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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

FANTASY FOOTBALL NEWS: DOUG MARRONE OPTS OUT OF BUFFALO CONTRACT

Buffalo Bills head coach Doug Marrone opted out of his contract via the three-day window in the language of the agreement, thus becoming a coaching free agent amidst five other openings around the league.  Marrone apparently was shocked about the retirement of QB Kyle Orton and decided that the team is going in the wrong direction at the most important position on the field. 

Analysis:  Wow.  The coaching carousel is in overdrive right now as the Bills join the Jets, Falcons, 49ers, Raiders, and Bears with openings.  Should be interesting. 

FANTASY BASEBALL TRADE FALLOUT: MARLON BYRD DEALT TO CINCINNATI

The Philadelphia Phillies continues with their efforts to trade anything that is not nailed down Wednesday as they made if official with the Cincinnati Reds moving outfielder Marlon Byrd to their organization for prospect Ben Lively.  Byrd is entering the second year of a two-year deal he had signed with the Phillies and comes off a very solid 2014 campaign when he hit 25 home runs and collected 85 RBI while batting .264.  For Byrd, he gets to continue on hitting in a home run ballpark in Cincinnati and this gets to hold onto his solid outfielder 3 fantasy baseball status.  Over the last two seasons, Byrd has hit 24 and 25 home runs while driving in 88 and 85 batters.  A late-blooming player who was almost completely out of baseball before the New York Mets took a cheap flier prior to 2013, Byrd is a guy who supplies the most rare commodity in the game today which is home runs.  Despite his past PED suspension and questions about how he is all of a sudden doing all of this home run hitting at the age of 37, Byrd should still be respected again as an outfielder 3 whose annually cheap draft price makes him a very good investment.  We would delve in again here given the cost and the power return for at least another season. 

 

2015 FANTASY BASEBALL PLAYER ANALYZER: ADRIAN BELTRE 3B TEXAS RANGERS

                                            Adrián Béltre

Over the last five-plus years or so, the third base spot in fantasy baseball has challenged shortstop as one of the most aggravating positions in the game.  With depth not great to begin with there, the massive amount of injuries that have taken out big-name players here during that time span left many an owner scrambling.  Mention the names Alex Rodriguez, Kevin Youkilis, Brett Lawrie, Aramis Ramirez, David Wright, Pablo Sandoval, and Evan Longoria and we all can shake our heads at he past carnage they caused due to all their missed games.  Thus finding durability and stability here has always been a challenge which is why those who owned Adrian Beltre during that span had to be thanking their good fortune.  The perennial Texas Rangers All-Star has been a near-first round producer with his .300 average and well above average power at the hot corner.  As we move towards the 2015 season however, Beltre is beginning to reach a critical point in his career as he turns 35.  For all the durability Beltre has shown, he did have a DL stint in 2014 that pushed his at-bat total below 600 to 549.  At his advanced age, one has to wonder if there is more of that on the way.  Still despite the missed games, Beltre put up a top-notch .324 average to go with 19 home runs and 77 RBI.  The latter two were down a bit from his norms as well however which could be an indication that age is also robbing Beltre of some of his numbers which we will get into.  So with that said let's dig in a bit further and see what Beltre will provide his owners this season.

Stating the obvious, Beltre moving away from Seattle after he signed that foolish contract after his MVP-like 2004 season with the Los Angeles Dodgers (48 home runs) was the key to reestablishing himself once again as a premier slugger.  First with Boston and than over the last four years with the Rangers, Beltre's home run, RBI, and average has read like the following:

2010:  28 HR/102 RBI/.321
2011:  32 HR/105 RBI/.296
2012:  36 HR/102 RBI/.321
2013:  30 HR/92 RBI/.315
2014:  24 HR/77 RBI/.324

Those numbers above are immense no matter the position.  Beltre has knocked on the door to first round status during that time span and prior to 2014 he actually averaged the back end of the inaugural round which was well-deserved.  However the missed time and the dip in the home runs/RBI in 2014 have to give us just a little bit of pause.  Yes Beltre still batted .324 which shows that his batting eye and swing are still in top working order.  However even without the injury Beltre's power numbers were going to be down as one has to wonder about the effects of age.  35 is getting up there for any player and the wear and tear of manning such an intense position like third base could help accelerate that fade.  We are not saying Beltre will fall on his face this season but his injury risk is now at its highest point in his career.  The missed games obviously take a bite out of counting stats, as do lingering ailments that could inhibit his swing.  Thus you have to be a bit careful in not reaching too high for Beltre this season.

When you break it all down, Adrian Beltre remains a top-three fantasy baseball third baseman who still commands a high price on draft day.  We would gladly cut the check if we can get our hands on Beltre towards the end of round 2 but anything before that means you got to take on some sizable risk.  Of course Beltre is very capable of making that worry moot if he does stay healthy since he still does his work in a bandbox in Texas but again you want to be leery about investing in players who are older than 33.  Be cautious. 

2015 PROJECTION:  .311 25 HR 95 RBI 84 RBI 2 SB

 
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2015 FANTASY SPORTS BOSS FANTASY BASEBALL DRAFT GUIDE SECOND BASEMAN EXCERPT

We continue to head towards the 2015 fantasy baseball season and that means those who haven't purchased either edition of our draft guide should do so immediately.  Use the BUY NOW tab at the bottom of this post to purchase.  Below is a sample excerpt of our second baseman section: 

SECOND BASEMAN


 

Draft Strategy:  When it comes to formulating a balanced roster, we historically like to group our second baseman and shortstops together in a quest for runs and stolen bases.  While your first and third baseman should be supplying a large chunk of your power numbers, your middle infielders need to possess some speed and stolen base prowess in order to keep your team at optimum efficiency.  As far as second baseman specifically are concerned, this is a very top-heavy group that saw some big names go bust in 2014.  Of course I am primarily indicting Dustin Pedroia and Jason Kipnis who both came in well below what was expected from them stat-wise, while trusting in the always fragile Ian Kinsler is never a comforting thought.  Robinson Cano meanwhile remains a late first round pick, as he has been since becoming a regular for the New York Yankees.  Even after moving to the Seattle Mariners prior to last season, Cano offset a predicted drop in power by upping his batting average to its highest mark in his career. 

We will remain consistent however in advising you to stay away from drafting Cano in Round 1, despite the instant advantage he gives you over the rest of your league at that shallow position.  You ideally want to use your first two picks to get a slugging first baseman and a stud outfielder and that shouldn’t change.  Sort of along the lines of your catcher, you want to go value at second base in the middle rounds of your draft.  A year ago that player was Jose Altuve who became somewhat of a forgotten man prior to 2014 and as a result dropped in drafts despite very good speed and a solid bat.  Fast forward a year later and Altuve comes off a monster season when he was in contention for the batting and swiped a career-high total of 56 bases.  We will go with that strategy again for 2015 as there are some names of interest that can exceed their expected draft position as Altuve did a year ago. 

 

1.     Robinson Cano:  We all knew Robinson Cano moving from Yankee Stadium to Safeco Field would adversely impact his power numbers and that is exactly what happened as the perennial number 1 fantasy baseball second baseman went for only 14 home runs and 82 RBI.  Still despite the drop in those two statistics, Cano continued to show that he remained one of the best pure hitters in the game as he challenged for the AL batting title for a chunk of the season with his .314 average.  The ballpark and lack of lineup protection may keep Cano from 20-plus home runs and 90 RBI again but he remains flat in his prime with guaranteed solid to very good production across four different categories.  Still we think Cano should fall out of Round 1 for the first time since graduating into a regular as his overall numbers don’t warrant him being one of the top 12 guys off the board.
PROJECTION:  .315 19 HR 88 RBI 82 R 8 SB

2.     Anthony Rendon:  It took Washington Nationals second baseman Anthony Rendon all of a season-and-a-half to cement his status as the best at his position outside of Robinson Cano.  Quite frankly there are a lot of similarities between the two as both came up the minor league ladder with MLB-ready bats that sprayed line drills all over the field and with burgeoning power.  Rendon already had the .300 average swing down pat as he made his way to the Nationals but it was expected he would need a couple of seasons before he tapped into his power after he hit only 7 home in his 351 at-bat debut in 2013.  Well Rendon would have none of it as he smacked 21 homers and drove in 83, while also scoring a massive 111 runs last season in a major breakout campaign.  The .287 average was typical and even a bit below where Rendon should be going forward.  The most pleasant surprise might have been the 17 steals Rendon collected and it was his performance there when combined with the home run advancement that put the new Nationals star into top tier status.  At only 25, there is still some more growth seasons left or Rendon which is telling considering how good he already is.  The sky is the limit.

PROJECTION:  .302 23 HR 88 RBI 107 R 16 SB

 3.  Jose Altuve:*******THE REST OF THIS FEATURE IS FOR DRAFT GUIDE PURCHASERS.  USE THE BUY NOW TAB BELOW TO GET YOUR COPY.*****
 
 
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Tuesday, December 30, 2014

2014 FANTASY FOOTBALL FINAL RUNNING BACK RANKINGS

We move onto the final 2014 fantasy football running back rankings which will likely same close to the same as 2015 training camp nears.

1.  DeMarco Murray:  The only knock on Murray was his previous inability to stay healthy but he finally gutted through 16 games in 2014 with spectacular results as he rushed for 1,845 yards and 13 touchdowns.  Murray also was a gem in the passing games in catching 57 passes.  There is nothing the guy can't do but counting on two straight 16-game seasons in 2015 might be stretching things a bit.  You will be buying very high.
2.  Le'Veon Bell:  Even including Murray, no running back was more productive the last two months of the season than Le'Veon Bell.  Bell trailed only Matt Forte in receptions with 83 and also rushed for 1,361 yards as he made irrelevant all the earlier talk of LeGarrette Blount taking work away.  Here to stay as a top-3 pick.
3.  Matt Forte:  Caught a crazy 102 passes last season as Forte is the supreme pass-receiving back in the NFL.  Unfortunately the rushing game fell a bit short as he picked up only 1,038 yards and 6 scores.  That was more a result of the Bears having to come from behind with the passing game often last season so don't knock Forte too much.  He is inching up there in age however. 
4.  LeSean McCoy:  Rushing average dropped almost a full yard as McCoy's ridiculous workload in 2013 came back to bite him.  Also McCoy caught only 28 passes which took some bite out of his PPR value.  There has been a ton of work on this slight back's legs the last two seasons so tread carefully.
5.  Jamaal Charles:  Barely squeaked past 1,000 rushing yards and the development of Knile Davis stole some of Charles' thunder.  A drop to only 40 receptions was also disappointing.  Unlike McCoy however, Charles has not been overworked so he could easily bounce back to top tier status.
6.  Eddie Lacy:  The numbers were there at the end but Lacy's 2014 season was frustrating at times due to injury and some ugly games.  The power back continues to carry some durability concerns and 8 rushing touchdowns was a disappointment but Lacy's presence in a monstrous Green Bay offense keeps him as a clear RB 1.
7.  Jeremy Hill:  Always favor youth at running back which is why power back Hill should be ranked ahead of Marshawn Lynch and Arian Foster.  The Bengals clearly have their main back as the rookie out of LSU rumbled for 1,124 yards and 9 scores despite not getting a lot of work early on. 
8.  Justin Forsett:  The best value of all running backs in 2014, Forsett worked from behind Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce to storm the NFL with some ridiculous games the second half of the season on the way to 1,266 yards and 8 touchdowns while also chipping in with 44 catches.  Replicating that performance in 2015 might be tough but Forsett has clearly earned the starting role in a run-heavy offense.
9.  Marshawn Lynch:  Won't be back with Seattle but just when we were ready to write him off, Lynch had a top five running back season as he continues to run with unmatched power.  The wheels remain a threat to come off at a moment's notice. 
10. Arian Foster:  Told you all to buy low on Foster this season and that helped me get to the Experts League finals as the Houston Texans veteran was better than any other runner not named DeMarco Murray or Le'Veon Bell this season.  Foster is now turning 28 though and still fought through numerous injuries that cost him two games.  Am moving away now for 2015. 
11. Adrian Peterson:  50/50 whether or not Adrian Peterson returns to Minnesota as he could end up anywhere if cut loose.  Matt Asiata and Jerick McKinnon would split work again if that does take place. 
12. C.J. Anderson:  There is no doubt Anderson was possibly the biggest pickup in November who ended up on more than a few winning rosters.  However we won't dive fully in yet due to the ongoing fluidity of the Denver backfield.  Keep in mind that both Montee Ball and Ronnie Hillman are still in the picture.
13. Lamar Miller:  Earned the clear starting running back spot for the Miami Dolphins with very solid running down the stretch of the season.  Also chipped in a decent 38 catches. 
14. Andre Ellington:  The ability is not in question here as Ellington is a running/receiving dynamo.  Health is however as Ellington couldn't hold up under all the extra carries in 2014.  Something to watch.
15. Mark Ingram:  Had his best season by far in 2014 as Ingram finally unleashed his power running and developed some decent receiving skills.  Could have priced himself out of New Orleans though. 
16. Joique Bell:  Reggie Bush looks shot and Bell was every bit a useful high-end RB 2 the second half of 2014. 
17. Alfred Morris:  Obviously you knock Morris down a bit in PPR formats as he is useless catching passes but he remains in his prime as a solid power runner. 
18. Jonathan Stewart:  Like in Detroit, Jonathan Stewart seems to have finally nudged out a veteran runner in DeAngelo Williams.  Was terrific the second half of 2014 once he got healthy. 
19. Tre Mason:  Receiving could use some work but the big-play Mason quickly made us all forget Zac Stacy. 
20. Frank Gore:  The ageless veteran keeps on going but the show has to end soon for Frank Gore. 
21. Rashad Jennings:  Tough to figure how the New York Giants workload shapes up next season as Jennings was good when he played but rookie Andre Williams did more than enough to justify inclusion. 
22. Andre Williams:  See above.
23. Chris Ivory:  Look for the Jets to cut Chris Johnson which means Chris Ivory will get the lion's share of the work in a power-back mode. 
24. Terrance West:  Could be Isaiah Crowell or West getting the bulk of the work in 2015 or they could split.  Remains a tough situation to predict. 
25. Latavius Murray:  Has big-time speed and has solid receiving ability.  Murray should be a decent sleeper given the opportunity at hand for him next season.
26. Denard Robinson:  Like with Andre Ellington, Robinson is a very good runner who may not be able to withstand a full workload. 
27. Ryan Matthews:  The guy can't ever stay healthy which is the story of his career.  Has allowed Branden Oliver to be a factor for 2015.
28. Doug Martin:  Finished 2014 strong but Martin has been a bust for two seasons now.  Needs a new home to possibly unleash his rookie ability. 
29. Devonta Freeman:  Look for Freeman to get a shot at the starting spot as the Atlanta Falcons will likely cut loose the finished Steven Jackson. 
30. C.J. Spiller:  We can't ever figure out the riddle that is C.J. Spiller so good luck trying. 
31. Bishop Sankey:  Was not impressed at all but the Tennessee Titans rookie.  Usually a first-year back shows right away what they can do and Sankey failed to who us much of anything. 
32. Ahmad Bradshaw:  Will get a crack to resume his main role in the Indianapolis Colts offense next season but Trent Richardson and Daniel Herron remain. 
33. Shane Vereen:  Use only in PPR formats as Stevan Ridley should be back to reprise main running responsibilities. 
34. Stevan Ridley:  See above.
35. Darren Sproles:  Just for PPR leagues only as Sproles is not used as much as a runner in the Eagles offense.



 

FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: ASDRUBAL CABRERA INKS ONE-YEAR DEAL WITH RAYS

                                          

The Tampa Bay Rays signed free agent SS Asdrubal Cabrera to a one-year contract according to multiple reports.  Cabrera languished on the market as he came off a poor 2014 season offensively and also is showing increasingly poor defensive range. 

Analysis:  Cabrera is a backup fantasy baseball shortstop at best or at the very bottom of 12-team starting formats.  He once carried very solid power/speed ability but Cabrera has not hit much at all the last few seasons. 

 

FANTASY FOOTBALL BREAKING NEWS: JOSH GORDON WON'T RETURN TO BROWNS, KIRK COUSINS COULD START IN 2015

                                            

According to multiple team reports, the Cleveland Browns will not bring back WR Josh Gordon and are planning to target Kirk Cousins as a possible starting QB option for 2015.  Cleveland ownership was admittedly embarrassed about the off-the-field antics of Gordon and QB Johnny Manziel and have vowed to clean up the organization as a result. 

Analysis:  Getting Cousins doesn't figure to cost much as Robert Griffin III will be the starter for the Washington Redskins next season.  The real intrigue is what this does for Manziel as the Browns already seem to be tired of his act.  Meanwhile Gordon figures to cash in on the market, with perhaps the New England Patriots or Seattle Seahawks taking interest. 

 

Monday, December 29, 2014

2015 FANTASY BASEBALL DRAFT SLEEPER: RUSNEY CASTILLO OUTFIELDER BOSTON RED SOX

It used to be about ten years ago or so that the Japanese import was the most coveted major league baseball import after the smashing and instant success of Hideo Nomo with the Los Angeles Dodgers.  Nomo would be joined by some other solid Far East arrivals such as Hideki Matusi, Kasuhiro Sasaki, Hisashi Iwakuma, and of course Masahiro Tanaka as guys who hit the ground running both in real and fantasy baseball.  Those success stories also included some catastrophic busts such as Hideki Irabu and Kas Matsui, so it wasn't all good when it came to the Japanese fraternity.  While the talent from Japan is still very much respected, the recent revolution of Cuban arrivals has completely taken over the international scene in baseball.  The recent arrivals of both pitchers and hitters from our neighbors to the south has been incredible and reads like an All-Star game roster.  Consider some of these names that are already among the biggest starts of the game:  Jose Fernandez, Yasiel Puig, Aroldis Chapman, Yoenis Cespedes, and Jose Abreu.  It is the incredible amount of success that these arrivals have made on the game that have turned any other defection into must-watch news.  Which of course brings is to our latest 2015 Draft Sleeper of Cuban descent, one Rusney Castillo from the Boston Red Sox.  Castillo arrived on the scene in the middle of the 2014 season after inking a free agent deal with the Red Sox and he was able to come up for a cup of coffee in September where he instantly showed off some tremendous natural tools that have many predicting he will be the next star from the country.  So with all that said, let's take another look at Castillo's debut and move ahead in trying to see where all of this will lead in 2015 fantasy baseball.

First let's get to the small sample size of numbers which Castillo put up at the end of 2014.

.333
2 HR
6 RBI
6 R
3 SB in only 36 at-bats

Again very small sample size but right away we can see that Castillo has the running game down pat with the steals and he showed some thump with the two home runs.  It was Castillo's power/speed combination that many compared to Puig that got him noticed in the first place.  Of course we have to remember that like Puig, Castillo is young as he turns only 28 this July and his past level of competition in Cuba leaves a lot to be desired.  However that didn't prevent Puig, Cespedes, and Abreu from instantly tearing up major league pitching upon their debut so we can't judge him too harshly on that anyway.  What we can do is again look at the tools that Castillo brings to be table which is highlighted by his speed among everything else.  Right out of the gate Castillo could steal 30 bases as he is very aggressive on the basepaths and the Red Sox have always preached that part of the game.  What is up for debate is how much power Castillo will hit for as he is not considered to be in Abreu's of Cespedes' class there.  Puig hit only 16 home runs last season and that seems like the most optimistic number to project for Castillo due to his somewhat slight frame.  Castillo doesn't possess natural power and thus has to really get into one to smash one out.  However Fenway Park will help with the maturation there which means the best bet is to expect 10-12 and be happy with anything more. 

As far as the rest of the stats are concerned, Castillo's spot in the lineup is not known at the present time which will determine how many runs and RBI he collects.  Figure on Castillo starting off in the seventh spot which means 80 runs and 70 RBI seem about right to go with the steals.  Also Castillo just finished off hitting a scorching hot .405 in his 10-game Winter League slate with a home run and two steals so he knows how to handle the bat with regard to his batting average.  .300 is very possible given what we have thus far seen. 

When you put it all together, Rusney Castillo is going to be a fiercely fought over draft sleeper this season.  The fact he is Cuban, plays for the Red Sox of all teams, and has power/speed potential is likely to put his draft stock in the pricy range.  That means there will be some bust potential since Castillo is still an unproven player but his tools are too good to think that will completely happen.  We like him very much and would green light a reach here over almost any other sleeper this season.

2015 PROJECTION:  .297 14 HR 73 RBI 86 R 26 SB

 
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2015 FANTASY BASEBALL DRAFT BUST: TROY TULOWITZKI SS COLORADO ROCKIES

Sometimes certain players become fixtures on our annual Draft Bust lists.  Think of Jose Reyes or Nelson Cruz.  Or today's subject, Colorado Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki.  Undeniably the most talented offensive shortstop in baseball, Tulowitzki has been a first round fixture ever since his 2007 breakout when he clubbed 24 home runs and batted .291 at the ripe old age of 22.  Since that time, Tulowitzki has put up some monster numbers on an annual basis, with the highlight being his ridiculous 2009 campaign when he hit 32 home runs with 92 RBI and 20 stolen bases while batting .297.  While it is common knowledge that Coors Field played a big role in Tulo's ascent to one of the best players in the game, there is a dark side behind all of those offensive numbers.  I am referring of course to Tulowitzki's penchant for injury and his beyond cemented annual DL stints.  Tulowitzki has now gone seven straight seasons and counting with at least one stint on the DL and all of those missed games have put a major crimp into his fantasy baseball owners' plans to win their leagues.  2014 was no different as Tulowitzki went to the extreme on both fronts.  His first half performance was MVP-worthy as he batted .345 with 21 home runs and 52 RBI in only 310 at-bats.  Those who bit the bullet in drafting Tulowitzki with the hope that maybe this was finally the year he would stay healthy, seemed to have hit a colossal home run.  However staying true to form, Tulowitzki quickly hit the DL at the start of the second half of the season and never returned as he succumbed to a serious hip surgery that was the same one that has destroyed the career of New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez.  As of this writing, Tulowitzki has still not been cleared for baseball activities which hasn't stopped the trade rumor from swirling, so potent does his bat remain.  However with all that said, let's dig in a bit deeper here in order to unearth what Tulowitzki currently is as a player and figure out how sizable the risk of investing here stands.

First let's begin with the surgery.  As I already noted, the hip procedure Tulowitzki underwent is a major one and there has been more than a few whispers that he will not come back as the same player because of it.  This is not just simple conjecture either as it makes complete sense.  The hips are what gives a batter the torque to slam into a baseball and drive it with power.  Any compromise there will no doubt inhibit the power game as we have seen out of Rodriguez.  That doesn't even take into account the fact Tulowitzki has also had a ton of lower body and leg injuries that are not even connected to the hip which makes him quite possibly the biggest injury risk in the game.  In addition, Tulowitzki's draft price has not dropped much at all despite all the missed time as his first half hitting bonanza keeps the thought in prospective owners' minds of how awesome an offensive player he can be.  When you factor in that Tulowitzki is a shortstop which his incredibly shallow, the hype grows even more crazy.  Now of course I am no doctor but the science here is tough to refute.  The fact Tulowitzki has also not been cleared for baseball activities is also telling how invasive the surgery was.  That alone makes him a ridiculous risk.

The second part of this that needs to be watched are the trade rumors which have picked up in intensity lately.  The New York Mets continue to be linked here as they are willing to surrender top pitching prospect Noah Syndegaard in a deal which was first reported by our own Michael Wong months ago before ESPN and the other outlets got to it.  We all know that much of Tulowitzki's offensive haul has come at home and if he moves to a pitching paradise like in Citi Field with the Mets, that could take a huge bite out of his statistics.  Take a look at these career splits for Tulowitzki.

CAREER AT HOME:  .323 99 HR 349 RBI 346 R

CAREER ON ROAD:  .274 77 HR 255 RBI 268 R

Those splits are stark as Tulo has gone for almost 50 fewer RBI, runs, and .50 on his batting average on the road.  Again if a trade if made, Tulo will get hurt big time with his statistics. 

Now getting back to the numbers, if Tulowitzki does stay in Colorado, the numbers will be immense on a per game basis when healthy.  While Tulowitzki no longer is a five-tool guy as his speed is completely shot, he remains a monster four category producer in runs, RBI, average, and home runs while wearing a Rockies uniform. 

In looking at the total package here, Troy Tulowitzki is a guy I would avoid at all costs.  You already know going in that he will miss games and likely more than a few.  Hanley Ramirez is the much better investment as he moves to a prime hitting ballpark in Boston with the Red Sox and he stands a much better chance of returning numbers over a whole season than does his counterpart.  The drat price is just too high to recommend an investment considering all the blaring red flags surround his name.

2015 PROJECTION:  .307 23 HR 82 RBI 88 R 4 SB

 
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2014 FANTASY FOOTBALL FINAL QB RANKINGS

Here are the final rankings for 2014 fantasy football starting with the quarterbacks.  Consider this list a good early primer for 2015 as well.

1.  Aaron Rodgers:  Tough call versus Andrew Luck but Rodgers has done it at a higher level for longer. 
2.  Andrew Luck:  Led the NFL in touchdown throws with 40 and has turned into the first round star we said he would be.  Can even get better for 2015 but the Colts need to address their offensive line.
3.  Peyton Manning:  We all knew Manning was not going to come close to his ridiculous 2013 but 39 touchdowns was a terrific tally regardless.  Will return to a loaded offense but second half semi-fade at least a reminder of his age.
4.  Drew Brees:  The yardage remains at an insane level but Brees has now seen his TD total decline for the fourth straight year.  Still love him but at least a bit of shine is wearing away due to age.
5.  Ben Roethlisberger:  Two blockbuster seasons in a row have Big Ben at his highest ever ranking which he has done more than earn.  The Steelers are a passing offense now that is here to stay.  Buy into the numbers and ignore the early career mediocre TD totals.
6.  Tony Romo:  Been saying it for years on record that Romo is criminally underrated as he showed again in 2014 with 34 touchdown passes while playing with two broken bones in his back.  The only knock is a lower yardage total than the guys around him due to renewed emphasis on the Dallas running game.  The bias against Romo is still so strong that he likely will be a value play again next season.
7.  Tom Brady:  Aging like a fine wine.  After Week 4 we all indulged in some "he is fading" talk but from that point on Brady was the third-best producing QB in the game from a points perspective.  38 is a scary age but Peyton Manning is also still going very strong which lessens the risk a bit.  Also Brady doesn't have the surgeries Manning has so don't let him slip to far due to his birth certificate.
8.  Matt Ryan:  Yeah I like him more than most but deservedly so.  28 touchdown passes behind arguably the worst offensive line in the game showed that Ryan was quietly terrific.  Roddy White could be at the end of the road here so the Falcons have to re-tool the offense a bit.
9.  Philip Rivers:  Durable as they come and Rivers has back-to-back 30-plus campaigns in the bank.  The numbers are always there and the price remains attractive relative to others surrounding him.
10. Eli Manning:  The West Coast offense was a smashing success for Manning as he had arguably his best season with 30 touchdowns and 4,410 yards.  Better yet, the historically turnover-prone Manning tossed only 14 interceptions.  Will throw to Victor Cruz, Odell Bekcham Jr., Reuben Randle, and Larry Donnell in 2015.  Could be the steal of the QB class next season.
11. Russell Wilson:  Not my kind of guy as Wilson only threw 20 touchdowns behind this very intense run-heavy offense.  Still Wilson makes up for some of the low scores with terrific running so look at the big picture.
12. Ryan Tannehill:  I called a career-year for Tannehill in 2014 and delivered with 27 touchdown throws and only 12 interceptions.  A shot at 30 is not out of the question for 2015 and the draft price will be sweet.  The guy you grab when you really wait to draft your QB.
13. Matthew Stafford:  For the second season in a row, Stafford came up small in December which makes him a firm representative on my "Do Not Draft" list.  If you can't depend on Stafford to clinch a title for you, there is no reason to look here.
14. Nick Foles:  I think Foles is back under center for the Philadelphia Eagles next season as Mark Sanchez proved he was not the answer.  Still Foles was pretty erratic before getting hurt last season, averaging only 6.0 yards per pass and greatly spiking his turnovers.  Was a colossal bust in 2014 but the loaded Eagles offense and dirt cheap price at least make him a smart backup play.
15. Joe Flacco:  Again not my kind of guy as Flacco is a better real-life QB than a fantasy football one due to some low TD totals.  Still he did toss 25 last season as the Ravens relied on the pass more.  Best left as a QB 2 for those that take part in two-passer leagues.
16. Jay Cutler:  What is crazy here is that Cutler statistically had his best ever season in 2014 with 28 touchdowns before getting benched for Casey Clausen of all people.  Not expected back in Chicago, Cutler's value depends on where he lands.  You don't want to depend on him as your starter however.
17. Teddy Bridgewater:  Was the best producing rookie QB as we said he would be (those who purchased our NFL DRAFT guide remember we had him as the number 1 ranked QB in the draft over Johnny Manziel and Blake Bortles).  Very poised and accurate QB who can help with his feet.  Upward we go.
18. Derek Carr:  It was shaky at times but overall I like what I saw out of Derek Carr as a rookie.  Strong-armed kid who managed 21 touchdowns in a putrid offense with only 12 interceptions.  Use only in two-QB leagues.
19. Cam Newton:  I know I will have him ranked much lower than other publications but I don't care.  The numbers don't lie and they show only 18 touchdown throws and 12 picks for a pathetic 3,127 yards.  The read option is defeated. 
20. Andy Dalton:  The arrival of Hue Jackson and his run-loving ways destroyed the value of Andy Dalton as we thought it would.  Now only in second QB territory. 
21. Mark Sanchez:  This is me thinking Sanchez will find a starting spot somewhere.  He played very well at times for the Eagles but his career penchant for turnovers ruins him in fantasy football.
22. Alex Smith:  The epitome of the second QB in two-passer formats.
23. Colin Kaepernick:  Looked like absolute garbage for most of 2014 as he becomes another read option victim.  New QB in San Francisco has his work cut out for him.
24. Blake Bortles:  Was pretty awful at times for the Jacksonville Jaguars but Bortles should be given another season to see what he can do. 
25. Johnny Manziel:  Will get the chance to show his terrible debut in limited action was not a trend.  Not holding my breath.

There you have it.  Let us hear your thoughts.

 

Sunday, December 28, 2014

2015 FANTASY BASEBALL SHORTSTOP RANKINGS: A FIRST LOOK

Here are the 2015 fantasy baseball shortstop rankings based on the first look of the new season.

1.  Hanley Ramirez:  Love the move to Boston as Ramirez gets to hit in a prime power park for the first time in his career.  While his 30-steal days are finished, Ramirez could have his best season in awhile aiming at the short Fenway Park fences.
2.  Troy Tulowitzki:  I wouldn't go near Tulo this season and this from a guy who owned him during his first half MVP run of 2014.  The hip surgery Tulo had was very invasive and serious and could be a major problem for his power.  With his speed already shot and his body as fragile as ever, Tulo is a bust waiting to happen.
3.  Ian Desmond:  Desmond is among the most underappreciated players in fantasy baseball as he has logged three straight 20/20 campaigns.  The best part is that Desmond has incredible durability that the top two guys don't have.  Give me that every time.
4.  Jose Reyes:  Yeah he hit the DL before the opener was finished but once back on the field, Reyes had a terrific season.  Reyes stole 30 bases which shows his speed is still there but obviously not anywhere near his old 50-plus form.  Now turning 32, Reyes remains a major injury risk and he could lose some more steals.  Tread carefully.
5.  Starlin Castro:  Solid comeback season for Castro in 2014 as he hit 14 home runs while batting .292.  It is incredible to think Castro is still only 25 as he has another year or two of growth left.  He is not likely to be the star we thought he would be when he debuted but Castro burned enough people along the way to retain some solid draft prices.
6. Alexei Ramirez:  Has been the rare player to figure out how to steal bases past the age of 30 and Ramirez even had one of his better power seasons in 2014 despite getting close to his mid-30's.  A falloff could come quickly but Ramirez has shown himself to be a solid contributor across the board.
7.  Elvis Andrus:  Remains very overrated as Andrus really only helps in runs and steals for a guy who gets drafted in the high mid-rounds.  You can do so much better.
8.  Jimmy Rollins:  Have to knock Rollins down a peg or two after getting traded from the Phillies to the Dodgers and their big pitching ballpark.  Rollins needed to remain in Philly in order to keep the home runs a decent part of his game but that will be a big question mark in his new home.  Still every time we try to doubt the guy, he continues to produce in runs, home runs, and steals.  Aging very well except for the average which continues to be putrid.
9.  Javier Baez:  Likely to be the first baseman for the Cubs with Starlin Castro manning shortstop.  Has immense potential but Baez could struggle to bat .250 with all those K's.
10. Danny Santana:  One of my new favorites, Santana is already a plus in steals, runs, and average and can even pop the odd homer.
11. Alicides Escobar:  Late-bloomer who has averaged 25 steals the last four seasons.  This is a speed asset all the way and one who will only repeat and not improve on his numbers.
12. Jhonny Peralta:  Not my cup of tea and shouldn't be yours either as you want steals from your shortstop which Peralta doesn't supply.
13. Mookie Betts:  Hope he finds a spot to play as Betts has some monstrous potential  Retains shortstop eligibility for another season.
14. Ben Zobrist:  Still qualifies at three spots which is now his best attribute as Zobrist's numbers are staring to slip some.
15. J.J. Hardy:  Power was mysteriously out to lunch last season but Hardy has a new deal which should help him get back to the 20-home run mark.
16. Joe Panik:  Squarely on the radar after his big postseason, Panik has a .300 bat but lacks so far in the power/steals area.
17. Xander Bogaerts:  Will still be given the shortstop spot after Hanley Ramirez moves to the outfield but Bogaerts was an empty bat last season that has to show some signs in 2015.
18. Danny Espinosa:  Still has the power/speed part down pat but Espinosa is a sizable average liability. 
19. Didi Gregorious:  Always interesting when a hitter moves to Yankee Stadium but Gregorious is already going to sit against lefties which limits the upside to his speed and developing power. 
20. Jed Lowrie:  Signe by the Astros to bring his boring 15-homer pop and constant injuries. 
21. Jean Segura:  Went completely bust last season on the heels of his awful finish to the year prior.  Starting to look like a guy who opposing pitchers figured out.  Has tons of work to do to reclaim even some value. 
22. Brad Miller:  The bat is better than he showed in his awful 2014 campaign but getting out of Seattle would help.
23. Asdrubal Cabrera:  Fact he remains unsigned as of this writing tells you all you need to know about his mediocre skills. 
24. Erick Aybar:  Has been a steady performer across the board for years but Aybar is one big yawn to own. 
25. Wilmer Flores:  A last round lotto ticket worth checking out as Flores can hit for solid power and has shown a knack for collecting RBI.

There you have it.  Let us hear your thoughts. 


 

Saturday, December 27, 2014

2014 FANTASY FOOTBALL YEAR END SEASON BUST TEAM

The flip side to our annual fantasy football Pro Bowl roster is our BUST team which is filled with guys who severely let down their owners over the last four months.  Let us begin.

QB

Matthew Stafford-Colin Kaepernick-Nick Foles (Honorable Mention:  Andy Dalton-Cam Newton-Robert Griffin III)

RB

Montee Ball-Toby Gerhart-Zac Stacy (Honorable Mention:  Andre Ellington-Doug Martin-Giovani Bernard)

WR

Victor Cruz-Wes Welker-Vincent Jackson-Cordarelle Patterson (Honorable Mention:  Calvin Johnson-Pierre Garcon-Michael Crabtree-Brandin Cooks)

TE

Vernon Davis-Dennis Pitta (Honorable Mention:  Zach Ertz-Kyle Rudolph)

DEF

Carolina-New Orleans (Honorable Mention:  Baltimore-San Francisco)

K

Matt Prater (Honorable Mention:  Alex Henery)

There you have it.  Let us hear your thoughts.  Share your arguments and opinions below. 





 

Friday, December 26, 2014

2014 FANTASY FOOTBALL YEAR END SEASON PRO BOWL SQUAD

With the 2014 fantasy football season in the books, here are our choices for the best of the best at what they do.

QB

Aaron Rodgers-Peyton Manning-Andrew Luck (Honorable Mention:  Ben Roethlisberger-Tom Brady-Drew Brees)

RB

DeMarco Murray-Le'Veon Bell-Marshawn Lynch (Honorable Mention:  Arian Foster-Matt Forte-Justin Forsett)

WR

Antonio Brown-Demaryuis Thomas-Jordy Nelson-Julio Jones (Honorable Mention:  Emmanuel Sanders-Odell Beckham Jr.-Dez Bryant-Randall Cobb)

TE

Rob Gronkowski-Greg Olsen (Honorable Mention:  Jimmy Graham-Martellus Bennett)

DEF

Buffalo Bills-Detroit Lions (Honorable Mention:  Seattle Seahawks-Arizona Cardinals)

K

Stephen Gostowski (Honorable Mention:  Adam Vinatieri)

 

2014 FANTASY BASEBALL DRAFT SLEEPER: KOLE CALHOUN OUTFIELDER LOS ANGELES ANGELS

When you play on the West Coast and you are a leadoff hitter who doesn't steal bases, it can be tough to garner attention in the fantasy baseball sphere.  Such is the existence of Los Angeles Angels outfielder Kole Calhoun who quietly had a very solid breakout campaign in 2014 as he took part in his first full major league season batting leadoff for the playoff-bound Angels.  Altogether Calhoun  put the following numbers in only 493 at-bats as he missed a portion of the season with injury which means he would have done even better if he got the requisite 550-plus at-bats that leadoff men receive.

.272
17 HR
58 RBI
90 R
5 SB

Looking at those numbers, Calhoun looks more like a number 2 or 6 hitter than a leadoff guy.  However with the Angels determined to move Mike Trout down in the order, Calhoun was their next best bet to bat leadoff.  Obviously Calhoun is not your classic leadoff guy as his OBP was a shoddy .325 last season and he doesn't have the speed to put pressure on pitchers when he does get on base.  You can see this in the fact Calhoun had only the 5 steals last season in 8 tries.  Clearly that is not part of Calhoun's game.  However swatting 17 home runs and collecting 90 runs out of the leadoff slot were very good stats indeed and considering he missed time with injury, Calhoun likely would have hit 20 or more bombs if he stayed completely healthy.  Home runs and runs are the strengths here and Calhoun is capable of improving on his .272 average if he can cut down on some of his whiffs. 

Perhaps the best past about Calhoun going into the season is the fact his draft price remains very affordable despite the mini-breakout a year ago.  This is a kid who is only going to be 27 in 2015 which is the start of a hitter's prime and more improvement is likely as he gains more experience against major league arms.  He is already a firmly established outfielder 3 who can come at the price of a bench bat.  Considering the growth that is on the way, Calhoun shapes up as a very nice investment indeed.

2015 PROJECTION:  .281 19 HR 65 RBI 92 R 6 SB

 
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2015 FANTASY BASEBALL DRAFT BUST: RYAN ZIMMERMAN 1B/3B WASHINGTON NATIONALS

It has been some time since we checked in on another 2015 draft bust to avoid and one of our annual favorites under that heading is Washington Nationals 1B/3B Ryan Zimmerman.  Long a guy I personally avoided at all costs, Zimmerman is headed for a somewhat crossroad season in 2015 due to increasing injury concerns and a switch of position.  With that said let's check in deeper on Zimmerman in order to determine if he should be avoided yet again.

As always when we profile players, it is always advisable to never live in the statistical past of any hitter or pitcher.  When it comes to Zimmerman, that means not jumping right back in and thinking he will automatically supply 25 home runs and 90 RBI like he has done numerous times in his career.  Zimmerman enters into the 2015 season at a still young 30 but anyone who has followed him knows his body is a lot older.  Getting back to the numbers, Zimmerman has hit 25 or more home runs in four of the last six seasons and his .286 career average is very solid.  However we again have to come back to the health as Zimmerman has earned the reputation of being one of the most injury-prone players in all of baseball.  Zimmerman has logged at least one DL stint in each of the last five seasons and 2014 was the worst of all as he logged only 214 at-bats due to perennial shoulder trouble, not to mention some other issues that cropped up.  The result was a grand total of 5 home runs and 38 RBI as the Nationals finally decided to move his bat to first base due to the fact his arm/shoulder could not stand the stress of third base anymore.  The rapid development of Anthony Rendon further accelerated that change.  The shoulder problem still is a big concern that leaves Zimmerman a very risky player to invest in this season on that aspect alone.  When it comes to hitting ability, Zimmerman still knows how to fully handle the bat to remain a guy capable of another 25 HR/90 RBI/.280 season if he can just scratch out enough at-bats which is far from a given.  There is the rub when it comes to projecting Zimmerman.

The last aspect that needs to be discussed here is the fact that all of the injuries have pushed Zimmerman's 2015 draft price way down from where it was just even prior to last season.  This is still a guy who when he is one the field, is one of the best hitting third baseman in the game.  I say third baseman due to the fact Zimmerman will qualify there for at least 2015 and he clearly plays better there due to the massive amount of slugging first baseman.  The fact Zimmerman's draft price has dropped so much makes him intriguing in that front as he could supply some massive value if he again can somehow stay healthy.  The hope is that his move to first base will lessen the wear on the shoulder and keep him on the field.  It all sounds good now but again this is far from a sure thing.  In the end, we would actually suggest for the first time in years investing in Zimmerman if you can get him on the cheap.  Otherwise he stands to be a solid bust candidate again due to the fact he just can't stay on the field.  If he can't stay on the field, he can't help you pick up numbers.  Sometimes it is that simple.

2015 PROJECTION:  .281 21 HR 84 RBI 82 R 2 SB

 
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Wednesday, December 24, 2014

HAPPY HOLIDAYS AND MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL

Allow me the chance to wish all of your a Happy Holiday and Merry Christmas.  We will be back tomorrow to pick up where we left off with our award-winning fantasy baseball coverage as the 2015 season approaches rapidly. 

 

LINDY'S 2015 FANTASY BASEBALL TOP TEN

As always, we like to check out the competition to see how they grade out the top ten to 12 players in their annual drafts guides.  Our top 12 was posted yesterday which brings me to Lindy's top ten which they posted on the cover of their magazine which is due out in January.  Before we attack it, here is their list.

1.  Mike Trout
2.  Miguel Cabrera
3.  Andrew McCutchen
4.  Clayton Kershaw
5.  Paul Goldschmidt
6.  Giancarlo Stanton
7.  Jose Abreu
8.  Carlos Gomez
9.  Troy Tulowitzki
10. Anthony Rizzo

All right let's get to work.  Their top two was the same as ours and likely everyone else's.  Where we started to differ was number 3 where we had Stanton over McCutchen who we had four.  Our thinking is that the immense power that Stanton brings is incredibly rare in today's game and the fact he even added some stolen bases last season put him on top of McCutchen.  We than went with Jose Abreu at 5 and Paul Goldschmidt at 6 which we also noted could easily be flip flopped.  They to had that pairing in the same realm.  From that point on we diverged big time outside of Carlos Gomez.  How is it that Adam Jones is not there?  Again we continue to point out how underrated Jones is and this shows it.  Also Tulowitzki should not be anywhere near Round 1 as he comes off MAJOR hip surgery that could really hurt his numbers going forward.  Remember that Alex Rodriguez had the same procedure and was never the same again when it came to driving the ball.  We had Hanley Ramirez is Round 1 due to his signing in Boston.  Meanwhile we love Anthony Rizzo as we have been his biggest booster but Edwin Encarnacion is better for sure. 

So let us know your thoughts.  Whose list is better?  Post your thoughts below.

 
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2015 FANTASY BASEBALL FIRST ROUND LOOK

2015 fantasy baseball drafts are right around the corner and that means preparing how you will use your first round pick is key.  Get that pick wrong and you already are behind the eight-ball.  Nail it and you are putting yourself on the right path to succeed.  With that in mind here is how a standard 12-team league looks when it comes to how the first round may look.

1.  Mike Trout:  Last year there was a legit debate about whether Trout or Miguel Cabrera should be the top pick but no more.  While the steals were way down as Trout hits lower in the order, the power is picking up as 40 home runs are not possible.  The slam dunk top pick in all formats. 

2.  Miguel Cabrera:  Cabrera was nagged by injuries that stole some of his gargantuan pop last season but he remains the most dominant power hitter in the game.  Cabrera is still flat in his prime and is very easily capable of going back to his .330/40 HR monster ways.  Better yet, he played enough at third base last season for those who have a 5-game qualifier in their leagues. 

3.  Giancarlo Stanton:  Stanton was well on his way to 40 home runs until he took a fastball off his face that ended his season early in 2014.  There is not a more awesome power hitter in baseball and Stanton has managed to keep his average solid enough despite a very high K rate.  He also has added some steals to his repertoire which makes him worthy of going as high as number 2. 

4.  Andrew McCutchen:  McCutchen had another near-MVP season in 2014 as he continues in his prime as a five-tool monster.  While McCutchen is not in Mike Trout's class, no other outfielder measure up to the Pirates gem.

5.  Jose Abreu:  The Cuban Masher fully lived up to the hype last season as a .300-hitting/35-HR monster.  Abreu is capable of more as he enters into his second season and is the rare power hitter who can post both top notch pop with a .300 average. 

6.  Paul Goldschmidt:  Only injury prevented another huge season from Paul Goldschmidt in 2014.  He has completely established himself as a very rare five-category producer at first base.  In fact I wouldn't quibble if you flipped him and Abreu. 

7.  Edwin Encarnacion:  Took a lot of grief early on last season after touting Encarnacion as a first round guy but he fully lived up to my optimism the next five months with his standard power.  Encarnacion retains both first and third base eligibility and 35 home runs are the floor.  Like with his counterpart in Arizona, Encarnacion can steal some bases as well. 

8.  Adam Jones:  No one ever talks about Adam Jones when discussing Carlos Gomez and Andrew McCutchen which is silly.  There may not be a more dependable five-tool player in the game outside of Trout due to extreme durability and numbers that have come in at the same levels across the board the last four years. 

9.  Carlos Gomez:  Gomez is now into his fourth season as a 20-plus HR/30-plus SB outfielder 1.  Still in his prime, Gomez can easily anchor your outfield. 

10. Clayton Kershaw:  I never suggest drafting a pitcher in the first round but I can't deny the ridiculous dominance that Kershaw has shown the last five years.  He is clearly the best among all pitchers but again try to go hitter this early. 

11. Hanley Ramirez:  I elevated Ramirez back up to first round status due to his signing with the Boston Red Sox and the ongoing injury woes of Troy Tulowitzki.  Ramirez will get to hit in a prime offensive park for the first time in his career and as long as he stays healthy, first round numbers are possible. 

12. Robinson Cano:  Cano sank under 20 home runs for the first time as a regular player due to calling Seattle home but he still is the top second baseman in the game by a good margin.  I would go first baseman or outfielder in Round 1 however. 



 

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

2015 FANTASY BASEBALL SECOND BASEMAN RANKINGS: A FIRST LOOK

1.  Robinson Cano:  Still the best but Cano dropped below 20 home runs for the first time since becoming a regular due to Safeco Field.  The average was top-notch however as Cano remains one of the best pure hitters in baseball.  Just don't pay the Yankee sticker price and instead adjust the cost to his current form as a Mariner.
2.  Anthony Rendon:  Hitting 21 home runs and stealing 17 bases while possessing a .300 bat is the quick way to becoming a fantasy baseball star which Rendon now is after his monster 2014 breakout.  The kid is for real as his bat was already above-average coming to the majors and he now has grown into his pop. Here to stay as a top guy.
3.  Jose Altuve:  Wow what a season.  Altuve was always a guy you could depend on to hit .280 and steal 30-plus bases but what he did in 2014 was ridiculous when you look at the .341 average and 56 steals.  Those two numbers look like clear outliers to us as they stand out big-time when looking at Altuve's career.  Still Altuve is still very young so growth was not unexpected.  The steals are much more dependable and likely to stay above 40 this season as opposed to the .341 average.  As long as you dial the average back a bit to around .315, Altuve will do great for you.
4.  Dee Gordon:  The Dodgers didn't buy into Gordon's 2014 breakout as they sold high in dealing him to the Miami Marlins.  Gordon can run like the wind and will steal a base every time he is given the chance but getting on first base was a big problem until he hit .289 last season.  He slumped in the second half as his utter lack of patience got him into trouble again.  Gordon has pronounced hitting issues that could turn him right back to a .260 hitter so don't go overboard cutting the check. 
5.  Ian Kinsler:  Kinsler surprised even myself as he refuted all those who thought he would be a bust in moving from Texas to Detroit.  Instead Kinsler filled up all five categories again despite aging a bit.  Keep in mind Kinsler's speed is starting to slip noticeably as he is clearly no longer even a 25 steal guy and his average was shaky even in the good days.  The injury bug also as a major issue that needs to be factored into his cost. 
6.  Josh Harrison:  Yet another breakout guy who infused this position with youth.  Harrison did a little of everything for the Pirates after failing to be more than a backup infielder his first few years in the league.  There is some bust potential here as Harrison has to prove last year was not a fluke but the power/speed ability is very intriguing to go along with the good eligibility. 
7.  Brian Dozier:  We all know Dozier will hurt you in batting average so that has to come along for the power/speed ride.  If you can look past that aspect of his game, Dozier is a terrific top ten guy who will boost you in the other four categories. 
8.  Neil Walker:  The classic guy you draft late if you waited on second base or the first injury replacement when your starter goes down except that Walker had a top ten year in 2014 among second baseman.  Will do a little of everything without blowing up any one category and draft cost remains dirt cheap.  Could be nice value again.
9.  Daniel Murphy:  For two years now Murphy has quietly been a very good starting second baseman who can hit .300 while accumulating nice counting stats.  Murphy also was the rare guy who figured out how to steal bases midway through his career which helps make up for some lack of pop.
10. Javier Baez:  Clearly one of the top prospects in baseball, Baez has some major holes in his swing a la Brian Dozier.  The average could be ghastly early on but the power/speed ability is immense. 
11. Danny Santana:  What a find this kid was as Santana came up and played like a top five guy the second half of 2014 among second baseman.  While we are not totally buying the home runs he hit, Santana could bat .300 and steal 30 bases easy.
12. Jason Kipnis:  We warned you about not overpaying for Kipnis last season as his very high K-rate has destroyed his average and impacted his power as opposing pitchers refuse to give him anything to hit in knowing his lack of plate discipline.  Onus is on Kipnis to adjust and that is no given. 
13. Kolten Wong:  Like the direction this kid is going as Wong cleared his head when demoted to the minors last season and came back up showing his nice power/speed blend.  Could turn into a star in 2015.
14. Dustin Pedroia:  If you ignore the name, you would say that Pedroia was one of the worst impact players in fantasy baseball last season.  His slight frame manning the rough second base spot is causing premature aging that took down Carlos Baerga and Juan Samuel among others in their late 20's and early 30's.  The speed looks shot, the average is slipping badly, and health is a big problem. Enough. 
15. Ben Zobrist:  Still doing enough to warrant usage but Zobist is aging as well and his numbers are leaking everywhere. 
16. Martin Prado:  Was intrigued if he stayed with the Yankees but the move to Miami destroys his value. 
17. Mookie Betts:  Right now has to open the Red Sox give him a shot in the outfield in order to show off his tremendous talent.  If Betts has the inside track to a job this spring, bump him up.
18. Chase Utley:  Move on here for good as Utley joins Pedroia, Zobrist, and Brandon Phillips as aging veterans who are fading quick. 
19. Brandon Phillips:  Phillips has virtually been useless the last two seasons as he speed is long gone and his power is diminishing as well.  Not much left to discuss. 
20. Howie Kendrick:  The Dodgers like what they saw out of Kendrick last season and truth be told he was solid.  Solid won't win you any championships however. 
21. Brett Lawrie:  The move from Toronto to Oakland destroyed what little value this injury-prone mess had left to his name. 
22. Dustin Ackley:  Somewhat intriguing for one more year but the home ballpark is pretty much a non-starter overall. 
23. Aaron Hill:  Went completely bust last season as Hill continues to make a career out of doing the opposing of what we think he will do with his numbers. 
24. Jurickson Profar:  Injuries really stunting the growth of this former top prospect.  Continue to monitor as the talent is still immense. 
25. Jordy Mercer:  Does just enough to stay on the radar but that is not saying much.

There you have it.  Let us hear your thoughts.



 
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2015 FANTASY BASEBALL: WHO DO YOU WANT US TO PROFILE?

As always we put it out there for all of you to request who you want us to profile as we move towards the upcoming season.  Please post below or e-mail us at rangerfan28@yahoo.com 

THE FANTASY SPORTS BOSS EXPERTS LEAGUE: THE AFTERMATH

It wasn't meant to be.  After lamenting the decision not to play Tony Romo and instead going with Matt Ryan in the championship game of the Experts PPR league (thus leaving 16 points on the table), the Monday night game solidified that either way I was a loser.  I went into the game down 7.8 points and had Jeremy Hill and Demaryuis Thomas versus my opponent's Emmanuel Sanders and CJ Anderson.  Needless to say I was shocked to see myself UP four in the second quarter as Hill ran for a long TD in the first.  Still that was window dressing as Sanders would score twice and Anderson once as I lost by more than 20.  So even if I started Romo I was toast.  So my championship drought has reached four seasons and counting whereas in fantasy baseball I have won 8 of the last 9 titles up for grabs.  There is more luck involved in fantasy football as anyone would tell you but still I am frustrated.  I went heavy on the wideouts this season in Thomas, Dez Bryant, and Julio Jones and bought low on Arian Foster which was a huge success.  Still I came up short as my opponent made the move of the season in picking up Anderson off waivers.  Anderson was the single biggest difference-maker the second half of the season and is likely to be found on many winning rosters.  Not mine of course.  So now it is all fantasy baseball all the time as this is my true bread-and-butter.  So how did the finals go for you?  Let's hear it. 

 

THE FANTASY SPORTS BOSS 2015 FANTASY BASEBALL DRAFT GUIDE FIRST BASEMAN EXCERPT

If you have not already purchased the 2015 Fantasy Sports Boss Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide, what are you waiting for?  The Post-Free Agency Edition is hot off the presses are ready to ship in 24 hours.  Use the BUY NOW tab below to purchase for only $17.99 (180-plus pages).  Here is an excerpt on the first baseman rankings:



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FIRST BASEMAN



Draft Strategy:  This is where it’s at if you are on a mission for home runs and RBI.  First base has historically been the top spot to find your power numbers and that remains true for the 2015 season.  In fact, four of the first five picks in your draft may very well be first baseman (Miguel Cabrera, Edwin Encarnacion, Paul Goldschmidt, Jose Abreu) and it is recommended strongly from this peanut stand to double-dip here in order to fill out your UTIL or CI spots as well.  You want to make sure you get a stud power-hitting first baseman with either your first or second round pick or else you will be chasing the rest of your league when it comes to power bats.


1.  Miguel Cabrera:  Despite moving to first base prior to the start of the 2014 season due to the trade of Prince Fielder, Cabrera retains both first and third base eligibility in leagues where 5 starts is the threshold (8 starts made at the hot corner).  Whether at first or third base, Cabrera is the slam dunk number two overall player in fantasy baseball behind Mike Trout.  Now as far as the numbers are concerned, there is no denying the fact Cabrera had an “off” year by his incredible standards.  After two straight seasons of slamming 44 home runs and RBI totals of 137 and 139, Cabrera saw massive declines in both categories.  Cabrera wound up hitting 25 home runs and driving in 109 batters, which are still terrific numbers but they fell way short of his lofty standards.  We always talk about outlier seasons in fantasy baseball and how inflated numbers from a guy’s career norms usually can be thrown out.  The same goes for an uncharacteristically off year like Cabrera had last season.  Turning a still young 32 in April, Cabrera is much more likely to revisit his 2012-13 statistics which means 40 home runs and 120 RBI at worst.  Don’t let him slip past number 2 overall in your draft. 

PROJECTION:  .334 37 HR 129 RBI 107 R 1 SB


2.  Paul Goldschmidt:  A fractured hand right in August caused by an HBP was the only thing that stopped Paul Goldschmidt from having another stellar fantasy baseball MVP season in 2014.  Once again Goldschmidt filled up all five hitting categories which is almost unheard of among first baseman.  With full health, Goldschmidt is likely to come close to replicating or even exceeding his incredible 2013 campaign when he hit .302 with 36 home runs and 125 RBI and even stealing 15 bases.   Tough call when deciding between Goldschmidt and Jose Abreu but the stolen base contributions decide things in the D-Backs first baseman’s favor. 

PROJECTION:  .300 34 HR 119 RBI 104 R 14 SB


3.      Jose Abreu:  Talk about a smashing debut.  Jose Abreu became the latest in an increasingly long line of Cuban imports that became instant stars in 2014 as he hit 36 home runs and drove in 107 while batting .317.  Abreu’s 10 home run/31 RBI month of April was one of the greatest run-producing stretches we have seen in years and his average got better as the season went on.  What is truly amazing is that Abreu could even be better in 2015 as he continues to grow accustomed to major league pitching and he better withstands the rigors of a long season.  Don’t let him slip past the fifth overall pick.  The guy is a monster. 

PROJECTION:  .310 38 HR 121 RBI 86 R 4 SB

4.  Edwin Encarnacion: ********THE REST OF THE GUIDE IS FOR PURCHASERS ONLY.!*****

Monday, December 22, 2014

2015 FANTASY BASEBALL FIRST BASEMAN RANKINGS: A FIRST LOOK

Here are the 2015 fantasy baseball first baseman rankings as we take our first look here with the season quickly approaching.

1.  Miguel Cabrera:  Home runs were down but Cabrera is still the slam-dunk number 2 in all of fantasy baseball behind Mike Trout.
2.  Paul Goldschmidt:  Give Goldy the slight edge over Abreu due to runs and stolen base advantages. 
3.  Jose Abreu:  The Cuban Masher should hit 40 home runs this season with a .300 average.  That combo as valuable as any pair of numbers in the game. 
4.  Edwin Encarnacion:  April was a disaster but the next five months was vintage Encarnacion.  Remains late-first round bat.
5.  Todd Frazier:  Plays slightly better at third base but anyone who hits 20-plus home runs and steals 20-plus bases like Frazier does is fantasy baseball gold to the highest order. 
6.  Anthony Rizzo:  Told you to stay patient here and Rizzo rewarded my optimism by unleashing his full power potential.  Here to stay as a near-top tier first baseman. 
7.  Jose Bautista:  Aging but Bautista has a terrific comeback season in 2014 in showing his power still as good as anyone in baseball while picking up eligibility here. 
8.  Victor Martinez:  Sorry but not buying the power outlier numbers we saw last season but Martinez is still quite possibly the best pure hitter in baseball.  Cut back the home runs to around 20 and than cut the check. 
9.  Adrian Gonzalez:  Once again drove in 100 and did everything expected in his current 25-home run version.  Top value play as people continue to downgrade him foolishly due to no longer being the 40-home run guy he once was.
10. Albert Pujols:  Like with Bautista, Pujols posted a nice comeback season in 2014 as he finally returned to health.  Sometimes it is that simple but we remain wary here due to age and the likeihod Pujols gets hurt yet again. 
11. David Ortiz:  One more season for Ortiz before he walks away but in 2014 his power was as good as ever.  Just keep in mind though that his average slipped noticeably. 
12. Freddie Freeman:  Very disappointed in Freeman last season as he took a step back in a sizable way with his power.  Still full of potential but maybe was overly optimistic predicting 30-home run stardom. 
13. Joey Votto:  Has a degenerative knee issue that will sap his power and keep him an injury mess.  Move away. 
14. Prince Fielder:  Like with Votto, Fielder is vanishing before our eyes as an impact player.  Neck surgery ruined his 2014 but returns to Texas where maybe he could find his lost pop. 
15. Lucas Duda:  The size always suggested Duda would hit for above-average power which he finally did in 2014.  Can't hit lefties though and average not great so there are some limitations. 
16. Buster Posey:  Play him at catcher/.
17. Carlos Santana:  Play him at catcher or third base.
18. Mark Trumbo:  Can smack home runs with the best of them but average woes take some shine away from that area.
19. Chris Carter:  If you like 40 home runs with a .200 average, this is your guy.
20. Adam LaRoche:  Very interested that LaRoche will now DH in Chicago with the White Sox as he sees a good ballpark boost.  Could be among the cheapest 20-plus home runs in the game as he always is.
21. Matt Adams:  Weird season for Adams in 2014 as he hit for good average but not enough pop which was the opposite of what we all thought would happen.  Still very intriguing. 
22. C.J. Cron:  Think Billy Butler with more power.  Solid sleeper.
23. Brandon Moss:  Moves to the Indians where he will take his 25-home run bat and middling average. 
24. Brian McCann:  Again play at catcher only. 
25. Justin Morneau:  The power is shot as Morneau couldn't do much there even in Colorado last season but the guy can still hit ropes. 
26. Mark Teixeira:  The body is breaking down badly and Teixeira is too much of a headache to deal with. 
27. Chris Davis:  PED bust and typical regression in a horrific way in batting average leave Davis as just another guy to avoid. 
28. Michael Cuddyer:  Hate the move from Colorado to the New York Mets as there can't really be a bigger drop in ballpark efficiency for a hitter. 
29. Mike Napoli:  Is no longer interesting now that he doesn't carry catcher tag.
30. Brandon Belt:  Forget last April as Belt was a disaster the rest of 2014 due to injury and drastically scaled back numbers.  Time running out on a potential breakthrough. 
31. Eric Hosmer:  Once again Hosmer disappointed with his lack of pop.  Just a UTIL/CI bat at best.
32. Mike Morse:  Always liked the power bat but Morse is aging and signed into a bad ballpark with Miami.
33. Steve Pearce:  Was a big help down the stretch last season but Pearce has a lot of work to do to prove that the numbers he put up were not a fluke. 
34. Adam Lind:  The move to Milwaukee will keep Lind in a power park but sit against lefties. 
35. Jonathan Singleton:  Meet Chris Carter 2.0. 
36. Billy Butler:  Nobody cares about Butler anymore as he continues his Sean Casey impersonation with the lack of pop despite massive body. 
37. Allen Craig:  That was a quick stay as a useful player as Craig was one of the best hitters in baseball last season.
38. Brock Holt:  Quite possibly the best utility guy in fantasy baseball as Holt qualifies everywhere and he can hit some also. 
39. Joe Mauer:  Mauer is finished as a useful player due to age, poor health, and no longer qualifying as a catcher.
40. Casey McGehee:  Can drive in runs but little else. 

 

THE FANTASY SPORTS BOSS BLEW IT

Yup I did.  I made the one cardinal sin of a fantasy football championship and that was to not stick with the guys who got you there.  I gave in to the temptation to start Matt Ryan against the New Orleans Saints instead of going with Tony Romo versus the Indianapolis Colts.  Four Romo touchdowns and 35 points later, I am down 7.8 points in the Experts League title game with me and my opponent both having two players left.  I have Demaryuis Thomas and Jeremy Hill and he has CJ Anderson and Emamnuel Sanders.  Needless to say this one is going to hurt as I don't think I will be able to pull this one out.  Ryan scored 19 points for me which means I would have gotten 16 more with Romo in there and would have had the clear lead going into tonight.  The real shame is that the rest of my team did great as almost everyone else scored:  Jimmy Graham, Dez Bryant, and Greg Jennings, while Arian Foster threw for a score.  I was absolutely destroyed by the Buffalo Bills defense against Oakland of all teams as they netted one grand point.  Unbelievable.  I mean the Billfs defense shut down completely Peyton Manning and Aaron Rodgers over the last month but they let Derek Carr and the Raiders go up and down the field on them.  My opponent meanwhile got a HUGE game out of Antonio Gates (two scores) and got touchdowns from Matt Forte and Antonio Brown.  The real crazy thing is that Matthew Stafford was a complete bust as he scored only 5 points with no scored and two interceptions.  Amazing.  It really was not meant to be.  The drought looks like it will continue barring a miracle. 

FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEK 16 WRAPUP

Matt Ryan:  30/40 for 322 yards and 1 TD.  Ryan helped eliminate the New Orleans Saints from the NFC South race with his very efficient performance.  Would have liked to see Ryan throw for more than one score but the yardage was top-notch and it was a solid day overall.

Joique Bell:  13 carries for 74 yards and a score to go with 2 catches for 13 more yards.  Bell didn't play in the first quarter as he obviously did something to earn the ire of the coaching staff.  Still Bell saved the day with his touchdown and he really was a solid difference-maker the last two months of the season.  He should have the inside track to the starting running back job for the 2015 season.

Cam Newton:  Just two weeks after nearly losing his life in a car accident, Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton continued with his career-long trend of doing his best work down the stretch of the season as he completed 18 of 31 passes for 201 yards with 1 TD and INT in the team's win over the Cleveland Browns.  Newton also added a third score as he rushed for 63 yards on 12 carries.  In his last two games on the field, Newton has been a monster and reminds us how athletically talented he is.  Unfortunately he has yet to outrun his inconsistency.

Ben Roethlisberger:  Big Ben helped the Pittsburgh Steelers clinch a wild card spot as he completed 18 of 25 passes for 220 yards and a touchdown Sunday in the team's win over the Kansas City Chiefs.  Not the best game for Roethlisberger from a statistical standpoint though considering how mammoth some of his games were this season.

Jimmy Clausen:  In an absolute shocker, Jimmy Clausen completed 23 of 29 passes for 181 yards with 2 TD and 1 INT in the team's loss to the Detroit Lions.  Clausen was pretty poised considering he had not played much this season and replaced Jay Cutler just this week.  Still Clausen is nothing but a backup at best.

Joe Flacco:  What a disgrace Joe Flacco and the Baltimore Ravens were Sunday as he completed only 21 of 50 passes for 195 yards with 2 TD and 3 INT in the loss to the Houston Texans.  Flacco was under siege all game and was lucky to throw for the two scores that helped stave off complete disaster.

Arian Foster:  Putting the finishing touches on a season where he showed that he was far from finished, Arian Foster rushed for 96 yards on 25 carries in the team's win over the Baltimore Ravens.  Foster even threw a five-yard touchdown pass for good measure.  He has been a top 2-3 runner all season long and a major value play based on his very affordable 2014 draft price.

Ryan Tannehill:  Those who stuck with Tannehill as their second QB in two passer formats were richly rewarded Sunday as he completed 35 of 47 passes for 396 yards and 4 touchdowns with 1 INT in the team's OT win over the Minnesota Vikings.  Tannehill has made some nice progress in turning into a near QB 1 with his best season as a pro.

Lamar Miller:  Miller picked a nice time for one of his own best games of the season Sunday as he rushed for 92 yards on 19 carries and 1 TD while also catching 5 balls for 58 yards.  Miller has found constancy elusive in his career but he has quiet PPR value that should net him the starting job next season.

DeMarco Murray:  Murray did just fine in his half-day Sunday in Dallas' romp over the Indianapolis Colts.  Murray rushed for 58 yards and a score on 22 carries in showing that the procedure done on his left hand is not going to inhibit him into the playoffs.  While Murray may sit next week, he put the wraps on an MVP-like 2014 season where he stayed on the field for the first time in his career.

Tony Romo:  What an amazing finish for Tony Romo Sunday as he tossed four touchdowns while completing a ridiculous 18 of 20 passes for 218 yards.  Romo has now upped his TD total to 32 and once again proved to be one of the very best values in fantasy football as he annually gets disrespected at the draft due to his habit of coming up short in the clutch.  Those who owned Romo likely won their league title today.

Odell Beckham Jr.:  It will be tough for Odell Beckham Jr. to encore his dominant rookie campaign as he went wild again Sunday in catching 8 passes for 148 yards and 2 touchdowns for the New York Giants in their win over the St. Louis Rams.  Beckham is virtually unstoppable and already is a top five wideout not even a full season into his career.  Things are so crazy here that Beckham could be a first round pick next season. 

Kyle Orton:  Way to go Kyle Orton as he absolutely gagged Sunday in a gimme game against the Oakland Raiders in tossing two interceptions as part of his 32 of 49 day for 329 yards.  Orton did throw three touchdowns but his picks were simply horrific.  He has proven once again that even as a QB 2 in two passer formats, he is not one you can depend if you want to do well in your league.