Articles By Braden Gall

All taxonomy terms: Green Bay Packers, Nick Collins, NFL, News
Path: /nfl/nick-collins-hospitalized-overnight-head-injury

The Green Bay Packers and Carolina Panthers had to put victory on hold late in their Week Two match-up on Sunday as Packers' safety Nick Collins lay motionless on the floor of Bank of America Stadium.

The Pro Bowl safety was carted off the field after making a diving attempt to tackle Panther running back Jonathan Stewart in the fourth quarter of the 30-23 win over Carolina. His head appears to strike Stewart's thigh and bounced off the turf before he finally came to rest face down.

Collins was able to give a wave to the fans, players and coaches as he left the field. He spent the night in a North Carolina hospital after sustaining a head and neck injury. CT scans were negative and Collins has all movement and feeling in all of his extremities.

Collins, a 2005 second round pick who has played in 95 of his possible 97 career games, hasn't missed a game since 2007.

Head coach Mike McCarthy began his Monday press conference with the news that Collins will miss the remainder of the 2011 season. The safety arrived in Green Bay about 1 PM Monday afternoon and McCarthy said it was "too early in the evaluation process" to determine if Collins would need surgery.

The hard-hitting safety who normally plays through pain is the second member of the Super Bowl champion's secondary to go down with a serious injury in as many weeks. The star of the postseason, Tramon Williams, was hurt in Week One against New Orleans and was unable to play this weekend. Charlie Peprah entered the game and will take any snaps that Collins misses. He played most of 2010 in place of injured rookie safety Morgan Burnett - who was lost for the season in Week Four last season.

Green Bay has allowed 800 yards passing - good for last in the NFL at 400 yards per game.

<p> The Green Bay Packers Pro Bowl safety Nick Collins took a nasty blow to head on Sunday.</p>
Post date: Monday, September 19, 2011 - 16:21
Path: /columns/5-burning-questions/big-12-college-footballs-best-conference

-by Braden Gall (@AthlonBraden on twitter)

Off the field, the Big 12 is currently the ugly ducking of the BCS litter as four of its power teams — Texas, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech — appear to be heading West to the Pac-12.

But on the field, Big 12 teams are forcing college football to respect the conference’s swan song.

The SEC currently holds five consecutive BCS national championships, but if the streak is going to end in 2011, it appears the Big 12 will be the likely culprit. That is because, through three weeks of play — and copious hours of expansion talk — the Big 12 is ironically college football's best conference.

One could make the case that South Carolina, Georgia, Mississippi State, Kentucky and Ole Miss are not as good as expected. Tennessee, Arkansas, LSU and Alabama are playing exactly as expected. Florida and Vanderbilt are slightly better, while Auburn should be winless through three games.

While the league may be on the verge of utter and permanent destruction, the Big 12 owns the best overall record of any conference in college football at 23-2. The only two losses by the entire league have been Kansas falling at the hands of 3-0 Georgia Tech in Atlanta and Missouri’s overtime heartbreaker in the desert against 2–1 Arizona State.

Oklahoma owns the single best victory by any program in the nation after walking away from Doak Campbell Stadium with a 23-13 win over No. 5 Florida State. The Sooners defense was the surprise of the game as the Crimson and Cream soldified themselves as the best team in the nation.

The Big 12 also claims more “BCS” wins than any of the power conferences (counting Notre Dame, Boise State, TCU and BYU as “BCS.”) The heartland conglomerate has a sterling 7-2 mark against fellow “BCS” competition with road wins over UCLA (Texas), UConn (Iowa State) and Florida State (Oklahoma) to go with home wins over Arizona (Oklahoma State), TCU (Baylor), Iowa (Iowa State) and BYU (Texas).

For the record, the Big Ten is 6-6, the ACC is 5-5, the Pac-12 is 5-6, the SEC is 4-4 and the crumbling Big East is 3-6 in such games.

The SEC is still the 800-pound gorilla that is only gaining weight with the addition of Texas A&M. LSU and Alabama are both national title contenders with arguably the best two defenses in the nation. And LSU also owns the second-best win of the year (Oregon, Week 1).

But right now, the Big 12 has performed like the stronger league. Oklahoma (1), Oklahoma State (7), Texas A&M (8), Baylor (17) and Texas (19) are all ranked in the top 20 and spearhead a league that also includes a much improved Texas Tech squad, a very talented Missouri team and an Iowa State team with upset wins over the Big Ten and Big East.

Oklahoma State is the No. 2-ranked offense in the nation. Texas Tech is No. 3, Baylor is No. 4, Missouri is No. 12, Texas A&M is No. 18 and Oklahoma is No. 19.

Texas Tech (No. 2), Oklahoma State (No. 3) and Baylor (No. 6) are three of the top six scoring teams in the nation. The Pokes lead the nation in passing at over 408 yards per game with four other Big 12 teams are ranked in the top 20 nationally in passing offense.

And the star power in this league is nothing short of spectacular.

Brandon Weeden, Robert Griffin III and Seth Doege are Nos. 2, 3, and 5 nationally in total offense. Ryan Tannehill (No. 22), James Franklin (No. 24) and Landry Jones (No. 25) round out the Top 25 nationally in total offense.

Texas Tech’s Darrin Moore and Oklahoma’s Ryan Broyles are tied for second nationally with 10.5 receptions per game, while Baylor’s Kendall Wright is fifth and Okie State’s Justin Blackmon is eighth nationally in catches per game. The Biletnikoff Award isn’t likely to leave the Big 12 after Blackmon claimed the honor in 2010. In fact, the Big 12 has won three of the last four such awards.

Texas A&M’s Cyrus Gray is fifth in the nation in scoring at 15 points per game and Oklahoma State’s Joseph Randle is seventh after scoring seven times in three games.

Griffin III is arguably the most valuable player in the nation and is the most dynamic quarterback in this country — no offense, Michael Vick. Jones might be the front-runner for the Heisman. And to top it all off, the NCAA’s single-game rushing leader in 2011 is Mizzou’s Henry Josey after he rushed for 263 yards this weekend.

In the past, when conferences crumble or disband, it's normally a result of poor play, low revenue ceilings and subsequent profit loss. This is certainly not the case with the Big 12. The SEC is the champion until proven otherwise, and there is still loads of work left to be done by all parties involved, but three weeks into the season, the Big 12 is the best conference in football.

At least the Big 12 is going out on a high note.

Other Related Content:

Doomsday: The Future of the Big 12
Pitt and Syracuse Join The ACC

<p> After three weeks of play and rumors of destruction, is the Big 12 America's top league?</p>
Post date: Monday, September 19, 2011 - 14:00
Path: /columns/waiver-wire/college-fantasy-waiver-wire-week-3

-by Braden Gall ( @AthlonBraden on twitter)

Quarterback Adds:

Tyler Hansen, Colorado
Back-to-back 30-point games has Hansen ranked as the No. 7 overall quarterback in all of fantasy. He has a tough match-up this week with Ohio State, but also has Washington State and Washington in the next four.

Trent Steelman, Army
Two straight games with over 108 yards rushing. Two straight games with at least three rushing touchdowns. Two straight games without an interception. And two straight games with at least 28 TFP. Upcoming schedule includes Ball State, Tulane, Miami-OH and Fordham as four of the next five.

MarQueis Gray, Minnesota
Two straight 100-yard rushing efforts – and two 25 TFP weekends – should prompt many to snag Gray over the wire. Especially considering the up-coming schedule: North Dakota State, Michigan and Purdue.

Sean Renfree, Duke
Connected 40 times this weekend in the big road win over Boston College. He scored three touchdowns (one rushing) and racked-up 359 yards through the air. With Tulane and Florida International as the next two, its hard to ignore Renfree's 27.9 TFP weekend.

Sneaky Week 3 Plays:

James Vandenberg, Iowa
Has been over 20 points in all three games and has UL-Monroe this weekend.

John Brantley, Florida
All of the Gators should be good plays this weekend against Kentucky.

BJ Daniels, USF
Posted 382 yards and four scores last week in 39.3 TFP effort. Gets UTEP in Week 4.

Edward Wright-Baker, Indiana
Posted 273-2 on Saturday and topped 40 yards in two straight. North Texas this weekend.

Running Back Adds:

Darrell Scott, USF
The top scorer in all of fantasy this weekend was the former Colorado Buffalo. He has built on his performance each week as he went from 3.3 TFP in Week 1 to 47.5 TFP this weekend. And the Bulls gets UTEP in Week 4.

Henry Josey, Missouri
His 10+ yards per carry average and 145 yards from scrimmage in the overtime thriller against Arizona State was only a glimpse of what was to come. Josey, against much lesser competition in Western Illinois, rushed 14 times for 263 yards and three touchdowns. Oklahoma is next and the bye follows after, but Kansas State, Iowa State and Oklahoma State are the looming on the horizon.

Matthew Tucker, TCU
The starter, Ed Wesley, hasn't played since Week 1 against Baylor and is still nursing a shoulder injury. Tucker, meanwhile, has scored four times in the last two games. Portland State, SMU and San Diego State are the next three up for the Frogs.

Orwin Smith, Georgia Tech
Pick-up and play at your own risk - or if you have no indegestion issues. Smith has proven he can make the big play - 16 total touches for 421 yards for a 26.3 yards per touch average. And he has scored five times. He may never get to be a 10-15 touch per game player, so starting him is risky, but it's hard to ignore the 39.5 and 25.7 TFP games thus far.

Wide Receivers Adds:

Sammy Watkins, Clemson
This one is pretty self-explanatory as the dynamic playmaker makes this list for the third straight week. He won’t be on it again.

Mike Scott, Idaho
Scott has caught at least six passes in all three games this fall and at least eight in his last two. He has also registered at least 89 yards in all three games. The upside might be slightly limited, but the consistency will have its benefits. Fresno State and Virginia are next before WAC play takes over the schedule.

Nick Toon, Wisconsin
No one has benefited more from Russell Wilson than Mr. Toon. The NFL legacy has 12 catches for 144 yards and three touchdowns in his last two. He gets South Dakota this weekend.

Josh Jarboe, Arkansas State
Four catches for 38 yards and no scores is no reason to land on a waiver wire list. But Arkansas State playes Central Arkansas, Western Kentucky and UL-Monroe over the next three weekends. His elite level talent will play well in the Belt.

Jaxon Shipley, Texas
The McCoy-to-Shipley combination is going to haunt Big 12 coaches forever. He caught another five passes, ran the ball once and threw a touchdown pass against UCLA – in his third career game. Expect more from the Little Shipley in 2011.

Hope you didn’t drop them:

Jeremy Ebert, Northwestern: 6 rec., 108 yards, 2 TDs vs. Army
Kenny Stills, Oklahoma: 7 rec., 125 yards, TD vs. Florida State
Kelvin Bolden, Southern Miss: 4 rec., 33 yards vs. SE Louisiana

Tight Ends:

Crockett Gilmore, Colorado State
Three straight weeks with at least four catches and has scored twice in three games.

DJ Grant, Texas
Exploded over the weekend with a 6-catch, 77-yard, 3-TD performance.

Dwayne Allen, Clemson
Was Tajh Boyd’s favorite clutch target (not named Watkins) against Auburn.

Trey Burton, Florida
Has 10 rushes and four catches over the last two. Gets Kentucky this weekend.

Week 4 DEF/ST Adds:

1. South Florida (UTEP)
2. Florida (at Kentucky)
3. Florida International (UL-Lafayette)
4. Illinois (Western Michigan)
5. Maryland (Temple)
6. Michigan State (Central Michigan)
7. Texas Tech (Nevada)
8. Wisconsin (South Dakota)
9. UConn (Buffalo)
10. South Carolina (Vanderbilt)


<p> What does the college fantasy waiver wire have to offer after three weeks of action?</p>
Post date: Sunday, September 18, 2011 - 18:49
All taxonomy terms: Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees, MLB, News
Path: /mlb/worse-contract-john-lackey-or-aj-burnett

-by Braden Gall (@AthlonBraden on twitter)

The 2011 MLB season began with the Boston Red Sox as the prohibitive favorites to win the AL Pennant due in large part to the strength and depth of the starting rotation.

The New York Yankees, while still picked by most to make the postseason, were looked at as the Wild Card due in large part to the weakness of their starting rotation.

CC Sabathia, Jon Lester and Josh Beckett have all been solid (in Lester’s case) to excellent (in Sabathia’s case). But as Boston has watched its massive, seemingly insurmountable Wild Card lead evaporate in a matter of days, the issues on the mound in Beantown cannot be ignored.

Since the Yankees beat the Red Sox on the first day of September 4-2, the Sox have struggled to get people out. This is obviously due in part to the loss of Josh Beckett – who missed a couple of starts because of a sprained ankle.

However, it's not just Beckett's bum ankle's fault. In September, the Red Sox are 3-11 overall and are allowing nearly seven runs per game. This is one of those times when a 5-year, $82.5 million pitcher is supposed to step in and save the sinking ship.

But John Lackey has been anything but worth his lofty price tag.

And to be honest (and I can’t believe I am saying this) A.J. Burnett’s identical 5-year, $82.5 million contract might actually be the smarter of the two deals.

Let’s look at the numbers in year one:

Lackey (2010): 215 IP, 14-11, 4.40 ERA, 1.42 WHIP, 156 K, 72 BB
Burnett (2009): 207 IP, 13-9, 4.04 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, 195 K, 97 BB

It should be noted that Burnett helped the Yankees win the World Series in 2009 by making five starts – in three of which he went at least six innings and allowed two or fewer runs.

How about year number two:

Lackey (2011): 149.2 IP, 12-12, 6.19 ERA, 1.59 WHIP, 101 K, 51 BB
Burnett (2010): 186.2 IP, 10-15, 5.26 ERA, 1.51 WHIP, 145 K, 78 BB

Basically, through the first 40 percent of these indistinguishable contracts, the numbers are virtually identical – minus that one little World Series ring Burnett is polishing at the moment.

Lackey has yet to pitch in the postseason for the Red Sox. And he won’t if he can’t step up and help this team stop the bleeding. When it has mattered the most, Lackey has failed to answer the bell. Boston has lost his last four starts and five of his last six trips to the bump. He finished seven innings once in that span and allowed fewer than three runs a single time.

At the time of the contracts, I would have taken the Lackey deal every day of the week and twice on Sundays, but I am not sure I can say that any longer.

<p> Which big-time pitching contract was worse: Boston's John Lackey or New York's A.J. Burnett?</p>
Post date: Friday, September 16, 2011 - 17:04
Path: /columns/5-burning-questions/betting-against-spread-week-3-picks

-by Braden Gall (@AthlonBraden on twitter)

After a middle of the road effort in Week One of the college football season, I bounced back with force in Week Two, nailing each of my top three locks of the week. Of course, there is no rest for the weary as Mississippi State (vs. Auburn) and Iowa wildly underachieved in games they both should have won.

I still feel Andrew Lucky as I am going back to the Cardinal well for the third straight week after Stanford covered the spread in both of its games thus far. And since my road favorites were such a big hit last week as well, I might as well keep that train rolling along too.

Season Record ATS: 11-7-1 (6-3 last week)

Week 3's Top Picks (all times eastern):

1. Oklahoma State (-13.5) at Tulsa
The Cowboys look just as good as if not better than they were last season on offense. And last year, they dropped a 65 spot on Tulsa (65-28 final). Brandon Weeden, Joseph Randle, Justin Blackmon and one of the nation's top offensive lines will walk into Tulsa (which could have a heavy Orange and Black tint to it) and run away with this one. My Pick: Oklahoma State -13.5

2. Nevada (-6) at San Jose State
I know it was a blowout and I know they allowed 69 points, but against the national runner-up in Oregon, the Wolf Pack rolled up 516 yards of offense, including 283 yards rushing. It was Nevada's first game of the season, so they should be much improved in Week Two. San Jose State played improved football against UCLA last week, but hasn't closed the gap after a 57-3 drubbing against Stanford in Week One. Chris Ault and company beat the Spartans 62-7 last fall. My Pick: Nevada -6

3. Houston (-6.5) at Louisiana Tech
Case Keenum threw for 458 yards and five touchdowns last week. Louisiana Tech allowed 372 yards, four touchdowns and 42 total points to Central Arkansas and Nathan Dick last week. There is no way the Bulldogs can slow down the Cougars offense. Houston will roll. My Pick: Houston -6.5

4. Texas Tech (-20.5) at New Mexico
Few teams have played as poorly as the Lobos. They have scored 13 total points against Colorado State at home and Arkansas on the road. The Rams sacked New Mexico 10 times in the opener and Texas Tech knows it. The Red Raiders are rested after the bye week and are prepared to travel into the Land of Enchantment for an easy win. My Pick: Texas Tech -20.5

5. Stanford (-9) at Arizona
Andrew Luck plays football at a different level than anyone else in the nation. Weird things can happen in the desert but not normally until October. Luck was 23-of-32 for 299 yards and two scores in the 42-17 win over the Wildcats last season. Meanwhile, the Cats are coming off a nationally televised loss to Okie State in which they allowed 398 yards passing to Weeden and 197 yards rushing to Randle and company. My Pick: Stanford -9

6. Auburn (+3.5) at Clemson
The nation's longest current winning streak (17) is on the line when Auburn heads down to Death Valley. Clemson has not looked good in either game, both of which were against clearly inferior opponents (Troy, Wofford). There is just no way anyone can pick against the defending national champs. Watching the Mississippi State defense play well enough to win against LSU on Thursday night only highlights the job Guz Malzahn has done with the young Auburn offense. This one should be a shootout with Auburn winning No. 18 in a row. My Pick: Auburn

7. Wyoming at Bowling Green (54.5 O/U)
Bowling Green is averaging 45 points per game (yes, against Idaho and Morgan State) and Wyoming is averaging 40 points per game (yes, against Weber State and Texas State). The Cowboys allowed 32 points to Weber State in week one, and this game has shootout written all over it with solid quarterback play from Matt Schilz and Brett Smith respectively. My Pick: Over 54.5

Tier Two Picks if you are feeling lucky:

Take the road underdogs to cover - and in Ohio State's case - to win outright:

Ohio State (+2.5) at Miami
Navy (+18) at South Carolina
Michigan State (+5.5) at Notre Dame

Other Week Three Content:

College Fantasy Football Start or Sit: Week 3

Week 3 Prediction: Florida State vs. Oklahoma

Steven Lassan's Week 3 Upsets and Match-ups

Athlon Sports Predicts Every Game of Week 3

<p> Athlon's Braden Gall offers his top college football picks against the spread each week.</p>
Post date: Friday, September 16, 2011 - 13:20
Path: /columns/start-or-sit/college-fantasy-football-start-or-sit-week-3

- by Braden Gall (@AthlonBraden on twitter)

Here is Athlon Sports college football Week Three College Fantasy Football Start or Sit:

Start These Quarterbacks:

Casey Pachall, TCU (UL-Monroe)
Replacing a legend is never easy, but despite the loss to Baylor, Pachall has made it look easy. He has six touchdown passes to only one interception with 56 yards rushing and another score on the ground. He has completed more than 70 percent of his passes and will be facing the 79th-rated pass efficiency defense thus far in 2011. Against FBS talent this fall, ULM has allowed 280 yards and three touchdowns. This is Pachall’s team now, and owners should have him in the line-up this week.

Tyler Hansen, Colorado (Colorado State)
Throwing for a single-game school record isn’t something that happens every day, but that is what Hansen did last week. His 474 yards are a Buffaloes record and the current single-game high of the 2011 season. He has thrown at least two TDs in each game thus far and accounted for three scores against Colorado State in last year’s opener. Start all of your Buffs.

Aaron Murray, Georgia (Coastal Carolina)
The Dawgs might have lost to South Carolina last week, but Murray is clearly the real deal under center. He threw four TDs and 248 yards against the Cocks last week and will look to expand on that line this week. Certainly, Mark Richt will establish the run behind star freshman Isaiah Crowell, but Murray should post excellent numbers against a far inferior opponent.

James Franklin, Missouri (Western Illinois)
There is still plenty to learn for Franklin, but the talent is obvious. In two career starts, he already has a 300-yard passing game, a 100-yard rushing game, completed 63.2 percent of his passes, has only one interception and has experienced a hostile road overtime atmosphere. Expect Gary Pinkel to get his Tigers back on track against lowly Western Illinois.

Ryan Tannehill, Texas A&M (Idaho)
The Aggies will welcome a chance to play actual football after constant expansion drama has engulfed College Station during the bye week. Tannehill and company has to be hungry to get back onto the field, and the poor Vandals will play the role of punching bag. Idaho allowed 478 yards of offense against Bowling Green in week one and should be no match – on either side of the ball – for the powerful TAMU attack.

Derek Carr, Fresno State (North Dakota)
Week Two was a huge learning experience for the sophomore slinger from The Valley. Against an elite-level defense in an incredibly stressful environment, Carr threw 254 yards and scored two touchdowns against Nebraska. The younger brother of former first overall pick David Carr has proven his mettle in only two starts against quality BCS competition. Against North Dakota, Carr’s full talent should flourish.

Bench These Quarterbacks:

Ryan Aplin, Arkansas State (at Virginia Tech)
The Hokies held Dom Davis and East Carolina's high-flying attack to 127 yards on 38 attempts last weekend. That should be all fantasy owners need to keep Aplin far away from the starting line-up. Bud Foster has his defense back where it belongs: Rated in the top ten nationally by allowing 202.5 yards per game through two weeks.

Tyler Bray, Tennessee (at Florida)
The Vols sophomore had all day to throw last week against Cincinnati, but fans can bet that the law firm of Powell, Floyd, Easley, Green and Howard won’t allow Bray to leave the Swamp untouched. The Gators have won six straight over Tennessee and have played excellent defense against weak opponents FAU and UAB. Florida has allowed a total of three points this season. Additionally, Bray has started seven total games in his brief career – none of which were outside of the state of Tennessee or against a true road crowd.

Kriss Proctor, Navy (at South Carolina)
Against Delaware, Proctor averaged eight yards per carry on 22 attempts. Against Western Kentucky, he ran 16 times at a 1.4 yards per carry clip. South Carolina will easily be the toughest defense Proctor has faced thus far, but the major weakness of the Cocks’ unit has been the secondary. Proctor has attempted 14 passes all season, so it’s the front seven in Columbia that will play the key role. The upside is very limited, even if Navy keeps it close.

Keith Price, Washington (at Nebraska)
The good news in Seattle is that Steve Sarkisian has clearly found his quarterback. The bad is that Price is facing an angry Huskers team in Memorial Stadium. He did get plenty of experience in garbage time at Oregon last season but has never seen anything like the atmosphere he will be facing this weekend. The upside is extremely limited as even playing well last week, Derek Carr managed 14.6 fantasy points passing last week against Nebraska.

Kolton Browning, UL-Monroe (at TCU)
Until he gets to Sun Belt play, Browning shouldn’t be anywhere near the starting line-up. He is 26-50 for 246 yards and one touchdown in two games thus far. Enough said.

Play with caution:

Nick Foles, Arizona (Stanford)
Against the Cardinal last year, Foles threw for 248 yards, one TD and one INT. It was his lowest yardage total since the 10-9 Cal win back on September 25, 2010. Stanford has held both starting quarterbacks it has faced this fall to less than 200 yards passing and has looked like a national title contender in its two blowout wins.

Corey Robinson, Troy (at Arkansas)
There is a chance that Robinson could throw a few garbage time touchdowns, but Arkansas will dominate this one from the opening kickoff. A similar line to his Clemson performance feels right for Robinson: 258 yards, TD, INT.

Alex Gillett, Eastern Michigan (at Michigan)
The Wolverines defense doesn’t scare anyone, but there is a clear talent differential in this one. After a quality first week (25.2 TFP), Gillett looked terrible against Alabama State, completing only seven of his 19 passes for 61 yards.

High-Profile Shootouts:

Landry Jones at EJ Manuel (Oklahoma at Florida State)
Brock Osweiler at Nathan Scheelhaase (Arizona State at Illinois)
Kirk Cousins at Tommy Rees (Michigan State at Notre Dame)
Jordan Webb at Tevin Washington (Kansas at Georgia Tech)
Barrett Trotter at Tajh Boyd (Auburn at Clemson)

Start These Running Backs:

Isaiah Crowell, Georgia (Coastal Carolina)
Against South Carolina, Crowell had his nationally televised coming out party. He runs with excellent patience and vision and can be used in all facets of the offense. Look for Richt to get him plenty of work against the lowly Chanticleers.

Andre Williams, Boston College (Duke)
Montel Harris has yet to practice and the redshirting rumors are growing louder in Chestnut Hill. That leaves the carries in the very capable arms of Andre the Giant. Duke allowed 205 yards on 30 carries (6.8 yards per carry) and two touchdowns against Stanford last week. Expect Boston College to get back to its roots and pound the football in an effort to win its first game of the season.

Isi Sofele, Cal (Presbyterian)
This Golden Bear hasn’t shown the same talent as the Bests and the Lynchs of past years, but he still has topped 80 yards and 20 carries in both games this fall. He scored twice against Fresno State, and against the Blue Hose, Sofele should be very successful.

Terrance Ganaway, Baylor (Stephen F. Austin)
The starting tailback for Baylor has been champing at the bit to get back onto the field after the 15-day layoff. He rushed 24 times for 120 yards against TCU; expect Art Briles to get him rolling early against the FCS opponent.

Josh Harris, Wake Forest (Gardner-Webb)
Harris has carried the ball 22 and 23 times respectively against Syracuse (66 yards) and NC State (96 yards). The level of competition is far below that of the previous first two weeks, so the sophomore future star could have a big day against the Runnin’ Bulldogs.

DeAnthony Thomas, Oregon (Missouri State)
This one is a no-brainer. Thomas has touched the ball 12 times on the ground for 103 yards with one score and eight times for 140 yards with two scores through the air. The Black Mamba is a dynamic breakaway threat who can score from anywhere on the field, and against Missouri State, he should get plenty of work.

Michael Hayes, Houston (at Louisiana Tech)
Here is the touches breakdown in the crowded Cougars’ pseudo-backfield: Charles Sims has four carries and two receptions, Bryce Beall has 18 carries and one receptions and Hayes has 20 carries and 11 receptions. Clearly, Case Keenum and Kevin Sumlin like Hayes’ game the most. And against La. Tech, there will boatloads of points scored on both sides.

If you are desperate:

Curtis Underwood, NC State (South Alabama)
Marc Tyler, USC (Syracuse)
Christine Michael, Texas A&M (Idaho)
Eddie Lacy, Alabama (North Texas)
Kendrick Hardy, Jamal Woodyard, Southern Miss (Houston)

Bench These Running Backs:

Lance Dunbar, North Texas (at Alabama)
This one is pretty self-explanatory. Bama has the best defense I have seen on any college field thus far. Dunbar will be held completely in check this week. Look elsewhere.

Adonis Thomas, Toledo (Boise State)
This makes two weeks in a row that one of the MAC’s best fantasy plays needs to be on the bench. Boise State has an NFL front line on defense and will be even tougher than Ohio State – who held Thomas to 47 yards on 14 carries.

Chris Polk, Washington (at Nebraska)
There has been a lot of talk about how Nebraksa has struggled on defense this fall. The Huskers couldn’t stop Bobby Rainey in week one of last season, but then turned it on the rest of the way. Robbie Rouse ran for 169 yards against Big Red last week, but he needed 36 carries to get there. There is no doubt that Bo Pelini has lit a fire under his defensive unit, and the Huskers will come out fired up against a team they are extremely familiar with – this is the third meeting in roughly one calendar year for the two.

Tauren Poole, Tennessee (at Florida)
Poole has been on the verge of breaking a big run through two games but has been held in relative check. He has 45 carries for 199 yards and only the one score thus far in 2011. But the Florida Gators front seven will be by far the toughest test he has faced. He managed only 23 yards on 10 carries last season in Knoxville against Florida. Is allowing 1.5 points per game a good thing?

Antwon Bailey, Syracuse (at USC)
Bailey was excellent in Week One and wasn’t asked to do to much (for some reason) against Rhode Island in Week Two. The Trojans defense looks to be dramatically improved from a year ago after holding the very underrated John White IV to 56 yards on 20 carries last week.

Lowered Expectations:

Perry Jones, Kevin Parks, Virginia (at North Carolina)
Javonti Greene, Dominique Sherrer, Eastern Michigan (at Michigan)
Jeff Scott, Ole Miss (at Vanderbilt)
Bernard Pierce, Temple (Penn State)
Ray Graham, Pitt (at Iowa)

Wide Receiver To Watch:

Emory Blake, Auburn (at Clemson)
At least 95 yards in each game and a score in both games. Should be high scoring.

Quinton Patton, Louisiana Tech (Houston)
Has 13 catches in the first two games and this one should feature lots of points.

Josh Boyce, TCU (UL-Monroe)
At least five catches and 76 yards in each game thus far. Looks like Pachall’s go-to.

Sammy Waktins, Clemson (Auburn)
Getting a lot touches as only a freshman (5 att., 11 rec.) and should be high scoring.

DeVonte Christopher, Utah (at BYU)
One of the Pac-12’s most underrated wideouts. Huge game (11-136-1) last week.

B.J. Cunningham, Michigan State (at Notre Dame)
Sparty’s all-time leading receiver should take advantage of the weak Irish secondary.

Taveon Rogers, New Mexico State (UTEP)
Has scored a touchdown and reached at least 88 yards in each game thus far.

Top Ten DEF/ST Spot Starts:

1. South Florida (FAMU)
2. Oregon (Missouri State)
3. NC State (South Alabama)
4. UCF (at FIU)
5. Ole Miss at Vanderbilt
6. Texas A&M (Idaho)
7. Texas Tech (at New Mexico)
8. South Carolina (Navy)
9. Western Kentucky (Indiana State)
10. Arkansas (Troy)

Other Week 3 Content:

Mitch Light's Weekend on Tap: Week's Top Ten Games

<p> Athlon prepares the college fantasy player with in-depth match-up analysis for Week 3.</p>
Post date: Friday, September 16, 2011 - 07:45
Path: /columns/athlon-interview/georgia-legend-vince-dooley-talks-dawgs-football

-by Braden Gall (@AthlonBraden on twitter)

Athlon Sports' Braden Gall had a chance to sit down with legendary SEC player and head coach Vince Dooley. The former head coach at Georgia touched on the current college football landscape, what the SEC has meant to him, Mark Richt and the 2011 Georgia Bulldogs and some of his favorite memories from coaching the planet’s greatest game.

Braden Gall: You played at Auburn, coached at Georgia and your son coaches at Tennessee. What has the SEC meant to you?

Vince Dooley: It’s all that I have ever known. I went to Auburn, I played at Auburn, and I coached at Auburn. I was there for 12 years. Then being at Georgia as long as I was and now I have a son [Derek Dooley] at Tennessee, a grandson that finished Vanderbilt and a granddaughter who has finished Alabama. So yeah, I have been very much involved and it has significant meaning to me. Even Derek coached at LSU, so for four or five years, we were LSU fans in addition to everything else. In fact, I was actually born in the same year that the SEC started (1932), so I have been heavily involved with the SEC my whole life.

BG: Have there ever been any rooting conflicts when Georgia and Tennessee get together?

VD: Yes, it certainly is a problem. If I were to get up in the stands and shout hard against [Derek] in favor of Georgia, then I wouldn’t be married much longer. What I decided to do last year when we played Tennessee was to stay at home and watch the game on TV. I have to pull for my son, but I can't pull against Georgia in Samford Stadium. And I’ve got the same problem this year when Georgia goes up to Knoxville. I’m considering not going to that game and maybe staying at Derek’s house to watch it on TV. That will be much easier.

BG: Conferences have changed dramatically over the years. What are your thoughts on the landscape and trajectory of college football?

VD: I’ve seen the SEC from the time I came in – when Tulane and Georgia Tech were members and we had 12 teams. They left shortly thereafter. And then I was there for the first expansion. Even when we were looking to expand [in 1992], we even looked at Texas and Texas A&M. We ended up with Arkansas and South Carolina; however, it could have just as easily, had things worked out, been Texas and Texas A&M. And that over 20 years ago.

So since that time, we have seen a lot of things happen – even more so recently. But it certainly appears that we are headed in the direction of having 14- or 16-team conferences with some reshuffling still left to do.

BG: What are the biggest differences in the Xs and Os of college football since you coached?

VD: All of these things go in cycles and come back in different ways. That has been the long time history of particularly the offense. An offense will get started and will drive a defense crazy for a period of time until the defense can catch up. Then another offense will come in and be successful. Eventually, you will just have variations of that same offense.

Actually, what we have today, in a lot of cases, is a spread formation. Which is just a spread single wing with a tailback doing what tailbacks used to do in the single wing, but they have much more flexibility to do it now. It’s always challenging, particularly for defensive teams in college football, because while there is always a certain offense that is in fashion, you still have other offenses that are taking place. Not everyone is running the spread. You still have some that are pro offenses and then you still have some that run the option. So all of that causes great stress on defenses in college football as opposed to the pros – which are a little more standard.

BG: Your thoughts on the evolution of the quarterback position in college football?

VD: All of college football is more sophisticated, both offensively and defensively, than it has ever been before. You’ve got better coaching than ever before. You’ve got more good coaches than ever before. Certainly, the passing game is more sophisticated than it has ever been.

Going back to the spread, you are getting these great athletes that are playing quarterback like the great single wing tailbacks used to do. Like Charley Trippi at Georgia, for example. In fact, Trippi told me a few years ago that he would love to play in this offense today. And that was when Charlie was 84 or 85. I am not sure he could do quite as well but he would do just fine in the modern system.

More and more schools are getting these great athletes [to play quarterback] and it’s taking some schools that traditionally have not been very good and making them very potent. As an example, we saw Utah State with that freshman [Chuckie Keeton] who gave Auburn fits. There are more and more of these type of skill players. It’s always about what’s up front over the long haul, but there are an abundance of skills people who are really balancing out college football.

BG: What were some of your favorite places to visit as a player or coach?

VD: I always loved Oxford, Mississippi and The Grove. Oh yeah, the tailgating in The Grove was fun. The fans there have always been great. So that was a favorite place – even though we had some tough times in Oxford when I was coaching.

Toughest places to play? South Carolina was always very tough at night. Paul Dietzel adopted what they used to do at LSU when it came to playing night football. So that was always a challenge. It was the same with Clemson. It was tough to play in Death Valley.

Anywhere you go, particularly because most of the time we were playing in the southeast and we are partial to this region, it was really great. There is a tradition of great football, great tailgating and great rivalries in this area of the country.

BG: With all of the sanctions and violations of the last two years, is there anything that can be done to fix the system?

VD: I think because of the great popularity and high visibility of the sport, we will always have problems. But I think that while we have several known schools that are under, not only investigation, but some that have already been penalized or found guilty, that there are still a great majority that are not. You have a lot of schools that are NOT under investigation. You have a lot of schools that are clean. The same goes for the players. It’s a small number of players that have gotten into trouble, while the majority of players are clean.

BG: What do you think of the job Mark Richt has done as the head coach at Georgia?

VD: He has had a great career. He won a championship his second year and then won a second championship. He wins 10 or more games more times than not, and usually when that happens you become a victim of your own success. The problem is that the standards are so high here at Georgia. Every successful coach I have known, be it Bear Bryant or Joe Paterno, and I’ve certainly been through my own trials and tribulations, has to go through tough times. That has happened recently with Coach Richt and I am confident that he will come out of it.

There certainly seems to be less patience today than ever before – and there wasn’t a lot of patience back then anyway. Nevertheless, the coaches are getting paid a heck of a lot more than they ever did before so the fans are more demanding because of it.

I think that Georgia, despite the fact they have started the way they have [0-2] – and people are starting to respect Boise more than ever – I think that there is enough good material there to be successful. They have a great quarterback in Aaron Murray. I think the defense is better, and they have got two of the best kickers in the country. So I do think that when the season is over that Georgia will have a much, much improved football team than last season.

BG: Talk about your involvement in the Legends Poll?

VD: It’s really fun and has been a great way for a lot of, I guess who you would call “Legends,” to keep in touch with each other. Some coaches that I’ve competed against and have great respect for. So that has been the best part – the weekly conversations, keeping in touch with college football and keeping in touch with old friends. We also discuss many of the current issues in college football. Overall, it’s been a great experience.

Special thanks to Athlon Sports partner The Legends Poll

<p> Athlon had a chance to sit down with legendary Georgia coach Vince Dooley.</p>
Post date: Wednesday, September 14, 2011 - 14:00
All taxonomy terms: IDP Fantasy Football, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /columns/waiver-wire/nfl-fantasy-week-2-idp-waiver-wire

-by Braden Gall (@AthlonBraden on twitter)

Each week Athlon's fantasy staff will dive into the NFL Fantasy world of Individual Defensive Players, or more affectionately known as IDPs. Weekly top performers, advice and waiver wire adds highlight the Athlon IDP Weekly Potpourri.

Week 1’s Top DBs:

1. Aqib Talib, CB, Tampa Bay: 16.0 TFP
3 solo tackles, 1 ast, INT, TD, 2 PD

2. Lardarius Webb, CB, Baltimore: 15.43 TFP
9 solo tackles, 2 ast, 1.0 sack, 2 PD, 37 return yards

3. Ed Reed, S, Baltimore: 15.0 TFP
6 solo tackles, 2 INT, 4 PD

As a general rule of thumb for defensive backs, safeties are better plays than corners. The great corners rarely get thrown at and one interception every three games would be considered good. If your league awards point for passes deflected/defensed, this does add some value to the coverman as they generally rack up the most PDs.

Additionally, the big play – e.g., the defensive TD – cannot be taken into consideration when trying evaluate IDPs. If a player scores two defensive touchdowns in a single season, he has done something special. So ignore Talib’s touchdown. Is it an indicator that the player has big-play potential? Absolutely. And Talib has 16 interceptions since 2008 (good for sixth in the NFL, Yahoo!), so keep an eye on him. He certainly should be motivated as he basically got out of prison to play football this year, but I am not running to the wire for the former Kansas standout.

And finally, on a somber note, the projected No. 1 IDP defensive back in the league, Kansas City's Eric Berry, will miss the entire season after he suffered a torn ACL at the hands of a Stevie Johnson block in the first quarter of 2011. As a fellow Tennessee alum - and EB29 fantasy owner - it was a rough day in the secondary. This injury not only screwed up my fantasy line-up in Week 1, but may hurt the rest of the Cheifs IDPs (Derrick Johnson, Tamba Hali, Glenn Dorsey) as the star sophomore had quickly solidified the backend of the KC defense.

Top DB Adds:

Antoine Winfield, CB, Minnesota: 14.5 TFP
Winfield is one of the NFL’s all-time most underrated cornerbacks. He is an excellent tackler (as his 10 total stops in Week 1 indicate) and excellent off the blitz (5.0 sacks over the last three seasons).

Morgan Burnett, S, Green Bay: 10.5 TFP
Burnett was in for big things last year before it was ended with an injury four games into his rookie season. In his sophomore debut, he posted 14 total tackles. In this defense, he and fellow play-maker Nick Collins are excellent plays.

Kam Chancellor, S, Seattle: 10.0 TFP
Not many IDPs score in double-figures on tackles alone but that is what Chancellor did in Week 1, posting 10 solo stops. He is comfortable around the line of scrimmage and should rack up tackles all season behind the Seahawks questionable front seven.

Week 1’s Top LBs:

1. Brian Urlacher, LB, Chicago: 22.0 TFP
6 solo tackles, 4 ast, INT, FR, TD, PD

2. Terrell Suggs, LB, Baltimore: 19.5 TFP
5 solo tackles, 3.0 sacks, 2 FF

3. D’Qwell Jackson, LB, Cleveland: 19.5 TFP
10 solo tackles, ast, 2.0 sacks, 1 FF

Linebackers are the easiest IDP position to find. Ten NFL linebackers posted at least eight solo tackles in the first week of action, so do not panic if your draft picks didn’t pan out in one week. Drop about 10 names on your watch list (Pat Angerer, Thomas Davis, Bart Scott, Jamar Chaney, Mason Foster) and feel free to shuffle players all season long.

Top LB Adds:

Sean Lee, LB, Dallas: 15.0 TFP
Lee looked the part on Sunday night against the Jets. He flew around the defense and was rarely off the field as it appears that Bradie James and Keith Brooking will be the ones rotating. Lee was a tackle machine at Penn State and should find himself with double-digit tackles on a consistent basis.

Daryl Washginton, LB, Arizona: 14.0 TFP
The only thing keeping Washington from the top add spot is his mild calf strain. He is questionable for this week’s game, so monitor the injury. However, when healthy, the second-year backer is a star in the making. The defense is designed around the former TCU star and he will make big plays all year long – he had a sack and interception against Carolina.

Sean Weatherspoon, LB, Atlanta: 10.0 TFP
Even with Curtis Lofton on the same field, Weatherspoon has the ability to be a star in this league. The former first-round pick was slowed due to injury last fall and came out swinging this fall. He posted nine solo stops against Chicago.

Week 1’s Top DLs:

1. Kory Biermann, DE, Atlanta: 18.0 TFP
2 solo tackles, ast, 1.0 sack, INT, TF, PD

2. Jason Pierre-Paul, DE, NY Giants: 14.5 TFP
5 solo tackles, ast, 2.0 sack, FF

3. Julius Peppers, DE, Chicago: 13.5 TFP
2 solo tackles, ast, 2.0 sack, FF, FR

Much like safeties and corners, the defensive end is normally the position to own on the fantasy IDP gridiron. Few defensive tackles are worth owning (Haloti Ngata is a monster by the way) so keep an eye on the edge of the defensive line.

The defensive line also appears like the most predictable preseason IDP position as Peppers, Jared Allen, John Abraham, Justin Smith, Mario Williams and Jason Babin all finished Week 1 in the top 10 of DL fantasy performers – as predicted.

Top DL Adds:

Jason Pierre-Paul, DE, NY Giants: 14.5 TFP
From a physical standpoint, JPP skills match that of most elite NFL pass rushers. He just needed the opportunity and a year of seasoning. With Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora struggling with injuries (JPP is a must add if you own either of those two), Pierre-Paul could be in for a big year in the Big Apple.

Ray McDonald, DE, San Francisco: 9.5 TFP
Finally getting his chance to play regularly, McDonald made the most of it in Week 1 with six solo stops and a sack. High tackle totals are a rare thing for most defensive lineman, so do not underestimate a player who looks poised for decent tackle totals.

JJ Watt, DE, Houston: 7.0 TFP
This guy never quits working. He is an absolute monster on the edge and it appears he will be a huge part of the dramatically improved Texans’ defense. He collected five solo stops and recovered a fumble in his first career game.

More NFL Fantasy Content

Athlon Sports Week 2 Waiver Wire Report

Ask Athlon Week 2 Fantasy Advice

NFL Fantasy: Week 1 By the Numbers


<p> Who were the top IDPs from Week 1? And who should you add for Week 2?</p>
Post date: Wednesday, September 14, 2011 - 09:56
Path: /columns/heisman-watch/athlon-sports-heisman-voting-week-3

-by Braden Gall (@AthlonBraden on twitter)

Each week, the Athlon editors will vote on the most prestigious award in all of college football. A nine-man conglomerate of college football gurus from Athlon Sports will vote for their top ten Heisman Trophy candidates. The votes will be tallied and the result will be posted as the Athlon Sports Heisman Watch List every Wednesday of the regular season.

Note: The scoring system is as follows: A first place vote earns a player 10 points. A second place votes earns nine points - so on and so forth until the 10th place player receives one point.

Two weeks do hardly a season make, but we have already seen plenty of Heisman moments from a number of potential finalists. Week Two featured Denard Robinson accounting for 98.7-percent of Michigan's total offense (446 of 452 yards) in the breathtaking come-from-behind win over Notre Dame. We also saw Marcus Lattimore carry the ball 13 times for 94 yards and a touchdown in the fourth quarter of the Cocks' win over Georgia.

There is one name noticeably missing: Oregon running back LaMichael James. Despite 123 yards from scrimmage and two scores in a blowout win, James fell completely off the list. He did not receive a top ten vote by any of the nine editors after finishing ninth last week.

And so, with Robert Griffin III, Kellen Moore, Landry Jones and Ryan Broyles all on bye in Week Two, the spotlight still belongs to the best player in the nation:

1. Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford (83/90 total points, 7/9 first place votes)
Season Stats: 38/54, 461 yards, 6 TD, INT, 5 att., 11 yards, TD

The Cardinal have won their two games by a combined 101-17, so Luck has not been needed at all in the fourth quarter of either contest. The Palo Alto prodigy completed 20 of his 28 passes for 290 yards and four touchdowns against Duke —which, for what it is worth, is technically a road win over an ACC team. Over his last five games dating back to last season, Luck has tossed 16 touchdowns against only two interceptions, and Stanford has won eight games in a row. Next Week: at Arizona

  Name Pos Team Pts 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th Ballots
1. Andrew Luck QB Stanford 83 7 - 1 - - 9
2. Kellen Moore QB Boise St 72 - 3 3 3 - 9
3. Robert Griffin III QB Baylor 71 - 6 - 1 - 9
4. Marcus Lattimore RB South Carolina 66 1 - 3 4 - 9
5. Landry Jones QB Oklahoma 45 1 - 1 - 2 8
6. Denard Robinson QB Michigan 35 - - 1 - 2 8
7. Justin Blackmon WR Oklahoma St 25 - - - - 2 8
8. Trent Richardson RB Alabama 24 - - - 1 - 7
9. Russell Wilson QB Wisconsin 22 - - - - 1 6
10. Ryan Broyles WR Oklahoma 13 - - - - - 5
11. Michael Floyd WR Notre Dame 6 - - - - 1 1
12. Kendall Wright WR Baylor 6 - - - - 1 1
13. Taylor Martinez QB Nebraska 5 - - - - - 1
14. David Wilson RB Virginia Tech 5 - - - - - 2
15. Case Keenum QB Houston 4 - - - - - 2
16. T.Y. Hilton WR FIU 4 - - - - - 1
17. Robert Woods WR USC 3 - - - - - 1
18. Tyler Bray QB Tennessee 3 - - - - - 1
19. Brandon Weeden QB Oklahoma St 2 - - - - - 1
20. Darron Thomas QB Oregon 1 - - - - - 1

2. Kellen Moore, QB, Boise State (72 pts)
Boise State was on bye in week two, but will travel to take on an interesting opponent this weekend. Toledo, considered by many to be the favorite in the MAC West, took Ohio State to the wire before losing 27-22 in the Horseshoe. The Rockets will be ready for Moore and Company Friday night. Next Game: at Toledo

3. Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor (71 pts)
Griffin and the Bears have had to wait a long time to get back on the field. In fact, 15 days will have passed since fans saw the most dynamic force in college football take the field. Statistically speaking, Griffin might be limited this week as Baylor hosts a fledgling FCS in-state program. Next Game: Stephen F. Austin

4. Marcus Lattimore, RB, South Carolina (66 pts, 1 first place vote)
The fourth quarter belonged to Lattimore last Saturday in Athens. His 13 rushing attempts on three final-quarter drives led to a touchdown, a field goal and ultimately iced the game on the final drive. He finished with 176 yards on 27 carries and the all-important fourth-quarter touchdown in what could turn out to be the most important win of the season for the Gamecocks. Next Game: Navy

5. Landry Jones, QB, Oklahoma (45 pts, 1 first place vote)
If out of sight out of mind was an issue for Jones in the Week Two voting, it certainly won't be the case after this weekend. Jones leads the Sooners into Tallahassee in what could be a BCS championship game elimination game. The Noles (2-0) have looked outstanding — against UL-Monroe and Charleston Southern. The Heisman could also be on the line for Jones should he struggle against what has been a dominant front line for FSU. However, the question remains: Has Florida State closed the 30-point gap from last season's 47-17 beating in Norman? Next Game: at Florida State

6. Denard Robinson, QB, Michigan (35 pts)
The list of superlatives is long for Shoelace after the performance he put on in Ann Arbor Saturday night. He racked up 948 yards of total offense in the last two wins over the Irish, accounting for an absurd 98.7-percent of the offense last weekend. Robinson threw for 338 yards on only 11 completions and rushed 16 times for 108 yards. He struggled in the first three quarters, throwing three interceptions, but transformed into the electrifying talent Maize and Blue fans have come to love in the final period. Which, of course, included the three-play, 80-yard scoring drive in the final 28 seconds. Next Game: Eastern Michigan

7. Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State (25 pts)
The next tier of vote-getters begins with the talented Pokes wideout. After a quiet eight-catch, 144-yard first weekend, Blackmon showcased his skills on national television in the Thursday night blowout win over Arizona. The junior caught 12 passes for 128 yards and two touchdowns. It doesn't appear that the Cowboys offense is missing Dana Holgorsen at all thus far. Next Game: at Tulsa

8. Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama (24 pts)
If a three-touchdown performance can be called a fluke, Richardson first showing of 2011 might be it. He carried only 13 times for 37 yards against Kent State in week one but bounced back in hostile territory to prove he belongs on this list. Against Penn State in Beaver Stadium, T-Rich touched the ball 30 times for 130 yards from scrimmage and a pair of key touchdowns to beat PSU 27-11. Next Game: North Texas

9. Russell Wilson, QB, Wisconsin (22 pts)
The most important recruit in the class of 2011 was not Jadeveon Clowney or Malcolm Brown or Isaiah Crowell. It was Russell Wilson. Wilson is leading the Big Ten in passer rating and is No. 2 in the nation in QB efficiency with an astonishing 237.64 rating. He has completed 27 of 34 passes for 444 yards, five touchdowns and no turnovers. He has added 73 yards rushing on only six carries and another score on the ground. Wilson alone makes this Badger team the Leaders of the pack in their division. However, voters won't truly learn about Wilson until Nebraska comes calling on October 1. Next Game: Northern Illinois, Chicago

10. Ryan Broyles, WR, Oklahoma (13 pts)
The talented, talkative wideout still leads the nation in receptions after his 14-catch opening weekend performance. After resting for the week, Broyles and company will have a chance to put on a show when the Sooners travel to Tallahassee this weekend to battle Florida State. The BCS national title and Heisman trophy could be on the line in the weekend's highest-profile contest. Next Game: at Florida State

Athlon Sports 120: Week 3

Previous Voting:

Athlon Sports Heisman Ballot: Week 2

Athlon Sports Heisman Ballot: Week 1

<p> Each week the Athlon editors will vote on the most prestigious award in all of sports.</p>
Post date: Wednesday, September 14, 2011 - 08:30
Path: /columns/national-notebook/college-football-boxscore-numbers

-by Braden Gall (@AthlonBraden on twitter)

Each week, Athlon will bring college football fans the most interesting, bizarre and thought-provoking statistics from the weekend of action.

60: Total points scored by the UConn Huskies in its last three games against FBS opponents - none of which came on an offensive touchdowns. They kicked nine field goals, blocked a punt, recovered a fumble in the endzone, returned two interceptions and scored on one kickoff return.

579: Total yards passing for Georgia Tech in two games. The Yellow Jackets threw for 1,091 yards in all of 2010.

22.3: Georgia Tech’s nation leading yards per pass attempt. Baylor is second at 14.3.

3.3: Yards per pass attempt by East Carolina’s Dominique Davis against Virginia Tech. He threw 38 passes for 127 yards.

948: Yards of total offense Michigan’s Denard Robinson has accounted for in his two wins over Notre Dame.

98.7%: Denard Robinson accounted for 446 of Michigan 452 total yards, or 98.7%.

45%: Notre Dame has entered the red zone 11 times and scored points five of them - good for 116th in the nation.

8: Number of times Army fumbled the ball in a 23-20 loss to San Diego State.

8: The number of passing touchdowns allowed by South Carolina in two games. The Cocks rank 110th in scoring defense at 39.5 points allowed per game.

48: Total yards for FAU against Michigan State. The Spartans held FAU to one first down.

12.2: Yards per touch by Oregon true freshman DeAnthony Thomas in his first two games. He has touched the ball 20 (12 rush, 8 rec.) times for 243 yards and three touchdowns.

153: The number of career receptions Michigan State’s B.J. Cunningham has after his five receptions this weekend. He is now MSU’s all-time leading receiver (148, Matt Trannon)

0: The number of total tackles on the season by Auburn’s Ryan Smith prior to stopping Mississippi State’s Chris Relf on the goalline as time expired in the Tigers 41-34 win.

474: A single-game school record for passing yards set this weekend by Colorado’s Tyler Hansen in an overtime loss to Cal. He was 28 of 49 passing.

3: Number of North Carolina quarterback Bryn Renner’s passes that have hit the ground out of 49 attempts. He has completed 42 and threw four interceptions.

60%: The percentage of passes caught by Bowling Green’s Eugene Cooper that have gone for a touchdown. He has 10 catches in two games and has scored a nation’s best six receiving touchdowns.

23: The number of touchdowns passes by Tennessee’s Tyler Bray in his first seven games as a starter. He has seven scoring strikes in two games this year against zero interceptions.

2: The total number of completions by the Wofford Terriers in the 35-27 loss to Clemson. Wofford entered the fourth quarter down by one point.

17.5: Total tackles per game by nation’s leading tackler Luke Kuechly through two games. The BC linebacker led the nation with 183 tackles as a sophomore and also posted 158 stops as a freshman.

123: Total points scored by Washington State in its first two games. It also marks the first back-to-back wins for Wassu since 2007.

<p> A statistical look at the best numbers of Week Two in college football.</p>
Post date: Monday, September 12, 2011 - 18:28
Path: /columns/5-burning-questions/five-star-freshman-make-big-impact

-by Braden Gall (@AthlonBraden on twitter)

Last week was a slow week in the recruiting world. Washington State picked up a trio of commitments and then won back-to-back games for the first time since 2007. The Pitt Panthers landed Pittsburgh (Pa.) Penn Hills wide receiver Corey Jones, and LSU got a verbal pledge from Palm Beach Gardens (Fla.) Dwyer offensive tackle Patrick Miller.

Other than that it was a relatively quiet week on the recruiting trail. The “recruiting” spotlight shone brightest on Saturday when a litany of true freshmen Athlon Consensus 100 recruits made a name for themselves. The 2011 class has made, in very short order, a massive impact on the college football world.

View the complete 2011 Athlon Consensus 100 here

Here is a look at some of the biggest impact five-star (Top 35) AC100 freshmen of the first two weeks:

Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina (AC100 No. 1)
The world’s unanimous No. 1 prospect has proven in short order that he will be a force to be reckoned with on the field. His size — which will only get bigger and scarier — is painfully obvious to opposing offensive blockers as he has delivered some crushing hits to quarterbacks. He leads the Gamecocks with two sacks already and was a huge factor in the key victory over Georgia. Stats: 9 tackles, 2.5 TFL, 2 sacks, 1 FF

Malcolm Brown, RB, Texas (No. 4)
The No. 1 running back is leading the Horns in rushing and carries after two weeks and has helped reestablish a power running game for the Burnt Orange for the first time in nearly a decade. Stats: 30 att., 154 yards

DeAnthony Thomas, RB, Oregon (No. 5)
His big play ability has been on full display in short order. Thomas is averaging 8.6 yards per carry and 17.5 yards per reception for the Ducks. He will continue to be a dynamic threat in that high-powered Chip Kelly offense. Stats: 12 att., 103 yards, TD, 8 rec., 140 yards, 2 TD

Isaiah Crowell, RB, Georgia (No. 9)
The Dawgs may be 0-2, but Mark Richt has clearly found his new star on offense. Crowell has been battling through a slight rib injury and established himself as the focal point of this entire offense. Stats: 31 att., 178 yards, TD, 2 rec., 40 yards, TD

James Wilder, RB, Florida State (No. 12)
He failed to see the field in week one but led the team in rushing in week two. In fact, he currently leads the team in rushing after two blowout wins. We will learn more about Mr. Wilder this weekend against Oklahoma. Stats: 10 att., 76 yards

Tim Jernigan, DT, Florida State (No. 13)
He quickly established himself as a summer camp monster once practice began, and in some short work thus far he has proven he was worth the hype. Stats: 5 tackles, 2 TFL, 1 sack

Stephone Anthony, LB, Clemson (No. 16)
Fellow AC100 linebacker Tony Steward is seeing some time as well (4 total tackles) but Anthony has made the bigger splash. Stats: 6 tackles, 1 TLF, 1 sack

Jeff Driskel, QB, Florida (No. 17)
The No. 1 quarterback in the nation has seen some garbage time in two blowout wins. The dual-threat is the heir apparent to the Gator throne at quarterback. Stats: 5-7, 59 yards, INT, 4 att., 13 yards

Jarvis Landry, WR, LSU (No. 19)
Landry hasn’t made a huge splash yet, but he did catch a pass against LSU in week one and then made a big play in the return game in week two. Expect more things from Landry in 2011. Stats: 1 rec., 3 yards, 1 PR, 31 yards

Steve Edmond, LB, Texas (No. 23)
This tackler could see more of the field as the season goes on, but he improved from Week One to Week Two, posting three solo tackles and a forced fumble in the come-from-behind win over BYU. Stats: 4 tackles, 1 FF

Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson (No. 24)
The versatile, dynamic playmaker has made an instant impact in the dramatic switch in offense for Clemson. Watkins is leading the Tigers in receptions and yards thus far while also seeing some snaps in the backfield and returning kicks. Stats: 11 rec., 137 yards, 2 TD, 5 att., 35 yards, 5 KR, 110 yards

Nick O’Leary, TE, Florida State (No. 26)
The youngster hasn’t made a huge splash but has caught a pass in each of his first two games for the Noles. Stats: 2 rec., 16 yards

Savon Huggins, RB, Rutgers (No. 28)
Huggins struggled in Week Two against North Carolina – but so did every other player in that game for either team. He had a strong debut against NC Central, however, and expect his role to continue to grow as the year goes along. Stats: 17 att., 32 yards, 2 TD

Mike Bellamy, RB, Clemson (No. 29)
The speedy recruit is second on the team in rushing and has proven to be a very capable back-up for Andre Ellington. He is averaging 20 yards per carry and has been used on kick returns as well. Stats: 5 att., 100 yards, TD, 4 KR, 64 yards

Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State (No. 30)
Miller didn’t see any time in the second week against Toledo, but with the way Joe Bauserman played, signs point to Miller possibly working into the lineup more. He did see plenty of time in Week One however. Stats: 8-12, 130 yards, TD, 6 att., 30 yards

Trey DePriest, LB, Alabama (No. 32)
This is a player who is seeing time on the best defense in the nation – and is fifth in tackles for the Tide. The sky is the limit with the talent he can learn from around him, the coaching and his obvious raw ability. Stats: 12 tackles, 0.5 TFL

Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Washington (No. 33)
Made one of the biggest plays of the game in the 40-32 win over Hawaii this weekend, helping the Huskies to hold on by catching a 14-yard TD pass with 10 minutes to go in the game. He also had a big 47-yard catch as well. Stats: 4 rec., 101 yards, TD

This list doesn’t even include Notre Dame’s D-Line tandem of Ishaq Williams and Aaron Lynch, both of whom have seen the field some early on. It doesn’t include Oklahoma back Brandon Williams, who has reportedly been impressive in practice. Ha’Sean Clinton-Dix has also seen some playing time (2 tackles), but Bama’s secondary is so loaded it might be tough for him to make a big impact despite his future being very bright. Nebraska’s Aaron Green also got some carries in week one and will likely see more time as the season wears along.

And that is just the top 35 of the AC100. Just at the wideout positions, Marquise Lee of USC, Jamal Turner of Nebraska and Jaxon Shipley of Texas have been instant-impact AC100 talents in only two weeks.

There are those in this business who love to rip on the recruiting rankings. But it appears that the 2011 Athlon Consensus 100 was accurate.

<p> The 2011 class of five-star recruits has already made a huge impact on college football.</p>
Post date: Monday, September 12, 2011 - 17:00
Path: /columns/waiver-wire/college-fantasy-football-week-2-waiver-wire

-By Braden Gall (@AthlonBraden on twitter)

Week 2 of the college football season didn't appear to have a particularly stimulating slate of action, but those are the weekends that sometimes turn out the best. Dramatic finishes from coast-to-coast had college football fans on the edge of their seats all weekend long.

From Tempe to Ames to Ann Arbor to Athens there was high intensity drama in every league. Ideally, the same type of action took place on the fantasy gridiron as well. Two weeks in, there is still much to be learned - and many names to pull off that watchlist and into the starting line-up.


Tyler Hansen, Colorado (474 yards, 3 TD, 26 yards rushing)
There are some tough games left on the slate (Ohio State, Stanford, Oregon to name a few) but a single-game school passing record cannot be ignored. With Colorado State in Week 3, Hansen is a near must-add.

Trent Steelman, Army (21 att., 157 yards, 3 TD, 43 yards passing)
The veteran has started 27 straight games and he exploded against San Diego State. With Northwestern, Ball State, Tulane and Miami, Ohio the next four games on the slate, the Knights signal caller should be a waiver wire steal-man.

Steele Jantz, Iowa State (279 yards, 4 TD, 42 yards rushing)
Precious metals appear to be a theme this week as the No. 6-ranked fantasy quarterback in the nation after two weeks is Steele Jantz. Certainly, overtime padded his stats, but his athletic ability was on full display against a quality defense. The upside may be limited, however, as the schedule gets tough from here on out.

Marshall Lobbestael
, Washington State (361 yards, 5 TD)
Even without starter Jeff Tuel, the Cougars appear to be headed in the right direction. A 59-7 whipping has placed Lobbestael squarely on the fantasy map - especially with star wideout Marquess Wilson to work with.

Keith Price, Washington (315 yards, 4 TD, INT)
This was one of the more surprising scores - at least at the end of the first. Price led the Huskies to a 21-0 lead early and held on for an underrated win. U of W heads to Nebraska next week, so Price isn't a good play until Week Four, but seven touchdowns in two games cannot be ignored.

Just in case you didn't get last week's memo:

Matt Schilz, Bowling Green (258 yards, 5 TD, INT)
Seven touchdowns against only a single interception thus far with a MAC schedule waiting.

Tevin Washington, Georgia Tech (202 yards, 2 TD, 6 yards rushing, 2 TD)
Seven total touchdowns thus far in best Paul Johnson passing attack we've ever seen. Kansas is next (Chandler Harnish anyone?)

Zach Maynard, Cal (243 yards, 4 TD, INT, 1 rec., 27 yards)
Rapport with half-brother Keenan Allen is unmistakable. Presbyterian and Washington next.

Kain Colter, Northwestern (104 yards, 109 yards rushing, 3 TD)
If you own Dan Persa, I sure hope you added Colter last week.

Brett Smith, Wyoming (236 yards, TD, 2 INT, 73 yards rushing, 2 TD)
Some growing pains ahead for freshman, but is the nation's No. 3 fantasy QB.

Running Backs:

Michael Hayes, Houston (76 yards, TD, 5 rec., 32 yards, TD)
That is four touchdowns and 11 receptions in two games. While there is crowded backfield in Houston, Hayes appears to be getting the most touches. Keep an eye on this one but cupcake C-USA schedule looms.

De'Anthony Thomas, Oregon (81 yards, 2 rec., 93 yards, 2 TD)
The Black Mamba has scored in each of his first two games as a collegiate athlete. His big-play ability will force Chip Kelly to keep him on the field - even in non-blowout situations. If you own LaMichael James, he is a no-brain add. If you don't consider his next three: Missouri State, Arizona and Cal.

Jeff Scott, Ole Miss (118 yards, 3 TD, PR TD)
The most explosive looking back for the Rebels got his chance due to injuries to Brandon Bolden and Enrique Davis. With Vandy and Georgia coming up next the schedule is tough, but he should be the bulk carrier until either Bolder or Davis returns.

Carlos Hyde, Ohio State (76 yards, 2 TD, 4 rec., 28 yards)
With suspensions still looming all over the depth chart, Hyde appears to be the go-to back for the Bucks. Hyde has 39 carries in the first two games with Miami and Colorado next on the schedule.

Giovani Bernard, North Carolina (81 yards, 2 TD, 4 rec., 22 yards)
In what was a sloppy affair against quality competition, Bernard scored his third and fourth touchdowns of the season. Virginia, Georgia Tech, East Carolina and Louisville are the Tar Heels next four contest.

James Sims, Kansas (110 yards, 2 TD, 2 rec., 49 yards)
Back-to-back 100-yard games to start the season cannot go overlooked. The schedule has some speed bumps, but is not loaded with potent defenses, so anyone who is considered a feature back must be added.

Frankie Jackson, Arkansas State (101 yards, TD, 2 rec., 16 yards)
Double-digit carries and a touchdown in each of the season's first two games warrant some attention. Maybe more of a watchlist-er.

Just in case you didn't get last week's memo:

Branden Oliver, Buffalo (126 yards, 3 TD, 2 rec., 21 yards)
I am not sure I should even have to tell you to pick this one up.

Anthon Samuel, Bowling Green (122 yards, TD)
Jordan Hopgood is still getting his touches too - and both might be viable options once in MAC play.

Chris Rainey, Florida (119 yards, TD, 3 rec., 43 yards)
Looks like Rainey might be the feature play-maker for Charlie Weis. Jeff Demps got three touches.

Wide Receivers:

Eugene Cooper, Bowling Green (6 rec., 134 yards, 4 TD)
Six touchdowns in two games shows clear connection with Schilz at quarterback.

Paul Richardson, Colorado (11 rec., 284 yards, 2 TD)
That stat line is pretty much self-explanatory. Also scored twice in week one as well.

Quinton Patton, Louisiana Tech (8 rec., 211 yards, 2 TD)
Posted 14 touches in the first two games of the year - and 312 yards from scrimmage.

Josh Jarboe, Arkansas State (7 rec., 162 yards, 2 TD)
Forgotten stud recruit has begun to make an impact - has 12 catches in two games.

Aaron Pflugrad, Arizona State (8 rec., 180 yards, 2 TD)
Former Oregon Duck has scored two touchdowns in each of his first two games of the year.

Stephen Hill, Georgia Tech (3 rec., 126 yards, TD)
Won't post big reception totals but proved week one's big plays were no fluke.

Tight Ends:

Jacob Pederson, Wisconsin (6 rec., 80 yards, 2 TD)
Three scores in two weeks from a Wisconsin tight end? No-brainer add.

Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Washington (3 rec., 91 yards, TD)
Supreme physical talents with a developing quarterback. Keep an eye on him.

Zach Ertz, Stanford (3 rec., 44 yards, TD)
Back-to-back games with a touchdown to start the season.

Defense/Special Teams:

South Florida Bulls
Two huge games from the Bulls DST and now Florida A&M in Week Three. Duh.

Oregon Ducks
After a pathetic showing in Week One, the Ducks dominated against Nevada. Missouri State in Week Three.

Arkansas Razorbacks
The Hogs have allowed 10 total points this season and get Troy in Week Three.

<p> Two weeks are in the books and the waiver wire still has plenty to offer fantasy GMs.</p>
Post date: Sunday, September 11, 2011 - 15:30
Path: /columns/5-burning-questions/betting-against-spread-week-2-picks

-by Braden Gall (@AthlonBraden)

We certainly do not condone gambling here at Athlon Sports, but much can be gleaned from a quick look at the points spreads. As we enter Week Two of the college football season we are still learning a lot about most football teams due to vanilla offensive game plans and atrocious levels of competition. Fans should have a much more accurate view of teams like Arizona State, Auburn, Rutgers and Michigan than after the first week of play.

Last week was an interesting one for my picks due to inclement weather and major suspensions. I got Maryland, Stanford, Michigan, LSU and the upset special Baylor on the positive side of the ledger while Georgia, Boston College and Auburn totally wet the bed. UCLA was one point away from giving me another upset win, but couldn't get it done in the end. I can't give myself the win for West Virginia, but I think we all know had the game been completed instead of halted with a quarter to go, they would have easily covered the spread.

On to Week Two with a heavy dose of road favorites...

Season Record ATS: 5-4-1

Week 2's Top Picks (all times eastern):

1. Tulsa at Tulane (+12)
Sept. 10, 3:30

Tulane allowed 295 yards passing, 174 yards rushing and 33 points last week at home to Southeastern Louisiana. I repeat: Southeastern Louisiana. Tulsa is coming off a brutal beatdown at the hands of the in-state Sooners and will be eager to get the bad taste out of its mouth. The Golden Hurricane are hungry and new head coach Bill Blankenship will get his first career win at his alma mater. Tulsa won this match-up last season 52-24. My pick: Tulsa -12

2. Stanford at Duke (+18)
Sept. 10, 3:30 PM

The Cardinal covered the 29-point spread last week for me at home against San Jose State and then some. David Shaw won his first game as head coach by 54 points. The last time Andrew Luck faced an ACC opponent like Duke, he led the offense to 68 points (68-24). In fact, Luck led the Cardinal to a win over ACC champion Virginia Tech 40-12 in the Orange Bowl. Duke, on the other hand, lost to Richmond in Week One and has nowhere near the firepower needed to keep this one even remotely close. My pick: Stanford -18

3. Alabama at Penn State (+10)
Sept. 10, 3:30 PM

The Tide enter Week Two as arguably the best team in the nation after destroying Nick Saban's alma mater Kent State 48-7. These two squared off in Tuscaloosa last fall to the tune of a 24-3 Alabama victory. While this team is missing key pieces on offense, the defense is clearly better. The best linebackers and secondary in the nation held KSU to 99 yards passing and -9 yards rushing in Week One. With Rob Bolden and Matt McGloin still rotating at quarterback, Penn State will have a tough time closing the 21-point gap from a year ago. My pick: Bama -10

Iowa at Iowa State (+5.5)
Sept. 10, 12:00 PM

The last three times these two have met, Iowa State has combined to score a total of 15 points (5, 3, 7). Iowa has scored 35 points two seasons in a row against the rival Cyclones. The total score of the last two games has been 70-10. The Hawks rolled in Week One 34-7 over a clearly inferior opponent in Tennessee Tech while ISU struggled mightly with its own inferior competition, beating Northern Iowa by one 20-19. There is no way the Cyclones have closed gap. My pick: Iowa -5.5 

5. Mississippi State at Auburn (+5.5)
Sept. 10, 12:21 PM

Auburn killed me last week as I thought that Utah State, with a true freshman quarterback, would be no test at all for the defending champions. The Tigers needed an onside kick to beat the Aggies after allowing 448 yards of offense and forcing zero turnovers against USU. The Bulldogs looked nearly perfect on Thursday night on the road against Memphis, winning 59-14. The Cam Newton legacy began last fall in Week Two when he led a fourth quarter drive to beat Mississippi State 17-14 in Starkville. This Auburn team is clearly in rebuilding mode while there are very few weaknesses for MSU. Dan Mullen has to win this game if he expects to compete for an SEC West crown. Mississippi State -5.5

6. New Mexico State at Minnesota (-18)
Sept. 10, 3:30 PM

The Aggies allowed 452 yards and 44 points at home to Ohio last week. New Mexico State has won five games over the last two seasons — beating New Mexico twice, San Jose State, Praire View A&M and Utah State. Minnesota, under new hard-nosed head coach Jerry Kill, nearly pulled off the shocker of the weekend by almost toppling the mighty Trojans of USC, losing 19-17. In the home opener for Kill, expect the Gophers to run up the score and win big in what should be the only time Minnesota appears in this article all season. My Pick: Gophers -18

Tier two picks if you're feeling lucky:

7. Cincinnati at Tennessee (-4.5)
Sept. 10, 3:30 PM
My Pick: Tennessee -4.5

TCU at Air Force (+1)
Sept. 10, 3:30 PM
My Pick: TCU -1

9. Georgia Tech at Middle Tennessee (+11)
Sept. 10, 7:00 PM
My Pick: Georgia Tech -11

Other Week 2 Content:

Mitch Light's Weekend On Tap: The Ten Best Games of the Weekend

Athlon picks every game of Week 2

College Fantasy Football Start or Sit: Week 2
Steven Lassan's 10 Key Storylines for Week 2

<p> Athlon's Braden Gall offers his top college football picks against the spread each week.</p>
Post date: Friday, September 9, 2011 - 13:16
Path: /columns/start-or-sit/college-fantasy-football-start-or-sit-week-2

- by Braden Gall (@AthlonBraden on twitter)

Week One of the college football season offers plenty of opportunity for owners to get cheap points against lowly competition. Week Two is time for study hall. We still do not know a lot about many teams as vanilla offensive game plans and FCS opponents create a skewed view of the fantasy landscape.

Fantasy GMs should have a much better grasp of what teams like Arizona State, Auburn and Rutgers will actually look like in 2011 after this weekend of action. Make sure the pen and paper is near the Lazy-Boy, as we will learn a lot more this weekend.

In the meantime, here is Athlon Sports' college fantasy guide to Week Two:

Start These Quarterbacks:

Russell Wilson, Wisconsin (Oregon State)
Sacramento State threw the ball 36 times for 296 yards and four touchdowns against this Beaver defense. They also allowed quarterback Jeff Fleming 54 yards gained on the ground as well. Wilson is absolutely the real deal and will post solid numbers again in Week Two.

Brett Smith, Wyoming (Texas State)
The freshman was the highlight of the Wyoming-Weber State boxscore. He chucked it around 41 times for nearly 300 yards while adding some dynamic rushing production (13 att., 44 yds, TD). With a whole stable of backs and receivers — and another weak opponent —Smith should post another big week as he continues to get himself acclimated to the college game. There are no reins on this Cowboy.

Chris Relf, Mississippi State (at Auburn)
This offense looked like a well-oiled machine last week, albeit against Memphis. Auburn allowed 448 yards of offense and forced zero turnovers at home against a true freshman. This is a huge statement game for the Dogs of Starkville if they expect to compete for an SEC West title. Relf was a master of efficiency throwing the ball and led the team in rushing attempts in Week 1.

Alex Gillett, Eastern Michigan (Alabama State)
This guy was the EMU offense in the week one blowout win over Howard. He threw the ball 21 times (115 yards) and ran it another 13 times (76 yards) while scoring three total touchdowns. Alabama State won’t offer much more of a test for the junior quarterback, who ran for nearly 800 yards a year ago.

Should they get the majority of the snaps:

J.J. McDermott, SMU (UTEP)
Kyle Padron will play, but how much? And this matchup is just too good.

Kain Colter, Northwestern (Eastern Illinois)
Led all FBS QBs in carries last week (23) and will post big numbers IF Dan Persa is out.

If You Are Desperate:

1. Chuckie Keeton, Utah State (Weber State)
2. Matt Schilz, Bowling Green (Morgan State)
3. MarQuies Gray, Minnesota (New Mexico State)
4. Tyler Tettleton, Ohio (Gardner Webb)
5. Ryan Nassib, Syracuse (Rhode Island)
6. Bryan Reader, Idaho (North Dakota)

Bench These Quarterbacks:

Dominique Davis, East Carolina (Virginia Tech)
Yes, I told you to back off DD last week and he scored five times. But I am going back to the well in Week 2. Virginia Tech’s defense is dramatically better than that of South Carolina’s — just ask the Appalachian State quarterbacks. DeAndre Presley and Jamal Jackson combined for 9-of-26 passing for 176 yards and three interceptions last week against the Hokies.

Jake Heaps, BYU (at Texas)
Last week’s 14-point come-from-behind second-half win over Ole Miss was not a pretty display of football. Heaps did complete 24 of his 38 passes but managed only 225 yards. Going into DKR Memorial Stadium will be that much more difficult for the sophomore. Expect huge things from Heaps as his career and season move along, but I cannot put him in the lineup this weekend in Austin.

Bryan Ellis, UAB (at Florida)
UAB was one of only two teams on bye last week (Nevada), so Ellis walks into the Swamp without a single snap under his belt in 2011. And the Gators, a 23-point favorite, allowed a total of 107 yards passing on 27 attempts last week in their 41-3 win over FAU. And if you think the running game will take some pressure off Ellis, think again. FAU mustered 30 yards rushing on 30 attempts last week.

Jeff Godfrey, UCF (Boston College)
The uber-talented sophomore led the Knights into the redzone eight times last weekend, resulting in eight touchdowns. But that was Charleston Southern — not the ACC. Boston College is excellent on defense and will take the air out of the ball on offense. Godfrey could pick up some yards on the ground and maybe a score, but even in a good week, he totaled 146 yards of total offense. He won’t rush for three touchdowns this time around.


Tim Jefferson, Air Force (TCU)
The Falcons quarterback was solid if uninspiring in his 2011 debut last week. He did account for three scores but also tossed two interceptions and totaled a measly 165 yards of offense. TCU was lit up by Robert Griffin and has been put on alert by Gary Patterson. Do not expect big numbers from the triple option threat from Colorado Springs.

Stephen Garcia at Aaron Murray (South Carolina at Georgia)
Remove the 2009 41-37 battle between these two for a second. No team in this series has reached 20 points since 2004. If you take the 31-7 2003 drubbing out of the equation, only three times since 1997 (11 games) has a team topped 20 points in this game. The average score between these two (minus 2009) has been Georgia 14.5, South Carolina 11.8 over the last six. Those numbers don’t exactly equal fantasy stardom.

Be Very Wary:

Zach Collaros, Cincinnati (at Tennessee)
James Franklin at Brock Osweiler (Missouri at Arizona State)
Denard Robinson, Michigan (Notre Dame)
Chandler Harnish, Northern Illinois (at Kansas)
Tajh Boyd, Clemson (Wofford)

Start These Running Backs:

Kevin Parks, UVa (Indiana)
Reading between the lines of Mike London's comments after Parks' 114-yard, 3-TD collegiate debut, it sounds like the redshirt freshman has the inside track on goal-line carries. He brings a different dimension — albeit 5-foot-8 — to the offense with his power and strength that starter Perry Jones lacks. The Hoosiers got the Kevin Wilson era started by allowing 210 yards rushing to Ball State in a loss. The record-setting prep back will have another good week.

Ralph Bolden, Purdue (@ Rice)
It was great to see Bolden back on the field, cutting at full speed and accelerating through holes again. After sitting for the entire 2010 season due to a knee injury, he returned to the field with a solid 17-carry, 120-yard performance against Middle Tennessee last week. He looks healthy, and Rice allowed 229 yards rushing to a Texas team that has struggled to run the ball for half a decade.

Branden Oliver, Buffalo (Stony Brook)
Anytime a running back gets 39 touches in a 35-16 loss, he is immediately added to my roster. With Stony Brook and the MAC schedule waiting, Oliver looks like he could be one of the top pick-ups of the year. The Bulls tailbacks have been strong fantasy plays for years, and Oliver looks like the next in line.

Chris Rainey and Jeff Demps, Florida (UAB)
These two look like they will both get plenty of touches in Charlie Weis’ new system. Demps totaled 15 touches, 126 yards from scrimmage and two scores last week, while Rainey posted 17 touches, 146 yards from scrimmage and two of his own trips to paydirt. UAB has yet to play a game and is traveling into the Swamp. They seem like no-brainers.

Michael Ford, LSU (Northwestern State)
Spencer Ware is still the starter (and should also be in your lineup) but Ford played great football against Oregon last week and finally showed the nation what kind of talent he has. Against lowly Northwestern State, Ford could see plenty of second-half carries — and I am prerty sure Ed Oregeron isn’t walking through that door.

If You Are Desperate:

1. Alvester Alexander, Wyoming (Texas State)
2. Anthon Samuel, Bowling Green (Morgan State)
3. Duane Bennett, Minnesota (New Mexico State)
4. Donte Harden and Beau Blankenship, Ohio (Gardner Webb)
5. Javonti Greene and Dominique Sherrer, EMU (Alabama State)
6. Ryan Bass, Idaho (North Dakota)
7. Mike Bellamy, Clemson (Wofford)

Bench These Running Backs:

Silas Redd, Penn State (Alabama)
Just pop in the tape of Alabama and Kent State last week. Seriously. I shouldn’t have to say anything more (but I will). Bama allowed -9 yards rushing on 23 carries and 99 yards passing on 47 attempts to the not-so-Golden Flashes. I am not sure Kent State crossed the fifty more than once. This is a no-brainer.

Adonis Thomas, Toledo (at Ohio State)
Yes, Toledo might be the best team in the MAC. Yes, they might keep the score close. But with two quarterbacks under center in the Horseshoe against this defense, it is hard for me to see Thomas accomplishing anything. The Bucks allowed 35 yards rushing on 27 carries and no points a week ago to Akron.

Robbie Rouse, Fresno State (at Nebraska)
The Bulldogs tailback started 2011 with two scores and over five yards per carry against Pac-12 competition in Cal. This weekend will provide a much stiffer test with Jared Crick, Lavonte David and company patrolling the line of scrimmage. In the three games FSU played last year against BCS opponents, Rouse posted 62 yards on 27 carries.

Andre Williams, Boston College (at UCF)
The back-up for BC plowed through Northwestern for an adequate 25.5 TFP week. Yet, 69 of those 114 yards came on the first carry from scrimmage, and UCF has been stout defensively for years under George O’Leary. The Knights ranked eighth nationally against the run last season and held Georgia to 82 yards on 32 carries in the bowl game.

Isaiah Crowell, Georgia (South Carolina)
In real college football terms, 60 yards on 15 carries against one of the top defensive line units in the nation in your first college football game on national television really isn’t all that bad. In fantasy college football, it’s completely worthless. While South Carolina may not have the exact same D-Line, it’s pretty close and will force Aaron Murray to beat it. Expect another low-scoring affair.

Savon Huggins, Rutgers (at North Carolina)
Another true freshman with another solid first career game last week who should be on the bench this week. The Tar Heel athletes of Chapel Hill are slightly different than those from NC Central. North Carolina held James Madison to 59 yards on 39 carries last week, and while the Rutgers offensive line looks to be improved, the sledding will be tough for Huggins.

Will Not Play:

Montel Harris, Boston College (at UCF)
Malcolm Agnew, Oregon State (at Wisconsin)


Josh Boyce, TCU (at Air Force)
Caught nine passes for nearly 100 yards, scored a TD and a 2-pointer and ran the ball.

Robert Herron, Wyoming (Texas State)
Converted running back is blossoming as pass catcher: 7-104-2 last week.

Sammy Watkins, Clemson (Wofford)
Quite a first game from AC100 talent: 7-81-1 with a couple of carries.

Week 2 Wideout Corps To Watch:

Buffalo: Alex Neutz, Marcus Rivers (Stony Brook)
The Bulls threw it 49 times last week and these two caught 18 passes.

Cal: Marvin Jones, Keenan Allen (at Colorado)
Family connection caught 13 of the 16 Zach Maynard completions last week.

New Mexico State: Todd Lee, Taveon Rogers (at Minnesota)
Week 1: 12 rec. 232 yds, 2 TD. Did anyone see what Robert Woods did to Minnesota?

San Diego State: Dylan Denso, Colin Lockett (at Army)
The pair combined for three touchdowns and 148 yards in Week 1.

Arkansas: Jarius Wright, Greg Childs, Joe Adams (New Mexico)
Wright and Childs delivered in Week 1 blowout. Time for Adams to step up.

UTEP: Mike Edwards, Donavon Kemp (at SMU)
Combined for 11 catches and 199 yards last week. Could be a shootout this week.

Top Ten DEF/ST Spot Starts:

1. Arkansas (New Mexico)
2. Clemson (Wofford)
3. Illinois (South Dakota State)
4. South Florida (Ball State)
5. Ole Miss (Southern Illinois)
6-7. UConn at Vanderbilt
8. Stanford (at Duke)
9. UCF (Boston College)
10. Colorado State (Northern Colorado)

Photo credit: Stephanie Moebius, The Badger Herald

Other Week Two Content:

Mitch Light's Weekend On Tap: Week 2's Top Ten Games

College Football's Future: Super Conferences

Will Boise State Go Undefeated...Again?

What the birth of the Big 12 tells us about future expansion?

Baylor Threatens to Control Texas A&M


<p> Athlon prepares the college fantasy player with in-depth match-up analysis for Week 2.</p>
Post date: Friday, September 9, 2011 - 06:16
Path: /columns/5-burning-questions/college-footballs-super-conferences

-by Braden Gall (@AthlonBraden on twitter)

The end of the world is not upon us. The sky isn’t falling.

And the gates of hell are not opening to swallow conference commissioners, university presidents or TV executives anytime soon.

And the most dreaded 15-letter word in the college football vernacular isn’t going to ruin the greatest sport on the planet either. Writers, fans and talking heads everywhere are generating just as much hysteria about conference expansion as the puppet masters themselves.

To quote a national NCAA writer who I have worked with and respect greatly, “The game will lose all semblance of its unique and special place in the sports world. It will be just another sport fueled by another mega television network; another sport rolled into a homogenized, hyperbolized ball of bland.”

Hyperbolized? An ironic choice of words, I would say.

How will college football lose all semblance of its unique and special place? How is college football not already fueled by mega TV contracts? How are $120 million athletic departments not already dichotomizing college football into two distinct factions? How will simply placing a tangible dividing line between those two factions change anything about the sport we know and love?

There will still be bowl games aplenty. Regional rivalries will not evaporate. Players will always maintain amateur status and will still be "required" to go to class. Pep bands, cheerleaders and Saturday morning games of corn hole aren’t going anywhere. Auburn and Alabama aren’t going to hate each other any less if Texas Tech joins the Pac-12 or if Notre Dame joins the Big Ten.

At the end of the day, there will be more money to go around, the fans get to see the playoff they have been craving for decades and maybe – just maybe – a governing body could be created that would actually have some semblance of control over its participating programs.

And how will eliminating the NCAA from the college football championship cause the football world to implode upon itself?

The NCAA reminds us all the time that there are “over 400,000 student athletes going pro in something other than sports” or that the money is used to “fund 88 different championships and support 1,055 member colleges and universities.”

What they conveniently fail to mention is that the college football BCS Championship isn’t one of those 88 sanctioned titles. The BCS is a seperate entity that makes trucksloads of cash and apparently spends it on political contributions and strip clubs (looking at you John). And who honestly cares if the NCAA has slightly fewer than 1,000 member institutes instead of 1,055?

LSU fans lose sleep over the play of Jarrett Lee, not the acronym attached to their national title.

The fans are what matter, and the fans are the ones who need to sit back, relax and dream about the positives this conference upheaval could have on college football (as if anyone has a choice anyway).

So just in case you are having trouble slowing your breathing, here is what it might look like in a perfectly merged world of profit and play:

-- Four 16-team conferences - the SEC, the B1G Ten, the Pac-16 and the East Coast Conference - each with two eight-team divisions will break from the NCAA.

-- Each division offers an automatic bid into a 12-team NFL-style playoff with four teams earning "byes."

-- A selection committee of experts whose sole purpose in life is to evaluate college football teams will be formed with the intent on selecting the aforementioned "byes" (should they not be obvious). This committee will also seed the 12 teams, with each divisional winner guaranteed at least one home playoff game. This committee will also select four "wild card" or "at-large" bids who will play on the road in the first round.

-- This committee will completely eliminate any need for any human or computer poll...ever...again.

-- There will be no more conference championship games - which are blatant money grabs to begin with - and every playoff game will be played in home stadiums. Oregon and Auburn waited 37 days to play for the 2010 title, so please spare me the "kids need to study" routine.

-- The National Championship game will be played at a pre-determined neutral site.

-- Unfortunately, in order to land that Texas-Alabama national semifinal or Ohio State-Florida quarterfinal, my plan for college football has to have some victims too. Baylor, Kansas State, Iowa State, Boise State and BYU will all find themselves on the outside looking in.

It has the equality and raw excitement of the NFL postseason mixed with the regional passion of college football. Look at the future match-ups this system would potentially offer and tell me your regional amatuer pigskin blood is boiling with anticipation for a Florida State-Oklahoma quarterfinal or an Oregon-Michigan first round contest? It makes the Beef 'O' Brady's St. Petersburg Bowl - which would still be played by the way - look like Pop Warner Wednesdays in the burbs.

The world is in a constant state of progression. What makes college football any different?










Other Expansion Content:

What the birth of the Big 12 tells us about future expansion?

Baylor Threatens to Control Texas A&M

<p> What would college football look like with four superconferences? Is it really that bad?</p>
Post date: Thursday, September 8, 2011 - 10:13
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Heisman Watch
Path: /columns/5-burning-questions/athlon-sports-heisman-voting-week-2

-by Braden Gall (@AthlonBraden on twitter)

Each week, the Athlon editors will vote on the most prestigious award in all of college football. A nine-man conglomerate of college football gurus from Athlon Sports will vote for their top ten Heisman Trophy candidates. The votes will be tallied and the result will be posted as the Athlon Sports Heisman Watch List every Wednesday of the regular season.

Note: The scoring system is as follows: A first place vote earns a player 10 points. A second place votes earns nine points - so on and so forth until the 10th place player receives one point.

After one week of play, one signal-caller still stands above all. However, two other gunslingers led their teams to arguably the biggest victories of the weekend while simultaneously closing the gap in the Heisman conversation. The initial Heisman voting included 17 different names, and six players landed on all nine ballots. The Week Two edition features 22 different players, while only two individuals (Kellen Moore and Robert Griffin III) received votes from all nine Athlon editors.

1. Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford (78/90 total points, 7/9 first place votes)
The game's best player completed 17 of his 26 passes — to seven different receivers — for 171 yards and scored the Cardinal's first touchdown of 2011 when he scrambled around the right end and dove for the pylon. Luck tossed two more first-half touchdowns, and Stanford finished week one with a 57-3 win over San Jose State. Luck's two scoring strikes were his 46th and 47th of his career, placing him fourth all-time in school history. Week 2: At Duke

  Name Pos Team Tot Pts 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th Left Off
1. Andrew Luck QB Stanford 78/90 7 - 1 - - 1
2. Kellen Moore QB Boise St 75 1 3 4 - 1 0
3. Robert Griffin III QB Baylor 68 - 5 - 1 1 0
4t. Marcus Lattimore RB S. Carolina 53 - 1 1 3 2 1
5t. Landry Jones QB Oklahoma 53 1 - 1 2 1 1
6. Trent Richardson RB Alabama 29 - - - 2 - 1
7. Justin Blackmon WR Oklahoma St 23 - - - - 1 1
8. Ryan Broyles WR Oklahoma 22 - - - - - 3
9. LaMichael James RB Oregon 16 - - 1 - - 4
10. Robert Woods WR USC 14 - - 1 - - 4
11. Russell Wilson QB Wisconsin 12 - - - - - 5
12. Denard Robinson QB Michigan 10 - - - - 1 7
13. Bryant Moniz QB Hawaii 7 - - - 1 - 8
14t. Case Keenum QB Houston 6 - - - - - 7
15t. Taylor Martinez QB Nebraska 6 - - - - 1 8
16t. Kendall Wright WR Baylor 6 - - - - 1 8
17. David Wilson RB Virginia Tech 5 - - - - - 7
18. Michael Floyd WR Notre Dame 4 - - - - - 8
19. Tyron Carrier WR Houston 3 - - - - - 8
20. Chris Givens WR Wake Forest 2 - - - - - 8
21t. Ray Graham RB Pitt 1 - - - - - 8
22t. Tyronn Mathieu DB LSU 1 - - - - - 8

The Contenders

2. Kellen Moore, QB, Boise State (28-34, 261 yds, 3 TD, INT)

After a bit of a slow start against Georgia's 3-4 defense, Moore found his rhythm and calmly dissected one of the SEC's top teams. The win over the Dawgs marked the first time in school history Boise State had bested an SEC opponent, and Moore inched closer to becoming the NCAA's all-time winningest quarterback (he now needs seven wins). Week 2: Bye

3. Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor (21-27, 359 yds, 5 TD, 10 att., 38 rush yds)
No one jumped more in the Athlon Heisman voting than Griffin. The uber-talented Bears' quarterback moved from 8th to 3rd this week after pulling off what was probably the weekend's biggest upset. RG3 did everything he could to best in-state rival TCU, including catching a key fourth-quarter third down double-pass from Kendall Wright. Week 2: Bye

4. Marcus Lattimore, RB, South Carolina (23 att., 112 yds, 3 TD, 3 rec., 33 yds)
With four minutes to go in the third quarter, South Carolina held a measly four-point lead over East Carolina. Lattimore scored back-to-back touchdowns to ice the game and give the Gamecocks a 56-37 win over the in-state Pirates. The most gifted back in the nation was needed for only four carries in the fourth quarter and didn't touch the ball after his final touchdown made the score 49-31. Week 2: At Georgia

5. Landry Jones, QB, Oklahoma (35-47, 375 yds, TD)
The leader of the nation's No. 1 team needed just over three quarters to get his game in order. Jones barely played into the fourth quarter but still threw the ball 47 times as the Sooners dominated in-state rival Tulsa 47-17. Business as usual for Mr. Jones and the Sooners. Week 2: Bye

6. Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama (13 att., 37 yds, 3 TD, 1 rec., 16 yds)
Wasn't needed but got the job done around the goal-line. Big Week 2 test against Penn State.

7. Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State (8 rec., 144 yds)
Solid but underwhelming outing from Cowboys star receiver.

8. Ryan Broyles, WR, Oklahoma (14 rec., 158 yds, TD)
Picking right up where he left off last season as one of the nation's best receivers.

9. LaMichael James, RB, Oregon (18 att., 54 yds, TD, 6 rec., 61 yds)
Produced decent numbers on plenty of touches, but the Ducks were stymied by LSU.

10. Robert Woods, WR, USC (17 rec., 177 yds, 3 TD)
Talented dynamo enters the Heisman mix after record-setting week one.

Athlon Sports Preseason Heisman Vote: Week 1

<p> Each week the Athlon editors will vote on the most prestigious award in all of sports.</p>
Post date: Tuesday, September 6, 2011 - 15:23
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Fantasy
Path: /columns/5-burning-questions/college-fantasy-football-waiver-wire

-by Braden Gall (@AthlonBraden)

Week One of the college football season is in the books and the waiver wire should be a downright fist-fight. Here are some names to target.

QB Must-Adds:

Kriss Proctor, Navy: 22 att., 176 yds, 3 TD, 4-7, 46 yds, TD, INT
Fantasy's top scoring quarterback in Week 1 has another brilliant match-up in week two against Western Kentucky, but don't expect 40 point weeks every time out. Navy has a tough schedule and will be kept in check. Proctor will need to learn to throw the ball with more efficiency against teams like South Carolina if he expects to put together a Dobbsian season.

Casey Pachall, TCU: 25-39, 251 yds, 4 TD, 9 att., 23 yds, TD
After dealing with a small shoulder injury in camp, Pachall's first career start turned into a fantastic fantasy week in the boxscore despite the outcome on the field. The schedule is very favorable to TCU the rest of the way, so be sure to snag him right away.

Tevin Washington, Georgia Tech: 8-13, 271 yds, 3 TD, 6 att., 34 yards
Certainly Washington will not average over 20 yards per completion for the season, but he is starting at one of the best option QB positions in the nation. Expect his passing numbers to drop but his carries and yards rushing to increase after the week one blowout of Western Carolina.

Ryan Lindley, San Diego State: 15-27, 203 yds, 4 TD
Lindley with Brady Hoke was a must-own. A Hoke-less Lindley didn't even get drafted, but may have learned a thing or two. There are some tough tests, but Washington State, Army, UNLV, Fresno, Wyoming, New Mexico and Colorado State are still left on the schedule.

Other Names to Watch:

Zach Maynard, Cal: 16-35, 277 yds, 2 TD, INT, 5 att., 53 yds
A clear connection with Marvin Jones and cousin Keenan Allen in debut at Cal.

Brett Smith, Wyoming: 27-41, 294 yds, 3 TD, INT, 13 att., 44 yds, TD
The Cowboys defense looks like it will keep Smith chucking it around in most games.

Bryn Renner, North Carolina: 22-23, 277 yds, 2 TD, INT, 2 att., 2 yds, TD
Yes, it was James Madison, but 22-23 against air is tough to ignore.

Must-Add Handcuffs:

Kain Colter, Northwestern: 17-24, 197 yds, 0 TD, INT, 23 att., 71 yds, TD
If you drafted Dan Persa, he is a must-add with Eastern Illinois and Army up next.

Tommy Rees, Notre Dame: 24-34, 296 yds, 2 TD, 2 INT
If you drafted Dayne Crist, he is a must-add. Generated loads of offense.

Richard Brehaut, UCLA: 17-26, 264 yds, 2 TD, 13 att., 87 yds, TD
Kevin Prince is questionable, and Brehaut's athleticism plays well against San Jose State.

Running Back Must-Adds:

Malcolm Agnew, Oregon State (33 att., 233 yds, 3 TD)
Does anyone remember the last time Mike Riley started a 5-foot-7 true freshman running back? Jacquizz Rodgers rushed for 1,253 yards and 11 touchdowns. There are a lot of names in the backfield and not every defense will be Sacramento State, but Agnew was the name coming out of camp and he got 33 of the 43 total team carries. He has a tough one this week in Madison, but add him totally guilt free.

Branden Oliver, Buffalo: 35 att., 114 yards, TD, 4 rec., 13 yards
Anytime a player gets 39 touches in a game, especially running back in what was a 19-point loss, I don't think twice. The Bulls running back position has had plenty of fantasy viability in recent years and it appears that Oliver is the next name.

Chris Rainey, Florida: 11 att., 79 yds, TD, 6 rec., 67 yards, TD
If you read my Start or Sit from last week, I called for 12-18 touches for Rainey and that he would be startable in almost any fantasy line-up. He got 17 (18 if you count the blocked punt return) and scored three different ways. The key with Rainey is his dual eligbility as he carries both WR and RB status in most leagues.

Terrance Ganaway, Baylor: 24 att., 120 yards, TD
One rushing attempt was given to another running back for the Bears' big win against TCU on Friday night. Ganaway is clearly the guy for what could be one of the most explosive offenses in the nation. Baylor is on bye this week, but Stephen F. Austin, Rice, Iowa State and Kansas State await.


Lyle McCombs, UConn: 24 att., 141 yds, 4 TD, 2 rec., 17 yds
Starter D.J. Shoemate was a late scratch with an ankle. Keep an eye on this time share.

Dominique Whaley, Oklahoma: 18 att., 131 yds, 4 TD, 2 rec., 12 yds
Good news: He scored the first three Sooner TDs. Bad news: Brennan Clay, Roy Finch are in the mix.

Andre Williams, Boston College: 22 att., 114 yards, 2 TD, 2 rec., 11 yds
Montel Harris is scheduled to return at some point. Keep an eye on this one.

Anthon Samuel, Bowling Green: 22 att., 141 yds, TD, 1 rec., 6 yds
Jordan Hopgood also got 14 carries, but Samuel could be the guy for the Claw-ffense.

Kevin Parks, Virginia: 16 att., 114 yds, 3 TD, 2 rec., 13 yds
Perry Jones is still the starter, but the prep record holder will get time against IU this week.

Javonti Greene, Eastern Michigan: 14 att., 120 yards, TD
Dominique Sherrer is in the mix as well, but 77 of his 120 yards came on his TD run.

Jeff Demps, Florida: 12 att., 105 yards, 2 TD, 3 rec., 21 yds
Charlie Weis will give both him and Rainey touches, so there is value in good match-ups.

Be Wary Watchlist-ers:

Michael Ford, LSU: 14 att., 96 yards, 2 TD, 1 rec., 4 yds
Spencer Ware had 26 carries to Ford's 14 and topped him in yards as well.

Fitzgerald Toussaint, Michigan: 11 att., 80 yds, 2 TD
Michael Shaw is a big part of the mix, but Toussaint has the skillset Hoke wants.

Orwin Smith, Georgia Tech: 4 att., 84 yds, 2 TD, 2 rec., 43 yds
Yards per touch puts him on watch list, but no further: 6 total touches for 127 yards.

Michael Hayes, Bryce Beall, Charles Sims, Houston
Hayes: 13 touches, 84 yards, 2 TD. Beall: 12 touches, 88 yards, TD, Sims: 6 touches, 22 yards

Fozzy Whitakker, Texas: 9 att., 33 yds, TD, 4 rec., 55 yds, TD
Malcolm Brown didn't reach the endzone but got the bulk of the carries (16 for 86 yds)

Tier 1 Wide Receiver Must-Adds:

Darrin Moore, Texas Tech: 12 rec., 221 yds, TD
A.J. Jenkins, Illinois: 11 rec., 148 yds, TD
Tracy Moore, Oklahoma State: 7 rec., 112 yds, TD
Justin Hardy, East Carolina: 11 rec., 91 yds, TD
Chris Givens, Wake Forest: 7 rec., 170 yds, 2 TD

Tier 2 Wide Receiver Adds:

Dwight Jones, North Carolina: 9 rec., 116 yds, 2 TD
Robert Herron, Wyoming: 7 rec., 104 yds, 2 TD
Bernard Reedy, Toledo: 5 rec., 113 yds, 2 TD
Josh Boyce, TCU: 9 rec., 96 yds, TD
Terrence Williams, Baylor: 6 rec., 126 yds, 2 TD
Eugene Cooper, Bowling Green: 4 rec., 110 yds, 2 TD, 1 att., 9 yds

Tier 3 Wide Receiver Adds:

Alex Neutz, Buffalo: 10 rec., 108 yds
Kevin Dorsey, Maryland: 8 rec., 124 yds
Marquis Maze, Alabama: 8 rec., 118 yds, TD
Stephen Hill, Georgia Tech: 4 rec., 181 yds, 2 TD
Jarius Wright, Arkansas: 6 rec., 108 yds, 2 TD
Marvin Jones, Cal: 5 rec., 118 yds, 2 TD
Keenan Allen, Cal: 8 rec., 118 yds

Tight End Must-Adds:

Jake Stoneburner, Ohio State: 4 rec., 50 yds, 3 TD
Jospeh Fauria, UCLA: 6 rec., 110 yds, TD
Dwayne Allen, Clemson: 1 rec., 54 yds, TD
Kyler Efaw, Boise State: 6 rec., 53 yds, TD
Logan Brock, TCU: 4 rec., 41 yds, TD
Ryan Griffin, UConn: 3 rec., 97 yds, TD

Steven Lassan's College Football Week 1 Recap

College Fantasy Geek Non-BCS Week 1 Report

College Fantasy Geek BCS Week 1 Report


<p> Who are the top waiver adds after one week of action on the college fantasy gridiron?</p>
Post date: Tuesday, September 6, 2011 - 10:39
Path: /columns/5-burning-questions/fantasy-football-running-backs-workload-watch

Athlon Sports takes a look at which running backs have touched the ball the most per game over the last three years and over the last two years. This gives you an idea of both which backs have been given the most opportunities, while at the same time lets you know which backs might be wearing down.

It's interesting to note that Arian Foster, having played just one full season, already ranks eighth in touches per game in both charts.

Touches Per Game, Three-Year vs. Two-Year

Rank Three-Year Stats TPG TCH GP
1 Steven Jackson 24.3 1044 43
2 Adrian Peterson 22.6 1060 47
3 Chris Johnson 22.6 1062 47
4 Cedric Benson 22.0 901 41
5 Michael Turner 21.2 911 43
6 Frank Gore 20.8 813 39
7 Maurice Jones-Drew 20.8 957 46
8 Arian Foster 20.7 455 22
9 Matt Forté 20.5 982 48
10 Ryan Grant 19.5 645 33
11 Thomas Jones 19.3 926 48
12 LaDainian Tomlinson 19.1 858 45
Rank Two-Year Stats TPG TCH GP
1 Steven Jackson 24.2 751 31
2 Chris Johnson 24.0 768 32
3 Maurice Jones-Drew 23.3 698 30
4 Cedric Benson 23.0 667 29
5 Ray Rice 21.9 702 32
6 Adrian Peterson 21.8 676 31
7 Frank Gore 21.2 530 25
8 Arian Foster 20.7 455 22
9 Michael Turner 19.6 529 27
10 Rashard Mendenhall 19.2 614 32
11 Matt Forté 18.8 603 32
12 Thomas Jones 18.8 600 32

— Braden Gall @AthlonBraden on Twitter


More Fantasy Football Cheat Sheets and Rankings:
2011 Fantasy Football Rankings: Top 280
2011 Fantasy Football Rankings: Top 240 w/ IDPs

011 Fantasy Football Rankings: Quarterbacks
011 Fantasy Football Rankings: Running Backs
2011 Fantasy Football Rankings: Wide Receivers

2011 Fantasy Football Rankings: Tight Ends

2011 Fantasy Football Rankings: Kickers

2011 Fantasy Football Rankings: Defense/Special Teams

<br />
Post date: Friday, September 2, 2011 - 07:00
Path: /columns/national-notebook/college-football-recruiting-notebook-sept-2

Each week, Athlon recruiting editor Braden Gall (@AthlonBraden) takes a big-picture glance at the world of recruiting - the lifeblood of college football. Official visits, verbal commitments, rankings updates and high school results will be incorporated into Athlon Sports' national recruiting notebook.

It was a relatively quiet week on the recruiting trail. Not surprising considering high school football began in earnest last weekend and the college game kicks-off this weekend.

Notre Dame Lands Big Fish

The biggest news of the week came when Athlon Consensus 100 defensive tackle Jarron Jones made his verbal pledge to the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. The 6-foot-6, 290-pound defensive lineman hails from Aquinas Institute in Rochester, New York. He is the No. 22 overall player in the nation and the No. 3-rated defensive tackle in the AC100. He instantly becomes the highest-rated prospect in this class.

The big nose guard had previously been verballed to Penn State but decommitted and chose Notre Dame over Virginia Tech, North Carolina and the Nittany Lions. He is a massive interior player who could wind up on either side of the ball. He has excellent power and strength at the point of attack and has incredible length in his upper body. Jones actually has room to get bigger and could be scary playing around 315 pounds.

Brian Kelly established himself as an elite recruiter last fall when he landed the best defensive class in the nation. It appears he is pillaging the nation for front seven defenders again in 2012. Jones becomes the 14th Irish commitment and makes this a top-15 class nationally — including fellow AC100 D-Lineman Sheldon Day.

Jones is the fifth AC100 verbal pledge for Notre Dame. Defensive back Tee Shepard (Fresno, Calif.) is ranked No. 51, defensive back Ronald Darby (Oxon Hill, Md.) is No. 54, wideout Deontay Greenberry (Fresno, Calif.) is No. 85 and Day (Indianapolis, Ind.) is No. 92.

Only Florida State’s six AC100 commitments best Kelly’s five.

Quarterback Flip-Flop

Talent evaluation is an on-going process with a never-ending schedule of tournaments, showcases, camps, and most importantly, actual football games. Rivals and 24/7 Sports are two of the six services used to compile the AC100, and both reworked their rankings of late. Both had big things to say about the nation’s No. 1 quarterback.

Columbus (Ind.) East’s Gunner Kiel (pictured) was the nation’s No. 1 quarterback recruit since the debut of the 2012 AC100. However, after the recent “re-vals,” Hueytown’s (Ala.) Jameis Winston is now America’s top signal-caller. Winston, also a talented Major League Baseball prospect, now sits as the No. 12-ranked prospect regardless of position — two spots ahead of Kiel, who rests at No. 14 for the time being.

Winston pushed Hueytown High to a come-from-behind victory over 4A defending state champs Thomasville by rushing 117 yards and four touchdowns. However, he completed just 10 of his 21 passes for 138 yards and three interceptions. While he was a bit rusty through the air, Winston’s two late scoring drives prove he is a force to reckoned with.

Kiel, on the other hand, struggled mightily in his season-opener against Greenwood (IN) High School. He completed just four of his 17 attempts for an unimaginable 44 yards. He did rush for 70 yards on 10 carries and his team won 28-7, but one has to wonder why the nation’s No. 2 quarterback managed only five yards passing the second half.

It is only one game, but it proves that Kiel clearly has work left to do in order to be ready to play for the Hoosiers next season. Scouts are certainly ready to see Kiel back out on the field this weekend.

The 6-foot-4, 212-pound Kiel is headed to Indiana while the 6-foot-3, 195-pound Winston is committed to Florida State.

This Week’s Other Commitments:

Alabama: Darius Philon, DT, Prichard (AL) Vigor, 6-2, 265
Boise State: Chanceller James, S, Spring Valley (CA) Steele Canyon, 6-3, 190
Arkansas: Robert Gregory, QB, Chicago (IL) Simeon, 6-2, 185
Oregon State: Joel Skotte, MLB, Bend (OR) Mountain View, 6-2, 225
Louisville: Patrick Jean, OLB, Port St. Lucie (FL) Treasure Coast, 6-3, 200

<p> Notre Dame lands AC100 tackle and nation's new No. 1 QB highlight this week's recruiting notebook.</p>
Post date: Thursday, September 1, 2011 - 20:28
Path: /columns/5-burning-questions/college-fantasy-start-or-sit-week-1

- by Braden Gall (@AthlonBraden on twitter)

Week One is here!

It is always the most volatile weekend of action during the college football season. Smart fantasy owners snagged Jacquizz Rodgers in 2008, Ricky Dobbs in 2009 and Justin Blackmon in 2010 after the first week of action. I shouldn't have to explain to anyone what those three meant to fantasy GMs.

Week One means many things. It means third-string running backs are viable options in absurd FBS-on-FCS dismantlings. It means elite-level quarterbacks may not have to throw very much. It means wild uncertainty about facing totally revamped defensive units and new coaching schemes.

Most importantly, it means opportunity.

Start These Quarterbacks:

In the first week of action, look for new quarterbacks, or maybe those in new schemes, to get more work than the established stars. Names like EJ Manuel, Kriss Proctor and Tajh Boyd need to get reps against live competition. Developing youngsters like Tyler Bray should be allowed to throw, while a guy like Tino Sunseri enters his first season with no-huddle guru Todd Graham calling plays. It is important for new coaches and quarterbacks to get into rhythm quickly, and fantasy GMs can capitalize.

Tajh Boyd, Clemson (Troy)
Rumor has it that Dabo Swinney would like to run Boyd upwards of 150 times this season. If that is the case, Boyd will have plenty of fantasy value. Against Troy in his first real game as THE guy under center, expect the coaches to give him free rein to score points.

Kriss Proctor, Navy (Delaware)
I am not going to lie — Dobbs' 2009 campaign saved my fantasy rear-end. And while his 935-yard, 14-TD season a year ago wasn't as mythical, it was still extremely useful. The Navy QB spot won't ever put up big numbers through the air, so depending on your scoring system, Proctor may not have the same value. But in 4-pt passing touchdown leagues, this senior signal caller has loads of upside - especially against the Blue Hens.

EJ Manuel, Florida State (UL Monroe)
Getting reps is the name of the game for Jimbo Fisher and his new star quarterback. The Sun Belt competition offers a perfect opportunity to hone his skills against live competition two weeks before the Sooners come to town. Fisher would be smart to let Manuel throw it around this weekend.

Chris Relf, Mississippi State (@ Memphis)
Josh Harris. Alex Smith. Tim Tebow. And Chris Relf? The first three names were Dan Mullen-coached fantasy goliaths. Relf may never reach Greek God status, but this Bulldogs team returns a deep and talented skill corps and Relf took major strides late in 2010. He is the leader and will put up big numbers in a city where Mullen has to look good in order to recruit.

Jeff Tuel, Washington State (Idaho State)
The Cougars showed slight improvement in 2010, and Tuel finished his season with a huge bang: 298 yards, 3 TD, 25 rush yards, TD. Against an FCS school, Paul Wulff cannot afford to mess around. Expect big numbers from the Cougars offense in the opener.

Tino Sunseri, Pitt (Buffalo)
New head coach Todd Graham brings with him a face-paced, spread attack that posted massive fantasy numbers at Tulsa. While Sunseri might not have the most talent, he does have a talented group of backs and receivers to throw to. New coach, new scheme, poor competition? Yes, please.

Deeper Options:

John Brantley, Florida (FAU)
Tyler Bray, Tennessee (Montana)
James Vandenberg, Iowa (Tennessee Tech)
Alex Gillett, Eastern Michigan (Howard)

Sit These Quarterbacks:

Darron Thomas, Oregon (LSU, Arlington)
Play at your own risk, LSU is loaded for bear on defense and should be plenty motivated.

Kolton Browning, UL Monroe (@ Florida State)
Maybe there is a chance at a garbage touchdown, but not much else.

Corey Robinson, Troy (@ Clemson)
See Kolton Browning above.

Dan Persa, Northwestern (@ Boston College)
Not fully healthy, and BC is always strong on defense.

Dominique Davis, East Carolina (@ South Carolina)
Excellent Gamecocks front seven will make life difficult for ECU offense all night long.

Robert Griffin III, Baylor (TCU)
Bears have been stewing about this one, and RG3 is tough to bench, but TCU dominated this game in 2010.

GJ Kinne, Tulsa (@ Oklahoma)
Should score some late points but without go-to star Damaris Johnson to help, the numbers will be limited.

Start These Running Backs:

Don't shy away from your studs in Week One, but certainly keep an eye on the 'blowout factor.' How long with Rex Burkhead be in the game? He is a virtual lock for at least 100 yards and a score, so he is impossible to bench, but will he get any carries in the second half against Chattanooga at home? Unlikely. In this vein, if you are truly desperate, look to the talented back-up who coaches need to get reps — like Nebraska's true freshman dynamo Aaron Green.

Keola Antolin, Arizona (Northern Arizona)
Against their only non-FBS opponent a year ago, the Cats rushed for 215 yards and five touchdowns as a team. Expect Ka'Deem Carey to see some time, but Antolin should top the century mark and reach paydirt at least once.

Zac Stacy, Vanderbilt (Elon)
Warren Norman may not be as healthy as Dores fans may have thought, and Stacy got great reviews from new coach James Franklin this week. Expect a healthy dose of the talented sophomore against the Phoenix.

Michael Shaw, Michigan (Western Michigan)
Reports indicate that the starters will play most of this game even if it gets out of hand. Look for new coach Brady Hoke to exhaust the running game and especially Shaw.

David Sims, Georgia Tech (Western Carolina)
There are a lot of backs in Atlanta, and a lot of backs will get touches against the Catamounts. Sims looks to be the starter at the B-back, which has traditionally been the most productive fantasy position in this backfield.

Desmond Scott, Duke (Richmond)
In his last two games against FCS opponents, Scott has carried the ball 31 times for 177 yards and scored two of his four career rushing touchdowns. He added three receptions in those games as well. Expect good things against the Spiders.

Perry Jones, Virginia (William & Mary)
Despite Jones being the starter last year, Keith Payne got most of the fantasy points. While Kevin Parks will work his way into the rotation, his skillset duplicates that of Jones. Expect good numbers from both.

Shontrelle Johnson, Iowa State (Northern Iowa)
Alexander Robinson rushed for nearly 2,200 yards the last two seasons as the starter, and Johnson has shown the ability to carry the load. He should be a quality start against the in-state FCS rival.

DJ Shoemate, UConn (Fordham)
The offense will struggle all season — but not against Fordham. Keep an eye on the start time/day of this one as the game has been postponed from Thursday. Saturday afternoon is the most likely solution.

James Sims, Kansas (McNeese State)
Sims got 67 of 168 carries, 307 of his 742 yards and six of his nine rushing touchdowns in the final four weeks of the season last fall. Kansas will most assuredly not allow another FCS opponent to sneak up on them (cough North Dakota cough State cough).

Chris Rainey, Florida (FAU)
The Gators certainly do not have a traditional power back that Charlie Weis likely craves, but against FAU he won't need one. Rainey should get the 12-18 touches needed to produce a viable fantasy score this week.

Garbage Time Specials:

Eddie Lacy, Alabama (Kent State)
Aaron Green, Nebraska (Chattanooga)
Jason White, Iowa (Tennessee Tech)
LaDarius Perkins, Mississippi State (@ Memphis)
Onterio McCalebb, Auburn (Utah State)

Injury/Suspension Fill-ins:

Andre Williams, Boston College (Northwestern)
Jesse Callier, Washington (Eastern Washington)
Jordan Hall, Ohio State (Akron)

Sit These Running Backs:

LaMichael James, Oregon (LSU, Arlington)
Virtual match-up-proof player, but LSU front seven will be tough to push around. Bench at your own risk.

Robert Turbin, Utah State (@ Auburn)
Coming back from injury and traveling across the country to play at defending national champs? No, thanks.

Zach Line, SMU (@ Texas A&M)
Stangs will have to throw a lot to keep up with Aggies' offensive firepower.

Bryce Beall and Charles Sims, Houston (UCLA)
Rick Neuheisel has plenty of talent, and his team is familiar with Cougars after 31-13 win last season.

Doug Martin vs. Isaiah Crowell (Boise State vs. Georgia, Atlanta)
I like Martin better than Crowell, but yards could be tough to come by in this one. A field goal wins it.

Robbie Rouse, Fresno State (@ Cal)
Jeff Tedford needs to make a statement early and this is not one of Pat Hill's best teams.

Sleeper Wide Receivers:

The wide receiver position is easily the most difficult to project each season. Sure, Ryan Broyles is a good draft pick and will produce. But the waiver wire is pure gold more so at WR than any other position. See my fantasy line-up in the championship game last year: SMU's Cole Beasley, Northwestern's Jeremy Ebert and Blackmon. All were waiver wire adds. So the advice for the receiver position is play your studs no matter who they are facing and keep a keen eye on the Saturday boxscore. There will be plenty of gems out there each week. Here are my top BCS sleepers for week one:

BJ Cunningham, Michigan State (Youngstown State)
Mike Shanahan and Devin Street, Pitt (Buffalo)
Mike Davis, Texas (Rice)
Stedman Bailey, West Virginia (Marshall)
A.J. Jenkins, Illinois (Arkansas State)
Quinton Dunbar, Florida (FAU)
Justin Hunter and Da'Rick Rogers, Tennessee (Montana)
Chad Bumphis, Mississippi State (@ Memphis)
Nick Toon, Wisconsin (UNLV)

Top 12 Spot Start DEF/ST:

1. Texas (Rice)
2. Iowa (Tennessee Tech)
3. Arkansas (Missouri State)
4. Penn State (Indiana State)
5. UConn (Fordham)
6. North Carolina (James Madison)
7. Arizona State (UC-Davis)
8. Notre Dame (USF)
9. UCF (Charleston Southern)
10. NC State (Liberty)
11. Oklahoma (Tulsa)
12. West Virginia (Marshall)

<p> Athlon prepares the college fantasy player with in-depth match-up analysis for Week 1.</p>
Post date: Thursday, September 1, 2011 - 17:30
Path: /college-football/betting-against-spread-week-1-picks

-by Braden Gall (@AthlonBraden)

We certainly do not condone gambling here at Athlon Sports, but much can be gleaned from a quick look at the points spreads. Week One of the college football season contains the most uncertainty of any week of year. Teams from coast to coast will wildly under- and over-achieve based upon preseason expectations, and there is much to be won because of it.

And since my number one lock of the week was Maryland getting 6.5 points at home against Miami on Labor Day night, I will start with No. 2. The Terps are now a slight favorite — I sure hope you got in on that one early in the week.

Week 1's Top Picks:

Season Record ATS: 0-0

2. Marshall at West Virginia (-21)
Sept. 4, 3:30 PM

The new regime in Morgantown has been foaming at the mouth to get onto the field. Offensive wizard Dana Holgorsen will look to hang a huge number on his in-state rival in his first-ever game as a head coach. The Thundering Herd nearly pulled the upset last season in Huntington but will have no such luck this time around. Geno Smith and company will run up the score on a team picked fifth in C-USA’s Eastern division.
My Pick: West Virginia -21

3.  LSU vs. Oregon (-3)
Sept. 3, 8 PM, Arlington

I just don’t see the Ducks winning this game. The last two losses Oregon has suffered came at the hands of two dominant lines of scrimmage (Ohio State, Auburn), and that is the one area where LSU has a distinct advantage. The Cliff Harris suspension hurts his team worse than the Jordan Jefferson issue hurts the Bayou Bengals. Jarrett Lee has experience and made huge throws in key spots last fall for the Tigers. Look for LSU to control the ball and out-physical the finesse, feathery Pac-12 power.
My Pick: LSU +3

4. Northwestern at Boston College (-3)
Sept. 3, 12 PM
These are two very well-coached football teams, but one has superior talent and physicality. The Eagles are at home and will be facing a banged-up Dan Persa, as the Northwestern quarterback is not fully recovered from his torn Achilles’ tendon injury. If he plays, his mobility will be greatly affected, as he is not the same player without his ability to improvise. The Wildcats had the worst defense in the Big Ten last year, and BC will take advantage of a rebuilt linebacking corps on the ground.
My Pick: Boston College -3

5. Georgia vs. Boise State (-3.5)
Sept. 3, 8 PM, Atlanta

The last time Boise State visited the Peach State, Jared Zabransky threw five interceptions, and BSU got pummeled by the Dawgs. This is a different Broncos team — and a different UGA team. Both lines of scrimmage on both teams on both sides of the ball will be stout, and yards will be tough to come by. Expect a very similar showing to that of last year’s Boise State-Virginia Tech showdown where a field goal could win the back-and-forth affair.
My Pick: Georgia +3.5

6. TCU at Baylor (+6)
Sept. 2, 8 PM
The animosity in Waco towards those purple Frogs has reached a boiling point. TCU rolled up a 35-point win in Ft. Worth a year ago, holding the dynamic Robert Griffin to his lowest yardage output of the season. Art Briles has elevated the level of talent across the board at Baylor, and TCU returns only six total starters. Without Andy Dalton under center, TCU is ripe for an upset. Don’t be surprised if Baylor wins this one outright.
My Pick: Baylor +6

7. Western Michigan at Michigan (-13.5)
Sept. 3, 3:30 PM
I am not sure Brady Hoke has made a single bad decision since taking over as the head coach at Michigan. He has reenergized the alumni, has a stellar group of offensive players returning and invigorated Maize and Blue recruiting. Now, he needs a convincing showing in his first trip to the Big House's sideline. Reports indicate that the starters could play deep into the game regardless of the score. Hoke wants to make a statement in this game and he will — by a wide margin.
My Pick: Michigan -13.5

8. Utah State vs. Auburn (-21)
Sept. 3, 12 PM
Record-setting Utah State quarterback Diondre Borel is currently trying to win a roster spot in Green Bay, and Auburn is the defending national champion. Yes, the Tigers lost basically their entire starting 22 – technically, they return five starters – but Gene Chizik has loads of young talent. His team will make mistakes this season, but they are extremely gifted. Look for Michael Dyer (maybe) and Onterio McCalebb to roll up a big number against what was the 100th-ranked overall and 101st ranked scoring defense.
My Pick: Auburn -21

9. UCLA at Houston (-3)
Sept. 3, 3:30 PM

There is one thing that Rick Neuheisel has done incredibly well during his brief and embattled tenure as his alma mater’s head coach and that is recruit. The Bruins have superior talent to that of Houston and were beating the Cougars last season long before Case Keenum got hurt. (The game ended 31-13 in favor of UCLA.) Interestingly enough, UCLA has won seven of its last eight trips into the state of Texas dating back to 1988.
My Pick: UCLA +3

Tier-Two Picks if you're feeling lucky:

10. San Jose State at Stanford (-29)
Sept. 3, 5 PM
My Pick: Stanford -29

11. Miami, Ohio at Missouri (-18.5)
Sept. 3, 12 PM
My Pick: Mizzou -18.5

Athlon's Week One Previews:

ACC Predictions: Week 1

Big East Predictions: Week 1

Big Ten Predictions: Week 1

Big 12 Predictions: Week 1

Pac-12 Predictions: Week 1

SEC Predictions: Week 1

<p> Athlon's Braden Gall offers his top college football picks against the spread each week.</p>
Post date: Thursday, September 1, 2011 - 11:16
Path: /columns/5-burning-questions/fantasy-football-tight-ends-deeper-ever

This year’s crop of tight ends is, without a doubt, the deepest in fantasy football history.

The undisputed heavyweight champion continues to be Antonio Gates, who has scored eight or more TDs in each of the last seven seasons and topped 900 yards five times — which doesn’t include the 782 yards he amassed in 10 games last season (his first year with fewer than 15 games played). On draft day, value Gates as a top-10 WR option who happens to qualify at TE.

Physical freaks such as Vernon Davis, Brandon Pettigrew and Jermichael Finley have shown signs of Gates-like (or Gates Lite) potential. Over the past two seasons, Davis has been Gates’ equal statistically — with 1,879 yards and 20 TDs to Gates’ 1,939 yards and 18 TDs — despite being drafted several rounds lower on average. But the workout warrior’s first three seasons combined (1,132 yards and nine TDs from 2006-08) produced numbers Gates can match in one All-Pro year.

On the surface, old reliables like Dallas Clark, Jason Witten and Tony Gonzalez seem safer than the young guns. But keep in mind that last year Clark played just six games (wrist), and Gonzo had his worst season since 1998. Witten, however, posted his fourth straight 950-plus-yard year with a career high nine TDs.

After those first seven are off the board, you can afford to wait a few rounds before debating on taking one-half of the Patriots’ second-year two-headed monster — Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski (a.k.a. Aarob Hernankowski) — or one of the power forward-framed upsiders — 6'6", 260-pounder Jimmy Graham (a Drew Brees favorite) and 6'6", 275-pounder Marcedes Lewis (10 TDs in ’10, 7 combined from ’06-09).

If a proven track record is more your style, keep waiting. There’s always Zach Miller and Chris Cooley, who both have quarterback concerns; or Owen Daniels and Kellen Winslow, who each have had injury issues. Further emphasizing the seemingly bottomless pool of this year’s tight end talent, there is a mix of breakout candidates — Dustin Keller, Jermaine Gresham, Tony Moeaki, Jared Cook and Kyle Rudolph — and familiar faces — Heath Miller, Benjamin Watson, Kevin Boss, Greg Olsen and Visanthe Shiancoe.

The tight end class is loaded. Pick a few options from each tier and then see how the draft plays out. Savvy drafters should get excellent value on a tight end with Pro Bowl (and fantasy stud) potential this year. Or, you can always just play it safe, take Antonio Gates in the third round and let everyone else in the room sweat it out.

What to do with Gronkowski and Hernandez
There is no reason both Patriots tight ends can’t be fantasy starters. They are different players. Hernandez is a better athlete with more ability in the open field, while “The Gronk” is a better blocker and plays a more traditional tight end role. So who should you draft first? It probably depends on your scoring system. They will be on the field together much of the year, with Hernandez lined up in the slot more on passing downs. He’s the better space player, so look for him to get more targets and therefore receptions and yards.

But look for Gronkowski to get the red zone and play-action targets, as the more physical player should be on the field more on running downs. Adjust your rankings to your scoring system accordingly.

— Braden Gall @AthlonBraden on Twitter


More Fantasy Football Cheat Sheets and Rankings:
2011 Fantasy Football Rankings: Top 280
2011 Fantasy Football Rankings: Top 240 w/ IDPs

011 Fantasy Football Rankings: Quarterbacks
011 Fantasy Football Rankings: Running Backs
2011 Fantasy Football Rankings: Wide Receivers

2011 Fantasy Football Rankings: Tight Ends

2011 Fantasy Football Rankings: Kickers

2011 Fantasy Football Rankings: Defense/Special Teams

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Post date: Wednesday, August 31, 2011 - 07:00
All taxonomy terms: Michael Vick, Philadelphia Eagles, NFL, News
Path: /nfl/philadelphia-eagles-sign-michael-vick-huge-contract

-by Braden Gall (@AthlonBraden on twitter)

The Philadelphia Eagles have their quarterback. On Monday, Michael Vick signed a six-year, $100 million contract ($40 million guaranteed) with the franchise that has given him not just a second chance, but a second life.

But was it the right move for the Eagles?

The story that is Vick contains many tentacles. All signs have pointed to Vick turning a corner in his personal life. He has paid his dues — try 18 months of hard time at Leavenworth prison. He sat third-string on the bench. He has been punished publicly, financially and socially.

Is it possible to remove from Vick the saga of a major dog-fighting ring in which he was the kingpin and primary financier? Can you overlook the fact that the 31-year-old has only played a 16-game season once in his entire career? Or the shootout at the birthday party shortly after his release from prison?

The answer is no – and you shouldn’t.

In the same vein, you also can't remove the playoff victory over the Green Bay Packers in Lambeau in the 2002 NFL Wildcard shocker. Or the only 1,000-yard rushing season by a quarterback in NFL history. Or his magical 2010 return to prominence for the Eagles. Or even that he has vowed to (and apparently has/will) pay back all of his financial debts instead of taking the easy way out and filing for bankruptcy.

America is nation of second chances, and Vick is a man of exceptional ability.

The question for the Eagles is Michael Vick the man. He has returned to a life of luxury with this contract. He has been given, again, copious amounts of money, fame and fortune. And all the stresses and pressures that go along with it.

To make this contract worth it, for both the Eagles and Vick, and to continue the trajectory of his whirlwind story, the polarizing quarterback has to not only protect himself from Justin Tuck, Ndamukong Suh and Clay Matthews, but also from the trappings of a $100 millon lifestyle.

I will be the first to stand up and shake Vick's hand if he can continue down the path of redemption in a morally and socially progressive manner. And on the field? I will marvel at his ability to flick the ball 65 yards to a streaking DeSean Jackson without effort or outrun Troy Polamalu to the boundary for a key first down.

But Vick and Vick alone can make that happen.

<p> Vick is now set as the Eagles quarterback for the next six years - for $100 million.</p>
Post date: Tuesday, August 30, 2011 - 09:43
Path: /college-football/college-football-impact-injuries-and-suspensions-0

Updated Monday, August 29, 12:15 PM ET

Montel Harris, RB, Boston College
A surprise knee surgery has pushed the Eagles starting tailback to the bench for at least the first week of action. Andre Williams, who is battling his own ankle issue, is expected to get the bulk of the carries against Northwestern. Harris could return in Week Two when BC heads to UCF.

Chris Polk, RB, Washington
After knee surgery a few weeks ago, Polk is still doubtful for the season opener against Eastern Washington. He is expected to be slowed for the start of the season, regardless of when he debuts, but should be 100% by the time conference play begins.

Jacory Harris and Robert Morris, QB, Miami
The U is still awaiting word from the NCAA on the status of Harris for the opener against Maryland on Labor Day night. Morris was close to winning the job outright before the Nevin Shaprio scandal broke, so it would not be a surprise at all to see Morris win the job even if Harris is deemed eligible.

Jarrett Lee, QB, LSU
With the suspension of Jordan Jefferson, Lee has been named the starter for one of this weekend's biggest games: Oregon vs. LSU in Arlington. Lee is no stranger to the starting line-up as he got plenty of snaps as a freshman and was called upon to make key throws last fall.

Garrett Gilbert, et al, QB, Texas
Expect Mack Brown, Major Applewhite and Bryan Harsin to name a starter as early as Monday. Gilbert will be the heavy favorite to at least start the season under center.

Casey Pachall, QB, TCU
Two weeks ago, the man responsible for replacing the legendary Andy Dalton had an MRI done on his throwing shoulder. Nothing serious was found and Pachall appears to be ready to go for this weekend's trip to Waco. TCU beat the Bears 45-10 last fall.

Jordan Hall and Jamaal Berry, RB, Ohio State
Berry has been dealing with a small hamstring issue and could see his potential starting job go to Hall. Even if Berry is 100% by Saturday for the Akron opener, Hall should see significant time. Look for the speedy Berry and brusing Hall to get the bulk of the carries over the first five weeks while Buckeye fans wait for the return of Boom Herron.

Silas Redd, RB, Penn State
The talented Nittany Lion runner has been dealing with a "minor leg injury" over the last week and back-up Brandon Beachum has been seeing more reps in practice. The injury is not supposed to be serious, but Redd will likely not be needed past halftime against Indiana State.

Dan Persa, QB, Northwestern
No shock here as Pat Fitzgerald has named Persa as his starter for the Boston College game. Persa has been dealing with the recovery from a torn Achilles' tendon. His mobility might not be 100%, but his arm should be fine.

Savon Huggins and De'Antwaun Williams, RB, Rutgers
The highly-touted true freshman, Huggins, has been named a co-starter with Williams for the Scarlet Knights opener against North Carolina Central. Huggins has all the raw talent in the world to be one of the nation's leading freshman rushers and could easily steal the job from Williams permanently.

Michael Shaw, RB, Michigan
All signs point to Brady Hoke using the senior tailback as his starter in his Maize and Blue debut against Western Michigan this weekend. Hoke's more traditional pro-sets on offense (as compared to Rich Rodriguez' spread tendancies) depend on a power rushing game and it still remains to be seen if the 6-0, 195-pounder can handle the work load.

Kevin Prince, QB, UCLA
According to, Prince looks like he will earn the starting quarterback spot for the UCLA Bruins. It appears he has beaten out Richard Brehaut and will be under center when the Bruins head to Houston for the season opener.

Caleb Terbush, QB, Purdue
The snake-bitten Boilermakers appear to be closer to naming a starting QB after losing Rob Henry to an ACL tear last week. Robert Marve doesn't look to be fully recovered from his own ACL issue and TerBush will likely be under center when Middle Tennessee comes to town this weekend.

Michael Dyer, RB, Auburn
After missing the better part of the last two weeks due to an undisclosed injury, it appears that the super sophomore is ready for the 2011 season. The Tigers take on Utah State at home this weekend.

Demarius Johnson, WR, Tulsa
The talented do-everything play-maker has been suspended indefinitely due to embezzlement charges.

Tarean Austin, QB, New Mexico
Mike Locksley has named Austin as his starting quarterback for the season opener against Colorado State. Back-up B.R. Holbrook could still see some time this fall.

Darius Bright, WR, Hawaii
Potential No. 2 receiver has been suspended indefinitely following a third-degree assault charge stemming from a Waikiki nightclub incident Sunday morning.

Pat Shed, RB, UAB
The Blazers' back is scheduled to miss the opener against Florida and Darrin Reaves looks to be the starter.

<p> College football kicks-off this weekend and Athlon has all the latest injury, suspension and depth chart updates from around the nation.</p>
Post date: Monday, August 29, 2011 - 12:13
Path: /college-football/college-football-impact-injuries-and-suspensions

Updated Monday, August 29, 12:15 PM ET

Montel Harris, RB, Boston College
A surprise knee surgery has pushed the Eagles starting tailback to the bench for at least the first week of action. Andre Williams, who is battling his own ankle issue, is expected to get the bulk of the carries against Northwestern. Harris could return in Week Two when BC heads to UCF.

Chris Polk, RB, Washington
After knee surgery a few weeks ago, Polk is still doubtful for the season opener against Eastern Washington. He is expected to be slowed for the start of the season, regardless of when he debuts, but should be 100% by the time conference play begins.

Jacory Harris and Robert Morris, QB, Miami
The U is still awaiting word from the NCAA on the status of Harris for the opener against Maryland on Labor Day night. Morris was close to winning the job outright before the Nevin Shaprio scandal broke, so it would not be a surprise at all to see Morris win the job even if Harris is deemed eligible.

Jarrett Lee, QB, LSU
With the suspension of Jordan Jefferson, Lee has been named the starter for one of this weekend's biggest games: Oregon vs. LSU in Arlington. Lee is no stranger to the starting line-up as he got plenty of snaps as a freshman and was called upon to make key throws last fall.

Garrett Gilbert, et al, QB, Texas
Expect Mack Brown, Major Applewhite and Bryan Harsin to name a starter as early as Monday. Gilbert will be the heavy favorite to at least start the season under center.

Casey Pachall, QB, TCU
Two weeks ago, the man responsible for replacing the legendary Andy Dalton had an MRI done on his throwing shoulder. Nothing serious was found and Pachall appears to be ready to go for this weekend's trip to Waco. TCU beat the Bears 45-10 last fall.

Jordan Hall and Jamaal Berry, RB, Ohio State
Berry has been dealing with a small hamstring issue and could see his potential starting job go to Hall. Even if Berry is 100% by Saturday for the Akron opener, Hall should see significant time. Look for the speedy Berry and brusing Hall to get the bulk of the carries over the first five weeks while Buckeye fans wait for the return of Boom Herron.

Silas Redd, RB, Penn State
The talented Nittany Lion runner has been dealing with a "minor leg injury" over the last week and back-up Brandon Beachum has been seeing more reps in practice. The injury is not supposed to be serious, but Redd will likely not be needed past halftime against Indiana State.

Dan Persa, QB, Northwestern
No shock here as Pat Fitzgerald has named Persa as his starter for the Boston College game. Persa has been dealing with the recovery from a torn Achilles' tendon. His mobility might not be 100%, but his arm should be fine.

Savon Huggins and De'Antwaun Williams, RB, Rutgers
The highly-touted true freshman, Huggins, has been named a co-starter with Williams for the Scarlet Knights opener against North Carolina Central. Huggins has all the raw talent in the world to be one of the nation's leading freshman rushers and could easily steal the job from Williams permanently.

Michael Shaw, RB, Michigan
All signs point to Brady Hoke using the senior tailback as his starter in his Maize and Blue debut against Western Michigan this weekend. Hoke's more traditional pro-sets on offense (as compared to Rich Rodriguez' spread tendancies) depend on a power rushing game and it still remains to be seen if the 6-0, 195-pounder can handle the work load.

Kevin Prince, QB, UCLA
According to, Prince looks like he will earn the starting quarterback spot for the UCLA Bruins. It appears he has beaten out Richard Brehaut and will be under center when the Bruins head to Houston for the season opener.

Caleb Terbush, QB, Purdue
The snake-bitten Boilermakers appear to be closer to naming a starting QB after losing Rob Henry to an ACL tear last week. Robert Marve doesn't look to be fully recovered from his own ACL issue and TerBush will likely be under center when Middle Tennessee comes to town this weekend.

Michael Dyer, RB, Auburn
After missing the better part of the last two weeks due to an undisclosed injury, it appears that the super sophomore is ready for the 2011 season. The Tigers take on Utah State at home this weekend.

Demarius Johnson, WR, Tulsa
The talented do-everything play-maker has been suspended indefinitely due to embezzlement charges.

Tarean Austin, QB, New Mexico
Mike Locksley has named Austin as his starting quarterback for the season opener against Colorado State. Back-up B.R. Holbrook could still see some time this fall.

Darius Bright, WR, Hawaii
Potential No. 2 receiver has been suspended indefinitely following a third-degree assault charge stemming from a Waikiki nightclub incident Sunday morning.

Pat Shed, RB, UAB
The Blazers' back is scheduled to miss the opener against Florida and Darrin Reaves looks to be the starter.

<p> College football kicks-off this weekend and Athlon has all the latest injury, suspension and depth chart updates from around the nation.</p>
Post date: Monday, August 29, 2011 - 12:12