Articles By Corby Yarbrough

All taxonomy terms: NFL, Fantasy
Path: /columns/winning-game-plan/april-nfl-fantasy-mock-draft
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Welcome to the third Athlon Sports NFL Fantasy Mock Draft of 2011. April's mock draft was conducted with Athlon Sports' default scoring, default lineup and a league of 12 players. During this month's mock draft, we went the 12-team route, but instead of the Athlon editors drafting we let the computers go straight down the rankings and see what it spit out.

There were only four parameters we gave the computer: Each drafter pre-determined what positions he wanted in the first two rounds, what round he wanted a tight end and we also made the computer draft each team a backup QB. Click here for a breakdown of how each team fared after the auto draft.

Round 1 Player, Position, Team   Drafter  
1 Arian Foster, RB, HOU   Matt Taliaferro Athlon Sports
2 Adrian Peterson, RB, MIN   Mitch Light Athlon Sports
3 Jamaal Charles, RB, KC   Tim Clark Athlon Sports
4 Ray Rice, RB, BAL   Charlie Miller Athlon Sports
5 Chris Johnson, RB, TEN   Rob Doster Athlon Sports
6 Aaron Rodgers, QB, GB   Mark Malone Athlon Sports
7 Frank Gore, RB, SF   Victor Drazen Athlon Sports
8 Rashard Mendenhall, RB, PIT   Patrick Snow Athlon Sports
9 Maurice Jones-Drew, RB, JAC   Steven Lassan Athlon Sports
10 LeSean McCoy, RB, PHI   Braden Gall Athlon Sports
11 Tom Brady, QB, NE   Corby Yarbrough Athlon Sports
12 Drew Brees, QB, NO   Nathan Rush Athlon Sports
Round 2 Player, Position, Team   Drafter  
13 Andre Johnson, WR, HOU   Nathan Rush Athlon Sports
14 Darren McFadden, RB, OAK   Corby Yarbrough Athlon Sports
15 Steven Jackson, RB, STL   Braden Gall Athlon Sports
16 Peyton Manning, QB, IND   Steven Lassan Athlon Sports
17 Philip Rivers, QB, SD   Patrick Snow Athlon Sports
18 Michael Turner, RB, ATL   Victor Drazen Athlon Sports
19 Matt Forte, RB, CHI   Mark Malone Athlon Sports
20 Michael Vick, QB, PHI   Rob Doster Athlon Sports
21 Matt Ryan, QB, ATL   Charlie Miller Athlon Sports
22 LeGarrette Blount, RB, TB   Tim Clark Athlon Sports
23 Calvin Johnson, WR, DET   Mitch Light Athlon Sports
24 Jonathan Stewart, RB, CAR   Matt Taliaferro Athlon Sports
Round 3 Player, Position, Team   Drafter  
25 Hakeem Nicks, WR, NYG   Matt Taliaferro Athlon Sports
26 Greg Jennings, WR, GB   Mitch Light Athlon Sports
27 Regie Wayne, WR, IND   Tim Clark Athlon Sports
28 Mike Wallace, WR, PIT   Charlie Miller Athlon Sports
29 Dwayne Bowe, WR, KC   Rob Doster Athlon Sports
30 Larry Fitzgerald, WR, ARI   Mark Malone Athlon Sports
31 DeSean Jackson, WR, PHI   Victor Drazen Athlon Sports
32 Mike Williams, WR, TB   Patrick Snow Athlon Sports
33 Peyton Hillis, RB, CLE   Steven Lassan Athlon Sports
34 Knowshon Moreno, RB, DEN   Braden Gall Athlon Sports
35 Brandon Lloyd, WR, DEN   Corby Yarbrough Athlon Sports
36 Dez Bryant, WR, DAL   Nathan Rush Athlon Sports
Round 4 Player, Position, Team   Drafter  
37 Marques Colston, WR, NO   Nathan Rush Athlon Sports
38 Antonio Gates, TE, SD   Corby Yarbrough Athlon Sports
39 Miles Austin, WR, DAL   Braden Gall Athlon Sports
40 Brandon Marshall, WR, MIA   Steven Lassan Athlon Sports
41 Vincent Jackson, WR, SD   Patrick Snow Athlon Sports
42 BenJarvus Green-Ellis, RB, NE   Victor Drazen Athlon Sports
43 Vernon Davis, TE, SF   Mark Malone Athlon Sports
44 Ahmad Bradshaw, RB, NYG   Rob Doster Athlon Sports
45 Ben Roethlisberger, QB, PIT   Charlie Miller Athlon Sports
46 Jason Witten, TE, DAL   Tim Clark Athlon Sports
47 Tony Romo, QB, DAL   Mitch Light Athlon Sports
48 Kenny Britt, WR, TEN   Matt Taliaferro Athlon Sports
Round 5 Player, Position, Team   Drafter  
49 Wes Welker, WR, NE   Matt Taliaferro Athlon Sports
50 Dallas Clark, TE, IND   Mitch Light Athlon Sports
51 Jeremy Maclin, WR, PHI   Tim Clark Athlon Sports
52 Jermichael Finley, TE, GB   Charlie Miller Athlon Sports
53 Rob Gronkowski, TE, NE   Rob Doster Athlon Sports
54 Santonio Holmes, WR, NYJ   Mark Malone Athlon Sports
55 Ryan Mathews, RB, SD   Victor Drazen Athlon Sports
56 Shonn Greene, RB, NYJ   Patrick Snow Athlon Sports
57 Cedric Benson, RB, CIN   Steven Lassan Athlon Sports
58 Tony Gonzalez, TE, ATL   Braden Gall Athlon Sports
59 Jahvid Best, RB, DET   Corby Yarbrough Athlon Sports
60 Matt Schaub, QB, HOU   Nathan Rush Athlon Sports
Round 6 Player, Position, Team   Drafter  
61 Brandon Pettigrew, TE, DET   Nathan Rush Athlon Sports
62 Eli Manning, QB, NYG   Corby Yarbrough Athlon Sports
63 Joe Flacco, QB, BAL   Braden Gall Athlon Sports
64 Kellen Winslow, TE, TB   Steven Lassan Athlon Sports
65 Josh Freeman, QB, TB   Patrick Snow Athlon Sports
66 Steve Johnson, WR, BUF   Victor Drazen Athlon Sports
67 Anquan Boldin, WR, BAL   Mark Malone Athlon Sports
68 Santana Moss, WR, WAS   Rob Doster Athlon Sports
69 Michael Crabtree, WR, SF   Charlie Miller Athlon Sports
70 Percy Harvin, WR, MIN   Tim Clark Athlon Sports
71 Pierre Garcon, WR, IND   Mitch Light Athlon Sports
72 Sidney Rice, WR, MIN   Matt Taliaferro Athlon Sports
Round 7 Player, Position, Team   Drafter  
73 Johnny Knox, WR, CHI   Matt Taliaferro Athlon Sports
74 Marshawn Lynch, RB, SEA   Mitch Light Athlon Sports
75 Felix Jones, RB, DAL   Tim Clark Athlon Sports
76 Ryan Torain, RB, WAS   Charlie Miller Athlon Sports
77 Joseph Addai, RB, IND   Rob Doster Athlon Sports
78 Ronnie Brown, RB, MIA   Mark Malone Athlon Sports
79 DeAngelo Williams, RB, CAR   Victor Drazen Athlon Sports
80 Mark Ingram, RB, Rookie   Patrick Snow Athlon Sports
81 Ryan Grant, RB, GB   Steven Lassan Athlon Sports
82 Austin Collie, WR, IND   Braden Gall Athlon Sports
83 Deion Branch, WR, NE   Corby Yarbrough Athlon Sports
84 Mario Manningham, WR, NYG   Nathan Rush Athlon Sports
Round 8 Player, Position, Team   Drafter  
85 Braylon Edwards, WR, NYJ   Nathan Rush Athlon Sports
86 Danny Woodhead, RB, NE   Corby Yarbrough Athlon Sports
87 Sam Bradford, QB, STL   Braden Gall Athlon Sports
88 Brandon Jacobs, RB, NYG   Steven Lassan Athlon Sports
89 Chris Cooley, TE, WAS   Patrick Snow Athlon Sports
90 Fred Jackson, RB, BUF   Victor Drazen Athlon Sports
91 Mike Tolbert, RB, SD   Mark Malone Athlon Sports
92 Reggie Bush, RB, NO   Rob Doster Athlon Sports
93 Terrell Owens, WR, CIN   Charlie Miller Athlon Sports
94 Derrick Mason, WR, BAL   Tim Clark Athlon Sports
95 Hines Ward, WR, PIT   Mitch Light Athlon Sports
96 Steve Smith, WR, NYG   Matt Taliaferro Athlon Sports
Round 9 Player, Position, Team   Drafter  
97 Zach Miller, TE, OAK   Matt Taliaferro Athlon Sports
98 Malcom Floyd, WR, SD   Mitch Light Athlon Sports
99 Mike Williams, WR, SEA   Tim Clark Athlon Sports
100 LaDanian Tomlinson, RB, NYJ   Charlie Miller Athlon Sports
101 Michael Bush, RB, OAK   Rob Doster Athlon Sports
102 Randy Moss, WR, TEN   Mark Malone Athlon Sports
103 Chad Johnson, WR, CIN   Cory Jones Athlon Sports
104 Lance Moore, WR, NO   Patrick Snow Athlon Sports
105 Mike Thomas, WR, JAC   Steven Lassan Athlon Sports
106 Jerome Simpson, WR, CIN   Braden Gall Athlon Sports
107 Mike Sims-Walker, WR, JAC   Corby Yarbrough Athlon Sports
108 James Jones, WR, GB   Nathan Rush Athlon Sports
Round 10 Player, Position, Team   Drafter  
109 Christopher Ivory, RB, NO   Nathan Rush Athlon Sports
110 Beanie Wells, RB, ARI   Corby Yarbrough Athlon Sports
111 C.J. Spiller, RB, BUF   Braden Gall Athlon Sports
112 Ricky Williams, RB, MIA   Steven Lassan Athlon Sports
113 Thomas Jones, RB, KC   Patrick Snow Athlon Sports
114 Owen Daniels, TE, Houston   Victor Drazen Athlon Sports
115 James Starks, RB, GB   Mark Malone Athlon Sports
116 Jacoby Ford, WR, OAK   Rob Doster Athlon Sports
117 Tim Hightower, RB, ARI   Charlie Miller Athlon Sports
118 Matthew Stafford, QB, DET   Tim Clark Athlon Sports
119 Tashard Choice, RB, DAL   Mitch Light Athlon Sports
120 Rashad Jennings, RB, JAC   Matt Taliaferro Athlon Sports
Round 11 Player, Position, Team   Drafter  
120 Donald Brown, RB, IND   Matt Taliaferro Athlon Sports
121 Pierre Thomas, RB, NO   Mitch Light Athlon Sports
122 Justin Forsett, RB, SEA   Tim Clark Athlon Sports
123 Montario Hardesty, RB, CLE   Charlie Miller Athlon Sports
124 Matt Cassel, QB, KC   Rob Doster Athlon Sports
125 Carson Palmer, QB, CIN   Mark Malone Athlon Sports
126 Jay Cutler, QB, CHI   Victor Drazen Athlon Sports
127 Robert Meachem, WR, NO   Patrick Snow Athlon Sports
128 Steve Smith, WR, CAR   Steven Lassan Athlon Sports
129 Emmanuel Sanders, WR, PIT   Braden Gall Athlon Sports
130 Davone Bess, WR, MIA   Corby Yarbrough Athlon Sports
131 Danny Amendola, WR, STL   Nathan Rush Athlon Sports
Round 12 Player, Position, Team   Drafter  
132 Clinton Portis, RB, FA   Nathan Rush Athlon Sports
133 Willis McGahee, RB, BAL   Corby Yarbrough Athlon Sports
134 Bernard Scott, RB, CIN   Braden Gall Athlon Sports
135 Marion Barber, RB, DAL   Steven Lassan Athlon Sports
136 Jason Snelling, RB, ATL   Patrick Snow Athlon Sports
137 Darren Sproles, RB, SD   Victor Drazen Athlon Sports
138 Toby Gerhart, RB, MIN   Mark Malone Athlon Sports
139 Jordan Todman, RB, Rookie   Rob Doster Athlon Sports
140 Lee Evans, WR, BUF   Charlie Miller Athlon Sports
141 Steve Breaston, WR, ARI   Tim Clark Athlon Sports
142 Nate Burleson, WR, DET   Mitch Light Athlon Sports
143 Maurice Morris, RB, DET   Matt Taliaferro Athlon Sports
Round 13 Player, Position, Team   Drafter  
144 Mark Sanchez, QB, NYJ   Matt Taliaferro Athlon Sports
145 David Garrard, QB, JAC   Mitch Light Athlon Sports
146 Chester Taylor, RB, CHI   Tim Clark Athlon Sports
147 Ryan Williams, RB, Rookie   Charlie Miller Athlon Sports
148 Mikel LeShoure, RB, Rookie   Rob Doster Athlon Sports
149 Daniel Thomas, RB, Rookie   Mark Malone Athlon Sports
150 Jason Campbell, QB, OAK   Victor Drazen Athlon Sports
151 DeMarco Murray, RB, Rookie   Patrick Snow Athlon Sports
152 Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB, BUF   Steven Lassan Athlon Sports
153 Earl Bennett, WR, CHI   Braden Gall Athlon Sports
154 Anthony Armstrong, WR, WAS   Corby Yarbrough Athlon Sports
155 Donald Driver, WR, GB   Nathan Rush Athlon Sports
Round 14 Player, Position, Team   Drafter  
156 Jacoby Jones, WR, HOU   Nathan Rush Athlon Sports
157 Nate Washington, WR, TEN   Corby Yarbrough Athlon Sports
158 Jordan Shipley, WR, CIN   Braden Gall Athlon Sports
159 Devin Hester, WR, CHI   Steven Lassan Athlon Sports
160 Louis Murphy, WR, OAK   Patrick Snow Athlon Sports
161 Blair White, WR, IND   Victor Drazen Athlon Sports
162 Mark Clayton, WR, STL   Mark Malone Athlon Sports
163 Danario Alexander, WR, STL   Rob Doster Athlon Sports
164 Correll Buckhalter, RB, DEN   Charlie Miller Athlon Sports
165 Anthony Dixon, RB, SF   Tim Clark Athlon Sports
166 Jerricho Cotchery, WR, NYJ   Mitch Light Athlon Sports
167 Kyle Orton, QB, DEN   Matt Taliaferro Athlon Sports
Round 15 Player, Position, Team   Drafter  
168 Pittsburgh D/ST   Matt Taliaferro Athlon Sports
169 Green Bay D/ST   Mitch Light Athlon Sports
170 New England D/ST   Tim Clark Athlon Sports
171 Chicago D/ST   Charlie Miller Athlon Sports
172 New York Jets D/ST   Rob Doster Athlon Sports
173 New York Giants D/ST   Mark Malone Athlon Sports
174 Baltimore D/ST   Victor Drazen Athlon Sports
175 Dallas D/ST   Patrick Snow Athlon Sports
176 Philadelphia D/ST   Steven Lassan Athlon Sports
177 San Diego D/ST   Braden Gall Athlon Sports
178 Atlanta D/ST   Corby Yarbrough Athlon Sports
179 Minnesota D/ST   Nathan Rush Athlon Sports
Round 16 Player, Position, Team   Drafter  
180 Nate Kaeding, K, SD   Nathan Rush Athlon Sports
181 David Akers, K , PHI   Corby Yarbrough Athlon Sports
182 Mason Crosby, K, GB   Braden Gall Athlon Sports
183 Rob Bironas, K, TEN   Steven Lassan Athlon Sports
184 Matt Bryant, K, ATL   Patrick Snow Athlon Sports
185 Stephen Gostkowski, K, NE   Victor Drazen Athlon Sports
186 Sebastian Janikowski, K, OAK   Mark Malone Athlon Sports
187 Ryan Longwell, K, MIN   Rob Doster Athlon Sports
188 Adam Vinatieri, K, IND   Charlie Miller Athlon Sports
189 Josh Brown, K, STL   Tim Clark Athlon Sports
190 Dan Carpenter, K, MIA   Mitch Light Athlon Sports
191 Nick Folk, K, NYJ   Matt Taliaferro Athlon Sports

This is a 12-team, head-to-head league. All touchdowns are 6 points. 1 point for 25 yards passing, 1 point for 10 yards rushing/receiving. Receptions are .5 points. Interceptions/fumbles are minus-2 points. PATs are 1 point, field goals are 3 points (30 yards), 4 points (40 yards) and 5 points (50-plus yards). Kickoff/punt returns count 6 points both for individuals and team defenses. Team defenses are scored with 1 point for a sack, 2 points for an interception, fumble recovery, safety or blocked kick. Points allowed are 12 for a shutout, 10 for 1-6, 8 for 7-13, 6 for 14-20, 2 for 21-27 and 0 for 28-plus. Lineup is 1 QB, 2 RB, 3 WR, 1 flex (RB/WR), 1 TE, 1 K, 1 DST and 6 bench spots.

You can let us know what you think by hitting us up on our Twitter accounts — @AthlonCorby, @AthlonSteven, @AthlonSnowman, @AthlonBraden and @AthlonRush.

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Post date: Tuesday, April 26, 2011 - 17:27
Path: /columns/national-notebook/athlon-sports-nba-awards
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Athlon Sports names its winners for the NBA's MVP, Rookie of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, Sixth Man of the Year and Coach of the Year.

MOST VALUABLE PLAYER
Derrick Rose, Chicago Bulls

He led Chicago to the league’s best record and the No. 1 seed in the East. On the way, he was the only player to finish top 10 in scoring (25.0, 7th) and assists (7.7, 10th), and he quieted all doubters about his 3-ball by hitting 128 after having made all of 32 his first two seasons.

ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
Blake Griffin, L.A. Clippers

Can you be a rookie in your second year? Sure, why not? Griffin is a slam-dunk choice for Rookie of the Year. The All-Star finished as the league’s 10th-best scorer (1,845), third-best rebounder (989), third-best in double-doubles (63) and fifth in minutes played (3,112).

DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Dwight Howard, Orlando Magic

He was tops in the league in defensive rating (94.0) for the third straight year, defensive win shares (7.7) for the fourth straight year, first in defensive boards (789), second in total rebounds (1,098), third in blocks (186). No one dictates the game on defense like Superman.

SIXTH MAN OF THE YEAR
Lamar Odom, L.A. Lakers

He’s Mr. Consistency for the Lakers. He shot a career-high 53 percent from the field and a career-high 38 percent from 3-point range to average 14.4 points per game. That goes along with 8.7 rebounds a game and 28 double-doubles this season.

COACH OF THE YEAR
Tom Thibodeau, Chicago Bulls

The first-year coach, without his full starting lineup for 57 games — winning 43 of them — guided Chicago to the NBA's best record, its second-best scoring defense (91.3) and were tops in field goal percentage allowed (.430). The Bulls never lost more than two in a row.

— Corby A. Yarbrough @AthlonCorby on Twitter

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Post date: Monday, April 18, 2011 - 14:21
Path: /columns/nba-power-rankings/chicago-paces-playoff-rankings
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Athlon Sports NBA Power Rankings — Playoff Edition

1. Chicago — The league's best team rides into the playoffs as winners of 13 of 14 and a league-best winning percentage of .703 against teams with a .500 record or better (26-11).

2. Miami — The Heat picked a good time to start, um, heating up. Miami is 41-4 when it scores 100 or more points, while its first-round opponent, Philadelphia, is 6-25 when it gives up 100 or more points.

3. Los Angeles Lakers — Keep Andrew Bynum healthy and get contributions from role players and the Lake Show should at least make the Western Conference Finals. L.A. notched a league-high 31 wins against teams with a .500 record or better (31-15).

4. San Antonio — An injured Manu Ginobli, 4-6 in their last 10 games and a Memphis team that matches up well could spell trouble or at least a longer series than the Spurs would like.

5. Dallas — There has to be a pride issue with the Mavericks not being able to get it done in the playoffs. And that is magnified even more when many, myself included, are picking Dallas to be upset by a Portland team that hasn't won a playoff series since 2000.

6. Oklahoma City — The Thunder have had winning streaks of 6, 5 and 5 since the All-Star break and have not lost more than two in a row during that time. OKC is poised for a run to the Western Conference Finals ... and beyond?

7. Boston — Veterans, defense and never being down for long keeps Boston in the upper echelon. The Celtics join the Bulls as the only two teams in the league to have never lost more than two in a row this season. But the Cs have also only won more than two in a row just twice since March 6.

8. Orlando — Dwight Howard does all he can do and now it is up to the Magic 3-point shooters to do their part and fend off Atlanta in the opening round.

9. Denver — The series with the Thunder should be an exciting one, but the Thunder did defeat the Nuggets twice in the last eight days of the season, holding the top-scoring offense in the league to 89 and 94 points — well under Denver's average of 107.5 per game.

10. Portland — It's good to see this group in the playoffs. There are a number of players for the Blazers that are not household names but just might make themselves a name after this series — LaMarcus Aldridge, Gerald Wallace, Nicolas Batum, Wes Matthews, Rudy Fernandez and even veteran Andre Miller. Look out for the guys in Rip City.

11. Memphis — The Grizzlies are still searching for their first playoff victory and might get it this season. They have the personnel to match-up with the Spurs, but can they do it for seven games?

12. New York — If New York played an ounce of defense I would love to say it's going to be a knock-down-drag-out series. They don't, so it won't. The Knicks do stand a chance if the Celtics have no one inside to grab the boards, but getting past that Celtics defense in the playoffs after being swept in the season series is a tall task.

13. Philadelphia — If there was no Tom Thibodeau in Chicago, Doug Collins should get the nod for Coach of the Year. After a rough 3-13 start, the former Bulls coach got it turned around in Philly and improved 14 wins over last season's mark in his first year at the helm. The 76ers' reward: Miami. Good luck.

14. New Orleans — From the darlings in early November when they stayed undefeated for the first eight games to holding on to the seventh seed, it has been quite a roller coaster season for the Hornets. The Lakers will make quick work of the series.

15. Atlanta — What's the definition of insanity? Doing the same thing over and over and expecting the same results. This Hawks roster seems to have been together forever and nothing has come out of it. I do expect them to drag out their series with the Magic, maybe even win it, but the run stops there with Chicago around the corner.

16. Indiana — What can you say about a 37-win team in the postseason? Nothing. The Pacers made a nice run when Frank Vogel took over at midseason, but the Bulls ran through the Pacers in three of the four meetings. Indiana is 12-31 against teams with a .500 or better record. Since every other team in the postseason has at least a .500 record, that's not good news for the Pacers.

Eastern Conference at a Glance

Western Conference at a Glance

— Corby A. Yarbrough @AthlonCorby on Twitter

Teaser:
<p> The NBA playoffs are here. The first round begins Saturday, April 15. Sixteen teams made the pro dance, and Athlon Sports ranks those 16 teams as they enter the postseason.</p>
Post date: Friday, April 15, 2011 - 20:15
All taxonomy terms: NBA
Path: /columns/nba-western-conference-notes/age-just-number-out-west-0
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A look at the eight teams representing the Western Conference in this year's NBA Playoffs

Click here for Eastern Conference at a Glance

No. 1 SAN ANTONIO SPURS (61-21)
For a top seed there sure seems to be a lot of uncertainty surrounding the Spurs. Did they peak too soon? Has age caught up with them as well? Do they have enough size to compete in a long series over the next couple of months? San Antonio will hold off Memphis in the first round but all bets are off after that.

No. 2 LOS ANGELES LAKERS (57-25)
Here is another veteran team that gets the age questions thrown at it. The two-time defending champions have the luxury of 7-footers Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum, the Sixth Man of the Year in Lamar Odom and the best finisher in the game in Kobe Bryant. “Flip the switch” is the phrase du jour around the Lakers in regards as to whether or not they can flip it on. With the size down low and Bryant on the court, the Lakers are always a dangerous team.

No. 3 DALLAS MAVERICKS (57-25)
Stop me if you’ve heard this before. Is this the last ride for Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Kidd and the current Maverick roster? Probably. They have actually instilled a defensive philosophy — 10th in the league in points allowed — but draw a Portland team that might just have their number.

No. 4 OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER (55-27)
Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Kendrick Perkins make this a dangerous team in the West. Durant and Westbrook came close of pulling a first-round upset against the Lakers last season, and a year later they might find the Lakers again — this time in the Western Conference finals.

No. 5 DENVER NUGGETS (50-32)
George Karl did a great job with “two” teams this season — the one that had to endure the Carmelo-drama and the one that brought a crop of Knicks over in the trade for Anthony and meshed well enough to post an 18-7 record after the All-Star break. Unfortunately for the Nuggets, OKC stands in the way in the first round.

No. 6 PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS (48-34)
Could Portland really be the darlings of the West? Seems like there is a fight between Portland, Oklahoma City and Denver for that crown this postseason. But the Trail Blazers went 16-10 after the break, including an 11-6 mark against playoff teams.

No. 7 NEW ORLEANS HORNETS (46-36)
No David West (ACL) means no chance inside against the Lakers. The Hornets have just four wins against playoff teams since the All-Star break — Memphis, Dallas, Portland and Indiana — and are about as far removed from the 8-0 start of the season as a team could be.

No. 8 MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES (46-36)
The Grizzlies might finally get that first playoff victory, but that will be about it — one victory. The loss of Rudy Gay, who received the max contract in the offseason, was not as detrimental to the team as one might think — Memphis scored more per possession sans Gay. But experience will defeat size in the first round as the Grizzlies will put up a fight against the Spurs before an early KO.

— Corby A. Yarbrough @AthlonCorby on Twitter

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Post date: Friday, April 15, 2011 - 15:58
All taxonomy terms: NBA
Path: /columns/nba-eastern-conference-notes/bulls-ride-rose-postseason
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A look at the eight teams representing the Eastern Conference in this year's NBA Playoffs

Click here for Western Conference at a Glance

No. 1 CHICAGO BULLS (62-20)
The Bulls certainly didn’t enter the season as the favorites to win the East, but now they seem the favorite to perhaps win it all. They enter the playoffs on a nine-game winning streak, their longest since 2005, and never lost more than two games in a row all season. They are a deep team with only a few bumps and bruises, have the league’s MVP in Derrick Rose and are only hindered by playoff inexperience.

No. 2 MIAMI HEAT (58-24)
OK, the Heat didn’t go 82-0, but a No. 2 seed after the way things started is quite an accomplishment. The Heat have two of the best closers in the league in LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, but what after that? Miami’s depth and defensive abilities inside may hold the Heat back.

No. 3 BOSTON CELTICS (56-26)
Was this team doomed from the moment it traded Kendrick Perkins to Oklahoma City? The Celtics sat at 40-14 then and went 16-12 after the trade. There is little-to-no presence inside with Perkins gone and the O’Neals — Shaq and Jermaine — rarely, if ever, healthy. If age is just a number then Boston’s number might be up this season.

No. 4 ORLANDO MAGIC (52-30)
Dwight Howard and the Perimeters have a pretty tough road ahead of them. Like their counterparts to the south, the Magic are not very deep and outside of Howard’s presence inside, rely heavily on the outside shot. A first-round win is expected but the road through Chicago, Miami or Boston just to get to the NBA Finals is a tough task.

No. 5 ATLANTA HAWKS (44-38)
The Hawks were 34-21 at the All-Star break and closed out the season with a 10-17 mark, including a season-high six-game slide to enter the postseason. It’s hard to look favorably on those numbers and think much will be remedied in the playoffs.

No. 6 NEW YORK KNICKS (42-40)
The Knicks are back in the postseason for the first time since 2004 and could make some noise with the league’s second-best offense (106.5). However, being ranked 28th on defense and 20th in rebounding normally doesn’t equal success in the playoffs.

No. 7 PHILADELPHIA 76ers (41-41)
From 3-13 to start the season to a playoff run for coach Doug Collins and Co. was a great story. But injuries to Lou Williams and Andre Iguodala have come at the worst time. Philly could make some noise with its inside players, but not enough to win a series.

No. 8 INDIANA PACERS (37-45)
From firing Jim O’Brien on Jan. 30 with a record of 17-27 to a 20-18 close to the season under Frank Vogel is to be commended. But the 37 wins are the lowest for a playoff team since Atlanta’s 37 in 2008.

— Corby A. Yarbrough @AthlonCorby on Twitter

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Post date: Friday, April 15, 2011 - 15:55
All taxonomy terms: NFL, Fantasy
Path: /columns/winning-game-plan/fantasy-draft-auto-tuned
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If the NFL is going to lockout its players then it is locking out its fantasy players as well. So we at Athlon Sports took that to heart for this April's mock fantasy draft.

Just as we have conducted a mock draft on the first Monday of February and March, we did so again this month. However, we did it with a lockout twist. We locked ourselves out of it.

Want to know what it will look like if John Connor was right and Skynet takes over? Well this is it in mock draft form. We simply let the computer do the drafting for us.

The only parameters that were given were what positions we wanted in the first two rounds and what round we wanted our tight end selected in. We also had the computer draft a backup quarterback for us. From there, the computer went right down the line of our top 275 board and produced a 12-team, 16-round draft that not many of us are proud of.

This, folks, is what a fantasy draft lockout looks like. This is the future when computers take over. Of course this was originally done to show you what could happen if you ever get stuck in an auto draft league and let the computer do the work you should have been doing.

So enjoy — or cringe.

The highs and lows for the 12 teams "participating" in the Athlon Sports April Mock Auto Draft.

No. 1 slot: Matt Taliaferro (RB, RB)
Highs —
Arian Foster, Jonathan Stewart in the first two rounds.
Lows — Having six straight receivers drafted from Rounds 3-8 and no QB until Sanchez in the 13th.

No. 2 slot: Mitch Light (RB, WR)
Highs —
 Adrian Peterson, Calvin Johnson, Greg Jennings in the first three rounds.
Lows — Considering it was an auto draft, none really.

No. 3 slot: Tim Clark (RB, RB)
Highs —
 Reggie Wayne, Jason Witten and Jeremy Maclin from rounds 3-5.
Lows — Blount as a second rounder was a result of pre-determining he wanted RB, RB to start the draft.

No. 4 slot: Charlie Miller (RB, QB)
Highs —
 Pretty solid first seven rounds despite having two QBs selected in a span of three rounds (a mandatory backup QB bit him there).
Lows — Had six RBs selected for him between rounds 7-15.

No. 5 slot: Rob Doster (RB, QB)
Highs —
 Chris Johnson, Michael Vick and Dwayne Bowe is a stellar start at the fifth spot.
Lows — The auto pick got him good with a roster full of RBs — seven of them, including five in seven picks.

No. 6 slot: Mark Malone (QB, WR)
Highs —
 Actually resembles a real draft with Aaron Rodgers, Matt Forte, Larry Fitzgerald, Vernon Davis, Santonio Holmes and Anquan Boldin as his first six picks.
Lows — Ended up with a string of RBBCs — five of them between rounds 7-13

No. 7 slot: Victor Drazen (RB, RB)
Highs —
 Held out for QB and TE and wound up with Jay Cutler and Owen Daniels in the ninth and 10th rounds — great value in this auto setup.
Lows — Have RBs will travel. The auto draft loaded him up with six RBs in his first eight rounds.

No. 8 slot: Patrick Snow (RB, QB)
Highs —
 The all-potential team came after his first two picks of Rashard Mendenhall and Philip Rivers. They included Mike Williams (Tampa), Vincent Jackson, Shonn Greene, Josh Freeman, Mark Ingram and Chris Cooley.
Lows — With the ninth pick in an auto draft it's hard to find where the computer might have screwed him on this one.

No. 9 slot: Steven Lassan (RB, QB)
Highs —
 MJD and Peyton Manning are not a bad way to start a draft.
Lows — Seven of the first 13 picks were RBs and six of them are questionable in regards to carrying a fantasy team.

No. 10 slot: Braden Gall (RB, RB)
Highs —
 Another spot that seemed to turn into more of a traditional draft with LeSean McCoy and Steven Jackson as his first two picks.
Lows — Hard to find any (outside of maybe being saddled with RBs for his first three picks) considering it's auto draft.

No. 11 slot: Corby Yarbrough (QB, RB)
Highs —
Starts strong with Tom Brady and Darren McFadden and then Antonio Gates in the fourth.
Lows — Falls off the rails after the seventh round and pretty much until Akers is selected last.

No. 12 slot: Nathan Rush (QB, WR)
Highs —
 Drew Brees, Andre Johnson, Dez Bryant to begin a draft selecting in the last spot is phenomenal.
Lows — However, just as it was with the No. 1 overall slot, Rush is saddled with nine receivers and just TWO running backs between rounds 2-14.

1 — MATT TALIAFERRO   2 — MITCH LIGHT   3 — TIM CLARK  
Arian Foster, RB, HOU   Adrian Peterson, RB, MIN   Jamaal Charles, RB, KC  
Jonathan Stewart, RB, CAR   Calvin Johnson, WR, DET   LeGarrette Blount, RB, TB  
Hakeem Nicks, WR, NYG   Greg Jennings, WR, GB   Regie Wayne, WR, IND  
Kenny Britt, WR, TEN   Tony Romo, QB, DAL   Jason Witten, TE, DAL  
Wes Welker, WR, NE   Dallas Clark, TE, IND   Jeremy Maclin, WR, PHI  
Sidney Rice, WR, MIN   Pierre Garcon, WR, IND   Percy Harvin, WR, MIN  
Johnny Knox, WR, CHI   Marshawn Lynch, RB, SEA   Felix Jones, RB, DAL  
Steve Smith, WR, NYG   Hines Ward, WR, PIT   Derrick Mason, WR, BAL  
Zach Miller, TE, OAK   Malcom Floyd, WR, SD   Mike Williams, WR, SEA  
Rashad Jennings, RB, JAC   Tashard Choice, RB, DAL   Matthew Stafford, QB, DET  
Donald Brown, RB, IND   Pierre Thomas, RB, NO   Justin Forsett, RB, SEA  
Maurice Morris, RB, DET   Nate Burleson, WR, DET   Steve Breaston, WR, ARI  
Mark Sanchez, QB, NYJ   David Garrard, QB, JAC   Chester Taylor, RB, CHI  
Kyle Orton, QB, DEN   Jerricho Cotchery, WR, NYJ   Anthony Dixon, RB, SF  
Pittsburgh D/ST   Green Bay D/ST   New England D/ST  
Nick Folk, K, NYJ   Dan Carpenter, K, MIA   Josh Brown, K, STL  
4 — CHARLIE MILLER   5 — ROB DOSTER   6 — MARK MALONE  
Ray Rice, RB, BAL   Chris Johnson, RB, TEN   Aaron Rodgers, QB, GB  
Matt Ryan, QB, ATL   Michael Vick, QB, PHI   Matt Forte, RB, CHI  
Mike Wallace, WR, PIT   Dwayne Bowe, WR, KC   Larry Fitzgerald, WR, ARI  
Ben Roethlisberger, QB, PIT   Ahmad Bradshaw, RB, NYG   Vernon Davis, TE, SF  
Jermichael Finley, TE, GB   Rob Gronkowski, TE, NE   Santonio Holmes, WR, NYJ  
Michael Crabtree, WR, SF   Santana Moss, WR, WAS   Anquan Boldin, WR, BAL  
Ryan Torain, RB, WAS   Joseph Addai, RB, IND   Ronnie Brown, RB, MIA  
Terrell Owens, WR, CIN   Reggie Bush, RB, NO   Mike Tolbert, RB, SD  
LaDanian Tomlinson, RB, NYJ   Michael Bush, RB, OAK   Randy Moss, WR, TEN  
Tim Hightower, RB, ARI   Jacoby Ford, WR, OAK   James Starks, RB, GB  
Montario Hardesty, RB, CLE   Matt Cassel, QB, KC   Carson Palmer, QB, CIN  
Lee Evans, WR, BUF   Jordan Todman, RB, Rookie   Toby Gerhart, RB, MIN  
Ryan Williams, RB, Rookie   Mikel LeShoure, RB, Rookie   Daniel Thomas, RB, Rookie  
Correll Buckhalter, RB, DEN   Danario Alexander, WR, STL   Mark Clayton, WR, STL  
Chicago D/ST   New York Jets D/ST   New York Giants D/ST  
Adam Vinatieri, K, IND   Ryan Longwell, K, MIN   Sebastian Janikowski, K, OAK  
7 — VICTOR DRAZEN   8 — PATRICK SNOW   9 — STEVEN LASSAN  
Frank Gore, RB, SF   Rashard Mendenhall, RB, PIT   Maurice Jones-Drew, RB, JAC  
Michael Turner, RB, ATL   Philip Rivers, QB, SD   Peyton Manning, QB, IND  
DeSean Jackson, WR, PHI   Mike Williams, WR, TB   Peyton Hillis, RB, CLE  
BenJarvus Green-Ellis, RB, NE   Vincent Jackson, WR, SD   Brandon Marshall, WR, MIA  
Ryan Mathews, RB, SD   Shonn Greene, RB, NYJ   Cedric Benson, RB, CIN  
Steve Johnson, WR, BUF   Josh Freeman, QB, TB   Kellen Winslow, TE, TB  
DeAngelo Williams, RB, CAR   Mark Ingram, RB, Rookie   Ryan Grant, RB, GB  
Fred Jackson, RB, BUF   Chris Cooley, TE, WAS   Brandon Jacobs, RB, NYG  
Chad Johnson, WR, CIN   Lance Moore, WR, NO   Mike Thomas, WR, JAC  
Owen Daniels, TE, Houston   Thomas Jones, RB, KC   Ricky Williams, RB, MIA  
Jay Cutler, QB, CHI   Robert Meachem, WR, NO   Steve Smith, WR, CAR  
Darren Sproles, RB, SD   Jason Snelling, RB, ATL   Marion Barber, RB, DAL  
Jason Campbell, QB, OAK   DeMarco Murray, RB, Rookie   Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB, BUF  
Blair White, WR, IND   Louis Murphy, WR, OAK   Devin Hester, WR, CHI  
Baltimore D/ST   Dallas D/ST   Philadelphia D/ST  
Stephen Gostkowski, K, NE   Matt Bryant, K, ATL   Rob Bironas, K, TEN  
10 — BRADEN GALL   11 — CORBY YARBROUGH   12 — NATHAN RUSH  
LeSean McCoy, RB, PHI   Tom Brady, QB, NE   Drew Brees, QB, NO  
Steven Jackson, RB, STL   Darren McFadden, RB, OAK   Andre Johnson, WR, HOU  
Knowshon Moreno, RB, DEN   Brandon Lloyd, WR, DEN   Dez Bryant, WR, DAL  
Miles Austin, WR, DAL   Antonio Gates, TE, SD   Marques Colston, WR, NO  
Tony Gonzalez, TE, ATL   Jahvid Best, RB, DET   Matt Schaub, QB, HOU  
Joe Flacco, QB, BAL   Eli Manning, QB, NYG   Brandon Pettigrew, TE, DET  
Austin Collie, WR, IND   Deion Branch, WR, NE   Mario Manningham, WR, NYG  
Sam Bradford, QB, STL   Danny Woodhead, RB, NE   Braylon Edwards, WR, NYJ  
Jerome Simpson, WR, CIN   Mike Sims-Walker, WR, JAC   James Jones, WR, GB  
C.J. Spiller, RB, BUF   Beanie Wells, RB, ARI   Christopher Ivory, RB, NO  
Emmanuel Sanders, WR, PIT   Davone Bess, WR, MIA   Danny Amendola, WR, STL  
Bernard Scott, RB, CIN   Willis McGahee, RB, BAL   Clinton Portis, RB, FA  
Earl Bennett, WR, CHI   Anthony Armstrong, WR, WAS   Donald Driver, WR, GB  
Jordan Shipley, WR, CIN   Nate Washington, WR, TEN   Jacoby Jones, WR, HOU  
San Diego D/ST   Atlanta D/ST   Minnesota D/ST  
Mason Crosby, K, GB   David Akers, K , PHI   Nate Kaeding, K, SD  
Teaser:
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Post date: Tuesday, April 5, 2011 - 12:42
All taxonomy terms: Golf
Path: /columns/monday-musings/monday-musings-9
Body:

Newly minted Arnold Palmer Invitational champion Martin Laird sounded like he had just survived a stint as a POW rather than winning a golf tournament.

“That was a hell of a day,” Laird said after a final-round 75 at a too-tough-to-tame Bay Hill was good enough for his second career win. “That was a tough fight out there. You know, the golf course is playing very, very difficult. To be honest I didn't feel like I had my swing really all day. Pretty much hit it everywhere until about the last four holes.”

Laird turned a three-shot lead into a three-shot deficit in a seven-hole stretch before righting the ship with two birdies and two pars down the stretch, including a two-putt par at 18 that held off hard-luck Steve Marino, who was penalized by two plugged lies late.

The final Masters tune-up for many of the players was far from merely a feel-good fete for the King, who watched as the six players in the final three groups labored to a cumulative 19-over par day. The day took on a U.S. Open feel, as player after player crumbled under the tension.

Scotland’s Laird was leading that backwards charge until his late revival, for which he credited his driver and putter.

“The two clubs that have been good for me all week,” he said. “They have held me in all week and they really came through strong today. I couldn't be any happier.”

Making him happiest of all was one of the biggest honors the game can offer — a handshake from Palmer as Bay Hill champion. “It really doesn’t get any better than to meet him coming off as the champion of his tournament,” Laird said.

Progress Report
The results on the course don’t really show it, but Tiger Woods insists he’s ready for The Masters. Tiger finished bogey-double bogey at Bay Hill for a final round 72, but he focused on the positives in his post-round comments — in his typically tight-lipped way.

“Every day has gotten a little bit tighter, which is good,” he said of his retooled swing. “As I said, keep working, keep staying the course and keep working on the same things and each day is progressing. Today was really nice.

“This year, I felt like I've played my way into shape. I've played, I've kept progressing and early in the year was disappointing because the conditions showed some signs of weakness that I had to work on. Now, it's feeling very, very good.”

Meanwhile, defending Masters champ Phil Mickelson fired a warning shot that should get everyone’s attention: “As far as the way I'm striking it, heading into Augusta last year, I wasn't striking it well (as he is this year) and I had a great session with Butch early in the week and it kind of turned things around; whereas I feel very confident with the way I'm striking the ball (this year). I just have to shoot a number.”
 

Teaser:
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Post date: Monday, March 28, 2011 - 16:59
All taxonomy terms: NBA
Path: /columns/nba-power-rankings/lakers-out-front
Body:

For the first time since Week 3, the Los Angeles Lakers sit atop the weekly Athlon Sports NBA Power Rankings — knocking the Chicago Bulls down a peg.

The last time the Lakers were atop these rankings they were 8-0 and didn't look like they would have trouble with any team until a Christmas Day game against Miami. Oops. They followed up their No.1 ranking with back-to-back losses.

That was then, this is now. And now is all that matters as there are just three weeks left in the regular season and the two-time defending champs are playing like it. They have lost just once since ending a three-game losing skid on February 16 — that one loss being a 94-88 defeat at Miami. In the other 13 games, eight of those wins have come against current playoff teams and five of those eight are against Western Conference teams.

The third-ranked Spurs lost Tim Duncan indefinitely this week with a ankle injury. They still hold a six-game lead over the Lakers for the top seed in the Western Conference, but play Portland twice, Memphis and Boston — all current playoff teams — to close out the month of March.

Meanwhile in the Eastern Conference, the Bulls and Celtics are neck and neck for the top seed. Chicago currently has a one-game lead and is the second hottest team in the league as winners of 10 of its last 11 games. The Bulls saw their perfect run through the Central Division come to an end at 12-0 when Indiana scored a 115-108 victory on March 18.

The Bulls gets Memphis, Milwaukee, Philadelphia and Minnesota to close out March with a monster game against Boston on April 7 looming.

Boston fell to Memphis Wednesday night to also fall a game back of the Bulls. The Celtics, after having won eight of nine in late Februrary, have lost five of their last nine. Their defense is still strong, allowing 86.1 points per game in those nine, but that's followed by just 88.4 points per game on the offensive end.

Fifth-ranked Miami is on a tear as of late. After losing five in a row to begin March, the Heat have won six of the last seven games and get a friendly schedule that could enable them to catch Boston and Chicago. Philadelphia and Houston are next up for Miami, but after that there are a string of get-well games including Cleveland, Washington, Minnesota, New Jersey, Milwaukee and Charlotte before a April 10 clash with Boston.

So perhaps the only drama left for the upper-tier teams will be those two games Boston has on April 7 at Chicago and April 10 against visiting Miami.

Athlon Sports NBA Power Rankings Week 22
1. L.A. Lakers
2. Chicago
3. San Antonio
4. Boston
5. Miami
6. Oklahoma City
7. Dallas
8. Orlando
9. Portland
10. Denver
11. Memphis
12. Philadelphia
13. Houston
14. New Orleans
15. Atlanta
16. Phoenix
17. New York
18. Utah
19. Indiana
20. Golden State
21. Milwaukee
22. L.A. Clippers
23. Charlotte
24. Detroit
25. New Jersey
26. Toronto
27. Sacramento
28. Minnesota
29. Washington
30. Cleveland

— Corby A. Yarbrough @AthlonCorby on Twitter

Teaser:
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Post date: Thursday, March 24, 2011 - 17:42
All taxonomy terms: NFL, Fantasy
Path: /columns/winning-game-plan/fantasy-lockout-too
Body:

The NFL owners have officially locked out the players and the upcoming 2011 season is in limbo. There is no player movement currently allowed. The only thing we know for sure is that the NFL Draft will still be held in late April. But what does the lockout mean for fantasy players? Are you a player that doesn't worry about your fantasy league's draft until this July or August? Or are you a player that keeps an eye on what's happening year-round?

So the question was posed to some of the Athlon Sports editors this week: How does the NFL lockout affect you as a fantasy player?

We wanted to address what our editors would be focusing on currently if there was no lockout and what their focus is now that there is a lockout.

How does the lockout affect you as a fantasy player? Or are we just a bucnh of fantasy nerds that should just concentrate on the fantasy football season a month before the season begins? Shoot us a comment or if you have any fantasy questions to any of our Twitter handles.

Steven Lassan @AthlonSteven
If there was no lockout, my main focus would be free agency and examining the coaching changes. With players on the move and depth charts changing for the next season, free agency is the time to start developing initial thoughts about how new acquisitions will fit into teams.

Coaching changes are also a big part of the offseason, especially with new systems and tendencies coming into play. Although most coaching changes aren't going to drastically change the fantasy value of most players, a new system can change how much certain positions/players are involved with the scheme, and examining the past statistical history from the new coach is a good starting point.

Even with the lockout, there's no need to stop the preparation for next year. I know there's a lot of uncertainty on when a deal gets done, but I can't see the labor situation costing any games on the field. Although the usual excitement for fantasy owners is somewhat tempered by the lockout, it's actually a good time to capitalize. Some owners may choose to put aside fantasy football until a deal is reached, limiting the time for their preseason research. I'm full speed ahead in preparing for my 2011 leagues, even with the limited free agency moves, the draft is still scheduled to go on and there's plenty of stats to examine from 2010.

Patrick Snow @AthlonSnowman
If there was no lockout, the NFL would have already experienced free agency at the beginning of March. Consequently, we would definitely have a better feel for several teams as far as their fantasy outlook for next season. For example, who will quarterback the Titans? Will Green Bay add a running back? Will the Colts fix their porous offensive line? The answers to these types of questions would make it much easier to begin ranking players, even with the draft still pending.

Instead, we are in a holding pattern just like the rest of the NFL. Rankings may change greatly when a deal is finally reached between management and labor. The draft will be fun with nothing else going on around the league, but the fantasy ramifications of the annual talent haul are usually fairly meager on the upcoming season. Hopefully, both the players and owners will realize how much money is at stake and come to their senses soon.

Nathan Rush
The lockout has yet to affect me as a fantasy player — other than making my longtime dreams of a UFL fantasy league more realistic and bringing a “replacement player” fantasy league into the mix. Who knows? Tiki Barber may play for the Giants and be a viable fantasy option again, after all.

This is NFL Draft season. I watch the Combine, Senior Bowl and any Pro Day highlights I can find. Although team, situation and opportunity are critical, I still think hard work and talent win out in the end. An Adrian Peterson or Chris Johnson will be good on just about any team. And every season, at least one or two rookies break out. This year, I love what I’ve seen out of Bama running back Mark Ingram and, for my IDP league that also counts return yards, I think LSU’s Patrick Peterson is be the type of corner-returner who will make an immediate impact.

The lockout almost inspired me to start an intense workout routine in hopes of making an NFL team as a replacement player. I think I could be an undersized nickelback with an aversion to tackling — think Deion if he had no speed and exclusively covered the slot. All I would need is one highlight reel INT against a replacement QB — c’mon Jeff George — to make all the training worth it. On second thought, I’m just going to kick back and wait on the owners and players to settle their $9 billion worth of differences.

Corby Yarbrough @AthlonCorby
The lockout does nothing to me as a fantasy player expect disrupt my peace of mind.

My "main" league is a keeper/dynasty league. We have a salary cap of 1,600 points imposed. We can keep as many players as we'd like each year as long as our entire set of keepers stays under 1,600 fantasy points scored the previous season. So the NFL Draft itself is extremely important for my league.

While rookies like Mark Ingram, A.J. Green and Julio Jones may start to come off the board in the eighth round or so in most drafts, they are top-five picks more than likely in my league. The NFL Draft for my league, and I think even if you are in a standard league, it is a must to pay attention to the incoming crop of rookies because there are bound to be a few that can contribute for your team in the upcoming season.

I will watch NFL Network's Path to the Draft as I always have, and listen to Sirius XM NFL Radio's round-the-clock coverage as I always have to get a better grasp on the talent that will be in April's draft.

One other thing I have found myself doing this season is building a list of links from all sorts of fantasy Web sites. I am accumulating as much data as I can now to turn into a nice spring reading/studying list while we wait out the lockout.

Braden Gall @Athlon Braden
I might have to add a fourth MLB league. Maybe a second NBA or NHL league instead this year.

Since we are so far out from the season — and because I believe that the season will be played as normal — the lockout has little affect on my current fantasy rankings. After the draft takes place, the final big pieces should be in place — Cam Newton, A.J. Green, Mark Ingram, etc. With the exception of a few dozen middle of the pack free agent options, my big board will remain unaffected by labor agreements. I am pretty sure I know where Aaron Rodgers and Adrian Peterson will be playing next fall (even if he doesn't realize that slaves weren't paid $10 million a year).
 

Teaser:
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Post date: Wednesday, March 16, 2011 - 11:29
All taxonomy terms: NBA
Path: /columns/nba-power-rankings/its-madhouse-top
Body:

It's tempting to move San Antonio out of the top spot for the first time since Week 12 after Monday's 30-point loss to Miami — the last team not named San Antonio to own the No. 1 ranking. It was the same margin the Spurs used to beat the Heat on March 4.

It was so tempting that it was done.

Chicago jumps San Antonio and takes over the Athlon Sports NBA Power Rankings' No. 1 position for the first time all season.

The Bulls are 9-1 in their last 10 games, and their last six contests have been wins against four current playoff teams, one team tied for eighth in the East and a blowout victory over a former playoff team in the Utah Jazz. The six wins have been by an average margin of 11.6 points and Chicago has surrendered an average of 84 points per game in those six victories.

San Antonio had won three in a row before the blowout loss to Miami, but those three wins came against non-playoff teams and the Spurs allowed an average of 106 points in the last four games.

So Chicago takes over the top spot in the same week they moved into a tie with Boston for the Eastern Conference's No. 1 seed at 47-18 on the season. San Antonio still maintains a 6.5-game edge over the Lakers and Dallas Mavericks in the Western Conference.

The Lakers, Dallas and Boston round out this week's top five. Oklahoma City, Miami, Orlando, Denver and Memphis round out the top 10. After 19 weeks of never having the same set of teams in the top 10 over consecutive weeks, the current crop of teams have now occupied those 10 spots in back-to-back weeks.

There are only four games between teams in the top 10 over the next week.

The marquee matchup comes with a battle of Texas' top two teams. San Antonio travels to No. 4 Dallas Friday night. And with 14 games to go after this clash, Dallas really needs to get a win to try and cut into that 6.5-game advantage.

No. 6 Oklahoma City travels to No. 7 Miami on Wednesday. No. 9 Denver makes its run through the Sunshine State with games at No. 8 Orlando on Friday and No. 7 Miami on Saturday.

Portland once again sits just outside the top 10 at No. 11. The Trail Blazers are 5-5 in their last 10 games and currently have the No. 7 seed — one game ahead of Memphis. This week Portland will be tested with a home game against No. 4 Dallas on Tuesday and a road game at No. 2 Los Angeles on Sunday.

Athlon Sports NBA Power Rankings Week 21
1. Chicago
2. San Antonio
3. L.A. Lakers
4. Dallas
5. Boston
6. Oklahoma City
7. Miami
8. Orlando
9. Denver
10. Memphis
11. Portland
12. New Orleans
13. Philadelphia
14. Atlanta
15. New York
16. Houston
17. Phoenix
18. Golden State
19. Utah
20. L.A. Clippers
21. Charlotte
22. Milwaukee
23. Indiana
24. New Jersey
25. Detroit
26. Minnesota
27. Toronto
28. Sacramento
29. Washington
30. Cleveland

— Corby A. Yarbrough @AthlonCorby on Twitter

Teaser:
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Post date: Tuesday, March 15, 2011 - 12:58
All taxonomy terms: NBA
Path: /columns/nba-fantasy-dime/playoff-time
Body:

This week should be the start of the fantasy basketball playoffs for many of you. Some of you may have round one byes, some of you may be playing first-round games this week or some of you may be entering the stretch where it's just the top two seeds and the playoffs are a one-round, three-week affair.

So you have three weeks to go to secure your league's championship. Each of us may get there in a different way. Assuming most of the talent, even the fringe talent, has been picked up off waivers in your league, you need to find another edge.

Each week there are always those teams that play one or two extra games than another.

This week there are 18 teams that play a league-high four games.

Those teams playing four games include: Atlanta, Boston, Dallas, Denver, Golden State, Houston, Indiana, the Clippers, Miami, Milwaukee, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma City, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Portland, Sacramento and Washington.

Next week there are 15 teams playing four games.

Those playing 12 games include: Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Golden State, Indiana, Memphis, New Jersey, New York, Phoenix, Sacramento, San Antonio, Toronto, Utah and Washington.

If you are in a three-week, one-round format, there are six teams playing a league-high 12 games over that time.

Those playing 12 games include: Boston, Indiana, New Jersey, Phoenix, Sacramento and Washington.

So if you are in search of the remaining talent on the waiver wire, give the aforementioned teams the first look to try and at least get that one extra-game advantage.

Top waiver-wire pickups for the six teams playing 12 games over the next three weeks include:
Boston — Glen Davis, PF/C
Indiana — Tyler Hansbrough, PF; Paul George G/F
New Jersey — none
Phoenix —Hakim Warrick, SF/PF
Sacramento — Jason Thompson, PF; Francisco Garcia, SG/SF
Washington — Josh Howard, SG/SF

These players are available in at least 50 percent of Yahoo and ESPN leagues.

— Corby A. Yarbrough @AthlonCorby on Twitter
 

Teaser:
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Post date: Monday, March 14, 2011 - 13:15
All taxonomy terms: NFL, Fantasy
Path: /columns/stock-market-report/rise-and-fall-fantasy
Body:

We can never get enough fantasy football here at Athlon, and each week we will be discussing topics relating to the world of fantasy football. Two mock drafts have already been conducted.

This week we look at the biggest risers and fallers heading into the 2011 season. For the risers, we looked for a player that was perhaps a mid-to-late round pick or a waiver wire pick up last year that will be shooting up draft boards this season. We purposley left out Arian Foster, Michael Vick, Brandon Lloyd and Peyton Hillis — they were the obvious group of players that came out of left field to surprise us last season.

For the fallers, we looked at players who were top-24 type players a year ago and have certainly seen that high of a ranking fall by the wayside heading into 2011.

Have a question you would like answered? Then shoot us a question at any of our Twitter links.

Braden Gall @AthlonBraden on Twitter

RISER — Cincinnati and Green Bay, WRs
I am going to go a bit off the board with these names: the Green Bay Packers and Cincinnati Bengals receiving corps.

Jordy Nelson is the future for a Packers team who may not retain James Jones due to inconsistency, and has an aging Donald Driver. Nelson proved in the Super Bowl that he can be the next great receiver for the Packers. The same issue is taking place in Cincy. I reserve the right to change my mind if Carson Palmer is not retained as the quarterback. But look for Jerome Simpson, Jordan Shipley and tight end Jermaine Gresham to be solid fantasy contributors once Twiddle Dee and Twiddle Dumb move along.

HONORABLE MENTION
There are a lot of players who had solid first seasons on the field that I will have high on my board next fall. Sam Bradford, Arian Foster (duh!), Brandon Pettigrew and Dez Bryant are guys that should have long, productive careers in the NFL.

FALLER — Randy Moss, WR, Tennessee (ADP of 9 last year, ranked 101 on Athlon Sports big board this year)
I knew that this player was going to be a terrible fantasy play in 2010, but I had no idea it would be this bad. I would like to formally denounce Randy Moss from all fantasy squads — never to return from target purgatory again. His last 100-yard game came in Week 10 of the 2009 season — which was also the last game that he caught more than five passes in a game. He was a dynamic threat (when motivated) for many years, but he is officially finished in my book. Names like Donald Driver, Chad Ochocinco, old Steve Smith, Terrell Owens and, to a lesser extent, Reggie Wayne are all in the same boat — or at least, ticketed for the next scheduled departure.

Steven Lassan @AthlonSteven on Twitter

RISER — Mike Wallace, WR, Pittsburgh (ADP of 73 last year, ranked 26 on Athlon Sports big board this year)
The torch in the Steel City was officially passed from Hines Ward to Mike Wallace last season. Ward will be 35 when the 2011 season kicks off and his receptions dropped from 95 in 2009 to 59 last season. Although Ward can still play at a high level, he’s no longer the go-to option. Wallace picked up the slack from the departure of Santonio Holmes, catching 60 passes for 1,257 yards and 10 scores. Wallace was expected to see a jump in production with the departure of Holmes, but was regarded as a Round 6-8 pick last year. The scary thought for opposing cornerbacks? Wallace will be entering only his third season in 2011.

Fantasy owners can expect Wallace to see a bump in catches next year, especially with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger under center for the full season. While Roethlisberger missed the first four games, Wallace was held to nine receptions. After Roethlisberger returned, Wallace posted six 100-yard games and averaged four catches per game. The emergence of Emmanuel Sanders and Antonio Brown will keep defenses from keying on Wallace, making the third-year player one of the top-10 receivers to have in 2011.

FALLER — Ryan Mathews, RB, San Diego (ADP of 14 last year, ranked 51 on Athlon Sports big board this year)
With the departure of LaDainian Tomlinson and Darren Sproles unlikely to be the every down back, everything appeared to be aligned for rookie Ryan Mathews to emerge as a 1,000-yard rusher in San Diego last year. Injuries limited Mathews to 12 games, but he managed 678 yards and seven touchdowns – a far cry from those expecting him to be a top 10-15 running back last season. Mathews’ ankle injury opened the door for Mike Tolbert to earn his way onto the field, finishing as San Diego’s leading rusher and punching 11 carries into the endzone.

One of the big concerns about Mathews coming out of Fresno State was his ability to stay healthy and those question marks emerged once again after his injury last year. If he can stay healthy, Mathews should threaten 1,000 yards in 2011. However, Tolbert earned his way onto the field last year and won’t be see much of a reduction in carries. Mathews still has significant upside and will eventually become a 200-220 carry back. Expect Mathews to see an increase in carries next season, but don’t expect him to go in the first three rounds of fantasy drafts for 2011.

Nathan Rush

RISER — Philip Rivers, QB, San Diego (ADP of 42 last year, ranked 20 on Athlon Sports big board this year)
Chargers one-man show Philip Rivers may be rising, but he’s still a solid value. Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and sometimes Drew Brees are almost always drafted ahead of Rivers — who has not missed a start (80-for-80) since taking over for Brees in San Diego in 2006. Over the past three years, Rivers’ average season is 4,324 yards, 31 TDs and 11 INTs. And in a division with one of the league’s worst pass defenses (Broncos) and two teams that are likely to fall back to reality in 2011 (Chiefs and Raiders), Rivers’ best statistical season could come this year.

FALLER — Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Arizona (ADP of 20 last year, ranked 28 on Athlon Sports big board this year)
Now Larry Fitzgerald knows what the Iowa Barnstormers receivers felt like in the late 1990s, when Kurt Warner graduated from the Arena League. After catching a combined 35 TDs over three seasons with the buzz-cut bandito under center in Phoenix, Fitz made only six trips to the end zone last season. On the bright side, he did post 90 catches for 1,137 yards. Even without consistent quarterback play, the 6’3”, 218-pounder was able to produce solid fantasy numbers. I say put your money on Fitzgerald and hope the QB situation in Arizona changes — or that No. 11 gets traded to the Colts or Patriots.

Patrick Snow @AthlonSnowman on Twitter 

RISER — Darren McFadden, RB, Oakland (ADP of 111 last year, ranked 17 on Athlon Sports big board this year) 
We all know the Oakland running back Darren McFadden, the former fourth overall draft pick, has elite talent. But after two seasons of average results and lingering injuries, McFadden put together a solid year with 1,157 rushing yards and seven touchdowns. He also had 47 catches for over 500 yards and three more scores. “Run DMC” was drafted in most leagues between the fifth and seventh rounds, so he provided great value in 2010.

Can McFadden do it again? Obviously if you could guarantee he would play 15-16 games, the answer would be more positive. However, I’m skeptical of some of the projections that have him going in next season’s first round. Even though the 5.2 yards per carry were very impressive last year, McFadden still only played 13 games. He also scored five of his seven rushing touchdowns in only two games. While the talent is immense, so is the gamble of taking McFadden in the first round.

FALLER — Brandon Marshall, WR, Miami (ADP of 39 last year, ranked 19 on Athlon Sports big board this year)
Most pundits would say an 86-catch, 1,014-yard season is not much of a fall, but the uber-talented Brandon Marshall only scored three touchdowns after taking his talents to South Beach.

He’s still good in point-per-reception leagues, but you have to wonder about the players around Marshall and which direction his statistics are going. In 2010, Miami receiver Davone Bess had five TD catches and tight end Anthony Fasano had four. Marshall finished last season strong, but there are some definite reservations with the Dolphins’ offense. Can Chad Henne get Marshall the ball enough to return him to a WR1? Where is the Miami running going with Ronnie Brown? Can the Dolphins put up big fantasy numbers in the rugged AFC East? With all of these concerns, I think Marshall has dropped to a solid WR2 instead of his previous elite receiver status.

Corby Yarbrough @AthlonCorby on Twitter

RISERLeGarrette Blount, RB, Tampa Bay (No ADP last year, ranked 30 on Athlon Sports big board this year)
Living in Nashville and being part of a longtime dynasty league, I found myself keeping an eye on LeGarrette Blount from the minute he signed a free agent contract wit the Tennessee Titans. It didn't work out for the former Oregon Duck here in Nashville and he landed in Tampa — where I already had my eye on an up and comer in Kareem Huggins, who had a solid preseason campaign. But as time wore on over the 2010 season, Cadillac Williams underperformed as expected, Huggins ended up getting injured and Blount found himself leading the team in carries — 201 for 1,007 yards and six scores in 13 games.

There are still question marks as to whether Blount can be the man in Tampa, but outside of a free agent signing who is there to contest his spot? Williams cannot be the man. Huggins tore knee ligaments in October and Earnest Graham had just 20 carries last season.

We currently have Blount ranked as the No. 14 RB and the No. 30 overall of our early top 275. And after being our No. 76 RB last season, it's hard to find a bigger riser.

FALLER — Shonn Greene, RB, New York Jets (ADP of 24 last year, ranked 52 on Athlon Sports big board this year)
Shonn Greene came off a fantastic playoff run in 2009, carrying the ball 54 times for 304 yards and six scores as he helped lead the Wild Card Jets to the AFC Championship Game. Those numbers helped make him a top-20 pick in 2010 drafts — PPR or not — and he failed to live up to those expectations.

A 185-carry, 766-yard, two-TD performance over 15 games played in 2010 and a rejuvenated LaDanian Tomlinson in New York certainly hindered the second-year player's sophomore campaign. The Jets played in three more playoff games during the 2010 season and Greene toted the rock 45 times for 198 yards and one TD. L.T. is slated to be back in 2011 and Greene seemingly showed nothing to the Jets coaches that he should be the guy. We have him ranked as the No. 52 overall player and No. 21 overall running back a year after he was ranked as the 14th overall player and ninth overall RB.

As a longtime dynasty player, these numbers scare me for another player as well. James Starks had a spectacular postseason run to help Green Bay win the Super Bowl. It makes me wonder will he become Shonn Greene part deux in 2011 with Ryan Grant healthy again.

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Post date: Wednesday, March 9, 2011 - 11:19
All taxonomy terms: NBA
Path: /columns/nba-power-rankings/top-spot-challenged
Body:

The Spurs hold on to their No. 1 ranking for the eighth week in a row, but this is as close as they have come to losing that top ranking since they were the No. 2 team in Week 12.

As a matter of fact, the top five is about as close as it's been all season.

San Antonio fell to the Lakers 99-83 on Sunday — two days after blowing out Miami by 30. For the Lakers, it was their seventh straight victory to end a week that propelled them from sixth to second in the Week 20 poll.

But the nod goes to San Antonio to stay on top as it is 2-1 against the Lakers this year and has a 6.5-game edge over them in the Western Conference race.

The Spurs get a three-game stretch against current non-playoff teams in Detroit, Sacramento and Houston before closing out against a team that seems like its trying to get out of the playoffs in the Miami Heat — losers of its last four and five of last six.

The Lakers, on the other hand, have won seven games since the All-Star break after having lost three in a row coming into the break. Four of the seven wins came against current playoff teams, and Los Angeles will take on four straight playoff-bound teams over the next week. This current four-game road trip that began with San Antonio continues with Atlanta, Miami and Dallas and the Lakers return home to take on Orlando on March 14. That game begins a seven-game homestand against four current playoff teams.

Dallas fell one spot to No 3, Boston remained at No. 4 and Chicago fell from 3 to 5.

The Mavericks saw an eight-game winning streak come to an end thanks to Memphis, but picked back up with a road win at Minnesota. Dallas gets New Orleans, New York, the Lakers and Portland over the next week.

Boston is riding a five-game winning streak — all against non-playoff teams — and gets three of its next four games against non-playoff teams — save for Philadelphia.

Chicago blew an early 19-point lead in Atlanta en route to a loss, but finished its five-game road trip 4-1 with wins over Orlando and Miami (having already defeated Milwaukee and Washington to begin the trip) and then returned home to defeat New Orleans Monday night. Charlotte, Atlanta and Utah are on deck over the next week for the Bulls.

Orlando, Oklahoma City, Miami, Memphis and Denver round out the top 10 — a top 10 that had the exact same teams last week just in a different configuration. This is the first time all season the same 10 teams have made up the top 10 two weeks in a row.

Athlon Sports NBA Power Rankings Week 20
1. San Antonio
2. L.A. Lakers
3. Dallas
4. Boston
5. Chicago
6. Orlando
7. Oklahoma City
8. Miami
9. Memphis
10. Denver
11. Portland
12. Philadelphia
13. Atlanta
14. New Orleans
15. Phoenix
16. New York
17. Houston
18. Utah
19. Indiana
20. Golden State
21. Charlotte
22. L.A. Clippers
23. Milwaukee
24. New Jersey
25. Detroit
26. Toronto
27. Sacramento
28. Minnesota
29. Washington
30. Cleveland

— Corby A. Yarbrough @AthlonCorby on Twitter

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Post date: Tuesday, March 8, 2011 - 19:25
All taxonomy terms: NFL, Fantasy
Path: /columns/winning-game-plan/two-qbs-four-questions
Body:

The editors at Athlon Sports just completed the second mock fantasy football draft of 2011. Yes, we know it's March and fantasy football is months away, but is there ever a need to stop thinking about fantasy football?

In last month's draft we went with Athlon's default lineup, default scoring and a 12-team league. This month's draft was setup as a 10-team league with two quarterbacks in the starting lineup and four points for a passing touchdown instead of our default of six.

With this being a two-quarterback league — not necessarily the fantasy standard — we answer some of the strategies that you can implore if you find yourself in one of these leagues.

There may be plenty of other strategy questions you have about a two-quarterback league, so don't hesitate to hit us up on our Twitter accounts for the answers you're looking for.

Is there any pressure in your mind when it comes to picking No. 1 overall in a two-quarterback league or is it clear-cut that Aaron Rodgers goes No. 1 in this format?

Steven Lassan @AthlonSteven on Twitter
Absolutely, there is a lot of pressure. In a two-quarterback league, I think the clear No. 1 pick is Aaron Rodgers. However, some may choose to go traditional and take a running back. If the person drafting at No. 1 chooses to go with a running back, the run on quarterbacks may get pushed further down the first round. If the person drafting at No. 1 goes with a quarterback, you can bet the rest of the league is going to follow suit. Although you can still win a league by passing on a quarterback with the first overall pick, I’d feel good about my team if I took Rodgers at No. 1, then came back and took Darren McFadden with my second pick. With the running back class pretty deep at the top, going with Rodgers No. 1 in a two-quarterback league is the way to go.

Patrick Snow @AthlonSnowman on Twitter
You have to expect other players will draft the elite quarterbacks quickly in a 2-QB format. If you don’t get the best one at No. 1, then you must be comfortable with both of your signal callers coming from the 7-15 area of the QB rankings. I would prefer to take the elite quarterback with the first draft choice so I know that one (if not both) of my guys at that position will be a stud. If you’re good with some of the mid-tier QBs, then go ahead and get the top running back.

Braden Gall @AthlonBraden on Twitter
It does not matter how many wide receivers or quarterbacks are in your starting roster, a fantasy championship, like the real ones, are still won with a great running game. I would debate Adrian Peterson, the single most talented running back on the planet, against Rodgers. If you think landing Matt Ryan and Big Ben on the turn in rounds two and three works for you, then go with A.D. (For the record, I am from Wisconsin, and in our two-QB league, I took A-Rodg with the first overall pick.)

Nathan Rush
I don't know if A-Rodg has to go No. 1 overall; I would have debated taking Tom Brady with the top pick. But I do think the elite QBs should dominate the first two rounds of a league with two QBs in the starting lineup.

Corby Yarbrough @AthlonCorby on Twitter
There are a few things in play in my mind. First, with it being four points for a touchdown pass might give me pause. Second, a stud running back is hard to find. But third is the fact that there is no clear-cut top running back in my mind. With a two-quarterback league and picking first you pretty much HAVE to take a QB. Just projecting that every team will at least select one QB with one of their first two picks would leave you with an Eli Manning or Joe Flacco type when it gets back to you at 20th. So I did not even blink when it came to making Rodgers the No. 1 pick overall.

If you are picking in the second half of the first round do you go QB-QB to start the draft no matter what?

Steven Lassan @AthlonSteven on Twitter
If you miss out on one of the elite fantasy signal-callers – Rodgers, Brees, Brady, Manning – then I’d consider going with a running back or receiver with my first pick. Michael Vick and Philip Rivers are solid fantasy options, but getting Adrian Peterson, Arian Foster or Andre Johnson is still an excellent foundation to build around. I don’t think going QB-QB is a necessity in the second half of the first round, but I’d be sure to grab at least one in my first three picks.

Patrick Snow @AthlonSnowman on Twitter
No. I don’t believe you need to be locked into a QB-QB mindset at any time. That’s especially true at the back end of the first round. The value at that point will tend to be with getting a top running back or receiver along with an elite quarterback as your first two selections.

Braden Gall @AthlonBraden on Twitter
I adamantly disagree with the QB-QB strategy. Matt Cassel, Matt Ryan, Josh Freeman and Michael Vick all finished 2010 as top ten fantasy signal callers. Do you think those names were selected in the first six rounds — much less with someone's first two picks? You can find plenty of value.

Nathan Rush
In the back half of the first round, I would go after the Chris Johnsons and Adrian Petersons of the world. Go ahead and lock up one of the top two or three RBs, then in the second round take a QB. You’ll probably be picking between the same QBs early in the second round, as you would have late in the first. Elite, workhorse runners are nearly extinct; there are plenty of mid-level passers to choose from once the Rodgers, Brady, Manning, Rivers, Brees crew is off the board.

Corby Yarbrough @AthlonCorby on Twitter
I don’t think that would be a solid strategy. You have to figure the cream of the crop QBs will be gone by then, but that also means you could clean up on running back or get a top-tier RB and a top-three receiver then go with your first QB in the third round. I don’t think you could afford to wait past the third round to at least get secure your first QB, however.

What is your strategy when it comes to picking a third quarterback? Do you do it or do you take the other talent that is out there and take your chances on spot starting twice during the season?

Steven Lassan @AthlonSteven on Twitter
I think getting a third quarterback is a must in this league setup. Even if you are set with Aaron Rodgers and Tony Romo as your starting quarterbacks, an injury to either could knock your team out of the playoffs if you don’t have a capable backup. I’m sure there will be a few options on the waiver wire, but I’d rather backup my two starters with a legitimate every-week fantasy option. I’d feel a lot better about my team if I had Rodgers and Romo with a backup like Jay Cutler, as opposed to a Chad Henne or Ryan Fitzpatrick.

Patrick Snow @AthlonSnowman on Twitter
If you feel like both of your quarterbacks will be consistent producers throughout the season, then do not worry about a third QB until near the end of the draft. However if there are concerns with injury and/or consistency with your second signal caller, then you will want to draft a third one fairly soon after that second QB.

Braden Gall @AthlonBraden on Twitter
My third QB strategy all depends on how my first two were selected. If I went early (-ier) on my first and second quarterbacks, then I would hold off on a late round flier. If I have Peyton Manning and Big Ben, I have no need for a quality back-up. If my two starters are Matt Schaub and Josh Freeman, you can bet I am going early on a third with either plenty of upside or plenty of dependability.

Nathan Rush
It all depends on the strength of the first two QBs. Anything can happen, but history says Peyton Manning will play 16 games, while Matthew Stafford is likely to miss a chunk of the season. Most fantasy-quality quarterbacks fall somewhere between the two former No. 1 overall NFL Draft picks. If one of my two starters is a "sure thing" like Manning or Brady, I'd be less concerned with drafting a third QB. But if I have two second-tier guys or young guns, I think it's wise to take a third QB sooner rather than later.

Corby Yarbrough @AthlonCorby on Twitter
I would say a lot of it depends on where you draft. Take me for example picking No. 1, I went with Rodgers at No. 1 overall and then held out until the fourth round to grab Josh Freeman, who should have a stellar 2011. With two 300-plus point scoring QBs already on my roster, I am probably going to wait and wait and wait, grab other talent and see who might be leftover. Bye weeks will certainly affect this strategy once you know the schedule, but I would be inclined to stockpile other talent and either make a trade or take my chances with two spot starts. Keep in mind, in a 10-team league, even if everyone drafts three QBs there are still two starters out there. There is also this to think about: You could pick a third QB just to hoard and use as trade bait later — namely after he has already helped you during one of your bye weeks.

If you were to play in a league like this where it’s already setup that QB is the position to have, would you set it up as a 4-point per passing TD league or a 6-point per passing TD league?

Steven Lassan @AthlonSteven on Twitter
I understand the concept that touchdowns are worth six points on the field and how some want that reflected in fantasy. However, with two quarterbacks in the starting lineup, it’s already leaned heavily to the players under center. Having a four-point per passing touchdown league doesn’t completely eliminate the edge quarterbacks have, but at least balances the scoring out a bit. You still need good running backs and receivers to win the league, but quarterbacks will likely post the most touchdowns every year and four points a passing score helps to level the scoring.

Patrick Snow @AthlonSnowman on Twitter
I always prefer six points per touchdown in any league. The logic for the four-point argument is flawed. I’ve never been concerned with quarterbacks “being overvalued”; I think they are pretty important when it comes to actual football.

Braden Gall @AthlonBraden on Twitter
A touchdown is a touchdown is a touchdown. Everyone who has ever scored a touchdown in real life has received six points. That being said, the only time I would even think about tweaking the scoring would be a two-quarterback set-up. It really comes down to fantasy philosophy. Do you want things to be nice and even and tidy? Or do you want your league to represent reality? The pass is almost always more difficult than the catch — there is a reason quarterbacks are selected No. 1 overall and paid the most money. I usually go with six points — everyone has to deal with the same circumstances no matter the scoring system.

Nathan Rush
All touchdowns are created equal in my fantasy world. Six points per passing TD, without a doubt.

Corby Yarbrough @AthlonCorby on Twitter
All TDs are six points in the real world as well as my pretend world of fantasy football.

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Post date: Wednesday, March 2, 2011 - 11:45
All taxonomy terms: NBA
Path: /columns/nba-power-rankings/grind-top
Body:

It's Groundhog Day at the top as the San Antonio Spurs are No. 1 in the Week 20 Athlon Sports NBA Power Rankings for the seventh straight week.

A six-game lead over second place in the Western Conference with 23 games to has the Spurs feeling pretty safe about their standing come playoff time. However, if there is any team that may catch them it is a Dallas Mavericks squad that has ascended back up the rankings after injuries plagued them in the middle of the season. Dallas has won nine of its last 10 and jumps to No. 2 in this week's poll.

Boston, the perennial No. 2 in the rankings most of the season, has fallen to fourth for just the second time all season. Ironically, the last time the Celtics weren't ranked No. 2 was the last time San Antonio wasn't ranked No. 1 — Week 12. Miami held the top spot that week — the only week it has done so — and now rounds out the top five this week.

Chicago jumps from No. 5 to 3 and has a heck of a week to try and either maintain that spot or move up to No. 2.

The Bulls play four top 13 teams over the next four games with three of those being on the road. It starts with a trip to No. 12 Atlanta Wednesday, followed by games at No. 7 Orlando on Friday and No. 5 Miami on Sunday before returning home to play host to No. 13 New Orleans.

The Spurs also have a tough week with three games against top 10 teams — at No. 9 Memphis Tuesday, hosting No. 5 Miami Friday and No. 6 L.A. Lakers Sunday.

There are seven games between top 10 teams:
Tuesday — No. 1 San Antonio at No. 9 Memphis
Thursday — No. 7 Orlando at No. 5 Miami
Friday — No. 3 Chicago at No. 7 Orlando
Friday — No. 5 Miami at No. 1 San Antonio
Sunday — No. 3 Chicago at No. 5 Miami
Sunday — No. 6 L.A. Lakers at No. 1 San Antonio
Sunday — No. 9 Memphis at No. 2 Dallas
Monday — No. 8 Oklahoma City at No. 9 Memphis

There are four games between top 10 teams and those just outside the top 10:
Wednesday — No. 3 Chicago at No. 12 Atlanta
Friday — No. 8 Oklahoma City at No. 12 Atlanta
Friday — No. 13 New Orleans at No. 9 Memphis
Monday — No. 11 Portland at No. 7 Orlando

Athlon Sports NBA Power Rankings Week 20
1. San Antonio
2. Dallas
3. Chicago
4. Boston
5. Miami
6. L.A. Lakers
7. Orlando
8. Oklahoma City
9. Memphis
10. Denver
11. Portland
12. Atlanta
13. New Orleans
14. Philadelphia
15. Phoenix
16. New York
17. Houston
18. Utah
19. Indiana
20. Golden State
21. Charlotte
22. Milwaukee
23. L.A. Clippers
24. Detroit
25. New Jersey
26. Sacramento
27. Toronto
28. Minnesota
29. Washington
30. Cleveland

— Corby A. Yarbrough @AthlonCorby on Twitter

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Post date: Tuesday, March 1, 2011 - 16:46
All taxonomy terms: NBA
Path: /columns/nba-fantasy-dime/pass-you-shoot-0
Body:

There are many ways to play fantasy basketball — rotisserie, head to head, lineups that can be changed any time and lineups that lock just prior to Monday night’s tip. With that in mind, Athlon Sports gives you the Fantasy Dime — 10 things to assist you before you have to lock in that lineup for the week.

There are two weeks to go in most head-to-head fantasy basketball seasons. When it comes down to crunch time I certainly have no problem taking the shot, but I also have no problem looking around the court to see who might be able to increase my odds of winning.

While you might stick with one source during the bulk of the regular season, as it gets closer to playoff time you may need some other influences to back up what you've already done to get to this point. For example, I currently hold a three-game lead in my league going into the final two weeks of the season but want to make sure I've got every possible angle covered to close it out.

So let me help you do the same.

If you really want to crunch the numbers, check out Basketball Monster.

Here's Sports Illustrated's take.

Here's ESPN's top 130 for the week.

Here's ESPN's category helpers story.

Here are Yahoo Sports' Dashboard Part I and II.

Here's CBS' start 'em, sit 'em.

Here's one of my favorite blogs, Razzball.

Here's Rotoworld's waiver wire jumbo sized.

And even fake teams need real takes from Faketeams.com

Next week, after the trades have settled in and more buyouts and signings are conducted, we will have a much better vision of how the final week of the regular season and the playoffs will unfold. Until then, good luck with your final push toward the postseason.

— Corby A. Yarbrough @AthlonCorby on Twitter

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Post date: Monday, February 28, 2011 - 17:57
All taxonomy terms: Golf
Path: /columns/national-notebook/no-1-lee-westwood
Body:

2011 Golfer Countdown

BORN: April 24, 1973, Worksop, United Kingdom

FEDEX FINISH: n/a 

2010 PGA TOUR EARNINGS: $3,399,954

WORLD GOLF RANKING: 1 (as of Feb. 23, 2011)

GOLF CHANNEL’S BRANDEL CHAMBLEE GIVES HIS TAKE: Lee Westwood is the 13th player to ascend to the No. 1 ranking in the world, and only the third person to take that seat away from Tiger Woods in the last 12 years. Long known as an extraordinary ballstriker, Westwood has improved his scrambling skills and his putting, and this combination has made him the most complete player on the planet. If he plays a major championship with fewer than 120 putts, something he failed to do in 2010, chances are he will win it and end 2011 just as he started it — as the No. 1 player in the world.

THE CASE FOR NO. 1: The computer doesn’t lie. Westwood has parlayed five top-three finishes in his last 10 major championship appearances — including solo seconds at the 2010 Masters and British Open — into the top spot in the World Golf Ranking, ending Tiger Woods’ lengthy reign. He capped his season by providing 2.5 points to the winning European Ryder Cup team. The 2009 money leader on the European Tour, Westwood’s at the vanguard of the Euro invasion and a threat to win multiple majors this year.

CAREER PGA TOUR STATS

  • Events — 136
  • Cuts — 107
  • 1st — 2
  • 2nd — 4
  • 3rd — 3
  • T10 — 24
  • T25 — 54
     
Teaser:
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Post date: Wednesday, February 23, 2011 - 10:21
All taxonomy terms: NBA
Path: /columns/nba-power-rankings/changes-after-break
Body:

A short week for the All-Star break meant there was little effect on the Athlon Sports NBA Power Rankings for Week 18.

San Antonio and Boston maintain the Nos. 1 and 2 spots for what seems like all 18 weeks of the season as the leaders of their respective conferences. Miami and Dallas remained at Nos. 3 and 4.

Chicago and Orlando jumped up a spot to 5 and 6, pushing the reeling Lakers to No. 7. Los Angeles entered the break having lost three in a row.

Oklahoma City and Memphis stayed at Nos. 8 and 10 while Portland jumped three spots and into the top 10 at No. 9. The Trail Blazers are all about streaks coming out of the break. They won six in a row to get to the mini-vacation, lost four of five before that and won five in a row before that. Guard Brandon Roy (knees) is reportedly scheduled to come back to the lineup soon.

Oklahoma City runs the top-10 gauntlet this week. The Thunder travel to San Antonio Wednesday, Orlando on Friday and play host to the Lakers on Sunday.

The Lakers play host to Portland Wednesday night; on Sunday, the Trail Blazers take on an Atlanta team they knocked out of the top 10 this week and into 11th.

The only All-Eastern Conference top-10 tilt comes Thursday night when Chicago plays host to Miami.

Athlon Sports NBA Power Rankings Week 18
1. San Antonio
2. Boston
3. Dallas
4. Miami
5. Chicago
6. Orlando
7. Lakers
8. Oklahoma City
9. Portland
10. Memphis
11. Atlanta
12. New Orleans
13. Denver
14. Philadelphia
15. Utah
16. Phoenix
17. New York
18. Golden State
19. Indiana
20. Houston
21. Charlotte
22. Milwaukee
23. Detroit
24. Clippers
25. New Jersey
26. Washington
27. Sacramento
28. Toronto
29. Minnesota
30. Cleveland

— Corby A. Yarbrough @AthlonCorby on Twitter
 

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Post date: Tuesday, February 22, 2011 - 18:47
All taxonomy terms: Golf
Path: /columns/national-notebook/no-2-martin-kaymer
Body:

2011 Golfer Countdown

BORN: Dec. 28, 1984, Dusseldorf, West Germany

FEDEX FINISH: n/a

2010 PGA TOUR EARNINGS: $1,762,793

WORLD GOLF RANKING: 2 (as of Feb. 22, 2011)

GOLF CHANNEL’S BRANDEL CHAMBLEE GIVES HIS TAKE: Martin Kaymer is the player golf was looking for only a year ago — someone in their 20s to step up and win a major and make a run at the No. 1 ranking in the world. Long and straight, with no weaknesses and solid mental strength and poise, Kaymer went from being Europe’s Rookie of the Year to its leading money winner in four seasons. Even as we watch Tiger Woods and Lee Westwood, Martin could emerge as the best player on the planet by the end of 2011.

THE CASE FOR NO. 1: With his win at the HSBC in Abu Dhabi in January, Kaymer surged past Tiger Woods into second place in the World Golf Ranking. The reigning PGA champion, Kaymer won three times in Europe in 2010 to earn his tour’s Race to Dubai money title. In the last year, he’s been the hottest golfer on the planet, with five worldwide wins and top-10 finishes at the U.S. Open and British Open to go with his PGA win. Kaymer matched Westwood’s 2.5 points for Europe at the Ryder Cup.

CAREER PGA TOUR STATS (through Feb. 22, 2011)

  • Events — 29
  • Cuts — 21
  • 1st — 1
  • 2nd — 0
  • 3rd — 1
  • T10 — 5
  • T25 — 9
     
Teaser:
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Post date: Tuesday, February 22, 2011 - 11:12
All taxonomy terms: NFL, Fantasy
Path: /columns/winning-game-plan/february-nfl-fantasy-mock-draft
Body:

Welcome to the first Athlon Sports NFL Fantasy Mock Draft for 2011. There will be no fantasy offseason at Athlon Sports.

We will be releasing the first 10 rounds over 10 days with analysis from five Athlon editors of each round, concluding with the picks and analysis of rounds 11-15 on Feb. 18.

Tues., Feb. 8: Round 1
Wed., Feb. 9: Round 2
Thurs., Feb. 10: Round 3
Fri., Feb. 11: Round 4
Sat., Feb. 12: Round 5
Sun., Feb. 13: Round 6
Mon., Feb. 14: Round 7
Tues., Feb. 15: Round 8
Wed., Feb. 16: Round 9
Thurs., Feb. 17: Round 10
Fri., Feb. 18: Rounds 11-15

ROUND 1

1. Adrian Peterson, RB, MIN (Athlon Consensus 1)
2. Ray Rice, RB, BAL (Braden Gall, Athlon Sports)
3. Arian Foster, RB, HOU (Charlie Miller, Athlon Sports)
4. Aaron Rodgers, QB, GB (Corby Yarbrough, Athlon Sports)
5. Chris Johnson, RB, TEN (Tim Clark, Athlon Sports)
6. Jamaal Charles, RB, KC (Patrick Snow, Athlon Sports)
7. Frank Gore, RB, SF (Mitch Light, Athlon Sports)
8. Tom Brady, QB, NE (Nathan Rush, Athlon Sports)
9. Andre Johnson, WR, HOU (Rob Doster, Athlon Sports)
10. Rashard Mendenhall, RB, PIT (Steven Lassan, Athlon Sports)
11. Maurice Jones-Drew, RB, JAC (Matt Taliaferro, Athlon Sports)
12. Drew Brees, QB, NO (Athlon Consensus 2)

ROUND 2
13. Roddy White, WR, ATL (Athlon Consensus 2)
14. Steven Jackson, RB, STL (Matt Taliaferro, Athlon Sports)
15. LeSean McCoy, RB, PHI (Steven Lassan, Athlon Sports)
16. Calvin Johnson, WR, DET (Rob Doster, Athlon Sports)
17. Ryan Mathews, RB, SD (Nathan Rush, Athlon Sports)
18. Peyton Manning, QB, IND (Mitch Light, Athlon Sports)
19. Michel Turner, RB, ATL (Patrick Snow, Athlon Sports)
20. Greg Jennings, WR, GB (Tim Clark, Athlon Sports)
21. Darren McFadden, RB, OAK (Corby Yarbrough, Athlon Sports)
22. Philip Rivers, QB, SD (Charlie Miller, Athlon Sports)
23. Ahmad Bradshaw, RB, NYG (Braden Gall, Athlon Sports)
24. Matt Forte, RB, CHI (Athlon Consensus 1)

ROUND 3
25. Jonathan Stewart, RB, CAR (Athlon Consensus 1)
26. Larry Fitzgerald, WR, ARI (Braden Gall, Athlon Sports)
27. Reggie Wayne, WR, IND (Charlie Miller, Athlon Sports)
28. Hakeem Nicks, WR, NYG (Corby Yarbrough, Athlon Sports)
29. Michael Vick, QB, PHI (Tim Clark, Athlon Sports)
30. Matt Ryan, QB, ATL (Patrick Snow, Athlon Sports)
31. Mike Wallace, WR, PIT (Mitch Light, Athlon Sports)
32. Dez Bryant, WR, DAL (Nathan Rush, Athlon Sports)
33. Knowshon Moreno, RB, DEN (Rob Doster, Athlon Sports)
34. DeSean Jackson, WR, PHI (Steven Lassan, Athlon Sports)
35. Ben Roethlisberger, QB, PIT (Matt Taliaferro, Athlon Sports)
36. Dwayne Bowe, WR, KC (Athlon Consensus 2)

ROUND 4
37. LeGarrette Blount, RB, TB (Athlon Consensus 2)
38. Miles Austin, WR, DAL (Matt Taliaferro, Athlon Sports)
39. Tony Romo, QB, DAL (Steven Lassan, Athlon Sports)
40. Peyton Hillis, RB, CLE (Rob Doster, Athlon Sports)
41. Anquan Boldin, WR, BAL (Nathan Rush, Athlon Sports)
42. Shonn Greene, RB, NYJ (Mitch Light, Athlon Sports)
43. Marques Colston, WR, NO (Patrick Snow, Athlon Sports)
44. Antonio Gates, TE, SD (Tim Clark, Athlon Sports)
45. Brandon Lloyd, WR, DEN (Corby Yarbrough, Athlon Sports)
46. BenJarvis Green-Ellis, RB, NE (Charlie Miller, Athlon Sports)
47. Matt Schaub, QB, HOU (Braden Gall, Athlon Sports)
48. Mike Williams, WR, TB (Athlon Consensus 1)

ROUND 5
49. Brandon Marshall, WR, MIA (Athlon Consensus 1)
50. Jahvid Best, RB, DET (Braden Gall, Athlon Sports)
51. Jason Witten, TE, DAL (Charlie Miller, Athlon Sports)
52. Vincent Jackson, WR, SD (Corby Yarbrough, Athlon Sports)
53. Marshawn Lynch, RB, SEA (Tim Clark, Athlon Sports)
54. Rob Gronkowski, TE, NE (Patrick Snow, Athlon Sports)
55. Wes Welker, WR, NE (Mitch Light, Athlon Sports)
56. Mark Ingram, RB, Rookie (Nathan Rush, Athlon Sports)
57. Vernon Davis, TE, SF (Rob Doster, Athlon Sports)
58. Dallas Clark, TE, IND (Steven Lassan, Athlon Sports)
59. Jermichael Finley, TE, GB (Matt Taliaferro, Athlon Sports)
60. Kenny Britt, WR, TEN (Athlon Consensus 2)

ROUND 6
61. Cedric Benson, RB, CIN (Athlon Consensus 2)
62. Jeremy Maclin, WR, PHI (Matt Taliaferro, Athlon Sports)
63. Santonio Holmes, WR, NYJ (Steven Lassan, Athlon Sports)
64. Eli Manning, QB, NYG (Rob Doster, Athlon Sports)
65. Percy Harvin, WR, MIN (Nathan Rush, Athlon Sports)
66. Tony Gonzalez, TE, ATL (Mitch Light, Athlon Sports)
67. Michael Crabtree, WR, SF (Patrick Snow, Athlon Sports)
68. Sidney Rice, WR, MIN (Tim Clark, Athlon Sports)
69. DeAngelo Williams, RB, CAR (Corby Yarbrough, Athlon Sports)
70. Steve Johnson, WR, BUF (Charlie Miller, Athlon Sports)
71. Brandon Pettigrew, TE, DET (Braden Gall, Athlon Sports)
72. Felix Jones, RB, DAL (Athlon Consensus 1)

ROUND 7
73. Santana Moss, WR, WAS (Athlon Consensus 1)
74. Steve Smith, WR, NYG (Braden Gall, Athlon Sports)
75. Reggie Bush, RB, NO (Charlie Miller, Athlon Sports)
76. Pierre Garcon, WR, IND (Corby Yarbrough, Athlon Sports)
77. Ryan Grant, RB, GB (Tim Clark, Athlon Sports)
78. Joseph Addai, RB, IND (Patrick Snow, Athlon Sports)
79. Ronnie Brown, RB, MIA (Mitch Light, Athlon Sports)
80. Beanie Wells, RB. ARI (Nathan Rush, Athlon Sports)
81. Johnny Knox, WR, CHI (Rob Doster, Athlon Sports)
82. Ryan Torrain, RB, WAS (Steven Lassan, Athlon Sports)
83. C.J. Spiller, RB, BUF (Matt Taliaferro, Athlon Sports)
84. Danny Woodhead, RB, NE (Athlon Consensus 2)

ROUND 8
85. Kellen Winslow, TE, TB (Athlon Consensus 2)
86. James Starks, RB, GB (Matt Taliaferro, Athlon Sports)
87. A.J. Green, WR, Rookie (Steven Lassan, Athlon Sports)
88. Joe Flacco, QB, BAL (Rob Doster, Athlon Sports)
89. Aaron Hernadez, TE, NE (Nathan Rush, Athlon Sports)
90. Austin Collie, WR, IND (Mitch Light, Athlon Sports)
91. Sam Bradford, QB, STL (Patrick Snow, Athlon Sports)
92. Hines Ward, WR, PIT (Tim Clark, Athlon Sports)
93. LaDanian Tomlinson, RB, NYJ (Corby Yarbrough, Athlon Sports)
94. Chris Ivory, RB, NO (Charlie Miller, Athlon Sports)
95. Brandon Jacobs, RB, NYG (Braden Gall, Athlon Sports)
96. Josh Freeman, QB, TB (Athlon Consensus 1)

ROUND 9
97. Chris Cooley, TE, WAS (Athlon Consensus 1)
98. Mike Williams, WR, SEA (Braden Gall, Athlon Sports)
99. Deion Branch, WR, NE (Charlie Miller, Athlon Sports)
100. Julio Jones, WR, Rookie (Corby Yarbrough, Athlon Sports)
101. Green Bay, DST (Tim Clark, Athlon Sports)
102. Donald Brown, RB, IND (Patrick Snow, Athlon Sports)
103. Fred Jackson, RB, BUF (Mitch Light, Athlon Sports)
104. Pittsburgh, DST (Nathan Rush, Athlon Sports)
105. Mario Manningham, WR, NYG (Rob Doster, Athlon Sports)
106. Jay Cutler, QB, CHI (Steven Lassan, Athlon Sports)
107. Danny Amendola, WR, STL (Matt Taliaferro, Athlon Sports)
108. Braylon Edwards, WR, NYJ (Athlon Consensus 2)

ROUND 10
109. New England, DST (Athlon Consensus 2)
110. Mike Tolbert, RB, SD (Matt Taliaferro, Athlon Sports)
111. Michael Bush, RB, OAK (Steven Lassan, Athlon Sports)
112. Thomas Jones, RB, KC (Rob Doster, Athlon Sports)
113. Randy Moss, WR, TEN (Nathan Rush, Athlon Sports)
114. Chicago, DST (Mitch Light, Athlon Sports)
115. New York Jets, DST (Patrick Snow, Athlon Sports)
116. Matt Stafford, QB, DET (Tim Clark, Athlon Sports)
117. Montario Hardesty, RB, CLE (Corby Yarbrough, Athlon Sports)
118. New York Giants, DST (Charlie Miller, Athlon Sports)
119. Baltimore, DST (Braden Gall, Athlon Sports)
120. Matt Cassel, QB, KC (Athlon Consensus 1)

ROUND 11
121. Dallas, DST (Athlon Consensus 1)
122. Caron Palmer, QB, CIN (Braden Gall, Athlon Sports)
123. Mark Sanchez, QB, NYJ (Charlie Miller, Athlon Sports)
124. Marcedes Lewis, TE, JAC (Corby Yarbrough, Athlon Sports)
125. Terrell Owens, WR, CIN (Tim Clark, Athlon Sports)
126. Mike Thomas, WR, JAC (Patrick Snow, Athlon Sports)
127. Chad Ochocinco, WR, CIN (Mitch Light, Athlon Sports)
128. Jordan Todman, RB, Rookie (Nathan Rush, Athlon Sports)
129. Atlanta, DST (Rob Doster, Athlon Sports)
130. Pierre Thomas, RB, NO (Steven Lassan, Athlon Sports)
131. Titus Young, WR, Rookie (Matt Taliaferro, Athlon Sports)
132. Ricky Williams, RB, MIA (Athlon Consensus 2)

ROUND 12

133. David Garrard, QB, JAC (Athlon Consensus 2)
134. San Diego, DST (Matt Taliaferro, Athlon Sports)
135. Jerome Simpson, WR, CIN (Steven Lassan, Athlon Sports)
136. Derrick Mason, WR, BAL (Rob Doster, Athlon Sports)
137. Minnesota, DST (Nathan Rush, Athlon Sports)
138. Kevin Kolb, QB, PHI (Mitch Light, Athlon Sports)
139. Steve Smith, WR, CAR (Patrick Snow, Athlon Sports)
140. Robert Meachem, WR, NO (Tim Clark, Athlon Sports)
141. Lance Moore, WR, NO (Corby Yarbrough, Athlon Sports)
142. Malcom Floyd, WR, SD (Charlie Miller, Athlon Sports)
143. Mark Clayton, WR, STL (Braden Gall, Athlon Sports)
144. Mike Sims-Walker, WR, JAC (Athlon Consensus 1)

ROUND 13
145. Benjamin Watson, TE, CLE (Athlon Consensus 1)
146. Mike Goodson, RB, CAR (Braden Gall, Athlon Sports)
147. Nate Kaeding, K, SD (Charlie Miller, Athlon Sports)
148. Dustin Keller, TE, NYJ (Corby Yarbrough, Athlon Sports)
149. Cadillac Williams, RB, TB (Tim Clark, Athlon Sports)
150. Jacoby Ford, WR, OAK (Patrick Snow, Athlon Sports)
151. Tim Hightower, RB, ARI (Mitch Light, Athlon Sports)
152. Clinton Portis, RB, WAS (Nathan Rush, Athlon Sports)
153. Mason Crosby, K, GB (Rob Doster, Athlon Sports)
154. Emmanuel Sanders, WR, PIT (Steven Lassan, Athlon Sports)
155. Tim Tebow, QB, DEN (Matt Taliaferro, Athlon Sports)
156. David Akers, K, PHI (Athlon Consensus 2)

ROUND 14

157. Owen Daniels, TE, HOU (Athlon Consensus 2)
158. Jordy Nelson, WR, GB (Matt Taliaferro, Athlon Sports)
159. Philadelphia, DST (Steven Lassan, Athlon Sports)
160. Bernard Scott, RB, CIN (Rob Doster, Athlon Sports)
161. Rob Bironas, K, TEN (Nathan Rush, Athlon Sports)
162. Zach Miller, TE, OAK (Mitch Light, Athlon Sports)
163. Matt Bryant, K, ATL (Patrick Snow, Athlon Sports)
164. Stephen Gostkowski, K, NE (Tim Clark, Athlon Sports)
165. Sebastian Janikowski, K, OAK (Corby Yarbrough, Athlon Sports)
166. Jordan Shipley, WR, CIN (Charlie Miller, Athlon Sports)
167. Jermaine Gresham, TE, CIN (Braden Gall, Athlon Sports)
168. Ryan Longwell, K, MIN (Athlon Consensus 1)

ROUND 15
169. Toby Gerhart, RB, MIN (Athlon Consensus 1)
170. Josh Brown, K, STL (Braden Gall, Athlon Sports)
171. Ben Tate, RB, HOU (Charlie Miller, Athlon Sports)
172. Oakland, DST (Corby Yarbrough, Athlon Sports)
173. Cam Newton, QB, Rookie (Tim Clark, Athlon Sports)
174. Jason Snelling, RB, ATL (Patrick Snow, Athlon Sports)
175. Adam Vinatier, K, IND (Mitch Light, Athlon Sports)
176. Ryan Mallett, QB, Rookie (Nathan Rush, Athlon Sports)
177. Ryan Williams, RB, Rookie (Rob Doster, Athlon Sports)
178. Dan Carpenter, K, MIA (Steven Lassan, Athlon Sports)
179. Lawrence Tynes, K, NYG (Matt Taliaferro, Athlon Sports)
180. Demaryius Thomas, WR, DEN (Athlon Consensus 2)

You will notice we had two Athlon Consensus draft spots. Let us set up the parameters for the Athlon Consensus picks. Each month the AC will draft in different spots and represent different draft styles that are commonplace in the world of fantasy football.

For this mock draft, the first AC (AC-1) went the traditional RB, RB early route. Meanwhile, the second AC (AC-2) selected last in the first round was slated as the drafter who always goes QB-WR in the first two rounds no matter what.

We set up these two Athlon Consensus drafters for multiple reasons, among those being that there is always a drafter that never deviates from his plan and there is always a drafter that selects players straight down whatever the rankings for the next position tells them. These players affect the outcome of both their drafts and yours as well. So we will consistently represent them in each of our monthly mock drafts at different draft positions on the board each time.

This is a 12-team, head-to-head league. All touchdowns are 6 points. 1 point for 25 yards passing, 1 point for 10 yards rushing/receiving. Receptions are .5 points. Interceptions/fumbles are minus-2 points. PATs are 1 point, field goals are 3 points (30 yards), 4 points (40 yards) and 5 points (50-plus yards). Kickoff/punt returns count 6 points both for individuals and team defenses. Team defenses are scored with 1 point for a sack, 2 points for an interception, fumble recovery, safety or blocked kick. Points allowed are 12 for a shutout, 10 for 1-6, 8 for 7-13, 6 for 14-20, 2 for 21-27 and 0 for 28-plus. Lineup is 1 QB, 2 RB, 3 WR, 1 flex (RB/WR), 1 TE, 1 K, 1 DST and 5 bench spots.

The Athlon editors had extended debates on everything from who the No. 1 overall pick should be to whether it should be Cam Newton or Ryan Mallett that was selected as the first rookie quarterback in the final round. You can let us know what you think by hitting us up on our Twitter accounts — @AthlonCorby, @AthlonSteven, @AthlonSnowman, @AthlonBraden and @AthlonRush.

Teaser:
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Post date: Tuesday, February 22, 2011 - 06:00
All taxonomy terms: Golf
Path: /columns/national-notebook/no-3-tiger-woods
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2011 Golfer Countdown

BORN: Dec. 30, 1975, Cypress, Calif.

FEDEX FINISH: 42

2010 PGA TOUR EARNINGS: $1,294,765

WORLD GOLF RANKING: 3 (as of Feb. 21, 2011)

GOLF CHANNEL’S BRANDEL CHAMBLEE GIVES HIS TAKE: Tiger Woods’ setbacks in 2010 will very likely hobble him for the rest of his career and could cost him achieving the one goal he has had since childhood — breaking Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 majors. In addition to the well-documented off-the-course troubles, he sustained an offseason injury to his Achilles tendon and has once again decided to change his swing. The two other times Tiger changed his swing, he failed to win a major the following year. Still, even in his attenuated state, he has the best golf mind in the game and is, for the first time in his career, playing with something to prove. Winless in 2010, Tiger is not only trying to snap that streak, but he is also trying to quiet the critics and regain his intimidation. Woods is close enough to Jack’s record that if he has a choking point, we will all know it soon.

THE CASE FOR NO. 1: He’s Tiger Woods; enough said. The man with 14 major championship wins and 70-plus PGA Tour victories has earned the benefit of the doubt, and with top-four finishes in three of his last five majors, he doesn’t need much of that. Woods is rejuvenated and hungry to reclaim his throne, and he’s especially anxious to confound the naysayers who have written off his quest to surpass Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 career majors. Watch Tiger at the Masters, where he scraped together a top-four finish in 2010 despite lacking his A-game.

CAREER PGA TOUR STATS (through Feb. 21, 2011)

  • Events — 266
  • Cuts — 250
  • 1st — 71
  • 2nd — 27
  • 3rd — 17
  • T10 — 166
  • T25 — 219
     
Teaser:
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Post date: Monday, February 21, 2011 - 10:31
All taxonomy terms: Golf
Path: /columns/national-notebook/no-4-graeme-mcdowell
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2011 Golfer Countdown

BORN: July 30, 1979, Portrush, Northern Ireland

FEDEX FINISH: n/a

2010 PGA TOUR EARNINGS: $1,589,337

WORLD GOLF RANKING: 5 (as of Feb. 20, 2011)

GOLF CHANNEL’S BRANDEL CHAMBLEE GIVES HIS TAKE: Graeme McDowell is aware of the pitfalls of success and has said that being the reigning U.S. Open champion doesn’t guarantee a 65 every time he tees it up. These words are evidence that he will continue his whirlwind ride through the upper echelon of the golf world. The reason he has become one of the most exciting and clutch players to watch is, quite simply, because he is the best iron player on the planet. In Europe, he hit 75 percent of the greens, and in the U.S., he led in proximity to the hole from the fairway and the rough. His final-round 62 at the 2011 Hyundai is a harbinger of things to come.

CAREER PGA TOUR STATS (as of Feb. 20, 2011)

  • Events — 68
  • Cuts — 48
  • 1st — 1
  • 2nd — 1
  • 3rd — 1
  • T10 — 8
  • T25 — 19
     
Teaser:
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Post date: Sunday, February 20, 2011 - 09:20
All taxonomy terms: Golf
Path: /columns/national-notebook/no-5-phil-mickelson
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2011 Golfer Countdown

BORN: June 16, 1970, San Diego, Calif.

FEDEX FINISH: 13

2010 PGA TOUR EARNINGS: $3,821,733

WORLD GOLF RANKING: 4 (as of Feb. 19, 2011)

GOLF CHANNEL’S BRANDEL CHAMBLEE GIVES HIS TAKE: For the first time in seven years, Phil failed to win multiple tournaments in 2010, and in August we found out that he had psoriatic arthritis, a condition that could cut his Hall of Fame career short. Phil, in typical sanguine fashion, said the prognosis was good, but this affliction is very often tricky to treat and for most is a lifelong problem. The diagnosis raises questions, not only about 2011, but also for the rest of Phil’s career. Still, if one had never seen or heard of Phil Mickelson and saw only the 28 minutes that he played holes 13-15 on Saturday at Augusta (eagle-eagle-birdie) they would know he was one of the greatest, most charismatic players of all time. If healthy, he could finally be the No. 1 player in the world at year’s end.

CAREER PGA TOUR STATS (as of Feb. 19, 2011)

  • Events — 426
  • Cuts — 354
  • 1st — 38
  • 2nd — 24
  • 3rd — 21
  • T10 — 153
  • T25 — 235
Teaser:
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Post date: Saturday, February 19, 2011 - 09:30
All taxonomy terms: NFL, Fantasy
Path: /columns/winning-game-plan/fantasy-mock-recap-rounds-11-15
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Athlon Sports NFL Fantasy Mock Draft — February 2011
ROUND 11
121. Dallas, DST (Athlon Consensus 1)
122. Caron Palmer, QB, CIN (Braden Gall, Athlon Sports)
123. Mark Sanchez, QB, NYJ (Charlie Miller, Athlon Sports)
124. Marcedes Lewis, TE, JAC (Corby Yarbrough, Athlon Sports)
125. Terrell Owens, WR, CIN (Tim Clark, Athlon Sports)
126. Mike Thomas, WR, JAC (Patrick Snow, Athlon Sports)
127. Chad Ochocinco, WR, CIN (Mitch Light, Athlon Sports)
128. Jordan Todman, RB, Rookie (Nathan Rush, Athlon Sports)
129. Atlanta, DST (Rob Doster, Athlon Sports)
130. Pierre Thomas, RB, NO (Steven Lassan, Athlon Sports)
131. Titus Young, WR, Rookie (Matt Taliaferro, Athlon Sports)
132. Ricky Williams, RB, MIA (Athlon Consensus 2)

R1 | R2 | R3 | R4 | R5 | R6 | R7 | R8 | R9 | R10 | R11-15

Corby Yarbrough @AthlonCorby

I managed to hold out for 11 rounds before taking a TE and snagged Marcedes Lewis who finished fourth in scoring for TEs. Todman and Titus Young should be solid rookies for whichever teams draft them, and are good values in the late end of the 11th.

Steven Lassan @AthlonSteven

Like the picks of Titus Young and Jordan Todman in this round. At this point of the draft, it’s worth gambling on rookies and depending on where each player lands, could be picked higher in later mocks.

Patrick Snow @AthlonSnowman

Unlike Moss, T.O. still produced (983 yards, nine TDs in 14 games) last season. If a coach/QB can put up with him, so should your fantasy team if he’s available this late. Jordan Todman could be a solid rookie in the right situation.

Braden Gall @AthlonBraden

At this point in the draft, I am always in favor of taking the upside guy. Mike Thomas, Jordan Todman and Titus Young are three young players who could post solid numbers. I actually like the value of the Chad Ochocinco pick actually— someone I would normally never draft.

Nathan Rush @AthlonRush

Two USC passers on the opposite ends of their career, Carson Palmer and Mark Sanchez, go back to back. At this point, the upside, steady improvement and supporting cast of Sanchez is probably a better bet than the INTs, trade rumors and mediocrity of Palmer.

ROUND 12
133. David Garrard, QB, JAC (Athlon Consensus 2)
134. San Diego, DST (Matt Taliaferro, Athlon Sports)
135. Jerome Simpson, WR, CIN (Steven Lassan, Athlon Sports)
136. Derrick Mason, WR, BAL (Rob Doster, Athlon Sports)
137. Minnesota, DST (Nathan Rush, Athlon Sports)
138. Kevin Kolb, QB, PHI (Mitch Light, Athlon Sports)
139. Steve Smith, WR, CAR (Patrick Snow, Athlon Sports)
140. Robert Meachem, WR, NO (Tim Clark, Athlon Sports)
141. Lance Moore, WR, NO (Corby Yarbrough, Athlon Sports)
142. Malcom Floyd, WR, SD (Charlie Miller, Athlon Sports)
143. Mark Clayton, WR, STL (Braden Gall, Athlon Sports)
144. Mike Sims-Walker, WR, JAC (Athlon Consensus 1)

Corby Yarbrough @AthlonCorby

This was the time-to-be-sneaky round. Jerome Simpson could be a steal if both Owens and Ochocinco exit Cincinnati; Mason is still solid in any PPR format. If Kolb gets traded, he’s worth the shot to backup Peyton Manning. Steve Smith Carolina used to be a marquee receiver. Remember that? If the Panthers find a QB that can throw a forward pass, he’s a steal at 139 overall. The round closes down with solid picks in Saints Meachem and Moore, Charger No. 2, Floyd, Mark Clayton, who was Bradford’s go-to guy before an October season-ending knee injury and a Sims-Walker that hopefully won’t repeat his disappearing act of 2010.

Steven Lassan @AthlonSteven

How the mighty have fallen. Carolina’s Steve Smith was once a WR1 and is barely on fantasy radars for 2011. With an awful quarterback situation, Smith’s fantasy value is pretty low going into next season, but is a player worth the risk. Mitch’s pick of Kevin Kolb is a low-risk, high-reward option. If Kolb goes to Arizona, he has to be on the cusp of being one of the first 12-16 quarterbacks off the board.

Patrick Snow @AthlonSnowman

Is that Panthers’ wideout Steve Smith in Round 12? The Carolina offense was an abject disaster in ’10, but he’s still worth a pick this late. Garrard (28 total TDs in 14 games) is a nice choice here.

Braden Gall @AthlonBraden

Wide receiver value was the theme in this round. Sims-Walker, Clayton, Floyd, Smith and Simpson could all end up being No. 1’s (ok, maybe not Floyd). I also am intrigued by the Kevin Kolb pick — however, if I was Tim (with Vick), there is no chance he would not have made it past me.

Nathan Rush @AthlonRush

The new “other” Steve Smith, the artist formerly known as “the” Steve Smith, could be a cheap bounce-back candidate — if he didn’t sound like he wanted to meet Jimmy Clausen in the Octagon.

ROUND 13
145. Benjamin Watson, TE, CLE (Athlon Consensus 1)
146. Mike Goodson, RB, CAR (Braden Gall, Athlon Sports)
147. Nate Kaeding, K, SD (Charlie Miller, Athlon Sports)
148. Dustin Keller, TE, NYJ (Corby Yarbrough, Athlon Sports)
149. Cadillac Williams, RB, TB (Tim Clark, Athlon Sports)
150. Jacoby Ford, WR, OAK (Patrick Snow, Athlon Sports)
151. Tim Hightower, RB, ARI (Mitch Light, Athlon Sports)
152. Clinton Portis, RB, WAS (Nathan Rush, Athlon Sports)
153. Mason Crosby, K, GB (Rob Doster, Athlon Sports)
154. Emmanuel Sanders, WR, PIT (Steven Lassan, Athlon Sports)
155. Tim Tebow, QB, DEN (Matt Taliaferro, Athlon Sports)
156. David Akers, K, PHI (Athlon Consensus 2)

Corby Yarbrough @AthlonCorby

Someone has to replace DeAngelo Williams in Carolina if the Panthers are going to keep a two-horse backfield, making Mike Goodson a helluva deal at 146 overall … Waiting on Lewis as a TE in the 11th was a great play, drafting a backup in Dustin Keller might not have been a solid use of a pick. If Jacoby Ford and Emmanuel Sanders are involved in their respective offenses they are going to be some of the best draft values of any of the 180 picks.

Steven Lassan @AthlonSteven

Emmanuel Sanders had a short appearance in the Super Bowl due to a foot injury, but he came on strong for Pittsburgh in the second half of the season. With Hines Ward on the last legs of his career, expect Sanders to play a bigger role in Pittsburgh’s offense next season.

Patrick Snow @AthlonSnowman

Love the value of young speedsters Mike Goodson and Jacoby Ford. Both had productive stretches in ’10 and should be improved this season. The first three kickers go in this round. It’s nice to have a top kicker, but only when your starters and key backups have been selected.

Braden Gall @AthlonBraden

Speed kills and this was the round of the small, speedy skill guys — Goodson, Sanders and Ford can all fly. Or the round that would have been great in 2005 with Williams and Portis.

Nathan Rush @AthlonRush

Tim Tebow showed flashes as a rookie, contributing to more than a few fantasy playoff runs late in the season. And, as a flier pick, he’s probably on par with Cadillac Williams and Clinton Portis — two injury-prone tailbacks whose best seasons are in the rearview mirror.

ROUND 14
157. Owen Daniels, TE, HOU (Athlon Consensus 2)
158. Jordy Nelson, WR, GB (Matt Taliaferro, Athlon Sports)
159. Philadelphia, DST (Steven Lassan, Athlon Sports)
160. Bernard Scott, RB, CIN (Rob Doster, Athlon Sports)
161. Rob Bironas, K, TEN (Nathan Rush, Athlon Sports)
162. Zach Miller, TE, OAK (Mitch Light, Athlon Sports)
163. Matt Bryant, K, ATL (Patrick Snow, Athlon Sports)
164. Stephen Gostkowski, K, NE (Tim Clark, Athlon Sports)
165. Sebastian Janikowski, K, OAK (Corby Yarbrough, Athlon Sports)
166. Jordan Shipley, WR, CIN (Charlie Miller, Athlon Sports)
167. Jermaine Gresham, TE, CIN (Braden Gall, Athlon Sports)
168. Ryan Longwell, K, MIN (Athlon Consensus 1)

Corby Yarbrough @AthlonCorby

Kickers, backups and Bengals abound. Bernard Scott, Jordan Shipley and Jermaine Gresham should all be key cogs in the Jay Gruden-led offense, making them solid late-round picks.

Steven Lassan @AthlonSteven

Is new coordinator Jay Gruden what Cincinnati’s offense needs to get going in 2011? I’m not sure what to expect out of the Bengals just yet, but it’s interesting that three players from Cincinnati were selected in this round — Jordan Shipley, Jermaine Gresham and Bernard Scott.

Patrick Snow @AthlonSnowman

Super Bowl hero Jordy Nelson could play a bigger role with Green Bay with Donald Driver hitting the twilight of his career. Two Bengals — Shipley and Gresham — could be nice weapons in Cincinnati’s new offense.

Braden Gall @AthlonBraden

I love the Bengals, Gresham and Shipley, as well as taking the flier on Owen Daniels. What have you risked, really?

Nathan Rush @AthlonRush

Sebastian Janikowski and Stephen Gostkowski go back to back as if this were a point-per-letter league. Sea Bass was the best kicker in fantasy last year; Gostkowski missed the season due to a thigh injury. Both should be two of the best — especially in point-per-letter leagues.

ROUND 15
169. Toby Gerhart, RB, MIN (Athlon Consensus 1)
170. Josh Brown, K, STL (Braden Gall, Athlon Sports)
171. Ben Tate, RB, HOU (Charlie Miller, Athlon Sports)
172. Oakland, DST (Corby Yarbrough, Athlon Sports)
173. Cam Newton, QB, Rookie (Tim Clark, Athlon Sports)
174. Jason Snelling, RB, ATL (Patrick Snow, Athlon Sports)
175. Adam Vinatier, K, IND (Mitch Light, Athlon Sports)
176. Ryan Mallett, QB, Rookie (Nathan Rush, Athlon Sports)
177. Ryan Williams, RB, Rookie (Rob Doster, Athlon Sports)
178. Dan Carpenter, K, MIA (Steven Lassan, Athlon Sports)
179. Lawrence Tynes, K, NYG (Matt Taliaferro, Athlon Sports)
180. Demaryius Thomas, WR, DEN (Athlon Consensus 2)

Corby Yarbrough @AthlonCorby

Gerhart to backup Peterson in the last round — great play. The forgotten Ben Tate to backup Foster — great play. The seldom-used Jason Snelling to backup Turner — solid insurance, and he could become even better if he is an unrestricted free agent this offseason. The three rookies were certainly worth fliers in Cam Newton as a third QB, Ryan Mallett as a backup QB to a player like Brady that will only be pulled once (bye week) and Ryan Williams for a team that went WR-WR to start the draft.

Steven Lassan @AthlonSteven

The last round of the draft is always filled with kickers, but some interesting picks with rookies Cam Newton, Ryan Mallett and Ryan Williams. Newton is probably a year or two away from starting in the NFL, but certainly worth the risk at this point. Ben Tate was a solid handcuff pick in the last round for Arian Foster.

Patrick Snow @AthlonSnowman

Handcuffing was the last round theme with Gerhart, Tate and Snelling being selected. It’s a rock solid strategy in case of injury or if those backs play a bigger role than previously expected.

Braden Gall @AthlonBraden

If you take a kicker before this round, you are stupid. And I would have taken Ryan Mallett over Cam Newton.

Nathan Rush @AthlonRush

Toby Gerhart was the right play by Athlon Consensus 1 after taking Adrian Peterson No. 1 overall. No owner wants to see “All Day” banged up; but it’s not nearly as painful with his capable backup waiting patiently on the bench.

You will notice we had two Athlon Consensus draft spots. Each month the AC will draft in different spots and represent different draft styles that are commonplace in the world of fantasy football. We set up these two Athlon Consensus drafters for multiple reasons, among those being that there is always a drafter that never deviates from their position-by-position plan and there is always the drafter that selects best player available and sorts out the rest later. These players affect the outcome of both their drafts and yours as well. So we will consistently represent them in each of our monthly mock drafts at different draft positions on the board each time.

This mock draft, the first AC (AC-1) went the traditional RB, RB early route. Meanwhile, the second AC (AC-2) selected last in the first round was slated as the drafter who always goes QB-WR in the first two rounds no matter what.

This is a 12-team, head-to-head league. All touchdowns are 6 points. 1 point for 25 yards passing, 1 point for 10 yards rushing/receiving. Receptions are .5 points. Interceptions/fumbles are minus-2 points. PATs are 1 point, field goals are 3 points (30 yards), 4 points (40 yards)and 5 points (50-plus yards). Kickoff/punt returns count 6 points both for individuals and team defenses. Team defenses are scored with 1 point for a sack, 2 points for an interception, fumble recovery, safety or blocked kick. Points allowed are 12 for a shutout, 10 for 1-6, 8 for 7-13, 6 for 14-20, 2 for 21-27 and 0 for 28-plus. Lineup is 1 QB, 2 RB, 3 WR, 1 flex (RB/WR), 1 TE, 1 K, 1 DST and 5 bench spots.

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Post date: Friday, February 18, 2011 - 10:39
All taxonomy terms: Golf
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2011 Golfer Countdown

BORN: July 21, 1977, Cheltenham, England

FEDEX FINISH: 6

2010 PGA TOUR EARNINGS: $3,613,194

WORLD GOLF RANKING: 6 (as of Feb. 18, 2011)

GOLF CHANNEL’S BRANDEL CHAMBLEE GIVES HIS TAKE: Paul Casey’s No. 3 world ranking at one point during 2009 had some onlookers scoffing because of his dearth of success in the game’s biggest events and his inability to post a good number on major championship Sundays. His ranking had fallen to eighth in the world at the end of 2010. But rankings aside, Casey has become a much-improved player in the last year and is poised for his biggest year ever in 2011. His effortless length, a one-way miss (to the right) that widens the fairway and allows him to play without fear, his high ball flight and massively improved putting make him a threat in any event.

CAREER PGA TOUR STATS (as of Feb. 18, 2011)

  • Events — 103
  • Cuts — 73
  • 1st — 1
  • 2nd — 3
  • 3rd — 1
  • T10 — 23
  • T25 — 46
     
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Post date: Friday, February 18, 2011 - 10:35

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