolina have been added to a visit by Florida and a date with Duke in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.

We’ll know by January if the Buckeyes are again capable of seizing another Big Ten crown and lofty NCAA seed. And even if there is trepidation to that point, Matta is as good as it gets at getting teams to peak in February and thrive in March.

Replacing a versatile swingman and defender like Lighty is nearly impossible. And the departure of the Big Ten’s all-time 3-point shooter — Diebler — also leaves a mark. However, OSU has laid the groundwork for success.

Matta may have as many healthy pieces as he’s ever had, and he knows how to teach unselfish play. In other words, don’t count this team out — of anything.

Big Ten Prediction: 1st
NCAA Tournament Prediction: Final Four

Teaser:
<br />
Post date: Thursday, October 27, 2011 - 15:00
Path: /overtime/sports-pumpkin-carvings-we-thought-wed-never-see
Body:

Back in the day, carving a jack-o-lantern was pretty easy. You cut three triangles, a crooked smile with bad teeth, lit a candle and voila, it was Halloween. Now, it seems that you need a Ph.D in stencil to make your pumpkin stand out in your neighborhood.

Here's a collection of the weirdest and least likely sports-related pumpkins we thought we'd ever see. 

1. Placido Polanco Pumpkin


 

2. Ahman Green Pumpkin


 

3. Manny Acta Pumpkin

4. Rasheed Wallace Pumpkin

5. Jack Nicklaus Pumpkin

6. Knowshon Moreno Jumpin' Pumpkin

7. Mike Lowell MVP Pumpkin

8. Ozzie Guillen Pumpkin

9. Mike Holmgren Pumpkin

10. The Oklahoma City Thunder Pumpkin

11. Stan Musial Pumpkin

12. Yadier Molina Pumpkin (Apparently people in St. Louis like carving pumpkins)


 

Teaser:
<p> Here's a list of the least expected sports-related pumpkin carvings&nbsp;</p>
Post date: Thursday, October 27, 2011 - 12:14
Path: /college-basketball/vanderbilt-commodores-2011-college-basketball-preview
Body:

There was no press conference. No proclamations on Twitter. Nothing fancy. Just a simple press release. On April 20, Vanderbilt sent an email to announce that Festus Ezeli, John Jenkins and Jeffery Taylor would be back in school for the 2011-12 season. The return of the Commodores’ version of the Big Three puts Vanderbilt on a very short list of SEC title contenders and, according to some, in position to play for the sport’s ultimate prize.

“I think they have a team that can contend for the Final Four,” says Georgia coach Mark Fox. “They have a great backcourt, great wing play and terrific shooting. They have an NBA center. There isn’t much missing from Vandy’s team.”

Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings agrees with Fox — “I like how this team is constructed. We have a chance to be pretty good,” he says — but is quick to point out that his team still has one, rather large, hurdle to climb. “The hype and projections need to be kept in check a bit because we have to win an (NCAA) Tournament game before we are going to have the type of year we want to have.”

The Commodores have lost in the first round of the NCAA Tournament as a No. 4 seed (’10) and No. 5 (’11) in the past two seasons.

Key Commodores Stat: 5
The Commodores had a double-digit lead in five of the 11 games they lost last season, including four in the second half.

FRONTCOURT
The unofficial winner of the 2010-11 Most Improved Player award in college basketball, Ezeli emerged as a force on the low block in his first season as a starter. His averages improved from 3.8 points and 3.2 rebounds as a sophomore to 13.0 and 6.3 as a junior — in only 23.5 minutes per game. His biggest gains came at the foul line, where he a jumped from a dreadful .373 to a respectable .648. The Nigerian-born big man is one more solid season away from the NBA Lottery.

Power forward Lance Goulbourne teased Commodore fans by playing the best basketball of his career last January before going down with an ankle injury in a home loss to Arkansas. He played through the injury but didn’t regain his bounce until late February. Goulbourne is capable of averaging a double-double.

The Commodores have more options off the bench this season. Steve Tchiengang, a rugged senior whose shooting range extends beyond the 3-point line, played most of his minutes as a backup center last year but has also logged considerable time at power forward. Tchiengang might get more of his minutes at the 4 if redshirt freshman Josh Henderson proves to be a capable backup to Ezeli at center. Rod Odom, a slender power forward, provided sporadic quality minutes as a freshman and was a better-than-expected outside shooter. Stallings would like to see him score more points around the basket as a sophomore.

BACKCOURT
Jenkins enters his junior season as one of the premier scorers in the nation. He led the SEC with a 19.5-point average, thanks in large part to his ability to get to the free throw line — almost one-quarter of his 624 points came from the stripe. Ball-handling and perimeter defense were his two areas of emphasis over the summer. Jenkins will be flanked on the wing by Taylor, a dynamic athlete who struggles with consistency. Consider the following: Taylor averaged 20.7 points in Vanderbilt’s three SEC Tournament games, but scored only four points (on 1-of-10 shooting) in the NCAA Tournament loss to Richmond.

After spending his first two seasons as the starting 2-guard, Brad Tinsley slid over to the point last year. He did a solid job running the team, and he regained his 3-point stroke after shooting .295 as a sophomore, but he has trouble on the defensive end of the floor.

Tinsley will be pushed by freshman Kedren Johnson, a big, physical point guard who is regarded as an outstanding passer and a streaky 3-point shooter. Freshman Dai-Jon Parker is a highly skilled combo guard who will play right away due to his ability to defend on the perimeter, a long-time Vanderbilt weakness.

FINAL ANALYSIS
Vanderbilt is a veteran team that features three potential first-round draft picks. Some are calling it the most talented team in school history. Talent alone, however, doesn’t win games in the NCAA Tournament. To emerge as a legitimate Final Four threat, the Commodores must improve on the defensive end and shed some of the mental baggage that has plagued this group in recent postseasons.

“I’ve liked this team for a long time,” Stallings says. “If everybody accepts their roles and we get some solid leadership, then I think all the hype will be justified.”

SEC Prediction: 2nd
NCAA Tournament Prediction: Elite Eight

Teaser:
<p> John Jenkins leads experienced, talented Commodores team hoping to make deep NCAA Tournament run</p>
Post date: Thursday, October 27, 2011 - 09:00
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy football rankings, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /columns/winning-game-plan/fantasy-football-rankings-week-8
Body:

We 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. Click here for all of our fantasy football rankings each week.

These rankings are our suggestions, but of course as always: You are responsible for setting your own lineup.

Teams on bye this week: Atlanta, Chicago, Green Bay, New York Jets, Oakland, Tampa Bay

2011 NFL Week 8 Fantasy Football Rankings

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

Athlon Sports Week 8 Waiver Wire

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> Athlon Sports ranks all the positions to help get your fantasy team ready for Week 8.</p>
Post date: Thursday, October 27, 2011 - 07:08
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-2011-preview-connecticut-huskies
Body:

Expectations remain the same as previous seasons for the defending national champion UConn Huskies. “To make the NCAA Tournament and go as deep as we can,” coach Jim Calhoun says. “That’s exactly what I said last year. Actually, we went pretty deep. Two years ago, when we didn’t make the (NCAA) Tournament, we really had the same expectations.” UConn surprised the college basketball world with its improbable run, winning an unprecedented five games in five days to capture the Big East Tournament championship and then claiming the program’s third national championship. But All-American Kemba Walker — the heart, soul and pulse of the Huskies — has moved on to the NBA, leaving a major void.

Plenty of talent remains, including rising star Jeremy Lamb and All-Big East candidate Alex Oriakhi, the team’s only upperclassman. Elite big man Andre Drummond, who made a surprise decision in late August by opting to attend UConn instead of prep school, is one of three impact freshmen.. “We know we lost a great player in Kemba,” Calhoun says. “But we’ve lost other great players. And we have some good young players coming back.”

Huskies Key Stat: 11
Alex Oriakhi had 11 games with double-figure points and rebounds last season. UConn went 10-1 in those games.

FRONTCOURT
UConn’s frontcourt situation vastly improved with the arrival of Drummond, an athletic 6'10", 275-pound center with enormous potential. He’ll serve as an anchor up front.

Oriakhi, who averaged 9.6 points, 8.7 rebounds and 1.6 blocks as a sophomore, had monster games last season — but mediocre ones, too. More consistency is needed in his game.

“When Alex was assertive inside, we were a different basketball team,” Calhoun says. “He had games he was just incredibly impressive. So we need more of that.”

The remaining frontcourt cast is dominated by underclassmen. Versatile sophomore Roscoe Smith, who started 33 games last year, has impressed Calhoun with his work ethic and will play an increased role. Sophomore Tyler Olander has a nice shooting touch and added muscle but has to work on the toughness needed to battle inside in the rugged Big East.

Swingman Niels Giffey should benefit from his time on the German national team over the summer. Unproven big men Enosch Wolf and Michael Bradley, a 6'10" redshirt freshman, will be counted on to contribute. Wolf, a 7'1", 260-pound center, appeared in only seven games last season after joining the team in late December.

UConn scored a recruiting coup when it signed talented forward DeAndre Daniels, who’ll be plugged into the rotation.

BACKCOURT
Even with the departure of Walker, the team’s leading scorer, Calhoun is excited about his pool of skilled perimeter players. “We’re as good as anybody on the perimeter,” Calhoun says.

Lamb, an All-Big East rookie team selection, had a sensational ending to a solid freshman season. He averaged 16.2 points and shot 58 percent from the field in the NCAA Tournament and then led Team USA in scoring (16.2 ppg) at the U19 World Championship over the summer.

“He’s going to be one of the best players in the Big East and one of the best scorers in the country,” Calhoun says.

Shabazz Napier — an All-Big East rookie team pick who appeared in all 41 games off the bench last season — is ready to take over the starting point guard duties, be a defensive pest and add scoring punch.

One of three true freshmen, lightning-quick 6'0" guard Ryan Boatright has a reputation as a scorer and terrific passer. He should fit nicely into UConn’s up-tempo system.

FINAL ANALYSIS
Calhoun spent the offseason contemplating retirement, but the Hall of Fame coach elected to return for his 26th season at UConn. This underclassman-dominated group will rely heavily on Calhoun’s guidance to handle the pressure of playing as the defending national champion. Calhoun will miss the first three Big East games, serving an NCAA suspension.

Replacing Walker won’t be easy. It will take more than one player to make up for his leadership and star power. Expect an adjustment period.

“We’re pretty skilled,” Calhoun says. “I like our development. We have questions of muscle and questions of leadership. When a guy has the greatest season in the history of the University, how do we adapt? Not necessarily replace him, because that’s not going to happen.”

Big East Predicition: 1st
NCAA Tournament Prediction: Final Four

Teaser:
<p> Can Jeremy Lamb lead a young Huskies team back to the Final Four?</p>
Post date: Thursday, October 27, 2011 - 07:04
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy football rankings, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /columns/winning-game-plan/fantasy-football-quarterback-rankings-week-8
Body:

We 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. Click here for all of our fantasy football rankings each week.

These rankings are our suggestions, but of course as always: You are responsible for setting your own lineup.

2011 NFL Week 8 — Quarterback Rankings

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

Athlon Sports Week 8 Waiver Wire

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system

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

Teams on bye this week: Atlanta, Chicago, Green Bay, New York Jets, Oakland, Tampa Bay

Rk Player Team OPPONENT
1 Drew Brees NO at STL
2 Tom Brady NE at PIT
3 Michael Vick PHI vs. DAL
4 Cam Newton CAR vs. MIN
5 Tony Romo DAL at PHI
6 Ben Roethlisberger PIT vs. NE
7 Eli Manning NYG vs. MIA
8 Matt Schaub HOU vs. JAC
9 Matthew Stafford DET at DEN
10 Philip Rivers SD at KC
11 Joe Flacco BAL vs. ARI
12 Tim Tebow DEN vs. DET
13 Matt Hasselbeck TEN vs. IND
14 Ryan Fitzpatrick BUF vs. WAS (in Toronto)
15 Andy Dalton CIN at SEA
16 Alex Smith SF vs. CLE
17 Colt McCoy CLE at SF
18 Matt Cassel KC vs. SD
19 John Beck WAS at BUF (in Toronto)
20 Kevin Kolb ARI at BAL
21 Curtis Painter IND at TEN
22 Christian Ponder MIN at CAR
23 Tarvaris Jackson SEA vs. CIN
24 Blaine Gabbert JAC at HOU
25 Matt Moore MIA at NYG
26 A.J. Feeley STL vs. NO
Teaser:
<br />
Post date: Thursday, October 27, 2011 - 06:25
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy football rankings, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /columns/winning-game-plan/fantasy-football-kicker-rankings-week-8
Body:

We 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. Click here for all of our fantasy football rankings each week.

These rankings are our suggestions, but of course as always: You are responsible for setting your own lineup.

2011 NFL Week 8 — Kicker Rankings

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

Athlon Sports Week 8 Waiver Wire

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

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

Teams on bye this week: Atlanta, Chicago, Green Bay, New York Jets, Oakland, Tampa Bay

Rk Player Team OPPONENT
1 Jason Hanson DET at DEN
2 John Kasay NO at STL
3 Billy Cundiff BAL vs. ARI
4 Dan Bailey DAL at PHI
5 David Akers SF vs. CLE
6 Neil Rackers HOU vs. JAC
7 Nick Novak SD at KC
8 Stephen Gostkowski NE at PIT
9 Olindo Mare CAR vs. MIN
10 Josh Scobee JAC at HOU
11 Alex Henery PHI vs. DAL
12 Mike Nugent CIN at SEA
13 Rian Lindell BUF vs. WAS (in Toronto)
14 Lawrence Tynes NYG vs. MIA
15 Rob Bironas TEN vs. IND
16 Ryan Longwell MIN at CAR
Teaser:
<br />
Post date: Thursday, October 27, 2011 - 05:53
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy football rankings, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /columns/winning-game-plan/fantasy-football-wide-receiver-rankings-week-8
Body:

We 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. Click here for all of our fantasy football rankings each week.

These rankings are our suggestions, but of course as always: You are responsible for setting your own lineup.

2011 NFL Week 8 — Wide Receiver Rankings

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

Athlon Sports Week 8 Waiver Wire

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system

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

Teams on bye this week: Atlanta, Chicago, Green Bay, New York Jets, Oakland, Tampa Bay

Rk Player Team OPPONENT
1 Calvin Johnson DET at DEN
2 Mike Wallace PIT vs. NE
3 Wes Welker NE at PIT
4 Hakeem Nicks NYG vs. MIA
5 Steve Smith CAR vs. MIN
6 Marques Colston NO at STL
7 Andre Johnson HOU vs. JAC
8 Dwayne Bowe KC vs. SD
9 Larry Fitzgerald ARI at BAL
10 Vincent Jackson SD at KC
11 Miles Austin DAL at PHI
12 A.J. Green CIN at SEA
13 Dez Bryant DAL at PHI
14 DeSean Jackson PHI vs. DAL
15 Brandon Marshall MIA at NYG
16 Steve Johnson BUF vs. WAS (in Toronto)
17 Jeremy Maclin PHI vs. DAL
18 Anquan Boldin BAL vs. ARI
19 Brandon Lloyd STL vs. NO
20 Pierre Garcon IND at TEN
21 Mario Manningham NYG vs. MIA
22 Sidney Rice SEA vs. CIN
23 Deion Branch NE at PIT
24 Nate Washington TEN vs. IND
25 Eric Decker DEN vs. DET
26 Reggie Wayne IND at TEN
27 Jabar Gafney WAS at BUF (in Toronto)
28 Greg Little CLE at SF
29 Michael Crabtree SF vs. CLE
30 Victor Cruz NYG vs. MIA
31 David Nelson BUF vs. WAS (in Toronto)
32 Michael Jenkins MIN at CAR
33 Antonio Brown PIT vs. NE
34 Steve Breaston KC vs. SD
35 Percy Harvin MIN at CAR
36 Mike Thomas JAC at HOU
37 Lance Moore NO at STL
38 Davone Bess MIA at NYG
39 Robert Meachem NO at STL
40 Torrey Smith BAL vs. ARI
41 Demaryius Thomas DEN vs. DET
42 Jerome Simpson CIN at SEA
43 Jason Hill JAC at HOU
44 Braylon Edwards SF vs. CLE
45 Kevin Walter HOU at TEN
46 Jacoby Jones HOU at TEN
47 Doug Baldwin SEA vs. CIN
48 Devery Henderson NO at STL
49 Early Doucet ARI at PIT
50 Malcom Floyd SD at KC
51 Hines Ward PIT vs. NE
52 Titus Young DET at DEN
53 Nate Burleson DET at DEN
54 Anthony Armstrong WAS at BUF (in Toronto)
55 Eddie Royal DEN vs. DET
56 Jason Avant PHI vs. DAL
57 Mohamed Massaquoi CLE at SF
58 Danario Alexander STL vs. NO
59 Brandon Gibson STL vs. NO
60 Emmanuel Sanders PIT vs. NE
61 Brandon LaFell CAR vs. MIN
62 Ben Obomanu SEA vs. CIN
63 Damian Williams TEN vs. IND
64 Patrick Crayton SD at KC
Teaser:
<br />
Post date: Thursday, October 27, 2011 - 05:25
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy football rankings, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /columns/winning-game-plan/fantasy-football-defensespecial-teams-rankings-week-8
Body:

We 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. Click here for all of our fantasy football rankings each week.

These rankings are our suggestions, but of course as always: You are responsible for setting your own lineup.

2011 NFL Week 8 — Defense/Special Teams Rankings

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

Athlon Sports Week 8 Waiver Wire

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

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

Teams on bye this week: Atlanta, Chicago, Green Bay, New York Jets, Oakland, Tampa Bay

Rk Player OPPONENT
1 Baltimore Ravens vs. ARI
2 New York Giants vs. MIA
3 San Francisco 49ers vs. CLE
4 Cincinnati Bengals at SEA
5 New Orleans Saints at STL
6 Detroit Lions at DEN
7 Houston Texans vs. JAC
8 Tennessee Titans vs. IND
9 Dallas Cowboys at PHI
10 Philadelphia Eagles vs. DAL
11 Buffalo Bills vs. WAS (in Toronto)
12 San Diego Chargers at KC
13 Cleveland Browns at SF
14 Seattle Seahawks vs. CIN
15 Pittsburgh Steelers vs. NE
16 Washington Redksins at BUF (in Toronto)

Teaser:
Post date: Thursday, October 27, 2011 - 05:03
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy football rankings, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /columns/winning-game-plan/fantasy-football-running-back-rankings-week-8
Body:

We 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. Click here for all of our fantasy football rankings each week.

These rankings are our suggestions, but of course as always: You are responsible for setting your own lineup.

2011 NFL Week 8 — Running Back Rankings

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

Athlon Sports Week 8 Waiver Wire

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system

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

Teams on bye this week: Atlanta, Chicago, Green Bay, New York Jets, Oakland, Tampa Bay

Rk Player Team OPPONENT
1 Adrian Peterson MIN at CAR
2 Arian Foster HOU vs. JAC
3 Ray Rice BAL vs. ARI
4 Fred Jackson BUF vs. WAS (in Toronto)
5 LeSean McCoy PHI vs. DAL
6 Frank Gore SF vs. CLE
7 Maurice Jones-Drew JAC at HOU
8 Ahmad Bradshaw NYG vs. MIA
9 Ryan Mathews SD at KC
10 Chris Johnson TEN vs. IND
11 Rashard Mendenhall PIT vs. NE
12 Darren Sproles NO at STL
13 DeMarco Murray DAL at PHI
14 Steven Jackson STL vs. NO
15 Ryan Torain WAS at BUF (in Toronto)
16 BenJarvus Green-Ellis NE at PIT
17 Daniel Thomas MIA at NYG
18 Jackie Battle KC vs. SD
19 Montario Hardesty CLE at SF
20 Marshawn Lynch SEA vs. CIN
21 Bernard Scott CIN at SEA
22 Mark Ingram NO at STL
23 Knowshon Moreno DEN vs. DET
24 Delone Carter IND at TEN
25 Mike Tolbert SD at KC
26 Jonathan Stewart CAR vs. MIN
27 Pierre Thomas NO at STL
28 DeAngelo Williams CAR vs. MIN
29 Maurice Morris DET at DEN
30 Peyton Hillis CLE at SF
31 Roy Helu WAS at BUF (in Toronto)
32 Alphonso Smith ARI at BAL
33 Ben Tate HOU vs. JAC
34 Brandon Jacobs NYG vs. MIA
35 Leon Washington SEA vs. CIN
36 Donald Brown IND at TEN
37 Reggie Bush MIA at NYG
38 Keiland Williams DET at DEN
39 Brian Leonard CIN at SEA
40 Lance Ball DEN vs. DET
41 Stevan Ridley NE at PIT
42 Justin Forsett SEA vs. CIN
43 Ricky Williams BAL vs. ARI
44 Thomas Jones KC vs. SD
45 Kendall Hunter SF vs. CLE
46 Joseph Addai IND at TEN
47 Tashard Choice DAL vs. PHI
48 Isaac Redman PIT vs. NE
Teaser:
<br />
Post date: Thursday, October 27, 2011 - 05:01
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy football rankings, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /columns/winning-game-plan/fantasy-football-tight-end-rankings-week-8
Body:

We 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. Click here for all of our fantasy football rankings each week.

These rankings are our suggestions, but of course as always: You are responsible for setting your own lineup.

2011 NFL Week 8 — Tight End Rankings

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

Athlon Sports Week 8 Waiver Wire

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system

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

Teams on bye this week: Atlanta, Chicago, Green Bay, New York Jets, Oakland, Tampa Bay

Rk Player Team OPPONENT
1 Jimmy Graham NO at STL
2 Jason Witten DAL at PHI
3 Owen Daniels HOU vs. JAC
4 Antonio Gates SD at KC
5 Fred Davis WAS at BUF (in Toronto)
6 Aaron Hernandez NE at PIT
7 Rob Gronkowski NE at PIT
8 Vernon Davis SF vs. CLE
9 Brandon Pettigrew DET at DEN
10 Jermaine Gresham CIN at SEA
11 Greg Olsen CAR vs. MIN
12 Dallas Clark IND at TEN
13 Ed Dickson BAL vs. ARI
14 Jake Ballard NYG vs. MIA
15 Jared Cook TEN vs. IND
16 Heath Miller PIT vs. NE
17 Daniel Fells DEN vs. DET
18 Marcedes Lewis JAC at HOU
19 Visanthe Shiancoe MIN at CAR
20 Jeremy Shockey CAR vs. MIN
21 Brent Celek PHI vs. DAL
22 Lance Kendricks STL vs. NO
23 Evan Moore CLE at SF
24 Scott Chandler BUF vs. WAS (in Toronto)
25 Anthony Fasano MIA at NYG
26 Randy McMichael SD at KC
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Post date: Thursday, October 27, 2011 - 04:54
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ARLINGTON, Texas — If legends are truly born in October, then the name of Texas Rangers catcher Mike Napoli could be added to Lone Star State lore right alongside Daniel Boone, Sam Houston and Nolan Ryan.

It’s Napoli who is making a name for himself not only among Ranger fans, but throughout baseball with his clutch performances at the plate with the bat, and behind the plate with his throwing arm after the Rangers’ victories in games 4 and 5 of the World Series to take a commanding 3-2 series lead over the St. Louis Cardinals.

Now that Game 6 of the World Series has been postponed until Thursday due to rain, the Rangers’ faithful will have another 24 hours to enjoy being on the cusp of the team’s first-ever World Series championship in the team’s 40-year history.

As the 51,000-plus fans packed inside Rangers Ballpark in Arlington for Game 5 chanted “Nap-oh-lee” in unison, the Texas catcher added to his new nickname, “Nap-tober” by coming up big with the bases loaded in the bottom of the eight inning.

With the game hanging in the balance tied at 2-2, Napoli stroked a belt-high slider from Cardinals left-handed reliever Marc Rzepczynski into the gap in right-center field, scoring the winning runs in a 4-2 Texas victory. Napoli helped preserve that two-run lead in the top of the ninth when he threw out St. Louis outfielder Allen Craig at second base on a failed hit-and-run with slugger Albert Pujols at the plate.

Almost 24 hours earlier, Napoli provided the late-game heroics once again with a three-run homer in the bottom of the sixth off reliever Mitchell Boggs that broke a 1-0 game open. Texas went on to win Game 4 by the score of 4-0.

But in both Rangers’ victories, Napoli’s efforts were overshadowed. In Game 4, it was Texas pitcher Derek Holland’s masterful complete game two-hitter that took centerstage. The next night, Napoli’s game-winning double was a footnote to the bullpen phone antics of Cardinals manager Tony La Russa.

If the Rangers go on to win the World Series in either six or seven games, all indicators point to Napoli earning MVP honors.

“You want to be in those situations and do everything you can to help the team win,” Napoli said in his post-game press conference. “When those opportunities come up I am ready to go, and I want to run to the box to go hit.”

A World Series championship and an MVP trophy will be the final chapter in a storybook season for Napoli, who is hitting .314 this postseason with three home runs and 14 RBI, nine coming in the World Series. Napoli’s post-season prowess comes after the best regular season performance of his career.

He hit 30 home runs with 75 RBI and a .320 average for the Rangers this season, and had hit for 20 home runs or more the past four seasons. Napoli’s best season prior to 2011 came in 2008, when he batted .273 in 78 games with the Anaheim Angels.

Napoli would be the clean-up hitter or No. 5 batter in most major league lineups. For the Rangers, he bats either seventh or eighth — a testament to the powerful punch Texas manager Ron Washington can deploy each night on his lineup card.
And as far as what it is like to have 51,000 fans screaming your last name while you are at the plate, Napoli had just one simple response.

“It don’t get any better than that,” he said.

Well, it could, only if those same fans were to chant his name in unison during a World Series parade through the streets of Arlington.

By Rick Rogers
 

Teaser:
<p> If legends are truly born in October, then the name of Texas Rangers catcher Mike Napoli could be added to Lone Star State lore right alongside Daniel Boone, Sam Houston and Nolan Ryan.</p>
Post date: Wednesday, October 26, 2011 - 19:45

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