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Bonzie Colson is one of the country’s most unconventionally productive players, a post presence who barely tops out at 6'5" but fills scoresheets with bigger numbers. Colson’s averages of 17.8 points and 10.1 rebounds on 52.6 percent shooting earned him first-team All-ACC honors last year.

 

He grew up around the game — his father was a four-year starter at Rhode Island and an assistant coach at George Washington and Boston College — but never quite grew to his dad’s 6'10" stature. Still, Inspector Gadget-like arms (Colson has a 7-foot wingspan) and a boulder-sized chip on his shoulder drove Colson simply to find a way to make things happen on the court.

 

Athlon Sports talked to Colson about his unorthodox path to stardom, how he developed his identity and what awaits for his final season in South Bend.

 

What’s your earliest
basketball memory?

I remember when my dad coached at GW, I was always running around the court with a basketball, I was always in the locker room. When my dad coached at Boston College, I was always hanging out with the guys in the locker room, I always wanted to play one-on-one with them. Spending time with them, that instilled in me wanting to be a basketball player.

 

What was it like being a coach’s son?

It was the best thing. I was always around the game. My dad wasn’t the type to always pressure me into playing the sport. He had his coaching lifestyle, but then he had his dad lifestyle. You see the difference of him yelling and screaming on the court and then being loving and caring. He never coached me. He didn’t coach my high school. He coached my AAU team a little bit. I remember in high school, he used to always sit in the middle of the court — he would yell here and there, but then I would look at him. He would give me a look here and there where I knew I needed to step it up and take over the game. But he wasn’t like a lot of those high school fathers who would yell and go crazy. We had a great relationship where if he said something, I did it right on the court — he gave me that look where I knew I had to change what I’m doing, or I need to pick it up a little bit more.

 

When did you know you had this ability to just find ways to score?

I don’t know. I’ve been blessed to have this knack for putting the ball in the hoop. People say I have all these unorthodox shots, but I practice those shots. I work on those shots. Just trying to develop your game, trying to improve your game year after year. Staying within your comfort zone. Being confident in what you can do and just playing with that edge — that’s something I try to do every game. The people I played with in AAU and high school, everybody had that edge and that swagger. That just translated to who I am today.

 

When did you realize you had to do things a little differently?

Well, I’m a little undersized, but I have that length that I use to my advantage. It’s shooting differently, creating contact and still being able to make the shot through contact. In college now, having one of my mentors, [Notre Dame assistant coach Ryan] Humphrey, has helped me develop my game to be able to hit tough shots. Having him there has really helped shape my game.

 

When did you realize, ‘OK, I’m 6'5". I’m not going to be 6'8" or 6'9"’?

I’ve always had that dream to be 6'8". My dad is 6'10". My sister has all the height. But I understood who I am. I’m blessed and happy and grateful to be 6'5". I got my own identity. That’s what makes me special. I’m not upset that I’m not 6'8". I’m doing everything I can to be successful, being this height, on the basketball court. Hopefully, one day, I can make my dream come true and play the game as long as I can. But I still have that hope, one day. That growth spurt can come whenever.

 

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Were you tall when you were young, or were you always undersized?

I was always tall. Maybe I didn’t go through growth spurts like other people have. But I was always tall, and everybody kept growing. It just motivated me to play harder. I stuck with being a post player in AAU and now in college. It’s embracing this is who you are, this is how God made you. You have to do whatever you can to be successful.

 

You do have these crazy long arms. How does that work for you?

The funny thing is, I never realized I had long arms until I got to college. Now it’s like, Oh, we measured it, he has this huge wingspan. I never realized it. But it still comes down to having a nose for the ball and never giving up on a play, trying to use your arms to your advantage.

 

When they measured your wingspan for the first time, was everybody shocked?

Everybody was shocked. I came in, I was out of shape — I didn’t know what to expect. And then it was like, oh, this dude has a 7-foot wingspan. I didn’t think that much of it. And everybody kept talking about it. My teammates will say, ‘How does he hit those shots — the wingspan.’ It’s just who I am. It was nothing to me. It was just my arms, you know?

 

Favorite ACC gym? (other than Joyce Center)

Duke (crazy fans) & Boston College (family gets to visit)

 

Best player you’ve played against?

Jahlil Okafor (Duke)

 

Best defender you’ve faced?

Ben Lammers (Georgia Tech)

 

If you got to make the schedule, who would you want to play?

Any East Coast school — Providence, Rhode Island, UMass. Any team on the East Coast, just so my family can come down.

 

In terms of the recruiting process, was Notre Dame always going to be it?

It’s a long, stressful process. But having my dad, who’s been through the process as a college basketball player and also as a head coach, really helped me. I was going on my visits, trusting in the coaches, trying to play well on the EYBL (Nike Elite Youth Basketball League) circuit. I waited it out, and then I realized Notre Dame, they had a lot of undersized bigs — Luke Harangody, Jack Cooley. It was like, ‘Hey, you can tack on to that.’ This might be the place for me. I went on my visit, fell in love with the school, the campus, the education.

 

Did they sell you on their ability to train you to be a productive big man?

Yeah, but efficiency is big in our program. It’s part of our culture. And I think I was No. 1 [in efficiency] out of all EYBL players my junior/senior year. I was scoring really well. The funny thing is, Coach [Martin] Ingelsby wasn’t even the bigs coach. Coach Ingelsby said, ‘Hey, this kid is like a big, but he can do a little bit of both.’ Within our offense, it’s not really being a big unless you’re at the 5. You just play within the rhythm of the offense and have a feel. That’s who Coach [Mike] Brey recruits. He recruits guys who are intelligent, who understand basketball, who are efficient, who have a feel for the game. I think I fit well in that system.

 

Was there any critical adjustment you made to be a 20-points-per-game guy?

It just comes down to the coaching staff and your teammates giving you all the confidence in the world. We had a great chemistry on the court. You just understand who you are and keep developing your game — how to get out of traps and the different ways you can score the ball, because you understand how teams are going to play you. You get mentally ready for that, not overthinking anything. That’s what made our team special — we knew how teams were going to play us, so we adjusted to that.

 

Why did you elect to come back without testing the draft waters?

I was thinking about it. I didn’t put my name in. It wasn’t the right thing for me.

 

What’s on your checklist for this year?

I’ve been working on my dribble, trying to get my handles up a little more, trying to be a better leader. Just keep being within yourself and understanding who you are. At the same time, you have to develop your game more. You have to be able to defend and rebound and be consistent with those. If I just do what I have to do, if I continue to be consistent with that edge, play like every game is my last, who knows what’s going to happen?

 

Teaser:
Athlon Sports Q&A: Bonzie Colson
Post date: Monday, November 6, 2017 - 08:40
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Path: /college-football/college-football-top-25-rankings-2017-10
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Weekly college football top 25 rankings are a big part of every season, and Athlon Sports will update its top 25 following the games each weekend. The 10th weekend of the 2017 season was filled with exciting games and intriguing conference matchups. Alabama and Georgia remained unbeaten with victories at home in SEC play, with Notre Dame maintaining its No. 3 ranking after a win against Wake Forest. Oklahoma held off Oklahoma State in the Bedlam Rivalry, Clemson moved a step closer to the Atlantic Division title by beating NC State, and Miami picked up a key conference victory against Virginia Tech. Ohio State, Penn State and Iowa State take a fall in this week's rankings after losses on Saturday. Michigan State and Auburn make a jump in the post-Week 10 top 25, while Iowa and West Virginia are the new teams joining the rankings. 

 

College Football Top 25 Rankings

 

1. Alabama (9-0)

Week 10 Result: Defeated LSU

 

Crimson Tide handle LSU once again. But injuries on defense are a concern with Mississippi State up next.

 

2. Georgia (9-0)

Week 10 Result: Defeated South Carolina

 

The Bulldogs clinched the SEC East on Saturday, but coach Kirby Smart’s team has its eyes on a bigger prize – a CFB Playoff trip.

 

3. Notre Dame (8-1)

Week 10 Result: Defeated Wake Forest

 

Quarterback Brandon Wimbush seems poised to finish November in a big way.

 

4. Clemson (8-1)

Week 10 Result: Defeated NC State

 

Dabo Swinney’s team will clinch the Atlantic Division with a victory against Florida State on Saturday.

 

5. Oklahoma (8-1)

Week 10 Result: Defeated Oklahoma State

 

Defense remains an issue, but quarterback Baker Mayfield could carry Oklahoma into the CFB Playoff.

 

6. Miami (8-0)

Week 10 Result: Defeated Virginia Tech

 

The Hurricanes delivered a convincing win over Virginia Tech on Saturday. However, the path to a playoff spot won’t get any easier with a visit from Notre Dame up next.

 

7. Wisconsin (9-0)

Week 10 Result: Defeated Indiana

 

The Badgers are the Big Ten’s best hope of a playoff team in 2017.

 

8. TCU (8-1)

Week 10 Result: Defeated Texas

 

Gary Patterson’s defense leads the Big 12 with 28 sacks generated.

 

9. Washington (8-1)

Week 10 Result: Defeated Oregon

 

Huskies are the only one-loss team in the Pac-12, which means Chris Petersen’s team is still in the mix to get to the CFB Playoff.

 

10. Michigan State (7-2)

Week 10 Result: Defeated Penn State

 

From 3-9 last season to division champ in 2017? It’s possible for coach Mark Dantonio’s team - provided it can navigate a road trip to Ohio State this Saturday.

 

11. Ohio State (7-2)

Week 10 Result: Lost to Iowa

 

A complete meltdown by the Buckeyes in road loss to Iowa.

 

12. Auburn (7-2)

Week 10 Result: Defeated Texas A&M

 

The Tigers have scored at least 42 points in five out of six SEC games this season.

 

13. Penn State (7-2)

Week 10 Result: Lost to Michigan State

 

Running back Saquan Barkley has been held under 100 rushing yards in four out of Penn State’s last five games.

 

14. Oklahoma State (7-2)

Week 10 Result: Lost to Oklahoma

 

Oklahoma State’s defense simply had no answer for Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield in Saturday’s Bedlam defeat.

 

15. USC (8-2)

Week 10 Result: Defeated Arizona

 

USC’s offense eclipsed 300 passing and 300 rushing yards for the second time in a game this year. That offensive performance was enough to hold off Arizona and dynamic quarterback Khalil Tate.

 

16. UCF (8-0)

Week 10 Result: Defeated SMU

 

SMU gave UCF a battle, but the Knights held on for a victory in Dallas. UConn is up next, and Temple has played better recently, but coach Scott Frost's team is likely to be 11-0 headed into the showdown against USF on Nov. 24.

 

17. LSU (6-3)

Week 10 Result: Lost to Alabama

 

With Arkansas, Tennessee and Texas A&M to close out the season, LSU should finish its regular season at 9-3.

 

18. Iowa (6-3)

Week 10 Result: Defeated Ohio State

 

Iowa’s 55-24 victory over Ohio State might be the most surprising score and outcome of the 2017 college football season.

 

19. Iowa State (6-3)

Week 10 Result: Lost to West Virginia

 

Cyclones’ second-half rally in Morgantown fell short, but coach Matt Campbell’s team is still alive for the Big 12 title game.

 

20. Virginia Tech (7-2)

Week 10 Result: Lost to Miami

 

The Hokies need more out of their ground game and big plays on offense going forward.

 

21. Mississippi State (7-2)

Week 10 Result: Defeated UMass

 

Bulldogs will have to play a lot better than they did against UMass to have a shot against Alabama on Saturday.

 

22. Michigan (7-2)

Week 10 Result: Defeated Minnesota

 

Wolverines pounded Minnesota for 371 rushing yards on Saturday night.

 

23. Memphis (8-1)

Week 10 Result: Defeated Tulsa

 

The Tigers are off in Week 11 but a win over SMU on Nov. 18 would clinch the AAC West Division.

 

24. NC State (6-3)

Week 10 Result: Lost to Clemson

 

The Wolfpack have lost only six turnovers this season but four of those came in the team’s two losses (South Carolina and Clemson).

 

25. West Virginia (6-3)

Week 10 Result: Defeated Iowa State

 

West Virginia’s 524 total yards against Iowa State were the most allowed by the Cyclones in a game in 2017.

Teaser:
College Football Top 25 Rankings
Post date: Monday, November 6, 2017 - 08:30
All taxonomy terms: ACC, Air Force Falcons, Akron Zips, Alabama Crimson Tide, Appalachian State Mountaineers, Arizona State Sun Devils, Arizona Wildcats, Arkansas Razorbacks, Arkansas State, Arkansas State Red Wolves, Army West Point Black Knights, Army Black Knights, Army West Point Black Knights, Auburn Tigers, Ball State Cardinals, Baylor Bears, Boise State Broncos, Boston College Eagles, Bowling Green Falcons, Buffalo Bulls, BYU Cougars, California Golden Bears, Central Michigan Chippewas, CFB, Charlotte 49ers, Cincinnati Bearcats, Clemson Tigers, College Football, college football, Colorado Buffaloes, Colorado State Rams, Connecticut Huskies, Denver Broncos, Duke Blue Devils, East Carolina Pirates, Eastern Michigan Eagles, Eastern Washington Eagles, FAU Owls, FIU Panthers, Florida A&M Rattlers, Florida Gators, Florida State Seminoles, Fresno State Bulldogs, Georgia Bulldogs, Georgia Southern Eagles, Georgia State Panthers, Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, Hawaii Rainbow Warriors, Hawaii Warriors, Houston Cougars, Idaho Vandals, Illinois Fighting Illini, Indiana Hoosiers, Iowa Hawkeyes, Iowa State Cyclones, James Madison Dukes, Kansas Jayhawks, Kansas State Wildcats, Kent State Golden Flashes, Kentucky Wildcats, Louisiana Tech Bulldogs, Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns, Louisville Cardinals, LSU Tigers, Marshall Thundering Herd, Maryland Terrapins, Memphis Tigers, Miami (OH) RedHawks, Miami Hurricanes, Miami Ohio RedHawks, Michigan State Spartans, Michigan Wolverines, Minnesota Golden Gophers, Mississippi State Bulldogs, Missouri Tigers, Montana State Bobcats, MTSU Blue Raiders, Navy Midshipmen, Navy Midshipmen, NC State Wolfpack, Nebraska Cornhuskers, Nevada Wolf Pack, New Mexico Lobos, New Mexico State Aggies, North Carolina Tar Heels, North Dakota Fighting Hawks, North Texas Mean Green, Northern Arizona Lumberjacks, Northern Illinois Huskies, Northern Iowa Panthers, Northwestern Wildcats, Notre Dame Fighting Irish, Oakland Raiders, Ohio Bobcats, Ohio State Buckeyes, Oklahoma Sooners, Oklahoma State Cowboys, Old Dominion Monarchs, Ole Miss Rebels, Oregon Ducks, Oregon State Beavers, Pac-12, Penn State Nittany Lions, Pittsburgh Panthers, Portland State Vikings, Purdue Boilermakers, ranking, Rice Owls, Rutgers Scarlet Knights, San Diego State Aztecs, San Jose State Spartans, SMU Mustangs, South Alabama Jaguars, South Carolina Gamecocks, South Florida Bulls, Southern Miss Golden Eagles, Stanford Cardinal, Syracuse Orange, TCU Horned Frogs, Temple Owls, Tennessee Volunteers, Texas A&M Aggies, Texas Longhorns, Texas State Bobcats, Texas Tech Red Raiders, Toledo Rockets, Troy Trojans, Troy University, Tulane Green Wave, Tulsa Golden Hurricane, UAB Blazers, UCF Knights, UCLA Bruins, UConn Huskies, UL Lafayette Ragin Cajuns, UL Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns, UL Monroe Warhawks, UMass Minutemen, uniforms, UNLV Rebels, USC Trojans, Utah State Aggies, Utah Utes, UTEP Miners, UTSA Roadrunners, Vanderbilt Commodores, Virginia Cavaliers, Virginia Tech Hokies, Wake Forest Demon Deacons, Washington Huskies, Washington State Cougars, West Virginia Mountaineers, Western Kentucky Hilltoppers, Western Michigan Broncos, Wisconsin Badgers, Wyoming Cowboys, American Athletic, Big 12, Big Ten, Conference USA, Independents, MAC, Mountain West, Pac 12, SEC, Sun Belt, News
Path: /college-football/college-football-week-10-awards-2017
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Week 10 of the 2017 college football season was filled with several intriguing matchups and storylines. A loaded afternoon slate of games provided a shake up in the race to get into the CFB Playoff. Iowa dominated Ohio State in a 55-24 victory for coach Kirk Ferentz's team, Michigan State beat Ohio State on a last-second field goal, Oklahoma survived a 62-52 shootout with rival Oklahoma State, West Virginia knocked off Iowa State and Clemson held off NC State to take control of the ACC's Atlantic Division. Also, Miami beat Virginia Tech, Alabama handled LSU in a 24-10 win in Tuscaloosa, USC knocked off Arizona and Georgia remained unbeaten with a victory over South Carolina.

 

With the 10th weekend of the 2017 season in the books, it’s time to take a look at the best of the best and honor some of the top performances. Here’s a look at Athlon Sports’ picks for the offensive, defensive, coordinator, team, freshman and unsung hero from Week 10:

 

College Football Week 10 Awards

 

Offensive Player of the Week: Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma

Mayfield threw for 598 yards and five touchdowns on 24 completions to help Oklahoma knock off rival Oklahoma State 62-52 in the Bedlam rivalry on Saturday. The senior also added one score on the ground.

 

Defensive Player of the Week: Joshua Jackson, CB, Iowa

Jackson is a rising star in the Big Ten and continued a standout 2017 season by intercepting three passes and recording three tackles in Saturday’s upset over Iowa.

 

Special Teams Player of the Week: Dante Pettis, WR, Washington

Pettis is officially in the NCAA record book. The senior returned a punt 64 yards for a touchdown in Saturday night’s win over Oregon, which was the ninth punt return for a score in his career. The nine punt returns for a touchdown are a new career record at the FBS level.

 

Coordinator of the Week (Offense): Brian Ferentz, Iowa

Ferentz seems to be pushing all of the right buttons in his first year as Iowa’s play-caller. The Hawkeyes were prepared and executed a standout gameplan in the upset win over Ohio State, as Ferentz’s offense generated 487 total yards (7.0 per play), possessed the ball for 34:51 and went seven-for-seven on red- zone conversions. Running back Akrum Wadley rushed for 118 yards, and quarterback Nate Stanley tossed five touchdowns and threw for 226 yards on 20 completions.

 

Coordinator of the Week (Defense): Manny Diaz, Miami

The turnover chain had plenty of air time in Hard Rock Stadium on Saturday night. Miami’s defense held Virginia Tech to 299 total yards (4.0 per play) and just 10 points. Additionally, Diaz’s group forced four turnovers, generated four sacks and limited the Hokies to just three third-down conversions on 14 attempts.

 

Freshman of the Week (Offense): Cam Akers, RB, Florida State

Akers led the way for Florida State’s offense in Saturday’s win over Syracuse. The true freshman recorded 199 rushing yards and two scores on 22 carries. He also added 18 receiving yards on three catches.
 

Freshman of the Week (Defense): Paddy Fisher, LB, Northwestern

Fisher takes home this honor for the second week in a row. In Saturday’s overtime win over Nebraska, Fisher recorded 13 tackles (six solo) and helped to limit the Cornhuskers to 3.6 yards per carry.

 

Team of the Week: Iowa

Kinnick Stadium’s November magic is back. For the second year in a row, Iowa knocked off a top-10 team at home. The Hawkeyes dominated Ohio State in a 55-24 rout and ended the CFB Playoff hopes of coach Urban Meyer’s team. Iowa had a terrific gameplan on offense, as coordinator Brian Ferentz mixed the run and pass effectively and attacked the Buckeyes’ linebackers in pass coverage. The Hawkeyes limited Ohio State to 5.8 yards per play, forced four turnovers and held the Buckeyes to just seven points in the second half. Coach Kirk Ferentz’s team has a showdown against Wisconsin next week, but regardless of what happens in that game, Iowa provided a major shake up to the CFB Playoff picture with Saturday’s upset over Ohio State.

 

Unsung Hero of the Week: Khaleke Hudson, LB, Michigan

Hudson stuffed the stat sheet in Michigan’s win over Minnesota. He recorded 13 tackles (11 solo), two sacks, one forced fumble and helped to limit the Golden Gophers to just 90 rushing yards. Additionally, of Hudson’s 13 tackles, 6.5 of them went for a loss. 

Teaser:
College Football Week 10 Awards 2017
Post date: Sunday, November 5, 2017 - 13:30
Path: /college-football/pac-12-week-10-college-football-awards-2017
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Week 10 of the 2017 college football season produced several big performances and memorable moments from the Pac-12. USC defeated Arizona 49-35 to move a step closer to winning the Pac-12 South title, and Washington State knocked off Stanford 24-21 in Pullman. Utah dominated UCLA 48-17 on Friday night, while Arizona State (Colorado) and California (Oregon State) inched closer to bowl eligibility with wins on Saturday. Washington dominated Oregon 38-3 to stay alive for the CFB Playoff.

 

With the 10th weekend of the 2017 season in the books, it’s time to take a look at the best of the best and honor some of the top performances from the Pac-12. Here’s a look at Athlon Sports’ picks for the offensive, defensive, coordinator, team, freshman and unsung hero from Week 10:

 

Pac-12 Week 10 College Football Awards

 

Offensive Player of the Week: Ronald Jones, RB, USC

USC’s ground attack gashed Arizona for 331 rushing yards in Saturday night’s 49-35 victory. Jones recorded 195 of those yards and three touchdowns on 27 attempts, averaging 7.2 yards per carry.

 

Defensive Player of the Week: John Houston, LB, USC

Houston led the way for USC’s defense against Arizona, registering 10 tackles and one interception. He also chipped in 0.5 sack.

 

Special Teams Player of the Week: Dante Pettis, WR, Washington

Pettis is officially in the NCAA record book. The senior returned a punt 64 yards for a touchdown in Saturday night’s win over Oregon, which was the ninth punt return for a touchdown in his career. The nine punt returns for a touchdown are a new career record at the FBS level.

 

Coordinator of the Week (Offense): Tee Martin, USC

USC’s offense was firing on all cylinders in Saturday night’s win over Arizona. The Trojans recorded 642 yards on 78 plays, posted 30 first downs and scored 21 points in the decisive fourth quarter. Additionally, Martin’s offense averaged 8.2 yards per play, which was the second most by USC in 2017.

 

Coordinator of the Week (Defense): Alex Grinch, Washington State

Washington State’s defense allowed only 198 yards and two offensive scores to Stanford in Saturday’s 24-21 victory. In addition to the overall success on the stat sheet, Grinch’s defense held standout running back Bryce Love in check. The Heisman candidate had a 52-yard touchdown run but managed only 17 yards on his 15 other carries. Washington State also recorded 11 tackles for a loss, four pass breakups and allowed only three third-down conversions on 12 attempts.

 

Freshman of the Week (Offense): Salvon Ahmed, RB

Ahmed was an all-around threat for the Huskies in the win over Oregon. He rushed for 84 yards and a touchdown on six carries, caught one pass for four yards and returned a kickoff 23 yards.

 

Freshman of the Week (Defense): Chase Lucas, DB, Arizona State

Lucas recorded 12 tackles (11 solo) and two pass breakups in Arizona State’s 41-30 victory against Colorado.

 

Team of the Week: USC

The Trojans took a big step towards claiming the Pac-12 South title on Saturday night. Thanks to a high-powered offense and a standout defensive effort in the first half, USC knocked off Arizona 49-35. The Trojans recorded 642 total yards (8.23 per play) versus the Wildcats and held dynamic quarterback Khalil Tate largely in check in the first half. Arizona rallied in the second half, but USC scored 21 points in the fourth quarter to put the game away.

 

Unsung Hero of the Week: Patrick Laird, RB, California

Laird posted 214 rushing yards and a touchdown on 33 carries versus Oregon State.

Teaser:
Pac-12 Week 10 College Football Awards 2017
Post date: Sunday, November 5, 2017 - 13:20
Path: /college-football/acc-week-10-college-football-awards-2017
Body:

Week 10 of the 2017 college football season produced several big performances and memorable moments from the ACC. The Week 10 slate provided clarity for the league's division races and which teams will be in Charlotte for the ACC Championship in early December. The Atlantic Division title is once again in Clemson's grasp after a 38-31 victory over NC State. On the Coastal side, Miami defeated Virginia Tech 28-10 to move closer to earning its first trip to the conference title game since joining the ACC. Elsewhere around the league, Florida State defeated Syracuse, Virginia is bowl eligible after beating Georgia Tech and Wake Forest lost at Notre Dame.

 

With the 10th weekend of 2017 in the books, it’s time to take a look at the best of the best and honor some of the top performances from the ACC. Here’s a look at Athlon Sports’ picks for the offensive, defensive, coordinator, team, freshman and unsung hero from Week 10:

 

ACC Week 10 College Football Awards

 

Offensive Player of the Week: Malik Rosier, QB, Miami

Rosier made a couple of mistakes (three picks), but he connected on 10 of 21 passes for 193 yards and two touchdowns. He also added 84 yards and a score on the ground and caught a 17-yard pass from receiver Braxton Berrios.

 

Defensive Player of the Week: Clelin Ferrell, DE, Clemson

Ferrell dominated the line of scrimmage in Saturday’s win over NC State. He recorded 12 tackles (five for a loss) and one sack.

 

Coordinator of the Week (Offense): Robert Anae, Virginia

The Cavaliers hit the six-win mark and bowl eligibility with Saturday’s 40-36 victory over Georgia Tech. Anae’s offense recorded 357 overall yards on 68 snaps but delivered with the game on the line in the fourth quarter. Virginia went 64 yards over five plays in just under two minutes to score the game-winning touchdown.

 

Coordinator of the Week (Defense): Manny Diaz, Miami

The turnover chain had plenty of air time in Hard Rock Stadium on Saturday night. Miami’s defense held Virginia Tech to 299 total yards (4.0 per play) and just 10 points. Additionally, Diaz’s group forced four turnovers, generated four sacks and limited the Hokies to just three third-down conversions on 14 attempts.

 

Freshman of the Week (Offense): Cam Akers, RB, Florida State

Akers led the way for Florida State’s offense in Saturday’s win over Syracuse. The true freshman recorded 199 rushing yards and two scores on 22 carries. He also added 18 receiving yards on three catches.
 

Freshman of the Week (Defense): Bruce Jordan-Swilling, LB, Georgia Tech

Jordan-Swilling collected 11 tackles (six solo and one for a loss) and one interception in Saturday’s loss to Georgia Tech.

 

Team of the Week: Miami

After sluggish victories over Syracuse and North Carolina, there were plenty of doubts or question marks about where Miami stacked up in the CFB Playoff picture. But after Saturday night’s win over Virginia Tech, those doubts should fade away. The Hurricanes controlled this game from the first quarter, jumping out to a 14-3 lead and eventually claiming a 28-10 victory. Miami’s defense held Virginia Tech to just 299 yards, forced four turnovers and recorded four sacks. The Hokies came into Saturday night’s game as one of the ACC’s top defenses, but the Hurricanes generated 429 yards (7.4 per play) and averaged 19.1 yards on 10 pass completions. The win over Virginia Tech moved coach Mark Richt’s team one step closer to the Coastal Division title and adds to the intrigue surrounding next Saturday’s showdown versus Notre Dame.

 

Unsung Hero of the Week: Ray-Ray McCloud, WR/DB, Clemson

With injuries sidelining cornerbacks Marcus Edmond and Mark Fields, McCloud (usually a receiver) was pressed into snaps on defense. He recorded one stop on the stat sheet in limited snaps, but his biggest impact in Saturday’s game against NC State came on special teams. McCloud returned a punt 77 yards for a touchdown to put Clemson on the scoreboard in the first quarter.

Teaser:
ACC Week 10 College Football Awards 2017
Post date: Sunday, November 5, 2017 - 13:10
Path: /college-football/sec-week-10-college-football-awards-2017
Body:

Week 10 of the 2017 college football season produced several big performances and memorable moments from the SEC. The weekend slate featured Alabama turning in another dominant performance, defeating LSU 24-10 in Tuscaloosa. Georgia remained unbeaten with a 24-10 victory over South Carolina, while Auburn knocked off Texas A&M 42-27 in College Station. Ole Miss upset Kentucky with a late touchdown, Tennessee beat Southern Miss, and Missouri picked up a key SEC win with a 45-16 blowout over Florida. Additionally, Mississippi State, Vanderbilt and Arkansas won non-conference games. 

 

With the 10th weekend of the 2017 season in the books, it’s time to take a look at the best of the best and honor some of the top performances from the SEC. Here’s a look at Athlon Sports’ picks for the offensive, defensive, coordinator, team, freshman and unsung hero from Week 10:

 

SEC Week 10 College Football Awards

 

Offensive Player of the Week: Jarrett Stidham, QB, Auburn

Stidham and running back Kerryon Johnson led the way for Auburn’s offense in Saturday’s 42-27 win over Texas A&M. The sophomore quarterback connected on 20 of 27 throws for 268 yards and three scores and added 27 yards on the ground. Stidham connected on three passes of 30 yards or more, including a 53-yard strike to Darius Slayton in the first half.

 

Defensive Player of the Week: Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama

A couple of Alabama defenders deserve consideration for this award, but this honor goes to Evans after recording 10 tackles (one for a loss) and one sack in Saturday’s 24-10 victory against LSU.

 

Coordinator of the Week (Offense): Josh Heupel, Missouri

Missouri’s offense torched Florida for 455 yards and 45 points in a key win for coach Barry Odom’s program. Heupel’s offense had plenty of balance in the victory, generating 228 yards through the air and 227 on the ground. The Tigers averaged 6.8 yards per play, converted 7 of 11 third-down attempts and scored on seven out of their last nine drives.

 

Coordinator of the Week (Defense): Jeremy Pruitt, Alabama

Pruitt’s defense held LSU to just 306 yards (4.2 per play) and 10 points in Saturday night’s win in Tuscaloosa. The Crimson Tide limited the Tigers to 151 on the ground, forced six sacks and generated nine tackles for a loss. Additionally, only two LSU drives extended longer than 40 yards.

 

Freshman of the Week (Offense): Jake Fromm, QB, Georgia

Fromm continued his steady play by completing 16 of 22 passes for 196 yards and two touchdowns in Saturday’s 24-10 victory over South Carolina.


Freshman of the Week (Defense): Quinnen Williams, DL, Alabama

Williams recorded five tackles (two for a loss) and one sack in Saturday night’s win over LSU.

 

Team of the Week: Alabama

The Crimson Tide ranked No. 2 in the first CFB Playoff rankings, which provided plenty of motivation for Nick Saban in preparation for Saturday night’s game against LSU. Alabama controlled the matchup from the opening snap, as the Tigers never threatened to close the gap or take the lead. The Crimson Tide’s offense generated just enough production on offense (299 yards), and the defense limited the Tigers to 4.2 yards per play.

 

Unsung Hero of the Week: Jordan Ta’amu, QB, Ole Miss

In his second career start, Ta’amu torched Kentucky’s secondary for 382 passing yards and four scores on 31 completions. He also led the Rebels into position for the game-winning touchdown with a 14-play drive that resulted in a Ta’amu pass to receiver D.K. Metcalf with five seconds left. 

Teaser:
SEC Week 10 College Football Awards 2017
Post date: Sunday, November 5, 2017 - 13:00
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy Football, injury updates, NFL, Fantasy
Path: /fantasy/week-9-fantasy-football-injury-updates-zach-ertz-emmanuel-sanders-delanie-walker-devante-parker-2017
Body:

In Week 9, the fantasy football injury report is just as long as it's been when six teams were not on a bye. The wide receiver/tight end injuries are here and the quarterback/running back/kicker injuries are in their own article.

 

Players already ruled out include Pierre Garcon (placed on injured reserve), Jamison Crowder, Jordan Reed and Tyler Boyd. Also, Martellus Bennett and Kenny Golladay were downgraded to doubtful, which is almost a sure sign that they're not going to play.

 

Players listed on the injury report may practice all week and still be inactive on Sunday. Be sure to check the inactive report before game time so there are no surprises.

 

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

 

Teams on bye: Chicago, Cleveland, Los Angeles Chargers, Minnesota, New England, Pittsburgh

 

Note: All times are ET and games are on Sunday, Nov. 5 unless otherwise noted.

 

Emmanuel Sanders (ankle), WR, Denver Broncos at Philadelphia Eagles, 1 p.m.

After injuring his ankle in Week 6, Sanders sat out the past two weeks. He's set to return for Week 9, however, his quarterback is now Brock Osweiler. While this may be an upgrade from Trevor Siemian, it's not enough to make any Denver pass catcher a must-start. Sanders is a WR3 in what is a good matchup, but with a poor quarterback, the matchup rating is useless.

 

UPDATE: RULED OUT Zach Ertz (hamstring), TE, Philadelphia Eagles vs. Denver Broncos, 1 p.m.

Even though he's listed as questionable with a hamstring injury, the Eagles have said that Ertz will be active in Week 9. He's an every-week TE1 even for what seems like a tough matchup. However, the Denver Broncos actually allow the third-most fantasy points to opposing tight ends. Just look at what Travis Kelce did in Week 8!

 

Delanie Walker (ankle), TE, Tennessee Titans vs. Baltimore Ravens, 1 p.m.

After suffering an ankle injury in Week 8, Walker did not practice Wednesday or Thursday. The diagnosis was that he had a bone bruise, which while painful, is more of a pain tolerance issue for him heading into Week 9. He put in a limited practice on Friday, and it seems like he will try to play. Fantasy owners should plan to start him if he's active, but keep fingers crossed that he's able to make it through the game.

 

DeVante Parker (ankle), WR, Miami Dolphins vs. Oakland Raiders, 8:30 p.m.

Parker has put in a week of practice and is on track to play in Week 9. The Dolphins do play at night, so fantasy owners won't know for sure if he's active until late, but it's fairly safe to assume Parker is going to play. He and Jay Cutler have had a good rapport this season, although it's only been a three-game sample size when he's been healthy. The Dolphins’ offense is going to look different without Jay Ajayi, so it is possible Parker sees a bigger role. He's a WR3 with upside for Week 9.

 

Jeremy Maclin (shoulder), WR, Baltimore Ravens at Tennessee Titans, 1 p.m.

Maclin has been dealing with this shoulder injury for weeks and may very well be on the injury report for the rest of the season. He had limited practices this week, but is likely going to play in Week 9. With the same injury in Week 8, he had three receptions for 57 yards and a touchdown. Unfortunately for fantasy owners, that's pretty much his ceiling. Those kind of numbers put him on the WR3 radar with six teams on a bye, even if it is a good matchup against the Titans.

 

Marqise Lee (knee), WR, Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Cincinnati Bengals, 1 p.m.

Coming off the bye, Lee still did not practice on Wednesday or Thursday. He did put in a full practice on Friday and is expected to play in Week 9. His value drops when Dede Westbrook is active, although Westbrook is not expected to play this this week. The knee injury is not a concern; Lee will play. However, he's only a WR3 until Westbrook comes back; then he's not worth starting.

 

Mike Wallace (back), WR, Baltimore Ravens at Tennessee Titans, 1 p.m.

Wallace was in the concussion protocol, was cleared, and then showed up on the injury report with a back issue. All signs point to him playing in Week 9, but he's been a disappointment for fantasy owners this year. He has one touchdown on the season and one game with 100-plus yards. The rest of the season consists of four games with one catch and no more than 10 yards in each and one game with 30 receiving yards. He's not a recommended fantasy option.

 

— Written by Sarah Lewis, who is part of the Athlon Contributor network and lives, eats, and breathes fantasy football. She also writes for SoCalledFantasyExperts.com among other sites. Have a fantasy football question? Send it to her on Twitter @Sarah_Lewis32.

Teaser:
Week 9 Fantasy Football Injury Updates: Zach Ertz, Emmanuel Sanders, Delanie Walker, DeVante Parker
Post date: Sunday, November 5, 2017 - 12:30
All taxonomy terms: ACC, Air Force Falcons, Akron Zips, Alabama Crimson Tide, Appalachian State Mountaineers, Arizona State Sun Devils, Arizona Wildcats, Arkansas Razorbacks, Arkansas State, Arkansas State Red Wolves, Army West Point Black Knights, Army Black Knights, Army West Point Black Knights, Auburn Tigers, Ball State Cardinals, Baylor Bears, Boise State Broncos, Boston College Eagles, Bowling Green Falcons, Buffalo Bulls, BYU Cougars, California Golden Bears, Central Michigan Chippewas, CFB, Charlotte 49ers, Cincinnati Bearcats, Clemson Tigers, College Football, college football, Colorado Buffaloes, Colorado State Rams, Connecticut Huskies, Denver Broncos, Duke Blue Devils, East Carolina Pirates, Eastern Michigan Eagles, Eastern Washington Eagles, FAU Owls, FIU Panthers, Florida A&M Rattlers, Florida Gators, Florida State Seminoles, Fresno State Bulldogs, Georgia Bulldogs, Georgia Southern Eagles, Georgia State Panthers, Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, Hawaii Rainbow Warriors, Hawaii Warriors, Houston Cougars, Idaho Vandals, Illinois Fighting Illini, Indiana Hoosiers, Iowa Hawkeyes, Iowa State Cyclones, James Madison Dukes, Kansas Jayhawks, Kansas State Wildcats, Kent State Golden Flashes, Kentucky Wildcats, Louisiana Tech Bulldogs, Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns, Louisville Cardinals, LSU Tigers, Marshall Thundering Herd, Maryland Terrapins, Memphis Tigers, Miami (OH) RedHawks, Miami Hurricanes, Miami Ohio RedHawks, Michigan State Spartans, Michigan Wolverines, Minnesota Golden Gophers, Mississippi State Bulldogs, Missouri Tigers, Montana State Bobcats, MTSU Blue Raiders, Navy Midshipmen, Navy Midshipmen, NC State Wolfpack, Nebraska Cornhuskers, Nevada Wolf Pack, New Mexico Lobos, New Mexico State Aggies, North Carolina Tar Heels, North Dakota Fighting Hawks, North Texas Mean Green, Northern Arizona Lumberjacks, Northern Illinois Huskies, Northern Iowa Panthers, Northwestern Wildcats, Notre Dame Fighting Irish, Oakland Raiders, Ohio Bobcats, Ohio State Buckeyes, Oklahoma Sooners, Oklahoma State Cowboys, Old Dominion Monarchs, Ole Miss Rebels, Oregon Ducks, Oregon State Beavers, Pac-12, Penn State Nittany Lions, Pittsburgh Panthers, Portland State Vikings, Purdue Boilermakers, ranking, Rice Owls, Rutgers Scarlet Knights, San Diego State Aztecs, San Jose State Spartans, SMU Mustangs, South Alabama Jaguars, South Carolina Gamecocks, South Florida Bulls, Southern Miss Golden Eagles, Stanford Cardinal, Syracuse Orange, TCU Horned Frogs, Temple Owls, Tennessee Volunteers, Texas A&M Aggies, Texas Longhorns, Texas State Bobcats, Texas Tech Red Raiders, Toledo Rockets, Troy Trojans, Troy University, Tulane Green Wave, Tulsa Golden Hurricane, UAB Blazers, UCF Knights, UCLA Bruins, UConn Huskies, UL Lafayette Ragin Cajuns, UL Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns, UL Monroe Warhawks, UMass Minutemen, uniforms, UNLV Rebels, USC Trojans, Utah State Aggies, Utah Utes, UTEP Miners, UTSA Roadrunners, Vanderbilt Commodores, Virginia Cavaliers, Virginia Tech Hokies, Wake Forest Demon Deacons, Washington Huskies, Washington State Cougars, West Virginia Mountaineers, Western Kentucky Hilltoppers, Western Michigan Broncos, Wisconsin Badgers, Wyoming Cowboys, American Athletic, Big 12, Big Ten, Conference USA, Independents, MAC, Mountain West, Pac 12, SEC, Sun Belt, News
Path: /college-football/awesome-college-football-alternate-uniforms-week-10
Body:

Alternate uniforms and helmets are a big part of every team’s wardrobe throughout any season. While there’s nothing wrong with traditional uniforms and helmets, a different look is never a bad thing. And over the last few years, it seems more teams are using alternate uniforms throughout the season. With several awesome designs making an appearance in Week 10, here are ones we liked the most from the weekend action: 

 

CFB's Best Alternate Uniforms from Week 10

 

Arizona State
Iowa
Kent State
Rutgers
Cincinnati
Ohio
Kansas
North Texas
MTSU
Central Michigan
Mississippi State
Northwestern
Temple
TCU
Miami
Baylor
Texas State
Tulane
Memphis
SMU
Louisiana
Purdue
Oregon
Boise State
Teaser:
Awesome College Football Alternate Uniforms from Week 10
Post date: Sunday, November 5, 2017 - 12:30
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy Football, injury updates, NFL, Fantasy
Path: /fantasy/week-9-fantasy-football-injury-updates-jameis-winston-jay-cutler-rob-kelley-cj-prosise-2017
Body:

Despite six teams on a bye in Week 9, the injury report of fantasy-relevant players is back to being long enough to be split into two parts. The quarterbacks, running backs and kicker are below and the wide receivers and tight ends are in a separate article.

 

Note that Andrew Luck and Deshaun Watson both went on injured reserve this week and Terrance West has been ruled out already. Many of the players below will end up playing, but be sure to check the inactive report before game time.

 

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

 

Teams on bye: Chicago, Cleveland, Los Angeles Chargers, Minnesota, New England, Pittsburgh

 

Note: All times are ET and games are on Sunday, Nov. 5 unless otherwise noted.

 

Jameis Winston (shoulder), QB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New Orleans Saints, 1 p.m.

Winston didn't miss any time with the shoulder injury, however, he looked hindered in Week 8. Prior to that game, he didn't throw in practice until Friday. The good news is that he did practice this week, which included throwing. He is fully expected to play in Week 9 and has a good matchup against the Saints. He's a QB2 with upside.

 

Joe Flacco (concussion), QB, Baltimore Ravens at Tennessee Titans, 1 p.m.

After suffering a brutal hit in Week 8, Flacco has been in the concussion protocol. However, he did put in full practices this week. He is on track to play today, although he's not a fantasy option in most leagues. However, those in 2-QB leagues may be forced to start him. In which case, be aware that concussion symptoms can recur and a player can be ruled out after they've practiced in full, so be sure to check the inactive report to be safe.

 

Jay Cutler (ribs), QB, Miami Dolphins vs. Oakland Raiders, 8:30 p.m.

After missing Week 8, Cutler has practiced and is on track to play in Week 9. While he hasn't been a fantasy option in most formats, having him under center instead of Matt Moore does improve the outlook of the Dolphins’ pass catchers. With no Jay Ajayi, the offense may be relying more on Cutler to move the ball downfield. However, he still doesn't have fantasy value in one-QB formats.

 

Rob Kelley (ankle), RB, Washington Redskins at Seattle Seahawks, 4:05 p.m.

He did find the end zone in Week 8, but other than that, Kelley (above, right) hasn't had a good game since Week 2. He's battled a variety of injuries all season, and it is hard to trust him as a fantasy starter. He's in the RB3 conversation for Week 9, but only because six teams are on a bye. The ankle injury isn't a concern; he'll play in Week 9.

 

C.J. Prosise (ankle), RB, Seattle Seahawks vs. Washington Redskins, 4:05 p.m.

The reports from Seattle have Prosise as a game-time decision. This should be enough for fantasy owners to keep him on the bench. Although, he's only even worth owning in deeper leagues as a stash. The backfield in Seattle is a mess, with four running backs who have gotten playing time. Prosise hasn't made a fantasy impact yet this year, and it is becoming more and more likely that he won't make an impact this season.

 

Andre Ellington (quad), RB, Arizona Cardinals at San Francisco 49ers, 4:05 p.m.

Ellington hurt his quad, but the biggest obstacle to his fantasy relevance is Adrian Peterson. With Drew Stanton under center, the Cardinals are going to have to lean on their running game. The team has already come out and said they are going to feed Peterson the ball. Ellington, at this point, is not worth starting in fantasy, and if owners need room on their roster, he can be dropped.

 

Randy Bullock (back), K, Cincinnati Bengals at Jacksonville Jaguars, 1 p.m.

Bullock was given the questionable tag with a back issue, but the biggest sign that he may miss the game is that the Bengals signed Marshall Koehn as a backup kicker. Koehn should not be picked up in fantasy leagues, but owners with Bullock should find another option for Week 9.

 

— Written by Sarah Lewis, who is part of the Athlon Contributor network and lives, eats, and breathes fantasy football. She also writes for SoCalledFantasyExperts.com among other sites. Have a fantasy football question? Send it to her on Twitter @Sarah_Lewis32.

Teaser:
Week 9 Fantasy Football Injury Updates: Jameis Winston, Jay Cutler, Rob Kelley, C.J. Prosise
Post date: Sunday, November 5, 2017 - 05:00
Path: /fantasy/flex-rankings-week-9-fantasy-football-2017
Body:

Antonio Brown: Flex Rankings Week 8

Week 9 flex rankings for fantasy football are here, and won’t have a few big names listed because of byes. Among the teams on bye are Pittsburgh and New England, which means no Le’Veon Bell, Antonio Brown or Rob Gronkowski this week (or Tom Brady for that matter). There are still plenty of top-flight options available, however, including the likes of DeAndre Hopkins, Kareem Hunt and Julio Jones.

 

The NFL trade deadline also has added some intrigue to this week, as Jay Ajayi was sent to Philadelphia on Tuesday. Will he have an immediate impact for his new team on Sunday or will he split carries with LeGarrette Blount? (Don’t forget the Eagles play the Broncos.). Can you trust Ajayi this week? You may have no other option with six teams on bye.

 

Speaking of byes, Aaron Jones is back from his, and appears to have taken over the starting RB role in Green Bay, but we will have to see how the touches are distributed between him and Ty Montgomery this week. Remember, it’s Brett Hundley and not Aaron Rodgers at quarterback for the Packers.

 

With several big names on bye this is one of those weeks where guys like Alex Collins or Robby Anderson could be starters depending on your roster while names like Terrelle Pryor and Sammy Watkins (to name a couple), who have been busts for the most part, continue to plummet in the rankings.

 

There will be plenty of changes with these rankings leading up to kickoff, so be sure to check back often.

 

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

 

Teams on bye: Chicago, Cleveland, Los Angeles Chargers, Minnesota, New England, Pittsburgh

 

 

 

— Rankings by Chris Meyers, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a member of the FSWA. Meyers' work appears on many other sites, including socalledfantasyexperts.com. Follow him on Twitter @FantsyChillpony.

Teaser:
Flex Rankings Week 9
Post date: Saturday, November 4, 2017 - 19:30
Path: /college-football/fan-removes-clothing-field-during-washington-state-stanford-game
Body:

Saturday's game between Washington State and Stanford officially produced one of the strangest plays of the 2017 college football season.

 

After a Washington State touchdown pass, a fan ran onto the field and proceeded to pull down his pants - perhaps at the Stanford defense?

 

This may seem hard to believe, but there is video evidence:

 

 

Teaser:
Fan Runs on Field, Drops His Pants During Washington State-Stanford Game
Post date: Saturday, November 4, 2017 - 17:08
Path: /nascar/aaa-texas-500-preview-fantasy-nascar-predictions-2017
Body:

It was only a matter of minutes at Martinsville Speedway. But as the laps clicked down, Chase Elliott’s career timeline hit a roller-coaster ride from dream to disaster. For a split second, he was Chase-ing his first Cup Series win, a Championship 4 appearance and a surge in national attention and popularity.

 

That’s when Denny Hamlin chased him a little too hard into Turn 3, Chase-ing those dreams into “wait until next year” territory. NASCAR, during a rough year for ratings took a hit, considering their 21-year-old has been one of the top 5 Most Popular Drivers on Twitter this year despite a winless season.

 

A consolation prize was the backstretch bumping and post-race confrontation with Hamlin seen around the country. Elliott, for the first time in his maturation stood his ground and let it be known he won’t be used as a bumper car going forward. A new rivalry was born, one that had people talking around the water coolers this week.

 

 

Over the long term, that’s great for the sport. But in the short term? The championship road ahead for Elliott appears to sit somewhere between difficult and impossible. He’ll start 34th Sunday, adding insult to injury by failing pre-qualifying inspection at Texas Motor Speedway. While the No. 24 car had a similar situation back in the spring, surging from 34th to ninth at the finish that won’t be good enough.

 

“If you get your car driving good, you can pass,” Elliott told ESPN’s Bob Pockrass. “It’s doable. We’ll see.”

 

Teammate Jimmie Johnson, who went from last to first here in the spring, has a bit better outlook, qualifying inside the top 10. But the No. 48 team of Hendrick Motorsports is also coming off a disappointing weekend, getting lapped at one point on a Martinsville track where he’s made mincemeat out of opponents for decades.

 

That leaves NASCAR’s best team over the 21st Century with their backs against the wall – again – in this current playoff format. Over the past three years, the four-car operation has only filled two of 12 spots in the Championship 4 and won the title with Johnson last year more out of survival than success. Johnson and Elliott would both be on the outside looking in if Homestead-Miami slots were awarded right now.

 

The problems, of course, run deeper than those two at HMS. Dale Earnhardt Jr. has had a miserable final season and only lately has returned to a shell of the driver he once was. Kasey Kahne was released effective the end of this season and been invisible outside of his Brickyard 400 upset. Fresh blood is coming, youngsters Alex Bowman and William Byron filling those slots, but they remain somewhat unproven on this level.

 

So the end of this year, with Toyota still surging serves as a referendum of sorts on HMS. Can the best program for Chevrolet, especially with Chip Ganassi Racing out of the picture, turn it around before it’s too late? And if they don’t, are they really be considered the best team in this sport anymore? Martin Truex Jr. and the four-car team of Joe Gibbs Racing, a program that could easily win a second title in three years would beg to differ.

 

AAA Texas 500

 

Time: Sunday, Nov. 5 at 2 p.m. ET

Track: Texas Motor Speedway (Fort Worth)

TV: NBCSN

Radio: PRN, SIRIUS XM Channel 90

 

Who’s at the Front: Kyle Busch

Busch proved the beneficiary from the Chase Elliott-Denny Hamlin and Elliott-Brad Keselowski contact down the stretch. Muscling past Hamlin on the final restart, the No. 18 Toyota became an unlikely winner after Sunday’s Martinsville mayhem.

 

But was it really all that farfetched? Busch led 184 laps on the day and overall has led 662 laps during this version of the NASCAR Playoffs. In fact, only once since Richmond in April (July’s Daytona plate race) has Busch failed to lead at least one lap in a Cup Series event. During that 25-race stretch, he’s won five times while giving Truex a run for his money atop the standings. Busch will be hard to beat at Homestead-Miami no matter how well the No. 78 and Truex run the next two weeks.

 

Who’s at the Back: Kyle Larson

A wreck at Martinsville by Larson gave him back-to-back DNFs for the first time since running for Chip Ganassi Racing in the Cup Series. That’s a span that dates back to February 2014. It looks like Playoff elimination has taken a bite out of a No. 42 team that entered the postseason a dark horse to take the title from Truex and Busch.

 

News Briefs

 

Pre-qualifying inspection woes continue to haunt NASCAR teams. A total of seven cars failed to pass Friday, leaving everyone from Round of 8 driver Chase Elliott to BK Racing cars run by rookies Corey Lajoie and Gray Gaulding without an attempt. Having 17.5 percent of the NASCAR Cup Series field on the sidelines while setting the grid is not exactly ideal for this sport.

 

Click ‘n Close became the first of what will likely be several primary sponsor deals surrounding the No. 43 and Darrell Wallace Jr. next year. Reports also surfaced this week that Smithfield will stay with the Richard Petty Motorsports team in some capacity despite moving on to Stewart-Haas Racing with driver Aric Almirola next season. The Smithfield-Almirola deal should be announced in a press conference Wednesday at SHR.

 

Darian Grubb has been announced as the crew chief for William Byron next year at HMS. Byron, finishing up his rookie season in the XFINITY Series, will slide into the car vacated by Kasey Kahne for 2018. Grubb has won 23 races as a head wrench with multiple programs and captured the 2011 championship with Tony Stewart. Grubb, of course, was best known as the guy who hung tough despite being fired by Stewart before the playoffs that year effective the end of the season. The duo still stuck by each other and defeated Carl Edwards in one of the series’ closest title races since the turn of the century.

 

NASCAR by the Numbers

 

400

Victories for the Hendrick Motorsports engine department following Johnny Sauter’s Friday night victory in the Truck Series race at Texas Motor Speedway. HMS has been providing motors within the top levels of NASCAR since 1984.

 

23

Top-10 finishes for Martin Truex Jr. over 33 Cup races this season, leading the series. No one else has more than 20.

 

Playing the Odds (Fantasy Spin)

 

Top Tier

 

It’s hard to bet against Jimmie Johnson heading to TMS. He’s won four of the last six races here, including that last-to-first outing in the spring and enters the weekend with his back against the wall. Can the No. 48 team rise to the occasion? Even if they fall short of Victory Lane, you’ve got to think a top-10 finish is virtually a guarantee.

 

Brad Keselowski has gone under the radar for many fantasy teams this week. The Team Penske driver himself claimed his No. 2 Ford didn’t have the speed at intermediate ovals to reach Victory Lane. But after a slew of sponsorship renewals this week (Discount Tire, Miller Lite) I expect this team to come out swinging. Kes has never won at TMS but does have four top-10 finishes in his last six starts at the track.

 

Related: DraftKings NASCAR Lineup Picks for AAA Texas 500

 

Middle Tier

 

How about Roush Fenway Racing? Teammates Trevor Bayne and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. ran 13th and 14th, respectively, at Texas this spring. Both men have combined for five top-20 finishes in their last six TMS starts. And the pressure of the NASCAR Playoffs is off for Stenhouse, driving for a No. 17 team that’s overachieved this season. I think these Fords are in building mode for 2018 and Sunday gives them a chance to strut their stuff.

 

Underdog Tier

 

Danica, Danica, Danica. I really feel like Patrick has the motivation to end the season strong and was running well in the second half until a few wrecks put a damper on her performances in recent weeks. She’s qualified 14th for this race, the second-best effort of her career at Texas Motor Speedway, and has the benefit of learning from teammate Kurt Busch and his pole-winning setup. Yes, Patrick has never run better than 16th here, but I expect a career-high performance come Sunday.

 

What Vegas Thinks

Not surprisingly, Martin Truex Jr. and Kyle Busch lead the betting lines. Truex was 5/2 and Busch 9/2 to win at Texas at last check.

 

What I Think

How many years have we bet against Jimmie Johnson only for the No. 48 team to come through? I’m not doing that this weekend. Expect the seven-time champ to reassert himself and punch his Homestead ticket in a bid for a record setting eighth Cup title.

 

— Written by Tom Bowles, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and the Majority Owner of NASCAR Web site Frontstretch.com. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @NASCARBowles.

 

(Top photo courtesy of NASCAR.com)

Teaser:
AAA Texas 500 Preview and Fantasy NASCAR Predictions
Post date: Saturday, November 4, 2017 - 13:30
Path: /nascar/draftkings-nascar-lineup-picks-aaa-texas-500-2017
Body:

DraftKings’ daily fantasy NASCAR heads to Texas Motor Speedway this weekend for the AAA Texas 500. This race marks the second event of the Round of 8 in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoffs. The green flag flies Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

 

Here are eight drivers to keep an eye on this weekend when setting your DraftKings lineups, courtesy Frontstretch.com's Corey Brewer.

 

 

ELITE TIER: $9,500 and up

 

Martin Truex Jr. ($11,000)

Texas: 24 starts, three top fives (12.5 percent), 13 top 10s (54.2 percent)

Average finish at Texas: 13.6

 

Truex’s 2017 season has been the most dominant in NASCAR Cup Series history when it comes to intermediate tracks. He has six wins on 1.5-mile ovals this season, posting an average finish of 2.8. Because of that, he has all but locked himself into the Championship 4 race at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Truex enters the weekend with a full race lead over fifth place in the standings and starts Sunday's race inside the top 10.

 

Truex has five straight top-10 finishes at Texas and has led laps in three straight races there. It’s easy to assume there is another impressive performance on the horizon.

 

Kevin Harvick ($9,800)

Texas: 29 starts, seven top fives (24.1 percent), 17 top 10s (58.6 percent)

Average finish at Texas: 11.7

 

Harvick has yet to win at Texas but has the fourth-best average finish among all active drivers (11.7). He has six straight top-10 finishes at the track, including four inside the top five. Harvick started on the pole at the speedway back in April and led 77 laps in a fourth-place effort.

 

Harvick currently has the points to make Miami and will need a good finish to maintain that position. Add in a top-10 start and there's plenty of proof the No. 4 car should be a Sunday contender.

 

Jimmie Johnson ($9,600)

Texas: 28 starts, seven wins, 15 top fives (53.6 percent), 21 top 10s (75 percent)

Average finish at Texas: 8.1

 

There are six drivers fighting for the final two final playoff spots at Homestead, and Johnson is one of them. The seven-time Cup champion is currently three points below the cutline and may need a win in order to ensure a spot in the Championship 4. Misfortune from the other drivers could be helpful as well if Johnson plans to capture his eighth championship in a mediocre year for the No. 48.

 

Luckily, Texas is a great track for Johnson to do just that. He won at Texas earlier in the season, his fourth victory in the last six races at the track. In that event, he started 24th and led 18 laps.

 

Johnson is the all-time wins leader at Texas with seven wins in 28 starts. He also holds the record for the most top-five finishes (15), top-10 results (21) and laps led (1,041). It's hard to bet against a man as accomplished as this one inside the Round of 8.

 

ALL-STAR TIER: $8,000 – $9,400

 

Joey Logano ($9,400)

Texas: 18 starts, one win, eight top fives (44.4 percent), eight top 10s (44.4 percent)

Average finish at Texas: 15.8

 

Logano was in position for a solid finish last weekend at Martinsville before a tire rub sent him spinning in the final moments. He led 59 laps from the pole and had a fast racecar all weekend before fading to 24th.

 

Logano has three straight podium finishes at Texas and has earned five top-five finishes in the last seven races at the track. He also led 178 laps in this race in 2016, finishing in the runner-up position en route to the Championship 4.

 

Another bid for the title has already fallen far short this year. But Logano has bounced back as of late and will look to play spoiler this weekend.

 

Chase Elliott ($9,100)

Texas: Three starts, two top fives, three top 10s

Average finish at Texas: 6.0

 

Elliott was fighting for the victory at Martinsville last weekend until his run-in with Denny Hamlin. He has yet to win this season or in his young Cup career. That said, he is still holding out hope for the 2017 series championship. The sophomore driver is in a win-only mindset heading into Texas, 26 points below the final transfer spot.

 

Elliott has finished inside the top five at all three 1.5-mile tracks since the playoffs began, two of which were second-place results. At Texas, he has top-10 finishes in all three of his starts at the track. He finished ninth in April after starting way back in 33rd; that means you should shrug off Friday's 34th-place starting spot after failing pre-qualifying inspection.

 

Elliott showed a new, aggressive side to his driving style last weekend. Expect that to continue and only grow this Sunday if he's chasing a win during the final stage.

 

Kasey Kahne ($8,200)

Texas: 26 starts, one win, five top fives (19.2 percent), nine top 10s (34.6 percent)

Average finish at Texas: 18.2

 

Kahne has been electric over the past two seasons at Texas. He finished eighth in the spring of 2015 and was eighth again in both starts last season. It's a guy whose bread-and-butter over the years has always been intermediate ovals the size of this track.

 

It's been a difficult NASCAR playoff for Kahne, who is leaving Hendrick Motorsports after the season. But even as a lame duck, he has top-10 potential this weekend no matter the starting spot.

 

BARGAIN TIER: $4,500 – $7,900

 

Dale Earnhardt Jr. ($7,900)

Texas: 29 starts, one win, seven top fives (24.1 percent), 18 top 10s (62.1 percent)

Average finish at Texas: 13.1

 

Texas Motor Speedway was the destination for Earnhardt’s first Cup win back in 2000, and it very well could be the same for his last. NASCAR's Most Popular Driver has been great there ever since he first rolled out onto the track. While Junior hasn’t had the most storybook ending to a storied career, his only 2017 top-five finish came at TMS back in April (fifth).

 

Earnhardt has finished five out of the last six Texas races inside the top six, although he's done so without leading a single lap. In the last five, he started each race from 10th or worse only to race up towards the front.

 

Earnhardt could be a great sleeper pick this weekend. Position differential potential is also in play after a 17th-place qualifying effort.

 

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. ($7,800)

Texas: Nine starts, two top 15s, five top 20s

Average finish at Texas: 20.8

 

Stenhouse has been inconsistent at intermediate tracks this season and over his career. However, Texas has told another story for the No. 17 team.

 

Stenhouse, coming off a NASCAR playoff appearance has finishes of 16th or better in three straight races at the track. That should be more than enough from a back-end-of-the-lineup driver, even though he starts 12th.

 

 

Pre-Qualifying Optimal Lineup Example:

 

(Top photo courtesy of ASP, Inc.)

Teaser:
DraftKings NASCAR Lineup Picks: AAA Texas 500
Post date: Saturday, November 4, 2017 - 13:00
All taxonomy terms: NFL, Fantasy
Path: /fantasy/five-up-five-down-aaron-jones-vernon-davis-cam-newton-will-fuller-week-9-2017
Body:

With six teams on a bye this week (again), finding a solid starting lineup can be tough for fantasy owners as we get ready for Week 9. Add in injuries to a number of skill players and deciding who to play where is going to be a challenge. However, plenty of good matchups can be exploited. In addition, injuries to some players mean a clear path to playing time for others. This list takes all of that into account, as well as past performance.

 

At the end of the column is the full disclosure, listing how well last week's picks performed. Please note that 5 Up/5 Down is a guide on players that should exceed or fall below their rank this week. This is based on past performance, injury status and matchup. This is not a start/sit column, rather a guide.

 

5 Up

 

Jameis Winston, QB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Given Winston's performance last week, it is hard to trust him as a QB1 this week. He is ranked No. 14, just outside QB1 territory, but he has a great matchup against the Saints. Winston was dealing with a shoulder injury and didn't even throw in practice until Friday last week. This week, however, he was able to throw in practice all week and even put in a full practice on Friday. He should bounce back on the road playing indoors against New Orleans.

 

Aaron Jones, RB, Green Bay Packers

After turning 17 carries into 131 yards and a touchdown in Week 7 before the bye, Jones is a must-start running back this week. He's ranked No. 10 but he could easily exceed that. Brett Hundley isn't going to throw the ball for a win, so the Packers are going to have to rely on their running game. The team has been getting away from using Ty Montgomery, so it's the Aaron Jones show this week (Packers play Monday night) and for the rest of the season.

 

Adrian Peterson, RB, Arizona Cardinals

While Peterson - and the entire Cardinals offense was a disappointment in Week 7 (before the bye), the team only gave him 11 carries and Carson Palmer was knocked out of the game. It's the Drew Stanton show in Arizona now, and similar to Green Bay, this offense is not going to rely on the quarterback. The Cardinals have said they are going to feed Peterson this week. He is ranked No. 13 but should exceed that ranking.

 

Devin Funchess, WR, Carolina Panthers

Even though (spoiler alert) Cam Newton is on the "5 Down" list, his No. 1 receiver is on the "5 Up" list. The reason being that there really is no one else to throw the ball to. Curtis Samuel and Russell Shepard are the other pass catchers on the team now that Kelvin Benjamin is with Buffalo. Funchess has been a boom-or-bust receiver, with three touchdowns and no 100-yard games, but this is his chance. He's ranked No. 30 but should exceed that.

 

Vernon Davis, TE, Washington Redskins

With Jordan Reed already ruled out, Davis will be the starting tight end for the Redskins. The matchup against the Seahawks, on paper, is a tough one. However, Earl Thomas has been ruled out, which helps both Kirk Cousins and Davis. Cousins looks for his tight end often. In Week 3 when Reed was out, Davis had five receptions for 58 yards and a touchdown. He is ranked No. 11, but should be a TE1 this week.

 

5 Down

 

Cam Newton, QB, Carolina Panthers

Aside for two weeks in the middle of the season, Newton has been a disappointment. He has thrown for less than 240 yards in the past three games. He has two touchdowns and six interceptions in that span. Newton faces Atlanta in Week 9, which isn't a terrible matchup, but it's just hard to trust him. He's now without Kelvin Benjamin and Greg Olsen, leaving him Devin Funchess and two receivers who have yet to have more than two receptions in a game to throw to. Newton will get yards from Christian McCaffrey, but he should fall out of the top 10 this week.

 

C.J. Anderson, RB, Denver Broncos

Despite having 15 carries for 78 yards in Week 8, Anderson has fallen out of fantasy favor. He's ranked No. 19 this week, but Devontae Booker is back and is taking work away from him. Jamaal Charles has always been in the picture, but now with Booker, Anderson's role drops even further. The Broncos face the Eagles in Week 9, who allow the sixth-fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs.

 

Alshon Jeffrey, WR, Philadelphia Eagles

The Denver Broncos give up the second-fewest fantasy points to opposing wide receivers, and that is who Jeffrey faces in Week 9. While Carson Wentz has been great lately, a lot of his points come from finding Zach Ertz, not Jeffrey. With Nelson Agholor still in the mix, Jeffrey is in for a rough outing in Week 9. He's ranked No. 19, but he easily can fall out of the top 20. In a week with six teams on a bye, he's still a WR3, just not the WR1 that fantasy owners have expected this year.

 

Will Fuller, WR, Houston Texans

Deshaun Watson's season-ending injury obviously changes the outlook for any Texans pass catcher, and this may especially be the case for Fuller. As great as Fuller has been this season, he isn't going to get to his No. 18 ranking this week without Watson. Tom Savage will be under center, which drastically lowers Fuller's value. He's had 13 receptions this season and seven touchdowns in that span. Clearly, those numbers weren't sustainable for the season, but losing Watson will put an end to that streak.

 

Tyler Kroft, TE, Cincinnati Bengals 

With Tyler Eifert out for the season, Kroft has stepped onto the fantasy radar. In the past four games, he's had at least four receptions. He's added three touchdowns in that span as well. However, in Week 9, he faces the Jacksonville Jaguars, which has a tough pass defense. They haven't allowed a tight end to have more than 61 yards, although they have allowed three touchdown catches to the position. Kroft is ranked No. 12, but he is a TE2.

 

Full Disclosure, Week 8:
 

5 Up

Derek Carr, QB, Oakland Raiders (Ranked: 15, Actual: 16)

Joe Mixon, RB, Cincinnati Bengals (Ranked: 11, Actual: 20)

Christian McCaffrey, RB, Carolina Panthers (Ranked: 19, Actual: 36)

Nelson Agholor, WR, Philadelphia Eagles (Ranked: 23, Actual: 51)

Jack Doyle, TE, Indianapolis Colts (Ranked: 13, Actual: 2)

 

5 Down

Matt Ryan, QB, Atlanta Falcons (Ranked: 9, Actual: 11)

Doug Martin, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Ranked: 12, Actual: 25)

Dez Bryant, WR, Dallas Cowboys (Ranked: 6, Actual: 39)

Will Fuller, WR, Houston Texans (Ranked: 27, Actual: 3)

Jordan Reed, TE, Washington Redskins (Ranked: 7, Actual: 46)

 

— Written by Sarah Lewis, who is part of the Athlon Contributor network and lives, eats, and breathes fantasy football. She also writes for SoCalledFantasyExperts.com among other sites. Have a fantasy football question? Send it to her on Twitter @Sarah_Lewis32.

 

(Top photo courtesy of www.houstontexans.com)

Teaser:
Fantasy Football 5 Up, 5 Down: Aaron Jones, Vernon Davis Up; Cam Newton, Will Fuller Down for Week 9
Post date: Saturday, November 4, 2017 - 06:00
All taxonomy terms: Danica Patrick, NASCAR, Life
Path: /life/danica-patrick-raises-migraine-awareness
Body:

Danica Patrick is an accomplished race car driver, model, spokesperson and author. She’s one of only 14 drivers ever to lead laps in both the Indianapolis 500 and Daytona 500. But Patrick, 35, is also one of over 38 million Americans suffering from migraine attacks.

 

“I remember when I first started getting [migraine attacks], I didn’t know what was happening to me,” Patrick says. “They’re so different than a headache. They are usually a 48-hour transition period. I get to the point where I even feel nauseous. There’s been plenty of times on where I’m laying on the couch in the living room just trying to figure out what can I do to feel better.”

 

Despite the fact that roughly 12 percent of the U.S. population suffers from the neurological disease, migraine misinformation remains rampant. Patrick has teamed with the Excedrin Works campaign (excedrin.com/migraines) to raise awareness about a disease that significantly impacts the workplace, resulting in an estimated 113 million missed work days and $13 billion lost annually.

 

Unlike other common ailments such as diabetes or heart disease, overall health does not appear to be a factor when it comes to susceptibility to migraines. Even a workout warrior and diet-obsessed athlete like Patrick is at risk.

 

“I would go so far as to say I don’t know anyone that eats healthier than me,” says Patrick, who has a food and fitness book, Pretty Intense, coming out in December. “I eat a lot of fruits, vegetables, grass-fed, quality, wild-caught proteins, nuts and seeds. And I generally follow a paleo diet. The only kind of sugars that I add into my diet are honey and maple syrup, and natural ones with fruit.”

 

Patrick takes precautionary steps to minimize the frequency of her migraine attacks. She has had an MRI and environmental allergy testing. She abides by a consistent meal and sleep routine. She abstains from alcohol or exercise when she feels a migraine coming on. Now she is raising awareness on the volatile and unpredictable nature of the disease.

 

“I wish I had all the answers to what is always going to trigger a migraine,” says Patrick. “It’s not 100 percent. I don’t always know. I just try and do what I can.”

 

Symptoms

“Migraine is characterized by episodes of neurologic symptoms,” says Dr. Elizabeth Seng, a headache researcher and clinical psychologist. “Migraine pain is typically on one side of your head. It’s moderate to severe, it pulses, and it gets worse with physical activity. Other symptoms can include nausea and vomiting, sensitivity to light and sound, as well as sensitivity to other sensations like smell and touch. Many people with migraine experience cognitive changes. Difficulty thinking. A little bit of confusion.”

 

Triggers

For migraine sufferers, there are a variety of factors that might “trigger” an attack.

 

• Lack of food/water

• Lack of sleep

• Increased stress

• Harsh lighting

• Strong smells

• Loud sounds

• Hormonal changes

 

Management

“It’s really important to catch these attacks early. And many people with migraine report waiting until the end of the next meeting or the end of the next phone call or just get through a few more emails. But by that point, the migraine may be in a full-blown attack. It’s much harder to treat at that point,” says Seng.

 

“In general, if you’re having a headache and you don’t know what it is, you should talk to your doctor and make sure that you have the right diagnosis. Especially if your headache came on suddenly, or you had headaches for a long time and it suddenly changed.”

Teaser:
Danica Patrick is one of 38 million Americans suffering from migraine attacks.
Post date: Friday, November 3, 2017 - 15:23
Path: /nfl/sunday-night-football-oakland-raiders-vs-miami-dolphins-preview-and-prediction-2017
Body:

Both the Oakland Raiders and the Miami Dolphins will be looking to get back on track when they meet down in South Florida for “Sunday Night Football.”

 

The Raiders (3-5) lost to the Bills 34-14 on the road last Sunday. Oakland put up 367 yards of total offense, including 313 passing from Derek Carr, bur four turnovers and 151 rushing yards by Buffalo running back LeSean McCoy were too much to overcome. Oakland has now lost five of its past six games.

 

The Dolphins (4-3), however, fared even worse last week, getting shutout by the Ravens 40-0 on Thursday night. Miami mustered just 196 total yards of offense as backup quarterback Matt Moore was picked off twice. Both of those interceptions were returned for touchdowns and Baltimore’s defense also scored on a fumble return. The loss snapped the Dolphins' three-game winning streak.

 

This will be the first time these teams have met since 2012. The regular season series between Oakland and Miami is tied at 16-16-1.

 

Oakland at Miami

 

Kickoff: Sunday, Nov. 5 at 8:30 p.m. ET

TV Channel: NBC

Spread: Oakland -3

 

Three Things to Watch

 

1. Marshawn Lynch

Lynch (above, right) will be back after his one-game suspension for leaving the bench and pushing an official in Oakland’s Week 7 win against Kansas City. Besides returning to action, Lynch also will look to get his production back on track.

 

Prior to being ejected in the game against the Chiefs, Lynch had just nine rushing yards on two carries. For the season, he’s averaging just 3.7 yards per carry and hasn’t run for more than 76 yards in any game.

 

Miami has done a good job against the run to this point, giving up just 95.4 rushing yards per game. So facing a defensive line consisting of Ndamukong Suh and Cameron Wake may not be the best way to get Lynch going, but the Raiders need to get more from their running game.

 

2. Dolphins’ offense

Miami enters Sunday night ranked last in the NFL in both total (252.4 ypg) and scoring offense (13.1 ppg). Things hopefully bottomed out last week when the Dolphins managed just 196 total yards (only 45 rushing) against the Ravens while getting shut out for the second time this season (Week 4 vs. New Orleans in London).

 

Jay Cutler will be back at quarterback after missing the Baltimore game because of cracked ribs. Prior to the injury, Miami had averaged 25.5 points per game in the last two Cutler started.

 

Oakland’s defense is 26th in the league in yards allowed per game (356.9) while surrendering 24 points per contest. As bad as the Dolphins looked last week, there should be opportunities to move the ball against the Raiders.

One thing that bears watching is how the running game fares for Miami following the trade of Jay Ajayi to Philadelphia. Damien Williams is listed as the starter on the depth chart, but expect Kenyan Drake to get his chances as well. The two have combined for just 57 yards on 22 carries (2.6 ypc) thus far.

 

3. Khalil Mack

Last week, Miami gave up three sacks to Baltimore as the Ravens were able to put pressure on Matt Moore all game. Besides throwing for just 176 yards, Moore completed 25 of his 44 attempts and also tossed two pick-sixes.

 

For the season, the Dolphins have done a decent job protecting the quarterback with just 16 sacks allowed (tied for 12th), but this week the offensive line will face one of the best pass rushers in the league in Mack (right). In eight games, Mack’s sack numbers may be down (4.5) through eight games, but the reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year is still having an impact.


If anything, Mack continually demands a double team on every play. So it will be important for the Miami’s protection schemes to account for him, while also looking out for another Oakland defender that may benefit from the extra attention Mack draws.

 

Final Analysis

 

Both the Raiders and Dolphins made the playoffs after lengthy postseason droughts last season. While both teams have struggled this season, they each will be looking to spearhead a playoff run during the second half of their schedules.

 

Despite losing last week, Oakland quarterback Derek Carr threw for 313 yards against Buffalo. Statistically, Miami has held up well against the pass (210.9 ypg), but the Falcons, Jets and Ravens were each able to pick up some big yards through the air on certain plays too.

 

Carr has turned the ball over some this season, but look for him to get back to the quarterback that completed 88.3 percent of passes that went at least 15 yards for two touchdowns and no interceptions in his first two games, as opposed to the 31.3 completion percentage and three TDs with four interceptions since then.

 

Prediction: Raiders 28, Dolphins 17

 

— Written by Antwan Staley, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and has extensive experience covering Florida sports teams. Staley has written for Bleacher Report, the Miami Herald and the Palm Beach Post and is a reporter for Pro Player Insiders. Follow him on Twitter @antwanstaley.

 

(Top photo courtesy of www.miamidolphins.com)

Teaser:
Sunday Night Football: Oakland Raiders vs. Miami Dolphins Preview and Prediction
Post date: Friday, November 3, 2017 - 15:00
All taxonomy terms: NFC, Seattle Seahawks, Washington Redskins, NFL
Path: /nfl/washington-redskins-vs-seattle-seahawks-preview-and-prediction-2017
Body:

CenturyLink Field has been the home of some wild finishes in its 15 years of existence. Last Sunday, was the latest chapter as the Seattle Seahawks (5-2) rallied to defeat the Houston Texans 41-38 in a good, old-fashioned Wild West shootout. Russell Wilson bounced back from a late interception to execute a game-winning, three-play, 80-yard touchdown drive to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. Now, what will Wilson and company do for an encore this Sunday afternoon when they take on the Washington Redskins (3-4)?

 

For the Seahawks, it was their ability to create big plays with Wilson in the passing game as he completed 26 of 41 attempts for 452 yards and four touchdowns. This epic performance by Wilson and the receiving corps overshadowed a running game that could not get anything going against Houston’s defense. Jadeveon Clowney in particular was living in the Seattle backfield all day long as the offensive line had zero chance of slowing him down. Defensively, the game played out as expected as Deshaun Watson threw for more than 400 yards and the Legion of Boom created a couple of key turnovers to hold off the Texans.

 

Washington comes into this game in a must-win situation with Philadelphia pulling away in the NFC East race. The Redskins lost 33-19 last week at home to the Cowboys in a game that was played in a driving rain storm. Kirk Cousins completed 26 of 39 passes for 263 yards, a touchdown and an interception. The inability to run the ball was a problem for the Redskins as well, as they mustered just 49 yards on 15 carries. Turnovers were another problem, finishing minus-two against Dallas. Ball security is going to be important moving forward for Washington with little margin for error.

 

Washington at Seattle

 

Kickoff: Sunday, Nov. 5 at 4:05 p.m. ET

TV Channel: FOX

Spread: Seattle -7

 

Three Things to Watch

 

1. Seahawks’ offensive line with Duane Brown

After another rough week of running the football, Seahawks general manager John Schneider acquired left tackle Duane Brown in a trade with Houston. A three-time Pro Bowler, Brown will immediately upgrade an offensive line that has been an issue the last few seasons. Seattle took the Walmart style approach when it came to the offensive line for as long as the team could afford. In the end, they had no choice but to pay a Tesla Model X type price in draft pick compensation to get Brown as the road to the Super Bowl coming out of the NFC is wide open. The running game should benefit from Brown’s addition with Eddie Lacy set to get the first opportunity as the primary ball carrier. If Lacy struggles look for Thomas Rawls and J.D. McKissic to get their shot at staking their claim to the No. 1 role.

 

2. Kirk Cousins and the Redskins’ passing game

Cousins, will make his first appearance in front of the 12s which will be interesting to see how patient he will be with the football when he drops back to pass. Jamison Crowder and Chris Thompson figure to be busy on Sunday given Washington’s issues running the football. Crowder should have opportunities for chunk plays against the Seahawks’ secondary, which got exposed numerous times last week against Houston, and Thompson will get his chances catching the ball out of the backfield. The screen pass can be a very powerful weapon against a fierce pass rush and expect Seattle to push the envelope and bring the heat all afternoon long. If the Seahawks can’t make tackles in open space, it increases the Redskins’ chances of staying in this game and stealing a win on the road.

 

3. Life without Earl Thomas

Thomas is arguably the most valuable player on the Seahawks roster, let alone the defense. Thus, if Thomas is out with a hamstring injury this week (did not practice Wednesday or Thursday) the pressure will be cranked up on the rest of the secondary to make up for his absence. Bradley McDougald is expected to take Thomas’ place in the lineup if he is unavailable. McDougald, has been a special teams ace so far in 2017 as he leads the team with seven special teams tackles on the season. In addition, McDougald stepped up in a big way covering Giants tight end Evan Engram two weeks ago in Seattle’s 24-7 win. Another thing that will ease the transition for McDougald will be a healthy Kam Chancellor, who should be able to pick up the slack should Thomas not be able to play.

 

Final Analysis

 

On paper, this game looks like it should be a convincing win for the Seahawks. However, Seattle has only gone 3-4 against the Vegas point spread this season so all bets are off as far as how this game unfolds. The running game will be the difference-maker as the Seahawks have not imposed their will on opponents on the ground this season. If Eddie Lacy or one of the other running backs can provide a spark behind a new-look offensive line, Seattle should win going away. For Washington, the Redskins need to stay patient on offense and not turn the ball over in order to keep the game close. Expect that to be the case in the first half before the Seahawks pull away in the third and fourth quarters for a two-score victory and extend their winning streak to five in a row.

 

Prediction: Seahawks 31, Redskins 20

 

— Written by Scott Whittum, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and writes for College Sports Madness, covering college football, basketball, softball and baseball. Follow Scott on Twitter @ScottWhittum.

Teaser:
Washington Redskins vs. Seattle Seahawks Preview and Prediction
Post date: Friday, November 3, 2017 - 13:00
All taxonomy terms: Dallas Cowboys, Kansas City Chiefs, NFL
Path: /nfl/kansas-city-chiefs-vs-dallas-cowboys-preview-and-prediction-2017
Body:

Thanks to a temporary stay granted by a federal court Friday morning, Dallas will have star running back Ezekiel Elliott on Sunday for its home game against Kansas City in the latest development involving his on-again, off-again six-game suspension. That could be bad news for the Chiefs, who are tied for the best record in the AFC at 6-2 but haven’t looked as dominant recently as they did during their 5-0 start.

 

With Elliott in the backfield, Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott proving his stellar rookie season was no fluke, and one of the best offensive lines in the NFL, Dallas should be able to move the ball against a defense that ranks 28th in the NFL against both the run and the pass and 30th in yards allowed per game.

 

The Cowboys’ defense has the task of trying to slow down a Kansas City offense that ranks third in both scoring and total offense and is averaging 34.5 points per game on the road this season. But the way both the Chiefs' offense and the Cowboys' defense are trending indicates things may swing the home team’s way.

 

Kansas City at Dallas

 

Kickoff: Sunday, Nov. 5 at 4:25 p.m. ET

TV Channel: CBS

Spread: Chiefs -1

 

Three Things to Watch

 

1. After fast start, the Chiefs have slowed

Over the first five weeks of the season, the Chiefs' offense looked so good that some were wondering if they would ever lose. But then the Steelers held them to 251 total yards and 13 points at Arrowhead. Last week, the Chiefs totaled only 276 yards against Denver and scored only one offensive touchdown. They won 29–19, thanks in part to their defense forcing five turnovers. In between those games was a 31–30 loss to Oakland, but even in that shootout there was a red flag: only 94 yards rushing against a defense that just got gashed for 166 by the Bills. Some of the drop-off can certainly be attributed to injuries along the offensive line, but there’s no denying the Chiefs need to find a way to get Kareem Hunt (above, right) going again. The rookie back topped 100 yards rushing in four of his first five games but has only 154 total in the last three. He’s also gone five weeks without a touchdown after scoring six times in his first three NFL games.

 

2. Will Ezekiel Elliott make the most of his latest reprieve?

At the start of the season, Elliott was making more headlines for what was happening off of the field involving his appeal of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s six-game suspension rather than what he was doing on it. But that’s what happens when you run for a total of 173 yards in Weeks 2-4 combined. Since then, however, Elliott has picked things up considerably. In his last three games, Elliott has piled up 413 yards and four touchdowns. He enters this game third in the league in rushing at 690 yards, just 73 behind Hunt for the league lead. Kansas City is near the bottom of the NFL in rushing defense, allowing 131.1 yards per game (28th). Every team that the Chiefs have faced except one (Oakland in Week 7) has gained at least 107 yards on the ground. That’s not a good sign considering Elliott’s recent performances, as he seems to be approaching every game lately as it could be his last.

 

3. Dallas must take care of the ball

Obviously this could be a key for every NFL game, but it’s even more important when facing a team like the Chiefs that rarely turns the ball over (tied for fewest giveaways in the NFL with three). The Cowboys have also been pretty good at avoiding turnovers (eight so far, 10th-best in the NFL), but they have given the ball away seven times in their three losses. While the Dallas defense has tightened up since the bye, allowed fewer than 300 yards in back-to-back wins, it has also forced six turnovers in those two games. The Cowboys can’t count on gifts like that from Kansas City.

 

Final Analysis

 

Prior to Friday, it appeared that Kansas City would catch a break and not have to worry about facing Ezekiel Elliott. A federal court changed that, however, and now the Chiefs must adjust their defensive game plans on short notice. This team also is pretty banged up (wideouts Dee Ford and Albert Wilson both hadn’t practiced as of Thursday, and leading sacker Justin Houston has been limited) right now. Besides having Elliott for at least one more game, it feels like the Cowboys are some bad turnover luck from being 6-1 right now; before the bye they lost back-to-back home games despite scoring 30 and 31 points thanks to five giveaways. As long as Dallas takes care of the ball, the home team should be able to take care of business.

 

Prediction: Cowboys 30, Chiefs 24

Teaser:
Kansas City Chiefs vs. Dallas Cowboys Preview and Prediction
Post date: Friday, November 3, 2017 - 11:30
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy Football, start or sit, Fantasy
Path: /fantasy/start-em-sit-em-week-9-2017-alvin-kamara-and-other-rb-start-sit-fantasy-advice
Body:

Ameer Abdullah: Start 'em, Sit 'em Week 9Big-time fantasy names keep dotting the top of the leaderboard for running backs. Ezekiel Elliot (who got another last-minute reprieve from the courts) and LeSean McCoy led the way in scoring in Week 8, while Melvin Gordon and Lamar Miller continued to prove their RB1-worth with top-five performances.

 

With all the Week 9 byes, there are probably some lineup spots that need to be filled this week. Here are those running backs you should trust and those you may want to consider leaving on the bench, as tough as that might be with so many teams on bye.

 

Good Calls for Week 8...

Start Alvin Kamara (16.6 fantasy points) – In a week where six teams were on bye, Kamara came through huge for fantasy owners.

 

Sit Thomas Rawls and Eddie Lacy (-0.1 FP combined) – The Seahawks are terrible at running the football and the way Russell Wilson is playing, they don’t need to run it.

 

Bad Calls for Week 8...

Sit Isaiah Crowell (15.8 FP) – Crowell has done nothing all year, and finally, in London of all places, he has a decent game and scored a touchdown against a stout Vikings defense.

 

Start Jay Ajayi (4.1 FP) – Are the Dolphins really better off with Jay Cutler under center than Matt Moore?

 

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

 

Teams on bye: Chicago, Cleveland, Los Angeles Chargers, Minnesota, New England, Pittsburgh

 

Running Backs

 

START THESE RBs...

 

Ameer Abdullah, DET (at GB, Mon.)

His 11 rushes for 27 yards could scare you away, but game flow can lead to a better production from Abdullah. If the Lions get out to an early lead against the Packers, which they should, we may see Detroit try to eat up the clock with Abdullah, and to a lesser extent, Theo Riddick. I want to believe. All the coaching staff needs to is give Abdullah a few goal-line carries and everything is just fine.

 

Doug Martin, TB (at NO)

New Orleans is giving up some ground this year, allowing 4.9 yards per carry and more than 130 rushing yards per game. Martin’s been featured by the Bucs every week since he’s come back from serving his suspension, and he’s guaranteed at least 15 touches against the Saints. Roll him out confidently as an RB2 with RB1 upside.

 

Alvin Kamara, NO (vs. TB)

Mark Ingram fumbled twice last week and got benched for the last drive in favor of Kamara. Head coach Sean Payton already has a dislike for Ingram, and two fumbles sure don’t help his cause. So, given the history, there is a good chance Payton starts Kamara this week. More importantly, Drew Brees will throw the ball a lot against Tampa Bay. Kamara is often further downfield than the wide receivers on passing plays. He has as good a chance at going over 100 receiving yards as Michael Thomas or Ted Ginn Jr. Start Kamara.

 

MIGHT BE WORTH THE RISK...

 

Joe Mixon, CIN (at JAC)

The Bengals’ game plan should focus on attacking the league's worst rushing defense on Sunday. Fantasy owners should anticipate minimal pass attempts for quarterback Andy Dalton and at least 20 touches for Mixon. Despite a dip in workload over the past two weeks, he eclipsed 100 yards from scrimmage for the second time against the Colts last week. Mixon leads the Bengals’ backfield in carries (85) and receptions (17). Expect him to see a high volume of touches in a conservative offensive approach against an aggressive defense. He's a must-start player in Week 9.

 

SIT THESE RBs...

 

Adrian Peterson, ARI (at SF)

Maybe Bruce Arians and the Cardinals got things right after their bye, but with Drew Stanton under center, how can you expect anything less than eight men in the box at all times, ready to stuff AP? It’s a sad situation. The comeback lasted for one game.

 

Devonta Freeman, ATL (at CAR)

Atlanta looks to get back in the NFC South race this week with its first divisional game.  Over the first eight weeks, Freeman has put together the quietest top-10 fantasy performance in the league. He is averaging 4.5 yards per carry, but inexplicably has averaged just 11 carries per game over his last three. The Falcons’ offensive identity has yet to be determined under coordinator Steve Sarkisian, but limited carries and the third-stingiest fantasy defense of the Carolina Panthers make Freeman a tough start in Week 9.

 

C.J. Anderson, DEN (at PHI)

Denver is turning to Brock Osweiler at quarterback, so Anderson’s value could go back up. But the Broncos seem to be moving toward a full-blown running back-by-committee with Anderson ceding more touches each week to Jamaal Charles and Devontae Booker. That will make achieving a fantasy-relevant day even harder against Philadelphia’s top-five rushing defense.

 

— Written by Michael Horvath, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Horvath is a Canadian who also happens to be a fantasy football (not to be confused with CFL) and fitness nut. Follow him on Twitter @realmikehorvath.

 

(Top photo by Michael C. Herbert, courtesy of www.neworleanssaints.com)

Teaser:
Start 'em, Sit 'em Week 9: Alvin Kamara and Other RB Start/Sit Fantasy Advice
Post date: Friday, November 3, 2017 - 11:30
Path: /fantasy/wide-receiver-rankings-week-9-fantasy-football-2017
Body:

Wide Receiver Rankings Week 9: DeAndre Hopkins

Week 9 of the fantasy football season is here and it’s the last of the big (read: six teams) bye weeks, which dilutes the wide receiver pool (and rankings) somewhat.

 

Last week we saw the apparent fantasy demise of both Terrelle Pryor and Martavis Bryant while Houston’s duo of DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller continued to enjoy life with Deshaun Watson at quarterback. Unfortunately, Watson tore his ACL in practice on Thursday, which changes the outlook of the duo moving forward. The Texans have a good matchup against the Colts’ soft secondary, but will it matter with Tom Savage now in at quarterback?

 

Julio Jones still has the big name and tremendous ceiling so he remains in the top five, but this season has been beyond disappointing, not that his owners have much choice. The touchdowns simply haven’t been there and as for this week, Carolina’s defense has been pretty solid this season. But Jones has had some big games against the Panthers before so you never know.

 

Elsewhere, Willie Snead appears to be out of the picture in New Orleans, and owners who were patient, or spent FAAB on him may be ready to cut ties. I certainly wouldn’t start him with any confidence this week.

 

Robby Anderson seems to be building a nice bond with Josh McCown after hauling in six catches for 104 yards and a touchdown in Week 8. He climbs the rankings as a top weapon for the Jets along with tight end Austin Sefarian-Jenkins.

 

And will Corey Davis return and make an impact in Week 9 for the Titans? His owners certainly hope so, but for this week he’s probably just a flex option.

 

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

 

Teams on bye: Chicago, Cleveland, Los Angeles Chargers, Minnesota, New England, Pittsburgh

 

 

 

— Rankings by Chris Meyers, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a member of the FSWA. Meyers' work appears on many other sites, including socalledfantasyexperts.com. Follow him on Twitter @FantsyChillpony.

Teaser:
Wide Receiver Rankings Week 9
Post date: Friday, November 3, 2017 - 11:30
Path: /fantasy/running-back-rankings-week-9-fantasy-football-2017
Body:

Ezekiel Elliott: Running Back Rankings Week 9

With Le’Veon Bell on a bye this week, the Week 9 fantasy running back rankings look quite different. However, an unexpected development leaves us with a guy in the No. 1 spot we didn’t think would play – Ezekiel Elliott.

 

Friday morning’s court ruling gives Elliott at least one more game and he immediately vaults to the top thanks to his strong play recently (413 rushing yards over last three games). Also, for the first time this season there are two rookie running backs in the top tier. To find out who these are and where new Eagle Jay Ajayi, as well as the Dolphins’ reshuffled backfield falls, be sure to check out the full Week 9 rankings below.

 

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

 

Teams on bye: Chicago, Cleveland, Los Angeles Chargers, Minnesota, New England, Pittsburgh

 

Rk Player Team Opp
1 Ezekiel Elliott DAL vs. KC
2 Kareem Hunt  KC at DAL
3 Todd Gurley  LAR at NYG
4 LeSean McCoy  BUF at NYJ (Thurs.)
5 Leonard Fournette  JAC vs. CIN
6 Mark Ingram  NO vs. TB
7 Lamar Miller  HOU vs. IND
8 Devonta Freeman  ATL at CAR
9 Doug Martin  TB at NO
10 Aaron Jones  GB vs. DET (Mon.)
11 Alvin Kamara  NO vs. TB
12 DeMarco Murray  TEN vs. BAL
13 Adrian Peterson  ARI at SF
14 Carlos Hyde SF vs. ARI
15 Chris Thompson  WAS at SEA
16 Joe Mixon  CIN at JAC
17 Alex Collins  BAL at TEN
18 Christian McCaffrey  CAR vs. ATL
19 C.J. Anderson  DEN at PHI
20 Ameer Abdullah  DET at GB (Mon.)
21 Tevin Coleman  ATL at CAR
22 Jay Ajayi  PHI vs. DEN
23 Bilal Powell  NYJ vs. BUF (Thurs.)
24 Orleans Darkwa  NYG vs. LAR
25 Marshawn Lynch  OAK at MIA
26 Frank Gore  IND at HOU
27 Matt Forte  NYJ vs. BUF (Thurs.)
28 Derrick Henry  TEN vs. BAL
29 Javorius Allen  BAL at TEN
30 LeGarrette Blount  PHI vs. DEN
31 Marlon Mack  IND at HOU
32 Jonathan Stewart  CAR vs. ATL
33 Robert Kelley  WAS at SEA
34 Ty Montgomery  GB vs. DET (Mon.)
35 Kenyan Drake  MIA vs. OAK
36 Theo Riddick  DET at GB (Mon.)
37 Jalen Richard  OAK at MIA
38 Thomas Rawls  SEA vs. WAS
39 Jamaal Charles  DEN at PHI
40 Damien Williams MIA vs. OAK
41 Matt Breida  SF vs. ARI
42 DeAndre Washington OAK at MIA
43 Wayne Gallman  NYG vs. LAR
44 Alfred Morris  DAL vs. KC
45 Eddie Lacy  SEA vs. WAS
46 Chris Ivory  JAC vs. CIN
47 Andre Ellington  ARI at SF
48 Wendell Smallwood PHI vs. DEN
49 D'Onta Foreman  HOU vs. IND
50 Giovani Bernard  CIN at JAC


— Rankings by Michael Horvath, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Horvath is a Canadian who also happens to be a fantasy football (not to be confused with CFL) and fitness nut. Follow him on Twitter @realmikehorvath.

Teaser:
Running Back Rankings Week 9
Post date: Friday, November 3, 2017 - 11:30
All taxonomy terms: NFL
Path: /nfl/arizona-cardinals-vs-san-francisco-49ers-preview-and-prediction-2017
Body:

Arizona takes on San Francisco Sunday afternoon in Levi’s Stadium in a matchup of teams in similar circumstances. The NFC West rivals are struggling to win games (Cardinals are 3-4, 49ers 0-8), are dealing with injuries to several key players, and are employing backup quarterbacks.

 

These two teams played a month ago back in Week 4, a game Arizona won 18-15 in overtime. Outside of the game-winning touchdown pass from Carson Palmer to Larry Fitzgerald, the rest of the scoring was done by kickers Phil Dawson and Robbie Gould. Ironically, neither starting quarterback from that game will be under center for this one, as Brian Hoyer is now in New England and Palmer is on injured reserve with a broken left arm.

 

San Francisco just finished up a grueling stretch of four of five games away from home with three of those being losses of three points or less. For such a young team, the frustration caught up with them in blowout losses to the Cowboys and Eagles. Rookie quarterback C.J. Beathard (above, right) has struggled, but the team still thought more of him than Hoyer, who was released. Jimmy Garoppolo, acquired in a trade with New England earlier this week, will not be available for Sunday, and Kyle Shanahan said on Wednesday that there was no guarantee Garoppolo would see the field in 2017. No. 1 wide receiver Pierre Garcon went on injured reserve on Thursday because of a neck injury, and he was one of the few reliable weapons the 49ers had.

 

Arizona lost its last game 33-0 over in London and showed very little fight while getting blown out. The Cardinals have alternated losses and wins the last few weeks and have been struggling with consistency. There was a report that head coach Bruce Arians was considering retirement at the end of the season, but he was quick to shut it down. Drew Stanton is at quarterback while Adrian Peterson set to play in his third game for Arizona since being acquired from New Orleans. Peterson was good in his first game but struggled his last time out behind an offensive line that is very iffy at best. The Cardinals' defense has been way too leaky of late, allowing 30 points or more in three straight contests.

 

Arizona at San Francisco

 

Kickoff: Sunday, Nov. 5 at 4:05 p.m. ET

TV Channel: FOX

Spread: Cardinals -2

 

Three Things to Watch

 

1. Mediocrity under center

Drew Stanton is in his 10th year in the NFL and has been around the block when it comes to being a fill-in starting quarterback. His lone action this season was a five-completion game against the Rams with an interception. The offense will look pretty close to the same considering how long he's been in Arizona. Larry Fitzgerald, Jaron Brown and John Brown will do their part to help and should be able to get open against a vulnerable San Francisco secondary.

 

C.J. Beathard is on the opposite end of the spectrum; it's his rookie year, and now he knows that he's probably not the future at the position for the 49ers. Beathard has not put up good numbers this season as he seems to overthrow a lot of his receivers. Beathard's accuracy, or lack thereof, is an issue for a team that doesn't have game-breakers and needs to matriculate down the field.

 

2. Mindsets

I used this key last week when it came to the 49ers game, and the theme continues for this week. What does Beathard think now that San Francisco traded for his replacement? Does he take this opportunity and use it to audition for other teams, or is he down in the dumps? The team has not been competitive the last two weeks and probably won't get much of a bump from a half-empty stadium at home. This will be the first of three straight home games (with a bye mixed in) so there's a chance the 49ers may finally get into the win column. On the Arizona side, do the Cardinals let the Arians retirement rumors bother them, or do they play on? When we last saw them, the Cards were getting blasted, and frustrations were boiling over. They are coming off a bye week, so maybe the team is refreshed and ready to be competitive.

 

3. Defense, defense, defense

If you look at both teams combined, they've allowed 30 points or more five straight games. San Francisco has already lost several starters to injuries, including defensive lineman Arik Armstead (broken hand) and safety Jimmie Ward (broken forearm), both of whom are on injured reserve. Additionally, first-round pick Solomon Thomas (knee) will more than likely miss this game while second-round pick Reuben Foster (ankle/ribs) and defensive lineman Aaron Lynch (calf) are battling injuries of their own.

 

Meanwhile, Arizona linebacker Karlos Dansby (finger/hamstring) is the only key member that appears on the injury report. I'd like to think a secondary featuring Patrick Peterson and Tyrann Mathieu would be able to hold down the 49ers’ mediocre receiving corps. To me, the big edge is the Cardinals’ pass rush against an offensive line that is really banged up. Joe Staley got hurt in the Eagles game and he’s one of four linemen that appear on the injury report.

 

Final Analysis

 

Field goals. Lots and lots of field goals are what I see in this one. The short line that Vegas has provided us gives me pause in thinking that this will be a blowout. I thought the 49ers would have shown some fight after their record stretch of five straight losses of three points or less, but they haven't. This one may not be pretty to watch, so consider yourself forewarned.

 

Prediction: Cardinals 12, 49ers 9

 

— Written by Matt Josephs, who is a part of the Athlon Sports Contributor Network. Follow him on Twitter @MidMajorMatt.

 

(C.J. Beathard photo courtesy of www.49ers.com)

Teaser:
Arizona Cardinals vs. San Francisco 49ers Preview and Prediction
Post date: Friday, November 3, 2017 - 11:00
Path: /college-football/byu-cougars-vs-fresno-state-bulldogs-preview-and-prediction-2017
Body:

Old Western Athletic Conference foes renew a rivalry once again in the valley. BYU travels to Fresno State for the first time since 1998.

 

This is the second game in a two-game series between these programs and at the time the series was announced in 2013, on paper it looked to be a series that would boast two of the best programs outside of the Power 5 leagues. The 2015 contest saw Fresno State enter Provo as a seven-loss team in the month of November. Fast-forward to this weekend, BYU (2-7) is the team with seven losses entering November. Will the Bulldogs (5-3) cruise to an easy win like BYU did two years ago?

 

BYU at Fresno State

 

Kickoff: Saturday, Nov. 4 at 10:45 p.m. ET

TV Channel: ESPN2

Spread: Fresno State -14

 

Three Things to Watch

 

1. Fresno State looks to bounce back after shocking loss to UNLV

Last week Fresno State was the toast of the Mountain West Conference after pulling off the biggest win since Derek Carr was at quarterback for the Bulldogs. Fresno State took down San Diego State, but the following week, laid an egg at home against a UNLV team that had a new quarterback. That quarterback for the Rebels was a backup linebacker the previous week, and the Bulldogs still lost.

 

Was Fresno State reading too much in the headlines and everyone patting the team on the back? Tough question. But the Bulldogs can’t afford to drop another game at home where they are a large favorite. If they do, all the good fortune they built with the win over San Diego State would go out the door. And Jeff Tedford’s team also just needs one more win to become bowl eligible for the first time 2014.

 

2. BYU linebacker Fred Warner’s status

The 2017 season hasn’t seen many bright spots for the Cougars, but one player has been a joy to watch every week and that’s Warner. The senior linebacker (above, right) suffered an injury last week early against San Jose State. Head coach Kalani Sitake said Warner is currently “day-to-day,” but it’s very possible that Warner misses this weekend’s game which would leave walk-on Morgan Unga as the man to replace Warner. Unga had a team-high 10 tackles a week ago.

 

3. Fresno State wide receivers vs. BYU cornerbacks

Bulldogs wide receiver KeeSean Johnson is quarterback’s Marcus McMaryion's favorite target. Johnson leads Fresno in receiving with 555 yards with a long of 75 yards against New Mexico earlier this year.

 

BYU’s cornerbacks are a banged-up unit right now, but despite their injuries, they feel confident they are ready for the challenge of Fresno’s receivers, who did not play physical against an inferior UNLV secondary a week ago. BYU sophomore Dayan Ghanwoloku leads the Cougars in interceptions with two this season.

 

Final Analysis

 

This is going to be a closer game than the computers or sharks in Vegas are currently forecasting. BYU gained some confidence on offense by actually producing some big plays and points. The Cougars put up 41 points, but was that due to playing a bad San Jose State team? BYU’s offense is showing progress, but ultimately, there are still too many unknowns with this unit from week to week.

 

Fresno State’s defense is the best defense BYU will have faced since Wisconsin earlier in the season. The Bulldogs’ defensive line is physical and probably will have success against a BYU offensive line that has been solid throughout the year. That combined with the playmakers Fresno has on offense, allows the Bulldogs pull away late in the fourth quarter for a win over their old WAC foes.

 

Prediction: Fresno State 28, BYU 20

 

— Written by Mitch Harper, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Harper is BYU Insider for ESPN 960 Sports and Publisher of Cougar Nation, part of the Rivals network. Follow him on Twitter @Mitch_Harper.

 

(Top photo courtesy of @FresnoStateFB)

Teaser:
BYU Cougars vs. Fresno State Bulldogs Preview and Prediction
Post date: Friday, November 3, 2017 - 10:20
Path: /college-football/arizona-wildcats-vs-usc-trojans-preview-and-prediction-2017
Body:

Not many college football pundits or fans could have projected that a November matchup between USC and Arizona would decide sole possession of first place in the Pac-12 South. Coming off a 3-9 finish in 2016, which included an eight-game losing streak, Arizona was tabbed for the division's cellar in the preseason media poll and projected as little more than a speed bump for overwhelming preseason favorite USC on its way to the Pac-12 Championship Game.

 

Likewise, few could have envisioned the impact Arizona quarterback Khalil Tate would have — especially given that Brandon Dawkins started for the first month of the season. But Dawkins' injury at Colorado on Oct. 7 opened the door for Tate, and Tate ran through it like he has run through defenses in the last four games.

 

The Wildcats carry a four-game winning streak into Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, where they haven't won since 2009. Meanwhile, the Trojans have rolled off 14 straight victories on home turf, spanning the duration of Clay Helton's tenure as head coach. USC is coming off its best performance of the season since dominating Stanford on Sept. 9, blowing out Arizona State in another showdown for first place in the South.

 

Saturday night's winner isn't assured a spot at Levi's Stadium for next month's conference championship — but the road will be that much easier.

 

Arizona at USC

 

Kickoff: Saturday, Nov. 4 at 10:45 p.m. ET

TV Channel: ESPN

Spread: USC -7.5 

 

Three Things to Watch

 

1. Star quarterbacks

Ask any coach for a general assessment of quarterbacks, and he will tell you that the position gets too much credit in good times and too much blame in the bad. USC's erstwhile Heisman Trophy contender, Sam Darnold (above, right), is the living embodiment of the truth of that perception.

 

When the Trojans won nine straight in 2016, Darnold was lauded as the reason. And, indeed, USC's fortunes turned around when Darnold moved into the starting lineup, but the Trojans also improved defensively and in the run game during that span. Meanwhile, this season, Darnold's turnovers have been under intense scrutiny — even more so than the mountain of injuries that have limited USC at various positions.

 

Khalil Tate is in a role similar to Darnold's a season ago; his insertion into the starting lineup kicked off a winning streak that spanned the month of October and included Arizona's first win over UCLA in six years and an upset of No. 15-ranked Washington State. Wildcats head coach Rich Rodriguez is apt to point out that a young defense has made strides throughout the season, however, and Arizona has been healthier this season than in any since 2014 — when it last won the South division.

 

Darnold and Tate will once again occupy the spotlight Saturday night. Whether it's Tate's rushing ability and big arm, or Darnold's gunslinging and pocket presence, one quarterback will come away from the Coliseum a hero.

 

2. Run-down

Coming off a dismal performance against the run at Notre Dame — quarterback Brandon Wimbush and running back Josh Adams both eclipsed 100 yards — USC responded by limiting Arizona State to just 79 yards on the ground. Up next is an Arizona rushing attack with several similarities to that of Notre Dame.

 

Behind Tate, who is averaging almost 14 yards per carry and has more runs of 50-plus yards than all but five teams in college football, Arizona boasts the nation's fifth-best rushing offense. The only four teams with higher per-game production all run triple-option schemes.

 

Rodriguez may not oversee a triple option, but Arizona's scheme does rely on a similarly multifaceted approach. Alongside Tate, three different Wildcat running backs have hit 100 yards in the last three games: Nick Wilson vs. UCLA on Oct. 14; Zach Green at Cal on Oct. 21; and J.J. Taylor last weekend vs. Washington State.

 

Conversely, USC rebounded from a poor rushing game at Notre Dame to roll up a season high at Arizona State. Running back Ronald Jones II dumped more than 200 yards on the Sun Devils. With the Trojans' run game clicking, it's no surprise Darnold operated from a clean pocket and played a turnover-free game.

 

3. Late-game heroics 

Despite winning by comfortable margins a week ago — USC by 31 at Arizona State, Arizona by 21 against Washington State — both the Trojans and Wildcats have shown a flair for the dramatic this season. In its last game at the Coliseum, USC needed a two-point conversion tackle in the open field from cornerback Ajene Harris to thwart an upset bid from Utah.

 

Meanwhile, Arizona's winning streak in October kicked off with a three-point win at Colorado, and linebacker Colin Schooler batted a two-point conversion attempt pass away to preserve a one-point victory at Cal.

 

Indeed, close contests have been the M.O. for both of these Pac-12 South pace-setters in 2017. What's more, the Trojans and Wildcats have been wildly competitive with each other in recent years. USC dominated in Tucson last season, despite Tate scoring a rushing touchdown that served as something of a sneak preview for his 2017 star turn. Prior to that 48-14 win, however,  every meeting from 2007-15 came down to a single possession.

 

Expect a similar finish in 2017. Both teams have been tested in such situations this season, and the final minutes should provide an intriguing cat-and-mouse game.

 

Final Analysis

 

Arizona's run through October, highlighted by Khalil Tate's individual brilliance, is one of the most shocking turns of the 2017 season. Taking over first place in the division in the final month would be a fitting step for a program that, not long ago, was considered a leading candidate for a change in direction.

 

Defensive coordinator Marcel Yates' unit has overachieved all season long behind freshmen like Colin Schooler, Tony Fields and Kylan Wilborn up front, and a veteran secondary with Demetrius Flanagan-Fowles and Jace Whittaker has made its own strides. The Wildcats have excelled at generating turnovers, which has been USC's primary weakness on offense.

 

Meanwhile, the Wildcats' explosive run game is up against its own stiff challenge. Porter Gustin's return to the USC defensive front gives the Trojans their strongest look — although the loss of Midseason All-American Christian Rector looms large. Still, Gustin and Uchenna Nwosu, a strong contender for Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year, give the Trojans the best shot at slowing Tate and Co. that any opponent has had yet.

 

This should be a wildly entertaining, wildly competitive contest ultimately coming down to a final play. USC has proven adept at making such plays, especially at home. 

 

Prediction: USC 38, Arizona 35 

 

— Written by Kyle Kensing, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a sportswriter in Southern California. Kensing is publisher of TheOpenMan.com. Follow him on Twitter @kensing45. 

Teaser:
Arizona Wildcats vs. USC Trojans Preview and Prediction
Post date: Friday, November 3, 2017 - 10:10
Path: /college-football/oregon-ducks-vs-washington-huskies-preview-and-prediction-2017
Body:

Washington quarterback Jake Browning does not especially enjoy talking about "the point." After all, Huskies head coach Chris Petersen disciplined Browning for his finger-pointing taunt of an Oregon player during last year's 70–21 Huskies rout — though neither provided specifics at this summer's Pac-12 media days.

 

Browning may be contrite discussing the point now, but it's a moment that will live in Washington-Oregon rivalry lore forever. One gesture crystallized the exorcising of frustrations built up over 12 years of Huskies losses to their border foes.

 

Oregon vs. Washington is one of the most acrimonious rivalries in the Pac-12. However, with Oregon dominating the series from 2004-15, it wasn't much of a rivalry. The tables turned quickly. Washington's 70-21 blowout marked the most points scored in one game in the series and provided the Huskies a stepping stone to the College Football Playoff. For Oregon, the loss was one of eight in a pivotal season for the direction of the program.

 

First-year head coach Willie Taggart faces a tall task in preventing last season's blowout from turning into a longer-term trend for the Ducks.

 

Oregon at Washington

 

Kickoff: Saturday, Nov.4 at 10 p.m. ET

TV Channel: FS1

Spread: Washington -17.5

 

Three Things to Watch

 

1. Quarterback play

Oregon's talented sophomore quarterback Justin Herbert sustained a collarbone injury in September, a devastating blow after the Ducks started new head coach Willie Taggart's debut campaign at 4-1. Oregon dropped the next three straight with Taylor Alie and Braxton Burmeister (above, right) manning the job, but last weekend's 41-20 defeat of Utah might have marked a turning point for the position.

 

Burmeister was a perfectly efficient 9-of-12 passing with a touchdown and no interceptions. The latter is important, because turnovers crushed the Ducks during the losing skid. With a multifaceted rushing attack featuring running backs Royce Freeman, Kani Benoit and Tony Brooks-James, having the proficient passing of Herbert maximizes Oregon's offensive potential — and Herbert isn't definitively ruled out for the Washington game just yet — but the run game is good enough to need only the threat of a pass to flourish.

 

Meanwhile, the Washington defense has been one of the nation's best at generating turnovers in the past two seasons.

 

2. Sled Dawgs

One of the quiet surprises of this college football season is the unreal turnaround in run defense that Oregon defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt has engineered. After fielding one of the worst run defenses in the nation a season ago, Oregon comes into Saturday's rivalry tilt ranked No. 15 in the nation against the run.

 

Take away Stanford's 6.1 yards per carry average with Heisman Trophy candidate Bryce Love, and Oregon's game-by-game per-carry yield goes like this: 2.6, 3.8, 3.7, 2.7, 0.3, 3.5, 3.8 and 3.3. But here comes a Washington offense with an impressive 22 rushing touchdowns on the season — as many as Louisville with reigning Heisman winner Lamar Jackson — and a solid 4.9 yards per carry.

 

Washington dumped 333 rushing yards on UCLA last week, with running back Myles Gaskin's 169 setting the pace. The Huskies' offense is at its best when it is balanced, as Browning feeds off the multifaceted backfield look with Gaskin and Lavon Coleman.

 

3. Special teams playmakers

A big special teams play can be pivotal, and both Oregon and Washington feature playmakers who can change the complexion of a game in a matter of seconds. 

 

Washington's Dante Pettis leads the nation with three punts returned for touchdowns on the season. With Pettis leading the way, the Huskies are tied for first in the FBS in punt returns of 20 yards or more with six. 

 

Oregon's Tony Brooks-James is a difference-maker in a similar vein. He has a kickoff return for a score and averages almost 26 yards per opportunity — 20th in the nation. 

 

Final Analysis

 

Last season's meeting in Autzen Stadium provided the perfect storm for Washington to end Oregon's streak in the series in spectacular fashion. Washington was playing some of the best football in the nation, while the Ducks sputtered badly. Willie Taggart and his staff have reinvigorated Oregon football, with the Ducks now sitting just one win shy of bowl eligibility. 

 

Oregon should get to the postseason, but the bowl-sealing win won't come against Washington. Oregon should be more competitive than a 49-point margin this time around, but the Huskies are clearly the better team on both sides of the ball. 

 

Prediction: Washington 42, Oregon 17 

 

— Written by Kyle Kensing, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a sportswriter in Southern California. Kensing is publisher of TheOpenMan.com. Follow him on Twitter @kensing45.

Teaser:
Oregon Ducks vs. Washington Huskies Preview and Prediction
Post date: Friday, November 3, 2017 - 10:00

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