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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

2011 FANTASY FOOTBALL UPDATED WIDE RECEIVER RANKINGS

Its time to check in on the WR rankings for the 2011 fantasy football season.  These will be the last set before the season begins so lets see how things shape up.

1.  Andre Johnson
2.  Roddy White
3.  Larry Fitzgerald
4.  Calvin Johnson
5.  Hakeem Nicks
6.  Reggie Wayne
7.  Miles Austin
8.  Greg Jennings
9.  Dwayne Bowe
10. Brandon Marshall
11. Wes Welker
12. Marques Colston
13. Dez Bryant
14. Jeremy Macklin
15. Mike Williams
16. Steve Johnson
17. Mike Wallace
18. DeSean Jackson
19. Kenny Britt
20. Austin Collie
21. Brandon Lloyd
22. Chad Ochocinco
23. Vincent Jackson
24. Anquan Boldin
25. Santana Moss
26. Percy Harvin
27. Santonio Holmes
28. Roy Williams
29. Julio Jones
30. Mario Manningham
31. Mike Sims-Walker
32. AJ Green
32. Jerome Simpson

-You really cant go wrong with any of the top four guys but those in PPR have to drop Megatron down behind the other three.  As great as Calvin Johnson is, he has never been a big time receptions guy unlike Fitzgerald, White, and Andre Johnson. 
-It will be interesting to see what happens with White with Julio Jones on the other side.  On the one hand, Jones could open up the field more for bigger plays by White but on the other hand, White could see fewer catches as a result of Jones' presence.  Either way both should be very useful to fantasy football owners this season, with White being as good as you can get.
-Mario Manningham is a name to watch as the Steve Smith void will have to be filled by someone and he is best equipped to do so.  Manningham did some big things in place of Smith last season and he could be a big time guy this season in the Giants' passing offense.
-Austin Collie is one of the biggest risk/reward guys in fantasy football.  If you draft him, make sure you have a good backup.  The person in my league who drafted him backed him up with Pierre Garcon.  Thats the perfect handcuff so do the same.
-I still think Chad Ochocinco is in for a big time year with Tom Brady at QB.  Just remember the Randy Moss story when he came over looking washed up from Oakland. 
-I am really high on Miles Austin now that Tony Romo is back healthy.  He was on a ridiculously good pace last season before Romo got hurt and I expect they will rekindle their chemistry this season. 

Thats all for now.  Keep checking back for more updates as we go through the season.

FANTASY BASEBALL NEWS: MARLINS SS HANLEY RAMIREZ HEADING FOR TESTING ON SHOULDER AFTER LEAVING REHAB START EARLY

Florida Marlins SS Hanley Ramirez was forced out of his rehab start on Tuesday with more discomfort in his shoulder and will now head for more testing.  Ramirez had just gotten back into the lineup after missing the month of August with the shoulder. 

Analysis:  Here we go again with Ramirez annoying his fantasy baseball owners with his injuries and poor play.  He has already dropped out of the first round in my book for next season's drafts and if he keeps it up, he will fall even further. 

2011 FANTASY FOOTBALL DRAFT SLEEPER: GREG OLSEN TE CAROLINA PANTHERS

Greg Olsen comes from a very long line of solid fantasy football performing tight ends from the University of Miami.  From Kellen Winslow Jr. to Jeremy Shockey, Olsen falls right in line with them as a very good pass catcher coming from the troubled institution.  Unfortunately for Olsen, he ended up with a  Chicago Bears team out of college who seemingly never had a competent QB to throw the ball to him and than when one finally arrived in Jay Cutler, Mike Martz was brought in as the offensive coordinator who never likes to throw to the TE.  Olsen now finds himself in Carolina after being traded after the lockout and  it is this move that makes me  believe he could be a nice fantasy football sleeper this season. 

For starters, Olsen has a tremendous set of hands and he is very capable of having an 80-catch season  at the drop of a hat.  Unfortunately he hasn't played in a system that highlights his ability but that could chance in Carolina.  Before Martz came to town last season, Olsen had  back-to-back seasons of  54 and 60 catches and he caught 8 and  5 TD's in those campaigns.  Clearly Olsen can be a top guy in both the receptions and  TD department and the addition of Rob Chudzinski as offensive coordinator in Carolina could cement that ability.  Chudzkski himself is a former Miami Hurricanes tight end and  he is a coordinator who emphasizes getting the tight end involved in the offense more than most.  He has spoken publicly this summer about how  he plans to build the passing game around Olsen and that has to be music to the ears of his fantasy football owners.  In addition to this nice boast, having a rookie QB in Cam Newton under center could also be a help in that the green hurler will look often to the safety net at right end when he goes back to pass.  Hence Olsen will be seeing a lot of attention.  Its all  there for him to have his best season yet.

All in all I think Greg Olsen is the perfect tight end to go after if you miss out on the top guys this season.  He has upside and untapped potential that could result in a career season so be  sure to remember his name during the latter stage of your draft.

2011 PROJECTION:  72 catches 672 yards 7 TD

FANTASY BASEBALL CLOSING TIME: HEATH BELL STAYS PUT

A few days later  than  normal (thanks for nothing Irene), its time to once again check in with the ninth inning guys in the Fantasy Baseball Closing Time.  Lets get to it.

-The first order of business centers on the fact that Padres closer Heath Bell winds up staying put as Giants werent able to complete a deal for him after being awarded a waiver claim.  The price was just too high as Bell is a Type A free agent and the Padres are very comfortable in just getting the two first round drafts picks if Bell leaves.  So Bell fantasy baseball owners enjoy saves from the guy all season, and those who picked up Sergio Romo on the Giants end could enjoy the bonus saves until Wilson gets back.
-Current Blue Jays closer Frank Francisco is over the shoulder discomfort he was dealing with last week and so he will continue to hold down the ninth inning in scary fashion for now.

-Bobby Parnell is now getting all the save chances for the Mets as we wind down the season but its anything but pretty.  Parnell is making it an adventure every time he goes out there so fantasy baseball owners will have to stomach some hits to their digits if they are desperate for the saves.

-Kevin Gregg blew another save for the Orioles.  Show me  your surprised face.  Its so late in the season that the team really doesnt have any incentive to change things up.  If they do, Mike Gonzalez would be the next to grab the gig.  Yeah not so much better.

-Jordan Walden is growing weary from the long season  according to reports and so Scott Downs could be getting a look for the time being.  Something to keep an eye on.

-After manager Tony LaRussa decided to screw with fantasy baseball owners' minds in  saying Jason Motte would be  seeing some save chances, Fernando Salas got the call and earned  the save Tuesday.  Motte pitched in the eighth.  Thanks for clearing things up skipper.

Thats all for now.  Check back for more as it occurs. 

FANTASY SPORTS BOSS BACK FROM HURRICANE IRENE

Obviously many of you were wondering where I have been the last few days and you can thank Hurricane Irene which knocked out power for three days.  I am back and up and running and so the features will be coming fast  and furious today.  Keep checking back for the usual and hit me with up any questions you have at rangerfan28@yahoo.com

Saturday, August 27, 2011

2011 FANTASY FOOTBALL DRAFT SLEEPER: DETROIT LIONS DEFENSE



Time to take a look at another 2011 fantasy football draft sleeper as the season is quickly approaching and we will take a bit of an unconventional spin today by looking away from the skill positions and to defense.  Defense of course is a necessary but often overlooked part of fantasy football.  Many switch defenses in and out every week which is something I don't have an issue with but its also a good idea to identify a defense that is up and coming and could supply some nice value for the season.  With that in mind, I centered in on the Detroit Lions...yes the Lions...defense as that type of unit for 2011 and thus they make a very good sleeper candidate to look at in your draft.

As far as the Lions defense is concerned, one only has to look up front and in the middle to see why I am so high on this bunch.  Already possibly the best DT in the game, second-year man Ndamakung Suh is back to wreak havoc on opposing QB's on again.  Suh is a beast who is the rare DT who will rack up double-digit sacks while also clogging the middle.  The Lions no doubt hit the draft lottery with this guy but they decided to do one better by adding a similarly talented prospect in Nick Fairley in the 2011 draft.  Fairley was a big time pass rushing DT in college at Auburn and he would have been a top 3 pick if not for some character issues.  Be that as it may, Fairley is expected to have an immediate impact once he gets back from a foot injury that he suffered in the preseason (which could be as quick as Week 1), he will team with Suh to form possibly the best DT set in the league who will terrorize their opposing backfields.

As great as those two guys are, they are not the only talented pieces on the Detroit defense.  Also along the defensive line is pass rusher Kyle VandenBosche who has had some big sack seasons in his past and on the other end is Cliff Avril who surprised many by racking up 9 sacks last season.  That means all four guys on the defensive line can get to the QB and so the sack numbers alone could be huge for the club.  Looking at the rest of the unit, OLB Stephen Tulloch racked up an absurd 159 tackles last season, while Eric Wright and Chris Houston help make up a ball-hawking secondary.  So the numbers will come from all over the unit.

All in all, I think the Detroit Lions make for a very good sleeper defense this season.  I still advise to pay attention to matchups each week as I wouldn't recommend any defense to go up against the Packers for instance but overall I think the Lions defense will be a big help to those who take the plunge. 

Friday, August 26, 2011

2011 FANTASY BASEBALL UPDATED THIRD BASE RANKINGS



Moving right along with our updated 2011 fantasy baseball rankings as we check in with the hot corner today.  This position once again has been ravaged by injury this season and so the volatility is as high as ever.

1.  Jose Bautista
2.  Evan Longoria
3.  Alex Rodriguez
4.  David Wright
5.  Kevin Youkilis
6.  Aramis Ramirez
7.  Ryan Zimmerman
8.  Adrian Beltre
9.  Pablo Sandoval
10. Mark Reynolds
11. Alex Gordon
12. Michael Young
13. Martin Prado
14. Neil Walker
15. David Freese
16. Jhonny Peralta
17. Pedro Alvarez
18. Casey McGehee
19. Chipper Jones
20. Edwin Encarnacion

-This group is just a mosh pit of injuries and underperformance with 8 of the top 9 guys all spending time on the DL.  We also see Jose Bautista move ahead of Evan Longoria with the latter having another season that has left his owners disappointed.  Longoria saw a power dip last season and this season he has seen his average plummet.  I honestly dont know what to make of the kid since he is supremely talented but than again we have a similar case with Hanley Ramirez at shortstop.  I still endorse Longoria as a top tier guy but not in the first round next season.
-Alex Rodriguez is starting to drop off noticeably as he continues to suffer injuries and this season he has now lost a decent bit of power.  I would stay away from Rodriguez next season as his name will now overshadow his production.
-David Wright and Ryan Zimmerman missed a big chunk of the season with injuries as well but I am much more higher on Wright who doesnt have the lengthy DL history that Zimmerman does.  Wright also steals bases which he has in his favor so he is the one to pick over the other next season.
-Aramis Ramirez had the typically huge contract year season.  He also has a lengthy injury history and will be 35 next season so danger lurks.  He will likely be overvalued. 
-Mark Reynolds once again is hitting a boatload of home runs and putting up a disgusting average.  Not for me but I understand if you are a fan since dingers are tough to come by.

There you have it.  The offseason will be here soon which is when I go into draft mode for next season.  Keep checking back for more updates.  Post your thoughts below.

FANTASY BASEBALL NEWS: METS/BRAVES CANCELED SATURDAY AND SUNDAY

The New York Mets and Atlanta Braves have posponed both their Saturday and Sunday games and they will make them up as a doubleheader on September 8th.  Hurricane Irene has wreaked havoc on the schedule and this is just the latest example of it.

Analysis:  Get ready to bench David Wright, Dan Uggla and company. Start planning ahead now to fill those empty roster spots by looking to the games out west to fill the void. 

2011 FANTASY FOOTBALL UPDATED TIGHT END RANKINGS




Time to take another look at the 2011 fantasy football tight end rankings.  Lets see where they currently stand with the season two weeks away.

1.  Jason Witten
2.  Antonio Gates
3.  Dallas Clark
4.  Jermichael Finley
5.  Vernon Davis
6.  Brandon Pettigrew
7.  Owen Daniels
8.  Kellen Winslow Jr.
9. Tony Gonzalez
10. Rob Gronkowski
11. Dustin Keller
12. Greg Olsen
13. Jimmy Graham
14. Marcedes Lewis
15. Zach Miller
16. Aaron Hernandez
17. Brent Celek
18. Chris Cooley
19. Kevin Boss

-I know I am in the minority but give me Jason Witten over Antonio Gates every day of the week and twice on Sunday.  Witten is extremely durable which Gates is not and he is the only TE in the game who can hit the 90-plus catch region. 
-Dallas Clark and Jermichael Finley are both in the same boat in that if they stay on the field, they will post stellar seasons.  Clark will have more catches but Finley is just bursting with ability.
-Jimmy Graham and Greg Olsen are both very intriguing due to the offenses they play in.  Playing in the New Orleans juggernaut, Graham could continue with the solid finish he had to last season.  Of course things get spread around in that offense so don't count on anything huge as far as PPR is concerned is concerned.  Olsen on the other hand has joined the Carolina offense where offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski is a former Miami TE who believes in getting the ball to the tight end. 
-Brandon Pettigrew is a guy I love and his potential is almost on par with Finley.  A great value. 
-Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski have nice ability but they both cancel each other's value out which makes them borderline starting options in standard leagues.  If I had to pick one though, I would go with Gronkowski who is the better TD threat.
-Vernon Davis had a blockbuster year with Alex Smith as his QB a few years ago so don't destroy him based on his passer.  New coach Jim Harbaugh claims Davis will be featured in the offense so he will get his touches.

That's how I see them ranked.  Let me hear what you think.  Post below.  Keep it clean please.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

FANTASY BASEBALL UPDATED SHORTSTOP RANKINGS

Shortstops are up today as we continue with updating our fantasy baseball rankings.  This group has dealt with a rash of injuries with Jose Reyes and Hanley Ramirez being chief among them.  Lets see how the shallowest group on the diamond looks at this point.

1.  Troy Tulowitzki
2.  Hanley Ramirez
3.  Jose Reyes
4.  Jimmy Rollins
5.  Asdrubal Cabrera
6.  Starlin Castro
7.  Elvis Andrus
8.  JJ Hardy
9.  Jhonny Peralta
10. Yunel Escobar
11. Emilio Bonifacio
12. Derek Jeter
13. Eric Aybar
14. Jason Bartlett
15. Darwin Barney

-This is an ugly group and that's obvious when you consider three of the top four guys are on the DL as I write this.  As far as the very top of the list, Ramirez' season-long struggles and injury-marred campaign have taken him out of the top spot for the first time in recent memory.  Whats even more disturbing is that this is the fourth straight season that Ramirez has seen his stats decline and its double disturbing when you  consider this should be his prime years. 
-Troy Tulowitzki has had another great season and he is clearly the top guy for now and likely for awhile.  His power is unmatched by anyone at SS and he too is just entering his prime years. 
-Reyes is a maddening player to own as he once again has hit the DL on multiple occasions due to leg injuries.  He was the best fantasy baseball player in the game before he got hurt but he literally is limping to the finish.  He remains quite possibly the most riskiest play for next season.
-Jimmy Rollins was having a very nice comeback season before injuries derailed him as well.  That makes it four DL stints in the last two seasons and since he will be another year older in 2012, you might want to get out from this veteran.
-Some nice seasons have been turned in by Yunel Escobar and JJ Hardy.  Hardy in fact will wind up as one of the best fantasy baseball values this season with his Tulowitzki-like power.  Clearly he is over the injuries that ruined his last two seasons and is someone who is likely to be cheap again next season.
-The drop in value of Derek Jeter is obvious and he is barely a starting option.  Yes he has rallied in the second half but only 4 home runs in that ballpark speaks to the decline he is in and will likely continue to see as he continues to onto next season.

That's how I see things.  As always let me know what you think.

FANTASY FOOTBALL MEWS: TITANS RB CHRIS JOHNSON HEADS BACK TO FLORIDA WITH NO DEAL

Tennessee Titans RB Chris Johnson has headed back to Florida after failing to come to an agreement on a new contract with the team during a face-to-face meeting Wednesday.  Johnson reported that there was nothing new to discuss regarding the talks and so the two sides remain dug in with the season two weeks away.

Analysis:  Things are beyond dicey here for Johnson and his fantasy football owners.  These things can go down to the wire so there is that hope.  If not than Johnson will leak value starting in Week 1. 

FANTASY BASEBALL NEWS: PHILLIES TO MOVE SUNDAY'S GAME TO SATURDAY FOR A DH

The Philadelphia Phillies and Florida Marlins have agreed to move this Sunday's game to Saturday as part of a doubleheader in advance of Hurricane Irene. 

Analysis:  This is a good opportunity to pick up some Marlins and Phillies if available for the Saturday DH if you dont play in a postition limit league.  Take advantage of the extra games. 

FANTASY BASEBALL NEWS: TWINS SP FRANCISCO LIRIANO LEAVES EARLY WITH SHOULDER STRAIN

Twins SP Francisco Liriano left his Thursday start early with what is being called a shoulder strain.  Liriano only lasted two innings in his start against Baltimore and he will be re-evaluated in the next few days.

Analysis:  I have been done with Liriano as far as fantasy baseball is concerned months ago and if you havent done so already, this would be further proof of why you should.  It has been an injury-filled disaster of a season for Liriano and he will once again be looked at as nothing but a wild card for next season.

2011 FANTASY FOOTBALL PLAYER ANALYZER: TONY ROMO QB DALLAS COWBOYS



Dallas Cowboys QB Tony Romo has been an extremely volatile fantasy football performer the last four seasons as he has been brilliant when on the field but has dealt with injuries throughout that time period.  The highs were when he threw for 26 TD's in 2007 or when he threw for over 4,400 yards in 2009.  The lowlights were missing three games in 2008 and missing the last 10 games of 2010 after a hot start .  So Romo is clearly one of those high risk/high reward guys that makes every fantasy football owner look inside to determine how lucky they feel when picking the guy.  So with that all said, lets take a look at what Romo will provide his fantasy football owners this season. 

As far as Romo the passer is concerned, there are only a few better throwers of the football in the entire league.  The last three seasons before 2010's injury-wracked campaign, Romo threw for 36, 26, and 26 touchdowns and so there is little debate about the fact he will be a very good fantasy football scorer when it comes to scores.  The vast arsenal of weapons annually during Romo's tenure is also a big help and he once again has a stable of big time pass receivers such as Dez Bryant, Miles Austin, and Jason Witten.  That will also allow him to throw for big yardage as well and Romo has two 4,000 yard plus season to name as well.  A run at 4,000 is likely if he stays on the field. 

Now for his health.  Romo has been labeled as an injury-prone QB but that's a bit misleading.  Since becoming the starter in the 2006 season, Romo has played in all 16 games in three of his five seasons.  His two injury-interrupted seasons were a bit flukish in nature and so I don't think its accurate to call Romo an injury risk.  QB's get hit a lot and unless your last name ends in Manning, games will be missed.  Whats key here is that Romo actually makes for a very good value this season since he is being drafted as late as he has in years due to last season's injury and the upside is tremendous when you look at what he has accomplished in his past.  I am putting my money where my mouth is as well since I drafted Romo in my one and only fantasy football money league. The round I got him in?  Round 6!  Tremendous value for sure.

So in closing, I think Tony Romo will once again be one of the best fantasy football QB's this season and he could easily produce on the levels of some of the guys drafted before him.  Yes there is some risk there but as long as you back him up with another solid passer (as I did with picking up Eli Manning later in my draft), you will be good to go. 

2011 PROJECTION:  4,182 yards 27 TD 14 INT



FANTASY BASEBALL NEWS: BRAVES SP TOMMY HANSON TO GET SHOULDER EXAMINED

Things are not looking good for Atlanta Braves SP Tommy Hanson who will now go and have his sore shoulder examined.  Hanson has been on the DL for a week and a half with the bum shoulder and so we could be entering a period where the ace hurler could be shut down depending on the results.

Analysis:  Its looking more and more like Hanson wont be very helpful the rest of the season.  Shoulder injuries are always big red flags in my book and this is something you have to keep in mind for next season.  Just remember Josh Johnson. 

FANTASY FOOTBALL NEWS: COLTS THINKING MORE AND MORE QB PEYTON MANNING WONT BE READY FOR WEEK 1

The Indianapolis Colts are growing increasingly concerned that QB Peyton Manning wont be ready for Week 1 due to his slow recovery from offseason neck surgery.  Kerry Collins was just signed the other day which sent notice around the league that Manning may in fact not be ready.

Analysis:  This is obviously not good news for Mannning and his fantasy football owners.  I you havent drafted yet, push Mannning down below Tom Brady, Phillip Rivers, Drew Brees, and obviously Aaron Rodgers.  We are in uncharted territory with Manning missing games so he obviously is not right. 

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

FANTASY FOOTBALL NEWS: CHRIS JOHNSON LEAVES MEETING WITH TITANS WITHOUT DEAL

Tennessee Titans RB Chris Johnson left his meeting with the team Wednesday without a contract and the sides are not any closer than they were before.  I'm not sure there was any progress made," acknowledged GM Mike Reinfeldt. "But I do think it was beneficial to meet."  There now seems to be a very good chance that Johnson will miss Week 1 of the season.

Analysis:  This is just terrible news for Johnson's fantasy football owners.  The likely top five pick it took to land him this summer is looking more and more like it will bust, at least in the early going.  Even if Johnson does make it back, with no team workouts in the last year, he is very susceptible to injury. 

FANTASY BASEBALL NEWS: GIANTS AWARDED WAIVER CLAIM ON PADRES CLOSER HEATH BELL

Its looking like the Heath Bell trading sweepstakes is not over after all as the San Francisco Giants have been awarded a waiver claim on the closer and have until Friday to work out a deal.  This of course comes on the heels of Brian Wilson going on the DL with elbow trouble and so there could be some desire on the Giants' part to insure the back of their bullpen.

Analysis:  There is a big obstacle in the way here which centers on the fact that Bell will be a Type A free agent and so the compensation will be steep.  Still this is a World Series team that could easily win it again as long as they have a competent closer.  Grab Luke Gregerson if available. 

2011 FANTASY BASEBALL UPDATED SECOND BASE RANKINGS



We move right along with the updated fantasy baseball rankings by position and today we visit the second baseman where once again Robinson Cano paces the field.  Lets see hyow things stand.

1.  Robinson Cano
2.  Dustin Pedroia
3.  Ian Kinsler
4.  Rickie Weeks
5.  Dan Uggla
6.  Chase Utley
7.  Brandon Phillips
8.  Martin Prado
9.  Ben Zobrist
10. Michael Young
11. Dustin Ackley
12. Jason Kipnis
13. Danny Espinoza
14. Ryan Roberts
15. Neil Walker
16. Kelly Johnson

- Second base has become very top heavy with Cano, Pedroia, and Kinsler being the top tier.  I yelled all spring about how Pedroia should be the one to go after as his power continues to develop to go with his high average and speed.  Everything is clicking now and he is a great guy to use a second round pick on next season.
-Cano is almost becoming like Miguel Cabrera in that they are so consistently good that they are boring.  He got some heat from Pedroia for awhile there but his recent blazing streak has left little room for debate that he is not the top guy at second base.
-Kinsler continues to show flashes of greatness while also frustrating.  The power and stolen base acumen has been top notch for the position but once again his average is leaving a lot to be desired.  I cant think of many players that continually go up and down as much as Kinsler does in average but the bottom line is that he has stayed healthy all season which is a miracle in and of itself.  He is just below Cano and Pedroia on the second base ladder.
-Uggla has really turned around what was shaping up to be an awful season with his torrid home run hitting over the last two months.  Yes the average continues to blow but you knew that already.  Not my kind of player but he once again continues to put up great power numbers in a non-power era.
-Kelly Johnson and Aaron Hill are off my lists for next season at the very least.  Find someone more reliable than these two.  Yes they show greatness every now and again but overall they have been awful.
-Ryan Roberts is a guy who will be overdrafted next season and will likely let down those owners.  This is the first season he has been even useful in our game so let that be a warning.
-I am very high on Kipnis who I think can hit 20 homers with 15 steals next season.  Use a later pick on the guy. 

That's how I see things.  Let me know what you think.



Tuesday, August 23, 2011

FANTASY BASEBALL UPDATED FIRST BASE RANKINGS



We looked at the updated fantasy baseball catcher rankings the other day so today lets move up the line to the first baseman who are the prime hitting stars in our fake game.  Lets take a look at where they all currently stand with the season having a little over a month left to go.

1.  Albert Pujols.
2.  Miguel Cabrera
3.  Adrian Gonzalez
4.  Joey Votto
5.  Prince Fielder
6.  Mark Texeira
7.  Ryan Howard
8.  Paul Konerko
9.  Kevin Youkilis
10. Lance Berkman
11. Billy Butler
12. Mark Reynolds
13. Ike Davis
14. Justin Morneau
15. Adam Lind
16. Carlos Santana
17. Pablo Sandoval
18. Carlos Pena
19. Mike Napoli
20. Victor Martinez

-The first base position should see 5 guys drafted in the first round next season from Pujols to Fielder.  I am very tempted to place Miguel Cabrera ahead of Pujols but for now I will keep Prince Albert at the top.  The fact that Pujols showed a bit of slippage this season and is five years older than Cabrera gives me reason to make the change. 
-Behind Pujols and Cabrera, Votto, Fielder, and Gonzalez have all been fantastic in their own rights, especially the latter two.  Gonzalez has seen a noticeable power outage since the end of July but that's because he is dealing with a shoulder problem.  I will give him a mulligan for that as he was clearly the best hitter in the game before this issue came about.  As far as Votto is concerned, the home runs are down but the rest of his numbers are fine.  The drop to 7 steals currently is something else that has been talked about but you cant rely on a first baseman supplying much there.  Dont downgrade him too much next season.  Finally Fielder is making good on his walk year and if he ends up in Colorado or with the Yankees next season, he will shoot past Gonzalez and Votto on this list.
-Mark Texeira continues to confound me as his average has been ugly for two years now.  The power will continue to be huge in Yankee Stadium but its looking more and more like he is hitting for the fences too much which has ruined his swing some. 
-Ike Davis needs to be monitored this offseason to see how his microfracture surgery goes.  He was on his way to a big time bustout season before he got hurt so if the signs are good in the winter, move him up some.
-Paul Konerko will be 36 next season which is a concern for sure.  Everytime we doubt him however, he comes up with a big season.  Should be a fine value again next season since many will try to sell high.
-Don't bother me with the Billy Butler will hit 25 home runs post next season.  Yes he has been hot the second half but he still only has 15 home runs.  For a guy that big that is terrible.  No thanks.
-From Lind all the way down to Martinez are guys you don't want at 1B.  Since they carry dual eligibility, that value in and of itself puts them on this list.  Still get a better bat from higher on the chart.

That's how I see it.  As always would love to hear what you think.

2011 FANTASY FOOTBALL PLAYER ANALYZER: FRANK GORE RB SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS



Every fantasy football player has a few guys they consider their "own."  I other words, guys they rate higher than most other players and who they generally seem to own each and every season.  One such player for me is San Francisco 49ers running back Frank Gore who is a guy I always have been drawn to.  Playing in an annual PPR league for one has always made Gore attractive to me since he is one of the most accomplished pass catchers out of the backfield in the game.  The guy is also a hell of a runner as well and so there is a package there that is very attractive.  Of course Gore has been a frustrating player to own from a health perspective as he always seem to miss games each season.  We will get into all this in a bit in our latest Fantasy Football Player Analyzer for the 2011 campaign.

First lets take a look at Frank Gore the runner.  In his first six years in the league, Gore has averaged a very good 4.7 yrd/carry and that was behind some of the worst offensive line play in the league over that span.  Blessed with a quick burst through the hole, Gore is able to get to the second level consistently and he also has the acceleration to take it the distance.  He has gone for over 1,000 in 4 of those seasons, with only exceptions being his rookie season and last season when he was on pace for over 1,200 yards rushing before he injured his hip and was out the rest of the way.  The offensive line is not great yet again for San Fran this season but new head coach Jim Harbaugh has gone on record saying he will be the focal point of the offense which is all you need to hear.  Another 1,000 yards is easy unless injury strikes.

The other aspect about Gore that deserves just as much kudos is his pass catching which I already correctly noted is among the best of all running backs.  Check out the receptions total for Gore's last five seasons and you surely will be impressed.

2006:  61
2007:  53
2008:  43
2009:  52
2010:  46

Those are some very nice totals and last seasons came in only 11 games which was a pace for over 70.  Gore flat out is a major asset in PPR fantasy football leagues and needs to be bumped ahead of guys like Rashard Mendehall and Michael Turner as a result.  Of course he loses some value in TD heavy formats as despite all of the top notch performances, Gore has never been a huge TD producers.  Of course some of the blame has to be at the feet of the horrible QB play the team has had in his tenure, primarily bust Alex Smith who once again is back to stunt his numbers somewhat.  Gore has only hit double digits in TD's once and that was the 10 he had in 2009.  As great as he was going last season, Gore only had three scores to show for all that stellar work.  The same issue could arise again this season so downgrade him some in non PPR formats. 

Finally we get to the injuries and that's the big bugaboo when it comes to Gore.  We all know he is coming off hip surgery which is a very scary injury for any runner to have.  Just ask Bo Jackson.  But Gore has looked very good in the preseason and has seemed like his old self so I am not as worried about him as I was before the lockout was completed.  In his previous six seasons, Gore was only able to play all 16 games once and his other five games played totals were 14, 15, 14, 14, and 11.  So in essence you have to go into the season expecting Gore to miss one or two games at the very least, with the potential to have an even bigger problem like last season.  It really comes down to how much risk you are willing to take when it comes to drafting Gore.  My best advice is to ignore him in TD heavy formats and take the risk in PPR leagues.  Its really as simple as this.  Gore has all the ability in the world which means he will produce for you when on the field but there are skeletons in that closet which you need to be aware of.  Roll the dice if you can.

2011 PROJECTION:  1,037 yards 6 TD 45 catches 2 TD



FANTASY BASEBALL NEWS: METS SS JOSE REYES TO RETURN MONDAY

New York Mets SS Jose Reyes is on track to return to the team on Monday from his second stint on the DL due to a balky hamstring.  Reyes has been running the bases this week and will play in a few tune-up games before he gets back.

Analysis:  Reyes remains a frustrating player to own in fantasy baseball since he is always dealing with leg issues.  Keep this in mind when deciding whether to use a second round pick on the guy next season.

ALL 2011 FANTASY FOOTBALL DRAFT GUIDES PRICES SLASHED, HURRY AND PURCHASE!

All of my remaining stock of the 2011 fantasy football draft guides are on sale for only $5.00 each (plus shipping) as the cover prices are $8.00.  I still have the Professional Edition, Athlon Sports, and Sports Illustrated Postlockout Editions still available.  Use the BUY NOW tabs above to purchase.  Fast shipping.





2011 SPORTS ILLUSTRATED POTLOCKOUT EDITION FANTASY FOOTBALL DRAFT GUIDE ONLY $5.00 (COVER PRICE IS 8.00)


For sale is the 2011 Sports Illustrated Postlockout Edition fantasy football draft guide for only $5.00 (plus shipping).  Guide cover price is $8.00 but I am having a sale on all the draft guides.  This edition has all of the free agency moves with regards to their impact on the game.  Use the appropriate BUY NOW tab above to purchase. 

BE SURE TO PURCHASE YOUR FANTASY SPORTS BOSS FANTASY FOOTBALL 2011 SEASON INSIDER PASS

Fantasy football will begin in three weeks when the first games kick off and once again the Fantasy Sports Boss is here to help throughout the season.  For those who want even more than the standard info that is posted here for free, the second edition of the Fantasy Football Insider Season Pass Subscription is here for only $25.00.  With your purchase you will receiver the following via e-mail every week:

-Monday Morning Injury Report:  Details all of the injuries and their impacts from Sunday's game, along with the replacements to own.

-Friday's extensive Start/Sit feature where I analyze all of the fantasy football relevant players in EACH game and discuss in depth what you should start or sit them.  You wont find a better Start/Sit feature anywhere. 

-Sunday Morning newsbreaks of who is starting or sitting due to injury questions throughout the week. 

All of that for $25.00.  Be sure to use the BUY NOW tab above to purchase your season access pass. 

FANTASY BASEBALL NEWS: PHILLIES PLACE SP COLE HAMELS (SHOULDER) ON DL

Yet another big name player has hit the DL this week and today its Philadelphia Phillies SP Cole Hamels due to shoulder inflammation.  The move was backdated ot August 13th and the team says he will come off on the 29th to make a start.  Nothing structural was ever found in testing done after the diagnosis.

Analysis:  Its looking like Hamels' injury is not as bad as Tommy Hanson's and so he could come back and be his old self for September which is what his fantasy baseball owners need.  Cross your fingers that this is all that happens here.

2011 FANTASY FOOTBALL SLEEPER: MIKE SIMS-WALKER WR ST. LOUIS RAMS


Both the NFL and fantasy football world are filled with excitement over the development of St. Louis Rams QB Sam Bradford who everyone agrees is destined for stardom.  Bradford opened many eyes with his play as a very poised rookie in 2010 and even more is expected from the kid this season as he could very well finish as a top ten QB.  With that being said, in order for Bradford to put up the stats required to earn that praise, he has to have someone to throw to which was a big time effort undertaken by the Rams front office once the lockout ended.  After missing out on Plaxico Burress, Roy Williams, and Sidney Rice, the team settled on Mike Sims-Walker, late of the Jacksonville Jaguars.  You might remember Sims-Walks as the fantasy football surprise in 2009 which was followed by the 2010 bust campaign.  Since the new season is upon us, we must look forward and not back and this is why I think its likely Sims-Walker will be a very nice fantasy football sleeper.  Lets take a look why.

First let us go back to that eye opening 2009 season.  The former 6-2, third round pick used his size to snare 7 touchdowns along with 63 catches for 869 yards.  Not Pro Bowl numbers for sure but keep in mind this was accomplished in Jacksonville where the team has thrown among the fewest amount of passes of any team over the last five years.  Sims-Walker followed up with another 7 scores in 2010 in two less game as he fought through injuries but his nose for the end zone was confirmed.  That surely will be his best asset again this season as he sees a nice upgrade in QB ability with Bradford throwing him the rock.  When you think about how Bradford threw a rookie record amount of passes last season, its clear the team will once again look to throw the ball downfield.  A win-win for Sims-Walker.  So that alone could allow Sims-Walker to get close to even exceed the 10 TD mark along with some nice nice yardage.  He also will see a spike in receptions which will go hand-in-hand with the volume increase in passing.  Something close to 80 catches is certainly not out of his grasp.  Finally the presence of new offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels makes Sims-Walker even more intriguing since McDaniels earned his stripes by putting together one of the best passing offenses we have seen in recent memory in New England.  Surely he has devised some plans with Sims-Walker in it. 

All in all I think Mike Sims-Walker is a guy who has to be drafted late in all fantasy football formats due to his chance of filling the go-to-receiver void in St. Louis with Bradford as his passer.  You could get a WR 2 campaign out of the guy for a bag of peanuts so take advantage.

2011 PROJECTION:  77 catches 927 yards 8 TD

Monday, August 22, 2011

FANTASY FOOTBALL VALUE REVERSAL: BRANDON LLOYD WR DENVER BRONCOS

Going into the preseason, Denver Broncos WR Brandon Lloyd was at the top of almost everyone's fantasy football bust lists due to the fact that green QB Tim Tebow was likely going to be the starter.  Lloyd had a ridiculously good year in 2010 on the strength of being passed to by Kyle Orton and with Orton likely on his way to Miami in a trade, things looked downright ugly for the receiver.  Fast forward a month and Tebow is now behind not only Orton but Brady Quinn as well as he has been vastly outplayed this preseason.  Lloyd meanwhile is a vocally happy camper knowing that he can build on the chemistry he showed with Orton last season and thus he is an attractive fantasy football commodity again.  Those who have already drafted no doubt saw Lloyd plummet due to the belief Tebow would be the QB but in reality, those astute owners who went in his direction will now probably be rewarded with some nice value from him with Orton back under center.  So Lloyd basically becomes the rare fantasy football player who goes from being a bust candidate to a sleeper candidate. 

As far as the numbers are concerned, Lloyd will not likely duplicate the awesome performance he put up last season as that was far and away his best season in his career.  Defensive coordinators have had an entire offseason to gameplan for Lloyd so the element of surprise wont be there anymore.  Still Lloyd will be a very good yardage and TD guy and he also can catch 80 balls if Orton stays the starter.  That really is the key because if Tebow comes back later on in the season, than Lloyd could see his numbers go the wrong way.  So its best to project something a bit less that what he did last season but also not dropping him to the level we thought be would be at with Tebow under center.  Wow what a turn of events with this guy.

2011 PROJECTION:  81 catches 1,178 yards 9 TD

FANTASY BASEBALL CLOSING TIME: ALL HELL BREAKING LOOSE


After dealing with relative quiet the last three weeks regarding the ninth inning in fantasy baseball, all hell broke loose in the last few days as injuries have affected a great deal of the closer roles.  So lets dig right in and see whats going on.

-The San Francisco Giants placed closer Brian Wilson on the DL on Sunday with an inflamed elbow and with Segio Romo also injured, the team has decided to use lefty Jeremy Affeldt in the role.  Affeldt came on in the ninth inning of a tie game Sunday and threw two scoreless innings so he is the guy to own at this point.  As far as Wilson is concerned, the team is very vague on when he could get back.  Romo however could return on Thursday where he would likely ascend to the gig.  Got all that?

-Blue Jays closer Frank Francisco couldn't go on Sunday due to soreness in his pitching shoulder as he warmed up for a save chance.  Casey Janssen went three innings to earn the save and Francisco will now have the shoulder examined Monday.  This on the heels of Jon Rauch also going on the DL for an appendectomy.  Janssen would be the favorite for saves until either guy returns, with Shawn Camp likely getting a shot if a save chance comes up tomorrow since Janssen could use a rest after three innings.

-Neftali Feliz has pitched better after some shaky outings last week which removes some heat form his grip on the ninth inning.  Same goes for Chris Perez who has turned things around after some shaky moments as well.  They have given themselves some leash.

That's all for this week.  As usual check back for the latest closer news all week.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

FANTASY FOOTBALL NEWS: CHRIS JOHNSON STALEMATE COULD LINGER INTO SEASON

Tennessee Titans management acknowledged for the first time this weekend that star RB Chris Johnson could miss games at the start of the season as he and the team continues to hammer out a contract extension.  The two sides are said to be far apart and the Titans are insisting that Johnson report to camp before he gets a new deal.

Analysis:  This is just downright ugly.  Johnson's fantasy football stock is taking a nosedive and he is the most polarizing figure this draft season.  Him dropping down drafts make him attractive as value but not knowing if or how long he could be out is a huge risk to play with.  At this point I would steer yoruself far away from this debacle and look to another runner like Jamaal Charles or Ray Rice in that draft region.

2011 FANTASY FOOTBALL UPDATED RUNNING BACK RANKINGS



We started updating out 2011 fantasy football position rankings the other day by checking in with the QB's.  Today we take another look at the running backs and where they currently stack up.

1.  Arian Foster
2.  Adrian Peterson
3.  Ray Rice
4.  Jamaal Charles
5.  Maurice Jones-Drew
6.  Chris Johnson
7.  LeSean McCoy
8.  Rashard Mendenhall
9.  Michael Turner
10. Darren McFadden
11. Frank Gore
12. Steven Jackson
13. Matt Forte
14. Peyton Hillis
15. Ahmad Bradshaw
16. Knowshon Moreno
17. Jahvid Best
18. Ryan Grant
19. DeAngelo Williams
20. LeGarrette Blount
21. Ryan Matthews
22. Felix Jones
23. Beanie Wells
24. Joseph Addai
25. Mike Tolbert
26. Ben-Jarvis Green-Ellis
27. Shonn Greene
28. Mark Ingram
29. Reggie Bush
30. Jonathan Stewart
31. Tim Hightower
32. Daniel Thomas
33. Fred Jackson
34. Marshawn Lynch
35. CJ Spiller
36. Cedric Benson
37. James Starks

-Chris Johnson has dropped down again this week to number 6 as he continues with his holdout.  The latest reports have the two sides "far apart" in negotiations and Johnson is really dug in on getting what he wants.  I think we are already past the point of worrying big time about this and so we could actually be looking at Johnson sitting out the first few games or even more while working things out.  Unreal.
-The more I watch Jamaal Charles, the more in love with the guy I get.  Honestly if Thomas Jones were in any other uniform, I would not hesitate to put Charles right at the top with Arian Foster.  He is that good.  No one is a better runner than he is in all of football and if he ever gets goal-line carries, we are looking at the best fantasy football scorer in the game.
-Still love Ray Rice since I have him ranked third but this whole thing about getting the goal-line carries falls into the "I will believe it when I see it" mode.  Ricky Williams would be the easy choice to plug in at the goal-line so lets not get carried away yet.
-I am very worried about the Vikings offensive line which could be the worst in the entire NFL and how it will impact Adrian Peterson.  Also the lack of good wideouts on the team outside of Percy Harvin will allow opposing defenses to stack the box against Peterson.  He will get his numbers like he always does but  he shouldn't be the top pick.
-Jahvid Best and Beanie Wells both saw a rise in the rankings this week due to the season-ending injuries to Mikel Leshoure and Ryan Willliams.  Best is a big time PPR guy which Wells is not so know your league rules before getting invested.
-Mark Ingram will be splitting carries 50/50 with Pierre Thomas this season which destroys both of their fantasy football values.  I wouldn't have drafted either player anyway.
-Reggie Bush has looked good running the ball for Miami so far this summer which hurts Daniel Thomas' value.  This has goal-line back written all over it with Thomas.
-I love what Frank Gore can supply a fantasy football team and I drafted him in my money league but the injury issue is always front and center.  Be sure you have your third RB sewn up early in your draft.

As always I would like to hear what you think.  Who is ranked too high?  Who is ranked too low?  Post below.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

2011 FANTASY SPORTS BOSS FANTASY FOOTBALL DRAFT RECAP: ROUND 6

Round 5 of my PPR fantasy football draft brought me a tight end but not the one I wanted with Jason Witten getting snatched up a few picks before I took Jermichael Finley.  I also have Andre Johnson and Wes Welker at WR, along with a stacked RB corp in LeSean McCoy and Frank Gore.  Still without a QB and a third WR.  The only other team without a QB already picked so I will wait another round to go in that direction so WR it is.  The pickings are starting to get slim with Dez Bryant, and rookie AJ Green and Julio Jones getting my attention.  Lets see how it turned out.

51. AJ Green:  Green over Julio Jones is not something I agree with and it all has to do with the QB situations for both.  Green will have a rookie tossing balls his way, while Jones will have the very accomplished Matt Ryan looking in his direction.  So with Green off the board, I am tempted to take Jones.

52. Joseph Addai:  People are going to start looking for their third running back which is a very good idea due to bye weeks and the high probability of injuries.  Addai is the perfect third back in that he plays in a high-powered attack and can catch the football.  Injuries are a big problem though so there is that.

53.  Fantasy Sports Boss Pick:  Julio Jones:  So I wind up going with Jones for my third wideout as I am looking for some major upside.  Jones is in a ready-made offense that could enable him to be very good right off the bat.  However after making this pick I had feelings of regret in not taking Dez Bryant or Chad Ochocinco who I targeted coming in but who I forgot about along the way.  Also Austin Collie was someone who I also should have taken over Jones so altogether this was a bad pick on my part. 

54. Dallas Clark:  I actually made a mistake in the previous Round 5 writeup.  This owner took Clark right before me in round 5 which made me take Jermichael Finley and he took Ryan Grant this round.  Anyways as far as Clark is concerned, he will catch a ton of balls and score touchdowns as long as he stays on the field which is an annual problem for the guy.  Its as simple as this.

55. Sidney Rice:  I am not a fan of Rice simply for the fact he will be playing with a truly terrible QB in Tavaris Jackson this season.  Rice the player has huge ability but he will be hamstrung by his QB and have a very tough time putting up numbers he is capable of.

56. Mario Manningham:  Interesting pick in that there is a huge void in the Giants passing game with Steve Smith now in Philly.  Manningham has a decent season last year when Smith was out and he could take another step forward in 2011.  Nice upside with this choice.

57. Vernon Davis:  I think the TE's are going to start flying off the board now and Davis was picked correctly in the order after Witten, Gates, Finley, and Clark.  Another year with Alex Smith is not exciting but the guy has had two very good seasons in a row at a shallow spot.

58. Chad Ochocinco:  Yeah I F-ed up big time in not taking Ocho over Julio Jones.  Ochocinco could have a big comeback season with Tom Brady like Randy Moss did coming over from Oakland.  Great value.

59. Plaxico Burress:  Another reclamation project that came way too early.  Over Austin Collie?  Over Santonio Holmes?  Over Dez Bryant?  Yuck.

60. Dez Bryant:  Yeah kicking myself again.  Bryant could easily be a top five WR this season as he is ridiculously gifted.  I am not even exaggerating in the least.  He only has to stay out of trouble which seems to be challenge for the guy.

So six rounds are in the book and I will queue up Tony Romo in round 7 as I dont think anyone will grab a backup QB this early.  The choice is Romo or Matt Schaub and I am going with the guy who has thrown for 30 TD's in the past of which Schaub cant claim to have achieved.  We'll see how it works out. 

FANTASY FOOTBALL ISSUES: CARDS RB RYAN WILLIAMS DONE FOR SEASON, BEANIE WELLS FRONT AND CENTER

It was a rough night for Arizona Cardinals rookie RB Ryan Williams who tore his patellar tendon in his knee during the team's preseason game.  Williams will have surgery on the knee and be done for the season.  This marks the second potentially prominent fantasy football rookie running back who is done for he year on the heels of the Detroit Lions' Mikel LeShoure also hitting IR.  So this is obviously a death blow to Williams' fantasy football value and he should be dropped in all leagues. 

The flip side of this is the fact that Beanie Wells will now get the lion's share of carries for the Cardinals this season and so he has a chance to improve on his disastrous 2010 campaign.  Wells is entering his third season and its now or never time for the former first round pick.  Based on the fact he will get most of the team's work out of the backfield makes Wells a must own fanatsy football commodity but one who should not be anything more than a bench guy until he proves otherwise.  Wells doesnt catch the football so he wont help much in PPR leagues but those in TD heavy formats should surely make the add if he is free.  Opportunity means potential and Wells fits that category right now.  Whether he can do anything with it is up to him.  I wouldnt hold your breath.

Friday, August 19, 2011

2011 FANTASY FOOTBALLL UPDATED QB RANKINGS



Fantasy football drafts continue to go unabated with the season three weeks away.  Here are the latest QB rankings according to yours truly.

1.  Aaron Rodgers
2.  Drew Brees
3.  Peyton Manning
4.  Philip Rivers
5.  Tom Brady
6.  Michael Vick
7.  Matt Ryan
8.  Tony Romo
9.  Matt Schaub
10. Eli Manning
11. Ben Roethlisberger
12. Matthew Stafford
13. Joe Flacco
14. Josh Freeman
15. Jay Cutler
16. Matt Cassel
17. Sam Bradford
18. Ryan Fitzpatrick
19. Donovan McNabb
20. Matt Hasselbeck

-Aaron Rodgers is the clear cut number 1 guy which is indisputable.  The issue arises right after him as I strongly disagree with the many pundits who have Michael Vick as the number two guy.  Sure its like getting a running back combined with a QB in one, but remember that as great as Vick was last season, he still missed time with injury which is an annual problem for the guy.  He got whacked in Thursday night's preseason game while scrambling and so he once again will be opening himself up to injury.  I cant endorse using a top draft pick on a guy who is mor elikely than anyone to get hurt.
-As far as the rest of the guy who make up the next tier, you have Brees, Manning, Rivers, and Brady.  I have seen all four go in a million different orders and I cant argue with any of them.  I will say this.  Peyton might get off to a slower start due to offseason surgery and with Brady there is always the worry about snow and wind when the fantasy football playoffs begin.  Brees and Rivers are the more safer options but again you cant go wrong no matter where you go.
-Matt Ryan is shooting up draft boards and fightfully so.  The Falcons will throw the ball more this season and why notwith Roddy White, rookie Julio Jones, TE Tony Gonzalez, and the rest of their explosive offense running down the field.  Ryan could very well lead the league in touchdowns at a fraction of the price as the top guys.
-Another guy I annually dont like is Ben Roethlisberger whose game-to-game production is up and down like an elevator.  He is just too inconsistent for my taste.
-Tony Romo will come cheaper than he has in years this season due to yet another injury related campaign.  I actually ended up with Romo as my QB and I got him in the sixth round which I thought was a steal.  Of course I backed him up with Eli Manning due to the injury scare but thats part of what you have to do with Romo.  If he can make it through the season, 30 TD's is possible.
-Matt Cassel is a big bust candidate for many reasons.  Do yourself a favor and dont use him as your starter.
-I really like the chance of Matthew Stafford being a huge bust out candidate this season.  He showed what he can do in his limited time last season and he already opened the preseason with two TD tosses in the opener.  Liek with Vick and Romo, He has to stay on the field which has been a big issue.  Grab him as your backup and if he takes off, you got a big trading chip.

Thats how I see things.  Let me know what you think. 

2011 FANTASY BASEBALL UPDATED CATCHER RANKINGS



With the season dwindling, now is a good time to check in on all of the latest positional rankings in fantasy baseball as things continue to change.  Today we start with the catchers as things have been downright ugly here all season with injuries and poor play dominating this group.  Lets take a look at how it shapes up at this point.

1.  Brian McCann
2.  Victor Martinez
3.  Buster Posey
4.  Carlos Santana
5.  Joe Mauer
6.  Miguel Montero
7.  Mike Napoli
8.  Alex Avila
9.  Matt Wieters
10.  Geovany Soto
11. Yadier Molina
12. JP Arencibia
13. Jonathan Lucroy
14. Russell Martin
15. Chris Iannetta

-The injury to Buster Posey that ruined his season threw this position into chaos right from the start.  Next season I think Brian McCann should be the top pick but there will be many who will go with the upside with Posey.  I wont quibble either way as I think Posey has tremendous ability but I spoke in the spring about how his fly ball rate was out of whack when he was a rookie and so I thought his home run total would drop this season.  That is exactly what had happened before he got hurt so keep that in mind next season.
-Carlos Santana has had a very good season if you look past the average.  The power is top notch and the average should improve as he continues to gain experience as he goes along.  Go get him next season.
-Alex Avila has been a nice surprise this season as he has generally hit well all season with plus pop.  Not sure if he can replicate this entirely next season but he is someone to target in the second tier.
-Miguel Montero was the guy I told you all to draft this spring and he has done everything I have expected of him this season.  He will hit for plus power with a good enough average.  Whats not to like?
-JP Arencibia has quite possibly the best power at the position along with Mike Napoli but his average is horrid.  Speaking of Napoli, he dealt with inconsistent playing time early on again but he has played more often in the second half with big results.  The nice thing is that he is hitting for a god average as well.  Good times all around with this underrated bat.

Thats how I see things.  Lets hear what you have to say.  Post your thoughts below.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

FANTASY FOOTBALL NEWS: SAINTS TO SPLIT CARRIES 50/50 BETWEEN MARK INGRAM AND PIERRE THOMAS

The New Orleans Saints are preparing to go into the season with a plan of splitting carries down the middle with rookie Mark Ingram and incumbent Pierre Thomas.  Despite all the hype with Ingram coming in off a sensational college career, head coach Sean Payton wants to give different looks with both runners.

Analysis:  This is terrible news for those who went in on Ingram as his fantasy baseball value will be cut in half.  At this point its probably a good idea to steer clear of Ingram if you havent drafted already as he wont be a PPR help either. 

FANTASY BASEBALL NEWS: RED SOXTO PLACE 3B KEVIN YOUKILIS (BACK) ON DL

The Boston Red Sox will place third baseman Kevin Youkilis on the DL Thursday due to persistent back pain.  Youkilis is no stranger to the DL and so the team feels its imperative to have him rest up before the postseason.

Analysis:  It started to look like Youkilis was going to make it through a season without going on the DL for the first time in awhile but it was not meant to be.  This is yet another late season blow for fantasy baseball owners on the heels of Jose Reyes and Tommy Hanson. 

2011 FANTASY FOOTBALL DRAFT SLEEPER: ROY WILLIAMS WR CHICAGO BEARS



Roy Williams has had one of the more disappointing fantasy football careers as far as wide receivers in recent memory.  Drafted by the Detroit Lions as the 7th overall choice of his draft class, Williams looked to be on his way to stardom with 23 touchdown catches in his first three seasons.  Soon however Williams fell out of favor in Detroit due to injuries and a prima donna attitude and was shipped off to the Dallas Cowboys for a boatload of draft picks.  Needless to say Williams was a colossal bust in Dallas as Miles Austin and Dez Bryant rendered him a third receiver and so the Cowboys didnt even bat an eye in cutting ties with Williams once the lockout was completed.  So why do I think Williams makes a good fantasy football sleeper for 2011?  Allow me to explain.

As far as what a prototypical receiver should look like, Williams would be a good model due to his 6-3 frame and solid speed for his size.  Williams was quite possibly the best recever in college football while at Texas and it seemed the sky was the limit.  Unfortunately starting off with the miserable Lions stunted his growth despite some early success and soured his attitude.  Than when he went to Dallas, he walked into a loaded offense that had many various weapons which cut into his numbers and hid what he could offer with a better chance for more targets.  Williams has now ended up in Chicago with a pure gun slinging QB in Jay Cutler who has been in dire need of a go-to-receiver since coming to town.  In Williams, Cutler now has his best wideout since Brandon Marshall in Denver and no doubt with Mike Martz running the show, the Bears will take to the air all season.  Williams will be the prime beneficiary of this attack and so just for the fact he is the number 1 receiver with an accomplished QB who likes to throw, he stands a very good chance to put up numbers close to what he first arrived in the league. 

Regarding what numbers we could expect from Williams, there is no doubt that he can reach the 80 catch plateau in the Martz offense with Cutler throwing to him all season.  A run at 1,000 yards would go with it, along with 6-8 TD's.  Thats wide receiver 2 numbers folks and this from a guy who is being drafted toward the end of fantasy football drafts this summer.  So do yourself a favor and take advantage at the upside and value Williams could provide for your roster.  Its these kind of guys who win you titles and Williams could prove to be one of the best bargains this season.

2011 PROJECTION:  81 catches 1,094 yards 7 TD

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

FANTASY BASEBALL CLOSER NEWS: GIANTS CLOSER BRIAN WILSON SIDELINED WITH INFLAMMED ELBOW

San Francisco Giants closer Brian Wilson has been sidelined with inflammation in his pitching elbow which marks yet another health issue for the stopper.  Dr. James Andrews found no structural issues with his elbow and the team hopes he will be all right in a few days.  With Sergio Romo also on the DL, Jeremy Affeldt is the favorite for saves.

Analysis:  Wilson has had back and elbow problems this season and it could be that last season's World Series campaign has left him tired.  Keep a close eye here and get ready to add Affeldt if he lands on the DL with this.

FANTASY FOOTBALL NEWS: FALCONS TO GO TO THE AIR MORE IN 2011

The Atlanta Falcons will look to throw the ball much more this season due to their collection of potentially the most explosive group of receivers in the league.  Under the controls of Matt Ryan, wideouts Roddy White, rookie Julio Jones, and Harry Douglas, along with TE Tony Gonzalez, the Falcons have all the pieces to be the top passing offense in the game this season.

Analysis:  Matt Ryan is the darkhorse candidate to lead the league in TD passes this season so if you miss out on the top guys in the draft, be sure to get your hands on him later on. 

FANTASY FOOTBALL NEWS: WILLIS MCGAHEE TAKING GOAL-LINE SNAPS IN PRACTICE

Its looking Willis McGahee will eat into another fantasy football backs value, with this time being Knowshon Moreno, as he was the goal-line back in practice Tuesday.  McGahee is a much bigger back than Moreno and so the move makes sense in that regard.

Analysis:  Not good news for Moreno and his fantasy football owners as he will see a drop in value because of this.  You cant be surprised by this anyway as McGahee did the same job in Baltimore for Ray Rice.  Drop Moreno a few spots before you draft.

FANTASY BASEBALL STATUS REPORT: DESMOND JENNINGS OUTFIELDER TAMPA BAY RAYS

One of the more anticipated prospect arrivals in fantasy baseball over the last year and a half has been Tampa Bay Rays outfielder Desmond Jennings who many compared to his predecessor Carl Crawford.  That was mighty high praise since up until this season, Crawford was a guy who performed annually like a second or third round draft pick.  Once Crawford signed with the Red Sox in the offseason, the door was wide open for Jennings to take his place at the top of the Rays lineup but it took until midseason for him to do so after a failed cup of coffee with the club at the end of 2010.  The results since his promotion however have been out of this world as Jennings ended last night's action (where he hit a home run and stole a base in the doubleheader against the Red Sox) hitting .337 with 5 home runs and 9 stolen bases in only 89 at-bats.  To say that Jennings has been a difference maker down the stretch in fantasy baseball is a huge understatement and he certainly is putting himself on all the must have lists for next season's draft.  So in our latest Fantasy Baseball Status Report, lets take a deeper look at Jennings the player and determine if what we are seeing is just a hot stretch or if he is fulfilling his vats potential.

To start off, the steals and runs have always been a part of the Jennings package as he is blazing fast and is the prototypical leadoff hitter.  So that part of his game is always going to be a part of the equation.  In a full season, Jennings has the ability to steal 40 bases easy and 50 is not out of the question either.  Also 100 runs out of the leadoff spot is the goal for any leadoff guy and Jennings is capable of this for sure. 
As far as the average is concerned, Jennings is being influenced some by a bit of a lucky BABIP but he has a string of .290-.300 seasons in the minors and there is no doubt he can do that at the major league level due to his high contact rate.  So already we are looking at a .290-.300 hitter with the potential for 100 runs and 40 SB. 

Last but not least the power.  The 5 home runs have been a huge surprise when it comes to Jennings who hadnt shown much pop down on the farm.  That is until this season when he hit 12 in the minors before his promotion and carried the power to the majors.  Now I am not suggesting Jennings is a 20-HR guy for sure but its nice to know he has already shown the ability to threaten the 15 mark.  As he continues to fill out, more power will come and so a 20/40 or even 20/50 season cold be the result.  So surely Jennings is a name to know in all fantasy baseball formats as he profiles as someone who could put up second or third round numbers as he continues to develop.

All in all, Desmond Jennings is a guy I am going to try and own in all of my fantasy baseball leagues.  He is a budding star who has all the tools to be the next big power/speed dynamo.  Be sure to reach for him next season when youir draft arrives in the spring. 

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

FANTASY BASEBALL CLOSER NEWS: BLUE JAYS CLOSER JON RAUCH PLACED ON DL AFTER APPENDECTOMY

The Toronto Blue Jays placed closer Jon Rauch on the DL Tuesday after he underwent an emergency appendectomy.  Frank Francisco is likely to close in his place.

Analysis:  This came out of leftfield and so we are back to seeing the ugly Francisco torture us in the ninth inning again.  Again if you need saves go for it but if you can get by without him, I would do so since your WHIP and ERA will get hurt.

2011 FANTASY FOOTBALL DRAFT GUIDES ALL ON SALE, ATHLON SPORTS, PROFESSIONAL EDITION, PRO FOOTBALL WEEKLY

As usual, the 2011 fantasy football draft guides are on sale through yours truly for the cover prices of $7.99 (plus $5.00 for shipping).  Currently in stock are the 2011 Professional Edition with Aaron Rodgers on the cover, the Athlon Sports issue with Rodgers on the cover, and the Pro Football Weekly issue with Arian Foster on the cover.  Use the respective BUY NOW tabs above to purchase or just visit the Fantasy Baseball/Fantasy Football Fantasy Sports Boss store page. 

FANTASY BASEBALL NEWS: PHILLIES SP COLE HAMELS HAS SHOULDER INFLAMMATION

An MRI revealed that Philadelphia Phillies SP Cole Hamels has mild shoulder inflammation and at this point he will only be skipped in the rotation.  Hamels had complained of a dead arm in his last start and the team hence ordered the test.

Analysis:  Like with Tommy Hanson, Hamels is coming down with a bum shoulder at a bad time for fantasy baseball owners.  Hamels has been pretty durable over the last three seasons but this is a big concern.  If he doesnt show improvement in the next few days, he will go to the DL.  Stay tuned.

FANTASY BASEBALL NEWS: GIANTS PLACE OUTFIELDER CARLOS BELTRAN ON DL WITH HAND STRAIN

The San Francisco Giants have placed outfielder Carlos Beltran on the DL Tuesday with what the team is referring to as a hand strain.  The move was retroactive to August 8th so Beltran could be back in a little over a week.  Brandon Belt is expected to pick up the time in the outfield.

Anlysis:  Beltran hasnt done much since going to San Fran and now he will sit for a bit.  The beneficiary is Belt who will get an extended look in his absence. 

2011 FANTASY SPORTS BOSS FANTASY FOOTBALL DRAFT RECAP: ROUND 5

Round 5 of the 2011 fantasy sports boss fantasy football PPR money league draft was shaping up as a critical one for me as I zeroed in on my old friend TE Jason Witten.  I have drafted Witten for four straight seasons and took a risk this season in not taking him in round 4 like usual as I instead went with Wes Welker.  At this point I have Welker and Andre Johnson at WR and LeSean McCoy and Frank Gore at RB.  I still need a QB but not this round as me and one other team are the only ones without a QB.  So its Witten followed by Jermichael Finley as the backup choice there.  Lets see how things went in the round.

41. Anquan Boldin: Boldin has an up and down 2010 season as it appeared he struggled to get on the same page as QB Joe Flacco.  Boldin has been a PPR weapon for years but he has to show this season that he can get back to the 90 catch plateau which will be tough in this run-dominated offense. 

42. Jason Witten:  Son of a.....!  There it is.  Oh well.  It hurts not to get Witten since he is the best PPR fantasy football tight end in my mind but now its Finley or bust who I think is sitting on a monster season.  Great pick here.

43. Ahmad Bradshaw:  Great value here.  Bradshaw slipped through the cracks in this draft for some reason.  He is coming off a big time 2010 season where he showed he could be an every down back.  The Giants will give Brandon Jacobs more carries as Bradshaw seemed to wear down as the season went along in 2010 and he also will take goal-line duties which hurts.  Still Bradshaw will get his numbers and in round 5 its a steal.

44. Jeremy Macklin:  Too early for Macklin who has a lot of competition for catches in the Eagles offense.  Better choices would have been Dez Bryant or Stevie Johnson.  Macklin is the better PPR guy over teammate DeSean Jackson however.

45. Mark Ingram:  Talk about a reach.  Ingram is the hot rookie running back name but fantasy football owners have to do their research when it comes to his name.  He didnt catch passes in college so he wont be much of a PPR guy and he plays in an offense that doesnt emphasize any one player whether catching or running the ball.  DeAngelo Williams, LeGarrette Blount, Ryan Matthews, and Knowshon Moreno were all still on the board.  For me its still Jermichael Finley all the way.

46. DeAngelo Williams:  This is an interesting choice.  Up until last season, Williams was a guy who put up round 1 fantasy football numbers.  Everyone has had a bad year and he could easily get back on track this season at a nice price.  Still Moreno would have been a better pick since he wil get goal-line carries.

47. Ryan Grant:  Many are forgetting about Grant which would be a mistake.  James Starks' performance last season was overrated and this is the same guy who rushed for over 1,200 yards for two straight seasons before getting hurt in the opener last season.  Good value.

48. Fantasy Sports Boss Pick:  Jermichael Finley:  I got my man in Finley who if he can only stay healthy could be in line to post a big season.  We saw how great he could be before the injury last season and although he wont be the PPR guy that is Witten, Finley could hit 10 TD's.  With this taken care of, I will now look for a third RB or my third WR.  Looking hard at Moreno who I like as a PPR back and also am looking at Dez Bryant or Stevie Johnson at WR. 

49. Stevie Johnson:  Johnson had one of the better breakout seasons in fantasy football in 2010 as he went on a tear midway through the season all the way through the championship game.  The Buffalo passing game is perennially bad but Ryan Fitzpatrick actually seemed like he could get the job done last season.

50. Knowshon Moreno:  Damnit.  I really liked Moreno and wanted him as my third back since its always a good idea to be stacked up there with bye weeks and injuries being issues.  Now I am looking at receiver only as I dont like the better backs left like Ryan Matthews or Joseph Addai at this point in the draft.

So that five rounds in the book and I still need a third receiver and a QB.  Tony Romo and Matt Schaub are still there and I will grab one of them after my next pick which will be a receiver.  Dez Bryant, rookie Julio Jones, and Kenny Britt are entering my mind.  I wont touch Santonio Holmes or Sidney Rice who are also in that value group since they arent great PPR guys.  On an on we go.


2011 FANTASY FOOTBALL DRAFT BUST: DWAYNE BOWE WR KANSAS CITY CHIEFS



A year ago at this time, I wrote a post about how I thought Kansas City Chiefs WR Dwayne Bowe was a big time fantasy football sleeper and was someone to target in all leagues.  Needless to say I nailed that one as Bowe put up a ridiculously great 2010 campaign when he caught 72 passes for 1,162 yards and an absurd 15 TD's.  No doubt Bowe was one of the better fantasy football values in the league last season but I will go in the other direction this season and consider him a potential bust candidate.  Before you immediately click off and never come back again, allow me to explain.

When looking at Bowe's 2010 season, the number that obviously shouts the loudest for attention are the 15 scores.  Anything over 10 in fantasy football for receivers is considered top level and when you get to the mid-teens, you are having an All Pro season.  No one is disputing that Bowe had this type of season in 2010 but when the best aspect of your value comes from scoring touchdowns, that's when we could run into some issues.  Quite frankly, touchdowns in fantasy football are like wins in fantasy baseball.  You can count on them from year to year and they can fluctuate wildly.  Like a pitcher in baseball who needs run support and good defense to win games, a receiver in football needs to have a competent QB throwing him the ball and be playing in an offense that emphasizes the pass.  This is where we run into problems.

For starters, Matt Cassel is certainly not what you would consider a big time NFL QB, no matter that he threw for 27 TD's last season.  I can guarantee you in 12-team leagues, no one is drafting him to be their starter and that's because there was a lot of flukishness to Cassel's performance last season and in turn Bowe's.  Cassell barely threw for over 3,000 yards last season which is not a good passing total and so an inordinate amount of his throws ended up in scores which simply wont happen again unless the Chiefs open things up downfield.  That wont happen as head coach Todd Haley believes in running the football and the Chiefs ran it as much as anyone last season.  When you have Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones in the backfield, its an easy decision to make.  So what that means is Bowe wont be getting the number of looks like some of the other fantasy football wideouts being drafted around him like Miles Austin and Marques Colston.  And expecting Bowe to replicate those 15 scores with those few amount of throws coming his way is tough.  On top of all of this, we haven't even gotten to the fact the Chiefs brought in the very capable Steve Breaston to play opposite Bowe and drafted Jon Baldwin in the 2011 draft.  Those two will also compete with Bowe for precious catches and so once again its easy to surmise that Bowe will have a tough time living up to the expectations his owners will have for him this season.

All in all, I think Dwayne Bowe is someone to look past in PPR leagues in favor or a Miles Austin or a Marques Colston due to the draft spot needed to get him.  In TD heavy formats, Bowe is more valuable but again asking him to reproduce those 15 scores again is not smart.  Just remember I have been right in the past about this guy.

2011 PROJECTION:  70 catches 1,018 yards 11 TD

FANTASY BASEBALL CLOSER NEWS: BOBBY PARNELL TO TAKE OVER CLOSER ROLE FOR METS

The New York Mets announced that Bobby Parnell will take over as closer now that Jason Isringhausen earned his 300th save.  Parnell is being groomed to be the closer of the future for the Mets, despite getting hit around his last few outings including last night. 

Analysis:  Parnell is an ugly pitcher to watch in that he can throw 100-mph but its straight as an arrow which is why he keeps getting hit around lately.  Add Parnell only if you are desperate because the damage he will do to your WHIP and ERA could be ugly. 

Monday, August 15, 2011

2011 FANTASY SPORTS BOSS FANTASY FOOTBALL DRAFT ROUND 4 ANALYSIS



Round 4 of the 2011 fantasy sports boss fantasy football draft is up next for analysis and at this point I had already landed Andre Johnson at receiver, along with LeSean McCoy and Frank Gore at running back.  I passed on Wes Welker in round 3 and will hope he drops back to me in round 4 since this is a PPR league and his extreme contributions in catches are very valuable.  Also Jason Witten could be in jeopardy since I always draft him in round 4 and will have to hope he drops to round 5.  Anyway lets see how things shook out in this round.

31. Dwayne Bowe:  Bowe is interesting to me in that the 15 TD catches he had last season likely wont be repeated.  When your best attribute from the previous season is touchdowns, the likeliehood of being a bit overdrafted is high and thats the case here, especially in PPR.  The Chiefs could be the most run-heavy team in the league and Steve Breaston and rookie Jon Baldwin are on board to take some catches away.  Miles Austin would have been the better pick. 

32.  Miles Austin:  Speaking of Austin.  I was starting to get tempted to take him over Welker but now its all Welker for me.  Austin was the best receiver in fantasy football before Tony Romo got hurt last season and he once again could be front and center with the catches. 

33. Wes Welker:  Yahtzee.  I gambled that Welker would be there and I got my man for the third time in four seasons.  He is a gem in PPR fantasy football leagues and he even scored 7 TD's last season.  Another year removed from knee surgery, Welker should get close to the 100-catch mark again.  So now I got to pray Witten makes it back to me.  With Antonio Gates still on the board, I am hopeful.

34. Marques Colston:  Its all receivers now as everyone is trying to shore that positon up after the QB run went by.  Colston always gives a good effort but is always shrouded in injury concerns.  Once the end of the season hits though, he usually has his numbers.  Still Brandon Marshall was a little bit more of a safer pick.

35. Vincent Jackson:  Jackson is back with the Chargers and will be the big time target deep for Phillip Rivers.  He has never been a PPR guy but he could easily go for double digits in scores.  Again I think Brandon Marshall was the better choice based on the league.

36. Antonio Gates:  Not good.  Now that Gates is off the board, Witten will soon follow.  I dont mind the pick as the fourth round is when I always look for tight end in the past but Gates is too injury prone and starting to get up there in age to go ahead of Witten and even Dallas Clark since this is PPR.

37. Brandon Marshall:  Its amazing how many receivers are going now and Marshall was a nice value at this point.  His QB stinks but he can catch 80 passes in his sleep.  His playoff matchups are rough though so trade him halfway through the season.

38. Matt Ryan:  Matty Ice goes a bit earlier than usual but I love the pick.  He is operating in quite possibly the most explosive offense in the league with Roddy White, Julio Jones, Tony Gonzalez, etc. and 30 scores is attainable.  Only two teams are without a QB now and Tony Romo and Matt Schaub are both available so I figure I will end up with one of them.  Hang on Witten.

39. Peyton Hillis:  Hillis was one of the best values in fantasy football last season as he caught a boatload of passes and rumbled his way into the end zone with regularity.  That is until the fantasy football playoffs arrived when he vanished under the workload.  Monatrio Hardesty will be getting a nice chunk of the work this season which will cut into his numbers some but I still like Hillis at this point in the draft due to his pass catching ability.

40. Mike Williams:  I am intrigued with Williams who opened a lot of eyes with a better than it looked rookie season.  Hitting double digits in scores in your first year is huge and its obvious that Josh Freeman is a fan.  He is not the best PPR guy around but the potential is there for more and we are entering that point in the draft where that is a factor.

So four rounds are in the book and my guy Witten is still out there.  He is only 7 picks away.  If Witten falls by the wayside, Jermichael Finley is my fallback as I will wait on QB since only one other team needs one.  No one else has caught my eye at this point so its a tight end or bust then next round. 

FANTASY BASEBALL NEWS: TIGERS LAND OUTFIELDER DELMON YOUNG FROM TWINS

In the first waivers trade, the Detroit Tigers have acquired outfielder Delmon Young from the Minnesota Twins for LHP Cole Nelson and a PTBNL. 

Analysis:  Young has never developed into the fantasy baseball star we all thought he would be.  It appeared he finally figured things out last season but he has gotten hurt and regressed once 2011 came around.  This news will only effect those in deep leagues. 

2011 FANTASY FOOTBALL DRAFT DEBATE: PHILLIP RIVERS/PEYTON MANNING/TOM BRADY QB

The 2011 fantasy football drafting season continues unabated and I bring you another draft debate to examine.  Today lets take a look at the top portion of the QB cheat sheet, specifically the Indianapolis Colts' Peyton Manning, the New England Patriots' Tom Brady, and the San Diego Chargers' Phillip Rivers.  All three guys are being drafted right in front of each other in various different orders.  Lets break things down and try to determine which guy really should be picked ahead of the other two in one of our closest drafte debates ever.  As always we compare the three in the various fantasy football scoring categories they are relevant with.

Passing Yards:  Rivers and Manning both hit the 4,700 yard mark last season which is as good as it gets in fantasy football.  Meanwhile Brady came just under the 4,000 yard mark with 3,900.  All three very easily can move back into that plateau this season but some issues need to be discussed.  The first is that the Colts will not throw nearly as often this season due to their desire to balance out their offense more with the running game.  New England also has vowed to run more and they found someone to do it with Ben-Jarvis Green Ellis.  Meanwhile in San Diego, Mike Tolbert and Ryan Matthews figure to see an increase in workload as well.  This one is too close to call but you have to give a boost to Manning and Rivers over Brady due to the much easier passing environment in the dome in Indy and in lovely San Diego over the swirling wind and snow in Foxborough. 
Advantage:  Slight one to Peyton Manning and Phillip Rivers

Touchdowns:  Again all three guys excelled here with each hitting the 30 TD mark.  Looking at each player's history is the key here as Brady has only cleared the 30 TD mark twice, while Manning has done it 6 times.  Rivers hasnt had nearly as long of a career but he has hit the mark just twice himself.  Go with the numbers.
Advantage:  Peyton Manning

Rushing Yards:  Dont look for anything here from these guys as all three are plodders through and through.  Leave the running to Aaron Rodgers and Michael Vick
Advantage:  None

Winner:  Peyton Manning

To me the ultimate durability and consistency that is Peyton Manning wins out over the other two.  The fact he also plays in a dome with four big time receiving weapons in Reggie Wayne, Pierre Garcon, Austin Collie, and Dallas Clark also cement this debate.  Rivers should follow closely and than Brady.  This is not a knock on either guy but Rivers has the better home field and has the yardage edge on Brady.  Thats exactly the order the three went in my recent fantasy football money league draft and so I cant fault how this turned out.  Your thoughts?????

FANTASY BASEBALL CLOSING TIME: RAFAEL BETANCOURT ENDS UP IN THE HOT SEAT


We only have a month and a half left in the season and since its Monday, we have to check in with the latest closer news around fantasy baseball.

-The big news of the week was that Huston Street made his annual trip to the DL with a right triceps strain.  That means top setup man Rafael Betancourt will get another chance to show he has the stones to close games.  Betancourt has annually been one of the best setup men in the game but has turned into mush when put into the ninth inning in the past.  He has the high K-rate to succeed there but he has to get his mind right.  Obviously he needs to be added since he will getting saves and Street may not be ready to go when he is eligible to come off the DL but it could be a bumpy ride.

-Not much word on trade talk involving guys who have slipped through waivers.  We wont be seeing big names like Heath Bell move but someone like a Jon Rauch or Jason Isringhausen is very possible these next few weeks.  Keep that in mind.

-Giants closer Brian Wilson wasnt available on Sunday due to a bad back and this has to be watched since this was the same ailment that landed him on the DL earlier in the season.  Sergio Romo is the handcuff and a very good one so watch this to see what takes place. 
-For as bad a start to the season that he had, Milwaukee's John Axford has turned in a stellar campaign.  In fact he has only gotten better since Francisco Rodriguez was brought over from the Mets and that tells you a lot about Axford's makeup and ability to handle stress.  He has now firmly established himself as a solid closer going forward to next season.

-Yes Mariano Rivera has had a rough week but the world would have to end before the Yankees decide to take him out of the ninth inning.  In due time though, David Robertson looks a bit like Billy Wagner huh?  Just saying. 

-The struggles continue for Indians closer Chris Perez and it was yours truly who told you right after the break to sell high (one of my better forecasts of the season).  Vinny Pestano has been absurdly good in the eighth inning all season and he is the guy to own if the team pulls the plug. 

Thats all for now as it once again was a light story week in the ninth inning.  As always keep checking back for the latest closer news as it takes place. 

Sunday, August 14, 2011

2011 FANTASY FOOTBALL DRAFT SLEEPER: TIM HIGHTOWER RB WASHINGTON REDSKINS

The Washington Redskins have gone through a massive reconstruction of their running game since head coach Mike Shanahan got into town.  Out went Clinton Portis, Larry Johnson, and Willie Parker and in came Ryan Torain the second half of last season and former Arizona Cardinals back Tim Hightower.  Going into training camp, it was widely believed that Torain would be the starter after some impressive outings last season in place of Portis.  However with Torain hurting again, Hightower seized the opportunity to start the Redskins' first preseason game Saturday and he responded by running for 44 yards on 10 carries and catching one pass.  It wasnt the best game we ever saw but afterwards, both Hightower and Shanahan made it clear that for now he will be the starter.  So with that being said, lets take a look at why I think Tim Hightower makes for a solid fantasy football sleeper this season.

The first thing that needs to be discussed is the fact that Hightower carries much more value in PPR fantasy football leagues than those in TD heavy formats.  In fact Hightower might very well be the best pass catcher out of the backfield in the NFL as he had some nice seasons in that regard while with the Cardinals with the topper being the 63 balls he caught in 2009.  So Hightower will be much more impressive in those formats without debate but he is also no slouch running the ball which makes him that much more intriguing.

During his three years in Arizona, Hightower also served as the goal-line back and he did his job very well with seasons of 8. 10, and 5 touchdowns.  Sure his career high in rushing yards was the 736 he put up last season but that was because Hightower was ceding much of the load to Beanie Wells.  He showed his ability there by putting up averages of 4.2 and 4.8 yards/carry the last two seasons.  So Hightower no doubt has what it takes to get things done on the ground.

The most exciting aspect though about Hightower could be the fact that Shanahan is his coach.  We have seen Shanahan work his magic with many no-name runners in the past such as Olandis Gary and Mike Anderson and there is no doubt he can do the same for Hightower.  Throw in the fact he can catch the ball as well as any runner around, and it seems clear that Hightower can be a huge fantasy football weapon this season at a very cheap price. 

2011 Projection:  1,020 8 TD 51 catches 2 TD