Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Best5Zach's Fantasy College Football Week 4

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Week 3 is in the books. I went 3-0 this week and 8-1 overall throughout the leagues in which I participate.

How did my players perform? Well, not so great. While Wallace did what Wallace does...throwing 4 TDs with 1 INT and 316 yards, only the Oregon defense did me right. 

Abdullah had a 110 yard 1 TD performance on the way to a 55-19 win over Fresno State. That wasn't terribly surprising, in retrospect. Nebraska has struggled to do much more than run Abdullah so far this year. But, they found their stride early and Abdullah was out of the game earlier than expected. 

Kelvin Taylor has taken a back seat for the Gators. Taylor struggled against Kentucky, seeing his carries given away. This is a major cause for concern. 

Treadwell has continued to find himself in tight coverage, leading to the explosion of Cody Core, an unknown at the start of the season. It's tough to even consider, but Treadwell finds himself on the cut list going into his bye week. I can't bring myself to do it quite yet. But, if my new crop of receivers do well this week, he may be sitting for awhile.

I picked up De'Runnya Wilson late last week, as he had found the endzone 3 times in 2 games. And yet, he didn't play snap gainst South Alabama, leading to the most confusing play of my weekend. 

Engram didn't play against UL-Laf. No reason has been given, which is frustrating. He hasn't blown up like I thought he would, but he remains on my roster simply because of the double up advantage I get when playing Wallace. He has 17 points in the first 2 games, which is a respectable number. He has been held scoreless, which is a big surprise and a trend that won't continue when we get into SEC play. But, he hits the pine on his bye week. 

Dixon was another late pickup and a big gamble. I picked him up because someone dropped him on his bye week. I guess they missed the part where he had only played one game this season. I was forced to play him against Stanford, who smothered the Army offense. But, this play wasn't for this week. He will be a major cog in my future.  

Week 3 Starters

QB:  It's time for me to finally start my first round draft pick in Carden. In case you missed it, East Carolina nearly beat South Carolina last week and went on to beat Virginia Tech. This week he gets UNC, who has a good defense, but no better than South Carolina or Virginia Tech. The only thing I worry about is a potential let down game. But, if they didn't have a let down game this week after the loss to the Gamecocks, I don't have much fear of it happening. 

RB1: Abdullah had a quiet game, as we spoke about earlier. He is a stud and is playing Miami this week. Miami won't get the kind treatment that Fresno received. Everyone hates the 'Canes. Expect him to carry the rock a lot.

RB2: Storm Woods is coming off a bye week following a weak performance against Hawaii. He notched only 7 points and was held scoreless. But, the Beaver offensive staff obviously wants to get him the ball, as he had 35 yards on 10 rushes and 41 receiving yards. The Beavers are up against San Jose State. Expect him to see the ball 25 times. 

WR1: Malcome Kennedy did some major damage against South Carolina in the opener. Since then, he has had pedestrian numbers against inferior competition. That isn't too surprising, as there is  little need to hone in on a favorite receiver against cup cakes. SMU isn't exactly a powerhouse, but they are an in-state rival. We are getting into the part of the season where breakout players in weeks 1-3 are either covered up, or go on to shine. Kennedy has looked like a legitimate threat in all formats, even on a team that likes to spread the ball around. He is targeted multiple times a game but was held out of the endzone against Rice. That isn't a trend likely to continue. Even if he continues his season long average of 8 points a game, that is worth starting. 

WR2: As we stated, this week is Carden's first week as my starter. That isn't to say that he hasn't earned it, because he has. It was too risky to start him against South Carolina and Virginia Tech. Next up is UNC who doesn't have the defense of either of the aforementioned teams. While Hardy was clearly the preseason lock as Carden's top receiver and looked to be one of the top connections in the country, Cam Worthy exploded last week as Va Tech looked to shut down Hardy. He has 11 receptions on the year for over 300 yards and 1 TD to Hardy's 23 receptions and 270 yards and 2 TDs. Hardy is undoubtedly a more NFL caliber receiver, which will work out in my favor as teams will roll coverage to his side. Remember, even pedestrian yardage is ok with the double up rule. Most importantly, any TD connection between Carden and Worthy is a game breaker. 

Flex: Another start for Dixon. Stanford played Army about like I would expect, holding him to low points. Dixon is a 3 down work horse back. Against Wake Forest, I expect him to post big numbers. 

TE: With Engram on the bye week, I had to go searching for a stand in. What I found was Pharaoh Brown, the TE from Oregon. All I can really say about him is that he is targeted multiple times a game, and usually they are down field throws. I'm not looking for a game breaker out of this guy, but hitting his average of 6.5 points per game would be nice. 

DST: All the good defenses are owned right now. For a 2nd straight week, I am forced to play the matchup game. But, that's ok. As of now, I still don't have anything better than my current D in Oregon. This league doesn't score on yards per game, but on points and takeovers. They play a Washington State team that loves to throw the ball. Yards will pile up and I expect a few scores mixed in. But, sacks and INTs should be plentiful, as Halliday was one of the most sacked QBs on 2013. 

K: I have so much faith in Storm Woods and the Oregon State offense that I am dropping Schewettman from Western Kentucky for the Beavers Owens. Of course, I only do that because the Hilltoppers are on a bye week. He scored me 17 points last week, which is 17 more than 5 of my other players. 

Monday, September 15, 2014

Best SEC Games in Week 4

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Well, let's see how we did last week. Go check out the writeup from last week. 

Arkansas pulled out a big win. I don't know who needed it more, the Hogs or the SEC. 

Missouri did a little more than "doing just enough to win" as I expected. They did get a defensive TD in the 4th quarter that made the game look worse than it really was. Mauk tossed 4 TDs , 2 each to Sasser and Jimmy Hunts. The big key, as we talked about last week, was that UCF can't run the ball. They were held to 58 total rushing yards on 31 carries. 

I thought the Dogs would dominate, as did everyone else outside of Columbia. Heck, even in Columbia there was worry, as I heard on the Finebaum show. I did think enough of OBC to say that he was capable of coaching his way to a win and that USC was one of those teams that storms back after a let down game. I simply didn't think it would be possible if Richt handed Gurley the ball. Guess what? He didn't. On a critical 1st and goal from the 4, Bobo and company decided to do the unthinkable. They threw the ball on 1st down, and were called for intentional grounding. They ran the ball on 2nd from behind the sticks and were forced to throw it on 3rd and long...which was tipped incomplete. Normally reliable kicker Morgan shanked the field goal and the Cocks went on to win.  I don't want to make mistakes for myself, but the coaching was extremely questionable. Gurley had already wracked up 130 yards. I wasn't like they had stonewalled him. But, I digress.

Kentucky put up a huge fight. They had looked explosive and dominate in their 2 cupcake games and the question was if it would translate. I didn't think it would, in the grand scheme, but against Florida? Well, it did...against a skittish looking Gator squad. It took 3 overtimes and a blown call for the Gators to get the win. Is Kentucky that good or Florida that bad? Good news is, we will know after this weekend. 

Tennessee made the Sooners work for it, but in the end it went down exactly how we thought it would. The Vols don't have enough....yet. But they fought hard, as we have seen them do this year, which they hadn't done in some time. North was pretty impressive, going for 67 yards on 6 catches. Worley showed that he can't win games, which is no surprise, as he tossed 2 picks including 1 pick 6. The worst part is, they were both in the endzone. Tennessee moved the ball and those two turnovers broke the game for the Vols. 

So, we ended up 3-1 for the week and 6-4 over all. Pretty pitiful. That's ok. This week will be better. 

Best SEC Games in Week 4

Auburn at Kansas State
We have previewed this game on the blog already. Go check out our predictions. What I will say is....7 point spread. Really? Auburn has covered 13 straight spreads. If I were a betting kind of guy, this is one I would consider. 
Auburn. By more than 7.5

Alabama vs Florida
I'd love to make this my SEC game of the week. But it's not. Why? Because I don't think much of either team. Is it possible that both teams can lose this one? Florida was given a gift last week against Kentucky. KENTUCKY! Driskel is shakey at best. Kelvin Taylor took a backseat this week to Matt Jones who went for 156 yards on 30 carries against Kentucky. The defense doesn't look like what it has been in the past. On the other side is a Bama team that is hard to gauge. Do they have a QB or don't they? To me, Sims is doing a decent job. He isn't doing any more than the previous 2 Championship QBs have done, so I don't know what all the fuss is about. It's like Tide fans want to complain about all the talent on the sideline, but they claim a National Championship every February during NSD.  Face it. You can't have 2 QBs on the field (or can you....) and all 4 running backs at the same time. In fact, Sim's mobility has looked really good (against inferior competition).

What I think should frighten the Tide fans is consistency of inconsistency of the work load for the backs and receivers. Yeldon and Henry are neck and neck with carries (right at 40 for Yeldon and 33 for Henry) and Drake with 18 of his own. I have witnessed a lot of fans who want to  share the carries between the 3. If you listen to the Bama fans, it seems that the guy on the sideline is always the hot hand. They want all 3 guys to have 20 touches a game.  I see the rationale behind that. If you have 3 studs, it makes sense to rotate them and wear a defense out. But, a running back needs to find his groove, and that cannot be done sharing the carries. Consider this: Even though Yeldon and Henry have almost 75 touches between them, they have 3 TDs total. Drake has 4 TDs. That won't sit right with these guys forever. The other thing to consider is the lack of production from the other receivers, which is a function of the play calling. Cooper has 33 catches in 2014, which is almost 4 times the next guy in line. This is by design, as Kiffin's offense is all about getting the ball to the play makers in space. So far, Bama hasn't played a defense that could put even 1 capable defender on Amari Cooper. 

That could change this week. Florida has consistently churned out good defensive backs to the NFL. Honestly, I don't know who it is...but Florida has got to have that receiver capable of keeping up with Cooper.  The key to Cooper's game is making the first defender miss. We have seen that the last two years when he gets the ball in space. What we haven't seen Kiffin do a lot this year is throwing the ball in the flats or off the wheel route to the backs. If he can do this, the Tide offense will break this game open. Florida cannot score from behind. In the end, this will be a premier game to watch, but by year's end, it won't matter. Both of these teams will share 4 losses. Minimum. But someone has to win this one.

SEC Game of the Week

LSU vs Mississippi State

LSU has notched an impressive win against a very good Wisconsin team, but I don't put too much faith in that. Opening weekend games are an anomaly, at least in my opinion. You can't judge a team by their first game, especially one against a premier opponent as they have had months to game plan. But, one thing you must give credit for is the 21 point deficit the Tigers overcame to beat the Badgers. That's not something that you can belittle. State, however, has played a 3 week cupcake walk of games. Prescott hasn't exploded onto the Heisman scene like many thought he would. Yet, he has 9 TD tosses and 2 TD runs. But, he has a completion ratio under 60% against inferior competition. But, we know he can blow up teams by running. Mullen has kept Prescott under tight reigns by limiting him to less than 7 rushes per game. There is zero doubt that he can run against good teams. Even in a loss last year, he managed over 100 yards and a TD. 

LSU looks to be grooming Fournette for the lead back job, having gotten him to 31 total carries, pacing Hilliard who has 41. The two backs have identical averages. Things could turn south in a hurry if they push Fournette. We have seen it many times: a young player trying to do too much, leading to a costly turnover. This should really be a chance to lean on a very good senior running back in Hilliard, who looks to be on pace to eclipse his carries from the last few years. He has never rushed for more than 80 carries and has only 60-70 in 2 of his 3 previous years. He already has as many receptions this year than any other year. I expect him to be the work horse against State. Does LSU have a capable QB? It doesn't really look like it. He has posted 1 game with a completion ratio greater than 60%. I look at his numbers and I don't see a QB who can win the west. 

This isn't the first time that this matchup has looked to be compelling. This year has the makings of a classic. This is the first year in a long time that State hasn't played Auburn early. That game almost always ends in a Dogs loss and is almost always a deflating one going into the game against LSU (2013, 2011, 2010). I think that could be a huge factor in this game. Last year's contest was close for 3 quarters. Real close. Before Mettenberger lit it up in the 4th for 28 points. I look at this game and see a very capable Mississippi State offense against a  typical LSU defense, who has been gashed by teams in the last two years. I see an untested State defense against a seemingly 1 dimensional LSU offense. My heart says State wins it with fantastic play from Prescott and a few turnovers for the LSU offense. My head says "Death Valley."

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Best5Zach's Fantasy College Football Week 3

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Well, we enter week 3 and I am 4-0 for my main account in the two leagues I am participating in. I have a 3rd team, called Ghostman, which is comprised solely on free agents, al la "The Replacements", which would be a better team name, all things considered. 

Week 3 is probably the week that we see the biggest moves in the game. Those draft picks that didn't perform well in week 1 got a pass. If they don't work in week 2, well, it's time to hit the ole dusty trail. 

So, who did well for me last week? Well, in my FBS league, I put up 133 points, which was middle of the pack. Had my opponent done a little better, we would be talking about a different story. 

Here is the post from last week, so you can see who played.

Wallace underperformed, scoring a paltry 22 points. He had only 1 TD toss, made no runs, but did put up 320 passing yards, which is really the only redeeming quality he has shown so far. 

Abdullah had a different game than we are used to seeing. He had under 100 rush yards for the first time that I can remember, but found the endzone once while running. Most importantly, he took a short pass 50 yards for a TD that won the game for the Huskers. But, that put him at 26 points. I will take it. 

Storm Woods continues to be unimpressive and he finds himself on a bye week....and close to being cut loose by yours truly. He managed a anemic 7 points, which you cannot have in a RB2. He is looking more like a flex player at best, since he does catch a lot of balls from the backfield. 

Taylor, the WR from Western Kentucky was a late addition for me, due to his 33 point explosion against Bowling Green in Week 1. It was a gamble and I knew it. He turned in a 1 point week in a losing effort against Illinois. He had 3 catches as opposed to his 12 catches in the previous week. He also finds himself on the bubble. 

Treadwell did manage a TD grab against Boise State in week 1, and I thought he would live up to the fantasy billing. But it appears that Core is becoming the go-to guy for Wallace, probably because of the extra attention Treadwell garners. In week 2, he had 3 receptions for 31 yards. You can't cut a guy who has the ability to dominate a game. More on him later. 

Engram has lived up to every bit of the hype concerning the #1 TE in the game, justifying why I drafted him in the 4th round, which raised some eyebrows. But, it was a strategy that was nearly fool-proof after I drafted Wallace in Round 2. If you KNOW he is guaranteed targets (which few TEs can boast) and you already have his QB, its silly not to take him. He put up 13 points from his 112 yards against Vandy.

Kelvin Taylor was a player that many people had circled as a potential breakout star. He was the lone bright spot at Florida in 2013, but my question regarded his use with a new offensive coordinator on a team with a ton of talent. While he had a great 2013 campaign, it was great because of the lack of anything else in Gainesville. It wasn't like he was a 1,000 back. Quite the opposite. But, I drafted him. Week 1 was a wash...literally....as the game was canceld. I hesitated to start him, or even keep him, with other players who had done something in week 1. But, I kept him and he responded with 68 rush yards and 2 TDs before getting sat. 

Aguayo is the best kicker in the country. He had 13 points. What else is there to say?

Again, many people raised eyebrows when I drafted Auburn's DST, proclaiming it a Homer pick. Well, it was a homer pick because I know something many people don't: They special teams are nearly unrivaled. Case in point, the punt Quan Bray took to the house. And, he isn't the real dangerous weapon.  That would be Grant and Louis. 

So, who is starting this week?

Week 3 Starters

QB: I'm still riding the Wallace train, though I will most certainly be trading him leading into the SEC-West schedule. Ole Miss plays UL-LAf this week. The scary thing is, will he play the whole game? After his slow start as a Heisman candidate, he needs to show that he can put up gaudy numbers. I expect him to play at least a half. Two things could happen: He could have an extremely efficient first half, say 3 TDs and 200 yards passing with 1 rushing TD and get sat. Or, he could struggle in the first half and have to play the second half. While that might mean a lack of passing TDs, that would mean a plethora of yards. This league rewards big passing numbers, so that's ok with me.

RB1: You have to start Abdullah. He is not a player that you can afford to sit on the bench. He plays against Fresno State on a team where Kenny Bell, the only deep threat, is questionable. This looks to be a monster game for him. 

RB2: Driskel continues to look uncomfortable under center, even against inferior competition. Kentucky is up, and while they aren't a great team, they are a much improved team. Their offense looks better than it has since Cobb was on the field. Their defense is....ok. Driskel hasn't proven adept yet, especially against ANY SEC competition. I DO expect him to have a great game, but I also expect Taylor to get a lot of touches. 

WR1: Treadwell has to be getting fed up with the lack of balls getting tossed his way. Freeze is the kind of coach who wants to showcase his weapons. There is no one on UL-LAF that can matchup to a prototypical player like him. He will be in the crosshairs, for sure....but the targets will go up. Remember, because of the double up I get with Wallace, even if he only gets 8-10 points, that is perfectly acceptable. Any TDs on the Wallace/Treadwell hookup are gamebreakers. I mean, it's a minimum of 12 points per TD. 

WR2: Taywan Taylor had a massive week 1 against BGSU. I mean, 12 catches for 185 and a TD. However, he was all but shut out in week 2. Up next is MTSU. These games always feature a lot of points, which is always good for fantasy. If he can't do it against MTSU, it will be time to cut him loose. In the meantime, he is on the bench for a FA pick up in De'Runya Wilson from Miss State. Coming out of high school, he was a huge pickup for the Dogs. He had a decent freshman campaign while playing opposite some very good receivers. So far he has only 6 catches, but has found the endzone on 3 of them. That's a stat you cannot ignore. While it may be an outlier, it's a very good gamble.

FLEX: Speaking of gamble, how about playing an Army RB against Stanford, who is coming off a loss. Yikes! Larry Dixon, the RB from Army has only played 1 week. He was a high draft pick in our league, but I found him available this morning. Why? Well, most likely because he had a bye in week 1 and someone didn't pay attention that he was ranked way down the list because he had only played 1 game. Maybe they are 0-2 and desperate. Who knows? But, there he was...fresh off a 29 point week. And, Stanford hasn't been the best against the rush, giving up 150 yards to the USC back in a loss. Sure, it's a gamble. But even when outmatched, Army runs the ball a lot. 

K: Aguayo is on a bye week. And I did something crazy....I dropped him. SHHHHH. Don't tell anyone. Fact is, there is always a good offensive matchup to exploit. So, I don't feel bad about dropping him. In his place I picked up Schwettman from Western Kentucky, who plays MTSU, as we said earlier. Expect a lot of scoring. 

DST: Auburn is on a bye week. As I said with the kicker, there is always a matchup, so I picked up Oregon. With the speed they always have in the return game, plus the came against a Wyoming team that LOVES to throw, the potential is there to have a lot of turnovers.  Wyoming has found success in the last few years, but not against top competition. The Ducks defense continues to improve and they have the penchant for both holding teams to low scores and getting those TOs. Additionally, with the throwing attack that the Cowboys have, the ability to rack up on sacks during dropbacks is a big plus.  Just be aware that you may not score any points based on limiting scores. This play is solely based on turnovers, sacks and special teams play. 

On the Bench
Terrance Broadway-Ole Miss has a pretty good front 4. While I do believe he is a sneaky play later in the season, week 3 against Ole Miss isn't the time.

Shane Carden-My first round pick and I haven't played him yet. He struggled against South Carolina and he has a Va Tech game this week coming off a HUGE win. Could be good. Could be bad. Not going to chance it. 

Storm Woods-Bye

Pharoh Cooper-After a decent game against TAMU, he hasn't done much of anything and will most likely get dropped soon. UGA certainly isn't a play for anyone.

Malcome Keenedy- He is averaging 13 points a game. But, because there are so many weapons on the TAMU squad, I can't find myself ready to pull the trigger. If he continues to put up good numbers, he will be a Flex at best. 

Monday, September 8, 2014

Best SEC Games in Week 3

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Yeah yeah yeah. I didn't do a Best of Week 2. Why? Well, the only compelling matchup was Ole Miss and Vandy...so...yeah. 

That doesn't mean there weren't games that mattered, just none that I felt like writing about. Just a recap: Everyone won. South Carolina got a scare from ECU, who have one of the best QB/WR combos in Carden/Hardy. UAB put up 34 points on Mississippi State. That's really about it. Oh. And Bama still doesn't have a QB, so my hope that Griffith is named starter is still alive. If Coker or Simms can't do it...maybe he can.

So, let's go back to week 1. You can read about my prognostications here. Eh. On second thought.....don't go read that. Wisconsin blew what seemed to be an insurmountable lead, South Carolina laid a deuce, and Chuckie Keeton needs another Turbin to win. 

So we are 3-3. Let's get back on track, shall we? 

Arkansas at Texas Tech
Talk about a flip-em pick-em game. Who knows who will show up between these two teams? Kingsbury's team sure knows how to throw the ball around. They are 9th in the country in passing, but in the bottom in points allowed....against Central Arkansas and UTEP? Two games in and Webb has 730 yards and 7 TDs passing. But with all those passes comes picks. 2 so far. Expect a few more. One thing I do know...being able to run the ball and control the clock can work wonders against a spread team. Arkansas runs the ball. To. Death. When the Raiders commit to the run, Allen will show that he isn't a bottom rung QB in the SEC by hitting some long balls. That will take the Lubbock crowd out of it early. Webb makes the game look interesting by throwing the ball around. But, inside the 20, bad things will happen. I imagine the Hogs D-line will have a few things to say. 

UCF at Missouri
UCF comes off a bye week after a near miss against a good Penn Sate team. All we learned about the Knights was that they can't run the ball. 2 of their leading 3 rushers have negative numbers. I don't even know how that's possible. Though they played PSU tough, they were able to scheme for a month. They get a week to scheme against a Missouri team that seems to have reloaded despite losing its run game and top pass catchers from 2013. Sasser has come on strong from the wide-out position and the Tigers can still run the ball. Missouri hasn't shown all of its cards yet, and I expect them to show just enough to win. 

Georgia at South Carolina
Though I look at the two games that USC has played and at the impressiveness of the Dogs so far and think this is a tough but manageable game for UGA, I can't help but think about last year. OBC has accomplished what no other USC coach has done with his straight 11 win seasons, but he can't seem to keep from the let down game. But after let down games, just when people write him off, he storms back. Just think about last year after losing to Tennessee. However, Richt had his number last year and he has it again. This USC team doesn't have the talent or identity. The USC defense hasn't stopped a team yet. UGA hasn't been stopped and had an extra week to prepare. The score may not show it, but the Dogs dominate. 

Kentucky at Florida
A new look Kentucky coming to The Swamp. Kentucky has had its share of impressive play so far. The offense has featured several fresh playmakers. The Cats have outscored opponents 79-17 thus far. The only 2 TDs allowed were in 4th quarter garbage time. Florida blanked their week 2 opponent 65-0. You really think this might be a game? Think again. If nothing else, the pride of beating the Cats at home will pull the Gators through. 

Zach's SEC Game of the Week 

Tennessee at Oklahoma
The SEC is NEARLY perfect on non-conference games. If it weren't for that OTHER team from Rocky Top, we would be perfect. UT has outscored non-conference opponents 72-26. Utah State and Arkansas State are two solid programs, so don't be so quick to judge their 2 wins. Arkansas State is very similar to Oklahoma. It features a lot of in-space play from dynamic and speedy receivers. 

Oklahoma has outscored its opponents 100-23 and in an impressive fashion. They have 2 RBs averaging 7.5 yards per carry or better and one of the nation's best receivers in Sterling Shepard. The Sooners have given up only 1 sack. Defensively, I think UT actually stacks up well to the Sooners offense. AJ Johnson is one of the best LBs in the game. He can take over a game, so watch out. His ability to cover from sideline to sideline as well as meeting the ball at the point of attack makes him a game breaker. Arkansas State and Utah State are hard to match up against in space, but UT did it very well. Their D-line has played well, and it will be imperative for them to get pressure on Knight.

The problem with this matchup is the lack of a consistent run game for the Vols. Marlin Lane looked like a viable replacement to Rajion Neal, but he hasn't produced. None of the Vols runners average more than 4 yards per carry. That's probably because the Vols entire offensive line was gutted by graduations. If that weren't enough, Worley isn't the answer for Butch Jones. Tennessee does have a plethora of talent at the receiver position in Pig Howard and Marqueze North. Each of these does something a little different, but does it very well. Heck, Marquez has done me SOLID in 2 different fantasy league. If Worley can get the ball to Howard on short throws or handoffs, it will setup some deeper throws to North.

On paper, UT doesn't seem to have the firepower to win this game, but as we saw with Bama against Oklahoma last year, games aren't played on paper. Tennessee doesn't win this one, but they have the heart to keep it a game to the end. Make no mistake, this team may not have the talent now, but Jones is transforming this program. 

The UGA and USC game may be the game that commands the most attention as far as the SEC championship and playoffs go, but this game should be the most entertaining. 

The Kansas State Preview

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I know the game isn't this week, but I just COULD NOT WAIT to preview this terrific out of conference game, which many pundits have circled as a trap game for the Auburn Tigers. So, even though the game is 10 something days away, I wanted to get a leg up on all the other writers....which would be a first, considering how official they all are....and I am SOOOOO not. We can all dream, right? But I digress. 

So, unless you have been living under a rock, this is a PRIME TIME Thursday night game on ESPN. Expect it to get shoved down your throat just a little less than the whole "This year is the first year of the 4 team playoff" blah blah. 

Both teams enter the contest 2-0 and coming off a bye week. That should make this game very interesting, because, other than bowl games, that NEVER happens. So, who will benefit from the extra scheming time? 

First, let's review the season so far. I admit that I didn't cover the San Jose State game. Why? Because I had better things to do. Like getting my tail waxed at the Spro Frog tournament this past weekend. Nah, truthfully it's because trying to predict such a cupcake game is an exercise in futility, other than saying "Auburn....BIG."  But, you can go read my Arkansas Review, if you like. Or, you can read the following bullet points:
  • CAP is every bit as good as I said he would be
  •  Auburn's defense doesn't show up until halftime
  • We still have no secondary. Still.
  • Pass rush hasn't been very good. We are having to walk the Star, specifically Therezie, into the box. 
  • Special Teams has been outstanding, which is why I drafted them for my Fantasy College Football Team
That's the long and short of it, really.  

So, what about them Wildcats? It's hard to believe that this is the conclusion of a Home and Home series dating back to 2007.  We actually went to that game and had these awesome seats on the 50 on row 1. Turns out, short peeps can't see from Row 1. After all, when you are on the same level as all the football players, none under 6 foot...well....5'3" won't cut it. 

Well, let's look at their stats. They are 2-0, coming off a scary finish at Iowa State. They were losing 20-28 at halftime to the Cyclones, who put up 21 second quarter points. Both were scoreless in the 3rd and the Cats put up 12 points in the 4th to win. 

Truth be told, there were two plays that really kept Iowa State in this game. One was a punt return for a TD and the other was a receiver pass. Though the later was a bit of trickeration, it still counts just as much.Other than that, the Cats didn't give up a ton of yards. They allowed only 319 total yards and came away with a turnover. I think we know what Auburn is capable of, though it must be reiterated that the Arkansas and San Jose State defenses are not the type competition that Kansas State is, so comparing them is a moot point.  Auburn can run the ball, and Kansas State has been able to stuff the run in the past few years. If Coates comes back, the receiving core from AU will be tough to match up against, considering the pure talent. Coaching can only get you so far when you look at receivers vs defensive backs. The biggest question mark will be the accuracy of Marshall, whose last outing was perhaps the worst since the 1st game last year. Though the Cats have statistically been amazing on defense in the past few years, this crew isn't up to snuff, being middle of the road in pretty much every category against bottom of the barrel teams. On the other hand, Auburn is 8th in the nation in points scored and Top 10 in rushing, also against inferior teams. 
Advantage Auburn

On the offensive side of the ball, they rolled up 471 yards and no turnovers behind a very balanced attack. Waters, the KSU QB, rolled up a career best 138 yards and 2 TDs  on the ground, accounting for the majority of the rushing yards while Jones added another 75 yards and 2 TDs on 13 carries. Both averaged very respectable yards per carry (6.9 and 5.8, respectively). As expected, Lockett led the Cats in receiving with 136 yards on 6 catches including a 57 yarder, but no TDs. He continues to be one of the better performing receivers in the country, and far and away the leader on the team as the only legitimate target. Yet, Auburn has struggled mightily against single threat receiver teams in the last few years, specifically FSU's Benjamin, TAMU's Mike Evans, and Alabama's Amari Cooper. It seems they are incapable of matching up in man coverage against premier pass catchers. Additionally, Auburn has struggled with mobile QBs, though they have been able to stop them when it matters, a la Prescott at MSU and Manziel at TAMU. But, that has been the Tiger's MO in the past few years. They are porous between the 20s, but stand tall in the red zone. KSU's waters leads the team in rushing as well, tallying 37 carries..one and a half times the leading back...for 200 yards. He's going to run, and it's going to be up to the Auburn front 7 to stop it. And, that is something that has been a problem. As we stated earlier, the front four pass rush has not been consistent. Much of that has to do with the departure of Ford and the injury to Lawson, but that doesn't offer legitimate excuses when the job has to get done. We all expect big things from Gabe Wright, as we wrote about in "The Wright Time." Now, it's true that much of the opposing offensive lines strategy has been to limit his production. But, it's time for the rest of the front 4 to take up the slack, as we saw Adams start to do this past Saturday in the 2nd half. When you have to play the star in the box, you put a lot of pressure on the back end of the defense, which hasn't been very good. Nearly ever single CB and Safety have given up a major play...some more than 1. With Waters ability to run and Lockett being a home run threat on the outside, Auburn faces a double edged sword. 
Advantage KSU

As far as special teams go, it's obvious that KSU is capable of giving up special teams points, as it showed in Ames this past weekend. Auburn has one of the best all around special teams units. 
Big time advantage to Auburn

Let's break it down. 

1st Quarter
In 2013, Prescott ran amuck through the Auburn defense in the 1st quarter. Both Bo Wallace and Manziel moved the ball at will before tossing up 3 combined INTs. These QBs are all similar to what Waters will offer, specifically Prescott and Wallace. In all 3 of these games, they gave up points in the 1st Quarter. In 2 of the 3, they gave up TDs, though the did record a pick-6 in the 3rd game against Ole Miss. In 2014, they have given up a TD in both games in the 1st Quarter. Kansas State squeezes the line of scrimmage, forcing Marshall to keep the ball or throw it. The trends continue as a scripted first few series for KSU find success in the mixed QB run-pass game. Auburn is able to answer with a heavy dose of the run game. But, Marshall's streak of missing the early big play continues. Instead of a 14-10 lead, they have to punt from midfield during an offensive stall. 
Kansas leads 10-3

2nd Quarter
Kansas finds mixed success in the 2nd after a very good first quarter. Waters finds Lockett and moves the chains deep down the sidelines before stalling and forcing a field goal. Marshall finds a rhythm doing what he does best. He starts keeping the zone reads and picking up yards with his legs or finding Duke on crossing patterns. An impressive drive ensues and one of the Auburn backs takes it in.  I expect that slant and slant and go to Duke to be cleaned up from last week. Marshall hits Duke on one and he takes it to the house. Kansas State puts together a late second quarter drive and hit another field goal.
Auburn leads 17-16

3rd Quarter
It's about time for a kick-off return for a TD. If Auburn takes the opening kickoff of the 2nd half, it goes all the way. Grant or Louis shows off the jets and cashes in. If Kansas State gets the ball, they take advantage of busted coverage and keep a deep ball to connect. THEN Auburn returns the kickoff. The quarter ends with that.
Auburn leads 24-23

4th Quarter
Auburn's depth on the D-line takes over. Kansas State is stonewalled. Auburn adds two lengthy drives while running the ball, which add 14 points. I expect Marshall cashes in on a keeper and a tired KSU defense gets outrun to the corner by Grant on a buck sweep. Don't be surprised if Uzomah doesn't catch one instead of a running play. I can see Marshall hitting the edge and finding a wide open Uzomah. Additionally, the LBs from Kansas aren't versatile enough to stuff the inside zone runs and cover a sneaking Uzomah. Though he may not get a TD, expect him to get some catches at the very least.
Auburn wins 38-23

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Best5Zach's Fantasy Football Week 2

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Well, week 1 is in the books. How did your fantasy team fare? Well, mine was great...and terrible. See, I won my week one matchups (both my real team, and my Ghostman team...more on that later). Except that I had to face my wife in week 1. And, she lost. So, I lost. 

For a rundown on my team, see last weeks post here

I started Bo Wallace. It was a down-to-the-wire decision for me. Ole Miss has been pushing Wallace for Heisman. And, anytime does that, they make sure they put the player in a position to pad the stats. Enter Boise State...not the team of yesteryear, for sure. Despite having Shane Carden, one of the biggest arms in the country, I threw Wallace out there. After all, we couldn't see another Wallace meltdown, right? Well, 3 picks in the first half later and I was starting to sweat. Sure enough, Wallace had an epic 4th quarter and went on to throw 4 TDs and 387 yards, yielding 37 points. What's better is he tossed one to Treadwell, one of my starting receivers. So, the double up worked and it yielded 54 points. 

Despite being the player with "the best offseason on the team", Speed Noil turned out to be a bust in week 1. Impressive, considering his QB went on to torch Johnny Fooseballs records. So, he threw to everyone...but my player. 

Storm Woods proved fruitfull against Portland State. Though he didn't have a rushing TD, he did record 125 yards and cashed in on a pass. 

Abdullah did what he does best. He racked up 232 rushing yards. And...only 1TD. Which, if you recall, was my gripe about him. I don't understand how a player can carry the ball like he does and not get TDs. But, he did get me 33 points. 

Engram, my tight end, recorded 41 yards of receptions and no TDs. But, it's a tight end. You can't keep a guy like him on the bench. 

Auburn's defense game up points, but managed to score their own...recording a pick 6. 

So, what's up this week?

Wallace against Vandy? Yep. 

Abdullah against McNeese? May not play the whole game. And, it's risky just how much he WILL play. It's a gamble I have to take.

Storm Woods against Hawaii? Heck yes. Fantasy football delight in Corvallis! 

Will Florida play this week? We sure hope so! I was hoping to get a good read on how Taylor was going to be used by the revamped Gator offense. I guess Eastern Michigan is a good place to see. 

I drafted a new player who will start this week in Taywan Taylore from Western Kentucky. Why? Well, how does 12 catches for 185 yards and a TD against Bowling Green? Next up? Illinois. It's a gamble, sure. But, I feel good about the Treadwell/Wallace duo against Vandy.

I am sticking with Engram at TE, though I have Auburn's Uzomah...who I feel like will cash in against San Jose State. He was robbed last week against the Hogs. He was in, but Auburn lined up and punched it in before the review. He will develop into a weapon...I'm just not ready to start him quite yet. When Auburn gets into SEC competition...look out.
Auburn against San Jose State. It's risky. San Jose could easily pile up yardage. But, we have seen spread teams blank against SEC competition just as often. Bray/Grant/Co are ready for a special teams TD and the Auburn defense already has a pick six. 

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Fishing Report for Guntersville/Prefishing for Spro Frog Tournament

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I guess this falls under the category of acting before I think. See, when Spro announced the dates for the Spro Frog Tournament, I jumped all over it. Well, kinda. I DID wait for about 2 weeks before rushing my check in. 

As soon as the mailman picked up the envelope, I immediately regretted registering. Why? Does Spro throw a crappy tournament? Not in the slightest. We fished it in 2012 and the setup was fantastic. It's just that we were taken to school. You can read about our coverage on the Spro Frog Tournament 2012 Here

Since registering for it some weeks back (I actually had to register twice, since the first check I wrote, I forgot to sign), I had been keeping up with how the the frog bite was developing. Or not developing, as the case seems to be. The grass hasn't come along like it has in the past years, which really makes it 2 years in a row. 

I hadn't been on Guntersville since my last MFC Tournament, which we had caught over 20 pounds....really deep. So, no help there. So, I really needed to get out there and scout, especially since the tournament is less than a week away. Our kids were in Tuscaloosa for the long holiday, so Alyse and I decide to get out. She was very much against going to Guntersville. She claims she has never had luck on guntersville (which is a lie, and I can prove it....it's just been a LONG LONG time). She wanted to go to Wheeler, where she DOES catch fish...very well. 

But, I needed some intel, so Guntersville it was. 

Against my better judgement, I went to Honeycomb, only because I hadn't fished there is YEARS, it seemed. I have had some success in Honeycomb, as well as the best frog bite day I have ever had. But, Honeycomb creek is a deep creek and matted up grass was hard to come by. In the very back, I was sure I could find grass. Indeed I did....along with 3 other boats. We quickly left. Along one of the banks on the way out, we did find some schooling fish and managed to catch several. Alyse struggled with the frog, but she did manage to find some white bass on her favorite Strike King series 3 crank. At least she didn't get skunked, but Guntersville didn't help its cause, in her book anyway.
Here is her fav:

I really struggled for find any matted grass in honeycomb. When I did, none of the mats were active. I never heard any popping and rarely found bait. But, when I did find bait, I could get a bite or two.

I caught it on one of the Spro Bronzeeye Frogs, which you can find for cheap on Amazon HERE! 

Between the grulling heat and the rain, we cut the day short and headed back home to watch the Tennessee Vols crush Utah State....which really surprised me. I expected Chuckie Keeton, whom I pegged as a Top 20 Fantasy QB to wear the Vols out. Welp. Not this time. 

Anyway, the Spro Tourny is a few short days away....and I am completely clueless of what I will be doing, aside from fighting with the 200 or so other boats all looking for a few grass mats.