Articles By Mark Ross

All taxonomy terms: Fantasy Baseball, Roto, MLB, Fantasy
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-baseball-bests-busts-and-waiver-wire-aug-19

With about 40 games left in the regular season, fantasy baseball playoffs are just around the corner. Athlon Sports has everything you need to catch up on what took place on the fantasy diamond during the past seven days. Our fantasy junkies bring you last week's top hitters, some starting pitchers who are on a roll, and also identify the waiver wire pick ups and spot starters you need to keep an eye on.

Top 25 fantasy baseball hitters of last week (Aug. 12-18):

1Alfonso SorianoOFNYY951820.4841.515
2Will Venable*OFSD72510.4061.125
3Miguel Cabrera3BDET441000.3031.088
4Chris Davis1B/OFBAL63600.4091.409
5Mark Trumbo1/3/OFLAA53810.2801.053
6Mike TroutOFLAA61520.3911.142
7Joe MauerC/1BMIN62700.3751.037
8Curtis GrandersonOFNYY71220.4171.167
9Alejandro De AzaOFCWS91420.2580.706
10Hunter PenceOFSF61910.2960.901
11Jon Jay*OFSTL51610.4001.084
12Khris DavisOFMIL43500.4671.662
13Jason HeywardOFATL53400.3851.231
14Martin Prado2/3/SS/OFARI61700.3790.972
15Brandon Belt*1BSF82400.3081.033
16Justin Ruggiano*OFMIA42500.6672.171
17Jayson WerthOFWAS50420.4171.023
18Marlon Byrd*OFNYM32700.4001.152
19Eduardo Nunez*3B/SSNYY50520.3700.858
20Jedd Gyorko*2B/3BSD43500.3451.104
21Dexter FowlerOFCOL60610.3600.848
22Brandon Phillips2BCIN41520.3100.769
23Chris Getz*2BKC50230.3330.727
24Paul Goldschmidt1BARI53500.2590.987
25Alex Rodriguez*3BNYY51410.3570.974

* - less than 70% owned in Yahoo! leagues

Weekly Waiver Wire:

Jedd Gyorko, 2B/3B, SD (32% owned in Yahoo! Leagues)
After hitting six home runs in May, the Padres rookie was much more widely owned. However, he suffered a groin injury in early June, which caused him to miss more than a month. On top of that, he struggled upon his return, batting just .100 with a run and RBI in 13 games in July. It looks like Gyorko may have rediscovered his swing, as he slugged three home runs last week, giving him 13 for the year. Despite all his missed time, Gyorko is tied for ninth among second base-eligible players with those 13 round-trippers. He could be a sneaky source of power if you are in need of some at second or from a MI spot.

Adam LaRoche, 1B, WAS (54%)
Admittedly it has been a very up-and-down season for LaRoche. He was very good in May (.330-7-19) and very bad in July (.159-2-10). However, he has four home runs and nine RBIs in 15 games in August so far and he's in no danger of losing his spot in the Nationals' lineup. LaRoche is still a top-10 first baseman in terms of power (18 HR) and in his career he has been a strong finisher (.297-82-258 in 412 games in August and September).

Leonys Martin, OF, TEX (46%)
Texas' 25-year-old outfielder has been flying somewhat under the radar, but that may be about to change, especially if he stays atop the Rangers' lineup. Martin has come on strong since May and thanks in large part to his legs (27 SB, 5 3B), he has moved into top-50 OF territory in Yahoo! leagues. The left-handed swinger has cooled off somewhat this month, hitting just .246 in August, so far, but he also has stolen seven bases and driven in nine runs. If you are in need of speed, Martin is certainly worth a roster spot, and the additional category production is just an added bonus.

Alex Rodriguez, 3B, NYY (35%)
A-Rod may be MLB's (and the Yankees' front office for that matter) public enemy No. 1 right now, but he's still playing and getting the job done at the plate. He helped key the Yankees' rally against Boston on Sunday night with a home run off of Ryan Dempster and is a borderline top-10 third baseman over the past two weeks (.319-2-6). While Alfonso Soriano has been the spark to the Yankees' recent offensive output, Rodriguez can't be overlooked and could prove valuable down the stretch, especially at a position that's already without the services of David Wright and has seen other names struggle.

Will Venable, OF, SD (30%)
Outside of the aforementioned Soriano, no one was hotter at the plate last week than San Diego's Venable, who posted a .406-2-5 line with seven runs and a stolen base. In fact, Venable's hot streak goes back to the beginning of August as he has gotten a hit in all 15 games he has played this month. For the month so far, Venable is batting .377 with five home runs, eight RBIs, 12 runs and five stolen bases. He's just a .256 career hitter, so ride this hot streak as long as you can, especially from a guy who most likely will finish the season with 20 home runs and 20 stolen bases (17, 14 currently).

Top 20 fantasy Starting Pitchers of last two weeks:

1Clayton KershawLAD22.02211.230.77
2Bronson Arroyo*CIN14.02140.640.43
3Anibal SanchezDET22.02242.050.86
4Mat LatosCIN22.12180.810.99
5Zack GreinkeLAD20.03140.901.15
6Andrew Albers*MIN24.1271.850.66
7Martin Perez*TEX22.13202.421.03
8Hyun-Jin RyuLAD14.02100.640.79
9Brandon Beachy*ATL14.02101.290.71
10Chris SaleCWS23.13201.931.20
11Cole HamelsPHI23.01201.960.87
12Yu DarvishTEX22.12282.821.07
13Max ScherzerDET21.02152.570.81
14Dan Haren*WAS14.01121.930.71
15Tony Cingrani*CIN11.11140.790.79
16Marco Estrada*MIL11.0180.820.45
17Stephen StrasburgWAS17.01202.120.88
18Alex Wood*ATL12.10160.730.65
19Tyson Ross*SD14.01141.290.93
20Justin VerlanderDET23.01222.740.91

* - less than 70% owned in Yahoo! leagues

Top 5 Spot Starts for the Week (Mon. - Sun.):

1. Brandon Beachy (ATL) at New York Mets (Tues.) (48% owned)
Beachy has made four starts since returning from Tommy John surgery. In the first two, he gave up 10 earned runs in 10 innings, in his last two he has allowed just two over 14 frames. He’s also produced a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 19:4 overall. Beachy will match up with Mets’ rookie Zach Wheeler on Tuesday night at Citi Field, but considering the Braves are 16-3 since Beachy’s first start on July 29, I like his chances in this one.

2. Sonny Gray (OAK) vs. Seattle (Tues.) (23%)
Gray was mentioned in this space last week, and chances are this won’t be the last time you see his name, especially if his ownership rate stays under less than a quarter of all Yahoo! leagues. All the 23-year-old rookie did his last time out was pitch eight shutout innings against Houston. Next up is Seattle, a team that ranks in the bottom third of the majors in runs scored on the road.

3. Martin Perez (TEX) at Chicago White Sox (Fri.) (20%)
Texas has had to deal with injuries in their rotation throughout the season, which has made the performance of Perez that much more important. The 22-year-old lefty has gone 6-3 with a 3.48 ERA in 12 starts. He has put together four straight quality starts and gets the White Sox, who are the third-worst scoring team in the majors, at home. Perez has a tidy 2.20 ERA (8 ER in 32 2/3 IP) in five starts at home this season.

4. Dan Haren (WAS) at Chicago Cubs (Tues.) (68%)
Haren struggled mightily before the All-Star break, going 4-10 with a 5.61 ERA. The veteran right-hander has dealt with back issues and other maladies in each of the past two seasons, but it looks like he may have finally turned the corner health-wise. Haren has allowed a total of three earned runs in his last three starts and also picked up his first career save in a 15-inning marathon against Atlanta on Saturday. Instead of the mighty Braves, Haren’s next scheduled trip to the mound comes against a Cubs’ offense that has scored a grand total of five runs and been shutout four times in their last six games at Wrigley Field.

5. Jake Arrieta (CHC) vs. Washington (Wed.) (2%)
Part of the trade that sent Scott Feldman to Baltimore, Arrieta has made the most of his opportunities in the Cubs’ rotation so far. His last time out he shut down St. Louis by holding the Cardinals to just two hits over seven scoreless innings. In a Cubs’ uniform, Arrieta has given up just four hits and five walks, while striking out nine, in 13 innings. The Nationals, meanwhile, struggle to score runs away from home, as only the Marlins have scored fewer on the road this season.

Keep up to date all season long with Athlon Sports' Fantasy Baseball Closer Grid

Fantasy Baseball Bests, Busts and Waiver Wire: Aug 19
Post date: Monday, August 19, 2013 - 11:30
All taxonomy terms: NFC, NFC East, Washington Redskins, NFL, News
Path: /nfl/washington-redskins-game-game-predictions-2013

Thanks in large part to the efforts of rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III and running back Alfred Morris, the Washington Redskins doubled their win total from the previous season (5-11 in 2011 to 10-6 in '12) as they won the NFC East. Of course, last season didn't end on a good note, as the 'Skins not only coughed up a 14-0 lead at home to Seattle, but RGIII also tore the ACL in his right knee in the 21-14 loss to the Seahawks in the NFC Wild Card game.

This marked the second time in his playing career that RGIII had to undergo reconstructive surgery on his right knee, which is why the team is understandably going to great lengths during training camp to ensure that the reigning AP NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year is completely healthy before putting him back out on the field.

Even though the Redskins are returning 21 of 22 starters from last season, how far the 2013 team goes will more than likely hinge on RGIII's recovery and his ability to stay healthy throughout the season. With RGIII, Morris and full seasons from wide receiver Pierre Garcon and tight end Fred Davis, Washington's offense has a chance to be one of the NFL's best. The defense also should be better in 2013 with Pro Bowl linebacker Brian Orakpo and a few other key pieces back from injury.

So can RGIII play in enough games to get the Redskins back to the postseason and possibly defend their NFC East crown? Athlon’s panel of experts debates:

Washington Redskins' 2013 Game-by-Game Predictions

1Philadelphia (Mon.)
2at Green Bay
4at Oakland
6at Dallas
8at Denver
9San Diego
10at Minnesota (Thurs.)
11at Philadelphia
12San Francisco (Mon.)
13New York Giants
14Kansas City
15at Atlanta
17at New York Giants
Final Projection11-59-710-69-7
NFC East5-13-34-23-3

Kevin Ewoldt (@HogsHaven), Hogs Haven
With RGIII coming back from major knee surgery and the Redskins facing all first-place opponents in the NFC East, common logic one would think it'd be hard for the Redskins to repeat their 10-win season. However, here are some key points: Of the Redskins' 22 starters from last season, 21 are returning. The lone player that left per the Redskins' decision was free safety Madieu Williams, who could not get the job done. The Redskins drafted a lot of defenders so it's hard to imagine the defense regresses any, especially with the return of Brian Orakpo, who essentially missed all of last season. On the offensive side, Pierre Garcon is 100 percent healthy again and the Redskins were 9-1 with him in the lineup last year. Playmaker Fred Davis also returns. Finally, Kirk Cousins has looked phenomenal this year so far, so barring any setbacks with RGIII, the offense should be able to still get the job done. 11-5.

Braden Gall (@BradenGall)
This is a quality football team that is an elite football team with Robert Griffin III under center and a mediocre one with Kirk Cousins playing. I am a big fan of Cousins, but don't think he can lead this team to the playoffs should RG3 miss some time. The biggest concern with Griffin is his ability to stay healthy and he won't do that unless he tweaks the way he plays the game — which is easier said than done. A winning record in this division puts them into contention for the NFC East title and a potential wild card spot, but in a loaded NFC, odds are the Redskins take a small step back — especially, if their star quarterback misses any time at all.

Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
The recovery of the right knee of quarterback Robert Griffin III likely holds the cards to how the NFC East will play out. If Griffin returns at full strength by the season opener and picks up where he left off, Washington could be the team to beat in the NFC East. If Griffin suffers any setback, backup Kirk Cousins is plenty capable, but the Redskins will miss Griffin’s playmaking ability. Washington’s roster has gotten deeper over the last few years and all but one starter from last season’s 10-6 team returns. Also, receiver Pierre Garcon and linebacker Brian Orakpo are back to full strength, which should provide a boost for this team. Even if Washington doesn’t win the division, coach Mike Shanahan will have his team in the mix for a wild card. Of course, this season all hinges on Griffin and avoiding any setbacks with his knee injury.

Mark Ross
Even if I knew Robert Griffin III would play all 16 games during the regular season, I still would pick Washington to win fewer games this season than the 10 they did last year. Obviously, RGIII and the health of his surgically repaired knee is the key to the Redskins' success this season, but I have other concerns as it relates to how this team is built.

Washington's defense finished near the bottom in both yards allowed and passing defense last season. Because of salary cap issues, the team did nothing during free agency to shore up this side of the ball and it has already lost one of its draft picks (safety Phillip Thomas) to a season-ending injury. Yes, linebacker Brian Orakpo will be back and, presumably, so will defensive lineman Adam Carriker, but I'm not sure how much of a difference they will make on the unit's overall performance.

While this is pretty much the same team (21 of 22 starters return) that won 10 games last season, the 2013 version has a second-year quarterback coming off of a significant injury and a schedule that includes Super Bowl contenders Atlanta, Denver, Green Bay and San Francisco, in addition to a rugged NFC East slate. RGIII was Washington's x-factor last season, but he's too much of a question mark entering this one to not expect the Redskins to take a small step back, at minimum.

Related Washington Redskins Content
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The NFL's 25 Greatest Quarterbacks of All-Time

Washington Redskins: Game-by-Game Predictions for 2013
Post date: Thursday, August 15, 2013 - 11:00
All taxonomy terms: AFC, AFC South, Tennessee Titans, NFL, News
Path: /nfl/tennessee-titans-game-game-predictions-2013

After just missing out on the playoffs in 2011 with a 9-7 record, the Tennessee Titans struggled throughout last season, finishing a disappointing 6-10. Both the offense and defense shared the blame, as quarterback Jake Locker went through quite a few growing pains in his first season as the starter and the Titans gave up the most points (29.4 per game) in the entire NFL.

The team was extremely busy on the free agent market, as it sought to revamp its offensive and defensive lines and add quality depth to other positions. In the draft the Titans took Alabama guard Chance Warmack with the 10th overall pick and traded up to get Tennessee wide receiver Justin Hunter early in the second round.

The additions along the offensive line and the signing of free-agent tight end Delanie Walker should only help Chris Johnson in the running game, which likewise will make Locker's job easier. Former Titans' defensive coordinator Gregg Williams also has returned to help current DC Jerry Gray turn around a Titans' defense that had trouble slowing down teams last season.

Third-year head coach Mike Munchak needs to get his team back into playoff consideration, as Titans owner Bud Adams has made it clear he wants to win and soon. Locker also finds himself on the hot seat, as the 2011 first-round pick needs to show Adams, general manager Ruston Webster, Munchak and the coaching staff, his teammates and the fans that he's the long-term answer at quarterback.

Can Locker and company win enough games to be a playoff contender in 2013? Athlon’s panel of experts debates:

Tennessee Titans' 2013 Game-by-Game Predictions

1at PIT
2at HOU
6at SEA
9at STL
12at OAK
13at IND
14at DEN
16at JAC
Final Projection10-68-89-78-88-88-88-810-6
AFC South5-13-34-23-32-43-34-24-2

Willy Daunic (@WillyD1025), co-host of 102.5 The Game's "Sports Night"
The Titans offseason was filled with a multitude of moves designed to give the team the best chance to win right now.  Mike Munchak and crew probably don't have the luxury of another bad season. As a result there are a ton of x-factors for this club, and the percentages tell you they are more likely to be 6-10 than 10-6. However, I have a strange feeling it's going to hit. The key is the revamped offensive line — adding free agent G Andy Levitre and first-round pick Chance Warmack. They must be a Top 10 unit with the physical presence that hasn't been there in years.  If they can, fellow first-round picks Jake Locker, Chris Johnson, Kenny Britt and Kendall Wright can take a step forward.

Braden Gall (@BradenGall)
The Titans offense should be much improved with a healthy Jake Locker, rebuilt offensive line and a full year of Dowell Loggains calling the plays. The talent around Locker has improved dramatically through the draft and free agency so the offense could be one of the AFC's better units — if Locker can stay on the field. Defensively, this team needs to iron out the linebacking position and continue to develop a consistent pass rush. The addition of players like Bernard Pollard will help give this team a physical edge it has lacked since Jeff Fisher left town. One or two upsets and this team could push for a winning record, otherwise, it will win the games it is supposed to and lose those it shouldn't win.

Brad Hopkins (@b_hop72), Oilers/Titans LT for 13 years (1993-2005), now co-host of 102.5 The Game's "The First Quarter"
The Titans entered the new millennia this offseason by scratching checks to build depth. [Ryan] Fitzpatrick, [Andy] Levitre, [Shonn] Greene, etc. are insurance that this year goes according to schedule... for them of course. The Titans competing for a divisional title would be "fun" for the fans in 2013, but making it into the playoffs seems to be the focus this year for Mike Munchak and crew. A steal in Week 1 against the Steelers leads to confidence. That confidence carries this team through another tough road trip before getting on a roll in mid-season. If the key guys can stay healthy through November, this team has the talent to finish 9-7 and possibly slip into a wild card spot.

Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
After a busy offseason in the free agent market and five picks in the first four rounds of the NFL Draft, the Titans have positioned themselves to make a run at a wild card spot in 2013. While the active offseason helped to address some of the concerns, Tennessee still has huge question marks on defense, and quarterback Jake Locker has never started for a full season. Locker has plenty of talent in his supporting cast, and the offensive line was upgraded by the signing of former Buffalo guard Andy Levitre, and the team’s first-round pick in Alabama road grader Chance Warmack. It’s not quite a make-or-break year for Locker, but it’s time for the former first-round pick to take the next step in his development. After a 6-10 finish last season, Tennessee should be closer to .500. But the Titans will fall short of a playoff bid, putting coach Mike Munchak’s job in jeopardy.

Terry McCormick (@terrymc13),
The Tennessee Titans have the potential to be much improved over last season when they dipped to 6-10. The offensive line is better, which should make Chris Johnson better. Kendall Wright, Nate Washington and a healthy Kenny Britt should give QB Jake Locker some nice targets to throw to. Locker’s progress is key to the offense developing, and he must not only stay healthy but has to become a more reliable passer. Defensively, the Titans added several pieces, though there were no obvious difference-makers on the defensive line. The biggest change there might be in attitude where safety Bernard Pollard will bring some aggressiveness, which will no doubt be encouraged by Gregg Williams who come back from a year suspension to help coordinator Jerry Gray. The Titans should at least be more competitive than in 2012, but there are still a lot of things that have to break right for them to think playoffs. A tough schedule that includes seven games against playoff teams from a year ago won’t help.

Darren McFarland (@dmac_1025), co-host of 102.5 The Game's "Sports Night"
As you can tell from my predictions, the 2013 season will be streaky. Two tough road tests to start the season and then four of the next five at home to build that confidence back up. Which is precisely what they will have to do on the both sides of the ball during the course of the season. Some games will rely on the much more aggressive defensive philosophy that was installed in the off season with the hire of Gregg Williams and some games will be won by the legs of Chris Johnson and Shonn Greene behind the much improved offensive line. The NFL is a Quarterback dominated league and in the end, the Titans will have to figure out what they have in Jake Locker.

Mark Ross
I really like what the Titans did in the offseason, using free agency and the draft to address key areas of need and depth to pivotal positions. I do think that Jake Locker will put up better results in his second season as the starting quarterback, as a rebuilt offensive line provides better protection and bigger holes for Chris Johnson and Shonn Greene to run through. I also believe the defense will be better as the young guys now have more experience under their belt and veterans like Bernard Pollard and George Wilson are around to set the example.

Optimism aside, however, what I don't like about the Titans in 2013 is something they have no control over — their schedule. The Titans will face five playoff teams from last season, including Houston and Jacksonville twice, and that doesn't include road games at Pittsburgh and St. Louis, where the franchise's winnnigest head coach, Jeff Fisher, now works. If Locker continues to develop, the offensive line jells and the defense plays more physical, the Titans should stay in the hunt for a potential wild card spot all season. If the pieces don't come together, however, it could signal the end of Mike Munchak's career-long relationship with the only franchise he has ever played or coached for.

Nathan Rush
The Titans enter a make or break season for coach Mike Munchak and quarterback Jake Locker with their collective sights set on the final AFC Wild Card spot — with which the division-rival Colts staggered into the playoffs against all odds last year. A 10–6 record should get the job done. In order to do that, however, a few things must happen. Tennessee needs to avoid an 0–2 start by splitting a brutal two-game road trip — at Pittsburgh and at Houston — to open the season. The Titans need to go 4–2 in the division, most likely sweeping the Jaguars and then splitting with the Colts and Texans. Tennessee must protect LP Field in winnable non-division games against the Chargers, Jets, Chiefs and Cardinals. Expectations may be low in Nashville, but 10 wins (and a playoff berth) are within reach for the Titans in 2013.

Related Tennessee Titans Content
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Tennessee Titans: Game-by-Game Predictions for 2013
Post date: Tuesday, August 13, 2013 - 12:00
Path: /nfl/arizona-cardinals-2013-nfl-team-preview

To say the Cardinals are starting over this season isn’t so much obvious as it is a vast understatement. They have a new general manager in Steve Keim and a new coach in Bruce Arians. Of the 88 players on the roster after the draft, 46 are new, including 21 veterans. That’s what happens when a team loses nine straight games after a 4–0 start, finishes 5–11, its third straight non-winning season, and goes through quarterbacks like most people go through socks. The instability at the position is what cost Ken Whisenhunt his job, and Arians and Keim quickly tried to remedy the mess by acquiring Carson Palmer. Make no mistake, though: Palmer is a transitional quarterback, and this is a transitional season. The Cardinals just want to establish a foothold in Arians’ first year and then hope they find their quarterback of the future in the 2014 draft.

Athlon Sports NFC Power Ranking: 16th

Related: 2013 Arizona Cardinals Schedule Analysis

Let’s start with this truth: The Cardinals can’t be much worse than they were in 2012, when they ranked dead last in total offense and rushing yards, and 28th in passing. There’s little question Palmer will be a significant upgrade over the quartet of quarterbacks — John Skelton, Kevin Kolb, Ryan Lindley, Brian Hoyer — who took snaps last year. Palmer still has a strong arm and can zing the ball downfield, attributes that are essential to both Arians — who likes to go deep — and wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, who was probably singing a chorus of “Hallelujah” when the Cardinals traded for Palmer. Palmer’s downside: He too often throws it to guys in the wrong uniform. He’s had 50 interceptions the last three seasons. Given Arians’ fondness for taking chances, Palmer’s interception rate probably isn’t going to drop.

Also, Palmer isn’t the most mobile of quarterbacks, which makes the development of the offensive line vital. The tackle position was a nightmare last season, but the line should be stabilized somewhat by the return of left tackle Levi Brown, who missed all of 2012 with a torn pectoral muscle. Also, the interior of the line was upgraded with the first-round selection of guard Jonathan Cooper, who will start from Day 1. The team also signed veteran tackle Eric Winston in late July to a one-year deal, adding to its offensive line depth.

The improvement of the offensive line is critical in not only keeping Palmer healthy but also establishing some consistency in the running game. Newly acquired Rashard Mendenhall rushed for more than 1,000 yards as recently as 2010, but both he and 2011 second-round pick Ryan Williams haven’t been able to stay off the disabled list. Mendenhall had just 51 carries last season, and Williams has only 58 rushes in his NFL career. Mendenhall likely will get first crack at the starting job, but watch out for Williams. He has the lateral quickness and ability to make defenders miss. If he can stay healthy, he could have a breakout season.

The passing game should be more effective if for no other reason than Palmer will be able to get the ball to Fitzgerald, who should reclaim his stature as one of the NFL’s best receivers. Second-year pro Michael Floyd also could have a big year; he came on in the second half of 2012. The Cardinals are a bit thin at receiver, though, and can’t afford a key injury.

Arizona won’t be one of the league’s elite offenses this year, but it has the potential to move the ball downfield and score some points, something the Cardinals couldn’t do last year.

The short-term memory is the Cardinals’ defense collapsing down the stretch in 2012, allowing 123 points in its last four games. But the statistic is misleading; by that point, the defense was exhausted and beaten down physically and emotionally by the offense’s ineptitude. A more accurate read — and predictor of how the defense will play this year — came in the first four games, when the Cardinals gave up 61 points.

Arizona is particularly strong up front. Defensive end Calais Campbell (63 tackles, 6.5 sacks) could be headed to his first Pro Bowl, and under tackle Darnell Dockett should be more effective in the 3-4 hybrid scheme expected to be used by first-year defensive coordinator Todd Bowles.

The Cardinals also have few worries at cornerback, where Patrick Peterson emerged as a shutdown corner in 2012 and the acquisition of veterans Antoine Cason and Jerraud Powers solidified the other the side of the field. In fact, Arizona has so much depth at the position, it should be able to effectively cover four-wide schemes.

The question marks are at linebacker and safety. The four-game suspension of inside linebacker Daryl Washington for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy is huge. Washington is a Pro Bowl talent and arguably the team’s best player. Arizona did sign Jasper Brinkley and draft LSU’s Kevin Minter in the second round, but they’re not Washington.

Also, Arizona needs to find a pass-rush threat at linebacker; Washington had more sacks (nine) than Sam Acho and O’Brien Schofield combined (eight) last year. Given Washington’s absence, the lack of an elite pass-rusher could be fatal in the first month of the season. In hopes of potentially addressing this need and soften the blow when Washington serves his suspension, the Cardinals signed two-time All-Pro John Abraham to a two-year contract in late July. Abraham, 35, spent the last seven seasons in Atlanta playing defensive end, but he is expected to make the move to outside linebacker in Bowles' scheme.

At safety, the Cardinals lost starters Adrian Wilson and Kerry Rhodes. While there’s no question Wilson’s game had slipped, he still was the defense’s leader. Fifth-year pro Rashad Johnson will replace Wilson, but he’s yet to prove he’s an every-down player.

The Cardinals’ plans at free safety are intriguing, to say the least. Rookie Tyrann Mathieu will move there from cornerback, and he has the physical skills to eventually be one of the league’s best. But can he stay clean? If so, Arizona will have found a steal in the third round; if not, the team’s last line of defense will be an issue all year.

Punter Dave Zastudil averaged 46.5 yards per kick last year and dropped 46 punts inside the 20. Placekicker Jay Feely made 25-of-28 field goals and combines his accuracy with a strong leg; he made a 61-yarder last year. Arizona could be special in the return game. Arians plans to use both Peterson — who returned four punts for touchdowns in 2011 — and Mathieu on punt returns. Mathieu also might be used on kickoffs. Both players are extremely dangerous with the ball in their hands, and by using a two-man return game on punts, teams won’t be able to angle the ball away from a single returner.

Final Analysis: 4th in NFC West
The San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks, the Cardinals’ division rivals, might be the two best teams in the league, and both improved in the offseason. But Arizona should be able to take a step forward from last year’s 5–11 record, if for no other reason than it has a capable quarterback in Palmer. Assuming he stays healthy, Palmer is probably worth at least a couple of wins by himself. The keys will be the offensive line, the secondary and the health of Mendenhall and Williams at running back. If everything goes well, the Cardinals could be around .500 in December, and that would be a victory in Arians’ first season as coach.

Order your 2013 Arizona Cardinals Athlon Sports NFL Preview magazine here

2013 Athlon Sports NFL Team Previews:

AFC EastAFC NorthAFC SouthAFC West
Buffalo (8/14)Baltimore (8/26)Houston (8/29)Denver (9/3)
Miami (8/16)Cincinnati (8/27)Indianapolis (8/23)Kansas City (8/21)
New England (8/30)Cleveland (8/19)JacksonvilleOakland (8/13)
NY Jets (8/15)Pittsburgh (8/28)Tennessee (8/22)San Diego (8/20)
NFC EastNFC NorthNFC SouthNFC West
Dallas (8/22)Chicago (8/20)Atlanta (8/27)Arizona
NY Giants (8/30)Detroit (8/13)Carolina (8/14)St. Louis (8/23)
Philadelphia (8/19)Green Bay (8/29)New Orleans (8/26)San Francisco (9/3)
Washington (8/16)Minnesota (8/21)Tampa Bay (8/15)Seattle (8/28)


Arizona Cardinals 2013 NFL Team Preview
Post date: Monday, August 12, 2013 - 11:00
Path: /mlb/2013-fantasy-baseball-closer-grid

Athlon keeps fantasy GMs up to date with a complete look at MLB's bullpen situations.

TeamCloserSetupWatch List
ArizonaBrad ZeiglerJ.J. PutzJoe Thatcher, Heath Bell
AtlantaCraig KimbrelJordan WaldenScott Downs, Luis Ayala, Anthony Varvaro, Eric O'Flaherty, Jonny Venters (DL)
BaltimoreJim JohnsonFrancisco RodriguezDarren O'Day, Tommy Hunter, Brian Matusz, Troy Patton
BostonKoji UeharaJunichi TazawaMatt Thornton, Andrew Bailey, Andrew Miller, Joel Hanrahan (DL)
Chicago (NL)Kevin GreggJames RussellBlake Parker, Pedro Strop, Kyuji Fujikawa (DL)
Chicago (AL)Addison ReedNate JonesMatt Lindstrom, Jesse Crain (DL)
CincinnatiAroldis ChapmanSam LeCureJ.J. Hoover, Jonathan Broxton, Sean Marshall (DL)
ClevelandChris PerezJoe SmithCody Allen, Rich Hill
ColoradoRex BrothersMatt BelisleWilton Lopez, Rafael Betancourt (DL)
DetroitJoaquin BenoitJose VerasDrew Smyly, Al Albuquerque, Phil Coke, Octavio Dotel (DL)
HoustonJose Cisnero*Josh Fields*Wesley Wright, Hector Ambriz
Kansas CityGreg HollandAaron Crow Tim Collins, Luke Hochevar, Kelvin Herrera
LA AnglesErnesto FrieriDane De La RosaKevin Jepsen, Michael Kohn Ryan Madson (DL)
LA DodgersKenley JansenBrandon LeagueRonald Belisario, Paco Rodriguez, Carlos Marmol
MiamiSteve CishekChad QuallsMike Dunn, A.J. Ramos
MilwaukeeJim HendersonJohn AxfordMike Gonzalez, Brandon Kinzler
MinnesotaGlen PerkinsJared BurtonCasey Fien, Josh Roenicke
New York (NL)LaTroy Hawkins*David Aardsma* Scott Rice*, Josh Edgin, Bobby Parnell, Frank Francisco (DL)
New York (AL)Mariano RiveraDavid RobertsonBoone Logan, Preston Claiborne, Joba Chamberlain
OaklandGrant BalfourRyan CookSean Doolittle
PhiladelphiaJonathan PapelbonJustin De FratusJustin De Fratus, Jacob Diekman, Mike Adams (DL)
PittsburghMark MelanconJustin WilsonTony Watson, Bryan Morris, Jason Grilli (DL)
St. LouisEdward MujicaTrevor RosenthalSeth Maness, Jason Motte (DL)
San DiegoHuston StreetLuke GregersonDale Thayer
San FranciscoSergio RomoSantiago CasillaJavier Lopez, Jose Mijares
SeattleDanny FarquharOliver PerezCharlie Furbush, Carter Capps, Yoervis Medina, Stephen Pryor (DL)
Tampa BayFernando RodneyJoel PeraltaJake McGee, Alex Torres
TexasJoe NathanJason FrasorTanner Scheppers, Neal Cotts, Robbie Ross, Joakim Soria
TorontoCasey JanssenSteve DelabarBrett Cecil, Aaron Loup, Darren Oliver, Sergio Santos (DL)
WashingtonRafael SorianoTyler ClippardCraig Stammen, Ian Krol

*Houston and the New York Mets are employing a closer-by-committee approach right now.

Fantasy Baseball Positional Rankings: Big Board | C | 1B | 2B | 3B | SS | OF | DH | SP | RP

Related Content:
2013 Fantasy Baseball Sleepers and Busts: Infield
2013 Fantasy Baseball Sleepers and Busts: Outfield
2013 Fantasy Baseball Sleepers and Busts: Starting Pitcher
2013 Fantasy Baseball Sleepers and Busts: Relief Pitcher
2013 Fantasy Baseball Deep Sleepers
Fantasy Baseball Studs to Avoid in 2013
Fantasy Baseball 2013: Which Injured Players are Worth Drafting?

<p> 2013 Fantasy Baseball: Closer Grid</p>
Post date: Sunday, August 11, 2013 - 16:00
All taxonomy terms: Dallas Cowboys, NFC, NFC East, NFL, News
Path: /nfl/dallas-cowboys-game-game-predictions-2013

The Dallas Cowboys have missed the playoffs in each of the past three seasons and have posted a 22-26 record during this span. Owner Jerry Jones has already said he doesn't "want to go 8-8" again, so the pressure is on head coach Jason Garrett to win in 2013.

Last season, the Cowboys were doomed by a combination of injuries, turnovers, an inconsistent running game and a defense that gave up the most yards in team history. The offseseason brought about both personnel and coaching staff changes, as 73-year-old Monte Kiffin was hired to replace Rob Ryan as defensive coordinator. Kiffin is switching the Cowboys from a 3-4 to a 4-3 scheme, which means several players will be in new positions this season.

Jones signed quarterback Tony Romo to a six-year, $108 million contract extension, so this is his team. He has weapons in wide receivers Dez Bryant and Miles Austin and tight end Jason Witten, but Romo needs a little more help from the running game (31st in the NFL last season), while also cutting down on his own mistakes (19 INTs).

Can Garrett and Romo win enough games during the season to have a shot at making the playoffs? Athlon’s panel of experts debates:

Dallas Cowboys' 2013 Game-by-Game Predictions

1New York Giants
2at Kansas City
3St. Louis
4at San Diego
7at Philadelphia
8at Detroit 
10at New Orleans
12at New York Giants
14at Chicago
15Green Bay
16at Washington
 Final Projection9-79-79-78-88-8
 NFC East3-34-24-24-23-3

Braden Gall (@BradenGall)
This will be the most scrutinized coaching staff in the NFL in 2013. Jason Garrett has had multiple chances to cap a year with a win and a playoffs berth. Yet, both times, the Cowboys came up short. The offensive line and secondary have been reworked over the last few seasons and appear to be improving finally. However, a shift to the 4-3 scheme on defense and a peculiar play-calling tension between Jerry Jones, Garrett and offensive coordinator Bill Callahan gives this team plenty of drama to contend with. Tony Romo is a vastly underrated quarterback who has been given little help along the way. So as long as Jones is meddling with his roster and coaching staff, this team won't compete for a Super Bowl. And will miss the playoffs once again in 2013.

Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
With the Cowboys missing out on the playoffs for the last three seasons, this is a make-or-break year for coach Jason Garrett. The Cowboys have the necessary pieces to win the NFC East, but also plenty of question marks. Quarterback Tony Romo needs to cut down on his mistakes, and he needs help from an offensive line that is still searching for help at guard this offseason. I’m skeptical about the hire of Monte Kiffin as the defensive coordinator, especially as Dallas is trying to transition back to the 4-3. The schedule isn’t too challenging, and with plenty of question marks surrounding the Eagles, Giants and Redskins, the Cowboys will have a shot at the wild card if they don’t win the division. I think Dallas is in the mix for the wild card, but if the defense struggles to transition to the 4-3, the Cowboys will slip back to 8-8 and Garrett will be on his way out.

Mark Ross
Pretty much everyone that wears a blue star on their helmet is on the hot seat this season, although the warmest seat by far belongs to Jason Garrett. He needs to lead his team to no worse than a 9-7 mark, and even then I'm not sure that will be enough, especially if it means the Cowboys miss the playoffs for a fourth straight season. Dallas wasn't a horrible team last season, the Cowboys just made too many self-inflicted mistakes on offense and gave up entirely too many yards on defense. Both of these areas can be "fixed," but the defense's job will be a lot harder with the shift from a 3-4 to a 4-3. The schedule's manageable, but drawing Denver, Green Bay and New Orleans places even more emphasis on the division. I think the Cowboys are good enough to post a winning record, but given the landscape of the NFC, the only way 9-7 gets them in the playoffs is if they win the NFC East. The last time Dallas finished better than .500 in divisional play was 2009, which coincidentally also was the last time the Cowboys won the NFC East and went to the postseason.

Ralph Vacchiano (@RVacchianoNYDN), New York Daily News
In critical year for both coach Jason Garrett and quarterback Tony Romo, the Cowboys are in an interesting spot — too talented to completely collapse, but probably not talented enough to be anything but a fringe contender. A rough early schedule makes things even more perilous — especially considering the amount of offensive powerhouses their questionable defense will have to stop. In the division alone the Cowboy' defense will have its hands full. Romo alone is good enough to win plenty of games, but everyone knows how erratic he can be. That will keep Dallas around .500 and probably just outside the playoff chase.

Charean Williams (@NFLCharean), Fort Worth Star-Telegram
The Cowboys don’t look much different on paper than they did last season… or the previous season. Could it mean another 8-8 finish? The hope is in their division, the worst in the NFC. They need to sweep Philadelphia again, and sweep either Washington or the Giants — while splitting with the other — to go 5-1 in the division and get to nine victories and the playoffs. The schedule looks favorable for a strong start. It is the first time since 2007 that the Cowboys have kicked off a season at home, and, in fact, they began 2011 and 2012 with back-to-back road games. It should be noted, however, that they are 0-4 against the Giants at home since AT&T Stadium, formerly known as Cowboys Stadium, opened. It is the first time since 2009 that the Cowboys have finished at home. The last two years their playoff hopes came down to a road game at a division opponent, with losses at the Giants in 2011 and at the Redskins in 2012 keeping Dallas out of the postseason. This season, the Cowboys get Philadelphia at AT&T Stadium to close out the season. If it comes down to that game, with a playoff berth on the line, count the Cowboys in.

Related Dallas Cowboys Content
It's Playoffs or Bust for the Dallas Cowboys in 2013
Dallas Cowboys 2013 Schedule Analysis
Ranking the NFL's Starting Quarterbacks for 2013
Ranking the NFL's Coaching Jobs for 2013
8 NFL Head Coaches on the Hot Seat in 2013

25 NFL Players on the Hot Seat in 2013
12 NFL Quarterbacks on the Hot Seat in 2013
12 NFL Running Backs on the Hot Seat in 2013

Dallas Cowboys: Game-by-Game Predictions for 2013
Post date: Friday, August 9, 2013 - 10:30
All taxonomy terms: Green Bay Packers, NFC, NFC North, NFL, News
Path: /nfl/green-bay-packers-game-game-predictions-2013

The Green Bay Packers have posted 10 or more wins in the regular season four straight years and have won the NFC North the past two. Unfortunately for Packer fans, they also have watched their team exit in the Divisional Round of the NFC playoffs in each of the past two postseasons.

Last season Aaron Rodgers and company ran into the buzz saw that was San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who torched the Packers defense with both his arms and legs (NFL-record 181 yards rushing) as the 49ers rolled up 579 yards of offense in the 45-31 victory.

The offseason saw the departure of both wide receiver Greg Jennings and defensive back Charles Woodson via free agency, while the draft brought in much-needed reinforcements for the running game and defense. As long as Rodgers is in there, the Packers should be a contender in the NFC North. He can't be expected to carry this team alone, however, as the offensive line needs to do a better job protecting him (sacked an NFL-high 51 times in 2012) and the running game needs to provide more support.

The defense also needs to do its part, especially along the line, if this Packers team wants to do more than just win a third straight NFC North title only to make yet another early postseason exit.

What will the Packers' record be at the end of the 2013 regular season? Athlon’s panel of experts debates:

Green Bay Packers' 2013 Game-by-Game Predictions

Evan "Tex"
1at San Francisco
6at Baltimore
8at Minnesota
9Chicago (Mon.)
11at New York Giants
13at Detroit (Thurs.)
15at Dallas
17at Chicago
 Final Projection10-611-511-511-511-511-5
 NFC North5-15-14-25-14-24-2

Braden Gall (@BradenGall)
As long as No. 12 is under center, this team will likely be the frontrunner to win the NFC North. However, this team isn't nearly as talented or healthy as the 15-1 team from two years ago. The schedule is nasty with huge NFC tests with almost every other playoff contender as well as the toughest division from the AFC (North). The running game should be better and the front seven should be deeper but with injuries piling up already in the preseason, in particular along the offensive line, this team looks more like a three- or four-seed rather than a first-round bye.

Bill Huber (@PackerReport),
This is a challenging schedule but the Packers should be a better all-around team than they were in 2012, when they finished 11-5. In their first five games, the Packers face four playoff teams — including both Super Bowl participants. In fact, there really isn't a soft spot on the schedule. Of the 16 games, only Cleveland failed to post at least a .500 record in either 2011 or '12, and 11 of the 16 games will be against teams that reached the playoffs in one of those two seasons — a list that doesn’t include two matchups against Chicago, which won 10 games last year. An improved running game should lend to a better passing game, as well, thanks to better protection and the return of play action. A defense that finished fourth in sacks last season used a first-round pick on Datone Jones and will benefit from the return of last year’s first-round pick, Nick Perry, who missed the final 10 games. Over the last four seasons, the Packers have 17 more interceptions than any team in the league, so an improved pass rush should only accentuate that strength.

Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
It’s been a relatively quiet offseason in Green Bay. The Packers weren’t active in free agency and continue to build through the draft, while keeping their core Aaron Rodgers and Clay Matthews in Lambeau for the long haul. However, tackle Bryan Bulaga’s knee injury in training camp was a significant setback for a team hoping to improve its offensive line. Only one of Green Bay’s regular-season losses was by more than eight points, so with most of its core returning, Mike McCarthy’s team will be in the driver’s seat for the NFC North title. Road trips to San Francisco, Cincinnati, Baltimore and Dallas will be tough, but the Packers should emerge with another 10- or 11-win season. As long as Green Bay’s offensive line keeps Rodgers upright, the Packers will be a threat to win the Super Bowl.

John Rehor (@jrehor),
The Packers offense expects to be explosive again in 2013. QB Aaron Rodgers, arguably the best player in the league, leads a high-powered passing attack with WRs Randall Cobb, Jordy Nelson, James Jones, and TE Jermichael Finley all capable of producing at a high level. The much maligned running game should also receive a boost with the additions two RBs added in April’s draft bruising Eddie Lacy, and shifty Johnathan Franklin to go along with incumbents DuJuan Harris, James Starks, and Alex Green. The Packers offense should be even better in 2013 than it has been in the past few years and that is a scary thought.

The biggest question mark remains the defense. After being shredded by the 49ers in the divisional round of the playoffs last season, Dom Capers’ squad enters 2013 with something to prove.  Clay Matthews and company will receive some help with the addition of first-round pick Datone Jones, and the continued maturation of up and comers such as Casey Hayward and Nick Perry. K Mason Crosby is hoping for redemption following a 2012 campaign he would like to forget. He will be pushed hard by his competition Giorgio Tavecchio during training camp to earn the kicking duties.

An 11-5 record should be enough to get the Packers into the playoffs, perhaps even win the NFC North for a third consecutive season. But if the defense plays the same as it did against San Francisco, which ended their 2012 season, it will be a quick playoff exit for the fourth time in five seasons under head coach Mike McCarthy.

Mark Ross
It's no secret. Green Bay's title hopes are tied directly to the right arm and legs of one Aaron Rodgers. As long as No. 12 is on the field the Packers should make the playoffs. Rodgers could use some help carrying the load, however, especially considering he was sacked an NFL-high 51 times last year. Unfortunately, he has already lost his left tackle (Bryan Bulaga) for the season, which is not how Packer fans wanted this season to start. It's even more critical now for draft picks Eddie Lacy and Johnathan Franklin to help jumpstart the running game and the rest of the offensive line to jell.

The defense could help take some of the pressure off of the offense by increasing its level of play. Similar to Lacy and Franklin, the team is expecting big things from first-round pick Datone Jones along the defensive line. The secondary also must find a way to replace the experience and savvy of the departed Charles Woodson.

Schedule-wise, Green Bay has the unenviable task of opening on the road against the defending NFC champion 49ers. After the Week 4 bye, however, things open up somewhat and barring significant injuries to other key pieces, the Packers should be able to win more than enough games to get into the playoffs and claim a third straight NFC North crown.

Evan "Tex" Western (@acmepackingco), Acme Packing Company
Try as I might, I just can't convince myself to pick the Packers against recent nemeses San Francisco or New York on the road. However, the team's home schedule sets up well and I like the matchup with Atlanta in December. Even with an improved running game and pass rush, though, 11 wins and a third straight NFC North title sounds about right to me.

Related Green Bay Packers Content

Green Bay Packers 2013 Schedule Analysis
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Green Bay Packers: Game-by-Game Predictions for 2013
Post date: Thursday, August 8, 2013 - 10:00
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2013-quarterback-rankings

NFL training camps are in full swing and while no significant injuries have yet to befall any quarterbacks, they have still had an impact on Athlon Sports' Fantasy Football 2013 Quarterback Rankings. For example, Seattle's Russell Wilson has already been dealt a big blow with new wide receiver Percy Harvin expected to be out until at least sometime in November after undergoing hip surgery.

Wilson, who tied Peyton Manning's rookie record with 26 touchdown passes a year ago, is still a viable starting option, but the loss of his presumed No. 1 option does impact his value and has caused him to fall a few spots in our rankings below. Philadelphia's Michael Vick also has already lost a key target with Jeremy Maclin's season-ending ACL injury. Vick's case, however, is a little different in that the veteran's fantasy value was already in question due to his contract status (one year) and a new coaching staff leading the Eagles.

Tom Brady has plenty of question marks of his own as it relates to weapons give the turnover the Patriots have seen at wide receiver and the current state of their tight end depth chart. However, Brady's track record speaks for itself, which is why we have him ranked as a top-five fantasy QB.

Order your Athlon Sports 2013 Fantasy Football Preview magazine today!

Fantasy Football 2013: Preseason Quarterback Rankings
Updated Aug. 5


1Aaron RodgersGB4
2Drew BreesNO7
3Peyton ManningDEN9
4Tom BradyNE10
5Cam NewtonCAR4
6Matt RyanATL6
7Colin KaepernickSF9
8Matthew StaffordDET9
9Andrew LuckIND8
10Tony RomoDAL11
11Eli ManningNYG9
12Russell WilsonSEA12
13Robert Griffin IIIWAS5
14Ben RoethlisbergerPIT5
15Andy DaltonCIN12
16Joe FlaccoBAL8
17Michael VickPHI12
18Jay CutlerCHI8
19Philip RiversSD8
20Sam BradfordSTL11
21Matt SchaubHOU8
22Josh FreemanTB5
23Carson PalmerARI9
24Alex SmithKC10
25Ryan TannehillMIA6
26Jake LockerTEN8
27Christian PonderMIN5
28Brandon WeedenCLE10
29Geno SmithNYJ10
30Matt FlynnOAK7
31Kevin KolbBUF12
32Chad HenneJAC9
33EJ ManuelBUF12
34Mark SanchezNYJ10
35Kirk CousinsWAS5
36Blaine GabbertJAC9
37Nick FolesPHI12
38Ryan FitzpatrickTEN8
39Jason CampbellCLE10
40Matt CasselMIN5
41Bruce GradkowskiPIT5
42Shaun HillDET9
43Drew StantonARI9
44Ryan MallettNE10
45Matt MooreMIA6
46Matt HasselbeckIND8
47T.J. YatesHOU8
48Terrelle PryorOAK7
49Kyle OrtonDAL11
50Brock OsweilerDEN9
51Matt BarkleyPHI12
52Mike GlennonTB5
53Tyrod TaylorBAL8
54Derek AndersonCAR4
55Tarvaris JacksonSEA12
56Chase DanielKC10
57Colt McCoySF9
58Josh JohnsonCIN12
59Kellen ClemensSTL11
60Ryan LindleyARI9

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

Additional Fantasy Football Rankings:

2013 Big Board (Top 250)
Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends
Defense/Special Teams


Fantasy Football 2013: Quarterback Rankings
Post date: Monday, August 5, 2013 - 17:00
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2013-wide-receiver-rankings

NFL training camps are in full swing and even though preseason action has yet to really begin, Athlon Sports' Fantasy Football 2013 Wide Receiver Rankings have seen their fair share of changes. It actually started back in May when San Francisco's Michael Crabtree tore his Achilles. Although it's possible he could return before the end of the season, the injury all but ruined Crabtree's status a potential breakout candidate for this season.

The hits have kept coming, unfortunately, with Jeremy Maclin also already lost for the season because of a torn ACL and Percy Harvin out until at least November because of hip surgery. These injuries present opportunities for bigger numbers from the likes of an Anquan Boldin, DeSean Jackson and Sidney Rice, as well as open the door for someone else on the respective team's roster to emerge.

Fortunately, there are still plenty of legitimate No. 1 options who are healthy, a list that begins with Calvin Johnson. The man named as Megatron broke Jerry Rice's single-season record for receiving yards and was fantasy's No. 1 wide receiver last season despite catching just five touchdown passes.

Order your Athlon Sports 2013 Fantasy Football Preview magazine today!

Fantasy Football 2013: Preseason Wide Receiver Rankings
Updated Aug. 7


1Calvin JohnsonDET9
2Dez BryantDAL11
3A.J. GreenCIN12
4Brandon MarshallCHI8
5Demaryius ThomasDEN9
6Julio JonesATL6
7Vincent JacksonTB5
8Andre JohnsonHOU8
9Randall CobbGB4
10Roddy WhiteATL6
11Larry FitzgeraldARI9
12Victor CruzNYG9
13Wes WelkerDEN9
14Marques ColstonNO7
15Reggie WayneIND8
16Jordy NelsonGB4
17Mike WallaceMIA6
18Danny AmendolaNE10
19Hakeem NicksNYG9
20Dwayne BoweKC10
21Steve SmithCAR4
22Eric DeckerDEN9
23Antonio BrownPIT5
24Pierre GarconWAS5
25DeSean JacksonPHI12
26Torrey SmithBAL8
27Anquan BoldinSF9
28Stevie JohnsonBUF12
29James JonesGB4
30Cecil ShortsJAC9
31Greg JenningsMIN5
32Tavon AustinSTL11
33Sidney RiceSEA12
34T.Y. HiltonIND8
35Mike WilliamsTB5
36Miles AustinDAL11
37Lance MooreNO7
38Kenny BrittTEN8
39Emmanuel SandersPIT5
40Chris GivensSTL11
41Josh GordonCLE10
42Denarius MooreOAK7
43Michael FloydARI9
44Kendall WrightTEN8
45DeAndre HopkinsHOU8
46Alshon JefferyCHI8
47Golden TateSEA12
48Malcom FloydSD8
49Brian HartlineMIA6
50Andre RobertsARI9
51Rueben RandleNYG9
52Justin BlackmonJAC9
53Greg LittleCLE10
54Ryan BroylesDET9
55Vincent BrownSD8
56Santana MossWAS5
57Brandon LloydFA 
58Santonio HolmesNYJ10
59Brandon LaFellCAR4
60Andrew HawkinsCIN12
61Jacoby JonesBAL8
62Jeremy KerleyNYJ10
63Darrius Heyward-BeyIND8
64Cordarrelle PattersonMIN5
65Justin HunterTEN8
66Keenan AllenSD8
67Rod StreaterOAK7
68Braylon EdwardsNYJ10
69Jarius WrightMIN5
70Stephen HillNYJ10
71Davone BessCLE10
72Mohamed SanuCIN12
73Austin PettisSTL11
74Nate WashingtonTEN8
75Jason AvantPHI12
76Nate BurlesonDET9
77Doug BaldwinSEA12
78Donnie AveryKC10
79Terrance WilliamsDAL11
80Eddie RoyalSD8
81Josh MorganWAS5
82Jon BaldwinKC10
83A.J. JenkinsSF9
84Leonard HankersonWAS5
85Dexter McClusterKC10
86T.J. GrahamBUF12
87Robert WoodsBUF12
88Domenik HixonCAR4
89Percy HarvinSEA12
90Michael CrabtreeSF9

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

Additional Fantasy Football Rankings:

2013 Big Board (Top 250)
Running Backs
Tight Ends
Defense/Special Teams

Fantasy Football 2013: Wide Receiver Rankings
Post date: Monday, August 5, 2013 - 17:00
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2013-tight-end-rankings

Preseason action has yet to really begin and there are already several familiar names missing on Athlon Sports' Fantasy Football 2013 Tight End Rankings. While Aaron Hernandez' omission goes without saying, Dennis Pitta's season-ending injury was unexpected and means the loss of one of the league's most productive tight ends (not to mention one of Joe Flacco's favorite targets) from last season. Will Ed Dickson be able to step up and fill Pitta's big shoes? Only time will.

Speaking of time, it may be running out on Rob Gronkowski as it relates to his status as one of the top fantasy tight ends. The Gronk underwent back surgery in June and it's looking more and more likely that he will start the season on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list, which means he would miss the first six games, at minimum. His uncertainty, not to mention ever-growing medical file, is why Gronkowski is barely hanging in at No. 5 in our rankings.

Order your Athlon Sports 2013 Fantasy Football Preview magazine today!

Fantasy Football 2013: Preseason Tight End Rankings
Updated Aug. 5


1Jimmy GrahamNO7
2Jason WittenDAL11
3Tony GonzalezATL6
4Vernon DavisSF9
5Rob GronkowskiNE10
6Owen DanielsHOU8
7Kyle RudolphMIN5
8Greg OlsenCAR4
9Antonio GatesSD8
10Brandon MyersNYG9
11Jared CookSTL11
12Jermichael FinleyGB4
13Martellus BennettCHI8
14Brandon PettigrewDET9
15Ed DicksonBAL8
16Dustin KellerMIA6
17Fred DavisWAS5
18Coby FleenerIND8
19Jordan CameronCLE10
20Dwayne AllenIND8
21Jermaine GreshamCIN12
22Jake BallardNE10
23Tyler EifertCIN12
24Rob HouslerARI9
25Zach MillerSEA12
26Jacob TammeDEN9
27Brent CelekPHI12
28Marcedes LewisJAC9
29Zach ErtzPHI12
30Delanie WalkerTEN8
31Heath MillerPIT5
32Joel DreessenDEN9
33James CaseyPHI12
34Travis KelceKC10
35Luke StockerTB5
36David PaulsonPIT5
37Kellen WinslowNYJ10
38Tony SchefflerDET9
39Scott ChandlerBUF12
40Tony MoeakiKC10
41Garrett GrahamHOU8
42Anthony FasanoKC10
43David AusberryOAK7
44Ben WatsonNO7
45Levine ToiloloATL6
46Gavin EscobarDAL11
47Julius ThomasDEN9
48Tom CrabtreeTB5
49Michael HoomanawanuiNE10
50Taylor ThompsonTEN8
51Jeff CumberlandNYJ10
52Ladarius GreenSD8
53Logan PaulsenWAS5
54Jordan ReedWAS5
55Vance McDonaldSF9
56Chris GraggBUF12
57Zach SudfeldNE10
58Orson CharlesCIN12
59Richard GordonOAK7
60Lance KendricksSTL11

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

Additional Fantasy Football Rankings:

2013 Big Board (Top 250)
Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Defense/Special Teams

Fantasy Football 2013: Tight End Rankings
Post date: Monday, August 5, 2013 - 17:00
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2013-defensespecial-teams-rankings

Seattle remains the No. 1 DST on Athlon Sports' Fantasy Football 2013 Defense/Special Teams rankings as we get ready for preseason action, but it's another team that's getting plenty of our attention.

The Denver Broncos are currently a top-five DST option, but their ranking has already been impacted by the news of Pro Bowl linebacker's Von Miller's pending four-game suspension. If Miller wins his appeal and misses no or fewer games than a strong argument could be made to move the Broncos as high as No. 2. If he loses his appeal, however, the Broncos could tumble a few more spots, depending on how the teams immediately below them are looking entering Week 1.

Miller may just be one player on a 11-man unit, but his impact as a pass rusher and big playmaker is akin to what would happen if the Texans were to lose J.J. Watt for any significant amount of time. This is especially true for the Broncos now that Elvis Dumervil is in Baltimore. And who do the Ravens open the season against? That's right, the Broncos.

Order your Athlon Sports 2013 Fantasy Football Preview magazine today!

Fantasy Football 2013: Preseason Defense/Special Teams Rankings


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

Additional Fantasy Football Rankings:

2013 Big Board (Top 250)
Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends

Fantasy Football 2013: Defense/Special Teams Rankings
Post date: Monday, August 5, 2013 - 17:00
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2013-kicker-rankings

Even kickers haven't been immune to the injury bug as league-wide preseason action gets ready to heat up. Tampa Bay's Connor Barth tore his Achilles in a charity basketball game just prior to the start of training camp, prompting the team to sign Lawrence Tynes. While Tynes doesn't even appear in the top half of Athlon Sports' Fantasy Football 2013 Kicker Rankings, it doesn't mean the veteran should be ignored either. After all, how many last year predicted that Minnesota's Blair Walsh would go from  unheralded rookie to an All-Pro and fantasy's No. 1 kicker?

Order your Athlon Sports 2013 Fantasy Football Preview magazine today!

Fantasy Football 2013: Preseason Kicker Rankings
Updated Aug. 5


1Stephen GostkowskiNE10
2Blair WalshMIN5
3Matt BryantATL6
4Phil DawsonSF9
5Justin TuckerBAL8
6Matt PraterDEN9
7Randy BullockHOU8
8Dan BaileyDAL11
9Josh BrownNYG9
10Garrett HartleyNO7
11Sebastian JanikowskiOAK7
12Greg ZuerleinSTL11
13David AkersDET9
14Steven HauschkaSEA12
15Robbie GouldCHI8
16Mike NugentCIN12
17Mason CrosbyGB4
18Lawrence TynesTB5
19Adam VinatieriIND8
20Alex HeneryPHI12
21Shaun SuishamPIT5
22Rob BironasTEN8
23Ryan SuccopKC10
24Nick NovakSD8
25Jay FeelyARI9
26Shayne GrahamCLE10
27Kai ForbathWAS5
28Graham GanoCAR4
29Josh ScobeeJAC9
30Nick FolkNYJ10
31Rian LindellBUF12
32Dan CarpenterMIA6

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

Additional Fantasy Football Rankings:

2013 Big Board (Top 250)
Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends
Defense/Special Teams

Post date: Monday, August 5, 2013 - 17:00
Path: /nfl/fantasy-football-2013-big-board-top-250

NFL training camps are in full swing with league-wide preseason action ready to commence later this week. Better still, the official start of the regular season is a little more than a month away, which means this is a perfect time to update Athlon Sports' Fantasy Football 2013 Big Board.

If there's any early headline for training camp action so far, it's been the number of significant injuries that have already occurred, several of them being season-ending. Injures were already a factor before training camps even began with Michael Crabtree tearing his ACL and Rob Gronkowski undergoing back surgery, and this trend has continued.

Jeremy Maclin and Dennis Pitta are already lost for the season, while Percy Harvin will miss a significant chunk of it after undergoing hip surgery. Not only do these injuries impact these players' respective offenses, the ripple effect carries over to the fantasy world too.

There also are other early injuries that bear watching, such as Arian Foster's calf and back issues that held the Texans' workhorse out of training camp so far. Neither issue is expected to be serious or linger into the start of the season, which is why Foster remains No. 2 on our big board. Still, this is certainly a situation worth keeping an eye on, as is things like Robert Griffin III's return from his knee injury, Ben Roethlisberger's recovery form offseason knee surgery, Maurice Jones-Drew's comeback from foot surgery, and others.

Fantasy Football 2013: Preseason Big Board (Top 250)
Last updated Aug. 7

1Adrian PetersonMINRB5 
2Arian FosterHOURB8Keep an eye on calf injury.
3Marshawn LynchSEARB12 
4Ray RiceBALRB8 
5Jamaal CharlesKCRB10Could be in for huge season.
6Calvin JohnsonDETWR9Top fantasy WR had just 5 TDs.
7Doug MartinTBRB5Sophomore slump coming?
8C.J. SpillerBUFRB12 
9Trent RichardsonCLERB10 
10LeSean McCoyPHIRB12Is he Kelly's No. 1 weapon?
11Dez BryantDALWR11 
12Aaron RodgersGBQB4 
13Drew BreesNOQB7 
14A.J. GreenCINWR12 
15Alfred MorrisWASRB5 
16Steven JacksonATLRB6 
17Peyton ManningDENQB9More weapons for No. 18.
18Matt ForteCHIRB8 
19Brandon MarshallCHIWR8 
20Demaryius ThomasDENWR9 
21Julio JonesATLWR6 
22Tom BradyNEQB10Really needs a healthy Gronk.
23Jimmy GrahamNOTE7 
24Vincent JacksonTBWR5 
25Andre JohnsonHOUWR8 
26Randall CobbGBWR4 
27Stevan RidleyNERB10 
28Roddy WhiteATLWR6 
29Larry FitzgeraldARIWR9New QB should help.
30Victor CruzNYGWR9 
31Wes WelkerDENWR9New team, same results.
32Marques ColstonNOWR7 
33Chris JohnsonTENRB8Can he be elite again?
34Cam NewtonCARQB4 
35Maurice Jones-DrewJACRB9Will he return to old form?
36Frank GoreSFRB9 
37Reggie WayneINDWR8 
38Jordy NelsonGBWR4 
39Matt RyanATLQB6 
40David WilsonNYGRB9 
41Darren McFaddenOAKRB7New scheme, same RB?
42Montee BallDENRB9Golden opportunity for rookie.
43Mike WallaceMIAWR6Will he miss Big Ben?
44Danny AmendolaNEWR10Is he Welker-esque?
45Hakeem NicksNYGWR9Groin injury keeping him off field.
46Colin KaepernickSFQB9The stage is all his.
47Matthew StaffordDETQB9Hoping to bounce back.
48Andrew LuckINDQB8New OC, same Luck?
49Dwayne BoweKCWR10Could he break out in '13?
50Jason WittenDALTE11 
51Darren SprolesNORB7 
52Steve SmithCARWR4 
53Tony RomoDALQB11No excuses now.
54Eric DeckerDENWR9 
55Antonio BrownPITWR5Big Ben's new No. 1.
56Eli ManningNYGQB9 
57Pierre GarconWASWR5 
58DeSean JacksonPHIWR12Clear-cut No. 1 after Maclin's injury.
59Tony GonzalezATLTE6Can he do it again?
60Torrey SmithBALWR8It's his time to shine.
61DeMarco MurrayDALRB11 
62Reggie BushDETRB9Back on turf in DET.
63Vernon DavisSFTE9Could see snaps at WR.
64Anquan BoldinSFWR9No. 1 option w/o Crabtree.
65Stevie JohnsonBUFWR12Dealing with hamstring issue.
66James JonesGBWR4 
67Ryan MathewsSDRB8 
68Russell WilsonSEAQB12Harvin's injury is huge blow.
69Robert Griffin IIIWASQB5Will he be ready by Week 1?
70Rob GronkowskiNETE10Probably start season on PUP list.
71Eddie LacyGBRB4 
72Chris IvoryNYJRB10 
73Lamar MillerMIARB6 
74Cecil ShortsJACWR9 
75Greg JenningsMINWR5Needs to let his play do the talking.
76Tavon AustinSTLWR11 
77Ben RoethlisbergerPITQB5Knee shouldn't be an issue.
78Andy DaltonCINQB12 
79Joe FlaccoBALQB8 
80Sidney RiceSEAWR12Will his knee hold up?
81Owen DanielsHOUTE8 
82Kyle RudolphMINTE5 
83Le'Veon BellPITRB5Is he the answer for Steelers?
84T.Y. HiltonINDWR8 
85Mike WilliamsTBWR5 
86Vick BallardINDRB8Bradshaw changes outlook.
87Ahmad BradshawINDRB8Who's No. 1 - him or Ballard?
88Greg OlsenCARTE4 
89Antonio GatesSDTE8 
90BenJarvus Green-EllisCINRB12Could see less touches.
91Shane VereenNERB10Versatility could increase role.
92Rashard MendenhallARIRB9Knee tendinitis already an issue.
93Miles AustinDALWR11 
94Lance MooreNOWR7 
95Kenny BrittTENWR8 
96Michael VickPHIQB12How long will he keep job?
97Emmanuel SandersPITWR5 
98Brandon MyersNYGTE9 
99Jared CookSTLTE11Is this his year?
100Jermichael FinleyGBTE4 
101Jay CutlerCHIQB8 
102Philip RiversSDQB8 
103Sam BradfordSTLQB11 
104Chris GivensSTLWR11 
105Josh GordonCLEWR10Will miss first two games.
106Martellus BennettCHITE8 
107Brandon PettigrewDETTE9 
108Andre BrownNYGRB9If Wilson slips, he's ready.
109DeAngelo WilliamsCARRB4Current No. 1 b/c of Stewart injury.
110Giovani BernardCINRB12Could pounce if BJGE falters.
111Mark IngramNORB7 
112Johnathan FranklinGBRB4 
113Daryl RichardsonSTLRB11No. 1 on Rams depth chart.
114Mikel LeshoureDETRB9 
115Bryce BrownPHIRB12 
116Seattle SeahawksSEADST12 
117Denarius MooreOAKWR7 
118Michael FloydARIWR9Ready to break out?
119San Francisco 49ersSFDST9 
120Houston TexansHOUDST8 
121Denver BroncosDENDST9Von Miller's appeal one to watch.
122Kendall WrightTENWR8Could end up No. 1 in TEN.
123DeAndre HopkinsHOUWR8 
124Matt SchaubHOUQB8 
125Josh FreemanTBQB5 
126Carson PalmerARIQB9So far, so good with new team.
127Alex SmithKCQB10No QB controversy in KC.
128Alshon JefferyCHIWR8 
129Golden TateSEAWR12Opportunity arises with Harvin's injury.
130Malcom FloydSDWR8 
131Cincinnati BengalsCINDST12 
132Ryan TannehillMIAQB6Struggled in Hall of Fame game.
133Jake LockerTENQB8Could be make or break year.
134Christian PonderMINQB5Ditto for Ponder.
135Brian HartlineMIAWR6 
136Andre RobertsARIWR9 
137Ryan WilliamsARIRB9Setback with knee has delayed his training camp debut.
138Bernard PierceBALRB8 
139Jonathan StewartCARRB4Not off to good start health-wise.
140Rueben RandleNYGWR9 
141Justin BlackmonJACWR9Out first four games.
142Ed DicksonBALTE8Becomes No. 1 w/ Pitta injury.
143Dustin KellerMIATE6 
144Isaiah PeadSTLRB11Suspended for opening game.
145Jacquizz RodgersATLRB6 
146Ronnie HillmanDENRB9Sits atop depth chart, for now.
147St. Louis RamsSTLDST11 
148Greg LittleCLEWR10 
149Ryan BroylesDETWR9Looking strong in camp so far.
150Vincent BrownSDWR8 
151Santana MossWASWR5 
152Fred DavisWASTE5If healthy, he could have big season.
153Coby FleenerINDTE8Asserting himself in second training camp.
154Chicago BearsCHIDST8 
155Pittsburgh SteelersPITDST5 
156Green Bay PackersGBDST4 
157Baltimore RavensBALDST8 
158Brandon WeedenCLEQB10 
159Geno SmithNYJQB10Already making noise in camp.
160Matt FlynnOAKQB7May be his last chance.
161Brandon LloydFAWR Will veteran find a job?
162Santonio HolmesNYJWR10Foot continues to be an issue.
163Miami DolphinsMIADST6 
164Brandon LaFellCARWR4 
165Andrew HawkinsCINWR12 
166Kevin KolbBUFQB12EJ Manuel is lurking.
167Fred JacksonBUFRB12 
168Ben TateHOURB8 
169Chad HenneJACQB9 
170EJ ManuelBUFQB12Can he unseat Kolb?
171Jacoby JonesBALWR8 
172Jeremy KerleyNYJWR10 
173Jordan CameronCLETE10 
174Dwayne AllenINDTE8 
175Shonn GreeneTENRB8 
176Danny WoodheadSDRB8 
177Michael BushCHIRB8 
178New England PatriotsNEDST10 
179Jermaine GreshamCINTE12 
180Jake BallardNETE10Could emerge as No. 1 TE in NE.
181Stephen GostkowskiNEK10 
182Tyler EifertCINTE12 
183Blair WalshMINK5 
184Robert TurbinSEARB12 
185Joseph RandleDALRB11Strong showing in Hall of Fame game.
186Matt BryantATLK6 
187Rob HouslerARITE9Sleeper candidate at TE.
188Mark SanchezNYJQB10Geno already applying the pressure.
189Pierre ThomasNORB7 
190Mike TolbertCARRB4 
191Darrius Heyward-BeyINDWR8 
192Cordarrelle PattersonMINWR5 
193Justin HunterTENWR8 
194Keenan AllenSDWR8 
195Rod StreaterOAKWR7 
196Kirk CousinsWASQB5Value tied to RGIII's knee.
197Blaine GabbertJACQB9 
198Isaac RedmanPITRB5 
199Marcel ReeceOAKRB7 
200Michael TurnerFARB Will he find a team?
201Phil DawsonSFK9 
202Justin TuckerBALK8 
203New York GiantsNYGDST9 
204Dallas CowboysDALDST11 
205Braylon EdwardsNYJWR10 
206Jarius WrightMINWR5MIN needs a No. 2 WR.
207Stephen HillNYJWR10 
208Zach MillerSEATE12 
209Jacob TammeDENTE9 
210Matt PraterDENK9 
211Randy BullockHOUK8 
212Davone BessCLEWR10 
213Mohamed SanuCINWR12 
214Arizona CardinalsARIDST9 
215Austin PettisSTLWR11Could be a factor for Rams.
216Nate WashingtonTENWR8Don't forget about old vet.
217Justin ForsettJACRB9 
218Brent CelekPHITE12No lack of TEs in PHI.
219Marcedes LewisJACTE9 
220Atlanta FalconsATLDST6 
221Nick FolesPHIQB12His job if Vick struggles.
222Jason AvantPHIWR12Maclin injury opens door.
223Nate BurlesonDETWR9Coming back from broken leg.
224Zach ErtzPHITE12 
225Delanie WalkerTENTE8 
226Cleveland BrownsCLEDST10 
227Tampa Bay BuccaneersTBDST5 
228San Diego ChargersSDDST8 
229Doug BaldwinSEAWR12 
230Donnie AveryKCWR10 
231Terrance WilliamsDALWR11 
232Eddie RoyalSDWR8Moves up b/c of Alexander's injury.
233Josh MorganWASWR5No. 2 WR spot in WAS there for taking.
234Jon BaldwinKCWR10 
235Daniel ThomasMIARB6 
236LaMichael JamesSFRB9Could win KR/PR job.
237Dan BaileyDALK11 
238Josh BrownNYGK9 
239Garrett HartleyNOK7 
240Sebastian JanikowskiOAKK7 
241Greg ZuerleinSTLK11 
242David AkersDETK9 
243Steven HauschkaSEAK12 
244A.J. JenkinsSFWR9Crabtree injury opens door wide.
245Leonard HankersonWASWR5 
246Jonathan DwyerPITRB5 
247Rashad JenningsOAKRB7 
248Dexter McClusterKCWR10 
249T.J. GrahamBUFWR12Open battle for Bills' No. 2 WR.
250Heath MillerPITTE5Most likely will start season on PUP list.

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

Additional Fantasy Football Rankings:

Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends
Defense/Special Teams

<p> Reigning NFL MVP and rushing champion Adrian Peterson tops our fantasy football Big Board</p>
Post date: Monday, August 5, 2013 - 17:00
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2013-running-back-rankings

NFL training camps are in full swing, although injuries have prevented several running backs from taking part in practice. While the top spots on Athlon Sports' Fantasy Football 2013 Running Back Rankings remain largely unchanged, there is certainly one injury situation worth watching.

Houston's Arian Foster has yet to make his training camp debut, as he was first sidelined by a calf injury he sustained during OTAs in March and then a back issue. The team doens't think either issue is that serious or will be factor come Week 1, but considering Foster is behind only Adrian Peterson on our rankings, it goes without saying the sooner he shows up on the practice field the better.

LeSean McCoy, Maurice Jones-Drew and Darren McFadden are just a few of the others who are coming back from significant injuries. Each are capable of putting up huge numbers, but only if they are fully healthy. Getting through training camp unscathed would be a huge step and will only help each player's draft position.

Order your Athlon Sports 2013 Fantasy Football Preview magazine today!

Fantasy Football 2013: Preseason Running Back Rankings
Updated Aug. 5


1Adrian PetersonMIN5
2Arian FosterHOU8
3Marshawn LynchSEA12
4Ray RiceBAL8
5Jamaal CharlesKC10
6Doug MartinTB5
7C.J. SpillerBUF12
8Trent RichardsonCLE10
9LeSean McCoyPHI12
10Alfred MorrisWAS5
11Steven JacksonATL6
12Matt ForteCHI8
13Stevan RidleyNE10
14Chris JohnsonTEN8
15Maurice Jones-DrewJAC9
16Frank GoreSF9
17David WilsonNYG9
18Darren McFaddenOAK7
19Montee BallDEN9
20Darren SprolesNO7
21DeMarco MurrayDAL11
22Reggie BushDET9
23Ryan MathewsSD8
24Eddie LacyGB4
25Chris IvoryNYJ10
26Lamar MillerMIA6
27Le'Veon BellPIT5
28Vick BallardIND8
29Ahmad BradshawIND8
30BenJarvus Green-EllisCIN12
31Shane VereenNE10
32Rashard MendenhallARI9
33Andre BrownNYG9
34DeAngelo WilliamsCAR4
35Giovani BernardCIN12
36Mark IngramNO7
37Johnathan FranklinGB4
38Daryl RichardsonSTL11
39Mikel LeshoureDET9
40Bryce BrownPHI12
41Ryan WilliamsARI9
42Bernard PierceBAL8
43Jonathan StewartCAR4
44Isaiah PeadSTL11
45Jacquizz RodgersATL6
46Ronnie HillmanDEN9
47Fred JacksonBUF12
48Ben TateHOU8
49Shonn GreeneTEN8
50Danny WoodheadSD8
51Michael BushCHI8
52Robert TurbinSEA12
53Joseph RandleDAL11
54Pierre ThomasNO7
55Mike TolbertCAR4
56Isaac RedmanPIT5
57Marcel ReeceOAK7
58Michael TurnerFA 
59Justin ForsettJAC9
60Daniel ThomasMIA6
61LaMichael JamesSF9
62Jonathan DwyerPIT5
63Rashad JenningsOAK7
64Joique BellDET9
65Toby GerhartMIN5
66Bilal PowellNYJ10
67Mike GillisleeMIA6
68Willis McGaheeFA 
69Cedric BensonFA 
70Montario HardestyCLE10
71Knowshon MorenoDEN9
72Shaun DraughnKC10
73DuJuan HarrisGB4
74Felix JonesPHI12
75Ronnie BrownSD8
76Kendall HunterSF9
77LaRod Stephens-HowlingPIT5
78Stepfan TaylorARI9
79Roy HeluWAS5
80Donald BrownIND8
81Andre EllingtonARI9
82Mike JamesTB5
83Kerwynn WilliamsIND8
84Zac StacySTL11
85Dion LewisCLE10
86Christine MichaelSEA12
87Latavius MurrayOAK7
88Knile DavisKC10
89LeGarrette BlountNE10
90Mike GoodsonNYJ10

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

Additional Fantasy Football Rankings:

2013 Big Board (Top 250)
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends
Defense/Special Teams

Fantasy Football 2013: Running Back Rankings
Post date: Monday, August 5, 2013 - 15:00
All taxonomy terms: New York Giants, NFC, NFC East, NFL, News
Path: /nfl/new-york-giants-game-game-predictions-2013

When the New York Giants won the Super Bowl two seasons ago they finished 9-7 during the regular season. Tom Coughlin's team matched that mark last season, but didn't even get the opportunity to defend their title as they missed the playoffs.

A one-point, Week 13 loss at Washington ended up being the deciding factor, as the Giants lost three of their final five games, allowing the Redskins to edge them out for the NFC East title by one win.

There has been some turnover on the roster, with several veterans departing through free agency or getting released outright. The offense is virtually intact with All-Pro wide receiver Victor Cruz signing a long-term contract and 2012 first-round pick David Wilson ready to assume a more prominent role. The defense lost quite a bit of experience, especially along the line, and needs both Jason Pierre-Paul and Justin Tuck to bounce back and be as disruptive as they were two seasons ago. The Giants finished tied for third in the NFL in sacks with 48 in 2011. That number dropped to just 33 (22nd) last season.

With Manning and the weapons he has in place, the Giants should score plenty of points. The key to their season will be how much better will the defense be? This unit had too many breakdowns in coverage last season that led to big plays, a reason why it finished second-to-last in the league in yards allowed (383.4 per game).

What will the Giants' record be at the end of the 2013 regular season? Athlon’s panel of experts debates: 

New York Giants' 2013 Game-by-Game Predictions

1at Dallas
3at Carolina
4at Kansas City
6at Chicago (Thurs.)
7Minnesota (Mon.)
8at Philadelphia
11Green Bay
13at Washington
14at San Diego
16at Detroit
 Final Projection10-610-610-610-611-5
 NFC East3-33-33-34-24-2

Braden Gall (@BradenGall)
The Giants have historically started quickly under Tom Coughlin and, despite potentially losing the first two, should have a winning record heading into the bye week (Week 9). This team is good enough to beat anyone on any week and inconsistent enough to lose to offensively-geared teams like the Panthers, Chiefs, Bears and Eagles on the road. This offense will be explosive but New York will struggle to beat teams with great offenses — like there might be in the NFC East — due to a slow deterioration in the front seven. The Giants are the least inconsistent team in a wildly inconsistent division so the 10 wins should give them an NFC East title, but likely removes all first-round bye conversations.

Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
The NFC East is one of the toughest divisions to peg this preseason. The Giants are my pick to win the East, but it wouldn’t surprise me if all of these teams finish right around the 9-7 or 8-8 mark. The defense ranked 31st in the NFL in yards allowed last year and there weren’t many big-time additions. The Giants need defensive ends Jason Pierre-Paul and Justin Tuck to return to form, which would help not only the pass rush, but a secondary that ranked 28th in the league in 2012. With question marks about the defense, quarterback Eli Manning may need to win a handful of high-scoring games in 2013. Assuming the Giants win the division, they will be a tough out in the playoffs and are capable of putting together another Super Bowl run. However, the defense has to make significant progress for coach Tom Coughlin to hoist the Lombardi Trophy.

Mark Ross
By and large, this is the same Giants team that went 9-7 last season and just missed the playoffs. As long as Eli Manning is upright, this team should be able to stay in the thick of the NFC East race, and in fact, with explosive running back David Wilson ready to take on a larger role, this offense has the potential to be even more dangerous this season. The defense must play better than it did last season, especially when it comes to generating a consistent pass rush and limiting the breakdowns in coverage that led to big plays.

The opening two games won't be easy, but if the Giants start out strong like they have done under Tom Coughlin they should be in a good position by the time the bye week comes around in Week 9. The going gets a little tougher after that, especially in Weeks 11-13, but a strong finish should keep the Giants in playoff contention and give this core at least one more chance at a third Super Bowl title during the Manning/Coughlin era.

Ralph Vacchiano (@RVacchianoNYDN), New York Daily News
The Giants will do what they always do under Tom Coughlin – get off to a hot start. In Coughlin’s nine seasons they’ve started 6-2 six times and they’ve never started worse than 5-3. It’s the second half where things usually get dicey, and this season should be no different. They almost always stumble early in the second half, lose a game at home they shouldn’t, then rally in December. In three of the last four seasons that rally fell short, but this year should be different. If they’re healthy — especially WR Hakeem Nicks and DE Jason Pierre-Paul — they should be in the playoff and division races right until the final week of the season. And with a win in their home finale against the Redskins, they’ll finish 10-6 and get in.

Ed Valentine (@bigblueview), Big Blue View
The Giants still have the core from the 2011 Super Bowl team, and a year after the disappointment of not making the playoffs are determined not to let that happen again. New York has an explosive offense led by Eli Manning and a deep receiving corps. Most of the questions on this team are about defense, where the Giants ranked 31st in the league a season ago. Jason Pierre-Paul's back surgery doesn't help, but the Giants should be better on defense this season. Maybe not dominant, but at least adequate.

Related New York Giants Content

New York Giants 2013 Schedule Analysis
Ranking the NFL's Starting Quarterbacks for 2013
Ranking the NFL's Coaching Jobs for 2013
Top 25 NFL Players on the Hot Seat in 2013
15 NFL Wide Receivers/Tight Ends on the Hot Seat in 2013

New York Giants: Game-by-Game Predictions for 2013
Post date: Monday, August 5, 2013 - 11:00
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy Baseball, Roto, MLB, Fantasy, News
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-baseball-bests-busts-and-waiver-wire-july-29

Baseball is back in full swing as the pennant races heat up and the non-waiver trade deadline comes Wednesday afternoon. Athlon Sports has everything you need to catch up on what took place on the fantasy diamond during the past seven days. Our fantasy junkies bring you last week's top hitters, some starting pitchers who are on a roll, and also identify the waiver wire pick ups and spot starters you need to keep an eye on.

Top 25 fantasy baseball hitters of last week (July 22-28):

1Carlos GomezOFMIL62550.5221.433
2Jay BruceOFCIN93710.3331.082
3Jayson WerthOFWAS73710.3851.198
4Giancarlo StantonOFMIA73600.4781.687
5Wil MyersOFTB53810.4291.407
6Daniel Murphy1B/2BNYM62800.4381.205
7Edwin Encarnacion1B/3BTOR52800.5201.461
8Norichika AokiOFMIL72340.3210.938
9Yasiel PuigOFLAD72420.3931.143
10Torii HunterOFDET73500.4091.281
11Troy TulowitzkiSSCOL63510.3601.120
12Nate Schierholtz*OFCHC43800.4091.480
13Nick Franklin*2B/SSSEA43800.3331.104
14Jose ReyesSSTOR62510.3331.105
15Michael BournOFCLE421000.2920.997
16Devin Mesoraco*CCIN42700.3571.000
17Asdrubal CabreraSSCLE51520.3200.890
18Hanley Ramirez3B/SSLAD61320.3230.880
19Russell Martin*CPIT50230.4711.079
20Bryce HarperOFWAS42600.3601.047
21Victor MartinezC/1BDET41800.3570.936
22Jhonny PeraltaSSDET42700.3100.896
23Adrian Gonzalez1B/OFLAD71600.2860.787
24Pedro Alvarez3BPIT72300.2960.886
25Stephen Drew*SSBOS42610.2350.866

* - less than 70% owned in Yahoo! leagues

Weekly Waiver Wire:

Nick Franklin, 2B/SS, SEA (42% owned in Yahoo! Leagues)
Since getting called up in late May, Franklin has hit 10 home runs. While that may not seem like a lot, consider that among all MI-eligible players, only 16 players have hit more this season, and of that group only two (Ryan Raburn and Hanley Ramirez) have done so in fewer at-bats than Franklin's 195. Franklin, a switch-hitter, connected for three bombs last week alone and if there's one thing that's highly coveted when it comes to a middle infielder, it's power.

Junior Lake, 3B/OF, CHC (32%)
With Alfonso Soriano back in Yankee pinstripes, it appears that the left field job belongs to Lake. The rookie exploded onto the scene with 15 hits in his first seven career games (.484 average). He has gone hitless in his last three, but the tools he has already shown (2 HRs, 1 SB), are tantalizing, especially given the fact he should get plenty of playing time moving forward as the Cubs focus on next season, and he carries 3B eligibility too.

David Lough, OF, KC (3%)
Similar to Lake, Lough is probably an option for deeper and in his case AL-only leagues, but one of the reasons the Royals finally cut ties with Jeff Francoeur is the emergence of Lough. The 27 year-old rookie has made the most of the playing time he has received, hitting .297 with four home runs and 22 RBIs in 202 at-bats. As a lefty, he will probably sit against the majority of southpaws, but he's gotten consistent at-bats over the last several weeks and teammate Lorenzo Cain is dealing with a groin issue right now. Depending on your league, Lough could be a decent short-term option to take a look at.

Nate Schierholtz, OF, CHC (23%)
Soriano and Scott Hairston were the first Cub outfielders to go, and Schierholtz (or David DeJesus) may be the next one traded before Wednesday's deadline. The veteran is quietly putting together a solid season, as he ranks among the top 50 fantasy outfielders despite having less than 300 at-bats (281). A left-handed swinger, Schierholtz has primarily sat against fellow southpaws, but he has done plenty of damage (.289-14-42) against righties. While he may only be a situational player, Schierholtz' production this season is worth roster consideration, whether he gets traded or stays with the Cubs.

Christian Yelich, OF, MIA (22%)
To the surprise of no one, the Marlins have decided to call up some of their top prospects and give them a chance to play in the big leagues. Yelich, the organization's top hitting prospect, was one of the first to be promoted, and through six games the 21-year-old has acquitted himself quite nicely. The 23rd overall pick of the 2010 draft, the left-handed swinger had nearly as many hits (seven) as strikeouts (eight) in his first week of facing major-league pitching. While it's certainly safe to assume his fantasy impact for the rest of this season could be limited, especially considering the lineup support around him, Yelich is definitely a guy to keep on the radar in keeper and dynasty leagues.

Top 20 fantasy Starting Pitchers of last two weeks:

1Justin MastersonCLE14.22160.610.48
2Jered WeaverLAA14.22170.000.75
3Matt HarveyNYM15.01170.000.60
4Max ScherzerDET14.02121.290.36
5Tyson Ross*SD14.02130.640.57
6Clayton KershawLAD15.02171.800.53
7Felix HernandezSEA15.01180.600.67
8Jose FernandezMIA15.02212.400.80
9Scott Kazmir*CLE14.01100.000.57
10Doug FisterDET14.02110.640.79
11Chris Archer*TB16.0270.560.69
12Kyle Lohse*MIL13.02110.690.77
13Chris Tillman*BAL15.02151.200.93
14Randall Delgado*ARI14.2250.000.75
15Jon LesterBOS13.12161.350.98
16C.J. WilsonLAA15.12141.760.85
17Hisashi IwakumaSEA13.02161.381.08
18Juan Nicasio*COL12.01120.750.67
19Yu DarvishTEX12.11150.730.89
20Tony CingraniCIN13.21131.320.73

* - less than 70% owned in Yahoo! leagues

Top 5 Spot Starts for the Week (Mon. - Sun.):

1. Chris Archer, TB (Fri.) vs. San Francisco (60% owned)
I am not sure what else the young right-hander needs to do to get his ownership up to the 70-percent level. He has won his last four decisions, tossing two shutouts and allowing just one earned run over 31 innings. He may have only 17 strikeouts during this span, but he's surrendered even fewer hits (15) and walked only four. Even with Madison Bumgarner scheduled to oppose him, it's not like the Giants' offense is putting up a ton of runs lately. They managed a grand total of three in getting swept by the Cubs at home this past weekend.

2. Ricky Nolasco, LAD (Thurs.) at Chicago (39%)
Nolasco is just 1-1 in his first four starts with the Dodgers, but he's given up just eight earned runs in those 23 innings (3.13 ERA). The Dodgers are one of the hottest teams in all of baseball right now as the offense has come alive, and should be able to continue its production in Wrigley Field against young left-hander Chris Rusin. It may not be the prettiest or cleanest victory, but Nolasco should have a good chance of getting the W, as the Cubs may have a makeshift lineup in place by that point following Wednesday's non-waiver trade deadline.

3. Wei-Yin Chen, BAL (Tues.) vs. Houston (38%)
Since spending two months on the DL with an oblique strain, Chen has posted three straight quality starts. The left-hander has allowed just five earned runs over these starts, and was a tough-luck loser against Kansas City last Wednesday despite allowing just three earned runs (two home runs) in 7 1/3 innings. In three home starts this season, Chen is 2-0 with a 1.86 ERA and a 1.14 WHIP. Chen also is scheduled to start at Camden Yards on Sunday against Seattle.

4. Edwin Jackson, CHC (Wed.) vs. Milwaukee (28%)
After getting off to a rough start (6-10, 5.11 ERA before the All-Star break) with his new team, Jackson has pitched much better lately. The veteran right-hander has put together three straight quality outings in which he has posted a 2.18 ERA and 0.77 WHIP. Next up for him is a Brewers' lineup that is without Ryan Braun (suspended) and Aramis Ramirez (DL) and one that is tied for 26th in the majors in runs scored (187 in 49 G) on the road.

5. Brandon Beachy, ATL (Mon.) vs. Colorado (46%)
Beachy will make his first start in more than a year when he takes the next, and hopefully final, step in his return from Tommy John surgery. The right-hander last pitched for the Braves on June 16, 2012 when he lasted just 3 2/3 innings against Baltimore. Before suffering the elbow injury, Beachy was 5-5 with a sparkling 2.00 ERA and 68 strikeouts in 81 innings. While it may be risky to start someone in their first game back after missing so much time, consider that only two teams (Washington and Miami) have scored fewer runs than Colorado on the road and slugger Carlos Gonzalez has missed the last three games with a finger issue. If all goes well on Monday night, Beachy should get the ball again on Saturday in Philadelphia.

Closing Morsels
The non-waiver trade deadline on Wednesday afternoon could cause several teams' bullpens to take on different shapes. The first two chips to fall were Houston closer Jose Veras and Los Angels Angels' setup man Scott Downs ... Veras was traded by the Astros to the Tigers on Monday for two minor-league players. Veras has been steady this season, posting a 2.93 ERA and saving 19 games for the lowly Astros, and Detroit manager Jim Leyland is hoping the veteran can help stabilize the back end of his bullpen. For now, there's no reason to think that current Tigers closer Joaquin Benoit will lose his job, but it does give Leyland another experienced option to turn to if need be. While Veras' save opportunities figure to diminish, if not disappear altogether, he is now an appealing option for leagues which use holds in their pitching categories ... Downs was traded to Atlanta for minor-league pitcher Cory Rasmus, as the Braves look to shore up their bullpen for the stretch run. Downs (2-3, 1.84 ERA, 18 holds) should team with former Angels teammate Jordan Walden in serving as the bridge between the starter and closer Craig Kimbrel. Downs also gives Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez another closing option should Kimbrel need a break. If anything, Downs' value actually increases slightly with this deal based on the switch in leagues and the fact the Braves have been a better team this year compared to the Angels ... Other relievers that could be changing uniforms this week that bear watching include closer Kevin Gregg and setup man Jeff Russell of the Cubs, the Padres' Luke Gregerson and Joe Thatcher, and depending on what takes place, possibly the likes of closers Joe Nathan, Glen Perkins and Jonathan Papelbon. If any of these three end up getting traded, that will definitely shake a bullpen or two up.
Keep up to date all season long with Athlon Sports' Fantasy Baseball Closer Grid

Fantasy Baseball Bests, Busts and Waiver Wire: July 29
Post date: Monday, July 29, 2013 - 12:30
Path: /nfl/2013-nfc-coordinator-carousel

Similar to the AFC, half of the teams in the NFC made a change at either offensive or defensive coordinator, or both, during the offseason. Three teams — Arizona, Chicago and Philadelphia — hired new head coaches, which meant they brought in new coordinators as well.

Carolina and Seattle also had to find new a offensive and defensive coordinator, respectively, as their previous ones were hired by AFC teams to be their head coaches. The change at defensive coordinator in Dallas and New Orleans was prompted simply by poor performance in 2012.

Related: 2013 AFC Coordinator Carousel

Here is a rundown of the coordinator changes in the NFC:

Here is a rundown of the coordinator changes in the AFC: - See more at:

Arizona Cardinals, Offensive Coordinator
OLD: Mike Miller
NEW: Harold Goodwin

Miller was among the many assistant coaches dismissed when Arizona fired Ken Whisenhunt. Goodwin and new head coach Bruce Arians served on Pittsburgh’s offensive staff from 2007-11 before moving on to Indianapolis, where Goodwin was the Colts’ offensive line coach last season. This will be Goodwin’s first stint as an offensive coordinator (though Arians is expected to call the plays).

Arizona Cardinals, Defensive Coordinator
OLD: Ray Horton
NEW: Todd Bowles

Horton left for Cleveland when he was passed over for the head coaching position following Ken Whisenhunt’s firing in Arizona. Bowles was promoted from Philadelphia’s defensive backs coach to defensive coordinator following Juan Castillo’s dismissal during the Eagles’ bye week last season.

Carolina Panthers, Offensive Coordinator
OLD: Rob Chudzinski
NEW: Mike Shula

With Chudzinski getting the head coaching gig in Cleveland, Shula moves up from quarterbacks coach to offensive coordinator on Ron Rivera’s Panthers staff. The head coach at Alabama from 2003-06, Shula served as Tampa Bay’s offensive coordinator from 1996-99. He’s been Cam Newton’s quarterbacks coach since Newton entered the league.

Chicago Bears, Offensive Coordinator
OLD: Mike Tice
NEW: Aaron Kromer

Kromer had been on Sean Payton’s staff in New Orleans the past five seasons, serving first as running backs coach and then offensive line coach. He also was the Saints’ interim head coach the first six games of last season. Kromer and new Bears head coach Marc Trestman previously worked together on Oakland’s staff from 2001-04.

Chicago Bears, Defensive Coordinator
OLD: Rod Marinelli
NEW: Mel Tucker

Marinelli went to Dallas to join Monte Kiffin’s staff as the Cowboys’ defensive line coach. New Chicago head coach Marc Trestman hired Mel Tucker away from Jacksonville. The Jaguars’ defensive coordinator and then assistant head coach from 2009 until last season, Tucker also served as Cleveland’s defensive coordinator during the ’08 season.

Dallas Cowboys, Defensive Coordinator
OLD: Rob Ryan
NEW: Monte Kiffin

The 73-year-old Kiffin is back in the NFL after being a part of his son Lane’s staff at Tennessee and USC. The long-time Tampa Bay defensive coordinator (1996-2008) will try to turn around a Dallas defense that finished 24th in the league last season in points allowed and forced a total of just 16 turnovers.

Related: It's Playoffs or Bust for the Dallas Cowboys in 2013

New Orleans Saints, Defensive Coordinator
OLD: Steve Spagnuolo
NEW: Rob Ryan

Rex’s twin brother landed in New Orleans following his dismissal in Dallas. This will be Rob’s fourth stint as an NFL defensive coordinator; he served in that capacity at Oakland (2004-08) and Cleveland (2009-10) before running things in Dallas the past two seasons.

Philadelphia Eagles, Offensive Coordinator
OLD: Marty Mornhinweg
NEW: Pat Shurmur

Mornhinweg was let go by the Eagles but landed the same job with the Jets. Shurmur likewise was fired following his 9–23 two-season stint as Cleveland’s head coach and decided to return to Philadelphia to work with first-year head coach Chip Kelly.

Philadelphia Eagles, Defensive Coordinator
OLD: Juan Castillo/Todd Bowles
NEW: Bill Davis

Rookie NFL head coach Chip Kelly tabbed NFL-lifer Davis to run his defense in Philadelphia. Davis has been an NFL assistant coach since 1992 when he got his start in Pittsburgh. The Eagles are the ninth team Davis has worked for, including previous stints as the defensive coordinator for the 49ers (2005-06) and Cardinals (2009-10).

St. Louis Rams, Defensive Coordinator
OLD: Committee
NEW: Tim Walton

After going with a three-headed monster to run the defense last season, Rams head coach Jeff Fisher hired a member of his coaching tree to take over the reins. Walton served as Detroit’s secondary coach the past four seasons, during which time he worked under Jim Schwartz, Fisher’s former defensive coordinator when they both were with the Titans.

Seattle Seahawks, Defensive Coordinator
OLD: Gus Bradley
NEW: Dan Quinn

Bradley parlayed the Seahawks’ recent success into the top job in Jacksonville. Quinn returns to the Seahawks after spending the last two seasons as Florida’s defensive coordinator. Quinn served under Bradley as the Seahawks’ defensive line coach from 2009-10.

Related NFL Content

Top 25 NFL Players on the Hot Seat in 2013
8 NFL Head Coaches on the Hot Seat in 2013
12 NFL Quarterbacks on the Hot Seat in 2013
12 NFL Running Backs on the Hot Seat in 2013
15 NFL Wide Receivers/Tight Ends on the Hot Seat in 2013

2013 NFL Training Camp Dates and Locations
2013 NFL Training Camp: Storylines to Watch
2013 NFL Training Camp: Quarterback Battles to Watch

2013 Athlon Sports NFL team-by-team schedule analysis:

AFC EastAFC NorthAFC SouthAFC West
BuffaloBaltimoreHouston Denver
MiamiCincinnatiIndianapolisKansas City
New EnglandClevelandJacksonvilleOakland
NY JetsPittsburghTennesseeSan Diego
NFC EastNFC NorthNFC SouthNFC West
NY GiantsDetroitCarolinaSt. Louis
PhiladelphiaGreen BayNew OrleansSan Francisco
WashingtonMinnesotaTampa BaySeattle

Click here to order your Athlon Sports Pro Football 2013 Preview magazine

2013 NFC Coordinator Carousel
Post date: Thursday, July 25, 2013 - 12:00
Path: /nfl/2013-afc-coordinator-carousel

More than half of the teams in the AFC will have at least one new coordinator in 2013. Most of the staff changes are the result of the five new head coaches that were hired by Buffalo, Cleveland, Jacksonville, Kansas City and San Diego and filling some vacancies that were created as a result.

There also were those changes that were made due to a lack of performance, such as is the case for the New York Jets, who have a new offensive and denfensive coordinator following last season's 6-10 showing.

Related: 2013 NFC Coordinator Carousel

Here is a rundown of the coordinator changes in the AFC:

Buffalo Bills, Offensive Coordinator
OLD: Curtis Modkins
NEW: Nathaniel Hackett

New Buffalo head coach Doug Marrone brought Hackett, the offensive coordinator his last two seasons at Syracuse, with him to the NFL. Hackett is tasked with trying to jumpstart one of the league’s least-productive passing offenses in 2012.

Buffalo Bills, Defensive Coordinator
OLD: Dave Wannstedt
NEW: Mike Pettine

Pettine stays in the AFC East, coming over after serving as Rex Ryan’s defensive coordinator with the Jets the past four seasons. Pettine has his work cut out for him in Buffalo. The Bills surrendered the second-most points (435) in franchise history last season.

Cleveland Browns, Offensive Coordinator
OLD: Brad Childress
NEW: Norv Turner

Fired after six seasons in San Diego, Turner returns to the role where he first made a name for himself in the NFL. As Dallas’ offensive coordinator from 1991-93, Turner helped produce three top-10 offenses for Cowboy teams that won back-to-back Super Bowls.

Cleveland Browns, Defensive Coordinator
OLD: Dick Jauron
NEW: Ray Horton

After getting passed over for the head job in Arizona, Horton was tabbed by new Cleveland coach Rob Chudzinski to help the Browns’ young defense take the next step.

Denver Broncos, Offensive Coordinator
OLD: Mike McCoy
NEW: Adam Gase

Promoted from QBs coach following Mike McCoy’s departure to San Diego, Gase will try to continue what Peyton Manning & Co. started. Gase has even more weapons at his disposal in wide receiver Wes Welker and rookie running back Montee Ball.

Indianapolis Colts, Offensive Coordinator
OLD: Bruce Arians
NEW: Pep Hamilton

After Bruce Arians left to take over as the head coach in Arizona, Chuck Pagano hired Hamilton, who was Andrew Luck’s quarterbacks coach and Stanford’s offensive coordinator during Luck’s highly successful final season with the Cardinal.

Jacksonville Jaguars, Offensive Coordinator
OLD: Bob Bratkowski
NEW: Jedd Fisch

New Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley is already familiar with Fisch, as the two worked together on Pete Carroll’s staff in Seattle in 2010. Fisch returns to the NFL following a two-year stint as the Miami Hurricanes’ offensive coordinator.

Jacksonville Jaguars, Defensive Coordinator
OLD: Mel Tucker
NEW: Bob Babich

Babich brings three decades of experience to Jacksonville to oversee Gus Bradley’s defense. He had been a part of the Bears coaching staff since 2006, including the past three as linebackers coach, where he worked with Pro Bowlers Lance Briggs and Brian Urlacher.

Kansas City Chiefs, Offensive Coordinator
OLD: Brian Daboll
NEW: Doug Pederson

Pederson was part of Andy Reid’s staff in Philadelphia from 2009-12 and will take his first crack as a coordinator working with Reid in Kansas City. Pederson was the Eagles’ quarterbacks coach when the team set a franchise record for total offense in 2011.

Kansas City Chiefs, Defensive Coordinator
OLD: Romeo Crennel
NEW: Bob Sutton

Sutton spent the past 13 seasons on the Jets’ staff. He served as Eric Mangini’s defensive coordinator in New York from 2006-08 before shifting to LBs coach under Rex Ryan.

New York Jets, Offensive Coordinator
OLD: Tony Sparano
NEW: Marty Mornhinweg

The Eagles’ offensive coordinator the past seven seasons, Mornhinweg landed on his feet following his dismissal in Philadelphia. He’ll work with a Jets offense that scored fewer than 18 points and averaged less than 181 yards passing per game last season.

New York Jets, Defensive Coordinator
OLD: Mike Pettine
NEW: Dennis Thurman

The Jets’ DBs coach the past five seasons, Thurman was promoted to defensive coordinator by Rex Ryan after Pettine left for the same post in Buffalo. Thurman will try to help the Jets’ defense return to its ’09 form, when it led the NFL in points and yards allowed.

Oakland Raiders, Offensive Coordinator
OLD: Greg Knapp
NEW: Greg Olson

Knapp was made the scapegoat for the Raiders’ inability to run the ball. Olson is no stranger to this role, having served as OC for Detroit, St. Louis and Tampa Bay.

San Diego Chargers, Offensive Coordinator
OLD: Hal Hunter
NEW: Ken Whisenhunt

Fired after six seasons as the head coach in Arizona, Whisenhunt joins new San Diego head coach Mike McCoy’s staff in the same role he held with Pittsburgh from 2004-06.

Related NFL Content

Top 25 NFL Players on the Hot Seat in 2013
8 NFL Head Coaches on the Hot Seat in 2013
12 NFL Quarterbacks on the Hot Seat in 2013
12 NFL Running Backs on the Hot Seat in 2013
15 NFL Wide Receivers/Tight Ends on the Hot Seat in 2013

2013 NFL Training Camp Dates and Locations
2013 NFL Training Camp: Storylines to Watch
2013 NFL Training Camp: Quarterback Battles to Watch

2013 Athlon Sports NFL team-by-team schedule analysis:

AFC EastAFC NorthAFC SouthAFC West
BuffaloBaltimoreHouston Denver
MiamiCincinnatiIndianapolisKansas City
New EnglandClevelandJacksonvilleOakland
NY JetsPittsburghTennesseeSan Diego
NFC EastNFC NorthNFC SouthNFC West
NY GiantsDetroitCarolinaSt. Louis
PhiladelphiaGreen BayNew OrleansSan Francisco
WashingtonMinnesotaTampa BaySeattle

Click here to order your Athlon Sports Pro Football 2013 Preview magazine

2013 AFC Coordinator Carousel
Post date: Thursday, July 25, 2013 - 12:00
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy Baseball, Roto, MLB, Fantasy, News
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-baseball-bests-busts-and-waiver-wire-july-22

The All-Star break is over, so it's time for the pennant races, both on the field and in fantasyland to start heating up. With just three games being played this past weekend, Athlon Sports is here to catch you up on who some of the hottest hitters and starting pitchers over the past month have been. Our fantasy junkies also have identified some arms that could be worth picking up to help your team make a second-half charge.

Top 25 fantasy baseball hitters of last 30 days (June 22-July 21):

1Hanley Ramirez3B/SSLAD2282340.4001.225
2Jason Kipnis2BCLE2262450.4021.219
3Miguel Cabrera3BDET19112210.3301.173
4Robinson Cano2BNYY1552520.4101.158
5Alfonso SorianoOFCHC19102120.3001.070
6Raul Ibanez*OFSEA16102000.3371.151
7Chris Davis1B/OFBAL20102500.2390.968
8Matt Carpenter1/2/3/OFSTL2042200.3561.046
9Jacoby EllsburyOFBOS173960.3851.001
10Andrew McCutchenOFPIT1151560.3611.069
11Marlon Byrd*OFNYM1762300.3130.919
12Adrian Beltre3BTEX1581700.3441.038
13Mike TroutOFLAA1441650.3491.059
14Jayson Werth*OFWAS1751610.3731.069
15Allen Craig1B/OFSTL1342010.3981.049
16Chase Utley2BPHI2461120.3010.960
17Desmond JenningsOFTB2121170.3050.863
18Jose BautistaOFTOR1872120.2500.903
19Wil Myers*OFTB1641630.3370.877
20Brian McCannCATL1361800.3731.122
21Torii HunterOFDET1841610.3370.894
22Michael Cuddyer1B/OFCOL1661800.3180.961
23Victor MartinezC/1BDET1631800.3600.963
24Kyle Seager2B/3BSEA2171300.2830.889
25Michael Brantley*OFCLE1531850.2780.770

* - less than 70% owned in Yahoo! leagues

Last week, we used the Weekly Waiver Wire section to focus on those hitters that are less than 70 percent owned in Yahoo! leagues that could benefit your lineup for the stretch run. This week we turn to the mound and identify those starting pitchers who could give your rotation a boost.

Weekly Waiver Wire:

Chris Archer, SP, TB (36% owned in Yahoo! Leagues)
All the 24-year-old has done is string together four straight quality starts, including tossing a five-hit, complete game shutout against the Astros on July 14. Archer has just added to the Rays' embarrassment of riches when it comes to starting pitching, as he helped the team maintain its momentum even after David Price and Alex Cobb both went on the DL. Price is back in the starting rotation and Cobb could return by the middle of August, but even then there's no reason to think Archer won't stick around.

Wei-Yin Chen, SP, BAL (32%)
After spending nearly two months on the DL with an oblique strain, Chen has been very effective in his first two starts. He has allowed just two earned runs over 13 2/3 innings, defeating the Rangers twice. The left-hander won't strike out a ton, but he generally does a good job of limiting the walks and total base runners, and has allowed more than three earned runs just once in 10 total starts so far this season.

Scott Feldman, SP, BAL (39%)
After toiling in relative obscurity with the Cubs to start the season, Feldman was traded to the Orioles in early July. Having started his career with Texas, Feldman is no stranger to pitching in the American League and has managed the return trip back fairly well so far. He's 1-1 with the Orioles with two quality starts, although his former team roughed him up to the tune of seven earned runs in 5 1/3 innings two weeks ago. That's the most runs Feldman has allowed in any start this season and his overall numbers (8-7, 3.86 ERA, 1.15 WHIP) are more than serviceable.

Jeremy Hefner, SP, NYM (23%)
Hefner got tattooed by Philadelphia (10 H, 8 ER in 2 IP) on Friday, but that shouldn't completely erase the solid work he had been doing on the mound. Prior to his last outing, Hefner had put together 10 straight quality starts and gave up three earned runs just once during this stretch. Since June his ERA had been 1.74 until the Phillies hit him hard, and his WHIP (1.22) and strikeout-to-walk ratio (85:28) are both more than respectable. He may not be Matt Harvey or Zack Wheeler, but this young Mets' right-hander shouldn't be ignored.

Kyle Lohse, SP, MIL (58%)
The veteran was horrendous in May (0-4, 6.51 ERA), but has turned things around nicely. He went 2-0 with a 2.34 ERA in June and has already won three games in July. Since June he's given up more than three earned runs in a start just once and he tossed six shutout innings against the Marlins last Friday. He's not a big strikeout guy, but he usually doesn't walk many either, which helps his other stats, such as his WHIP (0.97 since June 1).

Ricky Nolasco, SP, LAD (41%)
Nolasco is going to have his share of rough outings, but the fact that he is now in a Dodgers uniform and no longer with the Marlins alone enhances his fantasy appeal. The Dodgers are one of the hottest teams in all of baseball right now, as the offense has energized this team and finally provided consistent support to its starting pitchers. Nolasco will benefit from this, as well as pitching his home games in Dodger Stadium. He's 1-1 with a respectable 3.11 ERA in three starts with his new team so far.

Chris Tillman, SP, BAL (62%)
Yes Tillman is the third Oriole on this list (along with Chen and Feldman), and to be honest, I like him the best of the trio. His ERA (3.84) may be a little too high for some people's tastes, but he's also 12-3 on the season and has 96 strikeouts in 119 2/3 innings. He should get plenty of support from the Orioles' offense, so as long as he limits the walks (44) and home runs (21 allowed), he should be able to help just about any fantasy rotation.

Jacob Turner, SP, DET (25%)
I was high on Turner before the season started, and was a little surprised when the Marlins sent him down to Triple-A before the end of spring training. Well whatever he worked on in the minors has paid off, as the 22-year-old has returned and looks like he's here to stay. Turner is 3-2 in nine starts with a sparking 2.44 ERA and just three home runs allowed in 59 innings pitched. He's allowed more than three earned runs in a start just once and had four straight no-decisions in June during which he gave up a total of seven earned runs over 25 innings. Run support and wins will be an issue since he pitches for the Marlins, but don't let those shortcomings prevent you from giving this young righty the chance to help out your rotation.

Top 20 fantasy Starting Pitchers of last 30 days:

1Clayton KershawLAD39.04371.850.56
2Matt MooreTB26.24361.351.01
3Chris Archer*TB39.04231.620.95
4Madison BumgarnerSF35.03312.060.83
5C.J. WilsonLAA34.04331.851.06
6Felix HernandezSEA35.03351.541.06
7Matt HarveyNYM33.02422.450.85
8Zack GreinkeLAD42.05362.361.14
9Gio GonzalezWAS33.04321.641.15
10Wily Peralta*MIL34.12281.050.99
11David PriceTB32.03231.970.84
12Jeremy Hellickson*TB31.04302.031.10
13Matt GarzaCHC28.24251.571.15
14Bartolo ColonOAK37.13191.451.02
15Jered WeaverLAA33.03281.641.09
16Adam WainwrightSTL44.23372.621.05
17Patrick CorbinARI35.22352.520.95
18John Lackey*BOS35.13392.801.08
19Derek HollandTEX36.23372.211.20
20Kyle Lohse*MIL35.24223.030.95

* - less than 70% owned in Yahoo! leagues

Keep up to date all season long with Athlon Sports' Fantasy Baseball Closer Grid

Fantasy Baseball Bests, Busts and Waiver Wire: July 22
Post date: Monday, July 22, 2013 - 13:00
Path: /nfl/8-nfl-head-coaches-hot-seat-2013

NFL training camps have begun, which means the battle for roster spots has started anew. Players aren’t the only ones who need to worry about job security, however, as there’s generally no hotter seat in the league than the one belonging to the head coach.

Over the last two seasons, 13 teams have changed coaches, including one team (Jacksonville) twice. Given that sample size, it’s reasonable to assume that one or more current head coaches will join the unemployment line at some point this season. Here is our list of the coaches who really need to win this fall if they want to keep their job.

1. Jason Garrett, Dallas Cowboys
Unless you’re winning Super Bowls, and even then there are few guarantees, “job security” are two words that don’t really seem to be a part of Jerry Jones’ vocabulary. The outspoken owner/general manager of “America’s Team” makes it clear that a successful season comes down to one thing – him holding the Lombardi Trophy at the end.

It has been 17 years since the Cowboys’ last Super Bowl title back in 1995, and what’s worse is that the Cowboys haven’t even been in the playoffs the past three seasons. Garrett, who took over halfway through the 2010 season, is 21-19 as he enters his third full one as the head coach. He has led his team to a 16-16 mark over the past two seasons and Jones has made it clear that won’t cut it this year.

Jones signed quarterback Tony Romo, who is just 1-3 in his career in the playoffs, to a six-year contract extension in March, so he’s not going anywhere anytime soon. Defensive coordinator Rob Ryan was replaced by 73-year-old Monte Kiffin, who is switching the Cowboys’ from a 3-4 to a 4-3 scheme. The past several Cowboys’ drafts have produced very few starters on the current roster.

While all of the aforementioned moves and decisions were made primarily by Jones, he’s not the one who will be held accountable if the Cowboys don’t fare better than 8-8 this season. The buck may stop with Jones, but it’s Garrett whose job is on the line this fall.

Related: It's Playoffs or Bust for the Dallas Cowboys in 2013

Rex Ryan2. Rex Ryan, New York Jets
There have been no recent Super Bowl guarantees from the normally boisterous Ryan, but that’s what happens when your team goes 14-18 over the past two seasons. Since leading the Jets to back-to-back AFC title games in his first two seasons, Ryan’s team has gone the opposite direction and become primarily a punching bag for both the local and national media.

That’s the price you pay for coaching the least successful of the two teams based in the biggest media capital of the world, and especially when you provide them with fodder such as last season’s Mark Sanchez-Tim Tebow quarterback drama.

Tebow is no longer on the Jets’ roster, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t any sort of quarterback controversy. For the second straight training camp, Sanchez and Ryan and the rest of the team will have to endure the barrage of questions about the battle between the incumbent starter and his latest competition, second-round pick Geno Smith.

The bottom line for Ryan is he needs training camp to figure out who his quarterback is going to be, especially with a new offensive coordinator (Marty Mornhinweg) calling the plays. Forget about any Super Bowl or any other sort of guarantees coming from Ryan’s mouth this season. He just needs to focus on getting his team ready to compete and win more than six games in 2013, or he can pretty much guarantee he will be out of a job.

Related: 2013 NFL Training Camp: Quarterback Battles to Watch

3. Jim Schwartz, Detroit Lions
In 2011, Schwartz led the Lions to a 10-6 mark and their first playoff berth since 1999. Outside of that season, however, he’s 12-36, including a discouraging 4-12 record in 2012. Injuries played a large role in last season’s collapse, but so did turnovers (-16 differential, 30th in NFL), the lack of a running game and a defense that gave up more than 27 points per contest.

The Lions made significant changes during the offseason, both in regards to player personnel and on the coaching staff. Defense was the focus of the draft while running back Reggie Bush was the big free-agent addition.

Quarterback Matthew Stafford also recently signed a contract extension, meaning both he and record-setting wide receiver Calvin Johnson are locked up for years to come. Now it’s up to Schwartz to show that 2011 was no fluke if he wants to be a part of the Lions’ future too.

Ron Rivera4. Ron Rivera, Carolina Panthers
Rivera is just 13-19 in his first two seasons with the Panthers, but they did finish 2012 strong by winning their final four games. Quarterback Cam Newton is entering his third season and the Panthers don’t lack for options at running back. The defense showed significant signs of improvement last season, finishing 10th overall in yards allowed, and added to its defensive line depth through the draft.

Put it all together and it appears this team is on the upswing. Being in the same division with expected Super Bowl contender Atlanta and a New Orleans team that gets head coach Sean Payton back makes the playoffs seem perhaps too optimistic for the Panthers this season. However, any significant steps backwards from their 7-9 showing a year ago may result in new general manager Dave Gettleman looking for a new head coach after the season.

5. Dennis Allen, Oakland Raiders
The Raiders went from 8-8 in 2011 to just 4-12 last season, Allen’s first as a head coach on any level. The roster went through significant changes during the offseason, and there’s no disputing that this team is a long ways from playoff contention.

With as many holes as this team appears to have, starting first and foremost with quarterback, one would think the Raiders would give Allen time to mold the roster to his liking and then see what he can do with it. That said, the words coaching and continuity haven’t been used together often when it comes to the Raiders. Since 1995 the only head coach that lasted more than two full seasons in Oakland was Jon Gruden (1998-2001). And everyone remembers what happened after Gruden left the Raiders, right?

It’s only fitting that Gruden won his only Super Bowl title the very season after he left Oakland. Gruden was traded to Tampa Bay following the 2001 season, then promptly led the Buccaneers to victory over the Raiders in Super Bowl XXXVII. Given the current state of the Raiders,

Mike Munchak6. Mike Munchak, Tennessee Titans
After leading the Titans to a 9-7 record and just missing the playoffs in 2011, Munchak’s team slipped to 6-10 last season. The Titans were active in free agency and also used the draft to shore up the offensive line and add depth to its defense. The team’s success in 2013, however, will likely come down to the quality of quarterback play they get from 2011 first-round pick Jake Locker. Locker is entering his second full season as the Titans’ starter and he needs to show them he can get the job done on a consistent basis.

Munchak is a Hall of Fame offensive lineman who has been with the Oilers/Titans franchise since he was the eighth overall pick of the 1982 NFL Draft. Owner Bud Adams has seen Munchak grow from a first-round pick into an NFL coach and clearly thinks highly of Munchak since he was the one he hand-picked to replace Jeff Fisher, the franchise’s all-time winningest head coach.

Adams also is 90 years old and hasn’t seen his team make the playoffs since the 2008 season. This man wants to win a Super Bowl and knows he doesn’t have many years left to fulfill that goal. This sense of urgency and borderline desperation may be just enough to trump loyalty and sentimentality, especially if Munchak’s team doesn’t win more than six games this fall.

Related: 12 NFL Quarterbacks on the Hot Seat in 2013

7. Leslie Frazier, Minnesota Vikings
Frazier’s team rebounded from a disheartening 3-13 campaign in 2011 to a 10-6 season and playoff berth in ’12. Running back Adrian Peterson’s historic 2,000-yard campaign had a lot to do with the team’s success, but several other young players emerged and provided contributions last season too.

Following the season, the Vikings exercised the fourth-year option on Frazier’s contract, which means he his now signed through the 2014 season. The team made some moves during free agency and added more young talent, especially on defense, through the draft, but it also lost some key members of last season’s roster. Expectations have changed now in Minnesota, so Frazier cannot afford to just sit back and rest on last season’s success, especially given his contract situation.

8. Marvin Lewis, Cincinnati Bengals
The Bengals are coming off of back-to-back Wild Card appearances, marking the first time the team has played in consecutive postseasons since 1981-82. So why is Lewis, who is entering his 11th season as the head coach, on the hot seat?

Considering Lewis’ recent success (winning nine or more games in three of the last four seasons) and the fact he is signed for two more seasons, he may have noting to worry about. On the other hand, the Bengals weren’t able to win either of their Wild Card matchups these past two seasons.

With a solid quarterback in Andy Dalton, an All-Pro weapon in A.J. Green and a defense that ranked sixth in the NFL in 2012 all in place, Lewis knows that the expectation level for his team has been raised. Simply making the playoffs, which was a pipe dream during “The Bungles” years, is no longer the goal for this breed of Bengals.

Related NFL Content

12 NFL Quarterbacks on the Hot Seat in 2013
12 NFL Running Backs on the Hot Seat in 2013
15 NFL Wide Receivers/Tight Ends on the Hot Seat in 2013

2013 NFL Training Camp Dates and Locations
2013 NFL Training Camp: Storylines to Watch
2013 NFL Training Camp: Quarterback Battles to Watch

2013 Athlon Sports NFL team-by-team schedule analysis:

AFC EastAFC NorthAFC SouthAFC West
BuffaloBaltimoreHouston Denver
MiamiCincinnatiIndianapolisKansas City
New EnglandClevelandJacksonvilleOakland
NY JetsPittsburghTennesseeSan Diego
NFC EastNFC NorthNFC SouthNFC West
NY GiantsDetroitCarolinaSt. Louis
PhiladelphiaGreen BayNew OrleansSan Francisco
WashingtonMinnesotaTampa BaySeattle

Click here to order your Athlon Sports Pro Football 2013 Preview magazine

8 NFL Head Coaches on the Hot Seat in 2013
Post date: Monday, July 22, 2013 - 10:30
Path: /nfl/2013-nfl-training-camp-storylines-watch

By this time next week, training camps for all 32 NFL teams will have begun. Here are some things worth keeping an eye on with the start to the 2013 regular season less than two months away.

Quarterback Battles
Tim Tebow may no longer be with the Jets, but that doesn’t mean the quarterback controversy left town with him. For the second straight season Mark Sanchez enters training camp as the starter, but with very little job security. This time around, second-round pick Geno Smith is Sanchez’ primary competition. At least he will be as soon as he signs his rookie contract.

Even though Smith is not the media magnet that Tebow is, the former West Virginia star doesn’t figure to just quietly concede the starting job to Sanchez either, not after what transpired during the draft.

Sanchez isn’t the only quarterback who needs to get off to a good start in camp. Veterans Michael Vick and Kevin Kolb will face pressure from younger teammates in Eagles’ and Bills’ camp respectively, while Blaine Gabbert, Brandon Weeden and Jake Locker also find themselves squarely on the quarterback hot seat.

Related: 2013 NFL Training Camp: Quarterback Battles to Watch

Coaching Changes
Eight teams, which equates to a quarter of the NFL, will be under the direction of new coaches this season. Of these eight, all but one are rookie head coaches in the NFL. The only recycled coach, if you will, is Andy Reid, who takes over the Chiefs after 14 seasons in Philadelphia.

Speaking of Philadelphia, no rookie head coach will be under more scrutiny this season than Chip Kelly, who is the latest college superstar coach to make the jump to the pros. Kelly’s offenses at Oregon put up ridiculous numbers. Can his system do the same in the NFL?

Kelly is not the only college coach who has graduated to the pro ranks. Former Syracuse head coach Doug Marrone is the next up to try and end Buffalo’s 13-year playoff drought. Chicago’s Marc Trestman also will be adjusting to a new league, as the CFL coach get his first shot in the NFL with the Bears. Trestman led the Montreal Alouettes to two Grey Cup titles in five seasons, can he find similar success in Chicago? He does have nearly 20 years worth of coaching experience in the NFL, but his last stint came in 2004.

The rest of the rookie class of head coaches consists of Arizona’s Bruce Arians, Cleveland’s Rob Chudzinski, Jacksonville’s Gus Bradley and San Diego’s Mike McCoy. Arians got some head coaching experience last season when he served as the Colts’ interim head coach during Chuck Pagano’s absence while he was battling cancer. Arians, Chudzinski and McCoy also all served as offensive coordinators for their respective teams last season while Bradley is the only new head coach of the entire bunch who comes from a defensive background. Bradley served as Seattle’s defensive coordinator the past four seasons.

And then there’s New Orleans’ Sean Payton, who’s not “new” by any stretch, but is returning after serving his one-year suspension for his part in the Saints’ BountyGate scandal. After winning 11 or more games in each of the previous three seasons, including a Super Bowl title in 2009, the Saints slipped to 7-9 in 2012.

While the offense was its usual explosive self, the defense allowed an NFL-record 7,042 yards. Payton may have made his reputation as an offensive mastermind, but there’s no arguing that the entire Saints franchise missed him being at the team facility, on the practice field, in the locker room and especially on the sideline last season.

There are several superstar players who are returning from offseason surgery and/or serious injury, including Rob Gronkowski, Ben Roethlisberger, Darrelle Revis and Brian Cushing, just to name a few. However, no body part will draw more attention during training camp than the right knee that belongs to Robert Griffin III.

Griffin tore the ACL and LCL in his right knee in the fourth quarter of the Redskins’ NFC Wild Card loss to the Seahawks in January. It was the second such significant injury to that knee for Griffin, who first tore his ACL early in his sophomore year at Baylor. Of course, everyone knows that Griffin was able to come back from that injury, as he won the Heisman in 2011 prior to being the second overall pick of the ‘12 draft.

While no one is doubting Griffin’s toughness and resolve, there are plenty of questions surrounding his eventual return. Will he be ready to go in Week 1 or will Kirk Cousins be under center for the Monday night season opener at home against Philadelphia?

Reports are Griffin is progressing nicely in his rehabilitation, but the team can’t afford to risk bringing him back too soon. He is the face and future of the franchise, so there’s no reason to rush him and clear him for practice, let alone games, until there is no doubt he is 100 percent healthy.

The End of New England’s Reign?
No team has had a worse offseason than Bill Belichick’s Patriots, and a strong case for this could be made without including Aaron Hernandez’ current legal issues. It started during free agency, which saw Wes Welker, Danny Woodhead and Patrick Chung sign with other teams. The Patriots did some work of their own in free agency, including adding wide receiver Danny Amendola, but the rest of the acquisitions didn’t help the roster get any younger.

Then in April, the Patriots’ draft featured some curious choices, including trading their first-round pick, as an emphasis was placed on the defensive side of the ball. It remains to be seen how many of these picks, if any, will have an impact in 2013, but the early reviews after the draft were not overly optimistic in that regard.

The next blow came in June when All-Pro tight end Rob Gronkowski underwent back surgery. This marked the fifth medical procedure for Gronkowski in a span of six months, as he had already gone through four different surgeries related to the broken forearm he sustained in Week 11 last season and then subsequently reinjured in the playoffs.

Gronkowski is making progress in his recovery, but it’s entirely too soon to consider him a lock to be on the field by Week 1. Hernandez’ recent arrest after being charged with murder and other crimes gave the Patriots no other choice but to release the troubled tight end, putting even more importance on Gronkowski’s return.

Besides losing Welker and Woodhead in free agency, the Patriots also released wide receiver Brandon Lloyd in March. With Hernandez no longer on the roster and Gronkowski’s status up in the air, Tom Brady enters training camp with a host of unknown, and for the most part, unproven pass-catchers.

On the other side of the ball, New England finished last in the AFC in pass defense in 2012 and were just 13th in the conference in total yards allowed. Personnel changes on this unit were made, but they consist of “unknown” draft picks and the signing of a pair of 10-year veterans in defensive tackle Tommy Kelly and safety Adrian Wilson.

In short, the Patriots lost a lot of production and continuity on offense and it’s entirely up for debate how much better on defense they will be this season. Brady turns 36 in a couple of weeks and while he should be able to lead this team to a fifth straight AFC East title, it’s looking more and more that the Patriots’ championship window may be closing.

Baltimore’s Post-Super Bowl Makeover
The Ravens and their fans have understandably spent the offseason basking in the glow of their unexpected, emotional Super Bowl run. And for good reason, since not only is it hard enough to win one Lombardi Trophy, let alone two in a row; but for the fact that this year’s team will have a lot of new faces on it.

How many you ask? How about six on defense and three on offense from the starting lineup that beat San Francisco in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in February?

Ray Lewis, the future Hall of Fame linebacker who was the heart and soul of this team his entire career, is retired as is center Matt Birk, while linebacker Dannell Ellerbe and defensive backs Bernard Pollard, Ed Reed and Cary Williams all left via free agency. Veteran wide receiver Anquan Boldin was traded to the 49ers and fullback Vonta Leach and defensive tackle Ma'ake Kemoeatu are currently free agents.

The Ravens used free agency and the draft to fill most of these holes, bringing in the likes of linebacker Elvis Dumervil and Arthur Brown and safeties Michael Huff and Matt Elam, among others. However, there is nothing the team can do to replace the expeience and continuity that is now gone from their roster.

Quarterback and Super Bowl XLVII MVP Joe Flacco is signed long-term and several other key parts of last season’s roster remain, but it will be interesting to see how quickly the old will gel with the new as the Ravens prepare for life on the field as defending champions.

2013 Athlon Sports NFL team-by-team schedule analysis:

AFC EastAFC NorthAFC SouthAFC West
BuffaloBaltimoreHouston Denver
MiamiCincinnatiIndianapolisKansas City
New EnglandClevelandJacksonvilleOakland
NY JetsPittsburghTennesseeSan Diego
NFC EastNFC NorthNFC SouthNFC West
NY GiantsDetroitCarolinaSt. Louis
PhiladelphiaGreen BayNew OrleansSan Francisco
WashingtonMinnesotaTampa BaySeattle

Click here to order your Athlon Sports Pro Football 2013 Preview magazine

2013 NFL Training Camp: Storylines to Watch
Post date: Friday, July 19, 2013 - 13:00
Path: /nfl/2013-nfl-training-camp-quarterback-battles-watch

The start of NFL training camps is upon us, which means the NFL is back in business. One of the main orders of business when it comes to training camp is figuring out who will make the opening day roster. And to that end, there is no position in the NFL that garners more attention than quarterback.

While the vast majority of teams are set when it comes to quarterback, there are still a few starting jobs that appear to be unsettled. Most of these situations are the result of either a coaching change or because a quarterback was drafted in April, or a combination of the two.

The quarterback battles that figure to draw the most attention during training camp and once preseason games begin are those that will be waged in the Jets’, Eagles’ and Bills’ camps. Other situations that are worth keeping an eye on are the Jaguars, Browns and Raiders. Of course the common thread with these six teams is simple — they went a combined 27-69 in 2012.

Haven’t We Seen This Script Before?
Mark SanchezStop me if you’ve heard this already — the New York Jets are embroiled in a quarterback controversy. The co-star of this drama may have changed, but the screenplay remains the same.

For the second straight season, the Jets are saying that Mark Sanchez is the starter, while their actions have done nothing but raise questions regarding his job security. Last season it was Tim Tebow, but with the media magnet now battling for a roster spot on the Patriots, his role has been recast and given to Geno Smith.

It’s only fitting that Smith, who many believed was not only the top quarterback prospect entering the 2013 NFL Draft, but also had a shot at being the No. 1 overall pick, ended up with the Jets after tumbling down draft boards and out of the first round altogether. The Jets decided to be the one to pull the trigger on the former West Virginia star, taking him with the seventh pick of the second round, 39th overall.

So while Smith probably won’t draw near the amount of media attention that Tebow did, his mere presence will be a distraction for Sanchez, the coaching staff and the team, especially if it’s perceived he is out-performing the presumed starter during camp.

Not that this story needs any more subplots, but there’s also additional factors at play here, such as Sanchez having to learn and adapt to new offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg’s system, the lack of established pass-catchers on the Jets’ roster, and oh yeah, the fact that Rex Ryan may be coaching for his job this season. Other than that, there’s absolutely nothing to see here.

Prediction: Sanchez figures to have the upper hand on Smith, especially considering the rookie has yet to sign his contract. That said, no one is expecting Smith to simply concede the starting job to Sanchez, not after what he had to endure during the draft. The bottom line for Ryan is he needs to win as many games as possible if he wants to keep his job. For Week 1 Ryan’s best bet figures to be Sanchez, but after that it’s anyone’s guess, especially should Sanchez struggle like he did last season.

Out With the Old, In With the New In Philadelphia?
The Eagles have a new coach in Chip Kelly and everyone can’t wait to see what the former Oregon offensive mastermind has planned for the NFL. But one of the main keys to whether Kelly’s offense will be successful or not is who is pulling the trigger.

Michael Vick is the incumbent starter for the Eagles, but he’s also 33 years old and is signed for one year. Vick’s skill set appears to be a good fit for the type of offense Kelly ran at Oregon, but injuries and turnovers are two major red flags when it comes to the former No. 1 overall pick. He played in just 10 games last season and committed 21 turnovers when he was on the field. It’s pretty clear that Vick is not the long-term solution for the Eagles’ quarterback situation.

But does that mean Nick Foles is? Foles went 1-5 in relief of Vick last season, but he also completed better than 60 percent of his passes and finished with more touchdowns (six) than interceptions (five). The problem with Foles is that he isn’t the most mobile of quarterbacks, which appears to make him a poor fit for Kelly’s preferred read-option offense.

Then there’s Matt Barkley, the former USC quarterback whom the Eagles traded up to select in the fourth round of this year’s draft. At one point Barkley was considered not only a potential Heisman Trophy winner, but No. 1 overall pick material, but neither goal was realized following a disappointing senior season. If anyone knows what Barkley is capable of, it would be Kelly because of the Pac-12 ties they share.

Kelly doesn’t lack for options, but the decision he has to make is does he go with the guy who gives him the best chance to win this season or the one who can help him win down the road?

Prediction: If Kelly is serious about finding out if his offense can succeed in the NFL or not, then Vick needs to be his quarterback. Despite his age, the wear and tear on his body, and his turnover-prone nature, Vick has the mobility and athleticism Kelly desires from his quarterbacks. Vick’s hold on the starting job will either come down to staying healthy or if the Eagles remain in the playoff chase throughout the season. In either instance, I think Foles gets the first shot with Barkley only seeing the field really late in the season or due to Foles getting hurt too.

The Future is Now in Buffalo?
EJ ManuelBuffalo surprised many when the Bills reached into the collegiate ranks and hired former Syracuse head coach Doug Marrone. Turns out the team was just getting started with its eye-opening moves.

After Ryan Fitzpatrick signed with Tennessee as a free agent, the Bills agreed to terms with former Arizona starter Kevin Kolb on a two-year deal. Then the team made EJ Manuel the first quarterback taken in the draft when the Bills took the former Florida State star with the 16th pick overall.

Whether the team took Manuel too high is certainly up for debate, but it’s also immaterial at this point. If Manuel is the future, the only question that remains is when will that future be?

Kolb’s track record as a starter in the NFL certainly leaves a lot to be desired. He’s just 9-12 in four seasons and has yet to start more than nine games in a season. His two years in Arizona can best be described as forgettable, as injuries limited him to 14 starts and he managed just 17 touchdown passes.

Manuel went 25-6 as the Seminoles’ starter and everyone raves about his athletic ability. The jury is still out on if he’s ready to step in right away, and if that’s the case, then Kolb probably gives the Bills the best chance to win in 2013. On the other hand, three rookie quarterbacks led their teams to the playoffs in 2012, and the Bills do have some pieces already in place in running back C.J. Spiller and wide receiver Stevie Johnson. What’s a rookie NFL head coach to do?

Prediction: Manuel is the future and I think he will get on the field at some point this season. However, unless Kolb gets hurt (which is certainly probable) or the Bills’ brain trust just decides to start the rebuilding process in earnest, I think it’s the veteran’s team as far as 2013 is concerned.

Gabbert’s Last Stand in Jacksonville
Blaine Gabbert, the No. 10 overall pick of the 2011 draft, is entering his third season in the NFL and also is on his third (technically fourth) head coach. The lack of coaching stability alone is enough to justify his awful 5-19 showing as a starter, but the reality is the NFL doesn’t work that way.

The good news for Gabbert is that a new head coach (former Seattle defensive coordinator Gus Bradley) offers him yet another opportunity to impress a new staff. The bad news is that this is probably his last chance, and the Jaguars still have plenty of other questions on offense.

The selection of Texas A&M left tackle Luke Joeckel with the second overall pick and the return of All-Pro running back Maurice Jones-Drew are good starts, but they alone can’t be the cure-all for the NFL’s 30th-ranked offense. Gabbert himself could be part of the solution, but that’s only if he can improve upon his career 53.8 percent completion rate and 21:18 touchdown-to-interception ratio.

If Gabbert struggles out of the gate, Bradley probably won’t hesitate to turn the offense over to Chad Henne. The sixth-year pro and former Dolphins’ starter won just one game after Gabbert was lost for the season with an elbow injury in Week 11, but Henne out-performed Gabbert (11 TD passes compared to 9) in fewer starts (6 vs. 10).

Even though the main battle should come down to Gabbert and Henne, don’t be surprised if the other quarterbacks on the roster — veteran Mike Kafka and undrafted free agents Jordan Rodgers and Matt Scott — all get their chance to stake their claim to the job. That’s what happens when a team enters training camp with a new head coach for a third straight season.

Prediction: In his defense, Gabbert hasn’t gotten many breaks to go his way. It seems only fair for Bradley to give the former first-round pick one more shot to show what he can do. But life in the NFL is anything but fair and Gabbert is going to have to prove early that he’s the quarterback that puts the Jaguars in the best position to compete on a weekly basis. The optimist in me says Gabbert earns the starting job with a strong showing in camp, but the realist in me says he won’t finish in that role by season’s end. Whatever happens this season, I think it’s almost a forgone conclusion that Jacksonville will have a new starting quarterback in 2014.

Make or Break Season for Weeden in Cleveland
Brandon WeedenThe Browns went through a complete front office makeover this offseason, meaning not only is there a new head coach (former Carolina offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski), but also a new CEO and general manager as well. With new decision-makers now in place the next step in the rebuilding process is to use this season to assess the roster.

Cornerstones like running back Trent Richardson and left tackle Joe Thomas aren’t going anywhere, but the same can’t be said for quarterback Brandon Weeden. The Browns’ first-round pick (No. 22 overall) last April, Weeden beat out incumbent Colt McCoy for the starting job in 2012.

Weeden had his share of moments as a rookie, but he also struggled on more than one occasion. He finished with more interceptions (17) than touchdowns (14) and never seemed to fully adjust to former head coach Pat Shurmur’s West Coast system.

He will have a chance at a fresh start running new offensive coordinator Norv Turner’s system, which reportedly will put Weeden in the shotgun more, a position he is accustomed to going back to his days at Oklahoma State. Weeden also is different from the rest of his 2012 draft class in that he’s older, so his age (will turn 30 in October) is another factor to consider here. In other words, it’s pretty much now or never for Weeden if he wants to be the Browns’ quarterback of the future.

The Browns traded McCoy to San Francisco in the offseason and signed Jason Campbell as his replacement. Campbell has started 71 games for four different teams, including one for Chicago last season, in his seven-year career, while Weeden has a total of 15 starts under his belt. Thaddeus Lewis is also on the roster and he, not Weeden, was the Browns’ starting quarterback in Week 17 last season.

Prediction: Chudzinski, the coaching staff and the Browns’ front office need to find out if Weeden is the long-term answer or not. Unless he fails to grasp Turner’s scheme, Weeden will be Cleveland’s starter in Week 1. Whether he keeps that job throughout the season remains to be seen, but should Weeden get replaced for some reason other than injury, then expect to see a new face at the position for the Browns in 2014.

It’s All About the Future in Oakland
As of right now, Matt Flynn is the starter in Oakland. That doesn’t mean that something can’t change between now and Week 1, especially considering Flynn is with his third team is as many seasons and his next start will be just the third of his career.

Flynn started in Green Bay, where he backed up Aaron Rodgers for four seasons (2008-11). He started just two games during this time, but he made that last one count. Subbing for Rodgers in the 2011 regular-season finale, Flynn set franchise records by throwing for 480 yards and six touchdowns against the Lions.

That game alone was largely responsible for netting Flynn a three-year free agent deal with Seattle, but he suffered an elbow injury early in the preseason and ended up losing his job to third-round draft pick Russell Wilson. With Wilson firmly entrenched as the Seahawks’ franchise quarterback, Flynn was traded to Oakland for two draft picks (fifth-rounder in 2014 and conditional one in ’15) in April.

The assumption is that Flynn will replace the departed Carson Palmer, who was traded to Arizona, but he will still probably have to beat out backup Terrelle Pryor, fourth-round pick Tyler Wilson and undrafted free agent Matthew McGloin in training camp.

This could very well be Flynn’s last chance to be a full-time starter in the NFL, as the Raiders will probably struggle to win games once again this fall and will end up with yet another top-five pick for the 2014 draft. Even if Flynn impresses, he’s already 28 and unless Pryor or Wilson or McGloin emerge, chances are the Raiders will probably strongly consider finding their next franchise quarterback in the 2014 draft. There figure to be no lack of options next April with players like Tajh Boyd, Teddy Bridgewater, Johnny Manziel and Braxton Miller among those who could be available.

Prediction: It’s Flynn’s job to lose, which very well could happen, but that matters little. Barring something unforeseen happening, such as Tyler Wilson or McGloin becoming the next Russell Wilson, Oakland will be active in the quarterback market next offseason, whether that be through the draft and/or free agency.

Other Teams to Watch

Arizona — Quarterback was a disaster for the Cardinals last season, as in 11 combined touchdowns and 21 interceptions from four different starters. The team acquired Carson Palmer from Oakland during the offseason and are hoping the 33-year-old veteran can do what Kurt Warner did when he resuscitated his career back in 2005. It’s clearly Palmer’s job, but Arizona also added Drew Stanton to compete with Ryan Lindley, the lone holdover from last season, for the backup job. Even if Palmer pans out, don’t be surprised if the Cardinals add another new face or two to this depth chart during the next offseason.

Tampa Bay — Josh Freeman is the starter in Tampa Bay until further notice, but he’s also entering the final year of his rookie contract. The 25-year-old has shown plenty of promise, as he threw for a career-high 4,065 yards last season, but he’s also thrown 63 interceptions in 57 career games. The Buccaneers drafted NC State’ Mike Glennon in the third round, so Freeman needs to show the team he is the long-term answer at the position or he may be playing somewhere else in 2014.

Tennessee — It’s Jake Locker’s show, but the third-year signal-caller also needs to show significant improvement as a passer and overall this season or else the Titans may move on. Locker’s dual-threat ability is certainly intriguing, but he completed just 56 percent of his passes and threw 10 touchdowns and 11 interceptions in 11 games. He missed five game because of injury, which is another concern since missed time only hinders his development. Backup and mentor Matt Hasselbeck is now in Indianapolis, but the Titans made a wise move in signing former Buffalo starter Ryan Fitzpatrick to take his place on the roster. Titans head coach Mike Munchak is going to give Locker every opportunity to succeed and seize the starting job by the throat, it’s now up to Locker to live up to his first-round billing.

2013 Athlon Sports NFL team-by-team schedule analysis:

AFC EastAFC NorthAFC SouthAFC West
BuffaloBaltimoreHouston Denver
MiamiCincinnatiIndianapolisKansas City
New EnglandClevelandJacksonvilleOakland
NY JetsPittsburghTennesseeSan Diego
NFC EastNFC NorthNFC SouthNFC West
NY GiantsDetroitCarolinaSt. Louis
PhiladelphiaGreen BayNew OrleansSan Francisco
WashingtonMinnesotaTampa BaySeattle

Click here to order your Athlon Sports Pro Football 2013 Preview magazine

2013 NFL Training Camp: Quarterback Battles to Watch
Post date: Wednesday, July 17, 2013 - 11:45
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2013-idp-rankings

NFL training camps open up this week, meaning we are that much closer to the start of the regular season and fantasy football. While kickoff may still be nearly a month away, it's never too early to start preparing for your draft.

While fantasy football is more associated with offensive skill players, quite a few leagues out there also use the ones on the other side of the ball in their lineups. Individual Defensive Players (IDPs) can be just as valuable to your team, especially if you are fortunate enough to draft someone like J.J. Watt.

The reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year was a fantasy monster last year, as he outscored the No. 2 defensive lineman (Cameron Wake) by more than 60 points and was the No. 1 IDP in all of fantasy football. Watt will be hard-pressed to repeat some of his numbers from 2012, such as his 16 passes defended, but as long as he stays healthy, he should be more than capable of justifying using a high draft pick on.

Fellow DLs Jason Pierre-Paul, DeMarcus Ware and Wake are next on our rankings, as they, like Watt, have a knack for getting to the quarterback and making the big play.

Typically the best bang for your buck when it comes to IDPs is at linebacker, as this is the position that usually racks up the tackles. Options like Luke Kuechly, San Francisco's All-Pro tandem of Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman, and James Laurinaitis, Lavonte David and Von Miller headline this group. Not to be left out are the defensive backs, who are capable of racking up quite a few fantasy points themselves, especially when they are able to convert an interception or a fumble recovery into a touchdown.

Chicago's Chris Tillman put on a clinic in this respect last season, turning three interceptions and two fumble recoveries into three scores while forcing a total of 10 fumbles by himself. The veteran Tillman will be another popular draft pick this year, along with younger options like Morgan Burnett, Mark Barron, Eric Berry, Harrison Smith and Richard Sherman.

Order your Athlon Sports 2013 Fantasy Football Preview magazine today!

Fantasy Football 2013: Individual Defensive Players (IDP) Rankings

1J.J. WattHOUDL8
2Jason Pierre-PaulNYGDL9
3DeMarcus WareDALDL11
4Cameron WakeMIADL6
5Luke KuechlyCARLB4
6Jared AllenMINDL5
7Patrick WillisSFLB9
8Mario WilliamsBUFDL12
9Elvis DumervilBALDL8
10James LaurinaitisSTLLB11
11Derrick JohnsonKCLB10
12Calais CampbellARIDL9
13Morgan BurnettGBDB4
14Mark BarronTBDB5
15Charles JohnsonCARDL4
16Geno AtkinsCINDL12
17NaVorro BowmanSFLB9
18Lavonte DavidTBLB5
19Osi UmenyioraATLDL6
20Von MillerDENLB9
21Julius PeppersCHIDL8
22Eric BerryKCDB10
23Paul PoslusznyJACLB9
24Eric WeddleSDDB8
25Jerod MayoNELB10
26Robert QuinnSTLDL11
27Corey LiugetSDDL8
28Harrison SmithMINDB5
29Richard ShermanSEADB12
30Cliff AvrilSEADL12
31Chandler JonesNEDL10
32Derrick MorganTENDL8
33Carlos DunlapCINDL12
34Sean WeatherspoonATLLB6
35D’Qwell JacksonCLELB10
36Cameron JordanNODL7
37Greg HardyCARDL4
38Bobby WagnerSEALB12
39Chad GreenwayMINLB5
40Charles TillmanCHIDB8
41Tyvon BranchOAKDB7
42Cortland FinneganSTLDB11
43Daryl WashingtonARILB9
44London FletcherWASLB5
45Aldon SmithSFLB9
46Haloti NgataBALDL8
47Anthony SpencerDALDL11
48Wesley WoodyardDENLB9
49Rob NinkovichNEDL10
50Arthur BrownBALLB8
51LaRon LandryINDDB8
52Antoine BetheaINDDB8
53Lawrence TimmonsPITLB5
54Bernard PollardTENDB8
55Janoris JenkinsSTLDB11
56Brian RobisonMINDL5
57Chris LongSTLDL11
58Patrick PetersonARIDB9
59Zach BrownTENLB8
60Brian CushingHOULB8
61Curtis LoftonNOLB7
62Lamarr HoustonOAKDL7
63Sean LeeDALLB11
64Terrell SuggsBALLB8
65Ziggy AnsahDETDL9
66Bruce IrvinSEADL12
67Reshad JonesMIADB6
68Eric ReidSFDB9
69Justin TuckNYGDL9
70Dawan LandryNYJDB10
71Devin McCourtyNEDB10
72Donald ButlerSDLB8
73Manti Te'oSDLB8
74Lance BriggsCHILB8
75Vontaze BurfictCINLB12

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

Solo tackle = 1 pt
Tackle assist = 0.5 pts
Sack = 3.5 pts
Interception = 3.5 pts
Forced fumble/recovery = 2 pts
Defensive TD = 8 pts
Safety = 2 pts
Pass Defended = 0.5 pts
Blocked Kick = 4 pts

Additional Fantasy Football Rankings:

2013 Big Board (Top 250)
Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends
Defense/Special Teams
Defensive Linemen
Defensive Backs


Fantasy Football 2013: IDP Rankings
Post date: Tuesday, July 16, 2013 - 11:00
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2013-linebacker-rankings

NFL training camps open up this week, meaning we are that much closer to the start of the regular season and fantasy football. While kickoff may still be nearly a month away, it's never too early to start preparing for your draft.

With apologies to defensive linemen along the lines of a J.J. Watt and the occasional breakout season by a defensive back, a la Charles Tillman last season, linebackers are typically the most productive fantasy IDPs. Of the top 20 fantasy IDPs in 2012, the only non-LBs on the list were the aforementioned Watt and Tillman.

Since there are so many LBs out there capable of being a valuable fantasy contributor, who you need to target in your draft is somewhat dependent on personal preference. For example, if you are looking for someone who racks up a lot of tackles, Luke Kuechly, James Laurinaitis, Lavonte David and Paul Posluszny are some of the top options to consider. Kuechly, the NFL's Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2012, is a tackling machine whose value could reach another level should he find a way to increase his production in a few other categories.

There also are LBs who make a good living by piling up the sacks, such as Von Miller, Aldon Smith and Clay Matthews. Miller in particular is appealing because of his big-play ability (six forced fumbles in 2012). And then there are the solid, all-around LBs, those may not shine in any one category, but are no less valuable and can serve as the anchor of your IDP unit.

Teammates Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman highlight this list, along with Derrick Johnson, Jerod Mayo, Sean Weatherspoon and D'Qwell Jackson. Daryl Washington would be near the top as well, but he is scheduled to serve a four-game suspension to open the season, which hurts his overall value.

Order your Athlon Sports 2013 Fantasy Football Preview magazine today!

Fantasy Football 2013: Linebacker (LB) Rankings

1Luke KuechlyCAR4
2Patrick WillisSF9
3James LaurinaitisSTL11
4Derrick JohnsonKC10
5NaVorro BowmanSF9
6Lavonte DavidTB5
7Von MillerDEN9
8Paul PoslusznyJAC9
9Jerod MayoNE10
10Sean WeatherspoonATL6
11D’Qwell JacksonCLE10
12Bobby WagnerSEA12
13Chad GreenwayMIN5
14Daryl WashingtonARI9
15London FletcherWAS5
16Aldon SmithSF9
17Wesley WoodyardDEN9
18Arthur BrownBAL8
19Lawrence TimmonsPIT5
20Zach BrownTEN8
21Brian CushingHOU8
22Curtis LoftonNO7
23Sean LeeDAL11
24Terrell SuggsBAL8
25Clay MatthewsGB4
26Donald ButlerSD8
27Manti Te'oSD8
28Lance BriggsCHI8
29Vontaze BurfictCIN12
30Desmond BishopMIN5
31David HarrisNYJ10
32DeMeco RyansPHI12
33Dannell EllerbeMIA6
34Jarvis JonesPIT5
35Brandon GrahamPHI12
36Jerrell FreemanIND8
37Kevin MinterARI9
38Akeem AyersTEN8
39Mason FosterTB5
40Pat AngererIND8
41Alec OgletreeSTL11
42Perry RileyWAS5
43Rey MaualugaCIN12
44Justin HoustonKC10
45Jabaal SheardCLE10
46Brandon SpikesNE10
47Larry FootePIT5
48Mychal KendricksPHI12
49Russell AllenJAC9
50Karlos DansbyARI9

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

Solo tackle = 1 pt
Tackle assist = 0.5 pts
Sack = 3.5 pts
Interception = 3.5 pts
Forced fumble/recovery = 2 pts
Defensive TD = 8 pts
Safety = 2 pts
Pass Defended = 0.5 pts
Blocked Kick = 4 pts

Additional Fantasy Football Rankings:

2013 Big Board (Top 250)
Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends
Defense/Special Teams
Top 75 IDP

Defensive Linemen
Defensive Backs

Fantasy Football 2013: Linebacker Rankings
Post date: Tuesday, July 16, 2013 - 11:00
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2013-defensive-lineman-rankings

NFL training camps open up this week, meaning we are that much closer to the start of the regular season and fantasy football. While kickoff may still be nearly a month away, it's never too early to start preparing for your draft.

Last season when it came to fantasy defensive linemen (DL), there was J.J. Watt and then everyone else. The reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year not only outscored the No. 2 DL (Cameron Wake) by more than 60 points, he was the No. 1 IDP in all of fantasy football.

Besides collecting a league-high 20.5 sacks, one of the reasons Watt was so valuable was his all-around production, including 16 passes defended. It seems unlikely that Watt will be able to match that total this season, but that doesn't mean he can't come close to repeating his overall fantasy production. As remarkable a season as Watt had in 2012, keep one thing in mind — he didn't score a single touchdown.

Watt is not the only DL out there capable of being a difference-maker from a fantasy standpoint either. Jason Pierre-Paul, DeMarcus Ware, Wake, Jared Allen and Mario Williams also are capable of racking up the sack totals and making their fair share of big plays. Pierre-Paul and Ware in particular are two worth keeping an eye on during training camp and the preseason.

Pierre-Paul had back surgery on June 5 and the expected recovery time of 12 weeks puts his return right around the time of the Giants' season opener on Sept. 8. Pierre-Paul said he expects to be ready to go in Week 1, but this is a situation worth monitoring. Pierre-Paul's division rival, Ware, will have to adjust to a new position, as the Cowboys' transition to a 4-3 scheme means Ware will move from linebacker to defensive end. While he may not have been a top-tier LB, Ware's track record in the sack category alone should make him one of the top DLs in fantasy, provided he's able to maintain that production as his new position.

Order your Athlon Sports 2013 Fantasy Football Preview magazine today!

Fantasy Football 2013: Defensive Lineman (DL) Rankings

1J.J. WattHOU8
2Jason Pierre-PaulNYG9
3DeMarcus WareDAL11
4Cameron WakeMIA6
5Jared AllenMIN5
6Mario WilliamsBUF12
7Elvis DumervilBAL8
8Calais CampbellARI9
9Charles JohnsonCAR4
10Geno AtkinsCIN12
11Osi UmenyioraATL6
12Julius PeppersCHI8
13Robert QuinnSTL11
14Corey LiugetSD8
15Cliff AvrilSEA12
16Chandler JonesNE10
17Derrick MorganTEN8
18Carlos DunlapCIN12
19Cameron JordanNO7
20Greg HardyCAR4
21Haloti NgataBAL8
22Anthony SpencerDAL11
23Rob NinkovichNE10
24Brian RobisonMIN5
25Chris LongSTL11
26Muhammad WilkersonNYJ10
27Lamarr HoustonOAK7
28Ezekiel AnsahDET9
29Bruce IrvinSEA12
30Justin TuckNYG9
31Vince WilforkNE10
32Ndamukong SuhDET9
33Michael JohnsonCIN12
34Trent ColePHI12
35Everson GriffenMIN5
36Kroy BiermannATL6
37Marcell DareusBUF12
38Fletcher CoxPHI12
39Mathias KiwanukaNYG9
40Michael BennettSEA12
41Will SmithNO7
42Dwight FreeneySD8
43Jason BabinJAC9
44Robert MathisIND8
45Henry MeltonCHI8
46Star LotuleleiCAR4
47Dion JordanMIA6
48Sharrif FloydMIN5
49Damontre MooreNYG9
50Adrian ClaybornTB5

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

Solo tackle = 1 pt
Tackle assist = 0.5 pts
Sack = 3.5 pts
Interception = 3.5 pts
Forced fumble/recovery = 2 pts
Defensive TD = 8 pts
Safety = 2 pts
Pass Defended = 0.5 pts
Blocked Kick = 4 pts

Additional Fantasy Football Rankings:

2013 Big Board (Top 250)
Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends
Defense/Special Teams
Top 75 IDP

Defensive Backs


Fantasy Football 2013: Defensive Lineman Rankings
Post date: Tuesday, July 16, 2013 - 11:00