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Thursday, August 17, 2017

2017 FANTASY BASEBALL CLOSING TIME: TREVOR ROSENTHAL GOES DOWN WITH ARM TIGHTNESS, HWAN OH BACK IN CLOSING DRIVER'S SEAT

In the midst of a big comeback season where he established himself again as an impact closer, it appears as though the St. Louis Cardinals' Trevor Rosenthal may be headed to the DL due to what the team is calling a bout of arm tightness.  The words "tight" and "arm" should not go hand-in-hand for any pitcher and so this is something that is not a small deal by any means and could threaten the remainder of the season for Rosenthal depending on what they find.  Rosenthal set off alarms during a rough appearance on Wednesday when his velocity shot way down and he complained afterwards of the tightness.  That means Seung Hwan Oh should get another chance to close and salvage what has been a very disappointing season for the March highly touted stopper.  With an ugly 1.33 WHIP and a high for a closer 3.46 ERA, Oh has struggled this season after dominating as rookie in 2016 when he looked to be one of the best closers in fantasy baseball.  While his original owners likely cut bait by now, pick up Oh where available.


2017 FANTASY BASEBALL STATUS REPORT: TIM BECKHAM SS BALTIMORE ORIOLES

How about a .485 average for the month of August so far?  That insane mark has been achieved by new Baltimore Orioles shortstop Tim Beckham who has been beyond scorching hot since coming over from the Tampa Bay Rays leading up to the July 31 trade deadline.  While Beckham was already in the midst of a nice breakout season after stalling in his development some while with the Rays (this after being the first overall pick in the 2008 draft), what he has done with the Orioles is astounding.  I did say once the trade was completed to pick up Beckham given the fact he was making the move from one of the best pitching parks in the majors to one of the best hitting ones and boy has has he cooperated with that prediction.  Now pretty much a veteran at 27, Beckham is currently putting up the following numbers going into Thursday's games:

.298
17 HR
48 R
48 RBI
5 SB

Imagine what Beckham would have done with a full season in Baltimore but that is a story for 2018.  For now, Beckham is showing off the power that made him the first overall pick in his class and in particular, the .298 average is impressive since he really struggled badly in a Byron Buxton way there while trying to work his way to the majors.  Beckham has good wheels too which means he is capable of some more steals but maybe that part of his game is already stalling as he moves closer to 30.  Either way, Beckham has been tremendous and he should be a daily fantasy baseball starter throughout the rest of the 2017 season.


Wednesday, August 16, 2017

2017 FANTASY FOOTBALL PLAYER ANALYZER: AMARI COOPER WR OAKLAND RAIDERS

Maybe THIS is the year Oakland Raiders wideout Amari Cooper graduates fully into WR 1 territory in fantasy football.  It was this time last year where everyone in the fantasy football community said that Cooper would make such a leap in his second year in the league as his talent was obvious and due to the maturation of QB Derek Carr.  Well fellow Oakland wideout Michael Crabtree had something to say about it as it was he and not Cooper who performed as the top receiver on the Raiders in 2016 and this was especially true during the first half of the year.  With Crabtree also serving as the top red zone target, Cooper's numbers languished to the tune of just 15 catches in 3 September games and zero scores.  While Cooper did have a big October (37 grabs for 517 yards and  scores), he caught just 14 and 13 balls respectively in November/December which further made him a disappointment in his fantasy football owners' eyes.  For the entirety of the season, Cooper managed a still very good 83 receptions for 1,153 yards but he hit paydirt just five times as Crabtree caught TD passes.

So as we look toward 2017 fantasy football, Crabtree still remains but Cooper is now once again looking to firmly establish himself as the team's number 1 target of Carr.  On physical ability alone, Cooper is quite capable as he has more big-play potential than Crabtree but he needs to become notices more around the red zone to maximize his fantasy football success.  Right now Cooper can only be drafted as a WR 2 but he has the absolute ability to graduate to WR 1 status given his pedigree and athleticism.  If you can snag Cooper in the middle of the third round or later, you did very well.  It says something that 83 catches for 1,153 yards and 5 scores would be considered a bit of a letdown by his owners but that is simply because we know how much he is capable of achieving.  So go back to the well on Cooper this season as he could very well make that leap.

2018 PROJECTION:  89 receptions 1,298 yards 8 TD  


2017 FANTASY BASEBALL CRISIS POINT: AROLDIS CHAPMAN RP NEW YORK YANKEES

When you appear as the subject of the Crisis Point feature for a second time during the course of the fantasy baseball season, you know you got some problems.  Such is the case for New York Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman who struggled yet again Tuesday night in giving up a two-run home run to New York Mets rookie shortstop Amed Rosario before finishing things off for the save.  Unfortunately it appears as though Chapman also injured his hamstring but he said afterward it was not a major deal.  Be that as it may, Chapman has been pretty crummy for large segments of the 2017 season and even this past Sunday he gave up a game-winning home run to another rookie, this time Boston Red Sox third baseman Rafael Devers.  The home runs given up against rookies could signal that Chapman's cloak of invincibility is vanishing among opposing hitters and the numbers this season could lead those who carry a bat to feel that way.  Consider the statistics Chapman carries into Wednesday's action:

3.89 ERA
1.33 WHIP
12.72 K/9
16 saves in 20 chances

No matter where you look, the numbers are well off the career marks for Chapman.  For starter's, the 12.72 K/9; while still a very impressive number; is quite a ways down from the 13.97 last season or the 15.74 in 2015.  Or the 17.67 in 2014.  There is a noticeable trend here though as Chapman's K/9 has slipped four straight years which is not the trend you want to see.  There are only so may nuclear missiles in a pitcher's arm and Chapman could be losing them right before our eyes.  In addition, Chapman's control is horrendous and at career-worst levels right now as evidenced by his 4.15 BB/9.  That is a simply brutal number and especially troubling for a closer.  Chapman is fighting his stuff like never before and it could portend to trouble with his arm.  And that trouble could be emanating from the ridiculous usage Chapman suffered from under Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon in last season's postseason/World Series.  Even Chapman expressed dismay about how Maddon used him and the correlation doesn't seem to be a coincidence given how bad he has pitched this season and the health problems he has also suffered through.  And again Chapman struggling with his stuff, control, and results can all be pointed to that usage.

Last but not least, Chapman's 0.52 HR/9 rate is his highest since 2013 and again opposing hitters don't seem to be having trouble catching up with his stuff.  Problems all the way around and now Chapman could be headed to the DL with a hamstring injury.  This means Dellin Betances will close in his place and so a look at your league's waiver wire to see if he was dropped is on order.  As for Chapman, he joins Zach Britton as astronomical bombs in 2017 fantasy baseball among closers.


Tuesday, August 15, 2017

2017 FANTASY BASEBALL STATUS REPORT: RAFAEL DEVERS SHOWING HE IS THE REAL DEAL

It has been a great week for Boston Red Sox rookie third baseman Rafael Devers and it is only Tuesday.  After all that designation works when he spent Sunday hitting a game-winning home run off New York Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman and then spent Monday cracking two more bombs versus the Cleveland Indians.  So now with 16 games in the bank at the ripe old age of 20, Devers currently has 6 home runs, 12 RBI, and a .339 average.  Pretty darn good wouldn't you say?  And of course all of this followers Devers going nuts in the minor leagues to the tune of a .300 average at Double-A with 18 home runs and 56 RBI, followed by a quick 9-game stint at Triple-A where he added another two bombs and a .400 average.  So if your keeping count, that is 26 home runs on the season across three levels, plus an average well north of .300.  Again at the age of 20.  Silly stuff and it just goes to show how incredible a prospect Devers is and how if he continues at this pace throughout the remainder of the season, will likely be the latest midseason call-up as a rookie to go right to early round draft status in fantasy baseball the following year.  About the only knock you can place on Devers is that he doesn't steal bases but we don't need him to given how awesome a stick he possesses.  Throw in the prowess of Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi and the Red Sox certainly know how to bring along young hitting.  So for those lucky enough to have some Devers shares this season, both the present and the future look very promising.






2017 FANTASY FOOTBALL STATUS REPORT: THINGS LOOKING UP FOR JAY AJAYI AND DeMARCO MURRAY

Tuesday was a good day for some running back 1's in 2017 fantasy football on the health front.  First Miami Dolphins ace running back Jay Ajayi was finally cleared from the concussion protocol after more than two weeks and Tennessee Titans running back DeMarco Murray returned to practice after missing a week with a bum hamstring.  Both guys are firmly in the second tier of running backs behind the big two of David Johnson and Le'Veon Bell and so their immediate fantasy football draft statuses' were quite murky.  However both look to be back on track here and ready to ascend to their RB 1 status.  Now yours truly likes Ajayi more than Murray as the latter comes off a heavy usage season, has a history of injuries, and has a hard-charging Derrick Henry on his heels.  Still Murray should be good to go as a mid-second round pick.


2017 FANTASY FOOTBALL STATUS REPORT: O.J. HOWARD TO BE BLOCKER FROM START

When looking at early ADP's in 2017 fantasy football drafts, it seems a bit high that rookie Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end O.J. Howard is being picked on averaged in the tenth round of 12-team leagues.  Having not even played a down yet and joining a team with a very good and established pass-catching tight end in Cameron Brate, Howard is being overdrafted by more than a little.  This point was drive home Tuesday when it was reported that Howard at least initially will be employed more as a blocker and that Brate will continue being the featured tight end in the passing game.  This makes sense as Brate and QB Jameis Winston developed a tremendous rapport last season and there is no reason to mess with success so to speak.  For those who haven't drafted yet, knock Howard down a few pegs and target Evan Engram if you want a rookie tight end on your roster.  Meanwhile bump Brate up a few pegs as he is severely underrated right now.  

2017 FANTASY BASEBALL WRAPUP: MONDAY

Andrew Benintendi:  1/5 with his 17th HR while hitting .278.  The rare massive sleeper who has actually exceeded expectations since we weren't sure how potent the power would be.  This is an OF 1 folks who will push into Round 2 of most fantasy baseball drafts next spring.

Rafael Devers:  2/4 with 2 home runs (6 for season) while hitting .339.  Boy the Red Sox know how to find top-shelf hitting prospects.  The talent here is drool-inducing and Devers is that special kind of talent that can be the next Yasiel Puig or Carlos Correa in terms of thrusting himself into the first two rounds of drafts with an insane finish.

Edwin Encarnacion:  2/4 with 2 home runs (26 for season) while hitting .253.  Three home runs in two games for Encarnacion who can still do the short-term massive power explosion.

Aaron Judge:  1/3 with his 36th HR while hitting .289.  Judge in the second half has morphed into an all-or-nothing slugger.

Aaron Hicks:  2/4 with his 12th HR while hitting .284.  Been slow going for Hicks coming off the DL but remember how tremendous he was across the board prior which means have some patience.

Gary Sanchez:  2/3 with his 20th HR while hitting .273.  Sanchez took 5.5 months to get 20 homers where last season he seemed to do it in 20 days.

Yoenis Cespedes:  1/3 with his 15th HR while hitting .276.  The OF 1 Cespedes is back and has been for the last week.

Curtis Granderson:  1/4 with his 18th HR while hitting .230.  Once again Granderson is putting together a very nice season and one of the better contracts that have been signed recently was the four-year deal the Mets have this guy.  The lefty swing in Yankee Stadium last night still produces magic like during his two 40-homer campaigns there.

Josh Donaldson:  2/4 with his 17th HR while hitting .258.  A huge final two months from Donaldson can help assuage the ugly first four but I fear his all-out style the last few seasons are taking a major toll on his health now.

Giancarlo Stanton:  2/4 with his 43rd HR while hitting .283.  Fifth straight game with a homer from Stanton and third since I said he would relax more now that he reached 40 and hit a ton more.

Marcell Ozuna:  1/4 with his 27th HR while hitting .303.  Marcell you never had a chance keeping up with Stanton but terrific season no doubt.

Kris Bryant:  2/4 with his 22nd HR while hitting .296.  Seems like everyone who homered Sunday homered on Monday as well.

Anthony Rizzo:  3/5 with his 27th HR while hitting .262.  Rizzo seems to be entering into the very good but boring phase of his career where there is not much to talk about anymore.

Javier Baez:  2/5 with his 18th HR while hitting .272.  See Bryant, Kris above.

Scooter Gennett:  2/5 with his 20th HR while hitting .292.  What the hell do we do with this guy in 2018?  I didn't even think Gennett could hit 10 homers this season, let alone 20.

Joey Gallo:  1/3 with his 33rd HR while hitting .207.  Yup the homer was the only hit of the game for Gallo.

Justin Upton:  1/3 with his 23rd HR while hitting .281.  The only variable now with Upton since he stopped running is the yearly average which usually is nasty but like with Giancarlo Stanton, is a pleasant surprise.

Michael Fulmer:  5 ER in 5 IP with an ERA of 3.78.  You know I did say all spring Fulmer would go bust in terms of not coming anywhere near his rookie performance.  Yeah that is working out.

Chad Bettis:  7 IP 2 H 0 ER 0 BB 2 K with an 0.00.  And a big F U to cancer.  This might be the best performance of anyone in the majors this season given the circumstances.  Kudos and incredible stuff.

Zack Greinke:  6.2 IP 5 H 0 ER 2 BB 9 K with an ERA of 3.01.  174 K now in 155.2 IP.

Tim Beckham:  3/5 with his 16th HR while hitting .296.  Beckham better make sure he stays in Baltimore forever.

Manny Machado:  2/5 with his 23rd HR while hitting .260.  Machado has been insane the last two weeks as he reaffirms that yes he was worth that first round pick.

Trey Mancini:  1/4 with his 21st HR while hitting .294.  Count me as someone who think Mancini is 100 percent legit.

Rhys Hoskins:  2/4 with 2 home runs (2 for season) while hitting .176.  Yeah he is going to be something else with the home run swing.  This should be fun to see.


Monday, August 14, 2017

2017 FANTASY FOOTBALL STOCK WATCH: WHOSE MOVING UP/DOWN

With one preseason game down and three more to go, here are some key fantasy football stocks that are heading in varying directions as the season approaches.

TRENDING UP

Julio Jones:  As excellent a WR 1 as Atlanta Falcons WR Julio Jones has been throughout his career, one of the knocks on the guy has been his lack of touchdowns relative to some of the other wideouts located around his tier.  For some reason or another, Jones has only one time in six NFL seasons caught double-digit touchdowns and two of the last three years he has had a lowly 6 despite boatloads of receptions.  The Falcons coaching staff took notice and are now making it a point to target Jones more in the red zone.  Being picked behind only Antonio Brown and Odell Beckham in most drafts, this should help further elevate what is already a sky-high stock.

Mike Williams:  It appears as though San Diego Chargers rookie wideout Mike Williams will avoid missing the entire 2017 season due to a bulging disk in his back as multiple outlets are reporting a possible October return.  The big-play receiver will thus add to the plethora of weapons veteran QB Philip Rivers has at his disposal and while he is on PUP, Keenan Allen and Tyrell Williams figure to get an increase in looks.

Allen Robinson:  There have been glowing reports about Robinson from Jaguars camp as he looks to put a very ugly 2016 season behind him.  Right now Robinson presents a solid buy low price tag and we saw how great a player he can be in 2015.  It all depends on QB Blake Bortles of course which is always risky depending on his annual inconsistency.

TRENDING DOWN

NY Giants Skill Players:  The first preseason game was not what you wanted to see in terms of the New York Giants' offensive line as they unit gave up 8 sacks which helped to stunt the offense.  This is not what you wanted to see if you are an owner of skill players Eli Manning, Beckham, Brandon Marshall, and Sterling Shepard.  For as awesome a group as that it, the Giants won't be able to make plays down the field if Manning is under siege.  LT Erick Flowers is a big problem and it doesn't look like things will be getting better.

Leonard Fournette:  The Jags will hold out the prized power rookie running back for the team's second preseason game but it is has to mildly concerning the fact he has a foot injury already which was a chronic issue during his LSU days.  Also talk that Chris Ivory will handle goal-line work despite the size of Fournette is also a knock on his immediate 2017 fantasy football value.  While Fournette will get the lion's share of carries this season from the team, he doesn't look as exciting as he did two weeks ago.

Devonta Freeman:  Freeman joins the Miami Dolphins' Jay Ajayi as RB 1's in the concussion protocol which you never want to see.  With concussions, all things are off the table in terms of expected return date and everything else.  Fresh off signing a massive extension, Freeman still is expected to be the primary back in the Falcons' offense and worth a RB 1 look in Round 2.

Jay Ajayi:  Speaking of Ajayi, he is in fact still in the NFL concussion protocol despite incorrect reports Sunday he was cleared.  This is now the start of the third week Ajayi has been sidelined with the concussion as the nerves begin to form around his stock.  Again all signs are that Ajayi will be fine for Week 1 but you hate to see a player you own come down with a concussion already.


2017 FANTASY BASEBALL WRAPUP: SUNDAY

Anthony Rendon:  2/4 with his 22nd HR while hitting .302.  Boy Rendon better not screw me again in 2018 like he did in 2016 because I am in love with him again.

Chris Stratton:  6.2 IP 5 H 0 ER 1 BB 10 K with an ERA of 4.91.  The Giants' 2012 first-round pick surprised with the strikeouts and the overall good outing today but he has had nothing but a middling K/9 on the farm and his minor league numbers prior to his promotion this season was mehhh.

Josh Donaldson:  2/3 with his 16th HR while hitting .255.  Donaldson is coming through down the stretch which is the least he can do after his no-show first three months.

Justin Smoak:  2/4 with his 32nd HR while hitting .299.  I mean the power is no shock at all here but the average is still run the eyes to make sure it is legit shocking.

J.A. Happ:  6 IP 4 H 1 ER 3 BB 8 K with an ERA of 3.63.  This is Happ telling all of you that yes last season was in fact real.

Edwin Encarnacion:  1/4 with his 24th HR while hitting .251.  There is no doubt that Encarnacion is slipping a bit and big-bodied sluggers like him have a tendency to quickly fall off a cliff.  I am done with the guy going forward.

Steven Souza Jr.:  1/2 with his 25th HR while hitting .261.  With Logan Morrison slumping, Souza Jr. now takes the precious yearly title of "Best Tampa Bay Ray hitting/pitching Value Of the Year."  That has been quite the list in the past I might add.

Corey Kluber:  7 IP 4 H 3 ER 2 BB 9 K with an ERA of 2.71.  You knew Kluber had more than 8 K without even looking.

Giancarlo Stanton:  1/4 with his 42nd HR while hitting .281.  I said yesterday that now that Stanton has cleared the 40-home run mark for the first time in his career, he could quickly get to 50 with the pressure off.  Here we go.

Brian Dozier:  2/5 with his 23rd HR while hitting .258.  Once again Dozier has gotten quite hot after the All-Star Break but not nuclear like thw second half of last season.  Good player but Dozier will forever be chasing that performance.

Trevor Hildenberger:  scoreless 1.1 IP with 3 K for first save with an ERA of 3.13.  This should be the future closer for the Twinkies.

Michael Conforto:  1/5 with his 26th HR while hitting .285.  Love everything about this kid.  I said throughout the struggles last season and this spring where Conforto was my very FIRST Player Analyzer leading up to 2017 that the talent will eventually rise to the surface.  Yuppers.

Curtis Granderson:  3/5 with his 17th HR while hitting .230.  Someone should pick this ultra-good guy up for a playoff run.  Still say it is five years or slightly more until Grandy is the Player Association President.

Adam Duvall:  1/4 with his 27th HR while hitting .262.  Feel like Duvall is stamped into the Wrapup every day since the All-Star Break.

Domingo Santana:  1/4 with his 19th HR while hitting .274.  Strikes out too much to add the .300 hitting bonus but Santana has put himself firmly on the OF 3 map going forward.

Whit Merrifield:  3/6 with his 14th HR while hitting .296.  Royals have their second baseman of the present and future.  Merrifield hinted at this last season during the second half and his smooth swing (just 13.5 K/9 rate) and late to bloom power have been nice to see.  Your classic late bloomer at 28.

Paul DeJong:  3/5 with his 18th HR while hitting .297.  This guy has 18 home runs and it feels like he has only been around with the Cards for 18 days.

Jose Altuve:  2/4 with his 18th HR while hitting .362.  Geez adding now 25 possible home runs on top of everything else seems almost unfair if you own him in fantasy baseball.  Which I do.

Adrian Beltre:  2/3 with his 12th HR while hitting .311.  Seems like another guy who will go off into retirement whenever that is batting .300.

Ken Giles:  scoreless ninth for 23rd save with an ERA of 2.86.  It needs to be said that Giles has really stepped forward with his performance this season.

Matt Chapman:  1/4 with his 8th HR while hitting .228.  Power is solid but then again everyone has power these days in fantasy baseball.  Chapman needs to add something else to have any interest in his name next season.

Manny Machado:  3/4 with his 22nd HR while hitting .259.  The average has been a rough uphill climb since the BABIP-fueled bad luck to begin the season but Machado has been terrific once again underneath it all.

Javier Baez:  2/4 with his 17th HR while hitting .270.  I can't think of many guys this season who have made the most of their inconsistent playing time.

Ian Happ:  1/1 with his 15th HR while hitting .248.  Has to close some of the sizable holes in his swing for me to get more excited in 2018.

Kris Bryant:  3/4 with his 21st HR while hitting .294.  What is funny about Bryant and Machado is that many of their owners would admit to being letdown by them.  Stupid.

Paul Goldschmidt:  1/3 with his 28th HR while hitting .318.  I own Goldy, Machado, and Altuve.  Live is good in the Experts League this season where I am holding first place now after sitting in second most of the season.

Zack Godley:  5.2 IP 4 H 2 ER 4 BB 8 K with an ERA of 2.95.  Even in a losing effort the K's continue to jump off the page.

Justin Turner:  2/4 with 2 home runs (17 for season) while hitting .346.  Just look at what this guy has done the last three seasons.  Wow no one would have guessed he would do half that after watching his early utility days with the New York Mets.


Sunday, August 13, 2017

2017 FANTASY FOOTBALL PLAYER ANALYZER: JORDY NELSON WR GREEN BAY PACKERS

When it comes to the wide receiver position heading into 2017 fantasy football, there is a general understanding that the top four guys are Antonio Brown, Odell Beckham Jr,., Julio Jones, and Mike Evans in mostly that order.  All four are dominant WR 1's and all are deserving of their first-round status.  Right behind them though is a golden oldie in the form of Green Bay Packers veteran Jordy Nelson who has been one of the very best TD producers at the position since he first broke in out of Kansas State.  While Nelson had a completely lost 2015 campaign due to a torn ACL in his knee, he was the NFL's Comeback Player of the Year in 2016 when he caught 97 balls for 1,257 yards and 14 touchdowns.  A magnificent season all the way around and so Nelson very much should be in play as early as the top pick of Round 2.

Now in digging in more on Nelson, a few things stand out.  One is that again he has been an insane TD producer in his career, having gone for 13 or more three times.  Nelson has also always been a major yardage stud as well, going over 1,200 yards on four occasions, with all four coming in the last five seasons he was healthy.  So clearly the baseline that has been established with Nelson is a ton of yardage and a ton of TD's.  However over the last two of his healthy seasons, Nelson has gone over the 95-catch mark which he had never come close to doing previously. In fact Nelson only once in his first six seasons went for over 80 catches and so he has been an uptick guy there as he has gotten older.  And it is age that is pretty much the only worry we have on Nelson who will be 32 when the 2017 season gets underway.  Perhaps an indication to age was seen in Nelson's 13.0 yards per catch a year ago which was his lowest since 2010.  It is possible there has been a slight dip in pure speed from Nelson and that he is no longer the big home run TD scorer he was earlier in his career.  Be that as it may, he remains the top receiving dog in an always explosive Green Bay passing offense led by Aaron Rodgers and so the number should flow regardless.  So in the end, Nelson should be drafted as an early second round to be your firm WR 1 once again this season.

2017 PROJECTION:  90 catches 1,267 yards 12 TD  


2017 FANTASY BASEBALL NEWS: MRI BEING DONE ON BRYCE HARPER SUN.

Updating an earlier item, Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper will undergo an MRI on the injured left knee he suffered Saturday night that required a cart to remove him from the field.  Harper was in visible pain and while the Nats are calling it a hyperextension, there is a fear that there could be an ACL tear which would finish Harper for the season.  An announcement is expected before Sunday's game.  

2017 FANTASY BASEBALL INJURY FALLOUT: ALL BRYCE HARPER OWNERS TURNING BLUE WHILE HOLDING BREATH ON KNEE

                                                         

Wow.  It doesn't get any bigger than this potentially as all fantasy baseball owners of Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper hold their breath to find out just how bad the knee injury he sustained Saturday night is.  Harper was injured running to first base during his first at-bat and appeared to slip on what was a slick field.  He went down like he was shot and appeared in quite a bit of pain as a cart soon came out to take Harper off the field.    As of this writing, no update has been given on Harper but that looked as bad as can be and a torn ACL or an MCL injury is very possible.  That would end Harper's season in its tracks and create a Grand Canyon-sized hole in his fantasy baseball owner's lineups that simply can't be replaced.  With it being Sunday, Harper's owners are saying a few extra prayers this morning but it doesn't look good.


2017 FANTASY BASEBALL WRAPUP: SATURDAY

Andrew Benintendi:  2/5 with 2 home runs (16 for season) while hitting .280.  Benintendi is as hot as he was in April when he began this monster rookie season of his.  Scary to think what he will be in another year or so.  Knocking on OF 1 status already and in fact Benintendi may be there already.

Gary Sanchez:  2/4 with his 19th HR while hitting .269.  Sanchez has actually been what I anticipated him to be with the average taking a dip but the power remaining potent as he moves toward his prime years.  His defense is absolutely abominable behind the dish however and so a move to full-time DH next season could be in the offing.

Jacoby Ellsbury:  1/4 with his 5th HR while hitting .241.  As great a GM as Brian Cashman is, I still for the life of me can't understand why he gave this loser seven years.

Luis Severino:  8 ER in 4.1 IP with an ERA of 3.32.  Severino had nothing in this one and he is allowed a clunker considering how great he has pitched this season in reaching near-ace status.  The only concern now is that this doesn't morph into a full blown fatigue fade which is likely to happen at some point as Severino reaches uncharted innings territory.

Mike Clevinger:  7 IP 4 H 0 ER 1 BB 9 K with an ERA of 3.65.  Just when I think I never have to make note of Clevinger again, he goes out and does this.  Decent debut for the guy I have to say.

Jose Berrios:  6 ER in 3.1 IP with an ERA of 4.27.  Now you know I was not overly excited about Berrios back in May.  Just too unrefined for my taste.

Byron Buxton:  2/4 with his sixth HR while hitting .230.  Yeah so much for those "next Mike Trout" discussions.

Yoenis Cespedes:  1/4 with his 14th HR while hitting .275.  I said last week that Cespedes is capable of getting red hot for a two months stretch so keep the faith.  That two months stretch has begun.

Aaron Nola:  7 IP 1 H 1 ER 2 BB 8 K with an ERA of 3.02.  This is an elite starting pitcher folks.   Again not trying to gloat (maybe a little) but I kept the faith here and now look.  While Nola let us down a year ago, it was injury and not stuff-related.  Just 24, Nola has a 9.43 K/9 and 2.64 BB/9. What a season.

Adam Duvall:  1/5 with his 26th HR while hitting .262.  The new top choice for "cheaper than it should be" power.

Zack Cozart:  1/4 with his 16th HR while hitting .319.  The funny thing is that as great as Cozart has been this season, he will still come cheap next season as the fantasy baseball community will want to see him do it again.  So then yes I will own Cozart.

Travis Shaw:  2/5 with his 25th HR while hitting .292.  This dream season of Shaw has continued on unabated and he really has put himself into firm top ten status at the position for 2018 fantasy baseball.  What was Boston thinking?

Ryan Braun:  1/3 with his 13th HR and 8th SB while hitting .292.  Throwback game for Braun here but they don't come around as often anymore with a body that is failing him.

Eric Thames:  2/5 with his 27th HR and 3rd SB while hitting .248.  What is funny is that through all the crazy early hysteria over Thames, he has settled into a classic power with the ugly batting average like a million other guys.

Giancarlo Stanton:  3/4 with his 41st HR while hitting .281.  Don't think for a second that Stanton has not breathed a giant sigh of relief for finally reaching 40 homers and now that he is more relaxed, 50 should arrive soon.

Jose Abreu:  3/4 with 2 home runs (21 for season) while hitting .290.  Seems like you can write .290 with 25-27 homers each and every season for Abreu and he has replaced Adrian Gonzalez as one of the most cheapest first base top ten bats in fantasy baseball.

Eric Hosmer:  2/4 with his 19th HR while hitting .312.  Yeah I think my days of criticizing Hosmer are over.  Nothing to complain about here as Hosmer finally has put it all together across the entire offensive spectrum.

Melky Cabrera:  1/4 with his 16th HR while hitting .297.  Yeah I was surprised at how decent a season Cabrera is having too.  Since the steroids bust he has been kind of out of sight/out of mind for me.

Paul DeJong:  2/3 with his 17th HR while hitting .291.  Listen we should have seen this coming.  For one thing, DeJong is a St. Louis Cardinals farm hand which alone is cause for fantasy baseball excitement.  Second, DeJong hit .299 with 13 home runs in just 48 Triple-A games before his promotion.  Guy can swing it.

Carlos Martinez:  6 IP 7 H 3 ER 1 BB 7 K with an ERA of 3.56.  By all accounts Martinez has had a good season (although not the ace-type his fantasy baseball owners anticipated) but his 9-9 record shows you how asinine the wins column is in 5 x 5 fantasy baseball leagues.

Mike Napoli:  1/4 with his 23rd HR while hitting .199.  Napoli is losing now to Joey Gallo (.208) in the Texas Rangers ultimate home-run-or-nothing batting title race.

Tyson Ross:  5.2 IP 4 H 3 ER 5 BB 2 K with an ERA of 7.11.  At one time a very good young power arm, chalk Ross up as the latest TOS victim that has completely ruined a career.

David Peralta:  3/5 with his 9th HR while hitting .305.  All in all a solid season for Peralta but Ender Inciarte left him behind in terms of the young Arizona Diamondbacks outfielders who I liked back in 2015.

Patrick Corbin:  6 IP 5 H 0 ER 1 BB 8 K with an ERA of 4.52.  I still believe in the talent a bit but never chased it this season unlike Aaron Nola.

Tim Beckham:  4/5 with 3 RBI while hitting .295.  Yeah I would say Beckham is loving hitting life in Baltimore.  Said to pick him up right after the trade from Tampa Bay.  How is that working out?

Khris Davis:  2/4 with his 32nd HR while hitting .243.  Get that up to .260 bro.

Sean Manaea:  6 ER in .1 IP with an ERA of 4.59.  There is a bad day at the office and then there is Sean Manaea 8/12/2017.

Kyle Seager:  2/4 with his 18th HR while hitting .258.  So how many bought low when I told you to in June?

Cam Bedrosian:  scoreless ninth for fifth save with an ERA of 3.67.  Really like the arm on Bedrosian and think he can be a very good closer if he can stay in one piece.


Saturday, August 12, 2017

2017 FANTASY FOOTBALL STATUS REPORT: JAY AJAYI SUDDENLY BECOMING QUITE RISKY DUE TO CONCUSSION

It has now been two weeks and Miami Dolphins running back Jay Ajayi has still not been cleared to return to full-contact practice for the team due to the concussion he suffered prior to that time frame.  This is now turning into quite a bit of a problem as fantasy football drafts are fully underway and expectations for Ajayi as a rare bellcow back in a run-dominant offense are sky-high.  Right now Ajayi is being picked right near the top of Round 2 but if he doesn't return soon, that lofty draft status is not going to look so hot.  Also the threat of additional concussions are always a major red flag as well and so Ajayi becomes another question mark in a position that has been marred with issues involving the big names at or near the top of this list.  Ezekiel Elliott has already been suspended for six game and Le'Veon Bell is holding out and drawing concern about what kind of shape he may be in when he does return.  Throw in the hamstring injury of DeMarco Murray and Ajayi's concussion and there are a slew of questions marks going around to muddle drafts.  That just makes guys like David Johnson, LeSean McCoy, and Devonta Freeman that much more valuable.  

2017 FANTASY FOOTBALL PRESEASON GAME 1 WRAPUP: FRIDAY

-It didn't take long for rookie Cincinnati Bengals running back Joe Mixon to show the flash and dash that makes him such an exciting rookie.  Mixon made the most of his six carries by rushing for 31 yards and also added an 11-yard catch.  What is obvious is that Mixon has explosive ability and can take it all the way whenever he touches the football.  Jeremy Hill did get the start but we continue to think this is just window dressing and that Mixon will be the guy real soon.  The only possibly negative is Hill stealing goal-line work which he is seems accustomed to doing but that would only knock Mixon more in standard formats.  Still keep Mixon in your high RB 3 plans.

-Pat Mahomes showed off his big game in his NFL debut as he completed 7-of-9 passes for 49 yards and a touchdown for the Kansas City Chiefs.  There is little to talk about here in terms of fantasy football as Alex Smith is the firm starter barring injury but Mahomes has the cannon arm that could lead to some big numbers in his future.

-It was all Spencer Ware with the first-team unit on Friday night as he rushed for six yards on four carries and scored a touchdown.  Ware also added three catches for 20 yards as he did a nice PPR performance in front of rookie Kareem Hunt.  Speaking of Hunt, he barely touched the football as he rushed for once for no gain and caught one measly pass for 9 yards.  While Hunt could be a factor if Ware gets off to a slow start, it looks like the veteran will get the lion's share of the work early on.

-Carlos Hyde rushed for zero yards on two carries and caught one ball for 3 yards in a short cameo on Friday.  While there were rumblings about Hyde's standing on the San Francisco 49ers on the new coaching staff under Kyle Shanahan, he is clearly the best back on the team and will be the likely workhorse starter.  That has some appeal in fantasy football obviously but Hyde doesn't catch passes and is ALWAYS injured which means drafting him is quite stressful.

-Already we are hearing that Orleans Darkwa has a chance to steal work from Paul Perkins in the New York Giants backfield and Friday night should reinforce that thought.  Perkins was listless as he rushed for just 3 yards on 5 carries, while Darkwa has shown decent running/receiving ability in the past which has kept him around as a factor.  Something to watch here moving into Week 2 of the preseason.

-Mike Evans looked in midseason form already as he caught 4 balls for 58 yards on two series.  Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB Jameis Winston loves zeroing in on Evans like Matt Ryan does Julio Jones and so this could be a 100-catch hookup in 2017.


Friday, August 11, 2017

2017 FANTASY BASEBALL WELCOME TO THE SHOW: DOMINIC SMITH 1B NEW YORK METS

Just a little more than a week after the New York Mets called up top shortstop prospect Amed Rosario to the big league club, the team will now promote top first base prospect Dominic Smith to make his MLB debut on Friday.  While not in the same tier as Rosario in terms of universal acclaim in the prospect community, Smith still is a former first round pick by the team (11th overall) back in 2013 and has had a big 2017 campaign at Triple-A with the bat.  While Smith's numbers do have to be taken with a bit of grain of salt given the PCL environment, they still are very impressive nonetheless:

.330
16 HR
76 RBI
77 R
1 SB

A .300 average and 16 home runs looked very potent no matter where they are accomplished and so Smith should be added where available when it comes to fantasy baseball.  Ultimately his overall stock will be determined by how much power he hits away from the PCL environment which is up for debate.  Still at the age of 22, Smith has more filling out to do and more power to add.  Also Smith really can handle the bat as he has hit .305, .302, and .330 the last three seasons in the minors.  He walks at a nice clip (7.8 BB/9) and Smith's strikeout rare (17.4 K/9) checks out as well.  So while he may not hit for the power he has shown in the minors initially, Smith has a very smooth swing that should pile up the hits and boost the average, runs, and RBI.  Overall a decent prospect to invest in the rest of the season.


2017 FANTASY FOOTBALL STATUS REPORT: SIX GAME SUSPENSION SLAPPED ON EZEKIEL ELLIOTT

                                                              
 
As reported earlier in the day and speculated on weeks ago, Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott was slapped with a six-game suspension to begin the 2017 season by the NFL for a series of domestic violence incidents involving a girlfriend last summer.  There are a lot of variables here but it starts with the fact the NFL had some clear evidence of wrongdoing by Elliott to go to such a lengthy suspension.  Obviously an appeal will be filed here as it almost always is when players get suspended and it is likely that thought and the expectation Elliott would get a game or two chopped off that the NFL went six games to cover themselves.  Either way, this is a huge story for 2017 fantasy football drafts as now Elliott should not be picked in round 1 no matter the format.  Also Elliott should see the following running backs go before him given the suspension:  Johnson, Bell, McCoy, Howard, Freeman, Ajayi, and Melvin Gordon.  Last year I myself drafted Le'Veon Bell late in Round 2 as he faced a three-game suspension and that worked out swimmingly but six games (or five or four is some are slashed) are a big deal.  Also there is the the not-so-small matter of the league warning Elliott that if he messes up again, he will likely be banished for over a year.  There could be a story that has not come out yet Elliott that could lead to such a move so even drafting Elliott as a value play carries sizable risk.  In his absence, Alfred Morris and Darren McFadden will likely split the workload and so that makes both nothing more than backup material at best.  In the end though, Elliott's suspension has really thrown drafts into chaos.

  

2017 FANTASY FOOTBALL TRADE FALLOUT: JORDAN MATTHEWS GETS NEW LIFE IN BUFFALO

                                                            

Already Friday August 11th was a monstrous day in 2017 fantasy football without a single snap being played yet.  It started with Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott being suspended six games and was soon followed by the Buffalo Bills dealing away former first-round pick WR Sammy Watkins to the Los Angeles Rams.  Now we get a third storyline as the Bills got their Watkins replacement by completing a deal with the Philadelphia Eagles for WR Jordan Matthews.  The Bills also got a 2018 third-round pick in the deal and surrendered CB Ronald Darby.  Clearly on the outs in Philly given the arrival of Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith, Matthews has new life with the Bills where he all of a sudden moves into WR 1 territory on his own team.  Now Matthews is not a WR 1 in fantasy football but he has top WR 3 status as the top target of QB Tyrod Taylor.  We have seen glimpses of big-time ability from Matthews since entering into the league as he has caught 85 and 73 balls the last two years but the Eagles had other plans for him.  Matthews needs to be moved up your cheat sheets as he has durability that Watkins didn't have and could pick up 80-plus catches for the price of a late mid-round pick.


2017 FANTASY FOOTBALL TRADE FALLOUT: BUFFALO THROWS IN TOWEL ON OFT-INJURED WR SAMMY WATKINS IN SHIPPING HIM TO RAMS

                                                            

The Buffalo Bills, perhaps growing weary of all the missed games due to injury, traded top wide receiver Sammy Watkins to the Los Angeles Rams on Friday along with a sixth-round pick in 2018 for the Ram's 2018 second-rounder and CB E.J. Gaines.  Having missed 11 games over the last two seasons with chronic foot injuries, the Bills signaled that they were no longer able to count on Watkins and his WR 1 ability when he was in fact healthy.  This turns out to be quite the get for new Rams head coach Sean McVay who despite his young age, has been lauded for his offensive ingenuity.  The move also was designed to give second-year QB Jared Goff a legitimate number 1 wideout which Watkins absolutely is.  The caveat of course is the health and Watkins simply can't be counted on with regards to that giant issue.  Throw in the fact he actually downgrades at QB from the solid Tyrod Taylor to Goff and his fantasy football value dips even further for 2017.  Given all this, my best advice is only get your hands on Watkins if you can procure him as a WR 3.  His clear top-notch athleticism and game-breaking ability would make him a steal under that premise but it is unlikely he would slip that far.  So in essence avoiding Watkins is likely the best course of action.


2017 FANTASY FOOTBALL BREAKING NEWS: RUMBLINGS EZEKIEL ELLIOTT TO GET SIX GAME BAN

There are multiple sources reporting early Friday that Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott will be suspended for six games by the NFL. The suspension stems primarily from the alleged domestic violence incident last summer with his girlfriend and he also was involved in a bar brawl that resulted in a patron suffering a broken jaw.

Analysis:  This will drop Elliott out of the first round entirely in 2017 fantasy football drafts given all the missed games and any further incident could get him booted for the season which makes him a huge overall risk. Yes the payoff could be big if you snag Elliott in Round 2 but this is a very bad overall development for Elliott's value. 

2017 FANTASY FOOTBALL PRESEASON WEEK 1 WRAPUP: THURSDAY

-Buffalo Bills QB Tyrod Taylor put a big scare into his team early in his preseason debut Thursday night by limping off the field with some sort of leg injury.  While Taylor did get looked at one the sidelines, he came back into the game and seemed none the worse for wear.   A clear running passer who comes up short numbers-wise throwing the football, Taylor is ideally a backup in single-passer leagues and a decent number 2 in two QB formats.

-More glimpses of greatness from Bills wideout Sammy Watkins who caught four balls for 39 yards in the team's preseason opener.  Of course it is always the same story with Watkins which is that as great an athlete and burgeoning star WR 1 that he can be, the guy simply can't stay healthy.  Also throw in the limitations of Tyrod Taylor under center and Watkins once again carries too much risk for my taste outside of snagging him as a WR 3.

-Dalvin Cook played the every down back role early in the Minnesota Vikings' preseason opener and this firmly cements the team's expected plans going into the season.  Cook showed off his impressive PPR upside as he caught four balls for 30 yards and he also picked up 13 yards on the ground on 5 carries.  Now the Vikings' offensive line looks like one of the worst units in the league which could cap the rushing numbers a bit from Cook but he is a tremendous receiver who can easily be a RB 2 in all leagues.  Move him up firmly.

-Rob Kelley rushed for 2 yards on 3 carries and even caught one pass for another 5 yards in his preseason debut for the Washington Redskins.  Chris Thompson once again came on third downs like he did in place of Kelley in 2016 and that looks to be the setup for now.  That means rookie Samaje Perine should be treated as nothing more than a RB 4/5 in terms of fantasy football given the setup.

-In our 2017 NFL Draft Guide, I wrote about how I thought Chicago Bears QB Mitch Trubisky was going to be the next Matt Ryan as a silky-smooth and highly accurate passer who can expertly read defenses.  Well so far so good on that prediction as Trubisky was tremendous in his NFL debut in completing 18-of-25 throws for 166 yards and a score.  Yes it came against the Denver Broncos' second-and-third-string defenses but this is who Dak Prescott started last season and we know how that turned out.  Mike Glennon is the clear starter from Week 1 but if Trubisky continues to play this well this summer, he could get the call quicker than anticipated.

-DeShon Kizer did well himself in his NFL debut for the Cleveland Browns in completing 11-for-18 for 184 yards and a score.  He also added 13 yards on the ground on 2 carries.  Kizer doesn't have the mechanics and accurate of Trubisky but he is already the best option the Browns have as both the woeful Brock Osweiler (6-of-14 for 42 yards) and Cody Kessler were bad Thursday.  There will be growing pains here but the Browns have nothing to lose in terms of this Cam Newton-type QB getting a chance early.

-Terrance West rushed for 23 yards and a score on just 5 carries as he looks to take on the starting running back role for the Baltimore Ravens in place of the out-for-the-year Kenneth Dixon.  West has been good in short bursts in the past and he figures to gain RB 3 value in standard formats while Danny Woodhead goes to a RB 2 in PPR with Dixon out.

-It was a jittery debut for Washington Redskins rookie back Samaje Perine who lost a fumble and picked up just 15 yards on 6 carries.  Perine also dropped a pass as he clearly worked behind starter Rob Kelley and third-down back Chris Thompson.  It looked like Perine would be a prime fantasy football sleeper when he was first drafted but it doesn't look like he will be much of a factor early on in the season.


Thursday, August 10, 2017

2017 FANTASY BASEBALL STATUS REPORT: JOEY GALLO 3B/OF TEXAS RANGERS

Yours truly has proven the point in the last week about how every player with a talent in fantasy baseball can be of use both to myself and all of you.  In this case, I am referring to Texas Rangers third baseman/outfielder Joey Gallo who I have been a tremendous critic of going back to his 2016 debut.  While I never had any issues with Gallo's monster power, it was his extreme Adam Dunn-like all-or-nothing approach that resulted in .200 batting averages that had me avoiding owning the kid like the plague.  Simply put, I have no use for guys who hurt you in average while helping in home runs which is counterproductive.  However the one caveat was picking up a player more than halfway through a season in order to help in the short-term.  And this is who I got to owning Joey Gallo beginning a week ago.

For starter's, the third base position has been troublesome for me in the Experts League fantasy baseball league.  Yes I own Manny Machado put I have been playing him at shortstop where he has some more value.  Todd Frazier has been my third baseman for most of the year but his bat has been ice cold in particular over the last month.  So that led me to pick up Gallo who has been added or dropped in the Experts League already four times this year.  Basically when he is hot, he is picked up.  When the K's get crazy, Gallo gets dropped.  So I picked up Gallo last week to replace the benched Frazier and needless to say, the move has paid off nicely.  In the 8 games I have owned Gallo, he has homered in six of them and for a total of 7 in that span.  For the season now, Gallo has hit a monster 32 home runs with 61 RBI and 61 runs scored which are tremendous numbers in all three categories.  The homers and RBI go with the extreme power Gallo has but the runs come from the fact he has walked 48 times this season.  The negatives?  Try a disgusting 37.7 K/9 rate that has led to a horrid .210 average.  That average is terrible and take away some of the value from the power but at teh age of 23, Gallo should hopefully make some gains there as he ages.  Until then, Gallo's power can literally carry you for weeks at a time as he is doing for me now.

So in essence, Joey Gallo is your true three-outcome performer who either walks, strikeouts, or homers.  That works in short bursts but until he gains some semblance of plate discipline, Gallo can be tough to deal with for an entire season.


2017 FANTASY FOOTBALL PRESEASON WEEK 1 WRAPUP: PANTHERS/TEXANS

Already the Hall of Fame Game has been played and now the rest of the NFL is getting in on the preseason action starting with the Carolina Panthers and Houston Texans Wednesday night.  Let's take a look at the fantasy football-worthy items to come out of the game.

-Greg Olson made a cameo appearance for the Panthers in the game and managed to snag a 32-yard pass down the middle.  For as injury prone as consensus top tight end Rob Gronkowski annually is, you can make the case that the ultra-durable Olson is deserving of being the top pick at the position.  

-Houston Texans QB Tom Savage did well on paper in completing 9-of-11 throws for 69 yards but most were of the short variety and there was no electricity at all during his stint.  Savage is expected to start Week 1 but it shouldn't be long before rookie DeShaun Watson gets a shot since he is head-and-shoulders more physically gifted then the uninspiring Savage.  The problem here of course is the very negative effect the shaky QB play has on star WR DeAndre Hopkins and running back Lamar Miller.  Hopkins saw his numbers drop drastically a year ago with similar QB problems under center and Miller faced stacked boxes which he couldn't shake.  We are inclined to avoid both.  

-Kelvin Benjamin has been ignored in early drafts after his somewhat disappointing comeback from ACL surgery in 2016 but he started the preseason strong by catching two passes for 40 yards and a touchdown from backup QB Derek Anderson.  Benjamin has more value in standard formats then he does in PPR given the fact he has never been a big receptions guy but another year removed from the surgery could help him have a career-best season in 2017.

-Christian McCaffrey looked good in his NFL debut as he rushed for 33 yards on 7 carries but he is looks to be in a very uncertain fantasy football position in at least standard formats given the continued presence of veteran Jonathan Stewart.  McCaffrey should be good for upwards of 50 receptions though and that could sneak him into RB 2 status in PPR leagues.  

-Devin Funchess worked with the Carolina starters and caught just one pass for four yards but the kid has shown a nose for the end zone in his young career.  Not the worst way to use a very late round pick in standard formats.  

-Alfred Blue worked in front of rookie D'Onta Foreman and he scored a touchdown during his appearance.  Lamar Miller will likely get the lion's share of touches in the Houston backfield but Blue could possibly earn a goal-line spot.  


2017 FANTASY BASEBALL TRADE FALLOUT: INDIANS SHORE UP OUTFIELD BY ACQUIRING JAY BRUCE FROM THE NEW YORK METS

Apparently there is a team out there who can use 29 home runs and 75 RBI.  Unlike leading up to and at the July 31 non-waivers MLB trade deadline, New York Mets slugging outfielder Jay Bruce finally found a new home late on Wednesday when the team sent him to the Cleveland Indians for minor-league pitcher Ryder Ryan.  A free agent at the end of the season, the Indians will pick up the remainder of Bruce's contract this season which the New York Yankees were not willing to do in an earlier attempt to make a trade for him.  Now in terms of the numbers, Bruce goes to Cleveland with the 29 home runs and 75 RBI; along with 61 runs and a .256 average.  While he ran a bit earlier in his career, those days are over as Bruce has yet to record a steal this season.  Still Bruce is on pace for a career-best in home runs (he cracked 34 in 2012) and collect a healthy dose of RBI that could move up toward 100.  Add in the shaky .256 average due to a bit of a high 22.8 K/9 rate and this is pretty much a typical Bruce season in terms of fantasy baseball.  He also will move from one pitching ballpark to another so Bruce won't get any sort of environment boost either.  So while this is a lateral move for his fantasy baseball value, this likely signals that Bruce won't be returning to the Mets as a free agent at the end of the year since they won't have the qualifying option.  


Wednesday, August 9, 2017

2017 FANTASY BASEBALL WELCOME TO THE SHOW: RHYS HOSKINS 1B/OF PHILDELPHIA PHILLIES

Unable to keep him in the minor leagues any longer given the beyond advanced power bat he continues to show, the Philadelphia Phillies are prepared to promote top first base prospect Rhys Hoskins to make his MLB debut on Thursday.  Only that his debut will come in the outfield and not at first base as the Phils hd Hoskins undergo a crash course in the latter since he was blocked from manning his natural position.  We have seen many cases of big-time bats being moves to another position in order to get them in the lineup and clearly this is what the rebuilding Phillies are doing here with the kid.  While there are no guarantees about how Hoskins will do defensively, there seems to be no doubt about the thunderous bat he brings to the major leagues.  Already Hoskins has cracked a monster 28 home runs with 86 RBI and 76 runs scored in 470 at-bats at Triple-A and clearly the power jumps off the page as Hoskins' calling card.  What really makes Hoskins unique when it comes to power prospects is that he doesn't have the high strikeout rate that 80 percent of them do when they the reach the majors.  Hoskins is batting .280 so far this season and he hit .281 at Double-A a year ago.  Hoskins in particular in 2017 has shown terrific plate discipline as his 13.6 BB/9 rate is phenomenal and would make Jason Giambi proud and his 16.0 K/9 rate is superb as well.  So that means Hoskins won't be the average liability that most young power prospects are at least initially and all of that power figures to show up right away.  In most competitive leagues Hoskins should be owned already due to his sky-high upside but check anyway as this kid will be a star real soon.


Tuesday, August 8, 2017

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.  Ezekiel Elliott:  Elliott should be dropped behind McCoy and maybe a few others depending on the length of his upcoming suspension.
5.  Jordan Howard:  I like Howard a bit more than most but will be rare bellcow back and was a rushing machine as a rookie.
6.  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.
7.  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.
8.  Devonta Freeman:  If not for Tevin Coleman, would have Freeman top five.  In PPR though he can be moved up a bit.
9.  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.
10. 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.
11. 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.
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. Marshawn Lynch:  Tough call here as Lynch is a true BEAST but a year off and injury concerns are valid worries.
15. Mark Ingram:  Was better than you thought last season given all the turmoil but the arrival of Adrian Peterson a big negative to value.  Seems too high maintenance a player to own.
16. Carlos Hyde:  Has missed about half his NFL games with injury and that is where convo ends for yours truly.
17. Ty Montgomery:  Not sure exactly what the Packers have in mind here for Montgomery but should only be interesting as a RB 2 in PPR.  
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.
21. Bilal Powell:  The Jets still have Matt Forte around which is a bummer as Powell capable of RB 1 numbers.
22. LeGarrette Blount:  Blount landed in an ideal spot in Philly where he will dominate touches and have a chance for 2016 New England rushing numbers.
23. Spencer Ware:  Very disappointing last season as Ware blew a golden chance to be the Chiefs' primary runner.  Kareem Hunt already gathering a ton of buzz.
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.
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:  New York Giants head coach Ben McAdoo loves Perkins and that alone will give him prime chances to be an impact RB 2.
30. Kareem Hunt:  Right now I think Hunt is 50/50 to be the Week 1 starter.  I am bullish.
31. C.J. Anderson
32. Danny Woodhead:  Really loving Woodhead as a top RB 2 in PPR formats with Kenneth Dixon out for 2017.
33. 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.
34. Theo Riddick
35. Latavius Murray
36. Duke Johnson
37. Ameer Abdullah
38. James White
39. Jonathan Stewart
40. Adrian Peterson
41. Jamaal Charles:  Has a chance to carve out a niche as a pass catching back in the Denver backfield but don't your breath here.
42. Darren Sproles
43. C.J. Prosise
44. Rob Kelley
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


2017 FANTASY FOOTBALL TRAINING CAMP WRAPUP: DERRICK HENRY MAKING PUSH BEHIND INJURED DeMARCO MURRAY

-A hamstring injury at the start of training camp has created an interesting and developing situation in the Tennessee Titans backfield.  With starter DeMarco Murray being hobbled by the hammy the last few days, backup and former Alabama Heisman Trophy winner Derrick Henry has been lighting it up in practice according to reporters who cover the team.  Already there have been rumblings that the Titans want to get Henry more involved this season and of course that would come at the expense of some of Murray's numbers.  Last season Murray had a monster comeback season in rushing for 1,287 yards and 9 touchdowns, while also catching 53 balls for another 377 yards and 3 scores.  Still Murray is now 29 and has a long history of injuries going back to his Dallas Cowboys days.  Meanwhile Henry averaged 4.5 per carry on his 490 rushing yards as a rookie and he picked up 5 rushing scores as well.  Henry has clearly shown he deserves more time and there was a report a few days ago that the team can envision him doubling those 490 yards.  Again that would come at the expense of Murray and so this is something that needs to be watched closely in terms of 2017 fantasy football.  At the very least, if you draft Murray you need to reach a bit and back him up with Henry to be safe.

-The Cincinnati Bengals are listed Jeremy Hill at the top of the running back depth chart, with Gio Bernard number two, and rookie Joe Mixon third leading up to the team's preseason opener.  By now we know the depth chart means nothing and Mixon still has an excellent chance to be the primary runner when the season gets underway.  In fact Mixon is the only back among the three I would suggest targeting in drafts.

-Speaking of rookie backs, it is quite obvious that Dalvin Cook will be the primary runner and starter for the Minnesota Vikings beginning in Week 1.  With veteran Latavius Murray being injured to this point, Cook has impressed in workouts.  He has particular upside in PPR leagues as Cook is a terrific receiver who can be a RB 2 right away in that format.

-Jamaal Charles will not sit up for the Denver Broncos' preseason opener but this is not such a newsworthy item given his veteran status and coming back from a washed-out 2016 campaign in recovering from a second ACL surgery.  Charles still should be looked at as a backup in PPR leagues due to his receiving ability but he can be ignored in standard setups.  

-Still no word on when Indianapolis Colts QB Andrew Luck will return from his offseason shoulder surgery.  Luck is rumored to be missing at least Week 1, with the outside chance he could begin on PUP if things continue to go slowly with his recovery.  

-Kareem Hunt was a popular fantasy football sleeper the minute he was drafting by the Kansas City Chiefs as head coach Andy Reid is renowned for his ability to get the most out of his backs.  Spencer Ware was pretty brutal once September was through last season and so Hunt should be right there with Cook in terms of rookie backs who need to be on all of your sleeper lists.  


2017 FANTASY FOOTBALL UPDATED QUARTERBACK RANKINGS

Given the fact we already are talking about injury issues here (looking at you Mr. Luck), let's see what the latest batch of 2017 fantasy football QB rankings look like.  

1.  Aaron Rodgers:  Back on top and until proven otherwise.  Second half of 2016 was nearly flawless. 
2.  Drew Brees:  Sorry but Brees remains the bets bet to pass for 5.000 yards and over 30 scores despite coming up on 40.
3.  Tom Brady:  If Brady were 50 he would still be an early round pick. 
4.  Matt Ryan:  Had a monster career-year in 2017 and may finally get the due he deserves as a perennially underrated fantasy football passer. However expecting a repeat is a bit risky considering offensive architect Kyle Shanahan is now in San Francisco and Ryan has never gone near numbers like that before which means there is a risk of an outlier.  
5.  Ben Roethlisberger:  Like with Andrew Luck, the talent is without question but the injury problems are stark. 
6.  Kirk Cousins:  Tremendous value here as the Redskins will throw all day long and Cousins has durability Big Ben and Luck don't have, 
7.  Derek Carr:  Throw out the freak broken leg last season and get back fully on board with this emerging talent. 
8.  Andrew Luck:  Luck drops all the way down from the third spot given the increased chatter he may sit Week 1 and could even begin on PUP.  No good.  
9.  Jameis Winston:  Another major value play here as Winston saw DeSean Jackson join an already very strong stable of receivers.  Could explode to top tier status. 
10. Marcus Mariota:  A bit of a slow recovery from a broken leg but that will just keep Mariota's draft price down to where he can be a big value.  Was in the midst of a huge breakout last season before the break which validated passing ability. 
11. Dak Prescott:  Don't be suckered here.  For as good as Prescott was as a rookie, he operates in a major run-heavy offense that doesn't throw the football down the field much. 
12. Cam Newton:  Told you Newton was a bust-in-waiting prior to last season and he went with the plan.  2015 now a clear passing outlier and Newton can't stay on the field of late.  Avoid. 
13. Philip Rivers:  I say every year that Rivers is as good a QB value play as here is and that remains true for 2017.  Receiving corps was overhauled over the winter as well which adds to the always durable Rivers' upside. 
14. Eli Manning:  Yeah I am an Eli apologist but I can't help it.  They bring in Brandon Marshall and ace receiving tight end rookie Evan Engram to join Odell Beckham and Sterling Shepard to give Manning arguably the best receiving corps in the NFL.  Give Eli once more chance. 
15. Carson Wentz:  A nice start dissolved into pronounced second-half struggles for Wentz as a rookie in 2016.  I am a believer in his talent though and think the value could be immense now that the Eagles added Torrey Smith and
16. Russell Wilson:  Again Wilson is grossly overrated as he is not a big numbers fantasy football QB.  Another one whose 2015 seems like an outlier. 
17. Matthew Stafford:  I am always a sucker for the powerful arm of Stafford but the numbers don't ever seem to get there. 
18. Carson Palmer:  Palmer could be on fumes this season as he looked very shaky last season.  Stay away. 
19. Blake Bortles:  Jags already saying Bortles won't be throwing as much in 2017 and that is not a good thing considering he is coming off a major step back last season. 
20. Andy Dalton:  Runs too hot and cold to rely on as anything more than a backup. 
21. Tyrod Taylor:  Taylor has speed to burn but he doesn't throw the football enough to be fantasy football-worthy.  
22. Sam Bradford:  We have seen this story way too many times to think the rotten endings will ever be anything different. 
23. Jay Cutler/Matt Moore:  Whoeevre starts for the Dolphins in place of the injured Ryan Tannehill could gain backup status in two-passer leagues but that is far as the optimism goes until we see some production out of whoever goes under center.
24. Brian Hoyer:  Will get a chance to start for the 49ers in Week 1 but Hoyer should not be drafted. 
25. Mike Glennon:  Could be Brock Osweiler all over again as a guy who flashed in the past but who is not good enough to be a starter. 
26. Joe Flacco:  Like how the Ravens overhauled the receiving corps but Flacco has made a career out of being mediocre with his numbers. 
27. Alex Smith:  I don't have to tell you to pass this guy on by. 
28. Trevor Siemian:  Could lose the starting QB gig to Paxton Lynch on the Broncos which adds to the fact you shouldn't draft him. 
29. Cody Kessler:  Only a matter of time before DeShon Kizer is starting. 
30. Jared Goff:  If you have Goff on your team, you are trying to finish last. 
31. Josh McCown:  It doesn't matter who the Jets start this season as the team is garbage.  Avoid this mess. 
32. Tom Savage:  The Texans have potential as a team but are being held back by the poor play under center.  

2017 FANTASY BASEBALL STATUS REPORT: CHRIS TAYLOR 2B LOS ANGELES DODGERS

The Los Angeles Dodgers are setting Major League Baseball on fire in 2017, with their ridiculous $200 million-plus payroll and win-at-all-costs strategy when it comes to trades (looking at your Mr. Yu Darvish).  However the Dodgers are not all high-priced millionaires manning every position on the diamond and being solely responsible for their 79-32 record going into Tuesday's action.  They also have gotten surprisingly potent contributions from other sources; most notably from second baseman Chris Taylor who has been one of the very best value plays in all of fantasy baseball in 2017.  A former 2012 fifth-round pick, Taylor failed to breakthrough with the Seattle Mariners before coming over to the Dodgers midway through 2016.  Even in his 36 games with the Mariners and Dodgers last season, Taylor hit a woeful .213 with 1 home runs and 0 steals.  In other words, a Quad-A player Taylor seemed to be.  Taylor stuck with the process though and came into spring training trying to win a bench job to begin the season.  While Taylor failed to make the team once spring training was through, he received a promotion in late April when injuries began to take a toll on the Dodgers infield and this after he hit just .233 in his 10 games at Triple-A.  Needless to say, this is where the storybook year for Taylor began as the wheels were put in motion for him to post what has been an amazing season to say the least.

A .296 late April performance with 2 home runs was followed by a scorching .322 mark with four more longball in May that signaled to the Dodgers they may have something on their hands with Taylor.  It was also there when the Dodgers made the decision to hand him the starting second baseman job.  Yes Taylor dipped to a .222 June which brought some questions about whether he was a short-term fix but he went nuts again in July with an insane .394 July with 3 home runs.  In terms of August through one week?  Try .320 with 3 home runs already to bring Taylor to the following season numbers:

.312
15 HR
62 R
54 RBI
13 SB

Looking at the cumulative totals, Taylor's 15/13 totals in home runs and steals is a tremendous number for a middle infielder and the .312 average is quite sweet as well.  Pretty much Taylor is doing everything he can to be a big-time impact player and a prize in fantasy baseball as well.  Now a few things do need to be noted here and the first is that Taylor's .408 BABIP is insanely lucky and due for regression. Simply put, Taylor is not a .312 hitter and when the luck regresses, he will shoot downward.  In addition, Taylor's 27.2 K/9 rate is very ugly and again will help drag the average down.  However at the age of 26, Taylor's power and running ability are at prime form and so he is not a fluke there.  While there are givebacks in the average on the way, Taylor should remain a viable starting second baseman in daily fantasy baseball leagues.

All in all, Chris Taylor is doing his part to help the Dodgers get to where they are today.  We love the power/speed middle infield here and so Taylor could very well be here to stay as a prime fantasy baseball impact player.


2017 FANTASY BASEBALL WRAPUP: MONDAY

Giancarlo Stanton:  1/4 with his 37th HR while hitting .277.  Three away from 40.  Now for the untimely injury.

Bryce Harper:  2/4 with his 29th HR while hitting .327.  It is amazing how few holes Harper has in his swing and when you can hit for that type of power it is almost not fair.

Max Scherzer:  7 IP 5 H 2 ER 2 BB 9 K with an ERA of 2.23.  I swear the guy is impervious to injury.  Yes a few "scares" pop up now and again (remember the finger issue that was a whole lot of nothing in spring training) but no derailment away from excellence takes place.

Sean Doolittle:  scoreless ninth for his ninth save with an ERA of 3.56.  It only took the Nats four months to find a competent closer.

Jose Pirela:  2/4 with 2 home runs (7 for season) while hitting .285.  Light-schedule day special.

Joey Votto:  2/3 with his 30th HR while hitting .314.  Votto reaches 30 homers for the second time in his career amid this fantasy baseball MVP campaign of his.  I mean you should start wondering now if Votto is good enough for the Hall of Fame.  Clearly one of the best pure hitters of he last century and of his era, Votto's power will help in the cause.

Adam Duvall:  1/4 with his 25th HR while hitting .267.  The Reds have some very impressive young hitters on their team to take into the future and Duvall has more than proven in 2017 than his 2016 breakout was no fluke.  And he even added some average points as a bonus.

Zack Cozart:  2/3 with his 13th HR while hitting .318.  Really a big fan of this guy who has had a Votto-lite season in the middle infield with no one caring.  What is funny is that you could have punted second base and shortstop in your draft this past spring and picked up this guy and his teammate Scooter Gennett and been sitting on two 2017 gems.

Keon Broxton:  2/4 with his 15th HR while hitting .222.  The big tease is back but even a smidge of plate discipline improvement would make the power/speed game (which is already quite impressive) jump off of the page.

Matt Carpenter:  2/4 with his 15th HR while hitting .249.  Carpenter used to be a .300 stick but falling in love with the home run ball has altered his swing and the average has sunk as a result since 2015.  Not totally happy about it.

Paul DeJong:  1/5 with his 16th HR while hitting .283.  Doesn't it feel like DeJong has hit all 16 of his homers since the All-Star Break?

Mike Moustakas:  2/4 with his 32nd HR while hitting .276.  I wish Moustakas would keep signing just one year deals so I could then feel compelled to own him since he clearly swats homers in bunches when dough is on the line.

Eric Hosmer:  1/4 with his 18th HR while hitting .315.  Like this guy too.

Carlos Martinez:  8 IP 7 H 2 ER 0 BB 7 K with an ERA of 3.52.  Martinez' shoulder has held together to this point and that is really all you ever need to concern yourself with here.  If intact, Martinez is a fantasy baseball ace.  Simple.

Mike Trout:  2/4 with his 23rd HR while hitting .346.  I want Mike Trout to go on an epic tear which he is capable of in order to pass Bryce Harper in homers so that the latter doesn't think for a second he is better than his Angels counterpart.  Which he is not.

Manny Machado:  1/4 with his 21st HR while hitting .256.  Next average stop:  .270.

Dylan Bundy:  7 IP 5 H 2 ER 0 BB 10 K with an ERA of 4.15.  Wondering where this was the last three months.

Jake Arrieta:  6.1 IP 9 H 2 ER 0 BB 5 K with an ERA of 3.83.  Arrieta is doing his best to finish strong.  Still won't go near him next season.


Monday, August 7, 2017

2017 FANTASY FOOTBALL ISSUES: GROWING CONCERN ANDREW LUCK (SHOULDER) COULD BEGIN SEASON ON PUP

                                                         

Already we have heard plenty of rumblings that Indianapolis Colts QB Andrew Luck could miss Week 1 as he continues his deliberate recovery from offseason shoulder surgery.  Where there is smoke in situations such as this, there usually is fire and so counting on Luck for Week 1 is becoming quite foolhardy.  However there have been some additional reports on Monday that state there is at least somewhat of a chance Luck could begin the year on PUP which means he would miss the first six weeks of the season.  In that case, receivers T.Y. Hilton, Donte Moncrief, and tight end Jack Doyle would all take a sizable hit in terms of fantasy football.  With drafts already underway in full force, this is becoming a very aggravating situation for those looking to draft any of those three since their fates rely so much on Luck being on the field.  At this point, it might be best of you haven't drafted yet, to avoid Hilton, Moncrief, and Doyle given the uncertainty.


2017 FANTASY FOOTBALL INJURY FALLOUT: QUINCY ENUMWA DONE FOR SEASON WITH NECK INJURY

Scratch New York Jets wideout Quincy Enunwa from your cheat sheets after it was learned Monday that he was done for the 2017 season due to a neck injury suffered in the team's scrimmage on Saturday.  Enunwa went down early in the scrimmage and in a scary scene, quickly collapsed to the ground once he initially got up after a contact play.  Subsequent tests have revealed some sort of neck injury that the Jets will update later in the day but his loss now means that severely untested Robby Anderson moves to the top spot in the receiving pecking order.  That tells you all you need to know about how pathetic a situation this is for the Jets in terms of offensively and Anderson really just has WR 4 value AT BEST despite his new status.  Ugliness all around on this club.


2017 FANTASY FOOTBALL BREAKING NEWS: CRIS CARTER CLAIMS HE KNOWS WHAT LOOMING SUSPENSION FOR EZEKIEL ELLIOTT WILL BE

Retired Hall of Fame wideout Cris Carter has claimed that he has inside information regarding the upcoming suspension of Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott.  Carter claims that the suspension will come down in the "next 48 hours" and that it will show that something nefarious did in fact happen to Elliott's girlfriend who accused him last summer.

Analysis:  The NFL seems to have some clear issues when it comes to deciding on punishments for domestic violence.  This has dragged on for too long now and so it needs to end soon.  Either way, Elliott should be dropped out of the early first round portion of fantasy football drafts given the games that are expected to be chopped off his ledger.