FOLLOW US ON TWITTER

LIKE THE FANTASY SPORTS BOSS ON FACEBOOOK

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

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. 


Tuesday, August 14, 2018

2018 FANTASY BASEBALL CRISIS POINT: LUIS SEVERINO SP NEW YORK YANKEES

7.96.  That is New York Yankees ace starter Luis Severino's ERA in his last five starts.  Allow that number to sink in for a bit and then you come to the realization as one of his fantasy baseball owners (as I am in one of my two competitive money leagues) that the guy is completely on fumes and betting for oxygen.  Summer (or more specifically August/September) fatigue is a real thing and it often is one of the most overlooked aspects of fantasy baseball and starting pitchers.  While we all have come to accept that young pitchers who throw hard are risky fantasy baseball investments due to their propensity to have Tommy John surgery, summer fatigue is also a part of the deal with young hurlers like Severino as well.  With young arms not conditioned fully to throw a full six-month MLB campaign, struggles in late July begin to crop up and really manifest themselves in August.  Hence what we are seeing from Severino now which is not a total shock here considering I actually said this about him in my annual draft guide:  "About the only concern we have here (and it is a legitimate one) is the big uptick in innings Severino put forth from 2016 to 2017.  We have seen many cases of young arms that buckled the following season under that increased workload and so Severino has some risk attached to his name."  That risk is now showing up in a "bounced" arm that is exhausted and are key indicator even outside of the ERA is the fact Severino is giving up a massive amount of home runs of late.  A tired arm often results in a power pitcher not being able to generate that last bit of push on the fastball and so opposing hitters get some more decent pitchers to drive.  Some of those end up being home runs which of course help blow up the ERA even more. 

So where do we go from here with Severino?  Do we bench him outright?  That is a very tough call given how he was a leading CY Young candidate as recently as mid-July and he is still missing bats 6 K in 4 IP Monday).  What we would suggest is being more careful of power-packed lineups such as Boston or Toronto given the struggle Severino has had with the home run ball of late.  All in all though, this is a reminder that only few pitchers are truly worth your full trust. 


2018 FANTASY BASEBALL CLOSING TIME: WATCH FOR KENTA MAEDA TO GET A LOOK AT CLOSER AFTER EPIC SCOTT ALEXANDER MELTDOWN

When talking about fantasy baseball closers over the years, I often refer to a ninth-inning pitcher's ability to not only have the raw stuff to secure saves amid all the pressure but equally important is to have the mental strength (or the stones if you will) to block out all the noise and get the three outs when the stakes are the highest.  There have been countless cases of guys who can throw 100-mph and become virtually unhittable in setup but then turn completely into crap when they move to ninth inning.  Case in point appears to be the Los Angeles Dodgers' Scott Alexander who became the team's closer last week when incumbent Kenley Jansen went on the DL with more heart trouble.  Going into the stint as closer Alexander had a very good 3.27 ERA.  Two appearances with saves on the line later, that ERA shot up to 3.88 as Alexander somehow gave up four earned runs in just 1 IP; with the most vile being the 3-earned run in .2 IP bomb he put forth Monday night.  So by the looks of it, Alexander clearly doesn't have the mental strength to get it done in the ninth inning and so just like that count on manager Dave Roberts looking elsewhere for his next option.  And that is where Kenta Maeda comes in.  

It was the same day Monday when Roberts made the announcement that both Maeda and Ross Stripling would move to the bullpen with Hyun-Jin Ryu and Alex Wood coming off the DL and with the rest of the Dodger's pen hurting or struggling, these two immediately move to the front of the saves line.  Maeda stands out in particular given the recent injuries of Stripling and also for the fact he has been a strikeout machine this season with 130 K in just 109 IP this season.  While Maeda has struggled of late in the rotation, his potent fastball and swing-and-miss stuff seems a natural fit for the ninth inning which means if anyone dropped him in your league, now is the time to go get him.  Of course, Maeda himself has to prove he can handle the ninth-inning himself but you always got to be out front when it comes to picking up possible saves.  


Monday, August 13, 2018

2018 FANTASY FOOTBALL STOCK WATCH

With preseason Week 1 in the books, there are some key movers and shakers when it comes to 2018 fantasy football draft stocks.

TRENDING UP

Tarik Cohen:  From the minute he was hired to coach the Chicago Bears, Matt Nagy has done nothing but gush about small but explosive second-year back Tarik Cohen.  While Jordan Howard remains the starter and the dominant pure runner, Cohen reportedly will be used all over the field as a receiver.  Cohen could even gain the very rare RB/WR eligibility for 2018 fantasy football as Nagy has also stated he would put him in regular wideouts spots if need be.  When you break it all down, Cohen is just for the PPR crowd but at this point we could be looking at him gaining as high as RB 2 classification.

Peyton Barber:  It is always nice to get an endorsement straight from the coach in terms of being the starter and that is what Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Peyton Barber head from Dirk Kotter on Monday.  Kotter was decisive in saying that Barber was his starter to begin the season and that makes sense given the brutal work rookie Ronald Jones has done in pass protection and catching the football.  With that said, Barber is just a RB 3 in all formats as Charles Sims is there to take catches away and Jones will still play.  In addition, the Jones hype should quiet immensely.  

Royce Freeman:  With Ronald Jones bombing so far in training camp, fellow rookie running back Royce Freeman is opening eyes for the Denver Broncos hierarchy.  Freeman was very good in his debut in the team's preseason opener and Devontae Booker has yet to average even 4.0 yards per carry in each of his first two NFL seasons.  I said from the beginning I liked Freeman behind only Saquon Barkley among rookie running backs and I stand by that assessment.  

Cleveland QB's:  Whether it is veteran Tyrod Taylor or rookie Baker Mayfield, the Cleveland Browns passers looked great in the preseason opener and they have quiet a collection of offensive talent at their disposal.  Whoever is under center in Week 1 absolutely has QB 2 value.  

TRENDING DOWN

Alshon Jeffery:  Having had rotator cuff surgery in his shoulder, we are now getting reports that Philadelphia Eagles big-play wideout Alshon Jeffery may begin the year on PUP which means he would miss the first six games.  For a guy who gets drafted as a WR 2 in standard formats leading up to this, Jeffery landing on PUP would be a huge negative for his fantasy football.  At the same time, it would open up looks for the newly-signed Mike Wallace and the returning Nelson Agholor.  

Sammy Watkins:  Another team and it is looking like it will be another disappointing season for Kansas City Chiefs wideout Sammy Watkins.  Already reports are circulating that Watkins is struggling to get on the same page as QB Patrick Mahomes and ESPN's Adam Schefter said on Monday that Tyreek Hill is developing a much better rapport for the kid.  By now we have should all accept that Watkins is just a WR 3 at best.  


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

What April slump?  What May struggles?  Are you really talking about Arizona Diamondbacks first baseman Paul Goldschmidt?  The same guy who just slammed two more home runs on Sunday and who has been every bit the stud first-round fantasy baseball monster he was anticipated to be.  While yes Goldy did have a very difficult first two months, he is now sitting on the following numbers?

.282
26 HR
64 RBI
73 R
4 SB
25.7 K/9
13.6 BB/9
.349 BABIP

Looking at the numbers above, the power remains very good with the 26 bombs but at the same time the 64 RBI are way behind the pace of last season when Goldy collected 120.  Blame the latter on that ugly start; as well as the .282 average which is down from the typical .300 Goldschmidt usually puts forth in that category.  What needs to be said though is that since hitting .273 in March/April and then .144 in May, Goldschmidt has hit the following since:

June:  .364
July:  .317
August:  .325

As you can see, Goldschmidt has been hitting ropes all over the field the last two-plus months so no more worries about any early decline happening here.  Where Goldy has declined though is in stolen bases where he has just 4 bags so far and doesn't seem interested in running anymore.  I talked about this in March when I noted at the age of 30 Goldschmidt may not be running much more and that seems to be the case here.  He certainly wouldn't be the first player to stop running abruptly by the time he reaches 30 and so don't depend on him being the very rare five-tool first baseman anymore.  Instead, Goldy sits firmly still in his prime years and he should be able to be a big contributor in the other four categories for another few seasons.  Yes the start of the season was ugly but Goldy has been supplying the first-round numbers since the start of June. 


Sunday, August 12, 2018

2018 FANTASY BASEBALL PROSPECT WATCH: DANNY JANSEN CATCHER TORONTO BLUE JAYS

When a catching prospect that can handle the bat gets promoted to the major leagues, it is always a "stop what your doing and take a closer look" kind of moment given the utter dearth of players who can contribute offensively in today's fantasy baseball.  Just such a player got the call on Sunday as the Toronto Blue Jays promoted Danny Jansen from the minors on Sunday with the plan on giving him a long look given the advanced age of Russell Martin.  Just 23 years old, Jansen was hitting .275 with 12 home runs in just 360 at-bats and even more impressive was the advanced numbers here as well which speak to how good a hitter the kid already is.  Consider that Jansen put up a very impressive 13.6 K/9 and an even better 12.2 BB/9.  That shows that Jansen knows how to recognize pitchers at an advanced level already and that he could be a very rare average hitter to go with the power at the major league level in due time.  Given the expected long look he is slated to receive, Jansen is worth an add everywhere. 


2018 FANTASY FOOTBALL DRAFT SLEEPER: ROYCE FREEMAN RB DENVER BRONCOS

The 2018 NFL rookie running back class was widely considered one of the deepest and most talented positions to come out of the 7-round process back in April and once the names were called out, already there was hype for some key players when it came to the upcoming fantasy football season.  Add to the fact that running backs to a man adapt the quickest to the NFL game in terms of putting up impactful numbers right away with the smallest learning curve and ADP's quickly begin to climb heading into draft season.  Then there was the fact that 2017 saw arguably the best performance ever by a rookie running back class as guys such as Christian McCaffrey, Joe Mixon, Dalvin Cook (before he got hurt), and the monster campaign put up by NFL leading rusher Kareem Hunt to further add to the hysteria. 

Now in terms of the 2018 class of rookie runners, we already know that New York Giants stud (and second overall pick) Saquon Barkley is a special talent that seems destined for a Hunt-like debut and that is why he is the rare back to instantly become a first-rounder.  Behind Barkley though we had some other intriguing names in decent spots to contribute early such as Derrius Guice in Washington, Kerryon Johnson in Detroit, Kalen Ballage in Miami, Royce Freeman in Denver, and Ronald Jones in Tampa Bay.  Unfortunately we can already scratch Guice from this list due to the torn ACL he suffered in the team's preseason opener but the others all will and should get drafted for fantasy football purposes this summer. 

That brings us to Freeman who is the subject of this post and he should get a bunch of extra looks now that he comes off a very good debut Saturday night when he rushed for 38 yards and a score on only 4 carries in a run-heavy scheme for the team.  Of course the Denver coaching staff have said that Freeman will sit behind Devontae Booker as the starter but more outings like this will change that quickly and especially for the fact that Booker averaged just 3.5 and 3.8 yards per carry in his first two NFL seasons.  Thus, it shouldn't take much for the massively productive in college Freeman to overtake Booker and he may even be able to carve out a three-down role given the fact he was also a very good pass catcher in college at Oregon. 

I have said repeatedly this summer that outside of Saquon Barkley, Royce Freeman was the rookie running back I liked the best in terms of immediate fantasy football impact and so he should only be moved up even more after this solid performance.  

Saturday, August 11, 2018

2018 FANTASY FOOTBALL TIGHT ENDS I WILL AVOID

Finishing up with the core four positions in fantasy football, here are the tight ends I will in all likelihood not own this season for one reason or another.

Rob Gronkowski:  While no one doubts the amazing ability, Gronk has been a staple on my "Do Not Draft" lists given his complete inability to play a full season or sometimes even half of one.  Last season it was two missed games which followed 8 in 2016 and so on.  Considering the price never seems to come down here, I will sitting out the Gronk Sweepstakes yet again.

Evan Engram:  Many would probably be surprised to see Engram here after he caught 64 balls as a rookie but allow me to explain.  Engram found himself in a perfect offensive setup a year ago when literally every wideout on the Giants got injured and he was the only one left to catch targets from QB Eli Manning.  That is no more as Odell Beckham Jr. and Sterling Shepard are now healthy and they are also being joined by dynamic running back Saquon Barkley who is also a very good pass receiver.  The second part of this is the fact that since Engram was so good as a rookie, his draft price will soar in 2018 which is something I am not too keen on.  Combine the two factors together and I will likely not have Engram shares.  

Eric Ebron:  A healthy Andrew Luck could certainly give Ebron a boost but Jack Doyle remains and is coming off an 80-catch season.  No thank you.

Tyler Eifert:  Amazingly, Rob Gronkowski can't hold a feather to Tyler Eifert when it comes to getting hurt.  Eifert has been a complete joke physically and already there are whispers he may miss Week 1 in 2018 as well.  

Cameron Brate/O.J. Howard:  Both guys have very good ability but I hate trying to figure out which guy will be the better receiver on a team with two capable tight ends and also both will siphon looks from each other.  

Austin Hooper:  So far Hooper has been nothing special with the Atlanta Falcons and I don't see that changing this season considering how many balls he dropped in 2017.  


2018 FANTASY FOOTBALL PRESEASON WEEK 1 WRAPUP: SAM DARNOLD LOOKS TO BE REAL DEAL

-You can already hear and see this one coming.  Only one game into the New York Jets' preseason slate and the chorus is becoming defeaning when it comes to rookie quarterback Sam Darnold.  While Darnold did himself no favors by holding out for the first few days of training camp, he has gotten up to speed quickly and showed off the accuracy and impressive arm that made him arguably the top passer in the 2018 NFL Draft.  Now Darnold has his sights set on the starting job for Week 1 and his performance Friday night certainly makes it seem like he may be ready for such an assignment as he completed 13-of-18 throws for 96 yards with 1 TD; while also adding 8 rushing yards on the ground.  The plan has been publicly stated by head coach Todd Bowles that veteran Josh McCown (who has very good himself a year ago) would start Week 1 but we all know how quickly things can change.  Now in terms of fantasy football, Darnold has little value as we speak but that could change down the road given the pedigree here.  At the very least, preseason Game 2 looks to be all the more important to check out. 

-What is interesting about the Jets' QB situation is that they also seem to have a decent trade chip in Teddy Bridgewater.  By now we all know the story of how it took Bridgewater two seasons to come back from what was a gut-wrenching knee injury and that is how the Jets were able to snag him on just a one-year deal this past winter.  Well, Bridgewater looks to be back to his old accurate self as he completed 7-of-8 throws for 85 yards and a score Thursday.  Right now you have to think the Jets are getting calls on Bridgewater and they will likely be top team to call when a starter gets injured during the regular season.  Like he was before the knee injury, Bridgewater only has minimal fantasy football value due to his lack of arm strength but this is still a story to keep tabs on. 

-The Jets wound up going with Bilal Powell and not Isaiah Crowell to begin the game Thursday night which was a mild surprise and the latter quickly exited with a head injury.  Powell was ineffective in rushing for just 5 yards on 6 carries with one catch for another 7 but he has always had some upside in PPR formats due to his ability to catch the football.  Either way, it looks like Powell and Crowell are headed for a strict timeshare which means both are just RB 3's in fantasy football this season. 


Friday, August 10, 2018

2018 FANTASY FOOTBALL BREAKING NEWS: TORN ACL FINISHES DERRIUS GUICE FOR 2018

Unbelievable.  Updating an earlier item, a subsequent MRI conducted on Washington Redskins rookie running back Derrius Guice revealed he suffered a torn ACL in his knee during the team's preseason opening Thursday night and he will now miss the entire 2018 season.  Even the most ardent Redskins haters have to feel for Guice as it is simply brutal to go down in your first professional action and then have to miss the rest of the year.  Having possessed some intriguing fantasy football upside in what was looking like a prime opportunity on a running back-needy team, Guice will now leave it up to second-year man Samaje Perine and Chris Thompson to fill the void.

As far as Perine is concerned, he was terrible when given the chance to play as a rookie but he will likely be the first and second down guy and then ceded third down to pass-catching dynamo Chris Thompson.  Thompson's fantasy football value is the most prominent of who is left in the Redskins backfield but either way this looks like one big mess. 


2018 FANTASY FOOTBALL INJURY FALLOUT: GEORGE KITTLE COULD MISS OPENER DUE TO SHOULDER INJURY

While San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan refused to go into details, he did say on Friday that tight end George Kittle would "miss some time" due to the shoulder injury he suffered early in Thursday night's preseason opener for the team.  No stranger to injury going back to his college days, Kittle is in jeopardy of missing Week 1 according to Shanahan's tone and that removes a crucial and rare fantasy football value play with upside.  That will make the market for tight end pass-catchers all the more competitive without Kittle and so this is not a good thing for all involved. 

Meanwhile, the 49ers also saw backup running back Matt Breida suffer his own shoulder injury as Shanahan fell back on his "will miss some time" theme here.  The fact that Breida himself could miss some sizable time secures even more potential for popular summer running back sleeper Jerrick McKinnon.  

2018 FANTASY BASEBALL CLOSING TIME: KENLEY JANSEN TO MISS A MONTH WITH IRREGULAR HEARTBEAT

Having already subjected his fantasy baseball owners to a truly hideous April performance, Los Angeles Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen will now add more angst on that front as he will miss the next month due to complications from an irregular heartbeat.  Jansen has dealt with heart trouble for the better part of the last three seasons and he was rushed to the hospital the other day with the most recent flareup.  Clearly this is an issue that goes beyond baseball so the Dodgers are correctly being very cautious here.  As far as who will replace Jansen in the ninth inning, look toward Scott Alexander who picked up a save Thursday in tossing a scoreless frame.  As far as Alexander is concerned, he is not your classic looking closer in that he has just 45 K in 52.1 IP and his 3.27 ERA and 1.26 WHIP are on the high end for a ninth inning guy.  However with that said, the saves chance goes on as we head toward the stretch of the fantasy baseball season and the Dodgers will absolutely be giving Alexander plenty of chances.  Make the add quickly. 


2018 FANTASY BASEBALL WRAPUP: THURSDAY

Nick Markakis:  2/4 with his 14th HR while hitting .323.  I really can't think of many players of recent memory whose two best seasons came more than 10 years apart like this guy.

Ronald Acuna Jr.:  1/4 with his 13th HR while hitting .264.  Acuna is hitting everything with authority right now and the leadoff spot is just more icing on the fantasy baseball cake.

Gio Gonzalez:  7 IP 6 H 1 ER 1 BB 3 K with an ERA of 3.89.  I mean the WHIP is 1.48 here but yet Gio keeps dodging the BABIP curve.

Yonder Alonso:  1/4 with his 20th HR while hitting .247.  Alonso can serve as a decent UTIL or CI bat going into next season given that he has proven the power uptick of a year ago but honestly few players are less exciting.

Jose Berrios:  4 IP 4 H 4 ER 6 BB 5 K with an ERA of 3.66.  The fatigue alarms always go off around now when you see a young pitcher start walking everyone in August.  This is why you always got to think about selling high on young power arms in their first full MLB campaigns during that month.  It usually ends in ugly fashion.

Eric Hosmer:  0/5 while hitting .250.  All that money for this.

Hunter Renfroe:  2/4 with his 12th HR while hitting .250.  Hunter Renfroe woke up in the morning so that meant he was going to hit a home run.

Franmil Reyes:  3/5 with his 9th HR while hitting .269.  Lots of tools here and the average is not in the gutter right now either.

Jurickson Profar:  2/4 with his 13th HR while hitting .255.  Well this is certainly becoming a nice little story.

Giancarlo Stanton:  1/4 with his 28th HR while hitting .279.  Stanton is going all Hunter Renfroe right now.  Or it is the other way around?

Miguel Andujar:  2/4 with his 16th HR while hitting .292.  If I don't have Eugenio Suarez at third base for me next season, then I want this guy.

Neil Walker:  2/4 with 2 home runs (6 for season) while hitting .226.  Walker has swung it quite well over the last three weeks for those in very deep leagues.

J.A. Happ:  6 IP 4 H 3 ER 1 BB 9 K with an ERA of 4.07.  Amazing how this guy thrives in the AL East like no one I have seen before in terms of not possessing upper-level stuff.

Mookie Betts:  4/4 with his 27th HR while hitting .347.  The numbers speak for themselves.

J.D. Martinez:  1/4 with his 35th HR while hitting .331.  I mean for real though.  The Boston lineup is just unfair.

Teoscar Hernandez:  1/4 with his 18th HR while hitting .246.  Maybe there is another level to reach here when 2019 arrives but for now Hernandez is on that OF 3/bench bat margin.

Rick Porcello:  7 ER in 4 IP with an ERA of 4.17.  I have said that Porcello is a 4.15 ERA pitcher and nothing more.  After dominating the Yankees last time out, this is the mean at work.

Jean Segura:  3/5 with his 9th HR while hitting .308.  Probably the most unheralded member of the this emerging Seattle Mariners team this season.

Mitch Haniger:  4/5 with his 19th HR while hitting .271.  Moving Haniger to leadoff seems to have gotten the bat out of the deep freeze.  The guy always starts out on fire but seems to not like the summer.

Tyler White:  2/4 with his 5th HR while hitting .281.  I already told you to add White.  I can't do it for you.

Justin Verlander:  6 ER in 2 IP with an ERA of 2.50.  Verlander acted like a baby in this one.  Got shelled and then got tossed when he couldn't control his frustration.

Cody Bellinger:  2/5 with his 19th HR and 8th SB while hitting .246.  Bellinger has the rest of the season to mute a bit the consensus narrative that he was a sizable fantasy baseball bust this season considering the spring cost.

Max Muncy:  1/1 with his 25th HR while hitting .255.  Seeing Muncy dropped in a lot of leagues of late as the glass slipper seems to be wearing off.

Brian Dozier:  1/5 with his 19th HR while hitting .229.  Same old ugly 2015 Dozier.

Joc Pederson:  1/2 with his 18th HR while hitting .258.  The Dodgers need to stick with Pederson on a daily basis so that we can confirm for sure his uptick in overall hitting this season is legit.

Chris Taylor:  1/3 with his 13th HR while hitting .254.  Taylor continues to bounce all over the lineup as his shaky season has left the Dodgers impatient on what to do with him.

Andrew Suarez:  3 ER in 5 IP with an ERA of 4.64.  Said from the beginning this guy was simply not worth any time or effort.


2018 FANTASY FOOTBALL PRESEASON WEEK 1 WRAPUP

NFL Preseason Week 1 is underway as there was a big slate of games Thursday night to whet the appetite for those in the fantasy football community.  Since most starters don't play outside of the first drive or two, Preseason Game Week 1 is usually all about the hot shot rookies as we saw below:

-Boy is the hype only going to get more out of control for New York Giants rookie running back Saquon Barkley.  Already going in the first round of early fantasy football drafts, Barkley was electric right out of the gate Thursday as picked up 39 yards on his first carry and finished with 4 for 43 overall.  While Jonathan Stewart is hanging around to possible snipe some goal-line scores, this is going to the Barkley Show as he is set to light things up both in the run and receiving game.  

-As excellent an outing as Barkley had Thursday, the polar opposite happened with Washington Redskins rookie back Derrius Guice exited his first NFL action with a knee injury.  Guice was seen with ice packs on the knee which is not a great sign but he also remained on the sidelined which suggest maybe it was not such a big deal.  An MRI will be conducted though which could certainly change the storyline here.  As far as Guice the player, he was widely considered the second-best running back in the draft but he fell due to some off-the-field concerns.  With Chris Thompson serving as an excellent receiving back. Guice looks to be rally for those in the standard league crowd.

-So far so good for Cleveland Browns rookie QB and number 1 overall pick Baker Mayfield who came in off the bench and looked quite good in completing 11-of-20 throws for 212 yards and 2 scores.  Now granted Mayfield was facing the Giants' second-string D but he was poised and decisive with his throws and the ball was on the numbers.  The plan is for Tyrod Taylor to be the Week 1 starter but he is being viewed as only a placeholder.  For now don't draft Mayfield unless you are in a two-QB format but the upside is obvious.  

-The Houston Texans only allowed recovering QB DeShaun Watson to take part in one series in their preseason opener, with it being a four-yard completion to Bruce Ellington.  Watson seems set to be ready for Week 1 as he comes back from his second ACL tear in his knee but he will likely be babied leading up to it.  The hype is really a bit much here considering the injury problems Watson has had and he is sure to regress from the 9-plus TD percentage in his short but magical run as the starter last season.  Be careful how much you are willing to pay.

-The Cincinnati Bengals took a long look at second-year wideout John Ross who completely washed out due to injuries in 2017.  Ross only caught one pass for 20 yards but he has some upside play as a WR 5 to begin the season given the immense speed.  

-One of my favorite sleepers for 2018 fantasy football is San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle but he left the team's Thursday game with a shoulder injury that will be evaluated again on Friday.  I already did a piece on Kittle a few weeks ago talking about his receiving upside and it is clear QB Jimmy Garoppolo loves looking his way.  More importantly, we really can't have injuries to the few decent tight end receiving options this early in the preseason since it will further dilute an already weak position.  

-The Indianapolis Colts dealt with a lot of injuries Thursday night but luckily none involved QB Andrew Luck.  First it was starting running back Marlon Mack who exited quickly with a dreaded hamstring injury and then it was sixth-round rookie WR Deon Cain who came out after hurting his knee.  The Mack injury is the much bigger potential story in terms of fantasy football due to the fact he had the inside track to being the starter and serving as a decent upside play as a back who can run and catch.  Mack did flash as a rookie with a bunch of big runs as year ago but also struggled getting out of the backfield consistently as well.  We all know hamstring injuries tend to linger so this one that needs to be watched closely.  


Thursday, August 9, 2018

2018 FANTASY FOOTBALL TIGHT ENDS I WILL TARGET

For those who are new to the site, I have always historically made it a point to treat the tight end position in fantasy football the same way I do catcher and that is to look for value in the middle to late rounds.  Last season that brought me to the Philadelphia Eagles' Zach Ertz who I drafted in the middle round range as the fantasy football community became a bit bored by his inconsistency.  Well Ertz came through in a huge way in becoming a safety valve for QB Carson Wentz and so once again I will eschew the top choices (which include Ertz) to look for another value that will take off in 2018. 

Delanie Walker:  Like Zach Ertz last summer, Walker is being treated as a boring fantasy football option at tight end and thus looks like a swell value.  Yes Walker is getting up there in age as he is now 34 but he has caught 94, 65, and 74 balls the last three seasons and should actually see an uptick from the latter number now that the Tennessee Titans overhauled the coaching staff.

Kyle Rudolph:  While Rudolph's overall catch numbers have left a lot to be desired over the years, there is no doubt that he is one of the best TD producers at the position in the game.  Case in point:  Rudolph has caught a total of 23 touchdowns over the last three seasons combined and now gets a boost at QB with Kirk Cousins heading to town.

Jordan Reed:  In the past I have refused to pay the freight on the very talented Reed due to his unending injuries but his fantasy football draft price has dropped so low that now he can be a massive value if he can even eek out just 13 games.  That being said, you can also use your very last pick on Vernon Davis to handcuff to Reed as the former has been very good in his place. 

Trey Burton:  The hype is getting a bit out of hand here which makes this a shaky pick given the price but Burton no doubt has the hands and athletic ability to be a very good breakout candidate this season in the pass catching-friendly offense of new OC Matt Nagy. 

George Kittle:  If the Trey Burton price goes way too high, look to this emerging talent as an alternative.  With QB Jimmy Garoppolo looking like a star, count on him looking toward Kittle as his main safety valve. 

Mike Gesicki:  Historically speaking, rookie tight ends are bad bets in fantasy football but all reports seem to hint that this Penn State rookie will be a major weapon of QB Ryan Tannehill.  Gesicki lit up the combine with massive athleticism and so he could be the rare rookie at the position to bust out. 


2018 FANTASY BASEBALL WRAPUP: WEDNESDAY

Jacob DeGrom:  6 IP 4 H 01 ER 1 BB 10 K with an ERA of 1.77.  DeGrom got the win!!!  It is a Met Miracle!!  Also now up to an obscene 183 K in just 152.1 IP. 

Mike Zunino:  2/3 with 2 home runs (16 for season) while hitting .210.  We have reached the late point of the season where adding guys with hot bats no matter how bad their average pedigrees are is the way to go.  Here you go. 

Joey Gallo:  3/5 with 2 home runs (31 for season) while hitting .202.  See above.

Marco Gonzales:  7 ER in 5 IP with an ERA of 3.79.  As someone who has been riding the unexpected hot streak of Gonzales since May, I knew this was bound to happen at some point. 

David Dahl:  1/4 with his 5th HR while hitting .282.  The Rockies really need to put CarGo on ice and play Dahl everyday to see what they really have here.

Vince Velasquez:  4 ER in 4 IP with an ERA of 3.98.  There is no doubt we have seen positive growth here from Velasquez this season and this coming from a critic who felt he belonged as a closer. 

Patrick Corbin:  7.1 IP 4 H 0 Er 0 BB 9 K with an ERA of 3.15.  Corbin went through a dip early in the season a la Sean Newcomb but obviously has pulled out of it the last month or so with very impressive results.  Right now Corbin is setting himself up nicely for free agency.

Justin Upton:  1/4 with his 23rd HR while hitting .255.  Who thinks like I do that Upton will finish with 32 home runs and the same average he is carrying around today?

Kole Calhoun:  2/4 with his 15th HR while hitting .214.  Few have been hotter with the power over the last three weeks than Calhoun for what it's worth.  Which in this case is a temporary OF 3.

Albert Pujols:  1/4 with his 18th HR while hitting .253.  Go back and look at Pujols' numbers from the first ten years of his career.  Simply ridiculous. 

Ronald Acuna Jr.:  2/5 with his 12th HR and 7th SB while hitting .264.  This kid is going to hang some silly fantasy baseball numbers in his near future.

Charlie Culberson:  2/4 with his 8th HR while hitting .283.  Culberson came out of moth balls to hit three home runs in the last week.  NL-only participants do your thing. 

Bryce Harper:  1/4 with his 28th HR while hitting .234.  Harper is fooling himself if he thinks he is getting $300 million in free agency.

Mike Foltynewicz:  5.2 IP 6 H 1 ER 2 BB 7 K with an ERA of 2.98.  Other than not being able to give his starts length, Folty has been as good as any breakout arm in fantasy baseball this season.

Rafael Devers:  2/4 with his 16th HR while hitting .248.  Welcome back.  As if the Red Sox needed any more power.

Teoscar Hernandez:  1/4 with his 17th HR while hitting .246.  Hernandez has been the rare rookie who is already very boring to talk about. 

Miguel Sano:  2/4 with his 8th HR while hitting .217.  Man this guy is so overrated.

Francisco Lindor:  2/5 with his 29th HR while hitting .297.  Walk-off bomb for Lindor who is having an insane season all the way around to the point that he is a legit challenger to the Red Sox bombers for fantasy baseball MVP.

Matt Carpenter:  1/4 with his 31st HR while hitting .281.  There are no words anymore. 

Yadier Molina:  2/4 with his 15th HR while hitting .285.  Still going strong.

Tim Beckham:  1/3 with his 6th HR while hitting .234.  The lack of contact skills and average help have always held Beckham back and that has not changed moving into a prime hitting ballpark in Baltimore. 

Adam Jones:  1/4 with his 12th HR while hitting .281.  Jones' power is really dropping off this season and it is now to the point where he is barely qualifying as an OF 3 now.  The end is coming swiftly here.

Mark Trumbo:  2/4 with his 16th HR while hitting .265.  Trumbo is like the hitting version of Mike Fiers.  He goes into hiding for awhile but then suddenly emerges to be a major fantasy baseball help during a crucial portion of the season.

Giancarlo Stanton:  1/4 with his 27th HR while hitting .279.  Look out because Stanton is really going to nuclear.

Aaron Hicks:  1/4 with his 19th HR while hitting .248.  Hicks has lost some plate discipline this season which is why the average has taken a bit of a hit but otherwise he has continued to gain power as he reaches his prime.

Tim Anderson:  1/4 with his 15th HR while hitting .240.  The most valuable .240 hitter in fantasy baseball this season.

Luis Severino:  7 IP 7 H 3 ER 0 BB 8 K with a ERA of 3.11.  Big comeback start for Severino who was doing a Jon Lester second-half fade impersonation of late.  Still leery of the fatigue but at least for the next few days his fantasy baseball owners can rest a bit more easy. 

Hunter Renfroe:  2/4 with his 11th HR while hitting .246.  Kudos to those who picked up Renfroe last week as he has hit a home run pretty much in every game since. 

Christian Yelich:  1/5 with his 18th HR while hitting .322.  The first half was a bit annoying as Yelich still looked like his Miami Marlins self but since the start of July he has been the monster we all thought he would be moving to Milwaukee. 

Travis Shaw:  2/3 with his 23rd HR while hitting .249.  Maybe 2017 was a bit of an outlier. 

Eric Thames:  1/4 with his 16th HR while hitting .235.  Outside of April of 2017, Thames quickly became a boring veteran.

Jesus Aguilar:  2/4 with his 28th HR while hitting .276.  Aguilar has really opened up some daylight on the rest of the field for being the prime fantasy baseball value bat of the season.

Yasmani Grandal:  1/3 with his 20th HR while hitting .256.  Solid as a rock at the continuously volatile catcher spot. 




Wednesday, August 8, 2018

2018 FANTASY BASEBALL CLOSING TIME: KELVIN HERRERA PLACED ON DL, NATS NOW DOWN TO THIRD-STRING CLOSER

In a season that has been pretty much everything go wrong, the Washington Nationals placed their second closer on the DL in the last month on Wednesday and this time it was Kelvin Herrera as a result of the shoulder injury he suffered in his appearance Tuesday night.  With primary All-Star stopper Sean Doolittle already on the DL, the Nats are now forced to go with the inconsistent Ryan Madson who sports an ugly 4.32 ERA and at the age of 37 has seen his K/9 rate drop sharply from 10.22 in 2017 all the way down to 8.42 this season.  Surely the Nats would love to have Brandon Kintzler right now but the traded him last week given reports that he was leaking clubhouse chatter to the media.  So as it stands now, Madson is a must add given the fact every save is crucial at this late stage of the fantasy baseball season but strap in because it could be a bumpy ride.  As far as Herrera himself is concerned, he reportedly will be out until September. 


2018 FANTASY FOOTBALL WIDE RECEIVERS I WILL AVOID

While I already shared with your the 2018 fantasy football wide receivers I will target in summer drafts, here are those I will take a pass on.

Mike Evans:  As someone who owned Evans in his very frustrating 2017 campaign, I will certainly take a pass this time around.  While the ability is not in question, Evans now will face the first three games of the season without QB Jameis Winston which will cut down on his big plays and the elevation of the impressive Chris Godwin is also a major threat to his catches.

T.Y. Hilton:  Yes, Andrew Luck is slinging it again but the threat of re-injury or limited strength in his shoulder could send Hilton's numbers crashing to the ground again in 2018.  Add in his always hot-and-cold weekly numbers and Hilton is just too volatile for my taste.

Tyreek Hill:  Always a threat to get injured given his smallish frame, Hill now has a first-year QB in Patrick Mahomes slinging it and he also has to deal with a bunch of competition for catches with the newly-arrived Sammy Watkins and tight end Travis Kelce.

Josh Gordon:  Already missing time for some sort of personal issue, Gordon is one big red flag best to be avoided.

Jarvis Landry:  I spoke yesterday about the potential difficulties Landry will face in his first go-round with the Cleveland Browns and so I won't be looking here in drafts this summer.

Sammy Watkins:  Tired of chasing the annual potential Watkins brings to the table and then subsequently fails to fulfill.

Robby Anderson:  Like with T.Y. Hilton, Anderson is too hit-or-miss for you to depend on.

Sterling Shepard:  I was very disappointed how Shepard failed to come through as the top receiver on the New York Giants last season when everyone else around him fell by the wayside.  That speaks to perhaps having an inability to be such a player.


2018 FANTASY BASEBALL WRAPUP: TUESDAY

Bryce Harper:  2/5 with his 27th HR in Game 1 while hitting .234.  At least he is not hitting .215 anymore.  Seriously though, it is always something with this guy every year that makes using a first-round pick on him seem foolish in hindsight.

Ryan Zimmerman:  3/5 with his 7th HR in Game 1 while hitting .253.  Even the most inexperienced fantasy baseball player saw 2017 as one big outlier never to be repeated again.

Tyler White:  2/4 with his 4th HR while hitting .267.  White is capable of doing a Chris Shelton (go nuts in one month and then vanish for years) in the middle of the injury-ravaged Houston lineup so I would check him out.

Dallas Keuchel:  6 IP 3 H 1 ER 2 BB 5 K with an ERA of 3.53.  Keuchel has steadily righted the ship since June but it is almost comical how this former Cy Young Award winner is still not anywhere near the statistical ballpark as the three rotation mates surrounding him.

Madison Bumgarner:  7 IP 5 H 0 ER 3 BB 7 K with an ERA of 2.69.  We all seem to want to worry about Bumgarner in thinking he is past his Cy Young/ace era due to all those serious recent injuries but it certainly doesn't look like it.

Juan Soto:  1/4 with his 14th HR in Game 2 while hitting .315.  The fact that there has been virtually no letup with this kid since his promotion leads me to believe Soto is beyond the real deal and already is knocking on OF 1 classification.

Sean Newcomb:  6 IP 5 H 1 ER 2 BB 6 K with an ERA of 3.15.  I said correctly a few weeks ago that Newcomb was going through some sort of dead arm period when he put those string of nasty outings together but he has clearly pulled out of it with excellent work his last few times out.  With that said, now would be a good time to sell given that September is almost always a rough month for young power arms such as this.

Max Scherzer:  7 IP 4 H 1 ER 1 BB 6 K with an ERA of 2.28.  Still want to argue with me that Scherzer is not the better pitcher than Clayton Kershaw?

J.D. Martinez:  3/5 with his 34th HR while hitting .328.  MVP here we come.

Mitch Moreland:  1/4 with his 14th HR while hitting .264.  Amazing how this guy always finds his way to 20 home runs with nobody giving a rat's behind in the fantasy baseball community.

Justin Smoak:  2/4 with his 19th HR while hitting .255.  Same old non-2017 Justin Smoak.

Kevin Pillar:  1/5 with his 9th HR while hitting .248.  Pillar always seems to hint at some tremendous five-category ability but he just never gets there.

Marcus Stroman:  7 IP 2 H 0 ER 3 BB 4 K with an ERA of 5.20.  Taming the Boston lineup in dominant fashion like Stroman did deserves extra praise but a blister knocked him out early.  The word is that Stroman will be good to go his next time out but the bigger story is that he seems to have once again realized he has five pitches to confuse hitters.

Mitch Garver:  1/4 with his 6th HR while hitting .259.  A catcher who can handle the bat even a little?  Yes, please.

Francisco Lindor:  2/5 with his 28th HR while hitting .296.  28 home runs at shortstop.  Allow that to sink in for a moment.

Adalberto Mejia:  5 IP 1 H 0 ER 1 BB 3 K with an ERA of 2.01.  Mejia suffered a wrist strain that will likely send him to the DL but prior to, he was really looking like a nice mid-season add.

Matt Carpenter:  1/4 with his 30th HR while hitting .282.  Carpenter still holding off Lindor for most homers out of the leadoff spot this season.

Paul DeJong:  2/4 with his 10th HR while hitting .244.  Said to avoid this 2017 fluke this past spring and look where we are at all in the way in August.

Miles Mikolas:  7 IP 5 H 2 ER 0 BB 1 K with an ERA of 2.74.  The excellent in 2018 Mikolas proved in this one that you don't even need to strike hardly anyone out to dominate the sad Miami Marlins.

Nelson Cruz:  1/3 with his 30th HR while hitting .270.  Cruz looks to be going the way of David Ortiz in terms of hitting for massive power up until whenever he retires.

Kyle Seager:  1/4 with his 19th HR while hitting .231.  I really want to love Seager again but he fell too in love with swinging for the fences. 

Rougned Odor:  2/5 with his 14th HR while hitting .271.  Listen it was never a question of talent here as Odor has arguably the most potent skills at second base in all of baseball.  What has really turned here is the fact that Odor is now getting some BABIP love at .325 (way up from a very unlucky .224 a year ago) and the walks are up substantially.  That's all it takes sometimes.

Jurickson Profar:  1/4 with his 12th HR while hitting .253.  While the average has been an issue, Profar is showing the power/speed skills that made him the top prospect in the game a few years ago.  At the very least, he is a top backup in fantasy baseball considering that ability and eligibility everywhere.

Felix Hernandez:  7 ER in 6 IP with an ERA of 5.73.  Hate to say it but the end seems near already.  That's what happens when you throw so many innings at such a young age.

Giancarlo Stanton:  2/6 with his 26th HR while hitting .279.  The fact that Stanton is hitting almost .280 after that rough start speaks to how good he has been since June. 

Miguel Andujar:  3/5 with his 15th HR while hitting .292.  Andujar seems like a future DH to me but no matter where he goes, you can't help but love the bat. 

Jose Abreu:  1/5 with his 30th HR while hitting .266.  At the very least you know there are 10 more home runs still to come here. 

C.C. Sabathia:  5.2 IP 4 H 1 ER 3 BB 12 K with an ERA of 3.49.  Talk about taking a trip down pitching ace memory lane.

Manuel Margot:  3/5 with his 5th HR while hitting .258.  Strike while the iron is hot here. 

Jesus Aguilar:  1/4 with his 27th HR while hitting .273.  Like with Max Muncy, Aguilar has hit a run since the All-Star Break so you wonder if opposing pitching has adjusted.

Mike Montgomery:  6 IP 5 H 0 ER 2 BB 4 K with an ERA of 3.66.  To the guy who asked me who to stream yesterday, your very welcome. 

Starling Marte:  2/5 with his 17th HR while hitting .284.  So jealous of all Marte owners this season.

Jameson Taillon:  9 IP 10 H 2 ER 1 BB 3 K with an ERA of 3.63.  We have reached a point with Taillon now where you wonder if this is as good as it gets or if we will see another level of production. 

Nick Pivetta:  6 IP 5 H 0 ER 1 BB 6 K with an ERA of 4.51.  Sorry bro you got passed by Zach Eflin. 



Tuesday, August 7, 2018

2018 FANTASY BASEBALL CLOSING TIME: KYLE BARRACLOGH ON THE BRINK

Maybe the Miami Marlins should have traded closer Kyle Barraclough while they had the chance.  While a slew of closers were sent packing to new teams over the last few weeks, the Marlins decided to hang onto the hard-throwing Barraclough at the July 31 trade deadline given his youth and possible standing as the team's ninth-inning man both now and into the future.  Well Barraclough may have only needed a week since the deadline to literally throw away the gig as his recent massive slump has gotten to the point where manager Don Mattingly refused to say whether or not he would get the next save chance by the team.  With the Marlins having already dealt with the simply brutal closing performance of Brad Ziegler earlier in the season, the hope was that Barraclough would be up to the task as the team's stopper.  After a decent start once given the chance, Barraclough has gone completely backward of late as he has given up a staggering 11 earned runs in his last 3.2 IP.  During that beyond ugly span, Barraclough's ERA has gone from a sparkling 1.45 to a blown up 3.45.  Having given up a run in just .1 IP Monday night, Mattingly may now look to setup man Drew Steckenrider who has tossed scoreless appearances in 7 of his last 8 outings.  While Steckenrider's ratios of a 3.41 ERA and 1.28 WHIP are not dominant by any means, he does have 56 Kin 50 IP which is closer-worthy and like we said, he has done his best work of late.  So all Barraclough owners need to grab Steckenrider if he is available as it looks like another changing of the guard could be taking place when it comes to the Miami closing hierarchy.  


2018 FANTASY FOOTBALL DRAFT BUST: JARVIS LANDRY WR CLEVELAND BROWNS

Jarvis Landry got paid after leading the NFL in receptions last season.  Now he will be a potentially big 2018 fantasy football bust.  Say what?  Hear us out here because even those who take part in PPR formats need to understand the risk Landry brings to the fantasy football table as he embarks on his first go-round with the Cleveland Browns after the Miami Dolphins traded him up north over the winter.  Now in terms of Landry's tenure with Miami, there was a ton of receptions as he caught 84 balls as a rookie and the proceeded to reel off totals of 110, 94, and 113 the last three seasons after that.  PPR gold to say the least but through all those catches, Landry also revealed some red flags.  The first would be that despite all of those catches, only once in four seasons did Landry grab more than 5 touchdowns (that was the 9 he had a year ago) and his yards per catch averages always left a lot to be desired.  So on those issues alone, Landry fell back to WR 3 status in standard leagues and a moderate WR 2 in PPR.

Adding to the problems we talked about above, Landry now heads to a Cleveland Browns team that has the limited Tyrod Taylor at quarterback.  So while Taylor has decent skills and showed last season he can take a team to the playoffs, his pure passing leaves a lot to be desired and the magical statistic here is that he has ranked 31st, 32nd, and 32st in the entire NFL in passing attempts the last three years.  That means Landry will have an almost impossible time making a run at another 100 catches and even 90 could be a stretch.  Then when you add in the presence of Josh Gordon, Duke Johnson, and David Njoku as very capable receiving compliments, Landry should have an even tougher time getting the catches to pile up.  A run-heavy Browns unit in the rough November-December weather is not conducive to catching a lot of balls as well.  Combine everything together and Landry looks like a bust waiting to happen in terms of the fact he is being drafted with his Miami numbers in mind.  As a result, do yourself a favor and take a pass here unless Landry can be had for only a WR 3 cost.

2018 PROJECTION:  86 receptions 905 yards 5 TD  


Monday, August 6, 2018

2018 FANTASY FOOTBALL WIDE RECEIVERS I WILL TARGET

Wide receiver and running back remain the positions to stock up on in the first 3-4 rounds of your annual fantasy football draft at the very least and these are the guys I will target this summer:

Antonio Brown, DeAndre Hopkins, Odell Beckham Jr:  I group these three together as I would target any of them if I picked in the second half of Round 1.  The first six picks should all be running backs in my mind (Gurley, Bell, Johnson, Elliott, Hunt, Kamara) and then the wideouts come into view.  These three should all be in play and be picked by the end of Round 1.

Julio Jones, Keenan Allen, Michael Thomas, Davante Adams:  I am also in on all four of these guys in Round 2.  Each of them will serve as the target hog of their QB's in their respective offenses and thus be in line for big WR 1 numbers.  Only Adams is a bit speculative since he has not gotten those numbers before but being the top guy in an Aaron Rodgers offense is the place to be.

A.J. Green:  Been dealing with more injuries lately and 2017 was a bit of a letdown by Green should get more help with the healthy returns of John Ross and Tyler Eifert. 

Larry Fitzgerald:  Now working on three straight 100-catch seasons and always possessing big durability, Fitz is on my radar in the PPR Experts League.

Adam Thielen/Stefon Diggs:  I put these two together as they obviously are teammates and will now get the gift of Kirk Cousins arriving at QB.  Not sure why but I get the sneaking suspicion it will be Diggs and not Thielen who will emerge as Cousins' top guy.

Golden Tate:  A slightly discounted version of Larry Fitzgerald but really the same kind of player.

Demaryuis Thomas/Emmanuel Sanders:  Like with Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs, both Thomas and Sanders get a QB upgrade with Case Keenum arriving in Denver.  Thomas will reportedly move all around the field this season and moving back to WR 1 at the age of 30 is very much in play. 

Chris Hogan:  With Julian Edelman serving a four-game suspension to begin the year, Hogan should benefit immensely being the new top target of QB Tom Brady.  Also keep in mind that Hogan was terrific the first two months of 2017 before getting hurt. 

Brandin Cooks:  The general feeling among the fantasy football community when it comes to Brandin Cooks is "been there, done that" and they are moving away from him as a whole.  I understand that Cooks is very frustrating to own given his week-to-week inconsistency but give me as many Sean McVay offensive weapons as I can get.

Danny Amendola:  We know he can't stay completely healthy but Amendola should be a big PPR weapon when on the field for the Miami Dolphins.

Jamison Crowder:  It is a proven fact that veteran QB Alex Smith loves to check down to his slot receivers and so that puts Crowder in the driver's seat for an 80-plus catch season. 

Marquise Goodwin:  Yes, Pierre Garcon is back but Jimmy Garoppolo really developed a major rapport with Goodwin the second half of 2017 and  that should continue forward this season. 

Randall Cobb:  Now the clear number 2 wideout in the Green Bay offense, Cobb was actually playing very well before he got hurt again last season.  Injuries remain a problem but Cobb is still just 28 and has proven he can be very good in the past. 

Michael Gallup:  Someone has to catch passes in Dallas this season and this rookie has a prime chance to be the top guy for the Cowboys when Dak Prescott throws it. 


2018 FANTASY BASEBALL WRAPUP: SUNDAY

Jose Ramirez:  1/2 with his 33rd HR while hitting .300.  More proof that a lagging average on an established .300 hitter means nothing even at the end of April. 

Shane Bieber:  5.2 IP 7 H 2 ER 1 BB 7 K with an ERA of 4.58.  Bieber looks interesting to me next spring. 

Nick Markakis:  4/5 with his 13th HR while hitting .319.  Yeah, I wouldn't have picked Markakis to be a prime batting title guy this season. 

Ender Inciarte:  3/4 with his 7th HR while hitting .253.  Still think Inciarte got a raw deal being removed from the leadoff spot.  Neutered what could have been a tremendous season. 

Devin Mesoraco:  1/4 with his 9th HR while hitting .226.  This is the last season I will ever have a modicum of interest in Mesoraco. 

Avisail Garcia:  2/4 with 2 home runs (13 for season) while hitting .269.  OF 3 status seems cemented for good now. 

Tanner  Roark:  7 IP 7 H 1 ER 0 BB 2 K with an ERA of 4.21.  Roark has been incredibly volatile with his numbers from year-to-year so good luck trying to figure out where your March investment will go. 

Derek Dietrich:  2/5 with his 14th HR while hitting .280.  Surprised no one traded for Dietrich who is having a career-year and can play anywhere.  Nice for him as well that he will no longer be known just for fighting with Tino Martinez. 

Justin Bour:  1/4 with his 19th HR while hitting .225.  Bour can be plugged in again as your CI or UTIL guy in deeper leagues since the home runs are starting to go out consistently again. 

Asdrubal Cabrera:  1/4 with his 20th HR while hitting .271.  Certainly didn't see 30 home runs coming from this corner. 

Matt Carpenter:  1/5 with his 29th HR while hitting .282.  I know it is working splendidly but maybe the Cards should think about moving Carpenter down a bit in the order to capitalize on the extreme pop. 

Jack Flaherty:  6 IP 3 H 0 ER 1 BB 7 K with an ERA of 3.27.  The WHIP is 1.10 as Flaherty now seems here to stay as a member of the Cards rotation and he hints at heights that could go as high as an SP 2.

Nolan Arenado:  3/5 with his 29th HR while hitting .306.  Nothing has changed here from this first-round monster.  As dependable as you can get in all of fantasy baseball.

Trevor Story:  1/6 with his 24th HR while hitting .288.  I didn't have much interest in Story this season given his contact problems but like power pitchers who just have to reign in walks, the guy is achieving overnight stardom just by cutting down on the K's. 

Travis Shaw:  2/5 with his 22nd HR while hitting .246.  Shaw is in the midst of his own scorching hot streak of the season but the average has simply not come around.  When you have lumbering speed like Shaw, it becomes that much harder to overcome early BABIP problems. 

Jon Gray:  8 IP 4 H 1 ER 2 BB 8 K with an ERA of 4.73.  I mean this is getting crazy now with Gray since coming back from the minors to "clear his head."  You just know that the moment you get the courage to use him again though, he will get bombed.

Whit Merrifield:  4/5 with his 7th HR while hitting .307.  With second base suddenly exploding with top-shelf talent, Merrifield should slip through the draft cracks again next spring as a tremendous value play where you can get a bunch of your team steals.

Lucas Duda:  1/4 with his 10th HR and first SB while hitting .235.  Even the slowest player in the majors can have a HR/SB game at least once in his career.

Jon Lester:  5 ER in 5 IP with an ERA of 3.44.  WHIP is up to 1.29.  You can't even start Lester right now and I couldn't have been more accurate with my assessment that he would fall apart after the break.  His arm only has a three month window at this stage of Lester's career.

Javier Baez:  2/5 with his 24th HR while hitting .300.  Throw Baez right in there with Trevor Story as previously flawed top prospects who have now put it all together in a spectacular 2018. 

Jonathan Villar:  3/3 with his 7th HR while hitting .274.  Villar batted third and is in a great spot now on a rebuilding Orioles team who will look to him for offense the rest of the way.  Pick him up if dropped. 

Mark Trumbo:  3/4 with 2 home runs (15 for season) while hitting .262.  Sluggers like Trumbo on a brutal MLB team will continue to swing for the fences so there will be a lot more home runs where this came from. 

Khris Davis:  1/4 with his 31st HR while hitting .253.  Davis is showing up with a homer every other game now or for the past few days, every game.

Matt Olson:  2/4 with his 22nd HR while hitting .240.  It is amazing how many players like this are around fantasy baseball these days.

Matt Chapman:  1/3 with his 15th HR while hitting .271.  Enjoy the .271 because Chapman is not staying there. 

Trevor Cahill:  6 IP 3 H 0 Er 1 BB 10 K with an ERA of 3.12.  This has been among my best waiver recommendations this season as Cahill has been unhittable at times and really is taking to starting since getting stretched out last season.  Also, the time he has spent on the DL this season means he should be strong the rest of the way.

Nelson Cruz:  2/4 with his 29th HR while hitting .267.  Back to 40 home runs we go. 

Kyle Seager:  2/4 with 2 home runs (18 for season) while hitting .231.  My old friend is not of use to me anymore now that the average went into the gutter this season.