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Thursday, August 31, 2017

2017 FANTASY BASEBALL TRADE FALLOUT: JUSTIN UPTON ENTER WILD CARD HUNT WITH ANGELS

The Detroit Tigers had buyer's remorse almost from the moment they inked free agent outfielder Justin Upton to a six year deal prior to the 2016 season.  While Upton is in the midst of one of his best seasons ever in 2017, the Tigers unloaded his deal on the Los Angeles Angels Thursday for pitching prospect Grayson Long and a player to be named later.  As noted, Upton is having a big year hitting .279 with 28 home runs and 94 RBI for the Tigers and he the Angels were in need of another bat to help them claim a wild card spot.  The big thing with Upton over the years has been his never-ending hot and cold spells that sink those in weekly leagues and drive his overall owners batty.  2017 has not seen that from Upton as the 30-year-old former number 1 pick overall has kept his average in solid territory almost all season.  What has really helped Upton is a very lucky .351 BABIP (way up from .301 a year ago) and if not for that, his horrid 28.3 K/9 which is right in line with what has destroyed his average the last few years.  So without that BABIP luck, Upton would be back to his .250 ways and annoying everyone one of us but his power remains as potent as anyone in fantasy baseball.  It is that category that continues to carry his value and will likely help the Angels have their best chance of reaching the postseason.


2017 FANTASY FOOTBALL ISSUES: ANDREW LUCK CERTAIN TO MISS WEEK 1 AND LIKELY MORE

Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay did his best dodge-and-weaver when meeting with the media on Thursday in terms of the availability of QB Andrew Luck and when reading through the lines, it appears he is a lock to miss Week 1 and maybe more.  Luck continues to come along at a deliberate pace from offseason shoulder surgery and the Colts coaching staff/front office have seemingly made it their mission to be as vague as possible on that front.  A slam-dunk top tier fantasy football quarterback when healthy, the loss of Luck is a HUGE negative for the values of wideouts T.Y. Hilton and Donte Monctief; not to mention tight end Jack Doyle.  If you own any of these three receivers, things are looking grim in terms of their immediate fantasy football outlooks and if Luck misses more than the opener which is looking more likely by the day, then crisis time will be reached.  There will likely be no market for Hilton, Moncrief, or Doyle so your best left to holding them and the same goes for Luck who still has all the talent in the world to be a big-time player if he gets himself right.  For now though, all seems grim here with no end in sight for the trouble.  

2017 FANTASY BASEBALL WRAPUP: WEDNESDAY

Freddie Freeman:  2/5 with his 23rd HR while hitting .319.  There really is nothing to say here that hasn't been said before in terms of Freeman having a tremendous season that may not look like so due to a dip in counting stats due to injury.

Ender Inciarte:  5/5 with 4 RBI and 18th SB in Game 1 while hitting .307.  Believe it nor not Inciarte is one of the very best leadoff hitters in all of fantasy baseball.  Also with some power showing up this season, Inciarte is a quiet five category OF 1.  He then went 3/5 in Game 2 with his 19th SB and hitting .310.

R.A. Dickey:  8 IP 7 H 1 ER 1 BB 9 K with an ERA of 3.91.  More evidence that knucklers have pitch forever.  But you won't ever trust them in fantasy baseball.

Greg Bird:  2/4 with his second HR while hitting .135.  Bird has hit very well since coming off the DL and his power will be the main calling card the rest of the season.  Said to pick him up last week.  
Edwin Encarnacion:  2/4 with his 31st HR while hitting .246.  If you look away from the average, it is the same old Edwin.

Francisco Lindor:  2/5 with his 25th HR while hitting .271.  This is as clear a case of a young hitter growing into his power as I have seen in quite awhile.

Tommy Pham:  2/4 with 2 home runs (19 for season) while hitting .307.  Man where did this power come from?  As good a breakout as anyone in fantasy baseball this season.

Jonathan Villar:  2/4 with his 10th HR while hitting .233.  Does anyone even care anymore what Villar does?  Called that bust.

Domingo Santana:  2/4 with his 22nd HR while hitting .276.  Solid as a rock.

Chase Anderson:  6 IP 2 H 3 ER 2 BB 6 K with an ERA of 2.96.  If someone dropped Anderson in your league while he was injured, pick him up right away as he is continuing with a big breakout season of his own.

Mitch Haniger:  3/4 with his 9th HR while hitting .248.  Yeah the bottom fell out on this potential breakout hitter during the summer.

Trey Mancini:  1/4 with is 23rd HR while hitting .294.  This is one breakout that checks out completely and I will be heavily on in 2018.

Jonathan Schoop:  2/4 with his 30th HR while hitting .306.  Wow.  That's all I got to say.

Nick Castellanos:  3/5 with his 19th HR while hitting .252.  Just doesn't hit enough to make that power stand out enough.

Charlie Blackmon:  1/3 with his 32nd HR while hitting .339.  Yeah it will two Colorado Rockie hitters in Round 1 next season.

Justin Verlander:  6 IP 3 H 1 ER 1 BB 9 K with an ERA of 3.82.  Verlander is doing his best work during the second half once again.  Maybe that is when Kate Upton has time off to be home.

Stephen Strasburg:  9 IP 6 H 0 ER 1 BB 8 K with an ERA of 2.90.  The guy can pitch on the odd times he is healthy.

Rafael Montero:  8.1 IP 3 H 0 ER 4 BB 8 K with an ERA of 5.12.  Yeah just don't do this.

Mike Napoli:  1/5 with his 28th HR while hitting .195.  It is like Joey Gallo has modeled his hitting approach off of this guy.

Dallas Keuchel:  6 ER in 6 IP with an ERA of 2.91.  Bad start no doubt but what we have learned about Keuchel this season is that A: He can pitch like an ace again and B: He can't stay healthy.

Andrew Cashner:  8 IP 3 H 1 ER 0 BB 6 K with an ERA of 3.30.  When we all forecasted great things for Cashner going back to his early San Diego days, pitching to contact like this with a smoke-and-mirrors approach was not what we had in mind.

Hanley Ramirez:  2/4 with his 21st HR while hitting .249.  Boy has Ramirez' body both fallen apart and his average gone into the toilet the last three years.  Age knows no bounds.

Josh Bell:  1/4 with his 23rd HR while hitting .262.  Much respect to the season Bell is having and if even can get back up to .290 with the power uptick he showed in 2017, look out.

Ian Happ:  3/5 with his 20th HR while hitting .252.  I would suspect the ugly average will keep Happ's 2018 fantasy baseball draft price from getting out of hand but then this is what you want if you key in on young and obvious talent such as this kid.

Kyle Schwarber:  2/6 with 2 home runs (24 for season) while hitting .199.  Hey no one ever doubted the power.  It is just that Schwarber is now a younger Mike Napoli.  Kind of removes the excitement I gather when you look at him that way.

Anthony Rizzo:  2/3 with his 31st HR while hitting .282.  With some of the new talent that has burst through this season, there is a chance you maybe get Rizzo in Round 2 in next year's drafts.  As dependable a bat as you can get.

Eddie Rosario:  2/5 with 2 home runs (20 for season) while hitting .292.  Even in Minnesota and Target Field you are getting surprising power contributions.

Jose Berrios:  7 IP 4 H 0 ER 1 BB 11 K with an ERA of 3.80.  It shows you how utterly dominant Berrios is when he has control and is not giving up homers like it is batting practice.  Another one of those "look out" guys if the light bulb goes on and stays on.

Robbie Ray:  6.2 IP 4 H 1 ER 2 BB 10 K with an ERA of 2,97.  Ace pitcher at work.


Wednesday, August 30, 2017

2017 FANTASY BASEBALL STATUS REPORT: BYRON BUXTON OUTFIELDER MINNESOTA TWINS

Could this finally be it?  After those earlier breathless comparisons to Mike Trout and visions of 30/30 numbers on an annual basis, it Minnesota Twins outfielder Byron Buxton finally finding his way to stardom?  Well a three-home run game which Buxton accomplished a few days prior was certainly a loud statement supporting this argument now at the age of 23 and with a few failures at the major league level already under his belt, we could very well be seeing the start of something big.

Now truth be told, I admit I was quite jaded with Buxton coming into the year.  At one time I too bought into the hype on Buxton as a can't miss future five-tool monster and his drafts status as the second pick overall in the 2012 draft certainly suggested such talent.  However it is now quite clear that the Twins rushed Buxton to the major leagues; first giving him the call in 2015.  While Buxton continued to tear up minor league pitching, each time he got a chance with the Twins in 2015 and in 2016, he fell flat on his face under a hail of strikeouts and .200 batting averages.  It was easy to forget just how young Buxton one and we in the fantasy baseball community have gotten used to seeing guys like Carlos Correa, Ryan Braun, and Corey Seager come up and excel from the jump.  Buxton needed a learning curve though and even though he once again started very slow in 2017 (.216 with 5 home runs in the first half), the proverbial light bulb has gone on in the second as he has scorched to the tune of a .330 average with 8 home runs in just 103 at-bats.  Through it all, Buxton has run like crazy with 24 total stolen bases to go with the 13 home runs.  Those are swell power/speed numbers from Buxton who is up to a .249 average.  While the .249 is still very ugly, at least Buxton is on the upswing and the future indeed seems bright again.

In terms of what still needs to improve, Buxton has to curb the nasty 28.4 K/9 rate he is carrying around but a 7.8 BB/9 is decent and will help there.  The power is really taking off now as well and the speed is already quite apparent.  So while Buxton is not a finished product yet, he is getting closer each day.


2017 FANTASY BASEBALL TRADE FALLOUT: MARINERS BRING ABOARD MIKE LEAKE FOR RUN AT PLAYOFF SPOT

The Seattle Mariners made a late August move to bolster the back of their rotation by trading for St. Louis Cardinals veteran Mike Leake.  Leake currently sports a 4.21 ERA and 1.32 WHIP with 103 K's in 154 innings pitched which makes him nothing more than an SP 5 in mixed fantasy baseball leagues but he should help fill innings for the playoff-driving Mariners.  

2017 FANTASY BASEBALL STATUS REPORT: LUKE WEAVER SP ST. LOUIS CARDINALS

Pitching and the St. Louis Cardinals go hand-in-hand wouldn't you say?  While Dave Duncan surely had a lot to do with their tremendous success on that front in the recent past, the team continues to develop top-shelf talent as evidenced by the smashing debut so far of 24-year-old former 2014 first-round pick Luke Weaver.  Weaver just got done putting the finishing touches on a second straight double-digit strikeout game Tuesday night when he punched out 10 Milwaukee Brewers in just 5.2 innings while picking up the win.  Going into a juicy next start versus the San Francisco Giants, Weaver has the following numbers in his first go-round in the majors:

3-1
2.48 ERA
1.17 WHIP
11.17 K/9 rate

Incredible numbers despite a small 29-inning sample size but it speaks to the upside Weaver presents not only for the remainder of 2017 but into 2018 where he surely will be a big fantasy baseball sleeper.  Having dominated at Triple-A prior to his promotion (2.55 ERA), Weaver's has the precious mix of not walking a high number of batters while also punching them out at a very potent pace.  Ride Weaver every time out the rest of the way as this kid seems to be the real deal given the terrific natural talent.


2017 FANTASY FOOTBALL UPDATED RUNNING BACK RANKINGS

1.  David Johnson:  Truly insane power/speed numbers and workload no issue.
2.  Le'Veon Bell:  Threatening holdout but likely will show Week 1.  Insane PPR value but has to kick injury woes.
3.  LeSean McCoy:  Age is in clear Danger Zone but McCoy still dominating touches and is expected to see uptick in receptions.  All signs point to another monster season but it could be the last before the numbers begin to erode some.
4.  Jordan Howard:  I like Howard a bit more than most but will be rare bellcow back and was a rushing machine as a rookie.
5.  Jay Ajayi:  Dolphins plan to use Ajayi in passing game more and when combined with bellcow role, could easily vault into top four.  I have now bumped Ajayi over DeMarco Murray and Melvin Gordon.
6.  Melvin Gordon:  Still lacks in yards per carry but no doubt Gordon took step forward last season.  No more Danny Woodhead around to steal catches.
7.  Devonta Freeman:  If not for Tevin Coleman, would have Freeman top five.  In PPR though he can be moved up a bit.
8.  DeMarco Murray:  Derrick Henry could eat into more work and Murray far from durable which is why I have dropped him a bit.  Not having a good feeling about this setup.
9.  Ezekiel Elliott:  On the surface a 6-game suspension puts Elliott here but who knows how this drama plays out in the courts.
10. Kareem Hunt:  No this is not too high as a bellcow back in an Andy Reid offense.  Hunt is a terrific runner who also caught 41 passes a year ago at Toledo.  Could be the value of the year for those who got him before Spencer Ware's injury.
11. Leonard Fournette:  I am unsure here because I see some trouble here in terms of injuries and being a big back who will take a ton of hits.  Jags will ride him heavily though.
12. Dalvin Cook:  Very explosive back could be instant PPR RB 2 and now the Vikes seem set to launch him as the starter.  Rising fast.
13. Todd Gurley:  Called that one.  Said Gurley would go bust last summer and he came through in a big way to make me look smart.  That one was obvious as Rams O-line a joke and Gurley can't take a hit.  Still avoid.
14. Lamar Miller:  Man everything went wrong last season as Miller went bust.  Lots of us will be gun shy this time around but that could make Miller a value.  However his preseason has been rough and D'Onta Foreman likely will get goal-line work.  Lots of negatives.
15. Marshawn Lynch:  Tough call here as Lynch is a true BEAST but a year off and injury concerns are valid worries.
16. Carlos Hyde:  Has missed about half his NFL games with injury but Hyde actually looks like a decent value as a bellcow back who is improving as a receiver.
17. Ty Montgomery:  Not sure exactly what the Packers have in mind here for Montgomery but the advanced metrics point to how explosive a player he is.  Could go nuts or bomb out.  
18. Christian McCaffrey:  I admit I was a bit too exuberant with my initial ranking of McCaffrey and feel this is a much safer spot to place him in.  Jonathan Stewart will likely take the goal-line work and in standard that hurts him a bit.
19. Isaiah Crowell:  Those in PPR need to knock Crowell down but the guy showed last season he can run effectively.
20. Joe Mixon:  I think there is an excellent chance Mixon emerges as the starter given how slow Gio Bernard's return from torn ACL has gone and the continued ineffectiveness of Jeremy Hill (who also now has a bum ankle).
21. Bilal Powell:  The Jets are trying to shed Matt Forte via trade and may even cut him which would make Powell a high-usage PPR weapon.
22. Mark Ingram:  Is clearly the best back in New Orleans as Adrian Peterson looks to be on fumes but the usage won't be desirable here given the plans of Sean Payton.  Drafty more liberally in PPR but in standards Ingram should be avoided given the setup.
23. Ameer Abdullah:  The Detroit Lions are going to give it another shot with the speedy Abdullah but Theo Riddick remains to steal receptions and maybe goal-line work not a given.
24. Mike Gillislee:  Gillislee takes over the LeGarrette Blount role in New England and we saw with the latter last season how much potential standard league value this can carry.  Still has to fight through the Rex Burkhead threat.
25. Doug Martin:  Talk has been all over the place regarding what the Buc's will do with Martin.  He was a complete disaster last season and has to earn the coaching staff's trust again.  Far from a guarantee, Martin could be a decent reclamation project as a RB 3.
26. Frank Gore:  Gore continues to churn out yardage but count on the Colts beginning to push him aside in 2017.
27. Tevin Coleman:  Very capable handcuff to Devonta Freeman who could easily become top tier guy if injuries strike his teammate.
28. Matt Forte:  The aging veteran is clearly on the downside and should be completely passed by Bilal Powell this season.
29. Paul Perkins:  It has not been a good summer for Perkins and there is a growing threat behind him in Orleans Darkwa.
30. C.J. Anderson:  Boring as hell to own and now has to deal with a resurgent Jamaal Charles.  No thank you.
31. Darren Sproles:  With LeGarrette Blount bombing out this summer, Sproles should be used quite heavily as a pass-catcher and change-of-pace back.  60 receptions not out of the question.
32. Danny Woodhead:  Really loving Woodhead as a top RB 2 in PPR formats with Kenneth Dixon out for 2017 but he already is banged up.
33. Duke Johnson:  The Cleveland Browns have made it no secret they will use Johnson heavily int he passing game so in PPR formats that works as a nice backup.
34. Theo Riddick:  Still capable of 50-plus receptions but nothing in the way of rushing numbers.
35. James White:  The season-ending injury to Julian Edelman should open up some more work in the slot for the very capable receiving skills of James White.
36. Jonathan Stewart:  Remains a decent part of the Carolina offense and will be involved in a likely 50-50 split in work with Christian McCaffrey.
37. Jamaal Charles:  Has a chance to carve out a niche as a pass catching back in the Denver backfield and showed in preseason game 3 he has some explosion back in his legs.  Interesting.
38. Rex Burkhead:  I still can't ignore the fact Bill Belichick himself brought Burkhead aboard.  You would think big plans are in store for the guy.  
39. Adrian Peterson:  Not sure why the Saints even bothered here as Peterson looks done.
40. Eddie Lacy:  Moving up as Lacy is making weight and still has the ability that made him a first round pick not too long ago.
41. Latavius Murray:  Only question here is whether Murray knocks the fantasy football value of Dalvin Cook by stealing goal-line work.  
42. LeGarrette Blount:  Blount has been a joke all summer and really should be behind both Wendell Smallwood and Darren Sproles based on performance in the preseason.
43. C.J. Prosise
44. Rob Kelley:  No one wants to ever own Kelley since he doesn't passes and has little in the way of pure speed but he is a capable RB 4 who can help in a pinch.
45. Gio Bernard
46. Charles Sims
47. Samaje Perine
48. Derrick Henry:  If anything were to happen to the oft-injured DeMarco Murray, look out here.
49. Jacquizz Rodgers
50. Terrance West
51. Dion Lewis
52. Wendell Smallwood
53. Chris Thompson
54. Alvin Kamara
55. Chris Carson:  Still a very crowded backfield in Seattle which makes Carson getting tabbed for a meaningful role difficult.  Boy has he impressed however.


Tuesday, August 29, 2017

2017 FANTASY FOOTBALL ISSUES: COREY DAVIS (HAMSTRING) RETURNS BUT MAY TAKE AWHILE TO CONTRIBUTE

Tennessee Titans rookie wideout Corey Davis had quite a bit of fantasy football hype attached to his name almost from the moment the team used a high first round pick on him in this past spring's NFL Draft in going to an offensively-needy team.  With QB Marcus Mariota knocking on the door to stardom, Davis seemed like a great bet to be a big contributor as a rookie.  Alas Davis' body has not cooperated as he will miss the entire preseason and almost all of training camp due to a stubborn hamstring injury.  Having not practiced since August 3rd, Davis will be ready for Week 1 according to the team but he will likely be brought along slowly which will hurt his initial standing in fantasy football.  With Risard Matthews and Eric Decker ahead of him on the depth chart, Davis may not due to much to move the needle in fantasy football for a bit.


2017 FANTASY FOOTBALL ISSUES: JETS COULD BE PRIMED TO CUT MATT FORTE

The New York Jets have put up veteran running back Matt Forte on the trading block in a clear effort to give the starting job to backup Bilal Powell.  With Powell having more than shown he is capable of big PPR numbers, Forte is just taking up space and at a high salary clip.  It is unlikely the Jets will find a trade partner and so cutting Forte is becoming a realistic scenario that would all of a sudden put Powell right there as a top RB 2 in PPR formats and a low-end RB 2 in standard.  This is a situation that bears close watching and trying to swipe Powell from an unsuspecting owner would be a great idea.


2017 FANTASY FOOTBALL ISSUES: THE SONG AND DANCE BEGINS WITH EZEKIEL ELLIOTT

Dallas Cowboys suspended running back Ezekiel Elliott will have his hearing today regarding the discipline the league placed on him two weeks ago and already the rumors are flying about what will take place.  Already Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio is reporting that Elliott will in fact play in Week 1 as he is expected to take things to the courts if he does not like the decision that is rendered on the appeal.  That would be great news for Elliott's fantasy football owners who would have him from the get-go but it also puts into play the possibility he will be suspended later in the season for the stretch run and fantasy football playoffs. If you polled Elliott's owners, they would undoubtedly agree they would want him to do the suspension now so that he is ready to go when league's are decided.  Like we saw with the New England Patriots' Tom Brady however, this could be a long and drawn out process.  So those who are also holding Darren McFadden as a possible Week 1 piece need to start re-evaluating their plans there as well.  Let the drama unfold.


2017 FANTASY BASEBALL WRAPUP: MONDAY

Aaron Nola:  7 IP 5 H 1 ER 0 BB 6 K with an ERA of 3.46.  Nola had a few hiccups of late but nothing to worry about as evidenced by this start.  The guy has serious strikeout stuff and I said a few years ago he can be a fantasy baseball ace.

Jose Ramirez:  2/3 with 2 home runs (20 for season) while hitting .300.  Has seen a sizable uptick in power this season along with infield mate Francisco Lindor.  Unlike Lindor however, Ramirez has held the .300 average.  Very nice.

Carlos Santana:  1/3 with his 21st HR while hitting .251.  Only use when hot which is right now.

Luis Severino:  6.2 IP 4 H 3 ER 3 BB 9 K with an ERA of 3.14.  Severino gave up three homers which accounted for all three earned runs so again so fears of fatigue just yet.

Corey Kluber:  8 IP 3 H 2 ER 1 BB 7 K with an ERA of 2.63.  It really is ridiculous how dominant Kluber gets from May onward.

Christian Yelich:  2/3 with his 16th HR while hitting .286.  Nice season for Yelich but we always have that feeling he is capable of a bit more.

Jayson Werth:  2/4 with his 9th HR while hitting .267.  Yeah so that much-criticized contact that is running out at the end of this season was not so outlandish after all.

Max Scherzer:  7 IP 5 H 1 ER 2 BB 10 K with an ERA of 2.21.  Fresh off the DL, Scherzer dominated as usual.  The difference too between Scherzer and a guy with similar overpowering stuff like Chris Archer who give up a lot of home runs is that he finds a way to still win.

Adam Jones:  1/4 with his 25th HR while hitting .279.  Hey so Jones hit 25 home runs.  When have we seen this before?  Like every season of his career.

Justin Smoak:  1/3 with his 36th HR while hitting .289.  Would you spend a fifth round pick on Smoak next spring?  I don't think you would.

Eduardo Nunez:  2/4 with his 11th HR while hitting .310.  Nunez looks like that mid-season pickup who will help the Boston Red Sox win the World Series.  You can just feel it.

Mike Montgomery:  7 IP 6 H 1 ER 0 BB 4 K with an ERA of 3.29.  This guy should have been starting from the get-go.

Lucas Duda:  1/4 with his 25th HR while hitting .235.  Standard operating procedure here.

Logan Morrison:  2/4 with his 32nd HR while hitting .247.  The home runs are nice and all but I still have zero pull to draft Morrison next season.

Wilson Ramos:  1/4 with his sixth HR while hitting .243.  Thought we would get more here when he returned from the DL but Ramos can swing it no doubt.

Jonathan Lucroy:  3/4 with his 5th HR while hitting .251.  Man what a pathetic season from Lucroy.  Sometimes catchers lose it overnight when they reach 30.  Looks like the case here.

Andrew Heaney:  6 IP 2 H 1 ER 3 BB 10 K with an ERA of 5.6.3.  Remember this kid was a top pitching arm in the Miami system.  The talent will bubble to the surface like he showed here with the rust continuing to erode.


Monday, August 28, 2017

2017 FANTASY FOOTBALL UP./DOWN STOCK WATCH

Another edition of Fantasy Football Stock Watch as we take a look at those prime players whose have seen their values go north or south over the last few days.

TRENDING UP

Leonard Fournette:  Jacksonville Jaguars rookie power back Leonard Fournette is getting fully involved in practice for the team after coming back from soreness in his foot and he seems ready to go as a high-volume runner for Week 1.  Now it is concerning Fournette already is having foot problems since the same injury was a big problem during his LSU days but feel safe to put him in there as a firm Week 1 starter.  The only question now is what role if any Chris Ivory will play.

Kenny Britt:  Already a decent WR 3 in standard formats, the move to put Notre Dame rookie QB DeShon Kizer as the starter beginning in Week 1 is a boost for wideout Kenny Britt.  Britt has a nose for the end zone and the strong arm of Kizer should give him a chance to make more plays down the field.

Eric Ebron:  Finally Ebron has returned to practice from a stubborn hamstring injury and he should get enough reps to be fully involved for Week 1.  Ebron has tremendous natural athletic ability and receiving skills and you always get the feeling he is sitting on a big breakout.  In a passing offense like Detroit has, we would be buying in.

TRENDING DOWN

Sammy Watkins:  Not only does Watkins have a tough time staying healthy but he went from one bad QB situation in Buffalo to an even worse one in Los Angeles with the Rams.  Jared Goff has struggled mightily this preseason and he seems to enjoy looking short to rookie Cooper Kupp instead of deep to Watkins.  What a waste of talent.

Mark Ingram:  While he started the New Orleans Saints' third preseason game, it was a strict platoon with Adrian Peterson that is a big problem for Ingram's fantasy football value.  Count on Ingram being mostly a third down back and that will make him nothing but a RB 3 in all leagues this season.


2017 FANTASY FOOTBALL ISSUES: ADAM THIELEN MOVING TO THE SLOT AT THE EXPENSE OF STEFON DIGGS

                                                            

The Minnesota Vikings offense is changing it up with the season fast approaching as they decided to move emerging wideout Adam Thielen to the slot and put incumbent Stefon Diggs to the outside.  With Thielen having put himself on the fantasy football map with one of the greatest playoff week performances of all-time last December, the move can be a big one in terms of a vast uptick in receptions but also at the expense of scores.  Meanwhile Diggs was being drafted (especially in PPR formats) as a possible 100-catch guy due to his spot in the slot but moving to the outside will have the opposite effect.  While Diggs should get a few more touchdowns to his name, a drop in receptions is a given.  Adjust accordingly.


2017 FANTASY FOOTBALL NEWS: DEVONTA FREEMAN (CONCUSSION) BACK AT PRACTICE

                                                     

Atlanta Falcons running back Devonta Freeman returned to practice on Monday as he enters into the final stages of the league's concussion protocol.  Freeman having a concussion this close to the start of the season is a concern but he should be fully ready to go for Week 1.  Last year at this time we worried about the involvement of fellow back Tevin Coleman but Freeman still got the heavy part of the committee which means he should still be drafted as a mid-RB 1.


2017 FANTASY BASEBALL STATUS REPORT: GIANCARLO STANTON REACHES THE 50 MARK IN HOME RUNS

It seemed like just yesterday where yours truly celebrated the fact that Miami Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton reached the 40-homer mark for the first time in his career.  With injuries interrupted more than a few of his previous years, it was a "FINALLY" moment only for the fact that Stanton should have gotten there earlier in his career.  What I did note on that day was that with the pressure of reaching 40 homers now fallen by the wayside, it was likely that Stanton would go bonkers from that point onward with the power in a more relaxed state.  Well you can say I nailed that prediction as Stanton reached the 50 homer mark Sunday afternoon and it only took him 15 games to get those 10 additional bombs.  Clearly the front-runner for MVP, Stanton now has the following insane numbers going into Monday's action:

.296
50 HR
108 RBI
102 R
2 SB

Those are blockbuster statistics and look at the batting average!!!!  We all know how Stanton has struggled mightily at times in that category and him hitting .296 right now is icing on the cake for this incredible season Stanton is having.  And it was gains Stanton made in the strikeouts department that is primarily the cause for the average boost as his current 23.5 K/9 rate is a vast improvement from the 29.8 mark of a year ago.  Walking at a very high 12.0 BB/9 clip, Stanton is also an on-base machine who is not missing anything right now at the dish.  With all that Stanton has done this season, he has put himself right there as the number 2 pick in 2018 fantasy baseball drafts behind Mike Trout and the numbers look like they could be downright silly by the end of his 2017 campaign.  So this is what a fully healthy Stanton can do.  Wow.


Sunday, August 27, 2017

2017 FANTASY FOOTBALL INJURY FALLOUT: CAMERON MEREDITH DONE FOR THE YEAR WITH TORN ACL

It has been a very rough couple of days for NFL player's knees and in particular their ACL's.  Already having seen New England Pats wideout Julian Edelman go down with a tear in his ACL and Kansas City Chiefs running back Spencer Ware be lost for the year with a damaged PCL/MCL, add Chicago Bears wideout Cameron Meredith to this unfortunate fraternity.  It was Meredith who tore his ACL in what was a truly gruesome scene in the Bears' Sunday preseason game and so he is already done for 2017 without playing a down that counts.  While Meredith was not a big name in fantasy football as Edelman and Ware are, he still caught attention as a sleeper in PPR formats after breaking out to the tune of 66 catches for 888 yards and 4 scores and he was considered to be the leading receiving for the team in 2017 for QB Mike Glennon.  Those plans are scratched and so the fallout means Kevin White and Kendall Wright will now be more prominent parts of the passing offense.  While Glennon is a capable QB, the Bears are not expected to be a big passing outfit as they rely on RB Jordan Howard.  In fact it could be Howard who is hurt the most by Meredith's loss as he will now see a ton of 8-men in the box by opposing defenses.  You only have to look at how badly Los Angeles Rams running back Todd Gurley struggled against such fronts last season and so Howard may not yield the numbers expected considering his very high draft cost.  Cut Meredith loose in all formats and look for an upside replacement on the wire.


2017 FANTASY FOOTBALL PRESEASON WRAPUP: SATURDAY

-Prior to the start of training camp, I made note of how Atlanta Falcons QB Matt Ryan was a firm bust candidate for 2017 fantasy football on a number of fronts.  First his 2016 numbers were in clear outlier territory and now he was moving on without OC Kyle Shanahan who departed to coach San Francisco.  Changes in OC's always involve an adjustment phase and it looks like that is what Ryan is going through as he was dreadful Saturday in completing just 4-of-11 throws for 36 yards and 1 INT.  Now overall I think Ryan will be fine in a 2013-15 numbers kind of way but his ADP is above that line and reflecting last season which is trouble.

-Oakland Raiders third-year wideout Amari Cooper could be sitting on an explosive breakout as he caught four balls for 78 yards and a score.  Yes Michael Crabtree remains to annoyingly take looks from him but Cooper has star potential that could be revealing itself in 2017.

-Alfred Morris seems to have big summer performances down pat as he rumbled for 56 yards on only 9 carries Saturday for the Dallas Cowboys.  Morris is averaging 5.27 per carry this summer and is challenging Darren McFadden for the starting spot in place of the suspended Ezekiel Elliott.  While McFadden will likely start, count on Morris at least getting goal-line work.

-Jamaal Charles was just an aging curiosity when the summer began but no longer as he had a big performance Saturday in rushing for 42 yards on just 6 carries, while also catching two passes.  Charles showed his old explosion and instant acceleration and at the very least could be working toward a 50/50 split with C.J. Anderson.  As a result, Charles should be added in all formats and that is especially true in PPR.  Of course Charles' development will hurt Anderson's fantasy football value as well.

-Denver Broncos wideout Demaryuis Thomas exited early Saturday night with a minor groin injury after catching just one pass.  All signs point to Thomas being fully ready to go in Week 1 and he remains a top WR 2 in fantasy football due mainly to the rough QB play under center with the noodle-armed Trevor Siemian.

-Emmanuel Sanders himself is a WR 2 and has more value in PPR formats as he caught two balls for 25 yards Saturday night.  Another victim of the rough QB play in Denver, Sanders is not as exciting to own as he was with Peyton Manning in town.

-New York Jets QB Bryce Petty can't catch a break.  After coming in and throwing three touchdowns passes late to spark the team Saturday versus the New York Giants, his knee buckled on a hit and trouble lies ahead.  Petty said afterward his knee was unstable and he could be out for awhile.  Meanwhile Christian Hackenberg was brutal yet again (a late TD in relief of Petty was window dressing) and so count on Josh McCown to be under center in Week 1.

-John Brown is back on the fantasy football radar after catching two passes that both went for scores and a total of 49 yards,.  While Brown had an almost completely washed out 2016 due to a sickle cell issue and injuries, he remains a big-play wideout in the mold of DeSean Jackson who could be a nice WR 3 if he stays upright.

-Houston Texans fans didn't get anything encouraging from QB Tom Savage Saturday night as he completed 10-of-16 throws for 79 yards.  Savage has decent accuracy but he can't throw deep and so WR DeAndre Hopkins is going to be hurt again in terms of numbers.

-Derek Carr tossed a 48-yard score to WR Amari Cooper as part of his 13-of-17 day for 144 yards and the one score.  I find it a bit strange that Carr is not getting a lot of love at fantasy football drafts given his potent receiving corps, which also got better with the addition of tight end Jared Cook.  Take advantage of the discount.

-DeShon Kizer was terrible Saturday night in completing 6-of-18 throws for 93 yards and an INT.  Despite the outing, Kizer should be starting in Week 1 and his big arm is a good thing for WR Kenny Britt.

-Mark Inrgam and Adrian Peterson seem set for a firm committee at running back for the New Orleans Saints which will hurt both.  Count on Ingram handling third down duties, with Peterson likely manning first and second down.  That will hurt both greatly in fantasy football terms and they each barely qualify for RB 2 status.


2017 FANTASY BASEBALL WRAPUP: SATURDAY

Jacoby Ellsbury:  2/4 with his 7th HR while hitting .241.  Ellsbury doesn't run much anymore, he has hardly any power, he can't stay healthy, and the average is sinking.  Now just a name.

Sonny Gray:  7 IP 3 H 1 ER 2 BB 9 K with an ERA of 3.26.  Moving from Oakland to Yankee Stadium was a sizable concern but Gray has been superb.  Overall it has been a tremendous comeback campaign for a guy who looked prematurely toasted a year ago.

Josh Donaldson:  3/5 with his 23rd HR while hitting .262.  Despite all the time Donaldson has missed, he might hit 30 home runs after all which speaks to how insanely hot the guy's bat is right now.

Kendrys Morales:  2/5 with his 22nd HR while hitting .246.  Considering the ballpark, Morales should have done better in the average department.  I won't be chasing him again a year from now.

Tim Beckham:  1/5 with his 18th HR while hitting .293.  Imagine what Schoop would have done if he were with the Orioles all season.

Jonathan Schoop:  2/4 with his 28th HR while hitting .307.  Why did we all not want him again in March?

Kevin Gausman:  7.2 IP 4 H 0 ER 3 BB 5 K with an ERA of 4.98.  As horrid as Gausman was during the first half, Gausman has been that dominant in the second.  It is a crazy game.

Wilmer Flores:  4/4 with his 16th HR while hitting .277.  It has been a nice season for Flores as he has come the closest he ever has come to being an everyday player and responded accordingly.

Gio Gonzalez:  6.2 IP 6 H 2 ER 1 BB 2 K with an ERA of 2.40.  Interesting here that Gio's career-year has come with a loss in velocity and K's.  Sometimes that's how it happens.

Luis Castillo:  7 IP 3 H 1 ER 1 BB 9 K with an ERA of 3.26.  Finally a Luis Castillo we can enjoy owning.  The strikeouts are piling up here as expected and this is a story I want to continue reading aggressively in 2018.

Gerrit Cole:  7 IP 5 H 0 ER 0 BB 6 K with an ERA of 3.99.  I bought low on Cole this past March but cut him loose by May given the rampant inconsistency.  I don't miss him as Cole honestly has lost quite a bit of flash from just a few seasons ago.

Anthony Rizzo:  3/5 with 2 home runs (30 for season) while hitting .275.  After a very tough average battle early on in the season, Rizzo is pretty much where he should be overall statistically.  A stalwart mid-first round pick for the next few seasons.

Tommy LaStella:  3/5 with 2 home runs (5 for season) while hitting .315.  LaStella can give you LaBoost in NL-only leagues the rest of the way.

Kris Bryant:  2/3 with his 24th HR while hitting .289.  Like with Nolan Arenado, the power is down a bit but Bryant is still not even in his prime years yet.  He will be just fine.

Rhys Hoskins:  2/4 with his 10th HR while hitting .300.  Fastest MLB hitter ever to 10 home runs.  Even Giancarlo Stanton is impressed by the kid.

Kyle Hendricks:  7 IP 6 H 2 ER 0 BB 8 K with an ERA of 3.45.  Hendricks has come back from injury pitching well but clearly we all now (even his most ardent supporters) that 2016 was one of the biggest fantasy baseball outliers ever.

D.J. LeMahieu:  3/5 with 2 home runs (6 for season) while hitting .315.  Any homers from LeMahieu is a bonus but he is remains one of the most easy to call .300 hitters in fantasy baseball.

Charlie Blackmon:  1/5 with his 31st HR while hitting .335.  Could you imagine if Blackmon still stole bases?  He would be the number 2 player in all of fantasy baseball hands down behind Mike Trout.  Even so, he is so close to knocking on late first round territory next spring.

Matt Adams:  1/1 with his 19th HR while hitting .272.  A crowded Braves roster has screwed both Adams and his fantasy baseball owners to see where his big summer was going to take him in terms of another month of possible everyday numbers.  May need a new home again next season.

Justin Upton:  1/5 with his 28th HR while hitting .282.  Upton always frustrated me in the past but perhaps maybe he is finally finding some sort of consistency from the rapid hot and cold spells he went through with the bat in the past?

Miguel Cabrera:  3/4 with his 14th HR while hitting .256.  Sometimes I think that instead of a baseball, the hardest hit Cabrera had all season was on Austin Romine.

Carlos Rodon:  5 ER in 5 IP with an ERA of 4.27.  Man Rodon always seems to want to remind you when things are going good for a bit that he still wants to remain as frustrating to own as ever.

Marcell Ozuna:  1/4 with his 31st HR while hitting .311.  It can be tough to do on a Miami team with Stanton but don't overlook how terrific Ozuna has been this season.  With Yoenis Cespedes constantly hurt and with similar fantasy baseball skills, I would take this guy every time in a draft now.

Edwin Encarnacion:  1/4 with his 30th HR while hitting .247.  At least unlike Miguel Cabrera, Encarnacion is still hitting for big power with the average slipping.

Carlos Santana:  1/4 with his 19th HR while hitting .251.  The only way I would have interest in Santana in the future is if as a free agent this winter he signs on with someone to catch.

Mike Clevinger:  6 IP 4 H 0 ER 2 BB 9 K with an ERA of 3.72.  This guy is begging us to pay attention to him but I just don't given the minor league rates.  Pitching way over his head.

Lucas Duda:  1/4 with his 24th HR while hitting .235.  I like how MLB no longer makes the average re-set when hitters switch leagues.  We still would know Duda can't hit over .250 no matter where he is though.

Corey Dickerson:  1/4 with his 25th HR while hitting .291.  This story lost some steam along the way but the fact Dickerson is still over .290 with now 25 bombs shows the overall staying power and him saving his once fledgling fantasy baseball career.

Tommy Pham:  1/3 with his 17th HR while hitting .304.  Yet another piece of gold coming from the St. Louis system.

A.J. Pollock:  1/4 with his 7th HR while hitting .264.  The home runs was nice but damn put this man back in the leadoff spot.

J.D. Martinez:  1/3 with his 27th HR while hitting .274.  Martinez is as good a lower-level OF 1 as there is in all of fantasy baseball.

Madison Bumgarner:  7 IP 5 H 2 ER 1 BB 7 K with an ERA of 2.85.  It is like Bumgarner never left for like half the season with a biking accident.


Saturday, August 26, 2017

2017 FANTASY FOOTBALL INJURY FALLOUT: SPENCER WARE DAMAGES PCL AND MCL IN KNEE, LIKELY OUT TWO MONTHS

Updating an earlier item, NFL Network;s Ian Rappaport is reporting that Kansas City Chiefs running back Spencer Ware could miss up to two months after damaging both the PCL and MCL in his knee.  Already head coach Andy Reid has said rookie Kareem Hunt will be the workhorse back starting in Week 1 and the latter's fantasy football owners now could be getting up to 8 games of such status given the Ware news.  In addition, a big start by Hunt could bury Ware into firm backup status even when he does return.  It has been a rough start for some in the fantasy football community this weekend when it comes to injuries and this should be another reason why you hold your draft as late as possible in the preseason.


2017 FANTASY FOOTBALL STATUS REPORT: KAREEM HUNT RB KANSAS CITY CHIEFS

When the Kansas City Chiefs and head coach Andy Reid used a third-round selection in the 2017 NFL Draft to select Toledo multi-talented running back Kareem Hunt, fantasy football alarms began to go off immediately.  After all the running back-loving Reid making a pick on anyone from the position is enough to pique severe attention from the masses and with incumbent Spencer Ware coming off a disappointing 2016 campaign, all the signs were there for Hunt to immediately be a prime fantasy football sleeper for 2017.  Well all it took was two-plus preseason games to send the hype into overdrive as Hunt is now expected to be the team's bellcow back right out of the gate in Week 1 after Ware sprained his knee Friday night and Reid no doubt will take advantage of his new toy;s ability both as a runner and a receiver.  Comparisons to former Reid favorite Brian Westbrook are on par here as Hunt finished as Toledo's all-time leading rusher with 4,945 rushing yards and 73 receptions.  As a senior, Hunt showed major PPR potential as he caught 41 passes and you know Reid will take full advantage of those talents.  So right away Hunt is a firm RB 2 who can claim the bellcow role permanently is he gets off to a fast start.  Anyone who took a mid-round stab in fantasy football drafts this summer have had some nice fortune already.  Meanwhile those who bought low on Ware are feeling the opposite after what happened in Friday's game.


2017 FANTASY BASEBALL STATUS REPORT: RHYS HOSKINS 1B PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES

It can't be that easy.  Hitting a baseball is supposed to be the most difficult thing to do in all of sports but don't tell that to Philadelphia Phillies rookie first baseman Rhys Hoskins who made MLB history Friday night by clubbing a home run in his seventh straight game.  That awesome feat now beings Hoskins to a .283 average with 9 home runs in just 16 major league games which is incredible and it speaks to the massive natural power the 24-year-old has and made him such a big prospect in the first place.  When the Phils called up Hoskins a few weeks ago, I called it a run to the wire moment and so far we are seeing why.  The power should not be a total shock of course as Hoskins went into his promotion with the Phils with a ridiculous 29 home runs and 91 RBI in just 115 games at Triple-A and that showed how potent a bat the kid carries.  The future is very bright here and what is even more exciting is that Hoskins' 17.6 K.9 so far with the Philes shows he doesn't have the gaps in his swing that most young power prospects have.  Hoskins is as impressive a slugger as I have seen in awhile and next season he should be one of the more popular upside picks in fantasy baseball drafts.


2017 FANTASY FOOTBALL INJURY FALLOUT: DISASTER FOR JULIAN EDELMAN, DISASTER AVOIDED FOR SPENCER WARE

A tale of two injury stories for two prime fantasy football players on a grim Friday night for many owners of those involved.  Let's get right to it.

Julian Edelman:  By now it is obvious that New England Patriots slot PPR monster Julian Edelman is done for the 2017 fantasy football season due to a torn ACL suffered in the classic non-contact manner early in the team's Friday game.  Edelman had already caught three balls in the game but he went down after the third with no one touching him and soon limped off.  A cart transported him to the locker room and multiple reports say the ACL is torn and only an MRI to confirm such is preventing the Pats from making it official.  So those who drafted Edelman already this summer (which includes myself) lose a huge weapon and especially if you take part in a PPR format.  What I did right away though was pick up fellow Pats wideout Chris Hogan who was a monster himself Friday night by catching two touchdown passes from QB Tom Brady among his four receptions.  It will be Hogan who benefits from an Edelman absence in terms of fantasy football and he could be an overnight significant addition capable of reaching WR 2 status in this offense.  We have seen going back to last year how Brady likes to look for Hogan both deep and in the red zone and that is key.  In addition, Brandin Cooks now looks like a potential 100 catch dynamo.

Spencer Ware:  Fears of a torn ACL were being felt by Kansas City Chiefs running back Spencer Ware when he himself was carted off early in the team's Friday preseason game.  Luckily for Ware however, the ACL reportedly was intact and that it is either a PCL or MCL injury.  Disaster avoided here but Ware's status for Week 1 is very much in doubt which means rookie Kareem Hunt has a prime opportunity to show what he can do.  Head coach Andy Reid drafted Hunt and so that is telling right there in terms of how significant his role could be.  However Reid also tends to be conservative with his rookies and so count on Charcandrick West taking some carries while Ware is out.  All in all though, Ware should be back on the field in a few weeks or so.


Friday, August 25, 2017

2017 FANTASY FOOTBALL BREAKING NEWS: SPENCER WARE CARTED OFF WITH INJURY

Kansas City Chiefs running back Spencer Ware was carted off the field Friday night with an apparent knee injury during the team's third preseason game.  Ware's knee noticeably buckled after coming down with a reception and he was in obvious pain before being carted away.  Rookie Kareem Hunt obviously stands to benefit here as does his fantasy football owners as he very well could be in the driver's seat to a major workload leading into Week 1.  What carnage on Friday.  


2017 FANTASY FOOTBALL BREAKING NEWS: JULIAN EDELMAN CARTED OFF WITH KNEE INJURY

New England Patriots slot dynamo Julian Edelman was carted off the field upon making a catch early in the team's third preseason game Friday night.  Edelman has just made his third catch and came up hobbled and soon went to the sideline where a cart brought him back to the locker room for testing.  If Edelman suffered a knee injury in a meaningless preseason game, no doubt his fantasy football owners would be beside themselves.  Count yours truly among that group.  Stay tuned.


2017 FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: YOENIS CESPEDES EXITS WITH LEG INJURY

New York Mets outfielder Yoenis Cespedes was forced out of the team's game Friday night with an apparent knee injury.  No stranger to leg woes, Cespedes hurt his leg running to home plate early in the game and he was in obvious pain as he soon hobbled off the field.  An update is expected soon but this looks like an easy DL situation and adds another layer onto Cespedes becoming a constant injury headache that makes his future fantasy baseball prospects quite risky.


2017 FANTASY BASEBALL STATUS REPORT: GREG BIRD 1B NEW YORK YANKEES

Who you might ask?  Greg Bird?  How in the hell is that?  Well it would be easy to forget Bird since he has pretty much missed the entire 2017 fantasy baseball season with a stubborn ankle injury that inhibited him going back to spring training.  Looked at as the better hitting prospect than first half monster Aaron Judge, Bird certainly looked the part during spring training when he hit everything in sight and cracked homers on an almost daily basis.  Unfortunately that is also when the ankle began to flare up and this after Bird missed the entire 2016 season due to a serious shoulder injury.  While Bird gave it a go for the first month of the season, he clearly was not himself as he batted .100 with just a single home run and 3 RBI before the ankle led to surgery.

Fast forward to present time and Bird is set to be activated by the New York Yankees for Friday's game and leading into it, he has once again been destroying pitching to the tune of a 3 home runs, 11 runs scored, and 7 RBI in 14 games at Triple-A.  Once activated, Bird will be the everyday first baseman for the Yankees and thus will become an intriguing fantasy baseball power bat for the last month of the season.  Having hit 11 home runs in 46 games as a rookie in 2015, Bird has shown he can hit major league pitching and thus is worth adding where available.  While he does strike out too much and thus could be an average liability, Bird in that Yankee Stadium ballpark should be given another chance.


2017 FANTASY FOOTBALL PRESEASON GAME 3 WRAPUP: THURSDAY

-Miami Dolphins QB Jay Cutler is still looking to wing the football down the field as ever before as he completed 5-of-8 passes for 105 yards and a 72-yard TD to DeVante Parker.  By now it has become obvious that Cutler and not Matt Moore will be the Miami starter in Week 1 but the same theme as always applies to his fantasy football value in terms of him being mostly for two-QB formats.

-Blake Bortles came in behind Chad Henne for the all-important third preseason game but he played decently in completed 12-of-16 throws for 125 yards with a TD and an INT.  Rumors were that Henne would get the start in Week 1 but he was shaky prior to Bortles coming in so Doug Marronne has an interesting decision to make here.  Both men however should not be owned in 2017 fantasy football.

-Jonathan Stewart showed he was not ready to fade off into the sunset as he rushed for 39 yards on just 5 carries.  Stewart is a problem for anyone who is using a third round pick on rookie Christian McCaffrey as he will likely get goal-line work and at least half of the overall carries.  While this hurts McCaffrey, Stewart as we all know by now is nothing but a backup fantasy football running back veteran.

-Speaking of McCaffrey. the Stanford rookie rushed for 21 yards on 7 carries, while also catching one pass for 12 yards.  McCaffrey is the darling of the fantasy football community and this is especially true of those who take part in PPR formats but again Jonathan Stewart is a problem that is not going away anytime soon.  Outside of PPR formats, McCaffrey looks like a reach in Round 3.

-Torrey Smith showed he still has the wheels to make plays deep as he caught a 50-yards TD pass from Carson Wentz for the Philadelphia Eagles Thursday.  This has always been Smith's game and his all-or-nothing approach to fantasy football makes him nothing but a WR 4/5 who you avoid altogether in PPR.

-Julius Thomas caught a TD pass for Miami as part of his two catches for one yard very modest night.  While his move to the Dolphins was supposed to be a big deal for QB Ryan Tannehill, Jay Cutler has not been known in his career as someone who throws heavily to the tight end.  Thomas seems to always have a knack for scoring touchdowns but his days as a starting fantasy football tight end have been done for awhile now.

-Wendell Smallwood won the battle over LeGarrette Blount Thursday night in terms of showing the Eagles coaching staff who should be starting.  Smallwood picked up 28 yards on 4 carries and it seems almost certain now he will split work with Darren Sproles when the season begins.  While we don't believe the rumors that Blount will get cut, he should not be touched in fantasy football drafts right now.

-Cam Newton make a quick cameo appearance Thursday night as he completed 2-of-2 passes for 21 yards and a TD.  As far as drafts are concerned, Newton has been his stock crash which actually now makes him a decent enough buy low candidate.  However with head coach Ron Rivera now wanting Newton to run as much as he has in the past to lessen his risk of injury, the fantasy football numbers may still not flow as much as anticipated.

-Alshon Jeffery caught 2 passes for 35 yards and a TD for the Eagles Thursday night as he looked to be getting into sync with Carson Wentz.  The talent is always there in a WR 1 sense for Jeffery but he simply has not been able to stay on the field both through constant injuries and a stupid PED suspension.  While both are probably related, Jeffery should be drafted as a WR 2 who has the chance to move up to 1 status.

-DeVante Parker caught two balls for 78 yards and a TD for the Dolphins as the hype continues to grow here.  The ADP on Parker has moved northward steadily since Jay Cutler's arrival and I myself have bought into the hype since I picked him in the Experts League in anticipating big things.  We shall see.

-Jay Ajayo was an animal rushing the football Thursday night as he picked up 53 yards and 2 touchdowns on just 9 carries.  This is the Ajayi that led me to use a second round pick on him in the Experts League draft as the workload will be huge and the opportunities to score plentiful.  Big things on the horizon here.

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Thursday, August 24, 2017

2017 FANTASY FOOTBALL DRAFT SLEEPER: COOPER KUPP WR LOS ANGELES RAMS

The next Wes Welker.  Those in PPR fantasy football formats are always trying to answer that question in terms of finding the next slot dynamo who will pile up the catches in a hurry and serve as a terrific PPR boost to their wide receiver corps.  Each summer brings forth some new names that gain traction in drafts under that guise and 2017 is no different as Los Angeles Rams rookie Cooper Kupp has stepped to the forefront of that discussion.  Who is Kupp you might say?  Well if you didn't know who Kupp was going into training camp then you are not alone as he was the Rams' third round pick out of the college football hotbed that is Eastern Washington.  However the scouting report on Kupp coming out of college is that he ran crisp routes and had a knack for getting open which was what made Welker so great.  Well all it has taken is two preseason games for Kupp to show those skills as he has caught 8 balls for 105 yards in those contests for the Rams and it certainly does appear as though he is quickly becoming the go-to- receiver for second-year QB Jared Goff.  This would make sense as Goff still is trying to find his way as an NFL passer and check down throws to the slot become the norm for many young QB's.  Thus Kupp should be added in all PPR formats at the very least where available as this has some fantasy football legs to it.  Legs that are running terrific routes and getting open often which would make Welker proud.


2017 FANTASY BASEBALL WRAPUP: WEDNESDAY

Trey Mancini:  1/4 with his 22nd HR while hitting .285.  While this type of performance seemed to come completely out of nowhere, I am bullish on Mancini moving forward into 2018 as he was a terrific pure hitter in the minors as well.  Pure hitting skills always should be sought out first before power as the first leads to the second in many cases.

Wellington Castillo:  2/3 with his 14th HR while hitting .285.  Castillo once again is arguably the best and most consistently productive catcher value in all of fantasy baseball.

Chris Davis:  1/4 with his 20th HR while hitting .224.  Few players are hurt more in today's fantasy baseball than this guy given the plethora of home runs all over the game now.

Dylan Bundy:  6 IP 7 H 3 ER 0 BB 8 K with an ERA of 4.18.  I got to hand it to Bundy.  Just as we all were ready to shut him down in terms of fantasy baseball usage until 2018, he has reeled off a string of outings that bring back memories of April.  Ahh but September the fatigue scare is real.

Josh Harrison:  1/4 with his 16th HR while hitting .281.  Yeah I think Harrison does have a knack for the dramatic.

Rich Hill:  9 IP 1 H 1 ER 0 BB 10 K with an ERA of 3.32.  Just a brutal way to lose a no-hitter but once again it needs to be said how awesome a story this has been going back to those four late season starts with Boston a few years ago.

Rhys Hoskins:  2/3 with his 7th HR while hitting .244.  Between the minors and majors, Hoskins is on a 45 homer pace.  MASSIVE power here for sure but Hoskins needs to show he can put up a respectable number in the average department to achieve more fantasy baseball value.  That is the qualification now with so much power around.

Mark Leiter:  7 IP 1 H 0 ER 2 BB 5 K with an ERA of 3.86.  Some smoke and mirrors going on here but Leiter looks like a scrappy chip off the old block.  From his uncle and not his dad I add.

Dominic Smith:  1/3 with his third HR while hitting .190.  I am buying in 2018.  UTIL or CI spot Smith will go.

Edwin Encarnacion:  1/3 with his 29th HR while hitting .250.  Not the season Edwin's owners wanted but really that is just in terms of average as he could sneak to 40 homers again believe it not after that terrible start.

Drew Pomeranz:  5.1 IP 2 H 0 ER 4 BB 9 K with an ERA of 3.18.  I admit I wanted no part of Pomeranz in the AL East this season but there is no debating the fact the guy's stuff is electric.

Corey Kluber:  7.2 IP 4 H 2 ER 1 BB 12 K with an ERA of 2.65.  The most underappreciated awesome pitcher in the game.

Joey Votto:  2/4 with his 33rd HR while hitting .314.  The power has not let up at any single point this entire season.  40 homers for Votto?  We are in uncharted and drool-inducing territory.

Eugenio Suarez:  1/4 with his 24th HR while hitting .269.  Very nice season from Suarez so far and at a very nice value play price going back to March.

Scott Schebler:  1/4 with his 24th HR while hitting .231.  Again I keep saying it but Schebler would have been more exciting if the calendar read "2014" and not "2017 The Year Of The Home Run."

Kyle Schwarber:  1/5 with his 21st HR while hitting .202.  With catcher eligibility leaving the station, I doubt many will be on this radar next spring.

Gary Sanchez:  2/6 with his 26th HR while hitting .276.  There really be must be something about the month of August for Sanchez as he has like 169523 home runs in those 31 days.

Didi Gregorious:  2/4 with his 19th HR while hitting .312.  The most underappreciated shortstop in fantasy baseball.

Ian Kinsler:  1/4 with his 13th HR while hitting .248.  The usage meter is running out here due to age.  
Luis Severino:  6.2 IP 6 H 1 ER 1 BB 8 K with an ERA of 3.10.  Severino laughs in the face of fatigue.

Kevin Kiermaier:  3/4 with 2 home runs (10 for season) and 11th SB while hitting .276.  Told you to pick up Kiermaier when he came off the DL.  Also told you to draft him in March.  What are you waiting for?

Steven Souza Jr.:  2/5 with his 27th HR while hitting .276.  Yes I know I cut him after 22 homers.  Let me have it.

Josh Donaldson:  1/5 with his 22nd HR while hitting .264.  Outside of Gary Sanchez, there is not a hotter home run hitter in fantasy baseball right now.

Justin Smoak:  1/5 with his 34th HR while hitting .290.  Me and everyone else in the fantasy baseball community had down around 20 homers and a .230 average for this guy in March.  Yeah he overshot that by a bit.

Alex Bregman:  2/5 with his 16th HR while hitting .280.  I think in 2018 we see the star version of Bregman.

Mike Fiers:  7 IP 4 H 1 ER 1 BB 6 K with an ERA of 4.17.  Mike Fiers does August like Gary Sanchez does but on the pitching side.

Eric Hosmer:  3/4 with his 21st HR while hitting .319.  Yeah I would say Hosmer's goal seems to be first round status next spring.

Nolan Arenado:  1/4 with his 29th HR while hitting .311.  The good news is that Arenado made it out of the game without any more hand injuries.

Charlie Blackmon:  3/5 with his 30th HR while hitting .336.  Putting that power and average together is a fantasy baseball work of art.

Luke Weaver:  7 IP 3 H 0 ER 1 BB 10 K with an ERA of 2.31.  Jered and Jeff Weaver eat your heart out.


Wednesday, August 23, 2017

2017 FANTASY FOOTBALL DRAFT BUST: LAMAR MILLER RB HOUSTON TEXANS

Boy do things change quickly in fantasy football.  A year ago at this time, everyone and their mother was prepared to do everything and anything to own newly-signed Houston Texans running back Lamar Miller.  Having shown big-time ability during his underutilized four year stay with the Miami Dolphins, Miller seemed to be moving to as good a spot as any for a back as Texans head coach Bill O'Brien spoke constantly of using his new toy heavily.  Run him heavily O'Brien did as Miller received 28, 25, and 21 carries each of the first three weeks of the 2016 season.  With Miller serving as a very rare bellcow back, all seemed swell for his fantasy football owners.  However there was trouble even then as Miller only ran for 100 yards once in those first three games despite all those carries.  And things would get worse from that high point as Miller rushed for 100 or more yards only three more times in the last 13 games and his average for the season cratered to a mediocre 4.0 after coming in at 4.5 and 5.1 the previous two campaigns.  Throw in some injuries and just 5 rushing scores with another dip in receptions with 31 and Miller went down as a decent bust for 2016 fantasy football.

Fast forward to present time and a popular narrative surrounding Miller this season is that he is a good bounce back guy.  With O'Brien vowing to curb the workload a bit, the thinking is that a fresher Miller will churn out more explosive plays and thus overall yardage.  Unfortunately yours truly thinks Miller is someone to avoid and there are a few key reasons why.  The first is that the QB situation in Houston remains a joke as Tom Savage will likely be named the starter which is not saying much of anything.  That means more 8 men in the box for Miller to try and fight through which was a big problem last season.  In addition, the Texans have a very capable backup in Alfred Blue who has outplayed Miller this summer and also rookie D'Onte Foreman who will likely be the goal-line back.  So with Foreman stealing scores and Blue likely eating into some more carries, Miller is looking very shaky as a fantasy football investment.  Hence this is why I avoided him in the Experts League this past week.  Now Miller is talented which I won't dispute but I also don't like the makeup of this situation at all.  Avoid.

2017 PROJECTION:  1,026 yards 6 TD 38 receptions 245 yards 1 TD  


2017 FANTASY FOOTBALL STOCK WATCH: FEARS ODELL COULD MISS GAMES

Another edition of Fantasy Football Stock Watch is on tap where we take a look at who is moving up in value and who is moving down.

MOVING UP

Chris Carson:  Already the darling of Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll and running with the 1's despite being a seventh-round rookie, the team's crowded backfield got a bit less congested when it was learned pass-catching back C.J. Prosise has a potentially serious groin injury.  Carson is already a capable of receiver and with Eddie Lacy performing terribly, a shot at the starting role is still in play with the all-important third preseason game on tap.

DeShon Kizer:  It seems like the starting QB job will be handed to the rookie from Notre Dame bu the Cleveland Browns coaching staff unless he falls flat on his face in a starting spot in the third preseason game.  Kizer has the cannon arm to make WR Kenny Britt much more of a weapon and so Britt should see his fantasy football stock shoot up as well.

MOVING DOWN

Odell Beckham Jr.:  Speculation has already begun regarding whether or not New York Giants ace wideout Odell Beckham Jr. will be able to go Week 1 versus the Dallas Cowboys due to the ankle injury he suffered this past Monday night on a vicious open field hit.  While there has been no talk of a high ankle sprain which is usually a 4-6 weeks injury, Beckham was said to be quite sore on Tuesday and Wednesday from the injury.  If he were to miss games, Sterling Shepard would be a must start in all fantasy football leagues.

Bilal Powell:  The return to practice for New York Jets running back Matt Forte removes the possibility Bilal Powell would be the bellcow back for Week 1 for the team.  While the Jets are expected to be beyond brutal this season, those in PPR should be fully in on Powell due to the fact there should be a ton of dump-off passes as the team tries to throw their way back from big deficits in the second half of games this season.  Forte's return though means a possible 50/50 split in work would hurt both guys.

Jack Doyle, Donte Moncrief, T.Y. Hilton:  Talk that Indianapolis Colts QB Andrew Luck may miss beyond Week 1 will no nothing but destroy the fantasy football values of all three of these pass receivers.  This was always the risk going into fantasy football drafts as Luck's status has beem murky for awhile and so you should have known better anyway.


2017 FANTASY BASEBALL STATUS REPORT: GARY SANCHEZ C NEW YORK YANKEES

It is like the second half of 2016 all over again for New York Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez.  Well not exactly but close.  What I mean by that is that for the second summer in a row, Sanchez is going all Hank Aaron on opposing major league pitchers as he smashed two more home runs Tuesday night versus the Detroit Tigers.  That now brings it to 7 home runs in the last 10 games for Sanchez who goes into Wednesday's actions with the following numbers in his sophomore MLB campaign:

.274
25 HR
69 RBI
61 R
2 SB

This comes after a year when Sanchez took the majors by storm in clubbing 20 home runs in just 201 at-bats in 53 games.  It was an unbelievable performance by Sanchez who had never hit for that type of power in the minor leagues and it was so good to the point that it was almost impossible to believe he could come anywhere close to duplicating that in 2017.  It was for that reason and others (such as a high 24.5 K/9 rate in 2016) that had us putting down Sanchez as a bust candidate this past spring.  It wasn't that we didn't Sanchez was a big talent but instead it had more to do with his skyrocketing draft price tag that really cut down the margin of error here.

Fast forward to present day and Sanchez is getting the last laugh.  Now his average has fallen a bit like anticipated but at .274 is not a killer.  His 24.5 K/9 is not much of an improvement from last season but at least it is not worse.  Also Sanchez is drawing walks at a decent 8.8 clip which helps ward off some of the average regression.  The bottom line here though is that Sanchez is firmly establishing himself as a monster power hitter and at catcher in fantasy baseball, these type of offensive numbers are as rare to see as an eclipse.  It seems like Sanchez now can be a perennial 30-homer guy and he will carry the precious catcher tab for at least another year before a possible move to DH.  All in all, Sanchez has shown 2016 was not in fact a fluke and so buying in on him next spring in the early rounds is looking much safer and in fact a good strategy to take on.


Tuesday, August 22, 2017

2017 FANTASY FOOTBALL ISSUES: BOTH ODELL BECKHAM JR. (ANKLE) AND BRANDON MARSHALL (SHOULDER) EXPECTED TO BE READY FOR WEEK 1

While both Odell Beckham Jr. and Brandon Marshall got injured during Monday night's game versus the Cleveland Browns, both receivers are expected to be ready for Week 1.  Beckham was diagnosed officially with an ankle sprain but it is not believed to be of the more serious high variety.  Meanwhile Marshall had X-rays done on his shoulder but the team reportedly is not worried about his status which means nothing serious was found.  Beckham may need to be monitored a bit more than Marshall but it looks like all systems a go.


2017 FANTASY BASEBALL STATUS REPORT: ROUGNED ODOR 2B TEXAS RANGERS

If you ask a majority of Texas Rangers second baseman Rougned Odor's fantasy baseball owners at any point so far during the 2017 fantasy baseball season, chances are very good you will get a look of disgust which will then be followed by a railing of how much of a bust he turned out to be.  After all Odor was the darling of the fantasy baseball community back in March as he came off a brilliant 2016 debut when he hit .271 with 33 home runs and 14 stolen bases at the age of just 22.  With a good four years before reaching his prime years, the sky literally was the limit for Odor in terms of what he was capable of doing.  Like with most young players however, Odor hit the skids to begin the 2017 season as his average sank and the power was not exactly quick to come around.  He would hit just .196 in April/March, .216 in May, and .208 in June as his owners went ballistic over how bad he was killing them.  Never mind that Odor hit 17 home runs, scored 47, and drove in 40 with 9 steals in the first half, the average is all anyone could talk about.

And there lies the main issue with Rougned Odor in 2017 and it is the average that has overshadowed what in actuality has been another very good season for the second baseman who again is just 23.  Going into the action on Tuesday, Odor has hit 27 home runs, scored 69, driven in 60, and stolen 12 bases.  Each one of those numbers are terrific, in particular the power which is immense for a second baseman.  Throw in the speed and Odor is a gem of a power/speed second baseman.  However he is still hitting only .221 which gets most of the attention since average is so easy to read in terms of "good" or "bad." The problem there is that Odor's .236 BABIP is horribly unlucky and is down from the .271 mark he has a year ago.  Yes Odor is walking at just a 3.9 BB/9 clip and his K/9 is up this season to 23.2 but that goes with the territory with a young hitter who is still finding his way.  Instead embrace the other four categories which are very good and appreciate that Odor is still a terrific player whose best years are ahead of him.  Remember this next spring when Odor's draft price falls.  He will be some bargain to take advantage of there.


2017 FANTASY FOOTBALL PRESEASON WEEK 2 WRAPUP: GIANTS/BROWNS

-If you were a New York Giants wide receiver Monday night, chances are you got hurt. The carnage started with ace wideout Odell Beckham Jr. having been drilled hard going up for a pass that brought fears of a serious knee injury.  Luckily Beckham escaped with nothing serious as he first was diagnosed with an ankle sprain and passed concussion protocols. X-rays on the ankle were later found to be negative and so Beckham pretty much emerged unscathed. However the scare could mean he doesn't play the rest of the preseason which would be fine by his owners.

Meanwhile Brandon Marshall was the next to go down and in his case it was a shoulder problem that required X-rays.  Results are still not known but Marshall tweeted a flexed muscle later in the night which could mean he is all right.  Obviously any absence from either one means Sterling Sheppard steps up in value.

-Then there was the pathetic Giants offensive line which was a sieve in pass protection and failed to generate much in. The run game. This is a big problem for Paul Perkins owners and even Eli Manning and the passing offense in terms of big plays. 

Monday, August 21, 2017

2017 FANTASY FOOTBALL BREAKING NEWS: ODELL BECKHAM JR. EXITS WITH POTENTIAL KNEE INJURY

New York Giants ace wideout Odell Beckham Jr. was forced to the locker room early in the team's preseason game versus the Cleveland Browns with a potential knee injury after taking a low hit to the joint while going up for a pass.  Beckham was down in visible pain before being able to walk off under his own power but he almost immediately went to the locker room for testing which is telling.  A possible MCL sprain is already looking like a possibility but it is hold your breath time for Beckham's fantasy football owners.  If Beckham were to miss time, Brandon Marshall becomes a WR 1 again.  Stay tuned.

UPDATE:  Beckham has been diagnosed with an ankle sprain and a possible concussion.  Now we have to find out if it is a dreaded high ankle sprain because that is a 4-6 week injury and also the concussion is not great either.  

2017 FANTASY FOOTBALL STOCK WATCH: WHOSE MOVING UP AND DOWN THIS WEEK

MOVING UP

Rex Burkhead:  With presumed starter Mike Gillislee still sidelined with a stubborn hamstring injury, it was Bill Belichick obsession Rex Burkhead who was the heavy-usage starter in the team's second preseason game.  Yours truly hot Burkhead in the 15th round of the Experts League draft prior to that game and that goes to show you how overlooked the former Bengal is to this point.  That has to change as Burkhead has the PPR skills to be both a solid runner and receiver.  Meanwhile those who invested in Gillislee are seeing things go the other way.  

Wendell Smallwood:  LeGarrette Blount has been a colossal bust so far for the Philadelphia Eagles and so the speedy Smallwood is now expected to be the team's starter in Week 1.  Of course veteran Darren Sproles will remain a heavy part of the offense which means Smallwood only has RB 3 value at best.  

Ted Ginn:  It appears as though New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton has a thing for the aging but still speedy Ginn at wideout for the team in 2017.  Willie Snead was a bit of a forgotten man in the team's second preseason game and so Ginn should be added in all leagues.  

Chris Carson:  Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll keeps giving rookie seventh-round pick Chris Carson work with the first-team offense which is a huge surprise given the three guys ahead of him in the form of Eddie Lacy, Thomas Rawls, and C.J. Prosise.  Opportunity is everything.  

Dez Bryant:  There was some hesitation by many in the fantasy football community this summer to get back into bed with Bryant as a WR 1 but keep in mind he was a monster last December and reports are that he and QB Dak Prescott are now firmly on the same page.  With RB Ezekiel Elliott out for up to six games, Bryant should get a decent uptick in work as the passing game becomes more employed.  

MOVING DOWN

Eric Ebron:  With 2017 looked at as a prime chance to fully breakout, it has been very disappointing to see Detroit Lions tight end Eric Ebron still being hobbled by a hamstring injury.  While I myself am a fan of Ebron, he need to get back onto the field soon or else Week 1 is out of the question.

Matt Forte:  Speaking of hamstring injuries, it is looking more and more like New York Jets veteran Matt Forte will not be ready to go for Week 1.  That means the very capable Bilal Powell will be the starter and his PPR skills portend nicely since it is expected Jets QB's will be employing a lot of dump-off throws while catching up late in games.  


2017 FANTASY FOOTBALL PLAYER ANALYZER: MATTHEW STAFFORD QB DETROIT LIONS

If you take part in a single QB league, the tried-and-true method for success when addressing the position in the draft is to wait for value in the middle rounds given the depth here.  Names that quickly come to mind as potential values for 2017 fantasy football include Philip Rivers, Kirk Cousins, Eli Manning, and Matthew Stafford.  Stafford in fact looks like a classic value play going forward as his ADP is 115.5 which is dirt cheap for someone who always finds himself near the top of the league in passing yardage and with a solid array of scores.  Of course the reason Stafford falls into value mode is that he has also annoyed his fantasy football owners in the past with inconsistent play and for the fact he has thrown 30 or more TD's just twice in 8 NFL seasons and he comes off a 2016 when he tossed only 24.  However Stafford's performance a year ago was somewhat misleading as he was on fire the first two months of the year as he tossed 16 of his 24 scores but then struggled the rest of the way due to a finger injury that inhibited his throwing.  So in actuality Stafford should have done even better and that sets the stage for 2017 where he has a nice array of receivers in wideouts Golden Tate, Marvin Jones, rookie Kenny Golladay, and emerging tight end Eric Ebron.  Throw in pass-catching back Theo Riddick and Stafford has a good stable of weapons to yield nice fantasy football numbers for a 115.5 ADP.  Also don't overlook the fact that Stafford always seems to pick up a few rushing scores each season (7 in the last four years) and again is always a 4,200-plus yardage man.  So while everyone chases Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady in the early rounds, nabbing Stafford later on as you stock up on backs and receivers looks like a tremendous piece of strategy.

2017 PROJECTION:  4,425 yards 27 TD 175 rushing yards 2 TD  


2017 FANTASY BASEBALL WRAPUP: SUNDAY

Giancarlo Stanton:  2/5 with his 45th HR while hitting .286.  So this is what a non-injury Stanton season looks like.  Incredible.

Yoenis Cespedes:  2/4 with his 16th HR while hitting .275.  Very leery of Cespedes and his never-ending leg injuries going into 2018 fantasy baseball.

Adam Conley:  7 IP 3 H 1 ER 2 BB 11 K with an ERA of 4.93.  What this outing shows is that the stripped-down New York Mets are a streaming delight.

Curtis Granderson:  1/4 with his 20th HR while hitting .226.  Leave it to Granderson to break up Justin Verlander's potential no-hitter in his old Detroit stomping grounds.

Justin Upton:  1/4 with his 26th HR while hitting .282.  Both Stanton and Upton have been previous average liabilities who are above .280 this late in the season.  Can't ask for much more outside of a few steals.

Justin Verlander:  8 IP 2 H 1 ER 1 BB 9 K with an ERA of 3.96.  Verlander got crazy hot down the stretch of last season and he is doing the same this summer to help offsets a rough first half.

Kevin Kiermaier:  2/4 with his 8th HR while hitting .256.  If Kiermaier is sitting on your league's waiver wire, make the add as he can help across the board nicely the rest of the season.

Blake Snell:  7 IP 2 H 0 ER 2 BB 8 K with an ERA of 4.42.  This is what Snell is fully capable of when he has his control in order.  Still a fan of the arm but he burned a lot of us in 2017 .

Sean Newcomb:  5 IP 5 H 0 ER 5 BB 2 K with an ERA of 4.13.  This is Newcomb personified as his control is simply horrid and overshadows decent strikeout upside.

Tyler Flowers:  1/4 with his 11th HR while hitting ./292.  Flowers will likely be there on the waiver wire for you when you wait extremely late to get a catcher for 2018 fantasy baseball.

Kole Calhoun:  1/2 with his 16th HR while hitting .243.  In typical Calhoun fashion, his 16 home runs were the quietest in fantasy baseball.  And with an ugly average and no steals, there is nothing much to add here.

Andrelton Simmons:  1/4 with his 13th HR while hitting .292.  Simmons has shown this season that he is more than a glove but outside of AL-only leagues, he should not be more than a bench bat at best.

Brett Gardner:  2/4 with his 20th HR and 16th SB while hitting .256.  The rare fantasy baseball "name" player who almost always turns you a profit.

Rick Porcello:  1 ER in 6 IP with an ERA of 4.48.  Glad we can put 2016 firmly into the outlier bin it always belonged in.

Marwin Gonzalez:  1/4 with his 20th HR while hitting .307.  Scooter Gennett, Tyler Flowers, this guy....no shortage of insane out-of-the-blue fantasy baseball stories.

Francisco Lindor:  3/5 with his 20th HR and 9th SB while hitting .266.  Only some poor BABIP luck has been a negative with Lindor this season as he has grown into more power and firmly demented his top five shortstop status.  But no one saw Elvis Andrus bettering him.

Roberto Osuna:  eighth blown save with 3 ER in .1 IP with an ERA of 3.61.  Man 8 blown saves here.  Osuna has kept his job though because he has spaced out the blown saves just far enough.

Rougned Odor:  1/4 with his 27th HR while hitting .223.  So 27 home runs from a second baseman who is just 23.  Yet his fantasy baseball owners are pissed off at him.  That is whole polarizing the average category is which is foolish.  A .240 BABIP folks.

Ryhs Hoskins:  2/5 with his fifth HR while hitting .237.  Home runs by the boatload.


Sunday, August 20, 2017

2017 FANTASY BASEBALL STATUS REPORT: JOSH DONALDSON GETTING HOT AT THE RIGHT TIME, NOW MANNING SHORTSTOP

Heading into 2017 fantasy baseball draft season, Toronto Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson was right there as a slam-dunk mid-first round pick along with fellow hot corner occupants Kris Bryant, Manny Machado, and Nolan Arenado.  Thus there was a ton of expectations attached to Donaldson and for good season since he came off a blockbuster three-year run where he hit 29, 41, and 37 home runs; while going over the 120 RBI mark twice in that span.  Despite all this, Donaldson's first half of 2017 did not go according to plan as his body betrayed him in terms of a stubborn calf injury that afflicted him going back to spring training and the result was a pre-All-Star game where he hit just .261 with 9 home runs.  With the numbers way down across the board, Donaldson earned the scorn of his fantasy baseball owners which was understandable.  Once he returned however, Donaldson right away began a tear that has carried up to present day Sunday where he drew the start at shortstop of all places for the Blue Jays.  Before we start daydreaming of shortstop eligibility for Donaldson, look at the fact he has hit 11 home runs in just 122 at-bats in the second half, while the average still lags at .270 during that span.  Donaldson is driving everything with power right now and he is starting to look like the first round monster everyone anticipated.

In digging into the numbers a bit more, Donaldson has seen his K/9 jump to a high for him 22.1 percent; which is way up from the 17.0 mark of a year ago.  This explains the hit in average but Donaldson is still walking a crazy amount of time as his 16.6 BB/9 shows.  So as long as Donaldson stays healthy and cuts into the K's a bit, he is pretty much the same top tier guy he was prior to the beginning of the season.


2017 FANTASY FOOTBALL ISSUES: TAKE A STAB WITH DONNELL PUMPHREY IN PHILLY

                                                           

The Philadelphia Eagles rivaled the Seattle Seahawks and New England Patriots going into training camp in terms of how crowded their backfield was and through two preseasons games, things are still muddied up in the City of Brotherly Love.  However an interesting report came out early Sunday that stated BOTH Eagles power back LeGarrette Blount and scatback Wendell Smallwood could find their roster spots in jeopardy given their very poor preseason performances.  Blount once again is showing he can't play unless he is in New England and Smallwood has not made good on his chances to show what he can do.  Meanwhile rookie fourth-round pick Donnell Pumphrey has been the talk of camp and is getting increased run with the first-team offense which is always a key development when manning for waiver pickups.  While standing just 5-9 and 176, Pumphrey has been making a name for himself already and he could very well be moving into a starting spot if this keeps up.  Darren Sproles will remain a decent part of the offense which caps Pumphrey's expected impact a bit but a preemptive strike here is s good idea to see where this ends up.  The worst thing that can happen is you drop Pumphrey before the season but the best result would be him becoming a starter in a wide open backfield.


2017 FANTASY FOOTBALL PRESEASON WEEK 2 WRAPUP: SATURDAY

-Well look what we got here.  With presumptive starter Mike Gillislee sitting out with an ongoing hamstring injury, Bill Belichick favorite Rex Burkhead was the featured runner in the team's Saturday night preseason game as he rushed for 20 yards on 7 carries, while also grabbing 3 passes for another 50 yards.  Keep in mind that for all the Gillislee rosy projections, it was Burkhead who Belichick himself chased in free agency which speaks volumes.  Throw in the high workload tonight and we could have something here in terms of Burkhead fighting through the murky waters that was the crowded New England backfield.  Move Burkhead up your rankings.

-It was Bilal Powell and a whole lot of nothing for the New York Jets offense Saturday as the PPR maven rushed for 32 yards on 9 carries, while also chipping in with 2 catches for another 14 yards.  Matt Forte sat out with a nagging hamstring injury which paved the way for a heavy workload from Powell but the latter is clearly the better player and the one to won for fantasy football.  The Jets look comically bad on offense but there could be a lot of dumpoffs to Powell this season which makes him a decent PPR RB 2.

-Ugly night for Washington Redskins running back Rob Kelley who picked up just 9 yards on 9 carries.  Kelley is on the short list in terms of being one of the worst starting running backs in fantasy football and it seems only a matter of time before rookie Samaje Perine is moving into the prime rushing seat.

-Kirk Cousins was just all right for the Redskins as he completed 14-of-23 throws for 144 yards and a score.  The Redskins offense looks primed for a ton of passes once again but it could take Cousins a few weeks to get into sync with an almost completely new wide receiver corps.  Still we are well past the point now where Cousins is a locked in every week starter.

-Pat Mahomes completed 10-of-14 throws for 88 yards and 2 scores for the Kansas City Chiefs against the second-team Cincinnati Bengals defenders but it was an impressive performance nonetheless.  Mahomes already looked like a terrific long-term investment for the Chiefs but they will give it one more shot with Alex Smith as the starter.  This is a non-story unless something happens to Smith during the season in terms of health.

-Boy does Christian Hackenberg suck.  He completed just 2-of-6 passes for 14 yards as he showed he has no place in the NFL.  It is only a matter of time before the Jets move into position to draft Sam Darnold.

-Tom Savage had it going for the Houston Texans as he completed 8-of-9 passes for 98 yards and a score.  The big question mark for the Texans as a whole and in terms of the fantasy football value of WR DeAndre Hopkins is whether or not Savage has the goods to be an effective passer and this outing was at least encouraging.

-Jamaal Williams got the start for the Green Bay Packers Saturday in place of the injured Ty Montgomery and he was pretty mediocre in rushing for just 15 yards on 5 carries.  Be that as it may, Montgomery best be getting himself back onto the field real soon in order to firmly cement his status as the team's starter.

-Marlon Mack did a nice job in his debut Saturday in rushing for 45 yards on 5 carries, while also adding 2 receptions for another 14 yards.  Mack showed burst that veteran Frank Gore doesn't have anymore and on big-play ability alone, he should be a late round pick in drafts.

-Derrick Henry is a must-own handcuff for all DeMarco Murray owners as he picked up two rushing scores Saturday as part of a 16 for 36 rushing performance.  The average was poor but Henry has been the talk of camp for the Tennessee Titans and he could become a major story if Murray pulls up lame during the season.

-Christian McCaffrey will start taking on a cult following real soon the more he plays like he did on Saturday.  Rushing for 33 yards and a score on just 3 carries, while also catching 2 balls for another 39 yards, McCaffrey did it all.  He has major PPR upside and could be a nice RB 2 in standard if he gets enough scoring chances.

-Dez Bryant was back to scoring touchdowns in an NFL game as he grabbed two balls for 55 yards and a score.  While Bryant has battled injuries the last couple of seasons, he showed down the stretch in 2016 that he can be a prime WR 1 again.

-Dak Prescott looked smooth Saturday as he completed 7-of-8 throws for 106 yards and a score.  This is where the magic all began for Prescott a year ago and so far he looks as locked-in as ever.  He looks ready for top-12 QB status again.


Saturday, August 19, 2017

2017 FANTASY SPORTS BOSS EXPERTS LEAGUE PPR DRAFT RESULTS

The 2017 Fantasy Sports Boss Experts League PPR league held their 12th annual draft early Saturday and as always all best laid plans went awry for almost all of us.  Yours truly is a three-time champion with this VERY competitive bunch and I was the runner-up a year ago when my own last minute chances cost me the title.  This time around I drew the number 2 spot in the 16-round draft and here is what I came out with.

1.  Le'Veon Bell (RB):  It was either myself getting David Johnson or Le'Veon Bell to kick things off and I wasn't surprised that the top choice was Arizona's Johnson given that he is the safer choice with less injury history and the fact he is not holding out.  Bell is a monster though and on a per game basis graded out better than Johnson last season and so there was no hesitation picking him.  I also get the privilege over owning Bell for the second year in a row but knowing his injury history, getting depth here will be key.  Meanwhile for Round 2, I was all about Michael Thomas and A.J. Green at wideout; while also looking closely at Jay Ajayi or even Ezekiel Elliott in gambling he will have his suspension reduced or stayed while he fights it out in court.  A long wait ensued coming back to me for Round 2.

2.  Jay Ajayi (RB):  My running backs are set and I got two very good bellcows which is very rare.  I suspect Ajayi fell due to the fact he just came off a concussion and I had no choice to make with Elliott as he went three picks before I went at 16.  Also I was all set to take A.J. Green who fell to the second round in the running back dominated early picks but I missed him by ONE.  So I went with the high expected workload of Ajayi who plays for a head coach in Adam Gase who wants to pound it all game.  Loving my backs but not loving the fact most top end WR 1's are already gone (Antonio Brown, Odell Beckham Jr., Julio Jones, Mike Evans, Amari Cooper, Jordy Nelson, Michael Thomas, and Dez Bryant all went already by this point).  So now I shifted focus to BEST PLAYER AVAILABLE as there were no obvious wideouts who stood out for a possible third round selection.

3.  Aaron Rodgers (QB):  I know, I know I am a huge hyprocrite.  After preaching all summer about not taking a QB early I did just that with Rodgers as the first passer off the board in Round 3 at number 22 overall.  Again with the dip in wideouts available (Doug Baldwin and T.Y. Hilton went at 20 and 21), I figured getting the top QB AND top RB put me in a nice spot.  Unfortunately I still had no wideout and was now into pure PPR mode in terms of filling out those three spots.  

4.  Julian Edelman (WR):  Like I said, it was all PPR wideouts and Edelman was the best of what is available.  I know all the talk that the arrival of Brandin Cooks and the health of Gronk will hurt Edelman but I am not buying it.  He has a tremendous rapport with QB Tom Brady and another 90 catches is likely.  In fact I think it will be Cooks who will have the tougher time and not Edelman.  Unfortunately Edelman is my number 1 wideout when he is a WR 2 in reality.  

5.  Brandon Marshall (WR):  With Edelman being a supreme catch guy but light on scores, I needed to balance that out and did so with Marshall who I think is almost a lock for double-digit scores playing off Beckham in the explosive New York Giants offense.  I am not going crazy with the dip in Marshall numbers last season as he was hurt and the New York Jets were horrid in terms of QB play.  I think I did well getting Marshall here.  

6.  Ty Montgomery (RB):  It is VERY crucial to get three prime running backs in your first seven picks if you can given the bye weeks and high risk of injury and I think I accomplished this with the explosive but unproven over the long season Montgomery.  Yes I am concerned about how durability and the looming shadow of Jamaal Williams but I liked Montgomery over C.J. Anderson, Spencer Ware, and Carlos Hyde who were ranked around him.  At the very least, Montgomery should catch 40-plus balls and likely more.  

7.  Golden Tate (WR):  I added Tate under the same premise as Edelman in terms of a 90-catch guy who will help in this PPR format.  While Edelman, Marshall, and Tate are not the greatest trio, they are very solid and work well in this format.

8.  Zach Ertz (TE):  There was an earlier run on tight ends then I expected and my prime target of Jimmy Graham went off the board by this point which left not much at the position in terms of decent receiving skills.  Carson Wentz loved throwing to Ertz last season but I know he has been a big letdown each of the last two non-December month years.  I will make sure to get a decent backup here to cover myself if things go badly.  

9.  Kirk Cousins (QB):  I love Cousins and he is excellent insurance in case something happens to Rodgers.  In fact Cousins is so grossly underrated that I would play him over Rodgers if the matchup was juicy.  Remember having a potent bench is VERY important.  

10.  DeVante Parker (WR):  I am bullish on Parker as I think he can be the Brandon Marshall/Alshon Jeffery wideout that Jay Cutler will obsess over in Miami.  The talent is obvious as a former first-round pick but Parker needs to show he can do it when it counts.  Tremendous upside for my bench.  

11. New York Giants Defense (DEF):  Yeah I went higher than I preach for defense but that is simply because of the way the draft unfolded.  I felt there was a decent drop from the Giants to the rest of the available defenses and with everything shored up on the starting roster (and with backups at WR and RB), I took the plunge.  Rip me in the comments.

12. Terrance West (RB):  I wanted Danny Woodhead but he was picked earlier and so I went with the starter that is Terrance West.  Not flashy by any means but a starter this late is decent.

13. Corey Davis (WR):  Upside, upside, upside as the potential number 1 target of QB Marcus Mariota.  First Davis has to get onto the field however.

14. Jack Doyle (TE):  I got my backup for Ertz and it is a good one as long as Andrew Luck can get back on the field.  

15. Rex Burkhead (RB):  Burkhead was someone that Bill Belichick himself wanted during free agency and that is good enough for me as a late round stab to see if he comes through the muddles New England backfield.  

16. Chris Carson (RB):  Another shot in the dark here as Carson has been the talk of Seattle's camp and ran with the 1's on Friday.  I did not draft a kicker in order to have as many sleepers as I can on the bench and so this was worth looking at.

So overall I feel my team is solid but not great.  The running backs and QB are the clear strengths, while my wideouts are a collection of WR's 2's and 3's.  Good but not great.  So how did I do?  Let's hear it.