FOLLOW US ON TWITTER

LIKE THE FANTASY SPORTS BOSS ON FACEBOOOK

Friday, August 31, 2018

2018 FANTASY FOOTBALL PLAYER ANALYZER: DEMARYUIS THOMAS WR DENVER BRONCOS

When evaluating the skills of Denver Broncos ace wideout Demaryius Thomas on paper, the easy conclusion to draw would be that he is a slam-dunk WR 1 in all fantasy football formats.  Blessed with uncanny size and speed, Thomas has all the tools needed to be a top-tier talent at the position; which is something we began to see from him back in 2012 when he caught 94 balls for 1,434 yards and 10 scores.  That season started a four-year stretch where Thomas was as good as any other receiver in football and it jived with the presence of Hall of Fame QB Peyton Manning getting the most out of his talents.  Alas, the last three seasons have been a bit of a different story for Thomas who had to deal with some truly putrid play from the awful collection of passers that have followed Manning's retirement in Denver and so as a result, it pushed his status in fantasy football down to a more moderate WR 2.  2017 seemed to be rock bottom for Thomas as well, since the 83 catches for 949 yards and 5 scores were his worst totals by a mile since 2012.  Some brighter times seem to be ahead now for Thomas however and that primarily has to do with the Broncos bringing in the very competent Case Keenum to man the QB position.  While Keenum is no Tom Brady, he did an excellent job in bringing the Minnesota Vikings to the NFC Championship Game a year ago and he also helped make a star out of wideout Adam Thielen.  Count on Keenum getting quickly acquainted with Thomas this season and so the latter has every chance to now get back to his old WR 1 status.  With Thomas' ADP remaining affordable, do yourself a favor and grab a share of this comeback story.

2018 PROJECTION:  93 catches 1,285 yards 9 TD

2018 FANTASY BASEBALL TRADE FALLOUT: ANDREW McCUTCHEN GETS NEW FANTASY LIFE AFTER BEING MOVED TO YANKEES

While he is still just 31 year of age, you always got the feeling that former veteran outfielder (and also former MVP) Andrew McCutchen was an OLD 31.  The reason for this is that McCutchen's mid-20's were so spectacular in terms of him putting up superstar five-tool numbers, that once he got a bit older and reached his 30's, the inevitable decline in some skills categories made him seem older than he really was.  So while McCutchen remains a very good MLB player, his fantasy baseball status has fallen to that of an OF 3 and honestly OF 1 numbers have not been seen here since 2015.  Having been moved to the San Francisco Giants prior to the season was certainly not the best things for his 2018 outlook given the pitching-leaning tendencies of the ballpark and we have seen so far in his age-31 campaign that some clear slippage remains part of the McCutchen equation. 

Alas, McCutchen received some new life late Thursday and it came in the form of being traded by the Giants to the New York Yankees who have a crying need for an outfielder ever since losing Aaron Judge five weeks ago.  McCutchen will slip right into rightfield for the Yankees and he carries to the New York the following numbers:

.255
15 HR
55 RBI
65 R
13 SB
12.9 BB/9
21.7 K/9
.309 BABIP

As you can see, the numbers are decent but nothing to go crazy about.  On thre plus side, a 15/13 ratio in the homers/steal categories is a very underrated tally and in fact, the 13 steals are the most McCutchen has collected since his 18 in 2014.  It is nice to see McCutchen still run at the age of 31 but his days of stealing 20 (last done in 2013) are finished.  And in terms of the power, McCutchen has dropped off more than a bit there this season (after smacking 28 a year ago) but a lot of blame goes to his previous locale in San Fran.  Moving to Yankees Stadium will do nothing but add a few homers to McCutchen's ledger and he should get a mental boost as well. 

Now as far as the negatives, the 21.7 K/9 is the second time in three seasons McCutchen has gone over 20.0 in that category and that surely coincides with an average that has slipped to .256, .279, and current .255 this season.  While McCutchen is still drawing a very high amount of walks, his overall hitting ability is slipping a bit.

Finally, you can see the loss of speed in McCutchen not only in the slip in steals but also in his erosion in BABIP.  A .309 BABIP is almost neutral and so McCutchen has earned his .255 average so far this season.  Also consider his BABIP has been .297, .305, and .309 the last two seasons-plus after being in the middle .300 area code during his MVP days. 

So in the end, Andrew McCutchen gets a nice boost going to New York where he could be an OF 2 the last month of the season.  Ride him out or pick him up as he could be headed for a solid finish to what has been an uneven season. 


Thursday, August 30, 2018

2018 FANTASY FOOTBALL PLAYER ANALYZER: KENYAN DRAKE RB MIAMI DOLPHINS

The Miami Dolphins have earned a reputation for doing some puzzling things with their personnel moves and their critics received some fresh ammunition when they traded away starting running back Jay Ajayi halfway through the 2017 season despite him having a nice breakout campaign the year prior.  While Ajayi was knocked for being a bit of a locker room problem, it still was a shock that the Dolphins threw in the towel on him so early in his career and in the middle of a season to boot.  Maybe the Dolphins knew something we all didn't however when it came to the abilities of backup Kenyan Drake, as the former 2016 third-round pick became a huge pickup in December when he rushed for over 100 yards in two of the team's last five games.  Showing an extreme burst and instant acceleration that Ajayi didn't possess, Drake also revealed his very good receiving ability as he snared 17 passes during that same December stretch.  As a result of his eye-opening play, Drake has been entrusted to be the Dolphins' starter going into 2018 over free-agent signee Frank Gore and those in PPR formats should be especially intrigued here.  While we won't go so far as to say Drake will become a star, his running/receiving combination could turn out to be very valuable at a somewhat affordable rate in drafts this summer.  The upside alone makes Drake someone to target in PPR formats and even in standard leagues he may be able to do enough to yield RB 2 despite Gore lurking around.

2018 PROJECTION:  1,109 rushing yards 7 TD, 49 receptions 398 yards 2 TD

2018 FANTASY FOOTBALL PLAYER ANALYZER: JIMMY GAROPPOLO QB SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS

If you are going to undertake the strategy of waiting a few rounds to take your fantasy football quarterback in single-passer leagues, the San Francisco 49ers' Jimmy Garoppolo needs to be near or at the top of your target list.  Outside of maybe the Los Angeles' Rams Jared Goff, Garoppolo is our favorite "value" QB for 2018 fantasy football and for a number of key reasons.  The first of course is that Garoppolo is pretty darn good as he showed in glimpses during his stay with the New England Patriots and also during his five-start debut with the San Francisco 49ers last season (67.4 %, 1,560 yards, 7 TD, 5 INT).  What stands out here is that Garoppolo showed tremendous accuracy and the gunslinger's mentality which always plays well in fantasy football.  The 49ers front office needs to get to work on supplying Garoppolo some more potent offensive weapons outside of emerging wideout Marquise Goodwin but count on GM John Lynch and company to address that during the 2018 NFL Draft.  Getting back to Garoppolo, the 49ers will likely let him launch the football down the field as much as he wants this season and so 25 touchdowns seem very likely under that setting.  The only concern we do have centers on the belief Garoppolo might be a bit injury prone and this fact needs to be weighed a bit when deciding on making a play here.  Beyond that issue, we highly recommend this future Pro Bowler.

2018 PROJECTION:  3,927 yards 25 TD 12 INT, 56 rushing yards 0 TD

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

2018 FANTASY FOOTBALL DRAFT BUSTS: RUSSELL WILSON

While we continue to espouse waiting to draft a quarterback in single-passer fantasy football leagues, those who do in decide to dive in early often are choosing between the Seattle Seahawks' Russell Wilson, the Houston Texans' DeShaun Watson, and the New England Patriots' Tom Brady once Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers is off the board.  Right now Wilson is being drafted on average as the second QB off the board after Rodgers and that is based on the fact he comes off a 2017 campaign where he threw for a career-high-tying 34 passing scores and also rushed for 586 on the ground for another 3 trips to the end zone.  Those numbers combined together made Wilson the top scoring player in 2018 fantasy football leagues that use 6 points for a TD and when you add in the durability, it makes sense he is going so high.  It does need to be stressed right now that fantasy football is not about last year's numbers but what they will do going forward and while this sounds simplistic, many in the fantasy football community lose sight of this as they pay through the nose expecting a repeat.  In Wilson's case this seems like a major longshot and the first reason is due to the arrival of Brian Schottenheimer as the new OC.  Anyone who has been a fan of a team whose offense was run by Schottenheimer knows he is a HUGE proponent of running the football and the fact the team used a first-round pick on Rashaad Penny last April says it all.  Schottenheimer has said repeatedly that he wants the Seahawks to return to the run-dominant ways of Marshawn Lynch and that is a good thing to do since the team had their most success under such a plan.  So on the surface already we are going to be looking at fewer passes being thrown by Wilson and that could jog all the way back to 500 or less in terms of attempts. 

In addition to the Scottenheimer arrival, we also have the big issue of tight end Jimmy Graham exiting off to Green Bay.  Graham led all tight ends in red zone looks a year ago and Wilson almost obsessively threw his way every time when a score was in play.  The Seahawks have mediocre veteran Ed Dickson and raw Nick Vannett as the possible replacement which is not very exciting to think about and so Wilson will be down a major weapon this season which will undoubtedly hurt his TD haul. 

Last but not least, Wilson's top wideout in veteran Doug Baldwin has been hobbled all summer with a bum knee and he said cryptically Tuesday that he doesn't think it will be 100 percent at any point this season.  With the risk of Baldwin going down for good at any point in the season, Wilson could be down TWO major targets to go with a new run-heavy offense. 

So as you can see, Russell Wilson looks like a major overdraft right now and we are much more eager to own guys like Philip Rivers, Cam Newton, Matthew Stafford, or Kirk Cousins this summer.  While Wilson will still be a good pass/run weapons, his overall output is unlikely to live up to the summer hype. 


2018 FANTASY FOOTBALL PLAYER ANALYZER: JARED GOFF QB LOS ANGELES RAMS

Lost in the amazing MVP-type performance of Los Angeles Rams running back Todd Gurley in 2017 was the just as impressive breakout performance of sophomore quarterback Jared Goff.  After a rookie campaign the previous year that was quite ugly/disturbing, the 2016 number 1 overall pick took right to new head coach Sean McVay's offense and never looked back in throwing for 3,804 yards, 28 TD's, and just 7 INT's.  Now while Goff was purely just a stationary pocket passer (only 28 rushing yards), he gets a big plus for keeping the turnovers under control.  By now it is also obvious that McVay is one of the brightest offensive minds in the game despite still being in his 30's and so Goff will do nothing but benefit further from the numbers-friendly scheme.  That is a big plus in terms of Goff's fantasy football outlook; not to mention the fact he is not getting as much respect as he should when it comes to pundits discussing the top player at the position for summer drafts.  That means Goff is a major target for those who choose to wait on drafting their quarterback and he almost reminds us of what the always underpriced Tony Romo was back in his Dallas Cowboys heyday.  Goff can certainly be the new Romo in terms of supplying 30 TD's and 4,000 yards without the cost of a pick in the first two rounds of the draft and we fully sign off here in terms of being big boosters of the guy for the upcoming season.

2018 PROJECTION:  4,027 yards 30 TD 10 INT, 34 rushing yards 0 TD

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

2018 FANTASY FOOTBALL ISSUES: WHY TRE'QUAN SMITH IS A MUST ADD

Anquan Boldin rookie year anyone?  Veterans of fantasy football have nothing but fond memories of when the Arizona Cardinals used a second-round pick on Boldin out of Florida State and then amid little-to-expectations, saw him go out and engineer one of the best rookie performances ever from a receiver as he caught 101 balls for 1,377 yards and 8 scores.  Boldin would go on to have a very underrated career overall but his first-year performance went down in the annals as one of the biggest fantasy football surprises we have seen in a while.  Enter into the subject of this particular post and then come around to thinking that it is entirely possible we see the same type of out-of-the-blue performance from New Orleans rookie wideout Tre'Quan Smith.  Originally a third-round pick of the team this past April, Smith has been the talk of Saints camp as he has caught everything throws his way and is showcasing freakish athletic ability that includes 4.4 speed and impressive 6-2 size.  Another Florida product just like Boldin as Smith is from UCF; the planets seem to be aligning here for the latter to be an instant impact player in fantasy football. 

For one thing, free agent signee Cam Meredith has been nothing but a colossal bust so far for the Saints.  Having continually struggled with injuries this summer, Meredith is also struggling to gain separation from defenders which is often death in terms of a receiver as we saw a year ago with Dez Bryant.  Meredith is coming off a very serious torn ACL in his knee and he seems to have lost a step or two.  Then there is aging Ted Ginn who is still somewhat productive but a massive drip in production would be no shock given his age.  It also would not take a lot for Ginn to be passed on the depth chart either.  So as you can see, Smith has a wide open path to a lofty status in the always potent New Orleans offense.  While the team is running more than ever before, Drew Brees is still slinging it all over the field and Mark Ingram will be suspended the first four games.  As a result, Smith should be picked up in all leagues right now and WR 3 value right out of the gate seems attainable. 


2018 FANTASY FOOTBALL PLAYER ANALYZER: ROB GRONKOWSKI TIGHT END NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

Despite being just 28-years-old, oft-injured New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski spoke openly regarding his thoughts of possibly retiring before the 2018 season began.  While Gronk eventually came around to playing at least one more year, the fact he contemplated walking away in the prime of his career speaks volumes to the physical toll the game has taken on him.  By now it is common knowledge regarding how Gronk is one of the most injury-prone players in all of football and it has begun to overshadow his tremendous offensive contributions when he is on the field.  Gronkowski has missed games due to injury each of the last six seasons now and for the first time in forever, the fantasy football community is letting his ADP slide past the initial two rounds as a result.  Be that as it may, Gronk remains a major temptation as he still is as good as it gets at the tight end position as he showed in catching 69 passes for 1,084 yards and 8 scores in 14 games last season.  We all know how Tom Brady loves throwing to Gronk in the red zone and the trade of wideout Brandin Cooks to the Los Angeles Rams will likely open up some more targets for him as well.  Unfortunately, we simply can't ever project a full slate of games for Gronk and 2018 is no different as he remains a huge boom-or-bust selection.
2018 PROJECTION:  65 receptions 988 yards 9 TD


Monday, August 27, 2018

2018 FANTASY FOOTBALL ISSUES: MARQISE LEE DONE FOR 2018, WHO STEPS UP IN HIS PLACE?

When Jacksonville Jaguars slot receiver Marqise Lee went down in a heap during the team's Saturday night preseason game, it didn't take a genius to figure out he would likely miss the entire 2018 season before even playing a down that counts.  We got confirmation of such a development on Monday as it was revealed Lee tore a ligament in his knee and his placement on I.R. removed a decent WR 3 in PPR formats from his fantasy football owners' roster before Week 1 even arrived.  Of course the flip side in all of this is who steps up in Lee's place but luckily the Jags are very deep at receiver in that they still have four guys capable of being a contributor to fantasy football rosters this season.  The two names that stood out the most and who were picked up the most ardently by the fantasy football community was Keelan Cole and Dede Westbrook in that order but veteran Donte Moncrief and rookie D.J. Chark also are on the radar as well.  If we were betting the farm, we would pick up Cole first and then go with Westbrook next if the former was already taken.  Both Cole and Westbrook emerged during the second half of 2017 and both guys became fantasy football lineup staples in December.  The difference between the two is that Cole is more similar to Lee and thus the more attractive option in PPR formats, while Westbrook works best in standard leagues given the fact he is the better TD option.  Overall the bottom line is that the Jags are a run-heavy outfit who still have the brutal Blake Bortles under center and so no wideout on the roster is likely to ever gain more than WR 3 value this season in fantasy football.  With that said, go with Lee and Westbrook in that order if you have a need. 


2018 FANTASY FOOTBALL PLAYER ANALYZER: DERRICK HENRY RB TENNESSEE TITANS

Anyone who watched the Tennessee Titan running backs operate at any point during the 2017 season would draw the obvious conclusion that aging veteran DeMarco Murray was on fumes and that second-year former Alabama Heisman Trophy winner Derrick Henry clearly was the most effective player at the position by a mile.  Be that as it may, Murray started for most of the season before Henry got a bit of a longer leash in December.  While his overall total of 744 rushing yards and 5 scores was nothing to write home about, by the end of last season it seemed clear that Henry was going to be a decent sleeper for 2018 fantasy football based on the fact he would be getting a prime chance as the team's starter.  Well, that optimism only lasted until the Titans inked free agent Dion Lewis this past March and so it now appears as though the Titans will use a committee featuring both the former New England Patriot and Henry.  That is certainly not a great setup for Henry overall in terms of grabbing even RB 2 value as Lewis is very capable both as a runner and as a receiver.  While we do envision Henry being the clear goal-line back and the guy who should get the edge in total rushing attempts, it is going to be tough to trust him as anything more than a low-end RB 2 in standard leagues given Lewis' presence.

2018 PROJECTION:  1,011 rushing yards 7 TD, 17 receptions 78 yards

Sunday, August 26, 2018

2018 FANTASY FOOTBALL DRAFT SLEEPER: DAVID NJOKU TIGHT END CLEVELAND BROWNS

Write it down in ink right now.  Cleveland Browns tight end David Njoku will finish as a top-five player at the position by the end of the 2018 fantasy football season.  Already lighting things up this preseason as a highly-targeted outlet for QB's Tyrod Taylor and Baker Mayfield, it needs to be said again who Njoku has a freakish combination of size and speed for the position that will make him a potentially big breakout story for those who buy in.  What is interesting right now is that Njoku is really only be drafting as a low-end starter in 12-team leagues and more often as a backup player.  This is somewhat understandable when you consider that Njoku's rookie numbers in 2017 were not overly impressive (32 catches for 386 yards and 4 TD's) but that had more to with the utter disgrace that was the Cleveland QB play.  With the much more capable Taylor and Mayfield now entering into the fray under center, Njoku is set to show that he is every bit the player and maybe even better than 2017 draft classmates O.J. Howard and Evan Engram.  Certainly I would take Njoku over Howard in all drafts and while Engram is rightly going ahead of him right now based on his solid rookie season, the Giants' tight end now has a bunch more competition for targets this season which may make repeating his 2017 haul tough to do.  The bottom line here is that Njoku already looks like a huge red zone weapon for the Browns and both Taylor and the rookie Mayfield have shown they tend to rely on their tight ends in the passing game.  This is all nothing but positives for Njoku's outlook and he should be drafted as a true breakout guy in every sense of the word. 


2018 FANTASY FOOTBALL PRESEASON WEEK 3 WRAPUP

-If Indianapolis Colts tight end Eric Ebron was on any other team without a fellow competent pass-catching tight end, the 5 catches for 54 yards and a score he picked up Saturday night would make more of an impact in the fantasy football world.  Be that as it may, Ebron remains a high former first-round talent who seems to be meshing well with QB Andrew Luck.  The presence of Jack Doyle though serves as a roadblock toward Ebron gaining his optimum fantasy football impact and his past reputation for running very hot and cold each week will likely continue.

-Just like with Adrian Peterson in Washington, it looks like retread veteran Alfred Morris has some juice left in the tank after he rushed for 84 yards on 17 carries Saturday night.  With the San Francisco 49ers having lost THREE running backs to injury already this summer, Morris was signed off the street so that his power running can be put to use,.  Having flashed as a decent enough RB 2 at times in standard formats in his career, Morris is still likely going to take a firm backseat to Jerrick McKinnon and Matt Breida return from their injuries.  

-Houston Texans QB DeShaun Watson has barely played this summer as the coaching staff wants to save him for the regular season as the former Clemson star comes off a second ACL tear.  Watson completed 3-of-6 throws for 15 yards and an INT but that is likely the last of his on-field work before Week 1.  While we have major concerns about Watson's durability, we think he can be a top fantasy football QB when he is out there on the field this season.

-Despite an earlier concussion this summer, Pittsburgh Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger looks ready to go for the regular season as he completed 11-of-18 throws for 114 yards and a 32-yard score to Justin Hunter Saturday.  We always have to worry about the injury woes of Big Ben but he will be as productive as any QB in fantasy football for as long as the health cooperates.  

-Tennessee Titans second-year wideout Corey Davis failed to catch a single pass Saturday night as the offense looks completely out sync.  This is a valid concern with a new coaching staff in place and so far we are dealing with just potential and little in the way of numbers so far for Davis.  Given what we have seen, Davis can't be depended on as much more than a WR 4.

-Taywan Taylor has become a popular sleeper receiving target this summer but he managed to snag just one pass for 9 yards while also returning kicks.  Taylor has a bit of Torre Smith in him in terms of being and all-or-nothing wideout but the ugly state of the Tennessee offense makes them risky to invest in no matter who the player is.  

-Speaking of the ugly Titans offense, QB Marcus Mariota was brutal Saturday as he completed just 5-of-8 throws for 43 yards and one pick.  Mariota was miserable last season and so far what we are seeing now is not very promising.  This means Mariota is nothing but a QB 2 in deeper leagues.  

-Lamar Jackson gave a tantalizing glimpse of his massive potential to the Baltimore Ravens coaching staff Saturday as he completed 7-of-10 throws for 98 yards and a touchdown; while also adding a second touchdown on 39 rushing yards on 3 carries.  While the Ravens are not prepared yet to unleash Jackson, it won't take long for the team to make such a move if veteran Joe Flacco struggles to begin the season.

-Despite all of the talk about the Miami Dolphins planning to use a committee at running back, Kenyan Drake continues to show the intriguing skills that put him on the fantasy football map a year ago.  Drake rushed for 32 yards on 4 carries; while adding one catch for another 36 after Frank Gore started the game.  The Miami coaching staff seems to have an infatuation with Gore which hurts Drake's overall value but in PPR formats the latter looks like a decent RB 2 upside play.


Saturday, August 25, 2018

2018 FANTASY FOOTBALL STATUS REPORT: PEYTON BARBER SET FOR BELLCOW ROLE IN TAMPA BAY BACKFIELD

After making note of the possible development over the last three weeks, we are now getting full clarity on the fact that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers backfield will almost exclusively be run by Peyton Barber to begin the 2018 fantasy football season.  Having opened eyes with decent running/receiving work the last month-plus of last season, Barber saw his possible chance to be the starter for 2018 go up in smoke when the Buc's drafted rookie Ronald Jones out of USC to conceivably be the top dog in the backfield.  Well just like we are seeing with Chris Carson in Seattle, the rookie back still has to show they have the skills to ascend to the number 1 spot and in Jones' case, he has been nothing short of a complete flop since the start of camp.  Early on reports began to trickle out how Jones was struggling badly both in catching the football and more crucially in pass protection.  Add in some unimpressive running and Jones was becoming a monster disappointment in terms of making a first impression on the team.  Meanwhile, Barber kept going out and doing his thing as an underrated performer and that included Friday night when he rushed for 34 yards and a score on just five carries.  Barber has been so solid that head coach Dirk Kotter can't stop saying that he is the team's first starter heading into the season. 

So at this point on workload alone, Barber is moving toward RB 2 status in all fantasy football leagues but for now just to be safe, we have him as a top RB 3.  Remember that Barber averaged 4.3 per carry with 12 receptions last December and so he has some PPR chops to his name,  Add in the fact that pass receiving back Charles Sims was recently put on I.R. and Barber really doesn't have a lot of competition to deal with right now.  So as I have been saying for a while now, Barber looks criminally underrated right now and those who are doing drafts this week need to be all over this. 


2018 FANTASY FOOTBALL PRESEASON WEEK 3

-Once again the curse that is the preseason reared its ugly head and this time it claimed New York Giants emerging tight end Evan Engram who suffered a concussion during the first half of the team's game versus the New York Jets.  With two weeks to go before Week 1, Engram has some time to get cleared by this is not what his fantasy football owners want to be dealing with so close to the start of the season.

-Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olsen looks to be on the comeback trail after a washout 2017 due to injury as he caught 4 balls for 44 yards Friday night.  Olsen was the model of durability prior to last season so we can give him a mulligan on the broken foot and he remains one of the best receiving tight ends in the game. 

-We had mentioned for two weeks now how Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook was going way too early in fantasy football drafts coming off last year's torn ACL and it appears the team is now going to be very cautious here.  As a result, veteran Latavius Murray got the lion's share of touches Friday as he rushed for 24 yards and a score on 10 carries; while adding 3 catches for another 32.  Murray has always been a very capable back who has had consistent RB 2 status going back to his Oakland Raiders days and so he should be pushed up a bit to begin the fantasy football season.  On the flip side, Cook got just two carries early in the game and it looks like he may even begin the season behind Murray on the depth chart.  Not the way Cook's owners anticipated this going. 

-Another issue I talked a lot about this summer was how I thought Stefon Diggs and not Adam Thielen was the most valuable Minnesota Vikings receiver to own.  Diggs had the big-play ability that Thielen does not and he showed those skills all summer which included catching four balls for 51 yards Friday night from new QB Kirk Cousins.  Cousins has lauded about how good of a rapport he has had with Diggs and so the latter could easily attain WR 1 status; with Thielen likely getting there too in PPR formats. 

-Lots of buzz about Denver Broncos wideout Emmanuel Sanders having a comeback year as he seems to have gotten quickly on the same page with new QB Case Keenum.  Sanders looked good Friday night as he caught 4 balls for 61 yards and also added a 27-yard rushing core of all things.  We have seen some nice PPR performances by Sanders in the past and he could move back up toward WR 2 status in those leagues again this season.

-Another game and another big outing from Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey Friday as he rushed for 48 yards on 12 carries; while also two catches for 12 more yards.  McCaffrey has been the single most impressive offensive player this summer in terms of fantasy football and he looks primed to be a monster RB 1 in all leagues.  This is why I obsessed about owning McCaffrey so much in the Experts League but unfortunately missed out on him by a few picks. 

-Courland Sutton would be earning so much more pop for 2018 fantasy football if he hadn't had both Sanders and Demaryuis Thomas ahead of him on the Broncos depth chart.  Still, Sutton has been terrific as he caught 3 passes for 45 yards Friday night.  Be that as it may, Sutton has little fantasy football value as long as Sanders and Thomas are in one piece. 

-Well it looks like Adrian Peterson still has some fantasy football life left in his for at least the start of one more season.  Having just been signed by the RB-needy Washington Redskins, Peterson rumbled for 56 yards on 11 carries in showing some nice burst.  In standard leagues you can try the veteran out once again. 

-Once again Seattle Seahawks running back Chris Carson knows how to open eyes in the preseason.  Having been given the starting job ahead of first-round rookie Rashaad Penny in what can only be described as an upset, Carson is showing he is up to the task as he rushed for 26 yards and a score on 7 carries; while adding 2 catches for another 20 yards.  Already having showed the ability to contrbute both as a runner and as a receiver, Carson clearly is the back to own right now in Seattle and he could be moving toward low-end RB 2 status if he can hold off Penny enough in terms of workload.

-With New York Jets head coach Todd Bowles saying he will ride the hot hand this season in terms of running back, veteran Bilal Powell looks to be the main beneficiary as he rushed for 24 yards and a score on 10 carries Friday.  Be that as it may, Isaiah Crowell was not signed to ride the bench and a split still seems likely.  Crowell also could net the goal-line work as well so don't go crazy running to pick up Powell. 

-Having been outplayed by Philip Dorsett last night, it looks like Eric Decker will not be making the New England Patriots roster this summer.  Injuries have completely derailed what was once a very promsing career and Decker catching just two balls for 12 yards Friday night shows he just doesn't have the athletic abilith he once did. 


Friday, August 24, 2018

2018 FANTASY FOOTBALL UPDATED RUNNING BACK RANKINGS

The running backs are up next as we continue to update the positions heading into the 2018 fantasy football season.

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. Christian McCaffrey
11. Dalvin Cook
12. LeSean McCoy
13. Devonta Freeman
14. Jordan Howard
15. Royce Freeman
16. Alex Collins
17. Joe Mixon
18. Kenyan Drake
19. Carlos Hyde
20. Jerrick McKinnon
21. Dion Lewis
22. Derrick Henry
23. Jay Ajayi
24. Lamar Miller
25. Mark Ingram
26. Peyton Barber
27. Chris Carson
28. C.J. Anderson
29. Rashaad Penny
30. Ronald Jones
31. Isaiah Crowell
32. Tarik Cohen
33. Tevin Coleman
34. Rex Burkhead
35. Jamaal Williams
36. Sonny Michel
37. Duke Johnson
38. Theo Riddick
39. Marshawn Lynch
40. Devontae Booker
41. Nick Chubb
42. Kerryon Johnson
43. Chris Thompson
44. Javorius Allen
44. Aaron Jones
46. Doug Martin
47. James White
48. Corey Clement
49. Gio Bernard
50. LeGarrette Blount
51. Ty Montgomery
52. Chris Ivory
53. Samaje Perine
54. Wayne Gallman
55. Bilal Powell
56. Latavius Murray

-Lots of movers and shakers here.  We begin with those who fell in the rankings which include Kenyan Drake (timeshare with Frank Gore), Jerrick McKinnon (injured), Rashaad Penney (injured), Ronald Jones (struggles), and slightly Dalvin Cook (brought along slowly, presence of Latavius Murray).  Then we have the risers such as Carlos Hyde (getting majority of work so far in preseason), Christian McCaffrey (Carolina coaching staff determined to ride him heavily, Peyton Barber (beating out Ronald Jones), Chris Carson (beating out Rashaad Penny), and Royce Freeman (best rookie by a mile so far in preseason).
-I wanted to mention Hyde who I have not been a fan of in the past but was shocked at how good he was both running and catching the football a year ago.  Many shied away this season given the fact the Cleveland Browns drafted Nick Chubb and have Duke Johnson Sr. collecting a bunch of catches but Hyde has been used heavily so far in the preseason and almost like a workhorse.  The guy has some skills and is coming at a nice discount this summer to which I took advantage in the Experts league draft.
-I am not sure how long Peyton Barber and Chris Carson are able to keep the starting gig from the rookies Ronald Jones and Rashaad Penny respectively but both guys can help across the board while they have the decent workloads early on in the season.
-While Saquon Barkley gets most of the hype, look out for Royce Freeman as a firm challenger to be the most productive rookie back.  Freeman has really taken to the pro game so far in doing good work in the preseason and he doesn't have a lot to beat out in terms of getting the lion's share of work since Devontae Booker is nothing more than average.


2018 FANTASY BASEBALL WRAPUP: THURSDAY

David Price:  8 IP 3 H 0 ER 0 BB 7 K with an ERA of 3.50.  I did say at the beginning of the season Price was a very good buy low and while the first half was extremely volatile, he has been money since the break. 

Odubel Herrera:  1/3 with his 20th HR while hitting. 266.  Herrera's power uptick went right along with arriving with his prime years so no surprise there for a guy who was always very talented.  The downside should not be overlooked though as Herrera is not running and the average has slipped.  Fallen too much in love with swinging for the fences? 

Aaron Nola:  8 IP 5 H 0 ER 1 BB 9 K with an ERA of 2.13.  This is Nola saying to Max Scherzer, "hey it's my turn to win the award."

Max Scherzer:  7 IP 2 H 2 ER 4 BB 10 K with an ERA of 2.13.  While he did lose to Nola technically, Scherzer still has one more win, the slightly lower WHIP, and a ton more K's. 

Nick Castellanos:  2/4 with his 19th HR while hitting .293.  Yeah I was looking for 30 home runs but 25 will do just fine with the swell average.

Matt Boyd:  6 IP 6 H 0 ER 1 BB 6 K with an ERA of 4.09.  Got to hand it to Boyd on his career season since he was nothing but a punching bad previously.  The thing is I personally was never going to trust him in any one start throughout this season and that will likely go into 2019 when he has to try and show 2018 was no fluke. 

Evan Longoria:  1/3 with his 14th HR while hitting .249.  Longoria has now reached the point where he is not even worth having as a backup bat. 

Todd Frazier:  1/4 with his 14th HR while hitting .233.  Frazier has done his best work over the last two weeks and I myself have used him in the Experts League to give me a push in the power department.  Do the same. 

Jacob DeGrom:  6 IP 4 H 1 ER 4 BB 10 K with an ERA of 1.71.  DeGrom was effectively wild with the 4 walks and 10 K's but again got no support.  Hopefully he will get more deserved support when it comes to the Cy Young Award. 

Madison Bumgarner:  8 IP 5 H 1 ER 0 BB 8 K with an ERA of 2.88.  Through all of the injuries and some scary bad outings the last season-plus, Mad Bum has a 2.88 ERA.  In other words he is right where he should be historically in that category. 

Hunter Renfroe:  1/4 with his 15th HR while hitting .244.  Again if you need a power boost this late in the season, you can more liberally ignore ugly batting averages like Renfroe's given the short span of games left. 

Ian Desmond:  1/4 with his 20th HR while hitting .234.  Decent overall power/speed season from Desmond but like it always seems to happen, a large segment of the fantasy baseball community focuses so much on the average that it overshadows everything else.

David Dahl:  2/3 with his 7th HR while hitting .277.  Next season the Colorado Rockies really need to give this kid a long run to see what they got here. 

Kyle Freeland:  6.1 IP 7 H 2 ER 1 BB 7 K with an ERA of 2.96.  Maybe instead of drafting idiots like Stephen Strasburg I should have just plucked this guy off waivers.  Pitching has been nothing but one big stress ball this season. 

Ender Inciarte:  2/4 with his 8th HR while hitting .252.  Sorry but I am still going to be all over this guy next season.  It has been another very good performance despite the Atlanta Braves moving him all over the lineup.

Ronald Acuna Jr.:  1/4 with his 20th HR while hitting .286.  It seems certain that Acuna Jr. will the latest mid-season debut player who will shoot right up to first or second round territory next spring.  While I usually am very leery of such a thing, not in this case. 

Sean Newcomb:  6 IP 2 H 0 ER 3 BB 8 K with an ERA of 3.57.  The mid-season dip was annoying but Newcomb has fought back nicely to engineer a nice August.  Still a bit unpolished overall but Newcomb will surely be even better in 2019. 

Javier Baez:  3/5 with his 27th HR while hitting .285.  Check out how far Baez' blast went.  Topper on what has been a spectacular overall campaign.

Anthony Rizzo:  2/2 with his 21st HR while hitting .271.  Rizzo will likely see his ADP slip next spring but that will just make him that much more of a good 1B buy since he is still flat in his prime and has been his usual self since the middle of May. 

Cole Hamels:  9 IP 8 H 1 ER 2 BB 7 K with an ERA of 0.79 in the NL.  Hamels has been a fantasy baseball ace once again after going back to the NL and it just goes to show you how stark the difference is for a hurler going from one league to the other. 

Khris Davis:  1/5 with his 39th HR while hitting .261.  You can make the case that Davis is the best pure home run hitter in all of fantasy baseball the last three seasons. 

Jed Lowrie:  1/5 with his 20th HR while hitting .273.  The average has slid of late into more general Lowrie territory but the cooperating health has helped pile up the counting numbers nicely. 


Thursday, August 23, 2018

2018 FANTASY FOOTBALL BREAKING NEWS: TYROD TAYLOR'S HEADS TO LOCKER ROOM WITH WRIST INJURY

Oh boy. The Baker Mayfield Era may already be underway as Cleveland Browns starting QB Tyrod Taylor quickly rushed off the field and into the locker room after suffering an apparent wrist injury during the first quarter of the team's game versus the Philadelphia Eagles.  Taylor knew something was wrong given how quickly he got up and removed himself from the field and Mayfield soon came out for the next drive.  This would be a real shame if Taylor was knocked out as he was playing well coming into the game and it will further fuel the chorus of those who say the preseason games are nothing but a needless risk.  Stay tuned on this but pick up Mayfield if available. 


2018 FANTASY FOOTBALL UPDATED QB RANKINGS

With Week 1 just a little more than two weeks away, here is an updated look at the 2018 fantasy football quarterback rankings heading into the season.

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

-Compared to our first dive into the QB rankings, we have moved up Andrew Luck to 13 as he is now playing in preseason games (not overly well but still out there) and so that alone gets him back to near QB 1 status.  There will surely be some pronounced rust but Luck also has shown decent arm strength and of course has some immense natural tools to work with.
-I have been asked about why I ranked Dak Prescott so low at 26 but it is for good reason.  The guy is simply not a good pure passer and is overly reliant on a strong line and run game to keep things honest.  Already the Dallas O-line is beat up with Travis Frederick down for possibly a few games and Zack Martin dealing with trouble on the health front as well.
-Alex Smith, Matt Ryan, and of course Philip Rivers all remain very good value play passers.
-Carson Wentz drops a bit due to the strong chance he won't be ready to go in Week 1 and maybe even Week 2.  The Eagles will be very cautious here as they should since they have a Super Bowl winner as a backup.


2018 FANTASY BASEBALL ISSUES: PITCHING CARNAGE EVERYWHERE

There are certain points during the course of a given fantasy baseball season that I wonder why I choose to torture myself with the whole daily exercise.  Then I quickly realize it helps to pay the bills and the game itself helped put me on the map as a notable person in the industry and allowed the business side to take off nicely.  So there is that and as they say, money talks.  Despite all the good however, there are moments like Wednesday night when things go so horribly wrong and add so much unnecessary stress that for a split second you just want to walk away from the game for good.  First let's get to the context. In The Fantasy Sports Boss Fantasy Baseball Experts League, I went into Wednesday leading by 1.5 points over a dogged second place team.  I felt I was in a good spot because I still had over 300 innings left to use while my foe was down to 160 or so.  Wednesday night seemed like a potential bonanza day to really make inroads in K's, wins, and to make a jump in ERA and WHIP since I had SIX starters going who all had solid to very attractive matchups.  That grouping included:

Lance Lynn VS. Miami
Charlie Morton VS. Seattle
Clay Buchholz VS. LAA
Kyle Gibson VS. CHI SOX
and then I had Stephen Strasburg and Zach Eflin going against each other which you would figure would give one the win.

So I sat back and began to watch Wednesday afternoon as the nightmare unfolded.  First it was Gibson who BOMBED in giving three home runs to the White Sox who have been a punching bag team all season.  I deserve what I get here because I have hated on Gibson for years and always said to avoid him.  Got suckered into the matchup and look what happened.  The guy is a dog.  Despite the rough beginning I saw Morton throwing up zeroes versus the Mariners early on so all seemed well.  That is until a freaking 9-0 lead became 9-7!!!!! in that fifth which blew his ERA for the day to 10.80 and WHIP to 1.60.  Morton backed into the win due to the Astros bats giving him such a lead but it was a pure disgrace.

Things only got worse as predictably BOTH Strasburg and Eflin bombed to the point that neither even reached the fifth inning and so neither could then win.  Once again this reaffirmed how Strasburg is simply the most overrated pitcher in fantasy baseball.  Every season he gets drafted as an ace and every season he gets injured and posts a mid-3.00 ERA despite some overwhelming K stuff.  

Finally, Lynn was sailing with four scoreless for the Yankees versus the putrid Marlins until he gagged in the fifth and sixth to throw his day away.  Luckily Buchholz dominated late which was the only thing that saved me.  Here is how the totality of the carnage looked.

Lynn:  8.44 ERA/1.88 WHIP
Morton:  10.80/1.60
Eflin:  10.80/3.60
Gibson:  7.71/2.36
Strasburg:  11.25/2.00
Buchholz:  0.00/0.57
LeClerc:  0.00/2.00

TOTALS:  7.12/1.81

It certainly looks like I was not alone in gazing at Twitter and the memes that already are coming out.  Carlos Carrasco was also bombed as well so the pitching reached a massive low on Wednesday.  It just goes to show you how the hitters are now coming back on the pitching after years of dominance from those on the hill.  I learned that lesson in a rough way to say the least yesterday.  


Wednesday, August 22, 2018

2018 FANTASY FOOTBALL ISSUES: COMMITTEE ON PAT IN MIAMI PUTS A MAJOR HURT ON KENYAN DRAKE

After being hinted at for the last few months, it appears as though there will be a strict committee at running back for the Miami Dolphins to begin the 2018 season which will be composed of upstart Kenyan Drake and veteran Frank Gore.  Dolphins head coach Adam Gase has been enamored with Gore since the ageless one came aboard during the winter and so this development does nothing but put a major hurt on the at one-time intriguing upside of Drake.  This is a real shame as Drake was very impressive both running and catching the football during the second half of last season and if he were to be given the lion's share of work in 2018, would have had the chance to realize RB 1 status at least in PPR formats.  Now that goes out the window as Drake many only be capable of RB 2 value in PPR since we think Gore will handle the goal-line work.  That means Drake may not even make it as a RB 2 in standard formats without the touchdowns and in the process, really throw cold water on the guy. 


2018 FANTASY BASEBALL CLOSING TIME: AROLDIS CHAPMAN PLACED ON DL WITH KNEE TENDINITIS

Having dealt with a knee trouble for the better part of the last month, the New York Yankees finally placed All-Star closer Aroldis Chapman on the 10-day DL with a bout of left knee tendinitis.  This just 24 hours after Chapman removed himself from a save chance Tuesday night and after complaining of soreness in the knee since right before the All-Star break.  Chapman clearly has not pitched like he is capable of during that stretch and so the time off will surely beneficial.  As far as who will take over the ninth inning, Dellin Betances looks to be the best bet since David Robertson is not 100 percent himself and Zach Britton has not thrown well since coming to the Yanks at the trade deadline.  

THE FANTASY SPORTS BOSS 2018 FANTASY FOOTBALL EXPERTS LEAGUE RESULTS

Wow where to begin.  I hinted last night on Twitter how my performance in the annual Fantasy Sports Boss Fantasy Football Experts League would go down as one of the more woeful performances put on by yours truly.  For the first time in the 12-year run of the PPR league, we did the draft online which put me a bit out of my comfort zone since 99 percent of my competitive leagues are in person.  With that said, I had the third pick and already prepared myself for David Johnson as my first pick which I was happy about.  From that point on is where the trouble began.  Let's get to it.

1.  David Johnson (RB:  I knew that Todd Gurley and Le'Veon Bell would be the top two choices and so from the beginning, I had Johnson as my guy at three.  A broken wrist last year was  fluke injury that didn't have me concerned in the least in picking him over Ezekiel Elliott, Saquon Barkley, or Kareem Hunt.  In addition, I would have taken Johnson over Bell in that the latter scares me as he holds out for the second summer in a row.  Bell struggled badly last September coming off a summer holdout but when he came back, the Steelers ran him into the ground with an insane over 400 touches.  Typically runners "bounce" of such a heavy workload and remember Bell has never been the picture of health.  So with Johnson in the fold I was focused on grabbing Christian McCaffrey in Round 2.  He was my guy if he fell to me. 

2.  Keenan Allen (WR):  This is a ten team league (always has been) so Allen falling to 18th. while surprising, was not outlandish.  McCaffrey went 15th and so I was out of luck there.  Since I didn't like Devonta Freeman as the best back left at that point, I quickly snatched up Allen.  Unfortunately Michael Thomas went the pick prior or else that was my guy.  At this point is where trouble began as I didn't expect such a heavy run on running backs both in Round 1 and Round 2 which caused me to change strategy.

3.  Aaron Rodgers (QB):  Yeah I was that guy who took the first QB off the board.  By this time the boring Jordan Howard and Doug Baldwin were the best RB and WR available.  So I took the best QB in the game but this started the process of me being behind the eight ball on running back and wide receiver believe it or not.  While it was nice to have Rodgers, maybe I should have gone Larry Fitzgerald like I instantly wished I did.

4.  Zach Ertz (TE):  Travis Kelce and Rob Gronkowski got picked right before this and so did Fitzgerald which left me going back to the well on Ertz who I owned last year but he was four round more expensive this time around.  So on paper I have a nice advantage over the rest of the league at QB and tight end but only have Keenan Allen at WR and David Johnson at RB.

5.  LeSean McCoy (RB):  The threat of suspension sent McCoy tumbling down the board to the point where I accepted the risk and dove in.  There is a chance a suspension comes down at any moment but this thing could also drag on throughout the season.  If no suspension comes, then I have two fantastic running/receiving backs but it is imperative I get a good third back.

6.  Marquise Goodwin (WR):  Say what?  Allow me to explain.  While I love Goodwin as much as any sleeper this season, I admit he is more of an 8th or 9th round guy.  What happened here was that I began to add players to the Yahoo Queue and Goodwin was the first one I added.  Immediately after I got kicked out of the draft and by the time I signed back in, Goodwin was mine.  Damn. 

7.  Jamison Crowder (WR):  At this point I am on drafting tilt as I reached for Crowder as well.  Again since this is a PPR league, both Goodwin and Crowder could easily catch 80 balls with 5 TD's each but too high for both.  What a disaster.

8.  Carlos Hyde (RB):  I like this pick in that Hyde comes off an excellent campaign in 2017 where he both ran and caught the football nicely but I agree that the backfield is crowded in Cleveland with Duke Johnson Sr. and rookie Nick Chubb around.  I think Hyde will play most of the first and second down plays however and as a third back on my team, that works. 

9.  Julian Edelman (WR):  I liked this pick too as once I get through the four-game suspension, Edelman can be a solid WR 2 given his annually high catch totals and trust from QB Tom Brady. 

10. Peyton Barber (RB):  At this point now I am stacking up running backs and receivers who have upside and Barber certainly carries that since he earned the starting nod over Ronald Jones in camp. 

11. Randall Cobb (WR):  Cobb was actually playing very well before both he and Aaron Rodgers went down with injury a year ago.  He works nicely as either an underrated WR 3 or top backup. 

12. Marlon Mack (RB):  Yeah I know Mack is hurt but took a shot in the dark with the talented but still raw second-year man. 

13. Delanie Walker (TE):  Walker always seems to slip through the cracks but in PPR he is actually a top five guy who I stole this late.  Great insurance for Zach Ertz and also trade bait. 

14. Eli Manning (QB):  Got my backup QB in Manning who I won't need if Rodgers stays upright.  With a big supporting class of top-notch offensive talent, Manning can surprise us. 

15. New England (DEF):  Stuck to my principles of drafting a defense and kicker the last two rounds.  Not a bad unit in New England to fall back on. 

16. Matt Prater (K):  Dome kickers always get a let up in my book. 

So overall not my best work.  I think the beginning and ending were good but the middle was a mess.  

2018 FANTASY BASEBALL POSTSCRIPT: YU DARVISH SP CHICAGO CUBS

It looks like we can add Yu Darvish to the growing list of top-shelf Japanese pitching talent who flamed out under a hail of injuries after just a few seasons in the States.  Having quickly grabbed the mantle of fantasy baseball ace when he arrived with the Texas Rangers back in 2012 through a power pitching approach that included some of the best strikeout ability in the game, the cracks began to show in 2015 spring training when Darvish was forced to undergo Tommy John elbow surgery.  While he did make it back in the middle of 2016 with his fastball intact and the strikeouts continuing to pile up at a very high rate (which helped overcome a more pronounced home run tendency), Darvish's health continued to betray him from that point forward.  With the home runs doing more damage to Darvish's ERA compared to prior to the surgery (3.06 in 2014 right before the Tommy John; 3.41 in 2016 and 3.86 in 2017 afterwards), what we saw last season was nothing short of a complete adomination.  Fresh off signing as a free agent with the Chicago Cubs for a massive six-years and $126 million, Darvish first hit the DL in early May with the flu and then went back in the middle of the month due to right triceps tendinitis.  Since Darvish dealt with the same bout of right triceps tendinitis prior to his Tommy John in 2015, the Cubs moved very cautiously with their new investment from that point forward.  Despite the added care the team gave him, Darvish bottomed out in August when he exited a rehab start and soon was ruled out for the remainder of the season due both a stress reaction on the tip of his right elbow and right triceps strain.  So what did the Cubs receive for all that money bestowed to Darvish in Year 1 of his new deal?  Try 8 starts, a 4.95 ERA, and 1.43 WHIP which if you removed the name brand would be a haul that would relegate any pitcher who put up this slop to be left to rot on the waiver wire.  With all that said, Darvish should be 100 percent a go for 2019 spring training but it needs to be emphasized the guy appears to be a clear shell of his former ace self both in terms of statistics and obviously health.  Diving into the numbers a bit, Darvish still has his potent fastball as we noted earlier since he averaged a very impressive 94.8 mph on the pitch in 2018.  That velocity kept Darvish as a top K/9 guy (11.03) but everywhere else there was major trouble such as in control (4.73 BB/9) and again with the home runs (1.58 HR/9).  With Darvish only tossing 40 frames last season, we can toss the walk rate and somewhat the ERA into the mulligan bin.  The home runs are another story though as this has become a pronounced issue since the Tommy John surgery and calling Wrigley Field home will certainly not help on that front.  Then we have the utter hellacious health that alone makes Darvish completely unreliable even as a buy low SP 3.  Your best bet here is to simply avoid this annual ball of stress and look for some better stability somewhere else. 

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

2018 FANTASY BASEBALL TRADE FALLOUT: CUBS TO ACQUIRE DANIEL MUPRHY AS NATS THROW IN THE TOWEL

Struggling in a recent series versus the lowly Miami Marlins looks like it finally gave Washington Nationals GM Mike Rizzo the personal green light to begin unloading players and it appears All-Star second baseman Daniel Murphy will be one of them as the Chicago Cubs are on the verge of acquiring him after winning a waiver claim.  While Murphy took his time returning to the Nats after offseason microfracture in his knee, he has gotten his average up to .300 with 6 home runs, 17 runs scored, and 29 RBI in 56 games at the age of 33.  Finishing up the final year of his original three-year deal with the Nats, Murphy still retains some of the best contact ability in the game as shown by his crazy good 8.3 K/9.  It should certainly a server as a fantasy baseball boost for Murphy going to a more offensive park in Wrigley Field for his home games.  In addition, we can safely say the Nats will go down as a colossal bust this season as a team given the expectations they carried coming out of spring training.  


2018 FANTASY BASEBALL STATUS REPORT: ZACK WHEELER SP NEW YORK METS

If you were to have been told that inconsistent and injury-plagued New York Mets starter Zack Wheeler would be one of the best pitchers in all of fantasy baseball during the second-half of the season, you would have suggested that individual take up fantasy gold or fantasy auto racing.  After all, Wheeler has been nothing but a health mess who on the rare times he was on the mound, showing horrific control and the inability to generate his 98-mph fastball into consistent strikeouts.  It seemed like there would be more of the same on that front to begin 2018 as Wheeler once again struggled to repeat his delivery and at the same time put up a string of mediocre outing to go into the All-Star Break with the following numbers:

3-6
4.44 ERA
1.34 WHIP
106 K in 107.1 IP
3.35 BB/9
8.89 K/9
0.92 HR/9

While the strikeout rate did improve in averaging nearly one per IP, the ERA and WHIP once again showed troubles that were helped along by more ugly control by Wheeler and also a propensity to give up home runs.  A funny thing happened though and that was Wheeler turning into an upper-level pitcher once the second half began.  In fact, Wheeler has been so good since the Midsummer Classic that his numbers are as good as any pitcher's during that span as you can see below:

5-0
1.38 ERA
0.85 WHIP
40 K in 39 IP
1.62 BB/9
9.23 K/9
0.23 HR/9

Right away the lack of walks jump out and just like we have seen in the excellent season being put forth by the Tampa Bay Rays' Blake Snell, improvement in walk rates for a power arm like Wheeler can quickly thrust their status from SP 5 to as high as an SP 2.  While we are not comfortable saying Wheeler has reached the heights of Snell this season, he is on his way as his strikeout rate has jumped, the home runs are down, and the walks are depressed to help the ratios move into very valuable territory.  We do have a concern about Wheeler in September given the fact he is already reaching career-high levels in innings pitched but for now you have to ride him out for as long as this fun lasts.  Then as far as next season is concerned, we can feel much more safe in drafting Wheeler as a possible firm SP 3 option. 


2018 FANTASY FOOTBALL PLAYER ANALYZER: EZEKIEL ELLIOTT RB DALLAS COWBOYS

Last summer during the height of fantasy football drafts, each and every one of us weighed the risk/reward of investing in Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott.  The backdrop, of course, was Elliott being handed a six-game suspension from the league for an alleged domestic violence incident with his girlfriend; which was quickly followed by his vow to fight to the highest courts to have it overturned.  Having seen New England Patriots QB Tom Brady successfully stall his four-game Deflategate suspension for at least one season, the temptation was there to nab Elliott at a discounted rate in 2017 drafts in the hopes the same development could occur here.  Those who ultimately took that gamble lost as Elliott was forced to serve the suspension from Weeks 10-15 which was simply awful timing and only allowed his owners to have him for championship week if they even had made it that far.  Suspension aside, Elliot's on-field production was down from his out-of-this-world rookie performance as his yards per carry average dropped from 5.1 to 4.1; while he saw a dip in rushing from 15 to 7 as well.  In addition, Elliott remains shaky in the passing game as he caught just 26 balls for 269 yards and two more touchdowns.  More and more Elliott is resembling Adrian Peterson in his prime which is an excellent place to be in terms of running totals but the receiving numbers could remain below-average.  That makes Elliott a bit more valuable in standard formats and a notch below "The Big Four" of Todd Gurley, Le'Veon Bell, David Johnson, and Kareem Hunt in PPR leagues.

2018 PROJECTION:  1,427 yards 12 TD, 34 receptions 304 yards 1 TD

Monday, August 20, 2018

2018 FANTASY FOOTBALL PLAYER ANALYZER: AARON RODGERS QB GREEN BAY PACKERS

For what seems like the millionth time, Green Bay Packers veteran Aaron Rodgers tops our fantasy football QB rankings for another year despite coming off a 2017 campaign where he missed all but 7 games due to a broken collarbone.  What kept Rodgers at the top of our list once again, however, was what was accomplished in those 7 games as he threw for a mammoth 16 touchdowns, 1,675 yards, and just 6 interceptions.  So on a per game basis, Rodgers still has no peer in the world of the fantasy football passer and he deserves to go ahead of any other passer in the draft this summer.  Now in terms of the injury possibly scaring some away from investing in Rodgers for 2018, the broken collarbone was of the fluke variety that we can chalk up to it being an unfortunate happenstance of playing football.  Making one feel even better about this premise is the fact Rodgers made all 16 starts each of the three seasons prior to knock away any injury-prone chatter.  Now Rodgers is aging a bit as he turned 35 this past December but when Drew Brees and Tom Brady are still putting up monster numbers at or near the age of 40, that concern becomes less worrisome as well.  Getting back to the skills, Rodgers is a lock for 4,100-plus yards and 30-plus TD's if he avoids injury and don't forget he also supplies the added bonus of around 200 rushing yards and a few additional scores on that front.  The Packers plan to remain a pass-first offense for 2018 and so on skill alone, Rodgers is still the top dog here.

2018 PROJECTION:  4,172 yards 34 TD 8 INT, 289 rushing yards 3 TD

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

Carbon copy of 2017?  You bet when it comes to New York Yankees outfielder Giancarlo Stanton.  Outside of just a change in locale, Stanton has almost mirrored his 2017 production with the Miami Marlins, from the very slow start in April and May to the power-hitting bonanza we are seeing on a daily basis now.  Stanton's tape measure bombs certainly have been needed as the Yankees are losing players one right after the other of late but Stanton has shown that playing in New York is not too big a chore for him as he goes into Monday's action with the following numbers:

.285
32 HR
80 RBI
80 R
5 SB
29.3 K/9
8.8 BB/9
.352 BABIP

Now it does need to be said that Stanton won't be hitting 59 home runs or go over 120 in runs and RBI this season like he did in that insane 2017 performance (which smelled like a one-in-a-lifetime haul) but crossing 100 in the latter two categories to go with around 45 home runs is still a tremendous season no matter how you slice it.  Perhaps we overanalyzed things slightly in thinking Stanton would sail to 70 home runs since he would be calling Yankee Stadium home but again the fact he gets on base so much and has the best pure power in baseball means the slugger is as good as anyone in the game in those three categories.

It is always in the average where things can get a bit shaky for Stanton given his annual struggle with strikeouts and that has been a problem again in 2018 as his K/9 has jumped up sharply to 29.3. That is up from 23.6 a year ago but Stanton is still hitting over .280 due to getting a ton of BABIP help at .352.  So it stands to reason that without that BABIP help, Stanton is back to being around a .260 hitter he has been for a large portion of his career.  That is the one things his fantasy baseball owners accept though when they make the investment. 

In the end, Giancarlo Stanton has been as advertised.  His power is insane right now and his finish can clinch many fantasy baseball leagues.  

Sunday, August 19, 2018

2018 FANTASY BASEBALL STATUS REPORT: DANIEL PONCEDELEON

If fantasy baseball value was placed on how cool a guy's name was, St. Louis Cardinals hurler Daniel Poncedeleon would be a first-round pick every spring.  While it is fun to say the kid's name, Poncedeleon has some game as well as he has logged a tidy 2.04 ERA while making one start and mostly operating out of the bullpen for the team in his 2018 debut.  Poncedeleon has been so solid that the Cards will now remove the struggling Luke Weaver from the rotation and give Poncedeleon a chance to show what he could do as a starter.  Now in terms of fantasy baseball impact, Poncedeleon had a 2.15 ERA and 10.08 K/9 rate in 92.0 IP at Triple-A this season which continue to speak to the positives here but he also has shown rough control at every stage of his development.  It also will likely take Poncedeleon a bit to stretch himself back out again and so counting on him to help your fantasy baseball rotation down the stretch is not looking like a promising option to undertake.  Then there is Weaver who has been nothing but a monstrous bust this season and reinforces the notion to never again overvalue a pitcher's half-season debut from the campaign prior.  

2018 FANTASY BASEBALL WELCOME TO THE SHOW: MICHAEL KOPECH SP CHICAGO WHITE SOX

Noah Syndergaard meet your brother from another mother.  The news that the Chicago White Sox will promote top power pitching prospect Michael Kopech to make his major league debut Tuesday is one that certainly qualifies as a "stop what your doing and run to the waiver wire" classification and as I have said numerous times in the past, the strikeout dynamo is a clone of Syndergaard in their respective games.  We are talking a ton of strikeouts here as Kopech routinely hits 100-mph with his fastball just like Thor and so going into his promotion, he has picked up an insane 170 punchouts in just 126.1 IP for a K/9 of 12.11. 60 walks in those same 126.1 IP speak to the beyond rough control Kopech has at this point but he has been much better on that front of late which likely swayed the White Sox to give him a look this week.  Long considered a top pitching prospect from the moment he can became a professional, Kopech will likely hit the ground running in piling up the strikeouts but the issues with the walks will hold him back for now in terms of yielding his optimal fantasy baseball impact.  Just like almost every single power pitching prospect to come down the pike, Kopech may not have a friendly WHIP right away but once he does start to smooth out the wrinkles, the overall stuff is so overpowering that the kid can became an ace in short order. 


2018 FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEK 2 PRESEASON WRAPUP

-Already high on everyone's fantasy football sleeper list, the hype figures to only grow for Chicago Bears tight end Trey Burton who went wild in the team's second preseason game Saturday night.  Being used in the slot for a decent amount of snaps which by itself is very fantasy football-friendly, Burton hauled in 4 passes for 45 yards and a touchdown. With fellow tight end Adam Shaheen having been carted off with an ankle injury, the tight end show looks to be all to Burton and rightfully so.  We saw glimpses of how good of a receiver Burton can be when he spelled an injured Zach Ertz with the Philadelphia Eagles a year ago and now he looks to be the number one target of QB Mitchell Trubisky which makes sense given how young passers tend to rely on the tight end.  This could be a real show.

-Speaking of the hype train getting to crazy levels, add Denver Broncos rookie running back Royce Freeman to that class.  Splitting time in the first half with fellow Broncos back Devontae Booker, Freeman rushed for 20 yards on 6 carries and scored a touchdown.  By the looks of things right now, it likely will be a setup where Freeman will handle the majority of rushing attempts, while Booker works on third down to be the primary receiving back.  That it a bit of a knock down in value for Booker in PPR formats but not too much since Kareem Hunt came out on third downs last season and look how many passes he caught.  Right now Booker is making a strong move toward the third round of drafts and count this peanut stand in thinking he deserves any hype he receives. 

-With Delanie Walker and Rishard Matthews hobbled of late, Tennessee Titans big-play wideout Tywan Taylor showed what he is capable of Thursday night in catching 4 balls for 95 yards and two touchdown.  Taylor is really putting together a big summer and looks to be moving toward WR 1 status with QB Marcus Mariota and he having gotten onto the same page.  While Chris Davis continues to get the attention given his first-round pedigree, Taylor seems to be the best bet right now to put up useful fantasy football numbers.

-While it doesn't affect him directly, Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott may be hurt by the injury of Pro Bowl guard Zack Martin who is headed for testing on his knee.  An MRI is being ordered which is very concerning and since Martin is arguably the best offensive lineman in football, his loss can only hurt the quality of running lanes seen by Elliott.

-Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Peyton Barber continues to see his value trend upwards this summer, with the latest being the knee injury suffered by pass catching back Charles Sims Saturday.  With rookie Ronald Jones struggling in all facets of the game this summer and Sims now looking at a multi-week absence, Barber is moving closer to RB 2 status on workload alone.

-The Houston Texans got a bit of a longer look at QB DeShaun Watson on Saturday and they had to look what they saw as he completed 5-of-8 throws for 73 yards with a TD pass to wideout Bruce Ellington.  So far, so good with the recovery from last season's torn ACL and so Watson is seeing his value being propped up even more in the fantasy football community.  There is no question there is a boatload of talent here but the risk remains given Watson's shaky injury past. 


Saturday, August 18, 2018

2018 FANTASY BASEBALL STATUS REPORT: MICHAEL CONFORTO OUTFIELDER NEW YORK METS

Well it was only a matter of time.  Anyone who has owned New York Mets outfielder Michael Conforto at any point so far in 2018 has a full understanding how tough times have been on that front as the team's top slugging prospect endured a hellacious first-half slump that was likely a result of coming back a bit too early from the very serious shoulder separation/surgery he had last summer.  While we all were impressed with how Conforto was able to make it back at the start of the season after initial reports were that he would be out until May, the 25-year-old was clearly off on his swing as he batted just .216 with 11 home runs and 30 RBI in the first half.  Eventually though Conforto's immense natural talent revealed itself and since the All-Star Game, he has looked like the power hitting stud he was in 2017 as he has batted .308 with 6 homers and 17 RBI.  As a result, Conforto represents a tremendous pickup at this stage of the game is his original fantasy baseball owners cut bait on him as many surely did.  So while there is surely no debating how rough the first half went, Conforto rallying the way he has of late with the bat is no shock given how good he was a year ago and that he likely had to fight through an adjustment period coming off the shoulder procedure.  Those who did stick with Conforto during the rough times are now being rewarded nicely at a time when fantasy baseball leagues are hitting the stretch run.  It is beyond time to completely dust Conforto off and insert him as a regular OF 3 the rest of the way. 


2018 FANTASY FOOTBALL PRESEASON WEEK 2 WRAPUP

-While we have dealt with reports throughout training camp regarding the high amount of turnovers committed by second-year Kansas City Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes, Friday was a good day in the team's second preseason game as the kid completed 8-of-12 throws for 138 yards with 1 TD and 1 INT.  Mahomes showed his big arm by connected on a 69-yard TD with wideout Tyreek Hill but the interception was a reminder of how we are dealing with an inexperienced QB.  Add in the fact Andy Reid will lean toward the run and Mahomes is looking a bit overrated from this peanut stand.

-The hype is really going to grow for Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey who had a monster game Friday in rushing for 92 yards and a score on 5 carries; while also adding 4 catches for another 28.  We already know McCaffrey is a monster PPR weapon given his immense receiving numbers but now it looks like head coach Ron Rivera is set to use him more heavily in the run game despite the addition of C.J. Anderson.  Yes, McCaffrey struggled running the ball as a rookie in 2017 but he got better as the season went along and the former Stanford star remains with decent upside on that front.  Right now if you can snag McCaffrey in Round 2, it looks like a swell pick.

-Atlanta Falcons rookie wideout Calvin Ridley took advantage of the fact star Julio Jones sat out to rest Friday as he caught three balls for 49 yards and a score.  Ridley looks like a decent WR 3 pick with upside given the fact Jones will be drawing a bunch of double-coverage on the other side of the field and he was a star wideout during his Alabama days.

-Fully taking advantage of the fact prized rookie Saquon Barkley was sidelined due to a hamstring strain, second-year New York Giants running back Wayne Gallman showed he should perhaps move ahead of Jonathan Stewart in the team's depth chart as he rushed for 26 yards and a score on 5 carries; while also adding 2 catches for 9 yards and another score.  It is still puzzling to this day why the Giants gave a two-year deal to the aging Stewart during the offseason as Gallman flashed very good receiving and decent running potential as a rookie a year ago.  While this is still going to be the Saquon Barkley show, Gallman is showing he is a big add if his teammate were to miss time during the regular season.

-Already one of the worst teams in the NFL on paper, the Buffalo Bills saw their QB plans go up in smoke Friday night as prospective starter A.J. McCarron suffered a broken collarbone after going 3-for-6 for 12 yards.  Finally being given the chance to start after years as a backup in Cincinnati, you have to feel for McCarron somewhat as the former Alabama star went the way of Aaron Rodgers a year ago.

On a related front, Bills rookie QB Josh Allen played well behind McCarron as he completed 9-of-13 throws for 60 yards and a score.  We all know the arm is massive here but it was nice to see Allen show decent accuracy since that is the biggest question mark here.  Nightmares of Kyle Boller pop in the head when you talk about top QB prospects from the past who had accuracy problems that completely held them back but it is now looking like a lock Allen will be under center Week 1 ready or not.

-Christian Kirk showed a good rapport with Josh Rosen Friday night as the Arizona Cardinal rookies hooked up for a TD.  Overall Kirk caught 4 balls for 49 yards and a score.  Having struggled coming into the game, it was a nice sign that maybe Kirk is getting up to NFL speed somewhat.  Be that as it may, he is not looking very fantasy football-friendly to begin the season.


Friday, August 17, 2018

2018 FANTASY BASEBALL STATUS REPORT: CLAY BUCHHOLZ SP ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS

Well this has been one buy low flier that has worked out nicely.  Such has been the case when it comes to the 2018 marriage between veteran starter Clay Buchholz and the Arizona Diamondback as both sides have been surprisingly rewarded with some terrific results to this point in the season.  The latest came Thursday night when the 34-year-old Buchholz gave up five hits and one run in a complete game victory over the San Diego Padres; while also striking out six and not walking a batter.  Left for dead after some truly hideous 2016 (4.78 ERA) and 2017 (12.27 ERA while battling injuries), Buchholz has shown that he retains some of the talent that made him such a top prospect back in his easy Boston Red Sox days.  After last nights outing, Buchholz now sits with the following numbers:

6-2
2.47 ERA
1.07 WHIP
.223 BAA
7.52 K/9
1.97 BB/9
0.99 HR/9
.258 BABIP

Since we are now past 73 innings pitched on the season, Buchholz is moving beyond the small sample size aspect to the numbers.  What Buchholz has really impressed with so far is the spotless control and that is crucial since it was always a problem for him in that area back when he was striking out a bunch of guys with the Red Sox.  Home runs remain somewhat of a red flag and a .258 BABIP is clearly on the lucky side but Buchholz is getting results on a good D-Backs team.  What is also important regarding the control is the fact that Buchholz IS showing his age with the fastball in that his average of 90.7 is a career-low and way down from even 93.3 in 2015.  So it is imperative that Buchholz remains spotless with his control to maintain the good ratios which is certainly not a given but for now, take him on a start-by-start basis given what we have seen. 


2018 FANTASY FOOTBALL PRESEASON WEEK 2 WRAPUP

NFL preseason Week 2 began Thursday night with a slate of games that of course included some key injuries that are worth looking into, as well as important performances of note.

-Green Bay Packers lumbering second-year running back Jamaal Williams had to exit the team's game versus the Pittsburgh Steelers but he said afterwards he believes he is fine.  While we never buy into a player's diagnosis, Williams was moving fine in the locker room afterward according to the team's reporters and team brass didn't make much of a fuss about it as well during the postgame press conference.  As far as Williams and his immediate fantasy football outlook, he is lucky that fellow second-year back Aaron Jones is suspended for the first two games because it wouldn't take much to supplant the former from the starter's role.  While Williams technically was the most productive back on the team in 2017, it was not saying much as he averaged a pathetic 3.6 per carry.  In other words, Williams is 3 yards and a cloud of dust while Jones has true home run ability.  Add in the pass receiving duties that will fall to Ty Montgomery and the Packers backfield looks like one of the least promising in terms of possible fantasy football impact.

-It was at least somewhat disturbing to hear that New England Patriots running back Rex Burkhead is dealing with a slight tear in his knee.  Both Burkhead and Bill Belichick downplayed the injury and said if it was a regular season game, Burkhead would have been out there Thursday night.  The fact of the matter is that Burkhead dealt with knee trouble in 2017 and he always seems to be nicked up.  It is getting to the point where Burkhead simply may not be able to withstand consistent NFL pounding and so his fantasy football outlook is that of a RB 3 to begin the season.  Keep in mind the Pats still have James White, Mike Gillislee, and Sonny Michel who should be close to contributing on or soon after Week 1.

-The Philadelphia Eagles have major QB problems right now as Nick Foles suffered a shoulder injury Thursday night and that tests were going to be needed on Friday to see if there is any structural issues going on.  This is certainly not what the Eagles want to hear from their Super Bowl MVP backup as starter Carson Wentz is still recovering from a torn ACL last November and who himself said it would be "close" in terms of being ready for Week 1.  If the Eagles are forced to go with Nate Sudfeld for Week 1, downgrade all Philly wideouts for the opener.  

-New York Jets rookie QB Sam Darnold was not great but he was not terrible in getting the start Thursday night versus the Washington Redskins.  Darnold did complete 8-of-11 throws for 62 yards but he tossed an interception and also held the football way too long in taking two sacks.  While this is not going to set back Darnold enough to remove him from the running to start in Week 1, he does need a good outing next week to solidify such a status.  

-The Redskins can't get a break when it comes to their running backs this summer.  Just a week after rookie Derrius Guice was lost for the season with a torn ACL, backup Samaje Perine was forced out after his first carry for 30 yards versus the Jets with an ankle injury.  Perine had to soon head to the locker room in obvious pain and so now we are down to Rob Kelley and Kapri Bibbs.  Kelly has shown he can be a RB 3/4 in standard leagues but the Redskins will only have pass receiver Chris Thompson in terms of PPR value.  

-Redskins QB Alex Smith completed 4-of-6 throws 48 yards in his short outing Thursday night before heading to the bench.  This was typical Smith in that he protected the football and relied on short throws.  That puts Jamison Crowder and Jordan Reed in prime position to be very good PPR weapons if they can stay on the field. 
 

Thursday, August 16, 2018

2018 FANTASY FOOTBALL DRAFT SLEEPER: CHRIS CARSON RB SEATTLE SEAHAWKS

Already the injuries are starting to pile up before a snap that even counts has been played for 2018 fantasy football.  Any injury of course at this point in the drafting season will throw the rankings at various positions into a state of flux such as what is going on with the Seattle Seahawks backfield this week.  We are referring to the broken finger and injured hand sustained by the team's 2018 first-round pick Rashaad Penny will miss the next 3-4 weeks as a result and thus also miss out on crucial development time as the kid tries to acclimate to the speed of the NFL.  The flip side to Penny's absence though centers on the fact that 2017 seventh-round pick Chris Carson will now move into the starter's chair and thus, be given the opportunity to build on what was a very intriguing performance both in preseason and in four regular season games a year ago.  Amid almost zero expectations coming into last summer, Carson ran wild as he became head coach Pete Carroll's new favorite player.  With incumbent starter Thomas Rawls quickly getting hurt, Carson rushed for 208 yards on 49 carries (4.2 per), while also adding 7 catches for another 59.  Small sample size for sure but Carson showed good speed and he has been a guy who can both run and catch the football going back to college.  Now that Carson will be getting a chance to start in place of Penny for in all likelihood Week 1, those in PPR formats should especially be interested in where this goes.  Now as far as Penny is concerned, he has a Michael Turner game in that he is a good power runner but struggles to catch the football.  Add in an upright style that could lead to injuries and Penny is not someone I was big on coming into the summer.  Carson meanwhile should be bumped up a few spots on your cheat sheets as we all know opportunity is everything in today's game. 


2018 FANTASY BASEBALL WRAPUP: WEDNESDAY

Dee Gordon:  1/5 with his second HR while hitting .277.  No the home run is not a misprint. 

Brett Anderson:  7.2 IP 5 H 0 ER 0 BB 2 K with an ERA of 3.90.  Got to hand it to the guy for lasting as long as he has and still putting up decent ratios through all those serious injuries. 

Mike Leake:  8 IP 2 H 0 ER 1 BB 6 K with an ERA of 3.90.  It wouldn't be a fantasy baseball season unless Mike Leake somehow against all odds finds his way to an ERA under 4.00.

Jose Abreu:  3/5 with his 21st HR while hitting .268.  Really the only suspense is whether Abreu can hit .290 or higher again. 

Carlos Rodon:  8 IP 5 H 3 ER 1 BB 6 K with an ERA of 2.69.  Rodon is another example of how you should never totally give up on power arms who struggle with control.  If the breakthrough does happen, they become upper-level guys overnight. 

Elias Diaz:  2/3 with his 9th HR while hitting .299.  Memories of Ryan Doumit carrying around catcher eligibility while hitting at a nice clip playing mostly elsewhere are popping into my mind. 

Jose Berrios:  3.2 IP 7 H 3 ER 2 BB 4 K with an ERA of 3.75.  Berrios is getting gassed as well. 

Anthony Rizzo:  2/4 with his 18th HR and 2 steals (6 for season) while hitting .265.  Unless he goes absolutely nuts the rest of the way, Rizzo's 2018 campaign will go down as slightly disappointing. 

Junior Guerra:  6 ER in 3.2 IP with an ERA of 3.73.  Finally the regression is doing its thing. 

Dansby Swanson:  1/3 with his 10th HR while hitting .238.  We are reaching that point now where Swanson may never get much better than he already is which of course is a very bad thing considering where he is at right now with the numbers. 

Starlin Castro:  1/4 with his 10th HR while hitting. 281.  Another nice season from Castro but he can't gain much fantasy baseball value unless he is in a packed lineup to help boost runs and RBI since he doesn't steal many bases or swat many homers.

Kevin Gausman:  6 IP 4 H 2 ER 2 BB 2 K with an ERA of 2.84 since going to Atlanta.  Cole Hamels understands the benefits of going to the NL and what it can do to your numbers almost overnight. 

Hyun-Jin Ryu:  6 IP 3 H 0 ER 0 BB 6 K with an ERA of 1.77.  Never an issue of stuff here. 

Zack Wheeler:  5 IP 3 H 1 ER 2 BB 3 K with an ERA of 3.75.  The Mets got Wheeler out early given the 10-1 score at the time with the goal to preserve innings.  Wheeler himself is in fatigue zone given how he has never thrown this many innings before but at the same time fewer pitchers are hotter right now.

Todd Frazier:  3/6 with his 12th HR and 7th SB while hitting .231.  For a minute you thought it was 2014 with Frazier all over again.

Wilmer Flores:  2/5 with his 11th HR while hitting .272.  Ride this out until Jay Bruce comes back. 

Dylan Bundy:  7 ER in 5.1 IP with an ERA of 4.99.  Been saying since the start of 2017 that Bundy was garbage.  Glad he made my point emphatically. 

Miguel Andujar:  2/4 with his 19th HR while hitting .296.  Remember when we kept talking about Gleyber Torres being the prime Rookie of the Year candidate for the Yanks?  Yeah, I don't remember either. 

Yuli Gurriel:  2/3 with his 7th HR while hitting .284.  Certainly a professional high-contact hitter with a bit of pop that slides perfectly into your UTIL or CI slot. 

Tyler White:  2/4 with 2 home runs (7 for season) while hitting .286.  Well past time you padded this guy.

Evan Gattis:  3/4 with 2 home runs (23 for season) while hitting .240. The joys of being a DH and catcher-eligible. 

Gerrit Cole:  6 IP 5 H 1 ER 0 BB 12 K with an ERA of 2.71.  "Take that Justin.  The trophy is mine."




Wednesday, August 15, 2018

2018 FANTASY BASEBALL STATUS REPORT: THE CASE FOR JOSE RAMIREZ AS MVP

When it comes to annually picking the MVP of the fantasy baseball season, it obviously completely comes down to the numbers unlike in MLB where team records tend to enter into the discussion.  While we still have a month and a half of the season to go, it is quite clear that just a handful of guys are truly worth of being the fantasy baseball MVP in 2018; with one being Cleveland Indians second baseman Jose Ramirez.  Despite a bit of a rough start in April that engendered conversation that the uptick in power he showed in 2017 may be fact have been a fluke, Ramirez has been beyond insane with his numbers across ALL FIVE standard ROTO categories this season as he goes into Wednesday's games with them looking like this:

.305
36 HR
89 RBI
84 R
27 SB
11.0 K.9
15.2 BB/9

Boy those numbers above are just ridiculous and right now Ramirez is the number 1 scorer in Yahoo fantasy baseball which is not too hard to see why.  You can begin the gushing here in the advanced world as Ramirez has uncanny contact ability for a guy who has graduated into a slugger.  An 11.0 K/9 is something you just don't see and the fact that it is paired with a just as absurd 15.2 BB/9 tells you Ramirez is in total control of the strike zone.

Then we get to the power which has been monstrous almost from the start.  It makes it completely foolish that this space and pretty much every other fantasy baseball outlet debated whether the 29 home runs Ramirez hit last season were a fluke.  Obviously he was growing into his power frame and the result is a run at not only 40 but possibly 50! homers to go with 100-plus runs and RBI and his typical .300 average.  Want more?  How about the 27 steals which already is a career-best and is currently 10 MORE than Ramirez had all of last season.  What is funny is that Ramirez had only 2 in April which might have given the indication he was not interested in running but then he exploded over the late spring and summer with 7 in June and 11 in July.  Unreal.

No matter where you look, Ramirez is dominating and he is the front-runner in my mind for 2018 fantasy baseball MVP as we could be seeing a precious 40/40 campaign underway.  While Mike Trout, J.D. Martinez, and Mookie Betts are all having tremendous seasons in their own right, Ramirez is the guy at the top of the MVP leaderboard. 


2018 FANTASY FOOTBALL INJURY WATCH: BROKEN FINGER/INJURED HAND DERAILS RASHAAD PENNY, BIG BEN SUFFERS ANOTHER CONCUSSION

-It was a rough day in the fantasy football world when it came to injuries on Tuesday and the kicker is that there were no games to blame for the key ailments that popped up.  Two in particular stood out, with the first being the news that Seattle Seahawks rookie running back Rashaad Penny will be out for "some time" according to head coach Pete Carroll due to suffering a broken finger and also an overall hand injury during Tuesday's practice.  Penny was the team's first-round pick this past April and the power runner was seen as a key member of the crowded backfield going into the season and he was also being drafted in the early rounds based on that promise.  That can all be scratched for now and so that means 2017 sensation Chris Carson becomes the main guy.  We say sensation when talking about Carson due to the fact he lit things up last preseason as a seventh-round pick and ran quite well in the four regular season games he got into behind a brutal Seahawks offensive line before suffering a gruesome leg injury.  Carson is 100 percent healthy however and he once again was opening eyes in camp to the point he was being talked about as the starter over Penny.  With Carson having pass receiving skills that Penny doesn't possess, he becomes even more attractive in PPR formats.  Myself personally was not a big fan of Penny as he reminds me of Jeremy Hill which is not a comparison you want to be attached to your name.  So for now bump Carson up your cheat sheets and do the opposite for Penny.

-The second item of the day on the injury front was the fact that 36-year-old Pittsburgh Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger went into the concussion protocol after suffering a hit to the head in Tuesday's practice.  This is a troubling development due to the fact Big Ben has had quite a few concussions in his career and he already carries a reputation of being one of the more injury-prone passers in the NFL.  As I wrote about in a separate piece a few weeks ago, Ben's health to a tremendous degree is tied into the production of wideout Antonio Brown which makes the latter somewhat of a risky first-round pick.  As someone who owned Brown when Michael Vick and Landry Jones drew starts replacing an injured Roethlisberger the last few seasons, I can tell you the results were not pretty as the ace receiver dropped down to WR 3 staus on his numbers during that stretch.  So this needs to be watched closely.