Articles By Corby Yarbrough

All taxonomy terms: College Football, Fantasy, News
Path: /columns/5-burning-questions/college-fantasy-athlon-120-league
Body:

The 2011 college football season is here. And with little time to spare, Athlon Sports has completed its most excessive all-120 draft yet. The mocks are over, this is the one we play out. And we combined Athlon Sports editors with college football experts from across a number of platforms to complete a week-long draft that concluded Wednesday night. (That's why you may see a few questionable picks. I'm talking about you Damaris Johnson).

We say excessive because we start three quarterbacks, four running backs, four receivers and a flex to go along with the tight end, kicker and defense. The way we look at it: You can never draft enough players. There are 120 teams and just 12 of us. There's plenty to go around.

Also check out our first two mock drafts to see how many players have seen a major rise in stock or have gone the other way.

Click here
to check out the results from the first college fantasy draft.

Click here to check out the results from the second college fantasy draft.

Athlon Sports College Fantasy Rankings Top 200 and Positional Ranks

Draft based upon a standard scoring system:

1 passing touchdown = 4 points
1 interception = -1 point
1 rushing/receiving/return touchdown = 6 points
25 passing yards = 1 point
10 rushing/receiving yards = 1 point
1 reception = 0.5 points

Starting lineup: 3 QB, 4 RB, 4 WR, 1 Flex (WR or RB), 1 TE, 1 K, 1 DEF, 7 bench spots

Round 1 Player, Pos, Team Drafter Affiliation
1 Case Keenum, QB, Houston Mitch Light Athlon Sports
2 Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State Chris Childers SiriusXM
3 Ryan Broyles, WR, Oklahoma Joe DiSalvo TheCFFSite.com
4 LaMichael James, RB, Oregon Steven Lassan Athlon Sports
5 Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama Corby Yarbrough Athlon Sports
6 Landry Jones, QB, Oklahoma Patrick Snow Athlon Sports
7 Marcus Lattimore, RB, South Carolina Brian Hochman Fantasy Expert
8 David Wilson, RB, Virginia Tech Todd DeVries CollegeFootballGeek.com
9 Bryant Moniz, QB, Hawaii Nathan Karp U-Sports.com
10 Dominique Davis, QB, East Carolina Mark Ross Athlon Sports
11 Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor Braden Gall Athlon Sports
12 Brandon Weeden, QB, Oklahoma State David Fox Rivals.com
Round 2 Player, Pos, Team Drafter Affiliation
13 Lance Dunbar, RB, North Texas David Fox Rivals.com
14 Montee Ball, RB, Wisconsin Braden Gall Athlon Sports
15 Bobby Rainey, RB, Western Kentucky Mark Ross Athlon Sports
16 Doug Martin, RB, Boise State Nathan Karp U-Sports.com
17 Jordan White, WR, Western Michigan Todd DeVries CollegeFootballGeek.com
18 GJ Kinne, QB, Tulsa Brian Hochman Fantasy Expert
19 Ronnie Hillman, RB, San Diego State Patrick Snow Athlon Sports
20 Denard Robinson, QB, Michigan Corby Yarbrough Athlon Sports
21 Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame Steven Lassan Athlon Sports
22 Lance Lewis, WR, East Carolina Joe DiSalvo TheCFFSite.com
23 Marcus Coker, RB, Iowa Chris Childers SiriusXM
24 Patrick Edwards, WR, Houston Mitch Light Athlon Sports
Round 3 Player, Pos, Team Drafter Affiliation
25 Lenon Creer, RB, Lousiana Tech Mitch Light Athlon Sports
26 Dan Persa, QB, Northwestern Chris Childers SiriusXM
27 Stepfan Taylor, RB, Stanford Joe DiSalvo TheCFFSite.com
28 Kyle Padron, QB, SMU Steven Lassan Athlon Sports
29 Eric Page, WR, Toledo Corby Yarbrough Athlon Sports
30 Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia Patrick Snow Athlon Sports
31 Juron Criner, WR, Arizona Brian Hochman Fantasy Expert
32 Alshon Jeffrey, WR, South Carolina Todd DeVries CollegeFootballGeek.com
33 Ray Graham, RB, Pittsburgh Nathan Karp U-Sports.com
34 James White, RB, Wisconsin Mark Ross Athlon Sports
35 Jeff Fuller, WR, Texas A&M Braden Gall Athlon Sports
36 Chris Polk, RB, Washington David Fox Rivals.com
Round 4 Player, Pos, Team Drafter Affiliation
37 Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia David Fox Rivals.com
38 Rex Burkhead, RB, Nebraska Braden Gall Athlon Sports
39 Cody Wilson, WR, Central Michigan Mark Ross Athlon Sports
40 Cyrus Gray, RB, Texas A&M Nathan Karp U-Sports.com
41 Austin Davis, QB, Southern Miss Todd DeVries CollegeFootballGeek.com
42 Adonis Thomas, RB, Toledo Brian Hochman Fantasy Expert
43 Zach Line, RB, SMU Patrick Snow Athlon Sports
44 Alex Carder, QB, Western Michigan Corby Yarbrough Athlon Sports
45 Orleans Darkwa, RB, Tulane Steven Lassan Athlon Sports
46 Cameron Marshall, RB, Arizona State Joe DiSalvo TheCFFSite.com
47 Robert Woods, WR, USC Chris Childers SiriusXM
48 Bernard Pierce, RB, Temple Mitch Light Athlon Sports
Round 5 Player, Pos, Team Drafter Affiliation
49 Kellen Moore, QB, Boise State Mitch Light Athlon Sports
50 Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford Chris Childers SiriusXM
51 Darius Johnson, WR, SMU Joe DiSalvo TheCFFSite.com
52 Kamar Jorden, WR, Bowling Green Steven Lassan Athlon Sports
53 Damaris Johnson, WR, Tulsa Corby Yarbrough Athlon Sports
54 Royce Pollard, WR, Hawaii Patrick Snow Athlon Sports
55 Darius Bright, WR, Hawaii Brian Hochman Fantasy Expert
56 Rodney Stewart, RB, Colorado Todd DeVries CollegeFootballGeek.com
57 Taylor Martinez, QB, Nebraska Nathan Karp U-Sports.com
58 Cole Beasley, WR, SMU Mark Ross Athlon Sports
59 Andre Ellington, RB, Clemson Braden Gall Athlon Sports
60 Tauren Poole, RB, Tennessee David Fox Rivals.com
Round 6 Player, Pos, Team Drafter Affiliation
61 Tyron Carrier, WR, Houston David Fox Rivals.com
62 Darron Thomas, QB, Oregon Braden Gall Athlon Sports
63 LaDarius Green, TE, UL-Lafayette Mark Ross Athlon Sports
64 Jeremy Ebert, WR, Northwestern Nathan Karp U-Sports.com
65 Ryan Aplin, QB, Arkansas St. Todd DeVries CollegeFootballGeek.com
66 Zach Collaros, QB, Cincinnati Brian Hochman Fantasy Expert
67 Jason Ford, RB, Illinois Patrick Snow Athlon Sports
68 Brandon Bolden, RB, Ole Miss Corby Yarbrough Athlon Sports
69 Robert Turbin, RB, Utah State Steven Lassan Athlon Sports
70 Isaiah Crowell, RB, Georgia Joe DiSalvo TheCFFSite.com
71 Edwin Baker, RB, Michigan State Chris Childers SiriusXM
72 Michael Egnew, TE, Missouri Mitch Light Athlon Sports
Round 7 Player, Pos, Team Drafter Affiliation
73 Jermaine Kearse, WR, Washington Mitch Light Athlon Sports
74 DJ Woods, WR, Cincinnati Chris Childers SiriusXM
75 Savon Huggins, RB, Rutgers Joe DiSalvo TheCFFSite.com
76 Kenny Stills, WR, Oklahoma Steven Lassan Athlon Sports
77 T.Y. Hilton, WR, FIU Corby Yarbrough Athlon Sports
78 Cierre Wood, RB, Notre Dame Patrick Snow Athlon Sports
79 Marquess Wilson, WR, Washington State Brian Hochman Fantasy Expert
80 Robbie Rouse, RB, Fresno State Todd DeVries CollegeFootballGeek.com
81 Roy Roundtree, WR, Michigan Nathan Karp U-Sports.com
82 Bryan Ellis, QB, UAB Mark Ross Athlon Sports
83 Vick Ballard, RB, Mississippi State Braden Gall Athlon Sports
84 Corey Robinson, QB, Troy David Fox Rivals.com
Round 8 Player, Pos, Team Drafter Affiliation
85 Joseph Randle, RB, Oklahoma State David Fox Rivals.com
86 Theo Riddick, WR, Notre Dame Braden Gall Athlon Sports
87 Pat Shed, RB, UAB Mark Ross Athlon Sports
88 Tyler Wilson, QB, Arkansas Nathan Karp U-Sports.com
89 Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor Todd DeVries CollegeFootballGeek.com
90 Sam McGuffie, RB, Rice Brian Hochman Fantasy Expert
91 Greg Childs, WR, Arkansas Patrick Snow Athlon Sports
92 Michael Dyer, RB, Auburn Corby Yarbrough Athlon Sports
93 Chandler Harnish, QB, Northern Illinois Steven Lassan Athlon Sports
94 Matt Barkley, QB, USC Joe DiSalvo TheCFFSite.com
95 T.J. Moe, WR, Missouri Chris Childers SiriusXM
96 Silas Redd, RB, Penn State Mitch Light Athlon Sports
Round 9 Player, Pos, Team Drafter Affiliation
97 Nick Harwell, WR, Miami (Ohio) Mitch Light Athlon Sports
98 Spencer Ware, RB, LSU Chris Childers SiriusXM
99 Jasmin Hopkins, RB, Northern Illinois Joe DiSalvo TheCFFSite.com
100 Mike Ball, RB, Nevada Steven Lassan Athlon Sports
101 Lamar Miller, RB, Miami Corby Yarbrough Athlon Sports
102 Nathan Scheelhaase, QB, Illinois Patrick Snow Athlon Sports
103 Chris Owusu, WR, Stanford Brian Hochman Fantasy Expert
104 Antwon Bailey, RB, Syracuse Todd DeVries CollegeFootballGeek.com
105 Ryan Swope, WR, Texas A&M Nathan Karp U-Sports.com
106 Dayne Crist, QB, Notre Dame Mark Ross Athlon Sports
107 Jeff Godfrey, QB, UCF Braden Gall Athlon Sports
108 Cody Hoffman, WR, BYU David Fox Rivals.com
Round 10 Player, Pos, Team Drafter Affiliation
109 Mohamed Sanu, WR, Rutgers David Fox Rivals.com
110 Davin Meggett, RB, Maryland Braden Gall Athlon Sports
111 Eric Stephens, RB, Texas Tech Mark Ross Athlon Sports
112 Isaiah Pead, RB, Cincinnati Nathan Karp U-Sports.com
113 Taylor McHargue, QB, Rice Todd DeVries CollegeFootballGeek.com
114 Seth Doege, QB, Texas Tech Brian Hochman Fantasy Expert
115 Tyler Shoemaker, WR, Boise State Patrick Snow Athlon Sports
116 Ronnie Wingo, RB, Arkansas Corby Yarbrough Athlon Sports
117 Jake Heaps, QB, BYU Steven Lassan Athlon Sports
118 James Franklin, QB, Missouri Joe DiSalvo TheCFFSite.com
119 Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M Chris Childers SiriusXM
120 Tim Jefferson, QB, Air Force Mitch Light Athlon Sports
Round 11 Player, Pos, Team Drafter Affiliation
121 Jonathan Franklin, RB, UCLA Mitch Light Athlon Sports
122 Darriet Perry, RB, FIU Chris Childers SiriusXM
123 Rishard Matthews, WR, Nevada Joe DiSalvo TheCFFSite.com
124 Geraldo Boldewijn, WR, Boise State Steven Lassan Athlon Sports
125 Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame Corby Yarbrough Athlon Sports
126 Christine Michael, RB, Texas A&M Patrick Snow Athlon Sports
127 Montel Harris, RB, Boston College Brian Hochman Fantasy Expert
128 Markus Wheaton, WR, Oregon State Todd DeVries CollegeFootballGeek.com
129 Bryce Beall, RB, Houston Nathan Karp U-Sports.com
130 Malcolm Brown, RB, Texas Mark Ross Athlon Sports
131 Bryce Brown, RB, Kansas State Braden Gall Athlon Sports
132 Nick Foles, QB, Arizona David Fox Rivals.com
Round 12 Player, Pos, Team Drafter Affiliation
133 JJ DiLuigi, RB, BYU David Fox Rivals.com
134 Kelvin Bolden, WR, Southern Miss Braden Gall Athlon Sports
135 Conner Vernon, WR, Duke Mark Ross Athlon Sports
136 Derek Moye, WR, Penn State Nathan Karp U-Sports.com
137 Lampford Mark, RB, Nevada Todd DeVries CollegeFootballGeek.com
138 Kolton Browning, QB, Louisiana-Monroe Brian Hochman Fantasy Expert
139 Stedman Bailey, WR, WVU Patrick Snow Athlon Sports
140 Logan Thomas, QB, Virginia Tech Corby Yarbrough Athlon Sports
141 Tajh Boyd, QB, Clemson Steven Lassan Athlon Sports
142 Andrew Buie, RB, West Virginia Joe DiSalvo TheCFFSite.com
143 Coby Fleener, TE, Stanford Chris Childers SiriusXM
144 Raymond Sanders, RB, Kentucky Mitch Light Athlon Sports
Round 13 Player, Pos, Team Drafter Affiliation
145 Mike Shanahan, WR, Pitt Mitch Light Athlon Sports
146 Sean Renfree, QB, Duke Chris Childers SiriusXM
147 Tino Sunseri, QB, Pitt Joe DiSalvo TheCFFSite.com
148 Isi Sofele, RB, California Steven Lassan Athlon Sports
149 Alfred Morris, RB, FAU Corby Yarbrough Athlon Sports
150 Russell Wilson, QB, Wisconsin Patrick Snow Athlon Sports
151 Ed Wesley, RB, TCU Brian Hochman Fantasy Expert
152 Brock Osweiler, QB, Arizona State Todd DeVries CollegeFootballGeek.com
153 David Paulson, TE, Oregon Nathan Karp U-Sports.com
154 Alex Torres, WR, Texas Tech Mark Ross Athlon Sports
155 Chris Relf, QB, Mississippi State Braden Gall Athlon Sports
156 Kendrick Hardy, RB, Southern Miss David Fox Rivals.com
Round 14 Player, Pos, Team Drafter Affiliation
157 Damarlo Belcher, WR, Indiana David Fox Rivals.com
158 Chad Bumphis, WR, Mississippi State Braden Gall Athlon Sports
159 Marvin McNutt, WR, Iowa Mark Ross Athlon Sports
160 Alabama Defense Nathan Karp U-Sports.com
161 Mike Davis, WR Texas Todd DeVries CollegeFootballGeek.com
162 Justin Hunter, WR, Tennessee Brian Hochman Fantasy Expert
163 Boise State Defense Patrick Snow Athlon Sports
164 Virginia Tech Defense Corby Yarbrough Athlon Sports
165 Tevin Drake, RB, Western Michigan Steven Lassan Athlon Sports
166 Jeremiah Ostrowski, WR, Hawaii Joe DiSalvo TheCFFSite.com
167 B.J. Cunningham, WR, Michigan State Chris Childers SiriusXM
168 TCU Defense Mitch Light Athlon Sports
Round 15 Player, Pos, Team Drafter Affiliation
169 Victor Anderson, RB, Louisville Mitch Light Athlon Sports
170 Florida State Defense Chris Childers SiriusXM
171 Billy Ray Stutzmann, WR, Hawaii Joe DiSalvo TheCFFSite.com
172 Michael Shaw, RB, Michigan Steven Lassan Athlon Sports
173 Dwayne Frampton, WR, Arkansas State Corby Yarbrough Athlon Sports
174 Joe Adams, WR, Arkansas Patrick Snow Athlon Sports
175 Luther Ambrose, WR, UL Monroe Brian Hochman Fantasy Expert
176 Charles Sims, RB, Houston Todd DeVries CollegeFootballGeek.com
177 Dwight Jones, WR, North Carolina Nathan Karp U-Sports.com
178 Kendial Lawrence, RB, Missouri Mark Ross Athlon Sports
179 Andre Williams, RB, Boston College Braden Gall Athlon Sports
180 Drake Dunsmore, TE, Northwestern David Fox Rivals.com
Round 16 Player, Pos, Team Drafter Affiliation
181 Noel Grigsby, WR, San Jose State David Fox Rivals.com
182 Keenan Allen, WR, Califronia Braden Gall Athlon Sports
183 EJ Manuel, QB, Florida State Mark Ross Athlon Sports
184 John Brantley, QB, Florida Nathan Karp U-Sports.com
185 Jared Hassin, RB, Army Todd DeVries CollegeFootballGeek.com
186 Brandon Williams, RB, Oklahoma Brian Hochman Fantasy Expert
187 Kenjon Barner, RB, Oregon Patrick Snow Athlon Sports
188 Aaron Murray, QB, Georgia Corby Yarbrough Athlon Sports
189 Jeremy Wright, RB, Louisville Steven Lassan Athlon Sports
190 Ryan Houston, RB, North Carolina Joe DiSalvo TheCFFSite.com
191 Roy Finch, RB, Oklahoma Chris Childers SiriusXM
192 Brandon Barden, TE, Vanderbilt Mitch Light Athlon Sports
Round 17 Player, Pos, Team Drafter Affiliation
193 Zac Stacy, RB, Vanderbilt Mitch Light Athlon Sports
194 Darrell Scott, RB, South Florida Chris Childers SiriusXM
195 Terrance Ganaway, RB, Baylor Joe DiSalvo TheCFFSite.com
196 Malcolm Agnew, RB, Oregon State Steven Lassan Athlon Sports
197 Marquis Maze, WR, Alabama Corby Yarbrough Athlon Sports
198 Da'Rick Rogers, WR, Tennessee Patrick Snow Athlon Sports
199 John White, RB, Utah Brian Hochman Fantasy Expert
200 Thomas Roberson, WR, Tulsa Todd DeVries CollegeFootballGeek.com
201 Jeff Demps, RB, Florida Nathan Karp U-Sports.com
202 Jarret Boykin, WR, Virginia Tech Mark Ross Athlon Sports
203 Alvester Alexander, RB, Wyoming Braden Gall Athlon Sports
204 Kirk Cousins, QB, Michigan State David Fox Rivals.com
Round 18 Player, Pos, Team Drafter Affiliation
205 D.J. Shoemate, RB, Connecticut David Fox Rivals.com
206 Kriss Proctor, QB, Navy Braden Gall Athlon Sports
207 David Sims, RB, Georgia Tech Mark Ross Athlon Sports
208 James Rodgers, WR, Oregon State Nathan Karp U-Sports.com
209 Lucas Reed, TE, New Mexico Todd DeVries CollegeFootballGeek.com
210 Darrin Moore, WR, Texas Tech Brian Hochman Fantasy Expert
211 Perry Jones, RB, UVA Patrick Snow Athlon Sports
212 Tyler Bray, QB, Tennessee Corby Yarbrough Athlon Sports
213 Jordan Reed, TE, Florida Steven Lassan Athlon Sports
214 Nick Isham, QB, Louisiana Tech Joe DiSalvo TheCFFSite.com
215 Logan Kilgore, QB, MTSU Chris Childers SiriusXM
216 Gerrell Robinson, WR, Arizona State Mitch Light Athlon Sports
Round 19 Player, Pos, Team Drafter Affiliation
217 Jordan Matthews, WR, Vanderbilt Mitch Light Athlon Sports
218 Malcolm Beyah, WR, MTSU Chris Childers SiriusXM
219 Nebraska Defense Joe DiSalvo TheCFFSite.com
220 A.J. Jenkins, WR, Illinois Steven Lassan Athlon Sports
221 Daniel Herron, RB, Ohio State Corby Yarbrough Athlon Sports
222 Kyler Reed, TE, Nebraska Patrick Snow Athlon Sports
223 Orson Charles, TE, Georgia Brian Hochman Fantasy Expert
224 Keola Antolin, RB, Arizona Todd DeVries CollegeFootballGeek.com
225 Da\'Jon McKnight, WR, Minnesota Nathan Karp U-Sports.com
226 Josh Harris, RB, Wake Forest Mark Ross Athlon Sports
227 James Hanna, TE, Oklahoma Braden Gall Athlon Sports
228 LSU Defense David Fox Rivals.com
Round 20 Player, Pos, Team Drafter Affiliation
229 Ryan Bass, Idaho David Fox Rivals.com
230 Dillon Baxter, RB, USC Braden Gall Athlon Sports
231 Jeff Tuel, QB, Washington State Mark Ross Athlon Sports
232 Josh Chichester, TE Louisville Nathan Karp U-Sports.com
233 Ryan Radcliff, QB, Central Michigan Todd DeVries CollegeFootballGeek.com
234 Joseph Banyard, RB, UTEP Brian Hochman Fantasy Expert
235 Blair Walsh, K, Georgia Patrick Snow Athlon Sports
236 Danny Hrapmann, K, Southern Miss Corby Yarbrough Athlon Sports
237 Alex Gillett, QB, Eastern Michigan Steven Lassan Athlon Sports
238 Ted Bolser, TE, Indiana Joe DiSalvo TheCFFSite.com
239 Onterio McCalebb, RB, Auburn Chris Childers SiriusXM
240 Keith Price, QB, Washington Mitch Light Athlon Sports
Round 21 Player, Pos, Team Drafter Affiliation
241 Dustin Hopkins, K, Florida State Mitch Light Athlon Sports
242 Shawn Southward, RB, Troy Chris Childers SiriusXM
243 Zach Hocker, K, Arkansas Joe DiSalvo TheCFFSite.com
244 Florida Defense Steven Lassan Athlon Sports
245 Michael Bowman, WR, East Carolina Corby Yarbrough Athlon Sports
246 Iowa Defense Patrick Snow Athlon Sports
247 Ohio State Defense Brian Hochman Fantasy Expert
248 Penn State Defense Todd DeVries CollegeFootballGeek.com
249 Texas Defense Nathan Karp U-Sports.com
250 West Virginia Defense Mark Ross Athlon Sports
251 Phillip Welch, K, Wisconsin Braden Gall Athlon Sports
252 Grant Ressel, K, Missouri David Fox Rivals.com
Round 22 Player, Pos, Team Drafter Affiliation
253 Devin Street, WR, Pitt David Fox Rivals.com
254 Arkansas Defense Braden Gall Athlon Sports
255 Jimmy Ray Stevens, K, Oklahoma Mark Ross Athlon Sports
256 Will Snyderwine, K, Duke Nathan Karp U-Sports.com
257 Derek Dimke, K, Illinois Todd DeVries CollegeFootballGeek.com
258 Quinn Sharp, K, Oklahoma State Brian Hochman Fantasy Expert
259 Aaron Green, RB, Nebraska Patrick Snow Athlon Sports
260 Marqise Lee, WR, USC Corby Yarbrough Athlon Sports
261 Dan Conroy, K, Michigan State Steven Lassan Athlon Sports
262 Jordan Hall, RB, Ohio State Joe DiSalvo TheCFFSite.com
263 David Ruffer, K, Notre Dame Chris Childers SiriusXM
264 Eddie Lacy, RB, Alabama Mitch Light Athlon Sports

Follow Athlon Editors all year long for football news both of the fantasy variety and real-world variety at @AthlonSports on Twitter

Teaser:
<br />
Post date: Thursday, September 1, 2011 - 17:30
All taxonomy terms: Arian Foster, Ben Tate, Derrick Ward, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /news/fantasy-football-arian-foster-tear-or-tweak
Body:

Is there a more popular right hamstring in the world right now than that of Houston Texans running back Arian Foster?

Let's do a quick Google search...

Safe to say Foster, and the fate of his hamstring, means a lot more to people this time of year than the hamstring injuries of Indianapolis Colts receiver Anthony Gonzalez, Texas Rangers players Nelson Cruz and Adrian Beltre or that of Northern Ireland striker Jamie Ward.

No, we are talking American football here. And with American football comes fantasy football.

Foster, undrafted in many leagues last year as he raced to the top of the pack in running back points, is far from a free-agent pickup this year. Just a year later, the Texans running back is the top-ranked player on many fantasy draft boards — Athlon Sports included. That's why his now twice injured hamstring during the month of August has fantasy owners worried.

He has gone from nobody knowing who he is to everyone wondering about how he is. Of course, Foster would probably argue that people are wondering more about how he is at pertains to themselves and the future of their fantasy football leagues much more than they are about his actual health and well being as a person. You need only see his Twitter pout from earlier in the week about people being sick.

Of course that Tweet ignited a spark and now he is back on Twitter fending off the negative energy and announcing to all that will read that he will be fine, even sending out an X-ray picture of his hamstring.

Then ESPN gets an opinion from Dr. Michael Kaplan, saying he believe it's a hamstring tear.

What? What? What?

Foster. Tear. Fantasy Football. No. 1 pick. One of these things is not like the others.

Tear doesn't make fantasy football players feel reassured. Tear drops you from the No. 1 pick to, well, not all the way back to free agent pick up, but somewhere in the "he's a good value there range."

This is not like the Chris Johnson contract situation. Most believe Johnson would miss a game at most. If Johnson misses a week or two, so be it, he's still CJ2K and his 11 weeks of regular season fantasy football are going to be better than 13 weeks for many others.

The issue with Foster is this: It's hard to believe if you come into the season unhealthy that the grind of an NFL season is going to allow you to get better without missing games. And don't count on the Texans' bye week to give you a little reprieve as they have the last one — all the way in Week 11.

So what do you do?

If it's a tweak, I am still drafting him high.

If it's a tear, and reports are he may miss the first three weeks, meaning a return against Pittsburgh — you know the team that hardly ever allows big rushing performances — he drops, big time.

So that's basically missing him for four games. A quarter of the season would be lost. Of course in fantasy terms, that's four of 13 regular season weeks. If that's the case, he becomes about the 14th best back in my opinion — in the range of Shonn Greene, Mark Ingram and LeGarrette Blount.

One thing Foster may have going for him if he were to rest and give it time to heal is that even if you take a quarter of his production away from last season, he is still the best running back in fantasy football by 5.2 points. But few were expecting him to repeat his numbers from 2010. He didn't have to because he'd still be the best without them.

Certainly keep an eye on the situation and hope for tweak, but if you hear tear be prepared to run ... and then get great value for him in the third round.

In the meantime, Derrick Ward is the current No. 2 RB on the Texans' roster with Ben Tate, the fantasy favorite, listed third. Coach Gary Kubiak apprenticed under Mike Shanahan, and we all know how frustrating it can be to try and peg which Shanahan back is going to succeed (one only need look at this year with Tim Hightower, Ryan Torain, Roy Helu, Keiland Williams and Evan Royster). So the dreaded RBBC could be in the Texans' future, but for now, cross your fingers and select Tate.

— Corby A. Yarbrough @AthlonCorby on Twitter

Teaser:
<br />
Post date: Wednesday, August 31, 2011 - 21:20
Path: /columns/5-burning-questions/fantasy-football-never-reach-kicker
Body:

You read it, hear it, see it every season: Don't draft a kicker until you absolutely have to. Numbers don't lie. There's just no need to do it. Yet, people still do it. This draft season already, I've seen it happen with eight rounds to go, seven rounds to go, you name it.

Three rounds to go should be the absolute minimum and that is only if it is a deep roster and you've already filled out all the bench spots you can.

Here's why.

The greatest point differential from the first- to 12th-ranked kicker over the last decade has been 57 points, and that is nearly 25 points above the average point differential of 32.1 during that timespan.

There is very little consistency to the position, and the payoff for selecting a kicker any earlier than the last round is no greater than 2.0 points per game over the last 10 years.

And that differential is only at its fullest if you were to have selected the top-scoring kicker, a distinction that only one player has managed to accomplish more than once in the last 10 years. Jeff Wilkins holds that honor, but even the former Rams kicker did not remain in the top three in the year between his two first-place finishes — he was 22nd in 2002.

Only David Akers has been a top-three kicker each of the last three seasons, including No. 1 last season. And with the Eagles drafting Alex Henery, Akers was out of a job before signing with San Francisco.

That's this position in a nutshell.

Year No. 1 K No. 6 K No. 12 K Pt Diff. PPG Diff. Top Three Scorers
2010 143 125 110 33 2.1 Akers, Janikowski, Vinatieri
2009 146 125 108 38 2.4 Kaeding, Akers, Longwell
2008 148 127 124 24 1.5 Gostkowski, Carney, Akers
2007 141 127 118 23 1.4 Crosby, Gostkowski, Bironas
2006 143 117 113 30 1.9 Gould, Kaeding, Wilkins
2005 148 121 110 38 2.4 Feely, Rackers, Graham
2004 141 120 109 32 2.0 VInatieri, Elam, Reed
2003 163 120 106 57 3.6 Wilkins, Vanderjagt, Stover
2002 138 120 111 27 1.7 Feely, Carney, M. Gramatica
2001 127 115 108 19 1.2 Wilkins, Vanderjagt, Brown

The 10-year average is 32.1 points difference from 1-12 for an average of 2.0 points per game.

Oh, Henery!
So the Philadelphia Eagles parted ways with fantasy football's most consistent kicker over the last three seasons.

David Akers, the top kicker in fantasy football last season and the only kicker to stay in the top three each of the last three seasons, was shown the door following the selection of Nebraska's Alex Henery.

It may remind many of a similar scenario in 2006 when New England drafted Stephen Gostkowski to replace Mr. Clutch, Adam Vinatieri. Gostkowski came in as a rookie and scored 103 fantasy points — good for 18th among kickers. Vinatieri went on to the Colts and finished as the 12th-best kicker (113.0) that year.

So what should be expected from Henery, a first-team All-America selection at Nebraska? He was 54-of-54 on PATs and 18-of-19 on field goals — including 8-of-8 from 40-49 yards and 2-of-3 from 50-plus yards with a long of 53 — in 2010. And he takes over for Akers, who averaged 142.0 points per season over the last three years, including 143 points last season. Akers’ consistent scoring totals went from 144 to 139 to 143 over the last three seasons.

With Philly having primarily the same offensive pieces in place, there's no reason to shy away from Henery. And he might be a steal if other drafters avoid the rookie kicker. He does have an ADP of around 8 when it comes to kickers, but don't feel bad if you land him as the bigger names go off the board.

— Corby A. Yarbrough @AthlonCorby on Twitter

THIS WEEK'S POSITIONAL STORIES: QBRBWRTEKDST

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

2
011 Fantasy Football Rankings: Quarterbacks
2
011 Fantasy Football Rankings: Running Backs
2011 Fantasy Football Rankings: Wide Receivers

2011 Fantasy Football Rankings: Tight Ends

2011 Fantasy Football Rankings: Kickers

2011 Fantasy Football Rankings: Defense/Special Teams

Teaser:
<br />
Post date: Tuesday, August 30, 2011 - 07:00
All taxonomy terms: NFL, Fantasy
Path: /columns/5-burning-questions/fantasy-football-sacks-and-points
Body:

How do the three key fantasy positions — running backs, receivers and tight ends — perform around quarterbacks that are always finding themselves on the ground? Well, just because the QB is picking himself up off the dirt, doesn’t always mean his teammates are struggling to score points of their own. Here’s how the three positions averaged per game around their sacked quarterbacks in 2010.

Team Sacked RBs WRs TEs
Indianapolis 16 17.8 38.2 12.9
New York Giants 16 23.5 33.5 8.8
Atlanta 23 23.2 27.3 10.5
New England 25 24 26.7 17.1
New Orleans 26 20.4 33.7 13.2
Detroit 27 20 24.9 13
Tennessee 27 19.5 22.8 9.9
New York Jets 28 20.9 25.9 8
Cincinnati 28 16.4 33.3 6.8
Tampa Bay 30 18.6 23.7 11
Dallas 31 19.1 26.8 15.1
Houston 32 28.1 28.1 11.5
Kansas City 32 26.8 23 7.9
St. Louis 34 17.1 25.6 9.2
Buffalo 34 15.8 31.3 2.1
Seattle 35 16.4 26.4 5.7
Cleveland 36 18.7 15.8 11.7
Minnesota 36 21.1 22.5 7.3
San Diego 38 28.1 26.2 14.1
Jacksonville 38 22.2 20.5 12.4
Green Bay 38 16.7 34.9 7.6
Miami 38 18.5 27 6.4
Baltimore 40 22.5 24.7 8.6
Denver 40 18.8 34.9 2.2
Pittsburgh 43 20.1 29.7 6.7
Oakland 44 29.5 17.8 8.9
San Francisco 44 19.4 17.9 13.4
Washington 46 20.6 22.6 13
Philadelphia 49 21 31.8 7.3
Carolina 50 18.5 17 4.7
Arizona 50 14.4 26.9 2.1
Chicago 56 19.2 23.8 7

Here’s how the sacked quarterbacks performed in 2010

Player Sacked 2010 PPG
Jay Cutler 52 16.9
Joe Flacco 40 17.6
Philip Rivers 38 21.2
Donovan McNabb 37 15.6
Michael Vick 34 29.2
Kyle Orton 34 19.2
Sam Bradford 34 14.2
David Garrard 33 19.1
Jason Campbell 33 14.1
Jimmy Clausen 33 4.9
Ben Roethlisberger 32 20.5
Matt Schaub 32 18.2
Aaron Rodgers 31 24
Chad Henne 30 12.3
Matt Hasselbeck 29 12.3
Josh Freeman 28 19.2
Mark Sanchez 27 14.6
Carson Palmer 26 17.1
Matt Cassel 26 18.9
Tom Brady 25 23.2
Drew Brees 25 20.9
Alex Smith 25 14.6
Derek Anderson 25 8.4
Ryan Fitzpatrick 24 18.9
Matt Ryan 23 19
Colt McCoy 23 12.6
Jon Kitna 21 16.9
Troy Smith 18 14.5
Shaun Hill 17 17.2
Peyton Manning 16 22
Eli Manning 16 18.3
Kevin Kolb 15 9.6
Max Hall 14 0.7
Kerry Collins 13 13.5
Vince Young 13 12.1
Matt Moore 13 7.1
Trent Edwards 11 7.2
Bruce Gradkowski 10 10.1
Rex Grossman 9 10.3
John Skelton 9 7.5
Joe Webb 8 7.4
Tyler Thigpen 8 6.5
Tony Romo 7 20
Tarvaris Jackson 6 7.5
Matthew Stafford 4 20.2

Based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

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

1 point for 40 return yards

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

2
011 Fantasy Football Rankings: Quarterbacks
2
011 Fantasy Football Rankings: Running Backs
2011 Fantasy Football Rankings: Wide Receivers

2011 Fantasy Football Rankings: Tight Ends

2011 Fantasy Football Rankings: Kickers

2011 Fantasy Football Rankings: Defense/Special Teams

Teaser:
<br />
Post date: Monday, August 29, 2011 - 07:00
All taxonomy terms: NFL, Fantasy
Path: /columns/5-burning-questions/fantasy-football-second-half-performers
Body:

Want to know whose best efforts came in the second half of the season? Here’s a list of 35 players that scored at least 51 percent of their fantasy points from Weeks 9-17 of the 2010 season.

Player Pos. Team 2010 Pts Weeks 9-17
Santonio Holmes* WR NYJ 134.3 116.8
Jacob Tamme TE IND 120.6 105.2
Rob Gronkowski TE NE 133.6 100.5
LeGarrette Blount RB TB 134.6 94.5
Tim Tebow QB DEN 108.9 94.2
Devin McCourty CB NE 137.5 91.5
Marshawn Lynch RB SEA 127.2 89.2
Danny Woodhead RB NE 143.6 87.2
Jacoby Ford WR OAK 97 86.5
Rashad Jennings RB JAC 105.2 84.6
Brent Grimes CB ATL 129 84.5
Colt McCoy QB CLE 100.6 82.8
David Hawthorne LB SEA 108.5 80
Mike Thomas WR JAC 144.4 79.2
Dimitri Patterson CB PHI 92 74
Jimmy Graham TE NO 81.4 73.7
Ryan Mathews RB SD 129 73.4
Keiland Williams RB WAS 104.5 73.2
Donald Brown RB IND 92.2 70.6
Cameron Wake LB MIA 121.5 69.5
Alterraun Verner CB TEN 126 68.5
Desmond Bishop LB GB 126 68.5
Blair White WR IND 83.5 67.9
Earl Bennett WR CHI 98 66.9
Brandon Gibson WR STL 103.3 65.5
Jacoby Jones WR HOU 100.4 64.8
Robert Meachem WR NO 117.2 64.4
Geno Hayes LB TB 114 63.5
Carlos Dunlap DE CIN 62 59
Pat Angerer LB IND 83 56.5
Jordy Nelson WR GB 86.7 55.8
Mohamed Massaqoui WR CLE 76 54
Emmanuel Sanders WR PIT 61.6 54
Jason Pierre-Paul DE NYG 61.5 52
LaMarr Houston DE OAK 62.5 36.5
Return yards not included        

*Holmes missed the first four games due to an NFL suspension. He averaged 4.4 fantasy points in his first four games and 14.6 in his final eight.

Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:
All touchdowns are 6 points
1 point for 25 yards passing
1 point for 10 yards rushing/receiving
Receptions are .5 points
Interceptions/fumbles are minus-2 points

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

2
011 Fantasy Football Rankings: Quarterbacks
2
011 Fantasy Football Rankings: Running Backs
2011 Fantasy Football Rankings: Wide Receivers

2011 Fantasy Football Rankings: Tight Ends

2011 Fantasy Football Rankings: Kickers

2011 Fantasy Football Rankings: Defense/Special Teams

Teaser:
<br />
Post date: Friday, August 26, 2011 - 07:00
Path: /columns/5-burning-questions/fantasy-football-repeating-magic-season
Body:

Every once in a while there’s that player who has the “magic” season in fantasy football. But what does history say his next season will look like? Let’s take a look at those players over the five seasons prior to 2010 who led their positions and were at least 30 points ahead of their next-closest competitor in one season, and see how they fared the next season. A repeat is possible. However, it’s also worth noting that the two who did repeat their No. 1 ranking did not increase their points totals in doing so.

        Pts. Next Next Yr.
Year Player Name Pos. Points Year Rank
2010 Michael Vick* QB 467.1 ?? ??
2010 Arian Foster RB 358.8 ?? ??
2010 Jason Witten TE 199.2 ?? ??
2009 Chris Johnson RB 365.9 250.9 6
2009 Aaron Rodgers QB 395.8 360.5 3
2008 Tony Gonzalez TE 213.8 164.2 5
2007 Tom Brady** QB 490 3 59
2007 LaDainian Tomlinson*** RB 332.9 251.1 5
2007 Brian Westbrook*** RB 325.4 242.8 9
2007 Randy Moss WR 336.3 197.3 11
2006 Peyton Manning QB 369.5 335.1 3
2006 LaDainian Tomlinson RB 444.3 332.9 1
2005 Antonio Gates TE 214.6 181.9 1
2006 Adalius Thomas DL 157.5 131 2

*Vick played in 12 games last season but led in points per game. For the purpose of the chart, his 2010 point total is extrapolated for all 16 games, where he would have outscored Tom Brady by 96.1 points
**Brady tore his ACL in the first game of the 2008 season.
***Tomlinson and Westbrook were 1-2 in 2007, and the next-closest RB competitor scored 254 points.

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

2
011 Fantasy Football Rankings: Quarterbacks
2
011 Fantasy Football Rankings: Running Backs
2011 Fantasy Football Rankings: Wide Receivers

2011 Fantasy Football Rankings: Tight Ends

2011 Fantasy Football Rankings: Kickers

2011 Fantasy Football Rankings: Defense/Special Teams

Teaser:
<p> Every once in a while there’s that player who has the “magic” season in fantasy football. But what does history say his next season will look like? Let’s take a look at those players over the five seasons prior to 2010 who led their positions and were at least 30 points ahead of their next-closest competitor in one season, and see how they fared the next season.</p>
Post date: Sunday, August 21, 2011 - 09:00
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy
Path: /columns/winning-game-plan/fantasy-football-know-schedule
Body:

Some say you have to make the playoffs before you can even consider what the schedule for your fantasy playoffs may be. I whole-heartedly disagree. You need to at least have an idea of what kind of teams your players may be facing come playoff time, and that may be the deciding factor between drafting Player A and Player B. So here's a look at the three teams all 32 NFL teams will face during Weeks 14-16 of the 2011 NFL season — normally the playoff weeks for most fantasy leagues.

Athlon Sports 32 NFL Fantasy Locker Rooms

Arizona
Weeks: 14-16: SF, CLE @CIN

Larry Fitzgerald was third in targets (173) and fourth in catches (90) without a QB and now gets Kevin Kolb. Fitz should have a strong stretch run as he goes against the pass defenses of the 49ers (24th), Browns (18th) and Bengals (14th). All three opponents surrendered at least 96.7 yards rushing per game, as well.

Atlanta
Weeks 14-16: @CAR, JAC, @NO

So we’re all expecting the aerial game to improve for the Falcons, and the fantasy playoff schedule should cater to that. Matt Ryan threw a combined six TD passes and averaged 210 yards in the four meetings against the Panthers and Saints in 2010, and the Jags’ 28th-ranked pass defense is sandwiched in between. The porous run defenses of the Jags (22nd) and Panthers (23rd) are also inviting for Michael Turner and Co.

Baltimore
Weeks 14-16: IND, @SD, CLE

OK, Joe Flacco and Ray Rice owners, you have a solid chance at winning your opening playoff round, and if you make it that far your title game looks good, too. The bugaboo is San Diego, on the road, in the middle (No. 1 vs. the pass and No. 4 vs. the run last season). But you get the Colts’ 25th-ranked run defense and the Browns’ 27th-ranked run-stoppers on either side; Cleveland’s pass defense also ranked 18th.

Buffalo
Weeks 14-16: @SD, MIA, DEN

First, the good news: Get to your title game with Bills players and you get a Denver defense ranked 31st vs. the run and 25th vs. the pass in 2010. Now the bad news: You have to get through a Chargers D that was No. 1 vs. the pass and No. 4 vs. the run and a Dolphins D that was No. 8 vs. the pass and No. 7 vs. the run. In your favor: Two of the three playoff games are at Buffalo.

Carolina
Weeks 14-16: ATL, @HOU, TB

Cam Newton is a wild card. Houston will have never seen him, and Tampa Bay will have seen him just three weeks earlier. And let’s pray the RBs are healthy. If so, they get a Texans D that has switched to the 3-4 and a Bucs D that was 28th vs. the run last year.

Chicago
Weeks 14-16: @DEN, SEA, @GB

If you’re a Matt Forté owner, you have to like these three numbers for your fantasy playoffs — 31st, 21st and 18th. That’s where the Bears’ three fantasy playoff opponents ranked in run defense last season. And if you’re a Jay Cutler owner, the first two weeks aren’t too shabby either, as Denver (25th) and Seattle (27th) were both in the bottom eight in the NFL in pass defense.

Cincinnati
Weeks 14-16 HOU, @STL, ARI

Even if a small child is under center for the Bengals for the three fantasy playoff weeks, they should have success. Cincinnati draws the Texans (13th vs. the run, 32nd vs the pass in 2010), St. Louis (17th vs. the run, 19th vs. the pass) and Arizona (30th vs. the run and 23rd vs. the pass).

Cleveland
Weeks 14-16: @PIT, @ARI, @BAL

The Browns are the only team with three road games in the fantasy playoffs, with trips to Pittsburgh, Arizona and Baltimore. Cleveland’s strength — it’s rushing attack — will face the No. 1 (Steelers) and No. 5 run (Ravens) defenses in the league during this stretch. Not a good omen for owners of Peyton Hillis and/or Montario Hardesty.

Dallas
Weeks 14-16: NYG, @TB, PHI

Two familiar NFC East opponents (Giants and Eagles) make for a tough playoff draw. Add in an up-and-coming Tampa defense at its place and you’ve got a difficult fantasy playoff schedule. All three defenses were in the top 14 against the pass, but perhaps one of the Cowboys’ running backs can do some damage against the Bucs (28th vs. the run).

Denver
Weeks 14-16: CHI, NE, @BUF

Two of the first three playoff games are at home, and then Broncos owners get to travel to the 32nd-ranked rush defense that resides in Buffalo. Granted, the Bills drafted defense with their first four picks, but they still allowed 15 yards more per game than the 31st-place team (Denver). Knowshon Moreno, Willis McGahee and whoever else is driving the offense should be good title-game matchups.

Detroit
Weeks 14-16: MIN, @OAK, SD

Let’s be honest — we’re all looking at the Lions as a passing team. With that said, the playoff schedule is not friendly. All three opponents were in the top 10 against the pass last season — in fact, San Diego and Oakland were first and second vs. the pass, respectively. So maybe the Lions can run. Well, the Chargers (fourth) and Vikings (ninth) possessed top-10 rush defenses last year.

Green Bay
Weeks 14-16: OAK, @KC, CHI

Does it really matter what the Packers’ playoff schedule is? The Packers are so potent and their weapons are so consistent, that you are advised to take whatever matchup may come their way. Just for the record: Once the Pack gets past the No. 2 pass D that is Oakland, they will face last year’s Nos. 17 and 20 pass defenses, Kansas City and Chicago.

Houston
Weeks 14-16: @CIN, CAR, @IND

Gone are the days when we used to wonder only what pass Ds were going up against the Texans (for the record, they get the 14th, 11th and 13th pass Ds from a year ago). Need anymore of a reason why Arian Foster is the No. 1 player overall? The Texans take on the 19th, 23rd and 25th run defenses during their fantasy playoff run.

Indianapolis
Weeks 14-16: @BAL, TEN, HOU

Get past the Ravens and it could be smooth sailing for Peyton and Co. The Colts get two home games during the playoffs, and they are against AFC South rivals, Tennessee and Houston, which both ranked in the bottom 10 in points allowed to QBs and WRs. Manning averaged 321 yards and combined for nine scores with no picks in the four meetings last year against Tennessee and Houston.

Jacksonville
Weeks 14-16: TB, @ATL, @TEN

Just make it to the end, MJD. Waiting for you are two teams (Tampa Bay and Tennessee) that were in the bottom 12 in fantasy points allowed to RBs in 2010. MJD went for 186 yards on a bum knee in Week 13 vs. the Titans last year. Marcedes Lewis owners can rejoice if you make it to your title game as he gets a Tennessee team that ranked 26th against TEs the last two years.

Kansas City
Weeks 14-16: @NYJ, GB, OAK

This is not the schedule you want to see when you’re debating between Jamaal Charles and other top backs. The Jets and Packers were Nos. 2 and 3 against fantasy RBs last season and in the top five the last two years. Division rival Oakland surrendered just 140 yards on the ground, 60 through the air and one score to Charles in the two meetings combined last season. All three opponents were top six vs. the pass as well.

Miami
Weeks 14-16: PHI, @BUF, @NE

If the Fins want to run, they’ll do so against last year’s 15th-, 30th- and 20th-ranked fantasy defenses vs RBs. Of course, they managed just 287 yards combined in the four meetings vs. Buffalo and New England last season. Philly’s and Buffalo’s pass defenses were in the top half vs. fantasy WRs, but Marshall went 29-for-306 and a score in the four meetings with the Bills and Pats, while Bess was 26-for-260 with two scores.

Minnesota
Week 14-16 @DET, NO, @WAS

All three rush defenses were in the bottom half of the league against RBs last year, allowing at least 20.8 points per game to backs. So that has to excite Adrian Peterson owners. A word of caution, though: Two of the three playoff games are on the road, where Peterson’s average dropped by 15.6 yards per game, and he scored only four of his TDs last year away from home.

New England
Weeks 14-16: @WAS, @DEN, MIA

Tom Brady owners, feast your eyes on this: He starts the fantasy playoffs against defenses ranked 27th and 28th in points allowed to fantasy QBs a season ago. And if you can't decide between Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez, use them both, as the Pats face defenses that were 19th, 27th and 18th against TEs, all allowing over 9.3 points per game to the position.

New Orleans
Weeks 14-16: @TEN, @MIN, ATL

Get it while you can in that opening round against a Titans team that ranked 22nd vs. QBs, 19th vs. RBs, 26th vs. TEs and 23rd vs. WRs in fantasy points allowed. The Vikings are a little tougher with the sixth-best fantasy run D, 16th vs. QBs and 13th vs. WRs. The Falcons game could be a tough title round for Saints owners as their fantasy points allowed were 12th-best vs. QBs and fifth-best vs. RBs (but 28th against WRs).

New York Giants
Weeks 14-16: @DAL, WAS, @NYJ

Opening round and semifinal wins with Giants seem doable according to last year's numbers — the Cowboys (28th) and Redskins (26th) were bottom seven in fantasy points allowed across the board. Then there are the Jets. But here’s a silver lining for a Giants team loaded with receivers: The Jets were 19th against WRs last season (26.7 ppg) and 18th against QBs (17.6 ppg).

New York Jets
Weeks 14-16: KC, @PHI, NYG

The Chiefs, the Jets’ Week 14 opponent, were middle of the road against basically all positions. The Eagles, however, gave up the eighth-most points to QBs (19.6 ppg) and the most points to TEs (12.4 ppg). Expect little on the ground in your title game with Jets players, but the Giants gave up 18.0 points per game to the QBs and 26.3 to WRs.

Oakland
Weeks 14-16: @GB, DET, @KC

Not the best news in the world to see Darren McFadden heading out to Green Bay and Kansas City, sandwiched around a home date with Detroit, in the fantasy playoffs. The Lions and Chiefs each allowed at least 21 points per game to the RB position but should be improved. And Kevin Boss will have to face off against the fifth- and second-best defenses against the TE in Detroit (7.7 ppg) and Kansas City (7.5 ppg).

Philadelphia
Weeks 14-16: @MIA, NYJ, @DAL

Miami and New York were both top-10 defenses in fantasy points allowed, while Dallas was 28th. The Jets did surrender 26.7 points per game to WRs and 17.6 per game to QBs last season. So if Michael Vick, DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin and LeSean McCoy can get hot vs. the Jets, a trip to Dallas is enticing, since last year’s matchup saw Vick throw for 270 yards and two TDs, McCoy rush for 149 and Jackson catch four balls for 210 and a TD.

Pittsburgh
Weeks 14-16: CLE, @SF, STL

Well, the matchups are nice, but the scheduling isn't. All three fantasy playoff weeks see the Steelers playing on a day other than Sunday, including starting the playoffs on a Thursday. That's not an enviable place to be when you have to commit to a player that late in the season with it all on the line. And the matchups are all middle of the road, save for the 49ers giving up the second-most points to WRs last year (31 ppg).

San Diego
Weeks 14-16: BUF, BAL, @DET

Two games at home against teams coming from the East coast is a good start to the fantasy postseason. Rivers is a spectacular December QB, throwing for over 5,200 yards, 40 TDs and only 14 interceptions in his seven-year career during the month. Gates owners should be a little wary as Baltimore and Detroit were sixth and fifth against TEs last season. He opens against a Buffalo team ranked 31st against the position.

Seattle
Weeks 14-16: STL, @CHI, SF

All three opponents were in the top 12 in defending fantasy RBs last season. The matchup with the 49ers during the fantasy title game weekend is interesting for the Seahawks WRs, as San Francisco ranked 31st in the league in points allowed to WRs (31.0 ppg). All three opponents were in the top half against TEs as well.

San Francisco
Weeks 14-16: @ARI, PIT, @SEA

Seeing Pittsburgh on the schedule in the fantasy postseason is always scary, and even scarier when the key guy from this team is RB Frank Gore and the Steelers consistently shut down the run. Arizona (26.5 ppg) and Seattle (24.0 ppg) gave up the second- and sixth-most points per games to RBs, however, and at least 9.0 points per game to TEs.

St. Louis
Weeks 14-16: @SEA, CIN, @PIT

Something to consider when deciding whether to gamble on Steven Jackson: He draws the Steelers in Pittsburgh in the fantasy title game. You know, the defense that surrendered 63 yards per game on the ground in 2010 and rarely gives up a 100-yard game. Seattle gave up the third-most points to QBs (21.1 ppg) and sixth most to RBs (24 ppg) and WRs (30.4 ppg). The Bengals were middle of the road in most categories.

Tampa Bay
Weeks 14-16: @JAC, DAL, @CAR

This couldn't line up any better for the Bucs. Two games in warm weather and a Carolina defense 27th against QBs and 28th against WRs last season. The Jaguars and Cowboys were miserable against the QBs and WRs as well last year, finishing in the bottom eight against both. So if you are leaning on playing Josh Freeman and Mike Williams, this schedule says go for it.

Tennessee
Weeks 14-16: NO, @IND, JAC

It's hard to say what this offense is going to be like come Weeks 14-15-16. All three opposing defenses were in the bottom half against fantasy RBs last season, including the Colts (24.5 ppg) and Jags (23.7 ppg), who were in the bottom eight. Good news for Chris Johnson. But we expect the Saints, with former Titans defensive coordinator Gregg Williams calling the defensive shots, to improve, and the other two are AFC South rivals.

Washington
Weeks 14-16: NE, @NYG, MIN

The same could be said for the Redskins as the Titans: What will this offense look like come fantasy playoff time? Will it be back to the RB du jour for Mike Shanahan? Who will be QB by that time? All three defenses are respectable against the areas Washington may be good at: RB and TE. So for this fantasy playoff, simply run away.

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

2
011 Fantasy Football Rankings: Quarterbacks
2
011 Fantasy Football Rankings: Running Backs
2011 Fantasy Football Rankings: Wide Receivers

2011 Fantasy Football Rankings: Tight Ends

2011 Fantasy Football Rankings: Kickers

2011 Fantasy Football Rankings: Defense/Special Teams

Teaser:
<p> Some say you have to make the playoffs before you can even consider what the schedule for your fantasy playoffs may be. I whole-heartedly disagree. You need to at least have an idea of what kind of teams your players may be facing come playoff time, and that may be the deciding factor between drafting Player A and Player B. So here's a look at the three teams all 32 NFL teams will face during Weeks 14-16 of the 2011 NFL season — normally the playoff weeks for most fantasy leagues.</p>
Post date: Sunday, August 21, 2011 - 09:00
All taxonomy terms: Golf
Path: /columns/national-notebook/no-12-ernie-els
Body:

2011 Golfer Countdown

BORN: Oct. 17, 1969, Johannesburg, South Africa

FEDEX FINISH: 9

2010 PGA TOUR EARNINGS: $4,558,861

WORLD GOLF RANKING: 11 (as of Feb. 12, 2011)

GOLF CHANNEL’S BRANDEL CHAMBLEE GIVES HIS TAKE: Ernie Els will turn 42 this year, but thanks to a swing kissed by heaven, he still has time to add to his 70 worldwide wins and three majors. Ernie is one of the few players in the world who is far better on Sunday than he is on Thursday, thanks to experience and a magical wedge. But to bag another major he needs to putt better inside five feet.

CAREER PGA TOUR STATS (as of Feb. 12, 2011)

  • Events — 302
  • Cuts — 263
  • 1st  — 18         
  • 2nd — 16        
  • 3rd  — 18        
  • T10  — 115   
  • T25  — 183
Teaser:
<br />
Post date: Thursday, July 21, 2011 - 15:32
All taxonomy terms: Golf
Path: /columns/5-burning-questions/chamblees-take
Body:

The U.S. Open is not what it used to be — that is, the hardest test that the players faced each year. It is now more democratic in its punishments. In the last five years the winner has averaged right at 34th in fairways hit and a little better than ninth in greens hit. The five years before that, the winner averaged around ninth in fairways and sixth in greens. This change has given players a chance to win who under the old setups would’ve probably never been a factor, and as such makes it harder for the Hale Irwin types. You could also argue that it makes it more exciting, because recovery is now an option.

With all that said, though, Congressional might put a bit more bite back in the U.S. Open. It measures at a stout 7,574 yards, and the par-71 layout will be harrowing off the tee, especially on holes 6, 11 and 18. The sixth is now a great risk/reward par 5 that will allow for aggressive hole locations very close to the water. The 11th is a 494-yard par 4 with a creek running all the way down the right side that Tiger Woods played bogey, bogey, double bogey, bogey en route to winning in the 2009 AT&T National. The 18th is the old 17th hole, and a new tee will very likely leave the players with a mid-to-long iron from a downhill lie into a green heavily protected by water; this hole will make for a very exciting finish.

Contenders 

Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer will not be surprise contenders; everyone expects to see those two names near the top of a major leaderboard. But Rickie Fowler, Charl Schwartzel and Francesco Molinari might all surprise at the Open, because all are extraordinary shotmakers and seem destined for great things like Graeme McDowell was when he got to Pebble Beach last year.

Chamblee’s Pick 

In a bit of a stunner, Francesco Molinari could join his brother Edoardo, who won the 2005 U.S. Amateur, as a USGA champion by earning his first major victory at the 2011 U.S. Open.

Teaser:
<br />
Post date: Thursday, June 16, 2011 - 01:01
All taxonomy terms: Golf
Path: /columns/national-notebook/us-open-hole-hole
Body:

Irishman Graeme McDowell will try and defend his title this week as Congressional Country Club will play host to the U.S. Open for the third. Here is a breakdown of all 18 holes of the 7,574-yard, par 70 Blue course. Ken Venturi won in 1964, and Ernie Els was victorious in 1997. It also was home to the 1976 PGA Championship won by Dave Stockton. Tiger Woods’ annual AT&T National made the course its home from 2007-2009, and may return in 2012.

No. 1   I   Par 4   I   402 yards

This traditional par 4 introduces a classic golf course that dates to 1924. It could offer up an opening birdie should the tee shot stay out of the four fairway bunkers up the right side. Three bunkers flank a relatively flat green.

No. 2   I   Par 3   I   233 yards

Six bunkers protect the front and sides of a bowl-shaped green. The putting surface slopes from back left to front right with a ridge bisecting its midsection.

No. 3   I   Par 4   I   466 yards

There’s trouble on either side of the fairway: Trees left and three bunkers stacked up the right. The two pot bunkers on the right can be tougher to get out of than the two larger bunkers left of the green. A large sloping green has its share of tough pin placements. 

No. 4   I   Par 4   I   470 yards

One of the narrowest fairways on the course bends to the right through a chute of trees. It’s the first of several fairways on the course without a single bunker. A medium-sized green makes up for their absence with three bunkers in front. 

No. 5   I   Par 4   I   413 yards

A sloping fairway sweeps left from an elevated tee, almost in the shape of a crescent moon. Three fairway bunkers on the left corner attract balls like magnets. Three more bunkers surround the green.

No. 6   I   Par 5   I   555 yards

This tough par 5 defends itself better than most on Tour. Tee shots lost right can find two bunkers, a stream or out-of-bounds. Players having a go in two must fly two pot bunkers guarding the front of the green while avoiding a large pond short and left.

No. 7   I   Par 3   I   173 yards

Four cavernous bunkers swallow misguided shots to a scary green with multiple tiers. Depending upon the pin location, this green might provide the most severe putting test on the course.

No. 8   I   Par 4   I   354 yards

It might be unwise to have a go at the green off the tee  on the shortest par 4 of the course. The large bunker and stand of trees on the right keep most players from cutting the corner. Five bunkers circle a small, narrow green. 

No. 9   I   Par 5   I   636 yards

Can anyone conquer this long slog of a hole by reaching the green in two? Even tee shots that land safely between two fairway bunkers will likely require a layup short of a deep ravine roughly 100 yards from the green. Four bunkers in front and one back left protect the putting surface.

No. 10   I   Par 3   I   218 yards

Anything short of the green could get rinsed by the largest lake on the course. A bunker front right and two in back make club selection to this narrow green a guessing game. A spine cuts the green in half, sending most shots to a front right collection area.

No. 11   I   Par 4   I   494 yards

This straightaway hole — a par 5 for the members — falls from an elevated tee to a tight landing area that slopes from left to right toward a pair of bunkers. Four bunkers are stacked up the left side near the green. A stream up the right side leads to a menacing pond left of the putting surface.

No. 12   I   Par 4   I   471 yards

The fairway doglegs hard to the left off of a big fairway bunker on the right. It slopes right to left, sometimes pushing balls toward the trees. The second shot plays slightly downhill to a deep green protected by three bunkers. 

No. 13   I   Par 3   I   193 yards

Falling short into any of the three greenside bunkers is a mistake, but going long into a large mound is no picnic, either. Certain pin locations can be diabolical.

No. 14   I   Par 4   I   467 yards

With the right side of the fairway falling off, and out-of-bounds lurking to the left, players must trust their swings for a straight tee shot. A long approach shot from a downhill lie can be difficult to hit over four greenside bunkers.

No. 15   I   Par 4   I   490 yards

Four fairway bunkers stacked up the right side are easily avoidable with no such hazards on the other side. The challenge comes from the uphill approach to a green that slopes left to right and back to front, with a ridge in the middle. Three bottomless front bunkers and one in back cause concern as well.

No. 16   I   Par 5   I   579 yards

Most tee shots won’t roll much, landing into the face of a hill between two fairway bunkers on either side. Five bunkers — four on the right and the largest on the left — can snatch up daring second shots or careless third shots.

No. 17   I   Par 4   I   437 yards

Players must throttle back, making sure their tee shots don’t fly into a dreaded downhill lie from the rough in a valley at the 150-yard mark. A long skinny bunker to the right of the green complements the four smaller ones on the left.

No. 18   I   Par 4   I   523 yards

Congressional now saves it stiffest challenge for its last (this hole was the 17th before the 2006 redesign). By hitting a favorable draw off the tee, players set up their gut-check shot, an approach to a green surrounded by water and four bunkers.

Teaser:
<p> Irishman Graeme McDowell will try and defend his title this week as Congressional Country Club will play host to the U.S. Open for the third. Here is a breakdown of all 18 holes of the 7,574-yard, par 70 Blue course. Ken Venturi won in 1964, and Ernie Els was victorious in 1997. It also was home to the 1976 PGA Championship won by Dave Stockton. Tiger Woods’ annual AT&amp;T National made the course its home from 2007-2009, and may return in 2012.</p>
Post date: Wednesday, June 15, 2011 - 13:12
All taxonomy terms: Golf
Path: /columns/national-notebook/us-open-notebook
Body:

It's Open Season
For folks in the D.C. area, the arrival of U.S. Open week provides a nice break from Weinergate and more bad economic news. For a week, anyway, the focus is on golf, and there’s no shortage of storylines heading into this year’s Open at Congressional Country Club.

European Invasion 
This year’s U.S. Open leaderboard could include more Euros than a Swiss bank. There’s Rory McIlroy, last seen melting down at the Masters but still primed for a breakthrough; Luke Donald, the current occupant of the top spot in the World Golf Ranking; Lee Westwood, a popular pick to end his career-long major drought; Martin Kaymer, reigning PGA Champion; the Molinari brothers, golf’s leading brother act; and teenage phenom Matteo Manassero. And that’s not to mention defending champ Graeme McDowell, who’s struggling to find his form but plans to mount a credible title defense.

America’s Got Talent 
Don’t count out the Americans, though; there are candidates aplenty (this is D.C., after all). There’s Phil Mickelson, a five-time Open runner-up who seems to have found his putting stroke; Steve Stricker, a top candidate for a major breakthrough according to no less an authority than Jack Nicklaus; Nick Watney, who has seven top 10s in 11 starts this season; Matt Kuchar, perhaps the most consistent ballstriker on Tour; and Dustin Johnson, who’s a couple of final-round stumbles away from already holding that first major. Americans once dominated this event, winning 68 of 74 U.S. Opens between 1926 and 2004, but they’ve won only two of the last seven. They’d love nothing more than to reclaim their national championship.

Missing in Action
This year’s U.S. Open will be notable, at least partly, for who’s missing. Tiger Woods broke hearts in the boardrooms at ESPN and NBC with the following tweet: “Not playing in US Open. Very disappointed. Short-term frustration for long-term gain.” With that, golf’s primary needle-mover dampened national interest in our national championship while offering further evidence that Nicklaus’ record of 18 major championships that once seemed so close remains oh, so far away. The other notable absentee? Golf’s version of Old Faithful. For the first time in more than 17 years, they’ll have to hold a major championship without Vijay Singh, who had participated in 67 consecutive majors, the longest active streak in golf. That streak included the 2010 U.S. Open, where he was awarded a special exemption. During the course of the streak, Singh posted three wins —at the 1998 and 2004 PGA Championships and the 2000 Masters —and 21 top-10 finishes. But he hadn’t really contended in a major since finishing T6 at the 2006 U.S. Open, his most recent top-10 finish in a major.

What They’re Saying
A sample of comments from some possible contenders heading into this
year’s U.S. Open at Congressional Country Club.

Steve Stricker
“I enjoy the course. I’ve had some successes over the years there. I had an opportunity to win Tiger’s event there a few years back. You have to drive it well there. You’ve got to hit great iron shots there and you’ve got to putt well.”

Dustin Johnson
“I think the Americans, we’re playing really good right now. You know, the Euros, they’re tough. There’s a lot of good players, and they’ve been playing well in the majors. You know, one of us is going to have to step up and get a ‘W’ at the U.S. Open.”

Phil Mickelson
“I’d love to win our national Open. I’ve come close five times now, five second-place finishes, which is actually a good sign in the sense that it’s a course or a setup that probably nobody thought I would do well on throughout my career and yet I’ve played some of my better golf in the U.S. Open. And I just need a few breaks here and there or maybe a few less mistakes here or there to be able to come out on top.”

Congressional Country Club Blue Course
Bethesda, Md.
June 16-19, 2011
Defending Champion: Graeme McDowell

Congressional Notebook

• Congressional Country Club will host the U.S. Open for the third time. Ken Venturi won in 1964, and Ernie Els was victorious in 1997. It also was home to the 1976 PGA Championship won by Dave Stockton. Tiger Woods’ annual AT&T National made the course its home from 2007-2009, and may return in 2012.

• Playing against doctors’ orders, Ken Venturi battled oppressive heat and exhaustion with salt tablets and tea between rounds on a 36-hole final day at the 1964 U.S. Open, and used ice packs and wet towels to cool off en route to a final-round 70 to win by four strokes.

• Dave Stockton won the 1976 PGA Championship at Congressional by a shot with a winning score of one-over-par, the last time someone secured the Wanamaker Trophy with a score above par. It’s only happened three other times since the tournament went to stroke play in 1958.

• Slow play became a national issue at the 2005 Booz Allen Classic at Congressional when Rory Sabbatini putted out of turn on the 17th green and stormed off toward the 18th tee before partner Ben Crane finished the hole.

• During his second redesign of the course in a decade, Rees Jones transformed No. 10, the old closing par 4, into a par 3 in 2006.

TV COVERAGE 
Thursday — ESPN 10 a.m.-3 p.m; 5-7 p.m.; NBC 3-5 p.m. 
Friday — ESPN 10 a.m.-3 p.m; 5-7 p.m.; NBC 3-5 p.m.
Saturday — NBC 2-8 p.m.
Sunday — NBC 1:30-7:30 p.m. 
ALL TIMES EASTERN

Teaser:
<p> For folks in the D.C. area, the arrival of U.S. Open week provides a nice break from Weinergate and more bad economic news. For a week, anyway, the focus is on golf, and there’s no shortage of storylines heading into this year’s Open at Congressional Country Club.</p>
Post date: Tuesday, June 14, 2011 - 14:06
All taxonomy terms: NBA
Path: /columns/national-notebook/wife-swap-nba-edition
Body:

We all know LeBron's having his troubles on the court, but now there appears to be some problems off the court, too. Rumor has it that Rashard Lewis is messing around with LeBron's girl. Everyone involved denies it, but this certainly isn't the first time we've seen something like this go down. 

Here are our seven favorite rumors about NBA teammates who liked to share more than just the basketball.

Shannon Brown with Pau Gasol’s Girlfriend
The rumor: The first rumor was that Gasol stunk in the playoffs because he recently broke up with his girlfriend, Silvia Lopez Castro. Then word circulated that Castro dumped Gasol because of something Kobe Bryant’s wife said to her. And then? Well, we’ll leave it to Shannon Brown’s Twitter feed: “Ok let me put a end to this right now before it goes any further. I DID NOT SLEEP WITH @paugasolwoman!!! First and last time addressing it!”
Our verdict: We’re not sure who slept with who, but we’re positive Shannon Brown has the worst publicist in the NBA.

Jason Richardson with Steve Nash’s Wife
The rumor:
Steve Nash got divorced from his wife the day after she gave birth to their third child because he didn’t think the child was his. Apparently Nash saw the child and knew immediately from the color of the newborn’s skin that it wasn’t Canadian – or white. Then the basketball blogosphere damn near exploded when word got out that the father might be Nash’s ex-teammate Jason Richardson’s.
Our Verdict: The baby is whiter than Wayne Gretzky and Nash Tweeted a good luck message to Richardson in this year’s playoffs, so yeah, internet stories aren’t always “accurate.” (But they are “awesome.”)

Tony Parker with Brent Barry’s Wife
The rumor:
Eva Longoria wasn’t enough for Parker, who started messing around with Brent Barry’s wife, Erin. Hundreds of texts between Parker and Erin set off the Parker-Longoria divorce, which then in turn tore apart the Barrys. Some basketball analysts consider it the most impressive double-double of Parker’s career.
Our Verdict: Parker is French.

Shaquille O’Neal with Gilbert Arenas’ Fiance
The rumor:
These two were never teammates, but they did play on three All-Star teams together, so we’ll include them here. A leaked trail of e-mails linked the Big Philanderer to Laura Govan, who was Arenas’ fiance at the time. In one of the exchanges, Govan said she would meet with Shaq "as long as u taste me and make me cum LOL." Arenas was certainly not LOLing when he broke it off with Govan.
Our Verdict: We still don’t get how it’s physically possible for Shaq to have sex with anything smaller than a hippopotamus.

Delonte West with LeBron James’ Mom
The rumor:
The Cavs flameout in the 2010 playoffs was because Delonte West had been sleeping with LeBron James’ mom. Word got to LeBron in the middle of the Eastern Conference Semi-finals and the MVP and the Cavs immediately fell apart. LeBron then left Cleveland, joined D-Wade in Miami and completely shifted the balance of power in the NBA.
Our Verdict: Cavs fans are PISSED.

Karl Malone with Kobe Bryant’s Wife
The rumor:
The season after Malone made his last, desperate attempt at winning an NBA championship by riding Kobe Bryant’s coattails, he tried to ride another Bryant. At a Lakers game in his first year of retirement, Malone, who was wearing a cowboy hat at the time, turned on the charm with phrases directed at Vanessa Bryant such as, “I'm hunting for little Mexican girls.”
Our Verdict: If that happened this season, “I’m hunting for little Mexican girls” would be the most photoshopped sports meme since Cigar Guy.

Jason Kidd, Jimmy Jackson and Toni Braxton
The rumor:
In the mid-90s, Jason Kidd, Jim Jackson and Jamal Mashburn were dubbed the Three J’s and were supposed to return the Dallas Mavericks to prominence in the Western Conference. Instead, Braxton got between two of the Js on a road trip. Apparently Braxton was supposed to go on a date with Kidd in Atlanta, but when she went to the hotel to meet up with him, she left with Jackson instead.
Our Verdict: The Three J’s? That sounds like something you’d get your best friend on his bachelor party in Tijuana.
 

Teaser:
<p> &nbsp;We all know LeBron's having his troubles on the court, but now there appears to be some problems off the court, too. Rumor has it that Rashard Lewis is messing around with LeBron's girl. Everyone involved denies it, but this certainly isn't the first time we've seen something like this go down.&nbsp;</p>
Post date: Thursday, June 9, 2011 - 08:00
All taxonomy terms: NBA
Path: /columns/national-notebook/best-nba-finals-no-1
Body:

Basketball is the most individualistic of team games, and one player’s performance in a championship series can carry his team to glory. A strong enough performance can also transform the player from a star into a legend.

The list of dominant NBA Finals performances reads like a Basketball Hall of Fame roll call, and the best of the best do it more than once. If we were simply recounting the best Finals performances ever, Michael Jordan, Jerry West, Magic Johnson and Wilt Chamberlain would leave little room for anyone else.

In the interest of equal time for others, though, this list will make room for ten players. Only the best of their best Finals exploits will be among the classics, so the floor is left open for debate even on which year is Jordan’s best, or Magic’s, never mind the order in which they’re presented here.

These ten players gave NBA fans hundreds of breathless nights, but saved many of their best for the biggest stage of them all. This year, it’s up to the likes of LeBron James and Dirk Nowitzki to fight their way into this illustrious club, or maybe to Dwyane Wade to see if he can approach his first performance the way Jordan did in 1993. Who’s got the best shot? Let’s find out.

Here is No. 1 Nos. 10-8 & Nos. 7-5  Nos. 4-2

1. Michael Jordan, Chicago Bulls 1991

Jordan still holds the record for highest scoring average in a Finals series with his 41-point-per-game outburst against the Phoenix Suns in 1993. The Bulls’ first championship, however, was Jordan demonstrating his staggering versatility and command of the entire game, not just Jordan strapping the team to his back and doing all the scoring himself.

This isn’t to say that Michael wasn’t already capable of doing it all himself, as he dropped 15 in the first quarter and 13 in the fourth quarter of Game 1 en route to a game-high 36. He also carded eight boards, 12 assists, and three steals, but Scottie Pippen was the only other Bull to score more than six in the 93-91 loss.

Game 2 was a slow one early on for Jordan, as he concentrated on his newly assigned defensive mismatch against Laker center Vlade Divac. 20 minutes into the game, MJ had only two points. From there, he was unstoppable, making 13 straight shots and 15-of-18 overall on the night. His final line read 33-7-13 as the Bulls rolled 107-86.

Jordan’s shooting was a bit rockier in Game 3, a meager 11-of-28, but the last eight of his 29 points came at the perfect time. Michael drained a jumpshot with 3.7 seconds left to force overtime and then scored six of Chicago’s 12 points in the bonus frame. Behind Michael’s 29-9-9, four steals, and two blocks, the Bulls won 104-96 to take a lead they would never give back.

Game 4 looked a little like the first two for His Airness as he dropped 13 dimes to go with his 28 points. The Bulls only committed five turnovers all night, never letting L.A. get back in the game after they led by a point after one quarter. James Worthy and Byron Scott left with injuries, and neither would return in Game 5.

The Lakers’ fate seemed to be sealed by those injuries until Elden Campbell and Tony Smith responded well to the extra playing time. Magic Johnson recorded his second triple-double of the series, including 20 assists, but Jordan just had more bullets in his gun. Michael helped Scottie Pippen lead all scorers on the night, and picked up 30 points, 10 assists, and five steals himself in the 108-101 win.

Jordan’s free distribution of the ball, and his teammates’ ability to convert when he did share, opened up a lot of great looks for a man who could usually hit on the bad looks as well. MJ shot 61.5 percent from the field, 28-of-33 from the line, and averaged over 11 assists to go with his 31 points per night. Did he light up Phoenix two years later? Absolutely. But for a pure display of basketball skill, leadership, and teamwork, that 1991 series set a nearly impossible standard.

Teaser:
<p> Basketball is the most individualistic of team games, and one player’s performance in a championship series can carry his team to glory. A strong enough performance can also transform the player from a star into a legend.</p> <p> The list of dominant NBA Finals performances reads like a Basketball Hall of Fame roll call, and the best of the best do it more than once. If we were simply recounting the best Finals performances ever, Michael Jordan, Jerry West, Magic Johnson and Wilt Chamberlain would leave little room for anyone else.</p> <p> In the interest of equal time for others, though, this list will make room for ten players. Only the best of their best Finals exploits will be among the classics, so the floor is left open for debate even on which year is Jordan’s best, or Magic’s, never mind the order in which they’re presented here.</p> <p> These ten players gave NBA fans hundreds of breathless nights, but saved many of their best for the biggest stage of them all. This year, it’s up to the likes of LeBron James and Dirk Nowitzki to fight their way into this illustrious club, or maybe to Dwyane Wade to see if he can approach his first performance the way Jordan did in 1993. Who’s got the best shot? Let’s find out.</p>
Post date: Monday, June 6, 2011 - 02:15
All taxonomy terms: NBA
Path: /columns/national-notebook/best-nba-finals-4-2
Body:

Basketball is the most individualistic of team games, and one player’s performance in a championship series can carry his team to glory. A strong enough performance can also transform the player from a star into a legend.

The list of dominant NBA Finals performances reads like a Basketball Hall of Fame roll call, and the best of the best do it more than once. If we were simply recounting the best Finals performances ever, Michael Jordan, Jerry West, Magic Johnson and Wilt Chamberlain would leave little room for anyone else.

In the interest of equal time for others, though, this list will make room for ten players. Only the best of their best Finals exploits will be among the classics, so the floor is left open for debate even on which year is Jordan’s best, or Magic’s, never mind the order in which they’re presented here.

Here are Nos. 4, 3 and 2. (No. 1 on June 7) Nos. 10-8 & Nos. 7-5

4. Larry Bird, Boston Celtics 1986

Larry Bird had pondered the idea of sitting out the 1986 season with recurring back pain. If his back bothered him in the regular season, his averages of 25.8 points, 9.8 rebounds, and 6.8 assists made it hard to tell. When the Houston Rockets reached the Finals instead of the Lakers, the Celtics’ stellar frontcourt found itself staring down the barrel of skilled seven-footers Ralph Sampson and Akeem Olajuwon.

In Game 1, the Celtics maintained a balanced attack, led by Bird stuffing the stat sheet like few others in the league. His 21 points, eight rebounds, 13 assists, and four steals led to a lot of easy baskets in a 112-100 Celtic win. Game 2 featured more of the same. Bird racked 31 points, eight boards, seven assists, and four steals, and the margin of victory expanded to 22.

In Game 3, a Bird triple-double (25 points, 15 rebounds, and 11 assists) looked great, but once Bill Fitch put Robert Reid onto Bird, his shooting went downhill and the Rockets escaped with a 106-104 win. Bird just missed another trip-dub in Game 4, with 21 points, nine rebounds and 10 assists, and he drained a three-pointer to put Boston up 104-101. The Celtics hung on for a 106-103 win.

Kevin McHale was the only Celtic to have a great game in Game 5, but Bird came back strong in Game 6. He had 16 points, eight rebounds, and eight assists at halftime, finishing with a 29-11-12 line. A couple of threes in the third quarter helped the Celtics put the game and the series on ice.

Bird’s near-triple-double averages of 24 points, 9.7 rebounds and 9.5 assists made him an academic choice for Finals MVP.

3. Shaquille O’Neal, Los Angeles Lakers 2000

The Lakers hadn’t been to the Finals in almost a decade when they escaped a tough Western Conference Finals series against Portland. Their championship opponent, the Indiana Pacers, had a veteran team, led by Reggie Miller, Rik Smits, and Mark Jackson. There was also a familiar foe on the sideline in the person of Larry Bird, then the Pacers’ head coach. Unfortunately for the Pacers, Bird didn’t have a lot of answers for new Lakers coach Phil Jackson, and absolutely no one had any answers for a motivated, hungry Shaquille O’Neal.

By now calling himself “Superman,” among other names, Shaq was growing into the comparisons that many observers had made linking him with a young Wilt. Game 1 of the Finals looked like a vintage Chamberlain game, as O’Neal threw Smits, Dale Davis, and whoever else faced him all over the court. By the end of the 104-87 drubbing, Shaq had 43 points, 19 rebounds, and a nervous group of opponents.

The classic Hack-a-Shaq strategy was in full effect in Game 2, as the Pacers sent O’Neal to the line for a ludicrous 39 free-throw attempts. He made 18 of them. Despite Reggie Miller recovering from his 1-for-16 Game 1 nightmare with 21 points, the Pacers fell again, thanks to Shaq’s 40 points and 24 boards.

Kobe Bryant was unable to go in Game 3 after landing on Jalen Rose’s foot in the previous matchup, and the Pacers were able to score their first win despite 33 and 13 from the Big Nostradamus. Game 4 went to overtime, primarily because Shaq dropped 14 of his 36 in the fourth quarter. He fouled out halfway through overtime, though, and had to watch Kobe carry the team in the final 2:30.

Whether it was Kobe overworking himself, the Lakers putting Game 5 in cruise control, or just the Pacers being extremely motivated to protect their house from someone else’s celebration, L.A. absolutely crashed and burned in Game 5, falling 120-87. Shaq did his part with 35 points and 11 rebounds, but no one else scored more than 11. Kobe shot 4-for-20 for eight points.

Having coughed up a 3-1 advantage against Portland, the Lakers had to be conscious not to repeat the mistake. As the New York Knicks could attest, anything could happen with Reggie Miller on the court. Shaq roared for 15 in the second quarter, but the Pacers still led at halftime. By game’s end, Robert Horry and Kobe Bryant were the ones making the big shots, but thanks to Shaq, Rik Smits was never a factor in any quarter. Smits’ 1-8 shooting night may have made the difference in a 116-111 Lakers victory.

Only Elgin Baylor, Rick Barry, Michael Jordan, and Hakeem Olajuwon had scored 30 or more points in every game of a Finals series. Shaq equaled the feat, averaging 38 points, 16.7 rebounds, and 2.7 blocks while shooting 61 percent from the floor. He would record similarly dominant performances in the next two Finals, but 2000 was the year that Shaq proved he could finish in June.

2. Magic Johnson, Los Angeles Lakers 1987

Magic began making his legend by filling in ably for an injured Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in Game 6 of the 1980 Finals, and he had a great series overall that year. By 1987, though, Kareem was gliding toward the end and Showtime was in full effect. The Lakers were Magic’s team in ’87, and in the Finals against Boston, he led the team like a symphony conductor. Or, to use a comparison that a young Magic could allegedly appreciate, like George Clinton tearing it up with the P-Funk All-Stars.

Magic started off hot with 11 points in the first quarter of Game 1, and the Lakers never really let Boston into the game. Johnson racked 29 points, eight boards, 13 assists, and the Lakers’ humming offense shot over 55 percent in a 126-112 win. Game 2 was even better, as L.A. shot a Finals-record 61.5 percent. Five Lakers broke 20 points, mainly because Magic dropped 20 assists. He and Michael Cooper each tied the Finals record with eight assists in a quarter, Cooper in the second and Magic in the third. Johnson scored 24 himself, and the Lakers romped 141-122.

The Celtics were finally able to get on the board, winning Game 3 by a 109-103 count. James Worthy and Byron Scott struggled, but Magic kept the Lakers close with 32 points, 11 rebounds, and nine assists, shooting 12-of-18 from the field and making all eight free throws. In Game 4, Magic was unable to find his teammates for assists as easily as he had before, so he took matters into his own hands. He scored 29, including the famous “junior, junior skyhook” over the entire Boston frontcourt with two seconds left. The 107-106 win gave L.A. a 3-1 series lead and a chance to finish the Celtics in Boston.

Bird, McHale and company were having none of that noise, though, stomping the Lakers 38-23 in the second quarter of Game 5 en route to a 123-108 win. Magic recorded 29 points, eight rebounds, 12 assists, and four steals, but he wasn’t helped by Kareem, Scott, and Worthy shooting a combined 17-for-50. This time, it was Boston’s turn to have five 20-point scorers, like the Lakers had done in Game 2.

So, it was back to the Forum for Game 6, and Magic was harassed most of the night, shooting 7-of-21. He was very able to help out Worthy and Kareem, however, as they shot a combined 23-of-34 for 54 points. Magic’s 19 assists and eight rebounds made up for a relatively subpar 16 points, and a 30-12 third quarter gave the Lakers the cushion they needed to win the title, 105-93.

For the series, Magic averaged 26.2 points, eight boards, 13 assists, and 2.3 steals per game. He shot nearly 55 percent from the floor, and missed only one of the 25 free throws he shot in the series. Thanks to his pinpoint court vision, he was able to get good looks for just about all of his Laker teammates, as five other players averaged over 10 points per game. Few players have made their entire teams operate as efficiently as Magic was able to in 1987.

Teaser:
<p> <br /> Basketball is the most individualistic of team games, and one player’s performance in a championship series can carry his team to glory. A strong enough performance can also transform the player from a star into a legend.</p> <p> The list of dominant NBA Finals performances reads like a Basketball Hall of Fame roll call, and the best of the best do it more than once. If we were simply recounting the best Finals performances ever, Michael Jordan, Jerry West, Magic Johnson and Wilt Chamberlain would leave little room for anyone else.</p> <p> In the interest of equal time for others, though, this list will make room for ten players. Only the best of their best Finals exploits will be among the classics, so the floor is left open for debate even on which year is Jordan’s best, or Magic’s, never mind the order in which they’re presented here.</p>
Post date: Sunday, June 5, 2011 - 16:59
All taxonomy terms: NBA
Path: /columns/national-notebook/best-nba-finals-7-5
Body:

Basketball is the most individualistic of team games, and one player’s performance in a championship series can carry his team to glory. A strong enough performance can also transform the player from a star into a legend.

The list of dominant NBA Finals performances reads like a Basketball Hall of Fame roll call, and the best of the best do it more than once. If we were simply recounting the best Finals performances ever, Michael Jordan, Jerry West, Magic Johnson and Wilt Chamberlain would leave little room for anyone else.

In the interest of equal time for others, though, this list will make room for ten players. Only the best of their best Finals exploits will be among the classics, so the floor is left open for debate even on which year is Jordan’s best, or Magic’s, never mind the order in which they’re presented here.

Here are Nos. 7, 6 and 5. (Nos. 4-2 on June 6 and No. 1 on June 7) Nos. 10-8.

7. Wilt Chamberlain, Philadelphia 76ers 1967

Before he was dealt to the Lakers, Wilt the Stilt had already gotten a chance to shed his “can’t win the big one” reputation. He’d finally realized that averaging 50 points per game, as he’d done in 1962, wasn’t going to get him as far as he wanted. The fact that the likes of Hal Greer, Billy Cunningham, Chet Walker, and Wali Jones surrounded him in 1967 certainly helped, but this is not to say that Wilt couldn’t still dominate games in other ways.

San Francisco Warriors center Nate Thurmond was establishing himself as a big dog in the Western Conference, and his battle with Wilt was an interesting subplot to the ’67 Finals. In Game 1, Thurmond went for 24 points and 31 rebounds, but Wilt went one better. Chamberlain went off for 16 points, 33 rebounds, 10 assists, and stuffed Thurmond on a shot that would have ended the game in regulation. The 76ers won 141-135 in overtime.

Wilt became the first player to ever record two triple-doubles in the same Finals, let alone in back-to-back games, when he recorded 10, 38 and 10 in Game 2, a 126-95 Philly blowout. The scoring output wasn’t great, but it was better than Thurmond, who only managed seven points on 3-of-14 shooting. The Warriors won Game 3 130-124, but it took a 55-point explosion from Rick Barry to do so. Wilt went for 26 and 26, outdueling Thurmond (17 and 25) once again.

Chamberlain again took the back seat offensively in Game 4, taking only six shots en route to 10 points, but his 27 rebounds and eight assists helped the Sixers take a 3-1 series lead. Thurmond pulled 25 boards, but shot an ugly 4-for-18 for eight points. Blocks were not an official statistic in ’67, but Wilt is said to have recorded 15 of them in this game, which would have been his third triple-double of the series.

Game 5 was a more typical Chamberlain game for this period, with 20 points and 24 boards. The Sixers lost by eight, and Wilt’s equally typical 2-for-12 night at the foul line may have been a large cause. In Game 6, however, Wilt finished the series in style with another 20-20 night, 24 points and 23 boards, to be exact. He shot 8-of-16 from the line, a torrid pace for him. He again held Thurmond in check (4-of-13 field goals) and forced Rick Barry to carry the entire load for the Warriors in a 125-122 Philly win, capping a 4-2 series victory.

Wilt’s 29.5 rebounds-per-game average is still third all-time for a Finals series behind Bill Russell’s 1959 and 1961 efforts. He and Thurmond became only the fifth and sixth players to grab 20-plus rebounds in every game of a Finals series, and no one else has done it since. Wilt decisively won the individual battle, though. He outscored Thurmond 106 to 85, and his .560 field-goal percentage dwarfed Nate the Great’s .343. Chamberlain served notice that the court was still his yard.

6. Jerry West, Los Angeles Lakers 1969

West averaged 35 points per game in the 1965 Finals, operating as essentially a one-man team without an injured Elgin Baylor. In 1969, though, he did have an active Baylor on his team as well as the later-years, team-focused Wilt Chamberlain. So, why is this performance against the Celtics rated higher than the one from four years prior? Read on.

West exploded out of the gate with 53 points and 10 assists, dragging the Lakers to a two-point win in Game 1. The Lakers won again in Game 2 as West recorded another 41, nearly matching the output (43) of the equally sizzling John Havlicek.

In Game 3, the Lakers ate up Boston’s 17-point halftime lead and went into the fourth tied. This was West’s lone black mark of the series, as he and Baylor combined to shoot 1-of-14 in the final period, wasting the advantage gained when Havlicek took a finger to the eye from Laker guard Keith Erickson. West still finished with 24 points.

The Logo endured no such funk in Game 4, getting his output back up to 40. The same could not be said for Baylor, however, who managed only five points. The always-risky free-throw shooting of Wilt Chamberlain was a hindrance, too, as he went 2-for-11 at the line. Still, it took a play that Havlicek and Larry Siegfried used to run at Ohio State to get Sam Jones open for an 18-foot game-winner over Chamberlain. The final was 89-88, and the Celtics had tied the series.

Like Mikan in ’49, West was forced to endure an injury in his quest for the title, and it didn’t stop him personally. He poured in 39 in Game 5 despite incurring a hamstring injury, and the Lakers took a 117-104 win. In Game 6, though, it was a different story. West and Baylor both racked up 26, but West’s most reliable help in the series, backcourt mate Johnny Egan, was held to seven points after recording 20-plus in three of the first five games.

So, it was on to Game 7, where West was left annoyed at both his owner and coach by night’s end. Owner Jack Kent Cooke ordered hundreds of balloons to be suspended from the Forum rafters, planning for a victory celebration. The motivation spurred Boston to a 91-76 lead going into the fourth quarter. With Havlicek and Bill Russell each saddled with five fouls, the Lakers were able to cut the lead to 103-94 with six minutes left.

Chamberlain came down awkwardly on a rebound and left the game with a knee injury with five minutes to go, but the Lakers kept coming, and a basket by Wilt’s backup Mel Counts made the score 103-102 inside of three minutes. Chamberlain was anxious to return, but coach Butch van Breda Kolff refused, a move that infuriated West when he was told of it after the game.

The Lakers could never quite get over the edge and fell 108-106, but little of that blame could be laid on West. He recorded 42 points, 13 rebounds, and 12 assists, the first-ever triple-double in a Finals Game 7 and still one of only five in the seventh game of any playoff round. With his 37.9 scoring average, West was named the Finals MVP, and he remains the only Finals MVP to have played for the losing team.

5. Dwyane Wade, Miami Heat 2006

Like West, Wade was charging into the Finals supported by a center whose free-throw form could charitably be described as awkward. In Wade and Shaquille O’Neal, the Heat had their West and their Chamberlain, but sadly lacked their Elgin Baylor. Luckily for them, Wade was able to pick up all the slack against the Dallas Mavericks.

The Heat slouched through the first two games, dropping both. Wade recorded 28 points, six rebounds, six assists, and four steals in Game 1, but he went 6-of-10 from the foul line, Shaq went 1-for-9, and the rest of the team never even toed the stripe at all. This easily explained the 90-80 final score. Wade went 6-of-19 in the Game 2 loss, and wasn’t looking like an all-time great in any sense of the term.

Then came the next four games.

The Mavs led 83-71 with 8:33 to play in Game 3, but Wade took charge and scored 12 points from there, despite committing his fifth foul with 11 minutes left. His 42 points and 13 rebounds, plus his steal of a last-second lob pass, propelled the Heat to a 98-96 win.

Game 4 needed no such drama, as the Heat smoked Dallas 98-74 behind Wade’s 36 points. However, Wade did suffer a strained knee, forcing him to play in pain just like West had been in 1969. In Game 5, overtime was needed, and Wade dropped a free throw with 1.9 seconds remaining. The referees then dealt with a dispute over whether or not Josh Howard had foolishly burned Dallas’s last timeout. They ruled that he had and the timeout was taken, but rather than being iced, Wade coolly drilled the second to give Miami the 101-100 win. That capped off a 43-point night, by the way.

Wade’s icy foul-line demeanor deserted him in the closing seconds of Game 6, as he blew a pair that would have put the game out of reach, but Jason Terry missed a tying 3-pointer, and who should be there to rebound but Wade himself. 36 points, 10 rebounds, five assists, four steals, and three blocks made for a satisfyingly stuffed stat sheet as D-Wade and Shaq succeeded where West and Wilt could not back in ’69.

Wade attempted an insane 97 free throws in the six games, making 75 of them. He shot 37-of-46 in the last two games alone. All told, “Flash” averaged 34.7 points per game in the Finals. Not quite Logo level, but at least Wade got the ring.

Teaser:
<p> Basketball is the most individualistic of team games, and one player’s performance in a championship series can carry his team to glory. A strong enough performance can also transform the player from a star into a legend.</p> <p> The list of dominant NBA Finals performances reads like a Basketball Hall of Fame roll call, and the best of the best do it more than once. If we were simply recounting the best Finals performances ever, Michael Jordan, Jerry West, Magic Johnson and Wilt Chamberlain would leave little room for anyone else.</p> <p> In the interest of equal time for others, though, this list will make room for ten players. Only the best of their best Finals exploits will be among the classics, so the floor is left open for debate even on which year is Jordan’s best, or Magic’s, never mind the order in which they’re presented here.</p> <p> Here are Nos. 10, 9 and 8. (Nos. 7-5 on June 3, Nos. 4-2 on June 6 and No. 1 on June 7)</p>
Post date: Friday, June 3, 2011 - 00:38
All taxonomy terms: NBA
Path: /columns/national-notebook/best-nba-finals-10-8
Body:

Basketball is the most individualistic of team games, and one player’s performance in a championship series can carry his team to glory. A strong enough performance can also transform the player from a star into a legend.

The list of dominant NBA Finals performances reads like a Basketball Hall of Fame roll call, and the best of the best do it more than once. If we were simply recounting the best Finals performances ever, Michael Jordan, Jerry West, Magic Johnson and Wilt Chamberlain would leave little room for anyone else.

In the interest of equal time for others, though, this list will make room for ten players. Only the best of their best Finals exploits will be among the classics, so the floor is left open for debate even on which year is Jordan’s best, or Magic’s, never mind the order in which they’re presented here.

Here are Nos. 10, 9 and 8. (Nos. 7-5 on June 3, Nos. 4-2 on June 6 and No. 1 on June 7)

10. John Havlicek, Boston Celtics 1974

The Celtics had not been back to the Finals since Bill Russell’s retirement after the 1969 championship season. Five years later, Havlicek and role players Don Nelson and Don Chaney were the only links to that team. The Milwaukee Bucks had taken over since then, winning the 1971 championship behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (then known as Lew Alcindor). This Russell-less Celtics team had to rely on quickness and shooting ability to counteract Jabbar’s size. Even on 34-year-old legs, Havlicek still had both.

It was vital for Boston to make Abdul-Jabbar carry the load by himself, and in Game 1, they managed to do just that. Hondo helped hold Bobby Dandridge to 12 points, seven off his regular season average. Kareem went for 35, but Dandridge and Oscar Robertson shot 8-for-30 between them, and the Celtics won 98-83 in Milwaukee. Havlicek led the Celtics with 26 points, and added eight rebounds.

Hondo went cold in Game 2, shooting only 7-of-21, and also struggled with fouls. He was, however, able to take over in the fourth, scoring 10 of his 18 points in leading Boston back from 11 down to force overtime. The Bucks managed to survive 105-96.

In Game 3, Havlicek and Dave Cowens carried the load, combining for all but two of the Celtics’ points in the third quarter. Hondo accounted for 28 points, 12 rebounds, seven assists, and six steals as Boston took a 2-1 lead. At halftime in Game 4, the Bucks led by 10, but Havlicek scored 16 in the third quarter to cut that lead in half. The Celtics got no closer, however, and the Bucks regained homecourt advantage despite Havlicek’s 33 points.

Game 5 followed a similar script to Game 1, as Havlicek scored 28 points, pulled nine boards, and helped hold down Bobby Dandridge. Dandridge shot 4-of-17, aiding Boston’s 96-87 win. Game 6 lasted 58 minutes instead of the usual 48, but Havlicek never left the court. His 36 points and nine rebounds helped pull the Celtics back from a 12-point deficit to force two overtimes, but Kareem’s skyhook with three seconds left sent the series back to Wisconsin for Game 7.

Hondo had a difficult shooting night in the decider, but he and Cowens combined for 10 of Boston’s 11 straight points in a run that put the game on ice. His 16 points, nine rebounds, six assists, and three steals did just enough to help him clinch the Finals MVP award. Havlicek’s final averages were 26.4 points, 7.7 rebounds, and 4.7 assists.

9. George Mikan, Minneapolis Lakers, 1949

In the early days of the NBA, so early that the league was actually called the Basketball Association of America, entire teams averaged between 70 and 80 points per game. With that in mind, Mikan’s 27.5-per-game average in the ’49 Finals against the Washington Capitols (who were led by a clever young coach named Arnold “Red” Auerbach) is much more impressive than it sounds by today’s standards.

In the Lakers’ first-ever Finals game, “Mr. Basketball” dropped 42 of his team’s 88 points, dragging the Lakers to a four-point win. In Game 3, he recorded 35, despite fouling out with nine minutes to go.

Game 4, however, was the one where the legend of Mikan’s 1949 Finals was made. He was charging down the court on a fast break when Capitols forward Kleggie Hermsen shoved him from behind into the first row of seats. Mikan played on, but due to his grotesquely swollen right wrist, he missed his final 13 shots from the floor and Washington avoided elimination with an 83-71 victory.

The wrist injury was diagnosed as a fracture the following day, and a hard cast was placed on Mikan’s arm. That failed to stop him from taking the court for Game 5. He struggled to adapt to the cast, but still managed 22 points in the Lakers’ second straight loss.

When Game 6 rolled around, however, Mikan bludgeoned Capitols center Bones McKinney into submission, scoring 29 points and helping the Lakers finish off the pesky Caps 77-56. His 165 total points were more than any other two players on either team. Not bad for a guy with a busted shooting hand.

8. Julius Erving, Philadelphia 76ers, 1977

Dr. J had one of the rare transcendent Finals performances that simply fell short, as the Sixers lost to Bill Walton’s Portland Trail Blazers in six games.

The Finals got off to a great start for Philly when it took the first two games of the series. Erving shot almost 60 percent from the field and racked 53 points in the two wins. In addition, he harassed second-year forward Bob Gross into committing 10 personal fouls in a frantic struggle to contain the Doc.

In the final five minutes of Game 2, however, the pivotal moment came when Gross and Darryl Dawkins were battling for a loose ball. Tempers flared, and Dawkins threw a punch. He missed Gross, accidentally hit his own teammate Doug Collins, and then Portland’s enforcer Maurice Lucas entered the fray. Few were anxious to get between Lucas and Dawkins, and it took 10 minutes before the situation was calmed. Lucas and Dawkins were both ejected, but escaped suspension. That development proved unfortunate for Philadelphia.

Erving kept performing, racking 28 points, 11 rebounds, and five assists in Game 3, but Lucas matched him with 29 and 12 as Portland won by 22 points. The Doctor racked 24 in Game 4, but his usually reliable sidekick George McGinnis was held to five points and four fouls on 2-of-8 shooting in only 19 minutes. Portland smoked the Sixers 130-98.

Philly needed more, so Erving obliged in Game 5 with 37 points, nine rebounds and seven assists. Doug Collins chipped in 23, but the Sixers couldn’t hang with Portland’s balanced attack. The Blazers did lead by 22 with only 8:30 to play, until the Sixers resorted to a full-court press. Five minutes later, the lead was trimmed to five, thanks to 13 points from Erving and 10 more from Collins. The SIxers fell just short, 110-104.

The Blazers once again came close to losing a sizeable lead in Game 6, up by 12 with six minutes remaining. Erving and McGinnis, who finally came to play, recording 28 points, pulled it back to a one-possession game in the final minute. Both men, along with noted gunner World B. Free, missed looks that would have forced overtime, and the Blazers escaped 109-107 to win the title. The Doctor recorded 40 points, but Bill Walton’s 20 points, 23 rebounds, seven assists, and eight blocks were just enough to put Philly away.

Dr. J averaged over 30 points per game, along with 6.8 rebounds and five assists, but he got little help from McGinnis, who had only carded 50 points in the first five games.

Teaser:
<p> Basketball is the most individualistic of team games, and one player’s performance in a championship series can carry his team to glory. A strong enough performance can also transform the player from a star into a legend.</p> <p> The list of dominant NBA Finals performances reads like a Basketball Hall of Fame roll call, and the best of the best do it more than once. If we were simply recounting the best Finals performances ever, Michael Jordan, Jerry West, Magic Johnson and Wilt Chamberlain would leave little room for anyone else.</p> <p> In the interest of equal time for others, though, this list will make room for ten players. Only the best of their best Finals exploits will be among the classics, so the floor is left open for debate even on which year is Jordan’s best, or Magic’s, never mind the order in which they’re presented here.</p>
Post date: Thursday, June 2, 2011 - 00:59
All taxonomy terms: Dallas Mavericks, Miami Heat, NBA, NBA
Path: /columns/national-notebook/athlon-nba-finals-predictions
Body:

The NBA Finals begin Tuesday night and the Athlon Staff is truly split between which team they think is going to hoist the Larry O'Brien Championship Trophy at the end. Three things we can agree on: the series won't be a sweep, it won't go less than six games and the winner will be crowned in an American Airlines sponsored arena.

Braden Gall @AthlonBraden on Twitter
Call me crazy but I think the Mavericks win the 2006 Finals rematch. The NBA is about your time. It was Jordan's time. Then it was Shaq's time. Then it was Duncan's time. Then Kobe and KG. LeBron will has his time — maybe the next 3-6 years. But now is Dirk's time. Notwitzki is the MVP of the playoffs thus far, Dallas has a much deeper bench and supporting cast and plays dramatically better defense than it has in years past. They have a Hall of Fame point guard and the unstoppable German force scoring at will. I know how talented the Heat are and how good Bron-Bron has been in the fourth quarter (finally), but D-Wade is not playing his best ball and Dallas has a clear advantage at the 1 and the 5. They are rolling and there seems to be something special happening this year in Big-D. DALLAS in 6

Mitch Light @AthlonMitch on Twitter
Dirk Nowitzki is obviously playing incredible basketball right now, but Miami has two elite players in LeBron James and Dwyane Wade and one other very good player in Chris Bosh. The Mavs simply can't match that firepower. Jason Kidd is playing at a high level, and Dallas' role players are playing their roles well, but it will be difficult for the Mavs to match the Heat's personnel. MIAMI in 6

Rob Doster @AthlonDoster on Twitter
Dirk Nowitzki is playing like a man possessed in these playoffs, averaging 32 points in the conference finals, including 12 in the fourth quarter. Nowitzki will earn sweet redemption against the franchise that denied him his long-awaited title in 2006. DALLAS in 7

Charlie Miller @AthlonCharlie on Twitter
Miami is committed to defense and will be able to control Dirk. The Heat are comfortable playing defensive, grind-it-out games. MIAMI in 6

Patrick Snow @AthlonSnowman on Twitter
Both the Mavericks and Heat are playing their best ball right now.  Miami has a formidable squad with the Big 3, but I like the Dallas veterans — Nowitzki, Kidd, Terry, Marion — to come through late with games on the line. The Heat may have one game in this series where they run away early, but most of these contests will be decided in the last five minutes. I trust the Mavericks to make more winning plays in those clutch situations and beat the Heat in six games. DALLAS in 6

Steven Lassan @AthlonSteven on Twitter
I think this should be an entertaining series and one that even casual NBA fans can get into. After getting LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade in the offseason, this is where most expected the Heat to be, even after a slow start. The Miami defense versus the Dallas offense will be the matchup to watch. The Mavericks seem to have more depth, which could work in their favor if the series goes seven games. However, Miami has the edge in terms of home court if the series goes the full length. DALLAS in 7

Corby Yarbrough @AthlonCorby on Twitter
There's part of me that says the Heat have gone through the league's top two defenses in the last two rounds and landed in the Finals against a Dallas team that certainly has improved defensively this season but is not considered a juggernaut. The other part of me when I think of Miami says: "If the Bulls had one more player to help out Derrick Rose they would be playing Dallas and not Miami." Dallas, on the other hand, has cruised through these playoffs for the most part. The Mavs have the second-best offense in the playoffs (99.7 ppg), have already lost to the Heat in their only other trip to the finals, have Games 3-5 at home and have Dirk Nowitzki. But I think the Heat have just turned on another gear in the postseason, are finally clicking and the basketball Gods put the Big Three together for a reason and this is it. MIAMI in 6

Mark Malone
Udonis Haslem will be the pivotal difference maker in Game 5. MIAMI in 6
 

Teaser:
Post date: Tuesday, May 31, 2011 - 12:59
All taxonomy terms: Dallas Mavericks, Miami Heat, NBA, NBA
Path: /columns/national-notebook/nba-finals-seven-questions
Body:

Dwyane Wade and Dirk Nowitzki matched up in the 2006 NBA Finals, and Wade pulled out a hard-fought win. Neither man has been this close to the Larry O’Brien Trophy since then.

The Heat had to completely burn the house down and rebuild with an all-new supporting cast for Wade. Perhaps you’ve heard of them. Dirk’s got a whole new crew surrounding him as well, but the other Mavericks aren’t quite as feared as the players who flank D-Wade.

So, who takes the 2011 edition of the NBA Finals? Wade and his hired-gun running mates LeBron James and Chris Bosh? Or Dirk and his veteran backing group of Kidd, Peja, Tyson and the Jet? Here are a few key questions to ask along the way.

QUESTION No. 1: How outside-the-box will Erik Spoelstra’s defense get?
We’ve seen Heat coach Erik Spoelstra sic LeBron James on Derrick Rose, and watched the MVP completely implode. It’s academic that he’ll save LeBron for late-game situations on Dirk as well.

But what of another major matchup?

Jason Kidd could breathe a sigh of relief over seeing Mike Bibby or Mario Chalmers lined up against him. Compared to chasing around Russell Westbrook and Eric Maynor in the Western Conference Finals, this series could seem like a vacation. Unless, of course, Coach Spo wants to keep Kidd off-balance from the get-go and makes him contend with Dwyane Wade.

If Jason Terry’s in the game this isn’t a likely scenario. However, what do the Heat really have to lose from putting Wade on Kidd if DeShawn Stevenson is the other guard on the court? Stevenson’s last double-figure scoring game came against the Knicks on Feb. 2, and scoring 10 on the Knicks is about as difficult as outdriving Sheriff Buford T. Justice.

Wade could have a little bit of flexibility to roam and help out on Shawn Marion or even on Dirk, since he can be trusted to cover a lot more ground than Bibby or Chalmers in getting back to stop Kidd’s jump shot, which is only slightly less creaky than Charles Barkley’s golf swing.

Letting Kidd calmly examine the defense and find the best spots to attack is inviting disaster. If the officials want to call the game tightly and make it hard for LeBron or Bosh to swoop in with last-second blocks, the Heat will lose a large defensive advantage.

QUESTION No. 2: Are we forgetting about Dallas’s inside game?
With every pair of eyes on the court straining to keep Dirk in focus, the possibility of early production from other sources increases. Hard cuts to the basket by Shawn Marion or sneaky Kidd lob passes to Tyson Chandler could prove dangerous weapons in the Mavericks’ arsenal. If the Heat have to sag any further into the lane, players like Terry and Peja Stojakovic could make a very decent living picking up the leftovers from outside.

Having the veteran presence of Udonis Haslem may be the biggest bonus of all for Miami in this series. If Joel Anthony was left to his own devices, he’d be unlikely to last long, unless the officials let him body Dirk the way Nick Collison sometimes did in the West finals.

Haslem’s got famous experience against Dirk, and being able to utilize him allows Anthony to play in a more comfortable role as a help defender. If Marion catches LeBron eyeballing Dirk and gets into the lane for a pass, Anthony’s quick enough to get into position to contest. More Haslem means less of Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Juwan Howard, or Jamaal Magloire, none of whom were quick-footed defensive giants even in their primes.

QUESTION No. 3: How good a chess player can Rick Carlisle be?
Jason Terry is not a great defensive stopper, but for Dallas’s humming offense to remain so, he’ll need to play a lot of minutes. It’s likely that when Miami has the ball he’ll be the guy shadowing either Bibby or Chalmers whenever one of them is on the floor. This could be a problem.

J.J. Barea and Peja Stojakovic have their difficulties defensively as well, and if Terry’s following the point guard of the moment it’s hard to find someone for them to cover. LeBron and Wade would get to the basket at will against those two, turning every game into an ABA-style track meet.

Dallas is not equipped to run with Miami all night, every night, so Rick Carlisle has to watch diligently in search of chances to play Peja and J.J. Both have the ability to make the Mavs’ offense one to fear, but they make the defense easy to forget.

Whenever LeBron and/or Wade is on the bench, a sight which will become increasingly rare as the series wears on, expect to see one of Dallas’s bench weapons sprint to the scorers’ table. If all three Mo-Heat-os are playing all 48 minutes, though, Carlisle could be playing Russian roulette leaving his gunners on the court for long stretches.

Perhaps against the Heat’s interesting new crunch time lineup (LeBron-Wade-Bosh-Haslem-Mike Miller), Peja could be hidden out against Miller. But, given that Miller went for 12 points and nine rebounds in Game 4 against the Bulls, even that might be dangerous.

QUESTION No. 4: How much can Dallas rely on a zone defense?
When the Mavs and Heat faced off in the regular season, it was the height of the “OMG, Miami’s a .500 team, we knew these guys were a bunch of egotistical scrub failures” craze. LeBron and Wade were perfectly content to sit back and fire up jumpers against the Mavs’ zone, to the tune of 3-for-17 from the floor, according to Synergy Sports.

This new, improved Heat team has a little more patience to calmly and intelligently attack a zone. Wade knows how to find the soft spots, Bosh has the ability to hit foul-line jumpers over smaller defenders, and someone’s going to feel like they’re standing in front of a tank if they want to draw a charge on LeBron.

Haslem, Miller, and James Jones may get the occasional look if the defense overplays onto the big three, but it’ll still be hard to stay back and passive against a more hardened Heat team.

QUESTION No. 5: Could Chris Bosh win Finals MVP?
On a team with LeBron and D-Wade, it seems ludicrous to think that Bosh could get much in the way of credit if the Heat win the championship. It’s less ludicrous than it seemed two weeks ago, though.

In Game 4 against Chicago, Wade took some ill-advised shots and occasionally reduced himself to a spectator role. In Game 5, he came alive in the fourth quarter, but there was still the matter of his nine turnovers. He’s been far enough out of sorts in the last couple of games that there’s still recurring speculation that he’s not 100 percent coming into the series.

Meanwhile, Bosh is in the center of the storm in these Finals, being the man expected to lead the charge against that irresistible force Dirk Nowitzki. He scored over 23 points per game against the Bulls, shooting 59 percent from the field. If he equals or betters those numbers, it’s a good series. If he helps hold Dirk below those levels, it’s an epic effort, the Heat win the series easily, and…well, okay, LeBron’s probably still going to win MVP because few will remember to look at Dallas’s stat sheet too.

QUESTION No. 6: Who are the most important guys that no one’s talking about?
For Dallas, it’s Tyson Chandler. Chandler has to be able to protect the rim from the slashing LeBron, Wade, and Bosh. He has to produce offense on the low block to take heat off of Dirk’s mid-range game and disrupt defensive rotations. And he has to do all this while staying out of foul trouble. If the Mavs have to resort to playing Dirk at center, things could get very ugly very fast, as they did against the Thunder. Likewise if Brendan Haywood has to play long minutes.

For Miami, James Jones has been a forgotten man. Since playing 24 minutes in Game 1 against the Bulls, he’s played a grand total of two. If the Heat have problems cracking the Dallas zone, his 3-point stroke may prove handy. Mike Miller was brought in during the offseason feeding frenzy to be the designated floor-spacer, but he’s only shot 4-for-19 from deep in the playoffs. Jones has hit 17 of 37.

QUESTION No. 7: Who’s winning the series?
Seven questions, seven games. This series should go the distance, one way or the other. There will be a couple of games where Carlisle’s able to get his bench scorers some minutes. There will be a couple of games where the Mavs can’t keep anyone away from the rim. The Heat will have a game where Wade and LeBron settle for jumpers all night. LeBron will come close to at least one triple-double, and Dirk will go for 40 at least once.

Unfortunately for everyone who’s dying to see LeBron get his comeuppance for trying to rig the NBA season, it seems very difficult to predict the Mavericks winning. Dallas’s weaknesses seem to dovetail perfectly with what Miami does well. Meanwhile, Miami’s weaknesses, inconsistent point guard play and a lack of depth, can be easily papered over. LeBron and Wade can handle the ball most of the time anyway, and the Heat have been scaling back to an eight-man rotation since they’ve stopped using James Jones and Zydrunas Ilgauskas.

PREDICTION: Heat in 7.
 

Teaser:
<p> So, who takes the 2011 edition of the NBA Finals? Dwyane Wade and his hired-gun running mates LeBron James and Chris Bosh? Or Dirk Nowitzki and his veteran backing group of Jason Kidd, Peja Stojakovic, Tyson Chandler and the Jason Terry? Here are a few key questions to ask along the way.</p>
Post date: Tuesday, May 31, 2011 - 00:58
All taxonomy terms: Dallas Mavericks, Miami Heat, NBA, NBA
Path: /columns/national-notebook/nba-finals-go
Body:

Get everything you need about the two teams left standing in the NBA Playoffs all in one place.

Eastern Conference Champion

No. 2 seed Miami Heat

Western Conference Champion

No. 3 seed Dallas Mavericks

Athlon Sports Seven Questions of the NBA Finals

Athlon Sports Staff Finals Predictions

Athlon Sports Pre-Playoff Predictions

Teaser:
<p> Get everything you need about the two teams left standing in the NBA Playoffs all in one place.</p>
Post date: Tuesday, May 31, 2011 - 00:57
All taxonomy terms: NFL, Fantasy
Path: /columns/winning-game-plan/nfl-draft-tweeting
Body:

After spending three days behind a computer screen, Tweeting to my heart's content about the NFL Draft and how I think it affects the world of fantasy football, I have compiled for you and your reading pleasure the three days that were in the world of @AthlonCorby on Twitter and the NFL Draft.

Check back to AthlonSports.com for NFL Draft grades and fantasy football winners and losers this week.

• DAY 1 (Thursday) •

The first round of the 2011 NFL Draft is over. I spent the first round glued to NFL Network, the Internet and Twitter and sent out the first thing that came to my mind in regards of the first 32 picks and how they will affect the 2011 fantasy football season.

Newton should shine for one year just as VY did. Then what? Steve Smith South poised for another bad year. NFL Draft fantasyfootball angle

Von Miller only helps a Broncos D that was league worst. More opportunities for Knowshon, Lloyd and Tebow/Orton. NFL Draft fantasyfootball

Just as Broncos needed Miller to make stops, Bills worst against run and needed Dareus to plug holes. Spells more possessions 4 BUF offense

A.J. Green to CIN is great but what about Gresham, Simpson, Shipley. Too many mouths to feed. Similar to GB NFL Draft fantasyfootball

DRC and Peterson as the Cardinals DBs. Yes, please!

Julio Jones, Roddy White, Matt Ryan. The new big three? Oh, and a not-so Burner Turner still in the backfield. NFL Draft fantasyfootball

In 2010 Locker at 8 would've been a steal for TEN. Can't throw him 2 the wolves so expect a veteran in the lineup NFL Draft fantasyfootball

Whether it be Barber, Felix or Romo, Smith bolsters a struggling OL from last year. NFL Draft fantasyfootball

Gabbert to JAX a good fit. What a throwback: High-draft QB can actually learn a bit behind Garrard. Not much fantasyfootball affect for 2011

J.J Watt a great pick for a terrible HOU defense. More fantasyfootball opportunities for an already potent Texans offense NFL Draft

So here's the interesting thing for a few of the top fantasyfootball RBs: Locker and Chris Johnson, Gabbert and MJD, Ponder and AP (AD).

The lives of AP, Grant/Starks & Forte just became even tougher with DET selection of Fairley to go w/Suh. WOW! fantasyfootball NFL Draft

Chris Long and Quinn now on the D ends for STL. Build up that D and get the offense healthy and the Rams R dangerous in a terrible division

So does Pouncey over Mallet mean MIA is taking another stab at Henne? Give him protection and another shot at it in 2011.

Why does WAS not draft Prince here? Better chance to rush the NFC E QBs and get to them or take Prince to stop the NFC E WRs fantasyfootball

Already the best D in the league (yards allowed per game), and now SD gets Liuget. Look out Run DMc, Charles and Knowshon

So WAS passes on Prince to shutdown all the great receivers in the NFC E. NYG says thanks and drafts Prince to do the same fantasy football

TB, CLE, NO beef up on the DL; IND, PHI, SEA bolster run game.

Bowe, Charles keep it up, Cassel stays solid & Baldwin can roll right in and be a great fantasyfootball find for KC in this year's NFL Draft

Ravens pass on 26 and come back to still get CB Smith to help a BAL D ranked 21st v the pass

Pierre, Reggie, Ivory & drafting Mark Ingram? An already diluted fantasyfootball offense for the Saints just became a little more confusing

Cutler cries tears of joy; the Bears actually decided 2 protect him. Improves fantasyfootball value 4 Cutler, Knox, Forte & maybe even Olsen

Jets, Steelers gets defensive guys they can use all over the line. Bolsters what are already two good fantasyfootball defenses to have

Super Bowl champions select OT Sherrod in the NFLDraft. Grant/Starks, Rodgers and the Packer offense rejoices

• DAY 2 (Friday) •

The second day of the 2011 NFL Draft is over. With NFL.com streaming the Draft at the top left of my computer screen and Sirius NFL Radio blaring out of the speakers, I was hooked on the second day of the draft — which started way too early at 5 p.m. in the Central time zone and still should be a Saturday-Sunday affair, but I digress. Just as I did for Round 1, I spent the two rounds glued to NFL Network, Sirius NFL Radio, the Internet and Twitter and sent out the first thing that came to my mind in regards of the second day of drafting and how the picks made on Friday will affect the 2011 fantasy football season.

Completely agree RT @YahooNoise: Biggest fantasy winner in RD 1: Julio Jones. Could be 2011's Mike Williams… (cont) http://deck.ly/~g0VH9

B2B QBs from Bengals and 49ers; Dalton & Kaepernick each have solid WRs in Green and Crabtree and solid OLs #NFLDraft #fantasyfootball

Beanie experiment over already for Cardinals? VaTech stud Ryan Williams could make instant impact #NFLDraft #fantasyfootball

Titans 4-3 D that needs run stoppers goes with a 3-4 LB that tanked it at the Combine? Interesting #NFLDraft

Shiancoe shined 2 years ago and now Kyle Rudolph joins the Vikings. Ponder-Rudolph a nice young connection in 2011 #fantasyfootball?

Titus Young to Lions to join what is becoming a nice, nice DET team on both sides of the ball. #fantasyfootball

RT @RossTuckerNFL At some point you have to wonder if DaQuan Bowers' knee is so bad that maybe he shouldn't even play football. This is crazy. And sad.

Lance Kendricks pairs up w/Bradford, opens up road for SJax and continues tradition of solid Wisconsin TEs in the #NFLDraft #fantasyfootball

Another Wisniewski to the Raiders. Run DMc smiles and maybe Campbell can put together a complete #fantasyfootball season

Bucs loading up DL w/Clayborn & Bowers. Doing what Panthers should've done: Finding a way 2 catch the NFC S QBs #NFLDraft #fantasyfootball
 
RT @ProFootbalFocus Bucs have now gone D-line with their first 2 picks in back to back drafts.

Already 9th v the pass & 8th v the rush, Giants get even stronger with Austin #NFLDraft #fantasyfootball

NFL No. 1 rushing offense just got the top center on many people's board in Hudson

Third-down back in the second round in Vereen? We will see. Still would be cautious of Patriots backs come #fantasyfootball season

More #fantasyfootball RBBC in Detroit as LeShoure joins Best for the Lions. Should make things better for Stafford, Megatron & Titus Young

As a Flacco dynasty #fantasyfootball owner, thank you Baltimore Ravens for giving him another weapon in Torrey Smith

Maybe Titans will get him and pair him with Locker, CJ and run the Wing-T RT @MattTaliaferro: @AthlonCorby What, no Randall Cobb?!?!?!

Someone has to shine in Cleveland in 2011, why not Greg Little since Hillis will be on Madden cover?

Three defensive picks in a row for Texans. Maybe a #fantasyfootball defense could finally catch up with HOU #fantasyfootball offense. Maybe

Chargers just drafted at 61 (Mouton) the first player not in Gil Brandt or Pat Kirwan's top 100

Thomas follows Pouncey as the Dolphins could be getting serious about this whole running game thing #NFLDraft #fantasyfootball
 
Steelers stocking both sides of the line is no surprise in that division

Packers offense just became even tougher to draft in #fantasyfootball w/ the addition of Cobb. Getting very Saints-ish up there in Titletown

RT @NFLDraftBible 2-64: #GreenBayPackers: Randall Cobb. Mr. Wildcat. Mr. Versatility. Mr. Everything. The new Hines Ward.

RT @EDSFootball With trades, #Redskins now have 11 picks in Rds 3-7: 79 (3rd); 127 (4th); 144, 146, 152 + 155 (5th); 177 (6th); 213, 217, 224 + 253 (7th).

MBIII done as a Cowboy? Now it's Murray/Jones show. More #fantasyfootball RBBC but Felix hasn't shown ability to be lead RB.

Mallet to the Patriots? Sure, why not.     

Vereeen, Ridley, Law Firm & Woodhead for the Patriots. Too many cooks in the kitchen yet again for the NE #fantasyfootball backfield
 
So what's WAS left w/@QB if McNabb is moved/released? Perhaps same thing their BAL neighbor did a few years ago by getting a Blue Hen

RT @AdamSchefter One front office execcutive said last week that Ryan Mallett was the top-rated quarterback on the Patriots draft board.

1st thing out of Tim Ryan, Gil Brandt, Pat Kirwan's mouths is Titans latest pick DT Casey should've stayed at USC another year
    
Rams stock up WR corps w/ Boise's Pettis. Building up a solid offense in a weak division. Very #fantasyfootball friendly #NFLDraft thus far
 
Hankerson a good pairing with Armstrong and S. Moss in WAS ... if there is a QB there to get them the ball #fantasyfootball

Vincent Brown gets to stay in San Diego and join Floyd, VJax (maybe), Rivers and Mathews. Yes, please #fantasyfootball

RT@ WesBunting Still shocked #Hampton DL Kenrick Ellis has not come off the board yet #NFLDRAFT
 
RT @Bryan_Fontaine There are tons of values at TE to be had at the top of Day 3: Virgil Green, Luke Stocker, DJ Williams, Jordan Cameron, Julius Thomas
    
NFL Radio crew 2 Mallet on 40-yd dash vs. Brady: "That's all y'all wanna talk about. We don't run, we throw the ball; we're quarterbacks."

RT @WesBunting Colts land DT who plays with BAD intentions | National Football Post http://t.co/Xu65rYZ via @wesbunting

Hampton Bigdog fills gap that Jenkins leaves on the Jets DL

Grant/Starks and now speedster Alex Green from Hawaii joins the Packers backfield.

Panthers bookend 3rd rd w/ D-linemen. Smart move to try & slow down solid QBs in NFC S. See if it pays off 2x in 3rd instead of once in 1st

• DAY 3 (Saturday) •

The NFL Draft is over :( and for the third straight day I was perched behind a computer — doing other work of course — listening to the Draft on Sirius and keeping a small pop up window in the corner of the computer screen. Four rounds and nearly eight hours of coverage on Saturday was certainly a good way to close out the month of April — just me, my TweetDeck, the NFL Draft and Athlon college football production.

RT @CFFGeek How will many college stars translate into NFL fantasy studs? I posted some thoughts on Twitter during tonight's... http://fb.me/yj3ZW020

RT@NFLDraftBible #141-PACKERS: TE DJ Williams, Arkansas. Planning for the future. JerMicahel Finley will be FA after next yr, Pack wont be able 2 afford him

Jacquizz Rodgers a #fantasyfootball PPR machine to the Falcons, a dependable handcuff for Turner maybe even more than that

Volunteer State goes B2B in #NFLDraft 6th round w/MTSU's Rod Issac, Tennessee's Denarius Moore & UTC's Buster Skrine went 6th in this round

Niles Paul, Roy Helu, Hankerson — #Redskins collecting offensive talent for a QB TBD

Andrew Luck's 2nd-favorite target Ryan Whalen heads to the Bengals to join a growing group of young WRs

Cowboys get a college #fantasyfootball stud in ECU WR Dwayne Harris. Can't wait to see how he translates to NFL game

Keep loading that offense up Redskins; Penn State RB Evan Royster and SMU WR & speedster Aldrick Robinson

RT @draftace surprised Derrick Locke is still on the board. explosive playmaker who add a new dimension to an offense

Athlon will tell him: http://bit.ly/h9DqtG RT @si_nba: Bulls' Rose says he hasn't been told if he's MVP http://bit.ly/k72UqN

TE DJ Williams on Sirius: I got a little nervous when the phone rang, knew TEN picked just b4 GB & has an ex-GF in TEN. Happy it was Packers

Old Hickory Andrew Jackson just went to Atlanta. If he could have lasted 2 more picks he could have returned to Tennessee as a 7th rounder

Titans Rocker gets one of his former DL from Auburn — six rounds later, its Clayton sted of Fairley

Have listened 2 the NFLDraft for a long time on Sirius NFL Radio & 4 the 1st time ever, Gil Brandt doesn't know a draft pick: Shane Bannon.

RT @WesBunting #Jets get Mark Sanchez's boy WR Scotty Mcknight, lil slot guy who is quicker than fast and will catch football in traffic #NFLDRAFT

RT @NFLDraftBible #225-RAVENS: RB Anthony Allen, Georgia Tech. Big-time bruising back. Maybe the McClain train could be ridin out of town!

Eagles nab 2nd legacy linebacker. 1st it was Casey Matthews (the son, brother, nephew connection) and now Greg Lloyd's estranged son, Greg.

Mt. Juliet TN's Michael Jasper, a 6-5, 390 lineman from Bethel goes to Buffalo BIlls

Eagles nab 2nd legacy linebacker. 1st it was Casey Matthews (the son, brother, nephew connection) and now Greg Lloyd's estranged son, Greg.

Hope cancer survivor Mark Herzlich hears his name called before this #NFLDraft thing is over. Should not have lasted on the board this long.

Mr. Irrelevant is... Rice DE Cheta Ozougwo going to the #Texans with pick 254 to end the #NFLDraft. Boo on Mark Herzlich not being drafted

— Follow @AthlonCorby on Twitter and let me know what you thought of this year's NFL Draft and how you think it will affect the upcoming fantasy football season.

 
Teaser:
<br />
Post date: Saturday, April 30, 2011 - 23:09
All taxonomy terms: NBA
Path: /columns/nba-power-rankings/memphis-royalty
Body:

It's on to the second round of the 2011 NBA Playoffs. Memphis and Atlanta lead the upset charge after knocking off the No. 1 and No. 4 seed in their respective conferences. Now Memphis gets the No. 4 in the West while Atlanta gets the No. 1 in the East. Can they do it again?

Eastern Conference Semifinals

No. 1 CHICAGO vs. No. 5 ATLANTA
Regular season series: Bulls 2-1

The Bulls, as usual, went as Derrick Rose went in their series against the Pacers. They might not have the services of Carlos Boozer due to a turf toe injury, but that might not make a difference; he barely showed up in the first round whereas backup Taj Gibson did. The Pacers series should serve as a wake-up call. Atlanta managed to get a series win over Orlando thanks to the Magic shooting miserably from the floor. Kirk Hinrich injured his hamstring in the series-winning game and looks to be a no-go against his old team. Chicago's defense will be too much for the Hawks to handle. BULLS in 5

No. 2 MIAMI vs. No. 3 BOSTON
Regular season series: Celtics 3-1

The Celtics won the season series, but their three wins came by an average of 4.3 points. At times in the Knicks series it seemed as if Rajon Rondo was the only productive Celtic. Boston will certainly need more than Rondo to get past Miami. The Heat have no depth and it will be interesting to see how that translates over a long series. But the emergence of Chris Bosh near the end of the season and his playoff performance (19.8 ppg, 9.0 rpg) finally makes the big three The Big Three. HEAT in 7

Western Conference Semifinals

No. 2 L.A. LAKERS vs. No. 3 DALLAS
Regular season series: Lakers 2-1

To get past the two-time defending champs the Mavericks have to find a way to get past the Lakers' two 7-footers and Lamar Odom. Dallas only had to deal with LaMarcus Aldridge's size in its last series, but do the Mavericks have an answer for three post players? No. And then there's the job of guarding Kobe Bryant, twisted ankle or not. Even with a limping Kobe, the size will win this matchup. LAKERS in 5

No. 4 OKLAHOMA CITY vs. No. 8 MEMPHIS
Regular season series: Grizzlies 3-1

The Grizzlies could not be in a better situation confidence wise. Memphis became just the second No. 8 seed in the seven-game, first-round setup to knock off a No. 1, and now the Grizzlies get a Thunder team they defeated 3-1 during the regular season. The two former Northwest franchises — Memphis in Vancouver and OKC in Seattle — are both coming off their first series wins in their new homes. This series is a complete toss up with the high both teams are on right now. Whichever organization comes off that high first will be the one that calls it a season. THUNDER in 6

Athlon Sports NBA second-round power rankings

Athlon Sports NBA first-round power rankings

Athlon Sports NBA first-round playoff predictions

— Corby A. Yarbrough @AthlonCorby on Twitter

Teaser:
<p> It's on to the second round of the 2011 NBA Playoffs. Memphis and Atlanta lead the upset charge after knocking off the No. 1 and No. 4 seed in their respective conferences. Now Memphis gets the No. 4 in the West while Atlanta gets the No. 1 in the East. Can they do it again?</p>
Post date: Saturday, April 30, 2011 - 21:08
All taxonomy terms: NBA
Path: /columns/nba-power-rankings/bulls-still-one
Body:

Athlon Sports NBA Power Rankings — Second Round

1. Chicago — The series win over Indiana might not have looked pretty, but when does anything ever look pretty in the Eastern Conference?

2. Miami — Powered past Philadelphia and now LeBron gets another shot at Boston. But the already depth-lacking Heat probably won't get much use out of Mike Miller or Udonis Haslem due to injuries.

3. Los Angeles Lakers — Kobe's got the twisted ankle, but he's also got the front line of Gasol, Bynum and Odom to back him up.

4. Dallas — The Mavs advanced into the second but get L.A. as their reward. They beefed up size in the offseason with the addition of Tyson Chandler. He scored 6.5 points and collected 9.5 boards a game in the first round and that was against one guy. What will Dallas' answer be against the Lakers' size?

5. Oklahoma City — Kevin Durant is a bad, bad man. Just get him the ball and anything can happen. The Thunder are into the second round but are getting a Memphis team that is riding an equal high.

6. Boston — Were the only team to post a sweep in the first round, but do the Knicks count? The Celtics have to get another solid series from Jermaine O'Neal and figure out a way to stop Miami's Big Three, which are actually playing as advertised now.

7. Memphis — Beale Street was certainly rocking Friday night as the Grizzlies won their first-ever playoff series and knocked off the West's top-seeded Spurs in the process. Memphis is probably the most confident team of the eight left in the playoffs as it plays with house money now.

8. Atlanta — Got to give the Hawks a lot of credit for being able to close out the series after the beat down Orlando gave them just one game earlier. Atlanta was certainly the benefactor of a terrible shooting performance by the Magic nearly all series long, and I don't see that happening two times in a row.

Athlon Sports NBA Playoff second-round predictions

Athlon Sports NBA first-round power rankings

— Corby A. Yarbrough @AthlonCorby on Twitter

Teaser:
<br />
Post date: Saturday, April 30, 2011 - 20:53
All taxonomy terms: NFL, Fantasy
Path: /columns/winning-game-plan/april-nfl-fantasy-mock-draft
Body:

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.

Teaser:
<br />
Post date: Tuesday, April 26, 2011 - 17:27
Path: /columns/national-notebook/athlon-sports-nba-awards
Body:

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

Teaser:
<br />
Post date: Monday, April 18, 2011 - 14:21
Path: /columns/nba-power-rankings/chicago-paces-playoff-rankings
Body:

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

Pages