Big Ten: fantasy league 13

The final week of our 2013 Big Ten fantasy league was for nothing but pride. And it's Adam who continued to be proud of his Trombone Shorties.

His team whipped my The One Who Knocks 152-115, which was nothing new. The Shorties finished the year on a seven-game winning streak and took the season series 9-5. It's the second straight year Adam has come out on top in our fantasy matchup.

And Braxton Miller, who began the year on my team, was his MVP. He was the top scorer from either side this week, with 46 big fantasy points. The Shorties also got 25 points from Nathan Scheelhaase, 22 from Michigan State's defense and 17 from Cody Latimer.

I bungled the waiver wire last week, killing any chance I might have had to salvage some pride. I dropped Christian Hackenberg, who had a big game against Wisconsin, and picked up Nate Sudfeld, who barely got off the bench against Purdue and scored zero points for my team. My pickup of Wisconsin's defense also backfired as it netted me minus-2 points. Those mistakes were too much to overcome, even as I got 41 points from a rejuvenated Devin Gardner, 28 from fantasy beast Carlos Hyde and 21 from late-season surprise Steve Hull.

So congrats to Adam, who can at least claim the fantasy title while I lord over the picks contest title belt him at dinner Friday night. We'll be back again next year, when I promise not to ever drop Miller if he ends up on my team.
It's all over except the crying. Unfortunately, I'm the one who will be doing the weeping.

Adam clinched the 2013 Big Ten fantasy league title with his 134-126 victory last week. His sixth straight victory gave him an insurmountable 8-5 lead with just one week left.

In retrospect, the season turned when I dropped Braxton Miller early after his knee injury. I thought my team could still win without him, but I was wrong. Miller has been a fantasy stud since his return and put up 40 big points for Adam's Trombone Shorties last week. The top scorer for my The One Who Knocks last week was Steve Hull (!) with 28.

We still have to go through the motions of the final week, as Adam takes his victory lap. I'm just playing for pride.

To the waiver wire:

Brian adds Indiana QB Nate Sudfeld and drops Penn State QB Christian Hackenberg

Rationale: It's never easy figuring out who will get the majority of the snaps at QB for the Hoosiers, but Sudfeld did last week at Ohio State. If he does this week against Purdue, he could put up some nice numbers. Hackenberg will be a hot commodity in next season's fantasy league.

Adam adds Indiana WR Cody Latimer and drops Ohio State WR Devin Smith

Rationale: Smith could have another big play or two against Michigan, but the Wolverines are a lot better on defense than Purdue, and I think Latimer ends his season with a big day in the Bucket game.

Brian adds Purdue's kickers and drops Ohio State's kickers

Rationale: This is simply in keeping with a promise to a mailbag reader earlier this year that I would pick up somebody from Purdue if the season was decided. So welcome aboard, Boilers kickers!

Adam adds Nebraska's kickers and drops Michigan's kickers

Rationale: Pat Smith is getting it done for the Huskers -- and shushing crowds around the Big Ten. Expect another big day for Smith against Iowa in what could turn out to be a field-goal fest.

The Trombone Shorties (Adam)

Ohio State QB Braxton Miller
Illinois QB Nathan Scheelhaase
Nebraska RB Ameer Abdullah
Wisconsin RB James White
Wisconsin WR Jared Abbrederis
Indiana WR Cody Latimer
Nebraska kickers
Michigan State defense

The One Who Knocks (Brian)

Michigan QB Devin Gardner
Indiana QB Nate Sudfeld
Wisconsin RB Melvin Gordon
Ohio State RB Carlos Hyde
Illinois WR Steve Hull
Penn State WR Allen Robinson
Purdue kickers
Wisconsin defense
Last week will go down as the most exciting game in the three-year history of our Big Ten fantasy league. Exciting, of course, being a relative term for such a nerdy endeavor.

Adam's Trombone Shorties nipped my The One Who Knocks 164-163. Yep, you can't get any closer than that. And had Michigan and Northwestern gone into another overtime, I probably would have won.

But the Shorties have become a juggernaut, winning five straight to take a 7-5 season lead. Adam has clinched at least a tie for the year, and I'd have to win each of the final two weeks just to salvage a deadlock.

In Week 12, the Shorties got big performances from Braxton Miller (38 points), Nathan Scheelhaase (31) and James White (26). I had the fantasy monster that was Carlos Hyde for 56 points, while Devin Gardner chipped in 22 thanks to those three overtimes in Iowa City. But it wasn't enough, by one point.

So we're on to the waiver wire, and I need some major help to slow down those Shorties:

Brian adds Illinois WR Steve Hull and drops Michigan WR Jeremy Gallon

Rationale: A reach? Perhaps. But desperate times call for desperate measures. Relying on the Gardner-to-Gallon combo has killed me, and the weather in Iowa City could make passing tough on Saturday. Hull has put up 34 and 16 points the last two weeks as Scheelhaase's new go-to guy, and the Illini should find success against Purdue. Plus, if he does well, I can raise both my arms and shout "Steve Hull!"

Adam adds Ohio State WR Devin Smith and drops Indiana WR Cody Latimer

Rationale: Indiana's offensive struggles last week and the presence of Ohio State cornerback Bradley Roby concern me a bit about Latimer on Saturday. I'm a little torn about which Buckeye receiver to choose, but Smith had a big game last week and should put up nice numbers against Indiana's porous defense.

Brian adds Wisconsin's defense and drops Penn State's defense

Rationale: My strategy of taking whichever defense is playing Purdue has been pretty effective, but I don't really trust the Illinois D. So I'll go with what has been the second-best defense in the conference statistically and take my chances with the Badgers at Minnesota.

Adam adds Michigan's kickers and drops Wisconsin's kickers

Rationale: I'm sliding in to grab Michigan here after last week's wild field-goal try at the end of regulation. The Wolverines might be struggling to score touchdowns, but Brendan Gibbons should have some chances in Saturday's likely field-goal fest in Iowa City.

The Trombone Shorties (Adam)

Ohio State QB Braxton Miller
Illinois QB Nathan Scheelhaase
Nebraska RB Ameer Abdullah
Wisconsin RB James White
Wisconsin WR Jared Abbrederis
Ohio State WR Devin Smith
Michigan kickers
Michigan State defense

The One Who Knocks (Brian)

Michigan QB Devin Gardner
Penn State QB Christian Hackenberg
Wisconsin RB Melvin Gordon
Ohio State RB Carlos Hyde
Illinois WR Steve Hull
Penn State WR Allen Robinson
Ohio State kickers
Wisconsin defense


Rittenberg's on a roll, and I don't know if I can stop the Trombone Shorties train.

His Big Ten fantasy team smoked my The One Who Knocks 144-86 last week. Just last month, I held a 5-2 season edge. After four straight Shorties wins, I trail 6-5, and there are only two weeks left in the season.

[+] EnlargeCarlos Hyde and Braxton Miller
Jonathan Daniel/Getty ImagesBrian Bennett is adding this week Ohio State tailback Carlos Hyde to his Big Ten fantasy team.
Rittenberg was a waiver-wire wizard last week, as Nathan Scheelhaase (36 points), Cody Latimer (36) and David Cobb (22) all came through in big ways, allowing the Shorties to win handily with Braxton Miller on the bench. The disappearance of offense at Penn State and Michigan has killed the Knockers, as Christian Hackenberg (six points last week), Allen Robinson (six), Devin Gardner (11) and Jeremy Gallon (four) have all been major disappointments, while Melvin Gordon (eight) picked a bad time to go cold. Tevin Coleman (33) was a smart pickup for me last week, but it was not nearly enough.

So this is it. I've got to win this week, or the best I can do is tie. And I'm up first on the waiver wire:

Brian adds Ohio State RB Carlos Hyde and drops Indiana RB Tevin Coleman

Rationale: Coleman was great but is likely out with a sprained ankle this week. Hyde comes back off a bye and gets the shoddy Illinois defense to exploit.

Adam adds Michigan State's defense and drops Wisconsin's defense

Rationale: The Spartan Dawgs are rolling, and I'll gladly welcome them back to the Shorties. Even though Nebraska is 5-0 with Tommy Armstrong Jr. as its starting quarterback, the Huskers will have a tough time scoring on Michigan State.

Brian adds Penn State's defense and drops Iowa's defense

Rationale: Penn State's defense has not played well lately, so this is a big gamble. But Purdue is in danger of being shut out every week, and I think the Nittany Lions can earn me some points at home this week.

Adam adds Wisconsin RB James White and drops Minnesota RB David Cobb

Rationale: White has been Wisconsin's best back the past few weeks, and he should have another big day against an Indiana defense that struggles mightily against the run. I'm expecting a few more touchdown dances from White and Gordon.

Brian adds Ohio State's kickers and drop Iowa's kickers

Rationale: Time to change kickers since the Hawkeyes are on a bye. I'll go with the Buckeyes, who I'm pretty sure will at least rack up some extra points this week at Illinois.

Adam adds Wisconsin's kickers and drops Indiana's kickers

Rationale: A shootout is possible in Madison, but Wisconsin has put up ridiculous points totals against Indiana in recent years and should keep the pedal down again. Who let the Jack Russell out?

Our complete rosters for Week 12:

The Trombone Shorties (Adam)

Ohio State QB Braxton Miller
Illinois QB Nathan Scheelhaase
Nebraska RB Ameer Abdullah
Wisconsin RB James White
Wisconsin WR Jared Abbrederis
Indiana WR Cody Latimer
Wisconsin kickers
Michigan State defense

The One Who Knocks (Brian)

Michigan QB Devin Gardner
Penn State QB Christian Hackenberg
Wisconsin RB Melvin Gordon
Ohio State RB Carlos Hyde
Michigan WR Jeremy Gallon
Penn State WR Allen Robinson
Ohio State kickers
Penn State defense
It's November, a time when games get tight and legends are written. In our Big Ten fantasy league that is.

We had an epic showdown last week, with Adam's Trombone Shorties pulling out a 113-102 win over my The One Who Knocks. That's three straight wins for the Shorties, who have now tied up the season standings after 10 weeks. It's going to be a fantastic finish.

The Shorties got 25 points from Braxton Miller and 21 from the Michigan State defense. Jeremy Langford's late 40-yard touchdown against Michigan sealed the deal. I made a mistake in dropping Ameer Abdullah (15 points) for Melvin Gordon (six), which allowed Adam to pick up Abdullah and get those key extra points. Michigan's implosion against Michigan State also robbed me of point potential from Devin Gardner and Jeremy Gallon, though I did get 28 points from Ohio State's shutout of Purdue.

Four weeks to go and we're all knotted up. To the waiver wire:

Brian adds Indiana RB Tevin Coleman and drops Ohio State RB Carlos Hyde

Rationale: Mr. Hyde has a bye week, so I'm going to give Coleman a chance. He has scored at least 13 fantasy points in his last six games, and he faces a very shaky Illinois rush defense on Saturday.

Adam adds Minnesota RB David Cobb and drops Michigan State RB Jeremy Langford

Rationale: Big props to JLang for that late touchdown against Michigan, but the Spartans are off this week. Cobb has been fantastic in Big Ten play and Minnesota's offensive line is rolling right now. Penn State's defense is very suspect, and I expect Cobb to perform well on Saturday at TCF Bank Stadium.

Brian adds Iowa's defense and drops Ohio State's defense

Rationale: Another bye-related Buckeyes move. I'll happily pick up an Iowa defense that's playing well and gets to face a Purdue offense that has been shut out its past two outings.

Adam adds Illinois QB Nathan Scheelhaase and drops Indiana QB Tre Roberson

Rationale: Both quarterbacks in the Illinois-Indiana game should put up big fantasy points, but I can't figure out the Hoosiers' signal-caller situation at this point. Scheelhaase, meanwhile, is clearly Illinois' leader and will take aim at an Indiana defense that still can't stop anybody.

Brian adds Iowa's kickers and drops Northwestern's kickers

Rationale: The Wildcats are on a bye this week, so I'll take Iowa's kickers, who should have plenty of opportunities against Purdue.

Adam adds Indiana WR Cody Latimer and drops Ohio State WR Philly Brown

Rationale: Brown and the Buckeyes are off this week, so I'm once again going to that Illinois-Indiana game for a boost. I've had some bad luck picking which Indiana pass-catcher will break out, but I like what Latimer has been doing lately. He'll score at least one touchdown against the Illini.

Adam adds Wisconsin's defense and drops Michigan State's defense

Rationale: There aren't many great options, other than Iowa, but I love the way the Badgers played last week without Chris Borland. Although BYU's offense provides another test, I think the Badgers will hold up enough and provide some fantasy points.

Adam adds Indiana's kickers and drops Ohio State's kickers

Rationale: I picked Indiana to score 45 points on Saturday, which translates into a nice output from the kickers. Ohio State is off this week, so I'm going back to the expected shootout in Bloomington.

Our complete rosters for Week 11:

The Trombone Shorties (Adam)

Ohio State QB Braxton Miller
Illinois QB Nathan Scheelhaase
Nebraska RB Ameer Abdullah
Minnesota RB David Cobb
Wisconsin WR Jared Abbrederis
Indiana WR Cody Latimer
Indiana kickers
Wisconsin defense

The One Who Knocks (Brian)

Michigan QB Devin Gardner
Penn State QB Christian Hackenberg
Wisconsin RB Melvin Gordon
Indiana RB Tevin Coleman
Michigan WR Jeremy Gallon
Penn State WR Allen Robinson
Iowa kickers
Iowa defense
Game on.

Adam's Trombone Shorties beat my The One Who Knocks 122-79 in our Big Ten fantasy league for his second straight victory. That means I hold a 5-4 lead with five weeks to go. It will be a November to remember, indeed.

Adam got a huge game from Braxton Miller (40 points) and nice showings from Jeremy Langford (22) and the Michigan State defense (18) last week. I got 27 points from Carlos Hyde and 23 from Allen Robinson. But with Devin Gardner on a bye and the Nebraska defense giving me minus-three points, it was too much to overcome.

The good news: No byes to deal with this week. Let's go to the waiver wire:

Brian adds Wisconsin RB Melvin Gordon and drops Nebraska RB Ameer Abdullah

Rationale: It's a tough call with my running backs, as I had Hyde and Abdullah and could roll with that the rest of the season. But I just can't let Gordon go back on Adam's team, and I like Wisconsin's remaining schedule better than Nebraska's from a fantasy perspective.

Adam adds Wisconsin WR Jared Abbrederis and drops Nebraska WR Kenny Bell

Rationale: Nebraska's quarterback situation is a little uncertain this week, and Abbrederis is too valuable to pass up for the stretch run. I think Wisconsin can attack Iowa's secondary.

Brian adds Michigan WR Jeremy Gallon and drops Nebraska WR Quincy Enunwa

Rationale: Enunwa didn't work out for me last week, and while Gallon might have a tough time against Michigan State's Darqueze Dennard and others, I'll bank on him for the rest of the year at wideout

Adam adds Nebraska RB Ameer Abdullah and drops Iowa RB Mark Weisman

Rationale: Abdullah is quietly having an exceptional season, and Northwestern has been vulnerable to the run during its four-game slide. I like Ameer Guapo to have another big game on Saturday. Weisman is a solid back, but his lack of touchdowns make him a so-so fantasy choice.

Brian adds Ohio State's defense and drops Nebraska's defense

Rationale: The Blackshirts dragged my whole team down last week at Minnesota. So I'm moving on and grabbing the Silver Bullets, who get a highly favorable matchup this week at Purdue.

Adam adds Indiana QB Tre Roberson and drops Nebraska QB Taylor Martinez

Rationale: Roberson was fabulous against Michigan and seems to be establishing himself as Indiana's top signal-caller. Although Minnesota's defense has been pretty salty, it hasn't seen an offense as dynamic as Indiana's, especially through the air.

Our complete rosters for Week 10:

The Trombone Shorties (Adam)

Ohio State QB Braxton Miller
Indiana QB Tre Roberson
Nebraska RB Ameer Abdullah
Michigan State RB Jeremy Langford
Wisconsin WR Jared Abbrederis
Ohio State WR Philly Brown
Ohio State kickers
Michigan State defense

The One Who Knocks (Brian)

Michigan QB Devin Gardner
Penn State QB Christian Hackenberg
Wisconsin RB Melvin Gordon
Ohio State RB Carlos Hyde
Michigan WR Jeremy Gallon
Penn State WR Allen Robinson
Northwestern kickers
Ohio State defense
Finally, we had a close game in fantasy. But it didn't go the way I wanted.

After a series of back-and-forth blowouts, our two Big Ten fantasy teams -- Adam's Trombone Shorties and my The One Who Knocks -- played a tight, high-scoring battle in Week 8. Adam's team emerged victorious by a count of 164-140, our closest matchup of the season. The Shorties got 48 points from Jeremy Gallon's record-setting day, 32 from Melvin Gordon and 27 thanks to Michigan State's shutout. I had the week's high scorer, as Devin Gardner put up 54 big points, while James White added 29 and Carlos Hyde 26. But my free agent pickups of Connor Cook and Ohio State's defense (six points each) fizzled and ultimately cost me.

With the win, Adam cut my season lead down to 5-3 with six weeks remaining. It will once again be a busy week on the waiver wire thanks to those daggone double byes. To the free agent heap:

Brian adds Penn State QB Christian Hackenberg and drops Michigan State QB Connor Cook

Rationale: My gambit on taking Cook last week totally backfired, so I'm turning back to the Nittany Lions wunderkind in hopes that he can take advantage of the Ohio State secondary.

Adam adds Nebraska QB Taylor Martinez and drops Indiana QB Nate Sudfeld

Rationale: I recognize the risk here as Martinez might not play much or at all, but I think he returns to the field against Minnesota and puts up some decent numbers against the Gophers.

Brian adds Nebraska RB Ameer Abdullah and drops Wisconsin RB James White

Rationale: With White on a bye, I'm more than happy to pick up the guy who has been the second best back in the Big Ten so far this year.

Adam adds Iowa RB Mark Weisman and drops Wisconsin RB Melvin Gordon

Rationale: Weisman's lack of touchdowns make him a questionable fantasy choice, but there aren't many other options out there at running back. Northwestern has been vulnerable to power backs, and Weisman certainly fits that description.

Brian adds Nebraska's defense and drops Ohio State's defense

Rationale: The Blackshirts paid off big time when I took them against Purdue. Going against a light-scoring Minnesota offense at home should pave the way for another nice scoring day, in theory.

Adam adds Ohio State WR Corey "Philly" Brown and drops Michigan WR Jeremy Gallon

Rationale: I hate to lose Gallon, but he won't get me any points on a bye and I can't concede weeks at this point in the season. Brown has big-play potential and could find room against a vulnerable Penn State secondary.

Brian adds Nebraska WR Quincy Enunwa and drops Wisconsin WR Jared Abbrederis

Rationale: I was going to hold on to Abbrederis, even through the bye week. But since Adam is dropping superstars left and right, I know there will be lots to choose from on the waiver wire next week. So I'll play for now and go with the Huskers wideout who's been a scoring machine this season.

Adam adds Nebraska WR Kenny Bell and drops Michigan TE/WR Devin Funchess

Rationale: Bell has a big game or two left in him, and perhaps this is the week for a breakout performance. He'll benefit big time if Martinez is back on the field.

Brian adds Northwestern's kickers and drops Michigan's kickers

Rationale: Need some new kicks with the Wolverines on a bye. I'll cast my lot with Jeff Budzien, especially since Northwestern has had trouble locating the end zone of late.

Adam adds Ohio State's kickers and drop Michigan State's kickers

Rationale: The Buckeyes score way more than Michigan State does, and while Drew Basil gets limited chances for field goals, he has plenty of extra-point opportunities. I expect another high-scoring performance from Ohio State against Penn State.

Our complete rosters for Week 8:

The Trombone Shorties (Adam)

Ohio State QB Braxton Miller
Nebraska QB Taylor Martinez
Iowa RB Mark Weisman
Michigan State RB Jeremy Langford
Nebraska WR Kenny Bell
Ohio State WR Corey Brown
Ohio State kickers
Michigan State defense

The One Who Knocks (Brian)

Michigan QB Devin Gardner
Penn State QB Christian Hackenberg
Nebraska RB Ameer Abdulla
Ohio State RB Carlos Hyde
Nebraska WR Quincy Enunwa
Penn State WR Allen Robinson
Northwestern kickers
Nebraska defense
The One Who Knocks is knocking on the door of a fantasy championship.

My team made it two in a row and four of the last five over Adam's Trombone Shorties with a decisive 119-79 victory last week. For that, I can thank quarterbacks Christian Hackenberg (30) and Devin Gardner (33) for putting up big point totals in their four-overtime game, as well as my timely pickup of the Nebraska defense, which registered 20 points in a near shutout of Purdue. Those three alone would have been enough to beat Adam's team, which got 23 points from Melvin Gordon and 18 from Ameer Abdullah but not enough anywhere else.

That gives me a 5-2 season edge, and I'm just three more wins from claiming the season championship. But once again, the double bye is making things interesting, so this thing is far from over. On to our Week 8 pickups …

Adam adds Ohio State QB Braxton Miller and drops Northwestern QB Trevor Siemian

Rationale: I need a second-half boost, and so does Miller, who had a big fourth quarter against Northwestern and faces an Iowa defense that still could be vulnerable to a dual-threat quarterback.

Brian adds Ohio State RB Carlos Hyde and drops Penn State RB Zach Zwinak

Rationale: Zwinak wasn't doing much for me and now is on a bye. Hyde will face a tough Iowa defense that hasn't allowed a rushing touchdown, but I'll take my chances with the Buckeyes' workhorse.

Adam adds Michigan State RB Jeremy Langford and drops Nebraska RB Ameer Abdullah

Rationale: Abdullah is off this week, and Lankford faces a Purdue defense that has allowed a league-worst 16 rush touchdowns (four more than any other team). This might not be a long-term move, but Langford has elevated his game for an improving Spartans offense.

Brian adds Wisconsin RB James White and drops Northwestern RB Venric Mark

Rationale: Mark just can't stay healthy, while White could join teammate Gordon in having a big day at Illinois this week.

Adam adds Michigan TE/WR Devin Funchess and drops Northwestern WR Tony Jones

Rationale: Although Jones should improve on his 1-point total from last week against Minnesota, Funchess' production has surged in recent weeks. I like him going against a vulnerable Indiana defense.

Brian adds Michigan State QB Connor Cook and drops Penn State QB Christian Hackenberg

Rationale: Strictly a bye week move here. Going to gamble on Cook against a struggling Purdue defense.

Brian adds Ohio State defense and drops Nebraska's defense

Rationale: The Huskers served me well last week but go back on another bye. I'll take the Buckeyes at home against Iowa and hope for some big plays.

Brian add Michigan's kickers and drops Penn State's kickers

Rationale: Yet another bye week move. I'll bet on a bounce-back from Brendan Gibbons. Should be lots of scoring chances against Indiana.

Our complete rosters for Week 8:

The Trombone Shorties (Adam)

Ohio State QB Braxton Miller
Indiana QB Nate Sudfeld
Wisconsin RB Melvin Gordon
Michigan State RB Jeremy Langford
Michigan WR Jeremy Gallon
Michigan WR/TE Devin Funchess
Michigan State kickers
Michigan State defense

The One Who Knocks (Brian)

Michigan QB Devin Gardner
Michigan State QB Connor Cook
Wisconsin RB James White
Ohio State RB Carlos Hyde
Wisconsin WR Jared Abbrederis
Penn State WR Allen Robinson
Michigan kickers
Ohio State defense
Revenge is so sweet.

After an ugly Week 5 in which Adam's Trombone Shorties embarrassed my The One Who Knocks (and in "Breaking Bad's" season finale weekend, no less) by a score of 132-39, I turned the tables in Week 6 with an almost equally impressive 129-45 victory. I got 37 big points from Carlos Hyde, 30 from Allen Robinson, 25 from Christian Hackenberg and 20 from Devin Gardner. Adam, meanwhile, got no more than 14 from any of his guys and dealt with goose eggs from Mark Weisman and Shane Wynn.

That means I now have a 4-2 season lead. But there's no room to breathe easy, because once again the bye weeks are messing with our rosters. To the waiver wire:

Adam adds Wisconsin RB Melvin Gordon and drops Iowa RB Mark Weisman

Rationale: Weisman gave me nothing last week and is off in Week 7, while Gordon returns from the knee issue that slowed him against Ohio State. He faces a Northwestern defense with some weak spots in the middle, so I expect a big day.

[+] EnlargeJared Abbrederis
Christian Petersen/Getty ImagesAfter a week off, Jared Abbrederis has his sights set on Northwestern.
Brian adds Wisconsin WR Jared Abbrederis and drops Ohio State WR Devin Smith

Rationale: Smith didn't do much for me and now is on a bye. Adam dropped Abbrederis on Wisconsin's bye week, and now I have the two best receivers in the league with him and Penn State's Allen Robinson.

Adam adds Nebraska RB Ameer Abdullah and drops Northwestern RB Venric Mark

Rationale: I loved the way Mark played last week, but he faces a good defensive front seven in Wisconsin. Abdullah, meanwhile, should be able to build on his big performance against Illinois when Nebraska travels to 1-4 Purdue.

Brian adds Nebraska's defense and drops Iowa's defense

Rationale: My gambit of going with Iowa vs. Michigan State sure didn't work and now the Hawkeyes are on a bye. While Nebraska's defense has its problems, it will be going up against a shaky Purdue squad starting a true freshman quarterback. I expect some turnovers and big plays by the Blackshirts.

Adam adds Northwestern QB Trevor Siemian and drops Ohio State QB Braxton Miller

Rationale: Ohio State is off this week, and Siemian showed the ability to attack downfield last Saturday. Wisconsin is vulnerable in the secondary, and I expect to see more of Siemian than Colter at Camp Randall Stadium.

Brian adds Northwestern RB Venric Mark and drops Ohio State RB Carlos Hyde

Rationale: Hyde was a beast last week, but even beasts have byes. I'll bet on Mark having a big game in his absence.

Adam adds Indiana QB Nate Sudfeld and drops Illinois QB Nathan Scheelhaase

Rationale: Did I mention how much I hate all these bye weeks? Ugh. Yes, I realize what Sudfeld is up against, but I also don't think Michigan State has seen an offense quite as dangerous as Indiana's. Sudfeld should be able to make a handful of plays Saturday.

Adam adds Northwestern WR Tony Jones and drops Indiana WR Shane Wynn

Rationale: Wynn provided nada last week, a big surprise. Jones, meanwhile, won't see Bradley Roby out there in Madison. He'll have some big-play chances against a young Wisconsin secondary.

Adam adds Michigan State's kickers and drops Iowa's kickers

Rationale: The Hawkeyes are off this week, and I expect Michigan State to continue its momentum on offense against Indiana at home. The switch to freshman Michael Geiger is paying off so far.

Our complete rosters for Week 7:

The Trombone Shorties (Adam)

Northwestern QB Trevor Siemian
Indiana QB Nate Sudfeld
Wisconsin RB Melvin Gordon
Nebraska RB Ameer Abdullah
Northwestern WR Tony Jones
Michigan WR Jeremy Gallon
Michigan State defense
Michigan State kickers

The One Who Knocks (Brian)

Penn State QB Christian Hackenberg
Michigan QB Devin Gardner
Northwestern RB Venric Mark
Penn State RB Zach Zwinak
Penn State WR Allen Robinson
Wisconsin WR Jared Abbrederis
Penn State kickers
Nebraska defense
Well, that was ugly.

I knew my Big Ten fantasy team, The One Who Knocks, was in for a long Saturday since so many of my previous week's starters were on a bye. But I couldn't envision just how bad it would get.

Adam's Trombone Shorties trounced me 132-39. That is not a typo. He got big days from Nathan Scheelhaase (32 fantasy points), Braxton Miller (31) and Jared Abbrederis (26), all of whom came close to matching my entire team's output. My gamble on picking up Minnesota's Mitch Leidner after his 41-point outburst against San Jose State blew up in my face as he did not even play against Iowa. (And, man, have I been a curse on QBs this year). Even my most reliable stud, Melvin Gordon, got shut down by Ohio State.

I still hold a 3-2 season edge, but this is not trending well. At least many of my players are back in action this week, and I get first pick on the waiver wire.

Brian adds Penn State QB Christian Hackenberg and drops Minnesota QB Mitch Leidner

Rationale: Leidner's not doing me any good on the bench, while Hackenberg will face Indiana's defense. Easy call here, and with Devin Gardner back in action, my QB spot looks pretty solid for Week 6.

Adam adds Northwestern RB Venric Mark and drops Wisconsin RB James White

Rationale: Mark is back to 100 percent and will contribute both as a rusher and a punt returner, where he earned All-America honors last year. Double the fun, double the points.

Brian adds Iowa's defense and drops Illinois' defense

Rationale: The Hawkeyes have been playing very well on defense -- they rank No. 1 in fantasy points in the Big Ten this season -- and they get an underwhelming Michigan State offense at home. Maybe it's a bit of a gamble, but I like Iowa's chances of scoring me some points this week.

Adam adds Michigan State's defense and drops Ohio State's defense

Rationale: Ohio State's defense faces a high-powered Northwestern offense on the road. Although Michigan State also plays on the road and goes against an improved Iowa attack, I expect the Spartan Dawgs to perform as advertised and record a few takeaways.

Brian adds Penn State's kickers and drops Ohio State's kickers

Rationale: The Buckeyes' kickers have been good, but Ohio State doesn't settle for a lot of field goals. Meanwhile, Sam Ficken has been on fire, and Penn State should have plenty of scoring opportunities in Bloomington.

Adam adds Indiana WR Shane Wynn and drops Wisconsin WR Jared Abbrederis

Rationale: This one certainly could cost me, especially after the way No. 4 played last week. But Wynn is a big-play threat against a Penn State defense that struggled against the spread against UCF. I see him having a potentially big game Saturday.

Brian adds Penn State RB Zach Zwinak and drops Wisconsin RB Melvin Gordon

Rationale: Hate to do this, but the bye week killed me last week and I believe in playing for today. If I lose, I'll pick Gordon back up next week. If not, I've got a 4-2 season lead. Yes, I'm talking myself into this. But Zwinak has also been great and has a chance to find the end zone multiple times on Saturday.

Our complete rosters for Week 6:

The Trombone Shorties (Adam)

Ohio State QB Braxton Miller
Illinois QB Nathan Scheelhaase
Iowa RB Mark Weisman
Northwestern RB Venric Mark
Michigan WR Jeremy Gallon
Indiana WR Shane Wynn
Michigan State defense
Iowa kickers

The One Who Knocks (Brian)

Michigan QB Devin Gardner
Penn State QB Christian Hackenberg
Ohio State RB Carlos Hyde
Penn State RB Zach Zwinak
Penn State WR Allen Robinson
Ohio State WR Devin Smith
Penn State kickers
Iowa defense

Tracking our B1G fantasy teams: Week 5

September, 26, 2013
9/26/13
4:00
PM ET
My fantasy team, The One Who Knocks, improved its record to 3-1 over Adam's Trombone Shorties with a 103-76 victory last week. But the news isn't all good.

The double bye is going to wreak havoc this season, starting this week for me. I have exactly one fantasy team member -- Wisconsin's Melvin Gordon -- who has a game this week. So I can either blow up my roster and try to compete this week or all but concede to the Shorties.

Gordon was the high scorer for either team last week with 32 points, while Nebraska's Ameer Abdullah added 23. Adam got 23 points from Ohio State's defense, but none of his position players scored more than Jordan Hall's 14 points.

Some interesting decisions to make on the waiver wire this week. Adam, after another loss, gets first pick:

Adam adds Illinois QB Nathan Scheelhaase and drops Penn State QB Christian Hackenberg

Rationale: Penn State is off this week and Scheelhaase has been putting up huge numbers. Illinois faces two bad defenses the next two weeks -- Miami (Ohio) and Nebraska. Welcome aboard.

Brian adds Ohio State WR Devin Smith and drops Nebraska WR Kenny Bell

Rationale: With the Huskers off -- and Bell not really doing a whole lot in fantasy, anyway -- I'll go with Smith in the hopes that the Buckeyes' home-run hitter can do some damage against a young Wisconsin secondary.

Adam adds Iowa's kickers and drops Northwestern's kickers

Rationale: Jeff Budzien and the Wildcats are off this week before the showdown with Ohio State. Although Iowa's offense clearly has improved, the Hawkeyes still settle for quite a few field goals.

Brian adds Ohio State RB Carlos Hyde and drops Nebraska RB Ameer Abdullah

Rationale: Another bye-week move. Hyde is back from suspension, and I'm hoping Wisconsin experiences some Carlos danger at the goal line this weekend.

Adam adds Wisconsin RB James White and drops Ohio State RB Jordan Hall

Rationale: Hall has been terrific, but Hyde's return and the arrival of Big Ten play make me skeptical that his production will continue. Although White plays alongside Melvin Gordon, he'll continue to get a good chunk of carries. I'm not sure the same holds true for Hall.

Brian adds Minnesota QB Mitch Leidner and drops Indiana QB Nate Sudfeld

Rationale: I doubt Leidner can match last week's 41-point outburst against San Jose State, especially against a good Iowa rush defense. But the Gophers will need him to run the ball, and he could find his way into the end zone a couple of times.

Brian adds Illinois' defense and drops Michigan State's defense

Rationale: I hate to lose the Spartans' D, but they're off this week and the Illini are facing a dreadful Miami (Ohio) offense.

Brian adds Ohio State kickers and drops Nebraska kickers

Rationale: Did I mention that the bye weeks are a killer?

Our complete rosters for Week 5:

The Trombone Shorties (Adam)

Illinois QB Nathan Scheelhaase
Ohio State QB Braxton Miller
Iowa RB Mark Weisman
Wisconsin RB James White
Wisconsin WR Jared Abbrederis
Michigan WR Jeremy Gallon
Ohio State defense
Iowa kickers

The One Who Knocks (Brian)

Michigan QB Devin Gardner
Minnesota QB Mitch Leidner
Wisconsin RB Melvin Gordon
Ohio State RB Carlos Hyde
Penn State WR Allen Robinson
Ohio State WR Devin Smith
Illinois defense
Ohio State kickers

Tracking our B1G fantasy teams: Week 4

September, 19, 2013
9/19/13
5:00
PM ET
My Big Ten fantasy team is The One Who Knocks, not one who will be afraid. So after Adam's team, The Trombone Shorties, delivered a knockout performance in Week 2, the Knockers had to respond. And they did in a big way.

Led by key showings from Michigan's Devin Gardner (33 points), Wisconsin's Melvin Gordon (31) and Penn State's Allen Robinson (20), my team easily outpaced Adam's by a score of 142-107. Gardner continues to be a fantasy stud in a game that for some reason does not penalize quarterbacks for turnovers. Adam got a great weekend from Ohio State's Jordan Hall (36 points), but no one else on his team scored more than 20. His decision to drop Indiana's Nate Sudfeld for Minnesota's Philip Nelson really backfired, as Nelson got hurt early in the game against Western Illinois and Sudfeld racked up 27 points vs. Bowling Green.

So I now have a 2-1 edge in the season standings. The Shorties will get the first pick on the waiver wire as they try to bounce back:

Adam adds Ohio State QB Braxton Miller and drops Minnesota QB Philip Nelson

Rationale: First, it looks like he's playing this week against a weaker opponent. Second, you really think I'm going to pass up Braxton Miller? With all due respect to our guy Kenny G, this was an easy choice.

Brian adds Indiana QB Nate Sudfeld and drops Illinois QB Nathan Scheelhaase

Rationale: I made the risky move of dropping the injured Miller last week, and Scheelhaase gave me 18 points. But I could have won with Miller giving me nothing, so I may regret that all season. Still, I'm happy to pick up the very productive Sudfeld.

Adam adds Penn State QB Christian Hackenberg and drops Nebraska QB Taylor Martinez

Rationale: I don't expect Nebraska to take many or any chances with Taylor Martinez against South Dakota State, and the Huskers are off next week anyway. Hackenberg has consistently put up nice passing numbers and should have a big day against Kent State.

Adam adds Ohio State's defense and drops Minnesota's defense

Rationale: This is all about matchups as Minnesota will be tested by San Jose State quarterback David Fales in a toss-up game. Ohio State, meanwhile, faces an overmatched Florida A&M squad and should force some turnovers.

Our complete rosters for Week 4:

The Trombone Shorties (Adam)

Penn State QB Christian Hackenberg
Ohio State QB Braxton Miller
Iowa RB Mark Weisman
Ohio State RB Jordan Hall
Wisconsin WR Jared Abbrederis
Michigan WR Jeremy Gallon
Ohio State defense
Northwestern kickers

The One Who Knocks (Brian)

Michigan QB Devin Gardner
Indiana QB Nate Sudfeld
Wisconsin RB Melvin Gordon
Nebraska RB Ameer Abdullah
Penn State WR Allen Robinson
Nebraska WR Kenny Bell
Michigan State defense
Nebraska kickers
Adam likes to crow about his narrow victory in our Big Ten fantasy league last season, but order was restored in Week 1 of 2013.

My team, The One Who Knocks, wiped the floor with Adam's Trombone Shorties by a score of 139-93. I had a balanced attack with Devin Gardner (27), Braxton Miller (22) and Melvin Gordon (20) all chipping in with big days. My top scorer, however, was the Michigan State defense, which accounted for a whopping 28 points, thanks to its turnover and sack party versus Western Michigan.

Adam got 25 points from Taylor Martinez and 24 from Jared Abbrederis. But the injuries to Kain Colter and Venric Mark left him with just two total points from the Northwestern duo, and that was too much for him to overcome.

So we move onward to Week 2, with Adam getting the first choice off the waiver wire as he tries to pull even in the standings.

Adam adds Indiana QB Nate Sudfeld and drops Northwestern QB Kain Colter

Rationale: Colter's health remains a big question mark. Sudfeld might not get all the reps against Navy, but he can really stretch the field with Indiana's talented group of receivers.

Brian adds Wisconsin RB James White and drops Nebraska RB Ameer Abdullah

Rationale: I still believe in Abdullah, but Imani Cross might continue to siphon some of his touchdowns. Now I have both White and Melvin Gordon, who ran wild against UMass and should do the same thing vs. Tennessee Tech.

Adam adds Ohio State RB Jordan Hall and drops Northwestern RB Venric Mark

Rationale: Does Hall have another big game left in him after shredding Buffalo? I think so. He'll find the end zone several more times against slumping San Diego State.

Adam adds Wisconsin's defense and drops Ohio State's defense

Rationale: This is mainly a move about matchups, as Wisconsin easily could post another shutout against Tennessee Tech at Camp Randall.

Our complete rosters for Week 2:

The Trombone Shorties (Adam)

Nebraska QB Taylor Martinez
Indiana QB Nate Sudfeld
Iowa RB Mark Weisman
Ohio State RB Jordan Hall
Wisconsin WR Jared Abbrederis
Michigan WR Jeremy Gallon
Wisconsin defense
Northwestern kickers

The One Who Knocks (Brian)

Ohio State QB Braxton Miller
Michigan QB Devin Gardner
Wisconsin RB Melvin Gordon
Wisconsin RB James White
Penn State WR Allen Robinson
Nebraska WR Kenny Bell
Michigan State defense
Nebraska kickers
Some people might say we live a fantasy life by covering Big Ten football for a living. And they'd have a point. But we also like to dabble in some fantasy football around here, going head to head each week in our own two-man Big Ten-centric league. (If you want to play college fantasy football, you can do so through ESPN's College Football Challenge).

We're entering out third year of this league, and we're tied at one championship apiece. Adam escaped last season by winning seven of the 13 head-to-head showdowns (though I like to point out that my team scored more fantasy points on the season). We start with a clean slate in 2013. I get the top pick in our snake draft that we conducted yesterday. (Note: I changed my team name this year to The One Who Knocks in honor of Heisenberg and one of the greatest TV shows ever).

Here are the results of that draft:

Pick 1: Brian selects Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller

[+] EnlargeBraxton Miller
AP Photo/Sam RicheIs Braxton Miller the top fantasy option in the Big Ten this season?
Rationale: This wasn't as big of a no-brainer as it may appear, as I seriously considered Taylor Martinez here. I worry, for fantasy purposes, that Miller may not run as much as last season. But I still expect Ohio State to score in bunches, and Miller will be heavily involved in the fun. No sense in trying to overthink this one.

Pick 2: Adam selects Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez

Rationale: Like Miller, Martinez is a true dual threat who can pile up fantasy points. If he takes another step as a passer, look out for Big Red.

Pick 3: Adam selects Northwestern running back Venric Mark

Rationale: Mark is a big-play threat both as a rusher and as a return man, and he should pile up fantasy points early in the season.

Pick 4: Brian selects Michigan quarterback Devin Gardner

Rationale: I'll take the other one of the "Big Three" QBs to start the year. I'm pegging Gardner for a huge season, and with so much uncertainty at quarterback at other Big Ten schools, I'm making sure to snatch him up now.

Pick 5: Brian selects Penn State wide receiver Allen Robinson

Rationale: It may seem unorthodox to take a receiver before I've selected a running back, but I'm confident that there will be plenty of good running backs in this league. Meanwhile, Robinson is easily the Big Ten's top receiver, and he made life miserable for me last fall while on Adam's team.

Pick 6: Adam selects Wisconsin wide receiver Jared Abbrederis

Rationale: No matter who plays quarterback for the Badgers, No. 4 will be the primary target in the passing game. Abbrederis can stretch defenses and should have a big senior season.

Pick 7: Adam selects Northwestern quarterback Kain Colter

Rationale: Colter and Mark are virtually unstoppable in the zone-read game, and I've got 'em both. Although the passing questions linger with Colter, his running ability makes him good for fantasy points.

Pick 8: Brian selects Nebraska running back Ameer Abdullah

Rationale: It's time to grab a running back, and Abdullah should run wild alongside Martinez early in the season, especially given Nebraska's not-too-taxing early schedule. He might just throw in a special teams score or two as a bonus.

Pick 9: Brian selects Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon

Rationale: A slight gamble here, as Gordon could take a backseat to teammate James White, especially early on. But there should be plenty of opportunities for both, especially in Week 1. And the talent and potential here is too tantalizing to pass on.

Pick 10: Adam selects Iowa running back Mark Weisman

Rationale: Weisman showed last season he can be dominant when healthy, and he'll play behind one of the Big Ten's better offensive lines. AIRBHG, you had better stay away.

Pick 11: Adam selects Michigan wide receiver Jeremy Gallon

Rationale: Gallon's numbers surged late last season with Gardner at quarterback, and he'll be the clear No. 1 option in the passing game as Michigan employs a more traditional pro-set offense this season.

Pick 12: Brian selects Nebraska wide receiver Kenny Bell

Rationale: I strongly considered Indiana's Cody Latimer here, but the danger is that Kofi Hughes, Shane Wynn and other Hoosiers receivers could all split the numbers. Mr. Afro Thunder is the Huskers' obvious top weapon in the passing game and could have a field day against Wyoming.

Pick 13: Brian selects Michigan State's defense

Rationale: The Spartans' elite defense actually wasn't that great in fantasy last season, as low totals in takeaways and sacks prevented it from matching real-life performance. I'm willing to bet that changes this year and will go with the best defense -- at least on paper -- in the Big Ten.

Pick 14: Adam selects Ohio State's defense

Rationale: Michigan State boasts the Big Ten's best defense, but for fantasy purposes, Ohio State's D receives much higher marks. I'm banking on Noah Spence, Adolphus Washington and other young players to step up early and often.

Pick 15: Adam selects Northwestern's kickers

Rationale: Jeff Budzien had only one miss in 2012 -- a 53-yard try at that -- and should be one of the primary contenders for the Lou Groza Award this fall.

Pick 16: Brian selects Nebraska's kickers

Rationale: The Huskers will be breaking in a new placekicker -- Mauro Bondi and Pat Smith are battling it out -- but this program has churned out big-time kickers. And while Big Red might not settle for a lot of field goals on Saturday, I expect to at least get some points on multiple PATs.

Our complete rosters for Week 1:

The Trombone Shorties

Nebraska QB Taylor Martinez
Northwestern QB Kain Colter
Northwestern RB Venric Mark
Iowa RB Mark Weisman
Wisconsin WR Jared Abbrederis
Michigan WR Jeremy Gallon
Ohio State defense
Northwestern kickers

The One Who Knocks

Ohio State QB Braxton Miller
Michigan QB Devin Gardner
Nebraska RB Ameer Abdullah
Wisconsin RB Melvin Gordon
Penn State WR Allen Robinson
Nebraska WR Kenny Bell
Michigan State defense
Nebraska kickers

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