• Big 12 Notebook: Week Nine

    Nine weeks have passed since the start of this year’s college football season, and there is only one undefeated Big 12 team left.

    No. 9 Kansas State stands atop the Big 12 Conference without a single loss in Big 12 play. A big part of why the Wildcats have been so successful is their quarterback, Jake Waters.

    The defense is also formidable, coming off of a 23-0 shutout of the Longhorns last weekend in Manhattan. The Wildcats have allowed just 71 points to opposing teams, the least in the conference so far this year.

    This coming week they’ll face another formidable foe, the Oklahoma State Cowboys. The Cowboys suffered a tough loss at home to the No. 20 Mountaineers, but could still pose a threat to the Wildcats.

    Even though the Wildcats are on everybody’s radar at this point, the most interesting game of the week will not be played in Kansas. No. 7 TCU will travel to Morgantown to face the No. 20 West Virginia Mountaineers this Saturday in what will be a nationally televised contest.

    West Virginia is quite possibly the best of the two-loss teams in the country. The Mountaineers’ only losses have come at the hands of Alabama and Oklahoma.

    They’ll have their hands full this weekend with a TCU team that is first in the country in points per game. The Horned Frogs are coming off of a record setting 82-27 win over the Red Raiders in Fort Worth last weekend.

    TCU, in my opinion, is one of the most explosive teams in the country. In the last two games, TCU quarterback Trevon Boykin has put up Bryce Petty type numbers. He’s passed for over 400 yards and a total of 10 touchdowns in his last two games.

    I think that Boykin quite possibly has replaced Petty as the best QB in the Big 12 at this point in the season. He is currently one of two quarterbacks in the Big 12 to have passed for over 2000 yards and 20 touchdowns so far this season. The other is Texas Tech quarterback Davis Webb.

    Either way, this weekend is critical for both Kansas State and TCU. Both teams face tough opponents in Oklahoma State and West Virginia. If they come out on top, next week’s matchup may well decide this year’s Big 12 champion.

    Kansas State will play TCU in Fort Worth on November 8, a week from this Saturday. 

     

    Here are this weekend’s games to watch:

    1)    No. 7 TCU at No. 20 West Virginia – 2:30 p.m. (cst) ABC

    2)    Oklahoma State at No. 9 Kansas State – 7 p.m. (cst) ABC

  • Time to get real…and week nine fantasy rankings

    It’s time to get real folks. By this point in the season you know what your fantasy team is. You’re either off to a fast start and primed for playoffs or you’re sputtering and praying to sneak in to a wildcard spot. Let’s start with the owners who have come out of the gate on fire.

    If you’re 6-2 or 7-1, the playoffs are almost a certainty and you’re feeling good about the consistency of your roster. Something you have done, whether by luck or by strategy, has led you to an excellent start and you can just hover around .500 the rest of the season while coasting into the playoffs. I’ve never been in a league where 9-4 can’t get you into the playoffs. But be careful not to get complacent, because complacency is the demise of a successful fantasy team. Yes your team is killing it thus far, but you’re now the team everyone is gunning for.  Make sure you’re staying active on the waiver wire. Start looking at players with excellent playoff schedules and begin looking forward to the prize. The best thing I can say is: Don’t lose focus. Keep on doing what got you here and you should be punching your ticket to the playoffs any week now.

    Next up is the middling, .500 teams. Chances are this is where the majority of you are. It’s the average, the middle of the road. You’ve had some good wins; you’ve suffered some tough defeats. But that’s all in the past. Now you’re a .500 team that needs to pick up steam to make the playoffs. Trades (if your deadline hasn’t already passed) become very interesting. If one player in the trade goes off, it could spark you to a few wins and a playoff spot. If one player busts, you could find yourself on the outside looking in. Find the good matchups, watch for solid players being dropped as roster spots become more of a premium.  You’ve got a 50/50 shot at making it to the big dance, it’s time to find the holes on your team, address them, and pray for the best

    Lastly is the team of struggle. The team that had the best draft in the entire league, the one featuring Adrian Peterson, Calvin Johnson, Zac Stacy, a sneaky pick of Ray Rice, a stud WR2 in Victor Cruz. Yeah that team is now 2-6 and miserable. While hope isn’t lost, your chances of sneaking into the playoffs are slim to none. You’re in Jets, Jaguars, Buccaneers territory…man, that is a territory I never want to visit. But don’t think it’s impossible. In the majority of leagues, a winning record will get you a wildcard spot. So you’re 2-6? Feel free to start that 5 game win streak this Sunday. If I’m you, I’m looking at trades to shake up my team because why not? Make some bold calls and swing for the fences. Worst-case scenario: you lose this week and play spoiler the rest of the season to your best friends (worst enemies).  If you can’t make playoffs, why not bring your rivals down with you?

     

     

    Some random notes before rankings:

    ·      Man this bye week is awful. The following teams are scoring as much as you and I this week: Atlanta Falcons, Buffalo Bills, Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers and Tennessee Titans. That means the following are out:

     

    o   Aaron Rodgers (2nd ranked QB)

    o   Matt Forte (3rd ranked RB)

    o   Jay Cutler (6th ranked QB)

    o   Matt Ryan (9th ranked QB)

    o   Matthew Stafford (10th ranked QB)

    o   Eddie Lacy (11th ranked RB)

    o   7 of the top 22 WRs (Cobb, Nelson, Tate, Julio, Watkins, Alshon)

     

    ·      A.J. Green terrifies me this week. Now I’ll probably end up eating crow on this one but if I have the WR, I’m not starting him unless I absolutely have to. A toe injury for an athlete like Green may not seem like much but it affects his ability to plant his feet, make cuts and run crisp routes. If I’m a Green owner, I’m giving him a week to get fully acclimated.

     

    ·      DeMarco Murray is another stud that worries me a little this week. Yes it may be ridiculous to worry about a guy on pace to set the single-season rushing record. A guy that has at least 100 yards rushing in 8 straight games (unreal). But Murray is facing a Cardinals defense ranked as the toughest against the run in the league. They have yet to allow a 100 yard rusher on the season. Now while they haven’t faced anyone of DeMarco’s talent (LeSean McCoy comes closest), I still think this is a matchup to slightly worry about. Obviously if you have Murray he’s absolutely a lock in your starting lineup. But I would warn you to temper your expectations.

     

    ·      Giovani Bernard is dealing with multiple injuries, most notably a banged up hip, which forced him out of last week’s game against the Ravens.  Gio didn’t practice yesterday and if I own him, I’m running to waivers and picking up  Jeremy Hill if he’s available. Be warned, there’s a very real shot Bernard is inactive come Sunday.

     

    ·      Thursday Night Football Prediction:

     

    o   Saints 31 – Panthers 17

    The Panthers are the 9th worst defense against the pass and 5th worst against the run. The Saints, although they tend to struggle on the road, are looking to take control of a weak NFC South division and I think they come out firing. Brees and Ingram seem primed for huge games and I think it’s another lopsided Thursday Night affair.

     

     

     

    WEEK 9 RANKINGS

     

     

    QB

    1.  Andrew Luck

    2.  Peyton Manning

    3.  Drew Brees

    4.  Tom Brady

    5.  Colin Kaepernick

    6.  Philip Rivers

    7.  Cam Newton

    8.  Russell Wilson

    9.  Carson Palmer

    10. Tony Romo

    11. Alex Smith

    12. Ben Roethlisberger

    13. Eli Manning

    14. Brian Hoyer

    15. Nick Foles

    16. Ryan Fitzpatrick

    17. Andy Dalton

    18. Teddy Bridgewater

    19. Ryan Tannehill

    20. Joe Flacco

     

    RB

    1.  Arian Foster

    2.  Marshawn Lynch

    3.  DeMarco Murray

    4.  Jamaal Charles

    5.  LeSean McCoy

    6.  Lamar Miller

    7.  Le’Veon Bell

    8.  Andre Ellington

    9.  Mark Ingram

    10. Ahmad Bradshaw

    11. Giovani Bernard

    12. Ronnie Hillman

    13. Alfred Morris

    14. Ben Tate

    15. Justin Forsett

    16. Jerick McKinnon

    17. Chris Ivory

    18. Branden Oliver

    19. Frank Gore

    20. Denard Robinson

    21. Shane Vereen

    22. DeAngelo Williams

    23. Trent Richardson

    24. Andre Williams

    25. Jonas Gray

     

    WR

    1.  Antonio Brown

    2.  Dez Bryant

    3.  Jeremy Maclin

    4.  Demaryius Thomas

    5.  Kelvin Benjamin

    6.  T.Y. Hilton

    7.  Andre Johnson

    8.  Emmanuel Sanders

    9.  A.J. Green

    10. DeSean Jackson

    11. Mike Wallace

    12. Steve Smith

    13. DeAndre Hopkins

    14. Brandin Cooks

    15. Keenan Allen

    16. Vincent Jackson

    17. Brandon LaFell

    18. Terrance Williams

    19. Rueben Randle

    20. Odell Beckham Jr.

    21. Doug Baldwin

    22. Marques Colston

    23. Mohamed Sanu

    24. Cordarrelle Patterson

    25. Andrew Hawkins

    26. Michael Crabtree

     

    TE

    1.  Rob Gronkowski

    2.  Julius Thomas

    3.  Jimmy Graham

    4.  Greg Olsen

    5.  Antonio Gates

    6.  Dwayne Allen

    7.  Travis Kelce

    8.  Jordan Reed

    9.  Larry Donnell

    10. Clay Harbor

    11. Vernon Davis

    12. Zach Ertz

    13. Jace Amaro

    14. Jared Cook

    15. Mychal Rivera

     

    D/ST

    1.  Seahawks

    2.  Bengals

    3.  Chiefs

    4.  49ers

    5.  Browns

    6.  Texans

    7.  Vikings

    8.  Colts

    9.  Redskins

    10. Chargers

     

    Flex

    1.  Arian Foster

    2.  Marshawn Lynch

    3.  DeMarco Murray

    4.  Antonio Brown

    5.  Dez Bryant

    6.  Jamaal Charles

    7.  LeSean Mccoy

    8.  Jeremy Maclin

    9.  Demaryius Thomas

    10. Rob Gronkowski

    11. Lamar Miller

    12. Le’Veon Bell

    13. Julius Thomas

    14. Kelvin Benjamin

    15. Andre Ellington

    16. Mark Ingram

    17. T.Y. Hilton

    18. Jimmy Graham

    19. Ahmad Bradshaw

    20. Giovani Bernard

    21. Ronnie Hillman

    22. Andre Johnson

    23. Emmanuel Sanders

    24. Alfred Morris

    25. A.J. Green

    26. DeSean Jackson

    27. Mike Wallace

    28. Ben Tate

    29. Justin Forsett

    30. Jerick McKinnon

    31. Steve Smith

    32. DeAndre Hopkins

    33. Brandin Cooks

    34. Keenan Allen

    35. Chris Ivory

    36. Branden Oliver

    37. Frank Gore

    38. Greg Olsen

    39. Antonio Gates

    40. Vincent Jackson

    41. Brandon LaFell

    42. Denard Robinson

    43. Shane Vereen

    44. DeAngelo Williams

    45. Terrance Williams

    46. Rueben Randle

    47. Dwayne Allen

    48. Trent Richardson

    49. Odell Beckham Jr.

    50. Doug Baldwin

  • Are the Florida Panthers' days numbered?

    Do bears poop in woods? Do the San Francisco Giants win the World Series in even-numbered years? Is the Pope Catholic? Are the Florida Panthers a terrible NHL team?

    Obviously, the answer to all of those is yes.

    For the Florida Panthers, struggling on the ice is nothing new. They’re currently 14th in the Eastern Conference with seven points in seven games. They have scored exactly 10 goals as a team which is only one more than the nine goals that league leaders Corey Perry and Rick Nash have. But perhaps most notably, the Panthers have yet to win a game at home.

    And home for the Panthers has not been so welcoming this season. In their second home game, they set a franchise record low for attendance at 7,311. Photos taken that night illustrated the scantily attended NHL game that looked more like a local club hockey meet-up. But one night doesn’t explain the attendance problems of an entire team, does it?

    Well, in the case of the Florida Panthers, they have been experiencing attendance woes for the past few years. For the last three years, they have averaged an attendance of 15,932 that puts them squarely within the bottom ten teams of the NHL. These attendance numbers could just be bad attendance numbers with no meaning attached to them. However, thanks to a lack of Sunbelt support for the NHL in the United States and the move of the Atlanta Thrashers to Winnipeg, there is some fear that the Florida Panthers could be relocated.

    This relocation fear is very real. Since the Florida Panthers were established in 1993, they have made the playoffs only four times and have finished with a winning record just eight times in 19 seasons to date. So, they have an ugly history and they have poor attendance, which makes them a prime contender to move to a Canadian city that is thirsty for an NHL team. 

    Maybe, their potential relocation would be for the best. Although they have some exceptional young talent highlighted by former Calder Trophy winner Jonathan Huberdeau and 2014 first overall draft pick Aaron Ekblad, the Panthers have struggled. Despite the young talent and the team’s veteran additions from the off-season, the Panthers will most likely not make the playoffs, making it three years in a row.

    The Florida Panthers days as an NHL team are numbered.

  • Notes from Giants' World Series win

    The San Francisco Giants won the 2014 World Series championship last night over the Kansas City Royals, and I have just two words to describe their title run: Madison Bumgarner.

    The big southpaw was outstanding during the seven game set, going 2-0 with a save and boasting a 0.43 ERA. Naturally, he was the unanimous choice for the Most Valuable Player award.

    But it wasn’t just San Francisco’s ace that played wonderfully as they clinched their third title in five years. The veteran Pablo Sandoval had an outstanding series, which could prove to be his last with the Giants as he is now a free agent. He was perfect in game seven, going 3-for-3 and scoring two runs.

    Both times Sandoval scored he did so courtesy of designated hitter Michael Morse, who had two RBIs in the game. Hunter Pence, Brandon Belt and Brandon Crawford also performed well for San Francisco last night and throughout the series.

    Defensively, the play of the game for the Giants came in the third inning when rookie second baseman Joe Panik made a fantastic play on an Eric Hosmer hit to turn the reviewed double play with shortstop Crawford.

    The Royals played admirably last night, but a couple of missed opportunities left them dissatisfied. Second baseman Omar Infante slipped while playing a Sandoval hit in the fourth inning, and Sandoval ended up coming home to score the eventual winning run later that inning.

    And then, with the Giants just one out away from clinching, Kansas City left fielder Alex Gordon hit an extra-base single that got him to third base due to San Francisco miscues in the outfield. Ninety feet from home is where the tying run stayed as Bumgarner forced Royals catcher Salvador Perez to hit a pop fly to the third base side for the final out of the series.

    Overall, the series wasn’t quite as thrilling as I had hoped considering only two games were won by less than five runs, but it was a great one nonetheless. Last night’s game was only the second World Series game seven in the last 12 years, and with the Giants winning on the road a streak of nine home-team wins in the final game of the series ended.

    The Giants ended the series with a team batting average of .277 and an earned run average of 3.98. The Royals finished with a .249 team batting average and a 4.28 ERA. Between the two teams, only two bases were stolen and five homeruns hit.

    Pence (.444 AVG, HR, 5 RBI) and Sandoval (.429 AVG, 4 RBI) led the offensive attack for San Francisco, who scored a total of 30 runs in the series. Perez (.333 AVG, HR, 4 RBI) and Infante (.318 AVG, HR, 5 RBI) were the offensive leaders for the Royals throughout the series.

  • Devon Still making an impact in the NFL

    When Cincinnati Bengal’s defensive end Devon Still suffered injuries this past season, his chances of playing football were slim. And when Still heard the news about his daughter, he never anticipated playing football again.

    In June 2014, Still’s daughter, Leah, was diagnosed with Neuroblastoma Stage 4 cancer. Neuroblastma, a pediatric cancer, is the most common childhood cancer with an average of 650 cases per year in the United States. Neuroblastma is a disease that develops from a neural crest in the sympathetic nervous system.

    After cutting Still from the 53-man roster, the Bengals resigned him to the practice squad the next day and elected to donate sales of his jersey to the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center to fund research for pediatric cancer and to help families who are suffering from them.

    With his mind on his daughter’s health, Still put his football career on the back burner. After Leah’s diagnosis, Still slept by her side in the hospital even after his recent back surgery, and, out of support for his daughter, shaved his head and will only grow back his hair when Leah grows hers back again.

    “Football stopped crossing my mind,” Still said in an interview this season. “When I heard she had a 50 percent chance of survival, and then I heard the cancer went into her bones, I just wanted to spend all my time with her—in case her time ran out. You know, that is not time you could ever get back.”

    Hearing the news about Still’s daughter, people around the country began buying his jersey to raise money and awareness for charity. This included ESPN sportscaster Scott Van Pelt who bought 50 jerseys and New Orleans Saint’s head coach Sean Payton who purchased 100.

    The Bengals ended the fundraiser this past week after selling exactly 14, 945 jerseys and raising over $1.25 million. The money will be presented to the hospital on Nov. 6 at the end of the first quarter during the Bengal’s game against the Cleveland Browns.

    Still has appeared in every game this season and has recorded nine total tackles. His playing time is expected to diminish since defensive end Brandon Thompson is close to returning to the team. Either way, Still’s impact for the Bengals and the city of Cincinnati has been nothing but sensational.

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