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Monday, August 31, 2015

FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: MANNY MACHADO STARTING AT SS MONDAY

The Baltimore Orioles have begun experimenting for 2015 as evidenced by the fact they will start All-Star third baseman Manny Machado at shortstop Monday night.  Machado has been a dominant five-tool hitter for the O's this season as he rose to stardom but the team now wants to see if he can hack it at shortstop which has been a trouble spot for the team for awhile. 

Analysis:  Oh my goodness this is interesting.  If Machado can gain shortstop eligibility for 2016, he would go right to the top of the rankings there ahead of everyone.  His immense five-tool ability is fantasy baseball gold and shortstop certainly could use an infusion there with Machado.  Those who have five games started at a position to gain eligibility are looking good there. 

 

FANTASY FOOTBALL BREAKING NEWS: JULIUS THOMAS OUT 4-5 WEEKS AFTER HAND SURGERY

Oft-injured Jacksonville Jaguars tight end Julius Thomas will miss the next 4-5 weeks after it was learned on Monday that he would need surgery to fix a tendon injury on his finger.  Thomas injured the finger early in the team's preseason opener and tried to see first if it would improve on its own.  Further testing was undertaken which led to the surgery diagnosis. 

Analysis:  So basically it will be almost October before we see Thomas in a game.  He was already in the "Bust" column heading into the season due to the fact he was leaving Denver with Peyton Manning as his QB and going to offensively inept Jacksonville with the still developing Blake Bortles under center.  Not the best way to start off his tenure there. 

 

FANTASY BASEBALL ISSUES: DANIEL MUPRHY CAN STILL HIT BUT NOT RUN

Sunday August 30th marked a big win for the resurgent New York Mets who are taking aim at the NL East title and their first playoff run in years.  The key to the victory was a late stolen base by second baseman Daniel Murphy as he put himself in position to score the winning run.  Ordinarily a stolen base is not cause for much discussion in terms of fantasy baseball but when it comes to Murphy, some discussion is warranted.  The steal was only the second of the season for Murphy, who stole as many as 23 in 2013 which put him on the map squarely as a top ten fantasy baseball second baseman.  After coming into the majors showing virtually no speed his first three years, Murphy suddenly broke out with the 23 in 2013.  That number looked like a major fluke as Murphy again never showed the ability to help there previously but it was embraced nonetheless when you consider that he was a good average hitter with not much power.  In other words Murphy was making himself useful on a daily basis instead of his very limited impact prior to the steals explosion.  We however talked about the outlier aspect of the 23 steals going into 2014 but Murphy still did enough there by swiping 13 more bags that season to keep the trend going.  2015 has been a totally different story though as Murphy has two steals going into September and at the age of 30 one has to wonder if that statistic is gone for good.  Overall Murphy has been his solid hitting self without blowing up any one category, batting .283 with 10 home runs and 56 RBI.  Always durable and with eligibility at second, third, and now first base, Murphy is now a better real-life player than a fantasy baseball one.  Another example of how the addition or subtraction of one statistic can change a player's entire outlook. 

 

FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: DAVID ROBERTSON PULLED BACK BY WHITE SOX

The Chicago White Sox pulled back closer David Robertson from waivers after the New York Yankees made a claim.  The two teams never got to discussing what it would take for Robertson to be dealt and instead the Yanks likely made the move to block the closer-needy Toronto Blue Jays. 

Analysis:  Nothing to see here.  It was likely never going to happen anyway but the Yanks would have looked ridiculous in the bullpen with Andrew Miller, Dellin Betances, and Robertson.  Oh well.  

 

FANTASY FOOTBALL BREAKING NEWS: JETS TALKING TO REDSKINS ABOUT RGIII

Not even hours after the Washington Redskins officially benched Robert Griffin III to start the 2015 season, the New York Jets reportedly have made contact with the team to find out what his current availability he has.  The Jets are going into the season with journeyman QB Ryan Fitzpatrick under center after losing starter Geno Smith to a broken jaw in a locker room incident.  With Smith being far from a long-term option, the Jets are internally debating a run at Griffin.

Analysis:  This makes total sense in that Griffin would actually help the Jets make the playoffs as the team is ready made everywhere else.  The Jets have a good O-line with Pro Bowlers D'Brickashaw Ferguson and Nick Mangold, to go with a top running game that goes four guys deep.  Of course a player with maturity issues in New York is scary but this has some legs to it. 

 

FANTASY FOOTBALL BREAKING NEWS: REDSKINS THROW IN TOWEL ON RGIII, KIRK COUSINS NAMED STARTER

After three tumultuous seasons, the Washington Redskins acknowledged that the Robert Griffin III era is over as head coach Jay Gruden announced Monday that Kirk Cousins was the clear starter.  Gruden also would not say if Griffin would even be the backup or veteran Colt McCoy. 

Analysis:  Ridiculous.  There is blame to go all the way around in this as Griffin is the poster boy in terms of being a petulant and narcissistic athlete.  His fall has been very swift, from what was looking like the start of a tremendous career in 2012.  One knee injury and countless additional injuries and diva moments later, this is where we are.  Cousins has intriguing potential as he has shown flashes of promise in the past but the Redskins offensive line is a joke and the organization is as well.  A release could be forthcoming as well which could entice teams like the New York Jets, Cleveland Browns, or Buffalo Bills. 

 

FANTASY FOOTBALL BREAKING NEWS: TYROD TAYLOR WINS BUFFALO QB JOB

The Buffalo Bills will begin the season with Tyrod Taylor under center over veteran Matt Cassel and E.J. Manuel. 

Analysis:  Rex Ryan had said he would wait until after the fourth preseason game but he must have felt confident in Taylor.  There is zero fantasy football value to be discussed here, at least initially, as Taylor has virtually no experience and there are questions about how arm. 

FANTASY FOOTBALL BREAKING NEWS: STEELERS COMPLETE DEAL FOR KICKER JOSH SCOBEE

Looking all summer to fill the kicking void left when Shaun Suisham suffered a season-ending injury, the Pittsburgh Steelers completed a trade early Monday for Jacksonville Jaguars veteran Josh Scobee.  The Steelers first tried Garrett Hartley but he too suffered a potentially long-term injury in the team's third preseason game. 

Analysis:  Scobee is a great kicker who has been trapped on an awful team for awhile.  He all of a sudden takes on some very solid fantasy football value going to a team that can score at a very high rate. 

 

FANTASY BASEBALL ISSUES: JAKE ARRIETA GRADUATING TO ACE STATUS

The fantasy baseball highlight Sunday came late as the Chicago Cubs' Jake Arrieta tossed a 12-strikeout no-hitter versus the Los Angeles Dodgers that continued what has been a ridiculously dominant 2015 season that came on the heels of his just as terrific 2014 breakout.  Arrieta has been pitching at an ace-level for more than a full season now and the no-hitter lowered his numbers to the following:

2.11 ERA
0.94 WHIP
17-6
190 K/183 IP

Those numbers look like they could belong to Clayton Kershaw, Matt Harvey, Zack Greinke, or Madison Bumgarner which shows you how crazy good Arrieta has been.  Even in 2014 as I noted earlier Arrieta pitched to a splendid 2.53 ERA and 0.99 WHIP while punching out 167 batters in 156.2 innings.  The Cubs made one of the best trades over the last few years when the acquired Arrieta from the Baltimore Orioles and clearly the change of scenery and easier league have helped unleash his potent arsenal.  Right now Arrieta shoukd absolutely be graded as a fantasy baseball ace pitcher going into 2016 as the numbers have said as much for awhile now.  With numbers like Arrieta's has going back to 2014, he can't be classified any other way. 



 

FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: YANKS AWARDED WAIVER CLAIM ON DAVID ROBERTSON

The New York Yankees were awarded a waiver claim on Chicago White Sox closer David Robertson, which means the two sides have until Monday at 2:00 PM ET to complete a deal.  The White Sox put Robertson on revocable waivers in the hopes a team would claim the pricey closer after the team struggled badly in 2015 despite high expectations coming in. 

Analysis:  It is likely the Yankees just blocked Robertson from the Blue Jays who need a closer that is more dependable than youngster Roberto Osuna.  Don't look for any deal to get done although stranger things have happened.  It is telling though that the White Sox are already tossing aside players who were supposed to help them get back into contention this season. 

 

Sunday, August 30, 2015

FANTASY BASEBALL WRAPUP: SUNDAY

Josh Donaldson:  2/5 with his 36th HR while hitting .301.  What is happening now in Toronto is that the middle of the lineup is so potent that everyone is getting pitches to drive.  Donaldson is the definition of ridiculous right now and his blend of power and average has priced out even better than expected despite sky-high expectations in March.

Edwin Encarnacion:  2/3 with his 30th HR while hitting .272.  Anyone who owns Encarnacion is moving up their league rankings on the strength of his bat alone.  It was only a few short weeks ago it looked like Encarnacion was finished as a first round guy but he has other ideas.

Russell Martin:  2/3 with his 17th HR while hitting .244.  Martin has more than made the grade as a catcher 1 despite the ugly average due on the strength of his power alone.  He is really starting to get up there in age but Rogers Center will help ward off a drastic decline for a bit. 

Kevin Pillar:  2/3 with his 9th HR while hitting .266.  Pillar now has 9 home runs and 17 stolen bases which is a very useful power/speed ratio.  He gets lost in the insane lineup that is Toronto but Pillar is the type of outfielder 3-5 that can help put your quietly over the top in balancing out a roster. 

Jered Weaver:  8 ER in 6 IP with an ERA of 4.94.  When your fastball barely touches 85, your margin for error is pretty much zero as Weaver found out today. 

Josh Tomlin:  7 IP 6 H 2 ER 0 BB 8 K with an ERA of 3.08.  Having a fresh arm as Tomlin does this late in the season often sees pitchers in that class take advantage of tiring hitters.  Tomlin has decent stuff but has been the definition of inconsistent in his career so you still have to hold your breath whenever you use him. 

David Ortiz:  1/4 with his 26th HR while hitting .264.  Ortiz can barely move on the bases now but when he hits home runs, that is obviously not such a pressing concern. 

Noah Syndegaard:  6.2 IP 6 H 4 ER 1 BB 3 K with an ERA of 3.31.  Syndegaard is starting to look like he is running a bit on fumes and the return of Steven Matz is likely going to eventually send him to the bullpen where he could be insanely good.  Overall though Syndegaard's rookie campaign was very impressive and he only has to shore up issues on the road to be a monster power starter. 

Kevin Kiermaier:  1/3 with his 7th HR while hitting .261.  Good past week for Kiermaier but this is just a short-term stopgap if needed. 

Nathan Karns:  5 IP 6 H 2 ER 1 BB 5 K with an ERA of 3.69.  The Rays are now starting to watch and manage Karns' innings as the rookie is starting to get up there.  I am very high on Karns next season the same way I was into rotation mate Jake Odorizzi for this year and we all know how good that turned out. 

Ryan Braun:  2/4 with his 24th HR while hitting .278.  Overall it has been a Joey Votto-like comeback 2015 for Braun minus the steroid stain.  Whether you like him or loathe him.  Quite a few on both sides. 

Wily Peralta:  7 IP 7 H 1 ER 0 BB 6 K with an ERA of 4.30.  With a 1.48 WHIP, Peralta just had a rare good day at the office.

Jorge De La Rosa:  6 IP 4 H 0 ER 1 BB 7 K with an ERA of 4.40.  If you are picking up De La Rosa to boost your team for the last month, you really should be onto fantasy football. 

Justin Bohr:  1/4 with his 14th HR while hitting .250.  Bohr just looks like a slugger and he reminds me a lot of Lucas Duda early on before his power takeoff in 2014.  Will monitor into 2016 but not go after until I see some growth. 

Jayson Werth:  2/4 with his 5th HR while hitting .209.  The move to leadoff in place of the injured Denard Span is sparking Werth somewhat but that is not saying much given how pathetic he has hit this season. 

Justin Upton:  1/5 with his 24th HR while hitting .253.  Put down in ink 28 HR and a .260 average for the next five years.

Matt Kemp:  1/5 with his 16th HR while hitting .265.  Unlike Justin Upton, Matt Kemp can't get the hell away from Petco Park next season.  Next! 

Cameron Rupp:  1/3 with his 8th HR while hitting .254.  All I have been saying over the last week is to pick up the burgeoning Rupp whose power is really earning him a long look as the starting backstop for the Phillies. 

James Shields:  7 IP 6 H 1 ER 1 BB 8 K with an ERA of 3.78.  Shields' K rate has bounced upwards this season which is no shock going from the AL to the NL and especially in Petco Park.  Still very concerned about his future outlook as are the Padres as they wanted to give him away at the trade deadline.  Talk about buyer's remorse. 

Jose Altuve:  4/5 with his 11th HR and 34th SB while hitting .313.  As an Altuve owner, I stared an extra few seconds at this boxscore of his and smiled.  Life is good when own this monster. 

Chris Carter:  1/3 with his 18th HR while hitting .183.  Carter is so strong that he will fall into 20 home runs no problem.  The big issue now is that with him swinging literally at everything, opposing pitchers no longer need to throw him anything anywhere near the strike zone which is why the power is way down. 

Miguel Sano:  1/2 with his 13th HR while hitting .287.  I may really need to rejigger my Miguel Sano talking points for next season if he can finish with an average north of .275.  From very good to potentially great in terms of fantasy baseball. 

Derek Holland:  9 IP 3 H 0 ER 0 BB 11 K with an ERA of 2.82.  Now finally healthy, the very impressive arm of Holland can do its thing.  Told you to give him a whirl upon activation but now you got to run to the wire to get him if you didn't listen to me in the first place. 

Kyle Seager:  3/6 with his 21st HR while hitting .262.  Wow look who is scorching right now.  Seager is one of those classic guys who will always get his numbers no matter the ups and downs along the way.

Melky Cabrera:  4/5 with his 9th HR while hitting .279.  With Cabrera being so mediocre for most of the season after inking his free agent deal with the Chicago White Sox, I can now understand why he felt he needed the steroids. 

Matt Carpenter:  2/4 with his 20th HR while hitting .262.  Amazing.  Never in a million years did I think Carpenter was ever capable of this type of pop but that is what swinging for the fences does when you move to third base and know you need to help in the home run department. 

Chris Heston:  5 ER in 3.2 IP with an ERA of 3.56.  Nice overall rookie season for Heston but he can be chalked up to being a victim of late season fatigue. 

Julio Teheran:  8 ER in 4.1 IP with an ERA of 4.62.  Well that about puts a bow on the utter disgrace of a season that Teheran has had.  Will be one of the radioactive starting pitchers in fantasy baseball next season. 

Jacoby Ellsbury:  2/6 with his 7th HR while hitting .278.  By the end of the season Ellsbury's numbers are going to look quite ugly, even on a per game basis when you consider the time he has missed.  Avoid firmly going into season as Ellsbury is looking clearly like he is on the decline. 



 

2015 FANTASY FOOTBALL UPDATED TIGHT END RANKINGS

Last but not least we check out he updated tight end rankings as the all-important third preseason game is in the books for most. 

1.  Rob Gronkowski:  At least for now Gronkowski is healthy and back to his monster production both in the receptions and TD department.  With Jimmy Graham now in a run-centric offense with Seattle, there is no longer any debate over who the top fantasy football tight end is. 
2.  Jimmy Graham:  Perhaps no big name receiver saw a bigger negative drop in potency of offense as Graham goes from the New Orleans Saints explosive passing attack to the run-dominant unit of the Seattle Seahawks.  90 catches is now firmly out of the question for Graham in that offense and he also has an ongoing shoulder problem that could flare up at a moment's notice. 
3.  Greg Olsen:  Now that Kelvin Benjamin is out for the season, Olsen is going to get a ridiculous amount of passing attention from QB Cam Newton.  So much so that he can hit the 90-catch mark which combined with his ultra-durability make Olsen one of the very best tight end buys. 
4.  Travis Kelce:  With the Kansas City Chiefs operating the biggest dink-and-dunk passing game in the NFL, the athletic Kelce seems primed for his first 80-catch season in 2015.  Firmly on the upswing but the price will be high. 
5.  Martellus Bennett:  It was a shockingly great season for Martellus Bennett in 2014 with 90 catches which was far and away his most productive pass-catching season.  However the departure of Marc Trestman and the re-emphasis of the run game will likely push the reception totals back down to around 80 this season which is still very good. 
6.  Julius Thomas:  Like with Jimmy Graham, Julius Thomas faces a huge dropoff in QB ability moving from Peyton Manning to second-year man Blake Bortles.  There is no chance Thomas will catch double-digit touchdowns and his receptions were never great to begin with.  Price is still high here though so Thomas is not a great investment. 
7. Jordan Cameron:  I am very interested in the severely downgraded draft price of Jordan Cameron this season as only injury knocked his numbers down a year ago for the Cleveland Browns.  Now Cameron is healthy and entering a potent passing attack in Miami which could easily get him back to top five tight end status.  Buy, buy, buy. 
8.  Tyler Eifert:  Eifert has been tremendous all preseason as he looks primed for a major breakout campaign.  The hands are terrific and QB Andy Dalton is looking his way often in preseason games.  Moving up quick. 
9.  Antonio Gates:  Already facing a four-game suspension, you can handcuff the still productive Gates with backup and very capable Ladarius Green and do very well.  The draft price will be much cheaper and in turn quite attractive under that scenario. 
10.  Zach Ertz:  The 15-catch Week 15 performance from Ertz a year ago won some league titles and hinted at how good Ertz can be, especially in a PPR format.  He is slated for a much higher workload this season and 70-plus catches is very possible.  Trending upward. 
11. Owen Daniels:  Daniels inherits the Julius Thomas role in the Denver Broncos passing attack but the veteran has never been a big TD guy.  Guard against overpaying here as Daniels is not anywhere near the athlete Thomas is. 
12. Jason Witten:  A longtime favorite of this site, we do have to admit that perennial PPR monster Jason Witten is declining sharply.  Witten's past receiving numbers dropped for the third straight year in 2014 which is a clear trend.  The only caveat is that the Dallas Cowboys will likely throw more in 2015 which could ensure a small uptick in receptions this season. 
13. Delanie Walker:  Walker is a good but not great fantasy football tight end.  He has been the victim of terrible QB play in his career but the ceiling seems to be the 65-catch mark which again is good but not great. 
14. Larry Donnell:  It looked like Larry Donnell would be the tight end breakout of 2014 as he went wild in September.  However the sudden rise to stardom of Odell Beckham Jr. negated Donnell's effectiveness to the point he is not looking like a backup guy. 
15. Jordan Reed:  No longer has the threat of Niles Paul to bother him, Jordan Reed just has to have his own perennially injured body cooperate for him to make good on solid potential. 
16.  Josh Hill:  We told you from the very beginning how foolish it was that many had Hill as a top ten fantasy football tight end just simply because he would be starting in place of the traded Jimmy Graham.  Well Sean Payton came out and said veteran Ben Watson would be the main receiver among tight ends, while Hill will block more.  That one was obvious to this peanut stand. 
17. Coby Fleener:  Tough to depend on any Indianapolis Colts tight end due to the massive amount of pass reception sharing involving their group and the wideouts.  Fleener had a very good season in 2014 but Dwayne Allen is back to siphon some work away from his bottom line. 
18. Mychal Rivera:  Derek Carr looks like a player and Mychal Rivera has very good hands that can translate to weekly fantasy football usage in 2015.  Another late round upside option. 
19. Heath Miller:  Old veteran Miller is always there for bye week usage but that is where his value ceases. 
20. Vernon Davis:  As vastly an overrated tight end the last few seasons, the super-athletic Davis is now known more for his physical ability than what he does as a receiver. 
21. Ben Watson:  Even though Watson has been said to be the one who will catch the most passes among tight ends on New Orleans, I have to see it to believe it. 
22. Kyle Rudolph:  Rudolph has shown a nose for the end zone but his health has been disastrous the last two seasons.  Tough to depend on. 
23. Charles Clay:  The Buffalo Bills grossly overpaid for Charles Clay who is another decent but not fantasy football-worthy receiver. 
24. Dwayne Allen:  Has now lost the starting tight end spot in Indy to Coby Fleener which alone makes Dwayne Allen a guy to pass by in your draft. 
25. Jared Cook:  Has shown flashes of ability but zero consistency in his career. 

 

FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: FELIX HERNANDEZ TO BE SKIPPED

Seattle Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon will skip Felix Hernandez' turn in the rotation due to his belief that his ace is fatigued.  Hernandez is coming off a career-worst beatdown and his ERA is more than a little over 3.00 this season with declining rates across the board. 

Analysis:  I have been on record numerous times stating that Hernandez is the next ace we need to watch closely in terms of heavy usage at a young age taking a bite out of his stuff.  The evidence is pretty stark that Hernandez is having at least a little trouble maintaining the velocity he had just a few seasons ago and his K rate is also dropping as well.  Ultimately I think Hernandez will be all right for another season but I also wouldn't be shocked if more incremental decline takes place. 

 

FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: CARLOS CORREA (HAMSTRING) OUT AGAIN SUNDAY

Houston Astros shortstop Carlos Correa is out of the lineup again on Sunday due to the hamstring that flared towards the end of last week.  That will make it four games missed for Correa but he is not in any danger of going on the DL with rosters expanding.

Analysis:  This is starting to get annoying.  Correa has been a monster performer since being recalled but he is not helping his owners right now down the stretch by missing games.  Another day or two and he should be fine. 

 

FANTASY BASEBALL CLOSING TIME: JEAN MACHI NOW CLOSING IN BOSTON

Boston Red Sox interim manager Torey Lovullo said early Sunday that Jean Machi will be the team's new closer over struggling Junichi Tazawa.  While Machi has an ERA over 5.00, Lovullo talked up his recent string of good outings and Tazawa's massive struggles trying to finish games. 

Analysis:  We are very late in the season so every save counts in some leagues but Machi is really stretching that line of thinking.  At the very least we know Tazawa has no chance to close next season and the Red Sox might be starting over there as well given Koji Uehara's age. 

 

FANTASY FOOTBALL PRESEASON GAME 3 WRAPUP: RYAN TANNEHILL LOOKING LIKE A POTENTIAL MONSTER

-Heading into the 2015 fantasy football season, Miami Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill was the best bet among all upstart passers to make the leap to fantasy football superstardom.  Entering into his fourth season and coming off a 27-TD campaign in 2014, Tannehill is now surrounded by a decent array of offensive weapons for the first time in his career.  He showed his immense potential Saturday night in completing 15-of-19 passes for 145 yards and a touchdown, with five completions going to PPR fiend Jarvis Landry.  Tannehill could be the best value play among all quarterbacks in fantasy football this season and Landry could be an immense PPR weapon among wideouts as well.  This should be fun. 

-It was not such a good night for Washington Redskins QB Kirk Cousins who will now start Week 1 for the team in place of the concussed Robert Griffin III.  Cousins completed a solid 20-of-27 passes for 190 yards and one score but he also tossed an ugly interception.  He also nearly threw a second pick and fumbled.  Clearly Cousins has some work to do before he can be depended on but in fantasy football terms he has no value. 

-Duke Johnson was trending earlier in the day when a report came out that he would be the main ballcarrier for the Cleveland Browns this season.  The rookie out of Miami was a big focus of attention for those who take part in fantasy football Saturday as Johnson made his first start after missing the first two contests with a hamstring injury.  It was not much of a debut as Johnson suffered a concussion early in the game and didn't return.  With Terrance West and Isaiah Crowell nothing to write home about, the opportunity is still golden for the PPR-appealing Johnson but the concussion interrupts things until further notice. 

-The Green Bay Packers dodged a major bullet Saturday when it was learned that WR Randall Cobb's shoulder injury was not considered serious.  Just a week after Jordy Nelson was lost for the season with a ripped up ACL, the Pack in no way could stomach another loss of a second top wideout.  Cobb is now expected to be ready for Week 1, with Davante Adam starting opposing him.

-Tre Mason admitted he is dealing with a "minor" hamstring injury that will keep him out of the preseason final next Thursday.  Still Mason is expected to be ready for Week 1 and he has interesting value in all formats given the slow pace of rookie Tood Gurley's return from a torn ACL.  Gurley may not suit up until midseason and even then will split work with Mason. 

-Colin Kaepernick was pretty awful Saturday as he completed only 2-of-5 passes for 13 yards, while running for 53 yards on 3 carries.  We were well ahead of the curve in pounding on Kapernick as a horrible passer and a potential major bust in fantasy football going into 2013 and he has lived up to our assessment over the last two years for sure.  Avoid Kaepenick if you can in all formats. 


 

FANTASY BASEBALL WRAPUP: SATURDAY

Edwin Encarnacion:  3/5 with 3 home runs (29 for season) and 9 RBI while hitting .269.  This is Encarnacion saying "screw you Fantasy Sports Boss.  I can still be a first round guy."  Now up to 90 RBI with the 29 homers, Encarnacion is actually not far off his 2013 and 2014 numbers if he can finish with around a .275 average. 

Russell Martin:  1/4 with his 16th HR while hitting .240.  The average sank all the way down to garbage territory which is where Martin has been for years until a BABIP-infused uptick last season that reeked as a an outlier. 

Drew Hutchinson:  7 IP 6 H 1 ER 0 BB 7 K with an ERA of 4.87.  Hutchinson is up to 13-2 while Max Scherzer is 11-11 with an ERA almost two runs lower.  Wins suck. 

Lance Lynn:  7 IP 6 H 0 ER 2 BB 2 K with an ERA of 2.80.  The WHIP is ugly at 1.33 and the K rate this season is down from 2013 and 2014.  Still you can't argue with any ERA under 3.00 now matter how Lynn got there. 

Mookie Betts:  2/5 with his 12th HR while hitting .273.  Once Betts found his footing in May, he has been every bit the young impact five-tool player we expected.  The future is very bright and I plan on buying heavily next spring. 

Jacob DeGrom:  6 IP 4 H 2 ER 2 BB 10 K with an ERA of 2.32.  DeGrom quickly turned the page on his beating at the hands of the Philadelphia Phillies last time out.  He tired a bit in the sixth which led to the two runs but the 10 K's show DeGrom's arm is just fine in terms of strength. 

Joe Kelly:  7.1 IP 5 H 1 ER 2 BB 2 K with an ERA of 4.94.  Kelly has pitched very well since he came back from injury and stopped obsessing over the radar gun.  When first half stalwarts like Hector Santiago begin hitting the wall in the second half, strong post-July guys like Kelly looks like he will be can be a nice replacement. 

Kevin Kiermaier:  2/4 with his sixth HR and 16th SB while hitting .261.  Kiermaier is the type of five outfielder setup player who you can stick in there and not bother with the entirety of the season.  Solid numbers across the board with little to no fanfare always make great investments. 

Kris Medlen:  5.1 4 H 3 ER 2 BB 5 K with an ERA of 3.51.  I think Medlen makes for a very smart pickup as he is averaging a K/IP since moving into the K.C. rotation and his 1.01 WHIP shows you that he doesn't beat himself with walks or a high hit rate.  Could be a solid impact guy the last month of the season as Medlen's arm is very fresh. 

Wade Davis:  scoreless ninth for his 13th save with an ERA of 0.99.  Davis has vastly outpitched Greg Holland this season who is hurting again.  There has to be a way for Davis to find a closing job somewhere if not in K.C. and under that scenario, he would be a top 3-5 stopper instantly.  NO one has pitched better than Davis the last two seasons in the bullpen. 

Ryan Zimmerman:  1/4 with his 12th HR while hitting .225.  I want to say Zimmerman is capable of being a solid average guy again but this is up for debate considering how ugly he has been in that category this season.  We all know the health never cooperates and so if Zim is going to continue to hit this poorly overall, he is nothing but an injury fill-in option.

Ian Desmond:  2/3 with his 17th HR while hitting .235.  We are way too far into the season now for Desmond not to take himself out of the trainwreck category for 2015.  The power has been good but that will be the only category he fulfilled expectations in.  With Desmond being a major liability two seasons in a row now, a sizable overall downgrade in ranking is warranted. 

Luis Severino:  6 IP 4 H 0 ER 3 BB 5 K with an ERA of 2.17.  Yet another exceptional outing by the kid Severino who is lighting up the radar gun and punching out batters at a high clip.  I am as high on Severino as any other young starter in the game. 

 Nick Hundley:  2/4 with his 10th HR while hitting .299.  So Hundley is the shining example of how you can draft a catcher in the last round or even pick one up off the wire and still be solid back there.  How did those who picked Carlos Santana or Devin Mesoraco do? 

Aramis Ramirez:  1/4 with his 13th HR while hitting .247.  I am obligated to discuss every ARAM home run since he is entering into his last month as a major leaguer which his sad for someone who has been about as big a fan as you can get.  With fellow favorite Torii Hunter also joining Ramirez in retirement, I really need some heavy duty depression medication for a while. 

J.A. Happ:  5.2 IP 5 H 1 ER 1 BB 2 K with an ERA of 1.98 with Pittsburgh.  Happ has always been somewhat useful in shorts spurts which is happening right now.  He has a tough delivery for a hitter to pick up initially so the switch in leagues makes it not so much of a shock he is doing well in his young foray with the Pirates.  Ride it out in NL-only formats and be VERY carful streaming Happ in mixers. 

Steve Pearce:  1/4 with his 9th HR while hitting .232.  Remember when Pearce was everyone's darling last year and this winter I told you to avoid him altogether due to how fluky it was?  I don't remember the former but I remember the latter. 

Adrian Beltre:  2/4 with his 13th HR while hitting .272.  Beltre is making his numbers at least somewhat respectable but he is now barely useful in even AL-only formats given the massive infusion of third base talent this season.

Stephen Vogt:  3/3 with his 17th HR while hitting .264.  Lots of people have jumped ship which includes yours truly as Vogt was Joc Pederson bad since the Break.  Fatigue no doubt is an issue as Vogt is catching in his first full major league season but his second half fade will just make him that much affordable next season which is the silver lining in this. 

Jhoulys Chacin:  7 IP 5 H 2 ER 2 BB 6 K with an ERA of 2.70.  Hey Chacin is out of Colorado!!!!  Why the heck not under that scenario?  Guy has good stuff and been moderately successful even in the thin air out West. 

Mike Fiers:  6 IP 3 H 1 ER 3 BB 5 K with an ERA of 2.25 in Houston.  I guess now we have to set our watches to Fiers turning into Cy Young once the calendar flips to August.  Third time in the last four seasons now.

Jay Bruce:  3/5 with his 19th HR while hitting .233.  Bruce staying put in Cincy and not being dealt to the New York Mets was very good for him in terms of ballpark but overall the guy is still nothing but a seriously flawed slugger. 

Joey Votto:  3/5 with his 25th HR while hitting .309.  Votto looks determined to reach 30 home runs for the second time in his career amid this terrific comeback campaign.  Has pushed back past the Albert Pujols and Adrian Gonzalez' of the world.

Todd Frazier:  2/4 with his 30th HR while hitting .264.  Frazier is a .265 hitter through and through so we accept that less than stellar mark in return for the massive power and decent speed.  Yes please. 

Kole Calhoun:  1/5 with his 20th HR while hitting .261. Another quietly solid season from Calhoun whose power is better than I ever anticipated.  Another guy who if you accept the lack of speed, can really help you. 

Yan Gomes:  1/3 with his 9th HR while hitting .221.  I am willing to give Gomes a mulligan on his 2015 as he got hurt early on, missed six weeks, and never was able to get into a groove which his very trouble for a young hitter. 

Kyle Seager:  2/5 with his 20th HR while hitting .259.  Thank goodness Seager won't be retiring anytime soon because I can't take the loss of another favorite.

 

Saturday, August 29, 2015

FANTASY FOOTBALL BREAKING NEWS: RANDALL COBB FORCED OUT WITH SHOULDER INJURY

The hits keep on coming for the Green Bay Packers receiving corps after Randall Cobb was forced out of the team's preseason game Saturday night with a shoulder injury.  Cobb injured the shoulder trying to make a catch on the Packers' opening drive and immediately went to the locker room for testing.  This just a week after Jordy Nelson was lost for the season with a torn ACL.

Analysis:  Unbelievable.  Cobb was looking like a monster fantasy football wideout this season with Nelson out but now his status for Week 1 could be in doubt.  Jeff Janis and Ty Montgomery all of a sudden look more promising for fantasy purposes.  Stay tuned for an update on Cobb. 

 

2015 FANTASY FOOTBALL UPDATED RUNNING BACK RANKINGS

With the season fast approaching, now is the time to update our running back rankings for 2015 again. 

1.  Eddie Lacy:  Tough call between Lacy and Jamaal Charles but the Packers bruising back gets the nod due to the better chance of staying healthy with his bigger frame.
2.  Jamaal Charles:  Charles was hobbled for most of 2014 but was still ridiculously productive both running and catching the football.  Remains the focal point of K.C. offense and for career his average per carry is over 5.0 which is crazy.
3.  Marshawn Lynch:  Amazing durability and dependability here despite Lynch getting a bit up there in age.  Has rushed for 11, 12, and 13 touchdowns the last three seasons. 
4.  Adrian Peterson:  Yes Peterson is old by running back standards at 30 but he has a full season off to get refreshed and was still at the top of his game prior to 2014's suspension.  Could be primed for monster comeback.
5.  Le'Veon Bell:  Would have been the top player in all fantasy football drafts if not for the two game suspension for last year's marijuana bust.  Very tough using a first round pick on a guy who already has 3 games chopped off his mantle and getting off to a good start is extremely crucial in fantasy football where a season can be lost in September. 
6.  Matt Forte:  Forte set the running back record for receptions last season with 102 but count on that numbers being cut drastically as Marc Trestman is no longer calling the plays.  John Fox likes to run the football however so Forte will still get his numbers. Getting a bit up there at 29 but Forte should be good for another big season and is especially valuable in PPR setups.
7.  DeMarco Murray:  You might think this is a very low ranking but the track record of backs coming off such crazy usage like Murray had a year ago is almost always a big negative.  In addition, Murray will cede more than a few carries to Ryan Matthews.  Big injury risk here.
8.  LeSean McCoy:  Hamstring injury considered minor but already there is concern about whether or not McCoy can still shoulder a high workload.  Falling behind both Forte and Murray for now as a result. 
9.  Jeremy Hill:  Hill was a right there with C.J. Anderson and Justin Forsett as the best running back values in all of fantasy football in 2014.  This Marshawn Lynch clone will do a nice impersonation of his counterpart, right on down to the power running and high TD totals.  Downgrade a bit in PPR as Giovani Bernard remains to play on third down.
10. C.J. Anderson:  Continuing chatter going on in Denver about Ronnie Hillman playing more than a backup role which is concerning for all Anderson owners.  Have been on record all summer saying I am not paying for the 2014 breakout as Anderson's YPC dropped under 4.0 the last month as opposing defenses got a read on him.  Volatile. 
11. Justin Forsett:  I am a huge fan of Forsett who is now set to be the Matt Forte monster PPR back in Marc Trestman's offense for the Baltimore Ravens.  This after Forsett was a huge value play in taking over the running back job for the team a year ago.  Bid agrresively. 
12. Lamer Miller:  Miller is a guy who always seems to leave you wanting more despite some solid play both in the running and receiving game.  The Miami Dolphins also look like a passing outfit this season which keeps Miller as a RB 2.
13. Mark Ingram:  Timed his best season on the eve of free agency as Ingram's power running was impressive.  Better yet, Ingram even caught some passes to make him at least a non-zero in PPR. 
14. Frank Gore:  Gore was underutilized as a receiver with the San Francisco 49ers and he lands in a great spot to resurrect that part of his game in Indianapolis with the Colts.  The veteran back continued to run very well into his 30'as also and one more solid RB 2 season is likely. 
15. Alfred Morris:  Matt Jones has been very impressive this summer and he can catch the football unlike Morris.  However Morris has been extremely productive and durable so he will get his share.  Strictly just a standard league guy. 
16. Melvin Gordon:  Gordon is a guy we called the "next Ryan Matthews" in terms of a rookie getting way more hype than he should.  The kid has potential but he can't catch the football, has been horrendous in preseason games, and seems to lack instincts.  Could be ugly early. 
17. Carlos Hyde:  Meet the new Alfred Morris.  A power runner who can't catch the football. 
18. Jonathan Stewart:  As long as Stewart can remain somewhat healthy, the numbers will make the grade as a RB 2.  Stewart is a very good runner who also can catch the football.
19. Latavius Murray:  Intriguing. Murray has speed to burn but Roy Helu will likely get a majority of the available catches.
20. Joique Bell:  Bell is getting major heat from TWO rookies and he has been a health mess all summer.  Stock falling as fast as any other prospective number 1 back not named Arian Foster. 
21. LeGarrette Blount:  Blount has struggled everywhere but New England but his power running has been useful for Bill Belichick.  Now well into his career, Blount is who he is which is only an asset in standard setups. 
22. Andre Ellington:  We all know that Ellington can't make it physically as a full-time back due to his slight frame.  Think Giovani Bernard here as a decent enough PPR play but a bench option in standard.
23. Giovani Bernard:  Big letdown for Bernard in 2014 as the first round pick went splat as Jeremy Hill proved to be the much better runner.  Bernard still made his presence felt in PPR formats however so keep him in mind there.
24. T.J. Yeldon:  Denard Robinson did more than enough in his impressive debut as a runner a year ago to stay relevant but Yeldon is the guy who will get goal-line work and he can catch as well.  Slepeer. 
25. Todd Gurley:  It won't be until October before Gurley gets up to speed as he makes his way back from a torn ACL but meet the new Jamaal Charles. 
26. Devonte Freeman:  It will be Freeman and not Tevin Coleman who will start at running back for the Atlanta Falcons and it is deserved as the speedster can break big plays and catch the ball. 
27. C.J. Spiller:  Could be a big PPR weapon in New Orleans but Mark Ingram will handle most of the running duties.
28. Shane Vereen:  PPR plug only as Vereen will be used like a wideout in the New York Giant offense.
29. Rashad Jennings:  Was having a nice September into October before injuries derailed things.  Andre Williams did not impress in Jennings' place so the latter figures to lead the Giants in rushing with some PPR value being part of the deal also. 
30.  Arian Foster:  Remains the rare workhorse back for the Houston Texans but the realization is that Foster can only get so many carries in a game before his legs start barking.  Still Foster had a major comeback season a year ago in averaging 4.8 per carry but he did also miss three games with injury. 
 

FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: CARLOS CORREA (HAMSTRING) OUT AGAIN SATURDAY

Houston Astros shortstop Carlos Correa is out of the lineup again on Saturday with ongoing soreness in his left hamstring.  Correa also sat out Friday with the soreness but is still listed as just day-to-day. 

Analysis:  Correa has been the real deal and has monster fantasy baseball potential at a very shallow position.  He already is in line to be a second round pick in 2016. 

 

FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: MIGUEL SANO (HAMSTRING) RETURNS TO LINEUP SAT.

Minnesota Twins third baseman Miguel Sano is back in the lineup after missing Friday with a sore hamstring. 

Analysis:  Sano has been terrific in his initial foray into the major leagues, hitting for the advertised power and also posting a useful average.  The future looks very bright but we still have Sano a clear notch or two below the Josh Donaldson's, Manny Machado's, Todd Frazier's, and Nolan Arrenado's of the world. 

 

FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: METS MOVING CLOSE TO PICKING UP RELIEVER

The New York Mets are moving close to announcing a deal for a relief pitcher according to multiple reports.  With the bridge to setup man Tyler Clippard and closer Jeurys Familia being a big problem area for the team heading down the stretch, GM Sandy Alderson has been working nonstop to add another arm before the August 31 deadline for a player to be eligible for the postseason. 

Analysis:  Not hearing anything about Craig Kimbrel but Francisco Rodriguez is a name who has come up repeatedly with the Mets.  Stay tuned. 

 

FANTASY FOOTBALL THIRD PRESEASON GAME WRAPUP: T.J. YELDON WORKS AS WORKHORSE BACK

Third preseason games are always the ones to focus on the most as these are dress rehearsals for the real thing in Week 1.  Let's get right to the news:

-After hardly playing the first two games, the Jacksonville Jaguars unleashed rookie back T.J. Yeldon with the starters Friday night.  Yeldon struggled as he ran for only 10 yards on 8 carries but he did score a touchdown and catch a pass.  The former Alabama star has been plagued by a finger injury in camp and looked tentative and rusty with the football.  Still the positives to take out of this is that Yeldon was used as the workhorse back and stayed in on third downs.  Yeldon has the ability to be a terrific PPR guy as he can catch the football and he figures to make hay in standard formats as well since he has the size to be the goal0-line runner.  Denard Robinson looks more like a complement which means Yeldon is worth drafting as a RB 2.

-The New England Patriots signed Reggie Wayne due to the fact they might have to place Brandon LaFell on PUP with his ongoing foot injury.  LaFell is still not close to returning as the Pats look like they will begin the season with Wayne joining Danny Amendola and Julian Edelman in three receiver sets. 

-The story of the summer has been the spectacular play of Detroit Lions rookie running back Zach Zenner who locked up a roster spot with his terrific outing Friday night.  Zenner ran for 85 yards and a score on only 8 carries, showing the decisive cuts and burst he has shown all summer long.  He has now averaged almost 6-and-a-half yards per carry and also has caught 6 passes in preseason games.  Joique Bell and fellow rookie Amid Abdullah are ahead of him on the depth chart but Zenner is almost forcing the Lions to have a role for him.  I don't think Zenner is worth picking up right now but he absolutely deserves to be watched from here on out.

-Golden Tate is showing that his career year in 2014 was not based solely on Calvin Johnson's injury last season.  Tate caught three passes for 91 yards and a score Friday night, which was his second score of the summer.  While this is encouraging work by Tate, Megatron is still the major top dog in the Lions passing attack. We all know how fragile Johnson is however so Tate is well worth drafting as a solid WR 2 with the upside to be a 1 if his counterpart gets hurt. 

-Without Kelvin Benjamin, Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton almost has to force the football to tight end Greg Olsen.  Olsen caught 6 balls for 51 yards Friday night.  Rookie WR Devin Funchess will be force fed into the passing game this season but Olsen will be targeted as heavily as any tight end in the game this season.  90 receptions is very possible. 

-Jeremy Maclin is a popular bust candidate this season now that he has left the potent Chip Kelly offense and has a very long history of injuries.  However Maclin seems intent on writing his own narrative as he caught 7 passes for 65 yards and a touchdown Friday night.  QB Alex Smith clearly loves his new receiving toy and it looks like Maclin is primed to make good on his WR 2 draft status.  I always worry about the injuries but even I have to conceded that I am impressed with the way he is being used and is playing right now. 

-The New England Patriots seem like they will give the old Shane Vereen pass catching duties to Brandon Bolden this season, while Jonas Gray handles the running.  Obviously you have to know your league settings before investing in either one with Gray being for standard leagues and Bolden for PPR.  Consider this a minor knock on LeGarrette Blount. 

-Kirk Cousins will start Saturday for the Washington Redskins as Robert Griffin III is still in the concussion protocol.  If this continues on any longer, the Redskins might have no choice but to turn to Cousins going into the season.  Either way you want to avoid this scenario altogether. 



 

FANTASY BASEBALL WRAPUP: FRIDAY

Brian McCann:  1/2 with his 23rd HR while hitting .247.  With all the hype surrounding the comeback seasons of Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira on the New York Yankees, you can argue that McCann has been just as good and maybe even better a player since he mans the rough catcher spot.  The power has been good all season and McCann has fully reaffirmed his status as a durable and dependable top 5 hitting catcher after a tough 2014. 

Didi Gregorious:  4/5 with his 7th HR while hitting .260.  Gregorious has gotten better as the season has gone along and he is moving himself quite close to daily usage if he finish strong.  The numbers are overall still a notch or two below where you want even your shortstop but Gregorious has not humiliated himself in undertaking a truly impossible chore in taking over for Derek Jeter. 

Freddie Freeman:  2/3 with his 15th HR while hitting .281.  Injuries took a major chunk out of Freeman's 2015 season and thus his counting stats but it is another year where the overall numbers will come in below expectations.  The Braves seriously need to give their first baseman some help in addition to Freeman having to stay healthy for 2016. 

Masahiro Tanaka:  7 IP 5 H 3 ER 1 BB 7 K with an ERA of 3.62. Yet another home run given up by Tanaka but overall this one works.  The elbow has not completely torn this season which is always the biggest issue to discuss before anything else but the numbers have also been hurt as well with Tanaka pitching differently to compensate.  The ERA is up more than a little and the home runs have trending upwards all year as Tanaka lays off the four-seam fastball.  Again those who ignored the risks this season overall have to be at least somewhat pleased but that elbow is still a ticking time bomb that can go on any one pitch.

Jose Reyes:  2/4 with his 7th HR and 21st SB while hitting .280.  Reyes is already popping off about not wanting to be in Colorado so a trade in the offseason is likely which removes the major buying point on him being in Coors Field.  In his defense, Reyes is still running well enough on the bases and is doing his 10-HR thing with a useful average.  However do you really want to get aboard this perennial roller coaster when Reyes is another year older?

Carlos Gonzalez:  1/4 with his 31st HR while hitting .272.  Obviously CaGo is heading for his best power season ever which no one saw coming.  He is a completely changed player now with his steals now a clear thing of the past and the average down a notch or two now that Gonzalez is a pure slugger hitting for the fences.  Still he paid off handsomely this season considering the reduced investment cost.

Marcell Ozuna:  2/4 with his 7th HR while hitting .253.  Kicking myself for not picking up Ozuna when he was recalled back from the minors.  Kid has some natural power that for some strange reason was completely missing the first month-plus of the season which led to the demotion.  You get streaks of massive inconsistency with young guys like this and Ozuna at the very least is swinging the pendulum the other way now.

Max Scherzer:  7 IP 6 H 4 ER 0 BB 8 K with an ERA of 2.88.  The guy is now 11-11 when his ratios say he should be something like 15-6.  Do away with the wins category.  Should not be any stat based a great deal on luck in fantasy baseball. 

Ian Kinsler:  2/4 with his 9th HR while hitting .306.  Late flurry from Kinsler as he tries to convince us all to give him one more try in 2016.  Age has changed Kinsler as well, taking away the steals but his swing has gotten more compact as he reached his 30's which boosted the average.  No one will want him a year from now as we all instinctively look for the young and flashy.  By the look of it however Kinsler seems like he can be a solid and cheap investment for one more season.

Troy Tulowitzki:  1/3 with his 4th HR with Toronto while hitting .229 there.  Tulo is hitting for good power as expected going from Coors Field to an equally potent Rogers Center but the average has not been there as he likely is dealing with a learning curve against AL Pitching.  With Hanley Ramirez now out of the shortstop picture for 2016, Tulo has competition only from Carlos Correa for the top spot at the position.  Even staying relatively healthy for once in his lifetime, Tulowitzki in on pace to post his lowest average and power in years.  Age?  Hip surgery effects? 

Josh Donaldson:  1/4 with his 35th HR while hitting .296.  With Mike Trout of all people not able to get out of his way recently, they are already engraving Donaldson's name on the AL MVP trophy. 

Jose Bautista:  2/3 with his 31st HR while hitting .246.  Boy this lineup is impossible.  Any investment in Bautista this season came out in the profit column after he passed 30 home runs yet again.  Remains among the premier power guys in the game and of course that stat can  last into the early 40's but at the expense of the average. 

Anthony Rizzo:  1/4 with his 26th HR while hitting .287.  Add Rizzo to the stable of guys who you can write their numbers in ink every season.

Clayton Kershaw:  8 IP 3 H 1 ER 1 BB 14 K with an ERA of 2.24.  Kershaw looked like he wanted to reach the hallowed 300-K mark in this game alone. 

Andrew Heaney:  6 IP 6 H 0 ER 1 BB 3 K with an ERA of 3.11.  Heaney got his head beat in his last start but it came against Toronto which automatically gets thrown out.  Told you all not to panic there as Heaney has been as good as advertised in terms of his tiny walk rate and solid array of stuff.  Looks like a top SP 3 with the chance to be a 2 if the K rate can tick up going forward. 

Trevor Bauer:  8 IP 5 H 1 ER 3 BB 7 K with an ERA of 4.31.  The Riddle of Trevor Bauer continues unabated. 

 Justin Upton:  1/4 with his 23rd HR while hitting .256.  We can firmly now stop with any Justin Upton ceiling talk as he has reached the sage and stage of his career where he is what he is.  That is a mediocre average slugger who will finish between 25 and 30 home runs which is very good for a top-end outfielder 2 but we expected so much more. 

Cameron Rupp:  1/3 with his 7th HR while hitting .255.  Rupp is playing more and more and it would be no shock if he were the starter the rest of the way and into 2016.  The guy is massive and has natural power to go with it.  Interesting as a catcher 2 with the upside to go a Wellington Castillo in 2016. 

Aaron Nola:  7 IP 2 H 1 ER 2 BB 6 K with an ERA of 3.26.  Keep this in the proper context but Nola reminds me of another Jacob DeGrom.  With the Phillies being so bad, there is not a lot of talk about Nola as he is slipping through the fantasy baseball cracks since many are already onto fantasy football.  Shaping up as a major sleeper that won't be fought over in your league for next season.

Marlon Byrd:  1/5 with his 22nd HR while hitting .238.  Byrd is adapting nicely to San Fran and is still hitting home runs at a high rate despite moving to a prime pitcher's park.  Some guys have power no mater the park and Byrd qualifies there. 

Michael Wacha:  6 IP 6 H 0 ER 2 BB 6 K with an ERA of 2.69.  Wacha gave up four runs but all were unearned but he put a lot of guys on base so this outing looks better than it was.  Still waiting for the late fade but so far Wacha making me eat crow on that prediction.  As always though, you stick with the trends and ignore the outliers. 

Paul Goldschmidt:  1/4 with his 26th HR while hitting .328.  Goldschmidt needs to get a few more home runs to seriously go for the Triple Crown but 98 RBI at this juncture with that batting title average is crazy.  I would even venture to say I would take Goldschmidt over Miguel Cabrera going forward given the age difference and recent stat explosion by the Arizona first baseman. 

Shin-Soo Choo:  1/4 with his 16th HR while hitting .248.  Choo is now so boring that it would not surprise me in the least if he doesn't get drafted next season.

Cole Hamels:  8 IP 2 H 1 ER 4 BB 10 K with an ERA of 3.89.  Very good to see Hamels dominate here as Texas of course will be his home for a full season in 2016.  He was atrocious prior to this which scares me in terms of investing for next season but Hamels was still a major ace in a launching pad in Philadelphia so don't go overboard with any concern. 

Raisel Iglesias:  7 IP 4 H 3 ER 2 BB 10 K with an ERA of 3.92.  Get this guy onto your roster.  Over his last four starts, Iglesias has struck out 8, 3, 13, and 10 batters.  The Cuban has an electric arm that is capable of punching out a ton of guys like he currently is doing and the control is decent enough for a young kid as well.  Very high upside and one who somehow didn't have the pomp and circumstance that other Cuban imports had when he arrived to the majors. 

Taylor Jungmann:  6 IP 3 H 0 ER 3 BB 5 K with an ERA of 2.48.  Earlier I said that Andrew Heaney's high minor league ERA was a product of him being bored and that he would take off whne promoted which he has.  I guess I should have said the same about Jungmann although he was not considered much of a prospect unlike Heaney.  Call him the new Mike Fiers in terms of an unheralded Milwaukee minor league pitcher coming up and pitching shockingly great. 

Kyle Seager:  3/4 with his 19th HR while hitting .258.  Seager gets knocked too much about the average but his power is terrific and he is incredibly durable.  You get everything you paid for when it comes to investing in Seager. 

Franklin Gutierrez:  3/3 with his 10th HR while hitting .319.  Of course he hit another home run.  This is Frankline "Freakin Gutierrez.  Overnight fantasy baseball superstar.  No explanation other than heart. 

Kendrys Morales:  2/4 with his 15th HR while hitting .287.  Now up to 89 RBI as Morales has been a tremendous investment.  Sure the power has never come back to pre-leg injury levels but Morales is a keeper for the Royals and will remain locked into one of the better RBI spots in the game for 2016. 

David Ortiz:  2/3 with his 27th HR while hitting .263.  Ortiz has hit very well since the Break and really the only thing up for debate now is whether or not he gets into the Hall of Fame. 

Jackie Bradley Jr.:  2/4 with his 6th HR while hitting .261.  Bradley is starting to get his things together as a major leaguer but we do have to be careful with guys who produce when the games mean nothing.  Athleticism is tremendous and the power developing.  Now Bradley just has to show he can hit and make a Dee Gordon jump.

Blake Swihart:  2/4 with his second HR and second SB while hitting .275.  Swihart did an inside-the-park home run despite the fact the umpires missed the baseball clearing the fence.  Still the speed was impressive, especially for a catcher and Swihart has quietly hit very well as a rookie.  I will be very heavily in on this next season. 

Matt Harvey:  6 IP 2 H 0 ER 1 BB 8 K with an ERA of 2.48.  Harvey has been virtually unhittable since the end of July and the recent extra layoff had no effect on him. 

Henry Owens:  5 IP 5 H 1 ER 4 BB 6 K with an ERA of 4.03.  Not totally impressed yet with Owens who is not showing any control but the K rate is decent.  Still a bright future from a kid who was considered a top prospect for awhile. 

 

Friday, August 28, 2015

FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING CLOSER NEWS: GLEN PERKINS WON'T CLOSE RIGHT AWAY

Minnesota Twins manager Paul Molitor said late Friday that closer Glen Perkins would not pitch right away in his return to pitching, as he first has to prove he is healthy.  Kevin Jepsen will continue to finish games in Perkins' place. 

Analysis:  Nothing to see here as Perkins will be back closing by the end of the weekend as long as he shows he is all right.  Jepsen is worth holding onto for another few days but his value is likely going to completely vanish. 

 

FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: HANLEY RAMIREZ NOW BATTLING SHOUDER FATIGUE

Boston Red Sox outfielder Hanley Ramirez is now battling right shoulder fatigue and he is sitting out of Friday's game because of it.  Ramirez has battled a vast array of aches and all pains all season but has still managed to avoid the DL.  The same likely holds true here as Ramirez is just considered day-to-day. 

Analysis:  Ramirez has hit for big power this season for the Red Sox but things have changed overall.  For one, Ramirez is no longer going to have shortstop eligibility after this season and he will move to first base for 2016.  Again the power has been good but Ramirez' average continues to sink and he is no longer a steals guy. 

FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: JACOBY ELLSBURY (HIP) BACK IN LINEUP FRIDAY

New York Yankees outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury is back in the lineup on Friday after he sat out Wednesday with hip pain.  Ellsbury injured the hip trying to make a diving catch in Tuesday's game but he felt much improvement prior to Friday which allowed him to return.

Analysis:  It has been another injury-marred season for Ellsbury who no longer hits for any power and his stolen bases have been slipping at 32.  Considering how he is one of the most injury-prone players in the game, there really is not much appeal anymore in terms of drafting him going forward. 

 

FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: YANKS DISCUSSING PLACING MARK TEIXEIRA (SHIN) ON DL

New York Yankees first baseman Mark Texeira is out of the lineup again on Friday and will now head for further testing on his sore shin that could lead to a DL stint.  After returning for one game Tuesday, Teixeira once again felt pain in his shin that was hit by a foul ball last two Mondays ago. 

Analysis:  This is ridiculous.  The Yankees might have really bungled this if in fact a fracture is found which is the fear according to a team source.  Texeira is still in a bunch of pain which is leading the Yanks to thinking this is something more serious than a bruise.  Prior to the injury Texeira was having an MVP-caliber season with 31 home runs and being near or at the lead of the league in RBI but this is another reminder of why the veteran was a waiver guy in some leagues prior to 2015. 

 

FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: DENARD SPAN DONE FOR 2015 DUE TO HIP SURGERY

Washington Nationals outfielder Denard Span is done for 2015 after it was learned he would need to undergo season-ending hip surgery.  After Span spent a large chunk of the season on the DL with back trouble, the hip began to flare over the last week.  The team thinks the hip and back were related to one another which warranted the surgery.

Analysis:  What a disaster of a season for Span and it had nothing to do with anything that happened on the field as he hit well when he was in the lineup.  A pending free agent, there is no telling what the hip surgery will do for his market value.  Cut him loose in all formats. 

 

2015 FANTASY FOOTBALL UPDATED QB RANKINGS

It is time to update the 2015 fantasy football quarterback rankings as the season is now just two weeks away. 

1.  Andrew Luck:  After the injury to Jordy Nelson, the debate between Andrew Luck and Aaron Rodgers at the top of the QB heap is a moot point. 
2.  Aaron Rodgers:  Yes the loss of Nelson is huge but Davante Adams is very capable of picking up the slack opposite Randall Cobb.  Rodgers is so great it doesn't really matter who he gets to throw to like we have seen for years with Tom Brady in New England. 
3.  Peyton Manning:  Manning saying he can't feel the tips of his fingers on his throwing hand is another remind of how fragile the 39-year-old is and that he carries big bust potential.  The weapons remain though and Manning can still toss 30 scores in his sleep. 
4.  Drew Brees:  The trends are all going in the wrong direction for Brees whose TD's have gone from 43 to 39 to 33 the last three seasons and now he goes into 2015 without top targets Jimmy Graham and Kenny Stills.  Sean Peyton will continue to throw it all day though and Brees' extreme durability counts for something extra at the draft table. 
5.  Ben Roethlisberger:  I really am impressed with how well Roethlisberger has thrown the football the last two seasons as he has put himself in the upper tier of fantasy football passers but it could be a rough early going with out Le'Veon Bell and Martavis Bryant. 
6.  Russell Wilson:  I am still not on board here like the rest of the fantasy football community as Wilson only three 452 passes in 2014 which puts a lot of pressure on his raw TD totals.  Where Wilson makes hay is on the ground where he ran for 849 yards and 6 scores in a RB 2 performance at QB. 
7.  Matt Ryan:  The pass-happy offense of Dirk Kotter is now in Tampa Bay but Ryan will still be permitted to throw it all game with Roddy White and Julio Jones out wide.  Over the last three seasons Ryan has thrown for 32, 26, and 28 touchdowns while going for 4,500 yards or more in each.  All of this was accomplished despite some of the worst offensive line play in the league.  The best part is that Ryan's draft price is still not reflected in his numbers.  Will likely end up on my roster again.
8.  Eli Manning:  Manning is a guy who is radioactive to many due to the high amount of interceptions he has thrown in his career but there is no denying the amazing arsenal of weapons he has for 2015 with Odell Beckham Jr. and Victor Cruz being joined by PPR gem Shane Vereen.  The value could be tremendous here.
9.  Tony Romo:  Despite DeMarco Murray and the run game putting up all types of numbers last season for the Dallas Cowboys, Tony Romo had his most efficient QB season ever in tossing 34 scores against only 9 picks.  He will have to throw it a whole bunch more in 2015 now that Murray is in Philadelphia and like with Matt Ryan, Romo is annually one of the best bang-for-your-draft-bucks passers.
10. Ryan Tannehill:  I had Tannehill as a prime sleeper heading into 2014 and the result was a career-high total of 27 touchdowns and 4,045 yards.  Tannehill now gets pass-catching tight end Jordan Cameron and Kenny Stills joining the developing Jarvis Landry to form a potent passing attack that could net 30 scores.
11. Tom Brady:  Still no clarity on the Deflategate saga but rumors continue to swirl that Brady is more likely to get let off than serve four games.  Will be his usual excellent self whenever he does return and again pairing Brady with Sam Bradford and the latter's soft early schedule is the way to go. 
12. Philip Rivers:  Not sure why some continue to knock Philip Rivers since he has tossed 32 and 31 touchdowns over the last two seasons in a rejuvenated San Diego offense.  The fact you can get Rivers for the price of a QB 2 makes him the perfect guy to target if you stock up early on backs and receivers.
13. Matthew Stafford:  Two of the last three years Matthew Stafford has earned the wrath of his owners in throwing less than 25 touchdowns, while also tossing his share of picks.  Stafford tends to throw into coverage way too often and panics easily when the rush gets to him.  Also has shown a tendency to melt down in December which is when you need your QB at his best.  Not for me.
14 Teddy Bridgewater:  Bridgewater has been tremendous all summer and his superb accuracy and new infusion of offensive weapons could turn him into a major QB weapon this season.  Moving up steadily. 
15. Sam Bradford:  Coming off yet another serious injury, Sam Bradford would be a non-story if not for the fact he gets to operate the Chip Kelly-led Philadelphia Eagles offense.  This is the same offense that turned mediocre talents like Nick Foles and Mark Sanchez into QB 1's in fantasy football and the same is likely in play for Bradford in 2015 if he can stay in one piece.  Could be the biggest value among all QB's under that scenario.
16. Cam Newton:  I already was not a fan of Cam Newton and that is reinforced even more now that he has lost number 1 wideout Kelvin Benjamin for the season.  Unlike with Aaron Rodgers, Newton is not skilled enough as a passer to remain as effective without Benjamin. 
17. Jay Cutler:  There is not a QB in all of fantasy football who elicits more disgust than the veteran Cutler whose penchant for turnovers is well-documented.  He actually got benched in favor of Casey Clausen of all people toward the end of last season despite statistically one of his best seasons with 28 touchdowns.  Still Marc Trestman took his pass-happy offense to Baltimore and in his place is the run-loving John Fox.
18. Joe Flacco:  27 touchdowns is never anything to sneeze at but the veteran Flacco has been a longtime example of a better real-life QB than a fantasy football one. 
19. Carson Palmer:  Palmer has played well in the preseason after coming back from his second torn ACL in his knee.  The weaponry is tremendous here and Palmer at the very least should be considered one of the very best backup QB's in fantasy football this season. 
20 Andy Dalton:  With run-loving Hue Jackson in town as the OC, Dalton's numbers cratered last season and won't likely go back up in 2015.  Throws way too many interceptions as well to be trusted as anything but a backup guy.
21. Nick Foles:  It was a very quick descent for Nick Foles as he went from the 2013 QB darling to a 2014 complete bust.  Chip Kelly threw in the towel on Foles in dealing him to St. Louis and the new locale is a bad fantasy football matchup due to the run-loving ways of Jeff Fisher. 
22. Derek Carr:  Like with Teddy Bridgewater, Derek Carr was very good as a rookie in 2014 with 21 TD's and 12 INT's.  He gets a new and maybe spectacular toy in rookie WR Amari Cooper but Carr needs to improve on his ugly 5.46 YPA.
23. Robert Griffin III:  Now a pariah in many fantasy football circles, the physically-challenged RG3 is looking to salvage his fledgling career in 2015.  His head coach doesn't trust him which is already a major issue and GRiffin's athleticism has not been on par since his knee injury as a rookie.
24. Colin Kaepernick:  It was another step back for Kaepernick in 2014 as he showed no ability to throw the football consistently and go through is progressions.  The 49ers will continue to run all day long and when combined with the passing shortcomings, Kaepernick is nothing but a speculative backup. 
25. Alex Smith:  With no passing scores to a wideout last season, there really is no other stat that tells you not to own Alex Smith in almost any format. 
26. Blake Bortles:  The strong-armed Bortles was one big turnover last season for the Jacksonville Jaguars as a rookie but he gets Julius Thomas and the return of Allen Robinson to help him take another step in his development in 2015. 
27. Marcus Mariota:  Never rely on any rookie QB in fantasy football and that includes the speedy Mariota.  If you are so inclined to do so, Mariota is more of an asset than Jameis Winston due to his running ability. 
28. Jameis Winston:  There will be growing pains for sure but Jameis Winston has two top receivers in Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson to help speed up his rookie learning curve. 
29. Brian Hoyer:  Named the starter by Cleveland, you really got to be desperate to even bother here.  Decent enough passer but Hoyer's best case scenario is 20 touchdowns. 
30. Ryan Fitzpatrick:  We all know Fitzpatrick can help in short spurts and the receivers are very good, not to mention a solid running game that should help take pressure off of him.  Still if Fitzpatrick is one of your starters even in two-QB formats you are not trying hard enough. 



FANTASY FOOTBALL BREAKING NEWS: RONNIE HILLMAN TO "GET HIS SHARE" IN DENVER BACKFIELD

Denver Broncos head coach Gary Kubiak has hinted on numerous occasions that RB Ronnie Hillman will get to carry the football this season as a complement to starter C.J. Anderson and now a team official stated early Friday that Hillman will in fact "get his share" in 2015.  Hillman was in the midst of a terrific month of starts in 2014 as the first replacement of Montee Ball before he suffered an injury that opened the door for Anderson to literally run with the starting job the rest of the season. 

Analysis:  Hmmm.  This is not the best news for Anderson owners.  While I have stated that I was very impressed with what Anderson did last season, I also have been on record saying I was not interested in him in 2015 due to the volatility of him having to prove that wasn't a fluke.  Also Anderson averaged less than 4.0 yards per carry the last month of the season and Hillman has better speed.  Something to watch for sure as this takes just a bit of shine off of an Anderson investment. 

 

FANTASY FOOTBALL BREAKING NEWS: COWBOYS WILL USE STRICT COMMITTEE AT RUNNING BACK

The Dallas Cowboys will employ a full running back committee to begin the season, centered on veteran Darren McFadden and youngster Joseph Randle.  With both Randle and McFadden showing they can't physically handle a full workhorse load, head coach Jason Garrett wants to use the timeshare. 

Analysis:  Not good news for those who spent a moderate pick on Randle in thinking he would get the lion's share of carries.  It might be that the Cowboys don't want to put too much pressure on Randle but he has also dealt with some physical woes this summer which call into question how much he can handle. 

 

FANTASY BASEBALL WRAPUP: THURSDAY

Zack Greinke:  7 IP 4 H 0 ER 2 BB 9 K with an ERA of 1.61.  With Jacob DeGrom having been shelled in his last start, Greinke is now clearly the top dog for the NL Cy Young.  It has been a non-stop bonanza of fantasy baseball gems from Greinke, with no letup in sight. 

Anthony DelScalfani:  7 IP 6 H 1 ER 1 BB 6 K with an ERA of 3.84.  For a guy who had no expectations attached to his name coming into the season, DelScalfani has been a very serviceable SP 5 in fantasy baseball circles.  The WHIP is high due to a high hit rate and DelScalfani's ERA should be a half-run higher due to a somewhat lucky BABIP but overall the kid has been solid. 

 Matt Shoemaker:  7.1 IP 1 H 0 ER 1 BB 5 K with an ERA of 4.48.  Shoemaker is the absolute definition of volatility as he can put up a game like this or just as easily give up 6 earned runs in only 2 innings.  The home run tendencies are well documented and the Angels have been fed up with him a few times this season already as he was summoned from the minors for this outing.  A 1.24 WHIP is solid and shows you there is a good amount of skill here but until Shoemaker gets the gopher ball issues somewhat solved, he is tough to depend on.

Marlon Byrd:  1/3 with his 21st HR while hitting .238.  The average continues to sink since Byrd's renaissance with the New York Mets a few seasons ago but the power is holding steady and still quite impressive.  Now squarely just a home run specialist though. 

Madison Bumgarner:  6.1 IP 2 H 1 ER 2 BB 12 K with an ERA of 2.97.  Figures Bumgarner would get better as the season goes along as the postseason is approaching.  I was on this bandwagon well before anyone else going back to 2012 and right now we have to really consider Bumgarner right there as one of the best in the game and at least top five.  You talk about ridiculous, check out the strikeout totals in his last five starts:  9, 12, 14, 6, and 12.  That is Chris Sale/Clayton Kershaw strikeout tallies.  Wow. 

Marco Estrada:  6 IP 4 H 1 ER 3 BB 6 K with an ERA of 3.19.  After giving up four home runs in his two starts leading into this outing, good to see Estrada keep the baseball in the park.  When I talk about Matt Shoemaker, this is where he has to get himself to.  While Estrada still gives up a high amount of home runs, he has made himself into a tremendous starter in 2015 by curbing them somewhat. 

Yordano Ventura:  6 IP 2 H 0 ER 4 BB 11 K with an ERA of 4.41.  Pitching ruled the day on Thursday as Ventura went with the theme.  The arm is electric but Ventura doesn't always get the strikeouts expected due to his fastball sometimes coming in way too straight.  Not a problem for this outing at least. 

Logan Forsythe:  2/4 with his 15th HR while hitting .278.  Forsythe looks primed to finish near or at 20 home runs which is a very solid total for a fantasy baseball second baseman.  Not sure if this is repeatable in 2016 as there could be an outlier aspect to Forsythe's season but that is a story for another day. 

Jayson Werth:  2/4 with his 4th HR while hitting .205.  Werth as been horrific and really is fast becoming a non-entity in fantasy baseball.  Lots of injuries combined with age can do that to a hitter. 

Ryan Zimmerman:  2/4 with his 11th HR while hitting .224.  Another aging and injury-prone Nationals staple who is barely holding on in fantasy baseball circles.  Zimmerman can still hit for power but gone are his days of a .280 average and 25 home runs.  Disappointing early fade. 

Joe Ross:  6 IP 1 H 0 ER 2 BB 7 K with an ERA of 3.24.  Ross is quietly having a tremendous rookie season and should even be the envy of his disappointing brother Tyson.  The control is phenomenal for a young pitcher and the K Rate grades out nicely as well.  All the tools are the for high SP status. 

Pedro Alvarez:  1/3 with his 21st HR while hitting .249.  Nothing to add here that has not already been said 1,000 times about the good power and ugly average. 

Gerrit Cole:  7.1 IP 5 H 1 ER 0 BB 4 K with an ERA of 2.44.  If he wanted to, Cole could have easily punched out 10 batters in this one but as he said in the SI article, the key to his tremendous 2015 breakthrough is that he is pitching more to contact and not overusing the 100-mph fastball.  Now up to 15 wins, Cole is the only one other than DeGrom and Clayton Kershaw in the NL who is even in the Cy Young picture with Greinke.
 
Brandon Moss:  1/2 with his first St. Louis home run while hitting .180 since the trade.  Needless to say, this one has not worked out well for the Cards as Moss has been in town for a month now. 

Carlos Martinez:  6 IP 4 H 3 R 2 BB 6 K with an ERA of 2.91.  The 1.27 WHIP shows there has been some strand rate and BABIP luck but Martinez' arm is a missile that piles up the K's.  There has been no major signs of control trouble like was feared initially with them move to the rotation which means the upward movement to upper tier status will continue on.

Franklin Gutierrez:  1/3 with his 9th HR while hitting .300.  There is something to be said for a veteran who can swing free and easy knowing this is possibly his last chance to stick in the majors.  Now hitting .304 with 8 home runs since the break, Gutierrez is the epitome of an unexpected second half title push player.

Carlos Rodon:  6 IP 3 H 2 ER 3 BB 5 K with an ERA of 4.15.  If you didn't know any better, you would think this was 2015's Danny Salazar.  The paths of both are very similar with their cannon arms and lack of utter control when first debuting.  Rodon though seems to have figured things out quicker than Salazar and you would have a tough time naming four other young pitchers who have more upside than this kid. 

Yoenis Cespedes:  1/6 with his 26th HR while hitting .295.  Cespedes falling right in line with the Mets lineup overnight turning into Murders' Row.  Nothing more to add than what I already stated in the feature Thursday. 

Travis D'Arnaud:  1/5 with his 9th HR while hitting .278.  D'Arnaud is hitting some titanic shots lately and once again his power run has come after a few weeks of working off the rust from another DL stint.  The kid is fully capable of posting a Brian McCann-type line with around 25 home runs if he can get his health shizz together but right now you have to go into a relationship with D'Arnaud knowing there will be start and stops along the way. 

Jonathan Niese:  5 ER in 6 IP with an ERA of 3.95.  Niese has been pitching very well over the last two months but all of a sudden he has been ripped in two outings in a row.  Always a not-so-fun roller coaster owning Niese, proceed very carefully his next time out. 

 

Thursday, August 27, 2015

FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: YASIEL PUIG REINJURES HAMSTRING, LIKELY HEADED BACK TO DL

Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig reinjured his hamstring on Thursday and is likely headed back to the DL as a result.  It has been a season filled with health woes for Puig who already has spent time on the DL with the hamstring and also has had some other aches and pains along the way. 

Analysis:  Puig is quickly becoming a guy whose shine and hype is almost completely wearing off.  He has not hit anywhere near how he did as a rookie in 2013 and his bad attitude and brittle body are not winning him any fans.  With the season winding down, you can't wait for Puig to work things out.  Cut him loose.


 

FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: DAVID WRIGHT BACK IN LINEUP THU.

New York Mets third baseman David Wright is back in the lineup Thursday after sitting out Wednesday for a scheduled rest day.  With Wright having just returned from missing nearly four months with spinal stenosis, manager Terry Collins has vowed to give his third baseman a bunch of days off early in his return. 

Analysis:  Get him back in there.  Wright already looks to be in fine form, having smashed a monster home run in his Monday return.  There is no telling how long Wright can stay healthy with the chronic stenosis but ride him for now. 

 

FANTASY FOOTBALL ISSUES: FIRST DEMOTION NOW SUSPENSION CLOUDING MARTAVIS BRYANT

At the start of 2015 NFL training camps, there was quite a bit of excitement surrounding second-year Pittsburgh Steelers big-play wideout Martavis Bryant.  The "other" Clemson rookie came into the NFL a year ago without the fanfare of college teammate Sammy Watkins but Bryant surely made a name for himself as he managed to catch 8 touchdown passes among his 26 receptions.  Thus it stood to reason that Bryant would take a major leap in overall production in Year 2, especially in a suddenly very potent Steelers passing offense.  With superstar Antonio Brown drawing defenders away, Bryant would get the single-coverage to become a potential big-time fantasy football receiver.  As often happens though, stories of grandeur don't always go according to plan. 

The first shoe to drop in all this was the surprising news that Markus Wheaton and not Bryant was running with the starters at the onset of camp.  This development was reinforced by QB Ben Roethlisberger when he publicly stated that he believed Wheaton was headed for a big season.  Bryant continually languished behind Brown and Wheaton on the depth chart which soon included the first two preseason games.  Things ultimately came to head on Thursday when it was revealed the NFL had suspended Bryant for four games due to violating the league's substance abuse policy.  Reports indicate the Steelers knew about the looming suspension even before camp began which is why they quickly moved to have Wheaton start.  Bryant vows to appeal but either way this is another major blow to his fledgling fantasy value.  In turn this is also a boost for Wheaton who is in fact primed for a big season in his own right, especially the first two weeks with both Bryant and RB Le'Veon Bell suspended.  If Wheaton is still available in your league, pick him up right away.  As far as Bryant is concerned, I wouldn't blame you if you simply just cut him loose. 

 

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

FANTASY BASEBALL STATUS REPORT: YOENIS CESPEDES OUTFIELDER NEW YORK METS

For a guy who has been traded three times in the last year, Yoenis Cespedes certainly carries some very valuable thump.  So it goes for the mercurial and sometimes bombastic Cuban outfielder who has made himself right at home in his new locale with the New York Mets, culminating of course with his ridiculous 3 home run game last week against the Colorado Rockies.  Whether it was in Oakland, Boston, Detroit, or now New York, Cespedes has shown above-average power and athletic ability that screams out "five tool player."  In addition, 2015 may just be the very best season we have seen out of Cespedes, at least since his eye-opening debut with the A's back in 2012. So with all that said, let's check in again on Cespedes the player as he and the Mets head to what is shaping up to be a big stretch run.

Before we proceed, let's revisit the impressive numbers Cespedes has already put up going into Wednesday's games:

.295
25 HR
81 RBI
78 R
7 SB

Those numbers are the composite statistics from both his Tigers and Mets tenures this season and needless to say, they make the case once again as Cespedes being a low-end outfielder 1.  It is that designation I had Cespedes under heading into the season, down slightly from the high-outfielder 1 I would have placed him in if he had not bee dealt from the Boston Red Sox and offensively friendly Fenway Park.  Rumors of Cespedes being difficult to manage and a locker room diva short-circuited his stay there though and so he ended up in another major pitcher's park with the Tigers in Comerica.  Despite this, Cespedes began the season on fire and never really let up in terms of hitting home runs consistently leading up to his present status with the Mets.  In fact, Cespedes is just one home run shy of his previous high of 26 that came in his second major league season with the A's in 2013.  In addition, Cespedes has once again filled up both the runs and RBI columns due to his customary hitting in the 3-4-5 spots which has made him a very productive bat in three fantasy baseball ROTO standard categories. 

As far as the other two standard categories are concerned, Cespedes' 7 stolen bases is nothing to write home about, especially when you consider he has been caught 4 times.  For some reason Cespedes lost his ability to steal bases right after his rookie campaign in 2013 when he swiped 16 which heightened expectations of him becoming a monster five tool guy.  Since that time, Cespedes has gone for 7 steals in both 2013 and 2014 and of course that is where he is at right now in 2015.  That means the high single digits are where he is as a player now at the age of nearly 30. 

Now for the average.  The .295 mark Cespedes is at right now would be his best mark since again his rookie .292 average.  When Cespedes first arrived from Cuba, there was rampant talk about his free swinging ways that resulted in a boatload of strikeouts.  That in turn would hurt his batting average going forward was the reasoning.  Well that is exactly what took placed after his rookie season as Cespedes hit a horrendous .240 in 2013 and .262 in 2014.  Strikeouts were a big problem in both of those campaigns as Cespedes whiffed 137 and 128 times respectively.  2015 would appear to be some sort of a breakthrough though for Cespedes on the surface as his .295 mark this late in the season would attest.  However a quick peek at the advanced numbers doesn't bear this out.  For one, Cespedes' current 20.5 percent K Rate is HIGHER than the 19.8 mark from 2014.  So why the higher average?  Simply really.  Cespedes BABIP is currently at a very lucky .332.  Consider that .300 is neutral, Cespede is more of a .275 guy than .295 based on that BABIP. 

When you put it all together, there is no denying the fact Yoenis Cespedes has reinforced the idea of him being a prime outfielder 1 in fantasy baseball.  It will be interesting to see what happens with him at the end of the season in terms of possibly staying with the Mets (not likely) or going somewhere else.  We suggest Colorado seeing as how they are rebuilding and clearly Cespedes likes hitting there.  That my friends would be a transaction we would all salivate over. 

 

FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING CLOSER NEWS: TOM WILHELMSEN NOW THE CLOSER FOR MARINERS

Seattle Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon is back at it again in tinkering with the ninth inning for the team, saying on Wednesday that lefty Tom Wilhelmsen is now the closer instead of the fading Carson Smith.  Wilhelmsen has successfully nailed down his two recent save chances and McClendon said he is going with the hot hand.  The Mariners just recently also cut loose veteran closer Fernando Rodney earlier this past week. 

Analysis:  Pick up Wilhelmsen where available as he is having a very good season and has had some success in the past in the ninth inning.  Carson Smith has a good arm and himself was very solid before his recent struggles and he is still the guy like long-term.  However Wilhelmsen looks like the choice at least until he himself hits a rough stretch. 

 

FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: GEORGE SPRINGER (WRIST) TO BEGIN REHAB ASSIGNMENT THIS WEEKEND

Houston Astros outfielder George Springer is expected to start a rehab assignment this weekend as he nears a return from a fractured wrist that has kept him out since the beginning of July.  Springer has had no pain in the wrist upon taking batting practice over the last week and he will do so again on Friday as a last test before the assignment begins. 

Analysis:  It is going to be like the already in first place Astros made a trade for a top outfield bat when Springer returns.  Before the injury, the second-year Springer was taking a firm leap in production, improving his batting average and contact rates, while also really pushing up his stolen bases.  It is only a matter of time before we see a blockbuster fantasy baseball campaign from Springer and 2016 could be it.