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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2014 FANTASY BASEBALL PLAYER ANALYZER: JASON KIPNIS 2B CLEVELAND INDIANS

                                                          Jason Kipnis

With second base annually being one of the more shallow positions in fantasy baseball, any new infusion of talent and potential always has the attention of all of us who sit down to draft each and ever season.  With Ian Kinsler and Brandon Phillips getting older and losing some speed, Dustin Pedroia an annual injury worry, there is risk even with the top guys.  However there surely will be some fierce battles in drafts this winter over burgeoning Cleveland Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis who is poised to pass the three names already mentioned in settling right behind Robinson Cano at the top of the position hierarchy.  Possessing a power/speed game that is always highly sought after in fantasy baseball (especially at second base), Kipnis still has room to add to his growing numbers as he only 27 this season.  So let's dive right in and get to know Kipnis a little better as we determine where his already impressive numbers could be going.

Before we proceed further as always let's take a closer look at Kipnis' numbers from last season:

.284
17 HR
84 RBI
86 R
30 SB
564 at-bats

Impressive numbers indeed, in particular the 17/30 Kipnis put up in the power/speed category which was a slight improvement from the 14/31 he had the year prior.  The fact Kipnis was right in the same neighborhood there last season as he was in 2012 suggests his ability there is no fluke and as he reaches his prime years, some more slight improvement could be on the way as he continues to get comfortable against major league pitching.  While I don't see Kipnis stealing 40 bases, he could inch the home runs up to the 20-22 range while also boosting the steals to around 35.  Even a 20/35 year would be second round territory and thus make Kipnis one of the most valuable players in all of fantasy baseball. 

Moving on from the power/speed realm, Kipnis showed some nice gains in the batting average department last season as he went from a rough .257 in 2012 to last season's .284.  However truth be told Kipnis got a bit of help in the BABIP department as when you look at the fact he struck out 143 times in those 564 at-bats, he could very well slide back to the .260 range for this season if no improvement is made in the K rate.  In fact Kipnis' K rate got a bit worse in 2013 than it did in 2012 so that is one red flag issue to be aware of. 

In finishing out the rest of the numbers, Kipnis has every right to boost his runs total a bit hitting near the top of the lineup, while his RBI depend on the rest of those getting on base prior to his turn in the order.  While I don't see Kipnis reaching the century mark in either runs or RBI, he could approach 90 in both.

Putting it all together, Jason Kipnis looks like the new Ian Kinsler circa 2010 without as much power.  The comparison works as Kinsler has had shaky averages throughout his career but also has put up some terrific power/speed totals during that period.  While once again Kipnis won't ever reach 30 home runs like Kinsler has done before, he should be able to challenge for the number 2 spot among all second baseman and also be one of the more impactful bats in fantasy baseball this season.

2014 PROJECTION:  .267 19 HR 89 RBI 92 R 32 SB


Be sure to check back for more of the starting pitching rankings as we move forward through the week.  Let us hear your thoughts.

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2014 FANTASY FOOTBALL RUNNING BACK RANKINGS

We continue our last call of the fantasy football season by taking a quick summary early look at how things could look for 2014.  Today we delve into the running backs which has become a very top heavy unit.

1.  Jamaal Charles:  Flip a coin between Charles and LeSean McCoy.  Can't go wrong with either.  McCoy a tab durable but Charles has more TD potential.
2.  LeSean McCoy:  See above.
3.  Matt Forte:  What took so long to have Forte be the goal-line back to go with all of his other awesome attributes.
4.  Marshawn Lynch:  Beast Mode is the best power back in football right now.  And don't overlook his 30-plus catches.
5.  Eddie Lacy:  Terrific rookie debut as Lacy looks like a Lynch clone.
6.  Adrian Peterson:  Increasing injuries could portend a dropoff as Peterson gets close to the danger zone age for a back.  I would avoid.
7.  Zac Stacy:  Love this kid.  Stacy was a huge asset the second half of the season with his running and knack for collecting touchdowns.  Also can contribute some in receiving game.  Be aggressive with him in the draft.
8.  Doug Martin:  Boy he was pretty bad at times before injuring his shoulder.  Looked nothing like he did as a rookie but willing to try again at a cheaper price next season.
9.  DeMarco Murray:  Yes he annoys the heck of you due to his injuries but when on the field last season Murray averaged more than 5 yards a carry which is golden.  Also could catch 60-plus if he plays at least 14 games.  Risky pick though always.
10. Alfred Morris:  I never draft him since I play in a PPR format but in standard leagues Morris's numbers stack up with anyone.
11. Le'Veon Bell:  Really played well down the stretch once he made it back from injury as he scored 8 touchdowns and was also a receiving threat.  Could be the next Forte if all breaks right.  Upside.
12. Giovani Bernard:  This me betting the Bengals unleash Bernard as their main guy next season.  Bernard has dynamic all-around ability like a McCoy, Forte, or Charles so this is one stock that is pointing north.
13. Frank Gore:  Been scared to invest in him the last two years and both times Gore had a Pro Bowl season.  Another year older.  Will this be the year he fades?
14. Arian Foster:  Going in the wrong direction stat-wise and now injuries a big issue.  Could be another Priest Holmes deal where a guy was the top back for three years but crazy workloads led to early decline.
15. Ray Rice:  I keep saying to myself Rice can't be as bad as he showed last season but his slight frame has me worried he is already fading.  I am not buying.
16. Reggie Bush:  Plays well when on the field but his injury history is vast.  Also fumbled more than usual last season.
17. Ryan Matthews:  At this point in the rankings all of these guys have some sort of red flag and Matthews' is injuries as well.  Got to admit he played very well though in 2013 but that could just be a setup for a disastrous 2014 which would go with his career script.
18. Shane Vereen:  Sizable asset in PPR formats as Vereen could catch 80 balls if he plays 16 games.  And if Bill Belichick makes him the primary runner than Vereen gets moved into the top 10 easy in these rankings. 
19. C.J. Spiller:  What a joke Spiller was in 2013 but I warned you.  Can't depend on him as anything more than a RB 2 with upside going forward.
20. Knowshon Moreno:  Moreno was having a top ten season until he gradually lost carries and goal-line work to Montee Ball along the way.  This backfield must be watched closely all offseason.
21. Montee Ball:  I think the Broncos are phasing Ball in to be their main guy for 2014.  Just a hunch.
22. Rashad Jennings:  Jennings shocked me with how good he ran and caught the football taking over for Darren McFadden since he never showed that ability before.  Will move him up if McFadden gets released.
23. Stevan Ridley:  Ridley has to get traded out of New England to climb back up these rankings.  Talent is obviously there but he just can't hold onto the football.
24. Chris Ivory:  The guy can really run the football with power but there are clear limitation such as no receiving ability and a long list of leg injuries.
25. Darren Sproles:  Same story, different season.  Will catch a lot of passes and do not much running.
26. Pierre Thomas:  I bet you didn't know Thomas caught 77 passes last season.  Needs to run for more than 549 yards and 2 touchdowns though to be more than a third back.
27. Chris Johnson:  Has lost more than a step and has bad attitude to go with it.  Getting cut and it is anyone's guess where he winds up next season.
28. Andre Ellington:  Lots of potential flash here but Bruce Arians is not on board completely.AGAIN!
29. Andre Brown:  Showing good ability when given the chance the last two seasons but constant leg issues conspiring to ruin his outlook.
30. Steven Jackson:  Sorry but he looks done finally.  Move on.
31. Lamar Miller:  Did next to nothing in 2013 that would make me want to look here again.
32. Rashard Mendenhall:  The knee injury ruined what was looking like a decent career.
33. Trent Richardson:  You would have to think Richardson should get another shot to claim the starting running role after the Colts stupidly gave up a first round pick for him.  I can't stand his game anyway.
34. Joquie Bell:  Like this guy a lot but for now is only a bench option with Reggie Bush still in town. 
35. Darren McFadden:  What a bust his career has been.  No telling what the next phase of it will be.

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

Monday, December 30, 2013

2014 FANTASY BASEBALL STARTING PITCHING RANKINGS 41-60

Moving right along with our first look at the 2014 fantasy baseball starting pitching rankings, we move a bit deeper as we see who makes up the list from 41-60. 

41. Clay Buchholz:  In 16 starts Buchholz was unhittable in posting a 1.72 ERA while showing an uptick in his K rate.  However Buchholz is developing the label of bring injury-prone and he did benefit from a lucky BABIP last season while the K rate was in outlier territory.  Lots of regression could be on the way this season.
42. Sonny Gray:  This might seem high but this is a hedge bet on my part in projecting Gray to continue the eye-opening run of starts he made the second half of last season.  Gray was a former first round pick so he had the pedigree to back up the results when he struck out more than a hitter per inning. 
43. Hyun-Jin Ryu:  Ryu was a terrific value play in his first MLB season after coming over with little fanfare from Japan.  Good control pitcher with solid enough K rate to stay a SP 3.
44. Matt Garza:  Love the arm but not the health.  Garza needs to stay in the NL to keep his optimum value as he has struck out a batter per inning there.
45. Justin Masterson:  It has taken me awhile to come around on this guy but there is no question Masterson tuned it up last season in vastly increasing his K rare to strike out 195 in 193 innings.  Love that ratio.
46. Lance Lynn:  Two seasons in a row now Lynn has been a first half stud and a second half dud.  The new Dan Haren of the late year fade.
47. Tajuan Walker:  This kid is going to be something else.  Universally considered to be the top pitching prospect in the minors, Walker will begin 2014 in the rotation where he will show us what all the fuss is about. 
48. Patrick Corbin:  Had a lot of BABIP help early on but Corbin fought off the regression by increasing his K rate as the season went on. 
49. Derek Holland:  Has to deal with his awful home ballpark but Holland continues his upward trajectory as he moves into the region of SP 3's.
50. Tim Lincecum:  Among the toughest pitchers to grade out.  Was the worst pitcher in baseball when you factor in expectations in 2012 and started off 2013 on that same path before putting finishing strong.  The strikeout ratio is around 1 per inning which is a drop from his CY Young days but still very good.  As long as you project him as an SP 3 than you will be all right.
51. Ubaldo Jimenez:  Turned his career around after it looked like his arm had lost its power.  Upped the K rate to his old levels in 2013 and the 3.30 ERA was nice.
52. Jake Peavy:  Remains in the AL with the Red Sox so once again Peavy's home ballpark is an issue since he gives up home runs.  Health never optimal either.
53. C.J. Wilson:  Wilson is underrated as he never misses a start and strikes out a nice load of batters.  However a rough walk rate shoots up the WHIP some seasons. 
54. Hiroki Kuroda:  Use him until August and than sell high or bench him as Kuroda clearly tired after a tremendous first four months last season.
55. Doug Fister:  Making his move to the National League into a major pitcher's park boost the already solid Fister.  Just don't expect much more than 150 K's.
56. Jon Lester:  Nice comeback season by Lester who was never as bad as his 2012 numbers.  However the K rate from his 2010 days is never coming back. 
57. C.C. Sabbathia:  Could rebound like Lester did as Sabbathia can't possibly pitch any worse than he did last season.  However his arm is not what it used to be given all the innings he has pitched.
58. R.A. Dickey:  It was obvious that the numbers were going to go up significantly for Dickey in going from New York Mets land to Toronto and their home run ballpark.  SP 3 or 4 is where Dickey should be where he stays at.
59. Jonathan Niese:  Classic SP 4 as Niese has decent ratios but not a great K rate.
60. Marco Estrada:  So much potential here as Estrada strikes out a batter per inning with a great walk rate and nice hit rate.  However Estrada has to keep the baseball in the ballpark to realize his potential this season.

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

Be sure to check back for more of the starting pitching rankings as we move forward through the week.  Let us hear your thoughts.

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FANTASY FOOTBALL BREAKING NEWS: LIONS CAN HEAD COACH JIM SCHWARTZ

                                                              

Jim Schwartz joined the ever growing list of fired coaches on Monday as he was let go by the Detroit Lions after only one playoff win in five seasons.  In addition Schwartz embarrassed the front office by lying to the media and getting involved in a cursing match with fans as the 2013 season concluded.

Analysis:  Schwartz join Rob Chudzinski, Mike Shanahan, Greg Schiano, and Lesie Frazier as six coaches who already have been given a pink slip. He is a solid defensive coach so he will surely find another job in that capacity but Schwartz clearly has issues with managing a team. 

FANTASY FOOTBALL BREAKING NEWS: BUC'S FIRE BOTH COACH GREG SCHIANO AND GM MARK DOMINIK

                                                           

The Glazer family cleaned house on Monday as they fired both head coach Greg Schiano and GM Mark Dominik.  Schiano exits after posting only an 11-21 record over two seasons which were marked by run-ins with some of his players, most notable former QB Josh Freeman.  The Glazer family reportedly has Lovie Smith at the top of their wish list, while Schiano becomes a big time candidate for the Penn State job if Bill O'Brien leaves.

Analysis:  Schiano was an embarrassment over his two seasons, from the victory formation fiasco to his issues with Freeman.  Dominik was a bit more of a surprise but Lovie Smith could easily be joined by Rich McKay. 

FANTASY FOOTBALL BREAKING NEWS: JASON GARRETT TO RETURN AS COWBOYS COACH

                                                          

Despite a gut-wrenching loss to the Philadelphia Eagles last Sunday night, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones reiterated that head coach Jason Garrett would be back to lead the team next season.  Garrett has yet to go anything but 8-8 in this three seasons at the helm of the Cowboys.

Analysis:  Garrett is a likable guy but he seems disconnected from the team and the Cowboys should go in another direction.  However the control freak Jones likely knows he can control Garrett which is why he is deciding to stick by him as we go into next season.

FANTASY FOOTBALL BREAKING NEWS: MIKE SHANAHAN FIRED AS HEAD COACH OF WASHINGTON REDSKINS MONDAY

                                                       

Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder quickly fired head coach Mike Shanahan on Monday which ended a four season run together.  Shanahan finished with a collective 24-40 mark with only one playoff appearance in those four seasons.  His clashes with QB Robert Griffin III, a Snyder favorite, no doubt helped push him to the door.

Analysis:  Look for the Redskins to hire an offensive coach to tutor Griffin and Jay Gruden and Josh McDaniels quickly come to mind.  If they did go the defensive route, Mike Zimmer would be a logical pick.

FANTASY FOOTBALL BREAKING NEWS: VIKES FIRE HEAD COACH LESLIE FRAZIER MONDAY

                                                         

The Minnesota Vikings kicked off Black Monday by firing head coach Leslie Frazier after three full seasons.  Frazier took the Vikings to the playoffs once in those three seasons and finished with a collective 19-29-1 mark.  The Vikings have already been linked to Denver Broncos OC Adam Gase, DC Jack Del Rio, Penn State's Bill O'Brien who reportedly is going to Houston, and Cincinnati Bengals OC Jay Gruden.

Analysis:  Here we go.  Frazier didn't have a lot of talent to work with and it would have been tough to think he would be fired only one season after going to the playoffs but this what the NFL is these days. 

2014 FANTASY FOOTBALL QB RANKINGS

With the 2013 fantasy football season in the books, let's take our first very early look at the 2014 QB rankings as we go through all the positions before we put things to bed for awhile.

1.  Peyton Manning:  55 touchdown passes and 5,477 yards.  Allow that to sink in all offseason.  Wow.
2.  Aaron Rodgers:  Yeah this past season was a bit rough with injury and not having the Packers QB for the playoff weeks but on talent alone Rodgers is still as good as it gets.
3.  Drew Brees:  Eventually age will take a toll as Brees turns 35 but so far there are no signs of slippage.  Playing in a Dome and in a West Coast system helps.
4. Nick Foles:  This is not a misprint.  Foles proved a natural for Chip Kelly's system and a 27/2 TD/INT ratio says it all.
5.  Tony Romo:  Will likely be undervalued again but not by me.  Give the guy his due already.
6.  Matt Ryan:  I will likely wind up with Ryan again next season as his price slipped due to the injuries around the Falcons offense.  This passing attack can be extremely explosive though so take advantage of the discount.
7.  Tom Brady:  Brady is getting up there now in age and with Rob Gronkowski no sure bet to ever stay healthy,  the 25 TD's he tossed last season are more where he stays now instead of his days in the 30's.
8. Andrew Luck:  Look for yet more improvement by this future star. 
9.  Philip Rivers:  Rivers proved to be a sweet bargain in 2013 as he proved he is not done yet with 4.478 yards and 32 touchdowns.  Loves the Mike Riley system.
10. Matthew Stafford:  The guy was terrific all season until December when he decided to throw more to the other team than his own receivers.  Extremely dependent on Calvin Johnson staying healthy which is always dicey.
11. Cam Newton:  You all like him more than me.  Terrific athlete and player but the fantasy football numbers don't match up with many of the guys listed earlier in this list.
12. Russell Wilson:  The guy has a knack for touchdowns which is all that matters in most leagues despite a middling yardage total.  Also ran for more than 500 yards last season which is not to be overlooked.
13. Andy Dalton:  A guy I like more than you.  On paper had a career-year with 33 touchdowns and 4,296 yards.  However the 20 touchdowns led to more than a few hair pulling moments.  Tremendous weaponry at Dalton's disposal.
15. Ben Roethlisberger:  Few realize how good Big Ben was in 2013 as he threw 28 touchdowns due to the Steelers missing the playoffs.  I have been a critic in the past but the Steelers are now clearly a passing offense which has me selling off on an investment. 
16. Colin Kaepernick:  Lots of flash last season and in Week 1 this season but not so much from that point on.  Overrated by many which I said was the case last summer.
17. Ryan Tannehill:  Showed marked improvement in his second full season with 23 touchdowns and he too can help a bit on the ground.
18. Jay Cutler:  Never a fan due to interception-heavy ways and injuries.  Also a free agent whose new locale is imperative as far as projecting his future.
19. Mike Glennon:  Quietly had a terrific rookie season.  Has nice weapons around him and a cannon arm.  Good value.
20. Carson Palmer:  Not a guarantee Palmer is back with Arizona next season but if he doesn't get released, a carbon copy of 2013 is likely.
21. Robert Griffin III:  Hope you all listened when I told to stay far away from Griffin last season.  His skills look a bit diminished and his attitude is horrible.  Move on.
22. Alex Smith:  Solid and steady but never lights up the stat sheet.
23. Eli Manning:  Listen Eli Manning is not nearly as bad as he looked all of 2013.  Sure he throws interceptions but the Giants didn't block for him one bit.  Look for a decent rebound.
24. Joe Flacco:  Never a numbers guy to begin with which means he is not someone who wasn't to invest in next season.
25. Sam Bradford:  Saw some good things out of Bradford before he got hurt but time is running out.
26. E.J. Manuel:  Some potential here but Manuel has a long way to go before we try this.

There you have it.  As always let us hear what you think.  Post your thoughts below.  Let us get a debate going on all of this.

 

Sunday, December 29, 2013

FANTASY FOOTBALL BREAKING NEWS: BROWN FIRE ROB CHUDZINSKI AFTER ONLY 1 SEASON

The Cleveland Brown upped the level of impatience that owners now have with their head coaches in this day and age as they fired Rob Chudzinski after only one season at the helm of the team Sunday. 

Analysis:  What a joke.  How anyone could be expected to succeed with a QB stable of Brandon Weeden, Brian Hoyer, and Jason Campbell is beyond me.  A coach should at the very least get two seasons to get his stamp on the team but obviously the Browns hierarchy saw something that concerned them. 

FANTASY FOOTBALL BREAKING NEWS: JETS TO BRING BACK REX RYAN FOR 2014

                                                        

After the New York Jets defeated the Miami Dolphins Sunday to finish the season 8-8, owner Woody Johnson announced after the game that head coach Rex Ryan would return for 2014.  No word yet on whether Ryan will be given an extension since he would go into 2014 as a lame duck if they don't do so. 

Analysis:  Not a surprise because all recent reports indicated this would be the case.  You would have been surprised however if I told you this at the start of the season as the Jets looked like one of the worst teams in the league but who overachieved in finishing at .500 with two big wins to finish things out.

FANTASY FOOTBALL BREAKING NEWS: MIKE SHANAHAN TO BE FIRED AS SOON AS SUNDAY NIGHT

                                                         

According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, the Washington Redskins will fire head coach Mike Shanahan as soon as Sunday night when the team finishes off their last place finish in the NFC East.  After butting heads with Robert Griffin III and seeing the team take a major step back from first place to last, owner Daniel Snyder has had enough according to reports.

Analysis:  The Redskins are a joke and Snyder is right there with Jerry Jones as the most overmatches owners in the game.  While Shanahan has had his drawbacks in this mess, the Redskins should sell high on Griffin and go forward with Kirk Cousins whose pocket style will keep him from getting hurt like his teammate has since they were drafted.

FANTASY FOOTBALL BREAKING NEWS: VIKES TO FIRE LESLIE FRAZIER MONDAY

                                                       

In a move that will surprise no one, the Minnesota Vikings will fire head coach Leslie Frazier on Monday.  After making the playoffs last season, the Vikes went into Week 17 with only four wins and the overall look of the club going backwards.

Analysis:  This is a bit unfair to Frazier who took a team with only one star in Adrian Peterson to the playoffs in 2012 and than had a rough 2013 behind some horrid QB play that was not his fault.  Be that as it may, look for someone like a Ken Whisenhunt to get a long look here. 

FANTASY FOOTBALL BREAKING NEWSl JAMAAL CHARLES TO REST SUNDAY

                                                    

Kansas City Chiefs RB Jamaal Charles will not suit up Sunday in a meaningless game for the team who are locked into the number five seed in the AFC.  Charles will finish up a monster season where he scored 19 total touchdowns and was a major force in both the running and passing game.

Analysis:  No reason to quibble here as Charles should not risk injury in a game that means nothing.  Charles was right there with LeSean McCoy as the best running game in football this season and remains a top three guy for 2014.

FANTASY FOOTBALL BREAKING NEWS: MATT SCHAUB STARTING AT QB FOR TEXANS

                                                         

The Houston Texans declared rookie Case Keenum inactive Sunday with a sore thumb and instead will go with veteran Matt Schaub under center.  This could be the final game of Schaub's Houston career in a season where he lost his starting job to Keenum and heard a ton of boos from the fans.

Analysis:  Tough ending for Schaub who generally has been a very good QB for the Texans since he came over in a trade from the Atlanta Falcons.  He will surely have more than a few bites on the market if he does get cut loose as expected. 

FANTASY FOOTBALL BREAKING NEWS: RAY RICE AND TORREY SMITH BOTH ACTIVE FOR RAVENS

                                                        

Both Baltimore Ravens RB Ray Rice (thigh) and WR Torrey Smith (hamstring) are active Sunday and will start against the Cincinnati Bengals.  With the Ravens fighting to get into the playoffs, both guys have declared themselves well enough to participate.

Analysis:  Nothing for me to add here as you will obviously play them both if you have a game this week.  Whether they play well enough while being injured is a different matter.

FANTASY FOOTBALL BREAKING NEWS: CALVIN JOHNSON INACTIVE FOR FINALE WITH KNEE

                                                       

Detroit Lions WR Calvin Johnson has been declared inactive for Sunday's game against the Minnesota Vikings due to the knee that has given him trouble all season.  With the Lions out of the playoff picture and looking at a meaningless game, they decided the best course of action was to sit him outright.

Analysis:  No reason not to do so as Megatron is an asset that needs to be protected at the highest levels.  If you do have a fantasy football game this week which would be foolish in the first place due to all the volatility in Week 17, Nate Burleson and Kris Durham figure to have a lot of targets tossed their way.

2014 FANTASY BASEBALL STARTING PITCHING RANKINGS 21-40

We continue along with our first look at the 2014 fantasy baseball starting pitching rankings by moving past the top 20 and seeing who made the cut from 21-40. 

21. Anibal Sanchez:  I bet you didn't know this guy led the American League in ERA with a 2.57 mark.  Once an injury-marred mess with the Marlins, Sanchez has graduated into a solid low end SP 1.  The injury worry is always there and you would rather he be in the National League but the numbers speak volumes.
22. Shelby Miller:  Lost in the Jose Fernandez-Matt Harvey hype was the terrific rookie season put up by this power dynamo.  Anyone who throws up a 3.06 ERA as a rookie has our attention and the Cardinals' excellent development of starters lessens worry of a sophomore slump.
23. Gerrit Cole:  I will do everything I can to make sure Cole is on every one of my teams.  Ask anyone and they will tell you Cole has dominance written all over him with his 100-mph fastball and terrific secondary stuff.  Comparisons to Justin Verlander are all I need to hear.
24. Michael Wacha:  The theme in the rankings here are guys who are the top young pitchers in the game who all point to future ace-status.  Wacha was a monster in the heat of a playoff run and than into the postseason.  Top notch stuff here as well like his rotation mate Miller and Cole. 
25.  Mike Minor:  This was one sleeper who came through big for me last season.  Minor had all the signs going into 2013 that he would be upper level such as a tiny walk rate, low hit rate, and solid strikeout stuff.  Just a home run tendency is all that levels him on occasion.
26. Alex Cobb:  Cobb was on his way towards becoming an ace-like pitcher last season until he took a comebacker off his head that gave him a concussion.  The strikeout rate was better than I thought it would and like in St. Louis, Tampa Bay pitchers come out firing on all cylinders. Great potential value here as Cobb's missed games last season will keep his price lower.
27. Tony Cingrani:  Like with Cole, I am going all-in on this lefty too.  Cingrani has big time strikeout stuff like the rest of his young brethren and all that is keeping his ranking from getting out of control is the fact Dusty Baker stubbornly kept him in the minors longer than he needed to be.
28. Hisashi Iwakuma:  I have spoken more than a few times about how Iwakuma's 3.16 ERA last season was helped quite a bit by a lucky BABIP and strand rate.  Up the ERA to around 3.40 and the rest is repeatable. 
29. Francisco Liriano:  Following in A.J. Burnett's footsteps, Liriano turned into an ace after coming over from the American League.  With the Pirates picking up his option, Liriano is set to reprise his 2013 run.  With the fantasy baseball community always leery of his inconsistency, Liriano should be nicely priced.
30. A.J. Burnett:  Still not signed but expect Burnett back with the Pirates soon enough.  Unbelievably had his best K rate ever at 36 last season so there is no way Burnett is retiring.
31. Julio Teheran:  Like with Homer Bailey, it took some time for Teheran to find his way at the MLB level.  His explosive stuff showed up in force however for the Atlanta Braves and more of the same is on tap for 2014.
32. Chris Tillman:  Came back from fantasy baseball purgatory by throwing up a 3.42 second-half ERA last season and won 16 overall.  We hate the AL East but Tillman was a buzzy prospect when he was coming up the farm ladder so the pedigree was always there.
33. Matt Moore:  The ride can be wild at times as Moore seems to get into one giant funk a season but overall this strikeout machine has more upside to tap into.
34. Jered Weaver:  Weaver pitched well when he came off the DL last season but you must keep in mind this is a vastly different pitcher than his 220-K days a few years earlier.  The fastball has lost ticks that show no signs of coming back so Weaver now gets by on deception and movement.  No longer an ace and is actually more of an SP 3 now.
35. Zack Wheeler:  Love the potential here as Wheeler has the 98-mph fastball and rocket stuff to pile up the K's.  Reminds me of Moore though in that Wheeler has control issues which need to be ironed out.
36. Johnny Cueto:  Can't seem to stay healthy the last two seasons but the story is the same here,  Cueto has a decent enough K rate and terrific ratios when on the mound.  Price getting very affordable.
37. Kris Medlen:  Medlen came back down to earth last season as his K rate sank and his WHIP shot way up given the rigors of having to pitch a whole season.  Price Medlen on what he did last season and not in 2013 and you will be fine.
38. Chris Archer:  Yet another Tampa Bay starter who come up firing missiles.  Archer only has to smooth out a very high home run rate to make a Cobb-like 2013 run. 
39. Jeff Samardzjia:  Was a popular sleeper in 2013 who was solid the first half but than crashed and burned in the second half.  Strikeouts are always above-average but Samardzjia's mechanics were an absolute mess at times last season.
40. Yovani Gallardo:  Been telling you for years to avoid this overrated mess and Gallardo outdid himself in 2013 by losing a bunch of K's and continuing with his high-WHIP and ugly control ways.

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

Saturday, December 28, 2013

FANTASY FOOTBALL BREAKING NEWS: TEXANS TO HIRE BILL O'BRIEN AS COACH

According to a team source close to the front office, the Houston Texans will hire Bill O'Brien as the new head coach.  The Texans and O'Brien, who was the head coach at Penn State the past two seasons, are working out the final stages of a contract and an announcement could come as soon as Sunday.

Analysis:  The Texans zeroed in on O'Brien quickly and he is the hot college head coaching candidate.  They had interviewed Lovie Smith earlier in the week but the Texans were interested in having O'Brien all along. With the Texans job being the most coveted by coaching candidates, the rest of the jobs could quickly fall in line with a vacancy no longer open.

2014 FANTASY BASEBALL TOP 20 STARTING PITCHERS

We move on from the outfielders to the extremely deep starting pitching fraternity for 2014 fantasy baseball.  In this era of the pitcher, this group is by far the deepest in the game and it makes drafting your first starter earlier than the fifth round foolish.  In fact you can are that every one of the top 20 and maybe even deeper are staff aces. 

1.  Clayton Kershaw:  Hip was no problem last season which was only worry.  Scary what Kershaw has already accomplished.  Could go down as one of the best ever if he stays healthy.
2.  Max Scherzer:  Remember it was me who screamed to the rafters to draft Scherzer last season and he goes and wins the Cy Young.  He has finally arrived as a monster strikeout ace.  Just a tad worried about violent delivery.
3.  Adam Wainwright:  Always loved Wainwright.  Came all the way back from Tommy John surgery last season in putting together best season.  Striking out 219 batters so his stuff is as potent as ever.
4.  Felix Hernandez:  The safest and most durable top ten pitching investment.  You can write in stone 220 K's with a low 3.00 ERA and around a 1.11. 
5.  Yu Darvish:  Striking out guys at a rate we haven't seen since Randy Johnson.  Body holding up just fine to rigors of MLB season and is getting even better which is scary.
6.  David Price:  No matter where Price ends up, he is a pure ace in his prime.
7.  Stephen Strasburg:  K rate dropped a bit and Strasburg had yet another DL stint but his stuff as good as anyone's in the game.  Still he is a sizable injury risk who I am leery of drafting.
8.  Jose Fernandez:  What this kid did as a 20-year-old rookie in pitching to a 2.19 ERA and 0.98 with 187 K's in 172.2 innings was as good a debut as I have seen in my lifetime.  I will honestly say I think Fernandez has the best and most fluid stuff in all of baseball already.  Go hard on this.
9.  Cliff Lee:  The lefty continues to churn out outstanding seasons as he reaches his upper 30's.  Gets most of his K's on deception and movement and not his fastball so Lee can hold onto his numbers for another season or two. 
10. Madison Bumgarner:  Along with Scherzer, I told you to go just as hard after Bumgarner.  This is why I won both of the Experts Leagues by a landslide.  Price no longer enticing as the rest of the fantasy baseball community has come to realize how incredible talented the guy is. 
11. Chris Sale:  Showed no signs of his past elbow trouble or a bounce off a 2012 Verducci Rules violation.  Big time strikeout guy who is as good as any pitcher but again history of elbow trouble is a bit of a red flag.
12. Cole Hamels:  Told you to all to buy low on Hamels after he "struggled" the first half of last season.  That was due to poor BABIP luck which fixed itself in the second half as Hamels pitched like an ace again.  Very safe investment who will come cheaper than he should.
13. Justin Verlander:  The former number 1 overall pitcher drops more than a little off 2013's disturbing season.  The strikeouts were still very good but the hit rate shot up and the walks as well.  I have said before the last three seasons that Verlander's heavy workloads will eventually take a toll.  This season will determine if he is going the C.C. Sabbathia route.
14. Zack Greinke:  Started slowly but yours truly's favorite ace was nearly unhittable in the second half.  Remains in a major pitcher's park and the K's have every right to shoot back up over 200.
15. James Shields:  Got no run support in K.C. but Shields is as durable as they come and is a major strikeout weapon.
16. Gio Gonzalez:  Was cleared in the Biogenesis mess and had another good season but not like 2012.  Walks rear their ugly head once in awhile but Gonzalez is a rock solid SP 2.
17. Mat Latos:  Career-year for Latos last season after he finally figured out how to pitch in April.  Numbers very consistent and he makes for great SP 2.
18. Jordan Zimmerman:  If you want an ERA/WHIP asset, this is your guy as Zimmerman's ratios are as good as any starter's the last three seasons.  Just don't look for more than 160 K's.
19. Matt Cain:  Homers were a huge problem for Cain which blew up his ERA.  However the rest of his rate stats were right in line so if he gets that under control than Cain will be back to his usal ace-self.
20. Homer Bailey:  Has firmly established himself as a 200-K ace after years of figuring out how to pitch.  Great value starter this season.
21. Anibal Sanchez:  I bet you didn't know this guy led the American League in ERA with a 2.57 mark.  Once an injury-marred mess with the Marlins, Sanchez has graduated into a solid low end SP 1.  The injury worry is always there and you would rather he be in the National League but the numbers speak volumes.
22. Shelby Miller:  Lost in the Jose Fernandez-Matt Harvey hype was the terrific rookie season put up by this power dynamo.  Anyone who throws up a 3.06 ERA as a rookie has our attention and the Cardinals' excellent development of starters lessens worry of a sophomore slump.
23. Gerrit Cole:  I will do everything I can to make sure Cole is on every one of my teams.  Ask anyone and they will tell you Cole has dominance written all over him with his 100-mph fastball and terrific secondary stuff.  Comparisons to Justin Verlander are all I need to hear.
24. Michael Wacha:  The theme in the rankings here are guys who are the top young pitchers in the game who all point to future ace-status.  Wacha was a monster in the heat of a playoff run and than into the postseason.  Top notch stuff here as well like his rotation mate Miller and Cole. 
25.  Mike Minor:  This was one sleeper who came through big for me last season.  Minor had all the signs going into 2013 that he would be upper level such as a tiny walk rate, low hit rate, and solid strikeout stuff.  Just a home run tendency is all that levels him on occasion.
26. Alex Cobb:  Cobb was on his way towards becoming an ace-like pitcher last season until he took a comebacker off his head that gave him a concussion.  The strikeout rate was better than I thought it would and like in St. Louis, Tampa Bay pitchers come out firing on all cylinders. Great potential value here as Cobb's missed games last season will keep his price lower.
27. Tony Cingrani:  Like with Cole, I am going all-in on this lefty too.  Cingrani has big time strikeout stuff like the rest of his young brethren and all that is keeping his ranking from getting out of control is the fact Dusty Baker stubbornly kept him in the minors longer than he needed to be.
28. Hisashi Iwakuma:  I have spoken more than a few times about how Iwakuma's 3.16 ERA last season was helped quite a bit by a lucky BABIP and strand rate.  Up the ERA to around 3.40 and the rest is repeatable. 
29. Francisco Liriano:  Following in A.J. Burnett's footsteps, Liriano turned into an ace after coming over from the American League.  With the Pirates picking up his option, Liriano is set to reprise his 2013 run.  With the fantasy baseball community always leery of his inconsistency, Liriano should be nicely priced.
30. A.J. Burnett:  Still not signed but expect Burnett back with the Pirates soon enough.  Unbelievably had his best K rate ever at 36 last season so there is no way Burnett is retiring.
31. Julio Teheran:  Like with Homer Bailey, it took some time for Teheran to find his way at the MLB level.  His explosive stuff showed up in force however for the Atlanta Braves and more of the same is on tap for 2014.
32. Chris Tillman:  Came back from fantasy baseball purgatory by throwing up a 3.42 second-half ERA last season and won 16 overall.  We hate the AL East but Tillman was a buzzy prospect when he was coming up the farm ladder so the pedigree was always there.
33. Matt Moore:  The ride can be wild at times as Moore seems to get into one giant funk a season but overall this strikeout machine has more upside to tap into.
34. Jered Weaver:  Weaver pitched well when he came off the DL last season but you must keep in mind this is a vastly different pitcher than his 220-K days a few years earlier.  The fastball has lost ticks that show no signs of coming back so Weaver now gets by on deception and movement.  No longer an ace and is actually more of an SP 3 now.
35. Zack Wheeler:  Love the potential here as Wheeler has the 98-mph fastball and rocket stuff to pile up the K's.  Reminds me of Moore though in that Wheeler has control issues which need to be ironed out.
36. Johnny Cueto:  Can't seem to stay healthy the last two seasons but the story is the same here,  Cueto has a decent enough K rate and terrific ratios when on the mound.  Price getting very affordable.
37. Kris Medlen:  Medlen came back down to earth last season as his K rate sank and his WHIP shot way up given the rigors of having to pitch a whole season.  Price Medlen on what he did last season and not in 2013 and you will be fine.
38. Chris Archer:  Yet another Tampa Bay starter who come up firing missiles.  Archer only has to smooth out a very high home run rate to make a Cobb-like 2013 run. 
39. Jeff Samardzjia:  Was a popular sleeper in 2013 who was solid the first half but than crashed and burned in the second half.  Strikeouts are always above-average but Samardzjia's mechanics were an absolute mess at times last season.
40. Yovani Gallardo:  Been telling you for years to avoid this overrated mess and Gallardo outdid himself in 2013 by losing a bunch of K's and continuing with his high-WHIP and ugly control ways.
41. Clay Buchholz:  In 16 starts Buchholz was unhittable in posting a 1.72 ERA while showing an uptick in his K rate.  However Buchholz is developing the label of bring injury-prone and he did benefit from a lucky BABIP last season while the K rate was in outlier territory.  Lots of regression could be on the way this season.
42. Sonny Gray:  This might seem high but this is a hedge bet on my part in projecting Gray to continue the eye-opening run of starts he made the second half of last season.  Gray was a former first round pick so he had the pedigree to back up the results when he struck out more than a hitter per inning. 
43. Hyun-Jin Ryu:  Ryu was a terrific value play in his first MLB season after coming over with little fanfare from Japan.  Good control pitcher with solid enough K rate to stay a SP 3.
44. Matt Garza:  Love the arm but not the health.  Garza needs to stay in the NL to keep his optimum value as he has struck out a batter per inning there.
45. Justin Masterson:  It has taken me awhile to come around on this guy but there is no question Masterson tuned it up last season in vastly increasing his K rare to strike out 195 in 193 innings.  Love that ratio.
46. Lance Lynn:  Two seasons in a row now Lynn has been a first half stud and a second half dud.  The new Dan Haren of the late year fade.
47. Tajuan Walker:  This kid is going to be something else.  Universally considered to be the top pitching prospect in the minors, Walker will begin 2014 in the rotation where he will show us what all the fuss is about. 
48. Patrick Corbin:  Had a lot of BABIP help early on but Corbin fought off the regression by increasing his K rate as the season went on. 
49. Derek Holland:  Has to deal with his awful home ballpark but Holland continues his upward trajectory as he moves into the region of SP 3's.
50. Tim Lincecum:  Among the toughest pitchers to grade out.  Was the worst pitcher in baseball when you factor in expectations in 2012 and started off 2013 on that same path before putting finishing strong.  The strikeout ratio is around 1 per inning which is a drop from his CY Young days but still very good.  As long as you project him as an SP 3 than you will be all right.
51. Ubaldo Jimenez:  Turned his career around after it looked like his arm had lost its power.  Upped the K rate to his old levels in 2013 and the 3.30 ERA was nice.
52. Jake Peavy:  Remains in the AL with the Red Sox so once again Peavy's home ballpark is an issue since he gives up home runs.  Health never optimal either.
53. C.J. Wilson:  Wilson is underrated as he never misses a start and strikes out a nice load of batters.  However a rough walk rate shoots up the WHIP some seasons. 
54. Hiroki Kuroda:  Use him until August and than sell high or bench him as Kuroda clearly tired after a tremendous first four months last season.
55. Doug Fister:  Making his move to the National League into a major pitcher's park boost the already solid Fister.  Just don't expect much more than 150 K's.
56. Jon Lester:  Nice comeback season by Lester who was never as bad as his 2012 numbers.  However the K rate from his 2010 days is never coming back. 
57. C.C. Sabbathia:  Could rebound like Lester did as Sabbathia can't possibly pitch any worse than he did last season.  However his arm is not what it used to be given all the innings he has pitched.
58. R.A. Dickey:  It was obvious that the numbers were going to go up significantly for Dickey in going from New York Mets land to Toronto and their home run ballpark.  SP 3 or 4 is where Dickey should be where he stays at.
59. Jonathan Niese:  Classic SP 4 as Niese has decent ratios but not a great K rate.
60. Marco Estrada:  So much potential here as Estrada strikes out a batter per inning with a great walk rate and nice hit rate.  However Estrada has to keep the baseball in the ballpark to realize his potential this season.
61. Randall Delgado:  Has Braves lineage which is interesting since that system has a great knack for developing pitchers and a live arm.  Could have the breakout this season that Julio Teheran had last season.
62. Josh Johnson:  After swearing off Johnson correctly for the last two seasons, ready to jump back in after he signed with the San Diego Padres.  Johnson upped the K rate last season and now that he is out of the American League, could turn back into an SP 3.
63. Ian Kennedy:  I knew all along his 2011 season was an outlier fluke but Kennedy is also not as bad as his numbers suggest the last two years.  Now goes to San Diego and their giant ballpark.  Very solid rebound candidate who will come cheap.  I am buying.
64. John Lackey:  Finally starting earning his contract with Boston last season in a solid comeback campaign.  Nothing flashy year but Lackey can help as an SP 4.
65. Dillon Gee:  Put up a great 2.74 ERA and 1.08 WHIP the second half of 2013 which was second-best in the game.  Strikeouts are not Gee's things but ratios useful.
66. Travis Wood:  Finally overcame injuries to unleash his always interesting potential.  Like with Gee though, Wood won't help with the K's.
67. Kyle Lohse:  Basically the pitcher's in this grouping have good ratios and poor K rates.  Best used in non-innings capped leagues.
68. Jose Quintana:  Quintana took a small step forward in his development last season in posting a nice 3.51 ERA and 1.22 WHIP.  Hate the ballpark though.
69. Joe Kelly:  Can't ever ignore a Cardinals starting pitcher.  Even one who has a very shaky K rate. 
70. Jarrod Parker:  Had about as bad an April as you can have last season and than rallied to finish with a 3.97 ERA which is saying a lot. 
71. Jacob Turner:  Classic case of a guy whose stuff only works best in a pitcher's park like in Miami.  Only striking out 106 in 160.2 innings a giant negative.
72. Ervin Santana:  This guy's career has been one big roller coaster.  Things pointed up in 2013 with a career-low 3.24 ERA and 1.14 WHIP but Santana's K rate is losing steam and no one trusts him to replicate those ratios.
73. Dan Haren:  Stays in pitcher's park with the Dodgers which is key and even though his overall numbers were ugly last season, Haren put up a 3.52 ERA and 1.01 WHIP the second half as he started to feel healthy again. 
74. Jeremy Guthrie:  Seems to always scratch out decent enough numbers to remain interesting.
75. Ivan Nova:  Has always had the arm but not the head to excel but last season showed positive signs all the way around.  Upside at a very cheap price.
76. Wade Miley:  A younger Kyle Lohse.
77. Hector Santiago:  I am intrigued by the K/IP ratios Santiago has put up since coming into the majors and he now moves to a nice pitcher's park in Los Angeles.
78. Jeff Locke:  First half All Star, second half banishment to minors.  Which Locke will we see in 2014?
79. Bud Norris:  Arm can be impressive at times but Norris' control always seems to ruin his bottom line.
80. Tim Hudson:  One of the most underrated pitchers of his generation, Hudson still generating groundballs and solid ERA's.
81. Jake Westbrook:  The wily veteran still is putting out solid seasons but leave him alone in inning capped formats.
82. A.J. Griffin:  Soft-tosser has had two nice seasons in a row with regards to his ratios.
83. Brandon Morrow:  Steep ball for perennial power tease.  Stuff is diminishing with all his injuries.
84. Andrew Cashner:  I am intrigued again given the San Diego digs and the strikeout stuff. 
85. Bartolo Colon:  No one trusts how Colon is pitching like an SP 2 but in Citi Field he stands a good chance for another solid WHIP and ERA.
86. Miguel Gonzalez:  Nothing to add here that I haven't already said about most guys in this tier. 
87.  Bronson Arroyo:  You know you will get 220 innings here with solid ratios and shaky K rates. 
88. Eric Stults:  The ballpark helps Stults put up results better than what he really is.
89. Jhoulys Chacin:  Was a decent sleeper back in 2012 but Chacin took awhile to reap benefits.  Still can't get excited drafting any pitcher who plays his home games at Coors Field.
90. Corey Kluber:  Reminds me of Dan Straily with the impressive minor league strikeout numbers. 
91. Ricky Nolasco:  Finally useful again last season after years of horrid pitching.  Remains in nice ballpark with the Minnesota Twins.
92. Mike Leake:  Again another guy who is useful in spurts but whose K rate is ugly.
93. Scott Kazmir:  No way I trust Kazmir to stay healthy off a decent comeback season with the Cleveland Indians. 
94. Brandon Beachy:  Don't forger about this guy who in the first two months of 2012 was the best pitcher in baseball.
95. Danny Salazar:  Young kid with some power stuff.  Watch him.
96. Yusmeiro Petit:  Opened some eyes again with a close no-hitter attempt.  Arm is still lively.
97. Alex Wood:  Will be given a shot to build on nice second half performance. Got to always keep tabs on Atlanta Braves pitching.
98. Rick Porcello:  Was a buzzy prospect for years but ultimately the lack of K rate makes Porcello an SP 5 at best.
99. Daniel Duffy:  Always liked this kid who can rack up the K's but the control is horrendous.
100. Mark Buehrle:  Getting old and the stats are slipping.
101. Johan Santana:  Will get a shot from someone and worth monitoring as he pitched well before the latest surgery.
102. Matt Harrison:  Put up two decent seasons from 2011-12 but the bottom fell out in 2013 as injuries and BABIP adjustment showed what Harrison really is.  Which is only an SP 5.
103. Jeremy Hellickson:  Good luck trusting this guy in any one start.  Could get 7 inning of 1 earned run or 8-earned run two inning bomb.
104.  Brett Anderson:  Have been an Anderson apologist for years but no more now that he calls Colorado home and can't stay in one piece.
105. Felix Doubront:  Runs hot and cold but Doubront held his own as an SP 5 in a tough division.
106. Ryan Dempster:  Horrid season in 2013 could portend more bad to come as Dempster ages.  Should have stayed in the NL.
107. Scott Feldman:  Another guy who had the chance to stay in the NL but didn't which pretty ruins his middling value.
108. Josh Beckett:  Could be ready for April but Beckett's body started betraying him years ago and now his stuff is grossly diminished.
109. Trevor Cahill:  Ratios not the worst in the world but you strike out more guys.
110. Trevor Bauer:  Arm earned lots of hype in the minors but control about as bad as you can get. 
111. Paul Maholm:  Don't even think about it.
112. Phil Hughes:  Taking a flier on Hughes not the worst idea in the world since he now calls Target Field home which minimizes his biggest weakness which is home runs against.
113. Wandy Rodriguez:  Has been a lock SP 5 for years and nothing has changed. 
114. Aaron Harang:  Actually threw pretty well at times the last two seasons but fact he doesn't have job as of this writing shows there is not much excitement around the guy at this stage of his career.
115. Wily Peralta:  Started generating some excitement as he put some big time K games together last season but the overall results were still ugly. 
116. Jaime Garcia:  No thank you.  Even if he pitches for the St. Louis Cardinals.
117. Martin Perez:  Another guy you could take a flier on but the ballpark seriously limits the upside.
118. Tommy Milone:  Like with San Diego pitchers, an Oakland pitcher like Milone's numbers look better than he really is.
119. Jason Vargas:  Useful when he pitches at home only.
120. Nathan Eovaldi:  If soft-tossers who won't destroy your ERA and WHIP are concerned, than this guy is for you.

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Friday, December 27, 2013

2014 FANTASY BASEBALL PLAYER ANALYZER: MATT CARPENTER 2B ST. LOUIS CARDINALS

                                                            Matt Carpenter

Every drafting season in fantasy baseball brings some new names to the forefront of the various position rankings and one such case can clearly be seen in the second base hierarchy which includes the St. Louis Cardinals' Matt Carpenter.  After being given the stating second baseman's job right from the start of the 2013 season, Carpenter put together a terrific year that garnered some low end MVP consideration.  The ultimate result puts Carpenter into the top ten of the 2014 fantasy baseball second baseman and thus has turned him into a trusted option when only one year ago he was nothing but a curiosity.  Before we delve into what we could expect out of Carpenter heading into this season, let's rehash his 2013 numbers.

.318 average
11 HR
78 RBI
126 R
3 SB
626 at-bats.

When looking into those numbers, what quickly jumps out is the classic leadoff skills that Carpenter employs such as major gains in average and runs scored.  Carpenter was in the batting title race for a good portion of 2013 and his very low K rate and high walk rate makes him almost a lock to hit .300 and likely do better.  In addition, the always productive Cardinals batting lineup allows Carpenter to cross home plate with regularity as he led all of baseball in that stat last season with 126.  It is those two stats where Carpenter gains his most value.  From there things get a little dicey however.  Expecting Carpenter to repeat the 78 RBI he had out of the leadoff spot this season is asking a ton and it is not likely to be repeated.  The 11 home runs were nice from a second baseman but not so much when you factor in that Carpenter got them in an extreme 626 at-bats.  Finally, Carpenter supplies very little in the stolen base department as he swiped only 3 bags in 6 attempts in all of those at-bats last season.  When you consider that your best strategy is to get a bunch of your team steals from your middle infielders, Carpenter is a big negative there.  The kid clearly has limitations but he also has excellence in certain aspects of the game.

Overall, Matt Carpenter is our number 7 ranked second baseman for 2014 fantasy baseball.  His lack of steals is a drawback and honestly you can argue Carpenter is a two-category guy who can do enough to help in two others while being a big zero in another.  As long as you structure the rest of your team to make up for the steals Carpenter won't provide, you can't really do wrong with investing in the guy this season.  Solid and steady is the best way to summarize  his total outlook for this season.

2014 PROJECTION:  .315 10 HR 67 RBI 117 R 4 SB

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2013 FANTASY FOOTBALL ALL-VALUE TEAM

Last but not least before we put the 2013 fantasy football season to rest, we present to you our All Value team.  These are the players who supplied the biggest bang for your fantasy football bucks and likely helped many owners take home their league titles.  Let's check out who made the cut.

QB (2)

Nick Foles/Philip Rivers/Ryan Tannehill:  Foles you can argue is the value play of the year as it seemed like he threw three touchdowns falling out of bed.  Rivers meanwhile came very cheap in the draft but turned back the clock to his earlier Pro Bowl seasons.  Finally Tannehill took a nice step forward this season with 23 touchdowns and played his best down the stretch.

RB (3)

Knowshon Moreno/Zac Stacy/Danny Woodhead:  Stacy was the RB version of Nick Foles as he was a stud from October on.  Moreno meanwhile finally stayed healthy and racked up 10 scores and over 1,000 rushing yards and 55 grabs.  Finally Woodhead was a monster PPR back who has six touchdown grabs and 2 more on the ground.

WR (5)

Antonio Brown/Julian Edelman/Josh Gordon/Keenan Allen/Alshon Jeffery:  Brown, Gordon, and Jeffery all made the All Pro team and for good reason.  They all make this team too as all except Brown was drafted in the majority of leagues.  And Brown was picked as a WR 3 according to his ADP.  Meanwhile Allen was the best rookie receiver by far and Edelman did what we thought Danny Amendola would in the Patriots' awesome passing game.

TE (2)

Julius Thomas/Jordan Cameron:  Easy picks here as both guys went undrafted and than went on to have top five seasons among the tight ends in the game.  Just terrific value for both.

K (1)

Ryan Succop:  Succop kicked a ton of field goals this season for a Chiefs offense that was much better than we all thought it could be.

DEF (1)

New Orleans Saints:  Shocking how good they were just a season off one of the worst performances from a defensive unit in league history. 

There you have it.  Since this is a democracy let's hear your thoughts.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

2014 FANTASY BASEBALL OUTFIELDER RANKINGS 61-80

We continue along with our first look at the 2014 fantasy baseball outfielder rankings as we go way deep in looking at numbers 61-80.

61. Matt Joyce:  There is no question that Joyce can be a nice help to your team the first half of the season as long as you sit him versus lefties.  Always fades out in the second half though so send him on his way beforehand.
62. B.J. Upton:  This might look like an overly harsh ranking but really Upton was just about the worst performing player in the game when you factor in salary during last season.  Insane K rate, eroding steals, and truly horrific average makes him more of a hurt than a help.
63. Ryan Raburn:  Will be in a platoon with David Murphy but had a very nice 2013 season with his pop.
64. Garrett Jones:  Still carries 1B/outfielder eligibility and is one of the more cheaper sources of 20-home run power in the game.
65. Cody Ross:  Can't seem to stay healthy to show off a decent home run swing.  Getting older too.
66. Denard Span:  Really is the classic player who is better in real life than in fantasy baseball since he does nothing great.
67. Chris Young:  Has quiet power/speed skills but like with B.J. Upton, average is a joke and he goes to a rough ballpark.
68. Ryan Ludwick:  Could fall into 20 home runs in his sleep but that is about all he can offer.
69. Michael Brantley:  Same deal here as with Span.
70. Rajai Davis:  Always love the steals but that truly is the only thing Davis can contribute and he will be in a timeshare with Andy Dirks.
71. Logan Morrison:  On a per game basis Morrison has interesting power but he hasn't been useful since 2011.
72. Chris Denorfia:  Sorry but I can't go crazy recommending any Padres hitter.
73. Gerardo Parra:  Surprised in playing better than one would think last season as Parra offers up some light power and solid speed.
74. A.J. Pollock:  Interests me as a late round flier as Pollock shows decent pop and speed as a leadoff guy.
75. Jarrod Dyson:  Even I was surprised to see Dyson had stolen 34 bags last season.  Have to see what the arrival of Norichika Aoki does to his status.
76. Lucas Duda:  Wasted of a pick if you go here.  No improvement made from Duda the last two seasons.  Only the occasional homer here.
77. Jordan Schafer:  Pretty much like most guys in this area code in that Schafer does one thing well (steals) and is shaky elsewhere.
78. Darin Ruf:  Can never depend on Ryan Howard staying healthy which will give Ruf another chance to show his power.
79. Ichiro Suzuki:  Right now needs a trade to get out of his fourth outfielder status on Yankees.
80. Daniel Nava:  Word is Nava could lead off for the Red Sox this season.  No speed at all but Nava has 15 homer pop.

There you have it.  Let us hear your thoughts below.

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2013 FANTASY FOOTBALL ALL BUST TEAM

We already discussed our 2013 fantasy football All Pro team a few days ago and the flip side of that is the All Bust team.  Players that failed to come close to their expected level of performance whether through injury, slumps, or a combination of the two.  Let's see who ruined more teams this season.

QB (3)

Robert Griffin III/Colin Kaepernick/Aaron Rodgers:  Correctly called both Griffin and Kaepernick busts before the season as they both went along with the script.  Both guys grossly underperformed from what was expected, while Rodgers makes the list simply for being absent for the most crucial weeks of the season due to injury.  Was all set to put Andrew Luck here until a nice finish.

RB (3)

Ray Rice/Arian Foster/C.J. Spiller/Doug Martin:  I was right on with my bust picks this season as I also wrote preseason pieces telling you all to avoid Foster and Spiller.  Foster worried me due to declining yards per carry and a very heavy workload the previous few seasons while Spiller was a guy I never envisioned being able to handle a full allotment of carries.  Meanwhile Rice shocked me at how awful he was from start to finish.  He could be looking at an early fade to his career due to his slight and stocky build taking a lot of pounding.  Yes I included a fourth runner in Martin as it was impossible not to include him since he played poorly before being lost for the season with a shoulder issue.

WR (5)

Julio Jones/Danny Amendola/Reggie Wayne/Mike Wallace/Roddy White:  Tough year to be a Falcons wide receiver as both Jones and White made the list.  Jones was put on like with Reggie Wayne due to missing the majority of the season with injury, while White himself was hobbled all year and played poorly when in the lineup.  He did finish strong however but by that time his original owners likely cut him loose and saw someone else benefit from that run.  Meanwhile I also called both Amendola and Wallace preseason busts and they came through in a major way with the former dealing with more injuries and the latter having issues connecting with a very young passer.

TE (2)

Jason Witten/Rob Gronkowski:  Yeah Witten caught 8 touchdowns but his 61 receptions were a vast drop in numbers which could be a sign he is aging.  Meanwhile Gronkowski was very good in the month that he played but he missed 3/4's of the season with more injuries. 

K (1)

Garrett Harley:  You would think investing in a kicker in one of the best offenses in the NFL would be profitable but Hartley destroyed that notion by getting cut last week.

DEF (1)

Dallas Cowboys:  With so many big games on this unit, they were historically bad.  Nothing good to say at all about this awful group.

There you have it.  Let us hear your thoughts below.



2013 FANTASY FOOTBALL ALL PRO TEAM

With the 2014 Fantasy Football season pretty much in the books, here are the players who made The Fantasy Sports Boss All Pro Team.

QB (3)

Peyton Manning/Drew Brees/Tony Romo:  No qualms about either one.  Manning was the slam dunk 2013 Fantasy Football MVP while Brees once again had a dominant season, albeit once that didn't finish that great.  The tough call was between Romo and Russell Wilson but the Cowboys' gunslinger had much more yardage and more scores.

RB (3)

LeSean McCoy/Jamaal Charles/Matt Forte:  These three separated themselves from the rest of the running back class with their overall excellence both in the running and receiving games.  Charles had the single best game of any player with his amazing Week 15 outing.

WR (5)

Calvin Johnson/Antonio Brown/Dez Bryant/Josh Gordon/Brandon Marshall:  This one was tough as Alshon Jeffery, Pierre Garcon, and A.J. Green all were close.  Still the previous five guys were spectacular all season and no one could quibble about any of their names on this list.

TE (3)

Jimmy Graham, Julius Thomas, Jordan Cameron:  Two terrific breakout guys in this group with Cameron and Thomas joining veteran Graham.  The absence of Ron Gronkowski and Jason Witten for differing reasons so a changing of he guard.

DEF (1)

Seattle Seahawks:  The Kansas City Chiefs had this one early until they faded due to injuries.  Seattle defense went crazy against the New York Giants and Arizona Cardinals to finish the season.

K (1)

Justin Tucker:  The guy who kicked six field goals which included the winning 61-yarder versus the Detroit Lions was the easy call clincher.  As accurate as any kicker in the game.

As always we would love to hear your thoughts.  Post your arguments just below.




Wednesday, December 25, 2013

FANTASY BASEBALL HOT STOVE BREAKING NEWS: YANKS "WON'T BE DENIED" ON MASAHIRO TANAKA

                                          

After it was finally revealed that the Rakuten Golden Eagles would post star Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka, a source close to the team revealed that the New York Yankees "won't be denied" in signing the talented righty.  While the Yankees are expected to get stiff competition from the Los Angeles Angels and Chicago Cubs, the source said the team has prepared all offseason to "give the farm" to Tanaka.

Analysis:  This should be fun to watch.  With the posting fee now capped at $20 million, there will be a lot more clubs involved in the bidding on the outset.  However the eventually $100 million-plus price tag will likely keep this a battle between the usual big market teams along with the Arizona Diamondbacks who have expressed interest all along.

2014 FANTASY BASEBALL OUTFIELDER RANKINGS 41-60

We are through the top 40 outfielders for 2014 fantasy baseball so let's move to see who made the list from 41-60. 

41. Adam Eaton:  Gets new starts in Chicago and remember he was a popular sleeper last season before injuries derailed his season. 
42. Nate McLouth:  Right now looking at fourth outfielder status but one injury or trade of Denard Span changes dynamic for the better.  Very good speed and some pop to go along for the ride.
43. Dexter Fowler:  Been waiting forever for the guy to realize his potential and the Rockies won't wait no more.  Loses much of his appeal going from hitting park to neutral one in Houston.
44. Eric Young Jr.  No one would guess Young Jr. led the National League in steals.  Major speed guy who could easily pass the 40 mark again.
45. Norichika Aoki:  Liked him more before last season but Aoki can give you 8-10 home runs with 25 steals and a .280 average.  Works as an outfielder 3.
46. Torii Hunter:  The guy doesn't get old.  Hunter was very good again in 2013 with contributions everywhere but steals. 
47. Marlon Byrd:  Can't buy into the 24 home runs at the age of 36 and off a PED suspension.  However Byrd went to the right ballpark in Philly to sustain that mark.
48. Colby Rasmus:  I refuse to ever draft the guy again but those who are so inclined will point to the home run ballpark.  You can have him.
49. Raul Ibanez:  Shocked everyone and his mother with 29 home runs at 41.  Chop about 10 of those homers off for this season and that looks right.
50. Michael Bourn:  Been calling him overrated for years and Bourn really helped that argument along with awful 2013 season.  Average is never great, home runs in past were fluky, and speed is fading.
51. Ben Zobrist:  Keep him in the infield.
52. Martin Prado:  Same deal as Zobrist.
53. Nick Swisher:  Boring as hell to own but you can write down 20 home runs and 80 RBI in ink.
54. Andre Ethier:  Career has really taken a dive.  Looking at fourth outfielder status for now but with Matt Kemp always hurt Ethier should get enough at-bats to stay relevant.
55. Carl Crawford:  I wouldn't pick him up even if he was sitting there on waivers.  Nothing but an injury mess with vastly shot skills.
56. Angel Pagan:  Does decent enough when on the field but Pagan screams out fourth outfielder.
57. Nate Schierholtz:  Can hit some home runs and collect some RBI but that's the end of the story.
58. Josh Reddick:  Nailed it before last season when I said there was no way Reddick would repeat 2012 due to his vast K rate.  Yup.
59. Leonys Martin:  I am going to look to Martin as my cheap speed source this season.  Could go off for 50 if all breaks right.
60. Avisail Garcia:  Potential here and name not recognized by all which could mean a major late round investment.

There you have it.  As always type your thoughts below.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

HAPPY HOLIDAYS TO ALL

Allow me to extend my wish for all of you to have a wonderful and happy holidays.  We will be back on the 26th with all of our usual fantasy baseball and fantasy football news and notes.  Enjoy! 

Monday, December 23, 2013

FANTASY FOOTBALL BREAKING NEWS: COWBOYS QB TONY ROMO DONE FOR SEASON WITH BACK INJURY

                                           

Dallas Cowboys QB Tony Romo will miss the remainder of the 2013 season which will include the playoffs if the team clinches the NFC East next weekend due to a back injury suffered in their comeback win over the Washington Redskins last Sunday.  Romo has a herniated disk which needs surgery to get in order.  Kyle Orton will take over and try to lead the Cowboys to the playoffs at home against the Philadelphia Eagles

Analysis:  Unbelievable.  Just when Romo had the chance to refute his critics in trying to come out on top in a win-and-get-in game next week, this happens.  Orton is in an impossible spot right now as he comes off the bench ice cold in a huge game.  If one believes in bad luck, than Romo certainly has it.  On a related front, Eagles nation rejoices. 

2014 FANTASY BASEBALL OUTFIELDER RANKINGS 21-40

We continue on with our first look at the 2014 fantasy baseball outfielder rankings by expanding into the next batch from 21-40. 

21. Matt Holliday:  Just when we tried to write him off, Holliday responded with a 22 HR/94 RBI/103 R season which would have been better without a DL stay.  Aging and speed is evaporated so there still is danger.
22. Allen Craig:  Has more value in the outfielder than at first base as he doesn't have the top end pop to say at the latter spot.
23. Starling Marte:  Terrific value play last season and comparisons to Carlos Gomez not far off after hitting 12 home runs and stealing 41 bases.  Could improve even more.
24. Carlos Beltran:  Taking his lefty power swing which will keep Beltran as an outfielder 2 for another season.
25. Curtis Granderson:  His days of 40 home runs are finished now that Granderson has signed with the New York Mets.  Strikeouts shooting way up and speed fading.  Lots of bad signs.
26. Alfonso Soriano:  Still has very good power and actually played like a low end outfielder 1 during his half season with the Yankees in 2013.  Full season with the Yanks in 2014 could once again net 30 home runs. 
27. Michael Cuddyer:  You never are thrilled to draft him but Cuddyer hit .331 with 20 home runs in his first season in Colorado. 
28. Alex Gordon:  It looks like his 2011 breakout was a bit of an outlier as Gordon's power and steals have not come close to that season since.  Solid contributor across the board though and price getting cheaper.
29. Nelson Cruz:  Coming off PED suspension, speed has vanished, and average never great.  Curtis Granderson without the stains.
30. Austin Jackson:  I am likely going to drop Jackson down more the next time you read this as his career is going in the wrong direction when he should be in his prime seasons.  The loss of steals is tough to understand.
31. Desmond Jennings:  Not developing the way we thought he would as a power/speed star.  While Jennings has the ability to swipe 30 bags and hit 12-15 home runs, and awful K rate and shaky average are the clear holes in his game.
32. Jayson Werth:  Believe it or not Werth has actually turned into a nice value as it seems no one ever wants him and all he does is continue to hit for power and steal bases with an improving average.
33. Shane Victorino:  Resurrected himself in his first season with Boston.  Offseason thumb surgery a concern. 
34. Brett Gardner:  Loses his leadoff spot which is a big negative and steals are dropping. 
35. Josh Hamilton:  Called that 2013 bust season.  It is only going to continue to get ugly.
36. Will Venable:  Another guy who took some time to break out like Gomez and Gordon.  Few knew the guy went 20/20 last season.
37. Alejandro De Aza:  Two nice seasons in a row now for De Aza who can do a little of everything.
38. Coco Crisp:  Back in Oakland for another season but 2013 saw increase in pop and drop in steals which could be the new trend given his age.
39. Adam Dunn:  Power still great but that is the only stat you get out of this.
40. Evan Gattis:  Keep him at catcher as he plays best at that spot.

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



Sunday, December 22, 2013

FANTASY FOOTBALL GAMEDAY BREAKING NEWS: COWBOYS WR DEZ BRYANT EXITS WITH SHOULDER INJURY

Dallas Cowboys WR Dez Bryant went to the sidelines with what appeared to be a shoulder injury while trying to make a sideline catch.  He was able to walk off on his own.

Analysis:  This has happened a few times the last few weeks for the emotional and theatric Bryant so don't panic yet. 

FANTASY FOOTBALL BREAKING NEWS: LIONS WR CALVIN JOHNSON COULD SIT WITH KNEE

                                        

Detroit Lions star WR Calvin Johnson could sit out Sunday's game against the New York Giants with a knee issue.  ESPN'S Adam Schefter was the first to report this Sunday as he stated would test the knee in a pre-game workout to determine if he can go.  This is the same knee that kept Johnson out of a gate earlier this season.

Analysis:  Wow.  This is just awful news for Megatron owner in the Super Bowl week.  To make matters worse the game is at 4:15 which limits the potential replacements.  This also extends to Matthew Stafford who was simply awful the game Johnson missed.  Stay tuned.

FANTASY FOOTBALL BREAKING NEWS: TEXANS TIGHT END GARRETT GRAHAM OUT SUNDAY

                                           

Houston Texans tight end Garrett Graham is out Sunday with a sore hamstring.  Graham joins Owen Daniels who is still out with a leg issue.  Ryan Griffin gets the start in their place.

Analysis:  Griffin has some intriguing appeal for those desperate for a tight end this week.  He has solid receiving skills and we all know the Texans like to throw the football to their tight ends.

FANTASY FOOTBALL BREAKING NEWS: VIKES RB ADRIAN PETERSON ACTIVE SUNDAY

                                           

Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson is active Sunday and will start after coming back from a foot injury.

Analysis:  Great news for Peterson owners who get their number 1 runner back for the Super Bowl week in fantasy football.  While he is less than 100 percent, injury hasn't stopped Peterson before from having huge games on the field. 

FANTASY FOOTBALL BREAKING NEWS: JAGS RB MAURICE JONES-DREW STARTING AHEAD OF JORDAN TODMAN

                                          

Jacksonville Jaguars RB Maurice Jones-Drew is starting ahead of Jordan Todman Sunday.  Jones-Drew is active after missing last week's game with a bad hamstring.

Analysis:  Stupid move by the Jags who should cut Jones-Drew in the offseason and let the exciting Todman have the job.  Wasted opportunity to get Todman some more work leading into next season. 

FANTASY FOOTBALL BREAKING NEWS: JASON GARRETT TO BE FIRED IF COWBOYS MISS PLAYOFFS

                                           

According to ESPN's Ed Werder, Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett will be fired if the team fails to make the playoffs.  Earlier owner Jerry Jones said Garrett would be coming back next season but recent chatter has the opposite happening if the Cowboys don't clinch.

Analysis:  Makes total sense.  Garrett is the classic nice guy who can't coach a team over the hump.  The Cowboys need some serious butt kicking when it comes to their next coach but the giant presence of Jones has stopped many coaches from taking the job. 

FANTASY FOOTBALL BREAKING NEWS: LIONS TE BRANDON PETTIGREW OUT SUNDAY WITH ANKLE INJURY

                                          

Detroit Lions tight end Brandon Pettigrew has been ruled out for Sunday's game against the New York Giants with an ankle injury.  The TD-happy Joseph Fauria will start in his place.

Analysis:  Nothing major here as Pettigrew has been a borderline tight end option in fantasy football.  Fauria hs a nose for the end zone so he is worth a look if you are desperate. 

FANTASY FOOTBALL BREAKING NEWS: CARDS WR LARRY FITZGERALD (CONCUSSION) TO START SUNDAY

                                          

Arizona Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald will start Sunday after passing the NFL protocols for concussions. 

Analysis:  This is what was expected all along as Fitzgerald quickly felt better after last week's concussion.  Fitzgerald has been very productive the last month-plus and the Cardinals will air it out given that is the team's strength and they need the victory. 

FANTASY FOOTBALL BREAKING NEWS: HEAVY SNOW FOR GREEN BAY/PITTSBURGH

There is heavy snow in the forecast for Sunday's game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Green Bay Packers.  Snow is already falling in Green Bay heavily and will continue through the game with winds gusting to around 35 mph. 

Analysis:  I already benched Ben Roethlisberger for Matthew Stafford in my consolation game in the Experts League.  All receivers in this one have to be looked at warily, whereas the running games could put up some big numbers do to massive opportunity. 

FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEK 16 TIGHT END RANKINGS

Here are the fantasy football Week 16 tight end rankings based on opposing matchups.

1.  Jimmy Graham
2.  Julius Thomas
3.  Jason Witten
4.  Delanie Walker
5.  Vernon Davis
6.  Charles Clay
7.  Greg Olsen
8.  Tony Gonzalez
9.  Martellus Bennett
10. Heath Miller
11. Zach Miller
12. Antonio Gates
13. Coby Fleener
14. Ryan Griffin
15. Tim Wright
16. Andrew Quarless
17. Zach Ertz
18. Scott Chandler
19. Tyler Eifert
20. Jared Cook
21. Marecedes Lewis
22. Brandon Myers
23. Brandon Pettigrew


FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEK 16 WIDE RECEIVER RANKINGS

Here are the fantasy football Week 16 wide receiver rankings based on opposing matchups.

1.  Calvin Johnson
2.  Josh Gordon
3.  A.J. Green
4.  Dez Bryant
5.  Brandon Marshall
6.  Alshon Jeffery
7.  Demaryuis Thomas
8.  Antonio Brown
9.  Julian Edelman
10. Keenan Allen
11. Pierre Garcon
12. Jordy Nelson
13. DeSean Jackson
14. Andre Johnson
15. Eric Decker
16. Torrey Smith
17. Danny Amendola
18. Mike Wallace
19. Michael Crabtree
20. Roddy White
21. Marques Colston
22. Rod Streator
23. Larry Fitzgerald
24. Vincent Jackson
25. Steve Smith
26. T.Y. Hilton
27. Anquan Boldin
28. Riley Cooper
29. Dwayne Bowe
30. James Jones
31. Reuben Randle
32. Brian Hartline
33. Hakeem Nicks
34. Harry Douglas
35. Emmanuel Sanders
36. Doug Baldwin
37. Jarrett Boykin
38. Greg Jennings
39. Golden Tate
40. Cordarelle Patterson