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Tuesday, August 21, 2018

2018 FANTASY FOOTBALL PLAYER ANALYZER: EZEKIEL ELLIOTT RB DALLAS COWBOYS

Last summer during the height of fantasy football drafts, each and every one of us weighed the risk/reward of investing in Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott.  The backdrop, of course, was Elliott being handed a six-game suspension from the league for an alleged domestic violence incident with his girlfriend; which was quickly followed by his vow to fight to the highest courts to have it overturned.  Having seen New England Patriots QB Tom Brady successfully stall his four-game Deflategate suspension for at least one season, the temptation was there to nab Elliott at a discounted rate in 2017 drafts in the hopes the same development could occur here.  Those who ultimately took that gamble lost as Elliott was forced to serve the suspension from Weeks 10-15 which was simply awful timing and only allowed his owners to have him for championship week if they even had made it that far.  Suspension aside, Elliot's on-field production was down from his out-of-this-world rookie performance as his yards per carry average dropped from 5.1 to 4.1; while he saw a dip in rushing from 15 to 7 as well.  In addition, Elliott remains shaky in the passing game as he caught just 26 balls for 269 yards and two more touchdowns.  More and more Elliott is resembling Adrian Peterson in his prime which is an excellent place to be in terms of running totals but the receiving numbers could remain below-average.  That makes Elliott a bit more valuable in standard formats and a notch below "The Big Four" of Todd Gurley, Le'Veon Bell, David Johnson, and Kareem Hunt in PPR leagues.

2018 PROJECTION:  1,427 yards 12 TD, 34 receptions 304 yards 1 TD

Monday, August 20, 2018

2018 FANTASY FOOTBALL PLAYER ANALYZER: AARON RODGERS QB GREEN BAY PACKERS

For what seems like the millionth time, Green Bay Packers veteran Aaron Rodgers tops our fantasy football QB rankings for another year despite coming off a 2017 campaign where he missed all but 7 games due to a broken collarbone.  What kept Rodgers at the top of our list once again, however, was what was accomplished in those 7 games as he threw for a mammoth 16 touchdowns, 1,675 yards, and just 6 interceptions.  So on a per game basis, Rodgers still has no peer in the world of the fantasy football passer and he deserves to go ahead of any other passer in the draft this summer.  Now in terms of the injury possibly scaring some away from investing in Rodgers for 2018, the broken collarbone was of the fluke variety that we can chalk up to it being an unfortunate happenstance of playing football.  Making one feel even better about this premise is the fact Rodgers made all 16 starts each of the three seasons prior to knock away any injury-prone chatter.  Now Rodgers is aging a bit as he turned 35 this past December but when Drew Brees and Tom Brady are still putting up monster numbers at or near the age of 40, that concern becomes less worrisome as well.  Getting back to the skills, Rodgers is a lock for 4,100-plus yards and 30-plus TD's if he avoids injury and don't forget he also supplies the added bonus of around 200 rushing yards and a few additional scores on that front.  The Packers plan to remain a pass-first offense for 2018 and so on skill alone, Rodgers is still the top dog here.

2018 PROJECTION:  4,172 yards 34 TD 8 INT, 289 rushing yards 3 TD

2018 FANTASY BASEBALL STATUS REPORT: GIANCARLO STANTON OUTFIELDER NEW YORK YANKEES

Carbon copy of 2017?  You bet when it comes to New York Yankees outfielder Giancarlo Stanton.  Outside of just a change in locale, Stanton has almost mirrored his 2017 production with the Miami Marlins, from the very slow start in April and May to the power-hitting bonanza we are seeing on a daily basis now.  Stanton's tape measure bombs certainly have been needed as the Yankees are losing players one right after the other of late but Stanton has shown that playing in New York is not too big a chore for him as he goes into Monday's action with the following numbers:

.285
32 HR
80 RBI
80 R
5 SB
29.3 K/9
8.8 BB/9
.352 BABIP

Now it does need to be said that Stanton won't be hitting 59 home runs or go over 120 in runs and RBI this season like he did in that insane 2017 performance (which smelled like a one-in-a-lifetime haul) but crossing 100 in the latter two categories to go with around 45 home runs is still a tremendous season no matter how you slice it.  Perhaps we overanalyzed things slightly in thinking Stanton would sail to 70 home runs since he would be calling Yankee Stadium home but again the fact he gets on base so much and has the best pure power in baseball means the slugger is as good as anyone in the game in those three categories.

It is always in the average where things can get a bit shaky for Stanton given his annual struggle with strikeouts and that has been a problem again in 2018 as his K/9 has jumped up sharply to 29.3. That is up from 23.6 a year ago but Stanton is still hitting over .280 due to getting a ton of BABIP help at .352.  So it stands to reason that without that BABIP help, Stanton is back to being around a .260 hitter he has been for a large portion of his career.  That is the one things his fantasy baseball owners accept though when they make the investment. 

In the end, Giancarlo Stanton has been as advertised.  His power is insane right now and his finish can clinch many fantasy baseball leagues.  

Sunday, August 19, 2018

2018 FANTASY BASEBALL STATUS REPORT: DANIEL PONCEDELEON

If fantasy baseball value was placed on how cool a guy's name was, St. Louis Cardinals hurler Daniel Poncedeleon would be a first-round pick every spring.  While it is fun to say the kid's name, Poncedeleon has some game as well as he has logged a tidy 2.04 ERA while making one start and mostly operating out of the bullpen for the team in his 2018 debut.  Poncedeleon has been so solid that the Cards will now remove the struggling Luke Weaver from the rotation and give Poncedeleon a chance to show what he could do as a starter.  Now in terms of fantasy baseball impact, Poncedeleon had a 2.15 ERA and 10.08 K/9 rate in 92.0 IP at Triple-A this season which continue to speak to the positives here but he also has shown rough control at every stage of his development.  It also will likely take Poncedeleon a bit to stretch himself back out again and so counting on him to help your fantasy baseball rotation down the stretch is not looking like a promising option to undertake.  Then there is Weaver who has been nothing but a monstrous bust this season and reinforces the notion to never again overvalue a pitcher's half-season debut from the campaign prior.  

2018 FANTASY BASEBALL WELCOME TO THE SHOW: MICHAEL KOPECH SP CHICAGO WHITE SOX

Noah Syndergaard meet your brother from another mother.  The news that the Chicago White Sox will promote top power pitching prospect Michael Kopech to make his major league debut Tuesday is one that certainly qualifies as a "stop what your doing and run to the waiver wire" classification and as I have said numerous times in the past, the strikeout dynamo is a clone of Syndergaard in their respective games.  We are talking a ton of strikeouts here as Kopech routinely hits 100-mph with his fastball just like Thor and so going into his promotion, he has picked up an insane 170 punchouts in just 126.1 IP for a K/9 of 12.11. 60 walks in those same 126.1 IP speak to the beyond rough control Kopech has at this point but he has been much better on that front of late which likely swayed the White Sox to give him a look this week.  Long considered a top pitching prospect from the moment he can became a professional, Kopech will likely hit the ground running in piling up the strikeouts but the issues with the walks will hold him back for now in terms of yielding his optimal fantasy baseball impact.  Just like almost every single power pitching prospect to come down the pike, Kopech may not have a friendly WHIP right away but once he does start to smooth out the wrinkles, the overall stuff is so overpowering that the kid can became an ace in short order. 


2018 FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEK 2 PRESEASON WRAPUP

-Already high on everyone's fantasy football sleeper list, the hype figures to only grow for Chicago Bears tight end Trey Burton who went wild in the team's second preseason game Saturday night.  Being used in the slot for a decent amount of snaps which by itself is very fantasy football-friendly, Burton hauled in 4 passes for 45 yards and a touchdown. With fellow tight end Adam Shaheen having been carted off with an ankle injury, the tight end show looks to be all to Burton and rightfully so.  We saw glimpses of how good of a receiver Burton can be when he spelled an injured Zach Ertz with the Philadelphia Eagles a year ago and now he looks to be the number one target of QB Mitchell Trubisky which makes sense given how young passers tend to rely on the tight end.  This could be a real show.

-Speaking of the hype train getting to crazy levels, add Denver Broncos rookie running back Royce Freeman to that class.  Splitting time in the first half with fellow Broncos back Devontae Booker, Freeman rushed for 20 yards on 6 carries and scored a touchdown.  By the looks of things right now, it likely will be a setup where Freeman will handle the majority of rushing attempts, while Booker works on third down to be the primary receiving back.  That it a bit of a knock down in value for Booker in PPR formats but not too much since Kareem Hunt came out on third downs last season and look how many passes he caught.  Right now Booker is making a strong move toward the third round of drafts and count this peanut stand in thinking he deserves any hype he receives. 

-With Delanie Walker and Rishard Matthews hobbled of late, Tennessee Titans big-play wideout Tywan Taylor showed what he is capable of Thursday night in catching 4 balls for 95 yards and two touchdown.  Taylor is really putting together a big summer and looks to be moving toward WR 1 status with QB Marcus Mariota and he having gotten onto the same page.  While Chris Davis continues to get the attention given his first-round pedigree, Taylor seems to be the best bet right now to put up useful fantasy football numbers.

-While it doesn't affect him directly, Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott may be hurt by the injury of Pro Bowl guard Zack Martin who is headed for testing on his knee.  An MRI is being ordered which is very concerning and since Martin is arguably the best offensive lineman in football, his loss can only hurt the quality of running lanes seen by Elliott.

-Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Peyton Barber continues to see his value trend upwards this summer, with the latest being the knee injury suffered by pass catching back Charles Sims Saturday.  With rookie Ronald Jones struggling in all facets of the game this summer and Sims now looking at a multi-week absence, Barber is moving closer to RB 2 status on workload alone.

-The Houston Texans got a bit of a longer look at QB DeShaun Watson on Saturday and they had to look what they saw as he completed 5-of-8 throws for 73 yards with a TD pass to wideout Bruce Ellington.  So far, so good with the recovery from last season's torn ACL and so Watson is seeing his value being propped up even more in the fantasy football community.  There is no question there is a boatload of talent here but the risk remains given Watson's shaky injury past.