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Path: /mlb/work-series-game-5-prediction-and-preview-kansas-city-royals-vs-new-york-mets
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World Series Preview, PredictionA healthy portion of the sporting world had probably never heard of Daniel Murphy before his improbable October run. He isn't a household name even in baseball circles. Murphy’s six straight Postseason games with a homerun and his absurd line of .529/.556/.1.294 and 1.850 OPS in the NLCS against the Cubs put him on the tip of every sports writer’s pen from New York to Los Angeles. He was another fantastic story about an Average Joe ball player turning into a superstar when the spotlight was the brightest, a story that seems to be commonplace in October. 

 

It was only a matter of time before Murphy’s game came back to the middle, and it came crashing down at the worst time. While Murphy is a good career singles hitter, his downfall is his defense. He was well below average in defensive runs saved above average, ultimate zone rating, and revised zone rating this season and in his career. To put it simply, Murphy struggles getting to well hit ground balls, ultimately leading to runs.

 

Murphy’s defensive shortcomings were put on display as a high chopping ball from Eric Hosmer ran under his glove, allowing the tying run to score from second with one out in the top of the eighth inning. There is no telling how many Mets fans in Citi Field last night whispered to themselves, “Buckner.”

 

On the very next play, a hard hit ground ball from Mike Moustakas squirted by a diving Murphy, scoring Lorenzo Cain from third and giving the Royals a lead they would only add to and not relinquish. 

 

The Mets went from five outs away from tying the World Series at two games a piece to being one loss away from losing it. The Murphy error isn’t the sole reason for the Mets’ Game 4 collapse as the bullpen, base running errors, and all around sloppy play proved to be costly, but the picture of Murphy lying face down, flattened by the moment in shallow right field will be the watershed moment. Fair or foul, baseball can be so cruel.

 

World Series Game 5: Kansas City Royals vs. New York Mets 

Time: 8 PM (ET)

TV: FOX

Pitching Matchup: Edinson Volquez (1-2, 4.37 ERA) vs. Matt Harvey (2-0, 3.38 ERA)

 

Three Things to Watch

 

1. Mound Matchup

The last time Edinson Volquez took the mound was in Game 1, unaware that his father had passed away in his home country of the Dominican Republic. After he was pulled in the sixth inning, Volquez was informed of his father’s passing and caught the first flight home to be with his family. Volquez returned to the Royals on Saturday and was in the dugout to watch his team come back to win Game 4. The uncertainty of Volquez’s performance is to be unexpected, and reasonably so. I would expect Ned Yost to have a quick hook for his starting pitcher if he struggles in the early innings. 

 

In a rematch of Game 1, Matt Harvey will take the hill for the Mets in Game 5. Harvey has alluded to fatigue as a possible factor in his recent performances as he has now thrown over 200 innings this season after missing all of 2014. He was impressive in the first five innings of Game 1 with his club leading 3-1, but surrendered the lead in the sixth after facing the Royals lineup for the third time. Tonight’s start will be the last for Harvey in what has been a tumultuous 2015 for “The Dark Knight.” To save the Mets’ season, Harvey must revert back to the Harvey we saw in 2013, unrelenting and unabashed. 

 

2. Terry Collins

Speaking of facing a lineup for the third time…Terry Collins has completely misused his bullpen in this series and the Mets are paying for it, dearly. In the first two games, Collins allowed his starters to face the top of the Royals’ lineup for the third time in either the fifth or sixth inning, and each game the Royals scored multiple runs. As outstanding as the Mets’ rotation has been this year, their effectiveness has significantly regressed once they face an opposing order twice through. 

 

Collins’ only fault isn’t just leaving his starters in too long, he’s also throwing his best bullpen arms in unnecessary situations. In Game 3, with a six run lead, Collins threw his three best relievers in successive innings. Addison Reed pitched the seventh, Tyler Clippard in the eighth, and Jeurys Familia in the ninth in a game that should have been safe in the hands of John Niese, Bartolo Colon, or Hansel Robles. If Collins was hesitant to put either of these pitchers in with a six-run cushion, then why have them on the roster at all?

 

After last night’s Game 4 collapse that saw Clippard take the loss after walking the tying and winning runs in the eighth and Familia blowing his second save in the series, Collins now faces the decision of throwing his best bullpen arms for a third straight game, or just hope that Harvey can go all nine innings. One solution, a long shot, would be to throw Jacob deGrom if the situation is dire enough.

 

3. Royal Resolve

Last October, the Royals were a game away from the first World Series title since 1985, culminating in a Game 7 loss to Madison Bumgarner and San Francisco Giants. Now, with the Mets on their heels, the Royals have three chances to put away the NL champs. Lead by an outstanding defense and a relentless offensive approach, the Royals are primed to raise the Commissioner’s Trophy for the first time in thirty years. The only question is where will they celebrate with their champagne showers in Flushing, NY, or sweet home Kansas City?

 

Final Analysis 

Game 4’s crushing loss seemed like the end of the line for the Mets. Between Murphys’ error, the imploding bullpen, and the constant aloofness of Yoenis Cespedes, the Mets are going to need a near miracle to crawl back into this series. If Harvey can give Collins seven or more quality innings, the Mets have a decent shot at taking the series back to Kansas City. But with the taste of last year’s World Series loss still driving Ned Yost’s team, look for the Royals to earn their crown tonight at Citi Field.

 

Prediction: Royals 7, Mets 3

 

— Written by Jake Rose, who is a part of the Athlon Sports Contributor Network. An avid baseball fan, Rose also takes time to do some play-by-play work for the radio broadcasts of Middle Tennessee State Blue Raider baseball games. Follow him on Twitter @JakeRose24.

Teaser:
World Series Game 5 Preview & Prediction: Kansas City Royals vs. New York Mets
Post date: Sunday, November 1, 2015 - 13:44
All taxonomy terms: NFL, Overtime
Path: /overtime/reggie-bush-injured-after-slip-out-bounds-49ers-rams
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People have been saying for years that Reggie Bush's career is on the decline. This video won't help change their minds. The running back can't help from getting injured.

 

During the 49ers-Rams game, Bush makes his way out of bounds on a play and ends up slipping and falling. Afterwards the 49ers running back was carted off shortly after. Not completely his fault because the league and arena should take proper precautions when it comes to the players.

 

Teaser:
Post date: Sunday, November 1, 2015 - 13:38
All taxonomy terms: College Football, News
Path: /college-football/cover-2-college-football-podcast-week-9-review
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The first College Football Playoff rankings will be released Tuesday, meaning a handful of teams had one last chance to make the last first impression on the selection committee.

 

The most important game, though, may not have much of an impact on the top of the rankings. The ACC has released a mea culpa on the officiating disaster that allowed Miami's final touchdown against Duke to stand. Should the Blue Devils get the retroactive win?

 

Notre Dame may have picked up its best win of the season, and the Irish had to work to get it against a gritty Temple team. Did this say more about Notre Dame or Temple and the American Athletic Conference.

 

A light week of action turned out to be pretty heavy on pressure on coaches Mark Richt, Charlie Strong and Mike Riley. We assess where each of these coaches are with their respective fanbases and what's on the horizon.

 

And finally, the guys take a quick look at the landscape for the first CFP rankings. Will Clemson be No. 1 and how could follow in rankings sure to be irrelevant in a matter of weeks.

 

 

Send any ideas, questions or comments to @BradenGall or @DavidFox615 or email [email protected]. The podcast can be found on athlonsports.com/podcastiTunesStitcher and our podcast RSS feed.

Teaser:
Cover 2 College Football Podcast: Week 9 Review
Post date: Sunday, November 1, 2015 - 12:46
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 Red Wolves, 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, Charlotte 49ers, Cincinnati Bearcats, Clemson Tigers, College Football, Colorado Buffaloes, Colorado State Rams, Connecticut Huskies, Duke Blue Devils, East Carolina Pirates, Eastern Michigan Eagles, FAU Owls, FIU Panthers, Florida Gators, Florida State Seminoles, Fresno State Bulldogs, Georgia Bulldogs, Georgia Southern Eagles, Georgia State Panthers, Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, Hawaii Warriors, Houston Cougars, Idaho Vandals, Illinois Fighting Illini, Indiana Hoosiers, Iowa Hawkeyes, Iowa State Cyclones, Kansas Jayhawks, Kansas State Wildcats, Kent State Golden Flashes, Kentucky Wildcats, Louisiana Tech Bulldogs, Louisville Cardinals, LSU Tigers, Marshall Thundering Herd, Maryland Terrapins, Memphis Tigers, Miami Hurricanes, Miami Ohio RedHawks, Michigan State Spartans, Michigan Wolverines, Minnesota Golden Gophers, Mississippi State Bulldogs, Missouri Tigers, MTSU Blue Raiders, Navy Midshipmen, NC State Wolfpack, Nebraska Cornhuskers, Nevada Wolf Pack, New Mexico Lobos, New Mexico State Aggies, North Carolina Tar Heels, North Texas Mean Green, Northern Illinois Huskies, Northwestern Wildcats, Notre Dame Fighting Irish, Ohio Bobcats, Ohio State Buckeyes, Oklahoma Sooners, Oklahoma State Cowboys, Old Dominion Monarchs, Ole Miss Rebels, Oregon Ducks, Oregon State Beavers, Penn State Nittany Lions, Pittsburgh Panthers, Purdue Boilermakers, 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, Tulane Green Wave, Tulsa Golden Hurricane, UAB Blazers, UCF Knights, UCLA Bruins, UConn Huskies, UL Lafayette Ragin Cajuns, UL Monroe Warhawks, UMass Minutemen, 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-9-awards
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Week 9 of the college football season is in the books. The weekend slate provided plenty of highlights, big plays, standout performances and surprises. 

 

With another weekend of action in the books, it’s time to hand out the hardware to honor the best of the best from Week 9. Here’s a look at Athlon Sports’ picks for the offensive, defensive, coordinator, freshman and unsung hero from Week 9:

 

College Football Week 9 Awards

 

Offensive Player of the Week: Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson

Clemson’s perfect season and playoff hopes remained intact thanks to Watson’s huge performance against NC State. The sophomore completed 23 of 30 passes for 383 yards and five scores and added 54 yards and a touchdown on the ground. Watson has not tossed an interception over the last two games and has completed over 65 percent of his passes in four consecutive contests.

 

Defensive Player: Travis Feeney, LB, Washington

Washington thoroughly dominated Arizona for a 49-3 victory on Saturday night. The Huskies’ defense held an explosive Wildcats’ offense in check, limiting Arizona to just 3.8 yards per play and three points. Feeney was instrumental in Washington’s dominant effort, recording 11 tackles (4.5 for a loss), two sacks, one pass breakup and two forced fumbles.

 

Freshman of the Week: Kyler Murray, QB, Texas A&M

The Aggies were looking for a spark on offense after scoring just three points in last week’s loss against Ole Miss. Coach Kevin Sumlin decided to switch from Kyle Allen to Kyler Murray under center, and the true freshman delivered a huge performance in Saturday’s win over South Carolina. Murray completed 20 of 28 passes for 223 yards and one touchdown and rushed for 156 yards and one score. Murray’s 156 rushing yards marked the first time in school history a freshman quarterback has eclipsed the 100-yard mark on the ground.

 

Coordinator of the Week: Mike Yurcich, Offensive Coordinator, Oklahoma State

Oklahoma State improved to 8-0 thanks to a 70-53 shootout win at Texas Tech on Saturday. Yurcich’s offense led the way in the victory, gashing the Red Raiders for 662 overall yards and the highest-scoring mark of the season for the Cowboys (70 points). Oklahoma State averaged 8.4 yards per play and scored six touchdowns over the last seven offensive possessions.

 

Unsung Hero: Vernon Adams, QB, Oregon

A healthy Adams makes a big difference for Oregon’s high-powered offense. In Thursday night’s win over Arizona State, the Eastern Washington transfer completed 23 of 40 passes for 315 yards and four touchdowns. The stat line doesn’t show just how valuable Adams was in the victory, as he made several clutch plays – including a fourth-down touchdown pass in regulation – to guide Oregon to the 61-55 win.   

Teaser:
College Football Week 9 Awards
Post date: Sunday, November 1, 2015 - 12:12
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 Red Wolves, 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, Charlotte 49ers, Cincinnati Bearcats, Clemson Tigers, College Football, Colorado Buffaloes, Colorado State Rams, Connecticut Huskies, Duke Blue Devils, East Carolina Pirates, Eastern Michigan Eagles, FAU Owls, FIU Panthers, Florida Gators, Florida State Seminoles, Fresno State Bulldogs, Georgia Bulldogs, Georgia Southern Eagles, Georgia State Panthers, Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, Hawaii Warriors, Houston Cougars, Idaho Vandals, Illinois Fighting Illini, Indiana Hoosiers, Iowa Hawkeyes, Iowa State Cyclones, Kansas Jayhawks, Kansas State Wildcats, Kent State Golden Flashes, Kentucky Wildcats, Louisiana Tech Bulldogs, Louisville Cardinals, LSU Tigers, Marshall Thundering Herd, Maryland Terrapins, Memphis Tigers, Miami Hurricanes, Miami Ohio RedHawks, Michigan State Spartans, Michigan Wolverines, Minnesota Golden Gophers, Mississippi State Bulldogs, Missouri Tigers, MTSU Blue Raiders, Navy Midshipmen, NC State Wolfpack, Nebraska Cornhuskers, Nevada Wolf Pack, New Mexico Lobos, New Mexico State Aggies, North Carolina Tar Heels, North Texas Mean Green, Northern Illinois Huskies, Northwestern Wildcats, Notre Dame Fighting Irish, Ohio Bobcats, Ohio State Buckeyes, Oklahoma Sooners, Oklahoma State Cowboys, Old Dominion Monarchs, Ole Miss Rebels, Oregon Ducks, Oregon State Beavers, Penn State Nittany Lions, Pittsburgh Panthers, Purdue Boilermakers, 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, Tulane Green Wave, Tulsa Golden Hurricane, UAB Blazers, UCF Knights, UCLA Bruins, UConn Huskies, UL Lafayette Ragin Cajuns, UL Monroe Warhawks, UMass Minutemen, 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/10-amazing-college-football-stats-week-9-2015
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Numbers and statistics are a huge part of college football. Every Sunday, reading updated box scores and stats is like Christmas for fans and media members. Some stats like total offense and total defense are overrated, but each help paint a picture for a team or particular game.

 

Whether the stats are historic, advanced or just an observation from a box score, Athlon Sports brings the most intriguing, important, historic and bizarre stats from around the weekend of college football action:

 

10 Amazing College Football Stats from Week 9
 

8: Laterals Used by Miami to Score Game-Winning Touchdown Against Duke

The ending to Saturday’s Miami-Duke matchup will be remembered as one of the craziest finishes to a game in recent memory. After the Blue Devils took a 27-24 lead with less than 10 seconds left, the Hurricanes scored the game-winning touchdown by using eight laterals on the kickoff return, with Corn Elder eventually breaking free down the sideline for a 91-yard score. While a Miami player appeared to have his knee on the ground before a lateral, as well as a missed block in the back, the touchdown was upheld on replay. 

 

Related: 10 Coaching Candidates to Replace Al Golden at Miami

 

123: Combined Points in Oklahoma State’s 70-53 Win Over Texas Tech

Saturday’s 70-53 thrilling victory by Oklahoma State over Texas Tech was the highest scoring game at the FBS level this season. The 123 combined points was also the fourth-highest scoring FBS game over the last 10 years. The Cowboys and Red Raiders combined for 61 first downs, 1,304 total yards and only eight punts.

 

3: 8-0 Big Ten Teams for the First Time Since 1903

Conference superiority is always a point of conversation among college football fans, and there’s no doubt the Big Ten is headed in the right direction since the end of the 2014 season. After nine weeks of action, the Big Ten has three 8-0 teams – Ohio State, Michigan State and Iowa. According to the Big Ten Network’s Dave Revsine, that’s the first time the conference has three 8-0 teams for the first time since 1903.   

 

Related: College Football's Best Cheerleaders from Week 9

 

11: Completions by Florida QB Treon Harris in Last Two Games Against Georgia

Led by a strong defense and rushing attack, Florida earned its second consecutive victory over Georgia on Saturday. The Gators recorded a dominant 27-3 victory over the Bulldogs, with quarterback Treon Harris completing only 8 of 19 passes for 155 yards and one score. In the last two meetings against the Bulldogs (both victories), Harris has completed only 11 of 25 passes for 182 yards. Needless to say, the low completion totals won’t matter much to coach Jim McElwain. The only stat that matters to McElwain? Wins.

 

11: Turnovers by Notre Dame’s Offense in Red Zone Last Two Years

Notre Dame avoided Temple’s upset bid on Saturday night, using a 17-yard pass from quarterback DeShone Kizer to receiver Will Fuller with just two over minutes remaining to score a 24-20 victory. However, a glaring problem popped up once again for the Fighting Irish. The offense lost two turnovers in the red zone against the Owls, which increased Notre Dame’s total to 11 in that area over the last two years. The 11 turnovers is the most by any FBS team over the last two seasons. If the Fighting Irish want to contend for a playoff spot, giving away scoring opportunities inside the red zone simply can’t continue. 

 

Related: 5 Reasons Baylor Can Still Make the CFB Playoff With Jarrett Stidham at QB

 

0: Georgia Rushing Touchdowns the Last Three Weeks

It’s no secret Georgia misses running back Nick Chubb. Over the last three games, the Bulldogs have recorded 354 rushing yards, averaging only 3.7 yards per carry. Additionally, Georgia does not have a rushing score over its last three games. The Bulldogs have watched their rushing yardage total (165 to 120 to 69) decline over the last three weeks. Quarterback play is a huge issue for Georgia right now, but coach Mark Richt and coordinator Brian Schottenheimer have to find a way to generate more production from the ground attack.

 

1961: Last Time Texas Was Shutout by an Unranked Opponent

Texas appeared to be on the right track after wins over Oklahoma and Kansas State, but the Longhorns took a step back on Saturday. For the first time since 1961, Texas was shutout by an unranked opponent. The Longhorns were blanked 24-0 by Iowa State on Saturday, as the offense generated only 204 total yards, completed 12 of 22 passes and crossed midfield just two times. At 3-5 overall, Texas needs to win three out of its last four – Kansas, at West Virginia, Texas Tech and at Baylor – just to make a bowl this year.

 

77: Career Rushing Touchdowns by Navy QB Keenan Reynolds

Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds inched closer to the record books in Saturday’s 29-17 victory over South Florida. The senior quarterback completed 3 of 9 passes for 16 yards and rushed for 117 yards and two touchdowns on 26 attempts. The two rushing scores gave Reynolds 77 in his career, tying Wisconsin running back Montee Ball for the all-time record. The senior has 13 rushing scores this season and could break the record in the Week 10 showdown against Memphis. 

 

15 for 15: Cincinnati QB Gunner Kiel Completed All 15 Passes Against UCF

Injuries have prevented Cincinnati quarterback Gunner Kiel from building off last year’s season (31 TDs and 3,254 passing yards), but the junior has posted back-to-back 300-yard games and had a record-setting day against UCF on Saturday. Kiel completed all 15 of his passes for 319 yards and five touchdowns. The junior’s 15-for-15 performance was the most completions without an incompletion by a FBS player in the last 20 years. 

 

11: FBS Unbeatens Entering November

College football’s 2015 season has reached the final full month of action. And with just five overall weeks of games before the four playoff teams are decided, 11 unbeaten teams remain at the FBS level. The 11 unbeaten teams entering November is unusual. In 2013, eight teams had an unbeaten mark at the start of November and only three teams reached that level in 2014. 

Teaser:
10 Amazing College Football Stats from Week 9 2015
Post date: Sunday, November 1, 2015 - 12:00
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 Red Wolves, 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, Charlotte 49ers, Cincinnati Bearcats, Clemson Tigers, College Football, Colorado Buffaloes, Colorado State Rams, Connecticut Huskies, Duke Blue Devils, East Carolina Pirates, Eastern Michigan Eagles, FAU Owls, FIU Panthers, Florida Gators, Florida State Seminoles, Fresno State Bulldogs, Georgia Bulldogs, Georgia Southern Eagles, Georgia State Panthers, Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, Hawaii Warriors, Houston Cougars, Idaho Vandals, Illinois Fighting Illini, Indiana Hoosiers, Iowa Hawkeyes, Iowa State Cyclones, Kansas Jayhawks, Kansas State Wildcats, Kent State Golden Flashes, Kentucky Wildcats, Louisiana Tech Bulldogs, Louisville Cardinals, LSU Tigers, Marshall Thundering Herd, Maryland Terrapins, Memphis Tigers, Miami Hurricanes, Miami Ohio RedHawks, Michigan State Spartans, Michigan Wolverines, Minnesota Golden Gophers, Mississippi State Bulldogs, Missouri Tigers, MTSU Blue Raiders, Navy Midshipmen, NC State Wolfpack, Nebraska Cornhuskers, Nevada Wolf Pack, New Mexico Lobos, New Mexico State Aggies, North Carolina Tar Heels, North Texas Mean Green, Northern Illinois Huskies, Northwestern Wildcats, Notre Dame Fighting Irish, Ohio Bobcats, Ohio State Buckeyes, Oklahoma Sooners, Oklahoma State Cowboys, Old Dominion Monarchs, Ole Miss Rebels, Oregon Ducks, Oregon State Beavers, Penn State Nittany Lions, Pittsburgh Panthers, Purdue Boilermakers, 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, Tulane Green Wave, Tulsa Golden Hurricane, UAB Blazers, UCF Knights, UCLA Bruins, UConn Huskies, UL Lafayette Ragin Cajuns, UL Monroe Warhawks, UMass Minutemen, 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/20-must-see-moments-college-footballs-week-9-games
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Week 9 of the college football season is officially in the books. Saturday's slate of games was underwhelming on paper, but the Week 9 schedule produced plenty of crazy finishes and outstanding plays.

 

Miss anything from Week 9? Here are 20 must-see plays, moments or post-game celebrations from the weekend of action:

 

20 Must-See Moments from College Football's Week 9 Games

 

1. Miami uses eight laterals to score game-winning touchdown against Duke:

But upon further review, this play should not have counted:

 

 

 

2. Washington State misses game-winning field goal, Stanford keeps playoff hopes alive:

 

3. Oregon scores on a crazy touchdown pass by QB Vernon Adams to send Thursday's game into overtime:

 

Oregon cornerback Arrion Springs intercepts Arizona State quarterback Mike Bercovici with the Sun Devils on the three-yard line and an opportunity to score (and win the game on a two-point play). 

 

4. Michigan stuffs Minnesota at goal line on final play to win 29-26:

 

5. Notre Dame holds off Temple's upset bid after interception by CB KeiVarae Russell:

 

6. Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly was not happy with assistant strength coach David Grimes:

 

7. TCU QB Trevone Boykin gets a high-five from West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen after scrambling for a first down:

 

8. New Mexico State breaks 17-game losing streak when a player intercepts a pass...with his feet:

 

9. ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit freaks out in the ABC television booth after some unwelcomed guests enter:

 

10. Deflected pass results in one of four interceptions for Georgia:

 

11. Florida State wide receiver Travis Rudolph destroys a Syracuse defender with a stiff arm:

 

12. Texas Tech receiver Jakeem Grant weaves his way through the Oklahoma State defense for a 90-yard gain:

 

13. Iowa tight end George Kittle makes a nifty one-handed catch:

 

14. Ole Miss defensive lineman Robert Nkemdiche destroys an Auburn offensive lineman:

 

15. Minnesota with a couple of nice tributes to retired coach Jerry Kill:

16. NC State assistant Des Kitchings shoves Clemson QB Deshaun Watson:

And another Clemson win means another dance vine:

 

17. Penn State running back Saquon Barkley hurdles an Illinois defender for a touchdown:

 

18. Ole Miss wide receiver Laquon Treadwell makes a nice over-the-shoulder touchdown catch:

 

19. Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops gets into the Halloween spirit by wearing a Yoda mask and dancing after beating Kansas:

 

20. Yes...you are seeing this right: A dog dressed in a Jim Harbaugh costume:

 

And to close Week 9, a tip of the cap to Auburn equipment manager Clint Crumpton for his unique proposal:

 

Teaser:
20 Must-See Moments from College Football's Week 9 Games
Post date: Sunday, November 1, 2015 - 09:00
Path: /mlb/world-series-2015-game-4-recap-royals-take-advantage-mets-mistakes
Body:

Just when it appeared that the New York Mets were going to make a run at the Kansas City Royals and tie the series at two games a piece, the game of baseball proved, once again, just how cruel it can be. Perhaps it was the spirit of Halloween night or just the Mets’ magic running out when it was needed most.

 

The Mets made it to the World Series thanks in large part to Daniel Murphy's bat and a core of young power arms. One of those fantastic, budding arms was Game 4 starter Steven Matz. Matz, making just his ninth career MLB start, was great over five innings, allowing just two runs on seven hits.

 

But the Met bullpen that had proven to be such a weapon over the last half of the season, turned into a liability in Game 4. But the bullpen wasn’t the only culprit in the Mets' 5-3 loss, as poor late-inning defense and base-running blunders proved to be too much for New York to overcome.

 

On the other side, Kansas City, in typical Royal fashion, found ways to win. Most nights, stellar defense and great back-end pitching get the job done. In Game 4, the Royals took advantage of several Mets mistakes and made the most of them.

 

The Mets, once five outs away from tying the series at two, are now just nine innings away from elimination.

 

Three Strikes

 

1. The Michael Conforto Show

Conforto was drafted in the first round from Oregon State just 16 months ago, and now, he is doing his best Daniel Murphy impersonation in the World Series. Conforto took the first pitch from Royals starter Chris Young in the bottom of the third inning and promptly put it in the upper deck in deep right field. An absolute no-doubt shot. The blast was just Conforto’s third hit of the postseason, but his second home run. His first home run was against Dodgers’ ace Zack Greinke in Game 2 of the NLDS.

 

But Conforto wasn't done. In the bottom of the fifth he took a 2-2 pitch from left-handed reliever Danny Duffy and sent it over the right-center field fence, giving the Mets a 3-1 lead. At 22 years, 244 days old, Conforto became the third-youngest player in World Series history with two home runs in one game, behind only Andruw Jones and Tony Kubek. 

 

2. Big Innings Pay Big Dividends

For the second straight night, the big inning — the dreaded big inning, struck again. In Game 3 it was the Mets scoring four runs in the bottom of the sixth off of Franklin Morales. In Game 4, it was the Royals' turn.

 

After Mets reliever Tyler Clippard walked Ben Zobrist and Lorenzo Cain with one out in the top of the eighth, manager Terry Collins brought in closer Jeurys Familia for a presumed five-out save with the Mets leading 3-2. Familia, who had pitched the night before with a six-run lead, first squared off against Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer. With runners on first and second, Hosmer hit a high chopper to second baseman Daniel Murphy. Murphy’s only play was going to be to get Hosmer at first, but in a Buckner-like moment, the ball rolled under the charging Murphy’s glove, allowing Zobrist to score from second, tying the game and allowing the speedy Cain to take third. 

 

With runners on the corners and the score now tied, Mike Moustakas swung and connected at the first pitch he saw from Familia, hitting it hard on the ground to — you guessed it, Murphy. Isn’t baseball cruel? Murphy dove hard to his left, but had no play as the ball squirted by him. In comes Cain to score, breaking the tie and giving the Royals the lead. 

 

It gets worse. Salvador Perez, the next batter, took a 2-2 Familia pitch and sent it to right field, scoring Hosmer and giving the Royals a 5-3 lead heading into the bottom of the eighth. Citi Field fell silent in horrifying astonishment. 

 

Kansas City manager Ned Yost called on arguably the best relief pitcher in the game, Wade Davis, for the six-out save, and he delivered as the Royals stole Game 4 from the stunned Mets.

 

3. Bullpen Mismanagement Continues

In Game 3, both Yost and Collins misused their bullpens. Yost called on two of his top three relievers, Kelvin Herrera and Ryan Madson, for a total of one inning — down six runs. It turns out that using them in Game 3, while useless and perplexing, could prove to be a problematic factor in Game 5.

 

The Royals now have a commanding 3-1 lead in the series with Edinson Volquez returning to take the mound just days after the passing of his father. Volquez’s potential performance is a great unknown, and understandably so. But now, a healthy portion of the Royals' bullpen has been used in consecutive nights in Games 3 and 4, including Madson, Daniel Duffy and Luke Hochevar. So if Volquez gets the early hook, Yost will be limited in who he can call upon from the bullpen for middle innings relief. 

 

While Yost’s bullpen mismanagement could be semi-problematic, Collins' gaffe could be unforgivable. In Game 3 —with a six-run lead, mind you — Collins called upon his three best relievers in the seventh (Addison Reed), eighth (Tyler Clippard) and ninth (Jeurys Familia). Instead of throwing, say Bartolo Colon or Jonathon Niese for a couple of frames, Collins wanted to keep his best relievers ready. All three pitched one inning each as the Mets went on to win Game 3, 9-3. 

 

Game 4 saw a similar script, but entirely different results. While Reed did his job in the seventh, Clippard and Familia couldn't keep the Royals off of the bases or from scoring. The end result was Familia blowing his second save in as many chances during the World Series while Clippard was tagged with the loss after putting the eventual tying and winning runs on via walks.

 

Now, facing elimination, Collins will more than likely have to turn back to his bullpen arms in Game 5, the same arms he has used the past two straight nights. Unless Matt Harvey can go the distance or Jacob deGrom is available out of the bullpen in a pinch, the Mets’ late-inning options could be limited. deGrom coming out of the ‘pen is extremely unlikely, but with the Mets’ back against the wall, it could be Collins’ best play.

 

— Written by Jake Rose, who is a part of the Athlon Sports Contributor Network. An avid baseball fan, Rose also takes time to do some play-by-play work for the radio broadcasts of Middle Tennessee State Blue Raider baseball games. Follow him on Twitter @JakeRose24.

Teaser:
World Series Game 4 Recap: Royals Take Advantage of Mets' Mistakes
Post date: Sunday, November 1, 2015 - 09:00
All taxonomy terms: Denver Broncos, Green Bay Packers, NFL
Path: /nfl/green-bay-packers-vs-denver-broncos-preview-and-prediction-2015
Body:

Although the folks in New England will have something to say about the matter, it’s possible that Sunday night’s meeting between Green Bay and Denver could be a Super Bowl preview. The unbeatens have displayed plenty of punch during their half-dozen victories and will measure themselves for deep postseason success when they meet.

 

The game is packed with fascinating subplots and features some of the game’s biggest stars. It’s a perfect prime-time showcase game and shouldn’t create too much trouble for the team that loses, so long as the defeat isn’t drastic. The Broncos have been particularly impressive defensively this season, while Green Bay’s offensive attack is again extremely potent, thanks to the magical arm of quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

 

Green Bay at Denver

 

Kickoff: 8:30 p.m. ET

TV: NBC

Spread: Green Bay -3

 

Three Things to Watch

 

1. Defensive Posture

Both teams have been extremely tough on the defensive side of the ball and rank first (Green Bay) and second in the league in total points allowed. A big reason has been their success rushing the passer. The Broncos have amassed 26 sacks, while the Packers have trapped opposing QBs 23 times. Denver also has returned three interceptions for touchdowns. “I think [Denver defensive coordinator] Wade [Phillips] does such an incredible job as far as getting his system in and how fast his players have always played at all of his stops that I've had the opportunity to compete against him,” Packers head coach Mike McCarthy said. “Clearly in Denver, it's a very talented defense, they have excellent depth and their numbers speak for themselves. We're very impressed with what we've seen on film.”

 

2. Woe is Peyton

No athlete remains elite forever, so it is hardly surprising that 39-year-old Peyton Manning is finally struggling. He is completing a solid 61.6 percent of his passes and has amassed 1,524 yards through the air, but he has only tossed seven TDs and has been intercepted eight times. Part of it is clearly his relative unfamiliarity with Gary Kubiak’s offense, but part of it is definitely age. Still, it is ridiculous for people to heap criticism on Manning. He remains the quarterback of a 6-0 team and is hardly ready for the waiver wire.

 

3. Very Special

It’s not often the kickers are considered among the main factors in a game, but when the outcome is expected to be tight, it makes a big difference who is trying the big placements. Both teams are extremely strong at kicker. Green Bay’s Mason Crosby has made 10-of-11 field goals this year and is reliable to 50 yards, while the Broncos’ Brandon McManus has been excellent so far, drilling 16-of-17 tries, including 4-of-5 from 50 and beyond. In the thin air, both should be at their best, and one could well decide the game.

 

Final Analysis

 

This is a great midseason matchup and should give both teams strong indications of where they stand in the NFL hierarchy. Green Bay will rely on Rodgers (68.1 percent, 1,491 yards, 15 TDs, 2 INTs) to produce big numbers, especially if top runner James Starks (286 yards) is unable to go because of an injured hip. The Packers must pressure Manning so that he doesn’t get comfortable.

 

Speaking of a big pass rush, it’s important for Denver ends DeMarcus Ware (4.5 sacks) and Von Miller to make Rodgers’ night difficult. Meanwhile, Ronnie Hillman (323 yards) must provide a strong rushing complement to Manning’s passing. Turnovers will be big, since Manning has struggled with interceptions, and Denver has returned three picks to the house already this year.

 

Prediction: Packers 23, Broncos 20

 

— Written by Michael Bradley, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Bradley is a writer and broadcaster based in suburban Philadelphia. Follow him on Twitter @DailyHombre.

Teaser:
Green Bay Packers vs. Denver Broncos Preview and Prediction
Post date: Sunday, November 1, 2015 - 08:30
All taxonomy terms: Dallas Cowboys, NFC, Seattle Seahawks, NFL
Path: /nfl/seattle-seahawks-vs-dallas-cowboys-preview-and-prediction-2015
Body:

The good news is that Dez Bryant will return this week for the Dallas Cowboys. The bad news is it's against a hostile, desperate Seattle Seahawks team that badly needs a win.

 

The Dallas Cowboys (2-4) are sliding right now and need a bolt of energy. Enter Bryant. However, he does not re-enter at 100 percent, and that could be the difference between Dallas' fifth consecutive loss or its first victory in five games. The Cowboys' wide receiver has been missing since Week 1, and the offense has struggled to replace him. The Cowboys' offense has been pedestrian at best, first under the direction of I-am-just-happy-to-be-here Brandon Weeden, and now under the leadership of I-play-for-WHO-now Matt Cassel. Neither quarterback has done much holding the reins of the Cowboys' offense.

 

Weeden averaged only 169 yards passing over three ;games. Cassel came in and played slightly better, throwing for 227 yards, but unlike Weeden, Cassel threw three interceptions in his lone start so far. There is tremendous and growing concerns that neither of these quarterbacks can get the job done until Tony Romo returns, regardless of Bryant's presence and playmaking ability. In addition, the Cowboys have now lost Joseph Randle to "personal problems" and injury, leaving Darren McFadden, Christine Michael and Lucky Whitehead to carry the load in the backfield.

 

The Seattle Seahawks (3-4) have been "About That Life Boss" through three quarters. Now if they could just not surrender late touchdowns and field goals in the fourth quarter. The Seahawks, in all four losses this season, walked into the final 15 minutes with a lead and left the game with a loss. The vaunted defense headlined by the Legion of Boom secondary has& surrendered an average of nearly 29 points per game in the four losses. The challenge for the defense may not be as much about its own breakdowns as much as it is offensive ineptness. The Seattle offense is simply not consistently clicking. When it does, when everything is rolling, Seattle is still Seattle. 

 

Seattle at Dallas

 

Kickoff: 4:25 p.m. ET (Sunday)

TV: FOX

Spread: Seattle   -5

 

Three Things to Watch

 

1. Dez Bryant, X-Factor

Dez Bryant's return is more than just bringing back Dallas' No. 1 wide receiver. There is a real x-factor to his return. If Bryant is 100 percent healthy, which no one thinks that he is, his presence on the field can open up opportunities for other receivers, as well as the running backs. Bryant does not actually have to be the All-Pro receiver he has been. He just has to make Seattle BELIEVE he is a healthy All-Pro wide receiver. If he's nothing more than a possession pass catcher instead of a big-play threat, that could still be enough to open up the running game late, which could seal the deal for the Cowboys.

 

2. The Legion Must Go Boom!

The Legion of Boom has not been booming very much this season. In each of the four losses, the Seahawks have surrendered big play after big play in the fourth quarter. It is these late-game collapses that have everyone in Seattle concerned. The focus of the problem has bee on the oppositions success throwing the ball, but that may not be the real story.The real story may be the execution of the Seattle offense and its inability to control the clock. The real story also may be that Marshawn Lynch has not been able to truly get going as of yet, which has greatly impacted the ball control aspect of the Seahawks' offense that has been such a staple the past two seasons, as Seattle is used to running the football down its opponents' throats. Russell Wilson has seen more than share of carries, but the Seahawks need to get Lynch going to get back their offensive AND defensive confidence.

 

3. Jimmy Want Mo!

The way to open up the Seahawks' offense is very simple: get the ball to Jimmy Graham. Graham dominated in New Orleans, and Seattle was so impressed that they traded away Pro Bowl center Max Unger. It stands to reason, that if you are going to make a major organizational move like that, then you would utilize the weapon you have invested so much in. Graham is one of the hardest pass catchers to cover in the league and one that defenses must respect and pay attention to. If offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell can find a way to get Graham more involved, the attention he will draw from the defense should only help make things easier on Lynch, Fred Jackson, Thomas Rawls and even Wilson in the running game.

 

Final Analysis

 

The Cowboys are getting Dez Bryant back. That will help this offense, especially if Bryant is truly healthy. However, with no Tony Romo, the Cowboys may still struggle with the big plays that Bryant contributes best. If the Cowboys cannot take advantage of Bryant's big-play ability, then they have zero shot to win this game. And against a big-play defense like Seattle, that window is very small. Look for Seattle to make an example out of the Cowboys, especially with last season's loss at CenturyLink Field ;still fresh on the Seahawks' minds.

 

Prediction: Seahawks 24, Cowboys 13

 

— Written by Lloyd H. Spence, Jr., who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Spence also has written for the Dallas Morning News, Yahoo!'s Rivals.com, and ESPN Louisville. Follow him on Twitter @TalkinNOIZ.

Teaser:
Seattle Seahawks vs. Dallas Cowboys Preview and Prediction
Post date: Sunday, November 1, 2015 - 08:00
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy Football, injury updates, NFL, Fantasy
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-week-8-injury-updates-dez-bryant-emmanuel-sanders-eric-decker-anquan-boldin
Body:

Although there are fewer injured players for fantasy owners to deal with in Week 8, banged-up wide receivers still lead the way position-wise. Be sure to read up on the other group of wide receivers, but as far as the second wave goes all eyes on Dallas to see if the Cowboys will have their No. 1 target back on the field.

 

Don’t forget about the injured quarterbacks/tight ends and running backs before setting your starting lineup.

 

Note: All games are at 1 p.m. ET unless otherwise noted.

 

Teams on bye: Buffalo, Jacksonville, Philadelphia, Washington

 

Emmanuel Sanders, WR, Denver Broncos vs Green Bay Packers (Sunday, 8:30 p.m. ET)

Probable – Shoulder

Sanders injured his shoulder at the end of Week 6, but he was able to practice in full and should be good to go. Before they bye, he had two 100-yard games. He has three touchdowns on the year, but Peyton Manning has only thrown seven touchdowns. It's a tough matchup and Manning has struggled, but the bye week may have been good for the entire Denver offense. Sanders is a WR2 this week.

 

Dez Bryant, WR, Dallas Cowboys vs Seattle Seahawks (Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET)

Questionable – Foot

Bryant hasn't played since Week 2, but after practicing the last two weeks, it seems possible that he may be active this week. However, he gets Richard Sherman and the Seattle defense, although the game is in Dallas. Bryant also will be catching passes from Matt Cassel and not Tony Romo, so keep that in mind too. While Bryant is a top-tier wide receiver when healthy, it's tough to trust him in his first game back this week. He's a low WR2.

 

Eric Decker, WR, New York Jets at Oakland Raiders (Sunday, 4:05 p.m. ET)

Questionable – Knee

The reports from the Jets say that all signs point to Decker playing. He has had limited practices this week, but he should be active on Sunday. It's tough because it is a later game, but for now, assume that Decker will be active in a good matchup. Most likely, fantasy owners don't have better options, but if they do, consider them in case Decker does not play. If he is active, he's a WR3.

 

Anquan Boldin, WR, San Francisco 49ers at St. Louis Rams

Questionable – Hamstring

Boldin showed up on the injury report after tweaking his hamstring in practice on Thursday and then not practicing on Friday. He has told reporters that he is playing on Sunday, despite the questionable tag. Boldin has put together a very up-and-down season, mostly the result of his quarterback struggling. He has two games with 100 or more yards and four games with less than 40. It's a tough matchup and until Colin Kaepernick gets right, it's hard to trust any of his pass catchers. Boldin is a WR3 this week.

 

Davante Adams, WR, Green Bay Packers at Denver Broncos (Sunday, 8:30 p.m. ET)

Probable – Ankle

After trying to play in Week 3, Adams has let his ankle heal, but he is ready to go in Week 8. He is the third receiver for the Packers in a tough matchup, so even if you've been hanging onto him, he is a WR4 with upside. James Jones steals the red zone work, and Randall Cobb is the No. 1 WR. However, Adams should find himself with a role in an offense that loves throwing the ball.

 

Victor Cruz, WR, New York Giants at New Orleans Saints

Out – Calf

Cruz is still out and it isn't clear when he'll be back. He isn't practicing and with six teams on a bye next week, if you need to drop him for the roster spot, don't hesitate to do so. It's unclear how effective or what his role will be when (if) he does get back on the field this year.

 

— 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:
Fantasy Football Week 8 Injury Updates: Dez Bryant, Emmanuel Sanders, Eric Decker, Anquan Boldin
Post date: Sunday, November 1, 2015 - 06:00
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy Football, injury updates, NFL, Fantasy
Path: /fantasy/week-8-fantasy-football-injury-updates-vincent-jackson-odell-beckham-jr-steve-smith-john-brown
Body:

While reading this injury report is great to help you determine your fantasy starting lineup, be sure to always check the inactive list before game time on Sunday morning. Last week, Jeremy Maclin was listed as questionable, but we all thought he would play. However, he was a surprise inactive, and many people were burned by taking a zero in his starting spot. This week, he is listed as probable and has practiced in full, so he should be active, but always double check.

 

Also be sure to get the complete Week 8 injury picture by reading up on the other wide receivers, as well as the key quarterbacks/tight ends and running backs.

 

Note: All games are at 1 p.m. ET unless otherwise noted.

 

Teams on bye: Buffalo, Jacksonville, Philadelphia, Washington

 

Odell Beckham Jr., WR, New York Giants at New Orleans Saints

Probable – Hamstring
Beckham will play this week, which is great news for fantasy owners. He was able to practice this week, so he may be getting healthier. While ODB hasn't been the top-3 WR that may fantasy owners hoped for this season, he has been a solid WR2 with WR1 upside. Against the Saints this week, ODB can be penciled in as a WR1. He has four touchdowns this season, and after this week, it should be more.

 

Vincent Jackson, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Atlanta Falcons

Doubtful – Knee

While the Buccaneers have refused to officially rule VJax out, he's not going to play on Sunday after injuring his knee and not practicing all week. While reports have varied from him being out for multiple weeks or being able to play next week, the reality is he's out today, and Mike Evans will be fed the ball as much as possible. Look for Doug Martin to also have an expanded role in the passing game, with Charles Sims jumping in as well. The receivers behind Jackson on the depth chart

(Donteea Dye as an example) are just desperation options.

 

Steve Smith Sr., WR, Baltimore Ravens at San Diego Chargers

Probable – Knee

With three 100-yard games this season, Smith is easily on the WR2 radar this week. He will play on Sunday in a good matchup with San Diego. He has three touchdowns on the year as well and the knee injury isn't a concern for a guy that is playing with fractures in his back. He should be started this week and Kamar Aiken falls back to a bye-week fill-in.

 

John Brown, WR, Arizona Cardinals at Cleveland Browns

Questionable – Hamstring

The good news for fantasy owners is that Brown is playing in an early game this week, as his status will likely come down to a game-time decision. Brown apparently has hamstring injuries in both legs, and Arizona does have a bye in Week 9. It wouldn't be surprising to see him sit this week and get healthy for Week 10 and beyond. However, if he is active, start him as a WR1.

 

Cecil Shorts, WR, Houston Texans vs Tennessee Titans

Out – Hamstring

When Shorts has been out, Nate Washington has stepped up (even though last week's 9/127/2 stat line was mostly fueled by garbage time). Shorts is out again this week, pushing Washington onto the WR3 radar. The matchup is a good one, although the Texans have struggled offensively when Arian Foster hasn't been leading the offense. While they struggle to replace Foster, shy away from the Texans’ offense (outside of DeAndre Hopkins) if possible.

 

Leonard Hankerson, WR, Atlanta Falcons vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Out – Hamstring

After pulling his hamstring in Week 7 (and leaving fantasy owners with a zero), Hankerson has been ruled out for Week 8. He has been disappointing following the first four games of the season, and can be dropped in 10-team leagues. Fantasy owners searching for a desperation option can look to Justin Hardy, a rookie who may have a role depending on his performance. Roddy White will be in the mix and Julio Jones gets a bigger boost than usual.

 

Harry Douglas, WR, Tennessee Titans at Houston Texans

Out – Ribs

Last week when Douglas was out, it looked like it could be an opportunity for Dorial Green-Beckham. The reality for those that started DGB: a zero. It's hard to trust any Titans wide receiver, although the matchup is good and Zach Mettenberger proved competent in Week 7. Justin Hunter is the flyer for fantasy owners that are desperate, but he’s the epitome of “boom or bust.”

 

— 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 8 Fantasy Football Injury Updates: Vincent Jackson, Odell Beckham Jr., Steve Smith, John Brown
Post date: Sunday, November 1, 2015 - 06:00
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy Football, injury updates, NFL, Fantasy
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-week-8-injury-updates-adrian-peterson-james-starks-carlos-hyde-joseph-randle
Body:

Somehow, in the middle of the football season, the Week 8 running back injury report is the shortest that it has been in a while, not that fantasy owners are complaining. Charcandrick West and Melvin Gordon aren't on this injury report because even though they have a probable tag, they practiced in full and will play on Sunday. Be sure to check out the wide receiver (part 1, part 2) and the quarterback/tight end injury report as well.

 

Note: All games are at 1 p.m. ET on Sunday unless otherwise noted.

 

Teams on bye: Buffalo, Jacksonville, Philadelphia, Washington

 

Adrian Peterson, RB, Minnesota Vikings at Chicago Bears

Probable – Hip

Peterson did miss practice Wednesday and Thursday, but these were likely rest days for the veteran. He practiced on Friday and the probable tag means he's nearly a sure thing for Sunday. He's a top-3 running back for a great matchup against Chicago. He only has two 100-yard rushing games this year and only three touchdowns. However, he should find the end zone against a terrible Chicago defense.

 

Carlos Hyde, RB, San Francisco 49ers at St. Louis Rams

Out – Foot

With a bye looming in Week 10, it is possible Hyde sits not just this week, but next week as well. He has a stress fracture in his foot, and the only way for that to heal is to rest. He did not practice this week, and was clearly playing through pain in Week 7. He only had 40 rushing yards, and for his own health, the 49ers will likely try to rest him as much as possible. Reggie Bush and Mike Davis will fill in for Hyde, but neither is an earth-shattering fantasy option. Bush is a RB3 with slightly more value in PPR leagues; Davis is a desperation fill-in.

 

James Starks, RB, Green Bay Packers at Denver Broncos (Sunday, 8:30 p.m. ET)

Questionable – Hip

After rushing for 112 yards and a touchdown in Week 6 before the bye, Starks now shows up on the injury report. It was looking like Starks might start over Eddie Lacy, but now it's unclear if Starks even plays. It's good news for Lacy owners, as Lacy becomes a RB2, and Starks should remain on fantasy benches. Between the tough matchup, the Sunday night game and the hip injury, Starks is too much of a risk this week.

 

Joseph Randle, RB, Dallas Cowboys vs Seattle Seahawks (Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET)

Out – Back

With everything going on surrounding Randle, it's not surprising that he is ruled out for Week 8. Whether it is the oblique injury that is keeping him out or not, the bottom line is Darren McFadden has jumped ahead of him on the depth chart. At this point, Randle is worth holding onto until more information (regarding a possible suspension) is revealed. McFadden isn't exactly the picture of health, so Randle may have value in the future. For Week 8, consider McFadden a RB2.

 

Joique Bell, RB, Detroit Lions at Kansas City Chiefs (9:30 a.m. ET, London)

Probable – Ankle

Bell will be active on Sunday, but at this point, the Lions’ backfield is a mess. Bell had five touches in Week 7 – three carries for 21 yards and two receptions for 14 yards. So, while he's active, he's not worth starting in most fantasy leagues. Ameer Abdullah and Theo Riddick are also in the mix and they all detract from each other's value. Kansas City's run defense is stronger than its pass defense, so Bell is a desperation play only.

 

Bilal Powell, RB, New York Jets at Oakland Raiders (Sunday, 4:05 p.m. ET)

Out – Ankle

Powell being out again just opens the door for Chris Ivory to have a great game against a mediocre Raiders rushing defense with no one taking carries from him. While the Jets did activate Stevan Ridley, it is unlikely that he will see the field this week. Keep Ivory as a RB1. Powell can be dropped in most formats, and Ridley is worth an add as an Ivory handcuff.

 

— 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:
Fantasy Football Week 8 Injury Updates: Adrian Peterson, James Starks, Carlos Hyde, Joseph Randle
Post date: Sunday, November 1, 2015 - 06:00
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy Football, injury updates, NFL, Fantasy
Path: /fantasy/week-8-fantasy-football-injury-updates-ben-roethlisberger-josh-mccown-antonio-gates-marcus-mariota
Body:

While there are four teams on bye in Week 8, it’s still a surprisingly light week for injuries, which is good news for fantasy owners. Hopefully it's not the calm before the storm, however! In looking at quarterbacks and tight ends, it seems like most of these are clear-cut, with the exception of Antonio Gates again. However, at least this week the Chargers play at 1 p.m. ET.

 

Not included on this list is Travis Kelce, who is probable and put in full practices, so he'll be active on Sunday (early game, in London, for him). Be sure to also check out the latest on the injured running backs and wide receivers (group 1, group 2) too.

 

Note: All games are at 1 p.m. ET on Sunday unless otherwise noted.

 

Teams on bye: Buffalo, Jacksonville, Philadelphia, Washington

 

Josh McCown, QB, Cleveland Browns vs Arizona Cardinals

Questionable – Shoulder
After a four-game streak of at least 200 yards and two touchdowns, McCown had a down week last Sunday with 270 yards, no touchdowns, but also no interceptions. However, the biggest takeaway from the game was that he hurt his shoulder. It appears that he will get the start and play on Sunday, but Johnny Manziel may also see some snaps. The matchup against the Cardinals is a tough one, as they have allowed the seventh-fewest fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks. They have allowed touchdowns, but don't count on a banged-up McCown to help lead your fantasy team to victory this week. He's barely on the QB2 radar.

 

Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Cincinnati Bengals

Probable – Knee

After injuring his knee in Week 3, Roethlisberger is set to return this week against Cincinnati. He can be inserted into lineups as a QB1 and owners of Antonio Brown can breathe a sigh of relief. While Roethlisberger may be limited a bit in terms of mobility, he should be able to play well enough to reward fantasy owners that have held onto him over the past five weeks.

 

Antonio Gates, TE, San Diego Chargers at Baltimore Ravens

Questionable – Knee

Dealing with a sprained MCL, Gates sat out last week. He still hasn’t been able to practice, so it’s highly likely he misses a second straight game. Ladarius Green will fill in as a TE1 in a great matchup. If Gates plays, he maintains TE1 status, but don’t count on him making an appearance. The typical timeline for a MCL injury is a few weeks, so fantasy owners should prepare to be without Gates in Week 8. See if he practices next week for his Week 9 status.

 

Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Atlanta Falcons

Doubtful – Shoulder

Seferian-Jenkins hasn't played in a game since Week 2, however, he did return to practice this week. With Vincent Jackson (knee) likely out, it was possible that Seferian-Jenkins could play today. The doubtful tag doesn’t offer a lot of hope though. However, ASJ will likely be back next week, so if he is available in your league, and you can afford the roster spot, he is worth adding.

 

Marcus Mariota, QB, Tennessee Titans at Houston Texans

Out – Knee

After missing Week 7, Mariota has already been ruled out for today’s game. Zach Mettenberger wasn't amazing in his start, but he was serviceable with 187 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. The matchup against Houston is a great one, as the Texans have given up the fourth-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks. They've allowed at least one touchdown pass each week. Mettenberger is a QB2.

 

— 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 8 Fantasy Football Injury Updates: Ben Roethlisberger, Josh McCown, Antonio Gates, Marcus Mariota
Post date: Sunday, November 1, 2015 - 06:00
Path: /college-football/miami-beats-duke-improbable-touchdown-final-play-game
Body:

Crazy. That’s about the best way to sum up the ending to Saturday night’s Miami-Duke game.

 

After the Blue Devils scored a touchdown and a two-point conversion in the final minute to take a 27-24 lead, Miami scored on an improbable kick return to win 30-27. The Hurricanes used eight laterals to move the ball around the field, with Corn Elder eventually breaking free for the touchdown.

 

However, the ending wasn’t without controversy. A lengthy review ensued as the officials checked whether or not a knee was down or if any of the laterals were a forward pass. Despite some evidence to suggest a knee was down, as well as a block in the back – was it reviewed or not and eventually removed? – the referees confirmed the Miami touchdown, giving interim coach Larry Scott the victory.

 

Another Saturday, another crazy finish. 

 

Teaser:
Miami Beats Duke on Improbable Touchdown on Final Play of Game
Post date: Saturday, October 31, 2015 - 23:18
All taxonomy terms: Overtime
Path: /overtime/rob-gronkowski-trick-or-treats-stephen-colbert-patriots
Body:

Halloween is a special occasion for kids, and some adults.

 

Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski showed up at Stephen Colbert's doorstep in a pretty awesome costume. I expected him to get some candy and give it the good old Gronk spike.

 

Teaser:
Post date: Saturday, October 31, 2015 - 14:39
All taxonomy terms: Kansas City Royals, New York Mets, MLB
Path: /mlb/world-series-game-four-preview-kansas-city-royals-vs-new-york-mets-2015
Body:

David Wright is one heck of a ball player — always has been. It feels as if that has been forgotten over the course of the past five seasons. Wright has missed 268 games since the start of the 2011 season, including 124 games this season, thanks to a constant barrage of injuries. One DL stint after the other, it seems.

 

Wright, 32, is the Mets’ captain and long-time third baseman. He is truly one of the good guys of the game, always smiling, cordial, interacting with fans at the ballpark or on the New York City streets — one of the easiest players an opposing fan could ever root for. He is a career .298/.377/.462 hitter, a seven-time All-Star, and a two-time Gold Glove and Silver Slugger award winner, and at one time seemed like a sure-fire Hall of Famer. 

 

But last night was the moment that Wright and Mets fans had been waiting for, the moment that would erase all of those pesky injuries, the back issues, the time spent on the DL, the six straight losing seasons — even if just for that moment. And when that moment finally arrived, Wright delivered.

 

With Curtis Granderson on first and the Mets trailing 1-0 in the bottom of the first, Wright stepped in against Yordano Ventura. Wright turned on an 0-1, 96 MPH fastball from Ventura, sending it deep into the left-center field bleachers and transforming Citi Field into a New York ruckus. Wright knew it was gone as soon as hide hit lumber.

 

Wright wasn’t done. For an encore, he added two more RBIs in the bottom of the sixth inning with a bases loaded, one-out single, a line drive bullet to center, scoring Juan Uribe and Wilmer Flores, breaking the game wide open for the Mets as they took Game 3, 9-3.

 

Mets fans turned Citi Field into somewhat of a homecoming for Wright last night. It was a celebration for Wright as the player and as the Mets’ captain both on and off the field. I’ve never rooted for the Mets a day in my life, but as Wright rounded first base after his first inning home run, I couldn’t help but smile for him. 

 

Good for you David Wright. You deserve it.

 

World Series Game 4: Kansas City Royals at New York Mets

Time: 8 p.m. ET (Saturday)

TV: FOX

Pitching Matchup: RH Chris Young (11-6, 3.06) vs. LH Steven Matz (4-0, 2.27)

 

Three Things to Watch

 

1. Mound Matchup

Royals manager Ned Yost will send veteran right-hander, Chris Young, to the mound tonight for Kansas City. Young’s start will be his second appearance in this series, as he pitched three sterling relief frames back in the Game 1 marathon, throwing 53 pitches and earning the win for the Royals in 14 innings. Young may resemble Randy Johnson because of his tall frame (6-10), but none of his pitches echo that of the Big Unit’s. Young uses his height more for deception, utilizing different arm angles to fool hitters with his off-speed pitches and breaking fastball that hardly ever tops 90 mph. Since Young did pitch in Game 1, surely Yost will be quick to go to his bullpen in the early innings if necessary.

 

Lefty Steven Matz is tasked with tying the series for the Mets. Matt grew up in the New York area and is a lifelong Mets fan, so this moment has to land somewhere near childhood fantasy territory. Matz threw just 35 2/3 innings in six regular season starts after a torn lat muscle sidelined the 24-year-old for a majority of the summer. In his first postseason appearance, Matz earned the loss in Game 4 of the NLDS against the Dodgers, giving up three runs over six innings. He rebounded in Game 4 of the NLCS against the Cubs, surrendering just one run and four hits over 4 2/3 innings.

 

Matz will be commuting from his parents’ home in Long Island to Citi Field before his Game 4 start — a drive he will surely relish.

 

2. Managers' Bullpen Maneuvers

In Game 3, both Yost and the Mets’ Terry Collins used most of their best bullpen arms, and I can’t quite figure out why. Yost’s situation was a little more understandable. Entering the bottom of the sixth inning, the Royals were down 5-3. Franklin Morales had an inning he would rather forget, allowing four runs with a hit batter, two hits, and a mental breakdown that loaded the bases for David Wright with one out. We know how that turned out.

 

But after the Morales’ gaffe, Yost called upon Kelvin Herrera, one of the best relievers in baseball to get out of the jam — already down three. Herrera forfeited a hit and a run, but ultimately got out of the inning. In the seventh, Yost tabbed Ryan Madson to pitch — another one of the best relievers in baseball — down four. I understand that Yost wanted to keep the game close for his rather hot offense, but why would he throw two of his three best relievers knowing that Chris Young was taking the mound the next night on a short leash and short rest? Weird.

 

But Collins only increased the head scratching by using his three best bullpen arms in the final innings. Addison Reed pitched in the seventh, Tyler Clippard in the eighth, and Jeurys Familia in the ninth — all with a six-run lead. Some may argue that Collins was simply keeping his best bullpen arms fresh, and in the case of Familia, getting him additional work to move past the blown save from Game 1. But why would Familia lack for confidence? He's been the best closer in the game since July. Baffling.

 

Collins finds himself in the same position as Yost, as both have used their best bullpen pitchers the night before both starting pitchers are likely to be pulled early.

 

3. Can the Mets’ bats stay hot?

Game 3 was a Gotham City revival for the Mets. After the heartbreak of Game 1 and the beating in Game 2, the series could have gotten away from the Mets last night. The Mets battled back with a fantastic offensive showing that was desperately needed. Both Granderson and Wright went 2-for-5 with two-run home runs. Wright chipped in four RBIs while Granderson scores three times.

 

Granderson had quietly been the best hitter in the Mets’ lineup in the early goings of the series, but finally received the support New York desperately needed in Game 3. Assuming Granderson stays hot at the top of the lineup, who else can step up for the Mets? If it isn’t Wright or Yoenis Cespedes, it could be Lucas Duda. Duda is hitting .455 in the series thus far, but only has scored once with a single RBI and doesn't have an extra-base hit. The slugging first baseman would be a welcome addition to the recent Mets’ hit parade.

 

Final Analysis

 

I like the Mets to tie up the series tonight in Flushing, N.Y. Emotions are going to be riding high in the New York clubhouse after last night’s drubbing. The Mets are thinking they can jump all over the crafty Chris Young early tonight as they did Yordano Ventura last night. If Steven Matz can limit the Royals to only a few runs over the first four or five innings, the Mets have to like their chances.

 

Prediction: Mets 5, Royals 4

 

— Written by Jake Rose, who is a part of the Athlon Sports Contributor Network. An avid baseball fan, Rose also takes time to do some play-by-play work for the radio broadcasts of Middle Tennessee State Blue Raider baseball games. Follow him on Twitter @JakeRose24.

Teaser:
World Series Game 4 Preview: Kansas City Royals vs. New York Mets
Post date: Saturday, October 31, 2015 - 12:45
All taxonomy terms: Kansas City Royals, New York Mets, MLB
Path: /mlb/world-series-2015-game-3-recap-mets-bats-back-syndergaard-rout-royals
Body:

In order to save their season and this World Series from the brink of elimination, the New York Mets needed to jump on Kansas City Royals starter Yordano Ventura in the early innings and show some grit in the batter’s box. Mets’ starter Noah Syndergaard showed his own moxie with the very first pitch of the game, buzzing the tower of white-hot leadoff hitter Alcides Escobar, allowing Escobar to sit on his backside for a few moments before striking him out swinging.

 

The Royals' lineup that had been raking to start the series, struck first for the second time in three games, this time on an Eric Hosmer RBI groundout that scored Ben Zobrist. It seemed as if all series long the Royals have had the answer for the Mets' power arms and Syndergaard was simply the next victim.

 

But for everything that the Royals did offensively in the early innings, the Mets’ bats finally had an answer. Mets’ captain and third baseman David Wright responded by sending an 0-1 pitch to the left-center field bleachers for a two-out, two-run home run, giving the Mets a 2-1 lead and sending Citi Field into a deafening frenzy. 

 

The Royals came back with two more runs of their own in the top of the second, thanks to Alex Rios’ one-out, line-drive single to left field, scoring Salvador Perez. After a passed ball got by Mets’ catcher Travis d’Arnaud, Rios scored the go-ahead run, restoring the Royals' lead at 3-2 going into the bottom of the second. 

 

The Kansas City lead was to be short-lived. After Syndergaard singled to start off the bottom of the second, Mets leadoff hitter Curtis Granderson stepped into the batter’s box to face the flame-throwing Ventura. Granderson sent a 2-1 pitch from Ventura zooming into the Flushing night, as the ball just cleared the far right field fence, giving the Mets a 4-3 lead and Granderson his second hit of the night. 

 

Ventura’s night didn't get any better. Lucas Duda led off the bottom of the fourth with a single, followed by a double to left from d'Arnaud to put two runners into scoring position with no outs. Then rookie left fielder Michael Conforto hit a chopper to no man’s land between first and second base. Royals Gold Glove first baseman Eric Hosmer fielded it, ranging far away from the bag, leaving him with no play. Duda scored and after a pop up in foul territory from Mets shortstop and No. 8 hitter Wilmer Flores, Ventura's night was over, exiting the game trailing 5-3. His final line for the night was not pretty: (3 1/3 IP, 7 H, 5 ER, K, 2 HR). The Mets did exactly what they needed to do — striking early against Ventura.

 

On the other hand, after a rough first two innings, Syndergaard settled down with four straight scoreless frames, finishing the night with six innings pitched, giving up just three earned runs on seven hits, two walks while striking out six. 

 

After Ventura exited stage left, the Royals ran an assembly line of relievers to the mound over the next two innings including Danny Duffy, Luke Hochervar and Franklin Morales. The Mets were able to tag Morales in the bottom of the sixth, as a single, a hit by pitch and the another single by pinch-hitter Juan Uribe scored Juan Lagares. The next batter, Granderson, hit a high chopper back to Morales in front of the mound. Morales hesitated between throwing the ball to try to get one of the two runners already on base. Ultimately, Morales threw the ball well wide of second base, as all runners were safe on the fielder's choice. Morales' night was over just 22 pitches in. 

 

Kelvin Herrera replaced Morales, but the nightmare inning was only made worse when Wright knocked in two more runs with a one-out line drive into center field, scoring Uribe and Flores, Wright’s third and fourth RBIs on the night. The bottom of the sixth finally ended three batters, but not before Yoenis Cespedes’ sacrifice fly drove in Granderson, giving the Mets a 9-3 lead. 

 

Addison Reed took over the mound for the Mets in the seventh and sat down the Royals in short order, as did Tyler Clippard in the eighth and Jeurys Familia in the ninth to lock up New York's first win of the Series. Mets manager Terry Collins’ move to use his three best relief pitchers with a six-run lead was more than interesting — and quite frankly, perplexing. 

 

But the bottom line is that the Mets did exactly what they needed to do: put up runs against Ventura early and not allow the Royals to utilize their top-notch bullpen. The New York lineup, led by Wright and Granderson, finally delivered, scoring nine runs on 12 hits. The Mets showed the grit necessary to get back into this series, right from the first pitch.

 

Game 4 is tonight at Citi Field, with first pitch coming at 8:07 p.m. ET. The Royals will send their veteran hurler Chris Young to the mound against the Mets’ young lefty, Steven Matz.

 

— Written by Jake Rose, who is a part of the Athlon Sports Contributor Network. An avid baseball fan, Rose also takes time to do some play-by-play work for the radio broadcasts of Middle Tennessee State Blue Raider baseball games. Follow him on Twitter @JakeRose24.

Teaser:
World Series Game 3 Recap: Mets' Bats Back Syndergaard in 9-3 Rout of Royals
Post date: Saturday, October 31, 2015 - 10:00
All taxonomy terms: Overtime
Path: /overtime/espn-suspends-grantland-bill-simmons
Body:

Once Bill Simmons walked out of the doors of Grantland, people knew it would never be the same.

 

Now that many other staffers have left, some to follow Simmons and others to branch out, there was only one thing for ESPN to do (allegedly). They are suspending the publication, effective immediately. Five months after the depature of the site's creator, it is no more.

 

 

"After careful consideration, we have decided to direct our time and energy going forward to projects that we believe will have a broader and more significant impact across our enterprise."

 

Simmons tweeted shortly after to give his thoughts.

 

 

This comes a huge blow to the loyal followers and staff of Grantland. Some had to find out on Twitter about the decision of ESPN.

 

 

One of Grantland's more-known writers, Zach Lowe, summed up the feelings of most. 

 

Teaser:
Post date: Friday, October 30, 2015 - 14:21
Path: /nfl/cincinnati-bengals-vs-pittsburgh-steelers-preview-and-prediction-2015
Body:

If the Cincinnati Bengals defeat the Pittsburgh Steelers this Sunday they will almost assuredly win the AFC North. Standing 2 1/2 games ahead of the Steelers, the 6-0 Bengals have been so healthy they have yet to make a roster change.

 

Know those skeptics quarterback Andy Dalton has? He's the NFL's top-ranked passer. The Bengals' offensive line has allowed only six sacks, second best in the NFL. They've displayed innovation in practice, utilizing GPS technology and less physicality at week's end, and half their victories have been by more than one score.

 

Yet the Bengals are not gloating, instead showing the respect for the Steelers (4-3) that Pittsburgh has earned over the years. An impressive start means nothing without victory against the traditional division power.

 

Pittsburgh, meanwhile, has come to a less-than-surprising conclusion. They're not going anywhere without Ben Roethlisberger. Know the fans who said they'd be happy with the Steelers going 2-2 with Big Ben out? That's what they've done, complete with losses to a pair of five-loss teams.

 

Does the AFC belong to Cincy, New England and Denver this year? Or can the Steelers enter into the mix? We'll likely know late Sunday afternoon.

 

Cincinnati at Pittsburgh

 

Kickoff: 1 p.m. ET (Sunday)

TV: CBS

Spread: Bengals -2.5

 

Three Things to Watch

 

1. How will Roethlisberger Play?

The Steelers would have little chance of winning without Big Ben, but the question is if he will be rushed back from his knee injury. There have been times when Roethlisberger came back from injury and it revived the franchise, witness the 2005 Super Bowl season. Other times, such as 2006 and '11, he also was rushed back and the result was poor.

 

In 2006, Roethlisberger came back only one week after undergoing an appendectomy. In the ensuing 9-0 loss at Jacksonville Roethlisberger was physically weak. Furthermore, the game set the tone for the Steelers' 2-6 start in Bill Cowher's final season as Pittsburgh's head coach.

 

Five years later Roethlisberger was asked to play on a bum ankle at the end of the season, and not only did the Steelers' offense struggle down the stretch but he was sluggish in the playoffs, completing just 22 of 40 pass attempts and suffering five sacks in an overtime defeat to Tim Tebow's Denver Broncos.

 

The problem is that the Steelers don't have a Charlie Batch to pinch hit. Last week in a 23-13 loss at Kansas City, newly christened second-string quarterback Landry Jones committed three turnovers and many of his passes were underthrown.

 

Yes, he did have an impressive debut against Arizona the week before, but it likely came after the Cardinals' defense had prepared for Michael Vick, who was held to just six yards passing before leaving in the third quarter with a hamstring injury.

 

2. The running games

Le'Veon Bell kept the Steelers afloat during Roethlisberger's absence with his exceptional abilities. Against Kansas City there were times everyone knew Bell would get the ball, then grind out, say, a 12-yard gain off right tackle.

 

Roethlisberger and Bell have only played one full half together this season, but Bell has averaged more than 20 carries a game and would likely be the NFL's leading rusher if not for a two-game suspension to open the season.

 

So even with Roethlisberger back, doesn't it make sense the Steelers will be more inclined to run the ball on 3rd-and-2? Would you want your only hope at quarterback to drop back and throw any more than he has to in his first game back from injury with two starters out on the offensive line, especially with such a strong ground game? And if the Steelers go back to attempting 2-point conversions after touchdowns, could Bell become more of a factor than a rollout pass?

 

The interesting thing about Cincinnati's running game is its leading rusher, Giovani Bernard, is not the starter. That honor belongs to Jeremy Hill, who has roughly half the yards of Bernard but more than double the touchdowns (5 to 2).

 

Also of note is the presence of running back Ben Tate on the Bengals' roster. Tate started the Steelers' playoff loss against Baltimore last year.

 

3. Dalton against the Steelers' pass defense

The Steelers' defense has improved from last season, where the team was built to win 51-34 games, to this season, where they have triumphed by a 12-6 score. They've done it with a revived pass rush thanks to new defensive coordinator's Keith Butler's Bison Blitz, which has often asked players such as cornerback William Gay to come out of nowhere to rush the passer.

 

Yet they are still allowing 277 yards a game through the air. If this trend continues it would be the worst total in team history.

 

Such statistics can be misleading; the Steelers had the worst pass defense in the NFL in 1960, for instance, but since teams did not throw as much as they do now they did not give up as many yards. Colin Kaepernick threw for a lot of garbage time yards while losing 43-18 to the Steelers; Carson Palmer threw for 421 yards yet could only produce 13 points in another loss.

 

Still, there has been drama around the Steelers' secondary; will safety Will Allen return? Will Cortez Allen be missed? Why did they trade for Brandon Boykin if they aren't going to play him?

 

With the Bengals' pass protection so good, and the season Dalton is having, this may be the season's most significant opportunity for the Steelers to show just how talented their secondary is or is not.

 

Final Analysis

 

If all things are equal, the Steelers' offense is more diverse than the Bengals'. But all things are not equal.

 

Prediction: Bengals 25, Steelers 23

 

— Written by Marky Billson, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. An experienced beat reporter and sports writer, Billson began contributing to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in 2000. He has covered the Steelers, Pitt Panthers, MLB and more during his career. Follow him on Twitter @MarkyBillson.

Teaser:
Cincinnati Bengals vs. Pittsburgh Steelers Preview and Prediction
Post date: Friday, October 30, 2015 - 14:00
All taxonomy terms: New Orleans Saints, New York Giants, NFC, NFL
Path: /nfl/new-york-giants-vs-new-orleans-saints-preview-and-prediction-2015
Body:

The Giants hold a one-game lead over Philadelphia and Washington for first place in the NFC East. Considering how tight the division race is, this game carries a lot of weight for New York. Despite playing an opponent outside of the division, it is still against a conference foe. This tight divisional race could end up being decided based on which team has the most victories within the NFC.

 

The Saints have rebounded from their 0-3 start by winning three of the last four games. If they have any hope of claiming one of the two wild card spots, a win this Sunday is a must. A head-to-head victory against a team with whom they might possibly be tied in the conference standings is essential.

 

New York leads the overall series record, 15-12. However, regarding games played in New Orleans, the Giants trail 3-8. They have not won in the Superdome since Dec. 20, 1993.

 

New York at New Orleans

 

Kickoff: 1 p.m. ET (Sunday)

TV: FOX

Spread: Saints -3.5

 

Three Things to Watch

 

1.  Pressuring Eli Manning?   

With a secondary short on professional experience and overall quality, the Saints' front seven must put constant pressure on the opposing quarterback. On the season, New Orleans has sacked opposing quarterbacks 16 times. In New Orleans' three victories, the team is averaging four sacks per game.

 

In contrast, Manning has only been sacked nine times in seven games. Opponents have only managed to sack him as many as three times in a game just once thus far.

 

2.  Increasingly generous Giant defense giving away the game?

The Giants have allowed 401.7 yards per game.  In their three losses, they have given up at least that amount. When they have held an opponent under that average, they won all three games. When the Saints' offense has been held under that figure, New Orleans has gone just 1-3.

 

The Giants are allowing 113.4 rushing yards per game. However, they have only allowed three opponents to go over the century mark. Those have occurred in the last three games. Last week, the Cowboys gashed New York's defense for 233 yards on the ground. The Giants have allowed 16 rushing touchdowns, including four in each of their past two games. 

 

3. Saints' run versus pass balance

The Saints need to have a semblance of a running game to keep the Giants off-balance. If not, New York will blitz Drew Brees and drop its safeties into coverage on every play. The number of passing plays as opposed to running must be even or very close. When the Saints' number of passes has exceeded the number of rushing attempts by 10 or more the Saints are 1-3.  Of the four games when the Saints have not gained at least 100 yards on the ground, they have lost three of those.

 

Final Analysis

 

The Giants need to win to remain ahead of the Eagles and Redskins in a tight NFC East. The Saints need a victory to even their record at .500. These situations should spur both teams into a hard-fought contest. Viewers will see a game that remains a nail-biter until the final minute. Overtime will probably be needed to break a tie at the end of regulation. The Dome-field advantage will nudge this one into the win column for the Black and Gold.

 

Prediction: Saints 26, Giants 20

 

— Written by John La Fleur, a contributor to AthlonSports.com, who focuses on the New Orleans Saints and Michigan State Spartans. He also frequently comments on other teams in the NFL and in NCAA football. Follow him on Twitter @FBConnoisseur.

Teaser:
New York Giants vs. New Orleans Saints Preview and Prediction
Post date: Friday, October 30, 2015 - 13:30
All taxonomy terms: Detroit Lions, Kansas City Chiefs, NFL
Path: /nfl/detroit-lions-vs-kansas-city-chiefs-preview-and-prediction-2015
Body:

Another riveting installment of the London series takes place Sunday morning as the (2-5) Kansas City Chiefs look to win their second consecutive game when they take on the Detroit Lions (1-6).

 

The last time the Lions were across the pond, they provided Londoners with one of the more exciting finishes you will see with a last-second field goal as time expired to beat the Atlanta Falcons. A win for Detroit this time around would do little in the standings, but is much-needed for a team that is tied for the worst record in the league.

 

This will be the Chiefs' debut appearance in London.

 

Detroit Lions at Kansas City Chiefs (London)


Kickoff: 9:30 a.m. ET (Sunday)
TV Channel: FOX
Spread: Lions -2.5

 

Three Things to Watch

 

1. Coaching hot seat
In each of the past two seasons a head coach in the NFL has been fired after making the trip back following the London game. Last year it was Oakland Raiders head coach Dennis Allen and earlier this season Joe Philbin following the Dolphins' blowout loss to the Jets in Week 4. The Lions now make the trip overseas with head coach Jim Caldwell squarely on the hot seat after the team’s 1-6 start in 2015, and that seat will only grow warmer if Detroit puts up another embarrassing performance like they did against the Vikings a week ago. When a team has the talent as Detroit does to compete on a weekly basis, and it continues to lose in the fashion it has been, the blame falls squarely on coaching. Will the recent shakeup of the coaching staff finally light a fire under this team?

 

2. Chiefs head East with West
Charcandrick West became a household name amongst fantasy football owners three weeks ago after Jamaal Charles went down with a season-ending knee injury. That popularity dropped considerably after his first career start ended with just 33 yards rushing against the Vikings. West fared much better against the Steelers last week, topping 100 yards rushing and getting his first career touchdown in the win. Asked by reporters this week what is his goal against Detroit, West jokingly stated, “Two hundred yards and three touchdowns.” Against a reeling Lions defense, that is not out of the realm of possibilities.

 

3. Lions to stay in London?

The Detroit fan base has reached a new boiling point with the organization after another poor start that will likely result in yet another season of not making the playoffs. So bad in fact that some Detroit fans have started a petition to keep the team from returning to the U.S. following the game in London. As is stands on Thursday, there are currently 360 signatures and just under 100,000 are needed for this to actually happen. For those that don't know, yes, this is what is it has come to being a Lions fan.
 

Final Analysis

 

Good thing this game is on early in the morning, otherwise nobody on this side of the pond would be paying attention. The Chiefs had a nice win last week against a Ben Roethlisberger-less Steelers team, but hopes remain slim that this season can turn around in short order to make a run at a wild card berth. The outlook is even bleaker for a Lions team that may need a win just to be let back into their home country. Look for the Kansas City pass rush to tee off on quarterback Matthew Stafford and for the offense to put up just enough points to squeak out a victory in London.

 

Prediction: Chiefs 24, Lions 19

 

— Written by Mike Bainbridge, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Bainbridge is a graduate of Northern Illinois University and current writer for CollegeFootballGeek.com.

Teaser:
Detroit Lions vs. Kansas City Chiefs Preview and Prediction
Post date: Friday, October 30, 2015 - 13:00
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy Football, NFL, Fantasy
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-five-up-five-down-chris-johnson-doug-martin-martavis-bryant-jimmy-graham-week-8
Body:

As Week 8 of the NFL and fantasy season is upon us, we have more teams on bye, and more teams that are dealing with injuries. Some players are getting healthier, while others are playing through their injuries.

 

Trying to figure out who to sit and who to start each week gets increasingly tougher, but that's what we are here for. Let's take a look at five guys who, based on their previous performance and matchup, are up in the rankings this week, and five guys who are down.

 

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

 

Teams on bye: Buffalo, Jacksonville, Phildaelphia, Washington

 

Five Up

 

Matt Ryan, QB, Atlanta Falcons

Sure, Ryan hasn't been great this year. He has no 300-yard games, despite favorable matchups. He doesn't have a week with more than two passing touchdowns. However, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are another great matchup. They are currently second in terms of most fantasy points allowed to opposing quarterbacks. Last week, the Bucs allowed Kirk Cousins to throw for 317 yards and three touchdowns. The week before, they allowed Blake Bortles to throw for 303 yards and four touchdowns. Ryan is a better quarterback than Cousins or Bortles. He has struggled, but this is his week to shine.

 

Doug Martin, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Do you know which team gives up the most fantasy points to opposing running backs? Hint: it's the team the Bucs face this week. Yes, the Atlanta Falcons, who have allowed the most touchdowns to opposing running backs, are on deck for Martin, who has looked good against much lesser opponents. He has three 100-yard games in as many contests with three rushing touchdowns in that span. He's also had at least three receptions in those games with at least 35 yards in each and one touchdown catch. With Vincent Jackson most likely out because of a knee injury, Mike Evans will see plenty of coverage, so look for Martin to be even more involved in the short passing game.

 

Related: Why You Should Start Doug Martin and Other RB Start/Sit Fantasy Advice For Week 8

 

Chris Johnson, RB, Arizona Cardinals

Originally it was start your tight ends against Oakland (thanks again, for ruining that streak Owen Daniels). Now, it's start your running backs against Cleveland. The Browns have given up the most rushing yards in the league, and it's not close (1,057 for Cleveland, 925 for the next-highest team). Johnson has the lead running back role in Arizona for some inexplicable reason. He's had three 100-yard games on the ground so far this season, and he should have another in Week 8. While the job is his, Johnson is a RB1.

 

Brandon Marshall, WR, New York Jets

Making his debut into the top 5 of the wide receiver rankings, Marshall comes in at No. 4 this week. Marshall had his four-game streak of 100-plus yard games broken last week, but he's set to start a new streak in Week 8 against Oakland. He has four touchdowns on the year, and while the Raiders are known for allowing touchdowns to tight ends, Marshall can certainly find his way into the end zone. Eric Decker is a little banged up (bruised knee), which may mean even more targets for Marshall.

 

Tyler Eifert, TE, Cincinnati Bengals

While the Pittsburgh Steelers’ defense is pretty terrible against tight ends (they have given up the third-most fantasy points), Eifert has been up and down this year. He has six touchdowns on the year and only one 100-yard game (Week 1). He's the fourth-ranked tight end this week, and he should have an "up" week because of Andy Dalton looking for him in the red zone.

 

Five Down

 

Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Pittsburgh Steelers

After injuring his knee in Week 3, it appears that Big Ben is set to make his return in Week 8 (to the relief of Antonio Brown owners). He's put in full practices this week, and unless something changes, he'll be back. While most fantasy owners are ready to plug him in as a QB1, the rankings have him as the 12th-ranked quarterback for Week 8. It's unclear how much the knee will hinder him in a game situation, and the matchup isn't a cakewalk. The Bengals, coming off a bye, have allowed the fourth-fewest passing touchdowns (eight) this year. They are middle of the road in terms of yards allowed. Roethlisberger should be ok for fantasy owners, but don't expect a monster performance.

 

Ameer Abdullah, RB, Detroit Lions

Remember when Abdullah was a fixture in starting lineups? He looked great in the preseason, but just hasn't been able to put it together in the regular season. His best game was Week 1, with 50 rushing yards and his only touchdown on the year. That week he also had the most receptions (four) of the year. With Joique Bell and Theo Riddick playing, Abdullah is barely a bye week fill-in at this point. Kansas City gives up the sixth-fewest points to opposing running backs, as most teams have had more success throwing on the Chiefs. If it's an option, leave him on fantasy benches.

 

Martavis Bryant, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers

Even with Roethlisberger’s likely return, Bryant is tough to trust this week as anything more than a WR3. Bryant and Roethlisberger haven't played in a game together yet this season, and it's hard to tell what the Steelers’ offense will look like with Big Ben less than 100 percent and Antonio Brown, Le'Veon Bell and Bryant all battling for touches. Bryant had success with Landry Jones, but will Roethlisberger be able to get the ball to his deep threat on a balky knee? The Bengals’ defense is tough, and Bryant is a big-play guy. He may end up with a 3/80/1 stat line, but he also may end up with a 1/10/0 stat line.

 

Travis Benjamin, WR, Cleveland Browns

Like Bryant, Benjamin has been a boom-or-bust receiver so far this year. He's had five games with 79 yards or more, including two 100-yard games, and he has two games with fewer than 50 yards. He started the season with four touchdowns in the first three games… and hasn't found the end zone since. This week, Benjamin faces Arizona, and he will likely see Patrick Peterson all day. Peterson has been playing much better defense this year, and with QB Josh McCown banged up as well, Benjamin is a low-end WR3 this week. It's going to be difficult for the Browns to move the ball through the air, and look for Benjamin to struggle in this matchup.

 

Jimmy Graham, TE, Seattle Seahawks

When Graham had eight receptions in Week 6, he had 140 yards. When he had seven receptions in Week 3, he had 83 yards and a touchdown. The rest of the season? A total of 16 receptions for 152 yards and one touchdown in five games. Graham is the 11th-ranked tight end this week against a Dallas team that has defended the position thus far.

 

— 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:
Fantasy Football Five Up, Five Down: Chris Johnson, Doug Martin Up; Martavis Bryant, Jimmy Graham Down For Week 8
Post date: Friday, October 30, 2015 - 11:00
All taxonomy terms: A.J. Green, Aaron Rodgers, Adrian Peterson, AFC East, AFC NFC, AFC North, AFC South, AFC West, Alex Smith, Alfred Morris, Andrew Luck, Andy Dalton, Antonio Brown, Arizona Cardinals, Atlanta Falcons, Baltimore Ravens, Ben Roethlisberger, Bishop Sankey, Buffalo Bills, Calvin Johnson, Cam Newton, Carlos Hyde, Carolina Panthers, Carson Palmer, Chicago Bears, Chris Ivory, Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns, Colin Kaepernick, Dallas Cowboys, DeMarco Murray, Demaryius Thomas, Denver Broncos, Derek Carr, Detroit Lions, Devante Adams, Dez Bryant, Dion Lewis, Doug Martin, Drew Brees, Eddie Lacy, Eli Manning, Giovani Bernard, Green Bay Packers, Heath Miller, Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Jacksonville Jaguars, Jamal Charles, Jameis Winston, Jason Witten, Jeremy Hill, Jimmy Graham, Johnny Manziel, Jonathan Stewart, Jordan Matthews, Jordan Reed, Jordy Nelson, Joseph Randle, Julien Edelman, Julio Jones, Kansas City Chiefs, Keenan Allen, Kendall Wright, Lamar Miller, LeSean McCoy, Lev’eon Bell, Louis Rams, Marcus Mariota, Mark Ingram, Marshawn Lynch, Matt Forte, Matt Ryan, Matthew Stafford, Miami Dolphins, Minnesota Vikings, New England Patriots, New Orleans Saints, New York Giants, New York Jets, NFC East, NFC North, NFC South, NFC West, Nick Foles, Oakland Raiders, Peyton Manning, Philadelphia Eagles, Philip Rivers, Pittsburgh Steelers, Randall Cobb, Rashad Jennings, Rob Gronkowski, Russel Wilson, Ryan Mallet, Ryan Tannehill, Sam Bradford, San Diego Chargers, San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks, St, T.Y. Hilton, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Teddy Bridgewater, Tennessee Titans, Tevin Coleman, Tom Brady, Tony Romo, Travis Kelce, Tyler Eifert, Tyrod Taylor, Washington Redskins, Zac Ertz, Fantasy
Path: /fantasy/week-8-bold-nfl-predictions
Body:

Anything can happen on any given Sunday, we all know that and the unpredictability of each game is what makes playing fantasy football so fun. But wouldn’t it be nice to look ahead and see what is going to happen in Week 8 of the NFL season?

 

Let’s dust off the magic crystal ball for this week and see what’s in store for Week 8.

 

Teams on bye: Buffalo, Jacksonville, Philadelphia, Washington

 

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

 

Aaron Rodgers Struggles, Throws for Fewer Than 200 Yards

It is becoming more and more apparent that Rodgers and the entire Packers offense really miss Jordy Nelson and his ability to take the top off of defenses. Rodgers has been good, but nowhere near the true elite fantasy quarterback he’s been in the past. Just look at his last three games – Rodgers has scored 16.26, 17.54 and 19.60 fantasy points respectively. Those numbers aren’t bad, but they aren’t the elite numbers that we’re used to seeing from Rodgers and the Green Bay offense. This week Rodgers and company travel to Denver and are in for a real test against the Broncos and their No. 1-ranked defense. The Broncos have given up the fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks this season and even though Aaron Rodgers is as good as they come, he is going to have a hard time finding an open target in this game.

 

Jeremy Hill Finally Has a Good Game with More Than 100 Yards Rushing and 2 TDs

Other than Eddie Lacy, has there been a bigger fantasy disappointment this season than Hill? He was being drafted at the tail end of the first or in the early second round of most fantasy drafts and all he’s done is play his way from the unquestioned No. 1 running back in Cincinnati, to a guy who now only sees about 40 percent of the carries. That will change this week, as the Bengals are coming off their bye week and know that moving forward they are going to have to get back to their downhill running scheme that fits Hill perfectly. Pittsburgh does have a good rushing defense, but the Steelers let Charcandarick West run all over them last week (110 yds., TD), proving that there’s holes in the Steel Curtain. Hill will bust out this week and remind everyone of how good he was over the second half of last season.

 

DeAndre Hopkins Has More Than 200 Yards Receiving Against the Titans

Arian Foster is done for the season with a torn Achilles injury. That means that the Texans now have to turn to a combination of Alfred Blue, Chris Polk and Jonathan Grimes to run the ball. That’s really not a murderer’s row of running backs. So if the Texans can’t run the ball, and they sure can’t stop opposing offenses from scoring, the only chance they have of winning is to let Brian Hoyer throw the ball 50-plus times a game. Luckily for the Texans and Hoyer, they just happen to have one of the best wide receivers in the game today in Hopkins. He already leads the league in targets and that’s not going to change this week.

 

Big Ben Returns and Throws for More Than 400 Yards and 3 TDs

Steelers fans have been waiting anxiously for Ben Roethlisberger to return and luckily for them, the Steelers are still 4-3 and very much alive in the AFC playoff race. This week against the undefeated Cincinnati Bengals is a perfect time for Big Ben to make his triumphant return because a win in this game would be huge. Head coach Mike Tomlin has stated that Roethlisberger is going to play with no limitations and hopefully he can pick up where he left off, as he was off to a strong start before getting hurt. Keep in mind he didn’t have Le’Veon Bell or Martavis Bryant in either of the games he played. Also for you history buffs, Big Ben in his two matchups last year against the Bengals threw for 667 yards and five touchdowns. The Steelers need to win this game and they will win it on the arm of their franchise quarterback.

 

Devonta Freeman Collects 100 Yards Rushing and 100 Yards Receiving

Freeman has been the best surprise in fantasy football this season and if you were smart enough to draft him in the mid-to-late rounds of your draft, my guess would be you are probably sitting pretty at this point. Freeman has been a beast – he’s leading the league in rushing with 621 yards and he’s third in receiving yards (310) for running backs. Plus he’s scored 10 touchdowns already this season. He’s simply a fantasy monster. Many think that Freeman just isn’t this good and that at some point he’s going to basically fall of a cliff. That’s not going to happen this week, however, as Freeman gets to play against a Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense that will be so worried about trying to stop Julio Jones, that Freeman will have space and opportunities to make plays all over the field. Freeman is in for a huge game on Sunday.

 

Teddy Bridgewater has Another 300-Yard Passing Game and Throws 3 TDs Too

The Vikings took the training wheels off Bridgewater last week, giving him the opportunity to throw downfield and make plays. Bridgewater sure didn’t disappoint. With his new favorite weapon in Stefon Diggs, Bridgewater had his best game of the year, scoring 18.74 fantasy points thanks to 316 yards passing and two touchdowns. This week he gets a juicy matchup against a Bears defense that has allowed 15 touchdown passes in the past six games, and has given up the sixth-most fantasy points to quarterbacks this season. Look for that trend to continue this week, as Bridgewater continues his march towards fantasy QB1 status.

 

Related: Why You Should Start Teddy Bridgewater and Other QB/DST Start/Sit Fantasy Advice for Week 8

 

Tyler Eifert has Another 100-Yard, 2-TD Game

We all know that Rob Gronkowski is the king of tight ends. That’s not up for debate. But what is up for debate is who is the NFL’s second-best tight end. It used to be Jimmy Graham, but he might not even be in the top 10 anymore the way Seattle is using him. Is it Travis Kelce or Greg Olsen? Perhaps it’s Gary Barnidge? How about Eifert? The Bengals’ tight end is tied with Gronkowski for the most touchdowns at the position with six and has become a focal point of a potent offensive attack. The Bengals play host to the Pittsburgh Steelers this week in a game that is sure to be a shootout. That’s good news for Eifert because the Steelers have been generous to opposing tight ends (third-most fantasy points allowed). If Pittsburgh doubles A.J. Green, the field will be wide open for Eifert and he’ll have no problem going over 100 yards. And since Andy Dalton loves throwing his way in the red zone, count on two touchdowns as well.

 

— 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.

Teaser:
Bold Fantasy Predictions for Week 8 in the NFL
Post date: Friday, October 30, 2015 - 10:30
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy
Path: /fantasy/college-fantasy-football-week-9-value-plays
Body:

The college fantasy football season is on the cusp of entering the home stretch. Athlon has teamed up with college fantasy veterans CollegeFootballGeek.com to help you dominate in 2015!

 

Whether you play daily or season-long college fantasy football, CollegeFootballGeek.com (@CFFGeek) prepares you to win with the best advice, tools and customer service in the industry — they've been doing it since 2008. Click here to learn how you can subscribe to CFG for FREE.

 

DraftKings has released their Daily Fantasy college football salaries for the week, and the experts at CollegeFootballGeek.com have hunkered down and scoured all of the data to find the best Value Plays on the docket. These are the guys poised to out-produce their DraftKings salaries this week.

 

Below, you will find AthlonSports.com contributor and CFG writer Todd DeVries' top picks for Saturday. To see the full in-depth article, be sure to check out CollegeFootballGeek.com.

 

VALUE PLAYS SATURDAY EARLY SLATE

 

QUARTERBACK

 

Perry Hills, Maryland ($5900) vs. Iowa

Hills continues to shock DFS players with the numbers he is putting up against stout defenses. He is averaging 34.35 DK points per game over his last two games against Ohio State and Penn State. Given what he has done against those defenses, a matchup with Iowa should not scare DFS players away from Hills this week. This Terrapin could make more plays with his legs this week and easily reach value for a third straight game. Hills could provide some salary relief and allow DFS players to afford higher-priced players at other positions.

 

RUNNING BACKS

 

Akrum Wadley, Iowa ($5700) vs. Maryland

Wadley filled in for injured starter Jordan Canzeri in the Hawkeyes’ last game against Northwestern and rolled up 204 yards and four scores. Look for this youngster to run all over a Maryland rush defense that ranks 84th in the country and could yield some big plays this week. Wadley could go north of 150 yards rushing this week and add a score or two against the Terrapins. He could crush value this week and make for an excellent GPP option.

 

Soso Jamabo, UCLA ($5300) vs. Colorado

This stud freshman may get his chance to shine this week with Paul Perkins likely to miss the game with a knee injury. Jamabo had 98 total yards and a score last week against Cal after Perkins was injured and could trump those numbers versus Colorado Saturday. The matchup is especially enticing with the Buffaloes’ rush defense ranked 111th in the nation this season. This Bruin is a must-start at this price if Perkins sits out.

 

Xavier Jones, SMU ($4100) vs. Tulsa

This freshman is the leading rusher this season for SMU and has an awesome matchup this week against Tulsa. The Golden Hurricanes’ rush defense is flat-out terrible, allowing 250 yards per game and 21 rushing scores on the year. The SMU running game could be all revved up this week and Jones could top the 100-yard mark for the first time in his college career. This Mustang looks to be a solid punt play this week.

 

WIDE RECEIVERS

 

Thomas Duarte, UCLA ($5700) vs. Colorado

Duarte has scored in four consecutive games and has gone over 100 yards receiving in two of those four games. He could be a good bet to find the end zone for the fifth consecutive game against a Colorado defense that struggles to stop anyone. Expect this Bruin to continue his hot streak this week and be an excellent GPP option against the Buffaloes. A Josh Rosen/Duarte stack could be the way to go here.

 

Alex Erickson, Wisconsin ($5200) vs. Rutgers

All this guy does is produce on a weekly basis and his price never seems to move much. He is averaging 24.33 DK points per game over the past three games and could have a big game against Rutgers this week. The Scarlet Knights’ pass defense is dreadful, ranking 124th in the nation this season. Erickson is targeted often and holds particular value on DK with the full point per reception scoring. Look for this Badger to easily exceed value this week and make a nice punt play at WR. He could go over the 100-yard mark and find his way into the end zone against Rutgers.

 

Courtland Sutton, SMU ($4900) vs. Tulsa

This freshman has become a touchdown machine with a score in six of seven games this season. There is a very good chance that Sutton will add to his touchdown total against Tulsa this week. Tulsa is an equal-opportunity, fantasy points-provider as the Hurricane cannot stop the run or the pass and rank 124th in total defense in 2015. Sutton comes in at a very attractive price considering his potential in this game that could easily see 80 total points. Look for this Mustang to burn Tulsa on more than one occasion this Saturday. 

 

Chris Godwin, Penn State ($4600) vs. Illinois

Godwin has gone over the 100-yard mark in each of the last two games and appears to have established himself as the top receiving option for Penn State. He could be a solid value play with a low price point against Illinois. This Nittany Lion could be a nice GPP option this week as he will likely be overlooked

 

VALUE PLAYS SATURDAY LATE SLATE

 

QUARTERBACK

 

Thomas Sirk, Duke ($6800) vs. Miami

Sirk went crazy last week against Virginia Tech. He threw four touchdown passes and also ran for 109 yards on 18 carries. He could run wild against a Miami defense that gave up 616 yards rushing and six touchdowns to Clemson last week. This Blue Devil could post a huge stat line this week and make for a sneaky GPP option. Look for Sirk to have his way with the Hurricanes and put up numbers of a much higher-priced player.

 

RUNNING BACKS

 

Jacobi Owens, Air Force ($4900) vs. Hawaii

Owens is coming off his best game of the year with 137 yards rushing and a score against Fresno. He could see plenty of carries this week with the other Air Force backs banged up and questionable to play. Owens could meet or exceed those numbers this week against a Hawaii rush defense that has struggled to stop opposing backs this season, ranking 116th in the country. Look for this Cadet to go over 100 yards rushing and add a score or two this week. He could be a nice value play on a slate with not many of those.

 

Johnathan Gray, Texas ($4700) vs. Iowa State

Gray ran for a season-best 103 yards last week against Kansas State and could hit that mark again this week versus Iowa State. He received 18 carries last week and could do some real damage this week against the Cyclones with a similar workload. The Iowa State rush defense has been a sieve this year, ranking 93rd in the country. It would be no surprise to see this Longhorn run all over the Cyclones. A 100-yard day with a score or two seems well within reach for Gray.

 

WIDE RECEIVERS

 

Anthony Miller, Memphis ($5700) vs. Tulane

Miller has gone over 100 yards receiving and also scored a touchdown in three of the last four games and is averaging 28.80 DK points per game in those three contests. He could post another big game against a Tulane defense that is not very good against the pass. The Tigers’ passing game could go bonkers this week and Miller will likely be a big part of all the fantasy goodness. Expect Miller to top the 100-yard mark once again this week and likely find the end zone against the Green Wave.

 

Cayleb Jones, Arizona ($5100) vs. Washington

Don’t look now, but it appears that Jones is finally getting involved in the Arizona offense. He is averaging 23.25 DK points over the past two contests and is finally looking like the fantasy force that many expected to see this year. Jones could put up nice numbers this week against a soft Huskies pass defense that ranks 70th in the country this year. Expect this Wildcat to make a couple of big plays this week and possibly cross the goal line for the second straight game.

 

— Written by Todd DeVries, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. A pioneer of online college fantasy football strategy and advice, DeVries is the founder of CollegeFootballGeek.com and founder and Director of Writer Development for Football Nation. Follow him on Twitter @CFFGeek.

Teaser:
College Fantasy Football Week 9 Value Plays
Post date: Friday, October 30, 2015 - 10:15
Path: /college-football/nebraska-cornhuskers-vs-purdue-boilermakers-preview-and-prediction-2015
Body:

Ryker FyfeLast week’s loss to Northwestern was disappointing in so many ways and if Nebraska’s going to make a bowl game, it has all of four contests left to stamp a ticket. Plenty of 6-6 teams have to worry about being on a bubble, but a school that brings fans (and their cash) like Nebraska is hard for any bowl committee to turn down.

 

Not only that, but the getting the opportunity for more practice would be invaluable for the Big Red. It’s not going to be easy to get three wins out of the remaining games, but their mission to go at least 3-1 begins in West Lafayette.

 

Nebraska at Purdue

 

Kickoff: 12 p.m. ET (Saturday)
Network: ESPNU
Spread: Nebraska -9

 

Three Things to Watch

 

1. Ryker Fyfe

Tommy Armstrong’s been walking around in a boot for most of practice this week which means No. 17 gets his first start as a Husker. During spring and fall practices, Fyfe was streaky, but he could hit short to intermediate passes. 

 

The long ball is an area of extreme struggle for Fyfe (not unlike Armstrong when his confidence is low). This is a game where he’s going to have to let his receivers help him move the ball via the passing game.

 

Depending on how he looks versus Purdue, talk of a quarterback controversy may pop up, especially if Nebraska wins big.

 

2. Offensive Play-Calling

Purdue is ranked No. 99 in rushing defense, giving up 198 yards on the ground; and the 229 yards surrendered through the air gives the Boilermakers a No. 77 ranking.

 

If Nebraska can manage even decent run blocking against Darrell Hazell’s team, the Big Red should be able to put a good number of points on the board. Perhaps we see the return of Devine Ozigbo this week.

 

Fyfe’s best work in the passing game has come on rollouts, so I’d expect to see plenty of that worked into the passing game and hopefully less of a determined effort to get the screen game going. This is a time where Danny Langsdorf simply must go with what he has seen work.

 

3. Apathy (or Lack Thereof)

If you need to see why apathy gets mentioned, have a look at my piece on a potential youth movement following this contest. The first video shows some of the worst run blocking I’ve seen.

 

Is the effort shown against Northwestern going to carry over against Purdue, or can this upperclassman offensive line play for pride (and more importantly the win)?

 

Final Analysis

 

If the Huskers are going to make that coveted bowl game, this is probably the last game close to a sure-win as any left on the schedule. They face Michigan State then travel to Rutgers and finally get their first bye week of the season before taking on a surging Iowa squad.

 

Forget the bowl game for a minute. For the sake of morale, this game needs to be won. Ideally the Huskers can do so by a nice margin, but at this juncture, even victory by a point is acceptable.

 

Prediction: Nebraska 24, Purdue 17

 

— Written by Brandon Cavanaugh, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Be sure to follow Brandon on Twitter @eightlaces and like his Facebook page.

Teaser:
Nebraska Cornhuskers vs. Purdue Boilermakers Preview and Prediction
Post date: Friday, October 30, 2015 - 10:10

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