Mark Neal

I am the Program Director at 1410 WING ESPN Radio in Dayton, Ohio...also host of Dayton Sports Scene weekdays at 5p!  Find me on Twitter @ESPNMark!
Posts from August 2013
by Mark Neal posted Aug 22 2013 12:00AM
Today on Dayton Sports Scene, we will have the 4th installment of the Fantasy Football Focus presented by Buffalo Wild Wings! For 5 straight weeks, I will do position breakdowns at 5:45p on Thursdays getting you ready for your Fantasy Draft! I went over Wide Receivers last week, today it's TEs...here were my top 8, plus 2 to remember.

1. Jimmy Graham... Graham is a talent, and has the good fortune of playing in a productive pass offense. Drew Brees has been able to find him in the past, his 135 targets were 2nd most of any TE in 2012, and should find him this season. Look for a big year out of Graham once again.

2. Tony Gonzalez...He was supposed to be retired, but arguably the greatest Tight End in NFL history returns for one more year, or so he says? Gonzalez, was and still is a physical freak. He is still able to be a down field factor of sorts, plus can get those TDs in the Red Zone with his size. Matt Ryan has Julio Jones and Roddy White to get the ball to as well, but he won't forget the future HOFer.

3. Vernon Davis...Didn't have knockout stats in 2012, but another year with Kaepernick, and that should improve. He is a physical force that can run you over or run past you. His yards and 5 TDs aren't exciting, but I feel Davis breaks thruogh some in 2013.

4. Jason Witten...He gets older, but stays productive for America's Team. His best buddy, Tony Romo, makes sure he feeds his right hand man with plenty of looks, a TE league leading 147 targets in 2012. He hauled in 110 of those passes, but only made it into the end zone 3 times...not a good ratio. With the emergence of Dez Bryant, his looks may go down, but not too much.

5. Rob Gronkowski...This is the hardest part of this list, where to put Gronk? If healthy, he is the best or 2nd TE on most boards, and rightfully so. Gronk can do it all, and Tom Brady finds him. Injuries will cost him games early in the season, and with Aaron Hernandez behind bars, he will get more attention. When he returns, he will be productive. Question is, and always will be, can he remain healthy?

6. Kyle Rudolph...He attempts to overcome his incredibly pedestrian QB, Christian Ponder, and usually does a solid job. Rudolph had 9 TDs last season, only Gronk had more from the position. The Vikings didn't exactly solve all of their WR issues in the off season, so Rudy will get his looks...even if they are from Ponder.

7. Jared Cook...High for Cook, maybe, but he is incredibly fast, and with the Rams now, more likely to see the ball in the air. I've contended in previous weeks that the Rams are gonna throw plenty in 2013, Cook will benefit greatly.

8. Brandon Pettigrew...I've always liked Pettigrew, and so has Matt Stafford. He threw to him 102 times, but only 59 were caught, and for only 3 TDs. Half the battle in Fantasy is getting the ball thrown your player's way, he gets the ball...if he catches it in 2013, look out!

Player to remember: Martellus Bennett...Now a Bear, Bennett can get a solid, fresh start. He spun his wheels in Dallas behind Witten and a coaching staff that didn't know what to do with him. He broke out some with the Giants, but now he is with Jay Cutler in Chicago. He can't miss Bennett's massive frame across the middle, if throws go his way, he could have a major impact.

Sleeper pick: Jordan Cameron...Great athlete that has improved all around. Weeden has thrown his way in the preseason, if that carries over to the regular season, we could see great stats from Cameron, and a real TE option in Cleveland.
by Mark Neal posted Aug 20 2013 12:00AM
Following an undefeated season can be a tall order. But an undefeated season in 2103 would mean much more. We are less than 2 weeks from Ohio State and Buffalo from the Shoe. Kickoff is at noon.

Urban Meyer enters season number two with a #2 ranking in both the Preseason Coaches and AP Polls, not a bad place to begin. Where they end up is more the question though. This is a talented team, especially up from on the Offensive line. Four Seniors led by preseason 2nd Team All-American LT Jack Mewhort, will provide the push for the offense and Urban Meyer Spread formation.

To me, that is the biggest strength, O Line. They know each other, and are veterans. The new guy, Sophomore Taylor Decker, will replace Reid Fragel at RT. He is massive, and a Dayton native...Decker should work out just fine.

Another strength is the front 7 on defense...yes, the front seven. Only 1 starter returns, but it's a darn good one in preseason 2nd team All-American LB Ryan Shazier. He is fast, and has added more meat to his frame for 2013. He should be an absolute terror for every offense he sees.

It's not just Shazier, they are very talented elsewhere up front. The Sophomore Defensive End tandum of Noah Spence and Adolpus Washington might be the best pair in the country. Spence is the classic "LEO" that can get to the QB. Washington is the mauler, that is an edge weapon. Washington and Spence are both future 1st Rd picks, barring injury.

The Defensive Secondary returns the Buckeyes only 1st team All-American in Junior CB Bradley Roby. Roby will miss the Buffalo game due to suspension. Armani Reeves will fill in at CB along side Doran Grant.

I feel like I'm forgetting someone...oh yeah, defending Big 10 Offensive Player of the Year , and preseason 2nd team All-American QB Braxton Miller returns for his Junior campaign 12 wins more experienced, and 2 years smarter. Look for a big season for Miller, a Huber Heights Wayne graduate, to shine. He must avoid the injury bug, which has haunted him forever.

This is a good Buckeyes team, but whether they are great will come down to a big game against the best the SEC has to offer. Is this team up for the challenge, I don't know. Look for them to be the about 11-1, someone gets them. But 2014...preseason #1 and a legit contender, no doubt!
by Mark Neal posted Aug 15 2013 12:00AM
Today on Dayton Sports Scene, we will have the 3rd installment of the Fantasy Football Focus presented by Buffalo Wild Wings! For 5 straight weeks, I will do position breakdowns at 5:45p on Thursdays getting you ready for your Fantasy Draft! I went over Running backs last week, today it's WRs...here were my top 8, plus 2 to remember.

1. Calvin Johnson...Megatron is seen as #1 on most people's Draft Board at the position. He is possibly the best physical specimen at Wide Receiver ever, and has the stats to match. Johnson broke Jerry Rice's record last season for receiving yards in a single season by racking up 1964 yards. He was also the most targeted receiver in the league last season, which is most of the battle in Fantasy. If you are looking for a reason not to take him, he did score just 5 TDs in 2012. Think that number will be that low this year, though?

2. Dez Bryant...Once again, I'm expecting some "homer" chats thrown my way, but he showed last season that, at times, he can be uncoverable. We always knew he had the talent, just not the composure...well he seems more composed now. Tony Romo is a gunslinger, and primed for a huge season with Bryant as his top target. The targets should go up, and so could his NFL leading 12 receiving TDs.

3. AJ Green...Stud, star, All-Pro...all ways you can describe Green as a WR in the NFL. He has solid hands, runs crisp routes, and is smart at the position, all you can ask for. Andy Dalton should improve, but like many other star NFL WRs, is still looking for that WR opposite him. If no one emerges, look for more double teams than he already gets. Any way you slice it, Green is a star and worthy of a high Fantasy pick.

4. Brandon Marshall...He has shown that he and Cutler know 100 catch seasons. Whether we are in Denver or Chicago, those two always seem to be on the same page. Marshall gets the targets, 194 in all, tied for 2nd most in the NFL. You can't score in Fantasy, as a WR, without the ball thrown your way...he gets it, and gets it often. This may be too low for Marshall.

5. Julio Jones...Despite the fact he has both Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez bobbling up many Fantasy opportunites, Jones is a beast. His TDs per target ratio is among the best, and he is great inside the Red Zone. The Falcons do like to power it in on the ground from inside the 5, but if they throw it down there, I expect the former Alabama star to get the looks.

6. Reggie Cobb...Too high for Cobb, maybe, but someone has to catch the ball in Green Bay. As if they are going to throw it less, especially with a beat up Offensive Line? Aaron Rodgers loves to put the ball up, and loves making good receivers into great receivers. While Others, like Jordy Nelson, will get Rodgers attention, in my opinion it will be Cobb that becomes his next #1 target.

7. Wes Welker...You could go with Demaryius Thomas here, heck maybe even Eric Decker, but I think it's Wleker that Peyton uses the most this season. The pass rush will be on against Denver to get to Peyton, so the underneath route could be there for the taking. Welker may be a Tom Brady creation, but Manning can do that same game too. Welker and Peyton bond like he did with Brady. Plus, you know they all want to stick it right to the Patriots, a big year for Welker is one way.

8. Larry Fitzgerald...I believe in Larry. Carson Palmer is now in town, and if he is healthy, he can throw, and he will throw Fitz's way. Larry still has gas in that tank, but he and the Cardinals just haven't been the same since Kurt Warner left town. 2013, in my opinion, is Fitzgerald's comeback year! The Stones did it, multiple times, so can Larry Fitzgerald!

Player to remember: Jordy Nelson...He may go low in your Fantasy Draft, but who thinks he won't get big numbers if he stays healthy? They trow it a lot up there, and Rodgers finds Nelson. Go get Jordy

Sleeper Pick: Tavon Austin...Maybe not a huge sleeper, but rookie WRs rarely have great seasons. Bradford has to show something this year, and so might Jeff Fisher. I think the Rams will put the ball up, and when they do, Bradford will be looking for the speedster out of Morgantown. Austin could go for 1000+ yards because someone on that team will, might as well be him.
by Mark Neal posted Aug 8 2013 12:00AM
Today on Dayton Sports Scene, we will have the 2nd installment of the Fantasy Football Focus presented by Buffalo Wild Wings! For 5 straight weeks, I will do position breakdowns at 5:45p on Thursdays getting you ready for your Fantasy Draft! I started yesterday with Quarterbacks last week, today it's RBs...here were my top 8, plus 2 to remember.

1. Adrian Peterson...the consensus #1 RB on most everyone's board, Peterson is coming off of the finest season of his great career. Peterson is an every down back that gets those extra touches you need to be a great Fantasy RB. He scores touchdowns, gains yards, and can be the cornerstone of anyone's team. Only issue for me is the workload needed for that 2000+ yard season in 2012. Multiple knee injuries, plus those carries...but a high reward!

2. Arian Foster...As steady as there has been at the RB position in the NFL over the past 3 season. Foster gets yeards, and finishes those drives with touchdowns, 41 of them combined over the past 3 seasons. He will again gets a yoemen's share of the handoffs in Houston, health is the only concern because he produces.

3. Ray Rice...Maybe a stretch this high, but who else is going to touch the football in Baltimore? No Pitta, no Bolden, means Rice is that much more important. He will get those carries, but his catches are what separates him from most others. They get him the ball consistantly, that's 1/2 the fantasy battle.

4. Jamaal Charles...I know, I know, if he can stay healthy...have I said that line before? When he is in, sharing carries or not, he is a stud. Big carries, shorter carries...catches and production, he brings is all to the table. His TD numbers could go up, and maybe they will on a team that resembles an NFL squad? Andy Reid doesn't hand the ball off enough, right? He will once he sees Jamaal Charles run it!

5. Marshawn Lynch...Back to back bigs seasons has made many people forget about the 4 average season prior to that...well I don't! Lynch plays for a good team, with a solid QB, but how productive will he be in 2013? He will be 27 this season, an age most athletes flourish. Plus, he scores TDs, 23 the past 2 seasons combined.

6. Doug Martin...The former Boise State Bronco burst onto the scene last season with 1454 yards on the ground, stealing some of the headlines from fellow Redskin rookie RGIII. Martin is solid, no really, he is solid, and gets the position. He has one of the best Head Coaches in the history of the NFL in terms of using RBs in Mike Shannahan. He may not do 1400+ yards again, but they will get him the rock. Shanny had Elway in Denver, but still had time to make an MVP out of Terrell Davis.

7. Steven Jackson...Old man, grandpa, whatever you want to call him, he can still get it done. Freshly turned 30, he is still in solid shape, and not broken down by any means. He joins a great offense that makes its hay throwing the football. Someone has to punch it in from the 3, and Jackson will be that guy. Michael Turner was on his downside, and still having solid fantasy seasons in Atlanta.

8. Trent Richardson...A Browns' player in the Top 8 of anything? Yeah, I know, but T Rich is tough. Injured most of last season, Richardson still toughed it out. The 3.6 yards per carry will get better, and this team will score some points...right? When they do, it will be the former Alabama All-American. If Weeded continues to progress, that will only make things better. Look out for Richardson to show everyone something.

Player to remember: Darren McFadden...Not a great season in 2012 by any means. That team stuck, and when teams stink like the Raiders stunk, well things don't always work out. If he stays healthy, DMC is still a man

Sleeper Pick: Laveon Bell...He is getting 1st team reps with the Steelers right now. He reminds me some of Barry Foster, the former Steelers back that had a great rookie campaign in the Steel City. Bell is tough, saw it on Saturday's in the Big 10, we should see it on Sundays too.
by Mark Neal posted Aug 8 2013 12:00AM
Today on Dayton Sports Scene, we will have the 2nd installment of the Fantasy Football Focus presented by Buffalo Wild Wings! For 5 straight weeks, I will do position breakdowns at 5:45p on Thursdays getting you ready for your Fantasy Draft! I started with Quarterbacks last week, today it's RBs...here were my top 8, plus 2 to remember.

1. Adrian Peterson...the consensus #1 RB on most everyone's board, Peterson is coming off of the finest season of his great career. Peterson is an every down back that gets those extra touches you need to be a great Fantasy RB. He scores touchdowns, gains yards, and can be the cornerstone of anyone's team. Only issue for me is the workload needed for that 2000+ yard season in 2012. Multiple knee injuries, plus those carries...but a high reward!

2. Arian Foster...As steady as there has been at the RB position in the NFL over the past 3 season. Foster gets yards, and finishes those drives with touchdowns, 41 of them combined over the past 3 seasons. He will again gets a lion's share of the hand offs in Houston, health is the only concern because he produces.

3. Ray Rice...Maybe a stretch this high, but who else is going to touch the football in Baltimore? No Pitta, no Bolden, means Rice is that much more important. He will get those carries, but his catches are what separates him from most others. They get him the ball consistently, that's 1/2 the fantasy battle.

4. Jamaal Charles...I know, I know, if he can stay healthy...have I said that line before? When he is in, sharing carries or not, he is a stud. Big carries, shorter carries...catches and production, he brings is all to the table. His TD numbers could go up, and maybe they will on a team that resembles an NFL squad? Andy Reid doesn't hand the ball off enough, right? He will once he sees Jamaal Charles run it!

5. Marshawn Lynch...Back to back big seasons has made many people forget about the 4 average season prior to that...well I don't! Lynch plays for a good team, with a solid QB, but how productive will he be in 2013? He will be 27 this season, an age most athletes flourish. Plus, he scores TDs, 23 the past 2 seasons combined.

6. Alfred Morris...The former late round pick burst onto the scene last season with 1613 yards on the ground, stealing some of the headlines from fellow Redskin rookie RGIII. Morris is solid, no really, he is solid, and gets the position. He has one of the best Head Coaches in the history of the NFL in terms of using RBs in Mike Shannahan. He may not do 1400+ yards again, but they will get him the rock. Shanny had Elway in Denver, but still had time to make an MVP out of Terrell Davis.

7. Steven Jackson...Old man, grandpa, whatever you want to call him, he can still get it done. Freshly turned 30, he is still in solid shape, and not broken down by any means. He joins a great offense that makes its hay throwing the football. Someone has to punch it in from the 3, and Jackson will be that guy. Michael Turner was on his downside, and still having solid fantasy seasons in Atlanta.

8. Trent Richardson...A Browns' player in the Top 8 of anything? Yeah, I know, but T Rich is tough. Injured most of last season, Richardson still toughed it out. The 3.6 yards per carry will get better, and this team will score some points...right? When they do, it will be the former Alabama All-American. If Weeded continues to progress, that will only make things better. Look out for Richardson to show everyone something.

Player to remember: Darren McFadden...Not a great season in 2012 by any means. That team stuck, and when teams stink like the Raiders stunk, well things don't always work out. If he stays healthy, DMC is still a man

Sleeper Pick: LeVeon Bell...He is getting 1st team reps with the Steelers right now. He reminds me some of Barry Foster, the former Steelers back that had a great rookie campaign in the Steel City. Bell is tough, saw it on Saturday's in the Big 10, we should see it on Sundays too.
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