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Tuesday, August 23, 2016

FANTASY FOOTBALL REPORT: DEZ BRYANT CONCUSSION REMINDER OF RISK, ARIAN FOSTER MAY NOT BE A GIVEN

By Eric C. Wright

-The concussion suffered by Dallas Cowboys wideout Dez Bryant in practice on Tuesday was a subtle reminder that there is quite a bit of risk involved in drafting the star wideout and not all of it is through his doing.  While the team is saying Bryant will be fine for Week 1, the fact his 2015 was a mess due to a broken foot suffered in the opener and some other ailments along the way speak to his fragility.  In addition, a huge portion of Bryant's impact is tied into the health of QB Tony Romo and we all know that is no given.  When Romo went down with the broken collarbone for the second time last season, Bryant was a virtual non-factor and that is a big thing to concern yourself with if you weight an investment.  We have said to avoid both Bryant and Demaryuis Thomas this season as WR 1 ability wideout who will likely not match what it will cost at the draft table and we stand by that line of thinking. 

-Arian Foster was brutal in his debut with the Miami Dolphins last week as he rushed for -5 yards on two carries but head coach Adam Gase plan on giving the veteran a decent workload in the all-important third preseason game this weekend.  Foster has to prove he can be an effective runner to go with his excellent receiving skills and one thing to keep in mind is that he struggled on that front before tearing his Achilles last season.  Jay Ajayi has not done anything to put heat on Foster though so the latter looks like a decent enough RB 2 in PPR formats and much less in standards to start off the season.

-Breshad Perriman is not going to play in Week 1 by the looks of things and the guy is seriously starting to earn a fragility reputation.  Steve Smith Sr. will likely continue to dominate receptions from Joe Flacco and the Ravens also are well-stocked with good receiving tight ends so there may not be much to go around for Perriman even when he does get back playing. 

-Alfred Morris has been by far the best back for the Dallas Cowboys this season but Zeke Elliott is expected to get a high amount of carries in the team's third preseason game.  Elliott is still likely to start in Week 1 but remember that the Cowboys brought in the still young Morris to get a decent amount of carries so this may not as settled a backfield as one might think.  We have said from the beginning that we don't like going with any rookie back in Round 1 as we have seen plenty of busts under that scenario and Elliott may not be the lock star that many are predicting.  Just remember it was us who said starting in Round 2 to go with the rookie.

-Finally still no word on what is wrong with New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski but either way team sources are saying he will be fine for Week 1.  Keep Martellus Bennett close by. 


FANTASY BASEBALL STATUS REPORT: A.J. POLLOCK OUTFIELDER ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS

Perhaps the very first "BIG" injury to strike down a sizable name in 2016 fantasy baseball took place during spring training and before even one regular bat was swung or pitch was thrown.  In the case of Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder A.J. Pollock, a spring bout with a sore elbow turned into invasive surgery that at the time threatened to finish his season before it began.  This just weeks after Pollock graduated into on average a second round five tool fantasy baseball outfielder and of course coming off his monster breakout in 2015 when he hit .315 with 20 home runs, 39 steals, 111 runs scored, and 76 RBI.  The former first round pick also served as my very best SLEEPER pick of the season and it wasn't even close for second.  Be that as it may, Pollock attacked rehab as best he could and now with September beckoning and league titles getting set to be decided, he is getting close to returning to the majors where he offers some monstrous impact down the stretch.  Those Pollock owners who are still in the hunt for their league title will be getting a five tool outfielder 1 for nothing and already we can see what kind of impact could be in store as he is currently hiting .433 with 2 home runs during his minor league rehab stint.  Pollock should quickly go right back to the leadoff spot for the D-Backs and score a ton or runs and swipe a bunch of bases while hitting some home runs.  Yes it was a rough start but the finish should be good. 


FANTASY BASEBALL WRAPUP: MONDAY

Evan Longoria:  1/4 with his 29th HR while hitting .291.  Best season for Longoria since his early years when he went as a first round pick.  If you let everyone else fight over Josh Donaldson, Nolan Arenado, Kris Bryant, and Manny Machado, and waited to pick Longoria late, you did just as well. 

Xander Bogaerts:  2/4 with his 15th HR while hitting .312.  Boagerts went a bit quiet there the last two weeks but is back on track now.  The power continues to trend upwards but now we have to figuree on how high it really goes.  Is he a 20 home run guy?  25? 

David Price:  8 IP 2 H 0 ER 2 BB 8 K with an ERA of 4.00.  Price is pitching his best right now which is no shock since he has some of then worst BABIP luck among pitchers the first half of the season.  The K rate is at a career-best though and has been at blockbuster power ace levels so it was only a matter of time before his typical dominance returned.  I said it would eventually but didn't think the wait would have been this long. 

Adrian Gonzalez:  3/6 with 3 home runs (15 for season) while hitting .299.  Knowing the narrative was out there that AGone's power was very disappointing, he went out and tried to get them all back in one game.

Corey Seager:  4/5 with his 22nd HR while hitting .321.  Yeah so Seager has been the rare heavily fought over sleeper that has completely made good on all his potential.  22 home runs with an average over .320 is serious star ability. 

Yasmani Grandal:  2/6 with his 21st HR while hitting .233.  Like with Wilson Ramos, I have been an annual booster of Grandal but was hoping the average from the minor leagues would return.  It hasn't and it doesn't look like it ever will as Grandal likes hitting home runs too much. 

Mark Trumbo:  1/2 with his 38th HR while hitting .256.  I mean if the season ended now all Trumbo owners would be ecstatic with the numbers. Anything we get the last month-plus is icing on the fantasy baseball cake. 

Jonathan Schoop:  1/3 with his 20th HR while hitting .284.  Basically Schoop is the second base version of his teammate J.J. Hardy with a slightly better average. 

Anthony Rendon:  1/3 with his 16th HR while hitting .273.  Will always be judged by his smashing full season debut but that outlier campaign needs to remove itself from your mind forever or else you will never evauate Rendon correcntly.  Decent but not great player. 

Alex Bregman:  1/4 with his 4th HR while hitting .229.  Bregman's proverbial light bulb has gone on and it is blinding.  Look out. 

Doug Fister:  7 IP 3 H 0 ER 1 BB 6 K with an ERA of 3.59.  Fister is back to being useful as a good SP 5 arm after his shockingly pathetic last two seasons.  Do what you may.

Carlos Carrasco:  8 IP 4 H 0 ER 0 BB 9 K with an ERA of 3.12.  Staggers the mind to think how dominant Carrasco could be in the NL.  Even in the AL, he is reaffirming his fantasy baseball ace status. 

Carlos Santana:  1/3 with his 27th HR while hitting .245.  I think more lineups like Cleveland's will emerge in terms of putting power guys like Santana in the leadoff spot.  Santana has been terrific with his pop but again the average hurts the home run impact. 


Monday, August 22, 2016

2016 FANTASY FOOTBALL DRAFT SLEEPER: ROBERT GRIFFIN III CLEVELAND BROWNS

 Robert Griffin III a sleeper?  A sleeper endorsed by the Fantasy Sports Boss?  The same Fantasy Sports Boss who has torn Griffin to shreds and almost permanently placed him on the BUST list?  Yes that's me and yes Griffin is a draft sleeper for 2016 fantasy football?  I always have the right to change my mind about a player and I also subscribe to the strategy where EVERY player has value at a certain price.  Now that Griffin's draft price can't get any lower off his spectacularly pathetic performances the last couple of seasons in his disastrous end to his Washington Redskins tenure, the time has come to get back into the game with the still young passer.  I bring up to you the fantasy baseball case of Baltimore Orioles first baseman Mark Trumbo.  As anyone who has been a habitual reader of mine going back ten-plus, years, Trumbo was a guy I ripped from here to eternity during his Arizona, Los Angeles, and especially Seattle days.  While many in the fantasy baseball community liked Trumbo for his position versatility and big power, I on the other hand hated the ghastly average and streakiness.  Fast forward to 2016 and I went the other way on Trumbo as he went from spacious Safeco Field in Seattle to the home run haven in Baltimore the previous winter.  With Trumbo's draft price in the toilet off a pathetic 2015, I was now on board with the slugger given the new home park and very affordable price.  The result has been a massive value as Trumbo has been among the home run leaders in the game as he sits with 36 as of this writing and it was yours truly who got him in the Experts League.  Such a scenario is now unfolding with Griffin who gets the always promising "fresh start" in Cleveland and his preseason play has been very good.  Throw in the fact that Griffin quietly has a very good stable of pass receivers and things look very promising.  About those receivers?  Griffin inherits 2015 breakout tight end Gary Barnride, plus big and talented rookie Corey Coleman who looks like a star.  Also Griffin gets incredible but troubled talent Josh Gordon back in Week 5 and we all know the latter is a WR 1 when he is on the field.  Throw in the emerging conversion of Tyrell Pryor from QB to receiver plus pass-catching back Duke Johnson and you can understand the appeal.  Those in two-QB formats should be especially interested in Griffin and even in single-passer leagues, he has appeal as a top backup.  Get back on board. 


2016 FANTASY BASEBALL ISSUES: KEON BROXTON BEGGING TO BE OWNED

Whne you we reach the point of the fantasy baseball season where we are pushing up on September, a strange phenomenon occurs.  A sizable batch of the fantasy baseball community moves fully to fantasy football due to the poor performance of their baseball squads and as a result, those that are still active can take advantage of the depressed market in picking up players to get them to the winning finish line.  Whether it is new closers, injury replacements, or new hot and young contributors, those who stay true to the league can be rewarded in a major way.  One such player who fits the latter profile is new Milwaukee Brewers outfield sensation Keon Broxton.  With the Brewers having sold off whatever they could leading up to the MLB trade deadline, the team gave Broxton a starting outfield spot during the summer and have been nothing but pleasantly surprised as the former 2009 third round pick has literally hit the ground running as a major steals guy and also has flashed some intriguing power that was highlighted by a two home run game Sunday against the Seattle Mariners.  Going into Monday's games, Broxton has compiled the following numbers:

.250
6 HR
21 R
15 RBI
17 SB

Look at those steals as Broxton has fit right in on a steals-heavy Brewers team and he also has shown some nice pop as well.  The average is ugly due to a very nasty 36.5 K/9 but Broxton is also drawing walks at a very high 15.4 mark which offsets some of that strikeout damage we have seen.  So while Broxton is not going to win your league by himself, guys who come up and make a late difference in a season can help you clinch.  Pick him up where available. 


Sunday, August 21, 2016

2016 FANTASY FOOTBALL ISSUES: DION LEWIS HEADED FOR PUP, NEEDS SECOND KNEE SURGERY

Now we know why New England Patriots running back Dion Lewis has yet to return to practice off his ACL surgery from a year ago.  It turns out that Lewis now needs a second surgery on the knee which will put him on PUP for the first six weeks of the season.  There was no official word from the Patriots about what is going on with the knee but clearly the original ACL surgery did not do the trick for Lewis.  This is a decent blow for those who already own Lewis in PPR formats where his excellent receiving ability makes him a solid RB 2.  The fallout here of course is that James White now becomes a major person of interest as a late round pick and this is especially true in PPR formats.  White can catch the football and he also is a decent runner so there is a lot to work with here.  Also LeGarrette Blount will likely dominate carries as well so his position gets better in standard leagues.  Adjust accordingly. 


FANTASY FOOTBALL PRESEASON WEEK 2 WRAPUP: SATURDAY

-It was a disastrous night all the way around in the Denver Broncos QB competition.  First Trevor Siemian completed 10-of-14 passes for 75 yards and a pick-six interception.  Then Mark Sanchez came on and completed 10-of-17 throws for 120 yards and two lost fumbles.  Those who own Demaryuis Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders needs to be very concerned.

-Perhaps the only Broncos pass receiver that you should target in drafts is tight end Virgil Green who is becoming a big safety valve for Siemian and Sanchez.  Green caught four passes for 57 yards Saturday night and for the preseason has grabbed 7 balls for 83 yards.  Safety outlet tight ends can be quite profitable in fantasy football as we saw with Delanie Walker and his career-year with rookie QB Marcus Mariota in 2015.  While we wouldn't reach for the moon when it comes to Green, his stock if pointing upward.

-Josh Ferguson has ceded the backup running back spot in Indianapolis behind veteran Frank Gore to Robert Turbin.  Ferguson was a bit of curiosity behind Gore since the latter is way up there in age but that has gone by the wayside.  Also it appears as though Gore will once again be the workhorse back for the Colts which means hs is likely to start strong as usual but finish with a whimper due to his age. 

-The Houston Texans might have found a running mate for star wideout DeAndre Hopkins as roookie wideout Will Fuller caught four balls for 73 yards and a touchdown Saturday night.  Fuller is moving up cheat sheets as a result of this outing and his development would also boost Hopkins who will get less coverage if his new teammate develops. 

-San Francisco 49ers running back Carlos Hyde is the clear workhorse back for the team going into 2016 and that was more apparent Saturday when he rushed for 28 yards and a score on six carries as he played almost every down with the first team.  Hyde has had major issues staying healthy though and he doesn't catch the football which means he is very shaky in PPR formats. 

-Michael Thomas caught just one pass for five yards Saturday night for the New Orleans Saints but the rookie still has a nice opportunity as a receiver in the Sean Payton-led offense.  Leave Thomas as a very late round pick however as he doesn't look as impactful as guys like Sterling Shepard and Fuller. 


FANTASY FOOTBALL WRAPUP: SATURDAY

Yoenis Cespedes:  3/5 with 2 home runs (24 for season) while hitting .293.  He's baaaacckkk!  Yoenis has put back-to-back monster seasons together as he has now reached a new level of power and increased average.

Denard Span:  2/5 with his 7th HR while hitting .274.  Span has become a very shaky fantasy baseball play as he doesn't run nearly as much anymore and is losing the battle to injury.  In other words you really don't want to own him anymore.

Evan Longoria:  2/3 with his 28th HR while hitting .291.  The last two years were not great for Longoria but he has earned back a sizable amount of his value prior to the that with his power.

Rougned Odor:  1/4 with his 23rd HR while hitting .274.  Odor went cold for awhile as surely the grind of his first full season is getting to him.  Still we are looking at a second baseman who can hit 30 home runs which is valuable as you can get.

Nomar Mazara:  1/4 with his 14th HR while hitting .281.  Like Odor, Mazara has had a rough second half as the at-bats have piled up and led to fatigue.  Not sure if the power will go much past 20 though unlike his teammate.

David Phelps:  6 IP 2 H 0 ER 2 BB 9 K with an ERA of 2.28.  Phelps looks like an ace power pitcher since he went into the Miami rotation.  He has given up just three runs in four starts since the move began and is racking up a ton of strikeouts.  Injuries and poor control have held Phelps back in the past but he should already be off the wire given the K rate.

Jose Abreu:  2/3 with his 15th HR while hitting .283.  I'm sorry but 15 home runs at this point frm Abreu is pathetic.

Chris Sale:  8 IP 3 H 0 ER 3 B 8 K with an ERA of 3.15.  Few do domination like this guy does.

Alex Gordon:  3/4 with 2 home runs (13 for season) while hitting .227.  That's four home runs over the last five days for Gordon so if you ever going to use him, now is the time to do so.

Salvador Perez:  1/4 with his 17th HR while hitting .257.  Perez is kind of just there now as a non-flashy catcher who was exciting in the beginning with the .300 averages but now not so much.

Ian Kennedy:  8 IP 4 H 0 ER 0 BB 6 K with an ERA of 3.58.  Kennedy is actually having a decent season despite the fact the Royals are already regretting the five-year deal they gave him.

Alex Bregman:  3/6 with his third HR while hitting .238.  The other day I told you to strap up as this kid is getting ready to launch.  Hope you made it tight.

George Springer:  3/4 with his 25th HR while hitting .266.  Springer is one guy who wished the Astros played a 10-game series in Baltimore and not three.

Chris Davis:  1/2 with his 29th HR while hitting .224.  Chris Davis hits a lot of home runs.  Now on to some less obvious things.

Kris Bryant:  2/5 with his 31st HR while hitting .300.  Thinking Bryant is now getting close to passing Josh Donaldson in the fantasy baseball third base hierarchy.

Ben Zobrist:  3/5 with his 14th HR while hitting .279.  Zobrist started out scorching hot, only to settle back into his usual home run rate and average.  Veteran guys don't suddenly reached highs in their late 30's so it was only a matter of time before that happened.  Still Zobrist is not finished yet in terms of being a usable infield option.

Edwin Encarnacion:  2/5 with his 35th HR while hitting .268.  One thing you have to love about Encarnacion is that his home runs are consistent throughout the season.  That is something to be impressed with right Jose Abreu?

Russell Martin:  2/5 with his 14th HR while hitting .246.  Like with Alex Gordon, this is about the only stretch that you want to own Martin after a truly hideous first four months.

Melvin Upton Jr.:  1/4 with his 18th HR while hitting .246.  Maybe the name change was an attempt to push away the horrid memories of B.J. Upton.  It has worked.

Josh Tomlin:  6 ER in 4.1 IP with an ERA of 4.39.  No one has gotten their head beat in more the last three outings than this average fantasy baseball starter.  An average Tomlin always was even when he was pitching to a low 3.00-ERA during the first half.

Robbie Ray:  7 IP 1 H 1 ER 1 BB 13 K with an ERA of 4.31.  I haven't spoken much about Ray this season as his walks have been awful at well over 3.00/9 but the K rate is over 11.00 which is Chris Sale territory and points to how much potential he has.  Ray only has to work through the control to launch himself into a very high level fantasy baseball power pitcher and he reminds me of Danny Salazar when he was working out the kinks.

Cesar Hernandez:  3/4 with his 4th HR while hitting .298.  Hernandez is pretty much just a batting average help right now which puts him squarely into NL-only territory but there is still room to enter into the consistent mixed realm by next season.

Adam Duvall:  2/5 with his 28th HR while hitting .244.  How low will the average go?

Brandon Finnegan:  7 IP 1 H 0 ER 2 BB 8 K with an ERA of 4.32.  I have not been a big fan of Finnegan going back to the beginning of the season but I will say the kid has room to improve and be more of an interesting commodity in 2017.  At least he is showing he can pitch deep into a season.

Felix Hernandez:  8 IP 7 H 2 ER 1 BB 8 K with an ERA of 3.26.  We likely have reached the point where Hernandez is more of a 3.00-plus ERA pitcher then one who was a mid-2.00 ace starter.  Age and injuries doing their thing.