April 1, 2014

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The Week in Sports

By: Anson Whaley

An Unlikely Final Four: After another crazy weekend of college basketball, an unlikely Final Four is finally set. Florida, the No. 1 overall seed, is there and the lone non-surprise. But Kentucky topped higher seeds Louisville and Michigan, UConn upset Iowa State and Michigan State, and Wisconsin beat No. 1 seed Arizona. Of the four teams standing, only Florida was a popular Final Four pick and this year is one of the best examples of what March Madness is really all about. By the way, I’ll take the Gators.

Florida Gators Basketball

Will Florida, the overall #1 seed, win the NCAA Tournament?

Northwestern Football Players Win Right to Form Union: Northwestern’s football players scored a historic victory when a court ruled that they have the right to create a union. We’re likely still a long way from anything significant happening on this, but in essence, it could open up the door for college athletes to earn money as employees. While the win holds some significance, I still find it difficult to believe athletes can get paid with things remaining the same in the NCAA. There are really too many hurdles with this – for example, who gets paid … the football players or all of a university’s athletes? How much do they earn? What about football programs that don’t earn boatloads of money? To me, the best solution always has been to allow high school athletes to go straight into the NFL Draft if they desire. The league could create a de facto minor league system, similar to the NBA’s Development League. For players that are good enough to be selected in the draft and want to earn money right away, that’s their ticket. For the others that wouldn’t be selected, they still have the option of playing in college for a scholarship.

Philadelphia 76ers Win: Typically a regular-season NBA win against a bad team isn’t big enough to garner much attention, but all eyes were on Philly after they defeated the Detroit Pistons over the weekend, 123-98. The Sixers had lost 26 straight games, tying an NBA record with the Cleveland Cavaliers for the dubious distinction. Philadelphia’s last win was a one-point victory over the Boston Celtics on January 29th.

Bowling for Records: A man nearly bowled a perfect game … backwards.

Mike Montgomery Retires from Cal: The head coach of Cal’s men’s basketball team is stepping down after a long career. Mike Montgomery gained fame from his 18-year run at Stanford, leading the team to numerous NCAA Tournament Appearances and a Final Four. After leaving that job for a brief NBA stint, Montgomery returned to the college ranks at Cal for six years. He led the Bears to six NCAA Tournament appearances, but couldn’t get the team past the third round. With a 21-14 record this season, Montgomery led Cal to the NIT, where they were eliminated last week by SMU.

Andrew Wiggins Declares for NBA Draft: Kansas freshman basketball star Andrew Wiggins suffered a disappointing loss when his Jayhawks were bounced early in the NCAA Tournament, losing to Stanford. Now, the phenom is ready for the next step and declared himself available for this year’s NBA Draft. Wiggins didn’t have a good game in that finale against the Cardinal and while he had some duds this season, they were few and far between. He averaged 17.4 points and six rebounds per game, and was a Second Team All-American, making the decision a no-brainer.

Mark Sanchez Photobomb: Quarterback Mark Sanchez signed with the Philadelphia Eagles, and then was promptly photobombed. By a photo.

Maurice Jones-Drew to Raiders: Longtime Jacksonville Jaguars running back will continue his NFL career after being let go by the franchise. MJD heads to the Oakland Raiders on a three-year deal and should give running back Darren McFadden some much-needed competition for the starting job. Jones-Drew rushed for a career-best 1,606 yards in 2011, but became expendable when he had an injury-prone 2012 and lackluster 2013, rushing for a combined 1,217 yards in both seasons. Over those two years, he only found the end zone six times on the ground and last year, really struggled with a meager 3.4 yards per carry average – a career worst. As bad as Jones-Drew has been lately, though, there’s still a fighter’s chance that he wins the starting job. McFadden has been a career underachiever, and only once reached the 1,000-yard mark. Over the past two years, he’s averaged only 3.3 yards per carry and might even be the underdog against the older Jones-Drew.

UMass Leaving MAC: Conference realignment and expansion in college football has slowed dramatically in the past year. It isn’t over completely, though, as UMass will be leaving the MAC – their home for football. The Minutemen currently play many of their sports in the Atlantic 10 and were offered full conference membership by the MAC. However, they declined and the conference asked them to look for a new football home after the 2015 season. With teams like Bowling Green, Northern Illinois, and Central Michigan finding success in recent years, the MAC is becoming a stronger football league. Still, the Atlantic 10 is rising too quickly in basketball to leave right now and the Minutemen basketball program is much farther along than the football program, which just leapt to the FBS in 2012. It may be difficult finding a new football home, but the option to remain as an Independent exists.

August 15, 2012

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Fantasy Football Rankings: Running Backs

By: Junior

With NFL Fantasy Football drafts right around the corner, we will take a look at the top 5 players at each position. Depending on what type of league you are in, theses evaluations will vary, but the general ranking will be similar. Our last rankings focused on quarterbacks. This week, we will look at the running backs and which players are worthy of a high pick.

Ray Rice tops this year's list of fantasy football running backs.

1. Ray Rice

You won’t see this ranking many other places. To me, consistency is important, and Ray Rice has been nothing but solid that past three seasons. Add the fact he averages over 70 catches over the last three years, and you can count on lots of points from Rice. The Ravens are a team that runs the ball well and will feature Rice often. There is a little worry with the trend of players under-performing after signing a new contract, but I have faith that you won’t regret picking Rice early.

2. LeSean McCoy

Another shocker. However, if you compare his stats with Arian Foster’s the last 3 years, McCoy is right with Foster in many categories. Last season, McCoy had more yards on less carries, as well as 7 more rushing touchdown’s than Foster. That is a lot of points. The Texans can run the ball, but I think the Eagles have a better passing game, allowing them to be more balanced and not let defenses stack the box. I think McCoy is a solid pick up on your fantasy roster.

3. Arian Foster

We finally arrive at the consensus #1 running back in fantasy. I don’t have anything against Foster, and if you can get him on your team when the other 2 running backs listed are gone, I don’t think you will be too disappointed. Foster will get you points, but with Andre Johnson being the only other offensive weapon for the Texans, defenses know who they need to key in on. Add Ben Tate to the equation, and I feel the two other running backs are better options for this season.

4. Matt Forte

While the off-season was a little shaky with his contract dispute/holdout, Forte is in camp and should be his reliable self. As you can tell by my rankings, I like my fantasy running backs to be receiving threats and Forte holds his own, averaging over 50 catches over the last 3 years. However, he only has one 1,000 yard season over that time, which is hard to accept. That being said, with the additions the Bears have made in the passing game, I think Chicago could have a solid offense this season, leading to more red-zone opportunities for Forte.

5. Darren McFadden

This is a tough one. Darren McFadden is a solid bet, when healthy. That, unfortunately, is a big disclaimer. McFadden has had durability issues in the NFL so this could be a risky pick. However, most of the running backs left have concerns. Maurice Jones-Drew is currently holding out. The Falcons have said they may limit Michael Turner in the beginning of the year to keep his legs fresh. Steven Jackson is getting up there in age. The list goes on and on. So I will take a flyer on McFadden and hope for the best.

July 16, 2010

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Fantasy Football

By: MoJo

Fantasy Football season is here.  Being a part the most bizarre and greatest fantasy football league in the world can be crazy.  I need to be ready to draft in less than 24 hours from now.  This is not a phony mock draft, this is the real deal, the draft to start the season.  Yes, we draft before NFL training camps open.  What makes our league so great?  Well, for starters just about every aspect of the league has been customized.  Each franchise protects 4 players.  Well not always, as roster spots are available to be traded for picks.  Current year picks or for future picks (2 years out is the max that can be traded).  If you end the year with only 3 viable keepers and can’t acquire a decent 4th, you can sell your spot for picks.  This is common for teams in a rebuilding mode.  The team trading for the spot ends up with 5 players kept (which can be a big advantage heading into the season).  I’ll run through my team as an example.  I ended last season with the following: Tony Romo, Ben Roethlisberger, Chris Johnson, Maurice Jones-Drew, Reggie Bush, Marques Colston, Hines Ward, Percy Harvin and M Wallace as my main cast.  I cut-down to my 4 keepers of Romo, Johnson, Jones-Drew and Colston.  I was unable to trade any of my other guys for extra picks so they will be put into this year’s draft bucket.  The draft is made of all unprotected players (cut players) and all entering rookies.  We have one draft for all the available players.

The draft order for the first four rounds is based on the previous season’s rankings. The Fathead Dry-Erase Fantasy Football Draft board is going to be a major help this year.  The worse team picks first in all 4 rounds.  This gives the worst team the best opportunity to improve for the long haul.  They have first shot at the best incoming rookie.  The champ picks last in all 4 rounds.  Rounds 5, 7 and 9 are drawn randomly from cards.  Rounds 6, 8 and 10 are the reverse order of 5, 7 and 9.  What else makes us unique, we do not play for money, but instead opted for a 5’ tall trophy and bragging rights.  Our scoring system is insanely rare as well – customized to our liking.  We also have 20 years of history maintained:  Franchise records, owner’s records, fantasy player records annually, playoff records by owner, by franchise, etc.  About 50% of ownership is founding members.  We’ve had a team of the decade for the 90s and 2000s.  We also have a Winter’s meeting annually to discuss all things fantasy (rules changes, revise the scoring system, schedule, realignment, etc).  The beauty of the keeper league is that fantasy players can get associated with your franchise for their career.  The keeper league aspect lets you keep momentum, good players you were able to acquire, build history and adds a sense of pride around your franchise.  Looking forward to another draft, any advice on sleepers for this year?