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Friday, August 17, 2018

2018 FANTASY BASEBALL STATUS REPORT: CLAY BUCHHOLZ SP ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS

Well this has been one buy low flier that has worked out nicely.  Such has been the case when it comes to the 2018 marriage between veteran starter Clay Buchholz and the Arizona Diamondback as both sides have been surprisingly rewarded with some terrific results to this point in the season.  The latest came Thursday night when the 34-year-old Buchholz gave up five hits and one run in a complete game victory over the San Diego Padres; while also striking out six and not walking a batter.  Left for dead after some truly hideous 2016 (4.78 ERA) and 2017 (12.27 ERA while battling injuries), Buchholz has shown that he retains some of the talent that made him such a top prospect back in his easy Boston Red Sox days.  After last nights outing, Buchholz now sits with the following numbers:

6-2
2.47 ERA
1.07 WHIP
.223 BAA
7.52 K/9
1.97 BB/9
0.99 HR/9
.258 BABIP

Since we are now past 73 innings pitched on the season, Buchholz is moving beyond the small sample size aspect to the numbers.  What Buchholz has really impressed with so far is the spotless control and that is crucial since it was always a problem for him in that area back when he was striking out a bunch of guys with the Red Sox.  Home runs remain somewhat of a red flag and a .258 BABIP is clearly on the lucky side but Buchholz is getting results on a good D-Backs team.  What is also important regarding the control is the fact that Buchholz IS showing his age with the fastball in that his average of 90.7 is a career-low and way down from even 93.3 in 2015.  So it is imperative that Buchholz remains spotless with his control to maintain the good ratios which is certainly not a given but for now, take him on a start-by-start basis given what we have seen. 


2018 FANTASY FOOTBALL PRESEASON WEEK 2 WRAPUP

NFL preseason Week 2 began Thursday night with a slate of games that of course included some key injuries that are worth looking into, as well as important performances of note.

-Green Bay Packers lumbering second-year running back Jamaal Williams had to exit the team's game versus the Pittsburgh Steelers but he said afterwards he believes he is fine.  While we never buy into a player's diagnosis, Williams was moving fine in the locker room afterward according to the team's reporters and team brass didn't make much of a fuss about it as well during the postgame press conference.  As far as Williams and his immediate fantasy football outlook, he is lucky that fellow second-year back Aaron Jones is suspended for the first two games because it wouldn't take much to supplant the former from the starter's role.  While Williams technically was the most productive back on the team in 2017, it was not saying much as he averaged a pathetic 3.6 per carry.  In other words, Williams is 3 yards and a cloud of dust while Jones has true home run ability.  Add in the pass receiving duties that will fall to Ty Montgomery and the Packers backfield looks like one of the least promising in terms of possible fantasy football impact.

-It was at least somewhat disturbing to hear that New England Patriots running back Rex Burkhead is dealing with a slight tear in his knee.  Both Burkhead and Bill Belichick downplayed the injury and said if it was a regular season game, Burkhead would have been out there Thursday night.  The fact of the matter is that Burkhead dealt with knee trouble in 2017 and he always seems to be nicked up.  It is getting to the point where Burkhead simply may not be able to withstand consistent NFL pounding and so his fantasy football outlook is that of a RB 3 to begin the season.  Keep in mind the Pats still have James White, Mike Gillislee, and Sonny Michel who should be close to contributing on or soon after Week 1.

-The Philadelphia Eagles have major QB problems right now as Nick Foles suffered a shoulder injury Thursday night and that tests were going to be needed on Friday to see if there is any structural issues going on.  This is certainly not what the Eagles want to hear from their Super Bowl MVP backup as starter Carson Wentz is still recovering from a torn ACL last November and who himself said it would be "close" in terms of being ready for Week 1.  If the Eagles are forced to go with Nate Sudfeld for Week 1, downgrade all Philly wideouts for the opener.  

-New York Jets rookie QB Sam Darnold was not great but he was not terrible in getting the start Thursday night versus the Washington Redskins.  Darnold did complete 8-of-11 throws for 62 yards but he tossed an interception and also held the football way too long in taking two sacks.  While this is not going to set back Darnold enough to remove him from the running to start in Week 1, he does need a good outing next week to solidify such a status.  

-The Redskins can't get a break when it comes to their running backs this summer.  Just a week after rookie Derrius Guice was lost for the season with a torn ACL, backup Samaje Perine was forced out after his first carry for 30 yards versus the Jets with an ankle injury.  Perine had to soon head to the locker room in obvious pain and so now we are down to Rob Kelley and Kapri Bibbs.  Kelly has shown he can be a RB 3/4 in standard leagues but the Redskins will only have pass receiver Chris Thompson in terms of PPR value.  

-Redskins QB Alex Smith completed 4-of-6 throws 48 yards in his short outing Thursday night before heading to the bench.  This was typical Smith in that he protected the football and relied on short throws.  That puts Jamison Crowder and Jordan Reed in prime position to be very good PPR weapons if they can stay on the field. 
 

Thursday, August 16, 2018

2018 FANTASY FOOTBALL DRAFT SLEEPER: CHRIS CARSON RB SEATTLE SEAHAWKS

Already the injuries are starting to pile up before a snap that even counts has been played for 2018 fantasy football.  Any injury of course at this point in the drafting season will throw the rankings at various positions into a state of flux such as what is going on with the Seattle Seahawks backfield this week.  We are referring to the broken finger and injured hand sustained by the team's 2018 first-round pick Rashaad Penny will miss the next 3-4 weeks as a result and thus also miss out on crucial development time as the kid tries to acclimate to the speed of the NFL.  The flip side to Penny's absence though centers on the fact that 2017 seventh-round pick Chris Carson will now move into the starter's chair and thus, be given the opportunity to build on what was a very intriguing performance both in preseason and in four regular season games a year ago.  Amid almost zero expectations coming into last summer, Carson ran wild as he became head coach Pete Carroll's new favorite player.  With incumbent starter Thomas Rawls quickly getting hurt, Carson rushed for 208 yards on 49 carries (4.2 per), while also adding 7 catches for another 59.  Small sample size for sure but Carson showed good speed and he has been a guy who can both run and catch the football going back to college.  Now that Carson will be getting a chance to start in place of Penny for in all likelihood Week 1, those in PPR formats should especially be interested in where this goes.  Now as far as Penny is concerned, he has a Michael Turner game in that he is a good power runner but struggles to catch the football.  Add in an upright style that could lead to injuries and Penny is not someone I was big on coming into the summer.  Carson meanwhile should be bumped up a few spots on your cheat sheets as we all know opportunity is everything in today's game. 


2018 FANTASY BASEBALL WRAPUP: WEDNESDAY

Dee Gordon:  1/5 with his second HR while hitting .277.  No the home run is not a misprint. 

Brett Anderson:  7.2 IP 5 H 0 ER 0 BB 2 K with an ERA of 3.90.  Got to hand it to the guy for lasting as long as he has and still putting up decent ratios through all those serious injuries. 

Mike Leake:  8 IP 2 H 0 ER 1 BB 6 K with an ERA of 3.90.  It wouldn't be a fantasy baseball season unless Mike Leake somehow against all odds finds his way to an ERA under 4.00.

Jose Abreu:  3/5 with his 21st HR while hitting .268.  Really the only suspense is whether Abreu can hit .290 or higher again. 

Carlos Rodon:  8 IP 5 H 3 ER 1 BB 6 K with an ERA of 2.69.  Rodon is another example of how you should never totally give up on power arms who struggle with control.  If the breakthrough does happen, they become upper-level guys overnight. 

Elias Diaz:  2/3 with his 9th HR while hitting .299.  Memories of Ryan Doumit carrying around catcher eligibility while hitting at a nice clip playing mostly elsewhere are popping into my mind. 

Jose Berrios:  3.2 IP 7 H 3 ER 2 BB 4 K with an ERA of 3.75.  Berrios is getting gassed as well. 

Anthony Rizzo:  2/4 with his 18th HR and 2 steals (6 for season) while hitting .265.  Unless he goes absolutely nuts the rest of the way, Rizzo's 2018 campaign will go down as slightly disappointing. 

Junior Guerra:  6 ER in 3.2 IP with an ERA of 3.73.  Finally the regression is doing its thing. 

Dansby Swanson:  1/3 with his 10th HR while hitting .238.  We are reaching that point now where Swanson may never get much better than he already is which of course is a very bad thing considering where he is at right now with the numbers. 

Starlin Castro:  1/4 with his 10th HR while hitting. 281.  Another nice season from Castro but he can't gain much fantasy baseball value unless he is in a packed lineup to help boost runs and RBI since he doesn't steal many bases or swat many homers.

Kevin Gausman:  6 IP 4 H 2 ER 2 BB 2 K with an ERA of 2.84 since going to Atlanta.  Cole Hamels understands the benefits of going to the NL and what it can do to your numbers almost overnight. 

Hyun-Jin Ryu:  6 IP 3 H 0 ER 0 BB 6 K with an ERA of 1.77.  Never an issue of stuff here. 

Zack Wheeler:  5 IP 3 H 1 ER 2 BB 3 K with an ERA of 3.75.  The Mets got Wheeler out early given the 10-1 score at the time with the goal to preserve innings.  Wheeler himself is in fatigue zone given how he has never thrown this many innings before but at the same time fewer pitchers are hotter right now.

Todd Frazier:  3/6 with his 12th HR and 7th SB while hitting .231.  For a minute you thought it was 2014 with Frazier all over again.

Wilmer Flores:  2/5 with his 11th HR while hitting .272.  Ride this out until Jay Bruce comes back. 

Dylan Bundy:  7 ER in 5.1 IP with an ERA of 4.99.  Been saying since the start of 2017 that Bundy was garbage.  Glad he made my point emphatically. 

Miguel Andujar:  2/4 with his 19th HR while hitting .296.  Remember when we kept talking about Gleyber Torres being the prime Rookie of the Year candidate for the Yanks?  Yeah, I don't remember either. 

Yuli Gurriel:  2/3 with his 7th HR while hitting .284.  Certainly a professional high-contact hitter with a bit of pop that slides perfectly into your UTIL or CI slot. 

Tyler White:  2/4 with 2 home runs (7 for season) while hitting .286.  Well past time you padded this guy.

Evan Gattis:  3/4 with 2 home runs (23 for season) while hitting .240. The joys of being a DH and catcher-eligible. 

Gerrit Cole:  6 IP 5 H 1 ER 0 BB 12 K with an ERA of 2.71.  "Take that Justin.  The trophy is mine."




Wednesday, August 15, 2018

2018 FANTASY BASEBALL STATUS REPORT: THE CASE FOR JOSE RAMIREZ AS MVP

When it comes to annually picking the MVP of the fantasy baseball season, it obviously completely comes down to the numbers unlike in MLB where team records tend to enter into the discussion.  While we still have a month and a half of the season to go, it is quite clear that just a handful of guys are truly worth of being the fantasy baseball MVP in 2018; with one being Cleveland Indians second baseman Jose Ramirez.  Despite a bit of a rough start in April that engendered conversation that the uptick in power he showed in 2017 may be fact have been a fluke, Ramirez has been beyond insane with his numbers across ALL FIVE standard ROTO categories this season as he goes into Wednesday's games with them looking like this:

.305
36 HR
89 RBI
84 R
27 SB
11.0 K.9
15.2 BB/9

Boy those numbers above are just ridiculous and right now Ramirez is the number 1 scorer in Yahoo fantasy baseball which is not too hard to see why.  You can begin the gushing here in the advanced world as Ramirez has uncanny contact ability for a guy who has graduated into a slugger.  An 11.0 K/9 is something you just don't see and the fact that it is paired with a just as absurd 15.2 BB/9 tells you Ramirez is in total control of the strike zone.

Then we get to the power which has been monstrous almost from the start.  It makes it completely foolish that this space and pretty much every other fantasy baseball outlet debated whether the 29 home runs Ramirez hit last season were a fluke.  Obviously he was growing into his power frame and the result is a run at not only 40 but possibly 50! homers to go with 100-plus runs and RBI and his typical .300 average.  Want more?  How about the 27 steals which already is a career-best and is currently 10 MORE than Ramirez had all of last season.  What is funny is that Ramirez had only 2 in April which might have given the indication he was not interested in running but then he exploded over the late spring and summer with 7 in June and 11 in July.  Unreal.

No matter where you look, Ramirez is dominating and he is the front-runner in my mind for 2018 fantasy baseball MVP as we could be seeing a precious 40/40 campaign underway.  While Mike Trout, J.D. Martinez, and Mookie Betts are all having tremendous seasons in their own right, Ramirez is the guy at the top of the MVP leaderboard. 


2018 FANTASY FOOTBALL INJURY WATCH: BROKEN FINGER/INJURED HAND DERAILS RASHAAD PENNY, BIG BEN SUFFERS ANOTHER CONCUSSION

-It was a rough day in the fantasy football world when it came to injuries on Tuesday and the kicker is that there were no games to blame for the key ailments that popped up.  Two in particular stood out, with the first being the news that Seattle Seahawks rookie running back Rashaad Penny will be out for "some time" according to head coach Pete Carroll due to suffering a broken finger and also an overall hand injury during Tuesday's practice.  Penny was the team's first-round pick this past April and the power runner was seen as a key member of the crowded backfield going into the season and he was also being drafted in the early rounds based on that promise.  That can all be scratched for now and so that means 2017 sensation Chris Carson becomes the main guy.  We say sensation when talking about Carson due to the fact he lit things up last preseason as a seventh-round pick and ran quite well in the four regular season games he got into behind a brutal Seahawks offensive line before suffering a gruesome leg injury.  Carson is 100 percent healthy however and he once again was opening eyes in camp to the point he was being talked about as the starter over Penny.  With Carson having pass receiving skills that Penny doesn't possess, he becomes even more attractive in PPR formats.  Myself personally was not a big fan of Penny as he reminds me of Jeremy Hill which is not a comparison you want to be attached to your name.  So for now bump Carson up your cheat sheets and do the opposite for Penny.

-The second item of the day on the injury front was the fact that 36-year-old Pittsburgh Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger went into the concussion protocol after suffering a hit to the head in Tuesday's practice.  This is a troubling development due to the fact Big Ben has had quite a few concussions in his career and he already carries a reputation of being one of the more injury-prone passers in the NFL.  As I wrote about in a separate piece a few weeks ago, Ben's health to a tremendous degree is tied into the production of wideout Antonio Brown which makes the latter somewhat of a risky first-round pick.  As someone who owned Brown when Michael Vick and Landry Jones drew starts replacing an injured Roethlisberger the last few seasons, I can tell you the results were not pretty as the ace receiver dropped down to WR 3 staus on his numbers during that stretch.  So this needs to be watched closely.