Week 5 Fantasy Football Rankings: Bye weeks begin

Fantasy football is about more than assembling your favorite players on one team. This week, with six teams on a bye week, strategy element of the game begins to set in. While a week to rest might be good for the players, it’s certainly a headache for fantasy owners.

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Fantasy Football Weekly Podcast 4, Sports Radio 1400

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WQOW ABC 18’s  Stephen Kelley co-host a weekly fantasy football radio show here in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. After the jump listen to “Fantasy Football Weekly on Sports Radio 1400”

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Week 4 Fantasy Football Rankings: Put up or shut up

We’re three weeks into the fantasy football season and the surprises just keep on coming. Cam Newton and Matthew Stafford are top-10 fantasy quarterbacks. Coe College alum Fred Jackson is the third best fantasy back. And how about Scott Chandler, who had one catch before this year, picking up four scores in the first three weeks. But much like business, it’s not what you did last week; it’s what are you going to do for me now. So let’s look into the crystal ball and find this weeks surprise, shall we?

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Fantasy Football Weekly Podcast, Sports Radio 1400

WQOW ABC 18’s  Stephen Kelley co-host a weekly fantasy football radio show here in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. After the jump listen to “Fantasy Football Weekly on Sports Radio 1400”
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Week 3 Fantasy Football Rankings: The Injury Bug Bites

It shouldn’t surprise any of us. In a game as violent as football, injuries are bound to happen. Top-5 pick Jamaal Charles is out for season. Miles Austin is out until October 16th. Let’s not even get started on Peyton Manning.  Much like their professional counterparts, fantasy owners need to find ways to fill the void left by their injured players. Included in this week’s rankings, I’ll list some guys that could step in for your injured star this week.

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Minnesota Vikings Blow Big Lead; Look Lost at Sea Thus Far

The Minnesota Vikings are winless so far during the 2011 regular season,  much to the chagrin of their fans. Adrian Peterson has been the one constant so far for the club. On Sunday, he gained one hundred twenty yards on the ground in just twenty-five carries. That is the extent of the good news that is transpiring up in the great North.

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Week 2 Fantasy Football Rankings: Building on a strong week

If we learned one thing about the NFL in week one: the lockout certainly did not slow down the offensive numbers.  A ridiculous 14 quarterbacks had more than 300 yards, four of which went over 400. 13 receivers topped 100 yards, including seven double-digit touchdown performances. Needless to say, fantasy teams weren’t suffering. Now it’s time to build on that success and dominate week two of the fantasy season.

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Week 1 Fantasy Football Rankings: Football is Back!

We endured an offseason consisting of men in suits walking in and out of buildings. We endured a three-month stretch when the work “lockout” might as well have been preceded by a four-letter word. But courtrooms, politics, and league lawyers are now a thing of the past. Because ladies and gentleman, we’re finally here! The start of the NFL season is here!

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Detroit Tigers: Midseason Report Card

The Detroit Tigers have three of the top six hitters in the American League. Miguel Cabrera, Jhonny Peralta, and Victor Martinez all have batting averages between .310 and .320. This may seem low to hold those positions in the junior circuit, but offensive numbers have been down this season across both leagues. The surprising aspect to this analysis of the statistics is that none of these players is among the leaders in home runs or runs batted in.

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Stafford Thrusts New Life Into Detroit

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Calvin Johnson caught three touchdown passes for the first time in his young but illustrious career. He was close to having four, but Matthew Stafford was intercepted in the corner of the end zone during the first half going for broke. Calvin Johnson plays the wide receiver position with reckless abandon, much like Adrian Peterson does at running back. It is simply a matter of time before he is knocked out of the game for a prolonged period of time.

It’s impossible to sustain the hits that he does on a regular basis and continue playing. Usually his size is a tremendous advantage, but it does provide a bigger target for defensive backs-who are head hunting to get Detroit’s biggest playmaker on the sidelines. Make no mistake about it, whatever fine is doled out by the NFL is worth it if Calvin Johnson is out of the game.

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Bruce Weber’s International Incident

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By Paul M. Banks

If you’ve ever seen University of Illinois Men’s basketball Head Coach Bruce Weber on television, you might notice what a happy-go-lucky guy he appears to be. In person, he’s just the nicest guy you’ll ever meet. One might even call him “cuddly.” That’s why I was shocked to learn that someone might actually treat him like a potentially dangerous criminal or terrorist.

There were numerous complaints about Detroit being the 2009 Final Four’s host city. Prepare to add another one to the list. During the final weekend of March Madness, the coaches stayed across the border in Windsor, Ontario. This led to international intrigue and authorities singling out Weber, a man who recently signed an extension (with a 50% pay raise) to coach at Illinois until 2015.

“Coach Keady’s wife passed away, and Matt Painter and I were his assistants; so with his wife’s illness, we had to run the practices. We had to go back and forth to Windsor. A couple of times it took two hours to get through the tunnel from Canada back to Detroit. You’re talking just three miles, but it took forever. And one day we got stopped and pulled over, and they had to check out our car. We laughed and it took a while, but then one guy came out and said: ‘Well, I’m a Michigan fan, that’s why we pulled you over, and we can make a commercial out of it,’ and we laughed.” Weber said this during the recent National Association of Basketball Coaches’ “Court of Honor” Gala in Chicago.

So there’s yet another reason (sort of) to hate Michigan Wolverines fans: a real life version of the Jordan brand advertisement that we all saw during March Madness.

However, this was not the only time the authorities decided to mess with Bruce.

“And then the next day we got pulled over, again. This time I was by myself, and I said to the guys, ‘What is going on?’ And they said, ‘Well you got a rental car, and you’re going back and forth.’ Because we have practices and meetings. It was a little bit of a hassle at the time, but I guess it’s good they’re trying to protect our country.”

It’s good to hear Weber maintain his jolly demeanor; even as he encountered some of the most annoying situations possible.

Why Michigan St Plays for the Title

By Paul M. Banks

Heading into Saturday’s Final Four, much has been made of MSU’s home-court advantage in Detroit, but the “intangible” if you believe in such things as a deciding factor being slightly under-reported is the dark cloud of scandal hanging over the heads of the UConn program.

They may just fold up shop, like Indiana did down the stretch last season when the stench of Kelvin “Mr. Telephone Man” Sampson’s corruption sent the Hoosiers into a serious downfall.

The Spartans were not favored to beat Louisville, but the played lights-out defense and dominated the Cardinals down the stretch. I respect the talent of Hasheem Thabeet and A.J. Price, but I don’t think the team has enough left in the tank to overcome the maladaptive mental factors that will be plaguing them on the nation’s brightest stage.

I also think North Carolina will cruise in their semifinal, setting up a rematch of a VERY one-sided game held in December- at the very same venue. UNC utterly routed Sparty in a game that was even more lopsided than the box score indicates. Look for it to be much closer this time, especially since Izzo will have his Suton, as in Goran Suton for this match, and that makes a huge difference.

As Illinois Coach Bruce Weber articulated, the gist of Michigan State is…

“Suton is the key to them, he’s a fifth year senior, he’s strong, physical and really improved as a player. Their deep and they can keep coming at you with a lot of people, a lot of different weapons.”

Weber wasn’t able to solve Sparty during their two meetings this season and after the second loss, he spoke all about Kalin Lucas, the Big Ten player of the year, and the outside threat complementing Suton inside.

“He’s as quick a player as anyone in the country, it’s kind of back to the days when snow was there and Mateen Cleaves and he’s got ‘em running up and down. The big ten sometimes gets a knock for not running up and down and playing transition basketball but Michigan State to me has always been one of the best teams in the country as far as fast breaking.”

I asked him if the best player on conference champ Michigan St. Kalin Lucas reminded him of Dee Brown, his recent superstar point guard, being that both were usually the quickest guy in the court

“He does, from top of the key to top of the key, he gets there really quick, and it puts you in a bind, puts you on your heels, he might be quicker than Eric Snow or Mateen Cleaves, he seems like one of those little bugs that just flies down. And they work at it. Tom and I talk a lot of times about the league and the image, you know we all try to run, it’s just that in the league you get a great home court advantage, with the filled arenas, people guard in our league and they take things away because they prepare and they take away that transition.
I’m not saying Sparty will run the table in 8 Mile next weekend, but this team does share a lot of similarities to the 2000 National Title team.

-Both got better as the season went on, and had some embarrassing losses early. The title team lost to Wright St. in pre-conference, freaking Wright St. This team got thrashed by both Maryland and UNC early on. Both teams recovered to play their best ball when it mattered most

-Each of these teams possessed lot of versatility and were able to generate many different lineups from their wings and run those lineups effectively. This team can play different tempos when the situation calls for it and the title team displayed that in the Final Four, drubbing Wisconsin 53-41 in stall-ball before out-running Florida 89-76.

-Role players excel and provide critical lifts at opportune times. 2000: we had Aloysius Anagone, A.J. Granger, Mike Chappel, and Jason Richardson (remember he was mostly awful his freshman year, but became his star during his sophomore campaign. This season: Durrell Summers, Delvon Roe and Chris Allen have carried this unit at times.

-Each unit had balls bounce their way and survived scares to reach the b-ball promised land. The 2000 team’s victories over Marcus Fizer/Jamaal Tinsley’s Iowa St. team in the elite 8 was much closer than the final score. Ditto for the sweet 16 round versus Syracuse. Both Spartan teams were in deep trouble with under 5 minutes to go, but played out of their mind down the stretch.  This year’s team was quite fortunate to survive Arizona. Not to mention that both teams had Detroit as a portion of their Final 4 journey. The 2000 team played the second weekend at the Auburn Hills Palace while this team takes the court in Ford Field.