Articles By Athlon Sports

All taxonomy terms: News
Path: /nascar/kahne-tops-talladega-qualifying
Body:

Talladega, AL (Sports Network) - Kasey Kahne claimed the pole for the Good Sam Roadside Assistance 500 -- the fourth race in the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship -- after posting the quickest lap in Saturday's qualifying at Talladega Superspeedway.

Kahne, who is one of the 12 drivers in the Chase field, turned a lap at 191.455 mph for his third pole of the season and the 25th of his Sprint Cup Series career. It will be the first time he starts up front for a race at this 2.66-mile superspeedway.

"It's fun to get my first pole at Talladega," Kahne said. "It's a tough track, and I've never done that. (The car) felt good, and we'll see how it runs tomorrow. It ran great (in practice) yesterday and really well today."

Ryan Newman, who is not in the Chase this year, secured the outside pole with a lap at 191.145 mph.

Title contenders Clint Bowyer, Tony Stewart, Greg Biffle and Jeff Gordon qualified third through sixth, respectively. Bowyer has won the last two fall Sprint Cup races at Talladega.

"I thought we were going to qualify poorly, and we didn't," Bowyer said. "We're in the top-five and certainly up front, and we need to try to stay there and stay out of trouble. Certainly going to race up there as much as I can until something crazy happens."

Carl Edwards, Trevor Bayne, Martin Truex Jr., a Chase driver, and Sam Hornish Jr. completed the top-10.

The remaining Chase drivers and their starting positions include: Dale Earnhardt Jr. (12th), Matt Kenseth (15th), Jimmie Johnson (17th), Kevin Harvick (21st), Brad Keselowski (22nd) and Denny Hamlin (23rd).

Keselowski currently holds a five-point lead over Johnson and a 16-point advantage over Hamlin. Bowyer is 25 markers out of the lead, while Stewart and Kahne both trail by 32. Keselowski has won two of the first three Chase races. He also won the spring event at Talladega in May.

"The best strategy is to be the guy who doesn't wreck, but you don't know until after the race," Keselowski said. "Things happen so fast late in the race here that even the best strategy can get thrown out the window. I just want to be there with five laps to go."

All 43 drivers who attempted qualifying made the starting field for Sunday's 500-mile race at Talladega, which is scheduled to start just after 2 p.m. (ET).

Teaser:
Kasey Kahne claimed the pole for the Good Sam Roadside Assistance 500 -- the fourth race in the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship -- after posting the quickest lap in Saturday's qualifying at Talladega Superspeedway.
Post date: Saturday, October 6, 2012 - 22:00
All taxonomy terms: News
Path: /nfl/titans-qb-locker-out-sunday
Body:

Nashville, TN (Sports Network) - Tennessee Titans quarterback Jake Locker has been ruled out for Sunday's contest against the Minnesota Vikings with a left shoulder injury.

The club's injury report on Friday confirmed the move, as it revealed Locker did not participate in practice at all this week.

Locker left Sunday's 38-14 loss to the Houston Texans when he was hit by Houston's Glover Quin midway through the first quarter. He stayed on the ground for several minutes before heading back to the locker room with his left arm tucked against his chest. He returned to the sideline in the second quarter in street clothes with his left arm in a sling.

The Titans listed linebackers Patrick Bailey (hand) and Colin McCarthy (ankle), wideout Kenny Britt (ankle), tackle Mike Otto (finger) and defensive end Scott Solomon (hamstring) as questionable.

Tight end Jared Cook was deemed probable after participating fully in practice on Friday after having been limited on Wednesday and Thursday.

Teaser:
<p> Tennessee Titans quarterback Jake Locker has been ruled out for Sunday's contest against the Minnesota Vikings with a left shoulder injury.</p>
Post date: Friday, October 5, 2012 - 16:06
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy Football, NFL, Fantasy
Path: /nfl/2012-fantasy-football-start-or-sit-week-5
Body:

Indianapolis and Pittsburgh are both back in action in Week 5, but Dallas, Detroit, Oakland and Tampa Bay all get a break, which means even more players will be unavailable this week compared to last. Those who have Matthew Stafford or Tony Romo will be looking for a starting quarterback, while owners will also have to find a way to make do without Calvin Johnson, Darren McFadden and others this week.

Byes aside, everyone has to get their teams in order for this weekend’s action, and Athlon Sports is here to help you make those important lineup decisions for your Yahoo!, NFL.com or ESPN fantasy football league with our weekly Start and Sit suggestions. Keep in mind these are merely our suggestions as the ultimate decision comes down to you, the owner.

Week 5 Positional Rankings

Week 5 Waiver Wire

Bye week teams: Dallas, Detroit, Oakland, Tampa Bay

Sneaky Start of the Week
Ryan Mathews, RB, San Diego at New Orleans
No doubt, Mathews owners were a little worried if they took a look at the box score from San Diego’s 37-20 victory over Kansas City last week. If they did, they would have seen that Mathews had 14 carries and two receptions, but Jackie Battle had 15 and four, not to mention two touchdowns and 12.9 more fantasy points (22.1 to 9.2).

Some of this discrepancy can be explained in that Chargers head coach Norv Turner apparently benched Mathews at the start of the game due to a Week 3 fumble. While nothing was announced or, more impressively, was leaked regarding this decision prior to kickoff, what’s more telling is that after it came to light both the running back and coach seemed to be on the same page about it. In other words, message delivered, message received, let’s move on.

Unfortunately, further developments, namely the fact that Battle, and not Mathews, is currently listed atop the Chargers’ depth chart, would lead one to assume that this perhaps this matter isn’t over. Last week and depth chart positioning aside, I am fairly confident that it will only be a matter of time before this is behind everyone and that Mathews resumes his rightful place as the Chargers’ No. 1 back.

In fact, I am willing to go so far as to say that regardless of whether he starts or not this Sunday in New Orleans, that Mathews will do more than enough damage to merit starting for your fantasy team. The Saints are dead last in the NFL in both total defense and rushing defense, as they are allowing 186.8 yards on the ground. That’s more than enough for both Battle and Mathews to get theirs, and then some.

New Orleans also is allowing more than 30 fantasy points per game to opposing running backs, including 21.6 to Alfred Morris in Week 1 and 37.8 to Jamaal Charles in Week 3. While I don’t anticipate either Mathews or Battle reaching either of those levels, I am expecting them to do something along the lines of what the Carolina duo of Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams did in Week 2. In that game, Williams had more carries and rushing yards than Stewart, but Stewart was more productive as a receiver and ended up with slightly more fantasy points (13.3 to 12.9). Mathews is more versatile and more of a threat out of the backfield as a receiver than Battle, and I am expecting him to do a little more damage that way against the Saints, which will help him to finish with more fantasy points than his teammate.

Surprise Sit of the Week
Maurice Jones-Drew, RB, Jacksonville vs. Chicago
I know, I know. You never sit your studs. In general this is a theory I subscribe to, so by naming MJD here, I am not necessarily saying that you MUST sit him. I am merely trying to prepare his owners for what I believe will be a fairly pedestrian day at the office this Sunday.

Jones-Drew is currently seventh in the NFL in rushing with 352 yards and is averaging nearly five yards per carry. Quite an accomplishment considering he missed basically all of the preseason because of a contract holdout. However, a closer look at his numbers reveal that he’s had one fantastic game and three fairly ordinary ones.

In Week 3 against Indianapolis, Jones-Drew rambled for 177 yards on 28 carries (6.3 ypc) and a touchdown. In the three other games he has 175 yards on 54 carries (3.2 ypc) and no scores. Chicago is currently third in the league in rushing defense, allowing just 67.3 yards per game, 3.6 yards per carry, and the Bears have given up just one rushing touchdown.

Fantasy-wise, the Bears are allowing the third-fewest points to opposing running backs, having already shut down DeMarco Murray and Steven Jackson. Cedric Benson’s 81 yards in Week 2 is by far the most rushing yards they have allowed to a single back so far, and that was in a game in which Green Bay intercepted Bears quarterback Jay Cutler four times.

Jones-Drew is the best running back the Bears have faced yet, no argument here. However, the Monsters of the Midway have been up to the task to this point when it comes to defending the run. More importantly, I just don’t see Jaguars second-year quarterback Blaine Gabbert faring any better than Tony Romo (5 INTs), Aaron Rodgers (1 TD, 1 INT) or Andrew Luck (1 TD, 3 INTs) did against the Bears’ D, allowing the Monsters of the Midway to focus their attention on stopping MJD. Jones-Drew won’t be shut out, he’s  too talented and tough for that, but he’s going to have to earn every yard he gets this Sunday, and I just don’t think it will be all that many.

Quarterbacks
START

Andrew Luck (IND) vs. GB
Since throwing three interceptions in his pro debut in Chicago, Luck has a 4:1 touchdown-to-interception ratio. Outside of Jay Cutler, Green Bay has allowed the opposing quarterback to score at least 19 fantasy points, and gave up 35.8 to Drew Brees in last week’s win at home. Luck isn’t Brees, not yet anyways, but he’s more than capable of taking what the defense allows and finding a way to move his team down the field. The Colts have allowed just five sacks in their first three games, which will be key against the Packers. I think they find a way to keep Luck upright, and if anything, the game situation will probably allow Luck plenty of opportunities to air it out in the second half.

Alex Smith (SF) vs. BUF
Smith posted back-to-back solid games to open the season, but has seen his production decline since then. Against Minnesota he saw his franchise record for passes without an interception come to an end. Then last week against the Jets, he didn’t need to throw the ball that much as the 49ers rushed for more than 250 yards and dominated the proceedings from start to finish. That could very well be the case this Sunday against Buffalo, but instead I am saying the coaching staff will let Smith take a few more shots down field against a Bills defense that is allowing the fifth-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks.

Christian Ponder (MIN) vs. TEN
The Vikings’ young quarterback is 8th in the league in passer rating and has yet to throw an interception. However, he’s also 25th in the league in passing yards, 22nd in passing attempts and has just four touchdown passes in four games. If there’s ever a week to let the second-year starter air it out it’s this week. Tennessee is allowing opponents to complete more than 75 percent of their passes, 285 yards per game through the air, and has given up 10 touchdown passes compared to just one interception. The Vikings’ offense also finally got Jerome Simpson back from suspension last week, giving Ponder another weapon in the passing game, along with fellow receiver Percy Harvin and tight end Kyle Rudolph.

SIT
Cam Newton (CAR) vs. Seattle

It probably seems like I’m picking on Newton, but actually I’m not. He certainly proved me wrong last week with his three-touchdown, zero-turnover effort against Atlanta. However, Seattle’s defense is fourth in the league in total yards allowed and their pass rush is even more disruptive than Atlanta’s. The difference here, in my opinion, is that the Seahawks will be able to contain Newton in the pocket more and limit his yards if he does escape. I also don’t see Newton finishing this game without turning it over at least once, even if this one is at home.

Michael Vick (PHI) at PIT
Like Newton, Vick is a dual threat who can hurt you with both his arm and his legs. Vick’s biggest issue so far has been turnovers, as he’s already produced nine (6 INTs, 3 fumbles) of them. However, Vick didn’t turn the ball over once in leading his Eagles to a win over the Giants this past Sunday night, and Pittsburgh’s defense has only produced three takeaways of its own. So why is Vick in the Sit section, you ask? 1) I don’t think Vick plays another turnover-free game, he’s been somewhat erratic (56.8 completion rate) when he’s thrown the ball, and hasn’t been all that dangerous (4.8 ypc) when running it. 2) The Steelers welcome back hard-hitters and defensive leaders Troy Polamalu and James Harrison this Sunday, have had an extra week to get healthy and prepare for Vick and the Eagles, and have allowed only 190 yards passing per game so far. Also, while Vick didn’t turn the ball over a single time against the Giants, he still only put up 20.5 fantasy points. I just don’t see him putting together a big game in this one.

Ryan Fitzpatrick (BUF) at SF
Fitzpatrick leads the league in touchdown passes with 12 and is tied for second in interceptions with seven. He had four of each in the Bills’ 52-28 loss to New England last Sunday. This week the Bills are in San Francisco to take on a 49ers defense that’s sixth in the league in passing defense and has already held in check both Aaron Rodgers and Matthew Stafford. Chances are Fitzpatrick will finish Week 5 as a league leader, but my thinking is that it will be for interceptions and not touchdowns. Several solid starting quarterbacks are already missing this week because they are on bye, but I still think there are better options out there than Fitzpatrick for Week 5.

Running Backs
START

Cedric Benson (GB) at IND

After a slow start out of the gates in Week 1 against San Francisco, Benson has averaged 95.3 total yards and 13.5 fantasy points over his last three games. The biggest omission from his production to this point has been the end zone, as in he’s yet to find it. Green Bay’s offense obviously goes through Rodgers and his right arm, but the Packers have put more emphasis on the running game as of late. Here’s saying that continues against Indianapolis, who is giving up 131.3 yards per game rushing.

Alfred Morris (WAS) vs. ATL
Morris has gone from a nice story during training camp to surprise Week 1 starter to, dare I say it, reliable fantasy option. The main reason for this is twofold – Morris is getting the touches (averaging 20.5 carries per game) and the rest of the ‘Skins backfield is either banged up (or worse) or has been ineffective when given an opportunity. The bottom line is this – Morris is the man right now in the backfield and you want to keep rolling with him this week against an Atlanta defense that’s 29th in the league against the run.

Pierre Thomas (NO) vs. SD
Yes, the Saints also have Darren Sproles and Mark Ingram in their backfield, but this recommendation of Thomas is more of a usage thing. Thomas is second to Ingram in carries by only four fewer attempts, but he’s leading the team by far in rushing yards (152). What’s more, Thomas is fifth on the team in both receptions (11) and targets (16), meaning he’s getting his chances as a receiver too. Sproles is the undisputed backfield receiver, but Brees throws enough and spreads it out enough for others, like Thomas, to benefit. This week’s match-up with San Diego looks to be one of those prime opportunities as the Chargers have given up the third-most receptions (32) to opposing running backs. These factors make Thomas an appealing RB3/flex option this week.

SIT
Michael Turner (ATL) at WAS
Turner turned back the clock last week against Carolina, rushing for 103 yards and also taking a pass 60 yards for a touchdown. It was good to see Turner show off some of that speed and breakaway ability that seemed to be missing at the start of the season. Then again, this was against the Panthers, who are allowing the most fantasy points to opposing running backs. This week, I think the going will be a little tougher for Turner against Washington, who is giving up 89 yards on the ground per game. I also expect the Falcons to attack the Redskins’ 31st-ranked pass defense a little more than they will run it, which in turn limits Turner’s opportunities.

BenJarvus Green-Ellis (CIN) vs. MIA
The Law Firm can’t seem to get out of his own way. He’s getting the carries (averaging 20.5 per game), but not the yards (286, 3.5 ypc) or the touchdowns (2 total). He hasn’t been much of a threat out of the backfield (6 rec., 46 yds.) and has already lost two fumbles, which is uncharacteristic of him. Miami is No. 1 in the league in rush defense, as the Dolphins are giving up just 56.8 yards per game and 2.4 yards per carry. This seems like a pretty good week to leave BJGE on your bench.

Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller (BUF) at SF
I’m sure Jackson and Spiller owners alike were happy to see their guys back in action last Sunday against New England. I’m not so sure how they felt after the duo combined for 117 total yards, no scores and two lost fumbles, or a total of 10.2 fantasy points. That’s not enough for a starting running back and this was their combined output. Both seemed to make it through no worse for the wear in coming back from their respective injuries, but this also means they will be sharing the touches from here out. I’m not saying there’s not enough opportunities for each to produce, and I am curious to see how the timeshare plays out (who gets the most carries, what’s the breakdown). Just not this week, in San Francisco against a 49ers defense that’s allowing 3.2 yards per carry, has surrendered one rushing touchdown so far and has yielded less than 10 fantasy points per game to opposing running backs. No thank you.

Wide Receivers
START

Domenik Hixon (NYG) vs. CLE
In Week 3 against Carolina, Ramses Barden exploded for nine catches and 138 yards starting in place of an injured Hakeem Nicks AND Hixon, who missed the game due to concussion-related symptoms. Hixon returned last week to catch nine passes for 104 yards and a touchdown, as Nicks missed a second straight game. Nicks isn’t playing again this week against Cleveland, who is allowing the second-most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers and is still missing Joe Haden, their best defensive back. Barden isn’t expected to play either as he suffered a concussion in last week’s loss to the Eagles. So who does that leave?

James Jones (GB) at IND
One could make the argument that Jones, who is leading the Packers in touchdown catches with three, is second in yards (191) and fourth in receptions (16), is already a decent WR3/flex option. This argument only gets stronger with the knowledge that Greg Jennings will miss this week’s game (and possibly more) because of a groin injury. Jones may not get the official start opposite Jordy Nelson, but he’ll be out there plenty and should get strong consideration to receive the start from you if you own him or choose to pick him up.

Kendall Wright (TEN) vs. MIN
Wright leads all rookie wide receivers in catches with 18 and while he may not have accumulated lots of yards (148, 8.2 ypc) so far, it’s clear he’s getting plenty of opportunities. Even though he’s the Titans’ No. 3 receiver, he leads the team in targets by 13 over tight end Jared Cook and with fellow wideout Kenny Britt hampered by an ankle injury that could keep him out another week, this trend should continue. Also it’s worth pointing out that Wright’s first career touchdown pass, an 11-yarder in the fourth quarter at Houston last week, came courtesy of Matt Hasselbeck. Why’s that significant you ask? Because it’s Hasselbeck, and not Jake Locker, who will be the Titans’ starting quarterback this Sunday against Minnesota, as Locker is out with a shoulder injury. There appears to be no reason to think that Hasselbeck won’t continue to look Wright’s way in the passing game.

SIT
Dwayne Bowe (KC) vs. BAL
This is more of an indictment of Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel than Bowe. Cassel has thrown twice as many interceptions (four) as touchdowns (two) the past two weeks and has completed less than 60 percent of his attempts in that span. Baltimore has been susceptible to the pass, allowing Brandon Weeden to throw for 320 yards last week. However, they also have only allowed two receiving touchdowns so far and are still capable of forcing a turnover or two. Just not crazy about how this appears to be setting up for Bowe and his mates.

Jeremy Maclin (PHI) at PIT
In his defense, Maclin has been dealing with a couple of different hip ailments, which have limited his practice time and kept him from taking the field in Week 3. The real concern, however, is what he’s done when he has played, which is two catches for 30 yards in his last two games. One of those did go for a touchdown, but Maclin owners are looking for and needing more production from him. Unfortunately, I think the hip is still an issue and the Pittsburgh defense, with Troy Polamalu back in the secondary, will be an even bigger one come Sunday. The Eagles are off in Week 7. Maclin owners may have to be patient and hope for better things starting in Week 8. Right now, I don’t think he’s startable.

Pierre Garcon (WAS) vs. ATL
Similar to Maclin, Garcon also has been hampered significantly by a foot injury. Since breaking out for four receptions, 109 yards and a long TD (80 yards) against New Orleans in Week 1, Garcon has played in one game and caught  a total of, wait for it, one pass for 20 yards. He does finally appear to be getting healthier, as he’s been practicing fully for the first time in weeks, but his absence has allowed others, namely receiver Leonard Hankerson and tight end Fred Davis, to work on chemistry with rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III. Until Garcon makes it through an entire game and posts some decent numbers, you may want to stash him away and hope Week 1 doesn’t end up as his lone highlight for this season.

Tight Ends
START

Fred Davis (WAS) vs. ATL
In Washington’s first two games, Davis caught a combined four passes for 52 yards. In the past two, he’s caught 11 for 160. The only bugaboo that remains is he’s still searching for his first touchdown. I think that changes this week against the Falcons, who allowed Carolina’s Greg Olsen to go for 6-89-1 last week.

Joel Dreessen (DEN) at NE
Denver has two reliable tight ends in Jacob Tamme and Dreessen. Tamme is leading his position mate in targets, receptions and yards rather comfortably. However, Dreessen has two touchdowns to Tamme’s one. New England is allowing the second-most fantasy points to tight ends and Peyton Manning is not afraid to throw to either of his. Tamme may be the safer pick here because he gets more opportunities, but I say Dreessen is the one who makes the most of his by finding the end zone this Sunday in Foxboro.

SIT
Heath Miller (PIT) vs. PHI
Miller is tied for second in the league with four touchdown catches and he’s had an extra week to let his ribs heal completely. That’s great for Miller and his owners, but here’s what’s not: the Eagles are allowing the third-fewest fantasy points to opposing tight ends and held the Giants’ Martellus Bennett (No. 6 TE in fantasy) to one catch for two yards last week. Miller owners may be better off if they extend his break another week.

Tony Moeaki (KC) vs. BAL
Kevin Boss has been sidelined by injury, which theoretically should open up the door for Moeaki. Remember, Moeaki burst on the scene in 2010 when he caught 47 passes for 556 yards and three touchdowns as a rookie. Unfortunately, he hasn’t been the same since he tore his ACL during the preseason last year and has just nine catches for 76 yards and no touchdowns so far. There’s no telling when, or if, Moeaki will return to his rookie-year form and no reason why he should even be on your radar right now.

Defense/Special Teams
START

Minnesota Vikings vs. Tennessee Titans
The Vikings are fourth among defense/special teams in fantasy scoring. They are capable of getting after the quarterback (12 sacks) and the big kick return (2 TDs). The Titans’ offense has been inconsistent to start the season, is making a switch at quarterback (although Matt Hasselbeck has plenty of starting experience), and  is allowing 27.4 yards (eighth-highest in NFL) on kickoff returns. Seems like a decent match-up to me, no?

Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Philadelphia Eagles
This is certainly not a pick based on statistics. Granted the Steelers have only played three games so far, but they still have a total of just five sacks and three turnovers on defense. No, this choice is more circumstance-driven, if you will, as the Steel Curtain happily welcomes back two of its key members – safety Troy Polamalu and linebacker James Harrison. Do I think the addition of two All-Pro playmakers to the Steelers’ defense will make that much of a difference? Yes, yes, I do and we will see why starting this Sunday against the Eagles.

SIT
Green Bay Packers vs. Indianapolis Colts
The Packers are doing a good job of getting to the quarterback (14 sacks, 4th in the NFL), but they aren’t really forcing that many turnovers. The Colts have done a pretty good job of protecting Andrew Luck (5 sacks allowed, tied for 29th) and since throwing three picks against Chicago, he’s had only one interception in his past two games. I think the Colts’ offensive line will give Luck enough time and the rookie will continue to take care of the ball in a game that allows the home team to pile up some yards and put some points on the board against the Packers.

New York Jets vs. Houston (Monday)
As bad as the Jets’ offense has been recently, the defense hasn’t exactly been stellar. They gave up 254 yards on the ground against San Francisco last week and have just five sacks on the season. Enter an undefeated Texans team that loves to run the ball (most rushing attempts in NFL) and has given up a total of three sacks in four games. The Jets’ offense won’t be able to put up much of a fight against a stout Texans’ defense, which allows the Texans to wear down the Jets and pound them into submission with the ground game by the second half.

Kickers
START

Blair Walsh (MIN) vs. Tennessee
Walsh, a rookie, is 9-of-10 so far on field goal attempts, including three makes from 50 yards and out. He’s attempted more field goals than PATs (9). The Titans are allowing 37.8 points per game, the most in the league. What more could you ask for?

Robbie Gould (CHI) at Jacksonville
The always-reliable Gould is a perfect 20-for-20 on all of his kicks (12 PAT, 8 FG) so far. The thinking here is that his kick distribution evens up a little bit this week. The Bears will be able to drive the ball against the Jaguars, but have to settle for three enough times to allow Gould to put up double digits.

SIT
David Akers (SF) vs. Buffalo
Akers will score, as will the 49ers, but the majority of his kicks against the Bills will count for one point, not three.

Nick Folk (NYJ) vs. Houston (Monday)
The Jets scored no points against San Francisco, the No. 5 defense in the NFL. Next up is Houston, who just happens to be the No. 3 defense. It’s kind of hard for a kicker to score if his team doesn’t/can’t move the ball, right?

— By Mark Ross, published on Oct. 5, 2012

Teaser:
<p> 2012 Fantasy Football Start or Sit: Week 5</p>
Post date: Friday, October 5, 2012 - 06:00
All taxonomy terms: MLB, News
Path: /mlb/red-sox-fire-valentine
Body:

Boston, MA (Sports Network) - The Boston Red Sox have fired manager Bobby Valentine after just one season.

Boston finished the 2012 season last in the American League East with a record of 69-93, the worst for the storied franchise since a 62-100 mark in 1965. He had one year remaining on the contract he signed last winter.

"Our 2012 season was disappointing for many reasons," said Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington in a statement Thursday. "No single issue is the reason, and no single individual is to blame."

The disastrous record wasn't the only problem for Valentine, who was back in a big league dugout for the first time since 2002. He had issues with some of his coaching staff and a few players during the trying campaign.

After the team's meltdown last September, in which a 7-20 record denied the team a playoff berth, the Red Sox parted ways with Terry Francona and hoped the change to Valentine would help restore the luster of two World Series championships.

It didn't. The Red Sox started with three straight losses, never really contended after a 4-10 start and went on to miss the playoffs for the third straight season.

"This season was by far the worst we have experienced in over 10 years here," Red Sox chairman Tom Werner. "Ultimately, we are all collectively responsible for the team's performance. We are going to be working tirelessly to reconstruct the ballclub for 2013. We'll be back."

Valentine kept three members of Francona's coaching staff, and in a radio interview on Wednesday before the season finale against the Yankees said he didn't feel full loyalty from all of his coaches during the season. He didn't mention any names.

It was, likely, the last straw in what had long been rumored -- Valentine's ouster.

"Bobby leaves the Red Sox's manager's office with our respect, gratitude, and affection," said Red Sox president and CEO Larry Lucchino. "I have no doubt that he will continue to contribute to the game he loves so much and knows so well."

Player issues evolved early in the season when Valentine, on April 15, questioned whether Kevin Youkilis had been playing with the same passion as in the past. He quickly apologized, particularly after Dustin Pedroia came to Youkilis' defense. Youkilis was eventually traded to the Chicago White Sox in June.

In mid-August, reports surfaced about a meeting players had with ownership regarding Valentine. It had been speculated that the players asked management for a managerial change in the late July meeting.

Reports had indicated that players were upset when Valentine left pitcher Jon Lester in a blowout game on July 22, a game in which the left-hander gave up 11 runs. Owner John Henry and Pedroia acknowledged that meetings took place, but both denied that players asked for Valentine's removal.

The Red Sox also had plenty of key injuries during the season. Andrew Bailey, acquired from Oakland to be the club's closer, underwent thumb surgery just before the start of the season and didn't return until August, while outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury missed most of the first three months because of a dislocated shoulder. Pedroia also battled a thumb injury and David Ortiz missed the last 2 1/2 months because of an Achilles problem.

With the club quickly fading from contention in late August, the Red Sox then orchestrated one of the biggest post-waiver trades in baseball history by dealing first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, outfielder Carl Crawford, pitcher Josh Beckett and infielder Nick Punto to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

"We've been making personnel changes since August, and we will continue to do so as we build a contending club," Cherington added. "With an historic number of injuries, Bobby was dealt a difficult hand. He did the best he could under seriously adverse circumstances, and I am thankful to him."

Valentine spent six-plus seasons as manager of the New York Mets and parts of eight seasons as skipper of the Texas Rangers. He has an overall big league record of 1,186-1,165 and guided the Mets to the 2000 World Series.

"I understand this decision," said Valentine in the club's release. "This year in Boston has been an incredible experience for me, but I am as disappointed in the results as are ownership and the great fans of Red Sox Nation.

"It was a privilege to be part of the 100 year anniversary of Fenway Park and an honor to be in uniform with such great players and coaches. My best to the organization. I'm sure next year will be a turnaround year."

The Connecticut native also spent time as a manger in Japan, winning the Japan Series title in 2005.

Teaser:
<p> The Boston Red Sox have fired manager Bobby Valentine after just one season.</p>
Post date: Thursday, October 4, 2012 - 14:00
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy football rankings, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /nfl/2012-fantasy-football-running-back-rankings-week-5
Body:

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

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

2012 NFL Week 5 Fantasy Football Rankings — Running Backs

Rk Player Team OPPONENT Notes
1 Arian Foster HOU at NYJ (Mon.) Jets gave up 254 rushing yards to 49ers last week.
2 Ray Rice BAL at KC Could have field day against Chiefs.
3 Marshawn Lynch SEA at CAR Panthers allowing most fantasy points to RBs.
4 Adrian Peterson MIN vs. TEN Almost back to being a Top 10 RB.
5 LeSean McCoy PHI at PIT Should get another heavy workload vs. Steelers.
6 Jamaal Charles KC vs. BAL Ravens D not as fearsome as past years.
7 Frank Gore SF vs. BUF Bills allowed two Patriots to rush for 100+ last week.
8 Maurice Jones-Drew JAC vs. CHI Bears D has been solid against rush.
9 Reggie Bush MIA at CIN Didn't do a lot against Cardinals, but key is knee is OK.
10 Ryan Mathews SD at NO May finally break through against Saints.
11 Trent Richardson CLE at NYG More than held his own against Ravens last week.
12 Matt Forte CHI at JAC Limited, but still had impact on MNF vs. Cowboys.
13 Alfred Morris WAS vs. ATL Had first 100-yard game against Tampa Bay.
14 Chris Johnson TEN at MIN CJ finally got loose (141 yards) against Texans.
15 Stevan Ridley NE vs. DEN Even with Bolden's big day, ran for 100+ and 2 TDs.
16 Michael Turner ATL at WAS Busted out in a big way last week, encore?
17 Cedric Benson GB at IND Has one rushing TD so far.
18 BenJarvus Green-Ellis CIN vs. MIA Dolphins have been good against the rush so far.
19 Willis McGahee DEN at NE Rib issue didn't slow him down (112, TD) vs. Raiders.
20 Darren Sproles NO vs. SD  
21 Ahmad Bradshaw NYG vs. CLE Didn't do much but still got majority of work over Brown.
22 Steven Jackson STL vs. ARI (Thurs.) Questionable (groin) vs. Cardinals, game-time decision.
23 Fred Jackson BUF at SF Got more carries, targets than Spiller last week.
24 Ryan Williams ARI at STL (Thurs.)  
25 C.J. Spiller BUF at SF Shoulder seems OK, but now in timeshare with Jackson.
26 DeAngelo Williams CAR vs. SEA Had most carries of any Panther back against Atlanta.
27 Donald Brown IND vs. GB  
28 Michael Bush CHI at JAC Opportunities could decrease as Forte gets healthier.
29 Rashard Mendenhall PIT vs. PHI Expected to start, but will share carries.
30 Jonathan Stewart CAR vs. SEA Returned, but crowded backfield limits impact.
31 Shonn Greene NYJ vs. HOU (Mon.)  
32 Ben Tate HOU at NYJ (Mon.) Texans not really limiting Foster's workload so far.
33 Kendall Hunter SF vs. BUF  
34 Pierre Thomas NO vs. SD  
35 Jackie Battle SD at NO More touches than Mathews last week, will it continue?
36 Mark Ingram NO vs. SD  
37 Jacquizz Rodgers ATL at WAS  
38 Daniel Thomas MIA at CIN  
39 Brandon Bolden NE vs. DEN One-week wonder or is there a timeshare in NE?
40 Andre Brown NYG vs. CLE Didn't get a lot of chances with Bradshaw back.
41 Isaac Redman PIT vs. PHI Should get his chances even with Mendenhall back.
42 Shaun Draughn KC vs. BAL  
43 Ronnie Hillman DEN at NE Finally got some consistent playing time, more coming?
44 Robert Turbin SEA at CAR Had 45 yards on just six carries last week.
45 Bernard Pierce BAL at KC  
46 Daryl Richardson STL vs. ARI (Thurs.) Will start if S. Jackson (groin) can't go.
47 Bilal Powell NYJ vs. HOU (Mon.)  
48 Toby Gerhart MIN vs. TEN Not getting many chances with AP back.

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

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

Additional Week 5 Positional Rankings

Quarterbacks
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends
Kickers
Defense/Special Teams

Week 5 Start or Sit

Week 5 Waiver Wire

Teaser:
<p> 2012 Fantasy Football Running Back Rankings: Week 5</p>
Post date: Thursday, October 4, 2012 - 06:03
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy football rankings, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /nfl/2012-fantasy-football-positional-rankings-week-5
Body:

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

2012 NFL Week 5 Fantasy Football Rankings

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

Week 5 Start or Sit

Week 5 Waiver Wire

Note: Dallas, Detroit, Oakland and Tampa Bay are all on bye this week.

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

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

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

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

Teaser:
<p> 2012 Fantasy Football Positional Rankings: Week 5</p>
Post date: Thursday, October 4, 2012 - 05:16
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy football rankings, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /nfl/2012-fantasy-football-quarterback-rankings-week-5
Body:

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

Dallas, Detroit, Oakland and Tampa Bay are on bye this week.

2012 NFL Week 5 Fantasy Football Rankings — Quarterbacks

Rk Player Team OPPONENT Notes
1 Aaron Rodgers GB at IND Had best game yet (319-4-1) vs. Saints last week.
2 Drew Brees NO vs. SD Leading league in yards (1,350), 24th in accuracy (57.6).
3 Matt Ryan ATL at WAS No. 1 fantasy QB gets No. 31 passing defense.
4 Tom Brady NE vs. DEN Put up 340 yards passing vs. Bills, 4 TDs (3 pass/1 rush).
5 Eli Manning NYG at CLE Second to Brees in yards, Browns gave up 356 last week.
6 Robert Griffin III WAS vs. ATL Rookie has same number of passing and rushing TDs (4).
7 Peyton Manning DEN at NE No. 18 is 6-10 in regular season vs. Patriots, 36 TDs, 23 INTs.
8 Joe Flacco BAL at KC Ravens throwing more than running, will it continue?
9 Cam Newton CAR vs. SEA Rebounded vs. Falcons, but 'Hawks another tough test.
10 Philip Rivers SD at NO Averaging less than 225 yards per game, breakout vs. NO?
11 Ben Roethlisberger PIT vs. PHI Career vs. Eagles: 1-1, 314 yards, 2 TD, 2 INT total.
12 Matt Schaub HOU at NYJ (Mon.) Revis-less Jets D not nearly as fearsome.
13 Andy Dalton CIN vs. MIA Has 9 total TDs, only 3 INTs in last three games.
14 Michael Vick PHI at PIT Steelers have had extra week to get healthy, ready for Eagles.
15 Jay Cutler CHI at JAC Can he do it two games in a row?
16 Andrew Luck IND vs. GB Had extra week to prepare for Packers.
17 Alex Smith SF vs. BUF 49ers should feast on second straight AFC East opponent.
18 Christian Ponder MIN vs. TEN Will Vikes let Ponder air it out against Titans (27th vs. pass)?
19 Ryan Fitzpatrick BUF at SF First in league in passing TDs (12), tied for second in INTs (7).
20 Kevin Kolb ARI at STL (Thurs.) Had first 300-3 game since Oct. 2010 last week.
21 Matt Hasselbeck TEN at MIN Veteran gets start in place of Locker (shoulder).
22 Sam Bradford STL vs. ARI Shaky O-line holding Rams' passing attack back.
23 Russell Wilson SEA at CAR Rams bring rookie back to earth: 160 yards, 3 INT, 0 TDs.
24 Matt Cassel KC vs. BAL Ravens not what Cassel needs to maintain hold on job.
25 Brandon Weeden CLE vs. NYG Has 3:3 TD:INT ratio since tossing 4 picks in Week 1.
26 Ryan Tannehill MIA at CIN Coming off of 432-yard effort (1 TD 2, INTs) at Arizona.

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

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

Additional Week 5 Positional Rankings

Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends
Kickers
Defense/Special Teams

Week 5 Start or Sit

Week 5 Waiver Wire

Teaser:
<p> 2012 Fantasy Football Quarterback Rankings: Week 5</p>
Post date: Thursday, October 4, 2012 - 05:15
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy football rankings, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /nfl/2012-fantasy-football-wide-receiver-rankings-week-5
Body:

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

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

2012 NFL Week 5 Fantasy Football Rankings — Wide Receivers

Rk Player Team OPPONENT Notes
1 A.J. Green CIN vs. MIA No. 1 fantasy WR right now.
2 Victor Cruz NYG vs. CLE Capable of carrying load if Nicks is out again.
3 Roddy White ATL at WAS Had most yards (169) since Week 7 of 2010 last week.
4 Larry Fitzgerald ARI at STL (Thurs.) Finally finding chemistry with Kolb.
5 Andre Johnson HOU at NYJ (Mon.) Jets won't have Revis to slow down big Texan.
6 Brandon Marshall CHI at JAC Looks to be back on same page with Cutler.
7 Percy Harvin MIN vs. TEN Should have bigger impact on offense vs. Titans.
8 Jordy Nelson GB at IND Finally found end zone last week.
9 Mike Wallace PIT vs. PHI  
10 Julio Jones ATL at WAS Hand issue holding him back.
11 Brandon Lloyd NE vs. DEN Looking for big game against former team.
12 Demaryius Thomas DEN at NE Big target could cause Pats' DBs problems.
13 Steve Smith CAR vs. SEA Smith vs. SEA secondary will be fun to watch.
14 Reggie Wayne IND vs. GB  
15 Marques Colston NO vs. SD Big game against Packers, foot issue behind him?
16 Wes Welker NE vs. DEN Been big part of offense since Hernandez went down.
17 Torrey Smith BAL at KC One of top vertical threats in NFL.
18 Dwayne Bowe KC vs. BAL  
19 DeSean Jackson PHI at PIT  
20 Stevie Johnson BUF at SF  
21 Malcom Floyd SD at NO Saints allowing fourth-most fantasy points to WRs.
22 Eric Decker DEN at NE  
23 Antonio Brown PIT vs. PHI  
24 Domenik Hixon NYG vs. CLE Big opportunity with Hakeem Nicks out again.
25 James Jones GB at IND No Jennings, means more snaps for Jones.
26 Danny Amendola STL vs. ARI (Thurs.) TD last week came on fake field goal.
27 Lance Moore NO vs. SD  
28 Brian Hartline MIA at CIN Leading league in receiving yards, but relies on rookie QB.
29 Jeremy Maclin PHI at PIT  
30 Michael Crabtree SF vs. BUF Will 49ers throw enough to take advantage of Bills?
31 Anquan Boldin BAL at KC After slow start, had 9 rec., 131 yds. vs. Cleveland
32 Pierre Garcon WAS vs. ATL Had only one catch last week, but foot appears OK.
33 Nate Washington TEN at MIN  
34 Kenny Britt TEN at MIN Hoping to at least practice (ankle), monitor status.
35 Andre Roberts ARI at STL (Thurs.) Top fantasy WR (No. 12) on Cardinals.
36 Andrew Hawkins CIN vs. MIA Big-play or bust option right now.
37 Donnie Avery IND vs. GB  
38 Randall Cobb GB at IND  
39 Greg Little CLE at NYG If only he could hold onto ball better.
40 Jerome Simpson MIN vs. TEN Led team in catches, yards in first game back.
41 Brandon LaFell CAR vs. SEA  
42 Davone Bess MIA at CIN Had strong game (7, 123) in support of Hartline last week.
43 Sidney Rice SEA at CAR  
44 Leonard Hankerson WAS vs. ATL Used Garcon's absence to carve out role in passing game.
45 Kendall Wright TEN at MIN Rookie could see more opportunities if Britt's out.
46 Justin Blackmon JAC vs. CHI Six catches, 48 yards a start for rookie.
47 Jeremy Kerley NYJ vs. HOU (Mon.) Holmes done for year, so could Jets' passing attack.
48 Donald Jones BUF at SF  
49 Alshon Jeffery CHI at JAC  
50 T.Y. Hilton IND vs. GB  
51 Brandon Stokely DEN at NE  
52 Mario Manningham SF vs. BUF  
53 Jon Baldwin KC at KC Starting to show more consistency, TD next?
54 Randy Moss SF vs. BUF  
55 Travis Benjamin CLE at NYG Injuries have given him a chance to produce.
56 Devin Hester CHI at JAC Caught TD vs. Dallas, more looks coming?
57 Kevin Walter HOU at NYJ (Mon.)  
58 Golden Tate SEA at CAR  
59 Eddie Royal SD at NO  
60 Chaz Schilens NYJ vs. HOU (Mon.)  
61 Santana Moss WAS vs. ATL  
62 Brandon Gibson STL vs. ARI (Thurs.) Second on team in receptions, targets.
63 Robert Meachem SD at NO Will facing former team finally get him going?
64 Harry Douglas ATL at WAS  

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

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

Additional Week 5 Positional Rankings

Quarterbacks
Running Backs
Tight Ends
Kickers
Defense/Special Teams

Week 5 Start or Sit

Week 5 Waiver Wire

Teaser:
<p> 2012 Fantasy Football Wide Receiver Rankings: Week 5</p>
Post date: Thursday, October 4, 2012 - 05:13
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy football rankings, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /nfl/2012-fantasy-football-tight-end-rankings-week-5
Body:

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

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

2012 NFL Week 5 Fantasy Football Rankings — Tight Ends

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

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

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

Additional Week 5 Positional Rankings

Quarterbacks
Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Kickers
Defense/Special Teams

Week 5 Start or Sit

Week 5 Waiver Wire

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

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

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

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

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

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

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

 

Additional Week 5 Positional Rankings

Quarterbacks
Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends
Kickers

Week 5 Start or Sit

Week 5 Waiver Wire

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

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

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

2012 NFL Week 5 Fantasy Football Rankings — Kickers

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

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

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

Additional Week 5 Positional Rankings

Quarterbacks
Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends
Defense/Special Teams

Week 5 Start or Sit

Week 5 Waiver Wire

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Top 10 NFL Coaches on the Hot Seat: Week 5

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Couples will name additional assistants in the coming months.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WHO WILL WIN THE NFL COACH OF THE YEAR AWARD?

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

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

WHEN WILL THE 1972 MIAMI DOLPHINS BE ABLE TO CELEBRATE?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Week 5 Positional Rankings

Week 5 Start or Sit

Bye week teams: Dallas, Detroit, Oakland Tampa Bay

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Defense/Special Teams

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

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

Scoring is based on Athlon Sports default scoring which is 6 points for all TDs, .5 points per reception and 1 point per 25 yards passing, 10 yards rushing/receiving and 40 return yards.

— By Mark Ross, published on Oct. 2, 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Jets will host the Houston Texans next Monday night.

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

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

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

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

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

—(Sports Network)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE LEGENDS POLL TOP 25

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

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

Teaser:
<p> As voted on by 17 coaching legends.</p>
Post date: Monday, October 1, 2012 - 06:00
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy Football, NFL, Fantasy
Path: /nfl/2012-fantasy-football-start-or-sit-week-4
Body:

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

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

Week 4 Positional Rankings

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Running Backs
START

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wide Receivers
START

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Defense/Special Teams
START

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

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

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

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

Kickers
START

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2012 NFL Week 4 Fantasy Football Rankings

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

Week 4 Start or Sit

Note: Indianapolis and Pittsburgh are on bye this week.

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

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

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

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

Teaser:
<p> 2012 Fantasy Football Positional Rankings: Week 4</p>
Post date: Thursday, September 27, 2012 - 05:25

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