Articles By Mark Ross

Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2014-kicker-rankings-week-10

The numbers may not jump out, but Seattle’s Steven Hauschka remains a reliable starting fantasy option, as he checks in near the top of Athlon Sports’ Fantasy Football Kicker Rankings for Week 10. Hauschka is currently 10th among kickers in fantasy points (Athlon scoring), after finishing sixth in 2013. Through eight games, Hauschka is on the same pace (16 made field goals, 20 PATs) that he was last season (17, 21), and he’s only missed two field goal attempts thus far. Hauschka and the Seahawks are home Sunday against the Giants, a team that’s giving up nearly 27 points per game on the road.


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


Positional Rankings: QB I RB I WR I TE I DST I K


2014 NFL Week 10 Fantasy Football Rankings — Kickers


Teams on bye: Houston, Indianapolis, Minnesota, New England, San Diego, Washington


1Justin TuckerBALvs. TEN
2Steven HauschkaSEAvs. NYG
3Dan BaileyDALvs. JAC (London)
4Cody ParkeyPHIvs. CAR (Mon.)
5Mason CrosbyGBvs. CHI
6Chandler CatanzaroARIvs. STL
7Phil DawsonSFat NO
8Dan CarpenterBUFvs. KC
9Cairo SantosKCat BUF
10Shayne GrahamNOvs. SF
11Brandon McManusDENat OAK
12Shaun SuishamPITat NYJ
13Robbie GouldCHIat GB
14Mike NugentCINvs. CLE (Thurs.)
15Matt BryantATLvs. TB
16Matt PraterDETvs. MIA

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

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

Fantasy Football 2014 Kicker Rankings: Week 10
Post date: Thursday, November 6, 2014 - 06:30
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy Football, waiver wire, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2014-waiver-wire-week-10

One monster bye week down, one to go, or at least that’s a way to describe the fantasy landscape as we enter Week 10 of the NFL season. The good news is that Atlanta, Buffalo, Chicago, Detroit, Green Bay and Tennessee all return to action this week. The downside is that fantasy owners instead will have to make do without Houston, Indianapolis, Minnesota, New England, San Diego and Washington. That means no Andrew Luck, no Tom Brady, no Arian Foster (perhaps for more than one week since he injured his groin Sunday), no Rob Gronkowski, and the list goes on. At least there’s the waiver wire, right?


Athlon Sports is here to help you sort through some of the potential free agent options. The players listed in our weekly fantasy football waiver wire may be one-week adds, some may be worth holding on to all season long and some are of the “sleeper” variety that you may simply want to keep an eye on.


Teams on bye: Houston, Indianapolis, Minnesota, New England, San Diego, Washington




Week 9 Recap: Andy Dalton threw two touchdown passes, but he also had two picks, one deep inside the red zone, which took some of the steam out of his fantasy output (18.4 pts., Athlon scoring). Michael Vick was roughed up by the Chiefs, as he left the game for a brief period after hitting the back of his head on the turf, and he managed just 196 yards passing, 18 yards rushing and a touchdown (no turnovers) in a losing effort.


Mark Sanchez, Philadelphia Eagles

Nick Foles broke his collarbone on Sunday, meaning Sanchez will get another chance. He did toss two touchdown passes after taking over for Foles, but also had two interceptions. The key with Sanchez is that he is at the helm of a much more potent offense than anything he ever had when he was with the Jets, so the opportunity for him to do some damage is clearly there. What he does with it remains to be seen, but Sanchez’ Monday night matchup at home against Carolina doesn’t seem all that scary, at least on paper. The Panthers are just 24th in the NFL in total defense and are giving up the eighth-most fantasy points to opposing QBs.


Other possible fill-in options*: Carson Palmer, Joe Flacco, Ryan Tannehill, Alex Smith, Eli Manning, Josh McCown


Running Backs


Week 9 Recap: Jeremy Hill got the start in place of an injured Giovani Bernard and went off to the tune of 154 yards rushing and two touchdowns. Cincinnati’s short turnaround for its Thursday game against Cleveland should mean another steady diet of touches for Hill, even if Bernard plays. Mark Ingram continued his strong play, putting up 100 yards and two scores against Carolina. Travaris Cadet meanwhile is nothing more than a role player right now (30 total yards on four touches vs. CAR) and he will likely see less work as soon as Pierre Thomas (shoulder) or Khiry Robinson (foot) return. Bobby Rainey was the Buccaneers’ workhorse against the Browns and he delivered (121 total yards on 20 touches), as Charles Sims was not activated for this game. Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams each got eight carries against the Saints, with Stewart faring much better in the yardage department (46 to 20). Williams did have one catch for 30 yards, but this may be one timeshare to stay away from.

Chris Johnson, New York Jets

Johnson openly campaigned to be more involved in the Jets’ offense and he got his wish on Sunday. He not only led his team with 69 yards rushing, he also got more carries (11) than Chris Ivory (8). Ivory had been the Jets’ most effective rusher this season, averaging 4.6 yards per carry with five touchdowns, but apparently something’s changed. Whether it’s Johnson is a better fit in the backfield with Michael Vick or his abilities as a receiver (2 rec., 32 yds. vs KC), this is at least something that’s worth keeping an eye on. If Johnson gets back to seeing 15 or more touches per game, he may likewise work his way back towards fantasy relevance.


Chris Polk, Philadelphia Eagles

LeSean McCoy is the No. 1 guy for the Eagles, but even though Darren Sproles returned on Sunday from a knee injury, it was Polk who backed up McCoy. Polk picked up 50 yards rushing against Houston, including an eight-yard touchdown run while Sproles got one carry. Sproles will remain involved in this offense, but his role may be shifting primarily to a pass-catching one. The point is that Polk got eight carries and the Eagles ran the ball 40 times (for 190 yards) against the Texans. Chip Kelly is going to continue to run the ball, especially now that Nick Foles is sidelined indefinitely with a broken collarbone, and any guy who gets 20 percent of his team’s carries in a game is worth paying attention to.


Terrance West, Cleveland Browns

Ben Tate remains atop the Browns’ backfield depth chart, but now it looks like West, and not fellow rookie Isaiah Crowell, is No. 2. West led the Browns in both carries (15) and yards (48) on Sunday with Tate getting 10 (for 3 yds.) attempts. Crowell was active, but did not get on the field at any point. West also caught a two-yard touchdown pass from Brian Hoyer and after the game head coach Mike Pettine said that West had “earned” his touches. Pettine previously voiced concerns about Crowell’s ball-security issues, which has allowed West the opportunity to pass his teammate on the depth chart. This is a fluid situation in many ways, but for now, West appears to be the Brown backup to target, especially given Tate’s injury history.


Other possible fill-in options*: Denard Robinson, Steven Jackson, Lorenzo Taliaferro, Bishop Sankey, Darren McFadden, Anthony Dixon, Andre Williams, Bryce Brown, Carlos Hyde


Wide Receivers


Week 9 Recap: Sunday night produced two more touchdowns for rookie Martavis Bryant, who has five in his first three career games. With Pittsburgh’s passing offense humming (NFL-record 12 TD passes for Ben Roethlisberger in consecutive games), Bryant and Markus Wheaton should both be on everyone’s radars. John Brown caught just two passes for 10 yards (and had one rush for -3 yards) in a forgettable showing in Dallas. Donte Moncrief was a no-show on Monday night, catching one pass for a measly two yards.


Davante Adams, Green Bay Packers

The Packers are coming off of their bye and the offense has an appealing matchup against the Bears’ porous defense. Even though Aaron Rodgers already has Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb to throw to, Adams has worked his way into the mix as well. He has two touchdown catches over his last four games and is coming off of a season-best seven catches against New Orleans in Week 8. In that game, Adams played practically every snap, which pretty much cements the fact that he has replaced Jarrett Boykin as the Packers’ No. 3 wide receiver. Even with a couple of guys ahead of him in the pecking order, Adams is someone worth adding to your roster because of the offense he plays in.


Kenny Britt, St. Louis Rams

This is not a hearty recommendation by any means, but someone has to catch passes for the Rams and it looks like the top two targets right now are Britt and tight end Jared Cook. Britt has just 18 catches for 281 yards and two touchdowns on the season, but with Brian Quick out for the rest of the season (shoulder), Britt is the closest thing St. Louis has to a No. 1 WR. He’s very much a boom-or-bust option, but opportunity (playing time, targets, etc.) is knocking.


Josh Gordon, Cleveland Browns

No Gordon didn’t get his suspension reduced. He’s still got two more games to sit out, but if Gordon is still somehow sitting on your waiver wire, go get him now. Gordon probably represents the best chance of landing a late-season lottery pick, considering his All-Pro talent and potential. He has absolutely no competition in front of him for targets upon his return in Week 12 and this is a guy who averaged 19 yards per catch last season, went over 125 yards receiving seven times and over 200 twice (in back-to-back games no less). Even though Gordon still carries a fair amount of risk, the potential reward is well worth dropping someone else to add the troubled, yet equally talented wideout to your roster. Provided he behaves, Gordon is a legitimate difference-maker when it comes to this season’s fantasy playoffs.

Kendall Wright, Tennessee Titans

Entering this season, few expected Wright to end up in this space, as the third-year pro was a borderline top-30 wide receiver by most accounts. However, the Titans’ offense has struggled, which has had an impact on Wright’s numbers. In eight games, Wright has 35 receptions for 350 yards and four touchdowns. The good news he’s already doubled his touchdown total from last season and now may be the perfect opportunity to grab someone who hauled in 94 catches last season. Tennessee is coming off of its bye, which means Wright has had some extra time to work on his chemistry with rookie quarterback Zach Mettenberger. Justin Hunter is the Titans’ wideout with the most big-play ability and fantasy upside, but Wright carries plenty of appeal of his own, especially in PPR leagues.


Other possible fill-in options*: Mike Evans, Doug Baldwin, Odell Beckham Jr., Allen Hurns, Andre Holmes, Cecil Shorts, Dwayne Bowe, Jarvis Landry, James Jones


Tight Ends


Week 9 Recap: Heath Miller didn’t join in the Steelers’ aerial assault (340 yds., 6 TD passes) Sunday night against the Ravens, catching one pass for 14 yards.


Mychal Rivera, Oakland Raiders

Rivera hauled in two touchdown catches on Sunday against Seattle, making it his second straight game with at least 12.8 fantasy points. Oakland’s offense is certainly not the most reliable, but the Raiders also are one of the most pass-heavy attacks in the NFL, which bodes well for Rivera’s potential moving forward. Two games is a small sample size, but Rivera and rookie quarterback Derek Carr have been clicking recently. With big guns like Rob Gronkowksi, Antonio Gates, Jordan Reed and Dwayne Allen on bye this week, perhaps Rivera is worth taking a chance on.


Other possible fill-in options*: Larry Donnell, Jared Cook, Owen Daniels, Charles Clay, Jace Amaro, Austin Seferian-Jenkins

Defense/Special Teams


Week 9 Recap: Cincinnati got a safety and blocked a kick, but the Bengals also gave up 23 points to the Jaguars, which capped the DST’s fantasy impact (9 pts). Kansas City picked up three more sacks and held the Jets to just 10 points, but couldn’t manage any takeaways or big plays.


Baltimore Ravens

The Ravens gave up six TD passes to Ben Roethlisberger on Sunday night, but they also sacked him on three consecutive snaps at one point. Baltimore also forced a fumble and got a 108-yard kickoff return from Jacoby Jones, finishing the night with a respectable nine fantasy points. This is a DST that has recorded at least two sacks in each of its last four games and on Sunday will host a Tennessee Titans offense that’s starting a rookie quarterback. Don’t expect to see the Ravens give up another six TD passes (or 43 points) this week.

Dallas Cowboys

The Cowboys have dropped their past two games, but it’s not entirely because of the defense. Dallas’ DST has produced 18 fantasy points over the past two contests and unlike last season, this unit has been able to create turnovers. The Cowboys have at least one takeaway in every game but one, including an interception on Sunday against Arizona that was returned for a touchdown. Dallas is in London this week to face Jacksonville, the team that still leads the league in fantasy points allowed to opposing DSTs. The Jaguars have yet to allow any DST score fewer than nine points against it and seven opponents have put up at least 12. With six teams on bye, including Houston, New England and Indianapolis, who wouldn’t take a fairly safe nine points from their fantasy DST?


Other possible fill-in options*: Detroit, Pittsburgh


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


*Players owned in less than 70% of Yahoo! leagues.

Fantasy Football 2014 Waiver Wire: Week 10
Post date: Wednesday, November 5, 2014 - 10:00
All taxonomy terms: Indianapolis Colts, New York Giants, NFL, News
Path: /nfl/indianapolis-colts-vs-new-york-giants-preview-and-prediction

Teams on opposite sides of a bye will wrap up Week 9 in the NFL when the Indianapolis Colts take on the New York Giants on ESPN’s “Monday Night Football.” The Colts (5-3) are looking to bounce back from last week’s 51-34 thrashing to the Steelers and head into their Week 10 bye on a winning note. The Giants (3-4) are coming off of their bye in search of a strong start, as they prepare for the toughest stretch of their schedule. After tonight’s game, Tom Coughlin’s team will travel to Seattle followed by home games against San Francisco and NFC East foe Dallas.


Indianapolis Colts at New York Giants


Kickoff: 8:30 p.m. ET

TV Channel: ESPN

Spread: Indianapolis -3.5


Three Things to Watch


1. Andrew Luck Takes a Bite Out of the Big Apple?

In his third season as Indianapolis’ starting quarterback, Luck has established himself as not only one of the best signal-callers in the NFL, but also a likely MVP contender for years to come. The No.1 overall pick of the 2012 draft, Luck has taken the mantle of Colts QB from Peyton Manning and run with it. Luck enter this game just two touchdown passes behind his predecessor for the league lead (24) and he’s No. 1 by himself in passing yards (2,731). This will be his first game against the Giants, but his second time playing in New York. In his rookie season, Luck and the Colts lost 35-9 to the Jets in a game in which he completed half of his passes (22-of-44) for 280 yards, no scores and two interceptions. Luck obviously has come a long way since that game, as the Colts went on to make the playoffs that season and won the AFC South in 2013.  And even though this will be Luck’s second game on the biggest regular-season stage the NFL has to offer, he will be more focused on helping his team bounce back from last week’s rather than what’s going on around him. Still, it should be a post-Halloween treat of sorts for a national primetime audience get to see one of the game’s brightest stars ply his trade tonight.


2. Giant-sized Effort from New York’s O-line?

New York opened its season with two straight losses before winning three straight. The Giants then dropped their next two and are now hoping to end that streak coming out of their bye. For that to happen tonight, the offensive line will need do its job, not only in pass protection, but also in opening up holes for the running game. Eli Manning has been sacked 13 times this season, with 10 of those coming in the team’s four losses. What’s more, in the four losses the Giants have averaged just 3.3 yards per carry compared to 4.1 in their three wins. To be fair, it’s not just on the offensive line alone, as it did not give up a single sack to Dallas in New York’s last game after coughing up eight in a 27-0 loss to Philadelphia in Week 6. The ground attack took a big hit when Rashad Jennings injured his knee against Atlanta in Week 5. He won’t play tonight, meaning it will be up to fourth-round pick Andre Williams and Peyton Hillis to carry the load. Combined this duo is averaging 3.4 yards per carry. But it all starts up front, as the offensive line needs to give the backs space to run and Manning time to throw, especially against an Indianapolis defense that gave up 522 yards passing and six touchdowns to Ben Roethlisberger last week.


3. Week 8 Hangover Effect for Colts’ D?

Indianapolis’ defense is coming off of by far its worst showing of the season and then some. The Colts gave up 51 points and 639 yards of offense to Pittsburgh last week. Before then the most points they had allowed were 31 to Denver in the season opener and the most yards were 458 to Philadelphia the following week. What’s more surprising about what took place in Pittsburgh last week was the fact Indianapolis had just shut out Cincinnati and held the Bengals to 135 total yards the previous game. Whether it’s the difference between playing at home or on the road is up for debate, but if the Colts want to be taken seriously as a Super Bowl contender they know they need to tighten up things defensively. The good news is that some help is on the way in the form of starting free safety LaRon Landry, who is set to return after serving a four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s policy on the use of performance-enhancing drugs. Landry’s return means Indianapolis’ secondary should be back to full strength as Vontae Davis, who left last week’s game early with a knee injury, is expected to be out there tonight too. As well as the Colts have played, passing defense (252.9 ypg) has been a bit of an issue. Granted, Big Ben and the Steelers are responsible for quite a bit of the damage, but Indianapolis’ defense can’t dwell on the past and must focus on the task that lies ahead of them tonight. Will Eli Manning and the Giants find similar success through the air or will the Colts’ D rise to the occasion in the “Monday Night Football” spotlight?


Final Analysis


Indianapolis is still reeling from last week’s beatdown in Pittsburgh, while New York is rested coming off of its bye. However, the Giants won’t be at full strength with running back Rashad Jennings sidelined with a knee injury, which already puts them at a disadvantage against the NFL’s No. 1 offense. Even in the Colts’ three losses, Andrew Luck has played well and has shown he’s capable of carrying his team on his shoulders. Eli Manning has done that in the past, but he just hasn’t been able to perform that same kind of magic this season, as the Giants’ best games have come when they have run the ball successfully. Jennings’ absence has taken the starch out of this running game and I think it makes New York’s offense too one-dimensional. The Giants put up a fight at home, but the Colts still have Luck on their side and that will be enough to win tonight.

Prediction: Indianapolis 27, New York 24
Indianapolis Colts vs. New York Giants Preview and Prediction
Post date: Monday, November 3, 2014 - 16:30
Path: /nfl/baltimore-ravens-vs-pittsburgh-steelers-preview-and-prediction-2014

The stakes, as usual, will be high when the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers renew their rivalry tonight on NBC. Both teams enter this game 5-3, percentage points behind AFC North-leading Cincinnati (4-2-1). Tonight’s victor will either keep pace with the Bengals or replace them at the top of the standings, while the loser could wind up in last place in the NFL’s most competitive division.


There’s no love lost between John Harbaugh’s and Mike Tomlin’s teams, who have played each other 15 times, including twice in the playoffs, since Harbaugh took over the Ravens in 2008. Tomlin holds an 8-7 edge, but the Ravens have won the last two meetings. Games between these two archrivals have typically been close – 11 contests have been decided by four points or fewer.


Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers


Kickoff: 8:30 p.m. ET

TV Channel: NBC

Spread: Baltimore -1.5


Three Things to Watch


1. Joe Cool vs. Big Ben

They may not have the history or surefire Hall of Fame resumes of Tom Brady vs. Peyton Manning, but Joe Flacco and Ben Roethlisberger have developed their own little rivalry. Since being taken 18th overall in the 2008 draft and thrust into the starting lineup, Flacco has gone 7-8 versus Pittsburgh, but he’s just 4-7 (including 0-2 in the playoffs) head-to-head against Roethlisberger. Roethlisberger has missed four games against Flacco’s Ravens – three due to injury, including both games in 2012, and one due to suspension (2010). In their nine regular-season meetings, neither quarterback has exactly filled up the stat sheet. Flacco has a better passer rating (87.6 to 78.2), more touchdown passes (12 to 9) and fewer interceptions (3 to 8), while Roethlisberger has thrown for more yards (2,193 to 1,895). Even with the edge in yardage, Roethlisberger’s total breaks down to less than 244 per game. The two are also separated by less than a percent (58.8 for Flacco, 58.0 for Roethlisberger) when it comes to accuracy. So while neither quarterback has typically put up big numbers against the other’s team, each is still critical to their team’s success and will no doubt be under Al Michaels’ and Cris Collinsworth’s microscope during NBC’s broadcast. And who knows, perhaps tonight will produce a rare breakout performance from one of these signal-callers in this heated rivalry. After all Flacco did throw a career-high five touchdown passes earlier this season while Roethlisberger set new franchise records with his 522-yard, six-touchdown performance last week against Indianapolis.


2. Baltimore’s Beat-up Defense

The Ravens handily beat the Steelers 26-6 when these two first met back in Week 2. Even though the total yardage was close (323-301), Baltimore was much more physical, punishing Pittsburgh on both sides of the ball. The Ravens’ defense set the tone, finishing with three takeaways and two sacks, but this unit will look a little different tonight. Jimmy Smith and Asa Jackson, who were the starting cornerbacks in Week 2, won’t play due to injury. Smith, Baltimore’s top cornerback, will certainly be missed against a Steelers wide receiver corps that features All-Pro candidate Antonio Brown, as well as younger weapons Markus Wheaton and Martavis Bryant. Several other starters, most notably Haloti Ngata and Terrell Suggs, are also dealing with some injury issues of their own, although both are expected to play tonight. Ngata and Suggs are veteran leaders and linchpins of the Ravens’ defense and will be needed to not only get pressure on Ben Roethlisberger, but also to help contain Le’Veon Bell, who is third in the NFL in yards from scrimmage (1,086). One of the reasons Baltimore defeated Pittsburgh so easily in Week 2 was the Ravens limited the Steelers to just two field goals and two trips in the red zone (0-2). With the secondary already shorthanded and the front seven dealing with some injury issues of its own, Baltimore’s defense will need to dig deep to have similar success tonight against a Pittsburgh offense that put up 639 yards and 51 points last week.


3. Ball Security

In the 26-6 win over Pittsburgh in Week 2, Baltimore’s defense forced three turnovers. Since that game, the Ravens have posted a minus-one (10 giveaways, 9 takeaways) turnover margin. The Steelers meanwhile have recorded at least one takeaway in each of their past six games and are plus-five (6, 11) during that span. Two of Pittsburgh’s three turnovers in the first game against Baltimore occurred in the red zone and the Steelers’ miscues led to 10 points for the Ravens. In a rivalry where so many games (12 of 15 since 2008) have been decided by a touchdown or less, it makes sense that ball security has played a key role in the outcomes. To that end, the Steelers are 7-3 in games against the Ravens in which they have won the turnover battle (4-2) or the teams were even (3-1). Baltimore is 4-1 when it does a better job of taking care of the football. And even though the Ravens are plus-seven overall against the Steelers in their last 15 matchups, it should be pointed out that this discrepancy is primarily due to a forgettable 2011 season opener when Pittsburgh committed seven turnovers, five of those courtesy of Ben Roethlisberger (3 INTs, 2 fumbles). Not surprisingly, that 35-7 Ravens win represented the most lopsided decision in the John Harbaugh/Joe Flacco vs. Mike Tomlin/Roethlisberger rivalry. So keep two hands on the football at all times tonight fellas, if you want to win.  


Final Analysis


Both Baltimore and Pittsburgh sit at 5-3 halfway through the season, but tonight’s winner could find itself in first place at the end of this game while the loser could the only last place team in any division with a winning record. What else would you expect when these two teams get together? The Steelers are coming off of their best offensive showing (639 yards and 51 points), while the Ravens are picking up the pieces after watching the Bengals come back and beat them with a late touchdown. In a rivalry that’s know for close games, the smallest break or advantage could be the difference between victory and defeat. To that end, I think Pittsburgh not only has the most momentum entering tonight, but also is catching a depleted and banged-up Ravens defense at the right time. It won’t be a cakewalk, because it never is, but I think the Steelers continue their recent strong play by taking care of business at home.

Prediction: Pittsburgh 28, Baltimore 24
Baltimore Ravens vs. Pittsburgh Steelers Preview and Prediction
Post date: Sunday, November 2, 2014 - 09:00
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy Football, injury updates, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /fantasy/week-9-fantasy-football-injury-updates-tony-romo-robert-griffin-iii-alex-smith

One NFC East quarterback is set to return in Week 9 while another is Questionable because of two small fractures in his back. Let Athlon Sports get you caught up on the QB injuries you need to know about. 


Robert Griffin III, QB, Washington Redskins at Minnesota Vikings

Probable – Ankle
Colt McCoy led the Redskins to a surprise overtime victory in Dallas on Monday night, but it looks like his stay atop the depth chart will be brief. Griffin was a full go every day at practice and head coach Jay Gruden has already said that he fully intends to turn the starting job back over to RG3. So the fact he’s listed as Probable is a mere formality and now it’s a matter of whether you immediately go back to Griffin as your fantasy starter or do you leave him on the bench? I would suggest the latter, see how he does against the Vikings and revisit this next week, but the bye-week situation may force your hand.


Tony Romo, QB, Dallas Cowboys vs. Arizona Cardinals

Questionable – Back
Cowboys fans held their collective breaths when Romo went down on Monday night after getting kneed in his surgically repaired back on a sack. Romo missed a couple of series, but was able to return late in the fourth quarter. Romo didn’t practice at all this week, but he’s officially listed as Questionable, so he has a 50-50 shot of playing. He will probably be a game-time decision today and the 1 p.m. ET kickoff helps in that respect. However, what was initially referred to as a contusion and pain tolerance issue apparently is worse than that. ESPN’s Todd Archer reported on Saturday that Romo has two small fractures in his back. Even though there’s a chance Romo plays, how effective will he be and what are the chances he doesn’t finish the game? This is not a good week for QB depth with six teams on bye, but I would strongly consider all other possible options before turning your team’s fate over to Romo’s beat-up back.


Alex Smith, QB, Kansas City Chiefs vs. New York Jets

Probable – Shoulder
Head coach Andy Reid revealed earlier this week that Smith suffered some sort of shoulder injury last Sunday and initially expressed some doubt that his quarterback would be able to play in Week 9. Smith has since put to rest any questions about his availability, as he was a full participant in practice every day and is listed as Probable. Smith is not known for being a stat-stuffer, but he gets the Jets, the team that is giving up the most fantasy points to opposing QBs. With six teams on bye, Smith is definitely on the QB-2 radar this week and is certainly worthy of QB1 consideration as well.


Ryan Tannehill, QB, Miami Dolphins vs. San Diego Chargers

Probable – Ankle
Tannehill is nursing some sort of ankle injury. He was held back some on Wednesday, but was a full go on both Thursday and Friday. He is listed as Probable and will try and bounce back from a disappointing performance (16-of-29, 196-1-1) last week against Jacksonville. Tannehill is probably more QB2 material this week, but he’s capable of producing like a QB1.

Week 9 Fantasy Football Injury Updates: Tony Romo, Robert Griffin III, Alex Smith
Post date: Sunday, November 2, 2014 - 06:30
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy Football, injury updates, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-week-9-injury-updates-arian-foster-lamar-miller-doug-martin-darren-sproles

With six teams on bye in Week 9, fantasy owners need all the healthy running backs they can find. Which injured ball carriers can you count on today?


Jamaal Charles, RB, Kansas City Chiefs vs. New York Jets

Probable – Back
Charles is on the injury report with a back injury, but he was a full go at practice every day this week and is listed as Probable. There has been nothing reported or mentioned to suggest Charles won’t play, which is why he’s a top-five RB this week in Athlon Sports’ rankings.


Arian Foster, RB, Houston Texans vs. Philadelphia Eagles

Probable – Knee
Foster missed practice on Wednesday and was limited on Thursday and Friday, but that was mainly a coaches’ decision to give their workhorse some rest. The key here is his Probable designation and the fact that he’s rushed for 100 yards in four straight games with eight total touchdowns and 20 carries per game. Foster is our No. 1 RB this week, so we’re pretty confident in saying he will play.

Lamar Miller, RB, Miami Dolphins vs. San Diego Chargers

Probable – Knee
Miller was limited all week in practice by a knee injury, but he’s still expected to play today. He’s listed as Probable and will take his shot against a San Diego defense that’s allowed a running back to score at least 14 fantasy points in each of its past three games. Miller is averaging nearly five yards per carry this week and checks in as a top-10 starting option.

Doug Martin, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Cleveland Browns

Doubtful – Ankle
Martin did not practice one bit this week, so his Doubtful tag seems a mere formality. Martin has been a major disappointment this season and the Buccaneers seem content to move on from him and let Bobby Rainey and Charles Sims handle the backfield duties. Rainey has not only been a starter before, but he’s also thrived in the role, so he’s certainly worthy of RB2/flex consideration this week. Sims is the Bucs’ third-round pick but he has been on injured reserve all season because of a preseason ankle injury that required surgery. The team is reportedly high on Sims, but chances are he will be brought along slowly since this would be his first NFL action. For now, Rainey is the Tampa Bay back to own, but Sims is certainly worth adding if you have the room or are looking to beef up your RB depth.


Darren Sproles, RB, Philadelphia Eagles at Houston Texans

Probable – Knee
Sproles was Questionable last week, but ended up not playing. That should change today, however, as he was a full participant in practice every day and is listed as Probable. While it’s unclear how many touches Sproles will see in his first game back, he should be safe to employ as a flex option with upside.

Donald Brown and Ryan Mathews, RBs, San Diego Chargers at Miami Dolphins

Probable – Concussion, Out – Knee
Brown finally got through the league-mandated concussion protocols and was a full participant in practice every day. He’s listed as Probable and should be back out there today. Mathews was able to get a limited session in on Friday, but the team has already ruled him out. Branden Oliver should continue to see the bulk of the work, although it will be interesting to see how may touches Brown gets in his first game back. Oliver should be a pretty safe RB2, but I wouldn’t mess with Brown this week.

Fantasy Football Week 9 Injury Updates: Arian Foster, Lamar Miller, Doug Martin, Darren Sproles
Post date: Sunday, November 2, 2014 - 06:30
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy Football, injury updates, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /fantasy/week-9-fantasy-football-injury-updates-ronnie-hillman-andre-ellington-giovani-bernard-justin

Giovani Bernard and Rashad Jennings have already been ruled out for Week 9. Are there are any other top fantasy RBs in danger of not playing?


Andre Ellington, RB, Arizona Cardinals at Dallas Cowboys

Probable – Foot
Ellington was limited both Wednesday and Thursday, but that’s probably more a maintenance and rest matter than injury-related. He was a full go on Friday and is Probable yet again and is a no-doubt, must-start RB1. If anything, Ellington may see more touches than usual with backup Stepfan Taylor out because of a calf injury.


Montee Ball and Ronnie Hillman, RBs, Denver Broncos at New England Patriots

Out – Groin; Probable – Shoulder
Ball has yet to return to practice, so he will miss a fourth straight game. Hillman fell on his shoulder during Wednesday’s practice and was limited on Thursday. However, he insisted it was nothing serious and proved it by being a full participant on Friday. He is listed as Probable and will be a key part of the Broncos’ offensive game plan even though the Peyton Manning vs. Tom Brady angle is getting all of the attention. Not only has Hillman been extremely effective as Denver’s No. 1 rusher (283 yds., 4.9 ypc over last three games), the Patriots also are ranked near the bottom of the NFL in rushing defense (129.6 ypg) and are giving up the third-most fantasy points to opposing RBs. Hillman is a must-start RB this week and his backup, Juwan Thompson could be worth a look as a flex based on his role as Denver’s goal-line back.


Justin Forsett, RB, Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers

Probable – Ankle
Forsett increased his practice participation a little each day, finishing the week off as a full go on Friday. So even though he’s dealing with some sort of ankle injury, he is listed as Probable and fully expected to face the Steelers tonight. Forsett has been one of this season’s fantasy surprises, seizing the starting job for the Ravens and producing like a top-10 fantasy RB to this point. If you were fortunate enough to pick up Forsett early in the season, there’s no reason to shy away from him at this point.


Already Ruled Out:


Giovani Bernard, RB, Cincinnati Bengals – Bernard has been dinged up for a while now, and it looks like the damage has finally taken its toll. A combination of a clavicle injury from three weeks ago and a hip injury suffered last week is bad enough that it will sideline him for at least one game. The Bengals have already ruled Bernard out for today’s game after he was unable to practice. Bernard’s absence is not only a blow for Cincinnati, but it’s going to hurt fantasy-wise too with so many other backs on bye. Jeremy Hill will get the nod in Bernard’s absence and he immediately becomes a must-start option. For those who are desperate to fill out their lineup, backup Cedric Peerman may be worth a look. Just don’t expect Peerman to do what Hill has done as Bernard’s backup.


Rashad Jennings, RB, New York Giants – Jennings is reportedly getting closer to returning from his MCL sprain, but he hasn’t made it back to practice yet. He will miss a third straight game Monday night while the Giants turn to rookie Andre Williams and Peyton Hillis to carry the load. Williams should see the bulk of the carries, but he’s been rather inefficient (3.1 ypc) and the coaching staff is not ready to trust him as pass-blocker or receiver, which could impact his opportunities. That said, Williams still carries more fantasy appeal and potential than Hillis, as long as you’re not expecting anything more than RB2 production from him.

Week 9 Fantasy Football Injury Updates: Ronnie Hillman, Andre Ellington, Giovani Bernard, Justin Forsett
Post date: Sunday, November 2, 2014 - 06:30
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy Football, injury updates, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-week-9-injury-updates-aj-green-vincent-jackson-jordan-cameron

Cincinnati already knows it will be without its top running back for Week 9, but what about the Bengals’ All-Pro wide receiver? Here is the latest on A.J. Green and some other key pass-catchers.


Vincent Jackson, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Cleveland Browns

Probable – Rib
The rib is still an issue for Jackson, but it doesn’t seem to be enough of a hindrance to prevent him from playing. Jackson was listed as Questionable last week and still wound up playing, so his Probable designation should really put an end to any doubts about his availability. Jackson remains a relatively safe WR2 to employ in your starting lineup.

A.J. Green, WR, Cincinnati Bengals vs. Jacksonville Jaguars

Questionable – Toe
Green returned to practice this week and even though he was limited all three days, he’s definitely moving in the right direction. Green is officially listed as Questionable, but if you listened to head coach Marvin Lewis earlier this week he sounded pretty optimistic he would have his No. 1 wide receiver back. So barring a last-minute setback, Green will play after missing the past three games. With running back Giovani Bernard already ruled out, the Bengals really need their All-Pro wide receiver. And with so many other wideouts on bye, Green pretty much has to be in your lineup, even if he ends up being limited on the field.


Allen Hurns and Cecil Shorts, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars at Cincinnati Bengals

Probable – Ankle; Probable – Groin
At one point or another this season, pretty much every wide receiver on the Jaguars’ roster has dealt with some sort of injury. The good news is that even though Hurns and Shorts appear on this week’s injury report, both are Probable and expected to play today. Between the two, Hurns was the only one who missed any practice time, so there doesn’t appear to be any real concern here. What’s more concerning, however, is should you count on either Hurns or Shorts even in a week where so many other WRs aren’t available. That’s really up to you, depending on your options. For one, rookie QB Blake Bortles is going through the expected learning curve (league-leading 12 INTs) when it comes to getting acclimated to the NFL, while the Bengals have been very stingy against opposing WRs (29th in fantasy points allowed). I still think Shorts is the Jaguar wideout to own, but it’s hard to expect more than WR2 production from him right now. Hurns has had some productive games, but he hasn’t caught a TD since Week 3 and is probably nothing more than a flex option.


Charles Clay, TE, Miami Dolphins vs. San Diego Chargers

Probable – Knee
Clay’s knee injury just won’t go away, as he was limited all week in practice. He’s listed as Probable, so the expectation is that Clay will play, but this is a guy who goes from catching a TD one week to just one pass the next. Clay has been really hard to figure out this season but with six teams on bye, you may have no other choice but to roll the dice on him and hope for the best.

Already Ruled Out:


Jordan Cameron, Cleveland Browns – Cameron suffered a concussion last week and hasn’t made much progress going through the league-mandated tests. He was held out of practice this week and besides already being ruled out for today’s game, there are reports that Cameron could miss even more time. For now, hold on to Cameron and look elsewhere to fill out your TE spot this week.

Fantasy Football Week 9 Injury Updates: A.J. Green, Vincent Jackson, Jordan Cameron
Post date: Sunday, November 2, 2014 - 06:30
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy Football, injury updates, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /fantasy/week-9-fantasy-football-injury-updates-andre-johnson-reggie-wayne-travis-kelce-owen-daniels

Reggie Wayne should be back in the lineup Monday night to close out Week 9, but he’s not the only wide receiver or tight end of note that appears on the injury report. Here’s the lowdown on one tough Texan and a pass-catching Jet, as well as the Chiefs’ and Ravens’ big targets.


Reggie Wayne, WR, Indianapolis Colts at New York Giants (Mon.)

Probable – Elbow
Wayne missed last week because of an elbow injury and his presence was missed, as the Colts lost to the Steelers 51-34. The coaching staff gave Wayne Thursday off, but he was back on the practice field Friday and Saturday and is listed as Probable for the Monday night matchup with the Giants. T.Y. Hilton has been the Colts’ most productive wide receiver, but Wayne’s return should make Andrew Luck and the passing attack that much more difficult to stop. Wayne may not be the no-doubt WR1 he has been in the past, but he should still be started if you own him. Wayne’s return also impacts the outlooks for Donte Moncrief and Hakeem Nicks. Of this duo, Moncrief is the only one with any real fantasy appeal, but just be sure to temper your expectations of the athletic and explosive rookie.

Andre Johnson, WR, Houston Texans vs. Philadelphia Eagles

Probable – Ankle
Similar to teammate Arian Foster, Johnson was held out of practice on Wednesday before participating on a limited basis Thursday and Friday. Johnson is listed as Probable and maintains his WR1 status, as he’s gotten 33 targets over the last three games.

Travis Kelce, TE, Kansas City Chiefs vs. New York Jets

Probable – Ribs
The ribs are still an issue for Kelce, but the only day he was limited in practice this week was Wednesday. He’s listed as Probable, so Kelce remains a legitimate TE1 starting option. Kelce has caught at least three passes in all but one game thus far and is capable of making something happen anytime he touches the ball. Kelce has the upside, but Anthony Fasano (Probable, Shoulder) is a savvy veteran who could be worth taking a flyer on if you’re desperate at TE.

Eric Decker, WR, New York Jets at Kansas City Chiefs

Probable – Hamstring
Decker shows up on this week’s injury report, but he was a full go at practice all week, so there doesn’t appear to be much reason for concern. He’s Probable, but should he be in your lineup? Decker has just three touchdown catches in seven games and has yet to surpass 74 yards receiving. Today will be Decker’s first game with Michael Vick as his starting quarterback and the Jets are facing a Chiefs defense at home that’s done a really good job pressuring the pocker. Decker and teammate Percy Harvin are both pretty risky starting options right now, but you may have no other choice with six teams on bye.


Owen Daniels, TE, Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers

Questionable – Knee
Daniels missed last week’s game after undergoing a procedure on his knee, but he was back at practice this week. He was limited on Wednesday, held out on Thursday and was a full go on Friday. This curious pattern resulted in him getting the Questionable tag, which means he has a 50-50 shot of playing. That still is enough reason to think twice before putting Daniels back into the lineup, especially considering the Ravens don’t play until tonight. Unless you simply have no other choice, I would leave Daniels on the bench and revisit his status next week.

Week 9 Fantasy Football Injury Updates: Andre Johnson, Reggie Wayne, Travis Kelce, Owen Daniels
Post date: Sunday, November 2, 2014 - 06:30
All taxonomy terms: Overtime
Path: /overtime/20-greatest-halloween-related-names-sports-2014

Whether it’s their given name or a nickname, these athletes and sports figures fit right in on Halloween.


Hal Mumme

College football coach (Iowa Wesleyan 1989-91, Valdosta State 1992-96, Kentucky 1997-2000, Southeastern Louisiana 2003-04, New Mexico State 2005-08, McMurry 2009-12, SMU 2013, Bellhaven 2014)

Mumme (pronounced mummy) has been a college football head coach for more than 20 years and has more than 130 wins on his resume. For all his success, however, he is best known for his four seasons at Kentucky, where he went 20-26 overall and only 10-22 in SEC play. Mumme’s tenure with the Wildcats was (ahem) wrapped up at the end of the 2000 season with an eight-game losing streak and an investigation into NCAA rules violations related to illegally paying recruits. After taking a break from coaching, Mumme returned to the profession in 2003 and is currently the head coach of the Bellhaven Blazers, a NAIA school located in Jackson, Miss.


Boo Weekley

PGA (2002-present)

Weekley’s given name is Thomas Brent, but everyone knows him by his nickname, Boo. This nickname came from Yogi Bear’s sidekick, Boo Boo, and not from trying to scare people, which is fitting given Weekley’s colorful personality on and off the golf course. It was on full display during the 2008 Ryder Cup when he rode his driver like it was a horse down the fairway during Singles play. Weekley and the rest of the U.S. team certainly put a fright into the European team at Valhalla in Louisville, Ky., as the underdog Americans won back the Ryder Cup with a convincing five-point victory. Weekley has three career victories on the PGA Tour, the last coming at the 2013 Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial.


Boomer Esiason

NFL (Cincinnati Bengals 1984-92, ’97; New York Jets 1993-95; Arizona Cardinals 1996)

A quarterback for 14 years in the NFL, Norman Julius, better known as Boomer, finished his career with 37,920 passing yards and 247 touchdown passes. His best season came in 1998, when he was the league’s MVP and led the Bengals to a spot in Super Bowl XXIII. He and his teammates came up short in that game against San Francisco, but Esiason will always be loved in Cincinnati, where he spent 10 seasons. The same cannot necessarily be said in New York, at least as it relates to his playing career. Esiason heard many a boo from the home crowd during his 15-27 run as the Jets’ starting quarterback from 1993-95. Esiason has remained in the game as a television and radio analyst and he also co-hosts "Boomer and Carton," a morning radio show on WFAN Radio in New York.


Red Grange, “The Galloping Ghost”

NFL (Chicago Bears 1925, ’29-’34; New York Yankees 1926-27)

Harold Edward, better known as “Red,” first made a name for himself and earned his spectral nickname when he starred as a halfback at Illinois. While noted sportswriter Grantland Rice was the first to record Grange’s collegiate exploits in prose, it was his colleague, Warren Brown, who then wrote for the Chicago American, who dubbed Grange “The Galloping Ghost.” Grange went on to play10 seasons in the NFL, most of them with the Chicago Bears, who later retired his number. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1963.


Spook Jacobs

MLB (Philadelphia Athletics 1954, Kansas City Athletics 1955-56, Pittsburgh Pirates 1956)

His given name was Forrest Vandergrift, but for some unknown reason  he went by Spook during his brief baseball career. A second baseman, Jacobs hit .247 in 188 career games and never hit a home run.


Jerry Adair, “Casper the Friendly Ghost”

MLB (Baltimore Orioles 1958-66, Chicago White Sox 1966-67, Boston Red Sox 1967-68, Kansas City Royals 1969-70)

Adair’s major league career lasted 13 seasons, in large part due to his glove and ability to deliver in the clutch. He played most of his career for the Orioles and was a .254 hitter with 57 career home runs. He finished with a career .981 fielding percentage as he played all four infield positions (primarily second base and shortstop) at some point during his time in the majors.


Michael Myers

NFL (Dallas Cowboys 1998-2003, Cleveland Browns 2003-04, Denver Broncos 2005-06, Cincinnati Bengals 2007)

Mike Myers

MLB (Florida Marlins 1995, Detroit Tigers 1995-97, Milwaukee Brewers 1998-99, Colorado Rockies 2000-01, Arizona Diamondbacks 2002-03, Seattle Mariners 2004, Boston Red Sox 2004-05, New York Yankees 2006-07, Chicago White Sox 2007)

Michael Dewayne Myers terrorized quarterbacks as a defensive end in the NFL for six seasons collecting 15.5 sacks, while Michael Stanley Myers lasted 13 seasons in baseball as a left-handed relief pitcher. Myers didn’t exactly slash his was through major league batters, as he played for nine different teams in his career. His major league totals include a 25-24 record, 4.29 ERA, 256 walks and 429 strikeouts in 541 2/3 career innings pitched.


John Candelaria, “Candy Man”

MLB (Pittsburgh Pirates 1975-85, ’93; California Angels 1985-87; New York Mets 1987; New York Yankees 1988-89; Montreal Expos 1989; Minnesota Twins 1990; Toronto Blue Jays 1990; Los Angeles Dodgers 1991-92)

Candelaria was a left-handed pitcher who won 177 games during his 19-year major league career. The “Candy Man” finished with a respectable 3.33 career ERA over his 2,525 2/3 innings pitched. He was at his sweetest in 1977 when he went 20-5 with a National League-leading 2.34 ERA. He made his only All-Star Game that season and finished fifth in the NL Cy Young voting.


Vladimir Guerrero, “Vlad the Impaler”

MLB (1996-2003 Montreal Expos, Anaheim Angels 2004, Los Angeles Angels 2005-09, Texas Rangers 2010, Baltimore Orioles 2011)

For 16 years Guerrero struck fear into the hearts and minds of major league pitchers because of his tendency to swing at whatever they threw at him, regardless of where it was located. A career .318 hitter who was named AL MVP in 2004, Guerrero finished many of his at-bats holding his wooden stake after driving it right through the pitcher’s heart with yet another monster home run or game-winning hit.


George Wolfman & Cedric Wolfman

Minor league catcher 1934-35; Minor league pitcher 1954-56

Neither of these guys got a chance to howl on the major-league level, although I bet they were a lot of fun on nights with a full moon.


Moonlight Graham

MLB (New York Giants 1905)

Best known for his inclusion in the iconic baseball movie, “Field of Dreams,” Archibald Wright, better known as “Moonlight” was in fact a real major leaguer. The outfielder’s career in the big leagues lasted all of one game, actually one inning, with the New York Giants 1905 when he was 27. He spent seven seasons in the minors, including his last in professional baseball in 1908. After his baseball dreams came to an end, he worked as a doctor in Chisholm, Minn., for 50 years before passing away in 1965 at the age of 85.


Warren Moon

NFL (Houston Oilers 1984-93, Minnesota Vikings 1994-96, Seattle Seahawks 1997-98, Kansas City Chiefs 1999-2000)
After going undrafted out of college, Moon started his professional football career playing for the CFL’s Edmonton Eskimos. Six seasons later, Moon migrated from north of the border to Houston where he started his NFL career with the Oilers. Moon played 10 seasons for the Oilers, setting numerous franchise records, before moving on to the Vikings, Seahawks and ending his career with the Chiefs in 2000. Moon’s No. 1 jersey was retired by the Oliers (now Tennessee Titans) and he finished his NFL career with 49,325 yards passing and 291 touchdown passes. In 2006, Moon became the first modern African-American quarterback inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He’s also a member of the Canadian Football Hall of Fame (2001).


Jose Bautista, “Joey Bats”

MLB (Baltimore Orioles 2004, Tampa Bay Devil Rays 2004, Kansas City Royals 2004, Pittsburgh Pirates 2004-08, Toronto Blue Jays 2008-present)

Bautista bounced around with four different teams in his first season in the majors before finding a home in Pittsburgh. However, it’s been his run in Toronot during which Bautista has made a name for himself and earned his nickname for the damage he’s done with his Louisville Slugger. In 2010-11, Bautista truly drove opposing pitchers batty as he hit a combined 97 home runs, drove in 227 runs, scored 214 and walked 232 times. He was named to the American League All-Star team and finished in the top four of the AL MVP voting each of these seasons. Injuries derailed him in 2012 and '13, causing him to miss a combined 114 games. But he was back in form this season, finishing in the top 10 in the AL in numerous offensive categories, including home runs (35, 5th), RBIs (103, 7th), runs (101, 3rd), walks (104, 2nd), and OPS (.928, 4th). 


Torii Hunter, “Spider-Man”

MLB (Minnesota Twins, 1997-2007, Los Angeles Angels 2008-12, Detroit Tigers 2013-14)

The recipient of nine straight Gold Gloves from 2001-10, Hunter has an established reputation for his defense, most notably the art of robbing the home run. First with the Twins, then the Angels, Hunter earned his nickname for his adept ability at climbing the outfield wall or timing his leap just perfectly to snag what seemed like a certain home run. Many a batter has experienced the agony of defeat as they watched the baseball that seemed ticketed to go over the fence get ensnared in the web of Hunter’s glove instead. Hunter signed with Detroit as a free agent prior to the start of the 2013 season, and has helped the Tigers win the AL Central in each of his two seasons in Motown and represented the team at the 2013 All-Star Game.


Spider Webb

Formula 1 driver (1950, ’52-‘54)

Webb’s racing career lasted all of four races, in which he never finished higher than 19th. Tony Stewart may have made the move famous, but it would have been something to see Webb climb the fence after reaching Victory Lane, no?


Webb Simpson

PGA (2008-present)

The professional golfer’s given name is James Frederick Webb, but whatever you choose to call him, you have to include major champion in that title. Simpson won the 2012 U.S. Open at Olympic Club in San Francisco with a final score of one-over par. Simpson has four career victories on the PGA Tour and has been a member of two Presidents Cup (2011, '13) and two Ryder Cup (2012, '14) teams. Simpson was one of Tom Watson's captain's picks for the U.S. team that failed to wrest the Cup back from Europe in September. Simpson went 0-1-1 at the competition held at Gleneagles in Scotland, losing his Friday morning fourballs match with partner Bubba Watson and having his Sunday singles match against Ian Poulter.


Brandon Webb

MLB (Arizona Diamondbacks 2003-09)

Shoulder injuries have short-circuited his pitching career, but Webb was at his best from 2005-08. He won 70 games during that four-year span, including 22 in 2008. He spun the best season of his career in 2006 as he went 16-8 with a 3.10 ERA and was awarded the NL Cy Young Award. He finished second in the voting the next two seasons, but hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2009.


Spud Webb

NBA (1985-91, ’95-‘96 Atlanta Hawks; Sacramento Kings 1991-95; Minnesota Timberwolves 1996; Orlando Magic 1998)

Anthony Jerome, better known as “Spud,” stands all of 5’7, but he never let his lack of size limit his impact on a basketball court. After playing at NC State for Jim Valvano, Webb was drafted in the fourth round of the 1985 NBA Draft by the Detroit Pistons. He never played for the Pistons and ended up spending the first six seasons of his NBA careeer with the Atlanta Hawks. Webb will forever be remembered for winning the 1986 NBA Slam Dunk Contest during All-Star weekend as he surprised everyone in defeating defending champion and Hawks teammate Dominique Wilkins for the title. Webb remains one of only two participants under six feet tall (Nate Robinson, who is 5’9 won it in 2006) to win the slam dunk competition. Webb’s NBA career lasted 12 seasons and he is documented as the third-shortest player in NBA history. He currently is the President of Basketball Operations for the Texas Legends, the NBA Development League team for the Dallas Mavericks.

20 Greatest Halloween-Related Names in Sports
Post date: Thursday, October 30, 2014 - 17:30
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2014-quarterback-rankings-week-9

Six teams are on bye, which means every team that is playing is represented in Athlon Sports’ Fantasy Football Quarterback Rankings for Week 9. Of course, the emphasis is on the names at the top, which starts with Peyton Manning. The reigning MVP will go head-to-head with Tom Brady for the 16th time this Sunday. Manning still trails Andrew Luck in the fantasy points department, but No. 18 has 10 touchdowns and no interceptions over his last three games. Brady has been even better, leading his position in fantasy points over the last four weeks thanks to a sterling 14:0 TD:INT ratio. As well as these two future Hall of Famers have played lately, neither can top Ben Roethlisberger’s 522 yards and six touchdown passes against Indianapolis last week. Big Ben also will face a familiar foe this week when Pittsburgh and Baltimore renew their AFC North rivalry Sunday night.


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


Positional Rankings: QB I RB I WR I TE I DST I K


2014 NFL Week 9 Fantasy Football Rankings — Quarterbacks


Teams on bye: Atlanta, Buffalo, Chicago, Detroit, Green Bay, Tennessee


1Peyton ManningDENat NE
2Andrew LuckINDat NYG (Mon.)
3Drew BreesNOat CAR (Thurs.)
4Tom BradyNEvs. DEN
5Philip RiversSDat MIA
6Russell WilsonSEAvs. OAK
7Colin KaepernickSFvs. STL
8Cam NewtonCARvs. NO (Thurs.)
9Nick FolesPHIat HOU
10Ben RoethlisbergerPITvs. BAL
11Tony RomoDALvs. ARI
12Carson PalmerARIat DAL
13Eli ManningNYGvs. IND (Mon.)
14Andy DaltonCINvs. JAC
15Ryan TannehillMIAvs. SD
16Joe FlaccoBALat PIT
17Alex SmithKCvs. NYJ
18Robert Griffin IIIWASat MIN
19Brian HoyerCLEvs. TB
20Ryan FitzpatrickHOUvs. PHI
21Mike GlennonTBat CLE
22Teddy BridgewaterMINvs. WAS
23Austin DavisSTLat SF
24Michael VickNYJat KC
25Blake BortlesJACat CIN
26Derek CarrOAKat SEA

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

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


Need more fantasy help? Visit

Fantasy Football 2014 Quarterback Rankings: Week 9
Post date: Thursday, October 30, 2014 - 06:30
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2014-running-back-rankings-week-9

Lots of firepower sitting on the sidelines with six teams on bye, but there are still some pretty big weapons atop Athlon Sports’ Fantasy Football Running Back Rankings for Week 9. Leading off our list is Arian Foster, who led all backs in fantasy points thanks to 173 total yards (151 rushing) and three touchdowns. Foster is our No. 1 pick because DeMarco Murray, who ran his record streak to eight straight 100-yard rushing games, is set to face Arizona’s third-ranked rushing defense. While Foster and Murray have been strong all season long, Mark Ingram was the best on the ground in Week 8. Ingram gashed Green Bay for 172 yards and now gets a shot at a Carolina defense that has struggled (135.3 ypg, 28th) against the run this season. Ingram is a borderline top-10 option this week.


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


Positional Rankings: QB I RB I WR I TE I DST I K


2014 NFL Week 9 Fantasy Football Rankings — Running Backs


Teams on bye: Atlanta, Buffalo, Chicago, Detroit, Green Bay, Tennessee


1Arian FosterHOUvs. PHI
2DeMarco MurrayDALvs. ARI
3Marshawn LynchSEAvs. OAK
4Jamaal CharlesKCvs. NYJ
5Le'Veon BellPITvs. BAL
6Andre EllingtonARIat DAL
7LeSean McCoyPHIat HOU
8Lamar MillerMIAvs. SD
9Ronnie HillmanDENat NE
10Giovani BernardCINvs. JAC
11Ahmad BradshawINDat NYG (Mon.)
12Mark IngramNOat CAR (Thurs.)
13Justin ForsettBALat PIT
14Alfred MorrisWASat MIN
15Jerick McKinnonMINvs. WAS
16Ben TateCLEvs. TB
17Branden OliverSDat MIA
18Frank GoreSFvs. STL
19Denard RobinsonJACat CIN
20Chris IvoryNYJat KC
21Andre WilliamsNYGvs. IND (Mon.)
22Shane VereenNEvs. DEN
23Trent RichardsonINDat NYG (Mon.)
24Darren McFaddenOAKat SEA
25Jonas GrayNEvs. DEN
26Tre MasonSTLat SF
27DeAngelo WilliamsCARvs. NO (Thurs.)
28Bobby RaineyTBat CLE
29Lorenzo TaliaferroBALat PIT
30Jeremy HillCINvs. JAC
31Jonathan StewartCARvs. NO (Thurs.)
32Knile DavisKCvs. NYJ
33Darren SprolesPHIat HOU
34Juwan ThompsonDENat NE
35Travaris CadetNOat CAR (Thurs.)
36Charles SimsTBat CLE
37Isaiah CrowellCLEvs. TB
38Ryan MathewsSDat MIA
39Carlos HydeSFvs. STL
40Benny CunninghamSTLat SF
41Zac StacySTLat SF
42Roy HeluWASat MIN
43Alfred BlueHOUvs. PHI
44Terrance WestCLEvs. TB
45Matt AsiataMINvs. WAS
46Chris JohnsonNYJat KC
47Toby GerhartJACat CIN
48LeGarrette BlountPITvs. BAL

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

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


Need more fantasy help? Visit

Fantasy Football 2014 Running Back Rankings: Week 9
Post date: Thursday, October 30, 2014 - 06:30
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2014-wide-receiver-rankings-week-9

Several familiar faces are missing from Athlon Sports’ Fantasy Football Wide Receiver Rankings for Week 9 because of the bye situation. Six teams are taking this week off, which means some fantasy owners may be digging a little deeper into their bench than usual. Fortunately, there’s still plenty of talent available at wide receiver, starting with leading fantasy scorer Antonio Brown. Brown caught 10 passes for 133 yards and two scores against Indianapolis, and that still was the best performance in Week 8. Jeremy Maclin led all wideouts in fantasy points after putting up 187 yards and two touchdowns against Arizona while Emmanuel Sanders was on the end of three Peyton Manning touchdown passes in the Broncos’ Thursday night win over San Diego. All three are top-six options this week, followed by A.J. Green, who is aiming to return after missing the past three games because of a toe injury.


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


Positional Rankings: QB I RB I WR I TE I DST I K


2014 NFL Week 9 Fantasy Football Rankings — Wide Receivers


Teams on bye: Atlanta, Buffalo, Chicago, Detroit, Green Bay, Tennessee


1Antonio BrownPITvs. BAL
2Demaryius ThomasDENat NE
3Dez BryantDALvs. ARI
4Jeremy MaclinPHIat HOU
5T.Y. HiltonINDat NYG (Mon.)
6Emmanuel SandersDENat NE
7A.J. GreenCINvs. JAC
8Mike WallaceMIAvs. SD
9Kelvin BenjaminCARvs. NO (Thurs.)
10Steve SmithBALat PIT
11Andre JohnsonHOUvs. PHI
12DeSean JacksonWASat MIN
13Keenan AllenSDat MIA
14DeAndre HopkinsHOUvs. PHI
15Rueben RandleNYGvs. IND (Mon.)
16Brandon LaFellNEvs. DEN
17Odell Beckham Jr.NYGvs. IND (Mon.)
18Doug BaldwinSEAvs. OAK
19Vincent JacksonTBat CLE
20Brandin CooksNOat CAR (Thurs.)
21Larry FitzgeraldARIat DAL
22Pierre GarconWASat MIN
23Michael FloydARIat DAL
24Marques ColstonNOat CAR (Thurs.)
25Mohamed SanuCINvs. JAC
26Julian EdelmanNEvs. DEN
27Torrey SmithBALat PIT
28Terrance WilliamsDALvs. ARI
29Michael CrabtreeSFvs. STL
30Andrew HawkinsCLEvs. TB
31Cordarrelle PattersonMINvs. WAS
32Reggie WayneINDat NYG (Mon.)
33Allen RobinsonJACat CIN
34Percy HarvinNYJat KC
35Mike EvansTBat CLE
36Eric DeckerNYJat KC
37Anquan BoldinSFvs. STL
38Martavis BryantPITvs. BAL
39Andre HolmesOAKat SEA
40Wes WelkerDENat NE
41James JonesOAKat SEA
42Dwayne BoweKCvs. NYJ
43Greg JenningsMINvs. WAS
44Cecil ShortsJACat CIN
45John BrownARIat DAL
46Malcom FloydSDat MIA
47Donte MoncriefINDat NYG (Mon.)
48Markus WheatonPITvs. BAL

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

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


Need more fantasy help? Visit

Fantasy Football 2014 Wide Receiver Rankings: Week 9
Post date: Thursday, October 30, 2014 - 06:30
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2014-tight-end-rankings-week-9

After a vintage performance last week, there’s a familiar face atop Athlon Sports’ Fantasy Football Tight End Rankings for Week 9. Rob Gronkowski abused Chicago’s defense, catching nine passes for 143 yards and three touchdowns in New England’s Week 8 rout. Gronk certainly looks to be back and he’s our No. 1 TE this week. Julius Thomas and Jimmy Graham are certainly no slouches by any respect, and Graham owners in particular were no doubt thrilled to see their big man be productive (5-59-1) last week even though he’s still dealing with a sprained shoulder. For those who may be looking for a fill-in TE these next two weeks, you could certainly do worse than Heath Miller, if he’s available in your league. The veteran went for 112 yards and a touchdown last week and is a top-10 fantasy TE on the season.


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


Positional Rankings: QB I RB I WR I TE I DST I K


2014 NFL Week 9 Fantasy Football Rankings — Tight Ends


Teams on bye: Atlanta, Buffalo, Chicago, Detroit, Green Bay, Tennessee


1Rob GronkowskiNEvs. DEN
2Julius ThomasDENat NE
3Jimmy GrahamNOat CAR (Thurs.)
4Greg OlsenCARvs. NO (Thurs.)
5Antonio GatesSDat MIA
6Dwayne AllenINDat NYG (Mon.)
7Jordan ReedWASat MIN
8Travis KelceKCvs. NYJ
9Larry DonnellNYGvs. IND (Mon.)
10Jason WittenDALvs. ARI
11Zach ErtzPHIat HOU
12Vernon DavisSFvs. STL
13Heath MillerPITvs. BAL
14Jared CookSTLat SF
15Clay HarborJACat CIN
16Charles ClayMIAvs. SD
17Coby FleenerINDat NYG (Mon.)
18Jace AmaroNYJat KC
19Tim WrightNEvs. DEN
20Austin Seferian-JenkinsTBat CLE
21Jermaine GreshamCINvs. JAC
22Crockett GillmoreBALat PIT
23Niles PaulWASat MIN
24Mychal RiveraOAKat SEA

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


Need more fantasy help? Visit

Fantasy Football 2014 Tight End Rankings: Week 9
Post date: Thursday, October 30, 2014 - 06:30
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2014-defensespecial-teams-rankings-week-9

Not to pick on Jacksonville, but there’s a reason its opponent leads off Athlon Sports’ Fantasy Football Defense/Special Teams Rankings for Week 9. To put it simply, the Jaguars are allowing an average of 17 fantasy points per game (Athlon scoring) to opposing DSTs. Last week alone, Miami returned two Blake Bortles interceptions for touchdowns. This week’s lucky DST is Cincinnati, which has rebounded somewhat after some disappointing showings. Another strong starting option this week is Kansas City, which will unleash Justin Houston (NFL-leading 10 sacks) and its other pass-rushers against Michael Vick and the turnover-prone Jets (18 giveaways) on Sunday.


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


Positional Rankings: QB I RB I WR I TE I DST I K


2014 NFL Week 9 Fantasy Football Rankings — Defense/Special Teams


Teams on bye: Atlanta, Buffalo, Chicago, Detroit, Green Bay, Tennessee


1Cincinnati Bengalsvs. JAC
2San Francisco 49ersvs. STL
3Kansas City Chiefsvs. NYJ
4Seattle Seahawksvs. OAK
5Cleveland Brownsvs. TB
6Philadelphia Eaglesat HOU
7Minnesota Vikingsvs. WAS
8Houston Texansvs. PHI
9Baltimore Ravensat PIT
10Miami Dolphinsvs. SD
11Indianapolis Coltsat NYG (Mon.)
12Arizona Cardinalsat DAL
13Pittsburgh Steelersvs. BAL
14Denver Broncosat NE
15New England Patriotsvs. DEN
16Washington Redskinsat MIN

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

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


Need more fantasy help? Visit

Fantasy Football 2014 Defense/Special Teams Rankings: Week 9
Post date: Thursday, October 30, 2014 - 06:30
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2014-kicker-rankings-week-9

Points will probably be aplenty in New England, but Athlon Sports’ Fantasy Football Kicker Rankings for Week 9 gives top billing to a guy who will be toiling in the Steel City on Sunday night. Justin Tucker, who nailed a 50- and 53-yard field goal last week, checks in at No. 1 on this week’s list because Baltimore vs. Pittsburgh matchups usually go down to the wire and touchdowns are sometimes scarce. Tucker is second to Stephen Gostkowski in fantasy points and field goals made, and the Ravens’ reliable kicker has already attempted six field goals from 50 yards and beyond, connecting on three of them.


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


Positional Rankings: QB I RB I WR I TE I DST I K


2014 NFL Week 9 Fantasy Football Rankings — Kickers


Teams on bye: Atlanta, Buffalo, Chicago, Detroit, Green Bay, Tennessee


1Justin TuckerBALat PIT
2Adam VinatieriINDat NYG (Mon.)
3Stephen GostkowskiNEvs. DEN
4Dan BaileyDALvs. ARI
5Steven HauschkaSEAvs. OAK
6Cody ParkeyPHIat HOU
7Chandler CatanzaroARIat DAL
8Phil DawsonSFvs. STL
9Brandon McManusDENat NE
10Nick NovakSDat MIA
11Blair WalshMINvs. WAS
12Cairo SantosKCvs. NYJ
13Shayne GrahamNOat CAR (Thurs.)
14Randy BullockHOUvs. PHI
15Shaun SuishamPITvs. BAL
16Mike NugentCINvs. JAC

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

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

Fantasy Football 2014 Kicker Rankings: Week 9
Post date: Thursday, October 30, 2014 - 06:30
All taxonomy terms: NFL, News
Path: /nfl/5-nfl-trades-we-would-love-see

The NFL trade deadline is Tuesday, Oct. 28 at 4 p.m. ET. Typically the quietest of the four major sports’ deadline days, it’s possible that the biggest deal that will be made this season has already occurred. Seattle sent wide receiver Percy Harvin to the Jets for a conditional 2015 draft pick on Oct. 18. While the complete ramifications of this deal are still to be determined, in-season trades involving Pro Bowl-caliber players are the exception rather than the norm in today’s NFL.


This lack of perceived blockbuster trades, however, does not prevent any fan or knowledgeable follower of the sport from playing armchair general manager. To that end, here are some NFL trades we would love to see happen, but fully acknowledge the reality that these proposals will never come to fruition. Again, the point of this exercise is to have some fun at the expense of ignoring things such as current health, contracts, teams’ salary cap situations, roster makeup and, most importantly, what it would take to acquire these players in the first place.


Ndamukong Suh to Dallas

Of all the ideas proposed here, this one may actually make the most sense. For starters, Suh will be a free agent after this season and he’s already expressed an interest in playing elsewhere. While Dallas doesn’t appear to be the city atop his wish list (New York), do you think Suh would say no to a chance to play for the most recognized franchise in the NFL and one that, just like the Lions, is sitting at 6-2 atop its division?


For the Cowboys this makes total sense, as Suh is an All-Pro defensive tackle that would give Rod Marinelli’s defense the impact player it is sorely missing. Dallas’ success thus far is largely a byproduct of a clock-chewing, run-heavy offense that has kept a patchwork defense from getting too exposed. The Cowboys lack star power and playmakers on defense and Suh would fit both bills. A defensive tackle, Suh has 3.5 sacks while Dallas' entire defense has nine in eight games. This also would give Suh eight games to showcase his abilities to potential suitors around the league, including one particular owner who has very deep pockets and also serves as the general manager.


Vincent Jackson to New England

Tampa Bay is 1-6, pretty much already eliminating the Buccaneers from playoff contention even with nine games left. Again, not knowing what New England would be willing to give up to acquire a Pro Bowl-caliber wide receiver like Jackson, it’s certainly fun to picture him with the Patriots, no? After stumbling some out of the gates, Bill Belichick’s team has won four in a row and is considered a pretty safe bet to win its 11th AFC East title in the last 12 seasons.


However, in New England the goal isn’t just to win division crowns. And for these Patriots to get back to the Super Bowl, Tom Brady sure could use an established vertical threat like Jackson. Right now the closest thing Brady has is Brandon LaFell, who is averaging 15.4 yards per catch. But LaFell has never caught more than 49 passes in a season while Jackson has five 1,000-yard seasons on his resume, along with 448 career receptions and 54 touchdowns. Jackson is averaging 17.2 yards per catch in his career and his best seasons came when he was in San Diego and had Philip Rivers as his quarterback. You don’t think Jackson and Brady couldn’t do some damage together?


Jay Cutler to Tennessee

Chicago signed Cutler to a seven-year, $126 million contract extension in January. So clearly money is a big factor when it comes to Cutler changing teams anytime soon. But for the moment, let’s say that contract doesn’t exist. Cutler first made a name for himself when he earned SEC Offensive Player of the Year honors in 2005 as a senior at Vanderbilt. After three seasons in Denver, Cutler was traded to Chicago and has had his shares of highs and lows in both uniforms.


Despite Cutler’s struggles, there’s no denying his athletic ability and strong arm, tools that Tennessee head coach Ken Whisenhunt would probably love to get his hands on. In his first season leading the Titans, Whisenhunt has used three different quarterbacks – Jake Locker, Charlie Whitehurst and this past Sunday rookie Zach Mettenberger – and of this trio only Mettenberger seems to have a realistic shot of an extended stay with the team. Prior to coming to Tennessee, Whisenhunt served as San Diego’s offensive coordinator. In one season, he helped Philip Rivers go from a turnover-prone (NFL-high 22 in 2012) quarterback to a Pro Bowl signal-caller (4,478-32-11) on a playoff team. Cutler’s no stranger to Nashville and Whisenhunt’s got a pretty good track record when it comes to coaching signal-callers. Would this duo be a hit in Music City? There’s only one way to find out.


C.J. Spiller to Indianapolis

Spiller broke his collarbone a week ago and won’t be eligible to return until Week 16, but for the sake of this argument, he’s completely healthy and still playing. The No. 9 overall pick of the 2010 draft, Spiller rushed for 1,244 yards two seasons ago, but has really yet to live up to the hype surrounding him after a record-setting collegiate career at Clemson. Spiller has breakaway speed and more than enough athleticism to make him a legitimate big-play threat, but he’s also been nicked up by various injuries throughout his career.


For whatever reason, it just hasn’t completely worked out in Buffalo, so perhaps a change of scenery would do the pending free agent some good. Enter Indianapolis, a team that could desperately use a change-of-pace running back like Spiller. Trent Richardson has been better in his first full season with the Colts, but he certainly hasn’t lived up to his lofty draft status (No. 3 overall, 2012), and as productive as Ahmad Bradshaw has been (8 total TDs), he doesn’t possess the speed and explosiveness that Spiller does. Andrew Luck is already one of the NFL’s best quarterbacks. Just imagine how much more dangerous Luck and Indianapolis’ offense could be if it were to add a versatile, all-purpose dynamo like Spiller.


Johnny Manziel to Houston

To this point, Manziel’s playing time during his rookie season has consisted of one token appearance on a trick play where he caught a pass, which was nullified by a penalty. For better or worse, head coach Mike Pettine seems committed to sticking with Brian Hoyer as his quarterback. That means, for our purposes, that Manziel is available for relocation.


There are several teams out there that need a quarterback and as appealing as some of those options are for different reasons (Johnny Football in the Silver and Black!), the one that makes the most sense is Houston. Ryan Fitzpatrick isn’t the long-term answer at quarterback for the Texans and no one knows if former New England backup Ryan Mallett or fourth-round pick Tom Savage are either. Bill O’Brien has had some pretty good success with quarterbacks during his coaching career, including some guy named Tom Brady, so why not make Manziel his newest project. Manziel’s already enjoyed a fair amount of success in Texas, why can’t history repeat itself? And how ironic would it be if Manziel were to accomplish this with the Texans instead of the Cowboys?


And one more to chew on…


Robert Griffin III to Philadelphia

So do I have your attention now? RG3 has yet to get back on the field since dislocating his ankle in Week 2, but it’s also safe to say that the honeymoon is over for the second pick of the 2012 draft. Since winning AP Offensive Rookie of the Year honors and leading Washington to the NFC East title his first season, Griffin has gone 4-11 as a starter with more turnovers (17 total) than touchdowns (16). Rookie head coach Jay Gruden has yet to fully endorse Griffin as his quarterback, so why not speculate where he could wind up should he become available?


After taking the NFL by storm in his first season, Chip Kelly’s Eagles have not been near as productive on offense to this point. Some of this can be attributed to the erratic play of Nick Foles. In his first full season as the starter, Foles has already thrown more interceptions (nine) in seven games than the two picks he had in 13 contests last season. Foles doesn’t exactly fit the mold of the dual-threat quarterbacks that ran Kelly’s offense so successfully at Oregon. While everyone has already opined about Marcus Mariota reuniting with Kelly in the NFL next season, the reality is that the Eagles probably won’t be positioned high enough in the draft to take a guy who is among this season’s leading Heisman Trophy contenders.


That’s where Griffin comes in. RG3 didn’t play for Kelly in college, but he did excel in a similar offensive system at Baylor, one that let him fully showcase his throwing and running abilities. As a rookie in the NFL, Griffin also was highly successful running an offense that used a lot of zone-read option looks, as evidenced by his 815 yards rushing to go along with 3,200 yards passing. Griffin hasn’t been the same quarterback since tearing the ACL and LCL in his right knee for a second time in the Jan. 2013 playoff loss to Seattle. While he may never be as dynamic and explosive as he was in his prime at Baylor and as a rookie; one can’t help but wonder how Griffin would fare running Kelly’s offense, a system that on paper appears to be tailor-made for RG3’s skill set. Besides, it’s not like the Eagles and Redskins haven’t “traded” players recently, right? At least this time, Kelly probably wouldn’t have to worry about this ex-Redskin not being a team player.

5 NFL Trades We Would Love to See
Post date: Tuesday, October 28, 2014 - 10:30
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy Football, waiver wire, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2014-waiver-wire-week-9

Week 9 may represent the halfway point of the NFL season, but in fantasy football it’s where things really start to get interesting. For starters, the fantasy playoffs are creeping closer with every passing week, which means every game is critical. Add to this the fact that six teams are on bye in Weeks 9 and 10 and it’s shaping up to be one busy week of moves and maneuvers.


Roster depth and management skills will certainly be put to the test this week not only because of injuries but also due to the fact that guys like Aaron Rodgers, Matt Forté, Julio Jones, Jordy Nelson, Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery, Martellus Bennett and many others are not available.


Athlon Sports is here to help you sort through some of the potential free agent options. The players listed in our weekly fantasy football waiver wire may be one-week adds, some may be worth holding on to all season long and some are of the “sleeper” variety that you may simply want to keep an eye on.


Teams on bye: Atlanta, Buffalo, Chicago, Detroit, Green Bay, Tennessee




Week 8 Recap: Carson Palmer threw for 329 yards and two touchdowns in Arizona’s come-from-behind win against Philadelphia. Both of Palmer’s touchdown passes were 75 yards or longer, with the game-winner to John Brown coming with 1:21 left in the game. Palmer has appealing matchups (at Dallas, St. Louis) on tap for those who have bye-week issues to deal with.


Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals

Dalton has been mentioned in this space before, but with 12 teams on bye over the next two weeks, quarterback help may be a little harder to come by. While his numbers are down compared to last season, Dalton is still a top-20 fantasy QB in terms of points and he’s got pretty decent matchups the next two weeks – home against Jacksonville and Cleveland. Dalton also should get All-Pro wide receiver A.J. Green back pretty soon, perhaps as early as this week. Remember, of the 19 QBs currently ahead of Dalton in fantasy points, eight of them will be going on bye in the next two weeks.


Michael Vick, New York Jets

Geno Smith was awful, to say the least, on Sunday against the Bills. Before getting pulled, Smith had more interceptions (three) than completions (two). Vick took over and while his numbers left much to be desired (18-of-36, 153 yards, INT, 49.9 passer rating), he led the team in rushing (69 yards on eight carries) and got the Jets to within a touchdown at halftime. Vick also lost two fumbles, but Rex Ryan has already named Vick as his starter for this week’s game in Kansas City. So with several sure-fire fantasy starting QBs (Aaron Rodgers, Matthew Stafford, Matt Ryan, Jay Cutler) on bye, you have to at least consider Vick over some of the other fill-in options, right? For example, are you really going to rely on rookies Derek Carr (at SEA), Blake Bortles (at CIN) or even Teddy Bridgewater (vs. WAS)?


Other possible fill-in options*: Joe Flacco, Alex Smith, Eli Manning, Ryan Tannehill


Running Backs


Week 8 Recap: Denard Robinson posted his second straight 100-yard rushing game (16 att., 108 yds.), as one of the few bright spots for the Jaguars. Robinson fared considerably better than either Tre Mason (7 att., 32 yds.), Anthony Dixon (22 att., 44 yds.) or Bryce Brown (7 att., 15 yds.), who struggled to get anything going on Sunday.


Travaris Cadet and Mark Ingram, New Orleans Saints

Ingram (right) was highlighted in this space last week and that was before he gashed Green Bay for 172 yards (7.2 ypc) and a touchdown. If Ingram is still available, he should be added immediately. Cadet meanwhile could prove to be a sneaky pickup, as Pierre Thomas (shoulder) is out for at least another game or two and the short turnaround for Thursday’s game against Carolina doesn’t appear to benefit Khiry Robinson’s (foot) injury situation. Cadet got just one carry (7 yards) Sunday night, but he was targeted five times, finishing with four catches for 40 yards. With so many running backs on bye, Cadet could be an intriguing flex fill-in option, especially in PPR leagues.


Jeremy Hill, Cincinnati Bengals

Giovani Bernard left yesterday’s win over Baltimore with a hip injury. Bernard is pretty banged up right now so even if he doesn’t miss any time, he may see a decrease in his touches. To that end, Hill’s 10 carries Sunday were only the second time he had topped double digits this season (15 in Week 2). He’s averaging less than four yards per carry, but does have three rushing touchdowns. Hill’s numbers should go up with more opportunities, which is certainly possible given Bernard’s growing list of bumps and bruises.


Bobby Rainey and Charles Sims, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Doug Martin hurt his ankle in the third quarter of Sunday’s overtime loss to Minnesota, adding yet another bump in the second-year player’s road. Even when he’s managed to stay on the field, Martin has been ineffective at best, averaging less than three yards per carry with one touchdown. Rainey figures to be next man up, as he’s leading the team in rushing with 287 yards (4.6 ypc) and is third in receptions (22). Sims, however, is the potential wild card. The Buccaneers’ third-round pick, Sims fractured his ankle during the preseason and has been out since. He returned to practice last week and with Martin’s uncertain status, Sims could get some touches sooner rather than later. Described as a Matt Forté clone when he was drafted, Sims was touted coming out of West Virginia (started collegiate career at Houston) for his pass-catching ability. If anything, Sims is worth a stash, especially if your league has an injured reserve (IR) slot.


Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams, Carolina Panthers

Carolina hosts New Orleans on Thursday and for the first time in a while, the Panthers may have a crowded backfield. Williams, who has missed all but two games because of ankle injuries, is expected to return to action this week. This muddies the outlook for Stewart, who missed three games because of a sprained knee but has rushed for 129 yards since his Week 7 return. Carolina loves to run the ball and would prefer to have its backs carry the load rather than quarterback Cam Newton. Even though Stewart and Williams figure to split the carries (as long as the other doesn’t get hurt again), they still could provide RB2/flex-worthy production, especially considering the Panthers’ upcoming matchups (NO, at PHI).


Other possible fill-in options*: Andre Williams, Darren McFadden, Lorenzo Taliaferro, Carlos Hyde


Wide Receivers


Week 8 Recap: Doug Baldwin led the Seahawks with six catches for 61 yards while Jermaine Kearse was limited to just two grabs for 15 yards. Mike Evans paced the Buccaneers with 78 yards on four receptions, while Jarvis Landry caught three balls for 23 yards.


John Brown, Arizona Cardinals

A third-round pick from Division II Pittsburg State, Brown leads the Cardinals with four touchdown receptions, which is as many as Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd have combined. On Sunday, Brown caught five passes for 119 yards, including the game-winning, 75-yard touchdown strike from Carson Palmer, to help Arizona get by Philadelphia on Sunday. Even with Fitzgerald and Floyd around, Brown has averaged seven targets and 67.7 yards receiving over the last three games. The big-play ability is clearly there, as well as a developing chemistry between the young Cardinal wideout and his quarterback. With a steady diet of targets, Brown could develop into a second-half fantasy surprise.

Martavis Bryant, Pittsburgh Steelers

Antonio Brown is an absolute stud, and Markus Wheaton and Heath Miller (see below) have to be accounted for, but Bryant has made quite the first impression as a rookie. Held out of the first six games because of a preseason hamstring injury, Bryant now has three touchdowns in his first two career games. Two of those came on Sunday, as Bryant (5-83-2) played a big part in Ben Roethlisberger’s record-setting (522, 6 TDs) performance against Indianapolis. Wheaton has struggled to produce consistently, which helped open the door for Bryant to get involved right away. The speedy fourth-round pick from Clemson has already shown what he brings to the table, and it’s highly likely there’s more big plays to come.


Donte Moncrief, Indianapolis Colts

Reggie Wayne missed Sunday’s game because of an elbow injury and it’s possible he could be out again this week. Hakeem Nicks got the start in place of Wayne, but it was Moncrief who shined with more playing time. The Colts’ third-round pick, Moncrief’s contributions were minimal to start, but he busted out in a big way on Sunday. He was targeted a team-high 12 times, catching seven of those for 113 yards and a touchdown. Even when Wayne returns, Moncrief could replace Nicks as Indianapolis’ No. 3 wide receiver, as the rookie boasts more big-play ability and athleticism than the veteran. And being the third wideout in the league’s most pass-happy offense is not exactly the worst situation to be in fantasy-wise.


Other possible fill-in options*: Brandon LaFell, Odell Beckham Jr., Andre Holmes, Cecil Shorts, Dwayne Bowe, Malcolm Floyd, James Jones


Tight Ends


Week 8 Recap: Charles Clay followed up the best game of the season with his worst effort – one catch for one yard.


Heath Miller, Pittsburgh Steelers

The wily old veteran had a nice outing on Sunday – season-high 112 yards with a touchdown. While he may not be as productive as in years past, Miller is still one of Ben Roethlisberger’s most trusted targets. And the more looks Miller gets, the better his numbers have been. In the three games where’s he gotten at least seven targets, Miller has averaged seven receptions for 77.3 yards and both of his touchdowns. He’s still a top-10 fantasy TE, which is an asset that will be in short supply these next two weeks with so many teams on bye.


Other possible fill-in options*: Larry Donnell, Austin Seferian- Jenkins, Jace Amaro, Coby Fleener

Defense/Special Teams


Week 8 Recap: Indianapolis’ DST did recover two fumbles and blocked a poorly executed punt by Ben Roethlisberger. Unfortunately, the Colts also gave up 522 yards passing and six touchdowns to Big Ben, as the Steelers piled up 639 total yards and put up 51 points (43 allowed by the DST) on Sunday.


Cincinnati Bengals

The Bengals’ DST has been a fantasy disappointment in many ways (total of -1 points in Weeks 5 and 6 combined), but there’s still plenty of time for this unit to redeem itself. For starters, this DST did post double-digit fantasy points in each of the first three weeks and has forced four turnovers over the last two games. Then there’s the matter of this week’s matchup with Jacksonville. The Jaguars are giving up the most fantasy points (17 per game) to opposing DSTs, including 30 on Sunday to the Dolphins. Blake Bortles leads the NFL in interceptions (12) even though he’s played in just six games and he has had four of them returned for touchdowns. Forget bye-week fill-in, I could make an argument that the Bengals are a must-start DST this week.


Kansas City Chiefs

The Chiefs had a sack party Sunday against the Rams, bringing Austin Davis down seven times. They also picked off one pass and got a 99-yard kickoff return from Knile Davis to finish with 21 fantasy points, tied for second behind Miami (30 pts). For the season, the Chiefs are tied for fourth in the NFL with 24 sacks and with a few more turnovers (5 total) would be a more productive fantasy DST. The good news is that next up is a Jets team that coughed it up six times (4 INTs, 2 fumbles) and gave up four sacks to the Bills on Sunday. After the Jets, Kansas City draws Buffalo in Week 10. Given the Bills’ backfield woes, the Chiefs’ DST may be worth keeping around for a few weeks.


Other possible fill-in options*: Baltimore, Arizona, Miami, Cleveland


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


*Players owned in less than 70% of Yahoo! leagues.

Fantasy Football 2014 Waiver Wire: Week 9
Post date: Tuesday, October 28, 2014 - 10:00
Path: /nfl/washington-redskins-vs-dallas-cowboys-preview-and-prediction-0

NFC East archrivals headed in opposite directions will wrap up the Week 8 slate when the Washington Redskins and Dallas Cowboys face off on ESPN’s “Monday Night Football.” The Cowboys (6-1) look to maintain the NFL’s best record with a seventh straight victory, while the Redskins (2-5) will apparently turn to their third-string quarterback in hopes of winning back-to-back games for the first time this season.


Dallas holds a 64-40-2 edge over Washington in this historic rivalry, including last season’s sweep. The Cowboys beat the Redskins 31-16 at AT&T Stadium in Week 6 last season even though the visitors doubled up the home team on offense (433 total yards to 213).


Washington Redskins at Dallas Cowboys


Kickoff: 8:30 p.m. ET

TV Channel: ESPN

Spread: Dallas -10


Three Things to Watch


1. Washington’s Quarterback Carousel

Robert Griffin III is close to returning from the dislocated ankle he suffered in Week 2. So close in fact, that he might be out there tonight, although head coach Jay Gruden has publicly said that third-stringer Colt McCoy would be the starter. If McCoy gets the call, he would be the Redskins’ third starting quarterback through eight games. Griffin’s injury is what started this carousel spinning, as Kirk Cousins replaced RG3 in the team’s second game. But after enjoying some early success, Cousins’ struggles led to Gruden benching him last week. Collectively, Washington’s quarterbacks haven’t exactly filled up the box score. The trio has combined for 2,143 yards, 11 touchdowns and nine interceptions, for a passer rating of 91.3. Most of this production belongs to Cousins, who went 1-4 as the starter in relief of Griffin. The ironic thing when it comes to that win-loss record is that the win Cousins gets credit for was last week’s against Tennessee, a game in which McCoy came on in relief and led the second-half comeback. Likewise, Griffin gets credit for the Week 2 win in Jacksonville even though it was Cousins who got the Redskins on the board first after RG3 got hurt in the team’s second offensive series. The bottom line is that Washington enters tonight’s game 2-5 thanks in part to inconsistent quarterback play. Will that change with McCoy at the helm? Or will RG3 make a miraculous comeback and reclaim not only his starting job, but also make a statement that this is still his team?


2. DeMarco Murray’s Historic Run

Murray leads the NFL in rushing by nearly 300 yards and he’s the first player in history to start a season with seven straight 100-yard games. Running behind arguably the league’s best offensive line, Murray is the engine that makes the best rushing offense (159.7 ypg) churn. A legitimate MVP candidate, Murray is on pace for 427 carries and 2,086 yards rushing. As magical as 2,000 yards is for a running back, 400 carries is just as concerning. Murray is averaging 27 carries a game and he entered Week 8 with more rushing attempts than 20 entire teams. Can the Cowboys afford to keep handing it off to Murray at this pace or should they turn to backup Joseph Randle and call a few more pass plays to take some of the load off of their workhorse? On the other side of the field, Washington has done a pretty good job against the run thus far with the exception of one game. Seattle ran for 225 yards in a 27-17 Week 6 victory at FedEx Field. Outside of that game, the Redskins have allowed an average of 83 yards rushing per contest. Of course, it should be pointed out that the Seahawks’ big ground game came on a Monday night. Either way, Washington’s defense will have its work cut out for it as it seeks to do what no other defense (including Seattle’s at home) has been able to yet – prevent Murray from breaking the century mark. 


3. Dallas’ Deceiving Defense?

The Cowboys are 6-1 and entered Week 8 with the NFL’s best record. Is Dallas the league’s best team? Perhaps, but as well as the Cowboys have played and looked, Jason Garrett’s team still has its flaws. For one, its turnover margin is only plus-one. The real concern moving forward, however, is can this defense continue to hold up, especially when the offense struggles? Dallas boasts the No. 2 offense thanks in large part to the most productive running game in the league. Besides picking up a bunch of yards, the Cowboys’ ability to effectively run the ball has allowed them to chew up a lot of clock. Entering Week 8, the only offense that has held the ball longer than the Cowboys (average of 34:35 per game) is Andrew Luck and the Colts (36:56). So while Tony Romo and company are running an average of 66 offensive plays per game, the defense has only been on the field for 57. That difference of nine may not seem that big, but consider that Dallas’ defense was on the field last season for 1,094 plays or 68 per game. That’s a big reason why the Cowboys finished dead last in yards allowed in 2013 at 415.3 per game. This season, Dallas’ defense has fared better, but it’s still giving up nearly 344 yards per game, a number that likely would go up if opponents had more opportunities with the ball. So despite their sterling record, the Cowboys’ margin of error still appears to be rather thin. The offense may be championship-caliber, but the jury is still very much out on this defense.


Final Analysis


The Cowboys may no longer be “America’s Team,” but there are still plenty of Dallas fans across the world thoroughly enjoying this season. Jerry Jones is smiling and talking Super Bowl, Jason Garrett has gone from the hot seat to leading Coach of the Year contender and Tony Romo is no longer the most talked about player. The Washington Redskins meanwhile are struggling to find their identity, not to mention a starting quarterback, under rookie head coach Jay Gruden. The Cowboys have won six in a row, but this team still has some question marks, most of them on defense. However, Garrett’s team doesn’t have near as many holes as Gruden’s. What happens with Dallas come December and January remains to be seen, but for now, Cowboys fans should just sit back and enjoy this ride.

Prediction: Dallas 34, Washington 20
Washington Redskins vs. Dallas Cowboys Preview and Prediction
Post date: Monday, October 27, 2014 - 10:30
All taxonomy terms: Green Bay Packers, New Orleans Saints, NFC, NFL, News
Path: /nfl/green-bay-packers-vs-new-orleans-saints-preview-and-prediction

Two of the NFL’s best quarterbacks will share the spotlight tonight when the Green Bay Packers take on the New Orleans Saints on NBC. Aaron Rodgers and the Packers (5-2) are in the midst of a four-game winning streak, while Drew Brees and the Saints (2-4) hope a return to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome will produce better results on the field.


Tonight marks the fourth head-to-head meeting between Rodgers and Brees, who have a combined 175 regular-season wins, 78,868 yards passing, 580 touchdown passes, 11 Pro Bowl invites and two Super Bowl MVP awards between them. Rodgers holds a 2-1 edge, as the home team has won each time. The last meeting took place at Lambeau Field during Week 4 of the 2012 season. Green Bay won 28-27, as the two quarterbacks combined for 765 yards and seven touchdown passes.


Green Bay Packers at New Orleans Saints


Kickoff: 8:30 p.m. ET

TV Channel: NBC

Spread: New Orleans -1


Three Things to Watch


1. Red-Hot Rodgers

Following Green Bay’s uncharacteristic 1-2 start, Aaron Rodgers had a simple message for the Packers’ passionate fan base: R-E-L-A-X. Turns out the MVP and Super Bowl-winning quarterback knew what he was talking about. Since losing 19-7 in Detroit in Week 3, Green Bay has won four in a row with only one of those victories coming by less than 21 points. Not surprisingly, Rodgers has been at the forefront of this hot streak, completing 71 percent of his passes for 977 yards, 13 touchdowns and no interceptions over the last four games. Besides blowing out the Bears on the road and the Vikings and Panthers at home, Rodgers tossed the game-winning touchdown pass with two seconds remaining to beat the Dolphins in Miami in Week 6. In short, Rodgers has done it all during this streak and trying to slow him down will New Orleans’ main priority. Easier said than done, however, as the Saints enter this game ranked 28th in the NFL in passing defense (270.5 ypg). 


2. Saints in a Rush?

New Orleans’ offense begins and ends with Drew Brees, but the Saints also have had success running the ball this season and it’s a strategy they may want to stick to tonight. New Orleans is second in the NFL in total offense (437.0 ypg), and while the passing game is doing its usual thing (314.0 ypg, 2nd), the running game also has been getting the job done. The Saints are 13th in rushing at 123.0 yards per game, which is a far cry from the 92.1 they averaged last season. Mark Ingram got off to a strong start (143 yards, 3 TDs) before breaking his hand in Week 2, but he returned last week. In Ingram’s absence, Khiry Robinson picked up the slack and the second-year back is leading the team with 330 yards on a 5.2-yard-per-carry clip. Pierre Thomas also has chipped in with 133 yards (4.4 ypc) and two touchdowns on the ground, but he’s expected to miss 2-3 weeks after injuring his shoulder in last week’s loss in Detroit. As a team, the Saints are averaging 4.9 yards per carry with seven rushing touchdowns, compared to 3.8 and 10 for all of 2013. This success on the ground may very well continue tonight, as Green Bay is second to last in rushing defense. The Packers are allowing close to 150 yards rushing per game and have yet to hold an opponent to less than 108. New Orleans may not be known for running the ball, but head coach Sean Payton may want to stay grounded tonight, especially if it gives the Saints their best chance of winning.


3. Jimmy Graham’s Supporting Cast

Graham is without question one of the hardest players to cover in the NFL and his numbers back this up. Over his last three seasons, Graham has averaged 90 receptions for 1,169 yards and 12 touchdowns. Those numbers are impressive for a wide receiver let alone a tight end. Graham is once again leading the team in receiving (34-376-3), but he’s also dealing with a sprained shoulder that basically turned the All-Pro into a decoy last week. Playing through an injury that reportedly was going to keep him out several weeks, Graham was targeted twice, but didn’t catch any passes in the loss to Detroit. Graham’s injury underscores the need for other pass-catchers to step up their production. After all, even though the Saints have had success running the ball, they also have an offensive mastermind for a head coach in Sean Payton and a future Hall of Fame quarterback in Drew Brees. They should be able to beat defenses through the air too. Wide receiver Marques Colston is the veteran and he has had his moments with two 100-yard games already, but he also posted a bagel in the Week 2 loss in Cleveland. First-round pick Brandin Cooks was supposed to be Payton and Brees’ new favorite toy, but the speedy Biletnikoff Award winner from Oregon State has just one touchdown and is averaging only 8.2 yards per reception, despite being tied with Graham for the team lead in catches (34). Kenny Stills has big-play ability (16.3 ypc), but an injury slowed him early on, although he is coming off of his best game (103 yards vs. Detroit). Even with the injury to running back Pierre Thomas, who is second on the team with 26 catches, Brees doesn’t lack for options to throw to. He just needs those not named Graham to be more consistent and make a few more big plays, especially with his most trusted and productive target a little banged up at the moment.


Final Analysis


Green Bay is one of the hottest teams in the NFL right now, winning its last four games by an average of 19.3 points per game. Aaron Rodgers is once again putting up MVP-caliber numbers, which have been needed since the Packers have had their issues both running the ball consistently and on defense. New Orleans is reeling somewhat after letting one slip away in Detroit last week. The Saints play four of their next five games at home so they can ill afford to let any of these opportunities pass by. While things have been going Green Bay’s way lately, it’s really hard to pick against New Orleans in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Sean Payton’s team gets back to the basics, including a heavier dose of the running game than usual, and Drew Brees chips in with some big throws late, as the Saints defend home turf and start their march back to playoff contention. 

Prediction: New Orleans 30, Green Bay 27
Green Bay Packers vs. New Orleans Saints Preview and Prediction
Post date: Sunday, October 26, 2014 - 09:00
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy Football, injury updates, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /fantasy/week-8-fantasy-football-injury-updates-calvin-johnson-aj-green-vincent-jackson-reggie-wayne

Plenty of No. 1 wide receivers show up on the Week 8 injury report. Find out below who is shaping up to be a game-time decision, who has already been ruled out and who should be ready to roll.


A.J. Green, WR, Cincinnati Bengals vs. Baltimore Ravens

Doubtful – Toe
Green didn’t practice at all this week, but he was able to get some rehab and conditioning work in on the side. This progress prompted head coach Marvin Lewis to express some optimism about getting his All-Pro wide receiver back. However, Green’s Doubtful designation certainly puts a damper on things. There are reports Green will test his injured toe out early Sunday, but even then you are looking at a game-time decision at best. With Green’s toe still keeping him from merely taking part in practice; it seems highly unlikely that he will return after missing the past two games. Personally, I am not going to sit around and hope Green makes a miraculous return. So Green will remain on my bench and I’ll revisit his situation next week. Mohamed Sanu remains a fairly safe WR2 option with upside.

Calvin Johnson, WR, Detroit Lions vs. Atlanta Falcons (London)

Out - Ankle
Johnson did take part in practice for the first time in three weeks, but he remains limited by his ankle injury. With the Lions already expected to be without several other skill position players, they certainly could use Johnson. But he has repeatedly stated that he won’t get back on the field until he knows he can perform at the All-Pro level he expects. And that apparently is not today, as the team ruled Johnson Out prior to kickoff earlier this morning. The Lions being on bye next week probably contributed some to the decision to deactivate him. With Johnson officially inactive, Golden Tate is a bona fide WR1 based on the matchup (Falcons 29th in NFL in passing defense) and the fact that Matthew Stafford also does have Reggie Bush or several of his tight ends to throw to today.

Vincent Jackson, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Minnesota Vikings

Questionable – Rib
The Buccaneers are coming off of their bye yet Jackson is still being limited in practice because of a rib injury. That’s not the most encouraging sign, nor is his Questionable designation. However, Jackson is expected to be out there today, as he’s played through this injury previously. Jackson and Mike Glennon have combined for 15 catches for 242 yards and a touchdown over the past three games, so Jackson remains a relatively safe WR2 today against the Vikings.


Harry Douglas and Julio Jones, WRs, Atlanta Falcons vs. Detroit Lions (London)

Questionable – Foot; Probable – Ankle
Douglas has missed the past four games with a foot injury, but he was back at practice this week, albeit in a limited fashion. He is listed as Questionable and it will be a game-time decision whether he plays or not. Just remember that this game is in London, which means a much earlier start (9:30 a.m. ET). Jones meanwhile is taking it easy earlier in the week to give his bothersome ankle as much time to recover as possible. He was a full go on Thursday and Friday and is listed as Probable. Jones remains a must-start WR1, while Douglas should be left on the waiver wire or your bench if you own him.


Andre Johnson, WR, Houston Texans at Tennessee Titans

Probable – Ankle
The good news is that following the short turnaround after playing Monday night, Johnson was able to get one full practice session in on Friday. He’s dealt with this nagging ankle issue for several weeks, but he’s still yet to miss a game. That won’t happen today either, as he’s listed as Probable. Johnson has just one touchdown catch so far, but he’s seeing at least seven targets and registering at least four catches every game. He’s a legitimate WR1 and you just have to keep putting him out there and hope this is the week he and Ryan Fitzpatrick really click.


Eric Decker, WR, New York Jets vs. Buffalo Bills

Probable – Hamstring
After not being a factor on last week’s injury report, Decker’s back on because of his bothersome hamstring. He was limited in practice all week, but apparently the coaching staff isn’t concerned about his readiness since he’s listed as Probable. Decker’s been more of a hit-or-miss option this season, but it will be interesting to see how he and Percy Harvin, his new teammate, fare in their first game together. For now, Decker is a risky WR2 and a much safer flex option.


Already Ruled Out:


Reggie Wayne, WR, Indianapolis Colts – Wayne injured his elbow in last week’s win and underwent an MRI to determine the severity. What the MRI showed the team has not shared, but Wayne didn’t practice at all this week and was spotted wearing a compression sleeve on his injured elbow. He’s already been ruled out for this afternoon’s game and the hope right now is that Wayne will only need to miss one or two more games. T.Y. Hilton becomes the Colts’ No. 1 wide receiver in Wayne’s absence, but his actual role and production doesn’t figure to change that much. The beneficiary of Wayne’s injury could be Hakeem Nicks, who should see more opportunities, but don’t rule out rookie Donte Moncrief either. It’s probably too risky to rely on Nicks or Moncrief this week, except maybe in deeper leagues.

Week 8 Fantasy Football Injury Updates: Calvin Johnson, A.J. Green, Vincent Jackson, Reggie Wayne
Post date: Sunday, October 26, 2014 - 07:00
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy Football, injury updates, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /fantasy/week-8-fantasy-football-injury-updates-reggie-bush-giovani-bernard-benny-cunningham-shonn

Sunday’s Week 8 action gets off to an early start in London where Detroit is expected to be without one of its top running backs. That’s just one of the key RB or QB injuries associated with today’s games.


Giovani Bernard, RB, Cincinnati Bengals vs. Baltimore Ravens

Probable – Ribs
Bernard is dealing with some sore ribs, which limited his practice participation Wednesday and Thursday. He was a full go on Friday, is listed as Probable and fully expected to play in today’s key AFC North clash with Baltimore. Bernard is not only the Bengals’ leading rusher, he also figures to be one of Andy Dalton’s prime targets with A.J. Green listed as Doubtful. Bernard is one of the most dynamic backs in the NFL and he must be in your starting lineup.


Reggie Bush, RB, Detroit Lions vs. Atlanta Falcons (London)

Out – Ankle
Bush played last week, but re-aggravated his ankle injury and had to leave early. After arriving in London for today’s game, Bush’s ankle didn’t respond to any treatment during the week. He was limited in practice on Wednesday, but didn’t participate at all on Thursday or Friday. He was listed as Doubtful on Friday, but was officially ruled Out earlier this morning. The extra early kickoff (9:30 a.m. ET) and the fact the Lions are on bye next week, probably contributed to the team's decision. With Bush sidelined, Joique Bell should see plenty of carries against a Falcons defense that’s giving up the most fantasy points to RBs. I could make an argument that Bell’s a borderline RB1 this week, and Theo Riddick (Probable, Hamstring) could end up with enough touches to merit flex consideration. Remember, this is a Lions offense that besides Bush is without Calvin Johnson and several TEs.


Benny Cunningham, RB, St. Louis Rams at Kansas City Chiefs

Probable – Knee
Cunningham was added to the injury report on Thursday after a knee injury limited him in practice. Whatever it is, he was a full go on Friday and appears to be a pretty safe bet to play based on his Probable designation. There’s been a lot of turnover in the Rams’ backfield in recent weeks, as rookie Tre Mason has emerged while former starter Zac Stacy has seen his playing time practically disappear. Cunningham’s status as the backup has been pretty constant, but it’s hard to trust Cunningham fantasy-wise because of the uncertainty regarding his workload. Mason is the Ram back to own moving forward and Stacy can probably be dropped in shallow redraft leagues at this point.


Shonn Greene, RB, Tennessee Titans vs. Houston Texans

Probable – Hamstring
Greene got in limited practice sessions on Wednesday and Thursday, but was able to go full speed on Friday. He’s listed as Probable and expected to return after missing the past two games. Greene was arrested Friday night on multiple charges after trying to avoid getting a ticket for parking in a handicapped spot, but reports say the incident doesn’t impact his playing status today. On the field, the interesting thing to watch will be how the carries are distributed between Greene and rookie Bishop Sankey. The Titans are starting rookie Zach Mettenberger at quarterback in place of Jake Locker (see below), so if the youth movement is in full force that would favor Sankey. However, Greene was the starter until he got hurt, so head coach Ken Whisenhunt may decide to go back to the way it was. If I had to handicap this race, I still think Sankey boasts more upside and is the Titan back to own, but it may not play out that way for a game or two. The only Titans I would trust fantasy-wise this week are TE Delaine Walker, WR Kendall Wright and maybe, if you’re feeling lucky, WR Justin Hunter as a potential flex option.


Toby Gerhart, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Miami Dolphins

Probable – Foot
After missing the past two games because of a foot injury, Gerhart is expected to return today. He was able to practice fully both Thursday and Friday and is listed as Probable to face the Dolphins. Gerhart has struggled to gain much ground (123 yds., 2.6 ypc), so at best he will share carries with Denard Robinson, who broke out in a big way (127 yds., TD) last week. Rookie Storm Johnson also could factor in. Right now, I see no reason to rush Gerhart back into the starting lineup unless you have no other options.


Josh McCown, QB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Minnesota Vikings

Questionable – Thumb
Coming off of the bye, McCown is making progress in his recovery from an injury to the thumb on his throwing hand. He finally returned to practice and even got in a full session on Friday. He’s listed as Questionable, but even if McCown plays it will be to back up Mike Glennon. Glennon has been solid in relief of McCown and is in the QB2 discussion based on today’s matchup against the Vikings.

Jake Locker, QB, Tennessee Titans vs. Houston Texans

Probable – Hand
Locker practiced in a limited capacity on Wednesday and Thursday and was a full go on Friday. He’s listed as Probable, but the only way he will play today is if Zach Mettenberger gets hurt or head coach Ken Whisenhunt decides to pull him. Whisenhunt named Mettenberger, the Titans’ sixth-round pick, as his starting quarterback earlier this week, pretty much destroying any remaining fantasy value Locker had. As far as Mettenberger goes, if you want to rely on a guy making his first career start against a defense led by J.J. Watt you go right ahead.

Week 8 Fantasy Football Injury Updates: Reggie Bush, Giovani Bernard, Benny Cunningham, Shonn Greene
Post date: Sunday, October 26, 2014 - 07:00
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy Football, injury updates, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-week-8-injury-updates-jimmy-graham-martellus-bennett-travis-kelce-owen

Detroit’s tight end situation is a mess for Week 8, while New Orleans may not know until around kickoff if it will have its All-Pro on the field. Here’s the latest on those situations and some TE injuries.

Jimmy Graham, TE, New Orleans Saints vs. Green Bay Packers

Questionable – Shoulder
Unlike last week, Graham practiced to some degree every day. So even though he’s Questionable again, he seems a safer bet to play this week compared to last. He’s still probably going to be a game-time decision, and this time the Saints don’t play until Sunday night. So the timing of the game definitely needs to be taken into consideration. Also don’t forget that while Graham did play last week, he was nothing more than a decoy (2 targets, 0 catches). He also hasn’t been talking to anyone, so there’s really no way to gauge how Graham’s shoulder feels or how the Saints plan on using him against the Packers. Graham is the No. 1 fantasy TE without question, but how much of a stomach do you have for another potential scoreless showing?

Martellus Bennett, TE, Chicago Bears at New England Patriots

Probable – Hamstring
Bennett put a scare into his fantasy owners earlier this week when he did not practice on Wednesday due to a hamstring injury and followed that up with only limited participation on Thursday. It looks like you can breathe easier, however, as Bennett was a full go on Friday and is listed as Probable. The Bears’ offense has struggled at times, but Bennett’s been pretty consistent. He’s currently fourth at his position in fantasy points and is a must-start TE1.


Travis Kelce, TE, Kansas City Chiefs vs. St. Louis Rams

Probable – Ribs
Kelce’s dealing with some sore ribs and he was limited in practice on both Wednesday and Thursday. Fortunately, he was a full go on Friday and is listed as Probable for today’s game. Kelce has been a top 10 fantasy TE thus far, but his production has been up and down at times too. He oozes TE1 upside, but the Chiefs just don’t seem to be ready to trust him as a blocker, which has impacted his snap count. As long as Kelce isn’t a surprise last-minute scratch, he should be in your lineup because he’s a red-zone threat who also is capable of breaking off a big play any time he get his hands on the ball.


Eric Ebron, Joseph Fauria and Brandon Pettigrew, TEs, Detroit Lions vs. Atlanta Falcons

Out – Hamstring; Out – Ankle; Doubtful – Foot
Now is not a good time to be a Lions TE, as Ebron and Fauria have already been ruled out for today’s game in London. Pettigrew isn’t in much better shape, as his foot injury held him out of practice this week. He’s listed as Doubtful and even if he does play, Pettigrew is not worth investing in despite a seemingly appealing matchup against the Falcons’ porous defense. With Reggie Bush Doubtful and Calvin Johnson Questionable, Matthew Stafford is going to lean heavily on Joique Bell and Golden Tate.

Charles Clay, TE, Miami Dolphins at Jacksonville Jaguars

Probable – Knee
Clay finally got into the end zone last week against Chicago and has certainly been more involved in the offense since the Dolphins’ bye week. His knee injury is still limiting him in practice, but he’s listed as Probable, so he should be out there today against the Jaguars. Clay’s not back to must-start TE1 status yet, but I can get on board with using him in 2-TE leagues or as a flex in deeper leagues.


Already Ruled Out:


Owen Daniels, Baltimore Ravens – Daniels appeared on the injury report on Wednesday after not practicing, but word out of Ravens camp was that their starting TE was “fine.” Apparently that wasn’t the case, as coach John Harbaugh announced on Friday that Daniels underwent a procedure on his knee and would miss today’s game. Whether the team’s second-leading receiver misses more than one game remains to be seen, but with Daniels sidelined and Dennis Pitta on injured reserve (hip), the Ravens most likely will start third-round pick Crockett Gillmore today. For now, there’s no reason to drop Daniels nor is there a reason to rush and add Gillmore to your roster.


Kyle Rudolph, Minnesota Vikings – Rudolph underwent surgery for a sports hernia on Sept. 23. The projected time frame for his recovery is a minimum of six weeks, which would put a potential return around mid-November. If you have room, I would keep Rudolph; just understand this will be a prolonged absence.


Marcedes Lewis, Jacksonville Jaguars – Lewis is on the injured reserve/designated for return list because of a high ankle sprain. Unless you have an IR spot and/or are smitten with Lewis, there’s no reason to hold onto him or even stash him away.

Fantasy Football Week 8 Injury Updates: Jimmy Graham, Martellus Bennett, Travis Kelce, Owen Daniels
Post date: Sunday, October 26, 2014 - 06:30
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy Football, injury updates, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-week-8-injury-updates-darren-sproles-andre-ellington-trent-richardson

Arizona and Philadelphia both have some banged up running backs headed into this afternoon’s Week 8 showdown. Will both teams’ backfields be at full strength and who is going to handle the carries for the Saints tonight against the Packers?


Andre Ellington, RB, Arizona Cardinals vs. Philadelphia Eagles

Probable – Foot
The foot is still an issue, but Ellington added some bruised ribs to his list of ailments last week. He was limited in practice the first two days, but was a full go on Friday. He’s considered Probable and at this point, I think Ellington has earned the benefit of the doubt. Ninth in fantasy points among RBs this season, Ellington is a top-10 RB this week against the Eagles.

Darren Sproles, RB, Philadelphia Eagles at Arizona Cardinals

Questionable – Knee
Sproles suffered a slight MCL tear in his left knee in the Eagles’ Week 6 win over the Giants. He was originally expected to miss at least two weeks, but coming off of a bye, Sproles was back at practice this week. He was limited on Wednesday and Thursday, but was a full participant on Friday. He’s officially listed as Questionable, but it’s certainly possible that Sproles will be out there this afternoon. The team’s second-leading rusher and an active part of the passing game, Sproles is usually a pretty safe flex option. However, with him not being at 100 percent and the matchup against Arizona, the NFL’s No. 1 rushing defense, you may be better off leaving Sproles on your bench. The Eagles also are expected to get Chris Polk (Probable, Hamstring) back, which could mean fewer touches for Sproles in the first place.


Trent Richardson, RB, Indianapolis Colts at Pittsburgh Steelers

Questionable – Hamstring
Richardson felt something in his hamstring last week, which caused him to depart the game early. While at the time it was deemed to be too serious, Richardson did undergo an MRI on Monday and then proceeded to miss all of practice. Richardson’s injury has been referred to as a sore hamstring, but it must be bad enough considering he’s listed as Questionable and will more than likely be a game-time decision. Richardson leads the Colts in both carries and rushing yards, but his numbers still haven’t been that spectacular (358 yds., 2 TDs), as Ahmad Bradshaw has been the more productive back. Throw in a late kickoff (4:25 p.m. ET) and it sounds like Richardson would be better off sitting this one out.


Robert Griffin III, QB, Washington Redskins at Dallas Cowboys (Mon.)

Questionable – Ankle
This much is clear: RG3 is getting closer to getting back on the field. He took part in practice every day, but the understanding is that third-stringer Colt McCoy and not Griffin (or Kirk Cousins) will get the start on Monday night against Dallas. Head coach Jay Gruden has yet to make it official, but all indications are that he’s not quite ready to give the job back to RG3. He has said that if RG3 is not the starter, he won’t be the backup either, so for now keep RG3 on your bench and check back next week. In the meantime neither McCoy nor Cousins have much fantasy appeal, even for 2-QB leagues.

Already Ruled Out:


Fred Jackson, RB, Buffalo Bills – C.J. Spiller is on injured reserve with a designation to return because of a broken collarbone he suffered last week. Jackson also left that game on a cart because of a groin injury, and he’s expected to be sidelined up to a month. Anthony Dixon and Bryce Brown will take over in the backfield. Brown has started before (posted three 100-yard games when he was with the Eagles in 2012-13) and carries more upside potential, but Dixon figures to get the bulk of the carries at least early on. The Jets’ defense has been pretty good against the run, but it’s also given up some big yards on two different occasions. Dixon is worthy of flex discussion this week, but Brown is the one to keep an eye on, especially if he busts out today.


Khiry Robinson and Pierre Thomas, RBs, New Orleans Saints – The Saints will be missing two of their top backs as Robinson won’t play tonight because of a forearm injury and Thomas is expected to miss a few games because of a shoulder injury. Fortunately, Mark Ingram returned from his broken hand last week and will carry the load against the Packers. Travaris Cadet will back him up and also serve in Thomas’ role as a receiving threat out of the backfield. Ingram is pretty much locked in as a RB2 and could do even more against the Packers’ 31st-ranked rushing defense. Cadet meanwhile could be a sneaky flex play in PPR leagues.


DeAngelo Williams, RB, Carolina Panthers – Williams will miss another game, as his ankle injury hasn’t progressed enough to allow him to return to practice. Fozzy Whittaker (thigh) also has been ruled out, leaving Jonathan Stewart and Darrin Reaves to carry the load for the Panthers. Stewart figures to see the bulk of the carries and he’s the only one worth consideration this week. Other than Cam Newton, the Panthers have had trouble running the ball consistently and it doesn’t figure to get any easier against Seattle today. Stewart is a risky RB2, but he could provide decent value if employed as a flex option.

Fantasy Football Week 8 Injury Updates: Darren Sproles, Andre Ellington, Trent Richardson, Robert Griffin III
Post date: Sunday, October 26, 2014 - 06:30
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2014-quarterback-rankings-week-8

Peyton Manning not only laid claim to another record, he also holds the No. 1 spot in Athlon Sports’ Fantasy Football Quarterback Rankings for Week 8. With four touchdown passes in Denver’s convincing win over San Francisco, Manning passed Brett Favre’s 508 career touchdown pass total, a number he’s likely to put completely out of reach before he retires. Manning and the Broncos have a short turnaround this week with Philip Rivers and the Chargers on tap for Thursday night. Meanwhile, no quarterback has been hotter recently than Aaron Rodgers. Green Bay has won its past four games by an average of 19.3 points, as Rodgers has looked the part of an MVP candidate: 71 percent completion rate, 977 yards, 13 TDs and no interceptions. Rodgers will look to continue his hot streak when he goes head-to-head against Drew Brees and the Saints in the Superdome on Sunday night.


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


Positional Rankings: QB I RB I WR I TE I DST I K


2014 NFL Week 8 Fantasy Football Rankings — Quarterbacks


Teams on bye: New York Giants, San Francisco


1Peyton ManningDENvs. SD (Thurs.)
2Aaron RodgersGBat NO
3Andrew LuckINDat PIT
4Drew BreesNOvs. GB
5Russell WilsonSEAat CAR
6Philip RiversSDat DEN (Thurs.)
7Tom BradyNEvs. CHI
8Tony RomoDALvs. WAS (Mon.)
9Jay CutlerCHIat NE
10Nick FolesPHIat ARI
11Carson PalmerARIvs. PHI
12Matthew StaffordDETvs. ATL (London)
13Cam NewtonCARvs. SEA
14Ryan TannehillMIAat JAC
15Matt RyanATLvs. DET (London)
16Alex SmithKCvs. STL
17Joe FlaccoBALat CIN
18Ben RoethlisbergerPITvs. IND
19Kyle OrtonBUFat NYJ
20Andy DaltonCINvs. BAL
21Mike GlennonTBvs. MIN
22Austin DavisSTLat KC
23Teddy BridgewaterMINat TB
24Brian HoyerCLEvs. OAK
25Geno SmithNYJvs. BUF
26Ryan FitzpatrickHOUat TEN

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

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


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Fantasy Football 2014 Quarterback Rankings: Week 8
Post date: Thursday, October 23, 2014 - 06:30