St. Louis Rams

Fantasy Football: Two first round draft picks that will become immediate fantasy stars in 2013

The first round of the 2013 NFL Draft was about as unpredictable as most people expected it to be. There was only one quarterback selected, three wide receivers selected and for the first time in over 50 years there was not a single running back drafted in the first round.  

Even with a clear lack of top-notch talent at the offensive skill positions I still believe that there are a few first round picks from this year’s draft that will blossom into quality NFL players and great fantasy football prospects as well. Here are two first round picks that I believe will become instant fantasy superstars this fall.

1. DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Houston Texans  

At 6-foot-1, 214 pounds, Hopkins is a very solid receiver. With the exception of star Andre Johnson the Texans are weak at the wide receiver position, so the addition of Hopkins will help take some of the pressure off of Johnson. Also, the respect and attention that Johnson receives from opposing defenses will play to the advantage of Hopkins because it will open up numerous holes in the secondary that he will definitely be able to capitalize on. While defenses game plan around Johnson look for Hopkins and quarterback Matt Schaub to connect early and often next season. I expect the rookie to put up a solid amount of receiving yards and with his great route running and fearless nature look for him to get numerous targets in the red zone ultimately allowing him to put up big fantasy numbers.

2.  Tavon Austin, WR, St. Louis Rams

Austin is by the far the best playmaker in this year’s draft class, and a playmaker is exactly what the Rams need right now. The Rams are not deep at all at the wide receiver position so look for Austin to jump right into the starting lineup. Because of his speed and quickness he is a deep threat at all times and opposing defenses will have to respect that. If defenses play back then he will be able to make plays underneath the coverage, and if they play press coverage he will be able to beat the defense deep down the field. In addition, Austin will be the first big time playmaker that quarterback Sam Bradford will have at wide receiver since he was drafted by the Rams in 2010, so look for Bradford to target him all year long as these two young guns look to connect for some big plays. Lastly, Austin is fast enough that the Rams could use him in a Wildcat style offense or as a kick returner and punt returner allowing him to rack up some extra fantasy points. Just remember, speed kills, and speed is Tavon Austin’s specialty. 

Photo Credit: Cody Bubenik | Daily Texan Staff

Christmas music playing in every office and holiday commercials hitting us from every angle imaginable can only mean one thing: fantasy football playoffs are almost here. In fact, this is the last week of regular season play in most leagues. Whether you are in need of a big win to fuel your playoff push or want to end the season with your head held high, here’s some fantasy advice that is all but gift-wrapped:


START

1) Colin Kaepernick, QB
San Francisco 49ers


Kaepernick looks like the 49ers’ starter for the long haul after several impressive performances in place of QB Alex Smith, passing for three touchdowns and running for another in victories over Chicago and New Orleans. Amazingly, he is still available in the majority of fantasy football leagues. With his ability to hurt defenses with his arm and his legs, Kaepernick is a solid start for not only this week’s game against the Rams but for the rest of
the season.

2) Bryce Brown, RB
Philadelphia Eagles


Starting in place of the injured LeSean McCoy, the rookie out of Kansas State exploded into the scene on Monday Night Football, rushing for 178 yards and two touchdowns against the Panthers. Although ball security is an area of concern, expect an encore performance from Brown in a favorable match-up this week against a decimated Cowboys’ defense.

3) Andre Johnson, WR
Houston Texans


After a quiet first nine games of the season, Johnson has absolutely gone off the past two weeks, burning the Jaguars and Lions for a combined 461 yards and a touchdown. Although it might be a bit too much to expect him to keep up these gargantuan numbers, Johnson should be in for another big day against a weak Tennessee secondary.

SIT

1) Daniel Thomas, RB
Miami Dolphins


Although Reggie Bush fans have not been happy with the former Heisman trophy winner’s decreasing touches over the past month, Thomas’ owners have loved his emergence as a consistent threat out of Miami’s backfield. However, a date with New England’s awful secondary and respectable run defense equates to the Fins relying on a more pass-heavy attack this week.

2) Russell Wilson, QB
Seattle Seahawks


Wilson had a great outing last week, throwing for 224 yards and two touchdowns while also racking up 38 rushing yards. That being said, he faces a fearsome Chicago Bears defense that is the stingiest in the league against opposing fantasy quarterbacks and will struggle, as any rookie should, against an elite defense.

3) Chris Givens, WR
St. Louis Rams


Givens torched the Arizona Cardinals last week for a career-high 115 yards and a touchdown in the Rams’ 31-17 victory. However with St. Louis facing San Francisco’s suffocating defense Sunday, which held Givens without a catch in their last meeting, there’s a risk he may have another quiet afternoon. If there is another option available with a more favorable match-up, consider benching Givens.

Printed on Thursday, November 29, 2012 as: Kaepernick, Brown holiday fantasy gems

Dolphins running back Reggie Bush made a splash against the Oakland Raiders on Sunday, tallying two touchdowns.

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

With two weeks of NFL games in the books, fantasy football frenzy has once again taken over. To ease the stress of creating a powerhouse starting lineup this week, here are a few players to embrace and a few others to avoid:

Start:

1) Reggie Bush, RB, Miami Dolphins
Wow, Bush played a great game against the Oakland Raiders on Sunday, rushing for 172 yards and two touchdowns. The question now is whether or not Bush can do it again this week against the Jets and Rex Ryan’s defense. There’s reason to believe he can and he will. The Jets surrendered a total of 194 yards to C.J. Spiller in Week 1, a player with speed and elusiveness similar to Bush’s. With a rookie quarterback under center for the Dolphins, expect Bush to get the ball early and often.

2) Demaryius Thomas, WR, Denver Broncos
Despite the Broncos’ lackluster performance as a team Monday against the Falcons, Thomas had a solid outing, catching eight balls for 78 yards and one touchdown. Over the span of two games, Thomas has almost 200 yards receiving and is clearly Peyton Manning’s primary target. Although cornerback Johnathan Joseph will challenge him this week when the Broncos face the Texans, Thomas will get plenty of passes thrown his way and should be able to put up big numbers.

3) Matthew Stafford, QB, Detroit Lions
Stafford has been a disappointment up to this point in the season, managing only two touchdowns while tossing four interceptions. In his defense, he faced an improved Rams defense in Week 1 and arguably the best defense in the NFL in San Francisco this past week. Expect Stafford to break out of his early-season slump and throw for several scores against the Tennessee Titans, who allowed three passing touchdowns from Philip Rivers in Week 2.

Sit:

1) Michael Turner, RB,  Atlanta Falcons
Turner’s start to the season had been anything but ideal even before he was pulled over for speeding and drunken driving Tuesday. Turner has managed a measly 74 yards rushing and a touchdown in the Falcons’ two victories, numbers that will make any fantasy owner cringe. Unfortunately for Turner, things are unlikely to improve this week when he faces the San Diego Chargers, who lead the NFL in rush defense.

2) Jackie Battle, RB,  San Diego Chargers
Many fantasy owners will be tempted to jump on the Jackie Battle bandwagon following his 69-yard, two-touchdown performance against the Titans on Sunday. However, Battle appears to be fool’s gold and should not be viewed as a reliable fantasy threat. With a healthy Ryan Mathews set to return this week, expect Battle’s workload to diminish significantly outside of a few goal line plays, making him a risky player.

3) Sam Bradford, QB, St. Louis Rams
Bradford torched the Redskins this past Sunday, passing for 310 yards and three touchdowns. Despite this, do not expect Bradford to put up similar numbers Sunday against a tough, physical Chicago Bears defense. Given the Bears’ ability to pressure opposing quarterbacks and the Rams’ instability along the offensive line, Bradford could struggle.

 Printed on Thursday, September 20, 2012 as: Starting Bush a no-brainer

Taylor Hoagland watches her homerun ball as it sails over the fence. The LonghornsÂ’ bats came alive as they scored 61 runs over the weekend tournament, and ruled the Colorado State Rams.

Photo Credit: Marisa Vasquez | Daily Texan Staff

Despite a chilly Sunday afternoon in which snow flurries and sleet made appearances throughout the game, Texas capped off a very successful weekend tournament with an 8-0 run-ruled victory against the Colorado State Rams. The No. 18 Longhorns went 5-0 in the Texas Classic, their season-opening tournament.

The Texas offense was overpowering all weekend and scored 60 runs against none for the visitors in five games. Four of the five games were ended early by a run rule, which occurs when a team is up by at least seven runs after five innings. In addition to Sunday afternoon’s victory against the Rams, the Longhorns defeated Cal State Fullerton, 23-0, on Thursday in five innings and defeated UTSA twice, both in five innings. Texas beat the Roadrunners, 15-0, on Friday and 8-0 Saturday. The Longhorns were forced into seven innings only once, a 6-0 victory in their first game against the Rams on Saturday evening.

The 23-0 victory against Cal State Fullerton was a single-game Texas record for runs scored.

Senior Lexy Bennett and junior Taylor Hoagland both headlined the Texas offense. Bennett had two home runs and scored eight runs with 11 RBI on the weekend. Hoagland, who opened Sunday’s game with a solid home run to center field, connected for three home runs and eight RBI on four hits. In total, the Longhorns produced a staggering 62 hits in 27 innings.

“I think as a team, everyone is going up to bat with one goal — just getting their job done,” Bennett said. “Regardless of how many outs or how many people are on base, you want to get the runs in. If there is no one on, we’re trying to get on base to make something happen.”

Despite the easy victories, the Texas coaching staff remains cautious about the rest of the season. They understand that the true test comes against tougher conference opponents when Big 12 play begins against Texas Tech in March.

“We want to continue to play, battle and compete,” said Texas head coach Connie Clark. “Everyone is really committed and zeroed in ... We still need to commit to bunts and get those down and that’s going to be something we continue to work on going forward.”

Texas also lived up to expectations in the circle and on defense. The Longhorn pitching staff, led by junior All-American Blaire Luna, produced 27 innings of shutout pitching while only allowing 10 hits in five games. Luna pitched two complete games with 22 strike outs. Junior Kim Bruins, sophomore Rachel Fox and freshman Gabby Smith each started over the weekend.

The Longhorn defense had a nearly perfect weekend with only two errors.

“We have a solid defense and obviously a very good battery,” Clark said.

Printed on Monday, February 13, 2012 as: Longhorns begin season 5-0