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Inside the 20: Week 7
By Matt Horkman

You don’t see blockbuster trades during the pro football season as you do in the middle of baseball and basketball seasons.

That changed this Tuesday, however.

For the first time since I can remember, a major player is on the move midseason. This new yet welcoming turn of events has created intrigue throughout the fantasy world. I of course am referring to the Oakland Raiders acquisition of QB Carson Palmer for two draft picks.

Fantasy notices immediately went off. Is Palmer a worthy addition to your roster? Could he give you the occasional spot start?  These are among the few questions that have caught the attention of fantasy players. This is uncharted territory for many after all.

The answers couldn’t be any more disappointing, though. Palmer steps into a great situation according to many experts. Yeah, Oakland gave up a bundle, but this is their time, and Palmer is the guy that puts them over the top. What’s not to like?

I guess it’s my job to rain on the parade. First, Palmer is either going to go the way of Kurt Warner or Donovan McNabb. I don’t see a ton of grey here. More importantly, there’s a difference between a good football situation and a good fantasy situation.

The Raiders aren’t getting the same Palmer that led the Cincinnati Bengals to the 2005 AFC North divisional title. Palmer was an MVP candidate that year and one of the league’s elite fantasy players. Oakland instead is getting a QB that hasn’t truly been the same since a significant knee injury forced him out of a 06 postseason game.

At best, those attached to Palmer are hoping for the 09 version, where he threw only 21 TDs in 16 starts. Those aren’t exactly the numbers of a fantasy juggernaut, but that’s what the Raiders want out of Palmer this year. He wasn’t good in 09, but he wasn’t bad either. Cincinnati was able to lean on their running game and defense. It wasn’t flashy, but it delivered the Bengals their second division title in the Palmer era.

That’s not a bad football blueprint, but it‘s a terrible fantasy formula. Oakland’s attempting to ride that philosophy to a division title this year. They’re going to lean heavily on Darren McFadden and hope Palmer does just enough in order to beat the San Diego Chargers. It’s a basic enough principle that the Raiders may win enough games with Palmer. It won’t win you many fantasy games, though. Did Matt Cassel win you a fantasy championship last year? Did you win your 09 title with the aforementioned Palmer? I doubt it, so I wouldn’t lose any sleep if your Palmer waiver claim didn’t go through.

Week 6 Fantasy Stud
RB Ahmad Bradshaw -- I believe Bradshaw was one of the most overrated fantasy backs heading into the year. His three TDs in week six don’t change my mind, but it does give Bradshaw owners hope going forward.

Week 6 Fantasy Chump
QB Rex Grossman -- Shame on you. Shame on me. Shame on all of us. We should never have bought into Grossman or the Washington Redskins for that matter. Last week, he didn’t even surpass 100 yards passing and his four INTs brought his fantasy numbers into the negative for the week. Enter John Beck.

Stat of the Week
Drew Brees became the first QB in NFL history to throw for 350-plus yards in four consecutive games. He’s eclipsed that mark in five of his team’s six games. Ironically, New Orleans played arguably their best game in week two versus Chicago. Brees threw for 270 that afternoon.

Stat of the Week II
I love the NFL and I will watch as many games as I can. However, even I can’t defend this week’s slate of games. There isn’t a game on the week seven slate featuring a matchup of winning teams. None. The primetime matchups are unacceptable. Sunday night features the winless Colts and Monday night highlights the one-win Jaguars. Ouch!

20 week seven facts you may not have known.

1. Denver wideout Erik Decker was already on pace for a 70-catch season before the departure of Brandon Lloyd. With Lloyd out of the picture, Decker becomes the undisputed No. 1 WR in Denver. He’s a weekly PPR play and a sneaky start in standard leagues this week as the Broncos face a porous Miami secondary.

2. While the media’s attention is on Tony Romo and Mark Sanchez, San Diego QB Philip Rivers has had his fair share of struggles this year. He only has six TDs and seven INTs already. He doesn’t have a favorable matchup against the Jets, who rank fifth in the league in defending the pass. Now would be the time if you were ever going to sit him.

3. San Diego RB Ryan Mathews is on pace for 2,157 total yards and 10 TDs. He’s also on pace for 60-plus receptions for any PPR players reading. He’s a No. 1 fantasy back in all leagues.

4. In leagues rewarding six points per TD pass, Matt Hasselbeck’s scored 14 or more points in each game this season.

5. After an awful start, Chris Johnson recorded back-to-back double-digit fantasy points in his last two games. The stars are aligning coming off a bye week.

6. We want to doubt him because he’s pushing 30, but Michael Turner’s been arguably the league’s most consistent fantasy RB. The Atlanta thumper has double-digit fantasy performances in five of his team's six games.

7. Matthew Stafford’s thrown a respectable 15 TDs on the year, but nine of them have gone to Calvin Johnson. Simply put, keep Johnson out of the end zone, you keep Detroit off the scoreboard.

8. Cam Newton’s 13 total TDs on the year are impressive, but six of them have come via running the ball. He’s such a factor in Carolina’s goal line offense that he has a rushing score in five of six games. Only a rainstorm against Jacksonville kept his legs in check.

9. This isn’t your father’s Bear defense. Chicago is 25th against the pass and opposing QBs have a 94.9 QB rating against them. Josh Freeman could be looking at back-to-back solid fantasy outings.

10. Matt Forte is averaging six receptions per game, which puts him on pace for a 96-catch season. The last back to catch that many passes in a single season was LaDainian Tomlinson, who caught 100 in 03.

11. From a fantasy standpoint, Colt McCoy hasn’t been that bad. Much like Hasselbeck, in league’s rewarding six points per TD; McCoy’s scored 14 or more fantasy points in each game.

12. Seattle’s defense ranks eighth in the league against the run. More importantly, they’re allowing a league low 3.1 yards per carry. Avoid Montario Hardesty and Peyton Hillis this week.

13. Do you remember when Pittsburgh was too old on defense? Well, they’re first in total yards, first against the pass, and fourth in points allowed. The Cardinals don’t stand a chance this Sunday.

14. Matt Cassel’s thrown seven TDs and only one INT in his last three starts. He’s also averaging 230 yards per game in that span. Oakland’s allowed 12 TD passes and ranks 28th defending the pass. Cassel might be the sleeper of the week.

15. On the other side, Oakland swept the Chiefs last year in large part because of their running game. The Raiders averaged a little over 160 yards on the ground and they did so without Darren McFadden for one of those meetings.

16. Adrian Peterson is averaging only 72 yards per game on the road. At home, he’s averaging about 107 yards. Six of his seven TDs have also come in in the Metrodome. The Vikings host Green Bay this week.

17. Aaron Rodgers hearts dome stadiums. The Packers QB is averaging more than two TD passes per game indoors, including six combined in his last two games in Minnesota.

18. St. Louis allows the fourth most fantasy points to RBs, Felix Jones is out, and the Cowboys are high on DeMarco Murray. I know this looks too good to be true. You should start Murray anyway.

19. The Colts are 30th in the league against the run and their weakness is stopping runners between the tackles. This is the week if Mark Ingram is ever going to produce major fantasy numbers.

20. Baltimore’s defense hasn’t allowed a RB to rush for more than 80 yards against them. In fact, only Chris Johnson and Cadillac Williams have run for more than 50 yards on the Raven defense. Maurice Jones-Drew owners beware.
College Game of the Week
Wisconsin at Michigan State -- This is the last test on Wisconsin’s schedule before the Big Ten championship. The Badgers boast arguably the Big Ten’s strongest offense, averaging over a whopping 50 points per game. However, MSU is only allowing around 11 points per game. Wisconsin can beat you in so many ways, though. Russell Wilson gets the publicity, but RBs Monte Ball and James White form arguably the nation’s best duo. Something has to give in this matchup of conference titans. As electric as East Lansing is, Wisconsin remains the class of the Big Ten. They look like an SEC or Big 12 offense playing in a weak Big Ten.

Wisconsin 31 Michigan State 24

NFL Game of the Week
San Diego at N.Y. Jets -- I mentioned this above, but Sanchez isn’t the only QB in the NFL with problems. Rivers isn’t getting it done in San Diego and I can‘t find an excuse for him. You hear about Cincinnati’s easy schedule, but San Diego’s faced only one team with a winning record. In fact, Minnesota, Miami, Denver, and Kansas City, who are the only teams San Diego’s beaten, have combined to win only four games. I understand this might be against the grain, but the Chargers are among the league’s biggest frauds. Meanwhile, New York is among the league’s most battle tested.

New York 23 San Diego 21

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