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Thursday, August 27, 2015

FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: YASIEL PUIG REINJURES HAMSTRING, LIKELY HEADED BACK TO DL

Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig reinjured his hamstring on Thursday and is likely headed back to the DL as a result.  It has been a season filled with health woes for Puig who already has spent time on the DL with the hamstring and also has had some other aches and pains along the way. 

Analysis:  Puig is quickly becoming a guy whose shine and hype is almost completely wearing off.  He has not hit anywhere near how he did as a rookie in 2013 and his bad attitude and brittle body are not winning him any fans.  With the season winding down, you can't wait for Puig to work things out.  Cut him loose.


 

FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: DAVID WRIGHT BACK IN LINEUP THU.

New York Mets third baseman David Wright is back in the lineup Thursday after sitting out Wednesday for a scheduled rest day.  With Wright having just returned from missing nearly four months with spinal stenosis, manager Terry Collins has vowed to give his third baseman a bunch of days off early in his return. 

Analysis:  Get him back in there.  Wright already looks to be in fine form, having smashed a monster home run in his Monday return.  There is no telling how long Wright can stay healthy with the chronic stenosis but ride him for now. 

 

FANTASY FOOTBALL ISSUES: FIRST DEMOTION NOW SUSPENSION CLOUDING MARTAVIS BRYANT

At the start of 2015 NFL training camps, there was quite a bit of excitement surrounding second-year Pittsburgh Steelers big-play wideout Martavis Bryant.  The "other" Clemson rookie came into the NFL a year ago without the fanfare of college teammate Sammy Watkins but Bryant surely made a name for himself as he managed to catch 8 touchdown passes among his 26 receptions.  Thus it stood to reason that Bryant would take a major leap in overall production in Year 2, especially in a suddenly very potent Steelers passing offense.  With superstar Antonio Brown drawing defenders away, Bryant would get the single-coverage to become a potential big-time fantasy football receiver.  As often happens though, stories of grandeur don't always go according to plan. 

The first shoe to drop in all this was the surprising news that Markus Wheaton and not Bryant was running with the starters at the onset of camp.  This development was reinforced by QB Ben Roethlisberger when he publicly stated that he believed Wheaton was headed for a big season.  Bryant continually languished behind Brown and Wheaton on the depth chart which soon included the first two preseason games.  Things ultimately came to head on Thursday when it was revealed the NFL had suspended Bryant for four games due to violating the league's substance abuse policy.  Reports indicate the Steelers knew about the looming suspension even before camp began which is why they quickly moved to have Wheaton start.  Bryant vows to appeal but either way this is another major blow to his fledgling fantasy value.  In turn this is also a boost for Wheaton who is in fact primed for a big season in his own right, especially the first two weeks with both Bryant and RB Le'Veon Bell suspended.  If Wheaton is still available in your league, pick him up right away.  As far as Bryant is concerned, I wouldn't blame you if you simply just cut him loose. 

 

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

FANTASY BASEBALL STATUS REPORT: YOENIS CESPEDES OUTFIELDER NEW YORK METS

For a guy who has been traded three times in the last year, Yoenis Cespedes certainly carries some very valuable thump.  So it goes for the mercurial and sometimes bombastic Cuban outfielder who has made himself right at home in his new locale with the New York Mets, culminating of course with his ridiculous 3 home run game last week against the Colorado Rockies.  Whether it was in Oakland, Boston, Detroit, or now New York, Cespedes has shown above-average power and athletic ability that screams out "five tool player."  In addition, 2015 may just be the very best season we have seen out of Cespedes, at least since his eye-opening debut with the A's back in 2012. So with all that said, let's check in again on Cespedes the player as he and the Mets head to what is shaping up to be a big stretch run.

Before we proceed, let's revisit the impressive numbers Cespedes has already put up going into Wednesday's games:

.295
25 HR
81 RBI
78 R
7 SB

Those numbers are the composite statistics from both his Tigers and Mets tenures this season and needless to say, they make the case once again as Cespedes being a low-end outfielder 1.  It is that designation I had Cespedes under heading into the season, down slightly from the high-outfielder 1 I would have placed him in if he had not bee dealt from the Boston Red Sox and offensively friendly Fenway Park.  Rumors of Cespedes being difficult to manage and a locker room diva short-circuited his stay there though and so he ended up in another major pitcher's park with the Tigers in Comerica.  Despite this, Cespedes began the season on fire and never really let up in terms of hitting home runs consistently leading up to his present status with the Mets.  In fact, Cespedes is just one home run shy of his previous high of 26 that came in his second major league season with the A's in 2013.  In addition, Cespedes has once again filled up both the runs and RBI columns due to his customary hitting in the 3-4-5 spots which has made him a very productive bat in three fantasy baseball ROTO standard categories. 

As far as the other two standard categories are concerned, Cespedes' 7 stolen bases is nothing to write home about, especially when you consider he has been caught 4 times.  For some reason Cespedes lost his ability to steal bases right after his rookie campaign in 2013 when he swiped 16 which heightened expectations of him becoming a monster five tool guy.  Since that time, Cespedes has gone for 7 steals in both 2013 and 2014 and of course that is where he is at right now in 2015.  That means the high single digits are where he is as a player now at the age of nearly 30. 

Now for the average.  The .295 mark Cespedes is at right now would be his best mark since again his rookie .292 average.  When Cespedes first arrived from Cuba, there was rampant talk about his free swinging ways that resulted in a boatload of strikeouts.  That in turn would hurt his batting average going forward was the reasoning.  Well that is exactly what took placed after his rookie season as Cespedes hit a horrendous .240 in 2013 and .262 in 2014.  Strikeouts were a big problem in both of those campaigns as Cespedes whiffed 137 and 128 times respectively.  2015 would appear to be some sort of a breakthrough though for Cespedes on the surface as his .295 mark this late in the season would attest.  However a quick peek at the advanced numbers doesn't bear this out.  For one, Cespedes' current 20.5 percent K Rate is HIGHER than the 19.8 mark from 2014.  So why the higher average?  Simply really.  Cespedes BABIP is currently at a very lucky .332.  Consider that .300 is neutral, Cespede is more of a .275 guy than .295 based on that BABIP. 

When you put it all together, there is no denying the fact Yoenis Cespedes has reinforced the idea of him being a prime outfielder 1 in fantasy baseball.  It will be interesting to see what happens with him at the end of the season in terms of possibly staying with the Mets (not likely) or going somewhere else.  We suggest Colorado seeing as how they are rebuilding and clearly Cespedes likes hitting there.  That my friends would be a transaction we would all salivate over. 

 

FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING CLOSER NEWS: TOM WILHELMSEN NOW THE CLOSER FOR MARINERS

Seattle Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon is back at it again in tinkering with the ninth inning for the team, saying on Wednesday that lefty Tom Wilhelmsen is now the closer instead of the fading Carson Smith.  Wilhelmsen has successfully nailed down his two recent save chances and McClendon said he is going with the hot hand.  The Mariners just recently also cut loose veteran closer Fernando Rodney earlier this past week. 

Analysis:  Pick up Wilhelmsen where available as he is having a very good season and has had some success in the past in the ninth inning.  Carson Smith has a good arm and himself was very solid before his recent struggles and he is still the guy like long-term.  However Wilhelmsen looks like the choice at least until he himself hits a rough stretch. 

 

FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: GEORGE SPRINGER (WRIST) TO BEGIN REHAB ASSIGNMENT THIS WEEKEND

Houston Astros outfielder George Springer is expected to start a rehab assignment this weekend as he nears a return from a fractured wrist that has kept him out since the beginning of July.  Springer has had no pain in the wrist upon taking batting practice over the last week and he will do so again on Friday as a last test before the assignment begins. 

Analysis:  It is going to be like the already in first place Astros made a trade for a top outfield bat when Springer returns.  Before the injury, the second-year Springer was taking a firm leap in production, improving his batting average and contact rates, while also really pushing up his stolen bases.  It is only a matter of time before we see a blockbuster fantasy baseball campaign from Springer and 2016 could be it. 

 

FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: JACOBY ELLSBURY OUT WED/. WITH SORE HIP

New York Yankees outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury is out of the lineup Wednesday due to a bout of hip soreness.   Ellsbury injured the hip in Tuesday's game and this follows him returning from the DL a few weeks ago after missing a month with knee issues. 

Analysis:  No matter you look at it, Ellsbury has been an abomination since his return from the DL.  His body is becoming even more injury prone by the day if you can even imagine and at 32 his standing as a five tool fantasy baseball outfielder look finished.  He also is entering into the "avoid" pool for 2016. 

 

FANTASY FOOTBALL BREAKING NEWS: EMAMNUEL SANDERS (HAMSTRING) STILL OUT

Denver Broncos WR Emmanuel Sanders still is not ready to suit up for practice as he closes in on three weeks of missed time due to a hamstring strain.  No updates have been given regarding how much longer Sanders will be out but he will not play in the team's third preseason game. 

Analysis:  Sanders' injury was deemed minor when it first started but he has missed so much time now that we have to be a bit concerned with the season drawing near.  Still Sanders is expected to be ready for Week 1 and thus he will once again serve as the number 2 wideout behind Demaryius Thomas.  It is unlike Sanders approaches the catch numbers he had a year ago as he will be used more in the slot this season and the Broncos will run a bunch more. 

 

2015 FANTASY FOOTBALL UPDATED WIDE RECEIVER RANKINGS

With both Jordy Nelson and Kelvin Benjamin already lost for the season, the upper portion of the 2015 fantasy football wide receiver rankings has changed quite a bit.  Let's take a gander.

1.  Antonio Brown:  Sorry but this is no contest in my book.  Brown was the epitome of consistency in 2014, catching at least five balls in every game for a grand total of 129 for over 1,600 yards.  Could be in play as the number 1 pick in PPR formats.
2.  Demaryuis Thomas:  Flip a coin between Thomas and Dez Bryant.  Seriously.  Only concern with Thomas is another late Peyton Manning fade but otherwise the numbers will be off the charts with the Julius Thomas receptions/TD's up for grabs.
3.  Dez Bryant:  Has a good chance at first 100-catch season since the Cowboys will have to throw a lot more with DeMarco Murray out of town. 
4.  Calvin Johnson:  Tough call here as Johnson is becoming very injury prone since turning 30 and his QB in Matthew Stafford is more skittish than ever.  So far though Johnson looks like his old Megatron self which means fantasy football bonanza numbers.  On talent alone, could still be top dog. 
5.  Odell Beckham Jr.:  Listen I was as amazed as anyone by what Beckham Jr. did a year ago in a truly spectacular rookie season but a few things you need to worry about.  One is that Beckham missed four games with a hamstring and going back to college has dealt with numerous injuries.  He already has sat out almost all offseason workouts as well with another hamstring problem.  Also opposing NFL defensive coordinators have had a full offseason to scout and game plan for Beckham.  Finally Victor Cruz will be back and taking his fair share of balls.
6.  Julio Jones:  There was never any doubt about how great a player Jones is but only whether he could stay on the field.  He did so in 2015 and the results were dominant to the tune of 104 catches for 1,593 yards.  The 6 touchdowns will go up this season as well since Roddy White is another year older.  The injury risk remains very high though so don't overpay.
7.  Randall Cobb:  Cobb moves up a few notches after Jordy Nelson was lost for the season with his torn ACL.  Has a tremendous opportunity to catch 100 or more balls as a result of Nelson's absence if he can avoid the injuru bug himself. 
8.  Alshon Jeffery:  With Brandon Marshall now with the New York Mets, Alshon Jeffery has the number 1 receiver mantle all to his own.  He will be more than up to the task as Jeffery was already a low end WR 1 in fantasy football and 90 receptions for around 10-plus scores is likely. 
9.  Emmanuel Sanders:  Was a pure PPR gem in moving to the Peyton Manning Denver passing attack last season as Sanders caught a monstrous 101 passes.  While Demaryuis Thomas is the clear top TD producer for the Broncos, Sanders could very well lead the team in receptions once again.
10. A.J. Green:  Injuries took A.J. Green out of three games and one he was a decoy in a year ago as his streak of 95-plus catches for over 1,300 yards was snapped.  The Bengals movement to a run-dominant offense is a bit worrisome but Green looks like a fantastic bargain who could be had in Round 3.  Major bounce back appeal. 
11. Jordan Matthews:  Absolutely lighting it up in training camp and preseason games.  I predicted stardom and would not be shocked if we are looking at a monster season on tap.   
12. Brandin Cooks:  With Jimmy Graham and Kenny Stills now out of town in New Orleans, second-year man Brandin Cooks will be the new number 1 guy in the always potent Sean Payton passing attack.  Cooks was on pace for a terrific rookie season before he went on IR with a thumb injury in 2014 but 90 catches for 7-10 touchdowns is very possible.  Best part is that he will come slightly cheaper than Matthews. 
13. T.Y. Hilton:  Hilton is a bit too all-or-nothing for my taste and his value drops in PPR formats as there are a ton of fish to feed in the Indy passing attack.  No one makes bigger plays there though which means Hilton is a big name in standard formats. 
14. Mike Evans:  Evans has a nose for the end zone as that was his calling card as a rookie for Tampa Bay.  Basically Evans is a younger version of teammate Vincent Jackson in that he is not going to be a big receptions guy but will catch a bunch of touchdowns.  Will be rookie growing pains for Jameis Winston though so be careful of what you are willing to pay,
15. Andre Johnson:  Yes my old friend.  I know you don't want to hear me drool over Johnson yet again but hear me out.  Despite being 34, Johnson finally gets to play with a big-time quarterback in Andrew Luck and it would not shock me in the least if he has a Reggie Wayne 2013 campaign in catching over 100 passes.  The value here could be extreme for one of the greatest PPR receivers in the history of our fake game. 
16. DeAndre Hopkins:  If Hopkins had any semblance of a QB throwing to him, we would push him up even higher.  The athleticism is off the charts and Hopkins is set for a significant season even with Brian Hoyer as his QB.  Bump up in standard leagues. 
17. Keenan Allen:  Very disappointing encore performance for Keenan Allen in 2014 but Philip Rivers will be throwing his away a lot, especially early on with Antonio Gates suspended.  Allen's rookie season will likely be his best career campaign but he can be a very good WR 2 for you. 
18. Brandon Marshall:  Geno Smith's broken jaw slightly hurts Marshall in that he can get the ball to his number 1 wideout deep which is soemthing Ryan Fitzpatrick can't do.  Still Marshall has been a beast in practice and preseason games so he will still get his.  Just forget the old days of 100-plus catches. 
19. Davante Adams:  The biggest winner if you will in the Nelson injury is second-year man Adams who moves into the driver's seat as the new deep threat in the explosive Green Bay passing attack.  Adams could be sitting on a big season now that he will have Aaron Rodgers throwing to him more than anyone outside of Randall Cobb.  80-plus catches and 10-plus scores likely.  Ranking him here could even be too low. 
20. Julian Edelman:  Yes Tom Brady is slated to miss 4 games to begin the year but Julian Edelman will be a PPR dominator no matter who is under center.  The yardage and TD's are never impressive due to the short routes Edelman runs but those in PPR can grade him as high as a top WR 2. 
21. Vincent Jackson:  Mike Evans is now the clear top dog in Tampa Bay's passing attack which puts former standard league WR 1 Vincent Jackson to as low as WR 3 territory.  Historically Jackson has been a big TD producer in his career, so the two he grabbed in 2014 look like an outlier.  With a rookie QB though and a more talented counterpart, Jackson is looking on the downside.
22. Golden Tate:  When Calvin Johnson began missing games last season with injury, Golden Tate overnight became a PPR monster.  A fully healthy Johnson could push Tate back down to his usual WR 3 value but the upside is significant as Megatron is getting more brittle by the season,. 
23. Sammy Watkins:  Watkins is in the same boat as DeAndre Hopkins as he has a world of talent but a horrendous QB under center.  The upside is immense but the run-heavy Buffalo offense and remaining QB problems make Watkins dicey. 
24. Desean Jackson:  Never a fan of Jackson's as he his way too all-or-nothing for me.  Feel free to draft him more aggressively in standard formats but Jackson has been a PPR liability for years. 
25. Jeremy Maclin:  Maclin timed his career season well on the eve of free agency and he got his money from the Kansas City Chiefs.  Unfortunately it is a major downgrade in offensive potency as the Chiefs never throw deep and went all of last season without a TD pass to a wideout.  While Maclin will change the latter, the 2014 numbers won't be approached.
26. Markus Wheaton:  All summer it has been Wheaton and not Martavis Bryant who has started opposite Antonio Brown.  Under that scenario, Wheaton could be primed for a breakout season of his own, while Bryant drops.  
27. Roddy White:  White's body is completely betraying him now as he moves down the rankings.  We learned he gets his knee drained perioodically and just recently underwent elbow surgery.  Not good.  Leonard Hankerson looking more enticing. 
28. Jarvis Landry:  Jarvis Landry is a poor man's Julian Edelman as he catches a bunch of short passes but won't do much in the yardage department.  In other words, draft him in PPR and use as a bench guy in standard. 
29. Anquan Boldin:  Ageless veteran Anquan Boldin continues to produce despite being in some run-heavy offenses the last few seasons.  His all-out play will likely catch up with him soon but Boldin still makes the grade as a solid WR 3. 
30. Eric Decker:  We all knew Decker was not going near his Denver Broncos numbers in 2014 during his initial foray with the New York Jets due to the awful ability of Geno Smith.  However he put up decent WR 3 numbers and the arrival of Brandon Marshall should open up some more space down the field.  Remains a firm WR 3. 
31. Michael Floyd:  The big-play ability of Michael Floyd was neutered as soon as Carson Palmer was lost for the season with a torn ACL.  The return of Palmer makes Floyd very interesting again though as he is in play to be the number 1 wideout in the Arizona passing attack. 
32. Victor Cruz:  The gruesome knee injury suffered by Victor Cruz last season opened the door to Odell Beckham Jr. becoming the overnight sensation he was.  While Cruz looks like he will be ready to return for Week 1, he will take a clear backseat to Beckham.  Still Cruz is a terrific slot guy who will have more room to operate with Beckham drawing attention.
33. Allen Robinson:  Tough to remember but Robinson was having a tremendous rookie season a year ago before he went on IR.  The kid has absolutely dominated in two preseason games and is clearly alreayd the number one target for improving QB Blake Bortles.  Very high on this one. 
34. Amari Cooper:  Derek Carr is a better QB than many think and Cooper should get all the catches he can handle.  All rookies should be graded as a WR 3 but Cooper would shock no one if he was just the latest overnight star.
35. Eddie Royal:  Shin surgery for rookie Kevin White makes Royal a very interesting PPR starter opposing Alshon Jeffery.  Sneaky value here. 
36. Steve Smith:  Steve Smith is still going strong with the Baltimore Ravens after leaving the Carolina Panthers organization.  Like with Anquan Boldin, the wheels will come off very soon so only draft as a low-end WR 3. 
37. Marques Colston:  With Jimmy Graham and Kenny Stills sent out of town, there is a lot of football up for grabs which will boost the previously ugly outlook for aging Marques Colston.  Injuries and age are big concerns but Colston could possibly squeeze out one more decent season.
38. Larry Fitzgerald:  At this stage Larry Fitzgerald has slid from being one of the top wide receivers in all of fantasy football to nothing more than a WR 3 who is not even the top guy on his own team. 
39. Nelson Agholor:  The USC rookie has a great opportunity as a starting receiver on the explosive Philadelphia Eagles passing offense.  Could very well lead all rookie receivers in receptions. 
40. Brandon LaFell:  Once Tom Brady gets back, Brandon LaFell will be back to being a major TD producer for the New England Patriots. 
41. Charles Johnson:  The Minnesota Vikings have something interesting here with Charles Johnson who gets down the field in a hurry and has a good set of hands.  Decent upside target during the middle rounds of your draft.
42. Martavis Bryant:  Big dropper here as Bryant's eye-opening rookie season in terms of scoring touchdowns is being muted with the realization Markus Wheaton will start to begin the season with Antonio Brow.  Disappointing. 
43. Mike Wallace:  Wallace is overrated every season and now moves on to Minnesota as his third NFL stop in four seasons.  A terrific deep ball guy, Wallace is best left for standard formats.
44. Torrey Smith:  Smith has made a career out of being a standard league guy who can catch a decent amount of touchdowns while coming up very short in overall receptions.  That won't change with the run-heavy San Francisco 49ers. 
45. Pierre Garcon:  A healthy Robert Griffin III means Garcon could yield some decent PPR action but the 113 catches from 2013 are looking like a major outlier. 
46. Devin Funchess:  Funchess is now the man in the Carolina receiving corps with Kelvin Benjamin on IR.  The big rookie could emnulate his counterpart's impressive 2014 debut.  Rising. 
47. Kenny Stills:  The deep threat moves from New Orleans to Miami where he will get to know QB Ryan Tannehill deep.  Another standard league guy all the way.
48. Brandon Coleman:  Hearing nothing but rave reviews about Coleman in New Orleans camp which always gets our attention considering their need for receiver help.  Could be a crazy value if this pans out.  
49. Doug Baldwin:  The arrival of Jimmy Graham caps what was looking like a decent outlook for Doug Baldwin in 2015.  Keep him only as a standard league WR 3.
50. Percy Harvin:  More name brand than anything he has done on the field, Harvin will play clear third wheel behind LeSean McCoy and Sammy Watkins in the run-heavy Buffalo Bills offense. 
51. Brian Quick:  Did some nice things in catching 25 passes in 7 games for the St. Louis Rams before going on IR.  Gets a fresh start with new QB Nick Foles and has the best chance to lead the team in catches and receiving scores. 
52. Kendall Wright:  Wright has had some nice PPR moments in his still young career and rookie QB Marcus Mariota will look his way often in the short range. 
53. Malcolm Floyd:  Floyd is a big play waiting to happen but he can't stay on the field enough to make it happen consistently. 
54. Deavante Parker:  There are a lot of mouths to feed all of a sudden in Miami but rookie DeVante Parker should be able to make hay as a decent enough WR 3. 
55. Reuben Randle:  When Victor Cruz went on IR last season, Randle stepped up his game and caught a total of 71 passes and 3 scores.  No guarantee Cruz will ever be back to his old self and Randle had nice chemistry with Eli Manning last season. 
56. Cody Latimer:  The rookie was lost a year ago in catching all of two passes for the Denver Broncos but there is a golden opportunity at hand with Julius Thomas leaving a bunch of passes up for grabs. 
57. Dwayne Bowe:  Fading but still solid enough to possible squeak out one more WR 3 campaign for the Cleveland Browns. 
58. Terrance Williams:  With Dez Bryant threatening to hold out, Williams could gain some immense value early on. 
59. Marvin Jones:  A.J. Green will be the guy in the Cincy passing attack and the run-heavy emphasis lately makes Jones an iffy proposition. 
60. Michael Crabtree:  The speed has never come back after Crabtree tore his ACL and now he goes to the Oakland Raiders where Amari Cooper will likely lead the team in receptions this season. 






FANTASY BASEBALL CRISIS POINT: JOC PEDERSON OUTFIELDER LOS ANGELES DODGERS

When a minor league players put up a statistical line of 33 home runs and 30 stolen bases in a given season, the hype meter in looking ahead to his potential fantasy baseball impact at the major league level begins to go into overdrive.  Such was the scenario that unfolded this past drafting season when it came to Los Angeles Dodgers powerful outfielder Joc Pederson who posted that splendid 33/30 line in 2014 at Triple-A which was so impressive that the team guaranteed him a starting spot in the field/lineup for the beginning of 2015.  Once the Dodgers cleared up some outfield space by moving Matt Kemp to the San Diego Padres, Pederson was set to unleash his vast potential on major league pitching right out of the gate.  As a result, Pederson saw his name skyrocket in 2015 fantasy baseball drafts as visions of at least a 20/20 danced in his prospective owners' heads and at the age of only 23, more improvement into the future.  Pederson went along with the immense expectations early on as well, in particular with the power as he smacked 4 home runs with a .298 average in April and than followed that up with an even more impressive 9 and 7 home runs in May/June.  As a result Pederson was selected to the All-Star Game and he even showed off his power in a very good appearance in the Home Run Derby.  At the halfway mark of the season, Pederson sat with 20 home runs and 40 RBI which were incredibly impressive numbers for a rookie.  The .230 average was not so much but being a young slugger who tends to strike out a bunch, it was not a total shock.

Unfortunately as often happens with young hitters, the grind of a long MLB season for the first time and opposing pitchers figuring our weaknesses have conspired to make Pederson as gigantic fantasy baseball liability in the second half.  Things have gotten so bad that Pederson's formerly giddy owners can't even put him in the lineup, so bad is his slump.  For the month of July, Pederson hit a hard-to-fathom .169 with only 1 home run and than somehow did even worse in August by hitting a horrific .122 with 2 home runs as of this writing.  As a result Pederson has been dropped out of the leadoff spot by the Dodgers and he is showing absolutely no signs of getting out of this massive slump. 

So we can say that the grind of a long season and opposing pitchers figuring out Pederson's weaknesses are a big part of the problem but that is not the entire story here.  Pederson has not helped himself one bit with a season-long strikeout problem that now has him up to 142 strikeouts in only 393 at-bats.  In addition, where has all the minor league speed gone?  After swiping those 30 bases a year ago, Pederson has managed only 3 stolen bases in 2015 and has been caught a crazy 6 times.  Clearly Pederson has not gotten down his stolen base timing and we even have to wonder if his speed doesn't translate to stealing bases at the major league level.  Thus looking at Pederson as a power/speed dynamo is not longer an option.  Also with Pederson not showing any signs of progress from his free swinging ways, opposing pitchers will continue to not give him anything to swing at, allowing him to continually get himself out chasing.  Thus there are a vast array of negative issues that threaten to diminish what could be a terrific young career.

Overall from what we can clearly see this season, Joc Pederson is a major work in progress who has a ways to go before he can be counted on now as anything more than a low-end outfielder 2 at best.  IN fact Pederson really is only an outfielder 3 given that he only helps in home runs and RBI and is a major liability in batting average.  We can still be very high on Pederson's ability going forward into his career but the light has also dimmed somewhat overall on his immediate outlook. 

 

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: DEREK NORRIS (WRIST) BACK IN LINEUP TUESDAY

San Diego Padres catcher Derek Norris is back in the lineup on Tuesday after sitting out since Saturday with a wrist injury.  Norris hurt the wrist after getting hit by a pitch but he reported improvement prior to Tuesday's game which allowed him to return.

Analysis:  Norris has hit for better power than expected and up until the last month was hitting for a good average as well.  His recent swoon took a bunch of shine off of his very solid 2015 season but Norris still provides solid value for a catcher 2. 

 

FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: DENARD SPAN (BACK) ACTIVATED FROM DL

The Washington Nationals activated outfielder Denard Span from the disabled list Tuesday and will have him right back into the lineup for that night's game.  Span has been out for the last month with ongoing back trouble that has been an issue since spring training. 

Analysis:  Span is a huge spark plug for the Nats and that could help them get back into the NL East race.  He was having a terrific season in fantasy baseball terms before the latest and I would absolutely pick him up where available as Span can help in all five ROTO categories. 

 

FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: MARK TEIXEIRA (SHIN) BACK IN LINEUP TUESDAY

After missing a full week of games, New York Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira is back in the lineup Tuesday.  Teixeira has been out since last Monday due to a bruised shin suffered by hitting a ball off of it.  Greg Bird goes to the bench and possibly will be demoted eventually as a result. 

Analysis:  Finally.  Teixeira is never a quick healer which makes him owning him annoying but his 31-homer season thus far is absolutely tremendous considering how cheap he came in drafts.  Get him back in there. 

 

2015 FANTASY FOOTBALL DRAFT BUST: PEYTON MANNING QB DENVER BRONCOS

A recent quote by Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning as told to Sports Illustrated's MMQB.com is making the rounds on Tuesday and the fallout is surely making its way into the fantasy football world as well.  I am referring to Manning telling MMQB.com that he no longer has any feeling in the tips of his fingers, which is surely not something any of his owners want to hear as they try to put last December's swoon in the rearview mirror.  Now approaching the age of 40 with multiple serious neck surgeries in his recent past, Manning is as big a fantasy football question mark as he ever has been entering into 2015.  While Manning still put up a very good total of 39 touchdowns last season, his December falloff cost 90 percent of his owners their league title as a calf injury sabotaged his numbers.  For the ultimate month of the fantasy football season, Manning threw only 3 touchdowns with 6 interceptions as the Broncos went to a more run-heavy offense with C.J. Anderson.  While Manning pronounced himself 100 percent for camp, the new hiring of Gary Kubiak has brought forth a more run-dominant offense led by Anderson.  The emphasis on the run will no doubt take a chunk out of Manning's 2015 numbers, as 40 touchdowns and maybe even 30 will be out of the question as a result.  In addition, Manning is still a major injury risk at this advanced stage of the game and any one hit could send him right into retirement.  The issue now with the numbed fingers is also concerning due to the fact that the ailment often corresponds to something going on with the neck.  Nothing has come out about Manning's neck and him having any further problems there but it also is worrisome for sure.  Again one more hit could finish Manning for good so those who do own him should have a top backup like a Philips Rivers, Sam Bradford, or Carson Palmer ready. 

2015 PROJECTION:  32 TD 4,217 yards 16 INT

 

FANTASY FOOTBALL BREAKING NEWS: ANDRE WILLIAMS COULD OPEN SEASON AS STARTER FOR GIANTS

Second-year power back Andre Williams has a chance to claim the starting job to start the season, with the coaching staff publicly citing his improved fitness, decisive running, and pass receiving.  Williams has split work with veteran Rashad Jennings through the first two games, with Shane Vereen operating on third downs.  Tom Coughlin has made it a point to share his belief that Williams has come into camp in top shape and looking much more comfortable as a runner. 

Analysis:  Those who own stock in Jennings can't be too happy about this and honestly it looks like Coughlin is trying his best to get Williams more work.  While Williams will never a bunch of passes, he clearly is the future for the team at running back with the potential for a nice haul of scores. 

 

FANTASY BASEBALL WRAPUP: MONDAY NEW YORK METS EDITION

Break up the Mets!  Any NFL team struggling to score touchdowns?  Contact the Mets who have put up at least 14 runs in each of the last three games.  Things got downright absurd on Monday night on a number of fronts.  Jacob DeGrom got ripped for the first time in forever and the Mets proceeded to go out and hit 8 home runs in winning 16-7.  As a result the Mets deserve their own Wrapup from their game against he Phillies.  It was something to be seen. 

Juan Lagares:  2/6 with his fifth HR while hitting .264.  The Mets are firmly with the plan of using Lagares in the leadoff spot when a lefty is on the mound.  He has done a fantastic job in that part-time role since flaming out as an everyday guy so in deep leagues with a large bench, streaming Lagares is a good idea.

Wilmer Flores:  3/6 with 2 home runs (14 for season) while hitting .265.  And to think the Mets almost dealt Flores for Carlos Freakin' Gomez.  I mean this is Wilmer Flores Superhero who over the last two weeks has heard his name chanted in three parks (Citi Field, Coors, Citizens Bank).  Remember I did a long piece on Flores in March about how he was a decent sleeper at shortstop with his power and decent average.  With a clear mind in knowing he won't get dealt, Flores is a must start right now.

Daniel Murphy:  3/6 with his 10th HR while hitting .287.  No matter how much time he may miss with injury, Murphy always seems to get his numbers.  He is hitting .304 with 5 home runs since the Break and is a tough free agent call for the Mets. 

David Wright:  2/5 with his second HR while hitting .342. Of course Wright hits a home run in his first at-bats since missing four months with injury.  It was only fitting in this fairy tale of a game.  The biggest concern with Wright in coming back from the spinal stenosis was whether or not he could still hit for power.  At least for one game, that seems to be a moot point as Wright's home run was epic. 

Travis D'Arnaud:  3/5 with his 8th HR while hitting .272.  D'Arnaud got the award for the longest home run of the night with his 460-plus blast.  If you extrapolate D'Arnaud's numbers across a full season given how much time he has missed with injury, he gets close to 20 home runs with a solid average.  Once again D'Arnaud is putting himself firmly into the sleeper bin for 2016. 

Michael Cuddyer:  3/4 with his 9th HR while hitting .255.  Again with a lefty on the mound Cuddyer is  a lock for the lineup and he also will man first base with Lucas Duda out which means the next two weeks is a good time to get him back into weekly and daily lineups. 

Yoenis Cespedes:  2/5 with his 24th HR while hitting .296.  Cespedes was the last to get into the power-hitting act among this group but his blast was monstrous nonetheless.  For the first time since he was a rookie, Cespedes will hit for a decent average and also could reach the 30 home run mark for his initial foray there as well.  Talk about perfect timing with free agency. 

Cameron Rupp:  1/3 with his sixth HR while hitting .249.  Rupp is huge and should be getting more playing time against the spent Carlos Ruiz.  Intriguing if he gets playing time in two-catcher formats.

Domonic Brown:  2/5 with his 5th HR while hitting .230.  Brown's career has gone exactly how I said it would after his breakout power season a few years back.  Since he doesn't walk ever and he doesn't make good contact, get used to his .230 averages. 

Ryan Howard:  2/5 with his 20th HR while hitting .240.  Remember when this guy hit 40-plus home runs?  I don't either.

Jacob DeGrom:  7 ER in 2.2 IP with an ERA of 2.29.  More proof that even the most awesome pitchers with the best hair have a bad day at the office.  DeGrom actually walked a guy on five pitches in this one (look up the highlight/lowlight) which added to the craziness of the game.  Nothing to overanalyze here as DeGrom will be just fine. 

 

FANTASY BASEBALL WRAPUP: MONDAY OR NON-NEW YORK METS HOME RUN DEBRY EDITION

Kris Bryant:  1/4 with his 20th HR while hitting .262.  Here is a good debate:  Todd Frazier or Kris Bryant?  How would you rank Bryant with Frazier, Manny Machado, and Nolan Arenado for 2016?  Vote on the homepage.

Corey Kluber:  7.2 IP 4 H 1 ER 0 BB 11 K with an ERA of 3.43.  Kluber's WHIP is 1.02 which is much more indicative of how great he has been this season despite the ERA being a bit high for his powerful stuff.  Some rough BABIP luck early on is mainly to blame and overall Kluber has now solidified himself as a top ten overall starter with massive strikeout ability. 

Jon Lester:  8.2 IP 6 H 1 ER 1 BB 6 K with an ERA of 3.44.  Few pitchers are more dominant once the calendar flips to May than is Lester.  Next season let someone else draft Lester, trade for him at the start of May when his ERA is over 4.50, and than enjoy the Cy Young-type pitching the rest of the way. 

Matt Carpenter:  1/4 with his 19th HR while hitting .260.  In the past it would take Carpenter two full seasons to hit as many home runs as he has in 2015.  No doubt he is swinging for the fences at the expense of his average but at least on the power front, he is fitting as a fantasy baseball third baseman. 

Wellington Castillo:  2/4 with his 17th HR while hitting .254.  The Cubs have been tremendous in finding and developing young talent but they let one get away with Castillo who looks like a 25-HR/.260-hitting top-ten fantasy baseball catcher from here on out. 

Josh Reddick:  3/5 with his 15th HR while hitting .282.  Reddick has rediscovered himself as a fantasy baseball hitter, losing some home runs and gaining in the average department and overall serving as a good outfielder 3/4.  Nothing in his advanced profile indicates Reddick can't continue at this level the rest of the way and in 2016 be a very affordable back end hitter.

Danny Valencia:  2/5 with his 12th HR while hitting .289.  Sometimes a change of scenery is all it takes for a hitter to relax and do his thing which has been the case with Valencia who has hit 11 of his home runs in the last two-plus months.

Franklin Gutierrez:  1/4 with his 8th HR while hitting .299.  This gem of a story continues on unabated as Gutierrez can't stop hitting home runs and offensively producing at a level he has never been at in his career even during his prime years.  Obviously in a situation like this where a guy has been very blah in the past and like in poker, the numbers speak for themselves.  And in this case that means a "ride it out" the rest of the way.
 
Adam Jones:  2/4 with his 24th HR while hitting .285.  At the beginning of the season I told you all to write down in ink that Jones will hit 30 home runs and bat .290.  As easy a prediction as you can get in this crazy game. 

Mike Moustakas:  1/4 with his 14th HR while hitting .274.  Third home run in the past four games for Moustakas but since the All-Star Break it has been the "same old" liability as he is hitting only .218.  This after that shocking .297 first half that was hard to believe considering all the carnage that came before it.  Outlier anyone? 

Kris Medlen:  6 IP 5 H 3 ER 0 BB 6 K with an ERA of 3.10.  With two Tommy John surgeries in the bank, it is hard to remember how tremendous Medlen was just a few seasons ago when he went on one of the greatest all-time second half runs in 2012 (1.57 ERA/0.91 WHIP).  The strikeouts were a nice sign here and Medlen has a chance to reclaim some of that past shine the rest of the season in the K.C. rotation.  Don't trip over yourself picking Medlen up but if you are a bored and you have a spare spot and innings to use among your pitchers, click "add." 

Rusney Castillo:  3/4 with his 5th HR while hitting .305.  Few have been higher on Castillo than this guy but the Red Sox didn't go along with the script here which is part of the reason they are where they are in this trainwreck of a season for them.  Castillo has absolutely tremendous all-around ability that portends to five-tool bonanza production real soon.  A major sleeper entering into 2015, we will go right back with that theme for 2016 given the dearth of playing time this season which will help cap the hype around Castillo next spring. 

Jose Abreu:  2/4 with his 24th HR while hitting .295.  Last season Abreu hit a million homers before the break but the average was a bit of a liability.  Last season during the second half Abreu stopped hitting home runs but went all Edgar Martinez with his average.  The same thing played out this season but in reverse.  If Abreu can just merge the two for a full season, things could get crazy.

Scott Feldman:  8 IP 6 H 0 ER 0 BB 6 K with an ERA of 3.75.  Feldman has been a quietly effective SP 5 the last few seasons no matter the location but I understand you never really want to own him.  As long as you play him correctly in terms of matchups, Feldman won't hurt you much.

Nathan Eovaldi:  8 IP 4 H 0 ER 3 BB 7 K with an ERA of 4.00.  Eovaldi has a 2.93 ERA since the All-Star Break with a 1.22 WHIP which makes ignoring his ugly first half much easier.  He has introduced a splitter which began with his mid-to-late season renaissance and clearly the results speak for themselves.  The 1.44 WHIP is a reminder of how hit-prone Eovaldi has been even this season but again since the splitter intro that has not been as much of an issue.

J.D. Martinez:  2/5 with his 33rd HR while hitting .288.  Now the premier power hitter not named Giancarlo Stanton.  And Martinez hits for a better average.  Just saying. 

Nick Castellanos:  1/4 with his 14th HR while hitting .246.  Castellanos has grown into some power this season but really we can't talk about the guy much going forward given the massive influx of potent third baseman this season which leaves this guy in the dust. 

Joey Votto:  1/2 with his 24th HR while hitting .309.  Really have Votto envy this season as he was always one of my favorite but I turned to toast the way he burned me in both 2013 and 2014.  He looks trustworthy again given that Votto has been healthy and showing no issues with the knee while hitting everything in sight. 

Eugenio Suarez:  3/5 with his 9th HR while hitting .308.  It was nice knowing you Zack Cozart.  You no longer have a shortstop job in Cincy.  Not sure how truly good Suarez is since he has not shown this type of production even in the minors but it has gone on long enough to start generating some hype for 2016.

Brandon Phillips:  2/5 with his 10th HR while hitting .286.  Fantastic season from Phillips who always seems like he knows we have been killing him in fantasy baseball the last few seasons in saying he is far from his past 20/20 star self.  How else to explain Phillips all of a sudden running again like he has?  Maybe he owns himself as well.

Charlie Blackmon:  2/4 with his 15th HR while hitting .292.  Blackmon is heading for 20/40 which is quite ridiculous and no doubt shoving more crow into my face.  Here is a good one going forward:  Blackmon or Carlos Gomez? 

Ben Paulsen:  2/3 with his 10th HR while hitting .278.  Always a good idea to pick up any hitter with a Rockies uniform who comes into playing time as Paulsen started doing over a month ago.  He has been a bit uneven but at the very least you can use him when playing at Coors.