You must unlearn what you have learned.
-Yoda

Every year in the NFL, more than any other sports league, trends emerge and fade with each passing season. Whether it be new tweaks to rules that drastically affect the style of play, or new players arriving or being injured that change the face of entire teams and divisions. Week Four is now in the books and this is the perfect time to step back, look at the data we now have, which is finally at a usable, if not completely accurate sample size, and say “What do we know?” Chew on this:

There are two teams, left undefeated in football, both in the NFC North, and one of them is the Detroit Lions.

During the preseason, Ndamukong Suh was fined multiple times for big hits on opposing QBs. There were rumblings that he was turning into a dirty player. But that was our first sign about this team. When you’ve been pushed around like this team has, taken for granted, not taken seriously, it’s not enough to change the personnel, you’ve got to change the culture. On both sides of the ball, Suh, and the defense, have changed the culture. The Lions have successfully left the past in the past, and this team is a real threat to make a Super Bowl run. The offense, led by Matt Stafford and Calvin Johnson is explosive, but everything in Motown starts with the defense. Leading me to my next point…

There are only two elite defenses this year, and only two truly inept offenses.

This is important. Because generally there are about 4 elite defenses for fantasy purposes, and you can usually stream defenses effectively by finding the worst teams in the league and finding and grabbing whoever they face. This year that’s not an option. Who are you planning to pick on? Cincinnati? The same Bengals who jumped the Bills this weekend and have weapons like A.J. Green and Jermaine Gresham? Sure, it’s not a playoff team, but any given week they can hang 30 points on you. Pick on San Francisco? Have fun. I started the Philly “Dream Team” Defense on them and wound up with a nightmare this week. They run the ball down your throat which not only keeps your defense from getting sacks and INTs, but also runs out clock and puts them in position to score. They can put up 14-20 points and keep the turnover column cleaner than most teams. Last year you could pick on the Bills and Lions… good luck there as well. You’re more likely to put up a negative number than win anything against these new look squads. You must have a defense, or this year, even two, that you can trust. And you need to look for matchup problems. Oh, and the two elite defenses and two inept offenses? Baltimore and Detroit, and Kansas City and St. Louis. Finally, and most importantly…

The first four weeks of this season, are also the four weeks with the highest passing yard totals in NFL history.

The league is finally catching on to what New England, Green Bay, Indianapolis, and New Orleans have known for years. New rules affecting pass interference calls and protecting quarterbacks have created an imbalance in the league, and the quickest way to win games is to build a strong pass offense, and then throw, throw, and throw. This is a large reason why defenses have been mediocre and no teams truly look lost. Also, this is why no lead has been safe all year. The Bills just choked away a huge lead to the Bengals, Detroit just stormed back from 21-0 to upend Dallas, and Minnesota has been giving away large leads all season. Teams are passing all day long, and scoring is rampant. As I said earlier, it’s a new league, just as it is most years. Unlearn what you have learned. On to the pickups…

QBs…

Matt Hasselbeck shouldn’t be on anyone’s waiver wire, but if he is, he makes a great grab-and-stash for your bye weeks. Andy Dalton has some excellent matchups coming up, especially in your fantasy playoff weeks, and finally, Jason Campbell makes a great plug-in for you Tony Romo owners headed into the bye week.

WRs…

It’s a great year for receivers as the all out passing has opened up more options than ever for fantasy owners looking for that WR3 or flex play. Eric Decker is simply too good not to continue to produce. He makes a suitable WR2 in some leagues. I have nothing to back this up with, but I believe in the red zone connection between Drew Brees and Robert Meachem. I think with Colston coming back and Lance Moore getting healthy, even if Meachem is still owned in your league, he could be easily snatched away in a low trade offer. I think he continues to be a steady, reliable option. Antonio Brown makes a strong pickup, as the offensive line isn’t creating enough time for the deep balls to Mike Wallace, so especially in PPR leagues I see Brown’s scoring going up in the near future. Finally, run to the wire and put in a bid for Jacoby Jones. Andre Johnson may be out for awhile, and somebody’s got to step up there. Maybe this is finally the year for JJ. A $10 bid wouldn’t be out of the question.

RBs…

All of this weeks options at the ground and pound position are possible beneficiaries of injury or suspension. The running back position after all is about opportunity as much as talent. Isaac Redman is your top pickup of the week, as Mendenhall has been ineffective and is now banged up. Also go after Ryan Torain, since apparently Mike Shanahan saw his name spelled out in his Alpha-Bits cereal Sunday morning. And Deji Karim and Bernard Scott both make great stashes… Mojo Drew will get banged up at some point, especially at the pace he’s being used, and Cedric Benson will be suspended at some point in the near future as soon as his appeal goes through. Even if it’s only for a couple games, (it’s currently set at 3) all a backup can ever ask for is an audition, and Scott will certainly get a long look at that time.

TE…

Ed Dickson hasn’t done much yet, but he seems to always be in Joe Flacco’s cross hairs. Last but not least, Jared Cook finally exploded this week. If a careless owner in your league dumped him after his slow start, and if you need a tight end I suggest you rush to get him. He’s a stud and with Kenny Britt done for the year I think they could simply plug Cook in as their top deep threat.

That’s all for this week hypothetical GM’s. Find that hole on your roster and plug it with one of these guys, or snatch a couple of them up cheap and tuck them away on your bench for a coming bye week or trade bait. The important thing to remember is if there’s a worthless player on your bench, a guy no one would pick up if you dropped him… You’re not fully managing that team. Every bench spot should at least be housing a speculation play. Even if it’s just a backup running back who is waiting for the right injury.

See ya next week with another set of pickups.

1450 The Sports Buzz Hits the Airwaves

The landscape of Sports Talk radio in the Kentuckiana is changing in a big way with the birth of 1450 The Sports Buzz (WQKC Jefferson).

The area’s newest sports talk station will feature entertaining and informative local sports talk, the immensely popular Dan Patrick Show from 9-12 AM, and Yahoo! Sports radio throughout the day. The station will also feature live broadcasts of local high school, NCAA, and NFL games. Southern Indiana and the Louisville area will now have a fresh, innovative source for their sports fix 24 hours a day.

“I am very excited to bring another option to sports fans in the area and thrilled with the possibilities as we embark on this new journey” said owner and general manager Dugan Ryan. “The opportunities we have to offer Kentuckiana are endless.”

The Morning Sports Buzz with Greg Brohm, which has been a staple of the morning lineup at 1080 AM for months, will be moving to the new signal with The Afternoon Buzz presented by Sam Swope from 5-6 PM along with more surprise local programming that will be unveiled in the coming weeks.

The Dan Patrick Show is nationally syndicated through The Premier Radio network and simulcasts live to over 85 million homes on Fox Sports television affiliates. The show is known to to book top-notch guests without taking the company line. 1450 The Sports Buzz will be the area’s only station where “The DP Show” will be available.

Yahoo! Sports radio has made a huge splash nationally since acquiring Sporting News Radio on August 1, 2011. It’s programming features nationally known personalities such as Tim Brando (CBS), Steve Czaban, Travis Rogers, and Sean “The Cablinasian” Pendergast. Their shows cover all national sports and feature big-name coaches, players and media members as guests. Yahoo! Sports is the country’s most-visited website and they expect their journey into radio will have similar results.

1450 the Sports Buzz will also feature “The Joe Morgan Show”, an hour-long interview show where the baseball Hall-of-Famer talks candidly with different guests nightly on an array of sports, not just the national pastime. He will share stories on his playing career and also touch on current events in the world of sports.

Online streaming, smart phone applications, and social media will also be available to listeners to listen to the station anywhere and interact with the hosts. Ability to access these mediums will be announced on 1450 The Sports Buzz. Also, updates will be announced via Twitter (@1450SportsBuzz) and by “liking” 1450 The Sports Buzz on Facebook.

The Kentuckiana area has a new, real option for sports talk in the form of 1450 the Sports Buzz. Adjust your radio dials accordingly.

Any questions can be directed to General Manager Dugan Ryan at 502.419.4744 or Director of Programming Rob Jones at 502.819.0806

swopshire_and_cousins

This article was written by Kelly Patrick, a contributor with KentuckySports.co.

After starting 20 games as a sophomore Jared Swopshire missed all of last season due to a groin injury that took much more time to heal than was originally expected. According to both The Cardinal Connect and the U of L official website Swopshire is now listed as a red-shirt Junior and will be able to play for the Cards for two more full seasons.

During his sophomore season Swopshire proved to have a very valuable and unique skill set while averaging 6.1 rebounds a game (in 25.0 MPG) but also ranking 6th in the BIG EAST at 84% from the free throw line. The only concern is that the Cards seem to be loaded with talent at the PF position with Rakeem Buckles, Chane Behanan, Stephan Van Treese and now two more years of Swopshire. How will the minutes be divided among these four proven contributors? Over the course of a long season in the grueling BIG EAST, having such depth at any position can only be viewed as a positive for the Cards but will undoubtedly result in one of the three starting PFs (Swop,Buckles and Behanan) having less playing time than they might deserve. Having Sophomore Gorgui Dieng and freshman Zach Price as the only two options at the Center position this may mean that Pitino utilizes a smaller lineup depending on the opponent at certain times during the upcoming season, with any of the four power forward options sliding over to play some center.

I think this decision by Rick Pitino is a good sign for the Cards program as a whole as it signifies Rick is convinced Swopshire’s injury is healed enough so that he will contribute over his final two seasons and also it rewards a guy who has stuck with the program during a very frustrating year of sitting on the bench. Jared can provide leadership and also contribute on the floor for two more years in a complex offensive and defensive system which only Kyle Kuric and Swopshire are entering their fourth year of being familiar with.

victor_anderson_in_black_jersey

This article was written by Kelly Patrick, a contributor with KentuckySports.co.

Sorry about the delay in posting my #1 ranked player, I planned on having it finished before the start of the regular season but I will now discuss Victor Anderson who is one of the more popular homegrown stars for the Cards in recent memory.

Victor is a 5-9 188 lb Senior RB who attended St. Xavier high school in Louisville. Victor was rated as a 4 star prospect by scout.com coming out of St. X before he committed to the Cards and Head Coach Steve Kragthorpe on 1/28/2007 He is entering his fifth year as a member of the Cardinal football program and is projected to be the #1 option at running back while Sophomore Jeremy Wright is expected to split the carries as more of an inside, physical presence to compliment Anderson who is more of a shifty multi-faceted offensive threat.

“Vic” still stands as the all-time leading rusher and scorer in the history of St. X football with 4,008 yards and 75 touchdowns. He was namvic_anderson_holding_two_horsesed to numerous prestigious “teams” including the Athlanta Journal-Constitution’s “Top 100- All-Southern team” and the Orlando Sentinel’s “All-Southern team”. Victor originally committed to West Virginia but backed out of that commitment to attend his home town school.

After his red-shirt season Victor went on to win the 2008 BIG EAST freshman of the year after rushing for 1,047 yards and scoring 8 touchdowns. Here is a clip of him taking a Hunter Cantwell pass to the house against Uconn on ESPN during his prolific freshman season. He ranked 5th in the conference in rushing overall and appeared to be poised to be the Cards #1 RB for years to come before suffering a shoulder-injury which limited him to 8 games during the 2009 season . The emergence of Bilal Powell as the team’s offensive workhorse in 2010 resulted in Victor being the Cards third leading rusher (behind Powell and Freshman RB Jeremy Wright) with only a total of 286 yards rushing and 61 yards receiving on the season.

Victor has become quite the popular personality within the city of Louisville after an interview with Drew Deener and an article by ESPN BIG EAST blogger Andrea Adelson about his summer job at Longfield farm where he helps to take care of Horses and do other farming related activities. Anderson says he plans on owning a horse farm once his football playing days are behind him and enjoys all the time he was able to spend around the horses over the summer. “I love being around horses,” said Victor Anderson. “They are such beautiful animals. Being able to watch them at my job has been a great experience.”

Louisville fans everywhere are looking forward to Victor bookending his Cardinal career with a strong senior season. After leading the Cards in all purpose yards with 84 yards (61 rushing and 23 receiving) and a rushing TD during the Cards opening day victory over Murray State University, Victor appears to be well on his way to completing his stay in the City as one of the greatest homegrown players of all-time to stay at home and star for the Cards.

DT

This article was written by Tyler Bloyd, a contributor with KentuckySports.co.

 

We are finally at the end to what has been a fun and interesting countdown, this one of course being the Top Ten Kentucky players according to NCAA Football 2012 and we sit with one player left to profile. This guy came to Kentucky from Leesburg, FL, or Gator Country, the #1 rated guy on the roster, #22 Danny Trevathan. He has been one of the better defensive players to come through Lexington over the years, following in the foot steps of Wesley Woodyard, Micah Johnson and Braxton Kelly to name a few as he has helped his Wildcats each season. But before he could star for UK, he helped his high school team to the Florida state playoffs three straight seasons, playing both sides of the ball as the quarterback and running back on offense, and of course his best position of linebacker. He totaled 117 tackles, 17 for a loss, 5.5 sacks and 2 fumble recoveries and one of those returned for a touchdown. He was named to the 3rd Team All-State by the Florida Sportswriters Association and named as the areas defensive player of the year according to the Leesburg Daily Commercial.

Moving into Lexington and his freshman season, Trevathan was able to see the field during all 13 games, mainly on Special Teams, bringing in five tackles and a big blocked kicked against Georgia to set up a touchdown. His sophomore year brought on a much larger roll for UK, again playing in all 13 games, but this time starting 6 of them. He ended the season with 82 tackles, second on the team, and 14 of those coming against Auburn and eight against Clemson in the Music City Bowl, along with a forced fumble. DT2

2010 came along, Trevathans’ third year on campus where he started every game for the Wildcats earning First Team All-America Honors from CollegeFootballNews.com, as well as first team All-SEC according to multiple outlets. He finished the season leading the conference and team in tackles with 144, an average of 11.1 per game, also forced four fumbles which was 2nd in the SEC. He set a career high in tackles against Auburn once again when bringing down 17 tigers.

Go Cats!!!

hakeem_smith_with_pink_bandana

This article was written by Kelly Patrick, a contributor with KentuckySports.co.

Hakeem Smith is a Sophomore Safety out of Riverdale High School in Jonesboro, Georgia which is about half an hour South of Atlanta. Hakeem wears jersey #29 is 6 ft 1 and weights 185 lbs. Hakeem played both Wide Receiver and Safety for Riverdale High School and was rated as a two star prospect by Rivals.com and also earned the Scholar-Athlete Award.

Smith was recruited by former Cardinals defensive coordinator Ron English and described his decision to become a Cardinal back in 2008: “It was the visit that did it,” Hakeem Smith said. “I explored the campus and stadium. We took a tour around to see the dorms and the weight-room. We talked with the academic advisors. It’s really a great campus. I love Louisville.”

After red-shirting the 2009 season Ha keem went on to truly shine during his freshman season which happened to be Charlie Strong’s first season with the Cards. Smith was named the BIG EAST Conference Rookie of the Year while also earning a second team All-BIG EAST   Selection. Smith started 1 2 of 13 games (including the Bowl victory) and led the team in tackles with 88 while also recording 1 sack, 6 tackles for a loss and a forced fumble.

After Head Coach Charlie Strong has came out and said “The strength of our football team should be our defense”, it is obvious he is expecting a big season from Smith who is the star of the defense. Smith’s presence will be especially valuable in a defensive secondary that will be starting two un-proven cornerbacks in Senior Anthony Conner (missed last season due to an ACL injury) and redshirt freshman Jordan Paschal. The other safety hakeem_smith_smilingspot will be filled by fellow sophomore Shenard Holton.

 

The strength of the defense is projected by most to be the defensive line with impact players such as Marcus Smith, BJ Dubose, William Savoy, Roy Philon and Greg Scruggs. When asked if the lack of experience in the defensive secondary will reduce how aggressive the defensive scheme will be Strong said “We’re a pressure defense. And we’re not going to back down and we’re not going to back away. We’re going to always play man coverage and we’re going to pressure people. Now it’s just how good can we be outside”. Strong obviously agrees with the uncertainty of the CB position and feels it’s a large determining factor as to how good this defense can be.

One thing Strong doesn’t have to worry about (barring any injuries) is either of the starting safety spots with both Hakeem Smith and Shenard Holton returning after very impressive red-shirt freshman campaigns there will be stability and production from the middle of the defensive backfield.

wgjr3

This article was written by Tyler Bloyd, a contributor with KentuckySports.co.

This time we get away from the special teams unit which seemed to be a hot topic, and move to the #2 guy on the list and Lexington product, #21 Winston Guy Jr. Guy stands at 6’1, 216lbs and has been apart of the roster his entire career, but before he could suit up for the Wildcats he was helping his Lexington Catholic HS squad to the AAAA State Championship. He played both sides of the ball, where he was named First Team All-State Defensive Back by the Associated Press & the Courier-Journal after accumulating 75 tackles, 18.5 of those for a loss and 7.5 of them coming as a quarterback sack.

His first season with UK(2008), Guy saw the field in all 13 games, becoming the team’s primary kickoff returner after former running back Derrick Locke went down to injury. He averaged 29.1 yards out of his 10 returns, one of them coming as a school record for the longest return in history with a non-scoring result, he took that for 96 yards against Georgia and he also totalled up 11 tackles during special team assignments. WGjr

Sophomore season came along and it was again the same result, seeing the field in all 13 games, this time starting 11 of those games. He set a career high in tackles, 11 coming in the win against Louisville and totalled 60 for the season, along with a 14.5 yard average per return.

Moving into his Junior year, Guy was awarded the full-time starting roll and proving on the field thar he deserved it. Came in second on the team in total tackles with 106, which also placed him third in tackles per game in the SEC out of all defensive backs. He also led the Cats in interceptions withs three and set new tackling career highs in back-to-back games against Charleston Southern with 16 and then filling up the stat sheet with 18 against Vanderbilt and later being named to the 2nd Team All-SEC according to CollegeFootballNews.com and made PhilSteele’s College Football 4th Team SEC.

Now with only a week away from football, Guy has been moved to a hybrid safety/linebacker position where he quickly adapted to the new role and showcased his athletic ability and skills on the field and will be returning the kicks again as well, so let’s all hope for multiple kick return touchdowns and unlimited interceptions from our man!