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Saturday, July 4, 2015

2015 FANTASY FOOTBALL TIGHT END RANKINGS: A FIRST LOOK

1.  Rob Gronkowski:  At least for now Gronkowski is healthy and back to his monster production both in the receptions and TD department.  With Jimmy Graham now in a run-centric offense with Seattle, there is no longer any debate over who the top fantasy football tight end is. 
2.  Jimmy Graham:  Perhaps no big name receiver saw a bigger negative drop in potency of offense as Graham goes from the New Orleans Saints explosive passing attack to the run-dominant unit of the Seattle Seahawks.  90 catches is now firmly out of the question for Graham in that offense and he also has an ongoing shoulder problem that could flare up at a moment's notice. 
3.  Greg Olsen:  With Cam Newton once again having a dearth of receiving weapons, count on him looking first and second toward Greg Olsen who is a lock for 80-plus catchers and 5-7 touchdowns.  Better yet, Olsen has the durability the two guys ahead of him don't possess. 
4.  Travis Kelce:  With the Kansas City Chiefs operating the biggest dink-and-dunk passing game in the NFL, the athletic Kelce seems primed for his first 80-catch season in 2015.  Firmly on the upswing but the price will be high. 
5.  Martellus Bennett:  It was a shockingly great season for Martellus Bennett in 2014 with 90 catches which was far and away his most productive pass-catching season.  However the departure of Marc Trestman and the re-emphasis of the run game will likely push the reception totals back down to around 80 this season which is still very good. 
6.  Julius Thomas:  Like with Jimmy Graham, Julius Thomas faces a huge dropoff in QB ability moving from Peyton Manning to second-year man Blake Bortles.  There is no chance Thomas will catch double-digit touchdowns and his receptions were never great to begin with.  Price is still high here though so Thomas is not a great investment. 
7.  Antonio Gates:  Already facing a four-game suspension, you can handcuff the still productive Gates with backup and very capable Ladarius Green and do very well.  The draft price will be much cheaper and in turn quite attractive under that scenario. 
8.  Josh Hill:  Someone has to replace all of the catches lost when Jimmy Graham left town and Hill is in position to do just that.  While he has not nearly the ability as Graham, Hill on opportunity alone is a very interesting sleeper candidate.  Unfortunately everyone else is onto him so the price is going to be competitive. 
9.  Zach Ertz:  The 15-catch Week 15 performance from Ertz a year ago won some league titles and hinted at how good Ertz can be, especially in a PPR format.  He is slated for a much higher workload this season and 70-plus catches is very possible.  Trending upward. 
10. Jordan Cameron:  I am very interested in the severely downgraded draft price of Jordan Cameron this season as only injury knocked his numbers down a year ago for the Cleveland Browns.  Now Cameron is healthy and entering a potent passing attack in Miami which could easily get him back to top five tight end status.  Buy, buy, buy. 
11. Owen Daniels:  Daniels inherits the Julius Thomas role in the Denver Broncos passing attack but the veteran has never been a big TD guy.  Guard against overpaying here as Daniels is not anywhere near the athlete Thomas is. 
12. Jason Witten:  A longtime favorite of this site, we do have to admit that perennial PPR monster Jason Witten is declining sharply.  Witten's past receiving numbers dropped for the third straight year in 2014 which is a clear trend.  The only caveat is that the Dallas Cowboys will likely throw more in 2015 which could ensure a small uptick in receptions this season. 
13. Delanie Walker:  Walker is a good but not great fantasy football tight end.  He has been the victim of terrible QB play in his career but the ceiling seems to be the 65-catch mark which again is good but not great. 
14. Larry Donnell:  It looked like Larry Donnell would be the tight end breakout of 2014 as he went wild in September.  However the sudden rise to stardom of Odell Beckham Jr. negated Donnell's effectiveness to the point he is not looking like a backup guy. 
15. Jordan Reed:  The receiving ability is not in question here for Jordan Reed but instead his inability to stay healthy.  If Reed can somehow scratch out 14 games, he could easily be a top ten guy.  Upside play for the bench. 
16. Coby Fleener:  Tough to depend on any Indianapolis Colts tight end due to the massive amount of pass reception sharing involving their group and the wideouts.  Fleener had a very good season in 2014 but Dwayne Allen is back to siphon some work away from his bottom line. 
17. Mychal Rivera:  Derek Carr looks like a player and Mychal Rivera has very good hands that can translate to weekly fantasy football usage in 2015.  Another late round upside option. 
18. Heath Miller:  Old veteran Miller is always there for bye week usage but that is where his value ceases. 
19. Tyler Eifert:  After missing the entire 2014 season outside of some snaps in Week1, Eifert is back with no competition for the starting spot on the Cincinnati Bengals.  The Notre Dame tight end pedigree is strong and Eifert was a high draft pick for a reason. 
20. Vernon Davis:  As vastly an overrated tight end the last few seasons, the super-athletic Davis is now known more for his physical ability than what he does as a receiver. 
21. Jace Amaro:  Amaro was a terrific receiver in college but he did next-to-nothing as a 2014 rookie.  Count on some improvement from Amaro this season but his QB situation is bleak. 
22. Kyle Rudolph:  Rudolph has shown a nose for the end zone but his health has been disastrous the last two seasons.  Tough to depend on. 
23. Charles Clay:  The Buffalo Bills grossly overpaid for Charles Clay who is another decent but not fantasy football-worthy receiver. 
24. Dwayne Allen:  Has now lost the starting tight end spot in Indy to Coby Fleener which alone makes Dwayne Allen a guy to pass by in your draft. 
25. Jared Cook:  Has shown flashes of ability but zero consistency in his career. 

There you have it.  As always let us know what you think. 


 

FANTASY BASEBALL INJURY FALLOUT: MIGUEL CABRERA OUT SIX WEEKS WITH GRADE 3 CALF STRAIN

Detroit Tigers 1B Miguel Cabrera was considered the slam dunk number 2 fantasy baseball bat coming into the season behind only Los Angeles Angels outfielder Mike Trout.  Long proven as a dominant home run/RBI/average guy, Cabrera remained in his prime going into 2015 and was expected to be a monster producer while holding down first and third base eligibility.  Now just days after Miami Marlins slugger and fellow early first round outfielder Giancarlo Stanton was lost for six weeks with a broken hand, Cabrera joins him on the DL for the same time period with a Grade 3 hamstring strain.  That timeline will have Cabrera returning sometimes toward the end of August and thus likely turn his team into a trade deadline seller instead of buyer.  The loss of Cabrera is obviously off the charts as he was hitting .350 with 15 home runs and 54 RBI as he firmly reestablished himself as the top two bat he was before his power leveled off a bit a season ago due to injury.  Whether you had Cabrera at first or third base, his loss is equally tremendous and simply can't be replaced.  Third base has gotten much deeper this season however and first base always has a share of solid bats on the wire due to the depth so someone could hold the fort in the meantime. However the numbers will be a shell of what Cabrera could supply and many fantasy baseball owners' chances of taking their league crown went up in flames due to this awful batch of news. 







.

FANTASY BASEBALL WRAPUP: FRIDAY

Adrian Gonzalez:  1/4 with his 14th HR while hitting .293.  Up to 49 RBI, Gonzalez is one of the very best RBI men in all of fantasy baseball which is a stat not to be overlooked.  We all tend to focus way too much on average and home runs while ignoring runs and RBI rate.  All categories are equal and Gonzalez always gets his 100 RBI with a solid average and home run totals.  Add tremendous durability and Gonzalez remains a locked-in top 5-7 fantasy baseball first baseman for another season. 

Noah Syndegaard:  6 IP 2 H 1 ER 2 BB 6 K with an ERA of 3.38.  The New York Mets rotation is sick and will be a force for a long time as everyone throws 95-plus and rack up a tremendous amount of K's.  Jury is still a bit out on how good Noah Syndegaard can be in relation to Matt Harvey and Jacob DeGrom but power stuff is tremendous and the control better than expected 

Clayton Kershaw:  7 IP 5 H 1 ER 2 BB 7 K with an ERA of 3.08.  Kershaw has been his typical brilliant self a 2.16 ERA in June after uncharacteristically elevated 3.73 and 3.97 marks in April and May.  Nothing ever came out physically in terms of why Kershaw was so hittable by his Cy Young standards the first two months but nothing to worry about now obviously.

Charlie Blackmon:  1/4 with his 11th HR while hitting .269.  Blackmon has done nothing but improve on the breakout season he had in 2014, running aggressively all year on the bases and swatting a higher rate of home runs.  I didn't think there was another level to Blackmon after his rates tailed off after May of last year but obviously have been wrong.  Yes he has fully made his way into outfielder 1 territory. 

Logan Morrison:  1/5 with his 10th HR while hitting .243.  Morrison has held onto the leadoff spot for the Seattle Mariners despite not being a perfect fit there.  We will gladly take the extra at-bats however as Morrison's power plays well in all formats. 

Nelson Cruz:  2/5 with his 21st HR while hitting .305.  Cruz has managed to hold onto the .300 average into July to go with all of his usual power.  Safeco Field nor any other park has been much of a challenge for a full Cruz swing but keep in mind his average was around the same area code a year ago before tailing off from July on. 

Brad Miller:  2/4 with his 8th HR while hitting .242.  Second home run in a week for Miller who has been a guy I have found interesting over the last few years but his .300 averages from the minor leagues have not made the journey to the majors which makes him more of an AL-only guy.

Juan Uribe:  1/4 with his 7th HR while hitting .279.  Uribe is that classic veteran guy who needed a change of scenery to unlock some old hits and home runs which has been the case since his move to Atlanta.  When Uribe gets into a groove, he tends to stay hot for awhile so I would continue usiign religiously in NL-only formats and deeper leagues. 

Julio Teheran:  7 IP 7 H 0 ER 3 BB 4 K with an ERA of 4.60.  Teheran has been a big mystery to me this season as I expected more of the 2014 version but obviously he has been a tremendous disaster.  The velocity is down a bit and the hit rate skyrocketed so Teheran likely is panicking a bit with the slightly diminished radar readings which has elevated his stuff.  Either way it has not been good and we are back to the drawing board here. 

Garrett Richards:  7.2 IP 6 H 1 ER 1 BB 6 K with an ERA of 3.35.  Richards has been in the middle of a nice stretch of starts lately but still a shade or two below his 2014 levels when he finally unleashed his 98-mph fastball to its optimum success.  Still as long as the walks remain at bay which was the biggest problem in the past for Richards, he should continue serving as a rock solid SP 2. 

Jose Abreu:  1/4 with his 14th HR while hitting .291.  I bet you can get Abreu in a trade at the cheapest rate since he started swatting home runs en masse a year ago due to the idea he has been a "disappointment."  I put the word disappointment in quotes because Abreu has still been very good but everyone who invested here expected the moon or at least to be in step with Paul Goldschmidt minus the steals.  Can't ever argue with a guy who is hitting nearly .300 with a rate of 28-30 home runs but again the thought was Abreu would only go forward, despite the long history of sophomore step back in hitting rates as opposing pitchers fine tune scouting reports on their tendencies. 

John Danks:  7 IP 5 H 0 ER 2 BB 5 K with an ERA of 4.95.  Congratulations John Danks.  You still are garbage. 

Jedd Gyorko:  2/4 with his third HR while hitting .216. Gyorko is back from the minor leagues but this is such an incredibly old fantasy baseball story that should only continue collecting dust.  The guy just can't hit. 

Michael Wacha:  7 IP 5 H 1 ER 1 BB 6 K with an ERA of 2.66.  While the innings continue to climb into fatigue territory, Wacha is showing no signs of slowing down one bit.  If there is one guy I would continue to hold through approaching high innings in relation to missing time a year ago, I would have to say Wacha given how he doesn't rely on velocity as much as a Michael Pineda, Matt Harvey, or Scott Kazmir in a similar deal. 

Brian McCann:  1/5 with his 13th HR while hitting .264.  Classic case of a guy getting comfortable the second season in a row in a new league.  McCann will not ever hit even .280 again but the power has shot back up now that he has figured out his AL-pitching foes.  Whereas catching has been a disaster once again this season, McCann has been the rare dependable guy.

Mark Teixeira:  2/5 with his 20th HR while hitting .245.  Health seems to be the clear common denominator for Teixeira who has salvaged his career this season with power not seen since his Texas Rangers days.  Like with McCann, the average will never come back to even respectable levels but Teixeira has more than proven like with Albert Pujols that his power swing is working just fine.  Again another example of how age takes the power. 

Chris Archer:  6.2 IP 3 H 0 ER 3 BB 8 K with an ERA of 2.18.  Still need to see Archer finish the season strongly to proclaim him a fantasy baseball ace but he has become the new James Shields with the Rays. 

Masahiro Tanaka:  6 IP 6 H 3 ER 1 BB 5 K with an ERA of 3.94.  This was much better for Tanka who had an ERA north of 9.00 in his last two starts.  The K's remain on an inning per basis and no home runs was the key in this one.  We all know the story which has been repeated way too much but still firmly applies.  If you are a Tanaka owner, the guy has zero value due to the elbow fears so you might as well ride him out. 

Brandon Moss:  1/4 with his 14th HR while hitting .230.  Get Moss into your lineup as his home run swing is in full working order for the time being.  Typical scenario here with these pure power hitters like Moss.  Ride it out until the homers dry up.

Andrew McCutchen:  1/2 with his 10th HR while hitting .296.  Right now it is salvage mode for McCutchen who needs to do whatever he can the second half to overcome his very disappointing first half.  There is that word again.  While Jose Abreu owners are overreacting to that word, anyone who owns McCutchen has every right to express that sentiment.  Still despite all this, McCutchen is hitting .300 and stole a base the other day which could be an indication he is feeling spry again.

Carlos Gomez:  3/5 with his sixth HR while hitting .271.  First home run forever for Gomez who has been hobbled all season.  When you are build on speed like Gomez and have a bum hip, trouble lies ahead.  Like with Andrew McCutchen, the first round numbers are far from being there and we are in salvage time now.

Aramis Ramirez:  1/3 with his 10th HR while hitting .234.  The average is creeping up and Ramirez is still on his late range of 20 so he is becoming a bit interesting now, especially in NL-only. 

Mike Fiers:  7 IP 3 H 0 ER 2 BB 2 K with an ERA of 3.83.  Typical Fiers in that no one cares now and he is suddenly pitching well.  Than you pick him up and he craps all over your ERA and WHIP.  Rinse and repeat. 

Buster Posey:  1/4 with his 14th HR while hitting .304.  So funny how guys slam home runs a game or two after getting hurt without hitting the DL.  Posey doubled on that premise. 

Gio Gonzalez:  7 IP 5 H 1 ER 0 BB 6 K with an ERA of 4.16.  Gonzalez has been decent lately after his pathetic first half but the wounds are still deep for anyone who had him on their roster earlier in the season.  The arm was too good to continue struggling the way Gonzalez was but the lack of control always makes him more risky than other guys around his talent range. 

 

Friday, July 3, 2015

FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: MIGUEL CABRERA EXITS WITH HAMSTRING INJURY

Detroit Tigers 1B Miguel Cabrera was forced out of the team's game Friday night with an apparent hamstring injury.  Cabrera pulled up lame while running to second base in the fourth inning and he was in very noticeable pain as the trainer came out of the dugout.  He quickly was helped off the field and went to the locker room for testing. 

Analysis:  Not good.  A hamstring injury is almost always a DL stint and Cabrera was in enough obvious pain that this seems like his destiny.  His loss is as big as it gets on par with Mike Trout or Giancarlo Stanton being out with injury.  Stay tuned for an update but start preparing for the worst. 

 

2015 FANTASY FOOTBALL ISSUES: 4-GAME BAN FOR ANTONIO GATES MAJOR SETBACK FOR TIGHT ENDS

The 2015 fantasy football season is still a full two months away but already a big news item came down the pike Thursday in the form of a four-game suspension for San Diego Chargers All-Pro tight end Antonio Gates.  Coming off one of his better seasons in 2014 when he grabbed 69 balls for 821 yards and 12 touchdowns, Gates was firmly in the top 5-7 realms of fantasy football tight ends entering the fall.  Now that Gates violated the PED policy, his first game won't come until October.  The reverberations are significant as tight end remains a very top-heavy position for fantasy football and removing a full month of production from a guy as potent as Gates is a big blow.  The draft price will sink greatly as a result of the suspension but there is also a decent buying opportunity here if your break it all down.  One can easily draft Gates and take advantage of the value, while also grabbing Ladarius Green who will fill in for September while his counterpart is out.  Green has shown that he has freakish athletic ability for the position and is more than capable of filling the receiving void there in the Philip Rivers-led passing offense.  Gates figures to be his monster self when he does return and the lesser wear and tear of having four fewer games should make his always high injury risk a bit less pronounced.  While this is a bummer on the surface, if you play it right, there is a nice buying strategy involved with this. 

 

FANTASY BASEBALL WRAPUP: THURSDAY

Buster Posey:  1/3 with his 13th HR while hitting .304.  There were some who may have benched Posey after thinking he would sit after taking a shot off the head in his last game.  Of course he would homer because that is how these things go. 

Justin Bour:  1/3 with his 9th HR while hitting .263.  Bohr has been able to continue manning first base for the Miami Marlins and he is hitting enough home runs to remain relevant in NL-only formats but that is as far as this will go. 

Jose Fernandez:  6 IP 7 H 3 ER 0 BB 6 K with an ERA of 4.50.  First start back for Fernandez who showed us his old top-notch control and K/IP.  He also swatted a home run which of course doesn't count but Fernandez will be a major difference-maker the rest of the way as he easily could go right back to his ace status due to how potent his stuff is.  Considering how terrific Fernandez' control has always been, it is likely he won't face as steep a post-Tommy John adjustment as others do. 

Matt Cain:  5 ER in 5 IP with an ERA of 9.00.  Even a lengthy stay on the DL can't interrupt the drastic erosion of Matt Cain.  Top example of how heavy usage before the age of 26 can doom a pitcher as soon as 30.  Sad. 

Corey Kluber:  8 IP 7 H 3 ER 1 BB 14 K with an ERA of 3.64.  Other than maybe Chris Sale, there is not a better strikeout artist in all of fantasy baseball. 

Jake Arrieta:  8 IP 5 H 1 ER 0 BB 7 K with an ERA of 2.83.  Typical outing versus the New York Mets who are the clear number 1 streamer in all of fantasy baseball.  Arrieta is money in the bank as it is but anyone can be an ace against this pathetic lineup. 

J.D. Martinez:  1/4 with his 21st HR while hitting .281.  Seems like every day we are talking about the latest home run from Martinez who is on pace for 40 bombs this season.  Over the last two weeks Martinez has fallen in the ridiculous category. 

Francisco Liriano:  7 IP 5 H 0 ER 3 BB 5 K with an ERA of 2.99.  Liriano has been tremendous once again for the Pittsburgh Pirates as that locale has been his fantasy baseball salvation.  A classic case of the National League serving as a saving grace for a previously struggling starter. 

A.J. Pollock:  2/5 with his 10th HR while hitting .301.  This is when you know a guy is having a terrific season.  When you haven't done a blurb on him recently but yet the guy is still hitting .300. 

Scott Kazmir:  8 IP 2 H 0 ER 0 BB 7 K with an ERA of 2.56.  Some ridiculous pitching performances lately and this one was a thing of beauty.  Kazmir has been rejuvenated since his May injury scare but the two weeks missed only slightly extended his sell window to the first week of August.

Kyle Gibson:  8 IP 4 H 0 ER 4 BB 7 K with an ERA of 3.04.  Gibson is having a fine season but his 4.35 career ERA has a ton of bad memories attached to it.  He is one of those guys who never brings you any sort of comfort in owning and that makes Gibson not worth the trouble. 

Yovani Gallardo:  6 IP 2 H 0 ER 3 BB 2 K with an ERA of 2.56.  Scoreless streak is now up to 29.1 innings as Gallardo is having a ridiculous season despite losing his former 200-K ability.  It is a testament to Gallardo's new pitch to contact approach which is working in Texas of all places which adds to the legitimacy of his work. 

David Ortiz: 1/5 with his 14th HR while hitting .228.  Another home run from Ortiz who is now worth using in daily lineups again, so frequent are the home run arriving now. 

Hanley Ramirez:  1/5 with his 16th HR while hitting .281.  The constant day-to-day injury garbage is more than annoying but Ramirez has been as valuable as any hitter in 2015 fantasy baseball given the shortstop eligibility.  He has blown away any comparison to Troy Tulowitzki and even Jose Reyes and Ian Desmond are way out of the equation. 

Matt Boyd:  7 ER in 0 IP with an ERA of 14.85.  Nothing else needs to be said.  The line score speaks for itself.
 
Max Scherzer:  8.1 IP 5 H 2 ER 0 BB 9 K with an ERA of 1.82.  More dominance from Scherzer who can't be touched right now.  Like with the Paul Goldschmidt-Jose Abreu debate back in March, there has been no comparison between Scherzer and Clayton Kershaw. 

Tyson Ross:  6 IP 4 H 3 ER 5 BB 6 K with an ERA of 3.63.  Well that erases any optimism off of Ross' last start.  Ross just can't get his control in order and has been a complete disgrace this season as he lost all of his 2014 momentum. 

 

Thursday, July 2, 2015

FANTASY BASEBALL WELCOME TO THE SHOW: MIGUEL SANO 3B MINNESOTA TWINS

It took a little while longer than expected but the Minnesota Twins finally called up consensus top third base prospect Miguel Sano from Double-A with the idea of having him be the team's everyday starter at the hot corner going forward.  Universally considered a top prospect for the last four years, Sano would have arrived sooner if not for having to miss the entire 2014 campaign due to Tommy John elbow surgery of all things.  Blessed with uncommon natural power, Sano figures to literally hit the ground running in serving as a home run and RBI asset.  Going into his promotion, Sano had 15 home runs and 48 RBI in 66 games at Double-A with a .274 batting average.  We have constantly invoked the comparison to Pittsburgh Pirates third baseman Pedro Alvarez as the two are nearly clones of one another right down to their hitting profiles.  Like with Alvarez, Sano can hit home runs at a very high rate but also strikes out a ton which shows in some shoddy batting averages.  Sano's K rate in 2014 at Double-A was a very high 23.8 percent and that number will only go up as he hits the major leagues.  Thus counting on an average north of .250 could be asking a lot right away from Sano and that means he is more of an AL-only everyday option and more of a speculative bench guy with upside in mixed formats.  Home runs are something to never take lightly however and that alone makes Sano interesting for all involved in fantasy baseball.  Make the add. 



 

FANTASY BASEBALL INJURY FALLOUT: GEORGE SPRINGER DOWN SIX WEEKS WITH BUSTED WRIST

Updating an earlier item, Houston Astros outfielder George Springer will be out the next six weeks after X-rays revealed he suffered a fractured right wrist.  The Astros leadoff dynamo was on pace for a monster season centered on 26 homers and 28 stolen bases before getting hit as he already showed quite a bit of improvement from his impressive 2014 rookie campaign.  With Springer moving toward outfielder 1 status in fantasy baseball, his loss is beyond significant for his owners.  Alex Presley was called up in his place but he has zero fantasy baseball value and truth be told there is no one on the wire that can even come close to replacing the type of five-tool numbers Springer provides.  While Springer still is prone to the strikeout which keeps his average below the .270 mark, his power/speed ability was tremendous and thus Springer leaves a sizable hole on his owners' rosters.  Obviously if you do own Springer, you stash him away on your DL slot and try to make do with what you got.  Some names to consider who could be on the wire are Shin-Soo Choo, Adam Eaton, Torii Hunter, Avisail Garcia, and Austin Jackson.  No matter how you slice it though, there is no way to replace that type of production for the next six weeks at least. 

FANTASY BASEBALL WEEKLY ADDS: 7/2/15

Here are the prime fantasy baseball pickups for the upcoming week:

Cesar Hernandez:  With Chase Utley looking completely finished, the Philadelphia Phillies have come to the realization that the terrific work being done by Cesar Hernandez is worth being handed the starting second base slot.  Hernandez has been aggressive on the bases with 9 steals and a .276 mark is decent enough as well.  Decent appeal in NL-only formats. 

Marco Estrada:  Despite having some difficulty in his last start on Tuesday, Estrada had no-hit stuff his two outings before that hiccup.  The home run threat is a major worry when he starts at home but Estrada has pitched very well for most of the season. 

Curtis Granderson:  Granderson just finished a stretch where he slammed five home runs in 7 games amid his hottest stretch of the season.  While Granderson has become pretty much just a home run specialist, that talent still is very valuable in today's fantasy baseball. 

Marlon Byrd:  Right along the same lines of Curtis Granderson, Marlon Byrd is slugging home runs once again since he returned from the DL. 

Doug Fister:  Many had already cut Fister loose through his poor pitching and injuries the first two months of the season but he has been terrific since coming off the DL in the middle of June.  Talent was never in question, only health. 

Miguel Sano:  Getting the call by the Minnesota Twins where the top power-hitting third baseman can make an instant impact with his bat.  Big power here but the average will hurt. 

Justin Smoak:  Coming off a two-home run game Wednesday, the powerful Smoak figures to get more of a look where hit bat makes for a perfect match for Rogers Center. 

Garret Jones:  While it seems like Carlos Beltran has avoided the DL at least for now, Jones has been hitting home runs whenever he gets a chance to be in the lineup for the New York Yankees.  Could be a nice addition if Beltran needs to miss more time than anticipated. 

 

FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: GEORGE SPRINGER TO BE PLACED ON DL WITH WRIST INJURY

Houston Astros outfielder George Springer will be placed on the 15-day DL Thursday after taking an Edinson Volquez pitch off his wrist in Wednesday night's game.  Springer will undergo X-rays to determine if there are any breaks in the wrist but manager A.J. Hinch openly expressed worry when talking about his outfielder after the game. 

Analysis:  Uh-oh.  This doesn't sound so good as Springer needs to avoid having a break show up on the X-Ray which would keep him out a month at least.  Stay tuned. 

FANTASY BASEBALL WRAPUP: WEDNESDAY

Johnny Cueto:  8 IP 4 H 1 ER 1 BB 8 K with an ERA of 2.84.  What you really got to love about Cueto is the fact he has been a dominant/high-K ace starter while calling one of the best power-hitting parks in the game his home.  That my friends is the epitome of a fantasy baseball ace.

Mookie Betts:  1/4 with his 9th HR while hitting .273.  The recent resurgence by the Boston Red Sox has coincided with the locked-in hitting from leadoff dynamo Betts.  There was a lot of grumbling early on about how Betts was performing like a sizable bust but those worries have been allayed since the middle of May.  Back on schedule as the five-tool force he was expected to be.

Justin Smoak:  3/4 with 2 home runs (7 for season) while hitting .261.  No one has ever doubted the power of Smoak but instead his ability to be a regular player while putting up .220 averages.  He has improved on the latter front with his .261 mark this season but Smoak is also not an everyday player which lessens the exposure. 

Josh Donaldson:  3/5 with his 19th HR while hitting .302.  As recently as last season we lamented the lack of top-end fantasy baseball third baseman but 2015 has reinforced how Josh Donaldson is a monster hitter, while also being joined by Nolan Arenado, Manny Machado, and Todd Frazier. 

Josh Bautista:  2/3 with his 16th HR while hitting .241.  The average has cratered again despite Bautista continuing to hit for his usual stellar power.  Age is never kind to guys once they reach 35 and Bautista is no different. 

Edwin Encarnacion:  1/5 with his 17th HR while hitting .240.  So not liking what we have seen out of Encarnacion this season as his average continues to lag as he is looking like the kind of hitter I can't stand in the least which is the home run/ugly average specialist. 

Tajuan Walker:  6 IP 1 H 0 ER 0 BB 7 K with an ERA of 4.34.  Since May 29th, Walker has given up 0, 3, 1, 1, 3, 1, and 0 earned runs in his last 7 start as he is unleashing the big potential he carried going back to 2013 on the major leagues.  Walker has the type of electric power arm that screams future number 1 or 2 starter and that is where his numbers have resided since May 29th. 

Robinson Cano:  4/5 with his 5th HR while hitting .247.  There is no salvaging the season for Robinson Cano this late considering how he is off his All-Star numbers by a mile.  He tends to get hot as the season goes on and two home runs in the last 10 days is a nice indicator.  Things couldn't be any worse. 

Nelson Cruz:  2/5 with his 20th HR while hitting .307.  The home run pace has slowed but that was bound to happen as Cruz optimally is about a 40 guy in that department. 

Jesse Hahn:  6 IP 4 H 1 ER 2 BB 6 K with an ERA of 3.35.  Solid but unspectacular s the name of the game for Hahn who won't light up the radar gun but will continually post nice ERA and WHIP numbers.  Hanh has ben fortunate to land in good pitching environments in his young career but the kid has a decent amount of ability that makes hay as a firm SP 4. 

Shin-Soo Choo:  1/3 with his 11th HR while hitting .233.  Third straight game with a home run for Choo but his team thinks so much of him that he batted seventh.  This much stripped down version of Choo is best left for five outfielder formats given the still very good power.

Jimmy Paredes:  2/4 with his 10th HR while hitting .319.  The average is getting even better and not worse for Paredes who continues defying any sort of expectation even his most ardent supporter had.  In fact there were no supporters coming into the season but Baltimore is becoming like the hitting version of pitchers in Oakland or Seattle. 

Wei-Yin Chen:  8 IP 4 H 2 ER 1 BB 2 K with an ERA of 2.84.  The strikeouts fluctuate a bit too much for my liking in innings-capped leagues but Chen is really having a fine season in terms of his ratios. 

Carlos Carrasco:  8.2 IP 1 H 1 ER 2 BB 13 K with an ERA of 3.79.  A thing of beauty here.  This is what all of those who drafted Carrasco aggressively this season had in mind in terms of the monster K's and unhittable stuff.  Things have been a bit too fluctuating at times but since the end of April Carrasco has been dominant more often than not. 

Brandon Moss:  2/4 with his 13th HR and 5 RBI while hitting .233.  Was hoping for an average around .260 for Moss but his high K rate makes where he is at just as much of a possibility.  Enjoy the power because that is the only reason you got involved here anyway and on that front Moss has been delivering. 

Adam Lind:  2/5 with his 12th HR while hitting .294.  This on the heels of Lind going deep the other day as well since they come in bunches for him.  Count on another 1-2 by the end of the week. 

Aaron Harang:  8 ER in 5 IP with an ERA of 4.08.  This is a firm reminder that Harang has his moments but there is a reason he has been with half of major league baseball in his career. 

Brandon Crawford:  1/4 with his 11th HR while hitting .270.  The average is now starting to slip which is not surprising since Crawford has always struggled in that department.  As long as he continues to hit home runs like this however, he absolutely deserves being in there on a daily basis since shortstop has been a disaster this season. 

Santiago Casilla:  blown save with 3 ER in 0 IP with an ERA of 3.03.  Casilla had nothing but leading into it he had been solid so there is no reason to panic.  The 1.35 WHIP is very ugly though so Casilla has had his issues but for now consider this a one game blip. 

Jon Lester:  7 IP 5 H 0 ER 1 BB 7 K with an ERA of 3.74.  Leave it to the New York Mets to help a pitcher get back on track like Lester did in this one.  Again Lester's 2014 was a major outlier across the board from ERA to strikeouts and his old SP 2 Boston Red Sox numbers are his statistical territory. 

Bartolo Colon:  7 IP 3 H 0 ER 1 BB 8 K with an ERA of 4.55.  Colon had an ERA over 6.00 since his big April start so this was a nice sign.  However there is no reason to get involved here as Colon is just too hittable at this stage. 

David Peralta:  1/3 with his 7th HR while hitting .266.  Peralta has held NL-only value for most of the season as he hits enough home runs to remain relevant but he more than anyone else on the team has been a victim of their crowded outfield. 

Brett Anderson:  7 IP 7 H 1 ER 2 BB 7 K with an ERA of 3.00.  Amazing that Anderson has been able to stay healthy as long as he has considering he goes on the DL when he sneezes.  What many forget during all the missed time is that Anderson has a career ERA of 3.62 and in 8 Colorado starts last season that mark was an even better 2.91.  Clearly Anderson still has his stuff which is highlighted by a four-pitch repertoire, excellent control, and a better K rate than you think. 

Kendrys Morales:  1/3 with his 10th HR while hitting .287.  The main highlight with Morales has been the now 50 RBI he totes around as he is in a tremendous spot batting behind high on-base guys Lorenzo Cain and Alicides Escobar in front of him.  By now we need to accept that Morales' 30 home run ability was lost forever as soon as his leg shattered on that fateful May day five years ago. 

Chris Carter:  1/4 with his 15th HR while hitting .198.  Rinse and repeat. 

Vincent Velasquez:  6.1 IP 5 H 4 ER 1 BB 7 K with an ERA of 4.21.  While Velasquez has not had the instant impact that did Lance McCullers, it is obvious that the kid has big-time stuff that picks up strikeouts in a hurry.  Likely a bigger story for 2016 but the Houston Astros seem like they want Velasquez to figure things out with them.  Continue to monitor closely. 

Mike Trout:  1/3 with his 21st HR while hitting .303.  So who do you think could eventually challenge Trout for the number 1 spot in fantasy baseball?  I think Miguel Cabrera's time has passed there but am interested to hear who you think could be the guy.  Post below.

Neil Walker:  4/6 with 2 home runs (6 for season) and third SB while hitting .268.  Once again Walker is there on the waiver wire waiting for you to pick him up if needed.  Was uncharacteristically quiet the first three months of the season but Walker tends to do his best work from July on.  At the very least Walker tried to cram in as many stats as he could in this one to let us all know he is still playing. 

Starling Marte:  4/5 with his 13th HR while hitting .285.  When Marte first came up I talked about how the kid has "burgeoning" power to go with all the speed.  Fast forward three years and that power has showed up in a major way.  With the average now north of .280 and the speed still holding steady despite a small decline, Marte is getting his outfielder 1 diploma.  Marte and Carlos Gomez seems like a debate worth having. 

Pedro Alvarez:  2/5 with his 11th HR while hitting .248.  Alvarez was very excited that his brother with another mother Miguel Sano got called up yesterday. 

Alfredo Simon:  5.2 IP 15 H 6 ER 0 BB 7 K with an ERA of 3.94.  I mean I haven't seen this many hits since Colorado Rockies batting practice.  By now I would just cut Simon outright as he is fading quickly right before our eyes like he did a season ago.  He just can't hold up for more than three months in terms of his numbers.

Jose Quintana:  6 IP 6 H 1 ER 0 BB 8 K with an ERA of 3.81.  Quintana continues to improve by the season, if not incrementally.  The WHIP is a bit high but it has been coming down as Quintana looks primed to firm up his SP 3/4 status. 

Matt Wisler:  5.1 IP 1 H 0 ER 5 BB 6 K with an ERA of 2.60.  Weird game as Wisler had terrific stuff in terms of not giving up hits but the control was pathetic.  This is an SP 5 in all formats and even that could stretch it in mixed formats as his overall body of work is shaky at best.