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Saturday, August 31, 2013

FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: PIRATES PICK UP 1B JUSTIN MORNEAU FROM TWINS

The Pittsburgh Pirates picked up Minnesota Twins 1B Justin Morneau on Saturday which is the last day players could be traded and be eligible for the playoffs. Morneau joins former New York Mets outfielder Marlon Byrd and catcher John Buck as late August pickups to aid in their playoff run.  Hitting .259 with 17 home runs, Morneau is expected to play 1B.

Analysis:  Nice move by the Pirates as Morneau will be a nice help.  His power has picked up as the year has moved along and the free-agent-to-be should be aiming for a strong finish to yield a new contract.


FANTASY BASEBALL WELCOME TO THE SHOW: BILLY HAMILTON OUTFIELDER/SHORTSTOP CINCINNATI REDS

                                                                    Portrait of Billy Hamilton

Speed, speed, and more speed.  Perhaps no single player in all of baseball, covering both the major and minor leagues, personifies the weapon that the stolen base can be than Cincinnati Reds shortstop/outfielder Billy Hamilton who will be called up by the team for Monday's game.  While Hamilton's role could range anywhere from everyday utility guy to a pinch runner the rest of the way for the playoff-bound Reds, the promise of a boatload of stolen bases being churned out by the Rickey Henderson/Vince Coleman modern day speed clone has potential fantasy baseball owners salivating.  In order to put the previous statement into proper perspective, here are Hamilton's stolen base totals the last two-plus seasons in the minor leagues.

2011:  103 steals
2012:  175 steals!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
2013:  75 steals

No the 2012 total is not a misprint and honestly it is one of those stats that is just impossible to believe unless you witnessed it in person.  The fact of the matter is that Hamilton is the most gifted stolen base dynamo since the days of Henderson and Coleman and it was his ability to single-handily win your team the top score in the steals category that got Hamilton drafted in more than a few leagues this past winter despite no guarantees he would grab a roster spot out of spring training.  The fact of the matter was that Hamilton was not ready at that point to contribute at the major league level as anything more than a pinch runner and so as not to retard his development, the Reds correctly send him down for more seasoning.  With the playoff drive in full force and the minor league seasons wrapping up soon, now was deemed the perfect time to get Hamilton his first look at the professional level.

In looking at Hamilton's overall stat line from Triple-A this season, we already know his excellent prowess on the basepaths and the runs scored that go along with it so no need to go over the obvious.  As far as the rest of the package is concerned, Hamilton has underachieved a bit there.  His .256 average is quite disappointing considering his speed.  And forget about power as Hamilton has only 6 home runs and 41 RBI.  While he is not Juan Pierre or Ben Revere when it comes to putting up a doughnut in those categories, he is not going to be a help there either.  So basically in essence what you are getting are two potential blockbuster stat contributions in runs and steals and 3 rough categories in home runs, RBI, and maybe average.  So there are clearly some limitations to be aware of overall.  And with regards to the remainder of 2013, it is possible Hamilton won't play everyday and instead be used as a pinch runner or late game defensive replacement.  Thus it may be tough to rely on using Hamilton as an everyday fantasy baseball hitter.

Overall, Billy Hamilton should be one fun show to watch for the rest of 2013 and become a more intriguing potential draft pick for 2014 given the notion he will likely be handed a starting job somewhere.  Strap in as this is going to be one exciting ride.


FANTASY BASEBALL WRAPUP: FRIDAY

                                                               

Another day closer to the end of the season means you got to stay on top of all the latest news.  Here is what caught my eye in fantasy baseball Friday.

-The unreal comeback season of Pittsburgh Pirates SP Francisco Liriano continued Friday as he tossed eight scoreless in a 5-0 win over the St. Louis Cardinals.  Liriano gave up only 2 hits and 2 walks while striking out six as he lowered his ERA to 2.57 and 135 K's in 133 innings.  This is the Liriano we all drooled over when he first came up with Minnesota with an explosive strikeout arsenal.  Sure getting out of the AL was key but Liriano has been beyond incredible.  One of the very best fantasy baseball values in the game irregardless of position.

-Julio Teheran is trying to make sure we don't forget about him in a rookie class dominated by talk of the pre-injury Matt Harvey and Marlins sensation Jose Fernandez.  Teheran threw 6.1 innings of one run ball in giving up only 4 hits and 3 walks while striking out 8.  That raised his record to 11-7 while lowering his ERA to a splendid 3.01.  Another example of how deep pitching in this season as Harvey, Fernandez, and Teheran were all guys who could be had in the middle of 2013 drafts or off the waiver wire altogether.

-Pitching once again was the dominant theme Friday night as Los Angeles Angels ace Jered Weaver threw six scoreless innings in giving up 3 hits and 3 walks with 3 K's.  Weaver has now pitched to a nice 3.30 ERA and 1.13 WHIP with 102 K's in 128.1 innings.  The K rate will never approach 200 again, let alone 175 due to diminished velocity but Weaver still is getting outs at a nice clip.  As long as you grade him as an SP 2 and not the ace he used to be, you will be fine.

-Tajuan Walker did just fine in his first MLB start Friday, giving up an unearned run in five innings.  Overall Walker gave up only 2 hits and 1 walk while striking out 2.  The strikeouts were not what was expected since Walker was a machine in that regard in the minors but the debut overall was a big success.  He has a few starts left before he gets shut down and his standing as quite possibly the top pitching prospect still in the minor leagues before his promotion makes him a decent pickup for the stretch.

-Dustin Ackley might have finally figured out how to hit at the major league level as he went 4-for-5 Friday night with 4 RBI.  Ackley is now hitting .411 for August which has raised his overall average to .261.  The lack of help in the home runs and stolen bases department though limits his upside.

INJURIES:

-Detroit Tigers MVP candidate Miguel Cabrera is likely looking at the weekend off after he had to come out of Friday's game in the third inning with what the team is calling an abdominal injury.  No word whatsoever of Cabrera going on the DL but any game he will miss is a big one for fantasy baseball owners who are looking to nail down a league championship.

-Colorado Rockies outfielder Dexter Fowler could hit the DL with pain behind his left knee.  The team is calling it a sprain and he will sit out at least the weekend.  It has been a rough second half for Fowler due to various maladies which have taken some shine off his nice first half.

-Minnesota Twins catcher Joe Mauer, dealing with a concussion, will hit off a tee Saturday.  Mauer has been out since August 19th and if all goes well with the hitting session, could be ready for a rehab assignment in the middle of the upcoming week.

There you have it.  As always let us hear your thoughts.


Friday, August 30, 2013

FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: REDS TO CALL UP BILLY HAMILTON MONDAY

                                                            

The Cincinnati Reds will call up top infield prospect Billy Hamilton from the minors for Monday's game according to multiple reports.  The record-breaking stolen base dynamo will likely split time in the infield and the outfield the rest of the way.

Analysis:  Go get him.  Those who need a late-season boost in steals should look no further.  Hamilton's stolen base acumen is well documented and he could be the first man to steal 100 bases since Vince Coleman in 2014.


2013 FANTASY BASEBALL UPDATED SECOND BASEMAN RANKINGS

We began with the catchers yesterday in one of our last position ranking updates of the season and today we move to the second baseman.  Let's see how this underperforming group stacks up at this point.

1.  Robinson Cano:  Numbers are down in the power department but he had little to no support at times.  Still the best second baseman by a mile.
2.  Jason Kipnis:  Slowing down in the second half again but the juice has been terrific with 16 home runs and 23 steals with more room to imrpove.
3.  Dustin Pedroia:  Only 8 home runs in over 500 at-bats take some shine off his ledger.
4.  Brandon Phillips:  Has batted cleanup most of the season and leads the position with a splendid 95 RBI.  Once again underrated.
5.  Matt Carpenter:  Top notch in runs (100) and average (.314).  Qualifies all over the diamond.
6.  Ian Kinsler:  Major erosion could be at work here as Kinsler's numbers fell off a cliff with only 11 home runs and 11 RBI and a pathetic 65 runs.
7.  Kyle Seager:  Diamond in the rough that is Seattle as Seager up to 21 home runs and 6 steals.
8.  Martin Prado:  Qualifies everywhere and has actually done some home run hitting for the first time in his career.
9.  Ben Zobrist:  Old reliable once again getting his numbers in order like usual with little fanfare.
10. Chase Utley:  Don't laugh.  Utley has been pretty darn good this season when everyone thought he was as good as dead.  Just don't count on lightning repeating itself.
11.  Aaron Hill:  Hill would have been very good if he didn't miss so much time with injury so he gets a mulligan.
12. Daniel Murphy:  The 17 steals were shocking but went nicely with his always good average and all right pop.
13. Brian Dozier:  Only hitting .241 but did a nice Ian Kinsler-lite impression with 13 home runs and 10 steals.  Interesting.
14. Jose Altuve:  Very good source of steals but not much else.
15. Brett Lawrie:  Picked up second base eligibility which is nice and bat has perked up lately.  Always chasing the numbers though that haven't even shown up yet.
16. Howie Kendrick:  Was in midst of career season before he got hurt yet again.
17. Dan Uggla:  Strictly the Adam Dunn of second basemn.
18. Jed Lowrie:  Was useful at times with his pop but that's about it.
19. Marco Scutaro:  The definition of an empty average.
20. Rickie Weeks:  Leave him alone and don't ever look back.
21. Everth Cabrera:  Gets knocked way down after steroids bust.

There you have it.  As always let us hear your thoughts.

 

FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: CARDS ACQUIRE FORMER CLOSER JOHN AXFORD FROM BREWERS

The St. Louis Cardinals boosted their bullpen Friday in picking up former closer John Axford from the Milwaukee Brewers for a player to be named later.  With Cards closer Edward Mujica pitching through a shoulder injury, Axford could be viewed as insurance in case he needs a DL stint. 

Analysis:  Nothing to see here as Axford has been horrible this season in losing his closer job to Jim Henderson and now being given up on.  Leave him be.


 

FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: INDIANS PICK UP OUTFIELDER JASON KUBEL FROM D-BACKS

                                                             

The Cleveland Indians shored up their batting lineup Friday in finalizing a deal with the Arizona Diamondbacks for outfielder Jason Kubel.  The D-Backs get a player to be named later and will eat $2.5 million which includes a $1 million buyout for 2014. 

Analysis:  Kubel will help as his home run stick is what the Indians need.  He has had a rough 2013 season overall due to injuries and a downcast in power.  Overall he remains nothing but a low end outfielder 3.


FANTASY FOOTBALL PRESEASON GAME 4 WRAPUP: THURSDAY

The fourth preseason game in football is almost meaningless for the majority of fantasy football-worthy players since they mostly sit on the bench due to the fear of injury with the opener so close.  However there was still some major news to get to, starting with a certain New York Giants runner whose value is on the way up.

-Those who snatched up New York Giants second-year running back David Wilson with the idea he was on the verge of a major blockbuster season were no doubt a bit concerned to learn early in camp that Andre Brown would be heavily involved in the carries allotment, while also being in charge of goal-line work.  However for the second time in two seasons, Brown suffered a broken left leg which could sideline him for all of a good chunk of 2013 depending on the severity.  Brown called it a "tiny crack" whatever that means but either way Wilson is now getting the lion's share of work which will likely include goal-line duties unless Ryan Torain gets dusted off a bit.  This is potentially humongous news for Wilson's value and his owners could now have that breakout season they were looking for.  This is Chris Johnson's twin if all breaks right.

-The New England Patriots are expected to activate tight end Rob Gronkowski from the PUP list Saturday which is the last day they can do so or else they lose him until Week 7.  Reports have continued to indicate Gronk will be able to return sometime in mid-September from the back surgery he had in January.  He still scares the hell out of me with his injury history and remaining uncertainty of when he will get back but at least coming off PUP is a nice sign.

-Ronnie Hillman played in the meaningless preseason finale for the Broncos Thursday which could be telling in that the team's likely wouldn't put him out there for fear of injury if he was in line to be a major runner for them.  Instead Knowshon Moreno and rookie Montee Ball didn't play which could be a sign the two of them will be featured over Hillman.  Either way this whole situation has been one big mess and it is almost impossible to tell who to own at this point.  We reported that Moreno would be named the starter and we stand by that assessment.

FANTASY BASEBALL WRAPUP: THURSDAY

-Another day and yet another homer for Oakland A's slugger Brandon Moss.  That is now four home runs in the last three games and 7 in the last 10.  And as a nice bonus he threw in his fourth SB.  Clearly Moss is as locked in as he will ever be so scoop him up wherever available.

-New York Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy continued with his nice season Thursday in going 4/5 with his 18th SB.  The speed has been shocking as Murphy never showed much in that category before but when combined with his nice average and RBI totals, you have a solid fantasy baseball second baseman on your hands.

-Detroit Tigers outfielder Torii Hunter has reminded me of why I have always loved owning him in his career on Thursday as he cracked a three-run walk-off home run against the Oakland A's and their closer Grant Balfour.  Overall Hunter is having a typical season of his with 16 home runs and 70 RBI while hitting .308.

-Prince Fielder went yard for the 21st time while hitting .268.  Clearly the power has been negatively affected since going to Detroit and in the offseason he has to sit down with Miggy and figure out how to remedy this.

-Brian Dozier is really starting to be a guy who is on my MUST DRAFT list for 2014 as he smacked his 14th HR Thursday to bring his power/speed totals to 14/10.  The .243 average needs a lot of work but I can be patient there if the rest of the juice remains in play.

-Bryce Harper hit his 19th HR Thursday night while hitting .280 but really if you gave his owners truth serum, they would admit to being mildly disappointed.  The way he started so hot likely gave those owners ideas of at LEAST a 30-home run season but injuries and strikeouts undermined him in the middle of the season.  Listen I still think he is worth a first round grade next season as keep in mind he is still only 22.

-Jayson Werth is now becoming that older veteran that I have on my teams every season because the rest of the fantasy baseball community just refuses to look his way no matter how much he hits.  Werth slugged his 21st HR Thursday night as he hits a terrific .329.  The average is actually way more surprising that the power as Werth has consistently driven the ball since his early Dodgers days.  Keep ignoring him please.

-Gio Gonzalez picked up his eight win in throwing 7 innings of shutout ball with only 3 hits surrendered and 8 strikeouts.  The 3.56 ERA and 1.28 WHIP show some more struggles this season for the guy we almost nailed as our darkhorse Cy Young pick  in 2012 but overall Gonzalez successfully pushed through the Biogenesis mess to return a profit.

-Aramis Ramirez remains one of the most dependable second half stud hitters in the game as he smacked his 9th HR Thursday night to up his average to .268.  You all know how much love I have given Ramirez over the years but I even have to admit he is now very scary at 37 with injuries once again revealing their ugly head early on.

-Yes I still hate Yovani Gallardo.  Not as a person because I am not like that but as a fantasy baseball pitcher.  Have for years.  Don't give a hoot he threw 7 innings of shutout ball to lower his ERA to 4.39.  Yes Gallardo's fastball has had more life lately but his 1.42 WHIP remains a true indicator of how rough around the edges he is.

-Wow Chris Tillman.  Despite recommending to pick him up in May, even I didn't see 15 wins with a month to go.  He struck out 8 Thursday night in giving up only 2 earned runs in 7 innings to lower his ERA to 3.61.  The 1.23 WHIP has also steadily declined since April and he now carries a rock solid SP 2 grade.

-Kris Medlen has been hit or miss all season but he was in the HIT mode Thursday in throwing 7 shutout innings to lower his ERA to 3.58.  His fastball has been WAY DOWN from his blockbuster 2012 second half showing and the 1.29 WHIP shows this.  Big time disappointment even when you factor in the fact he was never going to live up to where he was last July to October.

-


Thursday, August 29, 2013

RYAN STEELE IS BACK WITH HIS PRIME NFL ATS PLAYS

For the third straight season, professional handicapper Ryan Steele is back with his weekly NFL prime plays along with free selections on the other games each week.  Ryan hit his picks at a 58 percent clip in 2012 which goes nicely with his 61 percent mark in 2011 and 55 percent mark in 2010.  So in other words all he does is win.  Be sure to check out his picks each and every week and also be sure you sign up for his prime plays by using the BUY NOW either on the homepage or on Ryan's reserved page.

FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: ORIOLES GET MIKE MORSE AND JOSH WILLINGHAM ON WAIVERS, WILL TRADE FOR ONE

                                                            

The Baltimore Orioles have been awarded the winning claim on both outfielders Mike Morse and Josh Willingham.  According to CBS Sports' Jon Heyman, the Orioles will complete a deal with one of them before this weekend. 

Analysis:  Morse has been a sizable disappointment this season in batting only .226 with 13 home runs while battling injuries.  He would be a help though to an Orioles squad that has struggled to hit for power.

FANTASY FOOTBALL ISSUES: THE LOWDOWN ON THE THREE ROOKIE RUNNING BACKS AND LAMAR MILLER TOO

With the fantasy football season getting ready to raise the curtain in a few more days, now is the perfect time to focus in a bit more on some of the more buzzy players entering the season which come in the form of rookie running backs Eddie Lacy, Giovani Bernard, LeVeon Bell, and second-year man who is almost like  rookie in Lamar Miller.  All four guys have had more than a little pop attached to their names during this past drafting season and despite some setbacks for some, they all carry more than a little potential heading into the new season.  Let's take a look at what could be expected out of this group.

LeVeon Bell:  We start with Bell because he has been in the news the most lately due to the foot injury he suffered in the team's second preseason game.  While not a dreaded Lisfranc, Bell is expected to miss 4-6 weeks.  However some optimism was added on Wednesday when it was learned Bell had shed the walking boot that was on him for the past 9 days.  While still not saying when he will be back, this was looked on as good news that Bell could return sometime in the Week 4-6 range of the regular season.  That would salvage more than a decent chunk of Bell's value who was fully expected to be the Steeler's workhorse runner right out of the gate.  During his time with the Michigan State Spartans, Bell was known for his pass receiving and tough straightline running.  Thus he will be an asset in both PPR formats due to his receptions total and in standard formats since he is big and tough enough to score near the goalline.  If you have a draft in the next week, be sure to take a shot on the discounted Bell who is looking like a decent bet to return earlier than originally projected.

Giovani Bernard:  Bernard has shot up the running back charts since the preseason began as he instantly hit the ground running in both his rushing and receiving totals.  The former North Carolina Tar Heel was a big time force in college, collecting a ton of passes and rushing yards along the way.  While a bit slight in size, Bernard has the ability to take the football to the house on any given carry and he has the potential to outshine all the other names on this list if he can push the mediocre BenJarvus Green-Ellis to the bench and take the goal-line work.  While it might be asking a bit much to have Green-Ellis lose his goal-line job due to his ability there in the past, I can see Bernard being a solid RB 2 who can be even more valuable in PPR formats.

Eddie Lacy:  Lacy nailed down the Green Bay Packers starting running back job early in camp as he easily outperformed fellow rookie Jonathan Franklin on the way toward showcasing a tough and powerful running style that fits seamlessly in the NFC North.  Lacy will be a power runner all the way who will be much more valuable in standard/TD-heavy leagues than in PPR as he is not as skilled as the other guys in this post in the latter part of the game.  However with the way the Packers offense moves up and down the field like a machine, Lacy could easily be looking at 10 touchdowns and maybe more.

Lamar Miller:  We include Miller here because he pretty much is like a rookie since he hardly played as a first-year player in 2012 behind Reggie Bush and Daniel Thomas.  Despite the Dolphins trying to convince everyone that there was a training camp battle between Miller and Thomas, the former easily outplayed the latter which is going to net him the outright job.  Miller was even seen on the field in goal-line possessions which could mean he will be the workhorse guy used in all situations.  That would be tremendous for Miller's value and could lead to a major breakout season overall.  Like with Bernard and Bell, Miller is a good receiver out of the backfield who has value both in PPR and standard leagues.  This is one stock that is clearly pointing north.

As you can see all four of these guys carry nice potential value play in fantasy football this season.  If I were to rank them, I would go Miller first followed by Lacy, Bernard, and Bell.  If Bell were going into the season healthy, I would put him right behind Miller in front of Lacy.  All four guys are looking at breakout seasons however and all four could easily be first or second round picks in 2014 if they develop properly.


FANTASY BASEBALL WRAPUP: WEDNESDAY

As always lots to get to in the day that was fantasy baseball Wednesday. Here are the performances that stood out.

-Chicago White Sox ace SP Chris Sale was masterful in striking out 12 Houston Astros while giving up only 4 hits and 1 earned run in eight innings. With a 2.99 ERA and 1.01 WHIP, Sale is further validating himself as one of the top pitchers in the game. There was quite a bit of fear that Sale would have some difficulties in 2013 after violating the Verducci Rules but so far there have been no issues. Those who got Sale at a bit of a discount due to those fears clearly are laughing all the way towards the fantasy baseball bank.

 -Philadelphia Phillies SP Cole Hamels was one of the best BUY LOW guys of the season which is what I told you all to do in May when his numbers were elevated due to some rough luck. Well Hamels has been terrific since June which he added to last night in striking out eight New York Mets in a 6-2 win. While he did give up 9 hits and a walk, Hamels wound up giving up only 2 earned runs in seven innings as he lowered his ERA to 3.58.

 -Jordan Schafer has found a home again in Atlanta as he looks to announce his presence as a late season fantasy baseball speed play. He swiped two more bags last night as part of a 3/4 day with 2 RBI.

-Ian Desmond was hot for the Washington Nationals Wednesday in going 3/4 with a steal which was his 18th of the season. Hitting .283, Desmond is once again having a top season at the shallow shortstop spot.

-It was a nice debut in Pittsburgh for outfielder Marlon Byrd who smacked his 22nd HR and collected his 3 RBI to raise hit toal to 74. Byrd has been a surprising power source all season and not even a trade can slow him down by the looks of things.

-Two more home runs for Brandon Moss Wednesday as part of a 4/6 night. Moss now has 24 home runs and 66 RBI as he once again is one of the better home run hitters who is doing it in a quiet way.

-Salvador Perez failed to come through for me in the first half of the season when I screamed all winter to draft him in thinking he was ready to full bust out. Well it took some time but Perez is starting to make good on that prediction as he cracked 2 home runs Wednesday as part of a splendid 4/5 game. In his last 11 games Perez is hitting .362 with 4 home runs and 16 RBI. Put him in the lineup.

-Daniel Duffy is a lefty who has shown some big strikeout totals in the minors to pique interest but injuries and poor performances at the Major League level made him a forgotten man. Well Duffy announced he is back in the majors Wednesday as he threw 6.2 shutout innings with 7 K's to beat the Minnesota Twins. Duffy would give up only 5 hits and the big key was no walks as control has been a problem in the past. Watch him closely and get ready to make a move here.

-Jay Bruce was hot Wednesday as he collected 5 RBI in a 10-0 whitewash of the St. Louis Cardinals. Bruce is having his typical big power season with 26 home runs and 87 RBI.

-This Chris Archer is something as he allowed only one run over seven innings. He gave up only 5 hits while not walking anyone to go with 5 K's. Archer is now 3-0 with only 4 earned runs in his last 21 innings.

-Toronto Blue Jays third baseman Brett Lawrie went 2/4 with 2 RBI Wednesday as they beat the New York Yankees 7-2. Lawrie has been a colossal bust this season but could offer some value the rest of the way if he was cut in your league earlier on. There you have it. As always let us know what you think. Please write below.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

2013 FANTASY BASEBALL UPDATED CATCHER RANKINGS

As we get ready to wind down the 2013 fantasy baseball season, let's update the rankings from all around the diamond starting with behind the dish.

1.  Buster Posey:  No contest here as Posey is as far as head of the number 2 as any other position in the game.
2.  Wilin Rosario:  20 homers and 71 RBI make Rosario the best power guy of this lot.
3.  Yadier Molina:  Getting better with age when it comes to his average but power down with only 10 homers.
4.  Victor Martinez:  Yup I recommended him to all of you and warned to stay patient off the expected slow start.  Now up to .290 with 70 RBI as he plays everyday.  Needs to pick up catcher appearances to hold eligibility though.
5.  Jason Castro:  Nice breakout season by Castro who already has 18 home runs and nice .282 average mark.
6.  Carlos Santana:  Getting bored of him.  Now consider him solid but not spectacular.
7.  Joe Mauer:  Average still exemplary but counting numbers down across the board to go with his mediocre pop.
8.  Jonathan Lucroy:  Having a career season with major gains in home runs, RBI, and even a few steals.
9.  Brian McCann:  Has saved his career by once again hitting for power and not being total average killer this season.
10. Mike Napoli:  Perfect fit in Boston playing 1B as he racks up the RBI.  Also could lose catcher eligibility though.
11. Matt Wieters:  Can't ever seem to keep the average solid which speaks to how far off the next Mike Piazza prediction was.

12. A.J. Pierzynski:  Has not completely fallen off the map but numbers WAY down as expected from his fluky 2012.
13. Salvador Perez:  No doubt a disappointment I will take a hit on.
14. Russell Martin:  Still drives the baseball but that is about the only positive left.
15. Evan Gattis:  Very interested if he can get everyday playing time in Atlanta or anywhere else. 
16. Miguel Montero:  Not sure what happened to him but most of it was not good.
17. Jarrod Saltalamacchia:  Home runs are best attribute but that's about it.
18. J.P. Arencibia:  Same deal as above.
19. Dioneer Navarro:  Hitting again which has found him back on roster this season.
20. Alex Avila:  Just another guy now after some pub in 2010.
21. Wellington Castillo:  Did all right early on but floor has bottomed out.




FANTASY FOOTBALL BREAKING NEWS: STEELERS RB LeVEON BELL (FOOT) OUT OF WALKING BOOT

                                                                 

Pittsburgh Steelers RB LeVeon Bell is already out of the walking boot he was wearing since injuring his right foot in the team's second preseason game.  This comes only nine days since he originally injured the foot and is a nice sign in him returning on the early end of the 4-6 weeks timetable.  Jonathan Dwyer and Issac Redman will split work until his return.

Analysis:  Great news and yours truly took Bell late in the Experts Draft in thinking he would be able to come back quicker than what most are saying.  So far that is looking like a smart gamble.

FANTASY BASEBALL CLOSING TIME: WELCOME BACK TYLER CLIPPARD

Closing Time only has a few more editions left and all saves are precious at this time of year.  Let's get to the latest news from around the league:

-Stating the obvious, the Washington Nationals have been an unmitigated disaster in 2013, with most looking at a horrid batting lineup that has been limp all season.  However the back of the bullpen has contributed their own problems as Rafael Soriano has been hit very hard since the middle of August.  Looking back from August 14th, Soriano has given up runs in 5 of his last seven appearances which spiked his ERA to a shaky for a closer 3.72.  Thus word began to emerge this past week that manage Davey Johnson is now thinking about using top setup man Tyler Clippard as the closer going forward despite the team not being in contention.  Clippard has been tremendous in 2013, pitching to a 1.97 ERA.  Yes Clippard lost the job midway through 2012 after finally being elevated to the ninth inning but that is yesterday's news.  The fact of the matter is that Clippard could be a major piece for those chasing late season saves and even though an official move has not been made yet, the time to make a move is now. 

-It is now looking like Bobby Parnell is done for 2013 as the out of contention Mets are not looking to have another young pitcher develop any long-term injuries on the heels of the Matt Harvey torn UCL.  Parnell at the very least however has proven himself to be a very solid closer and he already looks like a nice value heading toward 2014.

-Baltimore Orioles closer Jim Johnson is more proof positive of how you can never predict their performance.  After being quite possible the most dominant closer in 2012, Johnson has suffered under a load of blown saves this season which has spiked his ERA to 3.51 and pushed his WHIP to an ugly 1.35.  Keep this in mind when considering my advice to wait on closers for next season.  Remember it was me who told you to pass by Johnson and instead select Jason Grilli in your draft.

There you have it.  As always let us hear your thoughts.


FANTASY BASEBALL WRAPUP: TUESDAY

                                                                 

On and on it goes as the fantasy baseball season gets set to enter its final month already.   Here are some of the more noteworthy performances of Tuesday night:

-Kansas City Royals outfielder Alex Gordon went 2-for-5 with 3 RBI in the team's 6-1 win over the Minnesota Twins.  Despite a so-so .268 average, Gordon is filling up the runs and RBI columns with 71 and 69 respectively.  The fact Gordon is so durable helps with his counting stats but more in the way of home runs and steals would thrust him forward from his current borderline low end OF 2 status.

-Brandon Moss slammed his 22nd home run of the season for the Oakland A's last night, continuing his season of solid power numbers at the expense of his average.  With a .245 mark in that category, Moss is pretty much an RBI and HR guy only.

-New York Mets lefty Jonathan Niese should be picked up in all formats right now since he is pretty much locked in since returning from the DL for a shoulder problem.  Niese threw a 3-hitter in a 5-0 win by the Mets last night in a complete game shutout.  That ups Niese performance to only 6 earned runs allowed in 28 innings since his return.

-Finally some contributions from Milwaukee Brewers third baseman Aramis Ramirez who homered and drove in four by going 4-for-5 last night in a win over the Pittsburgh Pirates.  Ramirez is now in his best stretch of the season, having homered three times in his last nine games.

-Boston Red Sox outfielder Shane Victorino homered and drove in an insane 7 runs last night against the Baltimore Orioles, homering twice.  Victorino has now upped the average to a very good for him .292.

-The Alex Wood story continues to positively surprise us all, with the latest being a 5.2 innings scoreless outing Tuesday night in a win over Cleveland Indians.  Wood had to fight through some innings as he gave up five hits with four walks but he also struck out 5.  After 63.1 innings, Wood is now sporting a terrific ERA of 2.27 and gets the weak Miami Marlins in his next start.

-Alfonso Soriano has been an absolute monster since going back to the New York Yankees, with the latest hitting two more home runs Tuesday in a win over the Toronto Blue Jays.  Soriano has now hit 11 home runs with the Yankees in a month of games, with 28 total including his stint with the Chicago Cubs.  Clearly the man still has a ton left to give the many fantasy baseball owners who already are forgetting about him.

INJURIES:  New York Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano gave his team and his fantasy baseball owners a major scare after he took a J.A. Happ pitch off his left hand.  Cano immediately left the game but X-rays came back negative.  Consider Cano day-to-day and his owners have permission to exhale.

-Colorado Rockies outfielder Carlos Gonzalez took batting practice with the team Tuesday, swatting four home runs.  Gonzalez is on the DL with a sprained tendon on his middle finger and is looking to begin a rehab stint by the end of the week.

That's all for now.  As always check back for more injury updates.


FANTASY FOOTBALL NEWS AND NOTES: RG III CLEARED TO START, RONNIE HILLMAN BACK IN DENVER DRIVER'S SEAT?

                                                                    

Lots of news and notes to get to with opening week of the fantasy football season a little more than a week away.

-Washington Redskins second-year QB Robert Griffin III has officially been cleared by the team's medical doctors to start in Week 1.  Griffin has made it all the way back from knee surgery and even though head coach Mike Shanahan has yet to name him the starter, it is he is expected to do so as soon as Wednesday.  While Griffin was an absolute revelation who played like a star before wearing down with injuries late, his fantasy football stock is murky given the restraints that are likely to be put on him entering the season so as not to get hurt again.  In other words Griffin is not likely to be allowed to rush for near 1,000 yards.  If you do own Griffin with the idea of starting him, you better be sure to have a more than decent backup.

-Another day and another different running back topping the Denver Broncos depth chart.  Two days after reports surfaced that Knowshon Moreno would be named the team's starting RB and one day after rookie Montee Ball took first-team reps in practice, veteran Ronnie Hillman was back atop the depth chart Tuesday in on-field workouts.  Hillman's in-game fumbles this preseason have been a major annoyance to John Fox and the coaching staff but it also appears they want him to win the job and trust him the most.  Fox said Tuesday that he envisions both Hillman and Ball getting work during the season, not mentioning Moreno.  So basically this is one big mess that is not worth the effort in chasing fantasy football options.  Move on.

-Some concerning news from Chicago Bears star WR Brandon Marshall on Tuesday when he reported frustration in coming back from offseason hip surgery.  While Marshall has been a full participant in practice and preseason games, the fact he doesn't feel like himself is at least a bit mildly disappointing to hear.  However until he actually starts missing on-field work, I wouldn't worry too much.  Marshall still has top five receiver written all over him.

-The Seattle Seahawks as expected placed veteran WR Percy Harvin on the PUP list, not eligible to return until Week 7 at the earliest.  Still it is expected Harvin will be out until Thanksgiving and maybe the whole season altogether.  Some have drafted Harvin very late in hopes of getting something out of him later but he likely won't be involved in the running game or kick return duties if he does return.

-Houston Texans rookie WR DeAndre Hopkins has still not been cleared to return to the field off the concussion he suffered last week.  Hopkins will continue to try and pass the NFL-mandated concussions tests and if he does he still could suit up for Week 1.  He has potential to do some nice things as a big-play guy in the Houston passing game but is not expected to be more than a WR 3.

There you have it.  As always let us know your thoughts.


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

FANTASY FOOTBALL BREAKING NEWS: JONATHAN STEWART TO BE PLACED ON PUP, OUT THE FIRST SIX WEEKS WITH ANKLE INJURIES

                                                                

Carolina Panthers starting RB Jonathan Stewart is expected to be placed on the PUP list, thus costing him the first six games of the season due to injuries to both his ankles.  Stewart had failed to see any improvement in the ankles during camp and so DeAngelo Williams will serve as the team's top runner for Week 1.

Analysis:  Stewart was not much more than a RB 3 anyways so his loss is not tremendous.  Williams is an even worse investment as he has been awful the last three seasons after a short stint as a first round guy.  Stay away from this mess altogether.


FANTASY FOOTBALL BREAKING NEWS: ISSAC REDMAN AHEAD OF JONATHAN DWYER ON STEELERS RUNNING BACK DEPTH CHART

                                                                  

With Week 1 only twelve days away, Issac Redman apparently is atop the Pittsburgh Steelers running back depth chart ahead of Jonathan Dwyer.  It was assumed that Dwyer would be the starting back after LeVeon Bell went down with a foot injury but head coach Mike Tomlin has praised Redman's overall body of work which includes blitz pickup. 

Analysis:  Bell is expected back either in Week 3 or 4 so Redman's fantasy football value is no great as it is.  He is strictly a bench option and given the notion that Dwyer and even LaRod Stephens-Howling will get work, it is likely no one from this group will get enough work to be useful.


2013-14 FANTASY HOCKEY DRAFT STRATEGY

Fantasy Hockey Draft Day Prep

By Tim Wirzburger

The anticipation is over. After weeks of research, mock drafts, player analyzing, and stat checking, Draft Day has finally come. DDay is one of the most exciting, nerve-racking, and suspenseful days of the year. If you do it right, you’ll go to bed a happy man. If you don’t, you’ve got the trade offers going out within minutes.

There are many different DDay strategies or methods of approach that people like to use to build their teams, and I’ve used several of them over the years. The truth is, there is no one “right” way of doing it. It all depends on your style as a manager and what you value the most. Let’s take a look at some approaches some people like to take.

The “Offense First” Strategy
Throughout the course of the season, obviously, your offensive players are the ones racking up the most points. For this reason, many managers like to stack their team with the best available forwards in the early rounds and wait until round 5-6 to grab a goalie or defenseman. I’ve seen this strategy work for some and I’ve also seen it burn them.

In theory, grabbing as many of the most productive players as you can makes sense. Taking four or five forwards in a row ensures that your team will have some elite talent up front, but might also make your roster top heavy. By the time you finally pick a goalie, you might be stuck with an average fantasy goaltender like Backstrom or Smith as your number 1. This is fine if it fits into your strategy, but not having a strong goalie can hurt you.

The “Balanced” Strategy
This is the most common approach, and probably the safest. Guys who take this approach will typically have two forwards, a goaltender, and a defenseman in their first 4 rounds. Think something like Stamkos, Rinne, Parise, Subban. Not bad at all. This strategy forces you not to rely too heavily on any certain position, which is a good insurance policy in case the injury bug hits your team.

The “Goalie Priority” Strategy
I’ve seen plenty of managers recognize that every team will only have 2 or 3 guys who typically account for 40% of fantasy stats, so they place a top priority in nabbing two elite goalies. They might not take on in the first round unless they have a late pick, but they’ll have two elite goalies by round 3.

I’ve tried this before and ended up having Lundqvist and Luongo in net all season. It’s a great feeling knowing you’re so secure at the goalie position, leaving all your efforts to really focus on the other positions. I can’t really knock this strategy, but I personally wouldn’t take it again. I might grab one goalie early, and the others I’ll just take another a few rounds later.

(Side note- one year I drafted all goalies for the first 8 rounds, snagging all the elite net minders. Seriously, I had Lundqvist, Brodeur, Miller, Thomas, Fleury, Ward, Rinne, and Kiprusoff. My thought at the time was it would give me all the high roller chips and force managers to trade with me, giving me the ability to make some great trades. I do NOT recommend this approach. All I was left with was a crappy team, some pissed off managers, and a headache.)

The “Best Available Player” Strategy
This strategy probably requires the most work as a manager, but it has the potential to pay off high dividends. The key word for this approach is value. You don’t pay too much attention to positions, especially in the first 10 rounds or so, and just focus on taking the best player left on the board. Even if you’ve grabbed Crosby and E. Staal in the first few rounds, but Kopitar is somehow still available in round 5, you take him.

The rationale here is that it’s better to draft the best value here, even if you already have two centers, than to select a LW who likely won’t produce as much at Kopitar. You can always make a trade later to even out your roster, or hope some guys will get dual-eligibility down the line. Nothing better than having an elite player who can play multiple positions- it works wonders when you’re building your roster.

This is the best high risk/ high reward strategy. For those experienced managers who love to trade, it’s definitely worth looking into.

How should I draft defensemen?
This is one of the most common places where managers disagree. Some are of the mind that having elite defenseman is what put certain teams over the top. If you’re getting 60-70 points where another guy is only getting 40-50, it can certainly add up. Others, however, feel that forwards and goalies are more important and drafting defenseman can wait until the later rounds.

Personally, I like to grab one legit number 1 defenseman by round 5 and then build around him with good, proven depth guys. For example, in past years I’ve taken Kris Letang or PK Subban early and then fill my D core with guys like Kronwall, Enstrom, Boyle, Streit, Campbell, etc. I typically find myself drafting four defenseman before everyone else does, probably because by the time I’m ready to pick them for my team these guys are all available and I snatch them up.

Final Notes
You should take all these things into consideration and find what works best for you. The most important thing to do is practice with the mock drafts many times before your real draft, especially are different places in the draft order. Look for patterns in how players are taken, which positions tend to go quickly, when the inevitable “goalie spree” happens, and which guys are buried in the rankings.

It’s said that drafts are won in the late rounds, not the early ones. While I don’t completely agree with it, I can say that practicing the later rounds is just as important. Take the time do a mock draft all the way through and practice who you take with your last 5 picks. These are usually for the sleepers and breakout candidates. See who you like buried in the rankings, whether it’s a rookie sleeper or an injury bounce back candidate, and surprise everyone with some daring late round picks. It might just put you over the top.

Ultimately, however, you have to think on your feet. Every draft is different and unpredictable. You might be all set to grab someone like Zetterberg in round 2, when all of the sudden Lundqvist is still there. You hadn’t planned on taking a goalie that early but things change. Adapting to the situation and the trends of the draft is key.

We’ll take a deeper look at the player rankings once they’re released by Yahoo!, which should be within the week.

FANTASY BASEBALL WRAPUP: MONDAY

Jay Bruce: 2/4 with his 25th HR while hitting .268. Typical Bruce year. Clearly entering into the part of his career where his numbers have settled into what they will be for the next few seasons. There is always something to be said for that.  

Allen Craig: 3/4 with his 13th HR while hitting .317. Now up to 95 RBI for Craig who has been money in the bank in that category all season. The fact he hasn't gone crazy with the home runs is not an indictment but instead an indication that Craig looks to get a hit first and go yard second. Whatever it is still working greatly.  

Matt Holliday: 1/3 with his 18th HR while hitting .284. Holliday has gotten hot lately and truth be told he is simply following his career trends of finishing strong. Still I can't imagine a scenario where I would endorse him as anything more than an outfielder 3 going forward.  

Billy Butler: 3/3 with his 13th HR while hitting .295. Butler has hit the buffett table harder than the baseball this season.  

Salvador Perez: 1/3 with his 7th HR while hitting .274. Perez clearly did not live up to the hype of which I helped fuel endlessly all offseason. Still he is getting into a groove but the "too little/too late" mantra applies.  

Alex Rodriguez: 1/4 with his third HR while hitting .271. Rodriguez looked spent over his last 15 at-bats before getting a rest Sunday. Figure he will be this way the rest of the season, if he can manage to stay off the DL. Hot for a few days, ice cold for a few days, take a seat. Rinse and repeat.  

Cliff Lee: 8 IP 5 H 1 ER 1 BB 7 K with an ERA of 3.07. Steady as she comes as usual. Lee is actually becoming a bit forgotten since the Phillies have played so poorly and he is getting up there in age which make some nervous. The results speak however and since Lee is not a power pitcher, another 2 years of this is very possible.  

Coco Crisp: 3/6 with his 14th HR while hitting .258. Crisp is picking up the pop at just the right time. Now for the steals please.  

Miguel Cabrera: 1/4 with his 43rd HR while hitting .359. Cabrera wants to pass Chris Davis for the home run lead in one week it looks like. Damn this guy defies any sensible explanation of how awesome he is.  

Victor Martinez: 4/5 with his 11th HR while hitting .289. You can't keep a great hitter like V-Mart down for long. It took him a few months to find his groove but its like he never left.

Jason Castro:  2/4 with his 18th HR while hitting .280.  Proof positive that you never have to draft a catcher early.  Castro has thrust himself into top five territory at his position and the Houston screen should make him next season's Wilin Rosario.

Matt Dominguez:  2/4 with his 19th HR while hitting .236.  The Astros have actually supplied some helpful fantasy baseball power bats this season, with Dominguez falling right in line.  While the average stinks, 19 home runs plays well anywhere.

Adam Dunn:  1/4 with his 30th HR while hitting .235.  Dunn should get close to another 40 homers or even jump past that mark.  What is really nice if you want to use that term is Dunn hitting .236 which makes all that pop seem better.

Yasiel Puig:  3/5 with his 13th HR while hitting .346.  So Puig could go as a first round pick next season which is amazing considering we thought it would be years before we saw another instant right to the top of the draft hitter after Mike Trout.

Hanley Ramirez:  1/4 with his 14th HR while hitting .338.  HanRam has reminded me of his 2008 days with Miami and in honesty this is what I thought could happen after he headed to the much less pressurized LA.  Way too talented to continue on the path he was on during his Florida stay.  The only thing now is whether you can trust him again as a high draft pick.

Zack Greinke:  8.2 IP 5 H 2 ER 2 BB 9 K with an ERA of 2.86.  Honestly you should just draft him every year and ask questions later.

Monday, August 26, 2013

2013 FANTASY BASEBALL UPDATED STARTING PITCHING RANKINGS

The Matt Harvey news that he will be out until 2015 due to having to undergo Tommy John surgery is about as big as it gets and it obviously has an impact on the updated starting pitching rankings.  Let's get right to the latest installment.

1.  Clayton Kershaw:  Has no peer, especially with Harvey on ice.
2.  Max Scherzer:  Has replaced his teammate Justin Verlander as the true ace of the Detroit staff and the coveted spot behind Kershaw as number 2 pitcher overall.
3.  Felix Hernandez:  Steady as she comes with little fanfare. 
4.  Yu Darvish:  Amazing strikeout totals complement a Cy Young worthy season.
5.  Madison Bumgarner:  Sorry I am not overranking him even though I love him as much as my wife.
6.  Stephen Strasburg
7.  Chris Sale:  Has passed the Verducci Rules violation so far.
8.  Adam Wainwright:  Another example of a pitcher who comes back stronger the second season after Tommy John.
9.  Jose Fernandez:  As hard as it is to say this, before the injury I was more excited about owning Fernandez next season than Harvey.  In one word:  WOW!
10. Cliff Lee:  Still going strong at 36. 
11. David Price
12. Cole Hamels:  Told you not to worry about the guy when the ERA was a bit wonky early on.
13. Jordan Zimmerman:  If only he struck out more.
14. Justin Verlander:  No question about it that Verlander has had a poor season by his standards.  2014 key in determining whether this is just a blip or a C.C. Sabbathia-like decline.
15. Shelby Miller:  Want to see more.  Lots more.  Now that Harvey is out, Miller best young power pitcher in baseball.
16. Mat Latos:  Finally conquered April and the result was a career season.
17. Zack Greinke:  Reminding me why the guy always turns a profit.
18. Hisashi Iwakuma:  Has had one of the luckiest BABIP's all season which makes a dropoff in 2014 likely.
19. Hiroki Kuroda:  Tiring now but two big time seasons in a row in the crucible of the AL East deserves respect.
20. Hyun-Jin Ryu:  Yet another Japanese import who has found instant MLB success.
21. Mike Minor:  Rolled 7's touting Minor this season.  Saw that coming a mile away.  
22. Matt Cain:  ERA/WHIP no jiving with one another.  Home runs the reason.
23. Patrick Corbin:  I was wrong on Corbin sustaining his success.  Reminds me of Jordan Zimmerman 2.0.
24. Anibal Sanchez:  If only he could stay healthy a full season.  K rate has been off the charts.
25. A.J. Burnett:  Can never fully trust him but clearly taking a liking to less-pressurized NL Central.
26. Matt Garza:  Continues to K a batter per inning.  One of the better pitching values around.
27. Alex Cobb:  Missing two months will keep 2014 price down.  Major investment potential.
28. Gio Gonzalez:  WHIP once again ugly and dogged by Biogenesis scandal which marred some of his work.
29. James Shields:  Didn't take to AL Central like I thought he would and only 8 wins and major drop in K's speak to the disappointment.
30. Jake Peavy
31. Jered Weaver:  Injuries and continuing drop in K rate taking major shine off his name.
32. Matt Moore:  Need to see more consistency before we label him an ace.
33. Francisco Liriano:  Pittsburgh is the Lourdes for struggling starting pitching.
34. Tony Cingrani:  Want him on all my teams next season.
35. Jeff Samardzjia
36. Chris Tillman:  Taking off but still hate the AL East.
37. Kyle Lohse
38. Lance Lynn:  As long as you sell him by July every season you will make out great.
39. C.J. Wilson
40. Doug Fister
41. Jon Lester
42. Jarrod Parker
43. C.C. Sabbathia:  How the mighty have fallen.
44. Dan Haren:  Has been great since the All Star Break.  Odd statement to say about this guy.
45. Chris Archer
46. Zack Wheeler:  Upward and onward we go.
47. Gerritt Cole:  Will move way up next season.
48. John Lackey
49. Julio Teheran
50. Justin Masterson
51. Travis Wood
52. Ian Kennedy
53. Bronson Arroyo
54. Ervin Santana
55. Hector Santiago
56. Dillon Gee
57. Ivan Nova
58. Tyler Ross
59. Yovani Gallardo:  This is not a misprint.  He was garbage all season.
60. Tim Lincecum
61. Marco Estrada

       

FANTASY BASEBALL BLOCKBUSTER BREAKING NEWS: METS' ACE SP MATT HARVEY HAS TORN UCL, HEADED FOR TOMMY JOHN

                                                                

In explosive news Monday, New York Mets ace SP Matt Harvey was revealed to have suffered a torn UCL to his right pitching elbow and will undergo Tommy John surgery.  Harvey, who has pitched to a tremendous 2.39 ERA and 0.99 WHIP with 261 K's in his first 237 innings, will now likely miss the entire 2014 season as a result.

Analysis:  Wow....I mean....WOW!  This is unbelievable and came out of nowhere.  Harvey has only thrown for slightly more inning this season than he had in 2012 but he has shown no hints of any problems.  This is an absolute shot to the guy for Harvey's fantasy baseball owners and the New York Mets organization.  More on this later. 

FANTASY FOOTBALL BREAKING NEWS: LAMAR MILLER TO BE NAMED DOLPHINS' STARTING RB

                                                                

Miami Dolphins second-year RB Lamar Miller will be named the team's starting RB according to multiple team sources.  Miller has averaged over 4.0 yards per carry compared to Daniel Thomas' sub-3.0 mark.  In addition Miller has done very well with his blitz pickup and he also was used in goal-line work in the team's third preseason game.

Analysis:  Miller's stock is about to shoot up as this is the news we all have been waiting for as an owner which includes yours truly.  If Miller does get the total package of carries, we could be looking at a major breakout campaign.


FANTASY FOOTBALL BREAKING NEWS: GIANTS WR VICTOR CRUZ (HEEL) LOSES WALKING BOOT

                                                                

New York Giants WR Victor Cruz is no longer wearing a walking boot on his injured heel that befell him in the team's preseason opener.  Cruz has maintained all along that he would be ready for Week 1.

Analysis:  This is a good sign here as Cruz has less than two weeks to go before the start of the season.  While he won't play in the team's preseason finale, it is looking more and more like Cruz will be in uniform when the games start to count.


FANTASY BASEBALL STATUS REPORT: JASON HEYWARD OUTFIELDER ATLANTA BRAVES

When it came to must have players entering 2013 fantasy baseball drafts, Atlanta Braves outfielder Jason Heyward was right at the top of the list among the masses.  After all here you had a supremely talented five-tool player who just entering his age 24 season and who had shown major power/speed ability which makes all fantasy baseball owners weak in the knees.  Despite some glaring holes in his swing that was a threat to stunt his development, there was no stopping the Heyward hype train as he on average went as a fourth round draft pick with stardom guaranteed in the eyes of those who picked him.  20/20 was a lock and 30/30 a realistic possibility.  However like in most cases, things didn't exactly go along by the script.  Fast forward to present day as Heyward sits on the bench for the next 4-6 weeks with a busted jaw after taking a Jon Niese fastball to his face a week ago.  Thus Heyward's current stats are not going to move much if at all since there is no guarantee he will make it back before the end of the regular season.  Now as far as those numbers are concerned, they no doubt leave a lot to be desired as evidenced by how they look below:

.253
13 HR
37 RBI
60 RBI
2 SB

In a word "YUCK!"  Needless to say Heyward has already locked down the label of being one of the bigger fantasy baseball drafts busts of the season, despite the fact he was playing better lately.  Even looking past the two DL stints, Heyward simply was not hitting well at all until a late move to the leadoff spot once August rolled around which seemed to perk his sleeping bat up some.  Before the All Star Break, Heyward was hitting a pathetic .227 with only 7 home runs in 251 at-bats.  Post-All Star Break was much better as Heyward upped things to a nice .317 mark with 6 home runs in only 101 at-bats as again his move to the leadoff slot seemed to spark him.  However it reeked a bit of "too little/too late" as Heyward did more than enough damage to drastically hurt his fantasy baseball owners' chances to win their leagues. 

So what went wrong?  How did Heyward end up here?  Well as I stated earlier and noted in a spring training post, I was worried about Heyward very high K rate which he struggled with his first two seasons in the majors.  Not only does a high K rate push down a player's batting average but opposing pitchers are much less apt to throw fastballs down the middle which hurts the home run totals.  That is exactly what was taking place with Heyward in 2013 as he struck out 67 times in 352 at-bats.  While this was a better ratio than what he did in 2011 and 2012, it still was a high mark that was going to sail well over 100 if he got the requisite at-bats.  Thus the home runs were nowhere to be found in the first half with only 7 with also took a toll on his RBI.  In addition, Heyward was not aggressive on the bases as he wound up stealing only 2 bags total.  20/20 was never so far away.  Either way the numbers were a far cry from what we thought was going to be possible.

All in all, Jason Heyward has been a pretty sizable fantasy baseball busts and only his late surge kept him from being a total abomination.  However the tools are still there and he is still only going to be 25 in 2014 so we will all inevitably give him another shot next season.  The draft price will be much lower however and the chances of profit much higher. 


Sunday, August 25, 2013

2013 FANTASY FOOTBALL UPDATED TIGHT END RANKINGS

The season is almost upon us so let's take one more look at the fantasy football tight end rankings.

1.  Jimmy Graham:  Way above anyone else in this group.
2.  Tony Gonzalez:  TD advantage wins out over Witten.
3.  Jason Witten:  In PPR move him past Gonzalez.
4.  Greg Olsen:  Major dropoff after the first three are off the board.
5.  Rob Gronkowski:  The news changes daily on how long he will be out but latest is Gronk will debut sometime in the first half.  Gee thanks for narrowing it down.
6.  Vernon Davis:  Old reliable and playoff chemistry with Colin Kaepernick last season promising.
7.  Kyle Rudolph
8.  Brandon Myers:  Tough to grade him but hands are as good as any other tight end.
9.  Owen Daniels
10. Jared Cook:  Could breakout or could remain mediocre.
11. Jermichael Finley
12. Jordan Cameron:  Sleeper alert!  Cameron looks to join Kellen Winslow Jr. and Antonio Gates as next Rob Chudzinski tight end stars. 
13. Antonio Gates
14. Jermaine Gresham
15. Brandon Pettigrew:  Willing to look past his 2012 struggles as ability is still there.
16. Fred Davis
17. Zack Sudfield:  Will start in place of Gronkowski and has shown very good hands.  Interesting.
18. Jacob Tamme
19. Dwayne Allen:  Needs to catch more passes to be usable every week.
20. Ed Dickson
21. Kellen Winslow Jr.



FANTASY FOOTBALL BREAKING NEWS: BRONCOS TO NAME KNOWSHON MORENO STARTER

A source close to the Denver Broncos front office indicated on Sunday that Knowshon Moreno will be named the team's starting running back due to the poor play of Ronnie Hillman this preseason.  In addition, rookie Montee Ball is expected to serve as the team's goal-line back but his struggles in blitz pickup prevents him from gaining a bigger role in the offense.

Analysis:  Moreno is a guy who needs to be picked up in PPR formats as he has shown some nice ability catching the football in the past.  He has been very good in spurts on the odd times he is healthy but this whole thing looks like a mess. 

FANTASY BASEBALL WRAPUP: SATURDAY

Martin Prado:  3/9 with his 13th HR while hitting .282.  Prado has grown into his power as he ages at the expense of his average which is an all right tradeoff by me.  Still one of the more underrated players in the game.

Darin Ruf:  2/9 with his 11tH HR while hitting .272.  Ruf makes for a very smart pickup as the first baseman has hit for power when no one is watching.  With Ryan Howard finished for 2013 with yet more ailments, Ruf is here to stay along with his pop. 

Johnny Gomes:  1/3 with his 11th HR and 1st SB while hitting .238.  We all know Gomes can hit for power but not average.  Same story for the last decade.  However since he stole a base we are obligated to mention him.  There.

Jon Lester:  7.1 IP 3 H 1 ER 4 BB 6 K with an ERA of 3.97.  Lester has been good early and late and horrid in between.  Be that as it may, we are clearly looking at a diminished pitcher from the ace he once was in 2009.  Call it the C.C. Sabbathia Syndrome.

Max Scherzer:  6 IP 3 H 0 ER 4 BB 11 K with an ERA of 2.73.  There has been no letup at all from the now 19-1 Scherzer who already has locked up the Cy Young Award.  But you knew he would be this good since I recommended him more than any other pitcher this season.  Go back and check.  YUP!

Matt Harvey:  6.2 IP 13 H 2 ER 0 BB 4 K with an ERA of 2.27.  Oxygen please!  Harvey even admitted after this one that he is tired.  He could be sketchy the rest of the way as he already is in uncharted innings territory.  Still doesn't undo the fact that other than the guy above him and Clayton Kershaw, no one has been better this season.

Coco Crisp:  1/4 with his 13th HR while hitting .254.  Once again Crisp is likely sitting there on your league's waiver wire to help you down the stretch.  Like he has been for the last ten years.

Jarrod Parker:  8 IP 5 H 1 ER 3 BB 5 K with an ERA of 3.58.  Got to give credit to Parker who was the worst pitcher in baseball in April off his Verducci Rules violation.  He will never wow you with the K's but Parker is nice SP 4 material.

Chris Tillman:  8 IP 3 H 1 ER 2 BB 9 K with an ERA of 3.66.  Sold!  Yes I recommended picking Tillman up back in May and he has been a near-ace since but pitching in the AL East and not being proven yet left some uncertainty.  Not anymore. 

Brian Dozier:  1/3 with his 13th HR while hitting .243.  Now up to 13 home runs and 10 steals.  Nice juice indeed and the screen in Minnesota with make me come back here in 2014 as middle infielders who can put up digits in the power/screen category are always interesting commodities.

Jason Kipnis:  2/3 with his 16th HR while hitting .285.  Kipnis has slowed down from the beginning of August as he did last season but I am still all in on the guy from this point forward.  In the past I called him an Ian Kinsler clone.  Now I think he is the better investment going forward.

Carlos Santana:  1/3 with his 16th HR while hitting .265.  Santana bores me now.  He has never hit the ceiling we thought he would reach and really is just there for me. 

Ian Desmond:  1/4 with his 18th HR while hitting .276.  This is the Desmond I envisioned going into the season as he was a bit over his head in 2012 with his home run rate. 

Jordan Zimmerman:  7.2 IP 8 H 2 ER 1 BB 7 K with an ERA of 3.32.  Zimmerman has had a tough go of it this summer but now is up to 15 wins.  The fact he will struggle to hit 170 strikeouts limits the ceiling and will likely keep him in square SP 2 territory.

Jose Fernandez:  7 IP 4 H 0 ER 0 BB 8 K with an ERA of 2.30.  This is getting utterly ridiculous.  Matt Harvey has gotten all the buzz but honestly Fernandez has been just as good and maybe better if you break it down.  Has become the pitching version of Mike Trout in going from a mid-season pickup to a top tier performer.

Alex Rios:  1/4 with his 13th HR while hitting .277.  Rios has not been as good as he was in 2012 and age will become a bigger concern in 2014.  However the fact he will get a full season in Texas will make him a solid outfielder 2 once again.

Yu Darvish:  7 IP 6 H 2 ER 3 BB 11 K with an ERA of 2.68.  Forget to include Darvish in the Kershaw, Harvey, Scherzer trio.

Jason Castro:  3/3 with 2 home runs (17 for season) while hitting .278.  I will have him on at least one of my Experts league rosters next season.  Bank on it.

Edwin Encarnacion:  1/1 with his 33rd HR while hitting .274.  Has fallen behind Paul Goldschmidt and is in debate with Joey Votto for next season's draft tiers.

Joey Votto:  2/5 with his 19th HR while hitting .314.  Remember it was me who back in 2010 said Votto was more a 25 homer guy than a 35 homer guy. 

Evan Longoria:  3/4 with his 27th HR while hitting .274.  Longoria's owners are almost through the season having him in one piece.  Now that I jinxed him and he gets hurt tomorrow, queue the hate mail.

Freddie Freeman:  1/3 with his 16th HR while hitting .316.  Dude stop realizing your potential and stop hitting home runs so I can have you on all of my teams next season.

Carlos Beltran:  3/5 with his 23rd HR while hitting .311.  Every home run from this point on is a bonus for Beltran who typically fades late.

Shelby Miller:  7 IP 3 H 1 ER 0 BB 6 K with an ERA of 2.90.  How about a rotation of Matt Harvey, Jose Fernandez, and Miller next season as your 1, 2, and 3?  Sounds good to me.

Will Venable:  3/4 with his 19th HR and 15th SB while hitting .273.  When did Venable hit 19 home runs?  As long as he is hitting over .260, we like him.

Mike Trout:  1/5 with his 22nd HR while hitting .328.  He won't hit 30 home runs.  Big deal.


FANTASY FOOTBALL PRESEASON GAME 3 WRAPUP: SATURDAY

                                                           

Saturday was a heavy day in the preseason NFL schedule so let's get right to all the relevant fantasy football news and notes that came out of it.

-Another year and another knee injury for Arizona Cardinals RB Rashard Mendenhall.  Mendenhall was forced out of Saturday night's game in the first half after running for 47 yards and failed to return.  He was headed for testing on the knee afterwards but to this point no word yet on the severity of it.  A decent bounceback candidate entering the season, Mendenhall obviously needs to kick the injury bug in order for that to happen.  One positive however was that he was seen walking on the sideline later in the game.

-Indianapolis Colts second-year receiver T.Y. Hilton has been one of the biggest stories of the preseason as he caught his third touchdown pass Saturday night on two receptions.  Despite all the terrific work Hilton has done this summer, he continues to sit behind Darius Heyward-Bey on the depth chart.  If this setup continues, Hilton could be a volatile fantasy football receiver to own who could alternate huge games and no-show ones.

-Colts QB Andrew Luck was on the money once again in completing 16-of-25 for 164 yards and two touchdowns.  He did throw his first interception of the preseason but overall Luck has four touchdowns and is completing 66 percent of his tosses.  My prediction of Luck being a first round pick in 2014 is looking very good.  With Reggie Wayne, Heyward-Bey, Hilton, Coby Fleener, and Dwayne Allen to throw to, Luck is certainly set up to be a star this season.

-New York Jets rookie QB Geno Smith was horrendous against the New York Giants, throwing three INT's and running out of the back of the end zone for a safety.  However backup Mark Sanchez injured his throwing shoulder and didn't return to the game so Smith might be the starter by default in Week 1.  Either way Smith should not be touched in fantasy football terms.

-Yes I surprised myself by calling my favorite whipping boy Michael Vick a good bounceback investment this season but he once again is making me look good as his strong preseason continued last night.  Vick completed 15-of-23 for 184 yards with 1 TD and 1 INT.  The Eagles offensive line looks great so far which is half the battle in keeping Vick healthy and Chip Kelly's offense seems like a perfect match for the athletic QB.  Big things could be in store there.

-Lamar Miller should have sewn up the starting RB job for Miami on Saturday as he ran for 35 yards on 8 carries while also catching a pass.  Meanwhile Daniel Thomas has been nearly invisible and has not done as well as Miller in blitz pickup.  If Miller latches onto the starting job, he has some nice PPR appeal.

As always we want to hear your thoughts on last night's games.  Post below.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

FANTASY SPORTS BOSS FANTASY FOOTBALL EXPERTS LEAGUE DRAFT RESULTS: ROUND 1 and 2

Round 1 is always where you can make or break your team and the Fantasy Sports Boss Experts Draft surely had everyone on edge in order to avoid disaster and make the right picks.  So with that said here is how Round 1 unfolded and my analysis of the selections.

1.  Adrian Peterson:  Duh!
2.  Calvin Johnson:  I have no issues here as this is a PPR league and Johnson is the best receiver by a mile.  I would have taken him if he fell to me at the next spot.
3.  Fantasy Sports Boss Pick-Doug Martin:  Once Megatron was picked Martin was the only consideration since Arian Foster has injury questions going into the season.
4.  Marshawn Lynch:  In PPR Lynch is not as strong as in standard but his production has been big time the last two seasons.  Would have gone Ray Rice or Jamaal Charles over him though.
5.  Aaron Rodgers:  A QB has led this league in scoring in each of the last three seasons so there is much value to be had here with the top guys.  However I always choose to take advantage of the depth in a single QB format like this and look later.
6.  Ray Rice:  Again no issues as Rice was the best player available in my opinion.  Somewhat annoyed that Bernard Pierce is eating in his numbers however.
7.  Jamaal Charles:  So far no surprises as Charles is a guy I love despite his slight frame making me worry about injury.  Could lead the league in rushing.
8.  Drew Brees:  I am always tempted to take Brees but I just couldn't do it.  The guy is an absolute scoring monster every season.
9.  Trent Richardson:  I think LeSean McCoy was safer since Richardson has injury worries of his own but if healthy, he could be tremendous.  First truly risky pick.
10. C.J. Spiller:  Foster falls out of Round 1 which I expected.  Spiller has to answer the question of if he can hold up for a whole season but he reminds me of Charles with his ability to go from 0-60 in two seconds.  Should also be a threat to win the rushing title.

11. Arian Foster:  Getting Foster in the second round could be a major steal as he is back practicing but he also is going to be eased back into the season.  This owner could be sitting very pretty though with both Foster and Spiller.
12. Tom Brady:  I still would take Brady over Cam Newton so I won't be worked up over this.  As proven as any player in the draft.  However I WOULD take Peyton Manning over him given his awesome surrounding offensive talent.
13. LeSean McCoy:  Would be a first round pick if he didn't come off an injury-marred 2012.  Extra interesting in new head coach Chip Kelly's offense.
14. Peyton Manning:  I absolutely love Manning this season and would have thought strongly of taking him if he fell to me since he could throw for 40 scores in this offense.  
15. Maurice Jones-Drew:  First sketchy pick of the draft.  Didn't like this at all as this is not 2008.  MJD is aging and coming off a rough foot injury.  Chris Johnson and Matt Forte much better picks by a mile.
16. Chris Johnson:  I always like Johnson more than others and he has looked great this summer.  Still capable of going nuts any given week.
17. Andre Johnson:  No longer included in the top tier of receivers but in PPR he should be given how he catches so many passes.  If only he would score more.  First season in six that I am not going to have him on my squad.
18. Fantasy Sports Boss Pick-Brandon Marshall:  Shocked he was still available and I wasted no time in making this PPR gem of a pick.  Got a WR 1 in Round 2.  Steal.
19. Dez Bryant:  Here comes the run on receivers as everyone wants their stud number 1 of which Bryant surely is.
20. Demaryius Thomas:  A.J. Green actually falls to Round 3 given that there are a lot of Hard Knocks fans in the league who have seen him not do much more than do work in the pool as a result of a bum knee.  Thomas should be incredible as Peyton Manning's go-to-guy this season.

So that's how the all important first two rounds went.  Any thoughts differing from mine?  Let me hear it.  Post below.


FANTASY SPORTS BOSS EXPERTS PPR MONEY LEAGUE ALL DRAFTED

Today was the official Fantasy Sports Boss Fantasy Football PPR money league draft and like always a massive writeup is on tap for the round-by-round pick.  However since you all want me to put my money where my mouth is, let's start with just my picks and how I made out.

Going into the draft, I zeroed in on drafting Calvin Johnson if possible as I wanted the slam dunk top receiver on the board in a PPR format.   After that I was looking toward drafting Larry Fitzgerald or Brandon Marshall in round 2, followed by Jimmy Graham at tight end.  The reason Graham was because I wanted to have the top receiver AND the top tight end.  Since the tight end pool is also so shallow and the QB field deep, I would be way ahead of everyone else there.  However my plan was completely blown up early.  I wound up getting the number 3 pick overall so I knew Adrian Peterson was not going to be on my team which I wasn't too broken up about.  Thus I figured Doug Martin would go second and than I would be left with Megatron.  However Johnson went number 2 overall which left Martin for me third overall.  So with Martin in tow, it was going to be receiver the second round and than go from there.  Here is how the rest of the draft ended up.  We use one QB, 2 RB, 3 WR, one TE, one DEF, and one K with 6 bench spots.

1.  Doug Martin (RB):  Slam dunk choice with Peterson and Johnson off the board.  There was no way I was taking Arian Foster and his injury issues this early in the draft.

2.  Brandon Marshall (WR):  Was shocked Marshall dropped to me 18th overall and A.J. Green fell as well since many were worried about his knee.  Marshall is a monster PPR performer who is a terrific WR 1.  So with him in the fold, it was Jimmy Graham next.  Unless Green fell again.

3.  A.J. Green (WR):  Yes I know about the knee but all indications are he will be 100 percent for the season.  I get a first round talent in the third round and have the best 1-2 punch no matter what else anyone does.  Now I have to hope Graham makes it back to me in the fourth round.

4.  Matt Ryan (QB):  Graham didn't make it back to me so I went back to the well with Matt Ryan who was my MVP last season.  Few if any passing offenses are as explosive as the one Ryan leads so 30 TD's and 4,200 yards should be the floor.  By the way I took Ryan over Cam Newton who fell and old pal Tony Romo.

5.  Tony Gonzalez (TE):  Could have had Jason Witten for like the sixth time in a row but his lack of touchdowns was something I didn't want to deal with again.  Thus I grabbed Gonzalez as the second tight end taken since he is always a threat to score and as durable as they come in the entire league.  Need to address my third receiver and second RB.

6.  Seattle Seahawks (DEF):  All right all right let me have it.  I have gone on record too many times to count in saying to draft a defense the second to last round and mix and match every week.  However so awesome and head and shoulders above the rest of the league is this Seattle unit that they were the best bang for the buck at this point.  Now it is very imperative I get that second back or third receiver.

7.  Tavon Austin (WR):  Austin caught over 100 passes last season in college with the West Virginia Mountaineers and as my third receiver I was fine in taking a chance over the also available Hakeem Nicks and Antonio Brown.

8.  Giovani Bernard (RB):  Yeah another rookie but one with extreme upside.  Represents the best chance to bust out in the rookie class over Eddie Lacy and LeVeon Bell in my view.  Can run and catch the football and only has to deal with the mediocre BenJarvus Green-Ellis which shouldn't be too much trouble.  I do need a more proven guy though and passed on Frank Gore and DeMarco Murray.

9.  Matthew Stafford (QB):  This got a groan from another owner who had yet to take a QB and was aiming at Stafford who I think has major bounceback appeal.  This is a guy who was a first round before last season and has amazing weapons at his disposal.  I soon began trade talks with this owner, asking for Darren Sproles straight up.  More on this later.

10. Mike Williams (WR):  Insurance in case Austin takes time to adapt.  Williams had a quietly good season last year for Tampa Bay and he can easily do well in the third receiver spot if need be.

11. Ryan Matthews (RB):  In the 11th round Matthews was worth the risk.  Yeah he is Darren McFadden's twin when it comes to injuries but the guy can at least catch the football and run well when healthy.  As a backup he is fine.  Just don't rely on him as a starter.

12. LeVeon Bell (RB):  If Bell hadn't gotten hurt, he would have been as high as a fifth round pick.  Yeah he is out six weeks but two of them are preseason so he could wind up missing only a month.  Carries big time PPR value who could be a difference down the stretch of the season.

13. Lance Moore (WR):  Another veteran receiver who adds depth and has some PPR appeal.  Nothing more or less.

14. Philip Rivers (QB):  Picked Rivers in anticipation of making a deal involving Stafford.  Wow has this guy fallen but he is still a gunslinger who will be put in position to put up numbers.

15. Dan Bailey (K):  Got a kicker on a big time offense which is all you can ask for.  Solid accuracy.

*****After the draft I wound up pulling the trigger on a Stafford for Lamar Miller straight up deal.  He wouldn't go for Sproles who I really wanted but I did the deal in betting Miller ends up the guy in Miami.  I instantly regretted the move on the surface it is a one-sided deal.  However Stafford was my clear backup and Rivers can do just fine in that spot.  The upside of Miller could be big in the end so I could wind up winning this deal.  A gamble all the way I guess.*****

So let me have it.  Let's hear from you all how I did.  I am all ears.

ROSTER

QB-Matt Ryan
WR-Brandon Marshall
WR-A.J. Green
WR-Tavon Austin
RB-Doug Martin
RB-Giovani Bernard
TE-Tony Gonzalez
K-Dan Bailey
DEF-Seattle

BENCH
WR-Mike Williams
QB-Philip Rivers
RB-Lamar Miller
RB-Ryan Matthews
RB-LeVeon Bell
WR-Lance Moore



NEW LINKS LAYOUT

We are always up to listening to what our readers want and one issue that keeps coming up is to better organize the growing amount of fantasy sports we are covering.  With that said we have now created homepages dedicated to fantasy football, fantasy baseball, and fantasy hockey which will have material ONLY about those sports on their sites.  For those who like it the old way, the main homepage will still have all the sports clustered together like usual.  Please let us know how you like the new changes.


FANTASY FOOTBALL PRESEASON GAME 3 WRAPUP: FRIDAY

                                                                 

More games to get into as the all-important third preseason games were played in multiple cities last night.  Let's get to the pressing news items.

-Chicago Bears RB Matt Forte looks primed for a career-year in 2013 as he is now averaging 9.9 yards a carry after last night's game.  Forte rushed for 76 yards on only six carries, while also catching two balls for 33 yards and a touchdown against the Oakland Raiders.  While the Raiders defense is horrible, the fact head coach Marc Trestman has said publicly that Forte will get goal-line work this season makes him a major weapon in both leagues for the first time since he was a rookie.  In PPR formats Forte is now a late first round pick as well.  Very high on what we could be seeing out of him this season.

-The latest news out of Houston concerning RB Arian Foster is that he could be "eased" into the season, which means a spot on your fantasy football bench for Week 1.  Ben Tate is expected to get the majority of carries as Foster has gotten little work this preseason as he just came off the PUP list Thursday due to calf and back issues.  Not good either way but if it only takes a game for Foster to get up to speed, we can live with that.  What we can't live with is more injuries and eroding numbers.  I will say again that if Adrian Peterson and Doug Martin are off the board and I want a RB, I will pass Foster by.

-Alshon Jeffrey caught 7 big passes for 77 yards Friday against the Raiders as QB Jay Cutler was looking for him early and often.  Jeffrey has only one catch heading into the game which caused concern about his sleeper status. 

-Robert Turbin opened eyes with a 10 carry/50 yard game last night against the Green Bay Packers, while also catching 4 passes for 22 yards.  If only Marshawn Lynch wasn't such a workhorse.

-What a horrible night for rookie RB Eddie Lacy who actually rushed for -5 yards on 8 carries and -6 yards on one reception.  Still Lacy is locked in as the team's starter and he won't be the first to struggle against the awesome Seattle defense.

 There you have it.  As always let us hear your thoughts.  Post below.


Friday, August 23, 2013

FANTASY FOOTBALL BREAKING NEWS: TEXANS RB ARIAN FOSTER (CALF, BACK) PRACTICES FULLY FRIDAY

                                                                 

Houston Texans RB Arian Foster practiced fully on Friday as he races to get himself ready for Week after being on PUP all camp with a calf and back injury.  Foster said afterwards he felt "great" and that he will be out there when Week 1 arrives.

Analysis:  Foster is looking more and more like a solid bet to be out there for the first week of the season and thus start the process on a fourth straight monster fantasy football season.  However as i have constantly stated, Foster has some underlying red flags such as an increase in injuries and a very heavy usage history that has his under the hood stats fading some.  Proceed with caution.


FANTASY FOOTBALL INJURY CLARITY: STEELERS RB LeVEON BELL OUT SIX WEEKS WITH LIGAMENT TEAR IN FOOT

                                                                

Pittsburgh Steelers rookie running back LeVeon Bell is out the next six weeks with what is now officially being called a small ligament tear in his foot.  Bell injured the foot in last Monday's preseason game and it originally was being reported he had suffered a dreaded Lisfranc injury.  The ligament strain was revealed Friday and Bell is now being pointed to October for his return.

Analysis:  This is actually good news as the Lisfranc is a horrible injury for a runner that doesn't get better unless surgery is performed.  This will allow Bell to come back at 100 percent in six weeks.  Meanwhile Jonathan Dwyer and LaRod Stephens-Howling will get the majority of work in his place.  Neither guy is worth using as anything but insurance.


FANTASY FOOTBALL PREASEASON GAME 3 WRAPUP: KENBRELL THOMPKINS STORY GETTING JUICIER

                                                                 

Preseason Week 3 has arrived so let's get to Thursday night's action which contained some very interesting developments.

-The biggest news item of the night was the awesome performance of New England Patriots rookie WR Kenbrell Thompkins who caught 8 passes for 116 yards.   Thompkins has now been targeted more than any other New England player after the three preseason games and is now a mist own fantasy football sleeper.  Aaron Dobson we hardly knew ya'.  Anyways we all know that Tom Brady can make a star out of almost anyone and with Shane Vereen earning a spot on the bench after losing a fumble, Thompkins looks like the clear number 2 to Danny Amendola's number 1 in the offense.

-Detroit Lions buzzy WR Ryan Bryoles was running with the second-team offense during the game which throws some cold water on his own fantasy football prospects.  That means Nate Burleson will start opposite Calvin Johnson again this season and makes Bryoles nothing but a guy to monitor on the wire.

-As I said earlier, Shane Vereen lost a fumbled that earned him a benching which was also the fate of rookie tight end Zack Sudfield.  Clearly this was a case of Bill Belichick doling out some tough love for two guys he expects a lot out of this season.  Both remain solid fantasy football sleepers, especially Sudfield who can carve out a spot as the second tight end in place of Aaron Hernandez.

-Reggie Bush said he was going to catch 80 passes this season out of the Detroit backfield and he started to show why Thursday night after catching 5 balls for 103 yards.  Some major PPR value here but just be sure to back him up with Joquie Bell who has supplanted Mikel Leshoure on the depth chart.

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

FANTASY FOOTBALL BREAKING NEWS: EAGLES TRADE RB FELIX JONES TO STEELERS

                                                            

Looking to replace the injured LeVeon Bell in the backfield, the Pittsburgh Steelers completed a trade for Philadelphia Eagles fourth string RB Felix Jones on Friday.  Jones will join Jonathan Dwyer and LaRod Stephens-Howling as options to replace Bell until he returns from the Lisfranc injury in his right foot.

Analysis:  My how quickly Jones has fallen into irrelevancy.  Once a first round pick out of Arkansas by the Cowboys, Jones was not even going to make the Eagles roster until the deal was made.  Jones has almost zero fantasy football value as Dwyer is expected to get most of the work in place of Bell.   

FANTASY BASEBALL WRAPUP: THURSDAY

Austin Jackson:  2/4 with his 10th HR while hitting .269.  Jackson is one of those guys who always seems to leave you wishing for more.  Athleticism and tools are off the charts but whether it is injuries, BABIP issues, or what have you, the end results is lacking.

Ryan Doumit:  2/5 with his 11th HR while hitting .244.  Same deal here as Jackson.  After being a gross bust for years, Doumit finally earns back some luster last season.  Clearly he was just setting us up for more disappointment.  Lesson learned.

Andrew Albers:  5 ER in 5.2 IP with an ERA of 3.00.  Well this story certainly did a massive about face in the span of a week.

Justin Verlander:  6 ER in 7 IP with an ERA of 3.68.  His WHIP now stands at a shoddy 1.36.  Amazing.  That just goes to show you why you never draft pitching until round 5.  Even the very best can't be trusted to repeat their previous season's totals.  Hitting is always much less volatile and more impactful overall on your team.

Mat Latos:  8 IP 5 H 1 ER 0 BB 6 K with an ERA of 2.93.  Didn't see a season like this from Latos but the talent was always there.  Amazing how much of a difference solving April woes can make.

Clayton Kershaw:  8 IP 5 H 0 Er 3 BB 6 K with an ERA of 1.72.  There is Clayton Kershaw....a gap abotu a mile long....and than everyone else when talking about starting pitching.

Curtis Granderson:   1/3 with his 4th HR while hitting .278.  Granderson's season has been a one big wash due to two DL stints but his home run swing is still his best attribute and will help his owners the rest of the way. 

Ryan Zimmerman:  3/6 with his 15th HR while hitting .273.  Zimmerman always has that one crazy hot stretch of the season, after his annual DL stints of course.  That could be on tap now as he has been driving the ball with authority the last few weeks.

Stephen Strasburg:  8.2 IP 7 H 4 ER 2 BB 8 K with an ERA of 3.00.  Strasburg has already has the DL stint I knew was coming off his Verducci Rules violation.  And his K rate is down slightly and ERA is up.  He still has been money though so this qualifies as a mini yup.

Wilin Rosario:  2/4 with his 20th HR while hitting .286.  Two home runs in two days as memories of Rosario's awesome April are coming back into focus.

Jose Quintana:  7 IP 4 H 3 ER 1 BB 7 K with an ERA of 3.67.  Nice season for Quintana who took a step forward in his progress from his rookie 2012 season.  Sneaky K rate as well.  Sold on him being an SP 4.

Justin Upton:  1/3 with his 24th HR while hitting .270.  I am done chasing potential with Justin just like I did with brother B.J.  He is what I call a roller coaster player in that Upton's numbers will shoot way up and way down at different intervals.

Jeff Locke:  4 IP 5 H 3 ER 4 BB 3 K with an ERA of 3.01.  Yeah so I get the feeling Locke won't even be drafted next season the way this is going.