Wednesday, December 13, 2017


Now fully past the immaturity issues that caught headlines a few years ago, St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Marcell Ozuna has established himself as one of the more stable OF 2 options in all of fantasy baseball.  While there is no speed to be had here, Ozuna can mash with the best of them as he swatted 37 homers, scored 93 runs, and drove in 124 batters last season.  Add in a .312 batting average and Ozuna set career-bests in FOUR standard ROTO categories.  Unfortunately for Ozuna and fortunately for his prospective fantasy baseball owners, the guy was overshadowed by his more famous position teammate Giancarlo Stanton.  While Stanton will be fought over heavily in the first round of drafts this spring, Ozuna could be had as late as the fourth or fifth round which would be a tremendous steal.  Also the two are now on opposite sides as Stanton was dealt to the New York Yankees and Ozuna to the Cardinals this past December.  In terms of ballparks, Ozuna stays in a prime pitcher’s park in St. Louis and that won’t change any anticipated power output much at all.  Just know that a very lucky .355 BABIP will have to be answered for in a slightly lower batting average this season. 
2018 PROJECTION:  .289 28 HR 116 RBI 90 R 1 SB  



With the St. Louis Cardinals having acquired power-hitting outfielder Marcell Ozuna earlier in the day from the Miami Marlins, the team quickly remedied what was looking like a crowded position by dealing Stephen Piscotty to the Oakland A's.  While the return package is unknown as of yet, Piscotty has proven himself to be a high-contact hitter who can pop around 20 home runs if he stays healthy.  Health was a big problem for Piscotty in 2017 however which allowed the A's to buy low on him this winter.  There is good bounce back upside here though with Piscotty and he should be back on the OF 3 radar in 2018 fantasy baseball drafts. 


In the latest post-Tommy John contract world, the Minnesota Twins inked free agent starter Michael Pineda to a two-year deal worth $10 million.  Like previous TJ victims such as Drew Smyly and Nathan Eovaldi, the Twins gave Pineda a two-year deal to cover the rehab year and then the full-year return the following season.  Prior to the surgery, Pineda was an electric but very inconsistent pitcher with the New York Yankees whose 200-K ability was overshadowed by a massive home run problem.  He is certainly moving to the right ballpark to help lessen the impact on the long ball as Target Field has always leaned toward the side of the pitcher.  For now Pineda has no fantasy baseball value this season outside of AL-only formats since he won't return until August but he could possibly help down the stretch in all leagues from that point onward given his strikeout ability. 


By Michael Wong

Lake Buena Vista, Fla.--Building the super bullpen has become the latest fad around the Major League Baseball given the massive success on that front he last two years when it came to the Cleveland Indians and New York Yankees.  That is why the reliever market has been the most robust so far at the Winter Meetings, with another round of signings and rumors floating about.  The latest was the Philadelphia Phillies reeling in former Tampa Bay Rays reliever Tommy Hunter to a two-year deal worth $18 million after pitching to a 2.61 ERA and striking out 64 batters in 58.2 innings last season.  Hunter gained velocity last season which helped in the vast uptick in strikeouts and he will join the also recently-signed Pat Neshek and closer Hector Neris to give the Phils a very strong back-end bullpen.

In addition, the market for Wade Davis is heating up as the Washington Nationals held court with his reps last night and the Colorado Rockies continue to pursue him heavily.  The Rockies were busy in their own right last night in handing former Indians reliever Bryan Shaw a three-year deal in the neighborhood of $9 million per.  Shaw has always been very durable and for his career possesses a terrific 3.13 ERA.  With Greg Holland departing and Davis not signed yet, Shaw could get a chance to close games as well.

-The Chicago Cubs kept busy in signing rehabbing pitcher Drew Smyly to a two-year deal worth $10 million.  The talented but extremely injury-prone Smyly is coming off Tommy John surgery and won't return until next August which means this is a buy low for 2019.

-The New York Yankees better not take their eye off of C.C. Sabathia as he talked with the Toronto Blue Jays and Texas Rangers last night.

-Nothing doing on the Christian Yelich front as Miami doesn't want to deal him but they will listen.  Meanwhile Marcell Ozuna is a goner and it is a matter of where he goes and not if he goes.

-Danny Duffy is getting a bunch of attention here as the Kansas City Royals are signaling a rebuild.  The Royals have resigned themselves to this which is why they have virtually done nothing with free agents Eric Hosmer, Lorenzo Cain, and Mike Moustakas.

-Speaking of Cain, he and Jay Bruce seems like classic late January fallback options when the other players at the position are off the board such as J.D. Martinez.


Tuesday, December 12, 2017


The semifinals are here in 2017 fantasy football and so let's see who makes the cut in this all-important week of games.

Blake Bortles:  This is aimed at Carson Wentz owners who need to replace the injured Philadelphia Eagles who tore his ACL last Sunday.  While Bortles might seem like an extreme leap of faith, he played well of late and gets a very forgiving Houston Texans defense on fumes.

Jimmy Garoppolo:  This guy needs to be the number 1 waiver add for all Wentz owners and among QB's altogether if you are in need.  All Garoppolo has done is lead a team with one win to two consecutive road victories and showed pinpoint accuracy to boot.  Yes the Tennesee Titans defense is decent but Garoppolo looks like a good play no matter the opponent.

Nick Foles:  At the very least, you can't argue with the weapons news/old Eagles QB Nick Foles has at his disposal in replacing Wentz.  We have seen Foles excel in Philly before and he gets a New York Giants defense that was just torn apart by the previously struggling Dak Prescott.

Mike Davis:  Maybe the rib injury will scare many off but Davis is still the clear workhorse back for the Seattle Seahawks as they move into a nice matchup versus the Los Angeles Rams and their porous run defense.

Theo Riddick:  The Detroit Lions are done with Ameer Abdullah and so Riddick has picked up the slack with some rushing scores and his typically impressive receiving totals the last two weeks.  Push up especially in PPR formats.

Kerwynn Williams:  With Adrian Peterson out again this week, queue up Williams against a brutal Washington Redskins defense.

Dede Westbrook:  Not only did Westbrook see a high allotment of looks from QB Blake Bortles last week, he got into the end zone for the first time as well.  This is one stock that is soaring right now and Westbrook should be aggressively pursued this week.

Randall Cobb:  With Aaron Rodgers possibly due back this week, all available Green Bay Packers receivers should be added.

New Orleans Saints Defense:  Boy do the Saints have a gift of a matchup this week with New York Jets QB Bryce Petty moving under center.  This has multiple turnovers written all over it. 


By Michael Wong

Lake Buena Vista, Fla.--The teams who lost out in the Shoehei Ohtani sweepstakes are quickly trying to rebound and two are quickly standing out here at the Winter Meetings.  The first are the St. Louis Cardinals who are now clear front-runners for Miami Marlins outfielder Marcell Ozuna, while the Seattle Mariners are the other.  The Mariners are jumping into the Jay Bruce sweepstakes to fill their outfield void and those talks are past the preliminary state.

-Speaking of the Marlins, there is hysteria down here when it comes to outfielder Christian Yelich as over a dozen teams have now contacted them about the guy.  This is understandable as Yelich is under team control for another five seasons and has five-tool skills.  Ozuna meanwhile is only under team control for two more seasons and that is why he won't require as much compensation.  

-The reliever market is on fire and All-Star Brandon Kintzler is meeting with the Minnesota Twins today to possibly reunite.  Kintzler was a terrific closer for the Twins prior to being dealt to the Washington Nationals last July and this deal makes sense for both.  Meanwhile, Addison Reed met with the Philadelphia Phillies and Texas Rangers today.  

Connected to Reed also has been the New York Mets and they are very aggressive for relievers.  They have made contact on Tommy Hunter, Steve Cishek, the Baltimore Orioles on Brad Brach (in a Matt Harvey deal), and Alex Colome.  Speaking of Colome, it is almost a guarantee he gets moved at some point as this is modus operandi for the Rays in cashing out when players start getting a bit pricy.  

-The San Francisco Giants are taking a long look at Billy Hamilton of the Reds and also are in on Jay Bruce with the Mariners and Mets.  



By Michael Wong

Lake Buena Vista, Fla.-- The NY Yankees opened up more salary dealing third baseman Chase Headley and his $13 million salary with pitcher Bryan Mitchell to the San Diego Padres for minor leaguer Jabari Blash. The move is a precursor to the Yankees getting a starting pitcher as they are engaged in talks for the Tiger's Mike Fulmer and Arizona's Pat Corbin.

-Lots of laughs here regarding Neil Walker looking for four years. Not a chance with his back problems.

- The Padres are seriously engaged with Eric Hosmer and a deal could be done before the meetings end. 

-The Seattle Mariners are making a decent push for Jay Bruce.

-The Rockies not only are looking to add Wade Davis but also Addison Reed.  


Minus All-World tight end Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots QB Tom Brady picked the worst time to lay a statistical egg on Monday Night Football as he tossed two interceptions and just one touchdown in an upset loss to the Miami Dolphins.  Let's take a closer look at that and everything else related to fantasy football emanating from the game.

-As far as Brady was concerned, his final line saw him complete 24-0f-43 throws for 233 yards with 1 TD and the two picks.  It was as pedestrian a game as you are ever going to see from Brady and it was actually the second straight poor game from him as he tossed ZERO touchdowns the game prior.  No alarms need to be sounded here as the Pats are diving in more on Rex Burkhead of late and his running prowess which has worked out nicely and by now we all now never to doubt Brady.  Roll him back out there with full confidence next week.

On the other side, Dolphins QB Jay Cutler rose to the occasion with his best game of the season in completing 25-of-38 passes for 263 yards with 3 TD's and no INT's.  While no one outside of two-QB formats are presently using Cutler in the fantasy football playoffs, it shows the guy still can sling it.

-Speaking of Burkhead, he has morphed into a touchdown machine since late November and Monday was no different as he rushed for another rushing score (which helped mask an ugly 8 yards for 5 carry line).  Burkhead went all PPR mode though as he caught 5 balls for 45 yards and overall has made good the potential I spoke about back in September when I said investing in the guy long-term was a good idea given the fact Bill Belichick made it his mission to sign him over the winter.  In PPR formats Burkhead is a must-start RB 2.  

The Dolphins have their own new running toy they fully unveiled halfway through the year and it is the speedy Kenyan Drake who rushed for 114 yards on 25 carries, while also adding 5 catches for another 79 yards.  Games like this are pure PPR gold and the Dolphins have to realize now they have a big talent on their hands.  Drake can accelerate very quickly with the football in his hands as we saw last night and his receiving skills are underrated.  He could be a very popular sleeper next summer.

-In terms of receiving, Miami's Jarvis Landry was the star as he caught 8 balls for 46 yards and two scores.  We have not seen this kind of touchdown prowess from Landy in the past but boy has Cutler zeroed in on him in the red zone this season.  A former top PPR WR 2 and standard 3, performances like this elevate Landry to low-end WR 1 in PPR and low-end 2 in standard.  

Meanwhile, the Pats threw mostly to running backs as Brandin Cooks laid a colossol egg with one catch for just 38 yards.  This is why you can't ever try to predict things in fantasy football as Cooks on paper had a splendid matchup but boy did he fail to come through.  The Miami D zeroed in on Cooks with Gronk out of the game and it showed.  It was left to Dion Lewis (5 catches for 50 yards) and Burkead to do the heavy lifting there.  


Monday, December 11, 2017


To say that Philadelphia Eagles QB Carson Wentz was the value play of the 2017 fantasy football season would be as big an understatement as can be made about any player.  Drafted in the late middle rounds off a decent but not great rookie campaign the year prior, Wentz absolutely exploded in his sophomore campaign to the tune of a team-record 33 touchdown passes; including four he threw this past Sunday versus the Los Angeles Rams before suffering the torn ACL that ended his year.  Included with all those touchdowns were 3,296 yards and just 7 interceptions; not to mention 150 rushing yards and two more scores.  It was a nearly flawless year for Wentz and it likely helped get his fantasy football owners into the playoffs in their league and likely to win their wild-card game this past Sunday as well.  Unfortunately, Wentz will now not be there for the semis or the championship round and so at this crucial juncture of the season but things must go on as they say.  That means unless you had a decent backup for Wentz, a search must be undertaken from the waiver wire since trades are not allowed this late.  On that front, a look at the following names would suffice:

Trevor Siemian:  Yes Siemian has been horrid for long stretches this season but he comes off a 200-yard passing day with one score in the team's win over the New York Jets.  Nothing fancy but you won't find fancy on the wire this late and instead look at the fact Siemian gets the awful Indianapolis Colts defense this week on the fast turf in Indy. 

Eli Manning:  Yes the Manning return was not very successful this past Sunday (228 yards with 1 TD and 2 INT) but he draws the Eagles whose secondary has been destroyed all season. 

Blaine Gabbert:  Maybe Gabbert needed to get a fresh start in the desert under QB whisperer Bruce Arians to get his previously laughable career back on track.  Gabbert has played quite well (897 yards, 6 TD, 1 INT) to the point the team is interested in bringing him back next season.  Gabbert gets a decent matchup against the Washington Redskins whose defense has been brutal all season. 

Again not the greatest options but each could work for a week which is all you really need at this point.  Yes the loss of Wentz is as bad as it gets but winning is still enitrely plausible. 


By Michael Wong

Lake Buena Vista, Fla.---Already the reliever market is dominating discussions down here which is usually par for the course given the cheaper cost and less complicated nature of negotiations.  We have seen the St. Louis Cardinals reel in Luke Gregerson and the Chicago Cubs find their possible Wade Davis closer replacement in Brandon Morrow.  Now guys like Bryan Shaw, Addison Reed, Davis, and Greg Holland are becoming popular talking points here.  Look for more signings to come quickly.

-The Marlins have let it be known they will listen on anyone but they are less likely to move outfielder Christian Yelich and catcher JT Realmuto.  Instead they have made it their mission to deal outfielder Marcell Ozuna and find a new home for second baseman Starlin Castro once the deal for Giancarlo Stanton becomes official.

-The New York Mets always earn snickers and ridicule down here for their spendthrift ways and this year is no different.  While they like Shaw, GM Sandy Alderson is not liking the three-year asking price.  Also Reed is not willing to give a discount to go back there. 

-The Boston Red Sox continue to talk with first baseman Carlos Santana's reps but rumor has it they plan a big push for Eric Hosmer. 

-Manny Machado is a big talking point down here as well, with the San Francisco Giants and St. Louis Cardinals as obvious and interested suitors. 


-Cincinnati Bengals QB Andy Dalton had nothing going Sunday as he was pulled early for backup A.J. McCarron as the team was blown out by the Chicago Bears.  Prior to his removal, Dalton completed just 14-of-29 throws for 141 yards with 1 TD and 1 INT.  This is par for the course for Dalton however as he runs very hot-and-cold and can't ever be trusted consistently in the fantasy football world.  The Bengals may also be at the end of their rope with him as their QB as well.

-Bengals ace wideout A.J. Green was dragged down by Dalton's struggles as well as he grabbed just 5 balls for 64 yards.  That was a real letdown as Green had been running very hot of late and especially since these are now the fantasy football playoff weeks.  Be that as it may, he remains a top WR 1 in the semis next week.

-While he was likely on the bench of most of his fantasy football owners, Carolina Panthers running back Jonathan Stewart had his best game of the season in rushing for 103 yards and 3 touchdowns on 16 carries in the team's win over the Minnesota Vikings.  Annually a FLEX/RB 3 given his lack of flash, Stewart should not be suddenly elevated to a higher status moving forward.

-Overall it has been a struggle for Chicago Bears running back (and first round fantasy football pick) Jordan Howard this season but Sunday was a good day as he rushed for 147 yards and two scores on 23 carries.  Adding one catch for 8 yards, Howard showed the ability that made him a popular first round pick in many drafts this past summer,  Somewhat of a mulligan needs to be given to Howard though due to the fact he is facing 8 men in the box on a weekly basis and he should net RB 2 status next week.

-Someone has to catch the football in Chicago for rookie QB Mitch Trubisky and Week 14 saw wideout Kendall Wright be that guy as he hauled in 10 balls for 107 yards.  We have seen flashes of PPR ability from Wright in the past going back to his Tennessee Titan days but he remains a desperate play if needed.

-Minnesota Vikings wideout Adam Thielen kept up his streak of appearing in this space each week as he hauled in 6 balls for 105 yards and a score Sunday.  Thielen actually should have had two more scores but one was a drop and the other was ruled a non-catch after the ball wobbled when he hit the ground.  Be that as it may, Thielen is now up to 80 catches on the season as one of the very best secrets in fantasy football.

-The San Francisco 49ers have their QB of the future as Jimmy Garoppolo has been as good as advertised.  He once again led the 49ers to victory in completing 20-of-33 passes for 334 yards with 1 TD and 1 INT and the future seems very bright here.  In fact those who just lost Carson Wentz for the remainder of the season and are still in the championship hunt in their league need to be all over this.

-Houston Texans wideout DeAndre Hopkins is just ridiculous.  Despite having arguably the worst batch of QB's throwing to him in the whole league the last two seasons, he is almost impossible to stop as he hahueld in 11 balls for 149 yards and two scores Sunday.  When the Texans get back a healthy DeShaun Watson next season, Hopkins will be right there as the next wideout off drafts boards behind Antonio Brown.

-The Bears have to like what they have seen from rookie QB Mitch Trubisky who completed 25-of-32 throws for 271 yards and one score Sunday in the team's easy win over the Bengals.  He added a rushing touchdown as well as Trubisky is showing there is quite a bit to work with here with his arm and legs.  Not a story for 2017 but maybe next summer. 

-Not even an injured hand could hold back Detroit Lions QB Matthew Stafford who shredded the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense to the tune of completing 36-of-44 passes for 381 yards with 1 TD and 2 INT.  While the INT's were annoying, Stafford was playing pitch-and-catch for most of the afternoon and showed he can be trusted next week in the semifinals. 

-Speaking of the Buc's, QB Jameis Winston is becoming a problem for the team and he has been a big one for those who still own him in fantasy football.  Winston was abysmal Sunday in completing just 26-of-38 throws for 285 yards with 2 TD and 2 INT and he showed no ability to read defenses or remain accurate.  A major step back for Winston this season for sure as he has erased any optimism generated from 2017.  In fact Winston is just a product of what has been a team-wide disgrace there that will cost Dirk Kotter his gig.  Count on Matt Ryan calling him right away as soon as that happens. 

-Leave it to Buffalo Bills running back LeSean McCoy to go crazy in the snow again.  The last time McCoy played in the snow, he ran for over 100 yards and he was tremendous again Sunday in rushing for 156 yards and a score on a massive 32 carries in the blizzard.  In what was an instant classic given the weather, McCoy went over the 1,000-yard mark for rushing yards and is showing he is far from slowing down despite his age and high mileage. 

-Those who took a gamble on Cincinnati Bengals running back Gio Bernard Sunday were rewarded nicely as he led the team both in rushing and receiving.  Bernard racked up 62 rushing yards on 11 carries; while also adding 6 catches for another 68.  Unfortunately it may just be a one game deal as Joe Mixon should be able to return next week from his concussion. 

-All fantasy football owners of Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers who are still in the playoffs need to salute the work of the team's backup Brett Hundley who kept the team afloat to the point the All-Pro now can come back with something to play for in Week 15.  Hundley was excellent Sunday in completing 35-of-46 passes for 265 yards and 3 passing scores in the OT win over the Cleveland Browns. Adding 31 yards rushing on 7 carries, Hundley did his job perfectly in now leaving the team back in Rodgers' hands. 

-Rodgers will have a nice new weapon at his disposal in running back Jamaal Williams who was spectacular himself Sunday in rushing for 49 yards and a score on15 carries; while also adding 7 catches for another 69 yards and an additional score.  This was quite unexpected work from Williams who look like nothing but a plodder when given some chances previously but now he is fully in the RB 2 class for Week 15. 

2017 fa