Baylor QB Petty plans to play with cracked bones (Yahoo Sports) - Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty says he plans to play for the 10th-ranked Bears in Saturday's night game against Northwestern State despite two cracked small bones in his back. He also ran for a score to put Baylor up 31-0. England 'must review Cook ODI role' - Serena has ankle re-taped in US Open doubles loss (Yahoo Sports) - Serena Williams took a medical timeout to have her right ankle re-taped and later double-faulted on the last two points as she and sister Venus lost in the doubles quarterfinals at the U.S. The Williams sisters, owners of 13 Grand Slam doubles titles, were beaten 7-6 (5), 6-4 Tuesday by the fourth-seeded Russian duo of Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina. They play their quarterfinal matches in that event Wednesday, with Serena - who has dropped only 17 games through four rounds - meeting 11th-seeded Flavia Pennetta, and Makarova taking on 16th-seeded Victoria Azarenka. Open singles titles since Chris Evert won four in a row from 1975-78. NFL suspends Irsay 6 games, fines him $500,000 (Yahoo Sports) - The NFL suspended Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay for the first six games of the season Tuesday and fined him $500,000 for violating its personal conduct policy, coming down hard just hours after he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor stemming from an embarrassing March traffic stop. Commissioner Roger Goodell said Irsay is barred from team facilities, practices and games and cannot represent the Colts and NFL meetings or events. ''I have stated on numerous occasions that owners, management personnel and coaches must be held to a higher standard than players,'' Goodell told Irsay in a letter released publicly by the NFL. 49ers' Harbaugh won't tolerate domestic violence (Yahoo Sports) - SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh has reiterated that the team will not tolerate domestic violence. Serena has medical timeout in US Open doubles loss (Yahoo Sports) - Serena Williams took a medical timeout because of a problem with her right foot, and later double-faulted on the last two points as she and sister Venus lost in the doubles quarterfinals at the U.S. The Williams sisters, owners of 13 Grand Slam doubles titles, were beaten 7-6 (5), 6-4 Tuesday by the fourth-seeded Russian duo of Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina. Donington Park to host 2015 MotoGP - Donington Park will host the British MotoGP for the first time in six years in 2015 as Silverstone misses out on retaining the race. Peng powers into US Open semi-finals - A&M jumps, FSU, 'Bama lose some support in AP poll (Yahoo Sports) - Peng beats Bencic to reach US Open semis (Yahoo Sports) - NEW YORK (AP) -- Unseeded Peng Shuai of China beat 17-year-old Belinda Bencic 6-2, 6-1 in the U.S. Open on Tuesday to reach her first Grand Slam semifinal.

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Juggernaut Index, No. 2: The Chicago Bears [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 2, 2014, 5:18 pm]
Marc Trestman's first season as Chicago's head coach brought spectacular offensive success and historic failure on defense — not exactly the traditional Bears formula. Perhaps we shouldn't be surprised that such a flawed and imbalanced group ultimately finished with an 8-8 record, narrowly missing the postseason. For fantasy purposes, this team was an absolute gift in 2013. Not only did Chicago rank second in the NFL in scoring (27.8 PPG) and third in yards per play (6.0), but an insane percentage of the stats belonged to just four players. Together, Matt Forte, Alshon Jeffery, Brandon Marshall and Martellus Bennett combined for 5,513 scrimmage yards. All other Bears, collectively, produced just 765. So this offense was at once easy to predict and impossible to stop — a perfect fantasy combo, really. [Yahoo Sports Fantasy Football: Sign up and join a league today!] When all the numbers were in, Chicago had produced the No. 3 fantasy running back, the No. 6 and No. 9 receivers, plus the No. 10 tight end. And if the passing stats produced by Jay Cutler and Josh McCown had been delivered by a single player, that guy would have ranked as the No. 3 fantasy QB. When the offseason hit, plenty of Chicago fans actually wanted the team to retain the 35-year-old McCown, allowing Cutler to walk. But that didn't happen, because the Bears aren't managed by meatheads. The franchise instead made a sensible decision, signing one of the NFL's most physically gifted quarterbacks to lead its offense for the foreseeable future. No disrespect intended to McCown — he was terrific last year, feasting mostly on weak defenses (MIN, DAL). But Chicago has finally assembled a supporting cast for Cutler that A) isn't terrible, and B) perfectly suits his game. He's a see-it/throw-it passer with a huge arm, yet for years he was asked to make anticipation throws to a group of kick-returners masquerading as receivers. And during the Mike Martz era, his protection was horrid. These days, Chicag

Closing Time: Luis Valbuena swings for the fences [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 2, 2014, 3:48 pm]
It took me a while to come around on Luis Valbuena, the sneaky infielder for the Cubs. He's a drain in batting average and he strikes out a lot. Heck, the guy didn't even make it to .220 the last two years. But at some point it's time to focus on what a player can do, not what he can't do.  Valbuena's most appealing skill is power. He's clouted 16 homers in a modest 403 at-bats this year, including 11 in the second half of the year (and four in his last seven games). If you can skim him against right-handed pitching, you're getting the best of his game: .469 slugging percentage, a tater every 22 at-bats. That works for me, especially when you combine two positions of eligibility (second, third). I'm kicking some tires. Take and rake.  The Cubs have been respectable in the second half of the year. They're a .500 club since the All-Star break, and they scored 111 runs (sixth in the National League) during August. You can have some fun with these guys. Valbuena is still free to grab in 86 percent of Yahoo leagues, if you need some pop.  Swing for the fences. • It's been an up-and-down summer for Josh Collmenter, but I'm winning to give him a streaming assignment this week. He draws the Padres in Petco for Wednesday (yes, please), and he's been in fine form of late.   Collmenter only won one of his four August starts, but everything else was in place: 3.28 ERA, 0.77 WHIP, 23 strikeouts against three walks. He has a jagged home/road split this year (favoring Arizona, of all places) but Petco takes the worry away. If you want to jump on board, he's free to add in 91 percent of Yahoo leagues. Collmenter, maybe.  • Jarred Cosart is another interesting streaming play, even as a pitch-to-contact story. He's posted a tidy 1.63 ERA and 1.03 WHIP since joining the Marlins a month back, and he's set to rematch a Braves offense that he beat last week. You know all about targeting Atlanta - the Phillies just no-hit them on Monday, for crying out loud. Cosart waits for y

Juggernaut Index, No. 3: The Green Bay Packers [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: August 31, 2014, 3:29 pm]
Aaron Rodgers is, at the present time, the NFL's all-time leader in both passer-rating (104.9) and interception percentage (1.8). He also ranks second in net yards per pass attempt (7.14), third in completion percentage (65.8), fifth in passing yards per game (257.4) and fifth in touchdown percentage (6.4, easily the best among active players). Rodgers, in a nutshell, is disturbingly good. He's efficient, he limits giveaways, he's mobile and inventive and unnervingly accurate and ... well, he's great. Near perfect. As good as it gets. A one-man clinic on quarterback play at the highest level. Rodgers' real-world brilliance obviously translates to fantasy, as he finished either first or second at his position in standard scoring every year from 2008 to 2012. Last year, if we factor out the November game in which Rodgers fractured his collarbone on Green Bay's opening drive, he ranked third among all QBs in per-game fantasy scoring. [Yahoo Sports Fantasy Football: Sign up and join a league today!] Simply put, Rodgers is a historically great player at the game's most important position. Hall of Fame-bound. Fantasy wise, he should clearly be one of the first three quarterbacks off the board in all leagues. If you play in a format that deducts heavily for turnovers, there's a case to be made for taking him first or second at his position. One of the many things that makes Green Bay's passing offense so reliably great is, of course, year-to-year continuity. Mike McCarthy has been the team's head coach for each of Rodgers' 87 career starts, and for most of his pro development. Jordy Nelson has been with the Packers since 2008, Randall Cobb since 2011 and Jarrett Boykin since 2012. Obviously Green Bay has lost a few featured receivers in recent seasons — notably Greg Jennings, James Jones and Jermichael Finley — but this team is forever developing high-quality replacements. Nelson was basically an understudy for his first three years in the league, a cameo player; over

Big Board: No doubting Thomas [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: August 30, 2014, 5:04 pm]
The Big Board takes into consideration past returns, current performance and expected future gains in determining who should be included among the top 50 fantasy football players. Essentially, the Big Board is a cheat sheet designed for an owner who is planning to participate in a draft today. Yahoo! Sports Fantasy Football default scoring settings are used as the baseline for the Big Board, which is updated on a regular basis during the season. [Smack talk season is back at Yahoo Sports: Sign up and play free Fantasy Football!] Big Board: Football PlayerPos.vs ECRStock 1. LeSean McCoy (PHI) RB 0 Andy Reid is a versatile RB's best friend, but have to wonder if JC being KC's only viable offensive threat will catch up to him a bit in '14. 3. Demaryius Thomas (DEN) WR +1 Love the offensive upside in GB; Top 4 fantasy RB from Week 5 thru Week 17 5. Adrian Peterson (MIN) RB -2 Trestman's system amped up his aerial #'s (75 rec), afforded him plenty of running room (4.6 ypc) 7. Calvin Johnson (DET) WR -1 Top Jimmy is the slam dunk top TE choice, and a strong preseason points to more WR1-level numbers to come in '14 9. Montee Ball (DEN) RB +1 3-year averages of 1,350 rush yards, 13 TDs; likely his last season in SEA, so he will want to shine for his next potential employer 11. A.J. Green (CIN) WR -3 Woeful Dallas D should be a major boon for Dez's fantasy numbers, so long as Romo's back holds up well. 13. Julio Jones (ATL) WR +1 Consistency king has 7 straight 1,000-yard campaigns, and has 100+ catches in 5 of those years 15. Peyton Manning (DEN) QB +12 Past 3-year average is insane: 5,272 passing yards, 44.3 combined pass/rush TDs 17. Giovani Bernard (CIN) RB +8 Preseason work backs up ARI claims that AE will be a fully featured workhorse, so the only real worry now is whether he can hold up 19. DeMarco Murray (DAL) RB +7 Has finished top 2 in fantasy at QB 5 times, and GB planning to push tempo more than ever in '14 21. Jordy Nelson (GNB) WR +2 On

Fantasy Football Live answers your pressing questions Sunday at 9 AM ET, 6 AM PT [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: August 29, 2014, 8:57 pm]
Your draft is in the books. Yahoo graders issued you a ‘promising’ C-. And now, you’re motivated to prove everyone wrong. It’s game week, TEAM HUEVOS. Get pumped … On this week’s down and dirty episode, Brad Evans and Scott Pianowski enter the ring and exchange blows over several hot-button topics driving a wedge through Fantasyland. Should you trust Gio Bernard in light of Jeremy Hill’s sudden emergence? Can Derek Carr make Oakland wide receivers statistically competent? Will Mark Ingram be more than a worthless pile of wombat dung? Questions? Here’s how YOU can join the circus: Phone: 800.777.2907 Twitter: @YSRFFL LISTEN LIVE TO FANTASY FOOTBALL LIVE HERE SUNDAY AT 9 AM ET, 6 AM PT

Juggernaut Index, No. 4: The Detroit Lions [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: August 29, 2014, 7:41 pm]
Whatever else you believe to be true about Detroit's new head coach, Jim Caldwell, at least he's not a lunatic. The Jim Schwartz era has ended. There will be more angry end-of-game headset spikes, no more physical confrontations with opposing coaches. Honestly, it's difficult to imagine any two people who are more dissimilar than Caldwell and Schwartz, in terms of demeanor. The former is so outwardly chill and composed that, at times, he appears to be lightly sedated; the latter is often a raving madman, unhinged and spitting-mad. [Yahoo Sports Fantasy Football: Sign up and join a league today!] Back in June, veteran players offered these descriptions of Caldwell's approach: "He talks to everybody like men and shoots you straight, and I think he expects it back," linebacker DeAndre Levy said. [...] "It's such a calming feeling," center Dominic Raiola said. "It's just a different style of coaching, but just around the building, everybody has a responsibility. That's all you've got to do. Easier said than done, but he's treating everyone on the same level." If ever there was a team that needed clarity and calm and discipline, it's these Lions. The roster is loaded with talent, particularly at the offensive skill spots, but the team's play has been erratic (and occasionally hysterical). Caldwell's arrival can't possibly hurt — fans groaned at the hire, but that man's resume as top-notch. (Three Super Bowls, with two wins as an assistant. Remember, he was Joe Flacco's OC during the Ravens' remarkable title run.) Detroit also hired Joe Lombardi as its new offensive coordinator, which seems like a win. Lombardi had spent the previous seven seasons in New Orleans as an assistant, including five as Drew Brees' position coach. Let's hope the new coaching staff can smooth out the rough edges in Matthew Stafford's game, while still allowing the mega-atomic-rocket-armed QB to pile up stats. Stafford's flaws are well-known — reckless gun-slinging, volatile mechanics — as a

Opening Time: The Jordan Rules [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: August 29, 2014, 6:25 pm]
For most of his career, Jordan Schafer has been one of those single-skill players. A one-trick pony, but it's a pretty good trick. He steals a bushel of bases (usable in very deep fantasy leagues) and that's about it.  Maybe the script is about to change. Perhaps Schafer is ready for his mixed-league closeup for the final month of the year.  Schafer, 27, has become a regular since his move to Minnesota four weeks ago, and he's making good on the opportunity. He's on a 21-for-64 binge over 21 games, with 10 steals in 11 attempts. He has a whopping 25 swipes (on 28 chances) this year, a ton of bags when you consider it's against a modest 144 at-bats. He had three hits, four RBIs and another steal in Thursday's win over the Royals. (Boom, Yosted.)  The Twins keep Schafer locked at the bottom of the lineup, but they've essentially given him a full-time outfield job. He's started 20 of the last 23 games, taking an occasional break against a left-handed opponent. Ron Gardenhire is letting his new outfielder run liberally, that's for sure. No one has more steals in the majors this month.  The offensive production could go away at any time, sure. Schafer had a .222/.307/.304 line during his National League days (over 1093 at-bats), and he doesn't offer much power. The Braves cut him for a reason. But maybe Schafer can be a .250 hitter or so down the stretch, with a ton of bags mixed in. The mental security of a full-time job can't be completely discounted.  The speedy Twin is ready to go in 96 percent of Yahoo leagues, if you find yourself lagging in that one specific column. I'm kicking the tires here and there, too. Rabbit, run. 

Juggernaut Index, No. 5: The Dallas Cowboys [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: August 29, 2014, 1:52 am]
According to various reports, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones was thisclose to selecting Johnny Manziel in the first round on draft night, but he was eventually subdued by underlings using flex-cuffs and animal tranquilizers. Or maybe he was convinced through logic and thoughtful debate and reas— Well, no. This is Jerry [profane] Jones. He was almost certainly cuffed and drugged. Otherwise, there's no way he would have allowed Manziel to land outside Big D. As Jones himself recently said of the Cowboys, "We're the glitz and the glamor of the NFL." [Yahoo Sports Fantasy Football: Sign up and join a league today!] Yeah, OK. I'm gonna guess that if you asked 1,000 NFL fans to play word association and then said "Dallas Cowboys," the most common response would be "mediocrity." This team has finished 8-8 in three consecutive seasons, failing to qualify for the playoffs during the Jason Garrett era. But sure: "Glitz and glamor." Sounds like a reasonable plan, Jer. Tony Romo remains the unrivaled starter at quarterback in Dallas, and, believe it or not, that isn't a bad thing. He has definitely not been the problem. Over the past three years, Romo has averaged 274.8 yards per game, he's thrown 90 touchdown passes, completed 65.3 percent of his throws, and he's led 13 game-winning drives. Are those a bum's stats? No, obviously not. But still, a remarkable number of NFL observers seem to hold Romo responsible for issues that are beyond his control. The Cowboys fielded the NFL's worst defense last season, by a mile (415.3 YPG), yet the team nonetheless finished with a +7 point differential. Fantasy-wise, the only serious concern with Romo is his recovery from back surgery — the injury and associated rehab were worrisome — but his preseason performance has been reassuring (14-for-23, 167 yards, TD). He's again a relative bargain in drafts, the eleventh QB off the board in Yahoo leagues (ADP 77.3). In a healthy season, he'll give you 4000-plus yards and 30 scores. He's a proven

Mostly NFL Notes: An AFC Season Preview [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: August 28, 2014, 7:23 am]
AFC EAST 1. New England Patriots 11-5 2. Miami Dolphins 8-8 3. Buffalo Bills 6-10 4. New York Jets 6-10 Comments/Fantasy predictions: The Patriots scored the third most points in the NFL last season despite dealing with a ton of injuries. They continue to benefit from playing in a mediocre division and having the best head coach/QB combo in the league. Bringing in a now healthy Darrelle Revis with improved health on offense means New England is once again a legitimate title contender…Tom Brady suffered the second most drops by his receivers among all teams last season – 10 more than Peyton Manning while attempting 31 fewer passes. Despite that as well as Rob Gronkowski missing more than half the year, Brady performed as the No. 3 fantasy QB when Shane Vereen was in the lineup (h/t Rotoviz). Brady is in store for a monster season. He’s the No. 4 quarterback on my board and likely won’t cost nearly that price…New England produces a top-three fantasy defense, while Aaron Dobson emerges as the team’s most valuable wide receiver over the second half of the season…Gronkowski misses a couple of games but ultimately rewards those who gambled on him, while Vereen finishes as a top-15 fantasy back. Ryan Tannehill doubled his TD passes from year one to two last season (12 to 24), although that came with a small drop in YPA (6.8 to 6.7). He also has a whopping 18 fumbles over 32 career games. But shockingly, Pro Football Focus graded him as the No. 5 quarterback last season, ahead of Tom Brady, Matthew Stafford, Matt Ryan and Cam Newton, who all (except Newton) had more snaps. He now gets a Chip Kelly disciple to the run the offense, and the O-line should obviously have more continuity in 2014…Lamar Miller and Knowshon Moreno form a timeshare in Miami’s backfield, frustrating each of their fantasy owners…Mike Wallace is better than last year but once again fails to approach his production in Pittsburgh. Wallace got 12.7 yards per target during his second yea

Juggernaut Index, No. 6: The Philadelphia Eagles [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: August 28, 2014, 1:02 am]
We all expected a blistering pace from the Philadelphia Eagles in Chip Kelly's first pro season, and the team didn't disappoint. Philly's offense operated at an unmatched tempo, at times limited only by the speed of NFL officiating crews. All things considered, it was an impressive show. Philadelphia ranked fourth in the league in scoring (27.6 PPG), second in total yards (417.3 YPG) and first in rushing (160.4 YPG). This offense was a machine, and it was at its best in the second half of the season. The Eagles averaged 22.0 points per game over the first eight weeks, then 33.25 thereafter. [Yahoo Sports Fantasy Football: Sign up and join a league today!] For all the odd formations and unique flourishes in Kelly's system, the whole thing is underpinned by basic, sensible principles. Philadelphia creates man-advantages, then exploits them. The team spreads out defenses, then attacks with exceptional skill players. Here's an insane stat regarding the Eagles running game, via PFF's Mike Clay: 76 percent of Philly's rushing attempts last season were against nickel and dime defenses. NFL average was 40 percent, according to Clay's data. So that seems borderline unfair. Not only does this offense feature one of the most dangerous backs in football, LeSean McCoy, but opposing defenses can't (or don't) overload to stop him. Kelly simply plays the numbers/space game beautifully — as well or better than any coach. It helps, of course, that McCoy is a player of rare ability. Shady is a live-wire-quick runner, elusive and freakishly agile, capable of shredding any defensive front. He routinely elicits comparisons to Barry Sanders, and those comps actually don't seem crazy. We've had a few small injury scares with McCoy during the preseason (thumb, toe), but he's practicing and on track for a full workload in the opener. If he's not your top overall pick, he should fall no further than No. 3 in any format. He's an All-Pro in his prime, coming off a season in which he led the l

Wallet 14: The Russell Wilson Tour [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: August 27, 2014, 8:53 pm]
I'm doing this article a little earlier than I'd like to. I'm about 60 percent of the way through my draft and auction season, and I know some of my opponents love to use my publicly-declared targets against me.  So it goes. It's part of the gig.  The names listed below are the common-share players showing up on my rosters to this point. While the fantasy season has yet to be written, the success or failure of this group will have a large say in how I do.  [ Yahoo Sports Fantasy Football: Sign up and join a league today! ] Maybe you'll agree on many, maybe you're agree on none. That's why we have a game. The first name is the headliner, the player I have the most shares of. Everyone else is listed in no particular order. To the clipboard:  -- Russell Wilson, QB, Seahawks: He's been a lower-end QB1 in his first two seasons, ranking 11th and 8th in Yahoo scoring despite very modest volume (800 total passes). Imagine what's possible if the Seahawks give Wilson a little more responsibility and volume in 2014.  Obviously Wilson's efficiency cuts down on the attempts, but the team has also kept him somewhat under wraps compared to game plans around the league. But if Wilson gets a full season from Percy Harvin (or even a chunk of a season), it's time to get excited. And Wilson's rushing yardage is a nifty cherry on the sundae, nectar of the gods, a floor-building element.  Wilson currently is the No. 14 quarterback in Yahoo ADP, an absolute steal. He's easily outperformed that in his first two seasons, he's coming off a monster camp, he's entering his third year, Harvin looms. I understand how dominant the Seattle defense can be - that's a volume limiter for Wilson - but can we expect it to play at last year's historic level? Even a modest amount of defensive regression would figure to help Wilson's bottom line. (Angle in a nutshell: value pick with upside, going cheap at QB.)  -- Matt Forte, RB, Bears: My general rule of thumb with the early rounds is "elevator" -

Rapid React: Cleveland not a complete fantasy wasteland sans Gordon [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: August 27, 2014, 5:48 pm]
For months the fantasy community has waited on pins and needles awaiting the NFL’s decision on the No. 1 ranked fantasy wide receiver from a season ago (in per game), Josh Gordon. Speculating he could receive a reduced or no suspension at all, riverboat gamblers throughout August rolled the dice and picked the troubled wideout in the later rounds hoping the football gods would reward their huevos. Sadly, those who invested in his services were struck down by lightning Wednesday. The NFL officially upheld Gordon’s year-long suspension, a crippling blow to the virtual game and the unlucky Cleveland Browns. The news certainly stung, but the games must go on. Here’s a quick spin on how Gordon’s absence impacts the fantasy value of those wearing orange position-by-position: Quarterbacks: Just when things couldn’t get any worse for Brian Hoyer and Johnny Manziel, it did. Losing Gordon, a dynamic, field-stretching talent who’s capable of turning a simple post into a long touchdown, is nothing short of devastating. Hoyer, still firmly planted on the hot seat, will need to lean on Jordan Cameron and safety valve Andrew Hawkins if he has any hope of staying in the driver’s seat. If the Browns start the season 0-3, however, he’s likely to get the hook. Assuming that happens, Manziel, because of his rushing abilities, is capable of a top-15 line. Yes, he couldn’t hit Paul Bunyan from 10 yards out in preseason play, but his scrambling instincts and prior success with the zone-read, shouldn’t be overlooked. Remember, Terrelle Pryor, as horrendous of a passer as he was a season ago with the Raiders, was a top-16 fantasy asset as a starter. Why? Rush stats. Manziel, and not Hoyer, is the better long-term fit for Kyle Shanahan’s run-first system and is worth a bench stash in 14-team and deeper leagues.  Running Backs: Ben Tate and Terrance West better load up on the protein shakes, ice baths and massage sessions. The duo will be worked like pack mules this fal

Juggernaut Index, No. 7: The Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: August 26, 2014, 6:57 pm]
In the eight years that we've produced produced the Juggernaut Index here at Yahoo, I don't think we've ever once led a team preview by talking about a defense. We're here to have a fantasy conversation, after all. Defenses are generally an afterthought in our game. It's a roster spot that many savvy fantasy owners tend to stream. However, the Seahawks D is an outlier in many ways. It feels wrong to begin any consideration of this franchise without first acknowledging that Seattle's 2013 defense may have been the best in NFL history — and if it isn't at the top of your ranks, it needs to at least make the short list. [Yahoo Sports Fantasy Football: Sign up and join a league today!] Obviously we can never definitively settle the greatest-of-all-time debate, and I'll make no attempt to do so here. If we could somehow put the '85 Bears and the '02 Bucs and the '00 Ravens and the present-day Seahawks in a giant cage-match, we could ... well, we would really have some carnage. And probably the highest-rated program in NFL Network history. Let's simply agree that Seattle's defense is a badass group. When you consider the era, this team's defensive accomplishments are astonishing. The Seahawks allowed only 14.4 points and 273.6 total yards per game last season, ranking first in each category by significant margins. Seattle also ranked first against the pass (172.0 YPG), first in interceptions (28), eighth in sacks (44.0) and eighth against the run (101.6). This D allowed only four rushing touchdowns all season, which is absolutely ludicrous. And of course the Seahawks eviscerated Peyton Manning's record-breaking offense in Super Bowl XLVIII. Personally, I'm not the type to take the first defense off the board in any fantasy draft, so I never actually land Seattle. But I'm not going to judge anyone too harshly for selecting this unit before the end-game picks. Again, it's a badass D, an obscene collection of talent. Richard Sherman is a corner so dominant he can erase any

Opening Time: Can Tim Lincecum reinvent himself? [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: August 26, 2014, 5:29 pm]
Tim Lincecum might be the most consistently-panned player in this space over the last couple of years. We didn't give him an excuse for the gopheritis trend that started in 2012. We didn't trust the K/9 rate, given that the strikeout percentage was moving in the wrong direction. We didn't play the "but he's Tim Lincecum" card, an all-time silly argument.  Numbers over names, man.  But Timmy Lincecum in the Giants bullpen? Yeah, I'm intrigued again. Lincecum's star started to fade in the 2012 season, but you probably remember he was a reliever for most of San Francisco's championship run. Check what he did out of the bullpen that October: 13 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 17 K.  The appearances came against the Reds, Cardinals and Tigers. (Full disclosure, he was knocked around in one start at St. Louis.)  It's very common to see recycled starters turn into dominant relievers. Heck, the Hall of Fame has some. When Dennis Eckersley needed a jump start, he went to the bullpen. Goose Gossage was just a failed starter before the train got rolling. HOF lock Mariano Rivera fits this model, too. (John Wetteland, Eric Gagne, we could run out names all day long. Zach Britton and Wade Davis are two examples from this year.) Lincecum doesn't have to worry about pacing himself in this new role, or multiple trips through a batting order. He can cut loose, leave it all on the mound. I'm expecting him to thrive in this role, and I've added him in a few leagues where quality innings are important.  I recognize this isn't the sort of play that will work in all leagues. In some formats, a non-closing reliever has little or no value. There's no way to make this column one-size-fits-all. I'm just giving you a look at my playbook, and telling you I expect Lincecum to be worthwhile for the rest of the season, at least in some formats.  Your move, gamer.  • There isn't a lot to say about the early shutdowns of Shin-Soo Choo and Yu Darvish. You drop them, you curse your luck, you move on. I

Mostly NFL Notes: An NFC Season Preview [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: August 26, 2014, 6:13 am]
NFC East 1. Philadelphia Eagles 9-7 2. Dallas Cowboys 8-8 3. New York Giants 8-8 4. Washington Redskins 8-8 Comments/Fantasy predictions: There’s no doubt Nick Foles’ INT% will regress (he threw the most passes of any player ever with 0, 1 or 2 interceptions in a season last year), and he also got lucky when it came to drops, as his receivers suffered just 13, as 29 other quarterbacks dealt with more. Despite that as well as losing DeSean Jackson, the Eagles’ system is sure to produce a bunch of points once again. They might even play faster during Chip Kelly’s second year in the NFL. Foles’ average TD pass last season was 17.4 Air Yards, which was the highest in football. He’ll safely finish as a top-10 fantasy QB…Adding Darren Sproles, who PFF graded as the NFL’s best receiving back last season, should only help…Jeremy Maclin is a top-15 fantasy WR on a per-game basis but misses a half dozen contests, as he’s kind of an injury risk…Zach Ertz scores double-digit touchdowns en route to a top-five fantasy season, while LeSean McCoy wins the NFL’s Offensive Player of the Year award. The Cowboys have an interesting roster, possessing one of the league’s best offensive lines to go along with one of the league’s worst defenses. It’s a recipe for fantasy success, especially in the passing game…Thanks to a 2-4 start, calls for Jason Garrett’s firing get louder, but an ensuing four-game winning streak saves his job one last time, but ultimately, Dallas fails to make the postseason…The Cowboys recovered the highest percentage of fumbles (67.6) of any team last year, and did you realize Tony Romo has a better career winning percentage than Troy Aikman?…DeMarco Murray is a top-five fantasy RB on a per-game basis but misses a handful of contests (in which a committee ensues, frustrating all of his owners), while Terrance Williams finishes as a top-25 WR…Dez Bryant, who did things like this last year, ends the season as fantasy’s No. 1

Monday Mini-Mock: Shocker specials [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: August 25, 2014, 4:35 pm]
So here's how this works. Each Monday, the Yahoo fantasy crew jumps on a conference call to discuss the week that was/will be. As part of this process, we've decided to include a short mock draft - roughly, one-eighth the size of a normal draft, I shall call it mini mock. This week's mini mock draft (four rounds) consists solely of the pool of players currently owned in less than 10 percent of Yahoo leagues — each expert was required to draft a QB, RB, WR, and a TE. [Get in the game with Yahoo! Sports Fantasy Football] Round 1 Pick 1 — Lance Dunbar, Dal, RB (Brandon Funston) Funston says – Backup RB Joique Bell thrived in OC Scott Linehan's backfield platoon system in Detroit, and now Linehan has similar designs for the versatile Dunbar in Big D. Round 1 Pick 2 — Knile Davis, KC, RB  (Scott Pianowski) Pianowman says – Wes Welker is a major question mark after suffering yet another concussion, and Latimer has impressed this month. The rookie may have a bigger role than expected in 2014, which could yield nice results in the league's top offense. Round 1 Pick 4 — Travis Kelce, KC, TE  (Andy Behrens) Behrens says –  In the event that Arian Foster were to physically crumble, Grimes would likely shoulder the lion's share of touches in an offense that plays to his versatile skills. Recall last year in Week 17 at TEN, he rolled up 126 combined yards and a TD. Round 2 Pick 2 — John Brown, Ari, WR (Behrens) Behrens says – Very quietly, he was a Top 20 fantasy quarterback last year in total scoring, despite a New York supporting cast that did little to help him. No one expects the 2014 Jets to be a juggernaut, but Smith at least got some help this year (whatever's left of Chris Johnson; underrated Eric Decker; intriguing Jace Amaro). Smith also figures to run some, nectar from the fantasy gods. Round 2 Pick 5 — Jake Locker, TEN, QB (Funston) Funston says – I recognize the Raiders have looked like a train wreck in the summer (heck, for years), bu

Mini-Mock: Shocker specials [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: August 25, 2014, 4:35 pm]
So here's how this works. Each week, the Yahoo fantasy crew jumps on a conference call to discuss the week that was/will be. As part of this process, we've decided to include a short mock draft - roughly, one-eighth the size of a normal draft, I shall call it mini mock. This week's mini mock draft (four rounds) consists solely of the pool of players currently owned in less than 10 percent of Yahoo leagues — each expert was required to draft a QB, RB, WR, and a TE. [Get in the game with Yahoo! Sports Fantasy Football] Round 1 Pick 1 — Lance Dunbar, Dal, RB (Brandon Funston) Funston says – Backup RB Joique Bell thrived in OC Scott Linehan's backfield platoon system in Detroit, and now Linehan has similar designs for the versatile Dunbar in Big D. Round 1 Pick 2 — Knile Davis, KC, RB  (Scott Pianowski) Pianowman says – Wes Welker is a major question mark after suffering yet another concussion, and Latimer has impressed this month. The rookie may have a bigger role than expected in 2014, which could yield nice results in the league's top offense. Round 1 Pick 4 — Travis Kelce, KC, TE  (Andy Behrens) Behrens says –  In the event that Arian Foster were to physically crumble, Grimes would likely shoulder the lion's share of touches in an offense that plays to his versatile skills. Recall last year in Week 17 at TEN, he rolled up 126 combined yards and a TD. Round 2 Pick 2 — John Brown, Ari, WR (Behrens) Behrens says – Very quietly, he was a Top 20 fantasy quarterback last year in total scoring, despite a New York supporting cast that did little to help him. No one expects the 2014 Jets to be a juggernaut, but Smith at least got some help this year (whatever's left of Chris Johnson; underrated Eric Decker; intriguing Jace Amaro). Smith also figures to run some, nectar from the fantasy gods. Round 2 Pick 5 — Jake Locker, TEN, QB (Funston) Funston says – I recognize the Raiders have looked like a train wreck in the summer (heck, for years), but

Juggernaut Index, No. 8: The New Orleans Saints [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: August 25, 2014, 4:33 pm]
Let's begin with a partial list of Drew Brees' accomplishments as an NFL quarterback: • two-time Offensive Player of the Year • Super Bowl MVP • eight-time Pro Bowler • ranks fifth all-time in career passing yards (51,081) • fourth all-time in passing TDs (363) • second all-time in completion percentage (65.9) • sixth all-time in net yards per pass attempt (6.95) • seventh all-time in game-winning drives (34) • produced the second, fourth, fifth and seventh highest all-time single-season passing totals Not bad, right? [Yahoo Sports Fantasy Football: Sign up and join a league today!] Brees is 35 years old, entering his fourteenth pro season. He's three years younger than Peyton Manning and a year-and-a-half younger than Tom Brady, so he's not a bad bet to finish ahead of both in raw passing totals. He's basically settled in at a level of production that no other QB has ever maintained. Of the eight individual 5,000-yard passing seasons in NFL history, this guy is responsible for four. We almost never include Brees in the best-ever-quarterback discussion, for reasons that aren't completely clear. His resume is absolutely ridiculous — inner-circle Hall of Fame-quality, no question. Fantasy-wise, Brees is pretty much as good as it gets, at any position. He's finished as either the first or second highest-scoring fantasy QB in five of the past six seasons, and he hasn't ranked outside the top-10 since 2003. He also hasn't missed a game due to injury in forever, so durability isn't a concern. As a general rule, I prefer the mid-draft quarterback approach in standard fantasy formats, but I'll only let Brees fall so far — rarely beyond Round 3. Over the past three seasons, he's averaged 5272 passing yards and 43 TDs. Those numbers — regardless of era — are obscene. When all the stats are in the books, the Drew Brees/Sean Payton collaboration will very likely be regarded as one of the two or three greatest QB/coach partnerships in history. So, in su

Sunday Night Fantasy Chat [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: August 25, 2014, 1:56 am]
It's been a fairly tame summer for football injuries, but now we have to worry about Wes Welker and Cam Newton - and pause sadly for Sam Bradford. Bring on your football queries, your baseball ponderings, your hockey hunches, your random meanderings.  Let's figure this out, together.  Live Blog Sunday Night Fantasy Chat

Preseason Week 3 Flames/Lames: Muscle up, Martin back in RB1 discussion [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: August 24, 2014, 6:27 pm]
There's a large contingent of football fans that staunchly believe preseason games are completely inconsequential. To these naysayers, they're nothing more than an evaluation phase for head coaches looking to comprise the best 53-man roster possible. However, most fanatics would vehemently disagree. Exhibition action gives owners the opportunity to gain invaluable insight into potential sleepers and busts. Alfred Morris' breakout preseason two years ago is a prime example. In an attempt to decipher the meaningful from the meaningless, here are the top Flames and lowly Lames from Preseason Week 3.  PRESEASON WEEK 3 FLAMES Doug Martin, TB, RB  – You've won me over, Muscle Hamster. Earlier this month, the Tampa rusher, expected to be logjammed in an unknown RBBC in Jeff Tedford's offense, ranked outside my RB top-15. Now entrenched as the three-down bellcow with Charles Sims out for the next 10-12 weeks, he's regained trust as an RB1. In Tampa's final first-team tuneup, he looked every bit the 15-20 touch back. His 3.2 yards per carry didn't move the meter, but he totaled 65 yards on 12 grips, working all three downs. Tampa's offensive line isn't the most rigid, however, Martin's projected volume favors a major rebound year. Having Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson to stretch the field greatly benefits him. If you've yet to draft, he's worth strong consideration in the mid-second. A 1,400-total yard, 10-12 TD line seems completely reasonable.  [ Yahoo Sports Fantasy Football: Sign up and join a league today! ] Matt Ryan, Atl, QB – The bitter taste of 2013 has been washed away. Ryan, who posted commendable numbers a season ago (QB9) despite Julio Jones' absence and an ankle-handicapped Roddy White, might be on the verge of a career year. The loss of O-lineman Sam Baker hurts, but Julio has looked unstoppable in the early season and White again has a pep in his step. Equally important, Atlanta's defense should again give up oodles of points, thrusting Ry





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