Articles By Athlon Sports

All taxonomy terms: Al Davis, Oakland Raiders, News
Path: /news/al-davis-raiders-owner-dies-age-82
Body:

Al Davis, the always controversial and enigmatic owner of the Oakland Raiders passed away today, October 8th, 2011.

The cause of death is currently unknown, but the team site says they will issue a statement later today with more information.

Davis, who has been highly criticized in recent decades for making seemingly poor football decisions, was 82 years old. And while the Raiders had struggled in recent years, it should not be forgotten that his "Just Win, Baby" mantra in the 70s turned the Raiders into a very successful franchise. And even though he has taken a lot of flack in recent years, the Raiders have exceeded expectations this season and have one of the more exciting offenses in the NFL.

In his 48 years as owner of the Raiders, Oakland won 3 Super Bowl championships (Super Bowls XI, XV and XVIII) and had 28 winning seasons. Davis was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1992. Loved him or hated him, you had to admit that he always wanted the best for the Oakland Raiders. He was George Steinbrenner before there was George Steinbrenner.

He was known for feuding with players and coaches and had a penchant for being an owner who made decisions that would override those of his coaching staff and GMs.

His death marks a very big turning point for not only the Raiders team, but for the league as well. With Davis at the helm and making unconventional decisions (like paying Nnamdi Asomugha much more than the market would have), the Raiders have had a ripple effect on the league. 

It is unclear who will take over control of the Oakland Raiders, but much more information should be forthcoming. Davis has suffered from ill-health for a while.

Earlier this year, Al Michaels said that the Raiders would never win a Super Bowl as long as Al Davis was still alive and running the Raiders.  We're guessing he feels a little bad for saying that now.

It will also be interesting to see how the Black Hole, the Raiders rabid and often insane fan base shows their support for Davis this weekend.

Teaser:
<p> The controversial and enigmatic Oakland Raiders owner passes away</p>
Post date: Saturday, October 8, 2011 - 10:41
Path: /news/texas-longhorns-oklahoma-sooners-rivalry-funny-pictures
Body:

The Texas Longhorns and Oklahoma Sooners have a long and storied rivalry. And today they renew that rivalry on the football field. So, we thought we'd let them battle it out in photos and post some of the best images of signs and insults through the years. Because at the end of the day, everyone wins when someone spends the time to create a sign or shirt that mocks a bitter rival. Isn't that really what college football is all about?

While the Sooners are expected to win handily, rivalry games are much harder to predict on paper. Click here to see our complete prediction for the Oklahoma Texas game. And scroll down to enjoy some good, old fashioned fan rivalry below.

Teaser:
<p> The Longhorns and Sooners battle it out on the football field today. Here, they battle it out in photos</p>
Post date: Saturday, October 8, 2011 - 09:50
Path: /news/vincent-jackson-hamstring-expected-play-should-dominate
Body:

Vincent Jackson is a must play every week he's in the lineup. But you probably knew that.

This week, Jackson, who's been struggling with a hamstring and strained abdomen issues for the last few weeks, should be good to go, but his match-up against the Broncos' Champ Bailey has some owners worried. 

They shouldn't be.

V-Jax participated in all of San Diego's Friday practice and drills and looks like he will be on the field Sunday against the Broncos.

Normally, a match-up against the Broncos' top corner Champ Bailey would cause owners to downgrade a wide receiver. Bailey has a history of shutting down top wideouts, but he's coming off a hamstring injury of his own. Bailey hasn't played since the first week of the season and should be rusty trying to guard Jackson, one of the top receivers in football.

So if a shutdown corner and a star wide receiver both have hamstring issues, who wins? The smart money is on the wide receiver.

Last week Jackson played 22 snaps through pain and managed to post 108 yards and a touchdown on three receptions. And Norv Turner expects Vincent to play at least that many. Which means he'll probably be on the field for even more snaps this week than he was last week.

Vincent has at least been on the field for every game of the season. There's no way Champ will be himself and he'll have to shake off the rust of missing a month against one of the best receivers in the game, who's got one of the hottest quarterbacks throwing to him in a pass-first offense. That's a tall order for even Champ Bailey, who, it should be noted is 33 this season. His body won't bounce back the way it has in the past. 

Will Champ be a little more hesitant than usual concerning his hamstring injury. Probably. And that's why I think Vincent Jackson will perform better than most fantasy football pundits think he will this week.

It should also be noted that the Chargers will be without Philip Rivers go-to-third down option Antonio Gates, leaving that many more targets on the table for Vincent. The only concern is that the Broncos anemic offense won't produce enough points the keep the Chargers throwing. But San Diego throws so much, that that should be too much of a worry.

Make sure you check the inactive lists on Sunday, but you can almost assuredly put Vincent Jackson in your lineup and not worry about him. He should play more snaps than last week and post solid numbers against a rusty and hesitant Champ Bailey.

Teaser:
<p> The Chargers wide receiver will perform much better than expected against the Denver Broncos</p>
Post date: Saturday, October 8, 2011 - 09:08
All taxonomy terms: Arizona Cardinals, Beanie Wells, NFC West, News
Path: /news/beanie-wells-hamstring-questionable-should-play-sunday
Body:

Beanie Wells has been a fantasy football star this season. When's he's in the lineup, that is.

While Beanie has performed much better expected than his position this season (he's averaging over 5 yards a carry and has found the end zone five times in three games), he's also been a headache for his owners.

Two weeks ago, when the Arizona Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt had said all week that Beanie, who had tweaked a hamstring, was going to play. Then Sunday afternoon came around (Arizona was playing a late-afternoon game) and Beanie owners were scrambling to put in a back-up when news broke that he was sitting.

Then the same thing happened last week, with a much different result. All week, Beanie owners were wondering if he was going to play. Everything looked good, but they'd heard that before only to have to sit him. 

Well, Beanie played last week and hung 138 yards and three touchdowns on the Giants.

And the rollercoaster ride continues this week, with the Cardinals officially listing Beanie as "Questionable", but it seems like all signs point to him playing. He has shown no ill effects this week and has missed no practice. And there have been no whispers that he is feeling anything other than good after his career day last week.

Our guess is that the Cards are just calling him questionable as a precautionary measure, given his history. It's still unclear (from a locker room standpoint) if it was a good decision for Beanie to take himself out of the game a couple weeks ago. But he went a long way in proving himself to his teammates with his performance against the Giants.

Will Beanie hang another 100+ yard and multi-TD game against a much better Minnesota run defense? Probably not, but Beanie is proving himself a must play this season when he's in the lineup.

Make sure you keep an eye on the inactive lists that come out Sunday at 10:30 eastern--thankfully the Cardinals are playing an early game at the Vikings. But it looks like all systems are go for Beanie in week 5.

Update, Oct 9, 7:46 am: Beanie has said that his hamstring is "99% normal." We'll take a chance that the 1% won't derail him. Get him in your lineups.

Teaser:
<p> The Cardinals running back is listed as questionable, but has shown no ill effects at practice this week</p>
Post date: Saturday, October 8, 2011 - 08:07
Path: /mlb/new-york-yankees-turn-focus-next-season
Body:

— by Mark Ross

In 2009, the New York Yankees won their 27th World Series title, far and away the most of any major league baseball franchise. They have returned to the postseason the past two years, this season as the top seed in the American League by posting the second-most (97) wins in all of baseball.

But following last night's 3-2 ALDS Game 5 loss to the Detroit Tigers in Yankees Stadium, the team with the highest payroll in the game is left to ponder an early postseason exit for the second year in a row.

While most teams would love to make the playoffs three years in a row, let alone be just two years removed from winning the World Series, this is the Yankees we're talking about where success is measured by one thing — championships.

Look no further than what team president Randy Levine told ESPNNewYork.com earlier today, "We are the Yankees... When you don't win the World Series, it is a bitter disappointment and not a successful year." So with this season already labeled a failure, the focus now shifts to next season and what will the 2012 Yankees look like.

Starting at the top, general manager Brian Cashman is in the final year of his contract. Cashman has been the Yankees' GM since 1998, overseeing four championship teams during his tenure. However, he's also had to weather a fair amount of criticism and take the brunt of the blame when the team has fallen short of its expected goal, such as this year.

It remains to be seen if Levine and the other team executives think it's time for a change in the front office or not, although it should be pointed out that Levine has expressed his desire to re-sign Cashman. Complicating things is the fact that Cashman's name has already been suggested and bandied about for other GM jobs that are open or could come open, most notably the one belonging to the Chicago Cubs.

No matter what happens in the front office, it certainly appears that manager Joe Girardi will be back in 2012. Girardi, who just finished his fourth season as the Yankees' skipper, has a 384-264 record in the regular-season and a 18-10 mark in the postseason. His Yankees team have participated in the past three postseasons, highlighted by the World Series title in 2009. Girardi is signed through the 2013 season and there don't appear to be any signs that a change in the dugout is forthcoming.

As for the product on the field, the Yankees entered the 2011 season with a team payroll of more than $200 million, the highest in the league. The next highest payroll belongs to the Philadelphia Phillies, whose players' salaries totaled around $30 million less than that of the Yankees.

A high team payroll is nothing new for the Yankees and despite another early postseason exit it's not going to change next year. The Yankees currently have more than $150 million committed in salary for the 2012 season, thanks to the lucrative, long-termed contracts belonging to the likes of Alex Rodriguez, C.C. Sabathia, Mark Teixeira, A.J. Burnett, Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera.

In fact, these six players alone account for more than $108 million in salary, which is more than the entire payrolls for all but nine TEAMS this past season, according to figures provided by USA Today.

To be fair, Teixeira (.248, 39 HR, 111 RBI), Jeter (.302, 84 R, 61 RBI) and Rivera (1.91 ERA, 44 saves) did their part all season, while the same can not be said for the oft-injured Rodriguez (.276, 16 HR, 62 RBI in just 99 games) and erratic Burnett (11-11,. 5.15 ERA). And then there's Sabathia.

The left-hander had a fine regular season (19-8, 3.00 ERA, 230 Ks in 237 1/3 innings), but he was ineffective in the postseason (6.23 ERA in the ALDS) for the second straight season. What's more, Sabathia, who signed a seven-year, $161-million contract with the Yankees in December 2008, has an opt out clause that if exercised, would make him a free agent this offseason.

While it seems highly unlikely that he would walk away from a guaranteed $92 million over the next four years, Sabathia, who turned 31 this season, may be viewing this as his final opportunity to sign a substantial contract. If he does opt out, there's no reason not to think that the Yankees would do everything they can to re-sign him, but outside of Texas Rangers' left-hander C.J. Wilson, there's not a lot of marquee pitchers among this offseason's potential free agent crop. So if the Yankees do end up re-signing Sabathia, he certainly won't come cheap.

Outside of Sabathia becoming a potential free agent, the only other significant free agent on the Yankees' current roster is Jorge Posada. Early indications are this is the end of Posada's career in pinstripes as the 40-year-old hit just .235 with 14 home runs and 44 RBI in 344 at bats and played a grand total of 16 games in the field, 14 of those coming at first base.

Posada's catching days are long past him as Russell Martin became the starting backstop this season and the Yankees have Teixeira entrenched at first and don't lack for DH options. They also have Jesus Montero, the organization's top hitting prospect, waiting in the wings. Montero, who will turn 22 in November, hit .328 in limited action after being called up in September and figures to be the Yankees' primary DH headed into next season, while spelling Martin behind the plate on occasion.

The infield for next season is already set with Rodriguez (3rd), Jeter (ss), Teixeira (1st) and Robinson Cano (2b). Cano is arguably the Yankees' best all-around player, which is saying something on this star-studded roster. Cano has hit .302 or better the past three seasons and averaged 103 runs, 27 home runs and 104 RBI during the same span. He also has totaled six home runs and 15 RBI while batting .333 the past two postseasons.

Cano, who will turn 29 in November, made $10 million this season and has a $14 million club option for next season and a $15 million club option in 2013. Considering Jeter, who will turn 38 next June, and Rodriguez, 37 next July, will be paid a collective $92 million the next two seasons, it's safe to assume that Cano isn't going anywhere in the immediate future.

Despite the offensive numbers that Cano and Teixeira each put up this season, the best season at the plate by a Yankee came from center fielder Curtis Granderson. In his second season in pinstripes, Granderson led the majors in runs (136), was second in home runs (41), third in RBI (119) and also stole 25 bases. The 30-year-old is one of the top candidates for AL MVP and even if he doesn't win, a top-five finish in the voting seems all but certain, which would raise his 2013 club option from $13 to $15 million.

Granderson should be joined in the outfield next season by Brett Gardner, who for the second straight season showed he can be a productive everyday player. Gardner batted .259 with 87 runs scored and tied for second in the majors with 49 stolen bases this season. The 28-year-old Gardner is arbitration-eligible and positioned for a significant raise from his roughly $500,000 salary this season.

The biggest question related to the outfield is who will round out the starting trio? Nick Swisher has given the Yankees three steady, consistent years at the plate and in the field and has a $10.25 club option for next season. The Yankees may choose to decline the option on Swisher, who will turn 31 in November, and look to free agency for his replacement.

The Yankees may also look to get younger on their bench as both Eric Chavez (turns 34 in December) and Andruw Jones (35 next April) are free agents. With Jeter and Rodriguez getting older, the need to find younger, productive bench players becomes even more important so Girardi can give his veterans the rest they need throughout the season.

Whatever the Yankees' decision-makers decide do in the outfield and with their bench, it doesn't look like they will be joining in the sweepstakes for either of the marquee free agents that will be out there this winter — Albert Pujols or Prince Fielder. As has already been mentioned, the Yankees are set at first with Teixeira and, even though they can afford it, don't need another high-priced DH.

Besides, if the Yankees are going to spend any significant amount of money this offseason it's going to be where it's needed most — pitching. If Sabathia does choose to opt out of his contract, re-signing him will be become their no. 1 priority. Outside of that, there figures to be a lot of turnover on the pitching staff.

Sabathia was far and away the Yankees' best starting pitcher, which only further reinforces the amount of leverage he holds as he decides whether to opt out or not. Burnett for whatever reason  just hasn't been able to put it all together during this three seasons in pinstripes. Even though he's owed $33 million the next two seasons, the Yankees may even explore trading him to someone else just to be rid of him.

If that happens, at best the Yankees will have to eat a significant amount of his contract or what's more likely, take back another bad contract/team's headache (the Cubs' Carlos Zambrano perhaps?) in the process.

To give a better assessment of the state of the Yankees' starting pitching, look no further than the fact that if not for a 24-year-old rookie and two under-the-radar free agent signees, there's a chance they may not have even made the postseason.

Should Sabathia opt out and the Yankees are unable to re-sign him, at least they have Ivan Nova. The rookie from the Dominican Republic made 27 starts this season, finishing second on the team with 16 wins. A strong candidate to win AL Rookie of the Year honors, Nova figures to be a key piece to the Yankees' rotation for years to come.

After Nova, the next biggest surprise regarding the Yankees' rotation was the performances of Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia. Signed to minor-league contracts in January and February respectively, the duo worked their way into the starting rotation and combined to make 51 starts with 311 innings pitched, 20 wins and a 3.82 ERA. While they may not have been spectacular, the 38-year-old Colon and 35-year-old Garcia were reliable and certainly justified their collective $2.4 million salary.

The only other Yankees' starting pitcher to make more than two starts this season was Phil Hughes. The right-hander entered this season looking to build of off his 18-win campaign from a year ago, but he struggled with injuries throughout the year and made just 14 starts. And even when he did pitch, the results (5-5, 5.79 ERA) were not impressive.

Hughes, who turns 26 next June, was long believed to be one of the future cornerstones of the Yankees' rotation. Now, following his injury-plauged, highly ineffective 2011 season, there doesn't appear to be any guarantees that Hughes will even be a part of next season's rotation.

The bullpen, headlined by Rivera, the future Hall of Famer who turns 42 in November and is showing no signs of slowing down, is in considerably better shape compared to the starting rotation headed into 2012. A big reason for this is the emergence of David Robertson.

Headed into this season Robertson figured to be used as a situational or middle-innings reliever with Joba Chamberlain and Rafael Soriano, the Yankees' big free-agent acquisition, tagged as the setup men. However, Soriano went on the DL in the middle of May and Chamberlain went down in June with a torn elbow ligament, which forced Robertson into a more prominent role.

Robertson showed he was more than up to the task as he finished the season with a 4-0 record, 34 holds and a miniscule 1.08 ERA in 70 games pitched as the primary setup guy. Compared to Soriano, who went 2-3 with 23 holds, two saves (in five opportunities) and a 4.12 ERA.

To put it another way, Soriano, who signed a three-year, $35 million deal in January, made more than $254,000 for every inning (39 1/3) he pitched this season, while Robertson made a little more than $460,000 for the entire season or less than $7,000 for every inning he pitched. The 26-year-old Robertson is another of the Yankees' arbitration-eligible players headed for a big raise next season, a raise he rightfully earned.

Ironically enough, Soriano can, like Sabathia, opt out of his contract this offseason. However, given the injuries he battled this season, his lack of production and the fact he would be walking away from a guaranteed $25 million over the next two years, that development seems highly unlikely.

While Robertson, Soriano and Rivera can be assured of their roles in the bullpen next season, the same cannot be said of Chamberlain. The big righty underwent Tommy John surgery in June and even if he is able to return at some point next season, it's unclear where he would fit in.

What is clear is that there figures to be some new faces in the Yankees' bullpen next year and you can never rule out another marquee free agent signee like Soriano. Among some of the names that could be available this winter are Heath Bell, Rafael Betancourt, Ryan Madson and, wait for it Yankee fans, Jonathan Papelbon.

Whatever pitching additions the Yankees make, they do have some promising pitching prospects on the horizon, headlined by left-hander Manny Banuelos and righty Dellin Betances. Cashman made it very clear throughout this season he had no desire in including Banuelos or Betances in any potential trades as he viewed each player a key part of the Yankees' future.

The same can be said for Montero, who certainly appears to figure prominently into the Yankees' plans in 2012 and beyond. And given the state of the starting pitching, Banuelos and Betances may not be far behind.

What remains to be seen, however, is if these three and any other new players that may be added are ready for the spotlight and high expectations that comes with wearing the world-famous pinstripes. After all, with the Yankees, success is measured with one thing, championships.

And considering how hard it's going to be for everyone in the Yankees' organization, not to mention their fans, to watch another team hoist the World Series trophy in a few weeks, 2012 and the next chance at championship no. 28 can't come soon enough.

Teaser:
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Post date: Friday, October 7, 2011 - 15:29
All taxonomy terms: NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /columns/winning-game-plan/fantasy-football-kicker-rankings-week-5
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.

2011 NFL Week 5 — Kicker Rankings

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

Athlon Sports Week 5 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: Baltimore, Cleveland, Dallas, Miami, St. Louis, Washington

Rk Player Team OPPONENT
1 Jason Hanson DET vs. CHI
2 Neil Rackers HOU vs. OAK
3 Mason Crosby GB at ATL
4 John Kasay NO at CAR
5 Stephen Gostkowski NE vs. NYJ
6 Sebastian Janikowski OAK at HOU
7 Rob Bironas TEN at PIT
8 Mike Nugent CIN at JAC
9 Nick Folk NYJ at NE
10 Matt Bryant ATL vs. GB
11 Rian Lindell BUF vs. PHI
12 Nick Novak SD vs. DEN
13 Robbie Gould CHI at DET
14 David Akers SF vs. TB
15 Alex Henery PHI at BUF
16 Connor Barth TB at SF

Teaser:
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Post date: Thursday, October 6, 2011 - 11:17
All taxonomy terms: NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /columns/winning-game-plan/fantasy-football-defensespecial-teams-rankings-week-5
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.

2011 NFL Week 5 — Defense/Special Teams Rankings

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

Athlon Sports Week 5 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: Baltimore, Cleveland, Dallas, Miami, St. Louis, Washington

Rk Player OPPONENT
1 Detroit Lions vs. CHI
2 Green Bay Packers at ATL
3 New York Giants vs. SEA
4 Tennessee Titans at PIT
5 San Francisco 49ers vs. TB
6 Houston Texans vs. OAK
7 Chicago Bears vs. DET
8 New Orleans Saints at CAR
9 New York Jets at NE
10 Cincinnati Bengals at JAC
11 Tampa Bay Buccaneers at SF
12 San Diego Chargers vs. DEN
13 Philadelphia Eagles at BUF
14 Pittsburgh Steelers vs. TEN
15 Arizona Cardinals at MIN
16 Indianapolis Colts vs. KC

Teaser:
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Post date: Thursday, October 6, 2011 - 11:17
All taxonomy terms: NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /columns/winning-game-plan/fantasy-football-wide-receiver-rankings-week-5
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.

2011 NFL Week 5 — Wide Receiver Rankings

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

Athlon Sports Week 5 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: Baltimore, Cleveland, Dallas, Miami, St. Louis, Washington

Rk Player Team OPPONENT
1 Calvin Johnson DET vs. CHI
2 Larry Fitzgerald ARI at MIN
3 Greg Jennings GB at ATL
4 Vincent Jackson SD vs. DEN
5 Hakeem Nicks NYG vs. SEA
6 Steve Smith CAR vs. NO
7 Roddy White ATL vs. GB
8 Wes Welker NE vs. NYJ
9 Mike Wallace PIT vs. TEN
10 DeSean Jackson PHI at BUF
11 Dwayne Bowe KC at IND
12 Brandon Lloyd DEN at SD
13 Steve Johnson BUF vs. PHI
14 Santonio Holmes NYJ at NE
15 Julio Jones ATL vs. GB
16 Jeremy Maclin PHI at BUF
17 Percy Harvin MIN vs. ARI
18 Reggie Wayne IND vs. KC
19 A.J. Green CIN at JAC
20 Mike Williams TB at SF
21 Sidney Rice SEA at NYG
22 Jordy Nelson GB at ATL
23 Marques Colston NO at CAR
24 Nate Washington TEN at PIT
25 Mario Manningham NYG vs. SEA
26 Eric Decker DEN at SD
27 Jacoby Jones HOU vs. OAK
28 Plaxico Burress NYJ at NE
29 Lance Moore NO at CAR
30 Johnny Knox CHI at DET
31 Pierre Garcon IND vs. KC
32 Mike Thomas JAC vs. CIN
33 Denarius Moore OAK at HOU
34 Michael Crabtree SF vs. TB
35 Deion Branch NE vs. NYJ
36 David Nelson BUF vs. PHI
37 Antonio Brown PIT vs. TEN
38 Victor Cruz NYG vs. SEA
39 Robert Meachem NO at CAR
40 Nate Burleson DET vs. CHI
41 Kevin Walter HOU vs. OAK
42 Jacoby Ford OAK at HOU
43 Malcom Floyd SD vs. SD
44 Dexter McCluster KC at IND
45 Titus Young DET vs. CHI
46 Steve Breaston KC at IND
47 Darrius Heyward-Bey OAK vs. HOU
48 Devery Henderson NO at CAR
49 Early Doucet ARI at MIN
50 Michael Jenkins MIN vs. ARI
51 Emmanuel Sanders PIT vs. TEN
52 Josh Morgan SF vs. TB
53 Austin Collie IND vs. KC
54 Arrelious Benn TB at SF
55 Jerome Simpson CIN at JAC
56 Jason Hill JAC vs. CIN
57 Patrick Crayton SD vs. DEN
58 Hines Ward PIT vs. TEN
59 Preston Parker TB at SF
60 Donald Jones BUF vs. PHI
61 Randall Cobb GB at ATL
62 Andre Roberts ARI at MIN

Teaser:
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Post date: Thursday, October 6, 2011 - 11:12
All taxonomy terms: NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /columns/winning-game-plan/fantasy-football-quarterback-rankings-week-5
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.

2011 NFL Week 5 — Quarterback Rankings

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

Athlon Sports Week 5 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: Baltimore, Cleveland, Dallas, Miami, St. Louis, Washington

Rk Player Team OPPONENT
1 Aaron Rodgers GB at ATL
2 Tom Brady NE vs. NYJ
3 Philip Rivers SD vs. DEN
4 Matthew Stafford DET vs. CHI
5 Drew Brees NO at CAR
6 Michael Vick PHI at BUF
7 Matt Ryan ATL vs. GB
8 Cam Newton CAR vs. NO
9 Eli Manning NYG vs. SEA
10 Ryan Fitzpatrick BUF vs. PHI
11 Matt Schaub HOU vs. OAK
12 Josh Freeman TB at SF
13 Matt Hasselbeck TEN vs. PIT
14 Kevin Kolb ARI at MIN
15 Ben Roethlisberger PIT vs. TEN
16 Mark Sanchez NYJ at NE
17 Jay Cutler CHI at DET
18 Jason Campbell OAK at HOU
19 Kyle Orton DEN at SD
20 Donovan McNabb MIN vs. ARI
21 Alex Smith SF vs. TB
22 Matt Cassel KC at IND
23 Andy Dalton CIN at JAC
24 Curtis Painter IND vs. KC
25 Blaine Gabbert JAC vs. CIN
26 Tarvaris Jackson SEA at NYG

Teaser:
<br />
Post date: Thursday, October 6, 2011 - 11:08
All taxonomy terms: NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /columns/winning-game-plan/fantasy-football-rankings-week-5
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 5 Fantasy Football Rankings

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

Athlon Sports Week 5 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:
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Post date: Thursday, October 6, 2011 - 10:48
Path: /nfl/terrell-owens
Body:

Attention NFL teams! Need help at wide receiver? If so, Terrell Owens wants you to know he is available. Owens, who had surgery to repair a torn ACL in April, said in an interview this week that he plans to be ready to play in less than a month.

Never one to shy away from making bold statements, the six-time Pro Bowler used the interview to announce his comeback, if you will, stating that he will play for an NFL team this year.

On the surface, there doesn't seem to be a lack of options as many teams are dealing with injuries to their wide receivers. The most notable ones include the Houston Texans' Andre Johnson (hamstring - could miss up to a month, if not longer), the Dallas Cowboys' Miles Austin (hamstring - missed last two games, expected to be back in Week 6), and the Tennessee Titans' Kenny Britt (tore ACL and MCL in right knee in Week 3 - out for season).

However, having options doesn't necessarily translate into opportunity as any interested team will have to decide if it's worth taking a chance on the well-traveled, mercurial wide receiver. Additionally, Owens will turn 38 in December, making him one of the oldest wide receivers in the league.

But he's also shown that he can still be productive, having posted 72 catches for 983 yards and nine touchdowns with the Cincinnati Bengals last year. And after all this is guy who currently ranks second to Hall of Famer Jerry Rice in career receiving yards, is fourth in career touchdowns and sixth in receptions.

So with that said, let's take a quick look at all 32 teams to see which teams present a possible fit or which ones won't even bother to return his call.

Arizona Cardinals: Owens could be a nice complement to Larry Fitzgerald, teaming with him in a manner similar to that of former Cardinal Anquan Boldin. Owens could potentially help the development of younger receivers Early Doucet and Andre Roberts, provided he is willing to serve as a mentor. POSSIBLE FIT

Atlanta Falcons: Roddy White and Julio Jones are the clear-cut options here and having been down this road before, I just don't see Falcons' owner Arthur Blank taking on another player with questionable character. NOT A FIT

Baltimore Ravens: Rookie Torrey Smith has already had one breakout game as the deep threat and the Ravens already have the afore-mentioned Boldin on their roster. On the other hand, the Ravens could use some depth at receiver, especially with Lee Evans battling a nagging ankle injury. Baltimore, with team leaders like Ray Lewis and a no-nonsense head coach in John Harbaugh, is also a place where you figure T.O. would behave. POSSIBLE FIT

Buffalo Bills: Owens was a Bill in 2009, but that was before Steve Johnson established himself as the top option. The Bills aren't so deep at receiver that they couldn't use T.O., but I also don't think they really want to do anything to potentially upset the team chemistry they have right now. NOT A FIT

Carolina Panthers: Cam Newton throwing to T.O. Who doesn't think that doesn't sound intriguing? The Panthers already have their own 30-something receiver in Steve Smith, and while they don't have a lot of depth at the position behind Smith, I don't think T.O. is someone that first-year head coach Ron Rivera wants to have to worry about. NOT A FIT

Chicago Bears: Mike Martz can never have enough weapons and outside of Johnny Knox, it's not like the Bears' receivers have produced. On the other hand, the Bears already have gone down the take-a-chance-on-a-veteran-receiver route (Roy Williams) and that hasn't worked out too well to this point. NOT A FIT

Cincinnati Bengals: A return to the Bengals? I wouldn't rule it out. First, there's no Ochocinco or Carson Palmer, so in some ways it would be a fresh start for T.O.. and rookie quarterback Andy Dalton could use all the weapons he can get. I think it really comes down to if the Bengals' coaching staff/front office thinks that Owens can help the team and/or the development of Dalton, first-round pick A.J. Green and Jerome Simpson or if he would be a hindrance. POSSIBLE FIT

Cleveland Browns: Another young quarterback (Colt McCoy) who could use some more weapons. I think the DawgPound would embrace T.O., who would immediately become the most experienced receiver the Browns have, meaning another opportunity to bring the younger ones along. POSSIBLE FIT

Dallas Cowboys: As was already mentioned, Austin has been out of action the past two weeks and Dez Bryant has been dealing with his own injury issues. So there's no question the Cowboys need some help at the position... but that's why they signed Laurent Robinson. They've already been down this road once, remember? NOT A FIT

Denver Broncos: Eddie Royal's hurt right now, but that has allowed Eric Decker the chance to make a name for himself and I don't see head coach John Fox and T.O. getting along, not when he has other things about his team to worry about. NOT A FIT

Detroit Lions: Calvin Johnson on one side and Owens are on the other? Talk about your scary propositions — if Owens was five years younger. The Lions are a young team, they already have a veteran wideout (Nate Burleson) and drafted Titus Young as well. The Lions are all about looking ahead, not revisiting past glory. NOT A FIT

Green Bay Packers: One of the few teams who don't even NEED Owens. After all the defending champs have Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson, Donald Driver, James Jones and some kid named Randall Cobb who returned a kickoff 108 yards in his first NFL game. Talk about your embarrassment of riches. NOT A FIT

Houston Texans: Here's a situation that I think bears watching, especially if Andre Johnson is out longer than believed at this point. The Texans are in win-now mode and T.O. could certainly bolster the receiving corps. If anything, I think the Texans will at least kick the tires once Owens is declared fit to play. POSSIBLE FIT

Indianapolis Colts: Let's be honest, the Colts' problems this year have nothing to do with wide receiver — it's all about the quarterback. Even if the Colts wanted him to play for him, would T.O. want to go to Indy? NOT A FIT

Jacksonville Jaguars: Another team with a rookie quarterback (Blaine Gabbert) at the helm and questionable depth behind no. 1 receiver Mike Thomas. If anything maybe T.O. could help sell some tickets? POSSIBLE FIT

Kansas City Chiefs: Quarterback and several key losses, most notably Jamaal Charles, have just decimated the Chiefs. Just like the Colts' situation, I don't see why Owens would want to play in K.C. NOT A FIT

Miami Dolphins: Chad Henne is done for the season, so the Dolphins turn to Matt Moore at quarterback. Another questionable quarterback situation and oh yeah, the 'Fins also have Brandon Marshall. One mercurial wideout is enough per team, don't you think? NOT A FIT

Minnesota Vikings: The Vikings need help at receiver (among other positions). However, there's the little, tiny issue of who's playing quarterback, at least for now. As long as Donovan McNabb is under center, I don't see the Vikings getting anywhere near T.O. If they make the switch to rookie Christian Ponder? Maybe. NOT A FIT

New England Patriots: See: Miami Dolphins and replace Brandon Marshall with Chad Ochocinco. Don't forget about the Randy Moss experiment either, the Patriots would like to. NOT A FIT

New Orleans Saints: The Saints have plenty of wide receivers, but health (especially for Marques Colston and Lance Moore) has been an issue. Head coach Sean Payton would love to have another weapon to scheme with; and this is a Super Bowl-contending team with a veteran locker room led by quarterback Drew Brees that should be able to handle Owens. POSSIBLE FIT

New York Giants: Remember Plaxico Burress? Yeah, Tom Coughlin does too. NOT A FIT

New York Jets: I don't even think the Big Apple could handle all of these egos —Rex Ryan, the afore-mentioned Burress, Santonio Holmes, Mark Sanchez, Bart Scott, Antonio Cromartie AND T.O.!?! Sure would make for great theater though. NOT A FIT

Oakland Raiders: Seems like a match made in heaven doesn't it? T.O. in the silver and black? Maybe a couple of years ago, now I'm just not so sure. The Raiders don't lack for receivers (Jacoby Ford, Derrius Heyward-Bey, Denarius Moore, etc.) and it seems like they have found some stability under new head coach Hue Jackson. I don't think they want to do anything to potentially mess with that. NOT A FIT

Philadelphia Eagles: I think the so-called "Dream Team" has enough prima donnas on it already, don't you? NOT A FIT

Pittsburgh Steelers: Owens just don't come across to me as a Steel City kind of guy, or more importantly a Rooney-type of player. NOT A FIT

San Diego Chargers: Chargers are fairly deep at receiver, but Vincent Jackson and Malcom Floyd, not to mention tight end Antonio Gates, have all been dealing with injuries. Philip Rivers has the type of personality that I think he would be able to co-exist with Owens, I'm just not so sure it he's someone head coach Norv Turner would take a chance on. POSSIBLE FIT

San Francisco 49ers: First-year head coach Jim Harbaugh has the 49ers off to a 3-1 start and fully instilled his identity into this team. While they could use the help at wide receiver, I don't see T.O. and Harbaugh's identity as a match. NOT A FIT

St. Louis Rams: The Rams just placed Danny Amendola on IR so there's a spot for Owens in St. Louis. The Rams are off to a horrible start and could use all the help they can get on offense. Heck they'd probably give him a chance to play some defense if he wanted to. POSSIBLE FIT

Seattle Seahawks: Honestly, there's no reason for the Seahawks to not give him a shot provided T.O. is interested. POSSIBLE FIT

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Another young team who is looking to build around quarterback Josh Freeman, running back LeGarrette Blount, wide receiver Mike Williams and several playmakers on defense. Also, the role of outspoken teammate is already taken by tight end Kellen Winslow. NOT A FIT

Tennessee Titans: Losing Kenny Britt for the season was a huge blow to the Titans, who have been a pleasant surprise under first-year head coach Mike Munchak. Even though they could use more depth at wide receiver, I just don't see the coaching staff or front office clamoring for T.O. Remember they've been down this road (Randy Moss) once before too. NOT A FIT

Washington Redskins: With Daniel Snyder as owner and Mike Shanahan has head coach, I think anything is possible. If they believe Owens could benefit the team/offense, I think they'll at least look into bringing him aboard. If anything, they can pitch to him the chance to torment two of his previous teams — Cowboys and Eagles. POSSIBLE FIT

Teaser:
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Post date: Thursday, October 6, 2011 - 09:31
All taxonomy terms: NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /columns/winning-game-plan/fantasy-football-tight-end-rankings-week-5
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.

2011 NFL Week 5 — Tight End Rankings

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

Athlon Sports Week 5 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: Baltimore, Cleveland, Dallas, Miami, St. Louis, Washington

Rk Player Team OPPONENT
1 Jimmy Graham NO at CAR
2 Jermichael Finley GB at ATL
3 Rob Gronkowski NE vs. NYJ
4 Owen Daniels HOU vs. OAK
5 Vernon Davis SF vs. TB
6 Greg Olsen CAR vs. NO
7 Dustin Keller NYJ at NE
8 Tony Gonzalez ATL vs. GB
9 Brandon Pettigrew DET vs. CHI
10 Dallas Clark IND vs. KC
11 Jermaine Gresham CIN at JAC
12 Jared Cook TEN at PIT
13 Marcedes Lewis JAC vs. CIN
14 Scott Chandler BUF vs. PHI
15 Kellen Winslow TB at SF
16 Visanthe Shiancoe MIN vs. ARI
17 Todd Heap ARI at MIN
18 Randy McMichael SD vs. DEN
19 Jeremy Shockey CAR vs. NO
20 Heath Miller PIT vs. TEN
21 James Casey HOU vs. OAK
22 Brent Celek PHI at BUF
23 Zach Miller SEA at NYG
24 Daniel Fells DEN at SD
25 Kevin Boss OAK at HOU
26 Tony Scheffler DET vs. CHI

Teaser:
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Post date: Thursday, October 6, 2011 - 04:13
All taxonomy terms: NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /columns/winning-game-plan/fantasy-football-running-back-rankings-week-5
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.

2011 NFL Week 5 — Running Back Rankings

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

Athlon Sports Week 5 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: Baltimore, Cleveland, Dallas, Miami, St. Louis, Washington

Rk Player Team OPPONENT
1 Adrian Peterson MIN vs. ARI
2 Arian Foster HOU vs. OAK
3 Darren McFadden OAK at HOU
4 LeSean McCoy PHI at BUF
5 Maurice Jones-Drew JAC vs. CIN
6 Fred Jackson BUF vs. PHI
7 Matt Forte CHI at DET
8 Ryan Mathews SD vs. DEN
9 Chris Johnson TEN vs. PIT
10 Michael Turner ATL vs. GB
11 Beanie Wells ARI at MIN
12 Frank Gore SF vs. TB
13 Ahmad Bradshaw NYG vs. SEA
14 LeGarrette Blount TB at SF
15 Jahvid Best DET vs. CHI
16 Cedric Benson CIN at JAC
17 James Starks GB at ATL
18 Willis McGahee DEN at SD
19 Shonn Greene NYJ at NE
20 Darren Sproles NO at CAR
21 Joseph Addai IND vs. KC
22 DeAngelo Williams CAR vs. NO
23 Isaac Redman PIT vs. TEN
24 Mark Ingram NO at CAR
25 BenJarvus Green-Ellis NE vs. NYJ
26 Jonathan Stewart CAR vs. NO
27 Marshawn Lynch SEA at NYG
28 Brandon Jacobs NYG vs. SEA
29 Mike Tolbert SD vs. DEN
30 Thomas Jones KC at IND
31 Ryan Grant GB at ATL
32 Stevan Ridley NE vs. NYJ
33 Dexter McCluster KC at IND
34 Pierre Thomas NO at CAR
35 Michael Bush OAK at HOU
36 LaDainian Tomlinson NYJ at NE
37 Kendall Hunter SF vs. TB
38 Knowshon Moreno DEN at SD
39 Ben Tate HOU vs. OAK
40 Delone Carter IND vs. KC
41 Rashard Mendenhall PIT vs. TEN
42 Bernard Scott CIN at JAC
43 Earnest Graham TB at SF
44 C.J. Spiller BUF vs. PHI
45 Marion Barber CHI at DET
46 Jacquizz Rodgers ATL vs. GB
47 Deji Karim JAC vs. CIN
48 Danny Woodhead NE vs. NYJ

Teaser:
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Post date: Thursday, October 6, 2011 - 04:08
Path: /nfl/shonn-greene-owners-take-note-rex-ryan-says-jets-return-running-ways
Body:

In the wake of Sunday night's disheartening 34-17 loss to the Baltimore Ravens, New York Jets coach Rex Ryan promised at least one change in their offensive game plan — a recommitment to the running game. In other words, "Ground & Pound" is back.

While this change in offensive philosophy should make Shonn Greene and his fantasy owners smile, it remains to be seen if it will result in a more productive rushing attack. After rushing for a meager 38 yards on 19 carries against the Ravens, the Jets (2-2) are averaging 71 yards per game on the ground through the first four games, which puts them 30th in the NFL. Compare that to last year, when their average for the entire season was 148.4 yards per game, which ranked them fourth overall.

Some of the decline in production can be attributed to two factors — game plan and the play of the offensive line. Last year, the Jets' play-calling featured a 50/50 split between rushes and passes. This year through the first four games the split is 60/40 as quarterback Mark Sanchez has 147 pass attempts compared to a total of 92 rushes for the entire Jets team.

While Sanchez has been somewhat productive in the passing game (55 percent completion rate, 1,005 yards, six touchdowns), he's also thrown five interceptions and lost three fumbles. All three of his fumbles came against the Ravens, who returned two of them and an interception in that game for touchdowns.

A strength of last year's Jets team, this year the offensive line has struggled. All-Pro center Nick Mangold has missed the past two games, both Jets losses, after suffering a high-ankle sprain in Week 2, and his absence has been noticeable. In the Ravens game alone, there were numerous instances of miscommunication between Sanchez and Mangold's replacement, rookie Colin Baxter, which resulted in mishandled snaps. At one point, Baxter was benched in the second quarter meaning Sanchez had to acclimate himself with yet another center, Matt Slausson, who moved over from his usual left guard position.

Mangold has returned to practice and hopes to be able to play this Sunday against the New England Patriots, a development that certainly puts a smile on Sanchez's face. Without question, the center, especially one the caliber of Mangold, is a crucial piece of any offensive line. But the center is just one part of a five-man unit and the Jets' offensive lines struggles go beyond Mangold's extended absence. Especially when you consider there is just one new starter this year compared to last, right tackle Wayne Hunter, who was a backup last year.

Sanchez has already been sacked 11 times this season and been pressured or hurried countless more. For example, while the Ravens only sacked him twice on Sunday night, they also got a total of 10 hits on him, according to the game statistics.

This type of punishment has already taken its toll, as Sanchez has seemingly completed each game to this point with some sort of injury. He was tested for a concussion after the Jets' opening-season win over the Dallas Cowboys, he banged up his throwing arm and elbow the following week against the Jaguars and then suffered a minor break of his nose against the Raiders in Week 3. Outside of the running backs, no one is probably happier about a game plan that features more hand offs than Sanchez.

And speaking of the running backs, what can Jets' fans and fantasy owners alike expect from Greene or even LaDainian Tomlinson with more carries. Well, if early-season results have anything to say about it — not too much.

Last year, Tomlinson got more carries than Greene (219 to 185), and subsequently did a little more with them. Tomlinson finished the season with 914 yards and six touchdowns, while Greene had 766 yards and two scores on the ground. Not surprising, Tomlinson also received more opportunities through the air, catching 52 passes compared to Greene's 16 receptions. But when it came to per-carry and per-catch production, the two were basically dead-even. Tomlinson averaged 4.2 yards per carry and 7.1 yards per catch, while Greene averaged 4.1 and 7.5 respectively.

Headed into this season, the Jets decided to make Greene, 26, the feature back of the Jets' offense, with Tomlinson, 32 and in his 11th NFL season, relegated to a secondary role. For the second straight year, this made Greene a popular sleeper/upside pick among fantasy owners, who were just waiting for the third-year pro to finally break out.

Well to this point, they are still waiting. Greene has gotten the bulk of the carries, to the tune of 55 percent of the team's total, but he's averaging a meager 3.1 yards per carry and his season-long carry is 15 yards. His yards per carry average is the lowest among the NFL's top 40 rushers.

Greene has been more involved in the passing game with 10 receptions already, but he's averaging just 6 yards per catch and has scored a total of one touchdown. Add it all up and you get the 33rd-ranked running back in fantasy football, according to Athlon Sports' standard scoring.

In fact, Tomlinson has been more productive than Greene with far fewer touches. The future Hall of Famer is currently the 28th-ranked running back, thanks mainly to his ability as a receiver. Tomlinson is tied for second on the Jets with 13 receptions and his second in receiving yards with 200 and has two touchdown catches. On the ground, he has 59 yards in 20 attempts (3.0 ypc) with season-long carry of 20 yards.

If the Jets are to return to their running ways, they are picking a good time to do so. Last year against the Patriots, the Jets rushed for a total of 237 yards in two games. This year the Patriots are giving up an average of 108.8 yards per game and 4.8 yards per attempt on the ground.

With a run-centric game plan in place and the Patriots on tap, Greene should get plenty of opportunities this Sunday. But if the Jets' offensive line can't get their act together and open up a few more holes, Greene himself may be the one grounded — on either the bench or waiver wire — come Week 6.

Teaser:
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Post date: Wednesday, October 5, 2011 - 15:54
All taxonomy terms: Aaron Rodgers, Cam Newton, Drew Brees, Tom Brady, NFL
Path: /nfl/nfl-quarterbacks-are-record-setting-starts-season
Body:

— by Mark Ross

This just in: the NFL has become a pass-happy league. And while that may not seem like breaking news, a closer look at early-season numbers tell the story. The first four weeks of the season featured the four highest single-week passing-yardage totals in NFL history, according to Elias Sports Bureau.

The highest single-week passing-yardage total belongs to Week 2 (7,946 passing yards), followed by Week 4 (7,886), Week 1 (7,842) and Week 3 (7,772).

In Week 1 alone there were five games in which each team had a player throw for 300 yards or more. That set the NFL record for most games with multiple 300-yard passers in one week. In total, 14 different quarterbacks threw for 300 yards or more in Week 1, the the highest one-week total in NFL history.

The first week of the NFL season ended with even more history that Monday night as the New England Patriots' Tom Brady became just the 11th quarterback to throw for at least 500 yards in a game and posted the fifth-highest single-game total in NFL history when he torched the Mimai Dolphins for 517 passing yards. Combine Brady's output with Dolphins' quarterback Chad Henne's 416 passing yards and you have the only game in NFL history in which one team had a player throw for 500 or more yards and the other team had a player throw for at least 400.

And if that wasn't enough, when you take the Patriots (516) and Dolphins (390) net passing yard totals, you get the most prolific NFL game ever in terms of combined passing yards. And we're just getting started.

Brady, who currently leads the league in passing yards (1,553) and touchdowns (15), has already set several NFL passing records to start this season. In Week 3 he broke the record for yards passing in three games, a mark previously held by the New Orleans Saints' Drew Brees. Brady's passing yardage total through the first four games of the season is the second-highest total since 1970.

Speaking of Brees, he has put up some impressive numbers of his own as he is leading the league in completions (120), is second in yards (1,410) and fourth in touchdown passes (10) through the first four games. Similar to Brady, those numbers rank Brees in the top five since the merger in completions (tied for second) and passing yards (fifth) through four games. Brees also has completed 20 or more passes in 24 consecutive games, the longest such streak in NFL history.

And not to be outdone or left out, there's Aaron Rodgers. The quarterback of the defending champion Green Bay Packers has picked up right where he left off after being named MVP of Super Bowl XLV with his early-season play as well. Rodgers trails only Brady in touchdown passes (12) and has completed a league-high 73 percent of his passes with just two interceptions for a quarterback rating of 124.6 through the first four games.

This past Sunday alone Rodgers accounted for six touchdowns, passing for four and running for two, in the Packers' 49-23 dismantling of the Broncos. He also passed for 408 yards, making him the first player in NFL history with at least 400 passing yards, four passing touchdowns and two rushing touchdowns in a game. In addition, prior to that game, no Packers player in their long history had produced more than five TDs in one game. Five different Packers had previously accounted for five TDs, including Pro Football Hall of Famer Paul Hornung and Brett Favre (who did it on three different occasions).

And it's not just veterans like Brady, Brees and Rodgers who have been re-writing the NFL's history books to start the season either. Carolina Panthers' rookie quarterback Cam Newton has put up some record-setting numbers of his own. Through the first four games of his NFL career, Newton has five touchdown passes and four rushing touchdowns. Before him, no other player in NFL history ever had even three of each in their first three games.

Newton's 1,386 passing yards through the first four games of this season not only rank him third in the league, behind just Brady and Brees, but it's the most passing yards by a quarterback in their first four NFL starts since the AFL/NFL merger. The previous record-holder was Billy Volek, who had 1,118 passing yards in his first four starts.

Newton accomplished this record by coming out of the gate firing, throwing for 422 yards in his debut against the Arizona Cardinals. He followed that up with a 432-yard game against the Packers, making him just the seventh player in NFL history with back-to-back 400-yard games and doing so in the first two games of his career. The others to accomplish this are two Hall of Famers, Dan Fouts and Dan Marino, Phil Simms, Volek, the Kansas City Chiefs' Matt Cassel and Brady, who like Newton did so in the first two games of this season.

Newton's two-game total of 854 passing yards also broke the record by any payer in his first two games by more than 200 yards. The old mark belonged to Todd Marinovich, who had 638 yards passing in his first two NFL games. Newton's two 400-yard games were also the first by any player in the first month of their rookie season. Peyton Manning had two 300-yard games in September 1998, his rookie season, and Greg Cook of the Cincinnati Bengals had one as a rookie in September 1969.

Oh and by the way, Newton started October by passing for 374 yards and accounting for three touchdowns (one passing, two rushing) in a 34-29 loss to the Bears. So it's safe to say, he's probably not done with the record books just yet.

With all of these quarterbacks accumulating these eye-popping numbers, it's no surprise that eight teams are currently averaging 400 or more yards of total offense, which is the highest such total through the first four games since 1970. Four of those teams — Packers, Panthers, Patriots and Saints — have already been mentioned and other four are the Dallas Cowboys, Oakland Raiders, Philadelphia Eagles and San Diego Chargers. Of those, three have Pro Bowl quarterbacks leading them in Philip Rivers (Chargers), Tony Romo (Cowboys) and Michael Vick (Eagles), while the fourth leads the league in rushing and features the NFL's current leading rusher in Darren McFadden (117 yards per game).

However, it hasn't been all good history for quarterbacks to this point. This past Sunday night, the Baltimore Ravens defeated the New York Jets 34-17 in a game that featured seven turnovers, five return touchdowns (two fumbles, two interceptions and one kickoff) and one offensive touchdown. The five return touchdowns were the most in any game in NFL history and the 51 combined points were the most in a game in which there was only one offensive touchdown.

And speaking of the offense, or lack thereof, Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco completed just 10 of 31 passes (32 percent), while his counterpart, the Jets' Mark Sanchez, fared even worse (11-for-35, 31 percent). It was the first game in NFL history in which opposing quarterbacks both threw at least 30 passes and neither completed more than one-third of them.

So just four games into this season and it's already been a record-setting one for quarterbacks. With 12 games still to be played, it's fair to say they're probably not done with the record books. Giving us yet another reason to sit back and enjoy America's game.

Teaser:
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Post date: Wednesday, October 5, 2011 - 13:21
Path: /nfl/pittsburgh-steelers-defense-no-longer-safe-fantasy-option
Body:

The Pittsburgh Steelers (2-2) have struggled out of the gate this NFL season, thanks in large part to injuries. And while Ben Roethlisberger (sprained foot) and Rashard Mendenhall (hamstring) grab most of the headlines, the Steelers' defense has not been immune to the injury bug.

Look no further than starting linebacker James Harrison, who is out at least three weeks after undergoing surgery to repair a broken orbital bone around his right eye. He sustained the injury in Sunday's game against the Houston Texans, the same game in which Big Ben and Mendenhall sustained their respective injuries.

Just as injuries to two of the Steelers' key offensive playmakers will impact the unit's production this coming Sunday and moving forward, the same is true for the defense. Harrison's loss will result in a shuffling among the linebackers with Lawrence Timmons moving from inside to Harrison's outside position and veteran Larry Foote taking over at inside linebacker for Timmons.

The Steelers also have injury concerns along the defensive line as starting end Aaron Smith is dealing with a foot sprain of his own and could miss this Sunday's game.

Injuries aside, the main issue when it comes to the Steelers' defense from a fantasy standpoint is this — it's not the safe option it used to be.

In 2010, the Steelers were the highest-scoring team defense in fantasy football, according to Athlon Sports' standard scoring system. This year, the Steel Curtain currently ranks 19th among team defenses.

That doesn't mean the Steelers' defense is among the worst statistically. In fact, they currently rank second in the NFL in total defense, yielding just 277 yards of total offense a game, and are tops in pass defense (158 yards per game). They also have given up just 18 points per game, a number that's helped immensely by the Steelers' Week 2 shutout of the Seattle Seahawks.

These numbers, however, haven't carried over into the fantasy world. The main reason for the drop in fantasy production? A decline in sacks and turnovers.

In 2010, the Steelers led the NFL in sacks with 48 and forced 35 turnovers (21 interceptions, 14 fumbles), which tied them for third in the league. Through the first four games of this season the Steelers have just seven sacks, which is tied for the fourth-lowest total in the league, and a grand total of one takeaway.

So what happens when you combine an ineffective pass rush and in-opportunistic defense with a shuffled starting line up that will be missing one, if not two, key members? The recipe for a team defense that is probably best to be avoided in your starting line up certainly this week, if not the foreseeable future.

In fact, when it comes to a replacement, you might want to take a look at the team that will be on the other side of the ball in Pittsburgh this Sunday — the Tennessee Titans. Led by first-year head coach Mike Munchak, the Titans (3-1) have been one of the NFL's early-season surprise teams, thanks in large part to quarterback Matt Hasselbeck and a stingy defense.

The Titans currently lead the NFL in points allowed at 14 per game and are among the top 10 in both rushing and passing defense. The Titans also have 10 sacks and have forced seven turnovers and get to face a Steelers' offense, whose offensive line has already yielded 14 sacks and is nowhere-near 100 percent headed into this Sunday's game. Not to mention the same can be said of their quarterback and top running back.

The Titans are currently the ninth-ranked team defense according to Athlon Sports' standard scoring system, and chances are you can find them on your league's waiver wire.

Besides the Steelers' defensive issues, the vaunted Ravens team defense is on bye this week as well as the surprising Redskins and popular Cowboys. Other than the Titans, here are some other possible replacement team defense options for this week:

Arizona Cardinals — currently the 13th-ranked team defense, the Cardinals have been able to consistently pressure the quarterback (10 sacks) and make some big plays on special teams. This Sunday they travel to Minnesota to face the Vikings and their 23rd-ranked offense.

Buffalo Bills — probably the surprise team of the NFL to this point, the Bills are the 10th-ranked team defense, thanks in large part to turnovers (11 takeaways) and defensive scores (two). Their matchup with the Philadelphia Eagles may not look to appealing on first glance, but the Eagles are struggling as a team right now and have shown a tendency to turn the ball over (10, tied for second-highest total in NFL).

Cincinnati Bengals — the Bengals are the 16th-ranked team defense right now, but on Sunday they get to face the Jacksonville Jaguars and Blaine Gabbert, the rookie who will be making just his third career start. Gabbert is completing less than half of his passes to this point and the Bengals' pass rush (10 sacks so far) may be able force him into some mistakes.

Indianapolis Colts — don't laugh. Yes, the Colts are bad, on both sides of the ball, but this Sunday they get the Kansas City Chiefs at home. And while the Chiefs have done something the Colts haven't yet (win a game), their offense is ranked 29th in the league and they have scored the third-fewest points so far. Believe it or not, the Colts are currently the 18th-ranked team defense, which is one spot ahead of the afore-mentioned Steelers.

Teaser:
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Post date: Tuesday, October 4, 2011 - 16:43
Path: /nfl/kerry-collins-or-curtis-painter-%E2%80%94-either-colts-quarterback-viable-fantasy-option
Body:

Curtis Painter made his first career NFL start at quarterback for the Indianapolis Colts on Monday night against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. And while he didn't lead the Colts to victory, he did play fairly well, completing 13-of-30 pass attempts for 281 yards and two touchdowns.

Painter got the start in place of Kerry Collins, who was inactive due to a concussion he suffered in Week 3 against Pittsburgh. And everyone knows that the only reason either of these two are starting is because Peyton Manning is out, most likely for the season, due to his continued recovery from his latest neck surgery.

So we know No. 18 isn't coming back any time soon and at 0-4 the Colts' season is pretty much already over as it relates to postseason hopes. Regardless, someone will need to be under center this Sunday when the Colts host the Kansas City Chiefs. The question is which one — Collins or Painter — and is either a viable option for fantasy owners.

For now, it seems no one, including Colts head coach Jim Caldwell, knows who is going to be the starting quarterback this Sunday. Even though Painter posted a 99.4 quarterback rating in his first career start, Caldwell wouldn't commit to him as this week's starter when asked after the game last night, according to a Indianapolis TV report.

That said, let's look at the two options and see how they have performed. Collins is the grizzled, 17-year veteran with 40,498 more passing yards and 202 more touchdowns than Painter has in his considerably shorter career. Collins also is 12 years older than Painter and has struggled to start the season.

Before going down with the concussion, Collins had completed 49 percent of his passes for 481 yards and two touchdowns. He has thrown one interception and lost three fumbles. Painter has completed 44 percent of his passes for 341 yards and two touchdowns. He has yet to throw an interception and has fumbled the ball away twice.

Collins has more than twice as many (98 to 41) attempts as Painter, which is understandable since he was the starter until he went down in Week 3. And while Painter's is a smaller sample size, his yards/attempt (8.3 to 4.9) and yards/completion (18.9 to 10.0) are considerably higher than Collins'.

On the surface, one could make the argument that Painter has the stronger arm (could it be the hair?) compared to Collins, which in turn should benefit the Colts' passing game and the opportunity for big plays.

In fact, Painter threw his first career touchdown pass last night, an 87-yard scoring strike to Pierre Garcon. Since the NFL/AFL merger, only two other quarterbacks had their first career touchdown pass go 87 yards or longer, according to Elias Sports Bureau. His second career touchdown pass also went to Garcon, this one a 59-yarder, making Painter the first quarterback to throw two touchdowns passes of at least 50 yards in his first career NFL start since the Cincinnati Bengals' Jeff Blake did it on October 30, 1994.

Even though Garcon scored both touchdowns, it wasn't like Painter ignored the other Colts receivers. Reggie Wayne and Garcon were each targeted a team-high eight times on Monday night, with Wayne leading the way with four receptions. Tight end Dallas Clark also got into the act with three receptions on four targets for 46 yards, while Austin Collie was targeted sevent times, finishing with two receptions for 16 yards.

But when it comes to the Colts' pass-catchers it hasn't really been a problem with opportunities; it's been an issue with accuracy. Wayne, Garcon, Collie and Clark have been targeted a collective 124 times and have a combined 55 receptions to show for it. That translates to 44 percent. Compare that to Manning, whose career completion rate is 65 percent.

Accuracy issues aside, the Colts have struggled offensively pretty much in all facets of the game. They currently rank 30th in the league in total offense (270 yards per game), are tied for 26th in passing (187 yards per game), are 28th in rushing (83 yards per game) and scoring with less than 16 points per game.

Injures along the offensive line certainly don't help matter, an issue that was on full display Monday night as Painter was under constant pressure. He was sacked four times and the pressure also resulted in hurried throws, which impacted his completion percentage. On the season, Collins and Painter have already been sacked a combined 10 times. Last season, Manning was sacked a total of 16 times the entire season.

So regardless of whether Caldwell decides to stick with Painter, the strong-armed young gun or go back to the veteran Collins, the fantasy outlook for either, or the Colts as a whole, doesn't appear to be too promising. One look at the Colts' offense on the field and fantasy owners can tell it isn't the productive, coveted unit they have come to know and love. It's just not the same without No. 18 out there.

Teaser:
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Post date: Tuesday, October 4, 2011 - 14:19
All taxonomy terms: Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions, NFL
Path: /nfl/calvin-johnson-best-receiver-nfl
Body:

The Detroit Lions are 4-0 for the first time in 31 years thanks to a huge comeback win over the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday. The Lions and the Green Bay Packers are the NFL's lone remaining undefeated teams, and like the defending Super Bowl champions, the Lions have put a lot of points on the scoreboard these first four weeks.

Detroit is currently tied with New England for the second-most points per game (33.8). Detroit has scored 15 total touchdowns in its first four games, with nearly half of them, coming from one player — Calvin Johnson.

Johnson already has eight touchdowns this season. The wide receiver not only has two more touchdowns than any player, he is currently leading the entire NFL, kickers included, in scoring period. His Lions teammate, kicker Jason Hanson, is second with 45 points.

Johnson added to his TD total against the Cowboys with two TD catches in the fourth quarter, including the game-winner with less than two minutes left. In the process, Johnson made NFL history by becoming:

*2nd player in NFL history with at least 2 receiving TDs in four straight games within a single season (Cris Carter, 1995)
*1st player in NFL history with at least 2 receiving TDs in a team's first four games of a season
*Ties Bobby Walston's 1954 mark for most receiving TDs in a team's first four games of a season

Johnson has been consistent, with two receiving TDs in each of the Lions' first four games. At this pace, he would break LaDainian Tomlinson's single-season record for touchdowns with 32.

While it is highly unlikely that Johnson will break L.T.'s mark, he just may have a shot at the single-season mark for touchdowns by a wide receiver. That record is 23 and is currently shared by Hall of Famer Jerry Rice and Randy Moss.

What is even more impressive regarding Johnson's record-setting start is how efficient he has been with his opportunities. Through the first four games Johnson has 24 receptions on 41 targets. He is tied for 11th in the league in receptions and tied for fourth in targets.

Eight of his 24 receptions have gone for scores, meaning 33 percent or one out of every three passes Johnson has caught this year have gone for touchdowns. The next-highest rate among the top 20 in receptions to this point is 13 percent, a mark shared by the Patriots' Wes Welker (5 TDs, 40 rec) and the Bills' Steve Johnson (3, 24).

Johnson was selected for his first Pro Bowl and was named second team All-Pro  last season after posting 77 receptions for 1,120 yards and 12 touchdowns. With eight TDs already this season, Johnson is well on his way to earning first team All-Pro honors. Then again, what else would you expect for the NFL's no. 1 receiver?

Teaser:
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Post date: Monday, October 3, 2011 - 16:30
All taxonomy terms: Overtime
Path: /overtime/justin-bieber-baby-drama-best-comments-web
Body:

The Justin Bieber baby drama story that's going around has really gotten people worked up. The story goes that Justin had 30 seconds of sex with a fan in a bathroom after a show and ended up fathering a child out of it. The "mom" now wants Bieber to take a paternity test. 

One thing that caught our eye was the comments on all the online article about this story. So we thought we'd share some of them with you (yes, this has nothing to do with sports.)

i dont no who to bleeive cuz he has leid before and the lady could be lieing cuz she is obsessed with him
By Kiara

BIEBER SHUD RUN FOR PRES. AS A DEM, WHATS THAT U SAY HE ISNT OLD ENOUGH.
WHO CARES HE IS JUST LIKE CLINTON, A LIAR, WHO IS POPULAR
By JM Arnet

obvi. se’s a pysco,just trying to get attention,cuz she has no man, no life, and wants to either ruin, or just screww around with his career. everyone knows that he one of the most top celebrity heart throbs, so she knew that she would piss someone off, and get so much attention with this scandal. if it’s true(which i highly doubt) i dont really know how i would react. im not an obessed fan at all, but i respect him, and like his music. idk if i would keep thos same feelings or not if this whole “baby daddy thing is true.
By natalie lawson, cleveland

My grandma would say, "That kid has a smack face." That's a face that just makes you want to SMACK it. I agree with grandma.
By Fallopia Lopez

he is nasty he 17 that so nasty he should not do the stuff.
Comment by Kaitlyn Annabell Vasquaz

Shes probably just some psychopathic fan who has nothing better to do with her life so got someone to have sex with her..keep it quiet and for her to say ohh its justin bieber so that it will draw in the publicity! bit pathetic really...i mean i dont obviously know if it is justins kid but im guessing theres not..there is one way to find out though,a DNA test which should have already been done!
By Jaimee Hampson

Who gives a crap about this twerp!
By Marcus D

I don't believe this story, another publicity stunt, Justin Bierber trying to stay relevant, remind me of the Micheal Jackson Billy Jean publicity stunts. some woman are just plain wacky.
By BlueKid

Yes it's rape. There should be a law like in china where you're allowed to have certain amount of kids..it worked for them. Here it would be, in addition to,..two people agreeing on having a baby. When it's passed as a law, nobody will take human life for granted as just a pay check.
By Eldizzy

all i can say is if this is turned out to be true, it is going to backfire.
By Chante Smith

The accusation is totally false because Justin Bieber is a homosexual and there's nothing wrong with it. Justin, you need to come out with it and be true to yourself.
By ih8taxes

It be more believable if someone got HIM/Her pregnant.
By Joe

Hey it could happen that's how jesus was born
By Allen

i cant believe that someone would go so far to blame someone els for something they didn't do. That just states that they are insane. and especially to do it to some one who is only 18 and thats famous. i cant even fathom what justin is going through right now :( i feel soo bad that i cant even describe the words to say about this.

IT WILL BE OK JUSTIN!!!!!!!!!!!!! (ITS JUST A STUPID RUMOR)
<3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3
ByJweis0825

Royce 5'9 said it "lord, i want you to leave this vicinity, you gone be round here bout long as Justin Bieber's virginity" smh....well he's having a lil bieber baby!!! i say why do the paternity test, if the kid has a mushroom haircut. its bieber's lol 
By Babyboy119

Justin as one of its biggest fan, this is a lie! Do not worry, I will support you in everything. I LOVE YOU
By Jacinta Beliber

HEY THIZ IS 2 AYEJAY!!! SHUT DA HECK UP HE IS A BOY AND U NOE DAT SH**!!! GOD DAMN IT AINT NOBODY GOT TIME 2 B FOOLIN WITH U AND UR FU***N NONSENSE!!! EVERYTHING YOU SAY COMES IN ONE EAR AND GOES OUT DA OTHER!!! SOOO..... IT AINT AFFECTIN HIM SOOO KEEP TALKIN IT BOO :) CUZ AT DA END OF DA DAY HE IS HAPPY WITH HIS LIFE UNLIKE YO STUPID A**
By Kate

Teaser:
<p> Here are some of our favorite online comments from the Justin Bieber baby drama</p>
Post date: Monday, October 3, 2011 - 14:32
All taxonomy terms: Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox, MLB
Path: /mlb/cubs-or-white-sox-%E2%80%94-which-managers-job-better
Body:

— by Mark Ross

Even though the baseball season on the field ended for both Chicago teams yesterday, it figures to be an active and interesting offseason for both Windy City clubs. For starters, the Cubs are looking for a new general manager and earlier this week Ozzie Guillen decided to take his managerial talents to South Beach, which means the White Sox will need a new skipper.

In fact, there's a very strong chance that the Cubs will be looking for a new manager as well. Consider that the current one, Mike Quade, was hired by the former general manager, Jim Hendry, who was relieved of his duties in August. In other words, Quade may have a contract, but his job security is tenuous at best since the new GM may decide to hire his own man rather than stick with the one he inherits.

So for the sake of argument and to have some fun, let's compare these two managerial jobs and offer an opinion of which one — Cubs or White Sox — is more appealing.

Ownership:

Let's start at the top. The Ricketts family bought the Cubs, Wrigley Field and a share of Chicago SportsNet in 2009 from the Tribune Company. Tom Ricketts serves as chairman of the Cubs and is in charge of day-to-day operations. Jerry Reinsdorf has owned the White Sox since 1981 and the Chicago Bulls since 1985.

Obviously Reinsdorf has far more experience as an owner compared to Ricketts and both of his teams have won championships. The White Sox won the World Series in 2005, while the Bulls won six NBA championships in the '90s. Reinsdorf has a reputation of being one of the most influential owners in all of baseball and certainly has the respect of his peers.

Ricketts, who is ending his second full season of running the Cubs, has admitted publicly that his tenure to this far can be best described as on-the-job training. A life-long Cub fan himself, Ricketts also has stated that his and his family's top priority regarding their ownership is to win the World Series and they are willing to do whatever it takes to accomplish this goal.

Setting aside past history for the moment, the Ricketts have already demonstrated their commitment to this goal through organizational changes and have announced their desires to spend a significant amount of money on improving Wrigley Field and the amenities and entertainment options surrounding the ballpark.

Advantage: Push. Reinsdorf is more experienced and certainly has the championship pedigree as evidence he knows what he's doing, but there's a certain appeal to working with the new kid on the block, if you will, especially when it's an owner who is passionate about his franchise and wants to win.

Front Office:

Kenny Williams has been the White Sox GM for 11 years. Williams has become known for his willingness to make moves or do whatever he thinks is necessary to make his club better. Look no further than 2004 when he completely overhauled the roster, moves that were instrumental to bringing about the 2005 championship season.

Williams also is not shy when it comes to expressing his opinions regarding the team's performance or specific players, both current and former. He also has a history of volatile relationships within his own organization, most notably his relationship with Guillen, whom he hired in 2003. Many published reports suggest that outside of the lack of a contract extension, the main reason behind the White Sox and Guillen parting ways was the state of his relationship with Williams.

The Cubs GM is to be determined. A decision on who most likely won't be made until after the World Series, but given the names that have already been suggested — including New York Yankees' GM Brian Cashman, Boston Red Sox GM Theo Epstein, Oakland A's GM Billy Beane and Tampa Bay Rays GM Andrew Friedman — it appears that Ricketts will have no lack of quality choices. And even if Ricketts decides to go with someone who's not a current GM, whoever it is will want a manager they know they can get along and work with.

Advantage: Cubs. Williams has an impressive resume during his tenure as the White Sox GM, but also has a history of volatile working relationships and somewhat of an itchy trigger-finger when it comes to roster moves. On the other hand, the open Cubs' GM position, even if it's filled by a current incumbent who works for another team, presents an opportunity for both GM and manager to start, and potentially make, their own history together.

Organizational Resources:
(Shape of roster, salary obligations for 2012, state of minor league organizations)

The White Sox finished the season 79-83, in third place in the AL Central. This is a team that failed to live up to preseason expectations that had it competing for the division title. Much of the blame can be attributed to the offense as Adam Dunn finished with more strikeouts (177) than points on his batting average (.159), while Alex Rios (.227, 13 HR, 44 RBI) didn't fare much better. The starting rotation didn't match its production from the 2010 season and an early-season bullpen meltdown put the Sox in a hole they were never able to climb out of.

Looking ahead, there will be some roster turnover for the Sox in 2012, but unless Williams gets creative and/or goes the fire-sale route again, the team will look pretty much like it did this year. The Sox had an opening-day payroll of $128 million this season and thanks to the large and lengthy contracts of Dunn, Paul Konerko, Jake Peavy and Rios, already have nearly $90 million in payroll commitments for next year. And that doesn't count the expected raises for arbitration-eligible players like John Danks and Carlos Quentin.

Considering this season's payroll was the highest-ever for the Sox, Williams Williams will have about $40 million to sign the arbitration-eligible players and fill other holes on the roster, provided payroll stays around this season's level. With the expected departures of free agents Mark Buehrle and Juan Pierre, the Sox figure to be in the market for a corner outfielder and at least one starting pitcher, but that could change depending on whatever moves Williams make.

The White Sox's minor league system is widely considered to be among the worst in baseball, so the outlook for home-grown help in the coming years doesn't appear to be too promising.

There's no debate that the White Sox had a better season on the field than the Cubs, who finished 71-91, good for fourth in an NL Central that included an Astros team that lost 106 games. A slow start by the big hitters and early injuries in the starting rotation exacerbated the organization's lack of major-league-ready pitching depth and taxed a relatively inexperienced bullpen.

To make matters worse, another Carlos Zambrano meltdown took all the focus from the product on the field and preceded the dismissal of the GM and ushered in the talk, from both fans, pundits and players alike about what changes need to be made.

How drastic these changes will be is up to the next GM and ownership, but there will be changes made. For one, the 2012 payroll, which was about $10 million less to start this season compared to 2010, figures to stay flat, or it could be pared down some more.

That doesn't mean there won't be any money for the new GM to spend mind you. Thanks to expiring contracts, the Cubs have about $73 million committed for next season. That number could either rise or drop further depending upon what happens with three key players — Aramis Ramirez, Alfonso Soriano and Zambrano.

Ramirez has a $16 million mutual option for 2012 with a $2 million buyout. Earlier this season he expressed a desire to stay with the Cubs and sign a contract extension, but more recently he has said he wants to go play for a contender. He said he is even willing to waive the buyout so he can become a free agent.

Likewise Soriano, who still has three years and $57 million left on his infamous contract, has also stated publicly that a change of scenery may be best for both parties. What remains to be seen is how much of his contract would the Cubs be willing to pay to appease any potential trade partners, if there are any.

And then there's Zambrano. Anyone who doesn't think he and the Cubs need a divorce is kidding themselves, but besides his volatile temperament and decline in production, he comes with a $18 million price tag for next season. Even if the Cubs are able to find someone who will take Big Z off of their hands, he's still going to leave his mark on the team payroll next year.

Still, even with these questions and the expected raises for arbitration-eligible players like Matt Garza and Geovany Soto, the new GM figures to have anywhere between $40-$50 million to spend to round out his team, if payroll stays around 2011 levels. Whether or not the new GM and ownership wants to spend it all this offseason on the likes of a Prince Fielder or Albert Pujols or a starting pitcher or two, is up to them, but at the very least, it appears they can. And that's got to be music to the manager's ears.

The Cubs' minor league system took a hit with the players sent to the Rays in the Garza deal, but it is still recognized as being fairly deep, especially in the lower levels. So while there may not be many Starlin Castro-types on the horizon, it figures to produce enough quality major league players that will be able to contribute in the coming years.

Advantage: Cubs. The North Siders have more resources from top to bottom and depending on what happens this offseason could present the new manager with an opportunity to drastically overhaul the big-league roster.

Tradition:
Let's get this out of the way first. Yes, the Cubs haven't won the World Series since 1908, while the White Sox have won one this century. In fact, the White Sox have more World Series titles (three) than the Cubs (two) in their respective histories. The White Sox also have been the better team than the Cubs in recent history, as the South Siders have more wins than their counterparts from the north side since 2000. However, both clubs have been to the playoffs three times apiece in that span.

But regardless of the Cubs' century-plus championship-drought, Chicago is, and forever will be, a Cubs town. For starters, the White Sox have U.S. Cellular Field, aka The Cell, while the Cubs have Wrigley Field. Really, does anything else need to be said here? OK, then how about this: even though the Cubs finished with a worse record, they still drew three million in attendance at Wrigley Field, reaching that mark for the eighth straight season. The White Sox barely cracked the two million mark and were at 61 percent capacity at The Cell on the season.

And while the city was certainly captivated by the White Sox's 2005 championship season, it would pale into comparison to what would happen should the Cubs win the World Series.

There's no disputing that Guillen will forever be remembered and cherished for bringing a championship to the South Side, despite the fact that next season he will be managing the Marlins and not the White Sox.

But on both the local and national stage, his celebrity status won't come anywhere close to that of the manager who ends the Curse of the Billy Goat and all that by leading the Cubs to a World Series title.

In fact, that manager may even rival, if not eclipse, the celebrity status of another famous Chicago coach, one who is so famous and revered he goes by one name — Ditka. Ask any true Chicago sports fan and that's saying something.

Advantage: Cubs. And it's not even close. Chicago is certainly no stranger to championship teams — the Bears, Blackhawks, Bulls and White Sox have each won at least one title in the past 25 years — but if the Cubs were to win a World Series there would be a city-wide celebration the world has never seen. And what manager wouldn't want to be a part of that ticker-tape parade?

Conclusion: Cubs. Chicago is a great baseball city with more than enough passionate fans for both teams. However, when it comes to the whole package — ownership, front office, organizational outlook and tradition — there's just no debate which managerial job is better. One presents a chance to make a name for yourself and possibly become famous; the other presents a chance to make history and most likely become an icon.

Teaser:
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Post date: Thursday, September 29, 2011 - 14:05
Path: /news/antonio-gates-foot-might-sit-out-weeks-3-5-could-be-good-fantasy-owners
Body:

Antonio Gates is having a bad season. He started 2011 off with a fantasy bang. He recorded 8 receptions for 73 yards against the Vikings in the first game of the season. He didn't find the end zone, but Gates owners in PPR leagues weren't complaining.

Then, in week two, things started to go downhill. Going against the Patriots, Gates was held without a catch. But everyone has a bad game from time to time, right? And the Patriots have a knack for shutting down opposing team's best players.

But in week 3 the bad news got even worse. Gates was a late scratch after it became clear that his foot injury wasn't getting better. But it's just one game, right?

Wrong.

On Monday news came down the pike that his foot injury was actually much worse than originally thought. Gates had torn the scar tissue on his plantar fascitis and he's now considering sitting out for weeks 3-5 in an attempt to let his injury completely heal so he can be 100% for the rest of the season.

Gates will be going through more tests to figure out the best plan of action going forward, so stay tuned to see what his decision is.

The question is, should more players do this? Take Arian Foster, for example. If he hadn't tried to push his hamstring injury in week 2, would he have been 100% in week 3 instead of benched? Other players who are nicked up and playing at less than 100% should consider taking themselves out of the lineup for a week or two when it makes sense. 

Players like Hakeem Nicks aren't helping their team playing at half speed because of an injury. Let the backups go in and do their job for a week and come back ready to perform at the level fantasy owners can expect.

Beanie Wells is a perfect example from last year. In 2010, he played through a knee injury all season. And to be blunt, he sucked. The first two games of this year, he's been the player the Cardinals expected him to be (and then he apparently took himself out of Week 3's game with a strained hammy.)

I know it's not the macho thing to do, but looking at how well some back-ups have performed this year (Ben Tate, Cadillac Williams etc) maybe in this age of NFL parity, letting a fresh, hungry player come fill-in for a game or two here and there can be what's best for the team (both fantasy and otherwise).

Teaser:
<p> The Chargers tight end may bench himself as a precautionary measure</p>
Post date: Tuesday, September 27, 2011 - 18:24
All taxonomy terms: Rams Rules, St. Louis Rams, News
Path: /news/st-louis-rams-rules-parody-better-original-video
Body:

St. Louis "Ram Rules" Round Two from JoeSportsFan.com on Vimeo.

A few weeks ago, the St. Louis Rams came out with one of those cheesy, produced videos that was called "Rams Rules" where a bunch of people from the Rams marketing department thought it would be funny if they put a bunch of jokes and buzz words that people in marketing departments find funny and interesting and made a video. 

The video was a bunch of guys dressed in pseudo-wrestling gear screaming that Rams fans who attend games are the "12th Ram" (a play on the 12th man, get it?). Anyhoo, they had a bunch of"wacky" rules that Rams fans should follow to properly amp up the crowd during Rams games.

Well, someone found the Rams Rules video as stupid as everyone else did and made this video that is much more awesome than the original. Enjoy.

Teaser:
<p> Everyone needs to know Rams Rules 2 by heart</p>
Post date: Tuesday, September 27, 2011 - 17:17
Path: /news/frank-gore-expected-play-add-kendall-hunter-anyway
Body:

Frank Gore is going to get hurt. That's a certainty up there with death and taxes. And in the 49ers Week 3 game against the Bengals (which was a horrible game to watch, by the way), Frank made that certainty a reality when he turned an ankle.

Gore left the game intermittently and was spelled by the much more exciting Kendall Hunter.

According to 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh, Gore is "good to go" for Week 4, but we recommend picking up Kendall Hunter anyway. Think of it like an insurance policy that's definitely going to pay off.

While both backs haven't really lit it up this season (Gore has a 2.5 ypc, while Hunter is only slightly better at 2.7), but Hunter brings a level of excitement and change of pace to the 49ers offense that Gore hasn't had this year. Call it a spark, or a hunger, but it seems that since Gore got his new contract, he hasn't had the same explosiveness that he has in recent years. Maybe he's just hitting the dreaded running back wall.

Either way, it will take an injury to Gore to make Hunter their full-time back (they paid Frank too much money to let him sit on the bench), but Gore will almost assuredly miss a few games as the season drags on, and when he does, you'll have a pass catching, exciting back to slot in your flex position.

San Fran's offense isn't going to light up anyone for 35 points, but in a PPR league, Hunter would make a great addition to your starting lineup if and when he gets the #1 back role.

Teaser:
<p> Frank Gore is going to miss time this season. That's a given.</p>
Post date: Tuesday, September 27, 2011 - 11:04
All taxonomy terms: BYU Cougars, Utah Utes, Overtime, News
Path: /overtime/young-utah-utes-fan-really-hates-byu-video
Body:

This little Utah Utes fan really doesn't like the BYU Cougars. As you can see in this video, he starts bawling and crying when his dad plays a trick on him and tells him he didn't buy him a Utes Jersey, but he bought him a BYU jersey instead.

He immediately starts with the waterworks and let's everyone in the car know that is NOT a BYU fan. He's a Utah fan!

Someone should commend this kid's dad for making sure his son is a huge fan of his favorite college football team. He may want to tone down the crying, though, before he shows him off in public.

Teaser:
<p> A little kid starts crying when his dad tells him he's bought him a BYU jersey</p>
Post date: Tuesday, September 27, 2011 - 11:01
Path: /news/adam-dunn-will-end-season-more-strikeouts-batting-average
Body:

Adam Dunn used to be a good baseball player. He was one of those guys that you penciled in for 35-40 homers every year. Sure, eh struck out a few times, and sure, you'd never mistake his batting average for Ichiro's, but he was a guy who did one thing (hit homers) and he did it well.

But this season has been very different for the Chicago White Sox DH. His move to the American League had a horrific effect on his game. Maybe he was a guy who needed to play the field to keep his head in the game. Whatever the case, Adam Dunn had not only his worst season in the majors, but he has had one of the worst season's in major league history.

To put a cherry on it, and to tell you everything you need to know about Dunn's season, he is going to finish with a higher number of strikeouts than his batting average.

There are still two games to go, but Dunn currently has 174 Ks on the season, and is batting a whopping .160. Yes, one hundred and sixty. To put it in perspective, Dunn's career batting average (when you take this horrible season into account) is .244. He's fallen off .80 points. And he's playing in one of the most hitter-friendly ballparks in the majors.

Dunn, who's currently wallowing in a 0-20 slump wuld need to go an epic 4-4 in the last two games to push his batting average higher than 174. 

And that's not going to happen. With news that Ozzie Guillen and the White Sox just parted ways, I wonder if Dunn is feeling some of the blame for that break-up. I doubt the Marlins will make a bid for Dunn's services anytime soon.

Teaser:
<p> Adam Dunn has had an epically bad season for the Chicago White Sox</p>
Post date: Tuesday, September 27, 2011 - 10:31

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