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Thursday, July 19, 2018

2018 FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: INDIANS ACQUIRE CLOSER BRAD HAND

A day after the Los Angeles Dodgers acquired Manny Machado, the Cleveland Indians fired off a trade round by picking up San Diego Padres closer Brad Hand in a deal for top catching prospect Francisco Mejia. The move is a decent one for Hand from a fantasy baseball perspective as he will now likely take over for the struggling Cody Allen as closer as he has pitched to a 3.05 ERA and striking out 65 batters in 44.1 IP. Kirby Yates now becomes the likely new closer in San Diego and he should be added everywhere. Yates is having a big year himself and he has the high K rate to succeed as a stopper. Mejia should also be added as his bat has been lauded throughout his development and now he will get a chance to play consistently. 

2018 FANTASY FOOTBALL WIDE RECEIVER RANKINGS

Here are the 2018 fantasy football WR rankings as we take out first look around the league with drafts underway.

1.  Antonio Brown
2.  DeAndre Hopkins
3.  Odell Beckham
4.  Julio Jones
5.  Michael Thomas
6.  Keenan Allen
7.  A.J. Green
8.  Davante Adams
9.  Adam Thielen
10. Doug Baldwin
11. Larry Fitzgerald
12. Demaryuis Thomas
13. Tyreek Hill
14. T.Y. Hilton
15. Mike Evans
16. Allen Robinson
17. Amari Cooper
18. Jarvis Landry
19. Golden Tate
20. JuJu Smith-Schuster
21. Stefon Diggs
22. Brandin Cooks
23. Alshon Jeffery
24. Josh Gordon
25. Jamison Crowder
26. Allen Hurns
27. Michael Crabtree
28. Risard Matthews
29. Robert Woods
30. Pierre Garcon
31. Sammy Watkins
32. Julian Edelman
33. Corey Davis
34. Chris Hogan
35. Devante Parker
36. Jordy Nelson
37. Marquise Goodwin
38. Devin Funchess
39. Robby Anderson
40. Cam Meredith
41. Martavis Bryant
42. Kenny Stills
43. D.J. Moore
44. Randall Cobb
45. Sterling Shepard
46. Cooper Kupp
47. Emmanuel Sanders
48. Marqise Lee
49. Ted Ginn
50. Mike Williams
51. Tyler Lockett
52. Nelson Agholor
53. Tyrell Williams
54. Kenny Golladay
55. Dez Bryant
56. Michael Gallup

2018 FANTASY BASEBALL MIDSEASON ALL-VALUE TEAM

Last but not least, we bring you our 2018 Fantasy Sports Boss Fantasy Baseball All-Value team.  This is a team made up on guys who were either drafted very late or not at all but who broke through to supply some major value for their respective teams.

CATCHERS (2):  Kurt Suzuki, Evan Gattis
Notes:  Both Suzuki and Gattis qualify as boring veteran players who many looked past during the draft but both are also reminding us they still have quite a bit to offer.

FIRST BASEMAN (2):  Jesus Aguilar, Max Muncy
Notes:  These two are quite obvious as they arguably have been the very best values no matter the position in all of 2018 fantasy baseball.

SECOND BASE (2):  Jose Peraza, Gleyber Torres
Notes:  Torres' numbers would be even better if he had not gotten injured and landed on the DL but the future is extremely bright here.  Meanwhile, Peraza was 2017 sleeper who went bust that caused his 2018 stock to plummet.  He is taking advantage of a second chance though to really show off his legs and .300 average.

SHORTSTOPS (2):  Tim Anderson, Trevor Story
Notes:  I have spoken quite a bit of late how Story has absolutely exploded this season compared to his face-plant of 2017.  Anderson himself has been terrific with 13 homers and 21 steals that are simply not getting the attention it deserves.

THIRD BASEMAN (2):  Eduardo Escobar, Matt Carpenter
Notes:  I admit I wrote Carpenter off a bit prematurely as few have destroyed the baseball with more force than this guy over the last month.  As far as Escobar is concerned, he adds to a Minnesota Twins lineup that has gotten some nice contributions from multiple players this summer.

OUTFIELDERS (5):  Eddie Rosario, Nick Markakis, Michael Brantley, Mitch Haniger, Shin-Soo Choo:  This is a mix of veterans who were widely ignored in drafts this spring and also upstarts that disappointed a bit the season prior.  All are well-deserving of making this list.

STARTING PITCHING (10):  Blake Snell, Ross Stripling, Mike Foltynewicz, Tyler Skaggs, Miles Mikolas, Eduardo Rodriguez, Charlie Morton, Patrick Corbin, Kenta Maeda, Jose Berrios   
Notes:  Some of these names also appear on our midseason All-Star roster and you really can't get much more value than what we have seen from Snell, Stripling, and Mikolas.


Wednesday, July 18, 2018

2018 FANTASY BASEBALL TRADE FALLOUT: MANNY MACHADO OFFICIALLY A DODGER

Despite the potential of a last minute snag, the Los Angeles Dodgers officially acquired Baltimore Orioles shortstop Manny Machado on Wednesday for a package of five prospects.  The prize return is Dodgers top outfield prospect Yuniel Diaz, plus RHP Dean Kremer, 3B Ryan Bannon, INF Breyvic Valera, and RHP Zach Pop.  That is quite the haul the Orioles received for Machado who we spoke in-depth about this morning in terms of his terrific 2018 fantasy baseball campaign and that package looks even more scary when you consider Machado could walk this winter as a free agent.  Be that as it may, the Dodgers once again won't be denied at the trade deadline just about a year after picking up Yu Darvish to help make a World Series push last summer. 


2018 FANTASY FOOTBALL RUNNING BACK RANKINGS

We continue on with our first batch of 2018 fantasy football position rankings by looking at the resurgence that is the running back position.

1.  Todd Gurley
2.  Le'Veon Bell
3.  David Johnson
4.  Ezekiel Elliott
5.  Kareem Hunt
6.  Saquon Barkley
7.  Alvin Kamara
8.  Melvin Gordon
9.  Leonard Fournette
10. Dalvin Cook
11. LeSean McCoy
12. Devonta Freeman
13. Jerrick McKinnon
14. Jordan Howard
15. Kenyan Drake
16. Christian McCaffrey
17. Alex Collins
18. Dion Lewis
19. Mark Ingram
20. Joe Mixon
21. Derrick Henry
22. Rashaad Penny
23. Royce Freeman
24. Jay Ajayi
25. Lamar Miller
26. Ronald Jones
27. C.J. Anderson
28. Devontae Booker
29. Isaiah Crowell
30. Tarik Cohen
31. Tevin Coleman
32. Rex Burkhead
33. Jamaal Williams
34. Sonny Michel
35. Duke Johnson
36. Theo Riddick
37. Carlos Hyde
38. Marshawn Lynch
39. Nick Chubb
40. Derrius Guice
41. Kerryon Johnson
42. Chris Thompson
43. Javorius Allen
44. Aaron Jones
45. Doug Martin
46. James White
47. Corey Clement
48. Gio Bernard
49. Ty Montgomery
50. Chris Ivory

-Even prior to the very disturbing abuse allegations that were leveled against him, I was swearing off Buffalo Bills high-mileage running back LeSean McCoy.  With his average dipping to a career-worst 4.0 yards per carry a year ago and with the Bills lacking any sort of offensive help to prevent stacked defensive lines, McCoy was facing a rough go of it already.  Now add in the threat of suspension and he should be radioactive at your draft.
-Admittedly, these initial rankings will likely be turned on their heads as these training camp battles shake out.  Detroit, Oakland, Denver, and Tampa Bay are obvious locales where there are clear battles looming and the results of them will skew these rankings greatly.
-You always feel a bit nervous drafting a rookie running back in Round 1 (rememeber Ryan Matthews?) but Saquon Barkley is the real deal and he looks like another Le'Veon Bell or Todd Gurley.  Dive right in.
-Of course whether you play in PPR or standard formats will determine how you rank some of these players, with pass-reception gems like Christian McCaffrey, Theo Riddick, Chris Thompson, and Duke Johnson all swaying wildly in their position above based on what your settings are.


2018 FANTASY BASEBALL STATUS REPORT: MANNY MACHADO SS

Manny Machado anyone?  While Major League Baseball tried a business as usual approach to their All-Star Game festivities, it was impossible to get away from the never-ending news/rumors centering on where the Baltimore Orioles would trade superstar shortstop Manny Machado.  While at one time it seemed Machado was heading to the New York Yankees and then the Philadelphia Phillies, it now looks like the Los Angeles Dodgers have won the derby as almost all of the top insiders such as Ken Rosenthal and Jon Heyman are saying as much.  This would make sense when you consider that the Dodgers are willing to move 21-year-old top slugging prospect Yusniel Diaz who just got done smacking two homers in the Futures Game.  Now in terms of fantasy baseball, Machado going to the Dodgers does downgrade him in terms of ballpark which may steal a home run or two from his ledger but he will head West with these insane numbers regardless:

.315
24 HR
65 RBI
48 R
7 SB
12.3 K/9
10.9 BB/9
.311

Now that is how you do a contract year performance.  No matter where you look, Machado has been a monster and honestly there is literally nothing to quibble about here.  With Machado running at a bit more frequency this season with the 7 steals, he is a true superstar five-tool and his power numbers have never been better.  Not to be overlooked is the fact Machado's 12.3 K/9 is simply ridiculous and serves as a career-best.  Add in another career-best in BB/9 at 10.9 and a near-neutral .311 BABIP and Machado has been phenomenal.  So while he may lose a home run or two with the Dodgers pitching-centric park as his new home base, Machado has been on an MVP run this season both in real and in fantasy baseball.  Maybe Bryce Harper should take notes on how to perform with a new deal on the line. 


Tuesday, July 17, 2018

2018 FANTASY FOOTBALL PLAYER ANALYZER: LE'VEON BELL RB PITTSBURGH STEELERS

The annual summer reality hit "Will Le'Veon Bell get a new contract extension" just finished up its second season on Monday and the public reaction centered mostly on annoyance aimed at both running back Le'Veon Bell and the Pittsburgh Steelers for not coming to agreement on a new deal.  As a result, we once again have to deal with rumors and speculation that Bell will hold out for all of training camp and preseason games as he did a year ago and as a result, be susceptible to injury or a slow performance in September as he gets his legs under him.  This was the exact same scenario Bell and his fantasy football owners found themselves in a year ago as he held out all summer before reporting right before the opener.  While Bell did go on to have another insanely good year, the start was slow in September and he is now a year older with much more mileage on his tires.  With all this said, let's dig in a bit deeper on the guy who is considered to be the consensus number 2 pick in all 2018 fantasy football drafts.

As far as the particulars are concerned, Bell is still young at the age of 26 but he is also not spring chicken like a Dalvin Cook or a Kareem Hunt either.  Also, Bell has had nothing but a massive workload both in the running and receiving game since coming into the league back in 2013 and he comes off a 2017 where he ran the ball an insane 321 times and caught as just as ridiculous 85 passes.  Typically what we see when running backs come off a 300-plus carry season is a "bounce" the following year where the rushing average and overall yardage decrease.  There is also a much higher risk for injury and this is particularly scary with Bell who has missed 17 games in five NFL seasons due to health woes.  This is an issue not to be taken lightly and it becomes more stark when you consider he will not be in top shape if he does in fact hold out for training camp and preseason games like he did a year ago.  Keep in mind that under the same situation last summer, Bell averaged just 3.5 yards per carry and 60 rushing yards per game last September which was his lowest monthly total by far.  No doubt this is a big issue as you never want to be digging out of a slow start to your fantasy football season since the regular season is just 13 games in most leagues and a listless or injured Bell in September is a potential negative.

Now on the positive side, there is not a single more awesome player in all of fantasy football outside of maybe the Los Angeles Rams' Todd Gurley in terms of Bell's uncanny ability to dominate both as a runner and a receiver.  He has caught 75 or more balls in three of his five seasons and has averaged 4.3 yards per carry with 35 rushing scores during the same span.  You simply can't find those numbers anywhere else and so Bell is still deserving of at worst the number 2 pick in all 2018 fantasy football drafts.  With that said though, just keep in mind there is still some decent risk involved.

2018 PROJECTION:  1,241 rushing yards 9 TD, 73 receptions 644 yards 2 TD  


2018 FANTASY BASEBALL FIRST HALF ALL-BUST TEAM

On Monday we took a break from the daily minutia of 2018 fantasy baseball and checked out who made the cut as our first half All-Star team in identifying those pitchers and hitters who made all of their owners incredibly happy with their performance over the first 3.5 months of the season.  Of course, we have to take a look at the flip side of things and discuss those players who ended up causing the most damage as your classic draft "bust."  We excluded players who got injured from this list as that could happen to anyone and instead based our selections on those pitchers and hitters who simply under-performed.  Be sure to share your thoughts below.

CATCHERS (2):  Gary Sanchez, Buster Posey:  While Sanchez has hit for his customary power, he has been injured and is batting under .190 for the season which is downright hideous for a second-round pick.  Meanwhile, Posey's power has vanished like I said it would in comparing him to Joe Mauer back in March.

FIRST BASEMAN (2):  Anthony Rizzo, Cody Bellinger:  I sounded the alarms on sophomore slump candidate Bellinger back in March and right on queue, he has struggled to hit even .250 this season while also showing a downgrade in power.  Meanwhile, Rizzo has had the same issues at an even higher draft cost.

SECOND BASEMAN (2):  Chris Taylor, Brian Dozier:  Dozier has perked up over the last week as he begins to do his typical second-half assault but the average hit and overall listless hitting the first half of the season was a reminder of ugly days from earlier in his career.  As far as Taylor was concerned, he was in BABIP heaven a year ago and his minor league rates suggested 2017 was a bit of an aberration.

SHORTSTOP (2):  Carlos Correa, Paul DeJong:  You may think it is harsh to knock Correa but it is not since he was a first-round pick, has stopped running altogether, and is hitting under .270.  DeJong was a guy I told you to avoid given his insane K numbers from the minors and even in his 2017 debut and so no shock he has been a liability.

THIRD BASEMAN (2):  Josh Donaldson, Justin Turner:  Kris Bryant and Rafael Devers were candidates for this spot as there have been a bunch of letdown here but both Donaldson and Turner look shot both on the health and hitting front.

OUTFIELDERS (5):  Marcell Ozuna, Rhys Hoskins, Byron Buxton, Yasiel Puig, Tommy Pham:  The hype machine was out of control on Hoskins this spring which is always a recipe for fantasy baseball disaster.  While he has not been awful, the numbers failed to match the third-round cost.  The other four all letdown in similar fashion related to cost.

STARTING PITCHERS (10):  Zack Godley, Robbie Ray, Luke Weaver, Chris Archer, Yu Darvish, Marcus Stroman, Dallas Keuchel, Dylan Bundy, Jose Quintana, Rich Hill:  Every single name on this list has been a letdown and in particular Darvish, Godley, Weaver, and Archer.  

Monday, July 16, 2018

2018 FANTASY BASEBALL MID-SEASON ALL-FANTASY TEAM

The MLB All-Star Break has arrived and while we technically are about 62 percent through the season, the interruption in the schedule is always a good time to see which hitters and pitchers made our annual Fantasy Sports Boss Mid-Season All-Fantasy Team. Feel free to disagree below in the comments or tweet us @RotoBoss

Catchers (2):  J.T. Realmuto, Evan Gattis
Honorable Mention: Wilson Ramos, Yadier Molina
Notes:  It has been another rough year for the fantasy baseball catcher to say the least but these guys have held up their end of  things.  What is interesting is that half of them (Ramos, Gattis) came at very affordable draft prices this past spring.

First Baseman (2):  Jesus Aguilar, Freddie Freeman
Honorable Mention:  Paul Goldschmidt, Max Muncy
Notes:  The first thing that needs to be mentioned is the fact that Goldschmidt did a complete 180 once the calendar flipped to June.  Meanwhile BOTH Aguilar and Muncy have been among the greatest surprises of the season.

Second Baseman (2):  Javier Baez, Jose Altuve
Honorable Mention:  Scooter Gennett, Ozzie Albies
Notes:  This is the second season in a row Gennett makes his way here which is the same amount that Altuve made the list in that span.  That says something.  In terms of Baez and Albies; well the position is in good youthful hands going forward.

Shortstop (2):  Trevor Story, Francisco Lindor, Manny Machado
Honorable Mention:  Jean Segura
Notes:  There was no way to leave out anyone from Story, Lindor, or Machado from getting top billing so I made an exception to the two per infield position.  My piece and my rules.

Third Baseman (2):  Nolan Arenado, Jose Ramirez
Honorable Mention:  Alex Bregman, Matt Carpenter
Notes:  What Jose Ramirez is doing is beyond comprehension.

Outfield (5):  Mookie Betts, J.D. Martinez, Mike Trout, Starling Marte, Andrew Benintendi
Honorable Mention:  Eddie Rosario, Charlie Blackmon, Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Michael Brantley
Notes:  It is almost unfair that the entire Boston outfield makes the top of the line.

Starting Pitching (10):  Jacob DeGrom, Max Scherzer, Chris Sale, Corey Kluber, Luis Severino, Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole, Trevor Bauer, Ross Stripling, Aaron Nola
Honorable Mention:  Blake Snell, Zack Greinke, Miles Mikolas, Mike Foltynewicz, James Paxton, Charlie Morton, Jon Lester, Jose Berrios, Patrick Corbin, Tyler Skaggs
Notes:  It is amazing that 6 of the 10 who made the top line come from the AL which is tougher historically to pitch against due to the DH.


2018 FANTASY BASEBALL WRAPUP: SUNDAY

Shin-Soo Choo:  2/3 with his 18th HR while hitting. 293.  Some guys will just continue being very productive year after year despite nobody wanting to draft them in yearly fantasy baseball leagues and Choo is one of those players.

Manny Machado:  1/1 with his 24th HR while hitting .315.  This could be Machado's swan song in Baltimore with the All-Star Break here but no matter where he ends up. his status as truly one of the more dominant hitters in fantasy baseball will hold steady.

Mike Minor:  5 ER in 2.2 IP with an ERA of 4.89.  I never understood why anyone was even remotely interested in this guy this season.  And there were more than a few based on Tweets I received. 

Teoscar Hernandez:  1/3 with his 15th HR while hitting .257.  For a guy who didn't start the season in the majors, Hernandez was pretty damn solid the first half of the year.

Xander Bogaerts:  1/4 with his 16th HR while hitting .284.  Like I said yesterday, we all really need Bogaerts to stay healthy in order to see where this so far insanely great season of his goes.

Michael Brantley:  1/3 with his 12th HR while hitting .308.  Considering that 12 home runs used to be a typical Brantley haul, those fantasy baseball owners of his who got him in the very late rounds of their drafts have some nice bragging rights here the way things have turned out. 

Edwin Encarnacion:  1/3 with his 22nd HR while hitting .225.  The all-or-nothing phase of Encarnacion's career is in full swing.  Literally. 

Trevor Bauer:  7 IP 7 H 2 ER 1 BB 7 K with an ERA of 2.24.  175 K in 136.1 IP.  Let that sink in for a minute.  Then look at the ERA with those K's and get ready to pass out.

Brian Anderson:  3/5 with his 8th HR while hitting .288.  This guy has not stopped hitting since Opening Day. 

Enyel De Los Santos:  5 ER in 4.1 IP with an ERA of 6.75.  He is not ready. 

Patrick Corbin:  6 IP 6 H 4 ER 1 BB 3 K with an ERA of 3.24.  Remember how exciting this story was in April and May?  Now not so much of late. 

Julio Teheran:  6.1 IP 4 H 0 ER 3 BB 6 K with an ERA of 4.00.  Typical Teheran who sits right on the bubble of useful or waiver fodder. 

Travis Shaw:  1/4 with his 18th HR while hitting .245.  The average has not come around here and now we are getting to the point of the season where that gets tougher to do given the high number of at-bats. 

Adalberto Mondesi:  2/3 with his third HR while hitting .250.  Maybe changing his name did the trick here since no one would ever believe Raul Mondesi Jr. could ever hit. 

Yoan Moncada:  3/4 with his 12th HR while hitting .238.  So frustrating to watch a guy with so much talent continue to allow the warts in his game greatly overshadow some other decent tools. 

Brian Dozier:  2/6 with his 16th HR while hitting .230.  Next season trade for Dozier on July 1. 

Nico Goodrum:  1/4 with his 9th HR while hitting .250.  The 2018 Detroit Tigers seem to be the AL-only destination in terms of fantasy baseball usage outside of Nick Castellanos. 

John Hicks:  1/4 with his 9th HR while hitting .278.  Doesn't it seem like every season whoever the Tigers catcher is has some sort of decent fantasy baseball value? 

Jeimer Candelario:  1/2 with his 13th HR while hitting .225.  Hitting a homer off Justin Verlander is no small feat but Candelario's overall performance has dived sharply since May. 

Justin Verlander:  6 IP 6 H 5 ER 0 BB 12 K with an ERA of 2.29.  Well that is certainly an interesting line score. 

Matt Carpenter:  1/3 with his 19th HR while hitting .263.  And hitting leadoff here with the additional at-bats means 35 homers very much in play.

Trevor Story:  1/4 with his 20th HR while hitting .292.  I spoke at length about Story the other day but needless to say, he has been one of the Stories of the first half.  Sorry I couldn't resist. 

Sean Manaea:  6 IP 5 H 2 ER 1 BB 1 K with an ERA of 3.42.  Manaea's K/9 remains pathetic and so he is really walking a fine line with his numbers. 


Sunday, July 15, 2018

2018 FANTASY FOOTBALL QUARTERBACK RANKINGS

Before I delve into the players at each position I will target and avoid in 2018 fantasy football drafts, let's get my own set of rankings out there first starting with the passers.  Again if you play in a single-QB league, avoid addressing this spot until you have at least two backs and two wideouts.

1.  Aaron Rodgers
2.  Russell Wilson
3.  Tom Brady
4.  Drew Brees
5.  DeShaun Watson
6.  Carson Wentz
7.  Kirk Cousins
8.  Matthew Stafford
9.  Philip Rivers
10. Jimmy Garoppolo
11. Cam Newton
12. Ben Roethlisberger
13. Jared Goff
14. Patrick Mahomes
15. Matt Ryan
16. Andrew Luck
17. Derek Carr
18. Marcus Mariota
19. Eli Manning
20. Jameis Winston
21. Mitch Trubisky
22. Andy Dalton
23. Blake Bortles
24. Alex Smith
25. Dak Prescott
26. Case Keenum
27. Ryan Tannehill
28. Tyrod Taylor
29. Josh McCown
30. Joe Flacco

-Last summer Rodgers was the top quarterback pick and he missed half the season with a broken collarbone.  Meanwhile Watson jumped off the bench to engineer more than a month of insane production before he tore his ACL.  The point is that you don't have to spend an early pick here in single passer leagues as there is terrific depth to where you can make the case that the top 17 guys are all weekly starters in a 12-team league.
-The Jimmy Garoppolo hype is already becoming insane and so getting a good price on him in the draft will be very tough.  That cuts down on the sleeper upside and makes you think more of the fact that he has had a tough time staying on the field in terms of durability.
-Just like with Watson, Carson Wentz looks to be good to go for Week 1 in terms of his ACL recovery.  His price could fluctuate wildly from one league to the next but I think he will be just fine.
-Some major lottery pick QB's who could yield very good value once again are Case Keenum in Denver and Alex Smith in Washington.  Both guys really stepped up a year ago and played their best football and both go to offenses that have a nice batch of targets.
-Sorry I am not bothering with Andrew Luck.  Even if he does get back onto the field, one wrong hit to the shoulder could end things in their tracks.



2018 FANTASY BASEBALL WRAPUP: SATURDAY

Starling Marte:  3/8 with 2 home runs (13 for season) while hitting .286.  I don't have enough positives in my vocabulary to praise Marte in terms of how awesome a five-tool player he has been.  Not to be overlooked is that he remains one of the only 40-steal threats now in today's fantasy baseball which is a major bonus.

Gregory Polanco:  2/7 with 2 home runs (16 for season) while hitting .235.  Polanco has emerged from the horrid funk he was in earlier in the season but if he doesn't post a decent average by the end of the year, he relegates his status to that of a flawed OF 3 instead of the OF 1 we thought he could be.

Ketel Marte:  1/4 with his 9th HR while hitting .240. Another one of those strange cases where Marte was supposed to be all about big speed with little power but instead the opposite happens. 

Zack Greinke:  7.2 IP 4 H 0 ER 0 BB 7 K with an ERA of 3.18.  The WHIP is also down to 1.11 so in other words, Greinke is being ace Greinke. 

Sean Newcomb:  5.2 IP 4 H 3 ER 3 BB 2 K with an ERA of 3.51.  The 2 K's show that Newcomb has lost life in his arm in his first full MLB season. 

J.D. Martinez:  1/4 with his 29th HR while hitting .330.  Martinez' biggest threat for 2018 Fantasy Baseball MVP could be his outfield mate Mookie Betts.

Xander Boagerts:  2/3 with his 15th HR while hitting .284.  Just stay healthy dude so we can see how this turns out. 

Eduardo Rodriguez:  5.1 IP 4 H 0 ER 0 BB 5 K with an ERA of 3.44.  Either a shellacking or a shutout almost every time out. 

Salvador Perez:  2/4 with his 13th HR while hitting .224.  Tough to remember that this guy was once an average asset. 

Danny Duffy:  7 IP 4 H 0 ER 3 BB 8 K with an ERA of 4.59.  Even his mom doesn't care anymore about Duffy's numbers. 

C.J. Cron:  1/2 with his 19th HR while hitting .254. Well if your forgot to edit your lineup you still got something out of Cron who came off the bench to smack the bomb. 

Carlos Gomez:  2/4 with his 8th HR while hitting .216.  Only with the Rays can someone like Gomez hold on for this long of a time period. 

Jose Berrios:  6 ER in 6 IP with an ERA of 3.68.  You have to watch someone like Berrios and the midseason dead arm like we are seeing out of Sean Newcomb as well.

Evan Gattis:  1/4 with his 19th HR while hitting .242.  This qualifies Gattis as arguably the most productive catcher in 2018 fantasy baseball.

Josh Reddick:  2/4 with his 9th HR while hitting .261.  Steady as they get. 

Michael Fulmer:  7 ER in 4.2 IP with an ERA of 4.50.  Just pretend like 2016 never happened because Fulmer is simply not that good. 

Matt Adams:  1/4 with his 15th HR while hitting .283.  Pick up Adams if anyone dropped him in your league. 

Michael Conforto:  1/4 with his 11th HR while hitting .218.  Man you really start to wonder here how much that serious shoulder separation Conforto suffered a year ago is hampering him now. 

Matt Carpenter:  2/4 with his 18th HR while hitting .263.  At this rate Carpenter will be hitting. 280 with all of that power and it will be like April and May never happened.  Call it the Paul Goldschmidt Effect. 

Jack Flaherty:  5 IP 2 H 0 ER 3 BB 5 K with an ERA of 3.24.  Would like to see Flaherty pitch deeper into games but as far as his rookie season is going so far, there certainly are firm indications he can be a front-of-the-rotation guy.

Didi Gregorious:  2/3 with his 17th HR while hitting .263.  The Matt Carpenter of shortstops.  Almost to the number.

Greg Bird:  1/4 with his 8th HR while hitting .221.  Bird should be planted firmly in your UTIL or CI spot as of now as he tends to get really hot with the long ball which we are currently seeing. 

Jose Ramirez:  1/3 with his 29th HR while hitting .299.  I mean you got to be kidding me with this guy.

Justin Upton:  2/4 with his 19th HR while hitting .250.  Typical Upton season across the board.

Chris Taylor:  1/4 with his 11th HR while hitting .253.  2017 looks more like an outlier as we go onward. 

Javier Baez:  2/5 with his 19th HR while hitting .293.  Another classic example of why you gave to stay patient with prospects who get promoted at a very young age. 

Ian Happ:  2/4 with his 11th HR while hitting .256.  Case in point this guy who could explode in 2019 or the second half this season.

Kyle Schwarber:  2/4 with his 18th HR while hitting .250.  Unless Schwarber gets catcher eligiblity back, I don't think I will ever be seeking him out as anything but a bacnkup. 

Eric Hosmer:  1/4 with his 10th HR while hitting .247.  This guy just makes you want to rip all your hair out. 


Saturday, July 14, 2018

2018 FANTASY FOOTBALL PLAYER ANALYZER: DAVANTE ADAMS WR GREEN BAY PACKERS

Davante Adams it is now your time to shine.  Jordy Nelson has left town, Aaron Rodgers is healthy, and Adams has the full mantle of being the number 1 receiver on the always explosive Green Bay Packers passing offense.  When it comes to 2018 fantasy football drafts, few players carry with them more hype/upside than Adams who finally started coming into his own last season after some earlier inconsistency since being drafted in the second round back in 2014 by the team.  The ironic thing is that Adams really found himself while Rodgers missed the majority of 2017 due to a broken collarbone and the following output has set him up for even better numbers this season:

74 catches
885 yards
10 TD

The best part of the whole equation is that in addition to the uptick in numbers the last two seasons, Adams will now for the first time serve as the clear number 1 widoeut on the Packers after Nelson left for the Oakland Raiders in free agency.  Nelson of course was a TD monster and even a PPR gem as well when he served as Rodgers' top target and Adams is very capable of similar numbers as well this season.  That puts Adams on the mantle of being a number one WR in all fantasy football leagues and he should have equal potency both in standard and in PPR given the fact he should be in line for a lot of scores and catches.  The late second-round is the best time to start looking Adams' way and if you can nab him in Round 3, you did even better.

2018 PROJECTION:  88 catches 1,138 yards 11 TD  


2018 FANTASY BASEBALL STATUS REPORT: TREVOR STORY SS COLORADO ROCKIES

Well that has been a nice surprise.  Coming off an injury-plagued campaign that also included depressed offensive numbers across the board as he suffered under a hail of strikeouts, Colorado Rockies shortstop Trevor Story's 2018 fantasy baseball value had cratered severely when it came to drafts.  After smacking 27 home runs with a .272 average in that tremendous 2016 debut, Story suffered a typical sophomore slump in 2017 as his K/9 rate shot up to a pathetic 34.4 and the averaged tumbled down to a horrid .239 and the home runs declined a bit to 24.  With yours truly also serving as a big critic, Story was drafted as a backup shortstop in many leagues.  Fast forward to present day as Story smashed another home run Friday night to bring his season total already to a spectacular 19.  As far as the total package of numbers, Story goes into Saturday with the following overall digits:

.291
19 HR
67 RBI
48 R
12 SB
25.4 K/9
.353 BABIP

Wow those numbers are pretty darn insane.  For one thing, the power is immense as always and that has been the one area that has remained steadfast from Story's start in the majors.  What really has made his 2018 season special is the fact he is both running at a very high rate compared to previous norms and also striking out less by a decent margin which has helped boost the average to near-.300.  Consider that Story had a grand total of 15 steals his first two seasons in the majors and now already has 12.  Any additional steals can be considered a nice bonus from here on out and also serve to boost his power/speed game overall.  In addition, Story's current K/9 of 25.4 is down by a sizable amount from the 34.4 the year prior and that has helped boost the average to very usable territory.  While the .353 BABIP is in very lucky territory, Story has shown a knack for continually posting high numbers there which means his regression may not be severe enough to pull the average down to ugly status.  Combined together across the board and Story has been one of the very best values in all of 2018 fantasy baseball.  While he may slow a bit from here on out, Story is set to blow past every projection on him from this past spring. 


Friday, July 13, 2018

2018 FANTASY BASEBALL INJURY FALLOUT: JAMES PAXTON STILL CAN'T AVOID INJURY BUG

While the bigger picture is a positive one, Seattle Mariners ace pitcher James Paxton reminded his fantasy baseball owners about the extreme risk it was to invest in him for 2018 as he hit the DL Friday with what is being called lower back inflammation.  Paxton of course is arguably one of the most injury-prone pitchers in all of baseball and his long yearly stints on the DL have overshadowed what has been brilliant pitching since becoming a regular in the team's rotation a few seasons ago.  2018 saw more of the same brilliance from Paxton as he went to the DL stint with a 3.70 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, and a massive 155 K's in 119.1.  The strikeout rate in particular jumps out here as Paxton is up in Chris Sale hallowed territory there and again shows how dominant a pitcher he can be.  Luckily this time around the injury doesn't seem to be major as Paxton is scheduled to be back for his July 24th start but still any missed time is a reminder how quickly things can go wrong here. 


2018 FANTASY FOOTBALL PLAYER ANALYZER: A.J. GREEN WR CINCINNATI BENGALS

Should Cincinnati Bengals ace wide receiver A.J. Green still be graded as a WR 1 or he is more of a WR 2 as we look towards 2018 fantasy football?  While this is certainly not a primary question to worry about when it comes to drafts, the projections on Green are already all over the map from the various pundits this season as the 29-year-old comes off a disappointing 2017 campaign which followed an injury-marred 2016.  Before delving further, let's take a look at Green's numbers from last season:

75 receptions
1,078 yards
8 TD
16 games played

While Green did play a full slate of games, the fact he failed to reach at least 80 receptions as the main target of QB Andy Dalton was a letdown and there are also some overall trends to be aware of here.  The first is that Green has now failed to reach double-digits in TD receptions in three of the last four seasons and he also has gone for over 80 catches once in that same span.  This is to be noted for those who take part in PPR formats as Green is more of a low WR 1 or even a top WR 2 then the mid-WR 1 he would be in standards.  While still capable of making plays all over the field, Green has dealt with more injuries of late as he missed games in two of the last four seasons.

Another factor hurting Green going into the season and also hampered his production a year ago is a lack of supporting cast.  Opposing defenses constantly rolled double coverage Green's way as the Bengals had little else to offer in terms of impact receivers.  This season looks to be more of the same as mediocre Brandon LaFell remains on the opposite side and oft-injured tight end Tyler Eifert can't be depended on.  So that will also help keep Green's numbers somewhat in check.

When you combine that worry with the issues we spoke about above, you can see that Green is no longer worthy of first-round status and that upstarts like Adam Thielen or Davante Adams are looking like more appealing options.  While still a very good player, Green could be set to offer more volatility this season.

2018 PROJECTION:  79 receptions 1,104 yards 8 TD  


2018 FANTASY BASEBALL WRAPUP: THURSDAY

Trevor Cahill:  3.2 IP 3 H 3 ER 3 BB 3 K with an ERA of 3.10. Cahill was a bit rusty coming off the DL which is understandable but he is well worth adding again if someone dropped him given the uptick in K's the last two seasons and generally good ratio results as well.

Trevor Story:  1/3 with his 18th HR while hitting. 289.  The batting average is no mirage and Story is certainly young enough to make inroads on his previously nasty strikeout problem that destroyed his average a year ago.  That has been remediated a bit as Story's 25.5 K/9 is way down from the insane 34.4 in 2017.  Add in 12 steals with the power and average uptick and just like that Story is a fantasy baseball monster.  Sometimes it just happens that way.

Robbie Ray:  5.1 IP 5 H 2 ER 3 BB 8 K with an ERA of 5.03.  I said at the beginning of the season Ray was in no way as good a pitcher as his ratios showed a year ago but I also didn't think he would be this bad.  Damn what a bust on every front as Ray got injured and his ERA/WHIP are hideous. 

Kyle Freeland:  5.1 IP 6 H 1 ER 1 BB 4 K with an ERA of 3.11. This guy just continues to go out there and pitch well despite carrying the Scarlet Letter of being a Colorado pitcher.  We are in mid-July now so the fluke meter lessens by the day.

Jorge Alfaro:  3/4 with his 6th HR while hitting .253.  Alfaro carried some sleeper appeal coming into the season and he has been decent to the point of daily ownership in two-catcher leagues.  The best we can say too is that he didn't turn out to be Mike Zunino with the average. 

Trey Mancini:  1/4 with his 12th HR while hitting .221.  Boy it all went wrong here which is a disappointment since Mancini was so solid a year ago.  Pretty much nothing went right in Baltimore this season anyways so it makes sense.

Nick Pivetta:  6.2 IP 5 H 3 ER 1 BB 7 K with an ERA of 4.58.  Pivetta really needed a solid outing like this one as his recent results have been horrendous after the big first two months.  A young hurler like this going through his first full MLB campaign always goes through peaks and valleys and Pivetta is no different.  Maybe a bit too volatile to depend on the rest of the way however. 

Jesus Aguilar:  1/4 with his 24th HR while hitting .307.  I mean come on already.  As an Aguilar owner who got in on the ground floor, even I think this is beyond ridiculous now. 

Jameson Taillon:  6 IP 4 H 1 ER 2 BB 10 K with an ERA of 3.91.  I said earlier in the season to the nervous Taillon fantasy baseball owners to stick it out with the talented kid and I hope you listened.  Taillon has been through a lot the last season-plus but he is starting to figure out how to best use his stuff to gain results and things are looking pretty now. 

Teoscar Hernandez:  2/4 with his 14th HR while hitting .259.  Another one of your classic OF 3's you plug in and never look back on. 

Mookie Betts:  2/4 with his 23rd HR while hitting .352.  On the same day Jose Ramirez homers again, we got a great race for 2018 Fantasy Baseball MVP.

Brett Gardner:  2/5 with 2 home runs (9 for season) while hitting .257.  Gardner now has 9 homers and 9 steals at the midway point of the season and is scoring a boatload of runs as usual.  Aging gracefully. 

Didi Gregorious:  1/3 with his 16th HR while hitting .260.  Still a bit of an overall letdown here considering how insane April was. 

Jose Ramirez:  2/3 with his 28th HR while hitting .296.  As a Ramirez fantasy baseball owner, it is telling how much the Home Run Derby is struggling in that I was hoping against hope he would NOT participate. 

Edwin Encarnacion:  1/3 with his 21st HR while hitting .228.  The average has cratered again for Edwin who is really just an all-or-nothing guy we thought he turned into given his age back in that hideous April.

Anthony Rendon:  3/5 with 2 home runs (15 for season) while hitting .285.  We can do without the injuries but Rendon is squarely into the phase of his career where he is an ultra-dependable fantasy baseball third baseman. 

Bryce Harper:  1/5 with his 23rd HR while hitting .213.  I mean .213????  Damn Bruce that is pathetic.  If you took out Harper's name and put Joey Gallo next to these numbers, you wouldn't know the difference. 

Asdrubal Cabrera:  2/4 with his 13th HR while hitting .282.  Someone will come calling for this still effective veteran.

Jose Bautista:  2/3 with his 7th HR while hitting .219.  Bryce is no better than this guy also when you break it all down.  Tongue in cheek of course but just goes to show how Harper is really testing his fantasy baseball owners. 

Max Scherzer:  7 IP 5 H 3 ER 2 BB 5 K with an ERA of 2.41.  Now up to 12 wins, Scherzer well-deserving of another Cy Young Award at this pace. 

Eddie Rosario:  2/4 with his 19th HR while hitting .302.  Rosario looks like the outfield version of Trevor Story but with fewer strikeouts. 

Kyle Gibson:  8 IP 5 H 1 ER 0 BB 9 K with an ERA of 3.42.  I will never trust him.  Sorry. 

Justin Upton:  2/4 with his 18th HR while hitting .249.  Nothing unusual here.

Albert Pujols:  3/4 with 2 home runs (16 for season) while hitting .251.  Wonder if he sees himself in Jesus Aguilar now. 

James Paxton:  .2 IP 3 H 3 ER 0 BB 1 K with an ERA of 3.70.  And now Paxton is hurt with some sort of back issue.  There it goes. 

Tyler Skaggs:  6 IP 5 H 1 ER 1 BB 5 K with an ERA of 2.57.  Successful return for Skaggs who picked up right where he left off with big pitching prior to getting injured.  Already spoke at length about Skaggs before he got hurt and the same outlook applies.

Ross Stripling:  6 IP 6 H 0 ER 1 BB 5 K with an ERA of 2.08.  Stripling got a well-deserved selection to the All-Star Game and this insane pitching story continues with monstrous results. 





Thursday, July 12, 2018

2018 FANTASY BASEBALL STATUS REPORT: PAUL GOLDSCHMIDT 1B ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS

Wednesday night in fantasy baseball saw Arizona Diamondbacks All-Star first baseman Paul Goldschmidt crack his 21st home run of the season.  While this should not seem to be big news considering Goldschmidt has been a top-five fantasy baseball star for a few years now, the perspective that is needed here centers on how truly awful the veteran was the first two months of the season in relation to what he is accomplishing now.  Things had actually gotten so bad as Goldy continued to swing and miss at a very high rate with a severe drainage in power that questions began to legitimately begin being asked about whether or not he was prematurely declining as a player.  Needless to say, Goldy's fantasy baseball were beyond panicking and by all accounts, looked like they had a blockbuster and unexpected bust on their hands.

Fast forward to present day and it truly seems like April and May never happened.  Once June revealed itself on the calendar, Goldschmidt went bonkers with the bat and that has now carried into July as well.  The end result has him going into Thursday's action with numbers pretty much near his customary rates:

.282
21 HR
52 RBI
61 R
2 SB
26.4 K/9
13.7 BB/9
.350 BABIP

Looking at the numbers above, Goldy is pretty much where he should be in terms of overall numbers.  The strikeout rate remains quite a bit above his 22.1 K/9 mark of a year prior but his 26.4 mark is down from being around 30.0 each of the first two months of the season.  The fact that Goldy has cut down on the whiffs and increased his contact means the power is shooting upwards as well.  Add in very good RBI and runs scored numbers and Goldy is doing what was expected at least in those three categories.

Now as far as average and steals, that is where some issues cropped up.  The average is actually at a high point for Goldy now which lessens any concerns we had previously there.  Also, with the strikeouts declining, Goldy should be able to finish .280 or higher if that keeps up.  Now in terms of the steals, the fact he has only two so far might indicate Goldy's days of running are through.  He has reached the age of 30 which is typically when players stop swiping bags if they moderate speed like Goldy has and this was something I talked about being a strong possibility in my annual draft guide.

When you put it all together, Paul Goldschmidt once again looks like the first-round monster he was supposed to be; with just a decline in running being the one knock.  Otherwise, all seems just fine with the veteran.


2018 FANTASY BASEBALL WRAPUP: WEDNESDAY

Kevin Kiermaier:  3/5 with his second HR while hitting .175.  Very tough sledding here so far but try and hold out a bit longer here as Kiermaier can supply contributions everywhere.

C.J.Cron:  3/4 with his 18th HR while hitting .253.  Yeah, Cron has kind of exposed himself over the long haul of the season with regards to some overall hitting limitations but no questioning the power.

Mike Moustakas:  3/5 with 2 home runs (19 for season) while hitting .256.  Another quality season for Moustakas but he may still not get paid given the low average/high power approach is not exactly rare today.

Salvador Perez:  2/5 with his 12th HR while hitting .217. I mean you could have had Wilson Ramos so much cheaper.

Brian Dozier:  3/5 with his 15th HR while hitting .229.  I said yesterday that Dozier does second half tears better than most and so here we go.

Starling Marte:  1/3 with his 11th HR while hitting .282.  Nobody does category juice without the hype better than this guy.

Trevor Williams:  5 IP 4 H 0 ER 3 BB 3 K with an ERA of 4.36.  Williams is pretty much where he should be now with regards to his ratios.

Javier Baez:  1/6 with 18th HR while hitting .289.  Look at that average!

Kris Bryant:  1/5 with his 10th HR while hitting .279.  Bryant needs to get on his statistical horse.

Greg Bird:  1/4 with his 7th HR while hitting .208.  Maybe Bird has another big second half in him.  Or another day-to-day injury that turns into two months out.

Sonny Gray:  6 IP 3 H 0 ER 1 BB 8 K with an ERA of 5.46.  It came on the road which is about the only scenario you would ever consider using Gray in this truly pathetic season of his.

Dylan Bundy:  5 ER in 4 IP with an ERA of 4.35.  Along with a 1.31 WHIP, these are the ratios Bundy should have had a year ago and throughout the first two month of the season when he had some crazy strand rate and BABIP luck.

Chris Sale:  7 IP 6 H 0 ER 1 BB 12 K with an ERA of 2.23.  The numbers are becoming just stupid now with this guy and his incredible career to this point. 

Scooter Gennett:  3/5 with his 15th HR while hitting .326.  Either they are using the same juiced balls from a year ago or Gennett made that crucial jump from very good hitter to a star in 2017. 

Jesse Winker:  2/4 with his 7th HR while hitting .286.  Your typical OF 4 or 5 in leagues that player that many at the position.

Jose Ramirez:  2/4 with 2 home runs (27 for season) while hitting .293.  I thought a fantastic season for Ramirez in 2018 would center on AROUND 27 homers.  Not for the first half.  Holy crap.

Carlos Carrasco:  5 IP 5 H 1 ER 1 BB 7 K with an ERA of 4.16.  Always an up and down scenario when owning Carrasco but more of it goes upwards. 

Jacob DeGrom:  8 IP 5 H 0 ER 1 BB 7 K with an ERA of 1.68.  And he STILL didn't win.  This might be the best pitching season I have ever seen in terms of not getting wins. 

Freddy Peralta:  3.2 IP 3 H 3 ER 3 BB 4 K with an ERA of 2.65.  There is going to be some of this with Peralta given his lack of control and age so don't rely on him as anything more than an SP 4.

Justin Smoak:  1/3 with his 14th HR while hitting .242.  Really tired of seeing Smoak hit .240.

Devon Travis:  1/3 with his sixth HR while hitting .230.  I can't believe we all ever went ga ga over this waste. 

Ozzie Albies:  2/4 with 2 home runs (20 for season) while hitting .288.  Still hitting for massive power and brought the average back up from .255 weeks ago.  My goodness what an incredible season from the kid. 

Luke Weaver:  6 IP 3 H 1 ER 2 BB 7 K with an ERA of 4.72.  Good signs here.  Check him out again if someone made the drop.

Carlos Rodon:  7.1 IP 3 H 0 ER 2 BB 7 K with an ERA of 3.56.  Hey the WHIP is 1.19 right now which is nice.  Rodon can easily do a Blake Snell 2018 if he can just get the damn walks under control.  Proceed cautiously but still proceed. 

Kenta Maeda:  5.2 IP 4 H 1 ER 1 BB 9 K with an ERA of 3.13.  Short outing but Maeda made the most of it with another boatload of K's. 

Paul Goldschmidt:  1/2 with his 21st HR while hitting .282. I swear it is like April and May never happened. 

Charlie Blackmon:  3/3 with his 18th HR while hitting .284.  Another justified first-round pick so far.

Carlos Gonzalez:  2/5 with 2 home runs (10 for season) while hitting .275.  CarGo is doing just enough to stay relevant as a bench outfielder in fantasy baseball. 

Ian Desmond:  3/5 with his 18th HR while hitting .223.  I mean Dedmond IS running and hitting home runs despite the ghastly average. 


Wednesday, July 11, 2018

2018 FANTASY BASEBALL TRADE DEADLINE NEWS: YANKS TAKING MOST AGGRESSIVE STANCE WITH MANNY MACHADO

When the New York Yankees target a hitter or pitcher around the July 31 trade deadline, they usually get their man.  That is why most Yankees fans and the baseball industry went into a tizzy Wednesday afternoon when it was learned by MLB insider Jon Heyman that the team made what was considered a "strong offer" for Baltimore Orioles shortstop/third baseman Manny Machado who is having a fantastic 2018 campaign ahead of pending free agency.  Earlier in the day, word also got out that the Orioles would only consider dealing Machado in the division if top Yankees pitcher Justus Sheffield was part of the deal so one would have to assume he would front any kind of "strong offer."  Sheffield would likely have to be joined by any number of other Yankee top prospects such as Miguel Andujar, Chance Adams, Thairo Estrada, Esteban Floria, etc.  Florial is considered to be untouchable however and so an Andujar/Sheffield offer would certainly be of the strong suit.  Be that as it may, the Orioles will likely take this sweepstakes down to the deadline given the fact other big market teams like the Los Angeles Dodgers, Boston Red Sox, and to a lesser extent Atlanta Braves are also involved. 


2018 FANTASY BASEBALL STATUS REPORT: SHOHEI OHTANI OUTFIELDER/PITCHER LOS ANGELES ANGELS

When Japanese pitching/slugging sensation Shohei Ohtani became the central story this past winter in the MLB Hot Stove season, it was easy to get caught up in the extreme hype that accompanied this very accomplished but unusual player.  After all, it is not everyday you get a power pitcher who carried ace-level stuff and then combined that with a slugging ability that portended to big power to be had.  Ohtani also became a puzzle for yearly fantasy baseball leagues in the sense that he was made into two "different" players, with one being a hitter and one being a pitcher that required two separate draft picks.  In terms of where yours truly stood, I was not very bullish on Ohtani for the simple fact that his draft price was going to be prohibitive and the recent string of Japanese pitchers coming over to the States was filled with never-ending Tommy John cases due to the heavy workloads while such players took part in Far East leagues.  Fast forward to present day and Ohtani has realized the fears I had concerning him and on multiple levels.  For one thing, Ohtani predictably came down with elbow trouble and soon was diagnosed with a dreaded partially torn UCL.  That development has put his pitching completely on hold for now and makes any one pitch he may eventually throw the one that could finish his season for good. 

On the hitting side, Ohtani has come back from the DL to be a semi-regular outfielder or DH but his numbers there are beginning to look shaky as his average is down to .274 as his K/9 rises to 26.8.  While Ohtani draws walks (11.1 BB/9), his overall game has become mostly centered on power and on at least that front, he has been decent with 7 home runs in 153 at-bats.  Be that as it may, Ohtani is really just a backup outfielder in fantasy baseball leagues and his pitching could be done for awhile given the elbow woes.  When you put it all together, Ohtani has been a decent-sized disappointment.  While his pitching was very impressive before the elbow trouble, the price he cost at the draft does not look like money well spent.  

2018 FANTASY FOOTBALL DRAFT DEBATE: JULIO JONES/MICHAEL THOMAS

The first 2018 fantasy football Draft Debate is upon us and today we delve into the top of the wide receiver hierarchy in order to determine who should be drafted ahead of the other between the Atlanta Falcons' Julio Jones and the New Orleans Saints' Michael Thomas.  Both guys are supreme WR 1's in yearly fantasy football leagues and both are already being drafted right around one another at the turn of Round 1 into Round 2.  So as always, let's compare the two in order to determine who in fact should hear their name called first at the draft table. 

RECEPTIONS:  This one has been all Thomas the last two seasons as his 92 and 104 receptions handily beats Jones' 83 and 88 during that same span.  While Jones has two 100-catch seasons on his resume, the numbers say Thomas is the better bet to reach that mark this season based on recent numbers.
ADVANTAGE:  Michael Thomas

YARDS:  As solidly as Thomas took the debate in receptions, Jones gets the easy nod in yardage.  Jones is consistently one of the best yardage wideouts in the game on a yearly basis and he has been over 1,400 each of the last two seasons while Thomas has been a few hundred short of that milestone.
ADVANTAGE:  Julio Jones

TD's:  Both Thomas and Jones have an annoying habit of not scoring as many touchdowns as their ability would seem to indicate, with no double-digit tally for either in the last two seasons.  While Drew Brees' habit of passing the football all over the field hurts Thomas' number there, Jones seems to be another Andre Johnson who hauled in a boatload of passes without scoring much.  With that said, Thomas' 14 scores dwarfs Jones' 9 the last two seasons.
ADVANTAGE:  Michael Thomas

WINNER:  Michael Thomas

As you can see it was close again but Thomas gets the slight nod.  Durable and the trusted number 1 outlet for Brees, Thomas is the guy to take over Jones if such a situation presents itself this summer.  


2018 FANTASY BASEBALL WRAPUP: TUESDAY

Greg Bird:  1/3 with his 6th HR while hitting .207.  Can't think of a more volatile player over the last three seasons in terms of seeing big-time potential but also maddening slumps and injuries.  This story is still not completely told yet however.

Manny Machado:  3/4 with 2 home runs (23 for season) while hitting .314.  Hey Bryce this is how you perform during a walk year.

Anthony Rendon:  2/5 with his 13th HR while hitting .278.  It never seems to completely be a smooth ride but Rendon is another one of those guys who will get his numbers by the end of the season. 

Rougned Odor:  2/3 with his 6th HR while hitting .242. In three years I think this kid will still be a monster stud and we will look back at all these K's and chuckle how we all collectively almost gave up on him.

Francisco Lindor:  1/5 with his 24th HR while hitting .296.  If Lindor goes for 40 home runs with a .300 average as a SHORTSTOP this season, I almost reflexively want to give him 2018 Fantasy Baseball MVP.

Jose Ramirez:  2/4 with his 25th HR while hitting .290.  How many times have Ramirez and Lindor homered in the same game this season?  Has to be double digits. 

Trevor Bauer:  8 IP 3 H 0 ER 4 BB 12 K with an ERA of 2.30.  Other than maybe Chris Sale, Bauer has the most wicked stuff in all of baseball. 

Odubel Herrera:  2/5 with his 16th HR while hitting .278.  Herrera seems to be falling in love with the home run ball as his average is dipping. 

Maikel Franco:  2/4 with his 12th HR while hitting .274.  I said the other day this is the best I have seen Franco in years and the recent power surge makes him someone now to add once again.

Travis Shaw:  1/3 with his 16th HR while hitting .242.  Like Bryce Harper, Shaw has had AWFUL BABIP luck helped along by the shift.  Something we have to add as a factor to future spring projections.

Wilson Ramos:  1/4 with his 14th HR while hitting .291.  See what happens when you draft the catcher I told you to pick back in March?

Justin Smoak:  1/4 with his 13th HR while hitting .241.  Yeah 2017 was a fluke. 

Marcus Stroman:  7 IP 6 H 1 ER 2 BB 5 K with an ERA of 5.90.  Stroman has been so utterly terrible that this outing may qualify for the "even a broken clock is right twice a day" saying. 

Miles Mikolas:  6 IP 3 H 2 ER 1 BB 6 K with an ERA of 2.65.  What a smashing success this guy has been but just keep in mind the grind of a long MLB season will rear its ugly head during the late summer.  Selling high not a bad idea. 

Adalberto Mondesi:  2/4 with his second HR and 5th SB while hitting .230.  The tools are all there but Mondesi's biggest challenge that could make them all moot as we all know is simply getting on first base. 

Brian Dozier:  1/4 with his 14th HR while hitting .223.  The guy does have a tendency to go nuts from July onward.

Stephen Piscotty:  1/5 with his 11th HR while hitting .257.  This is Mark Trumbo three weeks ago al over again.  PICK HIM UP!

Alex Bregman:  2/5 with 2 home runs (19 for season) while hitting .282.  The Mark Teixeira of shortstops or third baseman (you pick) right on down to the ugly Aprils and insane production the rest of the way. 

Justin Verlander:  6 IP 3 H 0 ER 0 BB 6 K with an ERA of 2.05.  Just hand him the Cy Young already.  Kate Upton will have nothing to complain on social media about the award this season.




Tuesday, July 10, 2018

2018 FANTASY BASEBALL CLOSING TIME: SEAN DOOLITTLE PLACED ON DL BY NATS DUE TO TOE AILMENT

It was only a matter of time.  While few relievers in all of baseball are more dominant on a year-to-year basis, it also can be pointed out that Washington Nationals closer Sean Doolittle is one of the more injury prone players in the game. As a result, I stated in my annual draft guide this past spring that Doolittle could be one of the very best closers in fantasy baseball but at the same time, the risk was extremely high in terms of him getting injured.  Well Doolittle almost made it to the All-Star break in one piece but ultimately he finally succumbed to the law of average as the Nats placed him on the 10-day DL Tuesday with toe inflammation.  His loss is a decent one as Doolittle pitched to a splendid 1.45 ERA, ridiculous 0.54 WHIP, and punched out 49 batters in 37.1 IP while locking down 22 saves.  Fortunately, the word is that it is considered a minor deal and that Doolittle should be able to make it back at the end of the 10 days or soon thereafter.  Now the guessing game begins as to who will close in Doolittle's place as the Nats have two former All-Star closers operating in setup in Brandon Kintzler and the newly-acquired Kelvin Herrera.  The knee-jerk assumption would be that Herrera is the guy as he was as dominant as Doolittle was while closing games earlier in the season for the Kansas City Royals but he has stumbled of late in giving up runs in his last two outings.  Kintzler meanwhile has pitched clean appearances in 7 of his last 8 times but his 1.30 WHIP is not great.  Our call would be that Herrera would be the guy given his track record but this is just a speculative pick.  Add either guy where available just to be on the safe side. 


2018 FANTASY BASEBALL STATUS REPORT: GIANCARLO STANTON OUTFIELDER NEW YORK YANKEES

Without debate, the New York Yankees' trade for monster slugging outfielder Giancarlo Stanton was the top story of the winter as it added arguably the best power hitter in the game to a lineup that already possessed another 50-homer bat in Aaron Judge.  Visions of a Mickey Mantle-Roger Maris middle of the order danced in the minds of Yankee fans and prospective fantasy baseball owners of both and admittedly from this peanut stand, a notion that 70 home runs was possible from Stanton now that he was moving from a pitching-dominant park in Miami to a launching pad in New York.  Well as often happens in such hyped scenarios, Stanton didn't exactly come out of the gates on fire as he dealt with typical pressures of trying to acclimate not only to a new league but also to a city that demands nothing but instant success.  Spiking in strikeouts and also seeing a dip in walks, Stanton scuffled to just a .230 average with 5 measly home runs in April as he heard some boos with the K's really piling up.  Since that rough first month though, Stanton has been on a firm upward trajectory as he upped those slashes to .264 with 6 bombs in May and then .298 with 8 more bombs in June.  July looking to be the fourth straight month of improvement as well as Stanton goes into Tuesday's games with a .342 average and 3 home runs in just 38 at-bats to bring his season totals to:

.272
22 HR
52 RBI
55 R
2 SB
31.3 K/9
8.7 BB/9
.350 BABIP

Looking at those numbers, Stanton's power has been typically excellent and his runs and RBI remain very potent as well given his .344 OBP.  Those three categories were never really up for worry anyways and so no shock by anything we have seen there.  It is in the average and strikeouts department where we have seen some volatility as Stanton's old K habits are rearing their ugly head again.  Right now Stanton is right there as one of the more strikeout-prone players in the game as his 31.3 K/9 is a very nasty number and it has helped pull down his batting average until recently.  Alas, if not for his VERY lucky for a big man .350 BABIP, Stanton would likely be in the .255 range with his average.  As far as the BABIP, Stanton has not even had so much as a .300 BABIP in each of the last three seasons so we know a dip there is on its way and that will be a major hit to his average if the K's continue to flow.  Not to be overlooked, Stanton's walks are down by a decent margin as his BB/9 went from 12.3 a year ago to 8.7.  A lot of that has to do with Judge getting a bunch of those walks but still Stanton needs to get his number there back to the double-digit range. 

All in all, Stanton has been as advertised with the power but the average has taken a clear step back this season and that has hurt his stock a bit.  The first-round price tag this past March still seems worth the cost and better times seem to be ahead however given how hot Stanton is lately.  While 70 home runs admittedly was a foolish thought, 40 or more with all those runs and RBI will still make for a very good OF 1 season.


2018 FANTASY BASEBALL WRAPUP: MONDAY

Giancarlo Stanton:  2/4 with his 22nd HR in Game 1 while hitting .270.  Stanton is getting set to go nuts as the average is at a season-high and the power is on an every other game basis.  Look out.

Mark Trumbo:  1/3 with his 12th HR in Game 1 while hitting. 261.  What we are seeing right now is vintage and very helpful Mark Trumbo right on down to the combo of a .260 average and awesome pop.

Asdrubal Cabrera:  2/4 with his 16th HR in Game 1 while hitting .282.  The Los Angeles Dodgers are sniffing around Cabrera and heaven's knows the player would walk his way to the West Coast if he could to escape the disgrace that is the Mets.

Maikel Franco:  2/4 with his 11th HR in Game 1 while hitting.271.  Solid season for Franco after the mess of the previous two years.  I always was a sucker for the guy but his overall approach will likely just keep him a backup in mixed fantasy baseball leagues. 

Juan Soto:  1/4 with his 9th HR while hitting .301.  I still say Vladimir Guerrero with better patience.

Bryce Harper:  1/4 with his 22nd HR while hitting .218.  The shift is absolutely killing Harper and skewing his BABIP so badly that expecting some massive average turnaround is not automatic. 

Gregory Polanco:  2/3 with his 13th HR and 4th SB while hitting .236.  Looks like Polanco finally realized the season was underway after sleeping the first three months. 

J.D. Martinez:  2/4 with his 28th HR while hitting .331.  I mean Martinez has not let up for even one second this season in terms of his insane assault on opposing pitching.

Steve Pearce:  2/4 with his 5th HR while hitting .330.  This move is already working out nicely for the Red Sox and it can for the fantasy baseball community as you always want to check out bats that make their way to Fenway and who have pop like the veteran does. 

Eduardo Rodriguez:  5.2 IP 3 H 0 ER 3 BB 5 K with an ERA of 3.62.  Again either a shutout or a shellacking here. 

Scott Schebler:  4/5 with his 12th HR while hitting .283.  Schebler was always capable of more than what he showed a year ago and he is doing that this season in so far posting a very quality OF 3. 

Joey Votto:  1/4 with his 9th HR while hitting .292,  Sorry but I will never criticize or say that Votto has entered a decline phase until he goes through an entire season of such downward results.  Yes the power dip is concerning but I am not having that convo yet. 

Yonder Alonso:  1/3 with his 13th HR while hitting .255.  Alsono has settled into being a useful UTIL or CI bat at this stage of the game and nothing more as 2018 has proved,.

Mike Clevinger:  6 IP 7 H 5 ER 3 BB 11 K with an ERA of 3.34.  I have been getting a lot of tweets about guys being offered Clevinger in deals but my answer is that while he has a live arm, I don't completely trust him.  Also, considering that the first half went as well as could be, the second half really has nowhere to go but down. 

Jesus Aguilar:  1/4 with his 23rd HR while hitting .305.  I'm telling you this is Albert Pujols rookie year all over again. 

Starlin Castro:  2/5 with his 7th HR while hitting .299.  Another quality season from Castro in a recent string of them. 

Brian Anderson:  2/5 with his 8th HR while hitting .284.  I an going with Anderson of late in a money league that plays four outfielders and needless to say, I am happy.

Wilson Ramos:  2/5 with his 13th HR while hitting .291.  One of my best calls in last March's draft guide was to go all-in here.

Brett Gardner:  4/6 with his 7th HR in Game 2 while hitting .260.  Gardner saying he is not done just yet. 

Aaron Nola:  7 IP 1 H 0 ER 1 BB 10 K with an ERA of 2.27.  As long as I have Nola and Eddie Rosario on my teams next season, nothing else matters. 

Stephen Piscotty:  3/4 with his 10th HR while hitting .258.  Told you to pick up Piscotty the other day as he is starting to have that kind of post-hype sleeper campaign that always turns out as an extremely valuable add. 

Gerrit Cole:  6 IP 3 H 0 ER 3 BB 11 K with an ERA of 2.57.  No win to show for this gem but more dominance in a season full of it. 

Wil Myers:  2/4 with his 7th HR while hitting .300.  The guy is just a bit hot right now. 




Monday, July 9, 2018

2018 FANTASY BASEBALL STATUS REPORT: NATHAN EOVALDI SP TAMPA BAY RAYS

Yeah him again. Anyone who has been a habitual reader of this space knows the utter disdain/disgust I have had over the years for yearly gross underperformance of veteran starter Nathan Eovaldi.  In fact, Eovaldi was one of the most frustrating pitchers I have ever seen in that he was blessed with a 100-mph fastball and consistently graded out as having the best velocity in the game but that still didn't prevent him from getting his head handed to him almost every season.  The real problem for Eovaldi was that despite the on paper overpowering heater, he had little to no movement on the pitch which caused it to get continually pounded by major league hitters.  Add in Tommy John surgery that wiped out his entire 2017 campaign and Eovaldi was almost completely ignored in 2018 fantasy baseball drafts.  Fast forward to present day and Eovaldi's return from Tommy John has been a resounding success so far and it has come with the Tampa Bay Rays who never met a reclamation project they didn't have an interest in.  Going into his next outing and through 48.1 frames, Eovaldi has the following numbers:

3-3
3.35 ERA
0.81 WHIP
.190 BAA
8.19 K/9
1.12 BB/9
1.68 HR/9
.198 BABIP

Looking at the numbers, Eovaldi's 8.19 K/9 is at a career-best rate and is the first time in his career he has been above average there.  Eovaldi also shown excellent control which is a must to operate in the AL East.  Best of all, Eovaldi still has his extreme velocity from prior to the surgery as he currently is carrying around an average fastball that has come in at 97.4 which is right on career norms.  Unlike in the past, Eovaldi is getting swings and misses with the pitch but the sample size is still a bit too slow to say this is the new norm.  There also is the matter of the insanely lucky .198 BABIP which is in no way sustainable and will result in the ERA jumping.  Considering that Eovaldi already is at 3.35 with the ERA, any jump there could push up against some more ugly ratios there. With that said, Eovaldi has looked much crisper overall as a pitcher and should be added everywhere.  As far as how to handle him moving forward, Eovaldi should still be handled as a streamer as you bench him versus the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox of the world.  I will in no way endorse saying we have a new Eovaldi on our hands but the early returns look promising. 



Sunday, July 8, 2018

2018 FANTASY BASEBALL WRAPUP: SUNDAY

Ryan Borucki:  7 IP 7 H 1 ER 2 BB 5 K with an ERA of 2.25.  A minor leaguer since 2012, Borucki is taking advantage of hitters who are not familiar with his stuff/arsenal.  Be very careful here.  

Jurickson Profar:  1/5 with his 9th HR while hitting .247.  At least Profar is sticking in the majors and staying healthy.  

Austin Bibens-Dirkx:  5.1 IP 3 H 0 ER 1 BB 5 K with an ERA of 3.71.  Stop.  He is 33 and a career minor league journeyman.

Michael Fulmer:  7 IP 5 H 2 ER 3 BB 6 K with an ERA of 4.11 The Tigers insist they are holding onto Fulmer but his fantasy baseball owners are likely hoping he can get moved into a decent NL park.

Jed Lowrie:  1/5 with his 16th HR while hitting .290.  Sometimes those career years come on the back nine. 

Stephen Piscotty:  1/5 with his 9th HR while hitting .251.  Piscotty is definitely a hot pickup this week as he always has had a smooth bat and is reaching the age where the power can grow.  

Shane Bieber:  6 IP 8 H 4 ER 1 BB 7 K with an ERA of 3.47.  Bieber is still developing at the major league level which shows in the 1.40 WHIP and the inconsistency from outing to outing.  Stream carefully.  

C.J. Cron:  2/5 with his 17th HR while hitting .244.  After that very promising start, Cron looks like 20 other guys on the waiver wire in your league.  

Jake Bauers:  2/3 with his third HR while hitting .240.  Things look quite bright for the future as Bauers is just 22 and already is posting a BB/9 clip over 15.0 which is tremendous for someone so young.  Be patient.  

Nathan Eovaldi:  7 IP 1 H 0 ER 0 BB 9 K with an ERA of 3.35.  Again it came against the New York Mets but this is the best I have ever seen Eovaldi.  Dare to say I am being swayed to make an add.  

Jose Altuve:  1/4 with his 9th HR while hitting .338.  Was concerned about the power dip earlier in the season but no such concerns now.  On his way to another 20 bombs which will go with all of the other spectacular numbers the guy continually puts up.  

J.T. Realmuto:  5/6 with 3 RBI while hitting .317.  Good luck trying to come up with four better pure hitters than this guy.  

Whit Merrifield:  5/5 while hitting .303.  No one still talks about Merrifield but the guy has been terrific for the second year in a row.  Buy in completely to whatever he puts forth.  

Brian Dozier:  2/4 with his 13th HR while hitting .222.  You can't buy any lower than where the guy is right now.  

Eduardo Escobar:  1/4 with his 14th HR while hitting .270.  With Eddie Rosario tearing it up as a prime OF 1 this season, be sure not to overlook the breakthrough happening here as well.  

Jesus Aguilar:  2/4 with 2 home runs (22 for season) while hitting .306.  This may sound like blasphemy but what we are seeing from Aguilar this season has brought back memories of Albert Pujols overnight ascension to stardom as a rookie.  

Sean Newcomb:  5 ER in 3.2 IP with an ERA of 3.44.  Newcomb is in a full-blown slump right now and 4 walks continue a recent step back in that crucial area.  I said previously that Newcomb was going through a dead arm or tired arm phase and dragging his arm through the zone could be resulting in the walks. I would bench Newcomb the next time out but don't throw in the towel.  

Eugenio Suarez:  2/4 with his 19th HR while hitting .315.  If this keeps up Suarez will make it a good debate between he and Kris Bryant a year from now.  




2018 FANTASY BASEBALL STATUS REPORT: NICK CASTELLANOS 3B/OF DETROIT TIGERS

Each and every season as annual fantasy baseball drafts get underway, yours truly likes to put forth a list of sleepers in my annual draft guide centered on those hitters and pitchers I think will supply the best bang for the buck.  Some of these sleepers I downright obsess over in an effort to try and make sure such players are on my rosters once the draft is complete.  This past spring one of those players was Detroit Tigers third baseman/outfielder Nick Castellanos who I felt was on the verge of a big rise to top-level status in both real life and fantasy baseball and I concluded he was capable of 30 home runs and a batting average over .280 which would be tremendous numbers considering his spring price tag was not overly pricey as he reached the age of 26.  Fast forward to present day and Castellanos has been terrific as expected and one draft pick that has almost completely worked out.  Going into Saturday's action, Castellanos' numbers spoke for themselves:

.302
14 HR
54 RBI
48 R
1 SB
21.4 K/9
6.1 BB/9
.359 BABIP

Outside of a very lucky BABIP, Castellanos has been fantasy baseball money well spent so far as he has graded out nicely almost everywhere.  The power started out a bit slowly but Castellanos has really ramped that up of late as he heads toward the All-Star Break just slightly behind the 30 home run pace.  The 54 RBI is a very good number for that point of the season and the 48 runs scored qualifies as such as well.  Yes, the lack of steals is a bit of a bummer but Castellanos was never going to help there anyway.  All in all, Castellanos has fully graduated into being a top-ten fantasy baseball third baseman this season and he should be at such a tier for the next few seasons at the very least since he is only just now entering into his prime.  

2018 FANTASY BASEBALL WRAPUP: SATURDAY

Kyle Gibson:  7 IP 4 H 3 ER 4 BB 9 K with an ERA of 3.59.  Maybe a light bulb finally went on after years of ghastly pitching from this former top prospect.

Eugenio Suarez:  2/3 with his 18th HR while hitting .312.  Top-tier stardom!

Javier Baez:  4/5 with his 17th HR while hitting .294.  Statement game from Baez as he is really putting forth a major breakout campaign with everything clicking finally.

Starling Marte:  3/4 with his 10th HR while hitting .275.  Got to love the power/speed game here as Marte has been terrific coming off the PED bust a year ago.  Undervalued a bit in drafts this past spring, Marte has paid off handsomely. 

Jake Arrieta:  7 IP 6 H 2 ER 1 BB 8 K with an ERA of 3.47.  The 1.25 WHIP is troubling here but Arrieta continues to hold a decent ERA despite the loss of velocity.  Even more important is that Arrieta has avoided health trouble.

Rougned Odor:  2/4 with his 5th HR while hitting .234.  A 25.3 K/9 is simply not going to cut it but we need to remind ourselves that Odor is just 24 and could be setting himself up as another classic post-hype sleeper made good in a year or two. 

Nick Castellanos:  1/4 with his 15th HR while hitting .301.  Status Report on the way and is is very positive which makes sense since I obsessed over the guy all spring. 

Cole Hamels:  3 ER in .2 IP with an ERA of 4.28.  I'm sorry but Hamels is finished. 

Mike Fiers:  6 IP 5 H 1 ER 1 BB 6 K with an ERA of 3.65.  This guy comes back from the dead more than Jason Vorhees. 

Anibal Sanchez:  6.2 IP 2 H 1 ER 1 BB 8 K with an ERA of 2.72.  Got a lot of flak for saying that Sanchez was worth adding at the beginning of the season as all he needed was some good health given his still young age. 

Jean Segura:  2/4 with his 7th HR while hitting .333.  Another tremendous season unfolding for Segura who is doing a bit of everything as one of the very best but not much talked about five-tool infielders in the game. 

James Paxton:  7 IP 7 H 4 ER 1 BB 9 K with an ERA of 3.49.  Take away the annual health woes and there is no debate Paxton is a slam-dunk fantasy baseball ace. 

Kyle Freeland:  5 IP 5 H 1 ER 4 BB 4 K with an ERA of 3.18.  Hey ride it out but just on the road. 

Blake Snell:  7.1 IP 6 H 0 ER 3 BB 9 K with an ERA of 2.09.  Shutting down the New York Mets is no big deal as they are the worst offensive team in recent memory but damn Snell has been insane this season and deserves extra credit for having a near-2.00 ERA in the AL East.

Aaron Judge:  1/3 with his 25th HR while hitting .277.  50 home runs may be a stretch again but Judge looks so much better as an overall hitter this season which is not to be overlooked.

Brett Gardner:  2/5 with his 6th HR while hitting .254.  Old reliable.

Kevin Pillar:  1/3 with his 8th HR while hitting .246.  Always admired the tools here but Pillar needs to get himself back towards the top of the Toronto order to be more than AL-only material.

Randall Grichuk:  1/4 with his 11th HR while hitting .207.  Garbage. 

J.A. Happ:  6 ER in 2.2 IP with an ERA of 4.44.  The Yankees are very interested in Happ but sure found a funny method of expressing it. 

Avisail Garcia:  1/3 with his 9th HR while hitting. 281.  Damn this guy.

Alex Bregman:  3/5 with his 17th HR while hitting .284.  The last two weeks from Bregman have been beyond ridiculous and make completely foolish those who were panicking over his slow start.  Already knocking on top-tier status, Bregman is also pushing up on first-round status for 2019.

Yuli Gurriel:  2/4 with his sixth HR while hitting .303.  Every night it seems like Gurriel has two hits at least. 

Charlie Morton:  5 ER in 5.2 IP with an ERA of 2.83.  Morton still punched out 8 to not make it a complete wash but he clearly had one of his more least-effective games of the season.  Hardly time to worry. 

Yasiel Puig:  2/4 with his 10th HR while hitting .263.  Puig is doing it to us again.

Mike Trout:  3/4 with his 25th HR while hitting .312.  Every MLB fan needs to petition Rob Manfred to try and get Trout of Los Angeles and somewhere along East Coast so half of the game's fans don't keep missing what a true monster this guy is. 

Ross Stripling:  6 IP 3 H 1 ER 0 BB 7 K with an ERA of 2.22.  There may not be a more unexpected pitching development of the season than what this guy is doing. 


Saturday, July 7, 2018

2018 FANTASY FOOTBALL DRAFT SLEEPER: GEORGE KITTLE TIGHT END SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS

The San Francisco 49ers offense is a very trendy and popular subject for early 2018 fantasy football drafts and it all starts with the ascension of quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo who is as prime a sleeper as it gets given the pop surrounding his name.  Whether it is wideout Marques Goodwin or running back Jerrick McKinnon, everyone wants a piece of this group.  Also included among the potential breakout 49ers offensive players is second-year tight end George Kittle who was a fifth-round pick in 2017 but who quickly became a trusted outlet for Garoppolo midway through his rookie campaign.  Despite the slow start to his season, Kittle wound up catching 43 balls for 515 yards and 2 scores and those numbers should be blown away this season given the QB play of Garoppolo and the player himself being capable of such a leap.  Keep in mind as well that a young QB's most favorite weapon is a pass receiving tight end that can bail them out when dropping back to pass and Kittle will absolutely be this guy for him this season.  Kittle has terrific hands and natural receiving ability and he was known for his chops in the passing game while he was in college at Iowa.  With tight end always a source of frustration in yearly fantasy football leagues, Kittle should be right at the top of the sleeper lists from this group and thus be a shrewd target for those sleeper hounds.

2018 PROJECTION:  65 receptions 734 yards 5 TD  


2018 FANTASY BASEBALL STATUS REPORT: DERECK RODRIGUEZ SP SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS

On an always jam-packed Friday night in fantasy baseball that has home runs and big pitching performances dotting the landscape, San Francisco Giants 26-year-old pitcher Dereck Rodriguez further distinguished himself by picking up his third win in going 6.1 scoreless innings while giving up six hits and punching out 5.  The outing also gained him some more credibility in the fantasy baseball community who are just now identifying who he is in terms of a possible asset.  As it stands out, Rodriguez goes into his next outing with the following numbers:

3-1
3.09 ERA
1.28 WHIP
.260 BAA
7.01 K/9
2.27 BB/9
0.62 HR/9
.309 BABIP

When perusing the numbers above, Rodriguez has walked a bit of a thin line as his .260 BAA is high and his 7.01 K/9 is below average and not very useful in fantasy baseball terms.  Add in the shaky 1.28 WHIP and Rodriguez has some red flags attached to his name for sure.  On the other hands, Rodriguez has made sure not to beat himself as he is not walking many batters and he is keeping the ball in the park as well which when combined together really help keep the ERA at bay.  Still, the ERA and WHIP are in two different zones in terms of impact and that usually spells trouble going forward.  Add in the small margin for error as a guy who is not a major strikeout artist (or even average in that area) and Rodriguez looks a whole lot more shaky of an investment then the surface numbers may show. 


Friday, July 6, 2018

2018 FANTASY BASEBALL STATUS REPORT: LUKE WEAVER SP ST. LOUIS CARDINALS

Perhaps the biggest star during a light fantasy baseball slate Thursday afternoon/evening was St. Louis Cardinals youngster starter Luke Weaver who was able to dominate the San Francisco Giants to the tune of giving up just two earned runs on two hits with no walks and 7 K's to pick up the win.  The outing was one of the few bright spots for Weaver in 2018 however as he has gone the way of Luis Castillo as another young and hard-throwing pitcher who came into the year with a ton of promise but so far have been big letdowns.  The hope is though that this outing signifies a turnaround for Weaver because it is likely that some of his original owners have already thrown in the towel here given the very shaky previous overall results.  As far as how the current numbers look, this is where Weaver is statistically after his Thursday gem:

5-7
4.92 ERA
1.35 WHIP
.253 BAA
8.26 K/9
3.15 BB/9
1.21 HR/9
.299 BABIP

Wow other than Weaver's neutral .299 BABIP, pretty much every number is quite ugly for Weaver.  Also it does need to be said that Weaver's neutral BABIP means he has earned every bit of his nasty 4.92 ERA and 1.35 WHIP since there was no random luck involved either way.  Breaking things down further, opposing batters had a much clearer plan of attack when dealing with Weaver this season as shown by his drastic K/9 drop from an ace-like 10.74 in 2017 all the way down to 8.26.  These hitters are laying off some of Weaver's offerings as they are drawing walks at a high rate and also swatting home runs.  Nothing can be done to erase the nasty numbers previously but again the hope is that Weaver is set to make a turnaround as his prospect pedigree shows he is a much better pitcher than he has put forth.  I wouldn't exactly run out to pick him up but I also think he is just too talented to not take a shot on in planting on your bench for a few outings to see if hin fact he has turned it around.  The season is still long enough that Weaver can re-write his 2018 story some.  


2018 FANTASY BASEBALL WRAPUP: THURSDAY

Brian Anderson:  2/4 with his 6th HR while hitting .284.  Anderson has had a very nice season coming out of nowhere but his average is mostly empty which means he has value in only five outfielder formats or NL-only leagues. 

Justin Bour:  2/4 with his 14th HR while hitting .238.  We saw in the Home Run Derby a year ago that Bour's power is very much legit.

Trea Turner:  3/5 with 2 home runs (11 for season) while hitting .280.  What is interesting here is that if you polled Turner's fantasy baseball owners in a knee-jerk reaction about his season so far, many would say he was a letdown.  The movement all over the order is annoying as hell but Turner is on pace for around 20 home runs to go with all those steals and runs and even the average is trending northward.  That's why they call it a marathon and not a spring. 

Jeremy Hellickson:  8 ER in 4 IP with an ERA of 3.81.  A streaming option that went horribly wrong. 

Joey Gallo:  1/4 with his 21st HR while hitting .192.  I think Gallo's home run is still in orbit.  Can he .200 though?

Niko Goodrum:  1/4 with his 8th HR while hitting .241.  AL-only bat a shade or two below the breakout of Jeimar Candelario. 

Matthew Boyd:  6 ER in 4 IP with an ERA of 4.58.  And Boyd is back where he should be in terms of ERA after that incredibly fluky April and May.  Just goes to show you that the law of averages in fantasy baseball applies to everyone.  Waiting on you now Junior Guerra.

Jonathan Schoop:  2/4 with 2 home runs (10 for season) while hitting .207.  There are scores of ex-Schoop owners out there who are muttering to themselves this morning "so, NOW he does this."

Logan Morrison:  2/4 with his 10th HR while hitting .194.  The Joey Gallo of first base. 

Aaron Sledgers:  6 IP 3 H 1 ER 1 BB 2 K with an ERA of 2.38.  This 25-year-old who was once a fifth-round pick has some truly horrid K/9 rates which of course doesn't work in the AL or the majors for that matter.  Pass him by. 

Jhoulys Chacin:  7 IP 3 H 2 ER 1 BB 7 K with an ERA of 3.63.  This guy seems to sneak up on the fantasy baseball community each season and posts some decent numbers no matter where he is in during his journeyman career. 

Jose Altuve:  1/3 with his 8th HR while hitting .332.  Using the second overall pick on Altuve has worked out just nicely.  Wow those yearly averages of his are nuts. 

Justin Verlander:  7 IP 4 H 2 ER 0 BB 10 K with an ERA of 2.15.  Coming off his worst outing of the season, Verlander reminds us that he is literally going to kick ass all year long. 

Carlos Rodon:  6 IP 5 H 2 ER 6 BB 6 K with an ERA of 4.29.  Look at those walks.  This is why you need to resist the urge to use Rodon as he simply can't harness his stuff.  Like ever.

Marco Gonzales:  6 IP 5 H 1 ER 2 BB 7 K with an ERA of 3.64.  Said that Gonzales was pretty legit a few weeks ago without going over the top and that prediction has held steady. 

Matt Carpenter:  1/3 with his 16th HR while hitting .264.  Carpenter has been insane over the last month so even I admit to casting his fantasy baseball funeral a bit prematurely. 






Thursday, July 5, 2018

2018 FANTASY FOOTBALL DRAFT SLEEPER: CAMERON MEREDITH WR NEW ORLEANS SAINTS

With 2018 fantasy football drafts starting to become more widespread, checking out some of the prime sleepers are the way to go in order to be fully prepared for selecting players in your league.  Today we take a closer look at New Orleans Saints slot wideout Cameron Meredith who came over to the team during the offseason on a two-year deal worth $9.6 million.  This after Meredith missed all of 2017 due to suffering a torn ACL last August that he is now fully recovered from.  The fact that the injury happened more than a year before the first game this September, there should be no reservations about Meredith's availability for Week 1 and so we need to grade him out just on ability.

Diving a bit further into Meredith, we saw the PPR potential he carried in 2016 when he took advantage of injuries decimating the players ahead of him on the Chicago Bears wide receiver depth chart by catching 66 balls for 888 yards and 4 scores in just 14 games.  The good vibes from that performance led the Saints toward signing him this past winter and the current plan is for him to work in the slot which could be a very fantasy football-friendly spot in an always explosive Sean Payton/Drew Breed-led offense.  Now in terms of where the numbers will go in 2018, Meredith's 2016 haul I believe will be the FLOOR on what he could accomplish and he likely will go higher if the health cooperates.  While Brees does like to spread the football around like Aaron Rodgers, he will also no doubt make quick friends with his new receiving toy and so 75 catches for 900 yards with 4-6 scores seems very attainable.  That would put Meredith in the WR 3 realm in all fantasy football leagues and make him a very attractive target especially in PPR formats.  This is one stock which is aiming northward.

2018 PROJECTION:  78 receptions 895 yards 5 TD