Dolphins' Cameron Wake tears Achilles in loss to Patriots

Miami Dolphins Pro Bowl defensive end Cameron Wake tore his left Achilles tendon during a loss to the undefeated New England Patriots.
Wake may be out for the season. He was on crutches after the game.
“We’ll find out on Cam,” coach Dan Campbell said. “If something happens there, that can hurt us. I don’t know if, what or how long it will be.”
Wake had seven sacks in the past three games.
“I would feel horrible, and I know his teammates would, too, if that’s the case,” Campbell said of losing Wake for the rest of the season. “We’ll see what happens with this. But if you lost a guy like Cam, it would hurt. Not only is he a leader, but he’s a very productive player.”
Follow me on Twitter: @AaronWilson_NFL
Aaron Wilson covers the Texans for The Houston Chronicle.

Breaking Down Memphis Quarterback Paxton Lynch

A player who has stepped up and made a name for himself so far in the 2015 college football season is Memphis quarterback Paxton Lynch. To date he has led Memphis to a perfect 7-0 record and a number 16 ranking.
Lynch is a fourth-year junior and a three-year starter for the Tigers. The former three star player redshirted as a true freshman in 2012 and has been a starter the last three seasons. The thing that stands out about Lynch is that he has shown tremendous improvement in each of the last three seasons.
According to many scouts and agents, Lynch will most likely enter the 2016 draft.
In 2013 he completed 203 of 348 throws for a 58.2% completion percentage, 2056 yards, nine touchdowns and 10 interceptions. In 2014 he went 259 of 413 for 3031 yards, a 62.7% completion percentage, 22 touchdowns and nine interceptions. This year he has completed 174 of 243 passes for a 71.6% completion rate, 2366 yards, 17 touchdowns and only one interception. He has also carried the ball 46 times for 125 yards and two touchdowns.
Lynch is listed as being 6’7″ – 245 but I don’t really think that he is that tall. He looks to be more on the 6’6″ side. He has a lean frame with very good length. If he truly weighs 245, then he can easily add 10 pounds to his upper body as he looks thin and a bit underdeveloped.
For his size, he is a very good athlete. I can say that he may be the most athletic tall quarterback I have ever seen. Most 6’5 or taller quarterbacks are very stationary but that isn’t the case with Lynch. He has quick feet, good speed and a burst. His overall body control is very good.
Lynch plays from mostly a spread formation but he will take some snaps from under center. The Memphis offense is unlike many spread offenses in that they throw the ball down field a lot more than many of the current college spread offenses. That makes his 71% completion percentage that much more impressive.
While there are a lot of half field type plays, you also see Lynch read the entire field and have to go through a progression and make decisions. To date this season, his decision making has been very good. You see him make good reads and he seldom forces throws.
For a tall guy, Lynch has a fairly tight delivery and a quick release. Many tall quarterbacks have a very long delivery and that isn’t the case here. His arm strength is as good as any quarterback in college right now. For the most part he throws a tight catchable ball with very good zip. He shows he can throw on the run going to either his left or right. He can easily make all the throws you want an NFL quarterback to make.
The biggest fault I see in Lynch’s mechanics is that he is very inconsistent with his footwork and staying in balance before his throws. When he sets his feet and steps into a throw he can really zing it with both accuracy and excellent ball placement. When he doesn’t set his feet, the ball can sail on him and he loses some accuracy. You see this both from in the pocket and when he throws on the run.
Lynch shows poise in the pocket and doesn’t seem to rattle. He has a good feel for pass rushers and does a good job stepping up and making a good throw. With his athleticism he can avoid rushers and extend plays with his feet. Memphis uses some read options and Lynch is very effective when running these types of plays. He runs hard, has the ability to change direction on the move and shows a burst to pull away.
As I said in the Connor Cook report, the physical aspect is only half the evaluation process with quarterbacks. His intelligence, leadership and overall football character have a lot to do with the where he will eventually getting drafted. Looking at just the physical, he has the makings of becoming a very good NFL quarterback who has the talent to start early in his career. Like most college quarterbacks he will need some work on his mechanics but the natural tools are there. If he plays the second half of the season like he has the first and the intangibles check out, he will be a very high selection in the draft. In fact it wouldn’t shock me if he was the first quarterback selected. He is way more talented than Blake Bortles was in the 2014 draft.

DFS Corner: Draft Kings Week 8 Plays

Welcome back to yet another week of NFP’s DFS Corner. I hope everyone utilized my advice and plays from last week’s section as I was spot on a lot of plays. I was able to double up my investment this past weekend by having my lineups range from 180-210 points.
Let’s get into this week by looking at the teams on Byes and Vegas’s Top O/U’s for the week
NFL Week 8 Byes: Buffalo Bills, Jacksonville Jaguars, Philadelphia Eagles and Washington Redskins
Vegas Top 5 Total (O/U) for Week 8
53: New England Patriots (-8) vs. Miami Dolphins
50.5: Baltimore Ravens (-3) vs. San Diego Chargers
49.5: New Orleans Saints (+3) vs. New York Giants
48.5: Pittsburgh Steelers (+1.5) vs. Cincinnati Bengals
48: Atlanta Falcons (-7) vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Quarterback Plays:
High Priced Options
Matt Ryan ($7,100) vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be the only high priced QB I target this week besides Tom Brady in Thursday Night Leagues. Despite Ryan’s recent struggles, his price has not changed much on DraftKings. Regardless, I am going with my gut due to a very favorable matchup at home vs. the Bucs. The Bucs just allowed turnover prone Kirk Cousins throw for 305 yards, 3 TDs and 0 interceptions last week and allowed over 4 touchdowns from Blake Bortles the week before. They have given up the second most touchdowns through the air this year with 15, so I am all in on Matt Ryan and Julio Jones righting the ship this week.
Mid Priced Options
Philip Rivers ($6,600) @ Baltimore Ravens will be staple QB play again for me this week as he leads the league in passing TD’s and passing yards so far this year. They are facing a Baltimore Defense that has given up the most points to opposing fantasy QB’s and have been getting torched through the air. While I am always nervous investing too much into a player going across the country for an early 1pm game, Rivers has not been impacted by that throughout his career. The Chargers O Line is a mess, and they have no running game, so I fully expect to see another 40+ pass attempts from Rivers this week.
Cam Newton ($6,800) @ Indianapolis Colts should bounce back this week after a 3 interception game vs. Philly last week. Newton is the entire offense and gets to face the Colts Defense ranked 29th in the NFL. They have given up the 12th most points to opposing fantasy QBs and over 285 passing yards a game. Furthermore, Newton is the main red zone threat as evidenced by his 4 rushing touchdowns over the past 5 games. He should be active on the ground and air and safely reach his value.
Low Priced Options
Matt Stafford ($5,800) @Kansas City Chiefs (London Game) will be a lower priced option to strongly consider this week. After an abysmal start to the year, Stafford has begun to right the ship with over 6 passing touchdowns and 1 interception over the past 2 weeks. I know the Lions just fired their Offensive Coordinator, Joe Lombardi, but I see that as more of a positive as this will allow Stafford to get vertical more. Stafford should easily reach value facing a Chiefs Defense that is currently ranked 23rd against the pass while allowing over roughly 260 passing yards per game. They also have let up over 15 touchdown passes through the air, and I can easily see Stafford throwing for 2 plus touchdowns this week, putting him safely over value.
Alex Smith ($5,000) vs. Detroit Lions will be another low priced streaming option at QB this week. While not for the faint of heart, Smith should have top receiving option Jeremy Maclin back in the lineup after being held out with a concussion last week. Smith gets to face a Lions’ pass defense that is ranked 24th, allowing over 260 yards through the air per game and has given up 12 passing touchdowns on the season. All Smith needs is 200 yards passing and 1 td to reach value, and I will bank on that versus that Detroit secondary all day.
Other Quarterbacks to target: Andy Dalton ($6,000) @ Pittsburgh, Brian Hoyer ($5,300) vs. Tennessee 
Running back Plays
High Priced Options
Devonta Freeman ($8,000) vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers has been the most dominant player in fantasy over the past few weeks and is facing a Bucs’ defense that has given up the third most fantasy points to opposing running backs this season. They are allowing over 108 running yards per game but have steadily improved over the past few weeks due to reemergence of Gerald McCoy. They held the Redskins and Jaguars to a combined 105 rushing yards the past two weeks. Regardless, it’s hard to shy away from the most dominant player in fantasy, but I will say I won’t be playing Freeman in nearly as many lineups as weeks before. I feel like Atlanta should get it done through the air, which Freeman will still benefit from, and he is in a great situation to score TD’s. I just think there are cheaper options that represent better value this week.
Mid Priced Options
Todd Gurley ($6,300) vs. San Francisco 49ers will most likely be in all my lineups again this week. Its crazy that DraftKings still hasnt put him over the $7k mark, but I will gladly continue to take advantage of his price. Gurley has been on an absolute tear receiving well over 70 touches the past 3 weeks. He gets to face a 49ers’ defense that has given up the 5th most points to opposing RB’s and 7 rushing touchdowns over 7 games. Furthermore, the Rams are big favorite which sets up Gurley with a perfect game script for more production.
Justin Forsett ($6,000) vs. San Diego Chargers will be another staple RB play of mine this week. Since Lorenzo Taliaferro was placed on IR, Forsett has been on the field for 80% of the snaps. That is good news as he gets to face a Chargers defense that has given up the most points to opposing backs this year. Furthermore, the Chargers’ defense has given up the second most rushing yards per game this season with over 131 yards given up on the ground to go with 7 rushing touchdowns in 7 games. The matchup and price are there for Forsett to cash in this week.
Doug Martin ($5,500) @ Atlanta Falcons is another “Go” this week as he gets ready to face an Atlanta defense that has allowed the 3rd most points to opposing backs and 10 rushing touchdowns on the season. Martin has been rolling the past 3 weeks, and the Bucs know they must control the clock with the ground game if they want to slow this Atlanta defense down. While I am cautious of this game getting out of hand forcing the Bucs to throw and play catch-up, Martin should still safely reach his value with his meager $5.5k price tag.
Low Priced Options
Charcandrick West ($4,700) vs. Detroit Lions will be a player I roll the dice with this week after breaking out last week to the tune of 110 yards and 1 TD. Knile Davis had only one carry last week, and West took all of the goal line carriers. The Lions have given up 11th most points to opposing backs, but their run defense is 24th in the NFL allowing over 123 yards per game on the ground. They have also given up a league high ten rushing touchdowns. $4.7k for a guy getting 20 plus touches versus a very bad rushing defense is something I will take all day.
Danny Woodhead ($4,500) @ Baltimore Ravens will be in my lineups again this week. The Chargers inept running game has allowed Woodhead to be on the field more this season. He registered 11 catches and 2 receiving touchdowns last week, and I expect him to be highly involved in what should be a high scoring game. While I don’t think he will repeat last week, he is a very safe play to reach 3x value.
Darren McFadden ($3,800) vs. Seattle Seahawks will be a player I flex in some of my cash games this week. While the matchup itself isn’t as appealing as I’d like, anytime you can get a starting running back that catches passes for under $4k it is a steal. Coming off a 152 rushing yard game and just being named the starter, Ill roll with him at his current price point.
Other Running backs to target: Le’Veon Bell ($8,300) vs. Cincinnati, Gio Bernard ($4,800) @ Pittsburgh, Charles Simms ($3,600) @ Atlanta, Chris Johnson ($4,600) @ Cleveland 
Wide Receiver Plays
High Priced Options
Julio Jones ($9,200) vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be my highest owned WR this week as I expect a break out game for Jones, who has been quiet the past few weeks. The Bucs allow the 9th most points to opposing WRs, and Jones will most likely be guarded by Johnathan Banks, who is average at best. As I said earlier, the Bucs have begun to right the ship with regards to their run D, so I fully expect Atlanta to get after in the air.
Keenan Allen ($7,700) @ Baltimore Ravens will be another WR I try to get into as many lineups as possible this week. Not only do I expect this to be a high scoring game, but Allen is the main target in the NFL’s pass-happiest offense. Facing off against a defense that has given up the second most points to opposing WRs this year, Allen should have a field day facing off against Jimmy Smith.
Mid Priced Options
Alshon Jeffrey ($6,400) vs. Minnesota Vikings will be a staple in a lot of my lineups this week. Jeffrey should be well rested and ready to go after a bye and should be in for another high volume game after receiving over 11 targets in his first game back. He gets to face Xavier Rhodes this week, who has struggled shadowing opposing WR #1’s this year and should easily have his way as Calvin Johnson did last week. Jeffrey is great value at his current price.
Martavis Bryant ($5,3oo) vs. Cincinnati Bengals will be a very intriguing play if Big Ben does in fact start. If he doesn’t, disregard this selection. But with Big Ben in the lineup, this Pittsburgh offense can begin operating at full force again, and Bryant should be the beneficiary as Brown receives extra attention. In a division game with two high powered offenses, Bryant is an attractive play at $5.3k.
Low Priced Options
Nate Washington ($3,600) vs. Tennessee Titans was a savior for a lot of teams last week as he racked up the points in garbage time. If Cecil Shorts remains out (which it’s looking like), Washington should be in store for 8 plus targets this week as the Houston Texans have been averaging the most plays per game so far this season. The loss of Foster will only make the Texans more reliant on passing the ball down the field, and the volume should be there. Not to mention, it is also a revenge game, as he gets to face his former team.
Stefon Diggs ($4,800) vs. Chicago Bears will continue to be in my lineups until his price is properly adjusted. Clearly the Vikings #1 WR, the former Terp gets to face a Bears defense that has given up the 7th most points to opposing WRs. Over the past 3 games, Diggs has seen 28 targets and registered 19 catches to go along with 324 yards receiving.
Other Wide Receivers to target: Mike Evans ($6,800) @ Atlanta, Jeremy Maclin ($6,200) vs. Detroit, Eric Decker ($5,300) @ Oakland

My results from one of last week's entries
My results from one of last week’s entries

Tight End Plays
High Priced Options
Rob Gronkowski ($8,000) vs. Miami Dolphins is an easy decision this week. Miami gives up the second most points to opposing Tight Ends and Gronk is no ordinary Tight End. With Dion Lewis’s status up in the air and Edelman struggling with drops due to that hand issue, expect Gronk to be heavily involved tonight.
Medium Priced Options
Tyler Eifert ($5,300) @ Pittsburgh Steelers will be one of my staple tight end plays this week as he gets to face a Steelers defense that gives up the 4th most points to opposing tight ends. He’s tied for second on the team with 9 red zone targets and has converted 6 of them. In a game that is expected to be high scoring, Eifert is a good bet to find the endzone.
Low Priced Options
Ladarius Green ($3,000) @ Baltimore Ravens will be another TE and Flex player I use this week. With Gates likely to sit out, Green should be highly involved and offers a tremendous ceiling given his price range. Green had 9 targets last week in which he caught four passes and a touchdown. His price range and upside is just too much to pass up in this pass heavy offense.
Defenses to Target
St. Louis Rams ($3,200) vs. San Francisco 49ers
Arizona Cardinals ($4,000) vs. Cleveland Browns

Dolphins Face Patriots In Pivotal TNF Divisional Battle

The New England Patriots’ assault on the NFL continues tonight when they host the Miami Dolphins at Gillette Stadium. The Thursday Night Football matchup will be a pivotal AFC East game for the Dolphins, who at 3-3 face the Herculean task of taking down the unbeaten 6-0 Patriots.
The Dolphins head to Foxboro on the heels of a dominant 44-26 win over the Houston Texans last week. That momentum has allowed ticket prices to remain firm on the secondary market, dropping ever-so-slightly before the 8:25 p.m. kick-off. According to TiqIQ the average secondary market price for Patriots vs Dolphins tickets is now $273.25, down 8% from last Saturday’s average of $297.53. If looking just to get past the gates at Gillette tonight, the cheapest available ticket is currently listed for $155.
The Dolphins look to avoid being the Patriots’ latest victim this season and will have their work cut out for them if they hope to keep the game close. Fans still coordinating traveling plans to tonight’s game can find the best deals on flights and hotels on Foxboro hotels on start at $105 per night while Airbnb options can be found for as low as $53 per night.
It has been smooth sailing for Bill Belichick’s Patriots, who made a big statement last week with a 30-23 win over the surging New York Jets at home. At 4-2 the Jets will now need to make up considerable ground and hope the Patriots waver down the stretch if they have any chance of claiming the division. For the time being, however, the Patriots are laying waste to anything and everything in their way.
The Patriots have a favorable record against the Dolphins at home in recent years. Since the 2010 season, the Dolphins have traveled to Foxboro five times and have lost each affair, with three of those games being dropped by 28 points or more. The Dolphins hold the series lead all-time at 52-47-0 dating back to 1966, but the Patriots have lost just once in Foxboro over their last 22 home games, including the playoffs.
Tonight’s game will be a telling one for the Dolphins, who play four of their next five games on the road and three of those coming against divisional opponents. They could very well be buried by Week 10 when they return home to take on the Eagles but could just as well be in the divisional hunt by with a string of wins. Expect a high scoring affair tonight and the train to keep rolling for the Patriots.

SQ Heisman Power Rankings: Sixth Edition

We have a new entry in our top five. Who is it? And who got bumped out? Find out all of this and more in our new edition of Heisman Power Rankings. 

How the Scoring Works 

Each of our SQ writers was asked rank the top five current Heisman contenders from 1-5. This 1-5 ranking was then used as a points system. I tallied up how many points each athlete got and ranked them based upon those points. The lower one’s total, the higher on the rankings.  

For example, if Trevone Boykin receives two second place votes, two first place votes, and a fifth place vote, his total would come out to 11. If Leonard Fournette receives three fifth place votes and a fourth place vote, his total would be 19. Thus Boykin would be higher up on the rankings than Fournette (these are not the actual numbers, just a hypothetical). 

Without further ado, here is the Sixth Edition of the SQ Heisman Power Rankings:

1. Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU, 2 points (unanimous #1)

(Last week: 1)


Derick E. Hingle, USA TODAY Sports27 touches, 152 yards, one touchdown vs. Western Kentucky

183 touches, 1410 total yards, 15 touchdowns this season 

What Our Writers Thought: 

Erik Weiss: Among the monsoon that hit Baton Rouge last Saturday night, Fournette was able to make it rain yet again. Although everyone didn’t even bat an eye at Fournette’s performance against a mediocre defense during an unattractive game, that is exactly what makes Leonard so good. Nobody found anything significant during this game, yet Fournette still managed to go for 150 yards. What’s even better is that it was, statistically, his worst game of the year. When was the last time someone rushed for 150 yards and it was considered a disappointment? The answer to that would be never. Leonard Fournette is on another level right now and nobody has been able to knock him off his pedestal. LSU takes on Bama in two weeks, a perfect chance for Fournette to cement his Heisman legacy.    

Brian Peel: Leonard Fournette is that rare talent that can bore people when he is “held” to 150 yards rushing and a score. The Western Kentucky game probably won’t make his highlight reel when he is accepting the Heisman Trophy in December, but Fournette’s performance certainly didn’t take away votes from his campaign. With 18 yards being his longest run of the day on Saturday, the Hilltoppers did a decent job of limiting Fournette to 5.8 yards per carry, his lowest of the season. On the year, Fournette is still averaging an outstanding 7.7 yards per carry, which is even more ridiculous when considering LSU is not running a wide-open spread attack like you see at Baylor or Ohio State. 

2. Trevone Boykin, QB, TCU, 4 points

(Last week: 2) 


Scott Sewell-USA TODAY Sports

27 of 32, 510 total yards, five touchdowns vs. Iowa State

166 of 250, 2979 total yards, 30 touchdowns, five ints. this season 

What Our Writers Thought: 

Erik Weiss: Just like Fournette, Boykin is on his own level. For those who may be misled by that statement, Boykin in no way is close to knocking Fournette out of number one. On the other hand, nobody else in any way is close to knocking Boykin out of number two. The only way I see Boykin falling out of this spot is if he beats himself. Boykin will finish the season with tough games against West Virginia, Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, and Baylor. Unless Boykin severely underperforms in several of these matchups, he’ll stick at the second spot. Outside of Fournette, Boykin is the most unstoppable player in the nation. The only person who could stop him is Boykin himself, and I just don’t see that happening.  

Brian Peel: With Seth Russell now out for the year, Trevone Boykin stands alone as the only quarterback generating any serious Heisman buzz in 2015. While a few other quarterbacks have better statistics so far this season, Boykin is leading TCU to an undefeated start at 7-0 and a top five ranking. TCU was off this week, but Boykin’s 2,539 yards passing, 25 touchdowns, and 66.4 completion percentage in only seven games are all on pace to blow past last season’s tremendous totals. The meat of TCU’s schedule is still to come starting Nov. 7 when the Horned Frogs travel to Stillwater to take on Oklahoma State, but Boykin should be right behind Fournette come mid-December.

3.  Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State, 6 points

(Last week: 4) 


22 touches, 171 yards, two touchdowns vs. Rutgers

190 touches, 1290 total yards, 13 touchdowns this season 

What Our Writers Thought: 

Erik Weiss: Regardless of the controversy that surrounds the quarterback position for the Buckeyes, Ezekiel Elliott has played extremely well. He’s been the only consistent source of offense for the team throughout the first half of the season. Ohio State might have just had their statement game, the one to silence all critics, when they blew out Rutgers last Saturday. Elliott played a huge role in that win as he contributed 171 total yards. He averaged nearly eight yards every time he touched the ball. Elliott has consistently been able to excel throughout the year and will most likely continue to lead the Buckeye offense even when they figure out the quarterback situation. 

Brian Peel: After weeks of swapping back and forth and inconsistent play, it looks like Ohio State finally settled on J.T. Barrett as their starting quarterback and I’m sure you won’t be hearing any complaints from Ezekiel Elliott about that. The entire Buckeyes team looked much more like the machine they were last season when they blew past Rutgers 49-7 on Saturday and a more stable passing game will only make Elliott better, if that is even possible. With his 142 yards against the Scarlet Knights, Elliott has now rushed for 100 yards in all eight games this season. Elliott is great alright, but there is still a large gap between him and the two front runners. 

4. (tie) Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State, 9 points

(Last week: 2) 

USA Today Images

21 touches, 132 yards, one touchdown vs. Georgia Tech

142 touches, 1218 yards, 12 touchdowns this season 

What Our Writers Thought: 

Erik Weiss: Unfortunately, because Dalvin Cook did not rush for over 200 yards and multiple scores, he ends up falling down the list. Losing to unranked Georgia Tech didn’t help his case either
. The Seminoles will host Syracuse this week, a team which allowed Leonard Fournette to explode for a career high 251 total yards. Cook will need to have a game like that if he wants to keep his Heisman hopes alive. 

Brian Peel: Too little Cook, too little Cook. Dalvin Cook had a rather mediocre performance for his standards Saturday when Georgia Tech held him to 82 yards rushing and only 4.8 yards per carry. Cook did manage 132 all-purpose yards and a score, but maybe the most shocking stat from FSU’s first loss of the season was the fact that Cook only got the ball six times in the second half, perhaps due to a still sore hamstring he tweaked in early October. Cook is undoubtedly one of the best players in the country and a future NFL first round pick, but I’d say his chance at a Heisman in 2015 is all but over. 

4. (tie) Corey Coleman, WR, Baylor 9 points

(Last week: Not Ranked) 

John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

Six catches, 85 yards, two touchdowns vs. Iowa State

47 catches, 962 yards, 18 touchdowns this season

What Our Writers Thought: 

Erik Weiss: Out goes Myles Garrett, and in comes Corey Coleman. Don’t get me wrong, Garrett is the best defender in the country and undoubtedly deserves to be in the Heisman talks. But Corey Coleman is just flat-out better. Coleman knows how to find the end zone better than anyone else in the country. He is currently scoring on 38% of his catches, which is well above anyone else in the nation. Coleman is an elite athlete and thrives through Baylor’s pass-first offense. Hopefully, the loss of Seth Russell doesn’t affect his performance that much. 

Brian Peel: Baylor’s Corey Coleman makes an appearance on the Heisman list because all the guy does is score touchdowns. How many you ask? Well, Coleman might very well break the single season touchdown reception record of 27 held by Louisiana Tech’s Troy Edwards that was set back in 1998. In just seven games, Coleman already has 18 touchdown catches. Coleman found himself in the end zone two more times Saturday against Iowa State, but he will be tested greatly without quarterback Seth Russell the rest of the way. 

Honorable Mentions 

Although you did not see these guys on this week’s list, keep a close eye on them throughout the season for upcoming rankings: 

Derrick Henry, RB, Alabama (Last week: Honorable Mention)


John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

28 touches, 143 yards, two touchdowns vs. Tennessee

188 touches, 1113 yards, 14 touchdowns this season 

Erik Weiss: Last week, I said that Derrick Henry plays best when the spotlight is the brightest. Well, he did it again in a primetime game against Tennessee. Henry went over 100 yards for the fifth time this season and could not be stopped the entire game. Just when Tennessee seemed to have eliminated any championship hopes for the Tide, Derrick Henry comes back and scores the game-winning touchdown in the winding minute. Henry’s next game will come against a young yet stout LSU defense. This game should ultimately determine who will represent the SEC West in the conference title game. More importantly, for our sake at least, is the one-on-one battle Henry will have with Heisman frontrunner Leonard Fournette.  

Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford (Last week: Not Ranked) 

Kirby Lee - USA TODAY Sports

31 touches, 300 total yards, three touchdowns vs. Washington

201 touches, 1818 yards, eight touchdowns this season 

Brian Peel: It isn’t easy to lead the country in all-purpose yards and still be under the radar, but that is exactly what Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey is doing in 2015 with his 1818 total yards. Saturday was another stellar performance for the sophomore when he gashed the Washington Huskies for a total of 300 yards and three touchdowns. What sets apart McCaffrey and all the other Heisman contenders is how he gets the ball in so many different ways. Not only is McCaffrey second in the Pac-12 in rushing yards with 953, he also has 284 yards receiving and 581 yards returning punts and kickoffs. 

Tune in next week for the seventh edition of SQ Heisman Power Rankings!

Bengals clear Vontaze Burfict to practice

The Cincinnati Bengals cleared middle linebacker Vontaze Burfict to resume practicing.
Burfict remains on the physically unable to perform list.
Burfict is coming off a knee injury.
He can be activated anytime in the next three weeks.
A Pro Bowl linebacker, Burfict led the Bengals in tackles in 2012 and 2013.
Follow me on Twitter: @AaronWilson_NFL
Aaron Wilson covers the Texans for The Houston Chronicle.

Breaking Down Michigan State's Connor Cook

Going into the 2015 college football season, the odds on favorite to be the first quarterback taken in the 2016 NFL Draft was Michigan State’s Connor Cook. While that may no longer be the case right now, Cook is still going to be drafted early and he has the physical tools to be a successful NFL quarterback.
Cook is a fifth-year senior and a three-year starter for Michigan State. Over the course of his career, he has attempted 1016 passes, with 590 completions and a completion percentage of just over 58%. He has thrown 64 touchdown passes to just 17 interceptions and this season has thrown 17 TD’s to only two interceptions in 254 passing attempts, which is excellent.
Looking at his numbers, you might not think they are that impressive when you compare them to quarterbacks in spread schemes. You can’t think that way, because Michigan State plays from a run-first NFL style scheme. Since he has been at Michigan State, Cook has never played in those high percentage spread schemes.
Cook will measure at about 6’4″ – 222 with good overall athleticism. While he is not considered a running quarterback, he has good overall athleticism with quick feet. He is not a burner by any means but should run in the high 4.7’s to low 4.8’s at the Combine.
Looking at his mechanics, you can’t find much fault in Cook. He has a tight overhand delivery with a quick release. He plays from both under center and from the shotgun and when under center, he shows a quick setup.
Cook shows poise in the pocket and is able to go through a progression to find the open receiver. He shows the ability to look off a receiver and come back to him after he has gone through his reads. He has a good feel for pass rushers and enough mobility to extend a play if he has to. Cook does a good job reading defenses and for the most part he is a very solid decision maker.
He throws a tight ball and he has very good arm strength. He shows good but not great overall accuracy and ball placement. He is not what I would call a pinpoint passer, but he is way above the “enough” level. While he will force some throws, he is usually very careful and that leads to his low number of interceptions.
Some evaluators don’t like to look at a quarterbacks winning record as being important. That is ludicrous! It is one of the most important stats for a quarterback. How a QB plays and wether or not he wins in big games is huge in the evaluation process. In the last three seasons at Michigan State, Cook has a won/lost record of 32 – 3. That includes a win over Baylor in last year’s Cotton Bowl and a win over Stanford in the Rose Bowl following the 2013 season. In big games, Cook usually plays good football.
When evaluating quarterbacks, the physical aspect is only part of the evaluation process. For a quarterback, the intangibles are at least 50% of the evaluation process. Is the player smart and instinctive? How well does he know and understand the offense? Does he love the game and does he want to become a great player? Is he liked and respected by both his teammates and coaches and is he a leader? Without making a school call and talking to people around the program, I can’t answer those questions.
One thing is fact, he is a fifth-year senior and a three-year starter and he wasn’t elected by his teammates a captain. For a quarterback, that is a red flag! There have also been unsubstantiated reports about his personality and ability to get along with coaches and teammates. Again, I don’t know if they are true or false. Because those questions are out there, team scouts and decision makers will do their due diligence in finding out the right answers. What they find out, will have a big effect as to how high he gets drafted as will the interview process.
On talent alone, Cook has the tools to be drafted high and be a solid NFL quarterback. He has multiple years in a pro- style offense and this will give him a jump on most of the competition. He is much more ready to come in and play than any of the spread quarterbacks.

NFL 2015 Picks Week 8: Expert Analysis and Betting Strategies

To view this week’s free pick analysis in the Green Bay Packers @ Denver Broncos game for 11/1/2015, please sign up.

Picks for every NFL game, including our Play Value Key and Calculator recommendations for optimal bankroll management, access to the Play Analyzer and Halftime pick analysis can be purchased for the week or season in the Shop or by individual game here.

For Week 8 in the NFL, seven picks cover the number more than 57% of the time to be considered “normal” or better plays and a total of 11 of the 13 games feature a playable against-the-spread opinion. Normal or better plays are an undefeated 8-0 (100% ATS and O/U) over the last three weeks with normal or better ATS picks 11-2 (85% ATS) on the season. All playable picks are 49-33 (60% ATS) on the year.

10/26/2015 Highlight: Using the ResultsFinder for the week of October 19-25th, one could find that all “normal” or better (greater than 57% to cover) NFL plays in Week 7 went 2-0, including the Lock of the Week (Jets +9) covering at New England. Normal or better NFL picks are undefeated over the last three weeks (8-0 O/U and and ATS). For the season, all “normal” or better against-the-spread picks in the NFL are 11-2 (85% ATS). Meanwhile, all playable against-the-spread picks in the NFL this year are 49-32 (61% ATS).

In College Football Week 8, the historically very strong “normal” or better over/under picks had one of their best weeks of the season at 6-3 (67% O/U). All-time (since start of 2010 season), normal or better over/under plays in college football have been profitable in over 75% of all weeks.

On the ice, all NHL puck-line plays went 14-11 (57% PL), including going 2-1 (67% PL) on normal puck-line plays. All playable over/under picks topped .500 yet again. Such plays have generated a profit of +$230 for a normal $50 player using play value recommendations just three weeks into the season.

With the NBA starting this week, all-time full season over/under win total picks in the NBA with greater than 57% confidence (“normal” or better) are 31-16 (66% O/U).

Check out the Shop or Individual Picks pages now to learn more.

Retired NFL Players Congress and NFL Sign Historic Deal

This past week, the Retired NFL Players Congress and the NFL were able to finalize a landmark deal. For those of you not familiar with the Retired NFL Players Congress, here is a little background.
They represent the Retired NFL Players and their Widows. It is controlled by and operates for the benefit of same. The Congress works to develop business partnerships that create revenue to serve the needs of Retired Players both collectively and individually. Its aim is to reduce litigation battles and dependence on charity so that they can focus their resources and efforts on identifying new revenue sources for their 18,000+ members. They give the retired players and their family members a voice that has been missing for far too long.
Below are some quotes from the Retired NFL Players Congress Press Release, which can be read in full here.
Greetings Retired/Former Players and Widows:
We are pleased to announce that the Retired NFL Players Congress has entered into a historic apparel licensing  agreement with National Football League Properties, the NFL Player Care Foundation, and JH Design Group on your behalf. This is a profit making venture that the Congress has been working on for the past eighteen months to generate real income for retired players while supporting the many other benefits/programs that are already in place.
Former Executive Director of the NFL Players Association, Eugene Upshaw, properly advised us before his death that he did not work for, or legally represent us. “The bottom line is I don’t work for them,” Upshaw told the Observer. “They don’t hire me and they can’t fire me. They can complain about me all day long. They can have their opinion. But the active players have the vote. That’s who pays my salary.” He went on to compare our value as retired players to “dog food” that no one wanted.  Mr. Upshaw was correct in his first statement. We accepted what he publicly stated and verified the legality of his statement. That is why we went to work filing the necessary legal paperwork to insure that we as retired/former NFL players have a legal entity that does represent us independently and directly. (Retired NFL Players Congress, Inc.)  Upshaw, then Executive Director of the NFL Players Association was wrong, we have found, on the $$$ value that we have  to the NFL and other companies in corporate America who recognize our contribution to the game.
We know retired players need tangible ways to supplement pensions, retirement income and beneficial programs that the Owners already fund and contribute to both directly and indirectly. This innovative NFL licensing initiative is the first in a series of money producing business ventures planned by the retired players and widows of the NFL who are now the Retired NFL Players Congress.
Our aim is to reduce, and ultimately eliminate the seemingly never ending litigation battles and dependence on charity and focus our resources, efforts and energy on identifying new revenue sources for all of our family. We intend to work toward including our unvested 1, 2 and 3 year men into our pension programs.  Another goal is to raise our pension programs to the same level as that of Major League Baseball. The question is not one of whether or not it can be done, it is rather one of what can we do to make that happen. The Congress also plans to purchase various tangible assets that will directly benefit the Congress and its members.
Our goal this year is to fund and institute, with our earnings, the first of two programs for financial assistance to the roughly 70 former players who are 90+ years old and have received less than we believe they are entitled to. We believe this oversight should be addressed immediately and  we have strong support from the League office and some of the team owners. The apparel licensing program is one of thetools that the Players Congress, working with the NFL Player Care Foundation will use to fund improved payouts to these deserving men and their families. This new relationship between the NFL and the Players Congress is an important step in addressing the decades long missing business link between the NFL Owners and retired NFL players collectively.  The Retired NFL Players Congress is “The Missing Link” and it has the support of all of the living men who formed the original NFLPA and the Players Union back in the 1950’s and 1960’s.
Through our new NFL apparel licensing and sales program, which allows us to manufacture and sell an exclusive line of high-end NFL team jackets in leather, wool, and mixed leather and wool, the Congress will provide income, education, training, and other opportunities for NFL alumni. We are partnering with JH Design Group, one of the nation’s leading sportswear apparel manufacturing and licensing companies.
NFL Player Care will help structure the 90+ year old program and some of our other benefit programs so that we can minimize administrative expenses. Initially, revenues may be reduced because we have a limited product line, and we are getting a late start on season sales for 2015. Nevertheless, we are excited at the prospect of becoming an actual business participant in the upcoming 50th Anniversary Super Bowl. We are also confident that with your support and small membership payment, we can grow our licensing program and
expand business relationships and opportunities, in the long term, with others in corporate America…
Read further at
I understand the Players Congress also hopes to improve the current pension program for players that played prior to 1993 to that of Major League Baseball. According to Vice Sports, former MLB Players become eligible for pensions after spending 43 days on the active roster. Once that feat is accomplished, MLB Players are eligible for $34,000 a year pension. Furthermore, former MLB Players are rewarded with a $100,000 a year pension if they play 10-plus years in the Majors. It would take a Pre-1993 NFL player 11 credited seasons to earn the MLB’s 43 day (not game) pension and 30 seasons to earn the $100,000 a year pension. Not to mention, the average NFL player’s tenure is roughly three years compared to the MLB’s 5.5 years.
Furthermore, Vice Sports states that roughly 3,641 former players receive an average monthly pension of $1,656 and 90% of former players also receive $723 a month from the Legacy fund. Those amounts roughly equate to $28,550 dollars a year, which is far less than Major League Baseball players and far harder to obtain.
The Retired NFL Players Congress, which represents retired NFL Players and their widows, will continue to work tirelessly to develop business partnerships that create revenue to serve the needs of the Retired Players.
I hope I was able to shed some light on what a tremendous job this organization is doing and to spread the word to all players, current and retired, in the hopes that they will become members and stand with their brothers who fought for them so long ago.

Sorrow Strikes Again In Stillwater

It started early Saturday morning, during Oklahoma State’s homecoming parade. In broad daylight, among hundreds of fans, a young woman drove her car into a crowd of people alongside the parade.

She killed four people, including a two-year old boy, and injured 47 more. Four victims remain in critical condition.

The homecoming parade, usually a joyous mid-autumn event on college campuses, turned into a tragedy. “America’s Greatest Homecoming Celebration,” as they call it in Stillwater, was anything but.

Police arrested Adacia Avery Chambers at the scene for driving under the influence. She was unscathed, and is currently facing second degree murder charges. 

Oklahoma State considered cancelling their homecoming game against Kansas, but the school went through with the game. The Cowboys won 58-10 in front of 59,486 fans. Head coach Mike Gundy iterated the grandeur of the situation:

We were in football meetings when we found out about it and the first thing you do is you call and find out where your family is. Football all of a sudden doesn’t become very important… There are no words. There’s just nothing you can say. It just has to be the absolute worst thing that can happen to a family and loved ones.

Brody Schmidt - AP

Cowboys players prayed before kickoff, and the stadium joined in with a moment of silence for the victims.

Taking a backseat was the game. The rout was impressive and important – the Cowboys are now ranked #12 and are undefeated. At 7-0, the Big 12 is a toss-up between Oklahoma State and also undefeated TCU and Baylor. But more importantly, the tragedy in Stillwater is the third in recent memory. On January 27, 2001, a small plane crashed in the Colorado Rockies. All ten people aboard perished on impact. Eight of the ten had ties to the Oklahoma State Cowboys Men’s Basketball team: two broadcasters, four coaches, and two players. 

Stillwater was in shock. They placed a memorial, “Remember The Ten,” outside of Gallagher-Iba Arena and people wore bright orange ribbons in memoriam. The plane was taking the Cowboys back from a loss against the Colorado Buffaloes when the pilots lost control in a snowstorm.

It is considered one of the worst days in Oklahoma State history, and it was followed ten years later by another strikingly similar disaster.

On November 17, 2011, a plane crashed near Perryville, Arkansas. All four of the people aboard perished on impact: Oklahoma State Women’s Basketball head coach Kurt Budke, assistant coach Miranda Serna, former State Senator Olin Branstetter and his wife.

Branstetter allegedly lost control of the aircraft, veering it into a ridge of land. There were no signs of inclement weather, malfunctioning equipment, or record of the pilot having a medical condition.

Again, Stillwater was caught in shock. Ryan Wylie, a student at the time, voiced the thoughts of Cowboys everywhere:

Lightning is not supposed to strike twice, but it did.

Context is incredibly important in understanding the emotional turmoil the people of Stillwater, Oklahoma are feeling. Oklahoma State is a proud university that has suffered a third irreconcilable disaster. When Gundy said “Football all of a sudden doesn’t become very important,” he genuinely meant it. A man who has made his living on sport realizes the seriousness of the moment: this is a community that has weathered unimaginable turmoil being literally smacked into by another catastrophe.

And yet, in a different way, football did matter.

Oklahoma State president Burns Hargis chose to play the game in order to “remember the victims at the game.” Just as the Cowboys did a day after the 2011 crash, they played football. The only way to truly heal from tragedy like this is to return to normalcy. For the Cowboys, normalcy is college football in October. 

A lot of us follow sports because they are an escape from the bad things happening in the world – they are games, after all. Oklahoma State has been struck with disaster after disaster after disaster, and yet they keep on playing.

That’s what sports are all about: a way for a community to come together, no matter the circumstance.