Big Ten: Kenny Bell

Another week, another change in our standings.

Austin Ward is in second and I've dropped to third after my trade (Mark Weisman and Tommy Armstrong for Tevin Coleman) didn't go quite as well as I had hoped. It's still a tight race for the top three.

Your results this week:

The Trombone Shorties (Adam Rittenberg): 143
Massive Attack (Austin Ward): 120
Coal Crackers (Josh Moyer): 90
Legendary Leaders (Brian Bennett): 76
Sherman Tanks (Mitch Sherman): 59

And the overall standings:

The Trombone Shorties: 986
Massive Attack: 934
Coal Crackers: 931
Legendary Leaders: 796
Sherman Tanks: 644

Waiver-wire: We've had more than 20 waiver-wire moves in each of the last two weeks, so it was a nice reprieve this week. Four Big Ten teams have byes Saturday, but none is loaded with fantasy players: Indiana, Purdue, Iowa, Northwestern. So we had half as many moves as a result.

Sherman adds Wisconsin RB Corey Clement and drops Purdue RB Akeem Hunt

Bennett adds Rutgers RB Desmon Peoples and drops Maryland QB Caleb Rowe

Moyer adds Michigan QB Devin Gardner and drops Northwestern QB Trevor Siemian

Ward adds Penn State WR DaeSean Hamilton and drops Ohio State TE Jeff Heuerman

Rittenberg adds Illinois QB Reilly O'Toole and drops Purdue QB Austin Appleby

Sherman adds Illinois WR Geronimo Allison and drops Iowa WR Kevonte Martin-Manley

Bennett adds Wisconsin defense and drops Minnesota defense

Moyer adds Michigan State RB Nick Hill and drops Maryland RB Brandon Ross

Ward adds Wisconsin QB Tanner McEvoy, drops Ohio State RB Rod Smith

Rittenberg adds Maryland RB Wes Brown, drops Indiana WR Shane Wynn

Rittenberg adds Minnesota defense and drops Northwestern defense

The Trombone Shorties (Rittenberg)

Illinois QB Reilly O'Toole
Michigan State QB Connor Cook
Nebraska RB Ameer Abdullah
Maryland RB Wes Brown
Rutgers WR Leonte Carroo
Michigan WR Devin Funchess
Maryland kickers
Minnesota defense
Bench: Northwestern RB Justin Jackson (on bye)

Massive Attack (Ward)

Wisconsin QB Tanner McEvoy
Ohio State QB J.T. Barrett
Illinois RB Josh Ferguson
Minnesota RB David Cobb
Ohio State WR Michael Thomas
Penn State WR DaeSean Hamilton
Rutgers kickers
Nebraska defense
Bench: Iowa QB Jake Rudock (on bye)

Coal Crackers (Moyer)

Minnesota QB Mitch Leidner
Michigan QB Devin Gardner
Wisconsin RB Melvin Gordon
Michigan State RB Nick Hill
Maryland WR Stefon Diggs
Nebraska WR Jordan Westerkamp
Michigan State kickers
Michigan State defense
Bench: Indiana RB Tevin Coleman (on bye)

Legendary Leaders (Bennett)

Nebraska QB Tommy Armstrong
Wisconsin QB Joel Stave
Rutgers RB Desmon Peoples
Ohio State RB Ezekiel Elliott
Nebraska WR Kenny Bell
Ohio State WR Devin Smith
Ohio State kickers
Wisconsin defense
Bench: Iowa RB Mark Weisman (on bye)

Sherman Tanks (Sherman)

Maryland QB C.J. Brown
Penn State QB Christian Hackenberg
Wisconsin RB Corey Clement
Michigan State RB Jeremy Langford
Illinois WR Geronimo Allison
Michigan State WR Tony Lippett
Nebraska kickers
Ohio State defense
Bench: Rutgers QB Gary Nova (at Nebraska)

Big Ten morning links

October, 20, 2014
Oct 20
8:00
AM ET
video
Good morning. A few thoughts before we get to the links:

1. Quarterback J.T. Barrett is receiving loads of attention as Ohio State continues its incredible offensive surge. And rightly so, because Barrett's numbers (20 total touchdowns, five interceptions, 65.2 percent completion rate) are astounding. He has the highest ESPN QBR score in the country since Sept. 6, the date of the Buckeyes' loss to Virginia Tech.

But let's not forget the improvement of Ohio State's offensive line. The young group with four new starters looked like a liability in the first couple of games. Since then, it has become a source of strength. The Buckeyes allowed no sacks on Saturday against Rutgers, whose defense came into the game leading the Big Ten in that category. The Scarlet Knights only had two tackles for loss and just one quarterback hurry. Ed Warriner's group showed similar dominance against Maryland, whose defensive front caused Iowa's offensive line all kinds of problems on Saturday.

Urban Meyer had his players give the assistant coaches a standing ovation after the Rutgers win. It's hard to tell just how good the Buckeyes are right now, Bob Hunter writes. But they look pretty darn good.

2. As great as Ameer Abdullah is, I thought Nebraska needed one more weapon to take its offense to a truly elite level. The Huskers might have found that extra option on Saturday at Northwestern.

De'Mornay Pierson-El, who to this point had done most of his damage on punt returns, had three catches and even threw a touchdown pass to Tommy Armstrong Jr., evoking memories of a famous trick play from Nebraska's past. The speedy true freshman gives Armstrong another target along with Kenny Bell and Jordan Westerkamp. The Huskers were dominant offensively in the second half against a pretty good Northwestern defense, and Pierson-El was a big reason why.

"De’Mornay and Ameer and Kenny, when does it end?” offensive coordinator Tim Beck told the Omaha World-Herald. “You want those guys on the field, because now you've got to guard them all.”

3. Indiana just can't seem to sustain any kind of positive momentum. The Hoosiers were a trendy pick to make a bowl this season, especially after winning at Missouri on Sept. 20.

But since then, Kevin Wilson's team has gone just 1-3 (with the lone win over North Texas). And as IU showed in Saturday's 56-17 loss to Michigan State, it's highly doubtful that there is another win left on the schedule.

True freshman quarterback Zander Diamont clearly isn't ready, as his 5-for-15, 11-yard performance vs. the Spartans confirmed. He should be redshirting, but season-ending injuries to Nate Sudfeld and Chris Covington thrust him into action. Even with Tevin Coleman having a season for the ages, the Hoosiers don't have much of a chance without a passing attack and with a defense that can't win Big Ten games on its own. There's much to like about the young talent Wilson has brought to Bloomington, but Indiana continues to be stuck in program quicksand. The last five games will test the resolve of Wilson and his players.

West Division
East Division
And finally ...

Ohio State's band put on another amazing halftime show. Rock out to it. The Pinball Wizard part is my favorite.
It's been quite the interesting week in our fantasy league.

Not only did we complete our league's first-ever trade -- listed below -- but Austin Ward's time atop the standings proved to be a short one. After his lowest-scoring week of the season, he dropped from first to third. So it's still anybody's championship ... well, almost anybody's.

Your results this week:

Coal Crackers (Josh Moyer): 132
Legendary Leaders (Brian Bennett): 108
The Trombone Shorties (Adam Rittenberg): 89
Massive Attack (Austin Ward): 58
Sherman Tanks (Mitch Sherman): 57

And the overall standings:

The Trombone Shorties: 843
Coal Crackers: 841
Massive Attack: 813
Legendary Leaders: 720
Sherman Tanks: 585

Trade Alert: Bennett's Legendary Leaders traded Indiana RB Tevin Coleman to Moyer's Coal Crackers in exchange for Nebraska QB Tommy Armstrong and Iowa RB Mark Weisman.

Trade analysis: Bennett needed a quarterback badly, and put the word out he was willing to make a deal. The quarterbacks on his roster heading into this week -- Joel Stave and Reilly O'Toole -- are both on bye, and he literally had no starters. So it was either take zeroes, hope to get lucky on the waiver wire, or make a trade. Sherman offered Gary Nova, but I sweetened the deal by adding a running back. My other QBs aren't great, but it was difficult to turn down the prospect of having Melvin Gordon and Coleman on the same team.

Waiver-wire: If your heads are swirling from all the moves, know that you're not alone. This season is getting harder, and it's difficult to find starters at key spots -- so there was once again a lot of shuffling. Ward focused on Ohio State players, while Rittenberg added two solid wideouts.

Sherman adds Maryland QB C.J. Brown and drops Michigan QB Devin Gardner

Bennett adds Ohio State WR Devin Smith and drops Penn State WR Geno Lewis

Ward adds Ohio State RB Rod Smith and drops Indiana QB Nate Sudfeld

Moyer adds Maryland WR Stefon Diggs and drops Illinois WR Mike Dudek

Rittenberg adds Rutgers WR Leonte Carroo and drops Northwestern WR Dan Vitale

Sherman adds Purdue RB Akeem Hunt and drops Michigan RB De'Veon Smith

Bennett adds Nebraska WR Kenny Bell and drops Illinois WR Geronimo Allison

Ward adds Ohio State WR Michael Thomas and drops Illinois WR Martize Barr

Moyer adds Nebraska WR Jordan Westerkamp (drops no one due to 2-for-1 trade)

Rittenberg adds Maryland kickers and drops Wisconsin kickers

Sherman adds Iowa WR Kevonte Martin-Manley and drops Penn State WR DaeSean Hamilton

Bennett adds Maryland QB Caleb Rowe and drops Illinois QB Reilly O'Toole and Wisconsin RB Corey Clement (drops two due to 2-for-1 trade)

Ward adds Ohio State TE Jeff Heuerman and drops Michigan State WR Macgarrett Kings

Moyer adds Maryland RB Brandon Ross and drops Indiana WR Shane Wynn

Rittenberg adds Indiana WR Shane Wynn and drops Indiana RB D'Angelo Roberts

Sherman adds Ohio State defense and drops Wisconsin defense

Bennett adds Ohio State kickers, drops Minnesota kickers

Ward adds Nebraska defense, drops Michigan defense

Rittenberg adds Northwestern defense and drops Penn State defense

Sherman adds Nebraska kickers and drops Penn State kickers

Ward adds Rutgers kickers and drops Indiana kickers

And now for a look at our rosters this week:

The Trombone Shorties (Rittenberg)

Purdue QB Austin Appleby
Michigan State QB Connor Cook
Nebraska RB Ameer Abdullah
Northwestern RB Justin Jackson
Rutgers WR Leonte Carroo
Indiana WR Shane Wynn
Maryland kickers
Northwestern defense
Bench: Michigan WR Devin Funchess (on bye)

Coal Crackers (Moyer)

Minnesota QB Mitch Leidner
Northwestern QB Trevor Siemian
Indiana RB Tevin Coleman
Maryland RB Brandon Ross
Maryland WR Stefon Diggs
Nebraska WR Jordan Westerkamp
Michigan State kickers
Michigan State defense
Bench: Wisconsin RB Melvin Gordon (on bye)

Massive Attack (Ward)

Iowa QB Jake Rudock
Ohio State QB J.T. Barrett
Ohio State RB Rod Smith
Minnesota RB David Cobb
Ohio State WR Michael Thomas
Ohio State TE Jeff Heuerman
Rutgers kickers
Nebraska defense
Bench: Illinois RB Josh Ferguson (on bye)

Legendary Leaders (Bennett)

Nebraska QB Tommy Armstrong
Maryland QB Caleb Rowe
Iowa RB Mark Weisman
Ohio State RB Ezekiel Elliott
Nebraska WR Kenny Bell
Ohio State WR Devin Smith
Ohio State kickers
Minnesota defense
Bench: Wisconsin QB Joel Stave (on bye)

Sherman Tanks (Sherman)

Maryland QB C.J. Brown
Rutgers QB Gary Nova
Purdue RB Akeem Hunt
Michigan State RB Jeremy Langford
Iowa WR Kevonte Martin-Manley
Michigan State WR Tony Lippett
Nebraska kickers
Ohio State defense
Bench: Penn State QB Christian Hackenberg (on bye)

Big Ten morning links

October, 16, 2014
Oct 16
8:00
AM ET
How is it possible that half of the season is already gone? Why does it seem like time is dragging until Saturday every week? Life and football are truly mysteries.

1. Quarterback quandary: Narrowing the field seemed like it could be a blessing in the summer, with Indiana coach Kevin Wilson quick to point out the benefits of no longer needing to juggle practice reps as much now that Nate Sudfeld was the last man standing in what was once a three-man battle. But there was an obvious downside that didn't receive nearly as much attention in July as perhaps it should have, and now that an injury has struck their starter, it's clear how much the transfers of Tre Roberson and Cameron Coffman hurt the Hoosiers. Roberson, experienced and proven in the Big Ten, is off putting up big numbers at Illinois State. Coffman is waiting for his chance to play for Wyoming while he sits out the season. And back at Indiana, the Hoosiers are scrambling to find somebody to put behind center this week with Michigan State's vaunted defense coming to town. The chance to focus on one guy and potentially unleash more of Sudfeld's ability was a nice silver lining, but it was apparently just a distraction from a huge storm cloud that was poised to wipe out Indiana's season.

2. Something special: There's any easy way to get Urban Meyer to gush about his team these days. All it takes is one mention of his kickoff coverage unit, and the Ohio State coach turns downright giddy by his standards. The Buckeyes have reason to be pleased with what they're getting on special teams lately, and they lead the Big Ten in net yardage on kickoffs thanks to a combination of well-positioned kicks, an aggressive scheme and a roster loaded up with speedy players willing to fly down the field and hit somebody. Meyer has always had a fondness for special teams, and he's fostered a competition for "starting positions" on the units that makes even first-teamers on offense and defense proud to contribute on punts and kickoffs. It may not draw much attention, but the Buckeyes are racking up some hidden yardage and subtly altering the field-position battle each week thanks in large part to Meyer's cover guys.

3. Best Bye: No program seems too thrilled with the double-bye schedule in place this season, but there appear to be obvious benefits for all four teams sitting out with an off date Saturday. Penn State's offensive line remains in disarray, and while it can't suddenly turn its inexperienced blockers into veterans, some extra reps and game-planning won't hurt heading into the stretch run that starts against Ohio State's tenacious defensive line next week. Wisconsin and Illinois both could use some time to work out kinks in the passing attack, with the former toying with a two-quarterback rotation and the latter trying to find the best option with Wes Lunt on the sideline. And after finally getting back in the win column, Brady Hoke might be able to take a deep breath at Michigan and enjoy at least a few moments of peace after a victory over the weekend. Out of all those options, maybe the Wolverines needed a bye the most -- unless the regents decide to stir the pot up again.

East Division
  • Michigan may have another candidate emerging for a redshirt, but since it's an injury issue, all that Brady Hoke is providing is a hint.
  • Michigan State's Shilique Calhoun might have a future as a professional wrestler if he keeps fine-tuning his suplexes on the field.
  • Darius Hamilton rarely comes off the field for Rutgers now that he's emerged as a complete defensive lineman.
  • Ohio State has been roaring out of the gates lately, and Urban Meyer made sure to thank his coaching staff for that positive development.
  • Maryland quarterback C.J. Brown is ready to go again after the bye week.
  • Penn State might be getting closer to having an experienced veteran back in action to help that suspect offensive line.
  • Meet Zander Diamont, who has earned some glowing praise ahead of a likely start for Indiana.
West Division
  • Kenny Bell is starting to feel right again and is hoping to give Nebraska a lift at wide receiver.
  • Iowa has seven different players making a homecoming trip to Maryland this weekend, including safety Jordan Lomax.
  • Wisconsin could be welcoming back some key contributors soon.
  • Northwestern's success against Nebraska could be determined in the red zone.
  • A closer look at Tim Beckman's recruiting classes at Illinois and how they are panning out.
  • Minnesota senior wide receiver Isaac Fruechte has caught balls from four different quarterbacks during his career.
  • Purdue might have finally found an offensive identity.

Big Ten Power Rankings: Week 7

October, 12, 2014
Oct 12
2:00
PM ET
As unlikely as it seemed earlier in the season, we have a new leader atop the league.

Austin Ward's Massive Attack took advantage of a low-scoring week by Adam Rittenberg's Trombone Shorties. It's the first time all season that Rittenberg didn't end the week at No. 1. As a result, our league is almost as clustered as the West Division.

Your results this week:

Coal Crackers (Josh Moyer): 145
Massive Attack (Austin Ward): 121
Sherman Tanks (Mitch Sherman): 84
The Trombone Shorties (Adam Rittenberg): 77
Legendary Leaders (Brian Bennett): 58

And the overall standings:

Massive Attack: 756
The Trombone Shorties: 754
Coal Crackers: 709
Legendary Leaders: 612
Sherman Tanks: 528

Oh, it's getting so much harder right now. Only 10 Big Ten teams play this week, which makes for an interesting waiver wire when each fantasy team has to start two quarterbacks and the starting signal-callers at Iowa and Wisconsin won't be getting all the snaps. Much frustration was had this week. Check it out:

Sherman adds Penn State WR DaeSean Hamilton and drops Nebraska WR Jordan Westerkamp

Bennett adds Illinois QB Reilly O'Toole and drops Maryland QB C.J. Brown

Moyer adds Minnesota QB Mitch Leidner and drops Illinois QB Wes Lunt

Rittenberg adds Purdue QB Austin Appleby and drops Nebraska QB Tommy Armstrong

Ward adds Michigan State WR Macgarrett Kings and drops Ohio State WR Devin Smith

Sherman adds Penn State kickers and drops Ohio State kickers

Bennett adds Penn State WR Geno Lewis and drops Nebraska WR Kenny Bell

Moyer adds Illinois WR Mike Dudek and drops Purdue RB Akeem Hunt

Rittenberg adds Northwestern WR Dan Vitale and drops Rutgers WR Leonte Carroo

Ward adds Illinois WR Martize Barr and drops Maryland WR Deon Long

Sherman adds Michigan RB De'Veon Smith and drops Michigan RB Derrick Green

Bennett adds Wisconsin QB Joel Stave and drops Wisconsin QB Tanner McEvoy

Moyer adds Nebraska QB Tommy Armstrong and drops Maryland WR Stefon Diggs

Rittenberg adds Northwestern RB Justin Jackson and drops Maryland RB Brandon Ross

Ward adds Iowa QB Jake Rudock and drops Ohio State RB Dontre Wilson

Bennett adds Minnesota defense and drops Michigan defense

Rittenberg adds Indiana RB D'Angelo Roberts and drops Penn State TE Jesse James

Ward adds Indiana kickers and drops Nebraska kickers

Bennett adds Minnesota kickers and drops Maryland kickers

Rittenberg adds Penn State defense and drops Rutgers defense

Ward adds Michigan defense and drops Ohio State defense

Waiver-wire analysis: This is the biggest week of moves we've had all season, and most all were made due to byes or injuries. There were two exceptions. For one, Bennett decided to go with Stave at quarterback instead of McEvoy. That makes sense, considering Stave is expected to get the start. Neither player is a good option, but beggars can't be choosers in this league. Also, my team decided to look ahead to the future and took Tommy Armstrong -- who's on bye -- and dropped Stefon Diggs, who's also on bye. Wideouts are a lot easier to come by than quarterbacks, so hopefully the move pays off.

Massive Attack (Ward)

Iowa QB Jake Rudock
Indiana QB Nate Sudfeld
Illinois RB Josh Ferguson
Minnesota RB David Cobb
Illinois WR Martize Barr
Michigan State WR Macgarrett Kings
Indiana kickers
Michigan defense
Bench: Ohio State QB J.T. Barrett (on bye)

The Trombone Shorties (Rittenberg)

Purdue QB Austin Appleby
Michigan State QB Connor Cook
Indiana RB D'Angelo Roberts
Northwestern RB Justin Jackson
Northwestern WR Dan Vitale
Michigan WR Devin Funchess
Wisconsin kickers
Penn State defense
Bench: Nebraska RB Ameer Abdullah (on bye)

Coal Crackers (Moyer)

Minnesota QB Mitch Leidner
Northwestern QB Trevor Siemian
Wisconsin RB Melvin Gordon
Iowa RB Mark Weisman
Illinois WR Mike Dudek
Indiana WR Shane Wynn
Michigan State kickers
Michigan State defense
Bench: Nebraska QB Tommy Armstrong (on bye)

Legendary Leaders (Bennett)

Wisconsin QB Joel Stave
Illinois QB Reilly O'Toole
Indiana RB Tevin Coleman
Wisconsin RB Corey Clement
Illinois WR Geronimo Allison
Penn State WR Geno Lewis
Minnesota kickers
Minnesota defense
Bench: Ohio State RB Ezekiel Elliott (on bye)

Sherman Tanks (Sherman)

Michigan QB Devin Gardner
Penn State QB Christian Hackenberg
Michigan RB De'Veon Smith
Michigan State RB Jeremy Langford
Penn State WR DaeSean Hamilton
Michigan State WR Tony Lippett
Penn State kickers
Wisconsin defense
Bench: Rutgers QB Gary Nova (on bye)
Cue Jimmy Eat World, because there is a change in the middle this week -- and it's not time to write anyone off just yet.

Brian Bennett's Legendary Leaders suffered a down week, and that left the door open for your very own Coal Crackers to overtake him in the standings. That is your big change this week, but plenty of season remains.

Your results this week:

The Trombone Shorties (Adam Rittenberg): 133
Coal Crackers (Josh Moyer): 118
Massive Attack (Austin Ward): 117
Sherman Tanks (Mitch Sherman): 101
Legendary Leaders (Brian Bennett): 98

And the overall standings:

The Trombone Shorties: 679
Massive Attack: 637
Coal Crackers: 564
Legendary Leaders: 554
Sherman Tanks: 444

Three Big Ten teams have a bye this week, so rosters were forced to re-shuffle. Quarterbacks and running backs were at a premium, and you will notice an interesting addition within the first two selections:

Sherman adds Michigan QB Devin Gardner and drops Iowa QB C.J. Beathard

Bennett adds Illinois WR Geronimo Allison and drops Nebraska WR Jordan Westerkamp

Moyer adds Purdue RB Akeem Hunt and drops Iowa QB Jake Rudock

Ward adds Ohio State RB Dontre Wilson and drops Wisconsin QB Tanner McEvoy

Rittenberg adds Maryland RB Brandon Ross and drops Indiana RB D'Angelo Roberts

Sherman adds Nebraska WR Jordan Westerkamp and drops Penn State WR DaeSean Hamilton

Bennett adds Wisconsin QB Tanner McEvoy and drops Purdue QB Danny Etling

Ward adds Maryland WR Deon Long and drops Penn State WR Geno Lewis

Rittenberg adds Rutgers defense and drops Minnesota defense

Sherman adds Ohio State kickers and drops Penn State kickers

Bennett adds Michigan defense and drops Penn State defense

Waiver-wire analysis: Did you notice Bennett's big addition? After five weeks in which Allison failed to show up in ESPN's player pool, the Illinois receiver was finally added. Sherman wasn't too happy with the move, as he had no idea Allison was available. Score one for Bennett's scouting efforts. As far as other moves, Rittenberg was none too happy with the running back selection when his turn came around. He tried to take Hunt -- who was already selected -- and was even more displeased when he had to settle for Ross. Overall, outside of Bennett, there were few teams satisfied with the waiver wire this week.

The Trombone Shorties (Rittenberg)

Nebraska QB Tommy Armstrong Jr.
Michigan State QB Connor Cook
Nebraska RB Ameer Abdullah
Maryland RB Brandon Ross
Rutgers WR Leonte Carroo
Michigan WR Devin Funchess
Wisconsin kickers
Rutgers defense
Bench: Penn State TE Jesse James (on bye)

Massive Attack (Ward)

Ohio State QB J.T. Barrett
Indiana QB Nate Sudfeld
Illinois RB Josh Ferguson
Ohio State RB Dontre Wilson
Maryland WR Deon Long
Ohio State WR Devin Smith
Nebraska kickers
Ohio State defense
Bench: Minnesota RB David Cobb (on bye)

Coal Crackers (Moyer)

Illinois QB Wes Lunt
Northwestern QB Trevor Siemian
Wisconsin RB Melvin Gordon
Purdue RB Akeem Hunt
Maryland WR Stefon Diggs
Indiana WR Shane Wynn
Michigan State kickers
Michigan State defense
Bench: Iowa Iowa RB Mark Weisman (on bye)

Legendary Leaders (Bennett)

Wisconsin QB Tanner McEvoy
Maryland QB C.J. Brown
Indiana RB Tevin Coleman
Ohio State RB Ezekiel Elliott
Illinois WR Geronimo Allison
Nebraska WR Kenny Bell
Maryland kickers
Michigan defense
Bench: Wisconsin RB Corey Clement (at Northwestern)

Sherman Tanks (Sherman)

Michigan QB Devin Gardner
Rutgers QB Gary Nova
Michigan RB Derrick Green
Michigan State RB Jeremy Langford
Nebraska WR Jordan Westerkamp
Michigan State WR Tony Lippett
Ohio State kickers
Wisconsin defense
Bench: Penn State QB Christian Hackenberg (on bye)

Tracking our B1G fantasy teams: Week 5

September, 26, 2014
Sep 26
3:00
PM ET
That lead is slipping away from The Trombone Shorties -- and everyone still appears to be in the race. Well, except for the Sherman Tanks.

Sorry, Sherman Tanks.

Your results this week:

Massive Attack (Austin Ward): 153
Coal Crackers (Josh Moyer): 133
The Trombone Shorties (Adam Rittenberg): 131
Legendary Leaders (Brian Bennett): 111
Sherman Tanks (Mitch Sherman): 85

And the overall standings:

The Trombone Shorties: 546
Massive Attack: 520
Legendary Leaders: 456
Coal Crackers: 446
Sherman Tanks: 343

All the Big Ten teams play Saturday, so there wasn't too much action on the waiver wire this week. To be honest, the lack of shuffling was kind of a relief:

Sherman adds Iowa QB C.J. Beathard and drops Minnesota QB Mitch Leidner

Moyer adds Northwestern QB Trevor Siemian and drops Penn State RB Bill Belton

Bennett adds Purdue QB Danny Etling and drops Michigan QB Devin Gardner

Ward adds Ohio State defense and drops Northwestern defense

Rittenberg adds Indiana RB D'Angelo Roberts and drops Rutgers RB Paul James

Sherman adds Wisconsin defense and drops Nebraska defense

Ward adds Ohio State WR Devin Smith and drops Illinois WR Martize Barr

Waiver-wire overview: Quarterbacks are most definitely at a premium now. With injuries and controversies, there are few guys who are safe to start Saturday -- which is one reason why Bennett was forced to drop his first-round pick in Gardner for Etling. Bet nobody saw that coming in the preseason. Rittenberg was forced to drop James since he's out for the season, and he skipped over Belton to pick up Indiana's Roberts. Rittenberg has had the Midas touch this season, so it's difficult to question his move. Ward was also fortunate to pick Smith back up, after he dropped him during the bye last week.

The Trombone Shorties (Rittenberg)

Nebraska QB Tommy Armstrong
Michigan State QB Connor Cook
Nebraska RB Ameer Abdullah
Indiana RB D'Angelo Roberts
Rutgers WR Leonte Carroo
Michigan WR Devin Funchess
Wisconsin kickers
Minnesota defense
Bench: Penn State TE Jesse James (vs. Northwestern)

Massive Attack (Ward)

Ohio State QB J.T. Barrett
Wisconsin QB Tanner McEvoy
Illinois RB Josh Ferguson
Minnesota RB David Cobb
Penn State WR Geno Lewis
Ohio State WR Devin Smith
Nebraska kickers
Ohio State defense
Bench: Indiana QB Nate Sudfeld (vs. Maryland)

Legendary Leaders (Bennett)

Purdue QB Danny Etling
Maryland QB C.J. Brown
Indiana RB Tevin Coleman
Ohio State RB Ezekiel Elliott
Nebraska WR Jordan Westerkamp
Nebraska WR Kenny Bell
Maryland kickers
Penn State defense
Bench: Wisconsin RB Corey Clement (vs. South Florida)

Coal Crackers (Moyer)

Illinois QB Wes Lunt
Northwestern QB Trevor Siemian
Wisconsin RB Melvin Gordon
Iowa RB Mark Weisman
Maryland WR Stefon Diggs
Indiana WR Shane Wynn
Michigan State kickers
Michigan State defense
Bench: Iowa QB Jake Rudock (at Purdue)

Sherman Tanks (Sherman)

Penn State QB Christian Hackenberg
Rutgers QB Gary Nova
Michigan RB Derrick Green
Michigan State RB Jeremy Langford
Penn State WR DaeSean Hamilton
Michigan State WR Tony Lippett
Penn State kickers
Wisconsin defense
Bench: Iowa QB C.J. Beathard (at Purdue)
Our crew of Big Ten reporters will occasionally give their takes on a burning question facing the league. They'll have strong opinions, but not necessarily the same view. We'll let you decide which one is right.

Today's Take Two topic: Who has the best receiving tandem in the Big Ten?

[+] EnlargeGeno Lewis
Matthew O'Haren/USA TODAY SportsPSU's Geno Lewis has the stats and intangibles to make a case for one of the Big Ten's best WRs.
Take 1: Josh Moyer

Dan, Dan, Dan -- let's not overthink this. Michigan has the Big Ten's best receiver in Devin Funchess, but there's really no No. 2 there. Stefon Diggs is an elite talent, but Deon Long hasn't made a huge impact this season. So, let's not get cute with this pick. The answer is really simple: Penn State's Geno Lewis and DaeSean Hamilton.

Now, before the season, I wouldn't have guessed this. Lewis was inconsistent last season, and Hamilton missed his true freshman season with an injury. But you can't argue with their production this season. Only four receivers in the Big Ten are averaging at least 100 yards a game, and Lewis and Hamilton are two of them. Lewis leads the conference in receiving yards (462) and is second in receptions (25); Hamilton leads the conference in receptions (30) and is second in receiving yards (402). How's that for complementary?

But you know what, Dan? Let's forget about the stats. You want a deep threat with great focus and athleticism? Lewis has made several highlight-worthy catches, including a tipped ball he pulled down for a 41-yard gain against UCF. You want consistency and a target on more underneath routes? Hamilton caught a pass in 13 of this season's first 14 quarters. You want clutch plays? Well, on PSU's game-winning drive against Rutgers, Lewis accounted for 76 yards on the Nittany Lions' 80-yard drive. You want a guy who has the potential to grow a lot more just this season? Hamilton was called "one of the biggest sleepers in the Big Ten" in the preseason by his receivers coach and, despite an 11-catch performance in Week 1, Hamilton said he didn't feel 100 percent.

This is a young tandem -- Hamilton is a redshirt freshman, Lewis a redshirt sophomore -- but their ability is not in doubt. We'll probably see these guys a few times on "SportsCenter"'s top 10 plays, and it certainly doesn't hurt that they have Christian Hackenberg throwing to them. So the answer here is an easy one: It has to be Penn State's tandem.

Take 2: Dan Murphy

[+] EnlargeTony Lippett
Phil Ellsworth/ESPN ImagesThrough three games this season, Spartans WR Tony Lippett has 18 receptions for 345 yards and 5 TDs.
Michigan State veteran Tony Lippett played less than a half on Saturday in Sparty's blowout 73-14 win against Eastern Michigan, but he still had time to add to his league-leading total of five receiving touchdowns. Getting to the end zone was the main thing missing from Lippett's game in past years. Now he's on track to contend for the conference's best receiver and a shot at the Biletnikoff Award short list.

To make this list, though, he'll need a partner. That's where junior MacGarrett Kings Jr. comes in. The 5-foot-10 speedster has only four catches through three games this season, but he has the physical skills to complement Lippett when he reaches his potential.

Kings missed the majority of spring practice after a DUI arrest and has been playing catch up ever since. Spartans coach Mark Dantonio made Kings scrape his way back toward the top of the depth chart during fall camp. His day against Eastern Michigan was short as well, but he did flash his big-play ability with a 43-yard punt return to set up the first of many scores.

Lippett is averaging six receptions and 115 yards per outing after three games, one of which came against a talented Oregon team that boasts one of the best cornerbacks in the country in Ifo Ekpre-Olomu. He has reached the end zone in every game this season, more than doubling his career touchdowns after starting the year with only four to his name.

Penn State's Lewis owns the Big Ten passing play of the year so far with his 53-yard catch-and-run to help take down Rutgers two weeks, but we're only four weeks (and one league game) into the season. Lewis and Hamilton rank among the top three receivers in the conference in catches per game and yards per game, but small sample sizes make it hard to extrapolate in September.

Lippett and Kings should be able to pass Lewis and Hamilton as the conference's top receiving tandem once they get up to full speed.

The battle for wide receiver duo supremacy is likely to remain between these two programs this season for one main reason -- both pairs have the luxury of a quality quarterback. The league has other talented receivers such as Diggs, Funchess, and Kenny Bell and Jordan Westerkamp in Nebraska, but no one from that group has a proven consistent passer to feed them the ball.

Tracking our B1G fantasy teams: Week 4

September, 18, 2014
Sep 18
4:30
PM ET
Could The Trombone Shorties’ fantasy league dominance be going the way of the Big Ten?

Well, not quite yet. Adam Rittenberg still has a big lead, but he nose-dived this past week as he was just one point from having the worst showing out of all of us. That felt so good to type. Let me reiterate: We’re coming for you, Shorties.

Your results this week:

Massive Attack (Austin Ward): 140
Legendary Leaders (Brian Bennett): 139
Coal Crackers (Josh Moyer): 118
Trombone Shorties (Adam Rittenberg): 82
Sherman Tanks (Mitch Sherman): 81

And the overall standings:

Trombone Shorties: 415
Massive Attack: 367
Legendary Leaders: 345
Coal Crackers: 313
Sherman Tanks: 258

Again, our waiver wire is of the utmost importance since we all only have one bench spot. That makes for some interesting weekly moves. Here’s a look at this week’s:

Sherman adds Michigan State WR Tony Lippett and drops Rutgers WR Leonte Carroo

Moyer adds Michigan State defense and drops Penn State defense

Bennett adds Wisconsin RB Corey Clement and drops Illinois WR Martize Barr

Ward adds Illinois WR Martize Barr and drops Ohio State WR Devin Smith

Rittenberg adds Rutgers WR Leonte Carroo and drops Purdue QB Danny Etling

Sherman adds Purdue QB Danny Etling and drops Penn State RB Zach Zwinak

Moyer adds Michigan State kickers and drops Michigan kickers

Bennett adds Penn State defense and drops Michigan defense

Ward adds Wisconsin QB Tanner McEvoy and drops Rutgers QB Gary Nova

Rittenberg adds Minnesota defense and drops Iowa defense

Sherman adds Rutgers QB Gary Nova and drops Purdue QB Danny Etling

Ward adds Northwestern defense and drops Ohio State defense

Rittenberg adds Wisconsin kickers and drops Ohio State kickers

Waiver-wire overview: Boy, that was a confusing – and entertaining – wavier-wire for us. A lot of different players changed hands. Sherman dropped Carroo, and Rittenberg scooped him up. I dropped Penn State’s defense, and Bennett picked it up. And Bennett dropped Martize Barr, and Ward couldn’t resist a potential upgrade. On top of all that, Etling might’ve played the most interesting role this week: Rittenberg dropped him, then Sherman picked him up and then Sherman dropped him again when Nova became available. Ward gambled a bit by picking up McEvoy (over keeping Nova), but he liked the matchup against Bowling Green’s defense. We’ll have to see if anyone regrets their moves this week because there were quite a few of them.

The Trombone Shorties (Rittenberg)

Nebraska QB Tommy Armstrong
Michigan State QB Connor Cook
Nebraska RB Ameer Abdullah
Rutgers RB Paul James
Rutgers WR Leonte Carroo
Penn State TE Jesse James
Wisconsin kickers
Minnesota defense
Bench: Michigan WR Devin Funchess (questionable vs. EMU)

Massive Attack (Ward)

Wisconsin QB Tanner McEvoy
Indiana QB Nate Sudfeld
Illinois RB Josh Ferguson
Minnesota RB David Cobb
Penn State WR Geno Lewis
Illinois WR Martize Barr
Nebraska kickers
Northwestern defense
Bench: Ohio State QB J.T. Barrett (on bye)

Legendary Leaders (Bennett)

Michigan QB Devin Gardner
Maryland QB C.J. Brown
Indiana RB Tevin Coleman
Wisconsin RB Corey Clement
Nebraska WR Jordan Westerkamp
Nebraska WR Kenny Bell
Maryland kickers
Penn State defense
Bench: Ohio State RB Ezekiel Elliott (on bye)

Coal Crackers (Moyer)

Illinois QB Wes Lunt
Iowa WB Jake Rudock
Wisconsin RB Melvin Gordon
Penn State RB Bill Belton
Maryland WR Stefon Diggs
Indiana WR Shane Wynn
Michigan State kickers
Michigan State defense
Bench: Iowa RB Mark Weisman (at Pitt)

Sherman Tanks (Sherman)

Penn State QB Christian Hackenberg
Rutgers QB Gary Nova
Michigan RB Derrick Green
Michigan State RB Jeremy Langford
Penn State WR DaeSean Hamilton
Michigan State WR Tony Lippett
Penn State kickers
Nebraska defense
Bench: Minnesota QB Mitch Leidner (vs. San Jose State)

Best B1G tweets from game day

September, 15, 2014
Sep 15
9:00
AM ET
As part of a new weekly feature, we're now bringing you a look back at Saturday's best game-day tweets.

And, in case you're not following us on Twitter yet (seriously?), check out: @ESPNRittenberg, @BennettESPN, @ESPNJoshMoyer, @DanMurphyESPN, @MitchSherman and @AWardESPN.

Rutgers seeking respect in first B1G game

September, 12, 2014
Sep 12
12:00
PM ET
Rutgers wideout Leonte Carroo knows there’s no denying the importance of Saturday’s game.

[+] EnlargeRutgers RB Paul James
AP Photo/Ted S. WarrenPaul James and Rutgers hope to make a B1G statement against Penn State on Saturday.
 The Scarlet Knights’ first-ever Big Ten contest sold out in record time, and Carroo said the topic of “Penn State-Rutgers” has dominated classroom chatter this week. This isn’t just a regular game for the Knights -- even if they’re still trying to approach it like one -- so there’s no sense in pretending. This is a chance for Rutgers to make a statement; it’s an opportunity for Rutgers to prove it belongs.

“During the offseason and pretty much up until now, no team has respected us. No team still respects us,” Carroo told ESPN.com. “We have nothing to lose here. Penn State is Penn State, and they’ve been disrespecting us in the media -- so this is a good chance to show what kind of Rutgers team we have here.

“We’re going to show we’re not just some team people can step over.”

The Scarlet Knights received a lukewarm reception when they joined their new conference. And the players aren’t deaf to all that criticism: Maybe RU didn’t deserve an invitation, maybe RU isn’t ready for the competition, maybe RU will go all season without winning a conference game.

Carroo knows all that chatter. He played against a handful of current Penn State players and New Jersey natives in high school, and it’s impossible to miss all the social-media banter from those who follow the team from Pennsylvania. And he’s right; Penn State fans don’t respect Rutgers. One student publication penned a sarcastic love letter to RU on Thursday, poking fun of its academics and inferiority complex. A two-month old quote from PSU tailback Bill Belton was also dug up this week, when the New Jersey native implied RU wasn’t a “big-time” program during Big Ten media days.

“People probably felt like Rutgers didn’t deserve to be in the Big Ten,” Carroo added, “but we’re setting a tone and standard and, come Saturday, everyone will see that.”

Few people even gave Rutgers a chance in its opener against Washington State. On this blog, five writers picked against the Knights. But they came out on top, 41-38, while running back Paul James turned heads with a 173-yard, three-TD performance.

Rutgers isn’t a pushover -- but some players believe it must accomplish more to earn that respect.

“I don’t think so far we’ve really changed anybody’s minds, per se,” linebacker Kevin Snyder said. “But I know a win in our first Big Ten game, it would make people look and know that we’re here to play. I know that we have a team that’s capable of beating a lot of people.”

Head coach Kyle Flood didn’t try to pretend otherwise earlier this week. He cautioned that the team will still go through the same process, that this game will be treated like any other.

But that doesn’t mean this game is just like any other.

"The meaning of the game, to me, is that first impressions in life count," Flood said. "And this is our opportunity to make our first impression in the Big Ten conference."

The Knights’ schedule won’t get any easier as the season progresses. With Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, Nebraska and Wisconsin on the schedule, it’s rated as the toughest slate in the Big Ten. Even Huskers wideout Kenny Bell chimed in a month ago and said the conference disrespected RU with that setup.

A win shows Rutgers can be a force in this conference, that a bowl game isn’t just a pipe dream. A loss means that offseason chatter is only going to grow. And these players know that.

“I think a win this week would kind of cement that we’re in the Big Ten, and we’re not just here to play football,” Snyder said. “We’re here to win games.”

Tracking our B1G fantasy teams: Week 3

September, 11, 2014
Sep 11
4:30
PM ET
I demand a redraft.

We’re hosting our league on the ESPN College Football Challenge, and The Trombone Shorties currently rank No. 3 overall – nationally – in points scored. It hasn’t been close yet, but hopefully that’s about to change. Your Week 2 results:

The Trombone Shorties (Adam Rittenberg): 160
Massive Attack (Austin Ward): 119
Coal Crackers (Josh Moyer): 91
Sherman Tanks (Mitch Sherman): 81
Legendary Leaders (Brian Bennett): 70

And your overall standings so far:

The Trombone Shorties (Rittenberg): 333
Massive Attack (Ward): 227
Legendary Leaders (Bennett): 206
Coal Crackers (Moyer): 195
Sherman Tanks (Sherman): 177

The Shorties have a big lead, but a lot can change in this league. We only have one bench spot, so bye weeks can be killer. The waiver wire is especially important, so here’s a look at our moves this week:

Sherman adds Minnesota QB Mitch Leidner and drops Northwestern QB Trevor Siemian

Moyer adds Penn State RB Bill Belton and drops Michigan State kickers

Bennett adds Illinois WR Martize Barr and drops Michigan RB Derrick Green

Rittenberg adds Purdue QB Danny Etling and drops Wisconsin RB Corey Clements

Sherman adds Michigan RB Derrick Green and drops Maryland WR Deon Long

Moyer adds Michigan kickers and drops Michigan State WR Tony Lippett

Bennett adds Michigan defense and drops Rutgers defense

Rittenberg adds Iowa defense and drops Minnesota defense

Moyer takes Penn State defense and drops Michigan State defense

Waiver-wire overview: Most of the moves this week were simply made because our players were on bye, but there were a few exceptions. The big switched happened on Bennett's team, where he tried to upgrade at wideout by picking up Barr and sliding Kenny Bell over to his bench. Bell has gotten off to a bit of a slow start, while Barr is sure to rack up some numbers with Wes Lunt under center. Both Bennett and Rittenberg also both substituted their defenses for more favorable matchups.

The Trombone Shorties (Rittenberg)
Purdue QB Danny Etling
Nebraska QB Tommy Armstrong
Nebraska RB Ameer Abdullah
Rutgers RB Paul James
Michigan WR Devin Funchess
Penn State WR Jesse James
Ohio State kickers
Iowa defense
Bench: Michigan State QB Connor Cook (on bye)

Massive Attack (Ward)

Ohio State QB J.T. Barrett
Indiana QB Nate Sudfeld
Illinois RB Josh Ferguson
Minnesota RB David Cobb
Ohio State WR Devin Smith
Penn State WR Geno Lewis
Nebraska kickers
Ohio State defense
Bench: Rutgers QB Gary Nova (vs. Penn State)

Legendary Leaders (Bennett)

Michigan QB Devin Gardner
Maryland QB C.J. Brown
Indiana RB Tevin Coleman
Ohio State RB Ezekiel Elliott
Illinois WR Martize Barr
Nebraska WR Jordan Westerkamp
Maryland kickers
Michigan defense
Bench: Nebraska WR Kenny Bell (at Fresno State)

Coal Crackers (Moyer)

Illinois QB Wes Lunt
Iowa QB Jake Rudock
Penn State RB Bill Belton
Iowa RB Mark Weisman
Maryland WR Stefon Diggs
Indiana WR Shane Wynn
Michigan kickers
Penn State defense
Bench: Wisconsin RB Melvin Gordon (on bye)

Sherman Tanks (Sherman)

Penn State QB Christian Hackenberg
Minnesota QB Mitch Leidner
Michigan RB Derrick Green
Penn State RB Zach Zwinak
Penn State WR DaeSean Hamilton
Rutgers WR Leonte Carroo
Penn State kickers
Nebraska defense
Bench: Michigan State RB Jeremy Langford (on bye)

Tracking our B1G fantasy teams: Week 2

September, 4, 2014
Sep 4
12:00
PM ET
There might be more competition and increased trash talk from last season -- but Adam Rittenberg’s Trombone Shorties sure had their way with the league this week.

They outscored 99.7 percent of all Big Ten entries in the ESPN College Football Challenge and outscored all of us by at least 35 points. It wasn’t pretty and, for three of us, there is nowhere to go but up. Your Week 1 results:

The Trombone Shorties (Rittenberg): 173 points
Legendary Leaders (Brian Bennett): 136 points
Massive Attack (Austin Ward): 108 points
Coal Crackers (Josh Moyer): 104 points
Sherman Tanks (Mitch Sherman): 96 points

There is some hope for the rest of us. The last-place team picks first on the waiver wire and, after everyone took a turn, the pick went back to the worst team. We also added a bench spot we plan to keep the rest of the season so teams don’t feel obligated to drop their top guys during a bye week. Sherman, Ward and I need all the help we can get.

Here is a look at the waiver-wire action this week:

Sherman adds Penn State WR DaeSean Hamilton

Rationale: It looks as if the Nittany Lions will have to pass the ball quite a bit this season, and Hamilton could end up being the No. 1 receiver on the team. A definite upgrade over some of the Sherman Tanks’ other wideouts.

Moyer adds Illinois QB Wes Lunt

Rationale: I’m now dead to Brian Bennett -- but it’s so worth it. Bennett wanted Lunt in our original draft, but he wasn’t listed in ESPN’s database for some reason, so we decided to skip over him. He’s in there now, and Illinois’ system should get him plenty of fantasy points.

Ward adds Rutgers QB Gary Nova

Rationale: With Indiana quarterback Nate Sudfeld on a bye, there needed to be some kind of replacement here. Nova looked good against Washington State last week, plus the Knights take on Howard this week. The only concern is if Rutgers plugs in its second-team or runs out the clock too soon.

Bennett adds Michigan RB Derrick Green

Rationale: Green is arguably the top running back left on the board, and Indiana's Tevin Coleman is on bye, so this move made a lot of sense. Green rushed for 170 yards last week and, although he faces a tougher test against Notre Dame on Saturday, he should still see his share of carries.

Rittenberg adds Ohio State kickers

Rationale: Once again, with the Indiana kickers on bye, another corps was needed. Although the Buckeyes face a good defense in Virginia Tech, this is a kicking group that should nail plenty of easy PATs this season. This isn’t necessarily a one-week Band-Aid.

Sherman adds Rutgers WR Leonte Carroo and drops Iowa WR Kevonte Martin-Manley

Rationale: An upgrade was definitely needed at receiver, so that was the focus in the first two picks here. First came Hamilton and now Carroo. The Rutgers receiver is a speedy guy who can score touchdowns from anywhere on the field, and he appears to be Nova’s top target. That is an ideal fantasy combination.

Moyer adds Michigan State WR Tony Lippett and drops Minnesota QB Mitch Leidner

Rationale: With Lunt, there is no need for another quarterback -- and Indiana receiver Shane Wynn is on bye. If the Spartans trail Oregon, like Vegas is predicting they are, they are probably going to have to throw quite a bit. And Lippett had 167 receiving yards last week.

Ward adds Nebraska kickers and drops Northwestern kickers

Rationale: The Wildcats struggled last week to score against a bad defense, and the Cornhuskers are playing McNeese State on Saturday. Need I say more?

Bennett adds Rutgers defense and drops Iowa defense

Rationale: It’s all about matchups, and Rutgers looks to score a lot more fantasy points than the Hawkeyes this week. Rutgers plays a Howard team that was dominated by Akron, 41-0, so a shutout is a definite possibility here.

Rittenberg adds Wisconsin RB Corey Clement and drops Indiana kickers

Rationale: Wisconsin RB Melvin Gordon is fine ... probably. But the Badgers are going to lean more on running the ball, especially the next few weeks, so Clements’ value only increases. He will be a nice addition to the fantasy bench, for use during byes or in case any injuries pop up.

Bennett adds Nebraska WR Jordan Westerkamp and drops Northwestern WR Tony Jones

Rationale: Fantasy football is all about the numbers. So take a look at these: Jones -- 64 yards, 0 TDs. Westerkamp -- 125 yards, 1 TD. Nebraska has another easy matchup this weekend, so banking on Westerkamp is the smart move.

Now, onto our complete rosters for Week 2, including our bench spot:

The Trombone Shorties (Rittenberg)

Michigan State QB Connor Cook
Nebraska QB Tommy Armstrong
Nebraska RB Ameer Abdullah
Rutgers RB Paul James
Michigan WR Devin Funchess
Penn State WR Jesse James
Ohio State kickers
Minnesota defense
Bench: Wisconsin RB Corey Clement (vs. W. Illinois)

Legendary Leaders (Bennett)

Michigan QB Devin Gardner
Maryland QB C.J. Brown
Michigan RB Derrick Green
Ohio State RB Ezekiel Elliott
Nebraska WR Kenny Bell
Nebraska WR Jordan Westerkamp
Maryland kickers
Rutgers defense
Bench: Indiana RB Tevin Coleman (on bye)

Massive Attack (Ward)

Ohio State QB J.T. Barrett
Rutgers QB Gary Nova
Illinois RB Josh Ferguson
Minnesota RB David Cobb
Ohio State WR Devin Smith
Penn State WR Geno Lewis
Nebraska kickers
Ohio State defense
Bench: Indiana QB Nate Sudfeld (on bye)

Coal Crackers (Moyer)

Illinois QB Wes Lunt
Iowa QB Jake Rudock
Wisconsin RB Melvin Gordon
Iowa RB Mark Weisman
Maryland WR Stefon Diggs
Michigan State WR Tony Lippett
Michigan State kickers
Michigan State defense
Bench: Indiana WR Shane Wynn (on bye)

Sherman Tanks (Sherman)

Penn State QB Christian Hackenberg
Northwestern QB Trevor Siemian
Michigan State RB Jeremy Langford
Penn State RB Zach Zwinak
Penn State WR DaeSean Hamilton
Rutgers WR Leonte Carroo
Penn State kickers
Nebraska defense
Bench: Maryland WR Deon Long (vs. South Florida)

B1G fantasy draft: round-by-round analysis

August, 28, 2014
Aug 28
2:00
PM ET
Big Ten football kicks off in just a few hours. So you know what that means – the start of tailgates, packed stadiums and unforgettable upsets. And, of course, the start of another season of our Big Ten fantasy league.

The Trombone Shorties (Adam Rittenberg) and the team formerly known as The One Who Knocks (Brian Bennett) won’t have it easy anymore. The Big Ten fantasy league is no longer just a head-to-head battle. Now, in Year 4 of the league, there are five of us – and the competition and trash talk are intense. (If you want to play college fantasy football, too, you can do so through ESPN’s College Football Challenge.)

We held a live eight-round draft earlier this week, and below you’ll find our draft results – along with a brief analysis by Josh Moyer on each round:

 

Round 1: The No. 2 overall pick is the trickiest in this draft. Melvin Gordon is the easy No. 1 – but where do you go from there? On one hand, running back is deep, but the top four at the position could be gone when the pick comes around again. Rittenberg opted to play it safe by picking Nebraska’s Ameer Abdullah, widely regarded as the second-best offensive player in the B1G. But he might come to regret the pick if Abdullah can’t find the end zone more often. Abdullah averaged 19.8 fantasy points a game last season, which was behind Tevin Coleman (20.79 points) and just slightly ahead of Jeremy Langford (19.42 points), who really took off in Game 6. … Quarterbacks and wideouts were at a premium, so Ward and Bennett focused on quarterback in the first round. There are no point deductions for turnovers, so the Devin Gardner pick was a smart one.

[+] EnlargeGordon
Scott Halleran/Getty ImagesWisconsin's Melvin Gordon was an easy pick as the No. 1 player in the Big Ten blog's fantasy draft.
Round 2: Let the run on wide receivers begin. If teams didn’t spend one of their first two picks on the position, then it was basically impossible to get an elite player. Rittenberg struck first with Devin Funchess, stealing my pick. I “settled” on Indiana’s Shane Wynn. … Everyone knew Bennett’s pick before he made it, but it was another great one with Coleman. Bennett probably had the best first two rounds out of any of us. … Ward’s pick of Josh Ferguson in the second round was mildly surprising since we don’t get a point per reception, but the running back picture was more muddled after the first four went off the board.

Round 3: I started off the third round with Stefon Diggs – giving me the top overall receiver combo with Wynn-Diggs – but definitely guaranteeing I’ll be in a hole later when it comes to quarterback. Rittenberg didn’t want the same to happen so he opted to take his first quarterback in Connor Cook. … This is when the draft started getting interesting. Sherman took Maryland’s Deon Long as the fourth overall receiver. It could certainly pay off in the end, but it certainly wasn’t a “safe” pick with Diggs as Maryland's top target and with proven commodities such as Ohio State’s Devin Smith still on the board. … Poor Bennett got the short end of the stick when he tried to draft Illinois’ Wes Lunt – but he wasn’t in ESPN’s draft database for some reason. So we decided as a group to exclude him; Bennett took Maryland’s C.J. Brown instead. A fantasy downgrade for sure.

Round 4: Maybe someone should’ve sent Sherman a memo on Penn State’s offensive line because he took Zach Zwinak over some other prime options. But Sherman’s banking on the goal-line value of Zwinak, who scored 12 TDs last season. Zwinak could be like fantasy football’s 2004 version of Jerome Bettis. … With few receivers left, Smith was a solid pick by Ward and definitely his best value of the draft so far.

Round 5: I took my first quarterback in Iowa’s Jake Rudock, as I’m banking on some extra value thanks to his penchant for running close to the goal line. (He had five rush TDs last season.) But, in retrospect, that might not have been the best move. Ward got another good value pick in Ohio State QB J.T. Barrett – and, while Rudock is the safer pick, Barrett certainly has the higher ceiling. Part of me is regretting my choice already. … Bennett’s great draft continued by grabbing the best remaining receiver in Kenny Bell. If he can meet his 2012 touchdown production (8), this could be the best-value receiver pick of the draft. … Rittenberg also made a good move with Rutgers’ running back Paul James, who has a few early games against bad defenses. If he falters when the schedule gets harder, there’s always the waiver wire.

Round 6: Flag on the play, Sherman! The Sherman Tanks initially tried to draft Ohio State’s Dontre Wilson, a hybrid back, as a receiver – but ESPN’s database listed him only as a running back. So Sherman had to pick again and chose Iowa’s Kevonte-Martin Manley. … Ward was not happy with the remaining receiver selection at all. It showed in his pick; Penn State’s Geno Lewis could be third in receiving on Penn State by the time the season ends. … Rittenberg made an interesting move by picking Minnesota’s defense first, over Michigan State’s defense. His reasoning was solid, though. MSU plays Oregon in Week 2 and then has a bye. So he didn’t want to work the waiver wire that early. Me? I took the Spartans’ D with the next pick, and I’ll ride it out.

Rounds 7-8: It was mostly all kickers and defenses in the final two rounds. Rittenberg took Penn State tight end Jesse James to fill his last receiver spot in the sixth round, and it was a good pick for being the 10th receiver/tight end taken. James is 6-foot-7 and could be a nice red-zone target for Christian Hackenberg this season. … The only other non-defense/kicker came from me. I needed a quarterback, so this year’s Mr. Irrelevant is Minnesota’s Mitch Leidner. Quarterback is definitely my weakness. But I don’t care if Leidner throws 40 percent -- as long he scores a rushing TD every game.

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